1103: Act IX

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 44m
January 13th, 2019
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Executive Producers: Baron Sir Mark Milliman, Sir Russ of Hellgate, Robert Johnston, Sir Jonathan Dennison

Associate Executive Producers: Ryan Morcom, Sir Colin

Cover Artist: MartinJJ


Start of Show
Trump Lashed Out to Retired Admiral McRaven
Trump Discusses Fake News in Chris Wallace Interview
NewsGaurd Browser Plugin
Do Social Media Bots Have a Right To Free Speech? on Slashdot
New Law in India Mandates Social Media Platforms to Remove Unlawful Content
Families of Sandy Hook Shooting Victims Win Legal Victory Against Alex Jones
CNN Declines Border Wall Story From KUSI TV
US Representative Jayapal: "Trump's Ultimate Goal is to Make America Pure"
Freezing Prisons
Trump vs. Obama on Illegal Immigration Comparison
Trump Stopped Doing the Weekly Address
Producer Note: Ocasio-Cortez & New York
2020 Elections
The Democratic Republic of the Congo Elections
Suspected Ebola Case in Sweden
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Bernie Sanders Apologizes for Sexual Harrassment by Campaign Staffers
The New York Times: FBI Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia
US Government Shutdown
US Representative Steve King Under Attack for Defending White Supremacy
NewsGaurd Browser Plugin
LGBTQIA Resource Center: Words That Hurt
FICO Score Can Now Be Boosted by Sharing Personal Information
Birthdays & Title Changes
Act 9 of the Yellow Vests Protests
Julia Reda: Article 13 is Almost Finished
Ojo Electric Enters Austin's Electric Scooter Market
Lime Halts Scooter Service in Switzerland After Possible Software Glitch Throws Users Off Mid-Ride
Venezuale President Maduro Accuses US of a Imperialist World War During Inauguration Speech
Scientists Say Sonic Attack on US Embassy in Havana Could be Crickets
Earth's Magnetic Pole is Moving Toward Siberia
BBC: Will Insect-Eating Dogs Help Against Climate Change?
New Research Finds Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought
William Arkin on National Security
End of Show
Suggest a new chapter
Ministry of Truthiness
'Deepfakes' in action: Seattle TV station accused of doctoring Trump speech video '-- RT USA News
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 11:36
As the nation tuned in to President Trump's national address on border security, one Seattle TV station apparently manipulated its coverage on the fly, editing the footage to show Trump sticking out his tongue at viewers.
In a side-by-side comparison, Q13 Fox in Seattle appears to have edited its coverage of Trump's address, turning the president's skin color a ludicrous shade of orange. In between sentences, the station seems to have doctored the footage to show Trump sticking out his tongue and licking his lips.
Q13 told MyNorthWest that the footage was indeed doctored, and that the culprit has been placed on leave.
''We are investigating this to determine what happened,'' said Q13's news director. ''This does not meet our editorial standards and we regret if it is seen as portraying the President in a negative light. The editor responsible for editing the footage is being placed on leave while we investigate further.''
Faking video footage has become easy in recent years, thanks to the widespread availability of video editing software. A combative press conference debate between CNN anchor Jim Acosta and President Trump in November put the issue in the spotlight, after internet detectives accused Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson of editing video footage of Acosta pushing a White House intern to make the anchor look bad. The 'edited' video was shared by the White House, Watson denied the accusation, and eventually the debate was forgotten about.
This is huge.Seattle news station caught doctoring video of Trump to make him look ridiculous sticking his tongue out.
The media rinsed me for "doctoring" the Acosta video, which didn't happen.
Zero mainstream media coverage of THIS story.https://t.co/dyArWLfQkJ
'-- Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) January 10, 2019Deepfakes could change porn and politicsSlowing down video footage is one thing, but so-called 'deepfake' videos '' real and fake footage spliced together with the help of artificial intelligence '' are becoming increasingly harder to spot and can be put to a limitless array of malicious uses.
Deepfake technology has been used by the porn industry to superimpose celebrity faces onto porn actors' bodies. One company, Naughty America, is launching a service to allow users to place their own likenesses '' or those of their friends '' onto performers' bodies.
Also on rt.com Face swap porn: Naughty America to superimpose viewers heads onto actors' bodies In political circles, concern has been raised that 'deepfakes' can be used to doctor footage of politicians and leaders, making them appear to do or say just about anything. As Russian hysteria gripped the nation following the 2016 election, news outlets and commentators repeatedly warned that 'Russian trolls' were planning on using deepfake videos to disrupt the 2018 midterm elections.
The predictions never came to pass. However, as the footage from Seattle this week shows, AI-enhanced meddling is a legitimate concern, and is being put to use at home in the US.
Subscribe to RT newsletter to get stories the mainstream media won't tell you.
AT&T says it'll stop selling location data amid calls for federal investigation
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 13:00
AT&T said Thursday that it will stop selling its customers' location data to third-party service providers after a report this week said the information was winding up in the wrong hands.
The announcement follows sharp demands by federal lawmakers for an investigation into the alleged misuse of data, which came to light when Motherboard revealed a complex chain of unauthorized information sharing that ended with a bounty hunter successfully tracking down a reporter's device.
AT&T had already suspended its data-sharing agreements with a number of so-called "location aggregators" last year in light of a congressional probe finding that some of Verizon's location data was being misused by prison officials to spy on innocent Americans. AT&T also said at the time that it would be maintaining those of its agreements that provided clear consumer benefits, such as location sharing for roadside assistance services.
But AT&T's announcement Thursday goes much further, pledging to terminate all of the remaining deals it had - even the ones that it said were actively helpful.
"In light of recent reports about the misuse of location services, we have decided to eliminate all location aggregation services - even those with clear consumer benefits," AT&T said in a statement. "We are immediately eliminating the remaining services and will be done in March."
In characteristic fashion, T-Mobile CEO John Legere tweeted Tuesday that his firm would be "completely ending location aggregator work" in March. Verizon said in a statement Thursday that it, too, was winding down its four remaining location-sharing agreements, which are all with roadside assistance services - after that, customers would have to give the company permission to share their data with roadside assistance firms. A Sprint spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The announcements reflect a major victory for privacy advocates who have slammed corporate America over its handling of consumers' personal information, often to their personal and economic expense.
''Carriers are always responsible for who ends up with their customers' data - it's not enough to lay the blame for misuse on downstream companies,'' said Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) in a statement. ''The time for taking these companies at their word is long past. Congress needs to pass strong legislation to protect Americans' privacy and finally hold corporations accountable when they put your safety at risk by letting stalkers and criminals track your phone on the dark web.''
Other critics said Americans have an "absolute right" to their privacy of their data.
''I'm extraordinarily troubled by reports of this system of repackaging and reselling location data to unregulated third-party services for potentially nefarious purposes,'' Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) said in a statement after the Motherboard report was published. ''If true, this practice represents a legitimate threat to our personal and national security.''
Harris called on the Federal Communications Commission to immediately open an investigation.
Motherboard reported that major U.S. wireless carriers T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint have been selling the location data of their customers in an unregulated market in which Americans' personal information travels through several layers of third-party entities that buy the location data but are not authorized to handle such information.
After the report was released, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said on Twitter, "The @fcc needs to investigate. Stat." In a subsequent post in which she agreed with Harris and others calling for an investigation, Rosenworcel added: "It shouldn't be that you pay a few hundred dollars to a bounty hunter and then they can tell you in real time where a phone is within a few hundred meters. That's not right. This entire ecosystem needs oversight."
The FCC did not immediately respond to requests for comment; the agency's operations are limited because of the ongoing government shutdown.
The sharing of the phone location data at the center of the report began at T-Mobile, which shared it with a "location aggregator," who shared it with a phone location service, which shared it with a bounty hunter, who shared it with a source, who ultimately sent the phone's location to Motherboard, according to the report.
As Motherboard reported, there are legitimate uses for the sharing of location data, including detecting financial fraud or locating motorists who need roadside assistance. But according to the report, in some cases the sensitive information was resold without authorization for purposes that violated data-sharing policies and without the knowledge of the phone company and its third-party partners.
Wyden has called on the FCC to investigate the relationship between wireless carriers and data brokers. He sees the new report as another urgent motivation for government action, including an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. "Major carriers pledged to end these practices, but it appears to have been more empty promises to consumers," Wyden said on Twitter. He said Congress should advance his legislation that would grant the FTC greater authority to safeguard consumer data and fine companies for privacy and security violations.
Sprint said in a statement: "Protecting our customers' privacy and security is a top priority, and we are transparent about that in our Privacy Policy. We do not knowingly share personally identifiable geolocation information except with customer consent or in response to a lawful request such as a validated court order from law enforcement."
Responding to the report, AT&T said in a statement: "We only permit sharing of location when a customer gives permission for cases like fraud prevention or emergency roadside assistance, or when required by law. Over the past few months, as we committed to do, we have been shutting down everything else."
Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.), who has criticized the privacy practices of Facebook and other companies that collect massive quantities of user data, said the report highlights how customers and policymakers ''have been kept in the dark'' about the ways personal information is gathered, repackaged and sold.
''Responsible federal agencies and the U.S. Congress should continue to hold hearings to shine a light on these practices, and look at regulations to ensure companies are actually upfront with consumers about whether and how their sensitive data is being used and sold,'' Warner said in a statement.
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The Purge
Do Social Media Bots Have a Right To Free Speech? - Slashdot
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 17:48
Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!
binspamdupenotthebestofftopicslownewsdaystalestupidfreshfunnyinsightfulinterestingmaybedescriptive 105679602 story Do Social Media Bots Have a Right To Free Speech? (thebulletin.org) Postedby EditorDavidon Saturday January 12, 2019 @12:34PM from the tweet-land-of-liberty dept.
One study found that 66% of tweets with links
were posted by "suspected bots" -- with an even higher percentage for certain kinds of content. Now a new California law will
require bots to disclose that they are bots.
But does that violate the bots' freedom of speech, asks Laurent Sacharoff, a law professor at the University of Arkansas."Even though bots are abstract entities, we might think of them as having free speech rights to the extent that they are promoting or promulgating useful information for the rest of us," Sacharoff says. "That's one theory of why a bot would have a First Amendment free speech right, almost independent of its creators." Alternatively, the bots could just be viewed as direct extensions of their human creators. In either case -- whether because of an independent right to free speech or because of a human creator's right -- Sacharoff says, "you can get to one or another nature of bots having some kind of free speech right."In previous Bulletin coverage, the author of the new California law dismisses the idea that the law violates free speech rights. State Sen. Robert Hertzberg says anonymous marketing and electioneering bots are committing fraud. "My point is, you can say whatever the heck you want," Hertzberg says. "I don't want to control one bit of the content of what's being said. Zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero. All I want is for the person who has to hear the content to know it comes from a computer. To me, that's a fraud element versus a free speech element."
Sacharoff believes that the issue of bots and their potential First Amendment rights may one day have its day in court. Campaigns, he says, will find that bots are helpful and that their "usefulness derives from the fact that they don't have to disclose that they're bots. If some account is retweeting something, if they have to say, 'I'm a bot' every time, then it's less effective. So sure I can see some campaign seeking a declaratory judgment that the law is invalid," he says. "Ditto, I guess, [for] selling stuff on the commercial side."
Digital circuits are made from analog parts.-- Don Vonada
Social Media Might Ban the Pakistani Map at India's Behest - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Centre for Research on Globalization
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 18:56
An alarming piece of legislation is about to enter into force in India next month mandating that social media platforms such as Facebook remove ''unlawful content'' such as posts that affect the ''sovereignty and integrity of India'', meaning that this law could easily be abused by New Delhi to demand that the internationally recognized Pakistani map be banned because it contradicts India's maximalist claims to Kashmir.
The Information-Communication Technology (ICT) Revolution of the past few decades has resulted in social media becoming a regular part of most people's daily lives, with billions of people checking their accounts daily (sometimes across several platforms) and coming into contact with an unquantifiable amount of information from countless sources. One of the unintended consequences of this development is that social media has been exploited by various forces in order to further agendas that might be illegal in certain countries, such as spreading terrorist propaganda or fake news hoaxes. It therefore makes sense that states would want to legislate the activities that occur on these transnational foreign-based platforms in lieu of restricting their citizens' access to the sites on which so much of their social lives have become dependent.
Banning The Map
There's nothing wrong with that in principle so long as internationally agreed-upon norms are used as the basis by which governments decree that Facebook and other social media platforms should censor certain content, but the controversy arises when countries demand that these companies enforce legislation that infringes on the freedom of speech of other people elsewhere. India, the self-proclaimed ''world's largest democracy'', is about to implement a law next month mandating that ''unlawful'' content be scrubbed from social media, which as Reuters reports also includes materials that affect the ''sovereignty and integrity'' of the country. While this might be a seemingly legitimate concern for any country, it can actually be abused by India to pressure Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and others to ban the internationally recognized Pakistani map.
Source: Lonely Planet
The reasoning behind this fear is that India's maximalist claims to Kashmir have led to New Delhi refusing to recognize that the Pakistani region of Gilgit-Baltistan is under Islamabad's writ, ergo why India's official map includes this territory as part of that country and not its neighbor's despite New Delhi exercising no sway whatsoever over it or its people. India, however, is on track to become the world's most populous country sometime in the next decade and is accordingly one of the most sought-after markets for any social media company, which is why they might bend to New Delhi's will and consider removing content from their platforms that the country deems to be ''illegal'', such as the internationally recognized map of Pakistan.
The Catch-22
Nevertheless, most of the world's social media giants are based in the US, so this implies that Americans (including those of Pakistani descent who share the internationally recognized map of their homeland) would have the responsible expression of their freedom of speech curtailed on behalf of a foreign government for politically subjective reasons that differ from their own government's official position on this issue, a scenario that's bound to send shockwaves through the country and become a political controversy sooner than later. The larger question being raised is the extent to which national governments can compel foreign internet companies to censor content shared by users outside of the state in question for reasons that don't objectively constitute ''national security'' concerns.
Furthermore, it can't be overlooked that very populous states such as India (which are prized by these companies for their enormous market potential) have a disproportionate advantage in this sense than their smaller- and medium-sized counterparts because they could restrict their citizens from accessing these platforms in response to those companies refusing to abide by their national legislation mandating the censorship of certain content such as the internationally recognized Pakistani map in the event that those laws are abused for political purposes. Pure financial motivations might therefore lead to social media companies ''compromising'' on their ''values'' but inadvertently violating the legislation of the country in which they're based, thus creating a classic Catch-22 situation.
Brainstorming A Solution
It's difficult to figure out what the perfect solution could be to this dilemma because it's unrealistic for social media companies to censor materials based on the country of origin and not through any universal standards because Indian users could just go to Pakistani pages in order to view the ''banned content'', though declining to comply with New Delhi's demands could lead to serious financial consequences for the company. For all intents and purposes, Facebook and other companies' responses to the possible abuse of India's forthcoming legislation will therefore set a precedent when it comes to other governments' partnerships with these platforms for notional ''security'' reasons because this very concept itself could be subjectively interpreted to infringe on the legitimate rights of users abroad to responsibly express themselves.
Instead of passively reacting to the possible censorship of their internationally recognized map from social media because of Indian pressure, it might be prudent for Pakistanis to begin raising the issue of freedom of speech on these platforms in as many high-level public fora as possible, potentially even going as far as doing so in an official capacity. Facebook and other companies should make formal statements about whether they'd remove the Pakistani map from their sites if India deemed it an ''illegal'' violation of its ''sovereignty and integrity'' following the imposition of its national legislation next month which could be abused for this purpose. In addition, it should be asked whether they'd do the same when it comes to images representing the Kashmiri cause.
Concluding Thoughts
By becoming the unexpected champion of responsibly expressed free speech on social media, Pakistan and its people would also be showing the world just how vibrant their democracy really is. It would powerfully contradict the Western world's weaponized misperception of their country as a ''third-world religious dictatorship'' and prove that it's actually a freely developing society in which tens of millions of people are actively engaged in social media and concerned about transnational internet companies censoring their national map and images coming from the Indian side of the UN-recognized Kashmir Conflict. There's no doubt that states have the right to ask Facebook and others to remove universally acknowledged terrorist content, but they shouldn't abuse this to censor ''politically inconvenient'' content like India might be poised to do.
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This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.
Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China's One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Families of Sandy Hook shooting victims win legal victory against InfoWars, Alex Jones - ABC News
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 05:06
Six families of victims killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School won a legal victory Friday in their fight against controversial radio and internet personality Alex Jones.
Interested in Sandy Hook? Add Sandy Hook as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Sandy Hook news, video, and analysis from ABC News.A judge in Connecticut has granted the families' discovery requests, allowing them access to, among other things, Infowars' internal marketing and financial documents.
The judge has scheduled a hearing next week to decide whether to allow the plaintiffs' attorneys to depose Jones.
The plaintiffs include the parents of five children who went to the school as well as family members of first-grade teacher Victoria Leigh Soto and Principal Dawn Hochsprung, according to a statement from the plaintiff's attorneys.
According to the statement, the plaintiffs allege a "years-long campaign of abusive and outrageous false statements in which Jones and the other defendants have developed, amplified and perpetuated claims that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged and that the 26 families who lost loved ones that day are paid actors who faked their relative's deaths."
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images Police stand guard at the entrance after a mass shooting at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 15, 2012.It goes on to say that "Jones' actions subjected the families and survivors of the Sandy Hook shooting to physical confrontations and harassment, death threats and personal attacks on social media."
"From the beginning, we have alleged that Alex Jones and his financial network trafficked in lies and hate in order to profit from the grief of Sandy Hook families. That is what we intend to prove, and today's ruling advances that effort," Chris Mattei, one of the attorneys representing the families, said in the statement. "We look forward to gaining access to Infowars' internal marketing and financial documents to show that Jones has built an empire as nothing more than a conspiracy profiteer, as alleged in our complaint."
Jones has sought to dismiss the lawsuit.
"Plaintiffs suffered a horrible tragedy," his defense attorney, Jay M. Wolman, wrote in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. "Alex Jones and Infowars are not responsible for this tragedy. To punish them for First Amendment protected speech on this matter of public concern will not bring back the lives lost."
Wolman did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.
The judge's ruling on discovery gives the plaintiffs access to any communication Jones had about the Newtown massacre and to documents that could point to the inner workings of Infowars.
SLIDESHOW: Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Connecticut judge rules for Sandy Hook families, allows review of financials for InfoWars publisher Alex Jones
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 06:20
(C) Abaca Press / Sipa USA via AP Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must grant the families of seven victims killed in the school massacre full access to his web site's marketing and financial documents.
The Friday morning ruling by Connecticut State Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis was quickly hailed by the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Jones, who has asserted in the past that the execution of 26 students and faculty members was a scam.
''From the beginning, we have alleged that Alex Jones and his financial network trafficked in lies and hate in order to profit from the grief of the Sandy Hook families,'' said attorney Chris Mattei, representing the seven plaintiff families who sued Jones.
The parents of five slain children, along with relatives of two murdered staff members, brought the lawsuit against the rabble-rousing InfoWars web site. An FBI agent who responded to the heartbreaking Dec. 14, 2012, mass shooting scene at the Sandy Hook Elementary School is also a plaintiff.
Jones suggested on more than one occasion that the mass shooting inside an elementary school was a hoax.
''I've watched a lot of soap operas,'' Jones once said of the gruesome killings by a deranged local youth. ''And I've seen actors before. And I know when I'm watching a movie and when I'm watching something real.''
Bellis granted lawyers for the families access to Jones' InfoWars web site to examine its internal marketing and financial documents.
''We look forward to gaining access to InfoWars' internal marketing and financial documents to show that Jones has built an empire as nothing more than a conspiracy profiteer,'' said Mattei.
There was no immediate response from Jones' attorney to the ruling.
People older than 65 share the most fake news, a new study finds - The Verge
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 16:08
Older Americans are disproportionately more likely to share fake news on Facebook, according to a new analysis by researchers at New York and Princeton Universities. Older users shared more fake news than younger ones regardless of education, sex, race, income, or how many links they shared. In fact, age predicted their behavior better than any other characteristic '-- including party affiliation.
The role of fake news in influencing voter behavior has been debated continuously since Donald Trump's surprising victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. At least one study has found that pro-Trump fake news likely persuaded some people to vote for him over Clinton, influencing the election's outcome. Another study found that relatively few people clicked on fake news links '-- but that their headlines likely traveled much further via the News Feed, making it difficult to quantify their true reach. The finding that older people are more likely to share fake news could help social media users and platforms design more effective interventions to stop them from being misled.
Today's study, published in Science Advances, examined user behavior in the months before and after the 2016 US presidential election. In early 2016, the academics started working with research firm YouGov to assemble a panel of 3,500 people, which included both Facebook users and non-users. On November 16th, just after the election, they asked Facebook users on the panel to install an application that allowed them to share data including public profile fields, religious and political views, posts to their own timelines, and the pages that they followed. Users could opt in or out of sharing individual categories of data, and researchers did not have access to the News Feeds or data about their friends.
About 49 percent of study participants who used Facebook agreed to share their profile data. Researchers then checked links posted to their timelines against a list of web domains that have historically shared fake news, as compiled by BuzzFeed reporter Craig Silverman. Later, they checked the links against four other lists of fake news stories and domains to see whether the results would be consistent.
Only 8.5 percent of users in the study shared at least one link from a fake news site
Across all age categories, sharing fake news was a relatively rare category. Only 8.5 percent of users in the study shared at least one link from a fake news site. Users who identified as conservative were more likely than users who identified as liberal to share fake news: 18 percent of Republicans shared links to fake news sites, compared to less than 4 percent of Democrats. The researchers attributed this finding largely to studies showing that in 2016, fake news overwhelmingly served to promote Trump's candidacy.
But older users skewed the findings: 11 percent of users older than 65 shared a hoax, while just 3 percent of users 18 to 29 did. Facebook users ages 65 and older shared more than twice as many fake news articles than the next-oldest age group of 45 to 65, and nearly seven times as many fake news articles as the youngest age group (18 to 29).
''When we bring up the age finding, a lot of people say, 'oh yeah, that's obvious,''' co-author Andrew Guess, a political scientist at Princeton University, told The Verge. ''For me, what is pretty striking is that the relationship holds even when you control for party affiliation or ideology. The fact that it's independent of these other traits is pretty surprising to me. It's not just being driven by older people being more conservative.''
The study did not draw a conclusion about why older users are more likely to share hoaxes, though the researchers point to two possible theories. The first is that older people, who came to the internet later, lack the digital literacy skills of their younger counterparts. The second is that people experience cognitive decline as they age, making them likelier to fall for hoaxes.
18 percent of Republicans shared links to fake news sites, compared to less than 4 percent of Democrats
Regardless of age, the digital literacy gap has previously been blamed on users' willingness to share hoaxes. Last year, WhatsApp began developing a program to promote digital literacy in India '-- where many of its 200 million users are relatively new to the internet '-- after a series of murders that may have been prompted by viral forwarding in the app. That program is aimed at users of all ages.
At the same time, elderly Americans are prone to falling for so many scams that the Federal Bureau of Investigations has a page devoted to them. It seems likely that a multi-pronged approach to reducing the spread of fake news will be more effective than trying to solve for only one variable.
Guess and his colleagues hope to test both hypotheses in the future. It won't be easy: how to determine whether a person is digitally literate remains an open question. But at least some of the issue is likely to come down to design: fake news spreads quickly on Facebook in part because news articles generally look identical in the News Feed, whether they are posted by The New York Times or a clickbait farm.
Future research could decipher what people see in the News Feed, and whether there is a relationship between seeing fake news stories and sharing them. They speculate that users may be more likely to share fake stories if they were previously shared by a trusted friend.
Matthew Gentzkow, who has researched the efforts of Facebook's efforts to slow the spread of fake news, said the new study's findings about age could help tech platforms design more effective tools. (He was not involved in the NYU-Princeton study.)
''The age result in this paper points very directly toward at least narrowing down the set of solutions that are likely to be most effective,'' said Gentzkow, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. ''If the problem is concentrated in a relatively small set of people, then thinking about the interventions that would be most effective for those people is going to take us a lot farther.''
Microsoft is privately testing 'Bali,' a way to give users control of data collected about them | ZDNet
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 17:21
Microsoft is working on a project codenamed "Bali," which is designed to give users control of data collected about them. The project is a Microsoft Research incubation effort and seems to be in private testing at this stage.
I learned of the existence of Bali in a tweet from "Longhorn," which I saw via another Twitter user, "Walking Cat." Longhorn described Bali as "a project that can delete all your connection and account information (inverseprivacyproject)."
I found a link to the Bali project page
. That page allows those with a code to sign into the site and says those without a code can request one.
The "About" page for Bali describes it as a "new personal data bank which puts users in control of all data collected about them.... The bank will enable users to store all data (raw and inferred) generated by them. It will allow the user to visualize, manage, control, share and monetize the data."
