1090: Truth Tell

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 49m
November 29th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Sir Dwayne Melancon Grand Duke of the Pacific Northwest

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Foamer Brahmin of The Tehachapi Loop, James W Gilkeson, Shawn Desantis, Brett Winslow, Sir Hank Scorpio

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
2:53
AC's Dinner with Apple Podcasts HQ
Woodstock
7:30
Hatespeech Defenition Expanded under Global Compact for Migration in the EU
Woodstock
11:46
No Agenda Rewind: JCD Predicts Jeb Bush Wins the 2016 Presidential Election
Woodstock
13:29
Dvorak on Typing
Woodstock
15:16
Tear Gas Used Against Migrants at US Border Crossing
Woodstock
17:00
2009 Honduras Coup Recap
Woodstock
25:46
Migrant Consists Mostly out of Men
Woodstock
28:17
Illegal Immigration
Woodstock
33:03
The Guardian Reports Manafort Held Meetings with Assange
Woodstock
42:14
CNN Reveals Written Statements from Trump for Mueller Investigation
Woodstock
45:24
Russia Seizes Ukranian Vessels in Black Sea off Crimea
Woodstock
52:27
Implications of Global Warming on Democracy Now
Woodstock
54:42
24 Hours of Reality
Woodstock
56:04
Trump's Climate Change Denial on BBC
Woodstock
57:48
UN 1989 Climate Change Predictions
Woodstock
59:02
France to Close 14 Nuclear Reactors by 2035
Woodstock
1:00:52
Credits
Woodstock
1:10:45
White Liberals Present Themselves as Less Competent in Interactions with African-Americans
Woodstock
1:12:42
Ban on Parents in School Lunchrooms in Darien, Conneticut
Woodstock
1:14:13
Florida Police Chief Gets 3 Years for Plot to Frame Black People for Crimes
Woodstock
1:14:38
Australians to Select From 33 Different Gender Labels Under Radical New Proposal
Woodstock
1:15:12
Famous Movie Villains with Scarred Faces Set to be Banned by BFI
Woodstock
1:16:49
Mexican Government Gives Jared Kushner Highest Honors
Woodstock
1:20:58
Alexander Acosta Gave Jeffrey Epstein the Deal of a Lifetime
Woodstock
1:25:54
Detective Publishes Book Exposing High-Level Government Pedophile Ring, Shot in the Head Days Later
Woodstock
1:29:39
E-Scooters Are Now Disrupting Wrists, Elbows and Heads
Woodstock
1:34:35
Homeless E-Scooter Driver in Austin
Woodstock
1:35:59
Australia Struck by Flooding in Sydney, Bushfires in Queensland
Woodstock
1:37:38
UK Parliament Seizes Cache of Facebook Internal Papers
Woodstock
1:40:06
Journalist on CBC Radio Calls out Management on Defending Facebook
Woodstock
1:42:52
DOJ Unseals Charges in Alleged Massive Online Ad Fraud
Woodstock
1:44:28
San Francisco General Hospital May Remove Zuckerberg's Name
Woodstock
1:46:35
Chinese Scientists Condemn CRISPR Baby Experiment as ''Crazy''
Woodstock
1:47:58
John Bolton Won’t Listen to the Khashoggi Murder Tape Because it’s in Arabic
Woodstock
1:50:18
US Representative Schiff Will Probe Trump Business Ties to Saudi Arabia
Woodstock
1:54:21
Cenk Uygur Calls out Media on Not Reporting on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Woodstock
2:00:30
Donations
Woodstock
2:11:20
Birthdays & Title Changes
Woodstock
2:13:54
Hams Will Save The World: FT8, JS8Call
Woodstock
2:17:05
Active Shooter Report at Walter Reed was a Drill Gone Wrong
Woodstock
2:20:26
Democratic Republic of the Congo Begins First-Ever Multi-Drug Ebola Trial
Woodstock
2:24:44
New Material Discovered from Malcolm X Biography
Woodstock
2:26:13
The Insect Apocalypse Is Here
Woodstock
2:27:25
Lion Air Airplane Crash
Woodstock
2:32:45
Robots Are Taking Over Job Interviews
Woodstock
2:36:12
Amazon is Working to Mine Patient Records to Diagnose Disease
Woodstock
2:38:37
AWS Ground Station, Ingest and Process Data from Orbiting Satellites
Woodstock
2:41:49
Ice Cider
Woodstock
2:44:00
End of Show
Woodstock
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Out There
NASA's InSight beams back breathtakingly clear photo of Mars
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 12:55
November 27, 2018 | 2:49am
Modal Trigger Photo of Mars that its spacecraft called InSight acquired NASA
NASA's spacecraft that landed on Mars Monday has beamed back its first clear photo of the desolate Red Planet.
''There's a quiet beauty here. Looking forward to exploring my new home,'' NASA tweeted late Monday, hours after its new InSight lander touched down.
The image came after the rover had earlier sent back a somewhat blurry photo. The space agency said that in the interim the spacecraft had opened its solar panels, which allowed it to recharge its batteries for the mission.
''Our Mars Odyssey orbiter phoned home, relaying news from @NASAInSight indicating its solar panels are open & collecting sunlight on the Martian surface,'' NASA wrote in the tweet. ''Also in the dispatch: this snapshot from the lander's arm showing the instruments in their new home.''
The InSight spacecraft landed on Mars on Monday after six-month journey to the planet. The dispatch that included the first clear photo of Mars from the mission were relayed to Earth by the Mars Odyssey orbiter.
''The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries,'' Tom Hoffman, a project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which leads the mission, said in a statement.
More pictures of the Red Planet may be beamed back in the coming days.
Soon, the mission team will unfurl InSight's robotic arm and use the attached camera to snap photos of the ground for scientists to determine where to place the spacecraft's instruments, NASA said.
Our names are now on Mars, or Arizona
> > ITM!
> >
> > A year or so ago, there was an opportunity for
anyone to submit
> > their name to be included on a chip that has
microscopic engravings
> > of 2.6 million names... a total of two chips
were attached to the
> > Mars Insight lander which, if all goes well
will land soon - on November 26th.
> >
> > I can't remember if I sent you guys the link or
if I submitted your
> > names, but you guys are on the chip. Forever
immortalized along with
> > William Shatner and who knows who else :D
> >
> > Here's your certificate
> >
> > https://mars.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/insight/?cn=2370038
> > 20860&1&#search
> >
> > Here's John's
> >
> > https://mars.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/insight/?cn=1210037
> > 71784&#search
> >
> > Here's a story on the subject as well
> >
> > https://www.space.com/38677-william-shatner-mars-insight-lander-name
> > s.html
> >
> > James
Government Shut Down
The Road to a Spending Showdown Is Paved With Cigars, Guns and Horses
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 18:42
Lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week without an agreement on a year-end spending package that would wrap up seven unfinished bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
Reaching a deal would require a lot of work in a very short period of time. Both chambers are scheduled to be in session for only eight legislative days before a stopgap funding law runs dry on Dec. 7. If no new package is passed by then, Congress would need another continuing resolution to avoid a partial government shutdown.
The outstanding bills for fiscal 2019 encompass about 25 percent of the year's $1.244 trillion in discretionary spending subject to budget limits. But the two parties are as divided as ever over how to parcel out the remaining $313 billion available under the budget caps and handle a collection of policy riders written chiefly by majority House Republicans who will be out of power come January.
And it's not just the headline-grabbing clashes over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall and protecting Robert S. Mueller III's special counsel investigation that could sabotage a deal. Dozens of small-ball skirmishes running the gamut from regulation of cigars to funding for United Nations climate change programs must get resolved too.
Here's a rundown of some of the funding disputes bubbling under the radar:
AgricultureFood for Peace: The House version would cut grants for food shipments to foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations to help combat famine and malnutrition by $216 million, or 12.6 percent, from the prior fiscal year. The Senate bill would provide flat funding for the program, which the White House wants to eliminate altogether.
Horse slaughter: House Republicans want to remove a rider that would prohibit the inspection of horses intended for human consumption. Some lawmakers from both parties and animal rights groups support the ban, but critics say it deprives federal and state agencies of a useful tool in managing wild horse populations. More than 100,000 horses annually are exported to Canada and Mexico, mainly for slaughter, and the meat is sold in foreign markets with a taste for it, such as the European Union, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Premium cigars: Reps. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, and Sanford D. Bishop Jr., a Georgia Democrat, have teamed up on their perennial amendment to weaken some of the FDA's regulatory authority over tobacco products, with this year's effort smaller in scope and focused mainly on carving out ''traditional large and premium cigars.''
Commerce-Justice-ScienceCensus citizenship question: Democrats want to block the Census Bureau from adding a question on citizenship status to the 2020 Census. They argue the question, last included nationwide in 1950, would lead to undercounting as millions of foreign-born residents shy away from responding to the survey for fear of deportation.
Guns: Democrats object to a rider in the House version that they say would block enforcement of a requirement that gun sellers in four southwestern border states report to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms when an individual buys two or more specified semiautomatic rifles known to be favored by Mexican drug cartels within a five-day period. Democrats also want to add a provision allowing the attorney general to block gun purchases by individuals on a terror watch list.
Financial ServicesElection security: Before the midterms, Democrats wanted an extra $380 million neither chamber's Republicans would accept for Election Assistance Commission grants aimed at preventing computer hacking.
Federal Buildings Fund: The House bill would provide about $1 billion less than the Senate version for the General Services Administration's main management fund for federal agency properties the government owns and leases. Much of the gap between the chambers stems from the Senate's inclusion of $767.9 million to purchase the Transportation Department's headquarters in Washington outright, rather than continuing to make lease payments to the building's owner, developer JBG Smith.
Savings Fund: House Republicans set aside $585 million to create a ''Fund for America's Kids and Grandkids'' that could be spent on the next generation only if federal deficits are eliminated. Democrats denounced the move as a gimmick because the Congressional Budget Office projects running deficits for decades.
Abortion: House Republicans inserted provisions barring the main health insurance plan for federal workers from paying for abortions, as well as limiting Medicaid's ability to cover the cost of abortions within the District of Columbia. Democrats want them out of a final bill.
''Dreamers'': House Democrats want language ensuring that beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the Trump administration wants to end, can get federal government jobs.
Pay raises: House Democrats want to cap pay raises for the vice president and other ''high-ranking political appointees.''
Homeland SecurityBorder funding restrictions: Besides the funding dispute, Democrats want to restrict how money could be spent on any physical border barriers as they did in previous years, limiting it to ''previously deployed and operationally effective designs,'' not Trump's vision of a concrete wall.
The border security debate is likely to be accompanied by images that could ramp up the tone of the debate, considering U.S. law enforcement's use of tear gas on migrants at the Southern border near Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego.
''These families have traveled thousands of miles. They're exhausted, hungry and not a threat to national security. They're simply seeking the opportunity to request asylum from the U.S. government and make a better life away from violence and poverty,'' said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a statement, adding, ''It's clear the president is doing all he can to end our asylum system, which will do nothing to help our national security and is little more than a political tactic that will end up harming California and the nation.''
Immigrant detainees: Democrats oppose funding in the House bill to expand the average daily population in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers by 3,480 to 44,000, and to hire an additional 304 ICE Enforcement and Removal officers. They also want prohibitions on detention of pregnant woman and of children for more than 20 days, and to bar removal of individuals residing in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status, which the administration has proposed to revoke.
Polar icebreaker: The U.S. Coast Guard wants to build the first new heavy polar icebreaker in more than 40 years as the military seeks to compete with Russia for supremacy in the Arctic Circle. The Senate backed the White House's initial $750 million request for the new icebreaker in its bill, but the House dropped the funds as GOP lawmakers in that chamber struggled to meet the president's $5 billion border barrier request.
Interior-EnvironmentRegulatory programs: Democrats denounced about $100 million in cuts to EPA regulatory programs in the House bill. House Republicans cheered the cuts, which they said would rein in unnecessary regulations, including the Obama administration's ''Waters of the United States'' rule expanding federal jurisdiction of waterways.
Endangered species: Democrats objected to provisions in the House bill blocking funding to preserve species including the marbled murrelet, grizzly bears and the sage grouse.
State-Foreign OperationsGreen climate fund: The Obama administration pledged $3 billion to the United Nations Green Climate Fund, designed to help developing countries combat climate change. But after $1 billion in payments were made, Trump announced he would halt payments once he took office. Democrats want to lift a prohibition on additional payments.
Transportation-HUDAppointees: The House bill removes a cap on political and presidential appointees at the Department of Transportation, which has been in place since fiscal year 1986. The Senate continues the provision, which would allow no more than 110 such individuals.
Transportation riders: There are perennial disputes on transportation policy, including restricting funding for high-speed rail in California in the House version and an exemption clause for certain rest requirements for truck and bus drivers, among other provisions.
Watch: Rashida Tlaib Can't Stand Bullies and Is Keenly Aware Her District Is Third-Poorest in Nation
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The Simulation
Physicists find we're not living in a computer simulation | Cosmos
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 04:24
Some physical phenomena may be impossible to simulate.
Maciej Frolow / Getty
Just in case it's been weighing on your mind, you can relax now. A team of theoretical physicists from Oxford University in the UK has shown that life and reality cannot be merely simulations generated by a massive extraterrestrial computer.
The finding '' an unexpectedly definite one '' arose from the discovery of a novel link between gravitational anomalies and computational complexity.
In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhi show that constructing a computer simulation of a particular quantum phenomenon that occurs in metals is impossible '' not just practically, but in principle.
The pair initially set out to see whether it was possible to use a technique known as quantum Monte Carlo to study the quantum Hall effect '' a phenomenon in physical systems that exhibit strong magnetic fields and very low temperatures, and manifests as an energy current that runs across the temperature gradient. The phenomenon indicates an anomaly in the underlying space-time geometry.
Quantum Monte Carlo methods use random sampling to analyse many-body quantum problems where the equations involved cannot be solved directly.
Ringel and Kovrizhi showed that attempts to use quantum Monte Carlo to model systems exhibiting anomalies, such as the quantum Hall effect, will always become unworkable.
They discovered that the complexity of the simulation increased exponentially with the number of particles being simulated.
If the complexity grew linearly with the number of particles being simulated, then doubling the number of particles would mean doubling the computing power required. If, however, the complexity grows on an exponential scale '' where the amount of computing power has to double every time a single particle is added '' then the task quickly becomes impossible.
The researchers calculated that just storing information about a couple of hundred electrons would require a computer memory that would physically require more atoms than exist in the universe.
The researchers note that there are a number of other known quantum interactions for which predictive algorithms have not yet been found. They suggest that for some of these they may in fact never be found.
And given the physically impossible amount of computer grunt needed to store information for just one member of this subset, fears that we might be unknowingly living in some vast version of The Matrix can now be put to rest.
There is a caveat to this conclusion: if our universe is a simulation, there is no reason that the laws of physics should apply outside it. In the words of Zohar Ringel, the lead author of the paper, ''Who knows what are the computing capabilities of whatever simulates us?''
Any Collusion?
British Spies Oppose Trump Plan to Declassify Carter Page FBI Warrant | Fortune
Sun, 25 Nov 2018 22:50
British intelligence chiefs are reportedly desperate to convince the White House not to declassify more of the FBI wiretap application on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, because it would expose intelligence-gathering sources and methods.
According to a piece published late Wednesday in the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph, U.S. intelligence officials are also against the idea, as are those in Australia, another member of the intelligence-gathering club known as the Five Eyes (the group also includes Canada and New Zealand.)
Carter Page became a foreign policy advisor on Trump's campaign team early in 2016. The FBI obtained a warrant to monitor his communications several months later, after they became aware that he may have been meeting with Russian officials in Moscow in mid-2016.
Over time, the investigation fed into the sprawling Russia probe that is currently being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. However, it did not spark the Russia probe, as some Republicans have alleged '-- the wider investigation was instead prompted by contact between the Russians and Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, regarding so-called ''dirt'' on Trump's presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.
The Trump administration and its Republican allies have for some time been trying to paint the FBI's surveillance of Page as evidence of a ''deep state'' plot against Trump's ascent to the presidency that is now being continued via the Mueller probe.
The FBI has released a heavily redacted version of its original warrant application, in order to protect sources and intelligence-gathering methods, but since September President Trump has been pushing for a further, if not total, declassification.
According to the Telegraph, the British spy agency MI6 (James Bond's agency, more properly known as the Secret Intelligence Service,) is warning that any further declassification would undermine intelligence gathering, but Trump's allies are claiming that the British are trying to hide something.
As the publication notes, the squabble is ill-timed from the British perspective, as the U.K. is about to leave the EU and is counting on deepening ties with the U.S.
The detention and isolation from the world of Julian Assange - Repubblica.it
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 13:36
They are destroying him slowly. They are doing it through an indefinite detention which has been going on for the last eight years with no end in sight. Julian Assange has become one of the most widely known icons of freedom of the press and the struggle against state secrecy. Recently, his detention in the Ecuadorian embassy in London has been joined by isolation, strict rules and various forms of pressure which seem to have no other purpose than to break him down. A grip meant to destroy his physical and mental ability to resist until he either breaks down or he steps out of the Ecuadorian embassy, unleashing the beginning of his own end. Because if he does step out, he will be arrested by the UK authorities, and at that point the US could request his extradition so that they can put him in jail for publishing classified US documents. Julian Assange is in extremely precarious conditions. After eight months of failed attempts, la Repubblica was finally able to visit the WikiLeaks founder in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, after the current Ecuadorian president, Lenin Moreno had cut him off from all contacts last March with the exception of his lawyers. No contact with friends, stars, journalists, no phone calls, no internet access. Indeed a very heavy isolation regime for anyone, but for Julian Assange in particular, considering that he has been confined to that tiny embassy for the last six years, and also considering that for Assange the internet is not an optional like any other: it's his world. As soon as we saw him, we realised he has lost a lot of weight. Too much. He is so skinny. Not even his winter sweater can hide his skinny shoulders. His nice-looking face, captured by photographers all around the world, is very tense. His long hair and beard make him look like a hermit, though not a nutter: as we exchange greetings, he seems very lucid and rational.rep
This regime of complete isolation would have broken anyone down, yet Assange is holding up: he spends his time thinking and preparing his defence against the US prosecution. But he spends too much time completely alone, with the exception of the security guards at the embassy. He is completely alone throughout the weekends. He is alone during the night, in the embassy building which has been girded with a scaffolding that makes intrusions in the middle of the night easy. The Ecuadorian embassy is problematic for journalists as well: to be authorised to visit Julian Assange, we have been asked by the Ecuadorian authorities to provide: "Brand, model, serial number, IMEI number and telephone number (if applicable) of each of the telephone sets, computers, cameras and other electronic equipment that the applicant wants to enter with to the Embassy and keep during their interview". Such a request, unfortunately, exposes journalists to serious risks of surveillance of their communications. But in order to be able to visit Assange we provided this data, hoping we could keep our phones. As it turned out, providing that data was useless: when we entered the embassy, our phones were seized anyway. The friendly atmosphere we had always experienced during our visits over the last six years is now gone. The Ecuadorian diplomat who had always supported the WikiLeaks founder, Fidel Narvaez, has been removed. Not even the cat is there anymore. With its funny striped tie and ambushes on the ornaments of the Christmas tree at the embassy's entrance, the cat had helped defuse tension inside the building for years. But Assange has preferred to spare the cat an isolation which has become unbearable and allow it a healthier life. The news that surfaced last week, revealing the existence of criminal charges against Julian Assange by the US authorities, charges which were supposed to remain under seal until it was impossible for Assange to evade arrest, vindicates what Assange has feared for years. He is now waiting for the charges to be unsealed, but in the meantime he is silent: the risk that he could suddenly lose Ecuador's protection due to some public statement is not improbable these days. Two years ago, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) established that the UK (at that time Sweden as well) is responsible for detaining Assange arbitrarily: it should free him and compensate him. London did not welcome this decision: they tried to appeal it, but lost the appeal and since then have simply ignored it. The British media has never called on the UK authorities to comply with the UN body's decision, quite the opposite: some even lashed out against the UN body. If Julian Assange ends up in the hands of the UK authorities in the upcoming months and the US asks for his extradition, where will the British medial stand? Never before has the life of the WikiLeaks founder been so crucially in the hands of public opinion and in the hands of one of the few powers whose mission it is to reign in the worst instincts of our governments: the press.Noi non siamo un partito, non cerchiamo consenso, non riceviamo finanziamenti pubblici, ma stiamo in piedi grazie ai lettori che ogni mattina ci comprano in edicola, guardano il nostro sito o si abbonano a Rep:.Se vi interessa continuare ad ascoltare un'altra campana, magari imperfetta e certi giorni irritante, continuate a farlo con convinzione.
Mario Calabresi
Sostieni il giornalismo Abbonati a Repubblica Argomenti:WikiLeaksProtagonisti:Julian Assange
'Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say' diff viewer (0/1) - News Sniffer
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 17:35
Version 0Version 1Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassyManafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say2018-11-27 14:50:22 UTC2018-11-27 16:05:16 UTC(about 1 hour later)Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump's campaign, the Guardian has been told.Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump's campaign, the Guardian has been told.Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 '' during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump's push for the White House.Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 '' during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump's push for the White House. It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. It is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last apparent meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is ''100% false''. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian's questions about the visits.Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is ''100% false''. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian's questions about the visits.In a series of tweets WikiLeaks said Assange and Manafort had not met. Assange described the story as a hoax.Manafort was jailed this year and was thought to have become a star cooperator in the Mueller inquiry. But on Monday Mueller said Manafort had repeatedly lied to the FBI, despite agreeing to cooperate two months ago in a plea deal. According to a court document, Manafort had committed ''crimes and lies'' on a ''variety of subject matters''.Manafort was jailed this year and was thought to have become a star cooperator in the Mueller inquiry. But on Monday Mueller said Manafort had repeatedly lied to the FBI, despite agreeing to cooperate two months ago in a plea deal. According to a court document, Manafort had committed ''crimes and lies'' on a ''variety of subject matters''.His defence team says he believes what he has told Mueller to be truthful and has not violated his deal.His defence team says he believes what he has told Mueller to be truthful and has not violated his deal.Manafort's first visit to the embassy took place a year after Assange sought asylum inside, two sources said.Manafort's first visit to the embassy took place a year after Assange sought asylum inside, two sources said.A separate internal document written by Ecuador's Senain intelligence agency and seen by the Guardian lists ''Paul Manaford [sic]'' as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions ''Russians''.A separate internal document written by Ecuador's Senain intelligence agency and seen by the Guardian lists ''Paul Manaford [sic]'' as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions ''Russians''. According to two sources, Manafort returned to the embassy in 2015. He paid another visit in spring 2016, turning up alone, around the time Trump named him as his convention manager. The visit is tentatively dated to March. According to the sources, Manafort returned to the embassy in 2015. He paid another visit in spring 2016, turning up alone, around the time Trump named him as his convention manager. The visit is tentatively dated to March. Manafort's 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, one source said, adding that the American was casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt.Manafort's 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, one source said, adding that the American was casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt.Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.Embassy staff were aware only later of the potential significance of Manafort's visit and his political role with Trump, it is understood.Embassy staff were aware only later of the potential significance of Manafort's visit and his political role with Trump, it is understood.The revelation could shed new light on the sequence of events in the run-up to summer 2016, when WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of emails hacked by the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency. Hillary Clinton has said the hack contributed to her defeat.The revelation could shed new light on the sequence of events in the run-up to summer 2016, when WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of emails hacked by the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency. Hillary Clinton has said the hack contributed to her defeat.The previously unreported Manafort-Assange connection is likely to be of interest to Mueller, who has been investigating possible contacts between WikiLeaks and associates of Trump including the political lobbyist Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr.The previously unreported Manafort-Assange connection is likely to be of interest to Mueller, who has been investigating possible contacts between WikiLeaks and associates of Trump including the political lobbyist Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr.One key question is when the Trump campaign was aware of the Kremlin's hacking operation '' and what, if anything, it did to encourage it. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion.One key question is when the Trump campaign was aware of the Kremlin's hacking operation '' and what, if anything, it did to encourage it. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion.Earlier this year Mueller indicted 12 GRU intelligence officers for carrying out the hack, which began in March 2016.Earlier this year Mueller indicted 12 GRU intelligence officers for carrying out the hack, which began in March 2016.In June of that year WikiLeaks emailed the GRU via an intermediary seeking the DNC material. After failed attempts, Vladimir Putin's spies sent the documents in mid-July to WikiLeaks as an encrypted attachment.In June of that year WikiLeaks emailed the GRU via an intermediary seeking the DNC material. After failed attempts, Vladimir Putin's spies sent the documents in mid-July to WikiLeaks as an encrypted attachment.According to sources, Manafort's acquaintance with Assange goes back at least five years, to late 2012 or 2013, when the American was working in Ukraine and advising its Moscow-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych.According to sources, Manafort's acquaintance with Assange goes back at least five years, to late 2012 or 2013, when the American was working in Ukraine and advising its Moscow-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych. Why Manafort sought out Assange in 2013 is unclear. During this period the veteran consultant was involved in black operations against Yanukovych's chief political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, whom Yanukovych had jailed. Manafort ran an extensive lobbying operation featuring European former politicians. Why Manafort might have sought out Assange in 2013 is unclear. During this period the veteran consultant was involved in black operations against Yanukovych's chief political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, whom Yanukovych had jailed. Manafort ran an extensive lobbying operation featuring European former politicians. He flew frequently from the US to Ukraine's capital, Kiev '' usually via Frankfurt but sometimes through London, flight records seen by the Guardian show.He flew frequently from the US to Ukraine's capital, Kiev '' usually via Frankfurt but sometimes through London, flight records seen by the Guardian show.Manafort is currently in jail in Alexandria, Virginia. In August a jury convicted him of crimes arising from his decade-long activities in Ukraine. They include large-scale money laundering and failure to pay US tax. Manafort pleaded guilty to further charges in order to avoid a second trial in Washington.Manafort is currently in jail in Alexandria, Virginia. In August a jury convicted him of crimes arising from his decade-long activities in Ukraine. They include large-scale money laundering and failure to pay US tax. Manafort pleaded guilty to further charges in order to avoid a second trial in Washington.As well as accusing him of lying on Monday, the special counsel moved to set a date for Manafort to be sentenced.As well as accusing him of lying on Monday, the special counsel moved to set a date for Manafort to be sentenced.One person familiar with WikiLeaks said Assange was motivated to damage the Democrats campaign because he believed a future Trump administration would be less likely to seek his extradition on possible charges of espionage. This fate had hung over Assange since 2010, when he released confidential US state department cables. It contributed to his decision to take refuge in the embassy.One person familiar with WikiLeaks said Assange was motivated to damage the Democrats campaign because he believed a future Trump administration would be less likely to seek his extradition on possible charges of espionage. This fate had hung over Assange since 2010, when he released confidential US state department cables. It contributed to his decision to take refuge in the embassy.According to the dossier written by the former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, Manafort was at the centre of a ''well-developed conspiracy of cooperation'' between the Trump campaign and Russia's leadership. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Clinton, Steele wrote, whom Putin ''hated and feared''.According to the dossier written by the former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, Manafort was at the centre of a ''well-developed conspiracy of cooperation'' between the Trump campaign and Russia's leadership. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Clinton, Steele wrote, whom Putin ''hated and feared''.In a memo written soon after the DNC emails were published, Steele said: ''The [hacking] operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team.''In a memo written soon after the DNC emails were published, Steele said: ''The [hacking] operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team.''As a candidate Trump warmly welcomed the dump of DNC emails by Assange. In October 2016 he declared: ''I love WikiLeaks.'' Trump's comments came after WikiLeaks released a second tranche of emails seized from the email account of John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman.As a candidate Trump warmly welcomed the dump of DNC emails by Assange. In October 2016 he declared: ''I love WikiLeaks.'' Trump's comments came after WikiLeaks released a second tranche of emails seized from the email account of John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman.The Trump White House subsequently sent out mixed messages over Assange and his legal fate. In 2017 and behind the scenes Assange tried to reach a deal with Trump's Department of Justice that might see him avoid US prison.The Trump White House subsequently sent out mixed messages over Assange and his legal fate. In 2017 and behind the scenes Assange tried to reach a deal with Trump's Department of Justice that might see him avoid US prison.In May 2017, , Manafort flew to Ecuador to hold talks with the country's president-elect Len­n Moreno. The discussions, days before Moreno was sworn in, and before Manafort was indicted '' were ostensibly about a large-scale Chinese investment.In May 2017, , Manafort flew to Ecuador to hold talks with the country's president-elect Len­n Moreno. The discussions, days before Moreno was sworn in, and before Manafort was indicted '' were ostensibly about a large-scale Chinese investment.However, one source in Quito suggests that Manafort also discreetly raised Assange's plight. Another senior foreign ministry source said he was sceptical Assange was mentioned. At the time Moreno was expected to continue support for him.However, one source in Quito suggests that Manafort also discreetly raised Assange's plight. Another senior foreign ministry source said he was sceptical Assange was mentioned. At the time Moreno was expected to continue support for him.Last week a court filing released in error suggested that the US justice department had secretly charged Assange with a criminal offence. Written by the assistant US attorney, Kellen Dwyer, the document did not say what Assange had been charged with or when the alleged offence took place.Last week a court filing released in error suggested that the US justice department had secretly charged Assange with a criminal offence. Written by the assistant US attorney, Kellen Dwyer, the document did not say what Assange had been charged with or when the alleged offence took place.Paul ManafortPaul ManafortDonald TrumpDonald TrumpJulian AssangeJulian AssangeWikiLeaksWikiLeaksEcuadorEcuadorHillary ClintonHillary ClintonRobert MuellerRobert MuellernewsnewsShare on FacebookShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on TwitterShare via EmailShare via EmailShare on LinkedInShare on LinkedInShare on PinterestShare on PinterestShare on Google+Share on Google+Share on WhatsAppShare on WhatsAppShare on MessengerShare on MessengerReuse this contentReuse this content
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White Liberals Present Themselves as Less Competent in Interactions with African-Americans | Yale Insights
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 16:29
Samanta TelloCydney H. DupreeNovember 15, 2018
A new study suggests that white Americans who hold liberal socio-political views use language that makes them appear less competent in an effort to get along with racial minorities.
Illustration: Detail from Silenced Voices of Everyday Sheroes by Samanta Tello
By Jyoti Madhusoodanan
Racial bias can put people of color at a disadvantage when interviewing for a job, buying a house, or interacting with the police. New research suggests that bias may also shape daily interactions between racial minorities and white people, even those whites who tend to be less biased.
According to new research by Cydney Dupree, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Yale SOM, white liberals tend to downplay their own verbal competence in exchanges with racial minorities, compared to how other white Americans act in such exchanges. The study is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
While many previous studies have examined how people who hold racial bias behave in multi-racial settings, few have studied how whites who are more well-intentioned interact with people of other races. ''There's less work that explores how well-intentioned whites try to get along with racial minorities,'' Dupree says. ''We wanted to know their strategies for increasing connections between members of different social groups'--and how effective these strategies are.''
Read the study: ''Self-Presentation in Interracial Settings: The Competence Downshift by White Liberals''Dupree and her co-author, Susan Fiske of Princeton University, began by analyzing the words used in campaign speeches delivered by Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to different audiences over the years. They scanned 74 speeches delivered by white candidates over a 25-year period. Approximately half were addressed to mostly-minority audiences'--at a Hispanic small business roundtable discussion or a black church, for example. They then paired each speech delivered to a mostly-minority audience with a comparable speech delivered at a mostly-white audience'--at a mostly-white church or university, for example. The researchers analyzed the text of these speeches for two measures: words related to competence (that is, words about ability or status, such as ''assertive'' or ''competitive'') and words related to warmth (that is, words about friendliness, such as ''supportive'' and ''compassionate'').
Warmth, related to intentions towards others, and competence, related to the ability to carry out those intentions, are two fundamental dimensions of how we see others and portray ourselves in social interactions. Stereotypical portrayals of black Americans generally show them as being less competent than their white counterparts, but not necessarily less friendly or warm, Dupree explains.
The team found that Democratic candidates used fewer competence-related words in speeches delivered to mostly minority audiences than they did in speeches delivered to mostly white audiences. The difference wasn't statistically significant in speeches by Republican candidates, though ''it was harder to find speeches from Republicans delivered to minority audiences,'' Dupree notes. There was no difference in Democrats' or Republicans' usage of words related to warmth. ''It was really surprising to see that for nearly three decades, Democratic presidential candidates have been engaging in this predicted behavior.''
With this preliminary evidence in hand, the researchers set out to further test their ideas.
''My hope is that this work will help include well-intentioned people who see themselves as allies but who may be unwittingly contributing to group divides.''
They designed a series of experiments in which white participants were asked to respond to a hypothetical or presumed-real interaction partner. For half of these participants, their partner was given a stereotypically white name (such as ''Emily''); for the other half, their partner was given a stereotypically black name (such as ''Lakisha''). Participants were asked to select from a list of words for an email to their partner. For some studies, this email was for a work-related task; for others, this email was simply to introduce themselves. Each word had been previously scored on how warm or competent it appears. The word ''sad,'' for example, scored low for both warmth and competence. ''Melancholy,'' on the other hand, scored high for competence and low on warmth.
Participant also completed a variety of measures that assessed how liberal they were.
The researchers found that liberal individuals were less likely to use words that would make them appear highly competent when the person they were addressing was presumed to be black rather than white. No significant differences were seen in the word selection of conservatives based on the presumed race of their partner. ''It was kind of an unpleasant surprise to see this subtle but persistent effect,'' Dupree says. ''Even if it's ultimately well-intentioned, it could be seen as patronizing.''
How Fair Is American Society?Americans tend to be overly optimistic about economic equality between white and black citizens, according to a new study by Yale researchers. SOM's Michael Kraus discusses why people systematically misperceive the reality of the wealth and income gap and what can be done to make the American dream more than a myth. Read more >>
Dupree and Fiske suspect that the behavior stems from a liberal person's desire to connect with other races. One possible reason for the ''competence downshift,'' as the authors describe it, is that, regardless of race, people tend to downplay their competence when they want to appear likeable and friendly. But it's also possible that ''this is happening because people are using common stereotypes in an effort to get along,'' Dupree says.
Initial data from follow-up studies suggest that describing a black person as highly intelligent, thus reversing the stereotype, or as already highly motivated to get along with whites, thus removing the need to prove goodwill, can reduce the likelihood that a white person will downplay their competence in their interactions with the black person.
Now, Dupree is working to understand how these behaviors play out in real-world organizations: for example, whether medical professionals engage in this behavior when interacting with minority patients and how corporate executives present themselves to minority peers. She is also testing the efficacy of this possibly strategic behavior: for example, do black receivers of white liberals' competence downshift see this behavior as demeaning or endearing?
''There's a lot of research focused on biased individuals and how holding bias, especially implicit bias, can influence social interactions,'' Dupree says. ''But that leaves a lot of people out. My hope is that this work will help include well-intentioned people who see themselves as allies but who may be unwittingly contributing to group divides. There is a broader need to include them in the conversation.''
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Related: Listen to an episode of the podcast The Power Pod about this research.
Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior
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Ban on parents in school lunchrooms roils Darien, Connecticut | Boston.com
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:41
DARIEN, Conn. (AP) '-- One mother shed tears when she read the superintendent's announcement. Another said it felt like a body blow.
After struggling with growing numbers of parents in school cafeterias, the Darien school system said parents and guardians would no longer be welcome to visit with their children during lunch at the town's elementary schools.
The decision has stirred strong emotions in Darien, a wealthy shoreline community that prides itself on its high-performing public schools. While some parents said it was time to stop a disruptive practice, others have protested at town meetings and in online forums that the change has deprived them of cherished time to check in on their children and model good social behavior.
''It feels like a punch in the gut,'' parent Jessica Xu, whose oldest child is in first grade, said in an interview. ''I chose the town for the schools. I'm so frustrated the schools don't want me there.''
Elementary schools generally set their own rules for parent visits, and policies vary widely. Some allow it on children's birthdays or other special occasions. In some areas districts say it's not an issue because parents do not or cannot visit because of work or other obligations.
In a Darien, a town of Colonial-style homes behind stone fences where the median household income exceeds $200,000, so many parents had begun attending lunch that principals felt they were affecting the day-to-day running of the elementary schools, according to Tara Ochman, chairman of the Darien Board of Education. On a typical day, Xu said, six or seven parents were in the cafeteria of her child's school.
''We believe that schools exist for children, and we work to develop the skills necessary for students to grow into engaged members of society,'' Ochman said in a written statement. ''We work every day on this mission so that our students embrace their next steps confidently and respectfully.''
The Darien superintendent and elementary school principals declined to comment, but a veteran of school lunchrooms in the nearby town of Weston, Kelly Ann Franzese, said parent visits can be taxing because children become upset when their parents leave and school staff members feel their every move is being scrutinized. Some Weston parents visited their children every week, she said.
''From a professional perspective, when we're the ones left dealing with your child when you leave, it wasn't good,'' said Franzese, who worked for eight years as a special education therapist in Weston until earlier this year. ''We would call them helicopter moms.''
One Darien mother, Beth Lane, said at an education board meeting last month that she welcomed the change.
''It was good because kids have to be able to learn how to work with each other and socialize with each other, and putting a parent in changes the dynamic dramatically,'' she said.
But others who spoke up at the meeting said the midday visits allowed them to see how their children were faring and to help them resolve friction with other children. For the youngest children, they could offer helping opening milk cartons and finding items in the lunchrooms.
Terry Steadman, a parent, told the board she was shocked and driven to tears by the news.
''To just ban parents from the lunchroom, which is effectively what you're doing with this email, I don't think it's right. I don't think it's in the spirit of a collaborative environment,'' she said.
Other districts have wrestled with lunchroom visitation policies including Beaverton, Oregon, where restrictions were added last year because many Indian and Pakistani families were bringing warm lunches from home daily for their children. The elementary school added a rack where parents can drop off lunches, and the district assesses visit requests on a case-by-case basis, district spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler said.
''It's about managing the numbers in the school,'' she said. ''You just can't have parents hanging out at the school, just watching.''
The practice is unheard of in many urban and poor areas where parents may not have the same engagement with schools.
''In some schools it's not really an issue at all because based on the population, parents aren't able to come and have lunch. It's something maybe parents aren't able to do,'' said Tanya Arja, a spokeswoman for schools in Hillsborough County, Florida.
Despite the change, Ochman said, the Darien school board values collaboration between schools and the community.
''We have volunteers in our schools daily,'' she said, ''and we are lucky to have such a engaged thoughtful community that cares for kids in Darien.''
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Famous movie villains with scarred faces set to be banned by BFI to 'remove stigma around disfigurement'
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:47
MOVIE villains with scarred faces have been banned by the British Film Institute in a bid to ''remove the stigma around disfigurement''.
Films featuring baddies such as Freddy Krueger and Darth Vader will no longer get financial support from the taxpayer-funded body as part of a campaign called #IAmNotYourVillain.
Other20th Century Fox
James Bond's arch-enemy Blofeld would not be allowed after BFI urges the film industry to support the #IAmNotYourVillain campaignIt means blockbusters including Star Wars and A Nightmare on Elm Street would fall foul of the new rules, as would Disney's Lion King '-- which even has a villain called Scar.
James Bond's archenemy Blofeld would not be allowed, nor would the Joker from Batman or Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist.
Even the most recent Star Wars antagonist, Kylo Ren, would not make the grade because of a scar down the right side of his face.
The snowflake campaign has been organised by charity Changing Faces and backed by the BFI, which receives funding of around £20million a year from the Government and £26million from the National Lottery.
Alamy
Would Disney's villain 'Scar' still exist now with the new ban by the British Film Institute?Rex Features
Could film villain Freddy Krueger be cut? Blockbusters including Star Wars could face the chop after this BFI moveBen Roberts, funding director at the BFI, said: ''We are committing to not having negative representations depicted through scars or facial difference in films we fund.
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''It's astonishing to think that films have done this so often and for so long. The time has come for this to stop.
''We fully support Changing Faces' I Am Not Your Villain campaign and urge the rest of the film industry to do the same.''
A spokesman for Changing Faces said: ''Our campaign is calling on those in the film industry to stop using scars, burns or marks as shorthand for villainy.''
Popcorn guide to the top ten movie villains of all time GOT a story? Ring The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or email exclusive@the-sun.co.uk.
Florida Police Chief Gets 3 Years for Plot to Frame Black People for Crimes - The New York Times
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:09
Image Raimundo Atesiano, a former police chief in Biscayne Park, Fla., was sentenced to three years in prison for encouraging wrongful arrests. Credit Credit Village of Biscayne Park A former police chief in Florida was sentenced on Tuesday to three years in prison for ordering officers to arrest black people for crimes they did not commit in order to give the impression that his department was solving crimes, court documents say.
Judge K. Michael Moore of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida gave Raimundo Atesiano, who resigned from the Biscayne Park Police Department in 2014, until Dec. 10 to report to authorities to serve his sentence.
The sentencing came just over a month after three officers who worked for Mr. Atesiano when he was the chief were sentenced to prison for their roles in the wrongful arrests.
Mr. Atesiano told Judge Moore in court that he was ''not prepared'' when he took the job as chief of the department in the Miami-area village of about 3,000 people. ''I made some very, very bad decisions,'' he said, according to The Miami Herald.
His lawyer, Richard Docobo, did not respond to a request for comment.
As the chief of the department, Mr. Atesiano was intent that he appeared to be a successful crime fighter. He instructed two officers to arrest a 16-year-old for four burglaries, even though they had no evidence that the teenager was the culprit, according to a June indictment.
The indictment charged Mr. Atesiano and the officers, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez, with conspiracy against the right to be free from unreasonable seizure by the police, and with depriving the teenager, identified as ''T.D.,'' of that right.
Mr. Atesiano pleaded guilty to the charges, prosecutors said.
In 2013, when Mr. Atesiano was head of the department, the village had 11 full-time police officers and two reserve officers. It had just recorded a decrease in burglaries, down to 19 in 2012 from 36 in 2011, the indictment showed.
In June 2013, with three burglaries in April and one in May unsolved, Chief Atesiano ''caused and encouraged'' Officer Dayoub and Officer Fernandez, who was one of the reserve officers, to falsely arrest T.D. and charge him in the four burglaries, the indictment said.
He also told the officers to falsely arrest a man identified in court documents as ''C.D.'' in 2013 for two burglaries, even though there was no evidence the man had committed the crimes.
In July of that year, the chief presented the city council with a perfect record of solving burglaries, though the statistics were ''fictitious,'' the indictment said.
The following year, Chief Atesiano told another officer, Guillermo Ravelo, to arrest and charge a man, referred to as ''E.B.,'' with five vehicle burglaries, despite no legal reason for doing so, according to court documents.
Officers Dayoub and Fernandez both said they were troubled by the unethical behavior. They eventually cooperated with the authorities.
Officer Fernandez sent a letter to the city manager about the bad arrests and then told investigators that Chief Atesiano ''via his underlings, would use a specific code meant to alert officers that a person of color was seen in the city and that they needed to be stopped and confronted.''
The two officers pleaded guilty this past August, and in October, they were sentenced to 12 months in prison. Officer Ravelo was charged separately and sentenced in October to 27 months in prison for the conspiracy arrests and for striking a handcuffed driver in the head during a traffic stop.
The Miami Herald obtained internal public records that suggested that the Biscayne Park officers, in order to clear cases, had been pressured into singling out random black people.
''If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries,'' one officer quoted in an internal investigation said.
