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Meet Jared Holt, the guy who's getting Alex Jones kicked off the internet | Salon.com
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 16:12
Alex Jones is having a rough week. The Texas-based conspiracy theorist and head of the disturbingly popular Infowars media empire has been banned in rapid succession from a variety of platforms, including Apple, YouTube, Facebook and Spotify.
To many casual news consumers, the purge seems sudden. Jones has been peddling mean-spirited hoaxes for years, including 9/11 "truther" nonsense, false accusations of pedophilia aimed at a broad set of targets (including special counsel Robert Mueller), and hyping the idea that the bereaved parents of kids killed in the Sandy Hook massacre are fakers '-- the latter of which has led to a defamation lawsuit that could cost the Infowars host millions of dollars. So why now?
The timing isn't random. In recent weeks, a group of progressive activists has dialed up efforts to pressure these distribution platforms to drop Infowars. That pressure, which comes at a time when court proceedings against Jones have finally begun in earnest, created the momentum that led to this decision. This has been mentioned in passing in much of the coverage, but these folks deserve much more credit and recognition for the work they've been doing in trying to fight right-wing disinformation campaigns.
Salon spoke recently with Jared Holt, a researcher from Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way. Holt's work has been instrumental in getting social media and other internet platforms to give Infowars the boot. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
I follow you on Twitter and noticed that you seemed to be spearheading the effort to kick Alex Jones off Spotify. Am I right in this assumption?
I first brought attention to the fact that Spotify was hosting Infowars' programming and tweeted about it. That was amplified by the progressive group Sleeping Giants, which brought it into the national attention, from my relatively niche Twitter account. People were upset and threatened to boycott Spotify. That got the attention of reporters who asked Spotify about it. Then I also wrote an article laying out the case for why Infowars clearly violates Spotify's own hosting rules.
Why did you decide to target Spotify? Alex Jones is being distributed all over, as we've come to realize.
I'm not sure it was really a calculated effort. I use Spotify to listen to music while I work. I noticed they had a podcast section, so I was looking through that. When I found Infowars, I was surprised -- mostly because of my own experience as someone who has a podcast, aside from my work with Right Wing Watch. I experienced a personal struggle to get Spotify to list my own podcast.
I guess I was a little bit offended that Alex Jones was able to get on the air and I wasn't.
Did Spotify respond to your complaints directly?
No. I reached out to Spotify for comments on my original stories about the ways that Infowars violates the terms of service. Although I was the first person, to my knowledge, to ask them about this, they never responded to me.
It seems like there was a snowball effect that took place after this happened. Jones got booted one outlet and then the rest followed, stampede-style. Why was this the tipping point?
For a long time, people have been frustrated, particularly with Facebook and YouTube hosting Infowars. Those sites nearly broke their backs to come up with reasons why Infowars should be exempt from the same user policy enacted on everybody else that uses the platform.
Maybe adding Spotify and Apple to this discussion underlined exactly how legitimate the concerns of the people who were upset by this were.
Why do you think Facebook resisted kicking Jones off for so long?
To be just totally blunt, I think Facebook was afraid to take action.
Ever since the internet began, there's been the existential question over how much responsibility platforms have for the content that its users generate. The internet started as a radical experiment in free speech, and I think early on, we saw the benefits of that more clearly. I'm thinking back to events like the Arab Spring and that sort of stuff, to see what a free and open internet could do for democracy at large and on the world stage.
But over the past couple of years, we've experienced the negative effects. We were spoiled by the good before we saw the ugly. I think because of that, there is sort of a fear -- not just at Facebook, but with other tech companies as well -- that restricting pages gets attention.
They also would be subject to backlash from millions of people who keep up with Infowars and support Infowars.
You work at Right Wing Watch and People for the American Way by tracking right-wing misinformation sites. Why is it so important to go after these guys? What danger do they present to the public?
It's in the name of Infowars. It's not an attempt at legitimate reporting. It's a, quote, "war" for your mind.
Unfortunately, their war for the American mind is to stuff it full of conspiracy theories. That ultimately debases people from reality and polarizes them to the extremes of right-wing politics. Historically, we've seen that can be very harmful for the vision of America as a free and open democracy.
I think it's important to realize that people like Alex Jones are using these platforms in bad faith.
Mark Zuckerberg gave an interview recently that went viral because he brought up Holocaust denial and suggested that one problem with kicking out conspiracy theorists is that while they're wrong, they're arguing in good faith and believe the things they say.
You've been following Infowars for a long time and researching them. So I guess I want to ask you bluntly: Do you think Alex Jones is just pretending to believe this crap, or does he really believe it?
I think Alex Jones is probably caught in his own feedback loop at this point. I think he believes in the classic right-wing conspiracy theory, this idea that "globalists" are working to subvert Western culture.
Through the audience and the reward system he's built for himself at Infowars throughout the years, he has an incentive, resulting directly to his pocketbook, to give his audience the red meat.
I think I can't peer into Alex Jones' brain and tell you 100 percent whether or not he believes in all of this. But he definitely has a financial reward system, and I guess an audience, that provides motivation for him behaving the way he does on air.
READ MORE: Right-wing talk show host Joe Walsh tells Salon: Donald Trump "betrayed his country"
What role do you think the Sandy Hook lawsuit plays in all this? Do you think that now that lawyers are involved, that might change the equations for the social media networks, Spotify, and other places?
These lawsuits have been ongoing against Alex Jones for a while, and these social networks didn't seem to really care. I do imagine that the fact Alex Jones is being sued in court for things he said and transmitted through their platforms adds to the outrage that users and activists are feeling.
How does it feel, after all this work you've been doing, to finally see Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, all these places, finally turn on Infowars?
Ultimately, what I want to see is something that we haven't really witnessed from these social media giants, which is consistent and clear enforcement of their own guidelines.
Facebook and YouTube had a lot to say after the election about these efforts that they were supposedly going to make to counter fake news and misinformation on their platforms. But they ignored Infowars, which is one of the most pronounced symptoms of the problem.
It's reassuring to see them finally take action. I think it's a little unfortunate that it took a public outrage campaign to do it, but ultimately I think it's a step in the right direction. I hope these platforms realize that the problem is bigger than Infowars and that users are counting on them to follow through with the promises they made to counter this kind of misinformation.
"Former presidents of PFAW include Tony Podesta and Ralph Neas. "
"Major donors to PFAW include George Soros' Open Society Institute, the Miriam G. and Ira D. Wallach Foundation, the Bauman Foundation, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. "
Boards of Directors | People For the American Way
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 16:25
People For the American Way Board of DirectorsLara Bergthold '-- Chair Norman Lear, Founding ChairDavid AltschulJames A. AutryAlec BaldwinMehrsa BaradaranDr. Arthur J. BellinzoniThe Hon. Mary Frances BerryBertis DownsGreg FrezadosThe Hon. James C. HormelDolores HuertaBarbara JacobsMichael KeeganKhizr KhanHoward KleinJane LynchSeth MacFarlaneRev. Timothy McDonaldYolanda ParkerDeborah RappaportJoshua SapanCarole ShieldsDavid S. Rose (Emeritus)Lois StainmanMargery TabankinReg WeaverGeraldine Day Zurn
People For the American Way Foundation Board of DirectorsRev. Timothy McDonald '-- ChairNorman Lear, Founding ChairDavid AltschulJames A. AutryThe Hon. Nicole AvantAlec BaldwinArthur BellinzoniThe Hon. Mary Frances BerryBarbara Bluhm-KaulDavid BowenBertis DownsRonald FeldmanWill HalmJoan HarrisMichael KeeganKhizr KhanKevin KillerJames LovelaceDeborah RappaportDavid S. Rose (Emeritus)Joshua SapanRabbi David SapersteinRene SpellmanMargery TabankinKathleen TurnerReg WeaverCarrie Mae WeemsMelvin WilsonGeraldine Day Zurn
People For the American Way
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 16:19
We are People For the American WayFor more than three decades, we've been working with over one million members and activists to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values under attack. Today, our mission is more critical than ever.Read MoreSign up for email updates from People For the American WayThank you!
Protect the Mueller InvestigationAs the right-wing ramps up its attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller, activists prepare to push back and protect the investigation.
Take actionRight Wing WatchRight Wing Watch is a project of People For the American Way dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities and rhetoric of right-wing activists and organizations. By shedding light on the activities of the Right Wing, we help expose the risks of its extreme and intolerant agenda.
Visit Right Wing WatchHelp us make the promise of America real for every AmericanDonate to PFAW
Senate Democrats Are Circulating Plans for Government Takeover of the Internet: Reason Roundup - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 13:20
Douglas Christian/ZUMA Press/Newscom All your base are belong to us. A leaked memo circulating among Senate Democrats contains a host of bonkers authoritarian proposals for regulating digital platforms, purportedly as a way to get tough on Russian bots and fake news. To save American trust in "our institutions, democracy, free press, and markets," it suggests, we need unprecedented and undemocratic government intervention into online press and markets, including "comprehensive (GDPR-like) data protection legislation" of the sort enacted in the E.U.
Titled "Potential Policy Proposals for Regulation of Social Media and Technology Firms," the draft policy paper'--penned by Sen. Mark Warner and leaked by an unknown source to Axios'--the paper starts out by noting that Russians have long spread disinformation, including when "the Soviets tried to spread 'fake news' denigrating Martin Luther King" (here he fails to mention that the Americans in charge at the time did the same). But NOW IT'S DIFFERENT, because technology.
"Today's tools seem almost built for Russian disinformation techniques," Warner opines. And the ones to come, he assures us, will be even worse.
Here's how Warner is suggesting we deal:
Mandatory location verification. The paper suggests forcing social media platforms to authenticate and disclose the geographic origin of all user accounts or posts.
Mandatory identity verification: The paper suggests forcing social media and tech platforms to authenticate user identities and only allow "authentic" accounts ("inauthentic accounts not only pose threats to our democratic process...but undermine the integrity of digital markets"), with "failure to appropriately address inauthentic account activity" punishable as "a violation of both SEC disclosure rules and/or Section 5 of the [Federal Trade Commission] Act."
Bot labeling: Warner's paper suggests forcing companies to somehow label bots or be penalized (no word from Warner on how this is remotely feasible)
Define popular tech as "essential facilities." These would be subject to all sorts of heightened rules and controls, says the paper, offering Google Maps as an example of the kinds of apps or platforms that might count. "The law would not mandate that a dominant provider offer the serve for free," writes Warner. "Rather, it would be required to offer it on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms" provided by the government.
Other proposals include more disclosure requirements for online political speech, more spending to counter supposed cybersecurity threats, more funding for the Federal Trade Commission, a requirement that companies' algorithms can be audited by the feds (and this data shared with universities and others), and a requirement of "interoperability between dominant platforms."
The paper also suggests making it a rule that tech platforms above a certain size must turn over internal data and processes to "independent public interest researchers" so they can identify potential "public health/addiction effects, anticompetitive behavior, radicalization," scams, "user propagated misinformation," and harassment'--data that could be used to "inform actions by regulators or Congress."
And'--of course'-- these include further revisions to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, recently amended by Congress to exclude protections for prostitution-related content. A revision to Section 230 could provide the ability for users to demand takedowns of certain sorts of content and hold platforms liable if they don't abide, it says, while admitting that "attempting to distinguish between true disinformation and legitimate satire could prove difficult."
"The proposals in the paper are wide ranging and in some cases even politically impossible, and raise almost as many questions as they try to answer," suggested Mathew Ingram, putting it very mildly at the Columbia Journalism Review.
FREE MINDS Total newsroom employment in the US is down 23 percent from 2008 to 2017, from 114,000 newsroom staffers to 88,000. https://t.co/wIKCt6IQqf
'-- Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) July 31, 2018 FREE MARKETS Telemedicine abortion test sanctioned by FDA. "A nonprofit group is testing whether it's safe to let women take abortion pills in their own homes after taking screening tests and consulting with a doctor on their phones or computers," notes Politico.
The group, called Gynuity Health Projects, is carrying out the trial in five states that already allow virtual doctors to oversee administration of the abortion pill, and may expand to others. If the trial proves that allowing women to take the pill at home is safe'--under a virtual doctor's supervision'--the group hopes the FDA could eventually loosen restrictions to allow women to take pills mailed to them after the consult.
If FDA took that step, it could even help women in states with restrictive abortion laws get around them, potentially blurring the strict boundaries between abortion laws in different states if'--as is likely'--the Senate confirms a high court justice who is open to further limits on Roe.
Meanwhile, a rapidly increasing number of state attorneys general are suing over whether its safe to let people print guns in their own homes, after the group Defense Distributed posting of 3D-printed gun plans online.
QUICK HITS .@foxandfriends playing a clip of Limbaugh this morning egging on Trump's threat to shut down the government over wall funding: "Trump is showing he is not afraid of a government shutdown which, believe me, the base of this party loves... The Republican base is Trump's now." https://t.co/QOW6FKGq46
'-- Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) July 31, 2018Civil rights activist and former judge Faya Rose Tour(C), 73, "is facing charges of fourth-degree theft and attempting to elude a police officer after she led cops on a four-block chase through the city," reports The Appeal. "Tour(C) was the first Black female judge in Alabama and founder of the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma."The publisher of an upcoming book by renowned journalist Bob Woodward is promising that it "reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump's White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies.""As a person seeking 'substantive change,' [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] insisted, she was bound to be told 'you're crazy' or 'you don't know anything,'" writes Charles C.W. Cooke. "Perhaps she was. But do you know who else is told they're crazy and don't know anything? Crazy people who don't know anything."A former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel department is under investigation for allegedly hiring "college friends and women he encountered on online dating sites, and then, he is accused of transferring some of those women into departments where his friends worked, so that his friends could have sex with them."
Instagram is becoming home shopping Lisa Rina Amazon should be doing this
Twitter apologizes to Candace Owens after briefly locking her account
Mon, 06 Aug 2018 01:08
| August 05, 2018 01:06 PM
| Updated Aug 05, 2018, 03:06 PM
In a pair of tweets, Kirk said Owens "allegedly violated Twitter terms in service" after she copied tweets from Sarah Jeong, the latest addition to the New York Times' editorial board.Conservative commentator Candace Owens received an apology from Twitter on Sunday after her account was locked following reports of violations of the social media platform's rules.
In a brief email shared by Owens on Sunday, Twitter Support said it had restored her account. "BLOWN AWAY by the amount of patriots that just came to my side to make this happen," Owens tweeted.
Earlier in the morning, Charlie Kirk said that his fellow Turning Point USA colleague received a 12-hour suspension on Twitter because of a "double standard" against conservatives.
Kirk said Owens "allegedly violated Twitter terms in service" after she copied tweets from Sarah Jeong, the latest addition to the New York Times' editorial board.
"[S]he got banned by COPYING [Jeong] tweets and replacing ''white'' with ''black'' and then [Twitter] bans her for 12 hours," Kirk said.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
On Saturday, Owens called attention to racially charged tweets Jeong sent in years past for which she has come under fire in recent days. Owens, who is black, tweeted out the text of one of those tweets, swapping out the word "white" for "black."
"Black people are only fit to live underground like groveling goblins. They have stopped breeding and will all go extinct soon. I enjoy being cruel to old black women," she tweeted.
"No matter which way you slice it, [Jeong] is a racist. It is ABHORRENT that the failing [New York Times] has decided to stand by her," Owens added in a follow-up tweet. "Hoping for the extermination of ANY race, is indefensible behavior."
Owens also appeared to do a similar swap, replacing "white" with "Jewish." However, that tweet appears to have been deleted, though users shared screenshots of the tweet.
Several right-wing figures on Twitter accused Twitter of espousing a double standard, arguing that the platform didn't censor Jeong in the same way.
Amid backlash, the Times put out a statement last week saying it stood by Jeong, noting that at the time she had been responding to harassment online for being a young Asian woman "by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers." The statement from the Times also said that such rhetoric from Jeong won't be acceptable moving forward.
Kirk's accusation against Twitter for treating conservatives unfairly comes after the social media platform is rebounding from a "shadow banning" fiasco in which conservative figures temporarily suffered decreased the visibility as their accounts did not show up on the auto-populated drop-down search box.
Last week, Twitter issued a 12-hour suspension to GOP Missouri Senate candidate Austin Petersen for "abusive behavior."
California Judge Rules Twitter CAN Be Sued for Falsely Advertising Free Speech | Breitbart
Mon, 06 Aug 2018 01:13
A California judge has ruled that Twitter's policy of banning users ''at any time, for any reason or for no reason'' may constitute an ''unconscionable contract'', and that a lawsuit against the company brought by self-described ''white advocate'' Jared Taylor may proceed on that basis.The judge rejected Twitter's motion to dismiss the lawsuit from Taylor, who was banned by the platform in December last year.
In particular, Twitter's argument that it has a first amendment right to ban whoever it likes from its platform, for whatever reason was rejected.
The judge ruled that Twitter's belief that it had a right to ban users ''at any time, for any reason, or no reason'' could be a legally unconscionable policy on the company's part.
The judge also ruled that Twitter could be sued on the basis of misleading its users, due to the platform's promise '' frequently expressed, frequently violated '' not to ban accounts on the basis of viewpoint or political affiliation.
''This ruling has massive implications for the platform going forward,'' said Noah Peters, Jared Taylor's lawyer. ''this is the first time that a social media company's argument that it can censor user speech has been rejected by a court.''
Taylor describes himself as a ''race realist'' and has in defended white separatism, claiming that races are ''not equal'', but his attorney says this trial is not about his client's particular views.
''Our lawsuit is not about whether Taylor is right or wrong,'' Peters said in February. ''It's about whether Twitter and other technology companies have the right to ban individuals from using their services based on their perceived viewpoints and affiliations.''
Twitter is one of the worst offenders in big tech when it comes to censoring conservative accounts. Leading voices on the right, like Islam critic Tommy Robinson, have been banned from the platform merely for pointing out facts.
Twitter employees have also been caught on camera boasting about their actions to keep conservatives and Trump supporters off the platform.
One employee discussed shadowbanning political accounts, a practice that Twitter has continually denied using, while another claimed that accounts that expressed an interest in ''god, guns, and America'' were likely to be flagged as ''bots.'' Another employee, Mo Norai, explained that Twitter moderators regularly discriminated against accounts deemed to be pro-Trump.
Twitter's double standards can be seen in the way it handles complaints of abuse against conservatives and individuals linked to conservatives. When the daughters of Islam critic Pamela Geller were bombarded with abuse earlier this year, Twitter did nothing. In fact, some of the abusive tweets remain on the site, undeleted.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter, Gab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
YouTube, Facebook Join Apple in Removing Alex Jones Accounts | Hollywood Reporter
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 13:53
9:10 PM PDT 8/5/2018 by Natalie Jarvey
InfoWars did not respond to a request for comment, but Jones tweeted on Monday that he'd been "banned completely" from Facebook, Apple and Spotify, adding that "the one platform that they can't ban" is the InfoWars website, where it hosts a series of shows and live streams.Several tech platforms are cracking down on Alex Jones' InfoWars.
Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify have all removed content produced by Jones and his right-wing media brand within the last day.
It all started on Sunday night when Apple removed five InfoWars podcasts from its iTunes online marketplace. The podcasts, which include the Jones-hosted War Room, are no longer available via iTunes or Apple's podcasting app. Only one InfoWars podcast is still available, and that is Real News With David Knight, a three-hour radio show that broadcasts on weekday mornings.
An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the decision with a statement that says the company "does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users." The statement continued by noting that podcasts that violate those guidelines are removed from the directory, which means they will no longer be searchable or available to download or stream. "We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions," the statement concludes.
The decision by Apple to remove the podcasts from its search is an especially big hit for Jones because of Apple's dominance in the podcasting space. The iPhone maker did not host the shows, but listed them in its directory.
Following Apple's decision, Spotify and Facebook both took new action against Jones and his right-wing media brand, which is known for spreading conspiracy theories. Facebook, which had previously suspended Jones' personal page for violating its policies, said early Aug. 6 that it had removed four pages belonging to Jones "for repeatedly posting content over the past several days that breaks" its community standards. Per a Facebook blog post, Facebook first removed four videos from four pages '-- the Alex Jones Channel page, the Alex Jones page, the InfoWars page and the InfoWars Nightly News page '-- for violating its hate speech and bullying policies. It then suspended Jones for 30 days for his role in posting the content. Now, the four pages have been unpublished "for repeated violations" of the community standards, including glorifying violence and using "dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants." Facebook specifically noted that "while much of the discussion around InfoWars has been related to false news ... none of the violations that spurred today's removals were related to this."
Overnight Spotify also removed the Alex Jones Show from its site, which followed an earlier decision to remove specific episodes of Jones' podcast for hateful content. The decision to take down the podcast fully followed a review of the content over the weekend that determined there were enough violations to warrant removal.
Later on Monday morning, YouTube terminated the Alex Jones channel, which had more than 2 million subscribers. Google-owned YouTube previously had removed some of the media personality's videos and had issued strikes against his channel, but had not gone as far as banning the channel from its platform. A ban finally occurred because Jones, whose channel had been issued a strike on July 24 and was suspended from live streaming for 90 days, tried to circumvent the restriction and promote live streaming from other channels.
"All users agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube," a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement. "When users violate these policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts."
Twitter is the only major platform not to have banned Jones. A company spokesman said Monday that InfoWars and its associated accounts do not currently violate its rules. If future content were to violate the rules, the company would review it and take action.
BuzzFeed News first reported on the removal of the podcasts from Apple. InfoWars did not respond to a request for comment, but Jones tweeted on Monday that he'd been "banned completely" from Facebook, Apple and Spotify, adding that "the one platform that they can't ban" is the InfoWars website, where it hosts a series of shows and live streams.
Aug. 5, 9:35 p.m. Updated with Apple's statement.
Aug. 6, 7:45 a.m. Updated with additional information about Facebook and Spotify's subsequent removal of Alex Jones and InfoWars content from their platforms.
9:20 a.m. Updated with YouTube's statement.
1:10 p.m. Updated with Twitter's response.
Hate Speech - Definition, Examples, Cases
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 16:05
Hate speech is talk that attacks an individual or a specific group based on a protected attribute such as the target's sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability, color, or country of origin. Some countries consider hate speech to be a crime, because it encourages discrimination, intimidation, and violence toward the group or individual being targeted.
Hate speech has been a topic of debate for those who argue that any attempt to curtail someone's expression of ideas amounts to an infringement on his or her constitutionally protected freedom of speech. Others counter that hate speech does nothing but fuel the flames of violence and brutality. To explore this concept, consider the following hate speech definition.
Definition of Hate SpeechNoun
Speech that is intended to offend, insult, intimidate, or threaten an individual or group based on a trait or attribute, such as sexual orientation, religion, color, gender, or disability.What is Hate SpeechHate speech is spoken words that are offensive, insulting, and/or threatening to an individual or group based on a particular attribute of that person or persons being targeted. Targeted attributes include such traits as ethnic background, sexual orientation, race, or disability, though there are other target attributes. In the U.S., another term for hate speech is ''fighting words,'' as such talk is likely to provoke an otherwise reasonable person into acting rashly against speaker doing the provoking.
Unfortunately, defending freedom of speech means defending any and all speech equally, even that which may be regarded as unbearably offensive. Examples of hate speech include name-calling and racial slurs, though occasionally symbols like the swastika and burning crosses are called into question as to whether or not they are truly examples of hate speech, or if they are nothing more than symbols that are given a negative connotation from the situation in which they are used.
Hate Speech vs. Free SpeechModern times have seen Americans staunchly protective of their First Amendment right to free speech, believing that the government should only intervene in extreme cases, and just as many people wondering where free speech stops and hate speech begins. On the other hand, ''fighting words'' are, according to many, a good reason for the government to get involved and place a limit on how far someone can go with their speech.
In the debate over hate speech vs. free speech, many Americans express a concern that the number-one priority should be the well-being of the community, and that a person's right to freedom of speech can and should be limited, if it poses a threat to that community's well-being.
Hate Speech Laws in Other CountriesWith the advent of social media, the issue of offensive and threatening speech has become a global problem. Just as the U.S. is struggling to determine where free speech goes too far, hate speech laws in other countries are evolving. Examples of hate speech laws in other countries include:
Japan '' Japan's laws protect its citizens from threats and slander. However, derogatory comments directed at general groups of individuals remain unrestricted in Japan. Despite global calls for hate speech to be criminalized, Japan claims that hate speech has never reached such a point as to warrant legal action.United Kingdom '' Hate speech is widely criminalized in the U.K. Communications that are abusive, threatening, or insulting, or which target someone based on his race, religion, sexual orientation, or other attribute, are forbidden. Penalties for hate speech in the U.K. include fines and imprisonment.Sweden '' Hate speech, defined as public statements made to threaten or disrespect groups based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or skin color, is prohibited in Sweden. Constitutional restrictions determine which acts are and are not criminal, as do limits imposed by the European Convention on Human Rights.Ireland '' While Ireland's constitution guarantees the right to free speech, there is an understanding that freedom of expression will not be abused to ''undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.'' Further, the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 defines threatening or abusive speech or behavior as that which is likely to inspire hatred against a group of individuals based on their race, color, religion, or other attribute.India '' While freedom of speech and expression are protected under India's constitution, ''reasonable restrictions'' can be imposed in order to maintain the ''sovereignty and integrity of India,'' as well as the country's safety and its relations with other countries. Freedom of speech and expression may also come under fire in India with regard to offenses such as contempt of court, and defamation.Canada '' Advocating for genocide in Canada against any ''identifiable group'' (any group that can be identified by their race, religion, sexual orientation, or other attribute) is a criminal offense that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, with no minimum sentence. It is also a criminal offense to provoke hatred against an identifiable groupHate Speech Examples in Legal CasesThere are several hate speech examples in legal cases over the years that have dealt squarely with the issue of whether or not the accused's right to freedom of speech had been violated. A few of these landmark cases are outlined below.
Criminal Charges Enhanced by Hate SpeechIn October of 1989, a group of young black men were hanging out in front of their apartment complex, discussing the movie Mississippi Burning, in which a number of black people are beaten. As a young white boy walked past the complex, and Todd Mitchell, one of the group, called out ''Do you all feel hyped up to move on some white people?'' then said, ''There goes a white boy; go get him!'' and led his friends in an attack on the boy. The black men stole the boy's tennis shoes, and beat him so badly that he was in a coma for four days.
Mitchell was convicted on charges of aggravated battery in the Circuit Court, but because the jury ruled he had chosen the victim based solely on race, the crime was elevated to the level of a hate crime. In this case, Mitchell's words were intended to incite violence against a person, based on a trait or attribute '' his race. Although Mitchell appealed his conviction, claiming the conviction violated his right to free speech.
The question of constitutionality in this case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993, which held that the First Amendment does not bar the use of a person's speech as evidence to establish elements of a crime. In fact, such evidence is commonly used to prove a defendant's intent or motive, as well as to determine relevancy of certain evidence, or reliability of a witness' testimony. The crime in Mitchell's case was aggravated battery, not the words that he spoke, which provoked his companions to engage in the crime. Therefore, Mitchell's free speech rights were never impeded.
Ruling on Swastika as Hate SpeechThe case referred to as the ''Skokie affair'' dealt with the swastika symbol in particular and determined that the symbol itself is protected by the First Amendment, that it is an expression of free speech and that, as a symbol, it does not, by itself, embody the idea of ''fighting words,'' or hate speech. The case came about in 1977 when Frank Collin, the leader of the National Socialist Party of America, announced that the party was planning a march through Skokie, Illinois '' a predominantly Jewish community where as many as one in six citizens living in the town was either a Holocaust survivor, or immediately related to one.
The Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois issued an injunction upon the group, prohibiting them from wearing Nazi uniforms, and from openly displaying swastikas during their march. The ACLU challenged the injunction, arguing that it violated the marchers' First Amendment rights. In the end, the Supreme Court agreed, and the group was permitted to march.
Free Speech or Hate Speech at Soldier's FuneralWestboro Baptist Church earned itself a reputation for pushing the boundaries of what constitutes free speech. In a typical example of the group's use of hate speech, The Westboro Baptist Church picketed the 2011 military funeral of a soldier who was killed in Iraq. The father of the soldier sued Fred Phelps and his church for intentional infliction of emotional distress after the group protested his son's funeral with signs that carried such messages as ''Thank God for Dead Soldiers'' and ''God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11.''
Ultimately, Phelps and his church prevailed, as the Supreme Court ruled that the church was expressing their discontent with ''matters of public concern,'' rather than outright targeting the soldier and his family directly. So while the church's messages may be considered hate speech by the majority, the Court noted that it had to take into account all of the details of the situation in order to issue a proper ruling, which included what was said, where it was said, and how it was said. Considering all of these elements together changes the landscape of the issue at hand.
Related Legal Terms and IssuesAggravated Battery '' Battery in which serious bodily harm occurs, or in which the perpetrator intended to cause serious harm, often involving a hate crime, or battery against a police officer.Discrimination '' The practice of unfairly treating different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, national origin, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation.Racial Slur '' A derogatory, insulting, or disrespectful nickname for a person's race.Slander '' An intentional false statement that harms a person's reputation, or which decreases the respect or regard in which a person is held.
Hate Speech Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc.
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 16:04
Hate speech is a communication that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence. It is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like. Hate speech can be any form of expression regarded as offensive to racial, ethnic and religious groups and other discrete minorities or to women.
Opinion | A Better Way to Ban Alex Jones - The New York Times
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 14:04
''Hate speech'' is extraordinarily vague and subjective. Libel and slander are not.
By David French
Mr. French is a First Amendment litigator and senior writer for National Review.
Aug. 7, 2018 Alex Jones speaking to reporters in 2013. Credit Oli Scarff/Getty Images Let me start by making a few things abundantly clear. First, Alex Jones is a loathsome conspiracy theorist who generates loathsome content. Second, there is no First Amendment violation when a private company chooses to boot anyone off a private platform. Third, it seems reasonably clear that Mr. Jones's content isn't just morally repugnant, it's also legally problematic. He makes wild, false claims that may well cross the line into libel and slander.
Right now, Mr. Jones is defending lawsuits filed by multiple Sandy Hook Elementary families accusing him of making intentionally false factual statements. Most appallingly, he has insisted that these grieving families were faking their pain: ''I've looked at it and undoubtedly there's a cover-up, there's actors, they're manipulating, they've been caught lying and they were preplanning before it and rolled out with it.''
So on Monday, when Apple, Facebook and YouTube acted '-- in seemingly coordinated fashion '-- to remove the vast bulk of Mr. Jones's content from their sites, there's no cause for worry, right? After all, this was an act of necessary public hygiene. A terrible human being who has no regard for truth or decency is finally getting what he deserves.
Would that it were that simple.
There are reasons to be deeply concerned that the tech companies banned Alex Jones. In short, the problem isn't exactly what they did, it's why they did it.
Rather than applying objective standards that resonate with American law and American traditions of respect for free speech and the marketplace of ideas, the companies applied subjective standards that are subject to considerable abuse. Apple said it ''does not tolerate hate speech.'' Facebook accused Mr. Jones of violating policies against ''glorifying violence'' or using ''dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.'' YouTube accused Mr. Jones of violating policies against ''hate speech and harassment.''
These policies sound good on first reading, but they are extraordinarily vague. We live in times when the slightest deviation from the latest and ever-changing social justice style guide is deemed bigoted and, yes, ''dehumanizing.'' We live in a world where the Southern Poverty Law Center, a formerly respected civil-rights organization, abuses its past trust to label a host of mainstream organizations (including my former employer, the Alliance Defending Freedom) and individuals as ''hate groups,'' ''white nationalists'' or ''anti-Muslim extremists,'' based sometimes on disagreements about theology or sexual morality or sometimes on outright misreadings and misrepresentations of an individual's beliefs and views.
Exhibit A of how wrong the center has been: In June, it paid Maajid Nawaz $3.375 million for labeling him an ''anti-Muslim extremist.'' This is rich, considered Mr. Nawaz is a former Islamist turned Muslim reformer.
Yet Big Tech still listens to the Southern Poverty Law Center and takes action to punish its targets. Amazon recently booted Alliance Defending Freedom from its AmazonSmile charity program because of the center's designation.
Just last year, multiple internet companies took coordinated action to attempt to remove a vile white supremacist website, The Daily Stormer, from the internet. Days later, ProPublica published an extended piece analyzing how tech companies like PayPal help ''monetize hate.'' The first example ProPublica provided? An organization called Jihad Watch. It's controversial, to be sure, but it is miles from The Daily Stormer. Moreover, ProPublica acknowledged that it used the Southern Poverty Law Center's list (at least in part) to compile its own analysis of ''hate sites,'' including sites for groups like the Family Research Council.
One doesn't even have to look to Big Tech to see the almost infinite malleability of the ''hate speech'' label. In the name of stopping hate speech, university mobs have turned their ire not just against alt-right figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer, but also against the most mainstream of conservative voices, like Ben Shapiro and Heather Mac Donald.
Dissenting progressives aren't spared, either. Just ask Evergreen State College's Bret Weinstein, who was hounded out of a job after refusing to participate in a ''day of absence'' protest in which white students and faculty members were supposed to leave campus for the day to give students and faculty members of color exclusive access to the college.
The good news is that tech companies don't have to rely on vague, malleable and hotly contested definitions of hate speech to deal with conspiracy theorists like Mr. Jones. The far better option would be to prohibit libel or slander on their platforms.
To be sure, this would tie their hands more: Unlike ''hate speech,'' libel and slander have legal meanings. There is a long history of using libel and slander laws to protect especially private figures from false claims. It's properly more difficult to use those laws to punish allegations directed at public figures, but even then there are limits on intentionally false factual claims.
It's a high bar. But it's a bar that respects the marketplace of ideas, avoids the politically charged battle over ever-shifting norms in language and culture and provides protection for aggrieved parties. Nor do tech companies have to wait for sometimes yearslong legal processes to work themselves out. They can use their greater degree of freedom to conduct their own investigations. Those investigations would rightly be based on concrete legal standards, not wholly subjective measures of offensiveness.
Private corporations can ban whoever they like. But if companies like Facebook are eager to navigate speech controversies in good faith, they would do well to learn from the centuries of legal developments in American law. When creating a true marketplace of ideas, why not let the First Amendment be your guide?
David French (@DavidAFrench) is a First Amendment litigator and senior writer for National Review.
MailChimp removes accounts for Alex Jones, Infowars | TheHill
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 22:25
August 07, 2018 - 02:35 PM EDT By Justin WiseEmail marketing service provider MailChimp has removed accounts for Alex Jones and Infowars, citing "hateful content," according to Media Matters for America.
"MailChimp doesn't generally comment on individual users or accounts, but we'll make an exception today," the MailChimp statement read, according to Media Matters. "MailChimp notified Infowars that their accounts have been terminated for violating our Terms of Service, which make it clear that we don't allow people to use our platform to disseminate hateful content."
"The decision to terminate this account was thoughtfully considered and is in line with our company's values," MailChimp added.
The news comes the same week that several other tech companies, including Facebook, YouTube and Apple, removed Infowars from their platforms and websites. The Hill reported on Monday that Jones, a controversial right-wing conspiracy theorist, was banned from YouTube after he attempted to circumvent the site's enforcement measures.
Facebook removed four pages belonging to Jones due to repeated violations of the platform's content policies.
Jones and Infowars have frequently pushed unfounded theories about the U.S. government being behind the 9/11 attacks and other deadly events. Jones has been sued for his role in promoting an unsubstantiated theory that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax.
Alex Jones' Lawyer Seeks To Make Sandy Hook Parents' Home Addresses Public
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 00:09
When radio host Alex Jones published a video in 2017 titled ''Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed,'' the parents of a little boy killed in the Sandy Hook shooting bought security alarms for their homes, fearful that they would once again be harassed by Jones' legion of followers convinced the shooting never happened.
Now a lawyer for Jones wants to make the parents' home addresses public.
Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa lost 6-year-old Noah in 2012 when a gunman stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and six adults. More than five years later, they still get harassed by conspiracy theorists claiming the shooting was all a hoax.
Alex Jones is contending with an avalanche of defamation suits against him. (HuffPost Illustration/Reuters)
Their harassment has led to a defamation lawsuit against Jones, who has fueled the conspiracy fires for years by claiming interviews with the parents and media outlets were faked and that the shooting may have never happened. A Texas judge is currently reviewing whether Jones' motion to dismiss the case has any merit. In the meantime, Jones' lawyer is seeking to open the floodgates for dangerous parties to easily find the Sandy Hook parents.
In new court filings obtained by HuffPost, Pozner and De La Rosa, who live separately, describe the steps they took in the wake of Jones reigniting the hoax theory. The two purchased a privacy protection plan for their computers and a pair of motion detection alarms for their homes.
''Sometimes I lie awake at night worrying that despite our efforts at security, a determined conspiracy fanatic might gain entry to our home,'' De La Rosa said in a court declaration.
They're using an old, outdated law to intimidate these people and it's just sick. Attorney Mark Bankston, who is representing the Sandy Hook parents The parents have also paid a small fortune in grief counseling because of Jones, they said.
''Due to Mr. Jones' broadcast, I have also suffered severe emotional distress and trauma which I cannot even begin to adequately describe,'' Pozner said in his declaration. ''No human being should ever be asked to suffer through the torment Mr. Jones carried out.''
In an objection, lawyer Mark Enoch, who is representing Jones in the defamation case, said the declarations should be thrown out if the parents don't provide their dates of birth and addresses.
