1080: 11 Years

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 17m
October 25th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Troy Thomas-Knight of Rivermark, Sir Borislav Marinov, Sir Craig Porter, Sir Timothy Scott Crow, Sir Andrew (Snoops Magoo) Bentley

Associate Executive Producers: Arthur Kunath, Ryan Burgett, Sir Donald Silva, Thomas Wolfarth-Sir Puck of Western North Carolina, sir dick bangs of dc, Sir Tim of the Tunnels, Josh DeHonney, Sir Bruce, Anouschka Wardy

Cover Artist: Mark G

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
2:24
Mandatory Boil Water Notice Issued in Austin
Woodstock
12:35
JCD's Increased Twitter Usage
Woodstock
15:16
Sketchy Migrant Caravan Reporting
Woodstock
18:46
Pipe Bombs Mailed to Trump Opponents
Woodstock
45:19
Migrant Caravan Heading Towards the South US Border
Woodstock
53:40
Trump is a Nationalist
Woodstock
1:06:35
Megan Kelly Fired From NBC After Blackface Comment
Woodstock
1:13:15
Credits
Woodstock
1:47:02
Jamal Khashoggi Disappearance Aftermath
Woodstock
2:12:14
Democracy Now Anti-Trump Propaganda
Woodstock
2:16:57
Donations
Woodstock
2:35:08
Birthdays & Title Changes
Woodstock
2:38:39
Tim Cook Visits European Data Protection Conference in Brussels
Woodstock
2:43:35
Off The Grid
Woodstock
2:46:37
Canada Passed a New Carbon Tax
Woodstock
2:50:09
CBS Native Advertising for Car Manufacturers
Woodstock
2:54:43
Massive Oil Shipment from Congo to Israel
Woodstock
2:57:25
Anti-Trump Rhetoric
Woodstock
3:10:42
End of Show
Woodstock
Suggest a new chapter
Water Crisis
Astounding how many times you interact with water on a daily basis without be conscious of it
No beer or coffee
Lake Austin stocked with carp up to 50 pounds now
Grass Carp Ate All the Plants in Lake Austin. Now the City Wants Them Gone. | KUT
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 14:50
Standing next to Lake Austin, watching the wake of passing motorboat lick the shoreline, you likely wouldn't think there was anything amiss. But just below the water's surface many of the creatures that call the reservoir home are struggling for survival.
''It's loss of habitat, it's loss off food, it's loss of a lot of things'' says Kevin Olivier with the group Austin Carp Angler.
Anglers, like Olivier, report that fish are getting skinny and sickly. Environmental studies show that vegetation has disappeared. Mortality has increased among some species.
The reason? In 2011 the City of Austin started stocking large numbers of sterilized grass carp in the lake.
A video of the project posted online illustrates how Austin officials hoped the fish would fight a massive spread of the hydrilla plant.
Between 2011 and 2013 over 30,000 carp were pumped into Lake Austin. The fish ate the hydrilla, then started in on the other plants.
''We've had reports from bass anglers where carp were actually coming out of the water and picking leaves off trees'' says Olivier.
"We've been hearing rumors that the bow fisherman are itching to get out there which can be a very effective method also for removal."
Anglers say the city put too many grass carp in the lake, starving out other species, though City of Austin scientist Dr. Brent Bellinger says that ''depends on what you were trying to accomplish.''
He says the hydrilla plant can damage vital infrastructure, so the goal was to remove as much of it as possible to protect the Tom Miller Dam. Reports from 2011 also focused on how the plant was a nuisance to boaters and swimmers. From that standpoint, Bellinger says, the grass carp program was a success. Though, it did have some unfortunate consequences.
''Now, we're taking the next step to help the system bounce back and recover,'' says Bellinger. ''We're going to start removing triploid grass carp by one of the most effective [ways], which is angling.''
To put it another way, anglers are now allowed, even encouraged, to kill the grass carp that were introduced.
''We've been hearing rumors that the bow fisherman are itching to get out there which can be a very effective method also for removal,'' say Bellinger.
Carp anglers, like Olivier, are generally in support of the new policy, though some worry it could create collateral damage.
''We need to be sure that people know that grass carp are the problem. Not common carp, not small mouth buffalo [fish] which are commonly mistaken as carp,'' says Olivier. ''One being the problem, one being just an unfortunate victim of the situation.''
Added to that worry is the fear that recent flooding has already pushed large numbers of grass carp downstream into Lady Bird Lake, where they might further disrupt the ecosystem.
''I've been fishing Lady Bird Lake for 15 years, and 15 years ago you didn't see a grass carp,'' says Keith Thompson, another fisherman with Austin Carp Angler. During a carp fishing competition on the Lady Bird Lake last February, he says, one team caught around 15 grass carp.
''They caught no [other kind of] carp,'' says Thompson. ''Just grass carp.''
Brent Bellinger says the city is working on outreach to educate people on the new fishing policy, and is monitoring the waters of Lady Bird Lake to see how many grass carp have moved downstream from Lake Austin.
Who is, and isn't, under a boil water notice
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:59
American-Statesman staffMonday Oct 22, 2018 at 9:56 AM Oct 22, 2018 at 10:05 AM
Here is a list of Austin-area cities and agencies who have issued a boil water notice, and those who say they are not.
Under a boil water notice
' City of Austin
' City of West Lake Hills
' City of Rollingwood
' West Travis County Public Utility Agency
Not under a boil water notice
' City of Round Rock
' City of Pflugerville
' City of Cedar Park
' City of Kyle
' Hurst Creek Municipal Utility District (serves the Village of the Hills in Lakeway area)
Khashoggi
Erdogan is now Da Man in the Middle East
Iran (border)
Qatar
Syria -> Russia
Saudi business could turn to Russia & China as relations with West sour '' analyst '-- RT Business News
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:46
The threat of Western sanctions against Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi could tilt the kingdom eastward, an analyst says.
Read more
''If the US and West in general move toward some meaningful sanctions of Saudi Arabia, we would be joking to imagine that the Saudis would just sit down and accept it,'' Ayham Kamel, head of Eurasia Group's Middle East and North Africa practice, told CNBC.
Germany has paused selling arms to Saudi Arabia, and opponents of US President Donald Trump among American lawmakers are also pushing for such a move.
''The Saudis I think will begin to tilt '-- they were already doing that beforehand '-- they'll be doing more business with China and Russia,'' the analyst said.
China is Saudi Arabia's largest trading partner with a $42 billion turnover last year. In March 2017, the countries signed contracts worth up to $65 billion. The kingdom has also hinted that it could turn to oil trade in Chinese yuan in retaliation for probable US sanctions.
Relations between Russia and the house of Saud have also improved recently. King Salman visited Russia last year for the first time in history. The countries have successfully clinched a deal to curb oil output within the OPEC+ group, and Russia is ready to sell its S-400 missile defense system to Saudi Arabia.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section
Washington fears Moscow may play spoiler to US energy-related sanctions against Tehran '-- RT Business News
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:42
The White House has warned Russia over potential help to Iran in bypassing US sanctions by buying up crude from the Islamic Republic and reselling the fuel as its own. The ban on Tehran's oil exports will be enacted on November 4.
''Iran might be pushing the idea of Russia selling their oil on the world market to evade sanctions,'' a senior US Administration official said as quoted by the Financial Times. ''I would discourage Russia from even considering this. It would be in Russia's best interests not to facilitate Iranian evasion of US sanctions.''
In May, the US administration scrapped a nuclear deal with Iran, clinched between the Islamic Republic and a broad alliance of world powers. Shortly after that US President Donald Trump announced Washington is re-imposing unilateral sanctions against Tehran, threatening secondary sanctions on nations and corporations that continue to do business with Iran.
Read more
The first batch of US sanctions, which came into force in early August, hit Iran's auto industry, carpets, metals trading, as well as access to US dollars. Further sanctions, due to take effect in less than two weeks, are set to hit the country's oil and shipping sectors.
''Our goal remains to get to zero oil imports from Iran as quickly as possible, ideally by November 4. We are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis,'' the US official said, as quoted by the media.
Moscow, one of the signatories to the historic nuclear deal has been opposed to the US decision along with the remaining participant states, including China, UK, France, Germany and the European Union.
Last month, Russia and Iran agreed a deal allowing the Islamic Republic to evade the US ban on oil exports, claims Israel National News Hadashot. Iran would export crude oil to Russia via the Caspian Sea, Russia would refine the oil in its refineries and export the products worldwide, reported the media citing a document by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
''Russia doesn't need the oil and it would be subject to sanctions,'' Joe McMonigle, former chief of staff at the US Department of Energy who is now at Hedgeye Research told the FT. ''So far US sanctions on Russia have been targeted but violating the Iran sanctions would come with big consequences.''
In an attempt to nullify Iranian oil exports, Washington has reportedly intensified political pressure on a number of countries, including US allies Japan and South Korea. On Sunday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned that the White House would take a harder line against countries to get waivers on Iranian oil sanctions.
''I would expect that if we do give waivers it will be significantly larger reductions,'' he said in an interview with Reuters. ''I don't expect we will get to zero in November, but I do expect we will eventually get to zero.''
''Oil prices have already gone up, so my expectation is that the oil market has anticipated what's going on in the reductions. I believe the information is already reflected in the price of oil,'' Mnuchin added.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section
After weeks of wild rumors and salacious allegations, here's what we actually now know about the death of Jamal Khashoggi '-- and what we don't. Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog
Sun, 21 Oct 2018 19:58
After more than two weeks of wild rumors and salacious, unsourced allegations concerning the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi '-- a story that captured global headlines '-- the tragic truth has become clear: the Saudi dissident is dead.
Here is what we actually know at this hour, and what we don't.
HERE'S WHAT WE KNOW
The Saudi government now publicly admits it is fully responsible for the death of this U.S. green card holder who was engaged to a Turkish woman but residing in northern Virginia. The Saudis say their intelligence officials were supposed to interrogate Khashoggi (pronounced, ''ka-SHOW-gee'') at their consulate in Turkey and then bring him back to the kingdom. When the Khashoggi protested and began raising his voice, the Saudis say one of their officials put the 59-year old journalist in a ''chokehold'' and ''covered his mouth'' to quiet him but in the process killed him. The Saudis say ''the team then wrote a false report for superiors saying they had allowed Khashoggi to leave [the consulate] once he warned that Turkish authorities could get involved and that they had promptly left the country before they could be discovered,'' a ccording to al-Arabiya news service. These false reports were fed to senior Saudi officials which formed the basis of their public statements '-- once the agents were found to be lying, the government conceded culpability. 18 Saudi intelligence officials have been arrested for participating in Khashoggi's death, according to the state prosecutor. 5 senior Saudi officials have been fired in the affair. NBC News reports that ''in addition to the deputy intelligence president and the Royal Court adviser, several other top intelligence officials were dismissed: Mohamed bin Saleh al Rumeh, assistant to the president of general intelligence for intelligence affairs; Abduallah bin Khalifa al Shaya, assistant to the president of general intelligence for human resources; and Rachad bin Hamed al Muhamadi, director of the general department for security and protection in the command of general intelligence. Full interview with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir on Fox News HERE'S WHAT WE DON'T KNOW
Is the current Saudi account the truth? Many journalists, Members of Congress, business leaders and others are expressing skepticism. Others are waiting for more information to confirm or deny the Saudi explanation. President Trump is vowing to stand with Saudi Arabia as a strong U.S. ally against Iranian and other radical Islamist aggression in the Middle East, yet he is also expressing concern about shifting Saudi narratives. ''Their stories are all over the place,'' Mr. Trump said. Did Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as ''MBS'') directly authorize the capture or assassination of Khashoggi? The Saudi government says the Crown Prince authorized Saudi intelligence to bring dissidents back to the kingdom, not to murder them. ''There were no orders for them to kill him or even specifically kidnap him,'' said a Saudi official, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters. ''MBS had no knowledge of this specific operation and certainly did not order a kidnapping or murder of anybody. He will have been aware of the general instruction to tell people to come back.'' Do Turkish authorities have audio tapes of the Khashoggi's murder from listening devices inside the Saudi consulate? Turkish media has been rife with the most wild, salacious and horrifying allegations regarding details allegedly gleaned from such recordings. Western media, including many U.S. media outlets, ran with such stories as factual without verifying their credibility. Yet as of this writing, U.S. officials say they have not heard any such recordings, or read any transcripts, or been given such items. Nor is it even clear that such recording exist. Agence France Presse noted on Friday, ''The existence of the tape has never been confirmed on the record by Turkish officials.'' Where does this all leave the U.S.-Saudi alliance? Many journalists, Members of Congress and various Mideast experts are demanding the Saudi government be ''punished.'' Some are calling for the cancellation of military sales. Others are calling for sweeping economic sanctions. Still others are calling for more targeted sanctions on Saudi individuals via the Global Magnitsky Act, a law that is used to target the world's worst human rights abusers. That said, other experts note that while this is a tragic, sordid affair and the administration must deal with it forthrightly and not soft-peddle it, the White House should also not overreact or take steps that might fundamentally undermine the U.S.-Saudi alliance. The U.S. shares very real and important national interests with the Saudis, from thwarting radical Islamism in the region to establishing between between Israel and all of her Arab neighbors. Throwing the Saudis under the bus is shortsighted and imprudent. The Turks hardly have clean hands, having killed and arrested hundreds of dissidents, journalists and other innocents during the regime of President Recep Erdogan. The Iranians are the worst terrorist state on the planet. Yet the very same Obama administration officials who are demanding the Saudis be severely punished were the same people who removed all sanctions off of Tehran and forked over to the tyrants in Tehran $150 billion in cash. How exactly should the Trump administration proceed? How will they proceed? It may take more time, more investigation of the facts and more weighing of the implications of every move before the administration is ready to make any final decisions. For now, please pray for the Khashoggi family, for comfort at this very hard time. Please pray for more facts to be revealed in a timely way and a complete picture to emerge. Please pray for U.S. leaders to have the wisdom to know how best to handle the situation. Please pray for the leaders of Saudi Arabia to know how best to deal with tragic injustice and make sure it never happens again. Please pray, too, for the people of Saudi Arabia who have been very much in favor of the economic and social reforms that MBS has been implementing, and surely want to see these reforms continue and expand, not the kingdom be suddenly isolated and potentially destabilized.
Developing'.....
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Saudi Crown Prince Spoke To Khashoggi By Phone Moments Before He Was Killed: Report | Zero Hedge
Sun, 21 Oct 2018 21:24
In the latest bombshell report involving the Khashoggi murder, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly spoke on the phone with journalist Jamal Khashoggi moments before he was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Safak disclosed the new alleged details of the case in a report on Sunday, contradicting claims by Saudi authorities that Prince Mohammed played no part in Khashoggi's murder.
"Khashoggi was detained by the Saudi team inside the consulate building. Then Prince Mohammed contacted Khashoggi by phone and tried to convince him to return to Riyadh," the report said.
"Khashoggi refused Prince Mohammed's offer out of fear he would be arrested and killed if he returned. The assassination team then killed Khashoggi after the conversation ended," it added.
While the report is so far unconfirmed, the New Arab reports that so far Turkish pro-government media have been receiving a steady stream of leaks many of which turned out to be accurate, including pictures of the hit team as they entered Turkey and reports of audio recordings of the murder said to be in the possession of Turkish authorities.
Meanwhile, the Saudi version of events has been changing significantly over the past two weeks with authorities conceded Saturday that Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and a Riyadh critic, was killed inside the kingdom's Istanbul diplomatic compound following a "brawl". The admission came after a fortnight of denials with the insistence that the journalist left the consulate alive, starting on October 5, when Crown Prince MBS told Bloomberg that Khashoggi was not inside the consulate and "we are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises".
On Saturday, the kingdom announced it had fired five top officials and arrested 18 others in an investigation into the killing - a move that has widely been viewed as an attempt to cover up the crown prince's role in the murder.
The shifting Saudi narrative of the killing has been met with scepticism and condemnation from the international community, and has left the U.S. and other allies struggling for a response on Sunday. As Bloomberg reports, France demanded more information, Germany put arms sales to Riyadh on hold and the Trump administration stressed the vital importance of the kingdom and its economy to the U.S.
In Sunday radio and TV interviews, Dominic Raab, the U.K. politician in charge of negotiating Britain's exit from the European Union, described the latest Saudi account as not credible; French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called for ''the truth''; and Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his government would approve no arms sales so long as the investigation was ongoing.
Earlier on Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir acknowledged a cover-up attempt. The dramatic reversal, after Saudi officials had previously said the columnist left the building alive, has only complicated the issue for allies.
Saudi Arabia's al-Jubeir told Fox News on Sunday that the journalist's death was an ''aberration.''
''There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to cover up,'' he said, promising that ''those responsible will be punished for it.''
More importantly, he said that Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of the events, although if the Turkish report is confirmed, it will be yet another major flaw with the official narrative.
Several senior members of US President Donald Trump's Republican Party said they believed Prince Mohammed was linked to the killing, and one called for a "collective" Western response if a link is proved. In an interview with The Washington Post, President Trump, too, said the Saudi narrative had been marked by ''deception and lies.'' Yet he also defended Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a ''strong person,'' and said there was no proof of his involvement in Khashoggi's death. Some members of Congress have questioned his willingness to exonerate the prince.
"Obviously there's been deception and there's been lies," Trump said on the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh.
On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to disclose details about the case at a meeting of his AK Party's parliamentary faction on Tuesday, Haberturk newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, as Western firms and high-ranked officials scramble to avoid any Saudi involvement, Russia is more than happy to step in and fill the power vacuum void left by the US. As a result, Russian businesses are flocking to attend the investment forum in Saudi Arabia, as Western counterparts pull out.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has had considerable success boosting Moscow's influence in the Middle East at U.S. expense, by standing by regimes that fall afoul of the West, including in Syria and Iran. Last week Putin signed a strategic and partnership agreement with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, backed by $25 billion in loans to build nuclear reactors. Until El-Sisi came to power, Egypt had been closely allied to the U.S.
Meanwhile, all eyes are fixed squarely on the Crown Prince whose position of power is looking increasingly perilous. Congressional leaders on Sunday dismissed the story proffered earlier by the Saudis, with Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bob Corker of Tennessee saying they believed the crown prince was likely involved in Khashoggi's death.
Lawmakers said they believe the U.S. must impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia or take other action if the crown prince is shown to have been involved. Speaking on NBC's ''Meet the Press,'' Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat, said the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. should be formally expelled until a third-party investigation is done. He said the U.S. should call on its allies to do the same.
''Unless the Saudi kingdom understands that civilized countries around the world are going to reject this conduct and make sure that they pay a price for it, they'll continue doing it,''' Durbin said.
The obvious question is what happens and how the Saudi royal family will respond if it is pushed too far, and whether the worst case scenario, a sharp cut in oil exports, could be on the table if MBS feels like he has little to lose from escalating the situation beyond a point of no return.
After Khashoggi-Murder: How Saudis try to keep their partners - Politik Ausland - Bild.de
Sun, 21 Oct 2018 23:24
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (33) Foto: AP Artikel von: CHRISTIAN STENZEL ver¶ffentlicht am 21.10.2018 - 16:40 Uhr
Riyadh '' The Saudis are facing political, but also economic pressure '' and with them, indirectly, so too is the German former head of Siemens, Klaus Kleinfeld.Due to the Khashoggi murder, numerous companies cancelled their participation in the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh (''FII'', 23-25 October). The conference is extremely important for the sheikhs. The cancellations are bad for the Saudis' finances and for their image.BILD has learned from reliable sources that the Saudis are now trying to attract companies and their CEOs to the FII conference. The lure is bigger contracts '' including contracts that would normally be put out to regular public bids.The Saudis depend on investments, but also on the know-how of foreign companies, because the controversial crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) wants to build an over-the-top future city in the desert.
Siemens participates in FIIIn ''Neom'', 500 billion (!) euros are scheduled to be spent for building the city on 27 000 square metres. Initially, the project manager was former head of Siemens, Kleinfeld, who is now in charge of the entire ''Neom'' project. He is also an economic advisor of crown price MBS.Kleinfeld is co-responsible for organizing the FII forum. Following the suspected torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Istanbul consulate, many CEOs have withdrawn their participation '' including the CEOs of Deutsche Bank and Uber.The head of Siemens, Joe Kaeser, still wants to participate in the FII forum. Did the German industrial giant also receive offers outside of regular public bids? A Siemens spokesperson told BILD: 'žWe know nothing of this.''The Saudi Future Investment Initiative did not respond to BILD's inquiry.
European Parliament resolution on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul '-- Marietje Schaake
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 12:38
25 Oct 2018 Today, the European Parliament adopted the following resolution on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul (2018/2885(RSP))
The European Parliament,
'' having regard to its previous resolutions on Saudi Arabia, in particular that of 11 March 2014 on Saudi Arabia, its relations with the EU and its role in the Middle East and North Africa (1) , of 12 February on the case of Raif Badawi (2) , of 8 October 2015 on the case of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr (3) , of 31 May 2018 on the situation of women's rights defenders in Saudi Arabia (4) and those of 25 February 2016 (5) on the humanitarian situation in Yemen and of 30 November 2017 (6) and 4 October 2018 (7) on the situation in Yemen,
'' having regard to its recommendation to the Council of 2 April 2014 on establishing common visa restrictions for Russian officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case (8) ,
'' having regard to the remarks made by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Federica Mogherini, on 9 October 2018 at the joint press conference with the Portuguese Minister for Foreign Affairs and on 15 October 2018 in the context of the Foreign Affairs Council, and to her statement on behalf of the European Union of 20 October 2018 on the recent developments on the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,
'' having regard to Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 defining common rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment (9) ,
'' having regard to the statement of 19 October 2018 by the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General,
'' having regard to the statement of 16 October 2018 by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urging Saudi Arabia to reveal all it knows about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi,
'' having regard to the statement of 9 October 2018 by UN experts demanding a probe into the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul,
'' having regard to the report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of 18 October 2018, expressing deep concerns at the new practice of state-sponsored abductions,
'' having regard to the statement by the G7 Ministers of Foreign Affairs of 17 October 2018 on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi,
'' having regard to the joint statement of 14 October 2018 by the foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany on the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and to that of 21 October 2018 on his death,
'' having regard to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national,
'' having regard to Saudi Arabia's membership of the UN Human Rights Council,
'' having regard to the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline,
'' having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),
'' having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
'' having regard to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, ratified by Saudi Arabia in 2009,
'' having regard to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963,
'' having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948,
'' having regard to the award of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and Expression to the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi in 2015,
'' having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been missing since entering the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 to obtain documents necessary for his marriage, and had not been seen since, despite the Saudi officials initially saying that he left the building; whereas extremely worrying information regarding his fate has come to light, prompting allegations of a possible extra-judicial killing and state-sponsored murder;
B. whereas Saudi Arabia at first denied any involvement in Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance, but following heavy international pressure admitted that his killing took place in its consulate in Istanbul;
C. whereas on 19 October 2018, the Saudi Public Prosecutor stated that 'investigations into the case are continuing, [...] to hold all those involved in this case accountable and bring them to justice'; whereas the Saudi Foreign Minister stated on 21 October that the operation was accomplished by individuals exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they have, and that the Saudi authorities were determined to punish all those responsible for the murder; whereas Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud's complete control over the security services makes it highly unlikely that an operation would have been undertaken without his knowledge or control;
D. whereas there are allegations, described by the Saudi authorities as 'baseless' and 'absolutely false', that CCTV footage was removed from the consulate, that all Turkish staff were ordered to take a day off, that parts of the consulate have now been repainted after Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance, and that 15 Saudi individuals, most of whom reportedly with links to the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the state security services, the military or other government ministries, arrived and left Istanbul on two chartered planes on 2 October 2018, the day Jamal Khashoggi disappeared;
E. whereas following Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance, obstacles were put in place by the Saudi authorities to undermine a prompt, thorough, effective, impartial and transparent investigation; whereas only after international pressure and an agreement with the Turkish authorities were investigators allowed to examine inside the Saudi consulate on 15 October 2018 and given access to the consul general's residence on 17 October 2018;
F. whereas Turkish and Saudi officials have announced a joint investigation into Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance; whereas UN experts have called for an international and independent probe into his disappearance; whereas the European Union and its Member States have insisted on the need for a continued thorough, credible and transparent investigation, in order to shed proper light on the circumstances of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and to ensure that all those bearing responsibility are held fully to account;
G. whereas the targeting of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, Article 55.2 of which states that consular premises 'shall not be used in any manner incompatible with the exercise of consular functions'; whereas Article 41 of the same convention states that diplomatic immunity can be annulled in cases of a 'grave crime', on the decision of a competent court;
H. whereas Saudi Arabia and Turkey are both party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and are obliged to take all measures to prevent torture, enforced disappearances and other serious human rights violations, to investigate allegations of acts constituting these crimes, and to bring to justice those suspected of committing them; whereas under the UN Convention, the particular crime of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi is subject to universal jurisdiction and any suspects can therefore be arrested anywhere in the territory of the signatory countries and, if applicable, tried in their domestic courts;
I. whereas freedom of opinion and expression of the press and media, both online and offline, are fundamental rights of every human being and are crucial preconditions and catalysts for democratisation and reform and essential checks on power; whereas free, diverse and independent media are essential in any society to promote and protect human rights; whereas journalists' work in uncovering abuses of power, shedding light on corruption and questioning received opinion often puts them at specific risk of intimidation and violence;
J. whereas the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is part of a pattern of a widespread crackdown against prominent human rights defenders, women activists, lawyers, journalists, writers and bloggers, which has intensified since the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman began consolidating control over the country's security institutions; whereas the authorities are seeking the death penalty for several of these activists; whereas surveillance systems and other dual-use items have been used to track and trace the movements of human rights defenders and critics in Saudi Arabia; whereas Saudi journalists and defenders based outside the country, including in Western capitals, have faced threats to their families in Saudi Arabia;
K. whereas the Saudi regime is, at the same time, running an expensive international media campaign, portraying itself as a modernising force and announcing reforms, while the system still remains undemocratic and discriminatory; whereas several high-profile speakers, sponsors and media partners cancelled their participation ahead of the Future Investment Initiative conference held in Riyadh in October 2018, amid outrage over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi;
L. whereas the Saudi regime has on several occasions pressured, coerced and threatened countries and international organisations, and has blocked international independent investigations in response to criticism from those countries and organisations regarding human rights violations in Saudi Arabia or international humanitarian law violations committed in Yemen;
M. whereas the German Chancellor stated on 21 October that Germany would put arms exports to Saudi Arabia on hold for the time being, given the unexplained circumstances of Jamal Khashoggi's death;
1. Condemns in the strongest possible terms the torture and killing of Jamal Khashoggi and extends its condolences to his family and friends; urges the Saudi authorities to disclose the whereabouts of his remains; recalls that the systematic practice of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings constitutes a crime against humanity;
2. Calls for an independent and impartial international investigation into the circumstances of the death of Jamal Khashoggi; calls on those responsible to be identified and brought to justice, following a fair trial to be held in accordance with international standards before an impartial court and with international observers present;
3. Is extremely concerned about information on Jamal Khashoggi's fate and the implication of Saudi agents; takes note of the ongoing investigation by Turkish and Saudi officials and encourages further joint efforts; calls on the Saudi authorities to fully cooperate with the Turkish authorities and urges the Turkish authorities, for their part, to make all the information available in order to clarify exactly what happened on 2 October 2018, beyond the hypotheses;
4. Reiterates that if the disappearance and murder of Jamal Khashoggi is attributed to Saudi agents, both state entities and individuals must be held to account; calls on the VP/HR and the Member States, in this regard, to stand ready to impose targeted sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes against Saudi individuals, as well as human rights sanctions against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, once the facts have been established; insists that any such sanctions should target not only the perpetrators but also the masterminds and inciters of this crime;
5. Is concerned that the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi is linked to his criticism of Saudi policies in recent years; reiterates its call on the Saudi authorities to open up to fundamental rights, including the right to life and the right to free expression and peaceful dissent;
6. Urges the VP/HR, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to conduct a structural dialogue with Saudi Arabia on human rights, fundamental freedoms and the country's troubling role in the region within the framework of EU relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council;
7. Condemns the Saudi authorities' ongoing harassment of human rights defenders, activist lawyers, journalists, clerics, writers and bloggers both within and outside the country, which undermines the credibility of the reform process in Saudi Arabia; insists that the Saudi authorities take the necessary steps to allow everyone to exercise their rights freely without any judicial harassment or any other reprisals, such as threats to their families; calls on the Saudi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience detained and sentenced for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression and carrying out their peaceful human rights work;
8. Underlines the importance of defending freedom of expression, both online and offline, a free press and ensuring the protection of journalists; stresses that threatening, attacking or killing journalists is unacceptable under any circumstances and is a matter of the utmost concern;
9. Reminds the Saudi authorities of their international obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
10. Urges the EU and its Member States to take a strong position at the next Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, at which, on 5 November, Saudi Arabia will present its human rights record under the Universal Periodic Review; reiterates its call for the EU Member States to propose at the UN Human Rights Council the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on human rights in Saudi Arabia; calls for the Member States to take the initiative at the next Human Rights Council meeting to raise the issue of membership by states with deeply questionable human rights records, including Saudi Arabia; deplores the vote of several Member States in support of Saudi Arabia's membership of the Human Rights Council;
11. Strongly supports the initiative to create an EU global human rights sanctions regime against human rights abusers worldwide, which would entail targeting individuals through visa bans and asset freezes; expects concrete deliverables from the conference organised by the Dutch authorities to launch the initiative, scheduled to take place in The Hague in November, and encourages the Member States and the EEAS to fully back this proposal;
12. Calls on the Saudi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Raif Badawi, as he is considered a prisoner of conscience, detained and sentenced solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression; calls on EU authorities to raise the issue of his case in any high level contact there may be and to set up an interinstitutional task force with the relevant actors, including the EEAS and EU delegation, in order to step up efforts to secure his release;
13. Calls for a moratorium on the death penalty; calls for a review of all death sentences to ensure that the trials in question adhered to international standards;
14. Calls on the Council to reach a common position in order to impose an EU-wide arms embargo on Saudi Arabia and to respect Common Position 2008/944/CFSP; calls for an embargo on the export of surveillance systems and other dual-use items that may be used in Saudi Arabia for the purposes of repression;
15. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the European External Action Service, the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Government of Turkey, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Secretary-General of the Centre for National Dialogue of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; calls for this resolution to be translated into Arabic.
Jamal Khashoggi: Turkey's Saudi Arabia anger about more than murder - Vox
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 15:47
In the three weeks since a Saudi journalist was killed inside his country's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey has led a relentless campaign to hold Saudi Arabia accountable.
Turkish authorities have doled out leaks to the international press '-- certainly authorized by Ankara's highest officials because of its tight control on the media '-- which increased speculation that Jamal Khashoggi's murder was gruesome.
The latest reports indicate that the journalist's body parts had been found in the garden of Riyadh's consul general's home in Istanbul, and that a body double put on Khashoggi's clothes shortly after he was killed.
Then came Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's speech on Tuesday, in which he denounced Saudi Arabia for initially trying to deny involvement in the killing. After weeks of lying, Riyadh only admitted that Khashoggi was dead four days ago. ''Covering up this kind of savagery will hurt the conscience of all humanity,'' Erdoğan said during his weekly address to parliament.
Why has Turkey gone to such great lengths to put '-- and keep '-- pressure on Saudi Arabia? One reason is that the murder happened in Turkey, and that's embarrassing for Erdoğan's government.
''The Turks are upset that the Saudis killed a person in Istanbul,'' Aaron Stein, a Turkey expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington, told me. ''It is a grotesque violation of protocol.''
An entrance into Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, where journalist Jamal Khashoggi died on October 2, 2018.Chris McGrath/Getty Images But more importantly, Ankara and Riyadh are locked in a years-long battle for the future of the region, particularly over the importance of religion and Western influence in its politics.
Bashing Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi affair '-- specifically Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, the country's de facto leader '-- works well for Turkey. It gives Ankara a momentary, but no less critical, advantage in the struggle.
''It's a situation where what is right and beneficial seem to coincide,'' says Howard Eissenstat, a Turkey expert at St. Lawrence University.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are ''on opposite sides of a grand Middle Eastern debate''The break in the Ankara-Riyadh relationship dates back to when democratic hopes sparked by the Arab Spring fizzled out in Egypt.
Ankara backed Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group, after he won the country's June 2012 election to replace strongman Hosni Mubarak. Riyadh didn't like the vote's outcome, mostly because it believes the Muslim Brotherhood proved an existential threat to Riyadh's monarchical, authoritarian rule.
So when Egypt's military ousted Morsi in July 2013, just over a year after the election, Saudi Arabia supported the overthrow. Riyadh has since backed Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the general who remains in power after he orchestrated the coup d'etat.
That kick-started the standoff. ''Turkey and Saudi Arabia now see each other as leaders on opposite sides of a grand Middle Eastern debate about stability versus populism,'' Eissenstat, who is also affiliated with the Project on Middle East Democracy, told me.
In effect, Turkey viewed Morsi's election as emblematic of what the region's future could be '-- an area where popular demonstrations and democratic politics can overthrow authoritarian powers. But Saudi Arabia saw it as a threat to the status quo, and therefore supported the Egyptian military's plans to remove the duly elected leader.
Egyptians celebrate the election of their new president Mohamed Morsi in Tahrir Square on June 24, 2012, in Cairo.Ed Giles/Getty Images The two countries also disagree about how much influence America should have in the Middle East. Riyadh has courted its US alliance since 1945, and since then has viewed Washington as a staunch economic and military supporter. Without the US, experts say, Saudi Arabia wouldn't be the regional power it is today.
Erdoğan's Ankara, however, wants Washington to have less sway in the Middle East. Even though Turkey is a NATO member, it has in recent years moved closer to US adversaries like Russia, Iran, and Venezuela. It's even battling US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria, mostly because the country sees those forces as an extension of a terrorist group.
And the US-Turkey relationship reached a boiling point this year over Ankara's detention of US pastor Andrew Brunson. Turkish authorities unlawfully held Brunson for two years, claiming he was a spy and worked with terrorists. President Donald Trump sanctioned and paced tariffs on Ankara over the imprisonment in August, severely hurting Erdoğan's economy. Turkey finally caved and released Brunson into US custody earlier this month, but the relationship remains fraught.
''I don't think Turkey is going to drop this''
Finally, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are on opposite sides of the Qatar blockade. In 2017, Riyadh started a diplomatic war with the tiny Gulf country because it championed the Arab Spring protests and political Islam, and used Al Jazeera to do it. That threatened the monarchy. It also didn't help that Qatar grew closer to Iran, Saudi Arabia's decades-long regional rival.
Turkey, however, has supported Qatar despite the isolation. For example, it's sent hundreds of ships and planes full of food to the country and increased its military presence there.
So as it stands, Turkey and Saudi Arabia remain in bitter opposition. That's why Ankara took advantage of the Khashoggi situation to ''try and shape Saudi foreign policy in line with Turkish interests,'' Stein told me. ''Those interests would be enhanced if MBS is reined in.''
Erdoğan wants MBS to lose power. He may get his wish. MBS is at odds with Erdoğan. The Saudi crown prince is the architect of Riyadh's close relationship with the United States, and the Qatar blockade. He despises the Muslim Brotherhood and wants to keep his royal family in power.
Because of MBS's authority in the kingdom, many believe he at least knew of '-- if not outright ordered '-- the Saudi plan to kill Khashoggi. MBS had reason to want Khashoggi dead, as many of his writings criticized MBS's lurch toward one-man rule in Riyadh.
It's no wonder, then, that Ankara continues to leak damaging information that could cause MBS to lose his growing authority.
''If the pressure of international censure is great enough to lead the Saudi king to curb the prince's power, it will be a show of diplomatic strength for Turkey in what has become a regional standoff,'' Jenny White, a Turkey expert at Stockholm University, told me.
''The Turkish government's relentless daily drips of damning information about Khashoggi's murder has put the Saudis on the defensive,'' she continued.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meet in Saudi Arabia on February 14, 2017.Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images It's clear that Erdoğan is personally targeting MBS with leaks and even public statements.
''Intelligence and security institutions have evidence showing the murder was planned,'' the Turkish president said during his Tuesday speech. ''From the person who gave the order, to the person who carried it out, they must all be brought to account.''
It looks like his gambit may be working. MBS's father '-- King Salman, Saudi Arabia's actual ruler '-- has shown signs of wanting to curb his son's power. Here's one example: On October 19, Saudi authorities arrested Saud al-Qahtani, a close aide to MBS, as part of their investigation into what happened to Khashoggi. However, it doesn't appear that the internal probe will officially blame MBS.
Still, the slow doling of leaks has put pressure on the US, Saudi Arabia's staunch ally, to start to break with the kingdom. Republican lawmakers and even Trump have started to castigate Riyadh over Khashoggi's death. If Ankara wanted to drive a wedge '-- however small '-- between the US and Saudi Arabia, it's succeeding.
It's therefore likely that Erdoğan's pressure campaign will continue until he gets what he wants: a weakened Saudi Arabia, and especially a damaged MBS.
''I don't think Turkey is going to drop this,'' says Eissenstat.
Khashoggi Consulate: Why It's Not 'Sovereign Territory' | Time
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 17:25
As speculation grew about the fate of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished after entering his nation's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was quick to dispel rumors he had been murdered.
''We have nothing to hide,'' the de-facto Saudi leader, known by his initials MBS, said three days later. ''The premises are sovereign territory, but we will allow [Turkish authorities] to enter.''
On one thing at least, the Crown Prince was mistaken '-- consulates and embassies are not, in fact, sovereign territory under international law.
''He is incorrect,'' says Dapo Akande, a professor of public international law at the University of Oxford. ''As a matter of international law that's absolutely clear, the consulate is not within the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia.''
Whatever happened to Khashoggi, he says, ''is an event that happened within Turkish territory to which Turkish law applies.''
Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the 1961 Vienna Convention, which sets out the rules governing consulates and embassies, guarantees the ''inviolability'' of diplomatic premises.
''That means the host state can't just go in without the consent of the state whose consulate it is,'' says Akande. That's why Turkish authorities had to wait for Saudi permission to enter. (In the end, they were finally allowed in on Monday, ten days after MBS's guarantee.)
Yet while the principle of inviolability guarantees some measure of protection to consulates, it does not mean that events that take place there are not subject to the host country's own laws.
''If Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in Istanbul, then that's murder under the laws of Turkey,'' says Akande. ''Anybody can in principle be prosecuted for that murder. Unless that individual also has immunity.''
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal protection given to diplomats serving in foreign countries, ensuring they cannot be prosecuted under their host country's laws. But diplomatic personnel are individually granted immunity under agreement by both Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
If, as reports suggest, Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi operatives flown in specifically for the act, they would not enjoy the same immunities as consular staff might. ''Those people were like a death squad who just turned up on private jets,'' says Professor Madawi Al-Rasheed, the editor of Salman's Legacy: The Dilemmas of a New Era in Saudi Arabia. ''That's not somebody with diplomatic immunity.''
In theory, this means that Khashoggi's alleged killers could be prosecuted in Turkey. ''Turkey could seek an international arrest warrant for them,'' Akande says. ''If they're Saudi, Saudi Arabia won't turn them over. But they probably won't be able to go anywhere else.''
But even if they did have diplomatic immunity, it doesn't shield perpetrators of major crimes. The Vienna Convention says immunity can be annulled in the case of a ''grave crime'' pending the decision of a ''competent judicial authority.''
That might be the next step for the international community. Rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on the U.N. on Thursday to open an independent investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance.
''My own view is that the issue is beyond any debate or discussion as to whether international law is on MBS's side,'' says professor Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver. ''It's pretty clear the circumstantial evidence points to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and now Saudi Arabia has to account for the crime.''
Diplomatic mission - Wikipedia
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 17:21
A diplomatic mission or foreign mission[1] is a group of people from one state or an organisation present in another state to represent the sending state/organisation officially in the receiving state. In practice, a diplomatic mission usually denotes the resident mission, namely the embassy, which is the main office of a country's diplomatic representatives to another country, usually but not necessarily the receiving state's capital city. Consulates, on the other hand, are smaller diplomatic missions which are normally located outside the capital of the receiving state (but can be located in the capital, usually when the sending country has no embassy in the receiving state). As well as being a diplomatic mission to the country in which it is situated, it may also be a non-resident permanent mission to one or more other countries. There are thus resident and non-resident embassies.[2][3][4][5]
Naming [ edit ] A permanent diplomatic mission is typically known as an embassy, and the head of the mission is known as an ambassador or high commissioner. The term "embassy" is commonly used also as a section of a building in which the work of the diplomatic mission is carried out, but, strictly speaking, it is the diplomatic delegation itself that is the embassy, while the office space and the diplomatic work done is called the chancery. Therefore, the embassy operates in the chancery.
The members of a diplomatic mission can reside within or outside the building that holds the mission's chancery, and their private residences enjoy the same rights as the premises of the mission as regards inviolability and protection. [6]
All missions to the United Nations are known simply as permanent missions, while EU member states' missions to the European Union are known as permanent representations, and the head of such a mission is typically both a permanent representative and an ambassador. European Union missions abroad are known as EU delegations. Some countries have more particular naming for their missions and staff: a Vatican mission is headed by a nuncio (Latin for "envoy") and consequently known as an apostolic nunciature. Under the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's missions used the name "people's bureau", headed by a secretary.
Missions between Commonwealth countries are known as high commissions, and their heads are high commissioners.[7] Generally speaking, ambassadors and high commissioners are regarded as equivalent in status and function and embassies and high commissions are both deemed to be diplomatic missions. [8][9]
In the past a diplomatic mission headed by a lower-ranking official (an envoy or minister resident) was known as a legation. Since the ranks of envoy and minister resident are effectively obsolete, the designation of legation is no longer used today. (See diplomatic rank.)
A consulate is similar to, but not the same as a diplomatic office, but with focus on dealing with individual persons and businesses, as defined by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. A consulate or consulate general is generally a representative of the embassy in locales outside of the capital city.[7] For instance, the United Kingdom has its Embassy of the United Kingdom in Washington, D.C., but also maintains seven consulates-general and four consulates elsewhere in the US. The person in charge of a consulate or consulate-general is known as a consul or consul-general, respectively. Similar services may also be provided at the embassy (to serve the region of the capital) in what is normally called a consular section.
In cases of dispute, it is common for a country to recall its head of mission as a sign of its displeasure. This is less drastic than cutting diplomatic relations completely, and the mission will still continue operating more or less normally, but it will now be headed by a charg(C) d'affaires (usually the deputy chief of mission) who may have limited powers. A charg(C) d'affaires ad interim also heads the mission during the interim between the end of one chief of mission's term and the beginning of another.
[ edit ] Contrary to popular belief, most diplomatic missions do not enjoy full extraterritorial status and '' in those cases '' are not sovereign territory of the represented state.[10] Rather, the premises of diplomatic missions usually remain under the jurisdiction of the host state while being afforded special privileges (such as immunity from most local laws) by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Diplomats themselves still retain full diplomatic immunity, and (as an adherent to the Vienna Convention) the host country may not enter the premises of the mission without permission of the represented country, even to put out a fire.[11] International rules designate an attack on an embassy as an attack on the country it represents.[citation needed ] The term "extraterritoriality" is often applied to diplomatic missions, but normally only in this broader sense.
As the host country may not enter the representing country's embassy without permission, embassies are sometimes used by refugees escaping from either the host country or a third country. For example, North Korean nationals, who would be arrested and deported from China upon discovery, have sought sanctuary at various third-country embassies in China. Once inside the embassy, diplomatic channels can be used to solve the issue and send the refugees to another country. See the list of people who took refuge in a diplomatic mission for a list of some notable cases.
Notable violations of embassy extraterritoriality include repeated invasions of the British Embassy, Beijing (1967),[12] the Iran hostage crisis (1979''1981), and the Japanese embassy hostage crisis at the ambassador's residence in Lima, Peru (1996-1997).
Role [ edit ] The Vienna Convention states:
The functions of a diplomatic mission consist, inter alia, in representing the sending State in the receiving State; protecting in the receiving State the interests of the sending State and of its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law; negotiating with the Government of the receiving State; ascertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State; promoting friendly relations between the sending State and the receiving State, and developing their economic, cultural and scientific relations.[13]
Diplomatic missions between members of the British Commonwealth of Nations are not called embassies, but high commissions, as Commonwealth nations share a special diplomatic relationship. It is generally expected that an embassy of a Commonwealth country in a non-Commonwealth country will do its best to provide diplomatic services to citizens from other Commonwealth countries if the citizen's country does not have an embassy in that country. Canadian and Australian nationals enjoy even greater cooperation between their respective consular services, as outlined in Canada-Australia Consular Services Sharing Agreement. The same kind of procedure is also followed multilaterally by the member states of the European Union (EU). European citizens in need of consular help in a country without diplomatic or consular representation of their own country may turn to any consular or diplomatic mission of another EU member state.
The rights and immunities (such as diplomatic immunity) of diplomatic missions are codified in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Multiple missions in a city [ edit ] Some cities may host more than one mission from the same country. An example is Rome, where many states maintain missions to Italy and another to the Holy See. It is not customary for these missions to share premises nor diplomatic personnel. At present, only the Iraqi missions to Italy and the Holy See share premises; however, two ambassadors are appointed, one to each country. In the case of the UN's Food Agencies, the Head of Mission to the Italian Republic is usually accredited as permanent representative. The United States maintains a separate United States Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, whose head is the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture. Kolkata, India hosts two Bangladeshi Deputy High Commissions, one at Park Circus and another at Mirza Galib Street. This was done to reduce overcrowding inside the Deputy High Commission. At first the Park Circus was opened and later, the one at Mirza Galib Street. Now both the Deputy High Commissions issue Bangladeshi visa.
Non-diplomatic offices [ edit ] Governments of states not recognized by the receiving state and of territories that make no claim to be sovereign states may set up offices abroad that do not have official diplomatic status as defined by the Vienna Convention. Examples are the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Offices that represent the government of the Republic of China; Somaliland's Representative Offices in London, Addis Ababa, Rome, and Washington, D.C.; the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices that represent the government of that territory. Such offices assume some of the non-diplomatic functions of diplomatic posts, such as promoting trade interests and providing assistance to its citizens and residents. They are nevertheless not diplomatic missions, their personnel are not diplomats and do not have diplomatic visas, although there may be legislation providing for personal immunities and tax privileges, as in the case of the Hong Kong offices in London and Toronto, for example.
See also [ edit ] DiplomacyEmbassy chapelEmbassy Row, Washington, D.C.List of attacks on diplomatic missionsLists of diplomatic missionsList of people who took refuge in a diplomatic missionParadiplomacyNotes and references [ edit ] ^ "What is a Foreign Mission /Chancery?". www.state.gov . Retrieved 2017-08-25 . ^ Tom Nierop, Systems and Regions in Global Politics (Wiley, John and Sons 1994 ISBN 978-0-471-94942-8), p. 67. ^ "The Russian Federation has diplomatic relations with a total of 187 countries, but some of them '' mainly for financial reasons '' maintain non-resident embassies in other countries", International Affairs, issues 4''6 (Znanye Pub. House, 2006), p. 78 ^ "Of Chile's 109 foreign diplomatic missions in 1988, no fewer than 31 were on a non-residential basis, while 17 of the 63 missions in Santiago were non resident" (Deon Geldenhuys, Isolated States: A Comparative Analysis (University of Cambridge 1990 ISBN 0-521-40268-9), p. 158). ^ "America's diplomatic mission to (Saudi Arabia) was changed from non-resident to permanent Minister in Jeddah" (Fahad M. Al-Nafjan, The Origins of Saudi-American Relations, page not numbered). ^ "1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, article 30" (PDF) . ^ a b Sidhur Andrews (1 Jun 2007). Introduction To Tourism And Hospitality Industry. Tata McGraw-Hill Education. p. 33. ^ Nutt, Jim S. "Diplomatic and Consular Representations". ^ "Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, "What does the work of a High Commissioner involve? " " (PDF) . ^ 'Laws and Rules Regarding Extraterritoriality' on integrity-legal.com: "There is a common misconception that Embassies and Consulates have extraterritoriality. As anecdotal evidence of this misconception, people will often say things like, 'the US Embassy sits upon United States soil.' For the most part, this is not the case as extraterritoriality is not conferred upon an Embassy or Consulate, but in some situations extraterritoriality may be created by Treaty". ^ "What is a U.S. Embassy?". diplomacy.state.gov. ^ "Sir Ray Whitney". The Daily Telegraph. London. 15 August 2012 . Retrieved 17 August 2015 . Red Guards scaled the British mission's wall as diplomats watched the Ealing comedy Two-Way Stretch. They retreated to an inner room without switching off the projector, pushing a piano across the door as the mob broke windows and began climbing in. Whitney and his colleagues retreated again to the embassy's secure zone, with heavily barred windows. The Chinese set fire to the mission, then used a battering ram on the steel emergency door. ^ "Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relationships, article 3" (PDF) . External links [ edit ] Diplomatic missions travel guide from WikivoyageEmbassies and consulates around the worldEmbassies and Consulates Search DirectoryWhat is the difference between an Embassy and a Consulate?
CIA director flies to Turkey amid growing controversy over Jamal Khashoggi killing - The Washington Post
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 17:09
CIA Director Gina Haspel addresses the audience as part of the McConnell Center Distinguished Speaker Series at the University of Louisville on Sept. 24 in Louisville. (Timothy D. Easley/AP) John HudsonNational security reporter focusing on the State Department and diplomacy.
October 22 at 6:49 PMCIA Director Gina Haspel departed for Turkey on Monday amid a growing international uproar over Saudi Arabia's explanation of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to people familiar with the matter.
The visit by the U.S. spy chief comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a speech planned for early Tuesday vows to reveal the full extent of what his aides are calling a Saudi-directed murder and attempted coverup.
The arrival of the director suggests an effort by the U.S. intelligence community to assess the information the Turks have, including what Turkish officials have said is audio that captures the killing. Intelligence officials are increasingly skeptical of the Saudi account and have warned President Trump that the idea that rogue operators flew to Istanbul and killed Khashoggi without the knowledge or consent of Saudi leaders is dubious, a White House official said.
On Monday, Trump told reporters that ''I am not satisfied with what I've heard'' from Saudi Arabia and pledged to get to the bottom of what happened.
''We have top intelligence people in Turkey. We're going to see what we have. I'll know a lot tomorrow,'' he said. ''They'll be coming back either tonight or tomorrow morning. But we have people in Saudi Arabia and in Turkey.''
A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment. Other officials spoke about the director's travels on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the trip.
The chief concern for Washington is that Erdogan will reveal details about Khashoggi's killing that implicate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, who has been a key ally for the Trump administration.
On Saturday, the Saudi government acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents after he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. The 33-year-old prince has denied any knowledge of the killing and his top diplomat, Adel al-Jubeir, called it a tragic ''rogue operation'' by a group of people acting outside Mohammed's consent.
A U.S. official who has not heard the audio that purportedly captures the killing but is familiar with its contents said it does not corroborate Saudi Arabia's version of events that Khashoggi's death was the result of a fistfight.
Turkish investigators concluded days ago that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a Saudi team dispatched to Istanbul.
At least 12 members of the Saudi team are connected to Saudi security services, and several have links to Mohammed, according to a review of passport records, social media, local media reports and other material.
How Qatar used private companies to raise funds for terror groups - Al Arabiya English
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 17:02
Qatar's terror list comprising 19 individuals and eight entities '' 11 of whom are Qatari nationals and six companies '' has raised questions about how serious Doha is in dealing with funders of terrorist groups residing inside their country.
According to precedent, state-sponsor lists usually identify absconders who have fled their countries of origin or others whose whearabouts were unknown. Apart from that policy, countries who usually release such lists then pursue those identified and investigate further, both of which Qatar's current government has not done so since issuing their list on Thursday.
Al Arabiya has noted that that some entities on Qatar's terror list were companies not officially accused by the Qatari government for funding terrorism. For the first time, the list included entities that were unrelated to Qatari aid and charity institutions only, who have in the past been the preferred method to transfer funds to terrorist organizations. Thursday's list included companies specialized in home decoration, home furnishings, building umbrellas and tents, telephone and car rental companies.
Admitting those companies on their list reveals how Qatar had willingly known of companies used by citizens to serve terrorism-related projects and financed extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Those entities included Al Ansar for Mobiles, Car Rental and Real Estate, Tiftinaz for Trade and Contracting, Jebel Omar for Trade and Contracting, Khebraat for Trade and Contracting, Al Dhahaibya for Umbrellas and Tents, and Al Ihitida for Furniture and D(C)cor.
