1092: Pros From Dover

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 47m
December 6th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Baron Sir Ratenef, Joseph Finley Sir Walk-Man of Buckeye, Sir Sam of Bedfordshire and the Great Ouse, Jonathan Greenlee, Yousef Hegazi, Nick Foster

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Dave, Baron of KC, Bryce of Northwest Wisconsin, Anonymous

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill


Start of Show
Nayirah Testimony
George HW Bush
Tumblr Bans All Adult Content Starting December 17th
Tim Cook Speech at Never is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate
UK Parliament Member Publishes 250 Pages of Internal Facebook Documents
The Facebook Dilemma: Brad Parscale by Frontline
Macron Scraps Fuel Tax Rise in Response to Yellow Vest Protests
NBC News Costa Rica Fact-Check
Majority of US Millennials Prefer Communism
Producer Note: Student Loans
Israel, Greece and Cyprus Back EastMed Gas Pipeline
Denmark Plans to Isolate Unwanted Migrants on a Small Island
Anti-Migration Party Vox Wins Big in Spain as Europe's Populist Wave Continues
US Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Reopens After ISIS Threat
Police Target 'Ndrangheta Mafia in Raids Across Europe
Man in The Netherlands Requesting Age Change Satisfied with Court Verdict
Birthdays & Title Changes
Paul Hogan Pitch Video for Australian Tourism Board
Australian Government Passes Contentious Encryption Law
Donna Brazil's Smoking Gun ISO
Lindsay Graham Says MBS is 'Complicit' in Jamal Khashoggi Murder
2015 Report on Parents Being Banned from School Lunchrooms
Upsidedown, Events for LGBT Youth Under 12
Did Mic Layoff Their Entire Editorial Staff to Break a Union?
Glenn Beck and Mark Levin Create Conservative Media Entity Blaze Media
Lisa Marie Boothe
Former CBS Chief Les Moonves Obstructed Sexual Misconduct Investigation
End of Show
Suggest a new chapter
Yellow Jackets
Possible D-Notice in UK
Color Revolution
The "Yellow Jackets" Riots In France Are What Happens When Facebook Gets Involved With Local News
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 10:54
Etienne De Malglaive / Getty ImagesThis week, protesters scaled the Arc de Triomphe, burned cars, and clashed with police in the third consecutive weekend of riots in France. More than 300 people were arrested in Paris last weekend alone, and 37,000 law enforcement officers have been deployed around the country to restore order.
The ''Gilets Jaunes'' or ''Yellow Jackets'' protests have only gotten more violent since they began last month. Three people have died, hundreds more have been injured. To hear the protesters tell it, they're marching through the streets to fight back against rising fuel prices and the high cost of living in the country. Beyond that, though, it's an ideological free-for-all. Fights have also been witnessed among demonstrators, and some have sent death threats to other protesters.
But what's happening right now in France isn't happening in a vacuum. The Yellow Jackets movement '-- named for the protesters' brightly colored safety vests '-- is a beast born almost entirely from Facebook. And it's only getting more popular. Recent polls indicate the majority of France now supports the protesters. The Yellow Jackets communicate almost entirely on small, decentralized Facebook pages. They coordinate via memes and viral videos. Whatever gets shared the most becomes part of their platform.
Due to the way algorithm changes made earlier this year interacted with the fierce devotion in France to local and regional identity, the country is now facing some of the worst riots in many years '-- and in Paris, the worst in half a century.
This isn't the first time real-life violence has followed a viral Facebook storm and it certainly won't be the last. Much has already been written about the anti-Muslim Facebook riots in Myanmar and Sri Lanka and the WhatsApp lynchings in Brazil and India. Well, the same process is happening in Europe now, on a massive scale. Here's how Facebook tore France apart.
Veronique De Viguerie / Getty ImagesCars on fire near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
In January this year, ''Anger Groups'' (Groupes Col¨re) started to appear across French Facebook. The first group was titled ''Are you fed up? This is now! (anger + dept)'' and it was started by a Portuguese bricklayer named Leandro Antonio Nogueira, who was living in the southwest d(C)partement '-- or administrative territory '-- of Dordogne.
Nogueira's group called for members to peacefully protest local authorities by blocking roads. Nogueira then quickly helped set up Anger Groups in other d(C)partements across France. These immediately gave lower-middle-class and working-class people in small towns a chance to complain about local issues. Nogueira's first group, which is private, currently has around 90,000 members.
These pages weren't exploding in popularity by coincidence. The same month that Nogueira set up his first group, Mark Zuckerberg announced an algorithm change to Facebook's News Feed that would ''prioritize news that is trustworthy, informative, and local.'' The updates were meant to combat sensationalism, misinformation, and political polarization by emphasizing local networks over publisher pages.
''In Groups, people often interact around public content,'' Adam Mosseri, the head of News Feed at the time, explained in a subsequent blog post. Facebook, by all indication, plans to continue emphasizing local content. It announced plans this month to expand the feature to create local news hubs in 400 test cities. BuzzFeed News has contacted Facebook for comment.
So, Facebook tweaked its algorithm and local Anger Groups spread across French Facebook at a shocking speed. The groups were able to organize a dozen or so decent-sized protests last winter. French d(C)partements are numbered, so between January and February, demonstrations with names like ''Anger 24'' or ''Anger 87'' would pop up, shut down roads, and protest things like labor law reforms, reducing the speed limits on busy roads, or proposed local vaccination plans. France's anti-vax movement is particularly nasty at the moment and Anger Groups were, and still are, a hotbed of anti-vax misinformation.
D(C)partement numbers are displayed on car license plates '-- they play a significant role in the identity of most French people, as well as how they use Facebook. When French Facebook users, especially older ones, want to share something to their local community, they will often write ''ptg,'' which is short for ''sharing,'' followed by the two- or three-digit number of their d(C)partement.
By the spring, the protest movement had more or less died down. But on May 29, a 32-year-old woman from the Paris suburb of Seine-et-Marne named Priscillia Ludosky went on Change.org and created a petition titled ''Pour une Baisse des Prix du Carburant la Pompe!'' or ''For a drop in the fuel prices at the pump!'' BuzzFeed News has reached out to Ludosky for comment.
Ludosky, an entrepreneur who currently sells organic cosmetics and aromatherapy advice online, told Le Parisien that she started the petition after she googled fuel taxes and was scandalized at how high they are. Her petition didn't immediately go viral, though. She received only a few hundred signatures at first.
According to Ludosky's Facebook page, she spent the summer on Facebook sharing links to various aromatherapy products and promoting her Change.org petition. All the while, gas prices in France were getting worse. But things didn't really pick up steam until this October.
change.orgLudosky's now-viral Change.org petition that kickstarted the protests last month.
On Oct. 10, Ludosky wrote on her Facebook page that a local radio station agreed to have her on one of its shows if her petition could pass 1,500 signatures. A day later, she wrote that she'd be appearing on the show the next day.
The radio segment was then written up by a small local news page for Seine-et-Marne and shared to a Seine-et-Marne Facebook page with about 50,000 subscribers. That appears to be when all hell broke loose. The article got about 500 shares off the local Facebook page and a lot of local engagement.
The same day that Ludosky went on the radio, a second petition against fuel taxes was posted to the French-language crowdsourcing site MesOpinions, titled ''Pour un prix du carburant plafonn(C) 1'‚¬ le litre'' or ''For a fuel price capped at 1 euro per liter.'' The MesOpinions petition went viral fast. According to an analysis by social media intelligence tool BuzzSumo, this one received 160,000 engagements off the MesOpinions Facebook page alone.
There was also a Facebook event created on Oct. 12 by two truck drivers, Eric Drouet and Bruno Lefevre, from the same Paris suburb as Ludosky. The event was called ''National Blockage Against Rising Fuel'' and was scheduled for Nov. 17. ''We talked one night on the phone and we said we were tired of paying taxes and seeing the price of fuel increase,'' Lefevre told French newspaper Lib(C)ration.
On Oct. 15, a group was started called ''Stop the fuel at the price of gold'' and it shared the MesOpinions petition. The page has since changed its named to ''France in Anger'' and received 17.3 million total interactions since October, according to another social media intelligence tool, CrowdTangle. All 10 of the currently most popular public Anger Groups, according to CrowdTangle, were started the same week that Ludosky went on the radio and the second petition went viral.
On Oct. 22, Le Parisien wrote up Ludosky's petition from May, which at that point still hadn't actually received that much attention, especially compared to the Facebook traffic the MesOpinions petition was receiving at the time. But after the Le Parisien article, Ludosky's petition finally jumped from 10,000 signatures to 225,000. The article itself also went viral. In a subsequent piece on Oct. 24, Le Parisien bragged that Ludosky's original petition didn't get any attention until it was written up by the paper two days earlier.
So, in less than two weeks, what you end up with is this: A Change.org petition with fewer than 1,500 subscribers gets talked about on a local radio station. The radio appearance is written up by a local news site. The article is shared to a local Facebook page. Thanks to an algorithm change that is now emphasizing local discussion, the article dominates the conversation in a small town. Two men from the same suburb then turn the petition into a Facebook event. A duplicate petition goes viral within the local Facebook groups. Then a daily newspaper writes up the original petition. This second article about the petition also goes viral. So does the original petition. And then the rest of French media follows.
Ludosky's petition now has over a million signatures.
CrowdTangleData from CrowdTangle from 10 of the most active public Anger Groups on Facebook over the last three months.
Anger Groups have always been huge hubs for fake news and general fringe-internet nonsense. The newfound national attention is making things even worse. According to the about page for ''Citizens in Anger,'' its true goal is to defend France against a Masonic cabal of global bankers who control France. It currently has 15,000 members.
Among the first posts shared by ''France in Anger,'' one of the public groups with the most engagement right now, is a post that, according to Snopes, has been bouncing around the internet since at least 2017, and claims a million Germans abandoned their cars and walked through the streets to protest increased fuel prices. They didn't, and the accompanying photo is most likely from a 2010 traffic jam in China.
Another rumor, reportedly spread by a French YouTuber, claimed that the national police were going to march on Nov. 17 with the Yellow Jackets. Before the same protest, Yellow Jackets Facebook groups were filled with pictures of a fake letter from the ‰lys(C)e Palace, France's equivalent of the White House. In the letter, President Emmanuel Macron asks the Paris prosecutor to ''use force'' against protesters. Not only was it obviously fake, it was filled with typos.
Because the Yellow Jackets have no real leader or coherent political stance beyond viral anger, most of the structure of the movement is being decided by whichever video spreads far enough to make an impact. One of the movement's leading vloggers is a 51-year-old chemtrail truther from Brittany named Jacline Mouraud.
Even the now-iconic safety vest that the protesters are all wearing comes from a viral Facebook video. Ghislain Coutard, a 36-year-old from Narbonne on the south coast, posted a video on Oct. 24, urging protesters to wear the yellow vest '-- an item all French motorists are required to have in their cars. ''If only we could do what we did for the World Cup in 1998 and 2018 but for oil, for taxation, for everything, everything,'' Coutard says in the video, referring to France's victory in the 1998 soccer World Cup on home soil. ''We all have a yellow jacket in the car. Display it on the dashboard, all week, until the 17th '-- a simple color code to show that you agree with us.''
''Spontaneously, during the video, I said to myself, it is something that we see well from a distance, it could be the color code of this protest movement,'' Coutard told FranceInfo. His video has 5.4 million views and over 200,000 shares.
facebook.comLeft: A screenshot of a viral hoax that claims Germans marched through the streets to protest gas prices. Right: Ghislain Coutard telling protesters to wear a yellow safety vest.
Maxime Nicolle, one of eight people who now claim to be spokespersons for the movement, is a prolific sharer of conspiracy theories. Nicolle, who is known as ''Fly Rider,'' was recorded saying that a man '-- who asked to remain anonymous '-- had recently made him sign a nondisclosure agreement before giving him confidential documents.
''I now know things that might lead people to try and kill me. If you only saw one sheet out of the 30 I've seen this evening,'' he said to a group of Yellow Jackets, ''it would trigger a third world war in less than an hour.'' Nicolle said in a Facebook livestream later in the night that if the name of the anonymous man was revealed, ''Macron would have a stroke.'' However, in the same video, Nicolle then backtracked, saying that whatever secrets he knows, people should just keep protesting.
Any kind of internet conspiracy theory you can imagine, there's probably a Yellow Jacket in an Anger Group spreading it, including the theory that Facebook is censoring every Yellow Jackets post.
On French cable news, several Yellow Jackets protesters said that the French constitution was made null by a 2016 decree from then-prime minister Manuel Valls, echoing a similar conspiracy theory popularized by a 70-year-old YouTuber named Serge Petitdemange. According to the Yellow Jackets who believe this, everything that happened in the French state after the first day of 2017 is meaningless and a new regime has to be founded, as was the case after the Second World War. A protester played the video during the Nov. 24 protest, footage of which was, of course, posted to a Gilets Jaunes Facebook group where it was shared almost 10,000 times.
This universe of wildly viral misinformation has made the Yellow Jackets a prime target for bad actors. A large page that shares Yellow Jackets content is Anonymous France, a Facebook page with 1.2 million likes. It shares videos and memes, as well as links to blogs that all belong to the same shady online fake news network, ''Tu sais quoi?'' ("What do you know?").
The biggest Yellow Jacket group is called ''COMPTEUR OFFICIEL DE GILETS JAUNES" or ''The Official Yellow Jackets Counter." It currently has 1.7 million members according to its members page. It's impossible to post in the group, though '-- all people do is add dozens of their friends at once. The page has spread through friend networks by appearing in the platform's sidebar, suggesting more people to add.
facebook.comA protester plays an online conspiracy theory video into a megaphone at a demonstration on Nov. 24.
This viral free-for-all finally came to a head on Nov. 17, when 300,000 Yellow Jackets mobilized across France. By all accounts, it was a logistical disaster. One person died, 585 people were injured, another 115 policers were hurt, and the military had to be deployed on the overseas French island of R(C)union, after looting and riots broke out. The violence has only gotten worse since then.
But unruly and violent or not, the movement is popular: 72% of the country currently supports it. French unions are announcing their support. And they've now also forced President Macron into a corner. France's prime minister, ‰douard Philippe, announced Tuesday that fuel tax increases would be suspended for six months as the country deals with the situation.
Thomas Miralles, a 25-year-old spokesperson for the Yellow Jackets and the one who registered the Gilets Jaunes domain name, told BuzzFeed News that the movement has gotten too large and he expects this weekend's violence to surpass previous protests. ''I think it will be a real disaster,'' he said.
Miralles said he was drawn to the movement originally when he saw a petition and the Facebook event and thought it was a good way to organize people. But between the violence and the fake news he's seeing, he's unsure what happens next. Also, Macron's backtracking on tax increases didn't comfort him much. ''They announced they were going to suspend taxes for six months, but what happens in six months?'' he said.
There are no plans for the movement to go away. There's talk of creating new legislation via a referendum. Take a quick scan of any Yellow Jackets group: They aren't celebrating. If next weekend's protests are extreme as Miralles fears they may be, it's unclear what Macron will do. He's already discussed the possibility of declaring a state of emergency.
But whatever does happen, you can bet that it'll all be breathlessly documented and memed and, of course, posted to your local Anger Group. '—
With reporting from Jules Darmanin.
Who are France's 'Yellow Jacket' protesters and what do they want?
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 09:15
The findings by pollster BVA mean Macron is less popular than his predecessors Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy at the same stage of their presidencies.
Who is protesting?''The white middle class, the forgotten middle class in France,'' said Famke Krumbm¼ller, an expert in French politics at OpenCitiz political consultancy firm in Paris.
Krumbm¼ller said the people protesting were those who pay the high French taxes and social charges '-- which cover benefits such as the state pension and unemployment insurance '-- but feel they get little in return because they are not the poorest in society.
''They're fed up with the rising prices and the cost of living,'' she explained. ''They feel like the political elite is forgetting about them.''
A demonstrator waves the French flag on the Champs-Elysees on Saturday. Michel Euler / APIn France, an individual earning between $30,675 and $82,237 is taxed at 30 percent. In the U.S., an individual earning $30,675 would pay 12 percent in federal tax while someone earning $82,237 would pay 22 percent.
Joseph Downing, an expert in French politics at the London School of Economics, agreed that the protests were about "much more" than taxes on gas.
''It's this entire idea of the squeezed middle or the squeezed upper working-class person who feels an entitlement to an ever-increasing standard of living but is something that no politician can deliver,'' he said. ''This is where we've seen disenfranchisement with Sarkozy, with Hollande and now with Macron.''
Are France's powerful unions involved?The ''Yellow Jacket'' movement has been organized for the most part over social media with Facebook groups and trending hashtags resulting in supporters descending into the streets.
Downing said this self-organized approach was a relatively new phenomenon in France which has historically relied on unions to organize dissent.
''I think there is a lot of disillusionment with the unions as well,'' he said.
Broken barriers litter the Champs-Elysees near the Arc de Triomphe after protests turned violent. Francois Guillot / AFP - Getty ImagesKrumbm¼ller said the fact that this protest was not organized by unions suggests it represents a ''broader population'' of people.
Almost eight in ten people in France support the ''Yellow Jacket'' protests, according to a poll published on Friday by the Figaro newspaper and public radio broadcaster Franceinfo.
Is the far-right involved?Castaner, the newly appointed French interior minister, said that far-right protesters joined Saturday's rally in the Champs-‰lys(C)es after Marine Le Pen encouraged them to attend.
Le Pen '-- who is the leader of the far-right National Rally party, which was formerly known as the National Front '-- has expressed her support for the ''Yellow Jacket'' protests but condemned any violence.
Authorities have not suggested that the protests are dominated by supporters of the far-right.
An Ifop poll published earlier this month suggested that National Rally had nudged ahead of Macron's En Marche party when measuring voter intention ahead of the European Parliament elections next May.
What's likely to happen next?This is not the first time Macron's attempts to bring change to France have sparked protests.
Macron's revamp to labor laws '-- which has made it easier for companies to hire and fire their staff '-- resulted in thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets in Paris in May.
Around the same time, France's rail workers went on strike in response to Macron's plans to reform the state-owned SNCF rail company.
Krumbm¼ller said Macron plans to tackle pension reform next year '-- a political hot potato which she says is bound to provoke strong opposition.
She noted that protesting was a part of France's political culture and could only be expected in response to Macron's agenda.
''That is the challenge when reforming France. Whenever the reform is a little bit ambitious you'll have the entire streets against you," Krumbm¼ller added.
''I always say, 'you say reform and they say strike,''' Krumbm¼ller joked.
Saphora Smith reported from London, and Nancy Ing from Paris.
Saphora Smith
Saphora Smith is a London-based reporter for NBC News Digital.
Nancy Ing and Associated Press contributed.
Riot police clash with ambulance drivers in France in latest anti-government protest | London Evening Standard
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 18:22
Paramedics today clashed with riot police in France as dozens of ambulances joined ongoing anti-government protests.
The vehicles blocked a bridge leading to the National Assembly in Paris on Monday.
Lines of riot police officers stood in the rain to prevent the ambulance workers from getting too close to the building.
Ambulance drivers were also pictured facing off with officers during a demonstration at the Place de la Concorde.
French ambulance drivers face off with riot police in Paris (Reuters)
It was the latest protest action that President Emmanuel Macron's government has faced in recent weeks.
The "yellow vest" movement is bringing together people from across the political spectrum complaining about France's economic inequalities and waning spending power.
Riot police lined up to prevent protesters moving further (REUTERS)
Mr Macron, just back from the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, held an emergency meeting Sunday on security and the government has not ruled out the possibility of imposing a state of emergency.
On Saturday, more than 130 people were injured and 412 arrested Saturday in the French capital amid one of the nation's worst unrest in recent times.
Ambulances blocked a bridge near to the National Assembly (AP)
Police responded with tear gas and water cannons, closing down dozens of streets and subway stations to contain the riot.
The rioting was the third straight weekend of clashes in Paris led by protesters wearing distinctive yellow traffic vests.
It is the latest anti-government action in France (AP)
The protests began last month with motorists upset over a fuel tax hike and have grown to encompass a range of complaints that Mr Macron's government doesn't care about the problems of ordinary people. Other protests in France remained peaceful.
By Sunday, some of the most popular tourist streets in Paris were littered with torched cars and broken glass from looted shops and the Arc de Triomphe monument was tagged with graffiti.
During the paramedic protest on Monday, some demonstrators set fire to a small pile of debris and blocked traffic. One activist held up a sign reading "The State killed me" and others chanted "Macron resign!"
According to French media reports, students also joined the protest movement by blocking dozens of high schools across France, while clashes between protesters and police officers reignited on Monday on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, where demonstrations have been particularly violent in recent weeks.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Mr Macron have been lambasted for their handling of the crisis.
Philippe will try to defuse tensions this week before more possible protests this weekend, speaking with yellow vest representatives on Tuesday.
Members of the National Assembly will also hold talks on France's social crisis later this week. Meanwhile, trade union CGT has called for a day of protest across France on December 14.
Additional reporting by Associated Press.
More about: | France | Emmanuel Macron | Place de la Concorde
Paris riots: PM to meet protest groups after worst unrest in decade | World news | The Guardian
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 12:25
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has instructed his prime minister to hold talks with protest groups after anti-government demonstrations led to the worst violence in central Paris in a decade, with more than 100 people injured as cars and buildings were set alight.
Macron is facing his biggest crisis since taking office 18 months ago after the violence erupted on Saturday following weeks of street protests that began against fuel taxes and have turned into an anti-government movement.
The ‰lys(C)e and key ministers appeared to rule out imposing any kind of state of emergency after thousands of masked protesters from the gilets jaunes '' named for their fluorescent yellow jackets '' fought running battles with riot police, torched cars, set fire to banks and houses and burned makeshift barricades.
A presidential source told Reuters that the meeting discussed how to adapt security forces and tactics to contain future protests.
Macron, who had said he would ''never accept violence'', instructed the prime minister, ‰douard Philippe, to meet what he has called legitimate protest groups and opposition politicians this week in an effort to calm tensions and stop ''professional'' rioters from infiltrating street demonstrations.
The Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said 378 people were in custody, including 33 under the age of 18. He said many of those arrested in battles with police were men aged between 30 and 40, often from regions far from Paris, who had ''come to fight police while claiming to be part of the gilets jaunes movement''.
The interior minister, Christophe Castaner, and his head of staff will be questioned by a senate committee on Tuesday over how thousands of protesters were able to play cat and mouse with police through central Paris for hours.
Macron flew back from the G20 summit in Argentina on Sunday and went straight to inspect damage at the Arc de Triomphe. Graffiti all over the base of the 19-century monument read: ''We've chopped off heads for less than this'' and ''Topple the Bourgeoisie.'' Scores of used teargas canisters filled the gutters.
Paris cleanup begins after gilets jaunes riots '' videoNear the Champs ‰lys(C)es there were splashes of paint on buildings after protesters had paint-bombed police. Used bottles of eye-drops on the ground indicated that some protesters '' many of whom wore ski-masks and breathing equipment '' stood their ground despite the teargas fired from rows of police behind shields.
Along the Avenue Kl(C)ber near the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday morning, passersby peered at scorched pavements where the burnt-out carcasses of cars had been towed away, and where a private residence had been set alight. Graffiti read: ''Babylon is burning.''
The far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc M(C)lenchon, head of the leftwing party La France Insoumise, both called on Macron to dissolve parliament and hold elections.
The violence started on Saturday in broad daylight on the edges of a peaceful demonstration by the gilets jaunes movement, which began two weeks ago in protest at rising fuel prices and a new green fuel tax.
After three successive Saturday citizens' marches in Paris organised on social media, the security forces seemed at a loss to stop the rioting, with groups of masked men spilling into nearby streets, ripping up benches and traffic lights and hurling bits of paving stones from roadworks.
An ‰lys(C)e spokesman said Macron wanted policing procedures to be reviewed in terms of ''maintaining order in the days to come''. No date was set for the prime minister to meet representatives from the gilets jaunes movement to revive talks that last week amounted to nothing.
Demonstrators continued to stage small roadblocks in towns around France on Sunday. Other cities saw violent clashes between protesters and police on Saturday, notably Toulouse where 48 police officers were injured. In the town of Puy-en-Velay on Saturday, the prefect's office briefly caught fire after it was petrol-bombed.
Over the weekend more than 130,000 people demonstrated across France in the gilets jaunes movement, and there were more than 580 roadblocks around the country.
Union of The Medditterranean
The New Mediterranean Union: Seeds of a New Roman Empire? | United Church of God
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 17:38
On July 13, leaders of 43 countries surrounding the Mediterranean (from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East) joined together in Paris, France, to launch a new regional union'--the Mediterranean Union or, as it's now officially called, the Union for the Mediterranean. ''It brought together around one table for the first time dignitaries of such rival nations as Israel and Syria, Algeria and Morocco, Turkey and Greece'' (Associated Press, July 13, 2008).
This was a dream come true for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who championed the creation of the bloc upon assuming office just a little over a year before. Sarkozy chaired the meeting jointly with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak'--the two serving as interim copresidents, as the union is to operate under a copresidency of north and south.
This is a stunning development, not only for the speed of the union's formation'--coming just over a year after it was proposed'--but for its plausible ties to end-time events foretold in the Bible.
Revitalizing an earlier process The union goes beyond the stalled 1995 Barcelona Process (named after Barcelona, Spain, where the initiating conference was held), in which the European Union ( EU ) and many of its neighbors to the south and southeast formed the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership to promote regional stability and prosperity.
That partnership failed to achieve much of anything due to political apathy and lack of agreement on major issues.
Sarkozy proposed his union with grander aims'--as ''a means to end all hatreds, to make way for a great dream of peace and a great dream of civilization'' (quoted in International Herald Tribune, July 6, 2008).
Sarkozy initially limited it to nations bordering the Mediterranean. This, in his opinion, would have given it a greater chance of success than the Barcelona Process'--there being fewer parties who would have to agree on issues and more in common regionally among the partners.
The union was also meant as a way to shore up relations with Turkey, an important bridge state between Europe and the Muslim states of North Africa and the Middle East. Sarkozy had fiercely opposed Turkish membership in the EU , so this was offered as a consolation. Turkey, however, was late in coming to the party'--not agreeing to the Mediterranean Union until it had assurances that this would not hamper its efforts to join the EU .
No doubt the proposed union was also meant to elevate France's status in the EU and in the world. It would revive France's old colonial ties to North Africa and the Middle East. And the absence of Germany and other EU states not bordering the Mediterranean would have put France in the driver's seat.
Pressured to compromise Germany and other northern EU states, however, were outraged at being cut out of this bloc that would take on a European character and use European funds. After a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Sarkozy agreed to inscribe the new union within the EU framework of the Barcelona Process and include all EU member states.
He dismissed criticism, however, that he had planned the union as an exclusively French project. And he particularly thanked Merkel for her support of the project: ''It made me happy to see how she defended the Union for the Mediterranean . . . That was really the German-French axis'' (quoted at EurActiv.com, March 14, 2008).
To achieve wider acceptance, the initiative has been scaled back, so touchy issues like immigration have given way to projects on solar energy, marine pollution and antiterrorism coordination. But it's a start, and major issues will likely follow.
Some consider Sarkozy's plan to have faltered. But if that's so, we must wonder why so many heads of state gathered to launch the union, including Arab leaders sitting down at the same table with Israel's prime minister. This was certainly a diplomatic coup.
Return of empire foretold Notably absent from the meeting was Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi, although he sent a representative. Angry that original plans for only a few southern European and North African states were changed to include the whole EU and the Middle East, including Israel (making it, in his words, ''very dangerous'' for him to support), Gaddafi boycotted the meeting, saying, ''We shall have another Roman Empire and imperialist design. These are imperialist maps and designs that we have already rolled up. We should not have them again'' (quoted by Bruno Waterfield, ''Gaddafi Attacks Sarkozy Plan for Union of the Med,'' The Daily Telegraph, July 10, 2008).
Indeed, you too may find that the map of this new union looks strikingly like the one in the back of your Bible of the ancient Roman Empire. That empire likewise surrounded the Mediterranean '--the Romans taking pride in referring to it as Mare Nostrum, ''Our Sea.''
Frankly, Gaddafi in this case is exactly right. Another Roman Empire is indeed where things are headed even though most of the participants are themselves blind to it.
Bible prophecy reveals that the Roman Empire'--the fourth in a succession of ancient empires'--will be resurrected in the last days (see Daniel 2; 7; Revelation 13; 17). We have long seen this coming together in the increasing political integration of the European Union, which began with the Treaty of Rome in 1957. But in the past few years, integration has greatly picked up speed. And now we have a larger union encompassing the breadth of the ancient Roman Empire and then some.
Leaders of north and south also prophesied Of further interest is the north-south copresidency of the new union. A lengthy prophecy in Daniel 11 details the historical struggle in the Middle East between powers to the north and south of the land of Israel. The ''king of the South'' of the end time will attack the ''king of the North,'' the ruler of Europe who will retaliate and occupy parts of North Africa and the Middle East, including Israel (verses 40-45). While North and South here are often thought to be separate political entities entirely, they could initially be participants in some sort of union who subsequently turn against one another.
Worth considering in this regard is Gaddafi's warning that the EU blueprint for the Mediterranean will be a pretext for a new generation of terrorists. ''I believe this project of the Union for the Mediterranean would increase illegal migration and terrorism and give a justification to Islamist extremists to step up jihad attacks. These extremists would explain it [the Mediterranean Union] as [a] crusade against Islam and European colonisation,'' he said.
''They will talk about jihad in Europe. This project is frightening. This project is dangerous. They will interpret it as a new crusade to contain Muslim forces. They will see it as a new colonialism and they will accuse the Arabs [i.e., the Arab leaders] that they are traitors, who have abandoned principles and sold out their countries'' (quoted in The Daily Telegraph ).
That could lead to further European entries into Muslim areas to deal with terrorism. Thus, a bloc meant to promote cooperation and peaceful exchange could end up causing greater division and even outright war.
In any case, those who place their hope in this union to bring peace to the Middle East and even the world will be sorely disappointed. For prophecy speaks to this as well, warning us of a time of false peace to be followed by the worst period in human history.
To learn more about what the Bible says will happen in Europe and the Middle East in the years to come, be sure to read our free booklets The Middle East in Bible Prophecy and The Book of Revelation Unveiled . GN
Union for the Mediterranean - Wikipedia
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 17:36
The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM; French: Union pour la M(C)diterran(C)e, Arabic: اÙاتحاد من أج٠اÙمتÙØ"Ø· 'Ž) is an intergovernmental organization of 43 member states from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin: the 28 EU member states and 15 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, Western Asia and Southern Europe. It was founded on 13 July 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, with an aim of reinforcing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) that was set up in 1995 as the Barcelona Process. Its general secretariat is located in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
The organization aims to promote stability and integration across the Mediterranean region. The UfM is a forum for discussing regional strategic issues and building on the principles of co-ownership, co-decision making and shared co-responsibility between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Its main objective is to increase North-South and South-South integration in the Mediterranean region in order to support the socio-economic development of the countries and to ensure stability in the region. Through its actions, UfM focuses on two fundamental pillars: fostering human development and promoting sustainable development. The UfM identifies projects of regional interest and participates in them based on the consensus decision of all 43 member states. These projects and initiatives focus on six business sectors mandated by the UfM member state: Business Development and Employment, Higher Education and Research, Civil and Social Affairs, Energy and Climate Action, Transport and Urban Development and Water, Environment and Blue Economy.
Overview [ edit ] The Union has the aim of promoting stability and integration throughout the Mediterranean region. It is a forum for discussing regional strategic issues, based on the principles of shared ownership, shared decision-making and shared responsibility between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Its main goal is to increase both North-South and South-South integration in the Mediterranean region, in order to support the countries' socioeconomic development and ensure stability in the region. The institution, through its course of actions, focuses on two main pillars: fostering human development and promoting sustainable development. To this end, it identifies and supports regional projects and initiatives of different sizes, to which it gives its label, following a consensual decision among the forty-three countries.
These projects and initiatives focus on 6 sectors of activity, as mandated by the UfM Member States:
Business Development & EmploymentHigher Education & ResearchSocial & Civil AffairsEnergy & Climate ActionTransport & Urban DevelopmentWater, Environment & Blue EconomyMembers [ edit ] The members of the Union of the Mediterranean are the following:
From the European Union side:The 28 European Union member states (those on the Mediterranean in bold): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.The European Commission.From the side of the Mediterranean Partner countries:15 member states: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, State of Palestine (Palestinian Authority until 4 January 2013[1]), Syria (suspended 2011),[2][3][4]Tunisia and Turkey.Libya as an observer state.[5] The UfM has expressed a desire to grant Libya full membership,[6] and Mohamed Abdelaziz, Libya's Foreign Minister, has stated that his country is "open" to joining.[7]The Arab League[8][9]History [ edit ] Context [ edit ] Antecedents: Barcelona Process [ edit ] Former French President
Jacques Chirac, one of the founders of the Barcelona Process.
The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, also known as the Barcelona Process, was created in 1995 as a result of the Conference of Euro-Mediterranean Ministers of Foreign Affairs held in Barcelona on 27 and 28 November under the Spanish presidency of the EU. The founding act of the Partnership in 1995 and Final Declaration of the Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference is called the Barcelona Declaration,[10] which is often used to refer to the Process itself.
The Partnership culminated in a series of attempts by European countries to articulate their relations with their North African and Middle Eastern neighbours: the global Mediterranean policy (1972''1992) and the renovated Mediterranean policy (1992''1995).[11]
Javier Solana opened the conference by saying that they were brought together to straighten out the "clash of civilizations" and misunderstandings that there had been between them, and that it "was auspicious" that they had convened on the 900th anniversary of the First Crusade. He described the conference as a process to foster cultural and economic unity in the Mediterranean region. The Barcelona Treaty was drawn up by the 27 countries in attendance, and Solana, who represented Spain as its foreign minister during the country's turn at the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, was credited with the diplomatic accomplishment.
According to the 1995 Barcelona Declaration, the aim of the initiative was summed up as: "turning the Mediterranean basin into an area of dialogue, exchange and cooperation guaranteeing peace, stability and prosperity."[12] The Declaration established the three main objectives of the Partnership, called "baskets" (i.e., strands or facets):[13]
Definition of a common area of peace and stability through the reinforcement of political and security dialogue (Political and Security Basket).Construction of a zone of shared prosperity through an economic and financial partnership and the gradual establishment of a free-trade area (Economic and Financial Basket).Rapprochement between peoples through a social, cultural and human partnership aimed at encouraging understanding between cultures and exchanges between civil societies (Social, Cultural and Human Basket).The European Union stated the intention of the partnership was "to strengthen its relations with the countries in the Mashreq and Maghreb regions". Both Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat had high praises for Solana's coordination of the Barcelona Process. The Barcelona Process, developed after the Conference in successive annual meetings, is a set of goals designed to lead to a free trade area in the Mediterranean Basin by 2010.
