1102: Killer Crickets

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 46m
January 10th, 2019
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Executive Producers: Dame Jennifer of the Gypsy Nation, Sir Tim of the Malacca Straits, David Boda, Brian Holcomb

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Zacchaeus, Anonymous, Doug Proctor, Sir Patrick Comer, Mr Mac & Cheese, Sean Wilke, Sir Scott of Diablo

Cover Artist: Jibs02

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
0:44
Consumer Electronics Show
Woodstock
14:20
Trump's Oval Office Address
Woodstock
21:30
William Arkin Leaves NBC for Encouraging 'The Trump Circus'
Woodstock
35:15
Immigration Quotes from High-Profile Democrats
Woodstock
41:22
Ocasio-Cortez Appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show
Woodstock
1:02:12
AC Predicts Democrats Will Give In to Border Wall
Woodstock
1:05:00
Credits
Woodstock
1:22:48
The Golden Globe Awards
Woodstock
1:27:46
Brexit: The Uncivil War
Woodstock
1:36:28
UK Parliament Limits Government's No-Deal Financial Powers
Woodstock
1:42:52
Opposition Leader Felix Tshisekedi Named Winner in the Democratic Republic of Congo Poll
Woodstock
1:45:03
R. Kelly Sexual Allegations
Woodstock
1:46:59
Second Black Man Died of Drug Overdose in the House of Democratic Donor Ed Buck
Woodstock
1:51:39
Alan Dershowitz Denies Sexual Allegations
Woodstock
1:55:29
Producer Note: Angry Ex-Wells Fargo Employee
Woodstock
1:58:16
Scientists Say Sonic Attack on US Embassy in Havana Could be Crickets
Woodstock
2:04:09
Many Medical Marijuana Users Say They've Driven High
Woodstock
2:07:51
Police Arrest Anthony ‘Doo-Doo Butt’ Ward For Road Rage-Style Shooting
Woodstock
2:08:43
Seattle City Council Members Visit New York to Warn About Amazon
Woodstock
2:11:07
Donations
Woodstock
2:21:24
Birthdays & Title Changes
Woodstock
2:23:32
AC Gets 2019 Survival Package From Sir Gene
Woodstock
2:25:11
France Working On Tougher Laws Against Violent Protesters
Woodstock
2:27:19
Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut
Woodstock
2:28:38
Alabama Civil Rights Institute Rescinds Angela Davis Honor
Woodstock
2:29:42
Untitled
Woodstock
2:30:43
California Governer Newsom Proposes New Healthcare Plan on First Day of Office
Woodstock
2:32:01
210-Foot Fatberg Blocks Sewers of Sidmouth, England
Woodstock
2:34:20
Sharyl Attkisson Repeats Claim Vaccines Can Cause Autism
Woodstock
2:40:02
US Medical Marketing Reaches $30 Billion
Woodstock
2:41:17
End of Show
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VIDEO - Harrison Bergeron 1995 - YouTube
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 13:47
CES
Oops! Autonomous robot struck and killed by a self-driving Tesla in Las Vegas ahead of CES | Daily Mail Online
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 22:17
Oops! Autonomous robot struck and 'killed' by a self-driving Tesla in Las Vegas ahead of CESAccident occurred on Paradise Rd in Las Vegas as engineers transported botsOne of the Promobots stepped out of line and into the roadway, where it was hitTesla Model S was operating autonomously, though a passenger was on board ByCheyenne Macdonald For Dailymail.com In Las Vegas
Published: 16:07 EST, 7 January 2019 | Updated: 16:29 EST, 7 January 2019
Tesla has found itself involved in yet another self-driving car accident '' and this time, its victim was a $2,000-per-day rentable humanoid robot.
In what many are speculating was an over-the-top PR stunt, Promobot revealed one of its model v4 robots was 'killed' by a Tesla Model S on a Las Vegas street ahead of CES.
The accident occurred on Paradise Rd Sunday night as engineers transported the firm's robots to the display booth.
Scroll down for video
In what many are speculating was an over-the-top PR stunt, Promobot revealed one of its model v4 robots was 'killed' by a Tesla Model S on a Las Vegas street ahead of CES
According to Promobot, a number of robots were making their way to the booth around 7 p.m. when one of them stepped out of line and into the parking lot roadway.
As it did, it was struck by a Tesla Model S operating in autonomous mode.
The crash tipped the robot onto its side, causing 'serious damage,' Promobot says.
Now, with parts of its body, head, arm mechanisms, and movement platform destroyed, it cannot be put on display.
The firm says the damage is likely irreparable.
Tesla has found itself the cause of yet another self-driving car accident '' and this time, its victim was a $2,000-per-day rentable humanoid robot. According to Promobot, one of their bots was struck by a Tesla Model S operating in autonomous mode
'Of course we are vexed,' said Oleg Kivokurtsev, Promobot's Development Director.
'We brought this robot here from Philadelphia to participate at CES. Now it neither cannot participate in the event or be recovered.
'We will conduct an internal investigation and find out why the robot went to the roadway.'
The bizarre news now has many people wondering whether the incident was a PR stunt, or simply an unfortunate coincidence.
The Tesla involved in the collision was operating autonomously, though a passenger was inside at the time.
The crash tipped the robot onto its side, causing 'serious damage,' Promobot says. Now, with parts of its body, head, arm mechanisms, and movement platform destroyed, it cannot be put on display. The firm says the damage is likely irreparable
Nevada police showed up not long after.
'There was nobody there, no men, no cars,' said George Caldera, a Tesla passenger.
'I switched this Tesla into a self-driving mode and it started to move. And wow! A robot on the track!
'I thought the flivver would come round, but it bumped straightly into the it! I am so sorry, the robot looks cute. And my sincere apologies to the engineers.'
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Self-Driving Cars Will Always Be Limited. Even the Industry Leader Admits it.
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 12:23
Don't believe me? Listen to the CEO of Waymo.How quickly perceptions can change. It may seem hard to remember now, but a year ago the hype machine was still full steam ahead on self-driving cars and their presumed future dominance of the transportation system. Cars weren't going anywhere, many presumed, but drivers would be liberated as software took over their role, making everyone a passenger.
The fatal Uber crash hadn't happened. People still believed that Tesla's Autopilot system was safe and that Full Self-Driving was on the horizon. There was little question in the reporting on autonomous vehicles that they were safer than human drivers, despite the complete lack of evidence. The tech visionaries had spoken, and as is too often the case, the media fell in line.
However, around the turn of the new year, criticism of the previous optimism was emerging. In January, I was among those pointing to the delayed timelines, growing number of collisions, and the slowing progress in reducing the number of times that human test drivers had to take over from the computers. As the year has played out, critics have been proven right, and a much more inspiring vision for the future of transportation has emerged.
The Decline of the Self-Driving CarWaymo, a division of Alphabet, has long been acknowledged as the leader in autonomous vehicle technology. Based on the limited data that's been released, its vehicles are acknowledged as having driven the most miles in self-driving mode and have the lowest rate of disengagements (when humans have to take over).
Waymo CEO John Krafcik. Source: WaymoHowever, even Waymo's CEO, John Krafcik, now admits that the self-driving car that can drive in any condition, on any road, without ever needing a human to take control'Š'--'Šwhat's usually called a ''level 5'' autonomous vehicle'Š'--'Šwill never exist. At the Wall Street Journal's D.Live conference on November 13, Krafcik said that ''autonomy will always have constraints.'' It will take decades for self-driving cars to become common on roads, and even then they will not be able to drive in certain conditions, at certain times of the year, or in any weather. In short, sensors on autonomous vehicles don't work well in snow or rain'Š'--'Šand that may never change.
It's still surprising to hear such a statement by someone leading a self-driving vehicle company, but given what has happened throughout 2018, it shouldn't be. There were a number of negative stories about self-driving cars through the year, including more deaths of people using Tesla's Autopilot technology, but the effect of an Uber self-driving car killing a woman with her bike in Tempe, Arizona in March cannot be understated. That singular event broke through the largely uncritical mainstream coverage of autonomous vehicles and showed how far the technology really had to go before it would really be safe'Š'--'Šif it ever could be.
The initial event was bad enough: a self-driving car failing to slow down to avoid hitting a person and a safety driver that was too distracted to notice. But as the National Transportation Safety Board investigated the incident, it emerged that the autonomous driving system was unable to identify that the object in front of it was a person, and that when it finally did correctly identify that it had to stop'Š'--'Šjust 1.3 seconds before impact'Š'--'Šit couldn't because emergency braking had been disabled and there was no way to alert the safety driver to the problem. In addition, leaks showed that Uber safety drivers had to intervene every 13 miles (21 km) compared to ever 5,600 miles (9,000 km) on average for Waymo's vehicles, and the team was putting their test vehicles in unsafe situations to try to hit impossible deadlines. It was a complete mess, and eventually blew up Uber's future plans that were, in part, depending on autonomous vehicles to reduce labor costs by displacing human drivers.
Source: Navigant ResearchUber had to completely halt its autonomous vehicle testing, despite already being far behind its competitors. It pulled out of Arizona completely, laid off most of its safety drivers, and only reapplied to resume testing in Pittsburgh at the beginning of November'Š'--'Šalmost eight months after the fatal crash. But between March and November, everything changed. No longer does anyone credibly claim that self-driving cars are the future of transportation, and Uber has even shifted its focus to scooters, e-bikes, and turning its app into the ''Amazon for transportation.''
At the beginning of the year, it would have been unimaginable for the CEO of Waymo to publicly acknowledge that self-driving cars will never work in all conditions. Now, it's a statement of fact that anyone familiar with the industry already knows. But while the hype about self-driving cars is over, there's a new vision for urban transportation that's much more inspiring than letting automobiles continue to dominate our streets'Š'--'Šand everyone wants in.
The Coming Transportation Revolution?A year ago, it seemed like the future of transportation would simply be the present, augmented with a bit more tech, but that no longer seems to be the case. It's not surprising to hear that European cities are improving transit, adding bikes lanes, and taking space away from cars, but that's also becoming more common in American cities.
And why shouldn't it? Yes, cities in the United States are still overwhelmingly dominated by cars, but that doesn't mean they always have to be'Š'--'Šremember, there was a time before the automobile. Millennials drive less than other generations and a recent survey showed that 51 percent of them ''do not believe that owning a car is worth the investment.'' Instead of driving, millennials want better public transit and more options to bike and walk around their cities'Š'--'Šand they're getting them.
Over the past year and a half, dockless e-bikes and scooters'Š'--'Šalso called ''micromobility'''Š'--'Šlanded on the sidewalks of cities around the country. Initially, there was backlash'Š'--'Šthese bikes and scooters were on roads previously reserved for cars, but more importantly they were imposing on the very limited space allotted to pedestrians. However, city governments weren't slow to act like they were when Uber and Lyft rolled out their ride-hailing services.
Local governments have reacted with a range of regulations to cap the number of bikes and scooters, set speed limits and off-limit zones, and some have even started turning some on-street car parking spaces in micromobility parking. Even more importantly, governments have access to bike and scooter trip data, and as more people use them, the pressure to add more bike lanes and improve micromobility infrastructure grows.
In urban planning, there's a concept called induced demand which says that when the supply of a good increases, so will its demand. This is typically applied to roads and explains why even when highways are widened, congestion rarely improves: the additional lanes simply attract more drivers. However, the same is happening with micromobility. As dockless bikes and scooters are added to cities, they're creating demand that didn't previously exist. New cyclists and scooter users then create pressure for better parking and bike lanes, which results in a positive feedback loop by attracting more users, who create more pressure for infrastructure, and on and on. In the past, the feedback loop has benefited drivers, but momentum may finally be shifting to more active forms of mobility.
American cities have been dominated by cars for decades, to the point where it can be difficult for people who grew up in them to imagine anything else. But millennials are demanding a different kind of city and better ways of moving around them than their parents wanted. Young people are more likely to want to live close to the core, not in a far-flung suburb, and they want to take the subway, the bus, or a bike instead of being stuck in their car.
For boomers, the car was a symbol of freedom that allowed them to hit the open road and go wherever they wanted'Š'--'Šbut many of their children don't feel the same. Instead, millennials see cars as an expensive inconvenience; wages are lower, vehicle costs are higher, and they'd rather just get where they're going than having to wait in traffic and circle for ages to find parking. The self-driving car was a reflection of the future imagined by car-loving boomers, but micromobility is the future that millennials want'Š'--'Šand the one that has the best chance of succeeding.
Samsung's new fridge will ping your phone if you leave the door open - The Verge
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 14:11
Samsung's latest smart fridge is more proactive than what you might be used to. The company says it will troubleshoot issues and notify you via the SmartThings app. The new Samsung Family Hub 4.0 refrigerator will give you a smoother interface to use that builds on previous generations' app improvements. You can still head to the grocery store and check if your fridge has milk, just like before. But now, the fridge can also let you know if you've left the door open.
Samsung says it wants to make the fridge into an ''intelligent home assistant'' and less of a simple home appliance. There's a feature called the Personalized Family Board that will let users add and customize their activities and interests. Meanwhile, Samsung also redesigned the home screen of the fridge's display to be more functional and easy to use.
Last year, Samsung added Bixby's full capabilities to its Family Hub smart fridge. This year, it says Bixby has been enhanced, tweaking voice commands to be more conversational and interactive by including more natural language.
Image: Samsung Samsung is also announcing a new smart front load washer that connects to Wi-Fi. There's a super speed mode that's new, which is supposed to wash your clothes faster by extracting more water than previous Samsung machines.
Pricing and availability have yet to be announced for the fridge and washer.
As Samsung designs new smart home appliances every year, the progress between each generation seems incremental but more significant if you add up what's changed within four generations of updates to Bixby and user interface. Bixby still lags behind Alexa and Google Assistant, but at least it's getting smarter.
HAP2U - Touch & Feel what's on your screen
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 22:23
Skip to content Daimler invests in Hap2Uto create the future of haptics
Press Release Hap2U is attending CES 2019 !From January 8th to 11th, meet us at booth #51269
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WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH HAP2U
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Build the Wall
Who is AOC backed by? Hillary's fave kinda girl-tweets not self written
We need an old fashioned False Flag -- One way or the other. It's the American way!
Fact Check: Trump's Emergency Powers And The Border Wall : NPR
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 22:24
President Trump's border wall prototypes are seen from Tijuana in Baja California state, Mexico, on Monday. Trump has said he may invoke emergency powers to build a border wall if Congress doesn't agree to his demand for funding. Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images President Trump's border wall prototypes are seen from Tijuana in Baja California state, Mexico, on Monday. Trump has said he may invoke emergency powers to build a border wall if Congress doesn't agree to his demand for funding.
Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images President Trump has suggested that he might resort to using "emergency" powers to build his border wall if he is not able to reach agreement on funding with congressional Democrats.
"We are looking at it very strongly," Trump told reporters on Sunday. "We're looking at a national emergency, because we have a national emergency."
The president does have broad powers to act in a crisis situation, but those powers are not unlimited. And critics say Trump should be careful about invoking them in this instance.
Here are five facts about Trump's emergency powers and the border wall.
1. What are a president's emergency powers?
There are dozens of laws that give the president special powers to act in an emergency. For example, in an emergency, the president is allowed to divert money to military construction projects, which could conceivably include the border wall.
"Declaring the emergency is pretty easy," said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. "There aren't a lot of legal limits on his ability to do that, frankly, even if there isn't a real emergency happening."
2. What say does Congress have?
In the mid-1970s, Congress passed a law designed to provide some check on the president's power while also preserving flexibility to act in an emergency. The National Emergencies Act requires the president to notify Congress when an emergency is declared and to list the powers that are being invoked. The law requires the administration to provide regular updates to Congress, and allows lawmakers to terminate an emergency if both House and Senate vote to do so.
3. Would congressional critics have a recourse if Trump invoked emergency powers?
Congress could reject the president's emergency declaration with a vote in both the House and Senate. But the Republican-controlled Senate seems unlikely to take that step. Instead, critics would very likely pursue a legal challenge.
"I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, 'Where's the emergency?' " Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told ABC.
Goitein also cautioned that a resort to emergency powers in the current situation '-- in the midst of a standoff with lawmakers that has produced a partial government shutdown '-- could be considered an abuse of the president's power.
"Emergency powers are intended to be used for emergencies, not to settle political disputes or to shortcut the political process," Goitein said.
4. What is the emergency?
The president has described the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border as both a humanitarian and national security crisis.
"We have criminals coming in," Trump said Sunday. "We have human traffickers coming in. We have drugs pouring in. We have things happening that you don't want to even know about."
The administration has also raised the specter of terrorists crossing the border, although many of these claims are overblown.
What has happened on the border in recent months is a surge of Central American families seeking asylum. U.S. law and and court orders make it difficult to quickly deport these families or detain them for an extended period while their asylum claims are adjudicated.
5. Would a wall help?
Trump has insisted since the 2016 campaign that a physical barrier along the U.S. border with Mexico is the solution to what he sees as a crisis.
"Walls work," the president wrote in a letter to lawmakers last week. "That's why rich, powerful, and successful people build them around their homes. All Americans deserve the same protection."
Critics say the president's faith in a wall is misplaced.
"It's a spectacularly bad idea, a complete waste of money," Smith told NPR. "The only emergency we have on the border right now is people seeking asylum. And people seeking asylum are not trying to sneak in. They're turning themselves in and asking for a hearing."
NPR's Tamara Keith contributed to this report.
Broadcast networks deliberating whether to air Trump's prime time immigration address
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 23:36
(C) JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images US President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House. The broadcast networks are deliberating over President Donald Trump's request for airtime to deliver a prime time address on border security, network executives told CNN.
Trump announced in a tweet on Monday that he will deliver his address at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday. In his tweet, the president characterized the situation on the border as a "national security crisis."
Four hours later, none of the major networks had announced whether they would air the address. Network newsrooms were abuzz with speculation about what the broadcasters would decide.
Presidents have been using Oval Offices addresses on broadcast networks to make big announcements for decades. But the networks sometimes resist requests for air time for a variety of reasons, including the perceived urgency of the subject and the popularity of the shows that would be interrupted.
With Trump, there are other factors to consider, including his record of deception and his tendency to ramble off script in long speeches.
Many Trump critics posted messages on social media urging the networks not to air an address that could be filled with falsehoods. Some said that a prominent Democrat should be given equal time. It is unclear if any sort of Democratic rebuttal is in the works.
Spokespeople for ABC, CBS, NBC, the Fox broadcast network, and PBS either declined to comment or said they would comment at a later time.
One of the TV executives who spoke to CNN Business confirmed that the White House had requested time for the speech, as is customary in the relationship between a president and the press.
"Time has been requested for 9 p.m. Networks are deliberating," the network executive said.
Trump is almost certain to go ahead with the address regardless of what the broadcast networks do.
Spokespeople for CNN and Fox News said their networks would air the address. A spokesman for MSNBC said the channel's coverage plans were "still being discussed." It would be highly unusual for the cable news networks not to air a presidential prime time address.
There is precedent, however, for broadcast networks declining to air a presidential speech. In 2014, ABC, NBC, and CBS declined to carry an address delivered by President Barack Obama on immigration, though Obama's White House never formally requested time after it was determined networks would be reluctant to agree to broadcast it.
Trump's Monday request for networks to air his speech touched on a number of debates that have been raging in journalism since his ascension to the Oval Office. Among them: Should his fact-free speeches be aired live? What kind of fact-checking methods should networks employ?
There has been a recent debate in journalism circles about whether networks should air Trump's words in real-time. Several media critics, for instance, told CNN last week that networks should not rush to air Trump's remarks made during pool sprays and briefings, given how much misinformation he spreads.
"Some advice -- demand to see the text in advance and if it is not truthful either don't air it or fact check it live on lower third," tweeted Joe Lockhart, the former White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton. "And cut away if he goes off text and starts lying."
Classy Lady: Stormy Daniels Offers Some 'Counterprogramming' During Trump Speech | Daily Wire
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 09:59
While Americans who actually care about the issues down at the southern border are tuning in to see President Trump's address on prime time Tuesday night, porn star Stormy Daniels will be folding laundry in her underwear on Instagram live.
"If you're looking for anything even remotely worth watching tonight at 9pm EST, I will be folding laundry in my underwear for 8 minutes on Instagram live," Daniels said on Twitter while linking to her Instagram account.
If you're looking for anything even remotely worth watching tonight at 9pm EST, I will be folding laundry in my underwear for 8 minutes on Instagram live. https://t.co/GhMowscZMP
'-- Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) January 8, 2019What's especially odd about this announcement from Stormy is that it comes on the heels of her alleging that President Trump "ruined" her career. If that truly is the case, then why would she in any way deliberately attempt to associate her "work" with the man?
Whether or not Stormy Daniels actually plans to do laundry in her underwear to distract horny creeps during President Trump's address about border security remains to be seen. Should this laundry folding take place, it will be Stormy's sad attempt to join her fellow Trump haters in the campaign to keep Americans from watching what the president actually has to say.
Over at NBC, late-night host Seth Meyers went as far as to persuade the networks into completely blackballing the president's speech.
"First of all, just because Trump wants to address the nation doesn't mean networks should air it," said Meyers. "Otherwise, they're just passing on his lies unfiltered. They should either reject him outright, or, if he insists on speaking in prime time, make him do it as a contestant on 'The Masked Singer.'"
"It is a disservice to the American people to broadcast, without context or real-time fact-checking, someone who is using the airwaves for the sole purpose of lying to the American people about an overtly racist agenda," wrote USA Today columnist Kurt Bardella.
CNN's Don Lemon said that unless a live fact-checking is actually taking place during the address, then the networks will be complicit in promoting propaganda.
"The President will say what he has to say," Lemon said. "People will believe it whether the facts are true or not. I guess that's the chance you take with any president ... But this one is different. And then by the time the rebuttals come on, we've already promoted propaganda possibly, unless he gets up there and tells the truth."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer both demanded equal air time for a rebuttal in a joint statement. "Now that the television networks have decided to air the President's address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime," they said. "The facts are clear: President Trump has the power to stop hurting the country by re-opening the government and ending the Trump Shutdown."
Cher demands Pelosi end partial government shutdown, fund border wall: 'DON'T DIE ON THIS HILL' | Fox News
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:52
Liberal music superstar Cher is holding congressional Democrats' feet to the fire amid the ongoing partial government shutdown.
It came after President Trump delivered a prime-time address from the Oval Office on Tuesday night making the case for funding the border wall, which was followed by a response from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who argued that the president must reopen the government in order to continue conversations about border security.
Cher then took to Twitter to blast the president for promising that Mexico would pay for the wall and demanded him to end the government shutdown.
TRUMP PREPARES TO VISIT BORDER WALL AFTER CONTENTIOUS WHITE HOUSE MEETING
On Wednesday, however, she called out Pelosi.
''NANCY YOU ARE A HERO. LET (Trump) HAVE HIS FKNG MONEY. PPL WILL STARVE LOSE THEIR HOMES, B UNABLE 2 C DRS.''
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Cher then demanded Democrats to ''stop'' the shutdown before Trump does.
''HELL B HERO... HE'LL EAT UR LUNCH & STEAL UR LUNCH YOU'LL B FKD 6 WAYS 2 SUNDAY.DONT DIE ON THIS HILL. HE STOPS AT NOTHING.''
DEW
'Sonic attack' on US embassy in Havana could have been crickets, say scientists | World news | The Guardian
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 05:50
Noise which saw diplomats complaining of headaches and nausea could be song of Indies short-tailed cricket
The US embassy in Havana. It more than halved its staff in 2017 after diplomats complained about a mysterious noise.Photograph: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty ImagesThe US embassy in Havana more than halved its staff in 2017 when diplomats complained of headaches, nausea and other ailments after hearing penetrating noises in their homes and nearby hotels.
The mysterious wave of illness fuelled speculation that the staff had been targeted by an acoustic weapon. It was an explanation that appeared to gain weight when an audio recording of a persistent, high-pitched drone made by US personnel in Cuba was released to the Associated Press.
But a fresh analysis of the audio recording has revealed what scientists in the UK and the US now believe is the true source of the piercing din: it is the song of the Indies short-tailed cricket, known formally as Anurogryllus celerinictus.
''The recording is definitively a cricket that belongs to the same group,'' said Fernando Montealegre-Zapata, a professor of sensory biology at the University of Lincoln. ''The call of this Caribbean species is about 7 kHz, and is delivered at an unusually high rate, which gives humans the sensation of a continuous sharp trill.''
As a child growing up in South America, Montealegre-Zapata recalls collecting crickets of a similar species and keeping them in cages in his room. One night he woke to a penetrating sharp sound. The culprit was one of the males calling out for mates. The offender was banned from the room but Montealegre-Zapata could still hear the cricket singing for females.
''I am not surprised that this call could disturb people who are not familiar with insect sounds,'' he said.
The identification of the sound source does not mean that an attack of some sort did not happen, but it casts doubt over the sound being responsible for the diplomats' health problems. The cause and nature of their illnesses remains unclear.
The spate of unexplained health problems among the US diplomats led doctors at the University of Pennsylvania to run tests on almost two dozen embassy staff. In March last year, the team concluded the diplomats had suffered concussion-like injuries, but other medical professionals have challenged the conclusions, claiming the doctors misinterpreted the test results.
Not all of the affected diplomats reported unusual sounds when they fell ill, and descriptions of any noises differed from person to person. Some recalled grinding or cicada-like sounds, while others experienced buffeting like that caused by an open car window.
In the new study, Montealegre-Zapata and Alexander Stubbs at the University of California searched a scientific database for insect sounds that matched the Cuban recording. The call of the Indies short-tailed cricket turned out to be remarkably similar, they found, with acoustic pulses repeated at the same rate, and specific frequencies being louder than others.
But the cricket's mating call and the Cuban recording did not match up perfectly. The sound recorded in Havana had an uneven pulse structure which is not seen in calling insects.
Stubbs and Montealegre-Zapata realised that the discrepancy might be down to the environments in which the recordings were made. Scientists tend to record insect calls outside in the wild, while the diplomats complained of unpleasant sounds indoors. If the Cuban recording had been made in a room, the odd pulse structure might be explained by echoes off the walls, floor and ceiling.
The researchers tested the idea by playing the call of the Indies short-tailed cricket in a room through a single loudspeaker. Recordings from the room show that the sound gained the same uneven pulse structure seen in the Cuban recording. The two sounds matched even more closely.
Gerald Pollack, who studies how animals detect and discriminate sensory signals at McGill University in Montreal, said: ''The paper shows how the cricket's song could, when echoes to be expected in an indoor setting are taken into account, produce sounds strikingly, and quantitatively, similar to that provided by the AP. I find this a completely plausible explanation.''
He added that while he had no personal experience with the Indies short-tailed cricket, he had not heard of their calls ever having caused harm. ''So far as I am aware,'' he said, ''except perhaps for an occasional sleepless night, no-one has suffered ill health as a result of cricket calls.''
The Cuban Cricket Crisis Hits US Diplomats
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 14:42
They were sure that the Cubans, aided by the Russians, used sophisticated technology to attack the brains and nervous systems of US diplomats'... until it turned out to be crickets.
The New York Times now reveals that scientists have solved a two-year-old mystery that provoked a major diplomatic scandal and led to a complete turnaround in US-Cuba relations. The mystery concerned the health of American staff at the US Embassy in Havana. US diplomats and the media called it a ''sonic attack.'' They were convinced that it was a pernicious example of ''sharp power,'' a term we covered in yesterday's edition of The Daily Devil's Dictionary. Some suspected the Russians and then the Chinese of providing the Cubans with the technology capable of attacking people's brains while leaving no traces or clues about its origin.
The story broke in November 2016, when American diplomats in Havana ''complained of persistent, high-pitched sounds followed by a range of symptoms, including headaches, nausea and hearing loss.'' After two years of expensive investigation by both American and Cuban teams seeking what everyone was certain to be a technological cause, scientists have now identified the true source of the sound, audible on the recordings: a Caribbean cricket.
Here is today's 3D definition:
Cricket:
1. An insect
2. A team sport invented in England, played with a ball, a bat and a wicket, which is still popular in its former colonies but considered a British eccentricity in the rest of the world
3. Another way of describing something that reflects fair play, as in the expression: ''That isn't cricket''
4. An instrument of torture imagined by American diplomats in Cuba
Contextual noteThe media wasted no time amplifying the story of a deliberate sonic assault. ''Amid an international uproar, a recording of the sinister droning was widely circulated in the news media,'' The New York Times reports. Recently, when speculation about criminal intent was still rife, The New Yorker came back to the story, reminding readers that: ''All the victims described being bombarded by waves of pressure in their heads.''
The choice of the word ''bombarded'' may not be innocent. Though the medical experts who investigated the symptoms found no evidence of physical effects, the media were eager to develop the story as a modern version of Cold War lore, where the fear of bombardment was permanent. Senator Marco Rubio, who had opposed Barack Obama's policy of reopening relations with Cuba, was certain the Cubans were to blame.
In September 2018, NBC News announced that US intelligence agencies had strong evidence leading them to ''suspect Russia.'' MSNBC's Ken Dilanian, affirming ''this was an intentional attack,'' accused the Russians of using ''some kind of microwave that is so sophisticated the Americans don't fully understand it.'' One former Trump administration official outlined the reasoning: ''Who else has secret weapons programs? Who else has the ability to conduct an operation like this? It fits their pattern, their style.'' Political scientist Joseph Nye might be tempted to agree that this was an enemy sharp power operation.
Historical noteEven with the knowledge that it wasn't the butler but the crickets who did it, experts are still left wondering about the political dimension of an incident with such serious diplomatic impact. The Obama administration had boldly reengaged with Cuba after decades of an ideologically motivated embargo. But that has ground to a halt under the Trump administration. The New Yorker article mentions that ''in Cuba and in the U.S., the advocates of diplomatic opening are no longer in office.''
In June 2018, the ''Havana Syndrome'' encouraged some to complain of a similar problem at the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China. The New York Times observed that ''it remains unclear whether the illnesses are the result of attacks at all. Other theories have included toxins, listening devices that accidentally emitted harmful sounds or even mass hysteria.'' Could the whole thing be explained by a return to the McCarthy-era hysteria of an anti-American conspiracy?
The scientists who have identified the crickets do not claim that there could not have been another cause of the physical effects, but considering their findings and the fact that not a whit of evidence has been found for a technological source, the thesis of mass hysteria should not be discounted. The character of this mass hysteria '-- if that's what it is '-- is consistent with what we can observe every day in US media, for whom Vladimir Putin's Russia has replaced the Soviet Union. It may also be related to the emerging obsession with sharp power.
When Donald Trump promised to make America great again, everyone assumed that he was referring to the culture, politics and business ambiance of the 1950s, that period of an expanding Cold War economy under a Republican president, sandwiched between World War II and the humiliation of the Vietnam War. Subversive evil always originated in communist Russian, the communist empire adept at infecting the minds and brains of otherwise well-meaning Americans, waiting to be smoked out by Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Once Trump was elected in 2016, the Democrats themselves and their media have been striving to bring back the ''greatness'' of the 1950s by reestablishing Russia as the villain who had stolen an election that was rightfully theirs. And, of course, the Russia-Cuba connection was the major theme of the period, culminating in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
With the Havana Syndrome, we had all the elements that could contribute to a Cold War style hysteria'... until now, when the narrative has been rudely interrupted by the chirping of crickets.
*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil's Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer's editorial policy.
DRC
E‰tienne Tshisekedi Biography, Age, Family, Wife, Children, Early life and education, Career and News - Informationcradle
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 04:43
‰tienne Tshisekedi Biography‰tienne Tshisekedi was born on 14 December 1932, died on 1 February 2017 was a Congolese politician and the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the main opposing political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A long-time opposition leader, he served as Prime Minister of the country (then called Zaire) on three brief occasions: in 1991, 1992-1993, and 1997. Tshisekedi was the main Congolese opposition leader for decades.Although he served in the government of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in various positions, he also led the campaign against Mobutu, and was one of few politicians who challenged the dictator.
Tshisekedi and his UDPS party, boycotted the 2006 elections organized in Congo on claims that elections were fraudulent and were systematically rigged in advance.
He was a candidate for President of Congo in the 2011 elections that many national and international observers, notably the Carter Center, have said lacked credibility and transparency. Having officially lost to incumbent Joseph Kabila, Tshisekedi nevertheless declared himself the ''elected president'' of Congo. Policemen and Kabila's presidential guards were subsequently stationed at every corner that gives entrance to Tshisekedi's residence, placing him under unofficial house arrest.
‰tienne Tshisekedi Age‰tienne Tshisekedi was born on 14 December 1932, He died on 1 February 2017 at the age of 85.
‰tienne Tshisekedi FamilyIn 1932, ‰tienne Tshisekedi, son of Alexis Mulumba and his wife Agn¨s Kabena, was born in Luluabourg, Belgian Congo , Kasai-Occidental, Democratic Republic of the Congo). Ethnically, he was a member of the Luba people
‰tienne Tshisekedi WifeMarthe Kasalu Jibikila is the wife of ‰tienne Tshisekedi
‰tienne Tshisekedi ChildrenF(C)lix Tshisekedi is the only son of ‰tienne Tshisekedi
‰tienne Tshisekedi Early life and education
In 1932, ‰tienne Tshisekedi, son of Alexis Mulumba and his wife Agn¨s Kabena, was born in Luluabourg, Belgian Congo (now called Kananga, Kasai-Occidental, Democratic Republic of the Congo). Ethnically, he was a member of the Luba people. Tshisekedi attended primary school at Kabaluanda (West Kasai) and obtained a doctorate diploma in 1961 at the Lovanium University School of Law in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa); he was the first Congolese to ever get a doctorate diploma in law.
‰tienne Tshisekedi Political CareerTshisekedi's career was intertwined with the political history of his country; Congo won independence in 1960 from Belgium.
1960 to 2001
Advisor to Patrice Lumumba of the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC), Tshisekedi left the MNC to follow Albert Kalonji on his secessionist adventure in Kasai, acting as Minister of Justice in the newly autonomous State of South Kasai.[citation needed]
On 3 January 1961 President Joseph Kasa-Vubu appointed Tshisekedi Director General of the National School of Law and Administration.
In November 1965, Tshisekedi took part in the second Mobutu coup which led to the dismissal of President Kasavubu and his prime minister Kimba. Tshisekedi approved the execution of Kimba and his companions on the day of Pentecost, 2 June 1966.
He was a high-ranking member of the various governments formed by dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was president from 1965 to 1997. Tshisekedi helped amend the Congolese Constitution in 1967. After the second coup of Mobutu, in 1965, Tshisekedi held ministerial positions.[citation needed] As such, Tshisekedi was instrumental in managing the country, allegedly based on the misappropriation of public funds and neutralization of all opposition.[citation needed] Tshisekedi remained in the Central Committee of the Popular Movement of the Revolution (Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution, MPR) until the early 1980s.
Tshisekedi with founding members of the UDPS, from left to right: Fr(C)d(C)ric Kibassa Maliba, Tshisekedi, Vincent Mbwakiem, and Marcel LihauRelations with Mobutu ruptured around 1980, and Tshisekedi was removed from Mobutu's government.
At that time, Tshisekedi formed the country's first opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), to counter the ruling MPR. Tshisekedi thus became the main voice for opponents of the dictatorship, in the country that was then called Zaire. That status enabled him to mobilize public opinion and the international community, and he continued advocating for change during Mobutu's tenure. In 1980, Tshisekedi was thrown in prison for criticism of Mobutu's repressive regime; he was imprisoned numerous times by Mobutu's government.
In 1989, during Mobutu's rule, several cases of his detention were described as unlawful by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
On 15 February 1982, Tshisekedi co-founded the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS). The party remains popular in Congo's capital Kinshasa, the two Kasai and Bas-Congo provinces as well as other provinces, with its main goal being a non-violent change to democratic rule.
According to Kapinga (Vice-President of the MPR), Mobutu kept a number of Congolese tribes happy through the ''sharing of money'' with the tribes' power brokers.[citation needed] Under Mobutu's regime, Aponet Potia (Secretary General of the MPR) tried delivering money to Tshisekedi in the middle of the night, but Tshisekedi refused it. Mobutu tried and failed on several occasions to persuade Tshisekedi to take the money.[citation needed]
With the country in economic turmoil in the early 1990s, partly due to Mobutu's loss of Western support after the Cold War, Mobutu bowed to pressure and promised a transition to multiparty democracy. Tshisekedi, who was Mobutu's most determined and popular rival, became Prime Minister on three separate occasions. The first lasted only one month (29 September 1991 '' 1 November 1991) before Mobutu sacked him, and the second only seven months (15 August 1992 '' 18 March 1993).
Both times, Tshisekedi asserted that he was prevented from functioning properly by Mobutu. The third term, while Laurent-D(C)sir(C) Kabila's rebel forces were marching on Kinshasa, lasted only a week (2 April 1997 '' 9 April 1997) and was again ended by Mobutu's lack of cooperation. A month later Laurent Kabila overthrew Mobutu, in connection with the First Congo War.
Laurent Kabila ruled by decree and banned party politics until general elections planned for 1999. In 1998, a constitutional committee drew up a list of 250 people who would not be allowed to run for President, including Tshisekedi. He was sent into internal exile in February 1998, after he was accused of violating the ban on party politics.
President Laurent Kabila was assassinated in 2001, and was succeeded ten days later by his son, Joseph Kabila. Tshisekedi refused to enter the government of Joseph Kabila, or the previous government of his father, and likened them to Mobutu.
2005''2006 elections
See also: Democratic Republic of the Congo general election, 2006In the run-up to the 2006 national elections, Tshisekedi decided to boycott the electoral process and the constitutional referendum because he believed they were rigged in advance.
Joseph Kabila won the presidential election. Tshisekedi considered the elections of 2006 to be a ''masquerade'' and claimed that Kabila's election was decided in advance by influential people outside Congo. Kabila defeated Jean-Pierre Bemba, with Tshisekedi on the sidelines.
2011 elections
At a UDPS meeting in April 2009, the party indicated that it would participate in the 2011 election, and asked that Tshisekedi be their presidential candidate. He officially confirmed his candidacy in December 2010 at a congress of his party in Kinshasa, which was the first official party congress since the party formed in 1982.
‰tienne Tshisekedi campaign signIn August 2011, Tshisekedi sought to negotiate with other opposition parties to form a joint effort against incumbent Joseph Kabila. This is Tshisekedi's first bid for the presidency since forming the country's first opposition party in 1982. Candidates campaigned relatively freely, and Tshisekedi held large rallies. But neither candidate was prepared to admit defeat.
Tshisekedi pointed not only to lack of democracy, but also lack of water and electricity, as reasons to elect him.He said that a vote for him would be a vote for a 30-year fight to uphold the rule of law and good governance in Congo. Tshisekedi was supported by about 80 political parties, but he had adversaries within the opposition, such as Vital Kamerhe, Nzanga Mobutu (son of the former dictator), and Senate president Kengo Wa Dondo. Tshisekedi said that none of them had been in the opposition long enough to be credible.
This time around, Bemba (the 2006 presidential candidate) was sidelined, on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for alleged war crimes in 2002''2003. The election was held on 28 November 2011.
Many national and international observers, notably the Carter Center, said the election was marred with serious irregularities and lacked credibility and transparency. Tshisekedi rejected the results announced by the CENI, the body responsible for the organization of elections, saying that they did not reflect the will of the people, and declared himself the ''elected president'' of Congo. Tshisekedi held a private inauguration ceremony after police used tear gas to disperse a public inauguration.
Vital Kamerhe, a former ally of President Kabila, rejected the results announced by the CENI and said that Tshisekedi had actually won the election.Several other opposition candidates recognized Tshisekedi as the victor, and called for the election to be annulled.
In addition to the Carter Center, an observer mission from the European Union noted lack of transparency, and the archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya claimed that the results announced by the CENI did not reflect the will of the people. These and other observations compromised the integrity of the presidential election, according to the Carter Center. MONUSCO, the peacekeeping mission of the United Nations, also voiced concern about the results.
The election result was confirmed by the Supreme Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo.[citation needed] A day after holding a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs on governance in the DRC, Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) of the United States Senate expressed deep concern about the ruling of the Congolese Supreme Court. Then, on 20 December 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed serious disappointment with the Congolese supreme court decision.
Tshisekedi urged the armed forces to disobey Kabila, and added that he would offer a ''great prize'' to anyone who captured President Joseph Kabila.
‰tienne Tshisekedi Post-2011 electionTshisekedi's party headquarters was burglarized after his inauguration. Tshisekedi was said to be under house arrest.
The rebel March 23 Movement, which captured the city of Goma in November 2012, listed the release of Tshisekedi as one of their demands and claimed to be willing to leave the provincial capital of North Kivu if he was granted freedom of movement, among other things.
Amidst rumors of serious health problems, Tshisekedi was flown to Belgium for treatment on 16 August 2014. Responding to the rumors about his condition, his party said that he was not seriously ill. On 9 January 2016, Tshisekedi, who was still in Brussels and apparently still ill, released a video message in which he vowed that he would ''soon be among you so we can unite our efforts to win''. Observers noted that the opposition leader seemed ''frail'' and had trouble speaking.
He finally returned to Congo on 27 July 2016 and was greeted by a massive crowd of supporters upon arrival at the airport in Kinshasa. At a massive rally in Kinshasa on 31 July, Tshisekedi demanded that elections proceed on schedule before the end of 2016, contrary to suggestions from the authorities that a delay might be necessary, allowing Kabila to remain in office.
On 24 January 2017, Tshisekedi left the DRC to travel to Belgium for medical treatment. The 84-year-old died a week later on 1 February in Brussels.
‰tienne Tshisekedi Photo‰tienne Tshisekedi Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/'.../President-Etienne-Tshisekedi-wa-Mulumba-22048541137...
‰tienne Tshisekedi NewsDR Congo's main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, dies in Brussels aged 84
Democratic Republic of Congo's main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, one of the country's most important advocates of democracy, has died in Brussels aged 84, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.Tshisekedi stood up to Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled the country then known as Zaire, for decades before being overthrown by Rwanda, Uganda and other forces. He was also the main civilian opponent of Laurent Kabila, who took power in 1997, and his son, President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled since 2001.
As such, he was a pivotal figure in Congo, whose history has been marked by foreign intervention, civil war, coups and authoritarian rule. His stalwart activism meant he could draw huge crowds.
His death comes at another inflection point in the country's history following Joseph Kabila's failure to step down when his constitutional mandate expired in December.
Dozens have died since 2015 in anti-government protests over alleged efforts by Kabila to cling to power and international powers fear tensions could spark a resurgence of civil wars that lead to the deaths of millions between 1996 and 2003.
Tshisekedi was set to take the top post in a transitional council agreed in December under a deal to pave the way for Kabila to leave power in 2017 and refrain from running for a third term as president.
His death deprives the opposition of its principal figurehead as talks over implementation of the December accord falter. His son, Felix, is tipped to be named prime minister in a forthcoming power-sharing government.
The death of Etienne #Tshisekedi today marks the end of an era in the DRC politics. Condolences 2 his family #RIP
Tshisekedi served as a minister under Mobutu before helping found the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party (UDPS), the first organized opposition platform in Zaire, in 1982.
He was named prime minister four times in the 1990s as Mobutu contended with pro-democratic currents in the country, but Tshisekedi never lasted more than a few months as he repeatedly clashed with the charismatic autocrat.
He finished runner-up to Kabila in the 2011 presidential election. International observers said the vote was marred by fraud and Tshisekedi's supporters have referred to him ever since as the ''elected president''.
Tshisekedi returned to Congo's capital, Kinshasa, last July to a hero's welcome after two years in Brussels for medical treatment. The UDPS said he returned there last week for a check up. A UDPS spokesman declined to comment on Wednesday.
Like father, like son: Who is Felix Tshisekedi, and can he keep Congo's opposition together? | Africa | Daily Maverick
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 04:39
By Simon AllisonAfter veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi's death, his son Felix is set to take over from where his father left off. But is the family name enough to sustain his leadership bid? By SIMON ALLISON.
As 2016 slid into 2017, things weren't going well, exactly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but they weren't going as badly as they might have, either. The bloodbath that some analysts had expected on December 19 '' when President Joseph Kabila's term officially expired '' never materialised, and the government and opposition had reached a landmark deal to hold new elections by the end of this year. In addition, the main opposition coalition had agreed to participate in a transitional government until those elections took place, with Kabila remaining president and veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi slated for prime minister.
And then, on a cold Wednesday in Brussels on February 1, the 84-year-old Tshisekedi died. Death is rarely convenient, but his timing was exceptionally poor. Suddenly, just when the DRC seemed to have found some answers, there were more difficult questions: Who would succeed Tshisekedi as party leader? Can the ''Rassemblement'' opposition coalition hold in his absence? Is the deal with Kabila still valid, and who will be prime minister?
After weeks of wrangling, it was announced at the end of last week that Tshisekedi's son Felix Tshisekedi would take over from his father as leader of both party and coalition, and probably as prime minister-designate too.
There is a neat symmetry to Tshisekedi junior's accession, echoing as it does the manner in which President Kabila slipped into Laurent Kabila's shoes upon the assassination of Kabila p¨re in 2001. But it's also hard to escape the conclusion that even the country's opposition is focused more on creating dynasties than true democratic contestation.
Felix Tshisekedi is a newcomer to the political scene. Although elected as a member of parliament in 2011, he never served, heeding his father's call to boycott the legislature in the wake of a disputed vote. Prior to that, he spent some time working in Belgium, where he studied marketing.
The 53-year-old's breakthrough into popular consciousness came last year, when a video of him arguing with a soldier at a protest went viral. But he still remains a relative unknown. ''He's a question mark. I don't know if he has what it takes to be a transformative leader, or if people will ever see him that way,'' said Tshene Wedi, a political analyst. At this stage, it is difficult to know whether he offers anything more than the family name. Other major opposition figures, such as former Katanga governor Moise Katumbi, now in exile, may sense a chance to increase their own share of the vote.
The significance of that family name cannot be dismissed out of hand, however. ''The name recognition is huge across the DRC. It provides continuity for the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), and may help to unify supporters. Of course, on the other hand, there are other people in the party that have more experience when it comes to actually running a party and balancing difficult political issues,'' said Stephanie Wolters, head of the peace and security research programme at the Institute for Security Studies.
His appointment, as leader of both the UDPS and the Rassemblement coalition, was not without controversy. UDPS deputy secretary-general Bruno Tshibala was dismissed after contesting the decision, while at least three coalition parties have indicated their discomfort with their new figurehead. ''Where else in the world would someone be put in charge of such an important process... who has only been in the opposition for seven months?'' asked coalition member Bruno Tshibala , speaking to the BBC.
Tshisekedi will have to get to grips with his new role very quickly. The first immediate challenge is what to do about the return of his father's body, which is currently being kept on ice in a morgue in Belgium. The late politician's family and the government cannot agree on where and how to bury him, with the government nervous that his funeral may turn into a threatening anti-government protest.
The second challenge is to restart negotiations with the government over exactly how and when to begin the new transitional authority; and, perhaps most important, who gets to choose the new prime minister. The Rassemblement coalition wants to submit just one candidate for the position, while President Kabila wants a shortlist from which he can make the final choice. Either way, Felix Tshisekedi's name is now sure to be among the frontrunners '' even if he doesn't appear to have the necessary experience in governance.
Said Wolters: ''I think that would be a really bad move. It's one thing to convince a whole bunch of squabbling opposition parties that having a Tshisekedi run the opposition means continuity, it's quite another for Felix to have to wrangle a whole cabinet with no political experience. I think there are other people in the opposition who are technocratically savvy.''
Above all, however, Tshisekedi junior will be judged by whether he can keep his fragile coalition together and run a successful bid, if and when the long-delayed presidential election is finally held. That, at least, is what it will take for him to emerge from his father's shadow. DM
Photo: Felix Tshisekedi (L) talks to an unidentified visitor as he mourns the death of his father and veteran Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, in the courtyard of his residence in the Limete Municipality of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Robert Carrubba
Felix Tshisekedi: Opposition leader named winner in DR Congo poll - BBC News
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 04:35
Image copyright EPA Image caption Felix Tshisekedi's supporters earlier rallied outside his party headquarters in Kinshasa ahead of the result Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi has won the Democratic Republic of Congo's tightly contested presidential vote, the electoral commission says.
Provisional results put him ahead of another opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, and the ruling coalition's Emmanuel Shadary.
If confirmed, Mr Tshisekedi will be the first opposition challenger to win since the DR Congo gained independence.
Current President Joseph Kabila is stepping down after 18 years in office.
He had promised DR Congo's first orderly transfer of power since the country's independence from Belgium in 1960.
The election outcome was initially expected to be announced on Sunday. The interim result can still be challenged.
In the early hours of Thursday the head of DR Congo's National Electoral Commission (Ceni), Corneille Nangaa, said Mr Tshisekedi had received 38.5% of the vote and had been "provisionally declared the elected president".
The full results were, with turnout reportedly 48%:
Felix Tshisekedi - 7 million votesMartin Fayulu - 6.4 million votes Emmanuel Shadary - 4.4 million votesMr Fayulu, a former oil tycoon, dismissed the results as "a true electoral coup", telling Radio France Internationale they had "nothing to do with the truth of the ballot box".
Mr Tshisekedi, who is the son of late veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, has promised to make the fight against poverty his priority.
How will Congolese citizens react? Analysis by Louise Dewast, BBC News, in Kinshasa
This is a historic moment for Mr Tshisekedi's party, the UDPS, who have tried unsuccessfully to win power for decades.
But in recent days, rumours of a deal between Mr Tshisekedi and Mr Kabila have raised concerns among other members of the opposition. Mr Tshisekedi himself has acknowledged talks with the ruling party to prepare a transition of power.
Candidates can appeal results if they wish and the final decision will be announced by the constitutional court.
The big question now is how the country will react. There are serious concerns of unrest if people conclude that results have lacked in credibility.
The Catholic Church, who had the largest number of election observers deployed, has warned they will reject any results they believe to be fraudulent.
On Wednesday, anti-riot police were deployed in the capital, Kinshasa, amid fears that a disputed result could trigger violence.
Polling at the end of last month was marred by allegations of vote-rigging. The influential Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 observers during the vote and has been monitoring the polls, warned that there had been irregularities.
The leaders of Zambia and South Africa urged officials to release the tally quickly to avoid growing suspicion around the poll, which has been marred by allegations of fraud.
Why DR Congo matters:
On Tuesday, Mr Fayulu warned election officials not to "disguise the truth" as tensions continued to mount over the delayed result.
After the 30 December vote, internet and text-messaging services were shut down nationwide in a move that the government said was necessary to guard against the spread of unofficial results.
What's the background?Mr Kabila took over from his assassinated father Laurent in 2001. He was elected in 2006, and secured another term in controversial elections in 2011.
He was barred from running for another term under the constitution, and was supposed to step down two years ago, but the election was postponed after the electoral commission said it needed more time to register voters.
F(C)lix Tshisekedi - Wikipedia
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 04:32
F(C)lix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo[1] (born 13 June 1963 in L(C)opoldville)[2] is the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, the oldest and largest opposition party of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[3] As of January 9, 2019, he is the President-elect of the DRC.[4]
Early life and education [ edit ] F(C)lix Tshisekedi was born in Kinshasa on 13 June 1963 from his mother Marthe and his father ‰tienne Tshisekedi. His father is of Luba ethnicity.[5] F(C)lix had a comfortable life as a youth in the capital. When his father created the UDPS in the early 1980's, publicly opposing Mobutu, F(C)lix was forced to accompany his dissident father into house arrest in his native village in central Kasa¯. This led to him ending his studies. In 1985, Mobutu authorised him, his mother and his brothers to leave Kasa¯. He went on to live in Brussels, Belgium, where he worked at odd jobs, enjoyed the night life and became an active UDPS militant.[2]
Political career [ edit ] Late 2008, he was named as the UDPS National secretary for external relations.[6]
In November 2011, he obtained a seat in the National Assembly, representing the city of Mbuji Mayi in Kasai-Oriental province. However, he did not take up his seat, claiming[7] pas question de si(C)ger au sein des institutions issues des (C)lections frauduleuses >>[8] His mandate was soon invalidated for "absenteism".[6]
In May 2013, he refused a position of rapporteur at the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), saying: Je ne tiens pas mettre ma carri¨re politique entre parenth¨ses >>[9] The CENI's article 17 excludes membership for those who are members of a political formation.[6]
In October 2016, Tshisekedi became vice secretary general of the UDPS.[6]
On 31 March 2018, he was elected to lead the UDPS, after the death of his father, predecessor and founder of the party, ‰tienne Tshisekedi, on 1 February 2017.[10]
Also on 31 March 2018, F(C)lix Tshisekedi was chosen by his party to be the UDPS presidential candidate in the general election that took place on 30 December 2018.[1]
On January 9, 2019, it was announced Tshisekedi had been elected President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[11]
References [ edit ]
Surprise Winner Of Congolese Election Is An Opposition Leader : NPR
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 04:32
Opposition presidential candidate Felix Tshisekedi casting his ballot in Kinshasa. Tshisekedi won the election amid concerns of vote-rigging. Jerome Delay/AP hide caption
toggle caption Jerome Delay/AP Opposition presidential candidate Felix Tshisekedi casting his ballot in Kinshasa. Tshisekedi won the election amid concerns of vote-rigging.
Jerome Delay/AP The Congolese capital of Kinshasa is reported relatively quiet early Thursday morning as the nation's electoral commission waited until the wee hours to declare opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the provisional winner of last month's long-delayed presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
With 7 million votes, or 38 percent, Tshisekedi outpaced another opposition frontrunner, Martin Fayulu, who came in second with more than 6 million votes. The governing coalition's candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary came in third with more than 4 million votes.
"Some observers have suggested that President Joseph Kabila's government sought to make a deal as hopes faded for a win" for Shadary, the Associated Press reported.
As NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Kinshasa that the results could lead to protests and allegations of rigging.
"The influential Catholic Bishop's Conference, which fielded 40,000 observers, says the outcome of the much-anticipated vote is at odds with its tally. Last week the bishops said their observations showed a clear winner '' although they did not name Martin Fayulu, the other opposition frontrunner '' as that candidate. So Tshisekedi's apparent victory may become subject to a legal challenge and protests."
The second-place winner, Fayulu, has not yet indicated whether he will contest the results. Earlier, he said that the results were "not negotiable" and that election officials should not "disguise the truth." He also made it clear that he was not looking for any deal with Kabila's governing coalition.
The vote, delayed since 2016 and marred by allegations of widespread irregularities, occurred on Dec. 30. The results were originally scheduled to be released on Sunday, Jan 6.
As the central African nation of 80 million people awaited the election results, riot police with water canon were deployed around the electoral commission and Kinshasa's main boulevard in anticipation of possible unrest.
Felix Tshisekedi is the son of Congo's historic opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in 2017.
Term-limited President Joseph Kabila is due to step down after 18 years in power. His term was to have ended in 2016, but he successfully delayed the election until December 2018. Critics charged he used that two-year period to prolong his presidency, violently suppress the opposition and hand-pick his preferred successor.
In face of rising tensions associated with the elections, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa had issued an alert warning Americans to leave the mineral- and metal-rich country, prone to rebellions and conflict, mainly in the often-troubled east, where the authorities suspended the presidential vote in two opposition strongholds at the epicenter of an Ebola epidemic, citing health concerns about the virus spreading.