Box Office Poison: 'Shock and Awe' Is Director Rob Reiner's 6th Mega-Flop in a Row
Sun, 25 Nov 2018 20:48
Shock and Awe director Rob Reiner has now directed six mega-flops in a row and has not had anything approaching a hit since 2007.This weekend, Reiner's Shock and Awe crashed and burned at the box office. For some reason, even though it is 2018, Reiner is still wasting millions of dollars to attack former President George W. Bush. This, even after every single movie attacking Bush bombed.
What's more, as if to prove just how insulated he is from real America, Shock and Awe tries to make heroes of journalists, a group currently enjoying approval ratings little better than child molesters.
And so, even with a cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Milla Jovovich, Jessica Biel and Tommy Lee Jones, Shock and Awe could only attract a humiliating $410 per screen average, which means if you threw a hand grenade into any one of the 100 theaters it screened in, chances are pretty good no one would have gotten hurt.
Based on the anti-Bush garbage I have personally had to sit through over the last dozen or so years, I would have been grateful for the opportunity to chase that hand grenade down and jump on it.
This is just the latest awful career news for the far-left Reiner, because Shock and Awe now represents his sixth mega-flop in a row.
To be clear, I am not qualifying a box office ''disappointment'' or an ''under-performer'' as a mega-flop. Reiner has not only not had a hit in 11 years, since 2007's The Bucket List, everything he has directed has been a box office catastrophe.
In 2010, Reiner directed the $14 million Flipped '-- it grossed less than $2 million. That is not a typo '-- less than TWO million dollars. Things got a lot worse two years later.
Despite the presence of Morgan Freeman and a budget of just $5 million, The Magic of Bell Isle, which Reiner both wrote and directed, lost every penny due to a '-- and again this is not a typo '-- gross of just $102,388.
In 2014, with no less than Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton on the poster, And So It Goes bottomed out in wide release (1762 theaters) with just $15 million domestic, which did not even cover its $18 million production budget. Add at least as much for publicity, and you are talking about a $20 million loss.
Reiner's Being Charlie performed so poorly in May of 2016, it never expanded beyond 14 screens and managed to only gross $30,400.
The following year, Reiner's $20 million biopic LBJ ranked as an even bigger catastrophe, with a horrific $2.47 million gross after opening in 659 theaters. This one starred Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Richard Jenkins.
Reiner also appears to have lost his touch creatively. There are plenty of box office disasters that still rank as good, even great movies. This is not the case for Reiner. Critics savaged all six of these flops with embarrassingly low Rotten Tomatoes' scores. Flipped: 54 percent, The Magic of Belle Isle: 30 percent, And So It Goes: 18 percent, Being Charlie: 24 percent, LBJ: 55 percent, and Shock and Awe: 35 percent.
The truth is that the 71-year-old Reiner hit his creative peak two decades ago with The American President in 1995. And even if you set aside Meathead's dismal box office performance, over the last 22-years, Reiner has directed 11 movies, not a single one of them memorable.
The man who gave us This Is Spinal Tap (1984), The Sure Thing (1986), Stand By Me (1986), The Princess Bride (1987), When Harry Met Sally (1989), Misery (1990), A Few Good Men (1992), and The American President (1995), has been embarrassing himself for two decades now, not just creatively, but with his unhinged political ravings.
Does no one love Rob Reiner enough to buy him some self-awareness and a rocking chair?
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.
Australians to select from 33 different gender labels under radical new proposal | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 04:18
Omnigender, neutrois and intersex: Australians to choose from 33 different gender labels for passports and birth certificates under radical new Labor proposalAustralians may soon have option to select from several different gender labels Draft proposal by Labor to debate the changing of gender laws on documentsBill Shorten previously rejected idea of removal of gender from birth certificatesGreg Hunt called on Shorten to detail plan where genders would increase to 33BySahar Mourad For Daily Mail Australia
Published: 18:25 EST, 26 November 2018 | Updated: 22:45 EST, 26 November 2018
Australians may soon have the option to select from several different gender labels on their official documents under a draft proposal by the Labor Opposition.
Omnigender, neutrois and demigender are among 33 labels that will be discussed at the party's upcoming national conference and could soon be seen printed on passports and birth certificates, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The radical proposal, if accepted by the party, would enforce a review of document requirements which affect various genders.
The proposal argues that transgender and intersex people would be able to enjoy 'equal human rights without discrimination' with the additional gender options.
The party will also look at promoting options beyond 'binary male and female'.
Australians may soon have the option to select from several different gender labels on their official documents under a draft proposal by the Labor government (stock)
'Labor will ensure people obtain identification options that match their sex characteristics and/or gender identities, as preferred,' the draft read.
Previously, Bill Shorten rejected the idea of supporting the removal of gender from birth certificates, indicating that Labor 'had no plans to change' birth certificates.
Tasmania is on the verge of abolishing gender from birth certificates so transgender people don't have to 'out themselves'.
Last week, the Tasmanian Labor and Greens successfully passed a law in the lower house which include parents having to 'opt in' to have a baby's sex recorded on birth certificates.
According to Daily Telegraph omnigender, neutrois and demigender were among the 33 genders which would be discussed for the official documents.
An ALP spokeswoman reiterated Mr Shorten's previous comments that he still had no plans to change the gender laws.
Health Minister Greg Hunt called on the Opposition leader to detail their plan which would significantly increase the minimum 12 labels used to a maximum of 33 labels.
'We (the Morrison government) have a clear commitment to our existing gender identity laws,' he told Sky News.
'They want to adopt a standard which has a minimum of 12 different forms of identity which people can adopt or nominate,' Mr Hunt said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt called on the Opposition leader to detail their plan which would significantly increase the minimum 12 labels used to a maximum of 33 labels
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Parents Called Racist After Pointing Out 30-Year-Old Man Is Not High School Age | Daily Wire
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 13:00
When a ''teenager'' from Iran joined students at Stoke High School in Ipswich (a county town of Suffolk, England), students and parents immediately noticed something was off.
The alleged 15-year-old boy, Siavash, was 6'1'', had stubble, a large Adam's apple, and a hairline that some viewed as receding. Students and parents believed the ''teen'' was closer to 30 than 15.
When parents began complaining that an adult man was in school with their underage children, they say their concerns were ''dismissed as racist,'' according to the Daily Mail.
''I went in [to] complain but I was fobbed off. They are deluded and seem more worried about how the bloke might feel,'' a father of two teenage students told the Mail. ''I am not aware of this lad having done anything inappropriate, but it's clearly wrong that he should be in a class with children.''
Another parent said she was told the man sat on a bench during lunch near teenage girls, ''just looking.''
One student said Siavash started FaceTiming a female student, ''sending her messages, asking how close she lived to the school.'' The student took the messages to school officials but was told there was nothing wrong with them, according to the Mail.
It turns out, Siavash actually was an adult, and was removed from the school. He had told the school he fled from Iran and came to the United Kingdom with his little brother, who authorities believe actually is 12 years old. Siavash was seeking a free education while posing as a teenager.
As the Mail points out, Siavash benefited from Britain's generous asylum system, which has been found to be abused by those seeking a free education by posing as minors.
Britain's system, under which around 3,000 unaccompanied youngsters '-- around 80 per cent of whom are male '-- claim asylum each year, came under intense scrutiny in 2016 when a busload of alleged teenagers arrived in Croydon after being transferred to the UK from Calais.
By claiming to be children, the new arrivals were entitled not just to free education, but also to places in local authority children's homes (in areas with high migrant populations such as Kent, up to half the places in such homes are taken by unaccompanied asylum seekers).
Yet critics have long pointed out that those rules also create an incentive for adult migrants to simply destroy ID papers and pose as vulnerable children. Indeed, several of the young men who disembarked from the coaches in Croydon appeared to be square-jawed men in their 20s or 30s.
After this controversy, the asylum rules were tightened, and in the following year, 705 age disputes were raised. Sixty-five percent of the 618 resolved disputes found claimants over the age of 18 (who were mostly male) pretending to be children. Those handling asylum claims are now told to treat seekers who appear to be adults as adults if they lack reliable documentation, though when they are unsure, they are supposed to give the seekers the benefit of the doubt.
'We're Taking A Stand': Google Workers Protest Plans For Censored Search In China : NPR
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 14:17
A security guard stands in front of Google's booth at the China International Import Expo earlier this month in Shanghai. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images A security guard stands in front of Google's booth at the China International Import Expo earlier this month in Shanghai.
Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images Updated at 9:08 a.m. ET
Several Google employees have gone public with their opposition to the tech giant's plans for building a search engine tailored to China's censorship demands.
The project, code-named Dragonfly, would block certain websites and search terms determined by the Chinese government '-- a move that, according to at least nine workers at Google, is tantamount to enabling "state surveillance."
"Google leadership has failed to respond to employees who have raised questions for months. International human rights organizations and investigative reporters have also sounded the alarm, emphasizing serious human rights concerns and repeatedly calling on Google to cancel the project," said the letter's nine initial signatories, who shared their message with NPR.
"So far," they added, "there have been no satisfactory answers from leadership."
News of the program first surfaced in the website The Intercept, which reported in August that the customized search engine would "blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest."
Other news outlets, such as The New York Times, supported the Intercept's reporting, noting Google's desire to tap the huge Chinese market '-- though adding that work on the project does not necessarily mean its release is imminent.
Google once ran a similarly censored version of its search engine in China, but it pulled out of the country in 2010 after friction with Beijing and significant backlash in the U.S.
The employees are not alone in expressing their dismay at reports of the new project's development. In fact, they released their letter the same day that Amnesty International launched a protest of its own. The human rights organization announced it would be reaching out to Google staff to add their names to a petition calling on CEO Sundar Pichai to kill the project before it can even get off the ground.
"This is a watershed moment for Google," Joe Westby, Amnesty's researcher on technology and human rights, said in a statement Tuesday. "As the world's number one search engine, it should be fighting for an internet where information is freely accessible to everyone, not backing the Chinese government's dystopian alternative."
This is also not the first time Google's leadership has gotten pushback from within its own ranks over company policies. The tech giant decided not to renew a contract with the Pentagon after employees revolted over a controversial project involving artificial intelligence for drone footage analysis.
"Many of us accepted employment at Google with the company's values in mind, including its previous position on Chinese censorship and surveillance, and an understanding that Google was a company willing to place its values above its profits," the employees said in their letter Tuesday.
"After a year of disappointments including Project Maven, Dragonfly, and Google's support for abusers, we no longer believe this is the case. This is why we're taking a stand," they wrote.
Fearful of bias, Google blocks gender-based pronouns from new AI tool | Reuters
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 14:24
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O ) Google in May introduced a slick feature for Gmail that automatically completes sentences for users as they type. Tap out ''I love'' and Gmail might propose ''you'' or ''it.''
But users are out of luck if the object of their affection is ''him'' or ''her.''
Google's technology will not suggest gender-based pronouns because the risk is too high that its ''Smart Compose'' technology might predict someone's sex or gender identity incorrectly and offend users, product leaders revealed to Reuters in interviews.
Gmail product manager Paul Lambert said a company research scientist discovered the problem in January when he typed ''I am meeting an investor next week,'' and Smart Compose suggested a possible follow-up question: ''Do you want to meet him?'' instead of ''her.''
Consumers have become accustomed to embarrassing gaffes from autocorrect on smartphones. But Google refused to take chances at a time when gender issues are reshaping politics and society, and critics are scrutinizing potential biases in artificial intelligence like never before.
''Not all 'screw ups' are equal,'' Lambert said. Gender is a ''a big, big thing'' to get wrong.
Getting Smart Compose right could be good for business. Demonstrating that Google understands the nuances of AI better than competitors is part of the company's strategy to build affinity for its brand and attract customers to its AI-powered cloud computing tools, advertising services and hardware.
Gmail has 1.5 billion users, and Lambert said Smart Compose assists on 11 percent of messages worldwide sent from Gmail.com, where the feature first launched.
Smart Compose is an example of what AI developers call natural language generation (NLG), in which computers learn to write sentences by studying patterns and relationships between words in literature, emails and web pages.
A system shown billions of human sentences becomes adept at completing common phrases but is limited by generalities. Men have long dominated fields such as finance and science, for example, so the technology would conclude from the data that an investor or engineer is ''he'' or ''him.'' The issue trips up nearly every major tech company.
Lambert said the Smart Compose team of about 15 engineers and designers tried several workarounds, but none proved bias-free or worthwhile. They decided the best solution was the strictest one: Limit coverage. The gendered pronoun ban affects fewer than 1 percent of cases where Smart Compose would propose something, Lambert said.
''The only reliable technique we have is to be conservative,'' said Prabhakar Raghavan, who oversaw engineering of Gmail and other services until a recent promotion.
NEW POLICY Google's decision to play it safe on gender follows some high-profile embarrassments for the company's predictive technologies.
The company apologized in 2015 when the image recognition feature of its photo service labeled a black couple as gorillas. In 2016, Google altered its search engine's autocomplete function after it suggested the anti-Semitic query ''are jews evil'' when users sought information about Jews.
FILE PHOTO: The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain, November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File PhotoGoogle has banned expletives and racial slurs from its predictive technologies, as well as mentions of its business rivals or tragic events.
The company's new policy banning gendered pronouns also affected the list of possible responses in Google's Smart Reply. That service allow users to respond instantly to text messages and emails with short phrases such as ''sounds good.''
Google uses tests developed by its AI ethics team to uncover new biases. A spam and abuse team pokes at systems, trying to find ''juicy'' gaffes by thinking as hackers or journalists might, Lambert said.
Workers outside the United States look for local cultural issues. Smart Compose will soon work in four other languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French.
''You need a lot of human oversight,'' said engineering leader Raghavan, because ''in each language, the net of inappropriateness has to cover something different.''
WIDESPREAD CHALLENGE Google is not the only tech company wrestling with the gender-based pronoun problem.
Agolo, a New York startup that has received investment from Thomson Reuters, uses AI to summarize business documents.
Its technology cannot reliably determine in some documents which pronoun goes with which name. So the summary pulls several sentences to give users more context, said Mohamed AlTantawy, Agolo's chief technology officer.
He said longer copy is better than missing details. ''The smallest mistakes will make people lose confidence,'' AlTantawy said. ''People want 100 percent correct.''
Yet, imperfections remain. Predictive keyboard tools developed by Google and Apple Inc (AAPL.O ) propose the gendered ''policeman'' to complete ''police'' and ''salesman'' for ''sales.''
Type the neutral Turkish phrase ''one is a soldier'' into Google Translate and it spits out ''he's a soldier'' in English. So do translation tools from Alibaba (BABA.N ) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O ). Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O ) opts for ''she'' for the same phrase on its translation service for cloud computing customers.
AI experts have called on the companies to display a disclaimer and multiple possible translations.
Microsoft's LinkedIn said it avoids gendered pronouns in its year-old predictive messaging tool, Smart Replies, to ward off potential blunders.
Alibaba and Amazon did not respond to requests to comment.
Warnings and limitations like those in Smart Compose remain the most-used countermeasures in complex systems, said John Hegele, integration engineer at Durham, North Carolina-based Automated Insights Inc, which generates news articles from statistics.
''The end goal is a fully machine-generated system where it magically knows what to write,'' Hegele said. ''There's been a ton of advances made but we're not there yet.''
Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Marla Dickerson
Spanish beauty queen set to become the first transgender Miss Universe contestant | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:21
Spanish beauty queen set to become the first transgender Miss Universe contestant has spoken of her desire to become a mother.
Angela Ponce, 27, from Seville, told how she sees motherhood as far more than 'just having ovaries' as she puts the final touches on preparations for the pageant next month.
'The orphanages are full of children wanting to be adopted and I can be a mother like anyone else,' she said in an interview on Spanish TV this week.
Beauty queen: Angela Ponce, 27, from Seville, is set to become the first transgender Miss Universe contestant. Pictured, shortly after winning the title of Miss Universe Spain in June
Dreams: Miss Ponce, pictured in a photo shared on Instagram, said she sees motherhood as far more than 'just having ovaries' and that there are children waiting to be adopted
Pioneer: Miss Ponce, born Angelo (inset), became the first transgender woman to be crowned Miss Universe Spain when she won the title in June. Pictured, a post about her success
The brunette beauty will soon jet out to Thailand for the Miss Universe competition, which kicks off on 17 December.
She became the first transgender woman to be crowned Miss Universe Spain when she won the title in June.
In a separate interview with TIME this week, Miss Ponce spoke of the importance of representing transgender women in the competition.
'I'm showing that trans women can be whatever they want to be: a teacher, a mother, a doctor, a politician and even Miss Universe,' she said.
Nail-biting: Miss Ponce, right, in the moments before she was named Miss Universe Spain 2018
Glamorous: The beauty queen reclines on a sofa in one of her many stunning photographs
Dazzling: The beauty queen, left on stage and right at an event, will jet off to Thailand for Miss Universe
Crowning glory: Miss Ponce after being named Miss Universe Spain at the national contest in June
She continued: 'Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long. If they give me the crown, it would show trans women are just as much women as cis women.'
Miss Ponce, who first identified as female aged three, previously represented Cadiz in the 2015 Miss World Spain contest, but lost to Miss Barcelona Mireia Lalaguna who went on to win the top prize.
Despite Angela's participation, at the time the Miss World Organization did not accept transgender contestants.
In response, Angela said: 'At least I have the regional (Cadiz) crown on my head.'
Stylish: The Miss Universe contestant poses in a photo shared on her Instagram account
Backstage beauty: The pageant queen shows off her hair and make-up before taking the stage
Keeping fit: Miss Ponce flashes her toned stomach in a selfie shared on her Instagram account
In 2012, rival contest Miss Universe announced that it would allow transgender beauty queens after Canadian model Jenna Talackova successfully sued Miss Universe Canada organisers for initially disqualifying her for being transgender.
When she was 16, she started hormone therapy and at age 24 she underwent a vaginoplasty operation.
Miss Ponce wrote on Instagram shortly after winning Miss Universe Spain in June: 'Bringing the name and colours of Spain before the universe is my great dream.
'My goal is to be a spokesperson for a message of inclusion, respect and diversity not only for the LGBTQ+ community but also for the entire world.'
The activist frequently shares updates with her 376,000 Instagram followers.
Downtime: The activist frequently shares updates with her 376,000 Instagram followers
Victimology Game
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:48
Due to extreme high demand for the holiday season, orders may take up to 21 days for delivery. We apologize for any inconvenience
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Putin!
Poetin loert op almacht rond Zwarte Zee - de Volkskrant - Blendle
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 13:10
BERT LANTING
Met een bewust staaltje machtsvertoon heeft Rusland zondagavond de confrontatie gezocht met Oekra¯ne - nu op het water. Moskou wil de strategisch belangrijke Zee van Azov in handen krijgen. Maar hoe dat te doen zonder de toorn van het Westen over zich af te roepen?
The Purge
Commerce Committee Investigating Twitter CEO For Lying Under Oath | Zero Hedge
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 19:03
Jack Dorsey stood up under oath before the House Energy and Commerce Committee back in September and said with a straight face that neither Twitter's algorithm nor the company's policies target individual users due to their political orientation.
It doesn't take a deeply researched understanding of Twitter's persistent shadowbanning - and outright banning - of conservative voices like Laura Loomer to see that this is patently untrue. And while Dorsey was willing to concede during the Sept. 5 hearing that Twitter wrongly shadowbanned some 600,000 accounts, many of which belonged to conservatives using the platform, his insistence that Twitter was free of bias (something he was willing to acknowledge back in July during an interview on CNN) clearly unnerved several Congressmen, who suspected that Dorsey wasn't being entirely truthful.
And after Dorsey and Twitter ignored follow-up questions from the committee - making their disdain for the Republicans who grilled Dorsey clear - the committee is finally doing something about it.
According to a committee aide who leaked news of the investigation to the Federalist, the Energy and Commerce Committee is now investigating Dorsey over allegations that he lied to Congress during the September hearing about the social media company's seemingly arbitrary banning of conservatives.
During testimony before the committee, which has broad authority to oversee and regulate telecommunications companies and social media publishers like Twitter, Dorsey repeatedly claimed that neither Twitter's policies nor its algorithms took users' political views into account when censoring content published by the site.
"I want to start by making something very clear," Dorsey testified on September 5, 2018. "We don't consider political viewpoints, perspectives, or party affiliation in any of our policies or enforcement decisions, period."
"Our policies and our algorithms don't take into consideration any affiliation, philosophy, or viewpoint," Dorsey claimed again later in the hearing.
But a simple review of Twitter's conduct policy shows that certain political viewpoints are embedded in its rules of conduct. One example is the company's treatment of "misgendering" or "deadnaming" transgender individuals.
A review of Twitter's so-called hateful conduct policy, however, shows that the company has explicitly codified political views into its policies. For example, the social media publisher states that it will ban users if they accurately refer to the biological sex of "transgendered" individuals who believe without evidence that biological men can become biological women, and vice versa.
"We prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category," Twitter's policy states. "This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals."
"Deadnaming" is the use of an individual's name on his or her original birth certificate that generally corresponds with the individual's immutable biological sex, and "misgendering" is the accurate reference to an individual's biological sex. Contrary to Dorsey's claim before Congress that Twitter's content and user censorship policies don't take political viewpoints into account, a policy that discriminates against those who convey indisputably accurate scientific and historical information is by its very nature exclusively political.
Since the hearing, Twitter has refused to respond to dozens of questions for the record posed by the committee, ignoring an Oct. 15 deadline, according to the aide.
"Twitter has not yet provided responses to members' questions for the record, despite an October 15th deadline," the aide said. "It is important that Congress receive this requested information to ensure we are able to properly perform our oversight responsibilities."
Twitter refused to answer any of the Federalists' questions. But assuming the investigation moves forward, perhaps it will inspire their Democratic colleagues to apply similar scrutiny to Mark Zuckerberg.
San Francisco General Hospital may remove Zuckerberg's name
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:14
Marlene Awaad | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., listens during the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France, on Thursday, May 24, 2018.
Facebook's scandals may not cost CEO Mark Zuckerberg his board seat, but it could strip his name from a San Francisco public hospital, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.
On Tuesday, San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin reportedly proposed the city remove Zuckerberg's name from San Francisco General Hospital, which was renamed after the Facebook CEO and his wife Priscilla Chan donated $75 million to the hospital's foundation in 2015. Chan previously worked at the hospital as a pediatrician.
Peskin cited Facebook's series of scandals it has faced over the past year as he asked the city attorney to begin working on a procedure for removing Zuckerberg's name, the Chronicle reported. At the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Peskin reportedly referenced the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the recent New York Times report claiming Facebook hired an opposition research firm to paint liberal financier George Soros as the force behind an anti-Facebook movement.
"It is not normal for private entities to use that information to spread, and in this case anti-Semitic, conspiracy theories on platforms they control," Peskin said, according to The Chronicle. "It is not normal for Mark Zuckerberg and [Facebook Chief Operating Officer] Sheryl Sandberg to refuse to accept responsibility and to publicly distance themselves from acts that they have personally instigated. ... This is about the integrity of institutions and spaces that are overwhelmingly funded by public money and taxpayer dollars."
At the time of Zuckerberg and Chan's donation, hospital officials believed it was the largest single private donation by individuals to a public hospital in the country, SFGate reported. In May, nurses at the hospital already began to protest the name, with one even taping over "Zuckerberg" on the hospital's signage, the New York Times reported.
Facebook, the hospital and the city attorney's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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DOJ unseals charges in alleged massive online ad fraud | TheHill
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 05:56
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday unsealed charges against eight individuals in an alleged widespread digital advertising fraud that reportedly used botnets to give the appearance of billions of humans looking at online ads.
Aleksandr Zhukov, Boris Timokhin, Mikhail Andreev, Denis Avdeev, Dmitry Novikov, Sergey Ovsyannikov, Aleksandr Isaev and Yevgeniy Timchenko were charged with crimes including wire fraud, money laundering, computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft, according to a department release.
The department also announced that a federal court unsealed seizure warrants allowing the FBI to take over 31 domains as well as seize data from 89 servers involved in the botnets, or networks of infected internet-connected devices that can be utilized by hackers.
''As alleged in court filings, the defendants in this case used sophisticated computer programming and infrastructure around the world to exploit the digital advertising industry through fraud,'' U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue said in a statement. ''This case sends a powerful message that this Office, together with our law enforcement partners, will use all our available resources to target and dismantle these costly schemes and bring their perpetrators to justice, wherever they are.''
Ovsyannikov, Zhukov and Timchenko have all been arrested in various countries and are awaiting extradition, while the remaining defendants are at large, according to the DOJ release.
The indictment claims that five of the defendants ran what they claimed was an ad network and committed the fraud with the assistance of another defendant in the case.
The allegedly fake ad network rented more than 1,900 computer servers and used them to create ads on fake websites, giving the appearance that humans were viewing ads on those spoofed domains and causing businesses to pay more than $7 million for the commercials.
In another scheme, three of the defendants allegedly began another fake advertising network that utilized a botnet to reach more than 1.7 million infected computers, download fake domains and then run ads on the spoofed webpages.
The scheme led to businesses paying the false ad network more than $29 million for the ad views, which were never actually seen by humans, according to the indictment.
U.S. law enforcement and private companies collaborated to take down the botnets after the arrest of one of the defendants, according to the DOJ release.
Cybersecurity firm Symantec was one of the groups involved in dismantling the botnets. It said in a blog post Tuesday that a majority of the fake traffic to the false sites was executed through botnets run by two kinds of malware known as Miuref and Kovter.
Two International Cybercriminal Rings Dismantled and Eight Defendants Indicted for Causing Tens of Millions of Dollars in Losses in Digital Advertising Fraud | USAO-EDNY | Department of Justice
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 05:59
A 13-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Aleksandr Zhukov, Boris Timokhin, Mikhail Andreev, Denis Avdeev, Dmitry Novikov, Sergey Ovsyannikov, Aleksandr Isaev and Yevgeniy Timchenko with criminal violations for their involvement in perpetrating widespread digital advertising fraud. The charges include wire fraud, computer intrusion, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. Ovsyannikov was arrested last month in Malaysia; Zhukov was arrested earlier this month in Bulgaria; and Timchenko was arrested earlier this month in Estonia, all pursuant to provisional arrest warrants issued at the request of the United States. They await extradition. The remaining defendants are at large.
Also unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn were seizure warrants authorizing the FBI to take control of 31 internet domains, and search warrants authorizing the FBI to take information from 89 computer servers, that were all part of the infrastructure for botnets engaged in digital advertising fraud activity. The FBI, working with private sector partners, redirected the internet traffic going to the domains (an action known as ''sinkholing'') in order to disrupt and dismantle these botnets.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and James P. O'Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD) announced the charges and domain seizures.
''As alleged in court filings, the defendants in this case used sophisticated computer programming and infrastructure around the world to exploit the digital advertising industry through fraud,'' stated United States Attorney Donoghue. ''This case sends a powerful message that this Office, together with our law enforcement partners, will use all our available resources to target and dismantle these costly schemes and bring their perpetrators to justice, wherever they are.'' Mr. Donoghue thanked the FBI Cyber Division for its extraordinary efforts in carrying out the multi-year investigation.
''As alleged, these individuals built complex, fraudulent digital advertising infrastructure for the express purpose of misleading and defrauding companies who believed they were acting in good faith, and costing them millions of dollars. This kind of exploitation undermines confidence in the system, on the part of both companies and their customers,'' stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. ''Thanks to the hard work of our legal attach(C)s and law enforcement partners overseas, with the cooperation of our international and U.S.-based private sector partners, the defendants will face justice for their alleged crimes.''
''This investigation highlights public- and private-sector collaboration across the globe, and again confirms the absolute necessity for interagency information-sharing. Criminals '' especially those operating via the internet '' do not concern themselves with jurisdictional boundaries, so it is critical that the law-enforcement community works together to achieve our shared goal of protecting the people we serve,'' stated NYPD Commissioner O'Neill. ''I thank and commend the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, and all the investigators with the FBI Cyber Division and the NYPD. Together, we are ensuring that the vital systems and technologies of our economy are kept safe.''
The Criminal Scheme
The internet is, in large part, freely available to users worldwide because it runs on digital advertising: website owners display advertisements on their sites and are compensated for doing so by intermediaries representing businesses seeking to advertise their goods and services to real human customers. In general, digital advertising revenue is based on how many users click or view the ads on those websites. As alleged in court filings, the defendants in this case represented to others that they ran legitimate companies that delivered advertisements to real human internet users accessing real internet webpages. In fact, the defendants faked both the users and the webpages: they programmed computers they controlled to load advertisements on fabricated webpages, via an automated program, in order to fraudulently obtain digital advertising revenue.
The Datacenter-Based Scheme (Methbot)
As alleged in the indictment, between September 2014 and December 2016, Zhukov, Timokhin, Andreev, Avdeev and Novikov operated a purported advertising network (''Ad Network #1'') and, with Ovsyannikov's assistance, carried out a digital ad fraud scheme. Ad Network #1 had business arrangements with other advertising networks whereby it received payments in return for placing advertising placeholders (''ad tags'') on websites. Rather than place these ad tags on real publishers' websites, however, Ad Network #1 rented more than 1,900 computer servers housed in commercial datacenters in Dallas, Texas and elsewhere, and used those datacenter servers to load ads on fabricated websites, ''spoofing'' more than 5,000 domains. To create the illusion that real human internet users were viewing the advertisements loaded onto these fabricated websites, the defendants programmed the datacenter servers to simulate the internet activity of human internet users: browsing the internet through a fake browser, using a fake mouse to move around and scroll down a webpage, starting and stopping a video player midway, and falsely appearing to be signed into Facebook. Furthermore, the defendants leased more than 650,000 Internet Protocol (''IP'') addresses, assigned multiple IP addresses to each datacenter server, and then fraudulently registered those IP addresses to make it appear that that the datacenter servers were residential computers belonging to individual human internet users who were subscribed to various residential internet service providers. As a result of this scheme, Ad Network #1 falsified billions of ad views and caused businesses to pay more than $7 million for ads that were never actually viewed by real human internet users.
The Botnet-Based Scheme (3ve.2 Template A)
As also alleged in the indictment, between December 2015 and October 2018, Ovsyannikov, Timchenko and Isaev operated a purported advertising network (''Ad Network #2'') and carried out another digital ad fraud scheme. In this scheme, the defendants used a global ''botnet''¾a network of malware-infected computers operated without the true owner's knowledge or consent¾to perpetrate their fraud. The defendants developed an intricate infrastructure of command-and-control servers to direct and monitor the infected computers and check whether a particular infected computer had been flagged by cybersecurity companies as associated with fraud. By using this infrastructure, the defendants accessed more than 1.7 million infected computers, belonging to ordinary individuals and businesses in the United States and elsewhere, and used hidden browsers on those infected computers to download fabricated webpages and load ads onto those fabricated webpages. Meanwhile, the owners of the infected computers were unaware that this process was running in the background on their computers. As a result of this scheme, Ad Network #2 falsified billions of ad views and caused businesses to pay more than $29 million for ads that were never actually viewed by real human internet users.
The Botnet Takedown
Following the arrest of Ovsyannikov by Malaysian authorities, U.S. law enforcement authorities, in conjunction with various private sector companies, began the process of dismantling the criminal cyber infrastructure utilized in the botnet-based scheme, which involved computers infected with malicious software known in the cybersecurity community as ''Kovter.'' The FBI executed seizure warrants to sinkhole 23 internet domains used to further the charged botnet-based scheme or otherwise used to further the Kovter botnet. The FBI also executed search warrants at 11 different U.S. server providers for 89 servers related to the charged botnet-based scheme or Kovter.
In addition, as part of its investigation, the FBI discovered an additional cybercrime infrastructure committing digital advertising fraud through the use of datacenter servers located in Germany and a botnet of computers in the United States infected with malicious software known in the cybersecurity community as ''Boaxxe.'' The FBI executed seizure warrants to sinkhole eight domains used to further this scheme and thereby disrupt yet another botnet engaged in digital advertising fraud.
Finally, the United States, with the assistance of its foreign partners, executed seizure warrants for multiple international bank accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere that were associated with the schemes.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government's case is being prosecuted by the Office's National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Saritha Komatireddy, Alexander F. Mindlin, Michael T. Keilty and Karin K. Orenstein are in charge of the prosecution.
The Justice Department's Office of International Affairs, the FBI's Legal Attach(C)s abroad and foreign authorities in multiple countries provided critical assistance in this case. The Office extends its appreciation to the Attorney General's Chambers of Malaysia, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Malaysian National Central Bureau of Interpol, the Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office of Bulgaria, the Regional Prosecution Office of Varna, the Cybercrime Department of the Bulgarian General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior Regional Directorate of Varna, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Estonia, the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board and the FBI's Legal Attach(C) Offices in Malaysia, Bulgaria and Estonia for their assistance in apprehending defendants in this case. The Office also extends its appreciation to the German Bundeskriminalamt Cybercrime Intelligence Operations Department and Polizei Sachsen Polizeidirektion Zwickau Criminal Investigation Department, the Dutch National Police, the United Kingdom National Crime Agency, the French Police Cybercrime Central Bureau, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice, FBI's Legal Attach(C) Offices in those countries, and Europol for their assistance in various aspects of the investigation and botnet takedown.
Multiple private sector organizations also provided critical assistance in this case. The Office extends its appreciation to White Ops, Inc. and Google LLC for their assistance in the investigation and botnet takedown. The Office also extends its appreciation to Microsoft Corporation, ESET, Trend Micro Inc., Symantec Corporation, CenturyLink, Inc, F-Secure Corporation, Malwarebytes, MediaMath, the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance and The Shadowserver Foundation for their assistance in the botnet takedown.
For technical details on the malware and botnets referenced in this case, please see US-CERT Alert TA18-331A: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA18-331A
The Defendants:
ALEKSANDR ZHUKOVAge: 38Russian Federation
BORIS TIMOKHINAge: 39Russian Federation
MIKHAIL ANDREEVAge: 34Russian Federation and Ukraine
DENIS AVDEEVAge: 40Russian Federation
DMITRY NOVIKOVAge: UnknownRussian Federation
SERGEY OVSYANNIKOVAge: 30Republic of Kazakhstan
ALEKSANDR ISAEVAge: 31Russian Federation
YEVGENIY TIMCHENKOAge: 30Republic of Kazakhstan
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-633 (ERK)
Early Facebook investor stands by Zuckerberg but calls for change
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:52
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook, holds his phone after the morning session at the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, July 13, 2018.
Mark Zuckerberg should remain in power at Facebook, but a "radical change" is needed on how decisions are made at the social media company, an early investor and former board member said Wednesday.
"I would back and invest again and again in Mark Zuckerberg," Jim Breyer, founder and CEO of global venture capital firm Breyer Capital, said in an interview with CNBC's Deirdre Bosa. "I believe he should be the chairman and CEO but the company, to its own admission, has deeply mishandled the past 12 months."
Facebook has seen its shares fall 26.24 percent during the past year amid scrutiny over its Cambridge Analytica scandal and disclosures of data breaches and Russian trolls, causing some to question whether Zuckerberg should step down from his role.
A Wall Street Journal report published Nov. 19 said Zuckerberg had blamed Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and her teams for many of Facebook's problem. But a day later, Zuckerberg told CNN he would not step down and praised Sandberg.
Breyer, who served on Facebook's board from 2005 to 2013 after leading the company's Series A funding round, said Zuckerberg is "ultimately responsible" for Facebook's controversies. But he added that Zuckerberg and Sandberg are the "best team" in Silicon Valley and should continue to lead Facebook.
"Leaders often mishandle certain situations," said Breyer, whose worth an estimated $2.7 billion, according to Forbes.
Breyer, speaking from the East West Tech conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China, said he first met Zuckerberg about 14 years ago, when the Facebook founder was 20 years old. Breyer currently serves on the board of directors of Blackstone and 21st Century Fox.
Facebook's Latest Headache Is a Bikini App That Shut Down in 2015 - WSJ
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 16:27
When a small app developer sued Facebook Inc. in 2015 over how it restricts access to user data, the action got little attention, in part because the social-media giant successfully sought to have most of the court records sealed.
Now that lawsuit is adding to Facebook's mounting headaches, with a British lawmaker saying on Sunday that he has obtained documents from the case and is considering releasing them to the public.
Damian Collins, chairman of the House of Commons Digital, Media, Culture and Sport Committee, said he had secured the documents from Six4Three LLC, which sued Facebook in 2015 alleging that its data policies were anticompetitive and favored certain companies over others.
Mr. Collins, a Conservative member of Parliament, has been in the forefront of British lawmakers voicing concerns about the political abuses of social media.
Mr. Collins is due to head an international panel he has convened on Tuesday in London that will question Facebook's vice president of policy solutions, Richard Allan, on ''fake news'' and disinformation.
In a tweet from his verified account, Mr. Collins wrote that his committee ''received the documents it ordered from Six4Three relating to Facebook. I have reviewed them and the committee will discuss how we will proceed early next week. Under U.K. law & parliamentary privilege we can publish papers if we choose to as part of our inquiry.'' A spokeswoman for Mr. Collins had no further comment.
A spokesman for Six4Three also didn't respond to requests for comment, and it isn't clear how Mr. Collins learned of the lawsuit or why he believes it will be relevant to his inquiry. In another letter to Facebook on Sunday, Mr. Collins said he is interested in what the documents show about ''how Facebook restricts developer access to data under these new rules, whether the restrictions are uniformly enforced, and what consent users have about this.'' Facebook on Sunday asked the lawmaker not to release the documents until all parties receive guidance from the California judge who ordered them sealed. Mr. Allan said that could happen as soon as Monday.
The kerfuffle over the documents comes as Facebook is facing fresh scrutiny over how it has responded to the rise of misinformation on the platform and at times pushed back against its critics. But until this weekend, there were few indications that the 2015 lawsuit filed in San Mateo County Court would play a role in the company's travails.
The Six4Three lawsuit stemmed from Facebook's decision in 2014 to stop giving outside developers broad access to information about users' friends. The move was a harsh blow to developers, forcing a number of apps to shut down, while Facebook argued it helped bolster user privacy.
Six4Three was the developer of an app called Pikinis, which allowed its users to find photos of Facebook users in bathing suits. It ceased operation in 2015 because of Facebook's decision to curtail access to its users' data, according to the lawsuit.
As part of the litigation, Six4Three obtained a large number of internal documents showing Facebook's deliberations regarding data privacy and the future of its developer platform.
One of the Six4Three court documents alleges that Facebook employees discussed so-called whitelist agreements with various companies after announcing it would close the platform. Facebook gave some apps preferential treatment and extended access to the developer platform, The Wall Street Journal reported in June.
The company said it negotiated a ''small number'' of such deals.
Facebook, which has said the lawsuit is without merit, asked to have the documents sealed. The company argued that they have little to do with the matter being litigated and that the defunct app developer was merely trying to use the documents to get leverage in the case because of the heightened attention around data privacy.
In a letter to Mr. Collins over the weekend, Facebook's Mr. Allan said Six4Three's filings about the documents show the litigation ''is more about attacking our company than it is about a credible legal claim.''
Mr. Allan will represent Facebook at Tuesday's hearing after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declined to appear.
Mr. Collins was critical of Mr. Zuckerberg's refusal to appear, saying the Facebook boss ''has important questions to answer about what he knew about breaches of data protection law involving their customers' personal data and why the company didn't do more to identify and act against known sources of disinformation; and in particular those coming from agencies in Russia.''
'--Stephen Fidler contributed to this article.
Write to Deepa Seetharaman at Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com
Khashoggi
White House prevents Gina Haspel from briefing Senate on Khashoggi murder | World news | The Guardian
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 18:44
The White House is preventing the CIA director, Gina Haspel, or any other intelligence official from briefing the Senate on the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.
The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and the defence secretary, James Mattis, are due to give a briefing on US relations with Saudi Arabia to the entire Senate behind closed doors on Wednesday, ahead of a vote that could cut off US support for Riyadh's military campaign in Yemen.
On a national security issue of such importance, it would be customary for a senior intelligence official to take part. On this occasion, the absence of the intelligence community is all the more glaring, as Haspel travelled to Istanbul to hear audio tapes of Khashoggi's murder provided by Turkish intelligence, and then briefed Donald Trump.
Officials made it clear that the decision for Haspel not to appear in front of the committee came from the White House.
Sign up for the new US morning briefingAccording to multiple reports, the tapes and other intelligence material point clearly to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as having ordered Khashoggi's killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.
The US president has asserted, however, that the CIA report is inconclusive '' a claim greeted with scepticism by many senators who expected to hear first-hand from Haspel on Wednesday on a brutal killing that appears to have help sway several senators against continuing military support to Riyadh for the war in Yemen.
That conflict is thought to have killed more than 50,000 people, with many of the casualties coming from the Saudi-led coalition's aerial bombing campaign. The coalition's use of economic blockades has meanwhile help bring the country to the brink of famine. Save the Children estimates that up to 85,000 children have died of hunger.
Against that backdrop the administration is increasingly nervous that the Senate will rebel against its policy of maintaining support for Riyadh and Prince Mohammed, asserting its powers under the War Powers Resolution.
As of Tuesday, however, the Senate was told by the administration to expect only Pompeo and Mattis at the Wednesday briefing. The White House did not respond to a query on the absence of an intelligence official.
''There is always an intel person there for a briefing like this,'' a Senate staffer told the Guardian. ''It is totally unprecedented and should be interpreted as nothing less than the Trump administration trying to silence the intelligence community.''
Bruce Riedel, a veteran CIA official and an expert on the US-Saudi relationship at the Brookings Institution, said: ''Gina [Haspel] has been the case officer on this. She traveled to Turkey and she is the one who listened to the tapes and is reported to have briefed the president multiple times.
''This is further evidence that the White House is trying to outdo the Saudis in carrying out the worst cover-up in modern history,'' Riedel added.
A previous attempt to cut off military assistance to Riyadh under the War Powers Resolution, sponsored by the independent senator Bernie Sanders, Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Mike Lee, was blocked in March this year by a 55-44 margin.
But several senators who voted to shelve the resolution then have since changed their mind, including Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, and Bob Corker, the committee chair.
Both senators have called for the administration to make a formal judgment on Prince Mohammed's involvement in the Khashoggi murder and renewed calls for Haspel to appear on Wednesday.
''The briefings are lacking because there's no one from the intelligence community there. That says to me that you are specifically trying not to have the key question asked,'' Menendez said on Monday according to DefenseNews.
''I've laid in the railroad tracks in the past to keep us from blocking arms to Saudi Arabia,'' Corker told reporters. ''I'm in a real different place right now as it relates to Saudi Arabia.''
The timing of the vote on the Saudi resolution is unclear. Sanders has said there is support for holding it this week. The Republican majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, can try to postpone it, but cannot put it off indefinitely, as any measure under the War Powers Resolution has privileged status and cannot be stopped from going to the Senate floor for a vote.
OTG
People Who Buy Smart Speakers Have Given Up on Privacy, Researchers Find - Motherboard
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 13:36
If you find always-listening smart devices creepy, but bought an Amazon Echo anyway, you're not alone. A recent study from researchers at the University of Michigan found that people who own smart speakers are aware of the risks, but feel resigned to the idea that the erosion of privacy is now a fact of life.
''What was really concerning to me was this idea that 'it's just a little bit more info you give Google or Amazon, and they already know a lot about you, so how is that bad?''' said Florian Schaub, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan School of Information and a co-author of the study. ''It's representative of this constant erosion of what privacy means and what our privacy expectations are.''
Smart home devices'--like internet-connected speakers, TVs, and microwaves'--have been involved in multiple privacy scandals. This year, a couple's private conversation was recorded by their smart speaker and then sent to a random contact. In 2015, people discovered that a buried line in the privacy policy for Samsung's smart TVs meant that everything you say could be captured and sent to a third party. Like all internet-connected tech, such devices are also susceptible to data breaches or hacks.
Yet despite knowledge of these risks, many people say they're resigned to the idea that we're going to be spied on and there's nothing we can do about it.