The agenda of the Barcelona Process is:
Security and stability in the Mediterranean;Agreeing on shared values and initializing a long-term process for cooperation in the Mediterranean;Promoting democracy, good governance and human rights;Achieving mutually satisfactory trading terms for the region's partners, the "region" consisting of the countries that participated;Establishing a complementary policy to the United States' presence in the Mediterranean.The Barcelona Process comprises three "baskets", in EU jargon, or strands:
economic '' to work for shared prosperity in the Mediterranean Region, including the Association Agreements on the bilateral levelpolitical '' promotion of political values, good governance and democracycultural '' cultural exchange and strengthening civil societyThe Euro-Mediterranean free trade area (EU-MEFTA) is based on the Barcelona Process and European Neighbourhood Policy. The Agadir Agreement of 2004 is seen as its first building block.
At the time of its creation, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership comprised 27 member countries: 15 from the European Union and 12 Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey). As a result of the European Union's enlargements of 2004 and 2007 the number of EU member states grew up to 27, and two of the Mediterranean partner countries'--Cyprus and Malta'--became part of the European Union. The EU enlargement changed the configuration of the Barcelona Process from "15+12" to "27+10."[14]Albania and Mauritania joined the Barcelona Process in 2007, raising the number of participants to 39.[15]
Euromediterranean Summit 2005 [ edit ] The 10th anniversary Euromediterranean summit was held in Barcelona on 27''28 November 2005. Full members of the Barcelona Process were:
27 Member States of the European Union.10 countries from the southern Mediterranean shore: Algeria, Palestine, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey (already part of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the latter began EU accession talks on 3 October).Croatia, a candidate to join the EU, which began accession talks on 3 October.The European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the Council of the EUMoreover, the Barcelona Process included 6 countries and institutions participating as permanent observers (Libya, Mauritania, the Secretary-General of the Arab League) and invited observers, such as the European Investment Bank, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, the Economical and Social Committee or the Euromed Economical and Social Councils.
According to the ISN, "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were the only leaders from the Mediterranean countries to attend, while those of Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt were not present."[1]
From the official web site, "The new realities and challenges of the 21st century make it necessary to update the Barcelona Declaration and create a new Action Plan (based on the good results of the Valencia Action Plan), encompassing four fundamental areas":[16]
Peace, Security, Stability, Good Government, and Democracy.Sustainable Economic Development and Reform.Education and Cultural ExchangeJustice, Security, Migration, and Social Integration (of Immigrants).Regional aspects [ edit ] Regional dialogue represents one of the most innovative aspects of the Partnership, covering at the same time the political, economic and cultural fields (regional co-operation). Regional co-operation has a considerable strategic impact as it deals with problems that are common to many Mediterranean Partners while it emphasises the national complementarities.
The multilateral dimension supports and complements the bilateral actions and dialogue taking place under the Association Agreements.
Since 2004 the Mediterranean Partners are also included in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and since 2007 are funded via the ENPI.
The Euromed Heritage Programme [ edit ] As a result of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the Euromed Heritage program was formed. This program has been active since 1998, and has been involved in programs to identify the cultural heritages of Mediterranean states, promote their preservation, and educate the peoples of partner countries about their cultural heritages.[17]
Response [ edit ] By some analysts, the process has been declared ineffective. The stalling of the Middle East Peace Process is having an impact on the Barcelona Process and is hindering progress especially in the first basket. The economic basket can be considered a success, and there have been more projects for the exchange on a cultural level and between the peoples in the riparian states. Other criticism is mainly based on the predominant role the European Union is playing. Normally it is the EU that is assessing the state of affairs, which leads to the impression that the North is dictating the South what to do. The question of an enhanced co-ownership of the process has repeatedly been brought up over the last years.
Being a long-term process and much more complex than any other similar project, it may be many years before a final judgment can be made.
Bishara Khader argues that this ambitious European project towards its Mediterranean neighbours has to be understood in a context of optimism. On the one hand, the European Community was undergoing important changes due to the reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the beginning of the adhesion negotiations of Eastern and Central European countries. On the other, the Arab''Israeli conflict appeared to be getting closer to achieving peace after the Madrid Conference (1991) and the Oslo Accords (1992). As well, Khader states that the Gulf War of 1991, the Algerian crisis (from 1992 onwards) and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the Arab world are also important factors in Europe's new relations with the Mediterranean countries based on security concerns.[18]
Criticism of the Barcelona Process escalated after the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean Summit in Barcelona in 2005, which was broadly considered a failure.[19] First, the absence of Heads of State and Government from the Southern Mediterranean countries (with the exception of the Palestinian and Turkish ones) heavily contrasted with the attendance of the 27 European Union's Heads of State and Government.[20] Second, the lack of consensus to define the term "terrorism" prevented the endorsement of a final declaration. The Palestinian Authority, Syria and Algeria argued that resistance movements against foreign occupation should not be included in this definition.[21] Nevertheless, a code of conduct on countering terrorism and a five-year work program were approved at Barcelona summit of 2005.[22] both of which are still valid under the Union for the Mediterranean.[23]
For many, the political context surrounding the 2005 summit '-- the stagnation of the Middle East Peace Process, the US-led war on Iraq, the lack of democratisation in Arab countries, and the war on terror's negative effects on freedoms and human rights, among others'--proved for many the inefficiency of the Barcelona Process for fulfilling its objectives of peace, stability and prosperity.[24] Given these circumstances, even politicians that had been engaged with the Barcelona Process since its very beginnings, like the Spanish politician Josep Borrell, expressed their disappointment about the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and its incapacity to deliver results.[25] Critiques from Southern Mediterranean countries blamed the Partnership's failure on Europe's lack of interest towards the Mediterranean in favour of its Eastern neighbourhood;[26] whereas experts from the North accused Southern countries of only being interested on "their own bi-lateral relationship with the EU" while downplaying multilateral policies.[25]
However, many European Union diplomats have defended the validity of the Barcelona Process' framework by arguing that the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership was the only forum that gathered Israelis and Arabs on equal footing[27]), and identifying as successes the Association Agreements, the Code of Conduct on Countering Terrorism and the establishment of the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures.[5]
In 2006 the first proposals for improving the Partnership's efficiency, visibility and co-ownership arouse, such as establishing a co-presidency system and a permanent secretariat or nominating a "Mr./Ms. Med."[28]
Mediterranean Union [ edit ] As of 2007[update], on the initiative of France, States embark on a round negotiations to revive the process.
A proposal to establish a "Mediterranean Union", which would consist principally of Mediterranean states, was part of the election campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy during the French presidential election campaign in 2007. During the campaign Mr. Sarkozy said that the Mediterranean Union would be modelled on the European Union with a shared judicial area and common institutions.[29] Sarkozy saw Turkish membership of the Mediterranean Union as an alternative to membership of the European Union, which he opposes,[29] and as a forum for dialogue between Israel and its Arab Neighbours.[30]
Once elected, President Sarkozy invited all heads of state and government of the Mediterranean region to a meeting in June 2008 in Paris, with a view to laying the basis of a Mediterranean Union.[31]
The Mediterranean Union was enthusiastically supported by Egypt and Israel.[32]Turkey strongly opposed the idea and originally refused to attend the Paris conference until it was assured that membership of the Mediterranean Union was not being proposed as an alternative to membership of the EU.[33]
Among EU member states, the proposal was supported by Italy, Spain,[34] and Greece.[35]
However the European Commission and Germany were more cautious about the project. The European Commission saying that while initiatives promoting regional co-operation were good, it would be better to build them upon existing structures, notable among them being the Barcelona process. German chancellor Angela Merkel said the UfM risked splitting and threatening the core of the EU. In particular she objected to the potential use of EU funds to fund a project which was only to include a small number of EU member states.[36] When Slovenia took the EU presidency at the beginning of 2008, the then Slovenian Prime Minister Janez JanÅa added to the criticism by saying: "We do not need a duplication of institutions, or institutions that would compete with EU, institutions that would cover part of the EU and part of the neighbourhood."[37]
Other criticisms of the proposal included concern about the relationship between the proposed UfM and the existing Euromediterranean Partnership (Barcelona Process), which might reduce the effectiveness of EU policies in the region and allow the southern countries to play on the rivalries to escape unpopular EU policies. There were similar economic concerns in the loss of civil society and similar human rights based policies. Duplication of policies from the EU's police and judicial area was a further worry.[38]
At the start of 2008 Sarkozy began to modify his plans for the Mediterranean Union due to widespread opposition from other EU member states and the European Commission. At the end of February of that year, France's minister for European affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, stated that "there is no Mediterranean Union" but rather a "Union for the Mediterranean" that would only be "completing and enriching" to existing EU structures and policy in the region.[39] Following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel it was agreed that the project would include all EU member states, not just those bordering the Mediterranean, and would be built upon the existing Barcelona process. Turkey also agreed to take part in the project following a guarantee from France that it was no longer intended as an alternative to EU membership.[33]
The proposed creation of common institutions,[40] and a Mediterranean Investment, which was to have been modelled on the European Investment Bank, was also dropped.[41]
In consequence the new Union for the Mediterranean would consist of regular meeting of the entire EU with the non-member partner states, and would be backed by two co-presidents and a secretariat.
Launch [ edit ] At the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean (13 July 2008), the 43 Heads of State and Government from the Euro-Mediterranean region decided to launch the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean. It was presented as a new phase Euro-Mediterranean Partnership with new members and an improved institutional architecture which aimed to "enhance multilateral relations, increase co-ownership of the process, set governance on the basis of equal footing and translate it into concrete projects, more visible to citizens. Now is the time to inject a new and continuing momentum into the Barcelona Process. More engagement and new catalysts are now needed to translate the objectives of the Barcelona Declaration into tangible results."[23]
The Paris summit was considered a diplomatic success for Nicolas Sarzoky.[42] The French president had managed to gather in Paris all the Heads of State and Government from the 43 Euro-Mediterranean countries, with the exception of the kings of Morocco and Jordan.[43]
At the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Affairs held in Marseilles in November 2008, the Ministers decided to shorten the initiative's name to simply the "Union for the Mediterranean".[9]
This meeting concluded with a new joint declaration,[44] which completed the Paris Declaration by defining the organisational structure and the principles on which the UfM would be run. A rotating co-presidency was set up, held jointly by one EUmember country and one Mediterranean partner. France and Egypt were the first countries to hold this co-presidency. The presence of the Arab League at all meetings is written into the rules. A secretariat with a separate legal status and its own statutes was created. Its headquarters were established in Barcelona.
The fact that the Union for the Mediterranean is launched as a new phase of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership means that the Union accepts and commits to maintain the acquis of Barcelona, the purpose of which is to promote "peace, stability and prosperity" throughout the region (Barcelona, 2). Therefore, the four chapters of cooperation developed in the framework of the Barcelona Process during thirteen years remain valid:[23]
Politics and SecurityEconomics and TradeSocio-culturalJustice and Interior Affairs. This fourth chapter was included at the 10th Anniversary Euro-Mediterranean Summit held in Barcelona in 2005.The objective to establish a Free Trade Area in the Euro-Mediterranean region by 2010 (and beyond), first proposed at the 1995 Barcelona Conference, was also endorsed by the Paris Summit of 2008.[23]
In addition to these four chapters of cooperation, the 43 Ministers of Foreign Affairs gathered in Marseilles in November 2008 identified six concrete projects that target specific needs of the Euro-Mediterranean regions and that will enhance the visibility of the Partnership:[45]
De-pollution of the Mediterranean. This broad project encompasses many initiatives that target good environmental governance, access to drinkable water, water management, pollution reduction and protection of the Mediterranean biodiversity.[5]Maritime and land highways. The purpose of this project is to increase and improve the circulation of commodities and people throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region by improving its ports, and building highways and railways. Specifically, the Paris and Marseilles Declarations refer to the construction of both a Trans-Maghrebi railway and highway systems, connecting Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.[5]Civil protection. The civil protection project aims at improving the prevention, preparedness and response to both natural and man-made disasters. The ultimate goal is to "bring the Mediterranean Partner Countries progressively closer to the European Civil Protection Mechanism."[46]Alternative energies: Mediterranean solar plan. The goal of this project is to promote the production and use of renewable energies. More specifically, it aims at turning the Mediterranean partner countries into producers of solar energy and then circulating the resulting electricity through the Euro-Mediterranean region.[5] In this connection the union and the industrial initiative Dii signed a Memorandum of Understanding for future collaboration in May 2012 which included developing their long-term strategies "Mediterranean Solar Plan" and "Desert Power 2050". At the signing in Marrakesh the union's Secretary General called the new partnership "a key step for the implementation of the Mediterranean Solar Plan."[47]Higher education and research: Euro-Mediterranean University. In June 2008 the Euro-Mediterranean University of Slovenia was inaugurated in Piran (Slovenia), which offers graduate studies programs. The Foreign Ministers gathered at Marseilles in 2008 also called for the creation of another Euro-Mediterranean University in Fes, Morocco, Euro-Mediterranean University of Morocco (Euromed-UM).[48] The decision to go ahead with the Fes university was announced in June 2012.[49] At the 2008 Paris summit, the 43 Heads of State and Government agreed that the goal of this project is to promote higher education and scientific research in the Mediterranean, as well as to establish in the future a "Euro-Mediterranean Higher Education, Science and Research Area."[23]The Mediterranean business development initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to promote small and medium-sized enterprises from the Mediterranean partner countries by "assessing the needs of these enterprises, defining policy solutions and providing these entities with resources in the form of technical assistance and financial instruments." [23] 2008''2010: First years [ edit ] A summit of heads of state and government is intended to be held every two years to foster political dialogue at the highest level. According to the Paris Declaration:
these summits should produce a joint declaration addressing the situation and challenges of the Euro-Mediterranean region, assessing the works of the Partnership and approving a two-year work program;[50]Ministers of Foreign Affairs should meet annually to monitor the implementation of the summit declaration and to prepare the agenda of subsequent summits;[50] andthe host country of the summits would be chosen upon consensus and should alternate between EU and Mediterranean countries.[50]The first summit was held in Paris in July 2008. The second summit should have taken place in a non-EU country in July 2010 but the Euro-Mediterranean countries agreed to hold the summit in Barcelona on 7 June 2010, under the Spanish presidency of the EU, instead.[51] However, on 20 May the Egyptian and French co-presidency along with Spain decided to postpone the summit, in a move which they described as being intended to give more time to the indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that had started that month. In contrast, the Spanish media blamed the postponement on the Arab threat to boycott the summit if Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs, attended the Foreign Affairs conference prior to the summit.[52]
At the time of the Paris summit, France'--which was in charge of the EU presidency'--and Egypt held the co-presidency. Since then, France had been signing agreements with the different rotator presidencies of the EU (the Czech Republic, Sweden and Spain) in order to maintain the co-presidency for alongside Egypt.[5] The renewal of the co-presidency was supposed to happen on the second Union for the Mediterranean Summit. However, due to the two postponements of the summit, there has been no chance to decide which countries will take over the co-presidency.
The conflict between Turkey and Cyprus has been responsible for the delay in the endorsement of the statutes of the Secretariat,[53] which were only approved in March 2010 even though the Marseille declaration set May 2009 as the deadline for the Secretariat to start functioning.[54] At the Paris summit, the Heads of State and Government agreed to establish five Deputy Secretaries General from Greece, Israel, Italy, Malta and the Palestinian Authority. Turkey's desire to have a Deputy Secretary General and Cyprus' rejection of it, resulted in months of negotiation until Cyprus finally approved the creation of a sixth Deputy Secreaty General post assigned to a Turkish citizen.[53]
Due to its seriousness, the Arab-Israeli conflict is the one that most deeply affects the Union for the Mediterranean.[55] As a result of an armed conflict between Israel and Gaza from December 2008 to January 2009, the Arab Group refused to meet at high level, thus blocking all the ministerial meetings scheduled for the first half of 2009.[56] As well, the refusal of the Arab Ministers of Foreign Affairs to meet with their Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, resulted in the cancellation of two ministerial meetings on Foreign Affairs in November 2009 and June 2010.[57] Sectorial meetings of the Union for the Mediterranean have also been affected by Israel's actions against the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation. At the Euro-Mediterranean ministerial meeting on Water, held in Barcelona in April 2010, the Water Strategy was not approved due to a terminological disagreement of whether to refer to territories claimed by Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese as "occupied territories" or "territories under occupation."[58] Two other ministerial meetings, on higher education and agriculture, had to be cancelled because of the same discrepancy.[59]
After the initial postponement, both France and Spain announced their intentions to hold peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as part of the postponed summit under the auspices of the US. In September, U.S. President Barack Obama was invited to the summit for this purpose. The summit which was then scheduled to take place in Barcelona on 21 November 2010,[60] was according to Nicolas Sarkozy, the summit was "an occasion to support the negotiations."[61]
Nevertheless, at the beginning of November 2010 the peace talks stalled, and the Egyptian co-presidents conditioned the occurrence of the summit on a gesture from Israel that would allow the negotiations to resume. According to some experts Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement of the construction of 300 new housing units in East Jerusalem ended all the possibilities of celebrating the summit on 21 November.[62] The two co-presidencies and Spain decided on 15 November to postpone the summit sine die, alleging that the stagnation of the Middle East Peace Process would hinder a "satisfactory participation."[63]
Having been slowed down by the financial and political situation in 2009, the UfM was given a decisive push in March 2010 with the conclusion of the negotiations on the set-up of its General Secretariat and the official inauguration of the same on 4 March 2010 in Barcelona, in the specially refurbished Palau de Pedralbes.
The European Union Ambassador to Morocco, Eneko Landaburu, stated in September 2010 that he does "not believe" in the Union for the Mediterranean. According to him, the division among the Arabs "does not allow to implement a strong inter-regional policy", and calls to leave this ambitious project of 43 countries behind and focus on bilateral relations.[64]
Since 2011 [ edit ] On 22 June 2011, the UfM labelled its first project, the creation of a seawater desalination plant in Gaza.[65] In 2012, the UfM had a total of 13 projects labelled by the 43 countries in the sectorial areas of transport, education, water and development companies.
In January 2012, the Secretary General, Youssef Amrani was appointed Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in the Benkirane government.[66] He is replaced by the Moroccan diplomat Fathallah Sijilmassi.
In 2013, the Union for the Mediterranean launches its first projects:[67]
30 April: Young women as job creators[68]28 May: Governance & Financing Water in the Mediterranean area[69]17 June: LogismedTA[70] (Training Activities under the Programme on the Development of a Network of Euro-Mediterranean Logistics Platforms)Between 2013 and 2018, thirteen sectorial ministerial meetings took place, in presence of the ministers of the UfM Member States:
UfM Ministerial on Strengthening the role of women in society '' September 2013[71]UfM Ministerial on Transport '' November 2013[72]UfM Ministerial on Energy '' December 2013[73]UfM Ministerial on Industrial cooperation '' February 2014[74]UfM Ministerial on Environment and climate change '' May 2014[75]UfM Ministerial on Digital Economy '' September 2014[76]UfM Ministerial on Blue Economy '' November 2015[77]UfM Ministerial on Regional Cooperation and Planning '' June 2016[78]UfM Ministerial on Employment and Labour '' September 2016[79]UfM Ministerial on Energy '' December 2016[80]UfM Ministerial on Water '' April 2017[81]UfM Ministerial on Urban Development '' May 2017[82]UfM Ministerial on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society '' November 2017[83]UfM Ministerial Conference on Trade '' 19 March 2018[84]In 2015, the UfM had a total of 37 labelled projects[85] 19 of which were in the implementation phase.[AP2] On 18 November 2015, the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), published by the European External Action Service and the Commission and confirmed by the European Council ON 14 December, positions the UfM as a driving force for integration and regional cooperation.[86]
On 26 November 2015, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration, at the initiative of the co-presidents of the UfM, Ms. Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Mr. Nasser Judeh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Jordan, held an informal meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the countries of the UfM in Barcelona to renew their political commitment to the development of regional cooperation in the framework of the UfM.[87]
On 14 December 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A / 70/124 granting observer status to the Union for the Mediterranean.[88]
In February 2016, the UfM-labelled project "Skills for Success" successfully ended its training activities in Jordan and Morocco with high percentages of job placements. The job placement percentage among the total number of job seekers in Jordan and Morocco (115 graduates) is estimated at 49% and 6% of the participants were placed in internships.[89]
On 12 March 2016, the UfM was awarded the prestigious Badge of Honor from Agrupaci"n Espa±ola de Fomento Europeo (AEFE) in recognition of the value of its work for the Universal Values and Human Rights in the Mediterranean region.
On 2 June 2016, the UfM held its first Union for the Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting for Regional Cooperation and Planning, at the invitation of EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Imad N. Fakhoury, Jordanian Minister of Cooperation and Planning.
Ministers recognised the need to boost economic integration among the countries in the region as one of the means to create opportunities for the necessary inclusive growth and job creation. They highlighted the crucial role of the Union for the Mediterranean to that effect, welcoming the work of the UfM Secretariat to help facilitate progress in regional cooperation and integration, including by promoting region-wide projects.[90]
On 18''19 July 2016, the UfM actively participated to the MedCOP Climate 2016, as institutional partner of the Tangier region. MedCOP Climate 2016 provided a forum to present various initiatives and projects supported by the UfM that are helping to formulate a Mediterranean climate agenda, such as the creation of a Mediterranean network of young people working on climate issues; the Regional Committee for Cooperation on Climate Finance, to make funding for climate projects in the region more efficient; and the launch of the UfM Energy University by Schneider Electric.[91]
On 10''11 October 2016, the UfM Secretariat organized in Barcelona the Third High-Level Conference on Women Empowerment, which followed the 2014 and 2015 editions and in preparation of the Fourth UfM Ministerial Conference on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society, due to take place late 2017. The Conference provided a regional dialogue forum where the 250 participants from more than 30 countries stressed the need to invest in the essential contribution of women as a response to the current Mediterranean challenges.[92] A report was prepared following the request formulated by the UfM Paris Ministerial Declaration on Strengthening the role of women in society. The request was "to establish an effective follow-up mechanism as a Euro-Mediterranean forum and to ensure an effective dialogue on women-related policies, legislation and implementation."[93]
On 1 November 2016, the UfM officially launched the "Integrated Programme for the Protection of Lake Bizerte against Pollution" in Bizerte. Tunisia. The event was held in the presence of Youssef Chahed, Head of Government of Tunisia, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, and Fathallah Sijilmassi, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean. With a total budget of more than '‚¬90 million over a 5-year period, the programme will contribute towards cleaning up Lake Bizerte in northern Tunisia, improving the living conditions of the surrounding populations and reducing the main sources of pollution impacting the entire Mediterranean Sea. The project is supported by International financing institutions, such as the European Investment Bank and the European Commission, as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.[94]
In November 2016, the UfM Secretariat officially became observer to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during the COP22,[95] while actively participating through the launch of specific regional initiatives and projects aimed at helping achieve the Paris Agreement targets in the Euro-Mediterranean region.[96]
On 23 January 2017, the Union for the Mediterranean's Member States gave a strong political commitment to strengthen regional cooperation in the Mediterranean by endorsing the UfM roadmap for action at the second Regional Forum of the UfM, which took place in Barcelona on 23''24 January 2017 under the theme of "Mediterranean in Action: Youth for Stability and Development".[97]
This Roadmap focuses on the following four areas of action:
Enhancing political dialogue amongst the UfM members;Ensuring the contribution of UfM activities to regional stability and human development;Strengthening regional integration;Consolidating UfM capacity for action.On 22 February 2017, the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) signed a '‚¬6.5 million multi annual financial agreement to support UfM activities in favour of a more sustainable and inclusive development in the region.[98]
On 10 April 2017, the Heads of State or Government of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain convened in Madrid at the 3rd Summit of Southern European Union Countries, where they reaffirmed their support to the Union for the Mediterranean and stressed its "central role in the consolidation of Euro-Mediterranean regional cooperation, as an expression of co-ownership in the management of our common regional agenda in order to effectively and collectively address our current challenges".[99]
In 2017, 51 regional cooperation projects, worth over '‚¬5.3 billion, have been accorded the UfM label, through the unanimous support of the 43 Member States. Implementation of the projects is accelerating and is producing positive results on the ground.[100]
27 November 2017 Ministers from the 43 Member countries of UfM gathered in Cairo at the 4th UfM Ministerial Conference on ''Strengthening the Role of Women in Society''[101] to agree on a common agenda to strengthen the role of women in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
On 29 November 2017, the UfM Regional Stakeholder Conference on the Blue Economy,[102] brought together over 400 key stakeholders dealing with marine and maritime issues from the entire region, including government representatives, regional and local authorities, international organisations, academia, the private sector and civil society.
On 20 March 2018, the European Commission and the Government of Palestine, in partnership with the Union for the Mediterranean, hosted an international donor Pledging Conference to consolidate financial support to the construction of a large-scale desalination plant and its associated water supply infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.[103]
On 13 July 2018, the UfM will celebrate its 10th anniversary, with 51 regional cooperation projects labelled, 12 regional policy platforms created and over 300 expert fora organised.[2]
Aims and concrete projects [ edit ] The UfM's goal is to enhance regional cooperation, dialogue and the implementation of concrete projects and initiatives with tangible impact on our citizens. The UfM has consolidated an action-driven methodology, with a common ambition of creating effective links between the policy dimension and its operational translation into concrete projects and initiatives on the ground to adequately address the challenges of the region and its key interrelated priorities. This methodology is composed of three components: Policy framework, dialogue Platforms and regional Projects '' namely the ''Three Ps''.
Policy Framework [ edit ] The UfM complements the bilateral work of the European Neighbourhood Policy[104] set up in 2004 and the development policies of UfM member states, driving the emergence of a shared Mediterranean agenda to achieve an impact, not just on the situation of one country, but on regional integration as a whole.
With 43 members, the UfM acts as a central platform for setting regional priorities and sharing experiences of the principal challenges that the region faces.[105]
The UfM Secretariat implements decisions taken at political level through regional and sub-regional sectorial dialogues fora and follow-up activities thereby following through on Ministerial commitments and promoting initiatives to foster regional cooperation.
The work to achieve this goal is carried out in conjunction with other organisations and regional cooperation forums (The Arab League, the Arab Maghreb Union) and alongside sub-regional cooperation fora such as the 5+5 Dialogue with which the UfM is actively associated.[106]
Structured regional dialogues fora have involved over 20,000 stakeholders from around the Mediterranean, including parliamentarians and representatives of international organisations, NGOs, civil society organisations, international financial institutions, development agencies, industry and the private sector, universities as well as think tanks.[100]
In March 2015, the Inter-parliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy, in its final conclusions,[107] described the UfM as "the most efficient and multifaceted cooperation forum in the region".
In May 2016, the Parliamentary Assembly of the UfM recognized, in the final declaration of its 12th Plenary Session, the "importance of the pivotal role played by the UfM in promoting cooperation and regional integration in the Mediterranean ['...]".[108]
In January 2017, at the occasion of the second UfM Regional Forum gathering the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 43 Member States, Ms. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, declared: "we have committed together to break this circle of lack of integration and tensions and conflictuality and invest in a coherent manner on more political dialogue and more regional integrational cooperation on very concrete fields of actions through our Union for the Mediterranean."[109]
Regional projects [ edit ] Via the process of labelisation, the UFM supports projects that address common regional challenges that are likely to have a direct impact on the lives of citizens. The UfM label guarantees regional recognition and visibility for the selected projects. It also gives them access to funding opportunities through the network of financial partners of the UfM.
The main added value of the UfM lies in the interrelation created between the policy dimension and its operational translation into concrete projects on the ground, which in return nourishes the definition of relevant policies through a multi-stakeholder approach. The adoption of projects on the ground follows the principle of ''variable geometry'', providing a degree of flexibility by which a smaller number of countries may decide, with the approval of all, to cooperate and participate in projects of common interest.
In December 2015, 37 projects were labeled by the UfM.[110] As of June 2018, more than 50 projects were labeled by the UfM:[111]
Human Development [ edit ] After a consultation process with stakeholders, the UfM launched in 2013 a regional initiative (Med4Jobs) that defines the priorities of intervention in terms of employability, intermediary services and job creation in the region, under which specific projects are developed.[112]
By 2015, the secretariat of the UfM had labeled 13 projects addressing the challenges of youth employability and inclusive growth. Framed by the political mandate and the priorities expressed in regional dialogues, these projects target 200,000 beneficiaries, mostly young people, and involve over 1,000 small and medium private enterprises.[113]
On Women empowerment, it had also labeled 10 projects benefiting over 50,000 women in the Euro-Mediterranean region, this with the participation of over 1000 shareholders and with a budget of over 127 million euros.[114]
The specific focus on Youth employability and Women empowerment is in line with the UfM's aim at reinforcing human capital in the region, which is the key issue for stability and security in the region.
As of June 2018, the UfM has 28 labelled projects addressing the regional Human Development pillar.
Business Development & Employement [ edit ] Developing Youth Employability & Entrepreneurial Skills '' Maharat MEDMediterranean Entrepreneurship NetworkPromoting Financial Inclusion via Mobile Financial Services in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean CountriesEstablishment of a Regional Platform for the Development of Cultural and Creative Industries and Clusters in the Southern MediterraneanGeneration EntrepreneurEDILE '' Economic Development through Inclusive and Local Empowerment[115]EMIPO '' EUROMED Invest Promotion & Observatory[116]EMDC '' Euro-Mediterranean Development Center for Micro, Small and Medium EnterprisesAgadir SME Programme '' Fostering SME competitiveness and trade in the Agadir Agreement member countriesYouMatch '' ''Toolbox Project'': Elaboration and implementation of a demand-driven toolbox for youth-orientated, innovative labour market services in the MENA regionOrganization and Coordination of the SIEMed Network: Support for Entrepreneurship Initiatives in the Mediterranean[117]INCORPORA, A Labour Integration Program[118] Higher Education & Research [ edit ] MedNC '' New Chance Mediterranean NetworkHOMERe '' High Opportunity for Mediterranean Executive RecruitmentHigher Education on Food Security and Rural DevelopmentEMUNI Master ProgrammesThree areas of EMUNI PhD Research ProgrammesMaster Study Programme in Risk ScienceThe Euro-Mediterranean University of Fes[119]Eastern Mediterranean International School (EMIS) [ edit ] WOMED: the "next generation of leaders"CEED GROW: Growing and Scaling Small and Medium-Sized BusinessesForming Responsible Citizens '' Promoting citizenship education to prevent school violence, particularly against girls and womenDeveloping Women EmpowermentSkills for Success '' Employability Skills for WomenYoung Women as Job CreatorsPromoting women empowerment for inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the MENA region[120]Women's Right to Health '' The WoRTH Project[121]Sustainable development [ edit ] By 2015, 14 projects were labelled by the 43 countries of the UfM, included the cleanup of Lake Bizerte in Tunisia, the construction of the desalination plant in Gaza, and the integrated urban development of the city of Imbaba.[122]
As of June 2018, the UfM has 23 labelled projects addressing the regional Sustainable Development pillar. These projects are expected to have an important socio-economic impact across the region, including on climate action, renewable energy, transport, urban development, water, the blue economy and environment.[100]
Transport & Urban Development [ edit ] UPFI Sfax Taparura ProjectBouregreg Valley DevelopmentImbaba Urban Upgrading ProjectJordanian Railway NetworkCompletion of the Central Section of the Trans-Maghreb Motorway AxisLOGISMED Training ActivitiesMotorway of the Sea (MoS) Turkey-Italy-Tunisia Project[123]MoS OPTIMED IMPLEMENTATION '' Towards a new Mediterranean Corridor: from South-Eastern to North-Western portsUPFI Multi-Site Urban Regeneration Project in JerichoIzmir Urban Integrated Waste Management ProjectTranslogMED, capacity building activities in logistics chain [ edit ] Tafila Wind FarmUfM Energy University by Schneider Electric[124]SEMed Private Renewable Energy Framework - SPREF Water, Environment & Blue Economy [ edit ] Capacity Building Programme on Water Integrity in the Middle East and North AfricaBlueGreen Med-CSMED RESCP '' POST RIO +20: Supporting the adoption of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) and Resource Efficiencu (RE) models in the Mediterranean regionTowards a Mediterranean Water Knowledge PlatformIntegrated Programme for Protection of the Lake Bizerte against PollutionGovernance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water SectorThe "Desalination Facility for the Gaza Strip" ProjectPLASTIC-BUSTERS for a Mediterranean free from litter[125]MedCoast4BG '' Med Coasts for Blue Growth[126]Institutions [ edit ] In contrast with the Barcelona Process, one of the biggest innovations of the Union for the Mediterranean is its institutional architecture. It was decided at the Paris Summit to provide the Union with a whole set of institutions in order to up-grade the political level of its relations, promote a further co-ownership of the initiative among the EU and Mediterranean partner countries and improve the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership's visibility.[23]
North and South Co-presidency system [ edit ] Co-presidents of the UfM, Federica Mogherini,High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Nasser Judeh, Jordan's minister of foreign affairs, next to former Secretary General of the UfM, M. Fathallah Sijilmassi.
With the purpose of guaranteeing the co-ownership of the Union for the Mediterranean, the Heads of State and Government decided in Paris that two countries, one from the EU and one from the Mediterranean partner countries, will jointly preside the Union for the Mediterranean. The 27 agreed that the EU co-presidency had to "be compatible with the external representation of the European Union in accordance with the Treaty provisions in force."[23] "The Mediterranean partner countries decided to choose by consensus and among themselves a country to hold the co-presidency for a non-renewable period of two years."[23]
From 2008 to 2012, France & Egypt ensured the UfM's first co-presidency.
In 2012 the secretariat announced that the co-presidency of Egypt would be succeeded by Jordan, and that of France by the European Union. The change which, took place in September 2012 was decided at a meeting of the high representatives in Barcelona on 28 June.[49]
Meeting of UfM Senior Officials [ edit ] The meeting of UfM Senior Officials, composed of ambassadors and senior Foreign Affairs officials appointed individually by the 43 countries of the UfM, is held several times a year, at regular intervals, at the seat of the Secretariat of UfM in Barcelona or in one of the UfM countries.[127] Its role is to discuss regional issues, guide policies and actions of the organization and to label the projects submitted to it. Each country has an equal vote and all decisions are made by consensus.Alongside these meetings, other UfM meetings take place, especially ministerial meetings that define the Mediterranean agenda on specific issues, such as environment and climate change, the digital economy, the role of women in society, transportation or industry.