Big Pharma
US medical marketing reaches $30 billion, drug ads top surge
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 10:04
Ads for prescription drugs appeared 5 million times in just one year, capping a recent surge in U.S. medical marketing, a new analysis found.
The advertisements for various medicines showed up on TV, newspapers, online sites and elsewhere in 2016. Their numbers soared over 20 years as part of broad health industry efforts to promote drugs, devices, lab tests and even hospitals.
The researchers estimated that medical marketing reached $30 billion in 2016, up from $18 billion in 1997. Spending on consumer-focused ads climbed fastest. But marketing to doctors and other health professionals still grabbed the biggest share with the bulk of it paying for free drug samples.
''Marketing drives more treatments, more testing'' that patients don't always need, said Dr. Steven Woloshin, a Dartmouth College health policy expert. Woloshin wrote the report with his wife, Dr. Lisa Schwartz, both longtime critics of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. She died in November.
They analyzed marketing data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Medicare, other federal and state agencies, private companies and medical research. The report covers 1997, when the FDA eased rules for TV ads, through 2016. Although some types of spending waxed and waned during those years, Woloshin said the upward trend is concerning and suggests consumers need to be increasingly skeptical about marketing claims.
The report was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. All marketing spending was adjusted to 2016 dollars.
A journal editorial notes that medical marketing has survived legal challenges and ''needs no apologist.'' It has helped make patients more informed consumers and it's up to doctors to help their patients understand product claims, although some physicians need more education themselves about deceptive marketing, the editorial suggests.
CONSUMER-FOCUSED MARKETING
Spending on direct-to-consumer marketing climbed fastest, from $2 billion or 12 percent of total marketing to almost $10 billion and one-third of overall spending. Only the U.S. and New Zealand allow prescription drug advertising, which in the U.S. went from just over $1 billion and 79,000 ads to $6 billion and 5 million ads in 2016.
The category also includes TV ads and other marketing for hospitals, which skyrocketed to almost $3 billion.
Spending on disease-awareness ads more than doubled, to $430 million spent on 401 campaigns. Woloshin said this was among the most disturbing trends. Drug names aren't mentioned, but manufacturers often use these to ''sell'' diseases that can be treated by costly new drugs, he said.
DOCTOR-FOCUSED MARKETING
Marketing aimed at doctors, nurses and other health professionals went from $16 billion to $20 billion, about two-thirds of all spending. About $12 billion went for free drug samples, although that spending has dropped recently. Spending on personal pitches from drug company sales reps was mostly unchanged at $5 billion after an early increase.
The government's Open Payments website lists doctors with financial ties to drug and medical device makers and in 2022 it will expand to include physician assistants and nurses with advanced training.
REGULATORY OVERSIGHT
Federal law says advertising must be truthful, not deceptive and backed by scientific evidence. The FDA oversees prescription drug and device advertising; the Federal Trade Commission regulates over-the-counter products. The analysis suggests that the surge in medical marketing has led to spotty oversight by both agencies. It notes that while company submissions more than doubled over the two decades, reaching nearly 100,000, FDA violation letters for misleading drug marketing dropped from 156 to 11. That could mean drug companies are doing a better job of self-policing but Woloshin said it's more likely regulators are overwhelmed by the volume and can't keep up.
Still, the report notes an increase in FDA violation letters about marketing of unapproved genetic tests. And off-label or deceptive marketing practices have resulted in $11 billion in fines and 103 settlements between drug companies and federal and state regulators since 1997.
WHAT DOCTORS SAY
The American Medical Association in 2015 supported banning direct-to-consumer ads for prescription drugs and says doctors should not accept medical industry payments or gifts intended to influence prescribing habits. ''The vast majority of physicians prescribe drugs and treatments they believe are in the best interest of their patients,'' the AMA said in a response to the new analysis.
WHAT INDUSTRY SAYS
Holly Campbell, spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, defended industry marketing practices and said direct-to-consumer ads can make patients better informed about their health and treatment options. She said these ads also ''increase awareness of the benefits and risks of new medicines and encourage appropriate use of medicines.''
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AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner is on Twitter at @LindseyTanner.
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The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Zuckerberg San Francisco General's aggressive tactics leave patients with big bills - Vox
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 13:54
Nina Dang stands with the bike she was riding the day of her accident near Boardman Place in San Francisco, California, on December 30, 2018.Emma Marie Chiang for Vox I spent a year writing about ER bills. Zuckerberg San Francisco General has the most surprising billing practices I've seen.On April 3, Nina Dang, 24, found herself in a position like so many San Francisco bike riders '-- on the pavement with a broken arm.
A bystander saw her fall and called an ambulance. She was semi-lucid for that ride, awake but unable to answer basic questions about where she lived. Paramedics took her to the emergency room at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where doctors X-rayed her arm and took a CT scan of her brain and spine. She left with her arm in a splint, on pain medication, and with a recommendation to follow up with an orthopedist.
A few months later, Dang got a bill for $24,074.50. Premera Blue Cross, her health insurer, would only cover $3,830.79 of that '-- an amount that it thought was fair for the services provided. That left Dang with $20,243.71 to pay, which the hospital threatened to send to collections in mid-December.
Nina Dang a few days after her accident (left) and six weeks later post surgery (right). Courtesy of Nina Dang ''Eight months after my bike accident, I'm still thinking about [the bill], which is crazy to me,'' Dang says.
Dang's experience with Zuckerberg San Francisco General is not unique. Vox reviewed five patient bills from the hospital's emergency room, in consultation with medical billing experts, and found that the hospital's billing can cost privately insured patients tens of thousands of dollars for care that would likely cost them significantly less at other hospitals.
The bills were all submitted by patients to Vox's Emergency Room Billing Database, which served as the basis for a year-long investigation into ER billing practices.
Zuckerberg San Francisco General (ZSFG), recently renamed for the Facebook founder after he donated $75 million, is the largest public hospital in San Francisco and the city's only top-tier trauma center. But it doesn't participate in the networks of any private health insurers '-- a surprise patients like Dang learn after assuming their coverage includes a trip to a large public ER.
Most big hospital ERs negotiate prices for care with major health insurance providers and are considered ''in-network.'' Zuckerberg San Francisco General has not done that bargaining with private plans, making them ''out-of-network.'' That leaves many insured patients footing big bills.
The problem is especially acute for patients like Dang: those who are brought to the hospital by ambulance, still recovering from a trauma and with little ability to research or choose an in-network facility.
A spokesperson for the hospital confirmed that ZSFG does not accept any private health insurance, describing this as a normal billing practice. He said the hospital's focus is on serving those with public health coverage '-- even if that means offsetting those costs with high bills for the privately insured.
''It's a pretty common thing,'' said Brent Andrew, the hospital spokesperson. ''We're the trauma center for the whole city. Our mission is to serve people who are underserved because of their financial needs. We have to be attuned to that population.''
Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital where Nina Dang received emergency care. Emma Marie Chiang for Vox But most medical billing experts say it is rare for major emergency rooms to be out-of-network with all private health plans.
''According to what I've seen, that's unusual,'' says Christopher Garmon, an economist at the University of Missouri Kansas City who studies surprise medical bills. ''I've heard anecdotes of some hospitals trying a strategy like this but my impression is that it doesn't last very long.''
The data backs him up: Garmon's own research finds that just 1 percent of ambulances end up at out-of-network emergency rooms.
Indeed, most other public trauma centers '-- including those nearby in Sacramento, California or Portland '-- all advertise a long list of health insurance plans they accept, right on their websites.
Patient advocates who reviewed the San Francisco bills were surprised by the practice, too.
''It's really unusual for this to be the case. Usually, it's the doctors who are often out of network. For the ER to be out of network? That's a bit odd,'' says Robert Berman with Systemedic, a medical billing advocacy firm that reviewed Dang's bills.
Two of the patients I interviewed were able to reverse their bills, both with significant time and effort. Three are still contesting the charges, arguing that they couldn't have known that the hospital that an ambulance selected for them wasn't covered by their health insurance.
''It's terrifying and it's frustrating,'' says Alexa Sulvetta, 31, who has so far spent more than $3,000 in legal fees contesting a $31,000 bill from her emergency room visit. ''It could make a huge impact on my credit at the point where we're thinking about buying a new house.''
An unusual billing practice at San Francisco's only top-tier trauma centerFounded in 1872, the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital estimates that it currently cares for one in five of the city's residents. It boasts that it is the city's ''busiest emergency room.'' It sees about 80,000 patients annually and receives one-third of the city's ambulances.
In 2015, the hospital made headlines when it received a $75 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, which is believed to be the largest donation ever to a public hospital in the United States. The hospital used the gift to help build a new trauma center, which opened in 2016.
''Priscilla and I believe that everyone deserves access to high quality health care,'' Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement released when he and Chan made the donation.
A spokesperson for the Zuckerberg Chan Foundation declined to comment for this story.
The Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.Emma Marie Chiang for Vox The large donation isn't the only thing that makes the hospital stand out.
Experts say it's abnormal for such a large hospital to be out-of-network with all private health insurers, as ZSFG is.
When doctors and hospitals join a given health insurance plan's network, they agree to specific rates for their services, everything from a routine physical to a complex surgery to an ER visit.
Doctors typically end up out-of-network when they can't come to that agreement. The doctors might think the insurance plan is offering rates that are too low, but the insurer argues that the doctor's prices are simply too high.
But hospitals themselves, particularly ERs, typically don't end up in disputes that wind up leaving them out-of-network. I've seen this in my own reporting. I've read more than a thousand emergency room bills, and in nearly all of them the facility is ''in-network'' with the patient's insurance.
Garmon, the health economist, explains that insurers are almost always able to negotiate an ''in-network'' rate with major hospitals because patients want to use those facilities.
''In general, employer plans tend to be more inclusive in terms of the hospital facilities they have,'' says Garmon. ''Not having a major hospital in-network is a big deal. It's the kind of thing that makes the newspapers and that you don't see often.''
Garmon's research shows that about one in five emergency room patients ends up with a surprise medical bill from an out-of-network doctor working at their in-network hospital. But only about one in 100 patients ends up with a surprise bill because the hospital itself is out-of-network.
Unless states have laws regulating out-of-network billing '-- and most don't '-- patients often end up stuck in the middle of these contract disputes.
In the case of an emergency room visit, patients brought in by ambulance often have little to no say over where they're taken.
Andrew, the hospital spokesperson, conceded that the insurance policy can leave patients like Dang in a tough place.
Nina Dang points to the total charges of medical bills for $24,074.50 from the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Her account number has been redacted for privacy.Emma Marie Chiang for Vox ''I do understand that situation is a problem for individuals who come in here who are insured,'' Andrew said. ''She may feel like she didn't have a choice in coming here, and she might not have.''
Still, he explained the hospital's out-of-network status in two ways. First, he said that insurers are the ones who get final say over who joins a network. Second, he emphasized that the hospital's primary mission is to serve vulnerable populations, such as the uninsured and low-income patients with Medicaid.
''For us, the challenge is we don't want to become just another hospital,'' he said. ''Our mission is to serve people who are underserved because of their financial needs. We feel like we have to recoup what we're able to from people who are insured because we're supporting people who don't have insurance.''
''I don't think there is any way to avoid this''Alicia Rodriquez, 28, ended up at Zuckerberg General with a debilitating migraine last January.
''I couldn't really move, and could barely hold the phone. I was incapacitated,'' says Rodriquez, who has had these migraines since high school. ''I was able to call 911 and once they evaluated me, they said they wanted to take me to the emergency room.''
A neurologist came to see Rodriquez in the emergency room, ultimately recommending a CT scan to ensure that she didn't have a brain tumor. She also received morphine to help treat the pain. The situation was familiar to Rodriquez: Because of her long history of migraines, she has previously received similar treatment at other emergency rooms in Northern California.
But the bill for this visit was quite different than the others because the hospital was out-of-network with her health insurance plan, Cigna. The hospital billed Rodriquez $12,768. Cigna paid only $2,767, leaving her with a bill just over $10,000.
''I don't think there is any way to avoid this,'' she says. ''They took me to the closest hospital. I wouldn't have been able to research the nearest in-network hospital. I couldn't see.''
Rodriquez is currently appealing the bill to her insurance, asking Cigna to pay a higher price. She is optimistic that her appeal will be successful but, if it's not, would expect to file a complaint with the hospital and possibly state regulators.
''At this point it's been ongoing for an entire year,'' Rodriquez, who has since moved to Colorado, says. ''Since January, I've known the bill is going to come. So there's always this thing that has been in the back of my mind.''
''Not a sustainable solution'': laws leave patients vulnerable to sky-high billsWhen Dang first got her $20,243.71 bill, she turned to her health insurance plan, asking it to pay a higher portion of the fees. But the insurance denied that appeal, stating that it had already paid a reasonable fee to cover the services provided.
''You may be held responsible for any charges in excess of the allowable amount when receiving a covered service from a non-network provider,'' the letter stated. ''This is commonly known as balance billing.''
Premera spokesperson Steve Kipp told me over email that the insurer paid roughly twice what Medicare would pay for the same services. Zuckerberg was billing 12 times the Medicare price. Dang's employer has since reached out to Premera to see if they can negotiate a lower price directly with the hospital.
Patients like Dang and Rodriquez have little protection under state or federal law. While California actually has some of the most consumer-friendly laws to protect some patients from surprise emergency bills, her health plan doesn't fall under those rules. Multiple senators have proposed legislation in the Senate to fix this problem, but those bills have so far seen little movement.
For now, most patients end up appealing their bills to the hospital, their insurance plans, or even the court system.
In 2009, emergency room patients filed a class action lawsuit against the hospital. The lead plaintiff in the case wanted relief from the out-of-network bill he received after he had his thumb reattached there.
The judge ruled against the patients, finding that the hospital's behavior was legal under California insurance regulations.
''The way for patients to solve this is to bring the hospital to court on a small claims action, but at the end of the day, that is just not a sustainable solution,'' says Nicholas Carlin, the attorney who brought the suit.
Alexa Sulvetta is still contesting a $31,250 bill she received last spring for treatment of a broken ankle after she fell from a rock climbing wall. As with other patients, the hospital was not in Sulvetta's insurance network. (I covered Sulvetta's case previously in a separate story about emergency room trauma fees.)
Alexa Sulvetta and her husband, Ben Verley, at their home in Oakland, California.Heidi de Marco/KHN She received a $113,336 bill for her one-day stay, and her insurance only agreed to pay a portion of that which it deemed reasonable '-- leaving Sulvetta with the $31,250 bill.
Sulvetta retained a lawyer last December to fight the bill. She has so far gotten the bill reduced by $8,000 '-- but also paid more than $3,000 in legal fees.
''I'm hoping to get it down to under $5,000 or $10,000,'' she says. ''It's frustrating that I have to hire a lawyer, but so far it's been worth it.''
Help our reporting Hospitals keep ER fees secret. Share your bill to help change that.
Elite$
Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives - Financial Disclosure Report
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 17:10
Financial Disclosure Reports Database It is unlawful to use the information contained in these Financial Disclosure Statements for (A) any unlawful purpose, (B) any commercial purpose, other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public, (C) determining or establishing the credit rating of any individual, or (D) use, directly or indirectly, in the solicitation of money for any political, charitable, or other purpose. See 5 U.S.C. app. § 105(c)(1),(2).
In conformity with 2 U.S.C. § 104e(b)(3), certain personally identifiable information in these reports, not required to be disclosed, has been redacted.
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Yellow Jackets
France: Yellow vest protesters call for huge run on French banks
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 15:34
Yellow vest activists are urging French citizens to empty their bank accounts and spark a massive run on the country's banks in their longstanding fight with the government '-- which could lead to the collapse of its banking system.
The call for citizens to withdraw all their euros come as copycat protests are planned for Britain on the weekend.
The left-wing ''People's Assembly'' activist group has invited thousands of people to wear yellow vests at an anti-austerity ''Britain is broken'' march in central London this weekend.
''See you on the streets and don't forget your #YellowVests,'' the group, which is demanding a general election to end the ruling Conservatives' program of austerity, wrote on Facebook.
Meanwhile right-wing, Brexit-supporting activists have signalled their intent to hold demonstrations in British cities, including the capital, under the banner ''#YellowVestUK''.
This comes ahead of the ninth straight weekend of protests across France, with yellow vests now issuing calls on social media for massive cash withdrawals from banks.
Protesters hope the move will force the government to listen to their demands, notably their call for more direct democracy through the implementation of popular votes that allow citizens to propose new laws.
Activist Maxime Nicolle called it the ''tax collector's referendum.''
In a video message, Nicolle said ''we are going to get our bread back '... You're making money with our dough, and we're fed up.''
WHAT COULD A BANK RUN MEAN?
If a bank run succeeds, the yellow vests could cause a complete failure of France's banking system.
Unlike Australia, France operates on a Fractional Reserve System meaning their banking system holds a fraction of money that's deposited by customers. The rest is used to make loans, creating new money.
The countries banks are believed to have about a quarter of the cash needed to weather a bank run.
If reports are true in saying 70 per cent of the population plans to withdraw all their euros, it means more than 46 million people will be directly revolting against the system.
This could lead to a systemic banking crisis in the country where almost all the banking capital is wiped out.
HOW COULD IT AFFECT ECONOMY?
France has the seventh largest economy in the world and the second largest in Europe, valued at $US2.58 trillion, according to world bank data.
It relies heavily on tourism and agriculture to sustain this '-- and boasts being the most visited country in the world.
If a bank run leads to widespread financial crisis it can result in a long economic recession for businesses and consumers who don't have enough money.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s much of the economic damage was caused by bank runs.
A bank run like the one being promoted in France now could potentially paralyse the country's economy and lead to a collapse in the Euro.
FUNDRAISER FOR 'ORDINARY' BOXER
Meanwhile, French officials slammed a fundraising drive that brought in more than 100,000 euros ($A160,000) for a former boxer filmed punching police officers during the latest ''yellow vest'' anti-government protests in Paris over the weekend.
Christophe Dettinger turned himself in to police after videos emerged of him assaulting shield-carrying officers during the demonstrations on Saturday.
More than 7000 people had pledged a total of 117,000 euros ($A187,000) to help pay legal costs for Dettinger, who remains in custody.
In a video posted on YouTube on Sunday, he described himself as an ''ordinary citizen'' acting out of anger with what he called the repressive tactics of the police.
''I was tear-gassed, with my friend and my wife, and at a certain point the anger just rose up inside me,'' said the 2007 and 2008 champion of France's light heavyweight division.
His case garnered many pledges of support on social media, with some calling him a hero for defending a movement which has accused police of using excessive force against demonstrators.
The yellow vest movement, originally against fuel tax hikes, has snowballed into a wide protest against the rising cost of living, which prompted French President Emmanuel Macron's government to announce a minimum wage hike and other financial relief.
Macron swept away France's traditional parties in 2017 with a grassroots campaign that promised more participative democracy. He is hoping the same tactics will now defuse the biggest crisis of his presidency.
The centrist leader is gearing up what he has termed the ''great national debate'', a public consultation to discuss the ''essential questions'' facing the nation after nearly two months of violence.
The debate is the third prong of the 41-year-old's strategy for ending the demonstrations.
It will see town-hall meetings held around the country, where citizens will have a greater say in the running of the country, amid accusations that he is too highhanded and distant.
But many of the protesters in their now trademark high-visibility vests say the measures are not enough, claiming rural France is paying the price for Mr Macron's policies that they see as mainly profiting a wealthy Parisian elite.
Their latest bone of contention is the reported 14,666-euro ($A23,000) monthly salary for Chantal Jouanno, who will lead a national debate being organised by the government to discuss living standards and government policies.
''If they want to propose lowering my salary, they are completely free to do so,'' Ms Jouanno told France Info on Monday.
Public sympathy for the movement is strong, with a huge mural celebrating the revolt appearing in one of the most traditionally left wing districts of the French capital. Street artist Pascal Boyart created the work, based on Eugene Delacroix's monumental canvass Liberty Leading the People , which glorified the revolution of July 1830 in which the people of Paris drove King Charles X from power.
He told AFP that the mural was to show his support for the anti-government protests which have shaken France since November.
''Art has always been a means of expression for all political movements,'' said the 30-year-old painter.
He has also added a ''bitcoin puzzle'' to the work, and said the person who finds the key will win 1,000 euros ($A1600).
One of Boyart's previous works shows Delacroix setting fire to a 100-euro note.
Ten people have died in the revolt and over 1400 have been injured, according to the BBC. But several hundred women wearing yellow vests marched through Paris in a bid to restore a peaceful image to the grassroots protest movement, a day after demonstrations veered once more into violence.
Some women carried yellow balloons, and at one point, they fell to their knees in a minute of silence for the 10 people killed and many others injured since the movement began in mid-November.
Women also marched in other cities around France carrying signs reading ''I am your daughter'' or ''I am your Grandma.''
Hams
Google Assistant, Now Available On Ham Radio | Hackaday
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 04:52
Depending on who you talk to, Google Assistant is either a tool capable of quickly and clearly answering audio queries in natural langauge, or a noisier and less useful version of Wolfram Alpha. [William Franzin] decided it would be particularly cool to make the service available over ham radio '' and that's exactly what he did.
[William] got the idea for this project after first playing with the Internet Radio Linking Project, a system which uses VoIP technologies to link radio networks over the internet. Already having an IRLP node, it seemed only natural to make it into a gateway to the wider internet through integration with Google Assistant. Early work involved activating the assistant via DTMF tones, but [William] didn't stop there '' through the use of Picovoice, it became possible to use the system with the custom wakeword ''Bumblebee''.
[William]'s project could prove particularly useful for when he's out of cell coverage, but needs a little information like a weather report or a piece of trivia to settle an argument round the campfire. Additionally, it's even possible to control the IRLP node through voice commands, too.
If you're just getting started with ham radio, check out this build to get you started for under $100. Video after the break.
PedoBear
Another Black Man Has Died in the Home of Democratic Donor Ed Buck
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 00:58
Community leaders were outraged when the L.A. County District Attorney refused to prosecute Buck last year. Now another young man is dead.
January 07 2019 1:51 PM EST Updated January 07 2019 6:24 PM EST
The body of another young black man has been found at the West Hollywood apartment of Ed Buck '-- a prominent Democratic donor who allegedly has a fetish for drugging sex workers '-- reports Wehoville.
Buck, a white man in his 60s, was investigated previously by authorities after the death of Gemmel Moore, who died of a methamphetamine overdose in Buck's home in July 2017. Since Moore's death was classified as an accidental overdose, numerous young black gay men have alleged that Buck has a fetish for shooting drugs into black men he picks up off the street or on hookup sites. Moore had written about Buck injecting him with dangerous drugs before his death.
''I've become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,'' Moore wrote in his journal in December 2016. ''Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth.''
Buck claims he's not responsible for Moore's death and did not furnish him with drugs. The Los Angeles County District Attorney declined to file charges against Buck, saying there was "insufficient evidence."
The name of the person who died in Buck's home in the early hours of Monday has not been released. Wehoville described him as a young African-American man and featured a picture of a body being removed on a gurney.
Community activists like Jasmyne Cannick have accused Los Angeles officials of declining to prosecute Buck in 2017 thanks to his contributions to powerful politicians such as Hillary Clinton, California Gov. Jerry Brown, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, and numerous West Hollywood City Council members. Cannick is organizing a vigil and rally for tonight in front of Buck's home, at 1234 Laurel Ave.
"City Council members John D'Amico and Lindsey Horvath have reached out to City Manager Paul Arevalo, asking him to request that newly elected Sheriff Alex Villanueva put priority on investigating [the young man's] death," Wehoville reports. "Councilmember Lauren Meister also has pressed for the homicide division to investigate."
Buck's attorney, Seymour Amster, characterized the death today as an accidental overdose and said Buck is cooperating with investigators. ''From what I know, it was an old friend who died of an accidental overdose, and, unfortunately, we believe that the substance was ingested at some place other than the apartment,'' Amster told the Los Angeles Times. ''The person came over intoxicated.''
''He's shaken up,'' Amster said of Buck. ''All indications are he had nothing to do with this tragedy.''
Developing...
The Purge
Politicians cannot block social media foes: U.S. appeals court | Reuters
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 22:24
(Reuters) - A federal appeals court said on Monday a Virginia politician violated the Constitution by temporarily blocking a critic from her Facebook page, a decision that could affect President Donald Trump's appeal from a similar ruling in New York.
In a 3-0 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Phyllis Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, violated the First Amendment free speech rights of Brian Davison by banning him for 12 hours from her ''Chair Phyllis J. Randall'' page.
The ban came after Davison had attended a 2016 town hall meeting, and then under his Facebook profile ''Virginia SGP'' accused school board members and their relatives of corruption and conflicts of interest. Randall had also removed her original post and all comments, including Davison's.
Circuit Judge James Wynn rejected Randall's argument that her Facebook page was a private website, saying the ''interactive component'' was a public forum and that she engaged in illegal viewpoint discrimination.
Davison's speech ''occupies the core of the protection afforded by the First Amendment,'' Wynn wrote.
The decision by the Richmond, Virginia-based appeals court upheld a 2017 ruling by U.S. District Judge James Cacheris in Alexandria.
A lawyer for Randall did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Katie Fallow, a lawyer for the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which represented Davison, said public officials ''have no greater license to suppress dissent online than they do offline.''
Lower courts have disagreed over whether government officials' social media pages are public forums.
Davison's case was the first of its kind at the federal appellate level, and other courts could cite it as precedent.
In one case, also brought by the Knight Institute, Trump has asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to overturn a May 2018 ruling by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald that he could not block Twitter critics from his @RealDonaldTrump account.
The Department of Justice, which represents Trump, has called Buchwald's decision ''fundamentally misconceived.''
It has said the president uses the Twitter account in his personal capacity to disseminate his views, not to offer a platform for public discussion, and is not required under the First Amendment to receive messages he does not want to hear.
Trump set up the account in 2009 and has more than 57 million followers. Oral argument on his appeal has not been scheduled.
The case is Davison v Randall, 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 17-2002, 17-2003.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry and Alistair Bell
25 for 45
SCOTUS case Gamble vs. US challenges the "separate sovereign" exception to double jeopardy '-- Quartz
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 22:51
The US Supreme Court is back in session after its summer recess. On the docket this term is Gamble v. US, a case that challenges the ''separate sovereign'' exception to the Fifth Amendment's double jeopardy clause, an exception which allows multiple prosecutions stemming from a single offense.
The matter may have important ramifications for criminal defendants, including Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is being investigated by federal special prosecutor Robert Mueller and New York authorities (pdf).
The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits double jeopardy, or prosecution for the same offense. But the separate sovereign exception, introduced in the 1922 Supreme Court case US v. Lanza, undermines that protection by allowing different governmental entities to prosecute a person for the same actions and to impose independent sentences for the same crime. Each state and the federal government are all different ''sovereigns.''
''[A]n act denounced as a crime by both national and state sovereignties is an offense against the peace and dignity of both and may be punished by each,'' the court wrote.
Gamble's challenge to the ''separate sovereign'' exceptionIn Terance Martez Gamble's case (pdf), the crime in question is being a felon in possession of a firearm. In 2015, Gamble was pulled over for a broken tail light and found in possession of a gun. Because of a 2008 robbery on his record, Gamble is a felon, and having a gun was for him both a state and federal crime.
He pleaded guilty in Alabama state court and served a one-year sentence for the offense. The Alabama US Attorney's Office also charged Gamble with the same crime, involving the same conduct, under federal law. Gamble challenged the charge as violating the Fifth Amendment's double jeopardy protections and was denied in the lower courts. He reserved the right to appeal the denial and again pleaded guilty; he was sentenced to 46 months in prison, a punishment he is serving now and which was run concurrently with the state sentence.
Under the ''separate sovereign'' exception, different ruling entities don't violate double jeopardy when prosecuting the same offense. But Gamble argues that this undermines the original intent of the Fifth Amendment and violates Supreme Court precedent holding that the double jeopardy clause applies to states via the Fourteenth Amendment's incorporation principles.
In an amicus brief (pdf) filed on behalf of Gamble in September, the American Civil Liberties Union and the CATO Institute argue that ''concerns about government overreach and harassment are particularly acute today because the scope of federal criminal law is far more expansive than it was when the dual-sovereignty exception was last considered'' in 1992.
Now that federal and state law now significantly overlap and the different authorities cooperate extensively on criminal investigations, it is ''particularly easy for the federal and state governments to engage in the repeated harassment for a single offense that the Double Jeopardy Clause was adopted to prevent,'' the brief argues.
Government overreachThe federal government, represented by acting solicitor general Jeffrey Wall, counters that a crime charged by different sovereigns, even if it contains identical elements, doesn't qualify as the same offense. Basically, separate sovereigns make a single offense ''separate'' for the purpose of the Fifth Amendment.
In its brief to the high court opposing Gamble's petition (pdf) for review, the government writes, ''The Double Jeopardy Clause thus does not forbid successive prosecutions by a State and the federal government because a State and the federal government are 'two sovereignties, deriving power from different sources.'''
Gamble acknowledges the exception exists. He just wants the high court to reconsider it. And his position finds scholarly support.
Writing in SCOTUS Blog on Sept. 18, University of California-Hastings law professor Rory Little explains, ''Although there is no lower-court split of authorities on this question, scholars have long criticized this 'separate sovereigns' atextual exception to the double jeopardy clause.'' In other words, academics say there's little evidence that the Framers intended such an exception, based on their writing and the text of the constitution itself.
Little believes the high court accepted Gamble's case for review because ''due-process oriented justices,'' or those especially interested in procedural questions, are concerned. And he classifies the matter as one of several on the docket this term that are a ''law professor's dream'' insofar as it deals with a fundamental constitutional question and basic criminal procedure.
If Gamble succeeds in convincing the high court to find the separate sovereigns exception does violate double jeopardy protections, many defendants stand to benefit.
As the law stands now, even if Paul Manafort were convicted in federal court and subsequently pardoned by the president, the scope of such a pardon would be limited to federal crimes'--it wouldn't necessarily prevent state authorities from pursuing him for the same offenses.
But Gamble's gambit to overrule the exception could change that. If he won, and the ''double jeopardy'' protection were applied to state and federal sovereigns, Manafort could use a federal prosecution as his defense to state charges, to the extent that the offenses involved stem from the same incidents.
A Drone again
Watch How a New Gun Knocks Drones Out of the Sky
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 22:27
The company behind development of a gun to take down drones that are hostile, suspicious or crossing into restricted airspace released test footage today of a portable, battery-powered rifle taking down an unmanned craft.
DroneGun Tactical is made by Australia-based DroneShield Ltd., which also has a Northern Virginia office. The jamming device "allows for a controlled management of drone payload such as explosives, with no damage to common drones models or surrounding environment due to the drones generally responding via a vertical controlled landing on the spot, or returning back to the starting point," which aids authorities in tracking the drone operator, the company said.
The gun has a range of up to 1,094 yards -- a little under two-thirds of a mile -- with continuous line of sight and is billed as operating when the outside temps range from 4 degrees below zero to 131 degrees.
As soon as the drone gun locks on the target, it disrupts video transmission that the drone operator may be using to surveil authorities.
The rectangular device weighs 15 pounds, comes with a carrying case and a 12-month warranty, and can operate for at least 30 minutes on its rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
However, ordinary folks in the United States can't buy one to knock neighbors' annoying drones out of the sky. Thanks to Federal Communications Commission rules, only the federal government can buy or lease a DroneGun; the U.S. military is conducting trials with the equipment.
At last spring's ASEAN Summit in Sydney, Australian Defence Force members used a DroneGun configuration "for the protection of the participants from potential drone threats" since "monitoring of drone activity at high profile events has become an important component of event management, similar to perimeter access control or participant credentialing," the company said.
The National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin updated in September noted terrorists' potential to use drones and chemical attacks outside of the groups' occupied territory and conflict zones.
In October, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned that "terrorists and criminals are already using drones to surveil, smuggle, kill and destroy and our country is in the cross-hairs." National Counterterrorism Center Acting Director Russ Travers also told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that "we're in the early stages of seeing terrorist use of drones and UASs for swarm attacks, explosive delivery means and even assassination attempts."
Days later, an poster from an ISIS-allied group showed a commercial drone grasping a sizable object flying next to the Eiffel Tower, which is framed in crosshairs. A jihadist was depicted walking away. "Await for our surprises," said the message.
That same month, al-Qaeda suggested it could take on battleships with a fleet of drones. The issue of English-language al-Haqiqa, published by Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, or the al-Qaeda coalition in Syria, illustrated drones dropping explosives on seafaring warships, with the words, "The Prophet said, 'Do not wish to meet the enemy, but when you meet the enemy be patient.'"
https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/watch-how-a-new-gun-knocks-drones-out-of-the-sky/
Heathrow airport drone investigated by police and military - BBC News
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 04:18
Image copyright PA The military is helping police after sightings of a drone temporarily halted flights at Heathrow airport on Tuesday.
Scotland Yard said a "full criminal investigation" had been launched into the incident - and that officers were among those to see the drone.
Departures from the west London airport were suspended for about an hour.
It comes after thousands of passengers were caught up in disruption at Gatwick Airport last month following reports of drone sightings.
Heathrow airport, which is also working with the Met Police, said it was monitoring the situation and apologised to passengers affected by the disruption.
'Extensive searches'The Met's Commander Stuart Cundy said the drone sighting was reported just after 17:00 GMT, with departing flights stopped as a precaution while initial inquiries were made.
"We are carrying out extensive searches around the Heathrow area to identify any people who may be responsible for the operation of the drone," he said.
"I want to be clear that the illegal operation of drones at an airfield is extremely dangerous.
"Under the Aviation Security Act it is an offence to endanger the safety of an aircraft; anyone found guilty of this offence could face a life sentence.
"We are deploying significant resources - both in terms of officers and equipment - to monitor the airspace around Heathrow and to quickly detect and disrupt any illegal drone activity; some of which are as a result of learning from the incidents at Gatwick."
While he confirmed military assistance had been brought in, he would not discuss their tactics in detail.
Image copyright PA Image caption Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said during the incident that he was in contact with the airport about the drone sighting, and had spoken to the home secretary and defence secretary.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We are deploying specialist equipment to Heathrow Airport at the request of the Metropolitan Police."
BBC cameraman Martin Roberts, who works with drones, said he was driving on the M25 past Heathrow airport at about 5:45 GMT when he saw what he believes was a drone.
"I could see, I'd say around 300 feet up, very bright, stationary flashing red and green lights, over the Harmondsworth area," he said.
"I could tell it was a drone - these things have got quite distinctive lights - not a helicopter.
"The lights were very close together. It was a very clear night and the object was stationary, it was turning very, very slightly. I could see it very clearly, I'd say for about four to five minutes."
Gatwick said last week that it had spent £5m to prevent future attacks. Heathrow also confirmed it would be buying systems to guard against drones.
And it was announced this week that police would be given new powers to tackle the illegal use of drones.
BBC transport correspondent Tom Burridge said while the "significant" incident did not cause the same disruption as at Gatwick, it raises the question of how UK airports can deal with drones.
While they are looking at the latest technology, it is clear they are "playing catch-up" he said - adding that the aviation industry had been calling for "drastic action on this for months".
Alice Evans, BBC London, at Heathrow
A couple of hours after the first reports of a drone in the skies above Heathrow, it was business as usual in the Terminal 5 departure lounge - in a low blow to Gatwick, one member of staff told me it's because "we're a good airport".
Although flights were up and running again pretty quickly, there are still plenty of passengers who have faced disruption tonight.
One of those is Catriona Walsh, who was on a flight from Basel.
Ms Walsh, who was doing a couple of days of work despite being on maternity leave, said she won't get to her final stop in Wales for another couple of hours now that she has missed her train.
Her flight was held on the runway for about 50 minutes as staff told passengers about the drone.
"It was all calm - frustrating rather than worrying," she said.
Michael, a fellow passenger on the flight who did not want to provide his surname, was less optimistic.
"I was worried I might have to camp here," he said.
He said the problems here and at Gatwick have shown "exactly how to shut a country - this country - down", adding that police need to "just shoot drones down" as soon as they are sighted.
More than 140,000 passengers at Gatwick were affected during 36 hours of chaos between 19 and 21 December.
About 1,000 flights were cancelled there over three days due to the drone sightings.
Has your journey been affected? Tell us about your experience by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk .
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Golden Globes
Green Book review: how the movie flattens America's racist history - Vox
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 13:32
Green Book took home three Golden Globe Awards on Sunday for Best Comedy, Best Screenplay, and supporting actor Mahershala Ali '-- and that's hardly a surprise. A period piece that's also a road trip movie and a buddy dramedy? Based on a true story? With two strong performances and a heartwarming message about overcoming prejudice? That ends at a Christmas celebration? Sign America up (or at least the Hollywood Foreign Press Association).
The film, directed by comedy veteran Peter Farrelly, stars Viggo Mortensen and Ali. It's ''inspired'' by the true friendship of Tony Vallelonga, an Italian-American chauffeur/bodyguard from the Bronx, and Don Shirley, the black pianist Vallelonga is hired to drive and protect on a concert tour through the deep South in 1962. It's often funny, with some poignant moments and a heart that feels like it's in the right place.
Yet curiously, the Green Book itself doesn't play much of a role in the film. Mortensen's character, Tony, takes it on the trip and leafs through it several times. Early on, he briefly explains its purpose to his wife Delores (Linda Cardellini): to provide black travelers with information about ''safe'' places to stay and to eat while they travel. He'll need to refer to it to do his job, getting Shirley from gig to gig safely throughout the musician's eight-week tour.
Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book.Universal Pictures But after that, the book is not mentioned by name, even as the pair encounter the full gamut of racism during the trip '-- ranging from casual remarks to ''genteel'' discrimination to violent hostility from civilians, bar patrons, and police. Indeed, we typically see it only when Tony quietly picks it up to find motels in which Shirley can safely stay.
When Farrelly took the stage to accept the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical, he used the opportunity to reiterate the film's themes (and demand that the orchestra not play him off):
Green Book is a story of a trip that '-- [to the orchestra] please, no, turn that off. No, go away. Off.
Okay. This is a story of the trip that Don Shirley took in the pre-Civil Rights era of the 1960s. Don Shirley was a great man and underappreciated genius who couldn't play the music he wanted to play, simply because of the color of his skin. Yet he went on to create his own music that still resonates to this day.
... This story, when I heard it, gave me hope, and I wanted to share this hope with you. Because we are still living in divided times, and that's what this movie is for: It's for everybody. If they can find common ground here, we all can.
All we have to do is talk and to not judge people by their differences, but look for what we have in common. And we have a lot in common. We all want the same thing: We want love and happiness and want to be treated equally. And that's not a bad thing.
Farrelly's speech is of a piece with the film's approach to racism, common to Hollywood films, which is to suggest that relationships between individuals will heal centuries of racism. And indeed, Green Book's treatment of racism is uneven at best. In an early scene, for instance, Tony throws away two drinking glasses that black construction workers used in his kitchen, suggesting he draws a hard line about even coming into contact with black people. But a movie like this needs a ''likable'' hero, and after that moment, he doesn't engage in such blatantly offensive behavior for the rest of the film. As an Italian American, Tony would have experienced plenty of discrimination himself, but the film only hints at it.
But even setting aside the characters' development, for a movie named Green Book, it's light on details about the actual, well, Green Book. It also seems to imply that such a guide was only really necessary in the Deep South, which rang false to me. Watching it, I worried that the screenplay '-- written by Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie, and the real-life Tony's son, Nick Vallelonga, who clearly drew on his father's remembrance of the trip '-- might have glossed over the reality experienced by black Americans like Shirley.
But before seeing the movie, I didn't know much about the Green Book itself, so I dug into its history to learn more. What I learned helped me see the ways in which Green Book doesn't go nearly far enough in confronting its subject, and winds up trivializing serious matters as a result.
Here are four things I learned about the Green Book, and what it says about Green Book.
If you were a black American in the middle of the 20th century, you almost certainly knew about the Green BookFor middle-class Americans in the 1930s, the newfound availability of safe, affordable automobiles was not just a matter of convenience. It meant new possibilities, the ability to travel around the country at their leisure, without relying on anyone else. That was also true for African Americans, even in a country that was legally segregated in some places and functionally segregated virtually everywhere else.
But while white travelers could move with relative freedom, stopping into restaurants, bars, entertainment establishments, and places of lodging as they pleased, road travel was more fraught for African Americans. Staying in the wrong hotel, or trying to eat at the wrong establishment, could get you kicked out or much worse.
The Negro Motorist Green Book wasn't the only travel book aimed at black motorists in America, but it was the most popular. It was created by Victor Hugo Green, an African-American mail carrier who lived in Harlem and worked in nearby Hackensack, New Jersey. Green worked on the project for three decades, from 1936 to 1966, shortly after the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, with a break during World War II for about four years. The Green Book swiftly became the most vital document for black travelers in America, detailing places where they could eat, drink, and spend the night without being harassed or worse.
Twenty-two editions of the Green Book (and one supplement), published from 1937 to 1966, have since been collected and digitized by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. ''From what I can tell, [Green] had a car, he was very interested in cars, and he decided to create a travel guide that helped black travelers, or black motorists, be able to take advantage of the newfound freedom of having a car,'' Maira Liriano, the chief librarian and curator of the center's Green Book collection, told me.
Cover of The Negro Motorist Green Book (1940 edition) Wikimedia Commons/Collection of the NYPL The Green Books were mostly devoted to options for lodging and dining, but they contained other information too. ''There were listings for rest stops, restaurants, barber shops, beauty shops,'' Liriano says. And in some towns, especially smaller ones, no hotel would offer lodging to black people. For many of those, the Green Book listed ''tourist homes,'' which Liriano describes as ''sort of like a precursor to Airbnb.'' Black homeowners, mostly in the South, would rent a room in their home to black travelers looking for somewhere to spend the night.
That was especially important in so-called ''sundown towns,'' which passed laws designed to drive black people out of town that prohibited them from being on the road at night. One such town is depicted in Green Book.
Sundown towns weren't specifically mentioned in the Green Book. But there were about 10,000 sundown towns in the US as late as the 1960s, and not just in the South: Levittown, New York; Glendale, California; and most Illinois municipalities were among their number. And while it could be dangerous to be on the road at night, it could be equally dangerous to check into the wrong hotel. In an age where you couldn't just whip out your phone and look up Yelp reviews '-- and in which you could literally risk your life by being in the wrong part of town with the wrong skin color '-- you needed a guide.
So if you were traveling while black, you knew about the Green Book, because you had to, for your own safety. In his 2000 memoir A Colored Man's Journey through 20th Century Segregated America, Earl Hutchinson Sr. (believed to be the oldest black American to publish a memoir, at age 96), wrote that ''the Green Book was the bible of every Negro highway traveler in the 1950s and the early 1960s. You literally didn't dare leave home without it.''
In the film, Shirley never mentions or even looks at the Green Book '-- only Tony interacts with it. In fact, the Shirley character in the film seems to have consciously distanced himself from many elements of black culture, while remaining richly aware of the discrimination he will encounter on the trip. But in real life, Shirley had previously traveled throughout the country before embarking on his tour with Tony, and would almost certainly have known all about the Green Book. It simply wouldn't have been safe not to.
The Green Book was necessary no matter which part of the country you were traveling throughGreen Book depicts a range of ways in which the racist attitudes that were dominant in American life in the early and mid-20th century manifested themselves, from snide comments and racial epithets to outright hostility. But it strongly suggests that a guide like the Green Book was only really necessary in the Deep South, where under Jim Crow laws, segregation was not just encouraged, but legally enforced.
The first time Tony consults the Green Book comes after several stops on Shirley's concert tour, in Ohio and Indiana. Once they cross into Kentucky, the Green Book becomes his guide, and we see it in his hands and on the car seat beside him several times. And a key scene near the end of Green Book suggests that while Shirley was harassed and worse by police in the South, once they returned north of the Mason-Dixon line, he was safe from that experience.
But the reality was different.
Victor Green himself lived in Harlem, a predominantly black neighborhood in New York City, and his first Green Book covered mostly the New York metropolitan area. ''It was very much a local guide that listed auto repair shops, but also places in the suburbs, like nightclubs and restaurants,'' Liriano told me. ''It was highlighting businesses that were friendly and open, and that would be of interest, to the African American motorist.''
But interest in the book was high, and subsequent editions expanded very rapidly. ''In two years, they included pretty much the whole country,'' Liriano said.
That meant the Green Book didn't restrict its listings to places like Georgia and Alabama, or other states with explicit Jim Crow laws '-- it was a lifeline for travelers virtually anywhere in the country.
Esso was one company that used the Green Book to openly court black customers.(Negro Motorist's Green Book 1947 via New York Public Library) In the 1962 edition of the Green Book, published the year in which Green Book is set, you can find listings for restaurants in Wilmington, Delaware; hotels in Billings, Montana; entertainment establishments in Seattle, Washington; and antique stores in New York City, all of which were friendly to black clientele. In many editions, listings spilled over US borders into Mexico and Canada, going as far north as Alaska. And in every city where establishments were listed as friendly to black travelers, there were almost certainly establishments that were unfriendly.
''In states that didn't necessarily have laws on the books, there was definitely a custom to discriminate,'' Liriano said. ''The country was pretty much very racist, everywhere you went.''
Certainly, black travelers experienced different conditions in places where segregation was legal and where it wasn't, and conditions varied across the north as well. In his 1998 memoir Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a Civil Rights pioneer, writes about a 17-hour road trip he took with his Uncle Otis in 1951, packing their lunches and carefully plotting which bathrooms were safe to use along the way from Alabama to upstate New York. ''It wasn't until we got to Ohio that I could feel Uncle Otis relax, and so I relaxed, too,'' he writes, later recounting his amazement that his relatives in Buffalo had ''white people living next door to them. On both sides.''
But there was no magical line that a black traveler could cross to find safety on the other side. ''I think that's the part that maybe people don't think about as much,'' Liriano told me. ''You can blame the South for their laws; but the North was very much also a very segregated place with spaces that were white and spaces that were black, even though it wasn't by law.''
What the Green Books omitted is as significant as what they containedGreen Book does well in illustrating how Shirley adapts his behavior to be more acceptable to the mostly white crowds who gather to hear him play, even though, as he knows, once he leaves the stage he's back to being just another ''Negro'' in their eyes.
His strained, pained smile at the end of every stage set is the dead giveaway. It's a stark reminder of the long American tradition of respectability politics. And the film is at its best when Tony and Shirley are discovering the limits of those politics, and learning how to challenge the white-defined status quo.
When the pair's car breaks down across from a field of poor black sharecroppers, the meaning is clear.Universal Pictures Some of the need to watch one's step was reflected in the Green Books, which were intended for black readers but required broader support to remain in production. ''Green had to collaborate with a lot of people, including the federal government's travel bureau,'' Liriano says. In interacting with the ''Negro Affairs'' office in that bureau, as well as other collaborators like gas and oil companies, Green often wound up working with other African-Americans.
But knowing that he needed the support of the government and various companies to keep producing this vital lifeline, Green tended to not rock the boat too much. ''He's not going to criticize or blatantly state things,'' Liriano said. ''You sort of have to read between the lines in a lot of what he writes in the Green Books.''
That meant not outright criticizing the very laws, customs, and racist attitudes that made 30 years of Green Books necessary. It also appears to have meant not identifying sundown towns.
Still, the sadness inherent in the very existence of the Green Books came through. The end of the introduction to the 1949 edition made this clear. After thanking the United States Travel Bureau's ''Negro Affairs'' office for their support, and asking readers to send their feedback and mention the book to establishments that might want to be listed, Green concludes:
There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment.
''But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year,'' he writes.
The 1956 edition of the Negro Travelers' Green Book.(Negro Travelers' Green Book via New York Public Library) It's inherently disingenuous to cite the Green Books in the title of a feel-good filmThe Green Books were Green's effort to make the best of a terrible situation, and to offer some kind of freedom to a wide swath of the American population who were considered inferior to white people, not worthy of being treated as equals. In America, barely more than a half century ago, it was legal in some places to be hounded off the road because of your skin color, or to be turned away by a ''No Negroes Allowed'' sign in a hotel lobby.
In 2010, Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, told the New York Times that the Green Book ''allowed families to protect their children, to help them ward off those horrible points at which they might be thrown out or not permitted to sit somewhere. It was both a defensive and a proactive mechanism.''
So as much as they're a triumph of ingenuity and hard work, the Green Books represent something else: decades of great pain, and a history which ought to be regarded with shame.
That's ultimately why Green Book feels wrongheaded to me, no matter how well-intentioned: The movie clearly exhibits Hollywood's unfortunate tendency to elide reality when making movies about historical racism. It takes the name of an important artifact of history, one whose very existence was a result of prejudice and entrenched white supremacy, and makes it the basis for a broad comedy. It centers its story on a goofy, lovable white man who learns to be less racist after spending time with a black man who, though he's aloof and unlikeable at first, becomes more ''sympathetic'' after he's beaten up a few times.
And curiously, the two never talk about the Green Book itself '-- its history, its necessity, its very existence. Green Book's end credits show pictures of the two men and briefly explain what happened to Tony and Shirley after the tour, but never show or even mention the actual Green Books. That's a bafflingly missed opportunity, given the very name of the film.
It also leans into the always-present danger that comes with movies about racism set in the past. They give audiences '-- particularly white ones that are eager to consider our era ''post-racial'' or ''color-blind,'' or who think black people keep pulling out the ''race card'' '-- the ability to leave the theater saying, Whew, the 1960s were a crazy time. Glad we fixed racism!
Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book.Universal Pictures To be sure, there are a few scenes in which the movie overcomes this setup, to say something real about how expectations based on race, class, and identity can wreak havoc on a person's soul. And at its best, Green Book may raise interest in the actual Green Books among viewers, particularly white audiences who've never heard of them before.
But borrowing the name of such a fraught piece of history and making a feel-good comedy about it, then failing to do that piece of history justice, is at best a misstep. At worst, it's yet another example of Hollywood's obliviousness and its willingness to feed into its audience's self-satisfaction. As a piece of conventional Hollywood cinema, Green Book has plenty to recommend it. But as a film named for Victor Green's books, it's got a lot to answer for.
Green Book opens in limited theaters on November 16 and wide on November 21.
Bohemian Rhapsody Review: Rami Malek Can't Save Abysmal Queen Biopic | IndieWire
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 14:07
Rami Malek does a convincing job of reanimating one of rock's greatest frontmen, but that isn't enough to save this feature-length Queen ad.
Everything you need to know about ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' '-- a broad, frivolous, and uselessly formulaic biopic about an inimitable band of misfits '-- can be surmised from a graphic that gets plastered across the screen in big letters when Queen embarks on their first American tour: ''Midwest USA.'' Not ''Cleveland,'' or ''Detroit,'' or ''Kansas City,'' but just ''Midwest USA.'' There's not even a comma. That's the degree of specificity in play here.
If not for Rami Malek's feral posturing as one of rock history's greatest frontmen, a deep roster of killer songs, and the long shadow of his band's iconic 1985 performance at Live Aid, this movie could effectively be about any musicians, at any time, rolling through any part of the United States. From the disapproving parents, to the drug-fueled orgies, to the unbelievable scene when a young Freddie Mercury (n(C)e Farrokh Bulsara) introduces himself to Brian May and Roger Taylor mere seconds after the two bandmates have been abandoned by their original lead singer, it's an out-of-body experience to watch such a paint-by-numbers portrait in a post-''Walk Hard'' world.
If there's anything more tiresome than the movies that inspired the Dewey Cox story, it's a movie that uses Jake Kasdan's damning parody as a template. Even when it's funny, ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' isn't in on the joke '-- it's too busy burnishing its own myth.
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Lucky for Bryan Singer '-- an increasingly bland director whose recent work is only distinguished by the ''personal troubles'' that got him fired off this production and replaced by Dexter Fletcher '-- Queen left behind one hell of a legacy. Despite the thudding obviousness of the movie's opening moments (Anthony McCarten's screenplay uses Live Aid as a framing device, because of course it does), there's no denying the power of the music that's slathered over them. The first notes of ''Somebody to Love'' all but demand your surrender; too operatic for mainstream radio, and too inclusive for the art rock crowd, Queen was always flamboyant, but never quite fashionable enough to go out of style. For all the ways in which ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' fails as a film, it more than succeeds as a reminder of Queen's greatness, and as a compelling advertisement for their back catalogue.
That might have been the idea. May and Taylor were part of the creative process from the very beginning, and it shows: ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' purports to take us behind the music, but the film is so sanitized '-- so eager to share the credit, and so sheepish to assign the blame '-- that it often feels like a network TV version of a story that tries to celebrate people for refusing to sand off their edges.
Singer (or Fletcher) introduces us to Mercury with a quick glimpse of his pre-fame stint as a baggage handler at Heathrow, but the film never meaningfully addresses who/where he was before that, or how his experience as an immigrant may have prepared him for a lifetime as an outsider. Likewise, in a biopic that emphasizes the value of families '-- both the ones we're given, and the ones we find along the way '-- Mercury's relationship with his mom and dad is so underwritten that the actors who play them (Meneka Das and Ace Bhatti) might as well have been replaced by some text that read: ''Working Class Parents UK.'' No comma. No nuance. No interest in seeing them as anything more than another self for Mercury to try on and cast off.
Precious little of ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' is interested in human beings and how they work. More often than not, the film makes you feel like you're watching a group of talented actors cos-play Queen's Wikipedia page, all of them fudging the facts whenever they get too close to making these rock legends seem like real people. Or '-- worse '-- fudging the facts in order to make these rock legends seem like real people.
It's bad enough that the movie asks us to believe that every clich(C)d pissing contest in the recording studio ended with May or Rodgers stumbling upon the riff of a classic track like ''Another One Bites the Dust'' (cut to the band performing the completed song at an arena somewhere), but it's inexplicably perverse that the movie retcons Mercury's HIV diagnosis as the band's motivation for Live Aid'... a concert that took place two years before the singer is believed to have been diagnosed. It's insulting to see the lengths to which this film tries to capture the melodrama of Queen's music, and humiliating to see the lengths by which it fails.
''Bohemian Rhapsody''
20th Century Fox
The average scene in ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' is more benign, but most of them find Malek swanning around in fits of Fosse-like movement as the rest of the characters awe at Mercury's genius while trying to claim some of it for themselves. That tendency is sometimes understandable, as Malek's spirited performance manages to channel Mercury's angular flamboyance while still hinting at something deeper below the surface; it's a satisfying, hammy turn in a movie with no other meat on the bone.
Of course, the inherent problem of a biopic about a dead singer's inimitable brilliance is that it can only prove its point by coming up short. In fact, the film's most sincere tribute to its leading man is Malek's utter inability to re-create his voice. While Joaquin Phoenix could approximate Johnny Cash, and Benjamin Dickey almost brought Blaze Foley back to life, Freddie Mercury's range was too great for anyone else to span. Malek, talented as he is, could never pull it off, and that wouldn't have been acceptable in a movie that was only made to sell music. Singer's solution? Use recordings of Mercury, but sour them '-- ever so slightly '-- with Malek's best attempt at mimicking it. It's a clever solve, but also one that points back towards the pointlessness of this whole project.
Naturally, the only scenes that ring with any semblance of truth are the ones without music, most of which focus on Mercury's complicated relationship with Mary Austin (''Sing Street'' breakout Lucy Boynton). It's touching to see how well she sees him, and bittersweet to watch as the singer's dawning self-acceptance as a gay man dooms their romance.