''The declarations filed by Plaintiffs are neither affidavits nor are they proper declarations,'' Enoch's objection says, citing a Texas law that he says requires them to provide personal information.
But lawyer Mark Bankston, who is representing the parents, cited nearly a dozen legal opinions and cases that seem likely to defeat Enoch's objection. In his own filing, Bankston has demanded Enoch withdraw the objection.
''There are obvious reasons why these Plaintiffs are extraordinarily hesitant about filing public documents containing their personal information, such as their address or date of birth, and they will not publish that information absent a legal obligation to do so,'' Bankston's response reads. ''Information such as date of birth, addresses, etc., have been used in the past by InfoWars followers to locate and harass the Plaintiffs.''
Bankston told HuffPost that Enoch's filing is at best ''tone deaf.''
''They're using an old, outdated law to intimidate these people and it's just sick,'' he said.
The defamation lawsuit is one of many Jones is currently fighting. Bankston is also representing Sandy Hook father Neil Heslin in a defamation lawsuit against Jones. And in a separate defamation suit against the Infowars host, Bankston is representing a man whom Infowars falsely identified as the Parkland, Florida, school shooter.
Other defamation suits levied against Jones include one from six Sandy Hook parents and an FBI agent who responded to the shooting, and one brought by a man who filmed the violent vehicular attack that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a white supremacist rally last summer. Jones called the man who filmed the attack a ''deep state shill'' and a ''CIA asset.'' (He's not.)
Jones is also likely to see his revenue plummet after being dumped by YouTube, Spotify and Facebook this week. In a typically incoherent rant, Jones blamed a ''globalist conspiracy'' for silencing his hate speech and harassment, and asked that President Donald Trump help him get back on social media platforms.
Enoch, for his part, would not defend his newly filed objection to HuffPost when reached by phone Wednesday.
''I have no comment,'' Enoch said. ''The statute said what it said.''
When asked if he understood how this could further damage the lives of the parents, Enoch hung up.
Tech Companies Banned Infowars. Now, Its App Is Trending. - The New York Times
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 11:15
The Infowars app includes news articles and shows from the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Credit N/a Just days after Google, Facebook and Apple purged videos and podcasts from the right-wing conspiracy site Infowars from their sites, the Infowars app has become one of the hottest in the country.
On Wednesday, Infowars was the No. 1 overall ''trending'' app on the Google Play store, a metric that reflects its sudden momentum. Among news apps, Infowars was No. 3 on Apple and No. 5 on Google, above all mainstream news organizations. And the app stood at No. 66 overall on Google, excluding game apps, while on Apple it reached No. 49, above popular apps like LinkedIn, Google Docs and eBay.
The Infowars app, which includes news articles and the shows of the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, had likely been downloaded a few hundred to a few thousand times a day on average after its introduction last month, said Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights at Sensor Tower, which tracks app data. Now, it is likely getting 30,000 to 40,000 downloads a day, Mr. Nelson estimated based on its ranking.
The surge suggests the tech industry's recent action against Infowars has drawn new interest to the fringe outlet and the conspiracy theories it peddles.
''This is such a niche app with niche content, that for it to make that sort of jump means it has become very interesting to a much broader audience,'' said Jonathan Kay, a co-founder of Apptopia, an app analytics firm. ''Essentially, it's gone from being niche to being mainstream.''
Still, the action by the tech companies likely reduced the overall audience for Infowars because it had relied so much on viewers fromApple, Faceook and YouTube, a unit of Google.
That the Infowars app has also thrived on Apple's and Google's app stores just days after the companies removed its content from other parts of their sites highlights the confusing nature of the tech companies' rules and their enforcement of them.
Apple banned five of the six Infowars podcasts from its popular podcasts service on Sunday, saying it ''does not tolerate hate speech.'' Yet the Infowars app that Apple has deemed acceptable for its app store after a review is essentially a portal to some of the same podcasts that Apple removed.
Image The Infowars app is the top ''trending'' app in Google's Play store.The Infowars app streams live and rebroadcasts the most recent episodes of three shows, ''The Alex Jones Show,'' ''War Room with Owen Shroyer,'' and ''Real News with David Knight.'' Apple removed The Alex Jones Show and War Room from its podcast service; it left Real News.
An Apple spokeswoman said in a statement that the company works to curate its app store.
''We strongly support all points of view being represented on the App Store, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions, and follow our clear guidelines, ensuring the App Store is a safe marketplace for all,'' she said. ''We continue to monitor apps for violations of our guidelines.''
Google said it deleted Mr. Jones's channel from its YouTube site because he flouted a previous punishment '-- not necessarily for the content he posted. Google has since left up Mr. Jones's podcast and his Infowars app.
Google said it has different policies for YouTube and its Play Store. A Google spokesman added in an email, ''If an app violates our policies, we take action.''
Image The Infowars app has a tab for people to buy merchandise. Credit N/a From July 12 through Sunday, the Infowars app ranked on average as the 23rd most popular news app on Apple and 32nd on Google, according to Apptopia. After Sunday, the app's rank among news apps on Apple jumped to 7th on Monday, 4th on Tuesday and 3rd on Wednesday, Apptopia said. The rankings were slightly lower on Google for those days.
Researchers from Apptopia and Sensor Tower said Apple and Google use a number of signals to determine rankings, including the velocity of downloads and total downloads, but they are secretive about the exact formula.
Mr. Jones has achieved infamy and financial success for spreading lies, such as many mass shootings are government hoaxes and Democrats run a global child-sex ring. Many of his most outlandish claims are made during his show, which runs live for four hours each weekday and is streamed and rebroadcast across the internet.
YouTube, Facebook, Spotify and Apple's podcasts service were all important distribution points for the show, but Mr. Jones and his Infowars colleagues this week have urged viewers to find the show on Infowars' website and app. He and Infowars did not respond to requests for comment.
Image News articles, some of which are highly partisan, are also featured on the Infowars app. Credit N/a The Infowars app has three main tabs: one for the shows, one for news articles and a third for merchandise. (There is also a settings tab and a ''you'' tab for saved articles.)
On the tab that led to the outlet's news articles, a sampling of the app's stories on Wednesday showed a mix of headlines that ranged from highly partisan (''Democrats Blame Russians For Ohio Loss, Turn On The Green Party!'') to sensationalist (''Shock: FDA Acquiring 'Fresh' Aborted Baby Parts to Make 'Humanized Mice''') to humdrum (''Calorie Counting Menus Help Diners Lose One Pound Over Three Years '-- Study'').
Many of the stories in the app also focused on Silicon Valley's removal of Infowars content. Most were aggregated from other news sources, including mainstream outlets like CNBC and Reuters and right-wing sites The Daily Caller and Breitbart. The news category ''Infowars Exclusives'' on the app included no stories.
The merchandise tab on the app pushes people to purchase Infowars goods, such as T-shirts, diet supplements and male-vitality pills.
One ad on the app showed a photo of Mr. Jones with ''censored'' tape over his mouth and said: ''Fight the bullies, save the internet, save Infowars super special. Shop now!''
The app has earned a nearly perfect rating on Apple after 5,500 reviews. ''Good to have IW on the go, able to keep up with what the Democrat globalist Luciferian communist are up to at all times,'' one recent review said.
Follow Jack Nicas on Twitter: @jacknicas.
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We Sent Alex Jones' Infowars Supplements To A Lab. Here's What's In Them.
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 11:41
"You could grab a bottle for around $10 and skip the 2X+ price markup from Infowars," one lab review reads.
By Charlie Warzel
Posted on August 9, 2017, at 5:12 p.m. ET
Alex Jones' wildly popular suite of Infowars supplements probably won't kill you, but extensive tests provided to BuzzFeed News have shown that they're little more than overpriced and ineffective blends of vitamins and minerals that have been sold in stores for ages.
The independent test results are the work of Labdoor, a San Francisco''based lab that tests and grades dietary supplements. Labdoor ran full tests on six popular Infowars supplements to determine the exact makeup of each supplement and screen for various dangerous and illegal chemicals. It also investigated a few of the products that "claimed incredible benefits for what seemed like could just be simple ingredients."
"We tested samples in triplicate, and wherever possible, cross-checked those results with at least two independent analytical laboratories, so we have complete trust in our conclusions," Brian Brandley, Labdoor's laboratory director, told BuzzFeed News.
All of the test results were largely the same: The products are '-- more or less '-- accurately advertised. They don't contain significantly more or less of a particular ingredient than listed on the bottles, and there are no surprise ingredients. They're also reasonably safe, meaning they passed heavy metal contaminant screenings and tested free of stimulants, depressants, and other prohibited drugs.
But just because the products' ingredients matched their labels doesn't mean they lived up to Jones' claims. Survival Shield X-2, for example, "is just plain iodine, the same stuff doctors used to pour on surfaces as a disinfectant," Labdoor's results read.
When the company tested Anthroplex, which retails for $29.95, it found that there was so little zinc that "if you're extremely zinc deficient, the value...is not going to be significantly helpful." The report notes that "you could actually get another zinc orotate supplement for around $5 WITH an impactful serving size," before concluding simply that "this product is a waste of money."
This claim '-- that the Infowars supplements often contained less effective serving sizes than their less expensive counterparts '-- was a running theme in Labdoor's results. In almost every example, Labdoor's tests and reviews describe the products as little more than heavily overpriced supplements with few health benefits, if any.
As Jones' popularity has risen, so has his supplements business, which sources have told BuzzFeed News largely funds Jones' highly controversial Infowars media empire '-- home to incendiary conspiracies including but not limited to #Pizzagate, that the Sandy Hook massacre was faked, and that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich provided WikiLeaks with the DNC emails '-- in addition to acting as a kind of lifestyle-brand complement to Jones' particular brand of conspiracy-minded, fear-fueled programming.
''He can sell 500 supplements in an hour,'' a former employee told BuzzFeed News this spring. ''It's like QVC for conspiracy.'' One estimate by New York magazine '-- which uses some back-of-the-envelope calculations based on the number of reviews of supplements on Jones' Infowars Life Store '-- suggests that, with an average supplement price of $30, Jones could haul in $15,000,000 in sales over a two-year period. A second, less conservative estimate from the magazine puts the figure even higher '-- nearly $25,000,000 without including repeat customers (of which there are likely many).
Here's a closer look at what exactly is inside the products that keep America's favorite conspiracy theorist on the air, according to Labdoor. You can read the full results here.
Super Male Vitality/Super Female Vitality (liquid) - $69.95/$59.95 Claimed ingredients for Super Male: 'Tribulus Terrestris (fruit), Tongkat Ali (root), Ashwaganda (root), Maca (root), Avena Sativa (leaf/stem), Suma (root), Catuaba (bark), Muira Puama (bark), Fulvic Acid
Claimed ingredients for Super Female: Organic Tribulus Terrestris (fruit), Organic Epimedium (leaf), Organic Ashwaganda (root), Organic Avena Sativa (leaf/stem), Wildcrafted Suma (root), Maca (root), Wildcrafted Tongkat Ali (root), Wildcrafted Muira Puama (bark), Wildcrafted Catuaba (bark), Shilajit
Test results: The lab found no traces of unlisted items like caffeine, nor did it find any athletic-enhancing drugs/stimulants or Viagra.
Labdoor suggests that there is no real research to show that many of Super Vitality's ingredients are effective. One ingredient '-- Tribulus terrestris '-- "seems to increase libido in rats" but only improves erectile disfunction "in one lone human study," according to Labdoor. And the lab notes that the serving size in both serums is "way too small for this combination of ingredients to be effective."
Labdoor review snippet: "Both of these products are most likely safe, but ineffective."
Claimed ingredients:' Zinc Orotate, Horny Goat Weed, Tribulus Terrestris, Tongkat Ali-Longjack, Fulvic Powder
Test results: Labdoor found that Anthroplex passed a heavy metal screening but noticed a discrepancy in the reported amount of zinc in the capsules. According to Labdoor, there's 31% less zinc than advertised. "When we look into the zinc dosage, it's so ridiculously low that you'd basically be buying a worthless product for $40," the report reads.
Review snippet: "This product is a waste of money. The claim that 'Anthroplex works synergistically with the powerful Super Male Vitality formula in order to help restore your masculine foundation and stimulate vitality with its own blend of unique ingredients' is fluff on multiple fronts."
Claimed ingredients:' Elemental Magnesium, Natural Citric Acid
Test results: According to Labdoor, the product contains almost exactly the values of magnesium and citric acid that it claims. It also passed a screen for heavy metals.
While the product has the exact ingredients advertised, Labdoor's report takes issues with Infowars' claims that the product is "ozonated." According to the lab, "Ozone is so reactive that it wouldn't remain as ozone in the supplement itself. Additionally, if you could take ozone, you shouldn't as it's extremely toxic."
Review snippet: "This product's claims related to 'nascent oxygen' also have no realbasis in science."
Survival Shield X-2 - $29.95 Claimed ingredients:' Iodine (as nascent iodine)
Test results: According to Labdoor, the product contained just under the value of iodine that it claimed. It also passed a screen for heavy metals.
There's not much to say here. Basically, what Infowars is selling in Survival Shield X-2 is a bottle of iodine at 3x markup.
Review snippet: "We tested this product on the chance that it might be potassium iodide or sodium iodide, which it wasn't. Survival Shield is just plain iodine."
Child Ease (liquid) - $24.95 Claimed ingredients:' Chamomile Flower, Jujube Seed, Hawthorn Berry, Catnip Aerial Parts, Lemon Balm Aerial Parts, Long Pepper Fruit, Licorice Root, Amla Fruit, Magnesium Taurinate, Calcium Carbonate, Gotu Kola Aerial Parts, and Essential Oils of Anise Seed, Cassia Bark, and Clove Fruit
Test results: "This product tested to be free of stimulants and depressants listed as drugs prohibited from athletic competition in WADA's annual Prohibited List. It also passed screenings for heavy metal contamination (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury)."
Labdoor notes that, like the male and female vitality serums, Child Ease "has so many ingredients, they wouldn't be effective in a 1.25 mL serving size."
The report also cautions the use of these ingredients in children, especially given the lab's suspicion that "Infowars may also be marketing this supplement as a way to treat autism or a substitute for vaccines." The lab notes that "these recommendations are unfounded and dangerous."
Review snippet: "It also has ingredients that have never been studied for safety or efficacy in human research and as a consumer, you're supposed to blindly trust that it's okay for your kids."
Joint Formula (pills) - $29.95 Review snippet: "Almost all of the listed ingredients are not supported in research for joint health."
Caveman True Paleo Formula (shake powder) - $59.95 Review snippet: "They're using fancy ingredient names for what are really simple ingredients."
Lung Cleanse (spray) - $49.95 Review snippet: "It's maybe like a spray liquid cough drop in your throat '-- temporarily effective, but not worth $50."
DNA Force (pills) - $134.95 Review snippet: "There's no way to definitively test 'DNA health', so having a claim of supporting DNA and/or mitochondrial function seems far-fetched."
Deep Cleanse (liquid) - $29.95 Review snippet: This one is very short and to the point. "This is basically an iodine supplement with more than likely ineffective herbal ingredients."
Review snippet: "This product's ingredients are unsupported in research and there's very little guidance on safe dosing."
Brain Force Plus - $20.96 Review snippet: "At the current serving size, however, dosing is significantlylower than expected for most ingredients."
Secret 12 Vitamin B12 (liquid) - $23.96 Review snippet: "There's nothing really 'secret' about this product's main ingredient."
Winter Sun Vitamin D (liquid) - $23.96 Review snippet: "You could grab a bottle for around $10 and skip the 2X+ price markup from Infowars."
Silver Bullet Colloidal Silver (liquid) - $19.95 Review snippet: "There's no proof that this works."
YouTube Is Fighting Back Against Climate Misinformation
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 12:10
YouTube is now adding fact checks to videos that question climate change, BuzzFeed News has confirmed, as a part of its ongoing effort to combat the rampant misinformation and conspiratorial fodder on its platform.
On July 9, the company added a blurb of text underneath some videos about climate change, which provided a scientifically accurate explainer. The text comes from the Wikipedia entry for global warming and states that "multiple lines of scientific evidence show that the climate system is warming."
This new feature follows YouTube's announcement in March that it would place descriptions from Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica next to videos on topics that spur conspiracy theories, such as the moon landing and the Oklahoma City bombing. In doing the same for climate videos, the company seems to be wading into more fraught and complex intellectual territory.
"I'd guess that it will have some influence, at least on those people who don't know much about the subject," Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, told BuzzFeed News by email. "Might be confusing to some people, but that's probably better than just accepting the denier video at face value."
YouTube has not disclosed the full list of topics it is targeting. But a Wikipedia post to its administrators in mid-July offers some clues, listing seven topics the company was helping clarify: global warming, Dulce Base, Lilla Saltsj¶badsavtalet, the 1980 Camarate air crash, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Kecksburg UFO incident, and the MMR vaccine. The two organizations appear to be working more closely since the launch of YouTube's policy, which Wikipedia did not know about in advance.
Google, which owns YouTube, has struggled to excise misinformation from its platforms. In November 2017, it tried a feature that fact-checked descriptions of newspapers and other items that appear in search results but suspended it in January after some mistakes triggered complaints.
When the new Wikipedia blurb policy took effect in July, YouTube did not publicly say that climate change was an impacted topic, and the company did not notify users who had uploaded the affected videos.
The Heartland Institute, for example, a conservative think tank that posts videos of its staff and others questioning climate change, told BuzzFeed News that it noticed the change a few weeks ago and had not been notified by YouTube. Spokesperson Jim Lakely declined to comment on the policy or its impact. PragerU, a nonprofit online "university" that made some of the other affected videos, says YouTube's policy shows its political bias.
"Despite claiming to be a public forum and a platform open to all, YouTube is clearly a left-wing organization," Craig Strazzeri, PragerU's chief marketing officer, said by email. "This is just another mistake in a long line of giant missteps that erodes America's trust in Big Tech, much like what has already happened with the mainstream news media."
YouTuber Tony Heller, who also makes climate denial videos, described the policy on Twitter as YouTube "putting propaganda at the bottom of all climate videos." (He did not respond to a request for comment.)
It's not just misleading climate videos. The same climate blurb was appended to dozens of videos explaining the evidence and impacts of climate change.
''It was a surprise when we saw it show up on videos that are not conspiracy videos, but climate science videos.'' "It was a surprise when we saw it show up on videos that are not conspiracy videos, but climate science videos," Joe Hanson, who produces multiple video series including Hot Mess and It's Okay to Be Smart, told BuzzFeed News.
Hanson polled his audience about YouTube's fact-checking, and the result was largely positive. "It is a probably a good thing," especially for videos with misleading science, Hanson said.
"I welcome this change," Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, told BuzzFeed News by email. Climate science is not an opinion because scientists agree it's happening based on documented facts, she said. "I appreciate that YouTube is taking their responsibility seriously to help people understand the difference." Hayhoe had noticed the descriptions suddenly show up with her Global Weirding video series on YouTube.
