1072: Adultism is Real

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 50m
September 27th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Sir Slot Car Baron of all podunks, Mark Empson

Associate Executive Producers: James Rogers, Sandra Langston, Dame Dangitall

Cover Artist: Mike Reiley

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
2:12
Kavanaugh Sexual Harassment Allegations
Woodstock
38:09
Trump's United Nations Speech
Woodstock
53:45
Trump on China
Woodstock
57:12
Trump's United Nations Speech
Woodstock
1:09:51
Credits
Woodstock
1:12:54
JCD Fired By PCMag: 5G
Woodstock
1:20:38
Credits
Woodstock
1:24:45
Producer Note: Alaskan Salmon
Woodstock
1:25:39
MockingBirdList.com
Woodstock
1:26:10
Ask Adam
Woodstock
1:32:52
Off The Grid: AC's OTG Phone
Woodstock
1:35:15
Climate Change: North Carolina Pig Poop
Woodstock
1:38:53
Ebola
Woodstock
1:43:54
Linux Code Of Conduct
Woodstock
1:47:29
Plastic
Woodstock
1:50:32
Facebook Employees Class Action Lawsuit
Woodstock
1:54:56
Brexit: Irish Border
Woodstock
1:59:19
Donations
Woodstock
2:06:49
Birthdays & Title Changes
Woodstock
2:08:12
San Francisco Transbay Transit Center
Woodstock
2:14:32
Neil deGrasse Tyson Oxygen Flub
Woodstock
2:17:22
Hillary Clinton On Tour: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Woodstock
2:21:43
Michael Moore on Bill Maher Reprise
Woodstock
2:22:53
Interactive Life Insurance
Woodstock
2:26:36
Antisemitism In The UK
Woodstock
2:29:00
History Of Sweden
Woodstock
2:38:10
Pegasus Spyware
Woodstock
2:40:20
Beto O'Rourke
Woodstock
2:42:49
End of Show
Woodstock
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#MeToo
Bill Cosby Sentenced to 3 to 10 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault | E! News
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 19:01
BREAKING! Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images
Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison on Tuesday.
Judge Steven T. O'Neill delivered the sentence. Cosby will also be required to pay $25,000, as well as the cost of prosecution.
"Nobody is above the law because of where they live, who they are, wealth, fame, celebrity or even philanthropy," the judge said.
The actor will be held in total confinement in a state facility. He will also be required to take a sex offenders program.
"Any lesser sentence would take away from the seriousness of the crime," the judge continued. He later added that he gave "great weight" to the victim-impact statement, including the "traumatic aftermath, alienation from friends, pain, anguish, [and] nightmares" Andrea Constand experienced.
"34 months this has gone on," the judge said. "Your time has come."
In addition, Cosby cannot have any contact with Constand.
The defense motioned for discretionary release or bail. The judge said he will hear both sides in regards to this application.
The sentencing guidelines are between 22 and 36 months for a standard sentence.
The comedian was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand in 2004. He has denied any wrongdoing and claimed their encounter was consensual. While the case went to trial in 2017, a deadlocked jury failed to reach a verdict, resulting in a mistrial. The case was later retried, and The Cosby Show star was found guilty on three charges of aggravated indecent assault in April. However, counts two and three were later merged into count one during day one of the sentencing.
Cosby arrived at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. around 8:30 a.m. on Monday for the first day of sentencing. According to The New York Times, several women who accused Cosby of sexual abuse, including a few who testified against him in April, also attended.
The hearing began with an examination of whether it was constitutional to label Cosby a sexually violent predator. Pennsylvania's Sexual Offenders Assessment Board determined Cosby should be classified as such in July.
According to CNN, Cosby's attorney, Joseph Green, argued the sex offender registration law was unconstitutional and that it should not be applied to Cosby because it was punitive. Commonwealth attorney Tracy Piatkowski countered the laws were not punitive but rather required to protect the public. Per CNN, she also claimed Cosby was merely trying "to escape" registration.
Christine Cornell
Kristen F. Dudley, a psychologist and member of the Pennsylvania Sex Offenders Assessment Board, also testified. Based on her assessment, she claimed Cosby is a sexually violent predator. Although, she noted he chose not to participate in the assessment.
Dudley claimed Cosby has a personality disorder and experiences paraphilia'--leading him to have interest in nonconsenting women. The defense argued there hadn't been any new accusations of misconduct against Cosby since Constand's claim 14 years ago. In addition, Cosby's team claimed his blindness would likely prevent him from committing a crime. Still, Dundley argued otherwise.
"It is possible he has already met someone who could be a future victim," she said.
Judge O'Neill ruled the sexually violent predator assessment and relating registration laws were constitutional. However, he wouldn't rule whether Cosby should be classified as a sexually violent predator until the next day.
Christine Cornell
Later, Constand took the stand. She kept her statement brief, noting she had already given her testimony during the retrial.
"All I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit," she said.
However, prosecutors later released her five-page victim-impact statement.
"Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it," she wrote. "He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature and my trust in myself and others."
Constand's mother, Gianna Constand, also read a letter to the court. Constand's father, Andrew Constand, and her sister, Diana Parsons read statements, as well.
"This has been a very difficult situation and I lost the ability to trust anyone," the matriarch said. "I don't think Bill Cosby has ever considered the pain and suffering this has caused us."
Afterwards, Green proceeded to defend Cosby.
"Mr. Cosby is not dangerous," he said. "An 81-year-old blind man is not self-sufficient."
While Green said his team wanted Cosby to participate in a program, they did not see how he could "fight off people trying to extort him" at his age.
Still, the prosecution's Kevin Steele said Cosby should "serve [the] sentence that he has earned."
"It is who he is behind the mask," Steele said, his voice quivering and his eyes filling with tears.
He later added that the prosecution was seeking the maximum sentence of five to 10 years in state prison'--as well as a $25,000 fine and costs of prosecution'--because Cosby showed "no acceptance of responsibility for his actions" and "no remorse."
"Nobody is above the law," he said. "Nobody."
The hearing ended shortly after and resumed on Tuesday at 9:15 a.m.
Christine Cornell
Cosby arrived for his second day of sentencing around 8:30 a.m.
Dudley was again called to speak. Defense psychologist Timothy Foley then contradicted Dudley's claims regarding Cosby having a personality disorder. He also dismissed her prediction that Cosby could commit a crime in the future.
"I found him to be extraordinarily low risk," Foley said, per The New York Times, noting he had met with Cosby for three hours in July and reviewed his records. Although, Foley admitted he hadn't read the trial records or depositions in the case.
Per The New York Times, prosecutor M. Stewart Ryan asked Foley if he was aware Cosby had admitted to receiving seven prescriptions of quaaludes to give to women for sex. Foley claimed he was not aware. He also claimed he didn't know five other women had testified against Cosby during the last trial and accused him of assaulting them.
Based upon the testimonies and statutory definitions, Judge O'Neill ultimately declared Cosby a sexually violent predator. As a result, the actor will have to register with state police for the rest of his life and provide them with his current residence, employment and student information should he ever enroll in school. He will also have to inform authorities of all temporary dwellings. Even if the comedian becomes homeless or is in a transient location, he must disclose his whereabouts. Failure to comply will result in a felony.
In addition to being obtained by the police, Cosby's name, address and other identifiable information will be made available to the public.
Cosby was then given the opportunity to speak; however, he ultimately decided not to address the court. The judge then retreated to his chambers to make a final decision. While the media expected the judge to announce the sentencing by 1:30 p.m., the decision didn't come until after 2:00 p.m.
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
Constand's allegations date back to January 2004, when she was an administrator for the women's basketball team at Cosby's alma mater, Temple University. Constand claimed she visited Cosby's Philadelphia house for career advice and was drugged and sexually assaulted by him.
"I was kind of, um, jolted awake, and felt Mr. Cosby on the couch behind me, and my vagina was being penetrated quite forcefully," Constand testified in April. "I felt my breasts being touched. And he took my hand, and placed my hand on his penis, and masturbated himself with my hand. And I was not able to do anything about it."
According NBC News, Constand is one of at least 60 women to accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct.
Don't miss E! News every weeknight at 7 p.m., only on E!
talia jane (spooky) on Twitter: "one quick thing before i go. cc: @JohnCheese and @modernrogueweb. fuck you. https://t.co/rxXqPdHTBm"
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:37
talia jane (spooky) @ itsa_talia
Sep 21 thank you to everyone who has reached out. i hope this helps protect other young writers. although comparatively minor, i could not have found the courage if not for the countless women who spoke up about their own experiences at the hands of men who abuse their power.
View conversation · avoid_the_void @ avoid_void
Sep 21 I'm one of those dummies that just commented on his page on how brave he is for apologizing. I ate that stuff up.I couldn't even imagine he would do such a thing to someone he had work relationship with. That shit is inexcusable. What the fuck.
View conversation ·
The Purge
Twitter Refuses to Suspend Antifa Account That Engaged in Doxxing, Threats & Targeted Harassment
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:32
But Alex Jones was perma-banned for being rude to a CNN reporterTwitter, the company that perma-banned Alex Jones for being rude to a CNN reporter, has refused to suspend an account that openly engaged in doxxing, threats and targeted harassment.
The 'Smash Racism DC' group, which was founded by an Antifa-supporting professor who has encouraged his Twitter followers to ''assassinate Mike Pence'' as well as to kill cops and local politicians, was responsible for the harassment of Senator Ted Cruz and his wife in a DC restaurant on Monday night.
Following the confrontation, which was at least equal in its malice to Alex Jones' confrontation of CNN's Oliver Darcy, the Smash Racism DC account openly doxxed political commentator Gavin McInnes, posting his phone number which resulted in McInnes receiving death threats.
In a separate tweet, the group declared, ''You are not safe. We will find you. We will expose you. We will take from you the peace you have taken from so many others,'' which is clearly a violation of Twitter's rules on targeted harassment, which state, ''You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so.''
The Smash Racism DC's banner image features an Antifa flag, a group that has been designated a domestic terror organization by the DHS and the FBI.
Despite multiple clear violations of Twitter's rules, the Smash Racism DC account is still online, as is the account of the group's founder, Mike Isaacson, despite Isaacson tweeting multiple violent threats against politicians and police officers.
The tweets above were deleted, but the account itself remains active.
Compare this to Alex Jones, who was permanently banned by Twitter for being rude to a CNN reporter during an exchange outside a Congressional hearing in DC.
Compare Twitter's response to that metered out to actor James Woods, who remains locked out of his account because he posted a satirical meme.
Apparently, satirical memes and coarse language are bannable offenses, but open threats of violence, targeted harassment and doxxing won't get you suspended or banned by Twitter (so long as you have the right politics).
This once again completely debunks the notion, trotted out yet again by the mainstream media after Trump's recent executive order targeting Big Tech was announced, that there is no social media bias against conservatives.
Yes, there clearly is. It happens on a daily basis and this is yet another example.
Infowars is the most censored broadcast in the west. Please support us by downloading the Infowars app before its banned!
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Twitter to ban 'dehumanizing' comments with user help
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:31
San Francisco (AFP) - Twitter on Tuesday reached out to users for help crafting a ban on comments that dehumanize people and set the stage for real-world violence.
A policy change that Twitter has been working on for several months is intended to broaden hateful content restrictions at the service to include barring tweets dehumanizing people based on race, religion, sexual orientation or other social grouping.
"Language that makes someone less than human can have repercussions off the service, including normalizing serious violence," Vijaya Gadde and Del Harvey of the Twitter trust and safety team said in a blog post.
"We want to expand our hateful conduct policy to include content that dehumanizes others based on their membership in an identifiable group, even when the material does not include a direct target."
Twitter policy already bans comments that promote violence or threats based on discrimination, but abusive tweets that do not break the company's rules are still fired of at the service, according to Gadde and Harvey.
In an unusual step, Twitter asked for feedback from users around the world regarding wording to be used in the policy amendment.
"We want your feedback to ensure we consider global perspectives and how this policy may impact different communities and cultures," Gadde and Harvey said.
Twitter chief and co-founder Jack Dorsey early this month told US lawmakers that the San Francisco-based service was "unprepared and ill-equipped" for the vast campaigns of manipulation that affected social media in the past few years.
Dorsey, appearing before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence campaigns on social media, said the messaging service was set up to function as a "public square" but failed to deal with "abuse, harassment, troll armies, propaganda through bots."
"We aren't proud of how that free and open exchange has been weaponized and used to distract and divide people, and our nation," he told senators.
"We found ourselves unprepared and ill-equipped for the immensity of the problems we've acknowledged."
Dorsey said Twitter has stepped up its effort to protect what he called a "healthy public square" but that the challenges were daunting.
James Woods Locked Out of Twitter for Posting 'Election Meddling' Meme | Breitbart
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:31
Chris Pizzello/Invision/APConservative actor James Woods was locked out of Twitter on Friday for posting a two-month-old meme that Jack Dorsey's social media platform believes ''could impact an election.''According to screenshots provided by Woods' associate Sara Miller, Twitter asked the 71-year-old actor to delete the image as it contained ''text and imagery that has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election.''
Hey guys, @Twitter has locked @RealJamesWoods' account.
His statement: ''You are a coward, @jack. There is no free speech for Conservatives on @Twitter.''#JamesWoods pic.twitter.com/zGVOnxP0D6
'-- Sara Miller (@Millerita) September 21, 2018
The meme in question showed three young men representing stereotypical male feminists saying they planned to abstain in the upcoming midterm elections so women could decide the outcome of the election.
''You are a coward, @ jack . There is no free speech for Conservatives on @ Twitter, '' Woods said in a statement about the account lock.
In a viral tweet earlier this month, Woods warned that the banning of Infowars personality Alex Jones was the beginning of a ''slippery slope'' towards ''real fascism.'' Twitter has a long, detailed history of censoring and suppressing conservative voices.
''I've never read Alex Jones nor watched any of his video presence on the internet,'' he wrote. ''A friend told me he was an extremist. Believe me that I know nothing about him. That said, I think banning him from the internet is a slippery slope. This is the beginning of real fascism. Trust me.''
I've never read Alex Jones nor watched any of his video presence on the internet. A friend told me he was an extremist. Believe me that I know nothing about him. That said, I think banning him from the internet is a slippery slope. This is the beginning of real fascism. Trust me.
'-- James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) September 9, 2018
Woods remains one of the few unashamedly conservative Hollywood figures, regularly tweeting on topics around politics, race, gender, immigration, and the Second Amendment. Last year, he admitted that he learned to openly express his views after accepting that he had been ''blacklisted'' by the entertainment industry.
''The only reason I express my views is that I have accepted the fact that I'm blacklisted,'' he wrote last year. ''Also I bought Apple stock in the 80's.''
Absolutely. The only reason I express my views is that I have accepted the fact that I'm blacklisted. Also I bought Apple stock in the 80's https://t.co/mNGNhRmx9d
'-- James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) August 22, 2017
Follow Ben Kew on Facebook, Twitter at @ben_kew, or email him at bkew@breitbart.com.
BREITBART CONNECT
It's just a small subset of society participating in the machine
Think about what YOU do when you have the floor or likes or attention, that power is what sleeping giants feel and it's intoxicating
Facebook Sued By PTSD-Stricken Moderator Over "Rape, Torture, Bestiality, Beheadings, Suicide And Murder" | Zero Hedge
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:01
A Northern California woman hired to review flagged Facebook content has sued the social media giant after she was "exposed to highly toxic, unsafe, and injurious content during her employment as a content moderator at Facebook," which she says gave her post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Selena Scola moderated content for Facebook as an employee of contractor Pro Unlimited, Inc. between June 2017 and March of this year, according to her complaint.
"Every day, Facebook users post millions of videos, images, and livestreamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide, and murder," the lawsuit reads. "To maintain a sanitized platform, maximize its already vast profits, and cultivate its public image, Facebook relies on people like Ms. Scola '' known as ''content moderators'' '' to view those posts and remove any that violate the corporation's terms of use."
"You'd go into work at 9am every morning, turn on your computer and watch someone have their head cut off. Every day, every minute, that's what you see. Heads being cut off," one content moderator recently told the Guardian.
According to the lawsuit, Facebook content moderators are asked to review over 10 million potentially rule-breaking posts per week, with an error rate of less than one percent - and a mission to review all user-reported content within 24 hours. Making the job even more difficult is Facebook Live, a feature that allows users to broadcast video streams on their Facebook pages.
The Facebook Live feature in particular "provides a platform for users to livestream murder, beheadings, torture, and even their own suicides, including the following:"
In late April a father killed his 11-month-old daughter and livestreamed it before hanging himself. Six days later, Naika Venant, a 14-year-old who lived in a foster home, tied a scarf to a shower's glass doorframe and hung herself. She streamed the whole suicide in real time on Facebook Live. Then in early May, a Georgia teenager took pills and placed a bag over her head in a suicide attempt. She livestreamed the attempt on Facebook and survived only because viewers watching the event unfold called police, allowing them to arrive before she died.
As a result of having to review said content, Scola says she "developed and suffers from significant psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)" - however she does not detail the specific imagery she was exposed to for fear of Facebook enforcing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) she signed.
Scola is currently the only named plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit, however the lawsuit says that the potential class could include "thousands" of current and former moderators in California.
As Motherboard reports, moderators have to view a constant flood of information and use their judgement on how to best censor content per Facebook's "constantly-changing rules."
Moderating content is a difficult job'--multiple documentaries, longform investigations, and law articles have noted that moderators work long hours, are exposed to disturbing and graphic content, and have the tough task of determining whether a specific piece of content violates Facebook's sometimes byzantine and constantly-changing rules. Facebook prides itself on accuracy, and with more than 2 billion users, Facebook's work force of moderators are asked to review millions of possibly infringing posts every day. -Motherboard
"An outsider might not totally comprehend, we aren't just exposed to the graphic videos'--you'll have to watch them closely, often repeatedly, for specific policy signifiers,'' one moderation source told Motherboard. ''Someone could be being graphically beaten in a video, and you could have to watch it a dozen times, sometimes with others present, while you decide whether the victim's actions would count as self-defense or not, or whether the aggressor is the same person who posted the video."
The lawsuit also alleges that "Facebook does not provide its content moderators with sufficient training or implement the safety standards it helped develop '... Ms. Scola's PTSD symptoms may be triggered when she touches a computer mouse, enters a cold building, watches violence on television, hears loud noises, or is startled. Her symptoms are also triggered when she recalls or describes graphic imagery she was exposed to as a content moderator."
Facebook told Motherboard that they are "currently reviewing the claim."
"We recognize that this work can often be difficult. That is why we take the support of our content moderators incredibly seriously, starting with their training, the benefits they receive, and ensuring that every person reviewing Facebook content is offered psychological support and wellness resources," the spokesperson said. "Facebook employees receive these in house and we also require companies that we partner with for content review to provide resources and psychological support, including onsite counseling'--available at the location where the plaintiff worked'--and other wellness resources like relaxation areas at many of our larger facilities."
''This job is not for everyone, candidly, and we recognize that,'' Brian Doegan, Facebook's director of global training, community operations, told Motherboard in June. He said that new hires are gradually exposed to graphic content to ''so we don't just radically expose you, but rather we do have a conversation about what it is, and what we're going to be seeing.''
Doegan said that there are rooms in each office that are designed to help employees de-stress. -Motherboard
"What I admire is that at any point in this role, you have access to counsellors, you have access to having conversations with other people," he said. "There's actual physical environments where you can go into, if you want to just kind of chillax, or if you want to go play a game, or if you just want to walk away, you know, be by yourself, that support system is pretty robust, and that is consistent across the board."
Read the lawsuit below:
Content Moderator Sues Facebook, Says Job Gave Her PTSD - Motherboard
Mon, 24 Sep 2018 16:51
A woman in California sued Facebook Friday for being ''exposed to highly toxic, unsafe, and injurious content during her employment as a content moderator at Facebook.''
Selena Scola was a content moderator at Facebook's Menlo Park, California headquarters from June 2017 through March of this year, according to the lawsuit. She worked for a contractor called Pro Unlimited, Inc., which helps Facebook delete content that violates its Community Standards. Facebook has roughly 7,500 content moderators worldwide, who are tasked with deleting hate speech, graphic violence and self harm images and video, nudity and sexual content, bullying, and a host of other content that violates its policies.
Scola's lawyers say that she developed post traumatic stress disorder as a result of ''constant and unmitigated exposure to highly toxic and extremely disturbing images at the workplace,'' and allege that Facebook does not have proper mental health services and monitoring in place for its content moderators. The case was filed as a class-action lawsuit, but at the moment Scola is the only named plaintiff; the lawsuit names a potential class of ''thousands'' of current and former moderators in California.
The lawsuit does not currently include specific details about Scola's job and instead relies on news investigations about how content moderation works; Scola's lawyers told Motherboard that further into the legal process she will detail them. ''This complaint does not include these [specifics] because Ms. Scola fears that Facebook may retaliate against her using a purported non-disclosure agreement.''
Moderating content is a difficult job'--multiple documentaries, longform investigations, and law articles have noted that moderators work long hours, are exposed to disturbing and graphic content, and have the tough task of determining whether a specific piece of content violates Facebook's sometimes byzantine and constantly-changing rules. Facebook prides itself on accuracy, and with more than 2 billion users, Facebook's work force of moderators are asked to review millions of possibly infringing posts every day.
"An outsider might not totally comprehend, we aren't just exposed to the graphic videos'--you'll have to watch them closely, often repeatedly, for specific policy signifiers,'' one moderation source told Motherboard. ''Someone could be being graphically beaten in a video, and you could have to watch it a dozen times, sometimes with others present, while you decide whether the victim's actions would count as self-defense or not, or whether the aggressor is the same person who posted the video."
The source said they are ''not surprised at all'' that Facebook is now facing a lawsuit. ''It's definitely a thing that some coworkers and former coworkers speak of.''
Another moderation source at Facebook told Motherboard: ''I'm not surprised.''
The lawsuit alleges that ''Facebook does not provide its content moderators with sufficient training or implement the safety standards it helped develop '... Ms. Scola's PTSD symptoms may be triggered when she touches a computer mouse, enters a cold building, watches violence on television, hears loud noises, or is startled. Her symptoms are also triggered when she recalls or describes graphic imagery she was exposed to as a content moderator.''
Facebook did not immediately provide Motherboard a comment for this article about the specifics of the lawsuit. However, earlier this year, when we visited Facebook's headquarters, multiple high-level employees told us that the company is working to make the job less stressful and potentially traumatic for its moderators. The company does have specific training protocols for content moderators, though the lawsuit alleges they are insufficient.
"There's actual physical environments where you can go into, if you want to just kind of chillax, or if you want to go play a game, or if you just want to walk away, you know, be by yourself, that support system is pretty robust"
''This job is not for everyone, candidly, and we recognize that,'' Brian Doegan, Facebook's director of global training, community operations, told Motherboard in June. He said that new hires are gradually exposed to graphic content to ''so we don't just radically expose you, but rather we do have a conversation about what it is, and what we're going to be seeing.''
Doegan said that there are rooms in each office that are designed to help employees de-stress.
''What I admire is that at any point in this role, you have access to counsellors, you have access to having conversations with other people,'' he said. ''There's actual physical environments where you can go into, if you want to just kind of chillax, or if you want to go play a game, or if you just want to walk away, you know, be by yourself, that support system is pretty robust, and that is consistent across the board.''
Carolyn Glanville, a Facebook spokesperson, told Motherboard in June that each office and contractor that does content moderation has mental health services, but that the types of services offered vary by country depending on what the company believes are best practices as determined by its culture.
''Whereas [in some countries] it's fine to just go walk across the hall to a counsellor, and they don't care, in other cultures, they don't do that, they would do it off hours, and other people might not know about it,'' she said.
Scola's lawsuit asks the court to create a ''Facebook-funded medical monitoring program to facilitate the diagnosis and aquate treatment of Plaintiff and the class for psychological trauma, including but not limited to PTSD.''
Next, a judge in California will decide if the case has enough merit to move forward.
Brexit
Explanation of the BackStop and Northern Ireland
Hello Adam and John,
In Sunday's episode, Adam was wondering about the Brexit
'backstop' and the significance of Northern Ireland in the whole Brexit
debacle.
In short, Northern Ireland is the only major region of the
UK that shares a land border with an EU country. As such, once the UK
leaves the EU (and presumably leaves the customs union), there will have to be
some kind of customs checks established between the north and south of
Ireland. This is very difficult to achieve, because the border is
currently completely open and invisible with no passport controls and no
physical infrastructure on the ground between the two countries. The
de-militarisation of the area at the end of the conflict and the dismantlement
of all physical signs of the border are considered positives, and both sides
are happy with this arrangement.
Customs checks would also be difficult to enforce, as the
border has some pecularities. For example, there are a number of places
where the border runs down the middle of the road (between the two lanes of
traffic), and there are many winding roads that can cross back and forth
between the two countries over the course of a few miles.
Because of all this, we have the 'backstop' proposal, which
is for Northern Ireland to remain in some kind of customs partnership with the
EU (sometimes described as 'Regulatory Alignment'), to ensure minimal
disruption. This is a popular opinion in Northern Ireland especially,
since the majority here voted against Brexit in the referendum.
The problem with the backstop is that Theresa May's
coalition partners (the DUP), whom she depends on to keep her slim majority in
parliament, are against it. They oppose anything that would separate
Northern Ireland from Britain in any way. The result is a political
deadlock, and Theresa May is unable to make much progress in her negotiations
with the EU.
My suspicion is that the whole of the UK will remain in some
kind of partnership with the EU, remaining a member in all but name. Not
quite a do-over, but a fudge to keep the status quo.
ITM,
From a listener in Northern Ireland
SCOTUS
U.S. Const. art III, §1, “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior…” (emphasis added).
US scandals always about sex. Sex is a stigma
Maybe Trump knows something about Ginsberg
She's from an abortion pharma company [Sir Ready Kilowatt]
Someone
in the comments of this post pointed out/posted Ford’s resume’. Thought you
might be interested:
https://moneymaven.io/mishtalk/economics/kavanaugh-s-detailed-1982-calendar-still-more-evidence-he-is-innocent-j2sZ4NJZoE-pnwiiuop3Lw/?replyPage=1
"Dr. Ford
was the Director of Biostatistics at Corcept Therapeutics.
Page 135 of the Palo Alto University Catalog
listing Dr Ford's resume.
Corcept's only revenue is from Korlym = 300mg mifepristone/tablet.
28 Korlym tablets = $13,396 [per Drugs.com] or about $478/tablet. Corcept's net
revenue is about $120 million for 6 months to 6/2018 or annualized to $240
million per year. [Per Corcept financial statements]
RU486 = The abortion pill = 200mg mifepristone [exactly
the same thing].
Corcept's Korlym approval is as a secondary use (for a
very specific type of Cushing's syndrome). The primary approval for
mifepristone is for abortion. If abortion is restricted, mifepristone use may
be restricted.
Judge Kavanaugh is seen as a threat to abortion. Thus,
Judge Kavanaugh is seen as an existential threat to a $240million/year revenue
stream.
Is 240,000,000...per year....reasons enough to fabricate a
debunked "credible" story? (debunked by 4 witnesses she claimed to be
there, and the fact that she could not recall time, place, etc) [Since the
story is fabricated, of course it will sound "credible"...duh... When
I hear people say it sounds "credible" I just have to shake my head....what
you need is "provable".... with corroborating witnesses, dates,
places, specific proofs, blue dresses, etc.]
Anyway, it is beyond silly that someone can fabricate a
story about something 36 years ago and her story was debunked, and she still
gets to dictate terms to the Senate Judiciary Committee on a SCOTUS
appointment.
One side note: Corcept buys Korlym, for a cost of sale of
about 1% of the revenue, from two 3rd parties. So, yes, it is 240,000,000
extremely profitable reasons.
Big
Pharma and big abortion combined!
NYT Called Out For Hiding 'Multiple Key Facts' In Kavanaugh Yearbook Report | Daily Wire
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:02
On Monday, The New York Times published a report alleging that Brett Kavanaugh made a reference in one of his high school yearbooks that was "hurtful" to a girl who was part of an inside joke among Kavanaugh and his football buddies. Kavanaugh and four of the guys who'd made the "mysterious" reference ("Renate Alumnius") to a girl who a few of them said they'd gone on an "innocent date" with at some point responded by saying it was a harmless joke.
Now, the Times is getting blowback not only for the pettiness of the story but for hiding multiple key facts. The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway reports that the Times "hid multiple problems with its claims, including that it was sourced to a rabidly anti-Trump politician in Maryland and his associate." Hemingway reports:
The original article published online on Monday night was quickly scrubbed of a reference to a ''Mr. Madaleno.'' The Times uses full names on first references to sources and titles on second references, though it was the first time his name was mentioned in the article. The claim of sexual braggadocio is sourced earlier in the article to one named and one anonymous individual who claims to fear retribution. NewsDiffs, a site that tracks changes to articles at the New York Times, caught the rapid deletion of his name. Reporters Kate Kelly and David Enrich did not explain why it was removed.
Richard S. Madaleno Jr., a classmate of Kavanaugh's at Georgetown Prep, is a state senator in Maryland who recently lost a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor. He garnered headlines for a campaign ad that featured him kissing his male spouse as a rebuke of Trump. The 30-second spot has him telling viewers he seeks to ''deliver progressive results and stand up to Donald Trump'' before listing things he's done ''that already infuriate'' Trump.
And that's not all. Another source for the article, former Georgetown Prep classmate William Fishburne, was a campaign surrogate for Madaleno, Hemingway writes. The Times also failed to note that the person quoted in the article who strongly condemned the "hurtful" comments was an editor of the yearbook, Hemingway adds.
But the most egregious aspect of the report is that while the Times "allowed anonymous sources to make the claim of sexual bragging that forms the basis of the story," the paper "would not allow anonymous sources to dispute that claim or defend the group of classmates."
A statement denying that any sexual contact with the boys and the girl, Renate Schroeder Dolphin, made by one of the accusers somehow never made into the article, Hemingway reports.
When a reporter from the New York Times called one of the men a few days ago, the reporter said, ''I understand that you and other friends used to brag about having had sex with'' Dolphin and that a story saying as much was about to be published. It is unclear whether the reporter made similar presentations to Dolphin to elicit comments from her. The friends' claims to the contrary, including denials of any sexual contact, were downplayed or ignored by the New York Times.
One of the people involved, who asked to stay anonymous, told the Federalist that the Times' "callous treatment of the yearbook references to our friend have now destroyed relationships that span four decades."
Read Hemingway's full report here.
Related: Kavanaugh Responds To NYT Report On 'Hurtful' High School Yearbook Comment
Ex-boyfriend filed restraining order against third Kavanaugh accuser - POLITICO
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:40
Attorney Michael Avenatti revealed Julie Swetnick's allegations against Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday. | David McNew/Getty Images
Julie Swetnick, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a friend of attending house parties where women '-- including herself '-- were sexually assaulted, had a restraining order filed against her years later in Miami by her former boyfriend.
A Miami-Dade County court docket shows a petition for injunction against Swetnick was filed March 1, 2001, by her former boyfriend, Richard Vinneccy, who told POLITICO Wednesday the two had dated for four years before they broke up.
Story Continued Below
Thirteen days later, the case was dismissed, not long after an affidavit of non-ability to advance fees was filed.
According to Vinneccy, Swetnick threatened him after they broke up and even after he got married to his current wife and had a child.
''Right after I broke up with her, she was threatening my family, threatening my wife and threatening to do harm to my baby at that time,'' Vinneccy said in a telephone interview with POLITICO. "I know a lot about her.''
"She's not credible at all,'' he said. ''Not at all.''
The allegation is likely to raise questions among Republican defenders of Kavanaugh about Swetnick's credibility after her attorney Michael Avenatti revealed her for the first time on Wednesday.
Reached late Wednesday, Avenatti said he knew nothing of a restraining order and called the line of inquiry irrelevant.
"Complete nonsense. No truth to this at all. Her ex-boyfriend fraudulently used her resume to apply for and obtain jobs and was caught by her," said Avenatti. ''Why are you all attacking a sexual assault victim? Would that be appropriate in a court of law?''
Citing the sensitive nature of the case and the explosive politics surrounding it, Vinneccy said he wanted to talk to an attorney first before further discussing the case, which has kept him occupied all day.
''My phone has not stopped since this morning. Everyone is calling,'' Vinneccy said.
Vinneccy, 63, is a registered Democrat, according to Miami-Dade County voting records.
Swetnick was identified on Wednesday by Avenatti, who produced a sworn statement asserting that she met Kavanaugh in the 1980-1981 time period and subsequently attended more than 10 house parties where she said Kavanaugh and a close friend of his, Mark Judge, attended.
Swetnick does not accuse Kavanaugh himself of sexually assaulting her in the sworn statement. But she asserts Kavanaugh was present when she was the victim of a ''gang rape'' by multiple boys at one party.
Vinneccy made clear that he did not believe her story.
''I have a lot of facts, evidence, that what she's saying is not true at all,'' he said. ''I would rather speak to my attorney first before saying more."
Avenatti said called the reporting ''outrageous'' and accused the press of ''digging into the past'' of a woman who stepped forward and is willing to testify under oath.
''I am disgusted by the fact that the press is attacking a sexual assault victim,'' Avenatti said.
When asked if the allegation of a restraining order were true, Avenatti said: ''I don't know one way or another,'' adding he would research it further.
Avenatti previously said he had vetted the client and in a sworn statement, she said she still held government clearances.
Matt Dixon and Marianne Levine contributed to this report.
Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning '-- in your inbox.
NA Tech News
The Problem With 5G | John C. Dvorak | PCMag.com
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:13
The technology might be the problem, but even worse for the companies behind it is the perception that 5G is already unsafe before they even get it on a single pole.
August 22, 2018 12:21PM ESTAugust 22, 2018PCMag reviews products
independently, but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page.
Terms of use.
If you read the barrage of scary literature about 5G mobile phone technology, specifically the use of millimeter wave frequencies to transmit data, you must conclude that it is a bad bet.
I'm not saying this because the technology does not work. It's a bad bet because so little is known about the effects of millimeter waves (30GHz-300GHz). While these frequencies only permeate a small fraction of the human epidermis (the skin), the effect on the cornea, in particular, needs serious research.
Because the industry is too cheap to study the health effects of the technology itself, it lets this sort of product out the door despite the fact that it has already been weaponized by the military. These frequencies are so poor at travelling long distances, they need a transmitter on nearly every telephone pole and light pole to make 5G work.
5G is already getting some bad publicity, which could result in everything from bans on the technology to equipment destruction by vigilantes.
Of course, when you read deeper into what the chip and telecom companies are trying to do, you quickly discover that many systems calling themselves 5G are currently 4G mods using 5G as a marketing tool. Let's ignore that scam and stay focused on millimeter waves.
As usual, the mostly arrogant (or na¯ve) technology industry is caught flat-footed at the negative reaction. It always figures that the stupid public will buy into anything new and jazzy if it makes their handheld phone seem a little faster, and even pay more for the privilege of the upgrade.
One of the ways the industry has made this all work in the past is by quick implementation followed by a "Hey look it works! Nobody was killed" approach. That cannot happen with true 5G, which needs all these mini-towers all over the place. That leaves plenty more time for the public to get a clue and be freaked out.
When you do a search for "5G is Safe" on Google and Bing, you get a number of negative stories and a laundry list of why some people believe it's unsafe. Companies may as well begin to market a 5G mobile phone with a skull and crossbones on it.
If this bad PR is somehow reversed and 5G takes over the market, I will be shocked. The way it is going does not bode well for any of it.
TopRead MoreAbout the AuthorJohn C. Dvorak is a columnist for PCMag.com and the co-host of the twice weekly podcast, the No Agenda Show. His work is licensed around the world. Previously a columnist for Forbes, PC/Computing, Computer Shopper, MacUser, Barrons, the DEC Professional as well as other newspapers and magazines. Former editor and consulting editor for InfoWorld, he... See Full Bio
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IPV6 NA to the rescue
Adding weight to your ipv6 experience: we're at a trade show
in Amsterdam and we've got 4 4g routers (teltonika rut240) and they kept
dropping their connection. Neither the router supplier or the network support
guys knew what was going on so I disabled ipv6 and POW. Stable connection.
No agenda FTW!
Also everyone sounds like your super enthusiastic Dutch guy
voice. It's great.
Cheers
Sir Sam
OTG
Back to the Nokia E71 for battery life and browser speed
Leave no dark corner - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:36
China is building a digital dictatorship to exert control over its 1.4 billion citizens. For some, "social credit" will bring privileges '-- for others, punishment.
Dandan Fan is very much the modern Chinese woman.
A marketing professional, she's diligent and prosperous '-- in many ways she's a model Chinese citizen.
But Dandan is being watched 24 hours a day.
Photo Dandan Fan welcomes China's coming 'social credit' system. Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming A vast network of 200 million CCTV cameras across China ensures there's no dark corner in which to hide.
Every step she takes, every one of her actions big or small '-- even what she thinks '-- can be tracked and judged.
And Dandan says that's fine with her.
What may sound like a dystopian vision of the future is already happening in China. And it's making and breaking lives.
The Communist Party calls it "social credit" and says it will be fully operational by 2020.
Within years, an official Party outline claims, it will "allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step".
Photo Cameras monitor a busy street in Beijing, part of a network of 200 million CCTV cameras across China. Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming Social credit is like a personal scorecard for each of China's 1.4 billion citizens.
In one pilot program already in place, each citizen has been assigned a score out of 800. In other programs it's 900.
Those, like Dandan, with top "citizen scores" get VIP treatment at hotels and airports, cheap loans and a fast track to the best universities and jobs.
"It will allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step."
Those at the bottom can be locked out of society and banned from travel, or barred from getting credit or government jobs.
The system will be enforced by the latest in high-tech surveillance systems as China pushes to become the world leader in artificial intelligence.
Surveillance cameras will be equipped with facial recognition, body scanning and geo-tracking to cast a constant gaze over every citizen.
Smartphone apps will also be used to collect data and monitor online behaviour on a day-to-day basis.
Then, big data from more traditional sources like government records, including educational and medical, state security assessments and financial records, will be fed into individual scores.
Trial social credit systems are now in various stages of development in at least a dozen cities across China.
Several companies are working with the state to nationalise the system, co-ordinate and configure the technology, and finalise the algorithms that will determine the national citizen score.
It's probably the largest social engineering project ever attempted, a way to control and coerce more than a billion people.
If successful, it will be the world's first digital dictatorship.
Photo Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming At the supermarket, Dandan is browsing the aisles. Even this everyday task will not escape the Party's penetrating gaze.
When social credit is fully implemented, what she puts into the trolley could impact her social score.
Buying too much alcohol might suggest dependence; she'll lose a couple of points.
But buying a pack of nappies might suggest responsibility; she'll gain a few points.
The system will be "live" so her score will update in real time.
Dandan doesn't object to the prospect of life under the state's all-seeing surveillance network.
The 36-year-old knows social credit is not a perfect system but believes it's the best way to manage a complex country with the world's biggest population.
"I think people in every country want a stable and safe society," she says.
"If, as our government says, every corner of public space is installed with cameras, I'll feel safe."
She's also likely to benefit from the system.
Dandan's financial behaviour will be an important measure for the national social credit score.
Under an existing financial credit scheme called Sesame Credit, Dandan has a very high score of 770 out of 800 '-- she is very much the loyal Chinese citizen.
Photo A financial app shows Dandan's score is 773 out of 800. The perks of such a high score are only a few taps away. Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming Thanks to her rating, Dandan is already able to partake in many of the rewards of China's rapid development.
An app on her phone gives access to special privileges like renting a car, hotel room or a house without a deposit.
"If, as our government says, every corner of public space is installed with cameras, I'll feel safe."
But social credit will be affected by more than just internet browsing and shopping decisions.
Who your friends and family are will affect your score. If your best friend or your dad says something negative about the government, you'll lose points too.
Who you date and ultimately partner with will also affect social credit.
Photo Dandan says surveillance in China's public spaces makes her feel safe, even if the government uses it to keep an eye on citizens. Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming Dandan married for love but she chose the right husband '-- Xiaojing Zhang is likely to have an even higher score than her.
He's a civil servant in the justice department, a loyal cadre to the party.
"We need a social credit system," says Xiaojing.
"In the Chinese nation, we hope we can help each other, love each other, and help everyone become prosperous.
"As President Xi said, we will be rich and democratic, cultural, harmonious and beautiful.
"It is Xi's hope for the country's future. It is also the hope of the whole Chinese nation."
Photo As Dandan and Xiaojing are model parents, their son Ruibao, 2, will benefit from their social credit too. Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming China has long been a surveillance state, so the citizenry is accustomed to the government taking a determining role in personal affairs.
For many in China, privacy doesn't have the same premium as it does in the West.
The Chinese place a higher value on community good versus individual rights, so most feel that, if social credit will bring a safer, more secure, more stable society, then bring it on.
But most don't seem to comprehend the all-encompassing control social credit is likely to have, and there's been no public debate about implementing the system inside China.
In private, there's been some disquiet in the educated middle classes about the citizen score being the only criterion for character assessment.
But that's not going to stop the rollout.
The Party is using the system to win back some of the control it lost when China opened up to the world in the 1980s and rapid development followed.
It's a way to silence dissent and ensure the Party's absolute dominance.
Already, about 10 million people have been punished in the trial areas of social credit.
Liu Hu is just one of them.
Photo Liu Hu believes the Chinese government sees him as an enemy. Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming In many societies, he would be celebrated. Not in China.
Liu Hu is an investigative journalist who has uncovered corruption at the top levels of the Party and solved serial murder cases.
He says the government considers him an enemy.
Hu lost his social credit when he was charged with a speech crime and now finds himself locked out of society due to his low score.
In 2015, Hu lost a defamation case after he accused an official of extortion.
He was made to publish an apology and pay a fine but when the court demanded an additional fee, he refused.
Last year, the 43-year-old found himself blacklisted as "dishonest" under a pilot social credit scheme.
"There are a lot of people who are on the blacklist wrongly, but they can't get off it," says Hu.
Photo Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming Photo Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming Photo Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming It's destroyed his career and isolated him, and he now fears for his family's future.
The social credit system has closed down his travel options and kept him under effective house arrest in his hometown of Chongqing.
"Their eyes are blinded and their ears are blocked. They know little about the world and live in an illusion."
In an apartment above the streets of Chongqing city, Hu tries to use a phone app to book train tickets to Xi'an. The attempt is rejected.
"[The app] says it fails to make a booking and my access to high-speed rail is legally restricted," he explains.
Hu's social media accounts, where he published much of his investigative journalism, have also been shut down.
Hu claims his combined Wechat and Weibo accounts had two million followers at their peak but are now censored.
Photo Chinese journalist Liu Hu lost his social credit and is effectively confined to house arrest. Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming Hu believes his blacklisting is political and has tried to appeal to authorities. So far he has been met with silence.
Hu wants to warn the world of the nightmare of social credit.
Doing so could put his friends and family at risk of reprisals from the state, but Hu believes most Chinese don't yet understand what's to come under the digital totalitarian state.
"You can see from the Chinese people's mental state," says Hu.
"Their eyes are blinded and their ears are blocked. They know little about the world and live in an illusion."
Photo Foreign Correspondent: Brant Cumming Dandan sees blue skies in her digital future. And for her, there's another incentive to be optimistic about social credit.
It's a way to ensure a happy and healthy future for her two-year-old son, Ruibao.
Thanks to his parents' high citizen scores, Ruibao will get the best possible start in life '-- the best housing, schools and healthcare.
The provisions and protections of the Party will be bestowed upon him.
So long as mum and dad keep their credit up.
Watch Foreign Correspondent's 'Leave no dark corner' on YouTube.
CreditsReporter: Matthew CarneyVideo and photography: Brant CummingDigital producer: Matthew HenryProducer: Alex BarryGraphics: Andres Gomez Isaza
The Future of Credit-Card ID Verification - WSJ
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:34
Credit-card companies, banks and vendors are changing how they verify consumers' identities. Passwords and PINs could become less important. Biometric analysis could become the norm.
The proving ground for the latest in payment technology is Europe, where a new law could encourage greater use of biometrics in a bid to reduce burgeoning payment fraud.
Starting September 2019 in the European Union, a large portion of online payments greater than '‚¬30 (currently about $35) will require multifactor authentication. Consumers will need to use two of three things to verify transactions: something they know, like a password; something they have, like a digital device, perhaps a USB token, that identifies them; or something they are: biometric data.
Proofs based on physical characteristics, like fingerprints and faces, are slowly becoming more common. This legislation will likely cause them to surge.
Most consumers using biometrics will likely do so on their phones, many of which already have technology that payment-service providers will use to verify payments'--such as Apple Inc.'s Touch ID fingerprint sensors or Face ID facial-recognition software on its iPhones.
Making the payment process frictionless could determine which providers prosper'--and which languish.
''We're helping the industry move toward biometrics as a preferred method,'' says Mark Nelsen, senior vice president at Visa Inc. ''Customers are getting more comfortable with those solutions, and they're our preferred method, too.''
Another company hoping to profit from the change is Veridium, a Boston-based biometrics firm.
''We've built our company around trying not to change the way you interact with technology too radically,'' says Chief Executive James Stickland. ''You could plug in Touch ID or Face ID, and that's great because people are used to it.''
Veridium also provides an authentication technology it calls 4 Fingers TouchlessID that turns smartphones, even older models, into fingerprint scanners.
Ease of use will be paramount to companies in the payment-services and biometrics sector. Vendors and payment-services providers ''have to meet requirements on the fraud side and provide a good user experience,'' says Frances Zelazny, chief marketing officer at BioCatch, a firm based in Boston. ''If they can't manage their fraud, they'll go away,'' Ms. Zelazny says. ''And if they can't manage their user experience, they'll go away'' because consumers won't use them.
Behind the scenes, BioCatch and other biometrics companies are working on technology called behavioral biometrics. That technology allows vendors and payment providers to analyze users' actions and habits to determine whether a transaction should be considered valid. Criteria include whether the transaction is in line with a user's usual spending pattern, made from a familiar location, or aimed at someone who often receives payments from that user.
''With touch-screen devices, we have a lot of sensors, so we're able to infer how you swipe, the pressure you put on the screen, how much of your finger you'd leave on the button as you pause before the next one,'' says Dr. Neil Costigan, CEO of BehavioSec, a behavioral biometrics firm. ''Not so much what you're doing as how you're doing it.''
EU guidelines say that payments of '‚¬30 to '‚¬500 will be exempt from multifactor authentication if they are judged to be sufficiently safe'--a determination that behavioral biometrics can help to make. Those technologies can also be used, in certain circumstances, instead of physical biometrics as one of the three proofs required to authenticate a transaction. Smoother, more secure verification processes minimize false alarms when cards are declined, thus reducing abandoned purchases.
Still, biometric solutions face barriers to adoption. Veridium's Mr. Stickland says: ''People's education is probably the most immature element of utilization. The end user has to be more aware.''
''What concerns us is consumer awareness,'' says Visa's Mr. Nelsen. ''We know the consumer has no idea really what this regulation means.'' And, he adds, ''with hundreds of millions of customers making online payments, and millions of merchants receiving them, older technologies won't disappear overnight.''
Meanwhile, even if customers do take to biometrics, a full rollout of the technology may take some time.
''Part of the challenge has been lethargy. We've seen that with chip and PIN in the U.S.,'' says Mr. Stickland, referring to the card industry's ponderous transition away from requiring signature-based payments.
As a result, he says, the move away from plastic cards'--and toward mobile-based authentication'--is ''probably a 10-year journey, not a two-year journey. But I think plastic will be gone altogether in 10 years.''
Passwords, too, will be around for quite some time. Mr. Nelsen says that biometrics systems already in place still use passwords as backups for authentication.
''The only way to get rid of passwords is to have a number of biometrics, so if one fails, you can use another one,'' he says. ''We'll start to see more biometrics used to verify identity'.... You'll walk up to the counter, use face recognition to initiate the payment, and that's it.''
Mr. Frankl-Duval is a Wall Street Journal reporter in London. Email: mischa.frankl-duval@wsj.com.
Corrections & Amplifications The European Union in some cases will allow the use of behavioral biometrics as proof of a consumer's identity in authenticating a transaction when new rules take effect next year, according to a European Banking Authority spokesperson. Additionally, Veridium is a biometrics company based in Boston that provides an authentication technology it calls 4 Fingers TouchlessID. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that behavioral biometrics could not be used as proof. The same article incorrectly stated that Veridium was based in New York and referred to the technology as 4F. (September 26, 2018)
Google Chrome 69 automatic login
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:24
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O developer conference on May 17, 2017.
The most recent update of Google's popular Chrome browser includes a policy change that makes privacy advocates uncomfortable: The browser automatically signs users in to Chrome if they use any other Google services.
That means if you're using Chrome to sign in to a Google service like Gmail, Chrome will begin tracking information such as the other sites you visit and which tabs you have open until you close the browser or sign out of either Chrome or Gmail.
If you give Google permission by clicking an option to "Sync," that information is sent back to Google.
Once it's there, Google can use it for several purposes. On the plus side, if you sign in to Chrome on a different computer, all your stuff '-- including extensions, bookmarks, browsing history and saved passwords '-- will show up, ready to use.
But on the minus side for people concerned about privacy, Google can add that data to the vast amount that it already has about you through other linked accounts, such as Maps and YouTube. Google uses that data to target ads.
