1062: A.I. Zombies

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 45m
August 23rd, 2018
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Executive Producers: Sir Husky Bottoms of the Hardwoods, Chris Eisbach, Marvin Brittain, Sir Stavard Ironbrand, Grand Duke Thomas Nussbaum

Associate Executive Producers: Ryan Hedum

Cover Artist: Nick The Rat

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Agenda 2030
Hawaii & Rainsticks
Aloha,
ITM from the Baron of Pearl Harbor. Looks like the rain
stick may have triggered a butterfly effect. It looks like Hurricane Lane is
about to fuck shit up in the Aloha State. Shelves are emptied, gas stations are
out of gas, and the fleet has been sortied from Pearl Harbor. So what does one
do when everyone is sent home from work, and you are about to have a 3+ day
weekend at home?
1. Buy ice
2. Buy booze
3. Charge USB battery packs
4. Buy web cam
5. Start a live stream of the hurricane. Right now it's just
on facebook, apparently I have to wait a day for youtube streaming activation.
I can forward you the link once I have it if you are interested in including it
in the show notes or putting it on the tweeters.
P.S. Adam, this is my first time doing a live stream and it
was a lot of fun setting it up, even though it is ugly looking. My NOAA weather
radio doesn't get good reception in the area I am in, and I planned on that
being the audio for my stream. Any public domain background noise suggestions?
Any chance you could forward me the hilariously lame elevator music that plays
when the stream is down? I think it goes something like do-do-do-do-do-do-do-duh-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-duh-do-do-do-do-do-do-ptsh.
*repeat*
Jordan
Why Your Flights Have Been Seeming More Turbulent Lately
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 03:31
Seven people threw up on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to San Jose last week due to severe turbulence. Last month, ''pretty much everyone on the plane,'' threw up during a particularly turbulent descent to Washington Dulles Airport. Even the pilots reported being on the verge of vomit.
Unusual weather patterns and strong winds have generated multiple reports of nauseous passengers over the past few weeks. And it could be getting worse.
A study from the University of Reading last year predicted that climate change could lead to a 149-percent increase in severe turbulence. And another study published in Geophysical Research Letters predicted that clear air turbulence (impossible to see and difficult to predict with radar) could increase threefold in 30 years, due to climate change.
More from Travel + LeisureSignificant, sudden changes in global temperature could lead to rougher and more frequent air pockets above the world's jet stream winds, creating worse and more frequent turbulence.
Like a boat through choppy waters, airplanes experience turbulence in rough winds. These rough winds can be caused when a mountain or large man-made structure pushes air up from below, when a pilot moves from one course of airflow to another (like crossing into a jet stream to take advantage of fast winds), or when warm air rises through cooler air Turbulence can also be affected by seasonal weather patterns.
Different aircraft react to turbulence in different ways: ''You feel the turbulence on an aircraft depending on two factors: one is the type of aircraft '-- the turbulence is not felt the same in different types of aircraft,'' Gilberto L"pez Meyer, senior vice president of safety and flight operations of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said at a conference in December. When passing through the same patch of air, travelers on a large commercial aircraft would feel less turbulence than those on a small private jet. Airspeed can also affect how turbulence affects the plane.
While frequent fliers may notice their routes getting bumpier, aircraft manufacturers are working on technology that could mitigate the effects of turbulence for those in the cabin. Boeing is developing a laser that, when attached to the nose of an aircraft, could help pilots avoid clear air turbulence. This technology would give pilots a chance to dodge the path of rough air or allow flight attendants enough time to secure the cabin.
In the meantime, travelers who remember to keep their seatbelt fastened throughout flights likely don't need to worry about safety during turbulence. In 2016, only 44 people were injured by turbulence '-- the majority of which were flight crew or passengers who were not wearing their seatbelts. And it's highly unlikely that the structure of the plane will be compromised by turbulence. Federal Aviation Administration regulations require that aircraft be engineered to withstand much, much more turbulence than most will ever encounter.
Tech Truth Zombies
De hel achter de facade van Facebook | De Volkskrant
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:50
Teamhoofd Sebastian stuurt begin februari '' een maand voordat Facebook wereldwijd onder vuur komt te liggen omdat de gegevens van 87 miljoen Facebookgebruikers geroofd zijn '' een mail naar 1.100 medewerkers van het Horizon-team in Berlijn. Er wordt een bezoek aangekondigd van de BBC en de New York Times . 'Doel van dit bezoek', schrijft Sebastian, 'is hetzelfde als de vorige keer: meer maatschappelijk begrip creren voor ons werk hier.'
De komst van de media is nauwkeurig voorbereid. Speciale personen zijn geselecteerd om het verhaal van Facebook uit te dragen. Het bedrijf worstelt al langer met een aantal kwalen, zoals de verspreiding van desinformatie, politieke be¯nvloeding en misbruik van het platform door terroristische groeperingen. Ook zijn gebruikers slachtoffer van haatcampagnes.
Facebook wil het beeld laten kantelen. Het bedrijf heeft in de ogen van het publiek telkens weifelend gereageerd op de kritiek. Lang was de verdediging dat het slechts een 'platform' biedt en dat het aan de gebruikers is om daar fatsoenlijk mee om te gaan. In de aanloop naar de Amerikaanse verkiezingen in 2017 wil Facebook niets horen over manipulatie van het medium, terwijl het bedrijf achteraf toegeeft dat vanuit Rusland tachtigduizend berichten op Facebook zijn geplaatst om de verkiezingen te be¯nvloeden. Ondertussen dwingt Duitsland via een speciale 'internetwet' bedrijven als Facebook om haatdragende berichten binnen 48 uur te verwijderen.
Aan de BBC en de New York Times wil Facebook laten zien dat het menens is. Het bedrijf heeft de laatste jaren op verschillende plekken in de wereld '' Manila, Dublin, Berlijn '' een leger van duizenden goedkope arbeidskrachten opgebouwd dat het platform schoon moet houden. Aan de buitenkant van de gebouwen waar zij werken, is niets te zien. Ook niet bij het gerenoveerde fabriekscomplex van Siemens in Spandau, aan de westkant van Berlijn. Daar staan vier enorme gebouwen '' waaronder een indrukwekkende monumentale klokkentoren die de Tweede Wereldoorlog overleefde '' waar begin 2017 650 mensen voor Facebook werken en nu, bijna een jaar later, 1.100.
In drommen sjokken ze 's ochtends vanuit het U-bahnstation Siemensdamm naar het complex waar ook eBay en AirBnB gevestigd zijn. Wat zij precies doen, is geheim. 'Doel van het bezoek is expliciet niet om te praten over details of vertrouwelijke gegevens', staat dan ook in de mail over het bezoek van de media.
inside facebook Foto Daniel HertzbergWant de openheid die Facebook voor deze media uitstraalt, is geregisseerd. De mensen die hier werken, mogen aan niemand vertellen wat hun taken zijn, zo zegt de Nederlander Erik. Dat krijgen ze aan het begin van een twee weken durende training te horen. Vrienden mogen het niet weten, familie evenmin. Het is niet toegestaan om persoonlijke bezittingen mee naar binnen te nemen. Telefoons moeten in een kluis. Pen en papier zijn verboden. Op de toiletten hangen dure Dyson-handdrogers omdat papieren handdoekjes ook beschreven kunnen worden, vertelt hij. Medewerkers controleren of er tassen onder de bureaus liggen.
Facebook wil niet dat bekend wordt hoe het bedrijf bepaalt wat wel en niet mag, en hoe het berichten filtert, censureert, blokkeert en verwijdert. Twee moderatoren spraken daar in de afgelopen maanden toch over met de Volkskrant, op voorwaarde van anonimiteit. In verschillende gesprekken van een paar uur heeft Erik zijn verhaal verteld. Een andere moderator heeft dat verhaal op feitelijkheden getoetst. Zij vertellen over Facebook, omdat ze zich zorgen maken. Over het bedrijf en over zichzelf.
'Ik wil jullie eraan herinneren', benadrukt teamhoofd Sebastian in zijn mail, 'om je te gedragen zoals overeengekomen in de arbeidsvoorwaarden en nooit met journalisten of andere ge¯nteresseerde partijen te praten. Dit is vooral voor jullie eigen veiligheid!'
***
De Nederlander Erik komt bij toeval bij Facebook terecht, eigenlijk net als al zijn collega's. Hij reageert op een eenvoudige advertentie voor 'customer care agent '' Dutch speaker' op de vacaturewebsite indeed.com. Berlijn kent een grote groep internationale creatievelingen. De lage huren en het prettige leefklimaat trekt ze naar de Duitse hoofdstad. Ook voor internationale bedrijven is Berlijn aantrekkelijk: de lonen zijn er laag en er wonen veel jongeren met verschillende achtergronden. In en rondom de stad zitten daarom veel callcenters van bedrijven als Zalando en Playstation.
Erik had voor enkele van die callcenters gewerkt, maar wilde dat niet langer. Hij mag op gesprek komen bij GI Gruppe, een groot Duits uitzendbureau. Het gesprek duurt nog geen tien minuten. Geen enkele keer valt daarbij de naam van de opdrachtgever. Er wordt alleen gerefereerd aan 'het project'. De recruiter van GI Gruppe is weinig kieskeurig: functie-eisen zijn er eigenlijk niet.
De belangrijkste vraag die Erik krijgt voorgelegd is of hij is of hij bestand is tegen het zien van ellende. Terrorisme, martelingen, dat soort dingen. Erik denkt dat het wel los zal lopen; hij heeft jaren met vluchtelingen gewerkt en is dus wel wat gewend. En daarmee is het gesprek afgerond. De volgende dag stapt hij het kantoor van Arvato Bertelsmann binnen, een groot Duits mediabedrijf.
Daar heeft hij wederom een kort gesprek. Erik hoort dat hij solliciteert voor een baan als content moderator: hij zal filmpjes, foto's en tekst bestuderen. Allemaal als onderdeel van 'het project' voor 'de clint'. De naam 'Facebook' valt nog steeds niet. Erik gaat akkoord, drie dagen later moet hij zich melden bij een gebouw aan de oostkant van Berlijn.
Hij gaat door de beveiligingspoortjes en wacht, samen met anderen, bij de receptie. Er zijn Brazilianen, Portugezen, Zweden, Grieken, Syrirs. De groep telt 22 personen. Eerst ondertekenen ze een geheimhoudingsverklaring. Het is voor het eerst dat Erik hoort dat hij voor Facebook gaat werken. Daarna gaan ze naar een kelder met geblindeerde ramen en zien ze presentaties door een jonge Argentijn.
De cursisten krijgen, bij wijze van test, een aantal berichten op hun beeldscherm. Een van de posts die Erik moet beoordelen is een foto van een stervend Afrikaans jongetje waarin een doos van Pizza Hut is gephotoshopt. Afschuwelijk, vindt hij het. Sadistisch. Dit lijkt hem op z'n minst iets om te markeren als gevoelig en wreed. Fout, krijgt hij te horen. Laat het gaan.
Facebook werkt, zo leert Erik, met protected categories (PC) en quasi protected categories (QPC). Een PC is een kwetsbare groep '' zoals transgenders, ernstig chronisch zieken, Joden, Ghanese vrouwen, vrouwen in het algemeen. Een bericht mag enkel verwijderd worden als de hele groep aangesproken wordt. Dus 'alle zwarten zijn lui.' Staat er bij een foto 'luie zwarte', dan is er niets aan de hand. Goedaardig, volgens Facebook.
Onder QPC vallen migranten, vluchtelingen en asielzoekers, krijgen de cursisten te horen. Die zijn nauwelijks beschermd. Alles mag gezegd worden. 'Moordenaars, dievenbende, uitvreters.' De grens ligt bij oproepen tot geweld: 'Schiet die boot met asielzoekers kapot.'
De cursusleider legt ze de werkwijze uit. De content moderators '' de functie die Erik en zijn medecursisten krijgen - krijgen gemelde berichten te zien. Die zijn ofwel door gebruikers gerapporteerd, of door de computers van Facebook opgemerkt '' via zogeheten kunstmatige intelligentie. Ongeveer een op de tien meldingen is door computers opgemerkt. Dat aantal zal stijgen. De moderatoren dienen binnen 12 seconden een beslissing te nemen. Daarbij hebben ze vijf keuzes: 1. Negeren 2. Verwijderen 3. Checken bij een meerdere 4. Escaleren 5. Markeren als gevoelig/wreed.
Als Erik een bericht verwijdert, moet hij het in een categorie plaatsen. Hoe hoger de categorie, des te zwaarder de mogelijke straf voor de overtreder. De strafmaat bepalen hogere medewerkers. Uit de rangschikking blijkt wat Facebook voor het platform zelf het meest schadelijk vindt: 'spam', nog boven kinderporno, terrorisme of haat. Overtredingen kunnen een tijdelijke 'block' of een permanente schorsing opleveren.
Take care of yourself, staat boven een presentatie waarin de meest gruwelijke filmpjes en foto's voorbijkomen. Pubers die kokend heet water over anderen gooien, echte executies verstopt in kinderfilmpjes, live uitgezonden zelfmoorden. Als de training na twee weken is voltooid, zijn drie van de 22 cursisten afgehaakt.
Erik gaat wel aan de slag als moderator. Nieuwsgierigheid drijft hem. Hij meldt zich om 8 uur 's ochtends voor de shift tot 16.30 uur. Anderen werken van 13.30 tot 22.00 uur. Op de redactievloer is het stil, op het zachte, onregelmatige muisgeklik na. Op de lege witte bureaus staat een zwarte pc van Dell.
De Nederlanders '' het zijn er op dat moment vier, later zes of zeven '' zitten naast de Grieken en Portugezen, rechts daarvan de Italianen en Slowaken. Ze modereren alle Nederlandstalige gebieden: Vlaanderen, Suriname en Zuid-Afrika. Bijna iedereen heeft een koptelefoon op. Moderatoren staan of zitten. De gemiddelde leeftijd is zo rond de 27. Ze verdienen praktisch het minimumloon: 8,90 euro per uur, oftewel 1500 euro per maand. Bruto.
Erik leert van een subject matter expert wat hij moet doen: tickets beoordelen. De vier Nederlanders krijgen zo'n 8.000 tickets per dag: gerapporteerde berichten over haat, geweld, kinderporno, zelfbeschadiging. Doel is om er per persoon minimaal 1.800 te beoordelen. Pauze telt niet als werktijd; moderatoren dienen dan uit te loggen. De Nederlanders lopen flink achter, hoort Erik. Er staan nog 22.000 tickets in de wachtrij, waaronder noodkreten van mensen die zelfmoord dreigen te plegen.
De haat, dat is wat hem meteen raakt. 'Ik schrok daarvan.' De intense haat, tegen asielzoekers, Marokkaanse Nederlanders, zwarte mensen. Erik: 'En alles in Nederland is kanker. Kankerjongen, kankerneger, kankerhoer.' In Vlaanderen krijgen de 'makakken' de schuld, in Nederland de 'Marokkanen'. Elk gebied heeft zo zijn eigen 'overlast': gewelddadige foto's en video's van bendes in Latijns-Amerika, porno en geweld tegen vrouwen in het Midden-Oosten. De Portugese en Griekse moderatoren hebben het relatief rustig. Die gebruiken minder Facebook en schelden ook minder. Hun moderatoren kunnen nog weleens Netflix aanzetten. Nederlanders niet: Nederland is het land van de haat, zegt Erik.
En het land waar ze ziektes gebruiken om te schelden. Ook de andere Europeanen schrikken van het aantal 'tickets' dat Nederland heeft. 'Kanker' is zo'n veelgebruikt scheldwoord dat Facebook het niet als schelden aanmerkt. Ondoenlijk om dat te verwijderen. Vanwege de vele openstaande tickets, helpen de Grieken het Nederlandse team een tijdje mee met het beoordelen van video's, bevestigen de twee moderatoren.
Piekmomenten voor Nederland zijn de intocht van Sinterklaas, verkiezingen en bijeenkomsten van de PVV. In Berlijn weten ze inmiddels: dan neemt het aantal bedreigingen fors toe. 'Geert Wilders heeft opgeroepen tot een demonstratie op zaterdag 20 januari 2018 in Rotterdam', staat in een mail die de Nederlandse moderatoren in januari krijgen. 'We weten dat dit soort situaties extreme haat en tegenreactie oproepen.' En: 'Focus niet alleen op zaterdag. De meeste berichten over dit onderwerp stromen zondag en maandag binnen.'
Facebook is Amerikaans. En de Amerikaanse normen zijn leidend. Wat terrorisme is, wordt bepaald door de terrorismelijst van het Amerikaanse ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken. Maar Facebook is niet eenduidig. De aanslag in Las Vegas, oktober 2017, wordt eerst als massamoord bestempeld. Een blanke man is de dader. Na hevige kritiek past Facebook het beleid een week later aan. Erik: 'Het werd alsnog terrorisme.'
Elke paar weken volgt er een interne policy update. Het Facebookbeleid is heilig, tenzij landen op specifieke onderdelen bezwaar maken. Zo verdwijnen in Turkije politieke boodschappen van het platform. Kritiek op Erdogan is er verboden en Facebook gaat daarin mee, hoewel het eigen beleid voorschrijft dat kritiek op publieke personen juist ruimhartig mag zijn. Zo kan het dat een spotprent van de Nederlandse cartoonist Ruben L. Oppenheimer over Erdogan toch door Facebook wordt verwijderd: ofwel doordat de melding door Turkse moderatoren wordt beoordeeld, of doordat iemand de regels verkeerd interpreteert.
Mensenrechtenorganisaties verwijten Facebook al langer de belangen van overheden te dienen of censuur toe te passen. In Myanmar verbood het bedrijf alle verwijzingen naar een opstandelingengroep van bedreigde Rohingya. Volgens het bedrijf omdat het een 'gevaarlijke organisatie' is, maar Facebook ondernam niets tegen de officile pagina van het leger, door de VN beschuldigd van 'etnische zuivering' van de Rohingya.
Of neem de vrouwelijke tepel. Erik: 'Als Europeanen vinden wij dat normaal. Maar een volledige tepel moeten we verwijderen. Amerikaanse preutsheid.' Voor activisten geldt een uitzondering, net zoals bij borstamputaties. Dat dit ook weer voor discussie zorgt, blijkt uit het feit dat de bekende PSP-verkiezingsposter uit de jaren zeventig '' met naakte vrouw en koe '' regelmatig verwijderd wordt.
***
Nadat Erik in zijn derde week een paar duizend tickets heeft beoordeeld, krijgt hij vanzelf video's erbij, zonder waarschuwing. Meteen ziet hij een filmpje dat hem lang bijblijft. Er hupt een man in een oranje overall over een asfaltweg. Zijn benen zijn geboeid, waardoor hij met klein sprongetjes beweegt. Er komt een tank aanrijden die over de man heen rijdt. Dan zoomt de camera in op het platte, bloederige restant van de man.
Erik staat op en loopt naar buiten. Nu begrijpt hij waarom er regelmatig mensen schreeuwend en huilend het pand verlaten. Buiten rookt hij trillend een sigaret. Hij staat een uur buiten. Daarna maakt hij z'n shift af. Niemand vraagt hem iets.
In de weken daarna krijgt hij alles wel een keer te zien. Martelingen, executies, stenigingen. Maar ook challenges, uitdagingen. Pubers die net zolang hun armen 'gummen' totdat de spieren zichtbaar zijn. Anorexia-patinten die oproepen doen: elke like is een uur niet eten. 'En dan komen de likes binnen. Van 2 naar 5, naar 14.' Filmpjes van Sponge Bob die na een paar seconden overgaan in een onthoofding. Het zijn beelden die in z'n hoofd rond blijven malen. 'We zijn er helemaal niet voor opgeleid om dit soort ellende te zien. Dag in, dag uit.'
De vestiging Berlijn heeft (C)(C)n psycholoog, een maatschappelijk werker en een zogeheten feelgoodmanager. Die laatste stuurt onder meer mailtjes over yogaklassen en wijst de werknemers er op dat er elke dag vers fruit is. Dus meldt hij zich een keer bij de bedrijfspsycholoog. Ook die begint over de heilzame werking van yoga. En ze legt hem uit dat hij heel belangrijk werk doet. Moeilijk, maar belangrijk. Ook raadt ze hem aan om na het werken niet direct de U-bahn te pakken, maar een halte over te slaan en wat te lopen. Erik heeft er naar eigen zeggen weinig aan.
Een Zweedse collega brengt hem op een idee. Die staat op een dag voor de supermarkt Edeka uit een kartonnen pak wijn te drinken. Die zelfmedicatie lijkt Erik wel wat. Eerst na werktijd. Dan een borrel voor hij de U-bahn neemt. En vervolgens ook onder werktijd. Al snel neemt hij een liter wijn in een blauwe Facebookfles mee naar binnen.
Net zoals andere collega's bezoekt hij een zogeheten Polenmarkt, vlakbij Frankfurt aan de Oder. Een retourtje met de bus kost vijf euro. Daar kopen ze goedkoop sigaretten, maar ook valium, diazepam en andere medicijnen waarmee ze hun stemming tijdens werkuren afvlakken. Een recept hebben ze daar niet nodig.
***
Lang blijft Facebook weg van kritiek op het platform. De mantra van het bedrijf: het wil mensen verbinden. Het is een sociale beweging. De trainer vertelt Erik dat Facebook tot 2014 het belangrijkste kanaal voor Syrigangers is. Pas als de Amerikaanse overheid bij het bedrijf daarover klaagt, gaat Facebook actief verspreiding van terroristische propaganda tegen. Maar 2017 is een kanteljaar. Allereerst is er de erkenning door topman Mark Zuckerberg dat het medium misbruikt is voor propaganda. Daarnaast verenigen ex-bestuurders van het bedrijf zich in een stichting die waarschuwt voor de maatschappelijke gevaren van techbedrijven zoals Facebook. Zij laten zien dat alles bij die bedrijven erop gericht is om mensen verslaafd te maken aan hun product. Het zijn advertentiebedrijven: hoe groter het publiek, hoe meer ze verdienen.
Mensen moeten zo vaak mogelijk terugkomen. Daarvoor bezoeken Facebookmanagers congressen over gedragsbe¯nvloeding. Als gebruikers de app openen, moeten ze verrast zijn. Daarvoor zorgt het algoritme. Bijdragen die om wat voor reden dan ook opvallen, krijgen meer aandacht. Want die zorgen voor meer emoties en reacties. Een genuanceerde bijdrage scoort minder hoog dan een uitgesproken opinieartikel. Bedrijven als Facebook en Instagram gedijen bij ophef, zolang de ophef maar niet over henzelf gaat.
Dat laat de behandeling van Sylvana Simons zien. De televisiepersoonlijkheid en politica is een geliefd mikpunt voor haat en racisme. Simons geldt binnen Facebook als publiek persoon , vertelt Erik, en het beleid is dat daar praktisch alles over gezegd mag worden. Erik ziet het ene na het andere bericht over Simons voorbij komen. 'Ga terug naar je apenland', 'Ik gooi je zwarte kut in de gracht', of 'Sterf, hoer'. Allemaal toegestaan.
Sylvana Simons openbaart in augustus vorig jaar zelf een priv(C)bericht dat ze via Facebook ontvangt van ene Egbert. 'STERF!! Achterlijke kankerzwarte! Please donder op en laat ons land met rust! Misselijkmakende zandvreter! Wij blank volk hadden jouw zwarte volk lekker in slavernij moeten houden! Toen waren jullie nog braaf en luisterden jullie!'
Het mag van Facebook. Erik kan er niet aan wennen. Alles wat hij als mens verachtelijk vindt, moet-ie als content moderator accepteren. Haat, racisme, schelden. Maar bij het zoveelste bericht over Sylvana Simons is hij het zat. Bam. Hij verwijdert het bericht en markeert het als 'haat'. Weg ermee. Maar dan krijgt hij vragen van zijn leidinggevende. Waarom heeft dat gedaan? Het levert Erik een 'foute beoordeling' op, wat hij meteen terugziet in zijn scoringspercentage. 85 procent van zijn beoordelingen voldoet aan het Facebookbeleid. Dat moet minimaal 98 procent zijn.
Facebook heeft er geen belang bij dat er veel inhoud geweerd wordt '' tenzij de publieke discussie verschuift van de inhoud van die berichten naar Facebook. Zo gaat het ook bij Simons. Eerst moet Erik bijna alles dat op haar betrekking heeft, laten gaan. Maar ineens is dat afgelopen, vertelt hij. Dat is in oktober 2017, vlak voordat een Europese ngo bij Facebook langskomt om te toetsen hoe het bedrijf omgaat met hate speech. Net voor het bezoek verandert de status van Simons. Ze wordt een 'beschermd persoon'. De redenering: ze is niet alleen politica, maar ook activiste.
'Ja', reageert Simons desgevraagd, 'het is me opgevallen dat het de laatste tijd rustiger is. Vanaf januari al denk ik. Daarvoor speelde nog de Zwarte Piet-discussie.' Ze rapporteerde regelmatig nepprofielen en racistische berichten. 'Daar kwam eigenlijk nauwelijks reactie op. Of ik kreeg als antwoord: dit valt nog binnen het beleid.' Dat is veranderd. Simons: 'Ze nemen mijn meldingen over haat en racisme nu wel serieus.'
***
Na vier maanden ziet Erik een filmpje dat hij niet kan vergeten. De video duurt 30 seconden. Een meisje van een jaar of 11 wordt anaal verkracht. 'Afschuwelijk. Ik ben bang dat ik het nooit meer kan vergeten. Dat ik altijd het angstige gezicht van dat meisje zal blijven zien.' Hij verdooft zich meer en meer met wijn en medicijnen. Z'n collega's doen hetzelfde. Een Deens meisje stopt na een aantal maanden en wordt met een posttraumatische stressstoornis opgenomen. Haar behandelaars verbieden haar Facebook nog langer te gebruiken. Het Nederlandse team, dat inmiddels is gegroeid tot acht personen, wisselt in een half jaar volledig van samenstelling. Niemand houdt het langer dan een paar maanden vol. Erik ziet telkens nieuwe gezichten.
Hij snapt dat Facebook iets moet doen. Dat iemand de rotzooi op moet ruimen. 'Maar wat wringt is het gebrek aan professionele hulp. Politiemedewerkers die kinderporno bekijken zijn getraind en mogen dat maximaal een paar uur per dag doen. Wij zien de hele dag ellende. Onvoorbereid.' Ook Erik trekt het niet. Hij merkt dat hij angstiger is, wantrouwig naar andere mensen toe. Hij is gevoeliger voor geweld en haat, ziet het de hele dag voor zich. Hij krijgt therapie, maar elke keer als hij weer het Facebookgebouw binnenstapt, komt de angst terug. Uiteindelijk zegt hij na acht maanden zijn baan op. Hij heeft nog wekelijks therapie.
***
Kort nadat afdelingshoofd Sebastian zijn waarschuwende mail aan het personeel heeft rondgestuurd, krijgen verschillende journalisten, waaronder van de New York Times, urenlang presentaties over het moderatiebeleid van Facebook te zien. Leidinggevenden vertellen hoe de techreus zich al vlot heeft aangepast aan de nieuwe Duitse wetgeving. Tot publicaties leidt het niet: enkele weken na het bezoek wordt bekend dat het Britse databedrijf Cambridge Analytica de profielen van 87 miljoen Facebookgebruikers heeft gestolen. Facebook wist ervan, maar deed niets. Na aanvankelijke, dagenlange stilte biedt Zuckerberg zijn excuses aan. Hij belooft, ook nu weer, beterschap.
Het verhaal van Erik
Dit artikel is grotendeels gebaseerd op het verhaal van 'Erik', een Nederlandse man die vorig jaar meer dan 8 maanden content moderator was bij Facebook. Hij wil anoniem blijven omdat hij een geheimhoudingsverklaring heeft getekend. De Volkskrant heeft zijn verhaal getoetst bij een andere moderator. Die heeft 36 feitelijkheden gecontroleerd en 31 bevestigd. De 5 onbevestigde beweringen zijn verwijderd. Verder heeft de krant interne presentaties en beleidsnota's gezien, en wordt het verhaal van Erik op onderdelen ondersteund door beleidsdocumenten van Facebook die eerder door The Guardian zijn gepubliceerd.
Meer over de reputatie van Nederlandse Facebookgebruikers
Nederland blinkt uit in haatberichten op Facebook
Nederlandse gebruikers van Facebook hebben een bedenkelijke reputatie. Hun stroom berichten met haat, racisme en het toewensen van ziekten als kanker is opvallend groot. In Zuid-Europese landen ligt dat aantal bijvoorbeeld veel lager. Dit blijkt uit het verhaal van een Nederlandse moderator die vorig jaar bij Facebook werkte en wiens relaas ondersteund wordt door gelekte e-mails, interne documenten en een collega.
Volkskrant Article Translated
The hell behind the façade of Facebook
How the tech giant hates (does not) filter
For the outside world must remain secret how Facebook works. Meanwhile, inexperienced forces are flooded with horrific texts and images.
Tom Kreling, Huib Modderkolk and Maartje Duin 21 April 2018, 2:00
Inside facebook - Volkskrant Saturday Photo Daniel Hertzberg
Team head Sebastian will send in early February - a month before Facebook will come under fire worldwide because the data of 87 million Facebook users have been stolen - a mail to 1,100 employees of the Horizon team in Berlin. A visit of the BBC and the New York Times is announced. "The purpose of this visit," writes Sebastian, "is the same as last time: creating more social understanding for our work here."
The arrival of the media has been carefully prepared. Special people have been selected to share the story of Facebook. The company has been struggling for some time with a number of ailments, such as the spread of disinformation, political influence and abuse of the platform by terrorist groups. Users are also victims of hate campaigns.
Facebook wants the image to tilt. In the eyes of the public, the company has always reacted with hesitation to the criticism. The defense was long that it only offers a 'platform' and that it is up to the users to deal with it decently. In the run-up to the US elections in 2017, Facebook does not want to hear anything about manipulation of the medium, while the company later admits that eighty thousand messages have been posted on Facebook from Russia to influence the elections. In the meantime, Germany is forcing companies such as Facebook through a special 'internet law' to remove hateful messages within 48 hours.
At the BBC and the New York Times, Facebook wants to show that it is serious. In recent years the company has built up an army of thousands of cheap workers in various parts of the world - Manila, Dublin, Berlin - to keep the platform clean. Nothing can be seen on the outside of the buildings where they work. Not even at the renovated factory complex of Siemens in Spandau, on the west side of Berlin. There are four enormous buildings - including an impressive monumental clock tower that survived the Second World War - where 650 people work for Facebook in early 2017 and now, nearly a year later, 1,100.
In droves they trudge from the Siemensdam U-bahn station to the complex where eBay and AirBnB are located. What they do exactly is secret. 'The purpose of the visit is explicitly not to talk about details or confidential data', is also included in the mail about the visit of the media.
inside facebook Photo Daniel Hertzberg
Because the openness that Facebook exudes for these media is directed. The people who work here are not allowed to tell anyone what their tasks are, according to the Dutch Erik. They will hear that at the beginning of a two-week training session. Friends are not allowed to know, neither do family. It is not allowed to take personal belongings with you. Telephones must be in a safe. Pen and paper are forbidden. Dyson hand dryers are hanging on the toilets because paper towels can also be described, he says. Employees check whether there are bags under the desks.
Facebook does not want to know how the company determines what is and is not allowed, and how it filters, censors, blocks and removes messages. Two moderators talked about this in the past months with de Volkskrant, on condition of anonymity. In several conversations of a few hours, Erik told his story. Another moderator has tested that story on facts. They talk about Facebook because they are worried. About the company and about itself.
"I want to remind you," emphasizes team head Sebastian in his mail, "to behave as agreed in the terms of employment and never to talk to journalists or other interested parties. This is especially for your own safety! "
***
The Dutchman Erik ends up with Facebook by coincidence, actually like all his colleagues. He responds to a simple advertisement for 'customer care agent - Dutch speaker' on the vacancy website indeed.com. Berlin has a large group of international creative people. The low rents and the pleasant living environment she attracts to the German capital. Berlin is also attractive to international companies: wages are low and many young people with different backgrounds live there. That is why there are many call centers in and around the city of companies such as Zalando and Playstation.
Erik had worked for some of those call centers, but he did not want that anymore. He is allowed to meet with GI Gruppe, a large German temporary employment agency. The conversation takes less than ten minutes. The name is not mentioned here at all
from the client. We only refer to 'the project'. The GI Gruppe recruiter is not very picky: there are no functional requirements.
The most important question Erik is asked is whether he is resistant to seeing misery. Terrorism, torture, that sort of thing. Erik thinks it will run loose; he has worked with refugees for years and is therefore used to it. And with that, the conversation has been completed. The next day he enters the office of Arvato Bertelsmann, a large German media company.
There he has a short conversation again. Erik hears that he is applying for a job as a content moderator: he will study videos, photos and text. All as part of 'the project' for 'the client'. The name 'Facebook' still does not fall. Erik agrees, three days later he must report to a building on the east side of Berlin.
He goes through the security gates and waits, together with others, at the reception. There are Brazilians, Portuguese, Sweden, Greeks, Syrians. The group has 22 people. First they sign a confidentiality statement. It is the first time that Erik hears that he will work for Facebook. Then they go to a basement with shuttered windows and they see presentations by a young Argentinian.
The students receive, as a test, a number of messages on their screen. One of the posts that Erik has to review is a photograph of a dying little African boy in which a box of Pizza Hut has been photoshopped. Horrible, he finds it. Sadistic. At least it seems to him something to mark as sensitive and cruel. Error, he gets to hear. Let it go.
According to Erik, Facebook works with protected categories (PC) and quasi-protected categories (QPC). A PC is a vulnerable group - such as transgender people, seriously chronically ill, Jews, Ghanaian women, women in general. A message may only be deleted if the entire group is addressed. So 'all blacks are lazy.' If there is 'lazy black' in a photo, then there is nothing to worry about. Good-natured, according to Facebook.
QPCs include migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, the students are told. They are hardly protected. Everything can be said. "Murderers, thieves, procurers." The limit lies in calls for violence: "Shoot that boat with asylum seekers."
The course leader explains the method. The content moderators - the function that Erik and his fellow students receive - get notified messages. These have either been reported by users, or noticed by the computers of Facebook - via so-called artificial intelligence. Approximately one in ten reports was noticed by computers. That number will rise. The moderators must make a decision within 12 seconds. In addition, they have five choices: 1. Ignore 2. Delete 3. Check with a multiple 4. Escalate 5. Mark as sensitive / cruel.
If Erik removes a message, he must put it in a category. The higher the category, the heavier the possible punishment for the offender. The sentence determines higher employees. The ranking shows what Facebook finds the most harmful for the platform itself: 'spam', even above child pornography, terrorism or hatred. Violations can result in a temporary 'block' or permanent suspension.
Take care of yourself, is above a presentation in which the most gruesome movies and photos pass by. Adolescents throwing boiling hot water over others, real executions hidden in children's movies, live broadcast suicides. When the training is completed after two weeks, three of the 22 students have dropped out.
Erik is going to work as a moderator. Curiosity drives him. He reports at 8 am in the morning before the shift until 4.30 pm. Others work from 13.30 to 22.00. On the editorial floor it is silent, except for the soft, irregular mouse click. On the empty white desks is a black pc from Dell.
The Dutch - at that moment there are four, later six or seven - sit next to the Greeks and Portuguese, to the right the Italians and Slovaks. They moderate all Dutch-speaking areas: Flanders, Suriname and South Africa. Almost everyone has headphones on. Moderators stand or sit. The average age is around 27. They earn practically the minimum wage: 8.90 euros per hour, or 1500 euros per month. Gross.
Erik learns from a subject matter expert what he has to do: judge tickets. The four Dutch people get about 8,000 tickets a day: reported reports of hatred, violence, child pornography, self-harm. The aim is to assess at least 1,800 per person. Break does not count as working time; moderators should then log out. The Dutch are well behind, Erik hears. There are still 22,000 tickets in the queue, including emergency calls from people who threaten to commit suicide.
The hatred, that is what hits him immediately. "I was shocked by that." The intense
hatred, against asylum seekers, Moroccan Dutch, black people. Erik: 'And everything in the Netherlands is cancer. Cancer boy, cancer star, cancer whore. "In Flanders the 'makakken' get the blame, in the Netherlands the 'Moroccans'. Each area has its own 'nuisance': violent photos and videos of gangs in Latin America, pornography and violence against women in the Middle East. The Portuguese and Greek moderators are relatively calm. They use less Facebook and also scold less. Their moderators can sometimes turn on Netflix. The Dutch are not: the Netherlands is the country of hatred, says Erik.
And the country where they use diseases to scold. The other Europeans are also shocked by the number of 'tickets' that the Netherlands has. 'Cancer' is such a widely used term that Facebook does not consider it a scam. Not feasible to remove that. Because of the many outstanding tickets, the Greeks help the Dutch team to evaluate video for a while, the two moderators confirm.
Peak moments for the Netherlands are the arrival of Sinterklaas, elections and meetings of the PVV. In Berlin they now know: the number of threats will increase significantly. 'Geert Wilders has called for a demonstration on Saturday, January 20, 2018 in Rotterdam', is an email that the Dutch moderators will receive in January. "We know that these types of situations evoke extreme hatred and counter-reaction." And: "Focus not just on Saturday. Most of the messages on this subject are coming in on Sunday and Monday. "
Facebook is American. And American standards are leading. What terrorism is, is determined by the terrorism list of the US Department of State. But Facebook is not unambiguous. The attack in Las Vegas, October 2017, is first labeled as a mass murder. A white man is the perpetrator. After severe criticism, Facebook adjusts the policy a week later. Erik: 'It was still terrorism.'
An internal policy update follows every few weeks. The Facebook policy is sacred, unless countries object to specific parts. In Turkey, for example, political messages disappear from the platform. Criticism of Erdogan is forbidden and Facebook goes along with it, although its own policy prescribes that criticism of public persons may be generous. For example, it is possible that a cartoon of the Dutch cartoonist Ruben L. Oppenheimer about Erdogan is removed by Facebook: either because the report is judged by Turkish moderators, or because someone misinterprets the rules.
Human rights organizations have been accusing Facebook of serving the interests of governments or applying censorship for some time. In Myanmar, the company banned all references to a rebel group of threatened Rohingya. According to the company because it is a 'dangerous organization', but Facebook did nothing against the official page of the army, accused by the UN of 'ethnic cleansing' of the Rohingya.
Or take the female nipple. Erik: 'As Europeans we think that is normal. But we must remove a complete nipple. American prudery. "An exception applies to activists, just as with breast amputations. The fact that this also causes discussion again is evidenced by the fact that the famous PSP election poster from the 1970s - with naked woman and cow - is regularly removed.
***
After Erik has scored a few thousand tickets in his third week, he automatically adds videos without warning. Immediately he sees a movie that stays with him for a long time. A man in an orange overalls hugs an asphalt road. His legs are handcuffed, making him move with small jumps. There comes a tank driving over the man. Then the camera zooms in on the flat, bloody remnant of the man.
Erik stands up and walks outside. Now he understands why people leave the building screaming and weeping. Outside he smokes a cigarette. He is outside for an hour. Then he finishes his shift. Nobody asks him anything.
In the following weeks he will see everything once. Torture, executions, stoning. But also challenges, challenges. Adolescents who 'gum' their arms until the muscles are visible. Anorexia patients who make calls: every like does not eat for an hour. "And then the likes come in. From 2 to 5, to 14. "Sponge Bob's videos that turn into a decapitation after a few seconds. They are images that continue to grind around in his head. "We are not at all trained to see this kind of misery. Day in day out.'
The Berlin branch has one psychologist, a social worker and a so-called feel-good manager. The latter sends e-mails about yoga classes and points out to the employees that there is fresh fruit every day. So he reports once to the company psychologist. It also begins with the beneficial effects of yoga. And she explains that he is very important
She also advises him not to immediately catch the U-bahn after work, but to skip a stop and walk. Erik says he has little to do.
A Swedish colleague brings him an idea. That one day stands for the supermarket Edeka from a cardboard pack of wine to drink. Self-medication seems to be something Erik thinks. First after working time. Then a drink before he takes the U-bahn. And then also during working hours. Soon he takes a liter of wine into a blue Facebook bottle.
Like other colleagues, he visits a so-called Poland market, near Frankfurt on the Oder. A return ticket by bus costs five euros. There they buy cheap cigarettes, but also valium, diazepam and other medications with which they flatten their mood during working hours. They do not need a recipe there.
***
For a long time Facebook stays away from criticism of the platform. The mantra of the company: it wants to connect people. It is a social movement. The trainer tells Erik that until 2014, Facebook is the most important channel for Syria visitors. Only if the US government complains to the company about this, Facebook actively counteracts the propagation of terrorist propaganda. But 2017 is a tilt year. First of all, there is the recognition by CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the medium has been misused for propaganda. In addition, former directors of the company unite in a foundation that warns against the social dangers of tech companies such as Facebook. They show that everything at these companies is aimed at making people addicted to their product. They are advertising companies: the bigger the audience, the more they earn.
People have to come back as often as possible. For this purpose Facebook managers visit conferences about behavioral influence. When users open the app, they must be surprised. The algorithm takes care of that. Contributions that stand out for whatever reason receive more attention. Because they provide more emotions and reactions. A nuanced contribution scores less high than a pronounced opinion article. Companies like Facebook and Instagram thrive at fuss, as long as the fuss is not about themselves.
That shows the treatment of Sylvana Simons. The television personality and politics is a popular target for hatred and racism. Simons is a public person within Facebook, says Erik, and the policy is that practically everything can be said about it. Erik sees one after another message about Simons passing by. 'Go back to your monkey country', 'I throw your black cunt in the canal', or 'Die, whore'. All allowed.
Sylvana Simons reveals herself a private message in August last year that she receives from Egbert via Facebook. 'STERF !! Retarded cancer black! Please thunder and leave our country alone! Nauseating sand eater! We white people should have kept your black people in slavery! Then you were still good and you listened! "
It's allowed from Facebook. Erik can not get used to it. Everything he thinks to be humane as a person must be accepted as a content moderator. Hatred, racism, scolding. But he is fed up with the umpteenth message about Sylvana Simons. Bam. He removes the message and marks it as 'hatred'. Get rid of it. But then he gets questions from his supervisor. Why did that happen? It gives Erik an 'incorrect assessment', which he immediately sees in his scoring percentage. 85 percent of his assessments comply with the Facebook policy. That should be at least 98 percent.
Facebook has no interest in being denied a lot of content - unless the public discussion shifts from the content of those messages to Facebook. That is also the case with Simons. First Erik has to let go almost everything that concerns her. But suddenly that is over, he says. That is in October 2017, just before a European NGO visits Facebook to test how the company handles hate speech. Just before the visit the status of Simons changes. She becomes a 'protected person'. The reasoning: she is not only a politician, but also an activist.
'Yes', Simons responds when asked,' I have noticed that it has been quieter lately. I think from January. The Zwarte Piet discussion was still in progress. "She regularly reported fake profiles and racist messages. "There was hardly any response to that. Or I got the answer: this is still within the policy. "That has changed. Simons: 'They are taking my reports about hate and racism seriously now.'
***
After four months Erik sees a video that he can not forget. The video lasts 30 seconds. A girl of about 11 years old is raped anally. "Horrible. I'm afraid I can never forget it. That I will always continue to see the fearful face of that girl. "He is increasingly numb with wine and medicine. His colleagues do the same. A Danish girl stops after a few months and is admitted with a post-traumatic stress disorder. Her be
practitioners forbid to use her Facebook any longer. The Dutch team, which has now grown to eight people, will change its composition in half a year. Nobody likes it for more than a few months. Erik always sees new faces.
He understands that Facebook has to do something. That someone has to clean up the mess. "But what is calling is the lack of professional help. Police officers who view child pornography are trained and are allowed to do so for a maximum of a few hours a day. We see misery throughout the day. Unprepared. "Erik also does not care. He notices that he is more anxious, suspicious of other people. He is more susceptible to violence and hatred, sees it all day long. He gets therapy, but every time he enters the Facebook building, the fear returns. In the end, he resigns after eight months. He still has weekly therapy.
***
Shortly after department head Sebastian has sent his warning mail to the staff, several journalists, including the New York Times, get to see presentations about the moderation policy of Facebook for hours. Managers tell how the tech giant has already adapted quickly to the new German legislation. It does not lead to publications: a few weeks after the visit it is known that the British data company Cambridge Analytica stole the profiles of 87 million Facebook users. Facebook knew about it, but did nothing. After initial, day-long silence Zuckerberg offers his apologies. He promises, even now, improvement.
The story of Erik
This article is largely based on the story of 'Erik', a Dutch man who last year was more than 8 months content moderator at Facebook. He wants to remain anonymous because he has signed a confidentiality agreement. De Volkskrant has tested his story with another moderator. He has checked 36 facts and confirmed 31. The 5 unconfirmed claims have been removed. Furthermore, the newspaper has seen internal presentations and policy notes, and Erik's story is supported in part by Facebook policy documents previously published by The Guardian.
More about the reputation of Dutch Facebook users
The Netherlands excels in hate messages on Facebook
Dutch users of Facebook have a dubious reputation. Their stream of messages with hatred, racism and desiring diseases like cancer is strikingly large. In southern European countries, for example, that number is much lower. This is evident from the story of a Dutch moderator who worked at Facebook last year and whose story is supported by leaked e-mails, internal documents and a colleague.
Google video reviewer article - Austin is being scammed! No tech innovation, just zombie drone shell shocked from what they're seeing
Stormy
He fucked a porn star and paid her to shut up. So What?
Dems do this too!
So in 2004 I owned a fine dining restaurant in Missouri.
Claire McCaskill’s brother was my GM. She was running for Governor of Missouri
against Matt Blunt. I found out her brother had embezzled over $12k from me.
He knew I knew and the next day I received a call from a
lawyer representing him. The lawyer almost immediately brought up Claire’s
name. That she would be willing to pay me if I signed an NDA.
I did and she did. Sound familiar? I’m coming out now
because of what is happening to Trump. Dems and other GOP have been getting
away with this for years but now, because it’s Trump it’s illegal? What a
crock. I’m willing to talk about it on the record.
James
Giuliani: 'Truth isn't truth' - POLITICO
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 22:28
''That's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth,'' Rudy Giuliani said of allowing President Donald Trump to testify. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Sunday claimed ''truth isn't truth'' when trying to explain why the president should not testify for special counsel Robert Mueller for fear of being trapped into a lie that could lead to a perjury charge.
''When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well that's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth. Not the truth,'' Giuliani told Chuck Todd on NBC's ''Meet the Press'' on Sunday morning
Story Continued Below
''Truth is truth,'' Todd responded.
''No, no, it isn't truth,'' Giuliani said. ''Truth isn't truth. The President of the United States says, ''I didn't '...''
A startled Todd answered: ''Truth isn't truth?''
Giuliani: ''No, no, no.''
Todd said: ''This is going to become a bad meme.''
Giuliani's remark was not the first time he has gone down this road.
Last week on CNN, he rejected Chris Cuomo's assertion that ''facts are not in the eye of the beholder."
"Yes, they are," Giuliani said. "Nowadays they are."
In May, the former New York mayor pursued a similar line of thought in an interview with The Washington Post about the Mueller investigation: ''They may have a different version of the truth than we do.''
The statement also recalled Kellyanne Conway's statement in January 2017 referring to ''alternative facts'' offered by the White House about crowd sizes at Trump's inauguration.
Trump's legal team, led by Giuliani, earlier this month replied to special counsel Mueller's proposal for terms of a possible presidential interview, but wouldn't disclose the details of the counteroffer.
Mueller is investigating whether the Russian government colluded with Trump's 2016 campaign, as well as related issues including possible obstruction of justice by the president.
The president has said he is willing to speak with the special counsel, though that has yet to come about.
Giuliani and others have expressed concerns that Mueller might use a statement by Trump to indict him for perjury based on differences in what the president might say from what others have testified. ''They have two pieces of evidence,'' Giuliani said to Todd in explaining that idea. ''Trump says I didn't tell them and the other guy says that he did say it. Which is the truth? Maybe you know because you're a genius.''
Giuliani also accused Mueller of leaking that White House counsel Don McGahn cooperated with the special counsel.
The New York Times reported Saturday that McGahn spent 30 hours over a three-day period answering questions as part of Mueller's investigation.
Trump tweeted Saturday evening that he allowed McGahn and ''all other requested members of the White House staff, to fully cooperate with the special counsel.''
Giuliani told Todd that the special counsel was the only one who could have ''leaked'' the story.
''I believe this is a desperate special counsel who leaked this to The New York Times, illegally I might add,'' he said.
When pressed how he knew it was Mueller, Giuliani said those involved on Trump's side would have never done it.
''I didn't leak to the Times and Jay Sekulow didn't leak it to the Times. The president sure as heck didn't. So who could it be?'' Giuliani said. ''It could be McGahn. McGahn's not doing it, and he would have done it a long time ago if he was gonna do it.''
Giuliani, who has previously called on the investigation to end in September, said he doesn't believe the White House has any evidence on the president.
''They're down to desperation time,'' he said. ''They have to write a report and they don't have a single bit of evidence.''
Giuliani's observation about truth was widely mocked on Twitter. A number of those tweets focused on George Orwell's book ''1984'' '-- a novel about a totalitarian state where ''war is peace," "freedom is slavery'' and ''ignorance is strength.'' Those phrases reflect ''doublethink,'' a concept whereby the enslaved citizenry is kept in check.
"'Truth isn't truth.'--@RudyGiuliani to @chucktodd. It's why, since 2016, the book of the year, every year, has been and will be George Orwell's '1984,''' tweeted Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist and author.
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, after tweeting out Giuliani's ''truth isn't truth'' and Orwell's trio of slogans, followed with this tweet: ''Two early TV game shows '-- 'To Tell the Truth' and 'I've Got a Secret.'''
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted about another bit of history.
''The statement by Rudy Giuliani that 'truth isn't truth' is another step towards authoritarianism. It also reminds us of Nixon's defense that 'when the president does it, that means it is not illegal,''' referencing Richard M. Nixon's post-presidential assertion to TV host David Frost.
Perhaps the simplest response, though, came from a dictionary. In response to Giuliani's remarks Sunday, Merriam-Webster tweeted a link to the definition of the word "truth."
Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning '-- in your inbox.
Cohen says he broke campaign finance law 'at direction of candidate' | TheHill
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 22:01
Michael Cohen, President Trump Donald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE 's longtime personal attorney, said Tuesday he violated campaign finance laws "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office," an indirect reference to the president.
Cohen pleaded guilty to bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance law violations in the Southern District of New York. While reviewing the charges, Cohen told the judge that he made a $130,000 payment at the direction of the candidate for federal office to keep someone quiet, and was later repaid by that same candidate.
At no point did Cohen refer to Trump by name, but the account matches Cohen's payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in October 2016.
Cohen additionally told the judge he made a contribution of $150,000 at the direction of the candidate, which aligns with his payment to secure the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal's account of an alleged affair with Trump.
Cohen admits to working ''at direction of the candidate'' Trump and national enquirer to silence Karen McDougal. He also admits to Stormy Daniels payment that he made ''with and at direction of the same candidate.''
'-- Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) August 21, 2018MORE: "U.S. SAYS AIM OF PAYMENT TO HIDE CANDIDATE'S 'ALLEGED AFFAIRS' (ahem, plural) https://t.co/3vBq19992Y
'-- Joshua Green (@JoshuaGreen) August 21, 2018In a statement after Cohen's court appearance, Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami alleged that the president's former lawyer "worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that (Cohen) believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign and to the candidate."
Both payments were intended to influence the 2016 election, prosecutors said.
Cohen later submitted falsified invoices to the candidate's company to be reimbursed for the payments, prosecutors said. They did not provide specifics, but appeared to be referring to the Trump Organization.
Khuzami said that Cohen's crimes demonstrated ''a pattern of lies and dishonesty over an extended period of time.
''They are significant in their own right, they are particularly significant when done by a lawyer,'' Khuzami said.
He added that Cohen ''decided he was above the law, and for that he is going to pay a very, very serious price.''
Prosecutors did not take questions, and Cohen did not stop to speak with reporters as he exited the courthouse.
Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making a false statement to a financial institution, and one count of making an unlawful corporate contribution.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of making an excessive campaign contribution on Oct. 27, 2016, which is the same date he finalized a payment to Daniels as part of a nondisclosure agreement over an alleged affair with Trump.
The $130,000 payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was completed just weeks before the 2016 election. She is now suing Cohen and the president for defamation and to void the nondisclosure agreement about the affair.
Trump initially denied knowing anything about the payment to Daniels, but later acknowledged that he reimbursed Cohen for the expense, which he insisted had nothing to do with the campaign.
Cohen is due in court in December for sentencing.
The president was en route to a campaign rally in West Virginia when Cohen pleaded guilty.
Who Is Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen's Lawyer? '' The Forward
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:28
Michael Cohen served for many years as President Trump's loyal personal lawyer. But after Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to a series of crimes including tax fraud, bank fraud and campaign finance violations, more attention began to be cast on Cohen's own personal lawyer, Lanny Davis '-- especially after Davis
told multiple media outlets that Cohen would be willing to share ''all that he knows'' with special counsel Robert Mueller.
Here are some things you should know about Davis, a longtime Washington power player:
He grew up in a Jewish family:
Lanny Davis was born in December 1945 in Jersey City, New Jersey. His father was a dentist and his mother managed dental office. He frequently peppers his language with
Yiddishisms like ''yenta'' and ''mensch.'' Davis's son Seth is a college basketball analyst for CBS.
He has decades-long connections with some of the world's most powerful people:
Davis attended Yale University at a time when Jewish quotas were still in effect. While there, he befriended future U.S. senator Joe Lieberman, and later went on to serve as treasurer for Lieberman's
political action committee. While at Yale, Davis pledged the same fraternity as future president George W. Bush, who reportedly hazed him. Bush later appointed him to the federal government's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
He's really, really, really close with the Clintons:
Davis first met Hillary Rodham when they attended Yale Law School together, and befriended her and then her future husband Bill Clinton. Davis worked in the 1970s and 1980s as a lawyer at well-connected Washington, D.C. law firms, but joined the Clinton White House in 1996 as special counsel. While there, he publicly defended President Clinton from multiple scandals, emerging as one of the president's most vociferous allies. He left the White House in 1998 to go back into the private sector '-- two weeks before the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
Davis went on to support Hillary Rodham Clinton during her 2008 and 2016 presidential runs, though not without suffering some public embarrassment of his own: A publicly-revealed email sent to Clinton while she was Secretary of State, in which he begged her to ''please please please'' provide a positive quote to a reporter for a news article being written about him, was
described by the Boston Globe as ''Kissing Up 101.''
He's represented a lot of reprehensible people:
Davis emerged in the last two decades as one of the capital's premier lobbyists and crisis management experts. He specialized in taking on clients who many others wouldn't touch, including disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder during the public debate over whether the team name was racist, Pennsylvania State University during the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, and multiple repressive African dictators.
One of his former clients, former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, is currently on trial before the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges. Davis has said that he regrets taking on Gbagbo, but has said that the State Department had urged him to keep his $100,000-per-month contract while the Obama administration was working on resolving the crisis in that country after Gbagbo refused to step down upon losing the presidential election. A State Department spokesman
said at the time that Davis had been ''helpful'' during the crisis.
Is Michael Cohen his toughest client yet?
Davis has been busy since taking on Cohen as a client last month. Davis
gave CNN an audiotape provided by Cohen in which Trump appears to discuss payments to a Playboy model who alleged that she had had an affair with the then-candidate. Since Cohen's guilty plea, Davis has said that Cohen would be willing to
provide special counsel Robert Mueller with ''all that he knows'' about possible collusion with Russia. Davis has also set up a
GoFundMe page to help pay for Cohen's legal bills.
The Six Week Cycle
According to the same source, they are starting it back up again!
Any Collusion?
Exclusive: FBI probing cyber attack on congressional campaign in California - sources | Article [AMP] | Reuters
Sun, 19 Aug 2018 23:07
Sat Aug 18, 2018 / 2:56 PM EDT
Joel Schectman and Christopher Bing
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a cyber attack on the congressional campaign of a Democratic candidate in California, according to three people close to the campaign.
The hackers successfully infiltrated the election campaign computer of David Min, a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives who was later defeated in the June primary for California's 45th Congressional district.
The incident, which has not been previously reported, follows an article in Rolling Stone earlier this week that the FBI has also been investigating a cyber attack against Hans Keirstead, a California Democrat. He was defeated in a primary in the 48th Congressional district, neighboring Min's.
Paige Hutchinson, Min's former campaign manager, declined to comment. An FBI spokeswoman said the bureau cannot confirm or deny an investigation.
While both Min and Keirstead later lost to other primary challengers from their own party, the two closely-watched races are considered critical, competitive battlegrounds as the Democrats seek to win back Congress from Republicans in November.
It is unclear who was behind the attack against Min's campaign, why it was carried out, and what the hackers did with any information they obtained. But details of the hack, described to Reuters by people with direct knowledge of the case, highlight the concerns of national security experts who fear that campaigns are woefully unprotected as the November mid-term elections approach.
It also illustrates how small political campaigns do not have the resources to protect themselves from cyber attacks. Few can hire computer security personnel.
"Political campaigns only exist for such a short amount of time," said Blake Darche, a cyber security researcher and former National Security Agency analyst. "It takes years to build an effective security program at most corporations. Most political campaigns are only a single phishing email away from being breached."
While national political parties offer training and software tools to help candidates, they typically do not provide them with financial support to hire computer security experts, even after a campaign believes it has been hit. Corporations often pay security experts more than $100,000 to investigate an attack, security experts say.
UNUSUAL ACTIVITY
In late March, Min's staff received a troubling notice from the facility manager where the campaign rented space in Irvine, California, said the people close to the campaign. The facility's internet provider had identified unusual patterns of activity that could indicate a cyber attack on campaign computers.
The four-person campaign team had no in-house expertise to deal with the attack. Instead they enlisted the help of software developers with no ties to the campaign other than that they sat nearby in the same shared workspace that Min rented.
The software developers discovered that hackers had placed software into the computers of Min's campaign manager and finance director that recorded and transmitted keystrokes. The hackers had also infected the computers with software that made it undiscoverable by the off-the-shelf anti-virus software used by the campaign staff.
The campaign immediately notified the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the organization that assists the party's candidates. The DCCC notified the FBI and gave the campaign advice on improving its security. It also provided it with secure messaging software for future use. Federal agents interviewed Min's staff and carried off the infected computers.
Min's tiny staff considered hiring a security firm to investigate the attack, but decided the $50,000 minimum price was unaffordable. The DCCC did not cover the costs of such a hire.
"The DCCC's mission is to elect Democrats to Congress, and we spend the vast majority of our limited resources to do that," a DCCC aide, who declined to named, said. "Despite that, the DCCC has gone far outside the scope of its mission to protect the committee and help campaigns protect themselves when it comes to cybersecurity."
Ultimately, the campaign's defense was limited to replacing the infected machines and a future commitment to using encrypted messaging apps. "Even $4,000 to replace those laptops isn't easy to get," said a person close to the campaign.
(Reporting by Joel Schectman and Christopher Bing; Editing by Damon Darlin and Rosalba O'Brien)
Cohen, Manafort, and white-collar crime: we're not prosecuting enough - Vox
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:24
The thought that must keep Michael Cohen up at night as he contemplates the possibility of facing federal charges for $20 million in bank fraud is the knowledge that it's almost inconceivable he would be facing prosecution if not for the fact that his former boss got himself elected president of the United States.
The same is true, of course, of Paul Manafort, another former employee of Trump's. Indeed, Manafort's attorneys made the argument in court '-- and the judge seemed somewhat sympathetic '-- that in effect, the whole prosecution was illegitimate because everyone knew special counsel Robert Mueller was only bringing the case because he was hoping to turn Manafort into a cooperating witness.
Perhaps for that reason, Mueller's team has had nothing to do with the Cohen prosecution, simply turning over evidence it uncovered to the US attorney's office in New York and letting them handle it. Still, the fact remains that the initial inquiry only came to light because of Cohen's association with Trump.
All of which is to say that while the first-order political upshot of the Cohen and Manafort cases is that Trump seems to associate with an awful lot of criminals, the more disturbing implication is that there are a lot of white-collar criminals out there who aren't being prosecuted because their lives don't happen to intersect with a special counsel investigation.
Indeed, Trump himself in his pre-political life seems to have repeatedly benefited from a broad disinclination on the part of the federal government to devote serious efforts to cracking down on white-collar crime. And while a certain laxness about the crimes of the rich has long been a characteristic of the American criminal justice system, it's gotten substantially worse in recent decades, as misguided Supreme Court decisions have made prosecutions harder even as law enforcement resources have been diverted by terrorism and anti-immigrant hysteria and political will to challenge plutocracy has waned.
Ten years ago, it seemed remarkable that America had gotten so soft on corporate crime that nobody was prosecuted for the banking malfeasance that crashed the world economy in 2008. Today we have a White House awash in scandal and criminal associations. We can only hope that if Trump's rule comes to an end, we won't get complacent about the dirt that Mueller has only begun to scratch.
Donald Trump, career criminalTrump himself got his start as a junior partner in his father's real estate business, operating in the outer boroughs of New York City.
And he got his start as a celebrity with a New York Times article detailing federal housing discrimination charges brought against him and his father. The charges were, ultimately, settled without admission of fault '-- something that would be a pattern for Trump over the years.
That his first foray into the real estate business involved criminal acts didn't stop him from continuing in that business. When he later branched out into casinos, he got caught accepting an illegal loan from his father to stay afloat and got off with a slap on the wrist and was allowed to continue in that business as well.
From his empty-box tax scam to money laundering at his casinos to racial discrimination in his apartments to Federal Trade Commission violations for his stock purchases to Securities and Exchange Commission violations for his financial reporting, Trump has spent his entire career breaking various laws, getting caught, and then essentially plowing ahead unharmed. When he was caught engaging in illegal racial discrimination to please a mob boss, he paid a fine. There was no sense that this was a repeated pattern of violating racial discrimination law, and certainly no desire to take a closer look at his various personal and professional connections to the Mafia.
Even as late as the post-election transition period, Trump was allowed to settle a lawsuit about defrauding customers of his fake university (interestingly, the fact that the university was fake was not, itself, actionable fraud at all) rather than truly face the music.
One of Trump's real insights in life was to see this bug in the system. When it comes to these kinds of crimes, it's typically in government officials' interest to agree to a settlement that gives them positive headlines and raises some cash while letting them move on to the next investigation. But while these decisions can make sense individually, they let serial offenders repeat their crimes over and over again. Meanwhile, throughout the decades of Trump's rise, the legal climate has only gotten more permissive.
White-collar crime in the 21st centuryThe 21st century actually opened on what appeared to be a trajectory of getting more zealous about white-collar crime, as even the business-friendly administration of George W. Bush outlined an aggressive enforcement agenda in the wake of accounting scandals at Enron and Worldcom. The final result, however, was essentially the opposite of that.
One big factor was 9/11, which wound up injecting a new sense of urgency and '-- crucially '-- prestige to the FBI's counterterrorism mission. Complicated white-collar cases are hard to make, and those who try to make them may end up making powerful enemies along the way. Counterbalancing that could be the prestige and public acclaim that come with making a major case. But terrorism ended up soaking up both concrete resources and prestige away from other missions that the FBI and federal prosecutors could pursue.
Then the Enron prosecutions themselves soured, as the Supreme Court overturned some charges against Jeffrey Skilling (in what became the launch past for a whole line of questionable jurisprudence that's ended up de facto legalizing bribery) and threw out the case against the accounting firm Arthur Andersen. The Andersen case was doubly sour since the criminal prosecution wound up in effect destroying the firm, even though the government lost the case in the end.
The upshot, as Jesse Eisinger details in his excellent recent book The Chickenshit Club, is that by the time Barack Obama took office in the wake of the financial crisis, the Justice Department had no real stomach for taking on these cases. Meanwhile, the White House and Obama economic teams had no particular desire for them to develop one since their strategy was to patch up the banking system as quickly as possible rather than seek what former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner dismissed as ''Old Testament justice.''
Obama administration officials dislike the implication that they were soft on corporate crime and mount various arguments in their own defense. But one thing is incontrovertible: Unlike the Bush administration and the accounting scandals, the Obama-era Justice Department didn't have any high-profile losses where they brought bank executives to court and were brushed back by business-friendly judges. It simply wasn't an area in which they were interested in pushing the envelope. But the deeper story of Cohen and Manafort is the extent to which, away from hot-button political topics, the resources are simply not available to rigorously investigate all the white-collar crime that's out there.
White-collar cases are hard, and we're barely tryingSuccessfully prosecuting complicated white-collar cases is difficult, both because the cases themselves can get rather involved and because the defendants tend to have considerably more resources to devote to their own legal team than is the case with violent crimes. Meanwhile, you often don't have the equivalent of the dead body that launches a homicide investigation '-- incontrovertible proof that someone committed a crime and now you need to find out who it was.
The Cohen case, for example, seems to be coming together fairly quickly now that it's underway. But for it to get underway, someone had to decide to take a good hard look at it, which ordinarily wouldn't happen.
Congress, meanwhile, in its wisdom has elected to spend more than twice as much money on the two federal law enforcement agencies charged with stopping illegal immigrants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, as they spend on the FBI. But the FBI's mission includes counterterrorism and counterintelligence, organized crime, and a range of other responsibilities.