This kind of privacy nihilism isn't new, and we've long understood that while people say they value privacy, they often act in ways that undermine their privacy protections (like not changing their password, for example). But Schaub and his colleagues wanted to investigate how this played out with internet-connected, voice-enabled speakers, like the Amazon Echo, in particular. Schaub told me they were curious if people's behavior with the device might reveal a more conscious effort to preserve privacy.
The researchers interviewed 17 smart speaker users and 17 people who deliberately had not bought a smart speaker yet, and had the smart speaker users keep a weekly log of how they used the device. Schaub and his team found that speaker owners weren't bothering to take steps to protect their privacy. Many devices have a mute button that allows the user to turn off the microphone, for example, but the researchers found most users had never used it.
It was also rare for users to go through their activity logs, where they can review and delete recordings. Instead of using this feature to protect personal privacy, the researchers found users were actually using it to spy on housesitters and babysitters.
Smart speaker makers like Amazon say the devices only record after they hear a special ''wake word'' (like ''Alexa'' or ''Hey, Google''), something many users said gives them peace of mind. But Schaub said this requires us to deeply trust the companies we buy the devices from.
''We really have to trust Google and Amazon that they respect people's privacy and adhere to what they're describing,'' Schaub said. ''It's still a fact that you are putting a live microphone into your home and your intimate spaces, and it's software that decides whether it's recording with a trigger word or all the time.''
Device functions with huge privacy implications could change over time, Schaub said, and users might not always be up to date on the latest changes.
Schaub said he found the results of the study concerning, particularly the fact that many users seemed apathetic to the idea of companies getting more information about their private lives'--if we're fine with the constant erosion of our privacy, it might no longer exist one day.
If users were more demanding of privacy protections, Schaub said, a few simple changes to the technology could be made to improve user's privacy without having to give up convenience. The mute button, for example, could be voice-activated'--since that's how everyone uses their speaker'--rather than requiring a manual button press.
''For some reason, it's not possible to verbally tell Alexa to stop listening for ten minutes, or say ''forget everything you heard in the last hour,''' Schaub said. ''I don't think it would be very hard for companies to implement these kind of features.''
The smart toilet that can tell if you're sick by tracking the content of your urine | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 16:11
Smart toilets of the future could spot early signs of diseases like cancer and diabetes by tracking your urine.
Experts at the European Space Agency (ESA) and MIT have teamed up with sanitation specialists to create the 'FitLoo'.
The high tech lavatory will screen urine for the presence of extra proteins and glucose, gathering data through sensors located inside the bowl.
These will detect fluctuations in levels of these substances, as well as the presence of other markers that might be an early warning of cancer or diabetes.
Data could be beamed to your smartphone or even directly to GPs so they can keep a remote eye on their patients.
FitLoo is based on technology used by astronauts to monitor their health aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Scroll down for video
Researchers from the European Space Agency and MIT teamed up with sanitation specialists to create the 'Fitloo', not pictured, to track the content of your urine so that the data can be used to monitor your health and check for early signs of diseases (Stock image)
The ISS has been testing a device called the Urine Monitoring System, which collects an individual crew member's urine.
Michael Lindenmayer, digital health and smart sanitation lead at the Toilet Board Coalition said that FitLoo gives people a great opportunity to gain control of their health.
'At the moment people only go to the doctor when they are sick. We do not listen to our bodies enough, but the toilet is listening every time we use it,' he said.
'There is a huge amount of health information that is simply flushed into the sewers every time we go.'
The smart toilet technology is based on automated sample testing technology already used by astronauts to monitor health in space. The sensors detect changes in glucose levels or the presence of markers that might be an early warning of cancer or diabetes (Stock image)
Smart toilets are ubiquitous in places like Japan and are focused on hygiene and greater comfort, with features such as warm-water washing, air drying, and heated seats.
Toilet manufacturing firms Toto and Matsushita have released WiFi-connected toilets that measure body mass index, biochemical makeup sugar, protein, flow rate, and temperature of urine.
Scientists at Stanford University have also developed a colour-changing paper test that, with the help of a smartphone camera, can detect diseases or spot signs of a urinary tract infection.
'At the moment these are a mishmash of technologies rather than a single device, but the aim is to combine them together into a smart toilet,' added Mr Lindenmayer.
'The idea is that people will connect their phone to the toilet and get information about their health. If it sees something amiss, then they would go to the doctor for more detailed tests.'
The International Space Station has been testing a device called the Urine Monitoring System (pictured), which collects an individual crew member's urine (file photo)
WHY DO DIABETICS INJECT INSULIN?Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas, an organ in your body that helps with digestion.
Insulin helps your body use glucose '' which comes from sugar in the food and drink you consume '' for muscle energy.
Glucose is initially absorbed by the gut from food and passed into the blood, where the body decides what to do with it.
Insulin makes this decision by regulating how much sugar moves from the blood into the blood cells, muscles or fat cells, where it can be used up or stored.
But diabetes can mean the pancreas does not make any insulin, it doesn't make enough, or the insulin it does make doesn't work properly.
This can lead to the levels of sugar in the blood becoming dangerously high or low '' which can cause fatigue, feeling hungry or thirsty, or in extreme cases life-threatening coma.
To avoid this and stop blood sugar getting too high, diabetics can inject insulin into their body as a medication to bring their blood sugar down.
Source: Diabetes.org
The ESA and MIT are currently looking for toilet manufacturing companies who will adapt their technology for use in smart toilets.
Researchers also say that by putting sensors into public toilets, it would allow health officials to track and predict the spread of diseases in communities, giving a vital early warning of outbreaks.
Davide Coppola, project manager of the Space for Sanitation project at ESA, said: 'We have identified different opportunities for utilising space technologies and data for sanitation.
'One of those is to establish preventive health information systems by combining health data from toilet smart sensors with satellite Earth observation data.
'If you have 1,000 smart toilets collectively monitoring certain diseases in an area, you can use space data to fill in the gaps and calculate the likelihood of spread of diseases.
'There are a number of environmental factors that influence how a disease spreads and can be monitored from space - temperature, for example, or if there is standing water nearby.'
A recent survey has shown that only 62.7 per cent of Brits know what a healthy stool looks like, meaning many of us are unsure about our overall bowel health.
Dockless Mobility
Homeless guy
Don't let cities ruin the scooter revolution
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 18:55
| November 27, 2018 12:00 AM
The ''regulate first, innovate later'' mentality will no doubt be an impediment to solving the issues that cities face across the country. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
I n major urban centers across the globe, a handful of companies have deployed technology due to be one of the most innovative solutions to the mountains of traffic and mobility issues that plague our cities.
Electric scooters are smart mobility vehicles that offer a revolution in dealing with problems of traffic congestion and the '' last mile'' problem.
As noted by innovation consultant Jeffrey Philips, electric scooters have proven to be successful where Segway, the two-wheeled self-balancing transporter first developed in 2001, failed.
They are cheap, small, emission-free, easy to use, and ubiquitous. The previous generation of Segways was a favorite tool of the 1 percent, priced high enough to lock out the average consumer, and too big to be left on busy corners.
Less than one year ago, however, that changed, as Silicon Valley entrepreneurs unveiled rentable electric scooters to disrupt the gridlock and fumes of car-congested streets.
The major players thus far are Bird, LimeBike, and Spin. The latter was purchased by Ford Motor Company earlier this month for close to $100 million.
But as with any innovation in transportation, the calls for regulation or outright bans have dampened the bright prospects scooters bring. And it's not just the ire of Luddites.
San Francisco, where practically all electric scooter companies are based, banned all scooters from the streets in June. Only two major companies were given permits to operate again in late August. Seattle, one of the worst cities for traffic congestion, promptly banned them earlier this year, despite embracing dockless bicycles that use practically the same technology.
Similar to Uber and Lyft's quick deployments in 2011-2012, the quick and stealthy unloading of hundreds of scooters overnight kept many cities scrambling to regulate. Cease and desist orders followed by the dozens.
Public safety, order, and taxation (not necessarily in that order) have been the key motivators for regulators. More often than not, cities claimed they weren't asked permission.
Beverly Hills justified its swift ban due to a ''concern for public safety and a lack of any advance planning and outreach by the motorized scooter companies.''
The ''regulate first, innovate later'' mentality will no doubt be an impediment to solving the issues that cities face across the country.
That said, problems exist. Riding at high speeds near cars and pedestrians without protection makes users susceptible to crashes and injuries. The class-action lawsuit filed in California by injured riders speaks to this. But if cities are able to accommodate bicycles, why wouldn't they be able to do the same for electric scooters?
An oft-heard complaint is that scooter users ride on the sidewalk, ignore traffic signals, and abandon them in high-trafficked areas.
But that can be solved with smart regulation: Allow scooters to use bike lanes and park in bike areas. Provide clear guidance for riders and companies.
Bird and LimeBike require users to snap a picture when they park their scooter, ensuring it's in a safe and legal area. Violators can be barred from the platform. That's technology providing compliance rather than a bureaucratic rule.
When ridesharing apps such as Uber, Lyft, DriveNow, and Car2go hit the streets, detractors used similar arguments. Cities that embraced the technology, though, succeeded in removing cars off the street, reducing pollution, and offering new economic opportunities. Low-income communities saw a huge benefit.
Too often, studies on the effects of ridesharing examine what they aim to disrupt: single-car commuters, public transportation, and taxis. Rather than asking whether they affect specific industries, we should ask whether they are helping society at large. And by any objective measure, they are.
Most importantly, the new innovations on our streets are solving what civil and urban planners call the '' last mile'' problem, the gap between where one mode of transportation leaves us and our final destination.
More often than not, the innovations that will solve problems in various strata of society will be the initiatives of private entrepreneurs and inventors. If cities want to embrace that positive change, they should pass reasonable and smart regulation on electric scooters.
Yal Ossowski is a writer, consumer advocate, and deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center.
De autoped doet het goed in arty farty-kringen | TROUW
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 18:56
Ze zijn op dit moment niet aan te slepen: al dan niet gemotoriseerde plankjes met een stuur en twee wielen. Als een plaag verschijnen ze in het straatbeeld van Rotterdam, Utrecht en Amsterdam, waar ze bereden worden door mensen die je grotendeels in de categorie arty farty kan onderbrengen. Van die lieden die voortdurend (ook als het onweert) een zonnebril met gele glazen dragen en al steppend van galerie naar galerie gaan.
Vooral de met elektromotor uitgeruste steps, met namen als Moggy en Glider, vinden gretig aftrek. Het neemt zo'n vlucht dat leveranciers met smart op nieuwe zendingen wachten. ,,Het gaat nu heel snel', zegt Ruud van Mourik van de Amsterdamse importeur Ciclo. ,,Vooral de Zappy is een succes. Die wordt in de VS geassembleerd, de onderdelen komen uit Taiwan. Ik nam het ding twee jaar geleden mee uit Californi en kon 'm gelijk verkopen. Sindsdien hebben we er honderden verkocht. De elektromotor houdt het vijftien tot twintig kilometer vol en binnen 3,5 uur heb je 'm weer opgeladen. Bovendien gaat het drie keer zo snel als wandelen.'
De voordelen zijn volgens Van Mourik legio. De Zappy is opvouwbaar, maakt geen herrie, is relatief 'schoon' en verlost de radeloze yup van het knellende parkeerprobleem in de stad. Eigentijdse bedrijven gaan die voordelen ook inzien en plaatsen massaal orders voor de elektrische autoped. ,,Laatst heeft Adam Curry nog een stuk of tien Zappy's gekocht', weet de importeur. ,,Hij gaat een nieuw kantoor openen in Amsterdam en heeft onderin een Zappy-kelder. Daar kunnen medewerkers zo'n ding pakken als ze een boodschap moeten doen.'
Het heeft meneer Curry een slordige 18000 pietermannen gekost, want een Zappy ligt rond de 18 1900 gulden per stuk. En eigenlijk, zo geeft van Mourik toe, is dit type alweer achterhaald. Tegenwoordig zijn er al sterk verbeterde varianten op de markt, met een grotere actieradius en een krachtiger motor. ,,Die komen wel zonder hulp een bruggetje op, in tegenstelling tot de Zappy.' Wat natuurlijk uitermate handig is op de Amsterdamse grachtengordel. Het duurste model kost 2300 gulden.
De versie zonder elektromotor is een alternatief voor de belegen vouwfiets, maar ook jongeren ontdekken het ding steeds vaker. De 'Micro skate scooter' (398 gulden) is veruit het populairst, vanwege de kleine inline-wieltjes, het aluminium designframe en het geringe gewicht van 2,8 kilo. Binnen een halve minuut is het stepje op te vouwen tot een handzaam pakketje. Veel kunstjes haal je er niet mee uit, maar het belangrijkste is dan ook het 'gezien worden'.
Toch staat de step als hipheidssymbool onder druk. Skatewinkels die in het marktgat gedoken zijn, balen als een stekker nu ook bouwmarkt Gamma twee modellen verkoopt. Oei, Gamma, dat komt hard aan als vrienden je daar tijdens het loungen mee associren. Dat wordt binnenkort weer gewoon lopen.
Caravan
Obama administration used tear gas at border once a month - Washington Times
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 13:55
The same tear-gas agent that the Trump administration is taking heat for deploying against a border mob this weekend is actually used fairly frequently '-- including more than once a month during the later years of President Barack Obama's administration, according to Homeland Security data.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has used 2-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, or CS, since 2010, and deployed it 26 times in fiscal 2012 and 27 times in 2013. The use dropped after that, but was still deployed three times in 2016, Mr. Obama's final full year in office.
Use of CS rose again in fiscal 2017, which was split between Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump, and reached 29 deployments in fiscal 2018, which ended two months ago, according to CBP data seen by The Washington Times.
Border authorities also use another agent, pepper spray, frequently '-- including a decade-high record of 151 instances in 2013, also under Mr. Obama. Pepper spray, officially known as Pava Capsaicin, was used 43 times in fiscal year 2018, according to the CBP numbers.
The data poses a challenge to the current anger over the Border Patrol's use of tear gas Sunday to prevent a mob from busting through sections of old border fence in California.
Critics, including Latin American leaders, immigrant-rights advocates and congressional Democrats, have said use of tear gas is ''un-American.''
SEE ALSO: Caravan migrants reconsider asylum claims after border clash
''It's horrifying to see tear gas used on mothers and young children as they seek refuge in the United States. That's not what America should be,'' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat.
Other Democrats complained about threats of ''deadly force'' against the border incursions, which saw migrants punch through fencing, and launch rocks and bottles at agents who responded to stem the intrusion.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, took umbrage at the outrage, questioning where the critics were when tear gas was deployed under Mr. Obama.
''This policy that we use was an Obama-written policy and it was used in 2013 at the same port of entry,'' he told CNN, wondering in particular about the intense media interest now versus then.
''The facts are, the policy written under President Obama allows us to use tear gas to disperse a crowd that was very dangerous,'' he told the network.
Host Erin Burnett scoffed at Mr. Judd's facts, saying the agents were using tear gas against women and children this weekend.
''The tear gas was not deployed at the children,'' Mr. Judd countered, saying migrants were attempting to use them as human shields.
Some 9,000 members of the migrant caravans are camped in Baja California along the U.S.-Mexico border, plotting their attempts to enter the U.S., according to Mexican press accounts.
Mexican authorities have said 500 migrants were involved in the attempts to storm the border. Some U.S. officials have put the number higher.
Mexico said it has deported 98 caravan members it has identified as part of the violence and chaos.
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This is what Trump's caravan 'invasion' really looks like | US news | The Guardian
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 13:40
B y the time I reach the migrant caravan in late October, they had been traveling for two weeks since leaving Honduras, having covered over 600 miles. Leaving from San Pedro Sula, one of the deadliest cities on Earth, they had set out over mountains, through forest and rivers, and along the way became both an international menace and a symbol of hope. Most days, they tell me, afternoon rains had soaked their belongings. Ants had bitten them where they slept. Crossing into Mexico, riot police had attacked them with clubs and teargas.
But for the most part, they say, people had displayed extraordinary kindness. Farmers had greeted them on the roads with sliced oranges and bags of water and strangers had given them rides. Every day brought these tiny, unexpected miracles: a plate of beans when their children were crying, a pickup when their legs could go no further. And for that reason, they believe that God is traveling with them on this journey to America.
I discover them in San Pedro Tapanatepec in the southern state of Oaxaca, traveling along the Pan-American highway, on what turned out to be the toughest day of the journey. The towns had been small, and few vehicles had passed along the country roads. Most of all, it had been hot, with temperatures reaching 95F (35C). Families with children had walked over nine hours and, once arrived, had collapsed into every nook and crevice of the town.
A caravan of 4,000 people doesn't simply visit a town, it swallows it whole, figuratively if not physically, and takes it hostage with its energy and chaos. Migrants move through the streets stalling traffic. Their bedrolls occupy every open porch and sliver of shade. Near the market, lines of them spill out from the internet cafe and the Western Union. A crowd overwhelms the merchant selling cellular plans, and for about two hours they bring down the network. Along the streets, residents peer out though closed shades and many businesses have closed.
Hundreds of people have staked camp in the town plaza, pitching their tents and crude shelters atop the hard cobblestone '' a landscape of muddy blankets and plastic sheeting strung from tree limbs, poles and whatever mooring against the weather they can find. Hundreds more, mainly families with children, have taken refuge in an adjacent gymnasium. It's here where I find my group: a pair of single parents traveling to America with their children, who have severe disabilities.
Mar­a Cceres's son Javier, who is 15, has Down's syndrome. He's a tall, chunky kid, with short dark hair, a missing front tooth and eyes that are permanently crossed.
Mar­a tells me how they fled San Pedro Sula after gang members constantly harassed her family for bribes and ''taxes''. When they couldn't pay, some men burned down their house, then murdered her two brothers. Mar­a had just finished burying them when '' on 12 October '' the caravan formed in the center of town. Traumatized, she left her two other children with relatives and told Javier it was time to go. The two of them joined the exodus with only the clothes on their backs.
The journey has been difficult for Javier, his mother says. In addition to Down's, he was born with hydrocephalus, a condition where excess fluid collects in the brain. He easily gets dizzy and complains of headaches. Doctors have told Mar­a that he needs surgery, but she's never had the money. He also suffers regular seizures, yet it's been weeks since they could afford his anticonvulsant meds.
The previous day, Javier collapsed from the heat while walking the highway, and Mar­a worries he will have a seizure so far from a doctor. She points to his ankles that are swollen from wearing flip-flops, and says the food donated in the camps is making him vomit. He hasn't been eating, she tells me. ''He's very weak. When he gets tired he just sits down in the road.''
Next to them is Juan Antonio and his six-year-old daughter Lesly, who has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to walk or speak, she is bound to a stroller that is too small and showing wear. Her big brown eyes slowly look across the room, monitoring the action.
Juan is an aberration in the caravan '' a single father traveling with so many women. A soft-spoken man, he hails from the mountains of western Honduras, where he worked in the coffee fields until the crops kept failing and forced his family to the city. In Ocotepeque, he found work as a security guard, but it paid little, and the streets where they lived were ruled by gangs and thieves. ''One night they found us,'' he says. ''When I was at work, a man broke into my apartment and raped my wife.''
Lesly had sat in the room and witnessed the whole thing. For days his wife stayed home and cried. The rapist was a notorious gang member, and Juan knew that he would die trying to avenge her. Instead he called the police, who did nothing. When the man discovered Juan had snitched, there was no choice but to leave '' but there was Lesly, who was all but paralyzed since she was two.
He'd recently gotten custody of the girl from her mother, his first wife, after he discovered she wasn't being cared for properly. So along with his new wife and their one-year old baby, they latched on to the caravan. Lesly didn't have a wheelchair or even a stroller, so Juan hoisted the long-legged girl in his arms and started walking.
When they reached Mexico several days later, his wife turned around and took their baby home. ''It was too difficult for her,'' he says. ''The lack of food, sleeping on the ground. She went back to her family.'' Now it was just him, Lesly and Juan's brother, who had joined them. They were trying to join their sister who lives in the United States, yet Juan isn't sure where. He says this somewhat embarrassed '' an admission I'd find common among asylum seekers.
Lesly sits in a stroller that someone had since donated, one of her feet scabbed from getting caught in the wheel. Just then, some kids set off some fireworks outside to celebrate the D­a de los Muertos. The explosions send her into spasms. She arches her back and straightens her legs, then opens her mouth and emits a silent scream.
''Loud noises scare her,'' Juan says, stroking her hair to calm her.
I look at this group, so fragile and helpless, and think how on Earth are they ever going to make it?
E ach day, the caravan's movements are planned on the fly. No one person leads the charge, although members of the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, who have organized similar movements in the past, assist with support and logistics.
As the group heads north, advance brigades are sent to scout locations, speak to local leaders, and assess how best to shelter 4,000 men, women and children. Often the next destination isn't announced until many are asleep. In the late evening we learn that tomorrow we travel to Santiago Niltepec, another faceless town on the long journey north.
In the morning darkness, the migrant city comes alive. It awakens with a low murmur, a reckoning with the dawn. Babies fuss and mothers whisper. A thousand throats clear their phlegm from a nasty cold that is spreading through the ranks. And within minutes, all you hear is the sound of stroller wheels and restless feet as the shadows lift and move toward the highway.
The shoulders of the road are like swift-flowing currents. Lose track of someone in the darkness and they're gone forever. I manage to find Juan and Lesly in the crowd, only to have them vanish as hundreds surge around me. I search but cannot find them, then surrender to the human wave. We find a rhythm.
The morning is cool and the stars bright overhead. I walk behind a mother and her two kids. The boy stares up at the big half-moon, then turns to his mother.
''Why does it have a halo?'' he asks.
She has to think a bit.
''It means it's looking at you,'' she says.
''When we stop, the moon stops. It's always watching over us.''
We walk until the moon disappears and the sun peeks over the blue mountains. The daylight reveals the scale of the caravan, stretching a mile in both directions, along with items it's lost or discarded along the way: a child's shoe. A pair of pantyhose. A sleeping bag. A banana peel draped carefully across a tree limb.
By late afternoon, the caravan has doubled the size of Niltepec. It was only last September when an 8.2 magnitude earthquake shook this entire region, killing dozens and toppling buildings in every town. Nearly every one of the town's 1,720 homes was damaged, while more than 500 were completely destroyed, says Zelfareli Cruz Medina, the town's mayor.
Many people remain homeless, she tells me. But still, when residents received news of the approaching caravan, they banded together to welcome them. She starts reciting all the food currently being prepared '' more than 4,000 sandwiches, fried fish, clean drinking water, while next to us, a group of women stand over a steaming vat of tamales.
''We know about suffering in this town,'' the mayor says. ''And we don't want these people going through the same. It's not a burden for us to help them. And besides, many of our own families have made this same voyage.''
As we talk, I receive a text saying that Donald Trump has just ordered over 5,000 troops to the US border. A soldier for every migrant, waiting with a gun.
The families are being housed in a large community hall, where the plaster remains split from the earthquake. I find Juan and Lesly. It's been a tough day, he says. ''We walked for seven hours, and no one would give us a ride.'' That's because it's easier for women. When drivers or the police scan the crowd and choose who gets aboard, all they see is another man, not this fragile girl obscured by bodies.
Lesly sits listless in her chair, wilted from the heat. They had just come from the makeshift showers where Juan had bathed her. Now brushing her hair, he notices her head is full of lice. He sighs and keeps on brushing. Right now, they just need to eat. Some volunteers outside are serving plates of food to women and kids, so Juan picks up his daughter and joins the growing line. The only way he will get served is by actually presenting her in his arms.
I find Maria and Javier on the other side of the room. Javier is sprawled out on a blanket, fast asleep. His mother watches over him, pained.
''He couldn't breathe,'' she told me. ''We were walking, and he started gagging.'' They had just set out from San Pedro that morning when Javier had a mild seizure. Luckily, they managed to find an ambulance, who could do little except give him water. It was my driver Rey who found them hours later, limping in the heat, and gave them a ride. A doctor with the Red Cross said Javier desperately needed his medication '' Phenytoin, an anticonvulsant '' but no pharmacy in town seemed to carry it.
''I don't feel good about this,'' Mar­a says. Like us, she heard the caravan was leaving again at 3am, bound for who knows where: north. ''I don't know how we can walk.''
But around nine o'clock in the evening, we receive wonderful news: families with kids won't have to walk at all. Someone has provided a fleet of buses that will take them to straight to Juchitn Zaragoza, some 50km up the Pan-American.
L ike everything else about this caravan, news of the buses proves controversial. After I post a small item about them arriving to town, conservative followers demand to know who's paying for them?
Others had asked the same on Twitter. In fact, every Facebook post I had made from Mexico had quickly produced a rotten trail of hate from both sides, with friends and relatives accusing each other of racism. All of this after Trump's suggestion that Democrats were probably behind the caravan, and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida wondering if the Jewish philanthropist and Democratic funder George Soros had financed them.
Fox News repeatedly referred to the migrant ''invasion'', and one Fox anchor asked the homeland security secretary, Kristjen Nielsen, if there was any scenario under which US troops could just shoot them when they arrived. On 27 October, as I joined the caravan in San Pedro, a conspiracy-crazed gunman had walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and murdered 11 people '' including a 97-year-old woman '' convinced Jews were helping facilitate this ''invasion''.
So, after arriving to Juchitn, I have to know. Who's paying for the buses?
One of the volunteers leads me to a small woman in a bright floral dress delegating an army of women prepping for the arrivals by stirring vats of black beans and chicharrones over two roaring fires. ''It's her,'' the man says, yet after consulting with her in private, he returns and tells me: ''Just say it's a local woman who'd like to remain anonymous.''
The festering paranoia in the States is confusing to most migrants, who haven't figured out their role as political tools in the lead-up to an election. ''Why is Donald Trump so afraid of us?'' a farmer from Ocotepeque asked me. ''Doesn't he have children? Doesn't he know we're leaving some of our kids behind?''
Many of them ask what will happen to them once they reach the border. I'm always surprised when they haven't heard about detention centers and family separation. I inform them, then add, sheepishly: ''But who knows with you?''
. J uan steps off one of the first buses to arrive. He's holding Lesly in his arms, but there's no sight of his stroller. ''They wouldn't let me bring it on the bus,'' he says. In the chaos of boarding, he'd given the stroller to his brother. This plan worried Juan, since a week ago his brother had vanished for two days, lost in the movement of the crowd.
The migrants are being housed in a half-finished bus depot on the edge of town. Local crews get busy raising tarps for shade as families begin to arrive. Without his blankets and bedding, Juan has only a plastic sheet for Lesly to lie down on, and the hard concrete makes her agitated. Her body seizes, clearly uncomfortable.
''She's got a high fever,'' Juan says, feeling her head. The cold and flu going around has affected everyone, but he has to be careful with Lesly. Sitting on his bottom, Juan hoists his daughter into his lap and cradles her like a baby, then rocks her gently back and forth. The security of her father's arms causes her to go slack. Her face relaxes, her eyes slowly close, and within minutes she is asleep.
''Sancho!''
I turn around and see 15-year-old Javier. He's a bit cross-eyed so it is hard to see where he's looking, but he runs straight over and wraps me in a hug. It's the most energetic I've ever seen him. ''Sancho!'' he shouts again. For whatever reason, that's what he has been calling me.
The previous day, my driver Rey had scoured the area and found a pharmacy that carried his medicine. Just a couple of pills and Javier was a completely different person. ''He's been hugging everyone,'' Mar­a says, smiling.
But the following morning when I return, Mar­a looks stricken. Sometime in the night Javier began having seizures. The ambulance at the camp rushed him to the hospital, where she thought he was going to die. ''His fingers and lips were turning blue,'' Mar­a says. ''He was barely breathing. I thought it was the end.''
Javier sits beside his mother now, all of his old energy drained. He droops, listless. The doctor said he was horribly dehydrated. He also needed to triple the dosage of his medication, which contributed to his seizures. But the hospital had no medicines to give him, not even an IV. ''They said I need to get him to Mexico City,'' she says.
It will be days before the caravan reaches the capital. Yet from the looks of it, everything has stalled.
The migrants remain in Juchitn for the next two days, stewing in the heat. The Red Cross tent is full of people suffering flu, diarrhea, respiratory infections, dehydration and lots of blisters and twisted ankles. At night, the camp sounds like a tuberculosis ward.
One of the things stalling them is geography. Staying north-west along the Pan-American highway takes them through the mountains, where the road is narrow and winding and full of blind curves '' ripe for accidents. But the road north is desolate with few large towns, and once they reach the state of Veracruz, it's cartel territory all the way north. The organizers need time to plan.
Geography is a puzzle. For a poor farmer unschooled about the greater world, the map of the mind cannot accurately account for distance or terrain, for histories and peoples, much less a well-fed American soldier holding an M4 rifle.
Inside the depot, a trucker steps up. He's traveled the whole country, he says. ''If we go through Tamaulipas, the cartels will kill us,'' he says, referring to the embattled Mexican state along the south Texas border '' currently the shortest route.
''Then how far to Tijuana?'' a man asks.
''Three thousand kilometers.''
''H­jole. If we keep stopping like this, we'll never get there!''
''And Mexico City is dangerous,'' the trucker adds. ''No one will give you money. There, you're invisible!''
''Do the organizers knows this?'' another asks. ''Do they know anything?!''
Night and day under the tarps, the temperature is blazing. The toilets begin to smell, along with every tree line that's been used as a latrine. Garbage piles up. People become restless, and boys start picking fights. It's as if the natural order of the caravan has been betrayed. ''We need to move,'' Juan says. ''Only bad things can happen if we stay here.''
The organizers' reticence to share information fosters much speculation. Fear creeps into the idle mind, and soon many rumors are hatched.
''If we stay here we must be careful,'' he adds. ''I'm told there are criminals going around kidnapping children, and they sell their organs to the cartels.'' Mar­a had told me the same thing the previous day.
People become paranoid that the caravan will never leave, that it is a plot by Trump and the Mexican president to keep them in Juchitn forever. This theory is apparently supported by an evangelical prophet who preaches one afternoon, warning the crowd if they break from the group, death will follow. ''If you leave,'' she tells the restless ones, ''it will be without the protection of God.''
So, it's with both trepidation and relief that we hear the caravan will be moving north toward Veracruz, to a town called Mat­as Romero.
No buses will be provided. At 4am the next morning, we set out on foot.
We're not even to the highway when Javier stops and throws up. We sit down to let him rest, while Mar­a pats his back and grimaces. But within five minutes, he is smiling again and wanting to move. He stands, takes hold of my hand, and we walk.
Mar­a carries a garbage bag of their belongings slung over her shoulder. She wants to talk about her brothers, Francis and Manuel. ''I told you they were murdered because they couldn't pay the gang,'' she says. ''That's because all of their money had gone to help Javier. Francis and Manuel died helping my son.''
She tells me that just last year, her brothers had joined a similar caravan from Honduras to Tijuana, where they'd found work in a restaurant and earned decent money. They had stayed four months but had to return after their mother became ill.
''And now I'm traveling the same road as my brothers,'' she says. ''I feel them walking beside us. They give me strength to keep going.''
I think of all the migrants who came before, all the other ghosts now walking beside us. Migrants from El Salvador and Cuba, Russia and Germany, from the killing fields of Sudan, Iraq and Syria. Cotton pickers from Texas and sodbusters from Oklahoma. Hebrews wandering in the desert; a pregnant mother from Nazareth following a distant star.
I can see my grandfathers and uncle who, in 1931, fled the dust-blown cotton fields of west Texas and headed for California, seeking jobs and a better life for their kids. They hopped freight trains, joining over a million young men riding the rails to find work. Riders often died from suffocating in boxcars, falling beneath the wheels, or being scraped off the roof when the trains entered the tunnels. Firemen soaked them with water so theywould freeze once they gathered speed. Railroad police beat them, oftentimes to death. And when the poor farmers finally reached California, they were met at the border by cops who detained them and turned them away. Those who crossed the border faced resentment, hostility and squalor.
This is what I think of as I walk with Javier and Mar­a. How, save for a few details, we have all been strangers on our own migrant roads.
W e stop near a pasture so Javier can pee. He hoots and hollers at the cows behind the fence and cries: ''MOOOO!'' Seeing him in a good mood and feeling strong puts Mar­a at ease. I ask her if she's learned anything while on the road, if the wilderness had taught her any lessons as it had for so many others.
''I've learned that I can trust myself to take care of my kids,'' she says. ''After my husband left me, I felt like a piece of trash that someone tossed away. I was self-conscious and full of doubt, boxed in by four walls in a room by myself. Now that's gone. For the first time ever, no matter where we end up, I feel really strong.''
I find Juan and Lesly at another junction about a mile away. Back in Juchitn, Juan's brother had managed to return the stroller, but one of the wheels had broken. Now as Juan pushes Lesly, who is heavy, the wheel strains under her weight and threatens to collapse. They can barely move.
''It's all I've been thinking about,'' Juan says, staring at the stroller. ''What am I going to do?''
By now it's hot and the crowds are getting agitated. When a pickup appears with an empty bed, Juan pushes the stroller as fast as it can go but he's too late. A swarm of men shove him aside, leap over Lesly, and climb aboard. The crowd scolds them:
''Machistas!''
''Marijuaneros!''
Twice more it's the same. Juan gets the stroller close to a truck but is easily overcome. Women push him, and drivers and police overlook him, seeing only a man. But he takes it in stride; there is nothing he can do.
Finally, there's a break: a lineman in a utility truck appears from the gravel road behind us and Juan makes his move. He practically drags the stroller to the truck cab and the driver motions him inside. Juan opens the door and quickly lifts Lesly into the seat. He climbs in, takes a breath, and they pull away in a cloud of dust.
In Mat­as Romero, I find Juan and Lesly lying in the grass as workers erect tarp shelters above them. You made it fast, I say. He tells me the trucker could only drive them 10km. It was hot. Lesly was looking faint, and the stroller was all but useless. So, he wound up hiring a moto-taxi, which drained the last peso of his savings.
''I can't stop thinking about the stroller,'' he tells me. ''Today I thought about turning back, but I keep telling myself: one more day. I'll give it one more day. But if the chair breaks tomorrow, I think we'll go home.''
A food line forms, this one just for women, so Juan hoists Lesly in his arms and pushes directly to the front. The server looks up, sees his daughter, and hands Juan a plate. But only one.
That night, as I'm asleep in my hotel, a thunderstorm rips over Mat­as. The soccer field where the migrants are staying quickly floods. When I return early the next morning, the camp is eerily abandoned and quiet. Garbage covers the grass, along with hundreds of sleeping bags, clothing and blankets '' all soaked and trampled into the mud.
Most of the caravan is already on the highway, headed for Donaj­, 46km north. Rey and I spend the morning driving the road and scanning the crowd, until finally we spot Juan pushing Lesly in the stroller. It's wobbling, held together by a prayer. They both look ragged.
''When it started raining we all ran for the park,'' Juan says. ''So many people were in a panic. We lost most of our things.'' Gone were their blankets and most of his clothes. He had even lost his boots; he now wears a purple pair of Crocs. ''These are someone else's I found.''
I examine the stroller wheel. There was no way they would make it 46km, much less five. I have Rey make room in the truck and we drive them all the way to Donaj­.
It was time for me to go. But before we say goodbye, Rey reaches into the back of the truck and pulls out a brand-new stroller we'd purchased at the market '' thanks to a generous friend back in Austin who had seen some of my posts. It wasn't the sturdiest chariot, but at least it would get Juan and Lesly to Mexico City. As we're assembling it, a single mother and her little boy walk past and stop. She looks at Juan, then at the old stroller.
''Have it,'' Juan tells her, and with glee the mother loads her son inside and wobbles off.
I think of the previous day when Juan was talking about going home. At some point, he had caught himself and seemed to remember why he was there. ''If we can just reach the US,'' he'd said. ''That life, finally having a real home for my daughter, that's what keeps me going.''
That simple wish was also his greatest gamble. He lifts his daughter into the stroller, straps her in, and starts pushing her up the highway, north toward America.
' On 15 November, the first members of the caravan finally reached Tijuana, Mexico. The group had splintered as they passed though Mexico City and continued west. Juan and Lesly safely reached Tijuana several days later. They're now staying in a shelter for asylum seekers, waiting to apply. Mar­a and Javier stayed in Mexicali for a week before continuing to Tijuana, where they also wait for asylum.
Eight 'migrants' rescued after cross-channel air and sea search - BBC News
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 13:56
Image copyright @premarmanche Image caption One of those on board appeared to be wrapped in cling film for protection from the elements Eight suspected migrants have been rescued from a boat in the Channel, the French authorities have said.
Helicopters and coastal patrols were sent to find them along with a British RNLI crew after a French team raised the alarm at about 02:00 GMT.
After translators were brought in to get more information on their location, a fishing boat found them at 04:20 GMT.
All eight had hypothermia and one appeared to be wrapped in cling film for protection from the elements.
A statement from the Prefecture Maritime de la Manche said they were taken to Boulogne, where they were taken care of by firefighters and police.
It said their small boat was recovered by a French vessel.
The RNLI confirmed its Dover crew went out to help the French coastguard.
'Organised crime'Warnings have gone out from UK authorities about the dangers of taking small boats on the Dover-Calais route - the world's busiest shipping lane.
Experts have said dinghies will not show on the radars of larger vessels in the Channel, and crowded dinghies are not equipped to make the crossings.
Image copyright @premarmanche Image caption The small boat was recovered by the French vessel, the Abeille Languedoc A recent surge in attempts to cross the Channel is being blamed on organised crime in France.
The vast majority attempting to make the crossings claim to be Iranian, and so far the number of suspected Iranian migrants to have reached UK shores stands at 101.
Five suspected migrants were pulled from the sea off France on Saturday, but their nationality is not known.
The French authorities have not given any more information about where the latest group set off from.
Timeline25 November
Eight people, all suffering from hypothermia, are rescued by the French authorities from a small boat in the Channel24 November
Five suspected migrants are picked up from a small boat by the French authorities off northern France23 November
Eight men located in a dinghy off the coast of Dover22 November
Thirteen men and one woman were intercepted in two dinghies off the coast of Dover18 November
Nine suspected migrants were found clambering up rocks in Folkestone after apparently crossing the English Channel in a small boat16 November
Seven suspected migrants were found off Samphire Hoe, near Dover14 November
Nine suspected migrants - seven men, one woman and a toddler - were found off the Kent coastAnother 10 were found near Dover DocksFive men were found several miles of Ramsgate13 November
Fourteen men and three children entered Port of Dover on a French fishing boat believed to be stolen9 November
3 November
Eight suspected migrants were stopped off the Kent coastSeven others were stopped at Dover Western Docks
U.S. Files Drug Charges Against Brother of Honduran President - WSJ
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 16:18
Federal prosecutors in New York said on Monday they had filed drugs and weapons charges against Juan Antonio ''Tony'' Hernandez, a former Honduran lawmaker and brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, accusing him of working with drug traffickers across Latin America to import cocaine into the U.S.
Mr. Hernandez was actively involved in cocaine trafficking in Honduras over a 12-year period, prosecutors alleged, including by affixing a stamp of ''TH,'' his initials, on some cocaine in laboratories to which he had access in Honduras and Colombia. He was involved in processing, receiving, transporting and distributing multi-ton loads of cocaine that arrived in the country via plane, boat and, at least once, submarine, prosecutors said.
Mr. Hernandez was arrested Friday in Miami and was scheduled Monday to appear in Miami federal court, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday.
A spokeswoman for the Honduran president, Andrea Matamoros, didn't respond to requests for comment. The president's office said Friday in a statement following Mr. Hernandez's arrest that ''no one is above the law and that every person has the right to a legitimate defense and the presumption of innocence.
''The president and his government maintain the position that everyone is responsible for their acts and in no case is this responsibility transferable to other persons,'' the statement said.
Mr. Hernandez, 40 years old, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison plus 45 years if convicted of all four counts.
The charges against him highlight how organized crime has penetrated the Honduran political establishment and undermines its weak institutions, political analysts say.
It is a situation that has contributed to the lack of hope for change in the country among the tens of thousands of Hondurans fleeing to the U.S. to escape grinding poverty and violent crime. President Trump on Monday threatened to close the U.S. border as a caravan from Honduras sought to enter the U.S. and apply for asylum.
''This is irrefutable evidence that organized crime has infiltrated the highest political spheres in Honduras,'' said Rafael Delgado, an economist and columnist with Honduran newspaper La Tribuna. ''Drug trafficking in Honduras isn't just an issue of gangs, but one that has infiltrated the political and economic powers in the country.''
''This is why there is disillusionment with the politics in the country,'' he added. ''People have realized there is so much corruption. They've lost hope.''
Honduras, a Central American country of nine million people, has become a hub for transporting cocaine from South America to the U.S. as organized crime takes advantage of its weak institutions and rule of law. The growth in drug trafficking has fueled violence in Honduras, one of the hemisphere's poorest countries that has one of the world's highest murder rates.
Family members of other prominent politicians have also been arrested for drug trafficking. Last year, Fabio Lobo, the son of former President Porfirio Lobo, was sentenced to 24 years in prison in the U.S. after admitting to drug trafficking following his arrest in Haiti in an operation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Mr. Delgado said the arrest of President Hernandez's brother will further damage the Honduran leader and could have ramifications for his close relationship with Washington. While the 50-year-old President Hernandez has been credited with improving security, he has also come under fire over his controversial re-election in November 2017. His election win, which came after the supreme court in Honduras struck down a one-term limit on presidents, sparked large protests.
The U.S., which has provided Honduras with millions of dollars in aid, backed Mr. Hernandez's re-election. But last month, President Trump threatened to cut off aid to Honduras and other Central American nations if they didn't stop thousands of migrants who left in a caravan for the U.S.
''This weakens the president and his party much more,'' said Mr. Delgado. ''It is time that the United States realize that its allies here in the country have colluded with organized crime and drug trafficking.''
Write to Samuel Rubenfeld at Samuel.Rubenfeld@wsj.com<mailto:Samuel.Rubenfeld@wsj.com> and Ryan Dube at Ryan.Dube@wsj.com<mailto:Ryan.Dube@wsj.com>
Write to Samuel Rubenfeld at samuel.rubenfeld@wsj.com and Ryan Dube at ryan.dube@dowjones.com
SF Poop Report
Light Pole Collapses Due To Urine - San Francisco News
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 17:05
SAN FRANCISCO'--Last week, a three-story light pole fell on top of car at Pine and Taylor Streets, nearly hitting the driver. Officials from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission say that there were varying conditions that caused the pole to fall, one of them being the corrosion at its base that was caused by urine.
The driver of the car, currently unidentified, came close to being injured. ''Had the man been pulled up a little bit more he would have been killed at the scene,'' Susie Salvi, a witness at the scene, told KTVU.
A banner was also weighing down the lamppost, but the PUC confirmed that they believed it was the corrosion what had ultimately caused it to break and fall. ''We believe there was some contribution of dog or human urine on the base of the pole,'' PUC spokesman Tyrone Jue told the San Francisco Chronicle, ''This has actually been an issue for us in the past. We encourage people and dogs alike to do their business in other places, like a proper restroom or one of our fire hydrants, which are stronger and made out of cast iron.'' No one was injured during the incident.
Last year, SF Mayor Edward Lee increased the street light budget for maintenance and replacement of poles. San Francisco has launched an assessment program to visually check on every single light post in the city, all 25,000 of them. Over 100 lights have already been replaced along San Bruno Avenue.
The California drought has provided less rain to wash away the urine, and the smell of the city has increased. ''It's not so much the urination,'' he said, but rather the ''historic levels of drug use.'' Proposition 47, which passed in November 2014, downgrades drug possession to a misdemeanor and it allows state prisoners to seek early release.
To help aid the urination problem, Hizzoner has increased public restroom access, Pit Stop has installed public toilets and Mayor Lee has given additional funds to the Department of Public Works for cleanup crews and housing for the homeless.