A quick search online has shown that Qatar has not blocked or banned any of the companies' websites and phone numbers listed as contacts still worked at the time of this article's publication.
Using small companies to fund terrorismAccording to Qatar's list, Al Dhahaibya for Umbrellas and Tents works primarily in real estate protperties for Qatari citizens' houses. It was established as a business in 2011 and has worked in building tents and car park umbrellas for a number of well-known clients, the biggest of which is the Al Jazeera Media Network. Other clients listed on Dhahaibya's included Qatar Insurance Company, Qatar Museums Authority, Q Jet, Al Fardan and Danat Qatar.
As for Khebraat Trading & Contracting Co was also establish in 2011 and specializes and consults in home building and construction works as well as interior design and decoration. On its website, Khebraat lists a number of Qatari citizens for whom it has built and designed homes for.
Other clients it has worked for included Qatari government intuitions like Qatar's Supreme Education Council, Urbacon for Trading & Contracting, the Qatari Emiri Land Forces, the Qatari Ministry of the Environment, and Q Jet.
The companies' websites, however, have not listed the names of their owners. However, Qatar's terror list identified several Qataris whom observers have said have direct links with the entities identified. Some of those identified have already been identified in international terror lists, included that which the Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt released last year, revealing how the depth of which Qatari money has long been used in terror financing across the region.
Among the names listed in the US Treasury-2015 Statement and the recent Qatari terror list was Saad Al Kaabi, who was charged for his links to al-Qaeda and involved in financing activities for the Nusra Front's activities in Syria. He was the main facilitator from Qatar in providing financial support and services to al-Qaeda by transferring funds and organizing donation campaigns in Doha that were used to purchase and smuggling of weapons into Syria. He was also an intermediary who collected ransoms for hostages held by Nusra Front, in addition to his relation to Hamid al-Ali, who is listed on the terrorism list of the ATQ countries.
Qatar also listed Abdul Lateef Al Kawari who was designated as funder of terrorism since 2015 for his links to al-Qaeda.
According to the US Treasury, Kawari worked with al-Qaeda facilitators in early 2012 to coordinate delivering funds from foreign extremist donors who lives in Qatar. Since 2012 al-Kawari continued to collect funds for al-Qaeda, and on the same year he facilitated for one of the mediators to travel abroad carrying 10 thousands of dollars specified for al-Qaeda.
Another Qatari named was Khalid al-Buainain, who collected money to fund terrorists in Syria. He collected funds in cooperation with people listed on the US and UN sanctions list, and with al-Qaeda coordinators, including Saad al-Kawari and Abd al-Latif al-Kawari. He worked as a focal point for the fundraising campaign in Qatar between 2012 and 2014. In 2016, al-Buainain participated in the Qatar Charity delegation to Iraq, which included the Qatari official for the Qatar Charity, Mohammed Jassim al-Sulaiti, who is listed in the sanctions list of the four anti-terrorism countries.
SHOW MORELast Update: Saturday, 24 March 2018 KSA 18:30 - GMT 15:30
Qatar's Emir pledges $15 billion direct investment in Turkey: Erdogan's office | Reuters
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 17:02
ANKARA (Reuters) - Qatar will make $15 billion of direct investments into Turkey, Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told President Tayyip Erdogan during talks in Ankara, the Turkish presidency said on Wednesday.
Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia July 15, 2018. Yuri Kadobnov/Pool via REUTERS
The lira TRYTOM=D3 firmed to 5.8699 from 6.04 to the dollar after the news, but later eased back to 5.9916 at 1515 GMT.
Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans
Demi-Bomber
Suspicious packages sent to Clintons, Obamas, CNN and George Soros - Axios
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 11:20
Suspicious packages that reportedly contained functioning explosive devices were sent to the home of President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, the office of President Barack Obama, CNN, philanthropist George Soros, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and Rep. Maxine Waters over the last 48 hours.
The big picture: The events '-- branded an "act of terror" by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio '-- come at a time of ever-increasing polarization in the United States, when political discourse is often hijacked by the most extreme voices on both the left and the right. From the congressional baseball shooting to Charlottesville, political violence has increasingly been on the rise in America.
TruthLeaks on Twitter: "If Brennan is trying to generate pity for himself, you have to look at CIA bomb making schools. That makes Turki Faisal and Jamal Khashoggi, and their last Saudi financed bomb factory near Aleppo on the Turkish side of the border.
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 20:17
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Caravan!
XENI on Twitter: "That's right, terrified white people, the brown zombies are 1000 miles from the southern border and they're coming to mow your lawns, wash your cars, harvest your crops, pack your pork, raise your kids, mop your floors, vacuum your o
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 14:58
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That’s right, terrified white people, the brown zombies are 1000 miles from the southern border and they’re coming to mow your lawns, wash your cars, harvest your crops, pack your pork, raise your kids, mop your floors, vacuum your office, and pay taxes. Time to flip out.
Big Pharma
Drug Pricing from Dr. Chris
Adam - I wanted to set the record straight on drug pricing,
as you’ve been making statements that insurers only pay 30% of the wholesale
cost of the drug, which is not correct. As a long time employee of the
pharmacy benefits management (PBM) industry, I have standing. For medical
bills, yes, insurers pay hospitals well below the “cash” price for an inpatient
stay, as low as the 30% figure you state.
When it comes to pharmacy benefit drugs, PBMs typically
reimburse pharmacies for brand name medications at a discount of 18-25% off the
AWP (average wholesale price), not at 30% of the cost of the drug, which would
be a 70% discount. For generic drugs the discounts can be as high as 95%,
but you would never see those drugs advertised on TV and are irrelevant to the
discussion of making manufacturers be more transparent to consumers about drug
costs. There should be some kind of price controls on drugs, as
manufacturers can set the price anywhere they want, which causes huge cost
issues for inelastic commodities like cancer drugs and the like.
Dr. Chris (first name only please)
No Agenda Resident Pharmacist and PBM expert
OTG
Opinion | Who Will Teach Silicon Valley to Be Ethical? - The New York Times
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 12:00
Some think chief ethics officers could help technology companies navigate political and social questions.
By Kara Swisher
Ms. Swisher covers technology and is a contributing opinion writer.
Oct. 21, 2018 Image Credit Credit Cristina Span² I think we can all agree that Silicon Valley needs more adult supervision right about now.
Is the solution for its companies to hire a chief ethics officer?
While some tech companies like Google have top compliance officers and others turn to legal teams to police themselves, no big tech companies that I know of have yet taken this step. But a lot of them seem to be talking about it, and I've discussed the idea with several chief executives recently. Why? Because slowly, then all at once, it feels like too many digital leaders have lost their minds.
It's probably no surprise, considering the complex problems the tech industry faces. As one ethical quandary after another has hit its profoundly ill-prepared executives, their once-pristine reputations have fallen like palm trees in a hurricane. These last two weeks alone show how tech is stumbling to react to big world issues armed with only bubble world skills:
As a journalist is beheaded and dismembered at the direction of Saudi Arabian leaders (allegedly, but the killers did bring a bone saw), Silicon Valley is swimming in oceans of money from the kingdom's Public Investment Fund. Saudi funding includes hundreds of millions for Magic Leap, and huge investments in hot public companies like Tesla. Most significantly: Saudis have invested about $45 billion in SoftBank's giant Vision Fund, which has in turn doused the tech landscape '-- $4.4 billion to WeWork, $250 million to Slack, and $300 million to the dog-walking app Wag. In total Uber has gotten almost $14 billion, either through direct investments from the Public Investment Fund or through the Saudis' funding of the Vision Fund. A billion here, a billion there and it all adds up.
[Kara Swisher will answer your questions about this column on Twitter on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Eastern: @KaraSwisher.]
Facebook introduced a new home video device called Portal, and promised that what could be seen as a surveillance tool would not share data for the sake of ad targeting. Soon after, as reported by Recode, Facebook admitted that ''data about who you call and data about which apps you use on Portal can be used to target you with ads on other Facebook-owned properties.'' Oh. Um. That's awkward.
After agreeing to pay $20 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission for an ill-advised tweet about possible funding (from the Saudis, by the way), the Tesla co-founder Elon Musk proceeded to troll the regulatory agency on, you got it, Twitter. And even though the settlement called for some kind of control of his communications, it appears that Mr. Musk will continue tweeting until someone steals his phone.
Finally, Google took six months to make public that user data on its social network, Google Plus, had been exposed and that profiles of up to 500,000 users may have been compromised. While the service failed long ago, because it was pretty much designed by antisocial people, this lack of concern for privacy was profound.
Grappling with what to say and do about the disasters they themselves create is only the beginning. Then there are the broader issues that the denizens of Silicon Valley expect their employers to have a stance on: immigration, income inequality, artificial intelligence, automation, transgender rights, climate change, privacy, data rights and whether tech companies should be helping the government do controversial things. It's an ethical swamp out there.
That's why, in a recent interview, Marc Benioff, the co-chief executive and a founder of Salesforce, told me he was in the process of hiring a chief ethical officer to help anticipate and address any thorny conundrums it might encounter as a business '-- like the decision it had to make a few months back about whether it should stop providing recruitment software for Customs and Border Protection because of the government's policy of separating immigrant families at the border.
Amid much criticism, Mr. Benioff decided to keep the contract, but said he would focus more on social and political issues.
At a recent company event, he elaborated: ''We can have a structured conversation not just with our own employees myopically, but by bringing in the key advisers, supporters and pundits and philosophers and everybody necessary to ask the question if what we are doing today is ethical and humane.''
23andMe has also toyed with the idea of hiring a chief ethics officer. In an interview I did this week with its chief executive, Anne Wojcicki, she said the genetics company had even interviewed candidates, but that many of them wanted to remain in academia to be freer to ponder these issues. She acknowledged that the collection of DNA data is rife with ethical considerations, but said, ''I think it has to be our management and leaders who have to add this to our skill set, rather than just hire one person to determine this.''
When asked about the idea of a single source of wisdom on ethics, some point out that legal or diversity/inclusion departments are designed for that purpose and that the ethics should really come from the top '-- the chief executive.
Also of concern is the possibility that a single person would not get listened to or, worse, get steamrollered. And, if the person was bad at the job, of course, it could drag the whole thing down.
Others are more worried that the move would be nothing but window dressing. One consultant who focuses on ethics, but did not want to be named, told me: ''We haven't even defined ethics, so what even is ethical use, especially for Silicon Valley companies that are babies in this game?''
How can an industry that, unlike other business sectors, persistently promotes itself as doing good, learn to do that in reality? Do you want to not do harm, or do you want to do good? These are two totally different things.
And how do you put an official ethical system in place without it seeming like you're telling everyone how to behave? Who gets to decide those rules anyway, setting a moral path for the industry and '-- considering tech companies' enormous power '-- the world.
Like I said, adult supervision. Or maybe, better still, Silicon Valley itself has to grow up.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.
Kara Swisher, editor at large for the technology news website Recode and producer of the Recode Decode podcast and Code Conference, is a contributing opinion writer. @ karaswisher ' Facebook
Got the sniffles? Alexa may notice someday -- and offer cough drops - CNET
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 15:41
The doctor is in.
Ben Fox Rubin/CNET Some day, if you cough or sniffle while chatting with Alexa, the voice assistant may respond back with an offer to sell you cough drops.
Amazon was granted a US patent Tuesday that describes ways for making Alexa more aware of your physical or emotional state, such as if you're excited, bored or even a little sick. While Amazon is constantly working to make Alexa more human-like and knowledgeable, it's unclear whether the ideas from this patent will ever be added into the voice assistant.
Amazon declined to comment for this story.
The concept of making a digital assistant more emotionally intelligent has been discussed for years, but AI hasn't yet caught up to the complexities of human feelings. Creating AI that can notice these human cues could make Alexa more useful for people and help Amazon sell more relevant products to its customers.
But, Alexa and its fellow voice assistants still misunderstand a lot of basic requests, so it may be a while before they can tackle these harder tasks. Plus, especially when it comes to people's health, customers may find a new Alexa feature that notices emotional or physical changes invasive and creepy, even if meant to be helpful.
An illustration from Amazon's new Alexa patent.
Amazon In an example in the patent filing, a user tells Alexa, "I'm hungry," while coughing and sniffling. Determining the user may have a sore throat, Alexa asks the user if she would like a recipe for chicken soup. She declines. Alexa follows up by asking "Would you like to order cough drops with one-hour delivery?" The woman responds: "That would be awesome!"
In another example, a user asks Alexa, "What's going on today?" Alexa determines the user is likely bored and responds, "Are you in the mood for a movie?"
Providing these responses could help Amazon sell Alexa owners more stuff via voice shopping and even serve targeted advertisements from nearby restaurants and other retailers. Also, being able to determine potential health needs could help Amazon build up its health care business, especially after it agreed to buy the online pharmacy PillPack earlier this year.
NASA turns 60: The space agency has taken humanity farther than anyone else, and it has plans to go further.
Taking It to Extremes: Mix insane situations -- erupting volcanoes, nuclear meltdowns, 30-foot waves -- with everyday tech. Here's what happens.
This Thermometer Tells Your Temperature, Then Tells Firms Where to Advertise - The New York Times
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 15:41
Image Kinsa says its smart thermometers are in more than 500,000 American households. Credit Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times Most of what we do '-- the websites we visit, the places we go, the TV shows we watch, the products we buy '-- has become fair game for advertisers. Now, thanks to internet-connected devices in the home like smart thermometers, ads we see may be determined by something even more personal: our health.
This flu season, Clorox paid to license information from Kinsa, a tech start-up that sells internet-connected thermometers that are a far cry from the kind once made with mercury and glass. The thermometers sync up with a smartphone app that allows consumers to track their fevers and symptoms, making it especially attractive to parents of young children.
The data showed Clorox which ZIP codes around the country had increases in fevers. The company then directed more ads to those areas, assuming that households there may be in the market for products like its disinfecting wipes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends disinfecting surfaces to help prevent the flu or its spread.
Kinsa, a San Francisco company that has raised about $29 million from venture capitalists like Kleiner Perkins since it was founded in 2012, says its thermometers are in more than 500,000 American households. It has promoted the usefulness of its ''illness data,'' which it says is aggregated and contains no identifying personal information before being passed along to other companies.
It is unique, Kinsa says, because it comes straight from someone's household in real time. People don't have to visit a doctor, search their symptoms on Google or post to Facebook about their fever for the company to know where a spike might be occurring.
''The challenge with Google search or social media or mining any of those applications is you're taking a proxy signal '-- you're taking someone talking about illness rather than actual illness,'' said Inder Singh, the founder and chief executive of Kinsa. Search queries and social media can also be complicated by news coverage of flu season, he said, while data from the C.D.C. is often delayed and comes from hospitals and clinics rather than homes.
The so-called internet of things is becoming enmeshed in many households, bringing with it a new level of convenience along with growing concerns about privacy.
Makers of smart televisions like Sony have put software on their sets that track what people are watching and allow advertisers to target other devices in their homes. Roku sells boxes that stream television along with advertising aimed at viewers. And there are smart speakers from the likes of Amazon and Google.
Image Amazon's Echo smart speaker is among the growing ''internet of things,'' a collection of connected devices like televisions, thermostats and much more. Credit Chona Kasinger for The New York Times Amazon has submitted a patent application, recently granted, outlining how the company could recommend chicken soup or cough drops to people who use its Echo device if it detects symptoms like coughing and sniffling when they speak to it, according to a report by CNET. It could even suggest a visit to the movies after discerning boredom. Other patents submitted by the company have focused on how it could suggest products to people based on keywords in their conversations.
Christine Bannan, the consumer protection counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that even though Kinsa appeared to be using the information in a privacy-compliant manner, its business model highlights the need for federal regulation around how consumer data is handled.
''Ultimately there should be a more uniform standard and it shouldn't be up to the whims of each company,'' she said. ''It's less of a privacy question and more of an ethical question on what we think is acceptable for targeting people who are ill and what safeguards we want to have around that.''
Kinsa sells its data to other companies under the name Kinsa Insights. While Mr. Singh declined to share the names of other customers, citing confidentiality agreements, he said other companies had used the data to target advertising. It has also been used by pharmacies and manufacturers that make and distribute medicines and cough and cold products to keep retailers' shelves full with flu-related products when fevers spike in certain areas, he said.
One model of Kinsa's thermometer plugs straight into phones, while another child-friendly version looks like Elmo from ''Sesame Street.'' The company said that most app users opt to share their location and that Kinsa does not link the information to phone numbers or email addresses.
''We take data from our users, we aggregate it, we do all sorts of machine-learning techniques with it and combine it with other data sets and what we ultimately get is a signal,'' Mr. Singh said. ''That's on a ZIP code basis and county-by-county basis.''
He said the data provided unique insight into flu-related illness in specific areas. ''We can tell you if it's high or low, whether it's rising, if it's bigger than the three- or five- year average, when it's going to peak and how severe the symptoms are, too,'' Mr. Singh said.
Clorox used that information to increase digital ad spending to sicker areas and pull back in places that were healthier. Consumer interactions with Clorox's disinfectant ads increased by 22 percent with the data, according to a Kinsa Insights case study that tracked performance between November 2017 and March of this year. That number was arrived at by measuring the number of times an ad was clicked on, the amount of time a person spent with the ad and other undisclosed metrics, according to Vikram Sarma, senior director of marketing in Clorox's cleaning division.
Image Kinsa's smart thermometers sync up with a smartphone app that helps users track their fevers and symptoms, making it especially attractive to the parents of young children. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times Being able to target ads in this way is a big shift from even seven years ago, when the onset of cold and cough season meant buying 12 weeks of national TV ads that ''would be irrelevant for the majority of the population,'' Mr. Sarma said. The flu ultimately reaches the whole country each year, but it typically breaks out heavily in one region first and then spreads slowly to others.
While social media offered new opportunities, there has been ''a pretty big lag'' between tweets about the flu or flulike symptoms and the aggregation of that data for marketers to use, he said.
''What this does is help us really target vulnerable populations where we have a clear signal about outbreaks,'' Mr. Sarma said.
Mr. Singh, who was an executive vice president at the Clinton Health Access Initiative, said that Kinsa worked only with clients that can help with its mission of preventing the spread of illness through early detection. It made sense to work with Clorox, he said, because of the C.D.C. recommendation about disinfecting.
While Kinsa has a public health mission, other smart-device companies may not have similar mind-sets, Ms. Bannan said.
''I can just think of how cigarette and alcohol companies could use strategies like this, or other industries that could really have more harmful effects on people,'' she said.
Kinsa can make recommendations to individuals in certain situations, Mr. Singh said, pointing to its partnership with Teladoc, a telemedicine company. There is no financial arrangement between Kinsa and Teladoc but the two companies have an agreement that allows people with both apps to transfer their illness history from Kinsa to a Teladoc doctor, he said.
''We've made the call that we don't want to target the individual unless the individual is going to be helped by the intervention,'' Mr. Singh said. ''So for example if you have a newborn who has a fever, you need to see the doctor right away and if it's 3 a.m., I'm very happy to present you the option to talk to a telemedicine doctor.''
''To me,'' he added, ''that is not advertising in the strict sense of advertising.''
Donald G. McNeil Jr. contributed reporting.
Email Sapna Maheshwari at sapna@nytimes.com or follow her on Twitter: @sapna.
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GM's data mining is just the beginning of the in-car advertising blitz - The Verge
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 13:18
It wasn't until The Detroit Free Press reported on General Motors' radio-tracking program '-- which monitored the listening habits of 90,000 drivers in the Los Angeles and Chicago areas for three months in late 2017 '-- that it became clear that the future of targeted advertising in cars is'... well, it's practically already here.
GM captured minuted details such as station selection, volume level, and ZIP codes of vehicle owners, and then used the car's built-in Wi-Fi signal to upload the data to its servers. The goal was to determine the relationship between what drivers listen to and what they buy and then turn around and sell the data to advertisers and radio operators. And it got really specific: GM tracked a driver listening to country music who stopped at a Tim Horton's restaurant. (No data on that donut order, though.)
GM says the whole concept is still theoretical for now
GM says the whole concept is still theoretical for now. No one's data has been sold (or ''licensed,'' as GM prefers to call it). But GM spokesperson James Cain says that connected vehicle data can help develop more accurate ways to measure radio listenership. That could prove useful to the terrestrial radio industry, which continues to lose territory and ad dollars to digital streaming services like YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music. And GM sounds happy with the results.
''Our proof of concept has generated interest in the advertising and broadcast communities,'' Cain says. ''But we don't have any new projects to announce at this time.''
Today, radio advertising is slapdash. The ads we hear when we turn on the radio are the result of a system that assigns listenership to specific radio channels, which experts say can be inaccurate and error-prone. Those errors can lead to one station charging more for ads than another, even though the lesser one has a better or bigger audience.
But in the future, with data like GM is collecting, in-car advertising can be more targeted and based on specific consumer habits, akin to the ads you see in your Instagram feed. The radio industry probably won't be able to reverse its declining number of listeners, but better data might let stations change programming or more accurately reflect what is popular with listeners, says Michael Ramsey, a mobility analyst at Gartner. ''GM just is showing one of the many ways its telematics data can be used to make money,'' Ramsey says.
''telematics data can be used to make money.''
The experiment underscores how our cars have become rolling listening posts. They can track our phone calls, log our text messages, answer our voice commands, and, yes, even record our radio stations. And automakers, local governments, retailers, insurers, and tech companies want to leverage that data as best they can, especially as cars begin to become more automated and transform into self-driving shuttles.
According to research firm McKinsey, connected cars create up to 600GB of data per day '-- the equivalent of more than 100 hours of HD video every 60 minutes '-- and self-driving cars are expected to generate more than 150 times that amount. The value of this data is expected to reach more than $1.5 trillion by the year 2030, McKinsey says.
In the near term, though, privacy advocates worry that GM has taken the first steps toward surveilling unwitting customers. The automaker says that customers who use connected services must first opt in by accepting the automaker's terms of use describing how GM uses connected vehicle data. But John Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog's Privacy and Technology Project, says those terms are ''likely to be vague and not terribly descriptive so that people might not really understand what is going on and what is being gathered about them.''
He adds, ''We would all be much better off if GM simply stuck to selling cars and improving their vehicles, particularly with an eye toward improving safety.''
''We would all be much better off if GM simply stuck to selling cars.''
The Detroit Free Press report focused on a presentation by Saejin Park, director of global digital transformation at GM, at a September 12th meeting of the Association of National Advertisers.
''We can tell if they listened to it to the end,'' Park said at the conference, according to WARC, a global digital subscription service that attended the conference and prepared a report on it. ''Or, in the middle of the commercial, did they change it to another station?'' Park added, illustrating the types of outcomes yielded by this test.
The experiment lasted from November 2017 through January 2018, and it showed, for example, that different GM nameplates may be associated with a certain psychological profile. The owner of a Cadillac Escalade, for example, ''might be more likely to listen to 101.5. But someone else might be driving a GMC Yukon '-- same-sized vehicle, but a different brand '-- would be more likely to listen to 101.1,'' Park said.
In another example, a driver listened to a country music channel often and stopped at a Tim Horton's restaurant. GM wondered whether that driver might be influenced to stop at a McDonald's instead if advertisers pitched, say, a new coffee drink on that same radio channel.
''We're looking for ways to use these kinds of datasets.''
''We're looking for ways to use these kinds of datasets,'' Park said at the conference. ''It's a complicated, complex problem, and I don't know what the answer is. But GM is really interested in finding out what the potential path could be.''
Buyers for that data are likely to be limited, though. Record label and music industry sources basically shrugged when they were informed of the data GM was collecting from its vehicle fleet. Streaming services like Spotify are widely seen as having some of the best data for advertisers, not car companies.
''Aside from being potentially useful for label promo and marketing folks, generally, the feeling of folks in the music biz is listening to music via terrestrial radio is declining, thanks to in-dash streaming apps,'' said one music industry VP, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the GM study. ''Just overall less important to the music world.''
Still, GM's use of connected car data is worrisome to market research companies that gather and sell information based on listener habits. ''Data brokers are scared. It's terrifying,'' an executive at a music market research firm said. The executive also noted it would be difficult for GM or others to pinpoint the actual person controlling the radio in the vehicle when it could be a passenger or a child making those listening decisions. ''Who is making the decisions in the car? Who are they trying to influence?''
''Who is making the decisions in the car? Who are they trying to influence?''
Terrestrial radio isn't irrelevant: 90 percent of Americans over the age of 12 listen to AM/FM radio at least once a week, according to the Pew Research Center. But that number is down 2 percent from 2009, and the revenue side of the radio dial continues to slide, down to $20.9 million in 2017 from $21.8 million in 2016. When asked if GM's collection of radio-listening data was meant to level the playing field for terrestrial radio, Cain reframes the question.
''Another way to look at it is there are more than 15,000 terrestrial radio stations on the air in the United States across all formats, and somewhere around $18 billion in annual advertising is spent on the medium,'' he says. ''Improving audience measurement can benefit parties on both sides of the ledger.''
GM is ahead of its competitors in some ways. Not only is it tracking drivers' radio habits, but the Detroit-based auto giant is also pioneering efforts to bring more services '-- and more brands '-- to the vehicle's dash screen. Last year, around the same time as the radio study, GM unveiled a new service called Marketplace in which vehicle owners can pre-purchase coffee and gas or make restaurant reservations, all from the infotainment screen. GM called it ''the automotive industry's first commerce platform for on-demand reservations and purchases of goods and services.''
GM is certainly not alone in thinking about how it can monetize every aspect of vehicle ownership. Earlier this year, a Santa Clara, California-based company called Telenav announced a new product that it claims will revolutionize driving.
It boiled down to this: car companies that wanted to offer cool new options to consumers, like enhanced navigation or remote access, but didn't want to charge them exorbitant fees, could instead buy Telenav's software development kit (SDK) that would display advertisements on their vehicle's center console screen. In exchange for free access to new features, consumers would have to view a few seconds of an ad for relevant companies like Shell or Starbucks. It was the automotive version of Pandora Radio, in which users get to stream hours of free music with a smattering of commercials that they can't skip.
Clearly, this is where the automotive world was headed. As cars become more connected, more technology-focused, and more autonomous, it was only a matter of time before they become more branded. In some sense, the cars of the future will be the inverse of NASCAR racing cars: instead of being wrapped in corporate logos, the brand names will on the inside, facing us.
Google News app bug is using up gigabytes of background data without users' knowledge - The Verge
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 15:04
Some users of Google News for Android are reporting that the app has used up excessive amounts of background data, leading to overage charges. According to dozens of posts on the Google News Help Forum, users have been experiencing this issue as early as June. The issue was verified and addressed by a Google News community manager in September, stating that the company was investigating and working toward a fix, but the issue is still ongoing.
Verge reader Zach Dowdle emailed in with his experience, and screenshots of his app and Wi-Fi data usage.
The Google News app is randomly using a ridiculous amount of background data without users' knowledge. The app burned through over 12 gigs of data on my phone while I slept and my Wi-Fi had disconnected. It lead to $75 in overage charges.
The Google News app used 21GB on Wi-Fi in one month. The spike starting September 24th shows when the bug affected Dowdle's app.Image: Zach Dowdle When Wi-Fi disconnected, the bug used up close to 12GB of mobile data in a night.Image: Zach Dowdle According to several users, the app burned through mobile data despite having ''Download via Wi-Fi'' turned on in the settings. In some extreme cases, the Google News app used up to 24GB of data, leading to overage charges of up to $385, users reported. So far, the only solutions seem to be disabling background data, and deleting the app altogether. We've reached out to Google about the issue and will update when we hear back.
Want to delete Facebook? Read what happened to these people first - MarketWatch
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 18:49
In the past several months, some social-media users have threatened to #DeleteFacebook, but is anyone actually following through?
New data suggests the answer is yes. Some 44% of users between the ages of 18 and 29 have deleted the Facebook app from their phone in the last year, and 74% of Facebook users of all ages have either taken a break from the social network, changed their privacy settings, or deleted it altogether, according to a recent survey by Pew Research Center. Pew asked 4,594 people about their Facebook habits in late May and June, about two months after the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that millions of Facebook users had their personal information compromised.
Facebook FB, -3.46% in July reported a drop of 3 million daily users in Europe alone since the first quarter, when the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation first went into effect. In the U.S. and Canada, user growth was flat. That stoked concerns among analysts that Facebook, the world's largest social network with some 2 billion users, may not be as attractive to users as it once was.
But an August report by Piper Jaffray said that two-thirds of users are just as active on the site as they were this time last year, before the privacy scandals that have dogged the site in recent months. ''While this raises questions around user growth rates and expenses necessary to improve security and screening, our survey of Facebook and Instagram users leaves us confident that most are unfazed by the negative news flow,'' analyst Michael Olson wrote, according to CNBC.
When it was first revealed that the U.K.-based campaign strategy firm Cambridge Analytica used millions of Facebook users' personal data without their permission, many consumers said they planned to deactivate their accounts. Those who chose to delete Facebook told MarketWatch they felt relieved to be free from the pressure to always lead a happy life online. But others said they had difficulty staying in touch with family and even difficulties dating.
(A spokesperson for Facebook said she had no additional comment, beyond the company's earnings report.)
But what happens when you kiss Facebook goodbye? Here is what former users had to say about what happened after they deleted or deactivated their account:
'It's like a crazy ex that never forgets about you'Jax Austin, a travel video blogger who travels the U.S. in a converted school bus, made the decision to delete his Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But when he tried to, it didn't work. ''They make it so hard that it's almost possible to delete it,'' Austin said. ''It's like a crazy ex that never forgets about you.''
Others had the same trouble Austin did in making a clean break. Facebook is part of an ecosystem of apps. That makes the decision to delete far more complicated. Dating apps such as Tinder IAC, -3.26% and Hinge, and services like Spotify SPOT, -3.60% can all use Facebook to create user profiles.
Austin's Facebook account was connected with the free web service If This Then That, which posted YouTube GOOG, -2.80% videos to his Facebook profile automatically. Austin settled for no longer logging into Facebook and turned his account into a fan page.
'So much of social life is tied to Facebook'When Allen Watson, 32, a freelance writer from South Carolina, deleted his Facebook account, his mother was the most disappointed of his Facebook friends. ''That's how she kept in touch with me,'' Watson said. ''She wants to show off the things that I do.''
Jillian Clemmons, an artist and astrologer from Los Angeles, mostly found that people were supportive of her choice. But she did encounter some hostility. ''People react really defensively and almost see a decision like this as an attack on them,'' she said. ''In a way, it's like how meat-eaters constantly complain about people who are vegetarian. They feel guilty and counter-punch first.''
Don't miss: Your Facebook 'cult' won't let you quit
Anastasia Ashman, 53, an adviser for start-ups and investors who lives in San Francisco, said she quit Facebook when she became uncomfortable after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. One tweet, in particular, from national-security expert John Schindler convinced her to leave.
But the costs of leaving are ''huge,'' she said. She has few people's recent email addresses or phone numbers, and she can no longer rely on Facebook for contacting them. ''So much of social life is tied to Facebook I can't even get the location information I need for an event I RSVP-ed to for next weekend, since it's solely on Facebook,'' she said.
'I am really not interested in whether or not your child is potty trained'Mark Maitland, a 44-year-old writer in Brighton, England, who quit Facebook last week, still uses Twitter and Instagram, but rarely. He now spends more time reading and writing, ''talking and listening to real people,'' walking his dog and running in nature.
Some people gave up Facebook years ago. Nick Vecore, a 28-year-old who works in public relations in Leonard, Mich., said he quit Facebook in 2012, because he was simply sick of seeing ''nonsense.''
''I am really not interested in whether or not your child is potty trained,'' he said. ''I could keep people up-to-date on my life by talking to them in person, by text or through a phone call.'' It's not a total digital social-media detox, however. He too still uses Instagram and uses Twitter TWTR, -1.86% for work.
Mark Maitland is trying to spend more time off line with his wife and children.It can make verifying prospective dates trickyWatson, the freelance writer, used Facebook to verify the identities of people he had met through dating apps. And while he can still do that if people have relatively public profiles, in most cases he can't access their accounts because he no longer has one. ''I've had occasions where I had to call somebody up and ask them to check something out for me,'' Watson said.
And while he has not yet encountered anyone who was turned off by his lack of a Facebook profile, he does bring it up when he meets someone new.
Nick Vecore said he grew tired of reading others' posts on Facebook.Some users only have Facebook on their desktop computerMae Turner, who lives in northeast Texas, initially deactivated her Facebook account in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, after being alarmed at how the company collected the call history information for her Android smartphone.
(Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress in April to answer for some of these issues, including misuse of consumer data. In a statement to the House panel, he said, ''It's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm '.... It was my mistake, and I'm sorry.'')
But less than two weeks after deactivating her account, Turner revived it, because she felt isolated from friends and family. In one particularly troubling instance, it took days before she found out about the death of a close friend's wife who lived in another state. The news had only been posted on Facebook. Her brother, who still had his account, was the one who relayed it to her.
''I started to feel like I was being left out of the loop,'' she said. However, she is now a Facebook ''light'' user. She only uses the desktop version and does not allow any third parties to access her account information. And if she finds a social network that does not monetize user data? ''I'll bid Facebook a not-so-fond farewell in a heartbeat,'' she said.
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Apps Installed On Millions Of Android Phones Tracked User Behavior To Execute A Multimillion-Dollar Ad Fraud Scheme
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:21
Last April, Steven Schoen received an email from someone named Natalie Andrea who said she worked for a company called We Purchase Apps. She wanted to buy his Android app, Emoji Switcher. But right away, something seemed off.
''I did a little bit of digging because I was a little sketched out because I couldn't really find even that the company existed,'' Schoen told BuzzFeed News.
The We Purchase Apps website listed a location in New York, but the address appeared to be a residence. ''And their phone number was British. It was just all over the place,'' Schoen said.
It was all a bit weird, but nothing indicated he was about to see his app end up in the hands of an organization responsible for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in ad fraud, and which has funneled money to a cabal of shell companies and people scattered across Israel, Serbia, Germany, Bulgaria, Malta, and elsewhere.
Schoen had a Skype call with Andrea and her colleague, who said his name was Zac Ezra, but whose full name is Tzachi Ezrati. They agreed on a price and to pay Schoen up front in bitcoin.
''I would say it was more than I had expected,'' Schoen said of the price. That helped convince him to sell.
A similar scenario played out for five other app developers who told BuzzFeed News they sold their apps to We Purchase Apps or directly to Ezrati. (Ezrati told BuzzFeed News he was only hired to buy apps and had no idea what happened to them after they were acquired.)
''A significant portion of the millions of Android phone owners who downloaded these apps were secretly tracked as they scrolled and clicked inside the application."
The Google Play store pages for these apps were soon changed to list four different companies as their developers, with addresses in Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Russia, giving the appearance that the apps now had different owners.
But an investigation by BuzzFeed News reveals that these seemingly separate apps and companies are today part of a massive, sophisticated digital advertising fraud scheme involving more than 125 Android apps and websites connected to a network of front and shell companies in Cyprus, Malta, British Virgin Islands, Croatia, Bulgaria, and elsewhere. More than a dozen of the affected apps are targeted at kids or teens, and a person involved in the scheme estimates it has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from brands whose ads were shown to bots instead of actual humans. (A full list of the apps, the websites, and their associated companies connected to the scheme can be found in this spreadsheet.)
One way the fraudsters find apps for their scheme is to acquire legitimate apps through We Purchase Apps and transfer them to shell companies. They then capture the behavior of the app's human users and program a vast network of bots to mimic it, according to analysis from Protected Media, a cybersecurity and fraud detection firm that analyzed the apps and websites at BuzzFeed News' request.
This means a significant portion of the millions of Android phone owners who downloaded these apps were secretly tracked as they scrolled and clicked inside the application. By copying actual user behavior in the apps, the fraudsters were able to generate fake traffic that bypassed major fraud detection systems.
''This is not your run-of-the-mill fraud scheme,'' said Asaf Greiner, the CEO of Protected Media. ''We are impressed with the complex methods that were used to build this fraud scheme and what's equally as impressive is the ability of criminals to remain under the radar.''
''This is not your run-of-the-mill fraud scheme.''
Another fraud detection firm, Pixalate, first exposed one element of the scheme in June. At the time, it estimated that the fraud being committed by a single mobile app could generate $75 million a year in stolen ad revenue. After publishing its findings, Pixalate received an email from an anonymous person connected to the scheme who said the amount that's been stolen was closer to 10 times that amount. The person also said the operation was so effective because it works ''with the biggest partners [in digital advertising] to ensure the ongoing flow of advertisers and money.''
In total, the apps identified by BuzzFeed News have been installed on Android phones more than 115 million times, according to data from analytics service AppBrain. Most are games, but others include a flashlight app, a selfie app, and a healthy eating app. One app connected to the scheme, EverythingMe, has been installed more than 20 million times.
Once acquired, the apps continue to be maintained in order to keep real users happy and create the appearance of a thriving audience that serves as a cover for the cloned fake traffic. The apps are also spread among multiple shell companies to distribute earnings and conceal the size of the operation.
The revelation of this scheme shows just how deeply fraud is embedded in the digital advertising ecosystem, the vast sums being stolen from brands, and the overall failure of the industry to stop it.
App metrics firm AppsFlyer estimated that between $700 million and $800 million was stolen from mobile apps alone in the first quarter of this year, a 30% increase over the previous year. Pixalate's latest analysis of in-app fraud found that 23% of all ad impressions in mobile apps are in some way fraudulent. Overall, Juniper Research estimates $19 billion will be stolen this year by digital ad fraudsters, but others believe the actual figure could be three times that.
This scheme's focus on Android apps also exposes the presence of fraud, malware, and other risks affecting Google's mobile ecosystem and the users who rely on it. Experts say a scheme like this targets Android in part because of its huge user base, and because the Google Play store has a less rigorous app review process than Apple's App Store. Android apps are bought and sold, injected with malicious code, repurposed without users' or Google's knowledge, or, as in this case, turned into engines of fraud. (Apple's App Store is by no means immune to malicious attacks: A security researcher recently revealed that a top paid app is secretly transmitting user browsing data to a server in China.)
Google told BuzzFeed News it quickly removes any apps that violate Play store policies and that last year it took down more than 700,000 apps that were in violation. It also emphasized its commitment to fighting ad fraud by implementing standards such as ads.txt.
''We take seriously our responsibility to protect users and provide a great experience on Google Play. Our developer policies prohibit ad fraud and service abuse on our platform, and if an app violates our policies, we take action,'' said an emailed statement from a Google spokesperson.
The ad networks and ad exchanges used by the scheme include major players, such as those operated by Google, which means these companies earned commission if ads shown to bots went undetected. There is no evidence Google or any of the other companies knew the inventory was fraudulent.
After being provided with a list of the apps and websites connected to the scheme, Google investigated and found that dozens of the apps used its mobile advertising network. Its independent analysis confirmed the presence of a botnet driving traffic to websites and apps in the scheme. Google has removed more than 30 apps from the Play store, and terminated multiple publisher accounts with its ad networks. Google said that prior to being contacted by BuzzFeed News it had previously removed 10 apps in the scheme and blocked many of the websites. It continues to investigate, and published a blog post to detail its findings.
The company estimates this operation stole close to $10 million from advertisers who used Google's ad network to place ads in the affected websites and apps. It said the vast majority of ads being placed in these apps and websites came via other major ad networks.
Asked whether it reviews apps in the Play store on an ongoing basis, a company spokesperson pointed to a blog post from earlier this year that said, ''Sometimes developers change the content or behavior of their app and associated app listing and marketing materials after initially approved, requiring ongoing reviews as new information becomes available that can alter the original policy judgment.''
The company would not say whether any apps in this scheme received a subsequent review after they changed ownership, or for any other reason.
Got a tip about ad fraud? You can email tips@buzzfeed.com. To learn how to reach us securely, go to tips.buzzfeed.com.
Amin Bandeali, the chief technology officer of Pixalate, told BuzzFeed News that app stores provide minimal ongoing review of apps and their developers, which makes them an easy target for fraudsters and other bad actors.
''App stores, perhaps unwittingly, are providing a gateway to connecting fraudsters with [advertising] inventory buyers and sellers,'' he said. ''While the stores present customer reviews, download numbers and other 'quality' metrics, they offer minimal services that vet the business practices, technology and relationships of the app companies.''
To identify key beneficiaries of this scheme, BuzzFeed News analyzed corporate registration records, domain ownership and Domain Name System data, Play store listings, and other publicly available information. It revealed that the network of apps and websites is linked to Fly Apps, a Maltese company with multiple connections to the scheme.
Corporate records obtained by BuzzFeed News show that Fly Apps is owned by two Israelis, Omer Anatot and Michael Arie Iron, and two Germans, Thomas Porzelt and Felix Reinel.
Anatot's LinkedIn profile lists him as the CEO of EverythingMe, a popular app owned by Fly Apps. In messages sent on WhatsApp, Anatot said he only manages EverythingMe and blamed the initial fraud identified by Pixalate on a firm he says they worked with, AdNet Express. He said his company paid AdNet Express to generate installations of its apps to help grow its user base, and that any fraud was the fault of their partner.
''They were buying installs for us for a short time,'' he said. ''Very soon it turns out these guys were 100% fraudulent traffic of bots pushing installs.''
It's unclear if AdNet Express is a real company. It has virtually no online profile or reputation other than a very basic website, which does not list an address or phone number or cite any clients or projects. The domain ownership information for the site listed a fake US mailing address, as well as the email address ''MatthewBStrack@teleworm.us.'' That email address was generated using a service called Fake Mail Generator. The company's two employees listed on LinkedIn cite no additional work experience or educational background on their profiles, and appear to have no other online presence.
BuzzFeed News sent an email citing Anatot's claims to the address listed on the company's website. ''This is very interesting,'' someone wrote back. ''Today, i cannot speak but Friday.'' They did not reply to subsequent emails.
Also, at some point after Anatot began communicating with BuzzFeed News, many of the websites in the scheme were taken offline. Several websites for shell companies were unpublished at the same time.
''You try to tie me into something I've no relationship to,'' Anatot said in a message. ''And if you go and publish that, you and the publisher will carry the legal liability. You really have no grounds for the things you tie me to.''
After receiving a detailed email with information connecting Fly Apps to apps and companies involved in the scheme, the company responded with a letter from its attorney that denied any involvement in, or knowledge of, the fraud identified by Pixalate. Fly Apps also denied it has any connections to the apps, websites, and companies identified in the overall fake traffic scheme.
''Please be advised that my client categorically denies these very serious and false allegations, which if published, would cause tremendous harm to it,'' the letter, from Harder LLP, said. ''Fly Apps' applications are loved by many, and have a significant amount of users. Fly Apps is a reputable application developer, which has long been supported by advertising partners and advertising verification companies.''
The letter, which can be read in full here, omitted any reference to AdNet Express and instead blamed the fraud revealed by Pixalate on an unnamed third party that provided a "corrupted" software development kit. It did not address the fact that Protected Media detected fake traffic in many of these apps and websites beginning more than a year ago.
A subsequent set of questions from BuzzFeed News asked Fly Apps to comment on the fact that Google removed advertising accounts associated with websites and apps it found had received high levels of fraudulent traffic. The company, speaking through its lawyer, acknowledged that Google was recently in touch with Fly Apps about its account(s).
"A few days ago, Fly Apps received a Google notification concerning an issue with Adsense and is in the process of trying to obtain further information. Fly Apps is confident that it will resolve this issue in due time and notes that the Google notification did not mention any issues regarding bad traffic," said an emailed statement.
BuzzFeed also asked the company to comment on the fact many websites connected to the scheme went offline after Fly Apps learned of BuzzFeed News' interest, and many apps in the scheme have since been removed from the Play store by Google.
"Fly Apps cannot comment on applications and websites, online or offline, that are not related to Fly Apps," it said.
Here's a breakdown of how a group of partners leveraged technical knowledge and connections within the advertising ecosystem, a network of shell companies with fake employee profiles, an army of bots, and more than 100 apps and websites to operate a scheme that an insider says stole hundreds of millions of dollars.
1. How The Fake Traffic WorksThe first step to creating convincing fake traffic for this scheme is to acquire Android apps used by actual human users. The fraudsters study the behavior of the users and then create bots '-- automated computer programs '-- that mimic the same actions. The bots are loaded onto servers that contain specialized software that enables the bots to generate traffic within the specific apps.
In the case of websites in the scheme, the bots visit them using virtual web browsers that help present this traffic as human. In both cases, the fake traffic generates ad views, which in turn earns revenue.
The blending of real humans with bots helps defeat systems built to detect fake traffic, because the real traffic and fake traffic look almost exactly the same.
''These bots are unique to this operation, mimicking real user behavior. The traffic is therefore a mix of real users inside a real app, and fake traffic,'' said Greiner of Protected Media. (Google's investigation also found that some of the fake traffic directed to properties in the scheme came from a botnet called "TechSnab.")
''It's clear to us that the people orchestrating this scheme are both familiar with the ad tech industry and with the mainstream data science approach to detecting ad fraud,'' he said.
Anatot previously ran a company, Install Labs LTD, that distributed adware and other software classified as ''potentially unwanted programs'' (PUP) by security and anti-virus firms due to them causing frustration for users, and often installing other programs without permission. He's also an investor in Montiera, another company that distributed software classified as PUP. Like the Android apps and websites in this scheme, these PUP offerings relied on digital advertising to generate revenue.
Reinel and Porzelt previously ran a German hosting and server administration company called hostimpact.de. Between those three, they possess the background in advertising and server management necessary for this scheme.
It's unclear what Iron did prior to Fly Apps, though as detailed below he is part owner of a Serbian company that develops mobile apps for Android, as well as other web products.
2. How The Fraud Was First DiscoveredThe scheme began to unravel this summer when data scientists at Pixalate detected something alarming in an Android app called MegaCast. The app's pitch was that it enabled a user to play any video, regardless of format, on a streaming device. But behind the scenes, MegaCast was pretending to be something it wasn't.
Pixalate found that MegaCast was at times displaying the unique ID of other apps in order to attract bids for ads. This meant ad buyers thought they were, for example, buying ads in the far more popular EverythingMe app when in reality they were showing up in MegaCast. (This is called ''spoofing,'' because MegaCast was pretending to be other apps.)
Pixalate identified roughly 60 apps being spoofed by MegaCast and estimated this one scheme could generate $75 million per year in fraudulent ad revenue. It documented ads from major brands such as Disney, L'Or(C)al, Facebook, Volvo, and Lyft being fraudulently displayed.
Pixalate revealed its findings in a June blog post, and MegaCast was soon removed from the Google Play store.
Fly Apps told BuzzFeed News that MegaCast was a victim of the spoofing scheme, and that it removed the app from the Play store because "its reputation has unfortunately been tarnished by recent events. Fly Apps will be creating a new and improved casting application."
Soon after Pixalate went public with its findings, an email arrived in its inbox from an email address at Mobilytics.org, an analytics company that helped facilitate the MegaCast fraud. (It was used to track how much money was being earned from ads placed with each spoofed app ID.)
''This email is directed to the top management team of Pixalate. For the obvious reasons, my name is not relevant now,'' read the email.
The person offered to share their inside knowledge to fully expose the scheme and reveal how big it really is.
''Your estimation of $75 [million] accumulated damage is probably 10% of the real numbers.''
''I will explain you the technologies to create traffic on android, how to distribute it, how to sell the created traffic, the business structures needed, but most of all how to partner with the biggest partners to ensure the ongoing flow of advertisers and money,'' the email said. (Contrary to what Anatot and Fly Apps claimed, this inside source said nothing about fraudulent app installs or a corrupted software development kit.)
''And by the way,'' the message said, ''your estimation of $75 [million] accumulated damage is probably 10% of the real numbers. But that just explains how unaware or just cooperative the industry is with this growing 'business.'''
Pixalate replied to ask for more information, but never heard back. Soon, all replies to the email bounced back as a result of Mobilytics's website being taken offline.
By then, BuzzFeed News had begun its own investigation of the ownership information and other details related to the spoofed apps. This dive into corporate records, domain registration information, DNS data, and other publicly available sources led to a startling conclusion: Rather than being victims of the MegaCast spoofing, the apps were all connected and therefore part of the same scheme. This aligned with what the anonymous Mobilytics employee hinted at. Protected Media's subsequent discovery of the fake traffic generated by bots also confirmed what the source said.
Ultimately, this information led to the group of four men operating Fly Apps, which owns MegaCast, EverythingMe, and other applications.
3. Key BeneficiariesBack in 2015, EverythingMe was one of the most promising Android apps in the Play store. It won a Webby Award, was featured by Google, amassed more than 10 million downloads, and raised more than $35 million in venture capital. EverythingMe is a ''launcher'' that helps organize apps and contacts, and surfaces relevant information based on when you're using your phone.
In spite of its success, at the end of 2015, the company that created it announced it was shutting down and soon removed EverythingMe from availability. Without a hot startup behind it, the app was largely forgotten.
In 2016, the app was quietly sold to a new owner, according to a former EverythingMe executive who asked not to be named or quoted. They declined to say who bought it, citing a nondisclosure agreement. In early 2017 the EverythingMe Twitter account briefly sprung to life to tweet that ''EverythingMe is back!'' and promote a download link.
As of today, EverythingMe is the property of Fly Apps. On LinkedIn, Anatot, an Israeli, lists himself as CEO of EverythingMe. Corporate ownership records confirm that Anatot owns 25% of Fly Apps, along with three other men who each own the same share: Thomas Porzelt and Felix Reinel, two Germans; and Michael Arie Iron, an Israeli.
After hearing that a BuzzFeed News reporter was looking into his company, Anatot reached out by email: ''I understand that you are looking into mobile apps advertising and assumed very wrong conclusions about me, my company and my partners.''
In a subsequent WhatsApp chat Anatot blamed the fraud detected by Pixalate on AdNet Express, a company that may not exist. He also downplayed his role and ownership stake in Fly Apps.
''My holiding [sic] in fly apps is private matter, but I can tell you that I'm a far minority holder,'' he said, omitting the fact that he owns the same share as his three partners.
Anatot said that after he acquired EverythingMe, ''Fly apps teamed up with me to supply the tech team and financing.'' He said he does not have oversight of other Fly Apps products.
But additional details connect Anatot in other ways to at least one of his Fly Apps partners. Anatot runs a company called TinTin Consulting that serves as his vehicle for investing in companies. His list of portfolio companies was removed from TinTin's website after Anatot learned of BuzzFeed News' interest in him. But before it was scrubbed, the site listed the Serbian-based mobile apps and software development company Kudos as one of his investments. Maltese corporate records show Anatot's partner Iron owns 49% of that company.
Milos Kovacki, the founder and COO of Kudos, told BuzzFeed News the company never worked with Fly Apps or any of the shell companies involved in the scheme. But the LinkedIn profiles of two Kudos employees detail their work on MegaCast, the Fly Apps Android app that Pixalate found to be at the center of the spoofing scheme. Kovacki did not respond to subsequent questions.
BuzzFeed News also found multiple connections linking Fly Apps to other companies, websites, and apps in the ad fraud operation.
The Play store pages for EverythingMe, Restaurant Finder, and MegaCast all list the Malta address used by Fly Apps. That same address was also listed on the website of Mobilytics, the company that was central to the initial fraud discovered by Pixalate.
The letter from Fly Apps' lawyer noted that this address is for a corporate registration agent in Malta, not an actual business office. However, a Google search for the address the exact way it's written on these pages almost exclusively brings up results connected to apps owned by Fly Apps. That initial connection is not conclusive on its own, but quickly combines with others.
A key connector between Fly Apps and properties in the scheme is the email address lorentsen@yandex.ru. It was used to register the domain names for the websites of Fly Apps properties EverythingMe and Restaurant Finder. And it's also the email address used to register the websites for 15 other apps implicated in the scheme, which in turn connect to eight shell companies.
A third connection between Anatot/FlyApps and companies or properties in the scheme is the MegaCast app. Anatot acknowledged to BuzzFeed News that MegaCast is owned by Fly Apps. But the since-removed MegaCast website listed a Bulgarian company called Messamta Project as its developer. Messamta's corporate records list a Bulgarian address used by more than a dozen other apps in the scheme. It's also the corporate registration address used by three additional Bulgarian shell companies that were publicly listed as the owners of these apps and websites: Osipo/Osypo, Ventus Trading, and Rasolant. As with the Malta address, it appears to be almost exclusively associated with companies and apps involved in the scheme.
Fly Apps' lawyer argued this was simply another case of their client using the same service providers as other companies. However, the websites for Osypo and Rasolant were both taken offline after BuzzFeed News began communicating with Anatot. And as detailed below, there is overwhelming evidence that these and other related companies are nothing more than shells created to help execute the fraud scheme.