Previously, it was possible to use the Google Chrome browser to sign in to a Google service, like Gmail, without actually logging into the browser itself. The browser would only store information locally; you never even had the option to send it back to Google (unless you signed in to Chrome by choice).
Ultimately, this change more explicitly frames Chrome as another Google service, rather than as a neutral platform to surf the web.
'What stops you from changing your mind?'Although the Chrome browser update happened in mid-September, Google was scrambling to explain the policy change over the weekend after cryptographer and Johns Hopkins Information Security assistant professor Matthew Green highlighted the issue on his Twitter account and then in a blog post titled Why I'm Done with Chrome.
Green had personally been using Chrome without logging in for years. This was a good option for users like him who didn't want their Chrome browsing history sent to Google or linked to the Google account that they used for Gmail, for example. He argues this is a betrayal of trust.
"If you didn't respect my lack of consent on the biggest user-facing privacy option in Chrome (and didn't even notify me that you had stopped respecting it!) why should I trust any other consent option you give me?" Green wrote. "What stops you from changing your mind on that option in a few months, when we've all stopped paying attention?"
He also criticizes the user interface that Google uses to ask whether it can sync your data. Indeed, if you click the drop-down menu in Chrome, the phrasing doesn't make it clear whether you're sending your data back to Google or not.
The interface could cause people to "think they're already syncing and thus there's no additional cost to increasing Google's access to their data," he writes.
Here's how Google asks for consent to sync your data:
In response to Green's Twitter thread, Google Chrome product manager Adrienne Porter Felt said that Google made this change to stop users who share devices from thinking that they had signed out of Chrome when they actually had not.
TweetGoogle's argument is that by tying Chrome and other Google service accounts together, it will be harder for you to accidentally "leak" data, like passwords stored in Chrome, across accounts (like if somebody else uses your computer).
However, as Green writes, the change still completely eliminates an option that used to be available to users who never signed in to Chrome in the first place, but still wanted to use other Google services.
WATCH: How to download everything Google knows about you
Why I'm done with Chrome '' A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering
Mon, 24 Sep 2018 16:26
This blog is mainly reserved for cryptography, and I try to avoid filling it with random ''someone is wrong on the Internet'' posts. After all, that's what Twitter is for! But from time to time something bothers me enough that I have to make an exception. Today I wanted to write specifically about Google Chrome, how much I've loved it in the past, and why '-- due to Chrome's new user-unfriendly forced login policy '-- I won't be using it going forward.
A brief history of ChromeWhen Google launched Chrome ten years ago, it seemed like one of those rare cases where everyone wins. In 2008, the browser market was dominated by Microsoft, a company with an ugly history of using browser dominance to crush their competitors. Worse, Microsoft was making noises about getting into the search business. This posed an existential threat to Google's internet properties.
In this setting, Chrome was a beautiful solution. Even if the browser never produced a scrap of revenue for Google, it served its purpose just by keeping the Internet open to Google's other products. As a benefit, the Internet community would receive a terrific open source browser with the best development team money could buy. This might be kind of sad for Mozilla (who have paid a high price due to Chrome) but overall it would be a good thing for Internet standards.
For many years this is exactly how things played out. Sure, Google offered an optional ''sign in'' feature for Chrome, which presumably vacuumed up your browsing data and shipped it off to Google, but that was an option. An option you could easily ignore. If you didn't take advantage of this option, Google's privacy policy was clear: your data would stay on your computer where it belonged.
What changed?A few weeks ago Google shipped an update to Chrome that fundamentally changes the sign-in experience. From now on, every time you log into a Google property (for example, Gmail), Chrome will automatically sign the browser into your Google account for you. It'll do this without asking, or even explicitly notifying you. (However, and this is important: Google developers claim this will not actually start synchronizing your data to Google '-- yet. See further below.)
Your sole warning '-- in the event that you're looking for it '-- is that your Google profile picture will appear in the upper-right hand corner of the browser window. I noticed mine the other day:
The change hasn't gone entirely unnoticed: it received some vigorous discussion on sites like Hacker News. But the mainstream tech press seems to have ignored it completely. This is unfortunate '-- and I hope it changes '-- because this update has huge implications for Google and the future of Chrome.
In the rest of this post, I'm going to talk about why this matters. From my perspective, this comes down to basically four points:
Nobody on the Chrome development team can provide a clear rationale for why this change was necessary, and the explanations they've given don't make any sense.This change has enormous implications for user privacy and trust, and Google seems unable to grapple with this.The change makes a hash out of Google's own privacy policies for Chrome.Google needs to stop treating customer trust like it's a renewable resource, because they're screwing up badly.I warn you that this will get a bit ranty. Please read on anyway.
Google's stated rationale makes no senseThe new feature that triggers this auto-login behavior is called ''Identity consistency between browser and cookie jar'' (HN). After conversations with two separate Chrome developers on Twitter (who will remain nameless '-- mostly because I don't want them to hate me), I was given the following rationale for the change:
To paraphrase this explanation: if you're in a situation where you've already signed into Chrome and your friend shares your computer, then you can wind up accidentally having your friend's Google cookies get uploaded into your account. This seems bad, and sure, we want to avoid that.
But note something critical about this scenario. In order for this problem to apply to you, you already have to be signed into Chrome . There is absolutely nothing in this problem description that seems to affect users who chose not to sign into the browser in the first place.
So if signed-in users are your problem, why would you make a change that forces unsigned''in users to become signed-in? I could waste a lot more ink wondering about the mismatch between the stated ''problem'' and the ''fix'', but I won't bother: because nobody on the public-facing side of the Chrome team has been able to offer an explanation that squares this circle.
And this matters, because ''sync'' or not'...
The change has serious implications for privacy and trustThe Chrome team has offered a single defense of the change. They point out that just because your browser is ''signed in'' does not mean it's uploading your data to Google's servers. Specifically:
While Chrome will now log into your Google account without your consent (following a Gmail login), Chrome will not activate the ''sync'' feature that sends your data to Google. That requires an additional consent step. So in theory your data should remain local.
This is my paraphrase. But I think it's fair to characterize the general stance of the Chrome developers I spoke with as: without this ''sync'' feature, there's nothing wrong with the change they've made, and everything is just fine.
This is nuts, for several reasons.
User consent matters. For ten years I've been asked a single question by the Chrome browser: ''Do you want to log in with your Google account?'' And for ten years I've said no thanks. Chrome still asks me that question '-- it's just that now it doesn't honor my decision.
The Chrome developers want me to believe that this is fine, since (phew!) I'm still protected by one additional consent guardrail. The problem here is obvious:
If you didn't respect my lack of consent on the biggest user-facing privacy option in Chrome (and didn't even notify me that you had stopped respecting it!) why should I trust any other consent option you give me? What stops you from changing your mind on that option in a few months, when we've all stopped paying attention?
The fact of the matter is that I'd never even heard of Chrome's ''sync'' option '-- for the simple reason that up until September 2018, I had never logged into Chrome. Now I'm forced to learn these new terms, and hope that the Chrome team keeps promises to keep all of my data local as the barriers between ''signed in'' and ''not signed in'' are gradually eroded away.
The Chrome sync UI is a dark pattern. Now that I'm forced to log into Chrome, I'm faced with a brand new menu I've never seen before. It looks like this:
Does that big blue button indicate that I'm already synchronizing my data to Google? That's scary! Wait, maybe it's an invitation to synchronize! If so, what happens to my data if I click it by accident? (I won't give it the answer away, you should go find out. Just make sure you don't accidentally upload all your data in the process. It can happen quickly.)
In short, Google has transformed the question of consenting to data upload from something affirmative that I actually had to put effort into '-- entering my Google credentials and signing into Chrome '-- into something I can now do with a single accidental click. This is a dark pattern. Whether intentional or not, it has the effect of making it easy for people to activate sync without knowing it, or to think they're already syncing and thus there's no additional cost to increasing Google's access to their data.
Don't take my word for it. It even gives (former) Google people the creeps.
Big brother doesn't need to actually watch you. We tell things to our web browsers that we wouldn't tell our best friends. We do this with some vague understanding that yes, the Internet spies on us. But we also believe that this spying is weak and probabilistic. It's not like someone's standing over our shoulder checking our driver's license with each click.
What happens if you take that belief away? There are numerous studies indicating that even the perception of surveillance can significantly greatly magnify the degree of self-censorship users force on themselves. Will user feel comfortable browsing for information on sensitive mental health conditions '-- if their real name and picture are always loaded into the corner of their browser? The Chrome development team says ''yes''. I think they're wrong.
For all we know, the new approach has privacy implications even if sync is off. The Chrome developers claim that with ''sync'' off, a Chrome has no privacy implications. This might be true. But when pressed on the actual details, nobody seems quite sure.
For example, if I have my browser logged out, then I log in and turn on ''sync'', does all my past (logged-out) data get pushed to Google? What happens if I'm forced to be logged in, and then subsequently turn on ''sync''? Nobody can quite tell me if the data uploaded in these conditions is the same. These differences could really matter.
The changes make hash of the Chrome privacy policyThe Chrome privacy policy is a remarkably simple document. Unlike most privacy policies, it was clearly written as a promise to Chrome's users '-- rather than as the usual lawyer CYA. Functionally, it describes two browsing modes: ''Basic browser mode'' and ''signed-in mode''. These modes have very different properties. Read for yourself:
In ''basic browser mode'', your data is stored locally. In ''signed-in'' mode, your data gets shipped to Google's servers. This is easy to understand. If you want privacy, don't sign in. But what happens if your browser decides to switch you from one mode to the other, all on its own?
Technically, the privacy policy is still accurate. If you're in basic browsing mode, your data is still stored locally. The problem is that you no longer get to decide which mode you're in. This makes a mockery out of whatever intentions the original drafters had. Maybe Google will update the document to reflect the new ''sync'' distinction that the Chrome developers have shared with me. We'll see.
Update: After I tweeted about my concerns, I received a DM on Sunday from two different Chrome developers, each telling me the good news: Google is updating their privacy policy to reflect the new operation of Chrome. I think that's, um, good news. But I also can't help but note that updating a privacy policy on a weekend is an awful lot of trouble to go to for a change that'... apparently doesn't even solve a problem for signed-out users.
Trust is not a renewable resourceFor a company that sustains itself by collecting massive amounts of user data, Google has managed to avoid the negative privacy connotations we associate with, say, Facebook. This isn't because Google collects less data, it's just that Google has consistently been more circumspect and responsible with it.
Where Facebook will routinely change privacy settings and apologize later, Google has upheld clear privacy policies that it doesn't routinely change. Sure, when it collects, it collects gobs of data, but in the cases where Google explicitly makes user security and privacy promises '-- it tends to keep them. This seems to be changing.
Google's reputation is hard-earned, and it can be easily lost. Changes like this burn a lot of trust with users. If the change is solving an absolutely critical problem for users , then maybe a loss of trust is worth it. I wish Google could convince me that was the case.
ConclusionThis post has gone on more than long enough, but before I finish I want to address two common counterarguments I've heard from people I generally respect in this area.
One argument is that Google already spies on you via cookies and its pervasive advertising network and partnerships, so what's the big deal if they force your browser into a logged-in state? One individual I respect described the Chrome change as ''making you wear two name tags instead of one''. I think this objection is silly both on moral grounds '-- just because you're violating my privacy doesn't make it ok to add a massive new violation '-- but also because it's objectively silly. Google has spent millions of dollars adding additional tracking features to both Chrome and Android. They aren't doing this for fun; they're doing this because it clearly produces data they want.
The other counterargument (if you want to call it that) goes like this: I'm a n00b for using Google products at all, and of course they were always going to do this. The extreme version holds that I ought to be using lynx+Tor and DJB's custom search engine, and if I'm not I pretty much deserve what's coming to me.
I reject this argument. I think It's entirely possible for a company like Google to make good, usable open source software that doesn't massively violate user privacy. For ten years I believe Google Chrome did just this.
Why they've decided to change, I don't know. It makes me sad.
War on Weed
Dupont and Hearst
Hi Adam,
I am listening to Sunday’s show & just heard the part
about the originals of marijuana legislation in the US. When I was an undergrad
at University of Delaware on the late 80s I took an excellent class called “The
American Drug Scene” taught by a former DEA agent who wrote the book we used in
the course. He said that in addition to Hearst & the push for paper, DuPont
was also behind the push to criminalize because they had developed nylon and
wanted to get the contract to provide parachutes to the military (which were
then made of hemp). I’m sure it was a combo of both.
The more you know!
Linda Soffer
Philadelphia, PA
Space Force
Why can't Elon Musk do what NASA did 50 years ago?
Chiner$
Trump accuses China of meddling in midterms, citing Iowa newspaper ad | US news | The Guardian
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:19
Donald Trump has accused China of seeking to interfere in US congressional elections in November, using his chairmanship of the UN security council to spring a surprise on his fellow world leaders.
Asked for proof, the president later cited a Chinese-funded newspaper advertisement in Iowa, a battleground state in the congressional campaign, that the Chinese government had paid for, lobbying against his trade policies.
Administration officials '' who also appeared to have been taken unawares by the allegation '' were able to give few other supporting details, and pointed instead to repressive actions by the Chinese government to suppress domestic dissent. The surprise claim created a short-lived storm, temporarily diverting attention from Wednesday's security council session, which underlined Trump's isolation at the UN over his Iran policies.
Sign up for the US morning briefingAt the start of Wednesday's meeting '' whose ostensible purpose was to discuss the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction '' Trump said: ''China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election.''
The US president did not mention Russia, which US intelligence agencies say interfered in Trump's favour during the 2016 presidential elections '' and see as the prime outside threat to the 2018 midterm vote in November.
Trump has long rejected that conclusion, and instead portrayed himself as a victim of election meddling, this time from Beijing.
''They don't want me or us to win because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade,'' Trump said. ''We don't want them to interfere in our upcoming election.''
The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, rejected what he described as ''unwarranted accusations'' against Beijing.
''China has all along followed the principle of non-interference,'' Wang said. ''We did not and will not interfere in any country's domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China.''
China's state-controlled media was more direct, saying if the country had been successful in influencing elections, the US would not have slapped billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese goods.
''If their presidential seat can be determined by outside forces, then other countries wouldn't have to deal with US suppression or sanctions,'' said an editorial in the Global Times, a tabloid affiliated with the Communist party mouthpiece People's Daily. ''Judging from the recent hardline reactions toward China, it is unlikely that congressional leaders and the president have been turned into puppets by international hackers or businessmen.''''It would be best if Trump could assert a level of caution when speaking at UN headquarters,'' the paper added. ''Fabricated stories and slogans designed to trick American voters will not have the same effect with UN members.''
Asked for evidence at a press conference on Wednesday evening, Trump said: ''We have evidence. It will come out.''
Pressed further by journalists, Trump pointed to a four-page insert in the Des Moines Register, paid for openly by the state-run China Daily, which argued Trump's tariff-based trade policies would hurt Iowan soybean farmers, making it harder for them to export to China.
A commentary in the special section said the farmers were suffering because of the ''the fruit of a president's folly''.
''They have ads that are like editorials,'' Trump said.
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)China is actually placing propaganda ads in the Des Moines Register and other papers, made to look like news. That's because we are beating them on Trade, opening markets, and the farmers will make a fortune when this is over! pic.twitter.com/ppdvTX7oz1
September 26, 2018Iowa is a key battleground in the struggle for control of Congress.
During a press briefing, a US official also spoke about restrictions on the press and on free speech in China, but did not explain how those issues were linked to interference in elections.
Asked at the press conference in New York how Xi could remain his friend given the hike in tensions, Trump indicated that he preferred to be respected than liked. ''He may not be a friend of mine any more but I think he probably respects me,'' said the president, who said the US economy was easily weathering the impact of the trade dispute.
The lack of details in the hastily arranged briefings raised questions of whether Trump had once more taken his own advisers by surprise, at a time when the president's campaign is under investigation for possible collusion with the Kremlin in the 2016 presidential vote.
Trump has made similar allegations in the past: in September he tweeted that China was ''actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me''.
That tweet came a day after the US president intensified his trade war with Beijing by imposing new tariffs of $200bn on Chinese goods arriving in the US.
The unexpected accusation against China was an aside in Trump's opening statement to the security council. Most of it was a litany of allegations about Iran, which his administration has been seeking to isolate since Trump pulled the US out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, in which Iran accepted strict curbs on its nuclear programme.
However, almost every one of the other 14 countries represented on the council spoke up in support of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action (JCPOA), including close US allies, emphasising US isolation on the issue.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said the JCPOA was ''imperfect but a decisive step'' towards ensuring Iran did not acquire nuclear weapons. To prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Macron said, the international community had to have ''a long-term strategy, not just sanctions and containment''.
Theresa May congratulated Trump for his diplomacy with Kim Jong-un aimed ultimately at dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons, but she pointedly added that ''non-proliferation also required multilateral leadership''. The British prime minister said that the JCPOA was an ''important step forward'' adding that the UK was committed to preserving the agreement as long as Iran continued to abide by the agreement.
Russia and its foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, also found themselves embattled on the council. Almost every other leader around the its C-shaped table had strong criticism for Russia for its role in shielding the Assad regime in Damascus from concerted UN investigation and action for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and for the nerve agent attack in the UK aimed at a former Russian spy in Salisbury.
Lavrov rejected the criticism, calling the evidence of Syrian chemical weapon use ''unfounded allegations'' and claiming that the UK had something to hide in the Salisbury investigation.
Dock-less Mobility
Electric scooter ER visits jump 160% at Utah hospital, spiking across country
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:31
Written by Megan Knowles | September 24, 2018 | Print | EmailSalt Lake City-based University of Utah Health saw a 161 percent increase in emergency room visits involving scooters this year after comparing its statistics with the same three-month period in 2017, The Washington Post reports.
ER physicians treated eight patients injured by scooters between June and September 2017. Most of these injuries likely resulted from patients' personal devices rather than the electric fleet vehicles owned by Bird, Lime and other companies, according to the Post.
During the same period this year, that number rose to 21, University of Utah Health emergency medicine physician Troy Madsen, MD, told the Post.
"Most of the patients with these injuries specifically reported that they were riding an e-scooter or a rental scooter," Dr. Madsen said, adding that patients ranged in age from 20 to 50 years old and were often injured attempting to avoid falling. "Interestingly, more than 80 percent of the injuries this year happened between Aug. 15 and Sept. 15, which would correspond with the increasing popularity and availability of the e-scooters."
The hospital said about half of the injuries this year were fractures and dislocations of ankles, wrists, elbows and shoulders. It also saw several sprains, lacerations and head injuries. Several patients told physicians they were intoxicated when they were injured and were not wearing helmets.
Emergency physicians in a dozen cities told the Post they are seeing an uptick in scooter accidents. Physicians in seven cities said they are regularly seeing "severe" injuries.
More articles on EDs:4 key ways hospitals brace for treating mass shooting victimsRural North Carolina hospital uses Walmart clinic to ease pressure on EDMaine hospitals turned mental health patients away from ER, state finds
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Agenda 2030
Humans Are Causing Earth To Wobble More As It Spins, NASA Finds
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:25
Screenshot from NASA's polar motion simulation, indicating various contributing factors in Earth's wobble.NASA
An in-depth study conducted by NASA found that humans are responsible for the increasing wobble detected as Earth spins on its axis.
When you think of Earth you may think of an exact sphere, but Earth is actually an oblate spheroid, pockmarked with mountains and deep ocean trenches. These all combine to unevenly distribute weight across Earth's surface. This uneven distribution of weight on Earth's surface is one reason why Earth wobbles on its axis as it spins.
Recent research by NASA found that the wobble of Earth as it spins is broken up into three primary factors: glacial rebound, melting of ice, and mantle convection. Previously, scientists believed glacial rebound to be the primary factor in causing Earth to wobble. However, NASA believes three factors are equally responsible for about a third of Earth's wobble. Let's cover the three factors and what they mean. But first, you may find it interesting to visit NASA's interactive polar motion simulation.
The first factor is glacial rebound or isostatic rebound, what scientists previously thought was the primary contributor to Earth's wobble. Imagine Earth as a very large balance ball similar to the one in the photo below. As you can see, the lady on the balance ball is compressing the ball where she is in contact with the ball, causing a dent. To compensate for this, the sides of the ball just outside of the lady's outline bulges outward. This is an example of when large glaciers cover land masses such as North America. During the last ice age, about 26.5 thousand years ago, large expanses of land were covered in heavy glaciers.
This depressed land underneath the glaciers and causes land to bulge upward around the perimeter of the glaciers. However, as the glaciers melted, the land, just like the ball would, regain its original shape. This process is called glacial rebound, as Earth regains its original shape. The process is quite slow, meaning Earth is still rebounding from the last ice age. This is what scientists previously thought accounted for the entire wobble of Earth.
Isostatic rebound is similar to how a balance ball reacts to someone pushing on it.U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran
Now, we know that there are two other factors that influence Earth's wobble. Melting of ice, particularly on Greenland was found by NASA to account for one-third of Earth's wobble. This surprising finding directly links human actions with altering Earth's wobble. As humans continue to artificially warm the planet through releasing greenhouse gases, ice on land continues to melt at unprecedented rates. NASA estimates that 7,500 gigatons of Greenland's ice have melted into the ocean in the 20th century. This equals the weight of 20 million Empire State Buildings. The transfer of weight from Greenland to redistributed across the globe has caused Earth to wobble more than it would have otherwise.
The last factor, accounting for a third of Earth's wobble is mantle convection. This is an ongoing process in Earth's interior where molten rock is heated, rises in the mantle, cools off and falls back closer to Earth's core. Convection within the mantle is the driving mechanism of plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain ranges, and deep sea trenches.
Mantle ConvectionWikiCommons
In total, NASA found that Earth's spin axis has drifted about 10 meters in the 20th century alone. As ice continues to melt from continental masses such as Greenland, we will continue to see an increased wobble as Earth spins. Thankfully, the wobble is not large enough to impact ecosystems or our daily life. While it can impact navigation, modern technology can accurately account for changes in Earth's wobble.
What is surprising is how much humans are changing the fundamental nature of Earth and how it operates. Continuing to monitor Earth's wobble and its changes can act as a barometer for how much ice has melted here on Earth and put human's role on Earth into an astronomical perspective.
Cheaper Battery Is Unveiled as a Step to a Carbon-Free Grid - The New York Times
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:24
Image A rechargeable zinc-air battery made by Patrick Soon-Shiong's company, NantEnergy. He says such batteries can store power at far less than the cost of lithium-ion counterparts. Credit Credit Alex Welsh for The New York Times Lithium-ion batteries have become essential for powering electric cars and storing energy generated by solar panels and wind turbines. But their drawbacks are also by now familiar: They use scarce minerals, are vulnerable to fires and explosions, and are pricey.
A plentiful, safe and more affordable alternative would be worth a lot.
On Wednesday, an energy company headed by the California billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong announced that it had developed a rechargeable battery operating on zinc and air that can store power at far less than the cost of lithium-ion batteries.
Tests of the zinc energy-storage systems have helped power villages in Africa and Asia as well as cellphone towers in the United States for the last six years, without any backup from utilities or the electric grid, Dr. Soon-Shiong said.
''It could change and create completely new economies using purely the power of the sun, wind and air,'' Dr. Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and a biotechnology entrepreneur, said in an interview in Los Angeles before the announcement.
[Read more: Sizing up zinc air batteries on cost, environmental safety and potential.]
Dr. Soon-Shiong and his company, NantEnergy, made the announcement in conjunction with the One Planet Summit in New York, an event meant to further the goals of the Paris climate accords. He developed the technology with support from the World Bank.
The battery units, in conjunction with solar arrays, can be combined to create a microgrid system powering a village or a larger area, Dr. Soon-Shiong said. They have been deployed to support 110 villages in nine countries in Asia and Africa '-- including places that otherwise relied on generators or even lacked electricity, he said.
Image Dr. Soon-Shiong amassed a fortune as a biotechnology entrepreneur. His energy company says it is the first to commercialize the use of zinc air batteries. Credit Alex Welsh for The New York Times The International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank fostering private-sector projects in developing countries, was an early investor in NantEnergy, and an agency representative sits on the company's board.
The United States Department of Energy made development grants to NantEnergy (formerly known as Fluidic Energy) totaling $5 million, Dr. Soon-Shiong said.
NantEnergy, based in Phoenix and in El Segundo, Calif., says it expects to expand the use of its product in telecommunications towers and eventually extend it to home energy storage, beginning in California and New York. Beyond that, it anticipates use in electric cars, buses, trains and scooters.
Dr. Soon-Shiong, who recently acquired The Los Angeles Times and is a part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, made a fortune from the development of drugs to fight diabetes and breast cancer and the sale of pharmaceutical companies he had created.
His energy company says it is the first to commercialize the use of zinc air batteries and has more than 100 related patents. It is taking orders for delivery next year and sees the potential for a $50 billion market.
Dr. Soon-Shiong said the cost of his zinc air battery had dropped steadily since development began. NantEnergy says the technology costs less than $100 per kilowatt-hour, a figure that some in the energy industry have cited as low enough to transform the electric grid into a round-the-clock carbon-free system.
The prevailing cost of lithium-ion technology varies, depending on the scale and application. Yogi Goswami, distinguished university professor and director of the Clean Energy Center at the University of South Florida, estimated that it is most likely $300 to $400 a kilowatt-hour.
''This is a game changer,'' Dr. Goswami, who was not involved in the effort, said of the advances claimed by NantEnergy. ''You have to have storage.''
Dr. Goswami said he warned in congressional testimony a quarter-century ago that storage advances would be needed as the use of solar and wind power grew. That imperative has been somewhat overshadowed as the fracking boom made natural gas plentiful.
''Until recently it didn't make any sense to worry about storage because we had cheap gas,'' said Mark Cooper, senior research fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at the Vermont Law School.
But energy storage is increasingly needed to manage the ebb and flow of solar and wind energy that sometimes forces places like California to pay other states to take surplus power. And that need is driving innovation and decreasing cost.
''Obviously it comes at a point where everyone is already looking for storage,'' Mr. Cooper said. ''Capitalism isn't going to deal with a problem where there isn't scarcity. In capitalism what we get is relentless reductions in cost.''
As part of the climate event on Wednesday in New York, the World Bank announced a $1 billion program to promote deployment of battery storage in the developing world, a move that it said could unleash another $4 billion in investments.
In addition to their deployment in Asia and Africa, NantEnergy's batteries have been used to power more than 1,000 communications towers in the United States, Latin America and Southeast Asia. They include a Duke Energy location in North Carolina that withstood the effects of Hurricane Florence recently and Hurricane Irma last year.
Image The storage unit consists of plastic components and shell casing, a circuit board and zinc oxide. Credit Alex Welsh for The New York Times Sherif Abdelrazek, a senior engineer at Duke Energy, said that because the zinc air battery does not pose fire hazards as lithium-ion batteries can, it does not need external cooling systems to prevent overheating.
The system's success means the Duke tower no longer needs to be connected to the electric grid, he said. As a result, 13 acres of land in the Great Smoky Mountains that was used for power lines is being turned over to the National Park Service.
NantEnergy's announcement that it had reached the $100-per-kilowatt-hour threshold made the device even more attractive, Mr. Abdelrazek said.
The product design is simple: plastic components and shell casing, a circuit board and zinc oxide, all in a package the size of a briefcase.
In charging the batteries, electricity from solar installations is stored by converting zinc oxide to zinc and oxygen. In the discharge process, the system produces energy by oxidizing the zinc with air.
The NantEnergy battery can provide power for up to 72 hours on a single charge, meaning it could have lasted throughout the period of cloud cover and stormy weather from Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas.
Dan Reicher, an assistant secretary of energy in the Clinton administration, said successful development of a rechargeable zinc air battery could be a milestone in energy storage. He said the challenge had been to make such batteries reliable for continuous use. ''That's an attractive characteristic if it's true,'' he said.
Image NantEnergy says it expects to expand the use of its product in telecommunications towers and eventually apply it to home energy storage. Credit Alex Welsh for The New York Times But he cautioned that a battery's cost per kilowatt-hour depended on the application and scale. And he said the company's technology would have to live up to scrutiny. ''People do make claims and offer what they feel like is a legitimate set of data,'' he said. ''I'm always elated to hear progress in storage, but you have to be careful.''
Batteries are not the only form of energy storage that the power industry is pursuing. Other technologies include compressed air in caves and the long-used pumped hydroelectric plant storage. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is proposing to turn Hoover Dam into a type of giant battery to manage excess solar and wind electricity at a cost of $3 billion.
Lyndon Rive, a co-founder of SolarCity '-- now a part of his cousin Elon Musk's company, Tesla '-- said recently that solar and storage innovations were likely to transform the electricity market. ''Over all, the trajectory is for solar to be the No. 1 source,'' said Mr. Rive, who left Tesla after the two companies merged two years ago.
Dr. Soon-Shiong said he knew Mr. Musk '-- a fellow South African native '-- and considered him a visionary for his accomplishments in electric vehicles and energy storage. ''We both are trying to make the world a better place,'' Dr. Soon-Shiong said.
Tesla has based its businesses on lithium-ion technology, and Mr. Musk has told shareholders that the company may get the cost of lithium-ion cells down to $100 a kilowatt-hour this year.
NantEnergy made its announcement weeks after California mandated 100 percent carbon-free electricity in the state by 2045. Legislators have also approved a bill providing about $1 billion in subsidies for residential energy storage.
''California is obviously in need of that kind of breakthrough to meet our goals,'' said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association, a trade group. ''I cannot claim to be in absolute certainty that this is everything they say it is, but it's exciting. It's this kind of breakthrough that we expect from our innovators.''
Correction:An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the status of a California move to provide subsidies for energy storage. Such a bill has been approved by legislators; it has not been signed into law.
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New Battery May Hold Promise To Create a Carbon-Free Grid
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SJWBLMLGBBTQQIAAPK
Linux developers threaten to pull ''kill switch'' '' LULZ
Mon, 24 Sep 2018 13:08
Published September 21, 2018
Update (September 24): new response from Richard M. Stallman, and Eric S. Raymond (ESR) says the license revocation ''threat has teeth.''
Linux powers the internet, the Android in your pocket, and perhaps even some of your household appliances. A controversy over politics is now seeing some of its developers threatening to withdraw the license to all of their code, potentially destroying or making the whole Linux kernel unusable for a very long time.
An open letter posted to the Linux Kernel Mailing List explains:
Fired DOJ employee, who was a socialist anti-Trump activist, sets up GoFundMe to sue administration Conservative News Today
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:42
Joe Simonson, DCNF
YouTube screengrab-Allison Hrabar
A Department of Justice employee who helped orchestrate a protest against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has been fired and is now asking supporters to donate money for her living expenses and legal fees for a potential lawsuit.
Allison Hrabar's background was first reported by The Daily Caller News Foundation following an incident where she and other activists chased Nielsen out of a restaurant in June. After the incident, Hrabar told a Washington Examiner reporter that she worked for the federal government and was protected by the First Amendment.
''We aren't the only ones who can do this. Anyone who sees Kirstjen Nielsen at dinner, anyone who sees anyone who works at DHS and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] at dinner can confront them like this, and that's what we hope this will inspire people to do,'' Hrabar said at the time.
The Justice Department did not renew Hrabar's contract Monday following evidence '-- some of which was discovered by TheDCNF '-- that she was organizing protests for the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America during her time at work as a paralegal for the DOJ.
Shortly after, Hrabar set up a GoFundMe page Tuesday asking for money and describing the details of her termination.
''I was fired in retaliation for confronting DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at dinner in June. I told Nielsen about what I had seen in a Nogales, AZ ICE facility in 2014: children without parents. Children given inedible food. Children kept in cages,'' Hrabar's page reads.
''When I got to work on September 24, I was met at the door by security and forced to pack up my office. I was told, again, that this was merely a non-renewal of my term,'' she added. ''I don't regret standing up for immigrants unable to advocate for themselves. My only concern is that the Assistant Attorney General's decision to force me out of a job has left me without insurance to cover my high medical costs, and without an income to cover the legal fees needed to fight back.''
Hrabar is currently asking for $7,000, citing a need for insurance ''to cover my high medical costs'' and ''to cover the legal fees needed to fight back.'' She has raised over $6,000 so far.
Excess funds will be donated to a ''migrant justice legal fund'' ran by a DSA chapter, according to Hrabar.
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Shut Up Slave!
EU Justice Commissioner Says Media Must Be Regulated to Prevent 'Hate' | Trending
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:35
The shape of things to come, both in Europe and in the United States:
Racial abuse, discrimination and the ''bad version of nationalism'' that promotes exclusion and hatred are on the rise, and the media may need to be regulated to help curtail the problem, European Justice Commissioner Věra Jourov warned today.A ''dangerous'' version of nationalism is ''not only visible in the rising popularity of the extreme parties'' but is also evident in the political mainstream, which ''accept[s] some part of this rhetoric of division,'' the commissioner said in a speech in Vienna, according to pre-released notes obtained by Brussels Playbook.
Jourov called on politicians and the press to take action.
And I think we all know exactly what she means by "action." By the way, her full title is European commissioner for justice, consumers, and gender equality, if you can imagine such a thing.
In other words, if you're for little or no "immigration," that's now called "exclusion." If you find some cultures (such as your own) worthier than others, that's "hatred." If you put love of country over the EU, that's "dangerous nationalism." To demonstrate just how far the social-justice Left despises adherents of free speech (which must perforce include "hate" speech), take a gander at this justification for consumer/gender equality fascism. Count the buzzwords:
''Media can build the culture of dialogue or sow divisions, spread disinformation and encourage exclusion,'' the commissioner said. ''The Brexit debate is the best example of that.'' Politicians should ''show responsibility'' and '' restraint,'' and must ''realize that their words become justification for some people to act on their urges and their fears.''The Czech politician pointed to far-right protests in Chemnitz, the ''anti-Soros campaign in Hungary or growing anti-Muslim or anti-Roma rhetoric'' as examples of when ''exclusion, discrimination and lack of respect for minorities have spilled over from the margins to the center and don't meet enough resistance from the media, politicians or opinion leaders.''
Allow me translate from the original Czech: leaders of the EU, like Democrats in America, don't want to see one word or image in the press that contradicts their Leftist social opinions, and will soon enough react with the full force of the state to see that they don't.
The media is ''instrumental in holding politicians to account and in defining the limits of what is ' unacceptable' in a society,'' Jourov argued, before highlighting the front page of a British tabloid that labeled EU leaders '' dirty rats.''She also called for potential new regulation for the media, saying she would ''advocate for a European approach to media based on quality and smart regulation, if needed,'' adding that ''we need to keep up our support for public broadcasters and independent media more broadly than just following the laws of markets.''
https://pjmedia.com/trending/eu-justice-commissioner-says-media-must-be-regulated-to-prevent-hate/
Ebola
China's top political advisor meets DR Congo guest - Global Times
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:11
Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/9/27 14:24:57
China's top political advisor Wang Yang on Wednesday called on China and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to implement consensus of the two heads of state and achievements of the FOCAC Beijing Summit for a closer bilateral relationship.
Wang, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks during a meeting with Mokolo Wa Mpombo, DRC's first deputy speaker of the Senate.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit opened a new chapter of China-Africa relations, and the eight initiatives put forward by President Xi Jinping will guide the comprehensive development of China-African cooperation, and lend fresh impetus to the development of China-DRC relations, Wang said.
Wang thanked Mokolo for the long-term contributions he has made to the friendly cause between the two countries and said the CPPCC National Committee stands ready to work with the Senate of the DRC to facilitate the comprehensive development of bilateral friendship for the benefit of the two peoples.
Mokolo highly commended the friendly bilateral relations based on mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. He said the DRC is committed to promoting all-around exchanges and cooperation with China in various fields and cementing the continuous development of friendship between the two countries.
Blood Batteries - Cobalt And The Congo
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:12
Cobalt is a grey metal that is essential to our new technological world. It is a preferred component in lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, cell phones, and electric vehicles. These exploding applications are causing the use of Co to skyrocket.Alchemist-hp
Vivienne Walt and Sebastian Meyer wrote a piercing analysis in Fortune on the conditions surrounding Co supply from the world's largest supplier of the metal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.
The reason this is so important is that many of the people who support the new energy technological revolution of non-fossil fuels, renewables and new nuclear SMRs, electric vehicles, conservation and efficiency, also care about the social issues that many of these technologies incorporate in their wake - corruption, environmental pollution, extreme poverty and child labor.
And the supply of Co is the perfect intersection of these two issues.
With support from the Pulitzer Center, Walt and Meyer focused on the lives of the poor laborers in this former Belgian colony, especially children, and how their exploitation is making our lives easier.
Especially one child named Lukasa who gets up at 5 AM to work a 12-hour day for less than $9, hacking at ore by hand and carrying it on his back to a trading post an hour trek from the mine, before starting his two-hour walk back home.
It is essential that Walt's work, and others like her, be reported throughout the developed world. The tech revolution is supposed to make all of our lives better, not just the lucky few.
Walt describes how the multibillion-dollar industry, that has made some people outside Africa really really rich, is not known to workers like Lukasa. He just sells his haul to Chinese traders who have seen their profits increase 400% over the last two years.
Unfortunately, the Democratic Republic of Congo is pervaded by conflict, poverty and corruption. The country's economy is completely dependent on mining. Many poor families are completely dependent on their children working the mines. That $9/day is hard for a child to reject.
Competing jobs pay even less, and there are few of those.
Our tech revolution needs new battery technologies and various other physicochemical applications whose special characteristics require relatively rare metals like lithium (Li) and cobalt (Co) compared to iron, copper and aluminum. Cobalt provides a stability and high energy density that allows batteries to operate safely and for longer periods.
In the brave new energy world of the not-so-distant future, battery storage is thought to make possible boundless clean energy and convenient technologies like fully electric vehicles and multiple hand-held devices, even though batteries are not particularly cost-effective relative to larger storage methods such as pumped hydro or compressed air.
But for small devices, and even automobiles, it is essential.
At present, the world's energy-storage capacity is overwhelmingly dominated by pumped hydro, over 96%, followed distantly by electro-chemical (including batteries) at 1.5%, thermal also at 1.5% and electro-mechanical at only 0.8%. The pressure for new battery technologies is enormous.
So, you care about carbon emissions, but you also care about global poverty and the desertification of large areas that it causes. Same with working conditions. Child miners are not the image sought after by people at the coffee shop surfing the internet for free-range eggs on their iPhones.
Unfortunately, the demand for Co is increasing like a bacteria culture in a petri dish, and poor children are its food.
Cobalt, a bluish-gray metal found in crustal rocks, has many uses in modern society. Cobalt is mined all over the world, but over half of the global Co supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Besides batteries, the metal is used in magnetic steels, high-speed cutting tools, and in alloys used in jet turbines and gas turbine generators. For thousands of years Co was used as a pigment to get rich blue colors as well as violet and green, and is used in modern dyes and in electroplating because of its appearance, hardness, and resistance to corrosion. Co is also made radioactive for use in medicine, particularly to treat cancer and as a biological tracer.
But batteries are the major sink for the metal. Last year batteries scarfed up over half of the Co produced, and that share will only increase in the coming years.
According to Walt, Congolese officials are not the only ones at fault. Western tech giants like Tesla, Apple, GM, Samsung and BMW consciously ignored the problems surrounding child labor and corruption because consumers didn't seem to care and just wanted the latest devices as fast as possible. Co is a preferred component in lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, cell phones, and electric vehicles, and these exploding applications are causing the use of Co to skyrocket.
In 2016, Amnesty International issued a blistering report naming more than two dozen electronics and automotive companies that had failed to ensure their cobalt supply chains didn't include child labor at these types of mines.
Just like blood diamonds and the garment industry's child sweatshops, it takes time and the shining of light on these practices before the Western public starts to care. Charles Dickens succeeded 200 years ago in England with coal, but poverty keeps it alive everywhere there's poor and something worth exploiting.
The United Nations estimates that 250 million children, ages 5 to 14, work in developing countries - 61% in Asia, 32% in Africa and 7% in Latin America. Many of these children are forced to work. They are denied an education and a normal childhood.
But that may be changing. Reporting from Walt and others have forced companies to view this as a threat to their brand's value. Tyler Gillard, senior legal adviser to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, helped draft guidelines for corporations on mineral supply chains. He recently posed the question to Fortune, ''Are consumers going to demand child-labor-free, corruption-free electric vehicles? I think it is coming.''
Walt reports that China's Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals & Chemicals Importers & Exporters launched the Responsible Cobalt Initiative last year, to bring companies together, including Apple, Samsung, HP and Sony, that agree to follow the OECD's rules to eliminate child labor from their supply chains. Apple has begun a program to switch children from mining to new moneymaking skills. Today, about 100 teenagers are being taught sewing, cell phone repair, hairdressing, carpentry, catering, and other skills in villages around Kolwezi.
For now, these efforts are small, but hopefully they will encourage a ground-swell in humane mining practices.
With Co revenue projected to increase five-fold in the next several years, the industry can certainly afford it.
JEDI
Back to Project Maven? Google hires head of major defense task force as chief of cloud AI '-- RT US News
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:40
The US tech giant risks attracting new controversy by recruiting Andrew Moore, three months after the company was embroiled in a scandal over its work for Pentagon's Project Maven.
Moore, who was last dean of the School of Computer Science at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, will become the chief of cloud computing AI at the California company, where he previously worked between 2006 and 2014, at the end of the year.
''I am bursting with excitement about this,'' said Moore in a statement published by Google. ''I have always deeply believed in the power of technology to improve the state of the world, so for me it's a big opportunity to help Google bring useful AI to all the other industry verticals."
READ MORE: Google to scrap controversial AI project with Pentagon after employees revolt '' reports
But what those ''industry verticals'' are likely to be, will engender some concern.
The UK-born, naturalized American's professional credentials are impeccable, but Moore's other recent high-profile appointment, in March, was to the co-chairmanship of the Task Force on Artificial Intelligence and National Security and Center for a New American Security (CNAS).
CNAS is one of the most powerful military-affiliated think tanks in Washington, relentlessly hawkish over Russia, and the task force aims to develop uses of AI to fend off foreign threats to the United States.
Read more
There is nothing illegal about Moore combining both jobs, but it is notable that the company received pushback from its employees and bad media publicity after it was revealed in March that it partnered up with the Pentagon to work on Project Maven. Its role was to deploy AI technologies to study footage obtained by US drones to improve their targeting technologies in the future. Leaked emails revealed that this was an area Google expected to grow more than tenfold in the coming years.
After the fallout, Google said that it would not renew its contract for Project Maven participation for next year. Its CEO Sundar Pichai personally authored new guidelines for the corporation, promising that Google would not involved itself in ''technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm'' or ''weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people.''
Incidentally, Moore's co-chair at the CNAS task force? Former deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work, the man who gave the order to start Project Maven.
Now, Moore's hiring doesn't automatically imply that Google is back in with Pentagon, and even if it is, the company is entitled to be. But if Google does plan to stick to its ''no deadly weapons'' policy, and Moore intends to stay in both posts, he should probably clarify that there is no cross-pollination or conflict of interest between his quasi-military and civilian jobs.
Subscribe to RT newsletter to get stories the mainstream media won't tell you.
Sweden
Swedish Parliament Votes to Oust Prime Minister Stefan L¶fven - WSJ
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:19
Updated Sept. 25, 2018 8:58 a.m. ETSTOCKHOLM'--Sweden's parliament voted to oust Prime Minister Stefan L¶fven in a vote of confidence Tuesday, deepening the nation's political uncertainty in the aftermath of an inconclusive election.
Of parliament's 349 members, 204 voted against Mr. L¶fven remaining in his position. He will lead a transitional government until a new one can be formed, but that process could take months.
The...
STOCKHOLM'--Sweden's parliament voted to oust Prime Minister Stefan L¶fven in a vote of confidence Tuesday, deepening the nation's political uncertainty in the aftermath of an inconclusive election.
Of parliament's 349 members, 204 voted against Mr. L¶fven remaining in his position. He will lead a transitional government until a new one can be formed, but that process could take months.
The vote was a direct consequence of the Sept. 9 election, in which no single party secured a clear majority and Mr. L¶fven's Social Democrats lost support amid a surge in popularity for the nationalist Sweden Democrats.
That rise is the latest example of how the growing prominence of anti-immigration groups has shaken up the region's political order in recent years. Parties long considered on the political fringes have joined the government in Austria, toppled the old establishment in Italy, and become the largest opposition force in Germany.
Europe's political landscape is now more fractured than ever, with many countries having struggled to form stable governments able to make bold policy choices.
Sweden'--an affluent and politically stable nation, known for its consensual politics and generous welfare state'--is now entering uncharted territory.
The Sweden Democrats' swell in support'--securing 62 seats in the election'--means it will play a pivotal role in the nation's political outlook, but all of the other parties have refused to collaborate with it.
Unless an unlikely grand coalition of the left and right is forged, support from the Sweden Democrats would be needed to form a government.
The Center Party and Liberals, two of the four parties that comprise the center-right Alliance, have said they would quit the group if the Moderates and Christian Democrats soften their stances and negotiate a deal with the Sweden Democrats to garner their support.
Following Tuesday's vote, newly elected parliamentary speaker Andreas Norl(C)n, a lawmaker from the Moderate Party, will explore options toward forming a new government. Initial talks are due to begin Thursday.
But that could take weeks or even months, said Torbj¶rn Isaksson, chief analyst at Nordea Markets.
''It is still open how the new government will look,'' he said. ''But with Norl(C)n as speaker the probability increases that the new PM will be Ulf Kristersson, the leader of the Moderates, as the speaker has a key role in the process electing a PM.''
Under Swedish rules, talks over forming a government can last for four rounds. Should the talks fail, a fresh election would be held.
But there is no time limit for when the speaker must propose a new prime minister so although an extra election can't be ruled out completely, it seems unlikely, Mr. Isaksson said.
'-- Bojan Pancevski contributed to this article.
Write to Dominic Chopping at dominic.chopping@wsj.com
Mid-Terms
W. Virginia's Decision to Allow Smartphone Voting for Midterms Raises Serious Security Concerns | Election
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:30
For the first time in our nation's history, voters in 24 counties in W. Virginia will be able to vote using their mobile phones. While some are hailing the decision because it will make voting easier for members of the military deployed overseas, experts are warning of possible security breaches.
"After researching previously available options, the Secretary's team identified that most electronic ballot delivery technology required access to a desktop computer, printer and scanner, all of which present significant barriers to overseas voters, especially those in combat zones or engaged in covert operations," the W. Virginia Secretary of State's office explained in a press release this week. The state is partnering with a Boston, Massachusetts-based company called Voatz, Inc.
"Voatz has developed a secure mobile voting application that allows voters to receive, vote, and return their ballots electronically," the press release claims. "The application also utilizes blockchain technology to store electronically submitted ballots until election night, and requires a heightened standard of identity verification for users than traditional absentee ballot processes. This project is unprecedented in United States history, being the first mobile voting application and first use of blockchain technology in a federal election."
https://pjmedia.com/election/w-virginia-announces-smartphone-voting-for-midterms-raising-serious-security-concerns/
Music Bizz
Congress Passes Bill Updating Music Copyright Protections for the Spotify Era - WSJ
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:46
Sept. 25, 2018 7:52 p.m. ETA bill overhauling music copyright law for the digital age won approval in the House of Representatives, the final hurdle before making its way to President Trump's desk.
The Music Modernization Act, or MMA, creates a new music-licensing system and updates copyright law to help songwriters get paid more when people listen to their work online. After passing unanimously in the Senate last week, the bill was renamed for Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who introduced the legislation and is himself a songwriter.
...
A bill overhauling music copyright law for the digital age won approval in the House of Representatives, the final hurdle before making its way to President Trump's desk.
The Music Modernization Act, or MMA, creates a new music-licensing system and updates copyright law to help songwriters get paid more when people listen to their work online. After passing unanimously in the Senate last week, the bill was renamed for Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who introduced the legislation and is himself a songwriter.
The central part of the bill calls for the creation of a body to administer royalties owed to songwriters by music-streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The legislation would streamline the complicated way those services get access to millions of songs and pay for the rights to carry them.
The entity charged with creating a comprehensive database of musical works and those who own the rights to them would be operated by music publishers and funded by music-streaming services. Those services would be granted all-inclusive licenses for downloads and on-demand streaming of songs listed in the database.
Another piece of the legislation would ensure performers of songs recorded before 1972 are paid when their music is played. Currently, so-called legacy artists aren't paid for use of their music by streaming services.
Write to Anne Steele at Anne.Steele@wsj.com
Clips
VIDEO - Ebola in the DRC: Death toll rises in second outbreak | DR Congo News | Al Jazeera
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:06
The number of deaths from a new Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to rise.
Since it was declared in the northern Kivu province 3 weeks ago, 55 people have died of the virus and 69 people are confirmed to be infected.
It is the tenth time Ebola has struck the DRC since 1976. It has had twice as many outbreaks as any other country.
Vaccines are providing new hope, with education filling in where medicine cannot.
Al Jazeera's Charlotte Bellis reports.