Malek manages to thread that needle with impressive results, always balancing Mercury's flashy self-interest against his fundamental sincerity, so that even his most narcissistic moments don't distract from his underlying kindness. If only ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' were half as graceful in how it characterizes the people who get in his way (Mike Myers' cartoonish portrayal of record executive Ray Foster is a huge mistake), or the ones it scapegoats for all of the band's interpersonal problems (Mercury's personal manager is written to feel sinister at best, borderline homophobic at worst, and always so pronounced that none of the living band members ever have to examine their role in what happened).
Queen's music may have been unclassifiable, but their movie is as trite and textbook as it gets. Even the highlights are compromised by inauthenticity; the climactic Live Aid set at the end of the film captures almost every note of what made that performance so spectacular, but the screaming crowds at Wembley Stadium are all computer-generated [update: ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' visual effects producer Tim Field corrects that the Live Aid crowds ''were not computer-generated,'' and that ''each crowd member was individual shot using a six-camera array and composited into each shot with the correct actions matching the real Live Aid reference'']. It's par for the course in this terrible and self-indulgent piece of revisionist history, where the legend is always prioritized over the truth, even when the truth was surely far more interesting. When band manager Jim Beach crows, ''You're a legend, Fred! We're all legends!,'' the movie is all too happy to take him at his word.
Of course, they are legends, and most people will already know that before they buy a ticket. The critical failure of ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' is that, 134 minutes after the lights go down, the members of Queen just seem like four blokes who've been processed through the rusty machinery of a Hollywood biopic. By the time the film is over, these singular rock gods might as well be anyone; not because they've been humanized, but rather because of the profound extent to which they haven't been.
Grade: D+20th Century Fox will release ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' on November 2.
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Why Fox Hired (Then Fired) Bryan Singer on 'Bohemian Rhapsody' | Hollywood Reporter
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 14:08
The troubled filmmaker's on-set chaos, penchant for disappearing and general bad behavior had concerned executives long before he was let go from the new Queen biopic.For executives who had worked with '-- and suffered through '-- Bryan Singer, the question was: Why? Why give him a shot at making Bohemian Rhapsody when the director had such an established reputation for causing chaos on set? What won the argument, sources say, was that this was Singer's passion project. Given his enthusiasm, taking a risk even on a deeply troubled talent might have led to rich rewards for 20th Century Fox.
But apparently, artistic rewards were not delivered in this case. Reviewers are praising Rami Malek's portrayal of the late Freddie Mercury, but the movie is at just 55 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes at press time. Still, powered by Queen hits, the film looks to open strongly. And even before those numbers are in, Avi Lerner's Millennium Films already is prepared to take another gamble on Singer, who is in talks to direct a Red Sonja reboot.
Nevertheless, the price for Fox was high, at least in psychological costs. Not only did the studio have to take the extraordinary step of firing Singer with weeks left to shoot, but in the run-up to Rhapsody's Nov. 2 opening in the U.S., Fox has been cringing in anticipation of an expos(C) of Singer's personal conduct in Esquire.
Reports of Singer's erratic behavior on set go back more than a decade, but Fox lived through some of the worst of it on 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse. While Singer, 53, had some good moments, one insider says, he was "emotionally very frail," often unprepared and late to set. If challenged about his behavior, he sometimes cried. Meanwhile, there were the usual distractions, this source says. Singer had visitors constantly coming and going '-- "People flying in and out of town, put up in hotels, all on his dime." Given all that, this person adds, "I was kind of shocked when they went forward with Rhapsody. How many at-bats do you get?"
Fox's decision to make the film begins with showman-producer Graham King, who had labored for years to bring Freddie Mercury to the big screen and had managed to win over the surviving members of the band if he could secure the right director. Though some critics have argued that the film should have been dark and R-rated, King set out to make a PG-13 celebration of Queen that would not dwell on drugs and Mercury's 1991 death from AIDS.
King hadn't worked with Singer when they had a general meeting a couple of years ago. He wasn't exactly an X-Men buff, but when the conversation turned to Mercury, Singer's eyes lit up. After that, the director was obsessed with the project, calling and texting relentlessly. (While the film was in production in London, Singer's hotel room was covered wall to wall with images of Mercury.)
The surviving bandmembers were won over. And Malek was already keen to play Mercury; at one point, he recorded an impressive interview in character as the rock legend. Singer presented a strong pitch to Fox executives, who could imagine that maybe this time things would be different. Besides, Fox wouldn't be on the hook for the whole budget '-- in the $55 million range '-- as it split the cost with New Regency.
Still, Fox chairman Stacey Snider had reservations based on what she'd heard about Singer's behavior on Apocalypse and other projects. Before approving the deal, she and studio vice chairman Emma Watts sat down for a talk with Singer and King, according to multiple sources. Snider didn't mince words, telling Singer: Don't break the law. Show up to work every day. Failure to comply will bring consequences.
Snider's admonitions had no effect. "From the beginning, he was up to his old tricks," says a project insider. "He would shoot, he'd be exhausted, [cinematographer] Tom Sigel would shoot." (Sigel had shot in Singer's place on previous films.)
There was great tension on the set, caused in part by Singer's tardiness and absences. Malek, taking his seat in the makeup chair at 6:30 a.m., would find himself and other cast and crew waiting around for a director whose work ethic fell short. Tom Hollander, who plays Queen manager Jim Beach, was said to be so upset with Singer that he quit the project briefly.
Tensions escalated into an on-set altercation between Singer and his star (by all accounts, one of the nicest actors in the business). With reports of a piece of electrical equipment thrown by Singer (though not at anyone), a complaint '-- apparently from Malek '-- prompted Fox to dispatch several execs to London. Singer's conduct was deemed not actionable. With principal photography about two-thirds done as the holidays approached, the studio hoped to power through. Singer now tells THR in a statement that, "Any discussion about fights between myself and Rami Malek are simply an exaggeration of a few creative differences that were quickly resolved. This is normal on a film set. And I think the work speaks for itself."
Around Thanksgiving, Singer declared that he needed to return home '-- for several weeks. He asked the studio to pause the production. Snider admonished him not to get on a plane; he left anyway. "He said he was exhausted and something got thrown in that his mom was not well," says a source involved.
Production was shut down Dec. 1 and Snider fired him soon after. A studio source now notes that despite his claim at the time that he hadn't been permitted to care for "a gravely ill parent," Singer '-- whose 85-year-old mother lives in New Jersey '-- was in L.A. just days later. Fox hired Dexter Fletcher to shoot the final couple of weeks. While Singer is still credited as the director, Fox stripped him of producing credit.
"I put over a year and a half of my life and passion into the film Bohemian Rhapsody,'' Singer says. ''I'm also extremely proud of the finished product. There was a period at the end where I asked the studio to allow me to go home to deal with a parent who was sick. This was also affecting my own health. I felt we could finish up the few remaining days in January. The studio did not."
Whatever happens with Rhapsody at the box office, was the harrowing experience worth it? One executive involved in the project says no. Still, this person says risks can be worth taking on even troubled talent: "There are artists we work with who are complex and raw in their behavior. Do we tolerate any of that kind of behavior going forward? I don't think Bryan is an interesting debate anymore. There are a bunch of other people who are."
But King remembers who launched this project, however troubled it turned out to be. "Bryan Singer got this movie greenlit for me," he says. "There's no doubt about it. For that, I'll always be grateful to him."
This story appears in the Oct. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
RITE-AID-VIDEO - Viewers baffled as Golden Globes hosts 'dish out flu jabs' to A-list guests
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 16:25
GOLDEN Globes viewers were left baffled when hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh "dished out flu jabs" to their A-list guests.
Some of the stars were visibly uncomfortable as people dressed as doctors in white coats approached them in the audience to give them the shot just before the ceremony cut to a commercial break.
Hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh offered flu jabs to the starsAndy and Sandra made reference to the infamous moment that Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza to be delivered to the 2014 Academy Awards as they made the gag, which appeared to fall flat with both attendees and viewers at home.
In the skit, Sandra explained: "Since we already got food at the Globes, we thought we'd mix it up and try something new.
"So roll up your sleeves Hollywood, because you're all getting flu shots!"
Andy added: "It cost $50 grand, you guys, you're welcome!"
The guests seemed uncomfortable as nurses entered the room with needlesThe Brooklyn 99 star also made a joke about "anti-vaxxers", telling the crowd to put a napkin over their heads if they were against medical vaccinations.
Among the uncomfortable-looking stars in shot was actor Willem Dafoe, who politely tried to move away from the needle as a nurse approached him in the crowd.
Fans took to social media to point out his "adorable" response, while others slammed the "awkward" skit.
Willem Dafoe's response was highly discussed on social mediaOne wrote: "Did you see Willem Defoe's reaction to the free flu shots? Now that was adorable."
Another added: "That flu shot bit was... awkward. Man, hosting must be tough."
A third said: "Okay but can we talk about how awkward that flu shot segment was?"
Were flu shots just offered at the #GoldenGlobes?? Has got to be the weirdest. And totally off season.
'-- Alexandra Zubko (@aczubko) January 7, 2019The celebrities were scared and confused af of how random that flu shots stint was hahaha. #GoldenGlobes
'-- Ordnaxela (@xandyow) January 7, 2019Although the flu jabs skit wasn't entirely well-received, earlier in the night viewers praised actor Jim Carrey for "stealing the show" during the hosts' opening monologue.
The esteemed Hollywood star played along in good humour as the presenters booted him from the "movie section" of the audience, because he is at the show for his TV series Kidding.
Opening the show, Killing Eve's Sandra said: "I am seeing Jim Carrey sitting up front tonight in the movie section even though he's nominated for a TV show."
Andy added: "That's not going to work, I am so sorry, Jim but we are going to have to ask you to vacate the movie section and go sit with the TV folk."
Jim was praised for his 'show-stealing' skitJim replied: "You're kidding right?"
Andy retorted: "It's awkward because you're our hero but we do have to ask you to move."
When the star said that he was in a new Sonic The Hedgehog film coming out later this year, Andy suggested Jim returned next year as a bodyguard was seen tapping Jim on the shoulder to escort him from the seat.
The funnyman shouted as he left his seat: "I'm going, should I take my dinner too?
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"I wouldn't want to leave any of my DNA in the film section."
When the hosts further apologised, Jim hit back from the TV section: "I'm sorry, I can't hear you.
"I see your lips moving but there's a delay, it takes a long time for the sound to get this far."
He then jokingly pulled two glasses to his eyes, pretending that he was using them to see the hosts from the distance.
Golden Globe Awards 2019 full list of winners
Best Motion Picture '' Musical or Comedy
Green Book
Best Actress in a Motion Picture '' Musical or Comedy
Olivia Colman - The Favourite
Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Best Television Series '' Musical or Comedy
The Kominsky Method
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series '' Musical or Comedy
Rachel Brosnahan - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Best Director '' Motion Picture
Alfonso Cuaron '' Roma
Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Darren Criss - The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Best Motion Picture '' Foreign Language
Roma
Best Actor in a Motion Picture '' Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale '' ViceBest Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Patricia Clarkson - Sharp Objects
Best Screenplay '' Motion Picture
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie - Green Book
Best Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali - Green Book
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series '' Drama
Sandra Oh - Killing Eve
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Regina King - If Beale Street Could Talk
Best Original Song '' Motion Picture
Shallow - A Star Is Born
Best Original Score '' Motion Picture
Justin Hurwitz - First Man
Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Patricia Arquette - Escape at Dannemora
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Ben Whishaw - A Very English Scandal
Best Television Series '' Drama
The Americans
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series '' Drama
Richard Madden '' Bodyguard
Best Motion Picture '' Animated
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series '' Musical or Comedy
Michael Douglas - The Kominsky Method
Best Actress in a Motion Picture '' Drama
Glenn Close - The Wife
Best Actor in a Motion Picture '' Drama
Rami Malek - Bohemian Rhapsody
Best Motion Picture '' Drama
Bohemian Rhapsody
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Big Pharma goes Hollywood and "Jumps the Shark" - Freedoms Phoenix
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 16:23
Written by Ernest Hancock Date: 01-07-2019 Subject: Vaccines and Vaccinations Last night's Golden Globe featured a very uncomfortable segment when co-hosts Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg announced, "Roll up your sleeves Hollywood, 'cause you're all getting FLU SHOTS". This was immediately followed by a chorus line of young men and women in lab coats roaming the crowd with what seemed to be syringes.
Anti-Vaxers were encouraged to put napkins on their heads to be 'passed over' (which I suspect has multiple meanings)
"Jump the Shark" is a phrase that references the desperate attempts by Hollywood to remain relevant. The phrase's genesis comes from an episode of "Happy Days" (a very popular sitcom from the 1970's about the idyllic 1950's).
The popular character Fonzie (the super cool character with greased back hair, leather jacket and two thumbs up regularly say'n, "Aaaaaaaaay") was tasked with boosting sagging ratings by jumping a shark on water skis.
Also as a kid, I knew it was over for the popular TV show "Lost in Space" when Vegetable People were featured characters in a season 5 episode (yep, people in veggie costumes). Was I suppose to 'want' to eat my veggies now?
We've been covering Vaccines and Vaccinations here on FreedomsPhoenix daily for a decade and know lots of 'Sharks are going to get Jumped' in the coming months as the legislative session begins in each State and the U.S. Congress.
Want to understand why?
Here's a start...
Vaxxed - The Movie
Trace Amounts - The Movie
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Any Collusion?
New Studies Show Pundits Are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement in US Politics | The Nation
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 14:51
Far from being a sophisticated propaganda campaign, it was small, amateurish, and mostly unrelated to the 2016 election.Facebook ads linked to a Russian effort to disrupt the US political process are displayed as Facebook executives appear before the House Intelligence Committee on November 1, 2017. (Reuters / Aaron Bernstein)
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Sign up for our Wine Club today.Did you know you can support The Nation by drinking wine? The release of two Senate-commissioned reports has sparked a new round of panic about Russia manipulating a vulnerable American public on social media. Headlines warn that Russian trolls have tried to suppress the African-American vote, promote Green Party candidate Jill Stein, recruit ''assets,'' and ''sow discord'' or ''hack the 2016 election'' via sex-toy ads and Pok(C)mon Go. ''The studies,'' writes David Ignatius of The Washington Post, ''describe a sophisticated, multilevel Russian effort to use every available tool of our open society to create resentment, mistrust and social disorder,'' demonstrating that the Russians, ''thanks to the Internet'...seem to be perfecting these dark arts.'' According to Michelle Goldberg of The New York Times, ''it looks increasingly as though'' Russian disinformation ''changed the direction of American history'' in the narrowly decided 2016 election, when ''Russian trolling easily could have made the difference.''Ad Policy
The reports, from the University of Oxford's Computational Propaganda Research Project and the firm New Knowledge, do provide the most thorough look at Russian social-media activity to date. With an abundance of data, charts, graphs, and tables, coupled with extensive qualitative analysis, the authors scrutinize the output of the Internet Research Agency (IRA) the Russian clickbait firm indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in February 2018. On every significant metric, it is difficult to square the data with the dramatic conclusions that have been drawn.
' 2016 Election Content: The most glaring data point is how minimally Russian social-media activity pertained to the 2016 campaign. The New Knowledge report acknowledges that evaluating IRA content ''purely based on whether it definitively swung the election is too narrow a focus,'' as the ''explicitly political content was a small percentage.'' To be exact, just ''11% of the total content'' attributed to the IRA and 33 percent of user engagement with it ''was related to the election.'' The IRA's posts ''were minimally about the candidates,'' with ''roughly 6% of tweets, 18% of Instagram posts, and 7% of Facebook posts'' having ''mentioned Trump or Clinton by name.''
' Scale: The researchers claim that ''the scale of [the Russian] operation was unprecedented,'' but they base that conclusion on dubious figures. They repeat the widespread claim that Russian posts ''reached 126 million people on Facebook,'' which is in fact a spin on Facebook's own guess. ''Our best estimate,'' Facebook's Colin Stretch testified to Congress in October 2017, ''is that approximately 126 million people may have been served one of these [IRA] stories at some time during the two year period'' between 2015 and 2017. According to Stretch, posts generated by suspected Russian accounts showing up in Facebook's News Feed amounted to ''approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content.''
' Spending: Also hurting the case that the Russians reached a large number of Americans is that they spent such a microscopic amount of money to do it. Oxford puts the IRA's Facebook spending between 2015 and 2017 at just $73,711. As was previously known, about $46,000 was spent on Russian-linked Facebook ads before the 2016 election. That amounts to about 0.05 percent of the $81 million spent on Facebook ads by the Clinton and Trump campaigns combined. A recent disclosure by Google that Russian-linked accounts spent $4,700 on platforms in 2016 only underscores how minuscule that spending was. The researchers also claim that the IRA's ''manipulation of American political discourse had a budget that exceeded $25 million USD.'' But that number is based on a widely repeated error that mistakes the IRA's spending on US-related activities for its parent project's overall global budget, including domestic social-media activity in Russia.
' Sophistication: Another reason to question the operation's sophistication can be found by simply looking at its offerings. The IRA's most shared pre-election Facebook post was a cartoon of a gun-wielding Yosemite Sam. Over on Instagram, the best-received image urged users to give it a ''Like'' if they believe in Jesus. The top IRA post on Facebook before the election to mention Hillary Clinton was a conspiratorial screed about voter fraud. It's telling that those who are so certain Russian social-media posts affected the 2016 election never cite the posts that they think actually helped achieve that end. The actual content of those posts might explain why.
' Covert or Clickbait Operation? Far from exposing a sophisticated propaganda campaign, the reports provide more evidence that the Russians were actually engaging in clickbait capitalism: targeting unique demographics like African Americans or evangelicals in a bid to attract large audiences for commercial purposes. Reporters who have profiled the IRA have commonly described it as ''a social media marketing campaign.'' Mueller's indictment of the IRA disclosed that it sold ''promotions and advertisements'' on its pages that generally sold in the $25-$50 range. ''This strategy,'' Oxford observes, ''is not an invention for politics and foreign intrigue, it is consistent with techniques used in digital marketing.'' New Knowledge notes that the IRA even sold merchandise that ''perhaps provided the IRA with a source of revenue,'' hawking goods such as T-shirts, ''LGBT-positive sex toys and many variants of triptych and 5-panel artwork featuring traditionally conservative, patriotic themes.''Current Issue
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' ''Asset Development'': Lest one wonder how promoting sex toys might factor into a sophisticated influence campaign, the New Knowledge report claims that exploiting ''sexual behavior'' was a key component of the IRA's ''expansive'' ''human asset recruitment strategy'' in the United States. ''Recruiting an asset by exploiting a personal vulnerability,'' the report explains, ''is a timeless espionage practice.'' The first example of this timeless espionage practice is of an ad featuring Jesus consoling a dejected young man by telling him: ''Struggling with the addiction to masturbation? Reach out to me and we will beat it together.'' It is unknown if this particular tactic brought any assets into the fold. But New Knowledge reports that there was ''some success with several of these human-activation attempts.'' That is correct: The IRA's online trolls apparently succeeded in sparking protests in 2016, like several in Florida where ''it's unclear if anyone attended''; ''no people showed up to at least one,'' and ''ragtag groups'' showed up at others, including one where video footage captured a crowd of eight people. The most successful effort appears to have been in Houston, where Russian trolls allegedly organized dueling rallies pitting a dozen white supremacists against several dozen counter-protesters outside an Islamic center.
Based on all of this data, we can draw this picture of Russian social-media activity: It was mostly unrelated to the 2016 election; microscopic in reach, engagement, and spending; and juvenile or absurd in its content. This leads to the inescapable conclusion, as the New Knowledge study acknowledges, that ''the operation's focus on elections was merely a small subset'' of its activity. They qualify that ''accurate'' narrative by saying it ''misses nuance and deserves more contextualization.'' Alternatively, perhaps it deserves some minimal reflection that a juvenile social-media operation with such a small focus on elections is being widely portrayed as a seismic threat that may well have decided the 2016 contest.
Doing so leads us to conclusions that have nothing to do with Russian social-media activity, nor with the voters supposedly influenced by it. Take the widespread speculation that Russian social-media posts may have suppressed the black vote. That a Russian troll farm sought to deceive black audiences and other targeted demographics on social media is certainly contemptible. But in criticizing that effort there's no reason to assume it was successful'--and yet that's exactly what the pundits did. ''When you consider the narrow margins by which [Donald Trump] won [Michigan and Wisconsin], and poor minority turnout there, these Russian voter suppression efforts may have been decisive,'' former Obama adviser David Axelrod commented. ''Black voter turnout declined in 2016 for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election,'' The New York Times conspicuously notes, ''but it is impossible to determine whether that was the result of the Russian campaign.''
That it is even considered possible that the Russian campaign impacted the black vote displays a rather stunning paternalism and condescension. Would Axelrod, Times reporters, or any of the others floating a similar scenario accept a suggestion that their own votes might be susceptible to silly social-media posts mostly unrelated to the election? If not, what does that tell us about their attitudes toward the people that they presume could be so vulnerable?
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Entertaining the possibility that Russian social-media posts impacted the election outcome requires more than just a contemptuous view of average voters. It also requires the abandonment of elementary standards of logic, probability, and arithmetic. We now have corroboration of this judgment from an unlikely source. Just days after the New Knowledge report was released, The New York Times reported that the company had carried out ''a secret experiment'' in the 2017 Alabama Senate race. According to an internal document, New Knowledge used ''many of the [Russian] tactics now understood to have influenced the 2016 elections,'' going so far as to stage an ''elaborate 'false flag' operation'' that promoted the idea that the Republican candidate, Roy Moore, was backed by Russian bots. The fallout from the operation has led Facebook to suspend the accounts of five people, including New Knowledge CEO Jonathon Morgan.
The Times discloses that the project had a budget of $100,000, but adds that it ''was likely too small to have a significant effect on the race.'' A Democratic operative concurs, telling the Times that ''it was impossible that a $100,000 operation had an impact.''
The Alabama Senate race cost $51 million. If it was impossible for a $100,000 New Knowledge operation to affect a 2017 state election, then how could a comparable'--perhaps even less expensive'--Russian operation possibly impact a $2.4 billion US presidential election in 2016?
On top of straining credulity, fixating on barely detectable and trivial social-media content also downplays myriad serious issues. As the journalist Ari Berman has tirelessly pointed out, the 2016 election was ''the first presidential contest in 50 years without the full protections of the [Voting Rights Act],'' one that was conducted amid ''the greatest rollback of voting rights since the act was passed'' in 1965. Rather than ruminating over whether they were duped by Russian clickbait, reporters who have actually spoken to black Midwest voters have found that political disillusionment amid stagnant wages, high inequality, and pervasive police brutality led many to stay home.
And that leads us to perhaps a key reason why elites in particular are so fixated on the purported threat of Russian meddling: It deflects attention from their own failures, and the failings of the system that grants them status as elites. During the campaign, corporate media outlets handed Donald Trump billions of dollars worth of air time because, in the words of the now ousted CBS exec Les Moonves: ''It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS'.... The money's rolling in and this is fun.'' Not wanting to interrupt the fun, these outlets have every incentive to breathlessly cover Russiagate and amplify comparisons of stolen Democratic Party e-mails and Russian social-media posts to Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Kristallnacht, and ''cruise missiles.''
Having lost the presidential election to a reality-TV host, the Democratic Party leadership is arguably the most incentivized to capitalize on the Russia panic. They continue to oblige. Like clockwork, former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook seized on the new Senate studies to warn that ''Russian operatives will try to divide Democrats again in the 2020 primary, making activists unwitting accomplices.'' By ''unwitting accomplices,'' Mook is presumably referring to the progressive Democrats who have protested the DNC leadership's collusion with the Clinton campaign and bias against Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary. Mook is following a now familiar Democratic playbook: blaming Russia for the consequences of the party elite's own actions. When an uproar arose over Trump campaign data firm Cambridge Analytica in early 2018, Hillary Clinton was quoted posing what she dubbed the ''real question'': ''How did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin, or Michigan, or Pennsylvania?''
In fact, the Russians spent a grand total of $3,102 in these three states, with the majority of that paltry sum not even during the general election but during the primaries, and the majority of the ads were not even about candidates but about social issues. The total number of times ads were targeted at Wisconsin (54), Michigan (36), Pennsylvania (25) combined is less than the 152 times that ads were targeted at the blue state of New York. Wisconsin and Michigan also happen to be two states that Clinton infamously, and perilously, avoided visiting in the campaign's final months.
The utility of Russia-baiting goes far beyond absolving elites of responsibility for their own failures. Hacked documents have recently revealed that a UK-government charity has waged a global propaganda operation in the name of ''countering Russian disinformation.'' The project, known as the Integrity Initiative, is run by military intelligence officials with funding from the British Foreign Office and other government sources, including the US State Department and NATO. It works closely with ''clusters'' of sympathetic journalists and academics across the West, and has already been outed for waging a social-media campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The group's Twitter account promoted articles that painted Corbyn as a ''useful idiot'' in support of ''the Kremlin cause''; criticized his communications director, Seumas Milne, for his alleged ''work with the Kremlin agenda''; and said, ''It's time for the Corbyn left to confront its Putin problem.''
The Corbyn camp is far from the only progressive force to be targeted with this smear tactic. That it is revealed to be part of a Western government''backed operation is yet another reason to consider the fixation with Russian social-media activity in a new light. There is no indication that the disinformation spread by employees of a St. Petersburg troll farm has had a discernible impact on the US electorate. The barrage of claims to the contrary is but one element of an infinitely larger chorus from failed political elites, sketchy private firms, shadowy intelligence officials, and credulous media outlets that inculcates the Western public with fears of a Kremlin ''sowing discord.'' Given how divorced the prevailing alarm is from the actual facts'--and the influence of those fueling it'--we might ask ourselves whose disinformation is most worthy of concern.
NYT Finds More Evidence Of 'Social Media Trickery' In Alabama Senate Race | The Daily Caller
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 05:58
1:32 PM 01/07/2019 | PoliticsChris White | Energy Reporter
Reports show Democratic operatives engaged in a second misinformation campaign in Alabama ahead of the 2017 special election. Operatives behind a so-called false flag campaign in Alabama did it to combat conservative memes targeting Hillary Clinton in 2016, the Washington Post reported. The so-called false-flags targeting Republican Roy Moore in Alabama were much more widespread than previously reported. A series of new reports reveal the full extent to which Democratic operatives engaged in a social media disinformation campaign targeting Alabama voters ahead of a special election campaign in 2017.
Progressives created a disinformation campaign exploiting concerns that former senatorial candidate Roy Moore would reimplement prohibition, The New York Times reported Monday. Another spate of reports in December revealed a similar project designed to harm Moore.
Operatives created a ''Dry Alabama'' Facebook page with a blunt message attached: Alcohol is evil and should be prohibited. The page included images of car wrecks and ruined families, the report notes. Its contents were targeted at business conservatives who are inclined to oppose prohibition.
One person who worked on the project, Matt Osborne, believes that such tactics should be made illegal but is not willing to give them up so long as Republicans are engaging in similar antics. He said Democrats must do whatever is necessary to rebut conservative memes made popular during the 2016 election.
''If you don't do it, you're fighting with one hand tied behind your back,'' said Osborne, a writer and consultant who lives in Alabama. ''You have a moral imperative to do this '-- to do whatever it takes.'' Osborne believes conservatives use similar techniques to stoke conspiracy theories about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's failed presidential bid.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore walks on stage at his election night party in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S., December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
The Washington Post, for its part, obtained a document Sunday describing the so-called Project Birmingham as being ''a digital messaging operation to influence the outcome of the AL senate race'' by targeting hundreds of thousands of likely voters with messages on social media platforms while disguising the fact that the effort was designed to help Moore's opponent, Doug Jones.
Jones, who narrowly defeated Moore, has previously stated that his campaign was unaware of the project and is also calling for an investigation into who is behind the antics. Political analysts believe allegations that Moore sexually assaulted underage women three decades earlier likely played a larger part in his loss. But the misinformation project worked like a charm in at least one respect.
It attracted attention from local and national media, falsely suggesting Russia was backing Moore's candidacy. The Montgomery Advertiser, for one, was the first to cover the story using the Russian-bot angle. National media outlets quickly followed suit. (REPORT: Facebook Dings Dem Operatives Who Pulled A Fast One During Alabama Election)
''Roy Moore flooded with fake Russian Twitter followers,'' read the headline on a New York Post story, which cited the Advertiser. WaPo focused its reporting on that fact that Moore blamed Democrats for the fake accounts. Other major national outlets picked up on the story shortly thereafter, with many pundits mocking Moore for blaming Democratic operatives.
The cost of the effort, which was funded by liberal billionaire Reid Hoffman, totaled $100,000 '-- the identical amount Facebook says the Russian Internet Research Agency spent trolling people on social media leading up to the 2016 presidential election. The NYT's Monday reporting suggests the campaign to convince people that prohibition was on the docket likely cost another $100,000 but was paid through wealth Virginia donors.
Project Birmingham was a product of activist Mikey Dickerson's start-up, American Engagement Technologies, also known as AET. Dickerson, who worked on former President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign, also expressed a desire to fight back against those who he believes torpedoed Clinton, social media researcher Renee DiResta told reporters.
''There was a feeling after the Trump election that Democrats hadn't prioritized tech, that Republicans had built this amazing juggernaut machine,'' said DiResta, who briefly advised AET before becoming worried about the group's lack of transparency. ''The right wing was running a meme war, and there were these crazy dirty tricks. People wanted to build countermeasures.''
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Secret campaign to use Russian-inspired tactics in 2017 Ala. election stirs anxiety for Democrats - The Washington Post
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 05:59
Tony RommStaff writer covering technology policy
January 6A secret effort to influence the 2017 Senate election in Alabama used tactics inspired by Russian disinformation teams, including the creation of fake accounts to deliver misleading messages on Facebook to hundreds of thousands of voters to help elect Democrat Doug Jones in the deeply red state, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post.
But unlike the 2016 presidential campaign when Russians worked to help elect Donald Trump, the people behind the Alabama effort '-- dubbed Project Birmingham '-- were Americans. Now Democratic operatives and a research firm known to have had roles in Project Birmingham are distancing themselves from its most controversial tactics.
Jones's narrow, upset victory over Republican Roy Moore in all likelihood resulted from other factors, political analysts say. Moore spent much of the special-election campaign battling reports in The Post that he had decades earlier made unwanted sexual advances toward teenage girls.
Recent revelations about Project Birmingham, however, have shocked Democrats in Alabama and Washington. And news of the effort has underscored the warnings of disinformation experts who long have said that threats to honest, transparent political discourse in the age of social media are as likely to be domestic as foreign.
As the scandal has expanded, with calls for federal and state investigations and Facebook also conducting a review, the tactics described in the Project Birmingham document have come under intense scrutiny. Those included a ''false flag'' effort that generated phony evidence that automated Russian accounts called bots had supported Moore on Twitter and the creation of a misleading Facebook page, aimed at Alabama conservatives, that sought to undermine Moore by encouraging them to vote for a rival Republican through a write-in campaign.
But all those who have acknowledged playing a role in Project Birmingham have denied knowing the full extent of the activities described in the document.
Project Birmingham got its funding from Internet billionaire Reid Hoffman, who emerged as a leading underwriter of Democratic causes after the 2016 election. While acknowledging his money ended up paying for Project Birmingham, Hoffman said he did not know how his funds were used until details began to emerge in the New York Times and The Post.
Hoffman gave $750,000 to a progressive technology start-up called American Engagement Technologies '-- founded by Mikey Dickerson, a former Obama administration official '-- that aimed to help Democrats, according to a person familiar with the finances who spoke on the condition of anonymity. This person said Dickerson used $100,000 of that to hire New Knowledge, a Texas-based social media research firm, to work in Alabama in support of Jones during the special election in December 2017.
Dickerson '-- who is best known for leading the effort to fix HealthCare.gov, the glitchy portal for President Barack Obama's signature health-care initiative '-- said in a statement to The Post that he learned of the extent of Project Birmingham only months after it was complete, when he received a report on the operation.
''I received the report in early 2018, which is when I first learned about the false flag and write-in tactics,'' Dickerson said in his statement, his first public comment on the controversy.
That report, he said, came from New Knowledge, a company known mainly for its efforts to investigate online disinformation. More recently, it co-authored a report last month on Russian disinformation for the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Jonathon Morgan, the chief executive of New Knowledge, has denied knowledge of most of the activities described in the Project Birmingham document and disputed Dickerson's claim that New Knowledge authored it.
'Influence the outcome'
What is known about Project Birmingham comes mainly from the 12-page document labeled ''Project Birmingham Debrief,'' which was obtained by The Post. It is dated Dec. 15, 2017, three days after the Alabama vote.
The document describes the effort as ''a digital messaging operation to influence the outcome of the AL senate race'' by targeting 650,000 likely voters with messages on social media platforms such as Facebook, while obscuring the fact that the messages were coming from an effort backing Jones. Jones has said he had no knowledge of Project Birmingham and has called for a federal investigation.
The goal of the effort was to ''radicalize Democrats, suppress unpersuadable Republicans (''hard Rs'') and faction moderate Republicans by advocating for write-in candidates,'' the document states.
The document also makes bold but unverified claims about the effects of the operation, saying that it provided the decisive margin in an election decided by fewer than 22,000 voters '-- moving ''enough votes to ensure a Doug Jones victory.''
Political analysts expressed skepticism that any of these tactics affected the election.
''My initial gut says that the alleged disinformation campaign I've read about would not have been enough to affect this race. Roy Moore is so well known in Alabama that people had very settled opinions about whether they wanted them as their senator before the race even started,'' said University of Alabama political scientist Joseph L. Smith.
Last September, Dickerson presented what he said was a truncated version of the Project Birmingham debrief at a meeting of technology experts '-- several of them alumni of the Obama administration '-- in downtown Washington. The 13 attendees of that meeting were required to sign nondisclosure agreements.
In the version of the document distributed at the meeting, a black rectangle obscured part of a sentence that would have made clear the name of the entity that conducted Project Birmingham. After weeks of declining to comment, Dickerson told The Post that the redaction was ''NK'' '-- for New Knowledge.
''Prior to presenting the report in September, I edited New Knowledge's report for length and to redact identifying information,'' Dickerson wrote in his statement to The Post. ''This was the only firsthand account of this kind of operation that I knew of, so I presented it to the group to analyze and discuss.''
Dickerson declined to answer numerous other questions about the campaign, including what he knew of Hoffman's role.
Some 'experiments'
Before Dickerson had sent his statement to The Post, Morgan, the New Knowledge chief, had publicly denied writing the Project Birmingham report or knowing about most of what it describes.
Morgan, in comments to The Post and in a blog post on the self-publishing site Medium, acknowledged conducting some ''experiments'' with disinformation tactics during the Alabama election. Those included creating a Facebook page called ''Alabama Conservative Politics'' that shared news links with its followers. He also said that New Knowledge spent about $30,000 on targeted Facebook advertising during the Alabama election season and that he bought some retweets to test his ability to ''lift'' social media messages.
Morgan characterized the work as a ''small, limited research project on Facebook'' while speculating that Project Birmingham as described in the debrief document was a combination of his efforts and those that might have been conducted by others. He described the Project Birmingham document as ''AET's report'' '-- suggesting it had been a product of Dickerson's start-up, American Engagement Technologies, also known as AET.
''I acknowledge working with AET, but I don't recognize the claims they're making now,'' Morgan said on Medium. ''We did not write the leaked report and we could not have because it didn't reflect our research. The leaked version of the report made a number of claims that did not originate with us.''
Hoffman also has denied knowing about the operation in Alabama, though he has acknowledged providing the money to AET and apologized for his role in how it was eventually used.
''I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing,'' Hoffman said in a statement. ''For that reason, I am embarrassed by my failure to track AET '-- the organization I did support '-- more diligently as it made its own decisions to perhaps fund projects that I would reject.''
Hoffman's financial relationship with AET was brokered by his political adviser, Dmitri Mehlhorn, who heads a group called Investing in US that helps direct Silicon Valley money into left-leaning political causes.
Mehlhorn said he too was unaware of key details about Project Birmingham, but he defended the idea of learning from the Russian disinformation operatives at the Internet Research Agency, who backed Trump in the 2016 election and in his first year in the White House, according to U.S. officials.
''The Internet Research Agency engaged in many, many tactics, some of which I think it is appropriate for us to mirror and some of which I think we should disavow. The tactics they engaged in [that] we need to disavow [include] misinformation and promoting racial hatred,'' Mehlhorn said. ''The tactics we need to mirror are really good social microtargeting.''
Anger after losing in 2016
Project Birmingham had its roots in the anger and frustration Democrats felt after losing the White House and Congress in 2016 '-- with the assistance, many were convinced, of online disinformation peddled by Russians and also U.S. conservatives active on social media, who pushed damaging but false information about Democrat Hillary Clinton's health, honesty and suitability for office.
One person who expressed a desire to fight back was Dickerson, according to social media researcher Renee DiResta, who met him at a conference in Chicago in the same month that Trump was inaugurated. Dickerson told her at the time about his desire to create a start-up to battle political disinformation, she said.
''There was a feeling after the Trump election that Democrats hadn't prioritized tech, that Republicans had built this amazing juggernaut machine,'' said DiResta. ''The right wing was running a meme war, and there were these crazy dirty tricks. People wanted to build countermeasures.''
DiResta briefly advised AET, offering technical guidance and helping them meet potential supporters in the months before Hoffman agreed to fund the company.
DiResta, who also accepted a single share in AET and a seat on its board, said she became concerned with the opaqueness of the project, and severed ties with the company a few months after joining. She became research director at New Knowledge in January 2018 but said that, while she had heard of an experiment in Alabama, she did not know about the tactics.
'The shifting of votes'
While debate continues over who did what in Project Birmingham, The Post was able to find some evidence for several of the claims in the explanatory document.
The document, for example, says it ''planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet. We then tied that botnet to the Moore campaign digital director, making it appear as if he had purchased the accounts.'' Morgan denied any knowledge of the incident involving Russian bots.
During the campaign, journalists wrote stories about Twitter accounts that appeared to be Russian followers of Moore.
Those accounts were later suspended by Twitter. The Post found an archived version of a misleading tweet and also several news reports and tweets by journalists during the Alabama election describing evidence that Russian bots were supporting Moore. The Project Birmingham document cited an article in the New York Post with the headline ''Roy Moore flooded with fake Russian Twitter followers.''
Other journalists, however, expressed skepticism at the time, noting that the supposed Russian bots made obvious mistakes, leaving profile information in some tweets in Cyrillic, the Russian-language alphabet.
Evidence also supports the document's claims about creating a conservative Facebook page to siphon support away from Moore. In a section headed ''Splitting Republican votes,'' the document says that a Facebook page created by Project Birmingham had contact with a Republican write-in candidate beginning on Nov. 18, 2017, and later endorsed this candidate, who was not named.
The description and timing fits the experience of Mac Watson, the owner of a patio supply store who ran a Republican write-in campaign and said he had communications with a Facebook page beginning on that date.
The document also describes Project Birmingham helping the unnamed write-in candidate gain new Twitter followers '-- something Watson recalls as well, with 10,000 suddenly appearing on his account. He also gained some exposure with the help of the operator of the Facebook page, which the document claims acted as a ''media advisor'' helping to arrange interviews with news organizations. The document included an image of a Dec. 5 Washington Post story on Watson. The author of that piece, David Weigel, said he does not recall anyone arranging interviews for his story.
Watson said that, in retrospect, the goals of the mysterious entity behind the Facebook page are now clear: ''It was about the shifting of votes, to be honest with you,'' he said.
War on Men
APA issues first-ever guidelines for practice with men and boys
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 05:17
For the first time ever, APA is releasing guidelines to help psychologists work with men and boys.
At first blush, this may seem unnecessary. For decades, psychology focused on men (particularly white men), to the exclusion of all others. And men still dominate professionally and politically: As of 2018, 95.2 percent of chief operating officers at Fortune 500 companies were men. According to a 2017 analysis by Fortune, in 16 of the top companies, 80 percent of all high-ranking executives were male. Meanwhile, the 115th Congress, which began in 2017, was 81 percent male.
But something is amiss for men as well. Men commit 90 percent of homicides in the United States and represent 77 percent of homicide victims. They're the demographic group most at risk of being victimized by violent crime. They are 3.5 times more likely than women to die by suicide, and their life expectancy is 4.9 years shorter than women's. Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder than girls, and they face harsher punishments in school'--especially boys of color.
APA's new Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Boys and Men strive to recognize and address these problems in boys and men while remaining sensitive to the field's androcentric past. Thirteen years in the making, they draw on more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.
APA's Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Girls and Women were issued in 2007 and, like the guidelines for men and boys, aim to help practitioners assist their patients despite social forces that can harm mental health. Many researchers who study femininity also work on masculinity: Several contributors to the guidelines for girls and women have also contributed to the new guidelines for boys and men.
''Though men benefit from patriarchy, they are also impinged upon by patriarchy,'' says Ronald F. Levant, EdD, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Akron and co-editor of the APA volume ''The Psychology of Men and Masculinities.'' Levant was APA president in 2005 when the guideline-drafting process began and was instrumental in securing funding and support to get the process started.
The needs of menPrior to the second-wave feminist movement in the 1960s, all psychology was the psychology of men. Most major studies were done only on white men and boys, who stood in as proxies for humans as a whole. Researchers assumed that masculinity and femininity were opposite ends of a spectrum, and ''healthy'' psychology entailed identifying strongly with the gender roles conferred by a person's biological sex.
But just as this old psychology left out women and people of color and conformed to gender-role stereotypes, it also failed to take men's gendered experiences into account. Once psychologists began studying the experiences of women through a gender lens, it became increasingly clear that the study of men needed the same gender-aware approach, says Levant.
The main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity'--marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression'--is, on the whole, harmful. Men socialized in this way are less likely to engage in healthy behaviors. For example, a 2011 study led by Kristen Springer, PhD, of Rutgers University, found that men with the strongest beliefs about masculinity were only half as likely as men with more moderate masculine beliefs to get preventive health care (Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 52, No. 2). And in 2007, researchers led by James Mahalik, PhD, of Boston College, found that the more men conformed to masculine norms, the more likely they were to consider as normal risky health behaviors such as heavy drinking, using tobacco and avoiding vegetables, and to engage in these risky behaviors themselves (Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 64, No. 11).
This masculine reluctance toward self-care extends to psychological help. Research led by Omar Yousaf, PhD, found that men who bought into traditional notions of masculinity were more negative about seeking mental health services than those with more flexible gender attitudes (Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2015).
For this reason, mental health professionals need to be aware that men are often reluctant to admit vulnerability, says Fredric Rabinowitz, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Redlands in California who has stewarded the new guidelines since 2005, when he was president of APA Div. 51 (Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinities).
''Because of the way many men have been brought up'--to be self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves'--any sense that things aren't OK needs to be kept secret,'' Rabinowitz says. ''Part of what happens is men who keep things to themselves look outward and see that no one else is sharing any of the conflicts that they feel inside. That makes them feel isolated. They think they're alone. They think they're weak. They think they're not OK. They don't realize that other men are also harboring private thoughts and private emotions and private conflicts.''
Multiple masculinitiesThese private conflicts can have tragic ramifications. Though men report less depression than women, they complete suicide at far higher rates than women, and the numbers are moving in the wrong direction. The suicide rate for non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native men jumped 38 percent between 1999 and 2014, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; for white men, suicide rates increased 28 percent in that time span (National Center for Health Statistics, 2016
). Suicide rates for women have been on the rise as well, but because men complete suicide more often than women, men's suicide death rates remain the highest.
These statistics indicate that questionnaires on depression and other mental health problems are missing something when they garner answers suggesting men don't struggle with these issues as much as women, Rabinowitz says.
This vision of masculinity may summon up an image of a closemouthed cowboy, la John Wayne. But there's more to masculinity than macho swagger. When the rules of manliness bump up against issues of race, class and sexuality, they can further complicate men's lives.
For example, the masculine requirement to remain stoic and provide for loved ones can interact with systemic racism and lead to so-called John Henryism for African-American men, a high-effort method of coping that involves striving hard in the face of prolonged stress and discrimination. John Henryism has been linked with hypertension and depression (Journal of Black Psychology, Vol. 42, No. 3, 2016). Race, ethnicity and discrimination can also intersect with immigration status: As of fiscal year 2017, 68 percent of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border were male (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2018). Most of these children arrive from Central America and Mexico, fleeing gang violence (Journal on Migration and Human Security, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2015), an additional psychological stressor.
Other people's perceptions of masculinity matter, too'--and many of these perceptions are rooted in racial stereotyping. Y. Joel Wong, PhD, and colleagues have reported that at least among white college students, Asian-American men are viewed as less manly than white or black American men (Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2013). Men and boys of color may also be viewed with suspicion by schools, law enforcement and others, leading to harsher punishments compared with white men and boys, says Christopher Liang, PhD, a psychologist at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania who helped draft the guidelines.
''Boys and men of color [are] dealing with all their hurts and their struggles in ways that are consistent with masculinity,'' Liang says. ''So, 'be tough,' and 'don't show your hurts.' And they have to do this in a system where their behaviors are looked upon more negatively than boys and men from different groups.''
These dynamics play out in the prison system as well. As of 2014, black men made up 37 percent of the male state and federal prison population and were more than 10 times as likely to be incarcerated in state or federal prison as white men. Hispanic men were also overrepresented, making up 22 percent of the prison population despite making up only about 8 percent of the general U.S. population (U.S. Department of Justice, 2015).
Gender and sexual minorities, too, must grapple with societal views of masculinity. This is an ever-shifting territory. When Levant and Rabinowitz launched the guideline-drafting process in 2005, only Massachusetts recognized same-sex marriage. Today, transgender issues are at the forefront of the cultural conversation, and there is increased awareness of the diversity of gender identity.
''What is gender in the 2010s?'' asks Ryon McDermott, PhD, a psychologist at the University of South Alabama who also helped draft the men's guidelines. ''It's no longer just this male-female binary.''
Though there is now more flexibility in gender norms than 30 years ago, according to Liang and McDermott, boys and men who identify as gay, bisexual or transgender still face higher-than-­average levels of hostility and pressure to conform to masculine norms. The 2015 National School Climate Survey found that 85 percent of LGBTQ students reported verbal harassment at school over their sexual orientation or gender expression (GLSEN, 2015). Gender-­nonconforming students reported worse treatment than did LGBTQ kids who conformed with traditional gender norms. These kinds of results indicate that gender policing still occurs, Liang says.
Sexual minorities or gender-nonconforming boys and men may face strained family bonds or even familial rejection. And family support can make all the difference in mental health. A 2016 study of a community sample of transgender children led by Kristina Olson, PhD, of the University of Washington in Seattle, found that those with supportive families were no more likely than nontransgender children to have depression, and were only slightly more likely to experience anxiety (Pediatrics, Vol. 137, No. 3, 2016).
Sexual and gender identity also intersect with other key life arenas, including military service (the guidelines suggest that therapists cultivate an awareness of military norms and common mental health concerns for veterans, such as post-traumatic stress disorder) and retirement.
''When retirement comes, a lot of guys get thrown into an abyss,'' Rabinowitz says. Particularly for those who identified as workers and achievers, retirement can force a reckoning, he says. And failing to cope with the transition can leave older men vulnerable to depression (Health Services Research, Vol. 43. No. 2, 2008)'--an example of how the pressure of masculinity ideology can act across the life span.
''There is a lot of diversity in the experience of men and masculinity, between groups, within groups and even within an individual,'' Liang says. ''What's important is to understand that despite all of this diversity, boys and men may experience incredible pressure to live up to these rules around masculinity that they may have learned within their own cultural context.''
Changing the cultureMany of these problems seem intractable'--how do you help someone who would never dream of seeking mental health treatment?'--but psychologists have a key role to play, as the new guidelines lay out.
First, clinicians must be aware of dominant masculine ideals, and cognizant of their own potential biases. Second, they must recognize the integrated nature of masculinity, and how factors ranging from spirituality to ability status to age and ethnicity interact. Mental health professionals must also understand how power, privilege and sexism work both by conferring benefits to men and by trapping them in narrow roles. They should consider how stoicism and a reluctance to admit vulnerability hamstring men in personal relationships, and they should combat these forces, in part, by encouraging fathers to engage more fully with their children.
Clinicians should also understand broader institutional issues and support educational systems responsive to the needs of men. Boys who drop out of school are more likely to be unemployed than those who get to high school or college graduation, so addressing school-related challenges early can head off lifelong problems, according to the guidelines. Mental health professionals should strive to reduce aggression and violence and to understand the precursors to substance use and suicide. They should encourage men to protect their own health. And they should offer services sensitive to the socialization that men have undergone, while fighting against homophobia, transphobia, racial bias and other types of discrimination in institutions such as the criminal justice system.
Some of this involves outreach. Efforts like the National Institute of Mental Health's ''Real Men. Real Depression'' campaign can normalize help-seeking by showing tough guys struggling. When men do seek help, clinicians need to be aware that aggression and other externalizing symptoms can mask internalizing problems, Levant says. From early childhood on, boys are encouraged to push down any emotion other than anger, he says, which interrupts boys' emotional development.
''I tell clients that oftentimes anger is a powerful emotion to cover for a more vulnerable emotion we might feel,'' such as sadness or shame, Levant says.
Supporting the positiveIt's also important to encourage pro-social aspects of masculinity, says McDermott. In certain circumstances, traits like stoicism and self-sacrifice can be absolutely crucial, he says. But the same tough demeanor that might save a soldier's life in a war zone can destroy it at home with a romantic partner or child.
''There are times when you need to be able to power through,'' McDermott says. ''But if you only do that, and you believe that if you don't do that then you're somehow less worthy as a person, that's where you have a problem.''
The clinician's role, McDermott says, can be to encourage men to discard the harmful ideologies of traditional masculinity (violence, sexism) and find flexibility in the potentially positive aspects (courage, leadership). He and his team are working on a positive-masculinities scale to capture peoples' adherence to the pro-social traits expected from men, something that has yet to be measured systematically.
One important finding that McDermott and his team point to is that there's less daylight between what's expected of men and what's expected of women than a glimpse at media and culture might reveal. About a third of the traits that people consider to be positive aspects of masculinity, such as sacrificing for others and having strong morals, are actually expected more from women than men when researchers ask both men and women about the trait in isolation from wider gender cues, McDermott says. Other traits, such as community leadership, charm and humor, are expected more of men than women, but not by much. The study focused solely on positive traits, so it's not clear whether people's expectations for bad behavior are similarly overlapping (Psychology of Men & Masculinity, online first publication, 2018).
Indeed, when researchers strip away stereotypes and expectations, there isn't much difference in the basic behaviors of men and women. Time diary studies, for example, find that men enjoy caring for their children as much as women do. And differences in emotional displays between boys and girls are small, according to a 2013 meta-analysis (Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 139, No. 4), and not always in the stereo-typical direction. Adolescent boys, for example, actually displayed fewer externalizing emotions such as anger than did adolescent girls.
Getting that message out to men'--that they're adaptable, emotional and capable of engaging fully outside of rigid norms'--is what the new guidelines are designed to do. And if psychologists can focus on supporting men in breaking free of masculinity rules that don't help them, the effects could spread beyond just mental health for men, McDermott says. ''If we can change men,'' he says, ''we can change the world.''
OverviewCE credits: 1
Learning objectives: After reading this article, CE candidates will be able to:
Discuss the research that suggests that aspects of "traditional masculinity" can be psychologically harmful.*Describe the role of clinicians in working to address the needs of men and boys. Discuss the importance of encouraging pro-social aspects of masculinity.For more information on earning CE credit for this article, go to www.apa.org/ed/ce/resources/ce-corner.aspx.
2020
Democrat Beto O'Rourke Plans Solo Road Trip to Meet Voters Outside Texas - WSJ
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 05:52
WASHINGTON'--Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke is asking aides to create an itinerary for him to take a solo road trip outside of Texas where he would ''pop into places'' such as community college campuses, as he considers whether to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, according to a person familiar with the plans.
Mr. O'Rourke's trip would begin from his El Paso home and keep him away from Iowa and other early-voting states. Mr. O'Rourke doesn't plan to be accompanied by staff or press, though he may document the trip on social media and allow people he meets to do so as well. He doesn't plan to make a final decision on a presidential bid until at least February.
Mr. O'Rourke is one of three leading Democratic figures looming over the party's nascent presidential contest. Decisions to be made in coming weeks by former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, along with Mr. O'Rourke's move, will help shape the contours of the 2020 Democratic campaign.
Potential candidates' decisions could also be influenced by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's first foray in Iowa, where she was well received by hundreds of Democrats pining for a candidate to take on Republican President Trump.
Her reception is ''going to amp up the pressure on people,'' said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic strategist and veteran of presidential campaigns. ''If you're thinking about doing this, you have to be a little bit worried that you're going to get lapped in some respect.''
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julin Castro plans to formally launch his campaign Saturday, and California Sen. Kamala Harris is due to begin a book tour Tuesday. Several of Ms. Harris' Senate colleagues, including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, are weighing potential campaigns.
Several prospective Democratic presidential candidates are making their own political calculations about the 2020 contest based in part on what Messrs. Biden and Sanders decide about the race.
If the former vice president passes on running, that could create more political space for Democrats such as former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe or former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who visited Iowa in December, plans to travel to New Hampshire later this month, but he is unlikely to announce a decision before February, an aide said.
Mr. Sanders occupies the same progressive territory as Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, each of whom backed his 2016 bid and are now considering running themselves. Ms. Warren, who formally launched an exploratory committee last week, occupies a similar part of the Democratic ideological spectrum.
Mr. Biden, who leads early polls of Democrats in Iowa and nationwide, has said family considerations would be a key aspect of his decision, as it was in 2015, when he chose not to enter the Democratic primaries following the death of his 46-year-old son, Beau Biden.
Mr. Biden was ''leaning forward'' toward entering the race but hasn't yet made a final decision, said a person familiar with his thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
Mr. Biden, 76 years old, is holding a range of meetings with his longtime advisers in Washington this week as part of the process, but the person said those discussions could stretch into the coming weeks. Longtime aides are making preparations in the event that he decides to run, the person said.
In the meantime Mr. Biden has been traveling for public speaking events to promote his book. For a Jan. 24 ''American Promise Tour'' stop in suburban Dallas, tickets cost up to $400 for a ''VIP meet & greet,'' which includes a photograph with Mr. Biden, an autographed copy of his book and a seat in the first five rows of the theater.
The former vice president's younger brother, Frank Biden, said in a radio interview Monday with SiriusXM's Michael Smerconish that he had ''absolutely, positively'' encouraged Mr. Biden to enter the campaign.
''If he decides to go, he will be the most dynamic 70-something-year-old you've ever met in your entire life,'' Frank Biden said.
Mr. Sanders, whose 2016 primary campaign was the chief beneficiary when Ms. Warren declined to enter the 2016 campaign despite efforts by liberal groups to draft her into the race, sent an email to supporters in late December entitled, ''If I run.'' In the fundraising email for his campaign committee, the 77-year-old senator reiterated that if he was ''the best candidate to beat Donald Trump, then I will probably run.''
Mr. O'Rourke has become the subject of a movement aimed at drafting him into the race. The 46-year-old raised more than $80 million but narrowly lost the 2018 Texas Senate race to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
At Ms. Warren's weekend events in Iowa, many voters received her warmly but said they are hoping to see candidates including Messrs. Biden, O'Rourke and Sanders before deciding whom to back.