The Fly Apps website itself also provides a fourth connection. Its design and some of its text is a carbon copy of the website Loocrum.com, which describes itself as a mobile apps monetization platform. The code for the Fly Apps site even includes a reference to Loocrum, showing that at least some of its code was literally copied from that site.
The Loocrum website was registered last year by a person named Petar Popovich with the email address ppopovic588@gmail.com. That email address was also used to register the domain names of two shell companies involved in the scheme, Quaret and Visont. Petar Popovich is also the name of the Serbian citizen who registered Bulgarian shell companies in the scheme. (An email sent to that address went unanswered.)
A final connection of note is that the Restaurant Finder app, which belongs to Fly Apps, was removed from the Play store after Google began taking action against apps it determined had received fraudulent traffic as part of this scheme.
After Steven Schoen sold his app, Emoji Switcher, to We Purchase Apps, the new owner created a website for it, emojiswitcher.com. And just like the websites for EverythingMe and Restaurant Finder, that domain was originally registered to a ''Jacob Lorentsen'' of London using the email address lorentsen@yandex.ru. (An email sent to that address did not receive a reply.)
That same registration information appears in the whois records for 19 other domain names associated with Android apps in this scheme. These apps list at least eight different companies as their owner or developer: Lyrman, Osypo, Fly Apps, Morrum, Visont, Imoderatus, AEY Solutions, and Rasolant. And these companies in turn list addresses in Serbia, Cyprus, Latvia, Bulgaria, and Russia.
That single domain registration email address connects a web of apps and shell companies to one another, as well as directly to Fly Apps:
Another key connection between multiple apps and companies is the address in Bulgaria linked to Messamta Project. It appears in the Play store pages for 21 apps spread out among four companies.
Along with being the corporate address of Messamta, it shows up in records for Rasolant, which is publicly listed as the owner of 12 other apps involved in the spoofing attack first identified by Pixalate, as well as seven related websites identified by BuzzFeed News.
Osypo, which also uses the same Bulgaria address, is listed as the developer of four apps in the Play store that are part of the scheme. The company's website, which like several others was deleted after BuzzFeed News began making inquiries, lists an additional seven apps in the scheme.
This single address connects multiple companies, apps, and websites, which again connect back to Fly Apps:
Other connections abound. For example, the Android game Surprise Eggs - Kids Game has a listing in the Play store that says it's developed by a company called Visont, and the app's website says the same. However, the domain registration information for the app's site lists its owner as Quaret Digital, a separate company that itself is the owner of 10 websites participating in the scheme. Its website was taken offline after BuzzFeed News began inquiries, but can be viewed here. (Visont's website was also removed late last week. It was registered last year using the email address lorentsen@yandex.ru.)
On LinkedIn, at least one of Quaret's purported employees uses a profile stolen from actor and Instagram influencer Sarah Ellen.
The domain registration and other technical details of the website for Surprise Eggs offer additional connections. The site uses an SSL certificate registered to the website TrackMyShows.tv. Track My Shows is an Android app in the scheme that has a website registered to lorentsen@yandex.ru. (An SSL certificate is used to certify the identity of a website being loaded in a web browser, and it also helps ensure a secure connection for the user. Websites typically to use a certificate connected to their specific domain, but sometimes site owners reuse a certificate across multiple properties.)
More than 15 additional websites involved in the scheme reused the same TrackMyShows.tv SSL certificate, according to data from DomainTools. Those apps claim to be owned by companies named Imoderatus, Morrum, Mout, AEY Solutions, Quaret Digital, Visont, and Rasolant, respectively. All of these seemingly separate apps/websites, belonging to different companies, are also hosted on the same server. As of this writing, 13 of the apps were recently removed from the Play store, likely as a result of Google's ongoing investigation.
In its legal letter, Fly Apps explained all of these connections by saying they ''are the practical result from application developers using the same pool of common service providers within a specific industry.''
''They are not the result of any illicit conduct by Fly Apps in developing and setting up an intricate web of malicious applications to create fake traffic and steal hundreds of millions of dollar in advertising revenue,'' it added.
5. Technical Connections and Common Customer SupportThe technical elements of the apps provide more connections and evidence that they're developed and managed centrally.
BuzzFeed News provided a list of apps to Armando Orozco, a senior malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes. He examined a sample of 13 belonging to different shell companies and found they ''seem to be built in the same manner and mostly have the same ad sdk's bundled in them '-- likely from the same developers/gang just submitting under different names.'' (Ad SDKs, or software development kits, are programming libraries that enable an app to run specific types of ads in order to earn revenue. This means these apps were all using the same types of ads and ad providers to make money.)
He also examined EverythingMe, the Fly Apps application, and found it had the same unique ad identification code as other apps, and said it contained ''very similar code chunks and strings.''
An additional connection between Fly Apps applications and the apps operated by shell companies can be found on their Play store pages. These supposedly separate developers repeatedly used the exact same phrase in response to user complaints about intrusive or overloaded ads: ''we are trying to find the balance between clean user experience and funding our project!''
It's used by Fly Apps to respond to complaints about EverythingMe and MegaCast. And it's used to respond to complaints about apps in the scheme including Track My Shows, Cat Rescue Puzzles, Surprise Eggs - Kids Game, Pix UI Icon Pack 2 - Free Pixel Icon Pack, Surprise Eggs Vending Machine, and Twist Your Fingers, among others.
6. Shell Companies With Fake Employees, Fake Customers, Copied TextIn some cases, the websites of shell companies used in the scheme list the names and photos of employees, and link to LinkedIn profiles for them. But BuzzFeed News found multiple cases where stock photos were used for employees' pictures. In other cases, searches for employee names only turn up results related to the companies, suggesting they are made-up names. Multiple shell company websites also reuse the same marketing text, word for word.
One Bulgarian company called Atoses Digital says on its website that it's the developer of sites in the scheme including scandalcity.tv, webarena.tv, healthtube.info, and dailydally.tv. (It also claims to have worked on Glam, a once-hot fashion website that was sold last summer.)
The Atoses site lists eight employees, but BuzzFeed News found that at least half of the headshots are taken from stock image websites. The LinkedIn profiles of those employees list no employment or education experience other than their work at Atoses.
Many shell company sites also feature fake customer testimonials. The website for a company called TapTapVideo claims it helps monetize MegaCast, Twist Your Fingers, and Smart Voice Assistant, three apps found in the scheme. Its site includes customer testimonials, one of which is from a woman named ''Gabriella Byrd.'' The photo used for her is, in fact, a picture of a UX designer named Kristi Grassi.
''Yes, I'm aware this photo seems to be used all over,'' Grassi told BuzzFeed News in an email after being alerted to its presence on the site. Grassi said her photo was uploaded to a site that allowed designers to use it in mock-ups. Since then it has been misused by others.
Similarly, Osypo's since-removed website had three customer testimonials, but BuzzFeed News could not locate any information about the people and companies cited. (The site also uses a stock photo to represent its office.)
Along with fake employees and customers, the companies recycle the same text on their homepages. Kheus, Immoderatus, and Visont all say, ''Before we start development process, we need to research subjects of the project, your competitors, the target audience of the project. Our research results in technical requirements and wireframes, determined together with the customer.''
The websites for Visont, Ellut, and Morrum say, ''To meet your campaign objectives, our technology suite includes all forms of targeting including re-marketing, contextual, behavioral, geographic and dayparting.''
Osypo and Morrum also have identical text, including the statement that they provide ''website development services that meet all your needs and are tailored according to the peculiarities of your business field.''
7. Video Websites With Plagiarized ContentAlong with Android apps, BuzzFeed News identified more than 35 websites connected to the shell companies. Protected Media and Pixalate both found evidence of fraudulent traffic on a selection of the sites.
The vast majority of these websites present themselves as video content providers in lucrative verticals such as fashion, sports, or celebrity news. Many use the .tv domain suffix to reinforce their focus on video.
But the websites themselves rarely update their content and some displayed the same videos. Another sign that they're empty vessels for fake traffic is the fact that the same sentence '-- ''We deliver our services to to over 4 million households with set top boxes, and providing mobile video services that reach over 10 million subscribers'' '-- is found on the About page of more than 20 sites in the scheme.
Two other sites in the scheme, 24gossip.net and topstories.fun, copied their About page text from the website Gossip Cop, a celebrity fact-checking website. (Both of those URLs were registered using an email address connected to Rasolant, while their websites publicly list the owner as Quaret Digital, further demonstrating how the shell companies are intertwined.)
Almost all of the websites listed in BuzzFeed News' email to Anatot have since been taken offline.
A final sign that they're fraudulent properties was noticed by Ian Trider, the director of real-time bidding operations for Centro, a platform used by brands and agencies to buy digital ads.
He told BuzzFeed News he banned several Quaret properties last year after noticing they included instructions in their website code that would stop Google from indexing the sites. This would have prevented the sites from attracting traffic from search. Less traffic means less revenue, so no legitimate ad-supported website would want that.
''Asking search engines to avoid indexing your site is not something you normally do as a for-profit publisher. You want the public to visit so you can make money through advertising," Trider said.
But search traffic seems less important when you can simply fabricate an audience. '—
Sweden
Resignation syndrome: Sweden's mystery illness - BBC News
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 15:14
For nearly two decades Sweden has been battling a mysterious illness. Called Resignation Syndrome, it affects only the children of asylum-seekers, who withdraw completely, ceasing to walk or talk, or open their eyes. Eventually they recover. But why does this only seem to occur in Sweden?
When her father picks her up from her wheelchair, nine-year-old Sophie is lifeless. In contrast, her hair is thick and shiny - like a healthy child's. But Sophie's eyes are closed. And under her tracksuit bottoms she wears a nappy. A transparent feeding tube runs into Sophie's nose - this is how she has been nourished for the past 20 months.
Sophie and her family are asylum seekers from the former USSR. They arrived in December 2015 and live in accommodation allocated to refugees in a small town in central Sweden.
"Her blood pressure is quite normal," says Dr Elisabeth Hultcrantz, a volunteer with Doctors of the World. "But she has a high pulse rate, so maybe she's reacting to so many people coming to visit her today."
Hultcrantz tests Sophie's reflexes. Everything works normally. But the child does not stir.
An ENT surgeon before she retired, Hultcrantz is worried because Sophie does not ever open her mouth. This could be dangerous, because if there were a problem with her feeding tube, Sophie could choke.
Image caption Elisabeth Hultcrantz: Children disconnect the conscious part of their brain So how could a child who loved to dance become so deeply inert?
"When I explain to the parents what has happened, I tell them the world has been so terrible that Sophie has gone into herself and disconnected the conscious part of her brain," says Hultcrantz.
The health professionals who treat these children agree that trauma is what has caused them to withdraw from the world. The children who are most vulnerable are those who have witnessed extreme violence - often against their parents - or whose families have fled a deeply insecure environment.
To our knowledge, no cases have been established outside of SwedenSophie's parents have a terrifying story of extortion and persecution by a local mafia. In September 2015 their car was stopped by men in police uniform.
"We were dragged out. Sophie was in the car so she witnessed me and her mother being roughly beaten," remembers Sophie's father.
The men let Sophie's mother go - she grabbed her daughter and ran. But Sophie's father did not escape.
"They took me away and then I don't remember anything," he says.
Sophie's mother took her to a friend's home. The little girl was very upset. She cried, shouted "Please go and find my dad!", and beat the wall with her feet.
Three days later, her father made contact, and from then on the family remained on the move, hiding in friends' homes until they left for Sweden three months later. On arrival, they were held for hours by Swedish police. Then, quite quickly, Sophie deteriorated.
"After a couple of days, I noticed she wasn't playing as much as she used to with her sister," says Sophie's mother, who is expecting a new baby next month.
Soon afterwards, the family was informed they could not stay in Sweden. Sophie heard everything in that meeting with the Migration Board, and it was at this point that she stopped speaking and eating.
Resignation Syndrome was first reported in Sweden in the late 1990s. More than 400 cases were reported in the two years from 2003-2005.
As more Swedes began to worry about the consequences of immigration, these "apathetic children", as they were known, became a huge political issue. There were reports the children were faking it, and that parents were poisoning their offspring to secure residence. None of those stories were proven.
Over the last decade, the number of children reported to be suffering from Resignation Syndrome has decreased. Sweden's National Board of Health recently stated there were 169 cases in 2015 and 2016.
It remains the case that children from particular geographical and ethnic groups are the most vulnerable: those from the former USSR, the Balkans, Roma children, and most recently the Yazidi. Only a tiny number have been unaccompanied migrants, none have been African, and very few have been Asian. Unlike Sophie, the children affected have often been living in Sweden for years, speak the language and are well-adjusted to their new, Nordic lives.
Numerous conditions resembling Resignation Syndrome have been reported before - among Nazi concentration camp inmates, for example. In the UK, a similar condition - Pervasive Refusal Syndrome - was identified in children in the early 1990s, but there have been only a tiny handful of cases, and none of them among asylum seekers.
"To our knowledge, no cases have been established outside of Sweden," writes Dr Karl Sallin, a paediatrician at the Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital, part of Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm.
Find out more Image caption Sophie's mother, sister and father Listen to Sweden's Child Migrant Mystery on Assignment, on the BBC World Service
For transmission times or to catch up online, click here
So how can an illness respect national boundaries? There is no definitive answer to that question, says Sallin, who is researching Resignation Syndrome for his PhD.
I can't make her better, because as doctors we don't decide if these children can stay in Sweden or not"The most plausible explanation is that there are some sort of socio-cultural factors that are necessary in order for this condition to develop. A certain way of reacting or responding to traumatic events seems to be legitimised in a certain context."
So somehow - and we do not know the mechanism for this, and why it should happen in Sweden - the kind of symptoms displayed by the children are culturally sanctioned: this is a way the children are allowed to express their trauma. If that is the case, it raises an interesting question: could Resignation Syndrome be contagious?
"That is sort of implicit in the model. That if you provide the right sort of nourishment for those kinds of behaviours in a society, you will also see more cases," says Sallin.
"If you look at the very first case in 1998 in the north of Sweden, as soon as that case was reported, there were other cases emerging in the same area. And there have also been cases of siblings where first one develops it and then the other. But it should be noted that researchers who proposed that model of disease, they are not certain that there needs to be direct contact between cases. It's a topic for research."
Here Sallin hits on the main obstacle to understanding Resignation Syndrome - the lack of research into it. No-one has done follow-up on what happens to these children, but we do know that they survive.
For Sophie's parents, that is hard to believe. They have seen no change in their daughter in 20 months. Their days are punctuated by Sophie's regime - exercises to stop her muscles wasting, attempts to engage her with music and cartoons, walks outside in a wheelchair, feeding and changing.
"You need to harden your heart with these cases," says Sophie's paediatrician, Dr Lars Dagson, who has seen her regularly throughout her illness.
"I can only keep her alive. I can't make her better, because as doctors we don't decide if these children can stay in Sweden or not."
Image caption Annica Carlshamre: This sickness has to do with trauma, not asylum Dagson shares the view commonly held among doctors treating children with Resignation Syndrome, that recovery depends on them feeling secure and that it is a permanent residence permit that kick-starts that process.
"In some way the child will have to sense that there's hope, something to live for'... That's the only way I can explain why having the right to stay would, in all the cases I've seen so far, change the situation."
Until recently, families with a sick child were allowed to stay. But the arrival of some 300,000 migrants in the last three years has led to a change of heart.
Last year, a new temporary law came into force that limits all asylum seekers' chances of being granted permanent residence. Applicants are granted either a three-year or 13-month visa. Sophie's family have the latter, and it expires in March next year.
"What happens afterwards? The real issue hasn't been dealt with - it's limbo," says Dagson.
He doubts Sophie will recover in 13 months.
"I can't say it's not possible, but it all depends how the parents sense this - are we going to stay after these 13 months? If they're not sure about that, they cannot give Sophie the sense that everything is OK."
But evidence from the town of Skara in the south of Sweden suggests that there is a way of curing children with Resignation Syndrome even if the family doesn't receive permanent residence.
"From our point of view, this particular sickness has to do with former trauma, not asylum," says Annica Carlshamre, a senior social worker for Gryning Health, a company that runs Solsidan, a home for all kinds of troubled children.
When children witness violence or threats against a parent, their most significant connection in the world is ripped apart, the carers at Solsidan believe.
"Then the child understands - my mother can't take care of me," Carlshamre explains. "And they give up hope, because they know they are totally dependent on the parent. When that happens, to where or what can the child turn?"
We have an expectation that they want to live, and all their abilities are still thereThat family connection must be re-built, but first the child must begin to recover, so Solsidan's first step is to separate the children from their parents.
"We keep the family informed about their progress, but we don't let them talk because the child must depend on our staff. Once we have separated the child, it takes only a few days, until we see the first signs that, yes, she's still there'..."
All conversations about the migration process are banned in front of the child.
The children get up every day. They have day clothes and night clothes, and experienced staff like Clara Ogren, help them colour or draw by holding their hands to grip a pencil.
"We play for them until they can play on their own. And we goof around a lot and dance and listen to music. We want to bring all their senses to life. So we might take a little bit of Coca Cola, and put it in their mouth so they taste something sweet. Even if they are tube-fed, we put them in the kitchen so they smell food," she says.
"We have an expectation that they want to live, and all their abilities are still there, but they just forgot or lost the sense of using them. This work takes a lot of energy because we have to live for the children until they start to live on their own."
The longest time it took for a child to recover was six months.
Often the children will have no contact with their parents until they are able to talk to them on the phone.
Of the 35 children Calshamre has met over the years, one of them got permission to stay in Sweden while still at Solsidan. The others recovered before their asylum status was assured.
A book - The Way Back - has recently been published about Solsidan, but its work is not well-known. Could this kind of treatment help Sophie? Twenty months is a very long time for a child of her age to be disengaged from the world. What do her parents think will aid her recovery?
"Maybe the new baby when it comes will help," says Sophie's father.
Sophie's mother can only repeat what she has heard from the doctor.
"In order for Sophie to wake up, the doctor says she and her family should feel safe."
Their biggest fear is that they will be deported back to where they came from, and that the men who drove them out will find them.
"They promised they will kill us. There is nothing more devastating that can happen."
In order to protect the family's identity, Sophie's name has been changed
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Any Collusion?
Mueller report PSA: Prepare for disappointment - POLITICO
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 13:08
While Robert Mueller is under no deadline to complete his work, several sources tracking the investigation say the special counsel and his team appear eager to wrap up. | Win McNamee/Getty Images
President Donald Trump's critics have spent the past 17 months anticipating what some expect will be among the most thrilling events of their lives: special counsel Robert Mueller's final report on Russian 2016 election interference.
They may be in for a disappointment.
Story Continued Below
That's the word POLITICO got from defense lawyers working on the Russia probe and more than 15 former government officials with investigation experience spanning Watergate to the 2016 election case. The public, they say, shouldn't expect a comprehensive and presidency-wrecking account of Kremlin meddling and alleged obstruction of justice by Trump '-- not to mention an explanation of the myriad subplots that have bedeviled lawmakers, journalists and amateur Mueller sleuths.
Perhaps most unsatisfying: Mueller's findings may never even see the light of day.
''That's just the way this works,'' said John Q. Barrett, a former associate counsel who worked under independent counsel Lawrence Walsh during the Reagan-era investigation into secret U.S. arms sales to Iran. ''Mueller is a criminal investigator. He's not government oversight, and he's not a historian.''
All of this may sound like a buzzkill after two years of intense news coverage depicting a potential conspiracy between the Kremlin and Trump's campaign, plus the scores of tweets from the White House condemning the Mueller probe as a ''witch hunt.''
But government investigation experts are waving a giant yellow caution flag now to warn that Mueller's no-comment mantra is unlikely to give way to a tell-all final report and an accompanying blitz of media interviews and public testimony on Capitol Hill.
''He won't be a good witness,'' said Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior counsel to independent counsel Kenneth Starr now working as a senior fellow at the nonprofit R Street Institute. ''His answers will be, 'yes', 'no' and 'maybe.'''
For starters, Mueller isn't operating under the same ground rules as past high-profile government probes, including the Reagan-era investigation into Iranian arms sale and whether President Bill Clinton lied during a deposition about his extramarital affair with a White House intern. Those examinations worked under the guidelines of a post-Watergate law that expired in 1999 that required investigators to submit findings to Congress if they found impeachable offenses, a mandate that led to Starr's salacious report that upended Clinton's second term.
Mueller's reporting mandate is much different. He must notify his Justice Department supervisor '-- currently Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein '-- on his budgeting needs and all ''significant events'' made by his office, including indictments, guilty pleas and subpoenas.
When Mueller is finished, he must turn in a ''confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions'' '-- essentially why he chose to bring charges against some people but not others. His reasoning, according to veterans of such investigations, could be as simple as ''there wasn't enough evidence'' to support a winning court case.
Then, it will be up to DOJ leaders to make the politically turbo-charged decision of whether to make Mueller's report public.
Government officials will first get a chance to scrub the special counsel's findings for classified details, though, involving everything from foreign intelligence sources to information gleaned during grand jury testimony that the law forbids the government from disclosing.
They'll also have to weigh the input from a number of powerful outside forces.
The White House, for one, has indicated it might try to butt into the proceedings. Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said earlier this summer that the White House had reserved the right to block the release of information in Mueller's final report that might be covered through executive privilege. It's unclear how salient that legal argument may be, but the president's attorneys have been saying for months that a White House signoff will be needed because the Justice Department also falls inside the executive branch.
Congress is also primed to have a say. While Democratic leaders are hoping a return to power in the upcoming November midterms could grant them subpoena power to pry as much information as possible from the special counsel's office, Republicans might try to restrict the release of certain details that might embarrass the president.
As for the crafting of the report itself, Mueller has significant leeway. He can theoretically be as expansive as he wants. But sources who have worked closely with Mueller during his lengthy career at the Justice Department say his by-the-books, conservative style is likely to win out, suggesting he might lean more toward saying less than more.
''It's such a unique situation. He knows there are a lot of questions he needs to address for the sake of trying to satisfy a wide variety of interests and expectations,'' said Paul McNulty, a former deputy attorney general from the George W. Bush administration who worked closely with Mueller at the Justice Department.
Mueller's report will be landing in the shadow of former FBI Director James Comey's controversial decision to publicly explain his reasons for not prosecuting then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. The move was widely panned as a breach of DOJ protocol.
''That's not Bob Mueller's approach,'' McNulty explained. ''I'd be surprised if he did that in written form. I think he's about, 'Where are the facts before us?'''
The timing on the Mueller investigation final report '-- the special counsel's office declined comment for this report '-- remains unclear. While he's under no deadline to complete his work, several sources tracking the investigation say the special counsel and his team appear eager to wrap up. ''I'm sure he's determined to get back to the rest of his life,'' said Barrett, the Iran-Contra investigator who is now a law professor at St. John's University.
But several factors may still slow things down, including a potential protracted legal showdown over whether to force the president into a sit-down interview and what to do with leads that stem from the ongoing cooperation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Both men pleaded guilty this summer.
Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone has also said he's prepared for an indictment in the Mueller probe, which would kick-start an entirely new trial process.
''When your investigation is ongoing, it's hard to write a final report,'' said Michael Zeldin, a former Mueller aide who served as a deputy independent counsel in the investigation into George H.W. Bush administration officials fingered for accessing Clinton's passport files during the 1992 presidential campaign.
Indeed, history offers a mixed bag on what to expect from Mueller's end game. Several independent counsel investigations have concluded their work without any report at all, including the George W. Bush-era probe into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.
And the two biggest cases since Watergate have been broken up into bite-sized pieces, with interim reports dribbled out while the wider probes continued. The Iran-Contra investigation published intermittent findings on procedural issues, such as how Congress granting immunity for testimony would impair criminal prosecution. The entire probe, however, lasted more than seven years, with a final report issued in August 1993, long after Reagan was out of the White House.
Clinton's White House dealt with a series of independent counsel investigations, but none as troublesome as the one that started in January 1994 into the first family's decades-old Whitewater land deals in Arkansas. The probe took multiple twists and expanded to cover several other topics. In 1997, Starr issued a report, affirming Clinton White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster had committed suicide. A year later, he published a report detailing allegations of illegal behavior tied to Clinton's affair with Lewinsky, which prompted the House to open impeachment proceedings.
A final report on Whitewater didn't arrive until March 2002, more than eight years after the probe started and more than a year after the Democrat's second term ended.
All of that history isn't lost on Mueller.
''He knows how these Office of Special Counsel investigations can drag on,'' said McNulty, now president of Grove City College in western Pennsylvania. ''He's seen all that over the course of his career. I just know he's the kind of person who's decisive and if he thought that there was a way to not drag something out because it could be addressed appropriately, he'd have the determination to do that. He's also not going to cut some corner just to be done.''
Past investigators have also struggled with how to handle the public release of their independent counsel reports.
In 2000, a nearly two-year investigation into Clinton Labor Secretary Alexis Herman ended with a one-sentence statement clearing her of influence peddling charges. Independent counsel Ralph Lancaster's final report was placed under a federal court seal and he opted not to ask for permission to publicize it.
''I had decided not to exercise my prosecutorial discretion to indict her and I didn't see any sense in making it worse,'' Lancaster said in a 2005 interview with lawinterview.com. ''The press has never picked up on it. Nobody has asked to see it '... which is fine by me.''
Patrick Fitzgerald, the independent counsel in the Plame investigation, was under no obligation to write a report because of the specific guidelines behind his appointment. Testifying before Congress as his probe was ending, Fitzgerald defended the approach by noting that grand jury witnesses expect secrecy when they testify. He also noted that a 2007 public trial involving I. Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney convicted for perjury, had revealed much of the investigation's details.
''I think people learned a fair amount about what we did,'' Fitzgerald said. ''They didn't learn everything. But if you're talking about a public report, that was not provided for, and I actually believe and I've said it before, I think that's appropriate.''
Mary McCord, a Georgetown University law professor and former DOJ official who helped oversee the FBI's Russian meddling investigation before Mueller's appointment, cautioned against heightened expectations around the special counsel's final report.
''Don't overread any of these facts that are in the world to suggest a quick wrap-up and everyone is going to get a chance to read it the next day,'' she said. ''It will probably be detailed because this material is detailed, but I don't know that it will all be made public.''
Some of the central players in the Russia saga say they, too, have become resigned to not getting a complete set of answers out of Mueller's work. ''I assume there are going to be lots of details we'll never learn, and lots of things that will never come to light,'' said Robbie Mook, Clinton's 2016 campaign manager.
But Mook added that Mueller's efforts can be deemed a ''success'' if he answers just a few questions. For example, Mook wants to know whether and how the Russian government infiltrated the Trump campaign to influence the election outcome. He wants to know whether there was an effort in the White House or in the president's orbit to cover up what happened.
''This is about big problems, not about small details,'' he said. ''I think we all need to step back and look at this less as a dramatic bit of intrigue and more as a real fundamental question of our national security.''
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Paid protesters? They're real '-- and a Beverly Hills firm that hires them stands accused of extortion in a lawsuit - Los Angeles Times
Sun, 21 Oct 2018 22:56
Paid protesters are a real thing.
Crowds on Demand, a Beverly Hills firm that's an outspoken player in the business of hiring protesters, boasts on its website that it provides its clients with ''protests, rallies, flash-mobs, paparazzi events and other inventive PR stunts.'... We provide everything including the people, the materials and even the ideas.''
But according to a lawsuit filed by a Czech investor, Crowds on Demand also takes on more sordid assignments. Zdenek Bakala claims the firm has been used to run an extortion campaign against him.
Bakala has accused Prague investment manager Pavol Krupa of hiring Crowds on Demand to pay protesters to march near his home in Hilton Head, S.C., and to call and send emails to the Aspen Institute and Dartmouth College, where Bakala serves on advisory boards, urging them to cut ties to him. Bakala alleges that Krupa has threatened to continue and expand the campaign unless Bakala pays him $23 million.
Crowds on Demand founder Adam Swart, center, briefs a group of actors before a demonstration in Beverly Hills in 2013. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)
Crowds on Demand founder Adam Swart and Krupa neither confirmed nor denied that they are working together. They declined to answer specific questions about Bakala's allegations, though Swart, in an emailed statement, called the claims meritless.
''Not only will I vigorously defend myself against the allegations in the complaint but I am also evaluating whether to bring my own claims against Mr. Bakala,'' Swart said.
The lawsuit comes amid growing interest in the business of paid protesting and other forms of so-called ''astroturfing,'' the practice of manufacturing the appearance of grass-roots support.
President Trump, whose campaign reportedly hired actors to cheer at a 2015 rally, has repeatedly claimed that protesters '-- most recently those fighting the Senate confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh '-- are being paid by liberal billionaire George Soros and other monied interests.
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016 The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don't fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2018Interest in paid protesters peaked after the 2016 election, based on the popularity of the subject in Google searches. The number of searches for ''paid protesters'' surged again around the time of the January 2017 women's march, the August 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and early this month amid the debate over Kavanaugh.
(Los Angeles Times)
Crowds on Demand isn't the only outfit that hires paid protesters, though it is perhaps the most open about what it does, said Edward Walker, a UCLA sociology professor who wrote a book on astroturfing, ''Grassroots for Hire: Public Affairs Consultants in American Democracy.''
''There are hundreds of lobbying firms and public affairs firms that do this work, though not all in the same way,'' he said. ''Some only do a little bit of this grassroots-for-hire, but things adjacent to this are not uncommon today.''
For instance, the ABC News program ''Nightline'' reported in 2014 that a beverage-industry-backed group was hiring people to protest a soda tax measure and posted an ad on Craigslist offering to pay $13 an hour.
Longtime California political consultant Garry South, a former campaign strategist for Gov. Gray Davis, said it's long been common for campaigns and political parties to pay people a few bucks or perhaps provide a meal in exchange for attending a rally. He recalled a 2002 rally in San Francisco where he said that tactic was used.
''It turns out, the San Francisco Democratic Party, to bolster the crowd, had basically gone down to skid row and paid people $5 or something to tromp up to Union Square,'' South said.
But he sees a big difference between that kind of activity and the paid protests allegedly organized by Crowds on Demand.
''What's different is the commercialization of the process,'' he said. ''It just contributes to the air of unreality that exists in this day and age with essentially not being able to believe your own eyes or ears. I don't think it's particularly healthy. But it probably inevitably was going to come to this.''
Even if the tactic is increasingly common, Walker said Crowds on Demand seems to stand out for how open it is about its line of work.
On the company's website, it boasts that it staged a rally supporting an unnamed foreign leader visiting the United Nations. ''The concern was ensuring that the leader was well received by a U.S. audience and confident for his work at the U.N. We created demonstrations of support with diverse crowds.''
Another ''case study'' on Crowds on Demand's website says the company was hired to ''cripple the operations'' of a manufacturing business owned by a convicted child molester. In that case, Crowds on Demand says it was hired by a competing manufacturing business '-- one that ultimately bought the molester-owned rival ''for 5% of its previous value.''
''A lot of times, companies don't want to be known for using this kind of strategy,'' Walker said. ''Crowds on Demand, they're more out about it.'... It is strikingly brazen.''
Pavol Krupa in the Czech Republic in 2016. (Michal Dolezal / Associated Press)
In the Bakala case, Crowds on Demand is accused of spreading misinformation through a website, putting on protests and organizing a phone and email campaign targeting several U.S. institutions with ties to Bakala, who got an MBA from Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business and had an estimated net worth topping $1 billion earlier this decade, according to Forbes.
It's all part of a years-long dispute, one that's been the subject of inquiries by the Czech government and the European Commission, involving a formerly state-owned coal mining company called OKD that Bakala took over in 2004.
The website StopBakala.org, which Bakala alleges was set up by Krupa, Swart and Crowds on Demand, accuses Bakala of bribing officials to buy the government's stake in the mining company for a lowball price, breaking a promise to sell company-owned apartments to employees and then taking excessive profits out of the company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2016. A Krupa investment fund is a shareholder in the company.
Bakala, who holds dual U.S. and Czech citizenship, says in his lawsuit that all of those allegations are false and are part of Krupa's extortion campaign. He alleges that Krupa offered to cease his campaign if Bakala paid $23 million for OKD shares owned by Krupa's investment fund.
''Defendants are pursuing a campaign of harassment, defamation, and interference in the business affairs of Zdenek Bakala, which they have expressly vowed to expand unless he pays them millions of dollars,'' Bakala's attorneys wrote in the suit, which names Krupa, Crowds on Demand and Swart as defendants.
In a statement, Krupa Global Investments spokeswoman Barbora Hankov called Bakala ''an untrustworthy person'' and implied the U.S. protests against Bakala have been ''inconvenient for him'' and have ruined ''his attempts to whitewash his reputation.''
So far, it's not clear the alleged campaign has had much effect. Elliot Gerson, an executive vice president at the Aspen Institute, said in an emailed statement that the institute has received calls and emails from ''individuals associated with Crowds on Demand'' and that the nonprofit's general counsel has spoken with Swart ''about this campaign of harassment.''
''From the beginning, we assumed that these manufactured communications were linked to political issues in the Czech Republic and Mr. Bakala's high profile in that country,'' Gerson said. ''Nothing we received has altered our views about Mr. Bakala.''
Peter Baldwin, a former federal prosecutor who's now a partner at the law firm Drinker Biddle, said the case raises interesting questions about the business of paid protesting, in particular what due diligence a company like Crowds on Demand must do to make sure it is not defaming its targets.
In other campaigns, Crowds on Demand appears to have been hired to advocate for or against policy matters '-- a practice that many might find distasteful but that probably isn't legally actionable. In this case, though, the company is accused of making false accusations against an individual, leading to the lawsuit's allegation of defamation.
''If you're presented with information that your message may be false or defamatory, do you have an obligation to not be the messenger?'' Baldwin said. ''That's a key question for someone in this business. At what point do you have an obligation to verify the truth or veracity of the claims?''
Swart declined to comment about what type of due diligence his company performs before getting involved in a campaign.
Zdenek Bakala in 2011. (Tim de Waele / Corbis)
Bakala's lawsuit, filed in federal court in South Carolina, also alleges violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a law originally intended to target organized crime syndicates. Bakala alleges Krupa, Swart and Crowds on Demand have violated that law by participating in an extortion scheme against him.
Baldwin, the former federal prosecutor, said RICO cases '-- which allow plaintiffs to recover three times their actual damages '-- are complicated and often hard to prove. He also said RICO cases can be damaging to defendants, essentially labeling them as organized criminals.
''If you're a defendant facing racketeering charges, there is a reputational element,'' Baldwin said. ''That's pretty serious. When people think of racketeering, they think of the mob.''
Baldwin, who reviewed Bakala's complaint, said he couldn't speculate on the case's chance of proceeding but said Bakala's lawyers ''have pled their case carefully.''
''I've seen less compelling RICO complaints,'' he said.
Trump Administration Quietly Admits There Is No Evidence To Back Claim That Obama Wiretapped Trump
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 04:50
The Department of Justice released a court filing confirming that Trump's claim had no evidence behind it.
The Trump administration has quietly backed away from Donald Trump's accusation that Barack Obama wiretapped him, admitting in a court filing that there is no evidence to support that claim.
Trump drew considerable criticism for claiming that Obama had wiretapped him prior to the 2016 election. The president appeared to be responding to a report that former campaign official Carter Page was under a FISA warrant, but there was no evidence that Obama had ordered surveillance on Trump, and Trump never offered any.
''Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory,'' Trump wrote in a tweet in March, 2017. ''Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!''
Now, a new court filing released late Friday night from the Department of Justice admitted that it found no evidence to back Trump's claim. As the legal blog Law and Crime noted, the admission came in response to a request from a journalist about what evidence there might be to back Donald Trump's accusation against Barack Obama.
''First, the Department of Justice acknowledged, based upon the Congressional testimony of then-FBI Director James B. Comey, that it has no records of alleged wiretapping of then-candidate Trump in Trump Tower by the Obama administration prior to the 2016 presidential election, as referenced in President Trump's Twitter post on March 4, 2017.''
The Department of Justice had already announced there was no evidence that Obama wiretapped Trump during the campaign, and this week's development was released without much fanfare. It did generate some headlines as apparent confirmation that Trump's claim was baseless.
DOJ confirms (again) that it has "no records" to support President Trump's claims that the Obama administration wiretapped him before the 2016 election. pic.twitter.com/tTrtP0P9ic
'-- Brad Heath (@bradheath) October 19, 2018
Since Donald Trump's initial claim, it was revealed that the FBI did wiretap former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. As CNN reported, the surveillance began after Manafort left Trump's campaign in August, 2016.
''By then the FBI had noticed what counterintelligence agents thought was a series of odd connections between Trump associates and Russia,'' the report noted. ''The CIA also had developed information, including from human intelligence sources, that they believed showed Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered his intelligence services to conduct a broad operation to meddle with the U.S. election, according to current and former U.S. officials.''
Many claimed that this report vindicated Donald Trump for his claim that he was wiretapped, including many conservatives who backed Trump's initial claim. But the surveillance on Manafort was not in Trump Tower, as Trump had claimed, and was approved through a system of judges that prevent political interference and was not ordered by Obama, The Atlantic reported.
Congo!
TankerTrackers.com🛠on Twitter: "So, here's a first! 850,000 barrels of crude oil arrived in Ashkelon, #Israel this morning from Djeno, #Congo. We have never seen Congo as a source of oil for Israel before, but we have seen a couple of shipments come i
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 15:06
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Future Perfect podcast: lithium in the water to prevent suicide - Vox
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 11:43
Lithium is a potent psychiatric drug, one of the primary prescribed medications for bipolar disorder. But it's also an element that occurs naturally all over the Earth's crust '-- including in bodies of water. That means that small quantities of lithium wind up in the tap water you consume every day. Just how much is in the water varies quite a bit from place to place.
Naturally, that made researchers curious: Are places with more lithium in the water healthier, mentally? Do places with more lithium have less depression or bipolar or '-- most importantly of all '-- fewer suicides?
A 2014 review of studies concluded that the answer was yes: Four of five studies reviewed found that places with higher levels of trace lithium had lower suicide rates. And Nassir Ghaemi, the Tufts psychiatry professor who co-authored that review, argues that the effects are large. High-lithium areas, he says, have suicide rates 50 to 60 percent lower than those of low-lithium areas.
''In general, in the United States, lithium levels are much higher in the Northeast and East Coast and very low in the Mountain West,'' he told me on a new episode of the Vox podcast Future Perfect. ''And suicide rates track that exactly '-- much lower suicide rates in the Northeast, and the highest rates of suicide are in the Mountain West.''
If you apply that 50 to 60 percent reduction to the US, where about 45,000 people total died by suicide in 2016, you get a total number of lives saved at around 22,500 to 27,000 a year. That's likely too high, since you can't reduce suicide rates in places that are already high-lithium. Ghaemi's own back-of-the-envelope calculation is that we'd save 15,000 to 25,000.
Ghaemi and a number of other eminent psychiatrists are making a pretty remarkable claim. They think we could save tens of thousands of lives a year with a very simple, low-cost intervention: putting small amounts of lithium, amounts likely too small to have significant side effects, into our drinking water, the way we put fluoride in to protect our teeth.
The case for skepticism on lithiumThe size of the numbers Ghaemi is claiming should make you skeptical: Those are huge, arguably implausibly huge, effects. In 2015, the Open Philanthropy Project, a large-scale grantmaking group in San Francisco, shared an analysis with me implying that if two specific studies were right, a ''small increase in the amount of trace lithium in drinking water in the U.S. could prevent > 4,000 suicides per year.'' That's significant, but far short of 15,000 to 25,000.
And while Ghaemi is very enthusiastic about the potential of groundwater lithium, other researchers are more wary. A comprehensive list of lithium studies, updated just last month, shows that while many studies find positive effects, plenty more found no impact on suicide or other important outcomes. In particular, a large-scale Danish study released in 2017 found ''no significant indication of an association between increasing '... lithium exposure level and decreasing suicide rate.''
The Open Philanthropy Project, which had previously been quite interested in new research on lithium, states on its website that the study ''makes us substantially less optimistic'' that trace lithium really helps guard against suicides.
Just this year, a study using health care claims data in the US found that greater amounts of trace lithium in the water didn't predict lower diagnoses of bipolar disorder or dementia. That's a different outcome than suicides, but also suggests that low doses of lithium might not have a profound effect.
Why this hasn't been triedThese recent studies have made me less confident in the link between lithium and lower suicide rates than I was when I first encountered Ghaemi's research. But it's such a cheap intervention, and the odds of serious side effects sound low enough, that it seems worth a try.
At the very least, I'd love for some governments to conduct real, bona fide experiments on lithium. Maybe a state could randomly add lithium to some of its reservoirs but not others, or, conversely, a high-lithium state could try removing it from the water. There are serious ethical questions about doing experiments like this that affect whole populations, but if lithium's effect is real and we don't pursue it because we lack compelling enough evidence, thereby endangering thousands of people '-- that's an ethical problem too.
But no study like that has been conducted. And if you want to know why, you should consider the case of fluoride.
As you probably know, putting fluoride in our drinking water dramatically reduced tooth decay, by around 25 percent per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But as you likely also know, the initial rollout of fluoride in the 1940s and 1950s was intensely controversial.
Jesse Hicks, a science journalist who wrote a great history of the fluoride wars, told me on this week's Future Perfect podcast that the backlash started in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, with a local gadfly named Alexander Y. Wallace who was convinced the substance was poison, and who wrote a parody song called ''Goodnight, Flourine'' to the tune of the folk song ''Goodnight, Irene.''
From there, the conspiratorial, far-right John Birch Society became convinced that fluoride was a Communist plot; the Ku Klux Klan came out against fluoride too. ''I think part of the longevity of this controversy has to do with the way it can activate so many different biases and prejudices,'' Hicks told me. ''As soon as you start talking about putting something in the water supply you have small or anti-government people responding very vigorously against that.''
The absurd controversy continues to this day. Dr. Mehmet Oz, the wildly popular, wildly irresponsible TV doctor, has brought on a fluoride conspiracist '-- Erin Brockovich of Julia Roberts movie fame '-- to sow fear and disinformation.
If that's the reaction to an effort to improve dental health, just imagine the public outcry against a major push for adding lithium to the water. The rap against fluoride, mocked in movies like Dr. Strangelove, is that it's a mind-control plot. But putting lithium in the water would actually be a mind-control plot: It would be a concerted effort by the government to put mind-altering chemicals in the water supply to change the behavior of the citizenry. And I say that as someone who thinks that, if it works, that it would be a great idea! Preventing suicide is really important, but it does require changing how people think, a tiny bit.
So figuring out if, and how well, trace lithium in the water works is only half the battle. Advocates would then have to win over a very, very skeptical public.
Hicks thinks we need a rock-solid, impenetrable scientific case if we're going to do it. The science so far is promising, but not firm enough. ''When you start making it a public health policy, you activate all of these other considerations that make it that much harder to make it happen,'' he says.
For more, listen to the full episode above, and be sure to tune in again next Wednesday for more Future Perfect!
Read moreAnna Fels's op-ed ''Should We All Take a Bit of Lithium?'' in the New York TimesNassir Ghaemi and colleagues review the evidence on trace lithium and suicide, homicide, crime, and dementiaThe recent Danish study casting doubt on the trace lithium/suicide prevention link Jesse Hicks explains the fluoride controversy for the Science History Institute Jesse Hicks explains trace lithium, for ViceMore of Vox's effective altruism coverageSign up for the Future Perfect newsletter. Twice a week, you'll get a roundup of ideas and solutions for tackling our biggest challenges: improving public health, decreasing human and animal suffering, easing catastrophic risks, and '-- to put it simply '-- getting better at doing good.
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What Does Drinking Milk Have to Do with White Supremacy? | | PETA
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 12:28

As when Christoph Waltz's character in Inglorious Bastards drinks a glass of milk and a character in a pivotal scene of Get Out sips the cow secretion, dairy milk has long been embraced as a symbol of white supremacy.
Aside from ''lactose-tolerant'' white supremacists, cow's milk really is the perfect drink of choice for all (even unwitting) supremacists, since the dairy industry inflicts extreme violence on other living beings. PETA is trying to wake people up to the implications of choosing this white beverage and suggesting that they choose something else pronto.
Control Over Their BodiesRape is perhaps the single most heinous crime involving both power and violence. But it's standard procedure in the dairy industry. Like all mammals, cows produce milk only during and after pregnancy, so roughly every nine months, cows on dairy farms are forcibly impregnated so that their milk production will continue. They're restrained on what the farmers themselves call ''rape racks'' while insemination instruments are shoved into their vaginas.
Their babies are taken away immediately after birth, and the mothers are re-impregnated as soon as possible. Male calves typically end up chained inside crates so that their flesh becomes diseased for the veal industry, while female calves will eventually end up trapped in the same cycle of abuse as their mothers were.
These cows have no choice about what's done to them. Their horns are burned or gouged out of their heads, part of their tails may be cut off, and holes are punched through their ears. Suffering inside cramped, filthy enclosures, they're forced to produce nearly 10 times as much milk as they would naturally.
Every cow abused by the farming industry has a unique personality. Think about WHO is making your milk. https://t.co/6d7QnPCjaM pic.twitter.com/WtxUnQUOUc
'-- PETA (@peta) February 26, 2017
Some people might be surprised to learn that cows used by the dairy industry are slaughtered after about five years because their bodies are so spent from being kept constantly pregnant. At the slaughterhouse, their throats are slit while they're still conscious and some are skinned or dismembered while still alive.
Control Over Your MindIt's not ''natural'' for people to drink cow's milk, which is meant for newborn calves. Humans are the only animals who drink the milk of another species and who drink milk beyond infancy.
The dairy industry spends millions funding misleading ad campaigns that urge people to drink cow's milk, when medical studies show that dairy products are a health hazard. Unlike soy or almond milk, for instance, cow's milk contains no fiber or complex carbohydrates and is full of saturated animal fat and cholesterol. Consuming dairy products is also linked to developing heart disease as well as prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer.
Might Doesn't Make RightBefore you pour a glass of the ''white stuff,'' please remember that it isn't the ''right stuff.''
If you feel that all life should be free of violent control, choose soy, almond, rice, cashew, or coconut milk the next time that you go shopping or order coffee. With so many different types of cruelty-free, delicious milks on the market, opposing supremacists has never been easier.
Megyn Kelly Expected to End NBC Morning Show
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 03:42
Megyn Kelly is expected to wind down her 9 a.m.
Today show hour by the end of the season, a source close to the situation tells
The Hollywood Reporter. Sources tell THR that Kelly has met with network executives in recent weeks to discuss the future of the show and expressed a desire to cover more news and politics. It's unclear what NBC News would put in place of Kelly's show. But the discussions are at least an acknowledgement that the experiment is not working and that Kelly would prefer to be covering more as she did with the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Kelly met with NBC News chairman Andy Lack well before the controversy over her blackface comments erupted.
Kelly has grappled with hard news topics '-- including the #MeToo allegations against a series of powerful men. But her show is in a typically soft daypart. And she has often seemed to chafe at the lighter requirements of the job. And her clumsy comments about blackface on Tuesday's Megyn Kelly Today '-- for which she apologized '-- have only exacerbated the situation.
At a town hall with NBC News employees on Wednesday, Lack expressed dismay at Kelly's remarks in which she brushed off the inherent racism of black face during an on-air discussion about Halloween costumes. The backlash was immediate. And the controversy was covered in a segment on the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and also Wednesday morning on the flagship edition of Today.
"There is no other way to put this but I condemn those remarks, there is no place on our air or in this workplace for them. Very unfortunate," Lack said at the town hall. "I think that Nightly covered the story well last night and appropriately so. I think this morning on the Today show, the team did an excellent job covering it properly. I thought Craig [Melvin] and Al [Roker] brought a thoughtfulness and a context to it that was sorely missing and they really did this company and our audience a real public service. And that is the Today show and Nightly at their very best."
Lack added, "As we go forward, my highest priority remains, and as we sort through this with Megyn, let there be no doubt that this is a workplace in which you need to be proud and in which we respect each other in all the ways we know is foundational to who we are."
Kelly has been under tremendous scrutiny since jumping from Fox News to NBC in early 2017 for a salary reportedly worth close to $20 million annually. Her exit came in the wake of widespread harassment allegations that forced founded Fox News chief Roger Ailes to resign, At Fox News, Kelly had built a reputation as a prosecutorial interviewer who sparred with then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, earning her admiration and plaudits. But observers also questioned how she would adjust to the fluffier confines of morning TV.
NWO
Richard Grenell - Wikipedia
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:59
Early life and education Edit Grenell graduated with a bachelor's degree in Government and Public Administration from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. He received a master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government [6]
Career Edit Prior to his post at the UN, Grenell was a political adviser to a number of prominent Republicans, including George Pataki and Dave Camp.[7]
US United Nations mission (2001''2008) Edit Grenell voting at a UN Security Council meeting in 2005
In 2001, Grenell was appointed by President George W. Bush as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Serving in that role until 2008, Grenell became the longest serving U.S. spokesman at the United Nations, advising four different U.S. Ambassadors. During his tenure, Grenell led communication strategies on such issues as the War on Terror, global peacekeeping operations, Iran and North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, and the UN Oil for Food corruption scandal.[6]
Ambassador to Germany (2018''present) Edit In September 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Grenell to become the United States Ambassador to Germany. After a significant delay, the Senate confirmed Grenell 56-42 on April 26, 2018.[8] He was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on May 7, 2018, making Grenell the highest-ranking openly gay official ever in a Republican administration.[9][10] Grenell was also under consideration for the posts of U.S. Ambassador to NATO and United States Ambassador to the United Nations.[11][12]
In June 2018, Grenell stirred controversy by telling right-wing news outlet Breitbart News, "I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders."[13] It was viewed as anti-establishment.[14][15] This was described as a breach of diplomatic protocol, as ambassadors are expected to be politically neutral in the domestic politics of the countries where they serve.[13] Prominent German politicians called for Grenell's dismissal.[16][17][18][19]Martin Schulz, former leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, said, "What this man is doing is unheard of in international diplomacy. If a German ambassador were to say in Washington that he is there to boost the Democrats, he would have been kicked out immediately."[16]
Other Edit In 2009, Grenell founded Capitol Media Partners, an international strategic media and public affairs consultancy with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C.[6] He is under contract with Fox News where he is a "Contributor" commenting on foreign affairs and the media.[20][21] He has written for The Wall Street Journal,[22][23]CBS News,[24][25]CNN,[26]Politico,[27]Huffington Post,[28]The Washington Times,[29]Newsmax,[30] and Al Jazeera.[31] In 2012, CNN ranked Grenell's social media outreach as one of the top 5,[32] and Time magazine named Grenell as one of the Top 10 Political Twitter Feeds of 2014.[33] In 2013, Grenell was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.[34]
Personal life Edit Grenell is a registered Republican.[35]
In June 2013, Grenell revealed that he had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and started chemotherapy.[36] In September 2013, Grenell announced that he was in remission.[37]
Grenell has a longtime partner, Matt Lashey.[38]
References Edit ^ "Mitt Romney's Appointment of Gay Aide Richard Grenell Signals New Attitude". ABC News. April 6, 2012. ^ "Mitt Romney's Gay Spokesman: A Milestone in Republican Politics". The Atlantic. April 24, 2012. ^ Trump considering Richard Grenell for U.N. ambassador ^ Giaritelli, Anna. "Trump picks 42 key administration nominees, including heads of NASA and Office of National Drug Control Policy". Washington Examiner . Retrieved September 2, 2017 . ^ Demirjian, Karoun (April 26, 2018). "Senate confirms Grenell as ambassador to Germany over Democrats' objections". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286 . Retrieved April 27, 2018 . ^ a b c "About". richardgrenell.com. ^ "Richard Grenell, Openly Gay Romney Spokesman, Resigns From Post". ABC News. May 1, 2012. ^ Blumberg, Antonia (April 26, 2018). "Senate Confirms Richard Grenell, Trump Nominee For Ambassador To Germany" . Retrieved June 6, 2018 '' via Huff Post. ^ http://www.washingtontimes.com, The Washington Times. "Richard Grenell, gay ambassador, sworn in by Mike Pence" . Retrieved June 6, 2018 . ^ "Openly gay U.S. ambassador to Germany makes Republican history". NBC News. June 6, 2018. ^ "Trump to Pick Former UN Spokesman Grenell for NATO Post, White House Says". March 8, 2017 . Retrieved June 6, 2018 '' via www.bloomberg.com. ^ "The president-elect was considering tapping Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations." '' Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2016 ^ a b Oltermann, Philip (June 4, 2018). "New US ambassador to Germany under fire for rightwing support". the Guardian . Retrieved June 4, 2018 . ^ Robbie Gramer (6 June 2018). "State Department Defends Trump's Man in Berlin After Diplomatic Firestorm". ForeignPolicy.com . Retrieved 15 June 2018 . ^ Luis Sanchez (3 June 2018). "Trump's ambassador to Germany says he wants to 'empower' European conservatives". TheHill.com . Retrieved 15 June 2018 . ^ a b "German Politicians Call for Expulsion of Trump's Envoy". The Daily Beast. June 5, 2018 . Retrieved June 6, 2018 . ^ "Deutschland: EU-Parlamentarier Brok kritisiert US-Botschafter-Interview auf "Breitbart " ". ZEIT ONLINE (in German) . Retrieved 2018-06-10 . ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "US ambassador Richard Grenell should 'reconsider role' after Europe comments: German lawmaker | DW | 06.06.2018". DW.COM . Retrieved 2018-06-10 . ^ "German lawmaker says U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell should reconsider role after 'empowerment' comments". USA TODAY . Retrieved 2018-06-10 . ^ "Richard Grenell". Fox News . Retrieved June 5, 2018 . ^ "Richard Grenell Re-Signs with Fox News Through Election 2016". Mediaite. October 15, 2014. ^ Grenell, Richard (May 22, 2012). "Marriage, Gay Republicans and the Election". The Wall Street Journal. ^ Grenell, Richard (November 21, 2011). "Obama's Failing Iran Diplomacy". The Wall Street Journal. ^ Grenell, Richard (January 30, 2010). "Holden Caulfield and Me". CBS News. ^ Grenell, Richard (April 18, 2010). "Why Yahoo Ought to Follow Google's Lead on China". CBS News. ^ Grenell, Richard (December 1, 2009). "GOP rescuing Obama's Afghan policy". CNN. ^ "Arena Profile: Richard A. Grenell". Politico. ^ Grenell, Richard. "Richard Grenell". The Huffington Post. ^ Grenell, Richard (March 19, 2015). "Nigeria on the brink". The Washington Times. ^ Grenell, Richard (November 19, 2012). "Obama Praises Burma, Ignores Strife in Iran, Syria". Newsmax. ^ Grenell, Richard (December 30, 2009). "A year of little change for Obama". Al Jazeera. ^ "CNN's Gut Check for August 31, 2012". CNN. August 31, 2012. ^ "The Best Twitter Feeds of 2014: Richard Grenell". Time. May 5, 2014. ^ "The Pro-Freedom Republicans Are Coming: 131 Sign Gay-Marriage Brief". The Daily Beast. February 28, 2013. ^ "Gay Bush Appointee Loses Appeal for Fair Treatment". The Advocate. September 27, 2008. ^ "Joining the Fight". richardgrenell.com. June 10, 2013. ^ Richard Grenell [@RichardGrenell] (September 30, 2013). "I'm officially in remission. #CancerFree @cityofhope" (Tweet) '' via Twitter. ^ Samuels, Brett (May 3, 2018). "Pence swears in Grenell as ambassador to Germany" . Retrieved June 6, 2018 . External links Edit
Ageism
His Body Was Behind the Wheel for a Week Before It Was Discovered. This Was His Life. - The New York Times
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 11:19
A neighbor walking his dog in the East Village saw the man one night, sitting motionless behind the wheel inside a parked car. Two days later, he was still there. The windows were up, the engine off '-- this during an August heat wave. The neighbor called 911.