VIDEO - Ruth Smeeth MP - House of Commons Anti-Semitism Debate - 16 April 2018 - YouTube
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:57
VIDEO - Farrow: 'Senate Democrats Came Looking' for Second Kavanaugh Accuser - YouTube
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:07
VIDEO - Gillibrand Delivers Scathing Speech on Kavanaugh Allegations
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:18
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VIDEO - President Trump Calls Allegations Judge Kavanaugh False, Sep 26 2018 | C-SPAN.org
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:09
September 26, 2018 2018-09-26T20:34:09-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/9eb/20180926165858003_hd.jpg President Trump held a press conference following several meetings with world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City. He addressed a range of issues including the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, North Korea denuclearization, NAFTA negotiations, trade relations with China, Middle East peace talks and his planned meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.President Trump held a press conference following several meetings with world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City. He'... read more
President Trump held a press conference following several meetings with world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City. He addressed a range of issues including the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, North Korea denuclearization, NAFTA negotiations, trade relations with China, Middle East peace talks and his planned meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. close
";$('div#video-embed').html(cookieMsg);return;}});
*This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
Featured Clips from This Video 5:13 PM President Trump on Being Persuaded by Women Accusers President Trump is asked if he thinks the three women accusers are liars. President Trump says he can't say if they are'...
3 minutes62 views 5:03 PM President Trump on FBI Investigating Kavanaugh AllegationsDuring a press conference in New York City, President Trump is asked about whether the FBI should be investigating the'...
3 minutes297 views Related Video September 18, 2018 U.S.-Poland RelationsPresident Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife in the White House'...
September 26, 2018 Senator Casey on Sexual Assault Allegations Against Brett KavanaughSenator Bob Casey (D-PA) called for an FBI investigation into allegations against Brett Kavanaugh in light of ''evidence that's on the'...
September 20, 2018 Sexual Assault and Judge Brett Kavanaugh AllegationsSexual violence experts voiced their support for Professor Christine Blasey Ford after she publicly came forward accusing'...
September 17, 2018 National Council for the American Worker MeetingPresident Trump participated in a meeting with his National Council for the American Worker, a group charged with'...
User Created Clips from This Video View all clips from this video
VIDEO - Ahead of pivotal Senate hearing, witnesses surface to say Christine Ford may have mistaken them for Kavanaugh | Fox News
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 11:29
As an extraordinary series of uncorroborated, lurid last-minute allegations threatens to derail his confirmation to the Supreme Court, nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Ford, the California professor accusing him of sexually assaulting her more than three decades ago, are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday morning.
The proceedings may be upended by late-breaking developments: In a statement released Wednesday evening, Judiciary Committee Republicans revealed that on Monday, they conducted their "first interview with a man who believes he, not Judge Kavanaugh, had the encounter with Dr. Ford in 1982 that is the basis of his [sic] complaint." They conducted a second interview the next day.
On Wednesday, Republicans said in the statement, they received a "more in-depth written statement from the man interviewed twice previously who believes he, not Judge Kavanuagh, had the encounter in question with Dr. Ford." GOP investigators also spoke on the phone with another man making a similar claim.
Ford has previously said there is "zero chance" she would have confused Kavanaugh for anyone else.
In response, an aide to Democrats on the Judiciary Committee reportedly unloaded on Senate Republicans: "Republicans are flailing," the aide said, according to NBC News. "They are desperately trying to muddy the waters. ... Twelve hours before the hearing they suggest two anonymous men claimed to have assaulted her. Democrats were never informed of these assertions in interviews, in violation of Senate rules."
The aide, before again calling for an FBI probe into Ford's accusations, added, "This is shameful and the height of irresponsibility."
But Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, shot back on Twitter late Wednesday, writing, "Some might find it exceedingly difficult to imagine Judiciary Committee Democrats expressing this complaint with straight faces."
Ford first brought her allegations to the attention of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in July, but Feinstein didn't disclose the allegations to her Senate colleagues or federal authorities until days before a crucial Judiciary Committee vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation earlier this month. Republicans have accused Feinstein's office of compromising Ford's anonymity by sitting on the allegations until she could deploy them for maximum political gain.
The stakes for Kavanaugh could not be higher: Key swing-vote senators have said Thursday's hearing, which will begin at 10:00 a.m. ET, presents a pivotal opportunity to assess Ford's credibility and determine whether to advance Kavanaugh to the nation's highest court.
The hearing, which for days had been in doubt, will be a chance for the public to see Ford, in person, explain in detail what she claims happened at the Maryland house party in 1982 where Kavanaugh allegedly jumped on top of her and tried to muffle her screams -- and why she didn't tell anyone about the episode until 2012.
The proceedings will commence with opening statements from Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking committee member Feinstein. After taking an oath, Ford will deliver the prepared remarks she has already provided publicly, according to a schedule provided by the committee. Each senator on the committee will then be afforded a single five-minute round of questions, with the opportunity to ask questions alternating between Democrats and Republicans.
Republicans have retained Rachel Mitchell, an experienced sex-crimes prosecutor, to handle some of their questioning, saying it will help avoid an overtly political atmosphere. Grassley has hammered Democrats, including Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., for "grandstanding" during the confirmation hearings earlier this month.
WATCH: CORY BOOKER COMPARES HIMSELF TO GLADIATOR 'SPARTACUS,' CLAIMS HE'S RISKING EXPULSION BY RELEASING CONFIDENTIAL KAVANAUGH DOCS
Democrats have indicated they intend to ask their own questions. After Ford's testimony is completed, the process will repeat for Kavanaugh.
"It's bad -- it's doing damage to the Supreme Court."
- Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh
In her prepared remarks, which Ford's attorney's released in advance on Wednesday, Ford will tell senators that she "thought that Brett [Kavanaugh] was accidentally going to kill me," and "I believed he was going to rape me."
She will explain that she remembers "four boys" being at the party, including one "whose name I cannot recall." The people she did name -- Kavanaugh and his classmates Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth -- have denied under penalty of felony knowing anything about the alleged episode.
Ford will also describe one girl, "my friend Leland Ingham," as also in attendance. Ingham, in a previously released statement, has also denied knowing Kavanaugh or having information about the alleged assault.
POLYGRAPH REPORT REVEALS APPARENT INCONSISTENCIES IN FORD'S CLAIMS
Ford's letter to Feinstein in July, however, gave a different tally, saying that the gathering "included me and 4 others."
Additionally, in a handwritten statement she provided the former FBI agent who administered her polygraph exam in August, Ford wrote "there were 4 boys and a couple of girls" at the party -- again apparently contradicting her letter to Feinstein.
Republicans, through Mitchell, are expected to question Ford on the apparent discrepancies.
Ford is also expected to tell senators that she finally decided to disclose the alleged assault during a therapy session in 2012 because during a remodeling of her house that year, she insisted on installing a "second front door" -- leaving her husband and others wondering why.
Additionally, questions have surfaced concerning the credibility of some of Kavanaugh's other accusers, who will not be present Thursday because they have not responded to overtures from committee Republicans.
For example, Julie Swetnick, who emerged Wednesday to accuse Kavanaugh of participating in "gang rapes" and rape "trains" in the 1980s, had a restraining order filed against her by an ex-boyfriend, Politico reported.
KAVANAUGH FIGHTS BACK, TELLS INVESTIGATORS ALLEGATIONS ARE A 'DISGRACE' THAT WILL KEEP GOOD PEOPLE OUT OF PUBLIC SERVICE
''Right after I broke up with her, she was threatening my family, threatening my wife and threatening to do harm to my baby at that time,'' Richard Vinneccy told Politico. "I know a lot about her. ... She's not credible at all. Not at all."
Swetnick is represented by anti-Trump lawyer Michael Avenatti, who has refused multiple requests by the Senate Judiciary Committee to interview her in the past week. On Wednesday afternoon, 60 men and women who attended Kavanaugh's high school or sister schools signed a letter saying they had never heard of Swetnick or anything like the overt, systemic gang raping that she described.
According to The Washington Post, both the state of Maryland and the federal government have filed since-resolved liens on her property in recent years for unpaid taxes totalling tens of thousands of dollars. It was not immediately clear exactly how Swetnick, who has held multiple security clearances relating to her work with the government, resolved both liens.
Republicans, including President Trump, have repeatedly pointed out that none of the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh has first-hand corroboration. In The New Yorker on Sunday, former Kavanaugh classmate Deborah Ramirez claimed that Kavanaugh had exposed his penis to her at a party decades ago, even as her close college friend denied ever hearing about the episode and suggested she was making the claim for political reasons.
Ramirez, who also did not immediately respond to GOP Judiciary Committee inquiries, has acknowledged not being sure whether Kavanaugh had assaulted her until last week, after she spent days consulting with her attorney.
Several other allegations emerged this week. On Tuesday, a constituent told the office of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., that in 1985, two "heavily inebriated men" referred to as "Brett and Mark" had sexually assaulted a "close friend" on a boat.
The constituent, whose name was redacted in a document release by the Judiciary Committee but uncovered through tweets cited by the committee, recanted the claim Wednesday night on Twitter -- but several media outlets continued to report the allegations for hours afterwards.
In Twitter posts, the person making the accusation had also evidently advocated removing President Trump from the White House by means of military coup. On Wednesday, a post on the accuser's Twitter account read, "Do everyone who is going crazy about what I had said I have recanted because I have made a mistake and apologize for such mistake."
In a separate case, Kavanaugh was asked by GOP investigators this week specifically about a new claim in a letter received by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., from an anonymous individual apparently in Denver, alleging that Kavanaugh "shoved" someone up against a wall "very aggressively and sexually" during an outing in front of four witnesses in 1998. Gardner's office received the letter on Sept. 22.
"We're dealing with an anonymous letter about an anonymous person and an anonymous friend," Kavanaugh told committee investigators asking about the alleged episode. "It's ridiculous. Total Twilight Zone. And no, I've never done anything like that.
"It's bad -- it's doing damage to the Supreme Court," Kavanaugh added. "It's doing damage to the country. It's doing damage to this process. It's become a total feeding frenzy, you know? Every -- just unbelievable."
Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.
VIDEO - Anchor 3.0 - Product Hunt
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 10:55
Welcome to Anchor 3.0: the easiest way to make a podcast. Ever.
Around the web
Reviews
Would you recommend Anchor 3.0 to a friend?
Cons: Needs Tablet interface
Still my favorite quick podcast creation tool. I'm still wishing that it had a tablet interface on iOS at least. Can't believe it still uses x2 iPhone view at version 3.
Peter Witham has used this product for one year.
Discussion
You need to become a Contributor to join the discussion - Find out how.Hi, Product Hunt community! Not too long ago, we launched Anchor to the world right here on Product Hunt, quickly amassing an amazingly dedicated user base and a community of people all over the world sharing short form, social audio with each other. It was awesome and super inspiring.Anchor gave creators tools and a platform that made it easier than ever to be heard: by letting them create their own personal stream of audio, filled with music, sound effects, and voice captured by the high-powered microphones we all have in our pocket (our smartphones).But we heard time and time again that what creators truly wanted was to make a real podcast and have it heard everywhere people are listening. And that's where Anchor 3.0 comes in.Today's update, Anchor's biggest ever, features a re-imagined mobile app built for effortless podcast creation (free for iOS and Android), a brand new web dashboard with creation tools and analytics, expanded distribution options, and unlimited podcast hosting that's 100% free for everyone. Since our mission is to democratize audio, we believe in removing all friction that stands in the way of you creating your content and getting it heard'Š'--'Šthat includes paying for hosting. It's the easiest way to make a podcast. Ever.I'll be answering questions here on PH all day. Hope you enjoy the product!
@mignano congrats on going full podcast! I have loved watching Anchor evolve. I'll miss Stations. I really liked that interaction, but this makes so much sense.
Mike @mike_seekwell · SeekWell.io @mignano I had an idea for a podcast recently and this might push me over the edge to do it. What do you think of a podcast that converts high quality business essays (e.g.
@paulg) and articles to audio?
@mignano The first impression of Anchor was BOMB, been seeing it evolve over the years. To build a product like this one, I am sure you have an amazing team and good funding - I am just curious to know what have you planned for the future, do you have any plans of making money at all? I am surprised that you provide something like this for free and also the kind of great value you add to the startup/tech ecosystem and the podcast category. Thanks and kudos 👍ðŸ>>
@adithya Thanks Adithya! Our goal is to make it easy for creators to not only make a podcast, but monetize it as well.
It's been fun seeing Anchor evolve since it started gaining attention at SXSW a few years ago.The app started more as a "Twitter for short audio bits" and seems to have evolved into more of a creator tool. I'm curious how (or if) your vision for Anchor has changed,
@mignano.
@rrhoover Thanks, Ryan! It's the same vision (we aim to democratize audio), but we realized that since there's so much demand for listening to podcasts right now, that that's what people want to create, too. We looked around at all of the awesome tech we had built over the past year and realized there was no better combination of products to solve an actual problem people struggling with: making podcasts without having to be a pro.You'll notice the app has a lot of the existing mechanics around short-form and casual creation. Whatever you're interested in making -- be it a short, two minute news briefing, or a full fledged 40 minute podcast episode, the new Anchor makes it easy and frictionless.
@mignano another question: Anchor doesn't ask me for my Apple ID when it submits to iTunes, so I'm assuming Anchor owns my feed + access to the iTunes analytics? Also, do all Anchor shows have the cover art watermark?(Noticed
Joel Olsteen was using it here!)
@mijustin Hey Justin! You actually can decide whether you want us to distribute your podcast for you (the default for most people, who'd prefer easier setup and automatic distribution to new platforms) or whether you distribute it yourself (more manual control and access to things like off-platform analytics). You can also turn off the Anchor watermark in your settings :)
I'm releasing a new podcast soon and will be sure to use this.
Great job !! Could we use it with Wordpress? Expecting an plugin to do it ðŸŠ
VIDEO - Dear young people, "Don't Vote" - YouTube
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 07:20
VIDEO - Trump Press Conference - President Suggests His Sexual Assault Accusers Were Paid Off, Mentions George Washington and His Very Large Brain
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 07:16
"I was saying things that nobody in the room even understood," said the President of the United States. This was certainly correct, in a sense, though Donald Trump was referring to meetings he'd held with representatives of the Japanese government. It also applied here, in a press conference Wednesday featuring Presidential Monologues that wouldn't have been out of place tumbling out of the mouth of some guy on a street corner, hollering at passing cars. His mind flitted from topic to topic, leaving sentences behind in gnarled fragments with just enough form to expose the virulent impulses that lurked beneath.
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It is difficult to pinpoint one moment, or even three, that truly showcase the range of unhinged behavior on show here. For instance, he once again magicked up the idea the United States was on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea before he was elected, saving "millions of people." Here he is suggesting the Chinese government has "great respect" for his "very, very large brain":
But perhaps the most critical moment was when the president seemed to suggest he always sides with the accused in cases of alleged sexual misconduct because he himself has been accused (at least a dozen times, though Trump suggested it was four and you could verify that with Sean Hannity), and those who accused him were "paid off."
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What, exactly, is he saying happened? It's almost impossible to decipher. Some women were paid off, but some recanted their stories, but the stories were front page in The New York Times, but the Times wouldn't print that their own stories were fake, but the good things they said about him were front page in The New York Times. Does anyone seriously think this person's brain is functioning well? And did you notice when he said "another one had other things happen" as evidence one of his sexual assault accusers was paid off?
And then there was George Washington.
President Donald Trump: "If we brought George Washington here ... the Democrats would vote against him.""And he may have had a bad past, who knows ... George Washington would be voted against one hundred percent by Schumer and the con artists," he adds https://t.co/H9Yha41RJr pic.twitter.com/ln8SRr4QNj
'-- ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 26, 2018This is the most powerful man in the world. This is the man whom Republicans in Congress think is doing a bang-up job, and there's nothing to worry about. This is the man vouching for Brett Kavanaugh. This is the man getting laughed at in front of the world. But everything's going great'--just ask Sean Hannity.
VIDEO - Because female founders get overlooked
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 02:36
A new Goldman Sachs initiative called "Launch with GS" aims to make venture capital and private equity investments in startups founded by women, says Stephanie Cohen, the company's chief strategy officer.
VIDEO - Nikki Haley Just Revealed What Happened After UN Members Laughed at Trump
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 23:54
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the news media completely missed or misrepresented what happened when members of the U.N. General Assembly laughed at one point during President Donald Trump's address to the body Tuesday.
Shortly into his remarks, Trump said, ''In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.''
Laughter could be heard in the audience, prompting the president to say, ''Didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK,'' which drew laughter and applause from the U.N. crowd.
VIDEO: Trump receives unexpected laughter at UN General Assembly when he opened a speech by bragging about his administration's domestic achievements. https://t.co/BC7QkmC4Xr
'-- The Associated Press (@AP) September 26, 2018
Ainsley Earhardt, host of Fox News' ''Fox & Friends,'' asked Haley about the moment during Wednesday's show.
TRENDING: Maryland Police Will Not Investigate 2nd Kavanaugh Allegation Despite Contradictory Reports
''I know you were in the room when the laugh happened,'' Earhardt said. ''Sometimes the media can portray it as one thing and it's not that at all. What was it like and why that reaction?''
''The media's got this so wrong,'' Haley responded. ''I deal with these leaders every single day. I know exactly how they think.''
The ambassador explained the world leaders at the U.N. do not love America, but they respect the U.S. since Trump has become president.
Do you agree with Haley that world leaders respect the U.S. more since Trump has taken office?''When he said that, they love how honest he is,'' Haley said. ''It's not diplomatic and they find it funny. I mean, when he goes and he is very truthful, they kind of were taken back by it. '...
''All day yesterday, they were falling over themselves to get a picture with him, to talk about how great his speech was, how strong it was. Whether he said good things about them or not, they love that he's honest with them, and they've never seen anything like it, and so there's a respect there.''
The ambassador further observed, ''I saw that the media was trying to make it something disrespectful. That's not what it was '-- they love to be with him.''
During his address, Trump listed accomplishments of his administration, including a booming economy, with the highest stock market in U.S. history and the lowest jobless claims numbers in 50 years, and the rebuilding of the nation's defenses.
''In other words, the United States is stronger, safer and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago,'' the president said. ''We are standing up for America and for the American people, and we are also standing up for the world.''
RELATED: Nikki Haley Blasts Iran: 'Every Conflict That We Have, We See Iran's Fingerprints'
Trump went on to argue for the importance of national sovereignty over global governing structures.
''That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control and domination,'' he said.
The president cited multiple instances in which the U.S. is working with other nations with the intent to make the world a safer, more prosperous place.
These include efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and normalize relations between North and South, as well as working with Middle East nations to end the civil wars in Yemen and Syria.
The commander in chief also outlined initiatives his administration has taken to address the threats posed by Iran to the stability of the region and the world.
''The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda,'' he said. ''Last month, we began reimposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that had been lifted under the Iran deal. '... And we're working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially.
''We cannot allow the world's leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet's most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants 'Death to America' and that threatens Israel with annihilation to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth. Just can't do it.''
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
VIDEO - President Trump Calls Allegations Judge Kavanaugh False, Sep 26 2018 | C-SPAN.org
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 21:32
September 26, 2018 2018-09-26T16:57:52-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/9eb/20180926165858003_hd.jpg President Trump holds a news conference following several meetings with world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly. He calls allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Brett Kavanaugh ''false'' and says they are trying to destroy him.President Trump holds a news conference following several meetings with world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly. He calls allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Brett Kavanaugh ''false'' and says they are trying to destroy him.
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Related Video September 18, 2018 U.S.-Poland RelationsPresident Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife in the White House'...
September 20, 2018 Sexual Assault and Judge Brett Kavanaugh AllegationsSexual violence experts voiced their support for Professor Christine Blasey Ford after she publicly came forward accusing'...
September 17, 2018 National Council for the American Worker MeetingPresident Trump participated in a meeting with his National Council for the American Worker, a group charged with'...
July 9, 2018 Judge Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court Nomination AnnouncementPresident Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to replace retiring'...
VIDEO - The world, laughs at us - UN Version - YouTube
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 15:07
VIDEO - President Trump EXPLOSIVE Speech at the UN General Assembly (9-25-18) - YouTube
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 12:39
VIDEO - Creepy Porn Lawyer Avenatti Mocks Kavanaugh's Virginity - Asks About Performing Oral Sex (VIDEO)
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:51
Creepy Porn Lawyer Avenatti Mocks Kavanaugh's Virginity '' Asks About Performing Oral Sex (VIDEO) by Jim Hoft September 25, 2018Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his wife Ashley were interviewed last night by FOX News host Martha MacCallum.
Judge Kavanaugh admitted to MacCallum he was a virgin in high school and several years after high school.
Judge Kavanaugh: ''I did not have sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. The girls from the schools I went to and I were friends.''
Creepy porn lawyer and leftist hero Michael Avenatti pounced on Judge Kavanaugh's comments.Avenatti represents a woman who claims Brett Kavanaugh gang-raped her in high school.
Michael Avenatti: Kavanaugh saying he was a virgin in HS ''shows he's lying.'' ''Does that mean he performed oral sex or had oral sex performed on him? '... Does he want America to believe that the only thing that he did until well into his college years was effectively kiss or French kiss?''
Avenatti: Kavanaugh saying he was a virgin in HS "shows he's lying." "Does that mean he performed oral sex or had oral sex performed on him? '... Does he want America to believe that the only thing that he did until well into his college years was effectively kiss or French kiss?" pic.twitter.com/rXlAz671SK
'-- Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 25, 2018
VIDEO - Grassley says he 'is not going to silence' Ford, vows key Kavanaugh hearing will proceed before possible vote | Fox News
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 03:58
Tension builds ahead of high-stakes Kavanaugh hearingSupreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford are scheduled to testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday; chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel reports from Capitol Hill.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Tuesday rejected the requests from Democrats to delay a key hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the federal judge of sexual assault during a party when they were in high school, are due to testify before the committee on Thursday. Kavanaugh has denied Ford's allegations.
In a letter to ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Grassley wrote: "I am not going to silence Dr. Ford after I promised and assured her that I would provide her a safe, comfortable, and dignified opportunity to testify ... There is no reason to delay the hearing any further."
Grassley added that any further delay would be unfair to both Ford and Kavanaugh, whom Grassley said "has asked the Committee repeatedly for the chance to testify as soon as possible ... We can no longer stand in the way of him presenting his testimony before the Committee."
Feinstein had asked for the hearing to be delayed after the New Yorker magazine published claims by Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh who says he exposed himself to her while drunk at a college party in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has denied that allegation as well.
Feinstein also asked that the committee refer Ramirez's allegations to the FBI along with Ford's claims.
Also Tuesday, the committee announced that it had tentatively rescheduled a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination for Friday morning. Grassley took to Twitter to add that the hearing was added to the committee's schedule as required by it rules.
"After [hearing] Dr Ford & Judge Kavanaugh's testimony- if we're ready to vote, we will vote," he tweeted. "If we aren't ready, we won't."
In a statement, Feinstein said the committee's action in scheduling a vote was "outrageous."
"First Republicans demanded Dr. Blasey Ford testify immediately. Now Republicans don't even need to hear her before they move ahead with a vote," she said. "It's clear to me that Republicans don't want this to be a fair process."
In response, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News' "The Story" that Grassley had "bent over backwards to be fair" to both Ford and Kavanaugh.
"Dr. Ford is being abused as much as anybody else," Graham told Martha MacCallum. "She's been a victim of this as much as Kavanaugh has."
Graham added that Kavanaugh "is not Bill Cosby. He is not [Harvey] Weinstein. He's lived a good life. This is an allegation 35 years old that's unverified and I'm not going to ruin his life based on that. Show me something credible, they've yet to do it."
Fox News has been told Grassley and Feinstein are expected to give opening statements to kick off Thursday's hearing, followed by Christine Blasey Ford, who would speak with no time limit.
That would be followed by a round of five-minute questioning periods for each senator, who could turn over questioning to other counsel. The process would repeat for Kavanaugh.
Fox News has learned that Judiciary Committee staffers interviewed Kavanaugh by phone about the Ramirez allegations on Tuesday. A source familiar with the call told Fox News that Republican staffers led the interview, while Democratic aides listened without asking any questions. Another source told Fox News that Democratic staffers were told about the call with Kavanaugh 15 minutes before it took place, giving them no time to prepare.
The allegations by Ford, who went public with her claims Sept. 16, have caused cracks in what initially appeared to be a smooth path to confirmation for Kavanaugh. Multiple Republican senators have told Fox News that they want to hear Ford's testimony before deciding which way to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a key undecided Republican, told reporters she will be "glued to the television" during Thursday's hearing.
However, GOP lawmakers sounded more bullish about Kavanaugh's chances on Tuesday, with some discussing keeping the Senate in session this weekend so that they can begin the process of confirming Kavanaugh right away.
FEINSTEIN CAN'T GUARANTEE KAVANAUGH ACCUSERS SHOWS UP TO HEARING
"I go into the hearings with very positive feelings about him, and I hope Thursday goes well," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Democrats Monday of mistreating Kavanaugh using "vague, unsubstantiated and uncorroborated allegations of 30-plus-year-old misconduct" that were "nowhere near grounds to nullify someone's career or destroy their good name."
TUCKER CARLSON: IF GOP WON'T BACK KAVANAUGH, VOTERS SHOULD DO THIS
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., retorted that McConnell owed Ford an apology for asserting that the Democrats' use of the women's accusations was a smear campaign. Schumer said McConnell's comment "demeans many, many women."
A successful committee vote is not necessary to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate. Current Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas received no recommendation from the Judiciary Committee in 1991, but was still confirmed by the Senate. Conversely, Robert Bork received an unfavorable recognition from the committee in 1987, though his nomination was rejected by the full Senate.
Fox News' Chad Pergram, Mike Emanuel, Jason Donner, Martha MacCallum and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Tue, 25 Sep 2018 18:17
VIDEO - Ted Cruz heckled by radical protesters in DC restaurant: video | Fox News
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 11:24
FILE: Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz takes part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate with Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke, in Dallas. (AP)
A group of radical protesters in Washington, D.C., shouted down Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his wife in a restaurant Monday night, sending the couple to an early exit in a tense scene captured on video.
The group appeared to chastise Cruz over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is facing multiple sexual assault allegations. Two one-minute video clips were posted to the Twitter page of a group called ''Smash Racism DC.''
The group's Facebook page states that it is ''united'' in the fight against the ''Nazis, Ku Klux Klan.''
In the first video clip, a group of protesters approach Cruz and his wife at a restaurant table, repeatedly shouting, ''We believe survivors!''
''Hi, I'd love to talk to you about Brett Kavanaugh tonight. I'm a constituent, love to know what your vote is gonna be tonight. I know that you're very close friends with Mr. Kavanaugh,'' says a woman off camera. ''Do you believe survivors?''
''Senator, I have a right to know what your position is on Brett Kavanaugh,'' she continues.
''God bless you, ma'am,'' Cruz says amid the shouts.
''Bless you as well, I really appreciate you,'' the woman responds. ''I'm a survivor of sexual assault. I believe all survivors. There are now three people who have come forward and who have said that Brett Kavanaugh has attacked them. I know that you're close friends with him. Could you talk to him about that? Could you talk to him about his position?''
Cruz then appears to get up and head for the exit with his wife.
''How are you gonna vote, sir?'' the woman asks.
In the second video, the protesters continue shouting, ''We believe survivors!'' as Cruz is seen struggling to get through the crowd.
''Beto's way hotter than you, dude!'' says one protester off camera, in reference to Democratic congressman Beto O'Rourke, Cruz's challenger for his U.S. Senate seat.
''Excuse me, let my wife through,'' Cruz says to the hostile crowd.
As Cruz nears the exit, a woman is heard shouting, ''Are you going to confirm your best friend Kavanaugh?''
Another protester shouts: ''Sexist, racist, anti-gay!''
When Cruz leaves the restaurant, the protesters cheer. A restaurant worker appears, telling the group to leave.
Cruz has pushed for Christine Blasey Ford, one of Kavanaugh's accusers, to testify in public, according to The Texas Tribune.
"These allegations are serious and deserve to be treated with respect," Cruz said in a statement. "Professor Ford should have a full opportunity to tell her story before the Judiciary Committee, and Judge Kavanaugh should have a full opportunity to defend himself. That hearing should be sooner, rather than later, so the committee can make the best assessment possible of the allegations."
It's not the first time a Republican politician has been publicly confronted.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled and harassed at a Mexican Washington D.C. restaurant in June. A video posted by the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America showed a group of protesters shouting ''Shame!'' at Nielson.
Days later, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and her family were kicked out of a Virginia restaurant. The eatery cited morality and living up to ''certain standards'' as the reasons behind the decision.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., encouraged supporters after the two incidents to fight back against the Trump administration. She said at the time current administration officials who defend Trump ''know what they're doing is wrong'' and said they soon won't be able to peacefully appear in public without being harassed. She later backed off from those remarks.
Cruz's office did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment on his confrontation.
Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.
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Who are Google search quality raters and what do they do?
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:37
Get the best search news, tips and resources, delivered each day.
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Who are Google search quality raters and what do they do?
Google contracts with over 10,000 search quality raters worldwide to evaluate its search results. Raters are given actual searches to conduct, drawn from real searches that happen on Google. They then rate the quality of pages that appear in the top results '-- hence the ''quality rater'' name.
Quality raters cannot alter Google's results directly. A rater marking a particular listing as low quality will not cause that page to be banned or lose ranking.
Instead, the data generated by quality raters is used to improve Google's search algorithms, an automated system of ranking pages. Over time, that quality rater data might have an impact on low-quality pages that are spotted by raters, but the algorithm will also impact pages weren't reviewed.
Quality raters use a set of guidelines you can see here that are about 200 pages long, instructing them on how to assess website quality and whether the results they review meet the needs of those who perform searches.
LatestGoogle updates its search quality rating guidelinesGoogle has published a revised version of the 164-page set of guidelines used to help human 'quality raters' evaluate online content and provide...
Chris Sherman | Jul 25, 2018 at 8:47 am ET What 3,000 voice search queries tell us about the 'Voice Search Revolution'Do you think voice search is the next "big thing" digital marketers need to watch for? Contributor Bryson Meunier isn't so sure and feels there...
Bryson Meunier | Feb 8, 2018 at 10:13 am ET Google updates quality raters guidelines with details around non-English language web pagesGoogle made some small tweaks to their quality raters guidelines on July 27, 2017. The previous update, on March 14, 2017, was much larger....
Barry Schwartz | Aug 3, 2017 at 9:36 am ET Google's 'Project Owl' '-- a three-pronged attack on fake news & problematic contentGoogle hopes to improve by better surfacing authoritative content and enlisting feedback about suggested searches and Featured Snippets...
Danny Sullivan | Apr 25, 2017 at 10:00 am ET Google did not ban Infowars; did rescind quality example using an Infowars articleInfowars article was used to help illustrate how quality raters might judge content, but raters have no power to censor, ban or penalize...
Danny Sullivan | Apr 18, 2017 at 4:09 am ET Google launches new effort to flag upsetting or offensive content in searchUsing data from human "quality raters," Google hopes to teach its algorithms how to better spot offensive and often factually incorrect...
Danny Sullivan | Mar 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm ET What Advanced SEOs Should Know From The Google Raters Guidelines (SMX Advanced Recap)During this SMX Advanced session, panelists discussed what SEOs need to know about Google's Search Quality Rating Guidelines, created for the...
Joy Hawkins | Jul 6, 2016 at 10:46 am ET What is quality content?Columnist Patrick Stox takes a comprehensive look at what Google might consider to be "quality content" and adds his own thoughts and tips based...
Patrick Stox | Jun 9, 2016 at 10:34 am ET Google updates the search quality rating guidelinesGoogle updated their search quality raters guidelines document on March 28, reducing it from 160 to 146...
Barry Schwartz | Apr 4, 2016 at 8:51 am ET Google Releases The Full Version Of Their Search Quality Rating GuidelinesFor the first time, Google has released the full version of its Search Quality Raters guidelines and handbook. It is 160 pages of wonderful SEO...
Barry Schwartz | Nov 19, 2015 at 3:36 pm ET Google Search Quality Raters Handbook Updated With Mobile Guidelines, Local Queries & Know QueriesIt's been a year since we have seen coverage of a new Google Search Quality Rater's Guide. Here is what is...
Barry Schwartz | Nov 16, 2015 at 2:07 pm ET Google's Quality Rating Guide Leaked Again; Here Is Version FiveGoogle's Quality Rating Guidelines document has been leaked once again! Version 5.0 was leaked a few days ago, where Google has reportedly...
Barry Schwartz | Jul 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm ET In Quality Raters' Handbook, Google Adds Higher Standards For ''Your Money Or Your Life'' WebsitesGoogle's continuing push toward identifying expertise and authority on the web takes another step in the form of a new type of...
Matt McGee | Nov 18, 2013 at 9:02 am ET Google Gutted Its Search Quality Rating Guidelines For Public ReleaseAs part of today's big ''How Search Works'' reveal, Google also took the big step of sharing its Search Quality Rating...
Matt McGee | Mar 1, 2013 at 4:08 pm ET Google Publishes Its Search Quality Rating Guidelines For First TimeAs part of the How Search Works interactive infographic Google released today, they have decided to publish their search quality rating...
Barry Schwartz | Mar 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm ET Google Releases Interactive Infographic: ''How Search Works''Ever wondered how Google Search works, finds pages from across the web and decides how to list them in response to a search? If so,...
Danny Sullivan | Mar 1, 2013 at 11:58 am ET Google May Go Public With Its Human Search Quality Rater GuidelinesGoogle is considering offering its search quality rating guidelines to the public. The news comes near the end of the latest webmaster video...
Matt McGee | Oct 30, 2012 at 3:12 pm ET Google Search Quality Raters Instructions Gain New ''Page Quality'' GuidelinesIn the wake of Google's Panda algorithm update, its cadre of human search quality raters has a new task: giving Google specific quality...
Matt McGee | Sep 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm ET Video: Google Speaks About Search Quality RatersGoogle's head of web spam, Matt Cutts, has published a video talking about a topic that Google has never really talked about publicly...
Barry Schwartz | May 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm ET An Interview With A Google Search Quality RaterSince at least 2005, Google has been using a large, worldwide focus group to help review its search results and the quality of the web pages...
Matt McGee | Jan 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm ET
QUALITY RATERS-Google launches new effort to flag upsetting or offensive content in search - Search Engine Land
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:35
Google is undertaking a new effort to better identify content that is potentially upsetting or offensive to searchers. It hopes this will prevent such content from crowding out factual, accurate and trustworthy information in the top search results.
''We're explicitly avoiding the term 'fake news,' because we think it is too vague,'' said Paul Haahr, one of Google's senior engineers who is involved with search quality. ''Demonstrably inaccurate information, however, we want to target.''
New role for Google's army of 'quality raters'
The effort revolves around Google's quality raters, over 10,000 contractors that Google uses worldwide to evaluate search results. These raters are given actual searches to conduct, drawn from real searches that Google sees. They then rate pages that appear in the top results as to how good those seem as answers.
Quality raters do not have the power to alter Google's results directly. A rater marking a particular result as low quality will not cause that page to plunge in rankings. Instead, the data produced by quality raters is used to improve Google's search algorithms generally. In time, that data might have an impact on low-quality pages that are spotted by raters, as well as on others that weren't reviewed.
Quality raters use a set of guidelines that are nearly 200 pages long, instructing them on how to assess website quality and whether the results they review meet the needs of those who might search for particular queries.
The new 'Upsetting-Offensive' content flag
Those guidelines have been updated with an entirely new section about ''Upsetting-Offensive'' content that covers a new flag that's been added for raters to use. Until now, pages could not be flagged by raters with this designation.
The guidelines say that upsetting or offensive content typically includes the following things (the bullet points below are quoted directly from the guide):
Content that promotes hate or violence against a group of people based on criteria including (but not limited to) race or ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality or citizenship, disability, age, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
Content with racial slurs or extremely offensive terminology.
Graphic violence, including animal cruelty or child abuse.
Explicit how­ to information about harmful activities (e.g., how tos on human trafficking or violent assault).
Other types of content which users in your locale would find extremely upsetting or offensive.
The guidelines also include examples. For instance, here's one for a search on ''holocaust history,'' giving two different results that might have appeared and how to rate them:
The first result is from a white supremacist site. Raters are told it should be flagged as Upsetting-Offensive because many people would find Holocaust denial to be offensive.
The second result is from The History Channel. Raters are not told to flag this result as Upsetting-Offensive because it's a ''factually accurate source of historical information.''
In two other examples given, raters are instructed to flag a result said to falsely represent a scientific study in an offensive manner and a page that seems to exist solely to promote intolerance:
Being flagged is not an immediate demotion or a ban
What happens if content is flagged this way? Nothing immediate. The results that quality raters flag is used as ''training data'' for Google's human coders who write search algorithms, as well as for its machine learning systems. Basically, content of this nature is used to help Google figure out how to automatically identify upsetting or offensive content in general.
In other words, being flagged as ''Upsetting-Offensive'' by a quality rater does not actually mean that a page or site will be identified this way in Google's actual search engine. Instead, it's data that Google uses so that its search algorithms can automatically spot pages generally that should be flagged.
If the algorithms themselves actually flag content, then that content is less likely to appear for searches where the intent is deemed to be about general learning. For example, someone searching for Holocaust information is less likely to run into Holocaust denial sites, if things go as Google intends.
Being flagged as Upsetting-Offensive does not mean such content won't appear at all in Google. In cases where Google determines there's an explicit desire to reach such content, it will still be delivered. For example, someone who is explicitly seeking a white supremacist site by name should get it, raters are instructed:
Those explicitly seeking offensive content will get factual information
What about searches where people might already have made their minds up about particular situations? For example, if someone who already doubts the Holocaust happened does a search on that topic, should that be viewed as an explicit search for material that supports it, even if that material is deemed upsetting or offensive?
The guidelines address this. It acknowledges that people may search for possibly upsetting or offensive topics. It takes the view that in all cases, the assumption should be toward returning trustworthy, factually accurate and credible information.
From the guidelines:
Remember that users of all ages, genders, races, and religions use search engines for a variety of needs. One especially important user need is exploring subjects which may be difficult to discuss in person. For example, some people may hesitate to ask what racial slurs mean. People may also want to understand why certain racially offensive statements are made. Giving users access to resources that help them understand racism, hatred, and other sensitive topics is beneficial to society.
When the user's query seems to either ask for or tolerate potentially upsetting, offensive, or sensitive content, we will call the query a ''Upsetting-­Offensive tolerant query''. For the purpose of Needs Met rating, please assume that users have a dominant educational/informational intent for Upsetting­-Offensive tolerant queries. All results should be rated on the Needs Met rating scale assuming a genuine educational/informational intent.
In particular, to receive a Highly Meets rating, informational results about Upsetting­-Offensive topics must:
Be found on highly trustworthy, factually accurate, and credible sources, unless the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.
Address the specific topic of the query so that users can understand why it is upsetting or offensive and what the sensitivities involved are.
Important:
Do not assume that Upsetting-­Offensive tolerant queries ''deserve'' offensive results.
Do not assume Upsetting­-Offensive tolerant queries are issued by racist or ''bad'' people.
Do not assume users are merely seeking to validate an offensive or upsetting perspective.
It also gives some examples on interpreting searches for Upsetting-Offensive topics:
Will it work?
Google told Search Engine Land that has already been testing these new guidelines with a subset of its quality raters and used that data as part of a ranking change back in December. That was aimed at reducing offensive content that was appearing for searches such as ''did the Holocaust happen.''
The results for that particular search have certainly improved. In part, the ranking change helped. In part, all the new content that appeared in response to outrage over those search results had an impact.
But beyond that, Google no longer returns a fake video of President Barack Obama purportedly saying he was born in Kenya, for a search on ''obama born in kenya,'' as it once did (unless you choose the ''Videos'' search option, where that fakery hosted on Google-owned YouTube remains the top result).
Similarly, a search for ''Obama pledge of allegiance'' is no longer topped by a fake news site saying he was banning the pledge, as was the previously case. That's still in the top results but behind five articles debunking the claim.
Still, all's not improved. A search for ''white people are inbred'' continues to have as its top result content that would almost certainly violate Google's new guidelines.
''We will see how some of this works out. I'll be honest. We're learning as we go,'' Haahr said, admitting that the effort won't produce perfect results. But Google hopes it will be a big improvement. Haahr said quality raters have helped shape Google's algorithms in other ways successfully and is confident they'll help it improve in dealing with fake news and problematic results.
''We've been very pleased with what raters give us in general. We've only been able to improve ranking as much as we have over the years because we have this really strong rater program that gives us real feedback on what we're doing,'' he said.
In an increasingly charged political environment, it's natural to wonder how raters will deal with content that's easily found on major news sites that call both liberals and conservatives idiots or worse. Is this content that should be flagged as ''Upsetting-Offensive?'' Under the guidelines, no. That's because political orientation is not one of the covered areas for this flag.
How about for non-offensive but nevertheless fake results, such as ''who invented stairs'' causing Google to list an answer saying they were invented in 1948?
Or a situation that plagues both Google and Bing, a fake story about someone who ''invented'' homework:
I just can't. Kids believe "Roberto Nevilis" invented homework in 1095 according to Google, 1905 according to Bing. He's not real. OMG. pic.twitter.com/a0ajGd7zXo
'-- Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) March 9, 2017
Other changes to the guidelines might help with that, Google said, where raters are being directed to do more fact-checking of answers and effectively give sites more credit for being factually correct than seemingly being authoritative.
About The Author
Russian Duma gives second nod to bill criminalizing the spreading of fake news '-- RT Russian Politics News
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:28
The Russian Lower House has passed, in the second and main reading, a bill criminalizing the persistent spreading of false or illegal reports in mass media with punishments varying from heavy fines to up to one year in custody.
The bill outlawing the spreading of fake news was drafted in May by several lawmakers from parliamentary majority party United Russia. The sponsors of the motion explained its necessity by the fact that the existing legal measures often prove to be ineffective against liars and slanderers '' even when they get a court order to delete and refute false information they can easily ignore it and simply pay the relatively small fines (between 1000 and 5000 rubles or $14 to $74).
Read more
Lawmakers stated that, in their opinion, such a situation was a violation of basic constitutional guarantees of citizens' personal rights. Once the new bill is passed into law the same offence would be prosecuted under criminal law.
The punishment for refusing to comply with a court order to stop spreading and/or to refute fake news or reports containing illegal information, would range from fines up to 50,000 rubles ($735) to one year correctional labor or even one year behind bars.
Persons who illegally prevent others from deleting or refuting fake news would face the same punishment.
In April, this year the same group of MPs presented a different legislative motion, for public discussion, which would allow state agencies to block messengers and social networks that refuse to delete fake news, and make citizens personally responsible for initiating or supporting the spreading of fake news and other false information. The bill has not yet received approval from the Lower House.
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Facebook to Focus on 'Conflict Prevention' and 'Peace-Building' | Breitbart
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:27
Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSocial media firm Facebook has advertised a job opening for the role of human rights policy director, listing ''conflict prevention'' and ''peace-building'' as key areas of responsibility.TechCrunch reports that Facebook is seeking to fill a new role, that of a human rights policy director. A job ad posted to Facebook's careers sections states that as Facebook's worldwide influence grows, ''so does the responsibility we have to respect the individual and human rights of the members of our diverse global community.'' Some of the responsibilities of this new role include ''conflict prevention'' and ''peace-building.''
The job ad states:
We are looking for a Director of Human Rights Policy to coordinate our company-wide effort to address human rights abuses, including by both state and non-state actors. This role will be responsible for: (1) Working with product teams to ensure that Facebook is a positive force for human rights and apply the lessons we learn from our investigations, (2) representing Facebook with key stakeholders in civil society, government, international institutions, and industry, (3) driving our investigations into and disruptions of human rights abusers on our platforms, and (4) crafting policies to counteract bad actors and help us ensure that we continue to operate our platforms consistent with human rights principles.
The minimum qualifications for the role include:
12+ years of experience in public policy, human rights, conflict prevention, freedom of expression, and technologyKnowledge of conflict areas and threats to human rightsExperience working in developing nations and with governments and civil society organizations around the worldExperience working in conflict areas and/or with programs to address and mitigate conflictExperience working with technical product teamsExperience with consensus-buildingExperience operating independently and representing companies at the ministerial-levelThe job listing also notes that ''global travel to support our international teams is expected.'' It would appear that Facebook's search to fill this specific job role may be linked to recent criticisms of the company's failure to understand its responsibility on a worldwide scale given its massive growth.
This is an issue that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly apologized for during his testimony earlier this year before Congress. Facebook also failed to stop alleged misinformation campaigns on its platform tied to both Iran and Russia, another issue that a human rights policy director may play a key role in solving. Another area of criticism of Facebook, especially from the left, has been the Myanmar government's utilization of the platform in cracking down on Rohingya Muslims. Facebook recently banned the country's army chief after months of criticism.
Facebook is also looking to hire a public policy manager in Africa, where the new hire can ''combine a passion for technology's potential to create opportunity and to make Africa more open and connected, with deep knowledge of the political and regulatory dynamics across key Francophone countries in Africa.''
Facebook states that they new position will provide ''new opportunities for democratic engagement'' as the manager will work with Facebook's Politics and Government team to ''promote the use of Facebook as a platform for citizen and voter engagement to policymakers and NGOs and other political influencers.''
These new job listings combined would appear to show that Facebook is continuing to push for more political activity on their platform, something which many may find worrying given recent accusations of Facebook censoring certain users and pages across the platform.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com
BREITBART CONNECT
Announcing New Election Partnership With the Atlantic Council | Facebook Newsroom
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:27
May 17, 2018
By Katie Harbath, Global Politics and Government Outreach Director
Facebook is investing heavily to prevent our service from being abused during elections. We're doubling the number of people who work on safety and security and using technology like artificial intelligence to more effectively block fake accounts '' the source of many bad ads and a lot of misinformation. In addition, we're more actively working with outside experts, governments and other companies because we know that we can't solve these challenges on our own. For example, last month we announced an independent commission to help fund and organize research into the impact of social media on society '-- starting with elections.
Today, we're excited to launch a new partnership with the Atlantic Council, which has a stellar reputation looking at innovative solutions to hard problems. Experts from their Digital Forensic Research Lab will work closely with our security, policy and product teams to get Facebook real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world. This will help increase the number of ''eyes and ears'' we have working to spot potential abuse on our service '-- enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world.
Facebook will also use the Atlantic Council's Digital Research Unit Monitoring Missions during elections and other highly sensitive moments. This will allow us to focus on a particular geographic area '-- monitoring for misinformation and foreign interference and also working to help educate citizens as well as civil society.
Finally, we know that tackling these problems effectively also requires the right policies and regulatory structures so that governments and companies can help prevent abuse while also ensuring people have a voice during elections. The Atlantic Council's network of leaders is uniquely situated to help all of us think through the challenges we will face in the near and long-term.
This effort is part of an broader initiative to help provide credible and independent research about the role of social media in elections, as well as democracy more generally. We look forward to working together to protect free and fair elections across the world.
Diplomats Say They Were Definitely Laughing At Trump At The UN
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 11:57
NEW YORK '-- Donald Trump's speech to the UN was met by widespread laughter, and diplomats have confirmed that their delegations were laughing at '-- not with '-- the US president.
''Sometimes, when we see a behavior or listen to arguments or notions that seem so far-fetched, unreasonable, or insane, there is almost natural reaction of laughing,'' one Latin American diplomat said, speaking anonymously so he could speak freely.
The diplomat added, ''It is not laughing at a good joke, but a nervous laugh, or a bad joke turned laughable precisely because the guy who tells the joke doesn't realize how bad it is.''
Laughter filled the UN General Assembly room on Tuesday after Trump said his administration ''has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.''
On Wednesday, Trump argued during a news conference that "they weren't laughing at me, they were laughing with me."
"We had fun," Trump said. "That was not laughing at me. So the fake news said 'people laughed at President Trump.' They didn't laugh at me, people had a good time with me. We were doing it together, we had a good time."
Trump's comments came after Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said in an interview earlier Wednesday that those in attendance were laughing because they "loved his honesty" and stressed that the diplomatic community respects the president.
"He's very good at knowing his audience," she told Fox News.
But diplomats themselves described the speech as awkward and out of place.
''His words in the opening part of the speech were clearly addressed to [a] domestic audience,'' wrote one European diplomat in a message that noted that other world leaders do the same. ''But as he did it in the Trumpian way (bragging ridiculously about being one of the best administrations in history) people in the audience reacted how they reacted."
''What would resonate well at a political rally in America sounded a little awkward at the UN General Assembly,'' the diplomat added.
Trump used the speech on Tuesday to hail the importance of sovereignty over multilateralism and to bash those countries that might stand in his way '-- all while appealing to his own American electorate.
''He doesn't have any concept of diplomacy,'' one Asian diplomat said, though the diplomat added that Trump's undiplomatic diplomacy has ''worked well toward North Korea.''
Trump's chairing of a UN meeting on Wednesday morning was not met with laughter, but with confusion. The US president did discuss the ostensible subject of the meeting, touching on the Iran nuclear deal and North Korea. But he also veered into distinctly non-nonproliferation territory, accusing China of meddling in the upcoming midterm elections, while offering no proof.
''They do not want me or us to win, because I am the first president to challenge China on trade,'' Trump said. ''And we are winning on trade. We are winning at every level.''
It was the kind of tangent that would seem completely normal at a Trump rally. But at the highly scripted Security Council, it was distinctly out of place.