Linda Drury of Holstein, Iowa, who came to see Ms. Warren Saturday in Sioux City, said she won't make a decision on who to back until she's seen a handful of candidates.
''It's always fun to see a candidate for real,'' said Ms. Drury, 62, who works in customer service for a commercial door manufacturer. ''You can read about what they've done, but I want to see what they're going to say to us.''
Write to Reid J. Epstein at reid.epstein@wsj.com and Ken Thomas at ken.thomas@wsj.com
Vaccine$
Worst measles outbreak in decades sweeps New York as cases surge in Oregon, Washington and abroad | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 10:01
Cases of measles have reached a 20-year high in several New York counties amid an outbreak that threatens to reach epidemic proportions, experts say.
At least 160 people have been infected by the virus, which typically strikes children, in New York and unusual outbreaks have been reported internationally.
The worst affected areas so far are Rockland County - where 105 cases have been reported - and an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, where at least 55 have been infected.
Meanwhile, 25 other states have reported outbreaks, with numbers climbing particularly high in Oregon and Washington.
A body-covering red splotchy rash is the tell-tale sign of the measles infection that has struck at least 160 people in New York - and outbreaks have been reported in Oregon and Washington
Measles is only preventable by vaccination, and health officials in the worst affected areas are scrambling to speed up shots schedules in the most blighted areas.
Among other countries, Israel has seen a recent resurgence in measles.
In October, the sudden uptick in cases in New York City was linked to an unvaccinated traveler from Israel.
Though the details of the Oregon and Washington cases have not been released as publicly, the Washington outbreak was traced to an unvaccinated child who had traveled to the state from another country.
The measles vaccine was introduced in the US in 1963 and, ever since, the virus has been a minimal threat.
But among those not inoculated against it, measles is among the most contagious diseases in the world and can be life-threatening.
Measles often begins with a fever, sore throat, runny nose and cough but there are a few tell-tale signs of the infection.
Eventually, a rash composed of large red blotches materializes, first on the face, spreading until it eventually covers the whole body.
As the infection worsens, complications can include diarrhea, lung infections and brain swelling.
Some one in 20 children that contract measles develop pneumonia, making it highly dangerous to young kids.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS OF MEASLES?Most people will recover from measles within one or two weeks, but complications can develop.
People most at risk of complications include teenagers and adults, babies younger than one year old, and children with a weakened immune system.
Common complications include diarrhoea and vomiting, a middle-ear or eye infection, laryngitis, fits caused by a fever, and lung infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis and croup.
About one in every 15 infected children will develop one of these.
Less common complications include hepatitis, meningitis and a brain infection called encephalitis.
Rare complications include serious eye disorders which can lead to vision loss, heart and nervous system problems, and a fatal brain infection called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis '' this is very rare and only happens in one in every 25,000 cases.
Having measles during pregnancy increases the risk of the baby having a low birth weight, premature birth, or stillbirth or miscarriage.
Source: NHS Choices
Fortunately, the vast majority of children in the US and developed nations are protected against the virus by the combined measles mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).
Babies are supposed to get the shot in two doses. The first dose should be given between the first 12 and 15 months of life, and the second between ages four and six, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendations.
As of May 2017, the CDC estimated that about 91 percent of children under three had received at least their first dose of the MMR shot.
In recent years, however, there has been a growing - though largely unfounded - movement against vaccinations.
Some populations have a longer history of reticence against shots.
Some members of both the Amish and Orthodox Jewish faiths believe that their religions' edicts, histories or some combinations of the two prohibit them from getting their children vaccinated.
One of the arguments made by Orthodox Jews is that if a dangerous disease becomes rare - thanks to high rates of vaccination among the general population, typically - then getting shots for their children may do more 'harm' than good and thus be against Orthodox Jewish law.
But in 2013, for example, a measles outbreak struck the neighborhood of Williamsburg in New York City's Brooklyn borough. The 58 infections were contained entirely in the Orthodox Jewish community there.
The outbreaks that have emerged in recent months have followed a similar pattern.
One unvaccinated child from Brooklyn reportedly traveled to Israel, contracted the virus, then returned to its home in New York and spread the infection to other unvaccinated kids in the community.
In Oregon, there has been a moderate influx of Orthodox Jews (particularly in Portland). However, it is less clear what is fueling the outbreaks there or in Washington.
There has been some increase in the number of children not getting vaccines, but the majority of the population in both states is still protected.
Rockland County, New York, is home to a number of all-Orthodox villages and the population of Orthodox Jews has been growing rapidly throughout the area in recent years.
John Lyon, spokesperson for the Rockland County Health Department said that the outbreak has struck unvaccinated communities there.
'We're making some progress, but this is one of the most contagious diseases out there in unvaccinated populations,' he told Daily Mail Online.
So far, the county has given over 11,000 vaccinations to children there, but is still struggling to contain the virus's rapid spread.
STORIES
jabroni, n. : Oxford English Dictionary
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 16:19
false false $Revision$ Forms:α. 19 giboney, 19 jibboney, 19 shaboney, 19'' gibone, 19'' jaboney, 19'' jabonie, 19'' jibone, 19'' jiboney.
β. 19 jadroney, 19'' gebroni, 19'' gibroney, 19'' gibroni, 19'' jabronee, 19'' jabroney, 19'' jabroni, 19'' jebronie, 19'' jobroni.
(Show Less)Frequency (in current use): Etymology: Origin uncertain. Perhaps < Italian regional (Milan)
giambone ham (19th cent.); with the assumed semantic development compare
ham n.1 5 .
In later specific use in wrestling, the
β. forms are perhaps reinforced by association with
jobber in similar use.
(Show Less) U.S. slang and
colloq. (
derogatory, often used mockingly).
A stupid, objectionable, or ridiculous man; a loser, a knuckle-head.In Italian-American contexts often applied to newly arrived immigrants. In recent use also applied spec. to a professional wrestler who deliberately or habitually loses (cf. quots. 1997 , 2000 ). 1919 Variety 27 June 21/4 It seems their [
sic] on the make this night and they ride up and down on the subway without seein' a prospect, nothin' but a lot of
Jiboney's
goin' to work.
1943 Cumberland ( Maryland ) Evening Times 11 Mar. 17/1 Mr. Lambertson is the hawk
jaboney
who has assumed a public career of knocking the..naval records of the sons of the President.
1976 R. Price Bloodbrothers xxi. 193 Vinny, you're a real
jibone
, you know that?
1977 E. Torres Q & A xii. 122 You, you fucking
jadroney
. One more word out of you and I'm bringing you in.
1990 Village Voice ( N.Y. ) 18 Sept. 44/3 At nine in the morning, you'd have these two
gibones walking in to give themselves up.
1997 [SSW] Jabroni World Order?!? in rec.sport.pro-wrestling (Usenet newsgroup) 25 Mar. Southern States Wrestling returned to Fall Branch, TN on Friday, March 21st. The show was highlighted by the debut of the JWO..the Jabroni World Order.
2000 Mail on Sunday (Nexis) 16 Apr. 28 The wrestlers' witty epithets are translated into nine languages (the Danes are still having a little trouble with the Rock's phrase 'You candyass
Jabroni
!').
2017 Greeley ( Colorado ) Tribune (Nexis) 23 Feb. Why do players..on this season's roster have to pay the price for the stupidity of the past staff that turned out to be a collection of buffoons and
jabronis
?
1919'--2017 (Hide quotations)
Back to top
jabble, n. 1831 jabble, v.1 1570 jabble, v.2 1760 jabiru, n. 1774 Jablochkoff, n. 1877 jaborandi, n. 1875 jaborine, n. 1887 jabot, n. 1823 jaboticaba, n. 1824 jabroni, n. 1919 jacal, n. 1838 jacamar, n. 1825 jacana, n. 1753 jacaranda, n. 1753 jacare, n. 1753 jacatoo, n. a1684 jacco, n. 1648 j'accuse, n. 1899 jace, n. 1399 jace, v. 1393 jacent, adj. 1611 J-acid, n. 1914 jacinth, n. c1230 jacinthine, adj. and n. 1382 jacitara, n. 1853 jack, n.1 1378 Jack, n.2 c1390 jack, n.3 1582 jack, n.4 1633 Jack, n.5 1694 jack, n.6 1732 jack, n.7 a1795 jack, n.8 1801 jack, n.9 1867 jack, n.10 1871 jack, n.11 1899 Jack, n.12 1910 jack, adj. 1885 jack, v.1 a1795 jack, v.2 1833
Germany looks set to enter a recession after unexpected collapse | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 15:35
Germany looks set to enter a RECESSION after Europe's financial giant sees unexpected collapse in industrial productionGerman industry shocked experts as it plummeted by -1.9 percent in NovemberThis week economists say Europe's largest economy could enter a recessionYear-over-year production descended to -4.6 percent, the worst since 2008Uncertainty in Germany could devastate the Italian and Greek markets ByRoss Ibbetson For Mailonline
Published: 05:24 EST, 10 January 2019 | Updated: 07:38 EST, 10 January 2019
Germany is on the brink of a recession as Europe's financial powerhouse suffered a collapse in industrial production.
The German economy stunned traders this week when it plummeted more sharply than expected.
Industrial production fell by -1.9 percent in November - a year-on-year low of -4.6 percent - which has fuelled uncertainty in the world's fourth largest economy.
A recession in Germany could have a devastating impact on the fragile Greek and Italian economies.
The Euro symbol stands outside the European Central Bank, a recession in Germany could spell disaster throughout the Eurozone, particularly in countries like Italy and Greece which are already fragile
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt on Wednesday as traders reacted to the bleak outlook
'Yesterday's manufacturing data in Germany provided alarming evidence of a much more severe slowdown in the second half of last year than economists had initially expected.' Claus Vistesen of Pantheon Macreconomics told Business Insider.
He said the economy had been rocked by a 'perfect storm across all sectors.'
The collapse was so swift that Vitesen initially told his clients he did not believe the data was accurate.
Stefan Schilbe of HSBC told Business Insider that a recession was now likely, as Germany faces its lowest industrial production since 2008.
In recent days, evidence has been piling up that the eurozone recovery lost more momentum than anticipated at the end of 2018, particularly in Germany.
Unemployment across the eurozone had been falling steadily from a peak of 12.1 percent in 2013 as the region recovered from the global financial crisis.
However, ongoing worries about the level of government debt in a number of countries kept unemployment high, such as in Greece and Spain.
Since the German economy contracted by a quarterly rate of 0.2 percent in the third quarter of 2018 largely as a result of one-time factors related to new car emissions standards, another drop in the fourth-quarter drop would mean Germany will have entered a recession, defined as two straight quarters of negative output.
Still, unemployment remains extremely low in Germany at 3.3 percent, in sharp contrast to the rates still seen in those economies that were at the forefront of the eurozone's debt crisis.
Traders toasted in Frankfurt's stock exchange after the closing bell for the festive period in December, but numbers released this week have sent shock waves through the eurozone
Greece's unemployment rate, though sharply down from its peak, was still 18.6 percent in September.
There are other clouds beyond Germany hanging over the eurozone economy at the start of the new year.
France, the eurozone's second largest economy, is also facing difficulties.
The country's statistics agency INSEE revealed Wednesday that consumer confidence plunged in December to a four-year low largely as a result of the yellow vest protests that brought much of France, but particularly Paris, to its knees in the crucial Christmas trading period.
In addition, trade tensions between the U.S. and China have the potential to further weigh on a softer global economy while Britain's impending exit from the EU could be another negative hit particularly if the country crashes out of the bloc without a deal to smooth its transition to new trading arrangements.
Advertisement
Fatberg longer than six double-decker buses found in English seaside town - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 14:14
Updated January 09, 2019 08:15:30
A 64-metre-long fatberg has formed in the sewers of an English seaside town, the largest ever discovered in the area.
Key points:The fatberg has not affected local swimming water qualityA massive London fatberg was put on display in a museum after a two-month removal processBreaking up and clearing fatbergs from sewers costs millions annuallyCrews will spend an estimated eight weeks below Sidmouth, in Devon, using shovels, pickaxes and high-pressure cleaning equipment to break up and remove the congealed monstrosity.
"It is formed from everything that has been flushed or poured down the sinks of Sidmouth that shouldn't have been, including wet wipes and fat, oil and grease," the local water authority South West Water said.
The treatment manager for the authority, Andrew Rowntree, said the takeaway message for people was around how to use their toilets.
"Only flush the three Ps: that is pee, paper and poo. And nothing else," he said.
"Everything else needs to go in the bin and the same applies with fat in the kitchen sink, don't pour hot fat down the kitchen sink, it needs to go into a container and also put in the bin."
The fatberg, which stretches longer than six back-to-back double-decker buses, has not impacted swimming water quality in the area and nearby coastal walking paths will remain open while it is being dealt with.
In September 2017, a 250-metre-long, 130-tonne fatberg was found in the sewers of the London suburb of Whitechapel.
The mass of congealed fat, wet wipes, nappies and condoms was as hard as concrete and took workers more than two months to remove.
Once they were done, samples were taken.
The still-hazardous remnants were air-dried, then locked inside specially sealed units and put on display in a temporary exhibition.
London's Thames Water '-- the UK's largest water and wastewater services company '-- clears one sewer blockage every seven-and-a-half minutes and spends about $1.8 million each month removing them.
Most of Whitechapel's monster fatberg was melted and converted to biofuel that could be used to power vehicles such as London's buses.
In Australia, Brisbane's sewers have also been blocked by large fatbergs, with up to 4,000 blockages cleared across Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim at a cost of $1.5 million.
Topics:recycling-and-waste-management,human-interest,environment,united-kingdom
First posted January 08, 2019 22:36:14
Trump's Campaign Manager Gave Polling Data To Russian Agent
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 13:07
Manafort. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The idea that Donald Trump's campaign did not collude with Russia always rested on an implausible scenario, in which every single one of the many trails connecting Trump Tower to Moscow ended short of contact. A court document shared today by Paul Manafort's lawyers inadvertently spills a detail that makes the no-collusion scenario even more remote.
The document by Manafort's lawyers attempts to redact several key details, but mistakenly left them legible. The most important detail is that Manafort, who served as Donald Trump's 2016 campaign manager, shared polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian intelligence agent. The detail comes up because the special counsel is charging Manafort with omitting this fact when he cooperated with them, while Manafort's lawyers maintain he merely forgot about it. But the real significance of this event is not why he failed to share it but that it happened at all.
Why was Trump's campaign manager sharing polling data with a Russian intelligence agent? Kilimnik was of course an employee of Manafort's, and the two cooperated in other political work on behalf of pro-Russian candidates in Ukraine. Manafort also appears to have been in debt to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Moscow, during the Trump campaign. Most importantly, Russia carried out social-media attacks on the American electorate in 2016, which have already featured in previous indictments by Robert Mueller.
One question about Russian social-media messages, and a key potential avenue for collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow, is how Russia targeted its messaging so precisely. The Russians may have studied the American electorate closely on their own. But it seems more likely that they tapped their contacts for data to help them figure out what messages to use, and where.
The New York Times reported that Manafort asked Kilimnik to pass on the polling data to Deripaska (which means to the Russian government.) It also reports that most of the data was public but some of it ''was developed by a private polling firm working for the campaign.'' The Times updated its reporting to note that Manafort actually asked for the data to be shared with different Russian oligarchs, for whom he had also previously worked:
CORRECTION: PAUL MANAFORT asked KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK to pass TRUMP polling to the Ukrainian oligarchs SERHIY LYOVOCHKIN & RINAT AKHMETOV, & not to OLEG DERIPASKA, as originally reported. We have corrected the story & I deleted a tweet repeating the error. https://t.co/xfnnr5KNQR
'-- Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) January 9, 2019 LYOVOCHKIN & AKHMETOV had funded Russia-aligned political parties for which MANAFORT had worked. Manafort believed he was still owed $$$ for the work. Passing along polling data to the oligarchs could be a way to try to collect by proving continued value. https://t.co/xfnnr5KNQR
'-- Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) January 9, 2019So the fact that Manafort apparently ''lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign'' is quite important. It's possible the polling had nothing to do with any of Russia's political operation, and was nothing more than gossip. But the fact that Manafort shared the information suggests he was offering information that Kilimnik couldn't just find from public polls. And the fact Manafort lied about it, and is being charged with the lie, raises the very strong possibility he was painting the target for Moscow.
*This story has been updated throughout.
Trump's Campaign Manager Gave Polling Data to Russian Agent Promoted links by Taboola 7:27 a.m.
Come on, what presidential campaign hasn't had more than 100 contacts with a foreign adversary? All of them? Oh, okay '...
Members of President Donald Trump's campaign and transition team had more than 100 contacts with Russian-linked officials, according to a new report.
The milestone illustrates the deep ties between members of Trump's circle and the Kremlin. The findings, tracked by the Center for American Progress and its Moscow Project, come amid reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is nearing the conclusion of the two-year investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by the president.
''This wasn't just one email or call, or one this or that,'' said Talia Dessel, a research analyst for the left-leaning organization. ''Over 100 contacts is really significant because you don't just have 100 contacts with a foreign power if there's nothing going on there.''
7:25 a.m.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed The Daily Caller for posting an already-debunked photo purported to be her nude selfie
GOP have been losing their mind + frothing at the mouth all week, so this was just a matter of time.
There is also a Daily Mail reporter (Ruth Styles) going to my boyfriend's relative's homes+offering them cash for ''stories.''
Women in leadership face more scrutiny. Period. https://t.co/KuHJ75sdMg
'--@AOC 7:23 a.m.
Somehow the shutdown prevents Trump's AG nominee from meeting with senators '... but only the Democrats
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) said Wednesday that she was unable to get a meeting with Attorney General nominee William Barr before his confirmation hearing next week because of the government shutdown.
''I tried (as did Blumenthal) to get meeting w/AG nominee Barr and was told he couldn't meet until AFTER the hearing,'' Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted, referencing Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal. ''The reason given? The shutdown.''
Klobuchar added that the shutdown didn't prevent Barr from meeting with other senators. Among the senators Barr met with Wednesday were Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former Committee Chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa.)
7:13 a.m.
President Trump, 2019: ''Walls work. That's why rich, powerful, and successful people build them around their homes.'' Donald Trump, 2004:
I'll tell you, to me, the second-most important thing after love what you do is never, ever give up. Don't give up. Don't allow it to happen. If there's a concrete wall in front of you, go through it. Go over it. Go around it. But get to the other side of that wall.
'--Donald TrumpFrom his 2004 commencement address at Wagner College
2020 elections
Is the 2020 Dem Presidential Field Finally Shrinking Rather Than Expanding?
By Ed Kilgore
Tom Steyer's withdrawal is a good sign that everybody in America isn't running to face Donald Trump.
12:18 a.m.
A big payout in an overlooked, underpaid industry
On Wednesday, 15 of the companies authorized by the State Department to recruit young foreigners to provide low-cost child care in U.S. households reached a $65.5 million settlement in a class-action law suit filed by nearly a dozen au pairs in a Denver federal court.
The lawsuit alleged sponsor agencies kept wages artificially low and denied the workers overtime pay. The case was scheduled to proceed to trial on Feb. 25.
''Our argument was that they colluded together to keep their wages well below state and federal minimum wages, and [prospective au pairs] were being told by sponsor agencies that the wages were set and that there was no room to negotiate,'' Peter Skinner, a partner with Boies Schiller Flexner, which represented the au pairs, told NPR.
12:09 a.m.government shutdown
government shutdown
GOP Leaders Search for a Budget Deal as Trump Fumes, Stonewalls Democrats
By Matt Stieb
Republican senators are reportedly interested in trading wall funding for immigration reform, including protection of DACA and TPS.
1/9/2019
Mysterious Bursts 2020
Astronomers have detected 13 high-speed bursts of radio waves coming from deep space'--including one that regularly repeats. While the exact sources remain unknown, the new bevy of mysterious blasts does offer fresh clues to where and why such flashes appear across the cosmos.
Now, a team using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, has announced the additional 13 new detections, including an especially rare repeating burst. Until now, only one other repeating fast radio burst was known to exist.
The team also noticed that the structure of the new repeating burst is strikingly similar to the only other repeater ever found.
''The fact that we see these multiple structures in the burst was very similar to the first repeating fast radio burst. This is very uncommon,'' [study author Shriharsh Tendulkar] says. ''Now there is this tantalizing evidence that these bursts' structures are seen only in repeaters.'' That suggests that if more fast radio bursts are found with that structure, they may be prime candidates for also being repeaters.
1/9/2019
The National Enquirer '-- run by Trump confidante David Pecker '-- claims it will publish photos of an affair involving Jeff Bezos, an adversary of the president. Who might be the intended audience?
Given everything we know about how Pecker's National Enquirer has functioned as essentially an arm of Trumpworld, this prompts some questions:
https://t.co/aZI52OifyV '--@chrislhayes 1/9/2019
When the White House director of social media accidentally posts a pic with the boom mic showing
1/9/2019
Somehow this 1958 episode of the TV western Trackdown isn't a fake
What the fresh hell. This is REAL. Filmed in 1958- about a conman who grifts a small town of suckers into building a wall. History not subtle enough for you? GUESS THE GRIFTER'S NAME
(And watch until the end)
pic.twitter.com/6FA3p6KC00 '--@_alexhirsch 1/9/2019
GOP senators think that if they can get a budget proposal to pass in the Senate, Trump may be more likely to acquiesce
After Trump stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders, GOP senators privately gathered in Sen. Lindsey Graham's office Wednesday to discuss a way out of the logjam. The long-shot idea: propose an immigration deal that would include $5.7 billion for Trump's border wall along with several provisions that could entice Democrats.
Those items include changes to help those who are a part of the Deferred Action Childhood Arrival program as well as immigrants from El Salvador and other countries impacted by the Temporary Protected Status program '-- as well as modifications to H2B visas.
GOP senators pitched the idea to senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who said if they came up with a proposal that got Trump his border wall money and could pass the Senate, the White House would be open to more discussions on the matter, the source said. He did not say Trump would endorse such a plan.
The GOP senators '-- who include Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Rob Portman of Ohio and Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska '-- discussed the plan in a hastily arranged meeting Wednesday, with several of them now planning to propose the idea to Democrats to see if there's a enough support to break the logjam.
1/9/2019
A new study shows that pharmaceutical companies spend 70% more on marketing than they did in 1997
Drug makers and other healthcare companies spent almost $30 billion in a single year to influence the medical choices made by Americans and steer them toward treatments that were newer, vastly more expensive and sometimes riskier than their tried-and-true alternatives, new research shows.
The study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., offers the most comprehensive accounting of healthcare marketing efforts to date. It traces broad shifts in the media and regulatory environment in which health companies operate, as well as the drugs and services '-- including erectile dysfunction pills, DNA testing kits and robotic surgery services '-- they are keen to sell.
And it makes clear that while lawmakers and regulators have tried to counter the impact of healthcare marketing in recent years, the reforms have had little effect on an industry that accounts for nearly 18% of the country's gross domestic product.
1/9/2019
Massive public offerings like Uber and Lyft won't take a hit, but the shutdown could have major ramifications for the 2019 IPO market
The partial closure of the Securities and Exchange Commission is forcing companies that were seeking to list shares in January to push back their plans, according to bankers and lawyers.
Some companies that planned to launch IPOs late last year, including plant-based burger maker Beyond Meat Inc., pushed their offerings to early 2019 because of inhospitable markets and are now forced to wait out the shutdown. Gossamer Bio, which filed for an IPO in late December, and Alector, which did so on Monday, are among others in holding patterns. Blackstone had planned to launch an IPO in January for Alight Solutions, but the buyout firm's plan is on hold too.
Biotech companies, many of which tap public markets earlier to raise cash for drug development, could be put in the most perilous positions. Alan Denenberg, head of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP's Northern California office, said many biotech firms and small health-care companies are already looking for alternatives to an IPO in case the shutdown lasts longer than a month.
1/9/2019
At least one self-manufactured crisis seems to be coming to a close
China's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that its trade talks with the United States had concluded, and that results would soon be released.
Asian stocks jumped after the talks were extended for an unscheduled third day, fueling optimism that the world's largest economies can strike a trade deal to avoid an all-out confrontation that would severely disrupt the global economy.
If no deal is reached by March 2, Trump has said he will proceed with raising tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, at a time when China's economy is slowing significantly. Beijing has retaliated in turn to U.S. tariffs.
1/9/2019government shutdown
government shutdown
Trump Poised to Declare National Emergency After Failing to Show There Is One
By Ed Kilgore
The president seems to be going through the motions of negotiating, just like he went through the motions with his Oval Office speech.
1/9/2019
Eight Republicans side with Democrats in a House vote to reopen the Treasury without wall funding
The House passed a bill Wednesday evening that would reopen the Treasury Department and ensure that the IRS would remain funded.
The measure passed on a 240 to 188 vote, with eight Republicans breaking ranks to vote in favor of the bill.
A handful of Republicans also joined Democrats last week in voting for the measure as part of a broader package.
The legislation has no current path to passage. Trump has said he will not sign legislation reopening the government unless it includes taxpayer funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border '-- and both Trump and Vice President Pence have visited the Capitol this week urging GOP lawmakers to vote down any such Democratic proposals.
1/9/2019
After their divorce, Jeff Bezos could become the second richest man in the world, and MacKenzie Bezos the richest woman in the world
CNBC claims it could be the ''most expensive'' divorce in history, due in part to Washington state's divorce laws. Washington is a ''community property state,'' meaning that any and all property (and debt) amassed over the course of a marriage is evenly divided by the court if the couple can't negotiate an agreement.
In Bezos's case, this could mean that MacKenzie is entitled to half his fortune, or $69 billion '-- but only if the pair can't agree on a settlement on their own. This would make MacKenzie the world's richest woman, but Bezos would no longer be the richest person in the world. That title would go back to Bill Gates, whose net worth is an estimated $92.5 billion.
A settlement of that size would require Bezos to sell some of his 80 million Amazon shares, which in turn would dilute his ownership and control of the company. According to Recode, dividing assets in this way would mean that Bezos would own 8.15 percent of the company, but he still would own more than the next-largest shareholder, Vanguard, which owned 5.8 percent of the company's shares in 2017.
1/9/2019
Maybe it's the weird joke construction, or just the joke's glaring tone-deafness, but nobody laughed
''I'll bring you all up on charges under the Me Too movement.''
'--Governor Cuomo, asking a close scrum of reporters to back up 1/9/2019
A House investigation could come for Steve Mnuchin
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has agreed to deliver a classified briefing to U.S. House lawmakers on Thursday on his recent decision to lift sanctions on companies linked to a Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin ally, marking the start of an aggressive new focus on Mnuchin by newly empowered House Democrats, according to two top Democratic aides.
Because of [Mnuchin's] role in the campaign '-- and, most recently, the Dec. 19 announcement easing sanctions on companies aligned with Oleg Deripaska, the Putin ally with ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort '-- House Democrats believe Mnuchin should be a focus of and source of information for several planned investigations both related and unrelated to the Russia probe, according to the aides. These include examinations of Trump's finances and the business practices of the Trump Organization.
Among the questions Democrats are likely to ask Mnuchin at the briefing, according to aides: How much influence did the White House, and Trump personally, exert in Mnuchin's decision to lift sanctions?
life in pixels
Zuckerberg's 2019 Personal Challenge Is to Explain Why Facebook Is Good
By Max Read
Mark Zuckerberg's series of ''public discussions about technology'' is more likely to be a series of public defenses of his life's work.
1/9/2019
The marshals also protect and transport the jurors in the high-profile trial
Among the many federal employees who likely won't get their paycheck on Friday: the U.S. Marshals guarding El Chapo.
@LeonardGreene https://t.co/5bjcSEe38j '--@PPVSRB vision 2020
Progressive 2020 Hopefuls Are Courting Wall Street Cash
By Eric Levitz
But that doesn't necessarily mean they're secret centrists.
1/9/2019
If Steve King gets ousted from Congress, it is likely to be by someone from his own party
White supremacist Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) will have a Republican primary challenger next year.
Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra announced Wednesday that he will challenge King in the race to represent Iowa's 4th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.
Feenstra, a former emergency medical technician, is currently in his third term in the Iowa state Senate, where he serves as assistant majority leader.
News of his candidacy comes months after King narrowly secured a ninth consecutive term in Congress. King beat his Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten, by only three percentage points. It was a remarkably close race for the deeply conservative district, which King had routinely won by over 20 points in previous elections, and which President Donald Trump carried by 27 points in 2016.
1/9/2019
A meant-to-be-reassuring tweet from the FDA commissioner is not very reassuring
There's discussion today that we've ''stopped'' high risk food surveillance inspections. Fact: We're working to continue those inspections. It's true in 2013 shutdown, those inspections were stopped. We've taken a different posture based on sound public health and legal rationale.
'--@SGottliebFDA
Trump Will Resign from Office in 2019: Bush Adviser | PEOPLE.com
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 13:06
A former adviser for President George W. Bush has laid out one possible '-- and fast-approaching '-- end to the presidency of Donald Trump: He will be out of office by the end of the year, resigning so as to avoid criminal prosecution.
In a Tuesday column for NJ.com, Alan J. Steinberg '-- who served as an Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator under Bush '-- predicted that while there are not enough Congressional votes to remove Trump, he will resign in 2019 in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
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''The self-professed supreme dealmaker will use his presidency as a bargaining chip with federal and state authorities in 2019, agreeing to leave office in exchange for the relevant authorities not pursuing criminal charge against him, his children or the Trump Organization,'' predicted the political operative and pundit, who also advised former New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman.
Steinberg wrote that he believed Trump would turn to such an arrangement because both his historic unpopularity and the specter of an economic downturn make the chances of re-election in 2020 slim.
He went on to say that while Trump could easily be impeached by the House of Representatives, where the Democrats have once again taken control, it's ''highly unlikely'' enough Republicans senators would vote to convict and remove Trump from office.
''There are only two years left in Trump's presidential term,'' Steinberg wrote. ''With his approval ratings in an abysmal state, and the forthcoming recession making it near impossible for Trump to stage a political recovery, it appears most likely that he will use the continuation of his presidency as a bargaining chip.''
RELATED: What Nancy Pelosi Has to Say About Possibly Impeaching and Indicting President Trump
President Donald Trump
Olivier Douliery/picture-alliance/dpa/AP
While some Democratic lawmakers have vocally supported impeachment proceedings, such a move so far lacks broad political support.
Nancy Pelosi, who was just named the new speaker of the house, has said that she's not rushing that way.
It ''would be a sad thing for our country; it would be very divisive,'' she told Elle in an interview published on Wednesday.
The following day, Pelosi added during an interview on Today that her focus is on ''getting results for the American people,'' not removing the president from office.
''Let's just see what [Robert] Mueller does,'' she said of the special counsel probing ties between Russian officials and Trump's presidential campaign.
RELATED VIDEO: Michael Cohen Slams Trump in First Post-Sentencing Interview: 'The Man Doesn't Tell the Truth'
Critics' drumbeat for impeachment has grown louder since Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress about Trump's prior business dealings with Russia and making illegal ''hush money'' payments to women who claim to have had affairs with Trump.
Though the president has vigorously dismissed any such talk publicly, he has reportedly grown worried in recent months about being impeached.
''I did talk to a source close to the president who said earlier this evening that the president has expressed concern that he could be impeached,'' Jim Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent, told Anderson Cooper in December.
Most recently, on Friday '-- with the federal government shutdown nearing its third week '-- Trump expressed skepticism that impeachment could be in his future, highlighting (and exaggerating) his achievements.
''How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time, done nothing wrong (no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded), had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican in party history 93%?'' he wrote on Twitter.
''Things will settle down,'' Trump wrote in a separate message, contending that Democrats ''only want to impeach me because they know they can't win in 2020, too much success!''
RELATED: Everything You Can't Enjoy '-- the Parks, Museums and Panda Cam '-- as Government Shutdown Continues
The president's insistence on funding for a proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico led to the latest government shutdown, which began Dec. 22. Democrats, empowered by a decisive victory in last year's midterm elections, have dismissed Trump's demands.
In absence of a path forward, the shutdown could become the longest in American history, surpassing the previous record of 21 days in the '90s, under President Bill Clinton and a Republican-led Congress, according to CNN.
Did the networks get played by Trump's address? Either way, they failed. - Columbia Journalism Review
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 13:05
By Jon Allsop, CJR January 9, 2019 Photographer: Carlos Barria/Pool via BloombergDonald Trump's first Oval Office address to the nation last night was, as many predicted in advance, driven by false and misleading claims. It was also, as many predicted in advance, dull and repetitious. The president did not declare a national emergency; rather, he cycled through his deck of familiar anti-immigration talking points, doubled down on his border-wall plans, and moved the needle not a jot on his deadlocked negotiations with congressional Democrats. As Adam Sneed, an editor at CityLab, tweeted, the address was ''The national political equivalent of a meeting that could've been an email.''
Commentators who argued that the networks shouldn't carry the address in the first place claimed its anticlimactic nature vindicated them. ''The networks interrupted their entertainment fare for the lamest rerun on national television: Trump's immigration talking points,'' The Washington Post's Erik Wemple tweeted. ''Shame on you, networks,'' CUNY's Jeff Jarvis added, ''Shame on you.'' And Pod Save America's Dan Pfeiffer channeled many on the left when he said, ''The networks got played.'' Proponents of airing, including network bosses, don't agree'--the decision to go live, as the Post's Sarah Ellison and Paul Farhi report, was less a bet on the likely content of the speech than a reflection of its newsworthy timing on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown. As with its message on immigration, when it comes to the debate over airing Trump's lies, it's unlikely the address changed too many minds last night.
ICYMI: Trump's lies will be televised. Networks should fact-check them.
I wrote yesterday that, with that debate ongoing, the focus should turn to networks' plans to handle Trump's words. Not a single one CJR's staff saw offered an on-screen fact check in real time last night. Anchors and pundits did wrap reality around the address. Beforehand, for example, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow fact-checked'--and logic-checked'--the president's typical immigration rhetoric, separating it into falsehoods that would make sense if they were true and falsehoods that would not. After the address, CNN, whose panel included Toronto Star fact-checking maven Daniel Dale, ran chyrons contrasting Trump's statements and the facts under the typical punditry. And CNN, CBS, and others ran live analysis on their websites. That's all better than nothing. But more of an effort could have been made to put the truth right up on screen as Trump defied it. Doing so would have caught floating viewers who hopped over for the address, and disrupted the flow of the narrative Trump built from false premises. And it would have been perfectly doable given how predictable and pat Trump's lines were.
Nor was the fact-checking that did happen universally successful. The best way to rebut a lie remains open to debate. But the ''Trump:'... Fact:'...'' formula used by CNN, for example, is unduly balanced; it would be better to start the sentence ''Trump misstated that'...'' or simply to state the truth without repeating the lie at all. In its real-time online fact-check last night, the Post's team tried both those formulations in prominent subheadings such as ''The trade deal does not pay for the wall'' and ''Most imported heroin comes through legal points of entry.'' BuzzFeed went further still: rather than react to Trump's claims, it selected and posted its own stream of facts about the border. Much of what we saw from the networks was less compelling: ABC's on-air walking tour of its fact-checking department was, my colleague commented, ''bad television.''
After Trump delivered his dud, Bill Carter, an analyst for CNN and former Times reporter, tweeted that networks would be wise to learn a lesson from last night; Carter suggests they should tell the White House, ''That was a fraudulent request; forget asking for platform for your political posturing ever again.'' Networks obviously aren't going to take that advice. If that means they'll have plenty more opportunities to try something different going forward, last night was not an encouraging sign of change.
Below, more on Trump's address:
Did Trump get played? Part I: In an off-the-record lunch with television anchors yesterday, Trump made the extraordinary admission that he thought his address and subsequent visit to Texas (slated for tomorrow) would be a waste of time, the Times's Peter Baker reports. ''The trip was merely a photo opportunity, he said. 'But,' he added, gesturing at his communications aides Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kellyanne Conway, 'these people behind you say it's worth it.'''Did Trump get played? Part II: In the run-up to his address, Trump leaned heavily on the advice of hardline Fox News boosters Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs, The Daily Beast's Asawin Suebsaeng, Spencer Ackerman, Lachlan Markay, and Maxwell Tani report. Hannity was busy spinning Trump's address on Fox last night, repeatedly emphasizing deaths allegedly caused by undocumented immigrants.Did viewers get played? Times TV critic James Poniewozik says viewers paid the price for the prime-time wall debate. ''What there was not, after two days of media drama, was a convincing argument for why this needed to be a prime-time event at all,'' Poniewozik writes. ''There was no news. There was no new argument. There was just a wall of sound, and the American viewing audience paid for it.''Did Manafort get played? After lawyers for Paul Manafort neglected to redact a damning court filing, journalists found out yesterday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller suspects Manafort of sharing polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate tied to Russian intelligence, during the 2016 presidential election. Trump's address shunted the story from the spotlight somewhat, though some network anchors and pundits tied it back into coverage of his speech.Did Chuck and Nancy get played? The AP and the Times also fact-checked the rebuttal by Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, which networks also carried live. The AP notably tempered the Democrats' claim that Trump is at fault for this shutdown: ''Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for his border wall is one reason for the budget impasse. The Democrats refusal to approve the money is another.''Other notable stories:
Kyle Pope, CJR's editor and publisher, has eight tips for reporters covering the 2020 presidential race, which swung into gear with Elizabeth Warren's New Year's Eve declaration. Among other things, Pope says, journalists should ignore atmospherics, make policy come alive, throw out their crystal balls, and end the industry ''group hug.''Pelin 'nker, a Turkish journalist who worked on ICIJ's Paradise Papers investigation into offshore financial structures, has been sentenced to 13 months in prison for her reporting on the package, ICIJ's Fergus Shiel writes. A judge ruled that 'nker's story for Cumhuriyet, about the Malta-based companies of Turkey's former prime minister, Binali Yildirim, and two of his sons, was defamatory and insulting. ICIJ condemned the verdict.Mark Zuckerberg yesterday announced his New Year's resolution to hold more public discussions around the societal issues facing tech (here's hoping it doesn't go the same way as his 2018 resolution to fix Facebook). Users who resolved to delete the Facebook app in 2019 might find that they can't, at least if they own a Samsung phone, Bloomberg's Sarah Frier reports. And for CJR, Mathew Ingram writes that Facebook and other digital services should be concerned by a lawsuit, currently working its way through New York courts, seeking to hold Grindr, a hook-up app for gay men, accountable for the predatory behavior of a user.In Germany, a 20-year-old exploited weak passwords, such as ''1234,'' to hack Chancellor Angela Merkel and other public figures'--and went a month without detection, the Times's Melissa Eddy reports.T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers' location data, which can then be resold into shady hands, Motherboard's Joseph Cox reports. ''Motherboard's investigation shows just how exposed mobile networks and the data they generate are, leaving them open to surveillance by ordinary citizens, stalkers, and criminals, and comes as media and policy makers are paying more attention than ever to how location and other sensitive data is collected and sold,'' Cox writes.And CJR published an excerpt of technology researcher An Xiao Mina's book, Memes to Movements: How the World's Most Viral Media Is Changing Social Protest and Power. The excerpt focuses on how Chinese citizens went online to combat official censorship and misinformation around Beijing's heavy pollution problem.ICYMI: How Der Spiegel was deceived by a fabulist
Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today. Jon Allsop is a freelance journalist. He writes CJR's newsletter The Media Today. Find him on Twitter @Jon_Allsop.Featured a Thursday, Jan 10th, 2019 By Matthew KasselDouglas Burns, a fourth-generation journalist, is co-owner of the Daily Times Herald in Carroll, Iowa, a newspaper that has been in his family since 1929. He writes a regular column, ''Taking Note,'' for the Times Herald editorial page, and he...
If Your Privacy Is in the Hands of Others Alone, You Don't Have Any | Linux Journal
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 13:03
If you think regulations are going to protect your privacy, you're wrong. In fact they can make things worse, especially if they start with the assumption that your privacy is provided only by other parties, most of whom are incentivized to violate it.
Exhibit A for how much worse things can get is the EU's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). As soon as the GDPR went into full effect last May, damn near every corporate entity on the Web put up a ''cookie notice'' requiring acceptance of terms and privacy policies that allow them to continue with business as usual, harvesting and sharing your personal data, and data about you.
For websites and services in that harvesting business (a population that rounds to the whole commercial web), these notices provide a one-click way to adhere to the letter of the GDPR while violating its spirit.
There's also big business in the friction that produces. To see how big, look up GDPR+compliance on Google. You'll get 190 million results (give or take a few dozen million).
None of those results are for you, even though you are who the GDPR is supposed to protect. See, to the GDPR, you are a mere ''data subject'' and not an independent and fully functional participant in the technical, social and economic ecosystem the internet supports by design. All privacy protections around your data are the burden of other parties.
Or at least that's the interpretation that nearly every lawmaker, regulatory bureaucrat, lawyer and service provider goes by. (One exception is Elizabeth Renieris @hackylawyer. Her collection of Medium postings are required reading on the GDPR and much else.) Same goes for those selling GDPR compliance services, comprising most of those 190 million GDPR+compliance search results.
The clients of those services include nearly every website and service on Earth that harvests personal data. These entities have no economic incentive to stop harvesting, sharing and selling personal data the usual ways, beyond fear that the GDPR might actually be enforced, which so far (with few exceptions), it hasn't been. (See Without enforcement, the GDPR is a fail.)
Worse, the tools for ''managing'' your exposure to data harvesters are provided entirely by the websites you visit and the services you engage. The "choices" they provide (if they provide any at all) are between 1) acquiescence to them doing what they please and 2) a maze of menus full of checkboxes and toggle switches "controlling" your exposure to unknown threats from parties you've never heard of, with no way to record your choices or monitor effects.
So let's explore just one site's presentation, and then get down to what it means and why it matters.
Our example is https://www.mirror.co.uk. If you haven't clicked on that site already, you'll see a cookie notice that says,
We use cookies to help our site work, to understand how it is used, and to tailor the adverts presented on our site. By clicking ''Accept'' below, you agree to us doing so. You can read more in our cookie notice. Or, if you do not agree, you can click Manage below to access other choices.
They don't mention that ''tailor the adverts'' really means something like this:
We open your browser to infestation by tracking beacons from countless parties in the online advertising business, plus who-knows-what-else that might be working with those parties (there is no way to tell, and if there was we wouldn't provide it), so those parties and their "partners" can use those beacons to follow you like a marked animal everywhere you go and report your activities back to a vast marketplace where personal data about you is shared, bought and sold, much of it in real time, supposedly so your eyeballs can be hit with "relevant" or "interest-based" advertising as you travel from site to site and service to service. While we are sure there are bad collateral effects (fraud and malware, for example), we don't care about those because it's our business to get paid just just for clicks or "impressions," whether you're impressed or not'--and the odds that you won't be impressed average to certain.
Okay, so now click on the ''Manage'' button.
Up will pop a rectangle where it says "Here you can control cookies, including those for advertising, using the buttons below. Even if you turn off the advertising related cookies, you will still see adverts on our site, because they help us to fund it. However, those adverts will simply be less relevant to to you. You can learn more about cookies in our Cookie Notice on the site."
Under that text, in the left column, are six ''Purposes of data collection'', all defaulted with little check marks to ON (though only five of them show, giving the impression that there are only those five). The right column is called ''Our partners'', and it shows the first five of what turn out to be 259 companies, nearly all of which are not brands known to the world or to anybody outside the business (and probably not known widely within the business as well). All are marked ON by that little check mark. Here's that list, just through the letter A:
1020, Inc. dba Placecast and Ericsson Emodo1plusX AG2KDirect, Inc. (dba iPromote)33Across7Hops.com Inc. (ZergNet)A Million Ads LimitedA.MobAccorp Sp. z o.o.Active Agent AGad6mediaADARA MEDIA UNLIMITEDAdClear GmbHAdello Group AGAdelphic LLCAdform A/SAdikteevADITION technologies AGAdkernel LLCAdloox SAADMAN '' Phaistos Networks, S.A.ADman Interactive SLAdMaxim Inc.Admedo Ltdadmetrics GmbHAdmotion SRLAdobe Advertising CloudAdRoll Incadrule mobile GmbHAdSpirit GmbHadsquare GmbHAdssets ABAdTheorent, IncAdTiming Technology Company LimitedADUXadvanced store GmbHADventori SASAdverlineADYOULIKE SAAerserv LLCaffilinetAmobee, Inc.AntVoiceApester LtdAppNexus Inc.ARMIS SASAudiens S.r.l.Avid Media LtdAvocet Systems LimitedIf you bother to ''manage'' any of this, what record do you have of it'--or of all the other collections of third parties who you've agreed to follow you around? Remember, there are a different collection of these at every website with third parties that track you, and different UIs, each provided by other third parties.
It might be easier to discover and manage parasites in your belly than cookies in your browser.
Think I exaggerate? The long list of cookies in just one of my browsers (which I had to dig deep to find) starts with this list:
1rx.io247-inc.net2mdn.net33across.com360yield.com3lift.com4finance.comAfter several hundred others, my cookie list ends with:
zencdn.netzoom.uszopim.comI know what zoom is. The rest are a mystery to me.
To look at just that first one, 1rx.io, I have to dig way down in the basement of the preferences directory (in Chrome it's chrome://settings/cookies/detail?site=1rx.io), where I find that its locally stored data is this:
_rxuuid
Name_rxuuidContent%7B%22rx_uuid%22%3A%22RX-2b58f1b1-96a4-4e1d-9de8-3cb1ca4175b0%22%2C%22nxtrdr%22%3Afalse%7DDomain.1rx.ioPath/Send forAny kind of connectionAccessible to scriptNo (HttpOnly)CreatedWednesday, December 12, 2018 at 4:48:53 AMExpiresThursday, December 12, 2019 at 4:48:53 AM
I'm a somewhat technical guy, and at least half of that stuff means nothing to me.
As for ''managing'' those, my only choice on that page is to ''Remove All''. Does that mean remove everything on that page alone or all the cookies everywhere? And how can I remember that I removed it?
Obviously there is no way for anybody to ''manage'' this, in any meaningful sense of the word.
We also can't fix it on the sites and services side, no matter how much those sites and services care (which most don't) about the ''customer journey'', the ''customer experience'' or any of the other bullshit they're buying from marketers this week.
Even within the CRM (customer relationship management) world, the B2B customers of Oracle and Salesforce use one cloud and one set of tools to create as many different ''experiences'' for users and customers as there are companies deploying those tools to manage customer relationships from their side. There are no corresponding tools on our side. (Though there is work going on. See here.)
So the digital world remains one where we have no common or standard way to scale our privacy and data usage tools, choices or experiences across all sites and services. And that's what we'll need if we want real privacy online.
The simple place where we need to start is this: privacy is personal, meaning something we create for ourselves (which in the natural world we do with clothing and shelter, both of which lack equivalents in the digital world).
And we need to be clear that privacy is not a grace of privacy policies and terms of service that differ with every company and over which none of us have true control'--especially when there is an entire industry devoted to making those companies untrustworthy, even if they are in full compliance with privacy laws.
Devon Loffreto (who coined the term self-sovereign identity and whose good work we'll be visiting in an upcoming issue of Linux Journal) puts the issue in simple geek terms: we need root authority over our lives. Hashtag: #OwnRoot.
It is only by owning root that we can crank up agency on the individual's side. We have a perfect base for that in the standards and protocols that gave us the Internet, the Web, email and too little else. And we need it here too. Soon.
We (a few colleagues and I) created Customer Commons as a place for terms that individuals can proffer as first parties, just by pointing at them, much as licenses at Creative Commons can be pointed at. Sites and services can agree to those terms, and both can keep records and follow audit trails.
And there are some good signs that this will happen. For example, the IEEE approached Customer Commons last year with the suggestion that we stand up a working group for machine readable personal privacy terms. It's called P7012. If you'd like to join, please do.
Unless we #OwnRoot for our own lives online, privacy will remain an empty promise by a legion of violators.
One more thing. We can put the GDPR to our use if we like. That's because Article 4 of the GDPR defines a data controller as ''the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data'...'' This means each of us can be our own data controller. Most lawyers dealing with the GDPR don't agree with that. They think the individual data subject will always need a fiduciary or an intermediary of some kind: an agent of the individual, but not an individual with agency. Yet the simple fact is that we should have root authority over our lives online, and that means we should have some degree of control over our data exposures, and how our data, and data about us, is used'--much as we do over how we control or moderate our privacy in the physical world. More about all that in upcoming posts.
The original version of this post was published on the Private Internet Access blog. Private Internet Access and Linux Journal are both holdings of London Trust Media. See the Privacy Manifesto there. I maintain it and welcome bug fixes. It's also new, so be gentle. :-)
U.S. Downgraded E.U.'s Diplomatic Status (but Didn't Say Anything) - The New York Times
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:59
Europe | U.S. Downgraded E.U.'s Diplomatic Status (but Didn't Say Anything) Image Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a provocative speech in Brussels on Dec. 4 in which he questioned the value of multinational organizations like the United Nations and the European Union. Credit Credit Pool photo by Francisco Seco BRUSSELS '-- The Trump administration downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union's delegation to the United States last year without making a formal announcement or informing the bloc about the change, a European official said on Tuesday.
After protest from Brussels and discussion between the European Union and the Trump administration, the reclassification of the delegation and the consequent demotion of the ambassador, David O'Sullivan, is understood to have been reversed, at least temporarily, the official said.
Mr. Trump has been critical of multilateral institutions, and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, delivered a provocative speech in Brussels on Dec. 4 in which he questioned the value of multinational organizations and institutions like the United Nations and the European Union. Mr. Pompeo then asked whether the European Union was ''ensuring that the interests of countries and their citizens are placed before those of bureaucrats here in Brussels.''
The next day, the European Union's demotion from a member state to an international organization became clear at the funeral of President George Bush, when Mr. O'Sullivan's name was not called in the expected order, dictated by diplomatic protocols. The names of diplomats who had gathered in Washington to pay their respects were spoken, as is custom, from the longest-serving to the newest ambassador, a European Union official told the German news agency Deutsche Welle. ''But he was called up as the last person.''
Before the demotion, Mr. O'Sullivan, who has been ambassador to Washington since 2014, would have been ranked among the first 20 or 30 ambassadors of the more than 150 foreign representatives in Washington.
News of the change was first reported by Deutsche Welle.
''We understand there was a change in the way the diplomatic precedence list is implemented by the United States protocol, and we are currently discussing with relevant services in the administration possible implications for the E.U. delegation in Washington,'' said Maja Kocijancic, the European Union's chief spokeswoman for foreign affairs. ''But ultimately this question should be directed to the U.S. administration.''
The United States Embassy in Brussels said it would consult with Washington before responding.
Mr. Trump has made little secret of his antipathy toward the European Union, which he described in July as a ''foe'' of the United States when it comes to trade.
Image Before the demotion, David O'Sullivan, who has been ambassador to Washington since 2014, would have been ranked among the first 20 or 30 ambassadors of more than 150 envoys in Washington. Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images As Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain was scrambling in November to win support for an agreement with the European Union on her country's withdrawal, Mr. Trump derisively referred to the deal as ''great'' for the bloc and said that it could prevent the United States from reaching a free-trade accord with Britain.
Those remarks came a month after Mr. Trump, in an interview on ''60 Minutes,'' said that ''The European Union was formed in order to take advantage of us on trade, and that's what they've done.'' (The bloc was, in fact, created to expand cooperation, establish European citizenship and introduce a single monetary policy).
The European Union is expected to select a new ambassador to Washington soon, and it is not yet clear what status that envoy will have.
''The downgrade symbolizes the contempt the U.S. president has shown for the E.U. and its supranationalist nature,'' said Daniela Schwarzer, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.
''In contrast to previous American administrations, the Trump administration has actively tried to undermine E.U. unity, on trade policy, for instance, which is a supranational E.U. competence,'' Ms. Schwarzer said.
Trying to weaken the European Union may seem to Mr. Trump as an ''opportunity to maximize short-term gains for the U.S.,'' she said. And as Brussels tries to strengthen its international role, again in reaction to Mr. Trump, she said, ''a lack of recognition by key partners that the E.U. is more than just an international organization, or even a withdrawal of that recognition, undermines these efforts.''
Ian Lesser, director of the German Marshall Fund office in Brussels, characterized the decision as ''the latest in a series of negative signals from the administration regarding the place of the E.U. in the international order.''
''It is very much in line with the tough language from Secretary Pompeo in his recent Brussels speech,'' he said. ''Washington focuses on states and national sovereignty and the E.U. does not fit easily in this vision.''
The Trump administration has also been threatening a trade war with Brussels and the 28 member states of the bloc, insisting that a trade deficit in goods of about $150 billion a year needs to be reduced sharply. (Washington has a trade surplus in services with Brussels.) The move may be a way to increase pressure on Brussels to make more concessions in trade negotiations over steel, aluminum and cars.
Follow Steven Erlanger on Twitter: @StevenErlanger.
Milan Schreuer contributed reporting.
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Frontier Airlines now encouraging passengers to tip flight attendants | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:57
Budget-friendly Frontier Airlines wants passengers to TIP flight attendants - but labor unions argue workers should be paid more insteadDenver-based Frontier Airlines instituted a new tipping option for passengersThe budget-friendly airline began accepting voluntary contributions for flight attendants January 1Frontier said it will no longer require flight attendants to pool their contributionsAssociation of Flight Attendants International President Sara Nelson said the union is opposed to the new system The union represents 50,000 attendants for 20 airlines, according to its website Frontier has become the first airline to accept individual gratuity on its flightsByJessa Schroeder For Dailymail.com
Published: 22:59 EST, 9 January 2019 | Updated: 01:25 EST, 10 January 2019
Frontier Airlines has instituted a tipping method allowing passengers to leave individual contributions for flight attendants.
The budget-friendly airline began accepting voluntary contributions on January 1, when a message was first issued via a digital payment tablet that said: 'Gratuities Are Appreciated!'
Travel blogger JT Genter shared a photo of the checkout screen showing the option to provide an automatic 15 percent, 20 percent and 25 percent tip, or to customize it.
Frontier confirmed it will no longer require flight attendants to pool their contributions and will accept personal tips from customers ordering food and beverages.
Denver-based Frontier Airlines is encouraging passengers to leave individual tips for flight attendants. Travel blogger JT Genter shared this photo of the new tipping method
Frontier became the first airline to accept gratuity on flights
'We appreciate the great work of our flight attendants and know that our customers do as well, so (the payment tablet) gives passengers the option to tip,' Frontier spokesman Jonathan Freed said in a statement over the weekend.
'It's entirely at the customer's discretion, and many do it.'
Association of Flight Attendants International President Sara Nelson said the union is opposed to the tipping method - arguing that attendants are responsible for much more than simply serving passengers a snack and beverage.
'Regardless of the tip issue, Frontier Airlines needs to step up and pay aviation's first responders a wage that recognizes their critical safety role onboard,' Nelson told the Los Angeles Times.
'We view tips as additional compensation over and above flight attendants' contractual wages.'
Association of Flight Attendants International President Sara Nelson (pictured in Washington, DC in May) said the union is opposed to the tipping method. She said: 'Frontier Airlines needs to step up and pay aviation's first responders a wage that recognizes their critical safety role onboard'
The Association of Flight Attendants, or AFA, represents 50,000 attendants for 20 airlines, according to its website.