Credit: Microsoft According to the About page, Bali is based on the concept of "Inverse Privacy," the subject of a paper authored in 2014 by Yuri Gurevich, Efim Hudis and Jeannette Wing, who all worked for Microsoft Research at that time. An item of personal information is inversely private if some party has access to it, but the creator/user of it does not. Health providers, police, toll-road operators, grocery chains and employers all create inversely private data, which, in many cases, users could benefit from owning, the authors noted.The Bali About page says that the Bali project is in "initial stage," meaning the developers are focused on helping users aggregate personal data from various websites and have an ability to view the data."
While not every Microsoft Research project turns into a commercialized product or service in some way, these days many do. So I'd think Bali has a good chance of becoming a commercially available entity at some point. With other tech vendors like Facebook in the news as of late for data-privacy-related problems, Microsoft would benefit from releasing something that championed users' control over their own data.
Microsoft officials touted users' control of their own data as a central tenet of the Open Data Initiative which Microsoft, Adobe and SAP announced last Fall. Microsoft has provided nearly no details about how this data-ownership model would work.
I've contacted Microsoft to see if the company will share any more specifics about Bali. No word back so far.
Timothy Harris on Union busting
The importance of 5G is to breakup the unions and reduce
tech support maintenance worldwide. If
telco has their way, the customer will be responsible for troubleshooting their
own equipment. Telco also gets around
contractual obligations dominating wireline today.
Bay Area city blocks 5G deployments over cancer concerns | TechCrunch
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 20:04
The Bay Area may be the center of the global technology industry, but that hasn't stopped one wealthy enclave from protecting itself from the future.
The city council of Mill Valley, a small town located just a few miles north of San Francisco, voted unanimously late last week to effectively block deployments of small-cell 5G wireless towers in the city's residential areas.
Through an urgency ordinance, which allows the city council to immediately enact regulations that affect the health and safety of the community, the restrictions and prohibitions will be put into force immediately for all future applications to site 5G telecommunications equipment in the city. Applications for commercial districts are permitted under the passed ordinance.
The ordinance was driven by community concerns over the health effects of 5G wireless antennas. According to the city, it received 145 pieces of correspondence from citizens voicing opposition to the technology, compared to just five letters in support of it '-- a ratio of 29 to 1. While that may not sound like much, the city's population is roughly 14,000, indicating that about 1% of the population had voiced an opinion on the matter.
Blocks on 5G deployments are nothing new for Marin County, where other cities including San Anselmo and Ross have passed similar ordinances designed to thwart 5G expansion efforts over health concerns.
These restrictions on small cell site deployments could complicate 5G's upcoming nationwide rollout. While 5G standards have yet to be standardized, one model that has broad traction in the telecommunications industry is to use so-called ''small cell'' antennas to increase bandwidth and connection quality while reducing infrastructure and power costs. Smaller antennas are easier to install and will be loss obtrusive, reducing the concerns of urban preservationists to unsightly tower masts that have long plagued the deployment of 4G antennas in communities across the United States.
Perhaps most importantly, these small cells emit less radiation, since they are not designed to provide as wide of coverage as traditional cell sites. The telecom industry has long vociferously denied a link between antennas and health outcomes, although California's Department of Public Health has issued warnings about potential health effects of personal cell phone antennas. Reduced radiation emissions from 5G antennas compared to 4G antennas would presumably further reduce any health effects of this technology.
Restrictions like Mill Valley's will make it nearly impossible to deploy 5G in a timely manner. As one industry representative told me in an interview a few months ago, ''It takes 18 months to get the permit to deploy, and 2 hours to install.'' Multiplied by the hundreds of sites required to cover a reasonably-sized urban neighborhood, and the 5G rollout goes beyond daunting to well-near impossible.
While health concerns have bubbled in various municipalities, those concerns are not shared globally. China, through companies like Huawei, is investing billions of dollars to design and build 5G infrastructure, in hopes of stealing the industry crown from the United States, which is the market leader in 4G technologies.
Those competitive concerns have increasingly been a priority at the FCC, where chairman Ajit Pai and his fellow Republican commissioners have pushed hard to overcome local concerns around health and historical preservation. The commission voted earlier this year on new siting rules that would accelerate 5G adoption.
Mill Valley's ordinance is designed to frustrate those efforts, while remaining within the letter of federal law, which preempts local ordinances. Mill Valley's mayor has said that the city will look to create a final ordinance over the next year.
Build the Wall
Marc Thiessen: This is the stupidest government shutdown in US history. When will Dems get smart about it? | Fox News
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 14:10
Barring some miraculous breakthrough, on Saturday the current government shutdown will become the longest in American history. But it has already hit another historic milestone: It is, by far and away, the stupidest government shutdown in American history.
In 2019, the federal government will spend a whopping $4.407 trillion. Yet Congress and the president are shutting down the government in a dispute between the $1.3 billion the Democrats have approved for border security and the $5.7 billion the president is demanding -- precisely 0.0998 percent of the total federal budget. In Washington, that is considered a rounding error.
Worse, Democrats are doing it over a border wall strikingly similar to one that they almost unanimously supported just five years ago. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., now says that "a wall is an immorality," back in 2013, she supported a bill that required the construction of 700 miles of border fencing. (Trump has called for a wall of "anywhere from 700 to 900 miles" long.) The bill negotiated by the Gang of Eight, which included current Democratic leaders Sens. Charles Schumer, N.Y., and Dick Durbin, Ill., declared that "not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall establish ... the 'Southern Border Fencing Strategy,' to identify where 700 miles of fencing (including double-layer fencing) ... should be deployed along the Southern border."
That's not all. The bill further said that "the Secretary may not adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional immigrant status ... until 6 months after ... [the Secretary submits] a written certification that ... there is in place along the Southern Border no fewer than 700 miles of pedestrian fencing." In other words, Democrats agreed that no illegal immigrants could get a path to citizenship until all 700 miles of border fencing had been fully completed.
Every Senate Democrat voted for the Gang of Eight bill -- including 36 Democratic senators still serving today. President Barack Obama agreed to sign it. Indeed, he praised the bill for including what he called "the most aggressive border security plan in our history" and said that "the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I -- and many others -- have repeatedly laid out" (emphasis added). That bears repeating: Obama said building a 700-mile fence on the southern border was consistent with the principles of the Democratic Party.
Pelosi supported the Gang of Eight bill, saying at the time that "every piece of this legislation has had bipartisan support" (emphasis added). But now we are shutting down the government over a wall much like the one that Pelosi and Senate Democrats fully supported just five years ago?
Democrats will object that the Gang of Eight bill did fund a border wall, but it was in exchange for a lot of concessions. Of course it was. As Obama said at the time, "the bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise." But today, Democrats are refusing to compromise or lay out what concessions they would accept in exchange for wall funding. When Trump rhetorically backed off the wall and talked about "steel slats" -- a fence -- Democrats ignored it. When Vice President Mike Pence reportedly offered a deal for $2.5 billion, Democrats dismissed it. In a White House meeting Wednesday, Trump asked Pelosi whether, if he agreed to end the shutdown and negotiate separately on border security, she would support wall funding. She said no.
That is ridiculous.
In their response to the president's address to the nation, Schumer and Pelosi accused Trump of "manufacturing a crisis." That is simply untrue. As The Post reported this week, the United States now faces "a bona fide emergency on the border" as "record numbers of migrant families are streaming into the United States, overwhelming border agents and leaving holding cells dangerously overcrowded with children, many of whom are falling sick."
Democrats could not possibly be in a better position to demand concessions form Trump if they had manufactured a crisis. So put some demands on the table, for crying out loud. If Democrats think they have Trump cornered, then squeeze him and try get a lot out of him. But don't refuse to negotiate and tell us the wall is an "immorality" -- because their voting history shows they don't believe that.
How No Border Wall Caused a Homeless Crisis 2,500 Miles Away in Maine | Frontpage Mag
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 17:51
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
When Americans think about border security, they usually imagine the floods of migrants crossing the border and showing up in Texas and Arizona. The illegal migrant crisis is at its worst in places like El Paso where gang members released by a broken immigration system swarm the streets. Limited border fencing had previously helped sharply cut crime rates in El Paso, but it doesn't end in El Paso.
2,500 miles away, Portland, Maine is experiencing a crisis that redefines the nature of the problem and whom it impacts. Illegal border invaders aren't just from this continent. Anyone who can fly into South America and make their way up to Mexico has a shot at crossing the border and invading America.
Portland shelters, 2,500 miles away, are overloaded by illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa who crossed the border and then kept right on going to one of the coldest, but most profitable parts of the country. Portland, like many areas in Maine, attracted migrants because of the generous social safety net that had been set up to help the local population deal with turbulent economic times.
Hundreds of African migrants who illegally crossed the border are now crowding Portland's homeless shelters which are meant to protect local residents from the cold, but have instead been overrun by foreign migrants who have taken over the system and pushed the progressive city to the edge.
Portland, Maine, a city where the temperature this April had hit a balmy 28 degrees, is not a natural homeless hotspot. But refugee resettlement had diverted resources away from helping Maine's poor, putting more people on the street, and the migrants began crowding into homeless shelters. Not only were Maine's poor having trouble finding housing, but they were even being pushed out of homeless shelters by aggressive foreign migrants coming out of Africa through Mexico and Texas to Maine.
And so Maine, an unlikely place to host a homeless crisis, is in the throes of one anyway.
Portland, a city of 67,000, hit a new homeless record in October with 500 people in its shelters. That's 0.74% of the population. The flood of illegal migrants has hopelessly overloaded shelter resources leading to people sleeping on the floor in offices and gyms. When all the shelters were full, hotel rooms had to be rented at a much higher cost to taxpayers, while poisoning the well for future tourism. Now an entire building has been leased just to find space for the endless tide of economic migrants.
There are an estimated 3,000 asylum seekers in Maine. Most of them are occupying Portland.
In early December alone, 199 foreigners wanted to get into the shelter system in Portland. 126 of them had come through the southern border, either by illegally invading it or by falsely claiming to be ''refugees''.
While the media emphasizes hard luck stories by homeless Americans, the ugly secret is that the huge increase in Portland is not caused by local economics, but by legal and illegal migrants.
A 2013 survey found that 50% of the individuals in the shelter system were refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers or other foreigners. Of the 509 residents, 128 were Iraqis, 89 were Somalis, 47 were Sudanese. And then there were the Afghans and Eritreans. That's Portland's ''homeless'' problem.
Since then, the migrants have comprehensively displaced Maine homeless place from the system.
In 2018, 86% of the people in the shelter system were immigrants. By the end of the year, the number had climbed to a horrifying 90% with Maine families almost crowded out entirely.
Portland's Democrat leaders have refused to maintain eligibility criteria for general assistance and spending has shot up to $10 million. The second biggest expense for GA is shelter beds.
1/3rd of Portland's general assistance caseload consists of immigrants, many of them refugees.
Instead of prioritizing Mainers, the Democrat government has doubled down on putting migrants first. Mayor Ethan Strimling is urging $10 million in spending on affordable housing. A 2015 effort to go on using GA for migrants was backed 5-4 by the Portland City Council after testimony from Fatuma Hussein, the head of United Somali Women of Maine, even though state education money was being diverted.
The aid to Somali and other migrants was also paid for by a 3.1% property tax increase. Rising property taxes have contributed to a shortage of affordable housing in Portland, putting Mainers on the street and in the homeless shelters, if they can get in, past the foreign migrants who made them homeless.
Maine's 16.5% increase and Portland's staggering 70% rise in homelessness defies the overall economic recovery. The Oxford Street Shelter used to have beds. Then it switched to cots and finally to mats on the floor. The two blocks between Oxford and the Preble Street Center, another homeless magnet, are part of a diverse area populated by ''recent immigrants''. The Islamic Society of Portland is less than ten blocks away and many of the migrants filling up Portland are Somali Muslims. MAIN, the Maine Immigrant Access Network, a vector for the social problems plaguing Maine, sits on Oxford.
MAIN is mostly oriented toward Somalis. Its team is entirely Muslim and almost entirely Somali. It's typical of the vast social services infrastructure that has been set up to care for the migrant population. The social services sector employs a growing number of migrants who get profitable government jobs caring for migrants. And there's every possible incentive for them to continue increasing their numbers.
Even if it means that native Mainers are left out in the cold. Sometimes literally.
There are more mosques in Portland than any other city in Maine. That includes the controversial Afghan Mosque. Deqa Dhalac, a Somali immigrant, defeated a local to represent District 5 in the City Council. Like so many employed members of her community, Dhalac was working as a social worker.
When the City Council appointed a Maine firefighter to the Civil Service Commission instead of her, she filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and the City Council was forced to undergo diversity training. That's how Democrats hope to create a permanent Dem majority in Maine.
Mayor Strimling has even suggested allowing non-citizen foreigners to vote.
The catastrophic disaster in Portland, Maine has robbed the native population of needed social services while diverting them to foreign migrants. While President Trump has moved to reduce the number of refugees bleeding communities like Portland of their resources and their future, there is a new threat.
Three or four African families are now arriving in Portland's shelter system every week after crossing the border. Many more, according to Portland's social services director, are waiting in Texas in detention centers, eager to come to Portland. ''We can't sustain what is happening,'' he was quoted as saying.
''We're at a crisis situation now in the city of Portland,'' City Manager Jon Jennings declared.
''Our issue isn't that too many people are coming here '' it's we don't have the housing to put them in,'' Mayor Strimling bafflingly insisted.
Portland's only plan for managing the problem is to pass the buck to the Maine and United States governments. Multiply all the ''Portlands'', lefty cities that go deep into debt to attract illegal aliens in order to expand the political power of the Democrats, and it easily surpasses the $5 billion wall.
The crisis in Portland shows once again why building a wall to keep out a horde of migrants is a smart, sensible and cost-effective solution. Even the biggest proponents of open borders can't actually pay the tab for illegal migration, even when they're 2,500 miles away from the border in a cold state.
If they can't do it, how can anyone else?
Open borders are unsustainable in Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona, and even in Maine. Building a wall will not only protect the states that share a border with Mexico, it will even protect a state that shares a border with Canada.
And all of America.
Words that Hurt | LGBTQIA Resource Center
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 18:51
History In the 2000s, LGBTQIA Resource Center staff created a series of educational posters called "Words that Hurt and Why." The original series contained "Words that Hurt and Why," "Words that are Transphobic and Why" and "Words that are Biphobic and Why."
Words That Hurt and WhySometimes we say words without realizing the impact they may have on others. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Take time to educate yourself about language and histories of oppression.
Bitch (In Any Language) Targets and dehumanizes women, even if used toward men, including queer and gay men. Devalues women and femininity. Reinforces sexism. Ghetto/Ratchet Describes something or someone as cheap, worn out, poor, dangerous, etc. Reference to housing communities that are impoverished and disproportionately impact people of color. Associates people of color with these negative characteristics. Illegal Alien Reduces undocumented immigrants to something less than human. Fixates on legal status instead of people as individuals. Asserts that some people belong here more than others do. Ignores political, social, and economic factors that impact people of color. No Homo Stresses the speaker's heterosexuality, masculinity, and/or other traits to avoid being perceived as LGBTQIA. Goes to great lengths to avoid association with anything queer. Reinforces that to be LGBTQIA is bad. Retarded, Lame, Crazy, and Dumb Targets mental, emotional and physical disabilities as objects for ridicule. Used as synonyms for "worthless," "bad," "unintelligent," "incapable," etc. That's So Gay Stigmatizes gay and queer people. Uses their identities to describe something as undesirable and bad. Replaces negative adjectives with words related to LGBTQIA identities. Whore/Ho and Slut Dismisses anyone seen as being "too" sexual, particularly sex workers, women, LGBTQI people and people of color. Perpetuates negativity toward sex itself. Regulates who is allowed to have it. Bisexuality doesn't really exist. People are just gay or straight. This denies the fluidity of sexuality and dismisses people's experiences and definitions of self. People deserve the right to define their own identities any way they wish and have those definitions honored. I think everyone is really bisexual. While this is often meant to acknowledge the fluidity of sexuality, it dismisses the reality of people who identify as bisexual and erases their experiences. It also invalidates the self-identifications of non-bisexual people. You're too femme/butch to be bisexual. Gender presentation does not indicate sexual orientation. Bisexual people have a wide range of gender presentations. Bisexual people just want straight privilege. Bisexual people experience discrimination within straight communities and lesbian/gay communities. They never fully experience straight privilege because they do not identify as straight. Often their identities are made invisible and denied. Bisexual people are just greedy and want to have sex with everyone. This stereotypes bisexual people and assumes they are all promiscuous - and that this is a bad thing. It creates negative attitudes toward sex and works against creating a sex positive climate. It also demonstrates an underlying belief that bisexuality is only about behavior and is not a legitimate identity. Who do you see yourself ending up with? This is another way of implying one has to "end up" gay or straight and ignores bisexuality as an identity versus a relationship status. It also assumes everyone desires to be in a long-term monogamous relationship. Tranny Whether or not someone identifies as trans*, calling anyone "tranny" is extremely offensive. While some folks within the trans* community may choose to reclaim this word for themselves, it is not a word that is okay to use to label another person or use as a joke. That person doesn't really look like a woman/man. What does it mean to look like a man or woman? There are no set criteria. It also should not be assumed that all Trans Men strive to fit within dominant ideas of masculinity or all Trans Women strive to fit within dominant ideas of femininity, or that all Trans* people want to look like men or women. Gender presentation is fluid and distinct from gender identity, and all forms of gender expression deserve affirmation. What is your REAL name? I mean the one you were given at birth. This implies that the person's gender identity and chosen name are not "real" and perpetuates the idea of Trans people as deceptive. It removes agency and any right to make decisions for themselves, and is incredibly invalidating. It presumes a right to intimate information, disregards privacy, and places Trans lives on public display. He-She This hyphenated term is demeaning and invalidates an individual's identity and the pronouns that they use. Using the wrong pronouns or making assumptions about others' gender identities. It is vital that we respect the names and pronouns that people use. It is impossible to know without asking. If you are not sure, ask: "What pronouns do you use?" What are you REALLY? Have you had surgery? If not then you're not a _______ Asking anyone personal questions about their bodies and/or surgeries is invasive and inappropriate. We don't ask cisgender people about what is under their clothes; we shouldn't ask Trans* people either. Asking others about a trans person's identity, or offering information about someone. Asking someone about another person's identity is inappropriate. Ask yourself why you want to know. If you are concerned about using the correct pronouns, ask the person directly. Cunt/Twat/Pussy Using words that refer to people with vaginas to express that someone is weak or emotional. Dehumanizes womxn and perpetuates misogyny and sexism. Thot Word created to express womxn or people who are sexually promiscuous. There are speculations that the word comes from the KKK organization that referred to Black women who were forced into prostitution (i.e. Sarah Baartman: Hottentot). Ugly Word used to put down someone for the way they look, can be connected back to white supremacist, ableist, sizeist standards of beauty. You guys Erases the identities of people who are in the room. Generalizing a group of people to be masculine. I'm being such a fat-ass/I'm being so fat right now! Demeans and devalues fatness/fat bodies, reinforces harmful assumptions that fat people are gluttonous and are fat because they have no restraint around food. Also implies that there is an acceptable amount of food to eat and anything more is disgusting, or that enjoying food too much is disgusting.
Julia Reda '' Article 13 is almost finished '' and it will change the internet as we know it
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 01:58
Negotiations about the EU copyright reform law have resumed: After missing the original Christmas deadline, negotiators for the European Parliament and Council are now aiming to finalise the text on January 21, 2019.
The negotiators have reached agreement on the core of Article 13, which will change the internet as we know it: They want to make internet platforms directly liable for any copyright infringements their users commit.
What remains to be decided: Exactly what lengths will platforms need to go to to avoid or limit their liability? Just how much they will need to restrict our ability to post and share our creations online?
New timelineJanuary 18 '-- National governments vote on the Council's position ahead of the final negotiation. This is the moment of truth for EU member state governments: Will Italy keep its promise to vote against? Will Germany do so as announced, unless small businesses are excluded? Will Poland keep supporting the bill, although every single Polish MEP of the governing party voted against?
January 21 '-- Trilogue negotiations between Parliament and Council: Attempt to finalise the text
March/April '-- Final vote in the Council
March 25-28, or possibly March 11-14, April 4 or April 15-18 (tbd) '-- Final vote in the European Parliament
* * *Article 13 current status(Download current negotiation documents: Articles, Recitals)
FINAL Article 13 applies to internet platforms that organise and promote large amounts of copyright-protected works uploaded by their users in order to make a profit.
Note that ''copyright-protected'' does not mean ''copyright-infringing''! All creative texts, photos, videos etc. are automatically copyrighted, so this applies to all platforms where users express themselves, like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, TikTok, Twitch, Wattpad, Imgur, Giphy, etc. etc.FINAL These platorms are liable for copyright infringement by their users.
This is the core provision: Legally, anything we post to platforms will be treated as if employees of the platform had uploaded it themselves. If even a single user commits a copyright infringement, it will be viewed as if the platform had done so itself. This will force platforms to take drastic measures, since they can never say for certain which of our posts or uploads will expose them to costly liability. They may well need to restrict who is allowed to post/upload content in the first place, demand personal identification from uploaders and/or block most uploads using overly strict filters to be on the safe side.FINAL Licenses that platforms take out cover uploads by their users, as long as they act non-commercially or ''don't generate significant revenues''
For example: If YouTube negotiates a license with a film studio for their trailers, casual users will then no longer be blocked from uploading these trailers (and adding commentary, for example) '' but not professional vloggers who make a living on the platform, who would be ''acting commercially''FINAL The law should not result in a ''general monitoring obligation'', which is forbidden by current EU law
This is merely window dressing: Even if Article 13 doesn't explicitly establish such an obligation, it will lead platforms to monitor all user uploads anyway.FINAL Uploaders can complain about blocked uploads and request impartial, human review.
This doesn't change the fact that users like you and me will be considered ''guilty until proven innocent''FINAL The Commission shall organize debates between platforms, rightholders and user associations and consider their input when they publish guidelines on exactly how to best comply with the law.
This is unlikely to alleviate any of the negative effects, as it won't change the letter of the law.TBC If platforms do not have authorisation, they must put in place upload filters (stated as: cooperate with rightholders to ensure that works they've been informed about never appear online).
Platforms will never have authorisation for all copyright-protected content in the world, so this will always apply.TBC Platforms run by startups (small and micro-sized businesses) are exempted from the law.
This was one of the European Parliament's main improvements to the text. Unfortunately, it is now in danger of being dropped in negotiations.TBC How much platforms must do shall be proportional to their size, the amount of works they host, and whether ''suitable and effective'' upload filters are available.
This provision will need to be interpreted by courts on a case-by-case basis. To avoid risky and expensive court cases, platforms will comply regardless of these factors to be on the safe side.TBC Legal content should not be blocked.
Wishful thinking: Automatic filters remain fundamentally unable to distinguish between infringement and legitimate uses such as parody.CONTROVERSIAL If platforms can demonstrate they have done everything they can (e.g. deploying the strictest possible upload filters) they shall not be liable for infringing uploads that slip through.
CONTROVERSIAL When infringements do slip through, rightholders may request that they be taken down and prevented from being reuploaded in the future '' if platforms don't comply, they are liable.
Such a ''staydown'' procedure requires upload filters: Platforms need to surveil all user posts to identify reuploads of reported works. Council is insisting on this, and would apply it even to those platforms not required by Article 13 to otherwise filter (e.g. because they are small).CONTROVERSIAL Parodies and other uses of existing works uploaded for non-commercial purposes, or which don't generate significant revenue, should remain online.
A restatement of several existing copyright exceptions, but mandatory for all member states in this context, which the exceptions aren't (that's good!) and limited to non-commercial/unsuccessful uses (that's bad '' should parody only be allowed if nobody's watching?). It remains entirely unclear how this ought to be achieved, since algorithms can't ensure it.* * *Regardless of the open points, it's now for certain: The final text of Article 13 will force the internet platforms that we all rely on to express ourselves online to install upload filters and/or otherwise restrict our ability to post and share content. We can't let that happen.Your elected representatives in the European Parliament will have one last chance to reject Article 13 when it comes up for the final vote just before the next EU elections. Get ready to reach out to your MEPs!
To the extent possible under law, the creator has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.
My name is Julia, I'm the Pirate in the European Parliament. I'm fighting to
make copyright in the EU unified, progressive and fit for the future.
Will you join me? @Senficon JuliaRedaMEP
Netherlands narrowly escaped a major terrorist attack with dozens of deaths '' prosecutors '-- RT World News
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 05:19
Dozens of people would have been killed in an unprecedented terrorist attack in the Netherlands if a seven-strong terrorist cell had not been stopped in time, a Dutch public prosecutor told a court on Thursday.
The terrorists were intercepted in September last year following months of investigation. The seven suspects were arrested in the towns of Arnhem and Weert. Police seized 100kg of fertilizer as well as other bomb-making materials at their homes, they said at the time. This week, preliminary hearings in the high-profile case started.