Soon the block of East 12th Street was busy with police officers and their bosses, the car roped off with yellow tape. There were no signs of foul play. A team from the Office of Chief Medical Examiner arrived that afternoon, Aug. 31, and removed the body to determine the cause of death. People who lived and worked nearby kept their distance.
The police later released the man's name, Geoffrey Corbis, 61, of Bridgeport, Conn., and said he appeared to have died of natural causes about two days before he was found there.
None of those initial findings would prove true.
Not the cause of death. Not his name. And not the length of time the dead man's body spent in that car. It was far longer than two days. It is now believed the dead man was there for a full week '-- a week that his family spent in vain asking the police to look for him.
The chain of events serves as a stark reminder that even in 2018 Manhattan, a city that lives beneath the nonstop gaze of countless surveillance cameras, one that for years has urged its citizens, if they see something suspicious, to say something, it is still possible for a dead man in a parked car on a busy block to go unnoticed for days.
The events leading up to and following that August day also unspool a story about a distressed man's plan to raise some fast cash, thwarted by circumstance, and his grim resolve in his final hours to end his life, detailed in farewell text messages to his loved ones.
Image The police removed a body from a parked car in the East Village and estimated it had been there two days. It was actually much longer. Credit Bob Krasner 'He had it all'Geoffrey Corbis was an alias he created in desperation in recent years. Before then, he was Geoffrey Weglarz, born in 1957, one of seven children raised in Florida. He grew up to embrace acting as a passion, performing in local plays and musicals with an intense energy.
''He seemed hardly able to get the words out as fast as the synapses fired,'' said Sal Biagini, a friend and fellow actor in the busy dinner theater circuit of the late 1970s. ''He had impeccable timing.''
Mr. Weglarz had come of age during the Apollo missions to the moon, and he and Mr. Biagini would spend hours rehashing the details of each expedition. Mr. Weglarz channeled his leanings toward science and technology into a career in computer programming.
He moved to New York City and worked at the software company Hyperion, designing performance management tools. He led a team at Hyperion that worked with universities, signing and managing Yale, Harvard, Brown and dozens of other schools as clients. He traveled the world.
He married and had a son, settling down in a large, 19th century house in Fairfield, Conn. His friend, Mr. Biagini, himself having found success as a longtime body double for Robin Williams, visited and marveled at how far his fast-talking fellow space geek had come.
''It was Geoff having come to fruition as a responsible, high-earning family man,'' he said. ''He adored his son. He adored his wife. He had it all.''
Then he lost it all.
Hyperion was acquired by Oracle in 2007, and eventually, Mr. Weglarz was offered a new position in the company, one that he viewed as a lateral move at best, Mr. Biagini said. He left and went to Dell as a senior director of development.
He and his wife divorced. They shared custody of their son. The job at Dell required weekly trips to the company's headquarters in Texas, which proved a burden, and he left the job in 2011.
His search for the next job was exhausting and fruitless. In 2013, when the PBS program NewsHour visited Connecticut to do a story on older, unemployed Americans, the episode centered on an interview with Mr. Weglarz.
''I've applied for 481 jobs,'' he said on the show. ''None of them have panned out. They think that anybody over a certain age is going to be used up.''
He was nearing the bottom financially. ''I've gone through my savings. I've gone through my 401(k). My unemployment last check is next week. I have about $2,000 to my name, and after that, I don't know.''
His son was 14, and came home from school every day with friends in tow. Mr. Weglarz said it was nice to spend that time with him, but that he wished the friends' parents would chip in for the snacks they ate.
[Another signature read from the Times reporter Michael Wilson: A New Wife, a Secret Past and a Trail of Loss and Blood]
Image Sal Biagini met Geoffrey Weglarz when they were young actors performing in Florida dinner theater. He received dark texts from his friend in what turned out to be the final hour of Mr. Weglarz's life. Credit Lily Landes for The New York Times A new nameSomething else happened that year, a split-second outburst that would change his life. On March 26, 2013, Mr. Weglarz entered the drive-through lane at a McDonald's and picked up a sandwich. He drove away, but returned and complained that he had been given the wrong order. He threw the sandwich at a female worker in the drive-through window. Press accounts of the incident '-- there were many news outlets drawn to the quirky circumstances '-- reported that the worker was pregnant.
The police were called. He was charged with disorderly conduct, and though that charge was later dropped, the news stories would follow Mr. Weglarz. They appeared on top of any online search of his name '-- this as he was looking for work.
So he changed his name to Geoffrey Corbis.
He stuck with acting, mainly in Connecticut community theater, cast as recently as last year in a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning ''August: Osage County'' staged in a church. His brother, Larry Weglarz, and one of his sisters, Pamela Lindemann, were living in Florida, and he traveled there for a long visit. Then late last spring, a bit of good news: He was contacted by a group trying to start a nonprofit executive coaching business. Geoffrey Corbis would be named the chief technology officer; his biography page on the company site included his portrait, but in reality, there was no full-time job or salary yet.
He returned north, to Washington, D.C., for a small project for the consulting business in May, shooting a video that earned him $2,000, his sister said. His mood, in hindsight, was darkening, she said.
In July or August, Mr. Weglarz '-- still the name most everyone knew him by '-- told his sister that he had obtained a vial of poison used for euthanasia. He had gotten it on the dark web, she said he told her.
''That way, when I'm ready, I can go painlessly and fast,'' he told her, she said.
As shocking as that would seem for someone to hear, that kind of talk was not out of character for Mr. Weglarz, his sister said. He was prone to morbid talk.
''To me, it's like, 'Well, at least he didn't get a gun,''' Ms. Lindemann said. ''I didn't know really what to say to him. I was surprised.''
She remembered asking him, '''What are you going to do with this?'''
'''I'm just going to carry it around with me,''' he told her. ''He was very rational. Very resolved.''
Image Two of Geoffrey Weglarz's siblings, Pamela Lindemann and Larry Weglarz, called the Ninth Precinct repeatedly over the course of a week, asking in vain that officers look for their brother. Credit Eve Edelheit for The New York Times 'Finishing things up.'On Aug. 24, what is believed to be the last day of Mr. Weglarz's life, license plate readers recorded his vehicle entering Manhattan at 1:18 p.m., the police would later tell his brother, Larry Weglarz. He seemed to have traveled straight to B & H Photo Video, an electronics store in Midtown, where he sold a camera tripod to the store for $275. He had recently told his family he was broke. It was 2:04 p.m., store records showed.
He next arrived at a Wells Fargo Bank, where he attempted to cash the check. But it is standard procedure for banks to call B & H to confirm a check is legitimate before cashing one, and by that time on a Friday, the store had closed and no one answered the phone. Mr. Weglarz left the bank empty-handed. And distraught.
Later that afternoon, Mr. Weglarz's old friend, Mr. Biagini, texted him. No real reason; they hadn't spoken in months.
''Hey Geoffrey, checkin' in with you,'' Mr. Biagini wrote. ''How goes it?''
''Actually down in Lower Manhattan right now,'' Mr. Weglarz replied, and added: ''Finishing things up.''
''Sounds ominous,'' Mr. Biagini replied.
''I am honored to have been your friend,'' Mr. Weglarz wrote, ''Take care.''
At 5:42 p.m., Mr. Weglarz sent his sister a final text, one that immediately reminded her of his obtaining poison weeks earlier.
It read, ''Stuff does taste as bad as I thought it would.''
A long, hot weekWorried after the texts, Mr. Biagini called 911. The police tracked Mr. Weglarz's phone to the closest address, 520 E. 12th Street. Officers arrived at the building and went inside. They saw no sign of him and left. They did not realize he was parked in front of a playground next to the address, 15 car lengths from that building's entrance.
[Another signature read from the Times reporter Michael Wilson: She Found Comfort in a Brooklyn Diner, Then Lost Everything]
The next day, a Saturday, Mr. Biagini visited a police station house to report Mr. Weglarz's suicidal texts. The police asked if Mr. Weglarz was a city resident, and when he said ''no,'' the officers said ''We can't help you,'' he said.
In Florida, Ms. Lindemann and Larry Weglarz, a retired police officer himself, called the Ninth Precinct, which covers East 12th Street, asking for help. ''I begged and explained since he was likely dead at this point, we would be relieved if he was found before he started to decompose,'' Larry Weglarz said last week. ''I explained he was likely in his car, dying or dead.''
He, too, was told of the policy about city residents, he said.
A police spokesman said officers routinely assist outside law enforcement agencies that report a missing person in New York City, but those cases begin with someone filing a report with the police from where the person lived.
On Monday, three days after Mr. Weglarz sent his final texts, his siblings filed a missing-person report with the local sheriff in Tampa. That office attempted to fax a report to the police in New York, Larry Weglarz said. The New York police said the report needed to be resent by email, and more days passed.
Larry Weglarz told the police that his brother also went by the last name Corbis, and with that, officers discovered his license plate number. They found a license-plate reader that recorded the vehicle entering Manhattan that Friday afternoon, but nothing since. Officers also contacted hospitals without success.
The week dragged on in the grip of a heat wave, with neighbors oblivious to the body. One mother who lived on the block said later in an interview that her young son had complained of a smell that she herself didn't detect. He had thrown up on the sidewalk.
Raymond Russell, a realtor with an office across the street, said he parked his motorcycle in front of the vehicle that week and would have looked right past the dead man toward oncoming cars before crossing. He found it impossible to believe the body was there as long as it was.
''I don't give him a week here,'' he said. ''A couple days, maybe.''
Traffic officers who write parking tickets most likely passed by him at least twice, on days that his car was parked illegally. Officers looking for violators on street-cleaning days '-- on East 12th Street, those days were Tuesday and Friday '-- routinely ignore vehicles when the driver is sitting inside. Mr. Weglarz's vehicle received no tickets on the Tuesday or Friday when it was parked illegally, suggesting an officer might have seen him and assumed he was just another idle driver.
A couple people visiting the garden on the corner and its neighboring playground complained to a garden manager about what smelled like a dead rat. The manager actually found a dead rat and disposed of it, but the smell lingered on and off.
In the middle of the week, Anthony Greenheck, walking his dog late one night, noticed a silhouette of a man behind the wheel. He thought it was an Uber driver napping between calls. But when he saw the man had not moved two days later, he approached. The windows were tinted.
''I peeked a little closer and I decided to knock,'' Mr. Greenheck said. ''No movement.'' He called 911.
When firefighters and the police arrived and opened the vehicle's door, a powerful odor filled the block for hours. Officers raised a curtain around the vehicle, obscuring the body inside as it was removed. A freelance photographer who lives across the street, Bob Krasner, went to his window and took pictures of the scene. ''I must have walked by that car at least a half a dozen times while he was there,'' he said later in disbelief. ''I'm fairly observant.''
A final resting placeThe episode left Mr. Weglarz's family furious with the police. They don't believe the chances were high that their brother could have been rescued after ingesting the poison, but they said he should not have been left there for a week.
''It's supposed to be 'Protect and Serve,''' Ms. Lindemann said. ''Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I couldn't depend on a police department for help.''
The police spokesman, Assistant Commissioner J. Peter Donald, said officers did what they could with the information they had, including canvassing city hospitals. ''Unfortunately, those efforts did not locate Mr. Corbis,'' he said.
Mr. Weglarz was cremated in September. His sister plans to scatter his ashes in Manhattan, home to many successes in his acting years and where he began his computer career, long before the day he parked his car on the street and never left.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.
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Chiner$
Interpol ex-chief may be dead, wife fears, after capture by Chinese | Law | The Guardian
Sun, 21 Oct 2018 22:59
Grace Meng speaks out about 'cruel, dirty' Chinese authorities after disappearance of France-based Meng Hongwei
Meng Hongwei speaks at the Interpol general assembly in 2016.Photograph: Du Yu/APThe wife of Meng Hongwei, incumbent president of Interpol who has been detained in secret by China, says she is not sure her husband is alive after he disappeared mysteriously last month, to turn up under investigation in China.
In an emotional interview with the BBC, Grace Meng said she and her children have been waiting for news of Meng Hongwei, who has not been seen or heard from since 25 September when he flew from France to China. ''I tell them Daddy is on a long business trip '... We want to hear his voice,'' she said in an interview published on Friday.
In September she reported her husband missing after he sent her a cryptic message on WhatsApp saying: ''Wait for my call,'' followed by an emoji of a knife. After French police opened an investigation and Interpol appealed to Beijing for answers, Interpol received his resignation and Chinese authorities announced on 7 October that he was in their custody and under investigation for bribery.
Meng Hongwei was the first Chinese national to become president of the international law enforcement agency, and had been living in France with his wife and two children. He appears to be the latest victim of a years-long anti-corruption crackdown that most observers say is a thinly veiled political purge to root out rivals and officials disloyal to President Xi Jinping.
On 8 October China's ministry of public security released a lengthy statement accusing Meng Hongwei of bribery, while hailing Xi and the need for ''absolute loyal political character''.
''I think it is political persecution. I'm not sure he is alive,'' Grace told the BBC. ''They are cruel. They are dirty,'' she said, referring to the ruling Chinese Communist party.
Meng Hongwei is likely in a new form of custody called ''liuzhi'', overseen by the National Supervisory Commission (NSC), a super-agency created in March to investigate corruption throughout the government.
Liuzhi, or ''retention in custody'', is meant to be an improvement on the system it replaced, ''shuanggui,'' a disciplinary process run by the party that was known for its use of torture.
Under liuzhi detainees can still be denied access to legal counsel or families for as long as six months, and human rights advocates do not believe it will be much better. In May the driver of a low-ranking official in Fujian province died after almost a month under liuzhi. When relatives saw his body it was covered in bruises and his face was disfigured.
Grace Meng has previously said she received a threatening phone call from someone claiming to know where she and her children live. The family is now under French protection.
Her speaking out is unusual for family members of fallen Chinese officials who normally remain silent and out of public view. ''This thing shows '... it means they can do anything. I can't imagine. [There is] no limit. That is also for all of China now,'' she said. ''That's why I must stand up and I don't want any other wives and children like me.''
Mid-Terms
Trump's Pre-Election Tax-Cut Promise Leaves GOP Leaders Baffled - Bloomberg
Sun, 21 Oct 2018 23:04
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Can the Democrats win the House? Your guide to the midterm elections | US news | The Guardian
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 01:15
The votes on 6 November will give US voters their first chance to pass judgment on Donald Trump since he took the White House. Here's what you need to know about what's at stake
The key question in these elections is: will Republicans will be able to keep control of both chambers of Congress? Just 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate, and all of the 435 seats in the lower House of Representatives are up for grabs. To take control of the legislative agenda and block Trump's ability to implement his programs, the Democratic party needs to control both houses. With a Senate majority, the Democrats would be able to block cabinet and supreme court appointments. But while they may be able to take the House, clinching the Senate will be much harder. Impeachment, by the way, requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, so would require Republican votes even if the Democrats won every available seat in November.
Can the Republicans keep control of the Senate?
Here comes the math: the Grand Old Party (GOP) does have a big advantage over the Democrats in this showdown, because the Democratic party is defending 26 seats (including two independents, who usually vote with them) while the Republicans only have to defend nine.
California has approximately 68 times the population of Wyoming ...
The Senate electoral system is also weighed against the Democrats. Each state gets two senators, irrespective of population, so Wyoming has as many as California, despite the latter having more than 60 times the population. The smaller states also tend to be the more rural, and rural areas traditionally favor the Republicans. One hopeful note for the Democrats is that Nevada and Arizona are both open races '' in which the incumbent senator is not running '' and both were only narrowly won by the Republicans in 2012.
Current control of Senate seats up in 2018Democrat
Republican
Independent
Not electing this year
* Minnesota and Mississippi also hold special elections on 6 November. In these states, two seats are in playKey race '' Arizona The Senate seat held by Barry Goldwater and John McCain could be picked up by Democrats in 2018. After a tough primary, Republican Martha McSally has been pushed to the right and faces a tough race against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in a state with a growing Latino population and with deep tensions between traditional business oriented Republicans like McCain and hard right Trumpists.
Can the Democrats win control of the House?
218 needed for a majority
The Democrats have a much better chance of winning here. Representation in the House is (relatively) proportional to population, and the whole chamber is re-elected every two years. They need a net gain of 24 seats to win a majority. But in the last 50 years they've scored a net gain of that size only twice, in 1974 and in 2006. In the same period the Republicans have made a 24+ net gain only three times, but the most recent was in 2010, in the midterm elections of Barack Obama's first term.
American voters are usually reluctant to eject a sitting representative. So for Democrats, some of their best hopes are in seats where the incumbent is not standing again. The good news for Dems is that a record 39 Republicans '' many of whom were anti-Trump '' have chosen to bow out instead of contest their seats in November, and some of those are in key swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania.
All House seats up for election (435)Seats not contested by the incumbent (66)
Key race '' Pennsylvania's 17th district Democrat Conor Lamb won a shock special election win in March. Now, after court ordered redistricting, he'll face off against Republican incumbent Keith Rothfus in a far more friendly district. However, it's still a district Trump narrowly won. More key races
What about governors' races?
Each US state has a governor, who is like a local president. Their interactions with the federal government can be significant; they may have a large amount of sway, for instance, over local gun laws or the implementation of health insurance policies. But this year, Democrats think their salience is national because many of them have a veto over redistricting. Remapping of electoral districts happens in the US after every census. The next round will happen in 2022 when the 2020 census results are in. Governors elected this year who serve four-year terms will still be in office then. Democrats are hoping to win office in several swing states that have open races, such as Ohio, Nevada, Michigan and Florida, and thereby prevent gerrymandering that would affect congressional races as far away as to 2032.
States electing governors in 2018Democrat, open
Democrat, incumbent standing again
Republican, open
Republican, incumbent standing
Not electing this year
Key race '' Florida African American Democrat Andrew Gillum won an upset victory in the primary, bolstered by heavy financial support from Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge-fund manager. The unabashed progressive will face off against Republican Ron DeSantis, an ardent Trump supporter, in what will be one of the marquee races of the midterms.
US Senate, US House of Representatives, MIT, Brookings Institute, National Conference of State Legislatures, Federal Electoral Commission, National Governors Association
Georgia's voter suppression problem goes much deeper than Brian Kemp - The Washington Post
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 15:05
The Post's View Opinion Opinion Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events
Brian Kemp, the Georgia secretary of state and Republican candidate for governor, in July. (John Amis/AP)THE GEORGIA governor's race was already one of the hottest in the nation, and now a controversy has exploded around accusations of voter suppression. The Republican nominee, Brian Kemp, is Georgia's secretary of state, and is responsible for enforcing the state's restrictive voter laws. His opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, founded a voter-registration outfit concerned that Mr. Kemp's office is slating too many names for removal from the voter rolls. Ms.'‰Abrams has called Mr. Kemp ''a remarkable architect of voter suppression.''
Mr. Kemp's critics have many good points. Yet the real architects are the state legislators who passed the laws enabling unfair voter removal. Georgia's restrictive law needs to change.
The issue revolves around Georgia's ''exact match'' policy, which places on hold voter registrations that do not precisely mirror the information contained in the state's Department of Driver Services database or Social Security Administration information. Given the inevitability of clerical errors, this leads to placing registrations on hold, as some 53,000 currently are. The reasons can sometimes be outrageously minor, such as a dropped hyphen. An Associated Press analysis found that African Americans make up 70 percent of would-be Georgia voters whose registrations are on hold.
Mr. Kemp's office responds that the racial disparity is the result of Ms. Abrams's registration drive, which targets minority citizens and uses only error-prone paper forms. Also, anyone with an on-hold registration can bring to the polls the proper identification that Georgia requires all voters to present; the registration records can be reconciled with the information on the ID, and the voter can vote.
Still, if people fail to vote in one election cycle or to contact election officials, their on-hold registration will be canceled after 26 months. If their registrations are canceled close to election day, they may not be able to vote at all. That is unreasonable and unnecessary. The state should make every effort to reconcile the records it has on hand before even placing a voter's registration on hold, let alone canceling it. Other states have far less onerous procedures, and they have not experienced massive waves of voter fraud.
That fact is also good reason for the state to reconsider its voter ID requirements. Once again, Republicans are in the position of restricting the vote for spurious reasons. Why not try embracing democracy and persuading people to vote for you?
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#MeToo
Harvey Weinstein, Accusers, Insurers in Early Talks to Settle Civil Claims - WSJ
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:23
Lawyers for Harvey Weinstein and women who have accused him of sexual misconduct are working with insurance companies and the New York attorney general's office in an attempt to reach a sweeping settlement of all civil suits pending against the disgraced producer and his former film studio, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mediation sessions are scheduled for two days in early November, the people said, making it the largest effort to date to resolve more than a dozen sexual-misconduct legal actions faced by Mr. Weinstein around the globe. Also expected at the mediation are lawyers for Miramax and Weinstein Co. co-founder Bob Weinstein, who have been named as defendants in some lawsuits, the people said.
A major goal of the talks, which are still in early stages, is to create a victims fund.
At stake is if, and how much, some of the more than 80 women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault will be compensated. Whether Mr. Weinstein's alleged victims would be paid has been an open question since the business of Weinstein Co., the studio he co-founded with his brother, began to deteriorate last year. The studio filed for bankruptcy in March.
The negotiations include lawyers representing many parties with different interests and may not result in a settlement. The current gulf among the parties is huge, said the people familiar with the matter, with the alleged victims' lawyers asking for more than $100 million and the insurers offering to pay a fraction of that. Among the challenges is how to compensate women who accuse Mr. Weinstein of abuse but haven't filed legal claims, the people said.
Settling civil lawsuits would limit legal expenses that could eat into payments to Mr. Weinstein's alleged victims. The alleged victims' claims could also face legal obstacles, including statute of limitations issues, making settling early a pragmatic option for all involved.
Any possible settlement of civil suits wouldn't impact the criminal charges that Mr. Weinstein, who has pleaded not guilty, faces in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the office's civil-rights lawsuit, which was filed in February, remains active and the investigation is ongoing. ''As has been the case from the start, our priorities include ensuring that victims are sufficiently compensated, employees are protected moving forward and perpetrators and enablers of the misconduct are not unjustly enriched,'' the spokeswoman said.
Lawyers who filed two proposed class-action suits and who are also expected to attend the mediation session didn't respond to requests for comment. A judge dismissed the suits but the lawyers have said they plan to file revised versions.
A spokesman for lawyer Elior Shiloh, who represents Mr. Weinstein, said, ''We are actively defending ourselves against claims made against Mr. Weinstein.'' Mr. Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
Insurance companies including Chubb and Travelers Cos . have filed their own lawsuits against Mr. Weinstein, arguing their policies don't cover his legal expenses. A Chubb spokesman declined to comment. A Travelers spokesman said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Lawyers for Bob Weinstein and Weinstein Co. declined to comment. A lawyer for Miramax didn't respond to a request for comment.
The pending lawsuits and claims against Mr. Weinstein have been filed in jurisdictions including New York, California, Canada and the U.K. The plaintiffs include actress Kadian Noble, whose suit accuses Mr. Weinstein of sex trafficking; Sandeep Rehal, a personal assistant to Mr. Weinstein who claims her boss sexually harassed her; and producer Alexandra Canosa, who claims Mr. Weinstein sexually harassed and assaulted her for years.
Some of the claims haven't been previously reported, including allegations that Mr. Weinstein sexually assaulted an aspiring film producer in 2006 and two other women in 2017. Lawyers for these women outlined their clients' allegations in confidential letters sent to the company, legal filings show.
The attorney general's lawsuit against Weinstein Co. accuses its executives and board of failing to protect employees from a hostile work environment and Mr. Weinstein's demands for sexual conduct in exchange for career advancement.
Write to Corinne Ramey at Corinne.Ramey@wsj.com and Jonathan Randles at Jonathan.Randles@wsj.com
NYPD boss accused of stuffing her panties in co-worker's mouth
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:56
October 22, 2018 | 11:16am | Updated October 22, 2018 | 12:45pm
New York police Sgt. Ann Marie Guerra FacebookA ball-busting female boss at a Brooklyn precinct is under investigation for allegedly stuffing a pair of her panties into a male colleague's mouth, police sources told The Post on Monday.
Sgt. Ann Marie Guerra, the second-in-command at the 72nd Precinct Detectives Squad, flipped out on Detective Victor Falcon when he complained about her leaving her underwear all over the unisex locker room, sources said.
''They are f''king clean!'' the 38-year-old married mom of two allegedly roared Oct. 7 '-- as she shoved a pair of her panties into Falcon's mouth, a source said.
A complaint was filed against Guerra with the NYPD's Equal Employment Opportunity Office three days later.
''She had an EEO put on her by the precinct detective-unit lieutenant for literally putting her panties in a fellow male detective's open mouth,'' a source said.
Other detectives in the stationhouse have ''objected to her leaving her panties on the unisex shower knob and outside her locker for all to see. The lockers are unisex, too,'' the source added.
Guerra has groused about her male colleagues' manhoods on Facebook, including on Sept. 11, a police source said.
''She has been on social media spouting man-hating rhetoric about fellow sergeants having 'little d''ks,' '' the source said.
Her raunchy comment was made on a Facebook post of a New York Post story from earlier this month, about an NYPD officer suing the city for shaming her about pumping breast milk on the job.
Guerra didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.
Falcon could not be reached.
War on Plastic
Your Poop Is Probably Full of Plastic | WIRED
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:30
Every minute, a dumptruckful of plastic plops into the world's oceans. That's eight billion metric tons every year. Once waterborne, whatever doesn't wash ashore eventually breaks down into itty bits. The puniest pieces'--the ones smaller than 5 millimeters wide'--are called microplastics, and their fates are numerous. Some glob onto an Alaska-sized gyre of plastic debris swirling in the Pacific Ocean. Others sink to a variety of depths, according to their densities, perfusing the world's waters. Still others get ingested by marine life, including fish and shellfish, which are in turn ingested by other animals, like birds and humans.
All of this is a mess, from an ecological perspective. But it's that last bit'--the microplasticine infiltration of food webs'--that worries not just ecologists but gastroenterologists. If microplastics are invading the things we eat, it's possible that they're invading our stomachs and intestines, too. But while the matryoskha-nature of food chains certainly suggests that human guts harbor microplastics, nobody's really bothered to look in a systematic way.
Until now! Today at the United European Gastroenterology meeting in Vienna, researchers announced they have detected microplastics in stool samples from every single one of a small group of international test subjects. "Plastics are pervasive in everyday life and humans are exposed to plastics in numerous ways," said Philipp Schwable, a gastroenterologist at the Medical University of Vienna, who led the study, via email. And yet, even he did not expect that every poo would test positive.
The pilot study tested eight subjects from eight different countries: Austria, Italy, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and the UK. Each maintained a food diary the week before donating their stools, which they deposited in glass jars, wrapped in biohazard bags, and shipped in cardboard boxes marked "Biological Substance, Category B" to the Environment Agency Austria for analysis. It's the first study of its kind'--"maybe because it is not the most pleasant material to work with," Schwable says, but also because it required close collaboration between doctors and analytical chemists, the latter of whom identified the plastics with a method called Fourier-transform infrared micro-spectroscopy.
Every participant's poop tested positive for plastics, from polyethylene (commonly found in plastic bags) to polypropylene (bottle caps) to polyvinyl chloride (the "PVC" in PVC pipe). In fact, of the ten types of plastic that the researchers screened for, nine were detected. On average, the researchers turned up 20 particles of microplastic per quarter pound of poop.
Their findings raise many questions, chief among them being: How did the plastic get in the poop, and is it harmful?
The small number of study participants and the sheer number of ways a person could ingest microplastics make the first question tough to answer. "Everywhere we look for microplastics we find them," says Stephanie Wright, who studies the potential impacts of microplastics on human health at King's College London and was unaffiliated with the study. The test subjects' food logs showed that all of the participants'--none of whom are vegetarians and six of whom consumed fish the week before collecting their samples'--also consumed plastic-wrapped foods and drank from plastic bottles. Whether the plastic in their stools came from the seafood, the packaging, or something else entirely (microplastics have been found in everything from beer to table salt) remains unclear. "Now that we know there is microplastic present in stool, and we know how to detect it, we aim to perform a larger study including more participants," Schwable says.
Wright says future studies would also benefit from a closer look. The microscopy method Schwable and his colleagues used is common in microplastic analysis, but can't detect particles smaller than 20 microns'--about the size of a human skin cell. Wright says a different method, called Raman spectroscopy, could resolve microplastics as small as one micron wide.
It's also tough to say how harmful the microplastics are to humans, because no studies on microplastic toxicity in humans have been performed. Animal studies have shown that microparticles can infiltrate an affected critter's bloodstream, lymphatic system, and perhaps their liver, all while collecting in their guts with potentially harmful consequences for their organs, intestines, and hormone regulation.
What the study does suggest is that microplastics, which have already infiltrated the world's oceans and many of its organisms, appear to have infiltrated our insides, as well.
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VIDEO - Russian kids cartoon from 70's
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:31
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VIDEO - Packages with pipe bombs sent to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, CNN's New York City office
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 18:46
Breaking News EmailsGet breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
Oct. 24, 2018 / 1:20 PM GMT / Updated 6:12 PM GMT
By Minyvonne Burke, Jonathan Dienst, Tom Winter and Corky Siemaszko
A series of pipe bombs were sent to several prominent Democrats and CNN's New York newsroom, triggering a nationwide investigation Wednesday and bipartisan condemnation.
The targets included former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and former CIA Director John Brennan, officials and investigators said.
One intercepted package was addressed to Hillary Clinton and discovered on Tuesday near the Clintons' home in Chappaqua, New York, a suburb of New York City. Another was addressed to Obama and intercepted Wednesday in Washington, they said.
The mail bombing targets:
Former President Barack ObamaFomer presidential candidate Hillary ClintonFormer Attorney General Eric HolderFormer CIA Director John BrennanRep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.Billionaire George SorosYet another was addressed to Brennan and discovered Wednesday at CNN's offices in Manhattan. The newsroom was immediately evacuated and the NYPD bomb squad was summoned and an envelope containing an unknown white powder was also found and is now being examined, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
"What we saw here today was an effort to terrorize," de Blasio said. "This was clearly an act of terror."
"So far the devices have been what appeared to be pipe bombs," chimed in Bryan Paarmann, special agent in charge of the FBI Counterterrorism Division and Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York City.
During the same press conference, Cuomo revealed that one of the packages was addressed to him and sent to his office.
"A device has been sent to my office in Manhattan which we were just informed about and that device is being handled," he said.
But shortly afterwards, the FBI said that Cuomo's office had not received an explosive device, and that the suspicious package he received was harmless and unrelated to the other bombs.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., also was the target of a suspicious package intercepted at a Maryland mail processing facility, according to three congressional leadership sources. The FBI is now investigating whether it is tied to the other packages.
Holder's package was mailed to the wrong address and wound up being sent back to the bogus return address that was on the other packages, that of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., according to law enforcement officials. It was intercepted by the Secret Service.
"The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such. Both packages were intercepted prior to being delivered to their intended location," the statement said.
One of the suspected explosive devices intercepted by law enforcement officials on Oct. 24, 2018. NBC News"The Secret Service has initiated a full scope criminal investigation that will leverage all available federal, state, and local resources to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible.''
There were also reports of another suspicious package being discovered outside the building that houses the office of Senator Kamala Harris, a California Democrat, as well as the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. It turned out to be a false alarm.
Speaking in Florida, Hillary Clinton thanked the Secret Service and said they "intercepted the package address to us long before it made its way to our home."
"But it is a troubling time," she said. "And it's a time of deep divisions and we have to do everything we can to bring out country together. We also have to elect candidates who will try to do the same."
The spate of suspicious package deliveries to prominent Democrats came in the wake of the discovery of an explosive device that was found Monday in the mailbox of George Soros' home in Bedford, New York.
The devices were in manila packages that included stamps and signatures on them with Wasserman Schultz's address on them, according to three senior law enforcement officials.
The envelope that contained a possible device sent to CNN. Former CIA Director John Brennan's name is misspelled. NBC NewsA senior White House official told NBC News that President Trump has been briefed and they are taking it "extremely seriously."
''We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures," added White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. "These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards.''
Vice President Mike Pence thanked the Secret Service, FBI and local law enforcement for their swift response, saying the "attempted attacks" against Clinton, Obama and CNN were "cowardly" and those responsible for the packages "will be brought to justice."
Trump quickly weighed in with agreement on Twitter.
Law enforcement officials said that device in Soros' mailbox "had the components" of a bomb and contained explosive powder. It was detonated as a precaution, and no one was injured. Soros, a business investor and Holocaust survivor, was reportedly not at home at the time, and declined to comment on the incident.
Police officers stand in front of the home of Hillary and Bill Clinton in Chappaqua, New York on Oct. 24, 2018, after an explosive device was found at the home. Seth Wenig / APNo arrests have been made.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Adiel Kaplan and Pete Williams contributed.
VIDEO - Keynote address from Tim Cook, CEO, Apple Inc - YouTube
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 14:21
VIDEO - TicToc by Bloomberg on Twitter: "Here's Theresa May's response when she was pressed on the issue of U.K. arms sales to Saudi Arabia #PMQs'... "
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 14:12
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VIDEO - 'Potential Explosive Devices' Sent to Hillary Clinton's Chappaqua Home, President Obama in Washington, D.C.: Secret Service - NBC New York
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 13:57
The incidents come days after a bomb was planted in the mailbox of George Soros' Bedford home, about 10 miles from Chappaqua By Jonathan DienstPublished 41 minutes ago | Updated 3 minutes ago NEWSLETTERS Receive the latest investigations updates in your inboxWhat to KnowSuspicious packages were sent to Hillary Clinton's Chappaqua home and former President Obama in DC, officials saidThe incidents come days after a bomb was planted in a mailbox at the Bedford home of billionaire philanthropist George SorosIt's not clear if the NY cases, both in Westchester County, could be related; Chappaqua and Bedford are about 10 miles apartU.S. Secret Service says agents intercepted two suspicious packages -- ones thought to be potential explosive devices -- that were sent to Hillary Clinton at her Chappaqua home and to former President Obama in Washington, D.C.
Secret Service says it recovered the Clinton package late Tuesday; the parcel addressed to Obama was intercepted early Wednesday.
The nature of the contents of the packages wasn't immediately clear, but two senior law enforcement officials had told News 4 the concern in the Clinton case was that it was similar to the bomb found in the mailbox of billionaire philanthropist George Soros' home in the same county days earlier.
"The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such," Secret Service said in a statement. "The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them."
Device in the Mailbox of George Soros Had BombSecret Service says it has initiated a "full scope criminal investigation that will leverage all available federal, state, and local resources to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible."
No one was hurt in the Soros case, which happened at his home in Bedford, about 10 miles apart from Chappaqua. It's not clear if the New York cases, both in Westchester County, are thought to be related.
In Soros' case, an employee noticed the package, put it in a wooded area and called police, who alerted the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives. A law enforcement source told NBC 4 New York that the device contained explosive powder; it was detonated as a precaution.
Investigators are reviewing surveillance video to determine whether the package was sent via mail or otherwise delivered.
The FBI is working with police to figure out who sent the device, which a senior law enforcement official said was similar to a pipe bomb. A law enforcement source says evidence was sent to the FBI lab in Quantico for testing.
Should the package at the Clintons' turn out to be a similar device, it would be the second such attack on liberal heavyweights in the county.
Explosive Device Found in NY Mailbox at Home of George SorosSoros, a billionaire who made his fortune in hedge funds, has donated heavily to liberal causes and is vilified on the right. He is also the subject of many unfounded conspiracy theories. Recently, conservative critics have, without evidence, accused him of secretly financing a caravan of Central American migrants to make their way north toward Mexico and the U.S.Others have falsely accused him of being a Nazi collaborator during World War II, when he was a child in Hungary.
Activists frequently post the addresses of homes he owns in Westchester County on social media sometimes accompanied by ill wishes.
Soros' foundation, The Open Society Foundation, released a statement Tuesday condemning "the politics of hate that dominates our discourse today."
"In this climate of fear, falsehoods, and rising authoritarianism, just voicing your views can draw death threats," the statement continued. "George Soros deplores violence of any kind, and urges politicians across the political spectrum to tone down their rhetoric. Words have consequences, and we bear a collective responsibility to create a more civil way to discuss our political differences. Respect for a diversity of opinions is fundamental to open society and that is the work that George Soros has devoted his life to. Our politics should be more about what we're for than who we hate."
VIDEO - Watch: Muslim refugee says she is ashamed to be called "Canadian" and live in Canada - Free Speech Front
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:40
During a pro-Hamas demonstration in Canada, a Canadian journalist interviewed several Muslim demonstrators. One of them was a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh. She was dressed in burqa and said she is ashamed to live in Canada and to be called a Canadian because Canada does not support the murder of Jews by Hamas. Please watch and share this video. They never protested against human rights violations in China or Russia.This video reveals the true faces of the pro-Palestinians who protest against Israel all over the West. They never protested against the persecution of Christians in Iran, Pakistan or Turkey or against women's rights violation in Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Kuwait.. These people do not care about human rights, they just hate Israel because it is a Jewish state. They protest Israel's right to exist. Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organisations, with an antisemitic ideology, an arsenal of missiles pointing at Israel, a history of terror attacks on Jewish targets in the West, and links to organised crime. Israel is the only democracy in the entire Middle East. The only place in the Middle East where Christians are safe and women are considered second-class citizens.
Every week, Hamas sends thousands of Muslims to invade Israel using them as human shields to carry out terror attacks against Israelis.
IDF soldiers don't just protect a border, but what lies behind it -- our families, our homes, and our children.
Israel warned Hamas and its supporters in Gaza: "Anyone who tries to invade Israel will be shot."
4000 Israeli families live within 2 miles of the border. Israel was forced to protect these families.
In May alone Hamas sent 50,000 Gazans to the border with Israel '' offering $100 to families who joined. With human shields for cover, Hamas terrorists used bombs, guns and Molotov cocktails to attack Israel's border - 60 Palestinian muslims were killed, 50 have been confirmed as active members of terrorist organizations.
A closer look at casualties betrays the violent nature of the allegedly peaceful protests. Terrorists were shot while trying to plant explosive devices at the border fence, while others were killed attempting to open fire on Israeli soldiers.
Israel is the only free and democratic state in the entire Middle East.
The only place in the Middle East where Christians are safe, and women are free.
Every year hundreds of thousands of people all over the world take to the streets for huge marches, demonstrations and protests against Israel's right to exist.
They took to the streets to spread hate against Israel.
Hamas is a muslim terror organization ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007, whose declared goal is the destruction of the State of Israel. Hamas is responsible for Gaza, but instead of providing welfare for its citizens, Hamas brainwashes the Gazans, uses them as pawns against Israel and exploits them as HUMAN SHIELDS, including children.
No country would tolerate this at their borders. The Gaza withdrawal gave the Palestinians a chance to show their true intentions. They have chosen nothing but war, terror and destruction. Their worst enemies are within, the Hamas leadership.
Israel, like any other country, has a right to defend itself.
Israel will not allow terrorists to invade its territory. Hamas, which rules Gaza, is an Islamic terrorist organization that threatens to kill Jews.
Hamas terrorists use civilians as human shields and send children to the front line during the riots along the Gaza border.
IDF soldiers don't just protect a border, but what lies behind it -- our families, our homes, and our children.
Israel Will Not apologize for defending itself against Hamas.
VIDEO - Anderson Cooper 360° on Twitter: ""I have not seen a single person from the Middle East," says Univision's @jorgeramosnews, adding that if President Trump is "suggesting that right here in this group there are terrorists, he's lying." https://t.c
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:39
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VIDEO - MSNBC's Wallace: Trump's Nationalism Is Not a Silent Dog Whistle --- It's Loud, Harkens to Nazism | Breitbart
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:17
Tuesday on MSNBC's ''Deadline,'' host Nicolle Wallace said President Donald Trump calling himself a nationalist was not a ''silent'' dog whistle because he was being loud about the controversial phrase.
Wallace said, ''The president doubled down on being a nationalist, a proud nationalist'--doubled down on being a proud supporter of people on both sides of the Charlottesville rally, the same way in Helsinki, he doubled down on believing his friend Vladimir Putin and denials of election meddling in 2016. Today he doubled down on being a nationalist.''
Wallace asked her guests, ''Do you think he knows some of the great nationalists of all-time included Hitler? Every dictator pleaded for their constituents, if you can call them that, their subjects in the case, of Idi Amin and others, to sort of harken to their nationalist impulses.''
She asked, ''Do you think he has any idea the history of World War II or Naziism that it came from a call for nationalism?''
She continued, ''I watch enough History Channel to know they cheered at Hitler, too. Nationalist isn't divorced in the capacity to cheer a crowd. It doesn't make it right, doesn't make it American and doesn't mean Donald Trump isn't totally ignorant of the history of the word, nationalism.''
When Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien said, ''He's doing racist dog whistles,'' Wallace said, ''Let me just defend dog whistles'--they are silent, these are loud.''
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
BREITBART CONNECT
VIDEO - Ami Horowitz: Do Voter ID Laws Suppress the Black Vote? - YouTube
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:10
VIDEO - FRANCE 24 Debate on Twitter: ""We need an #EU embargo; to cease the exporting of instability to #SaudiArabia" @MarietjeSchaake on #F24Debate #JamalKhashoggi'... https://t.co/2VW2Ntk0bO"
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 05:22
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VIDEO - BREAKING! Putin Teases Bolton: Has Your Eagle Already Eaten All The Olives Leaving Only The Arrows? - YouTube
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 04:24
VIDEO - Department of State on Twitter: ".@SecPompeo: The U.S. has a message for those in the caravan'--you will not be successful at getting into the United States illegally, no matter what.'... https://t.co/H4P3SIokLl"
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 01:30
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VIDEO - Sweden Not a Socialist Success - YouTube
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 16:11
VIDEO - Khashoggi's body parts found in garden of Saudi consul general's home '' sources '-- RT World News
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 14:04
Body parts belonging to murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi have been found, according to Sky News sources, who added that he had been ''cut up'' and his face ''disfigured.''
With no photographic evidence to support the Sky News sources' claim, gruesome and unverified images of body parts '' supposedly Khashoggi's '' have been making the rounds in Arabic media.
The sources' claim echoes a statement by Doğu Perin§ek, leader of the left-wing Vatan party on Monday night. Perin§ek told Turkish television that Khashoggi's ''body parts'' had been recovered from a well in the Saudi consul's garden, and added that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would explain the findings later on Tuesday.
The news comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Saudi officials reveal the whereabouts of Khashoggi's remains, after the Saudi government admitted Khashoggi had been murdered, albeit in a ''fist fight'' with officials inside the consulate in Istanbul.
Speaking before the Turkish parliament on Tuesday, Erdogan said that ''the evidence we have so far collected indicate that Jamal Khashoggi was slain in a vicious, violent murder," planned in advance by the Saudi government.
Turkish sources have mainteined from the start that Khashoggi was tortured, killed, and dismembered inside the consulate, and claim to have audio recordings of the journalist's final minutes alive. According to Erdogan, the individuals named by Saudi Arabia as suspects in the murder are also the same as those identified by a Turkish investigation.
Ankara is now particularly interested in a claim that a Turkish party was involved in the disposal of Khashoggi's body after the murder and wants to bring that person to justice. But it was up to the Saudis to identify this ''local co-conspirator,'' the Turkish leader argued.
A raft of recent revelations seem to lend support to the Turks' theory that Khashoggi's murder was a pre-planned hit. A Turkish source shared CCTV footage with CNN showing a body-double leaving the consulate building in Khashoggi's clothes, moments after the killing. Leaving through the back door, the doppelganger is seen wearing a fake beard and glasses to appear more like his alleged victim. Hours before the killing, the man is seen entering the building in his own clothes, without the beard and glasses.
Additional video footage obtained by Turkish broadcaster A Haber shows two men burning documents at the consulate on October 3, one day after Khashoggi entered the building for the last time. The footage has not been verified.
Further reports in Turkish media have claimed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman actually phoned Khashoggi and tried to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia. The journalist declined the prince's offer to fly to Riyadh, thinking he would be arrested and killed there, and was then murdered by the Saudi hit-team after the talk with MBS ended, the paper, pro-government Yeni Safak, wrote.
US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he is not yet ''satisfied'' with Riyadh's ''fist fight'' story, but said he will not halt lucrative arms deals with the Saudis. Trump said that the US would consider ''other things,'' possibly sanctions.
CIA Director Gina Haspel reportedly traveled to Istanbul on Monday night to assist the investigation, according to a Reuters source.
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VIDEO - Khashoggi - how to pronounce Khashoggi's name correctly. - YouTube
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 13:01
VIDEO - WATCH: Amnesty International Makes Creep-tastic Video Showing 'Sleeping Beauty' Being Sexually Assaulted | Daily Wire
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:39
Amnesty International is jumping on the anti-Disney bandwagon '-- like celebrities Kristen Bell and Keira Knightley '-- calling out "fairy tales" for anti-feminist scenarios, where damsels in distress under an evil spell need the help of dashing princes to regain consciousness.
But the nongovernmental organization went way beyond merely criticizing Disney's heroines. They created their own "fractured fairy tale" in which a prince sexually assaults a sleeping princess, first kissing her and then sliding his hand up her leg, molesting her as she sleeps '-- a sort-of parody of "Sleeping Beauty" or "Snow White" that comes off less instructive and more, well, creepy.
It's one cartoon fairy tale that is most certainly not appropriate for children. Or, maybe, anyone.
WATCH:
After sexually abusing the sleeping princess, "Prince Charming" is confronted by a handful of woodland creatures who explain to him that he has to get consent to kiss, touch, or fondle the princess, even though she's definitely out cold.
The prince is, of course, the archetypal misogynistic male '-- cut straight, perhaps, from leftist fantasies about now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh '-- who responds that he knows the princess wants "D from the P," because they engaged in some heavy petting at a party, so he feels entitled to assault her now. He's ultimately set straight by a talking owl.
The video ends with the words "no consent, no fairy tale," and "don't have sex without mutual consent."
It's not clear who the video is intended to inform other than, perhaps, a handful of Twitter users who found it funny. It's certainly not for kids, and it's a little strange to think that someone in a pitch meeting brought up the idea of a prince visibly molesting a princess as a way of conveying the idea of consent to the Disney princess set (and it's even creepier if you consider that both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are supposed to be in their early teens).
Amnesty justified the video by claiming that it was designed to pick up where Bell left off. Bell, who stars as the man-crazy Anna in "Frozen," quipped last week that she agreed with Keira Knightly, who wouldn't show her daughter Disney films because they had anti-feminist messages.
''Don't you think it's weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission?'' Bell said. ''Because you cannot kiss someone if they're sleeping.''
"So, Kristen Bell is right,'' Amnesty tweeted in response. ''We need to talk about consent '' and fairytales are an excellent place to start.''
The actual Amnesty International article where the video first appeared focuses on the European Union, where, the group claims, only 9 of 33 member states have laws explicitly calling sex without consent "rape." AI complains that, instead, most European countries define rape "on the basis of physical force or threat thereof, coercion or inability to defend oneself," rather than as any activity within the scope of the full sex act that is not completed by mutual consent.
Logistical nightmare aside, Amnesty seems to believe that the reason more countries aren't adopting consent-based rape laws is because of anti-feminist culture '-- a phenomenon Amnesty International appears all too ready to pin on things like Disney cartoons.
VIDEO - Kushner Reveals What He Told Saudi Crown Prince on Khashoggi
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:20
Kushner Reveals to CNN's Van Jones What He Told Saudi Crown Prince About Khashoggi KillingJared Kushner sat for an interview with Van Jones at CNN's CITIZEN political forum on Monday, and revealed how he advised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to handle of the investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Jones first asked Kushner '-- President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser '-- ''Do you trust the Saudis to investigate themselves?''
''We're getting facts in from multiple places,'' Kushner said. ''Once those facts come in, the Secretary of State will work with our national security team to help us determine what we want to believe, and what we think is credible, and what we think is not credible.''
''We have our eyes wide open,'' Kushner added.
Kushner's close relationship with M.B.S. has been well-documented, and the murder of Saudi dissident Khashoggi in Turkey has thrown a wrench in his efforts to build a relationship with the young prince. Jones asked Kushner what advice he's given M.B.S. with regards to the incident.
''Just to be transparent,'' Kushner replied. ''To be fully transparent. The world is watching. This is a very, very serious accusation.''
How did he respond to that?'' Jones asked.
''We'll see,'' Kushner said.
Jones: ''What kind of advice have you given (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) in this whole situation?''
Kushner: ''Just to be transparent. To be fully transparent. The world is watching'' #CITIZENCNN pic.twitter.com/wHJNQ8dez5
'-- CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 22, 2018
Watch above, via CNN.
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VIDEO - Whistleblower Dr. Judy Mikovits - 11 Minutes That BLEW ME AWAY - YouTube
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 10:58
VIDEO - Kyle Morris on Twitter: "Nancy Pelosi: ''[Democrats] are for better government by reducing the role of money in politics so it's the people's interest, not the special interest.'' In August, Tom Steyer and George Soros directed $650,000 to A
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:25
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VIDEO - Cenk Uygur and Tucker Carlson at Politicon 2018 - YouTube
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 15:47
VIDEO - WATCH: ABC Reporter Fawns Over Beto O'Rourke: 'You're A Rock Star' | Daily Wire
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 11:08
ABC News political reporter Paula Faris was supposed to interview Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke but ended up fawning over O'Rourke instead, calling Ted Cruz's challenger a "rock star."