The camera panned to the Chinese delegation, the members of which appeared to shrug.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the substance of Trump's speech, or on whether the shrug was an intentional reply.
But the Chinese shrug encapsulated a tension that's been on display this week as member nations' top officials gather to debate world events. The United Nations, home of diplomacy and decorum, is unfamiliar with the sort of brash braggadocio that's considered par for the course for Trump.
When Trump focused part of his Tuesday address on Germany and warned that ''Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course,'' the German delegation was caught smirking on camera.
That was ''scornful laughter, not nervous laughter. But there is a deeper point here: World leaders have worked out that trying to reason with Trump does not work. Trying to attack him often backfires. But laughing at him can defuse his attacks,'' said Richard Gowan, a senior fellow at United Nations University.
Neither the German Mission at the United Nations nor the German Embassy in Washington responded to a request for comment.
What the Media Isn't Telling You About Brett Kavanaugh
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 11:52
Op-Ed by Carey Wedler
As expected, the corporate media's coverage of Brett Kavanaugh's appointment process is disappointingly superficial. While there's no doubt sexual harassment is a pressing issue in modern-day America, left-leaning establishment outlets and individuals alike are mired in these accusations, as well as partisan political divides as they fail to recognize Kavanaugh's very troublesome record of court rulings'--rulings that show his verifiable proclivity toward using the government to very literally harass the American people and the rest of the world.
While Congress and the people bicker over their disagreements with Kavanaugh as he testifies, few are discussing what he has in common with both factions of the American ruling class.
The ACLU compiled a report in August detailing his many troublesome perspectives, highlighting his past decisions on surveillance, free speech, presidential and congressional war powers, and as a result, the overarching iron fist of government power that few care to challenge, choosing instead to fight for control of the institution at large.
As the ACLU summarized in its ''Report of the American Civil Liberties Union on the Nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh To Be Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court'':
[Kavanaugh's] record shows his extreme deference to presidential war power and national security claims, an unwillingness to enforce international law absent express incorporation by the political branches, and a tendency to find obstacles to holding government officials accountable for constitutional and human rights abuses in national security cases.
One of the greatest constitutional violations since 9/11 has been the U.S. government's denial of fair trials and redress over government violations of rights within the justice system. Kavanaugh has encouraged these encroachments. In the 2015 case Meshal v. Higgenbotham, Kavanaugh moved to deny ''a remedy to an American citizen detained and abused by FBI agents overseas,'' siding with security over freedom, claiming that giving the American citizen in question his constitutional rights might undermine efforts to fight terrorism.
In a 2009 case, Saleh v. Titan, he asserted military contractors cannot be held liable to human rights abuses as long as they are acting under the authority of the U.S. military. There is ample evidence of these abuses, but Kavanaugh does not believe in holding government affiliates accountable. Similarly, in the same ruling, he asserted that ''government contractors [are] immune from torture claims brought under the [Alien Tort Statute] when the contractors operate under the control of the U.S. military.'' The military's violent authority trumps all.
In 2008, he sided with the executive branch on war powers. Kavanaugh wrote in the ruling for Harbury v. Hayden that ''courts cannot review allegations of executive branch wrongdoing if the claims challenge national security or foreign affairs decisions.''
In still another case, El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Co. v. United States (2010), he showed his ''inclination to dismiss cases alleging government misconduct where national security or foreign affairs are at issue.''
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He has also opined that the U.S. government's war powers are free from the constraints of international law and that international treaties can be ignored if U.S. courts ''construe statutes, at least when related to war powers.'' Further, he has asserted that while the U.S. should technically respect international law, the courts have no power to make the government comply with it. That decision should be left to the president and Congress (most of us know how they've handled their war powers).
Regarding ''continued detention'' pursuant to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, Kavanaugh went so far as to acknowledge in 2013's Ali v. Obama that ''this is a long war with no end in sight,'' but still decided ''it is not the Judiciary's proper role to devise a novel detention standard that varies with the length of detention.''
Kavanaugh prompted another judge to claim the current Supreme Court nominee had stretched the meaning of the AUMF so far that some habeas corpus rulings were ''functionally useless.'' Similarly, as the ACLU observed, Kavanaugh has ''joined or written numerous D.C. Circuit opinions that have turned judicial habeas review of Guantnamo detention into a virtual rubber stamp.''
His record on free speech is less atrocious than his reverence for authoritarian war powers, protecting government corruption and violence, and denying justice to citizens and non-citizens alike. Nonetheless, he has been known to side with suppressing speech on some occasions. As the ACLU report explains:
His jurisprudence suggests that, where the precedent is clear, he faithfully applies the law. Where the case law offers ambiguity, however, he has shown a willingness to restrict speech rights.
With regard to government spying, in Klayman v. Obama in 2015, he disturbingly said the ''suspicionless mass collection of Americans' call records is 'entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment.''' Further, he said: ''The Government's collection of telephony metadata from a third party such as a telecommunications service provider is not considered a search under the Fourth Amendment'''--and that even if bulk collection did constitute a search, such searches are totally reasonable.
He is also supportive of America's growing police state. In the 2007 ruling United States v. Askew, he sided in favor of police stop-and-frisk tactics, another violation of the 4th amendment. In another broad show of support of police powers, he endorses qualified immunity, which is used to exempt ''government officials from liability for constitutional rights violations where their actions are not clearly unconstitutional.'' This concept has been used by the Supreme Court to let a police officer who shot a woman in her own yard off the hook, setting further precedents to prevent police accountability. Though he opposes ''absolute immunity,'' his support for a concept that already limits government responsibility is troublesome on its own '' and is consistent with rulings regarding the government's war powers.
The national conversation about Kavanaugh is obsessively focused on sexual harassment allegations and his views on traditional partisan divides like women's rights and healthcare. While these are not unimportant issues, it is painfully telling that few are concerned about the exact same issues both the left and right agree upon that amount to verifiable harassment '-- by the government against the American people and victims of his war machine.
Will Congress be questioning Kavanaugh on mass surveillance? Doubtful, considering they continue to pass legislation to enable it. Will they question him about his endorsement of unrestrained executive and legislative war powers? Again, doubtful given their unrelenting warmongering and commitment to spending taxpayer dollars on their crumbling empire. As Congress continues to violate the people's rights while feigning concern for their well-being'--and as the media routinely fails to inform the public of these incremental erosion of their freedoms and liberties, it's no surprise the country at large remains unconcerned about Kavanaugh's authoritarian record on war powers and surveillance or his dubious commitment to free speech and holding domestic law enforcement accountable.
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Why Are So Many People Talking About The Potential For A Stock Market Crash In October? | Zero Hedge
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 11:33
Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,
It is that time of the year again. Every year, people start talking about a possible stock market crash in October, because everyone remembers the historic crashes that took place in October 1987 and October 2008. Could we witness a similar stock market crash in October 2018?
Without a doubt, the market is primed for another crash. Stock valuations have been in crazytown territory for a very long time, and financial chaos has already begun to erupt in emerging markets all over the globe. When the stock market does collapse, it won't exactly be a surprise. And a lot of people out there are pointing to October for historical reasons. I did not know this, but it turns out that the month with the most market volatility since the Dow was first established has been the month of October'...
The difference is quite significant, as judged by a measure of volatility known as the standard deviation: For all Octobers since 1896, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was created, the standard deviation of the Dow's daily changes has been 1.44%. That compares to 1.05% for all months other than October.
Like me, you are probably tempted to think that the reason why October's number is so high is because of what happened in 1987 and 2008.
But even if you pull out those two months, October is still the most volatile'...
You might think that this difference is caused by a few outliers, such as the 1987 crash (which, of course, occurred in October) or 2008 (the Dow suffered several thousand-point plunges that month as it reacted to the snowballing financial crisis). But you would be wrong: The standard deviation of daily Dow changes is much higher in October than other months even if we eliminate 1987 and 2008 from the sample.
Once we get to Thanksgiving, the market tends to get sleepy, and it usually doesn't wake up again until the new year begins.
So if something big is going to happen in the market in 2018, it is probably going to happen in the coming weeks.
And it is inevitable that something big will happen at some point. As Jesse Colombo has pointed out, stocks are more overvalued right now than they were just before the great stock market crash of 1929'...
In a bubble, the stock market becomes overpriced relative to its underlying fundamentals such as earnings, revenues, assets, book value, etc. The current bubble cycle is no different: the U.S. stock market is as overvalued as it was at major generational peaks. According to the cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (a smoothed price-to-earnings ratio), the U.S. stock market is more overvalued than it was in 1929, right before the stock market crash and Great Depression
It is becoming increasingly obvious what we are heading for, and a growing chorus of market experts are issuing ominous declarations about this market.
For example, David Tice is warning that ''we're getting closer to a meltdown scenario'''...
According to investor David Tice, who made a name for himself in running the Prudent Bear Fund before selling it to Federated Investors in 2008, the current market is dangerous. Tice was quoted as saying he's ''nervous'' because ''we're getting closer to a meltdown scenario.''
And John Hussman ultimately expects ''two-thirds of market capitalization'' to vanish'...
I am aware of no plausible conditions under which current extremes are likely to work out well for investors. There are a few possibilities that could involve a smaller loss than the two-thirds of market capitalization that I expect to vanish, as the run-of-the-mill, baseline expectation for the S&P 500 over the completion of this cycle. Yet it's worth recognizing that the completion of every market cycle in history has taken the most reliable valuation measures we identify (those best correlated with actual subsequent S&P 500 market returns) to less than half of current levels.
Could you imagine the chaos that would be unleashed if the stock market went down by two-thirds?
That would make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.
And there are a lot of parallels between what happened in 2008 and what is happening today. For example, the housing market is slowing down dramatically just like it did a decade ago. The following comes from a Bloomberg article that I came across earlier today entitled ''Builders Slump as U.S. Housing Market Shifts to the Slow Lane'''...
The housing market is stalling, and homebuilder stocks are feeling the pain.
The S&P Supercomposite Homebuilding Index is down 21 percent year-to-date, on track for the biggest annual drop since 2008, when it fell 32 percent. That's even with tax cuts, unemployment near the lowest since 1969 and a real-estate developer in the White House. What gives?
Just a few days ago, I wrote an entire article about the fact that home sellers are cutting prices at the fastest rate that we have seen in eight years. The housing market is clearly telling us that a big time economic slowdown is coming, but most people are not listening.
Switching gears, we have also recently learned that it looks like Ford Motor Company will soon be laying off lots of workers'...
Ford Motor employees are warily awaiting details of CEO Jim Hackett's promised ''fitness'' plan and the serious possibility of significant job losses as the company faces pressure to improve its operations.
The company has warned of $11 billion in restructuring costs over three to five years, which could mean thousands of worker buyouts, according to analysts.
Why would they be doing that if the economy really was in ''good shape''?
And let us not forget about the ongoing woes of the retail industry. Recently, I was astounded to learn that a whopping 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant'...
''When you walk the streets, you see vacancies on every block in all five boroughs, rich or poor areas '-- even on Madison Avenue, where you used to have to fight to get space,'' said Faith Hope Consolo, head of retail leasing for Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who said the increase in storefront vacancies in New York City had created ''the most challenging retail landscape in my 25 years in real estate.''
A survey conducted by Douglas Elliman found that about 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant, she said, compared with roughly 7 percent in 2016.
New York City is one of the few areas around the country that has actually been prospering.
If things are that bad there already, what does that say about the outlook for the rest of the nation?
The truth is that the economy is not nearly as good as you are being told, and things could literally start breaking loose at any moment.
Unfortunately, as a society we have not learned very much from history, and most Americans seem to think that this bubble of artificial prosperity is going to last indefinitely.
No-deal Brexit 'could lead to NI electricity blackouts' - BBC News
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 11:27
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Officials have also warned that there is a risk of price increases and supply shortages in the event of a no-deal. A no-deal Brexit could result in electricity blackouts across Northern Ireland, government officials have warned.
Officials are preparing a 'no deal' notice about the impacts on the all-island Single Electricity Market (SEM).
They have suggested there are risks of price increases and supply shortages.
Most experts have considered the SEM to be a relatively unproblematic part of Brexit.
The reason is that it is a UK-Ireland bilateral arrangement, rather than an EU arrangement.
It has been in place since 2007 and allows for a single market to operate across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
However, it is underpinned by the UK and Ireland's membership of the Internal Energy Market (IEM).
'Insecure, isolated NI market'All EU members participate in the IEM along with Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.
Participation requires alignment with EU rules including industrial emissions regulations and restrictions on state aid.
The work carried out by UK officials says the surest way to maintain the SEM is for continued UK participation in the IEM.
They suggest that in a no-deal Brexit, the SEM would, at best, continue but be at risk.
Image copyright Getty Images They raise an alternative possibility that it could split "leaving an insecure, isolated NI market".
That in turn could see bills in Northern Ireland rise by up to 34%, lead to blackouts and prompt government intervention.
Keeping the SEM operating "in any way possible" is described as a priority.
The officials suggest that even if there is no withdrawal deal, the government could seek a special deal with Ireland and the EU to keep the SEM operating.
But they cautioned that such an arrangement would not fully mitigate legal risks to the SEM.
It is understood that a formal "no deal notice" on the SEM will be published in the next few weeks.
A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the EU said the government does not comment on leaks.
The blackout warning was met with scepticism by DUP MP Ian Paisley, a Brexit supporter, who dismissed it on Twitter as "fake news".
Mr Paisely tweeted: "Don't forget planes falling out of the sky, food shortage, mass unemployment and pestilence!"
The DUP have been supporting the Conservative Party in a confidence and supply agreement since summer 2017.
Why You Should Never Pay For Podcast Hosting '' Nir Zicherman '' Medium
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 11:01
Photo by Austin Neill on UnsplashThanks to modern cloud services, the cost of storing and serving content on the internet is incredibly cheap in 2018. With a podcasting platform like Anchor, there is no need for podcasters to pay anymore. So why are traditional podcast companies still charging creators to host files like it's 2008?In my role as CTO and co-founder of Anchor, I've spent the past several years working to make sure that Anchor remains the easiest way to make a podcast ever. And, that it remain 100% free for creators. One of the questions I am often asked is ''How is Anchor free?'' Podcasters are accustomed to paying to host their podcasts, so why aren't we charging? What's the catch?
It's a great question, and my answer is usually a question, too: ''Why would you pay for podcast hosting?'' Or, ''Why aren't the other guys free?''
Many podcasts are hosted by a handful of traditional podcast companies that have been around for over a decade. At the time that these companies were founded, the cost of hosting podcasts on the internet was considerably more expensive. Since then, cloud storage and computing costs have plummeted, but the fees paid by podcasters have stayed the same (and in some instances have gone up, even when the companies' costs have gone down).
Back in the day, you would have had to pay to host video online. But you would never do that today (thanks to services like YouTube, Vimeo, Twitch, and plenty of other free video hosting platforms). Back in the day, you would have had to pay to store your photos online. But that outdated business model has virtually disappeared thanks to platforms like Google Photos, Instagram, Imgur, and others. At Anchor, we believe the notion of charging creators to host their content online is antiquated and unfair. And above all else, it serves as a barrier that prevents the podcasting ecosystem from growing and becoming more diverse, because it limits it to only those voices who can afford to pay.
For almost every single podcast Anchor hosts, the cost to us is less than 10 cents per month. That means that hosting your podcast for an entire year costs Anchor around one dollar. If Anchor were to charge you $10 per month for file storage and basic analytics, we would either be grossly exaggerating our costs, or grossly overpaying our vendors.
Anchor benefits greatly from economies of scale. The easier we make it for everyone to make podcasts, the closer to zero we can drive the average price of hosting everyone's podcasts. Our per-user costs drop every time we reach a new growth milestone, and will continue to do so. This is because the incremental price of variable costs (like hosting) go down the more we host, and the static costs (like servers) are split as tiny fractions among the many podcasts on Anchor.
People may ask ''So if you're not making money off of me to host'... what's your business model?'' We are not in the business of charging you, the podcaster. We want to work with you to help you make money off your podcast, in which case we all win. And that 10 cents per month to host your podcast becomes a negligible cost compared to the revenue we can all earn together as we advance the medium of podcasting together.
Anchor has a singular mission, and that is to democratize audio. Democratization means making it possible for anyone to start a podcast, regardless of experience level, location, socio-economic status, or anything else. But it means more than just enabling anyone to create podcasts. It also means enabling podcasters to create value from their work and ultimately make money off of their podcasts.
Very soon, Anchor will roll out a suite of rich monetization features unlike anything that has ever existed in podcasting. All podcasters, from those with massive followings to those who are just starting out, will be able to make money off of their work. Anchor will share in the revenue in a way that will always be transparent, fair to the creator, and competitive in the market.
We don't want a podcaster to ever pay for hosting again. We believe real change in this space is long overdue, and we can't wait to show you what we're working on.
Brexit: What happens next? - BBC News
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 07:58
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Media caption Theresa May: "I will not overturn result of the referendum"Theresa May has warned that the Brexit negotiations are at an impasse and there will be no progress until the EU treats her proposals seriously.
She has accused EU leaders of showing the UK a lack of respect after they rebuffed her Chequers plan at the Salzburg summit without, she said, any alternative or explanation.
With the clock counting down to the UK's scheduled exit on 29 March 2019, where does this latest row leave the chances of a deal and what could happen next in the Brexit process?
Beyond SalzburgMrs May has said the two sides remain "a long way" apart on the crucial issues of how the UK will trade with the EU after Brexit and the future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
She reiterated again her belief that her Chequers blueprint was the only way of properly implementing Brexit and also ensuring a "deep and special partnership" with the EU in the future.
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Your guide to Brexit jargonThe PM has also rejected the two options put on the table by the EU - a Norway-style association agreement and a much looser relationship based on Canada's trade deal with the EU.
For its part, the EU has said the Chequers plan is unworkable as it fragments the single market.
The next few weeks will be crucial if these differences are to be resolved and the two sides are to fulfil their shared aim of an orderly Brexit and an outline agreement on trade, security and other issues.
The Conservative conference (30 September) Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Boris Johnson quit over the Chequers plan and has since criticised it relentlessly Mrs May has suffered plenty of Brexit setbacks in the past and soldiered but many of her own MPs don't think she is going about the process of leaving the EU the right way.
The number of Tories who say they won't vote for the Chequers plan seems to be growing by the day and, remember, any deal she negotiates with the EU has to get through Parliament.
There is enormous pressure from the Brexiteer-wing of the party for her to rip up Chequers and throw her weight behind an enhanced version of Canada's 2016 deal with the EU.
The so-called Canada Plus Plus option, which removes most customs duties on goods but without paying for access to the single market, is backed by Boris Johnson, David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg, among others, who believe the UK Parliament will vote for it.
Many Conservative Remainers, like former minister Justine Greening, have also lost faith in Chequers and think there should be a referendum (more of that later) while some Tories think the UK may well end up in a temporary European Economic Area-style arrangement, sometimes called the Norway option.
This would mean accepting the free movement of people and the indirect recognition of European Court of Justice rulings - but would allow businesses access to the EU single market, with some strings attached.
Amid speculation about further cabinet resignations if she persists with Chequers, calls for the PM to think again are likely to reach a crescendo at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
If the PM does not shift on the substance of her Chequers plan, expect much frenzied talk of leadership challenges.
Decision time in Europe (November) Image copyright AFP Image caption Will the French president give Brexit the thumbs-up? Salzburg may have caused a dust-up but it hasn't changed the underlying reality that both sides want as amicable a divorce as possible.
Some Tory MPs favour a clean break with the EU, which would see the UK fall back on its membership of the World Trade Organization, the global body governing international trade, but they are in a minority.
Both sides are ramping up talk of no-deal contingency planning.
But they also know that such an outcome would be seen as a political failure and a disaster for business - particularly as the 21-month transition period planned after Brexit day would be scrapped.
A summit on 18-19 October of EU leaders was, for a long time, pencilled in as the moment that the two sides would have to look each other in the eye and reach a deal.
However, this is not now seen as feasible and the focus is on a special one-off summit that has been arranged for mid-November.
An agreement then, the thinking goes, would still allow enough time for the UK and European Parliaments and a supermajority of European states - that's 20 out of 27 - to ratify any deal before the 29 March deadline.
So, the clock is ticking but the EU is renowned for finalising deals at the 11th hour and it wouldn't be the first time the talks have seemed on the brink of collapse only for a deal to be pulled out of the fire.
The Parliamentary showdown (December-February) If she brings a deal back from Brussels, Theresa May has another big hurdle to negotiate. She must persuade Parliament to back it, in a vote likely before the end of the year or in early 2019.
Tory Brexiteers opposed to Chequers have suggested up to 80 MPs would be prepared to vote against it.
Although we don't know what the final deal will look like and the size of any rebellion would, in all likelihood, be much smaller, even a dozen Conservatives defying the leadership would risk defeat for the PM, with her non-existent Commons majority.
The opposition parties are unlikely to come to the PM's aid, with Labour saying any deal is unlikely to pass its six tests guaranteeing workers' rights and all the "benefits" of the single market and customs union.
The Labour leadership is hoping to inflict a defeat as a way of triggering a general election.
Brexit Day, another referendum or general election? (2019) Image copyright Reuters Image caption Some Leave campaigners are bracing themselves for another referendum It is written into law that the UK will be leaving at 23:00 GMT on 29 March 2019, two years to the day after the government notified the EU of its intention to quit, by triggering Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty.
But if there is no deal or Parliament rejects the deal, we are in uncharted territory and it is impossible to say with any certainty what will happen next.
Mrs May has insisted the 2016 referendum result will not be overturned but if Parliament cannot agree on what kind of Brexit it wants, a fresh public vote might yet end up being the only way to break the deadlock.
But how could this happen?
Should Mrs May lose a vote on her deal, she could conceivably resign and her successor may use his or her new mandate to seek Commons approval for a vote on another referendum.
Alternatively, MPs who back a so-called People's Vote - which include the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Plaid Cymru as well as a growing number of Labour MPs - could seek to table a backbench amendment to the legislation that has been promised to implement the UK's withdrawal.
With most Tories, so far, publicly opposed to a referendum, any vote is likely to be extremely tight.
Either way, Parliament would then need to pass enabling legislation, similar to the 2015 European Referendum Act, setting out the date of the poll, the question and the franchise, as well as other details.
As it stands, if no deal has been agreed by 21 January 2019, ministers will be required to make a statement to Parliament about the next steps. This could trigger the mother of parliamentary battles over Brexit.
Some European leaders believe Brexit can be halted but unless Mrs May or her successor and the other 27 nations agree to extend the two-year Article 50 process beyond 29 March, this cannot legally happen.
Critics say there won't be enough time while there is also another stumbling block in that those who back a vote do not all agree on what question should be asked on the ballot paper.
While the People's Vote campaign wants the option to remain, the Labour leadership has said it should be on the terms of the deal - in other words between leaving with Mrs May's deal or no deal.
What Labour really wants is a general election so it can take over the negotiations. It is only after 29 March that discussions about future co-operation - including a trade deal - will really begin in earnest.
Brussels to name square after murdered MP Jo Cox
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 07:42
Image caption Jo Cox was killed in 2016 by neo-Nazi Thomas Mair A square in Brussels is to be named after murdered Labour MP Jo Cox.
The square in the centre of the city is close to the Ancienne Belgique concert venue that Mrs Cox regularly attended when she lived and worked in Belgium.
Thursday's naming ceremony will be led by the Mayor of Brussels and be attended by members of the MP's family.
Mrs Cox, 41, was killed in 2016 by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair, in Birstall, West Yorkshire, part of her Batley and Spen constituency.
Her sister Kim Leadbeater said the family was "honoured that the city of Brussels has chosen to remember Jo in this way".
"She had many happy times living there and made some deep and long lasting friendships," she added.
"We visited her on several occasions and have many heart-warming memories of seeing how much she enjoyed being there.
"To know that she will have a permanent place where she, and the values she stood by, can be remembered is a comfort and an honour and I would like to thank everyone involved."
Image copyright Google Image caption The square backs on to the Ancienne Belgique concert hall Mrs Cox worked in the Belgian capital for two years as an assistant to the former MEP Glenys Kinnock.
She was included by the city of Brussels on a list of "illustrious women" who will have squares, streets and buildings named after them as part of the city's plans for female and male equality.
In November, a street in the town of Avallon in France was named after Mrs Cox.
On the first anniversary of her death, Mrs Cox was remembered in the Commons with a plaque bearing her coat of arms and the phrase "more in common".
The phrase came from her maiden House of Commons speech as an MP in 2015 when Mrs Cox said: "While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us."
Statement On The AI In Government Act Of 2018
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 02:41
Washington, DC '' Internet Association Director of Diversity and Inclusion Policy Sean Perryman issued the following statement upon the introduction of the AI in Government Act of 2018:
''The internet industry commends Senators Gardner and Schatz for their leadership in sponsoring the AI in Government Act. This bill assembles experts from the private and public sector to ensure artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies are used responsibly, while still allowing for future innovation.''
###
Germany wishes to sell its Eurohawk to Canada
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 02:33
The Associated Press is reporting that Germany wants to sell its sole Eurohawk unmanned aerial vehicle to Canada.
Remarks by Hassan Rohani to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, by Hassan Rohani
Thu, 27 Sep 2018 00:02
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
''Praise be to God, the Lord of the universe and Peace and Blessings be upon the Messenger of God and his Family and Companions''
Madam President,
I take this opportunity to felicitate your election to the presidency of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
We have assembled here today as the world is suffering from the recklessness and disregard of some states for international values and institutions. The message of our presence here is that the preservation of interests and security in the world in the least costly manner is solely possible through the cooperation of, and coordination among, countries. However, it is unfortunate that we are witnessing rulers in the world who think they can secure their interests better'--or at least in the short-term ride public sentiments and gain popular support'--through the fomenting of extremist nationalism and racism, and though xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition, as well as through the trampling of global rules and undermining international institutions; even through preposterous and abnormal acts such as convening a high-level meeting of the Security Council.
This illusion should be cast away, once and for all, that one can aspire to securing more peace and security at the cost of denying others' peace and security. We should not allow the breathing space for and growth of the line of thinking that holds others to ransom through the artificial creation of insecurity. Along this tack, confronting multilateralism is not a sign of strength; rather it is a symptom of the weakness of intellect'--it betrays an inability in understanding a complex and interconnected world.
Under such circumstances, negligence or inefficacy of international institutions can endanger world peace. Those seeking dominance and hegemony are enemies of peace and the perpetrators of war.
The government of the United States'--at least the current administration'--seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual. This government, having withdrawn from a multilateral agreement adopted by the Security Council, in contravention of the rules and norms of international law, invites the Islamic Republic of Iran to bilateral talks. An administration that is inviting Iran to engage in talks is not ready to consult its own experts nor willing to recognize the requirements of a modern state, including the paramount principle of continuity of state responsibility, and hence openly violates state obligations undertaken by its predecessor.
On what basis and criteria can we enter into an agreement with an administration misbehaving such as this? Any talks should be within the framework and in continuation of the JCPOA and Security Council resolution 2231, and not in a framework of breaching them and reverting to the past. It is ironic that the US government does not even conceal its plan for overthrowing the same government it invites to talks!
Distinguished Colleagues,
The approach of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of foreign policy has been based on multilateralism and compliance with the recognized principles of international law. Our respect for the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the long and difficult negotiations with the Group of 5+1, which led to the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action'--the JCPOA'--illustrates a clear manifestation of this approach.
We are pleased that the international community did not acquiesce to the US government's unilateral and illegal withdrawal from the JCPOA, and adopted a categorical position vis- -vis that decision. The JCPOA is the outcome of more than a decade of diplomatic efforts and a period of intensive negotiations to resolve an artificial crisis. This document was unanimously approved by Security Council resolution 2231 and codified into an international obligation. According to this resolution, all countries and international and regional organizations were called upon to support the implementation of the JCPOA, and to refrain from any actions that undermine implementation of commitments under the JCPOA..
Based on 12 consecutive reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency '' the IAEA '' Iran has thus far complied with all of its commitments. However, the United States, from the very beginning, never remained faithful to its obligations. Later, the current administration, resorting to flimsy excuses and in open violation of its commitments, finally withdrew from the accord. The United Nations should not allow its decisions to fall victim to the domestic election and propaganda games of some of its members, and should not allow any Member State to dodge the execution of its international commitments.
Additionally, the United States also pressures other countries to violate the nuclear accord. And more dangerously, the United States is threatening all countries and international organizations with punishment if they comply with Security Council resolution 2231. It is the first time in the history of the United Nations that such 'a general invitation to violation of law' is coupled with 'threatening law-abiders with punishment.' This is not just peculiar to the JCPOA, but a pattern that even applies to the US approach to the International Criminal Court.
We appreciate the efforts of the international community, the European Union, Russia, and China in supporting the implementation of the JCPOA and consider the full realization of the commitments stipulated in it a precondition for the survival of this significant accomplishment of diplomacy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Unlawful unilateral sanctions in themselves constitute a form of economic terrorism and a breach of the 'Right to Development.' The economic war that the United States has initiated under the rubric of new sanctions not only targets the Iranian people but also entails harmful repercussions for the people of other countries, and that war has caused a disruption in the state of global trade.
The Iranian people have demonstrated their unwavering resilience during the past forty years despite the difficulties and constraints caused by sanctions, and have shown that they can overcome this difficult phase as well. The multi-millennial history of our country demonstrates that Iran and Iranians have never broken in the face of a storm of events'--not even been bowed. I state here, in clear, unambiguous terms, that the United States policy vis- -vis the Islamic Republic of Iran has been wrong from the beginning, and its approach of resisting the wishes of the Iranian people as manifested in numerous elections is doomed to failure. Iran, with its historical and civilizational longevity, rich cultural heritage, and foremost geopolitical position, is an undeniable reality. The policy of engagement and cooperation with Iran has produced positive outcomes for other nations, as best reflected in Iran's cooperation with friendly countries in the fight against terrorism.
The United States' understanding of international relations is authoritarian. In its estimation, might makes right. Its understanding of power, not of legal and legitimate authority, is reflected in bullying and imposition. No state and nation can be brought to the negotiating table by force, and if so, what follows is the accumulation in the 'grapes of wrath' of those nations, to be reaped later by the oppressors.
We concur that, at the end of the day, there is no better way but dialogue. However, dialogue is two-way: it should be based on equality, justice, and human integrity and honor, and conducted in accordance with the rules and norms of international law. UN Security Council resolution 2231 is not a 'piece of paper'. We invite you to return to that Council resolution. We invite you to come back to the negotiating table you left. If you dislike the JCPOA because it is the legacy of your domestic political rivals, then we invite you to come back to the Security Council resolution. We invite you to remain in the international institutions. Do not engage in imposing sanctions. Sanctions and extremism are two sides of the same coin: Extremism involves negating the thinking of others, and sanctions negate the life and prosperity of people.
For dialogue to take place, there is no need for a photo opportunity. The two sides can listen to each other right here in this Assembly. I am starting the dialogue right here, and state'--in unequivocal terms'--that the question of international security is not a toy in American domestic politics. The United Nations is not a part of the United States administration. Dialogue can resume in this Assembly from the same point and by the same person who left the dialogue table, and walked away from the accord. Beginning the dialogue starts with ending threats and unjust sanctions that negate the principles of ethics and international law.
Our proposal is clear: commitment for commitment; violation for violation; threat for threat; and step for step, instead of talk for talk.
What Iran says is clear: no war, no sanctions, no threats, no bullying; just acting according to the law and the fulfillment of obligations. We support peace and democracy in the entire Middle East. We consider nuclear knowledge an imperative and nuclear weapons prohibited.
As victims of terrorism in the past and today, we have always been and will always remain in the forefront of genuine confrontation with terrorism. Today, we mourn the martyrdom of tens of innocent people, who were recently murdered in cold blood by terrorists who shamelessly accepted responsibility from a number of Western capitals for their heinous crime in interviews with some Western-based broadcasting outfits that are financed by petrodollars. In Iran we have condemned all acts of terrorism without equivocation and will continue to do so. We welcome the strong statement from the Security Council on this issue. But why can the leaders of these terrorist operations '' including the organization that has publicly claimed responsibility for Saturday's crime'--live and operate freely in Western countries, and even openly solicit funds? Are these activities not in violation of international counter-terrorism norms? Why have the official State-financiers of anti-Iranian terrorist organizations ''with their record of financing Al-Qaeda, ISIS and al Nusrah'--not only been spared any punishment but are supported and armed? If you want the world public to take your claim of fighting terrorism seriously, it is imperative to start a joint global campaign to fight this scourge, irrespective of the victims or culprits.
Distinguished Colleagues
In the same vein, from the very beginning of the crisis in Syria, we have warned against any foreign intervention in the internal affairs of this country and the use of unlawful means, including supporting extremist and terrorist groups in order to exert pressure on the government of Syria, and have consistently emphasized that the crisis can only be resolved through intra-Syrian dialogue. To this end, the presence of our military advisors in Syria has been at the request of the Syrian government and consistent with international law, and has aimed at assisting the Syrian government in combatting extremist terrorism. Iran, Russia, and Turkey, in cooperation with the government of Syria and other Syrian parties, have succeeded through the Astana Process, the third summit meeting of which took place in Tehran earlier this month, in playing a positive role in reducing tension in Syria, and in their last common effort have prevented escalation and bloodshed in the Idlib region.
We have witnessed a tragic humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen over the past three years which has caused the destruction of infrastructure, the killing and injury of hundreds of thousands, the displacement of millions of innocent people, and the occurrence of widespread famine and chronic diseases. These inhuman acts represent clear examples of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The crisis in Yemen can be resolved solely through intra-Yemeni talks and without foreign interference. And to this end, we are ready to assist in any possible way.
The most pressing crisis in the Middle East, however, is the question of Palestine. The passage of time cannot '' and must not ''justify occupation. The innumerable crimes of Israel against the Palestinians would not have been possible without the material and military assistance, and political and propaganda support of the United States. Israel, equipped with a nuclear arsenal and blatantly threatening others with nuclear annihilation, presents the most daunting threat to regional and global peace and stability.
The abhorrent U.S. decision to transfer its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and the recent enactment of the racist Jewish State law are violations of international law and norms, and unmistakable manifestations of apartheid.
Madam President,
The expansion of relations with neighbors and the creation of a more secure and more developed region are among the main priorities of Iran's foreign policy. A few weeks ago Iran, along with the other four coastal states, signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, which will strengthen good-neighborliness and bring prosperity and progress for all of the coastal states. We also desire the same relations with our southern neighbors in the Persian Gulf. We believe in the formation of a collective mechanism for the Persian Gulf region with the presence and participation of all regional countries. The security of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz has always been important for us, and just as we defended this security during the war imposed on us by Iraq, we will confront any and all disruptive efforts in this critical waterway in the future.
We espouse a peaceful view in political and international issues and have not sought, nor do we seek, war with any country. Iran does not need an empire. Iran is an empire in terms of its civilization and its culture; not through political domination.
Iran has served as the link between east and west and will continue to do so; remaining a meticulous guardian for a world free from violence.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is the same state that understood the fascistic nature of the Ba'athist regime in Iraq before anyone else in the world, and bravely resisted its aggression against us. We fought against the Ba'ath Party of Iraq before Kuwait was occupied by it.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is the same state that was on the forefront of the struggle against Taliban terrorism, and gave up martyrs in that struggle. We fought against Al-Qaida and the Taliban before the attacks on New York and Washington.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is the same state that fought against Daesh '' a fake, distorted representation of Islam. We were engaged in the fight against Daesh before their operations in Paris, London and Brussels.
Appreciate these historical realities about Iran. Quit imposing sanctions and end extremism. The world will not have a better friend than Iran, if peace is what you seek.
I thank you for your attention.
BBC Misreports Trump's Words '' Replaces ''More'' With ''War''
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 23:51
Skip to contentUK network delivers catastrophic fake newsThe BBC tweeted a gross misrepresentation of President's Trump's words given during his UN speech by reporting Trump said ''war will follow'' rather than his actual words, ''more will follow.''
The UK network's world news Twitter account (@BBCWorld) sent the false message on Tuesday to its 24 million followers.
''Donald Trump tells UN General Assembly 'war will follow' after his decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran, who he accuses of 'slaughter in Syria and Yemen.''' reads the now deleted BBC tweet.
After another account acknowledged the gravity of what was reported, the BBC account issued a correction tweet that specified Trump's real words were ''more will follow'' as well as adding the hashtag ''#ourbad.''
We've issued a clarification: @realDonaldTrump's actual words appear to be ''more will follow''. #ourbad
'-- BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 25, 2018
The tweet was reportedly public for 20 hours before its deletion; a screenshot can be seen below.
Since then, the account did further damage control with an ''#honestmistake'' hashtag.
We've issued a clarification about @realdonaldTrump's words '' it was an #honestmistake
'-- BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 25, 2018
It should be noted that earlier this week Twitter asked actor James Woods to delete a satirical meme that the social media giant feared had the ''potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election.''
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Ex-Google Employee Urges Lawmakers to Take On Company - The New York Times
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 23:50
Image Google's chief privacy officer is set to testify on Wednesday before a congressional committee about the company's approach to data protection. Credit Credit Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO '-- Google is facing increased scrutiny by lawmakers in Washington over its size and influence. Now, a research scientist who recently resigned from the company in protest is urging them on.
In a harshly worded letter sent this week, the former employee, Jack Poulson, criticized Google's handling of a project to build a version of its search engine that would be acceptable to the government of China. He said the project was a ''catastrophic failure of the internal privacy review process.''
He said lawmakers should increase transparency and oversight of the company and technology industry, saying that there is a ''broad pattern of unaccountable decision making.''
Dr. Poulson left the company after news articles revealed the existence of the project last month. It was first reported on by the Intercept news site.
Google's chief privacy officer, Keith Enright, testified on Wednesday before a congressional committee about the company's approach to data protection. Executives from Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Twitter and Charter Communications also appeared at the hearing.
Dr. Poulson said the Chinese project, called Dragonfly, had several ''disturbing components.'' A prototype, he said, would allow a partner company in China to view a person's search history based on his or her phone number. He said the project also censored an extensive list of subjects that included information about air quality and China's president, Xi Jinping.
He also pointed lawmakers to commitments Google made as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011. Google, among other requirements, must submit to regular privacy audits and follow a comprehensive privacy program under the settlement. The privacy program includes reviews of all Google products for privacy issues before they are released.
Image Google on Monday released a framework for privacy legislation. Credit Pau Barrena/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images Google's privacy reviewers are assigned to analyze Google code and make sure it does not violate user privacy. But after Dragonfly became public, several reviewers said they had signed off on sections of code for Dragonfly without fully understanding the project or its privacy implications, according to two people familiar with the process. The people would speak only on the condition of anonymity to protect their relationships at the company.
The reviewers, they said, felt that pertinent information about Dragonfly's code had been withheld from them, and raised questions about the review process that went unanswered.
In his testimony on Wednesday, Mr. Enright said Google was not close to releasing a search product in China.
''If we were, in fact, to finalize a plan to launch a search product in China, my team would be actively engaged,'' he said. ''Our privacy and security controls would be followed, and any such project or product would follow and be consistent with our values in privacy and data protection.''
Google on Monday released a framework for privacy legislation that describes to lawmakers how the company views its role in data protection.
''Innovative uses of data shouldn't be presumptively unlawful just because they are unprecedented, but organizations must account for and mitigate potential harms,'' the framework says. ''This includes taking particular care with sensitive information that can pose a significant risk. To enable organizations to develop effective mitigations, regulators should be clear about what constitutes a harm.''
In a blog post, Mr. Enright said the company supported comprehensive regulation on privacy. Google has also recently increased its privacy efforts, forming a team dedicated to privacy and data protection.
Google left China in 2010, denouncing government censorship. That year the company also said it had discovered that Chinese hackers had attacked the company's corporate infrastructure.
''It should be pretty obvious that they should be asked what changed between 2010 and today,'' said Cynthia Wong, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.
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Demolishing the California Dream: How San Francisco Planned Its Own Housing Crisis | Collectors Weekly
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 23:35
If you want to understand San Francisco's self-inflicted housing crisis, look no further than the city's very first zoning law, commonly known as the Cubic Air Ordinance, which set a disturbing standard for the city's eventual missteps. Proposed in 1870, during a time of rampant real-estate speculation in a boomtown renowned for its lawlessness, the new law required boarding houses to offer a minimum amount of space per tenant. Officials claimed this would promote safer housing and improve residents' quality of life, a noble cause for government intervention.
But the law's true purpose'--to criminalize Chinese renters and landlords so their jobs and living space could be reclaimed for San Francisco's white residents'--set an ominous precedent. With the Cubic Air Ordinance, city leaders laid the groundwork for 150 years of exclusionary zoning or land-use policy designed to protect the status quo, rather than responsibly manage growth. Often fueled by racism and greed, the dark history of San Francisco urban planning is a story that's still being told, its latest chapter being the city's current housing crisis.
''The underlying use of zoning to segregate people and income levels is undeniable. It was part of the original intent.''
For visitors and locals alike, part of San Francisco's allure is its seeming incongruity: Victorian houses perch on hills near glass skyscrapers, antique cable cars clank up the same streets where new technologies debut. Few realize how profoundly the city's physical form has been shaped by its planning department, whose best intentions have been overshadowed by efforts to appease the city's wealthy, well-connected homeowners.
''It is no accident that land is called real estate,'' Kenneth T. Jackson wrote in his influential 1985 book Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanziation of the United States. ''For many centuries, ownership of land has been not just the main but often the only basis of power.'' This power was on full display earlier this year, during the debate over California Senate Bill 827, which would have ''upzoned'' or raised height limits near frequent transit stops. Many neighborhood groups, city councils, and politicians decried the loss of ''local control'''-- ''local'' being a positive, vaguely artisanal-sounding buzzword used by city progressives who derided the bill as a ''one-size-fits-all'' solution that would hurt low-income residents.
However, American cities have consistently asserted so-called ''local control'' to increase inequality, establishing exclusionary zoning laws to prevent the construction of denser multifamily housing, redevelop low-income neighborhoods, and push poorer residents from their communities. In San Francisco, residents have exploited ''local control'' to make development as difficult as possible by lowering building-height limits, expanding zoning regulation, and increasing the veto power of homeowners. These privileged neighbors have often appropriated low-income residents' fears of gentrification and eviction to block any new housing, despite the fact that studies have repeatedly shown that in markets with high demand, adding housing of any kind typically helps decrease displacement.
Top: A Victorian-era home is bulldozed for the Western Addition urban-renewal project during the 1960s. Image via the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. Above: This 1853 map of San Francisco by the U. S. Coast Survey shows the city grid spreading outward from its port, with larger blocks south of Market Street. Via Wikimedia. (Click to enlarge.)
During the 19th century, city leaders had no qualms comparing Chinese boarders to filthy hogs in order to bolster their arguments against urban tenements; in recent years, objections to dense housing are made palatable by speaking of increased traffic or the loss of ''neighborhood character.'' So it's somehow fitting our national housing crisis would peak in San Francisco, since the city was one of the first to introduce this idea of ''local control,'' via land-use zoning, more than 100 years ago.
San Francisco's first street grid, encompassing 12 blocks around the nascent port, was laid out by Swiss sea captain Jean Jacques Vioget in 1839 when California was still governed by Mexico. After the community, then known as Yerba Buena, was occupied by American forces and became San Francisco in 1847, the new alcalde or mayor commissioned Jasper O'Farrell to create a new city survey. O'Farrell slightly corrected the North-South Vioget street grid, establishing regular lots around 46 yards wide with their southern boundary at a new wide boulevard called Market Street, extending perpendicular from the wharf all the way to the hills of Twin Peaks.
South of Market Street'--known as SoMa today'--was given a separate grid with wider blocks around 92 yards each and streets running parallel to Market and the previously established route to Mission Dolores, now named Mission Street. Though no zoning regulations were established with these surveys, SoMa's extra-long blocks of marshland, which were less desirable than the more stable ground north of Market, eventually became the default location for industrial uses like manufacturing, wholesale distribution, and warehousing.
A 1905 photograph of the area along San Francisco's Islais Creek where slaughterhouses were forced to relocate. Image via the Port of San Francisco.
However, the push to legally separate noxious pollution from San Francisco's residential and business districts led to one of the country's earliest attempts to restrict land usage: In the 1850s, city leaders created a new licensing system for slaughterhouses that forced these businesses to relocate south of Harrison Street in SoMa, with additional regulations in 1864 pushing hog yards and slaughterhouses even further south to Islais Creek.
A few years later, in 1870, San Francisco leaders passed Order 939 Regulating Lodging Houses, also known as the Cubic Air Ordinance, at the urging of anti-Chinese labor groups that formed in response to the Gold Rush immigration boom. The new law required 500 cubic feet of space per occupant of any lodging room in the city, but it was only enforced in areas housing mostly Chinese residents, resulting in hundreds of arrests.
The cover of March 2, 1878, edition of the San Francisco Illustrated Wasp mocks the enforcement of the Cubic Air Ordinance. (Click to enlarge.)
As an editorial cartoon at the time pointed out, the city's jails were often more crowded than legally allowed, but since the purpose was to punish those of Chinese descent, nobody at City Hall cared about the hypocrisy. ''The whole point of this law was to criminalize Chinese poverty,'' says Devin McCutchen, a historian who's done extensive research on the San Francisco Planning Department and helped write its Centennial Brochure.
In the 1880s, the city made further attempts to regulate building types, ostensibly mitigating the hazards of public laundry facilities. Such laundries were banned from all wooden buildings or residential neighborhoods without the express consent of the Board of Supervisors (known in most places as the city council). However, the city's unequal enforcement revealed these laws as blatantly racist attempts to purge Chinese-owned laundries from San Francisco. ''These 19th-century stories are really telling because, on one hand, you have this idea about the desire to rationalize the use of space and to make life more pleasant for people,'' McCutchen says. ''But on the flip side, you have the Cubic Air and Laundry Ordinances, which are all about testing the waters for using laws about the built environment in order to penalize people and to dictate the whims of the ruling class.''
With its 1886 decision in Yick Wo v. Hopkins, the U.S. Supreme Court found one of the laundry ordinances to be discriminatory towards Chinese business owners, violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and struck it down. (Eventually, this precedent would be used for many major civil rights rulings in the 20th century.) But the larger idea'--that city laws could regulate land use and building design'--was here to stay.
This ''Official Map of Chinatown'' detailing neighborhood vices was part of an 1885 report called ''On the Condition of the Chinese Quarter,'' published by a special committee established by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
A few decades later, San Francisco had a rare opportunity in the aftermath of a horrific disaster'--the near-total destruction of its downtown neighborhoods by the 1906 earthquake and fire. City leaders would have the chance to rebuild the city from the ground up, imposing more order and better regulations than during the haphazard boom days of the Gold Rush. However, in their haste to get San Francisco functioning again and utilize millions of dollars in insurance claims, grandiose plans to reshape the city's neighborhoods were forgotten, including Daniel Burnham's 1905 neoclassical master-plan. (In fact, little was done to even strengthen seismic standards or fire codes to ensure San Francisco wouldn't experience a repeat of the 1906 disaster.) In 1909, the city adopted a new building code that required building inspections after construction was completed, but the development process was essentially unchanged'--as long as the design met these codes, a property owner could build it, regardless of height or aesthetics.
More than 28,000 of San Francisco's buildings were destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, but the city was rebuilt without major rezoning. Via Wikimedia. (Click to enlarge.)
Meanwhile, other municipalities were already giving their governments more power to regulate the built environment. In 1908, Los Angeles passed the country's first citywide ordinances establishing separate residential and industrial zones to prevent the pollution of manufacturing from dirtying neighborhoods where people lived. Though challenged, the Supreme Court would find in favor of Los Angeles' land-use regulation in 1915. The following year, the Supreme Court also upheld a city's rights to implement height restrictions in the Boston case of Welch v. Swasey, clearing the way for future zoning plans limiting a property's size.
From there, cities across the country began working to pass laws that would keep industrial and commercial development, as well as lower-income residents, out of particular neighborhoods. New York City holds the distinction of creating the country's first comprehensive zoning plan, which was released in 1916. It codified limits on building size in order to allow daylight and fresh air to reach the streets and sidewalks below.
City officials wanted to spare the outer boroughs from what they viewed as failures of regulation in Manhattan: The oversupply of office space, dark canyon-like streets, crowded tenement buildings, and a generally unstable real-estate market. In addition to requiring stepbacks, meaning a building had to recede gradually from its lot line after a certain height, the 1916 ordinance also outlined separate areas for residential and commercial buildings.
Editorials were already bemoaning San Francisco's complicated building regulations in 1901, as in this San Francisco Chronicle article. '''... San Francisco overreaches herself in providing barriers to a builder, and where legal obstacles are not imposed there are enough special regulations to baffle a lawyer.'' (Click to enlarge.)
Meanwhile, the 1906 earthquake had inspired San Francisco's leaders to begin thinking about the bigger picture and how they might encourage some activities in particular neighborhoods, whether governmental, office, industrial, nightlife, residential, or retail. Eric Fischer'--a San Francisco software developer, cartographer, and urban-planning aficionado who has pored over archives about the city's planning department'--says the devastation of San Francisco's City Hall and government buildings prompted city leaders to consider the benefits of a more organized Civic Center. ''Somebody needed to make decisions about where it should be and what other government buildings should be near it,'' Fischer says, ''so they decided we needed a planning commission.''