''The suspects said goodbye to friends. These suspects were on the way to commit an attack, with dozens of victims. The Netherlands escaped a major attack,'' the prosecutor told a court on Thursday.
Also on rt.com Terrorism suspect with loaded Kalashnikov & ISIS flag arrested in Rotterdam '' reports According to the prosecution, the terrorists intended to target a festival with guns and bombs. A car bomb was also considered by the group. The conspirators discussed how they would conduct the raid, how they would avoid police, and how they should set off their explosive vests early if law enforcement tried to stop them, the court was told.
Luckily, the police identified the threat before they could carry out their plans. The prosecutor stressed that at no point was the public in danger in this case.
But how different it could have been. If the string had broken with the infiltrators, we might have had dozens of victims.
The police operation to bust the cell started in mid-May after a tip from the Dutch intelligence service AIVD, which flagged one of the suspects as a potential terrorist. The police managed to infiltrate the cell sometime in June and collected enough evidence against them by late September, after which the arrests were made. Shortly before that, group members received training in using guns by two undercover police officers.
The defense team insists that the police operation was actually entrapment and that the group would never have taken part in the gun training unless provoked by the police. The defendants say they only wanted to ''play with Kalashnikovs'' and were not ''hardcore jihadists'' contrary to what the prosecution alleges.
Of the seven people arrested in September, only three were present during the preliminary hearing. One 18-year-old person was since released due to lack of evidence to justify his continued detention, but remains a suspect in the case.
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Dockless Mobility
Lime halts scooter service in Switzerland after possible software glitch throws users off mid-ride | TechCrunch
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 11:51
Just as on-demand electric scooters are trying to pick up speed in Europe, one of the scooter market's most ambitious startups has halted operations in one country after its e-scooters started halting mid-ride, throwing off and injuring passengers.
Lime, the Uber-backed bike and scooter rental company that is reportedly raising money at between a $2 billion and $3 billion valuation, has pulled its full fleet of scooters in Switzerland, in the cities of Basel and Zurich, for safety checks after multiple reports of people injuring themselves after their scooters braked abruptly while in use.
The company sent out a notice to users '-- presented in screenshots below, in German, with the full text translated underneath that '-- noting that it is currently investigating whether the malfunction is due to a software fault, where an update of the software causes a scooter inadvertently to reboot during a ride, thus engaging the anti-theft immobilization system.
To make up for the disruption in service, it's offering users a 15-minute credit that they can use when the service is restored, but it doesn't give an indication of when that might be.
[gallery ids="1768613,1768614,1768615"]
The text reads as follows:
By now you surely have heard from the media that we have taken all Lime scooters into our workshops and have temporarily paused the service.
We have been made aware of cases in which users report that during their rides, sudden brake maneuvers take place, leading to crashes. The security of our users is our top priority and this is why we decided at the start of this week to pull in all devices and do a thorough security and quality check on them.
The investigation is ongoing. After first hints, we are currently examining whether a software update could be causing a reboot during the ride, triggering the theft protection. We have already taken measures to ensure this will never happen again. Nonetheless, we are testing each device thoroughly to ensure that no software or hardware issues remain.
We are optimistic that we will soon again be operating on the streets of Zurich and Basel and apologize for the disruption of the service. To make up for it, we offer you a free 15 minute ride with code ''LIME-ON-SCHWEIZ''. As soon as we are back again.
We will keep you updated about the developments. Thank you for your understanding.
With lime green greetings
Your Lime Switzerland Team
We have reached out to Lime for more details and will update this post as we learn more.
The cessation of service comes after reports over the past several months detailed how users have been injured after their Lime scooters stopped abruptly. In November, a doctor broke his elbow after the speedometer on his vehicle failed, the brakes kicked in, and he was thrown into the air. (Fortunately, this happened in front of the hospital, where he also worked.)
Another rider dislocated his shoulder after falling over his Lime scooter's handle bars when travelling at about 25 km/h (about 15 mph). A third suffered cuts and bruises in a similar incident to the other two: abrupt braking while travelling.
Lime launched e-scooter services in several cities across Europe last summer, starting in Paris with aggressive ambitions to expand its business to 25 cities in Europe by the end of 2018.
In Switzerland Lime has (had?) about 550 scooters in operation. But overall, Lime hasn't quite hit its wider regional target. It is currently live in 18 cities in Europe, and not all of those have electric scooters.
In the UK, for example, Lime has had a limited roll out of electric bikes and there are no plans at the moment to add scooters.
Part of the reason in the UK is because that particular mode of transportation is facing some regulatory hurdles: technically they are classified as vehicles, and therefore illegal to drive without licenses on public roads. On the other hand, there are plenty being sold and in use by private individuals who may or may not have the right credentials to use them, and regulations may get revisited.
One of Lime's biggest competitors, Bird, launched e-scooters in London last year, but it has been a very limited roll out, on private land on the Olympic campus.
In other markets, Lime originally launched scooters but has since had to halt its business. In December, Lime, along with rivals Wind and Voi, were all ordered to halt e-scooter operations in Madrid, after the city determined that they were posing a safety hazard after a series of accidents, including a death, amid other safety concerns.
We'll update this post as we learn more. Overall, however, the development does not paint a very positive picture.
Even before we've seen a mass launch of actual services, the e-scooter market in Europe is already very crowded with hopeful players. Alongside Lime and Bird flying over from the US, there are also homegrown startups like Taxify, Dott, Wind and Voi, as well as transportation behemoths like VW, all entering the fray.
All fine and well, I suppose '-- let the best man win and all that '-- but seeing early versions of these services getting banned by authorities or halted by the companies themselves over accidents does make one wonder if safety is getting compromised in the name of aggressive competition in new, unchartered areas of ''disruptive'' tech.
Vespa-like vehicles zoom into Austin's fleet of electric scooters - CultureMap Austin
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 12:50
If 2018 was the year of electric scooters littering '-- oops, we mean dotting '-- downtown Austin sidewalks, 2019 may be the year of sit-down scooters zipping down city streets. On January 8, OjO Electric announced Austin will be the launch site of its first sit-down scooter service.
Vespa-esque in design, the Light Electric Vehicles hit speeds of 20 mph (to meet City of Austin regulations) and can run up to 50 miles on a single charge. According to a rep, the company expects to receive the first LEV fleet in the next two weeks and will begin to roll out the rental service beginning on or before February 1.
Delightfully billed as "the adult commuter scooter," would-be riders can reserve an LEV using the OjO app on iPhone and Android. To begin, the new fleet will be available in the Downtown Austin Project Coordination Zone, a box that runs from Oltorf Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and between Mopac and Chicon Street.
OjO is partnering with Bike Share of Austin, which oversees the local B-Cycle system and Austin Commuter Scooter, to oversee the launch. When it came to choosing the inaugural spot, operators said Austin '-- and the local transportation companies that operate here '-- made it the ideal fit.
"[Austin Commuter Scooter]'s understanding of the local Austin market and expertise in hands-on deployments makes this unique partnership the ideal launching pad for OjO's entry into scooter rideshare in the country's 11th largest city," said Max Smith. "Our OjO scooter is unique '-- it's unlike anything the rideshare scooter market has seen and our rider experience is the safest on the streets."
According to a release, OjO is "collaborating with local governments to protect the public's right-of-way while providing first and last mile mobility solutions," though it doesn't offer specifics on how exactly it does that. In the wake of companies like Lime and Bird deploying thousands of scooters in downtown Austin, the city has scrambled for a way to regulate the bikes while pedestrians and cars are increasingly scrambling to get out of their way.
The company did highlight a series of safety measures that will be installed on the bikes to help riders curb potential maintenance issues '-- and have a little fun. Among the features:
Live-feed data transmission to share vehicle performance and informationSpeakers to provide audible feedback including navigation, traffic alerts, construction zones, geo-fence approaches, speed reduction zone alerts, and nearby docking location alertsBluetooth capabilities so riders can stream musicLive out all your Roman Holiday dreams for $1.25 to start and $0.18 per minute after that. First-time riders can score an additional $5 credit for downloading the app.
Agenda 2030
Climate change: Will insect-eating dogs help? - BBC News
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 16:15
Image copyright Yora Do you fret that your pet pooch is blamed by environmentalists for turning rainforests into poo in the park?
Have no fear - you can now fatten Fido on black soldier flies instead of Brazilian beef.
A pet food manufacturer now claims that 40% of its new product is made from soldier flies.
It's one of many firms hoping to cash in on the backlash against beef by people concerned that the cattle are fed on soya.
These soya plantations are responsible for the release of greenhouse gases in significant quantities.
Is it good for the dog?The key question is whether a diet of 40% soldier flies meets the nutritional needs of your beloved canine.
We put the question to a pet diet expert at the Royal Veterinary College, Aarti Kathrani. Her conclusion was a cautious "yes".
"Insects can be a very useful source of protein," she told us. "More studies are needed to show how much of these nutrients can actually be absorbed by a dog's body - but some studies suggest that insects can provide nutrients for dogs."
Does it help the climate if dogs eat flies?At first sight it seems obvious that feeding your dog meaty food is bad for the environment. The link between humans eating meat and the allied emissions of CO2 and methane is well established - and pets are estimated to eat 20% of global meat.
It's also true that flies produce protein much more efficiently than cows - using a small percentage of the water and land.
But actually the analysis is more subtle than that - because as societies become more wealthy, people often turn to muscle meat and reject the animal's offal.
Image copyright Yora Image caption The flies are brought to maturity in about 14 days That offal is just as nutritious - and it gets made into pet food. That means that dog food is just as sustainable - or unsustainable - as humans eating meat.
In fact, if dogs were weaned off meat and on to insects, the industry would have to find another purpose for the offal. More sausage, perhaps? Or more humans eating insect protein. Or more going vegan?
Could cat food be made out of insects, too?Dogs are omnivores - they eat more or less anything. Cats are much more choosy, because they can't make an essential amino acid, taurine. They find it instead in meat and fish.
But Dr Kathrani says studies show that insects do contain taurine, so it's possible that insects could also form a useful part of the moggie diet.
The new product is from Yora, a UK start-up. The insect grubs are fed on food waste in the Netherlands.
There are several competitors which also produce pet food incorporating fly protein. They include Insectdog, Entomapetfood, Chippin and Wilderharrier.
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Thanks to ambitious goals, Austin wins Bloomberg climate change challenge
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 14:33
Jeremy Schwartz @JinATXFriday Jan 11, 2019 at 10:48 AM Jan 11, 2019 at 8:13 PM
Citing Austin's aggressive environmental goals, which include making municipal operations carbon neutral by 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies on Friday announced that the Texas capital has won a national climate change challenge. The honor means Austin will join a two-year accelerator program that will give the city access to as much as $2.5 million in technical assistance and support.
Austin is one of 25 cities and, along with San Antonio, one of two in Texas to win the competitive Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, a $70 million program launched in June to help cities reduce their carbon footprint. The program aims to support mayors who have pushed to reduce carbon emissions after the Trump administration pulled out of the Paris climate agreement.
Bloomberg Philanthropies, founded by former New York City Mayor and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael Bloomberg, said it selected Austin based on its innovative plans to reduce air pollution from its transit and building sectors, which typically account for 80 percent of a city's emissions.
Electricity makes up nearly half of the Austin area's carbon footprint, and transportation accounts for 36 percent.
Austin officials plan to use the help from Bloomberg to achieve several goals, including working with local car dealerships to increase electric vehicle sales; advancing incentive programs to encourage sustainable commuting; performing energy efficiency retrofits and retro-commissioning in municipal buildings with high energy use; increasing Austin Energy commercial rebate program participation; and implementing new parking management and pricing programs to reduce vehicle emissions.
That last program could bring "dynamic" supply and demand-based parking fees to downtown to try to reduce emission-generating circling as motorists look for a spot.
''Cities are helping to keep America moving forward on climate change despite the lack of leadership from Washington, and this challenge was designed to help innovative mayors reach their goals,'' Bloomberg said. ''We were looking for cities with ambitious and realistic plans to cut emissions in ways that improve people's lives, and mayors committed to getting the job done."
Mayor Steve Adler said the award would help Austin do more to reach its goals. ''Austin is fighting hard to mitigate climate change, from investing heavily in wind and solar energy production, to approving a 100-year strategic water plan that conserves precious resources,'' he said. "It's core to our values in this community."
Touting the importance of individual cities in lowering emissions, Adler has attended international summits in Paris and Mexico City in recent years, saying in 2017, ''Worldwide, cities will lead in achieving climate treaty goals because so much of what's required happens at the local level."
A report released this week by the private research firm Rhodium Group found that after three years of declines, carbon emissions in the United States jumped by 3.4 percent in 2018, the second-largest increase since 1996.
Adler's stance is not only at odds with the Trump administration, but with state leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, who drew the ire of Texas climate scientists recently when he said it would be "impossible" to determine if human activity has fueled natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.
While steering clear of the term "climate change," a recent state report on Harvey's impacts called for "future-proofing" the state from increasingly powerful natural disasters.
Austin has set a series of carbon-related goals, including Austin Energy reaching 65 percent renewable energy by 2027, making Austin's municipal operations carbon neutral by 2020 and making the overall city carbon neutral by 2050.
''Even as Austin grows, we can stay economically strong while lowering our carbon footprint,'' Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk said Friday.
By the end of 2017, Austin Energy officials projected that solar power would make up 7 percent of the utility's total generation, with wind accounting for 30 percent.
Last year, officials said the city wouldn't make it to carbon neutral by 2020 without buying ''carbon offsets'' '-- essentially, paying for green energy elsewhere to balance its own emissions. The city said last year it will probably need to pay $200,000 to $900,000 over the next three years for 40,000 to 60,000 metric tons of carbon at $5 to $15 per ton.
Austin has begun partnering with the Seattle-based nonprofit City Forest Credits to build a local carbon credit program that would fund tree planting in the city.
Earth's magnetic field is mysteriously acting up, pushing North Pole towards Siberia '-- RT World News
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 11:33
Earth's magnetic field, the basis for modern global navigation systems, is constantly in some state of flux. However, it now seems to be going haywire, pushing the North Pole closer to Siberia, and no one's sure why.
The field changes as the molten metals surrounding the earth's solid iron core churn and flow, creating electric currents and a corresponding magnetic field. As a result, the magnetic poles tend to shift slightly as a matter of course.
However, researchers don't know what's causing the magnetic field to now move so quickly.
Read more
The north magnetic pole sped across the International Date Line last year at a rate of 55 km per year, more than three times as fast as it moved before the mid-1990s. Now located in the Eastern Hemisphere, it's moving away from Canada and approaching Siberia.
Scientists think a high-speed jet of liquid iron under Canada could be responsible for the pole's movement, weakening the magnetic field below and allowing Siberia to draw over the pole, Nature reports.
''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,'' University of Leeds geomagnetist Phil Livermore told a recent American Geophysical Union meeting. ''The Siberian patch is winning the competition.''
In general, the World Magnetic Model (WMM) is updated at five-year intervals to ensure modern navigation keeps up with the changes in the Earth's magnetic field. It was due to be reconfigured next in 2020, but was so out-of-whack by 2018 that a more urgent update was needed.
Also on rt.com Aliens phoning home? Mysterious deep-space radio signals are more frequent than we thought Researchers at the British Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been working to correct the WMM using three years of recent data, including a 2016 pulse that threw their last model's accuracy off.
The scientists were due to release the latest update next week '' if the US government hadn't shut down, hamstringing NOAA's operations. Now the release has been postponed to the end of January. The team hopes this model lasts until 2020.
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Earth's Magnetic Field Is Acting Up and Geologists Don't Know Why - Slashdot
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 13:05
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binspamdupenotthebestofftopicslownewsdaystalestupidfreshfunnyinsightfulinterestingmaybedescriptive 105697090 story Earth's Magnetic Field Is Acting Up and Geologists Don't Know Why (nature.com) Postedby EditorDavidon Sunday January 13, 2019 @03:34AM from the bi-polar-disorder dept.
schwit1 quotes
Nature: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. [T]hey 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.... 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.
Nature's article was updated on January 9th to inform readers that the release of the corrected World Magnetic Model, which should restore accuracy through the end of 2019, has now been postponed from January 15th to January 30th -- "due to the ongoing US government shutdown."
The reward for working hard is more hard work.
Winter Storm Gia Causing Snow Emergency Across The U.S.
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 06:46
Slideshow by photo servicesParts of four major interstate highways in the St. Louis area are backed up Friday night as Winter Storm Gia has announced her presence. Gia has most of the midwest in a winter storm warning, with anticipated snowfall ranging from 3 inches to more than a foot.
The storm is expected to cover half of the United States with snow and ice over the weekend, and more than 57 million people are expected to feel the wrath of Gia.
Gia, which is what The Weather Channel is calling it, should produce heavy snow and some ice accumulation in the Rockies and more than 1,000 miles eastward to Philadelphia and New Jersey. The storm is projected to affect North Carolina and Virgina, and power outages could happen along the storm's path.
"In much of swath from Missouri to southern Ohio, this will heavy and wet and a strain to shovel," AccuWeather meteorologist Bill Deger wrote in a blog post. "The snow will be wet and clinging in nature. Weak tree limbs may give way under the weight of the snow and lead to sporadic power outages."
Deger added that IH-44, IH-64 and IH-70 will be ''slow and slippery'' as snow accumulates over the next couple of days. In St. Louis on Friday night, parts of I-44, I-55, I-64 and I-70 were partially closed because of current snowfall, and more is on the way.
Much of the heart of Missouri is forecast to receive snow, ice or both throughout the night. The southern half of Iowa is getting ice and snow, and below Missouri, cold rain is falling on the Sun Belt.
The major airport hubs of Denver, St. Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati could expect long delays, directly impacted by snow from WS Gia. Passengers flying to or from outlying airports from Dallas to Detroit and Minneapolis will see residual delays from connecting flights.
(C) Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images An electronic board shows flight delays and cancellations at O'Hare International Airport after an early winter snowstorm left more than 7 inches of snow at the airport on November 26, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The storm also caused scores of traffic accidents and left thousands without power. Some locales along the projected path of Gia could receive up to a foot of snow through Sunday.
The tri-state area of Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio is under a winter storm warning, with many areas already declaring a snow emergency before the storm is expected to hit on Saturday, according to Fox 19 in Cincinnati.
Watching The Arctic Sea Ice Scam Unravel | The Deplorable Climate Science Blog
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 17:52
The Arctic sea ice scam began to rapidly unravel last March, when all records for Arctic sea ice volume gain were blown away.
Spreadsheet Data
So far this month, ice volume gain has also been a record high.
And January 9 Arctic sea ice volume has been increasing for over a decade.
Spreadsheet Data
The area of the Arctic covered with thick sea ice has greatly expanded over the past eleven years.
2008 2019
Ice extent is very close to the 1981-2010 median, and rapidly increasing.
N_20190110_extn_v3.0.png (420—500)
My Northwest Passage cruise had to be cancelled last year, because of too much ice.
Climate experts describe these record large increases in ice as an unprecedented meltdown.
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Locals blame authorities for mass fish deaths in Australian river
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 13:10
Hundreds of thousands of dead fish float on the surface of the green water. It is the second such incident to occur in the Menindee Lakes region in south-east Australia in three weeks. Communities living along the Darling River in New South Wales blame the environmental catastrophe on gross water mismanagement by authorities. Our Observer says that the deaths of thousands of native species was entirely avoidable.
Locals have been posting videos and photos of thousands of dying and dead fish crowding the river's banks. One video posted to Facebook shows two Menindee residents, Dick Arnold and Rob McBride, standing in the Darling River and holding enormous dead Murray cod.
Since being posted on Monday, the video has garnered four million views and been shared over 120,000 times. ''This is nothing to do with drought,'' McBride tells the camera. ''This is a man-made disaster''.
Our Observer Graeme McCrabb is a local who fishes in the river. He also posted photos and videos of the mass fish deaths, and has been trying to rescue the remaining live fish by moving them to deeper water. He spoke to us from his boat on the river, showing us the scores of fish carcasses lining the banks.
I drove over the town bridge on Sunday morning and noticed a lot of carp floating on top of the water. They do come up to the surface in clumps sometimes, but this was unusual. I stopped my car and had a look, and I could see dead fish on top of the water. I reported it to the fisheries as we've had fish kill before. They asked me to hop in my boat and have a look.
The fish had died on the Sunday and then all started to come up to float the next day, so on the Monday it was carnage on the river. There were some still coming to the surface on Tuesday. This has to be one of the biggest environmental disasters we've seen in the Murray-Darling basin.
We've got a lake system in the middle of the Darling River, and the authorities drained water from the lakes. We should have had reserves of five to six years' worth of water, but it was drained out twice in four years.
Screenshot from a video posted on Facebook by a Menindee resident.
''You drain the water and hope it rains. But then it didn't rain''
You need running water to keep oxygen in the water, but the loss of water means the water slowed down and the pools became stagnant. We're in the middle of a drought here, and the sunlight and heat encourages blue-green algae to grow in the water. As the algae dies it takes oxygen out of the water. That's why the fish have died '' there's no oxygen in the water. You drain the water and you hope it rains. But then it didn't rain. It's as simple as that.
Authorities drained the lakes because they can use the water elsewhere for irrigation. They actually use some of the water to encourage a fish breeding process. It's ironic that in draining the water to hit environmental targets further down the river, they've managed to kill a million fish. It's as dumb as it sounds.
Photo by our Observer. This dead Murray cod measures over a metre long.
This is outback Australia. Farmers upstream and downstream rely on the Darling River for water for stock, irrigation and for domestic use. Water was required elsewhere where there are more people, more votes, and so the politicians drained the water to go there.
The local community is angry. It's killed endangered species like Murray cod, which is an iconic Australian fish. Anyone who's a fisherman would dream of catching a Murray cod. Some of these fish are 80 years old, older than people living here in the town. It really resonates with people.
Photo by our Observer showing some of the dead fish in the Darling River.
Murray cod, golden perch and silver perch are native to the Murray basin. Not only have we killed the fish but we've killed their food source, the smaller fish. You can just grab handfuls of little prawns out of the water. And the dead fish stink. It's rancid.
Two years ago the lakes were almost full. According to the regional water authorities WaterNSW website, there is just 3% of total water capacity remaining in the Menindee Lakes. Regional authorities have been under fire from residents for ambitious plans to restructure the lake system, designed to tackle the problem of evaporation in the Menindee Lakes. Last year locals rejected the infrastructure plan, saying that they had not been consulted and that it could cause serious ecological harm.
The Department of Primary Industries has launched an investigation into the most recent fish kill. Local politicians refute accusations that the disaster came about after over-extraction of water upstream.
Photo by our Observer of dead fish in a cold room. McCrabb says that fishermen are not allowed to catch fish bigger than 75cm - so these dead Murray cod normally would not be touched.
Niall Blair, the New South Wales primary industries minister, said that the drought had caused the poor water quality. ''What we must remember is normally, in a normal year, we would see around 4,000 gigalitres coming into the system,'' he told a press conference. ''In the first six months of this irrigation year, we've seen 30 gigalitres come in.''
He was criticised for ignoring residents who had gathered at a boat ramp by the river on Wednesday to ask him questions, citing security concerns after he allegedly received death threats on social media.
Some residents also cast blame on the cotton industry for siphoning off water to irrigate their crop. Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray responded to the accusations, saying that the cotton industry was tired of being the ''whipping boy'' for problems generated by the extreme drought. He reminded critics that the cotton industry has also been dramatically affected by the harsh weather conditions, with only half the volume of last season's output expected to be produced this year.
Around 10,000 fish died in late December in another disaster further upstream. Experts say that if the hot weather continues, the deaths could decimate fish species native to the Murray-Darling Basin.
This article was written by Catherine Bennett.
German WW1 U-boat emerges off French coast
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 06:35
(C) AFP Wreckage of a German submarine which ran aground off the coast of Wissant in July 1917 and has resurfaced due to to sand movements The wreck of a World War One German submarine is gradually resurfacing on a beach in northern French after decades of being buried in the sand.
Shifting sand off Wissant, near Calais, is exposing the remains of the UC-61 which was stranded there in July 1917.
The crew flooded the vessel and abandoned it and by the 1930s the submarine had largely been buried.
It is now becoming a tourist attraction again, although the local mayor warns it may only be a fleeting visit.
Since December, two sections of the submarine have been visible at low tide about 330ft (100m) from the dunes.
"The wreck is visible briefly every two to three years, depending on the tides and the wind that leads to sand movements, but a good gust of wind and the wreck will disappear again," said Mayor of Wissant Bernard Bracq.
However, local tour guide Vincent Schmitt believes the winds and tides could lead to even more of the UC-61 being exposed.
"All the residents of Wissant knew there was a submarine here, but the wreck is mostly silted and therefore invisible," he said.
"Pieces reappear from time to time, but this is the first time we discover so much."
(C) AFP The wreck is attracting curious visitors at low tide German submarines, known as U-boats, targeted Allied shipping during World War One, sinking hundreds of vessels.
Historians say the UC-61 was credited with sinking at least 11 ships, either by laying mines or by firing torpedoes.