Obviously it is well understood that despite their fairly lavish budgets, ICE and CBP have not, in practice, succeeded in creating a situation where all unauthorized immigrants are caught, detained, and removed. That state of affairs is frequently portrayed as a kind of urgent national crisis requiring even harsher crackdowns, even more money, and all the rest.
Under the circumstances, it's naturally the case that given the drastically smaller pool of resources dedicated to white-collar crime '-- especially in light of the greater complexity of the cases '-- a lot of crooks end up slipping through the cracks. Elevated interest in the criminality of Trump and his inner circle is, to an extent, changing that. But if the Trump era ever comes to an end, America should consider taking a hard look at a more systemic change. After all, the very fact that we've found ourselves in this situation is a reminder that the Trump crew is but one symptom of a much larger illness.
Net Neutrality
Fire Department Joins Net Neutrality Suit After Verizon Cuts Data During Wildfire
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 01:32
(C) JOSH EDELSON via Getty Images Firefighters watch a back burn during the Mendocino Complex fire in Upper Lake, California on July 31, 2018. A California fire department that's repeatedly had its mobile data speeds throttled by Verizon while responding to wildfires, rendering devices virtually unusable, has submitted its experience as evidence in support of a lawsuit to restore net neutrality at the federal level.
Santa Clara County Fire Department Chief Anthony Bowden made the declaration in an addendum filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals Monday that Verizon has restricted mobile data speeds on an ''unlimited'' device in an emergency response vehicle on at least three occasions since 2017, apparently pledging after every incident it wouldn't do so again.
The department relies on the device to ''track, organize, and prioritize routing of resources from around the state and country to the sites where they are most needed,'' Bowden said. The device typically uses between 5 and 10 gigabytes a day during emergencies.
Once data exceeds 25G of use within a month, however, Verizon slows transfer rates to 0.05 percent of the normal speed, reducing it by a factor of 200, frantic emails between the fire department and Verizon show. (Verizon owns HuffPost's parent company, Oath.)
This happened most recently amid SCCFD's response to the Mendocino Complex Fire, a 410,000-acre, still-burning blaze that's the largest in California history.
''In a side by side comparison, a crew member's personal phone using Verizon was seeing speeds of 20Mbps/7Mbps,'' a fire captain wrote to Bowden on July 29. ''The department Verizon device is experiencing speeds of 0.2Mbps/0.6Mbps, meaning it has no meaningful functionality.''
''Remove any data throttling on effective immediately,'' one email implores, sent to a Verizon representative on July 29, two days after the Mendocino Fire started. The email apparently went unanswered.
''Please work with us,'' reads a second email, sent on July 30. ''All we need is a plan that does not offer throttling or caps of any kind.''
After SCCFD staff complained to Verizon, Bowden said the company confirmed it was indeed throttling the firefighters' data. Instead of restoring the speeds to unrestricted rates, however, a Verizon rep ''indicated that County Fire would have to switch to a new data plan at more than twice the cost.''
The incident is a repeat of a similar encounter on Jun 29, when SCCFD's data was throttled while coordinating a response to the Pawnee Fire in California's Lake County. During that instance, a Verizon rep said functionality could be restored for an additional $2.00 a month.
That incident, in turn, is reminiscent of the same problem SCCFD encountered in Dec. 2017, where, while ''supporting a series of large wildfires,'' its mobile data slowed to a crawl. Emails show that, after that snafu, a fire captain believed ''that Verizon had properly re-categorized the device as truly 'unlimited.'''
Verizon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. But in a statement to Ars Technica, which first broke the news, the company portrayed the series of errors as fundamentally a customer service problem and unrelated to net neutrality.
''Regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations,'' Verizon's statement said. ''We have done that many times, including for emergency personnel responding to these tragic fires. In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us. This was a customer support mistake. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward.''
''We made a mistake in how we communicated with our customer about the terms of its plan,'' Verizon said. ''Like all customers, fire departments choose service plans that are best for them. This customer purchased a government contract plan for a high-speed wireless data allotment at a set monthly cost. Under this plan, users get an unlimited amount of data but speeds are reduced when they exceed their allotment until the next billing cycle.''
Net neutrality advocates disagree, seizing on the story as an example of a telecom industry that has entirely too much power.
''Verizon's throttling has everything to do with net neutrality '-- it shows that the ISPs will act in their economic interests, even at the expense of public safety,'' Santa Clara County counsel James R. Williams said in an emailed statement. ''That is exactly what the Trump Administration's repeal of Net Neutrality allows and encourages.''
Evan Greer, deputy director of the pro-net neutrality group Fight for the Future agreed.
''This incident shows that there is literally nothing that these companies won't do to make a little extra money,'' she said in an email to HuffPost. ''They put their own profits ahead of public safety. And now that a former Verizon lawyer is running the FCC, the agency that is supposed to provide oversight for massive telecom companies, these near-monopolies have been emboldened to abuse their power even more.''
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who led the charge to overturn net neutrality, was formerly associate general counsel for Verizon. After taking over at the FCC, he joked about being ''Verizon's puppet.''
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Clearances
DSS / PSMO-I/ Frequently Asked Questions about the Industrial Personnel Security Clearance Process 10
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 00:56
What is an industrial personnel security clearance? Who issues the personnel security clearance? Who may have access to classified information? When may an individual be processed for a personnel security clearance? Are non-U.S. citizens eligible for a personnel security clearance? May an individual who has been granted a security clearance be authorized access to any and all classified information? Do contractors have the authority to grant, deny, or revoke personnel clearances for their employees? How long does a personnel security clearance remain in effect? Who may apply for a security clearance? What is the purpose of a security clearance? Who decides what level of clearance a person receives? What kind of investigation is conducted to make this determination? How many types or levels of security clearance are there? What work does each clearance allow a person to do? Will my clearance transfer to other federal agencies? Does having a security clearance guarantee employment with an organization? Who conducts the investigation and how can I request a copy? Are members of my family or people living with me subject to a security check? Why would I be denied a security clearance? What option do those who have a security clearance revoked or denied have to regain or attain a clearance? How often is a security clearance renewed? What can cause a delay in the security clearance process? How do I process release(s), fingerprint cards, and SF-312 classified information non-Disclosure agreements? What can I do to speed the process? Where can I get assistance completing my security clearance package or inquire about the status of my security clearance? When will the DoD CAF begin to conduct 4th Estate SCI determinations? How will current on-going cases be affected? How do I contact DIA Personnel Security, Adjudication Branch (SEC-3B) for more information regarding the DoD CAF transfer? 1. What is an industrial personnel security clearance? An industrial personnel security clearance, referred to as a "PCL", is an administrative determination that an industrial employee is eligible for access to classified information. This determination is based on investigation and review of available personal data and a finding that access is clearly consistent with national interests.
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2. Who issues the personnel security clearance?The Department of Defense issues the personnel security clearances for U.S.citizen employees of a contractor who require access to classifiedinformation. Clearances may be at the TOP SECRET, SECRET, or CONFIDENTIALlevel. Requests for clearances are sent to the Personnel Security ManagementOffice for Industry (PSMO-I) which can issue interim clearances for industrypersonnel on behalf of the DoD and User Agencies under the NationalIndustrial Security Program. Upon the completion of the backgroundinvestigation, DoD Adjudications Facilities adjudicates the case and grantsthe final clearance. Personnel Security Clearances must be kept to anabsolute minimum based on contractual needs.
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3. Who may have access to classified information? Only those persons who have a bona fide need-to-know and who possess a personnel security clearance at the same or higher level as the classified information to be disclosed may have access to classified information.
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4. When may an individual be processed for a personnel security clearance? An individual may be processed for a personnel security clearance when employed by a cleared contractor in a job requiring access to classified information. As an exception, a candidate for employment may be processed for a personnel security clearance provided a written commitment for employment has been made by the contractor, and the candidate has accepted the offer in writing. The commitment for employment will indicate that employment shall commence within 30 days of the granting of eligibility for a PCL.
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5. Are non-U.S. citizens eligible for a personnel security clearance? No. However, under rare circumstances, a non-U.S. citizen may be issued a Limited Access Authorization for access to classified information. Specific criteria and limitations are provided in the NISPOM. You may also contact your IS Rep for additional information.
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6. May an individual who has been granted a security clearance be authorized access to any and all classified information? No. The individual must have both the appropriate level of personnel security clearance and a need-to-know for the classified information.
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7. Do contractors have the authority to grant, deny, or revoke personnel clearances for their employees? No. This authority is reserved by the Government.
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8. How long does a personnel security clearance remain in effect? Generally speaking, a personnel security clearance remains in effect as long as the individual remains continuously employed by the cleared contractor and can reasonably be expected to require access to classified information. To preclude excessive clearances, the Facility Security Officer should continually review the number of employees with the personnel security clearances and reduce the number of clearances whenever possible.
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9. Who may apply for a security clearance? Individuals cannot apply for a personnel security clearance application on their own. Rather, the company determines whether an employee will require access to classified information in performance of tasks or services related to the fulfillment of a classified contract. Once the company makes this determination, the individual may be processed for a security clearance.
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10. What is the purpose of a security clearance? The purpose of a security clearance is to determine whether a person is able and willing to safeguard classified national security information, based on his or her loyalty, character, trustworthiness, and reliability.
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11. Who decides what level of clearance a person receives? The company determines the positions that require a security clearance, as well as the level required, based upon the duties and responsibilities of each position. This determination is based on contractual needs and requirements.
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12. What kind of investigation is conducted to make this determination? The kind, or type, of investigation conducted depends on the access level that the individual is required to have to perform his or her official duties. For access to CONFIDENTIAL or SECRET information, a National Agency Check with Local Agency Checks and Credit Check (NACLC) is completed. For access to TOP SECRET or Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) information, a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) is required.
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13. How many types or levels of security clearance are there? There are three levels of security clearance, with the highest level being TOP SECRET. SECRET is the next level of clearance and CONFIDENTIAL is the lowest level. In addition, some classified information has extra protection measures applied such as SCI and Special Access Programs (SAP). Special approval must be given to have access to this information. "For Official Use Only" is not a security classification. It is used to protect information covered under the Privacy Act and other sensitive data.
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14. What work does each clearance allow a person to do? A clearance allows a person filling a specific position to have access to classified national security information up to and including the level of clearance that they hold, so long as the person has a need to know for the information to perform his or her duties.
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15. Will my clearance transfer to other federal agencies? In most cases it will transfer. All federal agencies adjudicate using the 13 Adjudication Guidelines and reciprocal recognition of existing personnel security clearance adjudications throughout the national security community is strongly emphasized by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB has issued guidance regarding reciprocity of access eligibility determinations to ensure that investigations are only conducted to grant new security clearances when they are actually required.
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16. Does having a security clearance guarantee employment with an organization? No. The hiring process addresses whether someone will be initially selected for a particular position within an organization. The security clearance process does not begin until after an applicant is hired or the organization has made a written commitment for employment and the applicant has accepted the offer in writing. Further, personnel security clearances are only initiated when employees will have a need for access to classified information to perform his or her duties.
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17. Who conducts the investigation and how can I request a copy? The Department of Defense has entered into an agreement with the Office of Personnel Management to conduct the majority of the personnel security investigations (PSIs) performed in connection with granting access to classified information. OPM uses government and contract investigators to conduct these investigations. To request a copy of your completed investigation, see the OPM website at: https://www.opm.gov/investigations/freedom-of-information-and-privacy-act-requests/
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18. Are members of my family or people living with me subject to a security check? There are circumstances in which limited records checks or an investigation may be conducted on a spouse or cohabitant. National agency checks are conducted on spouses and/or cohabitants of individuals being processed for a TOP SECRET clearance. Additional investigations may be conducted when the spouse or cohabitant is a foreign national.
*A cohabitant is defined as someone with whom you live together as husband and wife and the relationship involves the mutual assumption of marital rights, duties, and obligations, which are usually manifested by married people, including, but not necessarily dependent on, sexual relations.
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19. Why would I be denied a security clearance? The Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information are used by DoD Central Adjudication Facilities to determine both initial and continued eligibility for access to classified information. The adjudication process is an examination of a sufficient period of a person's life to make an affirmative determination that the person is an acceptable security risk. Eligibility for access to classified information is predicated upon the individual meeting these personnel security guidelines. The adjudication process is the careful weighing of a number of variables known as the whole-person concept. All available, reliable information about the person, past and present, favorable and unfavorable, is considered in reaching a clearance determination. When an individual's life history shows evidence of unreliability or untrustworthiness, questions arise whether the individual can be relied on and trusted to exercise the responsibility necessary for working in a secure environment where protection of classified information is paramount.
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20. What option do those who have a security clearance revoked or denied have to regain or attain a clearance? An individual whose security clearance has been denied or revoked by a central adjudication facility has the opportunity to appeal the decision. The process for doing so differs between military and civilian personnel and contractors. Executive Order 12968, "Access to Classified Information," prescribes the process for military and civilian personnel. Executive Order 10865, "Safeguarding Classified Information Within Industry," outlines the process for contractors.
For contractor personnel, the denial, revocation and appeal process is the responsibility of the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA). The individual may request a hearing before a DOHA administrative judge in order to provide additional, relevant information and will have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. Upon completion of the hearing, the administrative judge will render a decision. If the decision is to deny or revoke the security clearance, the individual has the opportunity to appeal the decision to the Appeal Board. The Appeal Board will review the case file and render its decision. This decision is final and concludes the appeal process.
At the conclusion of the appeal process, an individual whose security clearance has been denied or revoked may not reapply for a security clearance for one year from the date of the final decision. The individual may reapply for a security clearance through his or her employing activity if there is a need for access to classified information. The individual is responsible for providing documentation that the circumstances or conditions which resulted in the denial or revocation have been rectified or sufficiently mitigated to warrant reconsideration. The central adjudication facility may accept or reject the reapplication.
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21. How often is a security clearance renewed? An individual is normally subject to periodic reinvestigation at a minimum of every five years for a TOP SECRET level clearance, every 10 years for a SECRET level clearance and every 15 years for a CONFIDENTIAL level clearance.
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22. What can cause a delay in the security clearance process? The most common areas of delay include the submission of incomplete security application packages, poorly collected fingerprints and investigations that involve coverage of extensive overseas activities. Individuals can help expedite the process by ensuring they have completed all forms in a thorough and accurate manner; familiarizing themselves with the appearance of a properly rolled set of fingerprints, to ensure they are recorded properly; and when possible, providing stateside references that can verify foreign activities.
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23. How do I process release(s), fingerprint cards, and SF-312 classified information non-Disclosure agreements?
NISPOM Paragraph 3-105 requires that an individual issued an initial personnel security clearance (PCL) execute a Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement (SF-312) prior to being granted access to classified information and that the completed form is forwarded to the Cognizant Security Agency for retention. The Facility Security Officer (FSO) is responsible for annotating the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) with the date the SF-312 was executed and submitting the completed SF-312 to Personnel Security Management Office for Industry (PSMO-I) for retention. The new, preferred method of transmission is via fax, this allows for a more expedient entry into our systems.
SF-312s should be faxed or mailed:Fax Number: (571)305-6011 ATTN: SF-312 If using the fax method, please include the following information on the cover letter:
FSO Name FSO Phone Number FSO Fax Number FSO Email Address Subject NameSubject SSNE-Fax Address: dss.ncr.dss-isfo.mbx.psmo-i-fax@mail.mil. When using the email option, password protect the file in the first email and send the actual password in a separate email.
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24. What can I do to speed the process? A lot of detailed information is required to conduct a background investigation. Information such as complete names, addresses, telephone numbers, and dates of birth for relatives will be required. The form the clearance applicant completes is online and permits information to be gathered even after the process fill out the form (once), complete and submit it. When periodic updates are required, the applicant will only need to update information that has changed since the initial submission. If the applicant would like to preview the type of information that will be required, access the Questionnaire for National Security Positions(Standard Form 86) and begin collecting information so it will be available when needed.
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25. Where can I get assistance completing my security clearance package or inquire about the status of my security clearance? The company Facility Security Officer (FSO) should be the first contact for assistance in completing a security clearance package or to inquire into the status of a security clearance. The Knowledge Center is also available.
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26. When will the DoD CAF begin to conduct 4th Estate SCI determinations?The effective date was July 1, 2016.
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27. How will current on-going cases be affected?Nominations submitted prior to the effective date of July 1, 2016, will be adjudicated by the DIA. However, any cases already in the DIA inventory that were already adjudicated by the DoD CAF for Top Secret were transferred back to the DoD CAF for SCI adjudication.
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28. How do I contact DIA Personnel Security, Adjudication Branch (SEC-3B) for more information regarding the DoD CAF transfer?Contact them using the following email address:4thestatetransinfo@dodiis.mil.
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Schweizer: Security Clearance Removal 'Affects Their Bottom Line in a Big Way'
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:39
Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), explained how former FBI Directors James Comey and Robert Mueller leveraged their government positions for self-enrichment. He joined his colleague Seamus Bruner, a GAI researcher, to discuss the latter's forthcoming book, Compromised: How Money and Politics Drive FBI Corruption, in a Friday interview with Sean Hannity.Hannity opened the interview with questions: ''How is it all of these politicians have become filthy rich? They're supposed to be public servants. Where does the money come from? What are the conflicts of interest?''
Hannity drew from Bruner's new book, ''James Comey's net worth has skyrocketed 4000 percent. By the time he left [the Department of Justice] in 2005 and came back in 2013, [James] Comey made 6.1 million dollars after [Robert] Mueller granted his employer, Lockheed Martin '-- the largest contractor in history '-- a billion-dollar boondoggle. Under Mueller's direction, the FBI granted multiple spy contracts to Lockheed Martin while Comey was advising them on the legality of their operations. Comey also received another six million dollars working for one of the world's largest hedge funds and an additional $500,000 for unused vacation time.''
''Mueller cashed in, as well,'' continued Hannity. ''In 2013, when Comey took over the FBI while Mueller left to start consulting at a consulting firm, he made more than 3.5 million in about year giving speeches and representing clients who had previously enriched his FBI director; clients like the world's most profitable spy corporation.'' Apple and Facebook are both former clients of Mueller's consulting firm, with the former providing Paul Manafort's iCloud data to Mueller's team of lawyers. Hannity read, ''Two of Mueller's former clients are cooperating with the special counsel, Facebook [and] Apple. Mueller's former client, the paragon of privacy Apple Inc. provided the special counsel with access to Paul Manafort's iCloud despite making a public spectacle protecting the San Bernardino terrorist's privacy. Mueller's former client, and another paragon of privacy Facebook, may be cooperating with the special counsel voluntarily without a subpoena according to congressional testimony from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.''
Schweizer described Comey and Mueller as a ''tag-team'' engaged in the ''revolving door'' of ''crony capitalism.''
''Jim Comey and Robert Mueller are very close friends,'' said Schweizer. ''They met each other in the 1990s at the Justice Department and have really been sort of this tag team from the beginning. When one of them is in the private sector and one is in government, they steer contracts in the direction of people they're affiliated with and vice-versa. It's a very troubling story that shows the revolving door applies every bit as much to these gentlemen, and crony capitalism applies every bit as much as it does to other people in Washington.''
Bruner said, ''Mueller was senior vice president of Lockheed Martin and general counsel, so he was the top lawyer at the largest contractor in U.S. history. Lockheed Martin gets about 50 billion dollars a year, 95 percent of that is in taxpayer money, and James Comey '-- who's never been the general counsel of a corporation that large '-- comes in in 2005, and by 2009, he's made 6.1 million dollars just in that year alone in cash and stock options, and that's disclosed in SEC documents.''
''This is after Robert Mueller gives a program in 2008 called Next Generation Identification [to Lockheed Martin]. It is a surveillance program [with] biometric facial recognition, basically turning everyone's face into a fingerprint.''
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) describes Next Generation Identification (NGI) as poised to become ''the largest biometric database in the world'' which will include ''fingerprints, iris scans, DNA profiles, voice identification profiles, palm prints, and photographs.'' It warns of NGI's inclusion of ''millions of individuals who are neither criminals nor suspects '... in [its] database. Many of these individuals will be unaware that their images and other biometric identifiers are being captured [and used].''
Bruner said some federal contracts procured by the FBI during Mueller's directorship were unlikely to have been competitively selected using best practices for procurement, including contracts valued as highly as $100 million.
''Like Peter said, [Comey and Mueller] kind of work as a tag team,'' said Bruner. ''So Robert Mueller leaves [the FBI directorship] in 2013, and James Comey takes over. Mueller goes and sets up Robert Mueller and Associates, a consulting firm. He starts giving speeches '-- much like the Clintons do '-- and he returns to his old firm WilmerHale, and some of Mueller's clients are really interesting characters. You've got Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc., both of those corporations are now cooperating with the special counsel.''
Bruner noted Apple's refusal to comply with court orders directing it to unlock and decrypt the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the perpetrators, one of the perpetrators of the 2015's Islamic terrorist mass murder attack in San Bernardino, CA. '' Apple Inc. kind of sells itself as a paragon of privacy, as if they're going to keep your data private,'' he said. ''The San Bernardino terrorist is one very public example where they resisted court orders to unlock this terrorist's phone. Meanwhile, they cooperated with a subpoena from Robert Mueller's special counsel for Paul Manafort's iCloud.''
Hannity remarked, ''Apple received a court order to give over Paul Manafort's iCloud data while they refused a court order to unlock the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone.''
Schweizer explained how security clearances held by former government officials are monetized for self-enrichment.
''If you do not have a security clearance as a retired FBI director or former DOJ senior executive, if you do not have access to that security clearance, you can't work for these contractors,'' stated Schweizer. ''It's not just an issue of John Brennan or James Comey or whoever having access to these clearances for purposes of knowing what's going on. It actually affects their bottom line in a big way.''
Schweizer added, ''This revolving door is a big problem. We know that it happens in the Pentagon. We know that Health and Human Services people do favorable things for, say, a pharmaceutical company, and then they leave to go work for this pharmaceutical company. The same thing is going on at FBI and DOJ and James Comey and Robert Mueller are involved in it.''
Schweizer explained the motivations behind political and news media recalcitrance towards President Donald Trump's removal of security clearances from former Obama-era intelligence officials John Brennan and James Clapper.
''One of the reasons you're going to see a lot of pushback and a lot of screaming on this issue of security clearances is that it goes to the heart of their ability to cash in,'' said Schweizer. ''If they don't have a security clearance, they cannot cash in with these contractors in this way.
Schweizer went on, ''It's a huge issue, because if you work for a contractor, let's say you're a former assistant director of the FBI and you go work for Lockheed Martin or you go to Booz Allen Hamilton or one of these other consulting firms, you are working on classified projects and you need a security clearance. So if you are John Brennan, for example, who was a contractor after he left the intelligence service, those opportunities dry up. Booz Allen Hamilton can't hire you. Lockheed Martin can't hire you to work on any intelligence programs, because those programs are classified. '... Access to top secret security clearances is key if you are going to work for the multitude of contractors out there working in the national security or the intelligence space.''
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This company embeds microchips in its employees, and they love it
Sun, 19 Aug 2018 23:09
When Patrick McMullan wants a Diet Dr Pepper while he's at work, he pays for it with a wave of his hand. McMullan has a microchip implanted between his thumb and forefinger, and the vending machine immediately deducts money from his account. At his office, he's one of dozens of employees who have been doing likewise for a year now.
McMullan is the president of Three Square Market, a technology company that provides self-service mini-markets to hospitals, hotels, and company break rooms. Last August, he became one of roughly 50 employees at its headquarters in River Falls, Wisconsin, who volunteered to have a chip injected into their hand.
The idea came about in early 2017, he says, when he was on a business trip to Sweden'--a country where some people are getting subcutaneous microchips to do things like enter secure buildings or book train tickets. It's one of very few places where chip implants, which have been around for quite a while, have taken off in some fashion.
The chips he and his employees got are about the size of a very large grain of rice. They're intended to make it a little easier to do things like get into the office, log on to computers, and buy food and drinks in the company cafeteria. Like many RFID chips, they are passive'--they don't have batteries, and instead get their power from an RFID reader when it requests data from the chip (McMullan's chip includes identifying information to grant him access to the building, as well as some basic medical information, for instance).
Three Square Market CEO Todd Westby enters the company's office by holding his microchipped hand near an RFID reader.A year into their experiment, McMullan and a few employees say they are still using the chips regularly at work for all the activities they started out with last summer. Since then, an additional 30 employees have gotten the chips, which means that roughly 80 of the company's now 250 employees, or nearly a third, are walking, talking cyborgs.
''You get used to it; it's easy,'' McMullan says. As far as he knows, just two Three Square Market employees have had their chips removed'--and that was when they left the company.
Sam Bengtson, a software engineer, says he uses his chip 10 to 15 times a day. At this point, swiping his hand over an RFID reader plugged into his computer is no different from typing in his password on a keyboard, he says.
Steve Kassekert, vice president of finance, is so used to using his hand to pay for soda at work that he was annoyed when the RFID reader on the vending machine went down a couple of months ago.
''It's just become such a part of my routine,'' he says.
The company is also exploring some ways to use microchips outside the body. McMullan says in August and September it is running tests at two hospitals'--one in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and another in Hudson, Wisconsin'--that will verify when doctors and nurses wash their hands. (They'll wear bracelets incorporating a chip that they can scan on an RFID reader to turn on a sink'--something that has been tried before.)
Nick Anderson, an associate professor in public health sciences at the University of California, Davis, says the privacy and security of any information stored on the chips is an obvious concern. The information gathered by readers could give lots of details about employees' comings and goings, and someone could in theory ping your chip with a reader to find out what's on it.
''You can sniff it if you're at a bus stop,'' he says.
McMullan says only some of the information stored on the chip in his hand is encrypted, but he argues that similar personal information could be stolen from his wallet, too.
There's also the chance'--and it seems certain to happen eventually'--that the technology inside the employees' bodies will become outdated. Bengtson, at least, is concerned about this.
''There may need to be a'--dare I say'--upgrade program, or something like that,'' he says.
Microchip Implants for Employees? One Company Says Yes - The New York Times
Sun, 19 Aug 2018 23:10
Jowan Osterlund of Biohax with one of the company's implantable microchips. Three Square Market, a company in Wisconsin, is partnering with Biohax to offer the chips to employees. Credit James Brooks/Associated Press At first blush, it sounds like the talk of a conspiracy theorist: a company implanting microchips under employees' skin. But it's not a conspiracy, and employees are lining up for the opportunity.
On Aug. 1, employees at Three Square Market, a technology company in Wisconsin, can choose to have a chip the size of a grain of rice injected between their thumb and index finger. Once that is done, any task involving RFID technology '-- swiping into the office building, paying for food in the cafeteria '-- can be accomplished with a wave of the hand.
The program is not mandatory, but as of Monday, more than 50 out of 80 employees at Three Square's headquarters in River Falls, Wis., had volunteered.
''It was pretty much 100 percent yes right from the get-go for me,'' said Sam Bengtson, a software engineer. ''In the next five to 10 years, this is going to be something that isn't scoffed at so much, or is more normal. So I like to jump on the bandwagon with these kind of things early, just to say that I have it.''
Jon Krusell, another software engineer, and Melissa Timmins, the company's sales director, were more hesitant. Mr. Krusell, who said he was excited about the technology but leery of an implanted device, might get a ring with a chip instead.
''Because it's new, I don't know enough about it yet,'' Ms. Timmins said. ''I'm a little nervous about implanting something into my body.''
Still, ''I think it's pretty exciting to be part of something new like this,'' she said. ''I know down the road, it's going to be the next big thing, and we're on the cutting edge of it.''
The program '-- a partnership between Three Square Market and the Swedish company Biohax International '-- is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, but it has already been done at a Swedish company, Epicenter. It raises a variety of questions, both privacy- and health-related.
''Companies often claim that these chips are secure and encrypted,'' said Alessandro Acquisti, a professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College. But ''encrypted'' is ''a pretty vague term,'' he said, ''which could include anything from a truly secure product to something that is easily hackable.''
Another potential problem, Dr. Acquisti said, is that technology designed for one purpose may later be used for another. A microchip implanted today to allow for easy building access and payments could, in theory, be used later in more invasive ways: to track the length of employees' bathroom or lunch breaks, for instance, without their consent or even their knowledge.
''Once they are implanted, it's very hard to predict or stop a future widening of their usage,'' Dr. Acquisti said.
Todd Westby, the chief executive of Three Square, emphasized that the chip's capabilities were limited. ''All it is is an RFID chip reader,'' he said. ''It's not a GPS tracking device. It's a passive device and can only give data when data's requested.''
''Nobody can track you with it,'' Mr. Westby added. ''Your cellphone does 100 times more reporting of data than does an RFID chip.''
Health concerns are more difficult to assess. Implantable radio-frequency transponder systems, the technical name for the chips, were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004 for medical uses. But in rare cases, according to the F.D.A., the implantation site may become infected, or the chip may migrate elsewhere in the body.
Dewey Wahlin, general manager of Three Square, emphasized that the chips are F.D.A.-approved and removable. ''I'm going to have it implanted in me, and I don't see any concerns,'' he said.
While that sentiment is not universal at Three Square, the response among employees was mostly positive.
''Much to my surprise, when we had our initial meeting to ask if this was something we wanted to look at doing, it was an overwhelming majority of people that said yes,'' Mr. Westby said, noting that he had expected more reluctance. ''It exceeded my expectations. Friends, they want to be chipped. My whole family is being chipped '-- my two sons, my wife and myself.''
If the devices are going to be introduced anywhere, Mr. Wahlin noted, employees like Three Square's might be most receptive.
''We are a technology company, when all is said and done, and they're excited about it,'' he said. ''They see this as the future.''
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The Unlikely Activists Who Took On Silicon Valley '-- and Won - The New York Times
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 01:04
The way Alastair Mactaggart usually tells the story of his awakening '-- the way he told it even before he became the most improbable, and perhaps the most important, privacy activist in America '-- begins with wine and pizza in the hills above Oakland, Calif. It was a few years ago, on a night Mactaggart and his wife had invited some friends over for dinner. One was a software engineer at Google, whose search and video sites are visited by over a billion people a month. As evening settled in, Mactaggart asked his friend, half-seriously, if he should be worried about everything Google knew about him. ''I expected one of those answers you get from airline pilots about plane crashes,'' Mactaggart recalled recently. ''You know '-- 'Oh, there's nothing to worry about.''‰'' Instead, his friend told him there was plenty to worry about. If people really knew what we had on them, the Google engineer said, they would flip out.
Mactaggart had spent most of his adult life in the Bay Area, running a family real estate business with his uncle. The rise of the tech industry had filled his condo developments with ambitious engineers and entrepreneurs, making Mactaggart a wealthy man. But he never really thought about how companies like Google or Facebook got so big so fast. The vast pools of data they collected and monetized were abstractions, something he knew existed but, as with plane crashes, rarely dwelt on.
Now he began to think about tech companies a lot. He started reading about online tracking and data mining. He discovered that the United States, unlike some countries, has no single, comprehensive law regulating the collection and use of personal data. The rules that did exist were largely established by the very companies that most relied on your data, in privacy policies and end-user agreements most people never actually read. Mactaggart began to scrutinize these policies closely, the way he read loan contracts and pored over offering plans. He learned that there was no real limit on the information companies could collect or buy about him '-- and that just about everything they could collect or buy, they did. They knew things like his shoe size, of course, and where he lived, but also roughly how much money he made, and whether he was in the market for a new car. With the spread of smartphones and health apps, they could also track his movements or whether he had gotten a good night's sleep. Once facial-recognition technology was widely adopted, they would be able to track him even if he never turned on a smartphone.
Image Credit Photo illustration by Delcan & Co. Capitol Building: Travelpix Ltd/Getty All of this, he learned, was designed to help the real customers '-- advertisers '-- sell him things. Advertisers and their partners in Silicon Valley were collecting, selling or trading every quantum of Mactaggart's self that could be conveyed through the click of a mouse or the contents of his online shopping carts. They knew if he had driven past that Nike billboard before finally buying those Air Force 1s. A website might quote him a higher price for a hair dryer if he lived in a particular neighborhood, or less if he lived near a competitor's store. Advertisers could buy thousands of data points on virtually every adult in America. With Silicon Valley's help, they could make increasingly precise guesses about what you wanted, what you feared and what you might do next: Quit your job, for example, or have an affair, or get a divorce.
And no one knew more about what people did or were going to do than Facebook and Google, whose free social and search products provided each company with enormous repositories of intimate personal data. They knew what you ''liked'' and who your friends were. They knew not just what you typed into the search bar late on a Friday night but also what you started to type and then thought better of. Facebook and Google were following people around the rest of the internet too, using an elaborate and invisible network of browsing bugs '-- they had, within little more than a decade, created a private surveillance apparatus of extraordinary reach and sophistication. Mactaggart thought that something ought to be done. He began to wonder whether he should be the one to do it.
Mactaggart, who is 52 but boyish, did not think of himself as a radical. He often describes himself as a capitalist. He is the kind of man who wears chinos with a braided belt; it is easy to picture him on a sailboat. But his research on privacy had stirred something in him. ''It's like that Buddhist thing, where you walk past a mess and a mop and say, 'Someone ought to clean up that mess,''‰'' he says. ''And eventually you realize you have to pick up the mop.''
Over evening walks around his neighborhood, Mactaggart batted around ideas for a new state law with his friend Rick Arney, a finance executive. But Arney, who worked in the California Legislature after business school, suggested a different approach. Instead of going through Sacramento, Arney suggested, they could put the question directly to the people of California, gathering signatures for a statewide ballot initiative. Mactaggart liked the idea. He also had the money to do something with it. Early last year, he hired a small staff, set them up in a two-room office in Oakland and began cold-calling privacy experts to figure out just what his initiative should say.
''I thought it was a joke at first, to be contacted by someone named 'Alastair Mactaggart,''‰'' says Chris Jay Hoofnagle, who teaches law at the University of California, Berkeley. Mactaggart was wary of proposing a sweeping law like the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R., fearing that Californians would find it mystifying and reject it. He wanted a solution that consumers would embrace and Silicon Valley could live with. ''I don't want to kill businesses '-- I'm a businessman,'' Hoofnagle recalls Mactaggart's telling him. ''I just think the data use by these companies is out of control.''
Almost by accident, though, Mactaggart had thrust himself into the greatest resource grab of the 21st century. To Silicon Valley, personal information had become a kind of limitless natural deposit, formed in the digital ether by ordinary people as they browsed, used apps and messaged their friends. Like the oil barons before them, they had collected and refined that resource to build some of the most valuable companies in the world, including Facebook and Google, an emerging duopoly that today controls more than half of the worldwide market in online advertising. But the entire business model '-- what the philosopher and business theorist Shoshana Zuboff calls ''surveillance capitalism'' '-- rests on untrammeled access to your personal data. The tech industry didn't want to give up its powers of surveillance. It wanted to entrench them. And as Mactaggart would soon learn, Silicon Valley almost always got what it wanted.
For most of its relatively brief existence, Silicon Valley has been more lightly regulated than almost any other major industry. The technology that drove the business was complex, and few lawmakers wanted to be seen as standing in the way of a new kind of wealth creation, one that seemed to carry no messy downsides like pollution or global economic collapse. Most of the biggest tech companies could simply ignore Washington '-- until they grew too big for Washington to ignore. When regulators finally threatened to intervene, the companies did what they were best at: They scaled up, this time not with software and servers but with phalanxes of lobbyists and lawyers.
Microsoft had virtually no Washington presence before the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company in the 1990s. As recently as 2003, Google retained just two outside lobbyists in Washington; over the next decade or so, as it became the world's dominant search engine, the company became a Beltway heavyweight, hiring lobbyists, wooing regulators and funding the research behind hundreds of Google-friendly studies on competition, copyright law and other topics. By last year, Google's parent, Alphabet, was spending more money on lobbyists than any other corporation in America.
Facebook, a decade younger than Google, built its political apparatus twice as fast, as if observing a kind of Moore's Law of influence-peddling. When it went public in 2012, the company had 900 million users '-- less than half its current size '-- and earned a relatively modest profit of $53 million. Over the next several years, Facebook simultaneously became one of the world's biggest collectors of personal data and a powerful presence in Washington and beyond. It acquired Instagram, a rival social media platform, and the messaging service WhatsApp, bringing Facebook access to billions of photos and other user data, much of it from smartphones; formed partnerships with country's leading third-party data brokers, such as Acxiom, to ingest huge quantities of commercial data; and began tracking what its users did on other websites. Smart exploitation of all that data allowed Facebook to target advertising better than almost anyone, and by 2015, the company was earning $4 billion a year from mobile advertising. Starting in 2011, Facebook doubled the amount of money it spent on lobbying in Washington, then doubled it again. The company employed just 10 lobbyists in state capitals around the country in 2012, according to my analysis of data collected by the National Institute on Money in Politics. By the time Mactaggart and Arney began work on their privacy initiative, it had 67. The tech industry was particularly powerful in California, its home base, where it doled out millions in campaign contributions to state candidates and parties.
But until recently, companies like Facebook and Google also had something that Wall Street and Big Oil and the cable companies didn't. To many people in Washington, they were the good guys. Through the Obama years, the tech industry enjoyed extraordinary cachet in Washington, not only among Republicans but also among Democrats. Partnering with Silicon Valley allowed Democrats to position themselves as pro-business and forward-thinking. The tech industry was both an American economic success story and a political ally to Democrats on issues like immigration. Google enjoyed particularly close ties to the Obama administration: Dozens of Google alumni would serve in the White House or elsewhere in the administration, and by one estimate Google representatives visited the White House an average of about once a week. But the Obama world had relationships with other firms too. Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, served on a high-level Obama advisory council on jobs and held a fund-raiser for Obama's re-election campaign at her home in Atherton, Calif. The founders of Twitter, LinkedIn and the app developer Zynga together contributed more than $2 million to a pro-Obama super PAC.
And increasingly, Silicon Valley had come to transform politics itself. As Mactaggart considered how to take on the data industry, he faced an American political establishment that saw the key to its future in companies like Google and Facebook '-- not because of whom they supported but because of what they did. The surveillance capitalists didn't just sell more deodorant; they had built one of the most powerful tools ever invented for winning elections. Roughly the same suite of technologies helped elect Obama, a pragmatic liberal who promised racial progress and a benevolent globalism, and Trump, a strident nationalist who adeptly employs social media to stoke racial panic and has set out to demolish the American-led world order.
In Washington and in state capitals, this combination of wealth, prestige and ignorance had made the tech industry virtually unbeatable. They doled out campaign money to Republicans and Democrats alike. They had allies across the major think tanks and universities. Facebook alone belonged to more than four dozen trade associations and industry coalitions, political shields that could advance Facebook's interests in battles that were too toxic for direct engagement. It supported the Anti-Defamation League and the American Council of the Blind, the American Conservative Union and the N.A.A.C.P. It disbursed millions of dollars in grants to tech-advocacy groups '-- including those that sometimes criticized them. Like the web of personal data it mined for profit, Silicon Valley's political network was simultaneously immense, powerful and inscrutable.
Image Alastair Mactaggart Credit Jessica Chou for The New York Times Image Ashkan Soltani Credit Jessica Chou for The New York Times Image Rick Arney Credit Jessica Chou for The New York Times Last fall, Hoofnagle introduced Mactaggart to a former graduate student of his named Ashkan Soltani, a highly regarded privacy researcher and consultant. The two men quickly struck up an intense email correspondence. Soltani had devoted most of his adult life to understanding digital surveillance and privacy, and he closely observed how the tech industry exerted its will in Washington. Soltani told Mactaggart that his privacy initiative would need a lot of work if he wanted it to survive. Mactaggart decided to hire him.
Soltani knew exactly how hard Facebook and Google would fight to protect their business model, because he had watched them do it before. In February 2012, senior officials from the Obama administration unveiled what some of them hoped would become a signature initiative of President Obama's second term: a ''consumer-privacy bill of rights.'' The proposal called for limits on the data that companies were collecting and more control for consumers over how it was used, and the tech industry had at least some incentive to consider it: The previous year, Facebook and Google each entered into consent decrees with the Federal Trade Commission after regulators found that the companies had deceived users about their privacy policies. Soltani, then serving as an F.T.C. technologist, worked on both investigations, and his efforts helped highlight a more pervasive problem: Most consumers simply didn't have the time or experience to navigate the personal-data economy on their own. ''Silicon Valley's model puts the onus on the user to decide if the bargain is fair,'' Soltani told me recently. ''It's like selling you coffee and making it your job to decide if the coffee has lead in it.'' When it comes to privacy, he said, ''we have no baseline law that says you can't put lead in coffee.''
White House officials believed at first that many tech companies were open to the administration's ideas. But the following year, as a team of experts at Obama's Commerce Department worked on drafting a detailed privacy bill, The Guardian and The Washington Post began publishing an explosive series of articles about United States government surveillance programs. Relying on thousands of documents provided by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, the articles revealed how the N.S.A. was collecting rivers of personal data '-- emails, photos, instant-message conversations '-- from nine leading internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft. Soltani by then had left the F.T.C. and joined The Post as a consultant on the series, working on articles that showed how the N.S.A. had collected hundreds of thousands of user address books from email providers and even hacked into the private networks that companies like Google and Yahoo use to transport their data.
The Snowden scandal robbed Obama's consumer proposal of both momentum and moral authority. Stung by the perception that it had colluded with United States spy agencies, Silicon Valley demanded that the government regulate itself instead, allying with civil liberties groups to push for legislation reining in the N.S.A. Over the next several months, scores of tech executives flew to Washington for high-level meetings with Obama, including Sandberg, who also sat with Obama's new commerce secretary, Penny Pritzker, the Chicago billionaire who was the co-chairwoman of his re-election campaign.
In early 2014, Pritzker traveled to Silicon Valley for a highly publicized listening tour. She hailed the tech industry as a model for government '-- a partner, not an antagonist. Data, she proclaimed, was ''the fuel of the 21st century.'' Pritzker's tour included visits to eBay, Google and the Menlo Park campus of Facebook, where she met again with Sandberg. The women discussed an array of issues, including consumer privacy and how to ensure that American tech businesses remained competitive around the world. Two former Obama administration officials told me that those conversations appeared to have shaped Pritzker's early views on privacy. ''Our goal at the Department of Commerce as a service organization is to support you, whether you are a researcher, inventor, entrepreneur, mentor or investor,'' Pritzker told her audience at a start-up accelerator in Sunnyvale.
When the Obama administration finally returned to its consumer-privacy bill the following fall, Pritzker and her team voiced concerns about its sweep and scope, according to former Obama officials I spoke with. Pritzker wanted to make sure the bill could win industry support, and with it, Republican support. In January 2015, her office persuaded the White House to delay public release of the draft, which had been planned to coincide with an Obama speech at the F.T.C. Instead, her aides began previewing the bill in dozens of meetings with different business executives and lobbyists. According to the former Obama officials, the industry raised a host of objections. Facebook and Google, in particular, objected to how many kinds of data the rules covered, which included not only conventional personal information like Social Security numbers but also data linked to particular devices, which was critical to compiling the digital dossiers relied on by the advertising industry. (Facebook disputed that account.) Jim Hock, Pritzker's chief of staff at Commerce and now a spokesman for her private investment firm, PSP Partners, says Pritzker weighed all points of view. ''No one meeting was more important than another,'' he says.
But when consumer advocates were finally shown the new draft, they were furious. The bill now had a welter of exceptions and carve-outs. It drastically scaled back financial penalties and did not specifically protect location data. More broadly, it seemed to retreat from the idea of consumer privacy as an inherent right. Most of the bill's protections applied only if collecting or using a given piece of information posed a serious risk of economic or emotional harm. That March, Washington's leading consumer-privacy groups signed an open letter criticizing the Obama proposal, arguing that it did not do nearly enough. The Internet Association, a trade group representing Google, Facebook, Amazon and other companies, also weighed in, attacking the bill as overbroad and burdensome. ''The feeling was that it didn't do much, and no one really liked it,'' Soltani told me.
The White House did little to advance the draft. Obama aides were focused on a different legislative battle: That June, with backing from tech companies, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, a major reform of N.S.A. surveillance that also positioned Silicon Valley as a champion of civil liberties. Less attention was paid when, a few days later, a working group that the administration had convened to address concerns about facial recognition collapsed. Industry representatives had refused to endorse the principle that companies would need to secure people's consent before scanning their faces on a public street. Any notion that Washington would produce wide-ranging privacy reform was dead. Silicon Valley had won.
Soltani and Mactaggart first met in person last fall, at the offices of Mactaggart's lawyer in Oakland. Soltani had been on a kind of sabbatical, touring the country in a van and visiting national parks: A stint at the Obama White House was cut short when Soltani was denied his security clearance. (In privacy circles, the decision was widely viewed as retribution for his work on the Snowden series.) Soltani, who is 43, wondered whether Mactaggart would turn out to be a dilettante. Yet as the two men worked to revise the proposal, Soltani found himself increasingly impressed. ''I've worked with people who have an ax to grind, who have an agenda,'' he told me. ''Alastair's agenda was: First, just do some good. And then it was: Do something about privacy. And then it was: Do something about data privacy.''
The language of the resulting ballot initiative, which Mactaggart finalized last November, reflected lessons from the painful failure of Obama privacy's initiative. It wasn't called a ''bill of rights.'' And on its face, it was not a frontal attack on the giants of Silicon Valley. Mactaggart's proposal instead took aim at the so-called third-party market for personal data, in which companies trade and sell your information to one another, mostly without your knowing about it.
Under the proposed law, every California consumer could demand, from most large businesses, an outline of his or her digital dossier, showing what categories of personal information the company had collected. Mactaggart and Soltani included nearly every category of personal information that they could think of: not only whether the companies had collected your name and address but also if they had collected your browsing history, your fingerprints, your face scans or your location data. They would also be required to inform consumers if they were drawing ''inferences,'' the sophisticated guesses companies make about, say, your dating habits or your taste in convertibles. And if consumers didn't like the deal, they could ''opt out,'' demanding that companies no longer sell or share any data in a given category.
The ballot initiative had significant implications for the Silicon Valley giants, however. If adopted, Mactaggart and Arney hoped, it would cripple the tech industry's ''notice and choice'' consent model, where companies dictated all the terms of service up front, forcing consumers to either agree or find a different app. As more people opted out of data sharing, they believed, the rules would slowly dry up the supply of personal information that companies could buy or trade on the open market. ''Third-party tracking would essentially end,'' Mactaggart says. ''So when you log in to Spotify, you wouldn't be logging into, like, 100 partners. You wouldn't have 75 percent of the websites in the world looking over your shoulder.''
Still, Mactaggart and Soltani imagined their rules to be comparatively light-touch, a way to inhibit only the most invasive and creepy kinds of commercial surveillance while leaving Silicon Valley to thrive. Imposing them in California, the beating heart of the tech industry, offered another advantage. Through California's referendum process, they could end-run the entire tangle of interests that had stymied the Obama bill in Washington. And if they succeeded, the effect would ripple far beyond the state's borders: Any company in the world that wanted to do business with California's 40 million residents would need to follow California's rules. Mactaggart liked to compare it to California's strict auto-emissions standards, which forced the world's automakers to develop cars that guzzle less fossil fuel.
But Soltani also knew how aggressively the tech companies used their connections in state capitals. In 2015, a Facebook user named Carlo Licata filed suit in Illinois, arguing that the company's photo ''tagging'' feature, which automatically identified Facebook users in photos uploaded to the site, violated his privacy rights. Illinois is among the few states in the country with a strict law governing biometric data, the 2008 Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires companies to obtain explicit consent before collecting fingerprints, voiceprints or a ''scan of hand or face geometry.'' (''Illinois only has this law because it recognized the need to protect biometrics before Silicon Valley began trying to control state legislation,'' says Jay Edelson, a plaintiff's lawyer in Chicago who represents Licata.) Other Facebook users in Illinois filed similar suits, which were consolidated and transferred to a federal court in California. Facebook argued that the Illinois law did not specifically apply to its methods for identifying people in photographs. The judge disagreed, ruling in May 2016 that the lawsuit could proceed.
Just weeks later, the original sponsor of the Illinois privacy act, a genial Chicago-area lawmaker named Terry Link, abruptly proposed an amendment to his own law. The amendment clarified that digital photographs did not count as a source of biometric information and that the law only protected facial scans conducted ''in person.'' A Facebook official told me that the company had provided Link with suggestions for clarifying the law, not the language itself. But in a recent interview, Link recalled that the amendment language was given to him directly by a lawyer for Facebook. (Link did not specify who, and would not comment on why he had pursued the amendment in the first place.) Indeed, the amendment, introduced with only a few days left in the year's legislative session, seemed tailored to buttress Facebook's arguments in the California lawsuit, leaving Facebook and other companies free to create face scans from digital pictures without consent.
Link had attached his amendment to a bill that was already sailing through the Legislature, an otherwise bland measure dealing with state procedures for unclaimed property. After national privacy groups leapt into action, Link withdrew the amendment. This April, the judge certified Licata's case as a class action, applying to as many as eight million Facebook users in Illinois. If Facebook loses, the company could face a judgment as high as $40 billion.
Elsewhere, the tech industry has had more success fending off efforts to regulate facial recognition. Last year, at least five other states considered passing legislation regulating the commercial use of biometrics. Only one, Washington, actually passed a law '-- and it includes precisely the loophole that tech interests sought to carve out in Illinois, excluding ''a physical or digital photograph, video or audio recording or data generated therefrom.'' The exception covers facial scans and even voiceprints '-- the kind of technology that Amazon, based in Washington, uses to power Alexa, the virtual assistant that has a microphone in millions of American homes.
Almost immediately after Mactaggart and his friend Rick Arney submitted their final ballot language to the state in November, officials at Facebook and Google sent identical requests: Could they meet in person to discuss the proposal? It was the first time Mactaggart and Arney had heard from either company, and the alacrity of the response was a little intimidating. They decided to talk.
Arney met with three Google representatives, including Mufaddal Ezzy, a former aide in the State Legislature who runs Google's California lobbying operation. They had lunch in a private room at San Francisco's Wayfare Tavern, a trendy downtown restaurant with taxidermied heads of wild game on the walls. The executives were friendly, Arney recalls, but mostly they were confused, even a little disconcerted. ''Google's angle was, No. 1, 'Who are you?''‰'' he told me recently, with a chuckle. No one in tech had ever heard of Arney and Mactaggart. They didn't understand why a finance guy and a real estate developer cared so much about privacy. One asked whether either of the two men were planning to run for office. Eventually, the idea was floated that they all work together on an alternative to Mactaggart's initiative '-- a piece of legislation in Sacramento, where they could all have input. ''Their idea was that we could fix this in the State Legislature,'' Arney says.
Facebook seemed to have different worries, Mactaggart told me. Mactaggart's uncle was friends with a former San Francisco city official who had gone to work for Facebook. The friend reached out to arrange a meeting with Facebook's vice president for state and local policy: Will Castleberry, a gravel-voiced veteran of the tech and telecom industry. When Castleberry met Mactaggart and Arney at a different San Francisco restaurant in December, Mactaggart found him charming and sincere. ''A lot of people who we talked to told us these were evil people,'' Mactaggart said later. ''But they seemed nice.''
Castleberry praised Mactaggart's proposal but asked whether he was willing to rewrite it. Facebook's chief concern, he said, was a feature of the proposal called a ''private right of action.'' Unlike the Obama bill, which left most enforcement to the F.T.C., Mactaggart proposed letting consumers sue companies that violated the law. (Illinois had included such a right in its biometrics law, allowing Licata to sue Facebook.) Facebook feared that if interpretation of the new rules was left to juries, rather than regulators, it would take years just to determine what the company's compliance obligations were. ''We support more disclosure in principle,'' Castleberry explained to me. ''But the stakes are just much higher with the private right of action.''
Mactaggart wanted to make sure his bill had teeth. But as a businessman, he said, he was sympathetic to Facebook's concerns. He urged Facebook to send him some alternative language. ''We thought, Gosh, if Facebook came back with something reasonable, and we could get behind it, that would be a win-win,'' he recalls.
But as Mactaggart waited, the tech companies '-- and other industries dependent on free data '-- were preparing to crush him. In January, California's Chamber of Commerce filed paperwork to register a group called the Committee to Protect California Jobs. The committee soon collected six-figure contributions from Facebook, Google and three of the country's biggest internet service providers: Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. The money paid for polling, which showed that Californians indeed had ample concerns about privacy, and to retain Gale Kaufman, a respected Democratic referendum specialist with close ties to the state's labor unions. The group also hired Steven Maviglio, a prominent Democratic public-relations consultant whose clients included the Democratic speaker of the California State Assembly. Silicon Valley was girding for war.
Mactaggart and his team didn't find out what was happening until March, when the Committee to Protect California Jobs was required to disclose its donors and spending. He and Arney believed the opposition had made a blunder: They had shown their hand before Mactaggart's initiative had even qualified for the fall ballot. But the battle ahead looked to be ugly. '''‰'Full employment for trial lawyers' '-- and that's just the tip of the iceberg of this poorly-written-by-a-multi-millionaire's measure,'' Maviglio tweeted. Within a few weeks, the committee was circulating talking points to California sheriffs and prosecutors, claiming that Mactaggart's proposal would make it harder for cops to foil kidnappings or quickly track down criminals like the San Bernardino shooter. ''It was like, 'Welcome to the N.F.L.,''‰'' Mactaggart recalls. ''It was a reminder of how small we were. These were the biggest corporations in the world.''
Mactaggart also knew that the tech and cable money, while less than the $2 million he had so far put into his own campaign, was only just the start. His own consultants warned him that the Committee to Protect California Jobs would most likely raise $100 million or more by Election Day. Mactaggart was rich. But he wasn't that rich.
In March, as Mactaggart's canvassers were gathering signatures to qualify for the November ballot, Facebook made a surprise announcement '-- one that would change everything. In a statement posted on its website late one Friday evening, the company said it was suspending a political analytics firm called Cambridge Analytica from its platform after it had ''received reports'' that Cambridge had improperly obtained and held data about Facebook users. The source of those reports became clear the following day, when reporters at The Times and The Observer of London revealed that a contractor for Cambridge had harvested private information from more than 50 million Facebook users, exploiting the social-media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate and potentially violating United States election laws. Within weeks, Facebook acknowledged that as many as 87 million users might have been affected, marking one of the biggest known data leaks in the company's history.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal engulfed Facebook, sending the company's stock price plunging and setting in motion the worst crisis in the company's history. Cambridge executives had long bragged about deploying powerful ''psychographic'' voter profiles to manipulate voters. Now Facebook was forced to acknowledge that Cambridge had used voters' own Facebook data to do it. The damage was not only legal and political '-- Facebook faced lawsuits and new inquiries by regulators in Brussels, London and Washington '-- but also reputational. Silicon Valley's public image had survived the Snowden revelations. But tech companies, already implicated in the spread of ''fake news'' and Russian interference in the 2016 election, were no longer the good guys. When Arney took one of his sons canvassing on the train, it was suddenly easy to get people to sign their ballot petition. ''After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, all we had to say was 'data privacy,''‰'' he told me.
The scandal forced Facebook to take complaints about privacy more seriously '-- or, at least, to sound as if it did. ''I'm not sure we shouldn't be regulated,'' Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief executive, told CNN. Mactaggart pressed the advantage, posting an open letter accusing Zuckerberg of misleading Facebook users, then calling up media outlets to remind them that Zuckerberg's company was, at that moment, financing a campaign to stop new privacy regulations in California. When Zuckerberg appeared before Congress, in April, he again appeared contrite. ''We didn't take a broad-enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,'' Zuckerberg told lawmakers. The next day, Facebook announced that it would no longer contribute money to the Committee to Protect California Jobs.
Yet even as his canvassers racked up petition signatures from voters in the state, Mactaggart was being spurned by almost every prominent privacy group in the country. Like any other movement, the world of privacy experts has its radicals and moderates, feuds and schisms. In the wake of the Cambridge revelations, some advocates in Washington and California called for regulations, similar to Europe's G.D.P.R., that were much more sweeping than what Mactaggart proposed; some privacy advocates told me that they feared his initiative would crowd out their own, more sweeping proposals. (Whereas Mactaggart's initiative allowed consumers to ''opt out'' of data sales between companies, G.D.P.R., which went into effect across the continent in May, required companies to obtain consumers' permission for collecting the information in the first place.) Once voters approved Mactaggart's initiative, these critics pointed out, California lawmakers would need to muster an almost unobtainable supermajority to amend it.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the storied advocacy group based in San Francisco, did not endorse Mactaggart's proposal. Neither did the American Civil Liberties Union or Common Sense Kids Action, an influential group also headquartered in San Francisco, that has pressed for restrictions on the collection of children's data. Samantha Corbin, a lobbyist in Sacramento for both Common Sense Kids Action and the E.F.F., tweeted in late March that she couldn't support Mactaggart's proposal because it did not require that companies get people's permission to use their data. ''Informed consent to use personal data is critical to privacy & democracy,'' Corbin tweeted.
Corbin did not mention her firm's new client: the Committee to Protect California Jobs. Still at work for its remaining backers, the committee had hired Corbin's firm in February. According to Corbin, the industry coalition wanted her to provide an overview of existing privacy rules as well as areas of potential compromise with the other privacy activists, a move that could further isolate Mactaggart. Such an alliance would not have been totally unprecedented. Despite disagreements over consumer rules, tech companies have contributed millions of dollars to groups like the E.F.F. and the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Technology while working closely with some of them in pushing for post-Snowden surveillance reforms. ''Sometimes politics makes for strange bedfellows,'' Corbin told me by email, when I asked about the payment. ''I can tell you there was plenty to concern industry and privacy groups alike about the ballot initiative.''
Facebook, for its part, contacted the C.D.T., asking the center's top expert on data-privacy protection, Michelle De Mooy, to help develop an alternative to Mactaggart's proposal '-- language that could be submitted to lawmakers in Sacramento, either replacing or pre-empting Mactaggart's proposal. De Mooy told me that after some initial discussions, she turned them down, in part because Mactaggart did not seem interested in further compromise, but also because he seemed likely to succeed. ''They were looking for options,'' De Mooy says of Facebook. ''Ultimately, we said that that wasn't something we were going to do.'' But C.D.T. also remained neutral.
Facebook chose that moment to make another direct appeal to Mactaggart. The company had developed a legislative counterproposal, which in April Will Castleberry emailed to Mactaggart, copying De Mooy. Mactaggart read it on a plane, flying back from a memorial service in Canada. He wasn't impressed. It was vague about data collected from mobile phones, and it appeared to exclude Facebook's own network of ''like'' and ''share'' buttons around the Web, one of the company's chief means of tracking consumers when they weren't on Facebook. And while it limited the sale of data, it seemed to allow companies to make deals to swap data back and forth, potentially a major loophole.
But Mactaggart didn't want to waste his money on a ballot fight if he could get a deal in Sacramento '-- and now that his initiative looked sure to get on the ballot, lawmakers in Sacramento had taken a renewed interest in passing their own privacy bill. Some privacy groups, including Common Sense Kids Action, were already negotiating with them. ''I'm a real estate developer,'' Mactaggart told me later, describing his thinking. ''I've never gotten everything I want, ever. If the legislature passed my entire bill, I'm fine. And if it was almost as good '-- sure. Who needs to have a fight for the sake of having a fight?''
A few weeks later, I had lunch with Mactaggart and Arney at a sushi place near the Capitol. We were joined by Robin Swanson, Mactaggart's campaign consultant, herself a former senior aide in the Legislature. Everyone was in a good mood. They had recently submitted more than 629,000 signatures to qualify Mactaggart's initiative for the ballot, nearly twice the required minimum, and a Republican candidate for governor had endorsed his proposal during a public debate, surprising even Mactaggart. ''Zuckerberg testifying helped us,'' he said. ''He has the name, he has the face. He ripped off 87 million people.''
Nevertheless, Mactaggart was willing to compromise. He had told California lawmakers that he would drop his campaign if they could pass a reasonable privacy bill by June 28, the legal point of no return for formally withdrawing his initiative from the ballot. Mactaggart and his team were scheduled to meet Ed Chau, a mild-mannered lawmaker from outside Los Angeles who leads the Assembly's committee on privacy and consumer protection. Chau had been designated as the Assembly's chief negotiator on a potential deal between industry and privacy advocates. After lunch, we all walked over to the Capitol and filed into Chau's fifth-floor office, where staff members had promised Mactaggart an update on the negotiations.
Many privacy advocates in California regarded Chau as their champion. In 2017, he tried to pass a bill that would have required cable companies and other internet service providers to obtain customers' consent before selling their browsing history and other sensitive personal data. Known as AB 375, the bill was designed to replicate a popular Obama-era regulation that Trump and Republicans in Congress overturned during Trump's first months in office. To get it done quickly, Chau employed the very same tactic the tech industry had used in Illinois, gutting a different bill that had already passed the Assembly and inserting the broadband privacy provisions. ''California is going to restore what Washington stripped away,'' he pledged at a news conference.
But Chau's bill had quickly run into a series of roadblocks. The Senate leader at the time was Kevin de Le"n, a prominent and ambitious Democrat from Los Angeles. Because Chau had replaced his original bill with a totally new one, the rules committee that de Le"n leads initially required the legislation to be ''triple-referred,'' a rare legislative maneuver under which three different committees are entitled to inspect and approve the bill. (Ultimately, it was required to clear only two committees.) When the bill survived referral, Democratic leaders took over the legislation and began revising it, largely freezing Chau and the privacy groups out of the process. In the waning days of last year's legislative session, a huge coalition of industry groups, data brokers and tech companies signed a joint letter opposing the privacy legislation.
Some privacy advocates believed de Le"n was deliberately setting up Chau's bill to fail. While de Le"n is a progressive Democrat '-- he is now seeking to oust his fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein from her United States Senate seat '-- he has also had a long relationship with AT&T, among the most feared and influential companies in Sacramento. As Senate leader, de Le"n was responsible for the health and size of the Democratic majority in the chamber, and the telecom and tech industries were a critical source of campaign cash. (AT&T also employed at least one of de Le"n's former top advisers among its swarm of lobbyists.) Most of the chamber's Democrats declined to go on the record supporting or opposing AB 375, fearful of enraging either the state's most powerful companies or privacy-minded anti-Trump voters. It never reached the floor, sparing them a painful vote. The reason for its demise remains murky. (Dan Reeves, a de Le"n aide, told me: ''We said, if the author wants a vote, we'll put it up for a vote. We never heard back from them.'' Chau says he did ask for a vote. ''The response from leadership then was, I didn't have the support,'' he says.) Now Chau had a second chance. Democratic leaders had resurrected his legislation, making a modified AB 375 the vehicle for a potential compromise with Mactaggart.
But when we arrived in his office, Chau seemed ill at ease. He had not yet heard from Facebook or Google, he told us, and did not really know what their position was. He spoke in bland generalities. ''We're in the process of reaching out to all the stakeholders to see whether we can build consensus,'' Chau said. Mactaggart asked if the tech companies were being reasonable. Chau repeated himself, a nervous smile stuck on his face. ''We're reaching out to all potential stakeholders,'' he said. After 15 minutes, Chau's assistant interrupted to say that he had another meeting. We filed out. No one else appeared to be in Chau's waiting room.
Outside, it was a beautiful California day, so we strolled along a footpath on the Capitol grounds. Mactaggart was struck by Chau's evasiveness '-- and worried about the tech companies' seeming silence. ''If you are Facebook and Google, and you are serious about legislation and reform,'' Mactaggart said, ''you would think that it might make sense to go talk to the head of the committee that's in charge of crafting the legislative response to this initiative.'' It was possible that the companies had abandoned compromise. It was also possible that everybody was playing a more complex game. State lawmakers didn't want to cede policymaking authority to Mactaggart, and tech companies disliked his initiative so much that they might be willing to come to a reasonable compromise with the Legislature instead. If Democratic leaders were careful, they could devise a win-win: A bill that Mactaggart and the industry would accept, that privacy activists would hail and that lawmakers could take credit for. But Mactaggart found the delays and secrecy maddening. His deadline was fast approaching. ''Daylight's burning,'' he said.
We got in his SUV and headed back to Oakland. I asked him whether he thought Chau could deliver a bill that would satisfy him and still pass the Legislature. But Mactaggart took my question both more broadly and more personally: What would happen if he failed? ''These companies know so much about you,'' Mactaggart said as he drove. ''And as time goes on, it is only going to get worse and worse.'' Approaching Oakland, we drove past the Benicia refinery, a small mountain of pipes and distillation towers looming over an inlet of San Francisco Bay. Mactaggart suggested that the refinery, originally constructed for Exxon in the 1960s, could never be built there today, given California's strict environmental-impact laws. Reform movements of earlier eras had managed to rein in Big Oil, Mactaggart noted. It was time for Big Tech to face a similar reckoning.
For much of May, Chau and his counterpart in the California Senate, a lawmaker named Robert Hertzberg, quietly tried to negotiate a compromise. Industry lobbyists flatly threatened to kill any bill with a private right of action. They also objected to forcing companies to disclose the names and contact information of every third party they shared data with, claiming it would be an impossible burden. (''The private right of action was something that many stakeholders did not like,'' Chau told me later. ''That is a true statement.'') In June, the two lawmakers sent their first draft to Mactaggart. He was not pleased. ''They sent me a draft with no enforcement,'' Mactaggart said. ''There was zero creativity about how to solve the problem.'' He told them no.