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McDonald's Touchscreen Machines Test Positive for Fecal Matter, Investigation Finds
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 16:09
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CRISPR
Chinese scientists condemn CRISPR baby experiment as ''crazy'' '-- Quartz
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 13:37
A group of scientists in China claim that they have helped bring two genetically edited twin babies to life. The goal in doing so was to bestow the twin girls with the ability to prevent HIV infection and avoid AIDS. The scientists claim they were successful, according to reports in Associated Press and MIT Tech Review.
The claims haven't been independently verified, but if they are true, then both science and ethics have entered unchartered territories.
More than 100 Chinese scientists have co-signed a letter, released on China's social media site Weibo, condemning the experiment for using gene-editing technology on humans. The signatories include scientists from some of China's most prominent universities and from overseas institutes like MIT.
Quartz has translated the letter into English.
Regarding the recent news from domestic and foreign media on human embryo gene-editing and two babies born using CRISPR technology, as rational human beings, with respect for scientific theories and concerns regarding the future scientific developments in China, our statement is as follows:
The bioethics approval for this so-called ''study'' was insufficient. We can only use the word ''crazy'' to describe the experiment conducted directly on human beings. We have much to debate inside the scientific community about the accuracy and off-target-effects brought by CRISPR. Any attempts to alter human embryos and make babies carry huge risks without strict examination beforehand.
It is scientifically possible, but scientists and medical experts have chosen not to use the technology on human beings because of uncertainties, risks, and most importantly, the ethical problems that follow. Such irreversible alterations on human genes will inevitably go into the human gene pool. We should have a thorough and in-depth discussion with scientists and people across the world about these potential effects. We cannot rule out the possibility that the babies, born using this technology, can be healthy for a period of time. But the potential risks and dangers brought along by the unjustified procedure, especially if such experiments carry on, are hard to measure.
At the same time, this is a strike at the reputation and development of China's science, especially in biomedical research. It's extremely unfair to most of the scientists and scholars who work hard to innovate and adhere to ethical guidelines.
We urge related regulatory departments and affiliated research institutes to establish laws and regulations on [gene-editing], and conduct a full investigation. They should also reveal the findings to the public.
Pandora's Box has been opened. We need to close it before we lose our last chance. We as biomedical researchers strongly oppose and condemn any attempts on editing human embryo genes without scrutiny on ethics and safety!
Signed by 122 scientists:
Bi Guoqiang, University of Science and Technology of China
Cai Xuyu, West China Hospital, Sichuan University
Cang Chunlei, University of Science and Technology of China
Cao Gang, Huazhong Agricultural University
Chen Xiaoke, Stanford University
Chen Yelin, Interdisciplinary Research Center on Biology and Chemistry
Chen Yongjun, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine
Chen Yu, Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Chou Zilong, Institute of Neuroscience, Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Deng Chunshan, Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Dong Peng, Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Dong Wei, South West Medical University
Dong Zhifang, Chongqing Medical University
Fan Pu, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Basic Medical Science Institute
Fei Jifeng, Institute for Brain Research and Rehabilitation, South China Normal University
Feng Weijun, Fudan University
Fu Yu, Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Ge Wuping, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Gong Hui, the Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Gu Yu, Fudan University
Guan Jisong, School of Life and Science, ShanghaiTech University
Guo Yiping, Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Han Yungeng, School of Basic Medicine, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
He Kaiwen, Interdisciplinary Research Center on Biology and Chemistry
He Miao, Fudan University
He Shuijin, ShanghaiTech University
Hu Ronggui, Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, China Academy of Sciences
Huang Lianyan, Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University
Huang Rui, Chongqing University
Jia Jiemin, Westlake University
Jiang Man, the Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Xie Yunli, Fudan University
Jin Xinchun, Suzhou University
Kang Lihui, Zhejiang University School of Medicine
Ke Jiangbin, Sun Yat-Sen University
Lei Peng, West China School of Basic Medical Sciences and Forensic Medicine, Sichuan University
Li Anan, Xuzhou Medical University
Li Boxing, Sun Yat-Sen University
Li Chengyu, Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Li Huiliang, University College London
Li Lu, Sun Yat-Sen University
Li Nan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Li Qian, Shanghai Jiaotong University, School of Medicine
Li Yan, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Li Yanqing, Tsinghua University
Li Yulong, Peking University
Liang Feixue, Southern Medical University
Liang Zhifeng, Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Lin Sen, Army Medical University
Liu Haikun, German Cancer Research Center
Liu Huisheng, Beihang University
Liu Kai, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Liu Qiang, the University of Science and Technology of China
Lu Qi, School of Medicine, Wayne State
Luo Huan, Peking University
Lu Hui, the George Washington University
Ma Chaolin, Nanchang University
Ma Huan, Zhejiang University School of Medicine
Ma Quanhong, Suzhou University
Ma Yuanye, Kunming University of Science and Technology
Mao Yu, Kunming Institute of Zoology, China Academy of Sciences
Mei Lin, Case Western Reserve University
Pan Bingxing, Nanchang University
Pan Yufeng, Institute of Life Sciences, Southeast University
Pang Zhiping, Rutgers University
Peng Bo, Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Peng Jiyun, Nanchang University
Qin Song, Fudan University
Qu Yibo, Jinan University
Ren Chaoran, Jinan University
Shao Zhiyong, Fudan University
Shen Qin, Tongji University
Sheng Nengyin, Kunming Institute of Zoology, China Academy of Sciences
Shi Lei, Jinan University
Song Yan, Peking University
Song Binggui, Zhejiang University, School of Medicine
Sun Wenzhi, Chinese Institute for Brain Research, Beijing
Sun Xiangdong, Guangzhou Medical University
Sun Xiaoli, Fudan University
Sun Yi, Tongji University
Qian Hongtao, Hunan University
Tan Guohe, Guangxi Medical University
Tao Yanmei, Institute of Life Sciences, Hangzhou Normal University
Tong Xiajing, ShanghaiTech University
Tu Jie, Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Wang Hao, Zhejiang University
Wang Shirong, Beijing Institute of Technology
Wang Fei, China Medical University
Wang Liming, Zhejiang University, School of Medicine
Wang Liping, Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Wang Liang, Zhejiang University, School of Medicine
Wang Lupeng, National Institutes of Health
Wang Shouyan, Fudan University
Wang Wenyuan, Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, China Academy of Sciences
Wang Xiaoqin, Tsinghua University
Wang Xiaodong, Zhejiang University, School of Medicine
Wang Xiaoqun, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Wu Qingfeng, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Wu Longjun, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science
Xiao Xiao, Fudan University
Xiong Wei, Tsinghua University
Xiong Wei, University of Science and Technology of China
Xu Nanjie, Shanghai Jiaotong University, School of Medicine
Xu Ying, Suzhou University
Xu Zhenzhong, Zhejiang University, School of Medicine
Xu Junyu, Zhejiang University
Xu Xiaohong, Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Xu Zhiheng, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Xue Tian, the University of Science and Technology of China
Yang Yan, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Yang Yang, ShanghaiTech University
Yang Zhengang, Fudan University
Ye Haihong, Capital Medical University
Yu Yongchun, Fudan University
Yuan Kexin, Tsinghua University
Zhan Cheng, National Institutes of Biological Sciences, Beijing
Zhang Bo, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School
Zhang Erquan, National Institutes of Biological Sciences, Beijing
Zhang Jiayi, Fudan University
Zhang Jie, Xiamen University
Zhang Luoying, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Zhang Siyu, Shanghai Jiaotong University, School of Medicine
Agenda 2030
Trump Administration's Strategy on Climate: Try to Bury Its Own Scientific Report - The New York Times
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 13:41
News AnALYSIS
Image President Trump this month in Paradise, Calif., the site of devastating fires. Friday's report cites the changing climate as a contributing factor in such disasters. Credit Credit Tom Brenner for The New York Times Want climate news in your inbox? Sign up here for Climate Fwd:, our email newsletter.
WASHINGTON '-- The Trump White House, which has defined itself by a willingness to dismiss scientific findings and propose its own facts, on Friday issued a scientific report that directly contradicts its own climate-change policies.
That sets the stage for a remarkable split-screen political reality in coming years. The administration is widely expected to discount or ignore the report's detailed findings of the economic strain caused by climate change, even as it continues to cut environmental regulations, while opponents use it to mount legal attacks against the very administration that issued the report.
''This report will be used in court in significant ways,'' said Richard L. Revesz, an expert in environmental law at New York University. ''I can imagine a lawyer for the Trump administration being asked by a federal judge, 'How can the federal government acknowledge the seriousness of the problem, and then set aside the rules that protect the American people from the problem?' And they might squirm around coming up with an answer.''
The 1,656-page National Climate Assessment, which is required by Congress, is the most comprehensive scientific study to date detailing the effects of global warming on the United States economy, public health, coastlines and infrastructure. It describes in precise detail how the warming planet will wreak hundreds of billions of dollars of damage in coming decades.
President Trump has often questioned or mocked the basic science of human-caused climate change, and is now working aggressively to encourage the burning of coal and the increase of greenhouse gas pollution.
Historians and veterans of public service said it was notable that policymakers didn't try to soften the report's conclusions, because that indicated the strength of the administration's belief that it could ignore the findings in favor of policies driven by political ideology. ''This is a new frontier of disavowance of science, of disdain for facts,'' said William K. Reilly, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency under the first President George Bush.
A White House statement said the report, started under the Obama administration, was ''largely based on the most extreme scenario'' of global warming and that the next assessment would provide an opportunity for greater balance.
Under a 1990 law, the federal government is required to issue the climate assessment every four years. The latest version introduces new complexity in the political fight over regulations designed to fight climate change. That's because, until the administration of President Barack Obama, no such regulations existed to be fought over.
Mr. Trump has made it a centerpiece of his administration's policy to undo these rules. He has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to sharply weaken the nation's two major policies for curbing planet-warming pollution: One rule that would restrict greenhouse emissions from vehicle tailpipes, and another that would limit them from power plant smokestacks.
The rules are grounded in a 2009 legal finding, which has been upheld by federal courts, that planet-warming pollution harms human health and well-being, and therefore government policies are needed to reduce it.
In publishing the assessment, White House officials made a calculation that Mr. Trump's core base of supporters most likely would not care that its findings are so at odds with the president's statements and policies.
That view is supported by Steven J. Milloy, a member of Mr. Trump's E.P.A. transition team who runs the website junkscience.com, which is aimed at casting doubt on the established science of human-caused climate change. ''We don't care,'' he said. ''In our view, this is made-up hysteria anyway.''
Mr. Milloy echoed a talking point used by other critics of the report, calling it the product of the ''deep state,'' a term that refers to the conspiratorial notion of a secret alliance of bureaucrats and others who oppose the president.
''Trying to stop the deep state from doing this in the first place, or trying to alter the document, and then creating a whole new narrative '-- it's better to just have it come out and get it over with,'' said Mr. Milloy. ''But do it on a day when nobody cares, and hope it gets swept away by the next day's news.''
Work on the climate assessment, which was performed by about 300 scientists, including career government scientists at 13 federal agencies, commenced shortly after the publication of the previous report, in 2014. The project was already well underway by the time Mr. Trump took office in 2017.
The decision not to alter or suppress the report's findings '-- despite its scientific conclusions so much at odds with the president's policies '-- reflected a clear political calculus, according to three people familiar with the White House's thinking.
Since the report is mandated by Congress, not issuing it would have been a violation of the law. While some political appointees within one of the agencies that contributed scientific work to the report did suggest editing the summary of its conclusions to play down the findings, that idea was also seen as too risky politically and legally, these people said.
Instead, these people said, administration officials hoped to minimize the impact by making the assessment public on the afternoon of Black Friday, the big shopping day after the Thanksgiving holiday, thinking that Americans might be unlikely to be paying attention.
People familiar with the decision to publish said that White House officials sought to avoid the political blowback that hit the George W. Bush administration when it was revealed in 2005 that a White House official and former oil lobbyist, Philip A. Cooney, altered the language of government climate science reports to weaken the link between fossil fuel pollution and the warming of the planet.
''This moment tells you that there is a difference between the White House and the president,'' said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. The White House has ''lawyers and policy experts that don't want to go down in history as falsifying data.''
In light of Friday's report, Mr. Brinkley drew a parallel between Mr. Trump's statements on climate science and President Lyndon B. Johnson's false statements to the American public a half-century ago about the Vietnam War. ''Johnson used to tell people everything was going well in Vietnam, and then you'd turn on the news and see the mayhem,'' he said. ''It was this giant disconnect.''
In interviews with about a dozen authors of the climate assessment, all said that White House officials had not sought to soften or weaken its language.
''I will give credit where it's due: No one at the political level did any monkeying around with this,'' said Andrew Light, a co-author of the report and a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, a Washington research organization. ''For all the criticism of the Trump administration quashing climate science, this is one case where they did not do that.''
Nevertheless, despite the satisfaction at seeing their scientific work made public, many of the authors expressed disappointment that Mr. Trump's strategy appears to be to ignore the findings and move forward with plans to undo climate change policies.
''It's incredibly frustrating,'' said Paul Chinowsky, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a co-author of the report's chapter on the effect of climate change on roads, bridges and other infrastructure. That chapter concludes that more extreme storms, flooding and heat waves, along with rising sea levels, will damage the nation's roadways, leading to dangerous infrastructure collapses and up to $21 billion in damage by the century's end.
''I'm watching these arguments between politicians and scientists, but I'm on the ground with public works officials who say that argument's irrelevant,'' Mr. Chinowsky said. ''People are going to get hurt and die if we don't change the policy.''
For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.
Coral Davenport covers energy and environmental policy, with a focus on climate change, from the Washington bureau. She joined The Times in 2013 and previously worked at Congressional Quarterly, Politico and National Journal. @ CoralMDavenport ' Facebook
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U.N. Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 14:34
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.
Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of '"eco- refugees,'² '² threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP.
He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.
As the warming melts polar icecaps, ocean levels will rise by up to three feet, enough to cover the Maldives and other flat island nations, Brown told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday.
Coastal regions will be inundated; one-sixth of Bangladesh could be flooded, displacing a fourth of its 90 million people. A fifth of Egypt's arable land in the Nile Delta would be flooded, cutting off its food supply, according to a joint UNEP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study.
'"Ecological refugees will become a major concern, and what's worse is you may find that people can move to drier ground, but the soils and the natural resources may not support life. Africa doesn't have to worry about land, but would you want to live in the Sahara?'" he said.
UNEP estimates it would cost the United States at least $100 billion to protect its east coast alone.
Shifting climate patterns would bring back 1930s Dust Bowl conditions to Canadian and U.S. wheatlands, while the Soviet Union could reap bumper crops if it adapts its agriculture in time, according to a study by UNEP and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
Excess carbon dioxide is pouring into the atmosphere because of humanity's use of fossil fuels and burning of rain forests, the study says. The atmosphere is retaining more heat than it radiates, much like a greenhouse.
The most conservative scientific estimate that the Earth's temperature will rise 1 to 7 degrees in the next 30 years, said Brown.
The difference may seem slight, he said, but the planet is only 9 degrees warmer now than during the 8,000-year Ice Age that ended 10,000 years ago.
Brown said if the warming trend continues, '"the question is will we be able to reverse the process in time? We say that within the next 10 years, given the present loads that the atmosphere has to bear, we have an opportunity to start the stabilizing process.'"
He said even the most conservative scientists '"already tell us there's nothing we can do now to stop a ... change'" of about 3 degrees.
'"Anything beyond that, and we have to start thinking about the significant rise of the sea levels ... we can expect more ferocious storms, hurricanes, wind shear, dust erosion.'"
He said there is time to act, but there is no time to waste.
UNEP is working toward forming a scientific plan of action by the end of 1990, and the adoption of a global climate treaty by 1992. In May, delegates from 103 nations met in Nairobi, Kenya - where UNEP is based - and decided to open negotiations on the treaty next year.
Nations will be asked to reduce the use of fossil fuels, cut the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases such as methane and fluorocarbons, and preserve the rain forests.
'"We have no clear idea about the ecological minimum of green space that the planet needs to function effectively. What we do know is that we are destroying the tropical rain forest at the rate of 50 acres a minute, about one football field per second,'" said Brown.
Each acre of rain forest can store 100 tons of carbon dioxide and reprocess it into oxygen.
Brown suggested that compensating Brazil, Indonesia and Kenya for preserving rain forests may be necessary.
The European Community istalking about a half-cent levy on each kilowatt- hour of fossil fuels to raise $55 million a year to protect the rain forests, and other direct subsidies may be possible, he said.
The treaty could also call for improved energy efficiency, increasing conservation, and for developed nations to transfer technology to Third World nations to help them save energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions, said Brown.
Al Gore to host 24-hour climate change special featuring Moby, Goo Goo Dolls - Washington Times
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:37
Al Gore will host a 24-hour broadcast special on climate change next month featuring an array of celebrities and musical performances by artists that include Moby and the Goo Goo Dolls.
The former vice president on Tuesday announced the eighth annual ''24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves,'' which will be televised in more than 125 countries and streamed live online at 24HoursofReality.org, according to a news release.
The special will include performances by Moby, the Goo Goo Dolls, Sting & Shaggy, Jeff Goldblum & the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, among others, as well as celebrity appearances by Jaden Smith, Bill Nye, T(C)a Leoni, Claire Danes and Cody Simpson.
''Our health depends on the health of the planet,'' Mr. Gore said in a statement. ''The climate crisis is not an abstract issue; it has direct impacts on us and the people we love the most. I'm looking forward to exploring the climate and health connection on this year's 24 Hours broadcast and to discussing how we can take bold and ambitious action to ensure that future generations can live long, healthy lives full of opportunity and promise.''
The special will air live from Los Angeles starting Monday, Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. local time.
It's a fact: Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis and threatening our health. Tune in to #24HoursofReality on December 3''4 and learn how you can help make a difference. https://t.co/tHg4pqpyGmpic.twitter.com/a3oGkrA1Ul
'-- Al Gore (@algore) November 27, 2018Copyright (C) 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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DECEMBER 3rd & 4th, 2018 Live from Los Angeles, California &nbsp
We'll travel across the Earth for 24 hours to learn more about how fossil fuels and climate change are creating unique health risks that threaten the wellness of families and communities all over the world.
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24 Hours of Reality 2018': Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves
What You Can Do It's a fact: Fossil fuels are driving a climate crisis and threatening our health. On December 3 '' 4, Climate Reality and former Vice President Al Gore will be joined by an all-star line-up of artists, thought leaders, and scientists for 24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves. Tune in and learn how we can make a healthy future a reality: https://www.24HoursofReality.org
United States '' Momentum in the Face of Challenge
Showtime December 3 2018 9PM ET
With Washington turning away from climate action, cities, states and businesses have charged ahead. Featuring a live introduction and slide show by Vice President Al Gore, interviews with former EPA head Gina McCarthy and Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson, and an in-depth look at the health threat posed by active oil rigs in communities '' as well as the growing activism from those who refuse to accept the risk.
Canada '' Rallying Against a Changing Climate
Showtime December 3 2018 10PM ET
Indigenous peoples of Canada are ferociously committed to protecting their beautiful home as it sees an uptick in heat-related and infectious disease. Featuring a live visit from Bill Nye the Science Guy, a slideshow by Vice President Al Gore and interviews with Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action.
Australia '' The Burning Issue at Hand
Showtime December 3 2018 11PM ET
A look at the health consequences of the nation's unprecedented heat waves and bush fires, as well as a battery farm success story delivered by Tesla's Elon Musk. Featuring performances by musical artists 5 Seconds of Summer, Kate Nash and Courtney Barnett, a live presentation by Vice President Al Gore, and live interviews with Dr. Steven Miles, Minister for Health in Queensland, Minister Leeanne Enoch, and Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes.
Pacific Islands '' Fending Off the Waves
Showtime December 3 2018 12AM ET
Rising sea levels coupled with warmer temperatures spell multiple threats for the nations of Fiji, Kiribati and New Zealand. Featuring deep dives into the increasing incidence and outbreaks of multiple infectious and vector-borne diseases.
Japan '' The Business of Change
Showtime December 4 2018 1AM ET
As heat related emergencies increase, trusted Japanese corporations have taken the lead on sustainability solutions. Featuring a live interview with Takejiro Sueyoshi, Special Advisor to the U.N. Environment Programme.
Philippines '' A Storm of Activism
Showtime December 4 2018 2AM ET
Vulnerable to typhoons and having already suffered devastating health impacts of the climate crisis, residents of the Philippines are actively combatting the fossil fuel industry. Featuring a live presentation by Vice President Al Gore, interviews with health care officials, and a look at the battle to shut down a proposed new coal-fired power plant.
China '' Responding to Threat Within
Showtime December 4 2018 3AM ET
After decades of relying on fossil fuels for growth, China continues to show global leadership in developing massive solar energy capabilities. Featuring a live performance by musical artist Khalil Fong, a conversation between Global Climate Action Summit Co-Chair Xie Zhenhua and Vice President Al Gore, as well as a live presentation by Mr. Gore.
Indonesia '' Much at Stake, Much to Gain
Showtime December 4 2018 4AM ET
With millions of people potentially at risk from health impacts such as flooding and heat waves, Indonesia stand much to gain from a shift from fossil fuels. Featuring an interview with the Minister of the Environment and Forestry as well as the president of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences
India '' Lighting a Path to the Future
Showtime December 4 2018 5AM ET
As home to several of the world's most air-polluted cities and intensifying heat waves and monsoon seasons, India sits squarely in the crosshairs of the climate health crisis. So it's not surprising the nation has forged ahead on solar development. Featuring a live presentation by Vice President Al Gore, an in-depth look at the formation of the International Solar Alliance, and conversations with Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, the president of the Public Health Foundation of India, and World Health Organization regional director Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh.
Middle East/North Africa '' Living at the Extreme of Heat
Showtime December 4 2018 6AM ET
The climate crisis has pushed places like Saudi Arabia to the brink of uninhabitability, putting millions at risk and necessitating urgent action to retain ways of life in the region. Featuring live interviews with activist and educator Neeshad Shafi and Zulfiqar Bhutta of the International Pediatric Association.
Sub-Saharan Africa '' Bringing Energy to Life
Showtime December 4 2018 7AM ET
With huge portions of the population lacking access to electricity or improved drinking water, many African nations now are seeing health issues greatly exacerbated by climate change. We'll take a closer look at how solar companies are bringing electricity to people living off the grid, and with it, hope for cutting emissions and saving lives.
South Africa '' Environments at a Tipping Point
Showtime December 4 2018 8AM ET
With its coastal cities threatened by rising sea levels and food insecurity and prices both expected to rise with climate temperatures, South Africa finds itself under keen health threat due to the climate crisis. Featuring a live slideshow presentation by Vice President Al Gore, and conversations with Dr. Sophia Kisting-Cairncross, head of the National Institute for Occupational Health, and Desmond D'Sa, recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots activism.
Showtime December 4 2018 9AM ET
With summer heat waves putting massive amounts of the population at risk, Spain has recently pushed hard toward embracing renewables. Featuring a live Q and A with Dr. Maria Neira of the World Health Organization.
Scandinavia and Nordic Countries - Showcase for Solutions
Showtime December 4 2018 10AM ET
With a focus on Sweden, Denmark, Finland and more, we'll take a look at some of the world's leading adopters of renewable energy. Featuring a performance by pop artist Robyn, a conversation between Al Gore and President Sauli Niinist¶ of Finland, an exploration of an island community showing the world the potential of clean energy, and a conversation with Dr. Johan Rockstr¸m, co-director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Germany '' Pushing for Progress
Showtime December 4 2018 11AM ET
While Germany has long championed clean energy, its commitments haven't made it immune to the health effects of the climate crisis. Featuring a live presentation by Vice President Al Gore, along with a conversation with Eckart W¼rzner, mayor of Heidelberg, who has spearheaded the city's ambitious emissions targets.
France '' The Road From Paris
Showtime December 4 2018 12PM ET
As host to the groundbreaking COP21 meeting in 2015, France is now seeing the health impacts of the climate crisis in everything from heat related deaths to dengue fever on the rise. Featuring a live interview with Helena Molin Valdes of the United Nations Environment Program and a live presentation by Vice President Al Gore.
Poland '' The World is Watching
Showtime December 4 2018 1PM ET
As world leaders reconvene this December in Katowice, Poland, for the United Nations' annual session on the climate crisis, the goal is stronger action. Featuring live interviews from notables and in-depth Q and A on the COP 24 session, a live performance by Marcin Patrzalek, a live slideshow by Vice President Al Gore, and a look at the consequences of particulate air pollution and rising sea levels threatening the country.
United Kingdom '' Under Pressure
Showtime December 4 2018 2PM ET
From floods to infectious disease, the UK is experiencing the health consequences of a warming world, as well as dangerously high levels of air pollution despite reduced reliance on fossil fuels. This hour features a live performance by musical artist Arlissa, a live slideshow by Vice President Al Gore, and a conversation with Dr. Nick Watts, head of the Lancet Countdown, which tracks the relationship of and progress on health and climate change.
Brazil '' On the Front Lines
Showtime December 4 2018 3PM ET
Despite plans to rapidly expand renewable energy capabilities, the recent presidential election calls into question Brazil's environmental trajectory. This hour features a deep dive into the Amazon and its critical role in the fight for sustainability, as well as a live presentation by Al Gore and conversations with Dr. Paulo Saldiva, Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies of the University of Sao Paolo, and Dr. Carlos Rittl, Executive Secretary of the Observatorio do Clima.
South America '' Rising Temperatures and Impacts
Showtime December 4 2018 4PM ET
Extreme temperatures have reached across the region, bringing flooding and drought and threatening numerous livelihoods. In this hour we'll examine the climate-health connection in Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia.
Central America and Caribbean '' In the Path
Showtime December 4 2018 5PM ET
With tropical storms increasing in intensity and infectious diseases on the rise, the region sits squarely in the crosshairs of the climate-health connection. This hour features a conversation between Al Gore and President of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado Quesada, and a closer look at how Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba are dealing with the impacts, and reaffirming commitments to lead on renewable energy.
Mexico '' Dedicated to Progress
Showtime December 4 2018 6PM ET
As an early adopter of carbon tax to reduce emissions and recently electing pro-environment local leaders, Mexico continues its march toward sustainability. Featuring a performance by musical guests Jesse & Joy, a conversation with Mario Molina of the Center for Strategic Studies on Energy and Environment, a live presentation by Vice President Al Gore, and an in-depth look at how Mexico City is creating healthy green spaces to promote better air quality for its residents, as well as a live conversation with the mayor elect Dr. Claudia Sheinbaum.
United States '' Momentum at Home
Showtime December 4 2018 7PM ET
Municipalities and states are forging ahead on clean energy commitments. Featuring conversations with environmental justice champions Robert Bullard and Catherine Flowers and a live slideshow by Vice President Al Gore.
United States '' The Solutions at Hand
Showtime December 4 2018 8PM ET
As we review and wrap up the show, a look at the urgency of the challenge and the incredible global swing toward a sustainable future. Featuring a live talk by Vice President Al Gore on what is at stake '' and what we all stand to gain.
24 Hours of Reality Featured Guests
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Harrison Ford
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France to close 14 nuclear reactors by 2035: Macron
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:57
Home Technology Energy & Green Tech November 27, 2018 November 27, 2018 France's President Emmanuel MacronPresident Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that France would shut down 14 of the country's 58 nuclear reactors currently in operation by 2035, of which between four and six will be closed by 2030.
The total includes the previously announced shutdown of France's two oldest reactors in Fessenheim, eastern France, which Macron said was now set for summer 2020.
He also announced that France would close its remaining four coal-fired power plants by 2022 as part of the country's anti-pollution efforts.
In a speech laying out the country's energy policies for the coming years, Macron said that "reducing the role of nuclear energy does not mean renouncing it".
France relies on nuclear power for nearly 72 percent of its electricity needs, though the government wants to reduce this to 50 percent by 2030 or 2035 by developing more renewable energy sources.
Macron said France would aim to triple its wind power electricity output by 2030, and increase solar energy output fivefold in that period.
He added that he would ask French electricity giant EDF to study the feasibility of more next-generation EPR nuclear reactors, but will wait until 2021 before deciding whether to proceed with construction.
EDF has been building the first EPR reactor at Flamanville along the Atlantic coast of northwest France'--originally set to go online in 2012'--but the project has been plagued by technical problems and budget overruns.
Explore further: France could close a third of nuclear reactors: minister
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Nuclear energy may see role wane, UN agency says September 10, 2018The UN's nuclear agency on Monday said global capacity for electricity generation through nuclear power may be shrinking over the coming decades.
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Social credit system must bankrupt discredited people: former official - Global Times
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:12
By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/20 23:08:40
A senior official argued that without due punishment, defaulters would only feel encouraged after it was reported China's social credit system had blocked more than 11.14 million flights and 4.25 million high-speed train trips by the end of April.
An improved social credit system was needed so that "discredited people become bankrupt," Hou Yunchun, former deputy director of the development research center of the State Council, was quoted as saying by Sina Finance at an annual credit development forum in Beijing on Saturday.
"If we don't increase the cost of being discredited, we are encouraging discredited people to keep at it," Hou reportedly said.
"That destroys the whole standard."
The names of 33,000 companies which violated laws and regulations have also been published, said Meng Wei, spokeswoman for the National Development and Reform Commission, news website chinanews.com reported on Wednesday.
Hou's phrase that the "discredited people become bankrupt" makes the point, but is an oversimplification, Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times.
"How the person is restricted in terms of public services or business opportunities should be in accordance with how and to what extent he or she lost his credibility."
The punishment should match the deed, Zhi said.
China has regulations but a national law is needed to gauge that correct punishment.
"Discredited people deserve legal consequences," Zhi said. "This is definitely a step in the right direction to building a society with credibility."
Newspaper headline: Social credit system must bankrupt discredited people
China blacklists millions of people from booking flights as 'social credit' system introduced | The Independent
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:12
Millions of Chinese nationals have been blocked from booking flights or trains as Beijing seeks to implement its controversial ''social credit'' system, which allows the government to closely monitor and judge each of its 1.3 billion citizens based on their behaviour and activity.
The system, to be rolled out by 2020, aims to make it '' difficult to move'' for those deemed ''untrustworthy'', according to a detailed plan published by the government this week.
It will be used to reward or punish people and organisations for ''trustworthiness'' across a range of measures.
A key part of the plan not only involves blacklisting people with low social credibility scores, but also ''publicly disclosing the records of enterprises and individuals' untrustworthiness on a regular basis''.
The plan stated: ''We will improve the credit blacklist system, publicly disclose the records of enterprises and individuals' untrustworthiness on a regular basis, and form a pattern of distrust and punishment.''
For those deemed untrustworthy, ''everywhere is limited, and it is difficult to move, so that those who violate the law and lose the trust will pay a heavy price''.
The credit system is already being rolled out in some areas and in recent months the Chinese state has blocked millions of people from booking flights and high-speed trains.
According to the state-run news outlet Global Times, as of May this year, the government had blocked 11.14 million people from flights and 4.25 million from taking high-speed train trips.
The state has also begun to clamp down on luxury options: 3 million people are barred from getting business class train tickets, according to Channel News Asia.
The aim, according to Hou Yunchun, former deputy director of the development research centre of the State Council, is to make ''discredited people become bankrupt'', he said earlier this year.
The eastern state of Hangzou, southwest of Shanghai, is one area where a social credit system is already in place.
People are awarded credit points for activities such as undertaking volunteer work and giving blood donations while those who violate traffic laws and charge ''under-the-table'' fees are punished.
Other infractions reportedly include smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online.
Punishments are not clearly detailed in the government plan, but beyond making travel difficult, are also believed to include slowing internet speeds, reducing access to good schools for individuals or their children, banning people from certain jobs, preventing booking at certain hotels and losing the right to own pets.
leftCreated with Sketch. rightCreated with Sketch.
1/50 28 November 2018Indian paramilitary soldiers rush to help their colleague wounded during a clash with protesters near the site of a gunfight in Badgam district, Indian controlled Kashmir. Police say they have killed an alleged Pakistani militant accused in the death of a prominent journalist
AP
2/50 27 November 2018A demonstrator wearing a mask of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg poses outside Portcullis house to question the refusal of Zuckerberg to give evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee investigation into disinformation and fake news at the Houses of Parliament in London. Facebook boss Richard Allan is expected to be among a number of officials giving evidence to an "international grand committee" on disinformation and fake news
AFP/Getty
3/50 26 November 2018Ukrainian activists burn flares during their rally in front of the Russian Consulate in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council, on 25 November, announced the decision to introduce martial law in Ukraine for a period of 60 days. Russia seized three Ukrainian vessels amid their leaving the Kerch Strait. The two small-sized 'Berdiansk' and 'Nikopol' armored artillery boats had come under enemy fire and are now dead in the water. The 'Yany Kapu' tugboat was forcibly stopped and captured by special forces of the Russian Federation
EPA
4/50 25 November 2018 Women's rights activists gather to march through Taksim Square to protest against gender violence in Istanbul on the International Day for the elimination of violence against women
AFP/Getty
5/50 24 November 2018River Plate's fans clash with riot police after the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final match against rivals Boc Juniors was postponed
Reuters
6/50 23 November 2018Elias Lopez, a three-year-old Honduran migrant, plays in between the shields of a line of Mexican riot police, when the group he was part of tried to cross the Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico. Elias Lopez is part of a group of Central American migrants that marched peacefully to the border crossing to demand better conditions and push to enter the US
AP
7/50 22 November 2018Lebanese army soldiers march during a parade to mark the 75th anniversary of Lebanon's Independence Day, in Beirut, commemorating the liberation from the French Mandate on 22 November 1943
EPA
8/50 21 November 2018Indian Muslim devotees wave flags as they parade atop vehicles along a street during Eid-Milad-Un-Nabi celebrations in Varanasi in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
AFP/Getty
9/50 20 November 2018At least 50 people were killed and dozens more injured when a suicide bomber targeted a group of Muslim religious scholars in Kabul, officials in Afghanistan say.Hundreds of clerics had gathered to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed at a large wedding hall in the capital before the blast happened, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.Wahi Majroh, of Afghanistan's public health ministry, said a further 83 people had been wounded by the bomber.''The victims of the attack unfortunately are all religious scholars who gathered to commemorate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad,'' said Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief
Reuters
10/50 19 November 2018A view of the Fuego volcano eruption at sunrise, seen from El Rodeo, Escuintla, Guatemala. More than 2,000 people were evacuated from several villages due to the strong eruption, located 50 kilometers west of the Guatemalan capital
EPA
11/50 18 November 2018French President Emmanuel Macron is applauded after speaking before the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) as the German parliament commemorates victims of wars and dictatorships in Berlin. The leaders of France and Germany jointly remember the victims of European wars, presenting also a united front in countering global turmoil stoked by US President Donald Trump
AFP/Getty
12/50 17 November 2018People wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' nationwide protest against higher fuel prices, block the Paris-Brussels motorway in Haulchin, France
Reuters
13/50 16 November 2018People hold banners of Jamal Khashoggi during a symbolic funeral prayer for the Saudi journalist, killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October, at the courtyard of Fatih mosque in Istanbul. Turkey has more evidence contradicting the Saudi version of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi including a second audio recording, revealing that the murder had been premeditated, a Turkish newspaper reported on November 16, a contradiction to the statement of the Saudi prosecutor who said that five Saudi officials faced the death penalty on charges of killing Khashoggi but exonerated the country's powerful Crown Prince of involvement in the murder
AFP/Getty
14/50 15 November 2018Alexei Navalny leaves the European Court of Human Rights today. The court has ruled that Russia's repeated arrests of Navalny were politically motivated
AP
15/50 14 November 2018A crew member escorts a migrant child out of a plane transporting a group of 51 migrants from Niger, entitled to international protection, after its landing at the Mario De Bernardi military airport in Pratica di Mare, south of Rome
AFP/Getty
16/50 13 November 2018Palestinians gather in front of damaged buildings in Gaza City following Israeli air strikes targeting the area overnight. Israel's aircraft struck Gaza on November 12, killing three Palestinians and wounding nine after a barrage of rocket fire into its territory from the enclave. The flare-up came after a deadly Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip, at the weekend, that left Hamas vowing revenge
AFP/Getty
17/50 12 November 2018Floral tributes outside Melbourne's Pellegrini's Cafe for Sisto Malaspina, after he was stabbed to death last Friday in an attack police have called an act of terrorism, in Australia
Reuters
18/50 11 November 2018Heads of states and world leaders attend ceremonies at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Over 60 heads of state and government were taking part in a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the mute and powerful symbol of sacrifice to the millions who died from 1914-18
AP
19/50 10 November 2018Firefighters push down a wall while battling against a burning apartment complex in Paradise, north of Sacramento, California. A rapidly spreading, late-season wildfire in northern California has burned 20,000 acres of land and prompted authorities to issue evacuation orders for thousands of people. As many as 1000 homes, a hospital, a Safeway store and scores of other structures have burned in the area as the Camp fire tore through the region
AFP/Getty
20/50 9 November 2018A Fly Jamaica plane en route to Toronto crash lands at an airport in Guyana following a technical problem. At least six passengers were injured
Cheddi Jagan International Airport
21/50 8 November 2018An FBI agent talks to a potential witness as they stand near the scene Thursday in Thousand Oaks, California. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar.
AP
22/50 7 November 2018Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar is celebrates with her husband's mother after she won a congress place during the US midterm elections. In doing do she became the first-joint Muslim woman to be elected into congress alongside Rashida Tlaib
Reuters
23/50 6 November 2018Voters cast their ballots at the Tuttle Park Recreation Center polling location in Columbus, Ohio. Across the US, voters headed to the polls in one of the most high-profile midterm elections in years
AP
24/50 5 November 2018Members of the group Your Vote Matters encourage people to vote before an event hosted by US Senator Claire McCaskill as she campaigns for the US Senate in Saint Louis, Missour. McCaskill, a Democrat, faces a challenge from Republican Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley in the November general election
EPA
25/50 4 November 2018Police officers and rescuers work at the site of where a truck ploughed into cars at a toll booth in Lanzhou in China's northwestern Gansu province. The out-of-control truck crashed into a 31-car lineup and killed 15 people, with 44 injured
AFP/Getty
26/50 3 November 2018Simone Biles on the podium with her gold medal from the floor exercise at the gymnastics world championships. She became the most decorated female gymnast in world's history, as well as, becoming the first American to win a medal in every event at the competition
AFP/Getty
27/50 2 November 2018A Salvadorean migrant with a girl walks next to Guatemalan policemen as they approach the Guatemala-Mexico international border bridge in Ciudad Tecun Uman. Accoring to the Salvadorean General Migration Directorate, over 1,700 Salvadoreans left the country in two caravans and entered Guatemala Wednesday, in an attempt to reach the US
AFP/Getty
28/50 1 November 2018Google employees hold signs outside 14th street park after walking out as part of a global protest over claims of sexual harassment, gender inequality and systemic racism at the tech giant
Reuters
29/50 31 October 2018The "Statue of Unity" portraying Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the founding fathers of India, during its inauguration in Kevadia, in the western state of Gujarat, India
Reuters
30/50 30 October 2018A scavenger collects recyclable materials along the breakwater amid strong waves as weather patterns from Typhoon Yutu affect Manila Bay. Fierce winds sheared off roofs and snapped trees in half, after thousands were evacuated ahead of the powerful storm's arrival
AFP/Getty
31/50 29 October 2018Rescue team members collecting the remains of the crashed plane at Tanjung Priok Harbour, Indonesia. A Lion Air flight JT-610 lost contact with air traffic controllers soon after takeoff then crashed into the sea. The flight was en route to Pangkal Pinang, and reportedly had 189 people onboard
EPA
32/50 28 October 2018A supporter of Workers' Party presidential candidate Fernando Haddad embraces a fellow weeping supporter, after learning that rival Jair Bolsonaro was declared the winner in the Brazil presidential runoff election. Addressing supporters in Sao Paulo, Haddad did not concede or even mention Bolsonaro by name. Instead, his speech was a promise to resist
AP
33/50 27 October 2018First responders surround the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a shooter opened fire, wounding three police officers and killing eleven
AP
34/50 26 October 2018Broward County Sheriff's office have released a photo of Cesar Sayoc, the suspect who was arrested in connection with the pipe bombs that have been sent to several high profile Democrats and critics of President Trump over the course of this week
AP
35/50 25 October 2018East Island in Hawaii has been swallowed by the sea following Hurricane Walaka
US Fish and Wildlife Service
36/50 24 October 2018Police officers stand outside the home of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after a "functional explosive device" was attemptedly delivered to the couple
AP
37/50 23 October 2018Turkey's President Erdogan today accused Saudi Arabia of plotting the 'savage' murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
AP
38/50 22 October 2018Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison (C) delivers a national apology to child sex abuse victims in the House of Representatives in Parliament House in Canberra on October 22, 2018. - Morrison on October 22 issued an emotive apology to children who suffered sexual abuse, saying the state had failed to protect them from "evil dark" crimes committed over decades
AFP/Getty
39/50 21 October 2018A derailed train in Yian, eastern Taiwan. At least 17 people died after the derailment
CNA/AFP/Getty
40/50 20 October 2018US President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One after a "Make America Great" rally in Mesa, Arizona on October 19, 2018. - US President Donald Trump said Friday, October 19, 2018, that he found credible Saudi Arabia's assertion that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died as a result of a fight
AFP/Getty
41/50 19 October 2018A Palestinian youth runs past a rolling burning tire during clashes with Israeli forces following a demonstration after the weekly Friday prayers, in the centre of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron
AFP/Getty
42/50 18 October 2018Honduran migrants heading in a caravan to the United States, leave Guatemala City. US President Donald Trump threatened to send the military to close its southern border if Mexico fails to stem the "onslaught" of migrants from Central America, in a series of tweets that blamed Democrats ahead of the midterm elections
AFP/Getty
43/50 17 October 2018Smoke billows following an Israeli air strike around the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Israel launched raids against targets in the Gaza strip in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian territory that caused damage in a southern city, the Israeli army said
AFP/Getty
44/50 16 October 2018Ecuador has issued a list of rules to Julian Assange, the famous resident of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The list included cleaning the bathroom, not commenting on foreign political affairs online and taking better care of his cat (pictured). The document states that failure to comply with these rules ''could lead to the termination of the diplomatic asylum granted by the Ecuadorian state''
Reuters
45/50 15 October 2018 Israeli soldiers hurl tear gas grenades during clashes following Israeli order to shut down the al-Lubban/al-Sawiyeh school near the west bank city of Nablus, 15 October 2018. According to local sources, 20 Palestinians were wounded during clashes as dozens try to defiance the Israeli order to shut down the school
EPA
46/50 14 October 2018 Serbia's Novak Djokovic kisses the trophy after winning his men's final singles match against Croatia's Borna Coric at the Shanghai Masters. Djokovic, who has now won four titles this season, will move up one ranking spot to No. 2, pushing Roger Federer back to No. 3
AFP/Getty
47/50 13 October 2018 Demonstrators raising red painted hands and a placard reading "we must change the system not the climate" referring to the need to stop climate change during a march in Bordeaux, southwestern France
AFP/Getty
48/50 12 October 2018 Spanish Unionist demonstrators carry Spanish flags during a demonstration on Spain's National Day in Barcelona
Reuters
49/50 11 October 2018 Russia has halted all crewed space flights following the failed launch of the Soyuz MS-10 rocket (pictured). Investigations in to the rocket's malfunction are ongoing
Reuters
50/50 People look on at a damaged store after Hurricane Michael passed through Panama City, Florida. A Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, was the most powerful storm ever to hit the Florida Panhandle
Getty
1/50 28 November 2018Indian paramilitary soldiers rush to help their colleague wounded during a clash with protesters near the site of a gunfight in Badgam district, Indian controlled Kashmir. Police say they have killed an alleged Pakistani militant accused in the death of a prominent journalist
AP
2/50 27 November 2018A demonstrator wearing a mask of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg poses outside Portcullis house to question the refusal of Zuckerberg to give evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee investigation into disinformation and fake news at the Houses of Parliament in London. Facebook boss Richard Allan is expected to be among a number of officials giving evidence to an "international grand committee" on disinformation and fake news
AFP/Getty
3/50 26 November 2018Ukrainian activists burn flares during their rally in front of the Russian Consulate in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council, on 25 November, announced the decision to introduce martial law in Ukraine for a period of 60 days. Russia seized three Ukrainian vessels amid their leaving the Kerch Strait. The two small-sized 'Berdiansk' and 'Nikopol' armored artillery boats had come under enemy fire and are now dead in the water. The 'Yany Kapu' tugboat was forcibly stopped and captured by special forces of the Russian Federation
EPA
4/50 25 November 2018 Women's rights activists gather to march through Taksim Square to protest against gender violence in Istanbul on the International Day for the elimination of violence against women
AFP/Getty
5/50 24 November 2018River Plate's fans clash with riot police after the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final match against rivals Boc Juniors was postponed
Reuters
6/50 23 November 2018Elias Lopez, a three-year-old Honduran migrant, plays in between the shields of a line of Mexican riot police, when the group he was part of tried to cross the Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico. Elias Lopez is part of a group of Central American migrants that marched peacefully to the border crossing to demand better conditions and push to enter the US
AP
7/50 22 November 2018Lebanese army soldiers march during a parade to mark the 75th anniversary of Lebanon's Independence Day, in Beirut, commemorating the liberation from the French Mandate on 22 November 1943
EPA
8/50 21 November 2018Indian Muslim devotees wave flags as they parade atop vehicles along a street during Eid-Milad-Un-Nabi celebrations in Varanasi in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
AFP/Getty
9/50 20 November 2018At least 50 people were killed and dozens more injured when a suicide bomber targeted a group of Muslim religious scholars in Kabul, officials in Afghanistan say.Hundreds of clerics had gathered to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed at a large wedding hall in the capital before the blast happened, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.Wahi Majroh, of Afghanistan's public health ministry, said a further 83 people had been wounded by the bomber.''The victims of the attack unfortunately are all religious scholars who gathered to commemorate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad,'' said Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief
Reuters
10/50 19 November 2018A view of the Fuego volcano eruption at sunrise, seen from El Rodeo, Escuintla, Guatemala. More than 2,000 people were evacuated from several villages due to the strong eruption, located 50 kilometers west of the Guatemalan capital
EPA
11/50 18 November 2018French President Emmanuel Macron is applauded after speaking before the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) as the German parliament commemorates victims of wars and dictatorships in Berlin. The leaders of France and Germany jointly remember the victims of European wars, presenting also a united front in countering global turmoil stoked by US President Donald Trump
AFP/Getty
12/50 17 November 2018People wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' nationwide protest against higher fuel prices, block the Paris-Brussels motorway in Haulchin, France
Reuters
13/50 16 November 2018People hold banners of Jamal Khashoggi during a symbolic funeral prayer for the Saudi journalist, killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October, at the courtyard of Fatih mosque in Istanbul. Turkey has more evidence contradicting the Saudi version of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi including a second audio recording, revealing that the murder had been premeditated, a Turkish newspaper reported on November 16, a contradiction to the statement of the Saudi prosecutor who said that five Saudi officials faced the death penalty on charges of killing Khashoggi but exonerated the country's powerful Crown Prince of involvement in the murder
AFP/Getty
14/50 15 November 2018Alexei Navalny leaves the European Court of Human Rights today. The court has ruled that Russia's repeated arrests of Navalny were politically motivated
AP
15/50 14 November 2018A crew member escorts a migrant child out of a plane transporting a group of 51 migrants from Niger, entitled to international protection, after its landing at the Mario De Bernardi military airport in Pratica di Mare, south of Rome
AFP/Getty
16/50 13 November 2018Palestinians gather in front of damaged buildings in Gaza City following Israeli air strikes targeting the area overnight. Israel's aircraft struck Gaza on November 12, killing three Palestinians and wounding nine after a barrage of rocket fire into its territory from the enclave. The flare-up came after a deadly Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip, at the weekend, that left Hamas vowing revenge
AFP/Getty
17/50 12 November 2018Floral tributes outside Melbourne's Pellegrini's Cafe for Sisto Malaspina, after he was stabbed to death last Friday in an attack police have called an act of terrorism, in Australia
Reuters
18/50 11 November 2018Heads of states and world leaders attend ceremonies at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Over 60 heads of state and government were taking part in a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the mute and powerful symbol of sacrifice to the millions who died from 1914-18
AP
19/50 10 November 2018Firefighters push down a wall while battling against a burning apartment complex in Paradise, north of Sacramento, California. A rapidly spreading, late-season wildfire in northern California has burned 20,000 acres of land and prompted authorities to issue evacuation orders for thousands of people. As many as 1000 homes, a hospital, a Safeway store and scores of other structures have burned in the area as the Camp fire tore through the region
AFP/Getty
20/50 9 November 2018A Fly Jamaica plane en route to Toronto crash lands at an airport in Guyana following a technical problem. At least six passengers were injured
Cheddi Jagan International Airport
21/50 8 November 2018An FBI agent talks to a potential witness as they stand near the scene Thursday in Thousand Oaks, California. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar.