On its last journey, the submarine had left Zeebrugge in Belgium and was heading to Boulogne-sur-Mer and Le Havre to lay mines when it ran aground.
The 26 crewmen surrendered to French authorities.
The Money and Connections Behind Al Gore's Carbon Crusade | Human Events
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 14:28
Al Gore's campaign against global warming is shifting into high gear. Reporters and commentators follow his every move and bombard the public with notice of his activities and opinions. But while the mainstream media promote his ideas about the state of planet Earth, they are mostly silent about the dramatic impact his economic proposals would have on America. And journalists routinely ignore evidence that he may personally benefit from his programs. Would the romance fizzle if Gore's followers realized how much their man stands to gain?
Earlier this year Gore experienced a notable public relations debacle. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a state think tank, revealed that he was an energy hog. Public records show that Gore's Nashville mansion used in one month more than twice the electricity the typical American household uses in a year: His average monthly electric bill was more than $1,359. Moreover, Gore's household energy use increased after An Inconvenient Truth, his film about global warming, was released to ecstatic reviews.
Never mind that the scientific community is divided over what causes global warming, how bad it is and how to deal with it. Gore plays Chicken Little to the media's applause, insisting that the world is warming dangerously and that he has the solution.
The 'Cap-and-Trade' System
To resolve the ''climate crisis,'' Gore wants to put a cap on the production of greenhouse gases. He calls for an immediate freeze on U.S. emissions, a ban on new coal-fired power plants, tough new fuel-economy and energy-efficiency standards, renewable energy mandates, carbon taxes and mandatory targets and timetables for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Those emissions consist mostly of carbon dioxide (CO2), the byproduct of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas, which supply 85% of all U.S. energy. Gore's blueprint to save the planet moves the United States towards a command economy in which government regulators hold sway over what kinds and amounts of energy will be made available to the private sector. His principal regulatory tool is what's called carbon-credit trading.
Under a so-called ''cap-and-trade'' system, government places a ceiling or ''cap'' on private-sector emissions of CO2 and other ''greenhouse gases.'' Each sector, industry or business is allocated a fixed quantity of carbon credits that allow it to emit specific quantities of greenhouse gases. As an example, one tradable carbon credit might permit the emission of one ton of CO2. If a business emits more tons of CO2 than its supply of credits allows, it has the option to buy surplus credits from other firms '-- or it will have to pay a fine in proportion to the amount of the excess emission. By contrast, businesses that emit less than their allocation can sell their excess credits.
This system, which may sound market-friendly, is something only a bureaucrat could dream up. The twist is that the carbon market exists only because the government's imposition of a cap creates an artificial scarcity in the right to produce energy. In a cap-and-trade system, buyers will purchase their offsets from a broker or through an electronic trading platform. In Europe, carbon trading is already a reality. Since 2005, carbon offsets have been traded electronically on the European Climate Exchange (ECX).
Most carbon cap-and-trade programs also allow regulated entities to earn credits by taking actions that supposedly reduce emissions outside of the firm's facilities or operations. In one popular version of the carbon-offset concept, firms earn credits by buying seedling trees for planting in less-developed countries. Supporters claim the CO2 intake of the trees will balance out the carbon emissions of the sponsoring firm's industrial activity. Despite its public relations value, scientists scoff at the notion that it's possible to plant enough trees to balance out man's production of CO2. But carbon-offset projects are popular in the environmentalist community.
More Chances to Cheat
However, the most radical environmentalists reject cap-and-trade. They say it allows polluters to continue to pollute by purchasing carbon credits. That is true but irrelevant. A ton of CO2 emitted in Beijing has the same climatologic effect as a ton emitted in New York. The real problem is that every country's government has an incentive to cheat on behalf of its domestic producers. This has been the European Union's (EU) experience with the Emissions Trading System (ETS) that the EU established to implement the Kyoto Protocol. In just about every EU country except Britain, the credits allowed exceed the corresponding tons of emissions.
Carbon offsets provide even more opportunities to cheat. For example, some aluminum companies claim they deserve credits just because they recycle aluminum for a living '-- recycling being less energy intensive and thus generally cheaper than making the stuff from scratch. The most popular activity for generating offsets is planting trees. But this method of storing carbon takes years and the long-term results are uncertain. If the trees die and decay, or are burned to clear land for agriculture, there is no net emission reduction. The net carbon reduction from tree planting may not materialize for decades, but the offsets are given out now.
To critics on both the free-market right and the environmentalist left, carbon offsets are no more than a marketing gimmick. Some describe the fanciful device as akin to medieval indulgences that were sold in a cleric-run market to regulate the remission of sin.
The truth is that almost every productive human action requires the use of natural resources, and nothing is pollution free. Even something like wind power requires windmills, which, according to environmentalists such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., may visually ''pollute'' the natural landscape. Kennedy, head of the green group Riverkeepers, says he supports wind power '-- except when the windmills are in the waters off Cape Cod.
Whatever its impact on the environment, the cap-and-trade carbon scheme is sure to boost the economic and political prospects of people and groups that are behind it. Before the company collapsed under the weight of financial scandal, Enron under CEO Ken Lay was a key proponent of the cap-and-trade idea. So was BP's Lord John Browne, before he resigned last May under a cloud of personal scandal. In August 1997, Lay and Browne met with President Bill Clinton and Vice President Gore in the Oval Office to develop administration positions for the Kyoto negotiations that resulted in an international treaty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. Senate voted 95 to 0 not to ratify the Kyoto treaty in 1997. But that hasn't stopped Al Gore.
Gore's Circle of Business
Al Gore is chairman and founder of a private equity firm called Generation Investment Management (GIM). According to Gore, the London-based firm invests money from institutions and wealthy investors in companies that are going green. ''Generation Investment Management, purchases '-- but isn't a provider of '-- carbon dioxide offsets,'' said spokesman Richard Campbell in a March 7 report by CNSNews.
GIM appears to have considerable influence over the major carbon-credit trading firms that currently exist: the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) in the U.S. and the Carbon Neutral Company (CNC) in Great Britain. CCX is the only firm in the U.S. that claims to trade carbon credits.
CCX owes its existence in part to the Joyce Foundation, the Chicago-based liberal foundation that provided $347,000 in grant support in 2000 for a preliminary study to test the viability of a market in carbon credits. On the CCX board of directors is the ubiquitous Maurice Strong, a Canadian industrialist and diplomat who, since the 1970s, has helped create an international policy agenda for the environmentalist movement. Strong has described himself as ''a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in methodology.'' His former job titles include ''senior advisor'' to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, ''senior advisor'' to World Bank President James Wolfensohn and board member of the United Nations Foundation, a creation of Ted Turner. The 78-year-old Strong is very close to Gore.
CCX has about 80 members that are self-confessed emitters of greenhouse gases. They have voluntarily committed themselves to reduce their emissions by the year 2010 to a level 6% below their emissions in 2000. CCX members include Ford Motor Company, Amtrak, DuPont, Dow Corning, American Electric Power, International Paper, Motorola, Waste Management and a smattering of other companies, along with the states of Illinois and New Mexico, seven cities and a number of universities. Presumably the members ''purchase'' carbon offsets on the CCX trading exchange. This means they make contributions to or investments in groups or firms that provide forms of ''alternative,'' ''renewable'' and ''clean'' energy.
CCX also has ''participant members'' that develop the carbon-offset projects. They have names like Carbon Farmers and Eco-Nomics Incorporated. Still, other participant member groups facilitate, finance and market carbon-offset projects to ''sequester, destroy or displace'' greenhouse gases. CCX aspires to be the New York Stock Exchange of carbon-emissions trading.
Along with Gore, the co-founder of GIM is Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson. Last September, Goldman Sachs bought 10% of CCX shares for $23 million. CCX owns half the ECX, so Goldman Sachs has a stake there as well.
GIM's ''founding partners'' are studded with officials from Goldman Sachs. They include David Blood, former CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM); Mark Ferguson, former co-head of GSAM pan-European research; and Peter Harris, who headed GSAM international operations. Another founding partner is Peter Knight, who is the designated president of GIM. He was Sen. Al Gore's chief of staff from 1977-1989 and the campaign manager of the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.
Like CCX, the ECX has about 80 member companies, including Barclays, BP, Calyon, Endesa, Fortis, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Shell, and ECX has contracted with the European Union to further develop a futures market in carbon trading. What's in it for the companies? They will benefit either by investing in carbon credits or by receiving subsidies for doing so.
Front and Center
Clearly, GIM is poised to cash in on carbon trading. The membership of CCX is currently voluntary. But if the day ever comes when federal government regulations require greenhouse-gas emitters '-- and that's almost everyone '-- to participate in cap-and-trade, then those who have created a market for the exchange of carbon credits are in a position to control the outcomes. And that moves Al Gore front and center. As a politician, Gore is all for transparency. But as GIM chairman, Gore has not been forthcoming, according to Forbes magazine. Little is known about his firm's finances, where it gets funding and what projects it supports.
We do know that Goldman Sachs has commissioned the World Resources Institute (affiliated with CCX), Resources for the Future, and the Woods Hole Research Center to research policy options for U.S. regulation of greenhouse gases. In 2006, Goldman Sachs provided research grants in this area totaling $2.3 million. The firm also has committed $1 billion to carbon-assets projects, a fancy term for projects that generate energy from sources other than oil and gas. In October 2006, Morgan Stanley committed to invest $3 billion in carbon-assets projects. Citigroup entered the emissions-trading market in May, and Bank of America got in on the action in June.
Some environmentalist groups disparage Gore and his investment banker friends. They say the Gore group caters to others who share their financial interest in the carbon-exchange concept. The bulletin of the World Rainforest Movement says that members of a United Nations-sponsored group called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stand to gain by approving Gore's carbon-trading enterprise. The IPCC has devised what it says is a scientific measure of the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming. In fact, the critics charge, the IPCC sanctions a mechanism that mainly promotes the sham concept of carbon exchange.
The global non-profit organization Winrock International is an example of one IPCC panel member that seeks out groups and individuals with an interest in carbon trading. Arkansas-based Winrock provides worldwide ''carbon-advisory services.'' Winrock has received government grants from the EPA, USAID and the Departments of Labor, State and Commerce, as well as from the Nature Conservancy (whose chairman used to be Henry Paulson). Winrock argues that cap-and-trade carbon trading is the best way to prevent a climate change crisis. But consider this: When a non-profit group takes money from oil companies and advocates drilling for oil as a solution to energy shortages, it is certain to be attacked as a tool of Big Oil. So far, the groups linked to Al Gore have avoided similar scrutiny.
Then there's the World Resources Institute (WRI). It was the first nongovernmental group to join CCX as an associate member (a designation for virtuous groups whose greenhouse-gas emissions are negligible). Many of its donors are CCX members or otherwise support carbon exchanges, including the Shell Foundation, Whole Foods Market, the Nature Conservancy, American Forest and Paper Association, and the Pew Center for Climate Change, as well as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Ford Foundation.
Connect the Dots
In June 2006, the World Bank announced that it, too, had joined CCX, saying that it intended to offset its greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing emission credits through CCX. The bank says its credits would contribute to restoring 4,600 hectares of degraded pastureland in Costa Rica. Somehow, CCX has figured out that this is an amount equivalent to 22,000 metric tons of emission that the bank calculates are created by its activities.
A World Bank blog called the Private Sector Development Blog regularly features items touting Al Gore and the concept of carbon credits. Its articles typically announce corporate ''green'' initiatives in which carbon credits are said to cancel out ''bad'' CO2 emissions released by a company's activities.
In fact, the World Bank now operates a Carbon Finance Unit that conducts research on how to develop and trade carbon credits. The bank works with Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain to set up carbon-credit funds in each country to purchase emission credits from firms for use in developing countries. In addition, it runs the Carbon Fund for Europe helping countries meet their Kyoto Protocol requirements. These funds are traded on the ECX (half of which is owned by CCX, itself a creature of Al Gore's firm, Generation Investment Management). Can we connect the dots?
A website affiliated with An Inconvenient Truth invites concerned citizens to personally fight global warming by offsetting their ''carbon footprint.'' The ways to do that include changing over to fluorescent light bulbs and turning down your thermostat at home. But the website also urges Americans to offset their personal CO2 emissions by ''buying'' carbon offsets from a native-American-owned company called Native Energy. Native Energy promotes ''renewable'' wind energy by buying and selling carbon-emission credits and futures for wind turbine projects on Indian reservations.
What the website doesn't mention is that that the founder of Native Energy, energy industry veteran Tom Boucher, also founded a marketing company called Green Mountain Energy, a CCX associate partner that describes itself as ''the nation's leading retail provider of cleaner energy and carbon-offset solutions. Green Mountain offers residential, business, institutional and governmental customers an easy way to purchase cleaner, affordable electricity products, as well as the opportunity to offset their carbon footprint.'' In other words, Green Mountain sells advisory services to energy users, alerting them to opportunities to contribute to or invest in groups like Native Energy.
So it seems banks and investment houses are going green, eager to enter an emerging emissions market. Meanwhile, environmentalists are discovering new ways to get rich while believing they are saving polar bears and rainforests.
Gore's Non-profit Agitators
In 2006 Al Gore established his own global-warming non-profit group, the Alliance for Climate Protection, a 501(3)(c) charitable organization. The group favors more stringent environmental policy regulations on the private sector and especially wants cap-and-trade legislation so that companies will be forced to lower their greenhouse gas emissions and buy carbon credits.
The alliance CEO is Cathy Zoi, a former environmental advisor to President Bill Clinton. Gore is chairman of the board, which also includes environmental activist Theodore Roosevelt IV, Clinton EPA Director Carol Browner, the President George H.W. Bush's National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and Reagan-era EPA Director Lee Thomas. Gore has reportedly given the alliance $250,000 and has said he will donate his share of the profits from An Inconvenient Truth to the group.
Last September, the alliance cheered as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R.) signed into law the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. California has the world's sixth-largest economy and is the world's 12th-largest source of CO2 emissions. The mandate promises to cut emissions by 25% by 2020. Unlike other state and regional programs to cut carbon emissions and promote alternative energy, the California law is the first to embrace a cap-and-trade program. It has won the support of litigious environmental groups and business and financial groups that want to buy and sell pollution credits.
Force Everyone to Play
This year Congress is considering a slew of cap-and-trade bills to reduce carbon emissions. The bill getting the most attention is sponsored by Senators John McCain (R.-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (ID.-Conn.). It would apply to the entire economy, would reduce emissions in stages (to 2004 levels by 2012, 1990 levels by 2020, and 60% below 1990 by 2050) and would set up a cap-and-trade market for emission credits.
The push is now on to force action from the Bush Administration. On May 14 of this year, President Bush signed an executive order directing federal agencies to craft regulations by the end of next year that will ''cut gasoline consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions from motor vehicles.'' His ''20 in 10'' plan to cut gas consumption by 20% in the next 10 years focuses on increasing the fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks and mandating increased use of alternative fuels.
But the President is unwilling to call for mandatory nationwide emissions rules and instead favors voluntary carbon-emission cuts in the private sector. This is deeply frustrating to all the brokers, wheeler-dealers and interest groups that want to jump on the cap-and-trade bandwagon. There are billions of dollars to be made in trading emissions credits. But first the federal government must force everyone to play the game.
As for Al Gore, the former Vice President brings emotional fervor to his carbon crusade. He travels the country displaying charts and graphs, quoting scientific experts and appealing to philosophers and religious leaders to save the planet from global warming. But he says nothing about his business partners who yearn to trade on the emerging carbon market. And the media pay no attention to the companies offering ''carbon advisory services'' that will profit from federal carbon emission controls.
Perhaps it's about time they did.
Costco's 27-pound mac-and-cheese bucket has a 20-year shelf life
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 20:49
January 11, 2019 | 9:44am | Updated January 11, 2019 | 1:50pm
Your comfort food prayers are answered, mac and cheese lovers.
Costco has blessed us with a 27-pound ''Storage Bucket'' of the ooey-gooey good stuff containing 180 servings. This gluttonous golden opportunity is helpfully listed under ''Emergency Kits & Supplies'' on the Costco website.
Oh, and don't worry if you're a single person eating for one '-- it's got a two-decade shelf life.
That's a lot of eating elbow room, thanks to the hearty folks at Chef's Banquet, a household name in family-size freezer food circles.
Bonus: You can even fit ''100 baseballs, half a bale of hay or your average 3-year-old child'' in the bucket once it's empty, according to People.
Online reviews for the $89.99 item are all raves: ''Good stuff! We bought this for our grandson. He was here the day it arrived. We opened it and made it. Very pleasantly surprised. I have made it a couple of different ways. You can't mess it up. Have purchased it again, and will continue to use it,'' says MimiO.
''I was surprised,'' chimes in HealthTechSavvy. '' Honestly, I was expecting something that tasted horrible. I was surprised to find out that it was very good. But, don't pack the cheese sauce powder.''
Although it's actually been around on the down low for a few years, this cheesy pasta product is suddenly so popular that it's temporarily out of stock.
Massive swarm of locusts plagues Mecca (PHOTOS, VIDEOS) '-- RT World News
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 13:27
They're everywhere '' in the air, on the pavement, on the robes of worshipers and on the walls of the Great Mosque. A swarm of locusts has descended on Mecca, prompting a large-scale cleaning operation.
Mecca attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe every year, but this time it became a site of completely different pilgrimage. The insects have been plaguing the holy site in Saudi Arabia for a few days now, with social media relaying a detailed account of the havoc they caused.
Ùعمري Ùم Ø£Ø"مع أ٠أرى مØ٠هذا من قبÙاجتياح صراصير ÙمدينØ(C) مكØ(C) بما فيها اÙحرم اÙمكي.. 'Œ#صراصير_اÙحرمهذا نذيرٌ من اÙÙه تعاÙى ÙÙحكام اÙØ"عÙديين اÙمØ"تكبرين اÙمجرمين Ùمن ÙاÙاهم
(فأرØ"Ùنا عÙيهم اÙØ·Ùفان ÙاÙجراد ÙاÙقم٠ÙاÙضفادع ÙاÙدم Øيات مفصÙات فاØ"تكبرÙا ÙكانÙا قÙما مجرمين) pic.twitter.com/V1uDs3fzuG
'-- هاشم احمد شرف اÙدين (@hashemsharafdin) January 8, 2019Local authorities have assigned 22 teams, each consisting of 138 people and armed with 111 pieces of specialized equipment, to curb the infestation.
''We have harnessed all efforts available to speed up the eradication of the insects in the interest of the safety and comfort of guests to God's house,'' they said is a statement, cited by Al-Araby website.
The masked workers were spraying insecticide in the area around the Great Mosque, paying extra attention to the locust breeding sites near open water drains. They were then seen sweeping thousands of the dead insects from the pavement.
Saudi officials said that the insect invaders were identified as 'black grasshoppers' and that their invasive descent upon Mecca was migration-related.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
Netflix could use AI to clamp down on people sharing their account with friends and family
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 11:44
Netflix has millions of users around the world, but how many of these are actually paying customers? Many of us either know (or are) people who share their Netflix account with friends and family, or leech off the one person they know that's willing to pay for a subscription.
But Netflix free rides could be coming to an end. At CES, UK-based firm Synamedia revealed artificial intelligence software that could be used by Netflix and other companies to detect and block the sharing of account credentials.
The system uses machine learning to determine a user's typical patterns of account activity, making it possible to identify when something out of the ordinary happens -- such as being logged in at two locations at once, or the account being used in different parts of the world or country.
As noted by the Independent, it has been estimated that credential sharing could cost subscription-based streaming services $1.2 billion in lost revenue, while the cost to pay-TV services could be as high as $9.9 billion.
Jean Marc Racine, Synamedia's chief product officer, explains:
Casual credentials sharing is becoming too expensive to ignore. Our new solution gives operators the ability to take action. Many casual users will be happy to pay an additional fee for a premium, shared service with a greater number of concurrent users. It's a great way to keep honest people honest while benefiting from an incremental revenue stream.
Image credit: Proxima Studio / Shutterstock
From Bronx Millennial
In the morning gentlemen,
I am a millennial and avid listener who happens to live in
AOC's district in Astoria, Queens. I was not lucky enough to have her knock on
my door nor did any of my friends in the area. I do know of a couple dimension
B members who did meet her at rallies around the area but I can't speak of
anyone meeting her beyond that.
It is mentioned much in the M5M that she is from the Bronx
but she is indeed from Yorktown Heights in Westchester, which is just north of
the Bronx. Your analysis on the show may not be too far off as Hilary Clinton's
Clinton Foundation funded mansion in New York is in Chappaqua, NY. This
just so happens to be located in Westchester County and is about 20 minutes
south of where AOC is from.
My only issue with the theory is Joe Crowley, who AOC
defeated for the seat. He was an establishment democrat who also ran as a third
party candidate against her. He may have just been playing his part but what do
I know?
Anyway, Amazon HQ2 will soon be jacking up my rent but I
still recently signed up for a monthly donation. While it may be small now, I
hope to add to it in the near future as I make Bezos money. Keep doing what
you're doing and please know there are sane millennials out there who love what
you're doing even if you're old white dudes.
Ocasio-Cortez calls out CBS News for not assigning a 'single black journalist to cover the 2020 election' | TheHill
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 05:23
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Alexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez sparks debate with talk of 70 percent marginal rate Nordic lessons on AOC's 70 percent tax proposal Virginia Democrat adds his support to Green New Deal MORE (D-N.Y) criticized CBS News Saturday night for what she considered lack of diversity in its team of reporters covering the upcoming 2020 presidential election.
''This WH admin has made having a functional understanding of race in America one of the most important core competencies for a political journalist to have, yet [CBS News] hasn't assigned a *single* black journalist to cover the 2020 election,'' Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet.
''Unacceptable in 2019. Try again,'' Ocasio-Cortez added.
This WH admin has made having a functional understanding of race in America one of the most important core competencies for a political journalist to have, yet @CBSNews hasn't assigned a *single* black journalist to cover the 2020 election.Unacceptable in 2019. Try again. https://t.co/h7tmiBr9Fi
'-- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 13, 2019Her tweet was in response to another post shared by an associate producer at CBS News, Ben Mitchell, who shared a tweet showing the news agency's 2020 election team of reporters and associate producers.
''It's Official: The @CBSNews 2020 Election Team has assembled!'' Mitchell said in the tweet, which also featured a photo of the 12-person team of media professionals.
The newly sworn in congresswoman faced some blowback from other reporters over the criticism, including Josh Kraushaar, a politics editor at the National Journal, who said the New York Democrat had ''another thing'' in common with President Trump Donald John TrumpJulin Castro hits Trump in campaign launch: 'A crisis of leadership' Center stage once again: Colin Powell's UN speech in 'Vice' Julin Castro announces 2020 White House bid, swipes at Trump MORE : ''media scold.''
Another thing AOC has in common with Trump: media scold. https://t.co/Xj9AAccWMP
'-- Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 13, 2019Ocasio-Cortez fired back at Kraushaar in another tweet on Saturday night, saying: ''Or: maybe having powerful editorial positions awash in people from one race, class, or gender isn't a good idea; since we get 1000% more takes on 'brown lady says a curse word' than an actual white supremacist in Congress.''
Or: maybe having powerful editorial positions awash in people from one race, class, or gender isn't a good idea; since we get 1000% more takes on ''brown lady says a curse word'' than an actual white supremacist in Congress.If you won't look the mirror, people will do it for you. https://t.co/P0PVfsTE4t
'-- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 13, 2019The congresswoman appeared to be referencing data released from by the liberal group Media Matters for America on Friday.
The Hill reached out to CBS News.
The report showed that Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib Rashida Harbi TlaibSteve King faces new storm over remarks about white supremacy GOP pollster says Democratic talk of impeaching Trump is 'gift' for Republicans Rubio, Tlaib trade barbs over Israel, free speech MORE 's (Mich.) profane vow to impeach Trump received five times more cable news coverage than Republican Rep. Steve King Steven (Steve) Arnold KingGrassley, Ernst condemn Steve King's 'white supremacist' comments Steve King faces new storm over remarks about white supremacy Biden blasts Steve King for 'white supremacist' comments MORE over his latest inflammatory comments questioning why the term ''white supremacist'' is offensive.
In another tweet responding to Ocasio-Cortez, however, Kraushaar wrote that he felt the team's reporters looked racially diverse "at least based on [their] last names."
For what it's worth, the mix of 7 embedded campaign reporters looked racially diverse (at least based on last names), with the exception of lacking an African-American.If there aren't strict racial quotas for every batch of hires, does it mean a company is racist? https://t.co/T05hTagRby
'-- Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 13, 2019But Ocasio-Cortez responded to Kraushaar's reasoning in another tweet in which she also contended that "one race isn't substitutable for another."
"It doesn't work like that. It's not about 'quotas.' It's about understanding the country you're living in," the New York Democrat added.
Do you understand how fundamental the black experience is to American politics? And to American history?One race isn't substitutable for another. It doesn't work like that.