It began to dawn on at least some people that Mactaggart's vote might be the most important one. Without it, Mactaggart's initiative would move forward. There would be no win-win. Hertzberg, in particular, really wanted a deal. Where Chau is modest, Hertzberg, who represents the San Fernando Valley, is voluble and insistent, with a slicked-back mane of hair and a steady borscht-belt patter. ''I called Alastair '-- we had some friends in common,'' Hertzberg told me. Hertzberg proposed that Mactaggart take the pen. Mark it up however you want, he told Mactaggart, and I'll bring your proposal back to the industry. On a Wednesday in mid-June, Mactaggart went to his lawyer's office and got on the phone with a small group of negotiators, among them Hertzberg, Chau and an adviser to Common Sense Kids Action. Twelve hours later, they had an agreement, which Mactaggart and Common Sense Kids Action agreed to support. Hertzberg and Chau sent it off to the Legislature's lawyers to be formally drafted into a bill.
Mactaggart had agreed to whittle down his biggest stick: The private right of action would permit consumer lawsuits only in the case of a traditional data breach, as when your credit-card information is stolen. And instead of naming every third party they shared your data with, companies would have to disclose only the kinds of data they were sharing, an obligation the companies already had to European consumers under G.D.P.R. Many privacy activists hated the deal, and some of the same groups that had refused to support Mactaggart's initiative now savaged him for compromising on it. The A.C.L.U. and E.F.F., both of which rely heavily on civil litigation to win advocacy battles, were particularly upset by the narrowed private right of action.
But as Mactaggart saw it, the core of his initiative remained intact '-- and was in some ways strengthened. Now you could see exactly what information Silicon Valley and the data brokers had collected about you. You could still demand that they stop selling or swapping your data. And if they refused, the California attorney general could investigate and impose fines. Even in this reduced form, Mactaggart and Soltani believed, this would be the most stringent consumer-privacy law in the country '-- the most significant step in years toward regulating the surveillance capitalists, and a proof of concept for activists and industry alike. If it passed, the tech industry could no longer claim that no one cared about privacy, or that data rules would kill jobs, or were too technically challenging. California's attorney general could police the entire industry, while other states worked on their own versions of the rules. ''Under this law, the attorney general of California will become the chief privacy officer of the United States of America,'' Mactaggart argued. Eventually, it might drive the tech industry back to the negotiating table in Washington, in hopes of getting a single national standard.
The next morning, Hertzberg summoned tech lobbyists to a meeting. They had a simple choice, he explained. They could agree to the deal, or take their chances with Mactaggart in the fall. Hertzberg told the lobbyists they could probably scare his colleagues into killing this new bill, too. But Mactaggart's initiative was polling extraordinarily well. To beat him in November, the tech industry and its allies '-- the cable companies, the data brokers and the financial companies and retailers that used their data for advertising '-- would have to mount a huge negative campaign, at considerable cost to their own image. ''And if they do, we'll be right back here next year,'' Hertzberg told me later that day.
Legislative staff members had finished rewriting AB 375, and a deal seemed imminent. That Friday, as he drank his morning coffee, Mactaggart decided to read the new bill '-- the fine print '-- one more time. He noticed a seemingly minor alteration in one section, the kind of thing most people would skip over. Mactaggart realized it would completely gut what remained of the private right of action. Furious, he called Hertzberg and Chau and told them the deal was off. Neither lawmaker could explain who made the change, Mactaggart told me, but Hertzberg scrambled to fix it. ''In most negotiations, you are talking to all these different interest groups,'' Hertzberg told me recently. ''This is a situation where we had to go and reach out to everyone and bring that information to Mr. Mactaggart and ask him what he wanted to do.'' By Monday morning, the deal was back on again.
That Tuesday, Facebook signaled that it would not fight the bill. In a statement emailed to reporters, Will Castleberry said that ''while not perfect, we support AB 375 and look forward to working with policymakers on an approach that protects consumers and promotes responsible innovation.'' At hearings, industry representatives complained that they had been put in the impossible position of either accepting the compromise or fighting a ballot initiative they had no power to change. ''The internet industry will not obstruct or block AB 375 from moving forward,'' the Internet Association announced, ''because it prevents the even-worse ballot initiative from becoming law in California.'' Soltani wryly pointed out that Mactaggart had offered Silicon Valley a take-it-or-leave-it privacy policy '-- the same kind that Silicon Valley usually offered everyone else.
That Thursday, California lawmakers began voting on the bill. Mactaggart, who wore a blazer and khakis, watched from the Senate gallery with his wife. As the vote was called, Mactaggart kept his eyes on the electronic billboard where votes were recorded: One by one, almost every light flipped to green. They walked over to the Assembly, where much the same scene unfolded. In the end, not a single lawmaker in either chamber voted against the compromise.
Political power is a malleable thing, Mactaggart had learned, an elaborate calculation of artifice and argument, votes and money. People and institutions '-- in politics, in Silicon Valley '-- can seem all-powerful right up to the moment they are not. And sometimes, Mactaggart discovered, a thing that can't possibly happen suddenly becomes a thing that cannot be stopped.
I spoke to Mactaggart shortly after the vote. ''It felt like a moment '-- people didn't want to be on the wrong side of this issue,'' he observed. A part of Mactaggart was already thinking ahead. The legislation would not take effect until 2020, and both the Legislature and the tech industry would have a chance to amend the new law beforehand. In the weeks after the vote, as Silicon Valley's accumulated troubles sent shares in Facebook and other tech companies plummeting anew, their lobbyists were back on the march. The Trump administration was convening meetings to discuss a new national privacy standard, one that would perhaps override California's newly minted statute. There would be plenty of chances for mischief. But as he basked in the victory, Mactaggart was giddy, even emotional. ''Everyone who could have blocked it didn't,'' he said. ''When the system wants to work, it can.''
Nicholas Confessore is a political investigative reporter for The Times and a writer at large for the magazine. He last wrote about how to get rich in Trump's Washington.
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Facebook is rating the trustworthiness of its users on a scale from zero to 1 - The Washington Post
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 01:03
(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News), Silicon Valley reporter
August 21 at 10:00 AMSAN FRANCISCO '-- Facebook has begun to assign its users a reputation score, predicting their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to 1.
The previously unreported ratings system, which Facebook has developed over the past year, shows that the fight against the gaming of tech systems has evolved to include measuring the credibility of users to help identify malicious actors.
Facebook developed its reputation assessments as part of its effort against fake news, Tessa Lyons, the product manager who is in charge of fighting misinformation, said in an interview. The company, like others in tech, has long relied on its users to report problematic content '-- but as Facebook has given people more options, some users began falsely reporting items as untrue, a new twist on information warfare for which it had to account.
It's ''not uncommon for people to tell us something is false simply because they disagree with the premise of a story or they're intentionally trying to target a particular publisher,'' Lyons said.
A user's trustworthiness score isn't meant to be an absolute indicator of a person's credibility, Lyons said, nor is there is a single unified reputation score that users are assigned. Rather, the score is one measurement among thousands of new behavioral clues that Facebook now takes into account as it seeks to understand risk. Facebook is also monitoring which users have a propensity to flag content published by others as problematic and which publishers are considered trustworthy by users.
[Facebook's fight against fake news has gone global. In Mexico, just a handful of vetters are on the front lines.]
It is unclear what other criteria Facebook measures to determine a user's score, whether all users have a score and in what ways the scores are used.
The reputation assessments come as Silicon Valley, faced with Russian interference, fake news and ideological actors who abuse the company's policies, is recalibrating its approach to risk '-- and is finding untested, algorithmically driven ways to understand who poses a threat. Twitter, for example, now factors in the behavior of other accounts in a person's network as a risk factor in judging whether a person's tweets should be spread.
But how these new credibility systems work is highly opaque, and the companies are wary of discussing them, in part because doing so might invite further gaming '-- a predicament that the firms increasingly find themselves in as they weigh calls for more transparency around their decision-making.
''Not knowing how [Facebook is] judging us is what makes us uncomfortable,'' said Claire Wardle, director of First Draft, a research lab within the Harvard Kennedy School that focuses on the impact of misinformation and that is a fact-checking partner of Facebook. ''But the irony is that they can't tell us how they are judging us '-- because if they do, the algorithms that they built will be gamed.''
The system Facebook built for users to flag potentially unacceptable content has in many ways become a battleground. The activist Twitter account Sleeping Giants called on followers to take technology companies to task over the conservative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars site, leading to a flood of reports about hate speech that resulted in him and Infowars being banned from Facebook and other tech companies' services. At the time, executives at the company questioned whether the mass reporting of Jones's content was part of an effort to trick Facebook's systems. False reporting has also become a tactic in far-right online harassment campaigns, experts say.
Tech companies have a long history of using algorithms to make all kinds of predictions about people, including how likely they are to buy products and whether they are using a false identity. But as misinformation proliferates, companies are making increasingly sophisticated editorial choices about who is trustworthy.
[On WhatsApp, fake news is fast '-- and can be fatal]
In 2015, Facebook gave users the ability to report posts they consider to be false. A tab on the upper right-hand corner of every Facebook post lets people report problematic content for a variety of reasons, including pornography, violence, unauthorized sales, hate speech and false news.
Lyons said she soon realized that many people were reporting posts as false simply because they did not agree with the content. Because Facebook forwards posts that are marked as false to third-party fact-checkers, she said it was important to build systems to assess whether the posts were likely to be false to make efficient use of fact-checkers' time. That led her team to develop ways to assess whether the people who were flagging posts as false were themselves trustworthy.
''One of the signals we use is how people interact with articles,'' Lyons said in a follow-up email. ''For example, if someone previously gave us feedback that an article was false and the article was confirmed false by a fact-checker, then we might weight that person's future false-news feedback more than someone who indiscriminately provides false-news feedback on lots of articles, including ones that end up being rated as true.''
The score is one signal among many that the company feeds into more algorithms to help it decide which stories should be reviewed.
''I like to make the joke that, if people only reported things that were false, this job would be so easy!'' Lyons said in the interview. ''People often report things that they just disagree with.''
She declined to say what other signals the company used to determine trustworthiness, citing concerns about tipping off bad actors.
Facebook is rating users based on their 'trustworthiness'
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 01:01
The problem: much of how this works is a mystery. Facebook wouldn't say exactly how it calculates scores, who gets these scores and how other factors contributed to a person's trustworthiness. Lyons declined to go in-depth on these factors, arguing that they might tip off "bad actors" who could use this knowledge to game the system. There's certainly a degree of truth to that, but it could still leave users wondering whether or not Facebook's reputation scoring is influencing both their own posts and what they see from others.
The approach also appears to partly contradict Mark Zuckerberg's own remarks from recent weeks. In his Recode interview, he claimed it was hard to "impugn intent and to understand the intent" of people pushing false narratives. That's not entirely true -- Facebook can clearly assign reputation values to people who knowingly submit false reports, among other criteria. It's just not gauging the intentions behind the posts themselves.
All the same, there are reasons for Facebook to use reputation rankings. Far right groups have regularly used false reporting for harassment, and investigations into reporting can draw attention to content that runs afoul of Facebook's policies. The firm's executives were skeptical when they saw a surge of activists reporting Alex Jones and InfoWars for promoting hate speech and false conspiracies, but that still drew attention that ultimately led to Facebook banning Jones and InfoWars for policy violations. As nebulous as the rating system is, it might curb abuse and bolster legitimate complaints.
Paul Manafort Learns That Encrypting Messages Doesn't Matter If the Feds Have a Warrant to Search Your iCloud Account
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:39
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's then-campaign manager, is interviewed by John Dickerson on the floor of the Republican National Convention on July 17, 2016Photo: GettyFederal prosecutors have accused Paul Manafort of witness tampering, alleging that he used WhatsApp and Telegram in an attempt to coordinate his testimony with old business associates. Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign manager, may have thought that he was being sneaky by using encrypted chat apps, but Manafort just learned the hard way that strong encryption doesn't really matter if you're backing up your messages to the cloud'--especially when the federal government gets a warrant to access your iCloud account.
The new court filing, made public just last night, outlines the communications that Manafort had with multiple unnamed sources. And while some of the sources willingly handed over WhatsApp and Telegram messages to special prosecutor Robert Mueller, it's clear that the feds also have a court order to search through Manafort's iCloud account.
A screenshot from the court filing is below, with highlighting by Gizmodo:
Court filing from June 4, 2018 showing how the feds obtained Paul Manafort's communicationsScreenshot: USA vs MANAFORTManafort is accused of money laundering, tax evasion, and violating federal laws that require lobbyists to declare who they're working for, known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Manafort allegedly lobbied for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine, and also lobbied in the United States. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges, though his longtime business partner Rick Gates has cut a deal and is cooperating with investigators.
WhatsApp allows both manual and automatic scheduled backups to iCloud, though it's not clear what settings Manafort may have had on his device. As WhatsApp notes on its website, ''Media and messages you back up aren't protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption while in iCloud.''
Manafort's messages include code names for people and they allegedly show an attempt to get everyone on the same page about their testimony. One of the people that Manafort communicated with alleges that Manfort was trying to ''suborn perjury'' by saying that the Hapsburg group only did lobbying work in Europe and not the United States.
''We should talk. I have made clear that they worked in Europe,'' one of Manafort's messages reads.
So how does the government gain access to someone's iCloud account? It's pretty straightforward. If the feds present Apple with a lawful court order, Apple must give prosecutors like Mueller access to an iCloud account under 18 U.S. Code § 2703. Apple even has a special email address for the process, subpoenas@apple.com. Prosecutors can also request that anything in iCloud be retained for as long as 180 days under federal law.
What can the average person do to protect themselves from the prying eyes of the feds? Number one is don't do crimes. Manafort appears to have skipped that step. Number two is, once you're being investigated for doing crimes, don't think that an encrypted messaging app will keep your messages hidden from the cops, especially if you're backing everything up to iCloud. And number three, even if you keep messages out of iCloud, remember that the person you're sending those messages to could give them to police.
President Trump keeps calling Robert Mueller's investigation a ''witch hunt'' in an attempt to undermine the entire process as prosecutors gets closer and closer to the president himself. And Trump is clearly sending a signal to people like Manafort that he's ready to give out pardons. Trump even declared that he has the right to pardon himself yesterday.
Did Manafort break numerous federal laws? That's up for the government to prove. But could you ever believe that a guy like this would ever lie about doing crimes? It's unimaginable.
[New York Times and Court Filings]
#MeToo
Asia Argento Arranged Deal With Sexual Assault Accuser '' Report | Deadline
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 03:28
Harvey Weinstein accuser and outspoken voice of the #MeToo movement Asia Argento has handled her own sexual assault case on the down-low, making an arrangement to pay Jimmy Bennett, who accused her of sexually assaulting him in 2013.
According to the New York Times, the Italian actress has arranged a deal to pay actor/musician Bennett $380,000. The Times said that the alleged assault happened months past his 17th birthday in a California hotel room. Argento was 37 at the time. In court documents, a selfie with the two lying in bed was included. In their agreement, Bennett gave the photo and its copyright to Argento.
Argento's lawyer, Carrie Goldberg has not made an official comment and Bennett has not released a statement. However, Bennett's lawyer, Gordon K. Sattro told the Times: ''In the coming days, Jimmy will continue doing what he has been doing over the past months and years, focusing on his music.''
A letter to Argento from Goldberg said that the money was to help Bennett. ''We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again,'' Goldberg wrote. ''You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among shitty individuals who've preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.''
In a notice of an intent to sue sent to Richard Hofstetter in November, Argento's lawyer at the time, the alleged assault was apparently so traumatic to Bennett that it affected his work and threatened his mental health. The notice asked for $3.5 million in damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery.
In October, Ronan Farrow wrote a New Yorker article where Argento accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her 20 years ago. Farrow writes he was told by 13 women that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them, with three claiming rape and four saying they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault.
SJWBLMLGBBTQQIAAPK
Animal crackers break out of their cages
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:54
Charlie Neibergall | AP
Mondelez International says it has redesigned the packaging of its Barnum's Animals crackers after relenting to pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of animal crackers are roaming free.
Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, has redesigned the packaging of its Barnum's Animals crackers after relenting to pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PETA, which has been protesting the use of animals in circuses for more than 30 years, wrote a letter to Mondelez in the spring of 2016 calling for a redesign.
"Given the egregious cruelty inherent in circuses that use animals and the public's swelling opposition to the exploitation of animals used for entertainment, we urge Nabisco to update its packaging in order to show animals who are free to roam in their natural habitats," PETA said in its letter.
Mondelez agreed and started working on a redesign. In the meantime, the crackers' namesake circus '-- Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey '-- folded for good. The 146-year-old circus, which had removed elephants from its shows in 2016 because of pressure from PETA and others, closed down in May 2017 due to slow ticket sales.
The redesign of the boxes, now on U.S. store shelves, retains the familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent "Barnum's Animals" lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages '-- implying that they're traveling in boxcars for the circus '-- the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland. The outline of acacia trees can be seen in the distance.
"When PETA reached out about Barnum's, we saw this as another great opportunity to continue to keep this brand modern and contemporary," said Jason Levine, Mondelez's chief marketing officer for North America, in a statement.
Mondelez is based in Illinois, which passed a statewide ban on circuses with elephants that went into effect in January. More than 80 U.S. cities have fully or partially banned circuses with wild animals, according to Animal Defenders International.
PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman says she's celebrating the box redesign for the cultural change it represents.
"The new box for Barnum's Animals crackers perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates the caging and chaining of wild animals for circus shows," she said.
Nabisco has been making Barnum's Animals crackers since 1902. It has redesigned its boxes before, but only for limited-time special editions. In 1995, it offered an endangered species collection that raised money for the World Wildlife Fund. In 1997, it offered a zoo collection that raised money for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. And in 2010, it worked with designer Lilly Pulitzer on a pastel-colored box that raised money for tiger conservation.
The company won't say how many boxes it sells each year. Canadian boxes already had a different design and aren't affected.
Healthline Is Not Replacing the Term Vagina with Front Hole
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 04:26
Dear Readers,
Some people are under the impression that Healthline is now using the term ''front hole'' instead of vagina. This is simply not true.
As one of the world's leading health websites, we place a huge emphasis on standards of accuracy, integrity, and balance. Every article we publish undergoes a rigorous editorial process and extensive medical review.
In the LGBTQIA Safe Sex Guide, we use both front hole and vagina. ''Front hole'' is one of the numerous, accepted terms for genitalia we use specifically for certain members of the trans community who identify with it. In no instance in this guide are we saying we want to replace the word vagina.
''Front hole,'' as another term for vagina, is also used by the National Institutes of Health, Human Rights Campaign, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth journal, and Fenway Health in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, the National LGBT Health Education Center, and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.
In addition to scientific, clinical terminology, we also use unbiased, inclusive, and contemporary terms in order to best serve all our readers.
The LGBTQIA Safe Sex Guide was created for a specific audience. Nothing in the article indicates we're endorsing a change in verbiage. It's clear in its purpose to present unbiased, expert-backed content toward health seekers in the LGBTQIA community. Simply put, our purpose in creating this guide was to provide safe sex information for those who are so often left out of this conversation.
Healthline is proud to be an active participant in the ongoing discussion about sexual health and well-being.
Healthline Team
LGBTQIA Safe Sex Guide
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 04:20
Historically, when sex education was introduced to the general public, content was focused on puberty education for cisgender people, heterosexual sex, pregnancy prevention, and reduction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). During that time, there was a great deal of stigma and discrimination associated with being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA). Gender-inclusive terms such as ''nonbinary'' and ''trans'' hadn't yet entered mainstream language and culture.
This historical context and rampant homophobia and transphobia created a foundation where most sex education curricula didn't acknowledge the existence of LGBTQIA and nonbinary individuals. Sex education programs were, instead, developed based on the assumption that those receiving the information were solely heterosexual and cisgender.
That's why we worked with GLSEN and Advocates for Youth to ensure that this safe sex guide is aimed at understanding the nuanced, complex, and diverse gender identities, sexual orientation, attractions, and experiences that exist in our world, which vary across cultures and communities.
Update: We have updated this section to clarify how we use terms referring to genitalia. You can read more about these changes here.
Traditional safe sex guides are often structured in a way that presumes everyone's gender (male/female/nonbinary/trans) is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth (male/female/intersex or differences in sexual development).
Sex education resources often use videos, pictures, and diagrams as a way to convey important information, though these images and videos have historically failed to reflect or provide information about same-sex and queer relationships. In fact, the GLSEN 2015 National School Climate Survey shows that only about 5 percent of LGBTQ students saw LGBTQ representation in health class.
These guides also often unnecessarily gender body parts as being ''male parts'' and ''female parts'' and refer to ''sex with women'' or ''sex with men,'' excluding those who identify as nonbinary. Many individuals don't see body parts as having a gender '-- people have a gender.
And as a result, the notion that a penis is exclusively a male body part and a vulva is exclusively a female body part is inaccurate. By using the word ''parts'' to talk about genitals and using medical terms for anatomy without attaching a gender to it, we become much more able to effectively discuss safe sex in a way that's clear and inclusive.
For the purposes of this guide, we've chosen to include alternative words for readers to use for their genitals. For example, some trans men choose to use the words ''front hole'' or ''internal genital'' instead of ''vagina.'' Alternatively, some trans women may say ''strapless'' or ''girl dick'' for penis. This usage is meant for one-on-one communication with trusted persons, such as your doctor or partner, not for broad discussion.
In this guide, whenever we use the medical term ''vagina,'' we'll also include ''front hole'' as clinically recommended by researchers in the BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth journal.
The lack of representation and anti-LGBTQIA bias that LGBTQIA and nonbinary people often see in safe sex guides stigmatizes certain sexual behaviors and identities. It's also directly related to the health disparities and higher rates of HIV and STIs reported within these communities.
Discrimination in the sex ed world along with lack of access to healthcare tailored for LGBTQIA people and their needs plays a role in health disparities observed in LBGTQIA communities. For these reasons, it's imperative for safe sex guides to become more inclusive of LGBTQIA and nonbinary people and their experiences. This will help address barriers to accessing care and effective educational tools, while simultaneously normalizing and acknowledging the true diversity that exists with regard to gender and sexuality.
Gender identity is one component of gender and refers to the internal state of being a male, female, some combination of both, neither, or something else completely. Gender also includes gender expression and gender roles. Gender is different from sex, which is related to biological traits such as chromosomes, organs, and hormones.
While a medical professional attending a birth assigns sex by looking at an infant's genitals, gender is something each person comes to understand about themselves. It's important to remember that gender has to do with who someone is, and sexual orientation has to do with who someone is attracted to.
Here's a list of more common gender identities and a quick description to better understand them:
Cisgender is the word used to describe someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex that was assigned to them at birth.Trans is an umbrella term that often includes anyone who might identify as transgender (a gender identity describing someone who doesn't exclusively identify with the sex they were assigned at birth), genderqueer, nonbinary, transfeminine, transmasculine, agender, and many more. Sometimes people wonder if trans people are always gay, while other times people assume trans people can't be gay. Just like cisgender people, individuals who identify as trans can have any sexual orientation '-- straight, gay, bisexual, queer, lesbian, or asexual. Also, different people use gender identity labels differently, so it's always good to ask someone what that term means to them in order to get a better understanding.Genderqueer is a gender identity used by people who do things that are outside of the norm of their actual or perceived gender. Sometimes this label overlaps with the sexual orientation label.Nonbinary is a gender identity label that describes those who don't identify exclusively as male or female. This means that a nonbinary person can identify as both male and female, partially male, partially female, or neither male nor female. Some nonbinary people identify as trans, while other don't. If you're confused which one of these terms to use for someone, as always, just ask!Transfeminine is an umbrella term used to describe someone who was assigned male at birth and identifies with femininity. Someone who identifies as transfeminine may also identify as a trans woman or female.Transmasculine is a gender identity describing someone who was assigned female at birth but identifies with masculinity. Someone who identifies as transmasculine may also identify as a trans man, trans woman, or male.Agender is the word used to describe those who don't identify with any gender or can't relate to gender terms or labels at all. Sometimes people assume those who identify as agender also identify as asexual, but this isn't true. Agender people can have any sexual orientation. Sexual orientation describes someone's emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to another person or group of people. Sexual orientation doesn't tell us anything about the types of sex someone prefers or what body parts someone has. It simply gives us an idea of the range of people someone is attracted to.
Here are some common sexual orientations:
Heterosexual, also known as straight, is a sexual orientation to describe the physical, emotional, and sexual attraction to people who have a gender that's different from their own.Gay is a sexual orientation to describe a person who's emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to people of their same gender and sometimes used by a person who identifies as man and who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other men.Lesbian is a sexual orientation to describe a person who identifies as a woman, and who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other women.Bisexual is a sexual orientation to describe a person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to two or more genders; often used to mean attraction to people with one's own gender and other genders.Queer is a sexual orientation to describe a person whose feelings of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction don't fit into predetermined categories.Asexual is a sexual orientation to describe a person who doesn't experience sexual attraction or desire towards other people but may experience romantic attraction.Pansexual is a sexual orientation used to describe a person who's emotionally, romantically, or sexually attraction to people regardless of their gender or sex. Sexual consent is the act of agreeing to participate in any kind of touching or sexual activity. Sexual consent should take place in every sexual encounter and with all types of sexual activity and touching. Yes, even kissing!
Often, consent involves a lot more than just a simple yes or no. It's important to remember that the absence of a no doesn't mean yes. There are often multiple behaviors to a sexual interaction, and consenting to one stage doesn't necessarily mean someone is consenting to everything.
Checking in with your sexual partner before and during sexual behaviors can help create a safe environment where sex can be a mutually pleasurable and positive experience grounded in respect and understanding. If you're worried about ruining the mood or moment, take time before things get heavy to talk about consent and sex as well as barriers and protections. This strategy allows sexual partners to stay in the moment while also having clarity about what's OK and what isn't.
Though consent is a serious thing, it doesn't have to be a buzzkill. They are lots of ways to provide consent and finding the ones that work for you and your partner(s) can help create the trust and open communication that's necessary to explore and have fun with sex.
It's important to remember that the absence of a no doesn't mean yes.Consent can come in different forms, and it's important to become educated on the various types in order to decide which form is the best fit for a particular person, group of people, or situation.
Verbal or expressed consent is the act of using words to confirm agreement that you want something. The main thing to remember about this form of consent is that everything about the agreement is verbalized using words and there are no elements that are assumed or implied. If it wasn't stated in the conversation or question, it wasn't consented to.Implied consent is conscious and intentional agreement that someone wants something through their actions or body language. This type of consent can be tricky because the way body language and actions are interpreted varies from person to person. For example, one person may view flirtatious body language and touching as implied consent for more touching of other parts of the body, whereas someone else may view it as simply consenting to the flirtation and touching that's currently happening. For this reason, it's always best to get verbal consent too. Talk with your partner about how they feel about implied consent and the ways they use their body to communicate consent in a given sexual interaction.Enthusiastic consent involves both the verbal act of agreement and communicating the level of desire associated with that agreement. In simplest terms, it's telling someone what you want and how badly you want it. The idea behind enthusiastic consent is that taking ownership and stating personal needs and desires is an important part of the consent process. Not only does this guide someone in knowing their partner's wants and desires, both generally and in a given moment, but it also establishes a system of open communication for conveying preferences, turn-ons, and fantasies before and during sex.Contractual consent involves creating a written contract that outlines the sexual preferences of the partners involved and clearly states the sexual acts that can and can't be performed, and in which situations. For some people, contractual consent means consent isn't needed in the moment. For others, verbal, implied, or enthusiastic consent still need to happen. It's important to remember that anyone can opt out of the contract or change the terms of the contract at any time. It's helpful to revisit contractual consents regularly to ensure each person is still on the same page.Practicing contractual consent allows partners to engage in sexual encounters knowing what's agreed upon, both in terms of consent and sexual activity. That's why contractual consent is nice for many partners who prefer not to talk about consent in the midst of sex. This can help people feel more prepared and comfortable, while also eliminating the need to interrupt a passionate moment.
Some ways to discuss consent with your partner''I was reading this article about different types of consent and realized we've never talked about it before.''''I want to make sure we're respecting each other during sex. Can we talk about consent?'' ''Hey, I'm wondering if we can check in about consent?''''There are usually a few conversations I like to have before having sex. Do you mind if we talk about consent?''''I know it can be awkward to talk about these things, but I'm hoping we can talk about consent. I know that'll make me feel more comfortable and lead to a more positive experience for me.'' An STI is an infection that's passed from one person to another through sexual contact and activity. Although there's often a lot of negative stigma '-- and sometimes shame '-- around contracting STIs, it's actually quite common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 20 million new STIs contracted every year in the United States, and 50 percent of these cases occur among people aged 15 to 24. Talking about STIs can be scary, but it's super important to get tested regularly and talk with your healthcare provider about STIs if you're sexually active.
Ways STIs can be transmittedSkin-to-skin contactvaginal/front hole sexanal sexoral sexcontact with bodily fluids, such as blood or semenneedlesTesting is also important, because many people with an STI may not know they have one. There are a number of STIs that don't come with significant or visible symptoms, which is why getting tested is the most effective way to stay STI-free.
There are great websites, such as Get Tested, that'll help you locate a local testing center. STD Test Express and SH:24 are great resources for those interested in at-home STI kits and testing.
Most STIs can be treated with medication and many are cured with antibiotics. But when risk factors are ignored and STI symptoms go untreated, serious health issues can arise.
Some of the most common STIsgonorrheachlamydiahuman papillomavirus (HPV)herpesHIVsyphilishepatitis CEach of those infections falls into a class of either bacterial STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis) or viral STIs (HPV, HIV, herpes, and hepatitis C).
Treatment for a bacterial STI is typically a course of antibiotics. Unlike bacterial STIs, most viral STIs can't be cured with antibiotics. The only one that can be entirely cured with treatment in most cases is hepatitis C.
When someone becomes a carrier of a viral STI other than hepatitis C, that person remains a carrier of the virus. Medications are used to help decrease the chances of transmission and protect against the serious health issues that could surface if the STI is untreated. But the virus remains inside the body.
Thanks to effective medications and safe sex precautions, most people with viral STIs are able to effectively manage symptoms and reduce their risk for transmitting the infection during sex.
Ways to prevent STIs frequent STI testingcondoms and gloves used correctly with each sex actdamsmedications such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)vaccinationsTalking with a healthcare provider about these options and their effectiveness may help someone decide which combination of methods makes the most sense for them.
Previously, there's been a significant amount of research and data pointing to increased rates of STIs within the LGBTQIA community. More recent studies, however, suggest that flaws in the language, questions, and topics included in past research result in questionable conclusions related to STI disparities and contribute to stigma surrounding the LGBTQIA community.
The language used in research should shift away from using gender and sexual identities to categorize certain sexual activities and experiences and instead focus on the sexual acts and behaviors that present the most risk for transmission and contraction of STIs.
We frequently hear about the importance of paying attention to our physical and mental health. For many people, it's important to add sexual health to that list. Sexual health is an important part of your overall health. Sexual health includes:
discovering sexual identity and attractionsfinding ways to communicate them to otherspreventing the transmission of STIsHaving access to information about how to stay safe during sex gives people the comfort and confidence to explore and fulfill their sexual desires with less anxiety and worry. Understanding different types of sex and ways to make it safer is the first step in taking charge of your sexual health.
Tips for safe oral and penetrative sexTalk with your partner about the last time they were tested for STIs.Don't participate in this type of sex if you notice cuts, sores, bumps, or high-risk bodily fluids '-- such as blood '-- on their genitals or in their mouth, as this can be signs of an infection and can increase the chances of transmitting an STI. Safe penetrative sex in a front hole, vagina, or anusPenetrative sex, also known as intercourse, is the act of inserting a body part or toy inside someone's front hole, vagina, or anus. It's important to be aware that the person being penetrated, also known as the receptive partner, or ''bottom,'' is typically at a higher risk for contracting STIs than the partner who's penetrating, also known as the inserting partner or ''top.''
The risk for transmitting HIV to a bottom during unprotected anal sex is 15 in 1,000 compared with 3 in 10,000 for transmitting HIV from a bottom to a top.
Ways to make penetrative sex saferUse a barrier such as a condom. Most condoms are made out of latex, but there are others made out of polyisoprene or polyurethane for those with a latex allergy.Use a new barrier or condom with each new sexual partner and sexual activity.Be sure to put the condom on correctly. Pinching the reservoir tip of a condom before rolling it over the penis will leave space to collect semen and reduce the chances the condom will break when the semen is released. The condom should be rolled down to the base of the penis so the barrier is covering the entire body part.Secure the base ring of the condom when removing the condom-covered penis from the other person's body. This helps prevent bodily fluids from sliding out of the condom and having contact with your partner.Never put more than one condom on a penis at one time. Using two condoms on the same penis at this same time increases friction and the likelihood that one or both condoms will break.Apply lube. Lube cuts down on the amount of friction on a condom, which helps prevent the chance that the condom will break.When using a condom for penetrative sex, it can be helpful to place lube on the front hole, vagina, or anus before inserting. This will decrease pain and friction while increasing pleasure. Safe oral sex on a clitoris, front hole, vagina, penis, scrotum, or anusOral sex is when someone uses their mouth to stimulate a partner's genitals or anus.
Ways to make oral sex safer Place a latex barrier between the mouth and body part oral sex is being performed on.Apply lube to both sides of the barrier to enhance pleasure and decrease the chances of transmitting an infection. Safe sex with handsFingers and hands can be used during sex to stimulate parts of the body such as the penis, front hole, vagina, mouth, nipples, or anus.
Ways to make sex with hands safer Apply a generous amount of lube to help prevent cuts and pain.Wash your hands and trim your fingernails before using them during sex.important to note that sex with hands and fingers isn't a common way of transmitting STIs, but we always want to be as safe as possible.Use a hand or glove that's different from the one you used to touch yourself, when touching your partner(s). Safe sex with toysOne way to have sex with yourself and with partners is by using toys such as vibrators (can be used on the front hole and vagina), dildos (can be used on the front hole, vagina, and anus), plugs (can be used anally), and beads (can be used anally). These toys can help stimulate body parts both internally and externally.
Ways to make sex with toys saferUse a barrier such as a latex condom on toys being used for penetration in the front hole, vagina, anus, or mouth.If a toy's been exposed to bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids, saliva, or blood, try not to share it. This can reduce the risk of transmitting an STI.If you do decide to share a sex toy that's been used by or with a previous partner, be sure to clean and sanitize it thoroughly, following manufacturer's instructions. Toys are made out of many different materials and therefore require different methods for sanitization. Some should be cleaned using soap and water while others should be boiled in hot water for a period of time. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to sanitize each toy in the safest, most effective way. Knowing how to properly protect yourself is key to both safe sex and staying in good sexual health. There are a number of different types of sexual protection barriers, including:
outside condomsinside condomsdamsgloveslubeWater-based lubes are always best with latex condoms. This is because they reduce the chance that the lubricant will break down the barrier and reduce its effectiveness.
These methods of protection can and should be used for all kinds of sex, which means everything from touching genitals to penetrative sex. Using barriers during sex helps reduce the risk of getting or giving STIs to sex partners, providing peace of mind that can make sex more fun and pleasurable for everyone. Barriers should also be used with sex toys, if sharing between two or more persons.
In order to get the most out of sexual protection barriers, they need to be used correctly and for the appropriate sexual activity. Here's a step-by-step guide for using some of the most common barriers:
Outside condoms (commonly referred to as 'male condoms')An outside condom is a sexual protection barrier that can be used for penetrative and oral sex involving a penis. Outside condoms are designed to contain the bodily fluids (such as semen or ejaculate) that are released during sex. This prevents sexual partner(s) from being exposed to anyone's fluids but their own.
Outside condoms can be purchased at convenience stores, grocery stores, and drugstores. They can be purchased at any age and are often free at many health centers and STI testing clinics.
For those with a latex allergy, use a non-latex condom made with polyisoprene or polyurethane.
How to use an outside condomMake sure to use a new condom that's not expired.Open the condom gently. Be careful to only tear the wrapper, not the condom.Take a look at the condom before putting in on, keeping your eyes out for any tears or unusual bumps.Place the rim of the condom over the penis, holding the tip in order to leave a small space to capture the bodily fluids that will be released.Roll the condom over the outside of the penis, until the rim of the condom meets the base.Apply lube to the outside of the condom, even if the condom came with existing lubricant. This will help reduce the amount of friction on the condom while also increasing pleasure.At the end of sex, make sure to secure the rim of the condom with your hand as it's slowly pulled out from your partner's body. Carefully tie a knot in the condom so bodily fluids can't escape the barrier. Throw it in the trash. Inside condoms (commonly referred to as 'female condoms')An inside condom is a sexual protection barrier that can be used for penetrative sex involving a front hole/vagina or anus.
Inside condoms are designed to line the wall of the front hole/vagina or anus in order to prevent bodily fluids from coming into contact with the toy or body part penetrating it.
Inside condoms are often harder to find than outside condoms. Only one brand is available in the United States, but health clinics often have them. They're also available by prescription.
How to use an inside condomJust like with outside condoms, make sure to use a new condom that's not expired.Open the condom gently. Be careful to only tear the wrapper, not the condom.Take a look at the condom before putting in on. Keep your eyes out of for any tears or unusual bumps.Unlike an outside condom (which has one rim/ring), inside condoms have two rims/rings. One rim is closed, and the other is open. This creates a space between the two rims that protects the penetrating toy or body part from the bodily fluids secreted by the front hole/vagina or anus. Apply a small amount of lube to the outside of the closed end of the condom. This is the part of the condom that will be inserted inside.Different people have different preferences about the best way to insert an inside condom into the front hole/vagina or anus. A couple options include inserting it while sitting on the edge of a chair, standing, or lying down. Before inserting the condom inside, pinch the closed rim/ring with your fingers so the width is small enough to place inside the hole opening.Push the closed, pinched rim as far back as possible, allowing the condom to line as much of the internal hole as possible. After it's placed as far back as possible, remove your finger and allow the open rim of the condom to hang out of the hole opening. There should be around an inch of condom hanging. When used for sex, a partner will insert a body part or toy into the open rim of the inside condom.After sex, the penetrating partner should remove the toy or body part from the inside condom slowly.Gently pinch the open rim of the condom together as you pull the remaining part of the condom from inside the body.Throw the condom in the trash. Use a new one for another sexual act. Dams (also known as dental dams)A dam is a sexual protection barrier used during oral sex to help decrease the risk of contracting or transmitting an STI, such as gonorrhea, HPV, or herpes.
Dams can be used with lots of different body parts, including a front hole/vagina, clitoris, and anus. Even though oral sex involving a penis has a higher risk of STI transmission, it's important to know that oral sex involving other body parts still presents risks.
Dams can be harder to find in stores than outside condoms. You can create your own dam by cutting open an outside condom and using it as a barrier between body parts. Check out this step-by-step guide to get you started.
How to use a damOpen the dam packaging gently. Be careful to only tear the wrapper, not the dam.Unfold the dam all the way, ensuring it's large enough to cover the area of the body where oral sex will be performed.Apply a small amount of lube to the genitals or anus of the partner receiving oral sex. This increases pleasure and serves as a form of protection.Place the dam over the body part where oral sex will be performed, keeping it in place between the mouth and body part using one partner's hands. During oral sex, be sure to keep the side of the dam that's against a body part facing the body. Don't switch sides.When finished, throw the dam away. Don't reuse it on another body part or with another partner. GlovesGloves are a great way to prevent the risk of infection when having sex with hands and fingers. They protect genitals from the germs found on hands and also keep hands safe from the bodily fluids that the genitals and anus release during sexual activity. Gloves can also provide a smooth texture that often increases pleasure during sex with hands.
How to use glovesAfter washing and drying your hands, place the glove over the thumb, fingers, and palm.Apply lube to increase pleasure and avoid friction that could cause the glove to rip or tear.Use one glove for only one body part. If you switch body parts, put on a new glove.When finished, pinch the base of the glove below your palm and pull it toward your fingers, causing the glove to turn inside out. This helps the bodily fluids that were on the outside of the glove stay inside.Tie a knot at the bottom of the glove to keep bodily fluids from dripping out.Throw the glove in the trash. LubeLube by itself isn't the most effective sexual protection method, but it can still act as a protective factor during sex. This is because it prevents excessive friction from occurring, which can break down condoms and cause small tears in the genital area.
If using a latex barrier with lube, you'll want to make sure to use lube that's safe for latex. Non-water-based lubes can break down latex, causing the latex barrier to become less effective. Water-based lubes, however, are always a good choice. They can be used on latex, toys, and body parts. When the correct lube is used, it can both enhance pleasure and add an extra element of protection.
Using lube is easy! Just apply it to a barrier or body part as needed to prevent friction, cuts, and tearing. If used for oral sex, make sure it is an edible lube.
Protection for trans bodiesBody parts and genitals vary in shape, size, color, and texture among all humans. Trans people use the same methods cisgender people use to engage in safer sex: outside condoms, inside condoms, gloves, and dams. Some trans and nonbinary-identified people choose to use gender-affirming interventions, such as hormones and surgery, to change their body to align with who they are. There are other trans-identified people who don't feel the need to change their bodies to feel alignment and congruence around gender. There are also many who would like to but can't due to other factors, such as finances, medical reasons, and legal issues (depending on where in the world they live).
For those who are able to and choose to pursue gender-affirming interventions (and for their partners), it's important to have access to information about how those changes impact pleasure, sexual functioning, sexual health, and risk of STI transmission.
As mentioned before, there's no gender or sexual identity that automatically places someone at more of a risk for STI infections. It's the sexual behaviors someone engages in '-- not how they identify '-- that make them more or less at risk.
Each person is responsible for doing their part to understand their most appropriate forms of protection for their body. This only leads to safer and more fun sex for them and their partner(s).
SelfStaying informed about your STI status and overall sexual health is an important goal. In order to maintain good sexual health, it's important for people to know their own body and pay attention to it.
Finding a healthcare provider who's the right match can be another key factor in sexual health and wellness. Establishing care with a healthcare provider who's the right fit creates space for open communication between patient and provider and can make regular checkups for general overall health more appealing.
Likewise, if someone is sexually active, STI testing should be a regular occurrence. It's also important to know that there are at-home STI tests and other types of testing centers that allow people to get tested without seeing a doctor. In the United States, minors who are 12 years old or over can seek out sexual health and STI testing without a parent's permission. Many of the clinics serving youth and young adults offer a sliding scale, so people can pay what they can afford.
PartnersTalking about STIs with a partner(s) isn't always easy or comfortable, but it's an important thing to practice. Going to get tested with a partner is a great way to open up the conversation about STIs while also staying informed about your own status. Doing it together can foster trust, vulnerability, and confidence '-- three things that also lend themselves to great sex!
Knowing your status and your partners' STI status will also provide important guidance around the sexual protection barriers, medications, or combination of both that will keep everyone safest.
Ways to discuss STI testing''Before I forget and get lost in our conversation, I wanted to ask '-- when was the last time you got tested?''''I realized we've never gotten tested together and thought it could be a nice thing to do.''''Hey, I was thinking we'd stop by this testing center on our way out today. What do you think?''''I recently read something about these new at-home STI tests. Want to give them a try?''''I've been meaning to get tested soon! When's the last time you were tested? Maybe we can go together?'' Testing positiveIt can be hard to talk about testing positive for an STI. It's important, however, to remember that contracting an STI is much more common than people might think. The shame and embarrassment many feel around testing positive stem from the fact that there's not enough openness and conversation about how common it is.
When someone tests positive, it becomes their responsibility to share this status with past partners who may have been exposed and current partners who could be exposed. That said, the person sharing the news shouldn't be made to feel badly about their status. For many who have had an STI in the past, they took medication, no longer have it, and therefore can't transmit it.
For others, they might have an STI with chronic symptoms they need to manage in an ongoing way. Open, honest, nonjudgmental communication will lead to better sex. Plus, there are tons of ways to stay safe even if someone has an existing STI.
Ways to talk about existing STIs For current partners: ''Honesty and communication are important to me, so I wanted to let you know I recently got tested for STIs and it came back positive for ______. I'm getting treated and will update you if anything about my status changes.'' ''Do you think we can check in about STI status? I have something that's important to share. It's not necessarily a big deal, but I just want to make sure we're staying safe and responsible.'' For past partners: ''Do you have a minute to chat? I want to talk about my recent STI test, because the results may impact you.'' ''I wanted to do the responsible thing and reach out to let you know about my STI status. I recently found out I'm positive for _______, and wanted to let you know. Given our sexual history, there may be a chance you were exposed. I want to do everything I can to keep my past and current partners safe and healthy.''Each person deserves access to information and services that affirm and support their sexual and gender identity while also caring for their overall sexual health. The right educational tools for the community and training for medical providers and mental health professionals can ensure LGBTQIA communities are better equipped to understand how to protect themselves and how to practice safer sex.
Practicing safer sex and protecting yourself won't only increase the chances you and your sex partners stay STI-free. It's also a tangible way to practice self-care and self-love.
Mere Abrams, MSW, ASW, is a gender specialist, researcher, educator, and consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area, providing gender-affirming services to trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive children, teens, and young adults. As a clinical researcher at the UCSF Child and Adolescent Gender Center, Mere works on the first National Institutes of Health-sponsored research, studying long-term medical and mental health outcomes for trans youth starting puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones. Mere was a contributor and editor of ''The Transgender Teen: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Teens'' and speaks publicly on the topics of ethical considerations for working with trans youth and their families, nonbinary experiences, and gender diversity and inclusion.
LGBTQIA Safe Sex Guide
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 04:09
Historically, when sex education was introduced to the general public, content was focused on puberty education for cisgender people, heterosexual sex, pregnancy prevention, and reduction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). During that time, there was a great deal of stigma and discrimination associated with being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA). Gender-inclusive terms such as ''nonbinary'' and ''trans'' hadn't yet entered mainstream language and culture.
This historical context and rampant homophobia and transphobia created a foundation where most sex education curricula didn't acknowledge the existence of LGBTQIA and nonbinary individuals. Sex education programs were, instead, developed based on the assumption that those receiving the information were solely heterosexual and cisgender.
That's why we worked with GLSEN and Advocates for Youth to ensure that this safe sex guide is aimed at understanding the nuanced, complex, and diverse gender identities, sexual orientation, attractions, and experiences that exist in our world, which vary across cultures and communities.
Update: We have updated this section to clarify how we use terms referring to genitalia. You can read more about these changes here.
Traditional safe sex guides are often structured in a way that presumes everyone's gender (male/female/nonbinary/trans) is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth (male/female/intersex or differences in sexual development).
Sex education resources often use videos, pictures, and diagrams as a way to convey important information, though these images and videos have historically failed to reflect or provide information about same-sex and queer relationships. In fact, the GLSEN 2015 National School Climate Survey shows that only about 5 percent of LGBTQ students saw LGBTQ representation in health class.
These guides also often unnecessarily gender body parts as being ''male parts'' and ''female parts'' and refer to ''sex with women'' or ''sex with men,'' excluding those who identify as nonbinary. Many individuals don't see body parts as having a gender '-- people have a gender.
And as a result, the notion that a penis is exclusively a male body part and a vulva is exclusively a female body part is inaccurate. By using the word ''parts'' to talk about genitals and using medical terms for anatomy without attaching a gender to it, we become much more able to effectively discuss safe sex in a way that's clear and inclusive.
For the purposes of this guide, we've chosen to include alternative words for readers to use for their genitals. For example, some trans men choose to use the words ''front hole'' or ''internal genital'' instead of ''vagina.'' Alternatively, some trans women may say ''strapless'' or ''girl dick'' for penis. This usage is meant for one-on-one communication with trusted persons, such as your doctor or partner, not for broad discussion.
In this guide, whenever we use the medical term ''vagina,'' we'll also include ''front hole'' as clinically recommended by researchers in the BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth journal.
The lack of representation and anti-LGBTQIA bias that LGBTQIA and nonbinary people often see in safe sex guides stigmatizes certain sexual behaviors and identities. It's also directly related to the health disparities and higher rates of HIV and STIs reported within these communities.
Discrimination in the sex ed world along with lack of access to healthcare tailored for LGBTQIA people and their needs plays a role in health disparities observed in LBGTQIA communities. For these reasons, it's imperative for safe sex guides to become more inclusive of LGBTQIA and nonbinary people and their experiences. This will help address barriers to accessing care and effective educational tools, while simultaneously normalizing and acknowledging the true diversity that exists with regard to gender and sexuality.
Gender identity is one component of gender and refers to the internal state of being a male, female, some combination of both, neither, or something else completely. Gender also includes gender expression and gender roles. Gender is different from sex, which is related to biological traits such as chromosomes, organs, and hormones.
While a medical professional attending a birth assigns sex by looking at an infant's genitals, gender is something each person comes to understand about themselves. It's important to remember that gender has to do with who someone is, and sexual orientation has to do with who someone is attracted to.
Here's a list of more common gender identities and a quick description to better understand them:
Cisgender is the word used to describe someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex that was assigned to them at birth.Trans is an umbrella term that often includes anyone who might identify as transgender (a gender identity describing someone who doesn't exclusively identify with the sex they were assigned at birth), genderqueer, nonbinary, transfeminine, transmasculine, agender, and many more. Sometimes people wonder if trans people are always gay, while other times people assume trans people can't be gay. Just like cisgender people, individuals who identify as trans can have any sexual orientation '-- straight, gay, bisexual, queer, lesbian, or asexual. Also, different people use gender identity labels differently, so it's always good to ask someone what that term means to them in order to get a better understanding.Genderqueer is a gender identity used by people who do things that are outside of the norm of their actual or perceived gender. Sometimes this label overlaps with the sexual orientation label.Nonbinary is a gender identity label that describes those who don't identify exclusively as male or female. This means that a nonbinary person can identify as both male and female, partially male, partially female, or neither male nor female. Some nonbinary people identify as trans, while other don't. If you're confused which one of these terms to use for someone, as always, just ask!Transfeminine is an umbrella term used to describe someone who was assigned male at birth and identifies with femininity. Someone who identifies as transfeminine may also identify as a trans woman or female.Transmasculine is a gender identity describing someone who was assigned female at birth but identifies with masculinity. Someone who identifies as transmasculine may also identify as a trans man, trans woman, or male.Agender is the word used to describe those who don't identify with any gender or can't relate to gender terms or labels at all. Sometimes people assume those who identify as agender also identify as asexual, but this isn't true. Agender people can have any sexual orientation. Sexual orientation describes someone's emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to another person or group of people. Sexual orientation doesn't tell us anything about the types of sex someone prefers or what body parts someone has. It simply gives us an idea of the range of people someone is attracted to.
Here are some common sexual orientations:
Heterosexual, also known as straight, is a sexual orientation to describe the physical, emotional, and sexual attraction to people who have a gender that's different from their own.Gay is a sexual orientation to describe a person who's emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to people of their same gender and sometimes used by a person who identifies as man and who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other men.Lesbian is a sexual orientation to describe a person who identifies as a woman, and who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other women.Bisexual is a sexual orientation to describe a person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to two or more genders; often used to mean attraction to people with one's own gender and other genders.Queer is a sexual orientation to describe a person whose feelings of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction don't fit into predetermined categories.Asexual is a sexual orientation to describe a person who doesn't experience sexual attraction or desire towards other people but may experience romantic attraction.Pansexual is a sexual orientation used to describe a person who's emotionally, romantically, or sexually attraction to people regardless of their gender or sex. Sexual consent is the act of agreeing to participate in any kind of touching or sexual activity. Sexual consent should take place in every sexual encounter and with all types of sexual activity and touching. Yes, even kissing!
Often, consent involves a lot more than just a simple yes or no. It's important to remember that the absence of a no doesn't mean yes. There are often multiple behaviors to a sexual interaction, and consenting to one stage doesn't necessarily mean someone is consenting to everything.
Checking in with your sexual partner before and during sexual behaviors can help create a safe environment where sex can be a mutually pleasurable and positive experience grounded in respect and understanding. If you're worried about ruining the mood or moment, take time before things get heavy to talk about consent and sex as well as barriers and protections. This strategy allows sexual partners to stay in the moment while also having clarity about what's OK and what isn't.
Though consent is a serious thing, it doesn't have to be a buzzkill. They are lots of ways to provide consent and finding the ones that work for you and your partner(s) can help create the trust and open communication that's necessary to explore and have fun with sex.
It's important to remember that the absence of a no doesn't mean yes.Consent can come in different forms, and it's important to become educated on the various types in order to decide which form is the best fit for a particular person, group of people, or situation.
Verbal or expressed consent is the act of using words to confirm agreement that you want something. The main thing to remember about this form of consent is that everything about the agreement is verbalized using words and there are no elements that are assumed or implied. If it wasn't stated in the conversation or question, it wasn't consented to.Implied consent is conscious and intentional agreement that someone wants something through their actions or body language. This type of consent can be tricky because the way body language and actions are interpreted varies from person to person. For example, one person may view flirtatious body language and touching as implied consent for more touching of other parts of the body, whereas someone else may view it as simply consenting to the flirtation and touching that's currently happening. For this reason, it's always best to get verbal consent too. Talk with your partner about how they feel about implied consent and the ways they use their body to communicate consent in a given sexual interaction.Enthusiastic consent involves both the verbal act of agreement and communicating the level of desire associated with that agreement. In simplest terms, it's telling someone what you want and how badly you want it. The idea behind enthusiastic consent is that taking ownership and stating personal needs and desires is an important part of the consent process. Not only does this guide someone in knowing their partner's wants and desires, both generally and in a given moment, but it also establishes a system of open communication for conveying preferences, turn-ons, and fantasies before and during sex.Contractual consent involves creating a written contract that outlines the sexual preferences of the partners involved and clearly states the sexual acts that can and can't be performed, and in which situations. For some people, contractual consent means consent isn't needed in the moment. For others, verbal, implied, or enthusiastic consent still need to happen. It's important to remember that anyone can opt out of the contract or change the terms of the contract at any time. It's helpful to revisit contractual consents regularly to ensure each person is still on the same page.Practicing contractual consent allows partners to engage in sexual encounters knowing what's agreed upon, both in terms of consent and sexual activity. That's why contractual consent is nice for many partners who prefer not to talk about consent in the midst of sex. This can help people feel more prepared and comfortable, while also eliminating the need to interrupt a passionate moment.
Some ways to discuss consent with your partner''I was reading this article about different types of consent and realized we've never talked about it before.''''I want to make sure we're respecting each other during sex. Can we talk about consent?'' ''Hey, I'm wondering if we can check in about consent?''''There are usually a few conversations I like to have before having sex. Do you mind if we talk about consent?''''I know it can be awkward to talk about these things, but I'm hoping we can talk about consent. I know that'll make me feel more comfortable and lead to a more positive experience for me.'' An STI is an infection that's passed from one person to another through sexual contact and activity. Although there's often a lot of negative stigma '-- and sometimes shame '-- around contracting STIs, it's actually quite common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 20 million new STIs contracted every year in the United States, and 50 percent of these cases occur among people aged 15 to 24. Talking about STIs can be scary, but it's super important to get tested regularly and talk with your healthcare provider about STIs if you're sexually active.
Ways STIs can be transmittedSkin-to-skin contactvaginal/front hole sexanal sexoral sexcontact with bodily fluids, such as blood or semenneedlesTesting is also important, because many people with an STI may not know they have one. There are a number of STIs that don't come with significant or visible symptoms, which is why getting tested is the most effective way to stay STI-free.
There are great websites, such as Get Tested, that'll help you locate a local testing center. STD Test Express and SH:24 are great resources for those interested in at-home STI kits and testing.
Most STIs can be treated with medication and many are cured with antibiotics. But when risk factors are ignored and STI symptoms go untreated, serious health issues can arise.
Some of the most common STIsgonorrheachlamydiahuman papillomavirus (HPV)herpesHIVsyphilishepatitis CEach of those infections falls into a class of either bacterial STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis) or viral STIs (HPV, HIV, herpes, and hepatitis C).
Treatment for a bacterial STI is typically a course of antibiotics. Unlike bacterial STIs, most viral STIs can't be cured with antibiotics. The only one that can be entirely cured with treatment in most cases is hepatitis C.
When someone becomes a carrier of a viral STI other than hepatitis C, that person remains a carrier of the virus. Medications are used to help decrease the chances of transmission and protect against the serious health issues that could surface if the STI is untreated. But the virus remains inside the body.
Thanks to effective medications and safe sex precautions, most people with viral STIs are able to effectively manage symptoms and reduce their risk for transmitting the infection during sex.
Ways to prevent STIs frequent STI testingcondoms and gloves used correctly with each sex actdamsmedications such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)vaccinationsTalking with a healthcare provider about these options and their effectiveness may help someone decide which combination of methods makes the most sense for them.
Previously, there's been a significant amount of research and data pointing to increased rates of STIs within the LGBTQIA community. More recent studies, however, suggest that flaws in the language, questions, and topics included in past research result in questionable conclusions related to STI disparities and contribute to stigma surrounding the LGBTQIA community.
The language used in research should shift away from using gender and sexual identities to categorize certain sexual activities and experiences and instead focus on the sexual acts and behaviors that present the most risk for transmission and contraction of STIs.
We frequently hear about the importance of paying attention to our physical and mental health. For many people, it's important to add sexual health to that list. Sexual health is an important part of your overall health. Sexual health includes:
discovering sexual identity and attractionsfinding ways to communicate them to otherspreventing the transmission of STIsHaving access to information about how to stay safe during sex gives people the comfort and confidence to explore and fulfill their sexual desires with less anxiety and worry. Understanding different types of sex and ways to make it safer is the first step in taking charge of your sexual health.
Tips for safe oral and penetrative sexTalk with your partner about the last time they were tested for STIs.Don't participate in this type of sex if you notice cuts, sores, bumps, or high-risk bodily fluids '-- such as blood '-- on their genitals or in their mouth, as this can be signs of an infection and can increase the chances of transmitting an STI. Safe penetrative sex in a front hole, vagina, or anusPenetrative sex, also known as intercourse, is the act of inserting a body part or toy inside someone's front hole, vagina, or anus. It's important to be aware that the person being penetrated, also known as the receptive partner, or ''bottom,'' is typically at a higher risk for contracting STIs than the partner who's penetrating, also known as the inserting partner or ''top.''
The risk for transmitting HIV to a bottom during unprotected anal sex is 15 in 1,000 compared with 3 in 10,000 for transmitting HIV from a bottom to a top.
Ways to make penetrative sex saferUse a barrier such as a condom. Most condoms are made out of latex, but there are others made out of polyisoprene or polyurethane for those with a latex allergy.Use a new barrier or condom with each new sexual partner and sexual activity.Be sure to put the condom on correctly. Pinching the reservoir tip of a condom before rolling it over the penis will leave space to collect semen and reduce the chances the condom will break when the semen is released. The condom should be rolled down to the base of the penis so the barrier is covering the entire body part.Secure the base ring of the condom when removing the condom-covered penis from the other person's body. This helps prevent bodily fluids from sliding out of the condom and having contact with your partner.Never put more than one condom on a penis at one time. Using two condoms on the same penis at this same time increases friction and the likelihood that one or both condoms will break.Apply lube. Lube cuts down on the amount of friction on a condom, which helps prevent the chance that the condom will break.When using a condom for penetrative sex, it can be helpful to place lube on the front hole, vagina, or anus before inserting. This will decrease pain and friction while increasing pleasure. Safe oral sex on a clitoris, front hole, vagina, penis, scrotum, or anusOral sex is when someone uses their mouth to stimulate a partner's genitals or anus.
Ways to make oral sex safer Place a latex barrier between the mouth and body part oral sex is being performed on.Apply lube to both sides of the barrier to enhance pleasure and decrease the chances of transmitting an infection. Safe sex with handsFingers and hands can be used during sex to stimulate parts of the body such as the penis, front hole, vagina, mouth, nipples, or anus.
Ways to make sex with hands safer Apply a generous amount of lube to help prevent cuts and pain.Wash your hands and trim your fingernails before using them during sex.important to note that sex with hands and fingers isn't a common way of transmitting STIs, but we always want to be as safe as possible.Use a hand or glove that's different from the one you used to touch yourself, when touching your partner(s). Safe sex with toysOne way to have sex with yourself and with partners is by using toys such as vibrators (can be used on the front hole and vagina), dildos (can be used on the front hole, vagina, and anus), plugs (can be used anally), and beads (can be used anally). These toys can help stimulate body parts both internally and externally.
Ways to make sex with toys saferUse a barrier such as a latex condom on toys being used for penetration in the front hole, vagina, anus, or mouth.If a toy's been exposed to bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids, saliva, or blood, try not to share it. This can reduce the risk of transmitting an STI.If you do decide to share a sex toy that's been used by or with a previous partner, be sure to clean and sanitize it thoroughly, following manufacturer's instructions. Toys are made out of many different materials and therefore require different methods for sanitization. Some should be cleaned using soap and water while others should be boiled in hot water for a period of time. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to sanitize each toy in the safest, most effective way. Knowing how to properly protect yourself is key to both safe sex and staying in good sexual health. There are a number of different types of sexual protection barriers, including:
outside condomsinside condomsdamsgloveslubeWater-based lubes are always best with latex condoms. This is because they reduce the chance that the lubricant will break down the barrier and reduce its effectiveness.
These methods of protection can and should be used for all kinds of sex, which means everything from touching genitals to penetrative sex. Using barriers during sex helps reduce the risk of getting or giving STIs to sex partners, providing peace of mind that can make sex more fun and pleasurable for everyone. Barriers should also be used with sex toys, if sharing between two or more persons.
In order to get the most out of sexual protection barriers, they need to be used correctly and for the appropriate sexual activity. Here's a step-by-step guide for using some of the most common barriers:
Outside condoms (commonly referred to as 'male condoms')An outside condom is a sexual protection barrier that can be used for penetrative and oral sex involving a penis. Outside condoms are designed to contain the bodily fluids (such as semen or ejaculate) that are released during sex. This prevents sexual partner(s) from being exposed to anyone's fluids but their own.
Outside condoms can be purchased at convenience stores, grocery stores, and drugstores. They can be purchased at any age and are often free at many health centers and STI testing clinics.
For those with a latex allergy, use a non-latex condom made with polyisoprene or polyurethane.
How to use an outside condomMake sure to use a new condom that's not expired.Open the condom gently. Be careful to only tear the wrapper, not the condom.Take a look at the condom before putting in on, keeping your eyes out for any tears or unusual bumps.Place the rim of the condom over the penis, holding the tip in order to leave a small space to capture the bodily fluids that will be released.Roll the condom over the outside of the penis, until the rim of the condom meets the base.Apply lube to the outside of the condom, even if the condom came with existing lubricant. This will help reduce the amount of friction on the condom while also increasing pleasure.At the end of sex, make sure to secure the rim of the condom with your hand as it's slowly pulled out from your partner's body. Carefully tie a knot in the condom so bodily fluids can't escape the barrier. Throw it in the trash. Inside condoms (commonly referred to as 'female condoms')An inside condom is a sexual protection barrier that can be used for penetrative sex involving a front hole/vagina or anus.
Inside condoms are designed to line the wall of the front hole/vagina or anus in order to prevent bodily fluids from coming into contact with the toy or body part penetrating it.
Inside condoms are often harder to find than outside condoms. Only one brand is available in the United States, but health clinics often have them. They're also available by prescription.
How to use an inside condomJust like with outside condoms, make sure to use a new condom that's not expired.Open the condom gently. Be careful to only tear the wrapper, not the condom.Take a look at the condom before putting in on. Keep your eyes out of for any tears or unusual bumps.Unlike an outside condom (which has one rim/ring), inside condoms have two rims/rings. One rim is closed, and the other is open. This creates a space between the two rims that protects the penetrating toy or body part from the bodily fluids secreted by the front hole/vagina or anus. Apply a small amount of lube to the outside of the closed end of the condom. This is the part of the condom that will be inserted inside.Different people have different preferences about the best way to insert an inside condom into the front hole/vagina or anus. A couple options include inserting it while sitting on the edge of a chair, standing, or lying down. Before inserting the condom inside, pinch the closed rim/ring with your fingers so the width is small enough to place inside the hole opening.Push the closed, pinched rim as far back as possible, allowing the condom to line as much of the internal hole as possible. After it's placed as far back as possible, remove your finger and allow the open rim of the condom to hang out of the hole opening. There should be around an inch of condom hanging. When used for sex, a partner will insert a body part or toy into the open rim of the inside condom.After sex, the penetrating partner should remove the toy or body part from the inside condom slowly.Gently pinch the open rim of the condom together as you pull the remaining part of the condom from inside the body.Throw the condom in the trash. Use a new one for another sexual act. Dams (also known as dental dams)A dam is a sexual protection barrier used during oral sex to help decrease the risk of contracting or transmitting an STI, such as gonorrhea, HPV, or herpes.
Dams can be used with lots of different body parts, including a front hole/vagina, clitoris, and anus. Even though oral sex involving a penis has a higher risk of STI transmission, it's important to know that oral sex involving other body parts still presents risks.
Dams can be harder to find in stores than outside condoms. You can create your own dam by cutting open an outside condom and using it as a barrier between body parts. Check out this step-by-step guide to get you started.