Secretariat [ edit ] Headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean
The Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean was inaugurated on 4 March 2010 in an official ceremony in Barcelona.[128]
The task of the permanent Secretariat is to provide operational follow-up of the sectorial ministerial meeting, identifying and monitoring the implementation of concrete projects for the Euro-Mediterranean region, and searching for partners to finance these projects and coordinating various platforms for dialogue.[129]
The Euro-Mediterranean Ministers of Foreign Affairs decided at the Marseilles conference of November 2008 that the headquarters of the Secretariat would be at the Royal Palace of Pedralbes in Barcelona.[130] They also agreed on the structure of this new key institution and the countries of origin of its first members:
The Secretary General is elected by consensus from a non-EU country. His term is for three years, which may be extended for another three.[129] The first Secretary General was the Jordanian Ahmad Khalaf Masa'deh, the former Ambassador of Jordan to the EU, Belgium, Norway and Luxembourg, and Minister of Public Sector Reform from 2004''2005.[131] He resigned after one year in office.[132] In July 2011, the Moroccan diplomat Youssef Amrani takes office. When he is named deputy foreign minister by the Benkirane government, he was replaced as Secretary General by fellow Moroccan Ambassador Fathallah Sijilmassi until February 2018. In June 2018, Egyptian Ambassador Nasser Kamel took office as Secretary General of the UfM, bringing more than three decades of experience in Euro-Mediterranean relations to the role. Nasser Kamel is the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean.
In order to enhance the co-ownership of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, six posts of Deputy Secretaries General were assigned to three countries from the EU and three from the Mediterranean partner countries. For the first term of three years (extendible to another three) the Deputy Secretaries General were:[133]Mr. Panagiotis Roumeliotis (Greece) '' Energy Division;Prof. Ilan Chet (Israel) '' Higher Education and Research Division;Mr. Lino Cardarelli (Italy) '' Business Development Division;Amb. Celia Attard Pirotta (Malta) '' Social and Civil Affairs Division;Dr. Rafiq Husseini (Palestine) '' Water and Environment Division;Amb. Yigit Alpogan (Turkey) '' Transport and Urban Development Division.In 2017, the secretariat of the UfM has a staff of 60 persons from more than 20 nationalities, including the permanent presence of senior officials seconded from the European Commission, the EIB, and CDC.[134]
Other organizations and euro-Mediterranean institutions [ edit ] Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly [ edit ] The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) is not a new institution inside the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership framework. It was established in Naples on 3 December 2003 by the Euro-Mediterranean Ministers of Foreign Affairs and had its first plenary session in Athens on 22''23 March 2004. The EMPA gathers parliamentarians from the Euro-Mediterranean countries and has four permanent committees on the following issues:[135]
Political Affairs, Security and Human RightsEconomic, Financial and Social Affairs and EducationPromotion of the Quality of Life, Human Exchanges and CultureWomen's Rights in the Euro-Mediterranean CountriesThe EMPA also has an ad hoc committee on Energy and Environment.Since the launch of the Union for the Mediterranean, the EMPA's role has been strengthened for it is considered the "legitimate parliamentary expression of the Union".[23]
Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly [ edit ] At the Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Affairs Conference held in Marseilles in November 2008, the Ministers welcomed the EU Committee of the Regions proposal to establish a Euro-Mediterranean Assembly of Local and Regional Authorities (ARLEM in French). Its aim is to bridge between the local and regional representatives of the 43 countries with the Union for the Mediterranean and EU institutions.[136]
The EU participants are the members of the EU Committee of the Regions, as well as representatives from other EU institutions engaged with the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. From the Mediterranean partner countries, the participants are representatives of regional and local authorities appointed by their national governments. The ARLEM was formally established and held its first plenary session in Barcelona on 31 January 2010. The ARLEM's co-presidency is held by the President of the EU Committee of the Regions, Luc Van den Brande, and the Moroccan mayor of Al Hoceima, Mohammed Boudra.[137]
Anna Lindh Foundation [ edit ] The Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, with headquarters are in Alexandria, Egypt, was established in April 2005. It is a network for the civil society organisations of the Euro-Mediterranean countries, aiming at the promotion of intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding.[138]
At the Paris Summit it was agreed that the Anna Lindh Foundation, along with the UN Alliance of Civilizations will be in charge of the cultural dimension of the Union for the Mediterranean.[23]
In September 2010 the Anna Lindh Foundation published a report called "EuroMed Intercultural Trends 2010".[139] This evaluation about mutual perceptions and the visibility of the Union of the Mediterranean across the region is based on a Gallup Public Opinion Survey in which 13,000 people from the Union of the Mediterranean countries participated.
Partnerships with other organizations and Euro-Mediterranean institutions [ edit ] As a platform for dialogue and cooperation, the Union for the Mediterranean engages in strategic partnerships with global, regional and sub-regional organizations.
During the past few years, the UfM strengthened its ties with relevant stakeholders through the signature of various Memoranda of Understanding:
CIHEAM (International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies) '' 8 January 2015EESC (European Economic and Social Committee) '' 13 January 2015Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness '' 26 January 2015AFAEMME (Association of Organisations of Mediterranean Businesswomen) '' 11 February 2015Agency for International Cooperation and Local Development in the Mediterranean '' 16 February 2015British University in Egypt '' 14 March 2015EMUNI University (Euro-Mediterranean University) '' 8 April 2015IRU (International Road Transport Union) '' 10 April 2015IPEMED (Institut de Prospective (C)conomique du monde M(C)diterran(C)en) '' 4 May 2015UNIDO '' 22 May 2015BUSINESSMED '' 9 June 2015BSEC (Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation) '' 18 June 2015UNESCO '' 14 October 2015CETMO (Center for Transportation Studies for the Western Mediterranean) '' 26 November 2015Energy Charter Secretariat '' 26 November 2015EMUNI University '' 1 February 2016International Energy Agency '' 17 February 2016Service de la Coop(C)ration Marocaine '' 8 March 2016UN Habitat '' 5 April 2016Conseil de la R(C)gion Tangier-T(C)touan-Al Hoceima '' 22 June 2016Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain '' 29 July 2016ANIMA Investment Network '' 7 September 2016Groupe interacad(C)mique pour le d(C)veloppement '' 29 September 2016IEMed (European Institute of the Mediterranean) '' 20 January 2017SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) '' 23 January 2017UN Office for South-South Cooperation '' 24 January 2017Fundaci"n Mujeres por Africa '' 24 January 2017AGADIR Technical Unit '' 24 January 2017MENBO Permanent Secretariat '' 10 March 2017EMUNI University '' 14 March 2017Konrad Adenauer Stiftung '' 10 April 2017World Alliance for Efficient Solutions '' 24 May 2017SDSN Mediterranean '' 1 June 2017Institut M(C)diterran(C)en de l'Eau '' 8 June 2017Euro-Mediterranean University of Fes '' 20 June 2017IEMed '' 20 July 2017UNFCCC Secretariat, Organization of the 2017 Forum of the Standing Committee on Finance, 3 August 2017ACUP, International Conference on Sustainable Development Goals, 15 September 2017World Tourism Organization, Institutional cooperation '' IO, 1 October 2017Federal Ministry of Economy '' Germany, Institutional cooperation, 5 October 2017Eastern Mediterranean International School, YOCOPAS Conference, 11 October 2017Arab League, Institutional cooperation '' IO, 17 October 2017Union Internationale Des Transports Publics, Institutional cooperation, 9 November 2017AViTeM '' Villa M(C)diterran(C)e, Institutional cooperation, 21 November 2017General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean of the FAO, Institutional cooperation '' IO, 30 November 2017F(C)d(C)ration de l'Energie du Maroc, Institutional cooperation, 19 December 2017Le Plan Bleu, Joint Editing and publication of a report regarding the environmental changes in the Mediterranean, 22 December 2017Funding [ edit ] The Paris Declaration states that contributions for the Union for the Mediterranean will have to develop the capacity to attract funding from "the private sector participation; contributions from the EU budget and all partners; contributions from other countries, international financial institutions and regional entities; the Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership Facility (FEMIP); the ENPI", among other possible instruments,[23]
The European Commission contributes to the Union for the Mediterranean through the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (ENPI). In July 2009 the ENPI allocated '‚¬72 million for the following Union for the Mediterranean projects during 2009''2010:[140]De-pollution of the Mediterranean ('‚¬22 million).Maritime and land highways ('‚¬7.5 million).Alternative energies: Mediterranean Solar Plan ('‚¬5 million).Euro-Mediterranean University of Slovenia ('‚¬1 million)The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) came into force in 2014. It is the financial arm of the European Neighbourhood Policy, the EU's foreign policy towards its neighbours to the East and to the South. It has a budget of '‚¬15.4 billion and will provide the bulk of funding through a number of programmes. The ENI, effective from 2014 to 2020, replaces the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument '' known as the ENPI.The European Investment Bank contributes to the Union for the Mediterranean through its Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). Specifically, the FEMIP was mandated by the Euro-Mediterranean Ministers of Finance in 2008 to support three of the six concrete projects: the de-pollution of the Mediterranean; alternative energies; and maritime and land highways.[141] Following the June 2012 meeting the EIB announced it would give 500 million euros to support projects for the UfM.[49]The InfraMed Infrastructure Fund was established in June 2010 by five financial entities: the French Caisse des D(C)p´ts, the Moroccan Caisse de D(C)p´ts et de Gestion, the Egyptian EFG Hermes, the Italian Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and the European Investment Bank. On an initial phase, the Fund will contribute '‚¬385 million to the Secretariat's projects on infrastructure.[142]The World Bank has allocated $750 million for the renewable energy project through the Clean Technology Fund.[5]List of Sectorial Ministerial meetings [ edit ] Economic-Financial Meeting, 7 October 2008, Luxembourg City (Luxembourg).[143]Industry, 5''6 November 2008, Nice (France).[144]Employment and Labor, 9''10 November 2008, Marrakech (Morocco).[145]Health, 11 November 2008, Cairo (Egypt).[146]Water, 22 December 2008, Amman (Jordan).[147]Sustainable Development, 25 June 2009, Paris (France).[148]Economic-Financial Meeting, 7 July 2009, Brussels (Belgium).[149]Strengthening the Role of Women in Society, 11''12 November, Marrakech (Morocco).[150]Trade, 9 December 2009, Brussels (Belgium).[151]Water, 21''22 April 2010, Barcelona (Spain).Tourism, 20 May 2010, Barcelona (Spain).Employment and Labour, 21''22 November 2010, Brussels (Belgium).[152]Sustainable Urban Development, 9''10 November 2011, Strasbourg (France).[153]Strengthening the role of women in society '' September 2013, Paris (France).[154][155]Transport '' November 2013, Brussels (Belgium).[72][156]Energy '' December 2013, Brussels (Belgium).[157]Industrial cooperation '' February 2014, Brussels (Belgium).[74]Environment and climate change '' May 2014, Athens (Greece).[75]Digital Economy '' September 2014, Brussels (Belgium).[76]Blue Economy '' November 2015, Brussels (Belgium).[77][158]Employment and Labour - September 2016, Dead Sea (Jordan).[159][160]Energy - December 2016, Rome (Italy).[161]Water - April 2017, Valletta (Malta).[162][163]Sustainable Urban Development - May 2017, Cairo (Egypt).[164]Strengthening the Role of Women in Society '' November 2017, Cairo (Egypt).[165]Trade - March 2018, Brussels (Belgium).[84][166]See also [ edit ] Asia-Pacific Economic CooperationEastern PartnershipEuropean Neighbourhood PolicyFuture enlargement of the European UnionIndian Ocean Rim Association for Regional CooperationOrganization of the Black Sea Economic CooperationReferences [ edit ] ^ Press, The Associated (2013-01-05). 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Deus Ex Machina | Definition of Deus Ex Machina by Merriam-Webster
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 15:12
Definition of deus ex machina 1 : a god introduced by means of a crane (see crane entry 1 sense 3a ) in ancient Greek and Roman drama to decide the final outcome
2 : a person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficulty '... the shipwreck, far from being a tragic peripety, is the deus ex machina which makes it possible for Defoe to present solitary labour '... as a solution to the perplexities of economic and social reality. '-- Ian Watt
Did You Know?The New Latin term deus ex machina is a translation of a Greek phrase and means literally "a god from a machine." "Machine," in this case, refers to the crane that held a god over the stage in ancient Greek and Roman drama. The practice of introducing a god at the end of a play to unravel and resolve the plot dates from at least the 5th century B.C.; Euripides (circa 484-406 B.C.) was one playwright who made frequent use of the device. Since the late 1600s, "deus ex machina" has been applied in English to unlikely saviors and improbable events that bring order out of chaos in sudden and surprising ways.
Examples of deus ex machina in a Sentence Recent Examples on the Web
Enter the deus ex machina of washing machines, one that does all that, and behind an ultra-sleek façade, to boot. '-- Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "The Washing Machine of the Future," 15 Oct. 2018 Numbers are not expected to get better for coal absent the Trump administration playing deus ex machina with the Defense Production Act, which would allow the government to artificially keep coal plants open despite unprofitability. '-- Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "US energy agency: Sorry coal, natural gas is having another record summer," 11 July 2018 What if, instead of climate change or nuclear winter, we were delivered that deus ex machina? '-- New York Times, "Letter of Recommendation: Asteroid Day," 20 June 2018 The finale ended with a too-convenient deus ex machina, with a windfall from a federal flood disaster declaration solving the family's financial troubles. '-- James Poniewozik, New York Times, "How to Save 'The Conners' From Roseanne," 22 June 2018 Sure, some are still angered by the deus ex machina convenience of the messy, benevolent god guiding the humans and cylons alike, but the relationship between creators and their creations was always the central tenet of the series. '-- Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "The 10 best (and five worst) TV series finales of all time," 31 May 2018 But then, like a deus ex machina, the Google Lunar X Prize announced a set of interim goals'--and rewards'--that would give the flagging companies a carrot. '-- Sarah Scoles, WIRED, "The Japanese Space Bots That Could Build 'Moon Valley'," 14 May 2018 When Thor is a literal deus ex machina in the battle for Wakanda, he and Captain America use the brief reprieve to poke fun at changes in their hair, faces, and otherwise. '-- Samantha Nelson, The Verge, "How Avengers: Infinity War uses humor to solve its story problems," 9 May 2018 Carmella's Money in the Bank contract could act as the perfect deus ex machina that allows Asuka and Flair to continue their rivalry past WrestleMania. '-- The Editors Of Gq, GQ, "WrestleMania 34 Is Going to Be a Goddang Blast," 6 Apr. 2018 These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deus ex machina.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
See More First Known Use of deus ex machina1697, in the meaning defined at sense 2
History and Etymology for deus ex machina New Latin, a god from a machine, translation of Greek theos ek mÄ'chanÄ's
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Tumblr will ban all adult content starting December 17th - The Verge
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 18:08
Tumblr will permanently ban adult content from its platform on December 17th in a move that will eradicate porn-related communities on the platform and fundamentally alter how the service is used. The ban includes explicit sexual content and nudity with a few exceptions, the company tells The Verge. The new policy's announcement comes just days after Tumblr was removed from Apple's iOS App Store over a child pornography incident, but it extends far beyond that matter alone. ''Adult content will no longer be allowed here,'' the company flatly states in a blog post set to be published on Monday.
Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity. The new guidelines exclude text, so erotica remains permitted. Illustrations and art that feature nudity are still okay '-- so long as sex acts aren't depicted '-- and so are breastfeeding and after-birth photos.
Users have a chance to appeal flagged content
After December 17th, any explicit posts will be flagged and deleted by algorithms. For now, Tumblr is emailing users who have posted adult content flagged by algorithms and notifying them that their content will soon be hidden from view. Posts with porn content will be set to private, which will prevent them from being reblogged or shared elsewhere in the Tumblr community.
Users have a chance to appeal Tumblr's decision in situations where they think there's been a mistake, and the platform admits there's a chance that the automated tools it's using could make errors. It's a process that could take a while, as a bulk of Tumblr posts feature explicit content. Users who run adult blogs can also export their content before the change takes place in order to save what they have.
Explicit blogs will be allowed to remain on the service, but they'll be heavily censored for all visitors. Here's Tumblr's FAQ:
What if my blog (not to be confused with posts) was marked as ''explicit'' before December 17, 2018?
Blogs that have been either self-flagged or flagged by us as ''explicit'' per our old policy and before December 17, 2018 will still be overlaid with a content filter when viewing these blogs directly. While some of the content on these blogs may now be in violation of our policies and will be actioned accordingly, the blog owners may choose to post content that is within our policies in the future, so we'd like to provide that option. Users under 18 will still not be allowed to click through to see the content of these blogs. The avatars and headers for these blogs will also be reverted to the default settings. Additionally, posts from these blogs are kept out of search results.
''We've given serious thought to who we want to be to our community.''
Since Tumblr was founded in 2007, it has largely turned a blind eye to adult content. The company has tried to shield it from public view through Safe Mode and more stringent search filters. But in recent months '-- and under the ownership of Verizon's Oath unit '-- it began to consider removing content. ''We've given serious thought to who we want to be to our community moving forward,'' CEO Jeff D'Onofrio says in a blog post. ''We've realized that in order to continue to fulfill our promise and place in culture, especially as it evolves, we must change.'' D'Onofrio says Tumblr weighed the pros and cons thoroughly before making its decision. It also decided not to remove explicit accounts because it wanted to give these accounts a chance to post appropriate content instead.
Tumblr has been cleaning up its platform recently
Under Oath, Tumblr has been cleaning up its platform more rapidly than it had done in previous years. In August, Tumblr announced new community guidelines that banned revenge porn, hate speech, and posts that glorified school shootings.
If users mourn the loss of adult content on Tumblr, D'Onofrio claims they have many other solutions. ''There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content. We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community,'' he said. That argument will do little to curtail anger over this decision from people who have used Tumblr as a safe place to enjoy, share, and discuss their preferred flavor of porn and adult content.
Sheryl Sandberg Asked for Soros Research, Facebook Acknowledges - The New York Times
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 18:52
Image Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, wanted to know whether George Soros stood to gain from criticizing the company, according to people with knowledge of an email she sent. Credit Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook's communications staff to research George Soros's financial interests in the wake of his high-profile attacks on tech companies, according to three people with knowledge of her request, indicating that Facebook's second in command was directly involved in the social network's response to the liberal billionaire.
Ms. Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, asked for the information in an email to a senior executive in January that was forwarded to other senior communications and policy staff, the people said. The email came within days of a blistering speech Mr. Soros delivered that month at the World Economic Forum, attacking Facebook and Google as a ''menace'' to society and calling for the companies to be regulated.
Ms. Sandberg '-- who was at the forum, but was not present for Mr. Soros's speech, according to a person who attended it '-- requested an examination into why Mr. Soros had criticized the tech companies and whether he stood to gain financially from the attacks. At the time, Facebook was under growing scrutiny for the role its platform had played in disseminating Russian propaganda and fomenting campaigns of hatred in Myanmar and other countries.
Image Facebook hired an opposition-research firm that gathered and circulated to reporters information about Mr. Soros's funding of groups critical of the company. Credit Simon Dawson/Bloomberg, via Getty Images Facebook later commissioned a campaign-style opposition research effort by Definers Public Affairs, a Republican-linked firm, which gathered and circulated to reporters public information about Mr. Soros's funding of American advocacy groups critical of Facebook.
Those efforts, revealed this month in a New York Times investigation, set off a public relations debacle for Ms. Sandberg and for Facebook, which was accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic attacks against the billionaire. Facebook quickly fired Definers.
The people with knowledge of Ms. Sandberg's email asked for anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the message and feared retribution.
In a statement, Facebook said that the company had already begun researching Mr. Soros when Ms. Sandberg made her request.
''Mr. Soros is a prominent investor and we looked into his investments and trading activity related to Facebook,'' the company said. ''That research was already underway when Sheryl sent an email asking if Mr. Soros had shorted Facebook's stock.'' The company said that while Ms. Sandberg ''takes full responsibility for any activity that happened on her watch,'' she did not personally direct any research on Freedom from Facebook, an anti-Facebook coalition whose members were among the subjects of Definers' later work.
Eddie Vale, a spokesman for Freedom from Facebook, said he was skeptical of the company's account.
''In light of Sandberg's continuously changing story on the Soros research, there's no way their denials about attacking other critics can be taken at face value,'' Mr. Vale said. ''Facebook must immediately release any emails and any research about targeting the Freedom from Facebook coalition or any member organizations.''
The revelation complicates Ms. Sandberg's shifting explanations of her role in Facebook's decisions to hire Definers and go on the offensive against the social network's growing legion of critics. Ms. Sandberg at first denied knowing that Facebook had hired Definers, before acknowledging in a post last week that some of the company's work for Facebook had crossed her desk.
Image Elliot J. Schrage, who oversaw Facebook's communications team and is leaving the company, previously took responsibility for hiring the firm that looked into Mr. Soros. Credit James Lawler Duggan/Reuters In that post, Ms. Sandberg did not explicitly deny that she had asked for research into Mr. Soros. Instead, a deputy who oversaw the communications team but is now leaving the company, Elliot J. Schrage, took responsibility for hiring Definers and initiating Definers' investigation into Mr. Soros. It is unclear what, if any, involvement Ms. Sandberg had in that ultimate response to Mr. Soros.
''We had not heard such criticism from him before and wanted to determine if he had any financial motivation,'' Mr. Schrage said of Mr. Soros. ''Definers researched this using public information.''
Facebook has defended its inquiries into Mr. Soros as a prudent and necessary step for any public company under attack by a high-profile figure '-- particularly one like Mr. Soros, a onetime currency trader who made a fortune in the 1990s betting against the British pound.
But the revelations are likely to escalate pressure on Ms. Sandberg, an embattled Silicon Valley star and feminist author.
The Times investigation found that Ms. Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, had ignored warnings about abuse on the platform and sought to conceal from public view evidence that Russia had used it to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign and help elect President Trump. The Times also found that when Facebook was confronted last spring with revelations that the privacy of tens of millions of users had been compromised by Cambridge Analytica, a Trump-linked data firm, Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Zuckerberg sought to downplay the problem and deflect blame.
But it is Ms. Sandberg who oversees Facebook's policy and communications arms, which starting last year embarked on a hard-edged lobbying campaign to discredit the company's critics and push back on the growing chorus of voices calling for Facebook and other big tech companies to be broken up or more tightly regulated.
Some have called on Ms. Sandberg to be fired. Last week's admission by Mr. Schrage '-- a Sandberg confidante who announced in June that he was leaving the company '-- was widely viewed inside and outside the company as an effort to insulate her from damage.
Facebook hired Definers last year to monitor media coverage and then expanded its role to include campaign-style research and other public relations work.
In a private meeting on Thursday, Ms. Sandberg again distanced herself from Definers and its research into Mr. Soros, according to Rashad Robinson, head of the racial-justice group Color of Change, which was named in a Definers memo about Mr. Soros.
Mr. Robinson said that while meeting with Ms. Sandberg, she denied hiring Definers or directing the firm's research.
''She very much placed it on the now departed communications chief'' '-- Mr. Schrage '-- ''and also worked to assure us that Joel Kaplan had nothing to do with it either,'' Mr. Robinson said. Mr. Kaplan is the company's vice president of global public policy.
Mr. Robinson said he was pleased Ms. Sandberg had agreed to release a progress report on a previously announced internal audit into how Facebook's policies affected minority users and employees. But when he pushed for more on Facebook's involvement with Definers, Mr. Robinson said, Ms. Sandberg kept stressing that Facebook had fired the firm.
''We were not satisfied with that answer,'' he said.
Follow Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg on Twitter: @nickconfessore @AllMattNYT
Reporting was contributed by Sheera Frenkel, Jack Nicas, Cecilia Kang and Mike Isaac.
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Facebook workers turn on Zuckerberg: Founder and CEO could be forced out | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 01:56
Facebook employees are turning on boss Mark Zuckerberg, it was reported last night as British MPs accused the company of spying on users' calls and texts and signing secret deals to hand over their data.
Former workers have described a 'toxic and hostile' atmosphere at the social media juggernaut which has suffered a torrid few years battling data scandals and fake news.
One former senior employee told Buzzfeed News that workers are desperate for a change of leadership.
'People are hoping for a Sundar or Dara moment,' the worker said referring to Uber's new boss Dara Khosrowshahi and Google's chief Sundar Pichai.
April 2018: Zuckerberg before a senate committee to testify after it was reported that 87 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by Cambridge Analytica
Another said staff fear being scolded by furious bosses who are 'spouting full-blown anti-media rhetoric, saying that the press is ganging up on Facebook.'
The source revealed: 'People now have burner phones to talk shit about the company - not even to reporters, just to other employees.'
They said staff are at rock bottom, adding: 'It's the bunker mentality. These people have been under siege for 600 days now. They're getting tired, getting cranky - the only survival strategy is to quit or fully buy in.'
A Facebook spokesman last night admitted: 'This a challenging time.'
Damian Collins, the chairman of Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, published secret Facebook documents
The reports pile even more pressure on Mr Zuckerberg as MP Damian Collins, who is leading an investigation into fake news, yesterday published a 250-page document containing secret emails and private messages between Facebook staff.
It revealed Facebook signed deals to give companies such as Netflix and AirBnB special access to user dater and spied on Android users' calls and texts.
Facebook stock has plunged in recent months and is set to take a beating when the New York Stock Exchange opens Thursday morning after a hiatus for George H.W. Bush's funeral.
Mr Collins used parliamentary privilege to seize the documents - which had been made secret by a US judge - from the founder of US app developer Six4Three, Ted Kramer, who had them as part of a legal case against Facebook.
In an extraordinary move when Mr Kramer was passing through London in November, Mr Collins had him escorted to Parliament and threatened to imprison him if he didn't hand them over.
The documents reveal:
Facebook programmed its android app to see users call and text records in which it admitted was a 'pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective'Facebook aggressively stopped rivals from accessing its users' data to maintain dominance, causing many apps to failCEO Mark Zuckerberg personally approved a decision to block Twitter's app Vine from accessing users' Facebook friends lists Mr Zuckerberg said he was 'sceptical' that apps with access Facebook users' data would pass data on, as then happened in the Cambridge Analytica scandalFacebook used Onavo app it acquired to spy on users' phone usage, apparently without their knowledge, to identify competitors such as Whatsapp to buy outThe messages discuss changes that Facebook made to its site in 2015 which limited apps' access to users' Facebook friends.
The app ThisIsYourDigitalLife exploited this feature to get information from millions of Facebook profiles despite only having around 300,000 direct users, which it later sold to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
In emails sent ahead of the changes being implemented, Facebook senior staff discussed 'whitelisting' several apps - including Lyft, Tinder, and AirBnB - meaning they would keep full access to friend data.
One employee proposed only letting companies who pay a certain amount have access.
Konstantinos Papamiltidas, Facebook's director of platform partnerships, said: 'Communicate in one-go to all apps that don't spend that those permission[s] will be revoked.
'Communicate to the rest that they need to spend on NEKO [a platform that Facebook uses to sell advertising] $250k a year to maintain access to the data.'
Facebook strongly denied ever selling user data and insisted it only granted these companies 'short term extensions' to preserve user experience.
In another email from Mark Zuckerberg himself, sent in 2012, he lays out his vision for how Facebook will generate money in the future, including leveraging developers for access to data.
Collins took the decision to publish the documents after Mark Zuckerberg refused to testify directly to the investigation he is leading into fake news
He writes: 'I'm getting more on board with locking down some parts of platform, including friends data and potentially email addresses for mobile apps.
'Without limiting distribution or access to friends who use this app, I don't think we have any way to get developers to pay us at all...'
In another email, sent around the same time, he discusses charging developers a fee for accessing user data - which he says should 'cost a lot of money' - which they can repay to Facebook by buying their advertising or using their payments service.
He writes: 'A basic model could be: Login with Facebook is always free, pushing content to Facebook is always free, reading anything, including friends, costs a lot of money. Perhaps on the order of $0.10/user each year.
'For the money that you owe, you can cover it in any of the following ways: Buy[ing] ads from us in neko or another system.
What do the Facebook emails say? 1. Facebook planned to let its android app read users' call records in which it admitted was a 'pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective'
Michael LeBeau (Facebook product manager) wrote on 4 February 2015:
'As you know all the growth team is planning on shipping a permissions update on Android at the end of this month. They are going to include the 'read call log' permission... This is a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective but it appears that the growth team will charge ahead and do it.'
2. Facebook aggressively stopped rivals from accessing its users' data to maintain dominance, causing many apps to fail. CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally approved a decision to block Twitter's app Vine from accessing users' Facebook friends lists.
Justin Osofksy (Facebook vice president) wrote on 24 January 2012: 'Twitter launched Vine today which lets you shoot multiple short video segments to make one single, 6-second video... Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today. We've prepared reactive PR, and I will let Jana know our decision.'
CEO Mark Zuckerberg replied: 'Yup, go for it.'
3. Mr Zuckerberg said he was 'sceptical' that apps with access Facebook users' data would pass this data on, as then happened in the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2016
In a 2012 email to Sam Lessin, the company's former VP of Project Management, Mr Zuckerberg wrote:
'I'm generally skeptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think. I agree there is clear risk on the advertiser side, but I haven't figured out how that connects to the rest of the platform. I think we leak info to developers, but I just can't think if any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us. Do you have examples of this?'
4. Facebook CEOs planned to provide user data to apps which paid Facebook a certain amount
Konstantinos Papamiltidas, Facebook's director of platform partnerships, ordered: 'Communicate to all apps that don't spend that those permission[s] will be revoked.
'Communicate to the rest that they need to spend on NEKO [a platform that Facebook uses to sell advertising] $250k a year to maintain access to the data.'
'Run our ads in your app or website (canvas apps already do this). Use our payments. Sell your items in our Karma store.
'Or if the revenue we get from those doesn't add up to more that the fees you owe us, then you just pay us the fee directly.'
Mr Collins, the chairman of Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: 'Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data.
'It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.
'It is clear that increasing revenues from major app developers was one of the key drivers behind the... changes at Facebook.
'The idea of linking access to friends data to the financial value of the developers relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature of the documents.'
Defending his decision to publish the papers, which contravenes a California judge who ruled they should remain a secret, he added that there was a 'considerable public interest'.
He said Facebook had failed to give 'straight answers' to his inquiry after Mark Zuckerberg failed to show up to a grand committee featuring politicians from eight countries last week.
Where do the Six4Three Facebook papers come from and why is Mr Collins allowed to publish them?The documents seized by Collins and his committee stem from a court case being heard in California between app developer Six4Three and Facebook.
Ted Kramer, who owns the developer, launched a suit against Facebook after the tech company restricted to data that one of his apps - Pinkini - could access.
The app was designed to identify bikini photos among albums posted by friends on Facebook, and the restrictions effectively killed it.
As part of the lawsuit, Kramer accuses Facebook of encouraging developers to build apps based around access to data that it then withdrew.
He also alleges that Zuckerberg sold expensive ads to developers in return for long-term access to the data.
This form of access was later exploited by Cambridge Analytica in an attempt to affect elections.
As part of his case, Kramer got his hands on documents - said to include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with Zuckerberg - apparently showing they knew about issues around the privacy of user data.
Facebook fought for months to keep the documents secret, and was ultimately vindicated when a California judge ruled in its favor.
But now Collins has published the documents because he is outside of US jurisdiction and protected in his role as a minister heading up an investigation.
The dossier includes emails written by Mr Zuckerberg himself, as well as hundreds of documents about privileged access to data given by Facebook to certain applications.
Mr Collins said: 'I believe there is considerable public interest in releasing these documents.
'They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market.
'We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.
'We need a more public debate about the rights of social media users and the smaller businesses who are required to work with the tech giants. I hope that our committee investigation can stand up for them.'
The leak relates to a court case between Facebook, an app developer called Six4Three and its app Pinkini, which allowed users to find bikini photos among images uploaded by their friends.
The app was effectively killed when Facebook updated its privacy settings in 2015, and the company is now suing the social media giant.
As part of the legal proceedings, Six4Three was handed a trove of documents from Facebook related to its case, but was told to keep them private.
They were seized by Collins using an obscure parliamentary rule as a Six4Three executive was passing through London in November.
Reacting to the documents being published, a Facebook spokesman said: 'As we've said many times, the documents Six4Three gathered for their baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context.
'We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers.
'Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform.
'But the facts are clear: we've never sold people's data.'
Mr Zuckerberg was 'empty chaired' by the grand committee last week after sent executive Richard Allan for the grilling instead.
Facebook had demanded the Six4Three papers published today be handed back without being opened by MPs or published.
Six4Three managing director Ted Kramer gave the documents to British authorities after being warned he could be banned from leaving the UK if he refused.
Mr Zuckerberg was 'empty chaired' by the grand committee last week after sent executive Richard Allan for the grilling instead
In an extraordinary sequence of events, he ignored three demands for the emails before being personally served by a Serjeant at Arms and meeting Mr Collins in his Commons office.
MPs drew up the 'unprecedented' order to seize the documents after discovering that Mr Kramer was due to visit the UK.
Mr Kramer has claimed in court documents he 'panicked' while in the meeting with Mr Collins and his staff, meaning he copied documents from his cloud storage and onto a USB stick.
What are the accusations against Facebook?Facebook is facing allegations from all over the world that it has been used to spread 'fake news', interfere with elections, and peddle hate.
It is also facing hugely damaging revelations of privacy data breaches among its accounts.
Here are some of the controversies it has been embroiled in:
'Fake news' and Russia
Facebook has come under the spotlight amid claims that Russian accounts used the platform to spread 'fake news' during the 2016 Brexit referendum.
In America, Russians accounts have been accused of using Facebook to harm Hilary Clinton's prospects of being elected over Donald Trump.
In the UK, some have claimed that misleading information was used to promote Brexit in the run up to the 2016 referendum.
Cambridge Analytica Scandal:
The data of around 87 million Facebook users was harvested by the company Cambridge Analytica (CA).
It has been claimed CA used the information to assess peoples' personalities and come up with political strategies to sway voters to back Brexit and Donald Trump.
Spread of extremism and hate
Facebook has been repeatedly criticised for not being quick enough to take extremist content down from its site.
Critics have warned that Facebook has become a safe haven for extremists who peddle hate and try to recruit jihadis to kill and maim.
But after seizing the documents, Mr Collins said: 'Under UK law and parliamentary privilege we can publish papers if we choose to.
'As you know we have asked many questions of Facebook about its policies on sharing user data.
'I believe these documents may contain important information.'
In a statement issued after the committee hearing today, Facebook said of the claim that an engineer had flagged concerns about Russians trawling the site for data: 'The engineers who had flagged these initial concerns subsequently looked into this further and found no evidence of specific Russian activity.'