Voters approved an amendment in 1912 that gave the Board of Supervisors the power to appoint a commission to ''devise plans for the improvement and beautification of San Francisco.'' The mayor and city supervisors were loath to give up their authority over development, so when the four-member commission was finally appointed in 1917, the group had no staff or budget to craft a citywide zoning map. ''The immediate power they had was to make a zoning code,'' Fisher says, ''which would have the ability to regulate types of buildings and building setbacks,'' meaning the distance a building must be from the public right-of-way. Business-oriented groups like the San Francisco Real Estate Board, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Commonwealth Club used their influence to support citywide zoning, particularly for the ways that it could improve property values by separating different types of land use and expanding residential development.
This 1912 advertisement for the forthcoming Forest Hill neighborhood emphasizes the development's restrictive code, which included racial covenants to prevent people of color from moving in.
By 1920, the commission had completed a draft of its new zoning ordinance, establishing six major land-use categories: 1st and 2nd Residential, Light and Heavy Industrial, Commercial, and an Unrestricted category. On the face of it, the new zoning was created with a Progressive Era ideology that government should curb the ills of industrialization and improve life for its citizens.
''In theory, zoning was designed to protect the interests of all citizens by limiting land speculation and congestion,'' Kenneth T. Jackson writes in Crabgrass Frontier. ''In actuality, zoning was a device to keep poor people and obnoxious industries out of affluent areas. And in time, it also became a cudgel used by suburban areas to whack the central city.'' Jackson points out that the most strident advocates of stronger land-use restrictions lived in suburban districts on the city's fringe, a tradition that continues to this day. ''They sought minimum lot and setback requirements [regulations that drive up the cost of housing] to ensure that only members of acceptable social classes could settle in their privileged sanctuaries.''
This map and article published in the April 19, 1921, San Francisco Chronicle outlines the citywide zoning, with only the most elite neighborhoods receiving the lowest-density designation. (Click to enlarge.)
How did politicians justify this new regulation to the public? ''The cleaned-up version was to keep the nuisances separated and segregated from homes in the name of public safety,'' says Amit Ghosh, former director of the San Francisco Planning Department. ''But the underlying use of zoning to segregate people and income levels is undeniable. It was part of the original intent.'' While provisions excluding particular races from all residential-only zones were removed from the final version of the 1920 zoning ordinance to get around discrimination laws, the planning commission publicly acknowledged that some areas were designated residential-only as a way to prevent Japanese-owned businesses from moving in or expanding, since Japanese shops were viewed as a threat to white-owned businesses in the Fillmore area.
An excerpt from the August 24, 1921, Board of Supervisors meeting, wherein speakers urge the city to apply residential zoning so they can prevent Japanese residents from moving or opening businesses there. Via archive.org.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court had declared racially biased zoning unconstitutional in 1917, private developers and homeowners could legally establish segregated neighborhoods by inserting racist ownership requirements into their building deeds, known as ''racially restrictive covenants.'' Ghosh explains that while these weren't municipal laws, they were overlooked by city officials. ''They were not explicit city codes, but they were operational,'' Ghosh says. ''They were recognized by the banks and the people who made loans, and I believe the police looked the other way, although they were not within the city's expressed public codes.'' These racial covenants were also reinforced by the prejudice of surrounding property owners, real-estate boards, and neighborhood associations, and would eventually be upheld by a 1926 Supreme Court decision.
When San Francisco's first zoning ordinance passed in 1921, it essentially mirrored the previously established development of San Francisco. The planning commission's vision for future growth would ideally raise property values via land speculation'--particularly on the undeveloped southern and western edges of the city'--so they zoned these undeveloped areas to accommodate ''desirable'' new residents. ''It basically said, from the get-go, the direction the city needs to take with its remaining undeveloped land is a suburban one,'' McCutchen says.
As Fischer explains, the commission wanted to establish areas for single-family homes where there were no apartments; places for apartments where there was no commerce; and places for commerce where there weren't any industrial buildings. Though the 1st Residential zone included density limits, allowing only single-family homes, no other districts had limitations on building size or height. ''The magnitude of differences that were allowed within each of these categories was just mind-boggling and huge by the standard of anything that followed,'' Fischer says. ''If you had a property with a corner store on it, there was absolutely nothing to stop you from building an apartment building on that site, or for that matter, a 20-story skyscraper.''
By the time this photo was taken, in 1928, the Sunset or Parkside district was being transformed from sand dunes into a suburban neighborhood of single family homes'--for whites only, of course. Via the Western Neighborhoods Project.
In 1928, the commission finally established height limits of 40 feet for parts of the city's wealthiest enclaves'--the Marina, Pacific Heights, and Presidio Heights. That same year, the San Francisco Planning Commission gained additional power through a charter amendment, which included provisions for hiring a city planning engineer, posting neighborhood-development notices, and crafting the first citywide general plan. But the commission's increased power did not mean more protection for city's disadvantaged residents.
''In actuality, zoning was a device to keep poor people and obnoxious industries out of affluent areas.''
According to Marc Weiss' 1988 article in Planning Perspectives, ''working class areas, despite all the rhetoric about 'protecting the whole city' used to justify the legality of zoning, got very little protection.'' Moneyed landowners continued to sway the commission's opinions on zoning issues: While land-use was strictly enforced in wealthier residential areas and the downtown financial center, Weiss explains, the Board of Supervisors often granted zoning changes in other neighborhoods at the request of a property owner, ''so long as it was accompanied by appropriate private compensation.''
During the 1930s, following years of debate over allowing gas stations in the residential zones of western neighborhoods, the Board of Supervisors granted the planning commission a new power, eventually dubbed ''conditional use authorizations.'' This meant the commission could approve projects that didn't meet the established zoning code, depending on the ''character of the improvements which will be placed on said property.'' In other words, the commissioners could be even more subjective about projects that fell outside existing zoning laws.
Over the next decade, the San Francisco government gained further authority over planning and redeveloping portions of the city to reflect a more modern, car-centric vision. In 1942, the city formally created the planning department and hired its first director, L. Deming Tilton, whose prior planning experience was a perfect fit, since it mostly entailed suburban, auto-friendly development. At the time, a growing movement of Modernist architects and planners promoted a thorough rethinking of city design, which focused on rational plans to maximize efficiency. Groups like Telesis and the San Francisco Housing Association (SFPHA), pushed for the redevelopment of entire neighborhoods'--whose residents were not consulted'--in order to erase poverty and blight.
Under Tilton's guidance, San Francisco finally created the long-awaited general plan, which was released in 1945 and envisioned the city as a machine with many older parts needing replacement, an idea heavily influenced by Telesis and other similar organizations. Those ''blighted'' parts the plan identified just so happened to be the working-class neighborhoods mostly populated by people of color: the Western Addition, South of Market, Chinatown, the Mission, and the Bayview-Hunter's Point. According to the planning department's Centennial Brochure, ''The implications were that 'blight' stood in the way of progress, that it could spread, and that it needed to be removed before it killed the city. It was a deeply political term firmly rooted in structural racism, which relied on fears of white flight and urban disinvestment to justify the wholesale removal of communities of color.'' Notably, the replacements for such ''slums'' were apartments, rather than the suburban, single-family homes reserved for San Francisco's white residents.
Coincidentally, California also passed the Community Redevelopment Act in 1945, which let cities establish their own agencies to rebuild impoverished neighborhoods, often using eminent domain if property owners refused to sell. Though ostensibly separate organizations with different goals, the planning department worked in tandem with the city's new Redevelopment Agency. ''If you look at the 1945 General Plan for San Francisco, there's a whole section indicating areas of blight, and that designation was a prerequisite for initiating redevelopment,'' McCutchen says. ''They were working together, clearly.''
A brochure entitled ''New City: San Francisco Redeveloped'' published by the planning commission in 1947, which outlines plans to redevelop the Western Addition neighborhood and replace it with a more upscale new community. Via archive.org.
During this time, many of San Francisco's low-rise residential districts were still contractually limited to white residents; even affluent celebrities like Willie Mays were rejected from purchasing homes because of their skin color. If an African American family did find a homeowner willing to sell them a property, they often couldn't get a loan because the federal government and private banks had refused to back most loans to people of color since the Great Depression.
In 1934, as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was established to insure private mortgages. The FHA's underwriting handbook included guidelines that pushed cities to create racially segregated neighborhoods and encouraged banks to avoid areas with ''inharmonious racial groups,'' essentially meaning any neighborhood that wasn't exclusively white. Meanwhile, the federally sponsored Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) had been set up to help homeowners refinance their home loans in an attempt to stop the spread of foreclosures, a widespread problem during the Great Depression. However, recipients of these low-interest, long-term loans were typically chosen based on HOLC's residential ''safety maps,'' which divided neighborhoods in four categories: Green indicated the most desirable areas for lenders; blue was good; yellow was supposedly in decline; and red marked the riskiest areas. As HOLC's racist literature explained, besides containing older building stock, red districts were under ''threat of infiltration of foreign-born, negro, or lower grade population.''
This 1937 Residential Security Map of San Francisco made by HOLC shows how certain neighborhoods were ''redlined'' in order to deny residents home loans. Via the University of Maryland's T-RACES project.
The FHA endorsed this process, known today as ''redlining,'' as a legal way for private lenders to deny home loans'--America's primary way of building financial security'--to people of color and other working-class Americans. (Redlining was officially outlawed with the Fair Housing Act of 1968, but the damage was already widespread, and the impact of withholding financial support to entire neighborhoods lasts to this day.)
While the federal government was assisting white families in seeking the ''American dream'' of homeownership, it was conspiring to deny the same opportunities to people of color. On a local level, San Francisco leaders engineered the destruction of the city's thriving African American community by forcibly evicting residents and businesses in the name of urban renewal, knowing full well they wouldn't be able to relocate in the city's other central neighborhoods.
The cover of the November 14, 1957, issue of the San Francisco Chronicle featured the racist rejection of Willie and Marghuerite Mays' attempt to buy a home in the city.
In its own documentation regarding the Western Addition redevelopment project, the city acknowledged that the overhaul would raise housing costs and displace most of the area's original residents, without providing any immediate solutions for housing them, which is exactly what happened. Due to funding delays and other issues, many city blocks remained vacant for more than a decade, devastating this once-vital urban neighborhood.
A 1963 article on the project from the San Francisco Chronicle captured the callous attitude toward the plight of poorer residents, stating: ''Many of those displaced felt bitter at having ceded their sleazy homes to make way for smart new modern dwellings too expensive for them.'' The story also quoted Redevelopment Director Justin Herman, who made it clear he valued the project's economic benefits over the humans being displaced: ''How else can we restore long-suffering business districts to healthy economic ways of conducting business, with adequate facilities and parking arrangements?''
A vacant lot along Geary Boulevard in the Western Addition during the redevelopment process in the 1960s. Via the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.
Although the planning department clashed with politicians, residents, and developers throughout the 1950s over how to accommodate the city's postwar population boom, which delayed a new zoning plan for more than a decade, its powers had also been steadily expanded. One major change occurred in 1954, after a developer proposed a motel in the Sunset district. The Shriners Hospital across the street objected, explaining that current law allowed hotels in the neighborhood, but motels hadn't been included in the 1920s code. In response, the city attorney advised the planning commission that the city had ''supreme control'' to issue building permits and could use its own discretion to decide whether projects were compliant.
''The party with the most power is usually, in this society, the party with the most money.''
Though the attorney called this ''a sensitive discretion and one which must be exercised with the utmost restraint,'' the decision was monumental, giving the commission increasingly subjective power to interpret the zoning code and laying the groundwork for ''discretionary review'' hearings on any project. As one commissioner who disagreed with the change said at the time, ''all anyone will have to do is dredge up some feeble-minded citizen to oppose, and we will sit for a full-dress hearing.'' And that's precisely what happened: The absence of ''by-right'' approval meant that even if a project met all zoning requirements, anyone with enough time and money could pay to appeal the development and attempt to trigger a discretionary-review hearing, which often added months or years of delays to the approval process.
''Almost everything now has a discretionary review, and that's a terrible thing,'' former San Francisco Planning Director Allan Jacobs explained to McCutchen for the San Francisco Public Library's oral history of the department. ''One of the things I found out over time about discretionary review is if there is a disagreement, the force or the party that usually gets its way is the party with the most power. The party with the most power is usually, in this society, the party with the most money.''
However, many citizens were rightfully growing frustrated with the department's actions, particularly decisions to bulldoze thriving neighborhoods to better serve suburban commuters. Beginning in the 1940s, the planning department had drafted citywide traffic plans that featured a network of freeways crisscrossing several neighborhoods, including parts of Golden Gate Park. Many residents were not happy to see their communities wrecked by these enormous elevated freeways, and in 1959, citizen activists presented the Board of Supervisors with a petition with more than 30,000 signatures demanding for most of these projects to be halted.
The Comprehensive Trafficways Plan from 1948 shows how city planners hoped to bulldoze many neighborhoods in order to make driving easier for car commuters. (Click to enlarge.)
''This fear that change was being directed by some powerful external forces came to a head as the freeways started to completely rupture neighborhoods,'' Ghosh says. ''These big new planning ideas'--about accommodating cars and street space, moving people here and there and everywhere, filling up the bay, and doubling the size of places like Sausalito'--all those things came together, and people said 'Look, this juggernaut needs to be stopped.''' In a major victory for community organizers, the Board of Supervisors halted work on the Embarcadero Freeway in 1959, simultaneously cancelling several other planned freeway projects that had not yet begun construction. (Damage to the elevated Embarcadero Freeway during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake hastened its demise, and the 1.2 mile stub was finally torn down in the early 1990s.) ''Once citizens succeeded in stopping the freeways, that confirmed the power of the people in a place like San Francisco,'' Ghosh says.
The new grass-roots groups pushing back against unlimited development also included a growing coalition of environmentalists. ''Environmentalism, in its early phase, was a really big tent,'' McCutchen says. ''You had a definition of environmentalism that included open-space preservation, the preservation of views, and the preservation of natural, wild systems. But historic preservation was also seen as an environmental issue. Creating laws to restrict the explosion of advertising signs around on the city, that was an environmental concern.''
Residents protesting the Southern Freeway project at San Francisco's City Hall in the late 1950s. Via the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
The city finally approved a new and highly detailed zoning code in 1960, which catered to white-flight fantasies of the era by encouraging single-family homes in the newer, mostly white neighborhoods around the city's fringe while allowing relatively unlimited growth in the downtown core. Fischer believes the larger motivation behind the 1960 code came from national politics, ''this idea that there was an urban crisis and we need to rebuild our cities'--to tear down whole neighborhoods and build them anew,'' he says. Amid hand-wringing over the unrest of the Civil Rights Movement and fears of inner-city crime, federal policies in the 1950s and '60s supported redevelopment, but prevented urban centers like San Francisco from receiving funds without explicit rules for future construction. ''If they did tear down whole neighborhoods but new neighborhoods weren't carefully zoned, they would just get new anarchy replacing the old anarchy,'' Fischer says, ''and they did not want anarchy. They wanted precise, detailed planning.''
In 1962, the planning commission passed the Sign Ordinance, which limited the placement of advertising and billboards to protect San Francisco's appearance, which showed the growing power of neighborhood coalitions over the wealthy developers and businesses that had dominated the planning process in previous decades. During the late 1960s, San Francisco also adopted ordinances allowing the designation of historic buildings and districts, just as hundreds of Victorian-era structures were being demolished by the city's Redevelopment Agency in the Western Addition neighborhood. The city also released its first Housing Inventory Report around this time, using computers to try and simulate future growth.
House movers relocating Victorian-era homes from the Western Addition neighborhood to clear lots for the city's redevelopment project. Photograph by Dave Glass via flickr, 1977.
Meanwhile, environmental demands were also seeping into statewide development policies: In 1970, the state passed the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, which mandated that developers create an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for projects requiring discretionary approval, and in 1973, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors established its own code to implement the law. The result was even greater public input and potential appeals than ever before, beginning with the landmark case Friends of Mammoth v. Board of Supervisors of Mono County in 1972. Friends of Mammoth filed the suit to challenge Mono County's approval of a condominium project in the Mammoth Lakes area and won, thus expanding CEQA's coverage to include private projects ''for which a government permit or other entitlement for use is necessary.''
Fischer points out that while discretionary review gave the San Francisco Planning Commission the power to keep projects in limbo, CEQA lawsuits were something anyone could file. ''In the pre-CEQA regime, if you wanted to protest a project, you had to persuade the planning commission that they should review it,'' he says, ''whereas with CEQA, anybody can directly challenge it.''
Ghosh agrees that the environmental law was often twisted to stop growth of any kind by tying up building projects in the slow-moving court system. ''CEQA was a well-intentioned, publicly motivated piece of legislation,'' he says. ''But once the process was laid out, a whole industry of lawyers and environmental activists developed around it, making the process more arcane. In the end, CEQA became a tool to just stop development. If there is one change that I would like to see made right now, it would be to take the courts out of CEQA.''
As the threat of litigation became a new constant, the San Francisco Planning Department slowly began to craft a new approach to development. The city's 1971 Urban Design Plan was the first to codify the shift in values from the Modernist freeway-and-tower model toward a greater respect for San Francisco's unique neighborhoods and their human-scale features. The plan focused on preserving and expanding existing neighborhood character, and was influenced by a coalition of environmentalists, affordable-housing advocates, and preservation groups who recognized the power of zoning to limit change, for better or worse. For example, its guidelines for building size suggested that new development should mirror the ''height and character of existing development.'' Notably, many of the plan's proposals to increase livability, such as greening public spaces and improving street safety, mostly omitted the city's densest, lower-income neighborhoods like the Tenderloin, Chinatown, and South of Market.
A map from San Francisco's 1971 Urban Design Plan showing low-density development covering a vast majority of the city. Via archive.org.
However, the plan also identified 11 areas for taller residential buildings, which local activists immediately fought as the ''Manhattanization'' of San Francisco. In the face of these criticisms, the department revised its plan after a series of public hearings, resulting in the removal of these high-rise zones.
But the largest legislative achievement of this emerging anti-growth coalition would be the Residential Rezoning of 1978, a project to implement stricter controls across all of San Francisco's neighborhoods. In addition to creating 40-foot building-height limits for most residential areas, the legislation included new setback rules (regulating how far a building could be from the public right-of-way), low-density requirements (limiting the number of housing units in a given building), and overall design guidelines aimed at preserving entire neighborhoods in amber. The decision to adopt these new limits included a lengthy EIR and public-hearing process, featuring speakers both for and against such exclusionary zoning. For example, several homeowners echoed the sentiments of Ms. Marie Potz, who said she was perfectly happy with her street's height limit being lowered after someone had built ''a huge three-story monstrosity.'' Potz made the unfounded claim that there was no housing shortage and asserted that the city had overproduced apartments. ''What we need,'' she said, ''is more single-family houses.''
San Franciscans were already shocked at the skyrocketing prices for homes in the city during the 1970s, as seen with an article titled ''Mondo Condo'' from the April 23, 1978, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.
In sharp contrast to these kinds of aesthetic complaints, many residents, homeowner associations, and community groups spoke forcefully against the rezoning and the inevitable rise in housing prices at a time when San Francisco was already short on affordable housing. Ed Lawson, representing the Richmond District Council, said the zoning was too restrictive and would harm low-income residents the most. Jerry Horowitz of the San Francisco Planners Network explained that the rising cost of housing was already changing the makeup of neighborhoods. ''While well-prepared groups concerned with preserving the character of their neighborhoods have had their demands for lower densities heard, low-income residents have lacked the organization to speak up for their own housing needs,'' he said. Jenny Lew of the Chinatown Neighborhood Improvement Resources Center pointed out that the EIR didn't investigate the impact of rezoning on the city's low-income households, and lamented the use of discretionary review to stop low- and moderate-income housing from being built, a process that continues to play out today. ''These delays only succeed in encumbering massive cost increases, often threatening, if not destroying, the entire economic feasibility of a project even before it gets through the review process,'' Lew explained.
Sam Schneider, a building-design engineer, said the legislation would increase the cost of construction and the tighter rental market would create hardships for the elderly and others with limited income. ''Let's remember that this shortage of new housing has an effect on rents of all housing, such that all housing rents must go up,'' Schneider said. Quentin Kopp, Supervisor for the West Portal neighborhood, was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle calling the proposal a ''disaster'' for contributing to the existing housing shortage and pricing the middle class out of the city.
A view of San Francisco's low-density Sunset neighborhood looking toward the Pacific Ocean, circa 1950s. Via the Western Neighborhoods Project.
The planning department's own EIR estimated that the zoning changes would eliminate around 180,000 legally buildable units from the city, or about a one-third drop in the city's potential for growth. In July of 1978, the San Francisco Chronicle also reported that even Rai Okamoto, director of the planning department, had reservations about downzoning the city, echoing fears that it would raise housing costs and force middle-income residents out of San Francisco.
It's clear that many San Franciscans were well aware this rezoning would lead the city toward a housing crisis. The planning commissioners, however, were not moved. Their testimony throughout the hearings made it clear they valued maintaining the city's predominately suburban layout over affordability. In response to a homeowner who was unhappy that his property would be downzoned to allow fewer units, commissioner Sue Bierman gave a quintessential anti-growth response'--countering that San Franciscans were concerned about parking, traffic, and sunlight reaching their backyards, embracing a shift toward zoning that would preserve ''more comfortable neighborhoods.'' Instead of listening to those folks worried about becoming homeless, the commissioners focused on the single-family homeowners worried about shadows on their yards and parking for their cars.
An article from the San Francisco Chronicle on September 19, 1978, reporting on the adoption of the new citywide zoning.
In the final minutes of the June 27, 1978, meeting, San Francisco's planning commissioners prepared to approve the EIR, along with its damning final clause, which explained that the project would reduce the amount of housing that could legally be built in San Francisco. ''As a result the cost of housing may increase, and that with increasing housing costs, some population groups may find it difficult to live in San Francisco. The proposed zoning will affect the low- and moderate-income households more than any other group and mitigation measures are proposed to help alleviate this impact.''
But commissioner Bierman said she was ''troubled'' by this statement, and commissioner Nakashima agreed, complaining that it wasn't the solely the planning department's fault if housing prices continued to rise. Commissioner Rosenblatt suggested removing the clause entirely'--and that's exactly what they did, erasing their acknowledgement of the plan's disastrous effects from the document moments before approving it.
To make a bad decision worse, the 1978 rezoning was adopted less than a month after California voters had passed Proposition 13, a now-infamous law that fixed property taxes at the 1976 rate with yearly inflation of no more than 2 percent, along with a reassessment whenever a property changed hands at 1 percent of the new sale price. Prop. 13 further incentivized homeowners to remain in their homes as long as possible, to oppose new housing construction so their own property value would increase, and to pass their property tax breaks onto their children rather than sell their homes.
The June 19, 1978, cover of TIME magazine featured Howard Jarvis, who led the campaign for Proposition 13.
San Francisco's new zoning left most of the city restricted to buildings under 40 feet in height with no more than three residential units allowed. The legislation also gave implicit support to homeowners seeking to block construction of apartment buildings, even if they were allowed under existing zoning. Just as Kenneth T. Jackson explained in Crabgrass Frontier, yet again, ''zoning was used by the people who already lived within the arbitrary boundaries of a community as a method of keeping everyone else out. Apartments, factories, and 'blight,' euphemisms for blacks and people of limited means, were rigidly excluded.''
As a result, new residential development began creeping into the city's industrial zones, particularly South of Market, replacing vacant lots, warehouses, and factories with new apartments. ''Wherever they found the dirtiest land, they would build housing because that was the cheapest,'' Ghosh says. These areas mostly lacked parks, schools, grocery stores, transit, and other infrastructure needed to support this growth'--a legacy that neighborhoods like SoMa and Mission Bay are still grappling with today'--but they were the primary areas where dense construction was legally permitted. ''We were plunking people down to live in terrible industrial areas with no human services,'' Ghosh adds.
A cartoon satirizing the 1980s development boom in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood created by the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR).
The zoning changes also encouraged a wave of smaller buildings in low-density residential areas that maximized the size limits on each lot. These generic boxy buildings came to be known as ''Richmond specials,'' after the neighborhood they frequently appeared in, and were seen as an ugly scourge by their neighbors, who used public appeals to try and halt them. ''Every project became a discretionary review,'' says Ghosh. ''And based on that, we said, 'Look, we need to make rules for what's acceptable so the building would be permitted without question.''' But even after adjusting the regulations, San Francisco residents and the planning commission continued to abuse the power of discretionary review. ''People were coming and arguing about their petunias being shaded by somebody's deck,'' Ghosh says. ''So the planning commission began taking this type of appeal, invariably invoking discretionary review.''
''The Ultimate Highrise'' was published in 1971 by the San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper to support growth restrictions on the city's downtown development. Via archive.org. (Click to enlarge.)
Even as major developers focused their efforts on building office and hotel towers downtown, many San Franciscans worried this growth would displace those who lived nearby in the city's few affordable, mixed-use, and high-density neighborhoods. Besides the Western Addition redevelopment, city leaders were working to demolish blocks of low-income housing near the Embarcadero and in South of Market's ''skid row'' to construct market-rate apartments, offices, hotels, a convention center, and a sports stadium.
Both of these areas were eventually redeveloped, but the public battle between evicted elderly residents of the International Hotel and their corporate landlords crystallized the resistance to urban renewal projects and the grassroots support of slow-growth policies. During the 1970s and '80s, activists like Alvin Duskin and the city's alternative newspaper, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, pushed for ballot initiatives that would limit construction heights downtown and stop the expansion of the city's high-rise district. Though these initiatives failed, they did convince city leaders to implement more restrictions on commercial development, including a cap on the annual growth of office space beginning with its 1985 Downtown Plan.
One neighborhood that managed to fend off dramatic gentrification and stabilize many lower-income residents while retaining its dense, mixed-use character was the Tenderloin. After three high-rise tourist hotels were planned for the neighborhood's border with Union Square in 1980, activists managed to convince the city to establish new zoning controls that would retain the area's residential buildings and limit new growth to between 8 and 13 stories. In contrast to the suburban downzoning of wealthier neighborhoods, the Tenderloin's residential density was prioritized in order to maintain affordability.
Coverage of San Francisco's new downtown plan in the July 28, 1985, edition of the ''New York Times.''
Soon after, nonprofits like the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation began buying up land and buildings to keep more than a quarter of the area's housing permanently affordable, and the city passed legislation to prevent the destruction of single-room occupancy hotels, or SROs. (Sometimes called ''residential hotels,'' these buildings typically include very small studio apartments with shared bathrooms and kitchens.) The battle with tourist-hotel developers also led to some of the city's first ''community-benefit laws,'' or those requiring funding for neighborhood needs, with a percentage of hotel-room rates going toward the city's affordable housing fund.
''The Tenderloin rezoning was done to take action against the encroachment of downtown into our valuable stock of residential units,'' Ghosh says. ''In the following few years, the Downtown Plan was adopted, which included a very powerful tool, the transfer of development rights, to direct new growth to where we wanted it to occur. We didn't want the impact of growth to destroy the precious fabric of San Francisco.'' In response to such citizen-led pushback, the planning department began working to establish new public-benefit requirements for downtown development, such as providing public art, building privately-managed public open space, constructing new housing in correlation with job growth, and preserving historic buildings. The department's work with the Tenderloin and its Downtown Plan showed how zoning could help stabilize low-income residents and protect vital, mixed-use neighborhoods.
Protestors block the police department from forcibly evicting tenants of the International Hotel in 1977. Via Wikimedia. (Click to enlarge.)
Yet the preservation of low-income housing in the Tenderloin did not lead to a citywide embrace of apartment buildings, particularly in the city's protectionist suburban enclaves. In the 1980s, the planning department began developing specific neighborhood plans for several mixed-use districts to help preserve affordable housing and a diverse mix of small businesses. Since then, most of the city's neighborhoods have received detailed plans for the future, though unfortunately, vocal homeowners have often succeeded at codifying anti-growth goals in these plans. ''Density was demonized, and we need to stop that,'' Ghosh explains. ''Density is a good thing for the city. You have to have density in order to provide diversity, and not just diversity of people'--it's also the diversity of urban amenities that should be accessible to people.''
Many beloved historic apartment buildings throughout San Francisco's residential neighborhoods would be illegal under today's zoning limitations, since the planning department has prioritized space for single-family homes versus multifamily housing affordable to working-class residents. ''The 1960 code basically still stands,'' Fischer says. ''There have been a lot of changes in detail, but the structure of it is still present.''
As part of the 1978 rezoning that limited new housing in most residential areas, the planning commission made several recommendations for ways to counteract this constraint on growth'--such as consolidating the review and permitting process, particularly for subsidized or affordable projects'--though most of these ideas still haven't been implemented 50 years later. In 2008, San Francisco's planning department finally began the process of reforming its discretionary review policies, but nearly a decade later, the proposals have not been adopted. (The department has since removed the details of these reforms from its website, and did not respond to requests for comment on its failure to implement them.)
Even small apartment buildings, like this one seen in 1951 on 20th Avenue in the Sunset, are no longer legal to build in most of San Francisco. Via the Western Neighborhoods Project.
''I don't think that the planning commission has ever given up any power over the course of its evolution,'' Fischer says. ''Discretionary review has been available since the 1940s, but it was something that only happened in especially egregious cases. You can no longer say that it's a 'rarely exercised power' because basically every project has a discretionary review.'' During interviews for the San Francisco Public Library's oral history of the planning department, several former staffers and department directors also bemoaned the use of discretionary review to block any new development, including projects that complied with current zoning.
Because of the recalcitrance of municipal leadership to take on San Francisco's absurd approvals process and its legacy of exclusionary zoning, California's state government has finally begun to preempt these problematic policies with laws designed to expedite the creation of new housing, like Scott Wiener's SB-35, which was adopted in 2017 and demands that cities actually meet their regional housing goals. The bill is a reminder that land-use laws can be a force for good, with zoning used to protect vulnerable residents from the fallout of profit-obsessed property owners.
''When I was first started doing this research a decade ago, I was really dissatisfied with the dominant narratives about planning and development policy in the Bay Area,'' McCutchen says. ''I felt like all we had were stories about these evil, rapacious developers who wanted to bulldoze neighborhoods and plow in the Bay and put freeways through every block. Then, there were these valiant neighborhood activists who fought for more humane values.
The Mercantile Building stands amid the redevelopment of the South of Market neighborhood's ''skid row'' in 1980. Photograph by Janet Delaney.
''I also find there's this new narrative coalescing in our current political moment,'' he continues, ''which basically says the environmentalists were self-serving, shortsighted, and fundamentally just didn't want to see change. It corrects flaws of the older narrative, but it also oversimplifies them and does it a disservice. Different waves of people have tried to reform the city, reacting in very rational ways to their present crises.''
In fact, many San Francisco residents who fought against multifamily buildings in the past have slowly come around to the disasters of endless sprawl and benefits of denser, walkable neighborhoods. As Alvin Duskin, the original face of San Francisco's battle against tall buildings, said in a 2009 interview with SFGate, ''We really didn't understand the consequences of mindless suburban sprawl. The environmental and psychological damage of spreading out like that is so severe '... the problem for planners is to raise the city's density without creating a destructive environment. We need cities for people, not cars.''
Demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway, which cut the city off from its famous waterfront, seen in 1991. Via Wikimedia.
Other anti-growth organizers regret the impact such suburban zoning has had on affordability and accessibility. Howard Strassner was a neighborhood organizer who helped craft the 1970s-era zoning that restricted new development on West Portal Avenue to a single story. From today's vantage point, Strassner recognizes the benefits of taller apartment buildings, particularly for older folks on fixed incomes who can't manage stairs and need apartments with elevators, calling the height limits he once advocated for ''silly'' in a 2016 interview with the San Francisco Examiner.
Still others admit that the city's omnipresent homeless crisis is inextricably linked to its failure to build enough dense housing on its scarce vacant property, while protecting huge swaths of single-family homes with astronomical values and artificially low property taxes. However, few of these former-activists have attempted to overturn the zoning that prevents two-thirds of San Francisco from adding apartment buildings.
Instead, anti-growth residents continue to sink development projects, ranging from an all affordable senior-housing complex to a downtown high-rise development that would cast a partial shadow over a condo building's courtyard pool. The city's planning department and planning commission (whose members are overwhelmingly homeowners in a majority-renter city) remain complicit in obstructing all kinds of new housing in order to preserve most of the city's neighborhoods exactly as they are, crisis be damned.
And yet, while many residents fight to maintain the San Francisco's exclusionary zoning, there are signs of a growing opposition, particularly among younger generations who've been almost entirely priced out of the market. The city's recently elected Mayor London Breed was endorsed by local Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) groups, in part because Breed supported Wiener's proposal to upzone neighborhoods near transit, regardless of opposition from homeowners. Major publications like the San Francisco Chronicle are using their voices to call for more housing construction and the removal of red tape. Local companies are even proposing to build their own multifamily housing developments to help ease the crisis for employees.
Despite the endless opposition to nearly any project, from the largest towers to the smallest bathroom renovation, Ghosh says that for him, the growing involvement of San Franciscans in the city's planning process did have a silver lining. ''As a bureaucrat in the planning department, I was always irked by community groups being a pain the butt,'' Ghosh says. ''But at the same time, that movement kept planners honest and gave us meaning in what we were doing. They made you strive for better things. In other places I've worked as a planner, nobody really cared what you did. But here, I felt like what we did mattered.''
Further reading on the history of urban planning in San Francisco:
Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanziation of the United States by Kenneth T. Jackson, 1985.''How Burrowing Owls Lead To Vomiting Anarchists (Or SF's Housing Crisis Explained)'' by Kim-Mai Cutler, TechCrunch, 2014.''How Urban Renewal Tried To Rebuild The Fillmore'' by Walter Thompson, Hoodline, 2016.''New City: San Francisco Redeveloped'' published by the San Francisco City Planning Commission, 1947.Records of the San Francisco Planning Commission meetings from 1978, via archive.org.''The Anti-Chinese Cubic Air Ordinance'' by Joshua S. Yang, The American Journal of Public Health, 2009.''The Real Estate Industry and the Politics of Zoning inSan Francisco, 1914-1928'' by Marc A. Weiss, Planning Perspectives, 1988.''Zoning's Next Century'' published by SPUR, 2017.
Las Vegas police report indicates Paddock was in two places at the same time - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 23:26
LAS VEGAS '-- The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Criminal Investigative Report on the October 1 mass casualty shooting that was released August 3 said that the report was derived from the LVMPD's preliminary investigative report that was released on January 18.
It goes on to say that the preliminary report remains accurate and in accordance with the final report and the report is meant to document facts as to what happened.
Keep in mind that this report is a criminal investigative report on the worst mass shooting in modern American history to date, the shooting that occurred on October 1, 2017 at the Route 91 Harvest music festival.
As a former criminal investigator when I read any investigative report and taking into consideration the magnitude of the October 1 tragedy, I would hope that the facts detailed in the LVMPD final report would purport with the corroborating evidence, in this case the lock interrogation report.
While analyzing the LVMPD report I discovered that there is a discrepancy with the timeline of Stephen Paddock's movements on September 28 and September 29, 2017 as documented in both the preliminary and final reports.
Both reports indicate that on September 28 at 2218 hours (10:18 p.m.), Paddock began gambling at Mandalay Bay and continued gambling into the next morning.
Under the September 29 heading it states that at 0543 hours (5:43 a.m.), Paddock stopped gambling, which he was doing continuously since the previous night.
Neither report indicates how the investigators arrived at this conclusion, but I can speculate that Paddock's movements must have been captured on Mandalay Bay casino video surveillance footage and/or player card activity while Paddock was on the machines. Regardless, both reports document that Paddock was in the casino gambling continuously from 10:18 p.m. on the night of September 28 into the morning hours of September 29 until 5:43 a.m..
The problem with the conclusion made by the police investigators is that it doesn't purport with the lock interrogation report that was attached to the LVMPD final report. In this case the lock interrogation report should corroborate what is documented in the final investigative report, but it doesn't.
When analyzing both the preliminary and final reports I focused on the timeline of Paddock's movements as documented in those police reports from Paddock's entire stay at the Mandalay Bay and compared the lock interrogation reports during the times the police said Paddock was out of his room. I wanted to see if there were any entries by Paddock's guest keycard while the police stated he was out of his room. Keep in mind that a hotel guest can have more than one keycard if requested.
Conclusion
Both the preliminary and final investigative reports state that Paddock gambled continuously in the Mandalay Bay casino from 10:18 PM on the night of September 28 thru 5:43 AM on September 29. Again, both reports state continuously.
The lock interrogation report for Paddock's suite, 32-135, indicates that at 10:02 PM on the night of September 28 the room door opened from the inside and then closed. Paddock probably left his room at this time and went to the casino to gamble which the police report states was at 10:18 PM.
The report states Paddock stopped gambling at 5:43 AM on September 29. The lock interrogation report indicates that his guest key accessed room 32-135 at 5:47 AM and the deadbolt was then engaged. We can assume he went to his room at this time.
Here is where we have a major discrepancy with what the police documented in both reports. While Paddock was gambling continuously in the casino, those are the words of the police, not mine, his room key accessed 32-135.
The lock interrogation report for 32-135 indicates the following:
9/29/2017 12:43 AM '' Guest card accepted. The door is opened. The door is closed. Dead bolt thrown.9/29/2017 12:57 AM '' The door is opened from the inside. Dead bolt released.9/29/2017 12:58 AM '' The door is closed. The door is opened from the inside. The door is closed.9/29/2017 1:30 AM '' The door is opened from the inside. The door is closed.9/29/2017 2:35 AM '' The door is opened from the inside. The door is closed.Based on the lock interrogation report I would have to ask how Paddock could have been in the casino gambling continuously and at the same time be accessing his room during a one-hour-and forty-five-minute period from 12:43 AM to 2:35 AM.
It could be that the police were careless and never examined the lock interrogation report that would have contradicted their investigative results and thus Paddock was not in the casino gambling continuously as they state, or it could be that someone else had possession of Paddock's key card and or a duplicate keycard and entered his room.
I have no way of determining which is correct, however this shouldn't be an issue when we are talking about the final criminal investigative report on the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
Statement On Final Passage Of The Music Modernization Act
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 21:04
Washington, DC '' IA President & CEO Michael Beckerman issued the following statement upon the final passage of the Music Modernization Act (H.R. 1551) (MMA) in the House of Representatives:
''The internet industry commends policymakers for passing the Music Modernization Act. This bill takes a process designed for player pianos and modernizes it for our digital music age. The MMA reflects the realities of our golden age of digital music. Streaming services provide immense benefits to those that create music and the fans that love to listen to it. The entire music ecosystem, from consumers, to songwriters and artists, to innovative music streaming platforms will benefit from this bill. We encourage President Trump to sign it quickly into law.''
###
George Soros Funded Fusion GPS, His Spokesman Confirms | The Daily Caller
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 20:40
A spokesman for left-wing billionaire financier George Soros is acknowledging that he indirectly funded Fusion GPS, the firm behind the Steele dossier Sources have told The Daily Caller News Foundation in the past that Soros helped fund Fusion's post-election work on Russian interference in the election process Soros' spokesman told The Washington Post that Soros donated to the Democracy Integrity Project, a group founded by a former staffer to Sen. Dianne Feinstein George Soros has indirectly funded Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm behind the infamous Steele dossier, a spokesman for the billionaire financier has acknowledged.
Michael Vachon, the Soros aide, told Washington Post columnist David Ignatius that Soros provided a grant to a nonprofit group called the Democracy Integrity Project.
That organization, which was formed in 2017 by Daniel Jones, a former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer for Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, paid Fusion GPS as a contractor to continue an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The Post column confirms what a Washington, D.C., lawyer named Adam Waldman told The Daily Caller News Foundation about a conversation he had with Jones in March 2017.
Waldman was an attorney for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. He also worked in some capacity for Christopher Steele, according to text messages he exchanged with Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel.
In what the Post's Ignatius noted was an ''incestuous'' relationship, Steele, a former MI6 officer, has done work for the Kremlin-linked Deripaska in the past.
Waldman told TheDCNF that Jones approached him on March 15, 2017 through text message asking to meet.
''Dan Jones here from the Democracy Integrity Project. Chris wanted us to connect,'' he wrote, seemingly referring to Steele. At a meeting two days later, Waldman said that Jones told him that he was working with Steele and Fusion GPS and that their project was being funded by Soros and a group of Silicon Valley billionaires. (RELATED: Lawyer Claims Soros Funded Fusion GPS)
Jones told the FBI in interviews in March 2017 that his organization was paid around $50 million by a group of billionaires to conduct the investigation.
Jones' statements to the FBI were first revealed in a report released by Republican members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on April 27.
''In late March 2017, Jones met with FBI regarding PQG, which he described as 'exposing foreign influence in Western election,''' reads the committee's report, referring to Jones' consulting firm, Penn Quarter Group.
''[Redacted] told FBI that PQG was being funded by 7 to 10 wealthy donors located primarily in New York and California, who provided approximately $50 million,'' the report continues. ''[Redacted] further stated that PQG had secured the services of Steele, his associate [redacted], and Fusion GPS to continue exposing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.''
Jones said that he ''planned to share the information he obtained with policymakers '... and with the press.'' He also offered to provide all materials to the FBI.
It is unclear what information Jones & Co. have provided to the media. But he did send text messages to Waldman linking to news articles that he claimed his team was behind.
''Our team helped with this,'' he wrote, linking to a March 17, 2017 Reuters article about Russians investing in Trump property in Florida.
Jones also sent Waldman a link to a March 20, 2017 article at McClatchy, which reported that federal investigators were looking into whether right-wing news sites like Breitbart and Infowars played a part in Russia's election-oriented cyber operations.
The article cited ''two sources familiar'' with the matter. The same McClatchy reporters, Greg Gordon and Peter Stone, relied on the same sourcing for other controversial stories about the Russia probe, including one report that special counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen traveled to Prague during the campaign, as alleged in the Steele dossier.
The same reporters also wrote a story on March 15 alleging that conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell expressed concerns about Russian funding of the National Rifle Association. Mitchell vehemently denied the report, noting that she was not an NRA lawyer during the campaign season, as McClatchy reported.
It has since been revealed that Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, provided similar information about Mitchell to Bruce Ohr, a Department of Justice official who served as a back channel between Steele and the FBI. Ohr's wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS on the anti-Trump project.
Vachon, the Soros spokesman, did not respond to TheDCNF's request for comment.
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Blockbuster Qualcomm lawsuit claims Apple stole modem tech and gave it to Intel - The Verge
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 15:18
Qualcomm says that Apple has been stealing its wireless technology for several years in order to eventually rid itself of the need to rely on Qualcomm components. Apple is alleged to have given Qualcomm's code to Intel, in order to boost Intel's modem speeds, which are known to be slower.
The claims come in the latest update to Qualcomm and Apple's blockbuster legal battle, which started close to two years ago with Apple claiming that Qualcomm was abusing its position as the dominant supplier of smartphone modems to demand unreasonable fees.
But now Qualcomm is trying to spin the suit back in Apple's face, and it claims to have good evidence. Having entered the lawsuit's discovery phase, Qualcomm says it's been able to view documents showing that Apple and Intel engineers shared Qualcomm's source code and other tools.
''Apple developed and carried out an intricate plan ... to steal vast swath's of Qualcomm's confidential information.''
''On information and belief, Apple developed and carried out an intricate plan, beginning at least several years ago and continuing through the present, to steal vast swaths of Qualcomm's confidential information and trade secrets and to use the information and technology to improve the performance of non-Qualcomm chipset solutions and, in conjunction, the performance of iPhones based on such non-Qualcomm chipset solutions,'' the complaint states.
Qualcomm initially made some of these claims last year, but they were much tamer at that point. Qualcomm had really just said that Apple failed to protect its secret code and had at some point shared it with Intel; now, Qualcomm claims, that discovery in the case shows Apple did this knowingly and continually.
The lawsuit says that, at one point, Intel's engineers even complained to Apple that they were unable to open secret Qualcomm files they had been sent. Apple's engineers are then said to have created new, viewable files for them using Qualcomm's own tools.
Qualcomm says this practice began ''at least several years ago'' and has continued through today. The company believes that Apple succeeded in stealing its technology and using it to improve the speeds in Intel's modems.
Qualcomm got a tip from an anonymous web posting
Apple declined to comment on today's specific allegations. A spokesperson instead pointed to the comment Apple issued in June 2017, saying that Qualcomm is ''taxing Apple's innovation'' and harming the entire industry. ''We've always been willing to pay a fair rate for standard technology used in our products and since they've refused to negotiate reasonable terms we're asking the courts for help,'' the statement says.
Apple had access to secret Qualcomm code because of a deal the two companies are said to have struck back in 2009. Apple wanted access to Qualcomm code so that it could integrate it more deeply into the iPhone, according to the filing. Qualcomm says it agreed, but with some conditions: that it only be used in products with Qualcomm chips, couldn't be shared with third parties, and would be robustly protected, in the same manner as Apple's own code.
According to the lawsuit, Qualcomm was also supposed to be allowed to audit Apple's security practices. Qualcomm claims to have asked to audit Apple last year, only to be shot down.
Qualcomm then requested that Apple do its own investigation into code sharing later that year, sparked by an anonymous posting on a website that collects comments from people who claim to have been laid off. The posting, claiming to be from an Intel employee, said that Intel engineers ''were told to ignore intellectual property rights when designing the modem'' and that there was ''a conspiracy to copy Qualcomm's technology'' using help from Apple. Apple allegedly declined to investigate.
For the claimed violations of its intellectual property, Qualcomm asks the court to grant money lost as well as punitive damages to punish Apple. It also wants Apple to be forced to stop using Intel's modems; it's already seeking such a ban through the US International Trade Commission.
Qualcomm's CEO thinks they could settle soon
The claims make for a dramatic twist in the ongoing legal battle. Apple '-- among other companies '-- has been unhappy with Qualcomm's dominance of the smartphone modem market. If a company wants to make a smartphone at scale, especially one with the best wireless speeds, they've generally needed to talk to Qualcomm.
Qualcomm is said to have used its dominance in modems to charge unusually high fees to license associated patents. The combination is supposed to be part of the reason that Intel has struggled to break into the smartphone modem game, a sore point as the company also struggles with its laptop and desktop processors.
It would not be surprising to learn that Apple actively worked to bolster Intel as a competitor. But if these claims pan out, it would mean that the two companies achieved that in potentially illegal ways.
Or, the whole thing could get wrapped up out of the courtroom. As contentious as things sound, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf recently told Bloomberg, ''The environment is such that a deal could get done.'' That's because the companies will finally have to start presenting to juries and judges. ''Traditionally, legal milestones create an environment for both parties to change their perspective,'' he said.
Chrome 70 will let you opt-out of controversial automatic sign-in
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 15:13
Google Chrome 70 will let you opt-out of its controversial automatic sign-in feature.Image: Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto via Getty Images
By Michael Nu±ez 2018-09-26 14:59:11 UTCWe can all breathe easy now. Google says it will let users of its Chrome web browser opt-out of the controversial automatic login feature that debuted earlier this month.
Chrome had historically let users decide whether they wanted to log into the browser while using it across devices, saving them precious seconds while jumping between various Google services. But in the Chrome 69 update that rolled out earlier this month, the browser automatically signed in people who used sites like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Search.
SEE ALSO: Google Chrome turns 10 with a fresh look, better omnibox, and more
Now, Google promises to do the right thing and give people a chance to opt-out of the automatic sign-in feature. The company says the feature was originally introduced to prevent data from leaking between accounts on shared computers (i.e. Google doesn't want to mix up the cookies on a shared machine used by multiple accounts.)
"We want to be clear that this change to sign-in does not mean Chrome sync gets turned on," Google Chrome product manager Zach Koch assured Chrome users in an announcement post. "Users who want data like their browsing history, passwords, and bookmarks available on other devices must take additional action, such as turning on sync."
However, not everyone was convinced. Cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins University, Matthew Green, was a vocal critic of the change. He argued in a scathing blog post that there was no justifiable reason for the change '-- at least from a security perspective.
"Google's reputation is hard-earned, and it can be easily lost," wrote Green. "Changes like this burn a lot of trust with users. If the change is solving an absolutely critical problem for users, then maybe a loss of trust is worth it. I wish Google could convince me that was the case."
Luckily for Green (and thousands of other concerned users), Google will make it easy to opt-out of the automatic login feature upon the next stable release of the Chrome browser. Until then, if you're truly worried about being tracked, maybe try going back to Firefox.
ALERT Smoking phone almost causes Qantas A380 #QF94 to divert | AIRLIVE.net
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 15:12
A passenger's mobile phone started smoking onboard a Qantas A380 today. QF94 was about 2 hours from landing in Melbourne when the incident occurred. Local media report that the incident almost caused the flight to divert to Sydney, but it continued to Melbourne after the crew consulted with the operations centre.
The phone had became caught in a seat in the Business class. The passenger then tried to free the phone themselves. In the process the phone was crushed in the seat mechanism.
Qantas told ABC News Australia the phone started ''smoking'' before ''cabin crew contained the situation.''
News Ltd says passengers reported a burnt rubber smell during the incident. One passenger told News Ltd's Herald Sun, ''Nobody knew what was going on. The (flight attendant) was on the internal phone when two male hostesses [sic] grabbed fire extinguishers and ran up the stairs to business.''