AP
22/50 7 November 2018Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar is celebrates with her husband's mother after she won a congress place during the US midterm elections. In doing do she became the first-joint Muslim woman to be elected into congress alongside Rashida Tlaib
Reuters
23/50 6 November 2018Voters cast their ballots at the Tuttle Park Recreation Center polling location in Columbus, Ohio. Across the US, voters headed to the polls in one of the most high-profile midterm elections in years
AP
24/50 5 November 2018Members of the group Your Vote Matters encourage people to vote before an event hosted by US Senator Claire McCaskill as she campaigns for the US Senate in Saint Louis, Missour. McCaskill, a Democrat, faces a challenge from Republican Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley in the November general election
EPA
25/50 4 November 2018Police officers and rescuers work at the site of where a truck ploughed into cars at a toll booth in Lanzhou in China's northwestern Gansu province. The out-of-control truck crashed into a 31-car lineup and killed 15 people, with 44 injured
AFP/Getty
26/50 3 November 2018Simone Biles on the podium with her gold medal from the floor exercise at the gymnastics world championships. She became the most decorated female gymnast in world's history, as well as, becoming the first American to win a medal in every event at the competition
AFP/Getty
27/50 2 November 2018A Salvadorean migrant with a girl walks next to Guatemalan policemen as they approach the Guatemala-Mexico international border bridge in Ciudad Tecun Uman. Accoring to the Salvadorean General Migration Directorate, over 1,700 Salvadoreans left the country in two caravans and entered Guatemala Wednesday, in an attempt to reach the US
AFP/Getty
28/50 1 November 2018Google employees hold signs outside 14th street park after walking out as part of a global protest over claims of sexual harassment, gender inequality and systemic racism at the tech giant
Reuters
29/50 31 October 2018The "Statue of Unity" portraying Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the founding fathers of India, during its inauguration in Kevadia, in the western state of Gujarat, India
Reuters
30/50 30 October 2018A scavenger collects recyclable materials along the breakwater amid strong waves as weather patterns from Typhoon Yutu affect Manila Bay. Fierce winds sheared off roofs and snapped trees in half, after thousands were evacuated ahead of the powerful storm's arrival
AFP/Getty
31/50 29 October 2018Rescue team members collecting the remains of the crashed plane at Tanjung Priok Harbour, Indonesia. A Lion Air flight JT-610 lost contact with air traffic controllers soon after takeoff then crashed into the sea. The flight was en route to Pangkal Pinang, and reportedly had 189 people onboard
EPA
32/50 28 October 2018A supporter of Workers' Party presidential candidate Fernando Haddad embraces a fellow weeping supporter, after learning that rival Jair Bolsonaro was declared the winner in the Brazil presidential runoff election. Addressing supporters in Sao Paulo, Haddad did not concede or even mention Bolsonaro by name. Instead, his speech was a promise to resist
AP
33/50 27 October 2018First responders surround the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a shooter opened fire, wounding three police officers and killing eleven
AP
34/50 26 October 2018Broward County Sheriff's office have released a photo of Cesar Sayoc, the suspect who was arrested in connection with the pipe bombs that have been sent to several high profile Democrats and critics of President Trump over the course of this week
AP
35/50 25 October 2018East Island in Hawaii has been swallowed by the sea following Hurricane Walaka
US Fish and Wildlife Service
36/50 24 October 2018Police officers stand outside the home of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after a "functional explosive device" was attemptedly delivered to the couple
AP
37/50 23 October 2018Turkey's President Erdogan today accused Saudi Arabia of plotting the 'savage' murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
AP
38/50 22 October 2018Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison (C) delivers a national apology to child sex abuse victims in the House of Representatives in Parliament House in Canberra on October 22, 2018. - Morrison on October 22 issued an emotive apology to children who suffered sexual abuse, saying the state had failed to protect them from "evil dark" crimes committed over decades
AFP/Getty
39/50 21 October 2018A derailed train in Yian, eastern Taiwan. At least 17 people died after the derailment
CNA/AFP/Getty
40/50 20 October 2018US President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One after a "Make America Great" rally in Mesa, Arizona on October 19, 2018. - US President Donald Trump said Friday, October 19, 2018, that he found credible Saudi Arabia's assertion that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died as a result of a fight
AFP/Getty
41/50 19 October 2018A Palestinian youth runs past a rolling burning tire during clashes with Israeli forces following a demonstration after the weekly Friday prayers, in the centre of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron
AFP/Getty
42/50 18 October 2018Honduran migrants heading in a caravan to the United States, leave Guatemala City. US President Donald Trump threatened to send the military to close its southern border if Mexico fails to stem the "onslaught" of migrants from Central America, in a series of tweets that blamed Democrats ahead of the midterm elections
AFP/Getty
43/50 17 October 2018Smoke billows following an Israeli air strike around the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Israel launched raids against targets in the Gaza strip in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian territory that caused damage in a southern city, the Israeli army said
AFP/Getty
44/50 16 October 2018Ecuador has issued a list of rules to Julian Assange, the famous resident of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The list included cleaning the bathroom, not commenting on foreign political affairs online and taking better care of his cat (pictured). The document states that failure to comply with these rules ''could lead to the termination of the diplomatic asylum granted by the Ecuadorian state''
Reuters
45/50 15 October 2018 Israeli soldiers hurl tear gas grenades during clashes following Israeli order to shut down the al-Lubban/al-Sawiyeh school near the west bank city of Nablus, 15 October 2018. According to local sources, 20 Palestinians were wounded during clashes as dozens try to defiance the Israeli order to shut down the school
EPA
46/50 14 October 2018 Serbia's Novak Djokovic kisses the trophy after winning his men's final singles match against Croatia's Borna Coric at the Shanghai Masters. Djokovic, who has now won four titles this season, will move up one ranking spot to No. 2, pushing Roger Federer back to No. 3
AFP/Getty
47/50 13 October 2018 Demonstrators raising red painted hands and a placard reading "we must change the system not the climate" referring to the need to stop climate change during a march in Bordeaux, southwestern France
AFP/Getty
48/50 12 October 2018 Spanish Unionist demonstrators carry Spanish flags during a demonstration on Spain's National Day in Barcelona
Reuters
49/50 11 October 2018 Russia has halted all crewed space flights following the failed launch of the Soyuz MS-10 rocket (pictured). Investigations in to the rocket's malfunction are ongoing
Reuters
50/50 People look on at a damaged store after Hurricane Michael passed through Panama City, Florida. A Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, was the most powerful storm ever to hit the Florida Panhandle
Getty
When plans for the social credit scheme were first announced in 2014, the government said the aim was to ''broadly shape a thick atmosphere in the entire society that keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful''.
As well as the introduction in Beijing, the government plans a rapid national rollout. ''We will implement a unified system of credit rating codes nationwide,'' the country's latest five-year plan stated.
The move comes as Beijing also faces international scrutiny over its treatment of a Muslim minority group, who have been told to turn themselves in to authorities if they observe practices such as abstention from alcohol.
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Hami city government in the far-western Xinjiang region said people ''poisoned by extremism, terrorism and separatism'' would be treated leniently if they surrendered within the next 30 days.
As many as a million Muslim Uighurs are believed to have been rounded up and placed in ''re-education'' centres, in what China claims is a clampdown on religious extremism.
Hate Trumps Love
The Hate For Melania's Christmas Decor Is Even Worse This Year. Here Are The Many Cruel Things Leftists Are Saying. | Daily Wire
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 11:47
You may love Melania Trump's taste in Christmas decorations; you may indeed dislike them, or perhaps even detest them. To each his own. But the venom leftists have spewed at the First Lady these past two years regarding her Christmas decor goes beyond mere differences in taste and into pure "Mean Girls" territory.
On Monday, Melania Trump welcomed the "most wonderful season of all" with yet another unveiling of her White House Christmas decor. Working with a team of designers since August, the theme selected for 2018 was "American Treasures" to highlight our country's "unique heritage." Here was the video in case you missed it:
While few have complained about Melania's chosen theme, the one piece that seems to have received the most cackles and howls from haters of her Christmas ensemble is that of the red trees, or better yet, the 40 topiary red trees made of cranberries and red berries strung together in the East Colonnade.
Some may appreciate Melania Trump's grasp for artistry here; others may not. To leftists, the trees speak of something sinister lurking in the First Lady's soul. Vice even declared that Melania's decor resembles a "circle of hell Dante could never have dreamed up."
"It's 2018: It's well-established that we live in hell. It only makes sense that the first lady's Christmas decorations would match the bleakness of the Trump era," said Vice.
Vanity Fair said Melania Trump's Christmas decor seem to always have "a touch of menace to them."
"It wouldn't be a Trump White House Christmas without, again, a menacing touch to what is otherwise a lavishly and beautifully wrought winter wonderland," said VF. "This year, crimson red trees dotted a long hallway, dyed with what I assume is liberal blood a-boiling."
Both Slate and The Cut made similar denunciations of varying cruelty. A Funny or Die video spoof also mocked Melania's accent and suggested the trees were dipped in blood.
Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor pointed out that the media would never be so vicious if the decorations had been planned by Michelle Obama, according to Fox News.
"The War on Christmas has evolved into more of the media's War on Trump," said Gainor. "According to the juvenile style mavens that dominate the lefty media, Melania's Christmas style is somehow 'spooky' or 'deeply haunted.' Compare that to how The Washington Post described Michelle Obama as a 'pro in dressing up the place' whose decorations delivered her own 'steady recognition of military service.'"
Media critic and DePauw University professor Jeffrey McCall agreed that the reporting on Melania's work was "boorish."
"Melania's decorating touches have not received the same courtesy in a number of media accounts, as if reporters had any sense of stylish interior design in the first place," McCall told Fox News. "This boorish reporting about the First Lady's holiday decorating is culturally divisive and unnecessary."
Trump, first lady light National Christmas Tree | TheHill
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:36
President Trump Donald John TrumpVeterans Affairs Dept says it won't reimburse vets who were underpaid GI Bill benefit payments: report Ex-Clinton spokesman slams Ivanka Trump over defense of private email use: 'Nothing short of outrageous' Sinclair defends segment justifying use of tear gas at border as 'commentary' MORE and first lady Melania Trump Melania TrumpTrump, first lady light National Christmas Tree Hillicon Valley: Trade talks set up cyber clash | Google CEO set to testify next week | DOJ charges Iranians with hacking | Mnuchin suggests Twitter account was breached | Facebook expands local news feature Melania Trump: When it comes to me, media focuses on 'unimportant stuff' MORE lit the National Christmas Tree on Wednesday, marking the holiday season with the annual tradition outside the White House.
The president briefly appeared on stage at the event, where he wished attendees a merry Christmas.
"Merry Christmas, everybody," the president told the crowd. "We just have to say it all together, merry, merry Christmas."
Trump began a countdown from 10, at the end of which the first lady hit a button to light the tree. The two exited the stage and returned to their seats in the front row.
The official lighting was sandwiched between an array of musical performances, mostly of classic holiday songs.
Others in attendance included Donald Trump Jr. Donald (Don) John TrumpSchiff says Trump's written responses to Mueller are not adequate Trump, first lady light National Christmas Tree Trump told Mueller he was unaware of Trump Tower meeting, didn't hear from Stone about WikiLeaks: report MORE and his girlfriend, former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, as well the president's daughters, Lara Trump and Tiffany Trump.
Members of the press pool '-- a group of reporters assigned to remain with the president and document his activities '-- indicated shortly after 6:30 p.m. that Trump had returned to the White House without any staffers notifying the media.
The protective press pool exists to be in close proximity to the president in the event of an emergency and to document his movements for history. Can do neither at the moment. https://t.co/eXXKc8BQox
'-- Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) November 28, 2018The entire point of the protective pool is to be with POTUS https://t.co/O9atxq7JdH
'-- Anita Kumar (@anitakumar01) November 28, 2018Olivier Knox, the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) president, later said he looked into the situation, and concluded the incident was the result of a "logistical glitch."
Trump shared a photo of the tree on Twitter.
"On behalf of @FLOTUS Melania and the entire Trump family, I want to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!" Trump wrote. "May this Christmas Season bring peace to your hearts, warmth to your homes, cheer to your spirits and JOY TO THE WORLD!"
On behalf of @FLOTUS Melania and the entire Trump family, I want to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS! May this Christmas Season bring peace to your hearts, warmth to your homes, cheer to your spirits and JOY TO THE WORLD! #NCTL2018 pic.twitter.com/XNMJQ5JDSU
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 28, 2018Melania Trump earlier this week unveiled the holiday decorations inside the White House for this year's season with a theme of "American Treasures."
Updated at 9:45 p.m.
EuroLand
Experts: klok kan best nog een uur terug | Binnenland | Telegraaf.nl
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 23:36
Dat adviseert een groep deskundigen aan de regering in de discussie over de zomer- en wintertijd. Het gaat om experts in bioritme. Bij hen geniet de GMT de voorkeur.
Dat is echter niet een van de drie mogelijkheden die de Europese Commissie oppert, en waarover de lidstaten van de Europese Unie een standpunt moeten innemen. Brussel heeft het over de permanente 'wintertijd' (CET), een permanente zomertijd ((C)(C)n uur later) of handhaving van twee keer per jaar klok verzetten tussen zomer- en wintertijd. Van deze drie opties is permanente 'wintertijd' de beste, vinden de bioritme-experts.
Minister Kajsa Ollongren, die over het dossier gaat, is bezig allerlei standpunten te verzamelen. In de loop van december hoopt ze de resultaten te krijgen van een peiling onder ongeveer 2000 Nederlanders.
Dagelijks tijdens de lunch het laatste nieuws in je inbox?Ongeldig e-mailadres. Vul nogmaals in aub.
Uitschrijven kan met 1 klik
Nederlandse 'gele hesjes' verzamelen zich op Facebook | NOS
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:51
Er zijn pogingen om de Franse protestbeweging 'gele hesjes' ook in Nederland van de grond te krijgen. In de besloten Facebookgroep Gele Hesjes NL, die zondag is opgericht, hebben zich inmiddels enkele duizenden mensen aangemeld. Daar delen ze hun onvrede over tal van onderwerpen en roepen ze op tot protest, zoals dat in Frankrijk en Belgi al te zien is geweest.
In Frankrijk richtten de 'gele hesjes' zich in eerste instantie tegen de verhoogde brandstofprijzen. Daarna groeide hun eisenpakket. Ook de Nederlandse 'gele hesjes' hebben een lange lijst van actiepunten. Zo gaat het in de Facebookgroep onder meer over verlaging van de accijnzen, een ander zorgstelsel en migratiebeleid, verlaging van de pensioenleeftijd en een basisinkomen voor iedereen.
'Statement tegen regering'De groep wordt beheerd door iemand die zich Jody Proef noemt. Hij wil zelf geen interview geven, maar schuift moderator Ingeborg Westerhoff naar voren als woordvoerder. "Wat we willen, kan voor iedereen verschillend zijn", zegt zij. "Iedereen moppert en klaagt, en denkt daarin alleen te staan. We willen laten zien dat je niet alleen bent. En het is ook een statement tegen de regering."
Westerhoff zegt door te gaan "tot niemand meer om ons heen kan". Zaterdag, als de groep in Den Haag wil demonstreren, trekt ze zelf een geel hesje aan omdat ze zich niet gehoord voelt. "Persoonlijk geloof ik niet dat we nog een democratie hebben. Een meerderheid wil niet in de EU, wil de euro niet, stemde tegen het associatieverdrag met Oekra¯ne, en er wordt helemaal niets mee gedaan. Wat mij betreft stapt Rutte direct op en vertrekt Nederland direct uit de Europese Unie."
OccupyJacquelien van Stekelenburg, hoogleraar Sociale Verandering en Conflict aan de VU, ziet bij de 'gele hesjes' veel overeenkomsten met de Occupybeweging, die in 2011 wereldwijd tentenkampen opzette. "Net als toen is er een breed repertoire van klachten, zitten er geen grote organisaties achter de protesten en verspreiden de protesten zich snel. Het verschil is dat Occupy zich richtte tegen het grote geld, en de 'gele hesjes' tegen het regeringsbeleid."
Of de groep in Nederland daadwerkelijk voet aan de grond krijgt, vindt ze moeilijk te voorspellen. "De meeste Nederlanders staan niet zo positief tegen actievoeren. Vooral mensen die rechts georinteerd zijn, zijn moeilijk in beweging te krijgen."
VreedzaamDe Nederlandse 'gele hesjes' laten zich inspireren door de protesten in Frankrijk. Daar zijn inmiddels twee doden en honderden gewonden gevallen. "Het is de bedoeling dat we hier vreedzaam blijven", zegt Westerhof.
De gemeente Den Haag zegt nog geen melding voor de bijeenkomst te hebben gekregen. Op het Plein voor het Binnenhof, waar het protest gepland is, mogen zich van de gemeente maximaal honderd mensen verzamelen. Worden het er meer, dan zal de politie ze naar het Malieveld begeleiden.
'End of the world' vs. 'end of the month': Macron walks tightrope amid fuel tax protests
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:55
'End of the world' vs. 'end of the month': Macron walks tightrope amid fuel tax protests
Emmanuel Macron's highly anticipated speech on transitioning his country's energy mix was always going to be a delicate balancing act. But in striking a conciliatory tone, the French president hardly appears to have enchanted anyone.
The French leader is walking a tightrope between keeping his showy pledge to ''Make Our Planet Great Again'', making good on his country's Paris Climate Agreement leadership, and calming the self-styled ''yellow vests'', an amorphous movement that argues that Macron's eco-minded fuel-tax hikes punish working-class consumers outside urban centres first and foremost.
On Tuesday in an hour-long speech short on detail but long on expressions of compassion, Macron returned again and again to the grievances expressed on roundabouts across the country, telling the ''yellow vest'' protesters (or the peaceful ones, at least): ''I have heard your anger.'' The French president declined to back down on the disputed fuel-tax hikes, but vowed to adapt a tax that, he conceded, is ''a bit blind'' to market price fluctuations in order to limit the impact on heavy drivers with little choice.
The yellow vest movement is into its 11th day of sometimes fiery protests. Two people have died in accidents during that span, with hundreds more injured. Violent and destructive clashes between police and demonstrators clad in high-visibility vests disfigured Paris's storied Champs ‰lys(C)es at the weekend. Police deployed clouds of teargas as barricades were set alight and luxury shopfronts smashed '' an inauspicious start to the lucrative Christmas shopping season on the famed avenue.
'End of the world' vs. 'End of the month'
''What I want to make French people understand '' notably those who say 'we hear the president, the government, they talk about the end of the world and we are talking about the end of the month' '' is that we are going to treat both, that we must treat both,'' Macron said during Tuesday's televised address from the ‰lys(C)e Palace.
The transition to more environmentally friendly resources has to happen, he said, not least for France's own sovereignty in the face of fossil fuel providers like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran. But, Macron said, ''This transition should not happen at any cost.''
The 40-year-old centrist acknowledged that solutions made available to attenuate home and vehicle energy costs and upgrades are ''not concrete enough, not tangible enough, not simple enough'', and as a result aren't used by the people most in need.
He pledged to put '‚¬7 to '‚¬8 billion towards supporting renewable energies every year, up from the current '‚¬5 billion budget.
Macron also invited ''representatives of the yellow vests'' to propose solutions themselves during local consultations on the transition to cleaner energy over the next three months.
Nuclear 'pragmatism'
Another closely watched element of this address '' meant to set out a working framework for French energy policy for years to come '' were decisions on the country's reliance on nuclear power and its ageing stable of nuclear reactors. France has 58 reactors, second only to the US worldwide. The sector represents 220,000 jobs in France.
Macron announced that France would reduce the share of nuclear in its power production from 75 percent to 50 percent by 2035 '' not 2025, the initial target that Macron stressed was unrealistic. He said 14 of the reactors would be closed by 2035, including four to six before 2030, in an apparent compromise between the targets favoured by the French environment and economy ministers respectively. Only two reactors are slated for previously announced shutdowns during Macron's current term of office. He left any decision on whether France would seek to build new, next-generation EPR reactors until at least 2021.
Macron called his nuclear plan ''a pragmatic approach'... that takes into account the security of supply'', saying France shouldn't shut down plants only to have to import power from other countries with production less clean than can be produced domestically.
And he touted nuclear's ostensible advantages. ''Nuclear allows us to benefit from energy that is pared of carbon emissions and is low cost,'' Macron said. The president forbade EDF, the French electrical utility, from shutting any nuclear sites outright, saying his responsibility was to reduce, not end, France's reliance on nuclear. Economic and social consequences for locals in the vicinity of the reactors poised to close should be limited, he said.
'Total submission'
Reaction to Macron's hotly awaited speech came fast and, largely, furious. Political rivals and environmental figures alike piled on. Leftists slammed Macron's lack of focus on salaries and buying power, while conservatives accused the president of playing for time with disingenuous consultation. Many, meanwhile, blasted his plan to keep France hooked on nuclear power.
''The closure of the nuclear plants postponed for a month of Sundays, lies about the supposed advantages of that dangerous energy, stubbornness over the industrial and financial catastrophe that is the EPR reactor. Macron proves his total submission to the nuclear lobby,'' far-left leader Jean-Luc M(C)lenchon charged after the speech.
On the far-right, Marine Le Pen for her part responded, ''To those asking how to balance their budgets three days from now, Macron replies see you in three months''. The National Rally leader said the ''absolute emptiness in terms of solutions [is] striking''.
Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure slammed Macron for ignoring a swathe of Yellow Vest grievances: ''It isn't just the issue of fuels, but the problem of purchasing power. And on that point, the president stayed mute, absolutely mute.''
''Macron continues with the policy of grand speech and tiny steps,'' Yannick Jadot, from the green Europe Ecologie '' Les Verts party, tweeted after the speech. ''He is closing us into bankrupt nuclear. One doesn't extinguish anger with beautiful words without acts of social justice. One doesn't prepare the future with energy from the old world.''
Greenpeace similarly slammed Macron's persistence on nuclear power. ''Macron told us he wanted to change the method, but it is the substance that needs changing. France persists in presenting nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, when actually it is neither clean, nor inexpensive, and does in no way guarantee our energy independence,'' Greenpeace France chief Jean-Fran§ois Julliard said in a statement. ''We wanted historic and structuring measures to fight climate change. The response is not equal to the emergency.''
What was notably scarce in the immediate critiques of Macron's address were the usual charges levied against him '' particularly by the demonstrators in yellow '' that Macron acts like a ''president of the rich'' alone and decrees policy from on high, king-like. The lambasted leader may take these omissions as a small victory.
It remains to be seen how the yellow vests themselves will react to Macron's purported empathy for their cause. After the president's speech, the ‰lys(C)e Palace announced that Macron invited his environment minister to meet with members of the yellow vest movement later Tuesday. Will the invitation to pitch solutions during a three-month consultation placate the protesters? Or is the yellow vest movement, the leadership of which is disputed and its sundry demands multifarious, bound to be unsatisfied with the drawn-out process?
''There are going to be consultations, with what? With whom? Yellow vests who are elected by who? I didn't vote for them, I don't know them,'' Amaury, a 46-year-old jobseeker building a protest base camp in the middle of a Breton roundabout, told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday. ''I didn't even listen to Macron. I don't want to hear him. I don't trust him anymore. He need only come here, out in the field.''faure-greenpeace
Hams Will Save The World
JS8Call - Google Docs
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 05:42
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FT8 '' A personal critique '† M0JCQ's Ham Blog
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 05:39
20m packed with FT8 signals
FT8 (or Franke-Taylor design, 8-FSK modulation) has taken the amateur bands by storm and for better or for worse, it's changed the profile of activity since it launched in 2017. It doesn't garner universal love from the amateur community, in fact it seems to polarise us; you either love it or you hate it. I fall somewhere in between these polarities and thought I'd write a bit about my experiences, what I like and what I don't. As always these are my personal views and subjective, your views will probably vary.
I'm not new to digital modes, having used PSK31, PSK63 and RTTY quite extensively since getting licensed back in 2013. I even experimented with JT65 and JT9, within the WSJT-X suite, but it left me cold and the long QSO times were frustrating. So when I first started hearing about FT8 I was especially interested in the short 15 second overs.
1. Work DX at Sunspot MinimaThe timing of FT8's arrival is good, in that suddenly we have a new weak signal mode, that's able to take advantage of marginal openings and all round bad conditions. FT8 will allow us to have QSOs on bands, which we would previously have thought as being closed.
I was recently able to catch S01WS (Western Sahara) using FT8 on 20m, which was a new one for me:
Working S01WS (Western Sahara) using FT8
2. It's FastThe QSO's can be thick and fast, in fact during my first FT8 QSO I blinked and I'd somehow had a QSO! Gone are the old days of 7 minutes plus to work a station on JT65, now each over is 15 seconds.
3. Have QSOs while doing other things in the shackThe level of automation WSJT-X allows means you don't have to be fully engaged with exactly what's happening while operating. This allows me to take my eyes off the rig/screen and do other things; like check my emails, tidy the shack or write this blog post. I can't do this with SSB!
4. Learn about PropagationThis mode certainly makes you question what you thought about propagation. Paths on a given band, which would have previously been unworkable with SSB and even CW, become possible again.
Many are experimenting with this and dedicating their operating to bands which should (in theory) be closed at this point in the solar cycle. I read about a UK based ham who has been going for DXCC on 10m only, he's just done it in over a year using FT8, which is quite a feat given where we are in the solar cycle. Isn't 10m supposed to be dead?
5. Allows modest stations to work DXYou no longer need 400w and a massive HF Yagi to work DX, FT8 has certainly brought DXing to the masses and not just the elite few with KW of power, massive masts and an impressive 5 element 80m Yagi on top!
Let's face it, trying to work DX using SSB with 100 watts and a wire is tough right now, little stations can't compete with the serious DXers. Add to that the low point in the solar cycle and you can really understand why so many amateurs are keen on this mode right now.
6. It's a new mode/tool we can useHams love new things, we like to experiment and play around with new toys. FT8 fills that role pretty nicely. WSJT-X has given us another new mode, which has sparked the imaginations of a lot of hams and as a result we're keen to try it out.
I imagine if you've been licensed for years and the hobby had gotten a bit stale then FT8 could really reignite it for you and get you having QSOs again.
Avid DXers are also happy, they can try and work all the DX again on this new mode and the average ham is happy because they can have QSO's at a time when sun really isn't up to much.
20m busy with FT8 activity on a Saturday
7. Work DX on 6mThe Sporadic E season has changed a lot since the release of FT8. It's been very popular on the 6m band, in fact the lack of SSB activity was really noticeable this year, all of which had been replaced by FT8.
But, what it has allowed people to do is work DX from further away than they would normally be able to, suddenly double/triple hop Sporadic E contacts become possible for not just the big guns.
The number of trans-Atlantic contacts seemed much higher this year and I'm sure this is in no small part down to FT8.
My experience of FT8 hasn't been all good though'...
1. Boring!I can't get away from it, I personally find FT8 operating quite boring. I've tried to love it, but I still prefer SSB and the traditional data modes like PSK31 and RTTY. The formatted exchanges and automation all take some of the more interesting bits out.
You still need some skill to operate FT8 effectively, but it doesn't require 100% concentration. This has allowed me to carry on operating while otherwise busy in the shack. WSJT-X just does its thing in the background while I check it occasionally.
2. ImpersonalFT8 lacks even the basics needed to have a human to human keyboard exchange, which even slightly impersonal modes like PSK31 allowed you to have. I think this is what makes it slightly boring for me personally. The strict timing and message structure take out any chance of chatting with this mode.
An alternative called FT8Call has been released, which allows keyboard to keyboard exchanges, apparently with the robustness of FT8. I've not used it, nor am I tempted, as PSK already allows for this.
3. Full AutomationSome stations have taken WSJT-X level of automation a step further. They've modified it to run completely without the need for you to be in the shack. Essentially allowing them to work DXCC while they sleep. I've seen one station around the HF bands, which I can only guess is doing this, or if not is sat there operating every time I happen to check any HF band. They are very high up on the ClubLog DXCC count this year and I'm not surprised!
I don't understand this, sure you may earn some awards, but would you get any gratification from this?
4. Makes our bands seem under-utilisedFT8 is efficient, requiring only 47 Hz bandwidth per QSO. So imagine we have band allocations which are under commercial pressure, and people move to FT8 instead of SSB. Quickly it would seem to an outside observer, that our allocations are either under utilised or even worse; unneeded.
I think pretty much everyone has noticed the massive traffic change FT8 has had on many bands. It's taken users away from SSB, CW and other data modes. Don't believe me, check out the stats from ClubLog here. Will this last? Maybe not, it's a new mode, people will lose interest and move back to traditional modes, especially when the sunspot cycle improves.
5. Bleak future of operatingIf everyone only operated FT8 how boring would it be? How far removed from skill would the hobby become?
Most contacts have become rubber stamp, 59 QRZ, type contacts, regardless of mode. FT8 buys into this and takes it a step further by only allowing you to have these basic exchanges.
Sure, you have to construct your station in the first place, but after that the operating skill is reduced.
My opinions on FT8 are mixed, it's proven to be an interesting mode and made DX possible again, but I'm not excited by it. It just feels a bit like watching paint dry.
Will I continue to operate using FT8? I probably will to be honest, but it will become just another mode for me, like any other data mode.
What do you think? What have your experiences been?
A New FT8 with Rag Chew Abilities ( FT8CALL )
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 05:37
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AWS Ground Station '' Ingest and Process Data from Orbiting Satellites | AWS News Blog
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:53
Did you know that there are currently thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth? I certainly did not, and would have guessed a few hundred at most. Today, high school and college students design, fabricate, and launch nano-, pico-, and even femto-satellites such as CubeSats, PocketQubes, and SunCubes. On the commercial side, organizations of any size can now launch satellites for Earth observation, communication, media distribution, and so forth.
All of these satellites collect a lot of data, and that's where things get even more interesting. While it is now relatively cheap to get a satellite into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) or Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and only slightly more expensive to achieve a more distant Geostationary Orbit, getting that data back to Earth is still more difficult than it should be. Large-scale satellite operators often build and run their own ground stations at a cost of up to one million dollars or more each; smaller operators enter into inflexible long-term contracts to make use of existing ground stations.
Some of the challenges that I reviewed above may remind you of those early, pre-cloud days when you had to build and run your own data center. That changed when we launched Amazon EC2 back in 2006.
Introducing AWS Ground Station Today I would like to tell you about AWS Ground Station . Amazon EC2 made compute power accessible on a cost-effective, pay-as-you-go basis. AWS Ground Station does the same for satellite ground stations. Instead of building your own ground station or entering in to a long-term contract, you can make use of AWS Ground Station on an as-needed, pay-as-you-go basis. You can get access to a ground station on short notice in order to handle a special event: severe weather, a natural disaster, or something more positive such as a sporting event. If you need access to a ground station on a regular basis to capture Earth observations or distribute content world-wide, you can reserve capacity ahead of time and pay even less. AWS Ground Station is a fully managed service. You don't need to build or maintain antennas, and can focus on your work or research.
We're starting out with a pair of ground stations today, and will have 12 in operation by mid-2019. Each ground station is associated with a particular AWS Region; the raw analog data from the satellite is processed by our modem digitizer into a data stream (in what is formally known as VITA 49 baseband or VITA 49 RF over IP data streams) and routed to an EC2 instance that is responsible for doing the signal processing to turn it into a byte stream.
Once the data is in digital form, you have a host of streaming, processing, analytics, and storage options. Here's a starter list:
Streaming '' Amazon Kinesis Data Streams to capture, process, and store data streams.
Processing '' Amazon Rekognition for image analysis; Amazon SageMaker to build, train, and deploy ML models.
Analytics / Reporting '' Amazon Redshift to store processed data in structured data warehouse form; Amazon Athena and Amazon QuickSight for queries.
Storage '' Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) to store data in object form, with Amazon Glacier for long-term archival storage.
Your entire workflow, from the ground stations all the way through to processing, storage, reporting, and delivery, can now be done on elastic, pay-as-you-go infrastructure!
AWS Ground Station in Action I did not have an actual satellite to test with, so the AWS Ground Station team created an imaginary one in my account! When you are ready to make use of AWS Ground Station , we'll need your satellite's NORAD ID, information about your FCC license, and your AWS account number so that we can associate it with your account.
I open the Ground Station Console and click Reserve contacts now to get started:
The first step is to reserve a contact (an upcoming time when my satellite will be in the optimal position to transmit to the ground station I choose). I choose a ground station from the menu:
I can filter based on status (Available, Scheduled, or Completed) and on a time range:
I can see the contacts, pick one that meets my requirements, select it, and click Reserve Contact:
I confirm my contact on the next page, and click Reserve:
Then I can filter the Contacts list to show all of my upcoming reservations:
After my contact has been reserved, I make sure that my EC2 instances will be running in the AWS Region associated with the ground station at least 15 minutes ahead of the start time. The instance responsible for the signal processing connects to an Elastic Network Interface (ENI), uses DataDefender to manage the data transfer, and routes the data to a software modem such as qRadio to convert it to digital form (we'll provide customers with a CloudFormation template that will create the ENI and do all of the other setup work).
Things to Know Here are a couple of things you should know about AWS Ground Station :
Access '' Due to the nature of this service, access is not self-serve. You will need to communicate with our team in order to register your satellite(s).
Ground Stations '' As I mentioned earlier, we are launching today with 2 ground stations, and will have a total of 12 in operation by 2019. We will monitor utilization and demand, and will build additional stations and antennas as needed.
Pricing '' Pricing is per-minute of downlink time, with an option to pre-pay for blocks of minutes.
'-- Jeff;
Poppiestan
Trump's envoy 'tests all channels' with Afghan Taliban in bid to launch peace talks
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 16:21
Breaking News EmailsGet breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
Nov. 28, 2018 / 9:24 AM GMT
By Dan De Luce, Mushtaq Yusufzai, Courtney Kube and Josh Lederman
WASHINGTON '-- President Donald Trump's envoy to Afghanistan is reaching out to many top Taliban figures as he tries to launch peace negotiations to end the war before Trump can simply pull the plug and order U.S. troops home, say foreign diplomats.
U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has moved at a rapid pace and ventured beyond the official Taliban office in Qatar to meet other members of the insurgency, two foreign diplomats and three former U.S. officials told NBC News.
His outreach included a meeting in the United Arab Emirates with a militant claiming to be an associate of Mullah Yaqub, son of late Taliban leader Mullah Omar and now one of two deputies to the current Taliban leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, two foreign diplomats said.
Khalilzad is "testing all channels," said one Western diplomat, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
Although it remained unclear if the Taliban member was indeed a representative sent by Yaqub, the meeting reflected how Khalilzad is moving with a sense of urgency and casting a wide net to try to persuade different elements of the insurgency to come to the table to talk peace, former officials said.
Keenly aware that President Trump has expressed impatience with the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan and that time is limited, Khalilzad, who was born in Afghanistan and served as U.S. ambassador to the country after the 9/11 attacks, has pressed ahead with his diplomacy at a swift tempo, former officials and foreign diplomats said.
U.S. officials are operating under the assumption that the president will pull the plug on the current American military mission in Afghanistan well before the U.S. presidential election in November 2020, current and former U.S. officials said.
"Both the Defense Department and State Department are acting as if withdrawal is on the table, sooner or later," said Thomas Jocselyn, a senior fellow at the Federation for Defense of Democracies think tank.
The Trump administration has also sought to force the Taliban to the negotiating table with a massive bombing campaign. This year the number of U.S. bombs dropped on Afghanistan has hit a record high, with more than 5,200 as of September 30.
The State Department declined to divulge details of who Khalilzad met during his travels or what was discussed, but said he will continue to meet "with all interested parties."
"We are not going to provide a read-out of every meeting as Special Representative Khalilzad determines how best to promote a negotiated settlement between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban," said a State Department spokesperson, Heidi Hattenbach.
She also said the U.S. envoy has stayed in close communication with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan political leaders. In his last trip, his first and last stops were in Kabul, "to ensure President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah were kept informed of all his upcoming meetings and the subsequent findings from those meetings."
The recent flurry of U.S. diplomacy '-- and Trump's clear ambivalence about keeping troops in the country '-- has created friction with Ghani and his allies. Afghan officials in Kabul fear Washington's direct talks with the Taliban could leave them sidelined and that a short timeline could backfire badly.
"Peace talks also must not be driven by superficial deadlines urged by a U.S. administration anxious to be done with the conflict," Nader Nadery, a former senior adviser to President Ghani, wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post Monday.
The recent meeting with a representative of the son of the Taliban's former leader, if confirmed, would be "a potentially positive development" given Yaqub's senior rank and his reputation for favoring a political settlement, said Johnny Walsh, a former lead adviser on Afghan peace efforts at the State Department.
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul on Nov. 18, 2018. U.S Embassy / Reuters"It's worth exploring more of those proposective channels than perhaps we collectively have in the past, because some of them will lead somewhere," Walsh said.
Yaqub's father, Mullah Omar, was the reclusive founder of the hardline Islamist Taliban that ruled the country from 1996-2001 and forged an alliance with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. His regime was ousted from power by U.S.-led forces in 2001 for having offered safe haven to Al-Qaeda militants who staged the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.
In three days of talks in Qatar earlier this month, Khalilzad met with eight Taliban representatives, including two militants formerly held in Guantanamo, Khairullah Khairkhwa, the former Taliban governor of Herat, and Mohammed Fazl, a former Taliban military chief, Taliban sources told NBC News. Their participation signaled the Taliban's serious interest in holding talks and Fazl in particular is seen as boosting the authority of the Taliban negotiating contingent in Qatar, analysts said.
In his recent visit to Kabul, Khalilzad told reporters that "I remain cautiously optimistic or hopeful given the complexities that exist."
The U.S. envoy also said that the "Taliban are saying that they do not believe that they can succeed militarily."
But an insurgency source rejected Khalilzad's comments, saying his account was overly positive and that the group had not given up on its military prospects.
"We only mentioned that we believe that fighting is not the solution to any problem," a senior Taliban leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told NBC News.
Khalilzad has asked President Ghani and the Taliban to form negotiating teams, stressing that the delegations need to be broadly representative to ensure a successful settlement, foreign diplomats and former officials said. By moving ahead with a series of direct discussions with the Taliban, Khalilzad is effectively putting pressure on Ghani to form a negotiating team without delay, said former U.S. officials familiar with the talks.