Lord Allan has also urged Mr Collins not to reveal the documents. He warned Collins yesterday in an email that the documents are 'sub judice before a court in California' and are 'sealed'.
Lord Allan is a Liberal Democrat peer and unlike previous Facebook witnesses at the House of Commons is an expert in Parliament's procedures.
He spent eight years as MP for Sheffield Hallam and was succeeded by Nick Clegg, who has since been hired by Facebook since he lost the seat last year.
A US judge in California had ordered the files, obtained from Facebook via a legal discovery process, could not be revealed to the public earlier this year.
Mr Zuckerberg has repeatedly refused to attend the UK Parliament saying that he has already testified to Congress in the US and before the European Union.
'It is not possible for Mr Zuckerberg to be available to all parliaments,' the firm said.
Facebook said after the documents were seized: 'The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure.
'We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook.
'We have no further comment.'
What is the Cambridge Analytica scandal?Consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica had offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.
The company boasts it can 'find your voters and move them to action' through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.
In 2013, Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan used his app, This Is Your Digital Life, to ask 270,000 Facebook users questions about their personalities.
By answering them, the users granted Kogan access to not only their profiles but to those of their friends.
He subsequently sold that information to Cambridge Analytica for $51million.
Facebook changed its rules in 2014 to limit what data such apps could access.
A year later, the company learned that Kogan had sold his findings and contacted both him and Cambridge Analytica to tell them to delete the data which they promised to do.
In March, Facebook made its announcement that it had suspended Cambridge Analytica after being warned of looming media reports that claimed not all of the information had been destroyed.
Those reports, which were informed by the accounts of whistleblowers who worked at the firm, also revealed the true scale of the breach.
It was initially estimated that the firm was able to mine the information of 55 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.
But Facebook later since revealed the number was actually as high as 87 million.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.
The same information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.
British Member of Parliament publishes 250 pages of damning internal Facebook documents that had been sealed by a US court / Boing Boing
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 11:36
Damian Collins chairs the UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee; it was he who ordered the Parliamentary Serjeant at Arms to drag a visiting US tech executive named Ted Kramer out of his hotel to surrender his laptop to Parliament so they could see the internal Facebook documents that a US federal judge had ordered sealed.
Kramer is CEO of Six4Three, a creepy US startup whose Facebook app helped you find pictures of your friends in bikinis; when the app was neutered by a change to Facebook's API, Six4Three sued Facebook and in the course of pre-trial discovery, they were given extensive internal documents from Facebook, which the judge in the case had ordered sealed. Somehow, Collins got wind of the fact that Kramer, his laptop, and the documents were all in London, and -- having been spurned by Mark Zuckerberg, who repeatedly refused demands to appear in Parliament -- saw his chance.
Now, Collins has dumped a 250 page file, hosted on Parliament's servers, which includes the documents from Kramer's laptop and Collins's summary.
The release comes despite a plea from Facebook to respect the US court order and not publish the documents.
The documents are incredibly damning. They show Facebookers at the highest level -- up to CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg -- conspiring to trick Android users about how much data was being gathered by an update to the Facebook app; to give certain companies "whitelisted" access to user data beyond the access the company had disclosed to its users; to explicitly productize "friends" data (that is, to allow the trick Cambridge Analytica pulled, when getting a user to grant permission to their own data also allowed a company to access their friends' data); to use the Onavo battery-monitor app to covertly gather data on which other apps users had installed; and anti-competitive targeting of partners' apps.
Collins tweeted: "I believe there is considerable public interest in releasing these documents. They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market."
This isn't just one smoking gun, it's hundreds of them. This is Facebook's worst nightmare.
Summary of key issues from the Six4Three files
1. White Lists
Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data. It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.
2. Value of friends data
It is clear that increasing revenues from major app developers was one of the key drivers behind the Platform 3.0 changes at Facebook. The idea of linking access to friends data to the financial value of the developers relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature of the documents.
3. Reciprocity
Data reciprocity between Facebook and app developers was a central feature in the discussions about the launch of Platform 3.0.
4. Android
Facebook knew that the changes to its policies on the Android mobile phone system, which enabled the Facebook app to collect a record of calls and texts sent by the user would be controversial. To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard of possible for users to know that this was one of th e underlying features of the upgrade of their app.
5. Onavo
Facebook used Onavo to conduct global surveys of the usage of mobile apps by customers, and apparently without their knowledge. They used this data to assess not just how many people had download ed apps, but how often they used them. This knowledge helped them to decide which companies to acquire, and which to treat as a threat.
6. Targeting competitor Apps
The files show evidence of Facebook taking aggressive positions against apps, with the consequence that denying them access to data led to the failure of that business.
Summary of key issues from the Six4Three files [Damian Collins MP/DCMS Committee]
Nearly 250 Pages of Devastating Internal Facebook Documents Posted Online By UK Parliament [Jason Koebler and Joseph Cox/Motherboard]
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U.S. Gives Russia 60 Days To Comply With Nuclear Arms Pact
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 14:01
The United States says it will suspend its obligations under a Cold War nuclear arms treaty if Moscow does not return to compliance within two months.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the decision on December 4 after NATO allies meeting in Brussels "strongly" supported U.S. accusations that Russia violated the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between Moscow and Washington.
The pact prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing, or deploying ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,000 kilometers.
Amid heightened tensions between Moscow and the West, U.S. President Donald Trump in October vowed to abandon the treaty, saying Russia had been violating it with a new missile system.
Russia has said little about its Novator 9M729 cruise missile, also known as the SSC-8, other than to deny that it is in breach of the pact.
Accusing Russia of "cheating at its arms control obligations," Pompeo told a news conference in Brussels that Russia has 60 days to return to compliance with the treaty, after which time the United States would suspend its own compliance.
"During this 60 days we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we'll see what happens during this 60-day period," he said.
"We've talked to the Russians a great deal," the state secretary also said. ''We're hopeful they'll change course, but there's been no indication to date that they have any intention of doing so."
Pompeo said Russia had developed "multiple battalions" of the SSC-8, adding that its range "makes it a direct menace to Europe."
'Big Setback'
In a joint statement issued earlier in the day, the NATO foreign ministers said Russia had "developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security."
The ministers from the 29-member alliance called on Moscow to "return urgently to full and verifiable compliance," saying, "It's now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty."
The INF pact bans deploying ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,000 kilometers, such as this Soviet-era projectile. (file photo)French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was "essential to act in a firm and united way" and that Moscow would bear the responsibility if the 1987 agreement collapsed.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that although Moscow has a last chance to comply, "we must also start to prepare for a world without the treaty," which was the first to abolish a whole category of weapons.
"This was really arms control at its best and therefore it's a really a big setback if this treaty now breaks totally down," Stoltenberg said.
In Moscow, Vladimir Shamanov, who heads the Defense Committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, said Moscow would not reply to the West's "false accusations."
"Russia is not the kind of country one can give ultimatums to. Russia too has questions for the U.S., ones that they have left unanswered," said Shamanov, according to the Interfax news agency.
Moscow has alleged that some elements of U.S. missile-defense systems in Europe were in violation of the treaty, which Washington denies.
With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and Interfax
Feels like Trump & Putin are coordinating cold war scenario with MAD to drive economies
Almost 700,000 march to demand 'people's vote' on Brexit deal | Politics | The Guardian
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 09:19
The centre of London ground to a halt as an estimated 700,000 people from all over the UK marched peacefully on parliament to demand a second referendum on Brexit. It was the biggest outpouring of public opposition to government policy since the anti-Iraq war protest in 2003.
The number who descended on the capital to call for a ''people's vote'' exceeded all expectations of both the organisers and police. Addressing the crowds, which included dozens of MPs from all political parties, the TV personality and food writer Delia Smith said Brexit threatened to cause ''unmitigated chaos''.
''The only way we can avoid this total madness and win back our future has to be a people's vote,'' she declared to loud cheers.
The Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said the march showed that British people were beginning to realise that politicians could not deliver a successful Brexit that would protect their jobs, livelihoods and their children's futures. They were afraid of the havoc that would ensue, and wanted a chance to stop it.
''People have woken up to the potential disaster,'' Cable said. ''We've realised there isn't a good deal coming out of this and a lot of people are frightened, people are worried.''
The march coincided with a call from a senior government minister for Tory MPs to drop their ''ideological obsessions'' over Europe, which he said were now threatening to drive the country ''off a cliff''.
Hundreds of thousands attend People's Vote march in London '' videoForeign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan, the de facto deputy to foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, said Conservative MPs and ministers now had a duty to show people they could deliver a sensible, moderate Brexit that was in the national interest. But this would never be achieved if so many remained entrenched in different ideological camps and refused to compromise.
''There simply is no ideal outcome that will suit everyone,'' he said. ''People have to step back from their ideological obsessions and accept a pragmatic compromise. Otherwise we risk inflicting on ourselves massive economic damage, as well as political damage, domestically and internationally, for years to come.''
He added: ''This is the biggest 'get real' moment of my political life. The fate of our country for decades will depend on this. It is as if we are driving towards a cliff, but won't face up to the reality that the road we have chosen will take us over the edge.''
This weekend, however, there was no indication that Tory infighting over Brexit was subsiding. Theresa May is being warned by pro-Brexit cabinet ministers that they will vote against any deal she proposes unless they see legal guarantees that Britain can make a clean break in the future from the EU. Ministers including Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt, Esther McVey and Michael Gove are among those with concerns that moves to solve the Irish border issue could tie the UK to the EU for the long term. Tensions are expected to surface at this week's meeting of cabinet ministers and a key gathering of May's inner Brexit cabinet on Thursday.
With May's authority on the wane, Eurosceptic MPs and donors have been openly discussing the prospect of installing David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, as a short-term leader. A leadership challenge is triggered when 48 Tory MPs submit a letter to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 committee, demanding a contest.
The Observer has spoken to MPs considering submitting their letters this week. ''It is entirely possible that Brady will be making an announcement this week '' that is how bad things are,'' said one MP. ''I'm afraid the last week has rightly reopened questions about the leadership.''
Demonstrators on the march brandished placards saying ''Parliament's divided, the people must decide it'', ''Why the lies, Boris?'', and ''Time for an EU turn''.
John Bramich, who made a four-hour car journey from Stockport to take part, said: ''We hold a general election to choose a new government every five years or less. Brexit is something far more important. Saying that it's undemocratic to hold another vote on it is nonsense.''
Rodolfo Hermans, a Chilean-German national and nanotechnology researcher at University College London, who joined the demo, said: ''The climate towards immigrants such as myself has become terrible. This atmosphere is a true hostile environment, and it is affecting not just those from the EU but people from across the world.''
A Downing Street source said there would be no second referendum: ''We had a people's vote in 2016. A second referendum would really be a politicians' vote '' politicians telling the people they got it wrong the first time and should try again. That would do lasting damage to faith in democracy.
Another pro-remain rally took place in Northern Ireland on Saturday, which converged on Belfast city hall. The crowd, waving EU flags and carrying anti-DUP placards, heard Alliance party leader, Naomi Long, describe the EU as a force for peace.
She said the Brexit debate was not about protecting the UK's union or creating a united Ireland, as it has been characterised by some on opposite sides of the issue.
Long said: ''This is about the people of this place coming together and saying, just like the EU, we value cooperation, we value immigration, we value working together in the best interests of everyone in this society.
''That is why we value the EU, it is not just a model of cooperation, it underpins the very cooperation that we need here.''
A pro-Brexit counter-protest in Harrogate, organised by Nigel Farage, was attended by roughly 1,200 people.
UK PM May's government faces contempt vote over Brexit legal advice | Reuters
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 16:57
LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May's government could be found in contempt of parliament on Tuesday for refusing to release its full legal advice on Britain's exit from the European Union, underlining the depth of opposition to her deal with Brussels.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
The row threatens to overshadow the start of five days of debate in parliament on May's Brexit deal ahead of a crucial vote on Dec. 11, when lawmakers will be asked to approve it.
Opposition parties and the small Northern Irish party that props up May's minority government are furious that it only provided an outline of the legal basis for its Brexit deal after parliament voted to be given the full advice.
They put forward a motion, to be voted on later on Tuesday, that would find ministers in contempt of parliament and order the immediate publication of the advice.
''The government is wilfully refusing to comply with a binding order of this house and that is contempt,'' Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party's Brexit spokesman, told parliament at the start of the debate. ''This motion is a last resort.''
The sanctions ultimately available include suspending a lawmaker, most likely Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.
Such punishment is usually reserved for backbench lawmakers guilty of individual wrongdoing. In reality, the vote is about putting pressure on a weakened government.
Catherine Haddon, senior fellow at the Institute for Government, said the opposition wanted to use ''every opportunity they have to show the instability of the government''.
So many lawmakers from May's own Conservatives and opposition parties have spoken out against the deal that the odds look stacked against her winning the Dec. 11 vote.
Haddon said that, if parliament united against the government on the contempt motion, it would amount to a ''show of force'' that could foreshadow both the final vote on the deal and the various amendments lawmakers are trying to attach to it.
Cox on Monday gave parliament an outline of his legal advice to the government on Monday.
Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom said on Tuesday that this had been a ''full and frank exposition'', and that releasing the full advice would set a dangerous precedent. She said the government had fulfilled the spirit of the order to publish.
May's spokesman said the cabinet agreed that ministers must be able to obtain candid legal advice ''without fear that it will be immediately published''.
The government sought to refer the issue to parliament's Committee of Privileges, which would slow down the process and delay a resolution until after Dec. 11.
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Kevin Liffey
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 11:33
The only thing missing from the utter disgrace of the last ten days has been the taxpaying voters who keep all these arrogant poseurs in a job. It is time we had our say. ¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤
Yesterday's antics in Parliament have convinced the ever-gullible old media in Britain that somehow, an historic victory for ordinary MPs over the Executive power of Cabinet government has been achieved. The vote '' to first of all stop the government behaving like a bunch of brainless Bourbons and release the full legal advice on May's Brexit ''deal'' '' was swiftly followed by another one finding the Executive in contempt of Parliament'....a first. Both brought defeats for the Prime Minister.
It was, opined Sky News, ''historic''. With that, I cannot argue. But within hours, the most determined enemy of popular democracy in the Commons, Dominic Grieve, inflicted an even bigger defeat on May when his amendment was carried. What Grieve did wasn't historic: it was and is a cunning plan to rewrite history. On the surface, it too increases the power of backbench MPs to amend proposed new approaches to Brexit if the risibly termed 'meaningful vote' is also defeated next Tuesday, the 11th December. But in reality, it hands the final say to Remainers in both Houses of Parliament on all future negotiations with the EU : as the Guardian succinctly puts it, 'Whatever motion the government brings back to parliament will now have to be amendable.'
This too is unique in the history of negotiations with a foreign power'....and utterly impractical, because no Government democratic or otherwise can stare down a dictator across the table, and then come back to face 600 argumentative toerags with other agendas on returning to Britain.
Worse still, however, there is no limit to the scope and number of amendments once the May Star Chamber cobbles together another capitulation. Thus one or more of the following likelihoods now rise over the horizon:
A vote by the Commons to abandon, withdraw or cancel Article 50A vote to simply ignore the referendum result '' all too conveniently supplied by the European Court of ''Justice'' during yesterday. In effect, permission from an unelected body to allow an unelected Commission to tell elected MPs that under EU Law, they have a right to break a promise to their elective citizens. Ignoring the 2016 vote, by the way, means having the freedom to stop Brexit and ask Brussels to let us go back to how things were the day before Article 50 was issued.A vote to allow a ''People's Vote'' on the final decision of ParliamentA vote to hold a Second Referendum. (Grieve will fight tooth and nail to stop this, because he is smart enough to see he would probably lose again).Any vote to go for a NoDeal Brexit is of course highly unlikely, given that 75+% of MPs are Remainers.
But throughout all this catalogue of Whitehall apparatchiks, a devious Prime Minister, Brussels, EU judges, Macron and Remainer legislators telling us what to do over the last ten days, one element is completely absent: what we The People want.
There is an old German joke that runs like this: ''How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? Nobody knows, because it's never been tried''.
After nearly two and a half years of obfuscation, filibuster, corrupt censorship, broken pledges and endless black lies, the conclusion of the ordinary Briton must now surely be that nobody knows if Sovereign Brexit could have been achieved, because it was never attempted.
Only now will the gullible perhaps see, with the benefit of hindsight, that from June 2016 onwards, my own country's self determination has been dragged through the mire, buggered and then crucified by coup upon coup upon coup.
The immediate decision of the US globalists and NATO to subvert Brexit, the invasion of the unelected and the foreign busybodies from Campbell to Millar all keen to yell ''We are the 48%'', the attempt by business and liberal media across the globe to denigrate UK voters as 'uneducated', the obdurate time wasting and media rants of bullies like Verhofstadt, Barnier and Juncker to block any attempt at a deal, the Robbins coup against David Davis and his department, the witch hunt to banish Boris Johnson from Conservative ranks'....and now the coup by 400 or so (C)lite dodos to ensure that no stone will be left unturned in the bid to ensure that the people they work for hahahahaha don't get a look in. What a sorry farrago of unspeakable fascists they all are, this ring of the usual suspects '' big business, the military, lobbyists, the media barons, the Sprouts, the bureaucrats and the Westminster whores.
One thing, however, seems at least to be clear: only a General Election where Leave voters punish Remain MPs and create a Front for Sovereign Brexit now stands any chance of getting what we voted for in 2016.
Will a General Election produce tactical voting to achieve that? I don't know, I increasingly doubt it, and to be blunt'....I no longer give a damn.
Do not hold your breath waiting for spineless Conservative tribalists to depose their unelected Leader. Do not expect anything honourable or principled from the Corbynistas. The sole ambition both these disparate groups share is their naked lust to retain and achieve power respectively.
Today '' as part of a long-planned strategy '' Nigel Farage decided to leave UKIP. That he has been planning the launch of a new pro-Brexit Party is Britain's worst kept secret. Don't hold your breath waiting for Tories to declare for him and join the new bandwagon.
I don't like or trust the bloke, but he is the one chance a disparate group of disenfranchised and cheated Brits '' the disabled, the 50's born SPA victims, small business, genuinely ambitious exporters and those who prefer Sovereign independence from any and all blocs '' will get (even under our iniquitous FPTP system) to help create one movement capable, at long last, of stopping our polite promenade through the dark gates of dictatorship.
For those who genuinely want to do that, I would suggest that a no-holds-barred, To Hell With Party Allegiances approach is the only alternative to such a sorry end to a once great country. Every MP that comes round to the idea of forcing an election is a step in the right direction, whatever part of our useless legislature they sit in.
As I have written many times, this stopped being about Brexit months ago. From here on, it's a fight for citizen sovereignty and accountable government.
If this accords in any way with your take on things, you might want to read this too
Qatar will pull out of OPEC amid tension with Saudi Arabia
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 09:52
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) '-- The tiny, energy-rich Arab nation of Qatar announced on Monday it will withdraw from OPEC in January, mixing its aspirations to increase production outside of the cartel's constraints with the politics of slighting the Saudi-dominated group amid the kingdom's boycott of Doha.
The surprise announcement from Qatar's minister of state for energy affairs, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, again throws into question the role of the cartel after needing non-members to push through a production cut in 2016 after prices crashed below $30 a barrel.
It also marks the first time a Mideast nation has left the cartel since its founding in 1960.
In a statement, al-Kaabi said Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquified natural gas, planned to increase its exports from 77 million tons of gas per year to 110 million tons. He also said Qatar wants to raise its oil production.
''In light of such efforts and plans, and in our pursuit to strengthen Qatar's position as a reliable and trustworthy energy supplier across the globe, we had to take steps to review Qatar's role and contributions on the international energy scene,'' al-Kaabi said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment from Vienna-based OPEC, which is to meet this month and discuss possible production cuts. In November, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC and allied oil-producing countries will likely need to cut crude supplies, perhaps by as much as 1 million barrels of oil a day, to rebalance the market.
Qatar produces only some 600,000 barrels of crude oil a day, making it OPEC's 11th biggest producer. The loss of production, under 2 percent of overall OPEC supply a day, won't greatly affect the cartel's position in the market.
Anas Alhajji, an oil analyst, said Qatar's decision ''has no impact on the market either way whether they're in or they're out.''
''The cost for them is higher than the benefit'' of remaining in OPEC, Alhajji said. ''This is just like shutting down a losing business.''
Qatar, a country of 2.6 million people where citizens make up over 10 percent of the population, discovered its offshore North Field gas deposit in 1971, the same year it became independent.
It took years for engineers to discover the field's vast reserves, which shot Qatar to No. 3 in world rankings, behind Russia and Iran, with which it shares the North Field. It's also made the country fantastically wealthy, sparking its successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Qatar's wealth also has seen it take on a larger importance in international politics. Its political stances, often supporting Islamists, have drawn the ire of its neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest exporter.
In June 2017, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut ties to Qatar in a political dispute that continues to this day. They also launched an economic boycott, stopping Qatar Airways flights from using their airspace, closing off the small country's sole land border with Saudi Arabia and blocking its ships from using their ports.
They say the crisis stems from Qatar's support for extremist groups in the region, charges denied by Doha. The four nations have also pointed to Qatar's close relationship with Iran, with which its massive offshore gas field. Qatar restored full diplomatic ties to Iran amid the dispute.
OPEC, or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, was formed in 1960 as a reaction to Western domination of the oil industry.
Qatar was the first nation outside of its founding members to join the cartel, entering its ranks in 1961. Qatar is a nation about the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut, which juts out from the Arabian Peninsula into the Persian Gulf. It hosts the al-Udeid Air Base, the home of the forward headquarters of the U.S. military's Central Command and some 10,000 American troops.
With Qatar, OPEC had 15 members, including Algeria, Angola, Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. OPEC nations like Ecuador, Gabon and Indonesia have either withdrawn or suspended their membership in the past, only later to rejoin. Qatar could potentially do the same.
OPEC sets production targets for its members in an effort to control the price of oil available on the global market. However in recent years, oil-producing nations outside of the group like the United States and Russia have played a larger role in affecting prices.
Among its members, Saudi Arabia is by far its largest oil exporter, hitting a record high in November of over 11 million barrels of oil a day.
President Donald Trump repeatedly has criticized both OPEC and American ally Saudi Arabia over rising oil prices in recent weeks, demanding a production hike to drive down U.S. gasoline prices. That rising supply, coupled with the Trump administration allowing many countries to continue to import Iranian oil despite his targeting of Tehran with sanctions, has seen global prices drop.
Benchmark Brent crude for instance reached over $85 a barrel in early October, only to drop sharply in the time since. It was over $61 a barrel in trading Monday.
This story has been corrected to show that the name of the minister is Saad Sherida al-Kaabi.
Anti-migration party Vox wins big in Spain as Europe's populist wave continues
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 09:52
Populist party Vox in Spain has gained 12 parliamentary seats in the regional election of Andalusia. For the first time in DECADES, a right-wing party, has won seats in Andalusia on Sunday. The Vox party won 12 seats which surpassed the five seats predicted.
Vox are tough on immigration and since being founded in 2014, have been called far-right, populist, anti-immigrant and anti-Islam.
The party's leader, Santiago Abascal thinks its recent increase in support is because it is ''in step with what millions of Spaniards think''.
The Socialist Party has ruled Andalusia for 36 years and winning 33 seats on Sunday were still the leading party.
However, they fell short of a majority, which means that the conservative Popular Party (PP), having come in second, could potentially form a coalition in the region with Vox and the centre-right Citizens party. The three parties hold a majority of seats.
The nationalist movement is storming Europe!
Denmark to banish foreign criminals to remote island
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 19:45
F oreign criminals sentenced to deportation are to be banished to a remote island off the coast of Denmark, the country's government has announced.
Finance minister Kristian Jensen said the criminals will be detained at a facility on Lindholm, an uninhabited seven-hectare island in the province of Vordingborg.
The tough scheme was set up as part of an agreement between Denmark's conservative coalition government and its anti-immigration ally, the Danish People's Party (DF).
The DF's official Twitter account celebrated the announcement by publishing an animated cartoon which shows a dark-skinned man being dumped by a ship on a desert island.
A spokesman for the party said: "Foreign criminals have no reason to be in Denmark. Until we can get rid of them, we will move them to the island of Lindholm, where they will be obliged to stay at the new deportation centre at night.
"There will be police there around the clock."
The Lindholm facility will house rejected asylum seekers who have been convicted of crimes, as well as foreign citizens who do not have permission to stay but cannot be deported for legal reasons.
For example, some of those due to be detained at the facility are stateless, while others come from countries which do not have a readmission agreement with Denmark.
''They will not be imprisoned,'' Mr Jensen told Danish news agency Ritzau.
''There will be a ferry service to and from the island, but the ferry will not operate around the clock, and they must stay at the departure centre at night. That way we will be better able to monitor where they are."
A ccording to Danish news website The Local, opposition figures have strongly criticised the proposals, which one politician described as a "humanitarian collapse."
"The green government I want to lead would never force people on to a deserted island," said Uffe Elb...k, a prime ministerial candidate and leader of the Alternative party.
"Inhuman politics are creating a completely different Denmark to the Denmark I love," he added.
Morten stergaard, leader of the Social Liberals, said the island facility was merely a "symbolic" gesture that would not tackle the root cause of the country's crime and immigration woes.
There are already two detention centres in Denmark for criminals and failed asylum seekers: K...rshovedg¥rd and Sj...lsmark.
Though nearly 87 per cent of the country's population is of Danish descent, the number of migrants and refugees from non-Western countries such as Afghanistan and Syria has risen sharply.
'Debat over Marrakesh-pact interessant, maar uitkomst staat al vast' | NOS
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 11:43
Volgende week stemt het Nederlandse kabinet in Marrakesh in met het migratiepact van de Verenigde Naties. Een deel van de Tweede Kamer zal vandaag nog proberen de regering op andere gedachten te brengen, maar dat gaat niet lukken, stelt politiek verslaggever Xander van der Wulp. Hij verwacht desalniettemin een stevig debat.
Het Marrakesh-debat, dat vanmiddag om 16.45 uur begint, is aangevraagd door Forum voor Democratie-leider Baudet. Van der Wulp wijst erop dat deze politicus "vaak benadrukt dat debatten in de Tweede Kamer nutteloos zijn, omdat de uitkomst van te voren vaststaat. En dit is wel zo'n debat."
Het debat is rechtstreeks te volgen op themakanaal NPO Politiek en via onze site. Klik daarvoor hier.
Het kabinet heeft volgens hem "flink in z'n maag gezeten" met het omstreden pact. Landen als Oostenrijk en Hongarije hebben al laten weten het niet te steunen. De voorstanders vinden dat er nuttige afspraken in staan over veilige en gereguleerde migratie. Terwijl de tegenstanders denken dat het de deur openzet voor een nieuwe stroom mensen.
Afgelopen vrijdag heeft het kabinet besloten dat Nederland het pact gaat steunen, maar wel met een extra verklaring zal komen waarin nog eens wordt benadrukt dat migranten er juridisch geen rechten aan kunnen ontlenen. Het staat al vast dat dat in de Kamer voldoende steun krijgt.
'Verschillende wereldbeelden'Toch wordt het vanmiddag een interessant debat, denkt Van der Wulp. "Ik denk dat je een botsing tussen twee wereldbeelden gaat zien. Tussen partijen die gericht zijn op internationale samenwerking aan de ene kant en partijen die angst hebben voor migratie en hoe dat Nederland gaat veranderen aan de andere kant."
D66-fractieleider Jetten is een voorbeeld van die eerste stroming. Hij zei gisteravond in Nieuwsuur dat het pact bij kan dragen aan het oplossen van het migratievraagstuk. "Als landen zich er niet aan houden, kunnen we er met dit pact in de hand naar toevliegen en hen wijzen op hun verantwoordelijkheid." Hij vreest dat Nederland aan de zijlijn komt te staan als het dit pact niet steunt.
Lijnrecht tegenover hem staat Baudet, die in dezelfde uitzending zei dat het pact ongereguleerde migratie juist zal aanjagen. "Als het kabinet naar Marrakesh gaat, zegt het tegen heel Afrika: wir schaffen das, kom maar hier naartoe. Dat is het signaal. Dat moeten we echt niet doen. De grote vraag is: zijn er nog VVD'ers en CDA'ers met een geweten."
Motie van wantrouwenOp die twee regeringspartijen zal Forum voor Democratie vandaag zijn pijlen richten, verklaart Van der Wulp. Want met name bij de VVD werd het de laatste weken steeds lastiger het pact te blijven steunen. "Ze zijn overstag gegaan, omdat er ook afspraken in staan over terugkeer naar landen van herkomst en het belangrijk is om de weg naar diplomatie open te houden."
Staatssecretaris Harbers zal het vandaag niet gemakkelijk krijgen. De PVV heeft al aangekondigd dat er een motie van wantrouwen tegen hem of tegen het hele kabinet wordt ingediend. Maar het zal nog "een strijdje" worden welke van de rechtse oppositiepartijen die gaat indienen, denkt Van der Wulp. Baudet heeft het debat aangevraagd en is daarmee de eerste spreker. Hij ligt wat dat betreft aan kop.
Hatch Act
OSC warns against anti-Trump 'resistance' chatter -- FCW
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 10:06
OSC warns against anti-Trump 'resistance' chatter By Chase GunterNov 30, 2018A memo from a civil service protection office warns feds about possible Hatch Act violations arising from impeachment chatter or mentions of "resistance" while on the job.
The Office of Special Counsel, which enforces whistleblower protections and policies Hatch Act violations, cautioned federal employees that advocating for or against impeachment of a candidate for federal office is considered a violation of the Hatch Act -- as are "usage of the terms 'resistance,' '#resist,' and derivatives thereof." The Hatch Act prohibits partisan political activity while on the job for most federal employees.
The Nov. 27 memo was sent to a federal employee listserv and obtained and published by the New York Times.
"Now that President Trump is a candidate for reelection,'' the guidance states, "we must presume the use or display of 'resistance,' '#resist,' '#resistTrump,' and similar statements is political activity unless the facts and circumstances indicate otherwise."
In a Nov. 30 clarification of to the guidance, OSC explained that the resistance phrases "have become slogans of political parties and partisan political groups, including in their efforts to oppose President Trump's reelection."
The clarification also counseled that it would be impermissible for an employee to "display in his or her office a poster that states '#Impeach45' or place a 'Don't Impeach Trump' bumper sticker on a government-owned vehicle because such conduct advocates for or against impeachment of a candidate for federal office."
Walt Shaub Jr., former head of the Office of Government Ethics, noted on Twitter that there appears to be a disparity between the treatment of the resistance slogans now and Tea Party slogans in the past, which were permitted.
"I'm all for a hardline on the Hatch Act, but I'm opposed to disparate treatment based on the content of speech," Shaub tweeted.
Just days after the initial guidance was issued, OSC dinged six administration officials for violations of the Hatch Act over tweeting political support for the Republican Party or Donald Trump, some for using campaign slogans like "Make America Great Again" and "MAGA" in official tweets.
Raj Shah, the top deputy to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, and Alyssa Farah, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, were among those named by OSC as violators.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed the complaints against the administration officials.
"While we are glad to see the OSC confirm CREW's findings of Hatch Act violations, warnings have not been enough to deter Trump Administration officials from using their official positions to engage in partisan political activity in direct violation of the law," said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder in a statement. "Since the time that these violations were committed, CREW has filed 11 additional Hatch Act complaints against Trump officials. Simply put, OSC must consider additional measures to prevent these rampant abuses."
Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, the communications director for the First Lady Stephanie Grisham and the White House director of social media Dan Scavino have been reprimanded for Hatch Act violations under the Trump Administration.
About the Author
Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.
Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.
Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.
Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter
OMB looks to retrain feds to fill cyber needs The federal government is taking steps to fill high-demand, skills-gap positions in tech by retraining employees already working within agencies without a cyber or IT background.
GSA to consolidate multiple award schedules The General Services Administration plans to consolidate dozens of its buying schedules across product areas including IT and services to reduce duplication.
With elections over, CISA focus shifts to risk management center DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signaled that her newly minted cybersecurity agency will shift its focus to a number of longer term initiatives around risk and supply chain.
Tribune News Service | Preview | Senior aides push back on Trump's claim that China agreed to cut auto tariffs
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 04:49
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BC-USCHINA-TARIFFS-1ST-LEDE:LA '-- national, business, itop (800 words)
Senior aides push back on Trump's claim that China agreed to cut auto tariffs
WRITETHRU (EDITORS: Updates with White House correcting Larry Kudlow to say the 90-day trade truce with China began on Dec. 1.)
By Jim Puzzanghera
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON '-- President Donald Trump's top economic advisers pushed back Monday on his claim that China has agreed to eliminate tariffs on U.S. auto imports, saying no such agreement had been struck.
The unusual dispute was the latest to suggest that Trump's handshake agreement on trade during a working dinner Saturday night in Argentina with Chinese President Xi Jinping remains open to divergent interpretation, even in the White House.
On Sunday night, after returning to the White...
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Stock Market Drops 700+ Points As Trump Declares Himself 'Tariff Man' | Daily Wire
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 11:15
On Tuesday, the stock market plummeted in the wake of President Trump's troubling tweets about the possibility of a renewed trade war with China. Despite Trump's signals on Monday that he was backing off of a trade confrontation with China, he doubled down on Twitter on the supposed inherent good of tariffs themselves, going so far as to dub himself ''a Tariff Man'':
The negotiations with China have already started. Unless extended, they will end 90 days from the date of our wonderful and very warm dinner with President Xi in Argentina. Bob Lighthizer will be working closely with Steve Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow, Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro.....
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2018 ......on seeing whether or not a REAL deal with China is actually possible. If it is, we will get it done. China is supposed to start buying Agricultural product and more immediately. President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will. But if not remember,......
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2018 ....I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2018 .....But if a fair deal is able to be made with China, one that does all of the many things we know must be finally done, I will happily sign. Let the negotiations begin. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2018Trump's economic team has spun his knee-jerk protectionism as a tactic designed to negotiate ''better'' trade deals '' but so far, those better trade deals don't seem to be stronger than the status quo ante. Greg Ip of The Wall Street Journal points out that Trumpian tariffs have not affected the broader American economy thus far, but that the markets fear that could change in 2019:
The accumulating list of irritants and flashpoints between the U.S. and its trading partners could spill over through other, less obvious channels such as confidence, financial markets and investment, compounding other threats such as rising U.S. interest rates and capital flight from emerging markets'... Chad Bown, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, estimates that 12% of U.S. imports were covered by tariffs in September. Assuming Mr. Trump goes ahead and hits the remainder of Chinese imports, that will top 20%.