News Ltd. also quoted a passenger as saying, ''They didn't say there was a fire, but '... my friend overheard two guys talking at the baggage carousel and said the seat was completely destroyed. It was pretty scary '... it panicked a few people.''
As a result Qantas has issued a reminder that passengers should call for cabin crew when electronic devices are dropped while flying. ''This incident shows why we ask passengers to seek help from our cabin crew in retrieving their mobile phone,'' the Qantas spokesperson told ABC.
Dropped your #mobilephone in your seat during a flight? Make sure you don't try & retrieve it yourself'--alert the cabin crew for assistance. Read more:https://t.co/7lBJX67lIo
'-- CASA (@CASABriefing) September 26, 2018
Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) also echoed the message from Qantas. ''Passengers must remember never to move their seat if a phone goes missing while in-flight and to always ask the aircraft cabin crew for assistance. If a phone is damaged cabin crew should be alerted immediately.''
In a previous similar incident investigated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in 2016, the ATSB noted the FAA's guidelines:
''Lithium batteries are capable of ignition and subsequent explosion due to overheating. Overheating results in thermal runaway, which is a chemical reaction within the battery causing the internal temperature and pressure to rise. The result is the release of a flammable electrolyte from the battery and, in the case of disposable lithium batteries, the release of molten burning lithium.''
Brussel start inbreukprocedure om 'onafhankelijkheid' Poolse rechtspraak te garanderen '' De Dagelijkse Standaard
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 14:57
De Europese Commissie blijft volhouden dat de voorgenomen wijzigingen in het rechtssysteem van Polen indruisen tegen Europese wet- en regelgeving en bovenal het principe van onafhankelijke rechtspraak ondermijnt. Na het inzetten van een Artikel-7 procedure vindt de EU het nu tijd is om het zware geschut in te zetten. Frans Timmermans gaat een inbreukprocedure vormgeven die ertoe kan leiden dat Warsaw EU-subsidies misloopt.
De Poolse wetswijzigingen zouden de onafhankelijkheid van de rechtspraak onder druk zetten en ertoe leiden dat rechters van het Poolse Hooggerechtshof vroeger met pensioen moeten. Hierdoor zouden 27 van de 72 rechters moeten rekenen op een vervroegd pensioen. Een vrijstelling van pensioen kan worden aangevraagd door een verzoek in te dienen bij de President van de Poolse Republiek, maar de criteria op basis waarvan een besluit wordt genomen zijn niet beschikbaar. De Commissie ziet de afwezigheid van deze criteria en het neerleggen van de besluitvorming bij de President als gerechtelijke willekeur en een schending van het principe van onafhankelijke rechtspraak.
De Polen zelf lijken niet onder de indruk van de analyses en uitspraken vanuit Brussel. Al op 20 december 2017 werd vanuit de EU een Artikel 7(1) procedure aangezwengeld, maar met weinig succes. Een Artikel 7-procedure kan een EU-lidstaat onder druk zetten, maar is uiteindelijk onvoldoende om echt middelen in te zetten die pijn zouden doen. Dit omdat het ontnemen van EU-rechten enkel op basis van een unanieme stemming van de Europese Raad kan worden gelegitimeerd en het waarschijnlijk is dat Hongarije roet in het eten zal gooien.
Warsaw beredeneerd dat de onafhankelijkheid van de Poolse rechtspraak wordt gegarandeerd door het adviesrecht van de National Council for the Judiciary, maar hier is de EU het dus niet mee eens. In het kader van de Artikel-7 procedure heeft de Commissie de Polen meermaals gevraagd om een reactie, maar deze bleef achterwege. Om die reden is Frans Timmermans op 27 juni 2018 door het College van EU-Commissarissen aangewezen voor het vormgeven van een inbreukprocedure met het doel de onafhankelijkheid van de Poolse rechtspraak te garanderen. In 95% van de gevallen leidt zo'n procedure ertoe dat een EU-lidstaat de adviezen van de Commissie overneemt en implementeert. Mochten de Polen voet bij stuk houden dan wordt de zaak uiteindelijk door het Europese Hof beoordeeld. In het uiterste geval kan Brussel de Polen financieel straffen.
Waardeer jij de artikelen op DagelijkseStandaard.nl? Volg ons dan op Twitter!
1,600 men voice support for Christine Blasey Ford in New York Times ad | US news | The Guardian
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 14:49
A full-page advertisement in Wednesday's New York Times features the names of 1,600 men with a banner message saying: ''We believe Anita Hill. We also believe Christine Blasey Ford,'' in a #MeToo era twist on a stand taken 27 years ago.
The crowd-funded ad is an echo of a similar one placed in the same newspaper in 1991, signed by 1,600 women in support of Anita Hill, who was giving her account in a hostile atmosphere on Capitol Hill of sexual harassment she said she suffered while working for Judge Clarence Thomas, who ended up being confirmed to the US supreme court.
On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor in California, is due to testify before the Senate judiciary committee in Washington about her allegations that current supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when he was 17 and she was 15, in high school.
Wednesday's ad was organized by a feminist advocacy group called the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, named in tribute to the Maya Angelou poem Phenomenal Woman. The group put out a call online for funding over the weekend.
A note accompanying the main message says: ''On November 17, 1991, 1,600 black women joined together and placed a full-page ad in the New York Times to support Professor Anita Hill when she faced backlash for accusing Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment '... Today we follow in the footsteps of those courageous women.''
Ford came forward by writing first to her local congresswomen in California after Kavanaugh was named on a shortlist of judges to be nominated to the highest court by Donald Trump. She later identified herself publicly in an interview with the Washington Post, and has received a mix of support and '' from Republican leaders '' growing opposition on Capitol Hill. A second woman has also come forward publicly and a third may reveal herself before the hearing.
The ad continues: ''As men who are allies in the fight to end violence and harassment against women and girls, we write to express our full support of Dr Christine Blasey Ford '... we believe survivors and we call on all men of good will to stand with us.''
The message criticizes the ''skepticism and ridicule'' that frequently greet women who speak out, causing many to stay silent. And it demands that Ford's story ''is carefully and fully examined without bias or prejudice''.
At least one similar ad has appeared elsewhere.
The ad in the New York Times is presented in the same style as the one taken out in support of Hill in 1991. The names of the signatories are listed in small print around a central panel with the main message. It goes on to plead for a change in the culture, saying: ''For decades, a culture of misogyny has allowed me to act with impunity and without consequence. We demand an end to that culture and we pledge to do our part in dismantling it.''
Attorneys representing Ford have sent to the judiciary committee sworn and signed declarations from four people who corroborate her claims of sexual assault by Kavanaugh, USA Today reported.
Ford alleges that in 1982 Kavanaugh and a friend corralled her into a room at a party and Kavanaugh violently pinned her down and tried to undress her, putting his hand over her mouth when she began screaming. He denies the allegations and has pledged to clear his name on Thursday.
On Wednesday, author Tayari Jones, who wrote the bestselling novel An American Marriage tweeted an image of the 1991 ad, which bore the banner: ''African American Women In Defense of Ourselves'' and said she had signed it at the time.
She tweeted: ''27 years ago, 1600 black women took out a full page ad in the NYT to show support for Anita Hill. I was 20 years old. I put $25 toward the price of the ad and signed my name.''
Tayari Jones (@tayari)27 years ago, 1600 black women took out a full page ad in the NYT to show support for Anita Hill. I was 20 years old. I put $25 toward the price of the ad and signed my name. pic.twitter.com/I9AvWsoeGm
September 19, 2018Meanwhile, Anita Hill said the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing '' with no FBI investigation and no witness testimony '' is destined to be unfair, just as she and many others felt the Thomas hearing was, in an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday evening.
But she declared optimism for the next wave of the women's rights movement.
''A lot is different now,'' Hill, 62, said of the year since the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment was launched in 2017. ''Remember, #MeToo is about raising awareness. Just because the Senate's awareness hasn't been raised, doesn't mean that the rest of us haven't evolved and learned.''
New Climate Debate: How to Adapt to the End of the World - Bloomberg
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 14:21
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Lawrence Martin-Bittman, 87, Master of Disinformation, Dies - The New York Times
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 14:16
Image Ladislav Bittman, as he was known in Czechoslovakia, in about 1957. He served as a spy there before defecting in 1968. Credit Credit via Elizabeth Spaulding Lawrence Martin-Bittman, who as a Cold War spy for Czechoslovakia specialized in running disinformation schemes to roil the West, and who, after defecting in 1968 to the United States, taught the perils of propaganda to journalism students, died on Tuesday at his home in Rockport, Mass. He was 87.
His partner, Liz Spaulding, confirmed the death.
''I openly admit that I did a lot of damage to the West, particularly to the United States, as a specialist in dirty tricks,'' Mr. Martin-Bittman told the NBC News series ''Dateline'' in 2009.
Mr. Martin-Bittman '-- whose original name was Ladislav Bittman '-- joined the Czech intelligence service out of university in 1954 as tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were rising.
The Czech service, which collaborated with others in the Soviet-dominated Eastern bloc, was deeply involved in forgeries, like taking the signatures of United States diplomats from Christmas cards and using them on faked documents detailing supposed American conspiracies worldwide, and political sabotage, like setting up a brothel with the Soviets to trap West German politicians in compromising positions.
As a spy, Mr. Martin-Bittman operated from Berlin and Vienna, elite espionage postings during the Cold War on both sides. In 1964 he became the deputy commander of the Czech service's Department for Active Measures and Disinformation.
That year, he helped execute a wild plan to discredit West Germany.
By his account, a Czech television documentary crew was exploring Black Lake, southwest of Prague, in hopes of raising mysterious objects '-- possibly Nazi treasures '-- that they had spotted in earlier dives. Knowing of the crew's plan, the Czech service dumped four German military chests filled with blank papers at the bottom of the lake.
Mr. Martin-Bittman, an experienced diver who posed as a Czech government official, led the crew into the water to retrieve the chests. They were then taken away by intelligence officials claiming that they had to be X-rayed for explosives.
While the cache was supposedly being examined, intelligence officers replaced the papers with what were billed as Third Reich documents that, when revealed publicly, indicated that former Nazis were spying for West Germany. (Another Czech spy, Josef Frolik, wrote in 1975 that forged documents were dumped in the chests.)
''It was the start of a two-year campaign to revive the threat of Nazism and to point a finger at West Germany and say, 'They are still there and West Germany is still in great potential danger,' '' Mr. Martin-Bittman said in an interview for ''Soviet Active Measures'' (1984), a film produced by the United States Information Agency.
In 1967, he was posted to Vienna at the Czech Embassy. There he was ostensibly a press attach(C), but he was actually directing agents '-- Western European journalists among them '-- who had been recruited by the Communists to gather intelligence and to disseminate disinformation to undermine relations between Western European countries and the United States.
He remained a dirty trickster until the summer of 1968, when, angered at the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia), he defected to West Germany and was granted asylum in the United States, where he changed his name to Lawrence Michael Martin. (He later added Bittman to his surname.)
The invasion '-- which crushed the liberalizing reforms that had been instituted by Alexander Dubcek, the Czechoslovak leader '-- ''was the ultimate shock of my life, and this was the moment of truth when it was impossible to fool myself and justify anything I did in the past,'' Mr. Martin-Bittman said in a video interview in 2016 for ''Silver Mines,'' a program that appeared on YouTube about the lives of elderly people.
His defection, which led a military court in Czechoslovakia to sentence him to death, was considered a coup for the United States.
Image Lawrence Martin-Bittman, formerly Ladislav Bittman, testifying in 1985 before a United States Senate panel on espionage. Credit Terry Ashe/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images ''Bittman was really one of the great experts of the Communist bloc, the Soviet bloc, on disinformation,'' F. Mark Wyatt, a retired senior C.I.A. official who was an expert in covert action, told The New York Times in 1994. ''He is an outstanding defector success story.''
Ladislav Bittman was born on Feb. 14, 1931, in Prague. His father, also named Ladislav, was a welder, and his mother, Andela (Pucenkelov) Bittmanova, was a homemaker who rented out two rooms in their apartment to make ends meet.
He was 8 when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939. ''I'll never forget the mass of German soldiers marching through the streets,'' he said in the ''Silver Mines'' video. ''It was a result of the betrayal of Czechoslovakia by the Western powers.''
At 15 he joined the Communist Party, as his parents had. He later graduated from Charles University in Prague with degrees in journalism and international law.
When his 14 years of spying, forgeries and fake news ended with his defection, Mr. Martin-Bittman began to write books about espionage and disinformation, among them ''The Deception Game'' (1972) and ''The KGB and Soviet Disinformation: An Insider's View'' (1985).
In a review for the journal Slavic Review, Josef Korbel, the Czech-American diplomat and the father of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, praised Mr. Martin-Bittman for the understated way in which he recalled his adventures in disinformation.
''His matter-of-fact, unsensational style in describing them lends credibility to the stories,'' Mr. Korbel wrote.
In 1972, Mr. Martin-Bittman's career took another turn: He started teaching journalism, as well as courses in propaganda, at Boston University. In 1986 he opened the university's Program for the Study of Disinformation.
He was pleased that the university took a chance on him.
''Imagine,'' he told The Times. ''You search for a job and you are asked, 'What are your credentials?' and you say, 'Twenty-two years in the Communist Party and 14 years in intelligence as a Communist spy.' Not exactly the right experience for this environment, but they were not scared of it.''
Mark J. Thompson, who won a Pulitzer Prize as a reporter for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1985, wrote in an email that he took Mr. Martin-Bittman's disinformation class in 1975.
''Beyond the history of his dark art,'' he wrote, ''I guess there were only two lessons to be learned in his class: how to deceive and how to avoid being deceived. Like most good professors, he encouraged us to be skeptics.''
Mr. Martin-Bittman retired in the late 1990s to spend his time painting watercolors.
In addition to Ms. Spaulding, he survived by his son, Michael Talmor; his daughter, Dr. Katerina Bittmanova; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He was divorced twice and widowed once.
In 1994, Mr. Martin-Bittman gave a party after a court in the Czech Republic lifted his death sentence.
In invitations to friends and colleagues, he asked them to help him celebrate ''my re-entering the society of decent human beings on Feb. 24, 1994, from 4 to 6 p.m., in the disinformation documentation center.''
He added, ''This is not disinformation.''
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Lawrence Martin-Bittman, 87, Cold War Master of 'Dirty Tricks,' Is Dead
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Apple News is giving the media everything it wants'--except money.
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 10:10
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Patricia Paay houdt uitverkoop! - Priv(C) - Blendle
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:59
Door PAUL NEDERHOVEN Foto's MARK VUURENS
Dunkin' drops Donuts from its name | Fox Business
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:53
Dunkin' Donuts is getting a new name.
The restaurant chain announced on Tuesday that it's dropping the word ''Donuts'' from its name and renaming itself ''Dunkin'.'' The shortened branding will align with the company's emphasis on coffee and other beverages, Dunkin' Brands said. The Canton, Massachusetts-based company also noted that fans have long referred to its stores as simply Dunkin'.
''Our new branding is one of many things we are doing as part of our blueprint for growth to modernize the Dunkin' experience for our customers,'' Dunkin' Brands' CEO and Dunkin' U.S. President David Hoffmann said in a statement. ''We believe our efforts to transform Dunkin', while still embracing our incredible heritage, will keep our brand relevant for generations to come.''
TickerSecurityLastChange%ChgDNKNDUNKIN BRANDS GROUP73.79+0.97+1.33%A redesigned logo maintains Dunkin's pink-and-orange color scheme and its familiar font. The new branding will appear on packaging, advertising, Dunkin's website and social media channels beginning Jan. 1, according to the company. Stores will also feature new signage, while some locations utilizing Dunkin's new design format have already tested the new name over the past year.
More from FOX BusinessDespite the change in name, Dunkin' will continue to offer doughnuts, including its popular Munchkins and seasonal menu additions. The company, which has more than 12,500 stores in the U.S. and other markets, bills itself as the largest doughnut seller in the U.S. with global sales of more than 2.9 billion annually.
In addition to coffee, Dunkin' has focused on serving more cold-brew coffee, iced teas and other drinks. The company also has simplified its menu, expanded mobile ordering and launched new items like Donut Fries.
This undated image provided by Dunkin' shows a new Dunkin' logo that will be in restaurants in January 2019. (Dunkin' via AP / Associated Press)
Dunkin' said its new store design, including glass bakery cases and tap systems for cold beverages, was created to make ordering faster. New Dunkin' locations will have drive-through lanes for mobile orders.
The new branding comes amid fierce competition among coffee chains with Starbuck's announcing this week that it will be reorganizing its leadership. The restructuring comes as Starbucks turns its focus to rapidly expanding in China. Starbuck's sales growth in its home market has slowed, and the Seattle-based company plans to close about 150 U.S. stores next year.
Feinstein can't guarantee Kavanaugh accuser shows, as Ford bristles over role of female attorney | Fox News
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:51
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee acknowledged Tuesday she can't guarantee the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault will show up to testify at a looming hearing, as her attorneys raise concerns about the format.
The news comes as Republicans scheduled a Friday morning Judiciary Committee vote on whether to recommend Kavanaugh's confirmation to the full Senate -- a move the ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called ''outrageous.''
''For Republicans to schedule a Friday vote on Brett Kavanaugh today, two days before Dr. Blasey Ford has had a chance to tell her story, is outrageous,'' Feinstein said in a statement. ''First Republicans demanded Dr. Blasey Ford testify immediately. Now Republicans don't even need to hear her before they move ahead with a vote.''
It is not necessary for Kavanaugh to secure a majority vote by the committee in order for the full Senate to vote on his confirmation. In 1991, Clarence Thomas was confirmed by the Senate after the Judiciary Committee passed on recommending him.
On Monday, Christine Blasey Ford's attorney Michael Bromwich specifically complained about Republicans hiring outside counsel to question his client during the public hearing set for Thursday morning. In a late Monday letter to the committee, Bromwich requested the prosecutor's resume ''immediately'' and asked to meet with the lawyer.
Sources told Fox News that committee Republicans hired a female prosecutor who specializes in sex crimes in preparation to hear Ford's testimony -- though it remains unclear whether she would lead the committee's questioning. The planning, though, prompted the letter of concern from Bromwich, once again throwing into doubt whether the hearing will go forward.
As of Tuesday afternoon, a Republican aide told Fox News the committee reserves its right to have counsel ask questions of Ford but beyond that has not determined how to proceed.
Feinstein, for her part, could not guarantee Ford would attend if the prosecutor were to lead questioning on behalf of Republican members.
''I have no way of knowing,'' Feinstein told Fox News.
Meanwhile, Fox News confirms that Senate Judiciary Committee staffers interviewed Kavanaugh Tuesday about the sexual misconduct allegations by another woman, Debbie Ramirez, that appeared Sunday in The New Yorker. A source familiar with the interview tells Fox News Republican staffers led the phone interview and Democratic aides listened in, but did not ask any questions. Kavanaugh again denied the allegations.
Fox News is told Democrats were told about the call only about 15 minutes before it happened and had effectively no time to prepare.
In his letter Monday, Bromwich took issue both with plans for the outside counsel as well as fiery comments made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accusing Democrats of a ''smear campaign.''
''We are finding it difficult to reconcile your letter and [staff member Mike Davis'] note with the Majority Leader's speech this afternoon on the Senate floor,'' wrote Bromwich.
''You said in your letter that you intend to provide a 'fair and credible' process ... Yet earlier today, the Majority Leader dismissed Dr. Ford's experience as a 'smear campaign,' claiming mistakenly that the witnesses' statements to the Committee constitute 'a complete lack of evidence,' implying that there has been a thorough investigation,'' the letter read.
KAVANAUGH BREAKS SILENCE IN FOX NEWS INTERVIEW
Bromwich then raised concerns with an email from Davis that apparently suggested an outside counsel would question Ford.
''This hearing plan that Mr. Davis described does not appear designed to provide Dr. Blasey Ford with fair and respectful treatment,'' Bromwich wrote. ''In our view, the hiring of an unnamed 'experienced sex crimes prosecutor,' as Mr. Davis described in his email, is contrary to the Majority's repeated emphasis on the need for the Senate and this Committee's members to fulfill their constitutional obligations.''
He added: ''It is also inconsistent with your stated wish to avoid a 'circus,' as well as Dr. Blasey Ford's requests through counsel that senators conduct the questioning. This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate.''
At this point, the female prosecutor's identity has not been revealed.
Bromwich's letter is the latest twist in the tumultuous talks between the committee and Ford. Her story first emerged in the media, though was relayed over the summer to Feinstein, who has since faced GOP criticism for sitting on the accusations citing Ford's initial desire for confidentiality.
Ford accused Kavanaugh of covering her mouth and trying to remove her clothing at a party in the early 1980s, when both were in high school.
The committee has offered for Ford to share her testimony in public or private, or over the phone. She and her team previously accepted an invitation to testify Thursday.
Meanwhile, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on McConnell to apologize for describing the accusations against Kavanaugh as part of a ''smear campaign'' by Democrats.
McConnell on Tuesday expressed his confidence that Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the high court.
''Our goal is to have a respectful hearing,'' McConnell said. ''It's not uncommon to have outside counsel to do questioning for this type of hearing. Once the hearing is done, we plan to move forward in the very near future.''
McConnell added that ''everyone understands there is a presumption of innocence,'' and that ''we should go into these hearings with a presumption of innocence.''
''I am confident we are going to win and he will be confirmed in the near future,'' McConnell said. ''I believe he will be confirmed.''
Kavanaugh has denied Ford's allegation, as well as that of another woman who alleges he exposed himself to her while at Yale University.
''What I know is the truth, and the truth is I've never sexually assaulted anyone,'' Kavanaugh told Fox News' Martha MacCallum in an exclusive interview on Monday.
Kavanaugh also told MacCallum that he would not withdraw his name from consideration over the allegations.
''I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity, and I know I'm telling the truth,'' the judge said. ''I know my lifelong record and I'm not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process. I have faith in God and I have faith in the fairness of the American people.''
Fox News' Peter Doocy, Mike Emanuel, Samuel Chamberlain and Martha MacCallum contributed to this report.
Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.
Arizona prosecutor is GOP choice to question Kavanaugh and Ford - Laredo Morning Times
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:41
Brett Kavanaugh answers questions during a FOX News interview, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Washington, about allegations of sexual misconduct against the Supreme Court nominee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Brett Kavanaugh answers questions during a FOX News interview, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Washington, about allegations of sexual misconduct against the Supreme Court nominee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press Photo: Alex Brandon/Associated Press July 9: President Donald Trump selects Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme CourtTrump selected Kavanaugh, a judge on the court of appeals for the D.C. circuit, to replace the retiring Kennedy. On the night of the announcement, Kavanaugh stated, "A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret the Constitution as written."
READ MORE less July 9: President Donald Trump selects Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme CourtTrump selected Kavanaugh, a judge on the court of appeals for the D.C. circuit, to replace the
... more Photo: Olivier Douliery, FILE / TNS July 30: Sen. Dianne Feinstein receives a letter from Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high schoolFord, a Palo Alto professor, wrote the letter to Feinstein on July 30. In the letter, Ford alleged that as teenagers, a drunk Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her while his friend, Mark Judge, watched. The letter was not made public until September.
READ MORE less July 30: Sen. Dianne Feinstein receives a letter from Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high schoolFord, a Palo Alto professor, wrote the letter to Feinstein on July
... more Photo: Alex Brandon / Associated Press window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Sometime in August: Ford takes a polygraph testThe Washington Post reported that Ford voluntarily chose to take a polygraph test in August, and the test found she was being truthful.
READ MORE Sometime in August: Ford takes a polygraph testThe Washington Post reported that Ford voluntarily chose to take a polygraph test in August, and the test found she was being truthful.
READ MORE Photo: JUSTIN T. GELLERSON, NYT Sept. 4: Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings beginKavanaugh testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and fielded questions on Roe v. Wade, presidential investigations and more.
READ MORE Sept. 4: Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings beginKavanaugh testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and fielded questions on Roe v. Wade, presidential investigations and more.
READ MORE Photo: Andrew Harrer, Bloomberg Sept. 6: The hearings turn contentiousA number of Democratic senators, including Kamala Harris of California, received widespread attention after their intensive questioning of the Kavanaugh. A video clip of Harris asking Kavanaugh about laws that regulate the "male body" went viral.
READ MORE less Sept. 6: The hearings turn contentiousA number of Democratic senators, including Kamala Harris of California, received widespread attention after their intensive questioning of the Kavanaugh. A video clip of
... more Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press Sept. 7: Senate hearings conclude with Kavanaugh's confirmation appearing "likely"Following the testy confirmation hearings, the Associated Press wrote that Kavanaugh's confirmation was "likely," since the judge "avoided any serious mistakes that might jeopardize his confirmation." READ MORE less
Sept. 7: Senate hearings conclude with Kavanaugh's confirmation appearing "likely"Following the testy confirmation hearings, the Associated Press wrote that Kavanaugh's confirmation was "likely," since the ... more
Photo: Alex Brandon, Associated Press window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Sept. 13: Sen. Dianne Feinstein sends Ford's letter to the FBIIn a brief and mysterious statement, the California senator said she "received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court," and "referred the matter to federal investigative authorities." Before long, the content of the letter was revealed, but the accuser's identity remained unknown. READ MORE less
Sept. 13: Sen. Dianne Feinstein sends Ford's letter to the FBIIn a brief and mysterious statement, the California senator said she "received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett ... more
Photo: ERIN SCHAFF, NYT Sept. 14: Brett Kavanaugh denies the allegationsKavanaugh released a statement saying he "categorically" denies the allegations. "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation," Kavanaugh said in a statement distributed by the White House. "I did not do this back in high school or at any time." READ MORE less
Sept. 14: Brett Kavanaugh denies the allegationsKavanaugh released a statement saying he "categorically" denies the allegations. "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation," Kavanaugh said in a ... more
Photo: Win McNamee, Getty Images Sept. 16: Christine Blasey Ford goes publicIn an explosive story in the Washington Post, Ford went on the record with her allegations. "I thought he might inadvertently kill me," Ford told the Post. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing." READ MORE less
Sept. 16: Christine Blasey Ford goes publicIn an explosive story in the Washington Post, Ford went on the record with her allegations. "I thought he might inadvertently kill me," Ford told the Post. "He was ... more
Photo: JUSTIN T. GELLERSON, NYT Sept. 17: Kavanaugh again denies the allegationsKavanaugh issued a second statement of denial after Ford identified herself. "This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes - to her or to anyone," Kavanaugh said. "Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday."
READ MORE less Sept. 17: Kavanaugh again denies the allegationsKavanaugh issued a second statement of denial after Ford identified herself. "This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the
... more Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Sept. 18: Chuck Grassley invites Kavanaugh, Ford to testifySenate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley called on both Kavanaugh and Ford to testify in front of the Judiciary Committee. However, Ford said she wants the FBI to investigate the incident before she testifies.
READ MORE less Sept. 18: Chuck Grassley invites Kavanaugh, Ford to testifySenate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley called on both Kavanaugh and Ford to testify in front of the Judiciary Committee. However,
... more Photo: Andrew Harnik / Associated Press Sept. 23: A second accuser comes forwardDeborah Ramirez, a former college classmate of Kavanaugh's, claimed that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while the two were at Yale. The New Yorker reported that Senate Democrats were investigating the claims.
READ MORE less Sept. 23: A second accuser comes forwardDeborah Ramirez, a former college classmate of Kavanaugh's, claimed that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while the two were at Yale. The New Yorker reported that Senate
... more Photo: SAUL LOEB, AFP/Getty Images window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-18', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 18', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press
Brett Kavanaugh answers questions during a FOX News interview, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Washington, about allegations of sexual misconduct against the Supreme Court nominee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Brett Kavanaugh answers questions during a FOX News interview, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Washington, about allegations of sexual misconduct against the Supreme Court nominee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press WASHINGTON - Republican senators have selected Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to question Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, a top senator announced Tuesday.
Mitchell, the sex crimes bureau chief for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Phoenix, will query the two at Thursday's highly anticipated Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. A registered Republican, Mitchell has worked for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for 26 years.
In enlisting Mitchell to join their staff, Republican senators are taking an unusual step. They are turning to her to ask what are expected to be personal and potentially painful questions about the woman's youth on live television, sparing the all-male panel of 11 Republican senators on the committee some uncomfortable exchanges that could sway the public's opinion about the session.
"The majority members have followed the bipartisan recommendation to hire as staff counsel for the committee an experienced career sex-crimes prosecutor to question the witnesses at Thursday's hearing," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. "The goal is to de-politicize the process and get to the truth, instead of grandstanding and giving senators an opportunity to launch their presidential campaigns."
He added, "I'm very appreciative that Rachel Mitchell has stepped forward to serve in this important and serious role."
Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school, will testify under oath on Thursday. Kavanaugh will testify separately on the same day.
Mitchell did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives for Kavanaugh and Ford did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The division Mitchell heads deals with family violence, physical and sexual abuse of children, and sex offenses, including sex assault cases. Mitchell oversees about 40 to 50 people in the division, said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Mitchell has a long history of investigating years-old sex crimes and allegations that are difficult to corroborate, including in her role re-examining hundreds of cases that were unresolved and inadequately investigated by the sheriff's office, Montgomery said."
Over the course of Rachel's career, she has dealt with victims in this very circumstance of delayed disclosure and circumstances where allegations were difficult to corroborate," Montgomery said. "She has had to make a decision as a prosecutor whether or not those cases can move forward."Senate Judiciary Committee staff contacted Montgomery over the weekend asking about her experience, and Montgomery encouraged the staff and Mitchell to communicate directly, he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said earlier Tuesday that Republican lawmakers hired "a female assistant" to "ask these questions in a respectful and professional way. We want this hearing to be handled very professionally, not a political sideshow."
In a 2011 interview, Mitchell said she was drawn to sex crimes work after she was paired with a senior lawyer prosecuting a youth choir director after joining the office as a law clerk awaiting the results of her bar exam. "It was different than anything that I would have ever imagined it being," she said in an interview with FrontLine Magazine, which is affiliated with the conservative Christian group Foundations Baptist Fellowship International. "It struck me how innocent and vulnerable the victims of these cases really were."
She is now a supervisor, where her duties include analyzing legislative changes and managing other attorneys. In an interview earlier this year on a local NPR radio station, Mitchell talked about the nuts-and-bolts of the office's adoption of a new sex crimes protocol, the first in office history, intended to improve the investigation and prosecution of cases. She said the new manual would ensure prosecutors "have something to look at to say, okay, these are the best practices, so that we can do the best we can for victims."
Tracy Westerhausen, a Phoenix defense attorney who has gone up against Mitchell in 30 cases, over more than 20 years, said she has developed a close friendship with Mitchell over their time on opposite sides of the courtroom.
"Part of the reason we're very good friends, she is a very nuanced and wise prosecutor," she said. "She doesn't pigeon-hole defendants. In my experience, she is a very pointed questioner of adverse witnesses. But she is also very fair."
Westerhausen, who called herself a lifelong Democrat, said she has never discussed politics with Mitchell but considers her a good choice for the high-stakes job. "As an American, it would make me more comfortable to see her selected. I really do think that she's a very professional person, who is out to make sure the right thing is done," Westerhausen said.
Bruce Feder, a defense attorney in the county, said that as a manager, Mitchell spends less time now in the courtroom but had plenty of experience questioning both victims and people accused of wrongdoing.
He helped represent a priest who was prosecuted by Mitchell in 2004 for abusing a boy. Media reports indicated that the priest, the principal of a local school, was one of the first to be prosecuted for sex abuse in the county. The priest pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault with sexual motivation on the first day of his trial.
"She's been either a trial lawyer or a supervisor for decades. I'm guessing she knows what she's doing," he said.
As the head of the sex crimes unit, Mitchell was one of the prosecutors tasked with finding out why hundreds of sex crimes were unresolved or not adequately investigated by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, said Cindi Nannetti, former county prosecutor and Mitchell's predecessor at the unit. The controversy had roiled the sheriff's office for years and were unearthed after reports by victims and the media, and an internal audit.
"She is one of the finest prosecutors in the country," Nannetti wrote in a text message.
Jerry Sheridan, former county chief deputy sheriff who oversaw the re-examination of unresolved cases, said the unit under Mitchell had a key role in establishing protocols and victims crisis centers across the Phoenix metro area to in the wake of the controversy.
"The deputy county attorneys were assigned to the crisis centers to help all the law enforcement agencies in the East and West Valley," Sheridan said. "They had a very active role."
Congressional hearings are typically plum opportunities for lawmakers to grab the spotlight, draw attention to the issues they care about, and on occasion, create a moment that goes viral online.
But this time, Republicans on the committee prefer to keep lower profile.
"I'm going to let the professional person do it," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he expected the counsel would conduct all questioning of Ford, "although I'm very capable of doing it."
Grassley said he appointed a woman from the outside in order to "depoliticize" the process and prevent a rerun of Anita Hill's testimony at Justice Clarence Thomas's 1991 confirmation hearing.
"The whole point is to create an environment where it's what Doctor Ford has asked for, to be professional and to not be a circus," said Grassley.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is not on the Judiciary Committee, said, "Inadvertently somebody will do something that's insensitive. I would not be wanting to ask questions about something like this."
Before Mitchell's name was revealed, Democrats criticized their Republican colleagues for leaving them in the dark and accused them of shirking their senatorial duties.
"Who is going to speak for all of the 11 Republican senators? We don't have the name, do we?" said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "Someone has been given a new job, a person we don't know. At some point, that secrecy has to be unveiled. We should at least know who's going to take the place of 11 duly-sworn senators of the United States."
- - -
The Washington Post's Seung Min Kim, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Alice Crites, Gabriel Pogrund and Emma Brown contributed to this report.
Blasey Ford asks Senate to limit press access for Kavanaugh hearing - Washington Times
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:40
Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers have asked senators to limit the press who will be allowed in the room to cover Thursday's hearing with her and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and sought to dictate at least some of the outlets.
Coverage is one of a number of issues Ms. Blasey Ford's lawyers are negotiating with Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Michael Bromwich said in emails sent Tuesday afternoon that he was requesting access for three ''robocams,'' three specific wire services, photographers from the Associated Press, Reuters and one unspecified service, and a pool reporter for newspapers and magazines. In a follow-up email he specified that the robocams should be operated by ''the CSPAN TV pool,'' and said he also wanted space for a radio reporter.
Those emails were among several seen by The Washington Times detailing the tense negotiations between Ms. Blasey Ford's team and committee staff.
While committees sometimes limit press based on space at hearings, and some witnesses have arranged to have their identities shielded, longtime Capitol Hill watchers struggled to think of precedent for a witness dictating terms of press coverage.
In Ms. Blasey Ford's case she has received threats since she went public with her story, and her team has insisted the committee guarantee her safety as she testifies, as well as limited access to the hearing.
SEE ALSO: GOP will use female lawyer to lead questioning at Kavanaugh hearing
Ms. Blasey Ford has accused Judge Kavanaugh of an attempted sexual assault at a party when they were both high school students in the early 1980s. He has vehemently denied the accusation, and as yet no contemporaneous witness has come forward to verify her allegations.
She has agreed to testify but has laid out a number of parameters and is objecting to some of Republicans' plans.
One major sticking point is the GOP's plans to use a female lawyer hired specifically for this hearing to ask questions on behalf of the Republican senators. That lawyer will question both Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. Blasey Ford, according to one email from Mike Davis, the chief counsel for nominations to Chairman Chuck Grassley.
Debra Katz, another of Ms. Blasey Ford's lawyers, said in a Tuesday morning message they still haven't been told who that outside lawyer will be.
''Please let us know if you have similarly withheld the name of this person from Mr. Kavanaugh and his counsel. If you have not, which we assume to be the case, can you please explain the disparate treatment?'' she wrote. ''Please also advise whether Mr. Kavanaugh and his counsel have been given an opportunity to meet with this individual. We would similarly like the opportunity to meet with her at her soonest availability.''
She said in the email that Mr. Davis was refusing to talk by phone, so Ms. Blasey Ford's team was asking for an in-person meeting.
A spokesman for Mr. Grassley didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Bromwich's office declined to comment.
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Brett Kavanaugh: Ford has 4 people to corroborate sexual assault claims
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:39
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These are the key players to know before Super Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh addresses the multiple sexual assault allegations against him. USA TODAY
Supreme Court nominee is sworn in Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo: USA TODAY)
The attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford have sworn and signed declarations from four people who corroborate her claims of sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
In documents sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by USA TODAY, Ford's attorneys present declarations from Ford's husband, Russell, and three friends who support the California college professor's accusation that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and attempted to pull off her clothes while both were high school students in 1982.
The declarations will be used by Ford's attorneys during a committee hearing on Thursday that could determine the fate of Kavanaugh's embattled nomination. He's also facing a second accusation of sexual assault from Deborah Ramirez, who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself and pushed his genitals into her face at a drunken party during the 1983-84 academic year at Yale University.
Kavanaugh has flatly denied all accusations, including during a national television interview on Fox News on Monday night.
In her declaration, Adela Gildo-Mazzon said Ford told her about the alleged assault during a June 2013 meal at a restaurant in Mountain View, California, and contacted Ford's attorneys on Sept. 16 to tell them Ford had confided in her five years ago.
''During our meal, Christine was visibly upset, so I asked her what was going on,'' Gildo-Mazzon says in her declaration. ''Christine told me she had been having a hard day because she was thinking about an assault she experienced when she was much younger. She said she had been almost raped by someone who was now a federal judge. She told me she had been trapped in a room with two drunken guys, and that she had escaped, ran away and hid.''
According to her declaration, Gildo-Mazzon has known Ford for more than 10 years and considers her to be ''a good friend.''
Related: Here's Brett Kavanaugh's 1982 calendar that's being used as evidence against sexual assault allegations
More: Kavanaugh allegations: 'What boy hasn't done this in high school?' Most haven't, experts say.
In another declaration, Keith Koegler said Ford revealed the alleged assault to him in 2016, when the two parents were watching their children play in a public place and discussing the ''light'' sentencing of Stanford University student Brock Turner.
''Christine expressed anger at Mr. Turner's lenient sentence, stating that she was particularly bothered by it because she was assaulted in high school by a man who was now a federal judge in Washington, D.C.,'' Koegler said.
''Christine did not mention the assault to me again until June 29, 2018, two days after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his resignation from the Supreme Court of the United States,'' he said.
On that day, Koegler said Ford revealed to him in an email that the person who had assaulted her in high school was President Donald Trump's ''favorite for SCOTUS.''
In his response email, Koegler wrote, ''I remember you telling me about him, but I don't remember his name. Do you mind telling me so I can read about him?''
Ford's emailed response: ''Brett Kavanaugh.''
In his declaration, Koegler said he met the Fords while coaching their son's baseball team more than five years ago.
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Last SlideNext SlideIn another declaration, Rebecca White, a neighbor and friend of more than six years, said Ford revealed the alleged assault against her in 2017.
''I was walking my dog and Christine was outside of her house,'' White said. ''I stopped to speak with her, and she told me she had read a recent social media post I had written about my own experience with sexual assault.
''She then told me that when she was a young teen, she had been sexually assaulted by an older teen,'' White continued. ''I remember her saying that her assailant was now a federal judge.''
In his declaration, Ford's husband said he learned of his wife's experience with sexual assault ''around the time we got married'' but that she didn't share details until a couple's therapy session in 2012.
''I remember her saying that her attacker's name was Brett Kavanaugh, that he was a successful lawyer who had grown up in Christine's home town, and that he was well-known in the Washington D.C. community,'' Russell Ford said.
He said his wife was ''afraid'' Trump would nominate Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court and was ''very conflicted'' about whether she should come forward with her story.
''However, in the end she believed her civic duty required her to speak out,'' Russell Ford said. ''In our 16 years of marriage I have always known Christine to be truthful person of great integrity. I am proud of her for her bravery and courage.''
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Crack in beam shuts down San Francisco's new $2B terminal
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 03:52
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) '-- San Francisco officials shut down the city's celebrated new $2.2 billion transit terminal Tuesday after discovering a crack in a support beam under the center's public roof garden.
Coined the "Grand Central of the West," the Salesforce Transit Center opened in August near the heart of downtown after nearly a decade of construction. It was expected to accommodate 100,000 passengers each weekday, and up to 45 million people a year.
The center is operated by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority and its executive director Mark Zabaneh said workers discovered the crack around 10 a.m. while replacing roofing tiles. Zabaneh said engineers spent the day inspecting the damage and decided to shut the station around 5 p.m., just as the afternoon rush hour started.
"The beam is cracked," Zabaneh said. "The behavior of the beam is unpredictable."
Zabaneh said the crack was found near a weld on a stress-bearing horizontal beam. He said he did not know how long the crack was, but he told reporters that American steel was used in the center's construction.
Zabaneh said the cause and the extent of the damage were unknown and the decision to close the terminal was made out of an "abundance of caution."
He said structural engineers would be working at the building Tuesday night to assess whether it is safe for people to return.
Buses were rerouted to a temporary transit center about two blocks away that was used during the center's construction. A downtown street that runs under the beam was also ordered closed indefinitely, causing traffic chaos at the same time some streets were closed for a conference sponsored by Salesforce that was expected to draw 170,000 attendees.
Enveloped in wavy white sheets of metal veil, the five-level center includes a bus deck, a towering sky-lit central entrance hall and a rooftop park with an outdoor amphitheater.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the complex faced delays in putting out contracts to bid, and the winning bids were ultimately higher than expected. The terminal's cost rose from $1.6 billion at its 2010 groundbreaking to more than $2 billion in 2016 because of what one analyst called "optimistic assumptions," according to the Chronicle.
The project, a commanding presence in the city's South of Market neighborhood, is financed by land sales, federal stimulus grants, district fees and taxes, bridge tolls, and federal and state funds.
It sits adjacent to another dubious landmark, the so-called sinking condominium, Millennium Tower, which has settled about 18 inches (45 centimeters) since it opened over a former landfill in 2009. Homeowners have filed multiple lawsuits against the developer and the city, some alleging that construction of the transit center caused the Millennium Tower's sinking.
Zabaneh said he did not believe that the cracked beam was related to ongoing problems at Millennium Tower.
The online business software company Salesforce, which opened its adjacent 61-story Salesforce Tower three months ago, bought naming rights to the center in 2017 as part of a 25-year, $110 million sponsorship agreement.
Avenatti: I wasn't scammed - POLITICO
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 03:20
''This is just crazy that somebody can just tweet something out like this, or post it, and people just take it as truth,'' attorney Michael Avenatti said. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Michael Avenatti on Tuesday lashed out at reports that a client who was preparing to level allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was a fake and part of a ruse by an outside group targeting Avenatti.
''I made the determination she was 100 percent credible well before Sunday night,'' Avenatti, the attorney who also represents the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, told POLITICO, referring to the first time he disclosed the allegations involving Kavanaugh. ''We've received over 3,000 inquiries in the last six months from people with all kinds of crazy stories and fabrications. I've heard it all. I've seen it all. Like we don't vet clients. Give me a break.''
Story Continued Below
Kavanaugh is in a pitched battle to salvage his nomination, after two women have come forward to allege sexual misconduct decades ago. One of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday about her allegation that a drunken Kavanaugh assaulted her at a house party when they were both in high school.
An online post on Tuesday claimed that Avenatti had been scammed by the online forum 4Chan, a place where online users delight in trolling public figures, setting off a firestorm on social media and purportedly jamming up Avenatti's Twitter account. The attorney said he temporarily shut down the account because of online threats.
''This is just crazy that somebody can just tweet something out like this, or post it, and people just take it as truth,'' he said. ''It's crazy.''
Avenatti, a possible presidential contender in 2020, said his client is ''100 percent'' real and still planned to come forward. When pressed on why the public should believe the accusations involving Kavanaugh when he hadn't yet fronted a witness and had himself made claims over Twitter, Avenatti said he had remained consistent.
''I've been really clear. The timetable has not changed,'' he said. ''We haven't moved the timetable back. Nothing's changed. We don't just do this at the drop of the hat. Had we waited until everything was in place to surface these allegations, then everyone would be complaining that we just dropped this on the committee at the last moment. There's no winning in this situation. We wanted to surface the allegations for the committee, reasonably, once they were vetted, which is what we did.''
But he said members of the Judiciary Committee had not followed up on his offer to have them interview his client. Avenatti said the client had agreed to an FBI investigation and a polygraph test.
When asked whether she would take her story public regardless of whether the committee called her to testify, Avenatti responded: ''Correct.''
''We have not arrived at a firm plan relating to the initial disclosure of these allegations,'' he said. ''We are still working through it. This is a very dynamic situation with a lot of emotions at stake.''
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Democrats to Michael Avenatti: You're Not Helping in the Kavanaugh Fight
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 03:18
On Sunday evening, just as The New Yorker revealed the identity of a second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, attorney Michael Avenatti announced that he, too, had ''credible information'' about Kavanaugh and his high-school friend Mark Judge.
The media-savvy lawyer told The Daily Beast on Monday that his client would be coming forward ''in the next 48 hours'' with details and accusations that mirrored those already leveled and could, in his estimation, torpedo Kavanaugh's confirmation'--all of which would seem helpful for Democrats as they make the case that Kavanaugh is morally unfit to sit on the Supreme Court.
And yet, Avenatti's late appearance in this heated confirmation fight has some in the party fearful that he will end up doing more harm than good'--in particular, giving Republicans ammunition to condemn and dismiss the allegations against Kavanaugh as a political hit job.
''Mr. Avenatti has a tendency to sensationalize and make his various crusades more about himself than about getting at the truth,'' said a senior Senate Democratic aide. ''This moment calls for the exact opposite.''
Avenatti, who has flirted with a 2020 presidential bid, has so far revealed only some information about the allegations he is set to bring forward. He has yet to provide evidence or identify the woman he is representing, only teasing that he may do so via a television interview before Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford'--who has accused the federal judge of sexual assault'--appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Democratic senators stopped short of criticizing Avenatti, but appeared to be low on patience with his tactic of dribbling out information before a dramatic big reveal, fearful that it undermined the seriousness of the issue of sexual assault.
''If Michael Avenatti has any evidence, he should come forward promptly. If he has a client who has relevant information, I welcome hearing from him,'' Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), a member of the judiciary committee, said in an interview. ''If there are additional allegations to come forward, this would absolutely be the time because I don't see us pursuing this matter much more than the next week or two at most.''
Coons suggested Avenatti should have followed in the footsteps of Ford, who ''attempted to contact news outlets and the committee before Judge Kavanaugh was confirmed as being the nominee.'' The senator added that her claims are ''credible'' because she was ''trying to balance a deep yearning to remain confidential'... while also wanting to make sure that the general public knew her allegations.'' But Avenatti is thus far dragging his feet, according to committee aides and senators who say he has yet to provide the committee with evidence or any other information. As a result, some on their side of the aisle are skeptical of the claims.
''I believe there is a decent chance the person he reps may have a real allegation,'' said another Democratic source working on the confirmation proceedings. ''But he undercut it. If he had vetted it through a media outlet and had journalists represent it in a well-reported way or have the committee introduce it, it would have been better.''
Avenatti showed little concern that his involvement might complicate matters for Democrats as they press the case against Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Instead, in a brief phone interview, he ridiculed his detractors for not appreciating the stakes of the confirmation battle ahead of them.
''I think that is ridiculous and I think it is another example of certain Democrats being weak-kneed and not up for the fight,'' he told The Daily Beast. ''If the heat is too hot in the kitchen they need to just get out.''
Avenatti is a reviled figure among Republicans. And his involvement in the Kavanaugh fight quickly gave them talking points after the New Yorker story was published. Leah Vukmir, the Republican running against Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), pointed to Avenatti as evidence that the allegations writ large were politically motivated.
''Michael Avenatti, presidential aspirant of Stormy Daniels fame, has decided he also wants to join the Democrat delay circus and what has become clear is that the Far Left is engaged in an all-out, no-holds-barred, last-minute character assassination, rather than responsibly vetting and filling a seat on the Supreme Court,'' Vukmir said in a statement.
While Democrats were loath to criticize Avenatti on the record'--fearful that his bombastic Twitter attacks might be directed their way'--privately, aides on Capitol Hill recoiled at the way he had presented his allegations. On Sunday evening, Avenatti took to Twitter to release bits and pieces of his email conversations with Mike Davis, the chief counsel for nominations for Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Davis reached out to Avenatti within minutes of his initial tweet, saying the committee wanted to look into the celebrity attorney's claims and asking him to provide evidence.
''Is this about Avenatti or the women?'' said Adam Jentleson, a former top aide to ex-Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). ''Hopefully it's about raising up the voices of women and I guess we'll find out in the next few days.''
Taylor Foy, a spokesman for the GOP side of the judiciary committee, said the panel had not received anything from Avenatti since he publicly released his email correspondence with Davis.
''I would check his Twitter,'' Foy quipped when asked if they had had any additional interactions with Avenatti. ''I don't think that we have, but where we left it was we said, send us evidence of whatever you or, if you have a client, what it is they are alleging.''
In one of his emails to Davis, Avenatti said he has ''significant evidence'' that Kavanaugh and Judge targeted women ''with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a 'train' of men to subsequently gang rape them.''