How to use a damOpen the dam packaging gently. Be careful to only tear the wrapper, not the dam.Unfold the dam all the way, ensuring it's large enough to cover the area of the body where oral sex will be performed.Apply a small amount of lube to the genitals or anus of the partner receiving oral sex. This increases pleasure and serves as a form of protection.Place the dam over the body part where oral sex will be performed, keeping it in place between the mouth and body part using one partner's hands. During oral sex, be sure to keep the side of the dam that's against a body part facing the body. Don't switch sides.When finished, throw the dam away. Don't reuse it on another body part or with another partner. GlovesGloves are a great way to prevent the risk of infection when having sex with hands and fingers. They protect genitals from the germs found on hands and also keep hands safe from the bodily fluids that the genitals and anus release during sexual activity. Gloves can also provide a smooth texture that often increases pleasure during sex with hands.
How to use glovesAfter washing and drying your hands, place the glove over the thumb, fingers, and palm.Apply lube to increase pleasure and avoid friction that could cause the glove to rip or tear.Use one glove for only one body part. If you switch body parts, put on a new glove.When finished, pinch the base of the glove below your palm and pull it toward your fingers, causing the glove to turn inside out. This helps the bodily fluids that were on the outside of the glove stay inside.Tie a knot at the bottom of the glove to keep bodily fluids from dripping out.Throw the glove in the trash. LubeLube by itself isn't the most effective sexual protection method, but it can still act as a protective factor during sex. This is because it prevents excessive friction from occurring, which can break down condoms and cause small tears in the genital area.
If using a latex barrier with lube, you'll want to make sure to use lube that's safe for latex. Non-water-based lubes can break down latex, causing the latex barrier to become less effective. Water-based lubes, however, are always a good choice. They can be used on latex, toys, and body parts. When the correct lube is used, it can both enhance pleasure and add an extra element of protection.
Using lube is easy! Just apply it to a barrier or body part as needed to prevent friction, cuts, and tearing. If used for oral sex, make sure it is an edible lube.
Protection for trans bodiesBody parts and genitals vary in shape, size, color, and texture among all humans. Trans people use the same methods cisgender people use to engage in safer sex: outside condoms, inside condoms, gloves, and dams. Some trans and nonbinary-identified people choose to use gender-affirming interventions, such as hormones and surgery, to change their body to align with who they are. There are other trans-identified people who don't feel the need to change their bodies to feel alignment and congruence around gender. There are also many who would like to but can't due to other factors, such as finances, medical reasons, and legal issues (depending on where in the world they live).
For those who are able to and choose to pursue gender-affirming interventions (and for their partners), it's important to have access to information about how those changes impact pleasure, sexual functioning, sexual health, and risk of STI transmission.
As mentioned before, there's no gender or sexual identity that automatically places someone at more of a risk for STI infections. It's the sexual behaviors someone engages in '-- not how they identify '-- that make them more or less at risk.
Each person is responsible for doing their part to understand their most appropriate forms of protection for their body. This only leads to safer and more fun sex for them and their partner(s).
SelfStaying informed about your STI status and overall sexual health is an important goal. In order to maintain good sexual health, it's important for people to know their own body and pay attention to it.
Finding a healthcare provider who's the right match can be another key factor in sexual health and wellness. Establishing care with a healthcare provider who's the right fit creates space for open communication between patient and provider and can make regular checkups for general overall health more appealing.
Likewise, if someone is sexually active, STI testing should be a regular occurrence. It's also important to know that there are at-home STI tests and other types of testing centers that allow people to get tested without seeing a doctor. In the United States, minors who are 12 years old or over can seek out sexual health and STI testing without a parent's permission. Many of the clinics serving youth and young adults offer a sliding scale, so people can pay what they can afford.
PartnersTalking about STIs with a partner(s) isn't always easy or comfortable, but it's an important thing to practice. Going to get tested with a partner is a great way to open up the conversation about STIs while also staying informed about your own status. Doing it together can foster trust, vulnerability, and confidence '-- three things that also lend themselves to great sex!
Knowing your status and your partners' STI status will also provide important guidance around the sexual protection barriers, medications, or combination of both that will keep everyone safest.
Ways to discuss STI testing''Before I forget and get lost in our conversation, I wanted to ask '-- when was the last time you got tested?''''I realized we've never gotten tested together and thought it could be a nice thing to do.''''Hey, I was thinking we'd stop by this testing center on our way out today. What do you think?''''I recently read something about these new at-home STI tests. Want to give them a try?''''I've been meaning to get tested soon! When's the last time you were tested? Maybe we can go together?'' Testing positiveIt can be hard to talk about testing positive for an STI. It's important, however, to remember that contracting an STI is much more common than people might think. The shame and embarrassment many feel around testing positive stem from the fact that there's not enough openness and conversation about how common it is.
When someone tests positive, it becomes their responsibility to share this status with past partners who may have been exposed and current partners who could be exposed. That said, the person sharing the news shouldn't be made to feel badly about their status. For many who have had an STI in the past, they took medication, no longer have it, and therefore can't transmit it.
For others, they might have an STI with chronic symptoms they need to manage in an ongoing way. Open, honest, nonjudgmental communication will lead to better sex. Plus, there are tons of ways to stay safe even if someone has an existing STI.
Ways to talk about existing STIs For current partners: ''Honesty and communication are important to me, so I wanted to let you know I recently got tested for STIs and it came back positive for ______. I'm getting treated and will update you if anything about my status changes.'' ''Do you think we can check in about STI status? I have something that's important to share. It's not necessarily a big deal, but I just want to make sure we're staying safe and responsible.'' For past partners: ''Do you have a minute to chat? I want to talk about my recent STI test, because the results may impact you.'' ''I wanted to do the responsible thing and reach out to let you know about my STI status. I recently found out I'm positive for _______, and wanted to let you know. Given our sexual history, there may be a chance you were exposed. I want to do everything I can to keep my past and current partners safe and healthy.''Each person deserves access to information and services that affirm and support their sexual and gender identity while also caring for their overall sexual health. The right educational tools for the community and training for medical providers and mental health professionals can ensure LGBTQIA communities are better equipped to understand how to protect themselves and how to practice safer sex.
Practicing safer sex and protecting yourself won't only increase the chances you and your sex partners stay STI-free. It's also a tangible way to practice self-care and self-love.
Mere Abrams, MSW, ASW, is a gender specialist, researcher, educator, and consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area, providing gender-affirming services to trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive children, teens, and young adults. As a clinical researcher at the UCSF Child and Adolescent Gender Center, Mere works on the first National Institutes of Health-sponsored research, studying long-term medical and mental health outcomes for trans youth starting puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones. Mere was a contributor and editor of ''The Transgender Teen: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Teens'' and speaks publicly on the topics of ethical considerations for working with trans youth and their families, nonbinary experiences, and gender diversity and inclusion.
Company Is Offering 'Fur-ternity Leave' for New Pet Owners - The New York Times
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:02
Connor McCarthy, who works at Nina Hale in Minnesota, sought permission from his boss to work from home when he got a new dog, a goldendoodle named Bentley. Credit Courtesy of Connor McCarthy A Minneapolis marketing company recently made tweaks to its employee benefits this summer, ranging from conventional to unusual. It gave workers a larger commuter stipend, as well as a reason to avoid the office altogether: ''fur-ternity leave,'' or the ability to work from home for a week to welcome new dogs or cats.
''This is kind of a no-brainer,'' said Allison McMenimen, a vice president at the company, Nina Hale, who helped devise the new policy. ''The idea of offering benefits that just help keep employees at the office, that's over.''
In recent decades, many companies in the United States have overhauled their perks in an effort to retain employees and entice new recruits. Tech giants like Facebook and Google have gone further, providing gourmet meals in cafeterias, gyms at work and day cares on site.
Image Nina Hale, a marketing company in Minnesota, introduced ''fur-ternity leave'' to its benefits for its 85 employees, allowing new pet owners to work from home for a week while their dog or cat adapts to a new home. Credit Nina Hale But as far as pets are concerned, few companies appear to have gone far beyond Take Your Dog to Work Day. An Italian company allowed a woman last year to take paid time off when her dog became sick. And employees at mParticle, a data company in New York, are offered ''paw-ternity leave'' '-- two weeks of paid time off for those who adopt a rescue dog or get an exotic pet, such as an iguana. (It was not immediately clear whether ''fur-ternity'' or ''paw-ternity'' was the industry standard term.)
Connor McCarthy, a senior account manager at Nina Hale, was the latest employee there to seek permission to work from home with a new pet.
In May, Mr. McCarthy was finalizing the adoption of a goldendoodle puppy named Bentley. Mr. McCarthy, 26, said he had read a lot about the pitfalls of helping a dog adjust to a new environment.
''It can be a stressful situation going from its original home to a new home,'' Mr. McCarthy said.
Worried about Bentley, then just 2 months old, being home alone, Mr. McCarthy sent a request to his boss and Ms. McMenimen: Could he work from home the first week to help Bentley get used to his new surroundings, including a kennel, and learn to go to the bathroom outside?
He received a response almost immediately. Absolutely, they said.
That first week, Mr. McCarthy worked from his apartment in Richfield, a Minneapolis suburb, with Bentley by his side. Bentley also spent some hours of the day in a kennel, getting used to a closed environment. About every hour, he took a trip outside to go to the bathroom.
Even with his owner watching closely, Bentley had a few accidents in the house. But Mr. McCarthy noted that Bentley '-- a mix between a golden retriever and a poodle, which are thought to be two of the smartest breeds '-- was a quick learner.
''It was really, really nice to be there while I'm working to transition him,'' said Mr. McCarthy, who was working from home on Monday, with Bentley at his feet.
In a workplace of 85 employees, a handful of people at Nina Hale in recent years had requested the ability to work from home after getting a new cat or dog, Ms. McMenimen said. She said the company began considering making it a formal benefit in May, after the request from Mr. McCarthy. The policy was officially unveiled in July.
''For a lot of people, their pets are their children,'' said Ms. McMenimen, who is also considering getting a pet. ''Our employees are at all different stages of their lives.''
Nearly three months after Mr. McCarthy got his dog, Bentley is potty-trained and socializes well with others at the dog park in his apartment complex. ''That first week is crucial,'' he said.
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Merkel: No urgent need to offer financial aid for Turkey '-- RT Newsline
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 13:18
Published time: 20 Aug, 2018 12:29 Edited time: 20 Aug, 2018 12:42
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she sees no urgent need to offer financial aid for Turkey to ease its currency crisis. She made the statement at a meeting of her Christian Democrats (CDU), the conservative party's general secretary said on Monday. ''She made it clear again that she sees no urgency at the moment for special aid for Turkey,'' Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters after the CDU board meeting attended by Merkel, Reuters said. Spokesman Steffen Seibert also said Monday that ''the question of German aid for Turkey is not on the government's agenda at the moment.''
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Fusion GPS Spy Natalia Veselnitskaya Worked Out Of Obama Official's Office - Big League Politics
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:52
WASHINGTON '-- The Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who set up Don Trump Jr. for a meeting in Trump Tower as part of a Fusion GPS plot was operating out of the Washington offices of Cozen O'Connor, a law firm run by an anti-Trump former Obama administration official whose super PAC donated to Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush in the 2016 presidential election.
Veselnitskaya's work from the Cozen O'Connor office provides more evidence of a Democrat and establishment Republican effort to set up the Trump campaign for a future Russian collusion case. Veselnitskaya was allowed into the United States by the Obama Department of Justice while the former Obama official who runs Cozen O'Connor publicly warned then-candidate Trump that if he became president he would be investigated by the DOJ for contacts with foreign leaders. Veselnitskaya reportedly had dinner meetings with Fusion GPS chief Glenn Simpson the day before she met in Trump Tower and also the day after she went inside Trump Tower.
Big League Politics has confirmed that a Cozen O'Connor partner who lives in the same apartment building as James Comey's friend Daniel Richman '-- who leaked classified information to the press on Comey's behalf '-- spoke with Richman during the period that Comey and the Fusion GPS team were trying to obtain FISA warrants on Trump Tower.
Let's break down the facts of an Obama administration official's involvement in the Trump Tower plot:
Trending: An Army of FBI Whistleblowers Are Ready To Testify Against Mueller
Russian and U.S. citizen Rinat Akhmetshin, a Soviet military veteran, was present at Veselnitskaya's meeting with Don Jr. in Trump Tower after leading a lobbying push supposedly to repeal the Magnitsky Act. Akhmestshin is believed by insiders to be linked to Russian government intelligence, a fact that the Washington Post seized on when reporting that he met with Don Jr. and Jared Kushner in Trump Tower. A nonprofit group focused on promoting Akhmetshin and Veselnitskaya's cause to lawmakers actually hired Cozen O'Connor, which the law firm confirms.
The Washington Post reported (emphasis added):
''In the spring of 2016, as the presidential race was heating up, Akhmetshin and lobbyists he hired sought meetings on Capitol Hill to make their case against the sanctions law. Akhmetshin hired former Democratic congressman Ron Dellums, along with a team of lobbyists from the law firm of Cozen O'Connor.Steve Pruitt, a business colleague speaking on Dellums's behalf, said his involvement was brief and ended when he determined that Congress was unlikely to change the law.
In June, after visiting Trump Tower in New York, Veselnitskaya came to Washington to lend a hand in the lobbying effort.
She attended a meeting of the team at the downtown offices of Cozen O'Connor, where she spoke at length in Russian about the issues but confused many in the room, who had not been told previously about her involvement, according to several participants.''
Washington Post passage ends
Cozen O'Connor managing partner Howard Schweitzer is listed here on a DOJ form from an investigation into the breaking of lobbying laws by Russians trying to repeal the Magnitsky Act '-- which was just a front to get Russians in the room with Don Jr. We know now that Natalia Veselnitskaya was actually operating out of the Cozen O'Connor offices.
Schweitzer worked as general counsel for the Export-Import Bank under George W. Bush and was chief operating officer of the TARP bailout program under both Bush and Obama from 2008-2009.
''In October 2008, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appointed Howard as the first COO of TARP. In this position, Howard led program execution and built the TARP infrastructure. He served as a key point person regarding the financial crisis through the presidential transition and continued to serve as TARP COO under Secretary Timothy Geithner until August 2009,'' reads Schweitzer's Cozen O'Connor bio.
''He served as chief operating officer of the TARP in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations,'' reads Schweitzer's bio for a Politico piece he wrote in August 2016 headlined ''7 Reasons Why Trump Would Hate Being President.''
Schweitzer's virulently anti-Trump piece for Politico tries to make the case that Trump was ''sabotaging his own bid for the White House.'' Schweitzer said that if Trump became president then ''He'll be investigated to death'' by Congress and the Justice Department for his business dealings and ''relationships with foreign leaders.''
The narrative was being set.
The Philadelphia-based Cozen O'Connor law firm also has a political action committee that donated to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, in addition to Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Martin O'Malley. In the 2018 election cycle, the Cozen O'Connor PAC donated more money to Hillary Clinton's dormant campaign.
Here is Veselnitskaya seated behind Obama ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul at a June 2016 congressional hearing focused on Russia.
Cozen O'Connor's connections to the anti-Trump ''Operation Crossfire Hurricane'' plot are wide-ranging, and show up in unexpected places.
James Comey's friend, Columbia University professor Daniel Richman, leaked classified information that Comey gave him. During this leaking period, Richman was apartment-building neighbors with a partner at the Cozen O'Connor law firm that strategized with Fusion GPS operative Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian plant who set up Don Jr. in Trump Tower.
Veselnitskaya and Fusion GPS, led by Glenn Simpson, were part of John Brennan and Peter Strzok's CIA-led ''Operation Crossfire Hurricane'' plot aimed at President Donald Trump and the Trump campaign.
''Yes, he is my neighbor,'' Amy Wenzel, a partner at Cozen O'Connor, confirmed in a phone conversation with Big League Politics, confirming that they spoke. They live near each other in a Brooklyn high-rise.
The Washington Post's release of Trump Tower documents shows the crowd surrounding non-sexual honeypot Natalia Veselnitskaya. The crowd of conspirators knew they were damaging Trump by setting up the meeting.
The Post confirms British-citizen music promoter Rob Goldstone's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he described the conspirators' push to get the meeting despite the fact that they knew it would create trouble for the Trump campaign.
The Post reports:
''Rob Goldstone told the committee that his client, the Russian pop star and developer Emin Agalarov, had insisted he help set up the meeting between President Trump's son and the lawyer during the campaign to pass along material on Clinton, overriding Goldstone's own warnings that the meeting would be a bad idea.
''He said, 'it doesn't matter. You just have to get the meeting,''‰'' Goldstone, a British citizen, testified.
The intensity with which Agalarov and his father, the billionaire Aras Agalarov, sought the Trump Tower meeting, which has become a key point of scrutiny for congressional inquiries and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, was revealed in more than 2,500 pages of congressional testimony and exhibits released by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning.''
Washington Post passage ends
Natalia Veselnitskaya is also inextricably linked to the case against Paul Manafort.
The Russian attorney partner of Paul Manafort who was named as a defendant in new Robert Mueller charges is also linked to the Russian spy Natalia Vesenilskaya, who attended a meeting with Don Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner in Trump Tower.
According to Mueller's new charges, Manafort's Russian partner Konstantin Kilimnik tried to intimidate or coerce witnesses in Manafort's upcoming money laundering trial. That puts Konstantin Kilimnik at the center of the Mueller effort to find obstruction of justice in Trump-World (Mueller is giving himself until September 1 to try to find obstruction of justice, after finding no Russian collusion involving Trump).So who is Konstantine Kilimnik? It turns out that Kilimnik is linked to Veselnitskaya, the Fusion GPS agent, according to Senate documents.
Here is how ProPublica described Kilimnik: ''Konstantin Kilimnik: Manafort, who worked for the pro-Russian party in Ukraine before running Trump's campaign, had an employee in Kiev named Konstantin Kilimnik who U.S. and Ukrainian authorities have suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence, according to Politico. Kilimnik served in the Russian army and learned English at a school that experts say often trains spies. Kilimnik denied being a spy to The Washington Post. Manafort had dinner with Kilimnik last August in New York, just before he was forced out of the Trump campaign amid growing questions about his work in the Ukraine, the Post reported.''
Documents reveal Kilimnik's ties to Veselniskaya. Let's take a look at United States Senate Judiciary Committee documents questioning Veselniskaya in October. Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Veselniskaya if she knew a handful of characters believed to be conspirators in the case.
Grassley and Feinstein specifically asked Veselnitskaya if she knew Konstantin Kilimnik.
Here is page 4 of the documents, naming Kilimnik:
Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee as senator from Alabama.
Veselnitskaya's meeting with Don Jr. in Trump Tower provided some of the basis for warrants to surveil Trump Tower and for other FBI surveillance measures on the Trump campaign.
The fact that Veselnitskaya, a lawyer herself, was in the meeting with Trump Jr. and Kushner opened the president's son and son-in-law up to being qualified as ''target associations'' for law enforcement under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, passed during the Bush administration.
Veselniskaya's link to suspected conspirator Kilimnik is now coming under scrutiny.
Patrick Howley is the founder and editor-in-chief of Big League Politics. He previously served as Lead Hillary Clinton Reporter for Breitbart News during the 2016 election, where his coverage of the Clinton email scandal drove the national news cycle. In his years reporting in Washington, he has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business, C-Span, Newsmax TV, One America News, Sky News, BBC Radio, and The Alex Jones Show.
Follow Howley on Twitter
Verizon throttled fire department's ''unlimited'' data during Calif. wildfire | Ars Technica
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:51
Throttling and net neutrality '-- Fire dep't had to pay twice as much to lift throttling during wildfire response. Jon Brodkin - Aug 21, 2018 7:49 pm UTC
Enlarge / A firefighter battling the Medocino Complex fire on August 7, 2018 near Lodoga, California.
Update: The Santa Clara fire department has responded to Verizon's claim that the throttling was just a customer service error and "has nothing to do with net neutrality." To the contrary, "Verizon's throttling has everything to do with net neutrality," a county official said.
Verizon Wireless' throttling of a fire department that uses its data services has been submitted as evidence in a lawsuit that seeks to reinstate federal net neutrality rules.
"County Fire has experienced throttling by its ISP, Verizon," Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in a declaration. "This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services. Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire's ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services."
Bowden's declaration was submitted in an addendum to a brief filed by 22 state attorneys general, the District of Columbia, Santa Clara County, Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, and the California Public Utilities Commission. The government agencies are seeking to overturn the recent repeal of net neutrality rules in a lawsuit they filed against the Federal Communications Commission in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Throttling affected response to wildfire"The Internet has become an essential tool in providing fire and emergency response, particularly for events like large fires which require the rapid deployment and organization of thousands of personnel and hundreds of fire engines, aircraft, and bulldozers," Bowden wrote.
Santa Clara Fire paid Verizon for "unlimited" data but suffered from heavy throttling until the department paid Verizon more, according to Bowden's declaration and emails between the fire department and Verizon that were submitted as evidence.
The throttling recently affected "OES 5262," a fire department vehicle that is "deployed to large incidents as a command and control resource" and is used to "track, organize, and prioritize routing of resources from around the state and country to the sites where they are most needed," Bowden wrote.
"OES 5262 also coordinates all local government resources deployed to the Mendocino Complex Fire," an ongoing wildfire that is the largest in California's history, Bowden wrote.
The vehicle has a device that uses a Verizon SIM card for Internet access.
"In the midst of our response to the Mendocino Complex Fire, County Fire discovered the data connection for OES 5262 was being throttled by Verizon, and data rates had been reduced to 1/200, or less, than the previous speeds," Bowden wrote. "These reduced speeds severely interfered with the OES 5262's ability to function effectively. My Information Technology staff communicated directly with Verizon via email about the throttling, requesting it be immediately lifted for public safety purposes."
Verizon did not immediately restore full speeds to the device, however.
"Verizon representatives confirmed the throttling, but rather than restoring us to an essential data transfer speed, they indicated that County Fire would have to switch to a new data plan at more than twice the cost, and they would only remove throttling after we contacted the Department that handles billing and switched to the new data plan," Bowden wrote.
Verizon ''risking harm to public safety''Because the throttling continued until the department was able to upgrade its subscription, "County Fire personnel were forced to use other agencies' Internet Service Providers and their own personal devices to provide the necessary connectivity and data transfer capability required by OES 5262," Bowden wrote.
Verizon throttling also affected the department in a response to previous fires in December and June, emails show.
Bowden argued that Verizon is likely to keep taking advantage of emergencies in order to push public safety agencies onto more expensive plans.
"In light of our experience, County Fire believes it is likely that Verizon will continue to use the exigent nature of public safety emergencies and catastrophic events to coerce public agencies into higher-cost plans, ultimately paying significantly more for mission-critical service'--even if that means risking harm to public safety during negotiations," Bowden wrote.
Update: In a statement to Ars three hours after this article was published, Verizon acknowledged that it shouldn't have continued throttling the fire department's data service after the department asked Verizon to lift the throttling restrictions.
"Regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations," Verizon's statement said. "We have done that many times, including for emergency personnel responding to these tragic fires. In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us. This was a customer support mistake. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward."
Verizon also noted that the fire department purchased a data service plan that is slowed down after a data usage threshold is reached. But Verizon said it "made a mistake" in communicating with the department about the terms of the plan.
"We made a mistake in how we communicated with our customer about the terms of its plan," Verizon said. "Like all customers, fire departments choose service plans that are best for them. This customer purchased a government contract plan for a high-speed wireless data allotment at a set monthly cost. Under this plan, users get an unlimited amount of data but speeds are reduced when they exceed their allotment until the next billing cycle."
Verizon also said that the Santa Clara "situation has nothing to do with net neutrality or the current proceeding in court."
Throttling happened after net neutrality repealVerizon's throttling was described in fire department emails beginning June 29 of this year, just weeks after the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules took effect.
Even when net neutrality rules were in place, all major carriers imposed some form of throttling on unlimited plans when customers used more than a certain amount of data. They argued that it was allowed under the rules' exception for "reasonable network management." But while such throttling is generally applied only during times of network congestion, the Santa Clara Fire Department says it was throttled at all times once the device in question went over a 25GB monthly threshold.
Even if Verizon's throttling didn't technically violate the no-throttling rule, Santa Clara could have complained to the FCC under the now-removed net neutrality system, which allowed Internet users to file complaints about any unjust or unreasonable prices and practices. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's decision to deregulate the broadband industry eliminated that complaint option and also limited consumers' rights to sue Internet providers over unjust or unreasonable behavior.
Emails between fire department and VerizonOn June 29, Fire Captain Justin Stockman wrote an email to Verizon, noting that download speeds for an essential device used during large disasters had been throttled from 50Mbps to about 30kbps.
A Verizon government accounts manager named Silas Buss responded, saying that the fire department would have to move from a $37.99 plan to a $39.99 plan "to get the data speeds restored on this device." Later, Buss suggested that the department switch to a plan that cost at least $99.99 a month.
Stockman didn't have authority to upgrade the plan, so he sent an email to Deputy Chief Steve Prziborowski that same day. Stockman wrote:
Verizon is currently throttling OES 5262 so severely that it's hampering operations for the assigned crew. This is not the first time we have had this issue. In December of 2017 while deployed to the Prado Mobilization Center supporting a series of large wildfires, we had the same device with the same SIM card also throttled. I was able to work through [Fire Department IT executive] Eric Prosser at the time to have service to the device restored, and Eric communicated that Verizon had properly re-categorized the device as truly "unlimited".
Prziborowski expressed concern about the throttling in an email to Buss. "Before I give you my approval to do the $2.00 a month upgrade, the bigger question is why our public safety data usage is getting throttled down?" Prziborowski wrote. "Our understanding from Eric Prosser, our former Information Technology Officer, was that he had received approval from Verizon that public safety should never be gated down because of our critical infrastructure need for these devices."
While fire department personnel thought they were already paying for "truly" unlimited data, Verizon said they weren't.
"The short of it is, public safety customers have access to plans that do not have data throughput limitations," Buss told Prziborowski. "However, the current plan set for all of SCCFD's lines does have data throttling limitations. We will need to talk about making some plan changes to all lines or a selection of lines to address the data throttling limitation of the current plan."
The emails started up again on July 5 and 6. "Can confirm that after using 25GB of data, our service drops to zero. This is unacceptable and needs to be fixed," fire department IT officer Daniel Farrelly wrote.
Buss clarified that "data throughput is limited to 200kbps or 600kbps" after 25GB of use. Buss also told fire officials that all Verizon plans have some sort of throttling and that the department would have to pay by the gigabyte to avoid throttling entirely.
Buss wrote:
Verizon has always reserved the right to limit data throughput on unlimited plans. All unlimited data plans offered by Verizon have some sort of data throttling built-in, including the $39.99 plan. Verizon does offer plans with no data throughput limitations; these plans require that the customer pay by the GB for use beyond a certain set allotment.
The Mendocino fire began on July 27. On the night of Sunday, July 29, Stockman sent an email to Bowden:
OES 5262 is deployed again, now to the Mendocino Complex, and is still experiencing the same throttling. As I understood it from our previous exchange regarding this device, the billing cycle was set to end July 23, which should have alleviated the throttling. In a side-by-side comparison, a crew member's personal phone using Verizon was seeing speeds of 20Mbps/7Mbps. The department Verizon device is experiencing speeds of 0.2Mbps/0.6Mbps, meaning it has no meaningful functionality.
Farrelly wrote a brief email to Buss that night, telling him to "Remove any data throttling on OES5262 effective immediately." Farrelly emailed Buss again the next morning, saying, "Please work with us. All we need is a plan that does not offer throttling or caps of any kind."
Buss responded that afternoon, suggesting a plan that costs $99.99 for the first 20GB and $8 per gigabyte thereafter. "To get the plan changed immediately, I would suggest calling in the plan change to our customer service team," Buss wrote.
That was the last email submitted in the court exhibit.
Santa Clara apparently switched to the $99.99 plan, more than doubling its bill. "While Verizon ultimately did lift the throttling, it was only after County Fire subscribed to a new, more expensive plan," Bowden wrote in his declaration.
Ex-Dem IT aide Imran Awan avoids jail time after attorneys complain about Trump | Fox News
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:40
Imran Awan, the former IT aide to congressional Democrats including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, avoided jail time Tuesday. (Reuters)
Imran Awan, the former IT aide to congressional Democrats whose federal bank fraud case has drawn the interest of top Republicans, avoided jail time Tuesday after the defense complained about disparaging comments made against the defendant by President Trump and others.
During a hearing Tuesday in Washington, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan sentenced Awan to three months of supervised release plus time served. Chutkan, who cited ''unfounded allegations'' against Awan, also did not impose a fine.
Awan, who pleaded guilty in July to making a false statement on a loan application, delivered an emotional statement vowing: ''I promise you this second chance will not go to waste.''
The prosecution, in a recent sentencing memorandum, did not advocate jail time for Awan.
Federal guidelines recommended a sentence of zero to six months in jail, followed by two to five years of supervised release. Prosecutors said they did not oppose a noncustodial sentence.
The case had generated great interest from conservatives, who suggested Awan could have been involved in a cyber breach operation. Awan, who was arrested last summer at Dulles International Airport before trying to board a flight to Pakistan, worked as a technology employee to top Democrats, including Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
But prosecutors said during July's plea hearing that they investigated allegations of misconduct by Awan while on the job in Congress and said they "uncovered no evidence" that Awan "violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems."
Awan admitted in July's plea deal to working to obtain home equity lines of credit from the Congressional Federal Credit Union in December 2016 by giving false information about a property. As part of the deal, the prosecution dropped fraud charges against Awan's wife, Hina Alvi.
In a sentencing memorandum filed this week, Awan's attorney, Christopher J. Gowen, requested a sentence of time served plus a fine, citing ''the costs incurred by Imran throughout this case, the nature of the offense, his substantial cooperation, the positions taken by the United States and the presentence investigator, and the conduct of several government officials, including the President of the United States.''
Trump has referred to Awan multiple times as ''the Pakistani mystery man,'' and mentioned him during his joint press conference this summer in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Awan was born in Pakistan, but came to the U.S. with his family when he was a teenager.
''Trump is not the only sitting government official who has indulged in false or outrageously speculative and racially-tinged attacks on Imran for political benefit,'' Gowen wrote in the court document, taking aim at Republican lawmakers Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa and Ron DeSantis of Florida.
Suspicions about Awan's activities were raised after revelations that Philip G. Kiko, the chief administrative officer of the House, said in April that the House's inspector general ''discovered evidence of procurement fraud and irregularities'' and ''numerous violations of House security policies'' by Awan and other IT employees connected to him.
Prosecutors said the government conducted a ''thorough investigation of those allegations'' but determined federal charges were not warranted. The case was investigated by the U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI's Washington field office.
Before his arrest, Awan and other IT aides for House Democrats originally had been on investigators' radar for months over concerns of alleged equipment theft, access to sensitive computer systems and more.
The government interviewed 40 witnesses, took custody of the House Democratic Caucus server and other devices, reviewed electronic communications between House employees and questioned Awan during multiple voluntary interviews, the plea deal said.
A grand jury in August 2017 first returned an indictment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging Awan and his wife with federal bank fraud.
It's not the only high-profile bank fraud case with a political connection: a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia is deliberating in the case of Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.
Democratic National Committee says hackers tried breaking into voter database
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:39
August 22, 2018 | 2:39pm | Updated August 22, 2018 | 2:51pm
Hackers unsuccessfully tried to break into the Democratic National Committee's voter database two years after Russians hacked the party's computers and released thousands of internal emails in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
The party contacted the FBI Tuesday after it found out about what was believed to be the beginning of a sophisticated effort to hack into the database, CNN reported.
Bob Lord, a former Yahoo executive who is now the party's top security official, briefed Democrats on the attempt at a meeting of the Association of State Democratic Committees in Chicago on Wednesday.
''These threats are serious and that's why it's critical that we all work together, but we can't do this alone. We need the [Trump] administration to take more aggressive steps to protect our voting systems. It is their responsibility to protect our democracy from these types of attacks,'' Lord said in a statement to CNN.
The DNC was informed of the attempt Tuesday morning by a cloud service provider and a security research firm that a fake login page had been created in an attempt to harvest usernames and passwords that would allow entry to the party's database, the network said, citing sources.
The source said the DNC was investigating who was behind the effort.
The bogus page was first discovered late Monday by Lookout, a San Francisco-based cybersecurity firm.
The company doesn't work for the DNC but alerted the party to its findings, Mike Murray, the company's vice president of security intelligence, told CNN.
''It was very convincing,'' Murray said, adding that if someone saw the real login page and the phony login page side by side, it would be hard to tell them apart.
''It would have been a very effective attack,'' he said.
CNN has reached out to the FBI for comment.
Also Tuesday, Microsoft said that an operation linked to Russian spies targeting the US Senate and conservative think tanks that advocated for tougher policies against Russia was thwarted the previous week.
President Trump for years has downplayed Russia's role in the earlier hack attack, suggesting that he believed Vladimir Putin's denials despite the US intelligence community's unanimous conclusion that Russia was to blame.
Trump on Wednesday once again dismissed special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling and possible collusion with Trump's campaign as a ''Witch Hunt!'' '-- despite guilty pleas a day earlier by his lawyer Michael Cohen and the conviction of his one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort on fraud charges.
Toxic Femininity
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:37
WHAT THE MEDIA REFUSES TO REPORT The Asia Argento & Anthony Bourdain TimelineFebruary 20, 2017: Page Six confirms Anthony Bourdain and Asia Argento are dating.
May 16, 2017: Argento and Bourdain go public on Instagram.
April 17, 2018: French writer Huge Cl(C)ment and Argento exchange words over Twitter. This is the first public contact between the two European celebrities. Cl(C)ment starts ''liking'' Argento's posts later that day.
May 19, 2018: Argento attends the Cannes Film Festival, where she gives a speech about Harvey Weinstein. Cl(C)ment films the event from the audience and posts it on his social media. People respond with comments like ''Goddess rising'' and ''This speech must have taken so much courage.''
May 23, 2018: Bourdain and Argento meet in Florence, Italy, for Parts Unknown.
May 26, 2018: Bourdain and Argento wrap up filming Parts Unknown in Florence.
May 27''June 1, 2018: Bourdain travels to France to film the next episode of his series, while Argento returns home to Rome.
Weekend of June 1, 2018: Argento and Cl(C)ment are seen coming and going from the Hotel de Russie, where she and Bourdain had often stayed during his visits with her in Rome. They were photographed multiple times by various European paparazzi. However, the controversial photos would not surface publicly until June 5.
June 3, 2018: Parts Unknown airs the episode that Argento directed in Hong Kong. In the opening sequence, Bourdain is pictured alone on a ferry, writing in a journal while narrating his thoughts: ''It is possible to fall in love with Asia, and to fall in love in Asia. I have done both.'' An obvious yet very romantic gesture and nod to his girlfriend. That day, IndieWire publishes an interview with Bourdain where he talks extensively about Argento. Here is an excerpt:
For Bourdain, bringing Argento further into his professional world proved to be a natural extension of their bond. ''Look, anytime I can get work out of Asia'--even random suggestions, like when she calls me mid-show to make me aware of a Nigerian psychedelic rock scene of the mid-to-late-'70s'--that's a huge help to the show,'' he said. ''I'd love to have her a continuing director. I just don't think we can afford her. But, my God, I'd love nothing more than to repeat the experience. She made it incredible.''
Bourdain's relationship with Argento has overlapped with a dramatic chapter in her life, as the revelations about Weinstein's behavior included her own disclosures in Ronan Farrow's Pulitzer-winning story for the New Yorker. Argento endured traumatizing backlash from the media in her native Italy, and she fled the country as a result; she has been flinging a mixture of invective and messages of empowerment from her Twitter feed for months. ''It's been a huge part of our life,'' Bourdain said. ''As you can probably imagine, it's been very hard and continues to be very hard for Asia, but at the same time, it's inspiring. She's at the center of a conversation with a lot of women who want to share. That's something she takes really, really seriously.''
June 4, 2018: Bourdain uploads his last post on social media.
June 5, 2018: The paparazzi photos of Argento and Cl(C)ment in a romantic embrace surface online in the Daily Mail and are printed in several European gossip magazines such as Public and Chi. Word spreads throughout the European press. A Twitter user named @RoosterJones3 tweets at Bourdain, ''Hugo Clement banging your girl [sic].''
June 5, 2018, onward: Bourdain goes dark on social media. At some point during this time, Bourdain unfollows Argento, or she blocks him, which causes an automatic unfollow. We can never be sure which move caused him to unfollow her.
June 6, 2018: More European outlets publish evidence of the alleged affair between Argento and Cl(C)ment.
June 7, 2018: Bourdain misses his regular dinner with renowned chef ‰ric Ripert and other friends at his five-star French hotel.
June 8, 2018: Bourdain misses breakfast and there's no response on his cell phone. A concerned Ripert has a receptionist unlock his hotel door and he is found dead by asphyxiation using the belt of his hotel bathrobe. (Three hours before Bourdain's death, Argento posts a cryptic photo on her Instagram story. The post shows Argento wearing a Sid Vicious T-shirt with the words Fuck Everyone, which she captioned, ''You know who you are.'')
June 12, 2018 '' Page Six reports that the photographer who snapped the paparazzi shots of Argento and Cl(C)ment admits he has regrets. ''A picture is not worth a life,'' he stated. ''If that shot triggered suicide '... this would make me suffer.''
Antifa calls for the formation of a ''Red Army'' to ''annihilate'' their enemies '' Far Left Watch
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:05
The increasingly violent antifa group, Red Guards Austin, is now calling for the formation of a ''Red Army''. In a recent blog post they published and shared from their Facebook account, this far-left extremist group said the following:
we encourage the formation of paramilitary organizations on two levels. The first being those who are mainly unarmed but are prepared and trained to carry out fist fighting or using blunt weapons like axe handles or flagpoles as well as shields and basic armoring. The second level is the more advanced embryo of a Red Army, which is trained militarily and operates as soldiers all the time, engaging in production and mass work among the proletariat and the oppressed nation's people.
They then advocate for sustained ''physical confrontation'' against anyone they believe to be a fascist:
It is time for Austin to stand up, to shake off bad leadership trying to impose itself on antifascism and come together under a better model of actual resistance and not token performance. When we organize and lead actions the fascists do not march every step they take is met with physical confrontation and they are bombarded from all sides.
They conclude this post by reaffirming their commitment to terrorism and say they are prepared to ''annihilate'' people they believe to be ''fascists'' or ''collaborators'':
On the basis of our principled united front work, fascists and their collaborators can be drowned out, run out, routed, beaten bloody, and even annihilated. These are our principles and we aim to hold them to the very finish.
This militant rhetoric is a continuation of previous statements from this cell which include open calls for ''revolutionary violence'' and ''armed resistance''. This antifa group is just one of many violent communist cells now openly operating across the country. We have previously reported on similar cells here, here, and here.
Like many antifa groups, Red Guards Austin uses social media to recruit, radicalize, and mobilize other far-left extremists. This particular cell has almost eight thousand Facebook followers. While big tech companies have been systematically censoring conservatives and right-of-center influencers, violent far-left groups are free to openly violate the Terms of Service for these platforms without any consequences.
If you are an Austin resident and you are concerned that this armed, violent, extremist group might present a threat to you or your family, we strongly encourage you to contact the FBI. Make sure to include our report in your message.
The mission of Far Left Watch is to investigate, expose, and combat far-left extremism. Please share this article via Twitter, Facebook, etc. and encourage friendly media and YouTube content creators to report on this information.
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Trump called this White House defender 'wonderful.' He was fired from his previous job for alleged sexual harassment.
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:16
August 22, 2018 at 7:54 PM
Paris Dennard, a conservative commentator recently lauded on Twitter by President Trump, speaks on the red carpet of the State of Black America town hall at the Howard Theatre in 2017 in Washington. (Cheriss May/Sipa/AP)A conservative commentator who was
laudedby President Trump this week as ''wonderful'' and who has argued that past sexual indiscretions should have no bearing on Trump's presidency was fired from Arizona State University four years ago for making sexually explicit comments and gestures toward women, according to documents and a university official.
An internal investigation by the university concluded that Paris Dennard, a surrogate during the campaign and now a
memberof the President's Commission on White House Fellowships, told a recent college graduate who worked for him that he wanted to have sex with her. He ''pretended to unzip his pants in her presence, tried to get her to sit on his lap, and made masturbatory gestures,'' according to a university report obtained by The Washington Post.
According to the 2014 report, Dennard did not dispute those claims but said he committed the acts jokingly. The investigation began after the woman and a second female employee told superiors Dennard's actions went too far and had made them uncomfortable.
Dennard, a CNN political commentator, opinion contributor to the Hill, and regular guest on NPR's ''Here & Now,'' was working at the time as events director for ASU's McCain Institute for International Leadership.
Dennard's firing from ASU has not been previously reported. An ASU official on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of the report, which includes a summary of an interview that investigators conducted with Dennard.
Shortly after The Post published this article Wednesday night, a CNN spokeswoman said the network was suspending Dennard while it reviews the allegations.
In an email exchange with The Post, Dennard declined to answer specific questions about the investigation or his departure from the McCain Institute. He said he had not seen the full report and ''was led to believe'' it was ''sealed and proprietary.''
''I cannot comment on items I have never seen regarding allegations I still believe to be false,'' Dennard wrote. ''This is sadly another politically motivated attempt to besmirch my character, and shame me into silence for my support of President Trump and the GOP.''
The Post provided Dennard with excerpts of the report summarizing the university's allegations and findings. The report contains extensive responses from Dennard. It does not name the women involved.
On Monday, Dennard drew praise from Trump for a
heated exchangeon CNN with Philip Mudd, a former counterterrorism official with the CIA and the FBI. Mudd grew visibly angry during the exchange when Dennard accused officials such as him and former CIA director John Brennan of profiting from their security clearances after leaving government.
''Just watched former Intelligence Official Phillip Mudd become totally unglued and weird while debating wonderful @PARISDENNARD over Brennan's Security Clearance. Dennard destroyed him but Mudd is in no mental condition to have such a Clearance,'' Trump tweeted about the exchange, which first aired last week.
Dennard, 36, has been active in national Republican Party politics since 2000, when as a teenager he
spoke at the Republican National Conventionwith then-vice presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney applauding in the audience.
In 2005, after graduating from college, he worked as an intern in the White House political affairs office and parlayed the spot into a full-time job. By 2007, according to a biography on his website, Dennard was working with the White House's advance team and had been named White House outreach director to the black community.
He then worked at the Republican National Committee as associate director of coalitions, according to his biography, before joining the McCain Institute in the fall of 2013.
Dennard was an early and outspoken supporter for Trump during the 2016 campaign. Combined, he has appeared on CNN and NPR over 100 times, often defending Trump on everything from his record of false statements to rolling back race-based admission policies to using a
vulgar wordto describe Haiti, El Salvador and African nations.
In December, Trump appointed Dennard to the commission on White House fellowships, which selects those who will work in the White House for one of the nation's premier public service programs.
ASU's 13-page investigative report describes a series of inappropriate incidents often initiated by Dennard with the two women in 2013 and 2014. The second woman said Dennard would sometimes throw things at her and that she caught Dennard looking at her breasts. When she tried to adjust her blouse, he said ''Don't worry, I've already seen it.'' Dennard acknowledged making the comment, or something similar to it, according to the report.
Dennard also admitted to touching the first woman's ''neck with his tongue,'' according to the report. In that instance, Dennard ''came up behind EMPLOYEE 1 during another [McCain Institute] event and whispered in her ear that he wanted to 'f---' her.''
The report says Dennard and one of the women socialized outside the office and engaged in ''banter of a sexual nature.''
Even so, it says, Dennard ''engaged in much of this behavior in the workplace and/or during work events. Such conduct, of course, is inappropriate .'‰.'‰. unprofessional and unbecoming of a university employee, and in violation of ASU policy.''
The report concludes that Dennard was found to have engaged in ''serious misconduct.'' He was placed on administrative leave at the outset of the investigation in fall 2014 and was ''involuntarily separated'' from his post in early 2015, according to a university official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel matter.
The women are quoted in the report saying they did not want him to lose his job but feared him returning. ''We all know what it's like to be on [Dennard's] bad side '-- he will make your life miserable,'' one said. ''What if he comes back to the office? What if he comes to an event? Does he know where I live?''
Dennard's departure was announced internally at a McCain Institute meeting in 2015, according to two people who were there, but the reason for his departure was not made public and he went on to become an increasingly sought-after commentator.
In another
sharp exchangeon CNN earlier this year over Trump attorney Michael Cohen's ­then-alleged payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels, Republican strategist Rick Wilson blasted Dennard for saying the actions were irrelevant because they were from before Trump was president. ''The fact that you're defending him,'' Wilson said, ''speaks much more about your character and what low standards you have.''
Dennard fired back: ''You can dig up dirty laundry and I pray to God that nobody goes back in your past and picks up something that has nothing to do with your present time as sitting here as a commentator.''
Aaron Davis is an investigative reporter who has covered local, state and federal government, as well as the aviation industry and law enforcement. Davis shared in winning the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2018.
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Steven Tyler Demands Trump Stop Playing Aerosmith Songs at Rallies '' Variety
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:13
Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler is demanding President Donald Trump stop using the band's songs at rallies, like the one held at the Charleston Civic Center in West Virginia on Tuesday (August 21). The band's 1993 hit ''Livin' on the Edge'' was played as Trump devotees entered the venue, which has a capacity of 13,500. Tyler has in turn sent a ''cease and desist'' letter through his attorney Dina LaPolt to the White House accusing the President of willful infringement in broadcasting the song, which was written by Tyler, Joe Perry and Mark Hudson.
Citing the Lanham Act, which prohibits ''any false designation or misleading description or representation of fact '... likely to cause confusion '... as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person,'' Tyler's attorney contends that playing an Aerosmith song in a public arena gives the false impression that Tyler is endorsing Trump's presidency.
The matter has come up previously with another Aerosmith song, ''Dream On,'' which Trump used during his 2015 election campaign. Following a similar letter stating, ''Trump for President needs our client's express written permission in order to use his music'' and that the campaign ''was violating Mr. Tyler's copyright,'' BMI drove the point home and pulled the public performance rights for the song. Public performance rights for ''Livin' on the Edge'' are administered by ASCAP.
During the rally, President Trump spoke about immigration, trade and politics, peppered with his usual banter about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Earlier in the day, Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime former personal attorney, pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts in federal court on Tuesday, including campaign finance violations related to payments made to women who claim to have had affairs with Trump.
Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, was also found guilty Tuesday on eight of 18 counts in his federal trial over fraud charges. The case involved work Manafort did on behalf of a pro-Russian government in Ukraine. Shortly after the verdicts were announced, President Trump told reporters: ''I feel badly for Paul Manafort'' and called him ''a good man.''
On Sunday, Aerosmith was among the top-billed acts on the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, joining Post Malone and 21 Savage for the show's closing performance, a medley of ''Dream On'' and ''Toys in the Attic.''
Read portions of Tyler's letter to the White House below:
It has come to our attention that President Donald J. Trump and/or The Trump Organization (collectively, ''Mr. Trump'') have been using our client's song ''Livin' On The Edge'' in connection with political rally events (the Rallies''), including at an event held yesterday at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia on August 21, 2018. As expressly outlined in the Previous Letters, Mr. Trump does not have our client's permission to use any of our client's music, including ''Livin' On The Edge''.
What makes this violation even more egregious is that Mr. Trump's use of our client's music was previously shut down, not once, but two times, during his campaign for presidency in 2015. Please see the Previous Letters sent on behalf of our client attached here as Exhibit A. Due to your receipt of the Previous Letters, such conduct is clearly willful, subjecting Mr. Trump to the maximum penalty under the law.
As we have made clear numerous times, Mr. Trump is creating the false impression that our client has given his consent for the use of his music, and even that he endorses the presidency of Mr. Trump. By using ''Livin' On The Edge'' without our client's permission, Mr. Trump is falsely implying that our client, once again, endorses his campaign and/or his presidency, as evidenced by actual confusion seen from the reactions of our client's fans all over social media. This specifically violates Section 43 of the Lanham Act, as it ''is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person.''
Further, as we have also made clear, Mr. Trump needs our client's express written permission in order to use his music. We demanded Mr. Tyler's public performance societies terminate their licenses with you in 2015 in connection with ''Dream On'' and any other musical compositions written or co-written by Mr. Tyler. As such, we are unaware of any remaining public performance license still in existence which grants Mr. Trump the right use his music in connection with the Rallies or any other purpose. If Mr. Trump has any such license, please forward it to our attention immediately.
In addition, Mr. Tyler's voice is easily recognizable and central to his identity, and any use thereof wrongfully misappropriates his rights of publicity. Mr. Trump does not have any right to use the name, image, voice or likeness of our client, without his express written permission.
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San Francisco "Poop Patrollers" Make $185,000 | Zero Hedge
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 12:43
We wish we could say this was a satire piece, but a new story in the San Francisco Chronicle reveals just how lucrative collecting shit actually is.
It's but the latest in a string of shocking revelations to hit headlines throughout the summer exposing how deep San Francisco's crisis of vast amounts of vagrant-generated feces covering its public streets actually runs (no pun intended).
We detailed last week how city authorities have finally decided to do something after thousands of feces complaints (during only one week in July, over 16,000 were recorded), the cancellation of a major medical convention and an outraged new Mayor, London Breed, who was absolutely shocked after walking through her city: they established a professional "poop patrol".
Image source: AP via PJ MediaAs described when the city initially unveiled the plan, the patrol will consist of a team of five staffers donning protective gear and patrol the alleys around Polk Street and other "brown zones" in search of everything from hepatitis-laden Hershey squirts to worm-infested-logs. At the Poop Patrol's disposal will be a special vehicle equipped with a steam cleaner and disinfectant.
The teams will begin their shifts in the afternoon, spotting and cleaning piles of feces before the city receives complaints in order "to be proactive" in the words of the Public Works director Mohammed Nuru, co-creator of the poop patrol initiative.
While at first glance it doesn't sound like the type of job people will be knocking down human resources doors to apply for, the SF Chronicle has revealed just how much each member of this apparently elite "poop patrol" team will cost the city: $184,678 in salary and benefits.
The surprisingly high figure is buried in the middle of the SF Chronicle's story on Mayor London Breed's morning walks along downtown streets with her staff, unannounced beforehand to her police force and department heads so she can view firsthand what common citizens endure on a daily basis.
After quoting Mayor Breed, who acknowledges, ''We're spending a lot of money to address this problem,'' the following San Francisco Public Works budget items are presented:
A $72.5 million-a-year street cleaning budget$12 million a year on what essentially have become housekeeping services for homeless encampments$2.8 million for a Hot Spots crew to wash down the camps and remove any biohazards$2.3 million for street steam cleaners$3.1 million for the Pit Stop portable toilets$364,000 for a four-member needle teamAn additional $700,000 set aside for a 10-member, needle cleanup squad, complete with it's own minivanAnd crucially, there's now "the new $830,977-a-year Poop Patrol to actively hunt down and clean up human waste."
The SF Chronicle casually notes in parenthesis, "By the way, the poop patrolers earn $71,760 a year, which swells to $184,678 with mandated benefits."
Screengrab via KTVU San Francisco Though we're sure the city's giant $11.5 billion budget can handle the burgeoning clean-up costs, likely to blow up even further, we're not sure how property owners paying hefty land and sales taxes which have soared over the past years will react.
Sh*tty policies lead to sh*tty consequences. Just like Mayor de Blasio and the NY Crazy Council, San Francisco thought it was a good idea to decriminalize public urination and defecation. Now they have to spend nearly $1M to clean up poop. https://t.co/pjWNCVwMVO
'-- Nicole Malliotakis (@NMalliotakis) August 14, 2018And with limited spots open on the new poop patrol team, and at a salary and benefits package approaching $200K, we can imagine people might give second thought to the prospect of shoveling shit on a professional basis.
Perhaps the only question that remains is, what kind of resum(C) does one have to have to rise to the top of pile?
CNN contributor Paris Dennard suspended after old sexual misconduct reports surface
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 11:44
CNN announced that they have suspended contributor Paris Dennard after it was reported he was fired from a previous job for sexual misconduct.
According to The Washington Post, Dennard was terminated from his job at Arizona State University in 2014 ''for making sexually explicit comments and gestures toward women, according to documents and a university official.''
While working as events director at the university's McCain Institute for International Leadership, The Washington Post said that Dennard told a recent graduate who worked for him that he wanted to have sex with her. A university report said that he ''pretended to unzip his pants in her presence, tried to get her to sit on his lap, and made masturbatory gestures.''
Dennard was praised by Donald Trump for criticizing Phil Mudd, a former counterterrorism official with the CIA. He worked for Trump during his presidential campaign and is a member of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. In addition to being a CNN contributor, he wrote for The Hill and appeared on NPR's Here & Now as a regular guest.
Exclusive: Aramco IPO halted, oil giant disbands advisers - sources | Reuters
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 11:40
LONDON/RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has called off plans for the domestic and international listing of state oil giant Aramco, billed as the biggest stock flotation in history, four senior industry sources said on Wednesday.
Financial advisers working on the planned listing have been disbanded as Saudi Arabia shifts its attention to a proposed acquisition of a ''strategic stake'' in local petrochemicals maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp, two of the sources said. [nL8N1UE4VF]
''The decision to call off the IPO was taken some time ago, but no-one can disclose this, so statements are gradually going that way - first delay then calling off,'' a Saudi source familiar with the IPO plans said.
''The message we have been given is that the IPO has been called off for the foreseeable future,'' said a second source, a senior financial adviser.
''Even the local float on the Tadawul Stock Exchange has been shelved,'' that person said.
Early on Thursday, Saudi Arabia's energy minister issued a denial that the IPO had been called off.
''The government remains committed to the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, in accordance with the appropriate circumstances and appropriate time chosen by the Government,'' Khalid al-Falih said in a statement.
Falih said Riyadh had taken measures to prepare for the listing and the timing would depend on factors including favorable market conditions.
The proposed listing of the national champion was a central part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's reform drive aimed at restructuring the kingdom's economy and reducing its dependence on oil revenue.
The prince announced the plan to sell about 5 percent of Aramco in 2016 via a local and an international listing, predicting the sale would value the whole company at $2 trillion or more. Several industry experts questioned whether a valuation that high was realistic, which hindered the process of preparing the IPO for the advisors.
A third industry source said the IPO had been called off for the time being but that it could be revived in future, if appropriate.
''It has been postponed until further notice,'' the source said.
Stock exchanges in financial centers including London, New York and Hong Kong have been vying to host the international tranche of the share sale.
FILE PHOT: An Aramco employee walks near an oil tank at Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia May 21, 2018. Picture taken May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File PhotoAn army of bankers and lawyers have competed to win advisory roles in the IPO, seen as a gateway to a host of other deals they expect to flow from the kingdom's wide privatization program.
International banks JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and HSBC, were working as global coordinators, boutique investment banks Moelis & Co and Evercore were chosen as independent advisers and law firm White & Case as legal adviser, sources had previously told Reuters.
More banks were expected to be named but no bookrunners were formally appointed despite banks pitching for the deal.
Lawyers, bankers and auditors are all essential in the drafting the prospectus, a formal document that provides essential details on the company.
Aramco had a budget which it used to pay advisers until the end of June. This has not been renewed, one of sources said.
''The advisers have been put on standby,'' a fourth source, a senior oil industry official, said.
Sources have previously told Reuters that in addition to the valuations, disagreements among Saudi officials and their advisers over which international listing venue to be chosen had slowed the IPO preparations.
Slideshow (2 Images) Reporting by Clara Denina, Alex Lawler, Marwa Rashad and Rania El Gamal; Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin; Editing by David Evans, Toni Reinhold and Nick Tattersall
FACT CHECK: Trump's Misguided Defense Of Cohen Payments : NPR
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 11:34
President Donald Trump speaks to the media on Tuesday in Charleston, W.Va., shortly after the guilty plea of his former lawyer Michael Cohen on campaign finance violations, among other charges, and the guilty verdict against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption
toggle caption Alex Brandon/AP President Donald Trump speaks to the media on Tuesday in Charleston, W.Va., shortly after the guilty plea of his former lawyer Michael Cohen on campaign finance violations, among other charges, and the guilty verdict against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Alex Brandon/AP Fox & Friends was the natural venue for President Trump to strike back against Michael Cohen. The former self-described "fixer" for Trump had said under oath, before a federal judge, that he and Trump had violated the campaign finance law together.
The problem was the hush payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels. During the campaign, each had taken a six-figure payment that kept their claimed affairs with Trump out of the public eye.
Where did those payments come from? "They didn't come out of the campaign," Trump told Fox anchor Ainsley Earhardt. "In fact my first question when I heard about it was did they come out of the campaign, because that could be a little dicey. And they didn't come out of the campaign."
''Later on I knew. Later on."On @foxandfriends, @POTUS said that "later on" he knew that former attorney Michael Cohen made hush-money payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, and insisted the money did not come from campaign funds. pic.twitter.com/nChRG2VhVl
'-- Fox News (@FoxNews) August 23, 2018Trump was making the wrong argument. Like many of us, he seemed to misunderstand the relevant provision of campaign finance law. In fact, the president might be better off if his campaign had supplied the hush money.
Here are five questions (and answers) about President Trump and the legal problems with those hush payments.
1. What exactly did Cohen plead to?
He violated a law that basically says campaign expenses must be paid with regulated, disclosed contributions.
First, Cohen arranged for a friendly tabloid publisher to give McDougal a $150,000 contract (not that it would publish what she wrote). Then, he set up a shell company to pay Daniels $130,000. The pressure was on. Daniels got her money less than two weeks before Election Day.
In court, Cohen said he did all of this at Trump's direction. He was later reimbursed and generously compensated by the Trump Organization.
2. What makes these payments illegal?
It's not complicated. The publisher's contract amounted to a corporate campaign contribution, but corporations cannot contribute to campaigns. Cohen's payment to Daniels amounts to a personal contribution from him to the campaign. But it was for $130,000; the legal limit is $2,700.
3. Does this argument hold up?
Prosecutors seem to have checked all the boxes. It's a reversal from 2012, when the Justice Department deployed the statute in the high-profile trial of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. Two of his campaign's wealthiest backers supplied money to support his mistress and their child. DOJ alleged the money helped support his presidential bid by keeping them out of the spotlight. Edwards argued he was trying to hide them from his wife, not the voters.
But in the Cohen case, the intent is clear.
"These payments were being made to stop Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal from going public and hurting the campaign right before the election," said Larry Noble, a former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission. "That was the purpose. That's what makes the money spent a campaign contribution."
4. Is Trump really culpable?
This is the clincher. Cohen said Trump told him to do it. There could have been an Edwards-style defense, that Trump needed to shield his wife Melania Trump and his children from embarrassment. But Cohen told the judge he arranged both contributions, at Trump's direction, "for the principal purpose of influencing the election."
Trump said on Wednesday that he found out about the payments "later on," but Cohen earlier produced a recording where he's apparently discussing the payment to McDougal ahead of time.
Law professor Rick Hasen, who specializes in campaign finance law, said the Justice Department may have wanted to make the case public now "so people could evaluate it, for whatever it's worth, in deciding how to vote in the next election."
5. Could Team Trump have handled this legally?
Campaign finance reports are rife with vague disclosures of expenditures. The campaign probably could have tucked the hush money into a disbursement marked "legal fees," and no one would have noticed.
Or Trump could have just paid those bills himself. A candidate can spend without limit on their own campaign.
One other thing: Obama
As Trump often does, he defended by attacking after Cohen's appearance. Trump tweeted: "Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!"
Here's the story behind the tweet. In 2012, the Federal Election Commission audited President Obama's 2008 campaign committee and issued fines totaling $375,000. That's a substantial fine for the FEC, but not record-setting. The violations included delays in refunding contributions that exceeded the legal limit, and incorrect date stamps on contributions transferred between committees.
2 people killed, one injured in knife attack near Paris - police '-- RT World News
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 11:30
Two people have been killed and one seriously injured after a man, reportedly wielding a knife, attacked passersby in a Paris suburb. Security forces have "neutralized" the attacker, according to police.
Police confirmed that an operation has been completed in Trappes commune, not far from Versailles.
RTL adds, citing police sources, that the suspect was inside a pavilion shouting: "Allahu akbar, if you enter I will blast you all."
He was shot by police and succumbed to his injuries, BFM TV reports. The attacker was previously known to security services and was listed on the national security threat list, known as Fiche S, for incitement to terrorism, local media report.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, according to terrorists-affiliated website Amaq. The statement did not provide any evidence.
Meanwhile outlets reported that the two victims are believed to be the assailant's mother and sister.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb expressed his condolences to the victims and their families on Twitter and said that the investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
Credit Suisse freezes $5bn in Russian money in compliance with US sanctions '-- RT Business News
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 11:27
One of Switzerland's largest banks, Credit Suisse has suspended 5.1 billion francs ($5 billion) in assets linked to Russia as a result of Washington's sanctions against the country.
There is reportedly growing fear among Western banks of reprisals from the US for working with targeted Russian individuals and entities.
The bank froze the funds in the second quarter of 2018, according to Reuters.
In an e-mailed statement to RT, Credit Suisse denied freezing Russian assets, explaining that it has reclassified assets of some Russian clients. The bank said that it works with international regulators wherever it does business to ensure compliance, including sanctions involving Russia.
''Following recent US sanctions and given US regulatory restrictions, Credit Suisse reclassified certain impacted assets from Assets under Management to Assets under Custody,'' the statement read.
Read more
''This reclassification does not represent a freezing of the assets. In addition, non-sanctioned clients were not affected by the re-classification. Neither did this result in any financial loss or provision.''
Credit Suisse says it remains highly committed to Russia and continues to monitor developments.
The Zurich-based Credit Suisse owned aircraft surrendered by Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska before the sanctions, and had also lent money to businessman Viktor Vekselberg.
Switzerland has been one of destinations for money leaving Russia. According to data from the Russian central bank, around $6.2 billion, or 14 percent of total Russian cross-border outflows, went to Switzerland in 2017.
Other Swiss banks, including UBS and Julius Baer, told Reuters they also respected international sanctions. The banks, however, declined to say whether they had taken similar asset-freezing operations.
''UBS ... implements worldwide at least the sanctions currently imposed by Switzerland, the UN, the EU and the US,'' said a spokesman for the bank.
A spokesman for Julius Baer said it ''cooperates with international regulators... in the field of sanction regulations.''
The fear among banks stems from facing possible huge penalties from Washington. In 2014, France's BNP Paribas agreed to pay a record $8.9 billion for violating US sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section
'Shut the f**k up, I'm with NASA now': Scientist loses internship over Twitter blue streak '-- RT US News
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 11:24
A not-so-tactful scientist has seen her dream of joining NASA snatched away after she posted several foul-mouthed messages to Twitter while celebrating getting an internship at the space agency.
The woman, known as Naomi H, turned the social media platform blue this week after sharing the news of the job offer with the world.
''Everyone shut the f**k up. I got accepted for a NASA internship,'' she wrote.
READ MORE: Polar ice on Moon raises hopes for lunar colony with water (PHOTOS)
Her tweet earned a reply from former NASA engineer and member of the National Space Council Homer Hickam, who gently chastised her for her turn of phrase.
''Language,'' Hickam wrote.
''Suck my d**k and b***s I'm working for NASA,'' replied Naomi.
''And I am on the National Space Council that oversees NASA,'' Hickam shot back.
Apparently @NaomiH_official lost her internship over this and some think that's appropriate because professionalism etc.She's not a professional, she's a not-even-intern excited about joining NASA. If she's not professional, teach her. No need to advance-wreck her career ðŸ'– pic.twitter.com/kpXY3lycRs
'-- rebecca roache (@rebecca_roache) August 21, 2018The exchange later went viral, forcing Naomi to make her account private. Her followers later revealed that NASA had withdrawn the offer, a turn of events for which many fingers of blame pointed at Hickam. This, he later said on his blog, was entirely the wrong interpretation.
''This I had nothing to do with nor could I since I do not hire and fire at the agency or have any say on employment whatsoever,'' Hickam wrote in a blog post Tuesday. ''As it turned out, it was due to the NASA hashtag her friends used that called the agency's attention to it long after my comments were gone.''
READ MORE: Cosmonauts accidentally break RT 360 GoPro camera during eight-hour spacewalk
Hickam is an aeronautics legend who was the subject of the film 'October Sky,' in which he was played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He said Naomi had apologized for her blue streak and added that he was trying to secure her another position in the aerospace industry.
Some commentators on Twitter were quick to say she got exactly what her language deserved. Others, meanwhile, were a little more forgiving.
If she applied to an internship at NASA, and didn't know who Homer Hickam is, she's not smart enough to work at NASA. Nor does she show the proper judgment to work for an organization of that caliber.
'-- JD (@Sta7ic) August 21, 2018NASA had already decided she was smart enough to work at NASA
'-- rebecca roache (@rebecca_roache) August 21, 2018Prime example that not everything belongs on social media. She could just as easily have said that out loud -or even thought it- and kept it moving.