While tariffs alone shouldn't destroy the economy, they certainly add weight to the burden of other problems: falling oil prices, slowing real estate markets, the flattening of the yield curve thanks to ''hawkish'' comments from the Federal Reserve, and the sinking stock market. None of this is a recipe for economic health. We are now nearly a full decade into economic recovery. Investors are obviously wary that that recovery may slowly be turning in a negative direction. President Trump's economically illiterate trade commentary won't help '' and is driving American allies to ramp up their own trade barriers to retaliate.
Ratelband is blij met uitspraak | Entertainment | Telegraaf.nl
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 14:31
De positiviteitsgoeroe wendde zich tot de rechter om zijn leeftijd met 20 jaar te verlagen. Hij voelt zich 49, maar is 69 en stelt sociaal te lijden onder die leeftijd en alles wat daarbij komt kijken, van het krijgen van AOW tot leeftijdsdiscriminatie op de arbeidsmarkt.
De rechtbank stelde maandag in zijn vonnis onder meer dat er andere wegen openstaan voor Ratelband als hij zich gediscrimineerd voelt, zoals het maken van een melding of het doen van aangifte. Ratelband ziet daar echter geen heil in. 'žIk probeer de weg te plaveien voor duizenden anderen die te lijden hebben onder hun paspoortleeftijd. We verzamelen op deze manier allerlei rechterlijke uitspraken om daar op verder te kunnen bouwen. We gaan in hoger beroep aantonen dat ik fysiek 49 ben. Ik heb rapporten van artsen waaruit dat duidelijk blijkt, bijvoorbeeld aan de hand van mijn celdikte. Dat hebben we nog even achter gehouden, maar we gaan dat zeker gebruiken in de volgende zaak.''
'žDe rechtbank heeft het er alleen maar over dat mijn verzoek niet te vergelijken is met transgenders die van geslacht willen veranderen, of mensen die een andere naam willen aannemen. Maar we hebben het ook over 'zeitgeist' en gevoelsleven. Daar gaan we het in hoger beroep over hebben. We kunnen nu zeggen: de rechter zegt dit en dit, en wij gaan aantonen waarom we het daar niet mee eens zijn.'' Ratelband vindt het onterecht dat de rechtbank in zijn vonnis, naar zijn mening te veel, is ingegaan op de maatschappelijke en praktische gevolgen van een leeftijdsverandering. 'žWat gebeurt er dan met die twintig jaar die ik feitelijk wel heb geleefd, maar daar hebben we het helemaal niet over.''
'žIk vind deze uitspraak fantastisch, want nu hebben we jurisprudentie waarmee we verder kunnen.''
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Letters HUH opgedoken op Museumplein | Binnenland | Telegraaf.nl
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 18:40
Wiersema maakte de letters voor de Dutch Design Week. 'žHuh is een universeel begrip om overal ter wereld je onbegrip te uiten. Ik wilde hiermee de leegte die is ontstaan door het weghalen van I amsterdam opvullen. Dit maakt de overgang wat draaglijker.'' Volgens de designer maken toeristen op het plein nu selfies bij haar letters. 'žJe ziet dat iedereen het snapt, er staan mensen vanuit de hele wereld bij en ze doen allemaal heel bevragend hun handen omhoog.''
Net te laatDe manshoge letters I amsterdam werden maandagochtend vroeg op twee opleggers getakeld en afgevoerd. Drie Maleisische toeristen kwamen net te laat voor een selfie. 'žIk voel me een beetje verdrietig'', zei een van hen toen ze de trucks met de letters weg zag rijden. Haar reisgenoten legden het tafereel vast op hun telefoon en constateerden: 'žMaar we hebben nu wel een belangrijk moment gezien, dat ze zijn weggegaan.''
De ontmanteling is op voorstel van de grootste partij in de Amsterdamse gemeenteraad, GroenLinks. Die vond de bij toeristen populaire letters een symbool van 'doorgeslagen individualisme'. Het voorstel kreeg veel kritiek, maar een meerderheid van de raad stemde er toch mee in.
De letters krijgen nu een opknapbeurt. Dat is volgens een woordvoerster van Amsterdam Marketing wel nodig, want na tien jaar op het Museumplein is de bovenkant door 'žal het geklauter'' helemaal kaal. Daarna gaan ze rondreizen door de stad, zoals oorspronkelijk bedoeld. Volgens de zegsvrouw heeft het weghalen van de letters op deze plek dan ook vooral te maken met de drukte op het Museumplein. 'žI amsterdam blijft het motto van de stad'', vertelde ze. 'žDe letters staan voor het open en tolerante karakter van Amsterdam, of je hier nu lang of kort blijft, je kunt een Amsterdammer zijn in al je veelkleurigheid.''
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Baby, It's Cold Outside won't be played on some radio stations, including CBC | CBC News
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:39
Baby, It's Cold Outside is getting a chilly response from Canadian radio stations this year.
CBC Radio said Tuesday it will join at least two other broadcasters in the country, Rogers Media and Bell Media, who have pulled the controversial holiday favourite out of their rotations this year.
That comes as the duet, written back in 1944, faces renewed scrutiny over what some say are inappropriate lyrics in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Earlier this week, Cleveland radio station WDOK-FM announced it stopped playing the song in response to listener feedback. Some people took issue with lyrics where one singer is trying to persuade the other to stay inside, with exchanges that include, "What's in this drink?" and "Baby, don't hold out."
Bell Media spokesperson Scott Henderson said the company, which runs two 24-hour Christmas stations in Vancouver and Ottawa, didn't include the Christmas tune on its playlists this year. But it also told stations it doesn't plan to reintroduce the song in the future.
CBC public affairs head Chuck Thompson said, "CBC Music will be pulling the song from its rotation as of midnight and has no plans to play it going forward."
Rogers runs a number of all-Christmas music stations, including 98.1 CHFI-FM in Toronto and 98.5 CIOC-FM in Victoria.
Spokesperson Caitlin Decarie says the broadcaster also removed the song this year, but declined to outline how it reached the decision.
"There are so many wonderful songs that celebrate the holiday season," she said.
A holiday classicBaby, It's Cold Outside has been considered a holiday classic ever since it won the Academy Award for best original song in the film Neptune's Daughter, starring Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalbn.
It's since been covered countless times by singers such as Ray Charles and Betty Carter, Idina Menzel and Michael Bubl(C), Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart, and Emilie-Claire Barlow and Marc Jordan.
Concern over the song has existed for years, leading to many reinterpretations of the lyrics.
Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt flipped the gender roles in a performance for the pop singer's 2013 holiday special with the Muppets.
And two years ago, Minnesota couple Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski rewrote the lyrics to include lines about consent, such as a response to the woman's line "I ought to say no, no, no" with the man saying: "You reserve the right to say no."
Healthy food is the latest trend in baby names '-- Quartzy
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 20:07
Parents often name their babies after the things they love'--from characters in movies, reality TV, and video games right down to their favorite foods.
The parenting website BabyCenter recently released its report on baby name trends in the US. The report is based on hundreds of thousands of names that parents provide the website each year. Given that about 4 million babies are born annually in the US, BabyCenter's list of the most popular baby names is neither comprehensive nor nationally representative. Still, it's fun.
This year's findings suggest that parents are increasingly inspired by the wellness movement. Names related to spiritual practices like yoga or meditation, like Peace, Harmony, or Hope, have risen in popularity, and so have names tied to healthy food trends. Say hello to the age of Baby Kale.
''As fast food and processed snacks lose ground to clean eating and Paleo diets, more Gen Z and Millennial parents are choosing baby names that reflect their love of healthy foods,'' BabyCenter explains in its press release. For girls, parents are increasingly picking names like Kale, Kiwi, Maple, Hazel, Clementine, Sage, Saffron, and Rosemary. Names like Saffron, Sage, and Hazel are also on the rise for boys.
It's a trend that's been underway for some time. Bon App(C)tit Magazine published a feature in 2014 that found that this is far from a new phenomenon: ''Turns out, parents have been giving their kids grocery-inspired names for just about as long as there have been babies (or at least since 1880, which is when the US government started keeping track of them).'' Take the name Kale, for example:
''Looks like kale has been America's darling for longer than we originally thought'--the name was first used in 1962. And while we were not surprised to learn that the highest concentration of little Kales can currently be found in California (#agriculture), we were intrigued to learn that the first baby Kale was born in Kansas. It's been gaining popularity since 2005'--quite possibly due to the leafy green's parallel rise to prominence. Can Watercress and Mizuna be far behind?''
If you are a die-hard fan of crunchy greens, or just want to check out some of these names for yourself, here is BabyCenter's popular baby names category. There's also a baby name visualizer that lets you see where the popularity of these names is rising and falling across the US.
Some observers have remarked that food-inspired baby names are the latest examples of parents attempting to out-do one another in naming their children. Call it competitiveness or race-to-the-bottom, but examples abound, from Gwyneth Paltrow naming her daughter Apple to Gwen Stefani calling her son Zuma Nesta Rock. Writing in The Spectator, Mark Mason describes this new naming frenzy:
''Naming your child was once simple: You picked from the same handful of options everyone else used. But modern parents want exclusivity. And so boys are called Rollo, Emilio, Rafferty and Grey. Their sisters answer to Aurelia, Bartolomea, Ptarmigan or Plum. Throw in a few middle names and the average birth certificate looks like an earthquake under a Scrabble board.''
But if recent food baby name trends are any indication, Rafferty and Bartolomea are positively traditional. So, let's hope the buck stops there'--and we don't start to name our kids ''fish oil'' or ''chia seed.''
Ministry of Truthiness
Why I'm spending $100 million on 'the pursuit of truth'
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 08:55
Why I'm spending $100 million on 'the pursuit of truth'
Skip to sections navigationSkip to contentSkip to footerBy Judith Neilson 3 December 2018 '-- 12:05am
If I had any doubt that my investment in an institute to support ''evidence-based journalism and the pursuit of truth'' was a worthy ambition it has been swept away by the overwhelming positive response to the announcement.
I expected journalists, and the media industry generally, to welcome the initiative. But more heartening has been the reaction of the wider community. People from around Australia, and the world, have inundated my office with messages of thanks and support.
Billionaire Judith Neilson has pledged $100 million to further the cause of journalism. Credit: Janie Barrett
That tells us a lot about the state of the world at the moment. Many of us are concerned about the quality of our governance, the state of our media, and how we as citizens can make sense of an increasingly complicated world and communicate with each other in meaningful ways.
The original idea for a journalism institute grew out of conversations I had with friends and advisers about what might be done to enrich our civic life '' its institutions and the quality of public discourse.
Journalism has many critics; I believe journalism also needs its champions.
Initially, I was focused on the Australian market. But it soon became clear that any venture of this sort must be global in outlook and ambition. News and social media is global. Any Australian project must be global too.
I am not an expert. I would never pretend to have all the answers. But like everyone else I consume the news and I sense that we are at a moment in time, perhaps at a tipping point, where some very fundamental principles about truth and democracy are up for grabs.
That sounds high-minded. I don't mean it to be. I know that news has always been subsidised to varying degrees by business. The ''rivers of gold'' that flowed from advertising revenue for established media companies have run dry and new ways of monetising journalism must be found. To those looking for new sources of revenue, I say: more strength to your arm.
In the meantime, those of us with the means can do something.
The so-called public square has been rapidly transformed. Debates are conducted in ''echo chambers'' which have no space for alternative points of view or calm and rational debate. Anyone with a Twitter account can derail an otherwise sensible discussion. The very concept of ''truth'' is now routinely challenged.
I hope that the institute I am establishing can do something to push back against this trend. I want it to sit right in the middle of the public square. From time to time it will be involved in controversy: so be it. It will be a forum for ideas, but an advocate of none.
The institute will be independent, non-partisan and open to all who want to take up the challenge of contemporary journalism with goodwill and in good faith.
This is why I will play no role in its governance. I have no political or ideological agenda, and I will rely on experienced and respected journalists, practitioners and scholars to guide the institute's work.
From now, it is up to those entrusted with its mission to realise my ambition.
Thank you to all those who have wished it well.
Judith Neilson is a Sydney-based billionaire, art gallery owner and philanthropist.
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Glenn Beck, Mark Levin Create Conservative Media Powerhouse: Exclusive | Hollywood Reporter
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 10:38
The homes of Glenn Beck and Mark Levin are combining to create Blaze Media, which insiders say will reach 165 million people via television, digital platforms and social media.Glenn Beck and Mark Levin are teaming up by merging TheBlaze and CRTV to create a conservative-media entity dubbed Blaze Media, which they say will reach 165 million people via television, digital platforms and social media.
Beck and Levin are set to officially announce what they are calling a merger of equals on Monday, but Beck tells The Hollywood Reporter that the move could be just a next step at building a powerhouse, independent media company.
''This is the beginning of scale,'' he says. ''Anyone who loves the Bill of Rights and pursues honesty, I want them all in. We're an open book. Let's talk,'' he says.
Beck founded TheBlaze in 2011 after leaving Fox News, where his show drew a large audience though was constantly attacked by progressive groups that discouraged advertisers. TheBlaze grew quickly, but in recent years has scaled back in order to preserve money.
TheBlaze is seen on Dish Network, Verizon Fios, Roku, SlingTV and several regional cable outlets, and it is heard on Sirius XM Radio, iHeartRadio and elsewhere. Next year, it will launch a live tour with the working title, Blaze Live.
Levin, a former attorney in Ronald Reagan's presidential administration, is a nationally syndicated radio host, and he hosts Life, Liberty & Levin on Fox News. He founded LevinTV and the digital outlet morphed into CRTV, the ''CR'' standing for ''Conservative Review.''
Beyond Levin, some of the talent at CRTV includes Michelle Malkin, Steven Crowder, Matt Kibbe, Deneen Borelli, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame and Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of Vice Media who hosts a show called, Get Off My Lawn, at CRTV.
Blaze Media will be run by Tyler Cardon and Gaston Mooney, who were named co-presidents of the merged company. Previously, Mooney was president of CRTV and Cardon was president of TheBlaze. Levin had no management authority at CRTV and will have none at Blaze Media, according to insiders.
''Tens of millions of Americans have had it with the biased, ideologically driven mainstream media outlets that sanctimoniously advance their own agendas under the guise of 'news' and 'journalism.' Conservatives actually believe in a free press and the rest of the Constitution,'' said Levin.
He added that his intention with the merger is ''to further expand and offer the public an alternative to liberal media group-think.''
Blaze Media will compete with conservative outlets like Breitbart News, The Daily Caller (co-founded by Tucker Carlson) and Salem Media Group, a publicly traded company that is considered the industry leader in talk radio. It will also compete with Daily Wire, founded by Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor who had also considered merging with Beck's company.
''I'd still like to do that,'' Beck said. ''I'm a big fan of what Ben has built.''
Blaze Media will be headquartered in Dallas at Beck's facilities, but he says that that's only a technicality as it will operate all over the country. ''Dallas will be the epicenter, but we'll be like a movie studio, like United Artists. It's a much better system for the talent.''
The Blaze has been going through a rocky stretch, laying off about 20 percent of its staffers and losing talent like NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch and Tomi Lahren, the latter after publicly feuding with Beck over pro-choice remarks she made on her former show. Beck says, though, the incident was mis-reported without context.
''We're a different kind of media company, without a centralized command and control,'' he says. ''There's no network you have to confer with. Talent is free to express their opinions, whether I agree with them or not.''
Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed, but Beck acknowledges his company had bled some red ink, though it has been profitable for about 12 months.
''We worked hard to make sure we're in the black. If we had spoken to CRTV a couple of years ago, it would have been a different story,'' he says. ''We talked about a merger when neither of us need it. That's the best time.''
Beck said four years ago he was moving into movie production, though it hadn't been financially feasible, until now.
''The merger will help those efforts,'' he said. ''First and foremost, I'm an artist and a storyteller.''
Did Mic layoff their entire editorial staff to break a union? - Business Insider
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 12:40
Mic, which focused on social justice issues, laid of its entire editorial staff on Thursday. Mic.com
On Thursday, Mic laid off its entire editorial team ahead of an acquisition by Bustle Digital Group, which said it plans to relaunch the site in 2019. Elite Daily also laid off staff ahead of its acquisition by Bustle in 2017. Labor lawyers said laying off unionized staff before a sale, while legal, is a way for the acquirer to avoid recognizing the union. On Thursday, millennial-aimed publisher Mic laid off most its 100-person staff ahead of its acquisition and relaunch plan by Bustle Digital Group. Mic cofounder and CEO Chris Altchek blamed Facebook's cancelation of Mic's "Dispatch" show on Facebook Watch for the company's declining finances.
The revelation sparked "outrage" among former staff who saw the layoffs as an attempt by Mic and Bustle, which both tout progressive editorial missions, to break Mic's editorial union, former employees said.
"It seems like it's a pretty blatant way to keep the Mic brand while getting rid of the unionized members and also the members that hold the values that Mic has built their brand on," one employee said. "For me, it's hard to see how that's not obvious union-busting."
Shirley Lung, an expert in labor law at the City University of New York, said laying off staff ahead of being acquired or reopening is a way for companies to get rid of unions.
"If the majority of Bustle's new employees consist of Mic's employees, they could have a duty to recognize the union and be able to bargain with them," she said. "If Bustle decided that it would hire new employees and they're going to structure their workforce so that less than a majority is comprised of former employees, then they would have effectively gotten rid of the union."
Chaumtoli Huq, who teaches labor law at the City University of New York and is editor-in-chief of social justice publication Law At The Margins, said the practice could be legal unless there is other evidence of "anti-union animus."
Read more: The 35-year-old founder of Bustle and Bleacher Report reportedly just bought Gawker.com for $1.35 million, and Hulk Hogan is entitled to a cut of the sale
Bustle's history with acquisitions Bustle built its brand on producing highly searchable content produced by writers that were paid as little as $100 per day. Some noted similarities between the Mic situation and what happened when Bustle acquired lifestyle site Elite Daily in 2017.
Elite Daily laid off 47 of 94 staffers ahead of the sale. Bustle offered some jobs as contract employees with less pay and no benefits, according to former employees. Editors were demoted while reporters with no management experience were promoted to editor positions with no pay increases, the former employees said. Ex-Elite Daily employee Anna Menta tweeted: "I'd keep an eye on what kind of 'rebuilding' goes on here."
In a statement, Bustle told Business Insider, "Following the acquisition of Mic, Bustle Digital Group will take a thoughtful approach on the company's future plans. We have no further comment."
What's next for former Mic employees In February, Mic employees announced they planned to join the NewsGuild of New York, joining other digital newsrooms that have unionized in recent years. Mic recognized the union in March, but a union contract hadn't been secured by Thursday's layoffs.
Mic leadership told laid-off staff they would be given one month's severance and that their health insurance would continue through December but that because Mic's insurance contracts are terminating after that, COBRA will not be available for purchase.
In a statement Thursday, the union accused Mic's cofounders of "deception" and indicated its willingness "to fight for what is right and just" and continue "to pursue all options available to us."
Lung said that without a contract, Mic has little legal accountability to the union members. Huq and Lung said the employees could still seek unfair labor practice charges, claiming Mic violated its duty to bargain with them.
"Under the law, Mic had an obligation to make an effort to arrive at a contract '-- Mic and Bustle's layoffs could be seen as an anti-union effort in retaliation for that," Huq said.
"The power that workers have is the power that they create through demands and through collective organizing; it doesn't rest on them having a contract," Lung said.
More: Mic.com Mic Bustle Labor
Turkey completes purchase of Russia's S-400 missile system - says it's superior to US Patriot which "didn't work" -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 05:10
(C) Vitaliy Ankov Sputnik S-400 Air Defense Missile System
According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, the S-400 system purchased from Russia is vastly superior to the Patriot air defense system built by the US and this is why Turkey has chosen the former.
The Turkish FM explained that for about a decade Turkey attempted to buy air defense systems, including the MIM-104 Patriot, from the US, however the so-called high-end interceptor missile system simply "didn't work" when put through tests.
Given that the Patriot failed to meet the Turkish military's air defense requirements, Turkey then pursued options in other countries.
Cavusoglu claims that by the time Turkey got around to organizing a contract with Russia for the purchase of S-400 the military's need for a modern highly-effective air defense system was "urgent".
"[The] S-400 deal is done", Cavusoglu reaffirmed. "Russia gave us the best deal and [now it] is the done deal and in the future let's see, who is going to make the best proposal".
According to sources, the Turkish military will acquire four battalion-sized units of S-400s (technically as many as 32 individual launchers, each with four ready-to-fire missiles) from Russia, worth 2.5 billion dollars.
Comment: Turkey's agreement with Russia has been in the works for
almost a year:
"Turkey will purchase two systems and four batteries from Russia - an agreement has been reached," Canikli said, as cited by the Yeni Safak newspaper.The remaining financial issues have been resolved between the sides, the minister said Wednesday. "Do we use credit? Or finance it ourselves? In the end we settled on covering one part with credit after negotiations," said Canikli said.
The deal between Moscow and Ankara will be worth $2.5 billion, the head of the Russian state-run Rostec Corporation, Sergey Chemezov, told Kommersant daily. Turkey will pay 45 percent of the cost in advance, with the remaining 55 percent to be covered by Russian loans, he said. Delivery of the S-400 Triumf systems to Turkey is expected to start in late 2019 or early 2020, Chemezov said.
Turkey will become the first NATO member state to use Russian air defense systems, and the purchase has already attracted a backlash within the US-led military bloc. The Pentagon earlier said that purchasing hardware that doesn't meet the NATO specifications "generally isn't a good idea."
Exclusive: Emails of top NRCC officials stolen in major 2018 hack - POLITICO
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 19:43
The email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee were surveilled for several months, party officials said. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
Republican leaders were not informed until POLITICO contacted committee officials about the incident.
The House GOP campaign arm suffered a major hack during the 2018 election, exposing thousands of sensitive emails to an outside intruder, according to three senior party officials.
The email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee were surveilled for several months, the party officials said. The intrusion was detected in April by an NRCC vendor, who alerted the committee and its cybersecurity contractor. An internal investigation was initiated and the FBI was alerted to the attack, said the officials, who requested anonymity to discuss the incident.
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However, senior House Republicans '-- including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) '-- were not informed of the hack until POLITICO contacted the NRCC on Monday with questions about the episode. Rank-and-file House Republicans were not told, either.
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who served as NRCC chairman this past election cycle, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Committee officials said they decided to withhold the information because they were intent on conducting their own investigation, and feared that revealing the hack would compromise efforts to find the culprit.
"We don't want to get into details about what was taken because it's an ongoing investigation," said a senior party official. "Let's say they had access to four active accounts. I think you can draw from that."
The hack became a major source of consternation within the committee as the midterm election unfolded. The NRCC brought on the prominent Washington law firm Covington and Burling as well as Mercury Public Affairs to oversee the response to the hack. The NRCC paid the two firms hundreds of thousands of dollars to help respond to the intrusion. The committee's chief legal counsel, Chris Winkelman, devoted hours of his time to dealing with matter.
Party officials would not say when the hack began or who was behind it, although they privately believe it was a foreign agent due to the nature of the attack.
Donor information was not compromised during the intrusion, the party officials said.
''The NRCC can confirm that it was the victim of a cyber intrusion by an unknown entity. The cybersecurity of the Committee's data is paramount, and upon learning of the intrusion, the NRCC immediately launched an internal investigation and notified the FBI, which is now investigating the matter,'' said Ian Prior, a vice president at Mercury.
Prior, a former Justice Department official and NRCC operative, has been working with the committee to deal with the matter.
''To protect the integrity of that investigation, the NRCC will offer no further comment on the incident,'' Prior added.
An FBI spokesperson declined to comment on its investigation into the incident.
None of the information accessed during the hack '-- thousands of emails from senior NRCC aides '-- has appeared in public, party officials said. And they said there were no attempts to threaten the NRCC or its leadership during the campaign with exposure of the information.
Yet the fact that the NRCC was hacked and withheld that information is likely to prove embarrassing at a time when Republicans are grappling with an election in which they lost 40 seats and control of the House. President Donald Trump has also claimed that Republicans are better than Democrats at cybersecurity, explaining why one party was hacked in 2016 but the other was not.
''The DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses, and they were able to be hacked,'' Trump told CBS News in July. ''I heard they were trying to hack the Republicans, too. But, and this may be wrong, but they had much stronger defenses.''
Rep. Tom Emmer (Minn.) will take over as NRCC chairman this cycle, a selection that was directlyapproved by McCarthy. Emmer is in the process of hiring his own senior aides for the committee, a normal procedure when a new chairman takes over a party committee. Emmer was first briefed on the hack on Monday evening.
Cybersecurity remains a pressing concern for politicians and political committees, heightened by the high-profile Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chief John Podesta during the 2016 election cycle. It's not clear, however, what the NRCC could have done to avoid this intrusion.
The hack was first detected by an MSSP, a managed security services provider that monitors the NRCC's network. The MSSP informed NRCC officials and they, in turn, alerted Crowdstrike, a well-known cybersecurity firm that had already been retained by the NRCC.
Like other major committees, the NRCC also had security procedures in place before the election cycle began to try to limit the amount of information that could be exposed to a potential hacker. It also employed a full-time cybersecurity employee.
Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning '-- in your inbox.
Australian Government Passes Contentious Encryption Law - The New York Times
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 15:22
The law, opposed by privacy advocates, requires tech companies to provide law enforcement and security agencies with access to encrypted communications.
Image Opponents of the legislation said it was being rushed through Australia's Parliament without proper consultation with the public. Credit Credit Mick Tsikas/EPA, via Shutterstock CANBERRA, Australia '-- The Australian Parliament passed a contentious encryption bill on Thursday to require technology companies to provide law enforcement and security agencies with access to encrypted communications.
Privacy advocates, technology companies and other businesses had strongly opposed the bill, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government said it was needed to thwart criminals and terrorists who use encrypted messaging programs to communicate.
''This ensures that our national security and law enforcement agencies have the modern tools they need, with appropriate authority and oversight, to access the encrypted conversations of those who seek to do us harm,'' Attorney General Christian Porter said.
Opponents of the bill argued that it not only compromised Australians' privacy but was vaguely written in a way that could lead to abuses. They also said it was being rushed through Parliament without proper consultation with the public. Lizzie O'Shea, a human rights lawyer, called it ''a terrible truncation of the process.''
Ms. O'Shea has written that the bill has global implications, arguing that the United States and other allies want Australia to ''lead the charge'' in giving security agencies access to encrypted data.
''Once you've built the tools, it becomes very hard to argue that you can't hand them over to the U.S. government, the U.K. '-- it becomes something they can all use,'' Ms. O'Shea said on Thursday. She was referring to the English-speaking countries that share intelligence under the so-called Five Eyes agreement: Australia, Britain, Canada New Zealand and the United States.
Rodger Shanahan, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, said the bill addressed a legitimate need to give the authorities access to encrypted data.
''I know it's a very sensitive issue, but the people arguing privacy just don't have a handle on how widespread it's used by the bad people,'' he said. ''It's pretty universal.''
Mr. Shanahan said he had been privy to many national security cases in which suspects used encrypted messaging services to communicate with people overseas. ''They're on WhatsApp and Telegram and Kik, that's how they do it,'' he said.
Fergus Hanson of the Australian Security Policy Institute said that the bill had largely been framed as an antiterrorism measure, but it really had more to do with fighting crime on the state and federal levels.
''I think the police forces are looking at this through the lens that it's hard, much harder for them to get access to content now, and so they want to address the 'going dark' problem across the board,'' he said.
Australian tech companies have said that the bill could hurt their business overseas, because customers would doubt their promises to protect encrypted data. The industry has also argued that any ''back door'' that companies are required to create for law enforcement to access encrypted data would also be vulnerable to hacking.
In a submission to Parliament, Apple challenged ''the idea that weakening encryption is necessary to aid law enforcement.'' It added, ''In just the past five years alone, we have processed over 26,000 requests from Australian law enforcement agencies for information to help investigate, prevent and solve crimes.''
The Australian Information Industry Association, an advocacy group representing digital companies, said it had ''no confidence'' in the government as far as the bill was concerned.
''The proposed powers are unprecedented, their remit unnecessarily broad, and the consequences of their use completely unknown,'' said Kishwar Rahman, general manager of policy and advocacy for the group.
She said its members were committed to working with the authorities ''to address operational concerns identified as arising from the use of encrypted technologies,'' but that they would ''use all available mechanisms to push back if the overly broad notices impact the security or privacy of their customers.''
The bill was nearly derailed on Thursday by an unrelated issue: Australia's widely criticized offshore detention policy, under which migrants who try to reach the country by boat are held on remote islands and denied permission to settle in Australia.
A few migrants who have been detained offshore for years have recently been allowed to enter Australia for medical treatment. Legislation debated Thursday, which Mr. Morrison opposed, would have allowed more migrants to do so.
The reason a fight over refugees nearly stalled the unrelated encryption bill is a little complicated. The encryption bill had passed the lower chamber of Parliament, the House, and was being debated in the Senate. Opposition senators wanted amendments that would have required sending it back to the House.
But that would have also led to a vote on the migrant legislation, which almost certainly would have passed. Rather than allow that to happen, Mr. Morrison let the session in the House expire without a vote. Parliament will not reconvene until February.
In the end, the opposition Labor Party dropped its amendments to the encryption bill, after the government promised to take them up in the new year. The opposition seemed to be swayed by the government's argument that the bill was needed before the holidays, when terrorist attacks could be more likely.
''I'm not willing to go home and see a terror event happen '-- which we're told is less likely than more likely '-- but I'm not going to have on my conscience Morrison's hostage-taking tactics where he cancels his own work, goes home and lets Australians swing in the breeze,'' the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, told reporters late Thursday.
Vicky Xiuzhong Xu contributed reporting.
Jamie Tarabay covers Australia for The New York Times. @ jamietarabay
Mastercard and Microsoft have a frightening plan to create universal ''
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:34
Sometimes a business inadvertently drops the pretense and just tells the world its real intentions. We saw this yesterday, when Amazon bragged about how it ''allowed'' an employee to lose 100 pounds by endlessly delivering boxes. Amazon saw this as a heartwarming tale about how great it is to work for the e-commerce juggernaut. It completely missed the subtext: Who needs a gym when someone can physically labor for their corporate overlord and lose weight?
Now we have another, possibly darker example. Mastercard announced a new partnership with Microsoft that is tackling ''digital identities.'' Here's how it described the project in a tweet:
Voting, driving, applying for a job, renting a home, getting married and boarding a plane: what do these all have in common? You need to prove your identity. In partnership with @Microsoft, we are working to create universally-recognized digital identity. https://t.co/He5syqa5g7
'-- Mastercard News (@MastercardNews) December 3, 2018
Essentially, the tweet described every action an adult human takes that is both highly intimate and requires sharing personal and confidential details. The companies are building a solution that would create a ''universally-recognized digital identity.'' To the corporations, this is a brilliant solution! To everyone else, it may feel more than a bit dystopian.
What this announcement seems to be describing is a streamlined identification system: a not-too-far-off world where people are identified under a universal protocol that checks in on them at various points during their lives''when they vote, when they get married, etc. It's the kind of a citizen-check system a totalitarian regime could only dream of.
Already, countries have begun implementing identification systems that seem ripped from an Orwell novel. India, for example, has a program that scans citizens' fingerprints and eyes, which connects all of their personal data (from cellphone information to government benefits) into one state-controlled apparatus. China, too, is planning to use a country-wide citizen identification system that would give people ''social credit'' scores about the way they behave. These systems have been met with significant outcry about privacy and digital rights.
Judging from some of the responses to Mastercard and Microsoft's announcement, we can likely expect similar criticism here.
Euphemism for: Universal tracking of users.
'-- 'Œ KILI'†N 'Œš¸Ž (@KilianMuster) December 4, 2018
And yet the two companies didn't seem to realize the minefield they were stepping into. According to the press release, the problem they believe they are solving is people being forced to ''successfully remember hundreds of passwords for various identities and are increasingly being subjected to more complexity in proving their identity and managing their data.'' But the solution they offer''a one-stop, universal identification for any and all applications''would mean that every citizen would be entering into a system built by private companies that centralizes all of their personal data. Every digital company wants to be a data hoover, and this program seems to underscore the extent of this pursuit.
Reached for comment, a Mastercard spokesperson provided me with a very lengthy response, which emphasized that the program is still in development but will be customer-centric. ''Our intention is give people more control over their own digital identities, allowing them to easily manage and share their information their way with the devices they use every day,'' the statement said. ''With our service, which is still in development, people would be able to easily verify their digital identity through trusted sources to whom they have already provided their information such as banks and mobile network operators or government and postal services, sharing only the information needed to conduct their transactions.''
Microsoft declined to comment.
Beyond the surveillance and privacy red flags, a universal identification like this will likely raise security concerns. Even when companies think they are using the best practices to protect user data, it is only hubristic to believe something is un-hackable
Mastercard said the following to me about security:
The service will allow the data to sit with its rightful owner''the individual''and wouldn't involve amassing personal data in honeypots vulnerable to attack. In no situation would Mastercard collect users' identity data, share it or monitor their interactions. Instead the data would reside with the trusted party, and our service would merely validate the information already provided, once an individual has decided to do so. This is about giving the individual control over who sees their information and how it's used.
Overall, this announcement speaks to a common tone-deafness among large companies when it comes to privacy. While proving digital identity can certainly be onerous, some solutions may only imperil us even more.
End of pagers in Japan - News - NHK WORLD - English
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:40
Pagers are set to be finally phased out of use in Japan. The last remaining carrier says it will be stopping its service at the end of next September.
Pagers have been in use in Japan for 50 years. Subscriptions peaked in 1996 at more than 10 million.
But they became things of the past with the arrival of mobiles and later smartphones.
Tokyo Telemessage is the only pager service provider left in Japan. The company has about 1,500 customers in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures. Many are medical workers.
The company says it plans to use the pager frequency band to strengthen its disaster radio services for local authorities.
Easily download all your files from the Flickr Data export with wget and parallel
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 11:44
I paid for Flickr for years. By my email it looks like I started somehere in 2007 or 2008 and continued to pay all the way into 2015 or so. It was a great product and the first of its kind for unlimited storage. Time now is hazy, but I think I decided to finally stop paying once I purchased my own NAS and Yahoo decided to up the free tier to one terabyte. "Why continue paying?", I thought.
Flickr announced on November 1st that they'd be changing (read: downgrading) Flickr free accounts to just a thousand photos.
Beginning January 8, 2019, Free accounts will be limited to 1,000 photos and videos. If you need unlimited storage, you'll need to upgrade to Flickr Pro.Flickr Pro isn't expensive, but I'm already paying for Google Photos storage. And it's a great product and only getting better. I need extra incentives to switch. Flickr still is a great professional platform for photos but they need to invest more in their mobile app, the online experience, and much more to be appealing. It was time to abandon ship.