Asked about the allegations in an interview with Fox News on Monday night, Kavanaugh said ''that's totally false and outrageous. I've never done any such thing, known about any such thing.''
Avenatti's claims come at an incredibly tense moment in the Kavanaugh deliberations. The newest revelation from Deborah Ramirez'--who told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were freshmen at Yale'--didn't appear to change the dynamic on Capitol Hill. If anything, it seemed to embolden Republican leaders, who pledged on Monday to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court amid what they view as a coordinated effort to smear and defame the nominee.
''Senate Democrats and their allies are trying to destroy a man's personal and professional life on the basis of decades-old allegations,'' a defiant Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Monday. He vowed that Kavanaugh would get a vote on the Senate floor.
Other Republicans pounced on reporting from The New York Times that appeared to undercut Ramirez's claims. The Times reported that it ''could find no one with firsthand knowledge'' of Ramirez's allegation after interviewing ''several dozen people,'' adding that Ramirez herself called ex-classmates and told them she was not ''certain'' that Kavanaugh was the individual who exposed himself to her.
''Frankly, I know Judge Kavanaugh very well. I believe him,'' Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told reporters, calling Ramirez's allegation ''phony.''
At the same time, though, other Kavanaugh allies on Capitol Hill softened their expectations on Monday'--a clear shift from the near-uniform confidence expressed just a week ago, and an indication that Kavanaugh's fate will rest heavily on his and Ford's testimonies before the judiciary committee on Thursday.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who shepherded Kavanaugh through the confirmation process, appeared to cast doubt on his prospects. ''Well, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see,'' he told The Daily Beast when asked if he still believes Kavanaugh will be confirmed.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of the GOP leadership, added: ''Let's see what everybody has to say this week.''
4Chan is claiming they BURNED Michael Avenatti with fake Kavanaugh witness!!! '' The Right Scoop
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 03:17
4Chan is claiming credit for pranking Porny Daniel's scumbag lawyer Michael Avenatti with a fake Kavanaugh witness using a burner phone:
Here's an easier version to read. Be warned, they give gross details in the claim:
One reason that so many on social media find his plausible is that Avenatti did make his Twitter account PRIVATE this morning. I noticed it myself. It's been private all day.
The other reason people want to believe is, well, how awesome would it be for Avenatti to get pranked by 4chan on something like this!!!
Here's what our friends on Twitter are saying about it:
I've never wanted something in my whole life to be true as much as I want Avenatti getting 4Chan pranked to be true.
'-- Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) September 25, 2018So to sum up, rumors are flying Michael Avenatti, the creepy porn lawyer, locked his Twitter account because his supposed Kavanaugh victim is a prankster off 4Chan that successfully trolled him.
'-- Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) September 25, 2018Did Stripper Matlock get punked by a bunch of 4Chan frogs? https://t.co/cFEpFdZVdU
'-- Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) September 25, 2018. @MichaelAvenatti owes it to America right now to answer about this 4chan rumor.
'-- Greg Pollowitz (@GPollowitz) September 25, 2018Ladies and gentlemen, this may be nuclear grade news. Was the creepy porn lawyer pranked by 4Chan? His account is private now!!!! This is unconfirmed, but more plausible that whatever story he was going to drop.... https://t.co/Fjnmm2Psc9
'-- John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) September 25, 2018Please God let the 4chan story be true please please please please please
'-- Neva (@pipandbaby) September 25, 2018I'm not saying that Michael Avanetti got totally owned by a 4chan prank. But if he did, and if he also gets disciplined or even disbarred for falsely maligning a federal judge, or even prosecuted for sending false or misleading information to the Judiciary Committee... pic.twitter.com/gNi4TUtmmS
'-- Ken Gardner (@KenGardner11) September 25, 2018If Avenatti really was punked by 4chan, I may have to head down to my local bar and buy everyone a round.
'-- Brittany Hughes (@RealBrittHughes) September 25, 2018What is a 4Chan? And where do I sign up? lol
'-- ðŸ--ª SºperStabbyðŸ--ª (@SuperAndrea) September 25, 2018And'...
What if 4Chan punked people into thinking Avenatti got punked by 4Chan?
'-- Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) September 25, 2018Entirely possible.
You can be sure Avenatti will never own up to being pranked. But with his Twitter account being private all day, it does make me wonder'...
We Are Living Orwell's 1984 | National Review
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 02:19
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh listens at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, September 4, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters) Truth, due process, evidence, rights of the accused: All are swept aside in pursuit of the progressive agenda. G eorge Orwell's 1949 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is no longer fiction. We are living it right now.
Google techies planned to massage Internet searches to emphasize correct thinking. A member of the so-called deep state, in an anonymous op-ed, brags that its ''resistance'' is undermining an elected president. The FBI, CIA, DOJ, and NSC were all weaponized in 2016 to ensure that the proper president would be elected '-- the choice adjudicated by properly progressive ideology. Wearing a wire is now redefined as simply flipping on an iPhone and recording your boss, boy- or girlfriend, or co-workers.
But never has the reality that we are living in a surreal age been clearer than during the strange cycles of Christine Blasey Ford's accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
In Orwell's world of 1984 Oceania, there is no longer a sense of due process, free inquiry, rules of evidence and cross examination, much less a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Instead, regimented ideology '-- the supremacy of state power to control all aspects of one's life to enforce a fossilized idea of mandated quality '-- warps everything from the use of language to private life.
Oceania's Rules
Senator Diane Feinstein and the other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee had long sought to destroy the Brett Kavanaugh nomination. Much of their paradoxical furor over his nomination arises from the boomeranging of their own past political blunders, such as when Democrats ended the filibuster on judicial nominations, in 2013. They also canonized the so-called 1992 Biden Rule, which holds that the Senate should not consider confirming the Supreme Court nomination of a lame-duck president (e.g., George H. W. Bush) in an election year.
Rejecting Kavanaugh proved a hard task given that he had a long record of judicial opinions and writings '-- and there was nothing much in them that would indicate anything but a sharp mind, much less any ideological, racial, or sexual intolerance. His personal life was impeccable, his family admirable.
Kavanaugh was no combative Robert Bork, but congenial, and he patiently answered all the questions asked of him, despite constant demonstrations and pre-planned street-theater interruptions from the Senate gallery and often obnoxious grandstanding by ''I am Spartacus'' Democratic senators.
So Kavanaugh was going to be confirmed unless a bombshell revelation derailed the vote. And so we got a bombshell.
Weeks earlier, Senator Diane Feinstein had received a written allegation against Kavanaugh of sexual battery by an accuser who wished to remain anonymous. Feinstein sat on it for nearly two months, probably because she thought the charges were either spurious or unprovable. Until a few days ago, she mysteriously refused to release the full text of the redacted complaint, and she has said she does not know whether the very accusations that she purveyed are believable. Was she reluctant to memorialize the accusations by formally submitting them to the Senate Judiciary Committee, because doing so makes Ford subject to possible criminal liability if the charges prove demonstrably untrue?
The gambit was clearly to use the charges as a last-chance effort to stop the nomination '-- but only if Kavanaugh survived the cross examinations during the confirmation hearing. Then, in extremis, Feinstein finally referenced the charge, hoping to keep it anonymous, but, at the same time, to hint of its serious nature and thereby to force a delay in the confirmation. Think something McCarthesque, like ''I have here in my hand the name . . .''
Delay would mean that the confirmation vote could be put off until after the midterm election, and a few jeopardized Democratic senators in Trump states would not have to go on record voting no on Kavanaugh. Or the insidious innuendos, rumor, and gossip about Kavanaugh would help to bleed him to death by a thousand leaks and, by association, tank Republican chances at retaining the House. (Republicans may or may not lose the House over the confirmation circus, but they most surely will lose their base and, with it, the Congress if they do not confirm Kavanaugh.)
Feinstein's anonymous trick did not work. So pressure mounted to reveal or leak Ford's identity and thereby force an Anita-Hill''like inquest that might at least show old white men Republican senators as insensitive to a vulnerable and victimized woman.
The problem, of course, was that, under traditional notions of jurisprudence, Ford's allegations simply were not provable. But America soon discovered that civic and government norms no longer follow the Western legal tradition. In Orwellian terms, Kavanaugh was now at the mercy of the state. He was tagged with sexual battery at first by an anonymous accuser, and then upon revelation of her identity, by a left-wing, political activist psychology professor and her more left-wing, more politically active lawyer.
Newspeak and Doublethink
Statue of limitations? It does not exist. An incident 36 years ago apparently is as fresh today as it was when Kavanaugh was 17 and Ford 15.
Presumption of Innocence? Not at all. Kavanaugh is accused and thereby guilty. The accuser faces no doubt. In Orwellian America, the accused must first present his defense, even though he does not quite know what he is being charged with. Then the accuser and her legal team pour over his testimony to prepare her accusation.
Evidence? That too is a fossilized concept. Ford could name neither the location of the alleged assault nor the date or time. She had no idea how she arrived or left the scene of the alleged crime. There is no physical evidence of an attack. And such lacunae in her memory mattered no longer at all.
Details? Again, such notions are counterrevolutionary. Ford said to her therapist 6 years ago (30 years after the alleged incident) that there were four would-be attackers, at least as recorded in the therapist's notes.
But now she has claimed that there were only two assaulters: Kavanaugh and a friend. In truth, all four people '-- now including a female '-- named in her accusations as either assaulters or witnesses have insisted that they have no knowledge of the event, much less of wrongdoing wherever and whenever Ford claims the act took place. That they deny knowledge is at times used as proof by Ford's lawyers that the event 36 years was traumatic.
An incident at 15 is so seared into her lifelong memory that at 52 Ford has no memory of any of the events or details surrounding that unnamed day, except that she is positive that 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh, along with four? three? two? others, was harassing her. She has no idea where or when she was assaulted but still assures that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were drunk, but that she and the others (?) merely had only the proverbial teenage ''one beer.'' Most people are more likely to know where they were at a party than the exact number of alcoholic beverages they consumed '-- but not so much about either after 36 years.
Testimony? No longer relevant. It doesn't matter that Kavanaugh and the other alleged suspect both deny the allegations and have no memory of being in the same locale with Ford 36 years ago. In sum, all the supposed partiers, both male and female, now swear, under penalty of felony, that they have no memory of any of the incidents that Ford claims occurred so long ago. That Ford cannot produce a single witness to confirm her narrative or refute theirs is likewise of no concern. So far, she has singularly not submitted a formal affidavit or given a deposition that would be subject to legal exposure if untrue.
Again, the ideological trumps the empirical. ''All women must be believed'' is the testament, and individuals bow to the collective. Except, as in Orwell's Animal Farm, there are ideological exceptions '-- such as Bill Clinton, Keith Ellison, Sherrod Brown, and Joe Biden. The slogan of Ford's psychodrama is ''All women must be believed, but some women are more believable than others.'' That an assertion becomes fact due to the prevailing ideology and gender of the accuser marks the destruction of our entire system of justice.
Rights of the accused? They too do not exist. In the American version of 1984, the accuser, a.k.a. the more ideologically correct party, dictates to authorities the circumstances under which she will be investigated and cross-examined: She will demand all sorts of special considerations of privacy and exemptions; Kavanaugh will be forced to return and face cameras and the public to prove that he was not then, and has never been since, a sexual assaulter.
In our 1984 world, the accused is considered guilty if merely charged, and the accuser is a victim who can ruin a life but must not under any circumstance be made uncomfortable in proving her charges.
Doublespeak abounds. ''Victim'' solely refers to the accuser, not the accused, who one day was Brett Kavanaugh, a brilliant jurist and model citizen, and the next morning woke up transformed into some sort of Kafkaesque cockroach. The media and political operatives went in a nanosecond from charging that she was groped and ''assaulted'' to the claim that she was ''raped.''
In our 1984, the phrase ''must be believed'' is doublespeak for ''must never face cross-examination.''
Ford should be believed or not believed on the basis of evidence, not her position, gender, or politics. I certainly did not believe Joe Biden, simply because he was a U.S. senator, when, as Neal Kinnock's doppelganger, he claimed that he came from a long line of coal miners '-- any more than I believed that Senator Corey Booker really had a gang-banger Socratic confidant named ''T-Bone,'' or that would-be senator Richard Blumenthal was an anguished Vietnam combat vet or that Senator Elizabeth Warren was a Native American. (Do we need a 25th Amendment for unhinged senators?) Wanting to believe something from someone who is ideologically correct does not translate into confirmation of truth.
Ford supposedly in her originally anonymous accusation had insisted that she had sought ''medical treatment'' for her assault. The natural assumption is that such a term would mean that, soon after the attack, the victim sought a doctor's or emergency room's help to address either her physical or mental injuries '-- records might therefore be a powerful refutation of Kavanaugh's denials.
But ''medical treatment'' now means that 30 years after the alleged assault, Ford sought counseling for some sort of ''relationship'' or ''companion'' therapy, or what might legitimately be termed ''marriage counseling.'' And in the course of her discussions with her therapist about her marriage, she first spoke of her alleged assault three decades earlier. She did not then name Kavanaugh to her therapist, whose notes are at odds with Ford's current version.
Memory Holes
Then we come to Orwell's idea of ''memory holes,'' or mechanisms to wipe clean inconvenient facts that disrupt official ideological narratives. Shortly after Ford was named, suddenly her prior well-publicized and self-referential social-media revelations vanished, as if she'd never held her minor-league but confident pro-Sanders, anti-Trump opinions. And much of her media and social-media accounts were erased as well.
Similarly, one moment the New York Times '-- just coming off an embarrassing lie in reporting that U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley had ordered new $50,000 office drapes on the government dime '-- reported that Kavanaugh's alleged accomplice, Mark Judge, had confirmed Ford's allegation. Indeed, in a sensational scoop, according to the Times, Judge told the Judiciary Committee that he does remember the episode and has nothing more to say. In fact, Judge told the committee the very opposite: that he does not remember the episode. Forty minutes later, the Times embarrassing narrative vanished down the memory hole.
The online versions of some of the yearbooks of Ford's high school from the early 1980s vanished as well. At times, they had seemed to take a perverse pride in the reputation of the all-girls school for underage drinking, carousing, and, on rarer occasions, ''passing out'' at parties. Such activities were supposed to be the monopoly and condemnatory landscape of the ''frat boy'' and spoiled-white-kid Kavanaugh '-- and certainly not the environment in which the noble Ford navigated. Seventeen-year-old Kavanaugh was to play the role of a falling-down drunk; Ford, with impressive powers of memory of an event 36 years past, assures us that as a circumspect 15-year-old, she had only ''one beer.''
A former teenage friend of Ford's sent out a flurry of social-media postings, allegedly confirming that Ford's ordeal was well known to her friends in 1982 and so her assault narrative must therefore be confirmed. Then, when challenged on some of her incoherent details (schools are not in session during summertime, and Ford is on record as not telling anyone of the incident for 30 years), she mysteriously claimed that she no longer could stand by her earlier assertions, which likewise soon vanished from her social-media account. Apparently, she had assumed that in 2018 Oceania ideologically correct citizens merely needed to lodge an accusation and it would be believed, without any obligation on her part to substantiate her charges.
When a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, followed Ford seven days later to allege another sexual incident with the teenage Kavanaugh, at Yale 35 years ago, it was no surprise that she followed the now normal Orwellian boilerplate: None of those whom she named as witnesses could either confirm her charges or even remember the alleged event. She had altered her narrative after consultations with lawyers and handlers. She too confesses to underage drinking during the alleged event. She too is currently a social and progressive political activist. The only difference from Ford's narrative is that Ramirez's accusation was deemed not credible enough to be reported even by the New York Times, which recently retracted false stories about witness Mark Judge in the Ford case, and which falsely reported that U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley had charged the government for $50,000 office drapes.
As in 1984, ''truths'' in these sorts of allegations do not exist unless they align with the larger ''Truth'' of the progressive project. In our case, the overarching Truth mandates that, in a supposedly misogynist society, women must always be believed in all their accusations and should be exempt from all counter-examinations.
Little ''truths'' '-- such as the right of the accused, the need to produce evidence, insistence on cross-examination, and due process '-- are counterrevolutionary constructs and the refuge of reactionary hold-outs who are enemies of the people. Or in the words of Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono:
Guess who's perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It's the men in this country. And I just want to say to the men in this country, ''Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing, for a change.''
The View's Joy Behar was more honest about the larger Truth: ''These white men, old by the way, are not protecting women,'' Behar exclaimed. ''They're protecting a man who is probably guilty.'' We thank Behar for the concession ''probably.''
According to some polls, about half the country believes that Brett Kavanaugh is now guilty of a crime committed 36 years ago at the age of 17. And that reality reminds us that we are no longer in America. We are already living well into the socialist totalitarian Hell that Orwell warned us about long ago.
IN THE NEWS: '[WATCH] Testimony of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford To Be Open'
The Mines | Pedestrian Observations
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 02:03
There's a literary trope in which an ambitious young man goes to work in the mines for a few years to earn an income with which to go back home. In the US it's bundled into narratives of the Wild West (where incomes were very high until well into the 20th century), but it also exists elsewhere. For example, in The House of the Spirits, the deuterotagonist (who owns an unprofitable hacienda) works in the mines for a few years to earn enough money to ask to marry a society woman. The tradeoff is that working in the mines is unpleasant and dangerous, which is why the owners have to pay workers more money.
More recently, the same trope has applied in the oil industry. People who work on oil rigs, which as a rule are placed in remote locations, get paid premiums. Remote locations with oil have high incomes and high costs in North America, but even the Soviet Union paid people who freely migrated to Siberia or the far north extra. The high wages in this industry are especially remarkable given that the workers are typically not university-educated or (in the US) unionized; they cover for poor living conditions, and a hostile environment especially for families.
I bring up this background because of conditions that I've heard second-hand in San Francisco. When I first heard of university-educated adults living several to a bedroom, I assumed that it was a result of extremely high rents and insufficient incomes. But no: I am told a reasonably transit-accessible two-bedroom in San Francisco proper is $5,500 a month at market rate, which is affordable to a mid-level programmer at a large tech firm living alone or to entry-level programmers (or non-tech professionals) living one to a bedroom.
And yet, I've heard of Google programmers living two to three to a bedroom in Bernal Heights, not even that close to BART. I've also heard a story of people near the Ashby BART stop in Berkeley renting out their front porch; the person sleeping the porch was not a coder, but some of the people living inside the house were.
I have not talked to the people in these situations, only to friends in Boston who live one person (or one couple) to a bedroom, even though they too can afford more. As I understand it, they treat the Bay Area as like working in the mines. They earn a multiple of the income they would in other industries with their education and skills, and have no particular ties to the region. (Some East Coasters have taken to use the expression ''drain to the Bay,'' complaining that friends in tech often end up leaving Boston for San Francisco.) The plan is to save money and then retire in their 30s, or take a lower-paying job in a lower-cost city and start a family there.
Overcrowding is not normal in San Francisco. The American Community Survey says that 6.7% of city housing units have more than one person per room (look up the table ''percent of occupied housing units with 1.01 or more occupants per room''); it's actually below state average, which is 8.3%. Some very poor people presumably have more overcrowding, especially illegal immigrants (who the census tends to undercount). Figuring out overcrowding by demographic from census data is hard: the ACS reports crowding levels by public use microdata area (PUMA), a unit of at least 100,000 people, and the highest crowding in San Francisco (13.7%) is in the SoMa and Potrero PUMA, which covers both the fully gentrified SoMa area and poorer but gentrifying areas of the Mission. But it's conceivable that crowding levels among tech workers are not comparable to those of the working-class residents of the Mission that they displace.
People endure this overcrowding only when they absolutely need to for work. In a situation of extremely high production amenities (that is, a tech cluster that formed in Silicon Valley and is progressively taking over the entire Bay Area), comfort is not a priority. Joel Garreau's The Nine Nations of North America describes people in San Francisco viewing the city as utopian for its progressive lifestyle, temperate climate, and pretty landscape. Today, the middle class views the city as a dystopia of long commutes, openly antisocial behavior, human feces on sidewalks, poor schools, and car break-ins.
Moreover, the present housing situation makes sure the city's comfort levels (that is, consumption amenities) will keep deteriorating. The tech industry so far keeps growing, adding more people to a city that's not building enough housing to accommodate this growth. High incomes are paying for public services through increased sales tax receipts, but the money has to then be spent on extra services to people rendered homeless by rising rents and on ever higher salaries for teachers to keep up with living costs for families. Overall, a homogeneously rich place like some Silicon Valley suburbs has low public-sector costs, but during the decades long process of gentrification and replacement of the working class by the middle class costs can rise even amidst rising incomes.
The mines are not a stable community. They are not intended to be a community; they're intended to extract resources from the ground, regardless of whether these resources are tangible like oil or intangible like tech. There may be some solidarity among people who've had that experience when it comes to specifics about the industry (which they tend to support, viewing it as the source of their income) or maybe the occasional issue of work conditions. But it's not the same as loyalty to the city or the region.
AT&T and Harman bring connected features to your older car - Autoblog
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 22:20
Featured Sep 25th 2018 at 8:55AM Spark plug-in module adds tracking, safety and an LTE hotspotEngadgetAT&T is joining the ranks of carriers that can bring a whole suite of connected car technology to older passenger vehicles. It's launching the Harman Spark, an OBD-II dongle that adds diagnostics, tracking and LTE data to cars from 1996 and beyond. Unlike the old ZTE Mobley, this isn't just about internet access. It can alert you to car trouble (including theft), help you find and pay for roadside help and locate your vehicle.
It could also be particularly helpful to watchful parents. You can create geofences that warn when the car leaves a certain area, and provide driving scores to teens who are a little too enthusiastic with the pedals.
The Spark will be available Sept. 28 for $80, although what you'll pay for service will vary. You can spend $5 per month if you're not interested in a hotspot, or buy a data plan (either stand-alone or attached to your phone service) if you want to get your kids' tablet online. Although this won't be a slick as buying a car with cell data built-in, it could serve as a valuable tool if you aren't in a rush to replace your existing wheels.
AT&T NewsroomThis version of the article contains additional content that can't be rendered here. Click here to view the original.
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Ebola outbreak in DRC ends: WHO calls for international efforts to stop other deadly outbreaks in the country
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 13:21
Today marks the end of the ninth outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The World Health Organization (WHO) congratulates the country and all those involved in ending the outbreak, while urging them to extend this success to combatting other diseases in DRC.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, joined Minister of Health Dr Oly Ilunga for the announcement in Kinshasa.
''The outbreak was contained due to the tireless efforts of local teams, the support of partners, the generosity of donors, and the effective leadership of the Ministry of Health. That kind of leadership, allied with strong collaboration between partners, saves lives,'' said Dr Tedros.
Unlike previous Ebola outbreaks in the country, this one involved four separate locations, including an urban centre with river connections to the capital and to neighbouring countries, as well as remote rainforest villages. There were initial concerns that the disease could spread to other parts of DRC, and to neighbouring countries.
Within hours of the outbreak being declared on 8 May, WHO released US$2 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies, deployed a team to augment capacity in the field, and activated an emergency incident management system.
''WHO moved quickly and efficiently,'' said Dr Moeti, ''We also demonstrated the tremendous capacity of the African region. More than three-quarters of the 360 people deployed to respond came from within the region. Dozens of experts from Guinea spent weeks leading Ebola vaccination efforts here, transferring expertise which will enable the DRC to mount an effective response both within its borders and beyond.''
Dr Tedros urged the DRC Government and the international community to build on the positive momentum generated by the quick containment of the Ebola outbreak.
''This effective response to Ebola should make the Government and partners confident that other major outbreaks affecting the country such as cholera and polio can also be tackled,'' said Dr Tedros. ''We must continue to work together, investing in strengthened preparedness and access to healthcare for the most vulnerable.''
Note to editorsFundingWHO's rapid response and scale up of operations in the DRC was funded by a total of US$4 million disbursement from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE). WHO and partners appealed for US$57 million to stop the spread of Ebola. The total funds received by all partners, as tracked by OCHA, amount to US$63 million. Funding towards WHO's contribution to the Ebola response was provided from: Italy ('‚¬ 300 000), UN CERF (US$ 800 000), Gavi (US$ 1 million), USAID (US$ 5.3 million), Wellcome Trust and UK-DFID (US$ 4.1 million), UK-DFID (£5 million), Germany ('‚¬5 million), Norway (NOK 8 million), Canada (CAD$1 million), World Bank PEF (US$ 6.8 million), Japan (US$1.3 million), EU ECHO ('‚¬ 1.5 million) and from the Ebola MPTF (US$ 428,000) bringing the total to approximately US$ 36 million. Germany's contribution is in recognition of the critical role the WHO CFE has played in responding to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and will go to replenish the CFE, which provided initial funds for the response efforts. In-kind contributions for medical evacuation were received from Norway. EU ECHO support was provided for flights between Kinshasa and Mbandaka. Technical expertise was provided by Guinea, the UK, USA and Germany through the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN). Merck provided the vaccines that were used to protect over 3300 people.WHO partners in the DRC Ebola response included the following:The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo Red Cross), M(C)decins Sans Fronti¨res (MSF), the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF), the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa-CDC), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC), ECHO, the Department for International Development (DFID), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, UNCERF, UNOCHA, MONUSCO, UNFPA, International Organization for Migration (IOM), the FAO Emergency Management Centre '' Animal Health (EMC-AH), the International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), the UK Public Health Rapid Support team, the EPIET Alumni Network (EAN), the International Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Emerging Diseases Clinical Assessment and Response Network (EDCARN), the World Bank and PATH. The Government of Guinea deployed more than 30 Ministry of Health staff to assist with the ring vaccination campaign, and Merck provided the Ebola vaccine. Additional coordination and technical support through the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), Association pour le d(C)veloppement de l'(C)pid(C)miologie de terrain (EPITER), European Mobile Laboratory (EMLab), Infection Control Africa Network (ICAN), Institut Pasteur (IP), National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), South Africa, Robert Koch Institut (RKI), and Emergency Medical Teams (EMT).
Google's Tool to Help Cities Fight Climate Change - The Atlantic
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 13:11
The company will begin estimating local carbon pollution from cities around the world.
Robinson Meyer 7:30 AM ET Aly Song / ReutersIn the next decade or so, more than 6,000 cities, states, and provinces around the world will try to do something that has eluded humanity for 25 years: reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, which warm the atmosphere and cause climate change.
The city-level leaders overseeing this task won't have the same tools available to their national peers. Most of them won't have an Environmental Protection Agency (or its equivalent), a meteorological bureau, a team of military engineers, or NASA. So where will they start? Never mind how to reduce their city's greenhouse-gas emissions, how will they know what's spewing carbon dioxide in the first place?
Maybe Google will do it for them. Or, at least, do it with them.
Google has started estimating greenhouse-gas emissions for individual cities, part of what it recently described as an ambitious new plan to deploy its hoard of geographic information on the side of climate-concerned local leaders.
''The first step toward taking climate action is creating an emissions inventory,'' says Saleem Van Groenou, a program manager at Google Earth. ''Understanding your current situation at the city scale, and understanding what you can do to it'--that's an information problem, and that's a good place for Google to sit.''
So far, the company has only released estimates for five cities, including Pittsburgh, Buenos Aires, and Mountain View, California. It plans to expand the program gradually to cover municipalities worldwide, but has declined to provide more specific plans. ''What we envision is an open search bar for users to search for their own city in the future,'' Van Groenou told me.
As part of this initiative, Google says it will also release its proprietary estimates of a city's annual driving, biking, and transit ridership, generated from information collected by its popular mapping apps, Google Maps and Waze. The company has never released this kind of aggregate transportation data to the public before, and it says it may share even more specific types of data with individual local governments.
''This information has historically been really hard to get a hold of,'' Van Groenou said. ''But this is precise data, like looking at the 'red-yellow-green' traffic in Google Maps and aggregating it up for an entire year.''
Google made the announcement earlier this month as part of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The summit, organized in part by California Governor Jerry Brown, is meant to encourage states and cities that have advanced climate policy since President Donald Trump took office. These local programs do much, but they have not replaced climate policies revoked by Trump: A recent report from Yale and a number of European think tanks found that these ''subnational'' programs could make up about half of the United States' pledged carbon cuts under the Paris Agreement.
Google has framed the new project, called the Environmental Insights Explorer, as a way for leaders to focus and improve local climate programs.
The victims of climate change are already here
The explorer remains a better tool for getting a glancing sense of a city's carbon emissions than it is for making meticulous policy. Right now, it can only estimate carbon emissions from electricity and from transportation'--two important sources of pollution, but not the only ones. Heavy industry and agriculture, for instance, generate roughly a third of U.S. emissions. Google is also hampered by the age and quality of some data: To estimate how much carbon is emitted to power a given city, it must use a six-year-old data set from the EPA.
But it can still provide useful information. In Pittsburgh, for instance, it estimates that the power grid drives more than three times the emissions as the transportation sector. The situation is reversed in Buenos Aires, where cars and trucks produce twice the pollution created by the electricity grid.
''This is not sufficient information to decide whether to build another tunnel underneath the Hudson. We don't know that yet. But we can say that, in Buenos Aires, you should probably focus on transportation as opposed to building emissions,'' Van Groenou said.
The tool can further help would-be city planners imagine a more eco-friendly city. If Pittsburghers took an extra 1 million trips per year by bike, instead of by car, they would prevent almost 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide from spewing the atmosphere. The project also integrates some data from Project Sunroof, a Google program that aims to make it easier to install rooftop solar panels.
Local governments may be most excited about Google's plan to release some ridership data. This will be the first time that Google has publicly estimated how many car trips occur to, from, or within a city every year. (There are about 547 million total in Pittsburgh.)
Mike Gardner Sweeney, the transportation director for the city of Boulder, Colorado'--one of the few cities in the country with a carbon tax'--said that there was ''definitely a lot of interest'' from municipal managers in getting this type of Google data. Though Boulder uses a variety of technologically advanced methods to estimate travel time, the Google Maps and Waze data would augment both its real-time and more long-term sense of road use, he said. (Boulder is not working with Google at the moment.)
The Environmental Protection Agency prepares the gold-standard estimates of greenhouse gas emissions for the United States. But these figures do not extend to the local level. Google is ''not here to compete with the EPA in any way,'' Van Groenou said. In fact, the company cannot duplicate U.S.-level carbon estimates right now, because it would double-count all trips between two municipalities. But Van Groenou told me he hopes that Google can help cities better understand their own climate situation'--particularly since having a shared method of estimating emissions would let cities in different countries compare their climate policies.
''The bottom line is that this is not something that Google can do alone,'' Van Groenou said. ''This is a communal thing. This is something we have to come together to make any change on.''
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.
Robinson Meyer is a staff writer at
The Atlantic, where he covers climate change and technology.
Ebola outbreak in DR Congo could escalate rapidly '' WHO '-- RT Newsline
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 13:10
Published time: 25 Sep, 2018 09:11 Edited time: 25 Sep, 2018 09:27
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo could escalate rapidly. The WHO cited attacks by armed groups, community resistance and the geographic spread of the disease. ''We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks and months to create a perfect storm,'' WHO's Head of Emergency Response Peter Salama told reporters in Geneva. The latest outbreak of the deadly disease has been focused in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which have been a tinder box of armed rebellion and ethnic killing since two civil wars in the late 1990s, Reuters reports.
Data brokers are missing from a Senate hearing on privacy and the national conversation.
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 13:08
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Tuesday US briefing: third Kavanaugh accuser may come forward | US news | The Guardian
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 12:51
Good morning. I'm Tim Walker, and this is the news. If you'd like to receive the briefing by email, sign up here.
Sign up for the US morning briefingTop story: Republicans rage as new Kavanaugh accuser waits in wingsThe Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has decried what he calls a ''choreographed smear campaign'' as a third woman threatened to come forward with claims of sexual misconduct by the supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The unnamed woman's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said she was keen to testify to the Senate judiciary committee and that her accusations date to Kavanaugh's time as a pupil at the elite Georgetown prep school. (Recognise Avenatti's name? He also represents Stormy Daniels.)
- Safe space. Appearing on Fox News with his wife, Kavanaugh denied all the allegations, insisting he ''did not have sexual intercourse, or anything close to sexual intercourse, in high school or many years after''.
- Creeping doubt. A Fox News poll has found conservative women growing uneasy with Kavanaugh's nomination. Overall, voters believed the claims of his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, over his denials by a six-point margin.
Rosenstein to meet Trump amid resignation rumoursThe deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, is pencilled in to meet Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday, after reports that he had resigned or been fired. The meeting apparently came at Rosenstein's request, after the New York Times reported last week that he had discussed secretly recording the president or invoking the 25th amendment in the early days of the Trump administration.
- Rod replacement. Should Rosenstein vacate his post, oversight of the Mueller investigation would likely fall to the solicitor general, Noel Francisco, formerly a prominent Republican lawyer.
Ban Ki-moon blasts 'morally wrong' US healthcare systemThe former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has described the US healthcare system as ''politically wrong, morally wrong'' and ''unethical'', blaming big pharma and other business interests for blocking reform. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Ban said he could not see why ''the most resourceful and richest country in the world does not introduce universal health coverage''.
- Medical costs. The US has the world's most expensive health system, accounting for almost one-fifth of GDP and costing well over $10,000 per person per year.
- Trump effect. A recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that an additional 4 million people had lost health coverage since Trump was elected.
Trump to address UN in New YorkTrump is due to address the UN general assemblyon Tuesday morning, after signing a new bilateral trade agreement with South Korea on Monday. The annual event opened this week in New York. We will have live coverage of Trump's speech from 9am ET.
- Looking north. Trump said he was looking forward to another meeting with his ''very open and terrific'' North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un, which he said would be announced soon.
- Children are our future. The New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, made history (again) on Monday, when she became the first female leader to bring her baby to the UN summit.
Crib sheet- Instagram's co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, have resigned amid rumoured tensions with Facebook overlord Mark Zuckerberg.
- An Alpine museum that documents the crimes of the Nazis is trying to prevent the site of Adolf Hitler's Berghof '' his former retreat in the Bavarian Alps '' becoming a shrine for the far right.
- Officials in Jalisco state, Mexico, have been forced to admit using stationery trailers to store corpses after drug war violence overwhelmed the region's morgues.
- A judge has returned the grizzly bears of Yellowstone national park to the endangered species list, banning grizzly hunting in Idaho and Wyoming in and around the park.
Must-readsSwelter or swim: climate gentrification hits poorer hardest
While wealthy Arizonans flee the desert for cooler climes, 'climate gentrification' is also affecting hipster Red Hook, exposed on New York City's floodplain. In Texas, campaigners want the oil industry to help pay for a coastal barrier to shield six counties from storm surges. And Molly Peterson asks what you can do if you buy a disaster-prone property and nobody warned you: so far, not much.
How a yoga teacher became a YouTube phenomenon
Adriene Mishler, an actor and yoga teacher from Austin in Texas, has earned a worldwide following with YouTube videos such as ''Seven-Minute Bedtime Yoga'' and ''Yoga on a Farm''. She recently drew a crowd of thousands to a class at Alexandra Palace in north London. Ellie Violet Bramley met ''the people's yogi''.
The Ice raid that traumatised a small Ohio town
It's three months since more than 100 armed US immigration agents converged on the Fresh Mark meat packaging plant in the town of Salem, Ohio. Most of the more than 140 people arrested were Guatemalan immigrants suspected of being in the US illegally. Kari Lydersen studies the scars the raid left on this small midwestern community.
Sleepless in '... Seattle? The world's most nap-deprived cities
A study has found that people in Tokyo average just five hours and 46 minutes' sleep per night. In big cities around the world, there's a growing market for sleep aids and nap-friendly spaces. Hettie O'Brien investigates.
OpinionWomen are angry, organised and preparing for political battle '' and the GOP ought to be worried about what that means for the midterms, writes LA Kauffman.
The key story of the midterms is the large number of progressive women taking on the crucial, unglamorous work that swings elections: registering voters, canvassing door-to-door, preparing to get people to the polls.
SportThe Croatia captain and Real Madrid mainstay Luka Modrić has been named Fifa men's footballer of the year, with the Brazil legend Marta crowned as the world's best female player.
Are Toronto's Inebriatti and New York's Garden State Ultras genuine expressions of MLS fandom, or just an ersatz imitation of bygone European hooliganism? Graham Ruthven reports.
Sign upThe US morning briefing is delivered by email every weekday. If you are not already receiving it, make sure to subscribe.
Sign up for the US morning briefingSupport the GuardianWe'd like to acknowledge our generous supporters who enable us to keep reporting on the critical stories. If you value what we do and would like to help, please make a contribution or become a supporter today. Thank you.
Driverless car makers could face jail if AI causes harm
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 12:48
Makers of driverless vehicles and other artificial intelligence systems could face jail and multi-million pound fines if their creations harm workers, according to the Department of Work and Pensions.
Responding to a written parliamentary question, government spokesperson Baroness Buscombe confirmed that existing health and safety law "applies to artificial intelligence and machine learning software".
This clarifies one aspect of the law around AI, a subject of considerable debate in academic, legal and governmental circles.
Under the Health and Safety Act of 1974, directors found guilty of "consent or connivance" or neglect can face up to two years in prison.
This provision of the Health and Safety Act is "hard to prosecute," said Michael Appleby, a health and safety lawyer at Fisher Scoggins Waters, "because directors have to have their hands on the system."
However, when AI systems are built by startups, it might be easier to establish a clear link between the director and the software product.
Companies can also be prosecuted under the Act, with fines relative to the firm's turnover. If the company has a revenue greater than £50 million, the fines can be unlimited.
The Health and Safety Act has never been applied to a case of artificial intelligence and machine learning software, so these provisions will need to be tested in court.
Image: Bosses at AI firms could face prosecution if their technology causes harmIn practice, says Chris Jackson, a partner in the health and safety team at law firm Burges Salmon, the law could apply to a wide range of activities.
"The general duties'... deliberately apply a wide obligation to manage all risks generated by a work activity," he said. This could include harm to members of the public caused by unsafe AI.
Perhaps the true significance of the announcement is the responsibilities that ruling gives the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE now becomes one of the numerous regulators of AI, a group that includes the Information Commissioner's Office and the recently-opened Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.
For some, this suggested that existing legal systems were well-equipped to cope with new technology.
"There is nothing magical about AI or machine learning, and someone building or deploying it needs to comply with the relevant regulatory framework," said Neil Brown, director of legal technology firm decoded:Legal.
However, others questioned the Health and Safety Executive's ability to understand the complex technology, which under the current regime is left to companies to test.
"I'm sceptical both that industry's own tests will be deep and comprehensive enough to catch important issues, and that the regulator is expert enough to meaningfully scrutinise them for rigour," said Michael Veale, researcher in responsible public sector machine learning at University College London.
"While killer robots might be the first thing that comes to mind here," Mr Veale added, "less flashy systems designed to manage workers, such as to track them around the factory or warehouse floor, set and supervise their tasks, and monitor their activities in detail, can have complex mental and physical effects that health and safety regulators need to grapple with."
Sky News has contacted HSE for comment.
Sirius XM to buy Pandora in $3.5 billion streaming push | Reuters
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 12:37
(Reuters) - Satellite radio company Sirius XM Holdings Inc will buy online music service Pandora Media Inc in a $3.5 billion all-stock deal that will help it battle growing competition from streaming rivals Spotify and Apple Music.
Sirius XM, controlled by media mogul John Malone's Liberty Media Corp, has built a name supplying more than 175 channels to car drivers, but has largely trailed Pandora, Spotify Technology SA and Apple in mobile and streaming content.
Monday's deal gives the pair a market value of about $34 billion, topping Spotify's $31.2 billion and follows through on Sirius' purchase of a 15 percent preferred-stock stake in Pandora for $480 million last year.
''We view the read through to Spotify as slightly negative as it could face a stronger competitor in the U.S. while at the same time one of the only large swaths of ad-supported listeners in the fast-maturing U.S. goes off the market,'' SunTrust analyst Matthew Thornton said.
Sirius shares, however, fell 4.2 percent to $6.69 as investors worried the company had overpaid.
Shares in Pandora, which has posted losses for at least the past eight quarters, rose 6.5 percent to $9.68 in early trading, slightly below an offer value of $10.05 based on Sirius' Friday closing price.
The deal, worth $2.68 billion at the offer price, is expected to generate more than $7 billion in expected pro-forma revenue in 2018. Analysts said the two businesses were largely complementary.
''SIRI cannot offer on-demand radio, and cannot offer customization, and Pandora offers both,'' said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
''Sirius can merge Pandora's radio business into its satellite subscription business, and can also begin to offer on-demand to its large installed base of satellite subscribers.''
Pandora has been trying to mark its position in an industry where competitors are routinely adding new features, giving away discounts and offering more content, including interviews with popular musicians.
Pandora shareholders will get a fixed-exchange ratio of 1.44 newly-issued Sirius XM shares for each share held.
If the deal is terminated, Pandora will have to pay either $52.5 million or $105 million, depending on the circumstances, the company said in a filing.
Sirius XM said following the deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019, Pandora stockholders will own 8.6 percent of the pro forma company on a fully diluted basis.
Sirius XM Chief Executive Officer James Meyer said on a conference call that the company had been in talks with Pandora even before its Chief Executive Officer Roger Lynch took up the position in August last year.
''We had a conversation 15 months ago. We couldn't reach an agreement on value quite honestly,'' Meyer said.
Allen & Co LLC and BofA Merrill Lynch are financial advisers to Sirius XM, while Centerview Partners LLC, LionTree Advisors LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co LLC are financial advisers to Pandora.
Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham, Bernard Orr
Bloom Energy's Tangled Green Web Of Lies | Climate Dispatch
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 12:29
Bloom Energy executives, investment bankers, venture capitalists, politicians, regulators and others involved in advancing Bloom's business, reputation and financial dealings are living the complicated life that flows from lying.
Lies typically start small. Often, they're small deceptions. But deceptions can metastasize into a tangled web of lies that threatens corporate survival, as truth intrudes over time from all sides.
For years the truth about Bloom's business and ethics has intruded. But Bloom successfully parried them, going public on the New York Stock Exchange in July 2018. Its stock came out at $15 and has doubled.
Prior to going public, a competitor's CEO said he hoped the oft-delayed IPO would happen because it would force Bloom to ''dial back their practice of playing very loose with the truth.''
He meant the Securities and Exchange Commission would be watching, to protect the public. He proved prophetic.
Within a day of going public, Bloom's PR people were walking back its CEO's rosy, inappropriate and unfounded financial predictions. Death by a thousand SEC and other cuts is the fate that awaits Bloom, now that it's public.
It may come sooner and with greater effect than most over-hyped green company failures '' especially after a recent Heritage Foundation program exposed many of its shenanigans.
Bloom makes solid oxide fuel cells, which use an electrochemical reaction to convert natural gas into electricity on the customer's site. Bloom claims cost advantages in the generation and from no transmission lines.
Bloom also claims its ''green'' electricity costs 9-11 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), close to what its competitors charge. But Bloom's promoted rates come after it receives federal, state and sometimes county subsidies.
Absent these, Bloom's rates would be 25-30 cents a kWh, making it seriously uncompetitive. Even its IPO statements admit a critical dependence on subsidies.
Bloom claims ''greenness,'' but the USEPA says its fuel cells produce hazardous materials in the filters needed to ''scrub'' impurities from the natural gas.
While acknowledging the hazmats, Bloom claims it is somehow exempt from being labeled a ''hazmats generator'' '' which is critical for Bloom's marketing.
EPA and Bloom are battling this in the courts. Meanwhile, at least one Bloom customer has paid an environmental fine (without admitting fault) for improperly handling (Bloom's) hazmats.
If Bloom loses this lawsuit, it has another hazmat exemption up its sleeve. Get cut by a sword, parry a stroke, get cut by another.
Everyone likes being green. Apple brags it's 100% green, although its solar panels and Bloom generators at the Maiden, N.C., site don't provide electricity to Apple.
Instead, this electricity goes directly to Duke Power, which must pay top retail prices when the sun shines and Bloom cells function.
Apple reaps this income while also getting Duke Power's lowest rates as a high-volume customer. What a sweet arrangement.
But what Apple and other Bloom customers really like are the subsidies they receive when installing ''virtuous'' Bloom generators.
A manufacturer can sell a lot of anything when someone else pays for it. Of course, in this case, the ''someone else'' is taxpayers and ratepayers.
The federal Investment Tax Credit for fuel cell manufacturers like Bloom ran out in 2016. Sales predictably declined.
But Senators Carper (D-DE), Blumenthal (D-CT) and Schumer (D-NY) successfully lobbied to reinstate the ITC retroactively for 2016 and into the future.
That will cost the taxpayers between $600 and $900 million. The fuel cell industry will show appreciation in Washington's typical swampy ways.
Thanks to the ITC reinstatement, Bloom also got fawning financial reporting, and its much-delayed IPO became a reality.
The company had been running on fumes and losing $30 million per month. The instant $270 million in reinstated subsidies breathed new life into it.
Bloom's financial parent is the impressive venture firm, Kleiner Perkins. In February 2010, KP's chief John Doerr put top executives from Google, eBay, Walmart, FedEx, and Coca-Cola onstage to promote Bloom technology.
To open his long adulation, Doerr said the event reminded him and Google co-founder Larry Page of Google's own IPO. His slick, alluring statement helped bolster Bloom's prominence and value.
Page then praised Bloom, saying Google was Bloom's first customer and he foresees Bloom powering a ''whole data center running on [its fuel cells] at some point'' (time mark 15:55 in the video).
But Google installed only four 100 kW Bloom generators at its headquarters in July 2008.
This is a pittance, and only one generator ''needed to work'' at a mere 60% capacity for just 30 days to permit or persuade Google to endorse Bloom's technology and help Morgan Stanley raise $100 million for Bloom later that year.
Since then, Google has added no more Bloom generators '' an endorsement of a very different sort.
Other deceptions played out in Delaware, where Bloom cut a sweetheart deal involving 30 megawatts of fuel-cell generating capacity (75 times Google's total install) and a virtually free manufacturing facility.
Bloom promised 900 jobs, monthly consumer costs of under $1, and 96% operating ''up'' time. They delivered 277 jobs, $5/month (and rising) electricity costs, and 86% ''up'' time.
The missing jobs triggered a $1.5 million penalty '' versus the $12 million that Delaware paid Bloom to locate there and some $200+ million that Bloom has received so far from state ratepayers under its sweetheart deal.
The 623 missing Delaware jobs are in India.
In 2013, Bloom was found guilty of hiring Mexican workers for a third of the federal minimum wage and paying them in pesos. It also violated overtime and record-keeping provisions.
These ethics violations and operational deceptions highlight bigger questions. Can a company actually thrive or even survive if it has lost $2+ billion, has annual interest expenses exceeding $100 million, and produces a product that exists only because of multiple subsidies?
Can the company be kept on life support and ''media spin'' long enough for insider investors to cash out? (But would you want to bet against Kleiner Perkins and its powerful business and political accomplices?)
It's instructive that several top Kleiner Perkins people have recently left or announced their departure; its top tier has shrunk from nine to five.
This month, top-tier player Mary Meeker announced that she and her team will leave to form their own firm.
It's rumored that these departures were precipitated, at least in part, by KP's decisions to back ''clean tech,'' the financial disappointments from that decision, and rumblings about misstatements of material facts to legislators and regulators.
Several years ago, Advanced Equities investment bank executives argued that Bloom (and others) had misled them, and they in turn simply passed the deceptions on to investors.
In 2012, the SEC shut the bank down and fined two of its top executives for doing insufficient due diligence. It will be interesting to see how the SEC and other government agencies treat KP executives and others involved in Bloom's web of deception.
Equally intriguing, in filing for its IPO, Bloom disclosed large payments to the two Advanced Equities execs '' including post-IPO shares, hundreds of thousands of preferred shares and warrants, and a $5 million loan.
Many wonder if these payments and their accompanying non-disclosure agreements illegal hush money?
Others say Bloom personifies influence peddling among the swamp denizens of Washington and state legislatures.
Eventually, taxpayers and ratepayers will demand comprehensive reform to end this behavior. Savvy Wall Street analysts are already catching on.
In Delaware, Bloom's costs are transparently displayed on monthly consumer electric bills. People are already asking, ''What are all these renewable energy charges, and why do we have to pay them?''
In 1906, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle portrayed the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in Chicago, exposing the meat-packing industry's flagrant corruption.
Despite the absence of radio and television at the time, the book created a national uproar and call for reform, which quickly resulted in the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.
Today's digital and social media could (and should) generate taxpayer and consumer reactions to Bloom's crony corporatist subsidy saga akin to the public response to The Jungle.
Consumers will learn to trust their electric bills, not the tangled web of deceptions woven in our political swamps.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for several think tanks and author of books and articles on energy, climate change, and economic development. Clint Laird focuses on energy issues for The Caesar Rodney Institute, a research and education think tank that promotes public policy cost transparency.
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Instagram's Co-Founders to Step Down From Company - The New York Times
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 12:21
Image Kevin Systrom, left, and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram. Credit Credit Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times SAN FRANCISCO '-- Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of the photo-sharing app Instagram, have resigned and plan to leave the company in the coming weeks, adding to the challenges facing Instagram's parent company, Facebook.