AFA serves 'as a voice for flight attendants at their workplace, in the industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill.
'Simply put, the goal of flight attendants who become part of AFA-CWA is to negotiate better pay, benefits, working conditions and work rules at their airline, and to improve their safety on the job,' its website said.
Frontier became the first airline to accept gratuity on its flights, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The airline instituted the option to tip three years ago, but contributions were evenly distributed between in-flight crew up until the New Year.
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Move aside, backseat driver! New tech at CES monitors you inside car | Reuters
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:56
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - As vehicles get smarter, your car will be keeping eyes on you.
This week at CES, the international consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, a host of startup companies will demonstrate to global automakers how the sensor technology that watches and analyzes drivers, passengers and objects in cars will mean enhanced safety in the short-term, and revenue opportunities in the future.
Whether by generating alerts about drowsiness, unfastened seat belts or wallets left in the backseat, the emerging technology aims not only to cut back on distracted driving and other undesirable behavior, but eventually help automakers and ride-hailing companies make money from data generated inside the vehicle.
In-car sensor technology is deemed critical to the full deployment of self-driving cars, which analysts say is still likely years away in the United States. Right now, self-driving cars are still mainly at the testing stage.
The more sophisticated in-car monitoring also could respond to concerns that technology that automates some '' but not all '' driving tasks could lead motorists to stop paying attention and not be ready to retake control should the situation demand it.
When self-driving cars gain broad acceptance, the monitoring cameras and the artificial-intelligence software behind them will likely be used to help create a more customized ride for the passengers. Right now, however, such cameras are being used mainly to enhance safety, not unlike a helpful backseat driver.
Interior-facing cameras inside the car are still a novelty, currently found only in the 2018 Cadillac (GM.N ) CT6. Audi (VOWG_p.DE ) and Tesla Inc (TSLA.O ) have developed systems but they are not currently activated. Mazda (7261.T ), Subaru (9778.T ) and electric vehicle start-up Byton are introducing cars for 2019 whose cameras measure driver inattention. Startup Nauto's camera and AI-based tech is used by commercial fleets.
Data from the cameras is analyzed with image recognition software to determine whether a driver is looking at his cellphone or the dashboard, turned away, or getting sleepy, to cite a few examples.
Companies such as Israel's Guardian Optical Technologies and eyeSight Technologies, Silicon Valley's Eyeris Technologies Inc, Sweden's Smart Eye AB SEYE.ST, Australia's Seeing Machines Ltd (M2Z.L ), and Vayyar Imaging Ltd, another Israeli company using radar instead of vision, are crowding the space. Many have already signed undisclosed deals for production year 2020 and beyond.
It is not yet clear how consumers in the age of Facebook Inc (FB.O ) and virtual assistants like Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN.O ) Alexa will react to the potentially disconcerting idea of being watched - then warned - inside a vehicle, especially as cars become living rooms with the advent of self-driving.
''There's no doubt this is a hot area,'' said Modar Alaoui, founder and CEO of Eyeris, in a recent interview. His company combines five 2D cameras with AI technology for ''in-vehicle scene understanding,'' including car occupants' height, weight, gender and posture.
Alaoui believes once automakers see the benefits of a camera tracking the driver, they will opt for more.
Automakers are paying attention for multiple reasons. As Guardian Optical CEO Gil Dotan said, ''What automakers want is what either sells cars, or what regulators tell them to do.''
Occupants, inside a car, are seen on a monitor using technology by Silicon Valley company Eyeris, which uses cameras and AI to track drivers and passengers for safety benefits, shown during an interview in San Jose, California, U.S., December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Alexandria SageRegulators like the technology at its most basic. Eye tracking can determine if a driver is not paying attention, or worse, is asleep. That will become essential as cars become more autonomous, for ''Level 3'' autonomy where the car handles most driving but returns control to the driver in trickier situations.
European car safety rating program Euro NCAP has proposed that cars with driver monitoring for 2020 should earn higher ratings. In the wake of a 2016 fatal Tesla crash, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board recommended automakers develop means to better track driver engagement.
But automakers are more excited by the revenue possibilities when vehicle-generated data creates a more customized experience for riders, generating higher premiums, and lucrative tie-ins with third parties, such as retailers.
''The reason (the camera) is going to sweep across the cabin is not because of distraction ... but because of all the side benefits,'' said Mike Ramsey, Gartner's automotive research director. ''I promise you that companies that are trying to monetize data from the connected car are investigating ways to use eye-tracking technology.''
DATA BRINGS TIE-INS
Potential uses go way beyond mere tracking of a driver's gaze. The future of the technology rests in deciphering what a vehicle occupant wants, then fusing that with other technologies in order to create a more personalized ride.
''The more you know about the user, the more you're able to fulfill his or her needs,'' said Eric Montague, senior director of strategy for Nuance Automotive. Nuance's connected car platform mixes eye-tracking technology, voice recognition and even emotion analysis, from a company called Affectiva.
Analysis from driver monitoring technology could help turn on the heat, lower the seat or play a certain kind of music when a particular occupant enters the car. If a passenger looks toward the dashboard, a certain control could light up to help anticipate a need.
Carmakers could gather anonymized data and sell it. A billboard advertiser might be eager to know how many commuters look at his sign, Ramsey said.
Tracking the gaze of a passenger toward a store or restaurant could, fused with mapping and other software, result in a discount offered to that person.
Companies say automakers will decide how the metadata is used, but consumers will be able to opt out.
Some still see interior cameras as a bad idea, however. Vayyar uses radar that tracks head movements without cameras. Cars are still considered private zones, said CEO and cofounder Raviv Melamed, who pointed to how many people perform personal tasks in their cars.
''They think they're in their own living room, they behave like they're not outside! It's obvious no one wants a camera,'' Melamed said.
Modar Alaoui, the founder and CEO of Silicon Valley startup Eyeris, which will be showcasing its technology at the Las Vegas CES international technology conference, points to an interior camera used for driver monitoring and in-vehicle scene understanding, during an interview in San Jose, California, U.S., December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Alexandria SageTesla owners have speculated about the Model 3's currently inoperational interior camera, with some asking in forums whether ''Big Brother'' was watching.
''Put a small piece of scotch tape on it ... and you can nose pick again ...'' advised one post.
Reporting by Alexandria Sage in Las Vegas; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Matthew Lewis
Super-gonorrhoea spread causes 'deep concern' - BBC News
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:55
Image copyright Getty Images Two women in the UK have been infected with super-gonorrhoea, sparking deep concern from sexual health doctors.
A European "party destination" is one line of inquiry and health officials are trying to contact subsequent sexual partners in the UK.
Both women have since been cured of their infections, which were resistant to the main therapy.
Public Health England encouraged people to use condoms with new and casual partners.
One of the women appears to have been infected in mainland Europe. The other acquired the infection in the UK, but this case also has strong links to Europe.
Dr Nick Phin, from Public Health England, said it was "unfair" to say super-gonorrhoea was currently circulating in the UK.
But he told the BBC: "It really brings home the message that these organisms will spread globally and you can get them in the UK."
What is gonorrhoea? Image copyright CAVALLINI JAMES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY The disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
The infection is spread by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.
Symptoms can include a thick green or yellow discharge from sexual organs, pain when urinating and bleeding between periods.
However, vaginal and rectal infections often have no symptoms.
An untreated infection can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and can be passed on to a child during pregnancy.
There is no personal connection or established chain of sexual partners that links the two women.
But both were infected with a version of gonorrhoea that was resistant to the first choice antibiotics - a combination of azithromycin and ceftriaxone.
The cases were not related to the "world's worst case", which was detected in the UK in 2018 after a trip to South East Asia.
Dr Phin said: "We tried to follow up contacts as much as possible, but it can be difficult - particularly if people don't have details you can contact them with.
"It is possible there may be other cases, these are definitely the first two we have picked up and at the moment there are two."
The bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoea has rapidly developed resistance to new antibiotics.
There have been growing levels of super-gonorrhoea around the world with similar cases reported in Japan, Canada and Australia.
Dr Olwen Williams, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said: "We are deeply concerned by these new developments."
Paddy Horner, from the University of Bristol, told the BBC: "We've got to wait and see what happens over next few months and whether more cases appear, but it is only a matter of time before it arrives in the UK.
"When people mix sexually it can spread quite rapidly and the concern is this could become established - if not from this infection, then one in the future.
Follow James on Twitter.
Mom Tells Neighbors Her 9-Year-Old Daughter Could Help Them Do Chores, Cops Arrive With Child Labor Concerns - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:55
Mom Tells Neighbors Her 9-Year-Old Daughter Could Help Them Do Chores, Cops Arrive With Child Labor Concerns "Apparently the ad generated multiple phone calls from paranoid neighbors thinking I was using my child as a slave."Lenore Skenazy | Jan. 9, 2019 12:01 pm
Via Christina Behar A mother in Woodinville, Washington, posted an advertisement on behalf of her 9-year-old daughter, Sarah, who was willing to do housework'--laundry, dishes, etc.'--for neighborhood moms who needed help. Six hours later, the cops showed up to make sure Sarah wasn't being abused or worked to death.
That's according to Christina Behar, Sarah's mom, who wrote me a letter about the incident.
"Apparently the ad generated multiple phone calls from paranoid neighbors thinking I was using my child as a slave," wrote Behar.
This should spark some discussion of what we lose when we treat kids as incompetent or endangered, even though they're quite ready to take on some responsibility in "the real world." As that New York Times piece on the relentless demands of modern parenting made clear, many of us, wealthy or not, spend a whole lot of time and cash on our kids' extracurricular "enrichment." Let's remember that making some money, dealing with some challenges, and assuming some responsibility are enriching childhood activities, too.
Here is Behar's letter in full:
Dear Lenore:
My husband and I have three kids ages 9, 7 and 5. We have always tried to raise them to be independent and let them play outside for hours in our family-friendly suburban neighborhood outside of Seattle, walk alone to the neighbors, and have taught them how to cook, clean, do laundry and other household chores that we deem age appropriate. Inspired by your book [Free-Range Kids] I posted an ad on our neighborhood website advertising my daughter as a mother's helper. Moms often ask me for her help and I figured I would take your advice and reach out to others in my neighborhood I may not know. This was the ad:
Mother's Helper
Hello! My almost 10-year old is available as a mother's helper. She is the oldest of three and is quite capable. She can fold and put away laundry, sweep, set tables, clean dishes, take out the trash, make beds, vacuum, make light meals, and keep your kiddo busy. We are a homeschool family so she has a flexible schedule. Please message me if you are interested in meeting with us.
Six hours later the Sheriff was knocking on our door. He was embarrassed and apologetic but said he had to do a welfare to check to make sure I wasn't running a sweat shop! Apparently the ad generated multiple phone calls from paranoid neighbors thinking I was using my child as a slave.
You know I was thinking about it today'--I was working in a church nursery with infants at nine years old, babysitting alone by 11, I had a paper route at 12, and was living on my own working almost full-time and going to college at 17. All those things would probably violate our state's child labor laws today.
It's a shame that our culture has resorted to this paranoia. It's robbing our children of the pride that learning skills and hard work bring.
I'm keeping the ad up.
I wrote back to Behar asking about her own reaction to this experience. She responded:
I was shocked that a friendly ad for a child wanting to help a neighbor generated multiple calls to the police and resulted in an actual visit by an officer. Fortunately, in our case, he was sympathetic, although he did leave with a warning that I should never post anything about my child wanting payment for her services.
But my ad was no different than the fliers I made 20 years ago with my friends offering yard work or babysitting. What if I had mentioned compensation? Would Child Protective Services be investigating me then? When I told a few fellow mommy-friends about our surprise visit, I felt judged. I was met with silence or questions like, "Would you actually leave your kid at a stranger's house?"
The knee-jerk distrust of all adults around all kids is a hallmark of our times. Where we could see verve, we see vulnerability. Where we could see neighbors helping neighbors we imagine the worst. Where we could see kids growing up with confidence and competence, we see a rising tide of anxiety.
Letting kids do some work for money isn't making them into slaves. It's making them into adults. That shouldn't be a crime.
Photo Credit: Via Christina Behar
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Top 10 Worst Helicopter Parenting Moments of 2018Lenore Skenazy | 12.13.18
Florida Company Sells Ankle Monitors to Parents Who Want to Track Their TeensLenore Skenazy | 12.11.18
Is Michelle Obama Plotting to Take the White House in 2020?
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:53
Recently, the mainstream media gleefully reported something that many at first dismissed, quickly passing it off as nothing more than a transient morsel of cultural trivia, if not fake news.
Allegedly, a recent Gallup Poll not only bestowed upon Michelle Obama the honor of being The Most Admired Woman in 2018,but also thereby declared her to be more popular than Hillary and Oprah!
I would suggest this news might represent an ominous bellwether of measurable import to all of us who are hoping to see President Trump elected to a second term.
In politics, 2020 is but a blink away, and who will be anointed by the Democrats to challenge President Trump is being decided right now. And I promise you, they are considering Michelle Obama a possibility.
Back in May 2016, I published an op-ed entitled: Overlooking the Obvious, if Hillary is Indicted? In that editorial, I attempted to alert people in the late spring of that election year to the possibility that '--in the event Hillary Clinton was indicted for the felonies she committed in connection with her infamous private email server'-- Michelle Obama stood an excellent chance of becoming the candidate who would be chosen by the DNC to replace Hillary at their National Convention in July.
In pertinent part, I argued:
''From a progressive point of view, Michelle is a popular, educated, black, liberal female. Translation? She is most probably more appealing to almost all significantly relevant demographic groups than either Biden or Kerry could ever hope to be. Demographics that could foreseeably unite Hillary's supporters with Bernie's and, perhaps even lure some ''crossovers'' back from Trump. As such, would she not provide a clearer path by which her presently fractured party could effectively unite and ultimately defeat Trump? Probably.
''Additionally, Michelle's anointing would also present significant personal benefits to the Obamas. At minimum, Michelle would present the best of all options for the President [Obama] to protect, if not guarantee, the continuation of his legacy. Surely, if elected, would she not foreseeably continue unabated the advancement of much, if not most, of his present Administration's liberal Supreme Court, immigration, LGBT, pro-choice and anti-Israel agendas? Almost certainly.''
Of course, none of this transpired in 2016, and for that, I was as glad as I was made later by Hillary's defeat.
That does not mean that Michelle's candidacy for the presidency should be dismissed as impossible today, however.
The reality is that those same reasons given in 2016 as to why the Democrats might find her nomination ideal remain as valid today as they were back then, if not more so.
And all that is before one considers the considerable support her candidacy could receive today from:
1.The many people in this country who so single-mindedly desire to see a female elected president in their lifetime regardless of her aptitude or qualifications;
2.The mainstream media that is already wholeheartedly committed to endorsing and promoting anyone who could possibly defeat the current president they so passionately hate; and, needless to say,
3. All those from the first Obama presidency who may have a vested interest in finding some way to forestall the unsealing of rumored indictments for little things like treason and other related felonies.
The indisputability of these facts should, at at the very least, give the president and his supporters cause to keep a close watch on Michelle's present public activities.
Only last summer the former FLOTUS was busy enlisting some of her anti-Trump, celebrity friends '-- including ''Hamilton'' creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, singers Janelle Mone and Faith Hill, and actor Tom Hanks '-- to help her launch a supposedly ''nonpartisan'' voter-registration campaign called When We All Vote.
Then, only a few months later, just last November, she published her new book, Becoming, in coordination with a nation-wide ''promotion'' campaign that, from all appearances, is exceeding in terms of scope and ambition even that of Hillary's 2016 presidential campaign.
Managed by the same company that promotes Beyonc(C)'s concert tours, the ten stops of the first leg of her national tour in November and December of 2018 were at arenas with seating capacities hovering around 20,000, not only in Washington, D.C., but also in states like New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Tennessee, Illinois, California, and Georgia.
And then, to begin this New Year, a few days ago she announced that 14 additional speaking engagements have now been scheduled '-- so far '-- to allow even more sell-out crowds to attend her ''A Conversation with Michelle Obama'' tour in similarly huge venues located this time around in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin,Ohio, and Florida.
If they haven't done so already, both the president and the RNC might want to compare these ''whistle stops'' now being made by Michelle to ''promote'' her book to the following list of the top 10 ''key'' electoral vote states in 2020: California (45); Texas (38); New York (29); Florida (29); Illinois (20); Pennsylvania (20); Ohio (18); Michigan (16); Georgia (16); North Carolina (15).
Mere coincidence? Perhaps. But, then again, maybe not.
Either way, what can't be denied is the fact that these events promoting Michelle '-- or should I say, her ''book'' '-- bear an uncanny resemblance in size and geographic scope to the ''MAGA Rallies'' of 2016 that helped get President Trump elected.
And the single most important fact that might distinguish their rallies is one that may not bode well for the president.
To attend Michelle's ''book signing'' events, she is finding herself able to charge those who want to attend as much as $597.00 to $1,435 per ticket!
Unless her new book is really that good '-- which is doubtful '-- the question this fact should put before the president is this: If he were to charge his supporters such ticket prices, would he be able to fill stadiums next year, like he did in 2016?
If not, he really should be taking a long hard look at Michelle Obama'... starting right now.
Disregard the fact that Michelle has said on numerous occasions that she doesn't like politics, and has no intention of running for president. In politics, a more accurate reading of a person's intentions is better often obtained by looking at what they are doing, rather than what they may be saying while they are doing it.
And from that perspective, Michelle's presently scheduled activities strongly suggest the behavior of a person plotting to place herself in the position of becoming the left's ''reluctant hero'' in 2020. The only demographically-qualified Democrat who '-- if they absolutely beg her to do it '-- is able to rise to the occasion, respond to the pleas of her Party, and save them all from having to endure another four years of President Trump.
But whether she is reluctant or not, make no mistake about it. Her potential candidacy, when viewed through the prism of her present, successful endeavors, has all the earmarks of one that could propel her toward having an impact upon Trump's presidency in 2020 with a force similar to that of a locomotive charging at full throttle that is followed close behind by a tsunami of support.
And to stop it, President Trump may very well need '... a WALL!
Clifford C. Nichols is an attorney licensed to practice in California and New Mexico. Any comments or questions regarding this editorial may be directed to him at cliff@cnicholslaw.com.
California lawmaker proposes bill to eliminate paper receipts - TheBlaze
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:52
A California lawmaker has proposed a bill that would require businesses to issue electronic receipts instead of paper receipts.
San Francisco assembly member Phil Ting (D) introduced the bill, dubbed "Skip the Slip," at a news conference Tuesday, KPIX-TV reported. Standing next to Ting, a staffer was draped in an over-sized receipt that listed the reasons for the bill.
"Most of us don't need a physical receipt for every transaction. It doesn't make sense to kill so many trees and produce 12 billion pounds of carbon emissions, the equivalent of one million cars on the road, to make something we don't often need," Ting said in a statement to KPIX.
The measure, if approved, would call for all businesses to provide receipts by text or email by 2022, unless a customer specifically asks for a paper copy.
Ting cited a study by Green America, an environmental group, which claims that as many as 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water are used annually to produce receipts in the U.S.
He also pointed out that most paper receipts contain chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and bisphenol-S (BPS). Both chemicals are also found in many commonly used plastics.
The Bay Area lawmaker added that paper receipts cannot be recycled.
"Guess what? They [receipts] can't be recycled because of the BPA," Ting told reporters. "It's common-sense legislation.
"It's really putting the power back on the consumers by saying, 'Hey, if you want the paper you can ask for it,'" he continued. "But why force you take the paper?"
Are the chemicals really dangerous? Some scientists believe exposure to BPA can cause negative health effects.
"Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children," according to the Mayo Clinic. "Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure."
The controversy prompted the Food and Drug Administration to ban BPA and BPS from plastic baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012. The following year, it was banned from use in infant formula packaging.
However, the FDA still claims that BPA is safe at current levels of exposure.
"Based on FDA's ongoing safety review of scientific evidence, the available information continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging," according to the FDA website.
What else?If passed, businesses that fail to comply would face fines up to $300 per year, according to the bill.
iHeart CEO: We're The #1 Commercial Podcaster - Podcast Business Journal
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:43
This week iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman sat with Bloomberg's Vonnie Quinn where, among other topics, the subject of podcasting came up.
As the company inches closer and closer to emerging from bankruptcy, with a much cleaner balance sheet, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman sat for an interview with Vonnie Quinn on ''Bloomberg Markets'' this week. The topics included the chatter about the possibility of partnering with Liberty and Apple, radio having a larger reach than Facebook and Google and the success of the iHeartRadio app.
Quinn asked Pittman about the possibility of partnering with Apple. The iHeart CEO said the company has something very unique but he really couldn't speak to who finds that attractive. ''We're the number one commercial podcaster now with a lead of about two or three to one over the next largest. We're the number one digital radio app. We had more social impressions last year than the Superbowl, The Academy Awards and the Grammy's combined. So we have a lot of powerful assets here and clearly we are opening to partner with people, and we do partner with a lot of companies. We pride ourselves on being good partners. So, we sort of look at what's our goal, what's the best way to get there and its usually three things, it's usually make, buy or partner.''
Quinn also asked about a possible partnership with Liberty Media, which has also been rumored. ''We wouldn't comment on any possible alliance and I think you'd have to talk to them to see what they might have in mind. For us, we are focused on our mission which is to super serve the consumer, continue to build this massive reach we have with the number one reach medium in America, ahead of even Facebook and Google and really to get our advertising to catch up to the marketplace. We are under monetized based on the reach we have and the time spent listening, and the R.O.I. we give advertisers. We can do a lot more and that's our 100% focus.''
Check out the entire interview HERE
Kim looking to 'achieve results' in 2nd summit with Trump
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:32
BEIJING (AP) '-- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly told the leader of his only major ally, China, that he wants to ''achieve results'' on the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula during a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The comments, contained in Chinese state media reports Thursday, came a day after Kim left Beijing on his special armored train after a two-day visit to the Chinese capital.
Kim's trip to China '-- his fourth in the past 10 months '-- is believed to be an effort to coordinate with Beijing ahead of a possible second summit with Trump. It comes after U.S. and North Korean officials are thought to have met in Vietnam to discuss the site of the summit.
North Korea will ''make efforts for the second summit between (North Korean) and U.S. leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community,'' Kim was quoted as saying by China's official Xinhua News Agency.
All sides should ''jointly push for a comprehensive resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue'' and North Korea will ''continue sticking to the stance of denuclearization and resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation,'' Xinhua quoted Kim as saying.
Kim also said North Korea hopes its ''legitimate concerns'' will be given due respect, a reference to its desire for security guarantees and a possible peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.
He also credited Chinese President Xi Jinping with helping reduce regional tensions, saying ''the Korean Peninsula situation has been easing since last year, and China's important role in this process is obvious to all.''
The North's Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim told Xi that the North remains unchanged in its push to seek a negotiated resolution of the nuclear standoff. It said Kim also mentioned unspecified difficulties in improving ties with the United States and moving nuclear diplomacy forward.
Xi was quoted by Xinhua as saying that China supports the U.S.-North Korea summits and hopes the two sides ''will meet each other halfway.'' KCNA said Xi accepted an invitation to visit North Korea, although details of when he might go were not given.
It wasn't clear from the reports if Kim was in back in North Korea, but his train presumably would arrive sometime Thursday.
Xi has yet to visit North Korea since taking office in 2012.
Trump and Kim met in Singapore in June for the first-ever leaders' meeting between their nations, but there has been a standoff ever since, with dueling accusations of bad faith.
Kim's Beijing visit was seen as part of an effort to win Chinese support for a reduction of U.N. sanctions imposed over his nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. The sanctions have severely impacted his country's already ailing economy.
While North Korea hasn't conducted any test launches or detonations in more than a year, it has displayed no real intention of abandoning the programs that are seen as guaranteeing the government's survival.
The trip also came after he expressed frustration in his annual New Year's address over the lack of progress in negotiations with Washington since the Singapore summit, saying that if things don't improve '-- meaning that if sanctions relief and security guarantees aren't in the offing '-- North Korea might have to find ''a new way'' forward.
While Trump says he considers Xi key to enticing Kim into taking concrete steps toward denuclearization, the president's own relationship with his Chinese counterpart has frayed over the U.S.-China trade war.
Officially, at least, China says it considers the tariff battle and North Korea's weapons programs to be entirely separate.
KCNA reported that Kim on Wednesday visited a pharmaceutical plant belonging to Beijing Tongrentang Co. Ltd., where he watched production processes.
It said he met with Xi at the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday after a welcoming ceremony. Later Tuesday, Xi gave a grand banquet for Kim, his wife Ri Sol Ju and other visiting North Korean officials.
At Tuesday's daily Chinese foreign ministry briefing, spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing remains supportive of efforts to end tensions over U.S. demands for a halt to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
''We always believe that, as key parties to the Korean Peninsula issue, it's important for the two sides to maintain contact and we always support their dialogue to achieve positive outcomes,'' Lu said.
Tuesday was Kim's birthday but there was no word of any official celebration.
___
Associated Press writers Foster Klug and Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
Earth's ancient magnetic field just got a lot older : Nature News & Comment
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:28
Nature | News
SharingEarly magnetism could have helped create conditions to support life.
30 July 2015
NASA
Auroras are caused by the interaction of Earth's magnetic field with the solar wind.
Earth developed a magnetic field at least four billion years ago, the latest research shows '-- more than half a billion years earlier than thought.
The work, described in the 31 July issue of Science1, is a major step forward in understanding when and how Earth began to evolve into its modern form. An ancient magnetic field could have made the 500-million-year-old planet more hospitable to life, by preventing the Sun's powerful solar wind from stripping away the atmosphere.
The study helps put Earth in context with its planetary neighbours. ''The comparison between Earth and Mars is really striking,'' says lead author John Tarduno, a geophysicist at the University of Rochester in New York. Mars also had a magnetic field at least 4 billion years ago, but the red planet somehow lost its dense atmosphere and became a barren world. Yet Earth developed into a hotbed of life.
Evidence for the age of Earth's magnetic field comes from magnetic crystals that are preserved inside ancient rocks. Tarduno and his colleagues had previously found markers dating to 3.45 billion years ago in rocks from South Africa2.
To look deeper into Earth's past, the team went to the Jack Hills region of Western Australia, which is famous for its four-billion-year-old zircon crystals. The scientists used a high-resolution magnetometer to measure faint magnetic signals of iron-bearing minerals trapped inside 25 zircons. These signals indicate the strength and direction of Earth's magnetic field when the crystals formed.
Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester
The fledgling Earth's magnetic field may have warded off the powerful solar wind billions of years ago.
Portrait of a young planetThe Jack Hills zircons show that a magnetic field existed as early as 4 billion years ago, fluctuating in strength from a value similar to today's '-- around 25 microteslas '-- to about 12% of that. The two most-ancient zircons in the study suggest that the field could be up to 4.2 billion years old. But these rocks are difficult to analyse because they were re-heated around 2.6 billion years ago, which left a record of magnetic activity then that partially overlaid older evidence.
Whenever it arose, an ancient magnetic field would have been a good, although not perfect, shield against the solar wind. An occasional solar storm might still have been able to blast through the magnetic field and strip Earth's atmosphere of water and volatile compounds that are necessary for life, Tarduno's team says.
But David Grinspoon, a researcher at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, is not convinced that a planet must have an active magnetic field in order to be habitable. Many experts question the idea that Mars lost its atmosphere simply because its magnetic field switched off, he says. Powerful stellar winds may actually provide energy for yet-unknown life on planets that lack a protective magnetic field.
The presence of an ancient magnetic field on Earth also suggests that plate tectonics could have been operating more than 4 billion years ago, Tarduno adds. Geologists have long debated when and how convection began in the primordial planet, resulting in the loss of heat to space as crustal plates shuffled around. ''The discovery has important implications for early Earth,'' says Simon Wilde, a geologist at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
But Tarduno's team might not be able to look much further into the past. The oldest Australian zircons, which date to 4.4 billion years ago, contain a limited and confusing magnetic record. Instead, researchers may focus on broadening their knowledge of conditions on the ancient Earth, rather than trying to determine whether its magnetic field existed more than 4.2 billion years ago.
''There's this tremendous record between 3.5 billion and 4.2 billion [years] that we really need to explore,'' Tarduno says.
Journal name:NatureDOI:doi:10.1038/nature.2015.18072 Tarduno, J. A. , Cottrell, R. D. , Davis, W. J. , Nimmo, F. & Bono, R. K. Science 349 , 521 '' 524 ( 2015 ).
ArticlePubMedChemPort Tarduno, J. A. et al. Science 327 , 1238 '' 1240 ( 2010 ).
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Earth's magnetic field is acting up and geologists don't know why
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:28
Update, 9 January: The release of the World Magnetic Model has been postponed to 30 January due to the ongoing US government shutdown.
Something strange is going on at the top of the world. Earth's north magnetic pole has been skittering away from Canada and towards Siberia, driven by liquid iron sloshing within the planet's core. The magnetic pole is moving so quickly that it has forced the world's geomagnetism experts into a rare move.
On 15 January, they are set to update the World Magnetic Model, which describes the planet's magnetic field and underlies all modern navigation, from the systems that steer ships at sea to Google Maps on smartphones.
The most recent version of the model came out in 2015 and was supposed to last until 2020 '-- but the magnetic field is changing so rapidly that researchers have to fix the model now. ''The error is increasing all the time,'' says Arnaud Chulliat, a geomagnetist at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) National Centers for Environmental Information.
The problem lies partly with the moving pole and partly with other shifts deep within the planet. Liquid churning in Earth's core generates most of the magnetic field, which varies over time as the deep flows change. In 2016, for instance, part of the magnetic field temporarily accelerated deep under northern South America and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Satellites such as the European Space Agency's Swarm mission tracked the shift.
By early 2018, the World Magnetic Model was in trouble. Researchers from NOAA and the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh had been doing their annual check of how well the model was capturing all the variations in Earth's magnetic field. They realized that it was so inaccurate that it was about to exceed the acceptable limit for navigational errors.
Wandering pole''That was an interesting situation we found ourselves in,'' says Chulliat. ''What's happening?'' The answer is twofold, he reported last month at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington DC.
First, that 2016 geomagnetic pulse beneath South America came at the worst possible time, just after the 2015 update to the World Magnetic Model. This meant that the magnetic field had lurched just after the latest update, in ways that planners had not anticipated.
Source: World Data Center for Geomagnetism/Kyoto Univ.
Second, the motion of the north magnetic pole made the problem worse. The pole wanders in unpredictable ways that have fascinated explorers and scientists since James Clark Ross first measured it in 1831 in the Canadian Arctic. In the mid-1990s it picked up speed, from around 15 kilometres per year to around 55 kilometres per year. By 2001, it had entered the Arctic Ocean '-- where, in 2007, a team including Chulliat landed an aeroplane on the sea ice in an attempt to locate the pole.
In 2018, the pole crossed the International Date Line into the Eastern Hemisphere. It is currently making a beeline for Siberia.
The geometry of Earth's magnetic field magnifies the model's errors in places where the field is changing quickly, such as the North Pole. ''The fact that the pole is going fast makes this region more prone to large errors,'' says Chulliat.
To fix the World Magnetic Model, he and his colleagues fed it three years of recent data, which included the 2016 geomagnetic pulse. The new version should remain accurate, he says, until the next regularly scheduled update in 2020.
Core questionsIn the meantime, scientists are working to understand why the magnetic field is changing so dramatically. Geomagnetic pulses, like the one that happened in 2016, might be traced back to 'hydromagnetic' waves arising from deep in the core1. And the fast motion of the north magnetic pole could be linked to a high-speed jet of liquid iron beneath Canada2.
The jet seems to be smearing out and weakening the magnetic field beneath Canada, Phil Livermore, a geomagnetist at the University of Leeds, UK, said at the American Geophysical Union meeting. And that means that Canada is essentially losing a magnetic tug-of-war with Siberia.
''The location of the north magnetic pole appears to be governed by two large-scale patches of magnetic field, one beneath Canada and one beneath Siberia,'' Livermore says. ''The Siberian patch is winning the competition.''
Which means that the world's geomagnetists will have a lot to keep them busy for the foreseeable future.
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DR Congo election: Felix Tshisekedi wins, to succeed Kabila '-- Quartz Africa
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:24
*This story has been updated
The Democratic Republic of Congo has a new incoming president, Felix Tshisekedi , the son of a veteran opposition leader. He won with just over 7 million votes or 38.6%, according to the national electoral commission. The other strongly favored candidate, Martin Fayulu, a former Exxon Mobil executive, came second with 6.4 million votes.
Tshisekedi, whose father Etienne died in February 2017, will be taking over from president Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the country since 2001 taking over from his father, Laurent, who was assassinated. Kabila's preferred successor, former interior minister Emmanuel Shadary came third with just 4.4 million votes. The voter turnout was just 47.6%.
More than 46 million citizens were registered to cast their votes on Dec. 30, in a historic election for country which has never seen a democratic transition of power since achieving independence from Belgium in 1960. It was hoped the outcome could herald a new era of representative government in central Africa.
But the result is expected to be strongly disputed by Fayulu and there's a change of protests in parts of the country. Reports had indicated the local Catholic Church's own independent assessment of the voting had Fayulu as the winner. He has already described the results as ''an unacceptable electoral fraud.''
The polls are also seen as flawed by observers because over a million voters were disenfranchised by the electoral body due to an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the eastern part of the country. The vote in four cities was delayed till March which sparked off violent protests including an attack on an Ebola center.
Reuters/Baz Ratner
Martin Fayulu, Congolese joint opposition presidential candidateReuters/Baz Ratner
Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, ex-Congolese interior minister and Kabila's preferred presidential candidateDR Congo is the largest country in sub Saharan Africa and often considered its wealthiest in terms of its numerous valuable minerals including cobalt, coltan and copper. But the central African country, which has been wracked with political upheaval and conflict for much of its 58-year history is instead one of the world's biggest centers of poverty as its resources have been consistently mismanaged by its government leaders.
After several days of delays and false alarms the long-awaited results were announced deep into the early hours of the morning local time. The electoral body, CENI, delaying the announcement as tensions mounted around the country, stretched out the process by revealing every one of the 711 candidates who had won in local elections across the sprawling central African state.
Reuters/Kenny Katombe/File Photo
Kabila: I'm out.Some of the polling was said to have been flawed with some vote counting ''irregularities'' according to a local observer group. The government had already deployed security forces including riot police in Kinshasa, ahead of the results announcements, as supporters of both the leading opposition parties had claimed victory days before .
The US embassy in Kinshasa, the capital city, advised its citizens to leave DR Congo ahead of the results announcement.
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BREAKING: Nine Days After Leaving Disney, John Lasseter Is Named Head Of Skydance Animation
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:06
Just nine days after his job at the Walt Disney Company officially ended, the disgraced former head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios John Lasseter has been hired by Skydance Animation as the head of their animation studio.
John Lasseter will report to Skydance Media's CEO David Ellison, and will start the job in Los Angeles later this month.
UPDATE: The industry reaction to Lasseter's hiring has been harshly negative. Women's organization Time's Up says that Lasseter's hiring is ''condoning abuse'' and ''endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence.''
In his new role, Lasseter will be responsible for setting the overall strategy and creative direction for Skydance Animation. He will drive the division's artistic growth, overseeing production and operations across an animation slate for all media.
Among Skydance's announced projects: Luck, directed by Alessandro Carloni and written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, and an Untitled Action Fantasy, directed by Vicky Jenson and written by Linda Woolverton. Skydance also recently snagged Tangled director Nathan Greno from Disney; Greno will direct the original feature Powerless. Skydance has a partnership with Madrid's Ilion Animation Studios (Planet 51, Paramount's upcoming Wonder Park), where its films are being animated.
Lasseter said in a statement:
''I'm grateful to David and the Skydance team and know that I have been entrusted with an enormous responsibility. It is a distinct privilege that I will relish. I have spent the last year away from the industry in deep reflection, learning how my actions unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for. It has been humbling, but I believe it will make me a better leader.
I want nothing more than the opportunity to return to my creative and entrepreneurial roots, to build and invent again. I join Skydance with the same enthusiasm that drove me to help build Pixar, with a firm desire to tell original and diverse stories for audiences everywhere. With what I have learned and how I have grown in the past year, I am resolute in my commitment to build an animation studio upon a foundation of quality, safety, trust and mutual respect.''
Skydance has a long-term deal with Paramount Pictures, and their new animation division will output some of its films through Paramount Animation.
Skydance also recently acquired live-action film and television rights to the French superhero-romance animated show Miraculous '' Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir. If you'll remember a post we did a few months ago, we suggested that Lasseter could be working with the show's creators. It's not clear if he'll be working with them through this new job, but both Zag and Lasseter are now connected to different divisions of the same company.
The news of Lasseter's hire will be disappointing to many, but it shouldn't be surprising. At the time of the meeting with Zag, we wrote, ''[This] is a reminder of Lasseter's status in Hollywood: Disney may not be able to work with Lasseter, but there's plenty of Disney competitors that would be thrilled to have him on their team.''
Ellison, who is the son of billionaire Larry Ellison and brother of Annapurna Pictures' Megan Ellison, tried to address Lasseter's many reports of sexual harassment in a letter that he wrote for the hiring. Here is the full note from Ellison about their decision-making process to hire Lasseter:
Dear Colleagues:
I wanted to share with you first some news that we are announcing today.
Industry visionary John Lasseter is joining us to lead Skydance Animation. John will be based in Los Angeles and will report directly to me.
Bill Damaschke will be transitioning from his current role, and we are hopeful he will choose to remain within the Skydance family.
The attached press release outlines the news more fully, but I wanted to share a few things that have informed our decision to bring John on board.
First, no one can dispute John's legacy building Pixar and Walt Disney Animation into the leadership position they now enjoy. His creative vision and forward-looking approach to animation has transformed the entire industry. At his heart, John is a storyteller '' with a unique ability to tell beautiful and emotionally-driven tales that resonate and inspire audiences around the globe.
Second, I know many of you are aware of John's admitted mistakes in his prior role helming those studios. John has been forthright in taking ownership of his behavior, apologized for his actions and has spent the past year on sabbatical analyzing and improving his workplace behavior.
Third, we employed outside counsel to thoroughly investigate the allegations, which we considered serious and have warranted our full attention as we made this important decision. The senior leadership team and I have all carefully evaluated the findings of this extensive investigation.
Let me be clear: we have not entered into this decision lightly.
While we would never minimize anyone's subjective views on behavior, we are confident after many substantive conversations with John, and as the investigation has affirmed, that his mistakes have been recognized. We are certain that John has learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and a colleague. And he has given his assurance that he will comport himself in a wholly professional manner that is the expectation of every Skydance colleague and partner.
We are very hopeful and excited about what the coming years will bring, as John's art transcends generations and cultures, while deeply resonating on a fundamental level with what makes us uniquely human.
The senior leadership team and I will be hosting a town hall for all Skydance Animation colleagues shortly to speak with you directly about this transition. Additional town halls at SDM and SDI will take place today and tomorrow.
Skydance Animation colleagues, please be on the lookout for a call-to-gather email. I look forward to speaking with you in person.
Thanks,
David
Photo: Shutterstock
Rodrigo Otazu on Twitter: "@adamcurry nice one !'... "
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:44
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"9/11 Papers" MegaLeak - Layer 2 + Checkpoint 08: Cyber-Cash For Cyber-Cache
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:32
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----Hash: SHA256
"9/11 Papers" MegaLeak - Layer 2 + Checkpoint 08: Cyber-Cash For Cyber-Cache
https://busy.org/@thedarkoverlord/
This is the thedarkoverlord here to deliver a message.
This is the '9/11 Papers' MegaLeak. Keep giving us cyber-cash for cyber-cache.
Hello, world. As you're well-aware, we designed a compensation plan that would allow for the public crowd-funding of our organisation in order to permit the public disclosure of our "9/11 Papers" in the interest of the public. Part of this plan was to create a tiered escalation plan that would result in multiple layers and milestones (which we're calling checkpoints) to ensure the powers at be are being properly bent over a barrel. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: we're financially motivated, and you (the public) has spoken to us in our language (internet money, specifically Bitcoin). Remember, continuing to fund our wallet will continue to keep us motivated to help break the truth to the world by open-sourcing what we're calling the "9/11 Papers". To create a bit more buzz, we've decided to continue forward and release the decryption key for Layer 2. As such, let the leaking continue:
Statistics:Layer 2 = 7.566 FilesCheckpoint 08 = 50 Files
TOTAL = 7.616 Files
Layer 2Layer_2.container Decryption Key: 8JYIy&BRIkLi<7mku]nJGRS9YXwXs#udwvCr]MTV02"[email protected]%9ZC/*t7'r&@W
If you still haven't downloaded all the 9/11 Archive with the Layer containers, the torrent link is below:
9/11 ArchiveLINK: https://anonfiles.com/6fx7q6pfb6/911_Archive.zip_torrentSHA1 HASH: F4C18CF980648E9FBDAC55952F5F3485DBBA95F9
Checkpoint 08LINK: https://anonfiles.com/ebVdf4q9bf/Checkpoint_08_zipSHA-1 HASH: C285ACE02A9E046083B4F6149112569EC7CFB769
Instructions to decrypt the containers - Download Veracrypt and use the decryption key above.
Let this serve as more definitive proof that what we're saying is true, and that we're doing exactly as we promised you. Continue to keep the bitcoins flowing, and we'll continue to keep the truth flowing. Remember, Cyber-Cash for Cyber-Cache. We hope that there'll be more releases. Continue to share these download links and decryption keys on Reddit, 4chan, Steemit, Voat, your siblings, your friends, your pets, and anyone else! We can't allow the mainstream media to silence the truth any longer. We must ensure they're propaganda is crushed by the truths we're dealing today.
We'll always sign all of our releases for verification of authenticity.
Teaser Statistics:
Layer 3 = 8.279 Files
Your friends,thedarkoverlordProfessional Adversarial Threat GroupTheDarkOverlord Solutions LLC, World Wide Web, LLC
OFFICIAL BITCOIN ADDRESS:192ZobzfZxAkacLGmg9oY4M9y8MVTPxh7U
CONTACT AND LOCATION DETAILS:thedarkoverlord E-Mail Address: [email protected]Backup1 E-Mail Address: [email protected]Backup2 E-Mail Address: [email protected]Make your own at (torbox3uiot6wchz.onion)KickAss Tor Address: kickassugvgoftuk.onion-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
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W5pe-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
🕶Myne Gaim 🧠ðŸ'¬ on Twitter: "#WWG1WGA #MAGA #NineEleven #QAnon #darkoverlord BOOM. Flight 93 was shot down over Penn on 9/11? This is taken directly from the leaked 9/11 papers. The document is from Layer 1 from 9/11 Papers and is called: 00010135.
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:31
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The Latest: Dutch PM wants to help May win Brexit backing
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:13
WJ Wire In this grab taken from video, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, centre, listens during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. The British government brought its little-loved Brexit deal back to Parliament on Wednesday, a month after postponing a vote on the agreement to stave off near-certain defeat. (House of Commons/PA via AP)
The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.
LONDON (AP) '-- The Latest on Brexit (all times local):
7:25 p.m.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says he is working with France, Germany and other nations to help his British counterpart Theresa May win Parliament's approval for her divorce deal with the European Union.
Speaking Wednesday night after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, Rutte said he and his European allies are striving ''to help my British colleague to bring the vote next week to a successful outcome.''
Rutte did not elaborate on what he and other leaders are doing to help win support for May's Brexit deal in the deeply divided British House of Commons.
TRENDING: Ex-Wrestler Who Accused Republican Jim Jordan in Abuse Case Gets Arrested
However Rutte stressed that ''the present deal on the table is, I think, the best deal.''
___
2:45 p.m.
British lawmakers have dealt Prime Minister Theresa May her second defeat in two days in battles over the government's plans for Brexit.
The House of Commons voted for a motion designed to prevent the government delaying key decisions as Brexit approaches on March 29. The measure says that if Parliament rejects the divorce deal May has agreed with the European Union, the government must come up with a ''Plan B'' within three days.
The government previously had 21 days to report back to Parliament.
Lawmakers are due to vote on May's deal on Tuesday, and look likely to reject it.
Opponents of the agreement suspect the government may try to run down the clock, to leave Parliament facing a last-minute choice between May's deal and a no-deal Brexit.
On Tuesday, lawmakers voted to put curbs on the government's ability to spend taxes on no-deal measures.
___
10:30 a.m.
A top European Parliament leader is appealing to lawmakers in London to show ''responsibility'' as they resume consideration of Britain's divorce deal with the European Union.
Many British lawmakers detest the deal agreed between Brussels and Prime Minister Theresa May. Britain is due to leave the EU March 29, and fears have risen that it may do so without a deal in place.
Manfred Weber, a German conservative who heads the biggest group in the European Parliament, said in Berlin Wednesday that ''it's Britain's move. Our colleagues in Britain's lower house carry great responsibility now '-- the agreement is on the table.''
News agency dpa reported that Weber said everyone must realize that a no-deal withdrawal on March 29 would ''lead to very difficult, perhaps even chaotic situations.''
___
8:35 a.m.
The British government is bringing its little-loved Brexit deal back to Parliament, a month after postponing a vote on the agreement to stave off near-certain defeat.
Lawmakers are beginning five days of debate Wednesday on the agreement with the European Union setting out the terms of Britain's departure from the bloc on March 29.
A vote, initially slated for December, is scheduled for Jan. 15.
But opposition remains strong from both pro-Brexit and pro-EU U.K. lawmakers. Brexiteers are urging the government to ramp up preparations for leaving the EU without a deal.
But many lawmakers, and businesses, say that could cause economic turmoil.
The de-facto deputy Prime Minister, David Lidington, said the only way to avoid a disruptive no-deal ''is for Parliament to endorse and ratify a deal.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
'Green Book' director: 'I was an idiot' for genital-flashing
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:11
WJ Wire FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019 file photo, Peter Farrelly arrives at the 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival in Palm Springs, Calif. Green Book" director Farrelly says he's deeply sorry and embarrassed after film website The Cut found an old story where colleagues said Farrelly liked to flash his genitals as a joke. The Cut on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, published excerpts of a 1998 Newsweek story saying Farrelly liked to use ruses to get people to look at his penis. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.
LOS ANGELES (AP) '-- ''Green Book'' director Peter Farrelly said Wednesday that he's deeply sorry and embarrassed after film website The Cut found a 20-year-old story where colleagues said Farrelly liked to flash his genitals as a joke.
The Cut on Wednesday published excerpts of a 1998 Newsweek story saying Farrelly and his brother and frequent filmmaking partner Bobby Farrelly liked to use ruses to get people to look at Farrelly's penis.
Farrelly issued a statement through his publicists saying the stories' descriptions are true.
''I was an idiot,'' Farrelly said. ''I did this decades ago and I thought I was being funny and the truth is I'm embarrassed and it makes me cringe now. I'm deeply sorry.''
Those who told Newsweek they'd been tricked included film executive Tom Rothman and actress Cameron Diaz, who was starring in the Farrelly brothers' comedy ''There's Something About Mary'' at the time.
TRENDING: Ex-Wrestler Who Accused Republican Jim Jordan in Abuse Case Gets Arrested
''Green Book,'' which stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortenson as a black concert pianist and his Italian-American driver who become unlikely friends, won a Golden Globe Award on Sunday for best musical or comedy film.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
The Latest: Jackson estate denounces Sundance documentary
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:10
WJ Wire FILE - In this May 25, 2005 file photo, Michael Jackson arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for his child molestation trial in Santa Maria, Calif. A documentary film about two boys who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse is set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. The Sundance Institute announced the addition of ''Leaving Neverland'' and ''The Brink,'' a documentary about Steve Bannon, to its 2019 lineup on Wednesday. The Sundance Film Festival kicks off on Jan 24 and runs through Feb. 4. (Aaron Lambert/Santa Maria Times via AP, Pool)
The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.
LOS ANGELES (AP) '-- The Latest on the Sundance Film Festival's addition of a documentary featuring Michael Jackson's accusers (all times local):
5:15 p.m.
The estate of Michael Jackson is denouncing a documentary about two of his sexual-abuse accusers that will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month, calling it ''just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations.''
The estate said in a statement Wednesday that the documentary ''Leaving Neverland'' ''is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.''
The Sundance Institute announced earlier Wednesday that the documentary had been added to the festival lineup.
TRENDING: Ex-Wrestler Who Accused Republican Jim Jordan in Abuse Case Gets Arrested
The film tells the story of two men now in their 30s who had long-running relationships with Jackson at ages 7 and 10 when Jackson was at the height of his fame.
Jackson was acquitted of molestation charges in a 2005 trial.
An after-hours email to a representative seeking comment from the film's director, Dan Reed, wasn't immediately returned.
___
1:15 p.m.
A documentary film about two boys who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse is set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month.
The Sundance Institute announced the addition of ''Leaving Neverland'' and ''The Brink,'' a documentary about Steve Bannon, to its 2019 lineup on Wednesday.
A description of ''Leaving Neverland'' says it will tell the story of two men who are now in their 30s and began long-running relationships with Jackson at ages 7 and 10 when Jackson was at the height of his fame. The names of the Jackson accusers profiled in the documentary were not released. Jackson was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005.
The film is produced and directed by BAFTA-winning director Dan Reed.
The Sundance Film Festival kicks off on Jan 24 and runs through Feb. 4.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
Send encrypted secrets from the command-line: Fluidkeys v0.3
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:04
Tuesday 8th Jan 2019
Today we proudly announce Fluidkeys 0.3 ðŸ
With Fluidkeys v0.3 you can send passwords, keys, tokens and personal data to team-mates using end-to-end encryption.
If you're keen to get started, head to download.fluidkeys.com
Sharing passwords, tokens, credentials and keysFrom listening to engineering teams, we heard a number of different types of sensitive information with similar characteristics:
Names and addresses of customers (PII) shared with other internal teamsAPI access tokens sent to external developer partnersSSH key pairs for Amazon EC2 shared with freelance developersIAM credentials for Amazon Web ServicesTemporary passwords sent to new team membersPGP private keys for shared mailboxesEncryption passwords for encrypted ZIP filesThese are small bits of text, fairly short lived, with a potentially high impact if breached (like a $50,000 Amazon bill)
How to quickly share throwaway secrets?You've got stuff to do, you need to get this thing sent, what are you going to do?
The easy route is to throw it into Slack and hope they aren't next week's big data breach.
Maybe you could use a messaging app like WhatsApp or Signal. But that requires you know your team-mate's number, which isn't the norm for many teams. And WhatsApp is determined to back itself up to Google Drive, so it'll probably end up there too.
You could use GPG, but can you remember the command? And do you have the other person's public key? And are you confident that they'll copy-paste the funny text correctly on their end?
$  gpg --armor --recipient paul@fluidkeys.com --encrypt-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----hQEMA35uuyjbagYuAQf/eqfq3MCS96ZNNQeI7S3zGs7FiAIiQ7qU5Oa1Dz6/UizCpQnTHjoupyGChXeDz9XDdmWtTuvYArlnjdVJfySHWGDQ66mm/IUie0jsnTOss6P1...You could put it in your shared password manager, but it's a bit overkill since you only need to send it once, and sometimes you see a delay on shared items showing up.
Send encrypted secrets from the command-lineWith Fluidkeys you can send PGP-encrypted secrets directly from the command-line using your team-mate's email address.
$  fk secret send paul@fluidkeys.comFluidkeys fetches verified public keys automaticallyWhen you install and set up Fluidkeys, you're asked for your email address. Once you've verified it, others can send you secrets. You don't need to manually exchange public keys.
Fluidkeys automatically fetches keys based on the verified email address and encrypts the secret to the key.
$  fk secret send paul@fluidkeys.com '–¸ Found public key for paul@paulfurley.com We use our own server to store public keys and transmit encrypted secrets.
Install and set up Fluidkeys in 2 minutesWe've heard from a number of teams that it's time consuming to set up new starters with PGP and we've worked hard on this.
It takes around 2 minutes for new users to install Fluidkeys, generate a PGP key, verify your email and start sending and receiving encrypted secrets.
Take the two-minute challenge
Things to be aware ofFluidkeys stores your keys in gpgBeware that Fluidkeys doesn't implement its own storage of keys: it stores them in gpg. If you delete a key from gpg, there's no copy in Fluidkeys. We don't modify the GNUPGHOME directory: we push and pull straight from your default gpg2 installation.
This is helpful if you use your keys for anything else like signing commits with git or encrypted email with Thunderbird.
Those applications will use keys made by Fluidkeys, and Fluidkeys will keep them updated.
Fluidkeys stores your key's password in your system keychainIn order to be able to rotate your key automatically, Fluidkeys stores the password to your private key in your system keychain. You can see these by searching for "Fluidkeys".
Fluidkeys doesn't upload to the public keyserver networkWe chose not to use the public keyserver network until it supports deleting keys and cryptographic validation.
If you do want to upload to the public keyservers, make sure you automate it. Because Fluidkeys automatically rotates your encryption subkey every month, your key will quickly become out of sync with the keyservers. You could add cron task to upload your key regularly:
Edit your crontab by running crontab -e and add this line:
@daily gpg --keyserver pool.sks-keyservers.net --send-key <email address>Download Fluidkeys v0.3On to business: head on over to download.fluidkeys.com to get started.
$  fk --helpFluidkeys 0.3.0Configuration file: /home/paul/.config/fluidkeys/config.tomlUsage:    fk setup    fk setup <email>    fk secret send <recipient-email-address>    fk secret receive    fk key create    fk key from-gpg    fk key list    fk key maintain [--dry-run]    fk key maintain automatic [--cron-output]    fk key uploadOptions:    -h --help         Show this screen       --dry-run      Don't change anything: only output what would happen       --cron-output  Only print output on errorsWhat do you think?Please have a go and let us know how you get on!
We're excited to hear from you :)
'-- Paul & Ian
Email hello@fluidkeys.com
Back to all posts
Did Democrats reverse border wall position after Donald Trump was elected? | PolitiFact
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 23:32
Says Sen. Charles Schumer "repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president."
'-- Donald Trump on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 in a televised speech
ByManuela Tobias on Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 at 3:27 p.m.
President Donald Trump talks before signing anti-human trafficking legislation, Wednesday Jan. 9, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP)In his call for a border wall, President Donald Trump said Democrats made a U-turn on immigration after he was elected president.
"Sen. Chuck Schumer, who you will be hearing from later tonight, has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past along with many other Democrats," Trump said Jan. 8 in his prime time address on the border wall. "They changed their mind only after I was elected president."
That's a mischaracterization of the barrier that won Democratic support 13 years ago.
Just over half of Democrats in the Senate voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush, including then-Sens. Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. Most Democrats in the House voted against it, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
The law authorized a fence along about 700 miles of the border between the U.S.-Mexico border. By 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection had constructed 654 miles of fencing, the Government Accountability Office reported.
The fence was different from the wall Trump promised to build on the campaign trail, which he said would be made of "hardened concrete" as tall as "95 stories" with a "very big, very beautiful door."
Trump derided the 2006 fence as too modest during the 2016 campaign '-- he said it was "not a wall" but a "little fence" that could be scaled with a ladder.
"Now we got lucky because it was such a little wall, it was such a nothing wall, no, they couldn't get their environmental '-- probably a snake was in the way or a toad," Trump said. (Actually, the project didn't face environmental hurdles; we rated that part of the claim Mostly False.)