Thankfully, Flickr has provided a way to download all your content but like other online services, they provide the bare minimum to do so. This ends up being a giant list of gigabyte sized zip files.
"Screw this", I thought, "I'll find a Flickr library to let me download everything where I want with image metadata included hopefully. For we live in the age of Github!"
flickrdump came so close to doing exactly what I wanted, yet fell so far as I realized that while it would quickly and happily download all my public photos, it couldn't access my private photos. Which most of my collection remain so. I attempted at quickly created a fork with the proper logic to grab private photos however it appears that you need to go through the annoying OAuth process to grant access to your account, to your own Flickr app to request private photos. This may truly not be the case but there wasn't any documentation that I could find pointing me in the right direction.
I suddenly realized that I was completely overthinking this problem. All the links to the zip files were present on the dashboard page.
And, it turns out they don't require the login session cookie to be present in order to download them. So I devised the following:
First, print out all the links with a simple console command:
"Pistachio Wars": How the Resnicks' Snack Food Fortune is Fueling the Assault on Iran - Grayzone Project
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 12:03
A highly original documentary project reveals how a couple of Beverly Hills billionaires ''are willing to risk war in Iran and the Middle East '-- all in order to boost and protect their lucrative pistachio business.''By Max BlumenthalThree years ago, journalist Yasha Levine and filmmaker Rowan Wernham first arrived at the vast pistachio plantation of Stewart and Lynda Resnick in California's parched Central Valley. There, they saw firsthand how a billionaire power couple had successfully manipulated the state's political system to privatize its water supply for their own financial benefit.
Today, the Wonderful Company farm owned by the Resnicks soaks up more water than the entire city of Los Angeles. Their business was based on ''a heist of epic proportions,'' according to Levine, that ''will put family farms out of business, and push life in the biggest river estuary on the west coast of America towards mass extinction.''
The story eventually took Levine and Wernham far beyond the parched Central Valley, and into the heart of America's Israel lobby. It turned out that the Resnicks had been pumping their money into some of the most militantly pro-Israel think tanks in Washington, including the American Jewish Committee and the Washington Institute on Near East Policy (WINEP). Both of these outfits have lobbied heavily for sanctions on Iran and against the Iran nuclear deal. One WINEP executive, Pat Clawson, has even called on the US to stage a false flag attack that could trigger a war with Iran.
Levine and Wernham recognized that the Resnicks' support for the Israel lobby was all about protecting their monopoly from a nation traditionally recognized as the producer of the world's best pistachios. The billionaire nut barons were not only threatening the environment and livelihoods of their local competitors, they were bankrolling forces determined to take America to war against a rising Middle Eastern power. This is why the title of Levine and Wernham's work in progress, ''Pistachio Wars,'' is so apt.
In an interview with the Grayzone, the filmmakers detailed the dangerous nexus between the Resnicks' pistachio profits and the escalating economic attack on Iran. Their insights showcase the originality and political daring that make ''Pistachio Wars'' so relevant.
At the moment, Levine and Wernham are raising funds to bring ''Pistachio Wars'' to completion. You can follow this link to see a trailer and support their groundbreaking project. Our interview is below:
Steven Colbert stars in a commercial for the Resnicks' Wonderful CompanyMB: How did the sanctions imposed on Iran by the Carter administration after the 1979 revolution affect America's domestic pistachio market in general, and the Resnicks in particular?
YL & RW: Without out a doubt, President Carter's embargo on Iran was what gave birth to America's pistachio business. Historically, pistachios imported from Iran had dominated global markets, including in the US. When America was suddenly cut off from Iran's pistachio supply after Carter's economic blockade in the wake of the Iranian hostage crisis, it left a giant hole in the market and created the need for an alternative source of pistachios. At the time, pistachio farming happened on a small scale in the United States '-- the bulk of it in California's Central Valley. Sensing a perfect business opportunity, farmers in California stepped in to fill the void. At that time, Stewart Resnick had just gotten into agriculture. He was a shrewd businessman and he seized the moment.
From then on, America's pistachio industry grew at crazy pace, with domestic output more than doubling every 5 years. In 2008, forty years after the embargo, America finally surpassed Iran as the world's dominant producer of pistachios. And the bulk of America's pistachio trade is controlled by one firm: the Wonderful Company, owned by Beverly Hills billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick.
Through clever and aggressive marketing, the Resnicks have singlehandedly driven a global pistachio boom, creating a demand for pistachios where it had not existed before.
MB: Stewart and Lynda Resnick have taken an extremely active role in supporting the Israel lobby both in the US. What organizations are they backing and to what-extent is their support related to protecting their share of the pistachio market against Iranian exports? Or could it be that this power couple is just ideologically committed to the idea of Israel, as many other American Jews are?
YL & RW: Stewart and Lynda Resnick are donors and supporters of of some of the most powerful and influential neoconservative organizations in America, including the AIPAC spinoff WINEP (Washington Institute for Near East Policy) where they have been on and off the board for over a decade. WINEP has been extremely hawkish on Iran. One of its executives has openly called on Israel to provoke a war with Iran in order to pull in the United States.
Stewart Resnick, along with Sheldon Adelson, has also long been a board member and backer of American Friends of IDC, a not-for-profit foundation that serves as the fundraising arm of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a think tank with close links to the Israeli intelligence and military establishment, and which has long advocated an aggressive approach to Iran. And through their family foundation, the Resnicks have also funneled money to the American Jewish Committee, which one of the most active lobbyists pushing for a sweeping Iran sanctions bill that was eventually signed into law by Obama in 2010.
Whether or not they fund these groups solely for business purposes or because of their personal commitment to supporting Israel '-- well, that's a hard thing to untangle. They are politically active and are major political donors. They donate widely across the political spectrum, but ostensibly, they are liberals. They said glowing things about Obama's 2008 victory, they hosted a party for Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein, Arianna Huffington is a close friend of theirs, and they have Stephen Colbert in tow as a brand spokesperson. They rarely speak to their views around issues of real consequence, whether it's about Israel, Iran, or even California and American politics.
Our sense is that for the these two issues are intertwined '-- there's a synergy there. And the two positions are mutually supportive. Backing the aggressive, neoconservative Israel lobby by default helps their bottom line. We would add '' and this is just our own reading of the situation here '' that in the unlikely event that they would be forced to choose between supporting Israel and protecting their business interests, the latter would prevail. For the Resnicks, business comes first.
MB: Has anyone from Resnicks' Wonderful Company operation openly stated their intention to sabotage Iran's pistachio exports through sanctions?
YL & RW: Iran has had America's market closed to it pretty much since 1979. But more than half of their pistachios are exported internationally and are thus directly in competition with Iran's exports.
So battling and taking over Iran international marketshare '-- whether in Europe, China, South Korea Russia, India or Israel '-- has been a prime objective of the Resnicks and the greater pistachio lobby. This is done with sanctions, but it is also done with free trade agreements '-- lobbying countries through American government trade reps to raise tariffs on Iranian pistachios, while lowering tariffs on American pistachios to zero.
They will use every tool they have to restrict and suffocate Iran's pistachio industry. The Wonderful Company is very media and PR savvy so its executives and spokespeople don't go out calling for war on Iran. But they are honest about Iran being their prime competitor and target. As one of their executives '-- in a very understated manner '-- told the press told the press not so long ago: ''We don't mind stealing share from the Iranians.''
Another thing that's interesting is that if you go into the Central Valley and talk to pistachio farmers, everyone is very much aware of and concerned with Iran. We were interviewing farmers out in the field right after President Barack Obama pushed through the Iran nuclear deal that would lift some sanctions from the country, and the farmers were livid with Obama. They were not happy with the potential market consequences of that deal. ''Obama really screwed the pooch,'' one farmer told us.
We were able to get a camera person into the American Pistachio growers convention in Palm Springs where they dedicated an entire session to the importance of retaining the embargo. These events are very bland, but they recounted the history of Iranian sanctions relative to the industry, including moments that were jubilant for the American public '-- like the release of the hostages after the embassy crisis, or things that were very bad for Iran '-- like America's support for Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War, with glib pronunciations about how the price of pistachios went up or down.
For the lawyers and lobbyists presenting all this, there was a sense that they were pitching the farmers as to why they should continue to allocate around half a million dollars a year to their firm to work on the issue. These things have their own sick kind of momentum.
MB: Ironically, Israel has been a leading importer of Iranian pistachios, which are considered the best in the world. They do so through third parties like Turkey with whom they enjoy semi-normalized relations. Does this threaten the Resnicks and has the US done anything about it?
YL & RW: Yeah, about a decade ago there was a scandal in Israel when it turned out that the country was turning a blind eye on the importation of Iranian pistachios through Turkey, which were rebranded as ''Turkish pistachios.'' Turns out that if given the choice, Israelis would rather eat Iranian pistachios rather than American ones, which they consider to be of inferior taste.
The US ambassador to Israel at the time wrote an angry letter to Israel's Finance Minister accusing him of willfully turning a blind eye to this practice and of violating Israeli laws. The media in Israel went wild with accusations that anyone who bought Iranian pistachios was directly financing terrorists and helping Iran build a nuclear bomb that would be used to wipe Israel off the map.
Israel consumes more pistachios per-capita than any other country in the world. It's a tiny country, but it's market is valued at just over $30 million dollars '-- which about 10% of the entire pistachio market in China, the world's biggest importer of pistachio in the world with a population of 1.4 billion. It's not peanuts, so of course the Resnicks have a stake in making sure that the market is dominated by American pistachios. Since it's already illegal to import Iranian pistachios in Israel, the American pistachio lobby has been putting pressure on Israel to enact trade policies that would make the stealth importation of pistachio from Iran even harder: things like increasing tariffs on pistachios imported from Turkey, while dropping tariffs on American pistachios to zero. And that what the situation is today: American pistachios come in duty free while everyone else pays a steep tax.
MB: To what extent has the rise of domestic pistachio production, and particularly the growth of the Resnicks' Wonderful Company impacted a water-deprived state like California? Would importing pistachios from a place like Iran or another pistachio-producing region take some of the pressure off of California's water supply? And short of any market-based solution, what remedies can be applied to restore control over water to the public?
YL & RW: The two are directly connected. What makes pistachios different from other crops grown in California is that they grow on trees and cannot be fallowed in a dry year. With crops like cotton or alfalfa or lettuce or strawberries, farmers can simply not plant in a drought year when there is not enough water. But with pistachio trees it's different. If you don't water them, the trees die '-- which destroys years of investment that it took to bring them to maturity. There can be no water cutoff for pistachio orchards '-- they require a constant, year-round supply of water. But California has seasonal rainfall and periods drought. So in order to maintain their constant supply of water, California farmers '-- led by the Resnicks '-- have been draining aquifers and rivers at an alarming rate and are currently pushing through a devastating plan to siphon off of two largest rivers in California '-- all in order to feed the pistachio boom.
Allowing Iranian imports would not make American pistachio farmers very happy, but it would not solve California's water crisis either. The problem now is that through clever and aggressive marketing, the Resnicks have driven a global demand for pistachios on a scale that had never existed before. And today global demand outstrips supply '-- which is why pistachios are such a lucrative crop to plant and why so many farmers are converting their fields to pistachio orchards. So in the extremely unlikely event that America was suddenly flooded with Iranian pistachios, the Resnicks would adapt by simply shifting their supply to global markets '-- all while continuing to extract California's over-tapped water supply. Their business might suffer, but it would probably not be catastrophic.
California's water shortages cannot be solved through market mechanisms. A solution would require democratic control of water supplies. There needs to be a democratic political framework for determining how to use the state's precious, over-tapped water supplies in a way that is maximally beneficial to the public and to the environment '-- to the future of the state. Water today is distributed purely based on raw economic power: it goes to the most powerful, most cutthroat business interests.
And that's where we are today: not only are American pistachio farmers destroying California, but they are willing to risk war in Iran and the Middle East '-- all in order to boost and protect their lucrative pistachio business.
There is a bigger issue here that goes beyond pistachios and water in California. The fact is that we in America cannot fix our belligerent and destructive foreign policy without first reigning in the economic interests that drive it and benefit from it. In that sense, the pistachio business is no different than oil companies or weapons makers '-- it's just that it is not so well know.
That's why our documentary is so important.
Mid Terms
What Is 'Ballot Harvesting', And How Did California Dems Use It To Nuke The GOP? - Tea Party News
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 23:44
(Daily Caller) '' As the polls closed on election day last month, six California Republican House candidates, including Representatives Dana Rohrabacher, Steve Knight, and Mimi Walters, were ahead in their respective races. However, as the absentee and provisional ballots rolled in over the intervening weeks, all six lost to their Democratic opponents.
The case of Korean-American GOP candidate Young Kim was one of the most prominent examples. On election night, Kim held an 8,000 vote lead over her Democratic opponent Gil Cisneros, and even attended freshman orientation in Washington, D.C. before watching her lead, and her victory, slowly evaporate over the subsequent weeks.
The results drew the attention of House Speaker Paul Ryan.
''California just defies logic to me,'' said Ryan at a Washington Post live event. ''We were only down 26 seats the night of the election, and three weeks later, we lost basically every California contested race. This election system they have '-- I can't begin to understand what 'ballot harvesting' is.''
The stunning turnaround in California, of all states, can be attributed to several factors, as conservative critics like The Federalist's Bre Payton wrote, but the most significant of those seemed to be the practice of ''ballot harvesting.''
Passed as a barely noticed change in the state's vote by mail procedures in 2016 and signed by then-Governor Jerry Brown, California's AB 1921 allows voters to give any third party '-- not just a relative or someone living in the same household, as was previously the law '-- to collect and turn in anyone else's completed ballot.
Called ''ballot harvesting,'' critics say the practice is ripe for fraud. Consider ''Lulu,'' who was recorded trying to ''harvest'' what she thought was a Democratic voter's ballot in Rep. Knight's district.
It's a ''new service,'' said Lulu, for ''like, people who are supporting the Democratic party.''
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 250,000 such ballots were used in Orange County alone, resulting in a Democratic sweep there.
From the Chronicle report:
''We beat Republicans on the ground, fair and square,'' said Katie Merrill, a Democratic consultant deeply involved in November campaigns. ''Many of the field plans included (ballot harvesting) as an option to deliver voters or their ballots'' to the polls.
Those efforts involved identifying voters who might support Democratic candidates and ignoring those who wouldn't.
In one Orange County household, for example, both the husband and wife were longtime Republicans, said Dale Neugebauer, a veteran Republican consultant. Democratic volunteers came by the house four times, each time asking to speak only with their 18-year-old daughter, a no-party-preference voter, and asking if she wanted them to pick up her signed and completed ballot.
That's a perfect example of the ''thorough and disciplined'' ground game the Democrats used, said Merrill.
''We were not wasting time talking to people who weren't going to vote for Democrats,'' she said.
The San Francisco Chronicle quoted Republicans who admitted that Democrats clearly beat them at the new game and that, to compete, they will have to conduct their own ''ballot harvesting'' efforts.
Before its passage, a group opposed to the bill wrote: ''AB 1921 would allow anybody to walk into an elections office and hand over truckloads of vote by mail envelopes with ballots inside, no questions asked, no verified records kept. It amounts to an open invitation to large-scale vote buying, voter coercion, ''granny farming'', and automated forgery. AB 1921 solves no problem that a simple stamp can't solve.''
Mexico's New President Quickly Signs Legislation Aimed at Shutting Down Migrant Caravans
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 04:23
With the city of Tijuana reeling from an influx of migrants that Mexican authorities allowed to enter the country, Mexico's new president has acted to stop further migrant caravans before they begin.
On Saturday, new Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador signed an agreement with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to increase jobs in the region as a way to stem the flow of U.S.-bound migrants, The Washington Post reported.
Finance ministers of the four nations will meet in the first quarter of 2019 to develop ''programs, projects, and specific actions, for the sake of jobs generation and poverty fight in the region,'' according to the agreement.
An ''integral development plan'' will be created to make Central American nations better places to live, reducing the numbers of citizens who cite high crime and high unemployment as reasons to leave.
Lopez Obrador will have no honeymoon period when he takes office on Saturday. ''The migrant caravan is probably the starting point of the next Mexico-US relations'' says @esteban_is https://t.co/eT6cUTdJdU
'-- Emily Green (@emilytgreen) November 30, 2018
TRENDING: Election Decided by 1 Vote After Going To Recount
Dialog with U.S. officials about the border will continue Monday as Mexican officials meet with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to Politico.
The Trump administration wants Mexico to agree to hold migrants in Mexico during their bid for asylum in the U.S.
Mexico wants the U.S. to kick in funding for a regional economic plan to help address the root causes that sent migrants from their homes.
Is this a good step for Mexican-American relations?Those competing needs will be the subject of meetings between Mexican and American officials this week, The Washington Post reported.
Incoming Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said the U.S. should pay $20 billion toward Central American renewal.
''Mexico by itself is going to invest in our own territory during the next administration, more than $20 billion, and so any serious effort regarding our brothers in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala should be for a similar amount,'' he said.
Just ended working dinner with Secretary Mike Pompeo. Friendly conversation as a first approach towards a long standing understanding between Mexico and the USA. I thank him for his attitude and respect towards the new administration of President Lopez Obrador.
'-- Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) December 3, 2018
RELATED: Mexico's New Leader Says Military Essential To Fight Crime
Some Mexican officials have said they can integrate migrants into the Mexican economy. So far, migrants have been living at a sports complex in Tijuana. They were recently moved to a former concert venue for health reasons, officials said.
The migrant caravan is being moved in Tijuana away from the U.S '' Mexican border. A move that open border activists and organizers are not happy with since they are further away from the border crossing, but as you can see a necessary move.
This is what is being left behind. pic.twitter.com/TwvMNyjcKY
'-- Luke Rudkowski (@Lukewearechange) December 2, 2018
However, the new administration said it can make the migrants into the workers Mexico needs for its economy.
''(Remain) in Mexico is just that,'' incoming interior minister Olga Sanchez Cordero said last week. ''To be in Mexico because we give you work, because we want you to integrate into our population, because we speak the same language, because we want you to be here.''
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Camille Paglia: 'Hillary wants Trump to win again' | Spectator USA
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 19:32
Camille Paglia is one of the most interesting and explosive thinkers of our time. She transgresses academic boundaries and blows up media forms. She's brilliant on politics, art, literature, philosophy, and the culture wars. She's also very keen on the email Q and A format for interviews. So, after reading her new collection of essays, Provocations, Spectator USA sent her some questions.
You've been a sharp political prognosticator over the years. So can I start by asking for a prediction. What will happen in 2020 in America? Will Hillary Clinton run again?
If the economy continues strong, Trump will be reelected. The Democrats (my party) have been in chaos since the 2016 election and have no coherent message except Trump hatred. Despite the vast pack of potential candidates, no one yet seems to have the edge. I had high hopes for Kamala Harris, but she missed a huge opportunity to play a moderating, statesmanlike role and has already imprinted an image of herself as a ruthless inquisitor that will make it hard for her to pull voters across party lines.
Screechy Elizabeth Warren has never had a snowball's chance in hell to appeal beyond upper-middle-class professionals of her glossy stripe. Kirsten Gillibrand is a wobbly mediocrity. Cory Booker has all the gravitas of a cork. Andrew Cuomo is a yapping puppy with a long, muddy bullyboy tail. Both Bernie Sanders (for whom I voted in the 2016 primaries) and Joe Biden (who would have won the election had Obama not cut him off at the knees) are way too old and creaky.
To win in the nation's broad midsection, the Democratic nominee will need to project steadiness, substance, and warmth. I've been looking at Congresswoman Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Governor Steve Bullock of Montana. As for Hillary, she's pretty much damaged goods, but her perpetual, sniping, pity-me tour shows no signs of abating. She still has a rabidly loyal following, but it's hard to imagine her winning the nomination again, with her iron grip on the Democratic National Committee now gone. Still, it's in her best interest to keep the speculation fires burning. Given how thoroughly she has already sabotaged the rising candidates by hogging the media spotlight, I suspect she wants Trump to win again. I don't see our stumbling, hacking, shop-worn Evita yielding the spotlight willingly to any younger gal.
Has Trump governed erratically?
Yes, that's a fair description. It's partly because as a non-politician he arrived in Washington without the battalion of allies, advisors, and party flacks that a senator or governor would normally accumulate on the long road to the White House. Trump's administration is basically a one-man operation, with him relying on gut instinct and sometimes madcap improvisation. There's often a gonzo humor to it '-- not that the US president should be slinging barbs at bottom-feeding celebrities or jackass journalists, much as they may deserve it. It's like a picaresque novel starring a jaunty rogue who takes to Twitter like Tristram Shandy's asterisk-strewn diary. Trump's unpredictability might be giving the nation jitters, but it may have put North Korea, at least, on the back foot.
Most Democrats have wildly underestimated Trump from the get-go. I was certainly surprised at how easily he mowed down 17 other candidates in the GOP primaries. He represents widespread popular dissatisfaction with politics as usual. Both major US parties are in turmoil and metamorphosis, as their various factions war and realign. The mainstream media's nonstop assault on Trump has certainly backfired by cementing his outsider status. He is basically a pragmatic deal-maker, indifferent to ideology. As with Bolsonaro in Brazil, Trump rose because of decades of failure by the political establishment to address urgent systemic problems, including corruption at high levels. Democrats must hammer out their own image and agenda and stop self-destructively insulting half the electorate by treating Trump like Satan.
Does the 'deep state' exist? If so, what is it?
The deep state is no myth but a sodden, intertwined mass of bloated, self-replicating bureaucracy that constitutes the real power in Washington and that stubbornly outlasts every administration. As government programs have incrementally multiplied, so has their regulatory apparatus, with its intrusive byzantine minutiae. Recently tagged as a source of anti-Trump conspiracy among embedded Democrats, the deep state is probably equally populated by Republicans and apolitical functionaries of Bartleby the Scrivener blandness. Its spreading sclerotic mass is wasteful, redundant, and ultimately tyrannical.
I have been trying for decades to get my fellow Democrats to realize how unchecked bureaucracy, in government or academe, is inherently authoritarian and illiberal. A persistent characteristic of civilizations in decline throughout history has been their self-strangling by slow, swollen, and stupid bureaucracies. The current atrocity of crippling student debt in the US is a direct product of an unholy alliance between college administrations and federal bureaucrats '-- a scandal that ballooned over two decades with barely a word of protest from our putative academic leftists, lost in their post-structuralist fantasies. Political correctness was not created by administrators, but it is ever-expanding campus bureaucracies that have constructed and currently enforce the oppressively rule-ridden regime of college life.
In the modern world, so wondrously but perilously interconnected, a principle of periodic reduction of bureaucracy should be built into every social organism. Freedom cannot survive otherwise.
What is true multiculturalism?
As I repeatedly argue in Provocations, comparative religion is the true multiculturalism and should be installed as the core curriculum in every undergraduate program. From my perspective as an atheist as well as a career college teacher, secular humanism has been a disastrous failure. Too many young people raised in affluent liberal homes are arriving at elite colleges and universities with skittish, unformed personalities and shockingly narrow views of human existence, confined to inflammatory and divisive identity politics.
The cover of Provocations, Camille Paglia's new collection of essays
Interest in Hinduism and Buddhism was everywhere in the 1960s counterculture, but it gradually dissipated partly because those most drawn to 'cosmic consciousness' either disabled themselves by excess drug use or shunned the academic ladder of graduate school. I contend that every educated person should be conversant with the sacred texts, rituals, and symbol systems of the great world religions '-- Hinduism, Buddhism, Judeo-Christianity, and Islam '-- and that true global understanding is impossible without such knowledge.
Not least, the juxtaposition of historically evolving spiritual codes tutors the young in ethical reasoning and the creation of meaning. Right now, the campus religion remains nihilist, meaning-destroying post-structuralism, whose pilfering god, the one-note Foucault, had near-zero scholarly knowledge of anything before or beyond the European Enlightenment. (His sparse writing on classical antiquity is risible.) Out with the false idols and in with the true!
There's a lot of buzz about the 'intellectual dark web'. One of its leading figures is Jordan Peterson, who is in some ways like you '-- he provokes, he works in an array of disciplines, he encourages individual responsibility. I saw your podcast with him. What did you make of him? Why is he so popular?
There are astounding parallels between Jordan Peterson's work and mine. In its anti-ideological, trans-historical view of sex and nature, my first book, Sexual Personae (1990), can be viewed as a companion to Peterson's first book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (1999). Peterson and I took different routes up the mountain '-- he via clinical psychology and I via literature and art '-- but we arrived at exactly the same place. Amazingly, over our decades of copious research, we were drawn to the same book by the same thinker '-- The Origins and History of Consciousness (1949), by the Jungian analyst Erich Neumann. (My 2005 lecture on Neumann at New York University is reprinted in Provocations.) Peterson's immense international popularity demonstrates the hunger for meaning among young people today. Defrauded of a genuine humanistic education, they are recognizing the spiritual impoverishment of their crudely politicized culture, choked with jargon, propaganda, and lies.
I met Peterson and his wife Tammy a year ago when they flew to Philadelphia with a Toronto camera crew for our private dialogue at the University of the Arts. (The YouTube video has had to date over a million and a half views.) Peterson was incontrovertibly one of the most brilliant minds I have ever encountered, starting with the British philosopher Stuart Hampshire, whom I heard speak impromptu for a dazzling hour after a lecture in college. In turning psychosocial discourse back toward the syncretistic, multicultural Jung, Peterson is recovering and restoring a peak period in North American thought, when Canada was renowned for pioneering, speculative thinkers like the media analyst Marshall McLuhan and the myth critic Northrop Frye. I have yet to see a single profile of Peterson, even from sympathetic journalists, that accurately portrays the vast scope, tenor, and importance of his work.
Is humanity losing its sense of humor?
As a bumptious adolescent in upstate New York, I stumbled on a British collection of Oscar Wilde's epigrams in a secondhand bookstore. It was an electrifying revelation, a text that I studied like the bible. What bold, scathing wit, cutting through the sentimental fog of those still rigidly conformist early 1960s, when good girls were expected to simper and defer.
But I never fully understood Wilde's caustic satire of Victorian philanthropists and humanitarians until the present sludgy tide of political correctness began flooding government, education, and media over the past two decades. Wilde saw the insufferable arrogance and preening sanctimony in his era's self-appointed guardians of morality.
We're back to the hypocrisy sweepstakes, where gestures of virtue are as formalized as kabuki. Humor has been assassinated. An off word at work or school will get you booted to the gallows. This is the graveyard of liberalism, whose once noble ideals have turned spectral and vampiric.
G20 Calls for Universal Crypto Taxation Rules
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 04:31
Cryptocurrency and taxation have found their way among the main headlines coming out of the latest 2018 G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, alongside further commitments to fight climate change.
The G20 has now announced the desire for universal cryptocurrency taxation legislation to cover all jurisdictions within its remit with the body planning to regard itself as a ''huge IT company'' going forward. New laws governing the taxation of cryptocurrencies would also include further regulation as promised earlier in the year.
The current problem, which will clearly need to be overcome by some lateral and innovative thinking, is the role of international law in matters of taxation, as current ones do not allow most countries to tax companies without physical bases in that specific country. In the new declaration to commit to a cross-border crypto tax system, the G20 stated:
''We will seek solutions for the international taxation issue accompanying the digitization of the economy and will continue to collaborate.''
Previous G20 meets had already raised the topic; in its July report, the body's Financial Stability Board (FSB) noted that previous analysis of crypto-asset markets, which included initial coin offerings (ICOs), had brought forth awareness surrounding significant challenges such as rapid market development, lack of transparency (with regard to identity and location of token issuers), as well as governing laws for white papers and gaps in data.
There continues to be some consensus from within the group representing the 20 nations about the value of innovation, although this may be limited to the respect currently being shown for the current impact of DLT and AI in the fintech space and elsewhere. The G20 has asked for further investigations to be launched in cryptocurrencies when Japan takes over the helm as chair in 2020.
Regarding cryptocurrency, the G20 repeatedly cite taking actions which are ''balanced between preserving the benefits of innovation and containing various risks, especially those for consumer and investor protection and market integrity'' but again AML legislation will be a focus with Japan as the next chair.
As is frequently in the case regarding the G20, it is a matter of getting all members on the same page, particularly given the current political friction between some of the member states. Europe and the UK are interested in developing such a program that they feel could combat money laundering and fraud, particularly in the case of larger organizations, but Japanese news agency Jiji has indicated that the USA and China are far more reticent to endorse such a move.
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Urban Dictionary: GIABO
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 09:38
A coordinated rebellion to remove people in power in the political and financial
arenas who are not being found guilty of their dishonest practices.
A comprehensive and sophisticated assault, organized by commoners in the work force against a small, elite group of bankers and politicians working harmoniously to destroy the free market.
Get a G.I.A.B.O. mug for your father-in-law Vivek.
Bitcoin is close to becoming worthless - MarketWatch
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 12:56
By Atuyla Sarin
Published: Dec 4, 2018 5:05 pm ET
Bitcoin is now entering a death spiralJust one year has passed since bitcoin enthusiasts forecasted that the cryptocurrency would hit a price of $1 million.
But that was then. With the price of bitcoin BTCUSD -1.08% having fallen almost 80% from its peak, and now trading well-below the support level of $6,000, everyone is wondering where it goes from here.
The answer is, a swift and painful drop to zero.
In a MarketWatch column I wrote last April, I explained what it would take for bitcoin to become worthless. Bitcoin is getting close to that point. As I argued, once Bitcoin's price falls below its cost of mining, the incentive to mine will deteriorate, thrusting bitcoin into a death spiral. That is, without the mining activities supporting the ledger that maintains the records of who owns what '-- bitcoin is, after all, a set of encrypted numbers that cannot establish the ownership of anything '-- bitcoin will become worthless.
A typical asset has a set of cash flows, and its value is driven by investors' expectations of those cash flows. Bitcoin has no cash flows. In that respect, it is more like gold, in that its value is driven to some extent by its desirability and potential uses, but mostly by its cost of mining. While there are many estimates of bitcoin's cost of mining, most suggest it is close to $5,000 per coin. Furthermore, even though traditional commodities like gold require significant investments, with limited technical knowledge and capital, anyone can mine bitcoins. Thus, the price of bitcoin must be close to the fully loaded cost of mining it (meaning you are modestly compensated for your time and capital outlay). So, one would expect the price of bitcoin to fluctuate somewhere around that point.
Moreover, there is one additional complication: Unlike gold, which, probably due to a historical accident, is universally accepted as a store of value, bitcoin is a digital commodity with no such universal acceptance as a store of value. While the original buyers and miners of bitcoin were true believers in the paradigm shift they thought it promised, and were willing to make the necessary investments for future gains, the more recent buyers and miners have been run-of-the-mill, greed-driven investors.
Their greed has been further fueled by futures trading, which was introduced when bitcoin prices were booming and the sun appeared to be perpetually rising on the horizon. With bitcoin prices well above the cost of mining, they saw an obvious arbitrage opportunity: Mine bitcoin and sell it for a higher price in the futures market for guaranteed arbitrage profits.
Not surprisingly, traditional investors took notice, with many investing in mining operations, and the bitcoin that were expected to be generated by mining were sold in the futures market. As more arbitrageurs entered the market to exploit this opportunity, bitcoin prices were pushed down close to their cost of mining (with a small return) and led to a long (in bitcoin world) period of stable prices. It also changed the complexion of the miners, and a higher proportion of them are now fair-weather miners looking for a quick buck who would quickly disappear once the opportunity dissolves.
Yet the cost of mining bitcoin is not a fixed-dollar amount. There is a feedback mechanism in mining any commodity that applies to bitcoin: as the price of bitcoin increases, new miners enter the market, increasing the effort required to mine a bitcoin, as its reward will be shared among a larger group of miners. Similarly, when the price of bitcoin falls and miners exit, the cost of mining decreases. However, the number of miners cannot fall below a certain level, because without the miners providing the computing power to maintain the ledger, the bitcoin blockchain will not remain viable.
Mining at a cost higher than the cost at which you can sell in the futures market destroys value. So, any rational investor '-- even one who strongly believes the price of bitcoin will rebound '-- has no incentive to mine if the cost of mining is higher than the future price and is better off buying in the futures market. And unlike gold, which can retain its value even if mining activity stops, bitcoin can have no value absent the mining activity that maintains the ledger of who owns it. Absent the mining activity, bitcoin is a just a set of encrypted numbers with no value.
Death spiralSo, it appears bitcoin is now entering a death spiral: If the price continues to drop and the cost of mining does not fall correspondingly (the cost of mining will algorithmically decrease, but not necessarily to same extent as the decline in prices), bitcoin will quickly go to zero.
Bitcoin proponents will argue that bitcoin's price has dropped by large percentages before. Except this most recent decline is different in three significant ways. First, the magnitude of the recent decline dwarfs the magnitudes of past declines. Second, the losers in the recent decline are new investors who will likely retreat until there is more clarity around bitcoin's use cases. Third, the futures markets have changed the game, enabling miners to estimate their mining losses and profits at the outset '-- if you can buy in a futures market at a price below my mining costs, why mine for a sure loss?
History is full of examples of innovative companies that went bankrupt, and the ''me-too'' companies becoming the best investments. Many will argue that bitcoin becoming truly worthless is extreme. Sure, looking at some memorable fads and bubbles, tulips still trade for $10 a bunch and Beanie Babies are fairly priced at $5.
And it looks as though the Blockchain economy is here to stay, where many of our transactions will be processed on the blockchain and use cryptocurrency for daily transactions. Indeed, while the world maybe forever be indebted to Satoshi Nakamoto for giving us a viable cryptocurrency, bitcoin may cease to exist. An improved coin might evolve, or governments might start issuing cryptocurrencies. History is full of examples of innovative companies that went bankrupt, and the ''me-too'' companies becoming the best investments.
And after all, I can still give my wife a bouquet of tulips and make her happy. And I can still give Beanie Babies to my grandchildren to play with. But what am I going to do with a set of numbers that I cannot prove makes me an owner of anything?
Atulya Sarin is a professor of finance at Santa Clara University. He has written on currencies in his book ''Foundations of Multinational Financial Management'' (sixth edition) and has worked extensively as a valuation expert.
Read more: Bitcoin still fooling buyers into believing those 200%-plus gains are coming back
See original version of this story
Dockless Mobility
Madrid orders removal of electric scooters
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:51
Madrid (AFP) - Madrid's city hall said Tuesday it had refused to grant a licence to three electric scooter-share companies and gave them 72 hours to remove their scooters from the streets of the Spanish capital.