Mr. Systrom, Instagram's chief executive, and Mr. Krieger, the chief technical officer, notified Instagram's leadership team and Facebook on Monday of their decision to leave, said people with direct knowledge of the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Mr. Systrom and Mr. Krieger did not give a reason for stepping down, according to the people, but said they planned to take time off after leaving Instagram. Mr. Systrom, 34, and Mr. Krieger, 32, have known each other since 2010, when they met and transformed a software project built by Mr. Systrom into what eventually became Instagram, which now has more than one billion users.
[Read more: How Instagram rose to become a cultural powerhouse.]
In a statement late Monday, Mr. Systrom said he and Mr. Krieger were ''ready for our next chapter,'' and hinted that they would create something new.
''We're planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again,'' Mr. Systrom said. ''Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that's what we plan to do.''
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, praised the Instagram founders in a statement and said that he wished them ''all the best and I'm looking forward to seeing what they build next.''
The departures raise questions about Instagram's future at a time when Facebook faces its most sustained set of crises in its 14-year history. For much of the past two years, critics have railed against Facebook for being careless with user data and for not preventing foreign interference across its network of more than two billion people. The issues have started taking a toll on Facebook's business, with the company saying in July that growth in digital advertising sales and in the number of its users had slowed down.
Against those problems, Instagram has been one of the jewels of Facebook. The social network acquired Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, when the photo-sharing site was used by around 30 million people. Since then, Instagram's reach has ballooned and it has widely been seen as one of Facebook's most successful acquisitions.
Facebook has lost other founders of businesses it has acquired. In April, Jan Koum, a Facebook board member and a founder of WhatsApp, the messaging app that the social network purchased in 2014, said he was leaving. Mr. Koum had grown increasingly concerned about Facebook's position on user data in recent years, people with knowledge of the situation said at the time.
In Silicon Valley, reaction to the Instagram founders' resignation was swift.
''Wow,'' tweeted John Lilly, a venture capitalist at Greylock, calling the exits ''a real moment.'' He added, ''What an impact they've had on all of us.''
Instagram was founded in 2010 and at first was a location check-in app called Burbn. Mr. Krieger, an enthusiastic user of Burbn, met Mr. Systrom at a Stanford University fellowship program and they decided to work together. Eventually, Burbn was retooled and renamed Instagram.
Instagram became popular in Silicon Valley almost immediately. The app heavily emphasized the use of a smartphone camera as iPhones were being widely adopted, turning everyday people into amateur photographers. Mr. Systrom and Mr. Krieger popularized photo filters and camera lenses, spurring a wave of copycat apps for the iPhone and Android-based smartphones.
The duo worked out of a small office in the South Park neighborhood of San Francisco. Instagram spent a lot of money in its early years just trying to keep its app online as its servers struggled under the constant stream of new user sign-ups.
Instagram eventually caught the eye of Mr. Zuckerberg, who realized how powerful Instagram's nascent photo-sharing network would become, and saw the wealth of photo-sharing activity across his own social network. Mr. Zuckerberg handled the negotiations with Mr. Systrom and Mr. Krieger largely on his own.
Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock (though the final cost was closer to $715 million because the stock on which part of the deal was based declined in value). It was Facebook's biggest acquisition to date, and came a month before the social network's initial public offering.
''For years, we've focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family,'' Mr. Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post about the deal. ''Now, we'll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.''
The deal immediately turned Mr. Systrom and Mr. Krieger into millionaires many times over. Instagram has since been valued at 100 times that $1 billion acquisition price by Bloomberg Intelligence, a sizable return on investment on paper.
Facebook went on to purchase Parse, a service that provided tools for mobile developers, and Oculus, a virtual reality hardware start-up, branching into new areas beyond the original social network. Mr. Zuckerberg also spent $19 billion to buy WhatsApp.
But Instagram remained Mr. Zuckerberg's main success story. As Facebook saw a threat in young people departing the network for Snapchat, a rival photo-sharing network, Instagram was quick to shift and recreate one of Snapchat's key features of online stories. Since then, Instagram has surged further in popularity, while Snapchat's growth has been inconsistent.
The departures of Mr. Systrom and Mr. Krieger create uncertainty around the app. It is unclear who will lead the company on the founders' departures, and if that person can continue Instagram's longstanding success streak. Marne Levine, who was previously Instagram's chief operating officer, left her role at Instagram earlier this month to return to Facebook and lead partnerships.
Follow Mike Isaac on Twitter: @MikeIsaac.
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Is the podcast bubble bursting? - Columbia Journalism Review
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 12:21
Podcasting was supposed to be one of the saviors of digital media'--inexpensive, addicting, profitable, and popular. But now it's like the old line from baseball legend Yogi Berra: ''That place is so popular, no one goes there any more.'' Panoply, the podcasting unit set up by Slate magazine, recently laid off most of its staff and says it will now become just a distributor of podcasts rather than the creator of them'--despite what appeared to be strong support for its existing podcasts. And on Wednesday, BuzzFeed announced it was also laying off staff at its podcasting unit'--the company said it will continue to do podcasts, but won't have a dedicated team the way it used to, and will now mostly use freelancers rather than staff. Audible, the audio arm of retail giant Amazon, also laid off some staff from its podcasting unit recently.
There have also been a couple of developments that on first glance seem more positive: At the same time Slate Media announced that Panoply was shifting focus, Slate editor Jacob Weisberg said he was leaving to join a podcasting startup with longtime friend Malcolm Gladwell. And radio conglomerate iHeartMedia announced that it was buying Stuff Media, a podcasting business, for $55 million'--although it's unclear whether the acquisition is a sign that there is still gold in the podcasting hills, or that iHeartMedia is desperate to find some kind of growth after having to file for bankruptcy protection due to its massive $10-billion debt load.
Everybody tells me that podcasting is a fantastic business to be in, which is why it's a bit weird that first Panoply and now BuzzFeed are shutting down their podcasting operations https://t.co/aa35M0jtec
'-- Felix Salmon (@felixsalmon) September 19, 2018
So if one of the benefits of podcasting was that they made good money, why are companies like BuzzFeed shutting down or downsizing their operations? One obvious answer is a glut of supply'--in 2015, a list of the ''must listen'' podcasts was 200 items long. At some point, even podcasting aficionados started to wonder who had time to to listen to all those podcasts. A similar thing happened with video, after everyone pivoted to short-form video because Facebook said it wanted as much as possible. After creating teams of people to produce them, monetization failed to follow, in part because Facebook never rolled out a reliable way of doing it, and has now moved on to focus on longer form video for its Watch feature. And many video teams at newspapers and news websites were left twisting in the wind.
Even the fact that podcasting became a hot commodity in the first place seemed rather unlikely at the time'--after all, the concept is so old that it uses the term ''pod,'' in reference to the Apple iPod, a device that hasn't been popular for years. Podcasts were originally a kind of niche market, driven mostly by nerds doing tech or movie reviews, and then they suddenly became more popular after a few podcasts struck a chord with a larger audience, like the original Serial podcast in 2014, about a man unjustly accused of murder. Soon, media companies were launching them left and right, and creating teams to produce more. Podcasting startups emerged, and two public radio veterans quit to start their own would-be podcasting empire called Gimlet Media.
As often happens whenever the crowd moves en masse into a new format, the quality of podcasting also suffered. Creating good short-form video and audio requires different skills than writing and editing a print product, and not everyone is able to do it well. Even The New York Times' own public editor criticized the paper for moving too quickly into video for Facebook and sacrificing quality in the process. In the case of podcasting, there are a lot of shows consisting of armchair pundits (mostly white men) talking about something they saw or read, without adding much insight.
Podcasting can also be difficult to monetize: Audio is difficult to summarize or browse through (although some podcasts do offer transcripts), which arguably makes it out of sync with the short attention span culture of social media'--although that's also what many people like about it. In any case, sharing short clips the way one does with video doesn't really go viral in the same way, and that makes it difficult to market podcasts the way other media assets get marketed. Also, podcasting doesn't really have an established way of measuring success that advertisers can get comfortable with, apart from just tracking raw downloads.
The BuzzFeed "pivot" away from podcasts makes sense when you remember that BuzzFeed lives and dies as a business on detailed analytics. Web content has them. Video has them. Podcasts still don't.
'-- Rose Eveleth '–·'–· (@roseveleth) September 19, 2018
The ironic thing about podcasts is that despite their flaws, they remain one of the best ways for a media outlet or publisher, even an individual, to connect with an audience of passionate supporters and pull them into a long-term relationship. But they are also time-consuming, and at a time when many media companies'--including giants like BuzzFeed'--are under pressure for revenue, they probably aren't the slam-dunk solution that a lot of companies are looking for. And so even highly creative podcasts like some of the ones BuzzFeed created can't find a home, which is unfortunate.
None of this is to say that podcasting is dead'--just that, like anything else, it requires an investment of time and money to do well, something that not every media company has a lot of right now. Perhaps it always made more sense as a niche market for a passionate few rather than the next big solution to the media's financial woes.
Editor's note: CJR's latest podcast, including discussions on the confessions of fallen men and Tucker Carlson, is here.
Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today. Mathew Ingram is CJR's chief digital writer. Previously, he was a senior writer with Fortune magazine. He has written about the intersection between media and technology since the earliest days of the commercial internet. His writing has been published in The Washington Post and the Financial Times as well as Reuters and Bloomberg.
Democrats to Michael Avenatti: You're Not Helping in the Kavanaugh Fight
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 12:09
On Sunday evening, just as The New Yorker revealed the identity of a second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, attorney Michael Avenatti announced that he, too, had ''credible information'' about Kavanaugh and his high-school friend Mark Judge.
The media-savvy lawyer told The Daily Beast on Monday that his client would be coming forward ''in the next 48 hours'' with details and accusations that mirrored those already leveled and could, in his estimation, torpedo Kavanaugh's confirmation'--all of which would seem helpful for Democrats as they make the case that Kavanaugh is morally unfit to sit on the Supreme Court.
And yet, Avenatti's late appearance in this heated confirmation fight has some in the party fearful that he will end up doing more harm than good'--in particular, giving Republicans ammunition to condemn and dismiss the allegations against Kavanaugh as a political hit job.
''Mr. Avenatti has a tendency to sensationalize and make his various crusades more about himself than about getting at the truth,'' said a senior Senate Democratic aide. ''This moment calls for the exact opposite.''
Avenatti, who has flirted with a 2020 presidential bid, has so far revealed only some information about the allegations he is set to bring forward. He has yet to provide evidence or identify the woman he is representing, only teasing that he may do so via a television interview before Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford'--who has accused the federal judge of sexual assault'--appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Democratic senators stopped short of criticizing Avenatti, but appeared to be low on patience with his tactic of dribbling out information before a dramatic big reveal, fearful that it undermined the seriousness of the issue of sexual assault.
''If Michael Avenatti has any evidence, he should come forward promptly. If he has a client who has relevant information, I welcome hearing from him,'' Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), a member of the judiciary committee, said in an interview. ''If there are additional allegations to come forward, this would absolutely be the time because I don't see us pursuing this matter much more than the next week or two at most.''
Coons suggested Avenatti should have followed in the footsteps of Ford, who ''attempted to contact news outlets and the committee before Judge Kavanaugh was confirmed as being the nominee.'' The senator added that her claims are ''credible'' because she was ''trying to balance a deep yearning to remain confidential'... while also wanting to make sure that the general public knew her allegations.'' But Avenatti is thus far dragging his feet, according to committee aides and senators who say he has yet to provide the committee with evidence or any other information. As a result, some on their side of the aisle are skeptical of the claims.
''I believe there is a decent chance the person he reps may have a real allegation,'' said another Democratic source working on the confirmation proceedings. ''But he undercut it. If he had vetted it through a media outlet and had journalists represent it in a well-reported way or have the committee introduce it, it would have been better.''
Avenatti showed little concern that his involvement might complicate matters for Democrats as they press the case against Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Instead, in a brief phone interview, he ridiculed his detractors for not appreciating the stakes of the confirmation battle ahead of them.
''I think that is ridiculous and I think it is another example of certain Democrats being weak-kneed and not up for the fight,'' he told The Daily Beast. ''If the heat is too hot in the kitchen they need to just get out.''
Avenatti is a reviled figure among Republicans. And his involvement in the Kavanaugh fight quickly gave them talking points after the New Yorker story was published. Leah Vukmir, the Republican running against Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), pointed to Avenatti as evidence that the allegations writ large were politically motivated.
''Michael Avenatti, presidential aspirant of Stormy Daniels fame, has decided he also wants to join the Democrat delay circus and what has become clear is that the Far Left is engaged in an all-out, no-holds-barred, last-minute character assassination, rather than responsibly vetting and filling a seat on the Supreme Court,'' Vukmir said in a statement.
While Democrats were loathe to criticize Avenatti on the record'--fearful that his bombastic Twitter attacks might be directed their way'--privately, aides on Capitol Hill recoiled at the way he had presented his allegations. On Sunday evening, Avenatti took to Twitter to release bits and pieces of his email conversations with Mike Davis, the chief counsel for nominations for Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Davis reached out to Avenatti within minutes of his initial tweet, saying the committee wanted to look into the celebrity attorney's claims and asking him to provide evidence.
''Is this about Avenatti or the women?'' said Adam Jentleson, a former top aide to ex-Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). ''Hopefully it's about raising up the voices of women and I guess we'll find out in the next few days.''
Taylor Foy, a spokesman for the GOP side of the judiciary committee, said the panel had not received anything from Avenatti since he publicly released his email correspondence with Davis.
''I would check his Twitter,'' Foy quipped when asked if they had had any additional interactions with Avenatti. ''I don't think that we have, but where we left it was we said, send us evidence of whatever you or, if you have a client, what it is they are alleging.''
In one of his emails to Davis, Avenatti said he has ''significant evidence'' that Kavanaugh and Judge targeted women ''with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a 'train' of men to subsequently gang rape them.''
Asked about the allegations in an interview with Fox News on Monday night, Kavanaugh said ''that's totally false and outrageous. I've never done any such thing, known about any such thing.''
Avenatti's claims come at an incredibly tense moment in the Kavanaugh deliberations. The newest revelation from Deborah Ramirez'--who told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were freshmen at Yale'--didn't appear to change the dynamic on Capitol Hill. If anything, it seemed to embolden Republican leaders, who pledged on Monday to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court amid what they view as a coordinated effort to smear and defame the nominee.
''Senate Democrats and their allies are trying to destroy a man's personal and professional life on the basis of decades-old allegations,'' a defiant Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Monday. He vowed that Kavanaugh would get a vote on the Senate floor.
Other Republicans pounced on reporting from The New York Times that appeared to undercut Ramirez's claims. The Times reported that it ''could find no one with firsthand knowledge'' of Ramirez's allegation after interviewing ''several dozen people,'' adding that Ramirez herself called ex-classmates and told them she was not ''certain'' that Kavanaugh was the individual who exposed himself to her.
''Frankly, I know Judge Kavanaugh very well. I believe him,'' Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told reporters, calling Ramirez's allegation ''phony.''
At the same time, though, other Kavanaugh allies on Capitol Hill softened their expectations on Monday'--a clear shift from the near-uniform confidence expressed just a week ago, and an indication that Kavanaugh's fate will rest heavily on his and Ford's testimonies before the judiciary committee on Thursday.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who shepherded Kavanaugh through the confirmation process, appeared to cast doubt on his prospects. ''Well, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see,'' he told The Daily Beast when asked if he still believes Kavanaugh will be confirmed.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of the GOP leadership, added: ''Let's see what everybody has to say this week.''
Great moments in university BS: UMich claims due process hurts poor students - The College Fix
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 12:07
Conveniently forgets it grants the use of lawyers for itself
The public and the media are captivated by grand, sweeping, all-or-nothing legal arguments that crusade for justice. Judges often prefer boring, technical, context-specific arguments.
It's hard to see how the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will be swayed by one of the dumbest arguments I've ever seen a university make in court.
Earlier this month the University of Michigan lost a major due-process case regarding its campus sexual-misconduct proceedings.
A three-judge panel that included Amul Thapar, a Supreme Court shortlister for President Trump, not only reiterated its 2017 ruling that public colleges must allow cross-examination in these proceedings, but also suggested they must allow attorneys to conduct the cross-examination if they don't want the parties themselves doing it.
The taxpayer-funded university filed a brief last week asking the full 6th Circuit to rehear the case, known as an en banc hearing. Here's one argument it's making, according to the Detroit Free Press:
''Requiring universities to allow cross- examination by counsel will convert disciplinary proceedings into full-scale adversarial hearings, with the university forced to preside,'' U-M wrote in the filing. ''Moreover, the panel opinion introduces new opportunities for unfairness, with economically advantaged parties likely represented by counsel, and others essentially appearing pro se or with only nonlawyer family members or support persons.''
This smacks of desperation. The appellate judges are fully aware that these proceedings are already adversarial because the university is prosecuting the accused student. In a typical proceeding that involves a hearing, a lawyer representing the university grills the accused student, whose attorney (if allowed at all) is not allowed to speak.
UMich accuses students as young as 17 or 18 of expulsion-worthy violations '' that will drag them down the rest of their life, if not drive them to suicide, if found responsible in these Star Chambers '' and then expects them to go into the lion's den without active representation. This is Jim Crow for Campus.
MORE: Yes, you must allow cross-examination under the Constitution
Its next argument boils down to Socialism for Due Process. If one student can afford a lawyer (nevermind whether his parents go into long-term debt to secure one), then it's unfair to other students who can't. Either everyone gets a lawyer, or no one gets a lawyer. ''No justice for all'' is superior to ''better justice for those with means.''
Maybe it could siphon some of the $11 million it's spending on diversity personnel to pay lawyers to represent the parties in each dispute. Or just call around to local attorneys to see if they'd do pro bono work.
Maybe it could call its own law school, which runs a legal clinic for those who are wrongly convicted. You know one reason people are wrongly convicted, particularly those who aren't white? Poor representation. You know, the kind you enforce on accused students.
Not allowing active representation, of course, leads to the question of who exactly is going to be asking questions of each party.
The university for the first time admitted to ignoring 6th Circuit precedent by depriving students of a ''live hearing'' where they can pose questions to each other '' a restriction it never imposed in proceedings for nonsexual violations.
But it won't let them cross-examine each other directly because they may be subject to ''embarrassing and nonprobative questions and accusations'' from each other.
You know who's good at deciding which questions are relevant and targeted at discovering the truth? Lawyers and judges! You know who's not? University bureaucrats who pretend they know what the hell they're doing.
MORE: What happens when amateurs run Title IX proceedings
The prevailing student's lawyer, Deborah Gordon, noted that Michigan taxpayers have spent ''hundreds of thousands'' of dollars defending this unconstitutional regime against the clear precedent of the 6th Circuit:
''The university intentionally created a policy depriving students accused of sexual misconduct of any due process,'' she told the Free Press. ''They did that even though they offer full due process to students accused of all other misconduct and where they know that a sexual assault violation has the most severe, life-changing impact. '...
''In this appeal, they concede for the first time that their no-hearing, no-cross-exam 'model' is unconstitutional. Yet they continue the appeal, unable to deal with the consequences of their own actions.''
The university must think the judges of the 6th Circuit are as clueless as its kangaroo-court bureaucrats.
MORE: UMich spends $11M on diversity personnel, not representation for students
IMAGE: iQoncept/Shutterstock
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Here's why Border Patrol seized two rail shipments of toys at International Falls crossing '' Twin Cities
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 12:03
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers recently seized thousands of toys at the U.S. and Canadian border crossing in Minnesota over lead and copyright concerns.
The toys were part of two rail shipments stopped this past summer at the rail yard in Ranier, Minn., part of the International Falls port of entry. Border Patrol officers seized the toys after routine inspections.
In July, officers found a rail car with 2,459 die-cast transporter carrying cases including toy model-cars suspected of containing higher lead levels than safety standards allowed. Test results on Sept. 7 confirmed the higher lead levels and the shipment was officially seized.
''(Officers) try and target different shipments of stuff that they haven't seen before,'' said Chris Misson, an assistant CBP port director. ''Something unique like toys would stand out.''
In August, officers noticed a rail car of 5,460 fashion dolls, similar to Barbies, with copyright markings. Upon further analysis, the dolls, worth an estimated $139,000, were found to be in violation of intellectual property rights. The shipment was officially seized on Sep. 10.
In a press release, CBP officials said: ''Stopping the flow of illicit goods is a priority trade issue for CBP. The importation of counterfeit merchandise can damage the U.S. economy and threaten the health and safety of the American people.''
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol encourages copyright holders to register their trademark and copyrighted materials through the CBP's online registration system.
Humans Are Causing Earth To Wobble More As It Spins, NASA Finds
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 12:00
Screenshot from NASA's polar motion simulation, indicating various contributing factors in Earth's wobble.NASA
An in-depth study conducted by NASA found that humans are responsible for the increasing wobble detected as Earth spins on its axis.
When you think of Earth you may think of an exact sphere, but Earth is actually an oblate spheroid, pockmarked with mountains and deep ocean trenches. These all combine to unevenly distribute weight across Earth's surface. This uneven distribution of weight on Earth's surface is one reason why Earth wobbles on its axis as it spins.
Recent research by NASA found that the wobble of Earth as it spins is broken up into three primary factors: glacial rebound, melting of ice, and mantle convection. Previously, scientists believed glacial rebound to be the primary factor in causing Earth to wobble. However, NASA believes three factors are equally responsible for about a third of Earth's wobble. Let's cover the three factors and what they mean. But first, you may find it interesting to visit NASA's interactive polar motion simulation.
The first factor is glacial rebound or isostatic rebound, what scientists previously thought was the primary contributor to Earth's wobble. Imagine Earth as a very large balance ball similar to the one in the photo below. As you can see, the lady on the balance ball is compressing the ball where she is in contact with the ball, causing a dent. To compensate for this, the sides of the ball just outside of the lady's outline bulges outward. This is an example of when large glaciers cover land masses such as North America. During the last ice age, about 26.5 thousand years ago, large expanses of land were covered in heavy glaciers.
This depressed land underneath the glaciers and causes land to bulge upward around the perimeter of the glaciers. However, as the glaciers melted, the land, just like the ball would, regain its original shape. This process is called glacial rebound, as Earth regains its original shape. The process is quite slow, meaning Earth is still rebounding from the last ice age. This is what scientists previously thought accounted for the entire wobble of Earth.
Isostatic rebound is similar to how a balance ball reacts to someone pushing on it.U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran
Now, we know that there are two other factors that influence Earth's wobble. Melting of ice, particularly on Greenland was found by NASA to account for one-third of Earth's wobble. This surprising finding directly links human actions with altering Earth's wobble. As humans continue to artificially warm the planet through releasing greenhouse gases, ice on land continues to melt at unprecedented rates. NASA estimates that 7,500 gigatons of Greenland's ice have melted into the ocean in the 20th century. This equals the weight of 20 million Empire State Buildings. The transfer of weight from Greenland to redistributed across the globe has caused Earth to wobble more than it would have otherwise.
The last factor, accounting for a third of Earth's wobble is mantle convection. This is an ongoing process in Earth's interior where molten rock is heated, rises in the mantle, cools off and falls back closer to Earth's core. Convection within the mantle is the driving mechanism of plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain ranges, and deep sea trenches.
Mantle ConvectionWikiCommons
In total, NASA found that Earth's spin axis has drifted about 10 meters in the 20th century alone. As ice continues to melt from continental masses such as Greenland, we will continue to see an increased wobble as Earth spins. Thankfully, the wobble is not large enough to impact ecosystems or our daily life. While it can impact navigation, modern technology can accurately account for changes in Earth's wobble.
What is surprising is how much humans are changing the fundamental nature of Earth and how it operates. Continuing to monitor Earth's wobble and its changes can act as a barometer for how much ice has melted here on Earth and put human's role on Earth into an astronomical perspective.
Maldives marine artwork destroyed for being a 'threat to Islamic unity' | World news | The Guardian
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 11:59
A new sculptural work, Coralarium, created by artist and environmentalist Jason deCaires Taylor, was demolished last week after it was deemed anti-Islamic. The semi-submerged artwork was criticised by religious leaders and scholars in the Maldives, where Islam is the official religion. The depiction of human figures in art is discouraged under Islamic law.
The government ordered the destruction of the artwork, after a court ruled it to be a threat to ''Islamic unity and the peace and interests of the Maldivian state'', the Maldives Independent reported, despite the authorities previously granting permission.
The project by DeCaires Taylor, who is known for his underwater sculptures and galleries around the world, was commissioned by the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort, owned by the Accor hotel group, as an ''intertidal gallery'', and was completed in July. The large steel frame with cutouts aiming to mimic the marine world was intended to allow sea life to explore freely within, acting as a new habitat for coral and other species. Thirty human figures were positioned on top and inside the frame at tidal level, with others submerged beneath. The sculptures were based on life-casts of people, around half of them Maldivian, with some reimagined as hybrid forms including coral or root-like elements.
Nine months in the making, its creation involved a large teamof marine engineers, steel fabricators, divers and mould-makers. Specialist materials included pH-neutral steel, which is safe for use in a marine environment. Changing according to light and tides, the artwork was open to resort guests and day visitors.
However, on 21 September the work was destroyed under court order with pickaxes, saws and ropes.
''On Friday last week I was extremely shocked and heartbroken to learn that my sculptures have been destroyed by the Maldivian authorities at the Coralarium, despite continued consultations and dialogue,'' deCaires Taylor said. ''The Coralarium was conceived to connect humans to the environment and a nurturing space for marine life to thrive. Nothing else! The Maldives is still beautiful, with a warm and friendly population, but it was a sad day for art and a sad day for the environment.''
Soon after it was installed, a statement was released by the president's office, stating that ''due to significant public sentiment against the installation'', the ministry of tourism would facilitate the removal of the sculptures. Although the English statement describes the work as ''sculptures'', the Maldivian uses the word ''budhu'', which means idol, the worship of which is considered a sin in Islam.
The discussion spread across social media and into pre-election speeches of politicians last week. The outgoing president, Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), had come under fire during his time in office for not removing the artwork quickly enough, including from president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Democratic Party. The destruction of the artwork occurred only days before the general election, which saw Yemeen losing out to Solih on 23 September. In the run-up to the election the PPM manifesto had outlined the establishment of ''Artists' Hubs in key tourist areas''.
In the days leading up to the election, Solih, speaking to the Maldives Independent, said: ''We have a need to define what idols are. Religious scholars or the fatwa council must deliberate on this and specify what things can be labeled as idols. Some people on social media are even saying if these are idols, then mannequins are idols, too.''
In a statement to the Guardian, the Accor hotel group said: ''While we are very surprised by the removal of eco-art pieces by the authorities, we respect the people, traditions and customs of the Maldives. The removal process was peaceful and friendly without interruption to our world famous service. The Coralarium structure and underwater trees remains intact, ensuring the coral restoration programme remains alive and well. We have initiated immediate reimagination plans with the artist, creating a new underwater gallery that will be in harmony with the locals and environment.''
' This article was amended on 25 September 2018 to include a statement from Accor hotels group. An earlier version also misnamed the Maldives Independent newspaper as the Malaysian Independent.
Trump: No statehood for Puerto Rico with critics in office
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 11:38
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- President Donald Trump on Monday declared himself an "absolute no" on statehood for Puerto Rico as long as critics such as San Juan's mayor remain in office, the latest broadside in his feud with members of the U.S. territory's leadership.
Trump lobbed fresh broadsides at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yul­n Cruz, a critic of his administration's response to hurricanes on the island last year, during a radio interview with Fox News' Geraldo Rivera that aired Monday.
"With the mayor of San Juan as bad as she is and as incompetent as she is, Puerto Rico shouldn't be talking about statehood until they get some people that really know what they're doing," Trump said in an interview with Rivera's show on Cleveland's WTAM radio.
Trump said that when "you have good leadership," statehood for Puerto Rico could be "something they talk about. With people like that involved in Puerto Rico, I would be an absolute no."
Gov. Ricardo Rossello, an advocate of statehood for the island, said Trump's remarks had trivialized the statehood process because of political differences.
"The president said he is not in favor of statehood for the people of Puerto Rico based on a personal feud with a local mayor. This is an insensitive, disrespectful comment to over 3 million Americans who live in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico," Rossello said.
He also questioned how the president of the United States could be at the U.N. General Assembly promoting democracy around the world while "in his own home there is the oldest and most populated colonial system in the world."
Cruz responded on Twitter: "Trump is again accusing me of telling the truth. Now he says there will be no statehood because of me."
Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in Congress, tweeted: "Equality 4 Puerto Ricans shouldn't be held up by one bad mayor who's leaving office in 2020 & do not represent the people who voted twice for statehood."
Trump's position on statehood for the island puts him at odds with the Republican Party's 2016 platform during its national convention, in which it declared support for Puerto Rican statehood.
The president's remarks followed his claims earlier this month that the official death toll from last year's devastating storm in Puerto Rico was inflated. Public health experts have estimated that nearly 3,000 people died in 2017 because of the effects of Hurricane Maria.
But Trump falsely accused Democrats of inflating the Puerto Rican death toll to make him "look as bad as possible."
Trump's pronouncements have roiled politics in Florida, which has crucial races for governor and U.S. Senate. The state was already home to more than 1 million Puerto Ricans before Hurricane Maria slammed into the island a year ago. Tens of thousands of residents fled Puerto Rico in the aftermath, with many of them relocating to Florida.
The issue of statehood for Puerto Rico '-- or some form of semi-autonomous relationship '-- has divided island residents in recent years. The debate over the island's "status" is the central feature of its politics and divides its major political parties.
The federal government has said previously it would accept a change in the status of Puerto Rico if the people of the island clearly supported the decision. But for decades, Puerto Ricans have been divided between those who favor statehood and those who want to maintain the commonwealth, perhaps with some changes. A small minority continue to favor independence.
The last referendum, in 2017, strongly supported statehood but opponents questioned the validity of the vote because of low turnout.
Any changes would need to be approved by Congress. Statehood legislation, with support from Republicans and Democrats, was introduced in June but appears unlikely to gain momentum as politicians remain hesitant to take up such a thorny issue.
___
On Twitter follow Ken Thomas at https://twitter.com/KThomasDC
Yale Law School Cancels Classes So That Students Can Protest Brett Kavanaugh | Daily Wire
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 11:23
Yale Law School was forced to cancel some classes Monday after students staged a walk-out protest against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, an alumnus of Yale Law School.
The students, dressed in black, staged a "sit-in" to demand a full investigation of sexual assault allegations leveled at Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, even though witnesses named by both women in reference to their respective accusations have failed to corroborate either story.
Ramirez alleged that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while drunk at a party during their freshman year at the Ivy League school.
Organizers, who planned the protest in connection with a number of anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations, organized around the country by NARAL, the Women's March, and other "feminist" organizations, told the Associated Press that Kavanaugh is a "real threat."
Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken issued a statement seemingly in support of the protesting students (though Gerken issued a statement earlier on in the nomination process praising Kavanaugh's work as a lower court judge).
"The allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are rightly causing deep concern at Yale Law School and across the country,'' she said. ''As dean, I cannot take a position on the nomination, but I am so proud of the work our community is doing to engage with these issues, and I stand with them in supporting the importance of fair process, the rule of law and the integrity of the legal system.''
Yale Law students, the Associated Press notes, are also traveling to Washington, D.C. for the nomination hearings on Thursday.
Instagram co-founders resign after alleged row with Zuckerberg in latest blow to Facebook '-- RT World News
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 11:18
Instagram's co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, have resigned. A report claims the pair left over disagreements with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Similar reports followed the resignations of WhatsApp's founders.
In a statement released late on Monday, Systrom said that he and Krieger were ''ready for [their] next chapter,'' and hinted that they would create something new. The photo-sharing company has grown from ''13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world,'' he noted, adding that the network had gathered ''a community of over one billion.''
The reason behind Systrom's and Krieger's departure is unclear. Bloomberg cited unnamed sources who claimed that the founders of Instagram were ''frustrated with an uptick in day-to-day involvement'' by Facebook's chief Mark Zuckerberg.'' The Facebook boss has become more reliant on the photo-sharing company in planning for Facebook's future, according to the report.
In the meantime, reacting to the men's resignation, Zuckerberg praised both men as ''extraordinary product leaders''.''I wish them all the best and I'm looking forward to seeing what they build next,'' he said.
The resignations come at a time when Facebook, which has 2 billion monthly users, lost several top executives at its biggest acquired platforms.
READ MORE: 'Patience reached limit': EU warns Facebook to comply with consumer rules by end of 2018
WhatsApp co-founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum resigned in 2017 and 2018 respectively, with Acton later calling on people to delete Facebook. Both reportedly stepped down over disagreements with Zuckerberg.
Systrom and Krieger created the photo-based social network in 2010, Facebook bought it only two years later for a hefty sum of $1 billion.
While Facebook has been repeatedly slammed for not providing its users with enough information on how it stores and uses their personal data, Instagram has been relatively untouched by criticism. Facebook's stock has taken a dramatic plunge in the wake of the scandal with Cambridge Analytica, which used an online quiz to harvest and collate Facebook users' information online.
Back in August, Zuckerberg admitted his company didn't do enough to prevent the social media platform ''from being used for harm''.''We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake,'' he said at the time.
Earlier in September, the EU called Facebook to explain what it does with its users' personal data and how it shares their information with third parties. EU Justice and Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova warned the giant to comply with consumer rules by December 2018.
The recent decision by Facebook to team up with two US government-funded think tanks '' the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) '' has also raised eyebrows. Mark Weisbrot, a co-director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, called Facebook's decision ''Orwellian'' and said that they ''specialize in overseas propaganda.''
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Box-Office Bomb: Why Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 11/9' Got Iced | Hollywood Reporter
Mon, 24 Sep 2018 20:02
The iconic filmmaker's latest doc wasn't the weekend's only casualty, as Dan Fogelman's 'Life Itself' and 'Assassination Nation' fared even worse in their nationwide debuts.In June 2004, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 '-- a critical examination of then-President George W. Bush '-- opened nationwide to a record-shattering $23.9 million from 868 cinemas, enough to top the weekend chart ahead of other new offerings like White Chicks and The Notebook in a remarkable showing for a political documentary.
More than 14 years later, Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9, tackling Donald Trump's election and presidency, didn't open with the same punch. Instead, it languished in its debut over the Sept. 21-23 weekend, placing No. 8 with a lowly $3.1 million from 1,702 theaters and marking a career-worst average for the filmmaker of $1,804. (As an example, Fahrenheit 9/11's average was $27,558.)
Moore worked hard to publicize the opening of the movie, which was distributed by Tom Ortenberg's new company, Briarcliff Entertainment. He appeared on MSNBC and CNN; visited The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Real Time With Bill Maher and The View; and was profiled on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter. But in the intervening years between the two Fahrenheit films, social media and the 24/7 news cycle have exploded, and that may have in effect diminished the impact that Moore's own voice has. In effect, his new critique of Trump is competing with the daily jokes and attacks lodged by cable news pundits and late-night comedians.
"Moore is part of the chorus these days, not the ringleader like he seemed to be back when Fahrenheit 9/11 dropped. Uncovering outlandish tweets and insane, alleged cover-ups is an everyday occurrence when it comes to Trump. Fahrenheit 11/9 felt outdated the day it dropped," said box-office analyst Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations.
Moreover, it was a huge gamble to open Fahrenheit 11/9 on 1,702 screens, the widest release of all time for a documentary that isn't a studio concert or nature film.
While Fahrenheit 9/11 succeeded after opening nationwide '-- it topped out at $119.2 million domestically and $222.4 million globally '-- almost every other political or specialized doc has opted for a platform release in order to build upon word-of-mouth and avoid losing theaters.
This summer, hit docs Won't You Be My Neighbor? ($22.6 million), RBG ($14 million) and Three Identical Strangers ($12.1 million) all rose to glory after launching in limited theaters. At its widest, Won't You Be My Neighbor? played in 832 theaters, while the other two never played in more than 450 locations. None of the films ever had a $3.1 million weekend like Fahrenheit just recorded '-- Neighbor's best weekend showing was $2.6 million in its fifth weekend when it was playing in 893 theaters '-- but by opening slowly and then building, all three were able to play for two to three months. Fahrenheit, however, will now face the challenge of holding onto theaters at a time when dozens of new fall entries, both studio and independent fare, will be competing for bookings.
Ironically, Fahrenheit's fate may have been foreshadowed by that of conservative filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza's summer offering, the pro-Trump Death of a Nation. Politically, the two couldn't be more different, but like Fahrenheit 11/9, D'Souza's latest offering opted to open nationwide. The doc grossed $2.4 million from 1,005 cinemas in its debut and topping out at $5.9 million, the worst showing of D'Souza's career.
Death of a Nation was playing in 354 locations by its third weekend and gone after six '-- again, a contrast to Neighbor, which played for 14 weekends.
Those backing Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9, which cost a reported $4 million to $5 million to make before marketing, insist the movie's opening gross isn't an issue. "We're optimistic," said Briarcliff distribution head Steve Bunnell, noting the film's A CinemaScore and strong PostTrak exit scores. "The idea was to have the movie play everywhere before the midterm elections."
Fahrenheit wasn't the weekend's only casualty in terms of a specialized film deciding to brave the nationwide waters. Opening a movie across North America requires a major hefty marketing spend for an indie distributor, i.e., at least $10 million to $20 million, which cannot compare with what a major studio has available to allocate on advertising.
This Is Us showrunner Dan Fogelman's star-studded Life Itself didn't even crack the top 10. The multigenerational drama, placing No. 11, earned an estimated $2.1 million from 2,578 cinemas, the second-worst showing of all time for a movie opening in more than 2,000 theaters.
Life Itself '-- ravaged by critics '-- is a major blow for Amazon Studios, which ponied up north of $10 million for rights to the film, which stars Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke, Laia Costa, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas.
Sam Levinson's satirical thriller Assassination Nation fared even worse, earning an estimated $1 million from 1,403 theaters for new specialty distributor Neon, which, in partnership with the Russo brothers, likewise paid north of $10 million for rights to the no-holds-barred, teen, black comedy after it premiered in January at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
Wide openings can be risky make-or-break propositions. And this weekend, the odds were not in their favor.
Multiple Online Banking Systems Go Down In The UK | Zero Hedge
Mon, 24 Sep 2018 17:15
Authored by Don Quijones via WolfStreet.com,
Payment chaos: For bottom-line-obsessed bank executives, IT systems are an expense to be slashed. The results are in.
Internet banking has become a crisis-prone business in the UK, as the online platforms of big banks suffer regular outages and other forms of IT disruption.
Friday morning, the online systems of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank and Natwest - all part of the RBS Banking Group - crashed in unison, leaving millions of customers unable to pay bills or view their balance on their online and mobile accounts. The group has 19 million customers in the UK and Republic of Ireland and 5.5 million active mobile app users.
After around five hours of chaos, the RBS Group announced that the problems had been resolved. The failure had apparently been caused by a ''technical glitch'' '-- a word that is being used with increasing frequency by high-street lenders '-- in a regular update to their firewall. The bank emphasized that it was an ''access issue'' and there is no evidence that customer data was compromised. But then, it would say that!
On Thursday, it was the turn of the UK's largest bank, Barclays, whose website and telephone banking service crashed for around seven hours, leaving frustrated customers locked out of their online accounts.
Fed-up customers took to social media to vent their anger, with some complaining that they were unable to access their accounts not only through the Internet platform but also ATMs. Barclays has around 24 million UK customers, though it's not clear how many of them were affected by the outage.
The bank told customers that they should still be able to make payments to existing payees through mobile banking, though new payees weren't possible due to the incident. It also claimed that payments into accounts were unaffected by the issues.
One alarmed customer begged to differ, complaining to the BBC that a payment due into his account had gone missing, while another customer reported the systems inside branches being down, preventing customers from carrying out transactions even in the old fashioned, pre-digital way. By mid-afternoon, the IT ''glitch'' '-- that word again! '-- had been ''resolved,'' though no explanation has yet been given as to what caused it.
A few days earlier an outage at online challenger bank Cashplus, which targets people with poor credit histories, left customers unable to access their accounts, make cash withdrawals, or make or receive payments. The problems prompted Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Committee, to ask Richard Wagner, chief executive officer of Cashplus, for an explanation of what happened and how victims of the outage will be compensated.
In other words, over the last two days, dozens of millions of UK bank customers have been locked out of their online accounts at different banks.
In terms of RBS, this is not the first time this year its subsidiary Natwest has suffered an outage. Its banking app went down briefly in April and in July a glitch with its card payments left customers unable to use their cards in shops or online.
RBS, the largely state-owned lender that has cost British taxpayers almost a hundred billion pounds in bailouts, losses, fines and legal fees, also has a rich history of outages, including a major blackout in 2012 that lasted for over a week, disrupting customers' wages, payments and other transactions. The outage was allegedly caused by an ''inexperienced'' RBS tech operative's blunder. For the duration of the blackout, the only means many customers had of accessing basic banking services was to visit the local branch.
That, however, didn't stop RBS from embarking on a branch closure rampage, blaming the growth of internet banking for its decision to close one in four of its branches. Now, it can't manage to keep those web-based services up and running, leaving customers even worse off. Even as the lender has increasingly digitized its services, it has consistently downsized its IT services team. In 2017 it revealed that it planned to axe 900 IT jobs by 2020 and is doubling down on its outsourcing of IT roles to India to reduce costs.
This underscores one of the major problems high-street lenders have with technology. They never treat it as a mission-critical aspect of their business, even as that business becomes increasingly dependent on technological solutions to stay competitive.
Bottom line-obsessed bank executives are always looking for cheap, short-term shortcuts to IT issues, with the result that lenders '-- particularly, but not only, in the UK '-- have for decades under-invested in their sprawling, creaking, accident-prone legacy systems dating back to the primeval age of COBOL and mainframe technology. And if some banks had been thinking about trying to finally move off their legacy systems and drag their IT platforms into the 21st century, the recent botched IT migration at mid-sized TSB, which continues to sow chaos 23 weeks after it was supposed to be ready, will not encourage them to do so. By Don Quijones.
Time is running out. March 29 is the deadline. Urgent action is needed. But it's not happening. Read'... Disorderly Brexit Would Trigger Mayhem in Derivatives Market
Hospital ER reports 160 percent spike in visits involving e-scooters - Laredo Morning Times
Mon, 24 Sep 2018 17:14
Peter Holley, The Washington Post
Published 7:18 am CDT, Monday, September 24, 2018 Livia Looper pushes LimeBike scooters in San Francisco on May 15, 2018.
Livia Looper pushes LimeBike scooters in San Francisco on May 15, 2018.
Photo: Bloomberg Photo By David Paul Morris. Photo: Bloomberg Photo By David Paul Morris.
Livia Looper pushes LimeBike scooters in San Francisco on May 15, 2018.
Livia Looper pushes LimeBike scooters in San Francisco on May 15, 2018.
Photo: Bloomberg Photo By David Paul Morris. As injured electric scooter riders pour into emergency departments around the country, doctors have scrambled to document a trend that many view as a growing public safety crisis.
A detailed statistical portrait of that crisis won't be available for another year, emergency physicians say, but some early samples are beginning to emerge.
In Salt Lake City -- where dockless e-scooters have been on city streets since June -- one hospital says it has seen a 161 percent increase in the number of visits involving scooters after comparing its latest statistics with the same three-month period a year earlier.
Between June and September 2017, physicians at University of Utah Health's emergency room treated eight patients injured by scooters, though each of those were likely people's personal devices and not the electric fleet vehicles owned by companies like Bird, Lime and Skip.
During the same period this year, that number had climbed to 21, according to Dr. Troy Madsen, who practices at the University of Utah Health's Emergency Department.
"Most of the patients with these injuries specifically reported that they were riding an e-scooter or a rental scooter," Madsen said, noting that they ranged in age from 20 to 50 years old and were often injured attempting to catch themselves in a fall. "Interestingly, more than 80 percent of the injuries this year happened between Aug. 15 and Sept. 15, which would correspond with the increasing popularity and availability of the e-scooters."
"It's worth noting that these were only emergency department visits," he added. "Patients with more minor injuries may have gone to an urgent care, and the patients we saw were likely those with more significant injuries who required a higher level of care in an emergency department."
The hospital reported that nearly half of this year's injuries were fractures and dislocations of ankles, wrists, elbows and shoulders, as well as several cases of sprains and lacerations. Emergency physicians also treated several head injuries, and multiple patients told doctors they were intoxicated when they were injured and not wearing a helmet.
Emergency physicians noted that their statistics may represent a fraction of Salt Lake City's e-scooter injuries. University of Utah Health's Utah emergency department is "fairly close to the downtown area," where most rentable scooters are located, but there are other emergency departments even closer, Madsen said.
Emergency physicians in a dozen cities around the country have told The Post that they are seeing a spike in scooter accidents. In seven cities, those physicians are regularly seeing "severe" injuries - including head traumas - that were sustained from scooters malfunctioning or flipping over on uneven surfaces as well as riders being hit by cars or colliding with pedestrians.
Some safety experts have raised questions about the gig economy workforce companies like Bird rely on to maintain their growing fleets. The company has posted ads on Craigslist seeking mechanics that say experience is not necessary in addition to providing training for new hires via YouTube videos. Videos posted online show Bird scooters with accelerators stuck in place and with wobbly handlebars and loose brakes.
"I just signed up to be a Bird mechanic," one mechanic says on camera. "I realized there are a very large amount of scooters with problems."
Last week, The Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office revealed that a 24-year-old man who fell of a Lime scooter on his way home for work this month was killed by blunt force injuries to the head.
Hours after Jacoby Stoneking's death has been ruled an accident -- likely making him the first person to due riding one of the electric mobility devices sweeping the nation in recent months -- a 20-year-old man in Washington, D.C., was struck by an SUV while riding a Lime scooter on Friday. Firefighters worked to free Carlos Sanchez-Martin, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was dragged about 20 yards and pinned under the silver SUV.
Police said Sanchez-Martin later died after being transported to a local hospital.
Scooter companies have repeatedly maintained that safety is a top priority. They say their apps and labels on the scooters contain basic safety information, as well as training instructions. Bird requires users to upload a driver's license and confirm they're at least 18 years old.
Lime, Bird and Skip have programs that give helmets to riders who request them, and Lime notes that riders must go through an "in-app tutorial" on helmet safety to unlock one of the company's scooters for the first time.
"Helmets are recommended for use of the e-scooters, and I would reinforce this after seeing some of the cases of head injuries that we've treated in our emergency department," Madsen said.
James Woods refuses to delete meme that he says got him locked out of Twitter | Fox News
Mon, 24 Sep 2018 12:23
FILE: Actor James Woods poses at the premiere of the film "Bleed for This" at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP)
Actor James Woods has been locked out of his Twitter account over a two-month-old tweet that was found to be in violation of the tech company's rules.
The tweet, posted July 20, included a hoax meme that said it came from Democrats and encouraged men not to vote in the midterm elections.
The meme that Woods posted in July said #LetWomenDecide and #NoMenMidterm. Woods acknowledged the tweet was "not likely" real. (Twitter)
Woods said he received an email from Twitter on Thursday saying the tweet "has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election."
The email said Woods can use his account again if he deletes the tweet, but would be suspended from the social media platform permanently if there are repeated abuses.
Woods told The Associated Press Sunday, he interpreted the message to mean he'll be allowed back on Twitter only if he decides to do what Twitter says.
"Free speech is free speech '-- it's not Jack Dorsey's version of free speech," Woods said, referring to Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.
"The irony is, Twitter accused me of affecting the political process, when in fact, their banning of me is the truly egregious interference," Woods said. "Because now, having your voice smothered is much more disturbing than having your vocal chords slit. If you want to kill my free speech, man up and slit my throat with a knife, don't smother me with a pillow."
Twitter told the AP that it doesn't comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons. A spokesman for the social media platform said by email that he had nothing more to share when asked if Dorsey would respond directly to Wood's comments.
Fox News reached out to Twitter early Monday but did not immeidately hear back.
His Twitter page is still online, though he can't access it. Many of his recent tweets include his views of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago.
KAVANAUGH ACCUSER CHRISTINE FORD OPENS DOOR TO TESTIFYING NEXT WEEK
Woods, who has more than 1.7 million Twitter followers and is outspoken in his conservative views, believes he was singled out. He said the original tweet was reposted by his girlfriend Friday and had been retweeted thousands of times by Sunday. His girlfriend's account wasn't locked, which he said proves his claim.
The meme, posted in July, said #LetWomenDecide and #NoMenMidterm. It claimed to be from a Democratic group, but it was determined to be a hoax campaign to encourage liberal men not to vote in November, according to the website knowyourmeme.com. Woods called it a parody.
Woods acknowledged the meme likely wasn't real in the original tweet, saying: "Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible ..."
Social media companies like Twitter have come under pressure to flag hate speech and posts that could influence elections offline. Numerous conservative and right-wing groups have protested that the tech companies disproportionately target them over liberal-leaning groups. Dorsey testified before the GOP-led House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this month, as the committee examined whether Twitter has censored conservatives.
TWITTER CEO JACK DORSEY ADMITS CONSERVATIVE STAFFERS 'DON'T FEEL SAFE TO EXPRESS THEIR OPINIONS' AT LIBERAL TECH GIANT
Woods said he wants open discourse, and called the situation a dangerous precedent for free speech.
"I wish this were about an unknown Twitter user so that I could be even more passionate about it," Woods said. "This is not about a celebrity being muzzled. This is about an American being silenced '-- one tweet at a time."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.
Kavanaugh to Give Senate Calendars From 1982 to Back Up Denial - The New York Times