Climate scientist Michael Mann likened YouTube's new messaging to the warning label on a pack of cigarettes: "Warning '-- this video may or may not be promoting actual facts about climate change."
YouTube says the goal of its policy is to give users easy access to more context and information on topics prone to misinformation, such as climate change. And in the coming months, more and more videos will be getting these labels.
The company is using an algorithm, not people, to decide which videos get the blurbs and which do not, a spokesperson said. The labels are for now only visible to people in the US and are being rolled out gradually. So two people can look at the same video and only one may see the description.
YouTube plans to measure the effectiveness of these panels by tracking how often users click on the climate description provided, which links back to the original Wikipedia page. If the page gets updated, so will the text under the videos.
And what if the Wikipedia page is edited to include misinformation? The YouTube spokesperson noted that the text under the videos does not refresh immediately, leaving a time lag between when a Wikipedia page is edited and when the change shows up on YouTube. This could allow Wikipedia editors to catch inaccuracies before they appear on YouTube '-- or lead to angry YouTubers giving Wikipedia added headaches. (Wikipedia deferred questions on this topic to YouTube.)
According to a BuzzFeed News review of dozens of videos, the label shows up more consistently on videos with "global warming" and "climate change" in the title than ones without.
On a series of misleading climate videos posted by the news site RT, there is no note about climate change, but there is a Wikipedia description about the publisher, saying: "RT is funded in whole or in part by the Russian government."
Jason Reifler, a political science professor at the University of Exeter, praised YouTube for starting to tackle the challenge of misinformation but said he's skeptical of how effective the climate change description will be.
"They could have chosen wording that's stronger and gets more to what the real terms of debate are between the extremely well-supported consensus scientific video versus the much, much smaller proportion of skeptics," Reifler told BuzzFeed News.
"I'm doubtful this first step is going to do much," he added. "But I hope it does!"
Zahra Hirji is a science reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC
Contact Zahra Hirji at email@example.com.
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Anonymous on Fortune 50 companies SJW programs
1058 is outstanding work. Your competence & authority is admirable. I
heard Adam say he hopes that white privilege and toxic masculinity
are just Twitter issues. I regret to share that this nonsense has
indoctrinated our biggest defense company Lockheed Martin.
All leaders are required to take training that teaches about white
privilege and toxic masculinity. It’s been ongoing for about a year. Also,
all executives are required to attend a so called white man’s summit. It
is shameful. The white men in these classes are
figuratively castrated. They go to the front of an audience of ~50
leaders and explain when they realized that they are privileged. It’s a
shocking display of impotence. The room is packed with folks
with master’s & PhD’s making six figure salaries yet they fail to
recognize Neo Marxism as it’s happening. The minorities in the room openly
say that senior leadership is too white & too old. No one challenges
the overt racist & ageist prejudice. These meetings take place at corporate
headquarters outside Washington DC.
Please focus on this. It’s
inside Fortune 50 corporate America at the highest levels.
colorism | Definition of colorism in US English by Oxford Dictionaries
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 14:07
colorism (British colourism)
noun US Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.
'colorism within the black community has been a serious emotional and psychological battle'
'This article looks at the roots of colourism and how it has impacted the interaction of dark-skinned women with light-skinned women.' 'Thus whiteness distances Lynda from colorism and racism but also from her family and culture.' 'Intracommunity differences, such as colorism and class elitism, can be overcome.' 'Personal relationships fractured by colorism are emblematic of the distorted relations that prevail in societies governed by racialized ideologies.' 'Colorism is a significant arbiter of intraracial class division.' 'Cole was asked about colorism and how it affects rap.' 'Colorism as distinct from racism has been the hallmark of the film medium at least since the early 1900s.' 'Colorism is a component of racism.' 'This colorism is prevalent within the Creole community.'Pronunciation
Opinion | The Nation Magazine Betrays a Poet '-- and Itself - The New York Times
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 02:46
I was the magazine's poetry editor for 35 years. Never once did we apologize for publishing a poem.
By Grace Schulman
Ms. Schulman was poetry editor at The Nation from 1971 to 2006.
Aug. 6, 2018During the 35 years that I edited poetry for The Nation magazine, we published the likes of W.S. Merwin, Pablo Neruda, May Swenson, Denise Levertov, James Merrill and Derek Walcott. They wrote on subjects as varied as lesbian passion and nuclear threats. Some poems, and some critical views, enraged our readers and drove them to drop their subscriptions.
But never did we apologize for a poem we published. We saw it as part of our job to provoke our readers '-- a mission we took especially seriously in serving the magazine's absolute devotion to a free press.
We followed a path blazed by Henry James, who in 1865 wrote a damning review of Walt Whitman's ''Drum Taps,'' calling the great poem ''arrant prose.'' Mistaken, yes, but it was James's view at the time. And it was never retracted.
Apparently the magazine has abandoned this storied tradition.
Last month, the magazine published a poem by Anders Carlson-Wee. The poet is white. His poem, ''How-To,'' draws on black vernacular.
Following a vicious backlash against the poem on social media, the poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Gim(C)nez Smith, apologized for publishing it in the first place: ''We made a serious mistake by choosing to publish the poem 'How-To.' We are sorry for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem,'' they wrote in an apology longer than the actual poem. The poet apologized, too, saying, ''I am sorry for the pain I caused.''
I was deeply disturbed by this episode, which touches on a value that is precious to me and to a free society: the freedom to write and to publish views that may be offensive to some readers.
In my years at The Nation, I was inspired by the practical workings of a free press. We lived by John Milton's assertion that ''error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is free to combat it.'' And no one was a greater defender of press freedom and of writers' right to be wrong than Victor Navasky, who succeeded Blair Clark as editor in chief in 1978.
Image Anders Carlson-Wee. Credit Kai Carlson-Wee One defense in the late 1980s risked losing Discovery/The Nation, an annual contest in which the poets who won the prize read their work at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and simultaneously had it published in the magazine. The Y's board, which sponsored the contest, suggested dropping The Nation's participation after it published an article by Gore Vidal that some people deemed anti-Semitic.
I remember Mr. Vidal's piece. I detested it and his views. But I'd learned by then the crucial importance of a free press to a democracy.
I asked for Mr. Navasky's help in saving the contest. And no, he would never have rebuked the offensive article and apologized.
Instead, he wrote a letter to the board of the Y explaining The Nation's way. He said, in effect, that when we invite a writer to contribute to the magazine, our aim is to help that person articulate his or her own view as clearly as possible. As I recall, the copy editors went to town on factual and grammatical errors, but left what Milton called errors of opinion.
Mr. Navasky's defense of Mr. Vidal's piece did not at all reflect indifference to the poetry contest. On the contrary, he cared for it, speedily sent over the magazines that contained the winners' poems and often came to the readings. But his position on free speech was uncompromising.
How far we have come from those idealistic, courageous days. As Katha Pollitt, a columnist for The Nation, put it, the magazine's apology for Mr. Carlson-Wee's work was ''craven'' and ''looks like a letter from re-education camp.'' She also rightly suggested that the proper thing to do would have been to reprint the poem together with readers' opinions. That would have been in keeping with the expectations of a free press.
The broader issue here, though, is the backward and increasingly prevalent idea that the artist is somehow morally responsible for his character's behavior or voice. Writers have always presented characters with unwholesome views; F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens and Shakespeare come immediately to mind. One wonders if editors would have the courage to publish Robert Lowell's ''Words for Hart Crane'' or Ezra Pound's ''Sestina: Altaforte'' today.
It would not be proper for me to comment on the aesthetic merits of Mr. Carlson-Wee's piece. That's the job of the magazine's current poetry editors. But going forward, I'd recommend they follow Henry James's example. Just as he never apologized for his negative review of Whitman, they had zero reason to regret their decision.
Grace Schulman was poetry editor at The Nation from 1971-2006. She is the author of seven books of poetry and the recipient of the Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in American poetry. Her memoir, ''Strange Paradise,'' comes out this month.
Oscars 2019: the new ''popular film'' category is a terrible idea - Vox
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 21:26
The new Oscar awarding achievements in popular film is a bad idea.
Yes, I'm aware I'm saying that knowing essentially nothing about how the award will be defined and adjudicated; the press release from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announcing the new category states that those details ''will be forthcoming.''
But the announcement of a new category for ''outstanding achievement in popular film'' nonetheless feels like a panicked move by an Academy that's worried Black Panther won't be nominated for Best Picture, an echo of when they expanded the Best Picture category to 10 nominees in 2009 in response to The Dark Knight and Wall-E being snubbed in that category. (The number of Best Picture nominees changed again two years later to ''five to 10 nominees.'')
To be sure, the announcement of this category is vague enough that it could mean just about anything. Hollywood stunt people have long wanted the awards to add a category for the best stunt coordination, and this could, theoretically, be that '-- popular films do often feature a lot of stunts, after all. Or ''achievement in popular film'' could just be a de facto special Oscar given to the year's box office champ, along the lines of the existing Honorary Awards.
But c'mon. It's not going to be that. It's going to be the Oscars nominating a handful of the year's biggest blockbusters, to make sure that the Black Panthers and the Mission: Impossibles of the world are nominated somewhere other than the sound and visual effects categories.
It's going to feel like shameless pandering, and it's just going to make the awards less meaningful. When blockbusters are good, like Black Panther, they should be nominated for Best Picture, not some category created in a panic.
But my concerns about this category extend beyond, ''This seems like it wasn't really thought through.'' Here are three of the most significant red flags raised by this vague announcement.
1) This will make it harder for big movies to be nominated for Best Picture Would The Lord of the Rings have succeeded at the Oscars had there been a popular film category?New Line A common misconception about the Oscars is that they never nominate big hits. In truth, the Oscars do nominate big hits, especially if those big hits overlap with some of the Oscars' favorite genres, like historical dramas (Lincoln) or musicals (Chicago) or epic romances (Titanic).
The more accurate thing to say about the Oscars is that they rarely nominate big popcorn movies, which is true. But even there, it's hard for the Academy to resist a true box office sensation that garners warm reviews, then takes off and becomes a big-time cultural touchstone. Everything from Jaws to Star Wars to the Lord of the Rings movies to Get Out would fit that description (as would Black Panther), and all of these examples were nominated for Best Picture.
In fact, The Dark Knight '-- the rare blockbuster with big box office, great reviews, and cultural touchstone status to not get a Best Picture nod '-- is the exception that proves the rule here. (It's probably worth noting that Dark Knight is specifically a superhero film, and the Oscars have yet to nominate a superhero movie for Best Picture '-- which may be the impetus behind this move in some way.)
And the idea of a ''best popular film'' category meant to honor movies like this specifically could, conceivably, lead to those movies then being in the conversation for other categories as well. After all, the Academy has made clear that movies nominated for the popular film award can also be nominated for Best Picture. If Oscar voters are watching Black Panther for awards consideration, rather than writing it off as ''just another superhero movie,'' this line of thinking goes, then they'll realize it belongs in the conversation in other categories.
But we know how this will turn out because we've seen it happen literally within the past 20 years.
The creation of the Best Animated Feature category was supposed to have a similar effect: As animated films became more and more popular and better and better made, the category was added to draw attention to the craftsmanship in that arena. Before it was first awarded in 2002, just one animated film had been nominated for Best Picture, Beauty and the Beast, nominated in 1992.
But since then, only two animated films have been nominated '-- Up in 2010 and Toy Story 3 in 2011 '-- and since Best Picture went from 10 guaranteed nominees to five to 10 nominees, no animated film has been nominated, even as movies like 2015's Inside Out and 2017's Coco have boasted both great reviews and great box office.
The same goes for the Foreign Language and Documentary categories. The former will occasionally see a Best Picture nomination '-- most recently with Amour's nomination in 2013 '-- but no foreign language film has actually won Best Picture. (Ironically, Slumdog Millionaire, which features the most non-English language work of any Best Picture winner, was ineligible for the category, having been produced by an American studio.) And no documentary has ever been nominated for Best Picture.
No matter the intentions behind specialized categories like this, they just end up segregating the films they're meant to honor, keeping them from the ''real'' categories. Would Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King have won Best Picture if the popular film category had existed? Maybe '-- but it would have added another major hurdle.
2) How is the Academy going to determine which movies are ''popular''? Dunkirk was one of the 30 top-grossing movies of 2017. Would that have qualified it for the popular film award?Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC and Ratpac Entertainment, LLC Here's an arbitrary metric the Academy could use: ''Popular'' movies are the top 30 grossers at the domestic box office for the year. (There are problems with this metric, which I'll get to, but go with me for the moment.)
So assume that five of the year's top grossers are nominated for Best Popular Film. In the majority of years, several Best Picture nominees are already among the year's most popular films. Among the 2018 nominees, for instance, both Dunkirk and Get Out were in the top 30, and both were already there when nominations were announced. In 2017 and 2016, three of the Best Picture nominees were among the year's top grossers. And in 2013 and 2011, a five-nominee popular film category could be completely filled with Best Picture nominees. (Did you know Black Swan was among the top 30 grossers of 2010? You do now!)
So just using box office grosses will be a problem because it will likely lead to a lot of Best Picture nominees tacking on another second-tier nomination. And that's to say nothing of the fact that when Oscar voting is going on, in early January, the total grosses of many of the preceding year's holiday films still aren't known.
The Greatest Showman, for instance, is by any definition a ''popular'' film, but it would have been excluded from voting for a prospective 2018 award by virtue of how slow its box office ascent was. When Oscar voting was going on, it wasn't yet the blockbuster it became.
So ''popular'' will likely end up being defined as ''vaguely genre-y,'' except the Academy can't say, ''This award is for sci-fi, horror, fantasy, action, superhero, and comedy films,'' for fear of further segregating those films from consideration in other categories, when they already struggle to get noticed, to say nothing of the fear of defining movies in those genres as ''not good enough to be the Best Picture.''
Intriguingly, when the Oscars launched, the very first ceremony, held in 1929, awarded the ''Outstanding Picture'' and the ''Unique and Artistic Picture.'' The former went to Wings '-- now recognized by the Academy as the ''first'' Best Picture winner '-- and the latter went to the masterful Sunrise, which was an artistically ambitious silent romance. Sunrise is a better movie than Wings, but they're both worth watching, and they show how some sort of split in the ''Best Picture'' category could work quite well.
The Academy immediately dropped the ''Unique and Artistic'' category, but it's not hard to imagine that if it split Best Picture in two again, rather than creating some new ''popular film'' category, it could find a way to honor both the populist and artistic qualities of the year's movies in a more elegant fashion.
3) This is happening awfully quickly, and it's hard to imagine it's been well thought through The Shape of Water is the reigning Best Picture winner.Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S via Getty Images The ''popular film'' award has received most of the attention when it comes to the various changes the Academy plans to make, but it was only one of those changes.
Indeed, at least one change '-- the 2020 awards will be held in early February, instead of late February '-- is, to my mind, unambiguously a good one. Shorten awards season! Please! But both the popular film category and the idea of making sure the Oscars last just three hours (by awarding several technical prizes during commercial breaks) seem like disasters waiting to happen.
How much of this has been thought through? The popular film category will most likely happen at the 2019 Oscars; it's hard to imagine the Academy announcing this change without intending to implement it as soon as possible. The Academy is therefore going to be rapidly adding an entire new category with an incredibly vague definition and no clear indication of who will vote for the nominees. The idea is already a bad one, but combining it with a rushed process should stand to only make things worse.
All of these proposed changes are symptoms of the same problem: The Oscars' ratings have gotten softer and softer in recent years, and they're in danger of ceasing to be the premier awards show. If the awards can be shortened, if they can reward bigger movies, if awards season itself can be shorter '-- maybe they can be salvaged.
And sure. I could see that happening. This seems like a bad idea to me right now, but lots of things that seemed like bad ideas to me at the time turned out to be okay, particularly in the movie industry, where bad ideas can be salvaged almost as a matter of course. Who wanted a fourth Mad Max movie, after all? Certainly not me!
But the Oscars' pursuit of ratings at the expense of everything maddening and frustrating and occasionally wonderful about the Oscars is only going to dilute the Oscars. The Oscars are a big, dumb, archaic tradition that dates from a time when the movies were the biggest, and sometimes the only, game in pop culture.
Trying to impose top-down changes, instead of counting on the continued diversification of the organization's membership creating changes from the bottom up, feels desperate and covered in flop sweat. Let the Oscars be the Oscars '-- the lively, ridiculous Oscars '-- instead of trying to make them into some pale shadow of themselves.
Save Sarah Jeong! And Kevin Williamson, Quinn Norton, and Joy Reid Too | WIRED
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 11:34
The work of polemicists like Sarah Jeong, recently hired to The New York Times editorial board, is to make arguments in public space.
Polemicists can be insufferable. They get to be gadflies and think themselves Socratic. They're belligerent. They have a reputation for laziness and Twitter addiction; they often shun shoe leather. Many beat reporters and enterprise teams believe, with some justification, that writers of editorials do nothing but steal their hard-won discoveries and grandly opine about them from their sofas.
But polemic, as a form, is far older than reporting. And today, polemicists'--writers of op-eds, analysis, criticism'--are subject to the same rules of accuracy, logic, and copyediting that bind everyone in traditional media. They must show extensive familiarity with arguments that contradict their own. Their arguments have to track. Their facts have to be right. If they make mistakes, they have to issue corrections. And they can't advocate for violence, insurrection, sedition.
Virginia Heffernan (@page88) is an Ideas contributor at WIRED and the author of Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art. She is also a cohost of Trumpcast, an op-ed columnist at the Los Angeles Times, and a frequent contributor to Politico.
At the same time, polemicists have significant freedoms that reporters don't. They get to use wilder and more openly rhetorical language. Their work is served hot; they don't pretend to icy objectivity. They are also expected to'--and, by nature, inclined to'--enter the BDSM fray of internet quarrels, where the language gets even wilder. Still, corrections and even retractions are expected after missteps.
In this way, Alex Jones, the self-styled performance artist who was recently banned from platforms like Facebook and iTunes, and Sean Hannity, the headliner showman of Fox News, are not polemicists. Their work is not to build stimulating and internally consistent arguments; it's to create ideological psychodrama. Solecisms are standard. Hannity and Jones lean on rhetorical figures made famous by illuminati-phobes and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Devices of persuasion for Jones and Hannity include mostly top-of-lungs emphasis, and not infrequently growling and howling.
But Jeong, as well as flash-point journalists like Quinn Norton, Kevin Williamson, and Joy Reid, are special-forces polemicists at the height of their powers, with track records of compelling, high-spirited, and original arguments. They write like fiends; they render high-handed verdicts; they crack jokes; they broach dicey topics; they close cases; they can be just; they can be mean. They also wear their subject position as a badge of honor. Jeong is a progressive and a feminist. Norton is an anarchist. Williamson is a conservative. Reid is a Democrat.