It's not about ''quotas.'' It's about understanding the country you're living in. https://t.co/sttXLoD4J3
'-- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 13, 2019
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says Congress Should Go Without Pay During Shutdown
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 13:19
The partial government shutdown over funding for President's Trump border wall will force hundreds of thousands of federal employees to work without pay, and hundreds of thousands more to be sent home without pay. New York Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks members of Congress should be among them.
"Next time we have a gov shutdown," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Saturday, "Congressional salaries should be furloughed as well."
"It's completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision. Have some integrity."
Next time we have a gov shutdown, Congressional salaries should be furloughed as well.It's completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision.
Have some integrity. https://t.co/BgueNNjf0f
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 22, 2018 Ocasio-Cortez will be rare among congresspeople in that she comes from a working class background and is largely dependent on her congressional salary. In November, she told the New York Times she wasn't sure she could afford to rent an apartment in Washington, D.C. before she starts getting paid in January.
(Spoiler alert: most members of Congress are already wealthy!)Speaking as a working class member-elect, I think it's only fair.
It would also cause members who actually depend on their salary to think twice about leadership and take a shutdown vote more seriously. https://t.co/fSAcPAj0Xf
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 22, 2018 Still, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "speaking as a working class member-elect, I think it's only fair. It would also cause members who actually depend on their salary to think twice about leadership and take a shutdown vote more seriously."
On Thursday, a Republican lawmaker from Pennsylvania told Politico that he doubted the furlough would impact federal employees. ''Who's living that they're not going to make it to the next paycheck?'' Rep. Scott Perry said. (Most Americans, according to a 2017 survey.)
Tonight, I asked Scott Perry (R-Pa.) about effect of fed employees being furloughed. He argued it had no real impact since employees eventually get paid back."Who's living that they're not going to make it to the next paycheck?"
- Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) December 21, 2018 Furloughed federal workers will be repaid after the shut down ends-Thursday at the earliest. Trump tweeted Friday that if Democrats refuse to fund the $5 billion wall, the shut down "will last a long time."
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Ocasio-Cortez in line for banking post, and that could be bad news for Wall Street
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 15:48
Carlos Barria | Reuters
Democratic Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York talks to reporters as she arrives for a class photo with incoming newly elected members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2018.
Big banks could be about to get a high-profile enemy in a very powerful place.
Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is a registered Democrat but identifies as a democratic socialist, is in line to be appointed to the House Financial Services Committee, according to a Politico report.
The New York legislator has vowed to take on the industry that makes up the corporate backbone for much of her constituency. She said during her successful campaign in 2018, in which she refused corporate donors and upset entrenched incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley, that she was hoping for an assignment that would allow her to take on big finance.
"I think with our district, we can be ambitious, so we're kind of swinging for the fences on committees," Ocasio-Cortez told Hill.tv in an interview after her win. "We might as well ask for something big."
With prominent Democrats looking to unwind two years of deregulation under President Donald Trump, the seat will put her in a position to exert substantial influence.
Her appointment also will give new committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., an important ally.
During a hearing in November, shortly after the Democrats recaptured the House in the midterm elections, Waters promised that the days of Wall Street deregulation were over.
""Make no mistake, come January, in this committee the days of this committee weakening regulations and putting our economy once again at risk of another financial crisis will come to an end," she said in remarks that briefly roiled markets.
CNBC has reached out to Ocasio-Cortez for comment.
Trump targeted post-financial crisis finance reforms during his own campaign, saying they were overreach that had kept banks from lending and wrongly penalized institutions that had little or nothing to do with the crisis.
Just a few days ago, the Federal Reserve proposed tailoring capital and liquidity rules for banks with $100 billion to $250 billion in assets. That move dovetails with the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act that Congress passed last year. Part of the legislation raised the benchmark for banks getting more intense regulatory scrutiny from $50 billion to $100 billion; the baseline will move to $250 billion in December.
The Politico report characterized Ocasio-Cortez's chance of the committee appointment as "strong" and said other more senior legislators have sought to ingratiate themselves with the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress.
Tulsi Gabbard says she will run for president in 2020
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 06:02
(C) CNN tulsi gabbard announces 2020 run van jones vpx_00002617.jpg Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said Friday she will run for president in 2020.
"I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week," the Hawaii Democrat told CNN's Van Jones during an interview slated to air at 7 p.m. Saturday on CNN's "The Van Jones Show."
Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, currently serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She is the first American Samoan and the first Hindu member of Congress.
"There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision. There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I'm concerned about and that I want to help solve," she said, listing health care access, criminal justice reform and climate change as key platform issues.
"There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace," Gabbard added. "I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement."
In 2015, Gabbard, then a vice-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, was sharply critical of its then-chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for scheduling just six presidential debates during the 2016 primary election cycle. She later resigned her post as DNC vice chair to become one of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' highest-profile supporters, aligning herself with his populist economic message.
Gabbard has staked out anti-interventionist foreign policy positions in Congress. Her 2017 meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad drew widespread criticism. "Initially, I hadn't planned on meeting him," Gabbard told CNN's Jake Tapper in January of 2017. "When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt it's important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we've got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace, and that's exactly what we talked about."
Gabbard joins a quickly growing field of Democrats eager to take on President Donald Trump for the presidency.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced on New Year's Eve that she was forming an exploratory committee for a presidential run. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro also formed an exploratory committee and is expected to announce his 2020 plans Saturday.
A number of other potential Democratic candidates, including heavyweights like former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, are currently weighing whether to run for president and are expected to announce their decision soon.
CNN's Eric Bradner contributed to this report.
The Humble Libertarian: US Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard Bought Crypto at Height of Bull Market
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 05:21
By: Samantha ChangCCN
Gabbard, 37, is a fresh, energetic face on the American political scene. However, her chances of winning the Democrat Party's nomination are slim, given the huge field of candidates.
For example, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is also running for president. Warren is a crypto critic who says the virtual currency market is full of scam artists.
Gabbard Bought Crypto at Height of Market
As CCN reported, Tulsi Gabbard bought $1,001 to $15,000 of Ether and Litecoin in December 2017. At the time, the bitcoin price soared to a record high of $19,500.
It's unclear how much crypto Gabbard currently holds. However, it's likely that she lost some money on her investments amid the ongoing bear market.
Read more at CCN.com.
Tulsi Gabbard Doesn't Deserve Your Vote in 2020 - PoliticalEdu
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 11:57
Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Honolulu, 2013-present) would not have run for president '' or emerged from backbench obscurity '' had it not been for one dramatic moment in 2016.
After Bernie Sanders' shellacking in the South Carolina Democratic primary, Tulsi Gabbard announced her resignation from the Democratic National Committee, where she served as vice-chair, to endorse and campaign on his behalf.
This so-called willingness to buck the party that people, including Donna Brazile, wrongly thought had ''rigged the primaries'' endeared Gabbard to many Bernie Sanders supporters and other tenuous Democrats.
It's on their support that Gabbard hopes to rise to the presidency (or, more realistically, the Senate/a cabinet position). But those supporting her on the basis of one act alone overlook the many reasons her leftist populism rivals Donald Trump's demagoguery in ignorance, bigotry, and disregard for fundamental rights and human life.
Tulsi Gabbard's 2020 presidential campaign hinges on a populism that necessitates voters overlook her record and statements for a presumption of anti-establishmentarianism. In no place is this more obvious than her foreign policy beliefs.
Tulsi Gabbard's 2020 Problem: Foreign PolicyOstensibly anti-war '' a position held by many across the ideological spectrum, especially the left '' Tulsi Gabbard's reluctance to use military force stems from her desire to see dictators remain in power.
In Syria, Gabbard has long demanded the withdrawal of U.S troops and cooperation with the dictator Bashar al-Assad. Assad's despotic regime, aided by Vladimir Putin, has waged a brutal and criminal war against those in his country seeking freedom and liberty.
His atrocities include multiple uses of chemical weapons '' a war crime '' and the systematic bombing of rebel-held cities (not to mention the humanitarian disaster he caused in Aleppo), killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions, directly contributing to the refugee crisis.
Assad's crimes haven't stopped Gabbard from wanting him to remain in power. To prove her commitment to the dictator, Gabbard decided to visit the worn-torn nation. She failed to alert government leaders that she would visit a country with which we do not have diplomatic relations and met with the tyrant in a move that might have run afoul of the Logan Act (given the two countries are in dispute).
She initially wouldn't disclose who funded the trip, signing and submitting incomplete ethics forms. It soon emerged that an alleged anti-semitic group with longstanding ties to the Syrian regime paid for the trip. That group also helped Greek neo-fascist Golden Dawn members visit the country. After much criticism, Tulsi Gabbard refunded the money.
Gabbard called the trip a ''fact-finding'' mission, but let it be curated entirely by pro-government figures. Two of Assad's henchmen, who hail from a virulently anti-Semitic party with a history of fascism, accompanied her throughout the visit.
Without speaking to a single dissident voice, Tulsi Gabbard returned with a renewed belief in Assad's beneficence '' an American falling victim to Assad's propaganda.
Tulsi Gabbard and Abdel al-SisiIt's not just the Syrian dictator Gabbard favors. She also visited Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and praised him for his ''great courage and leadership in taking on this extreme Islamist ideology, while also fighting against ISIS militarily to keep them from gaining a foothold in Egypt,'' urging leaders to ''recognize President al-Sisi and his leadership'' and ''stand with him in this fight against . . . Islamic extremists.''
Tulsi Gabbard with the Egyptian dictator.Al-Sisi's government has a zero-tolerance policy for dissent of any kind. Opposition figures have been routinely rounded up and jailed without a semblance of due process. Many are then tortured and executed. Others see assets seized and rights revoked after being placed on an opaque terrorism watch list. Civilians wind up in front of military tribunals after speaking out against the government.
These flagrant human rights abuses do not trouble Tulsi Gabbard at all. She supports these dictators in their efforts to stifle fundamental liberties all in the name of fighting terrorism, a phrase long abused by the authoritarian-minded to justify repression.
Tulsi Gabbard's Latent IslamophobiaBoth instances shine light onto Gabbard's fixation with so-called ''radical Islamic terrorism'' and fundamental distrust of the religion. She spent the better part of her first two congressional terms appearing on any cable news program that would have to argue that Barack Obama and John Kerry's refusal to mention the words ''radical Islamic terrorism'' somehow hurt our fight against terrorism.
This bizarre argument, frequently promoted by hawkish Republicans such as Lindsey Graham and their more bigoted counterparts, obviously holds no merit (how does uttering a phrase somehow defeat an enemy?) but does tap into a strong vein of Islamophobia.
Her actions corresponded with her words. In 2014, Tulsi Gabbard introduced legislation to end the visa waiver program for any country with citizens working for ISIS. Given the international reach of the terror group and its ability to radicalize lone wolves who proclaim allegiance to the group, this legislation would have extended to almost every single one of America's allies. This truly senseless measure for a virtually non-existent threat would have created more bureaucracy and hurt American relationships without making our country any safer.
The next year, she voted for legislation that would have effectively halted Syrian refugee resettlement during the crisis' height '' while, of course, supporting the man responsible for creating those refugees. It would have accomplished a bigot's dream: Add the most stringent refugee vetting requirements ever demanded of those fleeing a war-torn country.
Steve Bannon Really Likes Tulsi GabbardGiven her disinterest in supporting human rights and helping those escaping unimaginable violence, it's little surprise that Gabbard's positions earned her the favor of Steve Bannon, the former Donald Trump aide best known for Islamophobia, homophobia, and host of other far-right views.
That attraction apparently went both ways. Shortly after Trump's election, 169 House Democrats signed a letter denouncing Trump's appointment of the white nationalist Bannon as his chief strategist. Tulsi Gabbard refused to add her name.
Tusli Gabbard on LGBT RightsHer position on LGBT rights is little better. Early in her political career, Gabbard opposed abortion and support a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and woman.
Tulsi Gabbard surfing.The rhetoric reached disgusting lows: After Honolulu Magazine emailed Gabbard's father, a leading opponent of LGBT rights, to ask about his former ties to a conservative Hare Krishna splinter group for a 2004 profile, Tulsi angrily replied, accusing the magazine of ''acting as a conduit for The Honolulu Weekly and other homosexual extremist supporters of Ed Case [her father's opponent].''
That same year, she led opposition to and voted against a state bill to all same-sex unions, saying ''as Democrats, we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists.''
In recent years, Gabbard has claimed viewpoint evolution. This in itself would be admirable '' it shows growth from her younger years and the ability to admit mistakes '' but her own words cast doubt on that sincerity.
A 2015 interview with Ozy shows her personal viewpoints haven't changed '' she's still opposed to same-sex marriage '' but her belief that government should regulate such a union has morphed. This immediately comes across as disingenuous: What else would a Democrat with national ambitions say if she wanted a future in an increasingly socially liberal party?
Tulsi Gabbard 2020? Just Say NoTulsi Gabbard has shown a predilection for authoritarian leaders and blatant disregard for human rights, both abroad with those seeing basic freedoms and fleeing violence and death and at home with those hoping to express their love.
Her desire for America to withdraw from its position of world leadership helps no one '' except the tyrants. Tusli Gabbard's 2020 presidential bid must be weighed on her merits, or lack thereof, and not her notoriety for one act of what some consider political heroism. She doesn't deserve your support or your vote.
Tulsi Gabbard on Foreign Policy
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 15:35
Tulsi Gabbard on Foreign Policy $500M and 3,000 troops to Africa to fight Ebola.Gabbard signed Ebola Relief ResolutionCongressional Summary:
The current outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia is an international health crisis and is the most widespread outbreak of the disease ever recorded.
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives--calls on the international community to immediately provide additional resources to develop the capacity of affected nations to address current and future public health crises;requests that the US work in a coordinated capacity to develop a unified global health security plan to adequately respond to disease outbreaks globally;calls upon the US to work with international health authorities to assist endemic nations in the fielding of medical countermeasures.Reporting pro & con by Washington Times, Sept. 16, 2014:Amid dire warnings from medical professionals and frantic calls from Congress for greater US intervention, Pres. Obama said he'll deploy 3,000 American troops to combat an African Ebola outbreak that he says is "spiraling out of control."
The announcement comes as the Ebola death toll officially has reached 2,400, though specialists say underreporting in affected nations means the true numbers likely are much higher.
The US effort will be funded by $500 million in overseas contingency funding that the Pentagon wants to redirect to humanitarian missions. Specifically, the mission will include the training of as many as 500 new doctors and health care workers each week; the construction of at least 17 health care facilities in the region; the establishment of a joint command center in Monrovia, Liberia; and the distribution of home health-care kits in affected areas.
Others blasted the administration for taking a bite out of the Pentagon budget. "You can't have it both ways. You can't slash our defense budget on one hand, while expecting our military to do it on the other," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Source: H.Res.701 14_HRes701 on Jul 31, 2014
Opinion | Will the Media Be Trump's Accomplice Again in 2020? - The New York Times
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 13:54
We have a second chance. Let's not blow it.
Jan. 11, 2019 Image Credit Credit Ben Wiseman ''Pocahontas'' won't be lonely for long.
As other Democrats join Elizabeth Warren in the contest for the party's presidential nomination, President Trump will assign them their own nicknames, different from hers but just as derisive. There's no doubt.
But how much heed will we in the media pay to this stupidity? Will we sprint to Beto O'Rourke, Cory Booker or Mike Bloomberg for a reaction to what Trump just called one of them and then rush back to him for his response to that response? Or will we note Trump's latest nonsense only briefly and pivot to matters more consequential?
That's a specific question but also an overarching one '-- about the degree to which we'll let him set the terms of the 2020 presidential campaign, about our appetite for antics versus substance, and about whether we'll repeat the mistakes that we made in 2016 and continued to make during the first stages of his presidency. There were plenty.
Trump tortures us. Deliberately, yes, but I'm referring to the ways in which he keeps yanking our gaze his way. I mean the tough choices that he, more than his predecessors in the White House, forces us to make. His demand for television airtime on Tuesday night was a perfect example: We had to weigh a request in line with precedent against a president out of line when it comes to truth. We had to wrestle with '-- and figure out when and how to resist '-- his talent for using us as vessels for propaganda.
[Go beyond the headlines and behind the curtain with Frank Bruni's candid reflections on politics, culture, higher education and more every week. Sign up for his newsletter.]
We will wrestle with that repeatedly between now and November 2020, especially in the context of what may well be the most emotional and intense presidential race of our lifetimes. With the dawn of 2019 and the acceleration of potential Democratic candidates' preparations for presidential bids, we have a chance to do things differently than we did the last time around '-- to redeem ourselves.
Our success or failure will affect our stature at a time of rickety public trust in us. It will raise or lower the temperature of civic discourse, which is perilously hot. Above all, it will have an impact on who takes the oath of office in January 2021. Democracies don't just get the leaders they deserve. They get the leaders who make it through whatever obstacle course '-- and thrive in whatever atmosphere '-- their media has created.
''The shadow of what we did last time looms over this next time,'' the former CBS newsman Dan Rather, who has covered more than half a century of presidential elections, told me. And what we did last time was emphasize the sound and the fury, because Trump provided both in lavish measure.
''When you cover this as spectacle,'' Rather said, ''what's lost is context, perspective and depth. And when you cover this as spectacle, he is the star.'' Spectacle is his m(C)tier. He's indisputably spectacular. And even if it's a ghastly spectacle and presented that way, it still lets him control the narrative. As the writer Steve Almond observed in a recently published essay, ''He appears powerful to his followers, which is central to his strongman mystique.''
Trump was and is a perverse gift to the mainstream, establishment media, a magnet for eyeballs at a juncture when we were struggling economically and desperately needed one. Just present him as the high-wire act and car crash that he is; the audience gorges on it. But readers' news appetite isn't infinite, so they're starved of information about the fraudulence of his supposed populism and the toll of his incompetence. And he wins. He doesn't hate the media, not at all. He uses us.
Did that dynamic help elect him? There's no definitive answer. But we gave him an extraordinary bounty of coverage, depriving his rivals of commensurate oxygen and agency. And while our coverage of him had turned overwhelmingly negative by the final months of the 2016 campaign, it by no means started out that way.
Thomas Patterson of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy has been analyzing that coverage since Trump declared his candidacy for the presidency in 2015. Patterson found that for much of that year, the number of stories about Trump in the country's most influential newspapers and on its principal newscasts significantly exceeded what his support in polls at the time justified.
And those stories were predominantly positive. ''The volume and tone of the coverage helped propel Trump to the top of Republican polls,'' Patterson wrote in one of his reports about the election. In stark contrast, stories about Hillary Clinton in 2015 were mostly negative.
Through the first half of 2016, as Trump racked up victories in the Republican primaries, he commanded much more coverage than any other candidate from either party, and it was evenly balanced between positive and negative appraisals '-- unlike the coverage of Clinton, which remained mostly negative.
Only during their general-election face-off in the latter half of 2016 did Trump and Clinton confront equivalent tides of naysaying. ''On topics relating to the candidates' fitness for office, Clinton and Trump's coverage was virtually identical in terms of its negative tone,'' Patterson wrote.
Regarding their fitness for office, they were treated identically? In retrospect, that's madness. It should have been in real time, too.
But we fell prey to a habit that can't be repeated when we compare the new crop of Democratic challengers to Trump and to one another. We interpreted fairness as a similarly apportioned mix of complimentary and derogatory stories about each contender, no matter how different one contender's qualifications, accomplishments and liabilities were from another's. If we were going to pile on Trump, we had to pile on Clinton '-- or, rather, keep piling on her.
''It was wall-to-wall emails,'' said Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of The Times and the author of a book about the media, ''Merchants of Truth,'' that will be published next month. She was referring to the questions and complaints about Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state. ''When you compare that to the wrongdoing that has been exposed so far by Robert Mueller,'' Abramson told me, ''it seems like a small thing.'' The considerable muck in Clinton's background never did, and never could, match the mountain of muck in Trump's.
Abramson, who had left The Times and was writing a column for The Guardian during the 2016 campaign, maintains that Trump also benefited from the media's excessive faith in polls and its insufficient grasp of what was happening among Americans between the coasts. ''The basic flaw of the press coverage, and I count myself in it, was the total assumption that Hillary would win,'' she said. ''The firepower of the investigative spotlight turned on Trump was a little bit less, because no one thought he would be the president, and that was a grave mistake.''
Image Credit Ben Wiseman I'm not certain that more firepower would have made a difference. For one thing, there were many expos(C)s of Trump's shady history. For another, he appealed to voters who largely disregard the mainstream media and who thrilled to his exhortations that they disregard it further. And many of those voters were embracing disruption or rejecting Clinton; the tally of Trump's sins had little bearing on that.
Regardless, he won't get any pass along those lines in 2020. There are formal investigations galore into his behavior. The media needs only to track them '-- and is doing so, raptly.
We need to do something else, too, which is to recognize that Trump now has an actual record in office and to discuss that with as much energy as we do his damned Twitter feed.
By the time the 2020 election kicks into highest gear, Trump will have been president for more than three years, barring his impeachment, his resignation or his spontaneous combustion (with him, you never know). We'll have evidence aplenty to demonstrate that he's ineffective and incompetent, an approach more likely to have traction than telling voters that he's outrageous. They already know that.
We just have to wean ourselves from his Twitter expectorations, which are such easy, entertaining fuel for talking '-- or, rather, exploding '-- heads. I've certainly been powered by that fuel, in print and on television, myself.
''You know what would be great?'' said Amanda Carpenter, who worked as a communications adviser and speechwriter for Ted Cruz and wrote the 2018 book ''Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us.'' ''Instead of covering Trump's tweets on a live, breaking basis, just cover them in the last five minutes of a news show. They're presidential statements, but we can balance them.''
We can also allow his challengers to talk about themselves as much as they do about him. In 2016, Carpenter said, that didn't happen. ''It was deeply unfair,'' she told me. ''When the whole news cycle was microphones shoved in Republican candidates' faces and the question was always, 'What's your reaction to what Trump just said?,' there's no way to drive your own message.''
And when journalists gawp at each of Trump's tirades, taunts and self-congratulatory hallucinations, these heresies blur together and he evades accountability for the ones that should stick. I asked Rather what he was most struck by in the 2016 campaign, and he instantly mentioned Trump's horrific implication, in public remarks that August, that gun enthusiasts could rid themselves of a Clinton presidency by assassinating her.
I'd almost forgotten it. So many lesser shocks so quickly overwrote it. Rather wasn't surprised. ''It got to the point where it was one outrage after another, and we just moved on each time,'' he said. Instead, we should hold on to the most outrageous, unconscionable moments. We should pause there awhile. We can't privilege the incremental over what should be the enduring. It lets Trump off the hook.
So does anything, really, that tugs us from issues of policy and governance into the realms of theater and sport. That puts a greater premium than ever on avoiding what Joel Benenson called ''the horse-race obsession'' with who's ahead, who's behind, who seems to be breaking into a gallop, who's showing signs of a limp.
Benenson was the chief strategist and pollster for Clinton's campaign, and he told me: ''Cable networks have figured out that the most interesting television of the week is the National Football League pregame show, and that if you put enough experts on arguing about something that hasn't happened yet, people will watch. And that's what we're doing with our politics. The media is not using their strength, their franchise, to elevate and illuminate the conversation. They're just getting you all jazzed up about the game.''
That carried over into Trump's presidency itself. To wit: Pew analyzed over 3,000 stories from 24 news organizations during his first four months in office to determine what the media gave the most coverage to. It wasn't any legislative proposal or executive action such as the ban on travel into the United States from largely Muslim countries. It was his ''political skills.''
I think that we've improved since then, and all along our efforts have included significant in-depth reporting. The Times's acquisition and exhaustive analysis of confidential financial records of Trump's from the 1990s '-- and its conclusion, in an epic story published in October, that he used questionable schemes to build his wealth '-- is a sterling example.
But the lure of less demanding labors (''Trump Calls Former Aide a Three-Toed Sloth Minus the Vigor!'') is always there, especially because readers and viewers, no matter how much they complain about the media's shallowness, reward it. What they lap up most readily and reliably is Trump the Baby at the top of the newscast, Trump the Buffoon in the highlights reel, Trump the Bully in the headline. And that's on them.
But it's on us to try to interest them in more and to leaven that concentration of attention with full, vivid introductions to Trump's alternatives. Dozens of Democrats are poised to volunteer for that role, and when we in the media observe '-- as I myself have done '-- that they must possess the requisite vividness to steal some of his spotlight, we're talking as much about our own prejudices and shortcomings as anything else. We can direct that spotlight where we want. It needn't always fall on the politician juggling swords or doing back flips.
It's on us to quit staging ''likability'' sweepstakes '-- a prize more often withheld from female politicians than from male ones. We should buck commercial considerations to the extent that we can and give the candidates' competing visions of government as much scrutiny as their competing talents for quips or proneness to gaffes. Every four years we say we'll devote more energy and space to policy and every four years we don't. But in an environment this polarized and shrill, and at a crossroads this consequential, following through on that vow is more important than ever.