The interview aired on Sunday's episode of "This Week," but was recorded a few days ago, while Beto was on the campaign trail.
WATCH:
Video: In recorded piece aired on Sunday's #ThisWeek, gushing ABC News reporter @PaulaFaris exclaimed of @BetoORourke as she walked with him through cheering supporters: ''You're a rock star! No, you really are!'' pic.twitter.com/0rqwRrtxhe
'-- Brent Baker (@BrentHBaker) October 21, 2018"You're a rock star. '... You really are," Faris cries as she and O'Rourke attempt to walk through a throng of supporters, adding that Beto couldn't "go ten feet" without having to stop for a handshake or a photo opportunity.
Faris then claims, in a voice-over, that "O'Rourke, a three-term congressman, has captured the nation's attention as well. Hauling in a record $38 million in donations last quarter."
O'Rourke has had a rough few weeks; the once-strong challenger, expected to challenge Cruz directly and come within striking distance on Election Day, slipped to 7 points behind Cruz after a disastrous debate appearance. He's raised $38 million, but he's spent a whopping 77% of his take, leaving little for a future campaign '-- and what he's raised, he's not sharing with fellow Democrats.
In his interview with Faris, though, O'Rourke was more focused on staying above the fray. When Faris asked O'Rourke about a recent interaction with President Donald Trump, where Trump called him a lightweight, Beto responded that he'd prefer not to name-call.
"I don't know that it makes any sense to respond. I think the kind of bitterness and name-calling and partisanship that has unfortunately defined so much of the national conversation, you can add more to it or you can stay focused on the future and why you did this in the first place. That's what we've chosen to do," O'Rourke said (though he did follow up on the interview by calling Cruz, "Lyin' Ted" in the debate).
VIDEO - Carl Bernstein: Trump preparing to call midterm elections 'illegitimate' if Democrats take power
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 04:18
| October 21, 2018 03:06 PM
J ournalist Carl Bernstein said Sunday that President Trump has discussed ways to challenge the results of the midterm elections if the GOP's grasp on power slips.
During an appearance on CNN, Bernstein said his sources relayed this information to him on Friday, warning that Trump has talked about a disruption campaign if the results are close but have the Democrats taking control of the House or Senate.
"I talked to people ... in touch with the White House on Friday who believe that, if the congressional midterms are very close and the Democrats were to win by five or seven seats, that Trump is already talking about how to throw legal challenges into the courts, sow confusion, declare a victory actually, and say that the election's been illegitimate," Bernstein said after being asked if Trump's challenge to fraudulent voters was a form of voter suppression.
"That is really under discussion in the White House," he added.
Bernstein said Trump's dishonesty is unprecedented, adding that the United States has never had a president that "uses lying and untruth as a basic method to promote his policies, his beliefs, and his way of approaching the American people and engaging with the world."
[READ MORE: Trump campaign holding 'Big Texas Tailgater', claims '100,000+' flocking to Houston rally]
According to the results of a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday, the Democrats hold a 9-point lead over Republicans in the the latest polling for the 2018 midterm elections, which are only a couple of weeks away.
Trump said last week that it won't be his fault if the Republicans lose control of the House.
VIDEO - Maxine Waters suffers brain glitch during attack on Trump - YouTube
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 03:59
VIDEO - ON CONTACT: Wikipedia '' A Tool Of The Ruling Elite - YouTube
Sun, 21 Oct 2018 22:54
VIDEO - MICHAEL AVENATTI #MAGATRIGGERED #REDWAVEMVP - YouTube
Sun, 21 Oct 2018 19:51
STORIES
Juul e-cigarette maker boosts lobbying spending as FDA cracks down
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:37
Scott Olson | Getty Images
Signs in the window of the Smoke Depot advertise electronic cigarettes and pods by Juul, the nation's largest maker of e-cigarette products, on September 13, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.
Leading e-cigarette manufacturer Juul spent half a million dollars on lobbying last quarter '-- up 167 percent from the previous quarter '-- as regulators weigh restrictions on the industry to stem a surge in teens using the devices.
In the third quarter, Juul spent $560,000, according to a lobbying disclosure form. That compares with the $210,000 it spent in the previous quarter, according to a filing. The company focused its efforts on e-cigarette and vaping regulation, as well as tariffs on products manufactured in China, it said in the disclosure.
However, the $560,000 is half of the amount the company initially reported spending Tuesday. The company filed an amendment correcting the figure, Juul spokeswoman Victoria Davis told CNBC.
Juul has beefed up its Washington operations amid growing scrutiny that could threaten its business. It has hired Tevi Troy, deputy Health and Human Services secretary in the George W. Bush administration; Jim Esquea, an assistant HHS secretary in the Obama administration; and Ted McCann, a senior policy advisor to House Speaker Paul Ryan, among others.
Lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have urged the Food and Drug Administration to ban sweet nicotine flavors they say entice young people to use e-cigarettes. In September, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced the agency would crack down against teen use that he said has reached "epidemic levels."
Preliminary federal data show high school students' use of e-cigarettes has surged 77 percent over the past year and use of conventional cigarettes has also ticked up, though the increase is not statistically significant. Those figures have Gottlieb and the FDA considering a slew of options, including restricting e-cigarette manufacturers from selling flavored nicotine liquids.
Any changes could weigh on Juul's revenue. The company represents 75 percent of the e-cigarette market, according to the most recent Nielsen data compiled by Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog. Its sales over the past year have reached $1.5 billion, according to Nielsen.
"We are focused on engaging with FDA, lawmakers, regulators, public health officials and advocates to drive awareness of our mission to improve the lives of the world's one billion smokers and to combat underage use so we keep JUUL out of the hands of young people," said Victoria Davis, a Juul spokeswoman, in an email to CNBC.
Note: This story has been updated to reflect an amendment Juul filed with regulators Tuesday correcting the amount it spent on lobbying in the third quarter. The correct amount is $560,000. This amendment was filed after CNBC reported on the company's initial filing.
Escalator runs out of control in Rome - BBC News
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:17
More than 20 people were hurt, some seriously, when an escalator ran out of control at a Rome metro station.
Footage shared on social media showed people being crushed at the bottom as stairs on the escalator crumpled.
Many of those injured were fans of the visiting Russian football team CSKA Moscow.
One of the fans had a foot partially severed in the crush. At least two others needed surgery for injuries to their legs.
Italian officials are investigating what happened.
This first part of this video has no sound,
Was MH370's flight data hacked to disguise its route? | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:07
Zaharie Ahmad Shah (pictured) was the pilot of the doomed flight
DID THE PILOT HIJACK HIS OWN PLANE?
Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah planned mass murder because of personal problems, locking his co-pilot out of the cockpit, closing down all communications, depressurising the main cabin and then disabling the aircraft so that it continued flying on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel.
That was the popular theory in the weeks after the plane's disappearance.
His personal problems, rumours in Kuala Lumpur said, included a split with his wife Fizah Khan, and his fury that a relative, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, had been given a five-year jail sentence for sodomy shortly before he boarded the plane for the flight to Beijing.
But the pilot's wife angrily denied any personal problems and other family members and his friends said he was a devoted family man and loved his job.
This theory was also the conclusion of the first independent study into the disaster by the New Zealand-based air accident investigator, Ewan Wilson.
Wilson, the founder of Kiwi Airlines and a commercial pilot himself, arrived at the shocking conclusion after considering 'every conceivable alternative scenario'.
However, he has not been able to provide any conclusive evidence to support his theory.
The claims are made in the book 'Goodnight Malaysian 370', which Wilson co-wrote with the New Zealand broadsheet journalist, Geoff Taylor.
It's also been rumoured that Zaharie used a flight simulator at his home to plot a path to a remote island.
However, officials in Kuala Lumpur declared that Malaysian police and the FBI's technical experts had found nothing to suggest he was planning to hijack the flight after closely examining his flight simulator.
And there are also theories that t he tragic disappearance may have been a heroic act of sacrifice by the pilot.
Australian aviation enthusiast Michael Gilbert believes the doomed plane caught fire mid-flight, forcing the pilot to plot a course away from heavily populated areas.
IF NOT THE PILOT, WAS THE CO-PILOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MYSTERY?
Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, again for personal problems, was suspected by rumour-spreaders to have overpowered the pilot and disabled the aircraft, flying it to its doom with crew and passengers unable to get through the locked cockpit door.
Theorists have put forward the suggestion that he was having relationship problems and this was his dramatic way of taking his own life.
But he was engaged to be married to Captain Nadira Ramli, 26, a fellow pilot from another airline, and loved his job. There are no known reasons for him to have taken any fatal action.
There have been a series of outlandish theories about the disappearance of the plane
Others have suggested that because he was known to have occasionally invited young women into the cockpit during a flight, he had done so this time and something had gone wrong.
Young Jonti Roos said in March that she spent an entire flight in 2011 in the cockpit being entertained by Hamid, who was smoking.
Interest in the co-pilot was renewed when it was revealed he was the last person to communicate from the cockpit after the communication system was cut off.
DID THE RUSSIANS STEAL MH370 AND FLY THE JET TO KAZAKHSTAN
An expert has claimed the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was hijacked on the orders of Vladimir Putin and secretly landed in Kazakhstan.
Jeff Wise, a U.S. science writer who spearheaded CNN's coverage of the Boeing 777-200E, has based his outlandish theory on pings that the plane gave off for seven hours after it went missing, that were recorded by British telecommunications company Inmarsat.
Wise believes that hijackers 'spoofed' the plane's navigation data to make it seem like it went in another direction, but flew it to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is leased from Kazakhstan by Russia.
However, Wise admits in New York Magazine that he does not know why Vladimir Putin would want to steal a plane full of people and that his idea is somewhat 'crazy'.
Wise also noted there were three Russian men onboard the flight, two of them Ukrainian passport holders.
Aviation disaster experts analysed satellite data and discovered - like the data recorded by Inmarsat - that the plane flew on for hours after losing contact.
Careful examination of the evidence has revealed that MH370 made three turns after the last radio call, first a turn to the left, then two more, taking the plane west, then south towards Antarctica.
MH370 WAS USED BY TERRORISTS FOR A SUICIDE ATTACK ON THE CHINESE NAVY
This extraordinary claim came from 41-year-old British yachtsman Katherine Tee, from Liverpool, whose initial account of seeing what she thought was a burning plane in the night sky made headlines around the world.
On arrival in Thailand's Phuket after sailing across the Indian Ocean from Cochin, southern India with her husband, she said: 'I could see the outline of the plane - it looked longer than planes usually do.There was what appeared to be black smoke streaming from behind.'
Ms Tee's general description of the time and place was vague and she lost all credibility when she later stated on her blog that she believed MH370 was a kamikaze plane that was aimed at a flotilla of Chinese ships and it was shot down before it could smash into the vessels.
Without solid proof of the satellite data, she wrote on her blog, Saucy Sailoress, the plane she saw was flying at low altitude towards the military convoy she and her husband had seen on recent nights. She added that internet research showed a Chinese flotilla was in the area at the time.
While the debris proved the plane went down in the Indian Ocean, the location of the main underwater wreckage '-- and its crucial black box data recorders '-- remains stubbornly elusive.
THE JET LANDED ON THE WATER AND WAS SEEN FLOATING ON THE ANDAMAN SEA
On a flight from Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur that crossed over the Andaman Sea on March 8, Malaysian woman Raja Dalelah, 53, saw what she believed was a plane sitting on the water's surface.
She didn't know about the search that had been started for MH370. She alerted a stewardess who told her to go back to sleep.
'I was shocked to see what looked like the tail and wing of an aircraft on the water,' she said.
It was only when she told her friends on landing in Kuala Lumpur what she had seen that she learned of the missing jet. She had seen the object at about 2.30pm Malaysian time.
She said she had been able to identify several ships and islands before noticing the silver object that she said was a plane.
But her story was laughed off by pilots who said it would have been impossible to have seen part of an aircraft in the water from 35,000ft or seven miles.
Ms Raja filed an official report with police the same day and has kept to her story.
'I know what I saw,' she said.
THE AIRCRAFT SUFFERED A CATASTROPHIC SYSTEMS FAILURE AND CRASH-LANDED ON THE OCEAN
A catastrophic event such as a fire disabling much of the equipment resulted in the pilots turning the plane back towards the Malaysian peninsula in the hope of landing at the nearest airport.
Satellite data, believable or not, suggests the aircraft did make a turn and theorists say there would be no reason for the pilots to change course unless confronted with an emergency.
A fire in a similar Boeing 777 jet parked at Cairo airport in 2011 was found to have been caused by a problem with the first officer's oxygen mask supply tubing.
Stewarts Law, which has litigated in a series of recent air disasters, believes the plane crashed after a fire - similar to the blaze on the Cairo airport runway - broke out in the cockpit.
After an investigation into the Cairo blaze, Egypt's Aircraft Accident Investigation Central Directorate (EAAICD) released their final report which revealed that the fire originated near the first officer's oxygen mask supply tubing.
The cause of the fire could not be conclusively determined, but investigators pinpointed a problem with the cockpit hose used to provide oxygen for the crew in the event of decompression.
Following the 2011 fire, US aircraft owners were instructed to replace the system - it was estimated to cost $2,596 (£1,573) per aircraft. It was not known whether Malaysia Airlines had carried out the change.
If either pilot wanted to crash the plane, why turn it around? So the turn-around suggests they were trying to land as soon as possible because of an emergency.
THE US SHOT DOWN THE AIRCRAFT FEARING A TERROR ATTACK ON DIEGO GARCIA
The Boeing 777 was shot down by the Americans who feared the aircraft had been hijacked and was about to be used to attack the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia atoll in the Indian Ocean. So conspiracy theorists claim.
And former French airline director Marc Dugain said he had been warned by British intelligence that he was taking risks by investigating this angle.
There is no way of checking whether Dugain received such a warning or why he believes the Americans shot down the plane.
But adding to the theory that the aircraft was flown to Diego Garcia, either by the pilot Zaharie or a hijacker, was the claim that on the pilot's home flight simulator was a 'practice' flight to the island.
Professor Glees said: 'The Americans would have no interest in doing anything of the kind and not telling the world.
'In theory, they might wish to shoot down a plane they thought was attacking them but they wouldn't just fire missiles, they'd investigate it first with fighters and would quickly realise that even if it had to be shot down, the world would need to know.'
Mr Rosenschein said: 'The U.S. would not have been able to hide this fact and in any event, if it were true, they would have admitted their action as it would have prevented a successful terrorist action on this occasion and acted as a deterrent for future terrorist attacks.'
When Trump Phones Friends, the Chinese and the Russians Listen and Learn - The New York Times
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 11:13
Image President Trump has two official iPhones that have limited abilities and a third that is no different from hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world. Credit Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- When President Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to gossip, gripe or solicit their latest take on how he is doing, American intelligence reports indicate that Chinese spies are often listening '-- and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy, current and former American officials said.
Mr. Trump's aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.
Mr. Trump's use of his iPhones was detailed by several current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could discuss classified intelligence and sensitive security arrangements. The officials said they were doing so not to undermine Mr. Trump, but out of frustration with what they considered the president's casual approach to electronic security.
American spy agencies, the officials said, had learned that China and Russia were eavesdropping on the president's cellphone calls from human sources inside foreign governments and intercepting communications between foreign officials.
The officials said they have also determined that China is seeking to use what it is learning from the calls '-- how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen '-- to keep a trade war with the United States from escalating further. In what amounts to a marriage of lobbying and espionage, the Chinese have pieced together a list of the people with whom Mr. Trump regularly speaks in hopes of using them to influence the president, the officials said.
Among those on the list are Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Blackstone Group chief executive who has endowed a master's program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Steve Wynn, the former Las Vegas casino magnate who used to own a lucrative property in Macau.
The Chinese have identified friends of both men and others among the president's regulars, and are now relying on Chinese businessmen and others with ties to Beijing to feed arguments to the friends of the Trump friends. The strategy is that those people will pass on what they are hearing, and that Beijing's views will eventually be delivered to the president by trusted voices, the officials said. They added that the Trump friends were most likely unaware of any Chinese effort.
Image Steve Wynn, who owned a resort in Macau, is among the friends of Mr. Trump the Chinese hope to use to influence the president. Credit Thomas Lee for The New York Times L. Lin Wood, a lawyer for Mr. Wynn, said his client was retired and had no comment. A spokeswoman for Blackstone, Christine Anderson, declined to comment on Chinese efforts to influence Mr. Schwarzman, but said that he ''has been happy to serve as an intermediary on certain critical matters between the two countries at the request of both heads of state.''
Russia is not believed to be running as sophisticated an influence effort as China because of Mr. Trump's apparent affinity for President Vladimir V. Putin, a former official said.
China's effort is a 21st-century version of what officials there have been doing for many decades, which is trying to influence American leaders by cultivating an informal network of prominent businesspeople and academics who can be sold on ideas and policy prescriptions and then carry them to the White House. The difference now is that China, through its eavesdropping on Mr. Trump's calls, has a far clearer idea of who carries the most influence with the president, and what arguments tend to work.
The Chinese and the Russians ''would look for any little thing '-- how easily was he talked out of something, what was the argument that was used,'' said John Sipher, a 28-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency who served in Moscow in the 1990s and later ran the agency's Russia program.
Trump friends like Mr. Schwarzman, who figured prominently in the first meeting between President Xi Jinping of China and Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago, the president's Florida resort, already hold pro-China and pro-trade views, and thus are ideal targets in the eyes of the Chinese, the officials said. Targeting the friends of Mr. Schwarzman and Mr. Wynn can reinforce the views of the two, the officials said. The friends are also most likely to be more accessible.
One official said the Chinese were pushing for the friends to persuade Mr. Trump to sit down with Mr. Xi as often as possible. The Chinese, the official said, correctly perceive that Mr. Trump places tremendous value on personal relationships, and that one-on-one meetings yield breakthroughs far more often than regular contacts between Chinese and American officials.
Whether the friends can stop Mr. Trump from pursuing a trade war with China is another question.
Officials said the president has two official iPhones that have been altered by the National Security Agency to limit their abilities '-- and vulnerabilities '-- and a third personal phone that is no different from hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world. Mr. Trump keeps the personal phone, White House officials said, because unlike his other two phones, he can store his contacts in it.
Apple declined to comment on the president's iPhones. None of them are completely secure and are vulnerable to hackers who could remotely break into the phones themselves.
Image Mr. Trump has been pressured into using the secure White House landline more often, but has still refused to give up his iPhones. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times But the calls made from the phones are intercepted as they travel through the cell towers, cables and switches that make up national and international cellphone networks. Calls made from any cellphone '-- iPhone, Android, an old-school Samsung flip phone '-- are vulnerable.
The issue of secure communications is fraught for Mr. Trump. As a presidential candidate, he regularly attacked his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 campaign for her use of an unsecured email server while she was secretary of state, and he basked in chants of ''lock her up'' at his rallies.
Intercepting calls is a relatively easy skill for governments. American intelligence agencies consider it an essential tool of spycraft, and they routinely try to tap the phones of important foreign leaders. In a diplomatic blowup during the Obama administration, documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, showed that the American government had tapped the phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
Foreign governments are well aware of the risk, and so leaders like Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin avoid using cellphones when possible.
President Barack Obama was careful with cellphones, too. He used an iPhone in his second term, but it could not make calls and could receive email only from a special address that was given to a select group of staff members and intimates. It had no camera or microphone, and it could not be used to download apps at will. Texting was forbidden because there was no way to collect and store the messages, as required by the Presidential Records Act.
''It is a great phone, state of the art, but it doesn't take pictures, you can't text. The phone doesn't work, you know, you can't play your music on it,'' Mr. Obama said on ''The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'' in June 2016. ''So basically, it's like '-- does your 3-year-old have one of those play phones?''
When Mr. Obama needed a cellphone, the officials said, he used one of those of his aides.
Mr. Trump has insisted on more capable devices. He did agree during the transition to give up his Android phone (the Google operating system is considered more vulnerable than Apple's). And since becoming president, Mr. Trump has agreed to a slightly cumbersome arrangement of having two official phones: one for Twitter and other apps, and one for calls.
Mr. Trump typically relies on his cellphones when he does not want a call going through the White House switchboard and logged for senior aides to see, his aides said. Many of those Mr. Trump speaks with most often on one of his cellphones, such as hosts at Fox News, share the president's political views, or simply enable his sense of grievance about any number of subjects.
Administration officials said Mr. Trump's longtime paranoia about surveillance '-- well before coming to the White House he believed that his phone conversations were often being recorded '-- gave them some comfort that he was not disclosing classified information on the calls. They said they had further confidence he was not spilling secrets because he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.
In an interview this week with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump quipped about his phones being insecure. When asked what American officials in Turkey had learned about the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, he replied, ''I actually said don't give it to me on the phone. I don't want it on the phone. As good as these phones are supposed to be.''
But Mr. Trump is also famously indiscreet. In a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office with Russian officials, he shared highly sensitive intelligence passed to the United States by Israel. He also told the Russians that James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, was ''a real nut job'' and that firing him had relieved ''great pressure.''
Still, Mr. Trump's lack of tech savvy has alleviated some other security concerns. He does not use email, so the risk of a phishing attack like those used by Russian intelligence to gain access to Democratic Party emails is close to nil. The same goes for texts, which are disabled on his official phones.
His Twitter phone can connect to the internet only over a Wi-Fi connection, and he rarely, if ever, has access to unsecured wireless networks, officials said. But the security of the device ultimately depends on the user, and protecting the president's phones has sometimes proved difficult.
Last year, Mr. Trump's cellphone was left behind in a golf cart at his club in Bedminster, N.J., causing a scramble to locate it, according to two people familiar with what took place.
Mr. Trump is supposed to swap out his two official phones every 30 days for new ones but rarely does, bristling at the inconvenience. White House staff members are supposed to set up the new phones exactly like the old ones, but the new iPhones cannot be restored from backups of his old phones because doing so would transfer over any malware.
New phone or old, though, the Chinese and the Russians are listening, and learning.
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Statement on the FBI's Investigation of Suspicious Packages '-- FBI
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 11:11
Between October 22 and 24, 2018, suspicious packages were received at multiple locations in the New York and Washington, D.C., areas and Florida. The packages are being sent for analysis at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.
''This investigation is of the highest priority for the FBI. We have committed the full strength of the FBI's resources and, together with our partners on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, we will continue to work to identify and arrest whoever is responsible for sending these packages,'' said FBI Director Christopher Wray. ''We ask anyone who may have information to contact the FBI. Do not hesitate to call; no piece of information is too small to help us in this investigation.''
The packages are similar in appearance, as depicted in the below photograph, and contain potentially destructive devices.
Exterior of one of the suspicious packages. Addresses have been removed to protect privacy.
The packages were mailed in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior. The packages were affixed with computer-printed address labels and six Forever stamps. All packages had a return address of ''DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ'' [sic] in Florida. Packages identified to date were addressed to:
George SorosFormer Secretary of State Hillary ClintonFormer President Barack ObamaFormer CIA Director John Brennan, care of CNNFormer Attorney General Eric HolderThe package addressed to former Attorney General Holder did not reach its intended destination, but was rerouted to the return address in Florida.
The FBI will continue to work with our federal law enforcement partners at the United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as our state and local law enforcement partners, to identify and arrest the person or people responsible for sending these packages.
It is possible that additional packages were mailed to other locations. The FBI advises the public to remain vigilant and not touch, move or handle any suspicious or unknown packages.
If you have information about these packages, please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov. If you observe any suspicious activity that requires an immediate response, please call 911 or contact your local law enforcement.
How the Migrant Caravan Became a Trump Election Strategy - The New York Times
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 11:10
Image Central American migrants walking on the outskirts of Huixtla, Mexico. ''I never expected this to get so big,'' an organizer said. Credit Credit Luis Antonio Rojas for The New York Times SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras '-- The flier began circulating on social media in Honduras this month, showing a lone migrant sketched against a bright red backdrop.
It was a call to join a caravan, the work of leftist activists and politicians who had helped lead migrants north in the past. But they also tossed a political spark into the mix, blaming their right-wing government for the exodus: ''The violence and poverty is expelling us.''
They never expected it to ignite an international firestorm.
Far from Honduras, the White House was busy grappling with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist whose death inside a Saudi consulate had tarnished Saudi Arabia, a vital ally of the Trump administration. And with the midterm elections in the United States only weeks away, President Trump was eager to change the script.
The caravan gave him a new, politically advantageous story to tell. Stoking American anxieties about immigration had worked well as a cornerstone of his 2016 campaign. The president's top aides, including Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, began briefing the president on the caravan's progress the week before last, senior White House officials said.
Within days, the president began using Twitter to attack the migrants, putting the blame on Democrats and threatening to cut funding to Central American governments: ''We are a great Sovereign Nation. We have Strong Borders and will never accept people coming into our Country illegally!''
What began as a domestic political dispute in Honduras '-- an effort to undermine newly re-elected President Juan Orlando Hernndez and to call attention to the plight of migrants '-- quickly became an international row, a source of embarrassment in Honduras, consternation across the region, and political opportunism in the United States.
Initially planned as a modest caravan of a few hundred people, it grew quickly to about 7,000 as desperation, local media coverage and a swirl of domestic and American politics combined to transform it into the largest movement of migrants north through Mexico in recent history. Even those who helped spur the mass movement never imagined it would expand so much, so fast.
Image This flier publicized the migrant caravan and was circulated widely on social media.''I never expected this to get so big,'' said Bartolo Fuentes, a migrant advocate and former lawmaker who helped promote the caravan, which started on Oct. 13. "Maybe it would come to a thousand people. But this big? No way.''
For leftist politicians like Mr. Fuentes and Luis Redondo, a congressman, the caravan offered a perfect way to encourage migrants to travel safely in a large group '-- and attack the government at the same time.
After Honduras's divisive presidential election in November, which the Organization of American States found so problematic that it called for a new vote, people took to the streets in deadly protests against what they saw as a fraudulent vote count.
Despite the controversy, the Trump administration gave its official support to Mr. Hernndez, a loyal ally who cooperated with Americans during his first term on issues like stopping the flow of drugs and migrants toward the border. With that, Mr. Hernndez took office, but he remained a polarizing figure accused of corruption and amassing too much power.
Determined to denounce Mr. Hernndez's administration and support the migrants, members of the opposition started promoting the caravan as an example of what happens when a government fails its people. In Tegucigalpa, the capital, a prominent member of the opposition went to the Mexican Embassy and threatened to send out multiple caravans as long as the situation in Honduras remained the same, according to two senior Mexican officials.
''This time it will be so big that when they see everyone walking, they should ask, 'Where are they coming from and who is responsible for so many people leaving Honduras?''' said Mr. Redondo in a Facebook post on Oct. 5 in which he shared the caravan poster. ''This is a consequence of corruption, lack of security, impunity; those responsible are the corrupt and corrupters of the national party.''
On that score, the government's opponents were successful. Mr. Trump demanded that Mr. Hernndez stop the caravan, though by then the migrants were already in Guatemala, and it was unclear what Mr. Hernndez could do. Still, Mr. Trump threatened to cut off aid to the country if the caravan was not turned around.
Image Migrants riding on a trailer on the outskirts of Huixtla. Credit Luis Antonio Rojas for The New York Times ''The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras,'' Mr. Trump wrote last Monday. ''No more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!''
It seemed to panic the Honduran government. In what appeared to be an attempt to deflect responsibility, the Honduran ambassador to the United States, Marlon Tbora Mu±oz, sent Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, a video in which young men handed out single bills of currency to migrants standing in line.
Mr. Mu±oz also said that George Soros, American nonprofit groups, or a drug cartel might be helping fund the caravan, said Mr. Gaetz, who posted the video to Twitter, adding: ''Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source!''
The claims were later debunked, and the video wasn't even shot in Honduras. It happened in Guatemala. Migrants in the caravan told The New York Times that people who wanted to help them handed out the equivalent of about 13 to 26 cents. The migrants, who have been surviving on handouts from strangers, said they were not paid to join the caravan.
The ambassador declined to comment. But he was hardly the only person in the Honduran government looking to cast blame for the exodus on foreigners. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said that Honduras's president had told him that Venezuela was providing funding to support the migrants, without offering evidence. Mr. Hernndez's office did not respond to requests for comment.
The political fallout from the caravan has been disastrous for Honduras. But Republicans welcomed the pivot of Americans' attention away from the Khashoggi killing to a topic that has long gained traction with Mr. Trump's political base.
Newt Gingrich, the former speaker and an occasional Trump adviser, was among the Republicans following news of the caravan, even as global coverage remained squarely focused on Mr. Khashoggi.
Image El Progreso, Honduras. Between 200 and 300 people on average leave Honduras every day. Credit Daniele Volpe for The New York Times Republicans hope that the increased coverage of the migrants will prompt certain voter groups, like white suburban women, to veer away from Democratic candidates, especially if Mr. Trump can stoke fears about gangs and drugs, Mr. Gingrich said.
''It creates a safety factor'' for those voters, he said. ''If the first 7,000 to 15,000 get in, what signal does that send?''
Mr. Gingrich added, ''Trump understands in the current American political structure you have to win polarized campaigns.''
Mr. Fuentes and others had aimed to embarrass their government by portraying the caravan as a powerful statement on the cost of failed domestic politics. But they accidentally overshot the mark, precipitating a regional crisis.
The coverage of the migrants and the political blowback '-- in Honduras and in the United States '-- has been intense. After following the migrants into Guatemala, Mr. Fuentes was detained and sent back to Honduras, where he has stayed away from the spotlight, afraid the government will retaliate against him.
Mr. Fuentes said he was opposed to this government and wanted Mr. Hernndez out of office. But he helped spread the word about the caravan because the road north is dangerous, he said.
''If you leave in a small group, you're heading for disaster,'' Mr. Fuentes said, adding that most of the migrants simply joined on their own.
Image Bartolo Fuentes, a migrant advocate and former lawmaker, helped promote the caravan. Credit Daniele Volpe for The New York Times Indeed, if he helped light the match, many others, including Mr. Trump and the pro-government news media in Honduras, fanned the flames.
The flier and private WhatsApp groups that sprang up across the country were most likely the initial sources of information for many who joined the caravan. But interviews with several dozen migrants on the trail credited a pro-government television station with sounding the media megaphone.
The day before the caravan started, a popular program on HCH News dedicated more than an hour to discussing the caravan. The coverage was geared in part toward embarrassing the organizers and spreading disinformation about how Mr. Fuentes was paying for the migrants' food and transportation (an allegation he later denied on the program).
But the effort backfired. Far from delegitimizing the caravan by convincing the public it had political roots, the hosts inadvertently presented many Hondurans who wanted to flee with the perfect opportunity to do so.
Between 200 and 300 people on average leave Honduras every day, risking the journey north in search of a future away from the poverty and violence that make daily life a struggle. Since the last caravan in the spring, a devastating drought has forced even more people to ponder the uncertainty of migrating.
Olvin Alexander Mart­nez, 21, who worked with his brother and father at a palm oil company in Trujillo, said this year's yield ''was not enough,'' costing family members their jobs and him a large part of his salary.
Mr. Mart­nez decided to join the caravan, which now includes Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Mexicans.
Franklin Barahona, 26, a Honduran migrant from La Ceiba, said he joined the caravan at the beginning, then spread the word over WhatsApp and Facebook.
Mr. Barahona and his travel companion, Flavio Williams, also 26, had seen news reports that suggested members of the caravan had been paid by Honduran politicians and that their march was motivated by politics.
''The truth is, it's false, it's totally false,'' Mr. Williams said of the accusations.
''Five thousand, 7,000 people aren't going to come risk their lives just because of politics, much less their children's, their wives' '-- they're not going to do it because of politics,'' he added.
Annie Correal contributed reporting from Huixtla, Mexico, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis from Washington.
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How Mail Bombs Get Intercepted'--And What Happens Next | WIRED
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 18:47
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
This week, apparent explosive devices have targeted the mailboxes of former President Barack Obama, former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, philanthropist George Soros, and cable news network CNN. Additional reports of suspicious packages have continued to emerge Wednesday, and the situation is still developing. What all of the attempts have in common'--aside from prominent liberals as intended recipients'--is that they so far have been intercepted before they could cause any damage.
In the Soros case, authorities reportedly believe that the bomb was hand-delivered, rather than going through a parcel service; a caretaker discovered it and contacted authorities, who detonated it safely. The other devices, though, appear to have been caught in advance of their final destination by standard screening processes.
''The US Secret Service has intercepted two suspicious packages addressed to Secret Service protectees,'' the agency said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to the packages addressed to Clinton and Obama. ''The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such. The protectees did not receive the packages, nor were they at risk of receiving them.''
A third suspicious package, meanwhile, was found in the mailroom of the Time Warner Center, where CNN is headquartered. In a press conference Wednesday, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said the package contained an explosive device, and that additionally there was an envelope with white powder, which is being investigated. Further reports have indicated that congresswoman Maxine Waters, among others, had also been sent suspicious packages. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated at a press conference that "a device" had been sent to his office as well, but the NYPD confirmed to WIRED that the package was "deemed to be non-suspicious."1
While the Secret Service and CNN have not commented further, the mail screening that sniffs out potential explosives'--not to mention biochemical threats'--follows fairly standard protocol.
"Depending on device construction, some people have a signature."
Michael O'Neil, MSA Security
First, there are some common warning signs, according to guidelines from the US Postal Inspection Service, which says it has investigated ''an average of 16 mail bombs over the last few years.'' Parcels that have excessive postage, for instance, suggest that the sender has sought to avoid direct contact with postal employees at a local branch. The USPIS suggests, too, that mail bombs tend to specify ''personal'' or ''private'' delivery, often in distorted handwriting or homemade labels, the latter an attempt to avoid creating evidence. They also may just look weird, with an unusual shape or even protruding wires or oil stains. NBC News posted an image of the purported package sent to CNN, which appears to check many of those boxes.
When contacted by WIRED, the USPIS declined to detail its investigative procedures and operational protocols, citing security concerns. But it does have a system in place. ''The Postal Inspection Service has organized response teams nationwide for investigating suspicious parcels through our Dangerous Mail Investigations Program,'' the agency said in a statement. ''DMI Inspectors are trained to recognize the common characteristics of suspicious mail and are highly proficient in the use of state-of-the-art equipment to include portable X-Ray machines.''
Even packages with no exterior giveaways can be fairly straightforward to sniff out, says Michael O'Neil, former commanding officer of the NYPD counterterrorism division'--especially for private screening services, like a company or the Secret Service.
''What's common in a lot of corporate structures, here in New York City especially, there's some type of mail service that does some type of screening. Primarily that's an x-ray machine; they'll put a package through before it gets up to its intended addressee,'' says O'Neil, who currently is the chairman of MSA Security, a private threat protection company whose offerings include explosive screening services. If an x-ray operator sees something suspicious, for instance, they can send the image to MSA Security, whose bomb technicians will help evaluate the threat.
That's the broad strokes; in practice, the rigor of the screening depends on a given company's perceived level of threat. Some companies may prefer for the screening process to happen at an off-site location, for instance, both to maximize security and also minimize the financial impact that comes with having to evacuate a building in the event that a suspicious package does surface. Some might choose to screen packages for specific recipients; others may look at every incoming parcel. O'Neil says that certain companies even add bomb dogs to that mix, specially trained canines who can sniff out the odors of common explosives components. Any mail that goes to the US Capitol Complex, or to people under Secret Service protection, automatically gets screened at an offsite location before being routed to its final destination.
In a press conference held by the New York City Mayor, New York Governor, and the NYPD Wednesday, officials said that so far the devices all appear to be pipe bombs.
''It's a commonly used explosive device. It's the simplest to prepare,'' says O'Neil. It's also relatively easy to catch. ''This would show up clearly. The organic compound of this, it just shoots out on an x-ray, trust me. X-ray machines now are pretty sophisticated. It's not a black and white image, like the old days. It's a color image. And that color is organic compounds that teach you different things as a screener. You'll also see the pipe, the metal. You'll see the switch, the wires. At that point they'll say they've got a suspicious device here.''
O'Neil notes that many of these packages are designed to go off when someone opens them, making a screening process all the more vital. Heading the packages off at the pass should also help with the investigation into who exactly delivered them, although there's not a precise roadmap. It starts, though, with careful analysis of the device.
"Even packages with no exterior giveaways can be fairly straightforward to sniff out."
"The incident here today [at Time Warner Center], once the package was discovered, emergency service was notified. They called the bomb squad. The bomb squad was able to safely remove a device contained in that package using the Total Containment Vessel, the TCV, or in simple terms 'the bomb truck,'" said John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, at Wednesday's press conference. ''FBI special agent bomb technicians will work with our people on how to get it to the next stop, which should be the FBI lab, so all of this evidence can be examined together.''
That initial investigation can yield any number of clues.
''You try to track the parcel, obviously, see if you can get any latent prints off the package itself. Depending on device construction, some people have a signature with that, they do it a certain way,'' says O'Neil. And from there, it comes down to good old-fashioned detective work.
Take the recent case of Mark Anthony Conditt, who allegedly terrorized the city of Austin, Texas with a series of mail bombs this spring before taking his own life with an explosive. While investigators said they had gleaned DNA and fingerprint evidence from the packages themselves, what ultimately tipped them off was a combination of cell-tower location data and surveillance video from a local FedEx store.
Plenty of important questions still remain around this round of mail bombs, primarily who sent them and why. But thanks in part to the packages being intercepted before reaching their targets, at least investigators will have plenty to go on.
1 UPDATE 10/24/18 2:41PM ET: This story has been updated to reflect that the package Governor Cuomo referred to was not in fact suspicious.
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What is the influential 1922 Committee Theresa May will face?
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 15:30
Theresa May has controversially been told to "bring her own noose" to a crunch appearance in front of Tory MPs on Wednesday evening.
The prime minister will appear before a 1922 Committee meeting in parliament, where she will hope to ease discord within the Conservative Party at her handling of Brexit negotiations.
Such gatherings are usually marked by cheers and table banging for a Tory leader.
But, amid suggestions Mrs May could yet face a confidence vote among her MPs, the prime minister may be forced to endure a more uncomfortable ride.
:: WHAT IS THE 1922 COMMITTEE?
The 1922 Committee comprises all backbench Conservative MPs.
It meets weekly when parliament is sitting, with the gatherings usually providing an indicator of backbench support for the leadership, direction of the party or major policies.
A Tory leader is invited to attend 1922 meetings on occasion, with Mrs May having notably secured her position as Tory leader at such a gathering in the wake of her disastrous 2017 general election result.
Mrs May used that meeting to tell MPs: "I got us into this mess, and I'm going to get us out."
Image: Sir Graham Brady is the chairman of the 1922 Committee:: WHAT POWER DOES THE 1922 COMMITTEE HAVE?
Often referred to as "the men in grey suits", the 1922 Committee is led by an 18-member executive committee with a chairman elected by committee members.
The current chairman is Sir Graham Brady, whose position gives him great influence in the party and the responsibility of overseeing Tory leadership elections.
The Altrincham and Sale West MP has held the role since May 2010.
If Tories want to force a vote of confidence in their party leader, they are required to submit a letter to the 1922 Committee chairman.
A total of 15% of Conservative MPs are required to write such letters to prompt a confidence vote, which currently means 48 dissatisfied MPs is the crucial number.
Sir Graham is responsible for keeping a tally of the number of letters submitted.
If a leader loses a subsequent no confidence vote, Sir Graham will then organise a series of secret ballots of MPs to whittle down possible leadership candidates to a final two.
These will then be put to the wider Conservative Party membership for a final choice.
:: WHY IS IT CALLED THE 1922 COMMITTEE?
On 19 October 1922, a meeting of rebel Conservative MPs at the Carlton Club ended the party's coalition with the Liberals and brought down the government of David Lloyd George.
The resulting general election was won by the Tories, with the backbench committee taking its name from the year of those events.
:: WHEN DID THE 1922 COMMITTEE LAST DEPOSE A TORY LEADER?
Iain Duncan Smith was removed as Tory leader in October 2003 when he lost a confidence vote initiated by Conservative MPs.
Rare highly contagious measles virus diagnosed in Sweden '' Is mostly seen in Asia and Africa
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 14:57
One person has been diagnosed with a contagious measles virus in the Swedish county of Sk¥ne, news outlet Fria Tider reports.
The case was discovered in Malm¶, a city in which the majority of people have a migration background. A person asked for care at a health centre in Malm¶ a few weeks ago as the first measles case was diagnosed.
After tracking the person's contact network, another case was found connected to a bathhouse in Trelleborg, that the patient visited. But according to news outlet Sydsvenskan, that was a false alarm.
''The measles virus is one of the most contagious we have. There is a potential for proliferation. Although the vast majority of infections occur mildly there is some risk of complications and lasting but in the worst case,'' health care physician Marianne Alanko Blom(C) says.
Measles are very rare in Sweden and occur mainly in developing countries in Africa and Asia. An adult person who is infected with the virus can die in the worst scenario.
CDC Admits 98 Million Americans Received Polio Vaccine In An 8-Year Span When It Was Contaminated With Cancer Virus
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 13:58
Dave Mihalovic, Prevent DiseaseWaking Times
The CDC has quickly removed a page from their website, which is now cached here, admitting that more than 98 million Americans received one or more doses of polio vaccine within an 8-year span when a proportion of the vaccine was contaminated with a cancer causing polyomavirus called SV40. It has been estimated that 10-30 million Americans could have received an SV40 contaminated dose of the vaccine.
SV40 is an abbreviation for Simian vacuolating virus 40 or Simian virus 40, a polyomavirus that is found in both monkeys and humans. Like other polyomaviruses, SV40 is a DNA virus that has been found to cause tumors and cancer.
SV40 is believed to suppress the transcriptional properties of the tumor-suppressing genes in humans through the SV40 Large T-antigen andSV40 Small T-antigen. Mutated genes may contribute to uncontrolled cellular proliferation, leading to cancer.
Michele Carbone, Assistant Professor of Pathology at Loyola University in Chicago, has recently isolated fragments of the SV-40 virus in human bone cancers and in a lethal form of lung cancer called mesothelioma. He found SV-40 in 33% of the osteosarcoma bone cancers studied, in 40% of other bone cancers, and in 60% of the mesotheliomas lung cancers, writes Geraldo Fuentes.
Dr. Michele Carbone openly acknowledged HIV/AIDS was spread by the hepatitis B vaccine produced by Merck & Co. during the early 1970s. It was the first time since the initial transmissions took place in 1972-74, that a leading expert in the field of vaccine manufacturing and testing has openly admitted the Merck & Co. liability for AIDS. The matter-of-fact disclosure came during discussions of polio vaccines contaminated with SV40 virus which caused cancer in nearly every species infected by injection. Many authorities now admit much, possibly most, of the world's cancers came from the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines, and hepatitis B vaccines, produced in monkeys and chimps.
It is said mesothelioma is a result of asbestos exposure, but research reveals that 50% of the current mesotheliomas being treated no longer occurs due to asbestos but rather the SV-40 virus contained in the polio vaccination. In addition, according to researchers from the Institute of Histology and General Embryology of the University of Ferrara, SV-40 has turned up in a variety other tumors. By the end of 1996, dozens of scientists reported finding SV40 in a variety of bone cancers and a wide range of brain cancers, which had risen 30 percent over the previous 20 years.
The SV-40 virus is now being detected in tumors removed from people never inoculated with the contaminated vaccine, leading some to conclude that those infected by the vaccine might be spreading SV40.
Soon after its discovery, SV40 was identified in the oral form of the polio vaccine produced between 1955 and 1961 produced by American Home Products (dba Lederle).
Both the oral, live virus and injectable inactive virus were affected. It was found later that the technique used to inactivate the polio virus in the injectable vaccine, by means of formaldehyde, did not reliably kill SV40.
Just two years ago, the U.S. government finally added formaldehyde to a list of known carcinogens and and admitted that the chemical styrene might cause cancer. Yet, the substance is still found in almost every vaccine.
According to the Australian National Research Council, fewer than 20% but perhaps more than 10% of the general population may be susceptible to formaldehyde and may react acutely at any exposure level. More hazardous than most chemicals in 5 out of 12 ranking systems, on at least 8 federal regulatory lists, it is ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds (worst 10%) to ecosystems and human health (Environmental Defense Fund).
In the body, formaldehyde can cause proteins to irreversibly bind to DNA. Laboratory animals exposed to doses of inhaled formaldehyde over their lifetimes have developed more cancers of the nose and throat than are usual.
Facts Listed on The CDC Website about SV40
SV40 is a virus found in some species of monkey.SV40 was discovered in 1960. Soon afterward, the virus was found inpolio vaccine.SV40 virus has been found in certain types of cancer in humans. Additional Facts
In the 1950s, rhesus monkey kidney cells, which contain SV40 if the animal is infected, were used in preparing polio vaccines.Not all doses of IPV were contaminated. It has been estimated that 10-30 million people actually received a vaccine that contained SV40.Some evidence suggests that receipt of SV40-contaminated poliovaccine may increase risk of cancer. A Greater Perspective on Aerial Spraying and SV40
The Defense Sciences Office of the Pathogen Countermeasures Program, in September 23, 1998 funded the University of Michigan's principal investigator, Dr. James Baker, Jr. Dr. Baker, Director of Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences under several DARPA grants. Dr. Baker developed and focused on preventing pathogens from entering the human body, which is a major goal in the development of counter measures to Biological Warfare. This research project sought to develop a composite material that will serve as a pathogen avoidance barrier and post-exposure therapeutic agent to be applied in a topical manner to the skin and mucous membranes. The composite is modeled after the immune system in that it involves redundant, non-specific and specific forms of pathogen defense and inactivation. This composite material is now utilized in many nasal vaccines and vector control through the use of hydro-gel, nanosilicon gels and actuator materials in vaccines.
Through Dr. Baker's research at the University of Michigan; he developed dendritic polymers and their application to medical and biological science. He co-developed a new vector system for gene transfer using synthetic polymers. These studies have produced striking results and have the potential to change the basis of gene transfer therapy. Dendrimers are nanometer-sized water soluble polymers that can conjugate to peptides or arbohydrates to act as decoy molecules to inhibit the binding of toxins and viruses to cells. They can act also as complex and stabilize genetic material for prolonged periods of time, as in a ''time released or delayed gene transfer''. Through Dr. Baker's ground breaking research many pharmaceutical and biological pesticide manufacturers can use these principles in DNA vaccines specific applications that incorporate the Simian Monkey Virus SV40.
WEST NILE VIRUS SPRAYING
In 2006 Michael Greenwood wrote an article for the Yale School of Public Health entitled, ''Aerial Spraying Effectively Reduces Incidence of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Humans.'' The article stated that the incidence of human West Nile virus cases can be significantly reduced through large scale aerial spraying that targets adult mosquitoes, according to research by the Yale School of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health.
Under the mandate for aerial spraying for specific vectors that pose a threat to human health, aerial vaccines known as DNA Vaccine Enhancements and Recombinant Vaccine against WNV may be tested or used to ''protect'' the people from vector infection exposures. DNA vaccine enhancements specifically use Epstein-Barr viral capside's with multi human complement class II activators to neutralize antibodies. The recombinant vaccines against WNV use Rabbit Beta-globulin or the poly (A) signal of the SV40 virus. In early studies of DNA vaccines it was found that the negative result studies would go into the category of future developmental research projects in gene therapy. During the studies of poly (A) signaling of the SV40 for WNV vaccines, it was observed that WNV will lie dormant in individuals who were exposed to chicken pox, thus upon exposure to WNV aerial vaccines the potential for the release of chicken pox virus would cause a greater risk to having adult onset Shingles.
CALIFORNIA AERIAL SPRAYING for WNV and SV40
In February 2009 to present date, aerial spraying for the WNV occurred in major cities within the State of California. During spraying of Anaheim, CA a Caucasian female (age 50) was exposed to heavy spraying, while doing her daily exercise of walking several miles. Heavy helicopter activity occurred for several days in this area. After spraying, she experienced light headedness, nausea, muscle aches and increased low back pain. She was evaluated for toxicological mechanisms that were associated with pesticide exposure due to aerial spraying utilizing advanced biological monitoring testing. The test results which included protein band testing utilizing Protein Coupled Response (PCR) methods were positive for KD-45. KD-45 is the protein band for SV-40 Simian Green Monkey virus. Additional tests were performed for Epstein-Barr virus capside and Cytomeglia virus which are used in bioengineering for gene delivery systems through viral protein envelope and adenoviral protein envelope technology. The individual was positive for both; indicating a highly probable exposure to a DNA vaccination delivery system through nasal inhalation.
The question of the century is how many other viruses and toxins are within current day vaccines that we'll only find out about in a few decades?
About the AuthorDave Mihalovic is a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in vaccine research, cancer prevention and a natural approach to treatment.
Sources: nih.govrense.comCDC preventdisease.cominfowars.comwikipedia.org
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of WakingTimes or its staff.
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CDC Admits 98 Million Americans Received Polio Vaccine In An 8-Year Span When It Was Contaminated With Cancer Virus was last modified: June 18th, 2016 by WakingTimes
Gillum's October surprise: ex-friend's texts, emails could make or break his campaign
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 13:52
(C) The Associated Press Andrew Gillum is facing questions over a New York trip to see the Broadway hit "Hamilton." Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has gotten pretty good at answering questions about whether he accepted favors from lobbyists and gifts from undercover FBI agents.
It's a skill he's going to need more than ever during the next two weeks if he wants to become Florida's governor.
Tuesday's release of private emails and text messages by a former friend detailing the mayor's trips to Central America with lobbyists and to New York with federal investigators couldn't have come at a worse time for Gillum. With just two weeks left on the trail, his campaign had been humming, on top of GOP nominee Ron DeSantis in every publicly released poll and perhaps ahead in enthusiasm and momentum.
But with early voting just underway, Gillum could be dogged until election day by questions about who paid for what, and whether he's been lying about his relationships with Tallahassee insiders and fake developers who spent years poking around Tallahassee City Hall in search of corruption.
"Of course he lied," an almost cocky DeSantis said Tuesday during a campaign stop in a Miami deli. "More will come out."
Gillum, who is adamant that nothing in the documents released Tuesday refuted his prior explanations, has steadfastly denied that he has done anything wrong.
He said quickly that he was told he is not under investigation when news broke in June of 2017 that the FBI was exploring deals involving Tallahassee's community redevelopment agency. When a businessman filed two ethics complaint alleging that Gillum traveled for free with lobbyist friends to Costa Rica and faux developers to New York but failed to disclose it, the mayor again said he was innocent.
He released receipts and bank statements last month that proved he paid at least some of his own way. But on Tuesday, former friend and mayoral campaign treasurer Adam Corey publicly released more than 100 pages of emails and text messages that appear to contradict some of Gillum's defenses. An attorney for Corey, the Tallahassee lobbyist and developer who coordinated both trips, said he released the documents after they were subpoenaed by the state's ethics commission.
Text strings showed that Gillum was likely aware that tickets to "Hamilton" were paid for by Mike Miller, a fake developer who has since been unmasked as an FBI agent. That information differed with his explanation that he got his ticket to "Hamilton" from his younger brother, Marcus, who he said had traded passes to a Jay Z concert to Corey in exchange for the Broadway seats. The texts also showed that he stayed in a New York hotel room purchased by Miller.
Corey's emails, meanwhile, show that in an earlier trip to Costa Rica, Corey placed a hold on a bill for Gillum's share of the costs, and that the amount he was to pay for the trip was more than double the $400 the mayor said he took out from his bank account to pay for the vacation. Some of the friends with whom Gillum and his wife vacationed on that trip were investors in a Tallahassee hotel that later received a $2 million grant through a unanimous vote by Gillum and city commissioners.
Gillum's campaign explained Tuesday that the $400 the mayor withdrew from his bank account was in addition to cash already on-hand, and the candidate continued to maintain Tuesday that the controversy is merely a "distraction." In a Facebook live stream from Richmond Heights '-- a Miami neighborhood where he grew up as a child '-- Gillum said the texts and emails "only confirm what we have said all along." He also blamed Republicans for trying to paint him as unethical and "reinforce, frankly, stereotypes about black men."
"We did go to see 'Hamilton.' I did get my ticket for 'Hamilton' from my brother. At the time we believed that they were reserved by friends of Adam's, Mike Miller," he said. "When I got there after work, got my ticket, we went in and saw it, assumed my brother paid for it. And as far as I know that was the deal."