'-- Bre'Anna (@yes___ifell) August 21, 2018I can't believe this is even an argument. If an employer learns that someone they hired isn't going to represent them in a professional way then they absolutely have the right to release that individual. It is not their job to train someone to be respectful and professional
'-- Blake Meservy (@blake_meservy) August 21, 2018Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
From erasure to opportunity: a qualitative study of the experiences of transgender men around pregnancy and recommendations for providers | BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth | Full Text
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 04:51
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth BMC series '' open, inclusive and trusted 2017 17 (Suppl 2) :332
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-017-1491-5
(C) The Author(s). 2017
Published: 8 November 2017 Abstract BackgroundSome transgender men retain their uterus, get pregnant, and give birth. However, societal attitudes about gender have erected barriers to openly being pregnant and giving birth as a transgender man. Little research exists regarding transgender men's reproductive needs. Anecdotal observations suggest that social change and increasing empowerment of transgender men may result in increasing frequency and openness about pregnancy and birth. Specific needs around conception, pregnancy, and newborn care may arise from transphobia, exogenous testosterone exposure, or from having had (or desiring) gender-affirming surgery. We undertook a qualitative study to understand the needs of transgender men who had given birth.
MethodsWe interviewed 10 transgender men who had been recruited for a recently published online cross-sectional survey of individuals (n = 41). Subjects had given birth while identifying as male. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and systematically coded. Analysis used a priori and emergent codes to identify central themes and develop a framework for understanding participant experiences.
ResultsParticipants reported diverse experiences and values on issues including prioritization and sequencing of transition versus reproduction, empowerment in healthcare, desire for external affirmation of their gender and/or pregnancy, access to social supports, and degree of outness as male, transgender, or pregnant. We identified structural barriers that disempowered participants and describe healthcare components that felt safe and empowering. We describe how patients' strategies, and providers' behaviors, affected empowerment. Anticipatory guidance from providers was central in promoting security and empowerment for these individuals as patients.
ConclusionsRecognizing diverse experiences has implications in supporting future patients through promoting patient-centered care and increasing the experiential legibility. Institutional erasure creates barriers to transgender men getting routine perinatal care. Identifying this erasure helps shape recommendations for how providers and clinics can provide appropriate care. Specific information regarding reproduction can be helpful to patients. We provide recommendations for providers' anticipatory guidance during the pre-transition, pre-conception, prenatal, and postpartum periods. Ways to support and bring visibility to the experience of transgender men are identified. Improving clinical visibility and affirming gender will likely enhance patient experience and may support patient-centered perinatal healthcare services.
KeywordsTransgenderPregnancyStigmaTranssexualFemale-to-maleReproductionLactationBackgroundTransgender men are individuals who identify as men but were assigned female sex at birth (Table
1
for definitions of terms). Many transgender men, and other gender nonconforming individuals, retain their ovaries and uterus as well as the capacity to become pregnant. Indeed, some of these men are becoming pregnant and giving birth [
1
]. While some research and guidelines have been published regarding the gynecologic care of transgender men [
2
''
4
], there has been little investigation into the fertility and pregnancy-related needs of this population [
5
]. Transgender people, as a group, have faced disempowerment via stigma, discrimination, and bias, as well as experiencing numerous health disparities [
6
]. As a historically underserved group, transgender people warrant attention from researchers and providers in terms of identifying and addressing their particular barriers and needs [
2
]. Kabeer characterizes empowerment as movement away from disempowerment, ''
'...empowerment is about change, it refers to the expansion in people's ability to make strategic life choices, in a context where this ability was previously denied to them'' [
7
]. In addition to the many forms of disempowerment faced by most transgender individuals, there are specific restrictions on transgender individuals' reproductive choices. Some jurisdictions have required that individuals be sterilized in order to attain legal recognition of their gender [
8
]. In this context, the very act of choosing to have children as a transgender man is an act of empowerment. Navigating the details of this process involves countless further strategic life choices, many of which occur in the face of disempowering factors.
Table 1Definitions of terms
Transgender ('trans'): Having a gender identity that differs from the sex assigned at birth (e.g. identifying as male, and having been assigned 'female' at birth.)
Cisgender: Having a gender identity that matches the sex assigned at birth (e.g. identifying as female, and having been assigned 'female' at birth.)
Cissexism/Transphobia: the values, attitudes, and actions that value cisgender individuals' lives and experiences over those of transgender individuals. Examples include: seeing being transgender as bad; violence against individuals who are (perceived as) transgender; making things more difficult for transgender people than cisgender people, etc.
Despite societal gains toward the empowerment of transgender individuals, there remains ongoing violence against this population. Violence here is conceived broadly, encompassing economic, legal, medical, psychological and physical violence. Outside of healthcare settings, stigma disempowers transgender individuals by producing barriers to economic opportunity, exposure to physical violence, and chronic stressors [ 9 ]. Within healthcare settings, stigma leads to inadequate information on the part of providers, as well as individual mistreatment of patients [ 9 ]. These, in turn, can lead transgender men to avoid seeking care or avoid disclosing medically relevant information [ 6 ]. This violence and disempowerment has an ongoing cost for the health and wellbeing of transgender individuals [ 6 , 10 , 11 ].
This population's health disparities and increased barriers to care are partly perpetuated by structural forces within healthcare. In addition to widespread stigma, these structural forces include inadequate research and insufficient educational and institutional attention to the needs of this population (collectively termed erasure) [ 2 ].
Erasure, transphobia, and violence likely produce barriers to appropriate reproductive care for transgender people, though how this plays out is not well understood [ 5 ]. Additionally, transgender individuals likely have specific needs pertaining to fertility, conception, pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period compared to the general population. These needs could arise from the biomedical effects of prior or intended exogenous hormone use or gender-affirming surgeries [ 5 ]. Cultural and structural features of our society and institutions likely produce unique needs for this population, including anti-transgender stigma, strongly gendered norms around pregnancy, institutional structures that do not recognize the possibility of a transgender man becoming pregnant, and lack of research and available information for providers or patients [ 10 , 12 ]. Psychosocially, transgender men may have specific needs arising from their relationship with their gender identity, body dysphoria, or others' perceptions of their pregnant body [ 5 , 12 ].
We aim to identify some of the needs of transgender men in the family planning process and during the peripartum period, as well as the ways they have achieved empowerment, opportunities for supporting their further empowerment, and priorities for further investigation through a systematic qualitative study.
MethodsTheoretical frameworkThis study used a grounded theory approach [ 13 ] to explore the experiences of transmasculine individuals' experience with pregnancy through focused, semi-structured interviews with 10 participants. Because little is known about this topic from research or theory, grounded theory allowed inductive pattern finding through structured qualitative data collection and analysis.
ParticipantsParticipants were recruited for interviews from a pool of prior participants of an online convenience sampled survey of transmasculine individuals who had given birth, conducted in 2013 [ 1 , 14 ]. Inclusion criteria were 18 years or older, self-identification as male before pregnancy, pregnant within the last 10 years, and the ability to complete the survey in English. Eligibility criteria did not require participants to have undergone any type of medical (e.g., testosterone use) or surgical (e.g., bilateral mastectomy) transition intervention [ 1 ]. After completing the survey, participants could opt for future contact for further studies. Of the 41 participants in the original survey, 23 gave follow-up contact information and were invited to participate in subsequent interviews. Thirteen responded, of which one was deemed ineligible. Interviews were conducted, over a 2-month period, until theoretical saturation was reached at 10 interviews. Interview order was based on response speed.
InterviewsInterviews were conducted online, using the video remote-conferencing software program BlueJeans for eight interviews and two were conducting using audio only. The lead author (AH) conducted all interviews. Participants were emailed a consent form 2''4 days before the interview, which was reviewed aloud at the beginning of the interview to obtain verbal consent. Interviews followed a semi-structured format. Closed-ended demographic questions were also administered at interview end. Participants were compensated with a $35 Amazon gift card or PayPal payment, according to participant preference. Participants could choose to have their contact information destroyed or retained to facilitate distribution of published study results.
AnalysisInterviews were recorded, professionally transcribed, and coded using Dedoose qualitative analysis software. Two transcripts, selected purposively for diversity of content, were coded using a priori codes, and emergent codes were identified and applied. Emergent codes were reviewed by three researchers to produce the final code set, and then all transcripts, including the initial transcripts used for code-development, were (re)coded using the final code set. Two of these transcripts were fully coded by a second researcher, and reviewed by two more, for validation of coding reliability. No major differences of interpretation arose, indicating a high level of coding reliability.
Because of the small sample size in this study, the fact that not all interviews covered all the topics, and the likely selection bias due to convenience sampling, we chose not to present any quantitative data such as frequency counts.
ResultsDiversityA central finding was the wide variation within the population of transgender men giving birth, along many axes of difference, including identity, reproductive intent, fecundity and gamete source, need for affirmation of identity and pregnancy, social support, degree of outness, and priorities and sequencing of transition and reproduction.
IdentityInclusion criteria for this study required patients to identify as male at the time of their pregnancy. Participants in this study described themselves, variously, as 'male,' 'man,' 'female-to-male,' 'transman,' 'trans man,' 'transgender man,' 'transmasculine,' 'nonbinary,' and 'on the transmasculine spectrum.' Some participants had a clear preference, and others were comfortable with a variety of terms.
Reproductive intentParticipants described their pregnancies as, variously, strongly desired, necessary to build a family, or unintended. Some unintended pregnancies occurred after male identification but prior to any medical or surgical transition, ''I first started questioning my gender at about age 19'... when I was 20 I talked to a doctor about [testosterone], and was waiting to get that started [when] I accidentally got pregnant.'' Some chose pregnancy as a tolerable means to become a parent, ''but if I want to reproduce, that is the only way I can do it. So I agreed this - if I could do it another way, I would maybe do it another way, but I don't have the option,'' while some enthusiastically desired pregnancy, ''I always knew that I wanted to have kids, and that I would be giving birth to my own kids.'' No participants reported serious consideration of terminating their pregnancy or of seeking healthcare related to elective termination.
Fecundity and gamete sourcesThere was variable fecundity; participants had had one to four pregnancies, with one to three live births. Participants conceived using sperm from committed partners, sexual partners with whom they had no intent to have a long-term relationship, known donors, and anonymous donors. All participants conceived using their own oocytes.
Access to social supportParticipants' social support ranged from robust to minimal and tenuous. For some, their pregnancy was a very isolating experience: ''
I just lost everybody.'' While others found abundant support and affirmation from family, friends, and strangers:
''In the queer community and the leather community'... I had an overwhelmingly positive reaction'... When it was really obvious that I was a pregnant tranny, I actually received a lot of positive love and affection from queer strangers'...and I actually had strangers stop and ask if they could hug me and thought that it was beautiful.''
Some participants directly cited their supportive communities as a source of resilience against the challenges they faced,
''If I hadn't had positive reactions [from family] in the very beginning of my transition'... I would have been far more self-questioning, and less strong in standing up to [others] who wanted to tell me something that wasn't true.''
A particular source of support for several participants was the Facebook group ''Birthing and Breastfeeding Trans People and Allies'' ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/449750635045499/ accessed April 2015). Several participants reported that pregnancy and parenting support organizations for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people were ill-equipped to support transgender parents.
Need for identity and pregnancy affirmationNeed for affirmation of gender identity was also highly variable. For some, being seen and treated as male '' with consistent use of male names and pronouns '' was critical to their sense of emotional safety and wellbeing. Others were minimally bothered by being misgendered. Similarly, for some, it was important that they be seen as pregnant. Others did not want their pregnancy known or acknowledged by anyone other than their close loved ones and medical providers.
''I just didn't like leaving the house at all because I knew that I was going to be read as pregnant female, and it just ugh. After I'd worked so hard the past couple of years to get [people to see me as male].''
''[I wanted] support from my community'... so I told my coworkers and my synagogue [that I was pregnant]. I wrote an email'... and it was really nice, how ridiculously excited they were for me.''
Degree of outnessVisibility and 'outness' had to be considered in two domains. The choice of whether and how to be 'out', or visible as pregnant and/or transgender, played out in complex ways for the participants. Participants described a mix of strategies in navigating degree of outness, and most of the participants employed several of these strategies, varying by setting, whom they were with, and time during the pregnancy. The three most common strategies were (1) passing as a cisgender woman (i.e., one who identifies as a woman and was assigned female sex), (2) going stealth, and (3) being out and visible.
Strategy 1, passing as a cisgender woman (acting so as to incline others to think one is a cisgender woman), increased external affirmation of the pregnancy, but decreased external affirmation of male gender, as reported in the original online survey preceding these interviews [
1
]. This strategy increased some participants' feelings of safety, and decreased their exposure to transphobic violence,
''[I was] intentionally trying to be inconspicuous and fly below the radar. I wanted to be able to present as male, but I made that decision [to present as female] at that time because I was afraid.''
At times it appeared that this strategy came at the expense of increasing dysphoria due to passing as a gender that does not align with their sense of self.
Strategy 2, going stealth (acting so as to incline others to think one is a cisgender male), increased external affirmation of gender and decreased exposure to transphobic violence, but also decreased external affirmation of the pregnancy. By not being visible as pregnant, some benefits were missed, including social support, physical assistance, and external affirmation. Those who pass as cisgender male report being consistently ''
perceived as a fat man and never as a pregnant woman.'' It sometimes surprised participants how invisible their pregnancies were:
''People could not process my masculine appearance with pregnancy'... How can [this cashier] think that I'm male when I'm eight-and-a-half months pregnant? This is really crazy. But I look around and I'm like, oh, because I look exactly like all these other fat guys with beer bellies who were at this plant show, like middle-aged fat guys. That's what we look like.''
''I was really pleasantly surprised by how easily people saw me as a fat man '' I thought I would be really struggling to be read as male, and I wasn't, at all.''
Strategy 3, being out and visible (acting so as to incline others to see one as transgender), may increase internal affirmation,
''I find that when I try and normalize myself or act normal or be more normal than I am, I become really uncomfortable and unhappy. And it doesn't help anyone. So, yeah, just sort of doing it my own way and knowing that I was doing it my own way was a really helpful strategy.''
Being visible as trans men allowed for affirmation on three axes, namely of their gender as male, as trans, and of their pregnancy. However, some participants worried that it would expose them to more transphobic violence and discrimination, which was the main reason for employing strategy 1.
Prioritizing transition or pregnancy?Among many participants, there was a tension between pursuing their reproductive goals and their transition goals. One participant deferred initiating testosterone therapy for over a decade until after child bearing because of uncertainty regarding testosterone and potential impairment of high priority reproductive prospects ''If they can't give me better information about having babies, then I'm not going to start testosterone. So, in that way, it [the decision to delay hormone therapy] was easy to make, but it was difficult to accept.'' Another participant knew from childhood that he wanted to bear children, but held medical transition as a higher priority, so he initiated testosterone as soon as possible, despite believing it might impair future conception and pregnancy, stating, ''I still had a desire to have children one day, I just started testosterone because I felt it was necessary for me to socially transition that way. Having children was an issue for the future.''
Some participants felt confident, based upon knowing the stories of other men who had given birth, that testosterone would not impair their ability to get pregnant, ''I had read [about another trans man] who had gotten pregnant after years on testosterone'... So I was never really afraid I wouldn't be able to.'' They chose their timing of testosterone and pregnancy independently, when they were ready for each. Some participants only began considering pregnancy after having already initiated testosterone.
Sequencing of transition relative to pregnancyThere was a diversity in how participants sequenced pregnancy and transition.
Social transitionSome become pregnant before transitioning socially, some while they were living part-time as male, and some had been living as male for over a decade before becoming pregnant.
TestosteroneSome participants became pregnant without having previously taken testosterone, and some had been taking testosterone and stopped taking it in order to become pregnant. Of those who had not taken testosterone before pregnancy, some had started to take it afterward, some intended to start but had not yet, and some did not intent to start.
Genital surgeryNone of the participants had genital surgery prior to their pregnancies. Some had genital or reproductive organ surgery (metoidioplasty, phalloplasty, and hysterectomy) after pregnancy.
Chest surgerySome participants had had no chest surgery prior to their pregnancies. Others had had chest reduction, with a mix of surgical techniques. Of those without prior chest surgery, some chose to nurse their child ''I fed both my kids mammal-style until they were one,'' and some did not. Of those with prior chest surgery, some produced sufficient milk and fed their child for over 6 months, some swelled but did not lactate, and some experienced no swelling or lactation.
Structural barriers, erasure, and transphobiaParticipants described myriad challenges and barriers to care throughout their process of reproductive planning, conception, pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period. Most of these barriers can be attributed to erasure and/or transphobia.
'Pregnant man' as unintelligibleOne pervasive way erasure functioned to disempower participants was to produce a discourse in which the notion of a pregnant man was unintelligible. ''They could not make sense of the concept at that time of being male and pregnant.'' For participants themselves, the absence of any models of transgender men choosing pregnancy was profoundly disempowering, ''that was the thing that I most wanted, was to be aware that some other people were doing it.'' Those with even one example cited it as immensely affirming of their choices and experiences. ''I had seen a documentary where a trans guy was pregnant'... so that helped me roll with it when I did get pregnant'... by accident.''
Lack of biomedical information and provider trainingThere is a dearth of biomedical research and education on the lives and issues of concern to transgender people in general. This applies even more so to issues of reproduction. Participants described frustration with the lack of information on the short-term and long-term effects of testosterone on reproductive organs, ease of conception, pregnancy outcomes, mental health, and lactation. These pervasive questions directly disempowered patients through limiting information useful in informed decision-making. For example, the above participant delayed childbearing for a decade while waiting for information about the effects of testosterone. This lack of information was experienced as coming from paltry research and/or inadequate provider training. One participant articulated the importance of providers ''differentiat[ing] between 'I don't know' and 'science doesn't know'.''
Per participant perceptions, this lack of information also interacts with individual providers values. Some participants perceived women's health providers as unwilling to treat transgender male patients.
''I had heard many times over that [providers] felt uncomfortable with me. And just as a blank statement, I can only read into what that means. But they also said that they didn't have anything to refer to. [A transgender male patient seeking pregnancy] was too new and too different for them, and they didn't have studies to look at. They didn't know if this was safe, none of that. So I think that they were afraid of helping, and getting it wrong, in addition to feeling uncomfortable.''
This participant perceived the provider's decision (choosing not to provide care) as the consequence of both inadequate information and personal discomfort, where neither alone would necessarily have led to that decision.
Lack of cultural competencyParticipants reported a long list of ways that providers and medical staff demonstrated a lack of cultural competence in their interactions. Prime examples of mistreating patients due to lack of cultural competency included:
Addressing the patient with the wrong title or pronoun, ''this one [clinic], it was always 'miss' this and 'her' that.''
Calling the patient by their legal name rather than the name they use, ''she called me by my legal name, which is not the name I use.''
Presuming to know the shape of a patient's genitals by their name or face,
Ignoring intake forms that ask patients' gender, ''they even asked gender and preferred name on their intake form, but the person who called me back, and the doctor, never looked at it.''
Presuming that a patient has, or should have, a given relationship with their body ''This midwife'... forced me to reach inside and touch my babies head, even though I clearly didn't want to.''
And discussing gender identity as though it is sexual orientation.
Participants described comments that were probably intended to be affirming or positive, but had the effect of tokenizing or objectifying them, ''many people said 'Oh, you're so amazing'...' [they] were really trying to be kind and reach out to me. I just felt kind of tokenized.'' An example is being told, ''you should be on Oprah,'' by a nurse in the middle of an intimate procedure.
TransphobiaParticipants describe ''getting laughed at'' by providers and nurses, having providers ''make references'...to bad fiction'... about trans women,'' and nurses refusing to see them. One patient described a fertility specialist who ''just thought I was too masculine to get pregnant.'' Another was denied lactation coaching in the hospital.
Participants described such events as ''
transphobic.'' Recounted experiences centered around rudeness, which was more or less overt. Consider this description of a physician conveying a new diagnosis of a medically urgent ectopic pregnancy and the subsequent treatment steps:
''It's in the way he talks to you. It's in the things that he says. It's in the things that he doesn't say. And I could tell that this physician was creeped out by me. He didn't need to say it.''
In addition to rudeness, participants experienced a pathologization of being transgender. For participants, this came across when being transgender was seen as a problem. Several participants reported social services threatening or attempting to remove their children from their care, even before the birth and in one case lasting years afterward.
''Social Services [said] 'we're deeming you as a risk to your child, and we're going to try and get a court order to take her off you on the basis of neglect'.''
Inappropriate medical carePatients reported that some providers performed seemingly unnecessary physical exams '' especially pelvic exams '' and asked questions that felt prurient, exotifying, voyeuristic, and superfluous to the patient's care. ''The doctor asked me some weird questions that didn't have to do with the [reason I was there], but with my [genitals].''
One participant described an example of how the specter of transphobia can act as a barrier to appropriate care:
''I had a wound on my finger that did not heal for 6 months, while I was breastfeeding'... The first doctor I told that I was trans, and that I was breastfeeding, and that I could not take any medicine that would harm the child. Then he asked me some weird questions that didn't have to do with the wound, but with my being trans and breastfeeding a baby. So I went to another doctor. I did not tell I him was trans, so I did not tell [him] that I breastfed'... I got some medicine, which evidently goes into the milk and would harm the baby. So I tried to take these medicines. The baby got sick. I stopped taking the medicines, and I decided to go to a third doctor'... [In all,] I went to see five different [doctors]. This is why I hardly ever go to see a doctor now.''
In this case we see a patient receiving what they see as inappropriate medical care due to provider unfamiliarity with the patient's obstetric history and current breastfeeding. In attempting to access appropriate and comfortable care, the patient incurred an extra burden in time and resources. Moreover, the patient's repeated experiences with care that they perceived to be culturally inappropriate served as a deterrent to the patient seeking further care.
Another participant said, ''I never really wanted to do a home birth'... I was only going to have a home birth just out of fear of how the hospital wouldn't be able to deal with me.'' Here, we see a patient avoiding the hospital and changing care potentially for less support, during a medically intense time '' labor '' out of fear of transphobia, discrimination, and invasive experiences.
Some participants were denied reproductive care because of provider attitudes about their gender,
''I went to this doctor'... to sign the form to get donor sperm'...and he made me see the clinic psychologist to gauge whether or not I'd be fit as a parent. And so she saw me and [my spouse]. And then after that it went to their ethics board, and the ethics board said that they weren't going to treat us. So [the doctor] turned us away.''
Other participants who live their lives as 'out' men discussed how they pretended to be women in order to avoid such barriers at sperm banks and clinics. As a private service, sperm banks are allowed to determine whether or not to provide sperm to any given client, based upon that bank's judgment and many require prior medical approval from a physician [ 15 ]. These participants perceived, through personal experience, 'word of mouth,' or general caution that sperm banks are likely to deny sperm to a client who does not meet their norms for prospective parents. Some clients opted to reduce their risk by ''let[ting] them think I was female'' and ''I didn't want to risk a problem, when I could avoid it, and the stakes were my ability to get pregnant'...''
Some transgender men even experienced barriers to care from providers who provide gender-affirming care (i.e., hormones and surgery), stating that they had to conceal their reproductive goals in order to receive appropriate gender-related care. One participant noted: ''Then they would definitely think you are not really trans if you still want to have a baby, [and] so they would not [give you hormones].'' Here, participants perceived that providers' norms (i.e., that only women choose to become pregnant) would lead providers to deny care to transgender men because of their reproductive intent.
Institutional erasure ''But mostly just don't make assumptions. That's the main thing, if you would just not make assumptions. And I guess that sounds kind of weird to probably a lot of people who treat pregnant women. Because they're like, what do you mean? If someone's pregnant, then they must be a woman. I'm like, no, that's actually not true. So I think like if you could get people to grasp that, then you'd have made a lot of progress.''
Many OB/GYN spaces ''feel like they only cater to women giving birth'...and that made me feel alienated.'' This was true in the physical space and decoration as well as education materials with mottos, pamphlets, posters, etc. Many participants noted that they had challenges even with physical space wherein clinics only had restrooms for women. This is in keeping with other literature on the topic [ 3 , 16 , 17 ].
Participants described information systems that did not have the capacity to account for a man needing services traditionally ascribed to female-only patients, in several ways. First, men who needed obstetrical (e.g., prenatal or post-partum care) or gynecological services (e.g., pap smears, cervical sexually transmitted infection testing) often faced challenges with booking or billing for those services, because of how computer and filing systems were managed. Second, many record systems did not have the capacity to differentiate between a patient's legal name and the name they should be called. Third, although some clinics had intake forms on which patients could accurately report their gender, participants reported that many providers did not refer to these forms during visits. Finally, most men in this study reported that it was difficult or impossible to be listed as 'father' on their child's birth certificate, despite this being their parental identity. Some had to undertake a legal battle, or even adopt their own children, in order to be legally recognized as a father. Overall, participants felt that these combined conditions conveyed the message that their lives could not exist within the system, and their identities did not matter.
Positive experiences with healthcare providersWhile many participants experienced mistreatment throughout the healthcare system, many also reported having positive healthcare experiences. Positive experiences were characterized both by the presence of positive features in clinical encounters (e.g., privacy, gender affirmation, and normalization) and by the absence of aversive features (e.g., misgendering, invasive questions, or exotification).
Participants consistently described the use of their appropriate name and pronouns as fundamental to feeling safe. A few patients described whole healthcare teams who were consistently good about this,
''And they were, like, super-conscientious about it. Like we were off on the side where people wouldn't be barging in. And they were consulting me before anybody came in the room. And they were using the right pronouns. And they were not weird about it. They didn't ask me any weird questions. It was just unbelievable. I was just kind of blown away at how good they were about it.''
This participant perceived their treatment to be exceptional and described this in direct contrast to their more common experiences with care that was much less gender affirming.
Naming and normalizing the patient's gender can be valuable, if it can be done genuinely:
''I walked in and the doctor who I saw, like, the very first one, she was, like, 'Look, you're not the first pregnant guy we've had. So don't worry about that'...' I just really prefer if healthcare providers can act as though it's not exceptional or weird to be trans.''
Additional safety seemed to come from explicitly not identifying transgender experiences as exotic or medically unique, as one participant noted:
''I '... really dislike it when people are like, 'So, that must be so interesting to be trans'.''
Participants spoke highly of providers who responded well to being outside familiar territory, either medically or culturally, ''She took it upon herself to educate herself, '... and learned what she could before my next visit.'' They appreciated when providers did not expect their patients to teach them, but listened and learned when the patient did teach. Providers built trust by differentiating between what they themselves did not know and what medicine in general did not know. When providers could not find satisfying evidence-based guidance '' such as whether it is safe to start taking testosterone while still breastfeeding '' some providers were good at discussing the uncertainty with their patient, and jointly evaluating risks. This is in contrast to other providers whose style of approach seemed to be that of reflexively ruling out any approach that had a hypothetical risk.
One participant observed a common feature of providers with whom he had good interactions. ''[They are] appreciative of the fact that their regular day-to-day routine is shaken up a little bit. As opposed to freaked out.''
Many reported having had one provider (often a primary care provider or obstetrician) with whom they had a good relationship. These same participants continued to note difficulty with other providers, such that having a good provider did not attenuate other experiences but did delineate between some positive and negative patterns of interactions in the ways they were treated.
A common theme was the participants' difficulty in identifying in advance a provider with whom they could have a positive relationship. Some successfully found good providers through community networks or health organizations specifically serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Some happened upon a provider who was initially not well informed, but who was able to build a good relationship and pursue guidance on how to provide medically and culturally appropriate care. However, some struggled to ever find providers with whom they felt safe. On the whole, although participants wanted their providers to be able to answer all their biomedical questions about transgender-specific situations, what they cared about more was being accepted and respected for who they were.
Anticipatory guidance throughout the family planning processParticipants described a number of ways in which they were surprised by their experience, and frequently offered advice or information they wish they had received early in their process. One common theme was that, when patients are seeking care for transition (hormones or surgery), their providers should initiate discussions about reproductive options. Participants wished they had had better information about fertility preservation (e.g., egg cryopreservation or embryo preservation) early in their decision-making. They also wanted information on the impact of gender-affirming procedures (both medical and surgical) on future reproductive health and function (e.g., the effects of chest reconstruction on lactation, the effects of testosterone on future fertility, and the ability to carry a pregnancy). Patients wanted a general description of options and known and unknown impact of these procedures but also wanted to understand the specific logistics around fertility preservation procedures. They also stressed that this information should not only come from reproductive health providers but from those who were initiating and/or facilitating gender-affirming procedures. For example, ''The egg freezing, the embryo freezing, it has to come from the transition providers.'' ''I wish they had talked to me about what to do if I wanted to get pregnant, when they gave me T [testosterone].''
Another common theme was unanticipated emotional experiences associated with stopping testosterone, being pregnant, and/or the postpartum period. For some, these shifts in emotions were entirely unanticipated, and others still found them challenging even if they suspected they might occur. Many participants experienced a stable mood throughout the processes of discontinuing testosterone, being pregnant, and the postpartum period. Some described a very positive experience, ''
being pregnant'... I just felt great.'' Some of the participants who had been on testosterone reported struggling with emotional changes after stopping testosterone, while pregnant, and/or in the postpartum period.
''Healthcare professionals need to know that postpartum depression needs to be talked about more, and it really needs to be talked about with trans men who plan on having babies and plan on breastfeeding, meaning that they won't be getting back on testosterone to level out the hormones. Because that roller coaster was an insanity you cannot describe.''
These participants wished that someone had advised them that such moods might happen. They also expressed a desire for normalization and contextualizing these moods as part of rapid hormonal changes and not a sign of some other medically concerning problem.
''I hated being pregnant. It was just awful'... The thing that helped the most'... is my friend saying 'it's okay to hate being pregnant, it doesn't mean you're a bad parent'....' It helped me be okay with it'...''
While this may be true for any pregnant patient, many participants linked their prior testosterone use and their tenor of emotional experience surrounding pregnancy. Many participants had no memory of being advised about postpartum depression before giving birth, or of having discussed it with providers afterward, and felt ill-equipped to differentiate depression from less concerning mood swings.
''By then I had seen a lot of providers, and no one had discussed postpartum [depression] with me. I thought it was normal until [my family member] told me I was sick and needed to see someone.''
OptimismParticipants perceived a recent rapid increase in the incidence of transgender men getting pregnant. This increasing visibility was often tied to optimism and hope, insofar as increasing familiarity with the topic among providers would make it easier for other transgender men in future pregnancies.
''I think today it's better because there are more people coming forward giving birth, and it's not such a mind blower like it was when my pregnancy came up. Now that it's out there, it's like, yeah, we've seen this before. And more people are supportive.''
''Times are changing, and there are a lot of gay [transgender men] out there, some of whom are getting pregnant.''
''Ten years ago I probably would have been sent to a psych ward to have my baby taken away. But ten years from now I hope that things will be even better than [they were for me]. This really [will] become normalized.''
DiscussionEmpowermentThe act of choosing to visibly bear children as transgender people '' as men '' is growing in social visibility. These are acts of empowerment, in that they overcome barriers that have previously denied reproductive choices to transgender individuals. The barriers to full choice are myriad, and participants in this study overcame them in ways large and small, in choosing to bear children, and in the many ways they navigated specific barriers.
Sequencing of surgical, medical, and social transitions relative to pregnancyGiven the range of transition goals of transgender people in general [ 18 ], the range of priorities for transition versus pregnancy, and the mix of intentionality of these pregnancies, it follows reasonably that transgender people will become pregnant at different times relative to social, medical, and surgical components of transition. Our participants reflected this diversity. Sequencing major life events such as transition and childbearing is a critical strategic choice. Participants' agency in making different and personalized choices is an encouraging indicator of their empowerment. Providers and others aiming to facilitate the empowerment of transgender men around pregnancy, should encourage and support those individuals in whatever strategic choices they make.
While all the participants in this study eventually did socially transition, after their pregnancy if not before, some transgender individuals choose not to transition (i.e., they identify as a gender other than their assigned sex, but they continue to live as their assigned gender). It is likely that some men who give birth will not transition, so providers and others should inquire about individual patients' goals and expectations (e.g., not assume that a male-identifying patient with female-assigned sex will choose to live as male).
It is worth noting that, while no one in our study became pregnant while taking testosterone, we cannot rule out that possibility in others. Additionally, there are reasons other than desiring pregnancy that some transgender men stop taking testosterone, such as barriers to accessing it, or fluidity of identity and goals. Therefore, a patient discontinuing testosterone should not be taken as a definitive indication of desiring conception. Such a patient should be informed that they will likely resume ovulation, and may become pregnant depending on engagement with penile-vaginal intercourse and whether contraception is being employed.
While a hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy (without subsequent estrogen and progesterone supplementation) would prevent any future pregnancies, other procedures used as part of gender affirmation, such as metoidioplasty, scrotoplasty, or phalloplasty, would not impede pregnancy, and further research is needed on whether they affect the prognosis for successful vaginal delivery.
Variation in participants' ability to lactate after having had chest surgery likely reflects the different surgical approaches. Variation in a transgender man's choice to chestfeed/breastfeed or not likely represents a range valuation of the benefits of chestfeeding, as well as the effect on the parent's own physical, mental, and social health and capacity to lactate or not. An individual's ability to make a meaningful strategic life choice relies on their being properly informed of the likely consequences of those choices. Providers play an essential role supporting empowered partnership-based medical decision-making in addressing the question of future lactation with their patients considering chest surgery.
If a transgender man is chestfeeding/breastfeeding (or pumping and feeding the child that milk), the provider should help them evaluate the possible risks to the child against the benefit of testosterone to the patient. Ruling out taking testosterone while nursing, regardless of the benefit to the parent, is an approach that implicitly values an unknown and possibly small effect on the child [
19
] over a known significant benefit for the parent. These relative risks and benefits as well as the medical uncertainty around these decisions should be presented to and discussed with patients with an eye towards global harm reduction. Table
2
presents the considerations regarding the intersection of hormonal and surgical transition with reproduction.
Table 2Reproductive considerations for medical and surgical transition
When discussing transition options with patients, discuss the reproductive consequences. These are salient points to cover:
Testosterone:
'ƒ- Testosterone should not be considered a form of contraception [1 ].
'ƒ- Patients should avoid getting pregnant while taking Testosterone '' it is considered a teratogen [5 ].
'ƒ- Conception and pregnancy can occur after even long-term testosterone use [1 ].
'ƒ- Testosterone likely decreases conception rate through ovarian suppression, however we can't currently quantify the direct impact on ovulation or conception rates.
'ƒ- If genetically related children are desired or potentially desired in the future, consider storing oocytes or embryos prior to initiating testosterone. (Note: ovarian tissue preservation is still considered experimental) [25 ''29 ].
'ƒ- Patients need to stop testosterone in order to pursue carrying a pregnancy.
'ƒ- If genetic children are desired after initiation of testosterone, testosterone should be stopped. The determination of whether and to what extent assisted reproductive technologies (ART) will be used will depend on the trans man's a) desire to carry the pregnancy, b) presence of normal menstrual cycle, and c) the desired method of joining sperm and egg [25 , 28 , 29 ].
Chest surgery:
'ƒ- Chest feeding may be possible after certain forms of chest reconstruction [5 , 30 ].
'ƒ- It is not possible to tell prior to attempting to chest feed whether this is possible based on type of surgery, chest anatomy etc.
'ƒ- Discuss the likely impact of various surgical approaches on ability to chest feed / lactate.
'ƒ- Discuss methods used by transgender men to chest feed after chest reconstruction.
'ƒ- Encourage the patient to discuss these issues with their surgeon (ideally prior to surgery).
'ƒ- Encourage lactation support if desired.
'ƒ- If chest feeding is not possible or not desired discuss other methods for infant feeding and bonding.
Genital surgery:
'ƒ- Metoidioplasty, scrotoplasty, or phalloplasty do not, by themselves, impair future reproductive options, but would likely necessitate a cesarean section for delivery.
'ƒ- Vaginectomy combined with hysterectomy and/or oophorectomy would eliminate the chance of future pregnancies. If patients might want biological children someday, they should consider storing oocytes, or embryos prior to genital surgery. Ovarian tissue preservation is still considered experimental [28 ].
Postpartum Testosterone: The effects of taking testosterone while lactating are unknown. There are possible risks to the child, but no clear evidence of harm. The benefits to the parent's mental, emotional, physical and social wellbeing are likely highly variable, and best evaluated by the patient.
- If a patient does resume or initiate testosterone while nursing, counsel them on how to look for signs of androgen exposure in the infant and encourage them to let their child's pediatrician know.
Structural barriers, erasure, and transphobia Pregnant man as unintelligibleOur findings demonstrate the widespread ways that discourse and norms shape people's responses to pregnant men, and the importance of awareness in improving the experience of those individuals. It is very difficult to make a particular strategic life choice, such as carrying a pregnancy, when one has no examples of others doing so. As a result, one may not even be able to conceive of this potential life choice as a personally viable option even if otherwise physically, emotionally, and socially feasible. The lack of visible examples of transgender men going through pregnancy and birth may also lead providers to feel uncomfortable or ill-informed resulting in difficulty providing appropriate care.
Our findings focused on barriers to health within healthcare delivery settings, but a critical barrier to transgender individuals' empowerment and health comes from outside of healthcare settings. Transgender people are exposed to high levels of individual and structural violence, which affects their health directly, and also affects how they may engage with medical care. This was reflected by many participants who noted the risks of physical violence against transgender people, as well as how legal discrimination leads to economic disempowerment, '''...the lawmakers who seem to be hell bent on making sure that I don't have an appropriate life, that I can't raise my kids, that I can't find a job that's willing to pay me.'' This speaks to the importance of legal and political protections for transgender individuals as part of furthering their empowerment in many areas of life, including reproduction and healthcare.
The limited scope and time spent on training about transgender health in most nursing programs, medical schools, and residency programs [
20
''
22
] creates a condition where participants feel they need to inform their providers about how to care for them. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that one in two transgender people needed to inform their providers on how to care for them [
6
]. In the absence of sufficient training, even the best-intentioned providers are likely to miss chances to provide medically and culturally appropriate care. Furthermore, less motivated providers are likely to make gross errors. More education and training is needed to improve the quality of care provided to trans patients and support their empowerment in medical settings. Table
3
provides suggested resources for furthering providers' education and Table
4
delineates features of the local regions that providers should be prepared to identify.
Table 3Resources for providers
- Guidelines on transgender men and pregnancy [5 ].
- Guidelines on transgender men and gynecologic care [3 ].
- ''LGBT Gender Nonconforming and DSD Health'' AAMC Video Series (at https://www.aamc.org/initiatives/diversity/learningseries/).
- Fenway Institutes LGBT healthcare guidelines [2 ].
- Trans Bodies, Trans Selves [31 ].
- UCSF Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, Guidelines for the Primary and Gender-Affirming Care of Transgender and Gender Nonbinary People (at http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/trans?page=guidelines-home
- Find local transgender or LGBT community centers, for trainings and referrals
- Note that resources that are good for LGB patients aren't necessarily good for transgender patients.
Table 4Questions for providers
- What resources do you have available to help potential parents through all aspects of pre-conception counseling, pregnancy, birth, lactation and early child-rearing for children growing up with transgender parents?
- What services are available to support assisted reproduction for transgender individuals in your area?
- What are the best options in your area for patients to find a good environment for labor and delivery? Which hospitals, birth centers, and midwifery practices are most likely to provide appropriate care? How can you help link your patient with these resources, and how can you serve as an ally to help these birth sites best serve your patient?
- What is the process for obtaining a birth certificate in your jurisdiction? How can you help patients to navigate this process in a way that affirms their identity?
Lack of cultural competencyWhile a lack of familiarity with the basics of transgender experiences and poor biomedical understanding of medical transition are distinct forms of erasure, they reinforce each other. A provider who was never been taught about transgender health may be less likely to see a transgender patient as a normal, reasonable human, and a provider with limited understanding of transgender identities may be less likely to seek out information about transgender health.
Literature on microaggressions suggests that biased behaviors, which, individually, seem of minor significance, can become powerfully aversive in the felt experience of someone who experiences these behaviors repeatedly [ 23 ]. For example, an individual provider misgendering a patient may seem a small error to the provider, while for the patient it may serve as a reminder of the thousands of times their identity has been denigrated. An important component of empowerment is access to healthcare in which patients are safe from such denigration.
TransphobiaOur participants' plethora of examples of mistreatment '' subtle and overt '' illustrate why some transgender people are distrusting and avoidant of institutional healthcare. Participants were misgendered, laughed at, and told they could not make good parents.
Most of our participants reported having to choose between either (1) concealing their identity and other medically relevant information in order to receive compassionate care, or (2) disclosing their identity and risking being subjected to invasive procedures and inappropriate questions that felt objectifying. When individuals cannot confidently exercise the option of being out and receiving appropriate care, they are disempowered. When patients face this tension, all parties are limited '' providers are likely to not get all the information they need from the patient to most comprehensively serve them and patients are unlikely to get the best care from the provider.
Positive experiences with healthcare providersThe positive experiences some participants described give reason for optimism. At the same time, the surprise that accompanied these stories highlight how much more work is needed. Appropriate care was seen as uncommon or exceptional, while patients perceived the norm as being uncomfortable, objectifying, or invasive.
Tables
5
and
6
provide recommendations on how to empower patients and enhance cultural competency within a medical practice and larger institution.
Table 5Recommendations for clinic setup and intake
- Consider the name of the clinic and how it is represented broadly as who gets services there. A ''women's clinic'' may not be the best title for a place that serves trans men and other gender expansive individuals.
- Physical Space:
'ƒo Ensure bathrooms are accessible to all. This means having non-gendered restrooms, not just male restroom and female restrooms. This may also mean having single use non-gendered restrooms.
'ƒo Ensure signage, magazines and pamphlets speak to people of diverse backgrounds in terms of race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
- Broadly display a non-discrimination statement. Examples can be found at here ( http://www.hrc.org/hei/sample-patient-non-discrimination-policies#.V0PlrVczyAY )
- Printed materials and signage:
'ƒo Ensure language used in your institution's literature, publicity, patient education materials, is welcoming to all people regardless of gender identity. Consider whether your clinical space suggests that women are the only people who get pregnant or are welcome at your clinic and take steps to rectify that.
- Staff Training and Procedures:
'ƒo Ensure all staff ask preferred name(s)/pronouns, document them, and use them consistently.
'ƒo Consider how patient check-in procedure and clinical space may be comfortable only for individuals who are female identified. Could you make it comfortable for individuals who are male identified or trans identified as well as female identified? Consider how people's names are used and documented and communicated between members of the care team.
'ƒo How is the phone answered? Teach staff to not assume gender from patient's voice or assume patient status or not from voice.
- Medical Records and booking:
'ƒo Make sure you can book, document, and bill OB/GYN procedures and encounters for someone whose gender signifier (in your system and/or the insurance records) is male.
Table 6Recommendations for clinical encounters
- Reflect the language patients use to describe their reproductive organs and bodies (e.g., chest feeding rather than breast feeding; or ''front hole'' instead of vagina)
- Plan to educate yourself, rather than relying upon your patient to teach you.
'ƒo See table on resources
- Be open to your patients' expertise and learning when they want to share.
- Explain why sensitive questions are relevant; ensure these questions are clinically meaningful and not motivated by idle curiosity.
- Continue to maintain good medical care and judgment, do not attend so entirely on being gender savvy that you neglect routine protocols.
Note: there is a long history of transgender people facing abuse, objectification, and neglect both within and beyond healthcare settings; this may frame your encounters.
Anticipatory guidance throughout the family planning processFindings suggest a persistent theme of informational isolation. Participants reported having to navigate many unknowns through informal networks and received little guidance from medical providers. Anticipatory guidance and affirmative normalization may empower patients through improving their relationships with their own process, supporting informed decision-making and improving patient-provider relationships.
Tables
7
and
8
outline the recommended topics to address with patients.
Table 7Recommendations for normalization
- Encourage provider and staff comfort with the prospect of male and masculine patients being pregnant and giving birth.
- Explicitly affirm transgender patients' reproductive choices.
'ƒo It may help some patients improve their relationship with their own experience.
'ƒo It may improve the patient-provider relationship.
- Specific points around which to enhance provider comfort and encourage normalization, include:
'ƒo The desire to be pregnant
'ƒo Choosing pregnancy before, concurrent with, or after transitioning medically, surgically, or socially
'ƒo The choice to continue or terminate a pregnancy
'ƒo The range of emotions patients may experience throughout the process of family creation
'ƒo The choices parents make about how to feed their infants
Table 8Recommendations regarding emotions and hormones
- Some men have significant shifts in their emotions when they stop taking testosterone, are pregnant, and during the postpartum period. This may be especially likely if they have been on testosterone previously.
- These changes may be felt as positive or as negative.
- Advise patients, at all stages, that they may experience such changes, and that if they do:
'ƒo They should seek help from you or others if in distress or at risk of hurting themselves or others.
'ƒo The quality of their emotional experience does not reflect upon their gender or the appropriateness of their pregnancy.
- Monitoring: be vigilant for post-partum depression, and discuss it with patients '' it may be exacerbated or altered by the patient's experience with hormones.
OptimismParticipants described a perception that the incidence of transgender people giving birth is increasing, and an optimism that this will bring about improving circumstances for transgender individuals experiencing pregnancy in the future. This perception could be strictly a change in visibility, but likely represents a true shift, perhaps driven by cultural changes making non-binary transition more legible, increasing legibility of being pregnant and male, and possibly by increasing numbers of people transitioning younger in life. This possible increase in incidence, combined with increasing visibility of transgender individuals nationally, may have us poised at the brink of a sea change in how healthcare providers and institutions care for their transgender obstetric patients. It is the considered hope of the authors that increasing awareness of the experience of yesterday's transgender patients will further the empowerment of tomorrow's.
Strengths and limitationsThis study was able to recruit enough members of an elusive population to meet conceptual saturation. We described a wide range of experiences in this population, with significant depth and texture. These findings are based upon the experiences of those who have themselves experienced pregnancy while male, giving voice to a topic not well represented in the literature.
Nevertheless, this study was limited to English speakers, and participants were entirely from the US (80%) or Western Europe. Furthermore, because of the original study inclusion criteria, the present study excluded transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals who did not identify as male, as well as those who did not have pregnancies resulting in live birth. We are also missing the experiences of transgender men who chose to never conceive, those who wished to conceive but were not able to, or those who conceived but whose pregnancies ended in miscarriage, abortion, or stillbirth. As other studies have shown, participants engaging in online studies are disproportionately educated and economically secure [ 24 ]. Additionally, since advertisements for the study were distributed through transgender websites and community centers, our sample may not represent those who are not connected to these services.
Future researchParticipants in this study expressed some clear values on research priorities, in particular a consistent aversion to research that sees their existence as something that needs to be explained or justified, e.g., ''I'm not interested in 'why some people are born trans and some people are not''' and ''We do not need to ask the questions, 'how do you dare to become pregnant, although you are a man?'''
Research is needed on the consequences of transition-related procedures (including testosterone and surgery) on future fertility, pregnancy, child health, and lactation. Additionally, understanding how transgender men who had given birth were navigating social relationships with their communities and their children is as of yet almost entirely unexplored. These investigations will help support making society and healthcare more safe and accepting for them.
Future research on this topic should attempt to more fully represent the experiences of individuals who have lower incomes, have completed less formal education, and are racial/ethnic minorities, as well as those who have not given birth, for a variety of reasons. Investigations into the pedagogy and efficacy of various training programs will help enable future advocates to better improve obstetric healthcare for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals.
ConclusionsThe primary set of findings of this study is the range of experiences and needs of patients. The first, and most central, element is that some of the people who need obstetric care are not women. Our findings revealed broad diversity in the experiences, circumstances, and degrees of empowerment of men who are pregnant and give birth. This study represents an illustration of the diversity of experiences and serves to familiarize readers with examples of what they may encounter. These findings should guide providers on what questions to consider, more than providing definitive information about any given transgender patient.
Given the rarity of truly adequate care reported by participants, providers should actively work to ensure that their teams and institutions are comfortable and competent in working with transgender patients. Conclusions regarding guidance to providers are presented.
DeclarationsAcknowledgmentsWe offer humble gratitude to our participants, who shared their wisdom and vulnerability with us. Alexis Light played a critical role in making it possible to recruit these patients. Laura Potter assisted with coding of transcripts.
FundingThis article is part of a special issue on women's health and empowerment, led and sponsored by the University of California Global Health Institute, Center of Expertise on Women's Health, Gender, and Empowerment. Research funds were provided by the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. The funder was not involved in the study design, collection or interpretation of data, or writing of the manuscript.
Availability of data and materialsThe data generated and analyzed during the current study are not publicly available due to participant confidentiality, but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Open peer reviewPeer review reports for this article are available in Additional file 1 .
Authors' contributionsAH, JOM, and JS participated in study design. AH secured funding. AH conducted all interviews. AH, JOM, and JS participated in establishing the codebook and coding. AH, JOM, and JS participated in analyses. AH drafted the manuscript, with significant contributions from JOM and JS. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Ethics approval and consent to participateThe research protocol and consent procedures were approved by the University of California San Francisco's Committee on Human Research (reference number 155110).
Consent for publicationFollowing our institution's best-practice guidelines for qualitative work with vulnerable populations, we obtained verbal rather than written consent for research and publication from our study participants.
Competing interestsThe authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Publisher's NoteSpringer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ ) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Additional files Authors' Affiliations (1)School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, 2926 Otis St., Berkeley, CA 94703, USA
(2)Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, 550 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA
(3)Department of General Internal Medicine, San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs, 4150 Clement Street, Building 18, 111A1, San Francisco, CA 94142, USA
(4)Center for Excellence in Transgender Health, University of California San Francisco, 550 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA
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The price of sperm: an economic analysis of the current regulations surrounding the gamete donation industry. J LAW Fam Stud. 2014;14:121. Google Scholar National LGBT Health Education Center. Ten Things: Creating Inclusive Health Care Environments for LGBT People. 2015. https://www.lgbthealtheducation.org/publication/ten-things/ . Accessed 19 May 2016. National LGBT Health Education Center and National Association of Community Health Centers. Taking Routine Histories of Sexual Health: A System-Wide Approach for Health Centers. 2013. https://www.lgbthealtheducation.org/publication/taking-routine-histories-of-sexual-health-a-system-wide-approach-for-health-centers/ . Accessed 19 May 2016. Forshee AS. Transgender Men: A Demographic Snapshot. J Gay Lesbian Soc Serv. 2008;20(3):221''36. View Article Google Scholar Glaser RL, Newman M, Parsons M, Zava D, Glaser GD. Safety of maternal testosterone therapy during breast feeding. Int J Pharm Compd. 2009;13(4):314''7. PubMed Google Scholar Obedin-Maliver J, Goldsmith ES, Stewart L, White W, Tran E, Brenman S, Wells M, Fetterman DM, Garcia G, Lunn MR. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender''related content in undergraduate medical education. JAMA. 2011;306(9):971''7. View Article PubMed Google Scholar Carabez R, Pellegrini M, Mankovitz A, Eliason M, Ciano M, Scott M. 'Never in all my years'...:' Nurses' Education about LGBT Health. J Prof Nurs. 2015;31(4):323''9. View Article PubMed Google Scholar Walsh D, Hendrickson SG. Focusing on the 'T' in LGBT: an online survey of related content in Texas nursing programs. J Nurs Educ. 2015;54(6):347''51. View Article PubMed Google Scholar Nadal KL, Davidoff KC, Davis LS, Wong Y. Emotional, behavioral, and cognitive reactions to microaggressions: Transgender perspectives. Psychol Sex Orientat Gend Divers. 2014;1(1):72''81. View Article Google Scholar Bethlehem J. Selection bias in web surveys. Int Stat Rev. 2010;78(2):161''88. 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Lanny Davis Obliterated CNN's 'Bombshell' Report About Michael Cohen And Trump Tower | The Daily Caller
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 03:46
CNN reported on July 27 that Michael Cohen is willing to tell investigators that Donald Trump authorized the infamous Trump Tower meeting with a group of Russians But Cohen's lawyer now says that bombshell report got ''mixed up'' Lanny Davis says that Cohen ''does not'' have information that Trump had prior knowledge about the meeting A CNN report in July that Michael Cohen has information that President Donald Trump was aware of the infamous Trump Tower meeting before it occurred got ''mixed up'' and was inaccurate, Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said Wednesday night.
''So Michael Cohen does not have information that President Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians beforehand or even after?'' CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Davis.
''No, he does not,'' replied Davis, a longtime Clinton insider who started representing Cohen earlier this summer.
Davis's bombshell statement severely undercuts a July 27 CNN report that Cohen was willing to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that he was in a meeting when Donald Trump Jr. told his father about an offer to meet with a group of Russians who wanted to provide dirt on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
According to CNN's anonymous sources, Trump approved the meeting, which took place on June 9, 2016. Democrats seized on the CNN report as evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
The report also opened up the possibility that Trump and Trump Jr. publicly lied about the Trump Tower meeting. Trump has said publicly that he did not know about the meeting until a year after it occurred. Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 that his father did not know about the meeting.
Davis said that the initial report was ''mixed up'' and that Cohen's legal team was unable to correct it because of an ongoing criminal investigation into the longtime Trump fixer. Cohen pleaded guilty on Tuesday in federal court in New York to tax evasion, bank fraud and making excessive campaign finance donations by arranging hush payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. (RELATED: Senators Say That Michael Cohen Stands By Testimony About Trump Tower)
''Well, I think the reporting of the story got mixed up in the course of a criminal investigation. We were not the source of the story. And the question of a criminal investigation, the advice we were given, those of us dealing with the media is that we could not do anything other than stay silent,'' Davis told Cooper.
WATCH:
Davis was asked about the Trump Tower report because of a statement issued on Tuesday by North Carolina GOP Sen. Richard Burr and Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the leaders of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The senators said in the statement that Cohen told the committee in October 2017 that he was not aware of the Trump Tower meeting until it was reported in July 2017. Burr and Warner said Cohen's legal team confirmed that the testimony was accurate.
Davis dealt another major blow to the allegations of Trump campaign collusion when he said in an interview with Bloomberg News that the Steele dossier's allegations about Cohen are ''false.''
''Thirteen references to Mr. Cohen are false in the dossier, but he has never been to Prague in his life,'' Davis said.
The dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, alleged that Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 as part of a ''clandestine'' operation to collude with Kremlin insiders to influence the 2016 election. Dossier author Christopher Steele claimed that Cohen arranged payments to hackers to carry out the scheme.
''Never, ever, ever in Prague,'' Davis reiterated in an interview on MSNBC later Wednesday.
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Social networks to be fined for hosting terrorist content '' Naked Security
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 03:42
The European Commission is done with waiting for social platforms to voluntarily fix the problem of extremist content spreading via their technologies. On Sunday, the Financial Times reported that the EC's going to follow through on threats to fine companies like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for not deleting flagged content post-haste.
The commission is still drawing up the details, but a senior EU official told the FT that the final form of the legislation will likely impose a limit of one hour for platforms to delete material flagged as terrorist content by police and law enforcement bodies.
The EC first floated the one-hour rule in March, but it was just a recommendation at that point: something that the EC let companies implement voluntarily to the best of their abilities.
Or not, as the case may be. Although the one-hour rule was only a recommendation at the time, companies and member states still had requirements they needed to meet, including submitting data on terrorist content within three months and on other illegal content within six months.
Whatever tech companies have done to satisfy those requirements, the EC isn't happy with it. Julian King, the EU's commissioner for security, told the Financial Times that Brussels hasn't ''seen enough progress'' from the platforms and that it would ''take stronger action in order to better protect our citizens''.
We cannot afford to relax or become complacent in the face of such a shadowy and destructive phenomenon.
The recommendations that came in March followed the commission having promised, in September, to monitor progress in tackling illegal content online and to assess whether additional measures were needed to ensure such content gets detected and removed quickly. Besides terrorist posts, illegal content includes hate speech, material inciting violence, child sexual abuse material, counterfeit products and copyright infringement.
Voluntary industry measures to deal with terrorist content, hate speech and counterfeit goods have already achieved results, the EC said in March. But when it comes to ''the most urgent issue of terrorist content,'' which ''presents serious security risks'', the EC said procedures for getting it offline could be stronger.
Rules for flagging content should be easy to follow and faster, for example. There could be fast-tracking for ''trusted flaggers,'' for one. To avoid false flags, content providers should be told about decisions and given the chance to contest content removal.
As far as the one-hour rule goes, the EC said in March that the brevity of the takedown window is necessary given that ''terrorist content is most harmful in the first hours of its appearance online.''
The proposed legislation will have to be approved by the European Parliament and a majority of EU member states before being finalized as law. King told the FT that the new law will help to create legal certainty and would apply for all websites, big or small:
The difference in size and resources means platforms have differing capabilities to act against terrorist content, and their policies for doing so are not always transparent. All this leads to such content continuing to proliferate across the internet, reappearing once deleted and spreading from platform to platform.
The tech companies have protested the one-hour rule, saying it could do more harm than good. In fact, the FT reports, some parts of the commission believe that self-regulation has been a success on the platforms that terrorists most like to use to spread their messages.
In April, Google pointed to success in artificial intelligence (AI) -enabled automatic content takedown: during its earnings call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in prepared remarks that automatic flagging and removal of violent, hate-filled, extremist, fake-news and/or other violative videos was having good results on YouTube.
At the same time, YouTube released details in its first-ever quarterly report on videos removed by both automatic flagging and human intervention.
There were big numbers in that report: between October and December 2017, YouTube removed a total of 8,284,039 videos. Of those, 6.7 million were first flagged for review by machines rather than humans, and 76% of those machine-flagged videos were removed before they received a single view.
Back in March, EdiMA, a European trade association whose members include internet bigwigs such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, acknowledged the importance of the issues raised by the EC but said it was ''dismayed'' by its recommendations. EdiMA described it as ''a missed opportunity for evidence-based policy making''.
Our sector accepts the urgency but needs to balance the responsibility to protect users while upholding fundamental rights '' a one-hour turn-around time in such cases could harm the effectiveness of service providers' take-down systems rather than help.
The trade group also pointed out that it's already shown leadership through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism and that collaboration is underway via the Hash Sharing Database.
Here's what Facebook told TechCrunch at the time:
We share the goal of the European Commission to fight all forms of illegal content. There is no place for hate speech or content that promotes violence or terrorism on Facebook.
As the latest figures show, we have already made good progress removing various forms of illegal content. We continue to work hard to remove hate speech and terrorist content while making sure that Facebook remains a platform for all ideas.
One EU official told the FT that the EC's push for an EU-wide law targeting terrorist content reflected concern that ''European governments would take unilateral action.''
German lawmakers last year OKed huge fines on social media companies if they don't take down ''obviously illegal'' content in a timely fashion. The new German law gave them 24 hours to take down hate speech or other illegal content and imposed a fine of '‚¬50m ($61.6 million) if they don't.
The German law targets anything from fake news to racist content. But the FT reports that with the one-hour rule, the EU is specifically targeting terrorist content, leaving it up to the platforms to determine which content violates the rules when it comes to areas that are less black and white, including hate speech and fake news.
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Asia Argento and 17-Year-Old Boy in Bed in Sexual Encounter | TMZ.com
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 20:20
Asia Argento In Bed with 17-Year-Old Boy ... In Sexual Encounter
8/22/2018 1:00 AM PDT EXCLUSIVE
Asia Argento says she did not have sex with then 17-year-old Jimmy Bennett, but a photo and various text messages between Argento and a friend tell a very different story ... she flat-out says she had sex with him.
This is one of 4 photos Bennett, now 22, took in a Marina del Rey hotel room back in 2013. The then 37-year-old Argento and Bennett are on a bed shirtless, their heads on a pillow and their arms entangled. Sources tell TMZ the pic was taken after the 2 had intercourse. It's a crime in California for an adult to have sex with a person under 18.
Bennett later threatened legal action and, in April, Argento settled with him for $380,000 ... which her boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, paid.
Argento released a statement Tuesday, saying, "I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett."
Above are partial text exchanges between Argento and one of her friends. Argento and the friend went back and forth in the midst of the backlash from the New York Times story that ran Sunday about her and Bennett. Argento's messages are in grey ... her friend's are in blue.
Argento says Bennett wrote this note (above) on Ritz-Carlton stationary -- the hotel where they hooked up -- and said, "Asia, I love you with all my heart. So glad we met again and I'm so glad your in my life. Jimmy." She texts her friend the note, saying, "He wrote me this afterwards and kept sending me unsolicited nudes all these years up until 2 weeks before the attorneys letter.
She goes on to say ... "it wasn't raped (sic) but I was frozen. He was on top of me. After, he told me I had been his sexual fantasy since was 12."
Argento has accused Harvey Weinstein of rape and is one of the first women to come forward in the #MeToo movement. Weinstein's lawyer, Ben Brafman, lashed out earlier in the week, saying, "This development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein."
As we reported, the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. is reaching out to Bennett to determine if a criminal investigation is warranted.
We reached out to Argento's lawyer ... so far, no word back.
Asia Argento Reportedly Denies She Sexually Assaulted 17-Year-Old : NPR
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 20:19
Actress Asia Argento, a prominent Harvey Weinstein accuser, has provided a statement to multiple media outlets denying that she sexually assaulted a minor. A New York Times report previously indicated that she paid $380,000 to the young man in question.
In legal documents that were leaked to the Times, Jimmy Bennett alleged that he and Argento had sex at a hotel when she was 37 and he was 17, beneath the age of consent in California. As a child, Bennett once played Argento's son in a film.
In a statement provided to journalist Yashar Ali and to The Guardian on Tuesday, Argento wrote, "I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett."
Bennett "unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me," Argento wrote. She said the decision to pay Bennett was made by her late partner, Anthony Bourdain, to avoid "possible negative publicity."
"We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett's demand for help and give it to him," she wrote. "Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life."
Meanwhile, the celebrity gossip site TMZ has published text messages it claims were sent from Argento to a friend, which appear to contradict the account Argento sent journalists. The alleged messages say the two had sex, which Bennett initiated, and that Argento didn't know he was a minor at the time.
NPR has repeatedly reached out to representatives of Argento and Bennett, with no response.
As we have previously reported, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is investigating the allegations.
How to copy Microsoft Outlook custom views to backup or share - Outlook Tips
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 19:27
Outlook has two types of views, a global views that is available to all folders of a specific types and a folder-only view, that is visible when you view only that folder. The global views (all folders) are stored in the default data files while the 'this folder only' views are stored in the folder. If you open an second pst file in your profile, only the 'this folder only' views stored in it are accessible.
Microsoft Outlook doesn't offer an easy method to backup or share custom views, and exporting the contents to a new pst does not include the views or custom forms.
You can save or share views using one of these methods in older versions of Outlook:
Copy the pst and remove all email, calendar and contacts from it. Create copies of all views (in the Define views dialog) choosing "for this folder only" views. Backup the pst '' views are contained in the folders in the backup. Like the method above, this doesn't work for sharing views, unless you make copies of all views in the Define views dialog.Add a new pst to the profile and copy views to it. Use this method to share views or backup views in an Exchange server mailbox.Copy or backup the pst file You can backup your views by copying the pst file. Create copies of all views (in the Define views dialog), creating "for this folder only" views. If you don't make copies 'for this folder only', the views will only be accessible when you use this pst file as a default data file.
If you are going to share the views with someone else, delete the Outlook items from the data file, leaving any folders that have custom views created for 'this folder only.
If you open a copy of your pst you created for backup purposes in your current profile, views that are "for this folder only" will be accessible in specific folders the views were created for. Any view that is for "all folders" will only be accessible if the backup copy is set as default data file in your profile.
If you use Export as your backup method, the views will not be exported. You need to copy the pst file. (Microsoft's PST backup tool creates a copy of the pst.)
Method 3: Copy views to a Views_backup.pstAdd a new pst to the (File, New, Outlook Data File)Add folders to the pst for each type of view you need to copy. (One folder each of Mail, Calendar, contacts, etc)Select the first new folder.Open the Define views dialogSelect the view you want to copy to the new pst and click Copy.Select one of the "This folder'..." optionsChange the view name, if desired.Click Ok.Repeat for each view you want to copy. Repeat for each folder type.
Restore Views To copy a view that was originally designed for "this folder only", you'll need open that folder, and make a copy of it using the "For all [folders]" option then begin with Step 3.
Copying views to a different pst uses the same steps, but you'll copy the "for this folder view" and set it for All [folder]. This adds it to the default pst (or Exchange mailbox). If you want it for a specific folder only, you'll need to select the folder, copy the view again and set it for this folder only.
Views created for "this folder only" are stored in the folder '' moving or copying the folder to a new pst includes these views (as well as custom forms published to the folder).
In older versions of Outlook, Exchange server users can copy views and published forms using the File, Folder menu.
How to copy views video Tutorial
Sharing Custom Views (WindowsITPro magazine)
Outlook views (WindowsITPro magazine)
Published May 14, 2011. Last reviewed on March 30, 2016.
Cohen's plea deal is prosecutor's attempt to set up Trump | TheHill
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 18:00
Here we go, from Russia with love to campaign finance with love.
Why was Michael Cohen investigated? Because the ''Steele dossier'' had him making secret trips to meet with Russians that never happened, so his business dealings got a thorough scrubbing and, in the process, he fell into the special counsel's Manafort bin '-- the bin reserved for squeezing until the juice comes out. And now we are back to 1998 all over again, with presidents and presidential candidates covering up their alleged marital misdeeds and prosecutors trying to turn legal acts into illegal ones by inventing new crimes.