What's been weird this year is that all four of these writers have found their careers in jeopardy after they popped off on the internet in exactly the pushy, discourteous, and impolitic style that made their names. Over the past 15 years, it turns out, Reid blogged some cruel stuff about LGBTQ people. Kevin Williamson tweeted cruel stuff about women who have abortions. Quinn Norton professed her affection for a Neo-Nazi. And, as was revealed last week, Sarah Jeong slagged off white people in a string of sardonic tweets.
And each spent time in the stockades. Norton was hired and fired from The New York Times on a single day in February. Williamson was fired from The Atlantic in April. Reid kept her job at MSNBC, but came in for internal criticism, and had an award revoked. Jeong, well, we'll see'--as of this writing, people on Twitter are still gunning for her firing from the Times. (In an inevitable subplot, Andrew Sullivan, the conservative commentator at New York magazine, acted wounded at Jeong's searing critique of white people as goblins; people then called for his firing.)
Tediously, the opposition to them has divided along party lines. Liberals pushed to save Reid and are pushing to save Jeong. Conservatives supported Williamson. Quinn Norton, whom I worked with at The Message, didn't have many defenders, but not because what she did was uniquely terrible; instead, she's a brilliant enigma, and no one knows what to do with an anarchist who fluently speaks the language of the dark internet, where many of us still can't tell hate speech from hello.
The hazing these writers get doesn't seem to express specific misgivings about their work. How many of Jeong's critics have even read her groundbreaking 2015 book The Internet of Garbage about cybercrime and online bullying? Or Williamson's 2015 Case Against Trump?
Instead, the online spasms about these four seems to reflect anxiety, when American political discourse is undisciplined and often infantile, about the role of the professional polemicist more generally.
It's important to see that where reporters aim to keep cool heads, polemicists fail at their jobs when they lapse from passion and eccentricity. They are paid to wear their bias, as the critic Emily Nussbaum once put it, like ''a Celtic arm tattoo.''
Getting to agitate for your perspective may sound like fun, and it can be, but it's a high-wire act. You make enemies; you lose friends; colleagues who do straight reporting look askance at your showboating or tone deafness. Finally, of course, you get trolled. Often for weeks. You're disgusting and brain-damaged and ancient and I will kill your kids. That can really take the life out of you.
But it's the job. For years I was a critic at The New York Times; the executive editor at the time welcomed me with extortion: Keep my voice, or else. All the winds of heaven and earth at the Times would conspire to knock that voice out of me, he said, but I must never let it go. In practice, that meant insisting on my prerogative to stake out-there claims with the skeptical copy desk, and sitting for lectures from my immediate supervisors, who risked embarrassment in their sections whenever I went too far.
Still, being boring was, professionally, much riskier; it was the firing offense, and the top boss would not tolerate it. We heard cautionary tales of critics and op-ed writers whose columns had turned stale or redundant or moribund. They were quarantined, and pushed out. If the role of the enterprise team at a newspaper is to get scoops, and the role of beat reporters to be first and best to the news, the role of opinion writers is to provoke discussion. This is how the various teams win esteem and prizes, and how the reputations'--and fortunes'--of newspapers are made and lost. My first boss in journalism, Jacob Weisberg at Slate, wanted a flood of responses'--ad hominem, sexist, nitpicky, whatever'-- to every column I wrote; the comments section at Slate was then called the Fray. It was supposed to get rough. You were doing something very, very wrong if the comments were all amens.
When my originality flagged at the Times, and all I wanted to say about a sitcom was ''this is pretty good,'' I'd curse the imperative to be unboring and to meekly submit to my next beating in the Twitter coliseum. Liz Phair crossed my mind: ''They wonder just how wild I would be/As they egg me on and keep me mad/They play me like a pitbull in a basement.''
Polemicists like Frank Rich (''the Butcher of Broadway'') and Dale Peck (known for ''hatchet jobs'') used to be known for their brutal takedowns, which sent their targets into tailspins'--and earned them widespread wrath from everyone but their pleased employers. Yes, media organizations like the clicks, but that's a new metric for success. Historically, critics and opinion writers exerted pressure on received wisdom and dominant thought, inviting readers to match wits with them on the most pressing subjects of the day. Can white people be the objects of racism? Could abortion be seen as capital crime? Unchallenging polemics are like easy crossword puzzles; they fail to satisfy the expectations they set up.
So what about the performative bigotry that Jeong, Norton, Williamson, and Reid showed online in posts that they have'--for what it's worth'--since modified, extenuated or even retracted? It's simple: you're firing all the goddamn time, there are going to be plenty of misfires.
Journalists should, like everyone else, be fired for labor-law breaches, including the Title VII violations committed by many of the #MeToo perps. They should be fired for intellectual crimes including plagiarism, wrongful appropriation, ''dateline toe-touching,'' and of course inventing stories in the manner of disgraced entertainer Alex Jones, or fallen journalists like Stephen Glass, Janet Cooke, Jonah Lehrer and Jayson Blair. They should be fired for the serious offense of passing off client-work'--marketing, PR, advertising or propaganda campaigns'--as journalism. They should be fired for conflicts of interests, as Jay Solomon was, and for piping propaganda from their sources, a Judith Miller was.
But fire journalists for acting drunk on Twitter? No'--online pop-offs are an occupational hazard for authors of polemics, that strange breed. They're pitbulls on highwires, and every stumble represents the job at its most reckless. But it's still the job.
More Great WIRED StoriesIn nature, Google Lens does what the human brain can'tCrying 'pedophile' is the oldest propaganda trick aroundThe wild inner workings of a billion-dollar hacking groupInside the 23-dimensional world of your car's paint jobCrispr and the mutant future of foodLooking for more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest stories
Sarah Jeong: Boring, Typical Product of Higher Education | National Review
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 11:27
To decry her anti-white 'racism' gives her too much credit for originality. T he most significant feature of Sarah Jeong, the New York Times' embattled new editorial board member, is not that she is a ''racist,'' as her critics put it. It is that she is an entirely typical product of the contemporary academy.
After the New York Times announced Jeong's hire in early August, web sleuths dug out a mother lode of tweets demonstrating an obsession with whites. Samples include ''white men are [bullsh**],'' ''#cancelwhitepeople,'' ''National/ Pretty goddam white/ Radio,'' ''I'm tired of being mad about white dudes. I'm going to pretend they don't exist for a week,'' and ''I figured it out. Powerful white women automatically receive officer status in Club Feminism. Unless they disavow.'' Both the Times and Jeong blamed her posts on . . . you guessed, it, whites. Her status as a ''young Asian woman,'' in the Times' words, made her a subject of frequent online harassment, to which she responded ''for a period of time'' by ''imitating the rhetoric of her harassers.''
This argument was, to borrow a phrase, bullsh**. Jeong's five-year tweet trail is much longer than a mere ''period of time'' during which she allegedly experimented with counter-trolling. But most important, her tweets are not imitative of anything other than the ideology that now rules the higher-education establishment, including UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School, both of which Jeong attended. And that ideology is taking over non-academic institutions, whether in journalism, publishing, the tech sector, or the rest of corporate America. Sarah Jeong's tweets and blog posts are just a marker of the world we already live in.
The key features of Jeong's worldview are an obsession with whiteness and its alleged sins; a commitment to the claim that we live in a rape culture; and a sneering contempt for objectivity and truth-seeking. These are central tenets of academic victimology. From the moment freshmen arrive on a college campus, they are inundated by the message that they are either the bearers of white privilege or its victims. College presidents and the metastasizing diversity bureaucracy teach students to see racism where none exists, preposterously accusing their own institutions of systemic bias. ''Bias response teams,'' confidential ''discrimination hotlines,'' and implicit-bias training for faculty and staff roll forth from university coffers in wild abandon.
UC Berkeley's Division of Equity and Inclusion until recently hung banners throughout campus reminding students of their place in the ruthlessly competitive hierarchy of victimhood. One particularly lachrymose entry, featuring a female black and a Hispanic male student, urged the presumably ''non-diverse'' sector of Berkeley to ''create an environment where people other than yourself can exist.'' This year's White Privilege Conference, a nationwide academic gathering, featured panels on ''Breaking the Chains of Capitalism and White Supremacy,'' the ''Whiteness of Law,'' and ''How Whiteness Kills.'' The journal Cultural Studies of Science Education ran a perfectly standard article this year on how notions of merit and scientific truth are simply covers for white supremacy and racism, while the Feminist Journal of Geography argued that the convention of academic citations bolsters the status of those who are ''white, male, able-bodied, economically privileged, heterosexual, and cisgendered.''
Jeong's contempt for whites is the natural outcome of the victimology university, which teaches students to hate and rewards them for doing so. ''Who the [f***] hired you?'' a black Yale student screamed at a nationally renowned, progressive sociologist during a three-hour mob tirade in 2015. ''You are disgusting!'' At Evergreen State College in 2017, a student screamed ''[f***] you, you piece of shit'' at a progressive biology teacher who had questioned an official edict that whites stay off campus for a day. ''Get the [f***] out of here!'' screamed another. Yale responded to its mob tirade by conferring racial-justice awards on two of the participants. Evergreen's president apologized to the students who had verbally assaulted the biology professor and promised more diversity programming. Students regularly erupt in rage against the creative titans of Western civilization whom it is their privilege '-- in theory, at least '-- to read. In practice, of course, they do not read these luminaries of philosophy and literature before dismissing them as racist, patriarchal dead white males. When students complain that exposure to Plato, Shakespeare, or John Stuart Mill threatens their very survival, college administrators almost invariably beg forgiveness and create more alternative courses that honor ''diversity.''
Jeong deploys a coy, warmed-over postmodernism to buttress her refusal to accept facts.
Jeong's magnum opus of academic victimology is a long 2014 blog post on the Rolling Stone campus-rape hoax. Written after the Rolling Stone had retracted its sensational and wholly fictional story on a gruesome fraternity rape at the University of Virginia, Jeong's post tortuously and often incoherently explains why it is imperative to continue believing the pseudo-victim, Jackie. The effort to discredit the Rolling Stone story (a process otherwise known as belated fact-checking) represents the patriarchy's campaign to deny the existence of rape culture, she writes.
The credo of the campus rape movement is: ''Believe unconditionally,'' as New York University's Wellness Exchange puts it. Jeong takes that credo to heart. ''The more I see these 'inconsistencies' and 'discrepancies' [in the Rolling Stone story] touted as evidence of falsehood, the more convinced I am that Jackie is not lying,'' Jeong writes. She sneers at such ''mundanities'' as dates and times that refute Jackie's narrative, a remarkable stance, one might think, for a journalist. Jeong parrots feminist nostrums on the ubiquity of rape: ''Rape is not some rarified, exotic crime. It's all around us. Our rapists are acquaintances, family members, boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, spouses, trusted friends.'' David Lisak, a ubiquitous campus-rape lecturer, makes a similar point in his standard presentation. ''Rape happens with terrifying frequency. I'm not talking of someone who comes onto campus but students, Rutgers students, who prowl for victims in bars, parties, wherever alcohol is being consumed,'' I observed him telling a Rutgers undergraduate audience in 2008.
Jeong deploys a coy, warmed-over postmodernism to buttress her refusal to accept facts. ''They own the words ['they' are presumably white males]. They own the law. They own reality or at least what everyone acknowledges as reality. They own the Truth', the Truth that makes up how we understand our society.'' Another of those anti-feminist ''Truths''' that Jeong, in her Foucauldian mode, dismisses is ''what happened with the Duke Lacrosse players'' (falsely accused of raping a black stripper). To Jeong, the fact that the prosecutor in the Duke case was disbarred for ignoring clearly exculpatory evidence is of no import. The post-modernist belief that truth is always an ideological construct allows her to ignore whatever facts contradict her favored story about the world.
Ever the good student, Jeong also absorbed a bastardized version of critical legal studies and critical race studies, both prevalent at Harvard Law. Those by now hoary theories portray the great traditions of Anglo-American jurisprudence as just a mystifying cover for illegitimate power. ''In law school,'' Jeong writes in her Rolling Stone post, ''we learned that due process is what we get in lieu of justice. And what's due process besides a series of rules that are meant to keep things as predictable as [f***ing] possible?'' It would be salutary for Jeong to live for a while in a society without due process and where the workings of justice are not ''as predictable as [f***ing] possible.''
The only interesting thing about Jeong's otherwise banal regurgitations of academic theory is her status as an Asian social-justice warrior who identifies with POCs (persons of color) rather than with whites: For the enforcers of academic ''diversity,'' however, Asians do not count as POCs; they are in the same sorry basket of deplorables as whites. Whether at selective colleges and universities such as Harvard or selective K''12 schools such as New York City's Stuyvesant High School, the diversocrats seek to artificially suppress the number of Asians in order to make space for officially designated ''students of color.'' By this definition, to be a student of color is to not be academically competitive; since Asians are more than competitive, they cannot be students of color. And the way to keep their numbers down is to require them to meet much higher academic standards of admission than students of color, who are admitted with standardized test scores and GPAs that would be automatically disqualifying for an Asian. It is not hated conservative whites who are trying to exclude highly qualified Asians, it is Jeong's would-be allies in the social-justice movement. Likewise, in the tech sector, when companies subject their employees to implicit-bias training and harangues about diversity, they do not count their many Asian employees as proof that their managers are not discriminating against applicants ''of color.''
Human-resources departments in corporations across the country are pervaded by the view that the corporation's white-male employees are incapable of fairly judging females and underrepresented minorities without large dollops of diversity training.
Jeong is hardly the first Asian to embrace a left-wing ideology that goes against material interest. College campuses do their best to cultivate an oppositional ethnic identity in Asian students; the left-wing Asian complaint about being regarded as a ''model minority'' belongs to this effort to forge a bond with official ''students of color'' by denying Asians' admirable social capital and high-achieving academic culture. The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund has had Asian employees over the years who worked to defend anti-Asian racial preferences; legal academia, too, contains more than a few left-wing Asian professors. What these left-identifying Asians think of other Asians who seek color-blind admissions and hiring is unclear. It is a question of great political importance how the majority of Asian Americans will self-identify in the future '-- with diversity ideology or with a mainstream meritocratic one. Academia is doing everything it can to tip the scales.
There is no sign that the Times will rethink its decision to stand by Jeong, despite the continuing excavation of her contemptuous social-media trail. And indeed, it would be hypocritical to do so, since there is no distance between Jeong's worldview and the Times'. The Times sees every disparity in gender and racial representation, whether in education or the economy, as proof of white-male discrimination. Tallying those disparities is an evergreen front-page topic. ''Hollywood Is as White, Straight and Male as Ever'' was the headline of its most recent Gender Letter. ''Sexism is a male invention. White supremacy is a white invention. Transphobia is a cisgender invention,'' concluded a column by one of its contributing editors in January. The Times treats every acquittal of a male student accused of campus rape as a miscarriage of justice.
Meanwhile, the racial gap in academic performance, which explains the lack of proportional representation in student bodies, faculties, and the elite professions, is as taboo a fact in the Times' coverage of ''diversity'' as what Jeong calls the ''watery and weak 'counterevidence''' that refuted the Rolling Stone UVA rape story. The paper continues to include Michael Brown, killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014, in its roster of alleged victims of racist police violence, even though the Obama Justice Department conclusively showed that Brown's own behavior justified the shooting. The facts of crime are also rigorously excluded from the Times' coverage of the criminal-justice system, leaving only racism as the explanation for racial disparities in stops, arrests, and incarceration rates. Other mainstream media outlets follow the identical protocols.
As products of the victimology university enter the workplace, they are bringing their ideology with them. A lawsuit against Google by fired computer engineer James Damore reveals an employee culture that mimics academic social-justice principles. (Damore was fired for questioning Google's feminist orthodoxies.) The ''rule of law has been killing blackfolks for generations . . . Trump was elected so that law would be harder on blackfolk,'' reads one post on an internal discussion website, echoing Jeong's critical-race-theory musings. ''We have a bunch of white males crying bloody murder over the suggestion that we slightly lower the hiring bar for women and minorities,'' reads another.
Google is hardly unique. Human-resources departments in corporations across the country are pervaded by the view that the corporation's white-male employees are incapable of fairly judging females and underrepresented minorities without large dollops of diversity training. Race and gender quotas, whether in publishing, the media, or scientific research labs, are becoming more extreme and more ineluctable.
To focus on Sarah Jeong's ''racism'' is too comforting, since it personalizes the issue and suggests that she is an outlier. Instead, she is all too common.
NOW WATCH: NYT Stands By Writer After Racist Tweets Surface
Paul Manafort aside, white-collar crimes just aren't being prosecuted anymore - The Washington Post
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 15:51
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters) One possible lesson of the many brazen, conspicuous scandals related to President Trump and others in his orbit: The U.S. government has been massively underinvesting in enforcement and prosecution of white-collar crime.
Trumpkins argue that the pileup of charges against onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is a sign that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has gone rogue. After all, many of the allegations against Manafort '-- laundering $30 million in income, submitting false tax returns, lying to banks, failing to register as a foreign agent, obstructing justice '-- stem from his work in and for Ukraine before 2016. They're not directly related to his time on the Trump campaign.
Some of Manafort's alleged crimes, as Trump loves to point out, are more than a decade old!
But the right question isn't why Mueller is going after Manafort now. It is: Why didn't someone go after Manafort before? After all, there were just So. Many. Red. Flags.
Not just the wire transfers to buy jackets made from exotic animals but also the decades of work for international thugs and kleptocrats, such as former Filipino president Ferdinand Marcos or former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Manafort is also hardly the only person associated with Trump who has engaged in conspicuously suspicious financial and political activities.
There was the apparent treatment of the Trump Foundation as a personal checkbook, from which Trump used other people's charitable donations to settle his for-profit businesses' legal disputes and to purchase gigantic portraits of himself. The operation of Eric Trump's personal foundation also has raised similar questions of self-dealing, according to Forbes.
Or there's the fishy stock trades by Trump cronies, including Carl Icahn and even the current commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross. Ross shorted the stock of a Kremlin-linked company days after he learned journalists were reporting a potentially negative story about the firm. (Both Icahn and Ross have denied engaging in insider trading.)
Or former national security adviser Michael Flynn's failure to register as a foreign agent working on behalf of Turkey.
There's a clear reason so many Trump-related figures likely felt free to engage in dodgy behavior in broad daylight: They didn't expect anyone to care. And absent the scrutiny that came with Trump's political success, such activities probably would have gone ignored.
Federal prosecutions of white-collar crime '-- a category that includes tax, corporate, health-care or securities fraud, among other crimes '-- are on track this year to reach their lowest level on record. That's according to data compiled by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), whose data go back to 1986. Prosecutions of crimes related to public corruption are also on pace to set a record low.