Democrats were largely inclined to side with Gillum, who by other measures was having a fine day Tuesday. Gillum was in Miami ahead of a campaign fundraiser with former first lady Hillary Clinton at her former campaign headquarters in Wynwood. The event followed a luncheon in Palm Beach County, and between the two events the campaign raised around $2.5 million, according to Democratic booster Chris Korge, who helped coordinate the two events.
Korge said there's more than 400 people scheduled to attend a Thursday fundraiser at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables Thursday, and that excitement hasn't waned. "It sounds like Adam Corey is pissed off," he said, questioning why Corey's attorney, Chris Kise, released the documents to the public two weeks before the election.
But one Democratic consultant said the controversy could derail Gillum's campaign if the story lingers, comparing it ironically to the letter then-FBI director James Comey issued in the final two weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign noting that a probe of Clinton's private Secretary of State email server had been revived.
"As we saw with the Comey letter, Democrats are more likely to be deflated over something like this and stay home," said the consultant, who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak candidly.
On Twitter, Republican media consultant Brian Burgess blasted Gillum's handling of the matter and accused him of playing the race card in his Facebook post. Burgess said this would be a defining moment in Gillum's campaign.
"This is without question the defining moment for his campaign," Burgess said, "and will make or break him."
The story is almost certain to live on. Gillum has campaign appearances scheduled in South Florida Thursday, where he will be asked by reporters about the correspondence. He also has a debate scheduled Wednesday evening at Broward College with DeSantis, who already tried to interrogate him on his "Hamilton" tickets during their first debate Sunday on CNN.
"Did you pay for 'Hamilton?'" he asked. "Andrew, did you pay for the trip?"
Gillum didn't address the question. He'll need to have an answer come Wednesday.
Apple's Tim Cook makes blistering attack on the ''data industrial complex'' | TechCrunch
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 13:22
Apple's CEO Tim Cook has joined the chorus of voices warning that data itself is being weaponized again people and societies '-- arguing that the trade in digital data has exploded into a ''data industrial complex''.
Cook did not namecheck the adtech elephants in the room: Google, Facebook and other background data brokers that profit from privacy-hostile business models. But his target was clear.
''Our own information '-- from the everyday to the deeply personal '-- is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,'' warned Cook. ''These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.
''Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm.''
''We shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance,'' he added.
Cook was giving the keynote speech at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), which is being held in Brussels this year, right inside the European Parliament's Hemicycle.
''Artificial intelligence is one area I think a lot about,'' he told an audience of international data protection experts and policy wonks, which included the inventor of the World Wide Web itself, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, another keynote speaker at the event.
''At its core this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. But advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency,'' Cook continued.
''For artificial intelligence to be truly smart it must respect human values '-- including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound. We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It is not only a possibility '-- it is a responsibility.''
That sense of responsibility is why Apple puts human values at the heart of its engineering, Cook said.
In the speech, which we previewed yesterday, he also laid out a positive vision for technology's ''potential for good'' '-- when combined with ''good policy and political will''.
''We should celebrate the transformative work of the European institutions tasked with the successful implementation of the GDPR. We also celebrate the new steps taken, not only here in Europe but around the world '-- in Singapore, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand. In many more nations regulators are asking tough questions '-- and crafting effective reform.
''It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead.''
Cook said Apple is ''in full support of a comprehensive, federal privacy law in the United States'' '-- making the company's clearest statement yet of support for robust domestic privacy laws, and earning himself a burst of applause from assembled delegates in the process.
We believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. No matter what country you live in, that right should be protected in keeping with four essential principles:
'-- Tim Cook (@tim_cook) October 24, 2018
Cook argued for a US privacy law to prioritize four things:
data minimization '-- ''the right to have personal data minimized'', saying companies should ''challenge themselves'' to de-identify customer data or not collect it in the first placetransparency '-- ''the right to knowledge'', saying users should ''always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for, saying it's the only way to ''empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn't''. ''Anything less is a shame,'' he addedthe right to access '-- saying companies should recognize that ''data belongs to users'', and it should be made easy for users to get a copy of, correct and delete their personal datathe right to security '-- saying ''security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights''''We see vividly, painfully how technology can harm, rather than help,'' he continued, arguing that platforms can ''magnify our worst human tendencies'... deepen divisions, incite violence and even undermine our shared sense or what is true or false''.
''This crisis is real. Those of us who believe in technology's potential for good must not shrink from this moment'', he added, saying the company hopes ''to work with you as partners'', and that: ''Our missions are closely aligned.''
He also made a sideswipe at tech industry efforts to defang privacy laws '-- saying that some companies will ''endorse reform in public and then resist and undermine it behind closed doors''.
''They may say to you our companies can never achieve technology's true potential if there were strengthened privacy regulations. But this notion isn't just wrong it is destructive '-- technology's potential is and always must be rooted in the faith people have in it. In the optimism and the creativity that stirs the hearts of individuals. In its promise and capacity to make the world a better place.''
''It's time to face facts,'' Cook added. ''We will never achieve technology's true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.''
Opening the conference before the Apple CEO took to the stage, Europe's data protection supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli argued that digitization is driving a new generational shift in the respect for privacy '-- saying there is an urgent need for regulators and indeed societies to agree on and establish ''a sustainable ethics for a digitised society''.
''The so-called 'privacy paradox' is not that people have conflicting desires to hide and to expose. The paradox is that we have not yet learned how to navigate the new possibilities and vulnerabilities opened up by rapid digitization,'' Buttarelli argued.
''To cultivate a sustainable digital ethics, we need to look, objectively, at how those technologies have affected people in good ways and bad; We need a critical understanding of the ethics informing decisions by companies, governments and regulators whenever they develop and deploy new technologies.''
The EU's data protection supervisor told an audience largely made up of data protection regulators and policy wonks that laws that merely set a minimum standard are not enough, including the EU's freshly painted GDPR.
''We need to ask whether our moral compass been suspended in the drive for scale and innovation,'' he said. ''At this tipping point for our digital society, it is time to develop a clear and sustainable moral code.''
''We do not have a[n ethical] consensus in Europe, and we certainly do not have one at a global level. But we urgently need one,'' he added.
''Not everything that is legally compliant and technically feasible is morally sustainable,'' Buttarelli continued, pointing out that ''privacy has too easily been reduced to a marketing slogan.
''But ethics cannot be reduced to a slogan.''
''For us as data protection authorities, I believe that ethics is among our most pressing strategic challenges,'' he added.
''We have to be able to understand technology, and to articulate a coherent ethical framework. Otherwise how can we perform our mission to safeguard human rights in the digital age?''
100 ISIS Terrorists Caught in Guatemala as Central American Caravan Heads to U.S. - Judicial Watch
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 13:09
In a startling revelation, Guatemala's president announced in the country's largest newspaper that nearly 100 ISIS terrorists have been apprehended in the impoverished Central American nation. Why should Americans care about this? A caravan of Central American migrants is making its way north. Let's not forget that Guatemala is one of the countries that bombarded the U.S. with illegal immigrant minors under Barack Obama's open border free-for-all. They came in droves from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala through the Mexican border and for years Uncle Sam rolled out the welcome mat offering housing, food, medical treatment and a free education
A terrorist could have easily slipped in considering the minors, coined Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC), were not properly vetted and some turned out to be violent gangbangers who went on to commit heinous crimes in their adopted land of opportunity. In fact, the nation's most violent street gang, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), was energized by the barrage of UACs. The Texas Department of Public Safety even issued a report documenting how the MS-13 emerged as a top tier gang in the state thanks to the influx of illegal alien gang members that came with the UACs. At the time more than 60,000 UACs'--many with criminal histories'--had stormed into the U.S. in a matter of months. Tens of thousands more eventually made it north.
Guatemala has long been known as a major smuggling corridor for foreigners from African and Asian countries making their way into the U.S. Last year Guatemala's largest paper, Prensa Libra, published an in-depth piece on the inner workings of an international human smuggling network that moves migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh to the U.S. Individuals are sent to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates then flown to Brazil before heading to Colombia. Once in South America, the migrants are transported to Panama before moving on to Costa Rica then a central point on Guatemala. One Spanish news report refers to Guatemala as a human smuggling paradise because it's so easy to get fake passports. A few years ago, the head of Guatemala's passport division got arrested for selling fake passports to a group of Colombians, according to a government announcement.
All this makes ISIS terrorists operating in Guatemala incredibly alarming. President Jimmy Morales confirmed it during a recent security conference attended by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as the presidents of Honduras and El Salvador and other Latin American dignitaries. Morales said that his administration has captured ''close to 100 persons completely involved with terrorists, with ISIS and we have not only detained them within our territory, but they have been deported to their country of origin.'' Several of the terrorists were Syrians caught with fake documents, according to Guatemala's head of intelligence. At the same event, President Morales also revealed that Guatemalan authorities captured more than 1,000 gangbangers, including members of the MS-13.
Many more probably make it into the U.S. via the Mexican border and a lot of them get released inside the country. In fact, Border Patrol agents in Texas have been ordered to release illegal immigrants caught entering through Mexico because detentions facilities have no bed space, according to a news report. Earlier this year Judicial Watch exposed a secret program'--started by Obama and continued by Trump'-- that quietly relocates illegal immigrants to different parts of the country on commercial flights. Years earlier Judicial Watch uncovered a similar DHS initiative that transported illegal immigrants from the Mexican border to Phoenix and released them without proper processing. The government classified them as Other Than Mexican (OTM) and transferred them 116 miles north from Tucson to a Phoenix bus station where they went their separate way. The OTMs were from Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala and a security company contracted by the U.S. government drove the OTMs from the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector where they were in custody to Phoenix. Some could have been ISIS operatives.
At George Soros's Home, Pipe Bomb Was Likely Hand-Delivered, Officials Say - The New York Times
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:51
Image The billionaire philanthropist George Soros donates frequently to Democratic candidates and progressive causes. Credit Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times Federal authorities believe that an explosive device found Monday in a mailbox at the home of George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who has been a focus of right-wing vitriol and conspiracy theorists, was left there by someone and was not delivered by the Postal Service, several law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Mr. Soros's home is in a suburb of New York City. The device was constructed from a length of pipe about six inches long filled with explosive powder, and it was ''proactively detonated'' by bomb squad technicians, according to one of the officials, all of whom were briefed on the investigation.
The motive of the would-be bomber or bombers remained unclear, one of the officials said, adding that there had not yet been any claim of responsibility.
Mr. Soros, who made his fortune in finance and is now a full-time philanthropist and political activist, is often a subject of the ire of right-wing groups. In recent days, some have falsely speculated that he funded a caravan of migrants moving north in Mexico.
Mr. Soros was not home when the device was discovered by a caretaker, another one of the officials said. It was rigged with a detonator, and it could have maimed or possibly killed someone had it exploded near them.
A senior law enforcement official described the pipe bomb as ''smaller than what we typically see.''
The investigation is being conducted by the New York offices of the F.B.I. and the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, according to several of the officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
Officers from the police department in the town of Bedford, N.Y., initially responded to the Soros home in the hamlet of Katonah, at about 3:45 p.m. Monday in response to a call from the caretaker about a suspicious package, according to a police department statement. The Westchester County Police Department's bomb squad was called, as were federal and state investigators.
''The caretaker went out to collect the mail and didn't make it back to the residence,'' a senior law enforcement official said. The device was packed in an envelope that was about 8 by 10 inches and ''looked suspicious.'' The caretaker ''dropped it in the woods on the way back to the residence.''
Another official said investigators had photographed the package before detonating the device. The images have been reviewed by United States postal inspectors, the official said, who concluded that the markings on the envelope were likely intended to make it appear as though the package was sent through the mail, though they believed it was not.
Image A package containing the explosive was put in a mailbox at Mr. Soros's home outside of New York City. It was discovered by a caretaker. Credit Seth Wenig/Associated Press The inspectors, the official said, also interviewed the mail carrier on that route, who did not recall delivering such a package.
Two F.B.I. Joint Terrorism Task Force squads that handle domestic terrorism cases were involved in the investigation, one of the officials said, identifying them as a unit based in the bureau's office in nearby Rye, N.Y., and another in Manhattan that has several agents trained in investigating explosives.
Agents were examining recordings from surveillance cameras in the area around the Soros home to determine whether they captured images of the person leaving the device in the mailbox, or approaching or leaving, one of the officials said.
Mr. Soros, who was born in Hungary, made his fortune running a hedge fund. He donates frequently to Democratic candidates and progressive causes, and has given at least $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations to promote democracy and human rights around the world.
He became a major political donor in the United States during George W. Bush's presidency. He spent millions backing John Kerry's unsuccessful bid to deny Mr. Bush a second term, was an early backer of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and contributed more than $25 million to Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates and causes during the 2016 election cycle.
His activism has made him a villain to conservative groups and the target of anti-Semitic smears. Roseanne Barr called him a Nazi in an infamous tweetstorm.
Though Mr. Soros's name has become a trigger for a subset of Republicans and conservatives, he has said that his main goal as a political activist was to see a return to bipartisanship.
He has said it was the extremism of the Republican Party that had prompted him to become a major Democratic donor, but also said he was opposed to the extreme left.
''I don't particularly want to be a Democrat,'' he said.
Bedford is about 50 miles north of Manhattan and has been home to many well-to-do city transplants, including Martha Stewart, Glenn Close and Ralph Lauren. Katonah, where Mr. Soros has a home, is known for its cultural offerings, including the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts and the Katonah Museum of Art.
The town is known for its insularity and lack of gossip, which allows for well-known residents to fly under the radar. ''They look to Bedford as to being protective of their privacy,'' John Stockbridge, Bedford's historian, said in a phone interview.
Mr. Stockbridge said that the town has largely avoided drama or violent scares. ''I've been here for 35 years, and I don't remember any incident like what you're talking about,'' he said.
Sarah Mervosh and Andrew R. Chow contributed reporting.
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Daily Telegraph blocked from naming businessman who 'sexually harassed staff'
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:42
The Court of Appeal has stopped a newspaper from naming a "leading businessman" who is alleged to have sexually harassed and racially abused members of staff.
The Daily Telegraph said the senior executive in a company group had hired at least seven lawyers and spent close to £500,000 in legal fees in his quest to get an injunction against the paper.
Two managers at companies within the group are also said to have taken legal action.
The newspaper, which has spent eight months investigating "allegations of bullying and intimidation", said the court had ruled that the "confidentiality of contracts was more important than freedom of speech".
There was clear public interest in publishing the allegations, the paper said, because it would alert anyone thinking of applying to work for the man.
Under the ruling, it is illegal to reveal the businessman's identity or to identify the companies, as well as what he is accused of doing or how much he paid his alleged victims.
Image: Harvey Weinstein also used non-disclosure agreementsExplaining their decision, three appeal court judges said that while five employees of companies within the group had made allegations of "discreditable conduct" by the executive, their complaints had all been "compromised by settlement agreements", through which they had received "substantial payments".
The Daily Telegraph said that "like (Harvey) Weinstein, the British businessman used controversial non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), to silence and pay off his alleged victims with 'substantial sums'".
While NDAs have often been used to protect commercial confidentiality, there are concerns they are being used to cover up wrongdoing.
Maria Miller, who chairs the Commons' women and equality committee, has said NDAs should not be used "where there are accusations of sexual misconduct and wider bullying".
The ruling from Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Henderson goes against an earlier one from the High Court.
In August, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave decided the executive and managers had not demonstrated that information the newspaper wanted to publish had been obtained in breach of non-disclosure agreements.
He added that the information was "reasonably credible", there was no "reasonable expectation of privacy or confidentiality" and found that a considerable amount of the information the newspaper wanted to publish was already in the public domain.
He felt the publication was "clearly capable of significantly contributing to a debate in a democratic society" and "making a contribution to a current debate of general public interest on misconduct in the workplace".
But the appeal court judges said there was "no evidence that any of the settlement agreements were procured by bullying, harassment or undue pressure by the claimants", adding that Mr Justice Haddon-Cave had "left entirely out of account" the "important and legitimate role" played by non-disclosure agreements.
Regarding the three claimants, the judges said there was a "real prospect that publication by the Telegraph will cause immediate, substantial and possibly irreversible harm to all of (them)".
The executive and companies were named only as "ABC & others".
The Court of Appeal has ordered that the matter "proceed to a speedy trial", the Daily Telegraph said.
Official School Records Support Claims That Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) Married Her Brother | Self-Evident
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:37
Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-60B) currently leads the race to fill the federal House seat being vacated by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN). Immediately after being elected to her current seat in 2016, Omar faced allegations -- soon backed by a remarkable amount of evidence -- that she had married her own brother in 2009, and was still legally his wife. They officially divorced in December 2017.
The motivation for the marriage remains unclear. However, the totality of the evidence points to possible immigration fraud and student loan fraud.
Rep. Omar has stated that she did marry "British citizen" Ahmed Nur Said Elmi in 2009, though the allegation that he is her brother is "absurd and offensive."
Below, exclusive new evidence -- from official archived high school records and corroborating sources -- strongly supports the claim that Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is indeed her brother.
As this implicates Rep. Omar in multiple state and federal felonies, I have contacted the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota to submit all other information uncovered during our investigation.
---------------------
According to official student enrollment records archived by St. Paul Public Schools and the state of Minnesota, an ''Ahmed N. Elmi'' was enrolled as a senior in the Class of 2003 at Arlington Senior High School in St. Paul, MN, from September 6, 2002, until June 10, 2003. He graduated and received a diploma.
The enrollment record states that ''Ahmed N. Elmi'' was born on April 4, 1985.
Both Ilhan Omar's 2009 marriage documents and her 2017 divorce proceedings state that Ahmed Nur Said Elmi was born on April 4, 1985.
After an extensive background search, I have not been able to find any other person named ''Ahmed Nur Said Elmi,'' ''Ahmed N. Elmi,'' or even ''Ahmed Elmi'' with the birthdate April 4, 1985. The man Ilhan Omar married and the 17- to 18-year-old who attended Arlington Senior High School in St. Paul, MN, in 2002-2003 are one and the same.
Ahmed N. Elmi was a minor for most of the school year, and thus his parent(s)/legal guardian(s) would very likely also be listed on his enrollment records -- along with his home address and telephone number.
St. Paul Public Schools stated to me that federal law (FERPA) and Minnesota law forbid it from releasing the names of Ahmed N. Elmi's parents/legal guardians, address, or phone number from his enrollment record without Elmi's signed permission -- or a warrant.
I then contacted several members of the Class of 2003 -- and I was told that Eli ''was living with his father'' while attending Arlington Senior High School. I have also obtained the likely address.
Further, Elmi's father was identified as the same man Ilhan Omar has always publicly referred to as her own father: Nur Said Elmi Mohamed. (Read about Somali naming tradition here.)
Here is his Facebook account, where he refers to himself as Nur Said.
-------------------------
On Friday (October 19), I emailed Rep. Ilhan Omar, the MN Democratic Party (DFL) chairman, and the MN DFL CD-5 chairman to request comment. I asked for a response by Monday evening -- a full three days. I also sent a follow-up email to all three on Monday afternoon:
No one responded.
This was not unexpected. Rep. Omar did not respond to a three-day deadline before I published an article covering her on August 8, 2018. That article presented documented evidence that Omar appeared to commit perjury multiple times during her 2017 divorce proceedings.
However, perhaps this tweet posted last night from Rep. Omar's official Twitter account was an indirect response:
https://twitter.com/IlhanMN/status/1054576234666123264
If so, I'd suggest the evidence against her stands on its own. I would also ask her to produce a single instance of false content, or ''propaganda,'' that I have published in my three articles covering her background.
I will publish a fourth article later this week.
Follow PJ Media Editor David Steinberg on Twitter: @DavidSPJM
The Caravan Challenges the Integrity of U.S. Borders - The Atlantic
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:35
Meanwhile, in the Democrats' liberal base, the mood toward the caravan is positively sympathetic. The caravan's slogan, ''People without borders,'' chimes with the rising sentiment among liberals that border-enforcement is inherently illegitimate, and usually racist, too.
But understand what's at stake: The theory behind the caravans'--this latest, and its smaller predecessors over the past 15 years'--is that Central Americans have valid asylum claims in the United States because of the pervasive underemployment and gang-violence problems in their countries. If that claim is true, that is a claim shared not only among the thousands in the current caravan, but the millions back home. A 2013 Pew survey found that 58 percent of Salvadorans would move to the United States if they could. The seven countries of Central America together have a population of some 45 million, or about the same as Mexico's back in 1970, when the mass migration from that nation began.
Photos of the Central American immigrant caravan
Things happen much faster in the 2010s than they did in the 1970s. When Germany temporarily suspended its border rules in August 2015, almost a million migrants surged into the country within the next four months. That surge continued into 2016. Its political effects linger still: It was crucial to the British vote to quit the European Union, to the election of a reactionary government in Poland, to the political revival of Viktor Orbn in Hungary, and to the collapse of center-left parties in France, Italy, Sweden, and Germany.
Trump's election owes something to the surge across the U.S.'s southern border in the summer of 2014. Tens of thousands of women and children crossed the border in only a few weeks. Many of those who entered in 2014 remain in the United States to this day, even after their cases have been negatively adjudicated, because they have disregarded their removal orders and vanished into the vast U.S. population of unauthorized immigrants.
The strong U.S. job market is again attracting low-wage workers. After a dip in 2017, illegal crossings of the southern border in 2018 have returned to their levels of 2016'--and are running well ahead of 2015. If the thousands of people in the caravan successfully cross the border, lodge asylum claims, and are released into the U.S. interior pending adjudication, many more seem likely to follow.
Why wouldn't they? More than 60 percent of the population of Honduras lives in poverty, according to the World Bank, and very nearly 60 percent do so in Guatemala. While rates of crime and violence have declined in both countries since 2014, they remain appalling by world standards.
For Trump, the caravan represents a political opportunity. Here is exactly the kind of issue that excites more conservative Americans'--and empowers him as their blustery, angry champion.
No clowns allowed. Michigan city bans clowns on Halloween
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 11:32
Copyright 2015 Cable News Network/Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
OAK PARK, Mich. - If you plan to attend the Boo Bash in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park on Halloween, you can be a ghost, goblin, zombie, vampire or any other character that you wish, but you can't be a clown.
City officials have banned clown costumes because they are too scary.
The annual Boo Bash is held at the city's community center. The city's public invitation invites people to "enjoy cider and donuts" at the trick-or-treating event. Kids are invited to wear their favorite costume, but the invitation says "clown costumes are not allowed."
The Oakland County Times got the following explanation from the city's recreation director:
''This event is centered around young children,'' Laurie Stasiak said in an email to the newspaper. "In the past few years many clown costumes have been given a very scary and evil look. Many scary and horror movies are centered around these types of characters. About 3 years [ago] there were national incidents in the news were people were dressing up as clowns and scaring people and in some cases assaulting them. Many people have phobias and anxiety about clowns. It's because of this that we asked people not to dress up as clowns for this community event.''
Copyright 2018 by KSAT - All rights reserved.
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Dem Congressional Candidate Tells GOP Opponent To 'F*** Off' During Debate. In A Synagogue. | Daily Wire
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 11:31
A Democratic congressional candidate in Pennsylvania, debating in a synagogue with his GOP opponent before an audience, used language you don't often hear in a religious setting, telling his opponent to ''f*** off.''
Scott Wallace, running against GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, shocked the audience at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, as the two candidates stood on the platform normally used for reading the Torah.
Fitzpatrick told WBCB, ''Ironically, there was a later question about the need for civility in politics. Well, a good start is to not use vulgarities in the sanctuary of a synagogue in the middle of a congressional debate.''
WBCB reported, ''In addition to Fitzpatrick, people in the synagogue and the moderator took exception with Wallace's obscenity.''
Fitzpatrick continued, ''You'll have to ask Scott Wallace what his motivations were. My sense is he was frustrated because I was cross examining him on the ad he's running, which is a false ad based on my position on pre-existing conditions. I was asking him a series of questions on what bill he was referring to, had he read it, and he came out with this expletive.''
Wallace's TV ads state that Fitzpatrick wants to remove healthcare from people with pre-existing conditions; the Washington Post's Fact Checker wrote that the ads are highly inaccurate:
The DCCC really crosses the line here. Fitzpatrick bucked his party to vote against one of the president's top priorities, the repeal of Obamacare, specifically because he was concerned about the impact on people with preexisting conditions. His reward? Being attacked for selling his constituents out on the issue because of his minor procedural votes, when just about every member of Congress sticks to party lines.
The vote that really counted on preexisting conditions was the tough one '-- on the proposed law itself. You would think the Democrats would at least applaud him for his courage, but apparently that's not how the game is played these days. The DCCC earns Four Pinocchios.
On Monday Scott Wallace issued an explanatory statement regarding his profane outburst:
I was exasperated by yet another attempt from Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick to hide from his votes to take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions. I apologize for any offense that might have been taken, I am passionate about protecting people from insurance company abuses, and I'm sorry that in this instance, my frustration got the best of me.
In 2016, Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, ran for the open U.S. House of Representatives seat of his brother, Mike, who had served four terms but promised to honor his pledge to limit himself to four terms. He was embedded with U.S. Special Forces as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Fitzpatrick sponsored the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act, which was signed into law by President Trump; the law directs $15 million to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to expand screening for fentanyl and opioids at the U.S. border.
Because of redistricting, Fitzpatrick is running against Wallace for Congress in Pennsylvania's First Congressional District.
REPORT: 25% Of Millennials Say They're Suffering From PTSD Because Of The 2016 Elections | Daily Wire
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 11:31
A new psychological study from San Francisco State University claims that a full quarter of millennials are suffering from bouts of post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, because of the 2016 elections.
The study is by no means comprehensive '-- the research pool was limited to 769 students studying psychology at Arizona State University '-- but of those millennials chosen for the test, 25% reported experiencing ''clinically significant'' levels of stress, along with other symptoms of PTSD.
Students were evaluated using an ''Impact of Event'' scale, which measures stress levels at various times following a major traumatic event, typically a tragedy or a personal illness or injury. The results, the Washington Examiner reports, "indicated that students' average stress score was similar to those of witnesses of a mass shooting seven months after the incident."
''The scale is used to gauge the extent to which individuals have been impacted by an event in such a way that it might lead to diagnosable post-traumatic stress disorder,'' lead researcher, Melissa Hagan said in a statement released alongside the study.
''What we were interested in seeing was, did the election for some people constitute a traumatic experience?'' Hagan added. ''And we found that it did for 25 percent of young adults.''
Those students suffering symptoms all qualify for an official PTSD diagnosis, according to the study itself. And students who self-identified as a minority, as female, as a Democrat, or as a non-Christian reported the most significant stress levels.
"Black and nonwhite Hispanic students scored higher on the assessment than their white classmates, for instance. Gender, political affiliation and religion all played even larger roles. Females scored about 45 percent higher than males on the assessment, and Democrats scored more than two and a half times higher than Republicans," the study said.
Hagan attributed the "clinically significant" stress levels to both the election's "surprise" result and rhetoric tossed about in the final weeks of the campaign '-- specifically Donald Trump's comments about what makes a person a real American.
But if it seems strange that simple rhetoric '-- speeches made in the closing weeks of a campaign when candidates from both parties were trying to instill fear in voters '-- should trigger actual stress symptoms months after an election, that's because it is, at least from a commonplace perspective.
But it's easy to see how students might translate politics into personal harm. Since November of 2016, emotions have been at an all-time high, and outrage meters, particularly on the Left, are set to 11. Each new development from the Trump White House warrants weeks of impassioned social media postings, in-world protesting, and panicked speculation. Each simple policy change is often accompanied by concerns that President Donald Trump is going to "de-humanize" segments of the population, strip women of rights, and institutionalize everyone he disagrees with.
In the months following the election, few '-- if any '-- dire predictions have come to pass, but that doesn't mean true believers aren't living in fear.
It might be time, though, to let go '-- and grow up.
How To Understand A Boil Water Notice
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 02:14
What is a Boil Water Notice?It's a notification that advises residents to boil their tap water used for consumption (drinking, cooking, making ice, etc.), because their water may be contaminated. A Boil Water Notice is in effect until laboratory results show that water is safe from bacterial contamination. The tests usually take 24 hours to complete. Bathing, washing clothes or dishes and other activities where water is used externally, should not pose a health risk.
When is a Boil Water Notice issued?Because delivering clean water is our business, SouthWest Water adheres to stringent water quality testing and monitoring requirements to ensure that every drop of water delivered to your home or business meets or exceeds state and federal health and safety standards. We back our commitment of maintaining high water quality standards by dedicating the necessary human and technological resources to quality assurance programs.
Sometimes, however, there is a possibility that your water has become susceptible to contamination. The occurrences listed below may increase the risk of contaminants entering the drinking water treatment and distribution system:
A water system completely loses water pressure or the pressure goes below 20 psi (pounds per square inch)A pipeline breaksA distribution system interruption takes place (whether planned or as a result or man-made or natural disasters, such as hurricanes)Water samples indicate the presence of waterborne pathogensA cross-connection is discovered that may have contaminated the water supplyIncreased run-off enters the drinking water source (e.g. following heavy rains)When we issue a Boil Water Notice, testing has generally not yet been conducted to confirm or deny the presence of contamination in your water. Sometimes, the chances of water contamination are remote, but we don't want to take any chances with your family's health. SouthWest Water takes protection of public health very seriously. In most cases, issuing a Boil Water Notice is a precautionary measure for the safety of our customers.
What should you do?Do not consume your water without boiling it first. Use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, and food preparation until further notice.
To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes that might be present, a boil water notice will advise you to boil water used for drinking, cooking, and ice making. Bring water to a vigorous, rolling boil and then boil for two minutes (don't forget to cool the water before consuming it). In lieu of boiling, you may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source.
How much does boiling water accomplish?According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), boiling is considered the most effective and the safest method of water disinfection. You may find that boiled water tastes rather flat. To get rid of the blandness, aerate it by pouring it back and forth from one container to another and allow it to stand for a few hours, or add a pinch of salt for each quart or liter of water boiled.
What does SouthWest Water do when there is a Boil Water Notice?We are required to collect samples from the water source (e.g. a well), the original site where contamination may have been found, as well as upstream and downstream of that point, and get them tested for any continuing contamination before we can declare the water clean. Only after satisfactory lab results and, under certain circumstances, an approval from the state's regulatory agency, can we then lift a Boil Water Notice.
How does SouthWest Water notify customers that a Boil Water Notice is issued?Water utilities are required to notify you by newspaper, radio, TV, hand-delivery or any combination of the above if your water doesn't meet EPA or state standards or if there is a waterborne disease emergency. We'll use the same method to notify you that your Boil Water Notice was rescinded.
For More InformationEmergency Disinfection of Drinking Water (EPA)
Emergency Water Use Restrictions Issued - Restrictions due to high level of silt/debris in our water supply lakes. | AustinTexas.gov - The Official Website of the City of Austin
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 02:03
Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros has issued emergency water use restrictions, effective at 10 a.m., Monday, October 22, 2018.
Austin City Code Chapter 6-4-20 allows the Director to enact emergency restrictions to protect public health during an unusual operations event. Due to the high level of silt and debris in our water supply lakes as a result of recent flooding, there is an urgent need to reduce water demand to allow treatment plant operations to stabilize.
During this period and until further notice, all outdoor water use is prohibited. Customers may not:
Use water for irrigation or testing of irrigation equipmentWash vehicles, including at commercial car wash facilitiesWash pavement or other surfacesAdd water to a pool or spaConduct foundation watering, orOperate an ornamental fountain or pond, other than aeration necessary to support aquatic life Violations of these restrictions should be reported to Austin 3-1-1. Austin Water appreciates your support in reducing water use to help stabilize Austin's water treatment plants. The emergency water use restrictions are necessary to ensure water is available for firefighting and basic needs. Historic flood waters flowing into our region's water supply lakes, the Highland Lakes, contain much higher levels of debris, silt, and mud. As a result, Austin water is experiencing reduced water treatment capacity. Austin Water has issued a city-wide boil water notice for all customers. To ensure that water is safe, customers are asked to boil water that is used for drinking, cooking or ice for three minutes. The city-wide boil water notice is in addition to actions taken by the City over the last week to ensure the health and safety of our community during this flood event. These have included activating the Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center to closely monitor the evolving conditions, closing the City's waterway, closing Parks and Recreation facilities along City waterways, monitoring and managing low-water crossings, and working with our neighbors to the west of Austin to respond to their own flood emergencies.
The Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center will remain active through the remainder of this situation and will be providing updates as conditions change. For more information visit austintexas.gov/boilh2o.
Espanol
El aviso de hervir el agua todav­a est en efecto: ahora se requiere la conservaci"n de agua en situaciones de emergenciaEl Director del departamento de Agua de la Ciudad de Austin, Greg Meszaros, ha emitido restricciones de emergencia para el uso de agua, con vigencia a las 10 a.m., el lunes 22 de octubre de 2018.
El C"digo de la Ciudad de Austin, Cap­tulo 6-4-20, permite al Director promulgar restricciones de emergencia para proteger la salud pºblica durante un evento de operaciones inusual. Debido al alto nivel de sedimentos y escombros en nuestros lagos de suministro de agua como resultado de las recientes inundaciones, existe una necesidad urgente de reducir la demanda de agua para permitir que las operaciones de la planta de tratamiento se estabilicen.
Durante este per­odo y hasta nuevo aviso, todo uso de agua al aire libre est prohibido. Los clientes no pueden:
Usar agua para riego o pruebas de equipos de riego.Lavar veh­culos, incluso en instalaciones comerciales de lavado de autosLavar el pavimento u otras superficiesA±adir agua a una piscina o spaLlevar a cabo el riego de la fundaci"n, oOperar una fuente o estanque ornamental, que no sea la aireaci"n necesaria para apoyar la vida acuticaLas violaciones de estas restricciones deben informarse a Austin 3-1-1. Austin Water aprecia su apoyo para reducir el uso de agua para ayudar a estabilizar las plantas de tratamiento de agua de Austin.
Las restricciones de emergencia de uso de agua son necesarias para garantizar que haya agua disponible para la extinci"n de incendios y necesidades bsicas para la comunidad. Las inundaci"nes hist"ricas que fluyen en los lagos de suministro de agua de nuestra regi"n, y los lagos Highland, contienen niveles mucho ms altos de escombros, limo y lodo. Como resultado, la utilidad de agua de Austin est experimentando una capacidad reducida de agua tratada.
Austin Water ha emitido un aviso de hervir agua en toda la ciudad para todos los clientes. Para garantizar que el agua sea segura, se les pide a los clientes que hiervan el agua que se utiliza para beber, cocinar o consumo de hielo durante tres minutos.
El aviso de hervir agua en toda la ciudad es adicional a las medidas tomadas por la Ciudad durante la ºltima semana para garantizar la salud y la seguridad de nuestra comunidad durante este evento de inundaci"n. Estos incluyen la activaci"n del Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia del Condado de Austin-Travis para monitorear de cerca la evoluci"n de las condiciones, cerrar las v­as navegables de la Ciudad, cerrar los parques y las instalaciones recreativas a lo largo de las v­as fluviales de la Ciudad, monitorear y administrar los cruces de aguas bajas y trabajar con nuestros vecinos al oeste de Austin para responder a sus propias emergencias de inundaciones.
El Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia del Condado de Austin-Travis permanecer activo durante el resto de esta situaci"n y proporcionar actualizaciones a medida que cambien las condiciones.
Para mas informacion, visite austintexas.gov/BoilH2O
BREAKING UPDATE: Austin now producing more water than consuming, officials say
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 01:35
Kelsey Bradshaw @kbrad5Mark D. Wilson @MDWilsonSA Taylor Goldenstein @taygoldensteinTuesday Oct 23, 2018 at 7:39 AM Oct 23, 2018 at 7:12 PM
3:55 p.m. update: City leaders say Austin Water is producing more water than it's using, allowing reservoirs that were draining faster than they could be replenished to begin filling again.
Austin Water issued an emergency call to residents on Monday afternoon, urging everyone to cut personal water consumption by 15 to 20 percent to keep water reservoirs for running dry.
''The good news is that you heard us and it is working,'' City Manager Spencer Cronk said.
Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said all three of the utility's water treatment plants are running, but they are operating at only a third of their normal production capacity.
Even at that deficit, the city isn't upside down on water production anymore, officials said.
Mayor Steve Adler joined others in saying that while the city is headed in the right direction, it is still critical for people to continue to conserve water in any way they can.
''The more people conserve the sooner we are going to get out of this situation that we are in,'' he said.
Officials say they expect the problem to persist for days, not weeks, and that earlier reports from Travis County officials that Austin could be in for up to 14 days without water weren't correct.
Adler also said that there is no water shortage in Austin, just a lack of space. He said stores that run out of water will be restocked, and those who can't find any today will likely be able to pick some up Wednesday.
12:35 p.m. update: Austin Water officials said they only think residents will be asked to boil water for a ''handful of days," a much shorter estimate than indicated in an earlier statement by Travis County emergency officials who said they're planning for up to two weeks without clean water.
''Much of that estimate, however, depends on variables such as weather and consumption demands,'' said Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros. ''We continue to make long-term plans in the event this situation isn't quickly resolved. We will continue to monitor the situation and ask that (the) public continue to be diligent in reducing their water usage.''
Earlier in the morning, county officials said they were preparing for 10 to 14 days of the boil order. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said that estimate is a worst-case scenario, and that the ban could be lifted sooner.
10 a.m. update: The Travis County emergency management coordinator says the boil-water order in Austin could last 10 to 14 days as the city's water treatment system tries to restore normal output.
Chief Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Carter briefed Travis County commissioners Tuesday morning on Austin's water situation, which he said is affecting at least 888,000 people in the city.
"Right now we're still pushing abut 27,000 cubic feet per second of water down the Colorado River as the LCRA attempts to lower Lake Travis. So it's going to be a while before it gets low and the lake '... begins to settle down," he said.
Floodwaters have inundated the Highland Lakes with mud and silt, slowing down the water treatment process and limiting the amount of clean water available to customers. On Monday, Austin Water urged its customers to boil tap water before consuming it.
The alert triggered a run on bottled water at Austin-area stores, and shipments of water came in from San Antonio to help stabilize the system.
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said if you can boil water, you should opt to do so instead of buying tons of bottled water, which should be reserved for vulnerable populations.
We're a community of sharing, not hoarding," she said.
Austin Public Health is providing education to restaurants and other vendors on how to continue operations safely. Information is available on their website, Facebook and Twitter or by calling Austin Environmental Health at 512-978-0300.
Anyone else with questions about the boil-water order can call 311 or visit the Travis County emergency information website.
Carter said the area will see more rain on Wednesday.
"Hopefully it won't result in too much of a problem in our area, but to the west, the grounds are really saturated. Any spike in rain could cause a problem," he said.
Follow @taygoldenstein for more updates from the Travis County commissioner's court meeting, as they discuss the water situation.
Carter says the Austin boil notice situation could go on 10-14 days as the water system tries to settle.#AustinWater
'-- Taylor Goldenstein (@taygoldenstein)October 23, 2018
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Earlier: Drinking water for more than a million Austin Water customers remained under a boil notice on Tuesday as the city of Austin placed outdoor water use under heavy restrictions.
After historic flooding in the Hill Country watersheds and Central Texas last week, water-supply lakes became muddied with silt and debris that strained Austin's water treatment system, city officials have said. The muddy water required more time to filter and, ultimately, made it tougher for the utility to keep up with demand for treated water.
According to Austin Water, the city's water utility, water from its taps needs to be boiled for three minutes before it can be used for drinking, cooking or making ice. The water can still be used for bathing and doing laundry.
Austin officials also called upon residents to tamp down water use as treatment plants struggle to maintain supplies for basic needs and firefighting, they said. Austinites should cut personal water use by 15 to 20 percent and avoid using water outside homes so the city does not run out of water, officials said.
Until further notice, Austin Water says customers may not:
Use water for irrigation
Wash vehicles
Add water to a pool
Operate an outdoor ornamental fountain or pond
Officials are unsure when the boil-water notice and outdoor restrictions will be lifted.
Shop '' Helm
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 18:47
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Water Sources for the City of Austin | Austin Water Utility | AustinTexas.gov - The Official Website of the City of Austin
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 16:45
You are here Water Sources for the City of Austin Customers of the City of Austin Water Utility (Utility) receive their drinking water from two water treatment plants that pump surface water from the Colorado River as it flows into Lake Austin. The City of Austin treats and filters the water according to federal and state standards to remove any possible harmful contaminants.
The sources of drinking water nationwide (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and can be polluted by animals or human activity.
LIVE BLOG: Boil water notice may last 10-14 days, county says
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 16:19
Long lines for water at the Costco store at 4301 W. William Cannon Dr. in south Austin on Oct. 22, 2018. (Courtesy/Dave Pedley)
Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.Long lines for water at the Costco store at 4301 W. William Cannon Dr. in south Austin on Oct. 22, 2018. (Courtesy/Dave Pedley)
Related stories AUSTIN (KXAN) '-- For the first time in its history, Austin Water issued a citywide boil water notice starting early Monday morning for Austin residents due to high levels of silt from floodwaters.
Water used for drinking, cooking or ice should be boiled for three minutes until further notice, Austin Water said. Follow this story for updates.
Areas affected by boil water notice: Austin Travis County Water District 10 Wells Branch MUD North Austin MUD #1 Northtown MUD West Travis County PUA Sunset Valley Rollingwood Mid-Texas Utilities public water system in southwest Austin 10:43 a.m. '-- Travis County prepares for boil water notice to last up to 2 weeksInitial estimates are that the boil water situation could go on for 10-14 days as the water system tries to settle, said Eric Carter, the chief emergency management coordinator for Travis County.
Carter gave the estimate to the Travis County Commissioners Court Tuesday morning. Hector Nieto, a spokesperson for Travis County, said officials are making preparations for a boil water notice that lasts two weeks.
"We aren't necessarily at a water shortage," Carter said. "We just have a situation where we have to take an extra step to make sure our water is safe for us to drink."
Carter said around 880,000 users are affected by the boil water notice and noted people can still shower and still wash hands.
10:07 a.m. '-- Update from Williamson CountyA Williamson County judge has issued a disaster declaration for the area because of "severe weather, flash flooding, and potable water outages."
The emergency operations center in the county has been activated and will stay that way until the boil water notice affecting those who get water from Austin Water is lifted. The county estimates 80,000 people in its boundaries are under the boil water notice, and 25 schools in Leander ISD and Round Rock ISD is affected.
The state of disaster is set to last seven days unless continued.
10:03 a.m. '-- Update from LCRA and Austin Fire DepartmentAll floodgates at Buchanan Dam are closed, while floodgate operations are still going on at Inks, Wirtz, Starcke, Mansfield and Tom Miller dams. The Lower Colorado River Authority expects to close floodgates at Wirtz and Starcke later this week, and it doesn't believe it will have to open more floodgates on Mansfield Dam at this time.
The Highland Lakes are still closed to boaters at this time. Austin Fire Department also extended its waterways ban until Monday.
9:25 a.m. '-- Update from Travis County WCID 10Just like the City of Austin, Travis County WCID 10 is urging people to conserve water. It receives its water from the city and is reporting Austin is trying to resolve a low-pressure issue.
"You are requested to immediately reduce your normal water use by 20%," it wrote, asking people to have shorter or fewer showers, and hold off on running the dishwasher or washer.
Mandatory stage 4 water restrictions are also in effect for Water District 10, which prohibits all outdoor watering:
Water use for irrigation, or testing irrigation equipment Washing vehicles, including at a commercial car wash facility Washing pavement or other surfaces Adding water to a pool or spa Conduct foundation watering, or Operate an ornamental fountain or pond, other than aeration necessary to support aquatic life Any other use not necessary for the protection of public health and safety. 7:45 a.m. '-- Update from AISDClasses will resume as normal, but the Austin Independent School District is asking families to send students with water. Below are precautions the district took yesterday that will continue today, per its website:
Campuses will continue to accept donations of sealed, bottled water. Drinking fountains were covered or closed to prevent use by staff or students. Campus staff provided boiled and bottled water to any students in need. Cafeteria menus were adjusted to include hot vegetables, canned fruit and fresh fruits with peels such as orange and bananas. No salad bars were available, but baby carrots and precut celery are safe and will continue to be served. All water used for cooking, washing produce, washing hands and making ice is being brought to a vigorous boil before use. Kitchen staff are working to conserve as much water as possible. 6:43 a.m. '-- Morning update on the water situation
5:18 a.m. Tuesday '-- Water at grocery storesThe Hancock H-E-B reports it has water, and another trailer full of water should reach the store by 6 a.m. Another one is planned later in the day.
The Walmart on Ben White Boulevard is sold out of water but expecting another delivery. The Sunset Valley Walmart is sold out of water as well.
10:55 p.m. Monday '-- Update from the City of AustinThe City of Austin said in an evening press release, all residents are asked to reduce their personal consumption by 15-20 percent. They state that all outdoor water use in the city of Austin is prohibited.
According to the press release, violations of the water restrictions should be reported to Austin 311.
8:53 p.m. '-- Update from Austin Water PIO According to Austin Water, the city's water levels are reaching a critical stage, and if people keep using water at the rate they have been, the water supply could run out.
7:15 p.m. '-- Update from Eanes ISDEanes ISD said in an evening statement that it has the necessary resources to stay open with the boil water notice in place. If their situation changes later in the week, the district will send out an update.
4:49 p.m. '-- Update from AISDAustin Independent School District says, as of now, school is still scheduled as normal for Tuesday. An update will be sent out if that changes, the district said.
Water was delivered to campuses and school staff supplied any student in need with water. Campuses also accepted donations of bottled water.
4:30 p.m. '-- CDC recommendationsThe Centers for Disease Control has a list of recommendations when a boil water notice is in effect, including instructions for cooking food, disinfecting water and how long to boil water for (3 minutes).
Even if using a water filter, it is still important to boil. According to the CDC, most household water filters do not remove bacteria or viruses.
Read the full list of recommendations here.
1:45 p.m. '-- Red Cross warns about sanitizerThe Central Texas Red Cross warned those relying on hand sanitizer during the boil water notice that while it kills salmonella and e.coli, sanitizer will not kill cryptosporidiosis, a diarrheal disease caused by parasites.
The H-E-B grocery store at Slaughter Lane and Manchaca Road announces it is out of bottled water on Oct. 22, 2018. (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala)
Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The H-E-B grocery store at Slaughter Lane and Manchaca Road announces it is out of bottled water on Oct. 22, 2018. (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala) The Red Cross recommends vigorous hand washing with soap instead of hand sanitizer.
1:35 p.m. '-- Starbucks only selling packaged itemsA Starbucks spokesperson says stores in the Austin-area will remain open but are no longer serving handcrafted beverages during the boil water notice. The stores will only sell bottled and packaged goods for now.
1:18 p.m. '-- AISD middle school sports canceled MondayAll Austin Independent School District middle school athletics have been canceled for Monday night due to the boil water situation. Other after-school activities will continue as scheduled, the district said.
AISD is urging parents to send their children to school with enough water for the day. Cafeteria operations have also been affected. Schools have closed their salad bars and are using canned fruit instead of fresh fruit.
1:11 p.m. '-- Animal shelters in need of helpAustin Animal Shelter, Austin Pets Alive! and the Austin Humane Society say they have urgent requests for help in getting water to the animals in their care.
Visit this story for information on how to donate clean water, your time or make a monetary donation to offset the cost of buying water.
1:04 p.m. '-- Emergency water use restrictions issuedThe city of Austin says there is an urgent need to reduce the demand on the city's water supply to allow treatment plant operations to stabilize.
Until further notice, all outdoor water use is prohibited.
Violations should be reported to Austin 3-1-1. The city says the emergency restrictions are necessary to ensure water is available for firefighting and basic needs.
12:51 p.m. '-- Video: What we know about the boil water notice The latest on Austin's boil water notice
11:58 a.m. '-- Water on the way to Randalls and H-E-B storesRandalls Food Markets says it has called in all resources to get water to its stores in Austin as soon as possible. Trucks are on their way from the company's Fort Worth distribution center as well as from all vendor sources available.
H-E-B said it has more than 100 trailers of water heading to its Austin stores Monday.
11:54 a.m. Monday '-- Delays to elective surgeriesSt. David's HealthCare has decided to delay elective surgeries out of an abundance of caution until the network of hospitals can better understand the availability of additional water. St. David's also said they are looking at potential solutions for water use as part of patient care.
All hospital-based elective surgeries are expected to resume as normal Monday afternoon, while elective surgeries at St. David's surgery centers are expected to resume Tuesday.
"We are working with regional suppliers to provide additional water for our patients, staff and hospital operations, and we will continue to collaborate with local officials and national experts to ensure patient comfort and safety," said Dr. Kenneth W. Mitchell, the chief medical officer of St. David's HealthCare.
Seton Healthcare Family said hospital procedures and patient care continue with minimal disruption. Elective surgeries at Dell Children's are continuing on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of doctors.
Voting rights become a flashpoint in Georgia governor's race - The Washington Post
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 15:06
ATLANTA '-- Marsha Appling-Nunez was showing the college students she teaches how to check online if they're registered to vote when she made a troubling discovery. Despite being an active Georgia voter who had cast ballots in recent elections, she was no longer registered.
''I was kind of shocked,'' said Appling-Nunez, who moved from one Atlanta suburb to another in May and believed she had successfully changed her address on the voter rolls.
''I've always voted. I try to not miss any elections, including local ones,'' Appling-Nunez said.
She tried re-registering, but with about one month left before a November election that will decide a governor's race and some competitive U.S. House races, Appling-Nunez's application is one of over 53,000 sitting on hold with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's office. And unlike Appling-Nunez, many people on that list '-- which is predominantly black, according to an analysis by The Associated Press '-- may not even know their voter registration has been held up.
Tuesday is Georgia's deadline to register and be eligible to vote in the November General Election.
Kemp, who's also the Republican candidate for governor, is in charge of elections and voter registration in Georgia.
His Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Stacey Abrams, and voting rights advocacy groups charge that Kemp is systematically using his office to suppress votes and tilt the election, and that his policies disproportionately affect black and minority voters.
Kemp denies it vehemently.
But through a process that Kemp calls voter roll maintenance and his opponents call voter roll purges, Kemp's office has cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012. Nearly 670,000 registrations were cancelled in 2017 alone.
In a recent television appearance on Comedy Central's ''The Daily Show With Trevor Noah'' Abrams called Kemp ''a remarkable architect of voter suppression.'' That's become a rallying cry for Democrats in the governor's race, which recent public polling shows in a statistical dead heat.
Kemp, meanwhile, says Abrams and allied liberal activists are twisting his record of guarding Georgia elections against voter fraud.
His campaign spokesman Ryan Mahoney said in a statement that because of Kemp, ''it has never been easier to vote in our state'' and pointed to a new online voter registration system and a student engagement program implemented under his tenure.
''Kemp is fighting to protect the integrity of our elections and ensure that only legal citizens cast a ballot,'' Mahoney said.
Two main policies overseen by Kemp have drawn criticism and legal challenges: Georgia's ''exact match'' registration verification process and the mass cancellation of inactive voter registrations.
According to records obtained from Kemp's office through a public records request, Appling-Nunez's application '--like many of the 53,000 registrations on hold with Kemp's office '-- was flagged because it ran afoul of the state's ''exact match'' verification process.
Under the policy, information on voter applications must precisely match information on file with the Georgia Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. Election officials can place non-matching applications on hold.
An application could be held because of an entry error or a dropped hyphen in a last name, for example.
Appling-Nunez says she never saw any notice from Kemp's office indicating a problem with her application.
An analysis of the records obtained by The Associated Press reveals racial disparity in the process. Georgia's population is approximately 32 percent black, according to the U.S. Census, but the list of voter registrations on hold with Kemp's office is nearly 70 percent black.
Kemp's office blamed that disparity on the New Georgia Project, a voter registration group founded by Abrams in 2013.
Kemp accuses the organization of being sloppy in registering voters, and says they submitted inadequate forms for a batch of applicants that was predominantly black. His office has said the New Georgia Project used primarily paper forms and ''did not adequately train canvassers to ensure legible, complete forms ....''
His office says ''the law applies equally across all demographics,'' but these numbers became skewed by ''the higher usage of one method of registration among one particular demographic group.''
Voters whose applications are frozen in ''pending'' status have 26 months to fix any issues before their application is canceled, and can still cast a provisional ballot.
But critics say the system has a high error rate and decry the racial disparity that it produces.
''We've shown that this process disproportionately prevents minority applicants from getting on the voter registration rolls,'' Julie Houk, special counsel for the Washington based Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in an interview. With that in mind, she called it ''kind of astounding'' that Georgia legislators wrote it into state law in 2017.