Afghan electoral authorities, meanwhile, have raised the possibility of postponing the presidential election scheduled for April next year due to ballot counting problems in last month's parliamentary polls.
In his Kabul meetings, Khalilzad has explored the idea of pushing back the election and its potential benefit to peace talks, an Afghan government official and a former U.S. official said.Under this scenario, an interim government could include a Taliban representative and this possibly could open the way for the Taliban to enter into full-fledged peace negotiations, as it has long maintained that the existing Afghan government and constitution are illegitimate.
Taliban leader Mullah Omar died in 2013. National Counterterrorism Center / ReutersKhalilzad told reporters in Kabul that it was up to Afghans to decide whether to postpone the elections but he added that it would be ideal to arrive at a peace agreement before the April vote.
Critics have warned that forming an effective interim government could prove impossible given the current Afghan government's deep divisions and frequent dysfunction.
The Afghan official said that Ghani's government is skeptical that the Taliban can deliver on any promises and that Pakistan and other countries that lend support to the insurgents hold the key to any peace deal.
"The Afghan government doesn't think that the Taliban is independent enough to stop the war even if they were to agree to do so in negotiations," the official said. "The only way fighting will stop is if the Pakistanis and other international supporters of the Taliban are involved in the negotiations."
Pakistan '-- the longtime patron of the Taliban '-- last month released Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the insurgency, to allow him to take part in any political talks. The move was seen as a welcome initial step by U.S. officials, but it remained unclear if Islamabad was prepared to throw its full weight behind the talks.
Still, former officials said the current peace effort showed more promise than a previous U.S. attempt under President Barack Obama, which was plagued by turf battles inside the administration and ambivalence among military commanders, who favored hammering the Taliban on the battlefield before entering into any serious talks.
"It was seen as a sort of side project that the State Department was running," said Jason Campbell, a former senior official at the Defense Department who worked on Afghanistan policy.
The whole project collapsed in 2013, with then Afghan President Hamid Karzai feeling betrayed by Washington's outreach to the Taliban.
The current talks with the Taliban have been accompanied by a spike in violence in Afghanistan, amid signs that the Taliban have gained strength on the battlefield in recent months. A suicide bombing last week in Kabul claimed more than 50 lives and three U.S. service members were killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb near Ghazni city.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, head of the Taliban's political council in Qatar, and an unidentified representative of the Afghan Taliban movement speak prior to the start of the Second Moscow round of Afghanistan peace settlement talks in Moscow on Nov. 9, 2018. Sergei Chirikov / EPAIn turn, the Pentagon has ramped up a bombing campaign against the Taliban, seeking to keep up military pressure on the insurgents.
As of the end of September, U.S. military aircraft released a record 5,213 weapons over Afghanistan so far this year, surpassing the total for 2017 which stood at 4,361, according to U.S. Central Command.
For their part, the Taliban also have adopted a "fight and talk" strategy, undertaking fresh attacks on towns and cities '-- including a five-day siege of Ghazni in August '-- even as their representatives held a series of meetings with U.S. diplomats in Doha.
Analysts and former officials say the Taliban is in a stronger position on the battlefield than at any time since they were ousted from power in 2001.
Dan De Luce
Dan De Luce is a reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Mushtaq Yusufzai is a journalist based in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Courtney Kube
Courtney Kube is a national security and military reporter for NBC News, covering the Pentagon, U.S. military operations all over the world, and intelligence and national security issues.
Josh Lederman
Josh Lederman is a national political reporter for NBC News. He was formerly a White House reporter and a State Department correspondent for The Associated Press.
Abigail Williams contributed.
PedoBear
Detective Publishes Book Exposing High-Level Gov't Pedophile Ring, Shot in the Head Days Later
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 23:37
A former police detective, and author of a bombshell book that exposed a massive pedophile ring made up of high-level government officials was found shot in the head last week. While officials are calling it an apparent suicide, his family is claiming that he told them he would never kill himself and that people were after him because he was about to expose even more high-level government pedophilia.
Mark Minne, author of the controversial book 'The Lost Boys of Bird Island' devoted his post-police life to exposing the corruption and horrifying pedophilia he discovered while working as a detective. Minnie and his good friend Chris Steyn, also a former cop turned investigative journalist, worked together on the book to expose a government and business community who took children to Bird Island where they were abused, and some possibly murdered.
The book details the level of their involvement in the pedophile ring, abuse of the children, alleged acts of murder to cover up the crimes, as well as corruption and abuse of high-level state resources by the network's members.
The book details the corruption within the last Apartheid government of South Africa and implicated officials all the way to the top, including defense minister Magnus Malan and the minister of environmental affairs John Wiley.
Before his death, Minnie announced that he was approached by many more people with even more damning evidence which he planned to reveal in a sequel of the book. However, he died before he could finish it.
The book was published earlier this month on August 5 and only nine days later, Minnie would be found dead. Officials claim they found a suicide note at the scene, but his family says they don't believe it at all.
Tersia Dodo, a family member of Minnie told reporters that just days before he died that if anything happened to him, they must know he was killed.
''He mentioned to us all the time that his life was in danger and if anything did happen to him we must know that it was done to him not by himself,'' she said.
Dodo says Minnie was being watched and feared for his life because he had more information which would've exposed even more people.
''I knew about the book for many years and I knew what he had been through, it really played him that he had seen and been involved with the investigation surrounding the book,'' Dodo told SABC.
Dodo came forward on her own after she saw the suicide narrative being played out in the media. She said she was compelled to do so, to dispel the myths.
''Mark was not a coward, Mark faced life head on,'' she said. There is no ways that I or any of us believed that he would have opted out and that is why I agreed to do this interview to dispel any thoughts and rumors of suicide. He was not the type of man that was cowardly and that would do something like that.''
As for the note police allegedly found next to Minnie's body, Dodo believes it is either fake, or was written under duress.
''I have said this from the beginning, this supposed suicide note was either written under duress and I would like to see it before I will believe it was written by Mark,'' she said.
This case is eerily similar to that of a man who was allegedly murdered in Lithuania after he began exposing high-level government pedophiles.
As TFTP previously reported, teenage refugee from Lithuania came forward last year with a White House petition and a damning testimony showing what happened after his family tried to expose a little girl's abusers.
When his four-year-old cousin accused two high-level government officials'--describing it in heartbreaking detail'--Korolis Venckienė learned the hard way how the government protects its vilest members, up to and including using hundreds of militarized police and even murder.
As Venckienė explained in his petition on WhiteHouse.gov, this nightmare started when their family attempted to seek justice for the sick men who allegedly raped his four-year-old cousin.
''In 2008, 4-year-old Deimante Kedyte described her sexual assault by high-level Lithuanian officials. Her testimony was later verified as true by 4 separate commissions. She never had her day in court,'' Venckienė wrote.
When the teen's uncle, Drasius Kedys, Deimante's father pushed for the men to be prosecuted for what they did to his daughter, he was murdered.
If Minnie was actually murdered, hopefully the information he was planning on releasing still comes forward. The only way to stop these vile actors is to shine light into the darkness. While Minnie has been silenced, his work can live on to be that light.
Oh Elon!
Elon Musk's Boring Company Cancels Los Angeles Tunnel Following Lawsuit
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 12:08
Photo: The Boring CompanyNo amount of flamethrower sales could save Elon Musk's dream of building a tunnel beneath the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. On Thursday, Musk's Boring Company announced that it had settled a lawsuit opposing the project and it will not move forward.
The Boring Company has been a fly-by-the-seat-of-Musk's-pants operation from the moment he was stuck in L.A. traffic and tweeted his epiphany that the solution is underground tunnels. Since then, it's been hard to keep track of what's real, what's a pipe dream, and what's a joke. Not only is the company working on tunnels in LA but it has deals for projects to whisk pedestrians and cars underground in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. But the cancellation of the Westside tunnel project is a major blow to Musk's grand plan in the City of Angels.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the project's demise began shortly after the Boring Company obtained a preliminary exemption to skip California's environmental review process and start digging. The city's authorities have been friendly to Musk's plans, but a group of residents in the Westside area filed an environmental suit in May alleging that the tunnel violates state law.
The crux of the group's argument was that the Westside tunnel is part of a larger project that the company outlined with a map late last year. According to the suit, California law forbids the approval of individual facets of a larger project, stating that a full environmental review can't ''be evaded by chopping large projects into smaller pieces that taken individually appear to have no significant environmental impacts.'' Yes, there's a certain irony to Musk trying to get around environmental regulations when he spends his days trying to kill the fossil fuel industry and curb global warming with an electric car revolution.
Map of planned underground systemGraphic: The Boring CompanyThe Westside group did not get a ruling on its lawsuit; instead, it seems the two parties settled. The Boring Company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Gizmodo, but it sent a statement to NBC News that reads:
The parties (The Boring Company, Brentwood Residents Coalition, Sunset Coalition, and Wendy-Sue Rosen) have amicably settled the matter of Brentwood Residents Coalition et al. v. City of Los Angeles (TBC '-- The Boring Company).
The Boring Company is no longer seeking the development of the Sepulveda test tunnel and instead seeks to construct an operational tunnel at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodger Stadium project hopes to connect a Metro Subway station to the baseball stadium with a 3.6-mile tunnel. Sixteen passengers at a time will climb into pods that travel 150 mph on a high-speed rail, according to the company. Musk has also announced that a tunnel running a little over a mile beneath Hawthorne will open to the public on December 10, and Angelenos will be allowed to come and take free rides.
The Westside group's legal argument does not bode well for Musk's vision of a citywide traffic solution in LA, but for now, it seems he has some piecemeal projects to keep him busy. We really don't need an impulsive billionaire with his own underground lair to find a reason to take revenge on a society that doesn't understand his genius.
[Los Angeles Times via TechCrunch]
HRC
Join Hillary Clinton for a Broadway Play and Chardonnay - Omaze.com
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 12:10
Support Onward Together andYOU AND A FRIEND WILL:
Meet Hillary Clinton in NYC to share in one of her favorite pastimes'--seeing a Broadway show Get to know Hillary over the drink of your choice (hers is chardonnay!) Be flown out and put up in a 4-star hotelBy donating or entering, you agree to become a member of Onward Together.
What you'll doPinch yourself, pack your favorite pantsuit and pick a friend, because you're off to NYC to join Hillary Clinton for an evening you'll never forget. Hillary's inviting you to share in one of her favorite pastimes: seeing a Broadway show! And the fun won't stop at curtain call. You'll also join Hillary for a glass of chardonnay (or whatever you want!) for the chance to get to know her on a personal level. Maybe you'll talk about the show, life, or your family. Maybe you'll have a really nuanced conversation about economic policy. Maybe you'll just use the opportunity to say, ''thank you.'' It's up to you! But we hear Hillary's an incredible listener. Flights and hotel included.
Who you'll helpFounded by Hillary Clinton in the wake of the 2016 election, Onward Together is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a fairer, more inclusive America. By encouraging people to organize and get involved, Onward Together works to advance our shared values and create a brighter future for generations to come. They lift up and support emerging and legacy organizations who are advocating for community representation, racial justice, voter participation, voting rights, workers' rights and other progressive causes. Some of their grantees include: Alliance for Youth Organizing, APIAVote, Arena, Collective Future, iVote, Latino Victory, LGBTQ Victory Institute, National Domestic Workers Alliance, ROC United and Voto Latino. Your generosity will help Onward Together and its partner groups continue to expand opportunity and fairness for more people, inspire civic participation, and train the next generation of leaders. To learn more, please visit onwardtogether.org.
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email
Clintons Face Empty Seats As Trump-Trashing Speaking Tour Kicks Off With A Coughing Fit | Zero Hedge
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:36
Having seen donations to their 'foundation' collapse by 90% since they failed in their bid to regain The White House, The Clintons decided a 13-city paid speaking tour was in order to scrape together some coin.
Unfortunately, as the image above shows, the supposed-power-couple's draw is starting to fade as the Daily Mail reports that just 3,300 tickets were sold in the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto, which holds 19,800.
As President Trump tours the nation in front of 10s of thousands of fans, The Clintons faced 83% empty seats in the Canadian hockey arena as it seems fewer and fewer North Americans want to hear their whining scapegoatery.
As The Daily Mail reports, Bill Clinton said the U.S. had 'compromised' its moral leadership in the world under Trump, and defended his NAFTA free trade agreement. He said of the recent elections:
"We got a chance to become a democracy again and reclaim a debate," adding that there were Republicans of good will "who don't want to make America a single homogenous authoritarian country. We got a chance to have a debate again now."
The former president apologized for Trump's angry clash with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau during his last trip here, setting off a trade clash, though the U.S., Canada, and Mexico ultimately reached a deal.
"All the rhetoric was just for consumption, it was just rhetoric. And we did some real damage I'm afraid to our relationship and if we did I ask for your forbearance because we do love you, most of us, in America," said Clinton, who inked the NAFTA agreement during his tenure.
But the Trump-bashing had to wait for a few minutes as Hillary suffered the return of the coughing fit that so enlivened her 2016 campaign...
"You need another?" her husband asked, offering her a bottled water. She also took what looked like a cough drop after about an hour on stage. Her husband filibustered while her voice recovered, and Clinton participated during the event's final 30 minutes.
As the American Thinker points out, ''While 3300 tickets sold at prices ranging from $53 to over $200 still yields a healthy payday, even after expenses, the optics are terrible,'' which is something even loyal Democrats and CNN is pointing out:
''I just think the optics of going to an event where people are paying to see them, and they are financially gaining from this, I am not sure that is the right way to re-ingratiate them back into the public sphere,'' said a former Clinton aide.
''They haven't gone away, and I don't want them to go away, but I am not sure this is the right venue from an optics standpoint.''
Tickets were going a lot cheaper as the event neared...
As American Thinker p[oints out,m Even though curtains were erected cutting the arena in half, the vacant seats far outnumbered the occupied ones.
DEW
Another Canadian diplomat in Cuba affected by mysterious brain injury | CBC News
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:14
Another Canadian diplomat has reported a traumatic brain injury while stationed in Cuba, bringing to 13 the total number of cases among diplomats and dependents with "unusual health symptoms."
The affected person is receiving medical attention, according to a statement from Global Affairs Canada, while the government continues to investigate the potential causes of the so-called Havana Syndrome.
"In light of this new information, a decision has been made to allow staff currently posted to Cuba to return to Canada if they wish," the statement read.
It's been more than a year since the last report of such an injury at the Canadian embassy in Havana. Several U.S. and Canadian diplomats and family members have been treated over the past two years after reporting strange concussion-like symptoms.
Both countries believe their diplomats have been targeted using an unknown technology, and both the FBI and RCMP are investigating. The U.S. has also imposed sanctions on Cuba over the attacks, though officials in both Washington and Ottawa believe that the Cuban government is probably telling the truth when it denies involvement.
A delegation of senior Canadian government officials will travel to Cuba next week to review the current operations and assess how to further reduce risks, the statement read.
Long hiatus between attacksLast winter, Canada made some changes at its Havana mission in response to attacks that had affected 12 diplomats and their family members, including children. Havana became an "unaccompanied" posting, meaning family members were no longer encouraged to join diplomats in Havana.
Canada also renewed its personnel at the embassy, and found accommodation for the newcomers in a single compound rather than having them dispersed around the city in private homes and apartments. The new accommodations are not close to any U.S. diplomatic facility, lessening the chance that the Canadians in Havana are being confused with U.S. diplomats.
Prior to the newest case, the last Canadian to report symptoms was diagnosed last fall, but believed the original attack had occurred earlier that summer. The newest case '-- involving a career diplomat, according to government sources '-- comes after almost 18 months with no reported incident.
Universities studying effectsThe most recent case is expected to be examined by a Dalhousie University neurologist who is looking into the effects of the brain injuries and their possible causes. Global Affairs Canada also sent some of its affected diplomats to the University of Pennsylvania, which has taken the lead in examining U.S. diplomatic personnel and family members at the request of the State Department.
Some of the U..S diplomats affected reported hearing strange noises before their symptoms appeared, or experiencing uncomfortable physical sensations.
Canadian government sources say that of the 12 Canadians who were previously affected, only one reported feeling a sensation of waves or pulses coming through the air. In all other cases, the Canadians became aware of their injuries when they began to experience symptoms.
In the newest case, the diplomat also could not recall any particular incident that might have triggered the symptoms.
Who's behind it? U.S. officials have said that the attacks are not consistent with any known technology or weapon, but they believe they are deliberate and targeted. Some scientists have pointed to microwave technology as a possible culprit, but neither the U.S. nor the Canadian government has yet settled on an explanation.
Mysterious brain injuries at embassies may be linked to common ultrasonic devicesThe assumption is that the attacks are the work of a state actor with a presence in Cuba, but the timing of the incidents '-- which began during a period of U.S.-Cuban rapprochement '-- does not suggest Cuban official involvement.
Potential suspects include other governments such as Russia or China, or rogue elements within the Cuban regime, possibly colluding with a foreign government.
Statement on the health and security of Canadian diplomatic staff in Havana, Cuba - Canada.ca
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:15
From: Global Affairs Canada
StatementNovember 28, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The health, safety and security of our diplomatic staff and their families remain our priority.
The Government of Canada continues to investigate the potential causes of unusual health symptoms reported by some Canadian diplomatic staff and dependents posted to Havana, Cuba.
All potentially affected diplomatic personnel have been offered medical support.
To date, no cause has been identified. This remains the case today.
Medical testing confirmed that an additional employee has been affected. The individual is receiving the necessary medical attention. This incident brings the total number of confirmed cases of affected Canadian diplomats and dependents from 12 to 13.
In light of this new information, a decision has been made to allow staff currently posted to Cuba to return to Canada, if they wish. This was done previously, in April 2018, when the Government of Canada designated our embassy in Cuba as an unaccompanied post, meaning that diplomats posted to Cuba are not accompanied by their dependants.
A delegation of senior Canadian government officials will travel to Cuba next week to review Canada's current operations and assess how to further reduce risks to our diplomatic personnel.
At this time, there is no evidence that Canadian travellers to Cuba are at risk. Canadian travellers should continue to check the Government of Canada's Travel Advice and Advisories for the latest updates.
ContactsMedia Relations OfficeGlobal Affairs Canada343-203-7700media@international.gc.caFollow us on Twitter: @CanadaFP
Like us on Facebook: Canada's foreign policy - Global Affairs Canada
I Love BUGS
The Insect Apocalypse Is Here - The New York Times
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:24
S une Boye Riis was on a bike ride with his youngest son, enjoying the sun slanting over the fields and woodlands near their home north of Copenhagen, when it suddenly occurred to him that something about the experience was amiss. Specifically, something was missing.
It was summer. He was out in the country, moving fast. But strangely, he wasn't eating any bugs.
For a moment, Riis was transported to his childhood on the Danish island of Lolland, in the Baltic Sea. Back then, summer bike rides meant closing his mouth to cruise through thick clouds of insects, but inevitably he swallowed some anyway. When his parents took him driving, he remembered, the car's windshield was frequently so smeared with insect carcasses that you almost couldn't see through it. But all that seemed distant now. He couldn't recall the last time he needed to wash bugs from his windshield; he even wondered, vaguely, whether car manufacturers had invented some fancy new coating to keep off insects. But this absence, he now realized with some alarm, seemed to be all around him. Where had all those insects gone? And when? And why hadn't he noticed?
Riis watched his son, flying through the beautiful day, not eating bugs, and was struck by the melancholy thought that his son's childhood would lack this particular bug-eating experience of his own. It was, he granted, an odd thing to feel nostalgic about. But he couldn't shake a feeling of loss. ''I guess it's pretty human to think that everything was better when you were a kid,'' he said. ''Maybe I didn't like it when I was on my bike and I ate all the bugs, but looking back on it, I think it's something everybody should experience.''
I met Riis, a lanky high school science and math teacher, on a hot day in June. He was anxious about not having yet written his address for the school's graduation ceremony that evening, but first, he had a job to do. From his garage, he retrieved a large insect net, drove to a nearby intersection and stopped to strap the net to the car's roof. Made of white mesh, the net ran the length of his car and was held up by a tent pole at the front, tapering to a small, removable bag in back. Drivers whizzing past twisted their heads to stare. Riis eyed his parking spot nervously as he adjusted the straps of the contraption. ''This is not 100 percent legal,'' he said, ''but I guess, for the sake of science.''
Riis had not been able to stop thinking about the missing bugs. The more he learned, the more his nostalgia gave way to worry. Insects are the vital pollinators and recyclers of ecosystems and the base of food webs everywhere. Riis was not alone in noticing their decline. In the United States, scientists recently found the population of monarch butterflies fell by 90 percent in the last 20 years, a loss of 900 million individuals; the rusty-patched bumblebee, which once lived in 28 states, dropped by 87 percent over the same period. With other, less-studied insect species, one butterfly researcher told me, ''all we can do is wave our arms and say, 'It's not here anymore!''‰'' Still, the most disquieting thing wasn't the disappearance of certain species of insects; it was the deeper worry, shared by Riis and many others, that a whole insect world might be quietly going missing, a loss of abundance that could alter the planet in unknowable ways. ''We notice the losses,'' says David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut. ''It's the diminishment that we don't see.''
Because insects are legion, inconspicuous and hard to meaningfully track, the fear that there might be far fewer than before was more felt than documented. People noticed it by canals or in backyards or under streetlights at night '-- familiar places that had become unfamiliarly empty. The feeling was so common that entomologists developed a shorthand for it, named for the way many people first began to notice that they weren't seeing as many bugs. They called it the windshield phenomenon.
To test what had been primarily a loose suspicion of wrongness, Riis and 200 other Danes were spending the month of June roaming their country's back roads in their outfitted cars. They were part of a study conducted by the Natural History Museum of Denmark, a joint effort of the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and North Carolina State University. The nets would stand in for windshields as Riis and the other volunteers drove through various habitats '-- urban areas, forests, agricultural tracts, uncultivated open land and wetlands '-- hoping to quantify the disorienting sense that, as one of the study's designers put it, ''something from the past is missing from the present.''
When the investigators began planning the study in 2016, they weren't sure if anyone would sign up. But by the time the nets were ready, a paper by an obscure German entomological society had brought the problem of insect decline into sharp focus. The German study found that, measured simply by weight, the overall abundance of flying insects in German nature reserves had decreased by 75 percent over just 27 years. If you looked at midsummer population peaks, the drop was 82 percent.
Riis learned about the study from a group of his students in one of their class projects. They must have made some kind of mistake in their citation, he thought. But they hadn't. The study would quickly become, according to the website Altmetric, the sixth-most-discussed scientific paper of 2017. Headlines around the world warned of an ''insect Armageddon.''
Within days of announcing the insect-collection project, the Natural History Museum of Denmark was turning away eager volunteers by the dozens. It seemed there were people like Riis everywhere, people who had noticed a change but didn't know what to make of it. How could something as fundamental as the bugs in the sky just disappear? And what would become of the world without them?
Anyone who has returned to a childhood haunt to find that everything somehow got smaller knows that humans are not great at remembering the past accurately. This is especially true when it comes to changes to the natural world. It is impossible to maintain a fixed perspective, as Heraclitus observed 2,500 years ago: It is not the same river, but we are also not the same people.
A 1995 study, by Peter H. Kahn and Batya Friedman, of the way some children in Houston experienced pollution summed up our blindness this way: ''With each generation, the amount of environmental degradation increases, but each generation takes that amount as the norm.'' In decades of photos of fishermen holding up their catch in the Florida Keys, the marine biologist Loren McClenachan found a perfect illustration of this phenomenon, which is often called ''shifting baseline syndrome.'' The fish got smaller and smaller, to the point where the prize catches were dwarfed by fish that in years past were piled up and ignored. But the smiles on the fishermen's faces stayed the same size. The world never feels fallen, because we grow accustomed to the fall.
By one measure, bugs are the wildlife we know best, the nondomesticated animals whose lives intersect most intimately with our own: spiders in the shower, ants at the picnic, ticks buried in the skin. We sometimes feel that we know them rather too well. In another sense, though, they are one of our planet's greatest mysteries, a reminder of how little we know about what's happening in the world around us.
We've named and described a million species of insects, a stupefying array of thrips and firebrats and antlions and caddis flies and froghoppers and other enormous families of bugs that most of us can't even name. (Technically, the word ''bug'' applies only to the order Hemiptera, also known as true bugs, species that have tubelike mouths for piercing and sucking '-- and there are as many as 80,000 named varieties of those.) The ones we think we do know well, we don't: There are 12,000 types of ants, nearly 20,000 varieties of bees, almost 400,000 species of beetles, so many that the geneticist J.B.S. Haldane reportedly quipped that God must have an inordinate fondness for them. A bit of healthy soil a foot square and two inches deep might easily be home to 200 unique species of mites, each, presumably, with a subtly different job to do. And yet entomologists estimate that all this amazing, absurd and understudied variety represents perhaps only 20 percent of the actual diversity of insects on our planet '-- that there are millions and millions of species that are entirely unknown to science.
With so much abundance, it very likely never occurred to most entomologists of the past that their multitudinous subjects might dwindle away. As they poured themselves into studies of the life cycles and taxonomies of the species that fascinated them, few thought to measure or record something as boring as their number. Besides, tracking quantity is slow, tedious and unglamorous work: setting and checking traps, waiting years or decades for your data to be meaningful, grappling with blunt baseline questions instead of more sophisticated ones. And who would pay for it? Most academic funding is short-term, but when what you're interested in is invisible, generational change, says Dave Goulson, an entomologist at the University of Sussex, ''a three-year monitoring program is no good to anybody.'' This is especially true of insect populations, which are naturally variable, with wide, trend-obscuring fluctuations from one year to the next.
When entomologists began noticing and investigating insect declines, they lamented the absence of solid information from the past in which to ground their experiences of the present. ''We see a hundred of something, and we think we're fine,'' Wagner says, ''but what if there were 100,000 two generations ago?'' Rob Dunn, an ecologist at North Carolina State University who helped design the net experiment in Denmark, recently searched for studies showing the effect of pesticide spraying on the quantity of insects living in nearby forests. He was surprised to find that no such studies existed. ''We ignored really basic questions,'' he said. ''It feels like we've dropped the ball in some giant collective way.''
Image If entomologists lacked data, what they did have were some very worrying clues. Along with the impression that they were seeing fewer bugs in their own jars and nets while out doing experiments '-- a windshield phenomenon specific to the sorts of people who have bug jars and nets '-- there were documented downward slides of well-studied bugs, including various kinds of bees, moths, butterflies and beetles. In Britain, as many as 30 to 60 percent of species were found to have diminishing ranges. Larger trends were harder to pin down, though a 2014 review in Science tried to quantify these declines by synthesizing the findings of existing studies and found that a majority of monitored species were declining, on average by 45 percent.
Entomologists also knew that climate change and the overall degradation of global habitat are bad news for biodiversity in general, and that insects are dealing with the particular challenges posed by herbicides and pesticides, along with the effects of losing meadows, forests and even weedy patches to the relentless expansion of human spaces. There were studies of other, better-understood species that suggested that the insects associated with them might be declining, too. People who studied fish found that the fish had fewer mayflies to eat. Ornithologists kept finding that birds that rely on insects for food were in trouble: eight in 10 partridges gone from French farmlands; 50 and 80 percent drops, respectively, for nightingales and turtledoves. Half of all farmland birds in Europe disappeared in just three decades. At first, many scientists assumed the familiar culprit of habitat destruction was at work, but then they began to wonder if the birds might simply be starving. In Denmark, an ornithologist named Anders Tottrup was the one who came up with the idea of turning cars into insect trackers for the windshield-effect study after he noticed that rollers, little owls, Eurasian hobbies and bee-eaters '-- all birds that subsist on large insects such as beetles and dragonflies '-- had abruptly disappeared from the landscape.
The signs were certainly alarming, but they were also just signs, not enough to justify grand pronouncements about the health of insects as a whole or about what might be driving a widespread, cross-species decline. ''There are no quantitative data on insects, so this is just a hypothesis,'' Hans de Kroon, an ecologist at Radboud University in the Netherlands, explained to me '-- not the sort of language that sends people to the barricades.
Then came the German study. Scientists are still cautious about what the findings might imply about other regions of the world. But the study brought forth exactly the kind of longitudinal data they had been seeking, and it wasn't specific to just one type of insect. The numbers were stark, indicating a vast impoverishment of an entire insect universe, even in protected areas where insects ought to be under less stress. The speed and scale of the drop were shocking even to entomologists who were already anxious about bees or fireflies or the cleanliness of car windshields.
The results were surprising in another way too. The long-term details about insect abundance, the kind that no one really thought existed, hadn't appeared in a particularly prestigious journal and didn't come from university-affiliated scientists, but from a small society of insect enthusiasts based in the modest German city Krefeld.
Krefeld sits a half-hour drive outside D¼sseldorf, near the western bank of the Rhine. It's a city of brick houses and bright flower gardens and a stadtwald '-- a municipal forest and park '-- where paddle boats float on a lake, umbrellas shade a beer garden and (I couldn't help noticing) the afternoon light through the trees illuminates small swarms of dancing insects.
Near the center of the old city, a paper sign, not much larger than a business card, identifies the stolid headquarters of the society whose research caused so much commotion. When it was founded, in 1905, the society operated out of another building, one that was destroyed when Britain bombed the city during World War II. (By the time the bombs fell, members had moved their precious records and collections of insects, some of which dated back to the 1860s, to an underground bunker.) Nowadays, the society uses more than 6,000 square feet of an old three-story school as storage space. Ask for a tour of the collections, and you will hear such sentences as ''This whole room is Lepidoptera,'' referring to a former classroom stuffed with what I at first took to be shelves of books but which are in fact innumerable wooden frames containing pinned butterflies and moths; and, in an even larger room, ''every bumblebee here was collected before the Second World War, 1880 to 1930''; and, upon opening a drawer full of sweat bees, ''It's a new collection, 30 years only.''
On the shelves that do hold books, I counted 31 clearly well-loved volumes in the series ''Beetles of Middle Europe.'' A 395-page book that cataloged specimens of spider wasps '-- where they were collected; where they were stored '-- of the western Palearctic said ''1948-2008'' on the cover. I asked my guide, a society member named Martin Sorg, who was one of the lead authors of the paper, whether those dates reflected when the specimens were collected. ''No,'' Sorg replied, ''that was the time the author needed for this work.''
Sorg, who rolls his own cigarettes and wears John Lennon glasses and whose gray hair grows long past his shoulders, is not a freewheeling type when it comes to his insect work. And his insect work is really all he wants to talk about. ''We think details about nature and biodiversity declines are important, not details about life histories of entomologists,'' Sorg explained after he and Werner Stenmans, a society member whose name appeared alongside Sorg's on the 2017 paper, dismissed my questions about their day jobs. Leery of an article that focused on him as a person, Sorg also didn't want to talk about what drew him to entomology as a child or even what it was about certain types of wasps that had made him want to devote so much of his life to studying them. ''We normally give life histories when someone is dead,'' he said.
There was a reason for the wariness. Society members dislike seeing themselves described, over and over in news stories, as ''amateurs.'' It's a framing that reflects, they believe, a too-narrow understanding of what it means to be an expert or even a scientist '-- what it means to be a student of the natural world.
Amateurs have long provided much of the patchy knowledge we have about nature. Those bee and butterfly studies? Most depend on mass mobilizations of volunteers willing to walk transects and count insects, every two weeks or every year, year after year. The scary numbers about bird declines were gathered this way, too, though because birds can be hard to spot, volunteers often must learn to identify them by their sounds. Britain, which has a particularly strong tradition of amateur naturalism, has the best-studied bugs in the world. As technologically advanced as we are, the natural world is still a very big and complex place, and the best way to learn what's going on is for a lot of people to spend a lot of time observing it. The Latin root of the word ''amateur'' is, after all, the word ''lover.''
Some of these citizen-scientists are true beginners clutching field guides; others, driven by their own passion and following in a long tradition of ''amateur'' naturalism, are far from novices. Think of Victorians with their butterfly nets and curiosity cabinets; of Vladimir Nabokov, whose theories about the evolution of Polyommatus blue butterflies were ignored until proved correct by DNA testing more than 30 years after his death; of young Charles Darwin, cutting his classes at Cambridge to collect beetles at Wicken Fen and once putting a live beetle in his mouth because his hands were already full of other bugs.
The Krefeld society is volunteer-run, and many members have other jobs in unrelated fields, but they also have an enormous depth of knowledge about insects, accumulated through years of what other people might consider obsessive attention. Some study the ecology or evolutionary taxonomy of their favorite species or map their populations or breed them to study their life histories. All hone their identification skills across species by amassing their own collections of carefully pinned and labeled insects like those that fill the society's storage rooms. Sorg estimated that of the society's 63 members, a third are university-trained in subjects such as biology or earth science. Another third, he said, are ''highly specialized and highly qualified but they never visited the university,'' while the remaining third are actual amateurs who are still in the process of becoming ''real'' entomologists: ''Some of them may also have a degree from the university, but in our view, they are beginners.''
The society members' projects often involved setting up what are called malaise traps, nets that look like tents and drive insects flying by into bottles of ethanol. Because of the scientific standards of the society, members followed certain procedures: They always employed identical traps, sewn from a template they first used in 1982. (Sorg showed me the original rolled-up craft paper with great solemnity.) They always put them in the same places. (Before GPS, that meant a painstaking process of triangulating with surveying equipment. ''We are not sure about a few centimeters,'' Sorg granted.) They saved everything they caught, regardless of what the main purpose of the experiment was. (The society bought so much ethanol that it attracted the attention of a narcotics unit.)
Those bottles of insects were gathered into thousands of boxes, which are now crammed into what were once offices in the upper reaches of the school. When the society members, like entomologists elsewhere, began to notice that they were seeing fewer insects, they had something against which to measure their worries.
''We don't throw away anything, we store everything,'' Sorg explained. ''That gives us today the possibility to go back in time.''
In 2013, Krefeld entomologists confirmed that the total number of insects caught in one nature reserve was nearly 80 percent lower than the same spot in 1989. They had sampled other sites, analyzed old data sets and found similar declines: Where 30 years earlier, they often needed a liter bottle for a week of trapping, now a half-liter bottle usually sufficed. But it would have taken even highly trained entomologists years of painstaking work to identify all the insects in the bottles. So the society used a standardized method for weighing insects in alcohol, which told a powerful story simply by showing how much the overall mass of insects dropped over time. ''A decline of this mixture,'' Sorg said, ''is a very different thing than the decline of only a few species.''
The society collaborated with de Kroon and other scientists at Radboud University in the Netherlands, who did a trend analysis of the data that Krefeld provided, controlling for things like the effects of nearby plants, weather and forest cover on fluctuations in insect populations. The final study looked at 63 nature preserves, representing almost 17,000 sampling days, and found consistent declines in every kind of habitat they sampled. This suggested, the authors wrote, ''that it is not only the vulnerable species but the flying-insect community as a whole that has been decimated over the last few decades.''
For some scientists, the study created a moment of reckoning. ''Scientists thought this data was too boring,'' Dunn says. ''But these people found it beautiful, and they loved it. They were the ones paying attention to Earth for all the rest of us.''
The current worldwide loss of biodiversity is popularly known as the sixth extinction: the sixth time in world history that a large number of species have disappeared in unusually rapid succession, caused this time not by asteroids or ice ages but by humans. When we think about losing biodiversity, we tend to think of the last northern white rhinos protected by armed guards, of polar bears on dwindling ice floes. Extinction is a visceral tragedy, universally understood: There is no coming back from it. The guilt of letting a unique species vanish is eternal.
But extinction is not the only tragedy through which we're living. What about the species that still exist, but as a shadow of what they once were? In ''The Once and Future World,'' the journalist J.B. MacKinnon cites records from recent centuries that hint at what has only just been lost: ''In the North Atlantic, a school of cod stalls a tall ship in midocean; off Sydney, Australia, a ship's captain sails from noon until sunset through pods of sperm whales as far as the eye can see. ... Pacific pioneers complain to the authorities that splashing salmon threaten to swamp their canoes.'' There were reports of lions in the south of France, walruses at the mouth of the Thames, flocks of birds that took three days to fly overhead, as many as 100 blue whales in the Southern Ocean for every one that's there now. ''These are not sights from some ancient age of fire and ice,'' MacKinnon writes. ''We are talking about things seen by human eyes, recalled in human memory.''
What we're losing is not just the diversity part of biodiversity, but the bio part: life in sheer quantity. While I was writing this article, scientists learned that the world's largest king penguin colony shrank by 88 percent in 35 years, that more than 97 percent of the bluefin tuna that once lived in the ocean are gone. The number of Sophie the Giraffe toys sold in France in a single year is nine times the number of all the giraffes that still live in Africa.
Finding reassurance in the survival of a few symbolic standard-bearers ignores the value of abundance, of a natural world that thrives on richness and complexity and interaction. Tigers still exist, for example, but that doesn't change the fact that 93 percent of the land where they used to live is now tigerless. This matters for more than romantic reasons: Large animals, especially top predators like tigers, connect ecosystems to one another and move energy and resources among them simply by walking and eating and defecating and dying. (In the deep ocean, sunken whale carcasses form the basis of entire ecosystems in nutrient-poor places.) One result of their loss is what's known as trophic cascade, the unraveling of an ecosystem's fabric as prey populations boom and crash and the various levels of the food web no longer keep each other in check. These places are emptier, impoverished in a thousand subtle ways.
Scientists have begun to speak of functional extinction (as opposed to the more familiar kind, numerical extinction). Functionally extinct animals and plants are still present but no longer prevalent enough to affect how an ecosystem works. Some phrase this as the extinction not of a species but of all its former interactions with its environment '-- an extinction of seed dispersal and predation and pollination and all the other ecological functions an animal once had, which can be devastating even if some individuals still persist. The more interactions are lost, the more disordered the ecosystem becomes. A 2013 paper in Nature, which modeled both natural and computer-generated food webs, suggested that a loss of even 30 percent of a species' abundance can be so destabilizing that other species start going fully, numerically extinct '-- in fact, 80 percent of the time it was a secondarily affected creature that was the first to disappear. A famous real-world example of this type of cascade concerns sea otters. When they were nearly wiped out in the northern Pacific, their prey, sea urchins, ballooned in number and decimated kelp forests, turning a rich environment into a barren one and also possibly contributing to numerical extinctions, notably of the Steller's sea cow.
Conservationists tend to focus on rare and endangered species, but it is common ones, because of their abundance, that power the living systems of our planet. Most species are not common, but within many animal groups most individuals '-- some 80 percent of them '-- belong to common species. Like the slow approach of twilight, their declines can be hard to see. White-rumped vultures were nearly gone from India before there was widespread awareness of their disappearance. Describing this phenomenon in the journal BioScience, Kevin Gaston, a professor of biodiversity and conservation at the University of Exeter, wrote: ''Humans seem innately better able to detect the complete loss of an environmental feature than its progressive change.''
In addition to extinction (the complete loss of a species) and extirpation (a localized extinction), scientists now speak of defaunation: the loss of individuals, the loss of abundance, the loss of a place's absolute animalness. In a 2014 article in Science, researchers argued that the word should become as familiar, and influential, as the concept of deforestation. In 2017 another paper reported that major population and range losses extended even to species considered to be at low risk for extinction. They predicted ''negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization'' and the authors offered another term for the widespread loss of the world's wild fauna: ''biological annihilation.''
It is estimated that, since 1970, Earth's various populations of wild land animals have lost, on average, 60 percent of their members. Zeroing in on the category we most relate to, mammals, scientists believe that for every six wild creatures that once ate and burrowed and raised young, only one remains. What we have instead is ourselves. A study published this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that if you look at the world's mammals by weight, 96 percent of that biomass is humans and livestock; just 4 percent is wild animals.
We've begun to talk about living in the Anthropocene, a world shaped by humans. But E.O. Wilson, the naturalist and prophet of environmental degradation, has suggested another name: the Eremocine, the age of loneliness.
Wilson began his career as a taxonomic entomologist, studying ants. Insects '-- about as far as you can get from charismatic megafauna '-- are not what we're usually imagining when we talk about biodiversity. Yet they are, in Wilson's words, ''the little things that run the natural world.'' He means it literally. Insects are a case study in the invisible importance of the common.
Scientists have tried to calculate the benefits that insects provide simply by going about their business in large numbers. Trillions of bugs flitting from flower to flower pollinate some three-quarters of our food crops, a service worth as much as $500 billion every year. (This doesn't count the 80 percent of wild flowering plants, the foundation blocks of life everywhere, that rely on insects for pollination.) If monetary calculations like that sound strange, consider the Maoxian Valley in China, where shortages of insect pollinators have led farmers to hire human workers, at a cost of up to $19 per worker per day, to replace bees. Each person covers five to 10 trees a day, pollinating apple blossoms by hand.
By eating and being eaten, insects turn plants into protein and power the growth of all the uncountable species '-- including freshwater fish and a majority of birds '-- that rely on them for food, not to mention all the creatures that eat those creatures. We worry about saving the grizzly bear, says the insect ecologist Scott Hoffman Black, but where is the grizzly without the bee that pollinates the berries it eats or the flies that sustain baby salmon? Where, for that matter, are we?
Bugs are vital to the decomposition that keeps nutrients cycling, soil healthy, plants growing and ecosystems running. This role is mostly invisible, until suddenly it's not. After introducing cattle to Australia at the turn of the 19th century, settlers soon found themselves overwhelmed by the problem of their feces: For some reason, cow pies there were taking months or even years to decompose. Cows refused to eat near the stink, requiring more and more land for grazing, and so many flies bred in the piles that the country became famous for the funny hats that stockmen wore to keep them at bay. It wasn't until 1951 that a visiting entomologist realized what was wrong: The local insects, evolved to eat the more fibrous waste of marsupials, couldn't handle cow excrement. For the next 25 years, the importation, quarantine and release of dozens of species of dung beetles became a national priority. And that was just one unfilled niche. (In the United States, dung beetles save ranchers an estimated $380 million a year.) We simply don't know everything that insects do. Only about 2 percent of invertebrate species have been studied enough for us to estimate whether they are in danger of extinction, never mind what dangers that extinction might pose.
When asked to imagine what would happen if insects were to disappear completely, scientists find words like chaos, collapse, Armageddon. Wagner, the University of Connecticut entomologist, describes a flowerless world with silent forests, a world of dung and old leaves and rotting carcasses accumulating in cities and roadsides, a world of ''collapse or decay and erosion and loss that would spread through ecosystems'' '-- spiraling from predators to plants. E.O. Wilson has written of an insect-free world, a place where most plants and land animals become extinct; where fungi explodes, for a while, thriving on death and rot; and where ''the human species survives, able to fall back on wind-pollinated grains and marine fishing'' despite mass starvation and resource wars. ''Clinging to survival in a devastated world, and trapped in an ecological dark age,'' he adds, ''the survivors would offer prayers for the return of weeds and bugs.''
But the crux of the windshield phenomenon, the reason that the creeping suspicion of change is so creepy, is that insects wouldn't have to disappear altogether for us to find ourselves missing them for reasons far beyond nostalgia. In October, an entomologist sent me an email with the subject line, ''Holy [expletive]!'' and an attachment: a study just out from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that he labeled, ''Krefeld comes to Puerto Rico.'' The study included data from the 1970s and from the early 2010s, when a tropical ecologist named Brad Lister returned to the rain forest where he had studied lizards '-- and, crucially, their prey '-- 40 years earlier. Lister set out sticky traps and swept nets across foliage in the same places he had in the 1970s, but this time he and his co-author, Andres Garcia, caught much, much less: 10 to 60 times less arthropod biomass than before. (It's easy to read that number as 60 percent less, but it's sixtyfold less: Where once he caught 473 milligrams of bugs, Lister was now catching just eight milligrams.) ''It was, you know, devastating,'' Lister told me. But even scarier were the ways the losses were already moving through the ecosystem, with serious declines in the numbers of lizards, birds and frogs. The paper reported ''a bottom-up trophic cascade and consequent collapse of the forest food web.'' Lister's inbox quickly filled with messages from other scientists, especially people who study soil invertebrates, telling him they were seeing similarly frightening declines. Even after his dire findings, Lister found the losses shocking: ''I didn't even know about the earthworm crisis!''