The latest available Justice Department data show that during the first nine months of fiscal 2018, there were 4,350 new white collar crime prosecutions. If this activity continues at the same pace, the annual total of prosecutions will be 5,800 this fiscal year, compared with 5,825 in fiscal 2017. (Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse)Yet we have little reason to believe actual levels of such crimes have decreased. So why has enforcement plummeted? That's subject to some debate.
The Trump administration has openly prioritized prosecution of other crimes, particularly those related to immigration. But the downward trend in white-collar and official-corruption prosecutions predates the Trump presidency. The Barack Obama administration, you may recall, was often criticized for failing to hold corporations and executives accountable in the wake of the financial crisis.
Some argue that big corporations and the wealthy have become too politically influential. Jesse Eisinger, in his excellent book ''The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives ,'' blames a culture of risk aversion in the ranks of the Justice Department. Eric H. Holder Jr., an attorney general under Obama, once suggested that corporate consolidation left some firms too big to jail.
But undoubtedly part of the issue is resources.
After 9/11, for instance, terrorism investigations became more of a priority, crowding out available dollars and personnel for white-collar investigations.
Congress's draconian budget cuts for the Internal Revenue Service, likewise, caused audit rates to plummet. According to TRAC data, criminal prosecutions referred by the IRS to the Justice Department are about half their level from just five years ago and are poised to dip to a new low this year.
Astonishingly, this decline in enforcement is now being cited as evidence of innocence. Manafort's lawyer, in his opening statement last week, shamelessly suggested that his client must not be guilty of tax fraud because he'd never been audited.
Likewise, on Fox News, Trump surrogate and former federal prosecutor Joseph diGenova objected to Mueller's criminal prosecution of Manafort in part because Manafort ''has no criminal record.''
Which is, you know, a thing that's true for every defendant, until they get prosecuted.
In any case, contra such objections, Manafort's prosecution today is less a sign of Mueller's overreach, and more a sign of the rest of our federal government's decades of underperformance.
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Top Government Spooks & Hackers on the FBI's Payroll Just Dismantled DOJ Mueller's Claims the DNC was Hacked '' True PunditTrue Pundit
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 21:14
Featured Politics SecurityTop Government Spooks & Hackers on the FBI's Payroll Just Dismantled DOJ Mueller's Claims the DNC was HackedWe asked a number of government spooks and hackers and contractors who have worked for the FBI and other spooky federal agencies to examine the Democratic National Committee's chronic claims '-- which have been echoed by Robert Mueller '-- that it was hacked and that is how its internal emails were divulged prior to the 2016 election.
Their conclusion? Not possible.
The DNC breach was an inside job.
This story is another piece to the story we broke last week: A Group of Top Government Spooks & Hackers on the FBI's Payroll Just Tore Mueller's Russian Indictments to Shreds; ''Piles'' of Fabricated Evidence Detailed Here
A report from December 19th, 2015 by Amy Dacey, CEO of the Democratic National Committee, January 2014 to August, 2016 just might throw a monkey wrench into Mueller's investigation.
On Wednesday, December 16, 2015 NGP VAN (DNC voter database and other proprietary information) applied a software patch to the DNC's voter database system that created an error where Bernie Sanders' campaign staff could access valuable information belonging to the Clinton campaign.
We would presume Clinton staff email addresses would be some of this information.
NGP VAN found Sanders' campaign staff, including his national data director, had accessed ''proprietary information'' from the Clinton campaign database.
These Bernie staffers saved this information to personal folders where ''at least one staffer appeared to have generated reports and exported them from the system.''
Amy Dacey was the CEO of the Democratic National Committee from January 2014 until her resignation in August 2016.
''None of this is in dispute. It's fully documented in the system logs''''On Thursday December 17, 2015, further NGP VAN analysis revealed that it was very likely that a user had taken data out of the system during the breach''Dacey goes on to say that Sanders campaign confirmed that one of its staff was deleting his digital footprint in order to hide his activities in gathering Clinton campaign data.
''The next step is to continue to investigate the incident with the help of an independent auditor.''''The DNC is currently beginning the process of securing an additional, independent audit by a data security firm of NGP VAN's procedures.''Well, did this happen and who was the auditor? CrowdStrike was hired by the DNC in April, 2016, around 4 months after this breach. Was it CrowdStrike who was hired for this audit?
If CrowdStrike was the auditor for this localized breach that adds an interesting overlap for these Russian investigations considering The Sanders' campaign had full access to the Clinton campaign database. How long did they have this access?
FBI, between September, 2015 and November, 2015 was consistently notifying DNC of attacks on their server, per the IC Report, but DNC's IT staff didn't find a breach.
Supposedly DNC's IT staff finally found a breach in April, 2016. Makes ya wonder why they couldn't find one from September to November, 2015 during the time when NGP VAN inadvertently gave Sanders' campaign access to Clinton campaign's database.
Another interesting overlap is found within the DNC lawsuit filed against everyone and their mother:
Around July 27, 2015 (about 2 months before FBI's warnings) ''Russian intelligence agents hacked into DNC's computers and network '' IC Report & DNC Lawsuit.Around April 18, 2016, Russia, GRU, and GRU Operative 1 (Guccifer 2.0) *separately*hacked into the DNC's computers and network '' DNC Lawsuit.Is this Mueller and the FBI, possibly the CIA's construction of a Twilight Zone episode?
Who is this mysterious Guccifer 2.0 character and where did he/she/they really get the NGP VAN Clinton database records?
Amy Dacey was mentioned in the Wikileaks email dump from July 22, 2016 where Clinton campaign staffers were conspiring to attach either the ''jew'' or ''atheist'' label to Bernie to sway ''Southern Baptist peeps'' away from Bernie, to Hillary.
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz appointed Dacey to the post of CEO of the DNC in October 2013, and began her work for the DNC in January 2014.
Top Government Spooks & Hackers on the FBI's Payroll Just Dismantled DOJ Mueller's Claims the DNC was Hacked
Whaaa! Bernie Sanders' campaign had access to Clinton campaign database in NGP VAN? And they downloaded and exported the proprietary data! WHAAA?https://t.co/3l00teBDQT
'-- ||:\|__VM__||\:| (@myhtopoeic) August 8, 2018
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Russia has infiltrated the United States' electric grid, but only as a warning - Axios
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 19:48
In the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia deterred any major attack by the other with existentially dangerous arsenals of nuclear-tipped missiles. Now, Russia has what it views as a potent new deterrent, experts say '-- cyber implants in the U.S. electric grid.
What's going on: Over the last year, Russian hackers have infiltrated power stations and other points on the U.S. grid '-- and now are inside hundreds, empowering them to create chaos with massive blackouts, U.S. officials say.
The big picture: Experts tell Axios that, rather than plotting an attack, the Kremlin is sending a deliberate message.
QuoteYou guys better back up because look what we can do!
'-- James Lewis, director of the technology program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
In a special Axios report yesterday, current and former senior U.S. intelligence and security officials said a crippling cyberattack is the country's greatest threat. Security experts say a blackout, especially if prolonged, could create social and economic chaos '-- and possibly lead to civil violence.U.S. officials are increasingly worried about the Russian breaches. On July 23, the Department of Homeland Security went public, describing the infiltrations by Kremlin-backed actors called Dragonfly or Energetic Bear, and it plans to ring the alarm in further briefings around the country. In a way, the dynamic resembles the Cold War:
The U.S. and Moscow are eyeball to eyeball, each capable of taking down large parts of the other's infrastructure. "Since 2015, the Russian government has been clear that it has wanted a nuclear-like deterrence in cyberspace," says Christopher Porter, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and chief intelligence strategist at FireEye, a cybersecurity firm. "The U.S. has shown 'shock and awe' in cyberspace, and Russia wants to show it can keep pace with the U.S."That's why Russia has launched hundreds of incursions against the U.S. grid. There's no one main switch that can cause a massive nationwide blackout because the system itself is so decentralized.But, unlike the depths of the Cold War, the two rivals have no treaty setting boundaries for weapons deployment and use. In both the Obama and Trump administrations, Russia has pushed for a cyber arms control agreement. But arms control experts say it will be extremely hard to formulate one that is verifiable and enforceable.
What's next: For now, experts say that, while Russia's grid attacks may seem aggressive, they have actually been comparatively restrained. In 2016, for instance, it attacked and took down a large part of Ukraine's electric grid, but did not use that as cover to send in tanks or capture more territory, Porter said. Instead, at this stage, in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, Moscow seems to be signaling its capabilities.
Lewis added that, in the U.S. specifically: "There's been all this talk of doing something against Russia because of the election hacking. They want the option of doing something back."Go deeper: The greatest threats facing the U.S., a special report from Axios.
Omarosa secretly recorded Trump: report | TheHill
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 21:28
Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a former aide to President Trump Donald John TrumpFive takeaways from Ohio's too-close-to-call special election Mar-a-Lago insiders provided input on VA policy, personnel decisions: report Trump claims victory as Balderson holds on to slim lead in Ohio MORE , secretly recorded conversations with the president while she was serving in the White House, multiple sources told the Daily Beast.
Manigault-Newman, who prior to working for the administration appeared as a contestant on Trump's reality show "The Apprentice," is coming out with a tell-all book about her experience in the White House. The book, titled "Unhinged," is set to be released on Aug. 14.
She wouldn't be the only person to have recorded her interactions with the president: Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime personal lawyer and sometime-fixer, is known to have recorded Trump as well. One such recording was recently released and revealed Trump discussing possible payment to a former Playboy model with whom he was accused of having an affair.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
Simon & Schuster, the publisher of ''Unhinged,'' responded to the Daily Beast in a statement. ''Without commenting on the specific contents of UNHINGED,'' the spokesperson said, ''we are confident that Omarosa Manigault Newman Omarosa Onee Manigault NewmanTina Fey returns to 'Saturday Night Live' as Sarah Palin with advice for Trump staffers Omarosa confirms 's---hole' comments for Nigerian president The Memo: Kelly said to be losing influence with Trump MORE can substantiate her highly-anticipated account of life inside the Trump White House.''
The revelation of the tapes marks a stark departure from what was once a close relationship with Trump. In 2015, Trump tweeted about one of Manigault-Newman's television appearances, saying, ''.@OMAROSA You were fantastic on television this weekend. Thank you so much '' you are a loyal friend!''
Leaked excerpts from the tell-all suggest this closeness is no longer shared. In the book, Manigault-Newman reflects on an interview the president did with NBC's Lester Holt, saying "His mental decline could not be denied."
In an appearance on "Celebrity Big Brother" following her departure from the White House, she can be heard expressing concern for the direction of the Trump administration. ''No, it's not going to be okay, it's not '... It's so bad,'' she said.
Russians Have Penetrated Florida's Election Systems, Senator Says '' Mother Jones
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 11:31
US Democratic Senator Bill Nelson speaks during a press conference in Miami in July. Giorgio Viera/EFE via ZUMA
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Intelligence officials have warned for months that Russia will seek to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections, just as it did in 2016. On Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida offered up perhaps the most startling example yet of these efforts: that Russian operatives had gained access to the state's election systems.
''They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about,'' Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. He added, ''We were requested by the chairman and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee to let supervisors of election in Florida know that the Russians are in their records.'' Nelson is campaigning for reelection against Florida's current governor, Republican Rick Scott.
This is one of many indications that the Russians have not been deterred from interfering in US elections. Last month, Microsoft announced that it had intercepted efforts to penetrate the campaigns of three candidates for office this year. One of the targets was Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who is in a tough reelection battle.
A swing state, Florida is a prime target for election hacking. And Nelson's race, like McCaskill's, is closely contested and could determine which party controls the Senate next year. By sowing chaos in a few key Florida counties, the Russians could potentially throw the outcome of the Senate race, or congressional and other races in the state, in doubt. And if they retain access to the state election system in 2020, they could potentially alter the results of the presidential race'--as the 2000 election showed, a presidential contest can come down to a few Florida counties.
The Kremlin also targeted Florida's systems in 2016. Russian hackers successfully phished employees of VR Systems, a Florida-based elections services provider, according to an NSA report obtained by the Intercept. Access to the vendor allowed the hackers to attach malware to a genuine company operating manual that was then sent to 122 email addresses belonging to ''local government organizations'' and others in charge of the ''management of voter registration systems,'' including within Florida, according to the report.
According to Christopher Krebs, a senior Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity official, the Russians scanned voter registration systems and other election-related websites in every state in search of vulnerabilities as part of their 2016 operation.
Later Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement throwing doubt on Nelson's claims, stating that the department was unaware of ''any new compromises by Russian actors.''
DHS statement on Bill Nelson's comments that Russians penetrated Florida voter reg system: ''While we are aware of Senator Nelson's recent statements, we have not seen any new compromises by Russian actors of election infrastructure.'' pic.twitter.com/gXKpnWsUdH
'-- Sam Levine (@srl) August 9, 2018
This story has been updated to include the comment from the Department of Homeland Security.
VIDEO - CNN host delivers climate change lecture because of hail in the summertime - YouTube
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 14:59
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Thu, 09 Aug 2018 14:21
VIDEO - Handling of US trade dispute causes rift in Chinese leadership: sources
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 13:44
A growing trade war with the United States is causing rifts within China's Communist Party, with some critics saying that an overly nationalistic Chinese stance may have hardened the U.S. position, according to four sources close to the government.
President Xi Jinping still has a firm grip on power, but an unusual surge of criticism about economic policy and how the government has handled the trade war has revealed rare cracks in the ruling Communist Party.
A backlash is being felt at the highest levels of the government, possibly hitting a close aide to Xi, his ideology chief and strategist Wang Huning, according to two sources familiar with discussions in leadership circles.
A prominent and influential academic whose views have found favor in some party quarters has also come under attack for his strident views on Chinese power.
Wang, who was the architect of the "China Dream", Xi's vision for China to become a strong and prosperous nation, has been taken to task by the Chinese leader for crafting an excessively nationalistic image for the country, which has only provoked the United States, the sources said.
"He's in trouble for mishandling the propaganda and hyping up China too much," said one of the sources, who has ties to China's leadership and propaganda system.
The office of the party's spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on Wang and his relationship with Xi, or on whether China had erred in its messaging in the trade war.
There is a growing feeling within the Chinese government that the outlook for China has "become grim", according to a government policy advisor, following the deterioration in relations between China and the United States over trade. The advisor requested anonymity.
Those feelings are also shared by other influential voices.
"Many economists and intellectuals are upset about China's trade war policies," an academic at a Chinese policy think tank told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. "The overarching view is that China's current stance has been too hard-line and the leadership has clearly misjudged the situation."
That view contrasts with the thinking at the beginning of the year of many Chinese academics who had touted China's ability to withstand the trade row in the face of Trump's perceived political weakness at home.
China thought it had reached a deal with Washington in May to avoid a trade war, but was shocked when the Trump administration, in Beijing's eyes, went back on that agreement.
"The evolution from a trade conflict to trade war has made people rethink things," the policy advisor said. "This is seen as being related to the exaggeration of China's strength by some Chinese institutions and scholars that have influenced the U.S. perceptions and even domestic views."
One official who is familiar with China's propaganda efforts said the messaging had gone astray.
"In the trade war, the line of thinking in the propaganda has been that Trump is crazy," said the official. "In fact, what he is scared of is us getting strong."
CONFIDENT CHINA?Under Xi, officials have become increasingly confident in proclaiming what they see as China's rightful place as a world leader, casting off a long-held maxim of Deng Xiaoping, the former paramount leader who said the country needed to "bide its time and hide its strength."
That confidence has been apparent as the government pushes its Belt and Road initiative to develop trade routes between East and West and takes a hard line on territorial issues such as the South China Sea and Taiwan.
Hu Angang, an economics professor at Tsinghua University and an expert in the field of "Chinese exceptionalism", is one prominent advocate for the view that China has achieved "comprehensive national power."
In recent weeks, Hu has faced a public backlash, with critics blaming him for making the United States wary of China by trumpeting and exaggerating its relative economic, technical and military might.
That view of Hu is also shared by some people in official circles, according to the policy advisor.
Hu declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
The cracks within the party come as China's stock markets and currency have slumped, and the government has struggled to shore up the economy to cushion the impact of the trade war.
China in recent weeks has encouraged more lending and pledged to use fiscal policy - including tax cuts and more funding for local governments - to combat slowing economic growth and rising uncertainty driven in part by the escalating trade war.
Xi has had other fires to hose too, including public anger over a vaccine fraud case and protests in Beijing this week by investors in failed online lending platforms.
Meanwhile, top leaders are believed to be meeting for secretive annual talks, most likely at the seaside resort of Beidaihe, leaving a policy vacuum as Xi and other officials all but vanish from state media. Based on what has happened in previous years, that could be for up to two weeks.
It is unclear if Wang, the propaganda boss, will face any consequences, and there may be other reasons for the tensions within the party related to him.
A third source with ties to the leadership told Reuters the tension had to do with Wang opposing a cult of personality that has been forming around Xi.
Wang still features in state media and diplomats and leadership sources say he is unlikely to be removed from the Standing Committee, the party body that runs China, in what would be an unprecedented move.
Though official media has in recent days been filled with defiant commentary regarding the United States and the trade war, there have been signs of a shift in China's messaging.
Beijing has begun downplaying Made in China 2025, the state-backed industrial policy that is core to Washington's complaints about the country's technological ambitions.
State television's English-language news channel CGTN, which is aimed at foreigners, has also been focusing on how ordinary Americans will be affected by more expensive prices for cheap made-in-China consumer goods and the damage tariffs will do to the U.S. economy.
But the thinking in Chinese government circles is that the damage has already been done - and that China has learned the hard way that its domestic propaganda is now being scrutinized abroad in a way it never was before.
"It's impossible for China to 'bide its time and hide its strength', but at least we can control the volume of our own propaganda and tell China's story the proper way," the policy insider said.
"When the size of China's economy was small, it got little outside attention but China is now closely watched."
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Thu, 09 Aug 2018 13:28
VIDEO - Changes Are Coming To The Oscars : NPR
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 13:13
Oscar statues are seen backstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. Christopher Polk/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Christopher Polk/Getty Images Oscar statues are seen backstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images In a letter to its members sent this morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) listed three changes approved by its Board of Governors.
1. A three-hour Oscars telecast
We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.
To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.
2. New award category
We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.
3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars
The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.
The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.
There's an important through-line, here. All three of these changes are about ratings '-- the Nielsen kind, not the MPAA kind. The Academy is determined to reverse a trend of shrinking viewership to its annual telecast.
(Some context, here: This year's Oscars, in March, were watched by 26.5 million people '-- which is, let's be clear, a huge ratings number, second only to the Super Bowl. But! That number was down 20% from the year before, and represents the least-watched Oscars telecast in history '-- or at least since Nieslen boxes have been a thing.)
We'll address points 1 and 3 in a bit, but it's point 2 '-- the new category for popular film '-- that's getting people talking today.