The city justified the move on the grounds that Lime, Wind and VOI were not doing enough to inform people of their usage rules.
Lime, which is partly owned by ride-hailing Uber and Google parent company Alphabet, and the other two firms distributed electric scooters across the capital earlier this year without official authorisation.
Their arrival has forced Madrid and other Spanish cities to regulate the new trend.
In the capital, the scooters are banned on pavements and in pedestrian zones but authorised on all roads where the speed limit is 30 kilometres (19 miles) an hour -- a limit implemented recently on 80 percent of the city's streets.
The three companies can "at any moment" submit a new request for a licence, Madrid's city hall said in a statement Tuesday, adding that a total of 18 companies have expressed interest in providing the service.
Contacted by AFP, California-based start-up Lime which has distributed the most scooters in Madrid, did not immediately react to the city's decision.
Barcelona, Spain's second-largest city which is overwhelmed by mass tourism, already bans the use of shared electric scooters. Under its rules, anyone paying to use a scooter must be accompanied by a guide.
Similar electric scooter-sharing programmes have been introduced in other European cities including Paris, Vienna and Zurich.
Unlike schemes involving shared bicycles that typically must be left in docking stations, the scooters are dockless, leaving riders responsible for parking them securely.
The next rider can find the nearest scooter with a smartphone app, unlock it and use it for a fee.
Lyft expands its scooter service to Austin
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:54
Lyft said that it has teamed up with multiple Austin organizations as part of its arrival in the city. It will donate part of its proceeds to Austin's Farm & City nonprofit group, which is focused on sustainability, transportation and urban planning, and Lyft will work alongside agencies like the Austin Area Urban League when recruiting workers for its operations positions. Additionally, Lyft is partnering with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin as well as Austin Pathways in order to educate individuals about its $5 monthly Community Pass, which allows lower income individuals an unlimited amount of 30-minute rides.
The city has allowed Lyft to deploy 500 of its scooters in Austin. The company joins Bird, GOAT, Lime, Spin and Uber's Jump, which have already been operating in the city. As elsewhere, Lyft scooters in Austin will cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute. They're available from 6 AM to 10 PM.
Any Collusion?
Another High-Ranking FBI Official to Depart - WSJ
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 12:35
WASHINGTON'--A top FBI official who helped oversee two politically sensitive investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign is retiring from government service.
Bill Priestap, who currently serves as assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's counterintelligence division, will leave his post by the end of the year. Mr. Priestap, a 20-year veteran of the bureau, worked on organized crime and drug cases in Chicago before rising through the national security ranks of the agency after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Mr. Priestap's retirement is unrelated to the controversies over the handling of the 2016 investigations, according to a person familiar with the matter. He ''became eligible to retire and has chosen to do so after 20 years of service,'' the FBI said in a statement.
The federal government allows some employees, including FBI agents, to retire with full benefits if they are 50 or older and have at least two decades of service.
During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Priestap was one of several officials at the center of two politically volatile probes: the investigation into Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information, and a counterintelligence inquiry into whether associates of then-candidate Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government.
After Mr. Priestap's departure, none of the high-ranking bureau officials involved in the two investigations will remain with the bureau. FBI director James Comeywas fired by President Trump last year, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabewas later dismissed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his contacts with the media, days before he was eligible to retire with benefits.
Peter Strzok, the chief of the counterespionage section, left the FBI this year after it emerged that he had sent disparaging text messages about Mr. Trump.
Top bureau officials, especially those with national security experience, are in high demand in private-sector fields like cybersecurity, defense contracting and private intelligence. Mr. Priestap's future plans aren't known.
Documents and congressional testimony show that Mr. Priestap was in the inner circle of FBI decision makers for both investigations. According to emails released by Congress, Mr. Priestap helped Mr. Comey edit a 2016 public statement on the investigation into Mrs. Clinton, who didn't face charges, though Mr. Comey said she had been careless with classified material.
Mr. Priestap also supervised Mr. Strzok, and a June watchdog report said the Russia investigation was under Mr. Priestap's supervision. Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over handling the probe last year.
A memo prepared by House Republicans, which criticized FBI decisions during the 2016 election, indicated that Mr. Priestap was involved in efforts to verify a dossier of salacious, unconfirmed information concerning Mr. Trump's ties to Russia. The dossier was used, in part, to obtain a secret surveillance warrant against a one-time Trump campaign adviser, according to the memo.
The Clinton and Trump investigations have come under enormous political scrutiny, with partisans on each side saying the bureau mishandled the inquiries.
Many Republicans, including Mr. Trump, have said that the FBI should have charged Mrs. Clinton with a crime. They have further accused the bureau of conducting illegal surveillance on Trump advisers.
The FBI counterintelligence investigation into Russian activity was absorbed into the Mueller probe in 2017'--an investigation that Mr. Trump repeatedly called a partisan witch hunt.
Democrats have expressed frustration that the FBI criticized Mrs. Clinton in announcing its decision not to prosecute her, a departure from normal practice. They have also criticized Mr. Comey for reopening the Clinton investigation shortly before Election Day after obtaining new evidence, with some saying that it cost Mrs. Clinton the election.
Democrats have also complained that the FBI revealed that Mrs. Clinton was under investigation but didn't disclose that an investigation was under way regarding Mr. Trump's associates until after Election Day.
Write to Byron Tau at byron.tau@wsj.com
3 Women Accused Neil deGrasse Tyson of Sexual Misconduct. He Says Evidence Matters, and He's Right. - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 12:54
PictureGroup/Sipa USA/Newscom Neil deGrasse Tyson, the well-known astrophysicist, TV host, and general science enthusiast (whose shtick is sometimes obnoxious and easily criticized), has been accused of sexual misbehavior by three different women. He addressed the allegations in a Facebook post on Saturday.
"In any claim, evidence matters," wrote Tyson. "Evidence always matters."
He's right. We should not naively presume that all claims are true, absent corroboration or supporting evidence. The public should withhold further judgement until Fox and National Geographic'--Tyson's employers'--complete their investigations.
In the meantime, it's helpful to consider each accusation separately, because they are quite different. The most serious of the incidents allegedly occurred in the early 1980s, while Tyson was a graduate student: A classmate whom Tyson briefly dated claims he drugged and raped her. Here was what Tyson had to say about it:
According to her blog posts, the drug and rape allegation comes from an assumption of what happened to her during a night that she cannot remember. It is as though a false memory had been implanted, which, because it never actually happened, had to be remembered as an evening she doesn't remember. Nor does she remember waking up the next morning and going to the office. I kept a record of everything she posted, in case her stories morphed over time. So this is sad, which, for me, defies explanation.
It's very hard to know who is telling the truth here. As with the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, a great deal of time has passed, and distant memories are tricky things. (At least one of the allegations against Kavanaugh seems unlikely to be accurate, for instance.) We may never know more than we know now. If this accuser has some way to corroborate her account, she should do that. Otherwise, it seems unfair to obligate Tyson to disprove a claim from so long ago.
Tyson's second accuser, a colleague at a conference in 2009, made a much less serious claim: She said she asked him to pose for a picture, and he took notice of a tattoo of the solar system on her arm. He was curious whether Pluto was part of the tattoo, and allegedly searched "up her dress." But she was wearing a sleeveless dress'--Pluto would have been near the shoulder, perhaps under a strap. I presume Tyson interacts with thousands of fans each year. Slightly misjudging one such fan's comfort level after a photo request doesn't seem like much of a scandal, in this context.
The third accusation is the one that really requires proper investigation: A former assistant of Tyson's says he made her feel uncomfortable, accused her of being "distracting," and took actions that implied romantic interest. Tyson admits that he invited her over for wine and cheese'--something he does often for visitors, he claims'--which she accepted.
"Afterwards, she came into my office to told me she was creeped out by the wine & cheese evening," Tyson wrote. "She viewed the invite as an attempt to seduce her, even though she sat across the wine & cheese table from me, and all conversation had been in the same vein as all other conversations we ever had."
Tyson admitted he offered her a special handshake he had learned from a Native American elder, which involved taking the pulse of the other person.
"I've never forgotten that handshake, and I save it in appreciation of people with whom I've developed new friendships," wrote Tyson. He says he apologized to the assistant, she accepted his apology, and then quit the job.
Tyson may have been too friendly with this assistant. (I wonder, though, how many people who find the wine-and-cheese invite creepy also think the Pence Rule is an affront to gender equality.) He may have harassed this employee, or made work uncomfortable for her. He may also just be a demanding and difficult-to-work-with major celebrity. Perhaps he did nothing wrong at all. His employers should certainly look into it.
In the meantime, there is no need to preemptively declare him a sex jerk. Despite what the more militant members of the #MeToo movement seem to think, automatically believing accusations is bad practice in a world where not all encounters are black and white.
Austin Residents Saw America's Largest Credit Card Balance Jump In Past Year | Zero Hedge
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:26
Consumer credit recently hit a new all-time high, mainly on the back of newfound love with credit cards.
In the last 12 months, no major US metropolitan area experienced a surge in credit card balances than Austin, Texas.
It could be a sign that Austinites (mostly millennials) might be struggling with increasing household expenses, stuck in the gig economy: lower wages, horrible benefits, no job security, and heighten debt loads.
The study, published by credit card platform CompareCards, found credit card balances soared 12% from $6,165 to $6,924 during Sept. 2017 to Sept 2018.
CompareCards examined data from My LendingTree to compare the average credit card balance in the nation's 50 largest cities. Austin was one of three cities that saw double-digit increases in credit card balances during the one year. The others were St. Louis and San Jose, California.
This type of credit growth was widely expected, considering our October report on consumer credit hit record highs. The Federal Reserve data showed that Americans' revolving credit (credit cards) balances expanded 3.7% nationwide during the same period, hitting to a record $1.041 trillion.
CompareCards provides an analysis of why Austinites are resorting to credit cards at a much higher rate than the rest of the country:
"Austin, Texas '-- the city with the fastest-growing card debt '-- has seen years of rapid population and job growth, transforming the Texas capital into perhaps the most expensive big city in Texas. For example, reports showed that rents in Austin hit an all-time high of nearly $1,300 per month in June. Those high cost-of-living expenses, paired with the student loan debt issues that come with being the home of the University of Texas, one of the nation's biggest colleges, mean that many Austinites may be leaning a little more heavily on credit cards these days."
Cities With The Biggest Percentage Growth In Credit Card Balances, Sept. 2017 to Sept. 2018
Top 20 Cities Ranked By Average Credit Card Balance Change %, Sept. 2017 to Sept. 2018
Matt Schulz, the chief industry analyst at CompareCards, told CultureMap that Austin's growth of credit card debt could be an indicator of consumer confidence.
''If you feel great about your job and your economic future, you may not sweat a little bit of a credit card balance because you firmly believe that you'll be able to pay it off in relatively short order,'' he said.
''Some people may even use credit card debt as a short-term investment, whether you're remodeling a house or trying to start a business. That's the kind of thing that could certainly be happening in a booming city like Austin, because people feel emboldened by a good economy.''
Although, when consumers acquire high debt/ savings ratio -- even when the reason is well-intended, their savings levels plunge to extreme lows that could be problematic in the next economic downturn, according to Schulz.
''That's scary, because that means that when the next downturn comes, people might find themselves in a worse financial situation than they needed to be in, simply because they were overconfident,'' he warned.
As economic storm clouds gather ahead of 2019, Austinites seem to be in a tough position of high debt loads, and limited savings, a perfect concoction for deleveraging as credit markets continue to tighten.
VIDEO - 'Crazy' crown prince is 'complicit' in Jamal Khashoggi killing, US senator says
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 16:01
A US senator has attacked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - describing him as crazy, dangerous, a wrecking ball, and "complicit in the murder" of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Lindsey Graham, a Republican, made the blunt comments following a briefing from the CIA about Mr Khashoggi, who was killed after he entered Saudi Arabia's consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul on 2 October.
CIA director Gina Haspel discussed the killing to a select group of US senators behind closed doors. The Washington Post columnist had been critical of Mr bin Salman's rule.
Following the meeting, Mr Graham told reporters: "Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally and the relationship is worth saving, but not at all cost. We will do more damage to our standing in the world and our national security by ignoring MBS [Mohammed bin Salman] than dealing with him.
"MBS, the crown prince, is a wrecking ball [and] I think he is complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi to the highest level possible.
"I think the behaviour before the Khashoggi murder was beyond disturbing and I cannot see him being a reliable partner to the United States."
Image: The crown prince has been labelled 'crazy' and a 'wrecking ball' by senator GrahamMr Graham continued: "Saudi Arabia and MBS are two different entities. If the Saudi government is going to be in the hands of this man for a long time to come I find it very difficult to do business because I think he's crazy, I think he is dangerous and he has put the relationship at risk."
He added that he would no longer be able to support arms sales to the kingdom for as long as Mr bin Salman is leading it.
The crown prince is seen as the de facto leader of the country, and his powers extend over the country's defence department.
Image: Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in TurkeySenator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the senate foreign relations committee, echoed Mr Graham's comments, saying: "The views that I had before have only solidified."
Mr Menendez has previously called for a strong US reaction to Mr Khashoggi's death and supports legislation to end all US support for the Saudi coalition embroiled in the Yemen war.
The comments come ahead of a briefing expected to be held next Thursday by Trump administration officials, including secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Jim Mattis, to the House of Representative, according to Reuters.
President Donald Trump has equivocated over who is to blame for the killing, frustrating senators who are now looking for ways to punish the longtime Middle East ally.
VIDEO - Dutch court rejects 69yo's age-change appeal - YouTube
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 15:50
VIDEO - Arnold vs. Donald: Schwarzenegger takes shots at Trump during COP24 - YouTube
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 15:43
VIDEO - WATCH: CNN's Lemon Appears To Use Sexual Slur, Immediately Claims He Doesn't Know What It Means | Daily Wire
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 10:44
CNN's Don Lemon immediately walked back an apparent sexual slur that he used on Wednesday night while appearing on a segment on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time."
The segment originally started out with Cuomo talking about PETA's list of "anti-animal language" and then transitioned into talking about "more serious things."
At the end of the segment, Lemon told Cuomo: "Don't be a chickenhead."
The term "chickenhead" is a slang derogatory term that is used to describe someone who likes performing oral sex on a man and is considered to be especially degrading toward women.
Lemon immediately walked his statement back, saying: "I don't know what that means, I just said it. I have no idea."
CNN's Don Lemon appears to use a sexual slur, tells Chris Cuomo: "Don't be a chickenhead" "Chickenhead" is a slang term used to describe a person who performs fellatio
Right after saying it he tries to walk it back: "I don't know what that means, I just said it. I have no idea" pic.twitter.com/Ed2xb3EzsX
'-- Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 6, 2018This is not the first time that Lemon has made seemingly inappropriate comments about oral sex on CNN.
In 2014, Lemon interviewed Joan Tarshis, one of the women who accused Bill Cosby of rape. Time reported:
The allegations are hardly new, and the interview could have been an occasion for a serious and nuanced conversation about rape, about how survivors respond to and survive assault and about well-documented techniques used by serial abusers. Instead, what proceeded was appalling. Lemon, in a few brief lines, blamed the victim for not stopping her assault, while also managing to subtly convey a whole series of rape myths.
Lemon's most repugnant suggestion was this: ''You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex.'' He went on to clarify that he meant the ''using of the teeth'' as a ''weapon'' to stop the alleged assault. Put crassly, ''Why didn't you bite his dick if you didn't want to perform oral sex?'' Lemon continued, ''If you didn't want to do it'...'' In other words, ''you really wanted it.''
CNN's Don Lemon To Cosby Rape Accuser in 2014: "You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn't want to do it...[like] using of the teeth..." pic.twitter.com/44cpqdUqTe
'-- Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) August 4, 2018"Lemon's belief that a woman being raped should simply bite her rapist's penis isn't just ridiculous, dangerous victim blaming, but is based on what is possibly the oldest and most enduring rape myth: that ''real'' rape must be ''forced'' and corroborated by evidence of struggle," Time added.
Lemon is not the only CNN personality to make sexually inappropriate remarks on the network.
In 2011, CNN's Anderson Cooper made a "teabagging" remark during a segment with David Gergen, the director of the Center for Public Leadership.
"They still haven't found their voice, Anderson," Gergen said. "This happens to a minority party after it's lost a couple of bad elections, but they're searching for their voice."
Cooper replied: "It's hard to talk when you're teabagging."
In 2011, CNN's Cooper made a "teabagging" remark David Gergen: ''They still haven't found their voice, Anderson. This happens to a minority party after it's lost a couple of bad elections, but they're searching for their voice.''
Cooper: ''It's hard to talk when you're teabagging'' pic.twitter.com/xIQaE50fcH
'-- Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 6, 2018
VIDEO - Mueller-referred probe into Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig, Clinton-linked Tony Podesta heats up: report | Fox News
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 10:40
An investigation referred to Justice Department prosecutors by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year into possible criminal activity by Clinton-linked Washington insider Tony Podesta and former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig is heating up, according to a new report that underscores federal authorities' increasing enforcement of laws governing foreign business relationships.
The inquiries center not only on Craig and Podesta -- a Democratic lobbyist and co-founder of the onetime lobbying powerhouse known as the Podesta Group -- but also on Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman from Minnesota.
The probes had been quiet for months since Mueller referred them to authorities in New York City because they fell outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia.
But in a flurry of new activity, Justice Department prosecutors in the last several weeks have begun interviewing witnesses and contacting lawyers to schedule additional questioning related to the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, people familiar with the inquiry anonymously told the Associated Press.
The apparent ramp-up comes as multiple reports and indications suggest that the Mueller probe into possible collusion in 2016 between the Russian government and President Trump's campaign is winding down.
The New York work highlights the broad effects of Mueller's investigation, extending well beyond that collusion question. Mueller has made clear he will not turn away if he discovers alleged crimes outside the scope of his inquiry; instead, he refers them out in investigations that may linger on even after the special counsel's work concludes. Other Justice Department referrals from Mueller have ended in guilty pleas, including the hush money payment case of Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen.
The investigation reflects how Mueller, in latching onto an obscure law, has shined a light on high-dollar lobbying practices that have helped foreign governments find powerful allies and advocates in Washington. It's a practice that has spanned both parties and enriched countless former government officials, who have leveraged their connections to influence American politics.
In New York, Mueller's referral prompted a fresh look at the lobbying firms of Podesta and Weber, who have faced scrutiny for their decisions not to register as foreign agents for Ukrainian lobbying work directed by ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Fox News first reported, and court filings later confirmed, that Podesta was offered "use immunity" by Mueller this summer to testify in the Washington, D.C., trial of Manafort that was planned at the time -- separate from the Virginia case in which he was convicted on bank and fraud charges.
Prosecutors typically offer witnesses immunity to legally prevent them from asserting their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying. "Use immunity" means prosecutors agreed not to use any statements Podesta would make on the witness stand against him in court.
"Use immunity" is not as expansive as "transactional immunity" -- which would have protected Podesta more broadly from being prosecuted on the subject matter of his testimony, even if prosecutors could independently confirm relevant details and didn't need to use his statements on the stand.
Manafort averted the D.C. trial by pleading guilty to two federal counts in September and agreeing to cooperate with the Mueller probe, meaning Podesta did not have to testify at all. That development seemingly rendered the immunity deal moot as to any potential future prosecutorial action involving Podesta.
An attorney for Greg Craig claims his client ''was not required to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act." (Facebook)
Mueller's team has since said Manafort violated that agreement, and the Special Counsel's office is set to file a sentencing memorandum in Manafort's case on Friday that is expected to include prosecutors' recommended sentence for him.
Podesta is a longtime Democratic operative whose brother, John Podesta, ran Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign; Weber is a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. Neither man has been charged with any crimes. Their firms have defended the decisions by saying they relied on the advice of outside attorneys.
Mueller's referral also involved Craig, a former White House counsel for President Barack Obama. Craig supervised a report authored on behalf of the Ukrainian government, and Mueller's team has said Manafort helped Ukraine hide that it paid more than $4 million for the work. CNN reported in September that prosecutors were weighing charges against Craig.
It's unclear if the renewed interest will produce charges or if prosecutors are merely following up on Mueller's referral.
Lawyers for Weber and Craig and a spokeswoman for Podesta declined to comment. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan didn't return an email seeking comment.
Mercury spokesman Michael McKeon said the firm has "always welcomed any inquiry since we acted appropriately at every step of the process, including hiring a top lawyer in Washington and following his advice. We'll continue to cooperate as we have previously."
Foreign lobbying work was central to Mueller's case against Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates, two high-profile Trump campaign officials who pleaded guilty earlier this year and have been interviewed extensively by prosecutors.
The Podestas have been frequent targets of Trump and his associates, who have repeatedly demanded to know why Tony Podesta has not been arrested and charged. Trump confidant Roger Stone, for instance, has insisted a 2016 tweet of his that appeared to presage the release by WikiLeaks of John Podesta's emails '-- "Trust me, it will soon the Podesta's time in the barrel" '-- was instead a reference to the brothers' foreign connections getting them into the hot seat.
Stone's legal team announced in a letter Tuesday that Stone would assert his Fifth Amendment right not to testify or provide documents to a Senate committee investigating potential collusion between the president's team and Russia.
"Mr. Stone's invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege must be understood by all to be the assertion of a Constitutional right by an innocent citizen who denounces secrecy," Stone's attorney, Grant Smith, said in the statement. He also called the Senate Judiciary Committee's requests a "fishing expedition" that is "far too overboard, far too overreaching, far too wide-ranging."
In September, Manafort admitted to directing Mercury and the Podesta Group to lobby in the U.S. on behalf of a Ukrainian political party and Ukraine's government, then led by President Viktor Yanukovych, Manafort's longtime political patron.
Tony Podesta's firm is facing scrutiny from the Robert Mueller probe. (Facebook)
While doing the lobbying, neither the Podesta Group nor Mercury registered as foreign agents under a U.S. law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which requires lobbyists to declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders, governments or their political parties.
The Justice Department has rarely prosecuted such cases, which carry up to five years in prison, but has taken a more aggressive tack lately.
To secretly fund the lobbying and to avoid registration with the Justice Department, Manafort said he along with unidentified "others" arranged for the firms to be hired by a Brussels-based nonprofit, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, rather than the Ukrainian political interests directly.
Mercury and Podesta, which were paid a combined $2 million on the project, then registered under a less stringent lobbying law that doesn't require as much public disclosure as FARA.
Both firms have said they registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, rather than FARA, on the advice of lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Craig's former firm.
Gates admitted in his plea deal that he lied to Mercury's attorneys about the project, a fact the lobbying firm has publicly highlighted. The Podesta Group has said it was misled by the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, citing a written certification from the nonprofit stating it wasn't directed or controlled by the Ukrainian Party of Regions, one of Manafort's clients.
Both firms have since registered under FARA. But in court papers filed alongside Manafort's plea agreement, Mueller's prosecutors suggested the firms were aware they were working on Ukraine's behalf.
Prosecutors say employees of both companies "referred to the client in ways that made clear they knew it was Ukraine." One Mercury employee said the nonprofit was the client "in name only," likening the situation to "Alice in Wonderland." A Podesta employee referred to the nonprofit's certification that it wasn't related to the Ukrainian political party as a "fig leaf on a fig leaf."
Mueller's team also noted that "the head of" the Podesta Group, an apparent reference to Tony Podesta, told his team to think the president of Ukraine is the client.
Fox News' Bill Mears and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEO - Presidential funeral train will be first in nearly 50 years
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 10:37
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) '-- The locomotive was painted to resemble Air Force One, but George H.W. Bush joked that if it had been around during his presidency, he may have preferred to ride the rails rather than take to the skies.
''I might have left Air Force One behind,'' Bush quipped during the 2005 unveiling of 4141, a blue and gray locomotive commissioned in honor of the 41st president and unveiled at Texas A&M University.
On Thursday, that same 4,300-horsepower machine will carry Bush's casket, along with relatives and close friends, for around 70 miles (113 kilometers). The journey through five small Texas towns was expected to take about two and a half hours. It will deliver the casket from suburban Houston to College Station.
There, a motorcade will take Bush to his presidential library at the university, where he will be laid to rest at a private ceremony next to his wife, Barbara, who died in April, and his daughter Robin, who died at age 3 in 1953.
The train's sixth car, a converted baggage hauler called ''Council Bluffs,'' has been fitted with transparent sides to allow mourners lining the tracks on Thursday views of Bush's flag draped coffin.
The Bush 4141, a locomotive dedicated to former President George H. W. Bush is being prepared to carry the late president's casket from Houston to College Station, Texas on Thursday. (Dec. 4)
It will be the eighth funeral train in U.S. history and the first since Dwight D. Eisenhower's body traveled from the National Cathedral in Washington through seven states to his Kansas hometown of Abilene 49 years ago. Abraham Lincoln's funeral train was the first, in 1865.
Robert F. Kennedy was never president, but he was running for the White House when he was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968. His body was later transported to New York City for a funeral Mass and then taken by private train to Washington for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Thousands of mourners lined the tracks for the 200-plus-mile journey.
Union Pacific originally commissioned the Bush locomotive for the opening of an exhibit at his presidential library titled ''Trains: Tracks of the Iron Horse.'' It was one of the few times the company has painted a locomotive any color other than its traditional yellow. After a brief training session during 4141'²s unveiling 13 years ago, Bush took the engineer's seat and helped take the locomotive for a 2-mile excursion.
''We just rode on the railroads all the time, and I've never forgotten it,'' Bush said at the time, recalling how he took trains, and often slept on them, during trips as a child with his family. He also called the locomotive ''the Air Force One of railroads.''
Bush, who died last week at his Houston home at age 94, was eulogized Wednesday at a funeral service at the National Cathedral. By evening, his casket was at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston.
The funeral train has been part of the official planning for his death for years, Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said.
Union Pacific was contacted by federal officials in early 2009 and asked, at Bush's request, about providing a funeral train at some point, company spokesman Tom Lange said.
''We said, 'Of course and also we have this locomotive that we would want to have obviously be part of it,''' Lange said. He noted that trains were the mode of transportation that first carried Bush to his service as a naval aviator in World War II and back home again.
Eisenhower was the last president to travel by train regularly. A key reason was his wife, Mamie, who hated to fly. During the 1952 campaign, Eisenhower traveled more than 51,000 miles and made 252 stops. And while he often flew, his wife rode the train the whole time, Union Pacific said.
Still, when Bush beat Democrat Michael Dukakis and won the presidency in 1988, both candidates used trains to make some campaign stops. Bush also occasionally traveled by train in 1992, when he was defeated by Democrat Bill Clinton, including making Midwest stops aboard a train dubbed ''The Spirit of America.''
VIDEO - France's Macron scraps fuel tax rise amid fears of more protests, violence | Fox News
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 03:45
French President Emmanuel Macron has canceled a planned fuel tax increase after three weeks of nationwide protests that left four people dead and sparked the worst anti-government riot in Paris since 2005.
An official with the Elysee Palace told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the president decided to get rid of the tax, while Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed to lawmakers that "the tax is now abandoned" in the 2019 budget. A day earlier, Philippe announced that the tax increase would be suspended for six months.
But despite the government's concession, protest leaders have said demonstrations are likely to continue with trade unions and farmers joining the fray against Macron's increasingly unpopular policies.
Jacline Mouraud, a self-proclaimed spokesperson for the so-called "yellow vest" protesters, told The Associated Press that Macron's move "is on the right path but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement." She urged protesters to seize on the French government's weakness to push other demands such as a rise in the minimum wage. More protests are planned for Saturday in Paris.
On Wednesday, France's largest farmers' union said it will launch anti-government protests next week after trucking unions called for a rolling strike. A joint statement from the CGT and the FO trucking unions called for action Sunday night to protest a cut in overtime rates. France's transportation minister agreed to meet with truckers' representatives on Thursday.
The FNSEA farmers' union said it would fight to help French farmers earn a better income but would not officially be joining forces with the "yellow vests" '-- protesters wearing the high-visibility vests that French motorists are required to keep in their cars.
French police have cleared most of the fuel depots that protesters had blocked earlier in the week, but fuel shortages continued to hit parts of France on Wednesday, with hundreds of gas stations affected. Demonstrators were also blocking toll booths, letting drivers pass without paying, to press demands that ranged from higher incomes and pensions to the dissolution of the National Assembly, France's parliament.
Macron's popularity has slumped to a new low since the first demonstrations took place on Nov. 17. The former investment banker, who has pushed pro-business economic reforms to make France more globally competitive, is accused of being the "president of the rich" and of being estranged from the working classes.
At Tolbiac University in downtown Paris, students took over a school building and classes were canceled.
"We need taxes, but they are not properly redistributed," protester Thomas Tricottet told BFM television. "We obviously need to fight against this."
The high school students' FIDL union called for a "massive and general mobilization" on Thursday and urged France's education minister to step down.
One student was injured during protests at a high school in Saint-Jean-de-Braye in north-central France. BFM said he was shot in the head with a rubber bullet but authorities did not confirm that. Julien Guiller, a spokesman for the regional school administration, told The Associated Press the student was expected to survive.
Since returning from the G-20 summit in Argentina over the weekend, Macron's actions have done little to reassure protesters that he is listening to their concerns.
He has refrained from speaking publicly about the protests and has largely remained in his palace residence. On Tuesday night, the young leader was booed and jeered as he traveled to a regional government headquarters that was torched by protesters last weekend.
Four people have been killed in the unrest since mid-November. One activist said Wednesday that he fears more deaths if Saturday's "yellow vest" demonstration in Paris goes ahead, and urged Macron to speak out and bring calm to the nation.
"If not there will be chaos," said Christophe Chalencon, a 52-year-old blacksmith from southern France.
He told the AP that the French public needs Macron to "admit he made a mistake, with simple words ... that touch the guts and heart of the French."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEO - Facebook gave data on user's friends to certain companies: documents | Reuters
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 23:29
(Reuters) - Facebook Inc (FB.O ) let some companies, including Netflix (NFLX.O ) and Airbnb, access users' lists of friends after it cut off that data for most other apps around 2015, according to documents released on Wednesday by a British lawmaker investigating fake news and social media.
The 223 pages of internal communication from 2012 to 2015 between high-level employees, including founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, provide new evidence of previously aired contentions that Facebook has picked favorites and engaged in anti-competitive behavior.
The documents show that Facebook tracked growth of competitors and denied them access to user data available to others.
In 2014, the company identified about 100 apps as being either ''Mark's friends'' or ''Sheryl's friends'' and also tracked how many apps were spending money on Facebook ads, according to the documents, referring to Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
The insight into the thinking of Facebook executives over that period could invite new regulatory scrutiny into its business practices.
Facebook said it stood by its deliberations and decisions, but noted that it would relax one ''out-of-date'' policy that restricted competitors' use of its data.
One document said such competitor apps had previously needed Zuckerberg's approval before using tools Facebook makes available to app developers.
Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Wednesday that the company could have prevented the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal had it cracked down on app developers a year earlier in 2014.
Misuse of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, along with another data breach this year and revelations about Facebook's lobbying tactics have heightened government scrutiny globally on the company's privacy and content moderation practices.
Stifel analysts on Wednesday lowered their rating on Facebook shares to ''hold,'' saying that ''political and regulatory blowback seems like it may lead to restrictions on how Facebook operates, over time.''
Damian Collins, a Conservative British parliamentarian who leads a committee on media and culture, made the internal documents public after demanding them last month under threat of sanction from Six4Three.
A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo The defunct app developer obtained them as part of its ongoing lawsuit in California state court alleging that Facebook violated promises to app developers when it ended their access to likes, photos and other data of users' friends in 2015.
Facebook, which has described the Six4Three case as baseless, said the released communications were ''selectively leaked'' and it defended its practices.
'WHITELISTED' FOR ACCESS TO FRIENDS DATA Though filed under seal and redacted in the lawsuit, the internal communications needed to be made public because ''they raise important questions about how Facebook treats users' data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market,'' Collins said on Twitter.
Dating app Badoo and ride-hailing app Lyft were among other companies 'whitelisted' for access to data about users' friends, the documents here showed.
Lyft wanted to show carpool riders their mutual friends as an ''ice breaker,'' even if those friends were not using Lyft, according to one email. Facebook said in an email that it approved the request because it would add to a feeling of ''safety'' for riders.
Facebook described such deals as short-term extensions, but it is unclear exactly when the various agreements ended.
Netflix, Airbnb, Lyft and Badoo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The documents show an exchange between Zuckerberg and senior executive Justin Osofsky in 2013, in which they decided to stop giving friends' list access to Vine on the day that social media rival Twitter Inc (TWTR.N ) launched the video-sharing service.
''We've prepared reactive PR,'' Osofsky wrote, to which Zuckerberg replied, ''Yup, go for it.''
Twitter declined to comment.
Friends' data had stoked the growth of many apps because it enabled people to easily connect with Facebook buddies on a new service.
Facebook weighed charging other apps for access to its developer tools, including the friends lists, if they did not buy a certain amount of advertising from Facebook, according to the emails. In one from 2012, Zuckerberg wrote that he was drawing inspiration for business models from books he had been reading about the banking industry.
Facebook said it ultimately maintained free access to the tools.
Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Bill Berkrot
VIDEO - Mattis calls for help in ending war in Afghanistan: '40 years is enough' | TheHill
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 11:15
Secretary of Defense James Mattis James Norman MattisOvernight Defense: GOP senators rip Saudi prince after CIA briefing | Top general says Afghan war at a stalemate | Mattis extends border mission through January | Pompeo gives Russia deadline on nuclear arms treaty Trump-GOP rift grows over Saudis Armed Services chairmen meet with Trump on potential cuts to Defense MORE on Monday called for the international community to help end the war in Afghanistan and aid regional leaders in their efforts to bridge longstanding disagreements, saying that conflicts in Afghanistan have now gone on for ''40 years.''
''In Afghanistan, it's gone on now it's approaching 40 years; 40 years is enough, and it's time for everyone to get on board, support the United Nations, support [Indian] Prime Minister Modi, support [Afghan] President Ghani and all those who are trying to maintain peace and make for a better world here. So, we are on that track,'' Mattis told reporters ahead of a meeting with his Indian counterpart, Nirmala Sitharaman.
The U.S. has had a military presence in Afghanistan for 17 years, since 2001, when it removed the Taliban government from power, but Afghanistan has been in conflict since the late 1970s when U.S.-backed Afghan guerrillas repelled the Soviet Union from the country in a nine-year war.
Since the U.S. has had a presence, however, troops have been bogged down in an insurgency waged by the Taliban and other armed groups.
Mattis noted that the U.S. is currently concerned over the influence of Pakistan-based armed groups that have clashed with U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
''The presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has also heightened U.S. sensitivity to the rivalry between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. Washington and New Delhi share concerns over Pakistan-based anti-Western and anti-Indian Islamist militant groups,'' he said, according to the Afghan media outlet Tolo News.