It's on us not to surrender to tired taxonomies that worsen the country's divisions and echo Trump's divisiveness. Black voters, white voters, urban voters and rural voters aren't driven solely by those designations, and the soul of the country doesn't belong exclusively to former factory workers in the Rust Belt.
''Their voices deserve to be heard, but so do the minority voices in urban America,'' Rather said. ''And I think we can do a better job as journalists not to overuse the phrase 'average American,' and also to expand the definition of it.''
The real story of Trump isn't his amorality and outrageousness. It's Americans' receptiveness to that. It's the fact that, according to polls, most voters in November 2016 deemed him dishonest and indecent, yet plenty of them cast their ballots for him anyway.
''Trump basically ran on blowing the whole thing up,'' said Nancy Gibbs, who was the top editor at Time magazine from 2013 to 2017. ''So what was it that the country wanted? It's critically important that we find ways to get at what it is people imagine government should be doing and that we really look at what kind of leadership we need.''
Nicknames have nothing to do with it. So let's not have much to do with them.
I invite you to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter. You can follow me on Twitter (@FrankBruni).
Frank Bruni has been with The Times since 1995 and held a variety of jobs '-- including White House reporter, Rome bureau chief and chief restaurant critic '-- before becoming a columnist in 2011. He is the author of three best-selling books. @ FrankBruni ' Facebook
Biden Has Told Some He's Running
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 13:23
"There are a lot of blogs and news sites claiming to understand politics, but only a few actually do. Political Wire is one of them."
-- Chuck Todd, host of "Meet the Press"
"Concise. Relevant. To the point. Political Wire is the first site I check when I'm looking for the latest political nugget. That pretty much says it all."
-- Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report
"Political Wire is one of only four or five sites that I check every day and sometimes several times a day, for the latest political news and developments.''
-- Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report
"The big news, delicious tidbits, pearls of wisdom -- nicely packaged, constantly updated... What political junkie could ask for more?"
-- Larry Sabato, Center for Politics, University of Virginia
Yellow Jackets
Paris bakery explosion kills 4 people, injures 47 with 10 in critical condition | Fox News
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 14:12
A powerful blast caused by a gas leak at a Paris bakery Saturday killed at least four people and injured at least 47, sparking an all-out emergency response and evacuation of residents.
The explosion and fire blasted out the windows and even overturned cars, French authorities said. The incident occurred over Rue de Trevise in the upmarket 9th arrondissement of north-central Paris, not far from the shopping district that includes the famed headquarters of Galeries Lafayette.
France's interior minister Christophe Castaner said four people were killed, including two firefighters. At least 47 people have also been injured, with 10 in critical condition.
An explosion in French capital Paris on January 12, 2019 caused fire and injuries. (Emily Molli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
''Unfortunately the human toll is particularly serious,'' Castaner told the media. He added that ''the situation is under control'' and described his ''shock'' after seeing the damage.
Around 200 firefighters and police were involved in the emergency operation. A helicopter landed in the area to evacuate the wounded people.
The cause of the explosion appears to be an accidental gas leak, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said, but an investigation was opened to determine the exact cause of the explosion.
He noted that firefighters were already at the scene to check on the gas leak at the bakery before the explosion occurred.
Firefighters respond the scene after A huge blast destroyed buildings and left casualties in French capital Paris on January 12, 2019. (Emily Molli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The explosion caused debris and broken glass to cover the pavement. Some residents also described the loud blast, saying it scared them, fearing it was a terror attack.
An employee of a hotel opposite the bakery said he saw the firefighters entering the bakery about an hour before the blast.
''In the middle of nothing, I heard one big explosion and then a lot of pressure came at me (and) a lot of black smoke and glass,'' the witness said. ''And I had just enough time to get down and cover myself and protect my head.''
Firefighters rest in the street after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris on January 12, 2019. (Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)
He added that the explosion left whistling in his ears. The hotel where he works was ''destroyed'' in the blast, he said.
The explosion occurred amid heavy police and emergency services presence in Paris due to the Yellow Vests protests, when protesters march on the capital every Saturday to show their dissatisfaction with the government.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
America's Electric Grid Has a Vulnerable Back Door'--and Russia Walked Through It - WSJ
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 13:04
One morning in March 2017, Mike Vitello's work phone lighted up. Customers wanted to know about an odd email they had just received. What was the agreement he wanted signed? Where was the attachment?
Mr. Vitello had no idea what they were talking about. The Oregon construction company where he works, All-Ways Excavating USA, checked it out. The email was bogus, they told Mr. Vitello's contacts. Ignore it.
Then, a few months later, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security dispatched a team to examine the company's computers. You've been attacked, a government agent told Mr. Vitello's colleague, Dawn Cox. Maybe by Russians. They were trying to hack into the power grid.
''They were intercepting my every email,'' Mr. Vitello says. ''What the hell? I'm nobody.''
''It's not you. It's who you know,'' says Ms. Cox.
The cyberattack on the 15-person company near Salem, Ore., which works with utilities and government agencies, was an early thrust in the worst known hack by a foreign government into the nation's electric grid. It set off so many alarms that U.S. officials took the unusual step in early 2018 of publicly blaming the Russian government.
A reconstruction of the hack reveals a glaring vulnerability at the heart of the country's electric system. Rather than strike the utilities head on, the hackers went after the system's unprotected underbelly'--hundreds of contractors and subcontractors like All-Ways who had no reason to be on high alert against foreign agents. From these tiny footholds, the hackers worked their way up the supply chain. Some experts believe two dozen or more utilities ultimately were breached.
The scheme's success came less from its technical prowess'--though the attackers did use some clever tactics'--than in how it exploited trusted business relationships using impersonation and trickery.
The hackers planted malware on sites of online publications frequently read by utility engineers. They sent out fake r(C)sum(C)s with tainted attachments, pretending to be job seekers. Once they had computer-network credentials, they slipped through hidden portals used by utility technicians, in some cases getting into computer systems that monitor and control electricity flows.
The Wall Street Journal pieced together this account of how the attack unfolded through documents, computer records and interviews with people at the affected companies, current and former government officials and security-industry investigators.
The U.S. government hasn't named the utilities or other companies that were targeted. The Journal identified small businesses such as Commercial Contractors Inc., in Ridgefield, Wash., and Carlson Testing Inc., in Tigard, Ore., along with big utilities such as the federally owned Bonneville Power Administration and Berkshire Hathaway 's PacifiCorp. Two of the energy companies targeted build systems that supply emergency power to Army bases.
The Russian campaign triggered an effort by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security to retrace the steps of the attackers and notify possible victims. Some companies were unaware they had been compromised until government investigators came calling, and others didn't know they had been targeted until contacted by the Journal.
''What Russia has done is prepare the battlefield without pulling the trigger,'' says Robert P. Silvers, former assistant secretary for cyber policy at Homeland Security and now a law partner at Paul Hastings LLP.
The press office at the Russian Embassy in Washington didn't respond to multiple requests for comment. Russia has previously denied targeting critical infrastructure.
Early victimsIn the summer of 2016, U.S. intelligence officials saw signs of a campaign to hack American utilities, says Jeanette Manfra, assistant secretary of Homeland Security's cybersecurity and communications program. The tools and tactics suggested the perpetrators were Russian. Intelligence agencies notified Homeland Security, Ms. Manfra says.
In December 2016, an FBI agent showed up at a low-rise office in Downers Grove, Ill., less than an hour west of Chicago. It was home to CFE Media LLC, a small, privately held company that publishes trade journals with titles such as ''Control Engineering'' and ''Consulting-Specifying Engineer.''
According to a CFE email, the agent told employees that ''highly sophisticated individuals'' had uploaded a malicious file onto the website for Control Engineering. The agent warned it could be used to launch hostile actions against others.
Steve Rourke, CFE Media's co-founder, says his company took steps to fix the infected site. Before long, though, attackers laced other CFE Media trade publications with malicious content, according to security researchers at Accenture 's iDefense unit and RiskIQ, a San Francisco cybersecurity company, who later analyzed details of the attack.
Like lions pursuing prey at a watering hole, the hackers stalked visitors to these and other trade websites, hoping to catch engineers and others and penetrate the companies where they worked. The Russians could potentially take down ''anybody in the industry,'' says RiskIQ researcher Yonathan Klijnsma.
By planting a few lines of code on the websites, the attackers invisibly plucked computer usernames and passwords from unsuspecting visitors, according to government briefings on the attack and security experts who have reviewed the malicious code. That tactic enabled the Russians to gain access to ever more sensitive systems, said Homeland Security officials in industry briefings last year.
Mr. Vitello of All-Ways Excavating has no idea how the hackers got into his email account. He doesn't recall reading CFE's websites or clicking on tainted email attachments. Nonetheless, the intrusion was part of the Russian campaign, according to the security companies that studied the hack.
On March 2, 2017, the attackers used Mr. Vitello's account to send the mass email to customers, which was intended to herd recipients to a website secretly taken over by the hackers.
The email promised recipients that a document would download immediately, but nothing happened. Viewers were invited to click a link that said they could ''download the file directly.'' That sprang the trap and took them to a website called imageliners.com.
The site, registered at the time to Matt Hudson, a web developer in Columbia, S.C., was originally intended to allow people to find contract work doing broadcast voice-overs but was dormant at the time. Mr. Hudson says he had no idea Russians had commandeered his site.
The day the email went out'--the same day Mr. Vitello's office phone lighted up in Oregon'--activity on the voice-over site surged, with computers from more than 300 IP addresses reaching out to it, up from only a handful a day during the prior month. Many were potential victims for the hackers. About 90 of the IP addresses'--the codes that help computers find each other on the internet'--were registered in Oregon, a Journal analysis found.
It isn't clear what the victims saw when they landed on the hacked voice-over site. Files on the server reviewed by the Journal indicate they could have been shown a forged login page for Dropbox, a cloud-based service that allows people to share documents and photos, designed to trick them into turning over usernames and passwords. It also is possible the hackers used the site to open a back door into visitors' systems, giving them control over their victims' computers.
Once Mr. Vitello realized his email had been hijacked, he tried to warn his contacts not to open any email attachments from him. The hackers blocked the message.
All-Ways Excavating is a government contractor and bids for jobs with agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates dozens of federally owned hydroelectric facilities.
Some two weeks later, the attackers again used Mr. Vitello's account to send a barrage of emails.
One went to Dan Kauffman Excavating Inc., in Lincoln City, Ore., with the subject line: ''Please DocuSign Signed Agreement'--Funding Project.''
Office manager Corinna Sawyer thought the wording was strange and emailed Mr. Vitello: ''Just received this from your email, I assume you have been hacked.''
Back came a response from the intruders who controlled Mr. Vitello's account: ''I did send it.''
Ms. Sawyer, still suspicious, called Mr. Vitello, who told her the email, like the earlier one, was fake.
The attack spreadsOne company that got one of the bogus emails was a small professional-services firm in Corvallis, Ore. That July, FBI agents showed up there, telling employees their system had been compromised in a ''widespread campaign'' targeting energy companies, according to the company owner.
After receiving Mr. Vitello's first bogus email on March 2, a subsequent Homeland Security investigative report says, an employee at the Corvallis firm clicked on the link leading to the hacked voice-over site. She was prompted to enter a username and password. By day's end, the cyberoperatives were in her company's network, according to the report, which hasn't been made public but was reviewed by the Journal.
They then cracked open a portal in the company's firewall, which separates sensitive internal networks from the internet, and created a new account with broad, administrative access, which they hid from view.
''We didn't know about it or catch it,'' says the company's owner.
In June 2017, the hackers used the Corvallis company's systems to go hunting. Over the next month, they accessed the Oregon company's network dozens of times from computers with IP addresses registered in countries including Turkey, France and the Netherlands, targeting at least six energy firms.
In some cases, the attackers simply studied the new targets' websites, possibly as reconnaissance for future strikes. In other instances, the investigative report indicates, they may have gained footholds inside their victims' systems.
Two of the targeted companies had helped the Army create independent supplies of electricity for domestic bases.
On June 15, hackers visited the website of ReEnergy Holdings LLC. The renewable-energy company had built a small power plant that allows Fort Drum in western New York to operate even if the civilian power grid collapses. Fort Drum is the home of one of the Army's most frequently deployed divisions and is under consideration to be the site of a $3.6 billion interceptor system to defend the East Coast from intercontinental ballistic missiles.
ReEnergy, owned by private-equity investor Riverstone Holdings LLC, suffered an intrusion but its generating facilities weren't affected, says one person familiar with the matter. The Army was aware of the incident, said a spokesman, who declined to provide additional details.
That same day, the hackers began hitting the website of Atlantic Power Corp. , an independent power producer that sells electricity to more than a dozen utilities in eight states and two Canadian provinces. In addition to downloading files from the site, the attackers visited the company's virtual private network login page, or VPN, a gateway to the firm's computer systems for people working remotely, the report says.
Atlantic Power said in a written statement it regularly encounters malicious acts but doesn't comment on specifics. ''To our knowledge, there has never been a successful breach of any of the company's systems,'' it said.
Around midnight that June 28, the hackers used the Corvallis company's network to exchange emails with a 20-person carpentry company in Michigan called DeVange Construction Inc. The emails appeared to come from an employee called Rick Harris'--a persona fabricated by the attackers.
DeVange Construction's systems already may have been compromised. Applications to energy companies from nonexistent people seeking industrial-control systems jobs came from DeVange email addresses, according to security experts and emails reviewed by the Journal. Bogus r(C)sum(C)s were attached'--tweaked to trick recipients' computers into sending login information to hacked servers.
The Journal identified at least three utilities that received the emails: Washington-based Franklin PUD, Wisconsin-based Dairyland Power Cooperative and New York State Electric & Gas Corp. All three say they were aware of the hacking campaign but don't believe they fell victim to it.
A DeVange employee says federal agents visited the company. The company's owner, Jim Bell, declined to discuss the incident.
That June 30, the hackers sought remote access to an Indiana company that, like ReEnergy, installs equipment to allow government facilities to operate if the civilian grid loses power. That company, Energy Systems Group Ltd. of Newburgh, Ind., a unit of Vectren Corp. , declines to say whether it was hacked but says it has a robust focus on cybersecurity.
The company's website says one of its customers is Fort Detrick, an Army base in Maryland with a complex of laboratories that defend the nation against biological weapons. Fort Detrick referred questions to Army officials, who said they take cybersecurity seriously but declined to comment further.
As the summer of 2017 wore on, the attackers took aim at companies that help utilities manage their computer control systems. On July 1, the attackers used the Corvallis company to attack two English companies, Severn Controls Ltd. and Oakmount Control Systems Ltd. Next, they attacked Simkiss Control Systems Ltd. also in England, and accessed ''account and control system information,'' according to the government report.
Simkiss's website says it markets tools that allow technicians to have remote access to industrial control networks. Among its customers are big electrical equipment makers and utilities including National Grid , which runs electric transmission lines in Britain and parts of the U.S., where it owns utilities in New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Oakmount, Severn and Simkiss declined to comment, and National Grid says its cybersecurity processes are ''aligned with industry best practice.''
By that fall, the hackers returned to Dan Kauffman Excavating in Oregon, breaching its network on Sept. 18, according to the firm. They appeared to lurk quietly for a month. Then, on the night of Oct. 18, emails blasted out to roughly 2,300 of the company's contacts. The message said, ''Hi, Dan used Dropbox to share a folder with you!'' and contained a link that said, ''View folder.''
Among the recipients: employees of PacifiCorp, a multistate utility; the Portland, Ore.-based Bonneville Power Administration, which runs 75% of the Pacific Northwest's high-voltage transmission lines, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Federal officials say the attackers looked for ways to bridge the divide between the utilities' corporate networks, which are connected to the internet, and their critical-control networks, which are walled off from the web for security purposes.
The bridges sometimes come in the form of ''jump boxes,'' computers that give technicians a way to move between the two systems. If not well defended, these junctions could allow operatives to tunnel under the moat and pop up inside the castle walls.
In briefings to utilities last summer, Jonathan Homer, industrial-control systems cybersecurity chief for Homeland Security, said the Russians had penetrated the control-system area of utilities through poorly protected jump boxes. The attackers had ''legitimate access, the same as a technician,'' he said in one briefing, and were positioned to take actions that could have temporarily knocked out power.
PacifiCorp says it takes a multilayered approach to risk management and that it wasn't compromised by any attack campaigns.
Gary Dodd, Bonneville's chief information security officer, says he doesn't believe his utility was breached, though it appears to have received suspicious emails from both All-Ways Excavating and Dan Kauffman Excavating. ''It's possible something got in, but I really don't think so,'' he says.
The Army Corps says it doesn't comment on cybersecurity matters.
Going publicThe U.S. government warned the public about the hacking campaign in an October 2017 advisory. It attributed it to a shadowy group, sometimes called Dragonfly or Energetic Bear, that security researchers have tied to the Russian government.
In March 2018, the U.S. went further, releasing a report that pinned responsibility for the hostile activities on ''cyber actors'' working for the Russian government, saying they had been active since at least March 2016. Governments generally have shied away from naming countries involved in cyberattacks, not wanting divulge what they know.
In April 2018, the FBI notified at least two companies by letter that they appeared to have received malicious emails from All-Ways Excavating's Mr. Vitello.
One was Commercial Contractors of Ridgefield, Wash., which helped renovate an office for the Bonneville Power Administration. Eric Money, the company's president, says employees thought they had resisted the tainted emails. But the Journal found that a computer with an IP address linked to the company visited Mr. Hudson's hacked voice-over site the day of the attack.
The other company notified by the FBI, Carlson Testing of Tigard, Ore., has done work for utilities including Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp, Northwest Natural Gas and the Bonneville Power Administration.
Vikram Thakur, technical director of security response for Symantec Corp. , a California-based cybersecurity firm, says his company knows from its utility clients and from other security firms it works with that at least 60 utilities were targeted, including some outside the U.S. About two dozen were breached, he says, adding that hackers penetrated far enough to reach the industrial-control systems at eight or more utilities. He declined to name them.
The government isn't sure how many utilities and vendors in all were compromised in the Russian assault.
Vello Koiv, president of VAK Construction Engineering Services in Beaverton, Ore., which does subcontracting for the Army Corps, PacifiCorp, Bonneville and Avista Corp. , a utility in Spokane, Wash., says someone at his company took the bait from one of the tainted emails, but his computer technicians caught the problem, so ''it was never a full-blown event.'' Avista says it doesn't comment on cyberattacks.
Mr. Koiv says he continued to get tainted emails in 2018. ''Whether they're Russian or not, I don't know. But someone is still trying to infiltrate our server.''
Last fall, All-Ways Excavating was again hacked.
Industry experts say Russian government hackers likely remain inside some systems, undetected and awaiting further orders.
'--Lisa Schwartz contributed to this article.
'--Graphics by Joel Eastwood and Angela Calderon
Write to Rebecca Smith at rebecca.smith@wsj.com and Rob Barry at rob.barry@wsj.com
Far right mulls prospects of German 'Dexit' from EU - Channel NewsAsia
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 11:34
RIESA, Germany: Far right party AfD meets from Friday (Jan 11) to decide whether to champion Germany's exit from the EU in their campaign for the upcoming European parliamentary elections, at a time when Brexit is already roiling the bloc.
Members of the anti-immigration party are holding a four-day congress to firm up a manifesto for the May 23 elections, when populists and nationalist groups are expected to make gains across Europe.
AdvertisementIf the party's rank-and-file decides to adopt the "Dexit" plan, the AfD would open another front in its battle against mainstream political classes in Germany as it smashes yet another taboo, after having already openly questioned the country's atonement culture over World War II.
A move to become Germany's Dexit party would also bring it back to its roots - the AfD was founded in 2013 on an anti-euro platform, although it has since shifted focus to champion an anti-immigration ideology.
But such a move could yet prove risky in a country that is still largely pro-European, and the AfD itself too is split on the radical proposal to put 2024 as a date to potentially yank Germany out of the EU.
Advertisement AdvertisementAccording to the party's 58-page campaign strategy for debate at the congress, the AfD will argue that the EU was "developing into an undemocratic structure".
If reforms were not carried out to fix the problems in the next five years, "then an exit of Germany or an orderly dissolution of the European Union and the formation of a new European economic community would be necessary".
Among the reforms the AfD wants to see is a European parliament that is cut down from its current more than 700 deputies to a maximum of 100 representatives.
But the proposals face opposition even from leading members of the AfD, including its main candidate for the European polls, Joerg Meuthen.
"If we're pragmatic, we should assume that we won't be able to implement all our European political demands within five years," he told Welt daily.
"If we say that Dexit is 'necessary', then we'd essentially be binding ourselves to heading towards an EU-exit. I find that wrong," he said, adding he would find it hard to sell the idea to voters.
Historian and political analyst Klaus-Peter Sick believes the AfD could be simply testing the waters with the Dexit proposal.
"The AfD is testing even within its own party to see where its own positions are, but also where its electorate is prepared to go. Because for the AfD, the European elections are not that important, what it is focusing on are really the regional and general elections."
The AfD became Germany's biggest opposition party after winning 13 per cent of the vote in 2017 elections, capitalising on anger against Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to open the door to refugees in 2015.
It has now set its sights on European elections ahead of three key state polls in eastern Germany where it could well top the charts.
With appetite growing for populist policies from Italy and Poland, the vote in May could see nationalist and far-right parties across Europe upend the bloc's balance of power, now dominated by the centre-right.
Yet post-war and reunified Germany remains largely pro-European, with a survey in November showing 67 per cent of Germans voicing optimism about the future of the EU, six percentage points above the average.
And Merkel's decision to step down in 2021 has deprived the AfD of its bogeyman, leaving it stagnating in the polls at around 15 per cent.
At the same time, the AfD itself remains deeply divided between a radical right that is at times close to the neo-Nazi movement, and a more moderate strand.
Underlining the tensions, a key member of the radical faction, Andre Poggenburg, quit the group on Friday to start his own party, saying he could not defend a "patriotic line" adequately if he remained in the AfD.
DRC / Ebola
Suspected Ebola case in Sweden | Free Malaysia Today
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 15:52
The emergency department of the hospital in Enk¶ping, Sweden,on Jan 4, 2019, as it has received a suspected case of suspected Ebola. (AFP pic)STOCKHOLM: A patient in Sweden has been admitted to hospital with a suspected case of Ebola, a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease, health care officials said Friday.
''Test results will probably be received sometime this evening. At this stage it is just a suspicion, other illnesses are entirely possible,'' a statement from regional health authorities in Uppsala, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) north of Stockholm, said.
''The patient is being treated at the infectious diseases clinic at Uppsala University Hospital and is isolated.''
No other details about the patient or how he or she may have contracted Ebola were disclosed.
The patient was first admitted to hospital in the nearby town of Enkoping. The emergency room of that hospital has now been closed, and staff who came in contact with the patient are being cared for, the statement said.
An Ebola outbreak ravaging eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed several hundred lives. It is the 10th such outbreak in the Congo since the disease was first detected there in 1976.
Any Collusion?
EXCLUSIVE: Transcripts of Lisa Page's Closed-Door Testimonies Provide New Revelations in Spygate Scandal
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 14:31
Transcripts of two closed-door testimonies by Lisa Page, the former assistant general counsel at the FBI, have provided new insights into the actions of the FBI, DOJ, and others'--including CIA Director John Brennan'--regarding their investigation into Donald Trump.
Included in the transcripts provided to us is information suggesting Brennan was aware of the so-called Steele dossier in early August 2016, and that he included information regarding the dossier in a briefing given to then-Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Other key points in Page's testimony before Congress:
The FBI appears to have considered investigating President Trump for obstruction of justice both before and after FBI Director James Comey was fired.Page says the DOJ refused to pursue ''gross-negligence'' charges against Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server to send classified information.FBI agent Michael Gaeta, head of the Eurasian Crime Squad, who received the dossier from former MI6 spy Steele in July 2016 is referred to in the transcript as Steele's handler.The FBI maintained a previously unknown verification file for the Steele dossier. Congressional investigators did not previously know of its existence.John Carlin, the head of the DOJ's National Security Division, was kept abreast of the FBI's investigative activities through contact with then-Deputy FBI Director McCabe.Page worked directly for DOJ official Bruce Ohr for at least five years and had met his wife, Nellie, once.The role of FBI Agent Jonathan Moffa and DOJ official George Toscas may have been greater than initially assumed.The interviews with Page were conducted by Congressional lawmakers on July 13 and 16, 2018, in an unclassified setting, with the appropriate agency counsel present to ensure that classified information did not enter into the unclassified setting.
Page testified that she joined the team of special counsel Robert Mueller around May 18, 2017'--and that FBI Agent Peter Strzok was considered for inclusion shortly thereafter. Page's role was to ''bridge the gap and transition between what we as a team knew and the evidence that we had gathered to date on the collusion investigation and sort of imparting that knowledge to the new special counsel team,'' she said.
Page, who acknowledged her personal relationship with Strzok at several points during the interview, noted that initially, Strzok was not ''brought over as the senior executive to run the investigation. Another individual was, and that was not successful. It was not a good match with Mr. Mueller. He did not really have the sufficient counterintelligence background to be effective.'' That individual would later be identified as John Brown.