Houk's group wrote to Kemp in July threatening legal action if ''exact match'' wasn't ended.
Kemp's aggressive maintenance of the voter list has also garnered the threat of legal action.
His office says that they simply ''conduct regular list maintenance of the voter rolls to ensure election integrity'' as required by federal and state law. ''All of the affected records were inactive as a result of returned mail, National Change of Address, and 'no contact' list maintenance procedures,'' it said.
Kemp dismissed and derided the legal threat targeting the ''exact match'' policy, issuing a statement saying that with Election Day coming up, ''it's high time for another frivolous lawsuit from liberal activist groups.''
His office said that since January 2014, elections officials have processed over 6.4 million voter registrations and less than 1 percent remain in pending status.
State Rep. Barry Fleming, who authored the state law enabling ''exact match,'' said in a statement that it's authorized under federal law, and courts have upheld a similar law in Florida.
But Appling-Nunez said it's important for every Georgian's vote, including hers, to be counted in November.
''If you don't like what's happening you either have to vote to change it or get out there and change it yourself,'' she said. ''A life of politics is not for me so I have to support those who are fighting the good fight.''
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
iHeart To Host Podcasting Awards - Radio Ink
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 14:54
The first iHeartRadio Podcast Awards will be held at the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles Friday, January 18, 2019 at 8 p.m. Listeners will vote for their favorite podcasts online in 22 categories. Listeners are allowed to vote five times every day. There will also be a panel of judges from Gimlet, iHeartMedia, NPR, Parcast, PRX, Tenderfoot TV, Wondery and others who will pick winners in five categories.
The awards will be hosted by Holly Frey, co-host of Stuff You Missed in History Class, iHeart host Charlamagne Tha God, and Bobby Bones.
The 90-minute event will include a live audience with a live stream hosted by on-air and TV personality Mario Lopez. Presenters include Payne Lindsay (Up & Vanished), Aaron Mahnke (Lore), and Jake Brennan (Disgraceland), with more to be announced. Atlanta Monster, Dirty John, Hardcore History, Joe Rogan, Radiolab, Serial, Slow Burn, Stuff You Should Know, The Daily, and The Habitat are nominated for Podcast of the Year. Surprisingly, Adam Curry's No Agenda podcast is not up for any awards. Curry, who hosts No Agenda with John C. Dvorak, has hosted the popular podcast for many years.
iHeart says nominees include podcasts from all creators, distributors, and platforms '-- not just those developed by or available on the iHeartRadio Podcast Network.
The panel of podcast industry leaders, that will determine the winner in the five major categories, are Marc Smerling, Crimetown; Jake Brennan, Disgraceland; Alex Blumberg, Gimlet; Conal Byrne and Chris Peterson, iHeartMedia; Aaron Mahnke, Lore; Anya Grundmann, NPR; Max Cutler, Parcast; Owen Grover, Pocket Casts; Maggie Taylor, PRX; Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark, Stuff You Should Know; Holly Frey, Stuff You Missed in History Class; Donald Albright and Payne Lindsay, Tenderfoot TV; Sim Sarna, Unqualified Media; and Hernan Lopez, Wondery.
Those five major categories are: Podcast of the Year, Breakout Podcast, Best Branded Podcast, Best Social Impact from Podcast/Host, and Podcast Innovator Award.
Fans can vote for their favorite podcasts beginning Monday, October 22 through January 6, 2019 online and socially across Twitter and Instagram. Visit iHeartPodcastAwards.com for a complete list of nominees and voting details. Winners will be announced during the live show and stream filled with unique celebrations from the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles.
Earlier this year, Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane announced his 2018 Podcast Award Winners.
Billionaire George Soros Earmarks $500 Million For Migrants And Refugees
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 13:49
Billionaire George Soros announced he plans to invest $500 million on work opportunities for migrants and refugees. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)
Hedge fund billionaire George Soros said on Tuesday that he is giving $500 million of his nonprofit organization's funds to be invested on work opportunities for migrants and refugees, especially those arriving into Europe.
Soros' announcement, made in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, comes as the United Nations convenes for its General Assembly in New York City. On Monday it hosted its first forum for Heads of State to discuss how to handle what's been dubbed the world's biggest refugee and migrant crisis since World War II. According to the U.N., 65.3 million people have been displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution in 2015. Since the crisis escalated last year, Europe has been struggling with how to handle the inflow of migrants.
"I will invest in startups, established companies, social-impact initiatives and businesses founded by migrants and refugees themselves," Soros wrote. "Although my main concern is to help migrants and refugees arriving in Europe, I will be looking for good investment ideas that will benefit migrants all over the world."
Soros, 86, is a refugee himself. He fled Hungary in 1946 and spent his teenage years as a migrant in London. He worked as a railway porter and waiter to put himself through the London School of Economics and later moved to New York where he got his start working on Wall Street. In 1969 he established his own hedge fund, the Quantum Fund, with $12 million. Today Forbes estimates Soros' net worth at $24.9 billion.
Through his Open Society foundations, Soros has said he plans to give away more than $11 billion in his lifetime. According to Soros, the latest $500 million investment earmarked toward refugees and migrants will be owned by his nonprofit foundation, and will be investments rather than grants. " They are intended to be successful'--because I want to show how private capital can play a constructive role helping migrants'--and any profits will go to fund programs at the Open Society Foundations, including programs that benefit migrants and refugees," Soros wrote.
Over the past several years Soros has made several gifts toward organizations aimed at supporting immigrants, including the Migration Policy Institute, which analyzes the movement of people worldwide, and the National Immigration Law Center, dedicated to advancing the rights of low-income immigrants. Soros has also been an outspoken critic of Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump and his anti-immigration rhetoric, saying in January that "Donald Trump is doing the work of ISIS." In March, he pledged $5 million through a super PAC called Immigrant Voters Win PAC, aiming to mobilize the vote of Hispanic and Latino voters against Trump.
BREAKING: BITCOIN SEC ETF MEETING: CBOE, VanEck, SolidX All Meet With SEC Commissioner Elad Roisman; Approval Confidence 'High' - Abacus Journal - Cryptocurrency News
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 13:46
On October 9th new SEC Commissioner Elad Roisman met with representatives from Van Eck, SolidX, and the CBOE to discuss the proposed Bitcoin ETF.
Roisman is the first commissioner to publicly meet with representatives of the three groups. The previous presentation was made to SEC staff, specifically the Office of Market Supervision and Division of Trading and Markets.
**the bulk of this report was provided by @CryptoQF a trusted crypto data and analysis account**
In the meeting with Commissioner Roisman arguments were made that the Bitcoin ETF should be approved as previous issues identified by the SEC are now resolved. Directly from the presentation:
'There now exists a significant regulated derivatives market for bitcoin.
'Relevant markets '' Cboe, bitcoin futures, OTC desks '' are regulated.
'Concerns around price manipulation have been mitigated, consistent with approval of prior commodity-based ETPs.
'Cboe's rules are designed to surveil for potential manipulation of Trust shares.
'Promotes investor protection.
**Attached are the notes for that meeting:
In September, Republican Elad Roisman was confirmed for a seat on the SEC Commission. Prior to his appointment, the commission had only 4 of the possible 5 seats filled.
Roisman is rumored to be friendly to crypto and free markets, similar to Commissioner Hester Pierce. Given Pierce was the only ''yes'' vote, approval would still require defectors.
Interestingly, a current ''no'' vote in Commissioner Kara Stein will disappear in December as her term expiration requires her to leave the Commission.
Democrat Allison Lee is rumored to be her replacement, but the gap between Stein's departure and Lee's appointment could be a potential opening for the ETF approval.
This leads us to our previous conversations with sources at the CBOE and their continued confidence in an eventual approval:
''The VanEck ETF is perfectly approvable if you have been reading the tea leaves in the rejection language at the SEC connected to previous submissions. It checks every box, as I've said before, and I'd be shocked, SHOCKED, if it didn't win approval. Now that approval will probably come with a bunch of dissenting language amongst the respective approving members '' but it will still get approved. Not backing down in any way, in fact, I'd double down on it at the moment.''
'''...the SEC is first and foremost interested in investor protection with these types of new asset class submissions. VanEck has that issue covered in spades with zero leverage and accredited investor protections built into the product. That will win the day, eventually. Expect the rhetoric to ramp up and 'warring factions' to become more visible leading up to any decision early next year, but I remain imminently confident in an approval.''
Our sources at the CBOE have been consistent and resolute in believing that the Van Eck product has been and is the most likely candidate to make it to the finish line. Every step along the way the only question that they've grappled with is timing; never with the likelihood of approval.
A Bitcoin ETF should closely follow the Bakkt launch, the continued maturity of Bitcoin futures markets, Fidelity's crypto initiative and Nasdaq's push into the crypto ecosystem. Given all of that activity, a Bitcoin ETF approval in late Q1 of 2019 seems reasonable, even inevitable.
Sourced: https://www.sec.gov/comments/sr-cboebzx-2018-040/srcboebzx2018040-4507040-175984.pdf
Death of Jamal Khashoggi: the Germany suspend its arms sales to Saudi Arabia
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 13:21
Condamnant avec la plus grande fermet(C) >> la mort du journaliste saoudien en Turquie, Angela Merkel a d(C)cid(C) de ne plus autoriser de contrats d'armement avec Riyad.
Tant que les circonstances exactes de la mort du journaliste Jamal Khashoggi dans le consulat saoudien Istanbul n'auront pas (C)t(C) (C)claircies, la chanceli¨re allemande, Angela Merkel, s'est dite, dimanche 21 octobre, d'accord avec tous ceux qui disent qu'il ne peut y avoir d'exportations d'armes dans la situation o¹ nous nous trouvons, mªme si ces ventes sont d'ampleur limit(C)e >>.La veille, les autorit(C)s saoudiennes avaient admis >> que le journaliste Jamal Khashoggi, critique du pouvoir et exil(C) aux Etats-Unis, (C)tait bien mort dans l'enceinte du consulat saoudien en Turquie, (C)voquant une rixe qui aurait mal tourn(C) >>. Angela Merkel a condamn(C) avec la plus grande fermet(C) >> la mort du journaliste, en soulignant qu'il restait des choses qui doivent ªtre (C)claircies de mani¨re urgente >> par Riyad.
Lire aussi : Affaire Khashoggi : la bavure >>, une th¨se bancale pour d(C)douaner le prince h(C)ritier saoudien
Berlin a approuv(C) cette ann(C)e l'exportation de plus de 400 millions d'euros d'armement en Arabie saoudite, qui est le deuxi¨me march(C) dans le monde pour l'Allemagne apr¨s l'Alg(C)rie. Le ministre de l'(C)conomie allemand, Peter Altmaier, a d(C)clar(C) que le gouvernement prendrait tr¨s prochainement >> la d(C)cision d'annuler ou pas ces commandes.
L'accord de coalition sign(C) en mars par Angela Merkel et par ses partenaires lors de la constitution d'un nouveau gouvernement pr(C)voyait d(C)j un arrªt des ventes d'armes aux pays impliqu(C)s dans des conflits militaires, ce qui est le cas de l'Arabie saoudite, au Y(C)men. L'accord donn(C) malgr(C) tout aux exportations vers Ryad avait provoqu(C) des protestations du partenaire social-d(C)mocrate de la coalition.
Lire aussi : L'affaire Khashoggi p¨se sur l'attractivit(C) (C)conomique de l'Arabie saoudite
Appel aux Europ(C)ensPieter Altmaier a appel(C) lundi les autres pays europ(C)ens ne plus autoriser d'exportations d'armes en Arabie saoudite. Ce n'est que si tous les pays europ(C)ens se mettent d'accord que cela impressionnera le gouvernement de Ryad >>, a d(C)clar(C) sur la cha®ne de t(C)l(C)vision allemande ZDF M. Altmaier, pour qui les explications apport(C)es >> jusqu'ici par l'Arabie saoudite ne sont pas satisfaisantes >>.
Il n'y a aucun effet positif si nous restons les seuls arrªter les exportations et si en mªme temps d'autres pays comblent le trou >>, a-t-il argu(C).
Lire aussi : De la disparition la crise diplomatique : l'affaire Khashoggi en quatre dates
Son appel a provoqu(C) des r(C)actions en Espagne, o¹ le parti Podemos, formation de gauche radicale alli(C)e du gouvernement, a r(C)clam(C) lundi l'ex(C)cutif de Pedro Sanchez de stopper les ventes d'armes au r(C)gime saoudien.
En septembre, le gouvernement espagnol avait suscit(C) de vives critiques pour avoir d(C)cid(C) de maintenir la livraison de 400 bombes guidage laser l'Arabie saoudite. Il avait souhait(C) pourtant y renoncer quelques jours plus t´t apr¨s des bombardements au Y(C)men de la coalition emmen(C)e par Ryad qui avaient tu(C) des dizaines d'enfants.
L'Allemagne dit d(C)sormais ce que nous soutenons depuis longtemps Unidos Podemos [Podemos et ses alli(C)s] : les pays de l'UE doivent arrªter de vendre des armes au r(C)gime saoudien >>, a (C)crit le num(C)ro un du parti, Pablo Iglesias, sur son compte Twitter.
Lo que llevamos tanto tiempo diciendo desde Unidos Podemos ahora lo dice tambi(C)n Alemania: los pa­ses de la UE debe'... https://t.co/sFLzKoBBjk
'-- Pablo_Iglesias_ (@Pablo Iglesias) Plus tard dans la journ(C)e, la premi¨re ministre britannique, Theresa May, a d(C)clar(C) devant la chambre des d(C)put(C)s : Je suis s>>re que tout le Parlement se joint moi pour condamner le meurtre de Jamal Khashoggi avec la plus grande fermet(C) possible. Nous devons conna®tre toute la v(C)rit(C) sur ce qui s'est pass(C). >>
Rien ne restera secret >>De son c´t(C), la Turquie a assur(C) lundi que rien ne restera[it] secret >> dans l'enquªte sur le meurtre par des agents saoudiens du journaliste Jamal Khashoggi dans le consulat de son pays Istanbul.
Depuis le d(C)but, la ligne de notre pr(C)sident est claire : rien ne restera secret concernant cette affaire. Sur le plan judiciaire, nous irons au fond de cette affaire >>, a d(C)clar(C) le porte-parole de la pr(C)sidence, Ibrahim Kalin, d(C)non§ant le meurtre d(C)testable >> de Jamal Khashoggi.
Le porte-parole de M. Erdogan a (C)galement d(C)clar(C) que la Turquie ne voudrait pas >> que ses relations avec l'Arabie saoudite, qualifi(C)e de pays fr¨re et ami >>, ptissent de cette affaire qui a choqu(C) la communaut(C) internationale.
Par cons(C)quent, une grande responsabilit(C) incombe aux autorit(C)s saoudiennes dans l'(C)claircissement de cette affaire >>, a ajout(C) M. Kalin, qui s'exprimait Ankara l'issue d'un conseil des ministres.
Suspected explosive device found at George Soros' New York home | Reuters
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 13:09
(Reuters) - A package containing what appeared to be an explosive device was found in a mail box outside the New York residence of billionaire financier George Soros on Monday, police said.
Soros, one of the world's biggest donors to liberal groups and causes, has become a hate figure for right-wing campaigners in the United States and eastern Europe, and the target of a hostile media campaign by the nationalist government in his native Hungary.
An employee at the home in Katonah, New York, opened the package, revealing what appeared to be an explosive device. Soros was not home at the time, the New York Times reported.
FILE PHOTO: Business magnate George Soros arrives to speak at the Open Russia Club in London, Britain June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File PhotoAuthorities were contacted at around 3:45 p.m., the Town of Bedford Police Department said in a statement.
Bomb squad technicians detonated the package in a nearby wooded area, police told the newspaper.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into the incident, police said.
A Hungarian government spokesman said: ''The matter falls under the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities. After all, the incident occurred there.'' He declined to comment further.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; additional reporting by Gergely Szakacs in Budapest; Editing by John Stonestreet
InterContinental Exchange Reveals Launch Date For Bitcoin Futures In The Platform Bakkt - Toshi Times
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 13:08
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) is the parent company of New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and have announced a launch date for bitcoin futures on its platform Bakkt, according to a document, that was released on October 22.
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) is a Fortune 500 and Fortune Future 50 company formed in the year 2000 to modernize markets. ICE serves customers by operating the exchanges, clearing houses and information services they rely upon to invest, trade and manage risk across global financial and commodity markets. A leader in market data, ICE Data Services, serves the information and connectivity needs across virtually all asset classes. ICE is the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, which has helped companies raise more capital than any other exchange in the world, driving economic growth and transforming markets.
The company has now created Bakkt, that is designed to enable consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets seamlessly. Formed with the purpose of bringing trust, efficiency and commerce to digital assets, Bakkt seeks to develop open technology to connect the existing market and merchant infrastructure to the blockchain. The Bakkt project was introduced a while back and already have partners such as Microsoft and Starbucks.
The most recent news states that ICE will list Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contracts for trading on December 12 th , 2018. These futures are different from the ones that have been released earlier since they will be physically backed by bitcoins.
'' Each futures contract calls for delivery of one bitcoin held in the Bakkt Digital Asset Warehouse and will trade in U.S. dollar terms. One daily contract will be listed for trading each Exchange Business Day.''
The document adds that additional information will be available closer to the launch date.
Earlier this year Bakkt stated that the physically backed bitcoin futures contract would be traded versus fiat currencies, namely USD, GBP and EUR to start with. We are now getting closer to the launch date, and a few days ago news came out that Bakkt has hired Conbase's Adam White, who has been an integral part of Coinbase growth. Furthermore, Bakkt has extensive ties to various Wall Street institutions, because Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) operates 12 different regulated exchanges and marketplaces, including the New York Stock Exchange.
Many are waiting for how this is going to be played out and how the launch will impact the market. In a few weeks, we will know.
Image Source: ''Flickr''
Dennis Sahlstr¶m has been trading and investing since 2012 and has for the last two years been consistently profitable. He has been in the crypto- and blockchain space since the middle of 2017 and realized its potential for our world, not least how it is transforming the society we live in. He has now created an education platform, together with the wealth coach Marcus the Maria. They teach regular people how to invest and trade in the cryptocurrency market with proven strategies. If you want to learn more and feel like its time to get into this new asset class, download our free book and register to the next live training to get your future in cryptocurrencies started.
Use Coupon Code: "News" and Get 20% OFF on Your Order!
Amazon-funded startup debuts augmented reality glasses - Vox
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:56
Would you look at your phone less if your notifications were available without it, hovering in the air just a few feet away from your face? Would you buy a pair of glasses, even if you don't actually need glasses for medical reasons, to achieve this state of always-on but possibly slightly less demanding engagement with your digital life?
Focals, the augmented reality glasses released Monday by the startup Thalmic Labs '-- now going by ''North,'' because it sounds more like a ''fashion and lifestyle'' brand and less like a tech company '-- are a response to these odd hypothetical questions.
There's no screen in Focals, just light filtering through, according to founder Stephen Lake, ''a holographic lens that never existed before.'' The holographic display appears at arm's length, a friendly and colorful interruption. It's off by default, and wakes up only when it has something urgent to tell you, or if you ask it to.
You can click through suggested auto-response text messages, into more detailed summaries of the weather, or through your calendar to see where your next appointment is even while you're in your current one. You do so using the paired black or copper ring (called the Loop) on your index finger, which is equipped with a little joystick.
An example of the turn-by-turn navigation you can see in Focals.North What Focals can do is limited, intentionally. The glasses have a custom version of Amazon's Alexa voice assistant that you have to wake for it to talk or listen. They can show you text messages (or Slack notifications, if you fiddle with the settings), turn-by-turn navigation, reminders from your calendar, and the weather. If you want to talk to Alexa, it can call you an Uber, browse headlines, or control your smart home devices.
North's go-to line is that the company is ''committed to building a future where technology is there when you need it and gone when you don't, hidden by design.''
''Digital presence is just as important as physical presence,'' North designer Marie Stipancik says. ''But we want people to live with their heads up.'' Her job was making the glasses look like something a ''professional with a busy personal life'' would want to wear all day.
''Digital presence is just as important as physical presence, but we want people to live with their heads up''
There are only two places in the world where you can buy Focals. The first is in Toronto; the second is in Cobble Hill, the neighborhood of Brooklyn currently best known for its Trader Joe's and its rich people (including Daniel Craig). Secretly, North has been outfitting a storefront at 178 Court Street over the past several months. The company is designing a high-end eyewear shop in which it hopes to show you the future, with the help of $136 million in venture funding, shelled out in large part by Intel Capital and Amazon. Retail rents in the vicinity are about $134 per square foot.
Focals go for $999 each, and come in tortoise-shell, grey, or black, in a ''classic'' or round style. They're custom-made for your face, and you must go into one of the two North-owned stores for a scan of your skull before they can be built.
The glasses look good from the front and awkwardly bulky from the side, mostly on the wearer's right side, where there is a tiny projector positioned on their temple. (According to Lake: ''The most precise projector ever built. We had to invent that.'')
If you want a pair of Focals, you can preorder them online, but you also have to schedule an appointment and have 11 cameras take pictures of your head and build models of your face. It's ''a white glove experience,'' Lake says. It turns the purchase into a kind of freaky sci-fi ceremony, in which you sign some release forms to get an ultra-customized product that's meant to be part of your life all day, every day.
Tortoise-shell Focals with their corresponding Loop ring.North Focals' obvious comparisons are the ambitious Google Glass experiment, which failed because its usefulness wasn't well-explained to a doubting public, and the fun but ultimately doomed investment of Snap Spectacles, which lost Snapchat's parent company $40 million when novelty wasn't enough to make them catch on.
Lake is polite but frank in arguing why these ventures don't fit in the same sentence as his product. ''We're not Google, we're not a tech company that's trying to take [the technology] we already have and shove it on your face,'' he says. North built all the ingredients for Focals from scratch, he notes; 500 people have been working on it for five years.
Recently, I went to Cobble Hill and tried some Focals. The demo glasses routed me to Carrie Bradshaw's New York apartment, and told me it would be cold in Brooklyn all day. They did so with glimmering little cartoons! The images were close enough to me to make me feel like they were my cartoons alone, but not so close that I felt like I'd been turned into a robot.
Though I have never tested Intel's Vaunt AR glasses '-- which use retinal projection to display images on the inside of your literal eyeball '-- I think I can safely say I'm more comfortable with this arrangement. Though I have never tested Vuzix's Blade AR glasses '-- which put a full screen in the upper-right corner of your field of vision '-- I think I would hate them. Though Focals are admittedly clunky when viewed from the side, I really only encourage people to look directly at the front of my face anyway.
Focals are clunky when viewed from the side, but I really only encourage people to look directly at the front of my face anyway
And what if I were to never accidentally spend 20 minutes in a bar bathroom, watching Instagram Stories on the toilet, ever again? What if I could always check, without leaving the room or stopping my conversation, to see if my rude boyfriend is on his way? That would be amazing! I would be so much more pleasant to hang out with.
During the test, my display blinked in and out, seemingly mostly because the non-custom pair was too big for me. It was obvious that it would take time to get used to the display, which only pops up when you're looking forward, and disappears if you look away.
But from what I could tell, it genuinely was non-invasive and convenient '-- a good way to navigate long walks through unfamiliar neighborhoods without staring at Google Maps and walking into a tree, a good way to avoid rummaging in your pocket while carrying a bag of groceries. Wearing glasses already makes you a cyborg, technically; I can concede that adding AR might not be so big of an adjustment.
Focals mostly offer a good way not to take out your more powerful device with the goal of performing a simple task, and end up lured into any one of its dozens of seductive time-sucks. I spent only about half an hour in the freezing, unfinished Focals store, and have no intention of ever spending $1,000 on the device. But I have to concede I found the glasses, as a hint of what the future of personal gadgets might look like, oddly comforting.
Forget bars & coins: Digital gold will revolutionize marketplace '' claims precious metals trader '-- RT Business News
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:51
As one of the top traded assets in the world, gold, is hugely inefficient. But that is going to change, according to CEO of asset management company Sprott, Peter Grosskopf.
He told Kitco News that like more than a decade ago when exchange-traded products revolutionized the gold market, the yellow metal is now on the cusp of a new digital revolution.
Read more
''Going to a bank or a broker to buy gold is not a great option. Because of the fees, it's a losing trade,'' he said, adding that ''buying ETFs (exchange-traded funds) are better, but the storage costs are still prohibitive for long-term investors.''
According to the manager, the gold market relevant to today's modern investors is a digital market, which is why his company has taken a stake in a physically-backed digital marketplace. The transactions and ownership of the gold are recorded there through blockchain technology.
Grosskopf explained that a digital marketplace is the next evolution of the gold market, which hasn't seen any significant changes since the first gold-backed ETFs were launched. ''The gold market is ready for a whole new investor. We just have to bring the physical market into a digital world,'' he said.
While falling to a 1.5 year low in August, gold prices have held critical long-term support levels, Grosskopf said. This happened despite facing significant pressures from strong momentum in the US dollar and higher bond yields, he added.
READ MORE: Emerging economies stockpiling gold in expectation of US dollar banking system collapse '' analysts
The CEO expects the precious metal to regain its luster through the rest of the year as investors start to see cracks growing in the US economy. He said that increased economic risk and higher volatility will prompt some investors to move out of equities and invest in more defensive assets.
''It just takes a small percentage of investors to take their money off the table and put it into gold to spark a major rally,'' he said. ''I think people are starting to recognize that gold is a resilient asset.''
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section
Trump Has No Easy Way to Halt Latin American Caravan - The Atlantic
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:50
The president tried prosecuting migrants and separating families but so far hasn't been able to deter the latest migrant caravan from heading north.
Priscilla Alvarez 8:12 AM ET A group of Central American migrants cross the Suchiate River aboard a raft made out of tractor inner tubes and wooden planks, on the the border between Guatemala and Mexico, in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. Moises Castillo / APPresident Donald Trump is fuming over a U.S.-bound migrant caravan. Over the course of the past week, he's posted 15 tweets about the caravan, estimated to consist of as many as 7,000 people, that left from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, earlier this month and has been growing along the way. Trump has placed blame on Democrats, threatened to cut aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, and urged an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws despite Congress being out of session.
He called the caravan an ''assault on our country'' at a rally Monday night in Houston and said the ''Democrats had something to do with'' it. Earlier in the day, Trump had pledged to cut off or ''substantially'' reduce foreign aid to the Northern Triangle countries.
''They're paid a lot of money every year. We give them foreign aid. They did nothing for us, nothing. They did nothing for us,'' he told reporters, adding, ''We have been giving so much money to so many different countries for so long and it's not fair and it's not good. Then when we asked them to keep their people in their country, they're unable to do it.''
Read: Trump's Closing Argument
Trump's calls to action on immigration aren't new. He campaigned on the issue in 2016 and has continued to push for his border wall since taking office. But it's moments such as these, when images of thousands of migrants are broadcast across networks, that spark the president's outrage and produce reactions that are highly problematic. Witness what happened in April, the last time a caravan from Latin America was headed north and the Trump administration implemented a policy called ''zero tolerance'' in hopes of deterring people from journeying to the southern border. Events since then have shown that this approach lacked nuance, triggered national and international outrage, and fell far short of addressing the deep-rooted problems that are causing people to migrate.
''I think the idea from the Trump administration that you can somehow just stop people from coming by either threatening to cut off the aid'--which basically goes to the government, not to the people that are fleeing'--or by believing you can close off borders is not going to really address why people are very willing to get up from one day to the next, it seems, and travel north with the hope for a better life,'' said Maureen Meyer, the director for Mexico and migrant rights at the Washington Office on Latin America, an advocacy organization.
A key aspect of the ''zero tolerance'' policy that greeted the April caravan's arrival called for the prosecution of adults crossing the border illegally. After pleading guilty to illegal entry'--which is a misdemeanor'--migrants were sentenced to time served and, later, processed for deportation. But this was the problem: ''Criminalizing'' border crossing necessitated family separation'--because children by law couldn't be kept in federal jail.
Read: Trumpism, Realized
Attorney General Jeff Sessions described the situation at the time as ''a crisis '... that necessitates an escalated effort to prosecute those who choose to illegally cross our border.'' Trump, under intense political pressure, eventually ended the policy, which had led to roughly 2,000 separated families, through an executive order in June. But even ''zero tolerance'' and family separation haven't stemmed the flow of migrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
After prosecuting those illegally crossing the border, Sessions sought in June to make it much harder for migrants to be granted asylum: He reversed an immigration-appeals-court ruling and said that domestic abuse and gang violence no longer qualified as grounds for asylum. The ruling immediately undercut the claims of many migrants from Latin America, where gang violence is endemic. The administration has also recently been floating a number of possible new policies aimed at deterring migrants, one of which would include forcing parents who cross the border illegally with their children to give them up to foster care or be detained together, according to media reports.
The goal is clear: to discourage migrants from coming to the United States. Former President Barack Obama also tried to stem the flow of immigrants journeying to the U.S.-Mexico border with threats of detention. He, too, discovered that deterrence policies usually fail in the face of economic distress and violence.
To that end, in 2016, then''Secretary of State John Kerry announced a plan that, with the help of the United Nations, would identify people eligible for refugee status in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Those who were fleeing imminent danger would be placed in Costa Rica for processing. The administration also expanded the Central American minors program to include siblings, parents, and caregivers accompanying minors.
''It was limited in scope but it's certainly tried to create legal ways for a small but growing population of people that were in dire need of protection,'' Meyer said, noting that it wasn't a long-term solution.
The Trump administration ended the program in August 2017.
The problem facing the administration is that many of the migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala and seeking asylum, which calls at a minimum for a ''credible fear'' interview. If officials determine that a migrant's credible-fear claims are valid, they can have him or her stay in ICE custody until their hearings, where a judge will ultimately make the final decision on their claim, or be released until their hearing date, which can take months, if not years, given backlogs in the immigration courts. (The United States is obligated, under the Refugee Act of 1980, to offer protection to those who qualify as refugees, including asylum seekers.)
''This population is not trying to evade capture at the border,'' said John Sandweg, who served as a counselor to then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and as the acting director of ICE from 2013 to 2014. ''These people are surrendering when they cross the border.'' This is a stark difference from pre-2014, when largely Mexican nationals were trying to evade U.S. officials when crossing the border, Sandweg noted.
Now that the Trump administration is no longer separating migrant children from their parents, it has run headlong into another legal impediment: a 1997 consent decree known as the Flores agreement, which says that children cannot be kept in immigration detention for longer than 20 days. Administration officials have taken steps to withdraw from the agreement without effect.
So for now, they have no choice but to release families seeking asylum before the 20 days have run out, leaving migrants waiting for their hearing dates stuck in Arizona and other locales along the border with a process Trump loathes and has denigrated as ''catch and release.''
What is the Trump administration to do? One solution requires quickly and vastly expanding the immigration courts, so asylum hearings can be held in days or weeks, doing away with the need to release families waiting for their hearing dates. Sessions has been hiring immigration judges and plans to add at least 75 more this fall, which could speed up the process. But far more judges would have to be brought on to effectively end ''catch and release.''
Read: Sessions Is Transforming the Immigration Courts
The administration is also reportedly considering ways to deport people more quickly and extend the use of ankle monitors, which have been used to track immigrants awaiting their hearings. Sandweg agrees that deportation might work as a deterrent, but that, too, requires time and resources.
Immigrant advocates have meanwhile argued for the continued aid to the Northern Triangle countries and fair hearings for immigrants seeking asylum that would allow them to cite fears of gang and domestic violence. The conservative Heritage Foundation, for one, has warned about the consequences of cutting aid to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
The latest caravan is not expected to arrive to the U.S. until after the November election, and it's likely to dwindle in size as it makes its way through Mexico. The president, who has used fear of undocumented immigration as a potent means of energizing his conservative base, will need to confront how to address those migrants. ''There is,'' Sandweg said, ''no immediate solution.''
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.
Priscilla Alvarez is an assistant editor at
The Atlantic.
The Finance 202: Trump's latest middle-class tax cut pitch could backfire - The Washington Post
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:44
THE TICKER
President Trump arrives for a campaign rally for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in Houston. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Setting aside that President Trump's pledge to slash middle-class taxes by 10 percent in the coming weeks will be next to impossible to pull off, it's not clear the gambit even amounts to a good political strategy.
Congressional Republicans running for reelection haven't wanted to talk much on the campaign trail about the tax cut package that was supposed to be their crowning achievement. Trump's pitch for new cuts points to the reason why: It seems most likely to remind voters of what they didn't like in the first package he signed at the end of last year.
''We're doing it now for middle-income people,'' Trump told reporters Monday. ''This is not for businesses. It's for the middle.'' And Trump kept up the drumbeat for the idea Monday night when he took the stage in Houston at a rally for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). The president said he has been working on the proposal with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) for ''three months.'' Earlier in the day, spokespeople for Brady and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) referred questions about the proposal back to the White House.
But the promises the president is making as a closing argument this campaign season sound a lot like the ones he first offered two years ago and then failed to fulfill. In the spring of 2016, he pledged to hand a tax cut to ''everybody '... especially the middle class.'' The rich, he said, are ''probably going to end up paying more.''
In fact, the plan Republicans produced heavily concentrated its benefits among the richest Americans. Polls reflect that skew: The law remains broadly unpopular. In a recent Gallup poll, 51 percent of respondents said the law hasn't helped their family's financial situation; 38 percent said it has helped a little .The law did provide some cuts for every income level. But GOP pollster David Winston says most people didn't notice: His polling shows only about a third of Americans understand that the law cut tax rates across the board.
Many Republicans have decided the issue is beyond salvaging. The Republican National Committee concluded in an internal memo last month that the party had ''lost the messaging battle,'' pointing to a private survey showing respondents by a 2-to-1 margin said the law benefits large corporations and the wealthy over middle-class families. A recent Wall Street Journal review of advertising data found 30 percent of Republican ads mention taxes, compared to 13 percent of Democratic ads. But less than 12 percent of GOP TV ads mention the tax legislation explicitly.
As Republicans largely avoid the issue, Trump appears to be refining his plan for a return to it on the fly. His Monday assertions about a new cut marked a shift from Saturday, when the president first broached the idea to reporters after a rally in Elko, Nev. Then, Trump said Republicans would enact the cut before the election '-- an impossibility, since, among other things, Congress won't be in session in the meantime. On Monday, Trump said Republicans would be introducing the measure imminently '-- ''We're putting in a resolution some time in the next week and a half to two weeks,'' he said '-- with a vote to follow ''after the election.''
It's probably best not to take Trump's words at face value. It comes as the president, in full campaign mode, has been piling up base-stoking but unsubstantiated claims, including that anti-immigrant riots are breaking out across California; that Democrats want to give cars to undocumented immigrants; and that ''unknown Middle Easterners'' have joined a caravan of Central American refugees seeking asylum in Mexico and the United States.
Observers on Twitter laid out the challenges the plan would face.
Bloomberg's Steven Dennis reminds that Republicans would first need to adopt a budget resolution before they could pass a deficit-hiking tax package:
How to pass a 10% middle class tax cut in 3 steps:* Adopt a budget resolution allowing massive deficit hike (218/50 VP/Votearama)* Clear tax cut bill (218/50 VP/Voterama)* Sign bill into law.
'-- Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) October 22, 2018And the bill would likely induce sticker shock, as Scott Greenberg, formerly of the Tax Foundation, points out:
If we define the middle class as households making between $40,000 and $200,000, a proposal to cut middle class taxes by 10% would reduce federal revenue by something like $2.1 trillion over ten years. https://t.co/Ypz0v2nXh1
'-- Scott Greenberg (@ScottElliotG) October 22, 2018Color CNN's Phil Mattingly skeptical:
-There is no new legislative tax cut circulating on the Hill, 10% or otherwise.-Sr GOPers in both chambers have no idea what POTUS is talking about. -No time/will to pass anything in lame duck either.-Don't even get me started on it being referred to as a "resolution"-30-
'-- Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) October 22, 2018So is AEI's Jim Pethokoukis:
What will come first, the major middle-class tax cut or the major infrastructure plan? And yes, you are allowed to choose ''neither'' https://t.co/1pz9Mbpx9Z
'-- James Pethokoukis (@JimPethokoukis) October 22, 2018 You are reading The Finance 202, our must-read tipsheet on where Wall Street meets Washington. Not a regular subscriber? MARKET MOVERS
A trader working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is reflected on a monitor on Oct. 10. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
'-- Political tensions weigh on stocks. WSJ's David Hodari: "Global stocks swung lower Tuesday, amid resurgent fears about the health of China's economy and a slew of geopolitical concerns. The Stoxx Europe 600 was down 1.4% in early trading... Technology stocks led the way lower in Europe, with the Stoxx Europe 600's tech sector plunging 3.9%... Renewed pessimism about global tech stocks came after the U.S. sector ended a run of three consecutive sessions of selling Monday. Investors have turned their backs on riskier sectors such as technology in recent weeks as they have found themselves at the confluence of rising U.S. bond yields, U.S.-China trade tensions and worries about global economic growth."
'-- Third-quarter growth could hand Trump a trophy. Bloomberg's Sho Chandra: "The U.S. economy is poised for its best back-to-back quarters of growth since 2014, handing President Donald Trump a $20 trillion talking point just in time for the midterm congressional elections. The report due Friday, the last data before the Nov. 6 vote, will show gross domestic product expanded at a 3.4 percent annualized pace in the July-September period after a 4.2 percent gain in the prior quarter, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Consumer spending and business investment probably drove growth, and inventory accumulation also contributed."
'-- Goldman Sachs: Investors are misjudging midterm aftermath. CNBC's Jeff Cox: ''The upcoming midterm elections, which are expected to result in split government on Capitol Hill, already are impacting investment choices and will continue to do so as events unfold, according to a Goldman Sachs analysis. Current expectations are that the Democrats will win back the House and the Republicans will retain a narrow hold on the Senate. .'‰.'‰. 'If the consensus expectation of a divided government turns out to be correct, the most likely political consequences would be an increase in investigations and uncertainty surrounding fiscal deadlines,' David Kostin, Goldman's chief U.S. equity strategist, said in a note to clients .'‰.'‰. Where investors might have it wrong, Kostin said, is hopes for aggressive infrastructure spending and a smooth resolution of the escalating trade dispute with China.''
Slumping home sales and rising interest rates are brightening the outlook for apartment and home-rental stocks.
The Wall Street Journal
Puerto Rico bond prices jumped Monday after the federal oversight board that runs the U.S. territory's finances raised expectations for economic growth.
The Wall Street Journal
TRUMP TRACKER
TRADE FLY-AROUND:
A Ford logo on the grill of a 2018 Ford Explorer on display at the Pittsburgh Auto Show on Feb. 15. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
'-- Ford: Tariffs are wreaking havoc on steel prices. Bloomberg News's Keith Naughton and Joe Deaux: ''Ford Motor Co. said [Trump's] tariffs have made steel more expensive in the U.S. than any other market, escalating the company's criticism of the president's trade war. 'U.S. steel costs are more than anywhere else in the world,' Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of global operations, said Monday at an event marking the start of Ranger pickup production at a factory west of Detroit. He added that Ford is talking to the administration about the tariffs: 'We tell them that we need to have competitive costs in our market in order to compete around the world.'''
German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Oct. 15. (Markus Schreiber/AP)
'-- Merkel makes concession to Trump. WSJ's Bojan Pancevski: ''Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered government support to efforts to open up Germany to U.S. gas, a key concession to [Trump] as he tries to loosen Russia's grip on Europe's largest energy market. Over breakfast this month, the chancellor told a small group of lawmakers her government had decided to co-finance the construction of a [$576 million] liquefied natural gas shipping terminal in northern Germany .'‰.'‰. giving a crucial nudge to a project that had failed to get off the ground for years in a country that gets most of its gas cheaply from Russia. Mr. Trump has intensively lobbied Europe to buy significant amounts of LNG as part of his campaign to rewrite the terms of trade relations.''
'-- Europe, Canada want WTO overhaul. The Associated Press's Jamey Keaten: ''Trump wants to rip up the rulebook for global trade. China is by many accounts abusing it. As a battle rages between the world's top economic power and the fast-growing Asian giant striving to take its place, Canada and the European Union are quietly working to update the laws of international commerce, which have not been changed since the internet boom. The question is how to fix the World Trade Organization .'‰.'‰.
"As it stands, the WTO is on track to become powerless by next year if the Trump administration continues to withhold support over its complaints that China breaks the rules. .'‰.'‰. Canada hosts ministers from the EU and about 12 other countries in Ottawa on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss reform of the WTO. Canada said it wants a meeting of 'like-minded people' '-- and didn't invite the United States.''
'-- Add pet food to trade war casualties. The New York Times's Ailin Tang and Keith Bradsher: ''Olivia Ren never expected a trade war between the United States and China to affect Dada. Dada is Ms. Ren's beloved golden retriever, and she pays heavily in Shanghai for an imported American brand of pet food called Canidae so that he can eat the best .'‰.'‰. Now Canidae and other American brands have become collateral damage in a trade war that encompasses hundreds of billions of dollars in goods that flow between the two countries. Pet-food industry experts say revenge-minded Chinese officials have been delaying shipments at customs since May to get back at the United States. New tariffs in July have also made imported pet food more expensive .'‰.'‰. Pet food may seem an unlikely target in a trade war, but it shows how creative Chinese officials must become if they want to hit back at [Trump].''
MELTDOWN WATCH:
''Jared Kushner declines to say whether he believes Saudi account of Khashoggi's death.'' The Washington Post's John Wagner. ''New video appears to show Saudi suspect wearing Jamal Khashoggi's clothing.'' The Post's Erin Cunningham.'-- Mnuchin meets with Saudi Crown Prince. The Post's Damian Paletta: ''U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday, according to the Saudi government, illustrating how the White House is retaining close ties with the embattled Middle Eastern leader despite a growing international outcry. Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry posted a photo of the meeting on Twitter. In a caption, the Saudi government wrote that bin Salman in the meeting 'stresses the importance of the Saudi-US strategic partnership, where it holds an important role in the future in line with the Kingdom's #Vision2030.' Mnuchin last week announced he was withdrawing from a conference in Saudi Arabia this week, amid the international backlash following the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi.''
#CrownPrince meets with the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and stresses the importance of Saudi-US strategic partnership, where it holds an important role in the future in line with the Kingdom's #Vision2030 pic.twitter.com/5LyloSOMTK
'-- Foreign Ministry 🇸ðŸ‡... (@KSAmofaEN) October 22, 2018A high-profile economic forum in Saudi Arabia began on Tuesday in Riyadh, the kingdom's first major event on the world stage since the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.
AP
The visit by Gina Haspel comes ahead of a planned speech Tuesday on the killing by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
John Hudson, Shane Harris and Josh Dawsey
POCKET CHANGE
Chinese police officers patrol on motorized platforms on Tiananmen Square in Beijing on March 12, 2017. (Ng Han Guan/AP)
'-- Banks wary of China travel. Reuters's Sumeet Chatterjee and Clare Jim: ''Global banks including Citigroup and Standard Chartered have asked their private banking staff to postpone or reconsider travel to China after authorities there prevented a UBS banker from leaving the country .'‰.'‰. BNP Paribas and JPMorgan have also asked their private banking employees to reconsider their China travel plans after the authorities' action against the UBS banker .'‰.'‰.
"China is the biggest growth driver of the wealth industry in Asia with its large and growing pool of millionaires and billionaires spawned by the country's booming technology sector, making it a key battleground for global private banks. But its financial sector is under sharp scrutiny as Beijing attempts to lower high debt levels in the economy and curb an outflow of capital from the country to shore up the yuan, meaning there is very little room for error by industry players.''
'-- Netflix to sell junk bonds. Bloomberg News's Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou and Claire Boston: ''Netflix Inc. is once again turning to the junk-bond market to fund new programming as the streaming-video giant seeks to maintain its torrid subscriber growth. The $2 billion bond offering, which will be issued in dollars and euros, comes just a week after the company reported a bigger jump in subscribers than Wall Street analysts expected. While the bonds would push the cash-burning company's debt load above $10 billion for the first time, the company has seen its equity value skyrocket as it adds subscribers internationally.''
'-- Icahn sells American Railcar Industries. Bloomberg News's Thomas Black: ''Billionaire investor Carl Icahn agreed to sell American Railcar Industries Inc. for $1.34 billion, quintupling his investment as a freight boom spurs a rebound in demand for rail equipment. Icahn Enterprises agreed to sell the maker of tank and hopper cars at $70 a share, 51 percent above its closing price on Oct. 19, to a subsidiary of hedge fund ITE Management LP. The deal is valued at $1.75 billion including debt... Rail carloads are climbing as the robust U.S. economy drives freight demand and a shortage of truck drivers pushes some cargo to trains.''
'-- Cryptocurrency executive calls for regulation. Reuters's Tom Wilson: ''Major economies should launch coordinated regulation of cryptocurrencies, the head of Goldman Sachs-backed startup Circle said on Monday, underscoring growing industry support for international rules on digital money. 'Ultimately there needs to be normalization at the G20 level of critical crypto-related regulatory matters,' Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Boston-based Circle, told Reuters in an interview in London. .'‰.'‰. National regulators have mostly taken differing approaches to rules for cryptocurrencies. Some, such as Japan, have adopted frameworks for licensing exchanges, while others, like China, have shut them down. The industry is largely unregulated across Europe.''
Musk says he will soon open a test tunnel to the public to demonstrate the viability of an ambitious underground high-speed transportation system.
Hamza Shaban
MONEY ON THE HILL
'-- Brat borrowed from Bernanke in academic paper. The Post's Laura Vozzella: "Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va) often touts his status as the ''only PhD economist in Congress'' to suggest he has special insight into the nation's economy. But his academic background is under scrutiny amid revelations that a paper he wrote as a Randolph-Macon College professor borrowed heavily '-- and exactly '-- from one co-authored by former Fed chief Ben S. Bernanke.
"Brat's paper was a critique of Bernanke's, so he quoted from the original piece. But instead of summarizing Bernanke's writing in his own words, or using quotation marks to quote him directly, Brat simply seemed to cut and paste. Brat's 2005 paper is seven ­pages, not counting the refer­ences and tables in the back. Nearly every sentence in the first three pages is directly from a paper that Bernanke and his co-author, Refet Gurkaynak, wrote in 2001... Brat's campaign spokeswoman Katey Price called the criticism a 'political hit.'"
'-- Booker bill would give every child a savings account. The Hill's Sylvan Lane: ''Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is introducing a bill to give every U.S. child an interest-bearing savings account at birth in an attempt to reverse rising economic inequality. The bill from Booker, who is seen as a likely 2020 presidential candidate, would create interest-bearing accounts funded by the federal government for each child born in the U.S, according to a summary released Monday. The accounts would be administered by the Treasury Department and start with a $1,000 principal balance granted by the federal government. The government would then deposit up to $2,000 a year into each child's account depending on total family income until the recipient turns 18.''
DAYBOOK
Today
The Heritage Foundation holds an event titled ''Problems with the JOBS Act and how they can be fixed'' in Washington. The Brookings Institution hosts a panel conversation titled ''Taxing the gig economy'' in Washington.Coming soon
The American Enterprise Institute holds a presentation of the book ''Borrowed Time: Two Centuries of Booms, Busts, and Bailouts at Citi'' by James Freeman and Vern McKinley in Washington on Thursday.THE FUNNIES
'-- A New Yorker cartoon by Michael Maslin:
BULL SESSION
Can Beto O'Rourke really beat Ted Cruz in Texas?
LGBTQ groups rally for transgender rights:
A ''headless chicken monster'' is captured on camera:
Climate lawsuits: the Supreme Court just stayed the children's climate lawsuit - Vox
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:43
One of the biggest legal battles over climate change is now in limbo pending a decision from the Supreme Court's chief justice, who last week took the odd step of halting the lawsuit to consider a stay.
The suit, Juliana v. US, also known as the children's climate lawsuit, was first filed in 2015 and now includes 21 plaintiffs between the ages of 11 and 22, including Sophie Kivlehan, 20, who happens to be the granddaughter of the famed climate scientist James Hansen. The case argues that the US government undertook policies that contributed to climate change, thereby causing irreparable harm to young people and denying them a safe climate. As relief, they want the government to pursue policies to keep warming in check.
The trial was supposed to begin at the United States District Court in Oregon on October 29. But on Thursday, the defendant, the US government, asked for a stay of the case, arguing the costs of litigation would put an undue burden on it. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts granted a temporary stay and halted discovery until Wednesday to allow the plaintiffs to respond.
BREAKING: Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily halts discovery and the upcoming trial in the kids' climate change case, pending a response to DOJ's stay request, which is due by 3p Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/jFsd5DUmze
'-- Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) October 19, 2018Working over the weekend, the children and their lawyers filed a 103-page brief on Monday, ''in hopes of receiving a decision from the Chief Justice before the week's end.''
Now the case is back at the Supreme Court, and what happens next is unclear, including whether the other justices on the bench will weigh in.
And again, it is extremely unusual for the Supreme Court to step in to block a legal proceeding in a lower court. But then this is an unusual case.
The plaintiffs essentially are arguing that a safe climate is a civil right, so the implications for climate change policy are huge. Though the case is in uncharted legal territory, it has survived several legal challenges and motions to dismiss, and lower federal courts have allowed it to proceed.
Incidentally, one of the other few times the Supreme Court weighed in on a lower court case was also related to climate change. In 2016, the court stayed the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan to limit greenhouse gases from power plants, pending ongoing lawsuits from states suing to block the rule from going into effect.
Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at the University of California Los Angeles, said that the Supreme Court stepping in on a case like this strongly suggests there's something there that piques the court's interest.
''It's certainly a signal that the court is uncomfortable with the underlying legal theory of the Juliana case,'' Carlson said.
The federal government, under Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, has argued the case has no merit and repeatedly sought to have it dismissed. Jeffrey Wood, a political appointee at the Department of Justice handling environmental cases, told a law conference last week that the right to a safe climate ''simply does not exist'' and that the Juliana lawsuit ''has no legal basis.''
For climate activists old and young, the courts have become a last resort for pushing governments and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially with an executive branch that's still denying climate change exists and a gridlocked Congress.
There are also several ongoing climate change lawsuits filed by cities, counties, and a state against oil companies, though the pivot points are different. The local governments are citing nuisance statutes and seeking money from oil companies to pay for damages caused by climate change, whereas the children's case is trying to force the government to enact policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
But the prospects for the children's climate lawsuit to succeed appear dim, first because the courts tend to give wide latitude to the executive branch in these cases, and second because the Supreme Court's newest Justice Brett Kavanaugh is much more skeptical of environmental regulations than his predecessor.
''This is just the beginning of what we're likely to see from a Court that doesn't have Justice Kennedy on it anymore,'' Carlson said.
The White House is wooing tech workers to do tours of duty in government
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:27
The Switch
By Tony Romm
October 22, 2018 at 6:00 AM
The White House wants to attract tech employees to work in the government. (Evan Vucci/AP)The White House plans to convene technology giants including Amazon.com, Google, Microsoft and IBM on Monday and urge them to make it easier for their workers to leave behind their big paychecks and snazzy office perks and do brief tours of duty in government.
For the Trump administration, the hope is that private companies might encourage employees to take leaves of absence to help modernize state and federal agencies '-- bringing a Silicon Valley sensibility to challenges like improving veterans' health care and combating cybersecurity threats.
''The country benefits when patriotic citizens with technical expertise choose to serve at the federal, state or local level,'' said Christopher Liddell, deputy chief of staff for policy coordination.
Attracting new tech talent always has been tricky for the federal government, given the slow process of hiring, the sensitive nature of background checks and security clearances, and the reality that public service pays far less than companies such as Google. But President Trump personally faces an added challenge: an ever-widening cultural and political gap between his White House and the left-leaning Silicon Valley, which has opposed many of Trump's policies.
Ahead of their gathering, though, White House officials stressed that they believed many tech workers are willing to ''put politics aside'' to work together on shared goals. ''This event on Monday is not just about our efforts, it's about our successor, and their successor after that,'' added one official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's thinking. ''It's good for the country in the long term for technology professionals to have civil service in their career at some point.''
For the federal government '-- where some agencies as recently as 2016 had been using floppy disks, one watchdog found '-- attracting Silicon Valley-style expertise long has proved vexing. The Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that studies government agencies, found in September that fewer than 3 percent of full-time federal IT professionals are under 30.
''You can certainly have people who are older who are technologically sophisticated,'' said Max Stier, the group's chief executive. ''But the reality is, in the tech arena, that much of the innovation, and much of the awareness of what's possible, skews to a younger demographic.''