A 2016 Associated Press report from the border described the fencing as "rust-colored thick bars" that form "teeth-like slats." That includes the steel fence dividing Nogales in Arizona and Mexico, which is between 18 and 26 feet tall. "There are miles of gaps between segments and openings in the fence itself," the AP reported.
The Democrats' offer to Trump is a continuing resolution on last year's appropriations act, which provided $1.3 billion for fencing and additional money for other types of border security. The language made it so that the funds could only be used on repairing or extending fencing that had already been built under the 2006 law.
We're rated similar statements in which the Trump administration has claimed Democrats wanted a wall as Half True, but here, Trump goes farther. Democrats have not changed their stance on the border fencing they previously supported; they simply don't support the more ambitious wall Trump proposes.
Our ruling
Trump said Schumer has "has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president."
Schumer, along with tens of other Democrats including former President Barack Obama, voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized building a fence along about 700 miles of the border between the United States and Mexico. That's the majority of the barrier in place today along the southern border.
However, the fence was mocked as a "nothing wall" by Trump in the past and was far less ambitious, both politically and physically, than the wall Trump wants to build now.
Finally, Trump says the Democrats no longer support their previous position simply because he wants it. But Democrats have actually proposed current funding for the fencing that was approved in 2006.
We rate this statement Mostly False.
Desalination Creating Toxic Brine Pollution in Saudi Arabia - Bloomberg
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 23:31
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The most segregated schools may not be in the states you'd expect - The Washington Post
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 23:26
Linda Brown Smith was a third-grader when her father started a class-action suit in 1951. His case '-- Brown v. Board of Education '-- would lead the Supreme Court in 1954 to strike down state segregation laws in a landmark ruling. (AP)Sixty years ago this Saturday, the Supreme Court found state laws imposing segregation unconstitutional.
Progress has been made, but the nation has been slipping, according to a new report analyzing government data from UCLA's Civil Rights Project. And the states where segregation is most prevalent today are not the ones where it reached its boiling point in the 1950s and 1960s.
Black students are most segregated in the NortheastThe Northeast was the only region where, on average, the share of black students in almost completely minority schools has risen since 1968, according to the report titled ''Brown at 60: Great Progress, a Long Retreat and an Uncertain Future.'' More than half '-- 51.4 percent '-- of black students in those states in 2011 were in schools whose student populations were 90 percent to 100 percent minorities. In every other region of the country '-- the Midwest, West, South and ''border'' states '-- black students today are less likely to be in heavily minority schools.
New York is one of the most segregated states for black students. It has the highest rate of black students in high-minority schools and the lowest rate of black exposure to white students. Illinois is second on both measures. Maryland is third when it comes to the share of black students in high-minority schools and fourth-lowest when it comes to black exposure to white students. California, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas also rank highly among the indicators suggesting high rates of segregation among blacks.
West Virginia is the most integrated state across the board. The share of black students in majority-white schools is incredibly high '-- 92.6 percent. No black students attend schools where the minority population is above 90 percent and exposure of black students to white students is the highest in the nation. Iowa and Kentucky battle it out for the number two spot among the three measures. Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska also rank among the most integrated states for blacks.
The nation is backslidingThe South had a long way to go. Even nine years after the Brown decision, 99 percent of blacks in the South were still in all-black schools. Segregation was effectively still in place. But in 1968, the Supreme Court ruled that states where segregation was worst had to desegregate completely and quickly. By 1970, Southern schools were the nation's most integrated.
Judicial and demographic changes have taken hold in the intervening years, of course, and other trends work against efforts to better integrate schools. Residential segregation is higher among school-aged children than the broader population, for example.
Critics also argue that a string of Supreme Court decisions in recent decades has unwound protections against segregation. A recent Stanford study found that a series of rulings in the 1990s removing judicial oversight from school districts has allowed schools to re-segregate.
''While the schools in these districts aren't becoming as segregated as they were before Brown, they are becoming much more segregated than they were 20 years ago,'' the paper's lead author, Prof. Sean Reardon, said in a statement at the time.
And the nation's demographic makeup has changed. The white share of the population has shed more than 10 percentage points since the 1960s and today stands at roughly 78 percent, according to census data. Blacks now account for 13 percent of the population, a gain of a few points since the 1960s . Hispanics are on the rise, too: Their share of the total population today is more than three times what it was in the 1970s.
Whatever the driving force, the national trend toward integration has not fared well in recent decades. The share of blacks in majority-white schools peaked in the late 1980s and is now back to 23 percent, where it was in 1968.
For students of each race '-- especially whites '-- most classmates look like themToday, a typical white student is likely to attend a school where about three in four students is also white. That means that an average white student looking around a typical 30-person classroom in her school will see 22 other white students, four Latinos, two blacks, an Asian and one more who would qualify under an ''other'' racial category.
A typical black student today would see 15 blacks, eight whites, five Latinos, one Asian and one student of another racial category.
A typical Latino student in a 30-person class would likely have 17 Latino classmates, eight white ones, three black and one Asian and one other.
An Asian student is likely to have 12 white classmates, seven Asian ones, seven Latino ones, three black ones and an ''other.''
Whites are most isolated '-- that is, they are more likely to see peers of a similar race around them. Latinos are next, followed by blacks and Asians.
Segregation and poverty are closely linkedThe experience of segregation is about more than just exposure to people of different backgrounds.
For black and Latino students, poverty is tightly linked with segregation (when measured as being in a school with a 91 percent or greater minority population). For more than 8 in 10 black and Latino students in such highly segregated schools, more than 70 percent of their peers are poor.
But black and Latino students attending the least segregated schools '-- those with less than 10 percent minority populations '-- have a very different experience. Fewer than 1 in 10 of those black and Latino students is surrounded by such high rates poverty.
House votes to reopen Treasury Dept., IRS | TheHill
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 23:03
The Democratic-led House approved a bill Wednesday to reopen the Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service and Small Business Administration, among other federal agencies.
The chamber voted 240-188 to advance the measure, with eight Republicans bucking party lines to back the bill, which is the first of four bills expected to be brought to the floor by Democrats.
The Republicans who voted to advance the measure Wednesday included Reps. Elise Stefanik Elise Marie StefanikHere are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown Juan Williams: The GOP's worsening problem with women GOP congresswoman says she opted out of NRCC run because McCarthy had 'a different plan' MORE (N.Y.), Will Hurd William Ballard HurdGOP lawmaker: If there's an immigration crisis, the people dealing with it 'should get paid' The Hill's Morning Report '-- Back to the drawing board as shutdown reaches 19 days 116th Congress breaks records for women, minority lawmakers MORE (Texas), Fred Upton Frederick (Fred) Stephen UptonThe Hill's Morning Report '-- Back to the drawing board as shutdown reaches 19 days Pence seeks GOP unity, urging lawmakers to 'stand strong' with Trump House Dems make gun control action an early priority MORE (Mich.), John Katko John Michael KatkoHouse approves new Dem rules package Midterm results shake up national map How Republicans who voted against ObamaCare repeal fared in midterms MORE (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick Brian K. FitzpatrickThe Hill's Morning Report '-- Back to the drawing board as shutdown reaches 19 days House Dems make gun control action an early priority Here are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown MORE (Pa.), Greg Walden Gregory (Greg) Paul WaldenGOP commissioner on federal energy panel dies Puerto Ricans may have elected Rick Scott and other midterm surprises GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing proposal MORE (Ore.), Adam Kinzinger Adam Daniel KinzingerFBI investigating after someone impersonating Pence aide texted GOP lawmakers: Wall Street Journal Mattis exit leaves Trump, US further isolated Hillary Clinton slams Trump's Syria withdrawal: 'This President is putting our national security at grave risk' MORE (Ill.) and Herrera Beutler (Wash.).
Senate Republicans assert they will not take up any spending legislation to end the partial shutdown unless President Trump Donald John TrumpDem strategist says party's leaders struggle to relate to Americans Mexican president staying out of wall debate, calling it an internal US matter China vows to buy 'substantial amount' of American goods and services, US trade agency says MORE has agreed to sign it.
The odds of a shutdown ending anytime soon appeared to worsen on Wednesday, with Trump and Democratic leaders ripping each other after a meeting at the White House ended abruptly.
Trump said Speaker Nancy Pelosi Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDem strategist says party's leaders struggle to relate to Americans Pelosi, Schumer response tops Trump speech in preliminary ratings Conway preemptively chides 'phony-baloney' polls showing Trump speech didn't boost support for wall MORE (D-Calif.) refused to consider his demand for money to fund construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a major sticking point in negotiations.
Democrats stressed on the 19th day of the shutdown that they will not support any legislation that provides the $5.7 billion requested by Trump for the border barrier.
Trump has repeatedly said he won't sign any spending bill to reopen about 25 percent of the federal government unless it provides the wall funding.
Democratic leaders have called on the president to support legislation to reopen other areas of the government ahead of attempting to tackle funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
Top Democrats argue Republicans are holding the government hostage over the border wall while Republicans allege Democrats are playing politics and failing to negotiate in good faith.
Democrats saw a slight uptick in Republican members willing to support a clean bill after just seven GOP lawmakers voted last week in favor of a spending package aimed at funding the bulk of the remaining agencies through the end of the fiscal year and five Republican members voting in favor of a continuing resolution to fund DHS through Feb. 8.
Ancient Japanese Food Craft Brings Persimmons To American Palates : The Salt : NPR
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 23:02
Beloved in eastern Asia, especially Japan, persimmons get little respect in the United States, where many tree owners don't bother harvesting their crop. Alastair Bland/for NPR hide caption
toggle caption Alastair Bland/for NPR Beloved in eastern Asia, especially Japan, persimmons get little respect in the United States, where many tree owners don't bother harvesting their crop.
Alastair Bland/for NPR Each autumn, as leaves fall to the ground, persimmon trees emerge from the graying landscape, their orange and red fruits gleaming like gaudy Christmas ornaments. Beloved in eastern Asia '-- especially Japan '-- persimmons get little respect in the United States, where many tree owners don't bother harvesting their crop.
Many Americans have never tasted a persimmon. But Brock Dolman is an impassioned fan. Every fall he goes foraging for them, and the bounty is almost limitless in rural Sonoma County, Calif., where he lives.
"You can drive or ride your bike around the county, and you see these enormous trees all over with just thousands and thousands of persimmons," says Dolman, the co-founder of a permaculture center and demonstration farm in the town of Occidental.
The rise of the persimmon
There are lots of ways to eat and prepare this fruit. Many varieties, including the fuyu and suruga, are crunchy and can be eaten right off the tree like apples. Others, including the hachiya, saijo and chocolate, are considered astringent varieties. Rich in tannins, they are unpalatable until allowed to ripen to a jelly-soft texture, at which point they can be eaten out of hand or used in baking.
Several years ago, Dolman learned of a new way to prepare persimmons '-- a Japanese style called hoshigaki. A revered delicacy in its homeland, hoshigaki is now a rapidly trending fashion '-- thanks in large part to social media photo galleries and persimmons' expanding appearance on restaurant menus '-- in California, the East Coast and other regions with persimmon-friendly climates.
In Japanese, hoshigaki means simply "dried persimmon," yet describes a product of such labor that it has been called the Kobe beef of fruits. To make hoshigaki, producers use twine to suspend peeled persimmons '-- always of astringent varieties '-- from bamboo racks, often outdoors in the sun, other times indoors near a fan or over a warm stove. The process can take between one and two months, and every few days caretakers give regular massages to the softening persimmons, which shrivel, turn dark brown and crust over with natural sugar.
Dolman says he learned the craft both from speaking to those with firsthand experience and by watching YouTube tutorials. He has gotten the hang of the technique and recently massaged his fourth hoshigaki crop '-- harvested from a tree in a nearby park '-- toward completion. He has just a handful left of his 2017 vintage.
"I share them only with select friends who will really appreciate them," he says, adding that he often serves them with aged sheep or goat cheese.
Sonoko Sakai, a Los Angeles-based food author, spent years of her childhood in Japan, and is today one of California's hoshigaki gurus. Sakai's family was friendly with a major commercial hoshigaki producer in the Japanese city of Ogaki.
"They would send us a box each year as a gift, and there were seven of us and just eight hoshigaki in the box, so they were very special," Sakai says. The family served the fruits with tea or, sometimes, sliced them thinly and applied them as a garnish over kakinamasu '-- a daikon and persimmon pickle dish.
Drawing in millennials
She only learned to dry her own persimmons about eight years ago, but she has eaten and appreciated them all her life. Today, she teaches hoshigaki classes. People of all ethnicities and backgrounds attend the workshops, she says, but one thing many have in common is that they are all relatively young.
"Lots of millennials," says Sakai, who is 63. "I think it's so interesting that these younger people are realizing that it's rewarding to slow down, use their hands, be patient and learn these artisanal practices from other countries."
Dangling, massaging and drying persimmons could be seen as the antithesis to what so much of Western culture now demands and expects '-- instantaneous gratification, ordered digitally with the push of a button.
There are lots of ways to eat and prepare persimmons, but many Americans aren't sure what to do with the fruit. Alastair Bland/for NPR hide caption
toggle caption Alastair Bland/for NPR There are lots of ways to eat and prepare persimmons, but many Americans aren't sure what to do with the fruit.
Alastair Bland/for NPR "Hoshigaki is the epitome of slow food," Dolman says.
The tradition came to the United States with Japanese immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, and it has persisted in a relatively confined cultural circle for decades. Tosh Kuratomi, of Otow Orchard, a major persimmon farm in California, is among those who carried the torch and helped deliver the arcane knowledge of hoshigaki into the age of the Internet.
Now, as the do-it-yourself wisdom of hoshigaki circulates online, there seems to be little danger that the practice will go by the wayside, as has happened with many ancient food arts.
Sakai notes that interest seems to have surged in the past two years especially, and points out that making hoshigaki "really isn't that difficult."
"It's easier than making jam," she says.
In Bethlehem, Pa., Bassem Samaan, who owns a nursery called Trees of Joy, has grown and eaten his own persimmons for more than a decade. In 2016, he dangled and dried several dozen after learning the technique through Internet research, YouTube videos and advice from experienced friends, including a Japanese-American hoshigaki-maker.
Joel Franceschi, of Sonoma County, used to travel in Japan for work. There, he saw bright orange orbs hanging on strings outside homes in mountain villages.
"I did a little asking around and some Google searching, and I figured out what they were doing," he says.
He began making hoshigaki five years ago, mainly from fruits he acquires by knocking on strangers' doors. His very tastiest hoshigaki, Franceschi says, are those that he dunked in brandy immediately after peeling and prior to hanging.
But there are different ways to make hoshigaki, and farmer Jeffrey Rieger, owner of Penryn Orchard in California's Sierra Nevada foothills, disagrees with Franceschi's technique.
"Touching alcohol to them can ruin the process," he says.
Rieger grows several varieties of persimmons and has been making hoshigaki since 2005.
"It was a struggle to sell them at first," says Rieger, who says his persimmons, because multiple varieties are cross-pollinated, "are the sweetest in the country."
But with demand rising, Rieger says, this year he sold out his hoshigaki supply through online orders almost immediately.
A challenge for newbies
For newbies making their first hoshigaki batch, failure rates can be high. Mold can be an issue if the humidity is too high or the temperature is too low. For instance, I tried my own hand at making hoshigaki this fall from persimmons collected in and around Sebastopol, Calif. I used bamboo shoots to make a rack and twine to hang the persimmons. Though my project had the look of authenticity, the fruits did not dry rapidly enough, and as a moldy fuzz began to appear on the fruits, I rescued them from spoilage and finished them in my dehydrator.
To make hoshigaki, producers use twine to suspend peeled persimmons from bamboo racks. The process can take between one and two months, and caretakers give regular massages to the softening persimmons. Alastair Bland/for NPR hide caption
toggle caption Alastair Bland/for NPR To make hoshigaki, producers use twine to suspend peeled persimmons from bamboo racks. The process can take between one and two months, and caretakers give regular massages to the softening persimmons.
Alastair Bland/for NPR But when everything works as planned, each fruit's surface turns gummy and solid, while inside the tannins break down and the fruit softens into pulp. Finished hoshigaki are dark burgundy to black in color, often with a fluffy crust of sugar on the surface.
"You're turning a fruit that's totally inedible when it's not ripe into a sweet jewel," says Sakai, whose forthcoming book, Japanese Home Cooking, will include a section on hoshigaki.
And maybe that will turn more Americans onto this unusual jewel-toned fruit.
Alastair Bland is a freelance writer based in Sebastopol, Calif., who covers food, agriculture and the environment.
National Teams - Luge Canada
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 22:51
Events:SinglesTeamSenior National TeamSex:MHeight:194cmWeight:75.0kgBirth Date:December 22, 1998Hometown:Whistler, BCJunior Team:3 yearsSenior Team:2 yearsOccupation:StudentTwitter@reidlugeReid got hooked on the sport of luge after watching a bobsleigh race rip down the Whistler Sliding Centre. Shortly after, he had his mom sign him up for a recruitment camp because he was forever asking to go back to the track. Reid took his first run, and it was the greatest rush of his life. He has never looked back and is now a member of Canada's national senior team who has demonstrated enormous potential.
Reid had a breakout season in 2016 where he had his name etched in the history books as the first Canadian to win a medal at the Youth Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Reid slid to the bronze in men's singles.
Reid credited the historic performance to Luge Canada and his hometown track '' Whistler Sliding Centre '' that introduced him to the sport. Showing tremendous potential having racked up seven medals on the Junior World Cup circuit before advancing into the senior ranks, Luge Canada created an opportunity for Reid two years ago after the Christmas break to join the World Cup Team for three races '' a strategic move to fully prepare the promising teen, and nation, for a shot at the Youth Olympic Games luge podium.
Equally valuable was the venue that introduced Watts and a growing pool of legacy babies on Canada's west coast to the sliding sports.
Reid stepped forward and showed the Canadian sliding community he is ready to carry the torch into a new generation of men's singles sliding by finishing 12th at his Olympic debut in PyeongChang, Korea.
Outside of luge, Reid enjoys biking and skiing. He attends school at Whistler Secondary.
Career Highlights2018 '' Olympic Winter Games, PyeongChang, KOR: 122018 '' World Cup, Lillehammer, NOR: 202018 '' World Cup, Calgary, CAN: 172017 '' World Championships, Igls, AUT: 262016 '' World Cup, Lake Placid, USA: 182016 '' Junior Canadian Championships, Whistler, CAN: 12016 '' Youth Olympic Winter Games, Lillehammer, NOR: 3 (singles), 4 (team relay)2016 '' Junior World Championships, Winterberg, GER: 142016 '' World Championships, Konigssee, GER: 292016 '' World Cup, Sigulda, LAT: 322015 '' Junior World Cup, Konigssee, GER: 32015 '' Canadian Championships, Whistler, CAN: 3 (singles), 2 (doubles)2015 '' Junior World Cup, Winterberg, GER: 42015 '' Junior World Cup, Oberhof, GER: 11, 32015 '' Junior World Championships, Lillehammer, NOR: 142014 '' Junior World Cup, Park City, USA: 12014 '' Junior World Cup, Whistler, CAN: 4, 2, 2, 1, 32014 '' Youth World Cup, Konigssee, GER: 102014 '' Youth World Cup, Oberhof, GER: 92014 '' Youth World Championships, Innsbruck, AUT: 20
Past Results2017/2018 SeasonDateEventPlaceFeb. 11PyeongChang Olympics12Jan. 28Sigulda World Cup30Jan. 21Lillehammer World Cup20Jan. 14Oberhof World Cup25Dec. 16Lake Placid World Cup25Dec. 8Calgary America Pacific Championships5Oct. 14Calgary Canadian Championships32016/2017 SeasonDateEventPlaceMar. 9Whistler Jr. Canadian1Feb. 19PyeongChang World Cup21Jan. 29Innsbruck FIL World Championships26Jan. 29Innsbruck FIL World Championships10Jan. 15Innsbruck Jr. World Cup6Jan. 6Konigssee World Cup26Dec. 17Park City World Cup28Dec. 17Park City America Pacific Championships6Dec. 10Whistler World Cup26Dec. 3Lake Placid World Cup18Oct. 22Whistler Canadian Championships32015/2016 SeasonDateEventPlaceMar. 11Whistler Jr. Canadian1Feb. 14Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games4Feb. 14Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games3Feb. 7Winterberg FIL Junior World Championships14Jan. 31Konigssee FIL World Championships29Jan. 31Konigssee FIL World Championships13Jan. 10Sigulda World Cup32Dec. 12Igls Jr. World Cup47Dec. 6Konigssee Jr. World Cup3Oct. 31Whistler Canadian Championships3Oct. 31Whistler Canadian Championships (Doubles) 22014/2015 SeasonDateEventPlaceFeb. 6Winterberg Jr. World Cup4Jan. 30Igls Jr. World Cup54Jan. 30Igls Jr. World Cup7Jan. 24Oberhof Jr. World Cup11Jan. 24Oberhof Jr. World Cup3Jan. 16Lillehammer FIL Junior World Championships14Dec. 15Park City Jr. World Cup1Dec. 7Whistler Jr. World Cup4Dec. 6Whistler Jr. World Cup2Dec. 6Whistler Jr. World Cup2Dec. 4Whistler Jr. World Cup1Dec. 4Whistler Jr. World Cup32013/2014 SeasonDateEventPlaceJan. 25Oberhof Jr. World Cup9Jan. 19Konigssee Jr. World Cup10
Mysterious radio signals from deep space detected - BBC News
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 21:33
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Artwork: A highly magnetised rotating neutron star. Astronomers say one of these could be a source of the signals Astronomers have revealed details of mysterious signals emanating from a distant galaxy, picked up by a telescope in Canada.
The precise nature and origin of the blasts of radio waves is unknown.
Among the 13 fast radio bursts, known as FRBs, was a very unusual repeating signal, coming from the same source about 1.5 billion light years away.
Such an event has only been reported once before, by a different telescope.
"Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there," said Ingrid Stairs, an astrophysicist from the University of British Columbia (UBC).
"And with more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles - where they're from and what causes them."
The CHIME observatory, located in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, consists of four 100-metre-long, semi-cylindrical antennas, which scan the entire northern sky each day.
The telescope only got up and running last year, detecting 13 of the radio bursts almost immediately, including the repeater.
Image copyright CHIME experiment Image caption Canada's new radio telescope, CHIME The research has now been published in the journal Nature.
"We have discovered a second repeater and its properties are very similar to the first repeater," said Shriharsh Tendulkar of McGill University, Canada.
"This tells us more about the properties of repeaters as a population."
FRBs are short, bright flashes of radio waves, which appear to be coming from almost halfway across the Universe.
More stories you might like:Light shed on mystery space radio pulses
Mystery cosmic radio bursts pinpointed
So far, scientists have detected about 60 single fast radio bursts and two that repeat. They believe there could be as many as a thousand FRBs in the sky every day.
There are a number of theories about what could be causing them.
They include a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field that is spinning very rapidly, two neutron stars merging together, and, among a minority of observers, some form of alien spaceship.
Follow Helen on Twitter.
Trump Storms Out of White House Meeting with Democrats on Shutdown - The New York Times
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 21:05
Politics | Trump Storms Out of White House Meeting with Democrats on Shutdown Image A Park Service ranger looked out at the Washington Monument on Tuesday. The Parks Service is not being funded during the government shutdown. Credit Credit Tom Brenner for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- President Trump slammed his hand on a table and stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said she would not fund a wall along the southern border, dramatically escalating the confrontation over the government shutdown.
Stunned Democrats emerged from the White House meeting declaring that Mr. Trump had thrown a ''temper tantrum.'' The president's allies accused Democrats of refusing to negotiate. Then he tweeted that the meeting was ''a total waste of time.''
Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019The afternoon altercation came after President Trump appeared to rally nervous Senate Republicans around his strategy to keep parts of the government closed until Democrats accede to his demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall.
Emerging from the lunchtime meeting on Capitol Hill, Mr. Trump declared that Republicans were ''totally unified'' even if he faced some questions about ''strategy.'' Largely, senators signaled that they agreed.
Image Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, spoke about the government shutdown during a press conference with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and federal workers. Credit Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times ''There was no discussion about anything other than solidarity,'' Mr. Trump said.
The president's defiance, and his apparent success at lining up his restive party behind him '-- at least for now '-- all but ensures that the impasse will continue into the foreseeable future. Democrats reiterated their own entrenched position on Wednesday, insisting the president end the shutdown that has affected 800,000 federal workers and rippled through the economy before settling the border dispute.
Moderate Republicans who entered the room confident that senators were coalescing around the idea that the government should be reopened while the border security debate continues left disappointed, convinced that for now, the party would follow Mr. Trump perilously further into a shutdown with an uncertain end.
Video As the government shutdown grinds on, President Trump laid out his case for the border wall. Top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were not convinced. Published On Jan. 8, 2019 Credit Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times A handful of them, including Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and James Lankford of Oklahoma, pressed Mr. Trump on the mounting impact on federal workers and related industries in their states. His response was consistent.
''I was able to raise the issues that I have with using a shutdown,'' Ms. Murkowski said. ''He listened and urged that we all stick together.''
For now, at least, the president's forceful response in the meeting and on television, has papered over cracks that threatened to upend his negotiating position.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security, said before the lunch meeting that she could potentially support reopening the government as talks continued on border security.
''I mean, I think I could live with that,'' Ms. Capito said. She said she expected pressure from federal employees and voters in her state would only mount the longer the impasse drags on. ''I've expressed more than a few times the frustrations with a government shutdown and how useless it is, so that pressure's going to build,'' she said.
But she apparently did not speak forcefully in the private lunch with the president.
Nor did Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, who lamented on Wednesday morning that government shutdowns ''never work'' and turn federal workers into ''pawns.'' Though Senate Republicans had not reached a point of direct intervention yet, he said, ''we're getting pretty close.''
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is A Perfect Foil For The Pro-Trump Media
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 20:54
Here's an incomplete summary of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's social feeds in the last 24 hours: 30-plus tweets that include news articles about working-class voters; well-meaning jabs at Brooklyn residents for their ''bespoke quiche spots''; explainers on top tax rates; retweeted promos for an upcoming interview; developing policy proposals about a Green New Deal; a series of tweets dunking on a CNN journalist for a misleading remark about her policies; a six-tweet thread criticizing false equivalency in media fact-checking. Over on Instagram Ocasio-Cortez posted a photo of her swearing-in with the caption, ''We open doors so others can walk through them'' as well as a nine-part Instagram Story walking her audience through the experience of watching her first 60 Minutes profile (''I'm terrified''). Arguments, news, some earnest self-promotion, policy explanation, and a touch of media criticism '-- not bad for a Sunday evening into Monday morning.
My colleague Katherine Miller described the visceral appeal of Ocasio-Cortez's Instagram as a fun experiment in living vicariously through the congresswoman's rise. ''She's acting like a regular person. She embodies this surrealist thing of, like, 'WHAT IF'...you were elected to Congress? What would happen next? What would you do?''' It's good entertainment and a clever way to get 4,500 concurrent viewers to listen to her a policy discussion 9 p.m. on a random Wednesday. In other words, it's a refreshing, natural mode of politicking that feels perfectly of the moment.
But for those who've been paying attention to the new, online dynamics of our fractured and chaotic political media ecosystem over the past three years, there's something familiar about Ocasio-Cortez's extremely online persona that goes well beyond entertainment. It appears to be immediate, organic, and unfiltered. Her feeds are equal parts proactive and reactive. And, crucially, they are relentless, keeping Ocasio-Cortez in the news cycle. She's an insurgent, internet-native political force. Which makes her a perfect foil for a different, oxygen-sucking brand of political warfare: the pro-Trump media.
To be clear, these entities are far from carbon copies '-- one is a sitting congresswoman and the other is a loose conglomeration of shock jocks, media personalities, conspiracy theorists, and trolls arguing on behalf of a billionaire president with a 41% approval rating and a 53% disapproval rating. And while the tone, tenor, and endgame of their politics are vastly different '-- one pushes tax legislation, the other Trump propaganda and stories about Clinton-adjacent pizza parlor child sex dungeons '-- they both know how to captivate and play to their audiences, leveraging the power of their followings, deflecting criticism, and staying on the offensive at all costs. That means being unafraid to get in the mix. Here's how my colleague described Ocasio-Cortez's Twitter prowess: ''She argues in threads, dunks on semi-randos, and is ready to mock the attempted sick own, harvesting and redirecting its power.'' Sound familiar?
The pro-Trump media seems to think so. Back in November, when Ocasio-Cortez was still a representative-elect, pro-Trump pundits were already remarking on her talents. ''AOC is using social media to show exactly what the transition to power is like, and will give a front-row seat to her day to day experience in Congress,'' pro-Trump Twitter personality Jack Posobiec tweeted, calling her livestreams a form of ''reality politics'' and hinting that Trump has been urged to do the same.
''Reality politics'' echoes the ''reality news'' moniker the pro-Trump media used for itself around the time of the president's inauguration. At the time, Mike Cernovich, another pro-Trump media personality, described it as ''raw, low-production-value/high-entertainment-value content." "They want it GoPro'd and Facebook Live'd '-- they want it unfiltered,'' he said. The appeal, he and others explained, was twofold: First, this content is not a simple sound bite, so there's little fear of being taken out of context. It feels genuine and transparent, particularly if you're livestreaming all the time. More importantly, it's agenda-setting. Constant content creation forces your opponent to respond to you.
It's a strategy that's working fantastically well for Ocasio-Cortez, who's pulled off the rare Trump-era feat of dominating online and cable news cycles virtually every day since she was sworn into office last week.
And she's leveraging that coverage to float trial balloons on various policy topics, like a Green New Deal or a progressive tax rate. Tweets, dunks, and livestreams beget media appearances and coverage; the media appearances and coverage beget more tweets, dunks, and livestreams. The cycle repeats. And it works. As Cernovich tweeted last week, ''Everyone is talking about AOC's tax plan....and she's 29 and got sworn in a day ago. Lololol do people even understand this all?''
While the savvier in MAGA-land understand Ocasio-Cortez is a worthy adversary, some of their colleagues in the pro-Trump media appear to have had their brains scrambled by the congresswoman's sudden prominence in the political conversation. Last week, an unknown Guy Fawkes''avatared Twitter account called ''Anonymous Q'' posted a decade-old video of Ocasio-Cortez dancing as a college student. The intent was to portray her as unserious and unworthy of office. It backfired '-- catastrophically. ''Anonymous Q'' was quickly ratioed into oblivion while Ocasio-Cortez's Twitter response racked up 5 million views in as many hours.
Similarly, on Sunday night the pro-Trump publication Gateway Pundit published an ''exclusive'' article claiming Ocasio-Cortez went by ''Sandy'' instead of Alexandra during her college years. The story was billed as a scandalous reveal. But like the ''Anonymous Q'' tweet, it was largely laughed off the internet as another bungled attack. Meanwhile, more substantive criticisms struggle to take root '-- in part because Ocasio-Cortez is quick to acknowledge missteps, but also because she's constantly moving forward, advancing her argument, tweaking the agenda, and otherwise antiquating those cable news chyrons that might seek to belittle her. As Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson lamented on Twitter last November, ''All these lame efforts to roast Ocasio-Cortez are only making her (and socialism) look better.''
And now the pro-Trump media, which just two years ago had proclaimed itself a sort of new new media, is looking an awful lot like its traditional cable counterpart '-- old and out of touch. Like the Parkland teens last year, Ocasio-Cortez wields her generational stance as a weapon '-- she's born of the internet and instinctively excels at modern political information warfare. She leans into conflict and she's quick with a quote retweet. Last November she dismissed some critical tweets from Sarah Palin as ''grandpa emails.'' She's playing by the new rules of the internet while septuagenarian pundits on Fox Business are tsk-tsking and calling her ''little girl.''
Perhaps all this simply boils down to "being good at social media" '-- Ocasio-Cortez is certainly that. It's unclear if her strategy is sustainable (constant online sparring is a high-risk/high-reward game) or whether it translates into the kind of governance and progressive legislation that made her the youngest House representative in history (though the Green New Deal she's championed has quickly become a litmus test for Democratic presidential hopefuls). But as Trump and his media apparatus have demonstrated repeatedly, when our political discussion is so easily influenced by what happens on Twitter, the ability to dominate that conversation becomes the ability to dictate the news cycle. And that, for better or worse, looks a lot like power.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO worth $137 billion, to divorce wife of 25 years | Fox News
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 20:07
Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie are divorcing after 25 years of marriage, the Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner has announced, potentially leading to the costliest divorce settlement in history with $137 billion at stake.
The richest man in the world, currently worth about $137 billion, according to Bloomberg, made the divorce announcement on Wednesday on his Twitter.
''We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,'' read the statement signed by both of them.
JOHN STOSSEL: WHY AMAZON AND JEFF BEZOS HAVE ME FEELING REALLY DISAPPOINTED RIGHT NOW
The split could lead the costliest divorce is history, even if the couple doesn't divide the money equally. There are no reports indicating the couple has a prenuptial agreement, meaning the wealth accumulated during their marriage would have to be split evenly.
Bezos also became a millionaire only in 1997 '' four years after they got married. MacKenzie reportedly was one of the first Amazon's employees.
Experts say that it's unlikely MacKenzie will gain control of Amazon after the divorce, with the divorce agreement mostly focusing dividing the family's personal wealth.
''This seems to be the most amicable and cordial relationship that split up, which leads me to believe whatever the agreement is going to be, it will purely be financial and beneficial,'' Juda Engelmayer, a crisis management expert and president of HeraldPR, told Fox News.
''It's not going to be the control of the company,'' he continued. ''Will it affect his personal wealth and split it in half? Quite possibly,'' he added, though noted that a lot of the Bezos' wealth is tied to Amazon's performance.
"Will it affect [Jeff Bezos'] personal wealth and split it in half? Quite possibly."
'-- Juda Engelmayer
The current most expensive divorce belongs to billionaire art dealer Alec Wildenstein and New York socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein, dubbed ''Catwoman.'' She won roughly $2.5 billion in the divorce settlement, shattering all the records.
AMAZON IS GOING TO START DELIVERING PACKAGES INSIDE YOUR GARAGE SO THEY DON'T GET STOLEN
Bezos first met his wife in New York after interviewing her for a research job at a hedge fund, where he worked as vice president, MacKenzie told Vogue magazine in 2013.
''My office was next door to his, and all day long I listened to that fabulous laugh. How could you not fall in love with that laugh?'' she told the magazine.
They got engaged after three months of dating and eventually got married in 1993. Together with his new wife, he shortly left his job on Wall Street and resettled in Seattle where he founded Amazon, initially an online bookstore.
Their marriage lasted 25 years and they are parents to four children, including three sons and one daughter who was adopted from China.
''We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other. If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again,'' the statement added.
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''We've had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures. Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.''
Amazon has been deemed the most valuable company in the world, worth nearly $810 billion. In September, it briefly surpassed the trillion-dollar valuation. It valued $20 billion more than Microsoft.
Swiss woman is charged with assault after slapping Afghan migrant who kept groping her | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 20:06
The unnamed Swiss woman was allegedly groped in Vienna on New Year's Eve She has now been arrested on an assault charge after breaking the man's nose Former MP and businessman Christoph Blocher has offered to pay her fine ByGeorge Martin For Mailonline
Published: 09:39 EST, 7 January 2019 | Updated: 09:39 EST, 7 January 2019
A Swiss woman has been charged with assault after slapping an Afghan migrant who allegedly groped her during a New Year's Eve street party.
The unnamed woman, 21, was said to have left the man with a broken nose when he reportedly groped her during a party at the City Hall in the Austrian capital Vienna.
After news of the charges against her were made public, a wealthy Swiss businessman has stepped in with an offer to pay the fine on her behalf.
Former MP and bigwig of the conservative Swiss People's Party (SVP) Christoph Blocher was one of many that defended the actions of the 21-year-old woman.
The 21-year-old woman claimed to have been groped by the man during New Year's celebrations at City Hall, Vienna, Austria (pictured)
Blocher, an industrialist and influential figure in Swiss politics despite his retirement, said: 'If the woman gets punished, I will gladly pay the fine.'
He added: 'How should a woman defend herself otherwise if that is not allowed?'
Swiss businessman Christoph Blocher has offered to pay her fine
Blocher admitted that he would have reacted in the same way if someone had tried to steal his wallet, for example.
Local media alleged that a 20-year-old Afghan suspect was part of a migrant gang who were allegedly assaulting women in the crowd during the New Year celebrations.
According to the Vienna Police, the Swiss woman reacted angrily when she was fondled by the migrant and smacked him full in the face.
Witnesses called the police at 1.30am to report the incident.
At the same time, the suspect went to see cops on the square as he reportedly had a broken nose.
He was taken to hospital to be treated and a criminal charge for sexual harassment was filed against the 20-year-old Afghan, and a criminal complaint against the victim for GBH.
Under Austrian law, the police have a duty to file a criminal complaint when the alleged offence is of such severity that prosecutors have no choice but to pursue it.
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Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston defends role as disabled millionaire
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 19:17
Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston has defended playing a disabled character in his new film, saying it is an actor's job to play different people.
The star plays a quadriplegic billionaire in comedy-drama The Upside, alongside comedian Kevin Hart, whose character is a recently paroled criminal hired as a carer.
Cranston, who is able-bodied, spoke out about his latest role as debate continues in Hollywood about parts for minority groups.
:: Bryan Cranston confirms Breaking Bad film is in the works
Image: Cranston says it is 'worthy for debate to discuss the issues'The actor is best known for his award-winning performance as science teacher-turned-drug dealer Walter White in Breaking Bad, in which his son, Walt Jr, has cerebral palsy.
Walt Jr was played by RJ Mitte, who has the disability himself.
Speaking about his latest film, Cranston said that while he was aware of "the need to expand opportunities", his latest casting was a "business decision".
Image: RJ Mitte played Walt Jr in Breaking BadHe added: "We live in the world of criticism, if we're willing to get up and try something, we have to also be willing to take criticism. We're very aware of the need to expand the opportunities for people with disabilities.
"I think being cast in this role as a quadriplegic really came down to a business decision.
"As actors, we're asked to be other people, to play other people. If I, as a straight, older person, and I'm wealthy, I'm very fortunate, does that mean I can't play a person who is not wealthy, does that mean I can't play a homosexual?
"I don't know, where does the restriction apply, where is the line for that? I think it is worthy for debate to discuss those issues."
Image: Scarlett Johansson's role in Ghost In The Shell attracted controversy. Pic: ParamountStraight actor Darren Criss, who is known for playing gay characters including Blaine Anderson in Glee and killer Andrew Cunanan in American Crime Story: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace - for which he picked up a Golden Globe award earlier this week - recently ruled himself out of playing another homosexual part so as not to deprive an LGBT performer of a job.
Last year, Scarlett Johansson pulled out of film Rub & Tug amid a backlash over her casting as a transgender character.
And in 2017, the star faced criticism after being cast as the lead in Ghost In The Shell, a remake of a Japanese anime classic, with more than 100,000 people signing a petition saying the role should have gone to a Japanese actor.
Cranston described his situation as a "case of catch-22".
Co-star Hart - who recently pulled out of hosting the Oscars after a backlash over previous homophobic tweets - said the film's producers were looking for "box office success".
Hart said Cranston's performance encourages debate about the lack of opportunities for minority and marginalised groups.
The comedian spent time with carers to gain an insight into looking after a quadriplegic person in preparation for the film.
The Upside, a remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables, based on the life of businessman Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, is released in UK cinemas on 11 January.
EU hits Iran with sanctions after murder plots
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 19:13
The Hague (AFP)
The EU hit Iran's intelligence services with sanctions Tuesday after accusing Tehran of being behind plots to assassinate regime opponents on Dutch, Danish, and French soil.
The move by the 28-nation bloc was announced as the Dutch government said it believed Iran was behind the murders of two dissidents in 2015 and 2017.
"Very encouraging that (the) EU has just agreed on new targeted sanctions against Iran in response to hostile activities and plots being planned and perpetrated in Europe, including Denmark," Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said.
The "EU stands united -- such actions are unacceptable and must have consequences," he tweeted.
Sanctions include the freezing of funds and other financial assets of the Iranian intelligence ministry and individuals, officials said.
Denmark led efforts for sanctions after allegations that Tehran tried to kill three Iranian dissidents on Danish soil.
A manhunt related to the alleged plot against three Iranians suspected of belonging to the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA) led to the shutdown of bridges to Sweden and ferries on September 28.
France last year imposed sanctions on two suspected Iranian agents and others from Iran's ministry of intelligence and security.
The French security services concluded that the head of operations at the Iranian intelligence ministry had ordered a plot to bomb a rally of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) opposition group in a suburb of Paris in June last year -- which Tehran strongly denied.
"When the sanctions were announced, the Netherlands, together with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Denmark and Belgium met Iranian authorities," Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said.
The meeting conveyed "serious concerns regarding Iran's probable involvement in these hostile acts on EU territory," Blok said in a letter to the parliament in The Hague, also signed by Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren.
"Iran is expected to cooperate fully in removing the present concerns and, where necessary aiding in criminal investigations," the letter said.
"If such cooperation is not forthcoming, further sanctions cannot be ruled out," it added.
- Nuclear deal -
In the past, the EU has trod cautiously on Iran as it sought to save a beleaguered nuclear deal with Tehran after the US withdrew last year and imposed new sanctions.
The Dutch ministers said that at a meeting with Iranian officials "it was emphasised that the measures were not linked" to the Iran nuclear deal.
"Nevertheless, Iran will be held to account for all matters that affect EU and international security interests...," including the assassinations in the Netherlands in 2015 and 2017, the letter said.
Dutch police have previously named the two victims as Ali Motamed, 56, who was killed in the central city of Almere in December 2015, and Ahmad Molla Nissi, 52, murdered in The Hague in November 2017.
Dutch news reports had said Motamed was living in the Netherlands under a false name and is really Mohammad Reza Kolahi Samadi -- the man behind the largest bomb attack in Iran in 1981.
Nissi was shot dead in The Hague from a moving car, later found to have been stolen from a suburb outside Rotterdam.
Dutch police said Nissi was the chairman of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, a group working for the independence of the Ahwaz area in southwestern Iran.
Last June, the Netherlands expelled two Iranian embassy workers in connection with the murders.
Tehran at the time protested the expulsion as an "unfriendly and destructive move" and threatened to retaliate.
? 2019 AFP
Ad Blocking: What you need to know
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 19:07
What Is Ad Blocking? Technologies that consumers are using to prevent the download or display of advertising. Ad blockers exist for most desktop web browsers and are now beginning to impact mobile web browsing as well.
Read more IAB Ad Blocking Report: Who Blocks Ads, Why and How to Win Them Back Ad Blocking: Who Blocks Ads, Why, and How to Win Them Back , is an IAB research report conducted by C3Research that shows two-thirds of U.S. consumers using ad blockers could be convinced to uninstall their ad blocking software.
Read more .
Insights from the IAB Ad Blocking and User Experience Summ it Ad blocking is a globally pervasive phenomenon presenting publishers, brands, agencies, and ad technology providers with substantial challenges.
On June 6, 2016, IAB convened the IAB Ad Blocking and User Experience Summit to offer these constituencies the opportunity to provide each other with ''news you can use.'' Presenters offered research on ad blocking trends, insights into the issues underlying the phenomenon, and details about publisher-developed solutions and their effectiveness at converting ad blocking users into ad consumers. Read the
Seven Recommendations to Reduce the Impact of Ad Blocking. IAB Is Fighting Ad Blocking IAB is strongly opposed to ad blocking. We believe in an ad-supported internet.
Read more IAB Tech Lab Solutions Guidelines & Standards Detection / Post Detection Better User Experience Solutions The
LEAN Ads program outlines the principles that will help guide the next phases of advertising technical standards for the global digital advertising supply chain.
The
IAB Tech Lab Publisher Ad Blocking Primer outlines the tactics publishers are successfully employing to persuade users to stop deploying ad blockers. The primer identifies
DEAL (Detect, Explain, Ask, and Lift or Limit) as a recommended approach for publishers to connect with ad blocking consumers through a step-by-step process. We want to offer a LEAN user experience in order for us to make a DEAL with the customer. The primer documents and crystallizes a lot of different options available to publishers.
Ad Blocking in the News Study Finds Consumers Can Be Convinced To Uninstall Ad Blockers '' MediaPost IAB: Two-Thirds of Ad Block Users Are Open to Turning Off Software '' AdAge How to Persuade Consumers to Disable Ad Blockers '' The Wall Street Journal IAB Study Says 26% of Desktop Users Turn On Ad Blockers '' Adweek The Future of the Internet Is at Stake With Next-Generation Ad Blocking '' Advertising Age Publishers Making DEALs to Battle Ad Blocking in the U.S. and in Europe IAB Creates Guide for Publishers to Combat Ad Blocking '' Advertising Age IAB to Advertisers and Content Providers: 'We Messed Up' '' Advertising Age Ad Blocking: The Unnecessary Internet Apocalypse '' Advertising Age IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg on Ad Blocking, Viewability, Fraud '' The Wall Street Journal Apple's ad-blocking move causes big problems for retailers like Walmart '' Fortune Top iOS9 Ad Blocker Is Pulled From Apple App Store by Its Regretful Creator '' Advertising Age Global Ad Blocking Studies Ad Blocking: The Consumers Perspective | Infographic | IAB Australia IAB Canada Releases New Ad Blocking study | IAB Canada IAB UK Reveals Latest Ad Blocking Behaviour | IAB UK PwC OVK Ad Blocker Study | IAB Germany Statistics Ad blocking is estimated to cost publishers $22 billion in 2015 U.S. ad blocking grew by 48% YOY to reach 45 million active users in 12 months thru June 2015 There are 198 million active ad blocker users around the world Source: PageFair and Adobe's 2015 Ad Blocking Report: ''The cost of ad blocking,'' updated on August 26, 2015 IAB Members & IAB Tech Lab Members: Want to discuss Ad Blocking? Contact us at adblocking@iab.com
BP unlocks a billion oil barrels in Gulf of Mexico with new technology | Reuters
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 19:05
LONDON (Reuters) - BP said it has discovered two new oilfields in the Gulf of Mexico and has identified an additional billion barrels of oil at an existing field thanks to new seismic technology.
FILE PHOTO: The logo of BP is seen at a petrol station in Kloten, Switzerland October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
The British company, which has only recently turned a corner following the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, also on Tuesday announced plans to expand production at its Atlantis oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico, consolidating its status as the largest oil producer in that region.
The company has put a heavy emphasis on technology and data processing capabilities in recent years in order to unlock new resources and cut costs.
The $1.3 billion Atlantis Phase 3 development will include drilling eight wells and a new subsea production system that will boost BP's production by 38,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed). It is scheduled to start production in 2020.
Together with the new discoveries, BP aims to grow its Gulf of Mexico production from over 300,000 boed at present to 400,000 boed by the mid 2020s.
BP said that new seismic technology helped it identify an additional 1 billion barrels of oil at its Thunder Horse field within weeks, whereas previously it would have taken a year to analyze.
BP also announced oil discoveries in the Manuel and Nearly Headless Nick prospect in the Gulf. The Manuel prospect, half owned by Royal Dutch Shell, will be linked to the Na Kika platform.
''BP's Gulf of Mexico business is key to our strategy of growing production of advantaged high-margin oil,'' BP head of upstream Bernard Looney said in a statement.
''And these fields are still young '' only 12 percent of the hydrocarbons in place across our Gulf portfolio have been produced so far. We can see many opportunities for further development,'' he added.
BP said it is also considering the development of Atlantis phases 4 and 5 as well as expanding the Thunder Horse, Na Kika and Mad Dog fields.
Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Susan Fenton
Exclusive: How a Russian firm helped catch an alleged NSA data thief - POLITICO
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 19:03
The revelation introduces an ironic turn in the negative narrative the U.S. government has woven about Kaspersky Lab in recent years. | Pietro D'Aprano/Getty Images for Kaspersky Lab
Cybersecurity
The U.S. has accused Kaspersky Lab of working with Russian spies. But sources say the company exposed a massive breach that U.S. authorities missed.
The 2016 arrest of a former National Security Agency contractor charged with a massive theft of classified data began with an unlikely source: a tip from a Russian cybersecurity firm that the U.S. government has called a threat to the country.
Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab turned Harold T. Martin III in to the NSA after receiving strange Twitter messages in 2016 from an account linked to him, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation. They spoke with POLITICO on condition of anonymity because they're not authorized to discuss the case.
Story Continued Below
The company's role in exposing Martin is a remarkable twist in an increasingly bizarre case that is believed to be the largest breach of classified material in U.S. history.
It indicates that the government's own internal monitoring systems and investigators had little to do with catching Martin, who prosecutors say took home an estimated 50 terabytes of data from the NSA and other government offices over a two-decade period, including some of the NSA's most sophisticated and sensitive hacking tools.
The revelation also introduces an ironic turn in the negative narrative the U.S. government has woven about the Russian company in recent years.
Under both the Obama and Trump administrations, officials have accused the company of colluding with Russian intelligence to steal and expose classified NSA tools, and in 2016 the FBI engaged in an aggressive behind-the-scenes campaign to discredit the company and get its software banned from U.S. government computers on national security grounds. But even while the FBI was doing this, the Russian firm was tipping off the bureau to an alleged intelligence thief in the government's own midst.
"It's irony piled on irony that people who worked at Kaspersky, who were already in the sights of the U.S. intelligence community, disclosed to them that they had this problem,'' said Stewart Baker, general counsel for the NSA in the 1990s and a current partner at Steptoe and Johnson. It's also discouraging, he noted, that the NSA apparently still hasn't ''figured out a good way to find unreliable employees who are mishandling some of their most sensitive stuff.''
''We all thought [Martin] got caught by renewed or heightened scrutiny, and instead it looks as though he got caught because he was an idiot,'' he told POLITICO.
As for Kaspersky, news about its assistance in apprehending Martin likely won't satisfy detractors who believe the company can still be a tool of Russian intelligence even if it occasionally assists the U.S. government.
Martin, who is set to go to trial in June, was arrested Aug. 27, 2016 following a search of his home and was subsequently indicted in February 2017. He's been charged with 20 counts of unauthorized and willful retention of national defense information, each of which carries up to 10 years in prison.
The case unfolded after someone who U.S. prosecutors believe was Martin used an anonymous Twitter account with the name ''HAL999999999'' to send five cryptic, private messages to two researchers at the Moscow-based security firm. The messages, which POLITICO has obtained, are brief, and the communication ended altogether as abruptly as it began. After each researcher responded to the confusing messages, HAL999999999 blocked their Twitter accounts, preventing them from sending further communication, according to sources.
The first message sent on Aug. 13, 2016, asked for him to arrange a conversation with "Yevgeny" '-- presumably Kaspersky Lab CEO Eugene Kaspersky, whose given name is Yevgeny Kaspersky. The message didn't indicate the reason for the conversation or the topic, but a second message following right afterward said, "Shelf life, three weeks," suggesting the request, or the reason for it, would be relevant for a limited time.
The timing was remarkable '-- the two messages arrived just 30 minutes before an anonymous group known as Shadow Brokers began dumping classified NSA tools online and announced an auction to sell more of the agency's stolen code for the price of $1 million Bitcoin. Shadow Brokers, which is believed to be connected to Russian intelligence, said it had stolen the material from an NSA hacking unit that the cybersecurity community has dubbed the Equation Group.
The Twitter messages, along with clues Kaspersky researchers found that linked the Twitter account to Martin and his work in the U.S. intelligence community, led the researchers to wonder if Martin was connected to Shadow Brokers. This led the company to contact the NSA and suggest it investigate him, according to the sources.
POLITICO first reported the existence of the Twitter messages last week when they were mentioned in a court ruling made public after Martin's attorneys unsuccessfully sought to invalidate FBI search warrants used in the case, on grounds that the bureau didn't have probable cause to obtain them.
U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett disagreed, citing the Twitter messages. He wrote that although the cryptic messages "could have had any number of innocuous meanings in another setting," their timing and Martin's potential access to Equation Group hacking tools through his government work made him a logical suspect in the Shadow Brokers investigation.
The partially redacted ruling quoted only two of five messages the mysterious Twitter account sent the company, and the name of the recipients was redacted. Kaspersky's role as recipient and informant has not been previously disclosed.
A Kaspersky spokeswoman declined to confirm the company's involvement in the case or comment on the record.
According to the sources who spoke with POLITICO, Kaspersky gave the NSA all five Twitter messages as well as evidence of the sender's real identity. Then, according to the redacted court document, the FBI used the evidence to obtain search warrants for Martin's Twitter account and Maryland home and property. The document doesn't indicate how the FBI learned of the Twitter messages or Martin's identity.
The home search on Aug. 27, 2016, occurred with a massive raid involving nearly two dozen FBI agents and SWAT team members with guns drawn, underscoring the case's urgency and the government's concerns about whom else Martin might have contacted. The search uncovered a trove of classified data in hard copy and digital format that Martin had taken between 1996 and 2016 '-- material that the government has said included some of the same Equation Group tools the Shadow Brokers possessed.
The tools were some of the most prized surveillance implements the spy agency used to track suspected terrorists, conduct other national security investigations and collect intelligence.
Questions have lingered about whether Martin supplied the classified tools to Shadow Brokers, but he has not been charged with espionage, nor have prosecutors indicated Martin had any contact with the group. The group continued to publish online after Martin's arrest, discounting theories that he himself was the Shadow Brokers.
And although the cryptic Twitter messages could be read as suggesting he was exploring the possibility of passing sensitive data to either Kaspersky or to the Russian government '-- his attorneys have argued in court that no evidence exists that Martin intended to pass information to anyone. He's a patriot who recklessly amassed and stored the classified material only because he suffers from a compulsive disorder, his public defender, James Wyda, has said.
Matt Tait, a former information security specialist at Britain's GCHQ spy agency, thinks it's interesting that Martin zeroed in on Kaspersky for his correspondence.
''Why did he choose Kaspersky versus Sophos or Symantec?'' he said, referring to two other antivirus companies. ''He would have known better than others what that meant when the U.S. government says Kaspersky is hostile. Why did he choose that company versus another company, and what did he expect them to do?''
These are questions that may only be answered in court, if Martin doesn't strike a plea deal.
Martin's defense attorney, Wyda, declined to comment this week when POLITICO asked why his client contacted Kaspersky.
The revelation about how Martin was caught renews longstanding questions about the NSA's ability to prevent or detect theft of its secrets, even after increasing internal security measures following the 2013 leaks by agency contractor Edward Snowden. Those measures played no role in flagging Martin, according to the sources who spoke with POLITICO, though it's not clear they were in place at the time Martin took material from the agency.
Either way, the NSA was desperate in August 2016 to uncover the identity of Shadow Brokers and determine where they got the stolen tools, but it was only after Kaspersky turned Martin in that he became a suspect.
'FIGURE OUT HOW WE TALK, WITH YEVGENY PRESENT'
Like Snowden, Martin had a top secret national security clearance and worked for defense and intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and other contracting companies since the late 1990s. His work with Booz Allen included jobs at the NSA between 2012 and 2015, and in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a Defense Department office, where some of his thefts occurred.
Over the years, he worked on ''a number of highly classified, specialized projects, according to court records, and his work for the NSA put him directly in its Tailored Access Operations unit for a time '-- the unit that created and used the Equation Group tools. However, a former TAO worker has said Martin was simply a front office worker who wasn't involved in spy operations there.