The plot to get President Trump Donald John TrumpConsultant secures Democratic nomination in Wyoming House race Wyoming treasurer wins GOP gubernatorial nod, beating Trump-backed rival Trump to announce NAFTA 'handshake' deal on Thursday: report MORE out of office thickens, as Cohen obviously was his own mini-crime syndicate and decided that his betrayals of Trump meant he would be better served turning on his old boss to cut the best deal with prosecutors he could rather than holding out and getting the full Manafort treatment. That was clear the minute he hired attorney Lanny Davis, who doesn't try cases and did past work for Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham ClintonLanny Davis: Cohen 'more than happy' to tell Mueller 'all that he knows' Trump lashes out after Cohen, Manafort blows Hillicon Valley: Manafort found guilty on eight counts | Facebook identifies new influence campaigns | Microsoft says Russia tried to hack Senate, think tanks | States urge court to block net neutrality repeal MORE . Cohen had recorded his client, trying to entrap him, sold information about Trump (while acting as his lawyer) to corporations for millions of dollars, and didn't pay taxes on millions.
The sweetener for the prosecutors, of course, was getting Cohen to plead guilty to campaign finance violations that were not campaign finance violations. Money paid to people who come out of the woodwork and shake down people under threat of revealing bad sexual stories are not legitimate campaign expenditures. They are personal expenditures. That is true for both candidates we like and candidates we don't. Just imagine if candidates used campaign funds instead of their own money to pay folks like Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about affairs; they would get indicted for misuse of campaign funds for personal purposes and for tax evasion.
There appear to be two payments involved in this unusual plea '-- Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation for having ''coordinated'' the American Media Inc. payment to Karen McDougal for her story, not for actually making the payment. So he is pleading guilty over a corporate contribution he did not make.
Think about this for a minute: Suppose ABC had paid Stormy Daniels for her story in coordination with Michael Avenatti or maybe even the Democratic National Committee's law firm on the eve of the election; by this reasoning, if the purpose of this money paid, just before the election, would be to hurt Trump and help Clinton win, this payment would be a corporate political contribution. If using it not to get Trump would be a corporate contribution, then using it to get Trump also has to be a corporate contribution. That's why neither are corporate contributions and this is a bogus approach to federal election law. (Note that none of the donors in the 2012 John Edwards case faced any legal issues and the Federal Election Commission [FEC] ruled their payments were not campaign contributions that had to be reported '-- facts that prosecutors tried to suppress at trial.)
Now, when it comes to Stormy Daniels, Cohen made a payment a few days before the election that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani says was reimbursed. First, given that this payment was on Oct. 27, it would never have been reported before the election campaign and so, for all intents and purposes, was immaterial as it relates to any effect on the campaign. What's clear in this plea deal is that, in exchange for overall leniency on his massive tax evasion, Cohen is pleading guilty to these other charges as an attempt to give prosecutors what they want '-- a Trump connection.
The usual procedures here would be for the FEC to investigate complaints and sort through these murky laws to determine if these kinds of payments are personal in nature or more properly classified as campaign expenditures. And, on the Daniels payment that was made and reimbursed by Trump, it is again a question of whether that was made for personal reasons (especially since they have been trying since 2011 to obtain agreement). Just because it would be helpful to the campaign does not convert it to a campaign expenditure. Think of a candidate with bad teeth who had dental work done to look better for the campaign; his campaign still could not pay for it because it's a personal expenditure.
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MORE FROM MARK PENN
Only courts can rein in 'King Rosenstein' Press needs to restore its credibility on the FBI and Justice Department Don't let Big Tech become Big Brother ---
Contrast what is going on here with the treatment of the millions of dollars paid to a Democratic law firm which, in turn, paid out money to political research firm Fusion GPS and British ex-spy Christopher Steele without listing them on any campaign expenditure form '-- despite crystal-clear laws and regulations that the ultimate beneficiaries of the funds must be listed. This rule was even tightened recently. There is no question that hiring spies to do opposition research in Russia is a campaign expenditure, and yet, no prosecutorial raids have been sprung on the law firm, Fusion GPS or Steele. Reason: It does not ''get'' Trump.
So, Trump spends $130,000 to keep the lid on a personal story and the full weight of state prosecutors comes down on his lawyer, tossing attorney''client privilege to the wind. Democrats spend potentially millions on secret opposition research and no serious criminal investigation occurs.
Remember that the feds tried a similar strategy against Democrat John Edwards in the 2012 case and it failed. As Gregory Craig, a lawyer who worked both for President Clinton and Edwards, said: ''The government's theory is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law. It is novel and untested. There is no civil or criminal precedent for such a prosecution.'' Hey, tried it there anyway and it failed.
And let's not forget that Clinton was entrapped into lying about his affairs and, although impeached, was acquitted by the Senate. The lesson was clear: We are not going to remove presidents for lying about who they had affairs with, nor even convict politicians on campaign finance violations for these personal payments.
With Cohen pleading guilty, there will be no test of soundness of the prosecution theories here, and it is yet another example of the double standards of justice of one investigation that gave Clinton aides and principals every benefit of the doubt and another investigation that targeted Trump people until they found unrelated crimes to use as leverage. Prosecutors thought nothing of using the Logan Act against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and, now, obscure and unsettled elements of campaign finance law against Trump lawyer Cohen to manufacture crimes in what is a naked attempt to take Trump down and defeat democracy.
Donald Trump should do a better job of picking aides who pay their taxes '-- but he's not responsible for their financial problems and crimes. These investigations, essentially based on an opposition-funded dossier, were never anything other than an attempt to push into a corner as many Trump aides and family members as possible and shake them down until they could get close enough to Trump to try to take him down. That's why so many of his aides, lawyers and actions in the campaign and in the White House have undergone hour-by-hour scrutiny to find anything that could be colored into a crime, leaving far behind the original Russia-collusion theory as the fake pretext it was. Paying for nondisclosure agreements for perfectly legal activities is not a crime, not a campaign contribution as commonly understood or ruled upon by the FEC '-- and squeezing guilty pleas out of vulnerable witnesses does not change those facts.
Mark Penn is a managing partner of the Stagwell Group , a private equity firm specializing in marketing services companies, as well as chairman of the Harris Poll and author of '' Microtrends Squared .'' He served as pollster and adviser to President Clinton from 1995 to 2000, including during Clinton's impeachment. You can follow him on Twitter @Mark_Penn .
Clinton Body Count Just Went Higher!
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 16:14
Investigative Journalist Found Dead in D.C. Hotel Room Weeks After Reporting Bill Clinton to FBI & DHS for Allegedly Raping Boy by Investigative Bureau True Pundit
Investigative Journalist Jen Moore was found dead in a suburban Washington D.C. hotel room Monday, according to police and shocked and distraught friends and colleagues.
Moore died of an apparent seizure. Police are closely investigating the cause of death in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Preliminary reports from police said the death was not the result of suicide.
Moore's body was found by employees at the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Washington, D.C. East '' in Capitol Heights, Maryland. The investigation is ongoing. An autopsy had not been scheduled as of late Monday.
Moore, an advocate who investigated abused and trafficked children, had been in the process of investigating allegations by a 26-year-old man that '-- as a young boy '-- he was sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton and pimped out at private sex parties attended by other D.C. elites.
In fact, just four weeks before her death, Moore filed details of the alleged victim's claims with the Department of Homeland Security, detailing the allegations against Clinton. Moore contacted Homeland Security beginning on July 6th through July 9th, records show. A week later, she contacted the FBI with identical details about the victim and the shocking allegations against Clinton.
FBI sources report no case has been opened on the evidence supplied by Moore. Homeland Security officials could not be reached for comment.
Moore had approached True Pundit's Thomas Paine in June with the allegations against Clinton. Paine conducted a series of face-to-face interviews with Moore and the alleged victim in various locales. By July, the victim agreed to tell his story to Paine. But Moore and the traumatized victim wanted to contact Homeland Security and the FBI first to see if they would open a criminal case against Clinton prior to publicizing the claims.
''Jen thought that with a criminal probe, federal agents could use the victim possibly to dangle in front of Clinton to see if he made a mistake or tried to pay him off,'' Paine said. ''She was worried about the safety of the victim and was working to find him safe harbor until this story broke.
Now she is the one who turned up dead.''
Paine and True Pundit were vetting the details provided by the victim. Paine said the allegations were ''credible'' and the victim's testimony and details were beyond convincing.
Paine said Moore accepted the risks with the story and understood things could get very ugly very fast. Per conversations with True Pundit's Paine:
''She was worried about the victim because he was the first to break the ice,'' Paine said. ''There were others waiting to tell their stories but he was the catalyst.
Did she think she could be harmed? Absolutely. This woman was fearless. Absolute warrior. A former cop. I don't think she was afraid of anyone or anything.''
According to interviews, the victim in this case claimed he was sexually assaulted by Clinton on a yacht in New England and knows the identities of several other child victims who were subjected to identical abuses. The victim also confirmed he witnessed other children and people being sexually and physically abused and possibly worse on numerous ''boat parties.'' These parties were attended by elite members of D.C. political class, according to Moore and the victim.
Both young boys and young girls, the victim said.
Moore supplied these details to federal agents and documented the interactions with a number of alleged victims. Within a month, she is dead.
In one exchange, Moore discussed an extended stay with the alleged Clinton victim after his interview with Paine. During the interview, the victim sporadically vomited and shivered as he recalled details of his alleged abuse, Paine said.
This story is developing.
___https://truepundit.com/investigative-journalist-found-dead-in-d-c-hotel-room-weeks-after-reporting-bill-clinton-to-fbi-dhs-for-allegedly-raping-boy/
Microsoft targets copycat influence websites -- FCW
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 16:07
Cybersecurity
Microsoft targets copycat influence websites By Derek B. JohnsonAug 21, 2018Microsoft went to court to take down websites it believes to be part of a foreign intelligence operation targeting conservative think tanks and the U.S. Senate.
The company's President Brad Smith announced Aug. 20 that Microsoft had won a court battle to take ownership of six website domains designed to "look like sites their targeted victims would expect to receive email from or visit." In this case, the targets were conservative think tanks and congressional Republicans, with URLs designed to mimic the International Republican Institute, the Hudson Institute and the U.S. Senate.
Microsoft claims the activity is linked to "Strontium" or Fancy Bear, an advanced persistent threat group associated with the Russian government, although the organization did not indicate what evidence it was relying on to make the assertion. There's no evidence, Smith said, the sites were able to successfully compromise any targets before Microsoft won control in court.
If left unchecked, the websites could have been used to spoof emails to members of Congress or staffers that would appear to be coming from legitimate domains to facilitate spearphishing campaigns and steal login credentials. Smith said that Microsoft has used a similar approach at least 12 times over the past two years to shut down 84 websites.
"In the face of this continuing activity, we must work on the assumption that these attacks will broaden further," wrote Smith. "An effective response will require even more work to bring people and expertise together from across governments, political parties, campaigns and the tech sector."
Microsoft has been trying to gain control of the sites for two years. In court documents, its lawyers filed a complaint on Aug. 13, 2016, alleging violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to harm Microsoft and its customers.
The complaint alleges that two unknown individuals led the effort "to direct attacks against targeted networks, to infect computing devices connected to those networks that permit Defendants to compromise the security and conduct reconnaissance of and move latterly through those networks, and to locate and exfiltrate sensitive information."
They also accuse the individuals of accessing the computers and networks of Microsoft customers, intercepting communications via Microsoft's Windows operating system, making unauthorized use of Microsoft trademarks, "trespassing" on the computer networks of Microsoft and its customers, intentionally interfering with Microsoft contracts and profiting unjustly from their unauthorized use and access.
Microsoft said it has notified all potentially affected parties and also indicated that it is working with U.S. Senate IT staff "following prior attacks we detected on the staffs of two current senators."
Thomas Rid, a Johns Hopkins professor, political scientist and cybersecurity expert, was one of the first people to forensically trace the 2016 DNC hack to Russia. He questioned whether the activities represented an attempt to influence the upcoming mid-term elections, rather than more routine intelligence gathering and wanted to see stronger evidence linking the hacking group to the websites.
"Microsoft's threat intel team know what they are doing," Rid tweeted. "So, no reason to doubt them. Still, it would be nice to have a little more detail on how they made the link."
The company's actions come less than a month after Facebook announced it had discovered similar coordinated activity across 32 pages, groups and accounts. Earlier this month, media reports identified two Democratic congressional campaigns that were also the subject of hacking campaigns.
Assessments by the U.S. intelligence community and the Senate have stated with high confidence that the Russian government used a far-reaching disinformation campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election and further that those campaigns were intended to help the candidacy of now-President Donald Trump.
The conservative think tanks targeted in the alleged campaign aren't closely aligned with President Trump on foreign policy, observers noted.
"Of note -- these conservative think-tanks cater to the old guard of Republican politics," wrote Crispin Burke, a U.S. Army aviator who writes a personal blog about national security and foreign policy issues. "The International Republican Institute, for instance, has members including noted Russia hawks like John McCain, Mitt Romney '... and H.R. McMaster."
About the Author
Derek B. Johnson is a senior staff writer at FCW, covering governmentwide IT policy, cybersecurity and a range of other federal technology issues.
Prior to joining FCW, Johnson was a freelance technology journalist. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, GoodCall News, Foreign Policy Journal, Washington Technology, Elevation DC, Connection Newspapers and The Maryland Gazette.
Johnson has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Hofstra University and a Master's degree in public policy from George Mason University. He can be contacted at djohnson@fcw.com, or follow him on Twitter @derekdoestech.
Click here for previous articles by Johnson.
Cybersecurity
Microsoft targets copycat influence websites Microsoft went to court to take down websites it believes to be part of a foreign intelligence operation targeting conservative think tanks and the U.S. Senate.
Cybersecurity
FAA explores shifting its network to FISMA high The Federal Aviation Administration is exploring an upgrade to the information security categorization of IT systems as part of air traffic control modernization.
Cybersecurity
The disinformation game The federal government is poised to bring new tools and strategies to bear in the fight against foreign-backed online disinformation campaigns, but how and when they choose to act could have ramifications on the U.S. political ecosystem.
America's Future Depends on California's Election Integrity
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 14:03
California is in the news as ''ground zero'' for the coming struggle over the federal balance of power in November 2018. So opines Larry Hart, a senior fellow at the American Conservative Union Foundation, in a piece published earlier this summer in The Hill.
A year ago, this might have been good news. California restored mandatory paper ballot voting systems over a decade ago, when then-Secretary of State Debra Bowen implemented a security review of the election software used in all of California's voting systems. It was found vulnerable to tampering and glitches, so paper was instituted as the ballot of record.
California already had a mandatory audit of results obtained by software counting paper: 100 percent of the ballots in at least 1 percent of each county's precincts, chosen by random selection, had to be hand-counted. The hand-count had to prove that the scanned results were accurate, or else further steps had to be taken. All in all, California scored fairly well in terms of its election integrity, compared with states like Georgia, still reliant on 100 percent paperless touchscreen voting machines and no audits.
But last year, the California Legislature passed a bill, AB 840, that screwed things up. The bill was purportedly designed to enable registrars to contact voters who'd failed to put their signature on the outside of their returned mail ballots; voters thus contacted could come in, sign, and have their vote counted instead of discarded. However, as the bill progressed from the state Assembly and through the state Senate toward passage, it acquired a stealth amendment.
Few legislators knew the amendment existed, let alone its implications, but it was a lethal blow to honest elections. For the sake of efficiency, CACEO'--the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials'--requested that the exponentially growing amounts of late-arriving ballots, both mail and provisional (ballots used to record a vote when there are questions about a given voter's eligibility), be exempted from the mandatory audit.
Their wish was granted. California's late ballot batches will be counted on software, and the results will go unverified by any check or balance.
Mail balloting has exploded in California. Recent legislation allows counties to send every voter a mail ballot if they choose. Any county can also turn whole precincts into vote-by-mail-only and close the precinct polling places. Voters are often notified by a single piece of mail. They may remain unaware and, on Election Day, try to vote at any open polling place they can find.
If they are unaware of the rule of having to ''surrender'' their unused mailed ballot to vote at the polls, they must vote provisionally. So, the expansion of vote-by-mail has also meant an increase in provisional voting. CACEO argued that it took too long to process all these ballots, first removing them from their envelopes and from precincts randomly chosen to be hand-counted to match the machine results. So, AB 840 restricts the audit pool to the ''semi-official canvass results'''--i.e., ballots counted on election night: at-polls regular ballots and mail ballots that arrived before Election Day, so they could be signature-checked and separated from their envelopes for inclusion in the precinct scan.
In short, an increasingly large and very specific portion of California votes'--the late-processed ballots'--are counted on computer with no verification of accuracy. Our polarized politics make battlefields of elections. And those battles are increasingly decided late in the day, on absentees and provisionals'--as in the ongoing Ohio special congressional election count; as in Georgia's special congressional election in 2017; as in the balance-of-power Virginia statehouse election in 2017 that was ultimately decided by a coin toss. None of these squeakers was entirely verified.
Exploitation is possible and even probable. We are being warned by cybersecurity experts that all the lights are flashing on our voting systems, and that they've already suffered intrusion with unknown impact. Exempting California's ballots from verification by audit is beyond irresponsible. It is enabling crime. We are accessories when we leave the door unlocked.
Los Angeles County suffered a ''printing error'' in June 2018 that dropped 118,000 eligible voters from its precinct rolls. This single error, attributed to incompatible software transfers, swelled the late-ballot batch by 92,000 provisionals. Registrar Dean Logan assured the public that he'd flagged the affected voters and counted all their ballots. Under pressure, he also announced that he would audit the results. This was the right thing to do, but how that audit was performed has not yet been made public. Whatever the method, the public should know. And it should serve as the template for all counties to audit their late-counted ballots'--not just provisionals, but late-arriving mail ballots, too. California's results cannot go unverified this year.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla has latitude in issuing rules and procedures for conduct of elections. CACEO and our legislature must be accountable for what they've done, and there must be an emergency regulation to audit the late-ballot count, at minimum, to the same 1 percent random-selection standard as the semi-final official canvass. Conditions are ripe to make a surprise outcome credible. Whether it's real or merely seems real can only be determined by verifying all computer ballot counts, as was Californians' intent when we established the mandatory hand-audit. Without it, mistakes will go undetected. Manipulation will go undeterred.
Larry Hart ended his article in The Hill by noting that we may be ''up late'' to watch the nation's fate decided in California. We may be up later than that if it takes days to tally the late-ballot counts. And if those counts happen on computers with no hand-count check or balance, California will be implicated in exacerbating the doubts, polarizing anger, and uncivil attacks that are ruining our democracy.
Mimi Kennedy Mimi Kennedy is an actress and activist. She has served on the Advisory Board of Progressive Democrats of America since its founding in 2004. Follow on Twitter'...
Poisonings from kratom, sold as an herbal supplement, are rising. But no one knows how much | National | heraldmailmedia.com
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 13:12
PHILADELPHIA '-- An unregulated herbal product that advocates say can relieve pain and help with opioid withdrawal has been linked to at least four deaths in the Philadelphia region, but with many authorities failing to track kratom poisonings, there's no way to know if there are more deaths related to the substance.
Kratom, derived from the leaves of a Southeast Asian tree that is part of the coffee family, has gained popularity in recent years. It is sold online, in gas stations and in smoke shops, and is typically brewed as a tea, chewed, smoked or ingested in capsules.
An estimated 3 million to 5 million people use kratom, according to the American Kratom Association, a Colorado-based nonprofit founded in 2014 to promote the herbal product. It has become a billion-dollar business, according to the Botanical Education Alliance, another kratom advocacy group.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced in 2016 it would reclassify kratom as a Schedule 1 drug, similar to heroin or marijuana, a step other nations have taken. But the industry groups lobbied to keep it on store shelves.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the active ingredient in kratom, mitragynine, is an addictive substance that acts on the brain's opioid receptors '-- and is indeed an opioid. Though touted as a stimulant (at low doses), sedative (at high doses), painkiller, and addiction therapy, kratom has no medical value, the FDA declared in February, and has been linked to at least 44 deaths nationally, though the agency admits tracking is haphazard. The kratom industry, meanwhile, disputes the FDA's science and data collection, insisting no one has died from kratom use.
Still, there are troubling indicators that poisonings are on the rise.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers has seen a sixfold increase in calls '-- from 97 in all of 2016, to 635 so far in 2018 '-- to its national hotline for kratom use. Since 2016, it has recorded 10 deaths associated with kratom, three for the product alone, others in combination with other substances. Such mixtures, scientists say, can be especially dangerous because many users don't think kratom could compound the impact of other opioids, making overdose more likely.
NMS Labs, a nationally known forensic laboratory in Willow Grove, started testing for mitragynine about five years ago and is seeing more of it in postmortem toxicology cases, said vice president Barry Logan, a senior scientist. From January to June, there were 303 deaths in which mitragynine was found, often in combination with other opioids, he said.
In Pennsylvania, OverdoseFreePA, a website that tracks overdose fatalities, reported there were 27 deaths in 2017 in which mitragynine was present. Thirty-seven of Pennsylvania's 67 county coroners contribute to the database.
Since 2016, Bucks and Montgomery counties each have recorded a death that coroners attributed to mitragynine. Chester County found two deaths where mitragynine was listed as the sole cause of death.
Those three counties, along with Philadelphia, have also found at least 19 other deaths where mitragynine was present in postmortem toxicology reports, alongside drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine. Delaware County has not found mitragynine in any toxicology reports.
New Jersey does not track mitragynine-involved deaths, according to the Department of Health.
The most recent local death attributed to kratom occurred in Chester County on June 27.
Caleb Sturgis, 25, was driving to work on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Chester County when his car veered into the right lane, stuck a curb and flipped over. The coroner there ruled this month the West Chester man died from ''acute mitragynine intoxication.'' There were no other drugs '-- save an amount of caffeine equivalent to what's in a cup of coffee '-- in his system.
''I remember (Caleb) very adamantly telling us (kratom) would be perfectly safe and not a problem,'' said his father, Scott, an editor with the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. Caleb had struggled with opioid use in the past after the narcotics were prescribed for wisdom tooth removal but stopped using them a few years ago, his father said.
Caleb began using kratom in the form of tea in fall 2016 after reading online that it was a safer stimulant than coffee, which gave him the jitters, said his mother, Lori Chernisky Sturgis. There were no dosing instructions on any of the kratom products he purchased online, she said.
But his parents noticed that Caleb kept using more of the product, and was becoming cranky, irritable, nervous, and tired, Scott Sturgis said.
''I wish I had known more about it, because I would have nagged him and nagged him relentlessly,'' his mother said. ''I can't bring him back. It's breaking my heart.''
Montgomery County coroners listed Veronica Detwiler's cause of death in May as multiple drug intoxication. She had cocaine, heroin, fentanyl '-- and mitragynine '-- in her system.
Detwiler, 37, who also struggled with mental health issues, had been using opioids since she was a teenager, said her mother, Faith Detwiler, of Royersford. She had been in and out of rehab and tried 12-step meetings. She was even off all drugs for about two years, her mother said.
''I did not know she was using and I didn't know if she knew the risks,'' Detwiler said.
Brandon Jones was shocked when his brother, Ryan, 38, collapsed and died in May. He was equally surprised to find out that ''mitragynine toxicity'' was listed as a cause of death along with ''hypertensive cardiovascular disease.''
''I took it myself,'' Jones, of Downingtown, said about kratom. He described his brother as ''a home body'' who didn't use drugs, alcohol or tobacco. He was ''a little'' overweight and had high blood pressure, but no other heart-disease history and worked out every day.
(EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)
Jones doesn't know why his brother was using kratom, which he purchased on the internet. He points out that ''you have to go through rabbit holes to figure out what dose to take.'' Yet he supports keeping kratom legal.
''I think this is the first alert here,'' said Chester County Coroner Christina VandePol of deaths such as that of Ryan Jones.
Most physicians are not aware of the product and wouldn't know to ask patients whether they are using it. Many users think of it as an herbal supplement, not a drug, and may not mention it to their physician, she said.
''I do think people should be concerned and should be looking for it,'' she said.
Bucks County has had a total of 13 cases where mitragynine has been found. It was the primary cause of death in two of those cases, said Joseph Campbell, county coroner.
''I think a lot of research needs to be done with this particular item,'' he said.
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FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has been adamant in his criticism of kratom, with his agency issuing public health advisories and cautioning that kratom could expand the opioid epidemic.
The American Kratom Association, meanwhile, says government science and data are ''incomplete, inaccurate, extrapolated and distorted.''
''Every time we look at how studies were done, we've found some glaring errors,'' said David Herman, AKA chairman. He says his reviews show people died of heart attacks or cancer, not kratom.
''American citizens should have the right to consume what they want if it is not harmful,'' he said.
In 2016, 142,000 people signed a petition to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee asking that kratom not be listed by the DEA as a scheduled drug. Sixty-two members of the House and Senate wrote to the DEA in support of keeping kratom legal.
But Daniel Fabricant, president of the National Products Association, an 82-year-old trade association, says he agrees with the government on this one.
''That is not a dietary supplement, it is a drug, always has been, always will be,'' Fabricant said. The kratom industry is ''making this a political issue and not a science issue.''
C. Michael White, professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Connecticut, said kratom has been so little studied, its properties and risks are not fully understood.
Animal studies suggest its opioid effect could help treat pain. Respiratory depression has not been reported with kratom as with other opioids, he said, but it has been found to disrupt a liver enzyme that helps metabolize opioids, he said. For that reason, if drug users went off prescription narcotics or heroin in favor of kratom, but then went back to their previous drugs, kratom might be ''increasing the deadliness of the other opioids that you were taking.''
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Oprah Winfrey Promotes ''Shout Your Abortion'' Movement Where Women Brag About Their Abortions | LifeNews.com
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 12:58
Oprah Winfrey waded deeper into political waters this summer by promoting the ''Shout Your Abortion'' movement and its attempts to normalize the killing of unborn babies.
The July issue of her ''O'' magazine featured ''Shout Your Abortion'' founder Amelia Bonow in its ''Inspiration'' section, CNS News reports.
Bonow, who began the campaign to urge women to brag about aborting their unborn babies, soon will be coming out with a new book by the same title, according to the report.
She told the magazine how it all began in 2015: ''[W]hen I found out that the House of Representatives had voted to defund Planned Parenthood. I kind of unraveled.
''I opened Facebook and, without thinking, wrote, 'Like a year ago, I had an abortion at Planned Parenthood'...and I remember this experience with a nearly inexpressible level of gratitude.' I hit Post 153 words later, and everything changed,'' she continued.
Bonow said the campaign really took off when a friend shared her post on Twitter with the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion.
''On some level, I'd internalized the stigma'--though I honestly wasn't ashamed. Then why hide? It wasn't out of character for me to disclose something so personal online. What was out of character was my silence,'' she said.
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She blamed the pro-life movement for trying to silence women who have had abortions, saying: ''The anti- choice movement wants it to be terrifying to speak the truth, because we can't advocate for something we can't say out loud. But the more of us who speak out, the clearer it becomes that all sorts of people have abortions, including people you love.''
But it really is her own movement, the pro-abortion movement, that silences women whose abortion stories do not fit their narrative. Bonow's pro-abortion campaign is not the first abortion story-telling movement either.
Long ago, pro-life advocates recognized the power of individual people and their stories in the abortion debate. The Silent No More Awareness campaign is just one example of the many pro-life storytelling outreaches. It encourages people who experienced pain and regret after their abortions to share their stories publicly, and its website documents thousands of stories of mothers, fathers, grandparents and others who experienced deep pain and remorse because of unborn babies' abortion deaths.
''O'' magazine is doing a disservice to its readers by promoting the ''Shout Your Abortion'' campaign. Bonow's movement gives the impression that women are glad they aborted their unborn babies. The truth is that some women regret their abortions and others do not, but no matter what the women's feelings, their abortions destroyed another human being, their own child's chance to ever have a story.
US plan for coal power deregulation could cause more deaths
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 11:43
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- The Trump administration on Tuesday moved to prop up the declining coal industry with an overhaul of Obama-era pollution rules, acknowledging that the increased emissions from aging coal-fired plants could kill hundreds more people annually and cost the country billions of dollars.
The proposal broadly increases the authority given to states to decide how and how much to regulate existing coal power plants.
The EPA said its Affordable Clean Energy rule "empowers states, promotes energy independence and facilitates economic growth and job creation."
"We are putting our great coal miners back to work," President Donald Trump crowed during a rally Tuesday night in West Virginia.
"We want a clean environment. ... I want clean air. I want crystal clean water and we've got it. We've got the cleanest country in the planet right now," Trump said. "But I'm getting rid of some of these ridiculous rules and regulations, which are killing our companies ... and our jobs."
Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler told reporters, "Today we are fulfilling the president's agenda."
The proposal dismantles President Barack Obama's 2015 Clean Power Plan, one of his administration's legacy efforts against climate change. The Obama rules, which have been halted by court challenges, would have increased federal regulation of emissions from the nation's electrical grid and broadly promoted cleaner energy, including natural gas and solar and wind power.
Michelle Bloodworth, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a trade group that represents coal producers, called the new rule a marked departure from the "gross overreach" of the Obama administration and said it should prevent a host of premature coal-plant retirements.
But the Natural Resources Defense Council called Trump's proposal the "Dirty Power Plan."
Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator when the Obama plan was developed, said the proposed changes show the Trump administration emphasizing "coal at all costs."
The EPA's 289-page regulatory analysis acknowledged that every possible scenario under its proposal projects "small increases" in climate-changing emissions and some pollutants, compared to the Obama plan.
EPA officials said they could give no firm projections for the health effects of their plan because that will depend on how states regulate power plants within their borders.
But models provided by the agency estimate that under the Trump plan, 300 to 1,500 more people would die prematurely each year by 2030, compared to the Obama plan.
The models for the Trump plan also project tens of thousands of additional major asthma attacks and hundreds more heart attacks compared with the Obama plan.
When health costs from air pollution '-- soot and smog killing people, increased asthma and heart attacks '-- are factored in, the repeal of the coal power plan would cost the country $1.4 billion to $3.9 billion annually, according to the agency.
"It shows that removing the Clean Power Plan would be detrimental to health," said University of North Carolina environmental engineering professor Jason West, who went through the agency's regulatory analysis with The Associated Press.
"The cost to society in increases of death and other outcomes from air pollution are greater than the cost to industry from removing the Clean Power Plan," West said.
The projection of increased deaths and costs marks "what's extraordinary about this proposal," said Richard Revesz, dean emeritus at the New York University School of Law. "To their credit, they tell us directly, 'We are doing something to cause great harm to the American people.'"
Environmentalists and other opponents said they expect legal challenges, arguing the Trump administration is abdicating its responsibilities under the Clean Air Act as set by Congress and the courts.
Bill Wehrum, head of the EPA's air office, told reporters that the administration rejects any suggestion the agency has a broad legal duty to combat climate change through regulation of power grids or promotion of cleaner energy.
"An important part of what we're doing here is getting us back into our lane," Wehrum said.
The EPA called the Obama-era regulations on coal power plants "overly prescriptive and burdensome."
Combined with the EPA's proposal earlier this month to ease gas-mileage requirements for vehicles, the move may actually increase the country's climate-changing emissions, according to some former top EPA officials, environmental groups and other opponents.
Tuesday's move opens a public-comment period on the proposal before any final approval by the president.
Scientists say that without extensive study, they cannot directly link a single weather event to climate change, but that it is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme events such as storms, droughts, floods and wildfires.
The new proposal establishes guidelines for states to use when developing any plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Critics say the new plan would allow utilities to run older, dirtier power plants more often and extend their operating life.
Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry.
Obama's plan was designed to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule dictated specific emission targets for states and gave officials broad latitude to decide how to achieve reductions.
The Supreme Court put the plan on hold in 2016 following a legal challenge by industry and coal-friendly states, an order that remains in effect.
Even so, the Obama plan has been a factor in the wave of retirements of coal-fired plants, which also are being squeezed by lower costs for natural gas and renewable power and state mandates that promote energy conservation.
Trump has vowed to end what Republicans call a "war on coal" waged by Obama.
___
This story has been corrected to increase the projected range of deaths compared to the Obama plan.
Opinion | Why Are Republicans Covering Up Brett Kavanaugh's Past? - The New York Times
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 11:40
For the first time in modern history, Senate leaders are refusing to request a Supreme Court nominee's relevant papers.
By The Editorial Board
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.
Aug. 17, 2018 Credit Jackie Ferrentino Judge Brett Kavanaugh's supporters have spent the last month lavishing him with acclaim. He's a legal superstar, they say, one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees in history. So why are Senate Republicans so afraid of letting Americans learn more about him?
After what they did to Judge Merrick Garland in 2016 '-- obliterating Senate tradition by outright ignoring President Barack Obama's third Supreme Court nomination for partisan political gain '-- you might think it would be hard for Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to inflict any more damage on the court.
Surprise! They're now running the most secretive and incomplete confirmation process in modern history. They scrambled to set the start of Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing for Sept. 4, even as they have refused multiple requests by their Democratic colleagues to see more than one million documents covering his years as White House staff secretary to President George W. Bush. Judge Kavanaugh has called that job, which he held from 2003 to 2006, ''the most interesting and informative'' of his career in terms of preparing for his work on the bench.
These documents could contain important information about his role in some of the Bush administration's most controversial actions, including its warrantless wiretapping program and its torture policy. Judge Kavanaugh was evasive during his 2006 confirmation hearing for a seat on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., where he currently sits. He denied any involvement in those policies, but Democratic senators have long believed that his answers to them were, at best, misleading. And at least one former Bush official appeared to directly contradict him. So what was his true role? The documents may or may not answer that question definitively, but we'll never know without seeing them.
The documents could also shed light on Judge Kavanaugh's ability to be impartial on important legal issues that may come before the Supreme Court. Before becoming a judge, he was a loyal Republican warrior, working on the Starr Report that recommended the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and helping Mr. Bush's team during the 2000 election recount. He worked for the Bush administration during its push for, among other things, severe restrictions on women's reproductive rights and a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The Senate should have access to anything in the judge's record that reveals pre-existing views on issues like these.
This is precisely the kind of information about a Supreme Court nominee that senators need to consider before voting to provide a lifetime seat on the nation's highest court. It would be a dereliction of their constitutional duty to do less. Indeed, Senate Republicans rightly demanded, and got, comprehensive information on Mr. Obama's two successful nominees, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
And yet, to everyone who now requests this basic information about Judge Kavanaugh, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Grassley say, take a hike.
Under normal circumstances, documents relating to Supreme Court nominees with federal government experience are released by nonpartisan researchers at the National Archives. They take requests from the Senate and send over whatever they deem relevant. That's the process set out by the Presidential Records Act, a federal law that has been followed for every recent Supreme Court nominee, including President Trump's first pick, Neil Gorsuch.
Judge Kavanaugh's paper trail is far longer than those of prior nominees; the archives hold six million to seven million documents related to him. Mr. Grassley has requested only about 900,000 of them, none relating to his time as staff secretary. The archives staff has said it needs until late October to complete its review. So Mr. Grassley's committee is instead getting the Kavanaugh documents directly from William Burck, a lawyer working for Mr. Bush '-- and not by any measure a neutral reviewer.
Mr. Burck '-- who served under Judge Kavanaugh in the White House and may well be named in many of the withheld documents '-- should be reviewing them only for possible assertions of executive privilege. Instead, he has chosen to withhold large numbers on the ground that they are personal to President Bush. To date, he has provided about 240,000 documents, many of which are irrelevant or duplicative. About 40,000 pages, for example, consist of copies of a single email from Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas.
Mr. Grassley argues that the Senate has already gotten more documents on Judge Kavanaugh than it did for Justice Sotomayor or Justice Kagan, who was President Obama's solicitor general when she was nominated. But 99 percent of Justice Kagan's White House record was made public before her hearing. For Judge Kavanaugh, the proportion is around 2 percent.
This stonewalling by Republican leaders is so extreme that Democratic senators have been reduced to filing unheard-of requests for the missing documents under the Freedom of Information Act '-- a process that can take many months.
On Wednesday, the National Archives distanced itself from this shady process, calling it ''something that has never happened before,'' and saying Mr. Burck's work ''does not represent the National Archives.''
Republicans have had the nerve to complain that Democrats are trying to slow down the confirmation process. The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, called it an ''unprecedented'' degree of stalling. But everyone knew about Judge Kavanaugh's lengthy paper trail; Mitch McConnell was reported to have initially opposed Judge Kavanaugh's nomination for that very reason. Either way, what's the rush? We don't recall Republicans expressing concern over delaying a confirmation when they were blocking Judge Merrick Garland.
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Correction:An earlier version of this editorial mistakenly stated that President George W. Bush's attorney, William Burck, has withheld large numbers of documents pertaining to Judge Brett Kavanaugh from the Senate Judiciary Committee "for no clear reason." Mr. Burck has informed the National Archives that he is withholding those documents on the ground that they are personal to President Bush.
Paul Manafort, Trump's Former Campaign Chairman, Guilty of 8 Counts - The New York Times
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 11:34
President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted of tax and bank fraud. But this wasn't Mr. Manafort's first public scandal. Published On Oct. 30, 2017 Credit Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images ALEXANDRIA, Va. '-- Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, was convicted on Tuesday in his financial fraud trial, bringing a dramatic end to a politically charged case that riveted the capital.
The verdict was a victory for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whose prosecutors introduced extensive evidence that Mr. Manafort hid millions of dollars in foreign accounts to evade taxes and lied to banks repeatedly to obtain millions of dollars in loans.
Mr. Manafort was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining 10 counts, and the judge declared a mistrial on those charges.
President Trump told reporters in West Virginia that Paul Manafort was a ''good man'' and that his conviction ''has nothing to do with Russian collusion.'' Published On Aug. 21, 2018 Credit Image by Leah Millis/Reuters Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Mr. Manafort, said the defense was ''disappointed'' by the verdict and that his client was ''evaluating all of his options at this point.''
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mr. Mueller's office, declined to comment.
The verdict was read out in United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., only minutes after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump's former fixer, pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to violating campaign finance law and other charges.
[Read more about Mr. Cohen's appearance in court and his admission that he paid Stormy Daniels ''at the direction'' of President Trump.]
Mr. Manafort's trial did not touch directly on Mr. Mueller's inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election or on whether Mr. Trump has sought to obstruct the investigation.
But it was the first test of the special counsel's ability to prosecute a case in a federal courtroom amid intense criticism from the president and his allies that the inquiry is a biased and unjustified witch hunt. And the outcome had substantial political implications, if only in denying Mr. Trump more ammunition for his campaign to discredit Mr. Mueller.
Before and during the trial, Mr. Trump both sought to defend Mr. Manafort as a victim of prosecutorial overreach and to distance himself from him, saying that Mr. Manafort had worked for him only relatively briefly.
After the verdict was announced, Mr. Trump said he felt ''very badly'' for Mr. Manafort and continued to maintain that the prosecution had been politically motivated.
''It doesn't involve me,'' Mr. Trump told reporters after landing in West Virginia for a rally on Tuesday evening. ''It had nothing to do with Russian collusion.''
The trial focused on Mr. Manafort's personal finances, in particular the tens of millions of dollars he made advising a political party in Ukraine that backed pro-Russia policies.
Defense lawyers had argued that Rick Gates, Mr. Manafort's former right-hand man and the government's star witness, was the real mastermind of the frauds. Mr. Gates had been charged along with Mr. Manafort in the case, but pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Mr. Manafort in exchange for the dismissal of a host of other charges and the possibility of a more lenient sentence.
The defense lawyers also suggested that Mr. Manafort had been targeted by prosecutors to pressure him into cooperating with Mr. Mueller's inquiry into possible collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia in the 2016 election.
In his summation on Wednesday, Greg D. Andres, the lead prosecutor, told the jurors that the essence of the scheme was not complicated. ''Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and lied to get more money when he didn't,'' he said.
Mr. Manafort faces a second criminal trial next month in Washington on seven other charges brought by the special counsel, including obstruction of justice, failure to register as a foreign agent and conspiracy to launder money.
The trial in Alexandria drew lines of spectators that wound around the courthouse and was punctuated by moments of high drama. It examined in some detail Mr. Manafort's sumptuous lifestyle, including his $15,000 ostrich-skin jacket and $1,500 dress shirts, and the meticulously landscaped flower bed in the shape of a giant ''M'' at his 10-bedroom Hamptons estate in New York.
Mr. Gates, who was on the stand far longer than any other witness, appeared confident when questioned by prosecutors. But his credibility came under assault during cross-examination by defense lawyers, who questioned him about his ''secret life'' with a paramour in a London flat.
Mr. Andres and Judge T. S. Ellis III, who presided over the trial, butted heads repeatedly. Mr. Andres complained that the judge interrupted every time the prosecution questioned a witness. Judge Ellis responded that Mr. Andres was so frustrated that he appeared on the verge of tears, which Mr. Andres denied.
As the prosecution wound up its case last week, the proceedings suddenly ground to a mysterious halt, raising hopes among Mr. Manafort's allies that the judge might declare a mistrial. But after hours of secret discussions between the judge and the lawyers for both sides, the trial resumed.
Mr. Andres argued that the evidence of Mr. Manafort's guilt was contained in documents that he himself wrote or signed and sent to his accountants, to loan officers and to Mr. Gates. While Mr. Gates was ''no Boy Scout,'' Mr. Andres said, his account was buttressed by other witnesses, including Mr. Manafort's tax accountant.
Testifying under a grant of immunity, the accountant, Cynthia Laporta, said that she forwarded documents from Mr. Manafort to bank loan officers even though she believed they were false.
Image Kevin Downing, the lead defense lawyer in Mr. Manafort's case, outside the federal courthouse on Monday in Alexandria, Va. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times The defense said that Mr. Manafort had foolishly trusted Mr. Gates to handle his personal and business finances, and had relied on a phalanx of accountants and loan officers to flag serious mistakes in his financial filings.
Only after investigators from the special counsel's office began ''going through each piece of paper and finding anything that doesn't match up to add to the weight of evidence against Mr. Manafort'' did the discrepancies come to light, said Richard Westling, one of Mr. Manafort's five lawyers.
Using multicolored flow charts in an attempt to simplify complex transactions, prosecutors tried to show that Mr. Manafort concealed more than $60 million in income in 31 foreign bank accounts opened in the names of shell companies.
The money came from Ukrainian oligarchs who paid Mr. Manafort to boost the political career of Viktor F. Yanukovych, a pro-Russian politician who, with Mr. Manafort's help was elected president of Ukraine in 2010.
Financial analysts for the F.B.I. and the Internal Revenue Service testified that Mr. Manafort transferred more than $15 million from those accounts to pay for landscaping, clothing, rugs, home renovations and entertainment systems. In 2012 alone, he wired enough money from the hidden accounts to purchase a loft in SoHo, a brownstone in Brooklyn and a residence in Arlington, Va., they said. Mr. Manafort also disguised some of his income as loans to avoid taxes, witnesses testified.
Prosecutors claimed that Mr. Manafort initiated another scheme after Mr. Yanukovych was forced out of office in 2014.
Defense lawyers acknowledged that Mr. Manafort had no income by the time the Trump campaign hired him in March 2016 as a volunteer, first to manage delegates to the Republican National Convention, then as campaign chairman. Still, he bought his annual season tickets to the New York Yankees, charging $210,600 to his American Express card that went unpaid for nearly a year.
In order to persuade three banks to loan him a total of $20 million, prosecutors said, Mr. Manafort added millions of dollars in fake income to his financial statements. Defense lawyers contended that the banks were well aware of Mr. Manafort's overall financial situation, and gave him loans because he had a net worth of $21.2 million and valuable real estate as collateral.
Out of the jury's earshot, Mr. Andres complained repeatedly to Judge Ellis that he was erecting unfair obstacles for the prosecution, interjecting when they tried to examine their witnesses on the stand. ''The court interrupts every single one of the government's directs, every single one,'' he said.
The judge had criticized independent counsels this year, apparently conflating them with special counsels like Mr. Mueller, who operates under the supervision of the Justice Department. By the midpoint of the trial, he was markedly more polite to the prosecutors. He agreed to apologize to the jury for wrongly accusing them of making a courtroom mistake with a key witness.
Mr. Manafort's lawyers said the prosecutors were engaging in overkill. ''They had already thrown the kitchen sink at him,'' one of them, Thomas Zehnle, told the judge at one point. ''Now they are throwing the plumbing and the pipes.''
Without directly accusing the prosecutors of selective prosecution, they tried throughout the trial to sow doubt about their intentions. At the government's request, Judge Ellis instructed the jury to ''ignore any argument about the Justice Department's motive or lack of motive,'' a last-minute warning that might only have underscored the question.
Emily Cochrane and Emily Baumgaertner contributed reporting from Alexandria, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis from Charleston, W.Va.
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Jack Dorsey On Deleting Tweets, Banning Trump, And Whether An Unbiased Twitter Can Exist
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 11:30
Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey doesn't have all the answers. For one, he's not sure whether you should delete your old tweets. He's deleted some himself '-- but only for copyright violations or clarity. In a wide-ranging interview with BuzzFeed News, Dorsey discussed Twitter's unique and precarious role as a driver of political and cultural conversation. He spoke openly about his recent effort to court conservatives, despite deep criticism from the left. Dorsey also opened up about Twitter's early errors, including its founders' lack of diversity and whether a truly unbiased Twitter can ever exist.
On the recent trend of dredging up old tweets to score political points, and whether people should delete their tweets:I need to think a lot more about this. I haven't given it as much thought as it deserves. But I do want to live in a world where people can tweet something and that it persists because it's important to see how we evolve and grow, but it is not taken as this is who this person is. That people have the freedom to clarify and that people have the freedom to grow, to improve, and you can actually see marked improvement because of the tweets of the past.
So I would not want to necessarily move to a world where everything we say is completely ephemeral, because I think the public record allows the world to understand decisions made in the past and mistakes from those decisions, or benefits from those decisions. Taking that archive away feels like it misses an opportunity to learn, but I do recognize the fact that like people are utilizing the past in order to change action in the present and I don't know how to build more of a world or a product right now that allows more of a clarification that more of a learning mindset that people can take on.
On deleting his old tweets:I have not. Well, unless I was told to. I tweeted once and got a copyright violation from Disney.
On whether Twitter makes politics and discourse toxic:I think it could. And that's where we need to look at more of the incentives. If we are to focus on conversations, then we need to make sure that's extremely fast and fluid. A good example of this is the move from 140 characters to 280, we haven't seen the overall organic tweet length change in regards to that move, but where I think 280 is really important is it allows for a lot more nuanced conversation in replies. People being able to reply with more characters has allowed for a lot more nuance in the discussion and a lot more room to actually think and construct a thought and articulate it.
It's not an end point by any means, but there are things, like, that we can do to get to a much more, a discussion with a lot more contours and nuances that the product doesn't allow for it today. I would look deeper at the incentives that we're providing people. Like right now our incentives are mainly around posting and then comments on that versus what we think our superpower really is, which is conversation.
The product does not incentivize a conversational nature. You have to work in order for that to flow and I don't think we can hit a goal of very rich empowering political discussion or any discussion unless we really start questioning and making moves on that.
On whether an unbiased Twitter can exist:I think an impartial product, impartial policy, and impartial enforcement can exist. Impartial meaning that we're not going to inject our particular bias, impartial meaning that we're not going to do improper actions to favor one person over another and I think it can exist with the right amount of transparency, but it'll never be perfect, right. So the only antidote I'm aware of is shining more light on it.
On what he's currently trying to fix:There is more than one Twitter...but our product today doesn't allow you to see that. It's not built to do that. Like, our product is not built around following topics and interests. It should be and that's what we're going to do, but it's not today. I mean you are at the will of an account that might have multiple interests, but it's just confirming one thing constantly or dragging you into something that might not be representative of the broader whole or your broader interest. So we've only given to people very coarse-grained tools with which to manage their experience. Following accounts being the number one and we need to break that.
On whether there's a line President Trump can cross that might get him banned from Twitter:Dorsey: I think a line to draw potentially is around private citizens. I do believe private citizens versus public figures deserve more of our protection, but it has to be done in the context of how we're actually seeing our global leaders and we do believe it's important that people see and can communicate around how they act, and how they think, and how they treat others.
[Twitter's Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead Vijaya Gadde adds clarification.]
Gadde: Yeah. So I guess I think that's right. I think that if you asked me very directly, like, ''is everything the president says, part of public interest?'' I would say no, but if you asked me what's not, I think that it's going to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis using the criteria we set forth. I agree that it is subjective and nuanced and I would like to build more framework around that so we have a more consistent way to enforce going forward.
On Twitter's early mistakes that led to harassment:We built something that was extremely open and as we looked to how people were using it, like using an @ symbol before names to reference each other, which the underlying intention there was to have a conversation, to reply to people. We made that a little bit easier and then that created a whole new vector for anyone to get in, anyone in the world to address you.
We should have absolutely made @-ing people and conversations easier and more accessible to everyone, but I don't know if we necessarily considered as much as we should have the negative approaches or the harassing approaches that that enables. Another example of this is trends, we found a small company that was looking at our API, doing sentiment analysis, looking for trends. We bought the company without [inaudible] amazing. It shows us what people are thinking. We didn't at that time think about how will people game this and artificially amplify those trends and I don't know if we were equipped to do so.
Dorsey also addressed allegations that Twitter's early homogenous '-- straight, white, and male '-- leadership led to its 10-year failure to address harassment:I think we probably could have recognized the threats much faster, but I don't know. I think the value of building diverse leadership is the perspective and hearing the community, but at the same time, we could have also been better listeners as to what was happening within the service as well. There's probably a lot we potentially ignored or didn't prioritize.
On the notion that Silicon Valley's obsession with scale and fast-paced innovation no longer fits the current moment:We've opined that it doesn't fit for where we are right now because we've put such a priority on health and increasing it. So I think the world has shifted more and more from reach at all cost to quality generally. I mean, you see this in media, you see it in communications, and we have also as our number one priority out quality at the top, which is representative of health. So, but I don't know if that was necessarily the best way to, I don't know if that would have worked to get here because I don't know if we were to understand all the dynamics at play until we reached a particular level.
On whether he thinks he's being played by conservatives who're accusing the company of censorship and shadow banning:Only if in our actions we allow ourselves to be played. I think it's really important that we, and I'm coming to the conclusion that more and more especially me, I need to stay clear. Like here's, I want to acknowledge my bias and I also want to acknowledge there's a separation between me and our company and how we act. We need to show that in our, we need to be a lot more transparent, we need to show that in our product, we need to show that in our policy and we need to show that in our enforcement and I think in all three we have, but it bears repeating again and again and again. The reason we're talking with more conservatives is just in the past we haven't really done much. At least I haven't.
On why he chose to do an interview with Sean Hannity, who has promoted conspiracy theories:I'm not there in an interview with Sean Hannity talking to Sean Hannity, I'm talking with the people that listen to him. My dad used to listen to him. My dad is a Republican, what he had on every single day was Rush Limbaugh. I can't stop and say, 'oh, Sean Hannity, he said x,y, and z so I can't talk to him.' Because I'm not talking to him, I'm talking to who listens to him. That's who we need to reach and that's who we need to discuss with. That's where our customers are. We need to meet them where they are and we may not agree with the channels that they're listening on, but if I have an opportunity to reach them on that channel, I still get to control the conversation.
''They're Squeezing Don Jr. Right Now'': As the Mueller Siege Tightens, Trump's Twitter Rage Crests | Vanity Fair
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 11:28
Trump during an interview in the Oval Office.
By Leah Millis/Reuters.
In recent weeks, Donald Trump has privately expressed doubts about White House lawyer Don McGahn's loyalty. Trump has vented to aides that McGahn doesn't support the House Freedom Caucus's quixotic campaign to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein'--a bank shot that would leave Robert Mueller unprotected. McGahn has also clashed with Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, whom one Republican said McGahn ''hates with the intensity of 1,000 burning suns.'' There has been talk of Trump replacing McGahn with his outside lawyer Emmet Flood.
But The New York Times' revelation that McGahn had spoken for more than 30 hours with Mueller's investigators has rattled Trump and the West Wing to the core, according to three of Trump's outside advisers, causing Trump to ratchet up his Twitter war on Mueller to new heights. Over the weekend, Jared Kushner described Trump's mood as ''rip-shit,'' according to one of the advisers. ''Total meltdown'' was how another adviser put it. ''He's extremely frustrated,'' a Republican close to the White House said.
The biggest fear rippling through the West Wing is that no one knows what McGahn told Mueller during his multiple interviews. ''Trump didn't know how many hours it was,'' one Republican briefed on Trump's thinking said. Last night, The Washington Post reported that McGahn's lawyer, Bill Burck, has been doing damage control, telling the White House that McGahn did not ''incriminate'' Trump. That's provided little solace to Trump and West Wing aides. ''You have to understand McGahn kept notes on every single meeting with Trump,'' one former West Wing official said. ''There's no way this guy is going to protect him.'' (A person close to McGahn disputed that McGahn took extensive notes of his meetings with Trump, but added that McGahn has only provided Trump's lawyers a ''high-level summary'' of his comments to Mueller.) Trump also views McGahn as a ''[Reince] Priebus guy,'' shorthand for being a member of the Republican establishment of which Trump remains suspicious.
Since news broke of McGahn's extensive cooperation with Mueller, Trump has been lashing out on Twitter. ''He's got to frame the narrative. He thinks the media is like a shark: you're either feeding it or it eats you,'' one Republican close to the White House said. Privately, Trump blames his precarious position on the people who work for him. Trump's fury at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, already raging, has been stoked thanks to Sessions's refusal to resign after months of public abuse. ''You can't talk to Trump without him bringing up Sessions,'' one adviser said.
Trump's frustration with Sessions has even caused him to turn on Giuliani. Over the weekend, Trump blamed Giuliani for the entire Russia probe. According to a person to whom the conversation was described, Trump loudly said to his lawyer: ''It's your fault! I offered you attorney general, but you insisted on being secretary of state. Had I picked you none of this would be happening.'' (The White House declined to comment.)
A lot of what's driving Trump's ire, White House advisers said, is Trump's growing realization that his previous legal team, Ty Cobb and John Dowd, made a strategic error in waiving executive privilege to cooperate fully with Mueller. But Trump being Trump, he won't admit to making this mistake, so he directs blame onto others. Another theory for what's motivating Trump's increasingly unhinged tweets is that Mueller may be closing in on his son Don Jr. ''A lot of what Trump is doing is based on the fact [that] Mueller is going after Don Jr.,'' a person close to the Trump family told me. ''They're squeezing Don Jr. right now.''
Don Jr.'s lawyer said, ''I'm not going to comment.'' Another person briefed on the investigation disputed the term "squeeze," but said the Mueller team continues to ask for documents.This post has been updated.
''Donald Trump Directed Him to Commit a Crime'': Michael Cohen Nails the Casket Shut on His Former Boss | Vanity Fair
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 04:13
When Michael Cohen entered the courtroom on the 20th floor in the federal courthouse in the Southern District of New York at just after 4 P.M. on Tuesday, his eyes darted to the small crowd that had gathered to watch the former personal attorney to the resident of the United States plead guilty to 8 counts of tax evasion, lying to a bank, and campaign finance violations. He took a seat at a long table by himself, in a black suit and gold tie'--Trump colors. Four months earlier, more than three dozen agents had executed search warrants for Cohen's home, hotel room, and office, carting off more than 3 million documents and beginning a formal investigation of Cohen, who worked as Donald Trump's fixer and a Trump Organization attorney, for criminal wrongdoing. In the ensuing months, Cohen went from a man who once told me he would take a bullet for Trump to one aiming directly at his former boss, making no secret of the fact that he felt he was being hung out to dry by the president and those around him, that he was strapped for cash, that he was willing to do whatever it took to protect his family.
On Tuesday, that meant turning himself in to agents at the courthouse on Worth Street around 2 p.m., after several days of conversations with the S.D.N.Y. Cohen was processed before he entered the courtroom hours later, where, alongside his attorney, he signed the agreement and handed it back over to the government. The plea agreement doesn't call for him to cooperate with federal prosecutors, as many had expected, but it does leave open the possibility that he could provide information to special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into the Trump campaign's activities during the 2016 presidential election.
Whether Cohen would be able to surrender voluntarily was a matter of concern for him, according to people familiar with his thinking. He had wanted avoid a perp walk, which his children, who are around college-age, would inevitably have had to witness. Last week, he made jokes about setting up a chair in front of the court house in the middle of the night so as to allow agents to take him in immediately, these people said.
Until earlier this month, investigators and Cohen's attorneys had little direct communication, according to the people familiar with the situation. His lead attorney, Guy Petrillo had reached out, but until last week there were no detailed, formal talks about cooperation or charges, these people said. In fact, communication was so limited that although prosecutors filed a letter in court noting that they couldn't access one of Cohen's Blackberry devices, they didn't even reach out to ask for the password.
While he waited to see what investigators might charge him with or if he would, in fact, be able to serve as a cooperating witness, Cohen had attempted to keep his life consistent, despite the obvious holes: he no longer had a law office; Trump was no longer his client, or his friend, or even his ally; he had resigned from his post at the Republican National Committee; his consulting clients had long taken their business elsewhere. So he filled his days by fuming to lawyers and advisers over the coverage of his case. Earlier this month, he moved out of the Regency Hotel, where he had been living since early this year while his apartment underwent renovations after a flood, and back into the fixed-up apartment in a Trump-owned building. In recent weeks, he tweeted that the story in Omarosa Manigualt Newman's new book, in which she wrote that after Cohen's 2017 visit to the Oval Office, she witnessed Trump chewing up a piece of paper, wasn't true. Early last week, he traveled to Florida for a family matter.
When he returned, his legal situation escalated. Prosecutors reached out mid-week, and people close to Cohen began to believe that an arrest was imminent because the government was approaching him with a tight timetable. By week's end, just before Petrillo and prosecutors began to talk, there was a sense that Cohen could be arrested early this week. Cohen made plans to spend time with family and friends over the weekend; there were talks amongst his advisers about setting up a war room of sorts to handle the P.R. battle should he, in fact, get arrested.
Talks continued over the weekend and earlier this week, and those closest to Cohen went quiet'--an indication that the situation had intensified. Sources close to Cohen and from the Southern District emphasized that the situation was ''fluid'''--that it could go in a number of different directions, and that the timing could vary widely. On Sunday evening, The New York Times reported that investigators were looking at charges of bank and tax fraud, and that the government would likely seek to bring these charges as far in advance of the midterm elections as possible. The reaction was immediate: the S.D.N.Y. had not gotten so many press inquiries in such a short timespan since the day President Trump fired former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
An hour before Tuesday afternoon's court hearing, the line of reporters vying for a spot in the room snaked all the way down from the 20th floor. The room was quiet as a federal judge ran through a series of questions to ensure that Cohen was both sound of mind and understood the agreement, with one of the only moments of levity coming when Cohen answered that he had, in fact, had a glass of Glenlivet on the rocks at dinner last night'--an aberration from the typically teetotaling soon-to-be 52-year-old. He was visibly shaken at several points: when the judge asked him if he understood that he was waiving his right to a trial; when he asked if Cohen understood that he would not be able to vote, serve on a jury, or possess a firearm; and when he asked Cohen if he wished to plead guilty because he was guilty. In all, the president's ex-fixer pled guilty to five counts of evasion of income tax, one count of false statements to a bank, and one count each of causing an unlawful corporate contribution and making an excessive campaign contribution. All told, when Cohen is sentenced on December 12, he could serve more than 60 years in prison, though he is expected to be sentenced to far fewer.
The most remarkable moment came as the judge asked Cohen to delineate his crimes as they related to each charge. Referencing handwritten notes to ''keep focus,'' Cohen reached the final two counts'--the ones pertaining to payments he'd made to silence women who alleged affairs with Trump. Under oath, Cohen told the court that the payments had been made ''in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.'' Trump was not named, but the inference was unambiguous, and a statement released by Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, after the hearing made it even less so. ''Today [Michael Cohen] stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election,'' the statement read. ''If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?''
The Senate Accused Them of Selling Kids for Sex. The FBI Raided Their Homes. Backpage.com's Founders Speak for the First Time. - Reason.com
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 15:49
The first time I met Backpage.com co-founder Michael Lacey it was January 2017, and he had just been grilled by a Senate subcommittee over allegations that he and his publishing partner James Larkin had, in the words of the committee report, "knowingly facilitated the criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls." The second time, at his Arizona home in July of this year, he was wearing an ankle monitor.
Both men had been fitted with the trackers three months earlier following an FBI raid on their homes, an experience Lacey likens to the "intense emotional violation" he felt having his house burglarized when he was young. The raid was the culmination of years of legal and political battles between them and both state and federal authorities, including the National Association of Attorneys General, the notorious anti-immigrant sheriff Joe Arpaio, Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, and John and Cindy McCain.
Now, Lacey and Larkin, ages 69 and 70, respectively, are confined by court order to Maricopa County and stuck wearing homing devices under their pant legs to ensure it. The monitors beep like fire alarms when the batteries get low. "It's a constant slap in the face," says Lacey. It's July, and his monitor is plugged into the wall behind Larkin's kitchen table. Larkin grew up in Phoenix, raised four children in the city, and with, Lacey, built a newspaper empire in the desert. Today, Larkin's front yard is a fortress of cactus plants and other desert greenery.
Their confinement will last through 2020, when their trial is scheduled. Their bank accounts have already been seized. "Everything has been brutal," says Larkin.
Both men argue that the case against them is politically motivated and that current stalling on the state's part is designed to force a plea. But "they're going to have to win this in court," says Lacey, "and we don't think they can. And our lawyers don't think they can."
Officially, Larkin, Lacey, and several of their former colleagues were accused of money laundering, conspiracy, and violating the Travel Act, which says local crimes become federal business when they cross state lines. But in the court of public opinion, you'll hear that they were complicit in facilitating underage prostitution as the founders and former owners of the now-shuttered classified ad website Backpage.
After its 2004 launch, Backpage became inextricably linked in the popular imagination with sex trafficking, thanks to a relentless campaign by well-funded activists, government lawyers, and some of the nation's most prominent politicians. Officials heralded the April 2018 FBI seizure of the website and the arrests of Lacey and Larkin as a major victory against the exploitation of women and children.
Yet even the charges both men face hint at the weakness of that story. Neither Lacey nor Larkin is accused of directly participating in any sexual exchange or of having knowledge about any particular crimes advanced through the platform. In fact, law enforcement sources have over the years consistently applauded Backpage for its help making cases against predators and locating runaway teens.
The story of their arrest, then, is better understood as one of near-religious fervor, government greed, and political retribution, in which an escalating panic over commercial sex coincided with a booming online publishing platform.
"We didn't go looking for this fight," says Lacey, whose knuckles are tattooed with the words HOLD FAST. "But we didn't back away from it either."
New Times & Village Voice Media covers 'We Weren't Going to Get Censored by Anybody'For most of their careers, Lacey and Larkin were anti-heroes of the "alternative press" scene'--scrappy purveyors of what longtime California Bay Guardian publisher Bruce Brugman called "desert libertarianism."
The pair saw little tension between truth and profits, had no use for partisan posturing, and enjoyed trolling establishment media. Larkin was the more reserved partner and the business brains of the operation, Lacey its erratic editorial genius. Together, the two men built a free newspaper empire on hustle, idealism, an antagonistic attitude toward authority'--and paid classified ads.
They began with the Phoenix New Times, co-founded by Lacey in 1970 as an anti-war newspaper on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, and would go on to publish papers in 18 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, and St. Louis. Larkin joined in '71, after returning from school in Mexico, where he was inspired by the country's student activists.
From the outset, they wanted to make an impact. "I felt that the paper'...really had an opportunity to be politically powerful," says Larkin. But not in the way that the area's existing papers were powerful: New Times never endorsed candidates and didn't shy from digging into the foibles of area powerbrokers.
In Arizona, that meant taking ample swipes at Sheriff Joe Arpaio'--who would eventually demand years' worth of personal data on New Times readers and have Lacey and Larkin jailed for writing about it'--as well anyone who cozied up to Arpaio, Republican Sen. John McCain, or his wealthy wife, Cindy. The paper would report on the McCains for their involvement with savings-and-loan scammer Charles Keating; dredge up Cindy's dad's connection to mobsters and murdered Arizona Republic journalist Don Bolles; and out Cindy as an opioid addict who forged prescriptions and stole pills from the children's charity she founded.
"We weren't trying to curry favor," says Larkin. "We didn't line up with the establishments in any city that we were involved in'....We didn't really care what politicians saw in us. And that's come back to haunt us."
New Times took a radical approach to topics other outlets wouldn't touch. "It wasn't simply the war," says Lacey. Women's rights and gay rights were also big topics. "One of the first stories we did, I had my girlfriend fly to California to figure out how to get an abortion'--you could not get an abortion in Arizona'--and we just created a roadmap of, 'if you need to do this, here's how you do it.'" Next to full-page ads from J.C. Penney, "we had a cartoon strip called Ben Gay: The Diary of a Liberated Homo." When New Times' first printer had reservations about the content, "Jim found another printer" right away, remembers Lacey. "We weren't going to get censored by somebody who was merely printing the goddamn newspaper. In fact, we weren't going to get censored by anybody."
The legal battles started early. Ironically, their first big showdown with government would also revolve around advertising.
At the time, it was illegal not only to provide or use abortion services in Arizona but also to advertise them. In October 1971, New Times ran an ad for "Problem Pregnancy Information Service," a group arranging transportation to California, where the procedure was legal. The paper was convicted but filed an appeal. Because Roe v. Wade had been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in the interim, a 1973 ruling from the Arizona Court of Appeals not only invalidated the conviction but found the state's whole set of abortion statutes unconstitutional.