By creating a new category for "outstanding achievement in popular film," the Academy is very likely attempting to ensure that the broadcast will feature movies '-- and actors, and directors '-- that many people will be not just familiar with, but passionate about. They want those eyeballs. Those (in the case of films like Black Panther, say) those nerdy, nerdy eyeballs, and the rooting interests they represent.
They've made similar allowances in the past. The expansion of best picture nominees from five to (as many as) ten, which was introduced at the 82nd Academy Awards held in March 2010, was widely regarded as the Academy's attempt to correct for the fact that The Dark Knight and other popular, genre fare tended to get shut out of that category.
Critics of this latest move point out, rightly, that there's already an award for being a popular film '-- box office grosses. The Oscars are meant to award artistic excellence in film, even if they seem too-often content to award excellence in Oscar campaigning '-- so why a separate category that can't help but be seen as an also-ran, a consolation prize? And what criteria will be used to determine whether a film qualifies as "popular?" These aren't questions to which we have answers, yet.
The Academy has recently made much-lauded moves to diversify and expand its membership, which would theoretically lead to a corresponding diversification and expansion of the kind of films that get nominated for, and awarded, Oscars.
Today's announcement seems like a decidedly inelegant gambit to accelerate, or perhaps do an end-run around, that process, and all for the purpose of Nielsen ratings.
Now, to point 1: By promising to bring the broadcast in under three hours, the Academy is seeking to address the chief, perennial criticism lobbed at it by critics, the public, and late-night comedians '-- namely, that the Oscars telecast is a bloated, overlong exercise in Hollywood navel-gazing.
The Academy has made this promise before, of course. But they've sought to address it, in years past, by zipping through the technical awards (which are held and taped days before the main Oscars telecast) and hectoring presenters to keep their acceptance speeches pithy.
What they're proposing now is different '-- they'll keep handing out awards without a break, even during commercials. (They don't specify which categories will be shunted to slots that won't be broadcast live, but if you're, say, a Hollywood sound editor or production designer, it might be best to start mentally preparing and managing your family's expectations now.) The Academy stresses that it will tape and edit those acceptance speeches on the fly, and insert them into the broadcast at some point.
And as for point 3 of the Academy's letter '-- that bit about broadcast date. They're scooching up the broadcast a couple weeks earlier in February '-- but not until the 2020 telecast. So the upcoming Oscars will still be held on Sunday, February 24th, 2019 as planned '-- but the year after that, the broadcast will fall earlier in traditional awards season. This decision will likely affect the timing of other awards, and the announcement of that year's Oscar nominees '-- no Hollywood agent is going to happily agree to cutting the time allotted for Oscar campaigns two weeks shorter.
All three of these changes, Nielsen-focused as they are, may seem puzzling ... until you remember that the Academy's day-to-day activities depend, at least in part, on the sale of TV rights to the Oscars broadcast.
VIDEO - In Amsterdam, Even The Tourists Say There Are Too Many Tourists : NPR
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 13:13
Fewer than 1 million people live in Amsterdam, but almost 20 million visit each year. The city is working to crack down on "overtourism." Above, bicycles are parked outside Sexyland nightclub. Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images Fewer than 1 million people live in Amsterdam, but almost 20 million visit each year. The city is working to crack down on "overtourism." Above, bicycles are parked outside Sexyland nightclub.
Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images Bert Nap has had enough. On a recent night, the longtime Amsterdam resident opened his door to confront a gaggle of young, drunken British men, all dressed as Elvis for a bachelor party, making a tremendous ruckus.
Nap asked them: "Why don't you do that in your own hometown?"
This was hardly the first time he'd been disturbed by late-night revelers. Many are tourists who vomit in his potted plants, urinate in his mailbox, and scream-sing outside his door. "My city is seen as one where anything goes," he says.
Standing in front of Nap's open door, one drunken Elvis replied: Amsterdam sells drugs and prostitution '-- and he and his friends partake. "We buy your streets, we are paying for it," he recalls the Elvis told him. "Just move; go live elsewhere."
Bert Nap and Conchita Lavalette live in Amsterdam's Red Light District. Nap first moved here 40 years ago as a student. Joanna Kakissis for NPR hide caption
toggle caption Joanna Kakissis for NPR Bert Nap and Conchita Lavalette live in Amsterdam's Red Light District. Nap first moved here 40 years ago as a student.
Joanna Kakissis for NPR Nap, a 59-year-old author of language textbooks, does not want to live anywhere else. He moved here 40 years ago as a student. He and his German-teacher wife, Conchita Lavalette, 55, raised their daughter in a cute house between a chapel and a canal in Amsterdam's Red Light District.
Now, before you roll your eyes and think: The Red Light District? What did you expect, Mr. Nap? Consider that people have lived here for hundreds of years. The couple's daughter went to kindergarten next to the brothels.
"She grew up waving at the prostitutes, our neighbors," Nap says. "This was an actual neighborhood. Now, the tourists have crowded us out. It's a place where tourists mainly see other tourists."
Nutella waffles in a naughty Disneyland
Fewer than 1 million people live in Amsterdam, but city officials expect almost 20 million visitors this year. Most end up squeezing into the historic center of museums and canals and, of course, De Wallen, the oldest Red Light District in Amsterdam.
As a result, the center caters largely to tourists. Think cannabis cafes instead of grocery stores; trinket shops selling condom key rings instead of places where you can actually get keys made. And the smell of a popular stoner treat '-- waffles slathered with Nutella '-- replaces the fresh bread in bakeries.
"People come here and think that's our national food," Nap says, grimacing.
The problem is especially acute at night, when young, male tourists, usually drunk or stoned, treat Amsterdam's historic center like a naughty Disneyland.
"People our age come here because the flights are cheap and Amsterdam has this reputation of being a kind of Sin City," says Callum Challinor, an 18-year-old college student visiting from London. "So they push the boundaries."
"But we won't," adds his girlfriend Emillie Whitelock, 19. "We're just here for the weekend, and we want to remember it. Even my parents told us to go to the Red Light District."
She frowns as she watches a group of men taunt prostitutes standing behind windows. The men hold out their smartphones, prompting one of the women to roll her eyes and mouth, NO PHOTOS. The men whoop-whoop loudly and walk away.
"The young and dumb," sighs Bettina Carroll, 26, watching the men. She's from Louisiana and is in Amsterdam on her honeymoon with her husband, Brett, 29. "And they're smoking joints," Brett observes. They "would be in jail back home."
The Carrolls hold hands as they walk along an alley just around the corner from Nap's home. The alley, lined with red-illuminated brothels, is packed with young men, of course, as well as moms pushing strollers, grandmothers, exchange students and a Red Light District walking tour group. It's just past 11 p.m. on a weeknight. The Carrolls are staying in a room in a resident's house in the neighborhood.
"Last night we couldn't sleep because people were yelling," Bettina Carroll says. "They were screaming until 4 o'clock in the morning. I couldn't imagine living here and hearing that constantly."
Amsterdam is the latest European city '-- following Barcelona, Dubrovnik and Venice '-- that's cracking down on what's called "overtourism."
Barcelona is blocking construction of new hotels in the historic center, turning away cruise ships and cutting down the number of tourists allowed into Boqueria market. Croatia's stunning walled city, Dubrovnik '-- where HBO's Game of Thrones is filmed '-- has been overrun by fans. The mayor wants to drastically reduce the number of visitors allowed into the medieval center. There have been anti-tourism protests in Barcelona and Venice. Venice also has a team of stewards who patrol for bad behavior, which even includes eating sandwiches in historic areas.
Now, it's Amsterdam's turn. The city council is doubling the tax on hotel rooms to 6 percent, prohibiting short-term Airbnb rentals in the center and banning new souvenir shops. It's already banished something called The Beer Bike '-- a cart with 12 bicycle seats around a bar, so tourists could drink while pedaling along the canals.
And the city is trying to lure tourists away from the center by repackaging sites just outside Amsterdam, such as a strip of sandy coastline known to locals as Zandvoort and to tourists as "Amsterdam Beach."
Look, at the end of the day, it's very simple. If the only reason '-- the only reason '-- for you to come to Amsterdam is to get drunk, to get stoned, don't come.
Udo Kock, deputy mayor of Amsterdam
There's also this video targeted to men between the ages of 18 and 34, reminding them that there are fines for bad behavior, including 140 euros ($164) for urinating in public and 95 euros ($111) for disturbing the peace. The messages appear on booking websites and at airports.
These measures are intended to root out tourists who "cause problems," says Udo Kock, a cheery former International Monetary Fund economist who is Amsterdam's deputy mayor.
"Look, at the end of the day, it's very simple," he says. "If the only reason '-- the only reason '-- for you to come to Amsterdam is to get drunk, to get stoned, don't come."
But if your reason is nightlife, don't worry. The city still believes in it and even leans on a "night mayor" to keep a balance between cool and chaotic.
The night mayor
I meet the night mayor at Amsterdam's main train station, just as the sun sets. Amid the backpackers in T-shirts and cargo shorts, 32-year-old Shamiro van der Geld stands out in his deep-purple hat and nose ring.
Plus, unlike most European mayors, he's a hugger.
"Welcome to Amsterdam!" he declares.
The former music producer and television presenter was selected as the city's latest night mayor in February. He describes his job as being the "eyes and ears of Amsterdam at night." More specifically, he's a liaison between the city council and those who live, work and play after the sun sets.
"I actually do most of my work during the day," he says. "I talk with clubs and club owners, programmers, stakeholders who are interested in nightlife or have their company in nightlife."
Shamiro van der Geld, a former music producer and television presenter, was selected as Amsterdam's latest night mayor in February. Joanna Kakissis for NPR hide caption
toggle caption Joanna Kakissis for NPR Shamiro van der Geld, a former music producer and television presenter, was selected as Amsterdam's latest night mayor in February.
Joanna Kakissis for NPR The night, he says, is full of things to do '-- dance, paint, perform, read, play games. He's especially trying to engage teenagers by creating a late-night space where they "won't get bored and do dumb things."
"This group of kids, they wander on the streets, and from being bored they start smoking hash or weed and they find a cheap bottle of alcohol," he says.
Van der Geld has also dealt with stoned tourists riding bicycles into traffic or jumping out of buildings.
"Things that happen with people who do not understand how we live," he says.
The idea of "night policy" has a record of success in Amsterdam thanks to van der Geld's predecessor, Mirik Milan, a former concert promoter. Milan formalized the night mayor post about six years ago and held the position until earlier this year.
Over coffee near a canal, he explains that he helped the city grant 24-hour licenses to clubs outside the center, drawing thousands of young fans of electronic music, a staple of Amsterdam's nightlife.
"One-third of the people that come there, they are tourists," he says. "So they're not hanging out in the city center, they're hanging out in the outskirts of the city. The night is an opportunity where we can spread out people."
He travels the world helping cities create their own night mayors. London, for instance, now has a night czar, Amy Lam(C), a comedian and cabaret performer. The idea has also spread to cities in the U.S., including New York, Pittsburgh, Fort Lauderdale and, Milan adds with a smile, "good old Iowa City!"
"Loving this place to death"
Back in central Amsterdam, Elard Tissot van Patot appreciates how the night cultivates businesses. He runs Amsterdam Red Light District Tours, which he started as a one-man-band in 2014. He now employs five tour guides.
"Each year, there are more tourists," he says on a recent night, just after he has wrapped up a walking tour. "They may go to the Anne Frank House or the Rijksmuseum or go see the Van Gogh paintings. But at night they all end up here, in this little neighborhood, the Red Light District."
Two tourists from California '-- lawyer Matt Kaestner and waitress Gail Powers '-- have just finished Tissot van Patot's tour. Kaestner was last here 29 years ago and is shocked at how crowded it is. "Tourists are loving this place to death," he says. "Or loving the idea of it to death," adds Powers. "The real Amsterdam is not in these crowds. No one here is Dutch, except for the tour guide!"
I'm not going to leave because some drunk tourist tells me he's paying for the right to destroy my home and neighborhood and my right to some peace.
Bert Nap, longtime Amsterdam resident
Just around the corner, in a cute house surrounded by bachelor parties and Nutella waffles, Nap '-- the language textbook writer terrorized by drunken tourists '-- says it's not too late to save Amsterdam from overtourism.
He welcomes the new laws. He notices that tourists themselves are grumbling about "too many tourists." And he was thrilled when the new mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, inaugurated last month, invited him to join her on a night walk through central Amsterdam so she could experience the problems firsthand.
"My neighbors, my wife and I feel like we're barely hanging on here, but we're willing to fight for our neighborhood," he says. "I'm not going to leave because some drunk tourist tells me he's paying for the right to destroy my home and neighborhood and my right to some peace. No one can buy us out."
VIDEO - Chris Wallace Pushes John Bolton on Trump's Media Attacks: 'What Wars Have We Started?' - YouTube
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 12:43
VIDEO - Colbert: Alex Jones Banned For Promoting 'Race War'
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 12:37
Skip to contentLeftist late night comic builds straw man to misrepresent InfowarsLeftist comic Stephen Colbert reprised his ''Tuck Buckford'' persona to blatantly defame Alex Jones as a racist hate monger, falsely suggesting he was censored by Big Tech because he promoted ''race war.''
''I've been kicked off of YouTube, Apple, Facebook, Flickster, Vidbox, Ebaum's World, Hell Hub Butt Speech, and FreeGoldenCasino.Somalia, but I'm still broadcasting from the nation's last bastion of free speech: the in-house web player on the homepage for 'Hatorade,' the knock-off sports drink for athletic Klansmen, okay?'' Colbert ranted as the Jones-like character ''Tuck Buckford'' on Tuesday.
Colbert then held up a Gatorade beverage, which instead read 'Hatorade,' featuring a burning cross with the tagline: ''Win the Race and the Race War.''
Though Colbert clearly suggests Jones and Infowars peddle racism and ''hate speech,'' he offers no evidence whatsoever to back up his baseless and defamatory claim.
Additionally, since YouTube deleted our entire archive of video reports, nobody can check the Alex Jones Channel to see for themselves if we had said anything racist '' which we didn't.
It's straight from the authoritarian playbook: first they demonize you by building a straw man to misrepresent your views, then they silence your platform so you can't refute their false claims.
Case in point, none of the tech companies who removed our pages from their platforms provided any specific example of our violating their Terms of Service.
Instead, they all employed the vague term ''hate speech'' as the basis for our removal.
Alex Jones Reaches Out To Jack Dorsey https://t.co/6KyzE0n8vr
'-- Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) August 8, 2018
Mass censorship of conservatives and libertarians is exploding. You've already seen this with the demonetization and ultimate purge of Infowars and other alternative media outlets by mega-corporations working in tangent to stifle competition. But you are important in this fight. Your voice is important. Your free thought is important. Make no mistake, you are just as important as anyone in the Anti-American establishment.
You are our most important contributor.
Sign up for the free newsletter so they can't keep us from sending you critical information.
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VIDEO - Ryan Saavedra ðºð¸ on Twitter: "Ocasio-Cortez: Socialized medicine is cheap because people will no longer have to pay for funerals https://t.co/36rJRWFF0H"
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 12:00
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VIDEO - Bill Nelson: The Russians have penetrated some Florida voter registration systems | Tampa Bay Times
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 11:29
TAMPA '-- Russian operatives have "penetrated" some of Florida's voter registration systems ahead of the 2018 midterms, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday, adding new urgency to concerns about hacking.
The state, however, said it has received "zero information" supporting his claim.
"They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about," Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times before a campaign event in Tampa. He said something similar a day earlier in Tallahassee but declined to elaborate.
"That's classified," the Democrat said Tuesday.
He is facing a re-election challenge in November from Gov. Rick Scott, whose administration said it has no knowledge of the allegations made by Nelson.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida elections supervisors urged to take federal help on security
Nelson and Florida's other senator, Republican Marco Rubio, wrote a July 2 letter to the 67 county election supervisors about potential threats. But that letter lacked the specificity Nelson laid out.
"County election boards should not be expected to stand alone against a hostile foreign government," the lawmakers wrote in recommending "a wide range of services" from the Department of Homeland Security.
"We were requested by the chairman and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee to let the supervisors of election in Florida know that the Russians are in their records," Nelson told the Times on Wednesday. (audio below) He noted he is a member of the Armed Services subcommittee on cybersecurity.
"The Florida Department of State has received zero information from Senator Nelson or his staff that support his claims," agency spokeswoman Sarah Revell said in a statement. "Additionally, the Department has received no information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that corroborates Senator Nelson's statement and we have no evidence to support these claims.
"If Senator Nelson has specific information about threats to our elections, he should share it with election officials in Florida."
A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Intelligence Committee, declined to comment. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman, said in a statement that "Russian activities continue to pose a threat to the security of our elections, as Senators Nelson and Rubio rightly pointed out in their letter. '... I hope all state and local elections officials, including Florida's, will take this issue seriously."
The warning comes amid a growing focus on election security ahead of the midterm elections. A July 13 indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers stated that operatives in November 2016 faked a real election vendor email account to send more than 100 "spearphishing" emails to organizations and personnel involved in administering elections in numerous Florida counties. The email contained malware designed to gain access to computer systems.
Nelson took things farther on Wednesday. His account was partly corroborated by two county officials, who said they heard a similar warning at a private meeting with Rubio in May.
All 67 counties have spent considerable time addressing election security and are in the process of spending federal money to fortify systems, following a 2016 attempt by Russians to hack Florida's elections apparatus.
Nelson's remarks immediately caused a major stir among county elections officials, who are testing equipment, training poll workers and counting mail ballots in advance of the Aug. 28 primary. Pinellas County elections officials immediately contacted the FBI, Homeland Security and other state and federal agencies in a futile attempt to find out more about Nelson's assertion.
"Our office has not seen any indication that we have had any penetration by any bad actions," said Pinellas election's office spokesman Dustin Chase.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Rubio's red alert: Florida election officials 'overconfident' about security threat
Rubio, a member of the Intelligence Committee, has raised alarms himself, and continues to express concern, though not as explicitly. Like Rubio, Nelson outlined a scenario in which hackers could alter voter registration records.
"This is no fooling time and that's why two senators, bipartisan, reached out to the election apparatus of Florida to let them know the Russians are in your records and all they have to do, if those election records are not protected, is to go in and start eliminating registered voters," Nelson said Wednesday.
"You can imagine the chaos that would occur on Election Day when the voters get to the polls and they say, 'I'm sorry Mr. Smith, I'm sorry Mr. Jones, you're not registered.' That's exactly what the Russians want to do. They want to sow chaos in our democratic institutions."
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Rubio meets with Florida election officials over Russia threat
Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said Rubio made a similar reference to Russian intrusion during a meeting with election supervisors at the Orlando airport on May 30.
That private meeting was the result of Rubio's stated concerns that county election offices were not taking cybersecurity threats seriously enough, a claim the counties have strongly rejected.
Latimer said about eight or 10 elections officials were in the room. Rubio was asked which counties were targeted. "He looked around the room and said, 'I don't believe it's anybody here,'" Latimer said.