The strange thing, Lister said, is that, as staggering as they are, all the declines he documented would still be basically invisible to the average person walking through the Luquillo rain forest. On his last visit, the forest still felt ''timeless'' and ''phantasmagorical,'' with ''cascading waterfalls and carpets of flowers.'' You would have to be an expert to notice what was missing. But he expects the losses to push the forest toward a tipping point, after which ''there is a sudden and dramatic loss of the rain-forest system,'' and the changes will become obvious to anyone. The place he loves will become unrecognizable.
The insects in the forest that Lister studied haven't been contending with pesticides or habitat loss, the two problems to which the Krefeld paper pointed. Instead, Lister chalks up their decline to climate change, which has already increased temperatures in Luquillo by two degrees Celsius since Lister first sampled there. Previous research suggested that tropical bugs will be unusually sensitive to temperature changes; in November, scientists who subjected laboratory beetles to a heat wave reported that the increased temperatures made them significantly less fertile. Other scientists wonder if it might be climate-induced drought or possibly invasive rats or simply ''death by a thousand cuts'' '-- a confluence of many kinds of changes to the places where insects once thrived.
Like other species, insects are responding to what Chris Thomas, an insect ecologist at the University of York, has called ''the transformation of the world'': not just a changing climate but also the widespread conversion, via urbanization, agricultural intensification and so on, of natural spaces into human ones, with fewer and fewer resources ''left over'' for nonhuman creatures to live on. What resources remain are often contaminated. Hans de Kroon characterizes the life of many modern insects as trying to survive from one dwindling oasis to the next but with ''a desert in between, and at worst it's a poisonous desert.'' Of particular concern are neonicotinoids, neurotoxins that were thought to affect only treated crops but turned out to accumulate in the landscape and to be consumed by all kinds of nontargeted bugs. People talk about the ''loss'' of bees to colony collapse disorder, and that appears to be the right word: Affected hives aren't full of dead bees, but simply mysteriously empty. A leading theory is that exposure to neurotoxins leaves bees unable to find their way home. Even hives exposed to low levels of neonicotinoids have been shown to collect less pollen and produce fewer eggs and far fewer queens. Some recent studies found bees doing better in cities than in the supposed countryside.
The diversity of insects means that some will manage to make do in new environments, some will thrive (abundance cuts both ways: agricultural monocultures, places where only one kind of plant grows, allow some pests to reach population levels they would never achieve in nature) and some, searching for food and shelter in a world nothing like the one they were meant for, will fail. While we need much more data to better understand the reasons or mechanisms behind the ups and downs, Thomas says, ''the average across all species is still a decline.''
Since the Krefeld study came out, researchers have begun searching for other forgotten repositories of information that might offer windows into the past. Some of the Radboud researchers have analyzed long-term data, belonging to Dutch entomological societies, about beetles and moths in certain reserves; they found significant drops (72 percent, 54 percent) that mirrored the Krefeld ones. Roel van Klink, a researcher at the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research, told me that before Krefeld, he, like most entomologists, had never been interested in biomass. Now he is looking for historical data sets '-- many of which began as studies of agricultural pests, like a decades-long study of grasshoppers in Kansas '-- that could help create a more thorough picture of what's happening to creatures that are at once abundant and imperiled. So far he has found forgotten data from 140 old data sets for 1,500 locations that could be resampled.
In the United States, one of the few long-term data sets about insect abundance comes from the work of Arthur Shapiro, an entomologist at the University of California, Davis. In 1972, he began walking transects in the Central Valley and the Sierras, counting butterflies. He planned to do a study on how short-term weather variations affected butterfly populations. But the longer he sampled, the more valuable his data became, offering a signal through the noise of seasonal ups and downs. ''And so here I am in Year 46,'' he said, nearly half a century of spending five days a week, from late spring to the end of autumn, observing butterflies. In that time he has watched overall numbers decline and seen some species that used to be everywhere '-- even species that ''everyone regarded as a junk species'' only a few decades ago '-- all but disappear. Shapiro believes that Krefeld-level declines are likely to be happening all over the globe. ''But, of course, I don't cover the entire globe,'' he added. ''I cover I-80.''
There are also new efforts to set up more of the kind of insect-monitoring schemes researchers wish had existed decades ago, so that our current level of fallenness, at least, is captured. One is a pilot project in Germany similar to the Danish car study. To analyze what is caught, the researchers turned to volunteer naturalists, hobbyists similar to the ones in Krefeld, with the necessary breadth of knowledge to know what they're looking at. ''These are not easy species to identify,'' says Aletta Bonn, of the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research, who is overseeing the project. (The skills required for such work ''are really extreme,'' Dunn says. ''These people train for decades with other amateurs to be able to identify beetles based on their genitalia.'') Bond would like to pay the volunteers for their expertise, she says, but funding hasn't caught up to the crisis. That didn't stop the ''amateurs'' from being willing to help: ''They said, 'We're just curious what's in there, we would like to have samples.''‰''
Goulson says that Europe's tradition of amateur naturalism may account for why so many of the clues to the falloff in insect biodiversity originate there. (Tottrup's design for the car net in Denmark, for example, was itself adapted from the invention of a dedicated beetle-collecting hobbyist.) As little as we know about the status of European bugs, we know significantly less about other parts of the world. ''We wouldn't know anything if it weren't for them,'' the so-called amateurs, Goulson told me. ''We'd be entirely relying on the fact that there's no bugs on the windshield.''
Thomas believes that this naturalist tradition is also why Europe is acting much faster than other places '-- for example, the United States '-- to address the decline of insects: Interest leads to tracking, which leads to awareness, which leads to concern, which leads to action. Since the Krefeld data emerged, there have been hearings about protecting insect biodiversity in the German Bundestag and the European Parliament. European Union member states voted to extend a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides and have begun to put money toward further studies of how abundance is changing, what is causing those changes and what can be done. When I knocked on the door of de Kroon's office, at Radboud University in the Dutch city Nijmegen, he was looking at some photos from another meeting he had that day: Willem-Alexander, the king of the Netherlands, had taken a tour of the city's efforts to make its riverside a friendlier habitat for bugs.
Stemming insect declines will require much more than this, however. The European Union already had some measures in place to help pollinators '-- including more strictly regulating pesticides than the United States does and paying farmers to create insect habitats by leaving fields fallow and allowing for wild edges alongside cultivation '-- but insect populations dropped anyway. New reports call for national governments to collaborate; for more creative approaches such as integrating insect habitats into the design of roads, power lines, railroads and other infrastructure; and, as always, for more studies. The necessary changes, like the causes, may be profound. ''It's just another indication that we're destroying the life-support system of the planet,'' Lister says of the Puerto Rico study. ''Nature's resilient, but we're pushing her to such extremes that eventually it will cause a collapse of the system.''
Scientists hope that insects will have a chance to embody that resilience. While tigers tend to give birth to three or four cubs at a time, a ghost moth in Australia was once recorded laying 29,100 eggs, and she still had 15,000 in her ovaries. The fecund abundance that is insects' singular trait should enable them to recover, but only if they are given the space and the opportunity to do so.
''It's a debate we need to have urgently,'' Goulson says. ''If we lose insects, life on earth will. ...'' He trailed off, pausing for what felt like a long time.
In Denmark, Sune Boye Riis's transect with his car net took him past a bit of woods, some suburban lawns, some hedges, a Christmas-tree farm. The closest thing to a meadow that we passed was a large military property, on which the grass had been allowed to grow tall and golden. Riis had received instructions not to drive too fast, so traffic backed up behind us, and some people began to honk. ''Well,'' Riis said, ''so much for science.'' After three miles, he turned around and drove back toward the start. His windshield stayed mockingly clean.
Riis had four friends who were also participating in the study. They had a bet going among them: Who would net the biggest bug? ''I'm way behind,'' Riis said. ''A bumblebee is in the lead.'' His biggest catch? ''A fly. Not even a big one.''
At the end of the transect, Riis stopped at another parlous roadside spot, unfastened the net and removed the small bag at its tip. Some volunteers, captivated by what the study revealed about the world around them, asked the organizers for extra specimen bags, so they could do more sampling on their own. Some even asked if they could buy the entire car-net apparatus. Riis, though, was content to peer through the mesh, inside of which he could make out a number of black specks of varying tininess.
There was also a single butterfly, white-winged and delicate. Riis thought of the bet with his friends, for which the meaning of bigness had not been defined. He wondered how it might be reckoned. What gave a creature value?
''Is it weight?'' he asked, staring down at the butterfly. In the big bag, it looked small and sad and alone. ''Or is it grace?''
Correction:An earlier version of this article misidentified, on first reference, the location of Radboud University. It is in the Netherlands, not Denmark.
Correction:An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of an extinct species. It is Steller's sea cow, not Stellar's.
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VIDEO - CNN & THE YOUNG TURKS CENK GETS IN DEBATE ABOUT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ 11/25/2018 - YouTube
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 16:32
VIDEO - Electric scooters are now disrupting wrists, elbows and heads - CNET
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:40
What started out as a typical sunny day in San Diego for Pat Brogan ended with a trip to the emergency room.
She was visiting the seaside city with her husband in August, and they thought it would be fun to rent two of Lime's electric scooters . A San Francisco Bay Area local and an avid cyclist and skier, Brogan liked the idea of zipping around town without using a car. After cruising along for about a mile, the couple started to descend a steep hill. Brogan, 63, eased on the brakes as her scooter gained speed -- only to discover they didn't work.
"I blew through three intersections and luckily didn't get hit," she said. "I'm now going 25 mph heading toward six lanes of traffic."
By the end of the day she'd be in the hospital. And she's not the only one. Starting in March, a handful of tech companies dropped thousands of e-scooters across nearly 100 US cities, and injuries have surged. Two people have been killed in electric scooter accidents. And trauma surgeons are reporting daily occurrences in hospitals from San Diego to Denver to Austin. Some of these injuries have been life-threatening; others have left people permanently disabled.
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Silicon Valley is known for "disruption" -- the idea of changing a service or product with technology to make it better. But, over the past few years, many of these innovations have produced unintended consequences. Facebook, originally conceived to "connect" people, is being blamed for undermining political elections around the world. Uber, devised to provide rides at the "touch of a button," is said to exacerbate traffic problems and clog city streets.
Now electric scooters -- first seen as a fun way to solve the last-mile puzzle -- are leading to deadly situations.
"This is disruptive technology," said Dr. Christopher Ziebell, emergency room medical director at Austin's Dell Seton Medical Center. "But this time the disruption is disrupting forearms, elbows and heads."
Scooter accidents happen for a lot of reasons. Sometimes the rider doesn't have control and runs into a curb or wall. Sometimes a car crashes into the rider. And sometimes, the scooter is the problem. Doctors and lawyers report instances when riders say a scooter's throttle got stuck or the brakes failed -- like what happened to Brogan.
If I didn't crash when I did, I would've been killed.Pat Brogan
As she sped down that hill in San Diego, her husband yelled to Brogan to crash into him in order to break her fall. But she didn't want to send him flying. So moments before careening into the busy intersection, she held her arms up against her chest and slid the scooter out sideways.
"I went about 10 feet skidding on the pavement," Brogan said. "If I didn't crash when I did, I would've been killed. I'm sure of that."
Two surgeries later, Brogan ended up with a broken metacarpal held together with two metal pins in her right hand, along with a cracked knuckle joint, road rash and a hematoma down her entire right leg. Her left hand was so badly swollen, doctors had to cut off her rings.
Some might consider her lucky.
The gory detailsBrogan's injury is just one of what looks to be thousands across the US, according to CNET's calculations. Because rentable electric scooters are so new, federal and local officials haven't started tracking accidents, and the companies have declined to release any stats. But some numbers are beginning to appear.
A quick sweep of local news stories brought up at least 50 incidents in the last six months. The tales are often gruesome. Like in San Antonio when a tourist accidentally turned into oncoming traffic and was hit head-on by a pickup truck. Or when an Oklahoma City man, traveling at full speed, clipped a metal drainpipe and was thrown over the handlebars -- breaking both arms. Or when a rider in Cincinnati ran a red light and crashed into two pedestrians, sending them both to urgent care.
Injuries listed in these news reports range from broken ribs, collarbones, scapulas, ankles and femurs to collapsed lungs, ruptured spleens, multiple stitches, black eyes and head fractures.
This 31-year-old woman was in a scooter accident in Santa Monica, California, in October and broke three bones in her ankle that required surgery, a metal plate and screws.
McGee, Lerer and Associates CNET spoke to trauma centers in Denver, San Diego, San Francisco and Austin. All reported an uptick in injuries from scooter accidents. It's been just a few months since the vehicles were unleashed onto city streets, so emergency room doctors say they're only beginning to collect data.
"We are seeing some scary injuries," said Dr. Chris Colwell, chief of emergency medicine for Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. "There's still a lack of recognition of how serious this can be."
Colwell said his emergency room is logging about 10 injuries a week. They range from extensive bruising to severe head trauma. Given the hills in San Francisco, he also sees a lot of road rash.
"We saw a guy who fell over on his back this week," Colwell said. "He ended up going through so many layers of skin, we had to essentially put him to sleep to clean out the gravel embedded in his back."
San Francisco General Hospital is in the unique position of being the only Level 1 trauma center in the city, which means all significant injuries pass through its emergency room. Colwell, along with other doctors and public health specialists, decided in August to conduct an official study on scooter injuries. The idea: to track accidents and identify patterns.
"We'll collect data over the next six months, just to get a snapshot of what's happening," said Dr. Catherine Juillard, trauma surgeon at the hospital and one of the study leads. "We have to remember this is a public health issue. We have to make sure people are safe and that lives are saved."
Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego began tracking injuries in late summer. Dr. Vishal Bansal, medical director of trauma at Scripps, said they've documented more than 30 cases, for an average of about 10 a month. These cases only involve scooter riders, not pedestrians hit by the vehicles.
If you hit the ground at 20mph [on a scooter] or a baseball bat hits your head at 20mph, that's about the same thing.Dr. Christopher Ziebell, emergency room medical director
In Austin, the rate of accidents appears to be even higher. Doctors in Dell Seton's emergency room say they're seeing about 10 injuries a day.
"The vast majority end up getting discharged with cuts and scrapes, maybe a broken bone," said Ziebell. "But some injuries are significant."
The hospital has seen 37 severe traumas since April: eight head injuries, 23 orthopedic injuries, four facial injuries and two "other" injuries. In October alone, doctors say 18 people were admitted to either the intensive care unit or surgeries with overnight hospital stays.
"The folks that had severe head injuries, they're in for a long course of rehab," Ziebell said. "Some people may need lifelong care, like a nursing home."
"If you hit the ground at 20 miles per hour [on a scooter] or a baseball bat hits your head at 20 miles per hour, that's about the same thing," he added.
Do's and don'tsWith every disastrous accident, the scooter companies repeat the same mantra: "Safety is our very top priority," a Bird spokeswoman said.
"We strongly recommend reporting any damaged scooters or incidents that Bird scooters are involved in, as we have a support team dedicated to safety that is available around the clock to address questions and reports we receive," she added.
A Lime spokesman said, "Safety is incredibly important to Lime, and we're constantly educating our riders and developing new tools to promote safety and prevent accidents on our platform."
Other scooter companies have vehicles on city streets, too, including Scoot, Skip, Spin, Lyft and Uber's Jump. But Bird and Lime have more scooters in more cities than their rivals do. Lime said it's given more than 20 million rides around the world, and Bird's latest numbers show it's given more than 10 million. The scooters cost $1 to rent plus 15 cents for every minute of riding time.
Nearly 100 US cities now have dockless electric scooters for rent.
James Martin Bird and Lime are in the process of rolling out their own in-house scooter models, but for now they still use vehicles made by third-party manufacturers, including Xiaomi and Segway.
When someone buys one of these $500 scooters off the shelf, they get a user manual on vehicle maintenance and the do's and don'ts of riding. Recommendations include "wear a helmet," "avoid contacting obstacles with the tire" and be aware of speed because "the faster the scooter is, the longer it takes to stop." They say a rider should weigh no more than 220 pounds.
Xiaomi and Segway say scooters should be checked before every use and stored in a "cool, dry place." They also say not to ride in the rain or keep scooters outdoors for extended periods, adding that exposure to sunlight and extreme temperatures can "accelerate aging and compromise the scooter."
These recommendations aren't necessarily being followed with rentable scooters.
Bird and Lime warn riders only about hills and obstacles in online video tutorials, which aren't mandatory to watch. You'll see people of all sizes zooming along and even riding double. And the vehicles are usually kept outdoors all day and likely aren't being checked before each use. That doesn't even include what happens to scooters that are also being vandalized.
The fine print of Bird and Lime's user agreements tells riders not to exceed weight limits and to do a basic safety check beforehand. This inspection includes examining the brakes, lights, condition of the frame and trueness of the wheels. It's unclear if most riders know how to do this.
Lime had to recall one of its scooter models , made by the manufacturer Okai, earlier this month after a pattern emerged in which the vehicles' handlebars detached from the baseboard during rides. Company mechanics reportedly tested the scooters and found that some of them broke in half after only a few small hops, according to the Washington Post. More than 40 people reported being thrown from the scooters after the vehicles snapped midride.
"We are actively looking into reports that scooters manufactured by Okai may break," the Lime spokesman said. "As a precaution, we immediately decommissioned all Okai scooters in the global fleet."
Doctors say the fact that very few people wear helmets is also contributing to the rise in serious injuries.
Bird and Lime do have small stickers affixed to their scooters telling people to wear helmets, but the vehicles don't actually come with helmets. Colwell said only about 30 percent of scooter riders wear helmets, while around 72 percent of cyclists wear them.
Lime launched a $3 million safety campaign earlier this month called "Respect the Ride" that promotes safe riding behavior and gives out free helmets. And Bird says it'll also send a free helmet to anyone who uses its scooters. So far, Bird said it's given away more than 50,000 helmets.
But Bird was also instrumental in repealing California's helmet law for electric scooters. Under current state law, people must wear helmets while riding these vehicles, which can travel at 15 mph. Bird sponsored a bill in February to get rid of that law, which passed in September. Starting January, helmets will no longer be required for scooter riders in California.
Bird said its goal in sponsoring the legislation was to create "consistent ridership rules" between e-scooters and e-bikes since helmets aren't required with e-bikes.
You assume all responsibilityWhen you sign up to rent a scooter, you must click a button that says you agree to the app's terms of service.
This lengthy multiscreen agreement basically says users take on all responsibility for what happens during rides. Even when it may "result in injury or death to you or others," as Lime's agreement states.
That means if a car hits you, it's your responsibility. You hit a pedestrian? You're liable. What if the scooter's brakes fail? Still your fault.
"Rider agrees that Vehicles are machines that may malfunction," reads Bird's agreement. "Rider assumes full and complete responsibility for all related risks, dangers, and hazards."
Bird scooters are affixed with stickers that say "Ride Safely."
Dara Kerr/CNET These terms of service are similar to what people agree to when they sign up for apps like Uber and Lyft. The Lime spokesman said its agreement is "designed to be user friendly, and is written in plain language so that our riders are properly informed."
"Sometimes accidents do happen," he added, "which is why we have insurance policies and processes in place to support our riders and investigate all incidents."
Despite the user agreements, lawyers across the country say they're still getting dozens of calls from people hurt in scooter accidents.
"No one has ever read that user agreement," said Catherine Lerer, attorney for Santa Monica-based firm McGee, Lerer and Associates.
Lerer said she gets three to four calls a day. It got to be so much that she decided to file a class-action lawsuit against Bird, Lime, Xiaomi and Segway in October. The suit was filed on behalf of nine clients and lists 15 counts against the companies, including aiding and abetting assaults and gross negligence.
"Over and over, it's the same malfunctions that I'm hearing -- the brakes failing, the throttle sticks and the scooter dies midride," Lerer said. "Something is not right."
"The scooter companies like to say safety is their number one priority, but prove it," she added.
Xiaomi and Segway didn't return requests for comment.
When asked to comment on the lawsuit, the Bird spokeswoman said, "Class-action attorneys with a real interest in improving transportation safety should be focused on reducing the 40,000 deaths caused by cars every year in the US."
Bryant Greening, attorney for the firm LegalRideshare in Chicago, said he's also gotten calls from scooter riders. The most common injuries he's hearing about involve user error, like when someone hits a pothole or runs into a curb and can't control the vehicle.
The scooter companies like to say safety is their number one priority, but prove it.Catherine Lerer, attorney
With their smaller wheels, scooters tend to be wobblier than bicycles and more susceptible to bumps in the road and uneven surfaces.
"If you hit a pothole on a bicycle with a big wheel, you could have a problem," forensic kinesiologist James Kent told CNET in an interview in July. "You hit a pothole on this little thing, you're going to go down."
Greening said such cases are difficult to litigate because it's hard to point to anything other than user error.
"You see these images of people bloody and broken and often there's no obvious recourse," Greening said. "These cases are so new and these companies are so new, they have not had the opportunity to make their way through the courts yet. It's still an evolving world."
Hospital billsAfter Brogan's crash, her husband rushed her to the local urgent care. While waiting to be seen by doctors, she got several in-app messages from Lime saying she hadn't ended her ride and was still accruing charges.
"Scooter unsafe no brakes now in emergency room multiple fractures," Brogan wrote back.
Once out of the hospital, she emailed Lime to fully recount what happened. They had a brief back-and-forth in which Lime told her to file a claim for review. Brogan wrote back saying her out-of-pocket expenses totaled about $8,000 and asked if Lime would repay those losses. She said she never heard from the company again. Lime's spokesman declined to comment on Brogan's specific claim.
Now, three months later, the pins are out of her knuckles and her bruises have faded. She's still going through therapy to get movement and grip back in both of her hands. Even after everything, Brogan still appreciates the idea of electric scooters -- with some reservations.
"It's a great concept," she said. "But it's not ready for prime time."
CNET's Holiday Gift Guide: The place to find the best tech gifts for 2018.
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VIDEO - Alexander Acosta gave Jeffrey Epstein the deal of a lifetime | Miami Herald
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:29
How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime A decade before #MeToo, a multimillionaire sex offender from Florida got the ultimate break.
On a muggy October morning in 2007, Miami's top federal prosecutor, Alexander Acosta, had a breakfast appointment with a former colleague, Washington, D.C., attorney Jay Lefkowitz.
It was an unusual meeting for the then-38-year-old prosecutor, a rising Republican star who had served in several White House posts before being named U.S. attorney in Miami by President George W. Bush.
Instead of meeting at the prosecutor's Miami headquarters, the two men '-- both with professional roots in the prestigious Washington law firm of Kirkland & Ellis '-- convened at the Marriott in West Palm Beach, about 70 miles away. For Lefkowitz, 44, a U.S. special envoy to North Korea and corporate lawyer, the meeting was critical.
His client, Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 54, was accused of assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls '-- with the help of young female recruiters '-- to coerce into having sex acts behind the walls of his opulent waterfront mansion as often as three times a day, the Town of Palm Beach police found.
At this home on El Brillo Way in Palm Beach, young girls, recruited by other young girls, would arrive by car or taxi, be greeted in the kitchen by a member of Jeffrey Epstein's staff and ascend a staircase. They were met by Epstein, clad in a towel.
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com
The eccentric hedge fund manager, whose friends included former President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew, was also suspected of trafficking minor girls, often from overseas, for sex parties at his other homes in Manhattan, New Mexico and the Caribbean, FBI and court records show.
Facing a 53-page federal indictment, Epstein could have ended up in federal prison for the rest of his life.
But on the morning of the breakfast meeting, a deal was struck '-- an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein's crimes and the number of people involved.
Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal '-- called a non-prosecution agreement '-- essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein's sex crimes, according to a Miami Herald examination of thousands of emails, court documents and FBI records.
The pact required Epstein to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. Epstein and four of his accomplices named in the agreement received immunity from all federal criminal charges. But even more unusual, the deal included wording that granted immunity to ''any potential co-conspirators'' who were also involved in Epstein's crimes. These accomplices or participants were not identified in the agreement, leaving it open to interpretation whether it possibly referred to other influential people who were having sex with underage girls at Epstein's various homes or on his plane.
As part of the arrangement, Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims. As a result, the non-prosecution agreement was sealed until after it was approved by the judge, thereby averting any chance that the girls '-- or anyone else '-- might show up in court and try to derail it.
This is the story of how Epstein, bolstered by unlimited funds and represented by a powerhouse legal team, was able to manipulate the criminal justice system, and how his accusers, still traumatized by their pasts, believe they were betrayed by the very prosecutors who pledged to protect them.
''I don't think anyone has been told the truth about what Jeffrey Epstein did,'' said one of Epstein's victims, Michelle Licata, now 30. ''He ruined my life and a lot of girls' lives. People need to know what he did and why he wasn't prosecuted so it never happens again.''
Now President Trump's secretary of labor, Acosta, 49, oversees a massive federal agency that provides oversight of the country's labor laws, including human trafficking. He also has been on a list of possible replacements for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned under pressure earlier this month.
Acosta did not respond to numerous requests for an interview or answer queries through email.
Alexander Acosta, now President Donald Trump's secretary of labor, was the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida when he negotiated an end to the federal investigation of Jeffrey Epstein.
Florida International University
But court records reveal details of the negotiations and the role that Acosta would play in arranging the deal, which scuttled the federal probe into a possible international sex trafficking operation. Among other things, Acosta allowed Epstein's lawyers unusual freedoms in dictating the terms of the non-prosecution agreement.
''The damage that happened in this case is unconscionable,'' said Bradley Edwards, a former state prosecutor who represents some of Epstein's victims. ''How in the world, do you, the U.S. attorney, engage in a negotiation with a criminal defendant, basically allowing that criminal defendant to write up the agreement?''
As a result, neither the victims '-- nor even the judge '-- would know how many girls Epstein allegedly sexually abused between 2001 and 2005, when his underage sex activities were first uncovered by police. Police referred the case to the FBI a year later, when they began to suspect that their investigation was being undermined by the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office.
Not a 'he said, she said'''This was not a 'he said, she said' situation. This was 50-something 'shes' and one 'he' '-- and the 'shes' all basically told the same story,'' said retired Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter, who supervised the police probe.
More than a decade later, at a time when Olympic gymnasts and Hollywood actresses have become a catalyst for a cultural reckoning about sexual abuse, Epstein's victims have all but been forgotten.
The women '-- now in their late 20s and early 30s '-- are still fighting for an elusive justice that even the passage of time has not made right.
Like other victims of sexual abuse, they believe they've been silenced by a criminal justice system that stubbornly fails to hold Epstein and other wealthy and powerful men accountable.
''Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless. He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right,'' said Courtney Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein.
Courtney Wild, 31, was a victim of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein beginning at the age of 14. Epstein paid Wild, and many other underage girls, to give him massages, often having them undress and perform sexual acts. Epstein also used the girls as recruiters, paying them to bring him other underage girls.
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com
Over the past year, the Miami Herald examined a decade's worth of court documents, lawsuits, witness depositions and newly released FBI documents. Key people involved in the investigation '-- most of whom have never spoken before '-- were also interviewed. The Herald also obtained new records, including the full unredacted copy of the Palm Beach police investigation and witness statements that had been kept under seal.
The Herald learned that, as part of the plea deal, Epstein provided what the government called ''valuable consideration'' for unspecified information he supplied to federal investigators. While the documents obtained by the Herald don't detail what the information was, Epstein's sex crime case happened just as the country's subprime mortgage market collapsed, ushering in the 2008 global financial crisis.
Records show that Epstein was a key federal witness in the criminal prosecution of two prominent executives with Bear Stearns, the global investment brokerage that failed in 2008, who were accused of corporate securities fraud. Epstein was one of the largest investors in the hedge fund managed by the executives, who were later acquitted. It is not known what role, if any, the case played in Epstein's plea negotiations.
The Herald also identified about 80 women who say they were molested or otherwise sexually abused by Epstein from 2001 to 2006. About 60 of them were located '-- now scattered around the country and abroad. Eight of them agreed to be interviewed, on or off the record. Four of them were willing to speak on video.
The women are now mothers, wives, nurses, bartenders, Realtors, hairdressers and teachers. One is a Hollywood actress. Several have grappled with trauma, depression and addiction. Some have served time in prison.
A few did not survive. One young woman was found dead last year in a rundown motel in West Palm Beach. She overdosed on heroin and left behind a young son.
Support investigative journalismThe Miami Herald obtained thousands of FBI and court records, lawsuits, and witness depositions, and went to federal court in New York to access sealed documents in the reporting of "Perversion of Justice." The Herald also tracked down more than 60 women who said they were victims, some of whom had never spoken of the abuse before.
Your digital subscription, starting at $0.99 for the first month, supports investigative journalism like this.
As part of Epstein's agreement, he was required to register as a sex offender, and pay restitution to the three dozen victims identified by the FBI. In many cases, the confidential financial settlements came only after Epstein's attorneys exposed every dark corner of their lives in a scorched-earth effort to portray the girls as gold diggers.
''You beat yourself up mentally and physically,'' said Jena-Lisa Jones, 30, who said Epstein molested her when she was 14. ''You can't ever stop your thoughts. A word can trigger something. For me, it is the word 'pure' because he called me 'pure' in that room and then I remember what he did to me in that room.''
Now, more than a decade later, two unrelated civil lawsuits '-- one set for trial on Dec. 4 '-- could reveal more about Epstein's crimes. The Dec. 4 case, in Palm Beach County state court, involves Epstein and Edwards, whom Epstein had accused of legal misdeeds in representing several victims. The case is noteworthy because it will mark the first time that Epstein's victims will have their day in court, and several of them are scheduled to testify.
Jena-Lisa Jones, with her 18-month-old son, Raymond, says she was 14 when she was introduced to Jeffrey Epstein and was paid $200 by him to give him a massage at his home. Jones says Epstein told her to take off all of her clothes and that he fondled her during the massage.
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com
A second lawsuit, known as the federal Crime Victims' Rights suit, is still pending in South Florida after a decade of legal jousting. It seeks to invalidate the non-prosecution agreement in hopes of sending Epstein to federal prison. Wild, who has never spoken publicly until now, is Jane Doe No. 1 in ''Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2 vs. the United States of America,'' a federal lawsuit that alleges Epstein's federal non-prosecution agreement was illegal.
Federal prosecutors, including Acosta, not only broke the law, the women contend in court documents, but they conspired with Epstein and his lawyers to circumvent public scrutiny and deceive his victims in violation of the Crime Victims' Rights Act. The law assigns victims a series of rights, including the right of notice of any court proceedings and the opportunity to appear at sentencing.
''As soon as that deal was signed, they silenced my voice and the voices of all of Jeffrey Epstein's other victims,'' said Wild, now 31. ''This case is about justice, not just for us, but for other victims who aren't Olympic stars or Hollywood stars.''
In court papers, federal prosecutors have argued that they did not violate the Crime Victims' Rights Act because no federal charges were ever filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, an argument that was later dismissed by the judge.
Despite substantial physical evidence and multiple witnesses backing up the girls' stories, the secret deal allowed Epstein to enter guilty pleas to two felony prostitution charges. Epstein admitted to committing only one offense against one underage girl, who was labeled a prostitute, even though she was 14, which is well under the age of consent '-- 18 in Florida.
''She was taken advantage of twice '-- first by Epstein, and then by the criminal justice system that labeled a 14-year-old girl as a prostitute,'' said Spencer Kuvin, the lawyer who represented the girl.
''It's just outrageous how they minimized his crimes and devalued his victims by calling them prostitutes,'' said Yasmin Vafa, a human rights attorney and executive director of Rights4Girls, which is working to end the sexual exploitation of girls and young women.
''There is no such thing as a child prostitute. Under federal law, it's called child sex trafficking '-- whether Epstein pimped them out to others or not. It's still a commercial sex act '-- and he could have been jailed for the rest of his life under federal law,'' she said.
It would be easy to dismiss the Epstein case as another example of how there are two systems of justice in America, one for the rich and one for the poor. But a thorough analysis of the case tells a far more troubling story.
A close look at the trove of letters and emails contained in court records provides a window into the plea negotiations, revealing an unusual level of collaboration between federal prosecutors and Epstein's legal team that even government lawyers, in recent court documents, admitted was unorthodox.
Acosta, in 2011, would explain that he was unduly pressured by Epstein's heavy-hitting lawyers '-- Lefkowitz, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Jack Goldberger, Roy Black, former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, Gerald Lefcourt, and Kenneth Starr, the former Whitewater special prosecutor who investigated Bill Clinton's sexual liaisons with Monica Lewinsky.
'Avoid the press' planThat included keeping the deal from Epstein's victims, emails show.
''Thank you for the commitment you made to me during our Oct. 12 meeting,'' Lefkowitz wrote in a letter to Acosta after their breakfast meeting in West Palm Beach. He added that he was hopeful that Acosta would abide by a promise to keep the deal confidential.
''You ... assured me that your office would not ... contact any of the identified individuals, potential witnesses or potential civil claimants and the respective counsel in this matter,'' Lefkowitz wrote.
In email after email, Acosta and the lead federal prosecutor, A. Marie Villafa±a, acquiesced to Epstein's legal team's demands, which often focused on ways to limit the scandal by shutting out his victims and the media, including suggesting that the charges be filed in Miami, instead of Palm Beach, where Epstein's victims lived.
''On an 'avoid the press' note ... I can file the charge in district court in Miami which will hopefully cut the press coverage significantly. Do you want to check that out?'' Villafa±a wrote to Lefkowitz in a September 2007 email.
Federal prosecutors identified 36 underage victims, but none of those victims appeared at his sentencing on June 30, 2008, in state court in Palm Beach County. Most of them heard about it on the news '-- and even then they didn't understand what had happened to the federal probe that they'd been assured was ongoing.
Edwards filed an emergency motion in federal court to block the non-prosecution agreement, but by the time the agreement was unsealed '-- over a year later '-- Epstein had already served his sentence and been released from jail.
Attorney Bradley Edwards is representing several young women who say they were sexually abused as minors by Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Edwards' Fort Lauderdale law office is packed with files relating to the Epstein case.
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com
''The conspiracy between the government and Epstein was really 'let's figure out a way to make the whole thing go away as quietly as possible,' '' said Edwards, who represents Wild and Jane Doe No. 2, who declined to comment for this story.
''In never consulting with the victims, and keeping it secret, it showed that someone with money can buy his way out of anything.''
It was far from the last time Epstein would receive VIP handling. Unlike other convicted sex offenders, Epstein didn't face the kind of rough justice that child sex offenders do in Florida state prisons. Instead of being sent to state prison, Epstein was housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County jail. And rather than having him sit in a cell most of the day, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office allowed Epstein work release privileges, which enabled him to leave the jail six days a week, for 12 hours a day, to go to a comfortable office that Epstein had set up in West Palm Beach. This was granted despite explicit sheriff's department rules stating that sex offenders don't qualify for work release.
Jeffrey Epstein, accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage women, grins for his mugshot on Florida's sex offender registry. He once compared his crimes to 'stealing a bagel.'
Florida sex offender registry
The sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, would not answer questions, submitted by the Miami Herald, about Epstein's work release.
Neither Epstein nor his lead attorney, Jack Goldberger, responded to multiple requests for comment for this story. During depositions taken as part of two dozen lawsuits filed against him by his victims, Epstein has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, in one instance doing so more than 200 times.
In the past, his lawyers have said that the girls lied about their ages, that their stories were exaggerated or untrue and that they were unreliable witnesses prone to drug use.
In 2011, Epstein petitioned to have his sex offender status reduced in New York, where he has a home and is required to register every 90 days. In New York, he is classified as a level 3 offender '-- the highest safety risk because of his likelihood to re-offend.
A prosecutor under New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance argued on Epstein's behalf, telling New York Supreme Court Judge Ruth Pickholtz that the Florida case never led to an indictment and that his underage victims failed to cooperate in the case. Pickholtz, however, denied the petition, expressing astonishment that a New York prosecutor would make such a request on behalf of a serial sex offender accused of molesting so many girls.
''I have to tell you, I'm a little overwhelmed because I have never seen a prosecutor's office do anything like this. I have done so many [sex offender registration hearings] much less troubling than this one where the [prosecutor] would never make a downward argument like this,'' she said.
The house on El Brillo The women who went to Jeffrey Epstein's mansion as girls tend to divide their lives into two parts: life before Jeffrey and life after Jeffrey.
Before she met Epstein, Courtney Wild was captain of the cheerleading squad, first trumpet in the band and an A-student at Lake Worth Middle School.
After she met Epstein, she was a stripper, a drug addict and an inmate at Gadsden Correctional Institution in Florida's Panhandle.
Wild still had braces on her teeth when she was introduced to him in 2002 at the age of 14.
She was fair, petite and slender, blonde and blue-eyed. Wild, who later helped recruit other girls, said Epstein preferred girls who were white, appeared prepubescent and those who were easy to manipulate into going further each time.
''By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old. He was involved in my life for years,'' said Wild, who was released from prison in October after serving three years on drug charges.
The girls '-- mostly 13 to 16 '-- were lured to his pink waterfront mansion by Wild and other girls, who went to malls, house parties and other places where girls congregated, and told recruits that they could earn $200 to $300 to give a man '-- Epstein '-- a massage, according to an unredacted copy of the Palm Beach police investigation obtained by the Herald.
The lead Palm Beach police detective on the case, Joseph Recarey, said Epstein's operation worked like a sexual pyramid scheme.
Joseph Recarey, the former Palm Beach police detective who led the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein, said the millionaire's solicitation of sex with underage girls resembled a pyramid scheme. Its unraveling was similar, with one victim leading to two others, each of whom led to others, and so on.
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com
''The common interview with a girl went like this: 'I was brought there by so and so. I didn't feel comfortable with what happened, but I got paid well, so I was told if I didn't feel comfortable, I could bring someone else and still get paid,' '' Recarey said.
During the massage sessions, Recarey said Epstein would molest the girls, paying them premiums for engaging in oral sex and intercourse, and offering them a further bounty to find him more girls.
Recarey, in his first interview about the case, said the evidence the department collected to support the girls' stories was overwhelming, including phone call records, copies of written phone messages from the girls found in Epstein's trash and Epstein's flight logs, which showed his private plane in Palm Beach on the days the girls were scheduled to give him massages.
Epstein could be a generous benefactor, Recarey said, buying his favored girls gifts. He might rent a car for a young girl to make it more convenient for her to stop by and cater to him. Once, he sent a bucket of roses to the local high school after one of his girls starred in a stage production. The floral-delivery instructions and a report card for one of the girls were discovered in a search of his mansion and trash. Police also obtained receipts for the rental cars and gifts, Recarey said.
Epstein counseled the girls about their schooling, and told them he would help them get into college, modeling school, fashion design or acting. At least two of Epstein's victims told police that they were in love with him, according to the police report.
The police report shows how uncannily consistent the girls' stories were '-- right down to their detailed descriptions of Epstein's genitalia.
''We had victims who didn't know each other, never met each other and they all basically independently told the same story,'' said Reiter, the retired Palm Beach police chief.
Michael Reiter is the former chief of police in the Town of Palm Beach, and was the chief during the investigation of Jeffrey Epstein. He says the young women lured to Epstein's mansion didn't necessarily know each other but they told nearly identical stories.
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com
Reiter, also speaking for the first time, said detectives were astonished by the sheer volume of young girls coming and going from his house, the frequency '-- sometimes several in the same day '-- and the young ages of the girls.
''It started out to give a man a back rub, but in many cases it turned into something far worse than that, elevated to a serious crime, in some cases sexual batteries,'' he said.
Most of the girls said they arrived by car or taxi, and entered the side door, where they were led into a kitchen by a female staff assistant named Sarah Kellen, the report said. A chef might prepare them a meal or offer them cereal. The girls '-- most from local schools '-- would then ascend a staircase off the kitchen, up to a large master bedroom and bath.
They were met by Epstein, clad in a towel. He would select a lotion from an array lined up on a table, then lie facedown on a massage table, instruct the girl to strip partially or fully, and direct them to massage his feet and backside. Then he would turn over and have them massage his chest, often instructing them to pinch his nipples, while he masturbated, according to the police report.
At times, if emboldened, he would try to penetrate them with his fingers or use a vibrator on them. He would go as far as the girls were willing to let him, including intercourse, according to police documents. Sometimes he would instruct a young woman he described as his Yugoslavian sex slave, Nadia Marcinkova, who was over 18, to join in, the girls told Recarey. Epstein often took photographs of the girls having sex and displayed them around the house, the detective said.
Once sexually gratified, Epstein would take a shower in his massive bathroom, which the girls described as having a large shower and a hot pink and mint green sofa.
Kellen (now Vickers) and Marcinkova, through their attorneys, declined to comment for this story.
Never enough One girl told police that she was approached by an Epstein recruiter when she was 16, and was working at the Wellington mall. Over the course of more than a year, she went to Epstein's house hundreds of times, she said. The girl tearfully told Recarey that she often had sex with Marcinkova '-- who employed strap-on dildos and other toys '-- while Epstein watched and choreographed her moves to please himself, according to the police report. Often times, she said, she was so sore after the encounters that she could barely walk, the police report said.
But she said she was firm about not wanting to have intercourse with Epstein. One day, however, the girl said that Epstein, unable to control himself, held her down on a massage table and penetrated her, the police report said. The girl, who was 16 or 17 at the time, said that Epstein apologized and paid her $1,000, the police report said.
Most of the girls came from disadvantaged families, single-parent homes or foster care. Some had experienced troubles that belied their ages: They had parents and friends who committed suicide; mothers abused by husbands and boyfriends; fathers who molested and beat them. One girl had watched her stepfather strangle her 8-year-old stepbrother, according to court records obtained by the Herald.
Many of the girls were one step away from homelessness.
''We were stupid, poor children,'' said one woman, who did not want to be named because she never told anyone about Epstein. At the time, she recalled that she was 14 and a high school freshman.
''We just wanted money for school clothes, for shoes. I remember wearing shoes too tight for three years in a row. We had no family and no guidance, and we were told that we were going to just have to sit in a room topless and he was going to just look at us. It sounded so simple, and was going to be easy money for just sitting there.''
The woman, who went to Epstein's home multiple times, said Epstein didn't like her because her breasts were too big. The last time she went, she said, one girl came out crying and they were instructed to leave the house and had to pay for their own cab home.
Some girls told police they were coached by their peer recruiters to lie to Epstein about their ages and say they were 18. Epstein's legal team would later claim that even if the girls were under 18, there was no way he could have known. However, under Florida law, ignorance of a sex partner's age is not a defense for having sex with a minor.
Wild, who worked for Epstein until she was 21, said he was well aware of their tender ages '-- because he demanded they be young.
''He told me he wanted them as young as I could find them,'' she said, explaining that as she grew older and had less access to young girls, Epstein got increasingly angry with her inability to find him the young girls he desired.
''If I had a girl to bring him at breakfast, lunch and dinner, then that's how many times I would go a day. He wanted as many girls as I could get him. It was never enough.''
The pyramid crumblesEpstein's scheme first began to unravel in March 2005, when the parents of a 14-year-old girl told Palm Beach police that she had been molested by Epstein at his mansion. The girl reluctantly confessed that she had been brought there by two other girls, and those girls pointed to two more girls who had been there.
By the time detectives tracked down one victim, there were two and three more to find. Soon there were dozens.