VIDEO - Federal Coalition, Labor strike deal allowing authorities greater access to encrypted messages - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 22:21
By political reporter Henry Belot Updated Tue 4 Dec 2018, 5:45 PM AEDTPhotoThe Federal Government and Labor have reached an agreement that will allow authorities greater access to private encrypted messages.
ABC News: Daniel Miller
New powers to allow police and intelligence agencies to intercept encrypted messages are expected to pass Federal Parliament this week.
Key points:Authorities have warned 95 per cent of people watched by domestic spy agencies are using encrypted messaging appsShadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the Coalition had made a number of concessionsHe said the deal will improve oversight and accountability to prevent unintended consequences The Federal Government has warned that 95 per cent of people watched by Australia's domestic spy agencies are using encrypted messaging apps.
The Coalition and Labor have been locked in negotiations over the contentious legislation for weeks, but it appears an in-principle agreement has been reached that addresses Opposition concerns.
Federal Labor wanted to ensure the interception powers could only be used to investigate serious crimes like terrorism and child sex offences.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said Labor had compromised on that position to include serious offences like drug and gun crime.
The Opposition was also worried the legislation was too broad and wanted to restrict the powers to federal agencies, rather than state police.
"At the beginning of this week, the situation we faced was a proposal from the Opposition for an interim bill that would have removed state police completely," Mr Porter said.
"They would have also narrowed the range of offences to only two categories of offence and they were insisting, in our observation, a very slow process.
"I am incredibly pleased for the Australian people that it appears we will have the passage of this very important bill finalised and through both houses of parliament by the end of the week.
"We have been told repeatedly by our security agencies that Christmas is a very difficult time for law enforcement."
'This bill is far from perfect'Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the bill was not perfect but changes had been made to improve oversight and accountability.
In the wake of the Bourke Street attack in Melbourne last month, the Coalition had been pressuring Labor to support the legislation before Parliament rises on Thursday.
"It appears the Government will agree to proposals by Labor that will ensure there is better oversight and limitation of the powers in this bill, and better safeguards against potential unintended consequences," Mr Dreyfus said in a statement.
"Let me be clear '-- this bill is far from perfect and there are likely to be significant outstanding issues.
"But this compromise will deliver security and enforcement agencies the powers they say they need over the Christmas period, and ensure adequate oversight and safeguards to prevent unintended consequences while ongoing work continues '-- just as Labor proposed."
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VIDEO - Dark Legacy: George Bush And The Murder Of John Kennedy - YouTube
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 22:11
VIDEO - Sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein settles court case, apologizes | Miami Herald
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:58
A trial that could have allowed the victims of serial molester Jeffrey Epstein to finally tell their stories from a witness stand was aborted Tuesday when it was announced in court that the case had been settled.
It ended with an apology '-- not to the dozens of women who were sexually abused by Epstein as underage girls, but to the lawyer who represented them.
There is also a monetary settlement, which is undisclosed.
Attorney Brad Edwards displayed decades worth of the case files after a settlement was reacehde in the Epstein civil case Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 in Palm Beach County Court. Epstein issued a public apology to Edward, through his attorney, admitting that the charges he leveled against him were completely false.
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com
The lawyer who took Epstein to court, Bradley Edwards, said he remains determined to give the women, now in their late 20s and early 30s, their day in court.
That opportunity could come in separate litigation that seeks to undo a controversial non-prosecution agreement that was negotiated in secret 10 years ago between the Palm Beach multimillionaire's lawyers and the U.S. attorney for South Florida, Alex Acosta.
The case is pending. Edwards has argued that the settlement was illegal because it was executed without telling Epstein's victims, an apparently violation of the Crime Victims' Rights Act. That law entitles crime victims in federal cases to be informed of developments, including plea deals and court hearings.
The women were deliberately kept in the dark, emails obtained by the Miami Herald showed.
A series of stories in the Miami Herald, published over the past week, outlined all the ways in which the U.S. Attorney's Office under Acosta colluded with the Epstein defense team to hide the agreement from the press, public and victims until after it was executed.
As part of the deal with Acosta 10 years ago, Epstein served slightly over a year in the Palm Beach County stockade after pleading guilty to two minor prostitution-related charges.
Acosta is now President Donald Trump's secretary of labor.
The trial set to begin Tuesday was the result of a convoluted dispute between Edwards, who has represented several women who say they were molested by the hedge fund manager, and Epstein.
Epstein initially sued Edwards, linking the lawyer to the leader of his former law firm, notorious Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein. Epstein claimed that Edwards' aggressive advocacy on behalf of the women was a way to divert attention from Rothstein's ripoff, a scam that stole hundreds of millions of dollars. It blew up Rothstein's prominent law firm and landed him in prison for decades.
Brad Edwards is all smiles while speaking to Jeffrey Epsteins attorneys Scott Link and Jack Goldberger prior to a civil settlement announcement made in Palm Beach County Court Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. Link read a written apology from Epstein to attorney Brad Edwards, where Epstein admitted that the charges he leveled against Edwards were completely false. POOL PHOTO EMILY MICHOT/MIAMI HERALD STAFF
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com
After Rothstein said Edwards had nothing to do with the Ponzi scheme, Epstein withdrew his lawsuit, and Edwards countersued. Edwards hoped to use the forum of the trial to allow sex abuse victims to tell their stories of abuse at the hands of Epstein, which they did not get to do originally because of the non-prosecution agreement signed by Acosta when he was South Florida's top prosecutor.
Discussing the settlement outside the West Palm Beach courthouse, Edwards stood in front of stacks of boxes of evidence that he had prepared to present at trial.
Epstein, who was not in court, issued a statement that said, in part: ''I sincerely apologize for the false and hurtful allegations I made and hope [for] some forgiveness for my acknowledgment of wrongdoing.''
VIDEO - Dershowitz Goes Off on Woman Who Made Underage Sex Allegations: 'She Should Be Seriously Punished' | Law & Crime
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:43
Just hours after convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein agreed to settle a civil case brought against him by attorney Bradley Edwards, Epstein's lawyer from his past criminal case, Alan Dershowitz, discussed his former client on the Law&Crime Network. Epstein was accused of trafficking more than 40 underage girls for sex, and one such girl claimed Dershowitz himself had sex with her when she was underage.
Dershowitz vehemently denies the claim, telling host Brian Ross that accuser Virginia Roberts is a ''certified, complete, total liar,'' and that her allegations are a ''complete and total fabrication.'' He also added that she should be punished by the law for what she did.
The Harvard Law Professor Emeritus noted that Roberts' allegations were eventually withdrawn, and that the FBI recognized the evidence showed he was not where she said he was. He pointed to documented evidence that proves he is innocent.
''I can prove conclusively that she made the whole thing up,'' Dershowitz said, citing travel records that he says prove where he was at the time she claims she had sex with him. ''It's conclusive, conclusive evidence.''
''More importantly, I can prove where I wasn't,'' he said, after stating outright, ''Never met her, don't know who she is, never heard of her.''
Similarly, Dershowitz said that Roberts claimed that notable figures such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Tipper Gore were present on an island, when Secret Service records proved they were never even there.
Dershowitz said Roberts' allegations were part of an extortion plot, and that she ''should be seriously punished for submitting false information and a false affidavit.''
The attorney emphasized that Roberts has not been willing to repeat her allegations against him in public, and that she has only accused him in the context of litigation, which affords certain protections.
''She simply hides behind litigation privileges,'' Dershowitz said, encouraging Ross to call Roberts and see if she would repeat her claims. ''And if she does, I will be in court the next day suing her for defamation and I will win the case 'cause I can prove conclusively that she made up the whole story from top to bottom.''
Ross then turned to the controversial deal that Epstein received from federal prosecutors who were investigating the trafficking case against him. Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute him, and let him plead guilty to state charges that resulted in a 13-month prison sentence that allowed Epstein to leave prison during the day for work. Federal prosecutors allegedly did not even inform victims before making the deal, which is now the subject of a request for an Inspector General investigation. Congressional Democrats said in a letter that they want to know more about the circumstances surrounding the deal, which was made by then-U.S. Attorney and current Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta.
As Epstein's defense attorney in that case, Dershowitz is not upset about it the deal at all.
''I'm very proud of that deal, that's what lawyers are supposed to do,'' he said. ''Lawyers are supposed to get the best deals they can.'' If he could have gotten 10 months or no time at all, that would have been even better, he said.
Acosta said in the past that Epstein's lawyers, including Dershowitz, put pressure on his office by investigating his staff. Dershowitz has denied this.
''Acosta was very tough,'' Dershowitz said, contrary to concerns that he did anything improper. Dershowitz pointed out that the problem feds had was proving that girls were transported in interstate commerce.
''Unless you can prove that, you don't have a federal case, only a state case.''
[Image via Law & Crime Network screengrab]
VIDEO - Burger King | Whopper Detour - YouTube
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:42
VIDEO - How It Works '' Fisher Wallace
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:31
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VIDEO - The Facebook Dilemma: Brad Parscale - YouTube
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 17:51
VIDEO - Stephen Cohen on Cancelled Trump-Putin Meeting at G20 Summit - YouTube
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 17:13
VIDEO - The Facebook Dilemma: Brad Parscale - YouTube
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 17:06
VIDEO - US embassy reopens after ISIS threat | TheHill
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 17:05
By Chris Mills Rodrigo - 12/04/18 08:26 AM EST The U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reopened Tuesday after being closed when U.S. operatives obtained intelligence that an ISIS affiliate may be planning an attack on American assets in the region, a representative from the State Department told The Hill.
U.S. officials told CNN that while the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria does not operate in the DRC, the terror group might enter the country for the attack.
The State Department confirmed to The Hill that the embassy reopened after being closed since November 24 because of "credible and specific information of a possible terrorist threat against U.S. Government facilities in Kinshasa," according to a statement on the embassy's website.
The threats in the DRC coincide with the second-largest Ebola outbreak in modern history. Some 426 cases have been reported, as well as 245 fatalities.
Updated at 11:40 a.m.
VIDEO - Emmanuel Macron forced into U-turn as France's PM suspends fuel tax hikes after violent protests | London Evening Standard
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 16:44
France's Prime Minister has suspended a fuel tax hike that sparked widespread protests nationwide against it and other policies of President Emmanuel Macron .
The French PM Edouard Philippe announced the move on Tuesday, following crisis talks at the ‰lys(C)e Palace .
Stating the increase would be suspended for six months, he said: "No tax is worth putting the nation's unity in danger."
As he also announced that electricity and natural gas prices will be frozen until May 2019, he said: "This violence must end."
Bodycam video of police clashing with protesters in Paris
A government source said the postponement of the fuel tax increase will cost 2 billion euros, around £1.7 billion, according to Reuters.
'‹ '‹This comes as Mr Macron and Mr Philippe's approval ratings hit new lows as the so-called "yellow vest" protests gathered pace.
Protests in Paris on December 1 turned particularly violent, with the Arc de Triomphe defaced and avenues off Paris's Champs Elysees vandalised.
France's President Emmanuel Macron, center , France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner , center right, Secretary of State to the Interior Minister Laurent Nunez, left, and Paris police Prefect Michel Delpuech , right (AP)
More than 100 people were injured in the French capital and 412 have been arrested over the weekend, in what was France's worst urban riot in years.
Dozens of cars were torched during the mass acts of vandalism which came with the uproar.
Police responded with tear gas and water cannons, while they shut down dozens of streets and subway stations to contain the frenzied scenes.
Fires burn as protesters clash with riot police during a 'Yellow Vest' demonstration near the Arc de Triomphe (Getty Images)
The first "yellow vest" demonstrations were held on November 17, originally to contest fuel-tax rises, and have since evolved into a broader protest movement, in part against the policies of President Macron.
The tax, which Mr Macron stated was to combat climate change, would have increased petrol prices by four euro cents per litre from January next year.
Petrol currently costs about 1.42 euro, around £1.20, a litre in Paris, slightly more than diesel.
The demonstrations held over the last weekend marked the third in a row where there were protests, both in Paris and elsewhere in France.
Paris 'yellow vest' tax protests 1/32 A car burns during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs on the Champs Elysees
AFP/Getty Images
2/32 Demonstrators wearing a yellow vest face anti-riot police as demonstrators blocking a road near the oil depot of La Rochelle
AFP/Getty Images
3/32 French member of the National Assembly Jean Lassalle, wearing a yellow vest, addresses media as ambulance drivers block traffic during a protest demonstration at the Place de la Concorde in Paris
4/32 A demonstrator wearing a yellow vest (gilet jaune) stands behind barricades blocking a road near the oil depot of La Rochelle
AFP/Getty Images
5/32 Demonstrators wearing a yellow vest (gilet jaune) face anti-riot police as demonstrators blocking a road near the oil depot of La Rochelle, southwestern France
AFP/Getty Images
6/32 Demonstrators wearing a yellow vest face anti-riot police as demonstrators blocking a road near the oil depot of La Rochelle
AFP/Getty Images
7/32 Firefighters work to put out cars set on fire on a road nearby Arc de Triomphe
Getty Images
8/32 Demonstrators destroy cars during a protest of "Yellow vests"
AFP/Getty Images
9/32 The third 'Yellow Vest' (gilets jaunes) rally in Paris over increased fuel taxes and leadership in the government today caused over 150 arrests in the city with reports of injuries to protesters and security forces
Getty Images
10/32 A vandalized car is seen on a street the morning after clashes with protesters in Paris
11/32 Protesters burnt cars in the streets in the worst rioting in Paris in years
12/32 A barrage made of debris blocks a street the morning after clashes with protesters
13/32 Hundreds of people were arrested and injured
14/32 A policeman patrols outside a vandalized building the morning after clashes
15/32 charred cars in a street of Paris on December 2, 2018, a day after clashes during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs
AFP/Getty Images
16/32 A passer-by takes a photo of the damage caused in the rioting
17/32 A vandalized car is seen the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018
18/32 A yellow vest hangs inside a vandalized store front
19/32 Demonstrators destroy a car during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs on the Champs Elysees, in Paris, on December 1, 2018
AFP/Getty Images
20/32 Demonstrators walk by a burning barricade near the Arc de Triomphe
21/32 Demonstrators gather during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs on the Champs Elysees, in Paris, on December 1, 2018
AFP/Getty Images
22/32 French riot police stand guard during clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes
23/32 A protester wearing a yellow vest, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, holds a French flag during clashes at the Place de l'Etoile in Paris
24/32 Protesters wearing yellow vests (gilets jaunes) clash with riot police in a cloud of teargas during a demonstration over high fuel prices on the Champs Elysee in Paris
25/32 Demonstrators raise their arms as they surround the tomb of The Unknown Soldier at The Arc of Triomphe
AFP/Getty Images
26/32 French riot Police clear out the Place de l'Etoile with water canons and tear gas around the Arc de Triompe
27/32 Riot police officers chase demonstrators near the Arc de Triomphe
28/32 Protesters wearing yellow vests (gilets jaunes) chase a french riot police officer
29/32 Protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, face off with French riot police d
30/32 A protester holds a French flag during the clash
31/32 Demonstrators stand behind a barricade as they face policemen during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs
AFP/Getty Images
32/32 Masked demonstrators use street barriers as shields as they clash with riot police officers near the Arc de Triomphe
1/32 A car burns during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs on the Champs Elysees
AFP/Getty Images
2/32 Demonstrators wearing a yellow vest face anti-riot police as demonstrators blocking a road near the oil depot of La Rochelle
AFP/Getty Images
3/32 French member of the National Assembly Jean Lassalle, wearing a yellow vest, addresses media as ambulance drivers block traffic during a protest demonstration at the Place de la Concorde in Paris
4/32 A demonstrator wearing a yellow vest (gilet jaune) stands behind barricades blocking a road near the oil depot of La Rochelle
AFP/Getty Images
5/32 Demonstrators wearing a yellow vest (gilet jaune) face anti-riot police as demonstrators blocking a road near the oil depot of La Rochelle, southwestern France
AFP/Getty Images
6/32 Demonstrators wearing a yellow vest face anti-riot police as demonstrators blocking a road near the oil depot of La Rochelle
AFP/Getty Images
7/32 Firefighters work to put out cars set on fire on a road nearby Arc de Triomphe
Getty Images
8/32 Demonstrators destroy cars during a protest of "Yellow vests"
AFP/Getty Images
9/32 The third 'Yellow Vest' (gilets jaunes) rally in Paris over increased fuel taxes and leadership in the government today caused over 150 arrests in the city with reports of injuries to protesters and security forces
Getty Images
10/32 A vandalized car is seen on a street the morning after clashes with protesters in Paris
11/32 Protesters burnt cars in the streets in the worst rioting in Paris in years
12/32 A barrage made of debris blocks a street the morning after clashes with protesters
13/32 Hundreds of people were arrested and injured
14/32 A policeman patrols outside a vandalized building the morning after clashes
15/32 charred cars in a street of Paris on December 2, 2018, a day after clashes during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs
AFP/Getty Images
16/32 A passer-by takes a photo of the damage caused in the rioting
17/32 A vandalized car is seen the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018
18/32 A yellow vest hangs inside a vandalized store front
19/32 Demonstrators destroy a car during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs on the Champs Elysees, in Paris, on December 1, 2018
AFP/Getty Images
20/32 Demonstrators walk by a burning barricade near the Arc de Triomphe
21/32 Demonstrators gather during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs on the Champs Elysees, in Paris, on December 1, 2018
AFP/Getty Images
22/32 French riot police stand guard during clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes
23/32 A protester wearing a yellow vest, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, holds a French flag during clashes at the Place de l'Etoile in Paris
24/32 Protesters wearing yellow vests (gilets jaunes) clash with riot police in a cloud of teargas during a demonstration over high fuel prices on the Champs Elysee in Paris
25/32 Demonstrators raise their arms as they surround the tomb of The Unknown Soldier at The Arc of Triomphe
AFP/Getty Images
26/32 French riot Police clear out the Place de l'Etoile with water canons and tear gas around the Arc de Triompe
27/32 Riot police officers chase demonstrators near the Arc de Triomphe
28/32 Protesters wearing yellow vests (gilets jaunes) chase a french riot police officer
29/32 Protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, face off with French riot police d
30/32 A protester holds a French flag during the clash
31/32 Demonstrators stand behind a barricade as they face policemen during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs
AFP/Getty Images
32/32 Masked demonstrators use street barriers as shields as they clash with riot police officers near the Arc de Triomphe
Three people have died from incidents linked to the protests so far.
Despite the expected U-turn, ahead of the official announcement yellow vest protesters said demonstrations would continue in an attempt to push for further tax reductions.
Benjamin Cauchy, a spokesman for the movement, said: "It's a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb."
On Tuesday, continued to block several fuel depots and many insisted their fight was not over.
M'‹ r Macron held an emergency meeting Sunday on security after he arrived back from the Group of 20 summit in Argentina.
The government has not ruled out the possibility of imposing a state of emergency.
French ambulance drivers hold blue, white, red smoke bombs during a demonstration at the Place de la Concorde in Paris (Reuters)
On Monday, French paramedics joined the ongoing anti-government protests, as the prime minister met with political rivals in a bid to ease anger following the violent fallout of the weekend.
Ambulances blocked a bridge leading to the National Assembly while lines of riot police officers stood in the rain to prevent them from getting too close to the building.
Paramedics were involved to complain about changes to working conditions.
Paris protests on November 24 - In pictures 1/12 Yellow vest protestors demonstrate amid tear gas on the Champs Elysees in Paris
AFP/Getty Images
2/12 Protestors clash with riot police amid tear gas during a demonstration of Yellow vests
AFP/Getty Images
3/12 Protestors gathered near the Arc de Triomphe
AFP/Getty Images
4/12 Riot police face Yellow vests protestors demonstrating near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris
AFP/Getty Images
5/12 Yellow vest protestors demonstrate near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris, on November 24, 2018
AFP/Getty Images
6/12 Tear gas was used to disperse crowds
AFP/Getty Images
7/12 Police with riot shields attended the scene in Paris
8/12 AP
9/12 EPA
10/12 AFP/Getty Images
11/12 AFP/Getty Images
12/12 A protestor stands in front of a burning vehicle
1/12 Yellow vest protestors demonstrate amid tear gas on the Champs Elysees in Paris
AFP/Getty Images
2/12 Protestors clash with riot police amid tear gas during a demonstration of Yellow vests
AFP/Getty Images
3/12 Protestors gathered near the Arc de Triomphe
AFP/Getty Images
4/12 Riot police face Yellow vests protestors demonstrating near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris
AFP/Getty Images
5/12 Yellow vest protestors demonstrate near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris, on November 24, 2018
AFP/Getty Images
6/12 Tear gas was used to disperse crowds
AFP/Getty Images
7/12 Police with riot shields attended the scene in Paris
8/12 AP
9/12 EPA
10/12 AFP/Getty Images
11/12 AFP/Getty Images
12/12 A protestor stands in front of a burning vehicle
Prominent Socialist Party figure Segolene Royal, a former candidate for president, lauded Mr Philippe's decision on taxes but said it came too late.
She said: "This decision should have been taken from the start, as soon as the conflict emerged. We felt it was going to be very, very hard because we saw the rage, the exasperation, especially from retirees. They should have withdrawn (the tax hikes) right away. The more you let a conflict fester, the more you eventually have to concede."
Laurent Wauquiez, head of centre-right Les Republicains party, previously urged Macron to hold a referendum to end the crisis.
However, he did not say what its topic should be.
"French people need to be heard again, and for that we must organise a referendum to decide these issues. Only these measures will restore calm," Mr Wauquiez said.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is expected to introduce measures to reduce the tensions
Socialist leader Olivier Faure had also urged the PM to drop the tax hikes and to restore a wealth tax, which was slashed by the centrist government.
"We want a change in the method. One needs to come down from Mount Olympus," Mr Faure said, referring to Macron's Greek god nickname of Jupiter.
Ambulance staff joined with protests on Monday (AFP /Getty Images)
President Macron and Prime Minister Philippe's approval ratings hit new lows amid the actions taken.
Mr Macron's approval rating fell to 23 per cent in the poll conducted late last week, which was down six points on the previous month, according to an Ifop-Fiducial poll for Paris Match and Sud Radio published on Tuesday.
While the French PMs rating fell 10 points to 26 per cent, according to the same research.
President Macron heckled as he visits Arc de Triomphe
The score of the President matches the low charted by his predecessor Francois Hollande in late 2013, according to Paris Match.
Mr Hollande was then considered to be the least popular leader in modern French history.
Due to the protests, Mr Macron has postponed a trip to Serbia which had been scheduled to improve relations between the two countries.
Demonstrators walk by a burning barricade near the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration (AP)
"President Macron has asked to postpone for several weeks his visit to Serbia due to the situation in his country," Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters after a phone call with Macron.
Macron's office confirmed the trip would be postponed because of "the incidents that took place in the last protests."
A football game between Paris Saint-Germain and Montpellier which was scheduled for Saturday in Paris has also been postponed, as police said they could not guarantee security amid expected protests in the capital.
The government announcement marks Mr Macron's first significant U-turn on a major policy since taking power last year.
Conservative and Socialist leaders in France have often been forced to withdraw policies because of street protests.
Mr Macron initially insisted he would press ahead with his policy of increasing the price of petrol and diesel in line with the Paris Climate Change agreement. He had said there would be ''no possibility whatsoever'' of his government backing down in the face of disturbances.
More about: | Emmanuel Macron | France
VIDEO - Tim Cook's speech at the ''Annual Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate''
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 14:25
Posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2018 at 8:07 pm. PTWritten by Shawn King
Apple CEO Tim Cook accepts the Anti-Defamation League's inaugural Courage Against Hate Award at the Never is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate today. He gave a powerful keynote speech with a strong message for those who want to spread hate on Apple's platform.
VIDEO - Why the News Media is stealing from the Pro Wrestling playbook | Eric Bischoff | TEDxNaperville - YouTube
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 12:39
VIDEO - OPUS 103 Trump's Chinese Dinner RAW - YouTube
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 00:06
VIDEO - Why South Park Apologized '' Wisecrack Quick Take - YouTube
Sun, 02 Dec 2018 22:10


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All Clips

NPR-Tumblr bans adult content-Apple again.mp3
older report on school lunch visitation.mp3
Paul Hogan for OZ Tourist Bureau.mp3
picenick on GHW BUSH ruthless.mp3
Schwarzenegger COP24-1-USA is still in-no matter what Trump says.mp3
Schwarzenegger COP24-2-unglued-wants to time travel.mp3
shrimp ISO.mp3
Simon Sinek on cell phone addiction right.mp3
smoking saw ISO.mp3
Steve Pieczenik on Trump China Dinner.mp3
Tim Cook-ADL-Courage Against Hate-1-We are Holy-Technology ONLY for good with VALUES.mp3
Tim Cook-ADL-Courage Against Hate-2-Our values-NO HATE WITH US- WE KNOW BEST.mp3
Tim Cook-ADL-Courage Against Hate-3-Deus est Machina-WE ARE GOD in the machine.mp3
TTTH USA MiddleEast Admiral Commits Suicide But No Foul Play-.mp3
Upside Down PSA-Raleigh NC.mp3
US vs Russia missile dev DN.mp3
very_cool-EOS-Danny Loos.mp3
Whole World is Watching - EOS - Tom Starkweather.mp3
Alan Derschowitz in 2008 debunking his involvement with Epstein.mp3
Baby Killers in Kuwait John MacArthur Four.mp3
Baby Killers in Kuwait ONE intro.mp3
Baby Killers in Kuwait Three maybe last.mp3
Baby Killers in Kuwait Two propaganda.mp3
bashing facebook PBS.mp3
Brad Parscale Frontline-1-Shock and Awe-Playing to the Algos.mp3
Brad Parscale Frontline-2-Was it clear they were ads-comparison to opinion in NYTimes.mp3
Brad Parscale Frontline-3-FB Rule change on showing political ads-FREE ADS.mp3
Brad Parscale Frontline-4-Cambridge Analytica-Staff hire only.mp3
Brad Parscale Frontline-5-Russians 6K only LOL.mp3
Brad Parscale Frontline-6-Dangerous FB tools-FB Can't say they suck.mp3
Carbon higher than ever PBS.mp3
Catch of the day-Stec-NBC News fact check false.mp3
Denmark sending migrants to Lindholm island.mp3
Donna Brazile Smoking Gun ISO.mp3
Donna Brazile speaks about former Trump... by sonofthebronx This Week With George Stephanopoulos-.mp3
douchebag justice department guy retires WTF DN.mp3
DRC-US embassy reopens after ISIS threat-EBOLA-TROOPS.mp3
Dutch court rejects 69yo’s age-change appeal.mp3
Epstein update DN.mp3
eulogizing GHW BUSH PBS ONE.mp3
eulogizing GHW BUSH PBS TWO Dowd whining.mp3
Eulogy -- Brian Mulroony ONe Judy interjects.mp3
Eulogy -- Brian Mulroony TWO.mp3
FARAGE quits UKIP.mp3
FB internal emails and couments made public by British MP-favouritism and logging calls.mp3
flynn off the hook DN.mp3
Foamer Alert-Bush Presidential Train to College Station.mp3
France Yellow Jackets Macron U-turn on carbon fuel tax.mp3
French Gas Tax resolution PBS.mp3
Israel Pipeline deal longest pipe ever-LEVIATHAN.mp3
kelloggs pee local report-LINK to PETA.mp3
les moonves final final CBS.mp3
Lindsey Graham on CIA briefing MBS Khashoggi-NOT involved in 911 WTF.mp3
lindsey graham on MBS and briefing.mp3
Mattis calls for help in ending war in Afghanistan- ‘40 years is enough’.mp3
milleneals prefer communism ONE.mp3
mobsters rounded up in the EU.mp3
NA Jingles - Have Yourself An OTG Christmas 192K.mp3
NPR & BBC can't say it-Macron-'environmental concerns' and suspended taxes.mp3
  • 0:00
    my mind is exploding right now Adam
  • 0:02
  • 0:10
    this is no agenda
  • 0:13
  • 0:22
    curry from northern Silicon Valley where
  • 0:26
    the local Whole Foods as the sale on
  • 0:29
    pepperoncini I'm Justin bour I don't see
  • 0:36
    how you can frequent that establishment
  • 0:38
    anymore knowing how evil Amazon is
  • 0:43
    that's convenient that our sprouts yes
  • 0:47
    yes well there was a lot of news and no
  • 0:52
    news that was very interesting there was
  • 0:54
    no news because it was all about George
  • 0:56
    Herbert Walker Bush blight disagree I
  • 1:00
    think there's a lot of news and not all
  • 1:03
    of it was about George HW whatever
  • 1:06
    although most of it was you're right and
  • 1:08
    I'll say this kind of the same thing I
  • 1:11
    said about John McCain cuz it may look
  • 1:13
    very odd to a lot of people certainly
  • 1:15
    don't live in in the United States of
  • 1:17
    Gitmo nation it's like well this guy was
  • 1:19
    did a lot of bad stuff responsible for a
  • 1:22
    lot of dead people and a lot of horrific
  • 1:25
    events and yeah that's what we do we we
  • 1:29
    recognize that and we still say hey
  • 1:31
    ma'am thanks thanks for being part of
  • 1:34
    the American experience good work we
  • 1:38
    really appreciate it
  • 1:39
    well if you want to go down that road I
  • 1:41
    have the right clips okay because I I
  • 1:44
    feel that deep in our hearts we're like
  • 1:46
    we know it like yeah you know that's who
  • 1:48
    we are it's not like anyone talked about
  • 1:51
    the real legacy of George Herbert Walker
  • 1:53
    Bush well the only man who could not
  • 1:57
    remember where he was the day Kennedy
  • 1:59
    was assassinated so let's start with I
  • 2:03
    have a series of clips where they're
  • 2:05
    quite interesting because of all the all
  • 2:07
    the news outlets everybody's falling all
  • 2:09
    over themselves and I was a great guy
  • 2:11
    and great father and and we got to see
  • 2:15
    George W kind of when I heard I didn't
  • 2:21
    see him with his his eulogy but I heard
  • 2:24
    it and it it sounded like laughter for a
  • 2:26
    moment and of course when you see it you
  • 2:28
    realize it isn't but it was no jarring
  • 2:31
    glows so let's start with and I've got
  • 2:34
    these aptly named baby killers in Kuwait
  • 2:38
    one one intro yes we look back now at a
  • 2:44
    largely forgotten aspect of Bush's war
  • 2:47
    in Iraq those domestic propaganda
  • 2:49
    campaign that occurred in the United
  • 2:51
    States before the invasion began the
  • 2:54
    story centers on
  • 2:56
    young Kuwaiti woman named nyira on
  • 2:58
    October 10th 1990 the fifteen-year-old
  • 3:02
    girl gave riveting testimony before
  • 3:04
    Congress about the horrors inside Kuwait
  • 3:08
    after Iraq invaded women this this was
  • 3:12
    on Judy show not a Judas is democracy
  • 3:17
    democracy no so she actually went back
  • 3:20
    to that during this time of great
  • 3:23
    everybody fell all over themselves
  • 3:25
    except the socialist democracy now they
  • 3:30
    decided why why what differs is why
  • 3:32
    should we be doing that so then they
  • 3:34
    gate did a very nice four-part piece
  • 3:36
    called us so even though it it was
  • 3:41
    completely unamerican what they're doing
  • 3:42
    it's highly appreciated good jobs mr.
  • 3:45
    chairman and members of the committee my
  • 3:47
    name is Nita and I just came out of
  • 3:49
    Kuwait with my five day old nephew
  • 3:52
    traveled across the desert to save
  • 3:54
    safety there is no milk available for
  • 3:57
    the baby weight he barely escaped when
  • 4:00
    their car was stuck in the desert desert
  • 4:01
    sand and help came from Saudi Arabia
  • 4:05
    behind wanted to do something for my
  • 4:07
    country I volunteer volunteered at the
  • 4:12
    Aladeen hospital with 12 other women who
  • 4:15
    wanted to help as well I was the
  • 4:18
    youngest volunteer the other women were
  • 4:20
    from 20 to 30 years old while I was
  • 4:23
    there I saw the Iraqi soldiers coming to
  • 4:25
    the hospital now you're his testimony
  • 4:42
    was rebroadcast across the country and
  • 4:45
    marked a turning point in public opinion
  • 4:47
    on going to war President George HW Bush
  • 4:50
    repeatedly cited her claims they had
  • 4:54
    kids and incubators and they were thrown
  • 4:56
    out of the incubators so the Kuwait
  • 4:58
    could be systematically
  • 5:01
    Mandell three months after nyira
  • 5:03
    testified President George HW Bush
  • 5:06
    launched the invasion of Iraq but it
  • 5:09
    turned out in a yearís claims weren't
  • 5:11
    true no human rights before news outlet
  • 5:15
    could confirm what she said it also
  • 5:17
    turned out in the era was not just any
  • 5:19
    Kuwaiti teenager she was the daughter of
  • 5:22
    the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United
  • 5:24
    States Saud nasir al Sabbagh she had
  • 5:28
    been coached by the public relations
  • 5:30
    firm Hill & Knowlton which was working
  • 5:32
    for the Kuwaiti government my mind is
  • 5:35
    exploding right now when we talked about
  • 5:38
    this at the time of it happening was
  • 5:42
    that we never talked know that the time
  • 5:44
    was happening I'm sorry not the tie was
  • 5:46
    having we talked about it I mean 10
  • 5:48
    years ago 11 years ago we've talked
  • 5:50
    about it a couple of times and people
  • 5:52
    would say you're crazy conspiracy
  • 5:54
    theorist and now it's on democracy now
  • 5:56
    this is fantastic and they're doing it
  • 6:00
    the day when everybody's eulogizing him
  • 6:03
    holy smokes good stuff yes fantastic
  • 6:09
    onward is that the end of clip one yeah
  • 6:13
    that is okay let's go well let's go
  • 6:16
    right to clip 2 then this is disgusting
  • 6:18
    to proper again they brought in this guy
  • 6:19
    Rick John MacArthur and he he has a book
  • 6:25
    out on this whole thing though he has it
  • 6:27
    all documented it's very interesting
  • 6:30
    book but let's do clip 2 we're joined
  • 6:33
    now by the journalists who first
  • 6:34
    revealed my IRA's identity Rick
  • 6:37
    MacArthur the president and publisher of
  • 6:39
    Harper's Magazine the author of the book
  • 6:41
    second front censorship and propaganda
  • 6:43
    in the 1991 Gulf War I mean so you know
  • 6:47
    as we said this is as a turning point