The following year, New Times would successfully challenge restrictions at the University of Arizona, which had declared that the paper could only be distributed at six points around campus and must pay for the privilege. "The free publication and dissemination of books and other forms of printed matter are within the constitutionally protected freedoms of'...press or speech," noted the Court, and it is "immaterial that dissemination takes place under commercial auspices." It also rejected the school's argument that the potential for newspaper littering justified limiting New Times distribution.
Those early fights previewed what would become the paper's typical "stubborn approach to bureaucrats telling us 'you can't do that' or 'we're not going to allow you to do that,'" says Larkin. "We knew what our rights were to distribute opinion and news."
Before long, the attacks would come from far outside of Arizona, as New Times bought up failing alt-weeklies in other cities'--first Denver, then Miami and Dallas'--and turned them around. In 1990, Phoenix magazine called the two men "the new presslords" and described their plans as "escalating."
That, Lacey said at the time, "defines our response at New Times. You wanna pick a fight? Great. We escalate."
Richard B. Levine/Newscom
'Sleaze Merchants'By 2012, Lacey and Larkin sat atop 17 newspapers that, by their count, had won more than 1,400 journalism awards, including a 2007 Pulitzer for Jonathan Gold's food writing in LA Weekly. But their publications offered more than hard-hitting investigative expos(C)s. New Times papers also covered such advertiser-friendly topics as food, arts, and entertainment. Because the papers were free to readers, it was advertising'--particularly classifieds'--that paid the bills.
The rear section of any New Times paper was packed with such ads'--help wanted, for rent, for sale'--culminating in a premium-priced ad showcase on the paper's back page.
Starting in 1989, New Times Inc. used "Audiotext"'--which combined pay-per-minute 900-numbers with call-in voicemail boxes'--to let readers reply directly to personals ads. It would give a huge boost to ad revenues and prove so popular that the company set up its own telephone service.
Pioneered by alt-weeklies, "voice personals" soon spread to mainstream newspapers, becoming a multibillion-dollar business. Like print ads before and online ads to come, these services drew ire from concerned citizens and attorneys general, largely because so many of them were sexually oriented. In 1990, the Associated Press reported that "sleaze merchants" were threatening "to turn '900'-number dialing services into the 'Times Square of telephone services' unless tough national standards are adopted."
By the turn of the century, however, the money began to dry up. Voice personals'--and paid, printed classified ads in general'--could no longer cover the tab for the journalism they had long supported. The internet, and Craigslist specifically, upended the business model that had sustained Lacey and Larkin's newspapers by providing an online platform for classifieds untethered from articles.
When New Times Inc. acquired Village Voice Media in 2005, the publisher of the storied New York alt-weekly said Craigslist had already cost the paper millions in revenue. It was "the biggest single crisis the Village Voice has faced in its whole 50 years." Alt-weeklies across the country were floundering.
Amid all this, in 2004, Backpage.com was born.
'Can't Do This Without Your Help' Backpage To Larkin, Backpage was a natural extension of the company's long relationship with classified advertising'--and a way to adapt to new technologies. Until its April 2018 seizure by the feds, the site was a city-based platform for online advertising, and like so many print classifieds, it would become an online hub for marketing and procuring a variety of sexual services. This was especially true after public pressure forced Craigslist to crack down on "erotic services" ads in 2010.
Like Craigslist, Backpage was divided into categories for different types of posts, most of which had nothing to do with sex work. But the "adult" wing of the site, subdivided into sections for strippers, "phones and websites," "dom and fetish," "male escorts," "escorts," and more, was what garnered the most attention.
Posting in most sections was free, but Backpage charged for adult ads and required posters to pay by credit card'--steps specifically enacted at the request of federal authorities and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to help identify abusers. In addition, people advertising in any section could pay for premium features, such as automatic reposting.
As in print, direct offers of sex for money were prohibited under Backpage's terms of service. Yet many ads in the escort section were veiled promotions for adult prostitution.
For many sex workers, web platforms proved cheaper and more efficient than print ads. They had much lower barriers to entry and much higher returns compared to starting one's own website. And finding clients online was also safer than working the streets, plus didn't require the assistance of third parties like pimps or escort services.
Neither Lacey nor Larkin expected serious trouble. New Times "had personals from day one," says Larkin. "We've had adult advertising from 1970."
Initially, the relationship between Backpage and law enforcement agents was cordial and cooperative. Ads that directly indicated underage or forced prostitution were blocked and reported to NCMEC and law enforcement, as were posts deemed suspicious or likely to contain images of someone under 21, the legal threshold for missing children. Backpage lawyers gave tutorials at national police conferences on how to work with Backpage records staff for investigative purposes, and management met with NCMEC monthly.
CEO Carl Ferrer also testified in sexual exploitation cases, and Backpage staff were described by authorities as quick and cooperative in responding to records subpoenas'--around 100 per month by 2011. Statements from a wide array of officials highlight the site's value to investigators in solving cases, often noting how much more helpful it was than other web forums.
"Your response has been outstanding compared to most other companies," a Minnesota sheriff's detective wrote in June 2012, according to documents Backpage submitted during a Congressional inquiry last year.
"I know your company is vilified nationally because it is an easy target," wrote one Denver police sergeant and member of the FBI's Innocence Lost Task Force in 2014. "I have told numerous people that Backpage is law enforcement friendly and does not support human trafficking. I've been mentioned how if Backpage is every [sic] shut down, another website will take over, likely overseas, that will not be so helpful to [law enforcement]. '...I'd rather have a partnership than an adversarial relationship with your company (or any others) so that when the need arises, we can work together to go after those that are exploiting and trafficking others."
Other law enforcement officials described runaways returned to their families and violent pimps caught because of Backpage assistance. "Can't do this without your help," wrote one FBI agent in 2015.
In 2011, Ferrer even got a certificate from the Justice Department thanking him for his "outstanding cooperation and assistance in connection with an investigation of great importance," signed by then''head of the FBI Robert Mueller.
At the same time, Backpage was becoming extremely financially successful. Between 2004 and 2008, the company launched more than 50 city-specific sites. As it grew, Ferrer and a few others were increasingly responsible for everyday operations, with Larkin and (to a somewhat lesser degree) Lacey swooping in on big-picture issues and serving as public figureheads for the company. By 2012, Backpage's annual revenue had risen to $78 million. Business was booming'--and that made Backpage a target.
'Adult Content Advertising [Is] in Our DNA'As Backpage's fortunes rose, a loose coalition of activists, journalists, politicians, and law enforcement officials began an aggressive public campaign against what they described as unprecedented levels of "human trafficking," with an emphasis on the sexual exploitation of underage girls. In practice, this led to a nationwide crackdown on consensual prostitution, with online classified operations like Backpage caught in the crosshairs.
The campaign started under George W. Bush, whose administration directed millions in grants to task forces and religious groups opposed to sex work. "I think what was different about this fight was that the politics was merged with religion," says Lacey. But the flow of funds, along with political pressure, would only pick up under Obama.
In 2008, state attorneys general began hounding Craigslist over its "adult" ad section. Later, officials started running annual stings with names like Operation Cross Country that were framed as efforts to save exploited children but largely busted adult sex workers and their clients.
Both the Justice Department and Clinton-era ambassador Swanee Hunt would hire the same PR firm to popularize the problem as one of "ending demand." Under this framework, any arrest of a prostitution customer'--even if the exchange was totally consensual'--could be called a "sex trafficking operation," and any website where prostitution was advertised was complicit. Hunt would go on to orchestrate an annual "National Johns Suppression Initiative" spearheaded by Chicago-area Sheriff Tom Dart, and strike a funding arrangement with Seattle-area prosecutors saying they must frame the arrest of men who wrote on adult-escort forum The Review Board as part of a "sex trafficking website" takedown.
In August 2010, 17 state attorneys general threatened Craigslist again over its adult ads, and the site finally agreed to shut down the section.
"It is possible that this will mean a deluge of adult content ads for backpage.com," Larkin wrote in an internal email (which would later be cited by prosecutors as evidence of Backpage's "aggressive" push to corner the sex-ad market). "We have with the Village Voice probably the longest run of adult content advertising in the US and it is, like it or not, in our DNA."
After Craigslist's sex ads folded, Backpage beefed up measures to catch and report suspected abuse. At the request of law enforcement, the NCMEC tip line was posted atop many of the site's pages, and some advertising terms were banned.
Racy ads could still be found on Craiglist, of course, and some say they became even dodgier in the absence of credit-card requirements. "Craigslist was a cesspool," a professional dominatrix who goes by "Klitty Kat" tells Reason. Backpage "was cheap to place ads on, but you had to pay, and payments are traceable." And unlike Craigslist or platforms that have become popular since its closing, Backpage "also flagged ads pretty quick," she says. "I would report an ad [to Backpage], and their response was flag and remove. Ask questions later."
However, Backpage refused requests by prosecutors to remove its adult ad section completely. Liz McDougall, an attorney who came to Backpage after doing decades of pro-bono work on behalf of women and children, told New York's City Council in 2012 that Craigslist shuttering its adult section "had no practical effect."
Backpage also proactively sued over laws in three states that sought to hold online advertising platforms accountable for user content, successfully arguing that such laws were unconstitutional and collecting attorneys fees from those states.
Twitter Perhaps most importantly, Lacey, Larkin, and their papers refused to sign onto the idea that America was in the midst of a child sex-trafficking epidemic or that Backpage was part of the problem. Village Voice reporters pushed back in print against New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's whopper-filled op-eds on Backpage, Ashton Kutcher's "Real Men Don't Buy Sex" campaign, and emerging Super Bowl sex-trafficking myths.
Meanwhile, Backpage lawyers defended the company against civil lawsuits and onslaughts from state attorneys general. The company defeated civil challenges in Missouri and Washington after federal judges ruled that the lawsuits were prohibited by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA)'--a provision that says that for civil tort and state prosecutorial purposes, digital platforms and publishers shall not be treated as the speaker of user-generated content. This ensures that Yelp, Twitter, eBay, Reddit, and other online entities don't face an unending string of personal-injury suits and local criminal charges.
The law was squarely on the side of Backpage. But public campaigns against the site continued'--and it soon became clear that Lacey and Larkin's newspapers would pay the price.
"This particular fight is important and not one that we intend to abandon," Lacey and Larkin wrote staff in a 2012 email. "At the same time, Backpage's battles are an enormous distraction to publishers, editors and readers of Village Voice Media." To mitigate that problem, the newspapers were sold off to a group of the company's executives.
Section 230 continued to be a stumbling block for states prosecuting Backpage, so prosecutors declared war on the law. In July 2013, 49 attorneys general petitioned congressional leaders to amend the CDA to allow them to bring criminal charges against Backpage. One of the effort's key backers was then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a member of the U.S. Senate.
In May 2014, Missouri Republican Rep. Ann Wagner introduced the SAVE Act, which created federal criminal liability (and a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence) for any person or platform that knowingly advertised a victim of sex trafficking. Wagner repeatedly claimed that 300,000 children were sex trafficked in the U.S. each year, when actual Justice Department data places the number of minors in the U.S. sex trade around 9,000-10,000, with the vast majority doing so without the aid of a "trafficker." The SAVE Act passed in watered-down form as part of the omnibus Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) of 2015, with congressional press releases describing it as a way to directly target Backpage.
Backpage challenged the law immediately. A federal judge dismissed the case but stressed the importance of the knowingly requirement. The ruling "confirms that Backpage is not an appropriate subject of a SAVE Act prosecution," Robert Corn-Revere, a longtime lawyer for Backpage (and occasional lawyer for Reason), told Politico in 2016.
To date, the SAVE Act has yet to be used. But authorities were already working on other ways to bring about the demise of Backpage and its owners. Banks received increasingly stern warnings from federal financial regulators about doing business with sexually oriented enterprises, part of a program called "Operation Choke Point." Major institutions like Chase suddenly terminated their relationships with Backpage and many others, from porn performers to condom companies.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Dart moved from working with Hunt on nabbing prostitution customers to targeting credit-card companies that worked with Backpage. In July 2015, he threatened Visa and Mastercard with legal action if they didn't stop accepting payments from the site's customers. They complied.
In response, Backpage temporarily instituted free ads for all sections, using the promo code FREESPEECH, and introduced alternative payment options including bitcoin'--actions which would later be used against them. The company also sued over Dart's actions.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Backpage's favor, delivering a sharp rebuke to Dart in the process. "If Backpage is violating the law," wrote Judge Richard Posner in a November 2015 decision,"you'd think the sheriff would sue Backpage. But no; he tried that against Craigslist, a classified-ads website that had an adult section similar to Backpage's, and he failed."
So Dart attacked "not by litigation but instead by suffocation, depriving the company of ad revenues by scaring off its payments-service providers," continued Posner. He used "the power of his office to threaten legal sanctions against the credit-card companies for facilitating future speech, and by doing so he is violating the First Amendment." (In October 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.)
Congress, however, could still take action. In 2015, while Backpage was dealing with Dart, the Senate Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations opened an investigation. Lawmakers demanded that Ferrer'--who had purchased Backpage from Lacey and Larkin earlier that year'--appear before them to answer questions. (He didn't show, and his attorneys told Congress he was out of the country.)
It was Ferrer's problem now. For the first time in 45 years, Lacey and Larkin were out of the direct business of managing any news, publishing, or advertising venture.
In 2013, Maricopa County paid the two men a $3.75 million settlement for their wrongful 2007 arrest by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They used the money to establish the Frontera Fund, which gives money to immigrant rights organizations in Arizona. For a brief while, it looked like the two men might settle calmly into their 60s, working on causes close to their hearts and homes.
It was not to be. Backpage had earned the ire of politically powerful enemies on both sides of the aisle, and those enemies were determined to make an example of its founders.
screenshots/CSpan 'It Was a Star Chamber Experience'On October 6, 2016, Carl Ferrer flew from Amsterdam back to Dallas and was promptly arrested on a California warrant. Kamala Harris' office accused him of pimping, including some counts involving minors. The Texas state attorney general said he was "making money off...modern-day slavery."
Lacey and Larkin were also arrested and charged with "conspiracy to commit pimping." They spent four days jailed in Sacramento, California. Harris, who at the time was running for the U.S. Senate, called them "despicable" and labeled Backpage "the world's top online brothel."
News of the arrest was covered extensively in major media outlets, with Harris quoted prominently. Her complaint was that bad actors and teenagers sometimes used the site'--and her evidence that Backpage "knew" this to be true was that it reported suspected underage ads to NCMEC and cooperated with police. Harris was using Backpage's history of working with law enforcement against it.
"Make no mistake," said Lacey and Larkin in statement that month. "Harris has won all that she was looking to win when she had us arrested. Like Sheriff Arpaio, she issued her sanctimonious public statement, controlled her media cycle and got her 'perp walk' on the evening news." While such targeting was not new to them, this was the first time a state had decided it was "okay to consider the First Amendment implications after, not before, hauling people off to jail."
In early December, a Sacramento Superior Court judge dismissed the case. On December 23, with just a few days left in office, Harris tried again, filing new conspiracy-to-commit-pimping charges against Lacey, Larkin, and Ferrer, along with allegations of money laundering. Ferrer also faced 12 counts of pimping. Again, all pimping and conspiracy charges were dismissed, though the judge allowed a money-laundering case to proceed.
By this point, however, Harris was headed to Washington. As a freshman senator she would join the body's permanent subcommittee on investigations, which had authority to compel testimony from Lacey, Larkin, and Ferrer. It did just that in January 2017.
At the beginning of 2017, Ferrer relented and closed Backpage's adult section. A statement from his lawyers said it was "the direct result of unconstitutional government censorship." (Sex ads quickly jumped to the site's other sections.) But even though Backpage had folded'--and even though Lacey and Larkin hadn't been in charge of the business since 2015'--they were still required to come to D.C. and testify before the congressional committee.
In theory, the January 10 hearing was focused on the narrow question of whether Backpage had "knowingly" edited user posts in a way that would deprive it of Section 230 protection and allow the feds to target it under the SAVE Act. In practice, it was a show trial designed to publicly shame all three men.
"It was a star chamber experience," Larkin says. "They didn't have any interest in anything other than their political grandstanding."
The hearing featured John McCain making an appearance "and his wife is sitting the chamber watching," complains Lacey. Through the McCain Institute, Cindy had been promoting I Am Jane Doe, a documentary about sex trafficking that was intensely critical of Section 230 protections for Backpage.
Two of the film's subjects'--a pair of mothers whose teen daughters were allegedly trafficked on Backpage'--showed up at the Senate hearing. Both gave emotional testimony about how their daughters had run away from home and been "sold" on the site. Their families had been plaintiffs in the first two civil lawsuits against Backpage in 2010 and 2012; their cases and appeals had been dismissed by federal courts. Since then, the moms had become regulars at government hearings and their daughters' stories fixtures in the media.
No one at the Senate hearing mentioned that in both cases, the men who exploited their daughters had been caught and convicted with the help of records provided by Backpage. (One of the mothers said she had seen no restitution money from her daughter's trafficker, even though court records show dozens of payments.)
Everyone from Backpage took the Fifth in response to every question.
A post-hearing statement from Backpage said "we are confident that the courts ultimately will find, as the Supreme Court did after the abuses of the McCarthy era by this same subcommittee, that 'investigations conducted solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to 'punish' those investigated are indefensible.'"
A month later, at another Senate hearing, Ashton Kutcher would appear as an expert on "ending modern slavery." The actor said his work was "only enabled by the McCain Institution." He called John McCain "a hero on this issue" and blew the senator a kiss.
After the January hearing, I asked Lacey what comes next. "Right now?" he said. "A drink."
It was a temporary respite. A little over a year later, federal agents would invade his home.
Hector Amezcua/TNS/Newscom
'The Prosecutor Intends to Put Us in Prison for the Rest of Our Lives'On Saturday, April 7, 2018, Michael Lacey and his new wife, Jill, were scheduled to throw a party at their home to celebrate their recent nuptials. Family and friends had come in from out of town. The honeymoon was booked.
Instead, Michael would spend the second week of April in a federal detention center, with part of that time spent locked up in an isolation cell.
On Friday morning, the feds arrived. "There were 20 to 25 agents on the property in flak jackets, all with guns," Lacey says. Jill was out hiking, but her mother and aunt'--both in their 70s'--were home. The agents would not permit Lacey to warn the women before they stormed the bedroom and then the bathroom, where Jill's mom was showering.
They "put a gun on her when she was naked, started screaming at her" to get out of the shower, says Lacey. When she asked for a towel, one allegedly responded that when an FBI agent tells you to do something, you do it.
When Jill returned, agents told her to take only her license, her keys, and her older relatives and go. They took her iPad, desktop computer, and two laptops, refusing to return them until she hired her own criminal attorneys and the feds had made a copy of everything. They also confiscated her jewelry'--decades' worth of items, almost all accumulated long before she met Michael'--and made her provide documentation of where each piece came from before getting it back.
FBI agents "ransacked the house," says Lacey. "They took all the art they could put their hands on," leaving only three big pieces in the living room and a vintage Goldwater poster in the office. ("Apparently, they were Johnson supporters," Lacey quips.)
His cabin in the mountains was raided as well, with agents deciding "to cowboy it'--kick their way through doors," Lacey says. "Went up and rummaged through the attic, cut wires to [security] devices...cut wires on TVs."
Larkin's home was also invaded by armed and masked cops. The feds knew he was on a flight back from Scotland at the time'--the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were waiting to handcuff him on the plane once it arrived'--because attorneys for both men had made it clear that they would turn themselves in if need be. Instead, a coalition of local cops and federal agents took the splashiest route possible, and the one most likely to ensure that Lacey's and Larkin's loved ones would not be spared.
Less than two weeks later, Dominic Lanza, an Arizona-based U.S. attorney who had helped coordinate the raid and whose nomination to a federal judgeship had been languishing since January, was confirmed by a Senate subcommittee that McCain sits on.
"It is not overly dramatic to say that the prosecutor intends to put us in prison for the rest of our lives," Lacey says.
'This Isn't About Sex Work to Me. This Is About Speech.'Although the state requested that their trial not be held until 2020, Lacey and Larkin's bank accounts were quickly seized, leaving them struggling to pay their lawyers. Among the federal government's allegations against them was that the decision to allow alternative forms of payment following the pressure campaign against credit card companies and banks working with Backpage constitutes evidence of money laundering. The government also filed liens against any property they owned or had helped to finance.
"An old friend, nearly 80, asked to borrow money for a home," Lacey says. He had his lawyer send her the funds. In late July, U.S. attorneys "moved on her home'--as modest a residence as you can imagine, just her and her dogs."
In April, the men were released on $1 million bail each. They are confined to Maricopa County and forced to wear location trackers on their ankles at all times.
On April 5, Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering on behalf of Backpage and one count, on his own behalf, of knowingly conspiring to facilitate prostitution. The plea was part of a deal that saw the additional charges dropped and the prosecution recommend that Ferrer spend no more than five years in prison. Under the agreement, he must cooperate with the state's prosecution of Lacey, Larkin, and the other former Backpage executives indicted with them.
Because Ferrer turned state's evidence, the U.S. attorney's office is trying to disqualify Lacey and Larkin's previous lawyers from defending them on conflict of interest grounds, since they had previously represented Ferrer.
"They try to exhaust all your financial resources so that you can't afford these lawyers," Lacey says, and "if the lawyers are still around, they then move to get rid of the lawyer."
"You know, we think we will prevail if we're allowed to defend ourselves," Larkin adds. "If we're allowed to use our resources to defend ourselves in court, we will prevail." But that's a big if.
Until now, few platform creators have had the capital or the constitution to fight back to the extent Lacey and Larkin have. Since Backpage became the biggest target in the crusade against "trafficking," at least three additional adult-ad-specific platforms'--MyRedbook.com, Rentboy.com, and The Review Board'--have been shut by the feds without a lot of pushback.
Other sex worker resources have also shuttered since the April 2018 passage of FOSTA, Rep. Wagner's follow-up to the failed SAVE Act. The measure finally accomplished advocates' longtime goal of amending Section 230 so state attorneys general and alleged victims can successfully target web platforms over the actions of their users. In addition, the legislation made it a federal crime to host any digital content that facilitates prostitution. The Senate's version of the bill was introduced by McCain and fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.
FOSTA was sold as a way to hold Backpage "accountable" and was passed over explicit objections from sex workers, sex-trafficking victims' groups, and even the Department of Justice. Trump signed FOSTA into law in May'--a few weeks after Lacey and Larkin were raided and jailed. The Section 230 revision, it turned out, wasn't needed to prosecute Backpage. And it has done little to stop the flow of sexually oriented online advertising since.
"You know, there's this old, lame-ass horseshit that priests and nuns will tell you about 'God doesn't give you a burden that you can't carry,'" Lacey says. (Both he and Larkin are products of Catholic schools.) "We will carry this burden, and we will fucking prevail at the end of this goddamn shit. But it's ugly in the middle."
On August 17, former Backpage marketing and sales director Daniel Hyer pled guilty to one count of conspiracy, a class D felony, in exchange for a pass on the multiple counts of money laundering and facilitating prostitution that he was facing. The conspiracy Hyer admitted to was working with Ferrer and former Backpage executive Scott Spear to entice posters from other adult-ad forums to Backpage and moderating ads for adult prostitution to disguise their true nature. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 19.
Lacey and Larkin are convinced their prosecution is political. "Part of the reason this has really worked is because you have Cindy and John McCain involved in this," Larkin says, "and they see an opportunity to even a score. We think there's no question that this is partly their doing."
"The fact that the law is clear about this [yet] they can still ignore it and play to the rafters, you know? That's politics," says Lacey.
This time they have no choice but to play along.
"We've never, ever broken the law," Larkin says. "Never have, never wanted to. This isn't really'--I know this is probably heresy'--this isn't about sex work to me. This is about speech."
"This is the biggest speech battle in America right now," Lacey adds. "The First Amendment isn't about protecting the rights of the McLaughlin Group to speak their mind on television. This is specifically what the fuck it's about. Unpopular speech. Dangerous speech. Speech that threatens the norm. Not only do we have that right, our readers have that right. The [Backpage] posters have that right.
"We spent 40 years doing journalism, groundbreaking journalism, and they want to take all that away," he says'--because "they don't like who exercised their constitutional rights to use our advertising platform. And that has no goddamn bearing. The law doesn't say, 'You get to pick and choose who exercises their constitutional rights by whether or not you like their lifestyle.' It's just incredible."
*CORRECTION: This piece originally stated that Lacey and Larkin retained shares in the Village Voice Media spinoff company in 2012; they did not.
As Lira Collapses, Turks Are Piling Into Cryptocurrency | Zero Hedge
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 14:31
"They expect a return to the gold standard, or some IMF-globalist one world digital currency to provide a framework for the post-dollar reserve currency system."
However, contrary to the usual hubris and arrogance of Western banksters and so-called '‚¬conomist$ the future of money is being decided by those countries that actually have physical reserves and resources and the military power to control them. That is not the so-called Western democracies.
More Fractured Fairy Tales from the electric Bitcon tulip garden and why the smart bubble farmer is keeping a very watchful eye on the garden gate before the usual mob shows up to harvest these glorious, virtual tulip$! This Blip's for you!
Dump your "barbarous relics" of gold and silver, mortgage your house, put your daughters on the street and become a virtual zillionaire; everyone's a winner, why not YOU! The much loved Millennial App and those that bought into it and who will never get out (on time) are simply being shagged, tagged and dipped by the banksters of the Rothschild owned IMF and BIS for future total control, yet most Millennial App-sters haven't got a clue what that means. Bitcoin is more than a bubble, it is a Psy Op to herd the gullible sheeple to their electronic meadow for the final fleecing and the end of freedom as we know it. "Greed is god", to paraphrase Gordon Lizzard in the Wall St sewer and Potemkin Village (idiot) USSAN "economy" of war and fraud by the Zero 1% and nobody knows that better than a Rothschild wolf shepherding his flock of fools to their electronic doom for their inevitable slaughter. Buy more Blipcoin$ by all means! The banksters love it. First the Blip and then the chip! They see this as their last real chance (apart from blowing up the planet) to hold onto their "exorbitant privilege" and free lunch; the evil Saudi Mercan IOU Pentacon Protection Racket petroscrip fiat filth, euphemistically known as the USSAN dollah.
Is everybody in, the show is about to begin.
As the zealot computer whizzes whizz away "mining their Bitcoins" burning through megawatts of electricity blindly setting up the global infrastructure for their own cashless gulag, the banksters and their agents wait in the wings and inflate the shiny bubbles that the brain dead can't resist. This is "wealth" like never before being spun 24 7 from dope soap and money changer blather ad nauseam; Carlo Ponzi and side kick Bernie Madoff would be gob smacked at the simplicity of this fiat fiat to the power of 10, simply gob smacked. When the last of the "smart" phone jabbing crypto herd are corralled in their IRS slash NSA electronic pen the Blipcoin millennial App is going to get ...zapped. The loyal blockchain gang however will not escape the paypal gulag that they themselves have embraced and in which they have willingly imprisoned themselves when Fedcon or some such money changer variant seamlessly replaces their beautiful "anonymous" Bitcoin. Bitcon will inevitably be destroyed in a blink with the mother of all NSA slash bankster bred viruses ever to be unleashed on an uppity mob afflicted with delusions of independence from their chosenite bankster masters. The Creature from Jekyll Island is a pussy in comparison to the ghost in the machine that today's Red Shield bagmen have in mind. Shlomo Nakamoto say..."not so easy to leave heavenly Blipcoin Temple when one come in.....not everybody go back out."
However, contrary to the usual hubris and arrogance of Western banksters and so-called '‚¬conomist$ the future of money is being decided by those countries that actually have physical reserves and resources and the military power to control them. For Russia and China "reserves and resources" does not mean the unpayable debt that so-called Western capitalists imagine "wealth" to be as they continue to impoverish their hostage nations with their anti capitalist cant that has turned the so called Western "democracies" into impoverished welfare ruins over run by Soros' migrant hordes to distract the masses from the real enemy among them. One gets it or one doesn't as the case may be but the Anglozionazi centric world is already a thing of the past. That future does not include a "global reserve currency" style Fedcon slash Blipcoin owned by the money changers and globally imposed as the Pentacon Kissinger Saudi Mercan IOU petroscrip toilet paper dollah was, whatever about being imposed on USSAN and Europeon debt slaves only too happy to exist in their cashless, electronic gulags "all watched over by machines of loving grace" as they jab their electro thingies In lieu of using a brain to "purchase" their Latte dumbass I'm a moron five buck starschmucks zio piss "coffee". In a world of NSA slash CIA hacking gone mad, run as these criminal enterprises are by murderous thugs and sociopaths, how the hell can an unknown App like Blipcoin suddenly be "wealth" and how in God's name can gold be purged from human DNA after 3000 years functioning as real money simply because the shamanic Satanic banksters in the West and the Pedophile Politburo in Natostan ghetto Brussels no longer have any and the brain dead Millennials with their prosthetic blinking plastic gizmo brains, never managed to grasp what in fact real money is? The simple answer is that actual physical money such as gold can't be purged and replaced with fiat or blips or BS and try as the globo mob might it won't get purged and in the end when the electricity inevitably goes out the surviving Millennials will wake the hell up or go belly up when their "survival" Apps no longer bring home the bacon.
Apart from that the instability and the vicarious nature of this illusory phenomenon Bitcoin responding at the incredible velocity of 5 transactions per second and its ever expanding blockchain snaking and dragging its ledger of digital minutiae through the "ether of things" Bitcoin is positively Flintstonian in its power. Visa can pump debt at 50 thousand scams a second and YouTube can process over 350 thousand delusions per second. And still some folks imagine this ethereal "currency" WILL go global and can't be jammed and hacked and will always be an anonymous tool of the "people"! Good luck with that when the big money decides to pull the plug not to mention when the much ballyhooed Korean EMP (or anyone else's) fries USSA and the lights go out for 20 years. Then of course it will be way too late and the lucky gardeners who got out on time will be able to "invest" their leftovers in the latest fiat Fedcon scam and the rigged "market" chosenite con job can continue on its merry way in our cashless gulag "all watched over by machines of loving grace" for the next century of usurious terror; at least the chosenite mob and their political whores have it figured that way.
Shlomo Satoshi San send very big tanks to all loyal b'‚¬£iever$ from refuge of heavenly Blipcoin Temple and say may Blip be with you now and when light go out.
Dutch tulips, when the flower bulb bubbles cost more than houses.
https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/rijksstudio/timeline-dutch-history/1637-tu...
Blipcoin vanished after the lights went out in Puerto....Pobre!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjzeFOKUR04
Beautiful Blipcoin bubbl'‚¬$, rising rising until they pop and go pooooooooooooooooof! If you're smart you will harvest your electric tulips before "They" do.
http://www.bitlisten.com/
Watch the bubble expand until it pops.
https://www.cryptocompare.com/coins/btc/markets/USD
The IOU Saudi Mercan Pentacon backed (barely) IOU Petroscrip dollah clogging the Ponzi sewer is being flushed.
https://www.silverdoctors.com/gold/gold-news/bill-holter-oil-for-yuan-sh...
A very smart Granny explains it all below in words that even snowflakes, with their hand held thingies hiding in mommy's basement, can understand.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcOM1e9blBI
Coinbase ordered to give the IRS data on users trading more than $20,000.
https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/29/coinbase-internal-revenue-service-taxa...
I like to think(it has to be!)of a cybernetic ecologywhere we are free of our laborsand joined back to nature,returned to our mammalbrothers and sisters,and all watched overby machines of loving grace.
Richard Brautigan
https://allpoetry.com/All-Watched-Over-By-Machines-Of-Loving-Grace
New 'triple pill' could eliminate high blood pressure
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:51
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Animal crackers break out of their cages
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:50
After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of animal crackers are roaming free.
Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, has redesigned the packaging of its Barnum's Animals crackers after relenting to pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PETA, which has been protesting the use of animals in circuses for more than 30 years, wrote a letter to Mondelez in the spring of 2016 calling for a redesign.
"Given the egregious cruelty inherent in circuses that use animals and the public's swelling opposition to the exploitation of animals used for entertainment, we urge Nabisco to update its packaging in order to show animals who are free to roam in their natural habitats," PETA said in its letter.
Mondelez agreed and started working on a redesign. In the meantime, the crackers' namesake circus '-- Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey '-- folded for good. The 146-year-old circus, which had removed elephants from its shows in 2016 because of pressure from PETA and others, closed down in May 2017 due to slow ticket sales.
The redesign of the boxes, now on U.S. store shelves, retains the familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent "Barnum's Animals" lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages '-- implying that they're traveling in boxcars for the circus '-- the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland. The outline of acacia trees can be seen in the distance.
"When PETA reached out about Barnum's, we saw this as another great opportunity to continue to keep this brand modern and contemporary," said Jason Levine, Mondelez's chief marketing officer for North America, in a statement.
Mondelez is based in Illinois, which passed a statewide ban on circuses with elephants that went into effect in January. More than 80 U.S. cities have fully or partially banned circuses with wild animals, according to Animal Defenders International.
PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman says she's celebrating the box redesign for the cultural change it represents.
"The new box for Barnum's Animals crackers perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates the caging and chaining of wild animals for circus shows," she said.
Nabisco has been making Barnum's Animals crackers since 1902. It has redesigned its boxes before, but only for limited-time special editions. In 1995, it offered an endangered species collection that raised money for the World Wildlife Fund. In 1997, it offered a zoo collection that raised money for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. And in 2010, it worked with designer Lilly Pulitzer on a pastel-colored box that raised money for tiger conservation.
The company won't say how many boxes it sells each year. Canadian boxes already had a different design and aren't affected.
Oxytocin and social norms reduce xenophobia '-- Universit¤t Bonn
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:41
How can xenophobia be reduced and altruism strengthened? Researchers at University Hospital Bonn have shown in a new study that the bonding hormone oxytocin together with social norms significantly increases the willingness to donate money to refugees in need, even in people who tend to have a skeptical attitude towards migrants. The results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
We tend to be more altruistic to our own family and friends than to perfect strangers. The recent migration of Middle Eastern refugees into European societies has further magnified the issue, with a large divide in society between people who do and do not support the refugees. ''This is partly due to evolution: Only through solidarity and cooperation within one's own group was it possible to raise children and survive when competing against unknown and rivaling groups for scarce resources in pre-civilized times,'' explains Prof. Rene Hurlemann from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn Medical Center. However, this is diametrically opposed to the parable of the Good Samaritan, which serves as an example of selfless altruism by describing a Samaritan who incurs personal costs to help a stranger in need. ''From a neurobiological perspective, the basis of xenophobia and altruism is not yet precisely understood,'' says Hurlemann.
Under the psychiatrist's supervision, a team of researchers at the University of Bonn, the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa (USA), and the University of L¼beck conducted three experiments in which they tested a total of 183 subjects, who were all German natives. In the Laboratory for Experimental Economics (BonnEconLab) at the University of Bonn, they completed a donation task on a computer. The donation task included 50 authentic case vignettes describing the personal needs of poor people, 25 of which were portrayed as local people in need, while the other 25 people were portrayed as refugees.
With an endowment of 50 euros, the participants could decide for each individual case whether they wanted to donate a sum between zero and one euro. The test subjects were allowed to keep any money that was not donated. ''We were surprised that the participants in the first experiment donated around 20 percent more to refugees than to local people in need,'' says Nina Marsh from Prof. Hurlemann's team.
Questionnaire on attitude towards migrants
In another independent experiment involving over 100 participants, the subjects' personal attitudes towards refugees were assessed in a questionnaire. Then half of the group received the bonding hormone oxytocin via a nasal spray, while the other half of the group received a placebo before they were exposed to the donation task established in the first experiment: again the participants decided how much of their 50 euros they wanted to donate to locals or refugees.
Under the influence of oxytocin, the individuals who tended to show a positive attitude towards refugees doubled their donations to both the locals and the refugees. However, oxytocin had no effect in individuals who expressed a rather defensive attitude towards migrants: In those participants, the tendency to donate was very low to locals and refugees alike. ''Oxytocin clearly increases generosity towards those in need, however, if this altruistic fundamental attitude is missing, the hormone alone cannot create it,'' says Hurlemann.
Oxytocin in combination with social norms decreases xenophobia
How can people who tend to have a xenophobic attitude be motivated to be more altruistic? The researchers assumed that the addition of social norms could be a starting point. In a third experiment, they thus presented the participants with the average donation their peers made in the first experiment under each case vignette. Half of the participants once again received oxytocin. The result was astounding. ''Now, even people with negative attitudes towards migrants donated up to 74 percent more to refugees than in the previous round,'' reports Nina Marsh. Through the combined administration of oxytocin with a social norm, the donations for refugees in those skeptical towards migrants nearly reached half of the sums donated by the group, which showed a positive attitude towards refugees.
What conclusions can be drawn from these results? It appears that pairing oxytocin with a social norm can help counter the effects of xenophobia by enhancing altruistic behavior toward refugees. ''The combined enhancement of oxytocin and peer influence could diminish selfish motives,'' says Hurlemann. If people whom we trust, such as supervisors, neighbors or friends, act as a role model by making public their positive attitude towards refugees, more people would probably feel motivated to help. In such a prosocial context, oxytocin could increase trust and minimize anxiety '' experience shows that the oxytocin level in the blood increases during social interaction and shared activities. ''Given the right circumstances, oxytocin may help promote the acceptance and integration of migrants into Western cultures,'' says Hurlemann.
Publication: Nina Marsh, Dirk Scheele, Justin Feinstein, Holger Gerhardt, Sabrina Strang, Wolfgang Maier, Rene Hurlemann: Oxytocin-enforced norm compliance reduces xenophobic outgroup rejection, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), DOI: doi/10.1073/pnas.1705853114
Contact:
Prof. Rene HurlemannDeputy Director of the Department of PsychiatryHead of the Division of Medical PsychologyUniversity Hospital BonnTel. +49 (0)228/28719123E-mail: r.hurlemann@gmail.com
The Daily 202: Melania Trump declares her independence, again, with solo Africa trip - The Washington Post
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:22
With Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: First lady Melania Trump, who has appeared increasingly emboldened to assert her independence from President Trump, referred to the concept of a ''global society'' twice on Monday, as she decried cyberbullying in the morning and when she announced plans last night to travel to Africa without her husband in October.
''This will be my first time traveling to Africa and I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history,'' Melania Trump said in a statement distributed by the East Wing. ''We are a global society, and I believe it is through open dialogue and the exchanging of ideas that we have a real opportunity to learn from one another.''
In January, Trump reportedly described African nations as ''shithole countries'' while telling members of Congress that he wanted to restrict immigration from the continent. The president denied it, even though multiple people in the room confirmed the comments. POTUS also spent years falsely peddling the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama, a native of Hawaii, was born in Kenya. In 2011, she defended her husband's birtherism.
During the antibullying event in the D.C. suburb of Rockville, the first lady warned that sites like Facebook and Twitter ''can be used in many positive ways but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly.''
''In today's global society, social media is an inevitable part of our children's daily lives,'' the 48-year-old said. ''It can be used in many positive ways but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly. '... Let's face it: Most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults, but we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits.''
She didn't mention Trump. She didn't need to. As the roundtable discussion was still going, her septuagenarian husband taunted former CIA director John Brennan as a ''hack'' on Twitter and dared him to file a lawsuit over his revoked security clearance. Just before her speech, the president claimed that Robert Mueller III, a decorated Marine who served in Vietnam and has devoted most of his life to public service, is ''disgraced and discredited.'' He also called the career federal prosecutors who work for the special counsel ''Angry Democrat Thugs.''
The president has personally attacked at least 487 people, companies or institutions on social media since launching his campaign three summers ago, according to a running tally by the New York Times. Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman joined that list last week after publishing ''Unhinged,'' a tell-all about her time working for him. Trump called her a ''dog'' and a ''crazed, crying lowlife'' on Twitter, among other insults.
This dissonance is jarring '-- and would have been inconceivable in recent White Houses. ''It was as though Nancy Reagan had given a 'Just Say No' speech while her husband honored the occasion back at the White House by snorting cocaine during a live news conference,'' columnist Dana Milbank wrote from the Rockville event. ''Summit participants avoided mention of the cyberbully in chief '-- the equivalent of having a summit on election hacking with no mention of Russia.''
The film producer Adam Best likened Melania Trump's comments to someone saying, ''My husband is an arsonist who keeps burning down everything in sight, but we really need to set a better example so kids stop playing with fire.''
''It would be like a hot dog salesman's wife starting a national campaign aimed at highlighting all the gross stuff they put in hot dogs,'' added CNN's Chris Cillizza.
Melania Trump's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, replied:
It's a sincere campaign meant to help children w the many issues they face today. https://t.co/OoQ4z8HJ4C
'-- Stephanie Grisham (@StephGrisham45) August 20, 2018 In a separate statement, Grisham added: ''She is aware of the criticism but it will not deter her from doing what she feels is right. The President is proud of her commitment to children and encourages her in all that she does.''
Sort of like George and Kellyanne Conway, it often feels like Donald and Melania Trump are part of different administrations.
Two weeks ago, the first lady issued a statement praising LeBron James after the president attacked the basketball star's intellect.
In June, during the family separation crisis created by her husband, the first lady visited a facility near the Mexican border where kids who had been taken from their parents were being held. She wore a jacket that said, ''I really don't care, do u?''
Her parents became U.S. citizens this month by taking advantage of a family reunification policy that Trump derisively calls ''chain migration'' and is trying to stop other families from using.
There are many other examples and illustrations of the first couple's distance. ''One person who has spent a considerable amount of time around her said Melania Trump was far more relaxed outside the presence of her husband than when he was around,'' Katie Rogers, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman reported in Sunday's Times. ''She maintains a separate bedroom from her husband, and when the two travel, they stay in separate hotel suites.''
Melania Trump has only about 10 aides, compared to the 25 who worked for Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. Her policy director was apparently pushed out a few weeks ago. It's the smallest staff for any first lady since Mamie Eisenhower, per Emily Heil.
Betty Ford wears a button expressing her support for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in February 1975. (Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library)
Taken together, Melania Trump is poised to become perhaps the most iconoclastic first lady since at least Betty Ford. In 1975, Gerald Ford's wife lobbied for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the consternation of the White House political team. ''Being ladylike does not require silence,'' she said during a speech in Cleveland.
Ronald Reagan was challenging the accidental president from the right for the Republican nomination. The former California governor's team capitalized on Betty Ford's outspokenness on issues like premarital sex to galvanize social conservatives such as Phyllis Schlafly, who picketed the Ford White House as part of her STOP ERA campaign. Internal polls conducted by the Reagan campaign in 1976 showed that Betty Ford was a drag on her husband among conservatives in several key primaries that Reagan narrowly won, especially in the South.
Other first ladies have gotten burned when they staked out positions that put them at odds with their husbands. ''In 1971, Richard Nixon had two Supreme Court vacancies to fill,'' Jill Hummer recalled recently. ''Pat Nixon wanted him to nominate a woman, and she went public about it. 'Don't you worry; I'm talking it up. '... If we can't get a woman on the Supreme Court this time, there'll be a next time,' she told reporters. Ultimately, Richard Nixon nominated Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist. Pat Nixon was upset and embarrassed that her advice, which she had boldly proffered publicly, had gone unheeded.''
Finally, the timing of the Africa trip suggests that Mrs. Trump does not plan to be a surrogate for Republican candidates on the campaign trail during the run-up to the midterms. The East Wing isn't saying yet exactly where or when in October she's going, but it seems clear that she'd rather be overseas than on the stump promoting her husband's policies.
-- I'm back from vacation. Thank you to my colleagues who wrote Big Ideas while I was away: Joanie Greve, Heather Long, Dave Weigel, Sean Sullivan and Paul Kane.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands last month in Helsinki. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
-- Microsoft said it discovered and disabled fake websites connected to a group with ties to the Russian government. They were apparently created to hack into the computers of those who visited, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg report: ''The effort by the notorious APT28 hacking group, which has been publicly linked to a Russian intelligence agency and actively interfered in the 2016 presidential election, underscores the aggressive role Russian operatives are playing ahead of the [midterms] '... Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, which is responsible for the company's response to email phishing schemes, took the lead role in finding and disabling the sites, and the company is launching an effort to provide expanded cybersecurity protection for campaigns and election agencies that use Microsoft products.
''Among those targeted were the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank active in investigations of corruption in Russia, and the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonprofit group that promotes democracy worldwide. Three other fake sites were crafted to appear as though they were affiliated with the Senate, and one nonpolitical site spoofed Microsoft's own online products. '... Microsoft said Monday that it had found no evidence that the fake sites it recently discovered were used in attacks, but fake sites can carry malware that automatically loads onto the computers of unsuspecting visitors.''
-- Meanwhile, Trump has gone back to doubting the intelligence community's consensus that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. In an interview with Reuters yesterday, the president complained that the special counsel's ongoing investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin and he obstructed justice in the probe has played into the hands of the Russians. ''If it was Russia,'' he said.
Police stand guard overnight after protesters toppled the Confederate statue known as ''Silent Sam'' on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Gerry Broome/AP)
GET SMART FAST:'‹'‹
Protesters toppled a Confederate statue last night on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Many students, faculty and alumni had called for the removal of the ''Silent Sam'' memorial, which they condemned as racist, but university officials said state law prevented them from taking it down. (AP) Cardinal Donald Wuerl has faced severe backlash since being accused in the Pennsylvania grand jury report of enabling sexual abuse. The Washington archbishop's upcoming book was canceled by his publisher, and officials in Pittsburgh are considering removing his name from a local high school. (Michelle Boorstein) Federal prosecutors charged two men for allegedly acting as agents of the government of Iran. The men are accused of monitoring a Jewish center in Chicago and American members of an Iranian opposition group. (Spencer S. Hsu) U.S. officials are confident al-Qaeda's chief bomb maker was killed in an American drone strike in Yemen last year. But Ibrahim al-Asiri, who designed the ''underwear bomb'' that nearly took down a U.S. plane in 2009, is believed to have taught his bombmaking skills to other terrorists. (CBS News)
Nearly 90 South Korean families reunited with relatives across the border in North Korea, almost seven decades after they were separated. ''Brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces cried and embraced each other in the first family reunions to take place in three years, a symbol of thawing ties across the Korean Peninsula. Some relatives could not even recognize each other,'' Simon Denyer and Min Joo Kim report from Seoul. Michigan health and welfare chief Nick Lyon will stand trial on felony charges including involuntary manslaughter for his handling of the Flint water crisis. Judge David Goggins said in announcing his decision that Lyon had been ''corrupt'' in his handling of an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area that allegedly killed two men. (Detroit News)
Three recent studies have found that rising sea levels are undermining the value of coastal properties. One of the studies estimated that homes facing the highest risk of flooding were selling at a 14.7 percent discount. (John Tibbetts and Chris Mooney) Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said his employees tend to be ''more left-leaning,'' but he dismissed accusations from the president that their political beliefs affect how the social network determines what is inappropriate content. ''We do not look at content with regards to political viewpoint or ideology. We look at behavior,'' Dorsey said. (Kristine Phillips)
CBS CEO Les Moonves could receive nearly $180 million in severance if he is fired without ''cause.'' But if Moonves, who is facing several accusations of sexual harassment, was fired for cause, he would receive no severance. Experts said Moonves would likely contest such a termination. (CBS News)
One out of every three high school seniors in the U.S. did not read a book for pleasure in 2016, according to the American Psychological Association. But 82 percent visited social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram every day. (Hannah Natanson)
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill making surfing the official state sport. ''Nothing represents the California Dream better than surfing,'' said Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, who wrote the bill. ''I'm stoked that we're celebrating an iconic sport.'' (Los Angeles Times) THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- White House counsel Don McGahn does not believe anything he said in his extensive interviews with Robert Mueller's team would implicate the president in any kind of legal wrongdoing. Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey report: ''McGahn's attorney, Bill Burck, told Trump's lawyers this weekend that McGahn did not assert that Trump engaged in any wrongdoing when he spoke to Mueller's investigators in three lengthy interviews since last November .'‰.'‰. 'He did not incriminate him,' Burck wrote in one email, which was described by multiple people. .'‰.'‰. Burck has assured Trump's lawyers that McGahn did not witness Trump engaged in any crime and would have resigned from his White House post if he had ... At the same time, Burck has cautioned them that McGahn is only one witness and he does not know all the evidence Mueller has gathered that could pose problems for Trump, or how the information McGahn has provided could fit into the broader case.''
-- Trump told Reuters he is worried about walking into a ''perjury trap'' if he talks to Mueller and gives an account that contradicts what others have told investigators. ''Even if I am telling the truth, that makes me a liar,'' Trump said. ''That's no good.''
The president also declared that he could run the Mueller investigation himself if he wanted to. ''I can go in, and I could do whatever '-- I could run it if I want,'' he said in the Reuters interview. ''But I decided to stay out.'' He added: ''I'm totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven't chosen to be involved. I'll stay out.'' (Felicia Sonmez)
-- There was still no verdict in the Paul Manafort trial as the jury ended its third day of deliberations. The jury in the trial of Trump's former campaign manager on bank fraud and tax evasion charges will reconvene again today.
-- Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani tried to clarify what he meant by saying ''truth isn't truth'' in a ''Meet the Press'' interview on Sunday. ''My statement was not meant as a pontification on moral theology but one referring to the situation where two people make precisely contradictory statements, the classic 'he said she said' puzzle,'' Giuliani said on Twitter. ''Sometimes further inquiry can reveal the truth other times it doesn't.''
TRUMP VS. THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY:
-- Trump said he would welcome a lawsuit from former CIA director John Brennan over his revoked security clearance. From Shane Harris, John Wagner and Josh Dawsey: ''Trump also has threatened to pull the clearance of Bruce Ohr, a senior Justice Department official, a move that former officials said would amount to an unprecedented attack on career civil servants and mark a significant escalation in the president's campaign to retaliate against his real and perceived critics. If Brennan files suit, Trump said, 'it will then be very easy to get all of his records, texts, emails and documents to show not only the poor job he did, but how he was involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt.'''
-- An increasing number of former national security officials are expressing support for Brennan: ''Not since dozens of former national security officials questioned Trump's credentials during the 2016 campaign have so many from their ranks taken a stand against him, accusing him of an assault on basic democratic values. '‹Trump's tweet on Monday came as a bipartisan outcry over his revocation of Brennan's security clearance continued to grow, with the release of a statement of opposition signed by more than 175 people who had held a wide range of national security jobs. Several dozen former CIA officers, as well as former directors who served under presidents of both parties, had signed public letters of opposition.''
-- There is even mounting pushback inside the West Wing to Trump's push to revoke clearances: ''[McGahn] has expressed some qualms internally about the clearance revocations, and John Bolton, the national security adviser, and John Eisenberg, the legal adviser for the [NSC], have not been involved in the clearance decisions '... McGahn has argued that the White House should have a formal process for revoking a clearance, rather than taking action solely at the president's command and without a specific accusation of violating rules about protecting classified information .'‰.'‰. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly also has expressed concern about revoking more clearances.''
-- But Trump appears to be ignoring these concerns, musing last night about revoking former CIA and FBI official Phil Mudd's security clearance after watching him on CNN:
Just watched former Intelligence Official Phillip Mudd become totally unglued and weird while debating wonderful @PARISDENNARD over Brennan's Security Clearance. Dennard destroyed him but Mudd is in no mental condition to have such a Clearance. Should be REVOKED? @seanhannity
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2018 He also suggested the security clearance of a former director of national intelligence could be on the chopping block:
Even James Clapper has admonished John Brennan for having gone totally off the rails. Maybe Clapper is being nice to me so he doesn't lose his Security Clearance for lying to Congress!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2018 -- Supporters encouraged Trump last year to revoke Obama-era officials' security clearances, but he was persuaded not to do so. ''The idea was rebuffed by the national-security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster,'' Adam Entous reports in the New Yorker. ''As Trump stepped up his public and private attacks on Obama, some of the new President's advisers thought that he should take the extraordinary step of denying Obama himself access to intelligence briefings that were made available to all of his living predecessors. Trump was told about the importance of keeping former Presidents, who frequently met with foreign leaders, informed. In the end, Trump decided not to exclude Obama, at the urging of McMaster.''
Trump denied the New Yorker report this morning:
Fake News, of which there is soooo much (this time the very tired New Yorker) falsely reported that I was going to take the extraordinary step of denying Intelligence Briefings to President Obama. Never discussed or thought of!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2018 -- Trump believes Brennan is an unsympathetic foil, who he can use as part of his public-relations campaign against Mueller. From the AP's Zeke Miller, Catherine Lucey and Jonathan Lemire: ''Where Mueller's disciplined silence creates a void, Trump is eager to fill that empty space with Brennan. Trump has long been unable to resist a fight with a foe who publicly challenges him, particularly on television, and Brennan got under Trump's skin with his declarations and innuendos about Trump's fitness for office and ties to Russia. But White House aides and Trump confidants say Trump's attack on Brennan is as much strategic as it is impulsive.''
-- Lawfare's Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law professor and former assistant attorney general, argues Brennan's criticisms of Trump have strengthened the president's hand in trying to dismiss the intelligence community's expertise: ''[H]owever understandable or admirable the motivation, the fact is that for many Americans the relentless attacks on Trump by scores of senior long-term intelligence officials lend credibility to the president's claims of a politicized 'Deep State' bureaucracy that seeks to preserve its elite authority and reverse the results of the election by non-democratic means. It is not clear what these attacks on Trump add to the loud chorus of his other elite critics. But I do think that the credibility of the intelligence community as neutral and trustworthy suffers as a result.''
-- The Cipher Brief's Walter Pincus predicts that Trump revoking Brennan's clearance could make officials in the intelligence community more likely to leak to reporters: ''I base that on my experience reporting on intelligence, national security and federal law enforcement for the past 50 years. I found active and retired officials were more open discussing what was actually going on when superiors or Members of Congress were publicly distorting classified information, inaccurately describing events that took place in private, or misusing their authority. That was the case when I covered Watergate during the Nixon administration, Iran-contra under Reagan and George W. Bush's Iraq invasion.''
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh listens to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on Capitol Hill. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
THE SUPREME COURT:
-- ''Kavanaugh proposed graphic questions for Clinton about the Lewinsky affair,'' by Michael Kranish: ''A 1998 memo written by Brett Kavanaugh proposed a series of tough, sexually explicit questions for President Bill Clinton to answer about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, shedding new light on the Supreme Court nominee's moralistic outlook and his view of presidential power. Kavanaugh, as associate counsel in the office of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, wrote in the memo that he was 'strongly opposed' to giving Clinton any 'break' and suggested 10 questions, including: 'If Monica Lewinsky says that you inserted a cigar into her vagina while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?' The memo provides a contrast to the genial, soft-spoken nominee who chooses every word carefully as he makes the rounds of the Senate before his Sept. 4 hearing before the Judiciary Committee. It reveals a hardball tactician who argued forcefully that Starr had the right to press the president for answers, a view he later shifted, saying presidents are too busy to be subject to such investigations while in office. Kavanaugh's views on executive power could be newly relevant if he is confirmed and asked to rule on matters related to [Mueller's] investigation of [Trump]." Read the full memo here.
-- Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) plans to ask Kavanaugh about abortion when she sits down with him today. Bloomberg News's Steven T. Dennis reports: ''Collins said she intended to talk to Kavanaugh about his praise for the then-Justice William Rehnquist's dissent in Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion-rights case. 'I'm going to talk to him about that,' she said on Monday. Earlier, she said that she was looking for a justice whose judicial philosophy 'respects precedent.' '... Collins said she's read hundreds of pages of documents related to Kavanaugh over the weeks since he was nominated by [Trump]. 'I have not seen anything that is disqualifying, but I have seen a number of issues that raise questions that I need to explore with him and that's what I'll do tomorrow,' Collins said.''
-- Former University of Chicago law professor Albert W. Alschuler describes Kavanaugh as ''the man who created the super PAC:'' ''[B]efore there was Citizens United, there was Emily's List v. FEC, the 2009 case that allowed unlimited contributions to super PACs. Kavanaugh wrote the opinion in Emily's List as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, striking down restrictions on contributions to independent political committees. In the opinion, he declared that these committees 'are constitutionally entitled to raise and spend unlimited money in support of candidates for elected office.' He reasoned that it was 'implausible' that contributions to independent groups could corrupt candidates.''
Then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN AND WOMEN:
-- Guess how many times Scott Pruitt called the White House from his soundproof phone booth? Turns out: Exactly once. For a five-minute call. Juliet Eilperin reports: ''The $43,000 phone booth that former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt installed in his office may not have been worth all the headaches it caused him. He only placed one phone call to the White House, newly released records from the agency show .'‰.'‰. He made the five-minute call on Jan. 29, according to Verizon phone logs released in response to litigation filed by the Sierra Club .'‰.'‰. The new documents do not show how many incoming calls Pruitt received in the soundproof booth, which he installed last year. In April, Pruitt testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that he used the booth sparingly.''
-- Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is working overtime to kill a bipartisan effort to ease prisoner reentry into society. Politico's Burgess Everett reports: ''Cotton is lambasting the proposal as a 'jailbreak' that would 'let serious felons back on the streets,' taking on a daunting coalition fighting for the package that includes the Koch political operation, White House adviser Jared Kushner and a number of powerful GOP senators. But Cotton believes that, in the end, [Trump and Mitch McConnell] will side with him. '... Even opponents of sentencing reform will privately admit it would likely pass if McConnell brings it up. But Cotton's loud opposition may determine whether or not McConnell even allows a vote given his reluctance to summon up legislation that divides the conference '-- right before the election, no less.''
-- White House budget director Mick Mulvaney is attempting to pull strings to save a business in his home district that could be harmed by Trump's trade policies. McClatchy's Emma Dumain reports: ''Mulvaney, a former South Carolina Republican congressman, has been making personal pleas to administration officials to protect the viability of Element Electronics, a television assembly plant in his old district that has said it will halt operations because of tariffs. '... South Carolina State Sen. Mike Fanning, a Democrat who represents Fairfield County where Element is headquartered, said Mulvaney's involvement is well known. 'I know that he is actively pleading on our behalf, because people we've talked to in D.C., they say, 'Yes, yes, yes, we've already heard this from Mick Mulvaney,'' said Fanning.''
-- Omarosa said she plans to spend the midterms laying out the case for opposing Trump. The Wall Street Journal's Peter Nicholas interviewed her: ''Ms. Manigault Newman ... said she isn't intimidated by legal actions taken by the president's campaign as she promotes [her book] '... 'I'm going to go toe-to-toe because I stand on the truth and I stand on what's right,' she said. '... Ms. Manigault Newman didn't say whether she would release more secretly recorded conversations. 'I'm going to continue to blow the whistle about the things I saw,' she said, adding that 'hopefully we can save the essence of the presidency without the president doing way too much damage to it.'''
-- Trump's former personal lawyer John Dowd got a warning letter this month from the Federal Election Commission after he donated twice this year to the president's reelection campaign even though he had already reached the $2,700 contribution limit, Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports. ''Dowd's additional donations of $3,700 were included in a list of contributions to Trump's committee in the second quarter of 2018 that the FEC categorized as 'excessive, prohibited and impermissible.' In its letter to the Trump campaign, the FEC flagged at least 180 other cases in which individuals gave multiple donations beyond the limit. Dowd gave to the campaign in April and May, bringing his total contributions for the cycle to $6,400. When asked whether he was aware that he had exceeded the limit, Dowd responded in an email that he was 'not aware.' .'‰.'‰. This is the second instance in which the FEC has flagged impermissible donations from Dowd to the Trump campaign.''
-- In response to the criminal indictment of Rep. Chris Collin (R-N.Y.), House lawmakers are introducing a bipartisan resolution today that would ban members from sitting on the boards of publicly traded companies. From Mike DeBonis: ''Under current House rules, there is no prohibition on a lawmaker serving on a corporate board as long as the position is uncompensated. '... The measure '... would bring House rules in line with Senate restrictions dating to 1991, which bar a member of that chamber from serving on the board of any 'publicly held or publicly regulated corporation, financial institution, or business entity.'''
THE TRADE WAR:
-- ''Businesses beg for tariff relief as trade war with China rolls on,'' by David Lynch: ''The U.S. Trade Representative's office Monday began an extraordinary six days of public hearings on [Trump's] plans to tax an additional $200 billion in Chinese products .'‰.'‰. As the economic impact of the confrontation with China mounts, opponents are becoming more vocal in their opposition to the president's chosen tariff remedy. The planned escalation 'dramatically expands the harm to American consumers, workers, businesses, and the economy,' the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in its prepared testimony. At the USTR hearings, sporting goods manufacturers, candle makers, footwear companies, semiconductor producers and others will plead to be excluded from the next tariffs. More than 1,300 comments already have been filed in response to the president's proposed action, most opposing the plan.''
-- Trump is persevering with plans to impose tariffs nearly half of Chinese imports despite wide opposition to the proposal. The Wall Street Journal's Bob Davis and Andrew Duehren report: ''The twin administration initiatives'--pursuing tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods while relaunching talks to scrap tariffs'--underscore a split within the U.S. administration, with negotiators in the U.S. Treasury Department offering a carrot, while the office of the U.S. trade representative threatens with a stick, both with the approval of President Trump, according to people familiar with the administration's internal deliberations. '... The U.S. is considering tariffs of either 10% or 25% on thousands of categories of products, including for the first time a substantial number of consumer goods, including furniture, computer parts and luggage.''
Jerome Powell, U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)
TRUMP VS. THE FED:
-- Trump publicly criticized Jerome Powell, who he appointed as chairman of the Federal Reserve, for raising interest rates. ''I'm not thrilled with his raising of interest rates, no. I'm not thrilled,'' the president told Reuters. ''Asked on Monday if he believed in the Fed's independence, Trump said: 'I believe in the Fed doing what's good for the country.' Powell took over as Fed chief earlier this year. 'Am I happy with my choice?' Trump said. 'I'll let you know in seven years.'''
-- The president has been privately complaining about Powell to donors and friends. ''Trump said he expected Jerome Powell to be a cheap-money Fed chairman and lamented to wealthy Republican donors at a Hamptons fundraiser on Friday that his nominee instead raised interest rates,'' Bloomberg News's Jennifer Jacobs and Saleha Mohsin report. ''The Federal Reserve has raised rates five times since Trump took office, including twice this year under Powell.''
-- Three final highlights from Trump's Reuters interview:
There will be ''no concessions'' to Turkey in the standoff over the release of a detained American pastor. It's ''very dangerous'' for companies like Twitter and Facebook to regulate content on their own platforms. There's ''no time frame'' for the trade feud with China: ''I'm like them, I have a long horizon.'' Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference in New York. (Frank Franklin II/AP)
THE MIDTERMS:
-- The New York Times obtained nearly 350 pages of emails showing that lobbyist Todd Howe, who has since pleaded guilty to eight felonies in a cooperation deal, had access to the top levels of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration. The Times's Jesse McKinley reports: ''Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat seeking a third term in November, has repeatedly downplayed his relationship with Mr. Howe, who became a key figure in a pair of federal corruption cases after pleading guilty and reaching a cooperation deal with prosecutors. But in nearly 350 pages of emails[,] .'‰.'‰. it was clear that Mr. Howe had entree to the top levels of Mr. Cuomo's administration '-- a period that included the years and months leading up to the news of the federal investigation. The Cuomo administration had fought against releasing the emails for two years, spending more than $200,000 to hire outside counsel '-- Greenberg Traurig, a loyal Cuomo campaign donor '-- after The Times went to court seeking the documents. A state judge last year ruled against the administration, and ordered that the documents be released; the state appealed the ruling, but subsequently agreed to a settlement that allowed for the emails' release. The emails showed how Mr. Howe used his access to gain help for clients.'' Here are the emails.
-- ''Four term-limited Republican governors in swing states have kept a surprising distance between themselves and the nominees picked by their party to replace them,'' David Weigel reports. ''In Nevada, Gov. Brian Sandoval, who broke with much of his party to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, has said he will stay neutral in the November election between Republican Adam Laxalt and Democrat Steve Sisolak. In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder has declined to endorse Bill Schuette, who defeated Snyder's lieutenant governor to win the GOP nomination. '... New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who, like Sandoval, opposed the repeal of the ACA, said that Republican nominee Stevan Pearce was 'the best candidate' in the race but demurred on whether she'd campaign for him. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has defended the state's Medicaid expansion from some Republican criticism, has endorsed GOP nominee Mike DeWine, but did so only after DeWine clarified that he would not undo the policy. '...
''Democrats, who are defending just nine governors' mansions in 2018, see the discord in the GOP as an opening. Republicans, defending 26 states this year, enjoy a cash advantage '-- their party committee ended the summer with $87 million to spend, while the Democratic Governors Association had $18 million. But where Sandoval, Snyder, Kasich and Martinez cultivated moderate images '-- all of them supported the expansion of Medicaid, and most criticized [Trump] '-- their would-be successors won primaries or effectively cleared fields by running as allies of the president.''
-- Hillary Clinton intends to participate in a series of DNC fundraisers ahead of the elections. NBC News's Heidi Przybyla reports: ''The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee will headline three events '-- in San Francisco, Chicago and New York '-- for the DNC this fall to boost the party's chances of seizing control of the U.S. House and Senate. Billed as 'intimate dinners with discussion,' the first invitations were set to go out Monday night for a September event in San Francisco. '... She is also planning fundraisers for some women running for Congress in key races, according to a Democratic source close to her.''