Jeffrey Epstein's current private plane, painted a distinctive blue, is parked at an executive hub at Palm Beach International Airport on Thursday morning, May 24, 2018. It is how he shuttles between his homes in the Town of Palm Beach, New York City, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. During the decade when, police say, he sexually abused dozens of underage girls, he used a different plane, which tabloids nicknamed 'The Lolita Express.'
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com
''We didn't know where the victims would ever end,'' Reiter said.
Eventually, the girls told them about still other girls and young women they had seen at Epstein's house, many of whom didn't speak English, Recarey said. That led Recarey to suspect that Epstein's exploits weren't just confined to Palm Beach. Police obtained the flight logs for his private plane, and found female names and initials among the list of people who flew on the aircraft '-- including the names of some famous and powerful people who had also been passengers, Recarey said.
A newly released FBI report, posted on the bureau's website as a result of the Herald's Freedom of Information Act request, shows that at the time the non-prosecution deal was executed, the FBI was interviewing witnesses and victims ''from across the United States.'' The probe stretched from Florida to New York and New Mexico, records show.
Indeed, one lawsuit, still pending in New York, alleges that Epstein used an international modeling agency to recruit girls as young as 13 from Europe, Ecuador and Brazil. The girls lived in a New York building owned by Epstein, who paid for their visas, according to the sworn statement of Maritza Vasquez, the one-time bookkeeper for Mc2, the modeling agency.
Mike Fisten, a former Miami-Dade police sergeant who was also a homicide investigator and a member of the FBI Organized Crime Task Force, said the FBI had enough evidence to put Epstein away for a long time but was overruled by Acosta. Some of the agents involved in the case were disappointed by Acosta's bowing to pressure from Epstein's lawyers, he said.
Mike Fisten, a former Miami-Dade police sergeant and homicide detective who is now a private investigator with Bradley Edwards, attorney for some of Jeffrey Epstein's victims, says the punishment Epstein received was a 'joke.'
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com
''The day that a sitting U.S. attorney is afraid of a lawyer or afraid of a defendant is a very sad day in this country,'' said Fisten, now a private investigator for Edwards.
Suit/countersuit Now, a complex web of litigation could reveal more about Epstein's crimes. A lawsuit, set for trial Dec. 4 in Palm Beach County, involves the notorious convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, in whose law firm Edwards once worked.
In 2009, Epstein sued Edwards, alleging that Edwards was involved with Rothstein and was using the girls' civil lawsuits to perpetuate Rothstein's massive Ponzi operation. But Rothstein said Edwards didn't know about the scheme, and Epstein dropped the lawsuit.
Edwards countersued for malicious prosecution, arguing that Epstein sued him to retaliate for his aggressive representation of Epstein's victims.
Several women who went to Epstein's home as underage girls are scheduled to testify against him for the first time.
Florida state Sen. Lauren Book, a child sex abuse survivor who has lobbied for tough sex offender laws, said Epstein's case should serve as a tipping point for criminal cases involving sex crimes against children.
''Where is the righteous indignation for these women? Where are the protectors? Who is banging down the doors of the secretary of labor, or the judge or the sheriff's office in Palm Beach County, demanding justice and demanding the right to be heard?'' Book asked.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Villafa±a, in court papers, said that prosecutors used their ''best efforts'' to comply with the Crime Victims' Rights Act, but exercised their ''prosecutorial discretion'' when they chose not to notify the victims. The reasoning went like this: The non-prosecution deal had a restitution clause that provided the girls a chance to seek compensation from Epstein. Had the deal fallen through, necessitating a trial, Epstein's lawyers might have used the prior restitution clause to undermine the girls' credibility as witnesses, by claiming they had exaggerated Epstein's behavior in hopes of cashing in.
Acosta has never fully explained why he felt it was in the best interests of the underage girls '-- and their parents '-- for him to keep the agreement sealed. Or why the FBI investigation was closed even as, recently released documents show, the case was yielding more victims and evidence of a possible sex-trafficking conspiracy beyond Palm Beach.
Upon his nomination by Trump as labor secretary in 2017, Acosta was questioned about the Epstein case during a Senate confirmation hearing.
''At the end of the day, based on the evidence, professionals within a prosecutor's office decided that a plea that guarantees someone goes to jail, that guarantees he register [as a sex offender] generally and guarantees other outcomes, is a good thing,'' Acosta said of his decision to not prosecute Epstein federally.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in opposing Acosta for labor secretary, noted that ''his handling of a case involving sex trafficking of underage girls when he was a U.S. attorney suggests he won't put the interests of workers and everyday people ahead of the powerful and well-connected.''
Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who is one of the nation's leading advocates for reforming laws involving sex crimes against children, said what Acosta and other prosecutors did is similar to what the Catholic Church did to protect pedophile priests.
''The real crime with the Catholic priests was the way they covered it up and shielded the priests,'' Hamilton said. ''The orchestration of power by men only is protected as long as everybody agrees to keep it secret. This is a story the world needs to hear.''
Support investigative journalismThe Miami Herald obtained thousands of FBI and court records, lawsuits, and witness depositions, and went to federal court in New York to access sealed documents in the reporting of "Perversion of Justice." The Herald also tracked down more than 60 women who said they were victims, some of whom had never spoken of the abuse before.
Your digital subscription, starting at $0.99 for the first month, supports investigative journalism like this.
VIDEO - It's Time for Your Job Interview. You'll Be Talking to Yourself - WSJ
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:26
The questions sound familiar: ''Describe a time when you went above and beyond;'' ''Tell me about a time when you had to deliver bad news to a customer.''
But in this telephone job interview, there is a twist: No human is on the other end of the line.
As companies compete for workers in the tightest labor market in decades, more employers are trying to streamline the hiring process to nab promising candidates before they can get away. For some, that has meant rethinking the tried-and-true phone interview, rolling out one-sided, automated exchanges in which applicants give recorded responses to a series of questions.
It is much like leaving a voice mail'--only one with a job on the line.
Major companies such as laboratory-test provider Quest Diagnostics Inc., hospital operator HCA Healthcare Inc. and insurer Allstate Insurance Co. use such interviews for some hiring, as do retailers, restaurant chains and law firms. In May, job site Indeed introduced a set of text- and audio-based skills tests for employers to assess job candidates at no extra cost, including an option for a one-way phone interview, meaning that even the smallest U.S. businesses can now use them in the hiring process.
Jeremy Maffei took his first-ever automated interview in October after applying for a role as a digital marketing specialist at a small marketing agency in Florida. The interview lasted less than 10 minutes, but Mr. Maffei said it threw him off. ''I blanked out,'' the 42-year-old recalled. He was asked to describe his biggest success and failure, yet with no one on the line, he couldn't tell whether his responses resonated. ''It's highly impersonal,'' he said.
Some employers say such interviews are more efficient and candidate-friendly. Applicants can take the interviews at any time of day, even after work, and the answers can later be reviewed by a hiring manager. The goal, those companies say, is speed.
With the unemployment rate at 3.7% and job openings outnumbering unemployed Americans by more than one million, companies want to lock in hires as quickly as they can, recruiters say.
''There's a little bit of this, 'Ready, aim, fire: We've just got to get bodies in the door,''' said Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., which helps job seekers.
The rise in phone interviewing is, in many ways, counterintuitive. More advanced hiring techniques exist, such as automated video or text interviews. Some companies, though, have shifted back to voice screenings, finding them more effective, particularly for hourly roles.
The Wisconsin job-recruiting firm Cielo, which hires 150,000 workers annually on behalf of clients, has found applicants far more likely to complete an audio interview than a video one, said Adam Godson, the company's senior vice president of global technology solutions.
Over the phone, applicants needn't worry about their appearance or their location, nor do they have to have access to a smartphone or a computer with a camera, Mr. Godson said.
Some job seekers, though, say they're still acclimating to them. Bob Lichty, a 49-year-old in South Bend, Ind., has taken two automated phone interviews for separate sales director roles at arts organizations in recent months. One lasted 45 minutes. ''Phone interviews are hard enough,'' Mr. Lichty said. ''When you throw this automated thing out there, it's like, 'Wow, I have no idea how this is going at all. I don't know if I'm killing it with my dad jokes, or if should I just leave them out.' ''
Quest, a Cielo client, uses automated phone interviews to hire phlebotomists, specimen processors and other employees. Lara Gartenberg, Quest's senior director of talent acquisition, said an applicant can take an interview at night, and the person's answers are reviewed by a Cielo representative in the Philippines or Singapore. A U.S. recruiter will find notes the next morning on whether the applicant is a fit and will schedule another interview, if the applicant makes the cut, she said.
HarQen LLC, a 25-person Milwaukee company that makes software behind those automated interviews, has more than 150 clients, from law offices to hospitals and staffing firms, says Suzanne Kinkel, HarQen's president. Allstate and HCA use automated voice interview software made by interviewing-technology firm Montage, said Montage Chief Executive Kurt Heikkinen. Allstate said it has used the technology for several years, while HCA said it uses it on a ''limited basis.''
Trash-hauler Waste Management Inc. began using on-demand voice interviews a few months ago for most front-line roles, including drivers and technicians. The company has seen a 5- to 7-day improvement in the time it takes candidates to complete a phone interview, which ''contributes to a faster hiring process,'' said Melkeya McDuffie, vice president of talent.
Darlene Racinelli, a Temecula, Calif., financial controller with 30 years of experience, recently had her second automated phone interview. She had applied for a financial controller role at a Texas manufacturer and found automated interviews frustrating because she couldn't ask questions to better understand the company.
When the system asked her to describe her most-difficult challenge'--a stock job-interview question'--she decided she had enough. ''At that point,'' she said, ''I hit 9 and just ended it.''
Write to Chip Cutter at chip.cutter@wsj.com
VIDEO - German police raid Deutsche Bank offices in money-laundering probe
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 14:17
German police raided Deutsche Bank's offices in Frankfurt on Thursday in a probe of money laundering against the country's flagship lender.
Two Deutsche Bank staff members are suspected of helping clients set up off-shore businesses to launder money gained from criminal deeds.
Some 170 police officers, prosecutors and tax inspectors searched six of Deutsche Bank's offices Thursday morning, Frankfurt's public prosecutor's office said in a statement.
Numerous written and electronic business documents were seized, it added.
Andreas Arnold | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A police officer passes a gate outside the headquarters of Deutsche Bank AG in Frankfurt, Germany, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018.
"We confirm that police are currently investigating our bank at various locations in Germany. The investigation concerns the Panama Papers," Deutsche Bank said in a statement, according to a CNBC translation.
"We will share more details as soon as we have them and we will cooperate with authorities," the bank added.
Shares of the bank slipped toward the bottom of the European benchmark on the news, down more than 3 percent at 1 p.m. London time (8 a.m. ET). U.S.-listed shares of Deutsche Bank fell 3.7 percent in premarket trade.
Panama PapersThe public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt said an evaluation of data from the Panama Papers had triggered suspicion that the bank may have helped customers create offshore companies in tax havens around the world.
In 2016 alone, more than 900 customers with a business volume of 311 million euros ($353.6 million) were thought to have been cared for by a Deutsche Bank subsidiary based in the British Virgin Islands, the prosecutor said.
"We thought that we had provided to the authorities all the relevant information regarding Panama Papers and of course we will now cooperate closely with the prosecutors here in Frankfurt. '... As it is also in our interest to clarify the facts as soon as possible," Joerg Eigendorf, global head of communications at Deutsche Bank, told CNBC's Annette Weisbach on Thursday.
"We have proven on several occasions that we have been willing to cooperate closely with the authorities when needed '-- and authorities even have confirmed that. We will now continue in this spirit and as soon as we have new facts we will let you know," he added.
The Panama Papers scandal refers to a leak of millions of documents to the media by Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca in 2016. It triggered a global scandal after showing how the rich and powerful allegedly used offshore companies to evade taxes.
The papers have resulted in several banks, including Swedish lenders Nordea and Handelsbanken, being found guilty of breaching money laundering laws.
After years of losses, many investors have lost faith with Deutsche Bank.
Since 2015, the lender '-- which once had ambitions of competing on equal terms with Wall Street's banking giants '-- has endured a failed stress test in the U.S., several attempts to restructure, a leadership shake-up and a ratings downgrade.
Shares of the bank have tumbled almost 50 percent this year.
VIDEO - SABC EXCLUSIVE: Family believes Mark Minnie did not commit suicide - YouTube
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 23:38
VIDEO - (6) Tom Elliott on Twitter: "Obama: "Suddenly America is the largest oil producer, that was me people ... say thank you." https://t.co/VfQfX1SR0x" / Twitter
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 16:08
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VIDEO - Olivia Askes ðŸ‡"🇱ðŸ'› on Twitter: "BREAKING The #EuropeanUnion wants to criminalize criticism of #migration! You will not be allowed to say anything negative about #Immigrants. Are they out of their mind?! #YellowWinter #UN #Refugees'... https:
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 14:39
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VIDEO - Social Media Plot and The Demise of Our Future (Grannon-Vaknin Conversation) - YouTube
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 13:09
VIDEO - Professor Says Banning These Words Would Fix Free Speech on Campus
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 11:48
University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax is accustomed to political wrongthink.
Wax has a bachelor's degree from Yale College, a medical degree from Harvard, and a law degree from Columbia. But none of those was enough to exempt her from being on the receiving end of a full-fledged campaign to get her fired. Nor was arguing 15 cases before the Supreme Court on behalf of the Justice Department, but that's beside the point.
Wax doesn't fear being called racist, sexist, or xenophobic, probably because she's been called many of those names before. Instead of retreating to the safety of her tenure when things get tough, she doubles down'--demanding debate, evidence, and accountability.
Students and colleagues alike have attacked Wax for making the apparently offensive case that traditional marriage values lead to better results for children, and for putting forth the radical argument that many of the country's problems are a symptom of the breakdown of the ''bourgeois culture'' (the 1940s and '50s way of life).
In making that argument, Wax addressed the fact that things weren't perfect back then, but like clockwork, her critics called her ''racist and classist'' anyway.
The straw that really broke the camel's back, however, happened when student activists searching for dirt on Wax unearthed a 2017 podcast interview she did with economist and Brown University professor Glenn Loury.
In the interview, Wax said this when addressing the issue of affirmative action: ''I don't think I've ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of [my] class, and rarely, rarely, in the top half. I can think of one or two students who scored in the first half of my required first-year Civil Procedure course.''
Grades at the University of Pennsylvania are name-blind (meaning the instructor covers up students' names prior to grading), so Wax says it'd be impossible to discriminate.
Critics jumped on her statement, interpreting it to mean ''Amy Wax said black students can't excel in law school.'' Eventually, the University of Pennsylvania Law School relieved Wax of her teaching duties for first-year law students.
In a Nov. 8 speech at The Heritage Foundation, Wax talked about the fallout of her politically incorrect statements in depth, and put forth tangible ideas about how to counter a radical, identity-based grievance culture that's now rampant in university life.
First and foremost, Wax said, ''Remind students that one of the central missions of the university, which justifies its existence, is to get at the truth.'' She said:
That requires honest debate, patience, intellectual honesty, investigation, and a lot of hard work. But it also is not for the faint of heart. And that is a lesson that is almost never transmitted today. That offense, bruising thoughts, and unpleasant facts simply go with the territory. They are an intrinsic feature of an open society, and they never can be entirely avoided.
Next, Wax argued for censorship of speech'--but not in the way you might think.
Here are her ideas, implemented as guidelines in her seminars and upper-level classes, lightly edited for clarity:
No one can be heard to say, 'I'm offended.' They all have permission to be offended. But they just can't express it.
No one is allowed to accuse anyone else, in the classroom or out, dead or alive, of being racist, sexist, xenophobic, white supremist, or any other derisive, identity-based label. No slurs or name-calling. These don't enlighten, educate, or edify. They add nothing. Give us an argument. Tell us why the other person is wrong.
No one can complain to administrators'--those officious thought police'--about anything said in class.
Finally, both the government and private donors need to rethink the lavish financial support for higher education, and especially for elite and selective institutions, which serve only a teeny-tiny portion of our population and which in many ways, I'm afraid, have become an anti-Western and anti-American liability.
How can we get the rich to see that supporting elite universities today might not be the wisest and more fruitful uses of their hard-earned money? What we need is a list of alternative causes and alternative institutions and goals for their money that help ordinary, average, unspecial people who have been unduly neglected by our elites and our increasingly walled off from them.
Wax expressed doubt that classrooms on college campuses would adopt these guidelines anytime soon.
''The question is whether there's any hope of such protocols being implemented on a wide scale. In the current climate, I doubt it,'' she said.
Until then, she expects the threat against politically incorrect professors will get worse.
''Professors who hold unpopular positions or state inconvenient facts are now considered psychologically toxic,'' Wax said, adding:
If their presence causes offense, distress, feelings of insult, fears of ill treatment, that is enough to eject them from the classroom. And of course, these perceptions and feelings are subjective, they are self-confirming, they are immune from challenge. It's all in the mind of the beholder. And the beholder's mind reigns supreme.
Hear more from Amy Wax in The Daily Signal's upcoming edition of ''Problematic Women,'' where we ask her about #MeToo, feminism, and gender roles.
VIDEO - VIDEO: Hillary suffers massive coughing fit during first tour stop - The American MirrorThe American Mirror
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 05:53
The Clintons kicked off their speaking tour with Hillary suffering from an uncontrollable coughing fit.
While addressing a half-empty crowd at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada, on Tuesday night, the former secretary of state
During the first stop of ''An Evening With The Clintons,'' Hillary was asked a question about Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
Before she could begin her usual spill about how Russia cost her the election, Clinton was completely overtaken by an uncontrollable cough.
>>
As Clinton couldn't shake the cough for several seconds, the moderator asked her husband, former President Bill Clinton, about climate change.
While the moderator was speaking with the former president, Hillary could not stop coughing and compose herself.
Aside from lingering questions about her ailing health, the former first family appeared to be speaking to hundreds of empty seats on the first day of their tour.
Just hours before the start of the event, TicketMaster revealed that there were still hundreds of tickets that are available.
When the Clintons announced their 13-city speak tour, they marketed it as a ''one of a kind conversation.''
But based on the embarrassing ticket sales, it appears not many are interested.
Aside from the humiliation of the former first family speaking to a half-empty arena and Hillary suffering from chronic coughing, this has been a tough year for the Clintons bank account.
The Clinton Foundation has suffered a massive decrease in donations over a three-year period.
Financial documents from the foundation show that between 2014 and 2017, donations decreased by roughly 90 percent.
In 2015, the Clinton Foundation reported a jaw-dropping $182.5 million. The following year, it dipped to $134.4 million, but remained strong leading up to the presidential election.
But in 2017, after the former first lady suffered her embarrassing loss to President Donald Trump and was no longer in politics, donations to the foundation dropped to $22.8 million.
There are a variety of reasons for why the contributions to the Clinton Foundation are down 90 percent. But the most obvious explanation is that when they can't play, no one wants to pay.
VIDEO - MSNBC Guest Trashes 'Unfit,' 'Huckster-in-Chief,' 'Racist-in-Chief' President Trump
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 19:00
During Saturday's edition of AM Joy, host Joy Reid engaged in a discussion with Will Fischer of votevets.org, Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, and MSNBC Contributor Malcolm Nance about what they saw as the President's lukewarm attitude toward the military and his tendency to use them as political props. Throughout the roughly ten-minute long segment, Reid and her guests did not hesitate to trash President Trump; whom they described as a ''huckster-in-chief,'' ''racist-in-chief, ''placeholder-in-chief,'' ''physical coward,'' and an ''emotional, mental coward.''
Reid began the segment by playing a clip of one of President Trump's phone calls to the military on Thanksgiving, where he complained about the situation at the southern border with Mexico and the ''totally out of control'' Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Reid described the phone call as ''strange'' and ''really bizarre,'' while Fischer of votevets.org argued that the phone call demonstrated ''his inability to serve as Commander-in-Chief.'' Fischer asked, ''Does he have the ability to act as a huckster-in-chief? Does he have the ability to act as a racist-in-chief? Yes, he does. But he is unfit and unable to fulfill his Constitutional role as Commander-in-Chief.''
After quipping that President Trump ''has been avoiding combat zones since the 1960s,'' Fischer went on to accuse President Trump of using the military as ''nothing more than political props to try and advance his own racist, nativist, backwards agenda.''
After Reid played a clip of President Trump's interview with Fox News's Chris Wallace, where he expressed his regret for not visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans' Day, Nance described President Trump as a ''physical coward'' before arguing that he refused to visit Arlington because ''he is frightened of facing the situation that it will be made clear that if he goes to these military cemeteries...that he will be reminded of his own cowardice.'' Nance went on to call the President a ''disgrace'' and ''placeholder'' and argued that he did not want to visit the World War I Cemeteries in France because he ''does not want to be reminded of the fact that he is incapable of being brave and serving his nation. He is exploiting the nation and that's all he cares about.''
A transcript of the relevant portion of Saturday's edition of AM Joy is below. Click ''expand'' to read more.
AM Joy
11/24/18
10:38 AM
JOY REID: President Obama celebrated this Thanksgiving by volunteering at a Chicago food bank. There he is, getting hugs. Donald Trump opted to go in a different direction, spending time at his Mar-a-Lago private membership club. And instead of giving back this holiday or giving thanks, he seemed to embrace the festivous tradition of airing of grievances during the traditional Thanksgiving Day phone call meant to thank U.S. troops stationed overseas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: You probably see over the news what's happening in our southern border and our southern border territory. Large numbers of people and in many cases we have no idea who they are, and in many cases they're not good people. They're bad people. It's a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services, when they tell you how to protect your border. It's a disgrace. And I know that Chief Justice Roberts, John Roberts, has been speaking a little bit about it and I think we could have a lot of respect for him. I like him and I respect him. But I think we have to use some common sense. The 9th Circuit, everybody knows it's totally out of control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Wow. Well for someone who claims to love the military so much, Trump has spent the last two weeks skipping a World War I commemoration in France due to rain, not visiting Arlington Cemetery on the Monday after Veterans' Day because he was ''extremely busy,'' even though his public schedule showed nothing on his calendar and insulting the Navy S.E.A.L who led the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. Joining me now is MSNBC Contributor Malcolm Nance, Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, and Will Fischer, Director of Government Relations at votevets.org. Thank you all for being here. I'm going to go to you first on this, Will, Donald Trump, that call was so strange. He talked about himself going to Wharton. He talked about all sorts of extraneous things about the economy. He said he's letting the troops win. They weren't ever winning before but now he's letting them win. It was really bizarre. I read the transcript before I listened to the clips. Either way, it was bizarre. How do you think members of the military received that particular message from this President?
WILL FISCHER: Well, I think the word best describe it is just unfit and Donald Trump, that was just a display of his inability to serve as commander in chief. Does he have the ability to act as a huckster-in-chief? Does he have the ability to act as a racist- in-chief? Yes, he does. But he is unfit and unable to fulfill his Constitutional role as Commander-in-Chief and people in the military, they absolutely notice that. And that's why we are seeing support for President Trump among the active duty ranks and certainly among the veteran community, erode on nearly a daily basis.
REID: You know, it's just interesting just for a second Will because, you know that, traditionally, you know, the military has generally leaned more toward the Republican Party. There have been lots of past Presidents who didn't serve, and even had some controversy about not serving, whether it's Bill Clinton not going to Vietnam. You know, there haven't been that many Presidents who have been war heroes, Eisenhower comes to mind, but a lot didn't serve. You know had, George W. Bush was in the army, National Guard, but he never saw combat, he never left the United States. But this President has styled himself as especially close to the military, as especially good for the military, even though he had five deferments in Vietnam, even though he didn't go'...apparently according to the Washington Post, a former White House official cited the reason that he hasn't visited troops in the combat zones, which President Obama did, which President Bush did, which President, his dad, the other President Bush did, said that ''he's never been interested in going,'' according to this official. ''He's afraid of those situations. He's afraid people might want to kill him.'' Will, a President that's traveling has the best security on Earth. But he's afraid to go.
FISCHER: Yeah, well Joy, Donald Trump has been avoiding combat zones since the mid 1960s. And this recent attacks being leveled against the military by the President is just a continuation of a theme that we have seen going back from the campaign. Whether it was Donald Trump comparing, you know, his sex life in the '80s to serving in Vietnam, whether it was attacking gold star families as a candidate and then again as President, or whether it's something like turning over the future of our VA healthcare system to a couple of his country club buddies to try to manage between rounds of golf and over shrimp cocktail. At the end of the day, the simple reality is is that Donald Trump views the military as nothing more than political props to try and advance his own racist, nativist backwards agenda.
REID: You know, Malcolm, so Donald Trump tried to explain why he didn't go to Arlington Cemetery as Presidents always do around Veterans' Day. Here is he on Fox News Sunday explaining not going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE: You're back in Washington on Monday; Veterans' Day. Why don't you go across the river to Arlington for that ceremony? Barack Obama went every year he was here in D.C.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I should have done that. I was extremely busy on calls for the country. We did a lot of calling, as you know.
WALLACE: But this is Veterans' Day.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I probably, you know, in retrospect I should have and I did last year. I will virtually every year. But we had come in very late at night. And I had just left literally the American cemetery in Paris and I really probably assumed that was fine and I was extremely busy because of affairs of state, doing other things.
WALLACE: Why'...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: But I would have, I would have done it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Malcolm, he was not extremely busy. This is Donald Trump's public schedule. Can we put up Donald Trump's public schedule? Can we just put that up? On Veterans' Day? There it is. Nothing! There's nothing on his public schedule. It's highlighted there. There was nothing there. He's extremely busy. Troops don't get to say, well, you know, I thought it was enough that, you know, we did some combat yesterday and we just thought...this is really odd.
NANCE: It's not odd. Let's just call this what it is. Donald Trump is a physical coward. He dodged the draft five times. No one in his family has served. Every male in my family since the Civil War has served. Let me tell you something. He is frightened of facing the situation that it will be made clear if he goes to these military cemeteries, if he goes to these memorial ceremonies other than giving out the Medal of Honor ones because they come to the White House, that he will be reminded of his own cowardice and there's just nothing more. He is a disgrace. He's not Commander-in-Chief, he's Placeholder-in-Chief. I have relatives who have dead comrades at the Suresnes Cemetery in Paris and at the (inaudible) Cemetery. Donald Trump wouldn't even dane to go to one because he was afraid of the rain. And so for him to back out of going to Arlington'...let me give him directions. Go around the ellipse, past the World War II memorial, turn right, drive straight. I mean, that's all it takes for him to do it. He does not want to be reminded of the fact that he is incapable of being brave and serving his nation. He is exploiting the nation and that's all he cares about.
REID: And Jennifer, in addition to that, he also seems very open about criticizing members of the military; people who are incredibly brave and gallant, but he doesn't seem to see that gallantry. He criticizes people, men much braver than himself. Here he is going after this, I mean, I shouldn't be shocked, why I am I shocked anymore? Admiral McRaven, the man who, you know, was the sort of the author of the Bin Laden raid, he took down the person who was the author of 9/11. I mean, here he is going after McRaven who also, I believe, is in, is in treatment for cancer. Let's listen to admiral McRaven.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Bill McRaven, Retired Admiral, Navy S.E.A.L., 37 years, former head of U.S. Special operations'...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Hillary Clinton fan.
WALLACE: Special operations'...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan.
WALLACE: '...who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama Bin Laden says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.PRESIDENT TRUMP: Okay, he's a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer. And frankly'...
WALLACE: He was a Navy S.E.A.L.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Wouldn't it have been nice if we got Osama bin laden a lot sooner than that? Wouldn't it have been nice? You know, living'...think of this, living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion. I don't know. I've seen nicer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Jennifer...
NANCE: Disgraceful.
REID: What was that?
RUBIN: Oh, my. You know, if he had been around during World War I, he would have bad mouthed Sergeant York. He has no respect for others. And to pick up on what Malcolm said, he is not only a physical coward but he's an emotional and mental one as well. He understands the contrast between these great people and himself and he has such a frail ego, such a thin skin that all he can see for McRaven is not ''hero,'' is not ''Bin Laden leader.'' All he can see is Hillary Clinton supporter because it's all about him. It's always about him. So anyone who has slighted him, whether it was criticism from former CIA Director and former DNI Directors, whether it was people in the military, they are simply other critics, they're bad people. They are people who support his enemies. And it's all about him. A Commander-in-Chief by definition has to be selfless. He has to put himself behind the troops and Donald Trump wants to be ahead of the troops literally as well as figuratively. And remember, he wanted his parade, too, then finally had'...couldn't get that. But that's what he thinks of the military, like his toy soldiers. Remember how he used to refer to, he still does sometimes, my generals. We don't have ''my generals'' in this country. They are the United States generals. They are the people's generals. But Donald Trump thinks of these as little marionettes who dress up in uniform and who he gets to order around.
VIDEO - KARMA! Bill And Hillary Clinton Just Got The Worst News Possible They're In BIG Trouble(VIDEO)!!! - YouTube
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 18:37
VIDEO - Brian Stelter on Twitter: ""Lashing out," angry, pissed, "particularly unhinged." We mashed up a week's worth of talk about Trump's mood. @CarlBernstein's description: "rageaholic"'... https://t.co/oAlojkEFwO"
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 17:02
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VIDEO - Benny on Twitter: "MSNBC anchors get completely rekt by their own reporter on the ground covering the migrant caravan. ANCHOR: "It's innocent women and children right?" REPORTER: "From what we've seen, the majority are actually men and some of the
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 14:32
Welcome home! This timeline is where you'll spend most of your time, getting instant updates about what matters to you.
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VIDEO - J.D. Durkin on Twitter: "wow '-- Geraldo Rivera's commentary tonight on Fox about the treatment and depiction of migrants is pretty powerful. a must-watch for some against-the-grain perspective'... https://t.co/8wB92XzPf5"
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 14:23
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VIDEO - WATCH: MSNBC Reporter Destroys Media's Narrative About Caravan Migrants | Daily Wire
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 12:54
MSNBC reporter Gadi Schwartz busted the media's narrative that the caravan migrants are mostly women and children on Monday while reporting from Tijuana, Mexico.
Schwartz appeared on MSNBC's "Live with Velshi & Ruhle" where he reported that one migrant woman that he spoke to "admitted that she had not actually expected to cross and was really participating to protest; she also later stated that her intention was to go to the United States to work, rather than to apply for asylum," NewsBusters reported.
"Some people look at these images and they listen to the president, who says, 'It's not women and children, it's stone cold criminals,'" Ruhle said. "Give us the profile of who's there mostly and what they're looking for."
"The truth is, the majority of the people that are in this caravan, especially outside '-- if we can make our way all the way over there, we'll show you the majority of them are men," Schwartz responded. "From what we've seen, the majority are actually men and some of these men have not articulated that need for asylum."
WATCH:
MSNBC reporter in Mexico shoots down the media's narrative, says the majority of the migrants in the caravan are men who are not seeking asylum pic.twitter.com/bsAwfxbXft
'-- Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 26, 2018
VIDEO - Tom Arnold confirms Secret Service visited him over Donald Trump threat after video leaks | Fox News
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 12:53
The Secret Service paid a visit to Tom Arnold last month after he tweeted challenging Donald Trump to a fight, the actor confirmed Monday.
In a video Arnold sent to Mother Jones published on Monday, the "True Lies" star is seen speaking with agents in his Los Angeles home on Oct. 25.
"We're not the First Amendment police," one agent says in the clip. "You're free to say whatever you want ... [but] once a certain line is crossed ... what we're concerned with is the type of audience it could reach, that it could incite somebody."
Arnold was cooperative with the agents and explained that he understood the ramifications of his posts.
"I did see a crazy reaction to it from people," Arnold admitted. "I get a lot of death threats. There's a certain element '-- I don't know if they're bots '-- I just ignore it ... But I also see how they take something and they blow it up like, 'He is literally threatening to ...' And I find that absurd, but I can see how, obviously if people are tweeting ... they can call you guys and have you come over. That's ridiculous, but I understand why you're here."
One of the agents explained to Arnold that assassination attempts on presidents are often "motivated by somebody."
"What we have to worry about is your type of audience and you say something inciting those that follow you," the second agent concurred. "You might be using it in a comedian-type sense or whatever, you know '-- being very comical about it '-- but there's a lot of people out there who may really follow Tom Arnold: 'He said this, and that's the exact thing, I needed that. I need to go get this and go ahead to the next rally and carry this out.'"
Arnold released a statement about the visit on Twitter on Monday, writing, "Thank you David Corn for your fine work as always. Thank you US Secret Service for risking your lives keeping democracy safe. I appreciate you coming to my home on what must've been a busy day. I heard your message loud & clear. Words matter. Tone matters. Words can incite violence. Be responsible."
He continued, "I'm sorry Donald Trump hasn't listened to you all the times you've had this exact conversation with him. I'm sorry the President & the White House say things they know could incite violence on the media & US citizens almost daily. I'm sorry because Secret Service agents are more at risk than anyone & as I learned you are people with kids just like me who just want to know the best place to trick or treat."
The Secret Service's visit was allegedly over a tweet Arnold sent in October in which he challenged Trump to a fight.
"I say put up or shut up @realDonaldTrump Me vs You. For America," Arnold, 59, tweeted on Oct. 19. "First body slam wins. Any Rally. Any Time. Between now & the midterms. #FridayFeeling."
Arnold's tweet was in reply to a statement from the White House Correspondents Association rebuking President Trump for praising Montana Re. Greg Gianforte for bodyslamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.
Arnold followed with a since-deleted tweet referencing comedian Kathy Griffin's infamous anti-Trump photoshoot, writing, "Next time Kathy won't be holding his fake head!"
This isn't Arnold's first brush with the law. In September, it was revealed that the LAPD was investigating an alleged physical altercation between the comedian and "Apprentice" producer Mark Burnett.
Arnold accused Burnett of choking him at a pre-Emmys party, while Burnett's wife, actress Roma Downey, claimed that Arnold caused her to get a bruise on her hand when he allegedly "ambushed" the couple. Arnold filed a police report about the incident but Los Angeles prosecutors later declined to take the case.
The funnyman's Viceland documentary series, "The Hunt for the Trump Tapes," premiered the same month.
VIDEO - Rabbi: "Biological Jews behind Open Borders for White Countries" - YouTube
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 12:31
VIDEO - Watch What Happens When A Baby That Is Addicted To A Cellphone Has It Taken Away '' End Of The American Dream
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 04:16
You have got to watch
this video! I have to admit that I was mesmerized when I first starting watching it. This baby appears to be less than a year old, and yet it already throws a massive temper tantrum every time a cellphone is taken away. But as you will see in the video, all the mother has to do to stop the tantrum is to give the cellphone back to the baby. If you need a good laugh, this video is perfect for you, but I think that it also contains a much deeper message. You see, the truth is that our society is just like that little baby. We have become deeply, deeply addicted to the digital world that we have created, and when we are forced to disconnect from that world most of us don't respond very well.
Many of us are old enough to remember a time when people didn't carry cellphones around with them everywhere. Instead of constantly looking down at their phones, people actually tried to interact with one another, and the world was a much different place.
But today it seems like everyone has a cellphone, and one study found that the average American spends 86 hours a month on their phone'...
According to comScore's 2017 Cross Platform Future in Focus report, the average American adult (18+) spends 2 hours, 51 minutes on their smartphone every day.
That's about 86 hours a month! This might be a record, but growth has certainly flattened out over the last year-and-a-half.
And when you add in time spent on desktops and laptops, the numbers are even more staggering.
According to a study which was released earlier this year, the average American spends 5.9 hours a day staring at a digital device'...
For this edition of The Why Axis, we're focusing on breaking down one slide in particular: how much time the average internet user spends staring at a screen each day. According to KPCB's report, which aggregates data from market research company eMarketer, the average adult user in 2017 spent 5.9 hours with digital media. This includes smartphones, desktops and laptops, and other connected devices including over-the-top (OTT) streaming devices and game consoles.
Those numbers are absolutely staggering.
And of course Americans are not alone. Just consider the following numbers from the UK'...
People are on average online for 24 hours a week, twice as long as 10 years ago, with one in five of all adults spending as much as 40 hours a week on the web.
This is partly due to the rise in use by those aged 16 to 24, who average 34.3 hours a week on the internet. And for the first time women are spending more time online than men, fuelled by a rise in internet use by those aged 18 to 34 and the explosion in social media. They spend half an hour a week longer online than men of the same age.
Yes, in a lot of ways these devices make our lives easier and more convenient, but imagine how much better our world would be if we all spent at least some of that time visiting those in need, reading books or doing volunteer work in our communities.
Each year, we get more sucked into this incredible digital world that we have created, and without a doubt it is very impressive.
But in the process, the real world is rotting and decaying all around us.
According to Dr. David Greenfield, only about 10 to 12 percent of all cellphone users should officially be classified as ''addicted''. But he also says that up to 90 percent of us are guilty of ''overusing, misusing or abusing'' our devices'...
The percentage of smartphone users who would actually be classified as addicted is estimated between 10-12%, according to the director of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, Dr. David Greenfield. However, in a survey of cell phone users, Dr. Greenfield found that around 90% of Americans fall in the category of overusing, misusing or abusing their devices. A recent study also found that 50% of teens feel that they are addicted to their devices.
If you think that you may be a cellphone addict, Dr. Greenfield even has a ''smartphone compulsion test'' that you can take.
Anything can become an addiction, and there is no shame in admitting that you have a problem.
One way to start breaking an addiction is to interrupt your regular patterns. Some suggest doing a ''digital detox'' for a short period of time such as a weekend'...
If you are open to trying something more extreme, Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet: The 4-Step Plan to Break Your Tech Addiction and Regain Balance in Your Life, suggests doing a full ''digital detox,'' where you spend an entire weekend with ZERO access to technology. Notify your loved ones in advance, power your devices off and stick them in a box or a bottom drawer, and ask a trusted friend to temporarily change your passwords to reduce temptation. After the detox, Sieberg suggests reintroducing technology slowly. He swears that a digital diet does wonders for reconnecting with the real world and improving relationships.
But for our society as a whole, there is no easy solution. Technology is going to continue to become a greater part of our lives, and those that create content for our phones have a financial incentive to make it as addictive as possible.
And I haven't even talked about the health problems that are being created by all of this technology. In the video at the beginning of this article, that baby is literally being bombarded by radiation from that phone. And soon the new 5G network will start rolling out nationwide, and that means that hundreds of thousands of new 5G antennas will be going up nationwide. This new network is an entirely different ballgame from the old 4G network, and many are concerned about what all of this powerful radiation will do to all of us. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled ''Why Are So Many Concerned About The Potential Health Dangers Of The 5G Cellphone Network That Is Going Up Nationwide?''
Unfortunately, we aren't really supposed to talk about these things.
In fact, there is a federal law that actually states that local communities cannot consider health concerns when making a decision whether or not to put up cell phone antennas.
Yes, all of this new technology has improved our lives in some ways, but in other ways it has made our lives much worse.
But if anyone ever tried to take all of this technology away from the American people, the temper tantrum that would be thrown would be far, far worse than anything that a baby could muster.
About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.
VIDEO - DOSBox SVN, CPU speed: 3000 cycles, Frameskip 0, Program: DOTDEMO
Mon, 26 Nov 2018 23:25
The typing tutor that talks as it teaches.
In this fast-paced age of computers, the inability to type can be a handicap in your business and academic life.
Dvorak on Typing is the first major typing program to feature a human voice that sounds out the letters as you type, helping you to become confident with touch typing. Developed in conjunction with world-renowned computer columnist John C. Dvorak, these user-friendly skill-building lessons take you step by step through the basics -- hand placement, key location, shifting, etc. As you progress, the program's brilliant graphics take you easily through the formation of sentences, paragraphs, and full correspondence. The program's voice works with you through menu selections, and later lessons even dictate to you verbally.
The program constantly monitors you progress in easy-to-read graphs, allowing you to track your speed, accuracy, problem keys and level of improvement. Most importantly, it makes learning an enjoyable experience, with encouraging lessons and games that make practice fun.
VIDEO - Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 on Twitter: "BREAKING: Democrat Adam Schiff claims without evidence that Trump is secretly controlled by Saudi Arabian financial interests https://t.co/RT8yftsR06" / Twitter
Sun, 25 Nov 2018 22:57
BREAKING: Democrat Adam Schiff claims without evidence that Trump is secretly controlled by Saudi Arabian financial interests
pic.twitter.com/RT8yftsR06
VIDEO - Alan Dershowitz says Robert Mueller report won't result in Donald Trump criminal charges - Washington Times
Sun, 25 Nov 2018 22:44
Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz predicted Sunday that the special counsel's report will be ''devastating'' to President Trump while falling short of finding criminal wrongdoing.
''I think the report is going to be devastating to the president, and I know that the president's team is already working on a response to the report,'' Mr. Dershowitz said on ABC's ''This Week.''
At the same time, Mr. Dershowitz said that the report, while ''politically very devastating,'' is unlikely to produce criminal charges.
''When I say devastating, I mean it's going to paint a picture that's going to be politically very devastating. I still don't think it's going to make a criminal case,'' Mr. Dershowitz said, adding, ''Collusion is not criminal.''
The legal expert, who has defended Mr. Trump in the past, said that whenever the report is released, ''it will be made public probably with a response alongside.''
Alan Dershowitz, a frequent Trump defender, says the Mueller report will be ''devastating'' for the president: ''It's going to paint a picture that's going to be politically very devastating. I still don't think it's going to make a criminal case'' https://t.co/KqWAc6L38G#ThisWeekpic.twitter.com/kso9lYW45u
'-- This Week (@ThisWeekABC) November 25, 2018Special counsel Robert Mueller would be well advised to lay out the case and allow Congress to draw its own conclusions, he said.
''What I think Mueller's going to do if he's smart, he's not going to take a chance on being rebutted, he's going to just lay out just the facts, ma'am, he's going to lay out the facts and leave it to Congress to decide whether that rises to the level of an impeachable offense,'' Mr. Dershowitz said.
Democrats and some Republicans have called for legislation to protect the Mueller investigation following the elevation earlier this month of Matthew Whitaker, a past critic of the probe, to the position of acting attorney general.
''I'm really concerned about having him in charge,'' said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat. ''As you know, we have tried in the Senate on a bipartisan basis, to protect that investigation by law.''
Copyright (C) 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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  • 0:00
    [Music]
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    Madame Curie this is no agenda Madame
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    Curie from northern Silicon Valley where
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    it's been raining cats dogs I'm John
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    Steed for well it was only one hour
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    delay could have been a lot worse
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    there's effort beat us of course this is
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    ephra beat us
  • 0:45
    although the coach though was an hour
  • 0:46
    late I've been in update hell no
  • 0:49
    actually it was great this week the
  • 0:51
    updating I did everything I needed to do
  • 0:53
    and then the very last moment something
  • 0:55
    broke but that that Drive cloning you
  • 0:58
    turned me onto that was a fantastic
  • 0:59
    experience well it doesn't sound like it
  • 1:03
    if it's broke something Oh in general I
  • 1:07
    don't think the drive cloning broke
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    anything I cuz I upgraded everything
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    every update every you know the dry I
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    think it's the drivers from the the USB
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    thing mark of the unicorn think they
  • 1:19
    screwed something up that could be yeah
  • 1:22
    well I dig drive cloning thing worked
  • 1:23
    well if it if it was a hardware mismatch
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    because I've done this a couple of times
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    using this Acronis a little rate great
  • 1:31
    piece of software yeah what it does is
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    it clones the disk onto another disk and
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    and it you've swapped the disks back
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    better than that you just plug it into a
  • 1:42
    USB hit clone and then you swap the disk
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    and it actually worked the first time
  • 1:47
    that was an amazing experience
  • 1:50
    yeah boots as if it was the original
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    disk only now you either have more space
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    or you got a faster dry I would say the
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    boot process is ten times faster
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    everything's fast it's just I should
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    have I should have ordered this thing