Page agreed to work for a 45-day trial period, but at the end of that time, she left to spend more time with her children, by her own account. Page left of her own volition and before Inspector General Michael Horowitz notified Mueller (and then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe) of the texts between Page and Strzok.
Page noted that she only traveled abroad once while she worked for McCabe, in December 2016, on official business in London. Strzok traveled with her, as did three other unnamed individuals. One individual that Page specified as not being part of the trip was Bill Priestap, the FBI's head of counterintelligence. Page was prohibited by FBI counsel for detailing the purpose of her visit.
Prior to her work for Deputy FBI Director McCabe, Page worked within the DOJ'--where Bruce Ohr was her direct supervisor for five to six years. Page also met Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr's wife, at a summer barbeque that Ohr held for the office in 2011.
One particularly interesting bit of information is that Page read the memos written by then-FBI Director James Comey almost in real time. As she stated in testimony, ''I reviewed most of them within a day or on the same day that they were created.''
According to Page, others who were privy to Comey's memos included four additional FBI officials, ''Jim Rybicki, Mr. McCabe, Mr. Ghattas, maybe Mr. Bowdich.''
Strzok did not have access to Comey's memos. McCabe also kept memos which Page reviewed, including ''one or two'' that pertained to meetings with President Donald Trump. During questioning, it became apparent that the McCabe memos were ''relevant to the matters that the special counsel is investigating.''
Page Denies Bias, But Says FBI Focussed More on Trump Than ClintonPage steadfastly maintained there was no bias present in either the Clinton-email investigation or the Trump-Russia investigation on the part of anyone within the FBI or the DOJ and went to some lengths to illustrate that, in general, FBI personnel don't like most of the people they tend to investigate.
At the same time, Page repeatedly and openly admitted to placing a greater emphasis and weight on the Trump-Russia investigation than the Clinton-email investigation:
''If you were weighing resources with respect to which poses a graver threat to national security, which is more, frankly, important, there is no doubt'--at least in mine or anybody else's mind that I know'--that the Russia investigation posed an incredible threat to national security, and whether we got into the Weiner laptop simply did not.''
Page returned to this topic several times:
''The notion that there might be more emails that have not previously been seen that existed on Hillary Clinton's email server just simply don't even enter into the realm of the same room of seriousness. The Clinton investigation involved activities that had taken place 3 years prior. It's an entirely historical investigation.''
''In the assessment of the Counterintelligence Division, they still don't even come close to the threat posed if Russia had co-opted a member of a political campaign.''
Although Page admitted to a personal dislike for Trump, she also admitted to a less-than-favorable view of Hillary Clinton, noting that while she did not like then-candidate Trump, she ''wasn't particularly fond or favorable toward Secretary Clinton. Page summed her position up thusly: ''I mean, given a Trump-Clinton race, yes, I was supporting Clinton, but I was not a particularly big fan of hers.''
The role of FBI agent Jonathan Moffa, currently a deputy assistant director at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, may have been greater than previously understood. Page noted that most of the FBI personnel involved in the Clinton and Trump-Russia investigations were separate from each other'--they worked on one investigation or the other.
Strzok and Moffa, both from the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, worked on both investigations, as Page noted:
''Really it's the people that met with Jim Comey. Those are the only people that were really the same with respect to both teams. So it's the same general counsel, the same deputy general counsel, me, Mr. McCabe, Dave Bowdich. The EAD for National Security Branch changed, but that was just because of regular personnel turnover.
''Bill Priestap was the same. Pete was the same. Jon Moffa was the same. But other than that, all of the rest of the personnel were, to the best of my knowledge'--there could have been one or two'--but all of the rest of the personnel on the Clinton team and the Russia team were different.''
DOJ InfluencePage also repeatedly noted a tension between the FBI and DOJ, noting that the DOJ was far more cautious in their approach to matters and was ultimately responsible for the decision not to prosecute in the Clinton Case.
Another aspect that developed in the dynamic between the DOJ and the FBI was pressure from the department to place additional people into the FBI's investigation. Page noted that ''as soon as the planning started to begin to interview some of the more high-profile witness, not just Mrs. Clinton but also Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and her sort of core team, the Department wanted to change the sort of structure and the number of people who were involved.''
In particular, David Laufman, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of counterintelligence for the DOJ's National Security Division at the time, pushed extensively to be present for the higher profile interviews. As Page noted, this quickly spiralled into a problem for the FBI:
''Once we started talking about including David, then the U.S. Attorney's Office also wanted to participate in the interviews, although they had participated in virtually none by that point. And so then the U.S. Attorney's Office was pushing to have the AUSAs [Assistant U.S. Attorney], who were participating in the Clinton investigation, also participate.''
''And so now, all of a sudden, we were going from our standard two and two to this burgeoning number of people.''
Apparently, Laufman felt so strongly that he went to his boss, George Toscas, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the National Security Division, who then approached Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe directly.
The DOJ's ongoing influence was felt in other ways as well. Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, both fact witnesses, were allowed to attend Clinton's interview as her attorneys. As Page admitted, ''I would agree with you that it is not typically appropriate or operationally necessary to have fact witnesses attend the interview.''
The decision to allow attendance of fact witnesses during Clinton's interview came from the DOJ, although Page said she was not certain who had made the decision. She noted that the FBI protested the move but were overridden, so the decision must have come from a senior level within the DOJ.
Disagreements Between the FBI and DOJAs Page noted during her testimony, ''there were lots and lots and lots of disagreements between the FBI and the Department.'' One issue of ongoing contention was Clinton's actual email server:
''There was a great deal of discussion between the FBI and the Department with respect to whether to proceed, obtain the server which housed the bulk of Secretary Clinton's emails, pursuant to consent or pursuant to a subpoena or other compulsory process.''
Additionally, access to the laptops of Clinton's aides and personal lawyers was an area of particular contention:
''There were, I think, months of disagreement with respect to obtaining the Mills and Samuelson laptops. So Heather Mills and'--Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson were both lawyers who engaged in the sorting. Once it had been identified that Secretary Clinton had these emails'--I'm guessing it's pursuant to the FOIA request, but I don't really know'--she'--well, our understanding is that she asked her two lawyers to take the bulk of the 60,000 emails and to sort out those which were work-related from those which were personal and to produce the work-related ones to the State Department.
''They did so. That 30,000 is sort of the bulk of the emails that we relied on in order to do the investigative technique, although we found other emails a jillion other places. We, the FBI, felt very strongly that we had to acquire and attempt to review the content of the Mills and Samuelson laptops because, to the extent the other 30,000 existed anywhere, that is the best place that they may have existed.''
''And notwithstanding the fact that they had been deleted, you know, we wanted at least to take a shot at using, you know, forensic recovery tools in order to try to ensure that, in fact, the sorting that occurred between'--or by Mills and Samuelson was done correctly.''
According to Page, the ongoing dispute with the DOJ ran from ''February/March-ish of 2016'' to June of 2016. Page also noted one other critical factor in the investigation: ''the FBI cannot execute a search warrant without approval from the Justice Department.''
Notably, Page, an experienced lawyer, thought the legal case could be made that the Mills and Samuelson laptops should be made available for forensic examination. As she noted, the frustration within the FBI came, in part, from the DOJ's ''unwillingness to explain their reasoning.''
Page noted that this issue regarding the laptops rose to ''the head of the OEO, the Office of Enforcement Operations, which is the unit at the Justice Department who would have to approve a warrant on a lawyer'--because, of course, these were all lawyer laptops. It rose to that individual, it rose to George Toscas, over the course of this 3 months or so.''
Toscas will also come up in the section below relating to his boss, John Carlin.
Equally important, the issue, at least once, rose even higher:
''I think that even the Director [Comey] may have had a conversation with Sally Yates, the DAG [Deputy Attorney General], about it.''
Page was also critical of the State Department's handling of the affair, noting, ''rather than the State Department itself conducting that analysis of whether or not there was'--or whether these emails were work-related or not, deferred to Secretary Clinton to do that.''
Emails to a Third PartyDuring one exchange, one of the Representatives questioning her noted, ''we have information from the inspector general of the intelligence community '... that there were anomalies that would suggest that there was copies of every email going to a third party '... Is this news to you today?
Page admitted it was and noted it was ''completely baffling to me.''
She was then asked the obvious question: ''why would the investigative team not have had multiple interviews with Mr. Rucker, who brought it to the FBI's attention originally?''
Page responded by saying the following:
''My understanding is that the IC IG [Intelligence Community Inspector General] did refer the existence of the server to the FBI, but that was because of the existence of classified information on that server, not because of any anomalous activity, not because of potential intrusion activity. Because it's not my understanding that the IC IG conducted any sort of forensic analysis like that.''
The questioning continued:
''So what you're telling me, it would surprise you to know today that, if there were anomalies, that the inspector general's forensic team found those before it was referred to the FBI?''
Page responded:
''To the extent that a foreign government or even a criminal outlet had had access to Secretary Clinton's private email server, that would have been something we cared very much about. And it's my understanding that there was no evidence that would have supported that kind of conclusion.''
Page's Commentary on the DOJPage, while never actually accusing the DOJ of direct wrongdoing, also appeared to be no fan of the department. Some commentary from her testimony:
''We all felt that we [the FBI] were more credible than the Justice Department to close this investigation out.''
''We, the whole team, really, felt that the Justice Department, being led by Democrats, would be to essentially absolve the Democratic candidate.''
''She is so loathed, she is a very polarizing figure, Secretary Clinton, and so we all knew it was 100 percent consistent and universal that she was'--there was not a prosecutable case. And we, the FBI, thought that that message was more credible coming from the FBI, who is independent and is not a political sort of body, in the same way that the Justice Department is being headed by political appointees who have closer relationships with the White House.''
Page also discussed the DOJ's reaction to Comey's decision to hold his solitary press conference:
''I don't honestly have the sense that the Attorney General was ultimately disappointed, because it really did let the Justice Department off the hook. Everybody talks about this as if this was the FBI investigation, and the truth of the matter is there was not a single step, other than the July 5th statement, there was not a single investigative step that we did not do in consultation with or at the direction of the Justice Department.''
In relation to then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Page had a notable observation:
''I am not sure she ever formally recused herself. She sort of, I think, did a half step, which I think she's been criticized for, which was that she didn't fully sort of step away from the investigation following the tarmac incident. She said that she would defer to the sort of judgment of the career prosecutor. So I don't'--I wouldn't'--we can call that a recusal if that's how you want to frame it, but I don't know that that legally would be considered one.''
Gross Negligence and IntentOf particular note throughout the interview was the discussion of intent. Page noted that what they were looking for was ''an intent to mishandle classified information.'' She continued, ''I cannot point to anything with respect to what the team uncovered that spoke to her having an intent to mishandle classified information.''
Page spent a fair amount of time describing the legal aspects of the term ''gross negligence'' and why that specific language was removed from Comey's July 5, 2016, exoneration memo of Clinton:
''We neither had sufficient evidence to charge gross negligence, nor had it ever been done, because the Department viewed it as constitutionally vague.''
The reference to the Justice Department would be repeated multiple times with Page noting, ''we had multiple conversations with the Justice Department about bringing a gross negligence charge. And that's, as I said, the advice that we got from the Department was that they did not think'--that it was constitutionally vague and not sustainable.''
This was the rationale as to why ''every single person on the team, whether FBI or DOJ, knew far earlier than July that we were not going to be able to make out sufficient evidence to charge a crime.''
As to whether a charge could be brought under the ''gross negligence'' statute, Page noted ''that's a determination made by the Department [DOJ].'' Notably, this determination was made before Clinton or anyone else had been interviewed by the FBI.
One Representative pointed out that the subject might be able to provide the missing element of intent during a yet-to-be had interview, but Page made clear the full impact of the DOJ's position:
''Let's assume things are going swimmingly and, in fact, all 17 of those witnesses admit, 'We did it, it was on purpose, we totally wanted to mishandle classified information,' gross negligence would still have been off the table because of the Department's assessment that it was vague. We would have other crimes to now charge, but gross negligence would not have been among them.''
Page admitted that it was not entirely clear what the DOJ decision was based on, noting, ''I presume they looked at case law in which it had been applied. I really don't know'...I don't have personal knowledge about what the Department did in order to come to that conclusion.''
When pressed, Page attempted to clarify the FBI's position as investigators, saying that ''at the end of the day, this is the Department's determination. It is up to the Department to determine whether we have sufficient evidence to charge a case.'' Later she was a bit more direct:
''The Justice Department brings charges, and it was the Justice Department's assessment that they did not have'--whether they had'--I don't know whether they had evidence or not of gross negligence but that gross negligence was not available as a statute to bring because it's'--of its constitutional vagueness and its untestedness in court.''
John Carlin's RoleJohn Carlin was an assistant attorney general and head of the DOJ's National Security Division (NSD). He had previously served as chief of staff to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Carlin announced his resignation the day after he filed the Government's proposed 2016 Section 702 certifications. This filing would be subject to intense criticism from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) following disclosures made by NSA Director Mike Rogers. Significant changes to the handling of raw FISA data would result.
Carlin was replaced with Mary McCord''who would later accompany Acting AG Sally Yates to see White House Counsel Don McGahn regarding Trump's National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn.
Page was asked at several points regarding influence from political appointees. At one point in the discussion, she singled out Carlin'--and what she had to say proved interesting:
''I do know that at least John Carlin, for example, who is a political appointee was kept abreast of the sort of investigative activity that was going on. And the only reason I know this is because when there was conflicts between us and DOJ, John might call over to'--John Carlin might call over to Andy McCabe, and sort of make his team's pitch, and then Andy would, you know, sort of the back and forth would go on. So it is clear that John had, was getting some sort of briefing, but he was not, it was, it never occurred by the FBI, which is, in my view, atypical.''
In response to a question asking who was McCabe's direct counterpart at the DOJ on the investigation, Page responded, ''it would have been John. It was either John Carlin or George Toscas who would have, who would have reached out to Mr. McCabe.''
The Congressional staffer who was doing this particular line of questioning appeared to attempt to mitigate the information just revealed by Page:
''Numerous witnesses have confirmed to us that George Toscas, a career prosecutor, was in charge of the day-to-day operation of DOJ on this investigation. And that Carlin and other political folks above him had briefings certainly, so they had knowledge but didn't have input in the investigation.''
''Do you have any personal knowledge of John Carlin, Loretta Lynch, Sally Yates, or other political appointees at the DOJ issuing orders on how to conduct the Midyear investigation?'' Page was asked.
Page answered that she had ''no personal knowledge of that.'' Despite the attempts to shift the conversation, these admissions are notable.
Carlin was a very senior official within the DOJ. He was also Toscas's boss. It was Toscas who was contacted by New York prosecutors (possibly Preet Bharara) involved in the Anthony Weiner investigation regarding the Clinton emails found on Weiner's computer. In response, Toscas contacted McCabe, his counterpart at the FBI, ultimately forcing McCabe to inform Comey of the existence of Clinton emails on Weiner's laptop.
Brennan's RolePage staunchly maintained that any briefings given to the White House were always about the ''Russian active measures effort'' and were not in relation to ''Crossfire Hurricane,'' the FBI's name for their counterintelligence investigation into the Trump-Russia allegations.
Brennan has admitted during congressional testimony that his intelligence helped establish the FBI counterintelligence investigation:
''I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion [or] cooperation occurred.''
This admission is important, particularly since Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) had previously disclosed that no official intelligence was used to open the FBI's investigation.
Brennan's role was highlighted again during testimony, as one Representative questioning Page questioned her in relation to an Aug. 25, 2016, text message: ''What are you doing after the CH brief?'' CH almost certainly referred to ''Crossfire Hurricane.''
Page was asked specifically about an event that occurred on the same day:
''It's the same day that Director Brennan is briefing Harry Reid, is why I ask. And so what you're saying is you were unaware that Director Brennan was briefing Harry Reid that same day?''
Page said she was unaware of Brennan's briefing to Reid. She was then asked the following:
''You give a brief on August the 25th. Director Brennan is giving a brief. It's not a Gang of Eight brief. It is a one-on-one, from what we can tell, a one-on-one briefing with Harry Reid at that point. And it becomes apparent, based on your text messages and based on Director Comey's emails, that you all are aware that that conversation took place. Were you aware that Director Brennan had a briefing with Harry Reid and that you expected a letter from Harry Reid?''
Page noted that she remembered the letter sent by Reid, but seemed confused as to Brennan's involvement and possible knowledge of the Steele dossier. Worth noting is that while some within the FBI likely had parts of the dossier in July, the Counterintelligence investigative team did not receive it until mid-September during a trip to Rome where they met personally with Steele.
The Representative, who was clearly aware of the disparity in timing, focused on precisely how Brennan might have been aware of the dossier in August:
Rep.: So what you're saying is, is that you had no knowledge of these potential unverified memos prior to the middle part of September in your investigation?
Page: That is correct, sir.
Rep.: Okay. So on August 30th, you and Peter are going back and forth, and you go, ''Here we go.'' If you'll look at 9:44:50 on August the 30th, you go, ''Here we go.'' And it's referencing ''Harry Reid Cites Evidence of Russian Tampering in the U.S. Vote and Seeks FBI.'' Now, what happens is, and what I guess gives me a little bit of concern is, if you drop down, that if you drop down to the same day, August 30th, 9:45, it says: ''The D'''--which I assume means Director'--''said at the a.m. brief that Reid had called him and told him that he would be sending the letter.''
Page: Okay.
Rep.: So you get a brief that says, well, we got the letter, but it's almost like it's a coordinated effort between Harry Reid and the FBI Director, because obviously, he's briefing you.
After a bit of back and forth, Page responded, ''I don't know what Harry Reid was told or why or what the purpose of Brennan [was.]''
The Representative pressed on:
''Why would Director Brennan be aware of things that the FBI was not aware of at this particular point when it actually would potentially involve, according to Peter Strzok's word on January 10th of 2017, an unverified salacious set of memos?''
And then the big reveal:
Rep.: We have documents that would suggest that in that briefing the dossier was mentioned to Harry Reid and then obviously we're going to have to have conversations. Does that surprise you that Director Brennan would be aware [of the dossier]?
Page: Yes, sir. Because with all due honesty, if Director Brennan'--so we got that information from our source, right? The FBI got this information from our source. If the CIA had another source of that information, I am neither aware of that nor did the CIA provide it to us if they did, because the first time we '--
Rep.: We do know there are multiple sources.
Page: I do know that. I do know that the information ultimately found its way lots of different places, certainly in October of 2016. But if the CIA as early as August, in fact, had those same reports, I am not aware of'--I'm not aware of that and nor do I believe they provided them to us, and that would be unusual.
Rep.: Were you aware that Christopher Steele had conversations or multiple conversations with Fusion GPS and others outside of just working special intel for you?
Page: As of August of 2016, I don't know who Christopher Steele is. I don't know that he's an FBI source. I don't know what he does. I have never heard of him in all of my life. So let me just sort of be clear. When the FBI first receives the reports that are known as the dossier from an FBI agent who is Christopher Steele's handler in September of 2016 at that time, we do not know who'--we don't know why these reports have been generated. We don't know for what purpose.
A bit later in the discussion, the representative asked another question:
''So you don't know whether it's a coordinated effort to get you those documents or not at that point in September?''
Page responds, ''Coordinated by whom, sir?
Rep.: Anybody, other than a confidential human source saying, ''Listen, I've got reason to be concerned and bring it to you.'' It could be coordinated by the CIA. It could have been coordinated by Fusion GPS. You don't know.
Page: At the time that we received the documentation, no. What we have is the preexisting relationship with the source and the reliability of his prior reporting.
FISA Briefings & White House KnowledgeAt several points, Page noted a frustration on the part of the FBI in relation to the speed with which the DOJ was moving in the FISA spy warrant application process.
When questioned about the need to move swiftly, Page noted, ''there was an operational reason that we were pushing to get the FISA up, which I am not at liberty to discuss.'' Upon further questioning Page tried to provide slightly more clarity, ''we had an operational reason that we wanted to get this thing up quickly with respect to the subject himself.''
According to Page's testimony, she first learned of plans to obtain a FISA warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page approximately a month before the FISA was granted on Oct. 21, 2016.
Page disclosed that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stu Evans was the person within the DOJ who was in charge of the entire FISA process, but notably, the FBI chose not to tell Evans that they had opened a counterintelligence investigation:
''We were so concerned about the fact that we were opening this investigation and we were so concerned about leaks that we were literally individually making decisions about who to tell and who not to tell, because we were trying to keep it so closely held.''
According to Page, the only DOJ official they told was George Toscas, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the National Security Division. Without forewarning to the FBI, Toscas informed Evans in August 2016'--possibly earlier'--of the FBI's newly opened investigation.
The text in question was from Aug. 10, 2016, and was paraphrased by one of the congressional representatives:
''I remember what it was, Toscas already told Stu Evans everything. Sally called to set up a meeting.''
''Sally'' is affirmed in the conversation as Deputy AG Sally Yates.
Page was emphatic that this discussion did not have anything to do with the actual FISA but instead reflected the FBI's concern that increasing numbers of people were learning of their investigation.
Notably, Toscas reported to John Carlin, the head of the NSD, whose actions before the FISA Court in relation to his presentation of the Government's proposed 2016 Section 702 certifications, strongly suggest he was also aware of the FBI's investigation. Carlin appears to have been aware of the FBI's later FISA preparations as well.
The congressional representative then asked the following question:
''What you're saying is when the Director briefed the White House 2 days prior to that, on August the 8th, or prepared for it, actually briefed him on the 10th, that it had nothing to do with any campaign. Even though George Toscas and Stu Evans knew about it.''
Normally, when a member of the FBI uses the word ''Director'' they would be referring to the FBI Director. In this case, while not made absolutely clear in the transcript, it appears ''Director'' refers to CIA Director John Brennan, who had been discussed in the preceding comments relating to Brennan's briefing of Reid.
From Brennan's congressional testimony, we know that he had briefed the White House at some point in early August 2016, prior to Aug. 11:
''In consultation with the White House, I personally briefed the full details of our understanding of Russian attempts to interfere in election to congressional leadership, specifically Senators Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr; and to Representatives Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Devon Nunes and Adam Schiff between 11, August and 6, September.''
Page responded to the question: ''Sir, I would be shocked. I would truly be stunned to discover that the Director had briefed the President on the substance of our investigation or even the existence of our investigation. I would be'--I can't say it didn't happen, I wasn't there, but I would be stunned to discover that.''
Steele's FBI HandlerPage had earlier referenced Steele's handler:
''When the FBI first receives the reports that are known as the dossier from an FBI agent who is Christopher Steele's handler in September of 2016 at that time, we do not know who'--we don't know why these reports have been generated.''
Steele's handler is almost certainly Michael Gaeta, head of the FBI's Eurasian Crime Squad. Gaeta, an FBI agent and also assistant legal attach(C) at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, has known the former MI6 spy since at least 2010, when Steele provided assistance in the FBI's investigation into the FIFA corruption scandal over concern that Russia might have been engaging in bribery to host the 2018 World Cup.
On July 5, 2016, Gaeta traveled to London and met with Steele at the offices of Steele's firm, Orbis. For this visit, the FBI sought permission from the office of Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland, who had been the recipient of many of Steele's reports, gave permission for the more formal meeting.
Nuland provided this version of events during a Feb. 4, 2018, appearance on CBS News' Face the Nation:
''In the middle of July, when he [Steele] was doing this other work and became concerned, he passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding and our immediate reaction to that was, this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian Federation. That's something for the FBI to investigate.''
In September 2016, Steele would travel back to Rome to meet with the FBI Eurasian squad once again. It was at this meeting that Steele gave a copy of his dossier'--what there was of it at that time'--to the FBI counterintelligence team investigators.
One individual who had previous involvement with the Eurasian Crime Squad was former FBI Deputy Director McCabe:
''McCabe began his career as a special agent with the FBI in 1996,'' the FBI states on its website. ''He first reported to the New York division, where he investigated a variety of organized crime matters. In 2003, he became the supervisory special agent of the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force.''
McCabe remained with the Eurasian squad until 2006, when he was moved to FBI headquarters in Washington.
The question that has yet to be answered was who, exactly, did Gaeta give the dossier to and when. Was it transmitted to FBI leadership? If so, why did the counterintelligence team have to travel to Rome in September to get their first copy from Steele.
And finally, potentially the biggest question: Did Brennan receive a copy of the dossier via Gaeta'--or whomever he transmitted a copy to'--in the summer of 2016 following Gaeta's return?
The FBI's Verification File & the Dragon FISAPage testified that as soon as they received the Steele dossier in September, they ''set about trying to prove or disprove every single factual statement in the dossier.'' Page noted that ''to the best of my knowledge, we were never able to disprove any statement in it.''
This seems somewhat odd given that Comey told congressional investigators the Steele dossier still wasn't verified as of May 2017. Additionally, her assertion does not appear to address the generally debunked claim that Cohen was in Prague.