-- Billionaires Sheldon and Miriam Adelson donated $25 million to the main super PAC supporting Senate Republicans. From Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy: ''The $25 million from the casino magnate and his wife, a physician, marked their first donations this cycle to the Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with [Mitch McConnell] that is working to maintain the GOP majority in the Senate this fall, according to Federal Election Commission records filed Monday evening. In May, the couple gave $30 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC that backs GOP House candidates and is aligned with [Paul Ryan]. That contribution placed the Adelsons at the top of the wealthy donors who have poured money into the midterm fight.''
-- The Miami Herald endorsed a Republican congressional candidate who claimed aliens kidnapped her when she was seven. The editorial board said Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera's previous comments about extraterrestrials were a ''non-issue" and that she is "a strong candidate in the race with plausible conservative ideas." (Kristine Phillips)
-- ''Carol Hafner has never been to Alaska, but she could make history as the state's first female congresswoman,'' by Torey Van Oot for The Lily: ''Carol Hafner's longshot bid for Congress has the potential to make her Alaska's first female U.S. Representative in history. There's one catch: Hafner doesn't live in the state. In fact, she's never even visited. '... The move may be unconventional, but it's technically legal, as the United States Constitution only requires that representatives meet age and residency requirements at the time they are elected, according to AP. '... Hafner, who is currently in New York but described her living situation as 'in transition,' defended her strategy of campaigning from afar. Alaskans, she argues, have more in common with residents of the lower 48 than they might realize, especially when it comes to issues like the opioid epidemic and the cost of healthcare.''
-- Another former official from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's administration has endorsed his Democratic opponent. The AP's Scott Bauer reports: ''The latest online ad, released Monday, features former Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Peter Bildsten blasting Walker as only caring about pleasing donors and calling for administration officials to dodge the open records law. The spot comes after former Corrections Secretary Ed Wall also recorded a video backing Democrat Tony Evers and wrote a tell-all book making numerous allegations of mismanagement against Walker's administration and others.''
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- Trump called ICE officials ''heroes'' at a White House event, showing he's eager to raise the agency as a campaign issue ahead of the midterms. David Nakamura and Seung Min Kim report: ''In a speech at the 'Salute to the Heroes,' Trump called the estimated 150 officers and agents from [ICE] and Customs and Border Protection 'great patriots' who have sought to protect the nation against crimes by undocumented immigrants. The president also denounced Democrats who have called for the abolition of ICE over concerns that the agency has acted recklessly and cruelly in its efforts to round up and deport those living here illegally. 'For you having to be demeaned by people who have no idea what strength is really very sad,' Trump said. 'They have no courage; they have no guts. They just have big, loud mouths. We don't want to put up with that. I just want to know you are loved and respected.'"
-- Pentagon officials are raising national security concerns about the steep drop in U.S. admissions of Iraqi refugees who have assisted American troops abroad. From Reuters's Yeganeh Torbati: ''The Pentagon is concerned that not providing safe haven to more of the Iraqis, many of whom interpreted and did other key tasks for U.S. forces, will harm national security by dissuading locals from cooperating with the United States in Iraq and other conflict zones, the officials said. In a closed-door White House meeting last week devoted to the Iraqi issue, officials focused largely on the [FBI's] method of conducting certain deep background checks on the Iraqis, and identified it as a major source of the drop in admissions '... As of Aug. 15, just 48 Iraqis have been admitted to the United States this fiscal year through a special refugee program '... More than 3,000 came last year and about 5,100 in 2016.''
-- Trump's changes to a seasonal worker policy have hurt crab houses on the Eastern Shore this summer. Teo Armus reports: ''Changes to a foreign-worker visa program have left businesses like Russell Hall without the seasonal laborers '-- mostly from Mexico '-- who help drive Maryland's signature industry .'‰.'‰. About a third of picking jobs remain unfilled across the Eastern Shore this summer, as few Americans have responded to openings and Mexican laborers are stranded at home without permission to come here to work. The situation illustrates a general unwillingness among U.S. workers to perform certain kinds of labor, some of the business owners here in Dorchester County say. It also demonstrates how President Trump's 'America First' policies have not necessarily helped those workers or small-business owners but instead have dealt them a new economic reality.''
-- The MS-13 gang is trying to organize like a large corporation. From the Wall Street Journal's Del Quentin Wilber: ''For years, MS-13's impact on the U.S. was local '-- confined to specific neighborhoods and cities scattered across the country as the gang used violence to secure and hold turf. Then, federal officials tracked an alarming development. As MS-13's influence grew, so did its ambition to leverage its network of local franchises into a cohesive, national brand. That would vault MS-13 into territory once occupied by the Mafia, and now held by Mexican drug cartels. A series of trials that wrapped up this summer in Boston shows how MS-13 is pushing to make that leap by streamlining its management structure and creating uniform standards, much like a multinational company. The question, one that will determine whether MS-13 can make the jump to national significance, is whether that transformation can impose order on its unruly, violent young members.''
-- U.S. officials have deported a Nazi war crimes suspect to Germany. The AP's Michael R. Sisak, David Rising and Randy Herschaft report: ''The deportation of the 95-year-old former concentration camp guard, Jakiw Palij, came 25 years after investigators first confronted him about his World War II past and he admitted lying to get into the U.S., claiming he spent the war as a farmer and factory worker. Palij lived quietly in the U.S. for years, as a draftsman and then as a retiree, until nearly three decades ago when investigators found his name on an old Nazi roster and a fellow former guard spilled the secret that he was 'living somewhere in America.' '... [U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell] told reporters that there were 'difficult conversations' because Palij is not a German citizen and was stateless after losing his U.S. citizenship, but 'the moral obligation' of taking in 'someone who served in the name of the German government was accepted.'''
-- Also on Trump's agenda: The president demanded the Republican-controlled Senate immediately pass a bill to stop shipments of illicit fentanyl passing through the international postal system. He wrote on Twitter, ''It is outrageous that Poisonous Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl comes pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China. We can, and must, END THIS NOW! The Senate should pass the STOP ACT '' and firmly STOP this poison from killing our children and destroying our country. No more delay!" John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez report: ''Leaders from both chambers announced a bipartisan agreement in June on the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act, which the House passed shortly thereafter. The Senate has yet to act on the bill, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has focused on confirming federal judges and passing appropriations bills .'‰.'‰. David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, said that Senate Republicans are working on reaching an agreement on the timing of the legislation."
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump's lawyer appeared to taunt a former CIA director:
To John Brennan: Today President Trump granted our request (Jay Sekulow and me) to handle your case. After threatening if you don't it would be just like Obama's red lines. Come on John you're not a blowhard?
'-- Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) August 20, 2018 From a CNBC reporter:
Wow. The president's private attorney claims Trump has given him permission to handle a non-existent lawsuit that, if it existed, would be argued by govt lawyers. Then he seems to threaten the potential plaintiff of this non-existent lawsuit. Wow. https://t.co/g1TMhm3nxO
'-- Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) August 20, 2018 A Wired contributor analyzed former national security officials' warnings about Trump:
2) This is no ordinary political criticism. Do not fall into Trump's trap that this is just more of the same, more partisan sniping from the Swamp from swamp creatures....
'-- Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) August 20, 2018 4) What they are doing is offering the clearest warning they can, speaking'--as intel officials are supposed to do'--truth to power, telling hard truths, that America faces a dire situation.
'-- Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) August 20, 2018 The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee defended Mueller's record of public service:
You'll never hear Mueller talk or tweet about this, but the author @Vermontgmg managed to dig up the citation for Mr. Mueller's Bronze Star with Valor that he earned in Vietnam for ''courage, aggressive initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty.'' It reads:
'-- Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) August 20, 2018 "'...and, on one occasion, personally led a fire team across the fire-swept area terrain to recover a mortally wounded Marine who had fallen in a position forward on the friendly lines.''
'-- Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) August 20, 2018 A House Democrat criticized Trump's ''disgraceful'' attacks:
The President of the United States is now calling law enforcement "Thugs."These repeated attacks by @realDonaldTrump on law enforcement are disgraceful and inconsistent with that of an innocent person.Also, the leaders of the investigation happen to be Republicans. https://t.co/Q5klpySvkf
'-- Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 20, 2018 From Obama's former senior strategist:
Sorry that Omarosa has seized on the word ''unhinged'' for her own purposes because, reading the hysterical Twitter screed @POTUS has unleashed this morning, the term seems really apt. https://t.co/WlihykQh4h
'-- David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) August 20, 2018 The director of The Post's Fact Checker unit posed this question:
''Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller''. Notice that no matter what language Trump flings, Mueller never engages. He just stays silent and keeps working. Has Trump ever faced an opponent like this? https://t.co/guepSFZy8m
'-- Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) August 20, 2018 Trump's former aide, who previously pleaded guilty in Mueller's probe, sent this ambiguous tweet:
Been a hell of a year. Decisions.
'-- George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) August 20, 2018 The first lady drew attention to her ''Be Best'' initiative:
#BeBest is dedicated to the well-being of children. Thank you to @HRSAgov @SecAzar for allowing me the opportunity to be part of the efforts in providing a safer & healthier online presence at the #CyberbullyingSummit pic.twitter.com/R3dJxhcarV
'-- Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 20, 2018 Trump made an unusual error during his "salute" to ICE and CBP officials:
This is odd. At a ceremony honoring Customs and Border Protection (CBP) @realDonaldTrump is repeatedly referring to the organization as "CBC".
'-- John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) August 20, 2018 From a Bloomberg News reporter:
It's not the speechwriter's fault.I'm standing next to the teleprompter Trump is reading from in the East Room and it says CPB.
But Trump has said ''CBC'' over and over. https://t.co/mqdW417VR2
'-- Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) August 20, 2018 The president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund highlighted Trump's significant influence on the federal judiciary:
That's why we focus our attention on what Trump is NOT talking about - judges, housing, education, voter suppression. While he tweets insults, real and long-term damage is being done. Few things more impt than the takeover of the federal bench. https://t.co/qTEXnO3ME4
'-- Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) August 20, 2018 Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) slammed recent business decisions by McDonald's:
McDonald's just announced it is spending $6 billion on makeovers of its restaurants while still refusing to pay its workers a living wage. pic.twitter.com/ieJUgZ7NBK
'-- Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 20, 2018 A Cook Political Report editor noted an issue with the Senate:
A long-term problem for Democrats: a majority of the Senate now represents 18% of the country's population.
'-- Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) August 20, 2018 Former presidential candidate Ron Paul celebrated his 83rd birthday:
Happy Bday, @RonPaul! pic.twitter.com/c5qPCiVaSv
'-- Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) August 20, 2018 And Brooklyn confronted a goat problem:
Two very baaaaad boys. pic.twitter.com/3fcb9QCxGh
'-- NYCT Subway (@NYCTSubway) August 20, 2018 (The goats were later rescued by Jon Stewart '-- yes, that Jon Stewart '-- and taken to a shelter for farm animals.)
GOOD READS:
-- New Yorker, ''Paul Singer, Doomsday Investor: The head of Elliott Management has developed a uniquely adversarial, and immensely profitable, way of doing business,'' by Sheelah Kolhatkar: ''Activist investing is controversial: critics believe that it can force companies to lay off workers and curtail investment in new products in favor of schemes that boost short-term profits, while proponents view it as a useful source of pressure on C.E.O.s to reduce waste and manage their companies more effectively. In the press, Singer and similar investors have been compared to vultures, wolves, and hyenas. Bloomberg has called Singer 'aggressive, tenacious and litigious to a fault,' anointing him 'The World's Most Feared Investor.' Singer's ventures have been consistently successful, with average annual returns of almost fourteen per cent, making him and his employees enormously wealthy. The mere news that Elliott has invested in a company often causes its stock price to go up '-- creating even more wealth for Elliott. Singer has been deploying his riches in Republican politics, where he is one of the G.O.P.'s top donors and a powerful influence on the Party and its President. According to those who know Singer, in politics, as in business, he is intent on doing whatever it takes to win.''
-- World Magazine, ''Papered over,'' by Charissa Crotts, Elizabeth Rieth and Isaiah Johnson: ''Biblical truth-telling at college newspapers can sometimes conflict with the way administrators want to portray the school. Here's a case study of how Liberty University handled the tension last spring.''
-- ''The presidency in pictures: How news photographers freshen up mundane White House moments,'' by David Nakamura: ''The presidential walk from Marine One to Air Force One is a routine that rarely offers surprises. The helicopter lands. A Marine opens the door for the president, who is greeted by an Air Force officer who escorts him to the presidential plane. The commander in chief salutes, bounds up the stairs and, with a wave, disappears into the cabin. '... For news photographers in the White House press pool, there lies the challenge: how to make the routine look fresh and interesting.''
HOT ON THE LEFT
''A leading Republican urges reform for Medicare and Social Security as deficits balloon after the GOP's tax cut,'' from CNBC : ''Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, has the toughest job in politics right now: trying to stop a Democratic 'blue wave' at the polls this fall. Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, sat down to talk to CNBC's John Harwood about the campaign and other factors. Here is an excerpt from the interview: '... Harwood: No misgivings about a tax cut that was not paid for, that's allowing debt and deficits to rise like it is now? Stivers: I do think we need to deal with our some of our spending. We've got to try to figure out how to spend less. Harwood: Entitlements? Social Security, Medicare? Stivers: Yeah, I mean, what I think we need to do is get some people who are now on government programs jobs, we have more open jobs than we have people on unemployment. So if we could get people to go from unemployment, or a government program, to become a taxpayer, it's a twofer because not only are they getting less government assistance, they probably have a better life economically and they're actually paying taxes.''
HOT ON THE RIGHT
''He brought an American flag to protest fascism in Portland. Then antifa attacked him,'' from the Oregonian : ''Paul Welch came to the downtown protest Aug. 4 to let his political leanings be known. With pride he clutched his U.S. flag as he moved among the crowd of like-thinking demonstrators. Soon a group of black-clad anti-fascist protesters, also known as antifa, demanded he lose the flag, calling it a fascist symbol. Welch refused, and a tug-of-war ensued. It ended with Welch taking a club to the back of the head, lying on the ground in a pool of his own blood. Only Welch was not a Proud Boy, a Patriot Prayer supporter or among the other conservative activists who descended into the area that day, many from out of town. He was one of hundreds of progressive Portlanders who had turned out to oppose the right-wing rally held at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. '... Anger following the demonstration has largely been directed at Portland police, whose use of 'less-lethal' riot-control weapons on counter-protesters hospitalized at least three people and injured several others. But others, like Welch, became targets of violence at the hands of protest participants, even as police kept rival political factions apart.''
DAYBOOK:
Trump will meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then have lunch with him and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. He will also meet with union leaders before traveling to Charleston, W.Va., for a roundtable with supporters and a campaign rally.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Trump received criticism for noting that a Border Patrol agent who appeared to be Hispanic ''speaks perfect English.'' ( Philip Bump )
The author of the Harry Potter series reacted to Trump's quote over Twitter:
'Study hard, Mr President, and I might one day say the same about you.' https://t.co/Yii3LPPNjG
'-- J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) August 20, 2018 NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Storms could resume this afternoon in Washington. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: ''Partly to mostly cloudy skies with moderate humidity and scattered showers or thundershowers by midday into the afternoon (very scattered, hit-and-miss activity). Highs manage to reach around 80 or into the middle 80s in spots. More widespread thunderstorms late this afternoon into the evening might be strong to severe, with gusty winds and heavier downpours.''
-- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is calling a special session for the General Assembly to redraw legislative districts. Gregory S. Schneider reports: ''A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled on June 26 that the lines for 11 House of Delegates districts had been drawn with the purpose of concentrating black voters. '... The court ordered that new legislative boundaries be drawn by Oct. 30 for use in next year's state elections. 'It is in the public interest for the General Assembly to finalize constitutional maps as soon as possible '-- Virginians deserve that clarity,' Northam wrote in the proclamation he signed Monday to call the legislature back to Richmond.''
-- Some U-Md. alumni are calling for the resignation of President Wallace D. Loh following the death of Jordan McNair. From Nick Anderson: ''A 19-year-old offensive lineman for the University of Maryland is dead after athletic trainers failed to give him proper treatment for heatstroke, officials acknowledge, during a spring workout. The state university system's governing board has seized control of investigations into the football program. Restive alumni, faculty and students are expressing concern about a crisis in College Park.''
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Planned Parenthood released a video in partnership with Funny or Die mocking Brett Kavanaugh's views on abortion rights:
Trevor Noah dove into the importance of the midterms:
The Post took a look at what Barack Obama has been up to since leaving office:
The Post's Department of Satire analyzed Rudy Giuliani's ''Meet the Press'' interview:
The Indian Air Force captured its dramatic rescue of a child stranded by severe flooding in Kerala that has already killed hundreds:
And a nun threw out the perfect first pitch before a White Sox game in Chicago this weekend:
Media Keeps Giving Trump Benefit of the Doubt on Collusion
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 05:06
Presidents Trump and Putin. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Throughout the Russia scandal, President Trump has acted flamboyantly guilty, most recently by comparing himself implicitly with Richard Nixon during Watergate, and dismissing informants as ''rats.'' And yet a weekend report in Axios confidently asserted that the president maintains a fully innocent state of mind: ''Trump himself thought then and thinks now that he personally has nothing to lose because he personally did nothing wrong.''
How could reporters know what Trump ''believes'' deep in his heart? They couldn't. (Indeed, Axios since corrected the statement to report that it reflects what Trump ''tells associates,'' rather than claiming definitive insight into his mind.) Yet this practice is extremely common within the news media. While they have dug up an extraordinary amount of incriminating facts about Trump, reporters have also repeatedly leaned into the most exculpatory interpretations of those same facts.
For instance, a devastating and detailed Washington Post account of Trump's refusal to acknowledge Russian election interference contained this bit of speculation posing as fact: ''Clouding Trump's judgment all week has been his apparent inability to distinguish between Russian 'meddling,' of which there is overwhelming evidence, and Russian 'collusion' with the Trump campaign, which special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is still investigating, and which the president insists did not happen.''
This failure to distinguish meddling from collusion is only ''clouding Trump's judgment'' if he did not collude. If on the other hand he knows there is evidence that his campaign colluded with Russia, then it is perfectly sensible for Trump to leave Russia's underlying guilt ambiguous. Trump may not be a bright man, but the distinction between actions Russia took on its own and actions the Trump campaign took in cooperation with Russia is an extremely simple one. Trump's apparent inability to grasp it, despite the extensive and well-chronicled efforts of his advisers, might not be a failure of cognition. He might well be aware that his campaign colluded with Russia, in which case, his refusal to distinguish the two is clarifying his judgment rather than clouding it.
Sometimes reporters have described the innocent account of Trump's behavior as the views of his advisers. ''One reason Mr. Trump is reluctant to spotlight the issue of election interference, White House officials said, is he can't separate it in his mind from the outcome of the 2016 election,'' reported The Wall Street Journal last month. ''Accepting that Russia interfered, as he sees it, devalues his victory and unfairly casts doubts on his legitimacy as president, the officials said.'' The New York Times reported, ''some people close to Mr. Trump have concluded that he feels vulnerable to Mr. Putin, even if it is in his own mind, rather than because of any damaging information possessed by the Russians.''
These reports do not actually state that those Trump advisers are correct. But it presents their view as something close to determinative.
Another Axios piece from last month toggles between putting the innocent explanation in the mouths of Trump officials and putting it in the reporter's own voice. ''A number of people who've discussed election meddling with Trump, including current senior administration officials, say his brain can't process that collusion and cyberattacks are two different things,'' reports one story. A few lines down, the same story asserts, ''Ego prevents him acknowledging the possibility that any external action could have interfered with his glorious victory.'' Notice how the theory '-- Trump is too dumb to understand the difference between what Russia did and what his campaign did '-- is initially presented as the belief of Trump's friends, and later becomes a simple fact.
A reason I wrote my story last month about Trump's web of ties to Russia is because news accounts have leaned so heavily toward the most innocent explanations for Trump's behavior, even though those explanations are frequently bizarre. It is certainly possible those innocent accounts will turn out to be true '-- sometimes strange and unlikely accounts of human behavior turn out to be correct. My premise was that unlikely-but-possible innocent explanations for Trump's behavior were gaining wide traction, while equally plausible damning explanations were being ignored.
The Washington Post's fine analyst Philip Bump, who sharply criticized my story as speculative, has presented his own explanation of Trump's submissive pose toward Russia:
The lingering question, of course, is why this is Trump's approach to Putin. His most fervent opponents would suggest that the true answer to that question is known only to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, or, perhaps, by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. It seems clear, though, that a significant part of Trump's approach is simply how he sees dealmaking. NATO is a contract that was thrust upon him. Putin is a deal waiting to be made between two strong-minded individuals. That others insist such a deal is unwise or can't be done is all the more reason for Trump to run toward it.
I will concede that Bump might be totally correct. Maybe skeptics like the former CIA director are wrong in their suspicion that Trump's policy toward Russia is being influenced by his extensive history with, and undisclosed financial ties to, its oligarchs and operatives. Maybe Trump really is just trying to make a great deal. It's worth pointing out, however, that Bump is merely offering an interpretation. He is describing more suspicious analysis as the product of ''fervent'' minds, and calling his own interpretation ''clear.''
And it is true that Bump's exculpatory interpretation has been frequently treated in the media as if it were clear. But it is nothing more than speculation. And it is striking that, for all the incriminating facts the news media have amassed about Trump, they have repeatedly given him the benefit of the doubt as to what those facts add up to.
Media Keeps Giving Trump Benefit of the Doubt on Collusion
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No end in sight for the homeless - Rough sleeping
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 04:35
ELISHIA, a 30-year-old formerly homeless woman in Manchester, says flatly that ''if I were out there I'd be dead.'' This is a reasonable guess. The average age of death for those who sleep rough is 43. But what worries the government is the swelling numbers of rough sleepers. On any night in 2017 about 4,700 people in England slept rough, up from 1,800 in 2010 (see chart). These are official estimates for a single autumn night; some researchers put the total at 8,000. In March Theresa May boldly promised to end rough sleeping in England by 2027. Yet her government's strategy, published on August 13th, is a dampener, not least because it offers no new money. Of the £100m ($127m) backing the plan for the next two years, half was already allocated for homelessness and the rest is money ''reprioritised'' from other programmes, admitted James Brokenshire, the housing secretary.
The plan's ingredients are good but ''minimal'' for the problem at hand, says Jon Sparkes of Crisis, a charity for the homeless. For comparison, he and many others point to Finland, which is close to ending rough sleeping. The backbone of the Finnish system is a model known as ''housing first'', whereby chronically homeless people are put straight into permanent housing'--rather than halfway houses like shelters or hostels'--and offered tailored help from social workers. The model has been widely copied in America, Canada, Denmark and France.
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Charities want a roll-out of this model in England. Instead, the government's plan is to try it in three pilot areas'--even though there have been more than a dozen pilots already, showing that it is good at ending rough sleeping among people who cycle in and out of the homelessness support system, like Elishia. She lists her health problems: anxiety, psychosis, bipolar disorder and a history of drug use. Staying at hostels for the homeless was tough. Lots of people were drunk or on drugs, she says, which affected her mental health. In a 2016 survey of hostels in England, 73% reported that they had turned away people because their needs were ''too high''; 67% had refused beds to those they considered a risk to clients or staff.
Elishia has now moved into a one-bedroom flat in what she calls a ''decent area''. This would have been impossible without help from Shelter, a charity that runs a housing-first project. Currently, homeless people must give up drink and drugs and go through several levels of temporary accommodation until they are deemed ready to hold on to permanent social housing. But those with what the government calls ''multiple and complex needs'', such as mental-health issues, addictions and past stints in prison, rarely go all the way. Roughly half are ejected from or leave hostels before they find a home.
By contrast, about 80% of them stay housed for a year or longer when they are put straight into their own homes. Support is crucial. It is an ''everything job'', says Susanne Jones, one of Shelter's support workers. She takes her charges to doctors' appointments, shopping, probation checks and Narcotics Anonymous meet-ups'--and helps them sort out bills and apply for benefits.
Finding homes is a challenge, even for small projects like Shelter's in Manchester, which serves 21 people. Last year England had a waiting list of 1.15m households for about 300,000 social-housing units. A government green paper on social housing, also published this week, has no targets for building more social homes. In many cities housing benefit is less than market rentals. And private owners may not let to tenants without references from employers or previous landlords, or to benefit claimants.
Recruiting social workers with the skills to provide care needed by housing-first clients can be hard. For Mike Wright, who oversees the homelessness strategy of the Greater Manchester area'--where one of the new housing-first pilots will accommodate 500 people for three years'--a big worry is that there may not be enough mental-health and other support staff.
When done well, a switch to the housing-first model can be a boon for the public purse. One estimate for Shelter's project finds that for every £1 spent in its first five years there will be £2.65 in savings thanks to fewer evictions and nights spent in prisons, hospitals and hostels. Experience shows that not everybody gives up drink or drugs when housed. But many people cut down on substance abuse and anti-social behaviour. One homeless man in Manchester was arrested 54 times and imprisoned 24 times in two years. Since he was put up in a flat two years ago he has had no involvement with the police.
Unless England moves to the Finnish model, Mrs May's promise to end rough sleeping by 2027 is unlikely to be met.
Clips
VIDEO - Mueller testifies Iraq's WMDs | User Clip | C-SPAN.org
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 15:17
February 11, 2003 | Clip Of Worldwide Intelligence Threats This clip, title, and description were not created by C-SPAN. User-Created ClipMarch 18, 2018 2003-02-12T04:47:56-05:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/a0c/20030212044805001.jpg Mueller testifies to Iraq's WMDs and references Gen. Powell's testimony.Mueller testifies to Iraq's WMDs and references Gen. Powell's testimony.
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*This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
User Created Clips from This Video Related Video October 17, 2002 Inquiry Into September 11 Attacks, Day 9Intelligence and law enforcement officials testified about intelligence gathering and counterterrorism efforts prior to'...
February 24, 2004 Projected Threats to National SecurityOfficials testified about national security concerns, current and future terrorist threats, and intelligence issues.'...
February 6, 2002 Threats to U.S. National SecurityDirector Tenet and other intelligence officials testified about national security concerns, counter-terrorism efforts,'...
June 27, 2002 Homeland Security and Intelligence AgenciesMr. Mueller and Mr. Tenent testified about proposals to create a new Department of Homeland Security and how the'...
VIDEO - Sen. Warren pushes bill to nationalize US corporations - YouTube
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 15:03
VIDEO - Harvey Weinstein Accuser Asia Argento Accused Of Sexual Assault | TODAY - YouTube
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:29
VIDEO - 'Essentially Jaywalking' '-- Alan Dershowitz Goes On CNN And Lays Out Worst Cast Scenario For Trump | The Daily Caller
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:25
Liberal attorney and Harvard professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz on Tuesday discussed former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's plea arrangement with CNN's Chris Cuomo and former prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers. When the conversation worked its way around to the potential legal ramifications for President Trump, Dershowitz said that it amounted to ''essentially jaywalking.''
WATCH:
''We're probably not going to end up in court with an indictment against Donald Trump on this, in large part because of the office of legal counsel opinion that a president can't be indicted,'' said Rodgers, noting that such a plea deal is still ''unprecedented.''
''I mean never before has someone stood up, sworn under oath that the president directed them to commit a crime, which means of course that the president also has committed a crime,'' she continued. ''And I don't agree that these laws are vague or there's some reason that this contribution to the campaign, which is clear is what it was, is somehow unenforceable. If the president were not the president, he would be indicted very soon if he hadn't been already.''
Dershowitz took issue with Rodgers' contention by arguing that a candidate is allowed to contribute to their own campaign.
''Any candidate has the right to contribute unlimited amounts to his own campaign,'' said Dershowitz. ''Any candidate. It may sound terrible, and it may be terrible, but any candidate has the right to pay hush money to somebody to influence the outcome of the election.''
''Not if it's unreported,'' interrupted Rodgers.
''Well, that's the next question is whether it has to be reported, and is that a technical violation?'' Dershowitz responded. ''Do you know how many technical violations has the Obama campaign committed and every other campaign committed? Failure to report a contribution by the candidate itself is essentially jaywalking.''
Dershowitz then laid out the ''credibility issue'' with Cohen who, facing life in prison, would be tempted to say whatever prosecutors wanted him to say.
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VIDEO - 3 Munson men charged for sexually abusing animals | WJAC
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:59
Photo: District attorney, William Shaw JR.
MUNSON '' Pennsylvania state police served a search warrant Saturday after reports of animal abuse in Clearfield County.
According the official, the three men have been having sexual intercourse with animals.
District attorney Bill Shaw said the charges are part of an ongoing investigation into the abuse of animals.
''This is an unpleasant topic, but the facts are that we received a report of folks having sexual intercourse with animals, farm animals,'' Shaw said.
On Saturday morning - state police moved into action for at a home in Munson.
Three men were arrested: Terry Wallace, 41, Matt Brubaker, 32, and Marc Measnikoff, 34.
''They will be charged with sexual abuse of an animal, corruption of minors, reckless endangering another person,'' Shaw said.
Police recovered several semi-automatic weapons at the home.
The district attorney said there was also a minor at the home, but they don't believe they were abused or involved. They are still investigating to be sure, officials said.
''So I've been doing this for over 20 years and this is probably the worse situation of this type of case that I've come across,'' Shaw said.
Officials said sheep, cows, horses, dogs and other farm animals at a makeshift farm were involved.
''The animals are being removed from the farm is my understanding,'' Shaw said. ''And we're finding appropriate shelters for those animals.''
According to Shaw, those complaints for the three men were filed early Saturday. Bail for the trio has set at $100,000 straight and they are scheduled for appear in court Aug. 22.
VIDEO - What could a 'no deal' Brexit mean? - YouTube
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:52
VIDEO - Paris is a Sh*thole - YouTube
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:26
VIDEO - Swift turn: German FM says Europe needs bank transactions system independent from US '-- RT Business News
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:17
The European Union should set up a system that would allow Brussels to be independent in its financial operations from Washington, according to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
''It is indispensable that we strengthen European autonomy by creating payment channels that are independent of the United States, a European Monetary Fund and an independent SWIFT system,'' Maas wrote in the Handelsblatt business daily.
SWIFT is a network that enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions based in Belgium. The system's management claims SWIFT remains politically neutral and independent.
Read more
There have been reports that despite such claims, the United States has enough power to block transactions through SWIFT. In 2012, the Danish newspaper Berlingske wrote that US authorities managed to seize money being transferred from a Danish businessman to a German bank for a batch of US-sanctioned Cuban cigars. The transaction was made in US dollars, which allowed Washington to block it.
The German Foreign Minister's words come as the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, and re-imposed sanctions against Tehran. The EU remains committed to the deal despite Washington's political pressure. ''Every day the deal is alive is better than the highly explosive crisis that would otherwise threaten the Middle East,'' Mass wrote.
The EU has enforced the so-called Blocking Statute to protect its firms operating in Iran from US sanctions against the country. However, European companies like Total, Maersk and others quit Iran for fear of US sanctions. These firms are dependent on the US-dominated international banking system and international financial markets.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section
VIDEO - The Dana Show - Tuesday August 21 - Full Show | Listen via Stitcher Radio On Demand
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 04:18
Episode Info: Liberals are mad that ICE deported a Nazi. Madonna's tribute to Aretha Franklin at the VMA's made it all about herself. Social Justice Warriors want to rename female organs. Michael Cohen has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. UNC students knocked over a Confederate statue on campus. More emerges on Twitter's left-leaning bias. Omarosa continues her book tour. Purdue over-accepted their freshman class causing their dorms to look like prisons. National Review's Andrew McCarthy joins us to discuss Cohen's plea deal and McGhan's meeting with Robert Mueller.Read more >>
Episode Info: Liberals are mad that ICE deported a Nazi. Madonna's tribute to Aretha Franklin at the VMA's made it all about herself. Social Justice Warriors want to rename female organs. Michael Cohen has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. UNC students knocked over a Confederate statue on campus. More emerges on Twitter's left-leaning bias. Omarosa continues her book tour. Purdue over-accepted their freshman class causing their dorms to look like prisons. National Review's Andrew McCarthy joins us to discuss Cohen's plea deal and McGhan's meeting with Robert Mueller.Read Less
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VIDEO - Chuck Ross on Twitter: "Today Michael Cohen's lawyer kneecapped the 2 biggest collusion conspiracy theories out there -- the Steele dossier and that Trump had prior knowledge of Trump Tower meeting. https://t.co/hDoB9O60nZ @DailyCaller"
Thu, 23 Aug 2018 04:17
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VIDEO - Hey Google, tell me something good
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 19:31
Ryan Burke
Creative Producer, Creative Lab
Published Aug 21, 2018The news has always played an essential role in our lives, keeping us informed about the world and the issues we care about. These days we're consuming more news than ever, and sometimes, it can feel like there are only problems out there. But the fact is, there is a plethora of ''good news'' happening, and we're not talking about unlikely animal friendships or random acts of kindness. Real people are making progress solving real issues'--and hearing about those stories is a crucial part of a balanced media diet.
The Assistant is making this kind of news easier to find.
''Tell me something good'' is a new experimental feature for Assistant users in the U.S. that delivers your daily dose of good news. Just say ''Hey Google, tell me something good'' to receive a brief news summary about people who are solving problems for our communities and our world.
This is good news like how Georgia State University coupled empathy with data to double its graduation rate and eliminate achievement gaps between white and black students, how backyard beekeepers in East Detroit are bringing back the dwindling bee population while boosting the local economy, and how Iceland curbed teen drinking with nightly curfews and coupons for kids to enroll in extracurricular activities.
Watch to learn more about "Tell me something good"
The stories come from a wide range of media outlets, curated and summarized by the Solutions Journalism Network. They're a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to spreading the practice of solutions journalism, which highlights how problems are solvable and that doing better is possible. Solutions journalism empowers and energizes audiences, helping to combat negative news fatigue. It's an important part of a balanced news diet, so we're exploring how to incorporate more solutions journalism wherever you access Google News.
''Tell me something good'' isn't meant to be a magic solution. But it's an experiment worth trying because it's good info about good work that may bring some good to your day. Give it a go yourself on any Assistant-enabled device, including your phone, Smart Display, or Google Home.
VIDEO - Asked About Mollie Tibbetts, Elizabeth Warren Laments The Treatment Of Illegal Immigrants - YouTube
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 18:15
VIDEO - Brennan Flip Flops on Trump Treasonous Remark
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 16:15
VIDEO - Unhinged Justin Trudeau Calls Woman Racist For Asking Question About Tax Dollars (Video)
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 16:14
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VIDEO - CIA DIRECTOR JOHN BRENNAN ADMITS TO CHEMTRAILS (STRATOSPHERIC AEROSOL INJECTION) - YouTube
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 12:58
VIDEO - Jordan Peterson the muppet show edit (phenomena) - YouTube
Wed, 22 Aug 2018 12:16
VIDEO - Nazi death camp guard arrested by ICE, deported to Germany: Authorities - ABC News
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:55
A man who authorities believe is the last known Nazi collaborator living in the U.S. has been arrested and deported to Germany.
At the order of President Donald Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents removed 95-year-old Jakiw Palij from his Queens, New York, home on Monday.
Justice Department officials say Palij served as an armed guard at a death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland and later lied to American immigration officials about his role in those atrocities when he entered the U.S. after the war.
U.S. Department of Justice Jakiw Palij, allegedly a former Nazi labor camp guard, seen in his U.S. visa photo from 1949.ABC News was there when Palij was removed by wheelchair from his home on Monday, but he did not answer any questions. Looking frail with missing front teeth visible through his white beard, the only noise he made was a pained howl as agents hoisted him from his wheelchair onto the ambulance stretcher.
Representatives for Palij didn't respond to ABC News request for comment.
The administration released a statement after Palij landed in Germany early Tuesday:
"President Trump commends his Administration's comprehensive actions, especially ICE's actions, in removing this war criminal from United States soil," the statement read. "Despite a court ordering his deportation in 2004, past administrations were unsuccessful in removing Palij. To protect the promise of freedom for Holocaust survivors and their families, President Trump prioritized the removal of Palij. Through extensive negotiations, President Trump and his team secured Palij's deportation to Germany and advanced the United States' collaborative efforts with a key European ally."
Palij's deportation has been a long time coming.
He'd been accused of working at the Treblinka death camp -- including on an infamous day in November 1943 in which 6,000 prisoners were killed, according to the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Affairs. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum writes that SS police unit shot all 6,000 prisoners. An attachment of Jewish laborers was brought in to burn and bury the corpses. "After completing this dreadful work, the Jewish laborers were shot and their bodies burned," the website reads.
Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo President Donald Trump speaks on Capitol Hill during the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's National Days of Remembrance ceremony,April 25, 2017, in Washington.After falsely telling authorities he spent the war at his hometown in Germany, Palij gained entry into the U.S. in 1949. He was eventually granted U.S. citizenship in 1957.
It wasn't until 2003 that he was tracked down by federal authorities and exposed. A New York immigration judge revoked Palij's U.S. citizenship and ordered him to be deported in 2005.
At the time, Palij denied that he was a collaborator, telling The New York Times, he was conscripted at 18 when the Nazis took over his farm.
"I know what they say, but I was never a collaborator," Palij told the paper at the time.
The U.S. said in the statement about his deportation that he lied about not being involved.
"Palij had lied about being a Nazi and remained in the United States for decades," the statement said. "Palij's removal sends a strong message: The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on American soil."
AP Hillel Goldman, associate principal of the Orthodox Jewish Rambam Mesivta High School, speaks as he and students from the school protest former Nazi concentration camp guard Jakiw Palij, 94, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in Jackson Heights, New York. The Department of Justice also lauded the deportation in an early morning email.
"Jakiw Palij lied about his Nazi past to immigrate to this country and then fraudulently become an American citizen," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the statement. "He had no right to citizenship or to even be in this country. Today, the Justice Department -- led by Eli Rosenbaum and our fabulous team in the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, formerly the Office of Special Investigations -- successfully helped remove him from the United States, as we have done with 67 other Nazis in the past."
U.S. officials say his deportation had long been stymied by Germany's reluctance to take him in.
According to a source familiar with the matter, Trump told U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to make Palij's deportation his number one priority when he got to Berlin.
In May, U.S. diplomats acknowledged Grenell's efforts.
In meetings with senior officials this week, Ambassador @RichardGrenell continued the 12-year U.S. government push for Germany to accept Nazi collaborator Jakiw Palij.
'-- US-Botschaft Berlin (@usbotschaft) May 18, 2018It's unclear if Palij will face prosecution in Germany, which had previously maintained that they were not in a position to accept him because he's not a German citizen.
Palij, who is Ukranian-born, had been living in the Jackson Heights, Queens neighborhood for 13 years. Protesters have regularly gathered outside of Palij's house and the push for his deportation has garnered bipartisan support. In 2017, every congressional member of the New York delegation wrote a letter to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to deport Palij before he dies.
The president made no mention of Palij's deportation during an event Monday honoring ICE employees.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who was among those calling for Pal's deportation told ABC News the U.S. is "no place for a war criminal."
"I'm glad this man is finally being sent back. He's a war criminal and did not deserve to live in the US. He doesn't deserve to die in the U.S., a place of freedom and equality where we respect each other's differences."
VIDEO - 95-year-old Nazi war criminal deported from New York back to Germany | abc7news.com
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:43
Candace McCowan, Eyewitness News
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 05:38AM
JACKSON HEIGHTS, Queens --
Exclusive video from ABC News captured ICE agents arresting a notorious Nazi war criminal in Queens.
He had lied about his identity and was living in Queens for years.
Finally on Monday, Jakiw Palij was deported to Germany.
The exclusive ABC News video shows ICE agents removing 95-year-old Palij from his Jackson Heights home in a wheelchair Monday. He was then put on a stretcher and taken away.
He didn't answer questions.
Palij been in the United States since 1949 and became a citizen less than a decade later. The White house says he had concealed his Nazi service.
He's accused of working at a Nazi death camp.
The White House says he admitted in 2001 that he trained in a Nazi SS Training Camp in Poland.
Palij was ordered deported in 2004, but Germany wouldn't accept him. That changed this week.
The White House Press Secretary said in a statement, "Palij's removal sends a strong message: The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on American soil."
The Trump administration pledged to deport Palij, saying that he shouldn't live out his last days in this country.
Palij has said in the past that he was "never a collaborator."
(Copyright (C)2018 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)
VIDEO - Brexit Betrayal: Fashion Tycoon Seeks Second EU Referendum
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 23:40
In an attempt to supercede the will of the British people, a tycoon has poured a fortune into a campaign to force a second EU referendum.
Julian Dunkerton, whose streetwear brand Superdry is known worldwide, donated over a million pounds to the "People's Vote" campaign, which is backed by several European Union groups.
"Increasingly, the public knows that Brexit is going to be a disaster, Dunkerton wrote in an op-ed for The Sunday Times. "Maybe they just need to be given that little bit of hope that comes when they see how opinion is moving."
MUST-WATCH: Julian Dunkerton, British entrepreneuer, shares why a #PeoplesVote is important to him and why he has donated £1 million to support the campaign: pic.twitter.com/F1fh3sUQ0w
'-- People's Vote UK (@peoplesvote_uk) August 19, 2018"There is no vision for Brexit and the politicians have made a mess of it," he added.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May's idea of a "soft Brexit" has indeed muddied the waters of Brexit negotiations, which has drawn criticism from the likes of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage and even compelled Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to resign.
Farage has even re-entered the campaign trail in Britain to challenge May's leadership role in Brexit negotations.
"I can see that in the autumn there's going to be a big campaign," he told Sky News.
Nigel Farage back in politics to challenge Theresa May's Brexit.The Brexiteer and former UKIP leader says he has been inspired to return to politics by Theresa May's "Chequers betrayal"
For more, head here: https://t.co/YGS9GcrANq pic.twitter.com/BxSUJPaQpy
'-- Sky News (@SkyNews) August 18, 2018"What they will try to do is to suspend Article 50, to delay the date on which we're actually supposed to leave. It's time we fought back."
"We're sick to death of being sold out," he added. "It's time we had our voice again and that is what this campaign intends to do."
VIDEO - Watch: Stevie Wonder Blames Global Warming for Aretha Franklin's Cancer
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 22:43
AP Photo/Paul SancyaSinger Stevie Wonder blamed Global Warming for the cancer that killed legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin last week.During an appearance on Friday's CBS This Morning, and without being challenged by the pro-science ''journalists'' of the morning show, Wonder was allowed to spread his conspiracy theory about Global Warming being linked to cancer:
I just feel that all these various diseases that we have and all these things that are happening in the world in part is because there are those who don't believe in global warming, don't believe that what we do affects the world. What we eat affects the world.'' Wonder said. ''I just hope that people will grow up out of the foolishness and know that we all, by how we think, how we view, how we treat others, we will never unlock the key until we truly let go of the hatred, the bigotry, the evilness, the selfishness. We do that and we can unlock some of those things that keep us in this place.
If you read it closely, though, what Wonder said is even dumber than blaming disease on Global Warming. The truth is that he blamed the spread of cancer on those who don't believe in Global Warming.
''I just feel that all these various diseases that we have and all that is happening in the world in part is because there are those who don't believe in global warming,'' Stevie Wonder said.So the pro-science Wonder is telling the world that a lack of belief in Global Warming is what killed Aretha Franklin, is what gave her cancer.
And after he spreads this bilge, you can listen to the real journalists at CBS repeatedly thank him.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.
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VIDEO - Pilot Crashes Plane Into His Own House After Fight With His Wife
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 03:30
By Spooky on August 15th, 2018 Category: NewsA Utah man recently flew a small Cessna airplane into his own house, with his wife and her son still inside, after being arrested on charges of domestic violence.
The bizarre incident took place on Monday, but police sources said that the cause was most likely a domestic dispute between Duane Youd, a professional airplane pilot, and his wife, near American Fork Canyon, about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City. On Sunday evening, the Utah County Sheriff's Office received calls from several witnesses about a man hitting a woman, and a police patrol took Youd into custody. He and his wife had apparently been drinking and an argument broke out and he started hitting her.
Photo: video screengrab
Duane Youd made bail on Monday morning between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m., and asked police if he could return to his home in Payton, Utah, to pick up some of his things. He was escorted there in a police car, after which it is presumed that he headed straight for Spanish Fork Airport, got in the Cessna 525 Citation Jet he usually piloted for a company, and flew back to Payton with the intention of crashing straight into his house.
''It just got lower and lower. I said 'Oh my gosh it's going to hit the mountain. It's going to hit the mountain. It's getting lower.' You can just see it getting lower. All of a sudden a huge ball of orange fire. I couldn't believe it,'' one of Youd's shocked neighbors described the crash.
The pilot's wife and her son were inside the house when the small aircraft came crashing down into it, but managed to get out before the ensuing fire spread. Investigators say that Youd clipped a neighboring shed before hitting his own house, which may have altered his trajectory.
''We don't know what his ultimate goal was, whether he meant to hit it low like he did or whether he meant to hit it higher,'' Sgt. Noemi Sandoval of the Payson Police Department said, adding that the incident ''could have been so much worse than what it was'' and that it was a ''miracle'' that Youd's partner and the boy could escape in time.
>>
Somehow, the front of the house is still intact, although severely burned, but the plane was almost completely destroyed and Duane Youd lost his life.
Court records show that just last month Youd agreed to attend marriage and family counselling sessions for six months as part of a plea agreement after another domestic violence incident, in April. I guess he decided that wasn't going to work for him after all'...
VIDEO - Should Ivanka Be Indicted? | The Nation
Sun, 19 Aug 2018 23:26
Amy Wilentz on the case against the first daughter.Donald Trump waves as his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, speaks with Ivanka Trump, July 21, 2016. (Reuters / Rick Wilking)
Amy Wilentz is a longtime contributing editor at The Nation and former Jerusalem correspondent for The New Yorker. She's best known for her work on Haiti, most recently the award-winning book Farewell Fred Voodoo. This interview has been edited and condensed.Ad Policy
Listen to Amy Wilentz on the Start Making Sense Podcast.
Jon Wiener: Ivanka is connected pretty directly to events at the center of the Russiagate investigations. Where do you think the strongest case could be made that she committed a crime?
Amy Wilentz: Possibly it's the cover-up from the meeting on Air Force One after that fabled meeting in Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer. On Air Force One, the Trump team, including the president and Jared Kushner and Ivanka, crafted a message to the media saying that the Trump Tower meeting was largely about Russian adoptions and had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. Of course, we subsequently learned it was all about a promise of dirt on Hillary from the Russians. Ivanka was present at that meeting. She did tell Michael Wolff, the author of Fire and Fury, that she participated in that meeting only briefly and took a pill to go to sleep. That strikes me as too much honesty. When do you find a person in high office admitting that they took a pill to go to sleep? Only when they want to suggest they left a meeting very quickly, one that's under investigation, because they needed their beauty sleep'...
JW: There was another meeting where she did not take a pill to go to sleep: the one where they discussed firing FBI Director James Comey.
AW: Yes, and she was very supportive of that idea. Reportedly, she was worried, as was her husband, about Comey's taking a look at various Kushner Company projects, as well as Trump Organization deals. They were frightened about that and she wanted to get rid of him.
JW: That seems very much like being part of a conspiracy to obstruct justice'--if we believe that Comey was fired to stop him from investigating the president's crimes'--
AW: Rather than being fired because he was too tough on Hillary and her e-mails, as Trump alleged after his firing.Current Issue
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JW: The Intercept had a piece on whether Ivanka could be indicted, by Hannah Seligson. She pointed to Ivanka's connections to Felix Sater. Who is he?Most Popular AW: Felix Sater is a Russian-American businessman who is now considered to be one of the Trump Organization's biggest headaches in the Russia probe. That's because he wrote a letter to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen in 2015, where he said, ''Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin's team to buy in on this. I will manage this process.''
JW: Sounds sort of like collusion. But what does this have to do with Ivanka?
AW: Ivanka accompanied Sater to Moscow in 2006 and he claimed that he arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putin's chair at the Kremlin. When The New York Times asked Ivanka about that, she said she may have sat in Putin's chair but she ''did not recall it.'' Jon, I would remember if I sat in Putin's chair.
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JW: But I don't think it's a crime to sit in Putin's chair.
AW: No. But it shows that there is a relationship between Ivanka and Sater. Mueller may find more that we don't know about right now.
JW: We've been talking about what Mueller might be investigating that could lead to criminal charges against Ivanka. Of course there are a lot of reasons to think Ivanka is not guilty of anything.
AW: Here's how her defense goes: She's not smart enough. She's a mommy, she's too busy with the kids. She only cares about women's issues. But that's not how Ivanka has always represented herself in her books. There, she's a fully viable member of the Trump Organization, in fact sometimes solely in charge of various projects. I just don't buy the stupid-Ivanka theory. She may not be the world's greatest intellectual, but she is a woman who knows how to do business.
JW: Maybe she's just inexperienced and has poor judgment about public life'--since really all she knows about is the Trump Organization, and the rules that the Trump Organization follows are a little different from the rules that the White House should follow.
AW: But that doesn't work as a justification. It's something I've thought about a lot because I've studied the development of kleptocracies in other countries in the world, and this is how it works. People come in, they look like a little bit shady; they seem a little bit different from the leaders who preceded them. Then suddenly you realize they're using the office to advance their own business interests.
JW: We used to say that Ivanka and Jared were moderating forces. We wanted them in the Trump White House because they were social liberals, and because they were a lot more reasonable than Trump himself.
AW: And indeed they are social liberals, but so what? So what if they think it's bad for Trump to support Nazis or to kowtow to the NRA? Are they stopping Trump from pursuing those goals? No, and nor do they think they will. They are showing a nice face while they suck money from the job. Ivanka may be the mom of the Instagrammable Arabella, the cutest girl who has ever lived; but Ivanka is also a shark. The way Ivanka and Jared mix their business interests with their government jobs is a grotesque abuse of power.
VIDEO - YouTube - Dem. Rep. Alcee Hastings Jokes: ''It's A Catastrophe'' If Someone Saves A Drowning President Trump
Sun, 19 Aug 2018 23:12
VIDEO - How three conspiracy theorists took 'Q' and sparked Qanon
Sun, 19 Aug 2018 21:21
In November 2017, a small-time YouTube video creator and two moderators of the 4chan website, one of the most extreme message boards on the internet, banded together and plucked out of obscurity an anonymous and cryptic post from the many conspiracy theories that populated the website's message board.
Over the next several months, they would create videos, a Reddit community, a business and an entire mythology based off the 4chan posts of ''Q,'' the pseudonym of a person claiming to be a high-ranking military officer. The theory they espoused would become Qanon, and it would eventually make its way from those message boards to national media stories and the rallies of President Donald Trump.
Now, the people behind that effort are at the center of a fractious debate among conspiracy enthusiasts, some of whom believe the three people who first popularized the Qanon theory are promoting it in order to make a living. Others suggest that these original followers actually wrote Q's mysterious posts.
While the identity of the original author or authors behind ''Q'' is still unknown, the history of the conspiracy theory's spread is well-documented '-- through YouTube videos, social media posts, Reddit archives, and public records reviewed by NBC News.
NBC News has found that the theory can be traced back to three people who sparked some of the first conversation about Qanon and, in doing so, attracted followers who they then asked to help fund Qanon ''research.''
Qanon is a convoluted conspiracy theory with no apparent foundation in reality. The heart of it asserts that for the last year the anonymous ''Q'' has taken to the fringe internet message boards of 4chan and 8chan to leak intelligence about Trump's top-secret war with a cabal of criminals run by politicians like Hillary Clinton and the Hollywood elite. There is no evidence for these claims.
In addition to peeking into the mainstream, the theory has been increasingly linked to real-world violence. In recent months, Qanon followers have allegedly been involved in a foiled presidential assassination plot, a devastating California wildfire, and an armed standoff with local law enforcement officers in Arizona.
Part of the Qanon appeal lies in its game-like quality. Followers wait for clues left by ''Q'' on the message board. When the clues appear, believers dissect the riddle-like posts alongside Trump's speeches and tweets and news articles in an effort to validate the main narrative that Trump is winning a war against evil.
There are now dozens of commentators who dissect ''Q'' posts '-- on message boards, in YouTube videos and on their personal pages '-- but the theory was first championed by a handful of people who worked together to stir discussion of the ''Q'' posts, eventually pushing the theory on to bigger platforms and gaining followers '-- a strategy that proved to be the key to Qanon's spread and the originators' financial gain.
The anonsBefore Q, there was a wide variety of ''anon'' 4chan posters all claiming to have special government access.
In 2016, there was FBIAnon, a self-described ''high-level analyst and strategist'' offering intel about the 2016 investigation into the Clinton Foundation. Then came HLIAnon, an acronym for High Level Insider, who posted about various dubious conspiracies in riddles, including one that claimed Princess Diana had been killed because she found out about 9/11 ''beforehand'' and had ''tried to stop it.'' Then ''CIAAnon'' and ''CIA Intern'' took to the boards in early 2017, and last August one called WH Insider Anon offered a supposed preview that something that was ''going to go down'' regarding the DNC and leaks.
Qanon was just another unremarkable part of the ''anon'' genre until November 2017, when two moderators of the 4chan board where Q posted predictions, who went by the usernames Pamphlet Anon and BaruchtheScribe, reached out to Tracy Diaz, according to Diaz's blogs and YouTube videos. BaruchtheScribe, in reality a self-identified web programmer from South Africa named Paul Furber, confirmed that account to NBC News.
''A bunch of us decided that the message needed to go wider so we contacted Youtubers who had been commenting on the Q drops,'' Furber said in an email.
Diaz, a small-time YouTube star who once hosted a talk show on the fringe right-wing network Liberty Movement Radio, had found moderate popularity with a couple of thousand views for her YouTube videos analyzing WikiLeaks releases and discussing the "pizzagate" conspiracy, a baseless theory that alleged a child sex ring was being run out of a Washington pizza shop.
As Diaz tells it in a blog post detailing her role in the early days of Qanon, she banded together with the two moderators. Their goal, according to Diaz, was to build a following for Qanon '-- which would mean bigger followings for them as well.
On Nov. 3, 2017, just six days after the first 4chan post from ''Q,'' Diaz posted a video entitled ''/POL/- Q Clearance Anon - Is it #happening???'' in which she introduced the conspiracy theory to her audience.
''I do not typically do videos like this,'' she said, but citing Q's ''very specific and kind of eerie'' posts, Diaz explained that she would be covering the 4chan posts, ''just in case this stuff turns out to be legit because honestly it kind of seems legit.''
That video, which has been viewed nearly 250,000 times, made Diaz one of the earliest people to seize on ''Q'' posts and decipher them for a conspiracy-hungry audience. Diaz followed with dozens more Q-themed videos, each containing a call for viewers to donate through links to her Patreon and PayPal accounts
Diaz's YouTube channel now boasts more than 90,000 subscribers and her videos have been watched over 8 million times. More than 97,000 people follow her on Twitter. Diaz, who emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, says in her YouTube videos that she now relies on donations from patrons funding her YouTube ''research'' as her sole source of income.
Diaz declined to comment on this story.
''Because I cover Q, I got an audience,'' Diaz acknowledged in a video that NBC News reviewed last week before she deleted it.
Building a movementTo reach a more mainstream audience (older people and ''normies,'' who on their own would have trouble navigating the fringe message boards), Diaz said in a blog post she recommended they move to the more user-friendly Reddit. Archives listing the three as the original posters and moderators show they created a new Reddit community called CBTS_Stream, short for Calm Before The Storm, where subscribers soon gathered to talk all things Q.
Their move to Reddit was key to Qanon's eventual spread. There, they were able to tap into a larger audience of conspiracy theorists, and drive discussion with their analysis of each Q post. From there, Qanon crept to Facebook where it found a new, older audience via dozens of public and private groups.
That audience then started to head to 8chan to check out the original source and interact directly with the posts. (Q posts moved from 4chan to its more toxic offshoot 8chan in November after a post claiming the original board had been ''infiltrated.'' 8chan became notorious for having no rules, and even hosting child pornography.)
8chan's owner's official Twitter account marveled at the influx of older, less internet-savvy visitors to his site, drawn by Qanon. ''We joked about it for years, but #Qanon is making it a reality: Boomers! On your imageboard.''
Meanwhile, Diaz kept making videos, racking up hundreds of thousands of views. Over the next several months, Diaz and the two moderators picked up tens of thousands of followers on Reddit and YouTube and added even more moderators to their 8chan and Reddit boards.
They also began to break into what might be considered the mainstream of the conspiracy world. Conspiracy theorist Dr. Jerome Corsi, an Infowars editor and a best-selling author of books about the ''deep state,'' had taken an interest in Q and was decoding the messages on the Reddit board. In December, Pamphlet Anon and BaruchtheScribe even made an appearance on InfoWars.
Corsi has since disavowed the Qanon conspiracy and called the current Q poster ''a fraud,'' citing a supposed takeover of the channel by someone posing as Q in April. But last week, facing backlash from his base, Corsi tweeted that he supports the Qanon movement and its supporters' ''excellent research.''
Soon, as Diaz explained on her blog, their expanding crew was spending all their waking hours in chat rooms on the gaming-focused forum Discord analyzing and decoding Q messages and planning for a larger dissemination of Q's message.
In March, their Reddit board, which boasted some 20,000 subscribers, was shut down by Reddit for ''encouraging or inciting violence and posting personal and confidential information,'' and the moderators '-- Diaz and the rest '-- were banned from the site. Furber had already been booted from the site for allegedly threatening to reveal the personal details of another user, and was pushed out of the private Q discussion groups he had helped form.
''I was very definitely banished,'' Furber said, noting that he believes Q's board has been taken over by imposters.
By then, Pamphlet Anon, whose real name is Coleman Rogers, had developed grander plans. (NBC was able to determine Rogers' identity through property records that link the address where his business is registered to his parent's home and to photos from his personal social media account. Those photos show him to be the same person who appears on YouTube as Pamphlet Anon.)
Rogers did not respond to calls seeking comment, but acknowledged his receipt of messages from NBC News via his website's Twitter, writing in part, ''WE DO NOT TALK TO FAKE NEWS.''
Network effectKicked off Reddit, Rogers hatched a new plan. He would replace the mainstream media '-- often a target of Q's posts '-- with a constantly streaming YouTube network made up of the self-described ''researchers'' who were putting together Q's clues.
Within a month, Rogers, 31, and his wife, Christina Urso, 29, had launched the Patriots' Soapbox, a round-the-clock livestreamed YouTube channel for Qanon study and discussion. The channel is, in effect, a broadcast of a Discord chatroom with constant audio commentary from a rotating cast of volunteers and moderators with sporadic appearances by Rogers and Urso. In April, Urso registered Patriots' Soapbox LLC in Virginia.
Rogers and Urso use their channel to call for donations that are accepted through PayPal, cryptocurrencies or mail.
It was a natural progression for Rogers. A review of Rogers' Facebook page shows he had been active in internet politics and a staunch supporter of Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, self-identifying as part of the ''meme war'' '-- the creation and dissemination of images and internet-style commentary that internet agitators on the chans and Reddit credit with Trump's win. Rogers often posted memes about ''liberal tears'' as well as the ludicrous claims that Democrats murdered children and worshipped Satan '-- details similar to those that would eventually form the Qanon theory.
Rogers' Facebook updates waned after Trump took office but started up again in the fall, when he began posting ''Q'' messages to both confused and supportive family and friends.
Rogers has publicly denied that he is the author of the ''Q'' posts, though his last visible Facebook post, published on Aug. 2, hinted that he might someday be associated with the theory.
''Ten bucks says you see my face on national news within a few weeks, saying that I'm 'the mysterious hacker known as #Qanon,''' Rogers wrote, a reference to a CNN segment that mistakenly referred to the website 4chan as a hacker.
Following a request for comment from NBC News, Rogers deleted every post on his Facebook profile after 2014. Following another message from a reporter informing him that NBC News had archived his page, he deleted his Facebook account entirely.
Tables turnedAs Qanon picked up steam, growing skepticism over the motives of Diaz, Rogers, and the other early Qanon supporters led some in the internet's conspiracy circles to turn their paranoia on the group.
Recently, some Qanon followers have accused Diaz and Rogers of profiting from the movement by soliciting donations from their followers. Other pro-Trump online groups have questioned the roles that Diaz and Rogers have played in promoting Q, pointing to a series of slip-ups that they say show Rogers and Diaz may have been involved in the theory from the start.
Those accusations have led Diaz and Rogers to both deny that they are Q and say they don't know who Q is. There is no direct proof that the group or any individual members are behind it.
Still, Qanon skeptics have pointed to two videos as evidence that Rogers had insider knowledge of Q's account. Some YouTube channels, like one named Unirock, are mostly dedicated to poring over Patriots' Soapbox livestreams and dissecting purported slip-ups.
One archived livestream appears to show Rogers logging into the 8chan account of ''Q.''The Patriots' Soapbox feed quickly cuts out after the login attempt. ''Sorry, leg cramp,'' Rogers says, before the feed reappears seconds later.
Users in the associated chatroom begin to wonder if Rogers had accidentally revealed his identity as Q. ''How did you post as Q?'' one user wrote.
In another livestreamed video, Rogers begins to analyze a supposed ''Q'' post on his livestream program when his co-host points out that the post in question doesn't actually appear on Q's feed and was authored anonymously. Rogers' explanation '-- that Q must have forgotten to sign in before posting '-- was criticized as extremely unlikely by people familiar with the message boards, as it would require knowledge of the posting to pick it out among hundreds of other anonymous ones.
In part because of the mounting claims against Patriots' Soapbox, the web's largest pro-Trump community has banned all mentions of Qanon. Reddit's 640,000-member community r/The_Donald set up an autodelete function for mentions of Qanon's claims, two moderators confirmed to NBC News, believing the group of YouTubers is making posts as Q.
Still, Patriots' Soapbox 24-hour livestream remains live on YouTube, broadcasting to its 46,000 subscribers. And despite the growing skepticism of the group, they still have their supporters who ardently believe in the Qanon theory.
''The funniest thing about those who try to discredit Q. They focus on whether Q is real or not, instead of the information being provided,'' tweeted one follower. ''NO ONE cares who Q is. WE care about the TRUTH.''

Clips

3 Munson men charged for sexually abusing animals.mp3
Alex Jones Hate Segment On Fox Business.mp3
Asai Argento pays of HER accuser.mp3
Brennan Flip Flops on Trump Treasonous Remark with Maddow.mp3
CIA DIRECTOR JOHN BRENNAN ADMITS TO CHEMTRAILS - STRATOSPHERIC AEROSOL INJECTION.mp3
CNBC on company that implanted chiips into their employees-ALL ABOUT ACCEPTION.mp3
Cuomo Kid Jennifer Rodger of CNN vs Dershowitz - Cohen testimony will amount to Jaywalking.mp3
death of football.mp3
dersh on campaign finance.mp3
dersh response ONE idiot.mp3
dersh response TWO extendedCBSN.mp3
eleizabeth warren on tibbets beats drum.mp3
Elmo knows your name doll.mp3
EPA rollback.mp3
GPS Implants Coming.m4a
gretchen carlson take down on Kelly.mp3
koch brothers repand his dumb ideas.mp3
lanny davis on Morning show.mp3
lanny davis on Morning showTWO it gets worse.mp3
Lanny Davis Spinning The Michael Cohen Story.mp3
Lanny Davis tells Don Lemon they couldn't CORRECT the story on Trump Tower.mp3
Manafort juror.mp3
molly tibbets clip.mp3
Mueller testifying on WMD in Bagdahd.mp3
NA Jingles - Adam Must Leave - 10 - Angry Dog Mob.mp3
NA Jingles - Donalds Got My Song-Chris Wilson - EOS.mp3
NDC says NOT hacked-phishing attempt-DOnt Let it happen to your campaign PROMO.mp3
new coal plant rules lies from obama.mp3
old nazi sent toGermany.mp3
PBS rundown on coen.mp3
Sen. Warren pushes bill to nationalize US corporations.mp3
Sharpton Respict Jingle Long-Tomnonymous - EOS.m4a
Sharpton Respict Jingle Long-Tomnonymous.m4a
Sharpton Respict Jingle Short.m4a
silent sam.mp3
Stevie Wonder blames global warming for Aretha's death.mp3
Suspected Nazi war criminal deported to Germany by ICE.mp3
SWIFT turn-German FM says Europe needs bank transactions system independent from US.mp3
the law broke - eos - tom starkweather.mp3
Tipping Point-Dana Loesch unhinged over Front Hole.mp3
trump cohen sanders-Alexandra Rosenmann-EOS.mp3
Trump on Fox n Friends on Payments to Cohen and the Crew.mp3
Unidentical Conspirator-Sen Hirono calls for halt of Kavanaugh nomination in light of Cohen, Manafort news-CNN with Brolf.mp3
weirdmicrosoft story.mp3
What could a No Deal Brexit mean-Sky News Will Scare You.mp3
Whats the matter with you ISO.mp3
wine replication story.mp3
would never acceptpardonNBC.mp3
would never acceptpardonTWO-wowNBC.mp3
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    oh we were happy we were Adam courage
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    Jhansi Devorah
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    this is your award-winning Kippur Nation
  • 0:11
    Media assassination episode 1060 now
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    this is no agenda from northern Silicon
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    Valley from what I can tell there's no
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    porn stars around here and this efforts
  • 0:32
    not by yet we're ahead of the game right
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    we're rocking we're ahead of the game
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    we're good to go
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    which is good cuz I got to get out in
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    time today okay I'm going to Chicago
  • 0:46
    Shh shuttle in town uh yeah Tina's been
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    there all week with a big Ronald