Martin's downfall unfolded in the following manner, according to the people who spoke with POLITICO.
The first Twitter messages HAL999999999 sent to one of the Kaspersky researchers began as if they were already engaged in an ongoing conversation or had previously conversed. "So'....figure out how we talk. With Yevgeny present," the message said. Then "Shelf life, three weeks."
He sent the messages on Aug. 13, 2016, but they sat unread for three days. That's because the researcher didn't follow the HAL account, so the private messages went to a request folder. The researcher was on vacation and saw the messages three days later, after Shadow Brokers had made headlines and published batches of NSA tools.
The sender's Twitter handle was not familiar to the Kaspersky recipient, and the account had only 104 followers. But the profile picture showed a silhouette illustration of a man sitting in a chair, his back to the viewer, and a CD-ROM with the word TAO2 on it, using the acronym of the NSA's Tailored Access Operations. The larger background picture on the profile page showed various guns and military vehicles in silhouette.
The Kaspersky researcher asked the sender, in a reply message, if he had an email address and PGP encryption key they could use to communicate. But instead of responding, the sender blocked the researcher's account.
Two days later, the same account sent three private messages to a different Kaspersky researcher.
"Still considering it..," the first message said. When the researcher asked, "What are you considering?" the sender replied: "Understanding of what we are all fighting for '... and that goes beyond you and me. Same dilemma as last 10 min of latest Bourne." Four minutes later he sent the final message: "Actually, this is probably more accurate" and included a link to a YouTube video showing the finale of the film "Inception."
The Bourne comment appears to reference a Jason Bourne film about a former CIA assassin on the run from the agency, which was released in U.S. theaters two weeks before the Twitter user contacted Kaspersky. It and the Inception film deal with the difficulties of distinguishing truth and reality from deception and illusion.
The Kaspersky researcher didn't respond to the Twitter sender after this. Instead, he and colleagues conducted some online sleuthing and were able to easily unmask the sender's identity.
A Google search on the Twitter handle found someone using the same Hal999999999 username on a personal ad seeking female sex partners. The anonymous ad, on a site for people interested in bondage and sado-masochism, included a real picture of Martin and identified him as a 6-foot-4-inch 50-year-old male living in Annapolis, Md. A different search led them to a LinkedIn profile for Hal Martin, described as a researcher in Annapolis Junction and "technical advisor and investigator on offensive cyber issues." The LinkedIn profile didn't mention the NSA, but said Martin worked as a consultant or contractor ''for various cyber related initiatives'' across the Defense Department and intelligence community.
Armed with this information, on Aug. 22 a Kaspersky employee contacted an NSA worker he'd recently met at a conference and sent him the evidence, suggesting the agency might want to investigate Martin. The FBI obtained the warrant for Martin's Twitter account on the 25th, and he was arrested two days later following the search of his home.
The FBI declined to comment on this new information, as did the U.S. Attorney's office handling the case.
Tait told POLITICO that any legitimate security researchers in Kaspersky's position would notify the government if a potential leaker contacted them.
"These researchers seem to have taken the view that they know how to work out how the NSA does hacking through legitimate means; they don't need leakers inside the NSA to do their job, and it probably doesn't help them to be seen as actively antagonistic to the U.S,'' Tait said. ''It undermines their ability to claim they're a legitimate threat intelligence organization.''
But Kaspersky's efforts apparently earned the company little regard in the government.
UNDER GROWING SCRUTINY
Months after Martin was formally charged, the government's campaign against the company, which had been percolating in the background throughout 2016, also went public.
Although Kaspersky has worked with U.S. law enforcement and security firms for years to track hackers, the company's relationship with the government began to grow tense around 2012 as it exposed a series of covert NSA spy kits and hacking operations after finding the previously unknown spy software on customers' machines. The company has exposed more U.S. spy operations than any other cybersecurity firm in the last six years, and has in turn become a hacking target of spy agencies itself for its success in exposing not only NSA operations but those of Israel, the United Kingdom and France.
One of its most significant revelations occurred in February 2015 when the company announced discovery of a suite of sophisticated spy programs it dubbed the Equation Group tools '-- long before the Shadow Brokers began leaking tools from the same group in 2016.
Kaspersky discovered the tools on computers in the Middle East in 2014, and its antivirus software later detected them on a machine in the U.S. sometime in 2014. Kaspersky believed the machine had been infected with Equation Group surveillance software, but in fact it was the home computer of an NSA employee named Nghia Hoang Pho, who had improperly taken home classified documents and NSA code he was helping develop that were related to the Equation Group toolset.
Kaspersky's software uploaded the material from Pho's computer to the company's servers, as part of a standard procedure antivirus programs use to analyze previously undiscovered malicious code. Kaspersky has insisted that once it realized the collection wasn't malware, CEO Eugene Kaspersky ordered his researchers to destroy the files.
But the collection of files helped fuel U.S. allegations that Kaspersky itself poses a security threat. That's because, unknown to Kaspersky at the time, Israel had hacked the company's network in 2014, and in 2015 quietly told U.S. officials that it saw Russian intelligence operatives siphon the tools from Pho's machine with Kaspersky's cooperation or knowledge, using its antivirus software. The public only learned about this allegation in 2017 when anonymous sources leaked it to reporters. But no evidence backing this claim has ever been made public, and nobody has explained how the Israelis knew the extraction was not just part of standard infection analysis and cleanup.
Sometime in 2015, the FBI began investigating Kaspersky's relationship with the Russian government, and by 2016, the bureau was urging U.S. companies privately to cut business ties with the firm. Then in February 2017, the month Martin was indicted, DHS sent a secret report to government agencies saying Kaspersky's software posed a national security risk. News of the report was leaked to the media along with a revelation that the FBI was investigating the company.
Seven months later, DHS issued a directive banning Kaspersky software from civilian government computers because ''the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security.'' The ban led consumer giant Best Buy to announce it would no longer install Kaspersky antivirus software on computers it sells.
Kaspersky has long denied it has cooperated with Russian intelligence in any capacity to obtain U.S. secrets. And the U.S. government has never publicly indicated that it has any evidence to support suspicions that it has helped the Russian government use its software to spy on Kaspersky customers.
In any case, the timing of these events is notable: It's not clear whether Kaspersky knew about the FBI investigation or the Israeli allegations when the company turned Martin in to the NSA in 2016. Such knowledge could have made the company wonder if Martin's communication was a test.
Baker told POLITICO that Kaspersky's role in Martin's arrest wasn't out of character for the company, which he doubts has ever actively aided Russian intelligence and has always wanted to be an accepted part of the cybersecurity fraternity.
''[The company] recognized that it had a problem, given its origin and location [in Russia], and so where it could be helpful to the U.S. government and show that it was not a hostile force it wouldn't have surprised me that it would do something that was meant to be '... a goodwill gesture toward the U.S. government,'' he said.
Although he doesn't think the government's subsequent treatment of the company was wrong, ''it is pretty ironic,'' he said. ''And I'm sure the people at Kaspersky are feeling as though they did the right thing and it did them no good."
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Devise | Definition of Devise by Merriam-Webster
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 15:53
de·'‹vise | \ di-ËvÄz \ Definition of devise (Entry 1 of 2)
transitive verb
1 a : to form in the mind by new combinations or applications of ideas or principles : invent devise a new strategy
b archaic : conceive , imagine
c : to plan to obtain or bring about : plot devise one's death
Definition of devise (Entry 2 of 2)
law
2 : a will or clause of a will disposing of real property
3 : property devised by will
Other Words from deviseVerb
devisable \ -'‹ËvÄ-'‹zÉ-'‹bÉl \ adjective deviser noun
Synonyms for deviseSynonyms: Verb
concoct , construct , contrive , cook (up) , drum up , excogitate , fabricate , invent , make up , manufacture , think (up) , trump up , vamp (up)
Visit the Thesaurus for More Did You Know?Verb
There's something inventive about devise, a word that stems from Latin dividere, meaning "to divide." By the time devise appeared in English in the 1200s, its Anglo-French forebear deviser had accumulated an array of senses, including "to divide," "distribute," "arrange," "array," "digest," "order," "plan," "invent," "contrive," and "assign by will." English adopted most of these and added some new senses over the course of time: "to imagine," "guess," "pretend," and "describe." In modern use, we've disposed of a lot of the old meanings, but we kept the one that applies to wills. Devise traditionally referred to the transfer of real property (land), and bequeath to personal property; these days, however, devise is often recognized as applying generally to all the property in a person's estate.
Examples of devise in a Sentence Verb
They have devised a new method for converting sunlight into electricity. she quickly devised a new scheme when the first one failed Recent Examples on the Web: Verb
The 55-year-old executive's remit spans everything from brokerage and individual-retirement accounts to the team that devises new investment products. '-- WSJ, "The Money Managers to Watch in 2019," 1 Jan. 2019 Virginia Irurita, who devises great itineraries throughout the Iberian peninsula. VIRGINIA@MADEFORSPAINANDPORTUGAL.COM. '-- Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "The Best Places to Travel in 2019," 7 Dec. 2018 Hyneman enlisted Jim Newton, a former science advisor on MythBusters who went on to found the TechShop maker spaces, to devise, program, and build the network of sensors and microcontrollers that would give the tank a digital doppelg¤nger. '-- Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "The Tank That's Tougher Than Wildfire," 13 Nov. 2018 Smith then went on the devise the story with Reeves and co-producers Stephen Hamel and Gabriela Bacher. '-- Jillian Forstadt, The Hollywood Reporter, "Keanu Reeves Reveals What Drew Him to Genre-Bending 'Siberia'," 12 July 2018 The electoral system the Founders devised, and which their successors elaborated, gives rural voters more clout than urban ones. '-- The Economist, "American democracy's built-in bias towards rural Republicans," 12 July 2018 The show traces the street's history back to Augustus Woodward, the first judge of the Michigan territory, who arrived in 1805 and devised an interlocking hexagon plan of pathways for downtown Detroit. '-- Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit's Woodward Ave. chosen as one of 10 streets that changed America," 6 July 2018 In the spring of 2014, the city, as part of a cost-cutting plan devised under emergency management, switched its water source from Lake Huron to the notorious Flint River, once so polluted it was said to have caught fire. '-- Parul Sehgal, New York Times, "Toxic History, Poisoned Water: The Story of Flint," 3 July 2018 That's what a group of Colombian students have done, devising a wool alternative made from hemp and coconut fibers treated with mushroom enzymes. '-- Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "What Will It Take To Make Vegan Wool?," 29 June 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun
Unlike with alcohol, there is nothing like a Breathalyzer devise for cannabis that police can use. '-- Sam Wood, Philly.com, "Medical marijuana patients, legally banned from driving, may get a pass in Pa.," 18 June 2018 A week later, undetonated explosive devises were found on another ferry. '-- Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY, "U.S. Embassy in Mexico City downgrades threat on traveling to Playa del Carmen," 12 Mar. 2018 My coping devise for this conundrum, at least on the breakfast front, is to concentrate my efforts on the weekend. '-- Yotam Ottolenghi, New York Times, "Weekend Breakfasts to Warm the Heart, and Belly," 18 Dec. 2017 To listen to a St. Vincent album is to let go of the guitar as rhythmic driver or pyrotechnic devise. '-- Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Day for Night headliner St. Vincent exhibits a charming duality," 13 Dec. 2017 After the attack, Henderson grabbed the cash and fled, leaving the devise behind, records show. '-- Barbara Hijek, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Cowabunga! Man robbed gas station with cattle prod, cops say," 16 Oct. 2017 The plasma can interact with electrical currents in the upper atmosphere, creating large currents that could fry power grids and electrical devises on the planet's surface and erase magnetic tape and other media. '-- Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Could a Magnetic Shield Protect Earth From Space Weather?," 3 Oct. 2017 Now, the busy pro relies on portable solutions like Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment, a pen-like devise that targets acne with light therapy, and simply owning herself, flaws and all. '-- Jennifer Tzeses, Cosmopolitan, "This Beauty Blogger's Advice Will Make You Feel So Much Better About Your Breakouts," 31 Aug. 2017 That included biking and doing aqua-jogging, which meant going back and forth in the pool with a flotation devise to maintain his cardiovascular while working his leg muscles with the water absorbing the pounding. '-- Steve Brand, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Cathedral Catholic's top runner to start season healthy," 28 Aug. 2017 These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'devise.' 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 deviseVerb
13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a
Noun
15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1
History and Etymology for deviseVerb and Noun
Middle English, from Anglo-French deviser, diviser, to divide, distinguish, invent, from Vulgar Latin *divisare, frequentative of Latin dividere to divide
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More Definitions for devise
de·'‹vise | \ di-ËvÄz \ Kids Definition of devise : to think up : plan , invent We devised a plan to win.
de·'‹vise | \ di-ËvÄz \ Legal Definition of devise (Entry 1 of 2)
: to give (property) by will specifically : to give (real property) by will '-- compare alienate , bequeath , convey
Other Words from devise
devisable adjective
devisor \ ˌde-'‹vÉ-'‹Ëzȯr; di-'‹ËvÄ-'‹ËŒzȯr, -'‹zÉr \ noun Legal Definition of devise (Entry 2 of 2)
1 : a gift of property made in a will specifically : a gift of real property made in a will '-- see also abate , ademption '-- compare distribution Note: Formerly devise was used to refer only to gifts of real property, and legacy and bequest were used only to refer to gifts of personal property. These distinctions are no longer closely followed. The Uniform Probate Code uses devise to refer to any gifts made in a will.
'-- executory devise : a devise of an interest in land that will vest in the future upon the occurrence of a contingency and that can follow a fee simple estate Note: Executory devises were invented as a way of getting around the rule in Shelley's case, which is now largely abolished.
'-- general devise : a devise that is to be distributed from the general assets of an estate and that is not of a particular thing
'-- residuary devise : a devise of whatever is left in an estate after all other debts and devises have been paid or distributed
'-- specific devise : a devise of a particular item or part of an estate that is payable only from a specified source in the estate and not from the general assets
2 : a clause in a will disposing of property and especially real property
3 : property disposed of by a will
History and Etymology for devise
Transitive verb
Anglo-French deviser to divide, share, bequeath, ultimately from Latin dividere to divide
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T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T Are Selling Customers' Real-Time Location Data, And It's Falling Into the Wrong Hands
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 15:48
Image: Shutterstock. Remix: Jason Koebler
Nervously, I gave a bounty hunter a phone number. He had offered to geolocate a phone for me, using a shady, overlooked service intended not for the cops, but for private individuals and businesses. Armed with just the number and a few hundred dollars, he said he could find the current location of most phones in the United States.
The bounty hunter sent the number to his own contact, who would track the phone. The contact responded with a screenshot of Google Maps, containing a blue circle indicating the phone's current location, approximate to a few hundred metres.
Queens, New York. More specifically, the screenshot showed a location in a particular neighborhood'--just a couple of blocks from where the target was. The hunter had found the phone (the target gave their consent to Motherboard to be tracked via their T-Mobile phone.)
The bounty hunter did this all without deploying a hacking tool or having any previous knowledge of the phone's whereabouts. Instead, the tracking tool relies on real-time location data sold to bounty hunters that ultimately originated from the telcos themselves, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, a Motherboard investigation has found. These surveillance capabilities are sometimes sold through word-of-mouth networks.
Whereas it's common knowledge that law enforcement agencies can track phones with a warrant to service providers, IMSI catchers, or until recently via other companies that sell location data such as one called Securus, at least one company, called Microbilt, is selling phone geolocation services with little oversight to a spread of different private industries, ranging from car salesmen and property managers to bail bondsmen and bounty hunters, according to sources familiar with the company's products and company documents obtained by Motherboard. Compounding that already highly questionable business practice, this spying capability is also being resold to others on the black market who are not licensed by the company to use it, including me, seemingly without Microbilt's knowledge.
Motherboard's investigation shows just how exposed mobile networks and the data they generate are, leaving them open to surveillance by ordinary citizens, stalkers, and criminals, and comes as media and policy makers are paying more attention than ever to how location and other sensitive data is collected and sold. The investigation also shows that a wide variety of companies can access cell phone location data, and that the information trickles down from cell phone providers to a wide array of smaller players, who don't necessarily have the correct safeguards in place to protect that data.
''People are reselling to the wrong people,'' the bail industry source who flagged the company to Motherboard said. Motherboard granted the source and others in this story anonymity to talk more candidly about a controversial surveillance capability.
Got a tip? You can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.
Your mobile phone is constantly communicating with nearby cell phone towers, so your telecom provider knows where to route calls and texts. From this, telecom companies also work out the phone's approximate location based on its proximity to those towers.
Although many users may be unaware of the practice, telecom companies in the United States sell access to their customers' location data to other companies, called location aggregators, who then sell it to specific clients and industries. Last year, one location aggregator called LocationSmart faced harsh criticism for selling data that ultimately ended up in the hands of Securus, a company which provided phone tracking to low level enforcement without requiring a warrant. LocationSmart also exposed the very data it was selling through a buggy website panel, meaning anyone could geolocate nearly any phone in the United States at a click of a mouse.
There's a complex supply chain that shares some of American cell phone users' most sensitive data, with the telcos potentially being unaware of how the data is being used by the eventual end user, or even whose hands it lands in. Financial companies use phone location data to detect fraud; roadside assistance firms use it to locate stuck customers. But AT&T, for example, told Motherboard the use of its customers' data by bounty hunters goes explicitly against the company's policies, raising questions about how AT&T allowed the sale for this purpose in the first place.
''The allegation here would violate our contract and Privacy Policy,'' an AT&T spokesperson told Motherboard in an email.
In the case of the phone we tracked, six different entities had potential access to the phone's data. T-Mobile shares location data with an aggregator called Zumigo, which shares information with Microbilt. Microbilt shared that data with a customer using its mobile phone tracking product. The bounty hunter then shared this information with a bail industry source, who shared it with Motherboard.
The CTIA, a telecom industry trade group of which AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are members, has official guidelines for the use of so-called ''location-based services'' that ''rely on two fundamental principles: user notice and consent,'' the group wrote in those guidelines. Telecom companies and data aggregators that Motherboard spoke to said that they require their clients to get consent from the people they want to track, but it's clear that this is not always happening.
A flowchart showing how the phone location data trickled down from T-Mobile to Motherboard. Image: Motherboard.
A second source who has tracked the geolocation industry told Motherboard, while talking about the industry generally, ''If there is money to be made they will keep selling the data.''
''Those third-level companies sell their services. That is where you see the issues with going to shady folks [and] for shady reasons,'' the source added.
Frederike Kaltheuner, data exploitation programme lead at campaign group Privacy International, told Motherboard in a phone call that ''it's part of a bigger problem; the US has a completely unregulated data ecosystem.''
Microbilt buys access to location data from an aggregator called Zumigo and then sells it to a dizzying number of sectors, including landlords to scope out potential renters; motor vehicle salesmen, and others who are conducting credit checks. Armed with just a phone number, Microbilt's ''Mobile Device Verify'' product can return a target's full name and address, geolocate a phone in an individual instance, or operate as a continuous tracking service.
''You can set up monitoring with control over the weeks, days and even hours that location on a device is checked as well as the start and end dates of monitoring,'' a company brochure Motherboard found online reads.
Posing as a potential customer, Motherboard explicitly asked a Microbilt customer support staffer whether the company offered phone geolocation for bail bondsmen. Shortly after, another staffer emailed with a price list'--locating a phone can cost as little as $4.95 each if searching for a low number of devices. That price gets even cheaper as the customer buys the capability to track more phones. Getting real-time updates on a phone's location can cost around $12.95.
''Dirt cheap when you think about the data you can get,'' the source familiar with the industry added.
A section of the price list Motherboard obtained. Image: Motherboard.
It's bad enough that access to highly sensitive phone geolocation data is already being sold to a wide range of industries and businesses. But there is also an underground market that Motherboard used to geolocate a phone'--one where Microbilt customers resell their access at a profit, and with minimal oversight.
''Blade Runner, the iconic sci-fi movie, is set in 2019. And here we are: there's an unregulated black market where bounty-hunters can buy information about where we are, in real time, over time, and come after us. You don't need to be a replicant to be scared of the consequences,'' Thomas Rid, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University, told Motherboard in an online chat.
The bail industry source said his middleman used Microbilt to find the phone. This middleman charged $300, a sizeable markup on the usual Microbilt price. The Google Maps screenshot provided to Motherboard of the target phone's location also included its approximate longitude and latitude coordinates, and a range of how accurate the phone geolocation is: 0.3 miles, or just under 500 metres. It may not necessarily be enough to geolocate someone to a specific building in a populated area, but it can certainly pinpoint a particular borough, city, or neighborhood.
In other cases of phone geolocation it is typically done with the consent of the target, perhaps by sending a text message the user has to deliberately reply to, signalling they accept their location being tracked. This may be done in the earlier roadside assistance example or when a company monitors its fleet of trucks. But when Motherboard tested the geolocation service, the target phone received no warning it was being tracked.
The bail source who originally alerted Microbilt to Motherboard said that bounty hunters have used phone geolocation services for non-work purposes, such as tracking their girlfriends. Motherboard was unable to identify a specific instance of this happening, but domestic stalkers have repeatedly used technology, such as mobile phone malware, to track spouses.
As Motherboard was reporting this story, Microbilt removed documents related to its mobile phone location product from its website.
A Microbilt spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement that the company requires anyone using its mobile device verification services for fraud prevention must first obtain consent of the consumer. Microbilt also confirmed it found an instance of abuse on its platform'--our phone ping.
''The request came through a licensed state agency that writes in approximately $100 million in bonds per year and passed all up front credentialing under the pretense that location was being verified to mitigate financial exposure related to a bond loan being considered for the submitted consumer,'' Microbilt said in an emailed statement. In this case, ''licensed state agency'' is referring to a private bail bond company, Motherboard confirmed.
''As a result, MicroBilt was unaware that its terms of use were being violated by the rogue individual that submitted the request under false pretenses, does not approve of such use cases, and has a clear policy that such violations will result in loss of access to all MicroBilt services and termination of the requesting party's end-user agreement,'' Microbilt added. ''Upon investigating the alleged abuse and learning of the violation of our contract, we terminated the customer's access to our products and they will not be eligible for reinstatement based on this violation.''
Zumigo confirmed it was the company that provided the phone location to Microbilt and defended its practices. In a statement, Zumigo did not seem to take issue with the practice of providing data that ultimately ended up with licensed bounty hunters, but wrote, ''illegal access to data is an unfortunate occurrence across virtually every industry that deals in consumer or employee data, and it is impossible to detect a fraudster, or rogue customer, who requests location data of his or her own mobile devices when the required consent is provided. However, Zumigo takes steps to protect privacy by providing a measure of distance (approx. 0.5-1.0 mile) from an actual address.'' Zumigo told Motherboard it has cut Microbilt's data access.
"People are reselling to the wrong people."
In Motherboard's case, the successfully geolocated phone was on T-Mobile.
''We take the privacy and security of our customers' information very seriously and will not tolerate any misuse of our customers' data,'' A T-Mobile spokesperson told Motherboard in an emailed statement. ''While T-Mobile does not have a direct relationship with Microbilt, our vendor Zumigo was working with them and has confirmed with us that they have already shut down all transmission of T-Mobile data. T-Mobile has also blocked access to device location data for any request submitted by Zumigo on behalf of Microbilt as an additional precaution.''
Microbilt's product documentation suggests the phone location service works on all mobile networks, however the middleman was unable or unwilling to conduct a search for a Verizon device. Verizon did not respond to a request for comment.
AT&T told Motherboard it has cut access to Microbilt as the company investigates.
''We only permit the sharing of location when a customer gives permission for cases like fraud prevention or emergency roadside assistance, or when required by law,'' the AT&T spokesperson said.
Sprint told Motherboard in a statement that ''protecting our customers' privacy and security is a top priority, and we are transparent about that in our Privacy Policy [...] Sprint does not have a direct relationship with MicroBilt. If we determine that any of our customers do and have violated the terms of our contract, we will take appropriate action based on those findings.'' Sprint would not clarify the contours of its relationship with Microbilt.
These statements sound very familiar. When The New York Times and Senator Ron Wyden published details of Securus last year, the firm that was offering geolocation to low level law enforcement without a warrant, the telcos said they were taking extra measures to make sure their customers' data would not be abused again. Verizon announced it was going to limit data access to companies not using it for legitimate purposes. T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T followed suit shortly after with similar promises.
After Wyden's pressure, T-Mobile's CEO John Legere tweeted in June last year ''I've personally evaluated this issue & have pledged that @tmobile will not sell customer location data to shady middlemen.''
"It appears these promises were little more than worthless spam in their customers' inboxes."
Months after the telcos said they were going to combat this problem, in the face of an arguably even worse case of abuse and data trading, they are saying much the same thing. Last year, Motherboard reported on a company that previously offered phone geolocation to bounty hunters; here Microbilt is operating even after a wave of outrage from policy makers. In its statement to Motherboard on Monday, T-Mobile said it has nearly finished the process of terminating its agreements with location aggregators.
''It would be bad if this was the first time we learned about it. It's not. Every major wireless carrier pledged to end this kind of data sharing after I exposed this practice last year. Now it appears these promises were little more than worthless spam in their customers' inboxes,'' Wyden told Motherboard in a statement. Wyden is proposing legislation to safeguard personal data.
Due to the ongoing government shutdown, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was unable to provide a statement.
''Wireless carriers' continued sale of location data is a nightmare for national security and the personal safety of anyone with a phone,'' Wyden added. ''When stalkers, spies, and predators know when a woman is alone, or when a home is empty, or where a White House official stops after work, the possibilities for abuse are endless.''
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At NBRs, Hollywood's award season clashes with Trump address
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 13:56
The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.
NEW YORK (AP) '-- While Sunday's Golden Globes were notable for their lack of political speeches, Donald Trump couldn't be avoided at Tuesday night's National Board of Review Awards which, it turned out, were scheduled concurrently with the president's nationally televised address advocating for a border wall with Mexico.
The awkward timing made for a ceremony that seldom strayed far from politics. Most of the previously announced winners at the star-studded, untelevised gala at Cipriani's in Manhattan '-- including Lady Gaga of ''A Star Is Born'' and director Peter Farrelly of ''Green Book'' '-- made some mention or allusion to Trump and his policies.
Barry Jenkins, accepting the award for best adapted screenplay for James Baldwin's ''If Beale Street Could Talk,'' happened to take the stage as Trump was addressing the nation from the Oval Office.
''Literally right now the president is talking about walls and borders. I don't know how this happened. So I can't help but talk about the president and borders and all these walls,'' said the ''Moonlight'' director. ''There's a film being celebrated called 'Minding the Gap,' by Bing Liu. Bing Liu and his family emigrated here. The president does not want them here.''
Jenkins also cited two of the year's most acclaimed movies '-- Chloe Zhao's ''The Rider'' and Alfonso Cuaron's ''Roma'' '-- as other brilliant films made by immigrant filmmakers that Trump would dismiss. He concluded by quoting Baldwin '-- ''One can only face in others what one can face in oneself'' '-- and declaring ''No walls. No borders,'' along with an expletive directed at Trump.
TRENDING: Second Dead Body Turns Up at Home of Clinton-Obama Megadonor
The annual dinner was hosted by Willie Geist and put on by the National Board of Review, a 109-year-old organization of film enthusiasts, academics and professionals. It's one of the many traditional stops in Hollywood's awards season. While it has little bearing on the Oscars race, the NBRs can be a frothy pit-stop between other honors and a welcome chance to polish acceptance speeches that might have gone unused at the Globes.
Both Lady Gaga (best actress) and Bradley Cooper (best director) were presented with awards two days after their film went home with a disappointing solitary Globe. Cooper was introduced by Steven Spielberg, who lauded Cooper's directorial debut as a birth of a filmmaking talent. ''Bradley's a survivor and Bradley's a sponge,'' Spielberg said.
Introducing Gaga was Stephen Colbert, who happily noted that ''being here meant I had to miss the president's stupid speech.'' In lengthy and poised remarks that lasted 13 minutes, Gaga said she was very different from her character.
''I knew that although she was a strong woman, she would feel the pressures to succumb to what other's saw her future as, whereas in my career I have over and over tried to subvert the influence of powerful men in my life had on me and create something unexpected all on my own,'' said Gaga. ''If they told me to go left, I would take a sharp, sharp right.''
Her co-star Sam Elliott was also celebrated Tuesday as best supporting actor. The 74-year-old actor's speech, spoken in Elliott's trademark, modest drawl, earned the night's most raucous standing ovation.
For Farrelly's 1960s interracial road trip ''Green Book,'' which won best film (comedy or musical) at the Globes, it was another night of celebration. The NBRs bestowed best picture and best actor (Viggo Mortensen) on the divisive film despite complaints over its racial sensitivity and its authenticity. ''Green Book'' got another boost earlier Tuesday, too, when Farrelly was selected among the five directors nominated by the Director's Guild for its annual '-- and often quite predictive '-- honors.
Farrelly said he hoped his film, made as a feel-good throwback, could bring people together '-- as he hoped a future president could, too.
''All it takes to find common ground is to talk and to listen and to learn,'' said Farrelly. ''You know who I'm voting for next? The politician who represents all of us.''
Some awards were handed out before Trump's speech. Breakthrough performance honoree Thomasin McKenzie, the young New Zealand actress of ''Leave No Trace,'' said a better world can't be made ''if we build a wall to keep people out.'' Geist called her comments a ''pre-buttal.''
Honored as the best documentary of the year, the makers of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg portrait ''RBG'' '-- Betsy West and Julie Cohen '-- said that the justice's family had told them that Ginsburg, who has lately missed oral arguments, is recovering well from surgery and plans to participate in upcoming decisions '-- an announcement that drew some of the loudest cheers of the evening. As tribute to Ginsburg's exercise regimen, both West and Cohen ended their speech by planking on the stage.
Another constant theme of the evening was the usual mystery of just who exactly the National Board of Review is. The Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski, whose ''Cold War'' was honored as best foreign language film, chuckled at the confusion. ''I like you whoever you are,'' he said. ''I hope I meet you one day.''
___
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
Golden Globes Shed 410,000 Viewers From 2018, but Rise 4 Percent in Key Demo Ratings
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 13:54
The 2019 Golden Globes may not have been able to match the total audience size of years past, but Sunday night's telecast actually improved upon last year in the 18-49 demo.
The NBC broadcast finished the night with 18.6 million total viewers, which was down about 2 percent from last year's total of 19.0 million. Ultimately, the show came in as the least-watched Golden Globes telecast since 2016.
But the good news for NBC is that among adults 18 to 49, the show actually bucked the trend to build upon last year's audience by four percent. With a 5.2 rating according to Nielsen's fast official data, the 2019 Golden Globes beat the 5.0 rating of the Seth Meyers-hosted ceremony a year ago.
Also Read: Golden Globes: The Complete List of Winners
Read the special's earlier-available overnight ratings here, and find out how the rest of broadcast TV fared here.
Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh emceed Hollywood's Biggest Party on Sunday night, opting for playful goofs and emotional resonance over Ricky Gervais-style roasts of years past. The duo's opening monologue included an emotional speech from the ''Killing Eve'' star about the strides Hollywood has taken in recognizing the importance of representation and diversity in the past year.
The night's big winners included Peter Farrelly's ''Green Book,'' the Netflix comedy series ''The Kominsky Method,'' Rami Malek and ''Bohemian Rhapsody,'' and Alfonso Cuar"n's ''Roma.''
The NBC broadcast was boosted a down-to-the-wire NFL Playoffs lead-in, with the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles earning a road win off a double-doink field-goal attempt by Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey.
It marks the highest-rated entertainment telecast since ABC's blockbuster debut of its ''Roseanne'' revival last spring and is just about the only major awards show in the last year not to see a year-over-year decline.
Golden Globes 2019: 10 Snubs and Surprises (Photos) The 2019 Golden Globe Awards were held on Sunday night, with a list of winners ranging from the woefully expected to the pleasantly surprising. Click through for TheWrap's list of biggest surprises and see the full rundown of winners here.
Getty Images
Surprise: The lead actress in a drama series categories was crowded with heavyweights including nine-time Golden Globe winner Julia Roberts and last year's winner Elisabeth Moss, but ultimately the HFPA went for "Killing Eve" star Sandra Oh, making her the first Asian performer with two Golden Globes.
BBC America
Snub: "Crazy Rich Asians" broke ground with its two nominations for best picture and lead Constance Wu, but ultimately the first studio film with an Asian-American cast in 25 years was edged out by "Green Book" and "The Favourite" star Olivia Colman.
Warner Bros.
Snub: Olivia Colman took home her first Golden Globe this year for her work in Yorgos Lanthimos's period dramedy "The Favourite," but her "bitches" Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, both nominated in the supporting category, were bested by "If Beale Street Could Talk" scene-stealer Regina King.
Fox Searchlight
Snub: NBC's "The Good Place" remains one of the most critically acclaimed comedies on the air right now, but awards recognition remains elusive for the afterlife comedy, with both Kristen Bell and the series as a whole missing out on a trophy on Sunday.
NBC
Surprise: Glenn Close took home her third Golden Globe for her role in "The Wife," upsetting a category which included Nicole Kidman, Rosamund Pike, Melissa McCarthy and the "A Star Is Born" frontrunner Lady Gaga.
Sony Pictures Classics
Snub: "A Star is Born's" Lady Gaga seemed like a shoe-in to go home with a Globe in each hand: one for acting and one for songwriting. But in a shocking upset she lost the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture '' Drama category to Glenn Close, who grabbed the winner's trophy for her role in ''The Wife. And the film itself lost the biggest award of the night -- best drama -- to ''Bohemian Rhapsody.''
Warner Bros.
Snub: The Julia Roberts-led drama "Homecoming" missed out on every award it was nominated for, including the TV Drama category, a leading lady statue for Roberts (which went to Sandra Oh for ''Killing Eve'') and one for her co-star Stephan James.
Amazon
Surprise: Netflix's "The Kominsky Method,'' starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, managed to sneak up on us and swipe the best comedy series award from the favored second season of Amazon's Globes darling ''The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.''
Netflix
Snub: Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" was first snubbed in noms, with only stars Yvonne Strahovski and Elisabeth Moss getting nods. Then the hits kept coming tonight, as neither of them managed to win their category, leaving ''The Handmaid's Tale,'' the show that won best drama series just last year, totally shut out.
Hulu
Surprise: It looks like the HFPA was feeling nostalgic when they voted on Best Television Series '-- Drama this year, as they doled out the award to final season of FX's ''The Americans,'' which was a real shock, as the prize was assumed to be going to either BBC America's new series ''Killing Eve'' or Amazon's Prime Video's ''Homecoming.''
FX
From Sandra Oh to Glenn Close
The 2019 Golden Globe Awards were held on Sunday night, with a list of winners ranging from the woefully expected to the pleasantly surprising. Click through for TheWrap's list of biggest surprises and see the full rundown of winners here.
$3.5 Trillion A Year: America's Health Care System Has Become One Of The World's Largest Money Making Scams
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 13:48
If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would have the fifth largest GDP on the entire planet.
At this point only the United States, China, Japan and Germany have a GDP that is larger than the 3.5 trillion dollar U.S. health care market. If that sounds obscene to you, that is because it is obscene. We should want people to be attracted to the health care industry because they truly want to help people that are suffering, but instead the primary reason why people are drawn to the health care industry these days is because of the giant mountains of money that are being made. Like so many other things in our society, the health care industry is all about the pursuit of the almighty dollar, and that is just wrong.
In order to keep this giant money machine rolling, the health care industry has to do an enormous amount of marketing. If you can believe it, a study that was just published found that at least 30 billion dollars a year is spent on such marketing.
Hoping to earn its share of the $3.5 trillion health care market, the medical industry is pouring more money than ever into advertising its products '-- from high-priced prescriptions to do-it-yourself genetic tests and unapproved stem cell treatments.
Spending on health care marketing nearly doubled from 1997 to 2016, soaring to at least $30 billion a year, according to a study published Tuesday in JAMA.
This marketing takes many different forms, but perhaps the most obnoxious are the television ads that are endlessly hawking various pharmaceutical drugs. If you watch much television, you certainly can't miss them. They always show vibrant, smiling, healthy people participating in various outdoor activities on bright, sunny days, and the inference is that if you want to be like those people you should take their drugs. And the phrase ''ask your doctor'' is usually near the end of every ad'...
The biggest increase in medical marketing over the past 20 years was in ''direct-to-consumer'' advertising, including the TV commercials that exhort viewers to ''ask your doctor'' about a particular drug. Spending on such ads jumped from $2.1 billion in 1997 to nearly $10 billion in 2016, according to the study.
As a result of all those ads, millions of Americans rush out to their doctors to ask about drugs that they do not need for diseases that they do not have.
And on January 1st, dozens of pharmaceutical manufacturers hit Americans with another annual round of massive price increases.
But everyone will just keep taking those drugs, because that is what the doctors are telling them to do. But what most people never find out is that the pharmaceutical industry goes to great lengths to get those doctors to do what they want. According to NBC News, the big drug companies are constantly ''showering them with free food, drinks and speaking fees, as well as paying for them to travel to conferences''.
It is a legal form of bribery, and it works.
When you go to most doctors, they will only have two solutions to whatever problem you have '' drugs or surgery.
And since nobody really likes to get cut open, and since drugs are usually the far less expensive choice, they are usually the preferred option.
Of course if doctors get off the path and start trying to get cute by proposing alternative solutions, they can get in big trouble really fast'...
Today's medical doctors are not allowed to give nutritional advice, or the American Medical Association will come shut them down, and even if they were, they don't know the right things to say, because they weren't educated that way in medical college. So instead, M.D.s just sling experimental, addictive drugs at symptoms of deeper rooted sicknesses, along with immune-system-destroying antibiotics and carcinogenic vaccines.
That's why any medicine that wrecks your health is easy to come by, just like junk food in vending machines. The money isn't made off the ''vending'' products, the money is made off the sick fools who are repeat offenders and keep going back to the well for more poison '' it's called chronic sick care or symptom management. Fact: Prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in America, even when ''taken as directed.''
Switching gears, let's talk about hospitals for a moment.
When you go to the hospital, it is often during a great time of need. If you are gravely ill or if an accident has happened and you think you might die, you aren't thinking about how much your medical care is going to cost. At that moment you just want help, and that is a perfect opportunity for predators to take advantage of you.
Just consider the example of 24-year-old Nina Dang. She broke her arm while riding her bicycle in San Francisco, and so she went to the emergency room.
The hospital that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated so much money to definitely fixed her arm, but later they broke her bank account when they hit her with a $24,000 bill'...
A bystander saw her fall and called an ambulance. She was semi-lucid for that ride, awake but unable to answer basic questions about where she lived. Paramedics took her to the emergency room at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where doctors X-rayed her arm and took a CT scan of her brain and spine. She left with her arm in a splint, on pain medication, and with a recommendation to follow up with an orthopedist.
A few months later, Dang got a bill for $24,074.50. Premera Blue Cross, her health insurer, would only cover $3,830.79 of that '-- an amount that it thought was fair for the services provided. That left Dang with $20,243.71 to pay, which the hospital threatened to send to collections in mid-December.
Most Americans assume that if they have ''good health insurance'' that they are covered if something major happens.
But as Dang found out, you can still be hit with crippling hospital bills even if you have insurance.
Today, medical debt is the number one reason why Americans declare bankruptcy. Because of the way our system is set up, most families are just one major illness away from financial ruin.
And this kind of thing is not just happening in California. The median charge for a visit to the emergency room nationally is well over a thousand dollars, and you can be billed up to 30 dollars for a single pill of aspirin during a hospital stay.
Our health care system is deeply broken, and it has been designed to squeeze as much money out of all of us as it possibly can.
Unfortunately, we are stuck with this system for now. The health care industry is certainly not going to reform itself, and the gridlock in Washington is going to make a political solution impossible for the foreseeable future.
Russia, EU and Ukraine to hold gas talks on January 21 in Brussels
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 13:41
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European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic (C) EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ
BRUSSELS, January 9. /TASS/. Trilateral gas talks between Russia, the European Union and Ukraine will take place on January 21 in Brussels, Vice President of the European Commission (EC) Maros Sefcovic said on Wednesday.
''Pleased that the 2nd round of political trilateral talks with Russia and Ukraine on the long-term transit of gas to Europe will take place in Brussels on January 21,'' the official said
The forthcoming meeting will be based on results of previous talks held by the parties at different levels, Sefcovic noted. ''The meeting will build on the progress achieved during previous political and expert rounds,'' he said.
The prospects of gas transit through Ukraine after the contract with Russia will be a top-priority issue at the Russia-Ukraine-EU ministerial gas talks, Russian Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told TASS earlier.
According to the Russian envoy, the significance of these negotiations is somewhat weakened by the fact that the presidential election is due to be held in Ukraine in early spring, while pan-European elections will be held in May 2019, which will result in the change of the European Commission's composition and a shift in the leadership of all other European institutions.
In early December, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stressed that the date of the expert meeting on gas between Russia, Ukraine and the EU would be agreed on in the near future, after which the date of the trilateral gas negotiations would be set. The previous trilateral talks were held in July.
Plans had been in store that the next meeting would be held in October 2018, but it has been put off more than once since then. In mid-December, the European Commission suggested holding that meeting during the second half of January.
Contracts for the supply and transit of Russian gas through Ukraine will expire in late 2019. The issue of continuing the transit after 2019 has been discussed, particularly in light of the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will bypass transit countries.
In other media
The Importance of Natural Gas to Turkey's Energy and Economic Future [GGP]
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 10:29
Turkey has historically been one of the most important transit corridors between the East and the West and provides the only marine passage from the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea. Its control of the Bosphorus has dictated much of the geopolitical history of the region. Turkey's geography makes it an important transit route from parts of the hydrocarbon-rich Middle East and the Caspian Sea to Europe.
With the introduction of Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) from Azerbaijan, increased natural gas supplies will be available to Turkey and, via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), to South Eastern, Eastern, Central, and Western Europe. TurkStream will also provide additional Russian gas to Turkey and, through the proposed Tesla pipeline, bring Russian gas to South Eastern and central Europe. These additional major pipelines, as well as other recent investments in natural gas distribution and LNG infrastructure could enhance Turkey's position as an energy bridge from hydrocarbon-rich states to Europe. The pipelines will also help relieve congestion that Turkey's gas distribution system has experienced in recent years.
In this context, Turkey has expressed an interest in becoming a natural gas ''hub,'' raising several questions: What steps and investments are needed to become a natural gas hub? Will Turkey's status as a transit country enable it to become a natural gas hub? Can this help improve energy security for Turkey and for European consumers?
To help answer these questions, it is first worth looking at the key features of a gas hub. Henry Hub, the world's most robust natural gas hub, is located in southern Louisiana. Its associated infrastructure '' nine interstate and four intrastate pipelines and ample storage facilities in the region '' provides physical access to most major gas markets in the US. It is the official delivery point for futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and establishes the benchmark price for North American gas markets. Because of its large volume of contracts (an average of 500,000 gas contracts per day in the first quarter of 2018), liquidity and transparency, Henry Hub enables gas-on-gas pricing as opposed to the fragmented, oil-linked pricing that prevails in regional gas markets in other parts of the world.
It is also important to understand the value of a hub. The Dutch Government, in considering investing in the development of a gas hub in the Netherlands, described the benefits as follows:
''The primary aim of the gas hub strategy is 'to secure the country's gas supply and promote the continuity of European gas supplies'... By creating a gas hub, the government wishes to guarantee the country's access to energy sources in the long-term'...The secondary aim the government is seeking to achieve is economic growth and boosting the country's earning potential.''
A Turkish natural gas exchange would take advantage of its gas hub as the reference location for future contracts that are physically satisfied and establish natural gas as a competitive commodity in its region. A competitive Turkish pricing point and liquid supply source could also provide many advantages to Turkey, contributing to its national economy and enhancing its energy security. In addition, it would give Turkey a larger stake in improving regional stability, increasing production, and promoting low cost infrastructures.
Current Domestic Policies Supporting the Role of Natural Gas in Turkey
Turkey is growing its natural gas infrastructure and importing natural gas from more diversified sources of supply, actions that enhance the role of natural gas in Turkey and the region. Many regulatory and market changes are already in line with Turkey's goals to privatize its electricity and natural gas markets, although much work remains to be done. Progress towards a Turkish natural gas hub would depend on continued implementation of these reforms, as well as the unbundling of contracts held by Turkey's state-owned gas transmission system operator.
Diversification of Turkey's Natural Gas Supplies
Diversification of sources of gas supply has been a key feature of Turkey's energy policy. For instance, TANAP now provides access to the Azerbaijan Shah Deniz field. Due to the field's scalable features and the potential for additional production in shipping volumes from Shah Deniz that could be doubled with a modest investment, this would increase the share of imported Caspian gas relative to Russian and Iranian gas. This would likely create opportunities for additional contract/price flexibility.
TurkStream will provide new import capacity from Gazprom but there will be decreased imports from Gazprom's Westline, making the net addition of TurkStream significantly lower than its 15.75 BCM/yr. capacity (the capacity of the TurkStream line terminating in Turkey, not including the capacity of the line that would transit through Turkey into Europe). Figure 1 shows a recent projection of how Turkey's natural gas suppliers will become more diversified.
This figure demonstrates the importance of Azerbaijan relative to Russian imports but also the importance of LNG where Qatar is being added as a supplier to the current LNG-contract suppliers, Nigeria and Algeria. Floating regasification terminals (FSRUs) are also being added. These terminals will have sufficient excess regasification capacity to take advantage of spot LNG supplies. Emergency and surplus regasification capacity '' coupled with the flexibility of FSRUs '' would contribute to the gas supply liquidity.
Market Reforms
Privatization will require major reforms in Botaş along with supportive policies. Turkey's current policies represent a good start in a long process; they will help generate capital, increase market transparency for energy buyers and sellers, and help promote wholesale and retail price competition '' the realization of which is important for Turkey's energy and economic future. The advantages of these changes are manifold. Competitive markets typically produce cost-effective capital formation and a lower cost of retail energy services. Under state control, energy prices do not necessarily reflect costs but, in the long run, costs are more important since subsidized energy prices are costly to sustain and can lead to reduced economic growth.
Market liberalization would mean the end of existing policies to cross-subsidize natural gas prices differently among power generators, industry, and retail customers. In general, depending on the trend line of marginal energy costs, retail energy prices could rise or fall after market liberalization. However, with Turkey's recent low costs and current low prices, retail prices may initially rise as subsidies are reduced or removed. Nonetheless, cost-reflective energy pricing is the best way to increase national economic performance and also promote energy efficiency. With cost-reflective prices, other ways can be devised to support needy consumers while achieving national economic benefits and environmental improvement.
Policies towards market liberalization in Turkey are affecting both the power and natural gas sectors. As noted, the Turkish natural gas market is dominated by Botaş, which holds most of Turkey's long-term natural gas import contracts and controls its pipeline transmission system. Botaş had monopoly rights on importing natural gas until 2001 but it was not until 2007 when Royal Dutch Shell, Bosphorus Gaz, and Tur Enerji initiated non-Botaş gas sales to the market. Nonetheless, Botaş' dominant market position is enshrined by the contractual obligations it has that cannot realistically be transferred to private parties in a short period of time.
Botaş also owns and operates Turkey's natural gas distribution system. It has, over the years, made progress in expanding natural gas availability throughout Turkey; almost every Turkish province is now connected to the natural gas grid. Botaş has also made investments and secured contracts to eliminate bottlenecks in Turkey's dispatch capacity, enabling it to better serve large population centers. TANAP and TurkStream, for example, provide three new entry points, doubling Turkey's send out capacity and reducing the likelihood of gas shortages during peak demand. While it has temporarily lowered the utilization rate to 63 percent (2016), this action is likely a transitory problem that could be resolved as the Turkish gas market develops.
Botaş effectively controls gas prices and subsidizes merchant power generators, industrial customers, and retail customers while charging higher prices to merchant plants with power supply contracts to TETAŞ, and E'AŞ power plants (a government-founded company). The recent decline in the USD-Turkish lira exchange rate increases the cost of the subsidies as the imported gas is priced in USD. Brent oil prices also significantly increased in the last year, effectively increasing the rolling average price of the pipeline contracts. Lastly, because of the expiring merchant power plant contracts with TETAŞ, the base of gas supply that is cross-subsidizing the other customers will be declining. All of these factors will likely cause Botaş to move to cost-reflective pricing, as seen in its August 6 announcement of price increases although residential and industrial tariffs remained 20 percent to 35 percent below Botaş' weighted average cost of natural gas (underscoring the need for additional and significant reforms).
Benefits to Turkey from Investing in a Natural Gas Hub
The establishment of a natural gas hub in Turkey can unlock significant benefits that would support the country's economic, environmental, and security goals.
Price Stability
Market changes and investments could be the most effective way to reduce natural gas pricing uncertainty and volatility, increase the desirability of natural gas as a key energy source for Turkey, and potentially lead to the eventual establishment of a hub. The creation of a natural gas hub would effectively de-link natural gas prices from oil prices, removing a significant source of gas price volatility that has little to do with the fundamentals of natural gas markets.
Economic Benefits
While a hub would not bring foreign exchange earnings to Turkey from exports of its indigenous gas production, it would enable such earnings for associated financial and physical services, providing foreign exchange revenues for Turkish investors and traders. A hub would also help facilitate investments in domestic gas production in Turkey, especially in shale gas production, where the period from investment to payoff tends to be much briefer than for conventional production.
Energy Security
A Turkish natural gas hub would enhance Turkey's energy security by reducing the vulnerabilities associated with current gas imports through increased gas storage capacity, greater supply diversity, and the capacity to import large volumes of spot LNG as needed. In addition, the Turkish hub effectively makes Turkey a natural gas exporter regardless of its production levels, enabling it to directly respond to demand from connected European purchasers, and to add to overall global supplies. This may result in better trade agreements and increased investment in the Turkish economy.
Global Importance of Natural Gas
The global importance of natural gas is expected to grow as a result of increased supplies of unconventional natural gas. The International Energy Agency (IEA) anticipates that the shale gas revolution will continue to expand gas production. By 2040, the IEA projects that annual natural gas production from unconventional resources will increase by 1,061 billion cubic meters while conventional sources will increase only by 622 billion cubic meters. Overall annual natural gas production is expected to increase from 3,536 billion cubic meters to 5,219 billion cubic meters. It is in Turkey's economic interest to remain tied into this important world energy resource and not to discount the possibility that Turkey may itself develop its domestic shale gas resources and offshore gas supplies.
Allocation of Energy Resources and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Natural gas as a component of Turkey's energy mix could help firm variable renewable generation (i.e. a non-dispatchable renewable energy source like wind or solar) and offer a relatively low capital-cost alternative to retiring coal plants that cannot be affordably retrofitted with carbon capture, storage and utilization technologies. Natural gas can also play an important role in reducing Turkey's power sector greenhouse gas emissions, especially if competitive markets allocate power sector investments.
Towards a Turkish Hub
Establishing a robust Turkish natural gas hub would require significant infrastructure investments such as changes to the current Turkish natural gas market; support for additional production from different sources in the region to add volume and liquidity; resolution of underlying geopolitical tensions that discourage investors; development of additional sources of supply; and potential customers and suppliers. In addition to cost-reflective pricing and supply diversity noted above, there would have to be gas-on-gas competition and new transparent market mechanisms.
Destination Clauses
In a robust gas trading hub, Botaş would no longer dominate the gas market and gas pricing. A diversity of private parties would have to assume the take-or-pay contracts with major pipeline suppliers. In addition, a trading hub requires a large volume of spot gas. Much of this gas could come from private parties that have long-term take-or-pay contracts with foreign suppliers as long as their contracts do not include destination clauses.
As a precondition for future diversification, Botaş should aim to eliminate destination clauses in its renegotiated contracts; without such actions, destination clauses for large suppliers such as Russia and Iran will restrict needed supply liquidity. Eliminating such clauses serves Turkey's short and mid-term interests. Botaş could secure contracts sufficient to meet Turkey's domestic gas requirements, while also establishing Turkey as a natural gas exporter. Botaş could then take advantage of changes in the spot gas markets, supporting its domestic pricing strategies with new revenues.
The prospects for eliminating destination clauses are better than in the past for a number of reasons. LNG contracts offer an example of disappearing destination clauses, where contracts without them are now widely available. Also, the European Commission recently imposed antitrust obligations on Gazprom to remove destination clauses from its contracts to ''enable the free flow of gas at competitive prices in Central and Eastern European gas markets.'' Most importantly, 2020 is likely to be a buyers' market since the worldwide market is well-supplied and the prospects for new gas supplies appear to exceed expected demand growth in the mid-term.
Given Turkey's declining domestic natural gas consumption, the flexibility to resell natural gas during favorable market conditions is likely to be a high priority for Botaş. Of course, Gazprom will not welcome Turkish competition to its TurkStream line that is destined to supply gas to Europe. Nonetheless, their markets are likely to be different and, if Turkey became a free-market natural gas trading center, Gazprom could benefit from the likelihood of higher export volumes.
Storage and Interconnections
A physical gas hub must have enough storage to provide supply liquidity and common carrier pipelines to facilitate physical sales and purchases of its gas. Turkey's existing gas storage facilities include:' TPAQ Silivri: 2.8 BCM underground; maximum injection 16 MCM/day and maximum withdrawal 20 MCM/day; additional 1.8 BCM by 2023
' Botaş Tuz GoÌl¼: 1.2 BCM underground; maximum withdrawal 44 MCM/day: additional 4.2 BCM by 2023' ‡alık Tuz GoÌl¼; 1 BCM' Toren Tarsus: 500 MCM' Botaş Marmara Ereğlisi: 255 KCM LNG; maximum regasification 8.2 BCM/year and maximum withdrawal 22 MCM/day ' EgeGaz Aliağa: 280 KCM LNG; maximum regasification 6.0 BCM/year and maximum withdrawal 16.4 MCM/dayTurkey's plans for additional storage, equivalent to 20% of its gas consumption, could help underpin an effective and valuable regional storage hub that serves both Turkish and foreign customers. The Turkish gas market must also be sufficiently deregulated to set by supply and demand and not fiat. In addition, interconnections are important to the free movement of gas from major pipelines and LNG regasification plants to storage and/or distribution to international customers.
Divestiture of Botaş Contracts to the Private Sector
Eliminating the means by which a single player, e.g. the government, can determine prices is an essential step for a Turkish natural gas hub and exchange, without which commercial and non-commercial traders would simply not participate. A commodity market that relies only on physical sellers and physical purchasers would have too few exchanges with which to discover prices and would also have high price volatility. Non-commercial traders are essential for any commodity market to have enough liquidity to function properly; they substantially increase the volume of trades necessary to have a relatively stable market and also provide information and signals to the market that may not be the purview of commercial traders.
In 2005, Botaş began the process of divestiture of its pipeline contracts but immediately ran into difficulties since suppliers (Russia, Iran, Nigeria, and Algeria) were unwilling to begin negotiating with multiple private companies. By 2007-2012, negotiations with Gazprom resulted in new private contracts with seven Turkish companies and a corresponding decrease of gas imports by Botaş from Westline. Turkey's Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) approved these contracts after determining that there was sufficient domestic natural gas demand; it continues to consider gas import licenses based on domestic requirements for gas.