Under President Barack Obama, the White House spent years trying to reverse that trend. The botched rollout of Healthcare.gov led the administration to create two government organizations that help federal agencies buy and leverage technology, called 18F and the U.S. Digital Service. Trump has preserved both of them, then created the Office of American Innovation, a government initiative that's convening representatives from about 50 companies and some of their trade associations at the event Monday.
Tech companies such as Facebook and Google in the past have allowed their employees to do short stints with the federal government. Google, though, said it's ''examining its leave policies to determine how we can best support civic tours of duty,'' a spokeswoman said.
IBM confirmed its attendance at the Monday gathering, and a spokesman said the company previously has placed its workers with such programs as the Peace Corps. Amazon and Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment. (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Creating such a pipeline, however, might not be easy. Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft are some of the U.S. government's biggest vendors, with their computers, software and cloud computing, raising the potential for apparent conflicts of interest when workers are assisting federal agencies that do business with their employers. To that end, White House officials said they erected guardrails to ensure these workers don't touch issues tied to their corporate employers.
An industry group representing tech giants such as Amazon and Google, which stands to benefit from a federal government staffed with more people who share its sensibilities, praised the White House for its push.
''It isn't the norm yet that you have deep technical expertise spread across all the agencies,'' said Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council.
Tony Romm is a technology policy reporter at The Washington Post. He has spent more than eight years covering the ways that tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google navigate the corridors of government -- and the regulations that sometimes result.
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Save NYPL
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:08
Voices of Support for SaveNYPL's Previous CampaignsThe humans of New York seem to be rousing themselves to a collective understanding: that the great public institutions they boast of and rely upon can't be entrusted to the stewardship of real-estate developers, corporate synergists, media barons, and other ostensibly well-intentioned, deal-drunk one-percenters. Instead we need to tend our own commons, large and small -individual libraries, and the city itself.
Jonathan Lethem
National Book Award-winning novelist and MacArthur Fellow
As a longtime, devoted user of the NYPL'--I've researched my own books there, borrowed books and books on tape, taught workshops for the Office of Adult Services'--I am against any plan to decimate what has been a way in and up for generations of New Yorkers. Please add my LOUD voice to this protest!
Hettie Jones
Distinguished poet and acclaimed memoirist
For some time, a hypothesis that dared not speak its name has reigned over the NYPL debate: that the sale of the seven-story Mid-Manhattan Circulating Library and its air rights on Fifth Avenue at 40th is a developer's dream, as was the greatly regretted sale of the Donnell Library across from MOMA.
David Levering Lewis
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of W.E.B. DuBois and 2002 Library Lion
The Day John Kelly and Corey Lewandowski Squared Off Outside the Oval Office - The New York Times
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:05
Image John F. Kelly's appointment as chief of staff was widely seen as a move to restore a sense of order, but he has been at the center of several conflicts. Credit Credit Samuel Corum for The New York Times An argument last February between the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and Corey Lewandowski, an informal adviser to President Trump, turned into a physical altercation that required Secret Service intervention just outside the Oval Office, according to a half-dozen people familiar with the events.
The episode, details of which have not been previously reported, is the latest illustration of the often chaotic atmosphere Mr. Trump is willing to tolerate in the White House as well as a reflection of the degree to which Mr. Kelly's temper can be provoked.
The near brawl '-- during which Mr. Kelly grabbed Mr. Lewandowski by the collar and tried to have him ejected from the West Wing '-- came at a time when the chief of staff was facing uncertainty about how long Mr. Trump would keep him in his job. A guessing game over his departure has colored his tenure ever since.
Mr. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, was widely hailed as the lone grown-up who could corral a staff full of bombastic and competing personalities when he was appointed in summer 2017. But Mr. Kelly has shown little inclination to curb his own instinct for confrontation, from scuffling with a Chinese official during a visit to Beijing last year to last week's profanity-laced shouting match with John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, after a meeting with the president.
White House officials declined to comment for this article. Mr. Lewandowski did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
But the altercation on Feb. 21 was among the ugliest known to have taken place in a West Wing that has been characterized by constant drama and heated skirmishes '-- all forms of behavior that the president has long tolerated among his aides.
While Mr. Kelly's initial appointment was widely seen as a move to restore a sense of order, he has instead been at the center of a succession of conflicts, from his contradictory statements about Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary who left after previous allegations of domestic violence were made public, to his heated interactions with other aides.
Anthony Scaramucci, who has written a book about being Mr. Trump's communications director for 11 days until Mr. Kelly fired him after the release of a recording of his own profanity-laced call with a reporter, said on NBC's ''Meet the Press'' on Sunday that Mr. Kelly had ''hurt the morale inside the place.''
''And he's hurt the president. And he has hissy fits,'' Mr. Scaramucci said, adding that ''he's demonstrating his personality now the way he really is.''
Mr. Kelly's defenders argue that he has been effective at ridding the White House of problematic personalities, such as Omarosa Manigault Newman, and that he has put in place a degree of order that did not exist before his arrival, despite the challenges of the work environment that Mr. Trump creates. And a person who witnessed the exchange between Mr. Kelly and Mr. Bolton last week insisted there was never a shouting match as described in many accounts.
Leon Panetta, the former defense secretary, defended Mr. Kelly, who served as his senior military assistant when he was at the Pentagon, as a ''fine person'' and a ''good Marine'' who would ''walk off a cliff'' for people who earned his loyalty.
But, Mr. Panetta said, ''there's no question that the level of frustration must be rising if he's getting into shouting matches and starting to really take on other people.''
''That doesn't happen unless he is totally frustrated,'' Mr. Panetta continued.
On the day Mr. Kelly grabbed Mr. Lewandowski, families of the shooting victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., were streaming into the White House for an event with the president in the East Room. Mr. Trump had both men in his office, according to those briefed on the event. Mr. Lewandowski, the president's first campaign manager, was there for a previously scheduled appointment.
Mr. Kelly criticized Mr. Lewandowski to Mr. Trump for making so much money off the president in the form of his contract with the super PAC supporting the president's re-election. Mr. Kelly also expressed his anger that Mr. Lewandowski had been criticizing him on television for his handling of the security clearance controversy related to Mr. Porter.
Image West Wing aides now try to make sure Corey Lewandowski, President Trump's former campaign manager, steers clear of Mr. Kelly's corner. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times At some point, Mr. Trump took a phone call, and both men left the room, those briefed on the episode said.
As Mr. Kelly walked toward a hallway leading back to his office, he called to someone to remove Mr. Lewandowski from the building. The two then began arguing, with Mr. Lewandowski speaking loudly. Mr. Kelly grabbed Mr. Lewandowski by his collar, trying to push him against a wall, according to a person with direct knowledge of the episode.
Mr. Lewandowski did not get physical in response, according to multiple people familiar with the episode. But Secret Service agents were called in. Ultimately, the two men agreed to move on, those briefed on the episode said.
Still, people in the West Wing who learned at the time what had happened were stunned.
In the months since the altercation, Mr. Lewandowski has traveled frequently with Mr. Trump aboard Air Force One to his political rallies and has continued to meet frequently with the president in the White House, though West Wing aides now try to make sure he steers clear of Mr. Kelly's corner of the West Wing.
He is also writing a book, ''Trump's Enemies: How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency,'' which is scheduled to be published in the weeks after the election and which some in Mr. Trump's circle fear will take swipes at some of his aides.
On the other hand, Mr. Kelly, who is called ''the general'' or ''the chief'' by his allies inside the West Wing, is widely seen as a diminished presence among the president's advisers. Though Mr. Kelly has repeatedly said he expresses his honest opinions to Mr. Trump, he has shown little inclination or ability to curb some of the president's impulses.
He is not the first chief of staff to struggle with his image inside and outside the White House: Administration observers compare Mr. Kelly to Donald T. Regan, President Reagan's former chief of staff, who amassed power in the West Wing only to squander it in clashes with other advisers and the president's wife.
With his legacy in mind, Mr. Kelly tends carefully to his press coverage, and keeps his eye on those he considers to be friendly to him in print and on the broader White House staff, according to multiple current and former aides. The president, who publicly maintains that his West Wing runs like a well-oiled machine, recently invited a reporter '-- along with his vice president, secretary of state and Mr. Kelly '-- into the Oval Office to show just how much faith he has in his chief of staff.
''There is, to the best of my knowledge, no chaos in this building,'' Mr. Kelly said during that interview. ''We've gotten rid of a few bad actors, but everyone works very, very well together.''
In July, Mr. Kelly told aides that Mr. Trump had asked him to stay on in his role until 2020, but reports of his conflicts with other staff members have continually raised questions about how long he will last. Even Mr. Trump has privately indicated to people that he was skeptical that Mr. Kelly would remain that long.
''I think John does this out of loyalty to the country,'' Mr. Panetta said, ''and the hope that, somehow, for all of the difficulty that he's confronting, that somehow he's serving a purpose.''
The president, for his part, has shown a certain reverence for men willing to engage in physical scuffles. Last fall, when Mr. Kelly was newly in his role, his willingness to engage angrily in meetings with Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who at the time was the national security adviser, thrilled Mr. Trump. The president, who did not like General McMaster, gleefully told people about the skirmishes between the two men for weeks, saying it showed how tough Mr. Kelly was, a person familiar with the discussions said.
And The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Mr. Kelly got into a physical altercation with a Chinese official trying to gain access the so-called nuclear football during Mr. Trump's trip there last year. Axios had reported the story several months ago, but officials had denied it.
But recently, Mr. Kelly has gone from enjoying Mr. Trump's public praise '-- ''He has been a true star of my Administration,'' the president said of Mr. Kelly last summer '-- to someone often sidelined by a president who believes he is his own best chief of staff.
Mr. Kelly, meanwhile, has chosen to stay in the role despite Mr. Trump's clear interest in keeping Mr. Lewandowski around in some fashion.
''I think Trump has decided it's really a bad marriage,'' said Chris Whipple, author of ''The Gatekeepers,'' a history of White House chiefs of staff, ''that he has decided to muddle through.''
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The Day the West Wing Boiled Over Just Steps From the Oval Office
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The Fall of Donald Trump documentary is no pre-midterm fantasy
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:02
Releasing a mockumentary called The Fall of Donald Trump just before the 2018 midterms seems like nothing short of a Krassensteinian call to arms for #Resistance Twitter. In that sense, the crew who brought you The President Show have honored their namesake by delivering a classic bait-and-switch.
Anthony Atamanuik's The Fall of Donald Trump does deliver its titular promise, but not in a way that will satisfy many who are Still With Her. There's no moment where Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller marches into the Oval Office, slaps Trump's shadow-subpoenaed tax returns on his empty desk and says, ''You, sir, are fired.'' Trace amounts of delicious liberal fantasy are here, to be sure, but this special is mostly the fantasy we deserve, rather than the one we may want.
Even viewers who never saw one snippet of The President Show should be familiar with Atamanuik's Trump. (Alec Baldwin's way more famous version feels like an inferior riff on it.) Comedy Central started airing his weekly evisceration of the commander in chief roughly 100 days into Trump's term. The show spent 22 episodes interpreting each week's events and predicting the future, without ever officially being canceled. By the time the show ended its run, it had put together a rock-solid comedic ensemble, with co-creator Peter Grosz as VP Mike Pence, Adam Pally as Donald Trump Jr., Mario Cantone as Anthony Scaramucci, John Gemberling as Steve Bannon, and Kathy Griffin as Kellyanne Conway.
Peter Grosz (left) as Mike Pence and Anthony Atamanuik (right) as Donald J. Trump [Photo: courtesy of Brad Barket/Comedy Central]As funny as the show was, however, it couldn't work forever as a weekly series. Traditional forms of political comedy feel redundant in the Trump era, and while The President Show could rehash the news with the best of them, there was scarcely a gaping need to immediately relive each fresh tragedy. (This is where Saturday Night Live too often goes wrong.) Atamanuik is so damn funny in the role, though, and he and the writers are so deft at calling Trump's shots before he makes them, Comedy Central is smart to revive the show for occasional specials.
The premise of A President Show Documentary: The Fall of Donald Trump is right there in the title. It ostensibly takes place in October and November of 2030, a future in which Trump has been mercifully missing from public life for years, and looks back on when things first started to fall apart. While the future setting provides a chance to predict how this cast will look in 12 years (Gemberling's Steve Bannon looks like a disease-ridden subway-flasher from the 1980s), it's the past''or rather our present''that will be of most interest to many. Here is where the fantasy kicks in.
Anthony Atamanuik as Donald J. Trump [Photo: courtesy of Mark Bracamonte/Comedy Central]The 2018 midterms result in that much-anticipated blue wave after all. The Democrats take back the House and install Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as speaker over Nancy Pelosi. If that sounds like too left-leaning an outcome, you will not like what comes next. The Democrats, in the show's telling, also give Ocasio-Cortez many other positions, the implication being that nobody currently in office is competent to fill them. The masterstroke of the special, though, and indeed the most cynical idea its writers offer up, is that following the midterms the eventual Democratic candidate for 2020 ends up being . . . Donald Trump.
The show uses actual old footage of Mitch McConnell and various CNN anchors inveighing against Trump the candidate, back when he was an unlikely sideshow, reminding viewers how ridiculous the prospect once seemed. Could Trump actually, conceivably, secure the Democratic nomination due to a lack of credible challengers? Of course not. However, the bold joke of suggesting as much is a face-slap that any complacent members of the electorate could use right now. No matter how the midterms shake out, it's going to take more than what congressional Democrats have done in the past two years to win in 2020.
I won't spoil exactly how the show's version of the election ends, but it should suffice to say that the outcome will serve as the peanut butter that makes the medicine of the previous paragraph go down smoother. The final third of the special tracks what all the key members of Trump's administration have been up to since leaving office, and it's mostly a riot. (Save for a tired joke about Mike Pence's lifestyle, which you can probably guess.)
Overall, The Fall of Donald Trump is a worthy addition to The President Show's catalogue, and a nice way to whet the public appetite for Atamanuik's imminent Trump book and for any future specials.
If there are no future specials to come, though, this one ends with a perfect callback to the show's most famous catchphrase come to life: ''I was the President. Can you believe it?''
Rustled bag of gum leads to 'violent attack' during Mahler's 5th Symphony: report | Fox News
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:53
FILE: Them rustling of a gum wrapper led to a violent confrontation during a recent concert.
The rustling of a gum wrapper during an intense performance of Mahler's 5th Symphony in Sweden last week led to a "violent attack" in the audience after the gum-rustler smacked the glasses off a young man who grabbed the pack of gum from her and threw it on the floor.
The Washington Post reported that the attack occurred during a symphony in Malmo. Witnesses told a local paper that the woman who rustled the gum sat quietly after the man tossed her gum. When the crowd applauded Andris Nelsons, the conductor, after completing the Adagietto, the gum-chewer smacked the glasses off the man's face. The paper said her male companion squared off with another man.
The standoff appeared to be over when the woman's companion talked with the young man. The audience was fooled, however, because the companion used the close proximity to punch the bag-thrower in the stomach.
One witness called the fight, ''very unpleasant.''
The paper reported that Sydsvenskan, the concert venue, announced what is expected from the audience during these performances, and appeared to side with the bag-thrower. Eating snacks and drinking beer may be suitable at a hockey game, but the behavior doesn't necessarily translate in a concert hall.
College scraps homecoming king, queen for gender-neutral titles
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:42
Administrators at Stony Brook University (SBU) in New York caved to pressure from activists on the Student Affairs Homecoming Committee to get rid of the homecoming king and queen titles, traditions since 1984, and replace them with three ''Stony Brook Royals.''
The change, which was originally reported by Stony Brook News, was also pushed by the University's LGBTQ Services along with LGBTQ Services assistant director, Chris Tanaka.
''Programs, events, and competitions that are categorized by gender put folks in the awkward position of either choosing to not be seen or affirmed for who they are or just not participating at all."
"Programs, events, and competitions that are categorized by gender put folks in the awkward position of either choosing to not be seen or affirmed for who they are or just not participating at all," Tanaka said to Stony Brook News. "This change has opened the door for more students to feel like Homecoming is an event in which they can fully participate.''
Under the new format, ten students, regardless of their gender and without ratio, will be chosen as finalists to become Stony Brook Royals. The previous format required that five men and five women be chosen as finalists.
[RELATED: UMN policy would punish incorrect use of gender pronouns]
''I applaud the Homecoming Committee for making this innovative change," Chief Diversity Officer Lee Bitsoi told Stony Brook University News. "This is another step toward building a welcoming, caring, supportive and inclusive campus community where all students feel that they belong.''
"It's a dream come true," Stony Brook "nonbinary" student and homecoming finalist, Allilsa Fernandez told NEWS12.
"It doesn't take away any opportunities from students who would like to be either king or queen," Stony Brook student RJ Samodal told WABC-TV. "You can still apply. It's just the title is different."
The scrapping of the homecoming queen and king titles is nothing new on college campuses. San Diego State replaced the titles in 2015. In 2017, Northwestern University announced that students would vote on a ''Homecoming Wildcat,'' rather than a King and Queen. Penn State made the award gender-neutral in April of the same year. This September, Purdue University followed suit.
Stony Brook University also has a decade-old gender-inclusive housing program, which lets students "from across the gender spectrum" live together.
[RELATED: College lists 'ne,' 've,' 'ey' as gender-neutral pronouns]
SBU is a publicly-funded school in Suffolk County, Long Island and is part of the State University of New York system. The university has not shied away from public controversy.
During spring 2018, Campus Reform reported on an incident in which SBU's Students for Justice in Palestine club threatened to "eradicate" Zionism on campus. Also, last semester, in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., the Young Democratic Socialists of America group at Stony Brook demanded that the campus police be disarmed.
Campus Reform reported that the university's Graduate Queer Alliance claimed that a debate in which a Christian author participated was ''hate speech" in 2015. Furthermore, the entire SUNY system, which comprises of more than sixty colleges and universities, passed a resolution to ''Create Transgender Health Care Education at SUNY Campuses'' in Jan. 2017.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Jacob_Floam
Sarah Silverman Says Louis C.K. Masturbated in Front of Her '' Variety
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:41
October 22, 2018 11:08AM PTSarah Silverman said comedian Louis C.K. used to masturbate in front of her with her permission, during an interview on Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show on Monday.
''I don't know if I'm going to regret saying this,'' Silverman said. ''I've known Louis forever, I'm not making excuses for him, so please don't take this that way. We are peers. We are equals. When we were kids, and he asked if he could masturbate in front of me, sometimes I'd go, 'F'-- yeah I want to see that!' '... It's not analogous to the other women that are talking about what he did to them. He could offer me nothing. We were only just friends. So sometimes, yeah, I wanted to see it, it was amazing. Sometimes I would say, 'F'--ing no, gross,' and we got pizza.''
Silverman used the story as part of her explanation for why she believed C.K. didn't understand the implications of his actions, pointing to his sudden fame and his inability to grapple with the newfound power that came with it.
''I'm not saying what he did was okay. I'm just saying at a certain point, when he became influential, not even famous, but influential in the world of comedy, it changes,'' she said, echoing past statements in which she addressed the scandal. ''He felt like he was the same person, but the dynamic was different and it was not okay.''
''I'm not saying everyone should embrace Louis again,'' the comedian continued. ''I believe he has remorse. I just want him to talk about it on stage. He's going to have to find his way or not find his way.''
Last year, Silverman's sister Laura Silverman also tweeted that C.K. masturbated in front of her approximately 20 times during a cross country trip before he was famous. However, she also clarified that she did not view the act as criminal: ''After that, it's was Louis C.K., on a cross country trip before he was famous. About 20 times. Not criminal. But compulsive, rude & gross,'' she wrote.
Sarah Silverman has addressed the sexual misconduct allegations waged against C.K. in the past, saying she was conflicted about the situation.
''He wielded his power with women in f'--ed up ways, sometimes to the point where they left comedy entirely,'' she said. ''I could couch this with heartwarming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is, but that's totally irrelevant, isn't it? Yes, it is. It's a real mindf'--, because I love Louis. But Louis did these things. Both of those statements are true. So I just keep asking myself, 'Can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them?'''
RELATED VIDEO:
Sarah Silverman said comedian Louis C.K. used to masturbate in front of her with her permission, during an interview on Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show on Monday. ''I don't know if I'm going to regret saying this,'' Silverman said. ''I've known Louis forever, I'm not making excuses for him, so please don't take this that ['...]
Sarah Silverman said comedian Louis C.K. used to masturbate in front of her with her permission, during an interview on Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show on Monday. ''I don't know if I'm going to regret saying this,'' Silverman said. ''I've known Louis forever, I'm not making excuses for him, so please don't take this that ['...]
Sarah Silverman said comedian Louis C.K. used to masturbate in front of her with her permission, during an interview on Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show on Monday. ''I don't know if I'm going to regret saying this,'' Silverman said. ''I've known Louis forever, I'm not making excuses for him, so please don't take this that ['...]
Sarah Silverman said comedian Louis C.K. used to masturbate in front of her with her permission, during an interview on Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show on Monday. ''I don't know if I'm going to regret saying this,'' Silverman said. ''I've known Louis forever, I'm not making excuses for him, so please don't take this that ['...]
Sarah Silverman said comedian Louis C.K. used to masturbate in front of her with her permission, during an interview on Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show on Monday. ''I don't know if I'm going to regret saying this,'' Silverman said. ''I've known Louis forever, I'm not making excuses for him, so please don't take this that ['...]
Sarah Silverman said comedian Louis C.K. used to masturbate in front of her with her permission, during an interview on Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show on Monday. ''I don't know if I'm going to regret saying this,'' Silverman said. ''I've known Louis forever, I'm not making excuses for him, so please don't take this that ['...]
Sarah Silverman said comedian Louis C.K. used to masturbate in front of her with her permission, during an interview on Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show on Monday. ''I don't know if I'm going to regret saying this,'' Silverman said. ''I've known Louis forever, I'm not making excuses for him, so please don't take this that ['...]
Bible Museum says five of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake - BBC News
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:34
Image copyright EPA A US Bible museum has removed fragments of what it believed were part of the Dead Sea Scrolls from display, after tests suggested they were forgeries.
The Museum of the Bible, in Washington DC, sent five of its 16 fragments for analysis in Germany.
But results showed "characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin", the museum said.
Costing $500m (£386m), the museum was opened by Evangelical Christian and billionaire Steve Green in 2017.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a set of ancient manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible.
The first of the scrolls were found in caves in Qumran on the western shore of the Dead Sea in 1947. They were reportedly first discovered by a young Bedouin shepherd searching for lost sheep.
'Commitment to transparency'The tests were ordered after biblical scholars who examined 13 of the museum's previously unstudied fragments said there was a "high probability" that a number of them were modern forgeries.
The museum's chief curatorial officer, Jeffrey Kloha, said that he had hoped the "testing would render different results".
However, he added: "This is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artefacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency,"
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Media caption Why is there a new Bible museum in Washington DC?It is not the first time the museum's owners have faced controversy.
Last year, Mr Green's company the Hobby Lobby paid a $3m fine (£2.3m) and returned thousands of items after the US Department of Justice accused it of smuggling artefacts from Iraq.
Authorities: Explosive device found near George Soros' home
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:18
BEDFORD, N.Y. (AP) '-- An object that appeared to be an explosive device was found in a mailbox at the home of George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who has donated heavily to liberal causes and is a frequent target of unfounded right-wing conspiracy theories.
The Bedford Police Department said it responded to the address in the hamlet of Katonah at 3:45 p.m. Monday after an employee of the residence opened the package.
The person placed the package in a wooded area and called police, who alerted the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives.
Bedford police said the FBI's terrorism task force was investigating.
The FBI's New York field office said on Twitter that it was ''conducting an investigation at and around a residence in Bedford, NY. There is no threat to public safety, and we have no further comment at this time.''
Neither local nor federal authorities would say whether the object was capable of exploding.
A message emailed to Soros' foundation wasn't immediately returned.
Soros, who made his fortune in hedge funds, frequently donates to liberal causes and is vilified on the right.
Recently, conservative critics have, without evidence, accused him of secretly financing a caravan of Central American migrants to make their way north toward Mexico and the U.S.
Others have falsely accused him of being a Nazi collaborator during World War II, when he was a child in Hungary.
Activists frequently post the addresses of homes he owns in Westchester County, north of New York City, on social media sometimes accompanied by ill wishes.
FBI officials didn't respond to requests for more information late Monday.
Trump 'not satisfied' with explanations of Khashoggi death
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:17
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- President Donald Trump said Monday he's not satisfied with the explanations he's heard about the death of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi and is awaiting reports from U.S. personnel returning from the region.
Khashoggi, who lived in the United States and wrote critically about the Saudi royal family, died earlier this month at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia said he was killed in a fistfight, but Turkish officials said the 59-year-old Washington Post columnist was attacked and killed by a 15-man Saudi team.
Asked if he believed Saudi Arabia's explanation, Trump said, ''I am not satisfied with what I've heard.''
''We're going to get to the bottom of it. We have people over in Saudi Arabia now. We have top intelligence people in Turkey. They're coming back either tonight or tomorrow,'' Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving for a political rally in Texas.
''We're going to know a lot over the next two days about the Saudi situation,'' said Trump. ''It's a very sad thing.''
Trump spoke Sunday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the son of Saudi King Salman.
''He says he is not involved nor is the king,'' Trump told USA Today in an interview aboard Air Force One Monday en route to a political rally in Texas. The newspaper said Trump declined to say whether he believed the crown prince's denials. If their involvement was proven, Trump said: ''I would be very upset about it. We'll have to see.''
Trump characterized Khashoggi's incident as a ''plot gone awry'' and told the newspaper he didn't think the writer was deliberately lured into the consulate to be killed.
When he was asked late last week whether he thought Saudi Arabia's claim that Khashoggi died in a fistfight was credible, the president answered: ''I do. I do.''
That statement rankled members of Congress and former government officials who have accused Riyadh of trying to cover up the truth behind Khashoggi's death or hide any evidence that the kingdom, particularly the crown prince, authorized it.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, who has been trying to coax Trump into ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia, said Monday that it's ''laughable'' to believe the crown prince was not involved in Khashoggi's death.
Trump said any U.S. response should not involve scrapping billions of dollars in arms sales, which would hurt U.S. defense industries and eliminate U.S. jobs. ''I don't want to lose all of that investment that's being made in our country,'' he said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump will continue to demand answers. ''He'll make a determination on what he wants to do once he feels like he has all of the information that he needs,'' she said.
Whatever the U.S. response, U.S. ties with its Gulf ally have hit rough waters. The Khashoggi affair also has threatened to upend the relationship of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner with the crown prince.
The two men '-- both in their 30s, both trusted aides of older, familial leaders '-- struck a bond last spring and consulted with one another frequently in private calls in the months that followed. The crown prince, who is known in diplomatic circles as ''MBS,'' has drawn some praise in the West for his moves to modernize the kingdom and criticism for his government's arrests of rivals and critics.
Trump now plays down the relationship, saying the crown prince and Kushner are ''just two young guys.'' But their back-channel relationship unnerved many in the Trump administration and Washington foreign policy establishment who feared that the White House was betting too big on the crown prince.
Kushner on Monday fended off criticism that the Trump administration was giving Saudi Arabia cover. He said administration officials have their ''eyes wide open.''
''We're getting facts in from multiple places and once those facts come in, the secretary of state will work with our national security team to help us determine what we want to believe, what we think is credible and what we think is not credible,'' Kushner told CNN.
Even Trump, however, admits that Kushner's work on trying to craft peace between Israel and the Palestinians has been set back by Khashoggi's death. ''There are a lot of setbacks. This is a setback for that,'' Trump told The Washington Post in a weekend phone interview.
Bruce Riedel, a former Middle East specialist for the CIA and National Security Council, said the Trump administration ''desperately wants the Istanbul affair to go away and the MBS-Jared bromance obscured.''
An administration official who regularly deals with Kushner pushed back against claims that Kushner and the crown prince are joined at the hip. The official was not authorized to discuss the relationship and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
The official said the two had spoken since the crisis erupted and said Kushner's comment that he had told the crown prince to be ''transparent'' is an accurate reflection of the conversation, which took place before the Saudis' most recent explanation for Khashoggi's death.
The official said Kushner '-- like other members of the administration, including Trump '-- believes Saudi Arabia should suffer some sort of consequence, but said Kushner also believes the U.S.-Saudi relationship ''shouldn't be blown up'' because of the Khashoggi matter.
Gerald Feierstein, a former ambassador to Yemen and a top-ranking U.S. diplomat for Middle East policy for three years, said keeping the back channel between Kushner and the crown prince now might ''prove to be unsustainable.'' Feierstein, now with the Middle East Institute, said he thinks that U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia should be in the hands of professional diplomats, not the president's adviser.
___
Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in New York and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.
Payloads for RSS
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 22:33
Thu, Jan 11, 2001; by Dave Winer.
The click-wait system When I started talking with Adam Curry late last year, he wanted me to think about high quality video on the Internet, and I totally didn't want to hear about it. Like a lot of people, I had tried it, and found it unsatisfying and frankly, exhausting.
I thought that video on the Internet was a loser for three reasons, that build on each other:
1. When I click on a link to view some video, I have to wait.
2. The wait is longer than the video. (In other words I have to wait two minutes for ten seconds of video.)
3. The quality is horrible.
All three effects are bad, but the first is the worst. The Internet lifestyle is frenetic. There's no time to wait. The remaining two negatives only make video less attractive, but the first is the killer.
But Adam persisted and showed me that if I was willing to change my point of view, it could work, without any waiting and with very high quality.
No click-wait What if, in the middle of the night, while I'm not using my computer, it downloads huge video and audio stuff to my local hard drive. Then when I arrive in the morning there are fresh bits, news clips, a song of the day, whatever, provided by all kinds of content providers, from big TV networks like CNN and MSNBC, to a Dutch school where kids are taking a film class using inexpensive video recorders and iMacs.
Let's see what happens with 1, 2 and 3 in this scenario.
1. When I click on a link to view some video, it starts playing immediately, because it is already on my local disk.
2. The wait is zero.
3. The quality is limited by the size of my local disk, not by the capacity of my connection.
A different user interface What's different about this system is that you subscribe to channels instead of clicking-and-waiting. I feel that nothing is lost with this approach, because video on the Internet never worked for me, and probably for many others. However, streaming news items through RSS works quite well, and it's a simple matter to teach RSS about multimedia payloads.
Of course there's a change in user interface. You never see a video or music document until it's fully downloaded. The computer does the waiting, not you. In the system that Adam envisions, a video DJ, someone like Adam at MTV in the 80s and 90s, someone whose judgment you trust, or whose tastes you like, is pushing high fidelity bits onto your hard drive, using no more hardware and network connections than you already have.
There is no central authority, no spectrum to allocate, it's open to amateurs, like the Internet itself.
A new element So that's the philosophy, now let's put some meat on the bones.
RSS already does most of what we want. With the addition of the <enclosure> sub-element of <item> any RSS element can describe a video or audio file (actually any type of file).
<enclosure> has three attributes: url says where the file is located, length says how big it is, and type says what its type is. This way a workstation or aggregator can know in advance, without having to do any communication, what it's going to get, and apply scheduling and filtering rules.
An example Here's an example of a RSS file that links to several Grateful Dead songs.
Each <item> contains an <enclosure> as explained above.
<enclosure url="http://www.scripting.com/mp3s/touchOfGrey.mp3" length="5588242" type="audio/mpeg"/>I've configured my system to download enclosures between 2AM and 4AM, a time when I don't use my computer.
When I arrive at work, I check the incoming Log and see there's a new song.
I click. It plays.
No wait.
Software My company, UserLand, has a product in development called My.UserLand On The Desktop that supports both sides of this format. You can use it to create channels that have <item>s with <enclosure>s, and it manages downloads for these channels. So it's both an authoring and viewing tool.
It's a bootstrap, and it's open, meaning that anyone can develop software that works on either or both sides of this connection.
Adam's company is doing a graphic environment for music and video on PCs in Java. Others are welcome to join up and do software for all kinds of computers, content and people.
"This is just email" First, everything on the Internet is just like something else. Or if it's any good it's just like everything else.
If you try to push video and audio through email you'll find the client user interface as daunting as the wait-click Web experience. How do I keep enclosures from downloading while I'm accessing email from a phone connection in a hotel? Sure, you could add a complex dialog to an already overly-complex email client user interface, and the result would be that no one could set it up properly and no new video would actually get to the desktop. (You'd hate the feature until you figured out how to turn it off.)
Homage I'd like to pay special homage to the Grateful Dead, who have generously allowed their creations to be used to bootstrap new technology in non-commercial ways. To get this process going, we need a content base to get started with. So many technologists, me included, love the music of the Dead. I think they may have left a legacy for technologists that's as important as the legacy they left in music.
See also 1/5/01: SOAP meets RSS describes a publish-and-subscribe notification system based on XML-RPC and SOAP and of course RSS.
Radio UserLand: Re: Virtual Bandwidth
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 22:29
Author: Dave Winer Posted: 10/31/2000; 9:15:41 PM Topic: Virtual Bandwidth Msg #: 3284 (in response to 3252) Prev/Next: 3283/3285 Reads: 2106 I'm no developer and only kinda get by with scripting RU apps. Anyone interested in seeing what we can do with RU to accomplish some of what I've been dreaming about?Adam is too modest. We spent another hour talking again today, and the pieces are beginning to fit together. Interesting stuff he's doing over there in Amsterdam. Maybe we should have a Frontier developer's dinner in Amsterdam in mid-November? I'm lookin for an excuse to hop on a plane.
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Radio UserLand: Virtual Bandwidth
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 22:28
With help from Dave Winer in several brainstorming sessions last week in NYC, I wrote a piece on Virtual Bandwidth (
http://adamcurry.editthispage.com/broadband/)
I'm no developer and only kinda get by with scripting RU apps. Anyone interested in seeing what we can do with RU to accomplish some of what I've been dreaming about?
AC
There are responses to this message:Re: Virtual Bandwidth, Adam Curry, 11/2/00; 6:00:27 AM
Re: Virtual Bandwidth, Dave Winer, 10/31/00; 9:15:41 PM
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The Rumors of Podcasting's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 19:14
Photo credit: Flickr via Creative Commons/jackaroidWhat tulips, cryptocurrency, and bespoke home-delivered dog food can tell us about the resilience of audio and the madness of crowds
Over the past week I've seen a lot of hand-wringing over whether podcasting's bubble has burst. If you are short on time, I can give you the answer right up front: no, it hasn't.
The bubble hasn't burst because there wasn't a bubble in the first place.
If you care about the digital audio industry, you are probably well aware'Š'--'Šif not completely tired of hearing about'Š'--'Šsome of the industry changes that have taken place over the past month or so. These developments include Panopoly's move away from content creation, Buzzfeed laying off its entire in-house audio team, and my own team's departure from Audible. The cumulative effect has been for some to start to wonder out loud if the end is near'...or the party is over'...or the bubble has burst.
It hasn't.
And even if you think it has, the industry fundamentals have not changed, even though the recent news is quite dramatic. In fact, those fundamentals continue to improve'...for now.
There are many myths about podcasting. Many of them seem to be rooted in the belief that podcasting is like a slot machine that pays off on every pull. Occasionally, when an aspiring podcaster pulls the lever and it doesn't pay out for them, they complain that all slot machines suck and are doomed to be terrible failures.
That isn't to say that there isn't something significant happening in podcasting right now'Š'--'Šand it's likely there are more changes to come. But before we walk through all that, let's take a step back.
A bubble is a bubbleWhen you couldn't trade 1,000 pounds of cheese for a single tulip bulb, that's when it was obvious that things were getting a bit weird. That was the first recorded ''bubble,'' back in the Dutch Republic during the 1620s. Times were great, tulips were beautiful, and people couldn't get enough of them, causing a wild price hike that went completely bonkers, then crashed. But there are many more contemporary examples. There was that same general feeling last year when Bitcoin started to flirt with a $20,000 per coin price, up from just $973 eleven months earlier. Years before that, in the late 1990s, almost anyone with a slick PowerPoint deck and the right mix of buzzwords could become an instant paper millionaire based on an IPO for a new tech company with no path to profitability, no viable business plan, or even a clear sense of what it did. In all three cases, things were clearly fucked up and clearly out of control. But while each of these events was happening, nobody cared, because everyone was making such crazy fistfuls of money.
Those were bubbles. Real bubbles. Bubbles that burst and ended up nearly destroying the industries that let it happen (and in the case of Tulipmania, almost took down the entire Dutch economy in the process).
In its simplest terms, market bubbles happen when price exceeds intrinsic value. Another sign of bubbles? The presence of speculators: people buying something in order to sell it again at an ever-escalating price. During the 17th century Dutch run on tulip bulbs, many people bought bulbs just to re-sell them again, because it seemed that there was no ceiling to the price people were willing to pay. I have to admit, they sound like they were really amazing flowers, but was one bulb worth more than eight full-grown hogs? Probably not.
After awhile, Tulipmania devolved into speculators just selling to other speculators. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with that (that could fairly describe commodity markets today), as long as the price is somewhat tethered to what an actual tulip-loving gardener was willing to pay to plant it. That was the problem'Š'--'Šit wasn't. And, when speculators ran out of other speculators to sell up to, the price crashed.
Again, to re-cap: insane prices with no corresponding value, coupled with speculation, equals a bubble.
That, in no way, describes what is happening or has happened in podcasting. There is one minor exception to that statement. Remember the days of $100+ CPM ad sales in 2015? That was much more bubble-like. But a lot of those crazy ad rates had worked themselves out of the system by 2017. Today, pricing for podcasts is pretty stable and realistic to their value.
So if podcasting isn't a bubble'...When people ponder if the podcasting bubble is bursting, I think they are asking the wrong question. To me, it feels more like a gold rush than a bubble. A ''gold rush'' (it's worth noting there isn't a technical definition for this, like there is for a bubble) is characterized by a mass of people rushing into an industry, some (often most) without any of the necessary skills or experience related to the task at hand. Oftentimes, people didn't even know what they didn't know. They just wanted to mine gold, heard it was easy, and jumped in.
We always think of the California gold rush, but there have been many throughout history, with one thing remaining consistent: some people did make huge profits, but most people walked away with little to nothing, often after putting in a lot of effort. But that didn't stop people from trying. It was a ''free for all'' with everyone caught up in the dreams of wealth and success. The barrier to entry was low, and the lure seemed to be seizing an opportunity that would belong to those who got there and got there first.
That feels much more akin to what we've seen in podcasting over the past four years. Lots of people entering, rushing in, actually'Š'--'Šall lured by dreams of easy success. Some did well, most didn't. Remember, the only people who profit off a gold rush are those who sell the shovels and picks (I'm looking at you Sennheiser and Marantz).
What would be a real cause for concernDespite continued momentum and potential, things aren't guaranteed to always be cupcakes and sunshine forever. Podcasting would be in real trouble if one of two things happened: the audience went away or the money went away.
In podcasting, money flows from four basic sources: advertising dollars, derivative rights, listener sensitive revenue, and investment. To be clear, advertising dollars are paid for ads in podcasts; derivative rights are the various outlets for the IP (intellectual property) podcasters create (aka'Š'--'Šmaking a book, movie, TV show, board game, etc. based on the podcast); listener sensitive income is all the money received directly from the audience, such as Patreon contributions, live shows, merch, and so on; and investment is when individuals or institutions invest money in a podcast company/network or an individual show in hopes of generating return down the road.
In the podcast industry, and especially among outside observers, most of the light and heat focuses only on advertising and investment dollars. And, as of this writing, neither of those show signs of weakening. However, I would argue that there is cause for concern that many podcasters are taking on too much investment, and certainly the wrong kind of investment. And podcast advertising'...is still expected to double in the next two years.
Ad moneyMany of the ''sky is falling'' talking heads point to podcast CPM rates, which some believe are unsustainable. Again, a lot of that crazy money has worked itself out of the podcast system. But more importantly, CPM prices are not based on speculation, they are based on results. The reason that podcasts have high CPMs is largely tied to the fact that the ads work. Not only do they work, but they reach an audience who are largely unreachable by traditional advertising. These results are so compelling that they overcome the reservations of those concerned about the historical lack of consistent measurement and data that comes with an open ecosystem like podcasting. And again, ask an ad agency if their podcast budgets are going up or down next year. Almost universally, you'll find they are going up.
Sure, there is a lot of inventory out there'Š'--'Ša ton of podcasts each with many open ads slots. Many go unfilled, and those are the people who have been grumbling lately.
AudienceAudience demand hasn't declined. As of now, looking at surveys and tools that track numbers, there are no signs that things are slowing down. More and more people are listening to podcasts, and even if it plateaus in the next year or two (which many, including myself, have expected to see for awhile now), there are still a sizeable number of people (roughly 67 million every month) consuming billions of episodes of podcasts.
Everything flows from demand, so as long as people are listening'Š'--'Šand doing a lot of listening'Š'--'Šit's hard to argue that anything has burst. As long as the ads work, and the audience is there, so will the money.
So'...what is happening?A maturing. A realignment. A recalibration. The end of a gold rush. Whatever you want to call it, what did happen was a huge helping of reality dulled the shine of the gold rush lure.
And I, for one, think it is largely a good and positive thing.
In today's ''move fast and break things'' digital media culture it isn't surprising that companies and talent can find themselves off course, and need to back up and change tack. When you move quickly, you have to accept that the risk will increase and you'll make some decisions that you will later wish you could change. Out of all the companies who have recognized the opportunity in digital audio and podcasting, it isn't surprising that these pivots are happening. If anything, it would be weird and shocking if everyone made the correct maneuvers every time. It would be depressing if no one was willing to admit some things weren't working.
When I see the moves away from podcast content creation lately, that's what I see. I see companies who started off with all good intentions, but ran up against the reality of what it would take to succeed. They may have been foolish, or overly bullish, or simply have only so much time and attention to do a limited number of things well.
Additionally, I think anyone who looks at the podcasting revolution with a clear eye will have to acknowledge that there will be many more such pivots, recalibrations, and course corrections to come. Frankly, I'm betting the next ones will be more seismic than these.
But there is one more important point to make in order to understand the fortunes of the podcast industry'...
Never bet against audioWhile digital disruption has certain affected legacy media companies, including legacy audio companies (read: broadcasters), there is something very important to remember about audio. It's something that makes it different than any other digital platform.
Audio is historically very resilient.
Radio was the first truly egalitarian mass medium and has seen more disruption than most people realize. Cataclysmic disruption. Yet it persists.
Audio even survived the invention of video.
Many people speculated radio's days were numbered when television became widely available in the 1940s. Audience'Š'--'Šand talent'Š'--'Šall rushed to the exciting new medium. But not only did radio survive, it reinvented itself, and, in the process, accidentally invented rock-n-roll, for Pete's sake. That is pretty badass.
People have been predicting the death of radio for my entire two-plus-decades career in radio. The final nail in the coffin was supposed to be, ironically enough, podcasting. But even when faced with the exciting explosion of podcasting, radio, in its supposed ''demise,'' still managed to drum up $19 BILLION in revenue last year. That, too, is pretty badass.
So if one thing is clear, when someone tells you that any audio platform is done for, ignore them. They are probably wrong.
So where does that leave usOne thing that I've held onto since my departure from Amazon is a bit of Bezos-wisdom that can be really useful at times like this: focus on what doesn't change. He says customers want three basic things from Amazon: great selection, great prices, and great customer service (which includes fast shipping). So, as the world has changed over the past twenty years, Amazon has kept its attention on how to advance those three things. As technology and opportunities present themselves, Amazon leaned towards those that advanced improving selection, price, and service. It's a great guiding principle and can help someone vet and process every unexpected thing that presents itself.
From the evolution of radio through to the current podcast revolution, the winners focus on what doesn't change: namely, making great listens that people love.
So despite all the news of the past few weeks, nothing much has really changed. People still want to listen to great stuff. As long as that remains the case, podcasting will be fine.
This little dose of reality should reinforce what others have long known: there are no shortcuts.
The best way to achieve goals, to build an audience, and to earn the revenue to make it possible: simply be relentless in making your work as incredible as possible. Nothing beats great stories and conversations. No marketing plan, no network effect, no tricks or tips is ever a better investment than simply trying a bit harder to be a bit better than your last episode.
Ignore the naysayers, and let's get back to work.
Facebook reportedly aims to buy a 'major' cybersecurity company
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:45
It's not certain how close Facebook might be to a deal, although it could close a purchase by the end of 2018. Facebook has declined to comment.
An acquisition could help Facebook bolster its defenses, improve its expertise and reduce the chances of a coding mistake compromising millions of users. It might also be as much about the perception behind any such move as anything else. Between the hack and previous incidents like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook's trustworthiness has taken a tumble. A large purchase would signal that the company is serious about upgrading its security, even if the newly-bought technology is only partially useful.
The Dutch pay billions for migrant welfare and will become a minority in their own country
Mon, 22 Oct 2018 13:01
A small country in north-western Europe, the Netherlands officially gained its independence in 1648. It is a country that gained its identity by its constant battle against the sea, and it is a battle they have won.
The Netherlands, a Demographic WaveNow, the Netherlands face a brand new challenge. Waves of migrants are flooding the country, but a debate on the consequences is rare.
As in the rest of the West, migration started after the last world war. Temporary labour migrants came to fill the jobs ''the Dutch did not want to do''.
These Turkish and Moroccan migrants turned out to be permanent rather than temporary. Quite the opposite to leaving happened '' they brought over their families. Adding onto this first wave of migrants were those from the old colonies.
The Dutch have their own colonial guilt, having had colonies in Suriname, Indonesia and several island in the Caribbean. They did have other colonies, but those were taken over by the English, such as New York and South Africa.
To go back to our point '' migrants from these old colonies of course came to live in the Netherlands. The same has happened in the United Kingdom and France.
Now, they are experiencing their third wave of migrants. The odd combination of refugees as well as Africans that will supposedly fund the pensions and fill the gap left by low fertility rates. What will the future hold for this country?
The research is already doneFor some countries there is almost nothing on the internet about their demographic expectations, luckily the Netherlands is different.
Jan van de Beek is a demographer that wanted to investigate how migration influences the welfare state. Initially his university (University of Amsterdam) declined his research suggestion, he turned his back to the academic world and became a freelance researcher.
Van de Beek wanted to find out how much migrants would cost, and how they identified themselves. Many politicians refuse to discuss an upper-limit for migration, but if we don't know how much it costs to take a migrant into the country, how can we know when it would be more than what is affordable?
We will get back to these findings.
What is the current situation?The Netherlands has a population of 17.2 million. The native Dutch population consists of 13.2 million people, but will shrink to 12.1 million by 2060.
This means that 4 million currently have a migrant background. Despite a fertility rate of 1.66, the population grows by 100.000 people per year.
As is typical in Europe, the native population is shrinking and all population growth is due to migrants entering the country.
The, now retired, head of the Central Bureau of Statistics Jan Latten wonders why there is no debate about population size.
He says that in the 1970's there was a fear the population would reach 20 million, an undesired outcome as the country would be too full.
As anti-conception and abortion combined with a cultural shift caused the birth rates to fall, the debate disappeared. Nonetheless, we are heading towards the 20 million again, Latten claims. Population is growing rapidly due to migration, but nobody dares to discuss if this growth is desirable.
The rise of IslamIn 2016 the Muslim population in the Netherlands was 7.1%. By 2050 this percentage is expected to grow to 9.1% (Under zero migration) up to 15.2% under high migration.
Muslims in the Netherlands have a fertility rate of 2.3, which is above the replacement rate '' versus the native Dutch 1.66. Hence even with zero migration the percentage of Muslims in the country is expected to grow.
Let's have a brief side-note on slavery. Apart from colonial guilt there is also a certain guilt for being involved in the slave trade in the Netherlands. Being a global maritime power during the era, of course the Dutch were involved. And of course this is not something to be proud of.
However, so were the Moroccan and Turkish predecessors. The Ottoman Empire and Barbary States were also involved in the slave trade. Among others, they enslaved the Dutch and put them to work in North-Africa.
The women were generally used as sex-slaves. This, of course, does not excuse the behaviour of the Dutch during the era, but the slaving history of Muslim empires is often ignored or forgotten.
Van de Beek states that the Moroccan and Turkish Muslim youths, even the 2nd generation born in the Netherlands, rarely identify primarily as Dutch.
This is very different from the Christian Indonesians who have blended into Dutch society. The Dutch expected the same to happen with the Muslim communities, but this has turned out to be a na¯ve and false belief.
He also shares that 70% of the Muslims prefer Sharia law over Dutch law. A clear sign that integration is failing.
The Turkish community in the Netherlands already has their own national party, called DENK. They currently hold 3 out of 150 seats in the national parliament and signal a strong liking for Turkish President Erdogan. Another clear sign that integration is failing.
The future of the NetherlandsBy 2100 there will be only around 8 million people left in the Netherlands that have descended from ethnic Dutch ancestors, according to Van de Beek. The rest of the country will be descended from migrants.
We should ask ourselves the question '' will this still be the what we call ''the Netherlands''? If the majority of the country consists of groups that do not identify as Dutch, what does that mean for social cohesion? What does it mean for the welfare state? What does it mean for Dutch culture and values?
In the scenario of unlimited migration the Netherlands could have a population of over 25 million by 2060, out of which only 12.1 million are Dutch. In only 40 years the Dutch would have become a minority in their country.
Even with restrictions on migration, the total population would be growing to 18-22 million by 2060. In the 'unlimited migration' scenario we see a mass influx of migrants coming from Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to Van de Beek the massive population growth in Africa will create Malthusian pressures, causing a huge flow of migrants wanting to migrate north to flee from poverty and famine.
Yet, Van de Beek says, European governments don't have a responsibility of care towards these migrants. They have a responsibility towards their citizens and the migrants already living here.
Letting all the migrants come into the country would mean the importation of poverty, the destruction of social cohesion and the creation of an unbearable burden on the welfare state. In essence it would destroy the Netherlands.
Dutch politicsAlthough the world-famous Freedom Party of Geert Wilders frequently calls attention to the issue of growing Islamic influences in the country, a party that focuses more on demographic changes is Forum voor Democratie (FVD)
FVD, translated as Forum for Democracy, has published a prediction on their website for what the country will look like in two generations. They state that by the end of the century the natives will be a minority in their country.
Something, they say, that the children going to elementary school today will experience. They are the only party so far that has called attention to the long-term demographic trends in the country, and with 2 seats in parliament so far they are still too small to draw governmental attention to it.
Polls do show them frequently polling around 15 seats, or 10% of the voters '' a clear sign some of the Dutch share this concern.
And what about the costs?Research has shown that non-western immigrants cost the Netherlands 7.2 billion euro per year. This is close to the total cost of defense spending, which totaled 7.9 billion in 2017. And, of course, these costs will continue to rise as more migrants come to the Netherlands.
Although some people are reluctant to discuss migrants by looking at their cost, it is essential for a welfare state to keep an eye on its expenses or it will at some point collapse under its own weight. As the Dutch stand by as their VAT tax increases, it is critical to understand what this money is needed for.
Why are the costs so high? Well, because these groups are highly over represented in the group that lives on welfare.
Groups on welfare in the NetherlandsThe table below shows the amount of people belonging to an ethnic group that are living on welfare, in percentages by 2014 data.
The ethnicity at the top are the Dutch. Going down the list we have; Dutch, Turkish, Moroccan, Somalian, Iraqi, Syrian, Afghan, Iranian, Eritrean, and lastly Polish. This shows us nearly 70% of Somalian migrants in the Netherlands are living on welfare.
This makes the argument that we need migrants to fill the jobs in our booming economy rather odd. Clearly the migrants are hardly working. One group is different '' the Polish. The Polish actually rely less on welfare than the native Dutch, they really do come to work.
In 2016, a whopping 16% of non-western migrants were living on welfare. And the number for the Dutch? Around 2%. Frankly, the Dutch welfare state is not designed to have 16% of the people living on welfare.
ConclusionAfter reading this there are a few points you need to take away from this. The first and foremost being that an ongoing migration into the Netherlands will drastically change the country and create a heterogeneous society where millions don't identify with the Dutch identity.
Moreover, these millions will be an economic burden on the country. They take more money from the state than they put in. Who will pay for that? How many tax increases can the government do before the welfare state collapses under its own weight?
And lastly, why is this not something the Dutch are discussing more openly? Why is it such a strange question to ask what the cost of a migrant is, or what the upper limit of migration is? Such questions are a necessity to maintain a functioning welfare state.
If the Netherlands wants to maintain its distinct cultural identity, it will need to re-think its migration policy. With the population boom in Africa it will not be able to sustain itself if those groups continue to flow into Europe.

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