The supervisors at the Orlando meeting said Rubio told them to not discuss details with the news media, and none did, until Nelson's remarks surfaced Wednesday.
Okaloosa Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux, the president of a statewide election supervisors' group, confirmed Rubio's account but described it as so vague that it was of no value in improving election preparations against threats.
"There has been no current communication with anyone about any breach or problem," said Lux, who began polling fellow supervisors to see if any had heard directly from Nelson. Lux said none had.
This post has been updated.
Contact Alex Leary at [email protected] Follow @learyreports. Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] Follow @stevebousquet. Contact Kirby Wilson at [email protected] Follow @KirbyWTweets.
Audio: Times staff writer Kirby Wilson interviews Nelson in Tampa.
VIDEO - Obama Made Tech Companies Ditch Alex Jones, Says Rick Wiles | Right Wing Watch
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 16:18
End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles used his television program last night to say that the recent move by various websites to remove content from Alex Jones and his Inforwars network from their platforms is exactly why he warned Christians to stay away from Jones, asserting that now that the process has started, it is going to be used as justification for further crackdowns on other right-wing media outlets like his TruNews network.
Wiles, ever the conspiracy theorist, asserted that the moves by platforms like Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, and iTunes to remove Jones' content was actually orchestrated by Barack Obama.
''They all got the phone call over the weekend from Barack Hussein Obama saying, 'Here is the next step in the resistance movement,''' he said. ''Barack Obama is managing the whole Resist Trump movement.''
''What they've done is taken the most outrageous, indefensible person that you can find and they made him the poster child to eradicate the First Amendment,'' Wiles warned. ''Because who wants to be seen defending Alex Jones? Nobody in their right mind '... This is why I'm trying to tell Christians to get away from Alex Jones! He's going to hurt all us!''
''I believe he contributed to the mental instability, mental illness among people listening to his program,'' Wiles said. ''I used to tell Christians, 'Do not listen to him three hours a day, you're going to develop mental illness because you are opening your ears to somebody who is '.... not mentally, emotionally, spiritually stable.''
VIDEO - YouTube - KGB officer Yuri Bezmenov Explains United States Targeted Public Sc
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 04:23
VIDEO - Earth at risk of becoming 'hothouse' if tipping point reached - CNN
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 13:46
(CNN) '-- Scientists are warning that a domino effect will kick in if global temperatures rise more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, leading to "hothouse" conditions and higher sea levels, making some areas on Earth uninhabitable.
The report, "
Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene," published Monday in the American Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said "hothouse" temperatures could stabilize 4°C to 5°C (39 to 41 Fahrenheit) higher than pre-industrial levels.
"Human emissions of greenhouse gas are not the sole determinant of temperature on Earth. Our study suggests that human-induced global warming of 2°C may trigger other Earth system processes, often called 'feedbacks,' that can drive further warming -- even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases," lead author Will Steffen of the
Australian National University said. Hotter temperatures could result in sea level rise up to 60 meters (197 ft) from today's shorelines, swamping coastal populations and forcing communities inland. This summer dozens of people have died in wildfires and heat waves from the US to Asia, giving the world an insight into what could lie ahead.
The report says that if the "threshold" -- a theoretical point-of-no-return -- is crossed, this "would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene," referring to the geological age which began at the end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago.
Many scientists argue that we have entered a new geological era, the Anthropocene, in which human activity is directly affecting the planet.
Global average temperatures are today around 1°C higher than in the pre-industrial age, and rising at 0.17°C per decade, according to a joint press release from the authors' institutions.
Katherine Richardson of the University of Copenhagen, one of the report's co-authors, told CNN the idea of a tipping point is not new. "We've always realized there might be a point of no return," she said.
"The implications are that if we can't stop it we're in a hell of a mess. Our societies could not continue the way they are now with an average temperature increase of 4°C to 5°C (and) 10 to 60 meter sea level rises. It would simply be unbearable for our society."
"Avoiding this scenario requires a redirection of human actions from exploitation to stewardship of the Earth system," Steffen said.
More than 200 countries pledged to take action on climate change under the Paris Accord struck in 2015. The agreement pushed signatories to work together to keep temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. However, there are no binding targets, and the US later pulled out, dealing a blow to global efforts to form a united front against climate change.
The report highlights the consequences of how the interactions between a variety of climate change factors, such as the loss or weakening of carbon sinks, forest dieback, ice retreat and increased bacteria respiration, could combine to form a feedback loop which accelerates climate change.
"These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes,"
said Johan Rockstrom, co-director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and another of co-author of the report.
"Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another. It may be very difficult or impossible to stop the whole row of dominoes from tumbling over. Places on Earth will become uninhabitable if 'Hothouse Earth' becomes the reality."
Raging fires, heatwaves
The report comes as much of the northern hemisphere struggles with deadly heatwaves and raging wildfires, which most scientists attribute to man-made climate change.
Richardson says that while the current weather can't in isolation be used as proof of the effects of climate change, the summer's extreme heat means that people may be more receptive to the urgency of the situation.
"People getting a taste of the heatwaves, this is what climate change is all about," she said.
"What this is all about is humanity is recognizing the fact that we need to manage our resources at a global level... When we can see that we can impact the climate, then it becomes part of our responsibility to maintain the earth system."
To reverse this potential domino effect, climate change needs to be combated on all fronts, the report says, with "collective human action" is required to steer us away from this potential threshold, including "decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values."
Richardson said that rather than considering the report a "doomsday prophet," it should give hope that if action is taken now, the world can avert the most dire predictions.
"I think this paper has a positive message. If we understand this system and how it works, then we have the power to go in and trick the system.
"Knowledge is power -- the more we know the more possibilities to manage it to our positive outcome (we have,)" she said.
VIDEO - When we think about people being judged exclusively by the color of their skin, we think ''Racism.'' But why would black people in Brazil get upset about a black woman winning a beauty contest? Well that's called colorism and it's actually p
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 13:21
When we think about people being judged exclusively by the color of their skin, we think ''Racism.'' But why would black people in Brazil get upset about a black woman winning a beauty contest? Well that's called colorism and it's actually pretty common in Latin America and the Latinx community in America. How so?
Special Thanks to Lee Chin! Facebook.com/ iamleechin Twitter: @iamleechin
Instagram: @iamleechin Snapchat: @iamleechin
Hosted by: Franchesca "Chescaleigh" Ramsey Produced by: http:// www.kornhaberbro wn.com Episode Written By: Gabe Gonzalez ( https:// twitter.com/ gaybonez) Directed by: Andrew Kornhaber Make Up By: Delina Medhin ( www.instagram.c om/delinamedhin) GFX By: Matthew Rainkin & Sarah Van Hoove Editing By: Linda Huang
Want to challenge your own bias? Take the quiz: http:// www.lookdifferen t.org/ what-can-i-do/ implicit-associa tion-test.
Sources https:// en.wikipedia.org /wiki/ Discrimination_b ased_on_skin_co lor http:// www.pewresearch. org/fact-tank/ 2015/07/10/ mestizo-and-mula tto-mixed-race- identities-uniq ue-to-hispanics / https:// californiahistor icalsociety.blo gspot.ca/2017/ 02/ early-los-angele san-afro-latino -town.html?m=0 http:// time.com/ 4512430/ colorism-in-amer ica/ https:// psmag.com/ social-justice/ lighter-skinned- blacks-hispanic s-viewed-as-mor e-intelligent https:// en.wikipedia.org /wiki/Passing_ (rhttp:// etd.fcla.edu/UF/ UFE0012803/ rebollogil_g.pdf
acial_identity) https:// en.wikipedia.org /wiki/ White_Puerto_Ric ans https:// en.wikipedia.org /wiki/ Afro-Puerto_Rica ns#Current_demo graphics http:// remezcla.com/ features/ culture/ nayara-justino-c arnaval-queen-d iscrimination/ https:// revista.drclas.h arvard.edu/ book/ boricuas-vs-nuyo ricans%E2%80%94 indeed https:// writingandrhetor ic.cah.ucf.edu/ stylus/files/ kws2/ KWS2_Pinkney.pdf
VIDEO - Why Social Media Platforms Are Booting Alex Jones - Video - NYTimes.com
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 02:58
Roseanne, Bill Maher, Samantha Bee: Apologies (Not) Accepted
VIDEO - Anonymous vows to take down, expose QAnon | TheHill
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 01:07
The hacking collective Anonymous is pledging to expose the people behind the "QAnon" conspiracy theory.
The anarchist hacking group slammed the QAnon conspiracy as potentially dangerous and driven by a ''brainless political agenda'' in a video posted Sunday to what is widely considered the most reliable Anonymous Twitter account.
''We will not sit idly by while you take advantage of the misinformed and poorly educated,'' the group said in the video, which was posted with the hashtags #OpQ and #OpQAnon.
The video depicts various figures with Anonymous masks acting out certain aspects of the QAnon conspiracy against a constant backdrop of the letter ''Q.''
The video claims that Anonymous ''knew who was responsible for Q'' and thought it was funny at first. However, the group now believes the conspiracy theory has gone too far.
''Someone is going to get hurt, so we have to put our foot down and start some shit with you all,'' the group said in the video.
#Anonymous #OpQ #OpQAnon Video Press Releasehttps://t.co/5WzagrWw30
'-- Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) August 5, 2018QAnon shifted into the spotlight after numerous attendees at President Trump Donald John TrumpSouth Korea urges Pyongyang to speed up denuclearization process More than a dozen arrested as protesters, counter-protesters clash in Berkeley Trump golfs with Graham at New Jersey club MORE 's rally in Florida last week held Q-shaped cutouts and posters alluding to the conspiracy theory.
The wide-ranging and vague ''QAnon'' touches on a number of popular conspiracy theories: Democrats and prominent Hollywood figures are orchestrating underground pedophile rings; special counsel Robert Mueller Robert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE 's probe is a front for investigating 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham ClintonEarly polls favor Biden but Senate officials skeptical Sanders boosts progressive candidate ahead of Michigan governor primary Obama ethics czar pushes back on Trump: Meetings to get dirt on political opponent do not 'happen all the time' MORE and former President Obama for their ties to said rings; and hundreds of sealed indictments may have already been handed down in the Clinton case.
The theory was started by a person on the message board 4chan last year claiming to be a high-ranking security official in the Trump administration. The individual or individuals goes by the identity of "Q" and has continued to fan the theory on online platforms.
A number of conservative figures have pushed back against the conspiracy theory on Twitter in recent days, including Michael Flynn Jr., the son of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer Sean Michael SpicerEx-Bill Clinton spokesman: We've never had a president 'incapable of telling the truth' Spicer: Any Trump affairs are 'between him, his wife, and his God' Protesters interrupt Spicer at Nixon Library appearance with chants of 'shame on you' MORE .
Anonymous has been adamantly opposed to Trump since he announced his candidacy in 2015. The group declared "cyber war" on Trump in March 2016, directing its followers to take down the then-candidate's websites.
VIDEO - Meet the Press on Twitter: "WATCH: Chuck Todd asks Robert Costa why the White House hasn't disavowed QAnon. Costa: "President himself has believed in conspiracy theories'' #MTP #IfItsSunday @costareports: "People inside the president's inner
Mon, 06 Aug 2018 21:46
WATCH: Chuck Todd asks Robert Costa why the White House hasn't disavowed QAnon. Costa: "President himself has believed in conspiracy theories''
#MTP #IfItsSunday@costareports: "People inside the president's inner circle, they see the Q signs as much as anybody in the press pen."
VIDEO - YouTube - Transgender Trump Supporter explains Qanon and Antifa Assault
Mon, 06 Aug 2018 00:56
VIDEO - White Helmets boss denies terror links, spreads whataboutism in contentious RT interview '-- RT World News
Sun, 05 Aug 2018 20:18
Published time: 4 Aug, 2018 13:07 Edited time: 5 Aug, 2018 07:38
In a talk with RT, White Helmets' boss vehemently denied any links to terrorists, instead employing controversy theories to blame forces "linked" to Syria and Russia for attempts to ruin reputation of his controversial group.
Raed al-Saleh, the head of the White Helmets did his utmost to defend the controversial organization's public image during a contentious talk with Afshin Rattansi, host of RT's Going Underground show. Speaking via Skype from Istanbul, he set the tone for the entire interview, claiming 150,000 people were saved by the Western-funded organization ''from under the rubble during the aerial bombing from Syrian regime and Russia.''
Al-Saleh and Rattansi spoke on the heels of reports that multiple White Helmets members were provided free passage from Jordan via Israel. Commenting on the news, he acknowledged ''we currently have around 3,700 volunteers who are working in the areas that we are able to access,'' but denied to disclose whereabouts of the evacuees, only briefly telling ''they are still in Jordan.''
Meanwhile, controversies surround the White Helmets' operations in Syria, with locals accusing the self-proclaimed civil defense group of running a terrorist support. At some point of the Syrian war, they have also been filmed helping a group of unidentified militants disposing the bodies of beheaded Syrian Army soldiers.
When repeatedly asked about alleged terrorist connections, al-Saleh avoided giving straightforward answers, saying: ''When we established the organization, there were rules and regulations in relation to the international humanitarian law.'' The White Helmets boss said, however, that ''we saw no infiltrations [by terrorists].''
He then tried to pin the blame on Damascus and Moscow for targeting civilians, claiming again the White Helmets evolved into an ''international humanitarian entity working for the service of the Syrian people and to save them from under the rubble after the shelling by Syrian regime and Russia.''
Some Syrians, however, are less sure about their role in safeguarding civilian lives. There have been numerous witness accounts suggesting the White Helmets collaborated with terrorist groups in Ghouta and other areas, and served as the terrorists' backup.
In a subsequent comment, the White Helmets boss said: ''There has been, in some areas and in certain occasions that we had to evacuate in a sudden and quick manner.'' According to him, some clothing or equipment was left behind and ''have been used by some groups to distort the reputation of civil defense.''
Proceeding with the vague whataboutist logic, he suggested ''misuse of the photographs comes from groups that are active on social media and that are affiliated to Russia and the Syrian regime.'' The mystery groups ''are constantly working on ruining our reputation,'' the man offered.
Notably, al-Saleh acknowledged the White Helmets do work with the so-called Free Syrian Police, a group which, in turn, is said to have links to Al-Nusra Front. This is according to a BBC Panorama investigation called 'Jihadis you pay for', in which they investigated the use of British aid money for terrorist purposes.
''I am surprised, but, perhaps, that explains the extent to which this group and its members and its leaders are considered to be protected by the intelligence agencies who are behind the funding of them in the UK, in the US and the EU member states,'' Vanessa Beeley, a UK-based independent researcher and journalist, told Rattansi.
She then dismissed some of al-Saleh's claims, saying they do not explain ''mounting civilian testimony that I gathered in both East Aleppo and East Ghouta that fundamentally accuse the White Helmets of crimes against the Syrian people, of participating in numerous crimes committed by Al-Nusra Front and other extremist factions.''
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VIDEO - CNN on Twitter: "Wells Fargo says hundreds of customers lost their homes because of a computer glitch https://t.co/NjxFpD17G6'... "
Sun, 05 Aug 2018 20:05
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VIDEO - Wells Fargo Says Hundreds Of Customers Lost Homes Because Of Computer Glitch CBS Philly
Sun, 05 Aug 2018 20:04
August 4, 2018 at 5:47 pm Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook Twitter
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) '' Hundreds of people had their homes foreclosed on because software used by Wells Fargo incorrectly denied them mortgage modifications.
The embattled bank revealed the issue in a regulatory filing this week and said it has set aside $8 million to compensate customers affected by the glitch.
Trump Election Commission: No Evidence Of Widespread Voter Fraud Found
The same filing also disclosed that Wells Fargo is facing ''formal or informal inquiries or investigations'' from unnamed government agencies over how the company purchased federal low-income housing tax credits. The document states the probes are linked to ''the financing of low income housing developments,'' but does not offer further details.
Reuters first reported news of investigations and mishandled mortgage modifications on Friday.
Wells Fargo said the computer error affected ''certain accounts'' that were undergoing the foreclosure process between April 2010 and October 2015, when the issue was corrected.
About 625 customers were incorrectly denied a loan modification or were not offered one even though they were qualified, according to the filing. In about 400 cases, the customers were foreclosed upon.
Wells Fargo did not respond to an inquiry from CNNMoney on Saturday.
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Wells Fargo has been mired in a series of scandals in recent years that have cost the firm billions and left it facing a string of lawsuits and investigations.
Earlier this week, the Justice Department announced Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $2.1 billion fine for issuing mortgage loans it knew contained incorrect income information. The government said the loans contributed to the 2008 financial crisis that crippled the global economy.
In June, Wells Fargo was accused by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission of using complex financial investments to take advantage of mom-and-pop investors. Wells Fargo, which neither admitted nor denied the SEC's allegations, said at the time it ''cooperated fully'' with the SEC probe.
One of its most far-reaching scandals involved the creation of millions of fake accounts the company created for unsuspecting customers in order to boost its sales figures. The scope of that issue ballooned since the practice was first uncovered in September of 2016.
The bank has also admitted to hitting customers with unfair mortgage fees and charging people for car insurance they didn't need.
'' CNN's Julia Horowitz and Matt Egan contributed to this report.
The-CNN-Wire ' & (C) 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
VIDEO - CharlieW. on Twitter: "Oh Dianne We have the technology https://t.co/AIyr1WJhzq"
Sun, 05 Aug 2018 20:04
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Join the conversation Add your thoughts about any Tweet with a Reply. Find a topic you're passionate about, and jump right in.
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VIDEO - Teens charged after manual transmission thwarts Nashville carjacking
Sun, 05 Aug 2018 20:03
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - Two teenagers were arrested after attempting to carjack two vehicles in the Green Hills area Tuesday evening.
The suspects, ages 15 and 17, first tried to steal the car of a woman parked in the Hill Center parking garage on Hillsboro Pike around 6:20 p.m.
Metro police reported they ran up to her vehicle, one on each side, opened the doors and yelled for her to get out.
They then tried to pull her out of the car, but she screamed and held down her car horn, causing them to run off.
The victim sustained minor injuries in the struggle but did not need to be taken to a hospital.
An hour later, the teens approached a woman walking to her car in the Kroger parking lot on 21st Avenue South.
They grabbed her keys out of her hand, jumped in her vehicle but ran away after they were unable to drive a manual transmission, according to Metro police.
A short time later, officers spotted the teens in the area and took them into custody.
They were each charged in juvenile court with attempted robbery/carjacking, theft and attempted theft of a vehicle.
News 2 is tracking crime where you live with CrimeTracker reports. Click here for more coverage.
VIDEO - Ryan Saavedra ðºð¸ on Twitter: "Unhinged: @Rosie O'Donnell claims Trump rallies are not real, thinks people are paid to be there. https://t.co/vTj4AWCyek"
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 17:28
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