As noted, Botaş controls wholesale prices for different categories of gas customers. This restricts the pricing opportunities of businesses that hold natural gas import licenses and contracts. Continued diversification of Botaş' gas contracts not only involves ongoing transfers of contracts to private companies but also supports the movement to cost-reflective pricing. This will enable private importers to operate at a profit and eventually result in the transfer of assets to private entities sufficient to establish a true market pricing of Turkey's gas resources. These are difficult decisions to make, in difficult times. In the end, however, there could be substantial benefits to Turkish consumers, the country's economy, and the environment. It is possible that a divestiture timetable could be engineered to maximize the benefits of market liberalization at a time when gas prices are falling, not rising.
Conclusions
Turkey has made progress in laying the groundwork for turning a state-controlled natural gas and power sector into a private competitive market'--but much work needs to be done. As the government evolves its role in Turkey's natural gas markets, it will still have an important responsibility to encourage the development of domestic natural gas supplies. This could contribute to the eventual establishment of a competitive trading hub that will have value to Turkey as well as gas consumers in the region.
The Turkish government has made direct investments to provide electrical and natural gas services to more consumers throughout the country, as well as the significant expansion of gas distribution infrastructures. For the gas sector, supply contracts have been secured from more diversified sources of foreign supply. These investments and take-or-pay contracts were needed to meet Turkey's growing energy needs, especially to supply modern energy services to the entire country. Also, tenders have been provided to increase Turkey's renewable power industry. During the next round of pipeline negotiations, perhaps the most important action Turkey could take to advance the establishment of a natural gas hub is the elimination of destination clauses in gas contracts. An added benefit of this would be the increased progress towards cost-reflective pricing, a benefit for both Turkish energy consumers and Turkey.
Competitive markets are a desirable goal for the future. Measured, purposeful, and thoughtful actions that are objectively analyzed and transparently developed are the right path. Turkey should continue to build on its current laws and policies that lay the groundwork for the privatization of its energy markets. It should divest natural gas contracts to private parties while continuing to ensure investment in critical infrastructures such as natural gas storage and regasification terminals. Actions to resolve long-standing issues in the Eastern Mediterranean would also be attractive to investors and to potential customers in Europe who may be concerned about a range of actions, some recent and some decades-old, that work against the stability, flexibility, and liquidity that would support a robust hub.
Melanie Kenderdine
Melanie Kenderdine is a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Global Energy Center and a Principal at the Energy Futures Initiative, a Washington-based think tank. Previously, Kenderdine served at the US Department of Energy as the energy counselor to the Secretary and the Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis
This article was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ), published in collaboration with Atlantic Council IN TURKEY.
The statements, opinions and data contained in the content published in Global Gas Perspectives are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publisher and the editor(s) of Natural Gas World.
Clips
VIDEO - Pence says Trump 'passed out candy' and didn't raise his voice in shutdown meeting | TheHill
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:48
Vice President Pence defended President Trump Donald John TrumpDem strategist says party's leaders struggle to relate to Americans Mexican president staying out of wall debate, calling it an internal US matter China vows to buy 'substantial amount' of American goods and services, US trade agency says MORE 's conduct on Wednesday following a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDem strategist says party's leaders struggle to relate to Americans Pelosi, Schumer response tops Trump speech in preliminary ratings Conway preemptively chides 'phony-baloney' polls showing Trump speech didn't boost support for wall MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), following claims from Democrats that the president stormed out of the meeting.
Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, Pence said that Trump remained calm during the meeting and began by passing out candy to his guests, which also included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Addison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop House Dem: 'I think we're very close to a deal' to end shutdown Liz Cheney on Christian Bale: He had chance to play 'a real superhero' and 'screwed it up' CNN's Camerota presses Kaine over refusal to do any Senate business before shutdown ends MORE (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Kevin Owen McCarthyPelosi: Trump FEMA threat insults memory of Americans killed in wildfires National Governors Association calls for end to shutdown Who the GOP should pick for select committee on climate MORE (R-Calif.).
"The president walked into the room and passed out candy. It's true," Pence told reporters. "I don't recall him ever raising his voice or slamming his hand."
"He never raised his voice," added McCarthy, who was standing behind Pence during the press conference.
.@VP Pence "The president walked into the room and passed out candy. It's true." pic.twitter.com/whHCK7cN8e
'-- CSPAN (@cspan) January 9, 2019"This is a president who feels very strongly about his commitment to see to the security of the American people," Pence continued, explaining Trump's continued demand for border wall funding in any bill to reopen the government.
"He brought the whole issue to the center of the national debate when he sought this office," Pence added.
Democrats exited Wednesday's meeting complaining of a "temper tantrum" they said Trump had during the meeting, which according to Pelosi and Schumer ended with the president abruptly leaving the meeting after Pelosi refused his latest demand for $5.7 billion in border security funding.
The president meanwhile slammed the meeting with Democrats as a "waste of time," signaling that the partial shutdown of the federal government will continue while the White House and congressional Democrats are unable to reach an agreement.
"I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO," Trump tweeted after the meeting, adding: "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!"
McCarthy at the Capitol after the meeting also disputed accounts that Trump lashed out.
"The president turned to Nancy '-- and it was all very calm '-- and he asked her, 'OK, if I open up the government, in 30 days could we have border security?' And she said, 'No, not at all.' ''
Pressed on Trump's precise request, McCarthy said, ''He may have said 'border wall.' "
"He didn't slam his hands down, he just said, 'Alright, I guess you guys don't want to do anything.' ''
McCarthy, who was also asked about the candy, reported it was ''Butterfingers and a couple of other types. It was a mix.''
-Mike Lillis contributed.
VIDEO - Typical! You wait ages for a fast radio burst, suddenly 13 show up ' The Register
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:50
Canada's new radio telescope, built to explore the early universe, has turned out to be a handy hunter for the mysterious phenomena called Fast Radio Bursts (FRB).
The bursts were first picked up in 2007 (in data archived since 2001) by Australia's Parkes radio telescope, and only a few dozen have been detected since then.
Now the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) has set the astronomy world afire in announcing its findings in two papers in Nature, that during its pre-commissioning phase in July and August 2018, it spotted 13 new FRBs.
That's a decent first-pass contribution to a phenomena that's been spotted so rarely. Perimeter Institute astronomer Dr Dustin Lang said on Wednesday this week: ''We have more ideas of what they could be than we have actually detected fast radio bursts.''
Two of the new observations are particularly special: one, by showing the lowest ''dispersion measure'' ever reported for an FRB, is probably among the closest observed and the other is just the second repeating FRB ever identified.
In a message posted to Twitter, astrophysicist Emily Petroff, who in 2015 was the first to identify an FRB in real time, noted that the new ''repeater'' behaves a lot like the first:
But possibly most exciting of all... The repeater found by CHIME shows similar frequency and time structure to the only other repeater. The emission cascades down in frequency over time. Figures from CHIME paper 2 (left) and Hessels et al. 2019 (right) https://t.co/hfWhDl2FyB pic.twitter.com/ecL817SHKH
'-- Emily Petroff (@ebpetroff) January 9, 2019The search for FRBs has a simple motivation: so far, we have too few observations to settle on a cause for the phenomenon. An FRB is a very short pulse, akin to the kind of short pulses that come from pulsars, but unlike pulsars they mostly don't repeat.
They're probably generated by extremely energetic events, since most FRBs are detected from a great distance. Seeing a signal at all indicates something big, like a black hole collision, could be the cause.
CHIME is useful for the FRB search as it's a static instrument that relies on the Earth's rotation to sweep its view across the sky and this allowed its designers to build an instrument much larger than can easily be achieved with a swiveling dish design.
Taming the firehose CHIME collaborator and Perimeter Institute fellow Kendrick Smith explained that using the telescope to search for FRBs poses a huge computational challenge.
In a Perimeter Institute video (below), Smith said the telescope generates an ''avalanche of data, a hundred times more data than is generated by any other radio telescope.'' To process that, the team had to work out ''how to scale the computations that are needed to do radio astronomy up to unprecedented volume.''
Youtube Video
The processing pipeline behind CHIME is described in this paper on arXiv.
One reason CHIME was set on this search was that since the world first started detecting the phenomena, astroboffins have upped their estimates of how many such events exist to somewhere between hundreds and thousands a day.
Only, however, if we can see them, and that's a multifaceted problem: First, deploy a detector able to pick up the signals and second, pluck out the transients from a torrent of noise (CHIME collects a bonkers 1TB of data per second for FRB detection. The 1,024 stationary intensity beams use 16,000 frequency channels, sampled each millisecond).
Turning that incoming firehose to the mere 142GB per second to the back end is a computational problem, and this is why the Perimeter Institute's fellow Kendrick Smith called CHIME ''a software telescope''.
After pre-processing, discrete beams are processed by 128 ''Layer 1'' nodes, each comprising two ten-core Intel Xeon E5-2630 v4 processors and 128GB of RAM. In this stage, RF interference is rejected, a signal-correction process called dedispersion is applied, and possible signals are sifted and grouped.
The paper noted that this dedispersion transform, in which signals are converted from time and frequency, into time and dispersion measure, to allow ''efficient detection of dispersed impulse signals''.
The CHIME arXiv paper explained that ''the output of the dedispersion transform is a 5D array of signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs), to which we apply a tunable threshold '... to identify candidate events for processing by subsequent stages of the pipeline''.
Take a deep breath, because here come some breathtaking numbers from the CHIME arXiv paper: ''The computational challenge of the CHIME/FRB search is immense: The input data rate is 1.5PB/day, and the dedispersion transform computes 1011 SNR values per second (total for all beams).''
To handle this processing stage, the CHIME team developed its own software, dubbed Bonsai, which it plans to release in the future.
The remaining steps in the CHIME pipeline are L3 (flux estimation, source identification, extragalactic check, and an action decision); and L4 (action implementation, database operations to store header data, intensity data, and baseband data; offline analysis and a Web interface with alerts). ®
VIDEO - 🍃V🍃 on Twitter: "Reporter to Joe Biden: "Mr. Biden, are you still groping children - have you seen the videos Creepy Joe Biden? It's pretty disgusting sir" Well done who ever did this👏'... https://t.co/yc4iknqsge"
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:28
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VIDEO - What They're Not Telling You About the Yellow Vests
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:26
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Here's who won the prime time ratings war between Trump and the Democrats on immigration - TheBlaze
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:20
Despite the long build up and high expectations for the prime time address from President Donald Trump on immigration and the government shutdown, it was the response from Democratic leadership that eked out a ratings victory.
The president used his 9 minute address to make the case that there was a crisis at the border, and that a border wall was necessary to protect Americans and ensure the order of the rule of law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) used their time to blame the president for the government shutdown.
That opposition response proved to garner slightly more viewers than the president, with a bump of about 4 percent separating them.
The Hollywood Reporter says that the president's speech garnered a 28.1 household rating from combined viewership on seven networks.
But the Democratic response garnered a 29.3 household rating.
The difference is about 45 percent of total active viewership for Trump compared to 47 percent for the Democrats.
Many believed that the president would use the occasion to announce a state of emergency on the border, and have the military build the border wall. While he has threatened such an action, and claimed it was well within his power, he has not yet used that option which would almost certainly lead to legal challenges.
The contentious debate over immigration and the shutdown continued into Wednesday when Trump met with the Democratic leaders to discuss the issue, only to get up and leave abruptly. Pelosi and Schumer slammed the president for his actions, but Republicans in the meeting said it was the Democrats who acted inappropriately.
Here's the latest on the shutdown:
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard calls out fellow Democrats for 'fomenting religious bigotry' - TheBlaze
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 05:18
Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii wrote an op-ed in The Hill on Tuesday criticizing Senate Democrats for suggesting that a judicial nominee's Catholic faith might disqualify him from the position.
Without mentioning them by name, Gabbard referenced questions by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) submitted to judicial nominee Brian Buescher.
What Gabbard said: "While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher's Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus," Gabbard wrote. "If Buescher is 'unqualified' because of his Catholicism and affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, then President John F. Kennedy, and the 'liberal lion of the Senate' Ted Kennedy would have been 'unqualified' for the same reasons."
"We must call this out for what it is'--religious bigotry," Gabbard wrote later in the op-ed. "This is not just when such prejudice is anti-Catholic, but also when it is anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Hindu, or anti-Protestant, or any other religion."
Gabbard, a veteran of the Iraq War, is was the first Hindu elected to Congress in 2012.
What is she referring to? Harris questioned Buescher about his membership in the Catholic service organization the Knights of Columbus, and the organization's stance on same-sex marriage. Hirono asked about Buescher's ability to be a fair judge on abortion issues.
How Buescher defended himself: "The Knights of Columbus does not have the authority to take personal political positions on behalf of all of its approximately two million members," Buescher wrote in his written responses to the senators' questions.
Buescher said he joined the Knights of Columbus when he was 18 yeas old and that he participates in charitable and community events.
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VIDEO - Trump Walks Out Of Meeting With Pelosi, Schumer On Government Shutdown : NPR
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 23:11
President Trump and Vice President Pence arrive at the U.S. Capitol to attend the weekly Republican Senate policy luncheon on Wednesday. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Alex Wong/Getty Images President Trump and Vice President Pence arrive at the U.S. Capitol to attend the weekly Republican Senate policy luncheon on Wednesday.
Alex Wong/Getty Images Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET
President Trump abruptly halted spending talks at the White House on Wednesday, after congressional Democrats again rejected his demand for a $5.7 billion border wall.
On Twitter, Trump dismissed the negotiations as a "total waste of time," as a partial government shutdown stretched into its 19th day. He added, "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!"
Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019"Our meeting did not last long," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters, standing in the chilly White House driveway. "It's cold out here, and the temperature wasn't much warmer in the Situation Room."
"Unfortunately, the president just got up and walked out," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., after Pelosi said the Democrats are unwilling to agree to wall funding.
"We saw a temper tantrum," Schumer said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speak to the media following a meeting with President Trump about the partial government shutdown at the White House on Wednesday. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speak to the media following a meeting with President Trump about the partial government shutdown at the White House on Wednesday.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images Vice President Pence blamed Democrats for refusing to give ground on the wall.
"In this brief meeting, we heard once again that Democratic leaders are unwilling to even negotiate to resolve this partial government shutdown or address the crisis at our Southern border," Pence said. "What the president made clear today is he is going to stand firm to achieve his priorities: to build a wall, a steel barrier on the Southern border."
With the two sides at an impasse, some 800,000 federal employees are expected to miss their first paycheck, on Friday, since the shutdown began on Dec. 22.
"The president seems to be insensitive to that," Pelosi said. "He thinks maybe they could just ask their father for more money. But they can't."
Earlier, Trump met with GOP senators, urging his fellow Republicans not to waver in their demand for a border wall.
"The Republicans are totally unified," Trump told reporters after that meeting. "There was no discussion about anything other than solidarity."
The president insisted that a compromise is still possible, but he also threatened to use emergency powers if necessary to fund the wall.
"I don't think we'll have to do that, but you never know," Trump told reporters. "I really believe the Democrats and the Republicans are working together."
There was little evidence of that during the White House meeting or on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers from both parties traded barbs and blamed the shutdown on the other side's inflexibility.
Trump's prime-time address from the Oval Office on Tuesday appeared to have done little to change the terms of the debate.
Schumer dismissed the president's speech as "little more than a rehash of spurious arguments and misleading statistics that the president has been using for weeks."
"In no way did the president's speech last night make a persuasive or even a new case for an exorbitantly expensive border wall," Schumer said, noting that he is talking about "a wall that the president guaranteed would be paid by Mexico."
Democrats accused the president of using the shutdown to gain political leverage, while forcing Transportation Security Administration officers, food safety inspectors and Border Patrol agents to work without pay.
A handful of GOP senators have broken with their party and voiced concern about the shutdown.
"I don't like government shutdowns," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. "I don't think they're a good way to govern, and we ought to be able to get our work done."
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not budged.
McConnell described the president's wall proposal as "imminently reasonable," and noted that Democrats have supported similar border barriers in the past.
"Steel fencing was fine, even salutary, when President Obama was in the White House," McConnell complained. "But it's 'immoral' when President Trump occupies the office."
McConnell blasted Schumer for holding up Senate votes on unrelated foreign policy measures during the budget impasse.
"Do Democrats want to hold everything hostage?" McConnell asked. "I urge my Democratic colleagues more strongly to get past this purely partisan spite."
Congressional Democrats are equally dug in.
"Democrats have consistently indicated that we are willing to substantially increase funding for border security," said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. "But we are not willing to waste taxpayer dollars on a medieval border wall that is a fifth century solution to a 21st century problem. And we are certainly not willing to reward a presidential temper tantrum that has shut down the government for 19 days."
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., added, "I just think this is a situation where (Trump) is holding the American people hostage to a vanity wall fantasy. He should let that go. It's absolutely false that the border wall is the way to deal with any humanitarian crisis or national security."
Trump described the federal employees who have been furloughed or are working without pay as "terrific patriots" and has insisted without evidence that both government workers and the general public support his effort to secure funding for the wall.
"The people out there want something to happen at our Southern border," Trump said. "It's a very bad political issue for the Democrats. That I can tell you."
A Reuters/Ipsos poll published Tuesday found only about 4 in 10 Americans support the idea of building additional barriers along the border, and support has fallen since 2015. The same poll found 51 percent of Americans say the president "deserves most of the blame" for the government shutdown '-- an increase of 4 percentage points since a poll taken just before Christmas. Among Republicans, however, support for the wall is much stronger, with 77 percent approving and 54 percent supporting the shutdown as a means to that end.
VIDEO - Episode 61: What The Hell Is Wrong With MSNBC, Part II -- A Rebuttal Citations Needed podcast
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 22:51
In Ep. 34: 'What The Hell Is Wrong With MSNBC', we discussed with our anonymous MSNBC informant, well, what the hell was wrong with MSNBC? Why do they routinely focused on inane horserace and RussiaGate fear-mongering over objectively important topics like climate change, the destruction of Yemen, and worker strikes? One listener, former MSNBC ...'...
The media '' local and national, print and TV '' love puff pieces designed to make the police look good and generally improve their overall brand with the public. More often than not, these human interest stories are typically fed to local news by the police themselves. This type of pseudo-journalism is most transparent in its most overly sacchar ...'...
F-22 flyovers, 160-foot flags draped across the playing field, full color guards, camouflage uniforms, The Star-Spangled Banner, God Bless America, Support The Troops Nights, special perks for vets. What is the origin of the runaway military worship so ingrained in our sports? How did our professional baseball and football leagues become so inf ...'...
We're told the world is getting better all the time. In January, The New York Times' Nick Kristof explained "Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History." The same month, Harvard professor and Bill Gates' favorite optimist Steven Pinker lamented (in a special edition of Time magazine guest edited by - who else? - Bill Gates) the ''bad habits of ...'...
Focus groups have long-been derided by the left, right, and center for watering down culture and reducing creative and political endeavors to dull, show-of-hand reductionism. But what if focus groups '' which first arose from socialist experiments in 1920s Vienna '' are not inherently bad? What if they've simply been exploited by the capitalist c ...'...
In the wake of the 2016 election, many conservatives, liberals, and - unfortunately - even some on the left pointed to Democrats' reliance on so-called "identity politics" to explain Donald Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton. One of the most popular manifestations of this sentiment was the controversy surrounding bathrooms and transgend ...'...
''Bush didn't send enough Troops.'' ''Trump needs authorization from Congress before launching a war.'' ''Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories are not helpful.'' We hear these liberal objections to war and occupation all the time. On the surface, they sound opposed to injustice'--and maybe sometimes are'--but what if, more ...'...
Jake Tapper's career trajectory is an object lesson in how to succeed in corporate media. The formula generally goes like this: go after the fringes of the left and the right''''but mostly the left. Never offend any traditional centers of power. Mug. Constantly mug for the camera. Hitch your brand to ''The Troops'' And-always, always''''attack from t ...'...
"The suspect fled on foot, police said. Call this number if you have any information." "The incident took place at the 1200 block of Grove." "Police say." "Police sources are telling us." "Suspect is thought to be armed and dangerous." We've all heard this type of Official Copspeak before. The local press dutifully informs us about "suspects" a ...'...
Trump says he opposed the war in Iraq, but in fact said he supported it in an obscure interview in 2004. McCain was for the tax cuts before he was against them. Republicans say they're Christians, yet support a philandering liar. Hypocrisy takedowns '' which reached peak popularity during the heyday of The Daily Show '' have been the bread and bu ...'...
"Diversity" is a simultaneously important and buzzword-y term beloved by the media, corporations, real estate agents and elite universities. It's something to strive for and take pride in, a symbol of inclusion and tolerance. While diversity is a noble feature '' and something all large systems should strive for '' it originally was not supposed ...'...
Post-Cold War liberal chauvinism knew no better ideological conduit than the hit NBC series The West Wing. Foreign policy was imperial, staffers were self-satisfied, and Serious Democrats fended off radical leftists and made the Tough Choices needed to run a benevolent superpower. The West Wing, created and primarily written by Aaron Sorkin, he ...'...
With recent primary election wins by candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, James Thompson, Julia Salazar and others, the terms ''socialist'' and ''democratic socialist'' are everywhere. Media outlets across the political spectrum - from The Washington Post andBusiness Insider to NPR and MSNBC to Jacobin - have rushed to publish e ...'...
In the mid-1990s there was a rhetorical and cultural shift on the issue of abortion, namely the result of anti-abortion activists successfully introducing the term "partial birth abortion" into both the media and cultural lexicon. Major Democrats conceded the language, along with the moral high ground, to the extremist right-wing. They hammered ...'...
From the shame-inducing ''safe, legal and rare'' framing of the 1990s to normalizing efforts like the #ShoutYourAbortion campaign and an uptick in abortion plot lines in mainstream television, dialogue surrounding abortion has shifted in recent years from one of apologism and soft-pedaling to a more frank, straightforward approach. These efforts, ...'...
There must be an account for the thousands of dead Arabs and Asians McCain helped create. On this News Brief we attempt to do that.
Since there's been America, there have been American war crimes, and since there have been American war crimes, there's been a parallel cottage industry of hacks, shills and propagandists willing to not only apologize for, deny and downplay these crimes, but actually spin them as benevolent charity. While Karl Rove mastered the art of taking a ...'...
Russia, as we all know, has sinister ''oligarchs'' whereas in the United States, we are told, we have ''philanthropists,'' ''job creators,'' and ''titans of industry'' who earn their wealth through hard work, moxie, and guile. Aside from a few cartoonishly evil billionaires '' like the Walton family, Peter Thiel, and the Koch brothers '' the average Amer ...'...
Russia, as we all know, has sinister ''oligarchs'' whereas in the United States, we are told, we have ''philanthropists,'' ''job creators,'' and ''titans of industry'' who earn their wealth through hard work, moxie, and guile. Aside from a few cartoonishly evil billionaires '' like the Walton family, Peter Thiel, and the Koch brothers '' the average Amer ...'...
For over two years, the U.S. government has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election - interference broadly considered to be in favor of candidate Donald Trump. As a result, a bizarre flip has occurred with the Right and Left: Polls show liberals now trust the FBI and CIA, while many right-wingers '' though by no means all '' ...'...
For over two years, the U.S. government has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election - interference broadly considered to be in favor of candidate Donald Trump. As a result, a bizarre flip has occurred with the Right and Left: Polls show liberals now trust the FBI and CIA, while many right-wingers '' though by no means all '' ...'...
With the rise of Trump, Sanders, Corbyn and Brexit, hundreds of pundits, reporters, and talking heads have been warning about the problems of "populism" and its alleged attack on democracy over the past three years. ''Populism and immigration pose major threat to global democracy,'' the Gates Foundation insists. ''The Dangerous Rise of Populism - ...'...
Healthcare marketplaces,'' ''private insurers competing for your business'' ''insurance subsidies,'' For years, Democrats bet big on framing the healthcare debate using technocratic, capitalist terms''''they weren't going to radically change the system of healthcare, simply accent the existing private insurance-based model making things ''smarter,'' ''ea ...'...
They're not lies, they're ''falsehoods''; it's not racism, it's ''racially charged comments''; it's not torture, it's ''enhanced interrogation.'' For years, U.S. media has prioritized, above all else, norms and civility. Mean words or questioning motives are signs of declining civility and the subject of much lament from our media class. However, op- ...'...
The United States, far and away, has the largest prison population in the world. It also has one of the greatest disparities in their prison population of ethnic minorities in the world. How does a country that prides itself on being a ''beacon of freedom'' and whose leaders travel the world scolding other countries on ''human rights'' find itself ...'...
''Baby Boomers are bloating the social safety net!'' ''GenXers are changing the nature of work!'' ''Millennials are killing the housing market!". The media endlessly feeds us stories about how one generation or another is engaging in some collective act of moral failing that, either explicitly or by implication, harms another generation. It's a wide ...'...
"A pillar of the community"." A straight-A student who dreamed of becoming a doctor". "A loving father"."Here through no fault of their own". "She was hysterical and out of control." "He was no angel." The press, both local and national, humanizes some victims of state or corporate violence, while demonizing others. Despite good intentions and ...'...
For decades, Canada has been a go-to point of reference for American progressives as a country the United States can and should strive to be. And while there are many parts about Canadian society that are measurably preferable, leftists in Canada find their country's glossy, socialist paradise image to be overblown and often a barrier to meanin ...'...
When Americans read about the Korean "conflict" in the Western press, the articles are populated almost entirely with Serious Western Talking Heads, weapons contractor-funded think tank "fellows," and former and current U.S. military brass. Who's never consulted, much less heeded, are peace and left activists from the Korean peninsula. The noti ...'...
MSNBC is by far the most influential mainstream media outlet on the American Left. It sets the tone and defines the boundary for what is acceptable discourse among American liberals. But major issues the Left is generally thought to care about - imperial war, worker strikes, Palestine, climate change - are almost entirely absent from coverage, ...'...
The unlikely rise of Trump in the past three years has created a chasm in the Republican party: those who embrace the President's wild, unorthodox, nativist style and those who''''with much posturing and self congratulation''''reject his brand of conservatism. The latter group, generally called ''NeverTrump'' Republicans, occupies a special, protecte ...'...
We've heard this scare story a million times: A theater group at Wesleyan won't perform The Vagina Monologues because it's offensive to trans women! Oberlin is banning classes featuring white authorsI Rich, sheltered college students, increasingly indoctrinated by radical Marxist professors, are asking for safe spaces! But how much merit is the ...'...
We've seen the headlines hundreds of times: ''ISIS plot foiled'', ''ISIS in Brooklyn", ''Woman Stopped At Airport on way to join ISIS''. These stories strike fear into the hearts of Americans everywhere, especially in the build up to the war effort against ISIS in Summer 2014. The terror group was everywhere, recruiting our teenagers and attempting ...'...
Fighting against the far right forces of the Republican Party and their auxiliary white supremacist media makes attempts to appropriate notions of nationalism into a liberal mold a compelling short cut for Democrats looking for easy clapbacks and viral RT's. The temptation to promote a kinder, gentler, "woke" patriotism is understandable. But w ...'...
The idea that there exists an ongoing effort to achieve a ''two-state solution'' in Israel and Palestine - often referred to as The Middle East Peace Process' - is uniformly taken for granted by American media. This "two-state solution" is always at different stages of viability, yet never quite works out. Presidents fail to achieve it; Palestini ...'...
The idea that there exists an ongoing effort to achieve a ''two-state solution'' in Israel and Palestine - often referred to as The Middle East Peace Process' - is uniformly taken for granted by American media. This "two-state solution" is always at different stages of viability, yet never quite works out. Presidents fail to achieve it; Palestini ...'...
Citations Needed is off this week, but we do have a fascinating interview with Hoda Katebi on her now-infamous WGN television segment. In this News Brief, we explore what it means to "sound American," the politics of women's clothing, and why everyone with even a single drop of Iranian blood is expected to be an expert on nuclear energy and int ...'...
If one were to approach New York Times-reading liberals circa 1990 and tell them about a crime-fighting policy that arbitrarily harassed black and Latino youths who had committed no crime and threw the book at low-level nonviolent offenses, they would be rightfully outraged at the idea. But, if one were to couch this exact policy in pseudoscien ...'...
The term "welfare" is thrown around so casually in political speeches and media coverage we hardly notice it anymore. CNN reports that ''GOP will tackle Medicare, Medicaid, welfare in 2018," while The Washington Post insists that ''Trump recently called on Congress to move to cut welfare spending after the tax bill.'' CBS News tells viewers that '' ...'...
Few words elicit such warm feelings as the term "Democracy." Wars are supposedly fought for it, foreign policies are built around it, protecting and advancing it is considered the United States' highest moral order. Democracy's alleged opposite - broadly called "authoritarianism," "autocracy" or "tyranny'' - is cast as the ultimate evil. The sti ...'...
Here at Citations Needed we enjoy nothing more than ragging on corporate media - indeed, it's our primary job. But can constant snark and negativity breed cynicism? Recent feedback from some of our listeners has us wondering if the act of media criticism need also make room for some media complimenting, lest we succumb to the forces of defeatis ...'...
It's not a "government shutdown", it's a liberal government shutdown''''or, more precisely, a backdoor rightwing coup. Our words should reflect that. Relevant article: It's Not a Government Shutdown. It's a Right-Wing Coup www.thenation.com/article/its-not-'...right-wing-coup/
We've all seen these feel good segments on the local news. The adorable and resourceful seven-year-old in California who's been recycling cans since he was three and now has $10,000 saved up for college. The Oklahoma community that chipped in to buy a car for a beloved Walmart greeter so she wouldn't have to walk to work in the bitter cold anym ...'...
The unique threat and vileness of Donald Trump's presidency can't be overstated. Since he took office a year ago, he's increased civilian deaths in Afghanistan by 50%, increased civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq (surpassing Obama's death toll in just under 7 months), issued dozens of nuclear threats against North Korea, unraveled the Iran deal, ...'...
According to one 2014 study, 75% of white Americans don't have any non-white friends. Put another way, white people's perception of African Americans and other people of color comes primarily from media representations rather than actual interactions. As such, how communities of color are portrayed in the media '' from news and opinion pages to ...'...
Previously on Citations Needed, we discussed the notion of "Lotteryism," that is, the use of the media by large corporations to obscure solidarity in favor of morality tales of "making it." It's a scam to extract resources from local governments in hopes they can "win" corporate cash, headquarters, facilities, and, of course, the promise of "jo ...'...
"Lotteryism" is the use of the media by large corporations to obscure solidarity in favor of morality tales of ''making it''. It's the atomization of parties of mutual interest by lording over them the promise of something greater than what they could achieve if they simply banded together. Lotteryism is an ideology and a PR operation. Lotteryism ...'...
In this episode, we dive into the Fake News hole with Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, New York Times best selling author, and activist Chris Hedges. Since Hillary Clinton's surprise 2016 loss to Donald Trump, there have been thousands of articles, columns, and op-eds lamenting the rise of so-called ''fake news'' and its pernicious effect on ou ...'...
Over 15,000 civilians dead and almost a million reported cases of cholera. 17 million people unsure of where their next meal will come from, including 7 million on the brink of starvation. Nearly 3 million people internally displaced. Hunger, disease, and bombs. That's what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have wrought on Yemen. After a ...'...
In this News Brief Nima and Adam catch up with the latest from the #J20 trial, how the media shaped coverage early in favor of the state, and the racist roots of criminalizing protest. With guest Sam Adler-Bell. ''It's a Police State Mentality'' '-- J20 and the Racist Origins of Criminalizing Protest | Sam Adler-Bell | November 13, 2017 | Mask Maga ...'...
VIDEO - The View on Twitter: ""The problem is that we battle people. But you don't battle people '-- you battle mindsets." @terrycrews on the problem with toxic masculinity: "Men need to admit we messed this whole thing up ... You can't have healing until
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 21:03
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VIDEO - The View | Latest Videos and News - ABC News
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 21:02
Sections Top Stories Watch U.S. International Politics Lifestyle Entertainment Virtual Reality Health Technology Sports Weather FiveThirtyEight Shows Good Morning America World News Tonight Nightline 20/20 This Week The View What Would You Do? Live ABC News Live 'The Briefing Room': Latest news from Washington Phoenix police hold news conference on comatose woman who gave birth House meets for legislative business Senate meets during government shutdown Closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange Rain and snow from the Midwest to the Northeast: Radar Kittens play on 'Dorm Cam' in Los Angeles Penguins chill at the Kansas City Zoo in Missouri More Privacy Policy Your CA Privacy Rights Children's Online Privacy Policy Interest-Based Ads Terms of Use Contact Us Search Menu Interest Successfully Added We'll notify you here with news about AlertTag Turn on desktop notifications for breaking stories about interest? Off On Notifications Notifications For Interests:
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Log In Video Live Shows Good Morning America Good Morning America World News Tonight World News Tonight Nightline Nightline 20/20 20/20 This Week This Week The View The View What Would You Do? What Would You Do? U.S. Politics International Entertainment Lifestyle Health Virtual Reality Technology Sports Weather FiveThirtyEight Privacy Policy Privacy Policy Your CA Privacy Rights Your CA Privacy Rights Children's Online Privacy Policy Children's Online Privacy Policy Interest-Based Ads Interest-Based Ads Terms of Use Terms of Use Contact Us Contact Us Yahoo!-ABC News Network | (C) 2019 ABC News Internet Ventures. All rights reserved. WEEKDAYS 11e|10c|p The View Full Episodes The View Picks 01
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The "America's Got Talent: Champions" host discusses the revival of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and how toxic masculinity affects the Me Too movement.
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Harris shares her thoughts on the current government shutdown.
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Meghan McCain, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' star Joe Mazzello on their fathers' cancerIrwin family discusses Steve's legacy, introduces sloth and African dwarf crocodile Andrew Eccles/ABC
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'Star Wars' actress recounts hilarious memory of Carrie Fisher and her dogArmy Handout
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Former cheerleader suing school, elected officials over national anthem protests'The View' welcomes new co-host Abby HuntsmanCandice Elle Frank/ABC
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VIDEO - Mind Mastery Episode #17 - Hypersigils - YouTube
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 20:33
VIDEO - Paul "The Book Guy" Alves on Twitter: "@adamcurry #clip'... "
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 19:04
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VIDEO - Police Arrest Anthony 'Doo-Doo Butt' Ward For Road Rage-Style Shooting - YouTube
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 18:51
VIDEO - Mysterious Cuba 'attack' was crickets: study
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 14:46
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Doctors treating the victims of unexplained health attacks in Cuba have discovered abnormalities in the brain as they've searched for clues to how U.S. embassy workers developed such a vast array of symptoms, the Associated Press has learned. (Dec. 6) AP
VIDEO THUMBNAIL - crickets (Photo: Entomo Farms)
Beginning in late 2016, a mysterious illness befell U.S. diplomatic personnel and family members in Havana.
Specialists said the symptoms, described by those afflicted as ''buzzing, grinding metal, piercing squeals and humming,'' were similar to the brain dysfunction caused by concussions.
The U.S. government personnel in Cuba reported hearing these weird, loud sounds along with feelings of changes in air pressure in homes owned and maintained by the Cuban government and hotel rooms. Although there had been no history of head trauma, the symptoms reported were consistent with brain injury.
Some U.S. officials suspected the ''health attacks'' were intentional, perhaps perpetrated by the Cuban or Russian governments. But new research has implicated another culprit in the noise: Very loud crickets.
Scientists analyzed a recording of the sound reportedly related to the incidents released by The Associated Press in 2017 and found it matched the chirp of the Indies short-tailed cricket Anurogryllus celerinictus ''in duration, pulse repetition rate, power spectrum, pulse rate stability, and oscillations per pulse.''
Are crickets a 2019 food trend?:: Edible insect start-ups spark love for bugs
This particular kind of cricket is typically found in the Caymans, Florida Keys and Jamaica, but researchers Alexander L Stubbs of the University of California Berkeley, and Fernando Montealegre-Z of the University of Lincoln in England believe they may also be present in Cuba.
More: Attacked in bed, safe a few feet away: Cuba mystery deepens
More: Health problems of U.S. diplomats in Cuba still a mystery
The researchers noted that the pulse structure of the AP recording initially didn't match outdoor field recordings of the insects, but when the cricket call was played indoors, ''the interaction of reflected sound pulses yields a sound virtually indistinguishable from the AP sample.''
They said their research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, provides ''strong evidence'' that crickets produced the sound on the recording. However, their findings highlight the need for more rigorous research on what caused the diplomat's ailments and does not rule out the possibility of another form of attack, according to the report.
The State Department created an expert panel to investigate the incident in July 2017 that determined the initial findings were most likely related to "neurotrauma from a non-natural source." The department recommended further investigation.
In response to the incidents in Cuba, the State Department expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from the Washington embassy and initially reduced the number of workers in Havana. These sharp reductions would later be made permanent due to health concerns. The State Department officials have told Congress that 26 embassy workers in Cuba were affected by the mysterious health incidents since it was first discovered in December 2016.
A team of specialists from the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Brain Injury and Repair couldn't determine the cause of the mysterious illness but found that the Havana patients ''experienced persisting disability of a significant nature.''
The Cuban government insisted that it played no role in the attacks and worked with U.S. investigators to determine the cause of the ailments.
Contributing: Jessica Durando and Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY
Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/01/07/mysterious-cuba-attack-crickets-study/2509577002/
VIDEO - Castro Agrees With Ocasio-Cortez's Tax Increase on Wealthy: The Tax Plan is 'Worth It' - YouTube
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 10:30
VIDEO - The Sopranos~ The Women Discuss Hillary Clinton - YouTube
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 10:14
VIDEO - Kellyanne Conway embarrasses CNN's Jim Acosta during heated exchange: 'You're such a smarta--' | Fox News
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 09:56
Kellyanne Conway embarrasses CNN's Jim Acosta: 'You're such a smarta--'Kellyanne Conway embarrassed CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta during a press gaggle on Tuesday, referring to him as a 'smarta--' unliked by other reporters. Acosta questioned Conway about whether President Trump would tell the truth when addressing the nation Tuesday night, prompting the heated exchange.
Kellyanne Conway embarrassed CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta during a press gaggle on Tuesday, referring to him as a "smarta--" unliked by other reporters.
Acosta asked Conway if she could promise that President Trump would tell the truth when addressing the nation on Tuesday night.
"Yes, Jim," Conway shot back, "Can you promise that you will? The whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Am I allowed to mention 'God' to you?"
Acosta '' who has emerged as a household name for interruptions when Trump and members of his administration are made available to the press '' responded by telling Conway that he doesn't have an ''alternative facts'' problem like she does.
"Make sure that goes viral. This is why I'm one of the only people around here who gives you the time of day," Conway said. "You're such a smarta-- most of the time and I know you want this to go viral."
Conway then told Acosta that ''a lot of these people'' don't like him, while pointing to his peers.
''Don't you put it back in my face for all corrections your network needs to issue,'' she continued, mocking CNN. ''I was on your network 25 or 26 times in 2018. I'm one of the last people here who even bothered to go on, and the disrespect you show to me personally, I'll look past it.''
CNN STAR DON LEMON SAYS TRUMP ADDRESS SHOULD BE AIRED ON A DELAY
Acosta replied, ''Ma'am.''
''Don't call me ma'am,'' Conway responded.
Last year Acosta was briefly banned from the White House after he engaged in a contentious back-and-forth with Trump during a Nov. 7 press conference. During the now-infamous moment, Acosta refused to pass the microphone to a female White House aide.
Acosta's press pass was restored on Nov. 19 after CNN argued that keeping him out of the White House violated the network and Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights.
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To coincide with Acosta being allowed to return to the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders implemented a series of rules to govern White House press conferences going forward.
The CNN reporter has been praised by liberal comedians such as Jimmy Kimmel, and even appeared in the most recent season of the Netflix political drama ''House of Cards.''
VIDEO - VIDEO: Students hate Trump's immigration, border wall quotes, don't realize they're from Dems
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 09:54
This month, the federal government entered a partial shutdown after Congress was unable to reach a budget agreement, primarily on funding for President Donald Trump's proposed wall along the southern border.
The wall, a key talking point for Trump throughout the campaign, has been decried by leaders in the Democrat party as anti-American and immoral, among other things.
''I just really think it's hateful speech"
But their opposition to the wall and embrace of looser immigration laws seems to be a new development.
In recent years, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, President Barack Obama, and Secretary Hillary Clinton have all stated the danger in embracing illegal immigration and ignoring the laws we have on the books.
[RELATED: VIDEO: Even liberal college students don't want Speaker Nancy Pelosi]
Such quotes include:
''Illegal Immigration is wrong, plain and simple. Until the American people are convinced we will stop future flows of illegal immigration, we will make no progress.'' -Senator Chuck Schumer, 2009
''We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented and unchecked'' -Barack Obama, 2005
''I voted numerous times'... to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in. And I do think you have to control your borders.'' -Hillary Clinton, 2008
Wanting to know if opponents of Trump's border wall had opinions on these past quotes from Democrat leaders, Campus Reform's Cabot Phillips headed to American University.
But there's a catch'... the students were told the quotes actually came from President Trump.
Upon hearing the quotes, students said Trump's words were ''dehumanizing,'' ''problematic,'' and ''jingoist.''
''I just really think it's hateful speech,'' one student said, while another added, ''the way he's referring to people across the wall is dehumanizing.''
One student said the comments held racist undertones, claiming ''there are racial biases deeply embedded in there.''
But this was all before they knew these quotes were actually coming from political idols of theirs.
Watch the full video to see their reactions to being told Democrats actually the statements.
[RELATED: VIDEO: Students oppose Clarence Thomas building'... but don't know why]
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Cabot_Phillips
VIDEO - AOC on Maddow - YouTube
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 09:53
VIDEO - Monster fatberg found blocking Sidmouth sewer - BBC News
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 22:25
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption South West Water has urged people "not to feed the fatberg"A giant fatberg which is 210ft (64m) long has been found blocking a sewer in a seaside town.
The solid "monster", which is made up of fat, wet wipes and grease, was found near the sea in Sidmouth, Devon.
South West Water (SWW) said the fatberg was the biggest it had found and it would take about eight weeks to remove.
The firm's director of wastewater said he was thankful it was discovered "in good time" with "no risk" to the quality of sea bathing waters.
Andrew Roantree said the discovery showed fatbergs were not only found in the UK's biggest cities, "but right here in our coastal towns".
At 210ft, it is longer than the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, longer than a Boeing 747SP (185ft), and more than twice as long as a tennis court, (78ft).
SWW said the chances of people's loos backing up as a result were "very unlikely" because the fatberg, found in a large sewer near the seafront, was far from homes.
My fight against wet wipes Image copyright South West Water Image caption The fatberg in Sidmouth is the largest South West Water has ever discovered Wildlife photographer Jason Alexander, 47, found 561 wet wipes on the River Orwell near Ipswich.
He has been documenting his discoveries since last March.
He said: "I had been taking a series of sunrise photos on consecutive days and each time I had to remove rubbish. I once found 600 wet wipes.
"It made me set up @ukrubbishwalks to raise awareness of the problem."
Mr Alexander has also found cotton buds, tampon applicators and pregnancy test kits.
He wants to see homes fitted with waste pipe filters so that householders see first hand what is happening when they flush material like wet wipes.
"People are inherently lazy and want to get rid of stuff as conveniently as possible," he said.
"We have to keep reminding that when it comes to flushing down the loo, it is just not acceptable."
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption What causes fatbergs?Fatbergs form when people put things such as fat, wet wipes, sanitary towels, nappies and condoms, down sinks and toilets.
A 250m-long fatberg weighing 130 tonnes was famously found blocking a Victorian-era sewer in east London in 2017 and took nine weeks to remove.
A chunk of it subsequently went on show at the Museum of London and was hailed for increasing visitor numbers.
Sewer workers discovered the fatberg in Sidmouth in December but they will not find its exact size or weight until they start to remove it.
Work is due to start on 4 February.
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VIDEO - Self-driving cars rolled out at CES 2019 - YouTube
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 20:49
VIDEO - View Host Joy Behar Defends Rashida Tlaib's Vulgarities Towards Trump
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 14:22
Despite her vulgar outburst in which she called President Trump a ''motherf*cker'' which had even members of her own party distancing themselves from her, freshman sensation Rashida Tlaib is already a rock star with the unhinged celebrities who serve as the opinion leaders for The Resistance.
And who could possibly be more unhinged than Joy Behar, the Trump hating, anti-Christian bigot with a voice like a foghorn who presides over the snakepit of hate and ignorance that is ABC's ''The View'' that has poisoned the minds of millions?
Behar flew to Rep. Tlaib's defense because '' SURPRISE! '' she identifies with her.
Watch Behar in this video defend Tlaib'...
Via The Hill, ''Joy Behar defends freshman Dem's impeachment remarks: 'I identify with her''':
ABC's Joy Behar is defending a freshman Democratic lawmaker who attacked President Trump by saying she would ''impeach the motherf'--er.''
''I identify with her because I'm capable of saying something like that off the top of my head at a rally,'' Behar said on ''The View'' about Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
The comments by Behar, a staunch critic of the president, came after a viral video of Tlaib making the provocative comments at a MoveOn.org event Thursday night, hours after she was sworn in to Congress.
''People love you and you win,'' Tlaib said in the video in which she does not name the president specifically. ''And when your son looks at you and says 'Momma, look, you won. Bullies don't win.' And I said, 'baby, they don't.' ''
''Because we're going to go in there and impeach the motherf'--er,'' Tlaib added as the crowd erupted in cheers.
You can read more from our friends at ILoveMyFreedom.org
Matt Couch is the founder of America First Investigations and the CEO of the D.C. Chronicle News Group. Follow Matt on Twitter @RealMattCouch
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VIDEO - Justice Democrats on Twitter: ""A lot of the people at the top of the Democratic Party who are wealthier, whiter, & more male than the bottom of the party grew up at a time of Nixon and Reagan and have been made to be afraid of strong Democratic P
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 14:16
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VIDEO - Harrison Bergeron 1995 - YouTube
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 13:47
VIDEO - 2081 TheMovie For English Pupils And Full Text from the original story - YouTube
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 13:12
VIDEO - Anna Soubry urges police action after 'Nazi taunts' outside Parliament - BBC News
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 12:59
Video caption Brexit protesters chant 'Nazi and scum' at Conservative MP Anna Soubry MP Anna Soubry has criticised police for not intervening after she was verbally abused outside Parliament.
The Conservative ex-minister was accused "of being a Nazi", while being interviewed on the BBC News channel.
She called for the protesters to be prosecuted under public order laws.
The police said they were assessing if any crimes had been committed while Commons Speaker John Bercow said he was worried about a "pattern" of women MPs and journalists being targeted.
Raising the issue in the House of Commons, Labour's Mary Creagh said the "really vile, misogynistic thuggery" that had been seen was not an isolated incident.
She accused far-right groups of re-playing Monday's clip and others like it on social media sites to "raise revenue for their trolling activities".
Ms Soubry, the pro-European MP for Broxtowe who supports another Brexit referendum, was subjected to verbal abuse while being interviewed by the BBC's Simon McCoy.
PM 'working to get more EU assurances'Protesters standing just a few yards from the entrance to Parliament accused her of being a liar and then chanted: "Anna Soubry is a Nazi."
She was later shouted at and jostled as she tried to re-enter the Palace of Westminster.
Reacting during the live interview, she told McCoy she "objected to being called a Nazi", adding that such language was "astonishing - and this is what has happened to our country".
Video caption Anna Soubry: "This is astonishing. This is what has happened to our country." She said she would not be silenced nor intimidated but it was wrong that MPs and others doing their job in such a public space should "have to accept this as part of the democratic process".
After the incident, she told BBC News the police needed to "do their job" and would contact them about the matter.
The Metropolitan Police said they were investigating reports of a public order offence but no arrests had been made.
The MP has already been in touch with the parliamentary authorities responsible for security. A number of MPs raised the matter with Mr Bercow at the end of a statement on the government's Brexit policy.
Labour's Stephen Doughty called for "proper action" to be taken by the Metropolitan Police against those responsible for what he said were "potentially unlawful actions".
'Total safety'And Conservative MP Nick Boles urged Mr Bercow to ensure everything possible was done to not only protect the right to freedom of speech but the right of MPs to move freely in and around Parliament in "total safety".
Mr Bercow said he was aware of protests in recent weeks around the Palace of Westminster "involving aggressive and threatening behaviour towards members by assorted groups that have donned the yellow vests seen in France" - a reference to last year's "gilet jaune" anti-government demonstrations.
While the Met had responsibility for security outside the parliamentary estate, he said, he was keeping a "close eye" on the issue amid concerns that women, in particular, were being targeted.
"I share 100% the concerns expressed and it's necessary to state very publicly the difference between peaceful protest on one hand and the aggressive, intimidatory and threatening protest on the other."
Ms Creagh said there was a "strong streak of misogyny" in the wave of Brexit-related abuse directed against MPs.
"We in this place remember our friend Jo Cox, who was murdered by a far-right neo-Nazi," she said.
"We remember that people have gone to prison for plotting to murder another Labour MP and many people have been jailed for the abuse of other colleagues."
No 10 said the incident was "unacceptable" and MPs "should be free to do their jobs without any form of intimidation". A Downing Street spokesman said there were laws dealing with public order offences and cases of harassment and threatening behaviour.
MPs from different parties and different sides of the Brexit debate reacted on Twitter:
The BBC and other broadcasters have set up temporary studios on College Green, a traditional spot for political interviews, ahead of the big Commons vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal on 15 January.
The BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith said some MPs had expressed unease privately about being interviewed there given the frequency and vehemence of the protests.
VIDEO - The Vaccination Debate | Full Measure
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 05:51
Today we investigate one of the biggest medical controversies of our time: vaccines. There's little dispute about this much-- vaccines save many lives, and rarely, they injure or kill. A special federal vaccine court has paid out billions for injuries from brain damage to death. But not for the form of brain injury we call autism. Now'--we have remarkable new information: a respected pro-vaccine medical expert used by the federal government to debunk the vaccine-autism link, says vaccines can cause autism after all. He claims he told that to government officials long ago, but they kept it secret.
Yates Hazlehurst was born February 11, 2000. Everything was normal, according to his medical records, until he suffered a severe reaction to vaccinations. Rolf Hazlehurst is Yates' dad.
Rolf Hazlehurst: And at first, I didn't believe it. I did not think that, I did not believe that vaccines could cause autism. I didn't believe it.
But there's a hard reality for Yates. The trademark brain disease, pain and inability to communicate that's common with severe autism.
In 2007, Yates' father sued over his son's injuries in the little known Federal Vaccine court. It was one of more than 5000 vaccine autism claims.
Congress created vaccine court in 1988, in consultation with the pharmaceutical industry. In the special court, vaccine makers don't defend their products'--the federal government does it for them, using lawyers from the Justice Department. Money for victims comes from us, not the pharmaceutical industry, through patient fees added onto every vaccine given.
Denise Vowell: Our hearings are all closed to the public. And that's statutory.
In 2007, Yates' case and nearly all the other vaccine autism claims lost. The decision was based largely on the expert opinion of this man, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a world-renowned pediatric neurologist shown here at a lecture.
Dr. Zimmerman was the government's top expert witness and had testified that vaccines didn't cause autism. The debate was declared over.
But now Dr. Zimmerman has provided remarkable new information. He claims that during the vaccine hearings all those years ago, he privately told government lawyers that vaccines can, and did cause autism in some children. That turnabout from the government's own chief medical expert stood to change everything about the vaccine-autism debate. If the public were to find out.
Hazlehurst: And he has come forward and explained how he told the United States government vaccines can cause autism in a certain subset of children and United States government, the Department of Justice suppressed his true opinions.
Hazlehurst discovered that later when Dr. Zimmerman evaluated Yates as a teenager. That's when he partnered with vaccine safety advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Junior'--who has a voice condition.
Kennedy: This was one of the most consequential frauds, arguably in human history.
Kennedy was instrumental in convincing Dr. Zimmerman to document his remarkable claim of the government covering up his true expert opinion on vaccines and autism.
Dr. Zimmerman declined our interview request and referred us to his sworn affidavit. It says: On June 15, 2007, he took aside the Department of Justice'--or DOJ lawyers he worked for defending vaccines in vaccine court. He told them that he'd discovered ''exceptions in which vaccinations could cause autism.'' ''I explained that in a subset of children, vaccine induced fever and immune stimulation did cause regressive brain disease with features of autism spectrum disorder.''
Kennedy: This panicked the two DOJ attorneys and they immediately fired Zimmerman. That was on a Friday and over the weekend they called Zimmerman and said his services would no longer be needed. They wanted to silence him.
Days after the Department of Justice lawyers fired Dr. Zimmerman as their expert witness, he alleges, they went on to misrepresent his opinion to continue to debunk autism claims. Records show that on June 18, 2007, a DOJ attorney Dr. Zimmerman spoke to told vaccine court, ''We know [Dr. Zimmerman's] views on the issue...There is no scientific basis for a connection'' between vaccines and autism. Dr. Zimmerman now calls that ''highly misleading.''
The former DOJ lawyer didn't return our calls and emails. Kennedy has filed a fraud complaint with the Justice Department Inspector General, who told us they don't ''comment on investigations or potential investigations.''
Meantime, CDC'--which promotes vaccines and monitors vaccine safety-- never disclosed that the government's own one-time medical expert concluded vaccines can cause autism - and to this day public health officials deny that's the case.
Dr. Anne Schuchat: ''Based on dozens of studies and everything I know as a physician and a scientist, there's no link between autism and vaccines.''
CDC declined our interview request. In addition to filing a fraud complaint, Kennedy has delivered Dr. Zimmerman's affidavit to leaders on Capitol Hill. But there he claims, is another key part of this story: roadblocks set up by the pharmaceutical industry'--or PhRMA.
Kennedy: But everybody takes money from PhRMA so they've all been corrupted. And it's almost impossible to get anything done on Capitol Hill.
Kennedy, a Democrat, isn't the only one claiming vaccine industry money rules the day. We spoke to 11 current and former members of Congress and staff who claim they faced pressure, bullying or threats when they raised vaccine safety questions. Several of them agreed to appear on camera.
Burton: There's no question in my mind whatsoever that the pharmaceutical industry had a great influence with people over at the CDC and FDA. There's no question in my mind.
Republican Dan Burton'--former Chairman of the House Oversight Committee'--has an autistic grandson.
Burton: I am not against vaccinations.
He pursued vaccine investigations in the early 2000s. Beth Clay was one of his staffers.
Clay: There was a lot of pressure from people on the Hill.
When you say people on the hill were exerting pressure, what kind of people? Colleagues?
Clay: Colleagues, there were pharmaceutical lobbyists. The pharmaceutical lobbyists had, you know, they are the same people that have been entrenched. They can walk into any office in Capitol Hill, and they'll talk to staff, they'll talk to members and they'll encourage them to discourage, our investigation.
Sharyl: At the risk of stating the obvious why did they have that kind of access to members?
Clay: It's money. And if you look at the donations over the last 20 years, the pharmaceutical industry, and Republican and Democrat, they're nonpartisan. They put money everywhere.
Former Congressman, Dr. Dave Weldon, a Republican, says he got the message loud and clear.
Sharyl: If you would want to hold a hearing on an issue like vaccines and autism, your own leadership might fight you on that because of the financial influence, the pharmaceutical industry
Dave Weldon: They wouldn't fight you. They'd kill it. It's dead. They don't even want to discuss it. It's dead on arrival. If you, if