In response to Page's comments, clarification was requested:
Rep.: Ms. Page, are you talking about the Woods file?
Page: I'm not talking about the Woods file. I'm talking about a separate effort that was undertaken in order to try to verify for investigative purposes, not for purposes of the FISA, but a separate effort undertaken to try to validate the allegations contained within the Steele reporting.
It quickly became apparent that this document has not been seen by congressional investigators. One Representative, who noted he has seen the Woods file, was clearly unaware of this file's existence.
This discussion quickly led into another area'--an Oct. 18, 2016, email from Strzok containing the subject line ''Re: Dragon FISA.''
Page quickly noted that she could not discuss the matter in an unclassified setting'--but would be able to discuss the matter with congressional investigators in a classified setting.
The Dragon FISA was referenced in an article by John Solomon in The Hill:
''In one email exchange with the subject line ''Crossfire FISA,'' Strzok and Lisa Page discussed talking points to get then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to persuade a high-ranking DOJ official to sign off on the warrant.
''Crossfire Hurricane'' was one of the code names for four separate investigations the FBI conducted related to Russia matters in the 2016 election.
''At a minimum, that keeps the hurry the F up pressure on him,'' Strzok emailed Page on Oct. 14, 2016, less than four weeks before Election Day.
Four days later the same team was emailing about rushing to get approval for another FISA warrant for another Russia-related investigation code-named ''Dragon.''''
At this point, the potential subject of the Dragon FISA remains unknown.
Page's Russia BiasPerhaps unsurprisingly, Page expressed strong feelings regarding Russia, noting, ''I do always hate the Russians,'' and she singled out the nation as a national security threat far exceeding that of China or North Korea:
''Russia poses the greatest threat certainly to Western ideals of any of our foreign adversaries. And we have vast foreign adversaries. But even the threats that are posed by China or by Iran or North Korea or others doesn't speak to sort of the core of Western democracy, right?''
''It is my opinion that with respect to Western ideals and who it is and what it is we stand for as Americans, Russia poses the most dangerous threat to that way of life.''
Page appeared to be singularly focused on Russia making only one reference to China throughout the entire interview.
Comey's Draft MemoThe end result of the wording in Comey's statement was widely publicized but some of the reporting details were incorrect. The term ''gross negligence'' was not exchanged for ''extremely careless.'' It was simply removed from Comey's initial draft. Page explained, ''extremely careless had already appeared in that draft, and we moved that paragraph up earlier in the draft.''
However, a few questionable elements surrounding Comey's draft were highlighted during questioning. On May 2, 2016, Comey drafted his exoneration letter. On May 3, after learning that Trump would be the GOP nominee, Strzok sent a text noting, ''''Now the pressure really starts to finish the MYE.'' MYE being a reference to the Mid-Year Exam'--the FBI's case name for the Clinton email investigation. The ''gross negligence'' language within Comey's memo was deleted by May 6.
Page claimed this was purely bad timing and bad optics and had nothing to do with Trump's securing of the GOP nomination. By way of reassurance, she noted that the decision to omit the ''gross negligence'' language was the decision of another lawyer'--ranked at the level of GS-15.
One Representative noted the discrepancy immediately:
Rep.: Did any of the other folks that you're referencing in connection with making the change have more prosecutorial experience than Jim Comey?
Page: No.
Rep.: As someone that knows Jim Comey, is he a person that chooses his words carefully?
Page: He is, yeah. But I '--
Rep.: Would he throw around a term like ''gross negligence'' not really meaning gross negligence?
Page did not have a ready answer to this line of questioning, other than to reiterate that the DOJ had made clear the charge was not supportable. Never clarified, was why did Comey choose to include the phrase in the first place. Given the tight sequence of events, the DOJ had surely made the determination not to pursue gross negligence charges prior to Comey's decision to use the phrase anyway.
The Insurance PolicyAnother issue that was brought up several times was the famous Strzok text regarding the ''Insurance Policy'':
''I want to believe the path you threw out in Andy's office'--that there is no way he gets elected'--but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40.''
Page confirmed that Andy referred to Deputy FBI Director McCabe. Page was reminded that the text was sent just 15 days after the FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 2016. Page attempted to provide an explanation, but it came across as less than convincing:
''What this text reflects is our sort of continuing check-in almost with respect to how quickly to operate, what types of tools to use, trying to be as quiet as possible about it because we knew so little about what'--whether this was true or not true or what was going to come, because this is, as you said, so nascent in the investigation, and then ultimately trying to balance that against my view, in this case, which was we don't need to go at a total breakneck speed because so long as he doesn't become President, there isn't the same threat to national security, right.''
Perhaps realizing she'd been less than perfectly clear, Page attempted to clarify her position, noting, ''this reflects: Let's be reasonable, let's not, you know, throw the kitchen sink at this because he's probably not going to be elected, and so then we don't have quite as horrific a national security threat than if we do if he gets elected.''
In fairness to Page, at a later point in the interview, she did manage to provide a somewhat more coherent explanation:
''He's making an analogy here so my suggestion is, let's not, you know, throw the baby out with the bath water, let's sort of be a little bit more cautious with respect to our investigative steps because if he's not President, this plays a less of a threat to our national security.''
''And he is saying, no, we have to, you know, do what we have to do in order to get to the bottom of this because it is like an insurance policy. There is no actual insurance policy. He is making an analogy.''
Kortan's Role in Page's Leaks to the MediaPage said in her testimony that she ''was authorized by Deputy Director McCabe and by Mike Kortan to engage with the reporter [Devlin Barrett] on this topic.'' This refers to a leak by Page to Barrett, who worked at the Wall Street Journal, regarding the FBI's investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
Interestingly, Page highlighted the role of Kortan as assistant director of Public Affairs Office at the FBI. Kortan is mentioned nowhere in the IG's report specific to McCabe, although he is mentioned in the IG's June report. Kortan, who has since retired, was in place during a lengthy sequence of unauthorized disclosures highlighted by the IG's report'--and as Page testifies, had full knowledge of her leaks on behalf of McCabe:
''I agree with you that it is curious that there is no reference in the IG report at all to Mr. Kortan, particularly in light of what I reported, which is that both interactions with the reporter were done with Mr. Kortan, in coordination with Mr. Kortan and with Mr. Kortan at my side. So I cannot explain why there is no'--there is no reference to Mr. Kortan in any testimony, if he did give any, in the IG report.''
Kortan's involvement in Page's authorized leaks to Barrett had not been previously known.
A Possible Obstruction CaseStill another issue mentioned with some frequency were two potentially related texts:
''And we need to open the case we've been waiting on now while Andy is acting.''
''We need to lock in,'' redacted, ''in a formal, chargeable, way.''
Again, Page confirms that Andy is indeed a reference to McCabe. Notably, that text was sent the day after Comey had been fired by Trump. Unfortunately, a certain level of clarity remains lacking as FBI counsel was limited to noting that ''the decision to open the case was not about who was occupying the Director's chair.'' She continued in a somewhat confusingly with, ''if I was able to explain in more depth why the Director firing precipitated this text, I would.''
One Representative kept pursuing the question from multiple angles, asking, ''Was that a fear that someone other than McCabe would eventually be put into that slot?'' Page again consulted with counsel and noted she could not answer that question.
The Representative made the logical observation, ''Well, that leads at least some of us to conclude that it may have been an obstruction of justice case.'' Page responded, ''that's a reasonable inference, sir, but I cannot, sort of, confirm that that's what we are referring to.'' The dialogue continued:
Rep.: So the firing of Jim Comey was the precipitating event as opposed to the occupant of the Director's office?
Page: Yes, that's correct.
Rep.: Well, other than obstruction, what could it have been?
Page: I can't answer that, sir. I'm sorry.
Rep.: Is there anything other than obstruction that it could have been?
Page: I can't answer.
Page maintained that the second text was a separate matter from the first'--but time may have been a factor as it occurred in the days preceding Mueller's appointment as special counsel. Page also claimed not to know exactly what it pertained to:
''My suspicion is, we have either been interviewing some witness or have been getting kind of closer to some target, either we've already had interviews or we haven't.''
''What this is suggesting is, like, we need to start thinking about locking in whomever in a way that might be able to support charges'...my suspicion is that we have somebody who we think is lying'... to the extent we want to be able to charge them for lying, we need to lock them in in a formal way, in a way in which we will be able to support those charges.''
The issue of obstruction came up several times, including a notable exchange that took place during the second day of testimony:
Rep.: Were there discussions about opening an obstruction of justice case or any other case against Donald Trump prior to the firing of Jim Comey on May 9th of 2017, as reflected in the Comey memos?
FBI legal counsel: Congressman, to the extent that goes into the equities of the ongoing investigation that the special counsel is now conducting, I will instruct the witness not to answer.
Normally this line of questioning ends with inferences having to be made, but in this case what appears to be an honest error on the part of Page hinted firmly at the true answer:
Rep.: I don't want any of the details. I just want to know whether there was a discussion about the possibility of opening that prior to the firing of the Director.
Page: Obstruction of justice was not a topic of conversation during the timeframe you have described.
Rep.: Okay. Then '--
Page: I think. One second, sir.
[Discussion off the record.]
Page: Sir, I need to '-- I need to take back my prior statement.
Rep.: Which one?
Page: Whatever the last thing I just said was. Sorry. That there were no discussions of obstruction, yeah. That is '-- I need to take that statement back.
Rep.: So there were?
Page: Well, I think that I can't answer this question without getting into matters which are substantively before the special counsel at this time.
Rep.: Well, I think you've just answered it by not answering it. Was Andy McCabe privy to those same conversations?
Page: I can't answer this substantively, sir. I'm sorry.
Rep.: Well, were these related to some charges, whether obstruction or other charges, potentially against Donald Trump?
Page: I can't'--I can't answer that question, sir, without getting into the substance of matters that are now before the special counsel.
Rep.: Again, I think you're answering it by not answering it.
At a later point in testimony, this issue was potentially further clarified:
Rep.: Comey has admitted that he told the President, I think, that he wasn't under investigation during that timeframe.
Page: That is not inconsistent, sir'...Somebody could not be under investigation, but there still could be discussions about potential criminal activity, and that is totally consistent with FBI policies and would not be unusual with respect to any investigation.
This provides a perfect explanation as to why Comey refused to tell the press that President Trump was not under investigation'--and the nature of the text messages.
The FBI had not placed Trump under any formal investigation'--but they were keeping their ability to do so open, and interim FBI Director McCabe may have been planning to initialize a formal investigation before a permanent director could be appointed.
A question worth asking: What happens if an interim FBI Director opens a formal investigation into a sitting president during a highly politically charged time? Is it then difficult, perhaps impossible, to appoint someone other than McCabe as a new FBI Director, especially given Comey's recent firing?
Jeff Carlson is a CFA® Charterholder. He worked for 20 years as an analyst and portfolio manager in the high-yield bond market. He runs the website TheMarketsWork.com and can be followed on Twitter @themarketswork
Manafort developments trigger new 'collusion' debate
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 11:45
(C) Getty Images Manafort developments trigger new 'collusion' debate The revelation that President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort allegedly shared polling data with a Russian suspected of ties to Kremlin intelligence during the 2016 presidential race has triggered fresh debate about "collusion" in Washington.
Democrats on Capitol Hill see the detail as perhaps the starkest signal yet that the Trump campaign may have coordinated with Moscow to interfere in the election.
But their Republican counterparts, along with the president's attorney, say that's not the case.
"If sharing polling data with your former partner in political races in the Ukraine is collusion, then I guess it is. I don't perceive it as collusion," Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee leading the Russia investigation in the upper chamber, told The Hill.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani in an interview with The Hill dismissed the sharing of the polling information.
"Should he have done it? No. But there's nothing criminal about it," Giuliani said.
Still, the revelation, coupled with new details about a Kremlin-linked lawyer who met with the campaign at Trump Tower during the heat of the presidential race, has raised new questions about the Trump team's links to Russia.
And it has left many wondering what may have been done with the data, which Manafort allegedly handed over to his former business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, amid a burgeoning effort by the Russian government to use hacking and social media to meddle in the presidential vote with the aim of tipping it in favor of Trump over Hillary Clinton.
Manafort's defense attorneys inadvertently disclosed in a court filing Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller had accused their client of lying about sharing polling data with Kilimnik "related to the 2016 presidential campaign." They appeared to acknowledge that the interaction occurred but contested the notion that Manafort lied about it, noting he "was unable to recall specific details" before having his "recollection refreshed" by the special counsel.
The New York Times subsequently reported that Manafort and Rick Gates, his former business partner, sent the data to Kilimnik in spring 2016 and directed him to give it to two Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov. A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment on the Times report.
It remains unclear what was behind the transfer or what Kilimnik may have done with the information, but it has raised accusations from Democrats.
"Clearly, Manafort was trying to collude with Russian agents and the question is, what did the president know?" Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CNN. "What did Donald Trump know about this exchange of information? Did the Russians end up using this information in their efforts that took place later in the fall?"
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), another member of the committee, said the revelation "should set off very big red flags for anyone."
"It looks an awful lot like the definition of collusion, so I think we need to learn everything we can about that," Heinrich said.
Trump, who has vehemently denied that the campaign colluded with Russia, on Thursday said he knew nothing about Manafort sharing polling data with Kilimnik.
Legal experts say that the act of sharing polling data is not a crime in and of itself, but it could be a data point connected to Russia's robust campaign at the time to meddle in the election.
Mueller has already indicted more than a dozen Russian nationals and entities on conspiracy and fraud charges in connection with an elaborate plot to use social media to spread divisive political and social content to U.S. audiences with the aim of sowing discord during the election. And he has charged 12 Russians working for the GRU, the Kremlin's military intelligence agency, with hacking emails of high-level Democrats that were eventually released to the public by WikiLeaks.
"Depending on the context of what was involved in Manafort's reasoning and any quid pro quo, there are possible crimes," said Mark Zaid, a Washington-based lawyer specializing in national security cases. "But the mere fact of turning this over, I don't think there is anything criminal in that."
Zaid noted that handing over polling data could be part of a broader conspiracy to commit an underlying, substantive crime. He also said the revelation could expose associates of the Trump campaign to potential perjury charges if anyone who denied contacts between the campaign and Moscow in meetings with investigators is found to have known about Manafort's actions.
Kilimnik, a Russian national, was the point man for Manafort's consulting business in Kiev and helped him lobby on behalf of pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Mueller indicted Kilimnik alongside Manafort last year for trying to obstruct the investigation by tampering with witnesses. Kilimnik is believed to be out of reach of federal prosecutors in Russia, with which the U.S. does not have an extradition agreement.
Kilimnik has attracted particular attention for his suspected ties to the Russian government. In a filing last March in a related case, Mueller revealed that the FBI believes an individual matching Kilimnik's description - identified only as "Person A" - of having ties to Russian intelligence in 2016. The filing also suggested that Gates, who is cooperating in the investigation, knew Kilimnik to be a former GRU agent, according to testimony from Dutch lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan.
Republicans shrugged off those ties as evidence Manafort was knowingly communicating with the Russian government. When asked about Kilimnik's suspected ties to the GRU, Burr replied, "Name a Russian that's not."
Mueller has also accused Manafort of lying about discussions with Kilimnik regarding a "Ukraine peace plan" as well as a meeting with him in Madrid during the campaign, according to the Tuesday filing, which was improperly redacted so that it revealed details meant to be concealed.
Manafort's attorneys argued he never deliberately lied to the special counsel about his contacts with Kilimnik, noting his mental and physical wellbeing have been impacted by his months in federal prison. He told the truth "to the best of his ability," they wrote.
The court filing came the same day as prosecutors in Manhattan filed charges against Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner in Trump Tower in June 2016, for allegedly obstructing a tax fraud investigation. While unrelated to the Trump Tower meeting, the charges underscored the close ties that Veselnitskaya is believed to have to the Russian government.
Manafort was ensnared in the Russia investigation in October 2017 when Mueller unsealed charges against him related to his foreign lobbying activities. Found guilty of bank and tax fraud in August, Manafort agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller's investigation in September to avert a second federal trial in D.C.
In a filing last April requesting a hearing on media leaks about Manafort's case in Virginia, his attorneys alleged that the special counsel had produced no evidence of communications between Manafort and Russian government officials despite numerous discovery requests and that unauthorized government disclosures to media outlets had unfairly painted the picture of Manafort colluding with the Kremlin. That was before Manafort agreed to cooperate in the investigation.
He is expected to be sentenced in Virginia next month and separately in D.C. in March, proceedings that could shed more light on his engagement with the special counsel. Trump has long maintained Manafort's case has nothing to do with the campaign.
Mueller has conducted the investigation quietly for more than 19 months amid intense public scrutiny and the president's constant attacks on its legitimacy. Some reports have suggested Mueller's final report on his findings could be imminent, while other developments indicate the probe could go on much longer.
Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee continues to press forward in its own parallel investigation, which is entering its third year. The Manafort revelations exposed the first signs that the collusion question could ultimately divide Republicans and Democrats on the committee, despite Burr and Warner going to great lengths to keep the investigation bipartisan.
"When I finish, I'll make a judgment," Burr said, "Based upon the information that I have seen today, I don't see evidence of collusion."
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are planning to revive their investigation into Russian interference, equipped with a newfound majority in the lower chamber that affords them new subpoena and oversight powers as they eye new probes into Trump, his business and administration.
Both committees have signaled they want to hear more from Manafort, who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in July 2017 but whose appearance eluded lawmakers in the House.
WaPo: Trump sought to hide details of conversations with Putin from admin officials - Axios
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 13:16
President Trump has repeatedly sought to conceal the details of his face-to-face conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin from senior officials in his own administration, the Washington Post's Greg Miller reports.
Details: After meeting with Putin in Germany in 2017, Trump reportedly took notes from his own interpreter and instructed them not to discuss the contents of the conversation with other administration officials. This is just one example of what Miller reports is "a broader pattern" of Trump shielding his communications with Putin from the public as well as senior government officials '-- a pattern that has resulted in there being "no detailed record" of his face-to-face meetings with the Russian leader at "five locations over the past two years."
F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia - The New York Times
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 13:26
Image Following President Trump's firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, the bureau grew increasingly concerned about whether the president's actions constituted anti-American activity. Credit Credit Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president's behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.
The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president's own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence.
The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.
Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump's ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president's activities before and after Mr. Comey's firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.
[Trump responds to the Times's report on the FBI investigation via Twitter.]
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it. That inquiry is part of Mr. Mueller's broader examination of how Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with them. It is unclear whether Mr. Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter, and some former law enforcement officials outside the investigation have questioned whether agents overstepped in opening it.
The criminal and counterintelligence elements were coupled together into one investigation, former law enforcement officials said in interviews in recent weeks, because if Mr. Trump had ousted the head of the F.B.I. to impede or even end the Russia investigation, that was both a possible crime and a national security concern. The F.B.I.'s counterintelligence division handles national security matters.
If the president had fired Mr. Comey to stop the Russia investigation, the action would have been a national security issue because it naturally would have hurt the bureau's effort to learn how Moscow interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Americans were involved, according to James A. Baker, who served as F.B.I. general counsel until late 2017. He privately testified in October before House investigators who were examining the F.B.I.'s handling of the full Russia inquiry.
Image The F.B.I. investigated whether the firing of Mr. Comey was a national security threat. Credit Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock ''Not only would it be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security,'' Mr. Baker said in his testimony, portions of which were read to The New York Times. Mr. Baker did not explicitly acknowledge the existence of the investigation of Mr. Trump to congressional investigators.
No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials. An F.B.I. spokeswoman and a spokesman for the special counsel's office both declined to comment.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for the president, sought to play down the significance of the investigation. ''The fact that it goes back a year and a half and nothing came of it that showed a breach of national security means they found nothing,'' Mr. Giuliani said on Friday, though he acknowledged that he had no insight into the inquiry.
The cloud of the Russia investigation has hung over Mr. Trump since even before he took office, though he has long vigorously denied any illicit connection to Moscow. The obstruction inquiry, revealed by The Washington Post a few weeks after Mr. Mueller was appointed, represented a direct threat that he was unable to simply brush off as an overzealous examination of a handful of advisers. But few details have been made public about the counterintelligence aspect of the investigation.
The decision to investigate Mr. Trump himself was an aggressive move by F.B.I. officials who were confronting the chaotic aftermath of the firing of Mr. Comey and enduring the president's verbal assaults on the Russia investigation as a ''witch hunt.''
A vigorous debate has taken shape among some former law enforcement officials outside the case over whether F.B.I. investigators overreacted in opening the counterintelligence inquiry during a tumultuous period at the Justice Department. Other former officials noted that those critics were not privy to all of the evidence and argued that sitting on it would have been an abdication of duty.
The F.B.I. conducts two types of inquiries, criminal and counterintelligence investigations. Unlike criminal investigations, which are typically aimed at solving a crime and can result in arrests and convictions, counterintelligence inquiries are generally fact-finding missions to understand what a foreign power is doing and to stop any anti-American activity, like thefts of United States government secrets or covert efforts to influence policy. In most cases, the investigations are carried out quietly, sometimes for years. Often, they result in no arrests.
Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counterintelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.
Other factors fueled the F.B.I.'s concerns, according to the people familiar with the inquiry. Christopher Steele, a former British spy who worked as an F.B.I. informant, had compiled memos in mid-2016 containing unsubstantiated claims that Russian officials tried to obtain influence over Mr. Trump by preparing to blackmail and bribe him.
In the months before the 2016 election, the F.B.I. was also already investigating four of Mr. Trump's associates over their ties to Russia. The constellation of events disquieted F.B.I. officials who were simultaneously watching as Russia's campaign unfolded to undermine the presidential election by exploiting existing divisions among Americans.
''In the Russian Federation and in President Putin himself, you have an individual whose aim is to disrupt the Western alliance and whose aim is to make Western democracy more fractious in order to weaken our ability, America's ability and the West's ability to spread our democratic ideals,'' Lisa Page, a former bureau lawyer, told House investigators in private testimony reviewed by The Times.
''That's the goal, to make us less of a moral authority to spread democratic values,'' she added. Parts of her testimony were first reported by The Epoch Times.
And when a newly inaugurated Mr. Trump sought a loyalty pledge from Mr. Comey and later asked that he end an investigation into the president's national security adviser, the requests set off discussions among F.B.I. officials about opening an inquiry into whether Mr. Trump had tried to obstruct that case.
But law enforcement officials put off the decision to open the investigation until they had learned more, according to people familiar with their thinking. As for a counterintelligence inquiry, they concluded that they would need strong evidence to take the sensitive step of investigating the president, and they were also concerned that the existence of such an inquiry could be leaked to the news media, undermining the entire investigation into Russia's meddling in the election.
After Mr. Comey was fired on May 9, 2017, two more of Mr. Trump's actions prompted them to quickly abandon those reservations.
The first was a letter Mr. Trump wanted to send to Mr. Comey about his firing, but never did, in which he mentioned the Russia investigation. In the letter, Mr. Trump thanked Mr. Comey for previously telling him he was not a subject of the F.B.I.'s Russia investigation.
Even after the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, wrote a more restrained draft of the letter and told Mr. Trump that he did not have to mention the Russia investigation '-- Mr. Comey's poor handling of the Clinton email investigation would suffice as a fireable offense, he explained '-- Mr. Trump directed Mr. Rosenstein to mention the Russia investigation anyway.
He disregarded the president's order, irritating Mr. Trump. The president ultimately added a reference to the Russia investigation to the note he had delivered, thanking Mr. Comey for telling him three times that he was not under investigation.
The second event that troubled investigators was an NBC News interview two days after Mr. Comey's firing in which Mr. Trump appeared to say he had dismissed Mr. Comey because of the Russia inquiry.
''I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it,'' he said. ''And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself '-- I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won.''
Mr. Trump's aides have said that a fuller examination of his comments demonstrates that he did not fire Mr. Comey to end the Russia inquiry. ''I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people,'' Mr. Trump added. ''He's the wrong man for that position.''
As F.B.I. officials debated whether to open the investigation, some of them pushed to move quickly before Mr. Trump appointed a director who might slow down or even end their investigation into Russia's interference. Many involved in the case viewed Russia as the chief threat to American democratic values.
''With respect to Western ideals and who it is and what it is we stand for as Americans, Russia poses the most dangerous threat to that way of life,'' Ms. Page told investigators for a joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committee investigation into Moscow's election interference.
F.B.I. officials viewed their decision to move quickly as validated when a comment the president made to visiting Russian officials in the Oval Office shortly after he fired Mr. Comey was revealed days later.
''I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,'' Mr. Trump said, according to a document summarizing the meeting. ''I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.''
Follow Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos on Twitter: @adamgoldmanNYT, @nytmike and @npfandos.
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True Crime Podcasts
How true-crime podcasts find clues the police miss - BBC News
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 16:08
Image copyright SUPPLIED Image caption Lynette Dawson, a mother of two, was last seen in 1982 On paper it was an old story, told many times over the years.
In the early 1980s, Sydney housewife and mother-of-two Lynette Dawson suddenly disappeared. Over the next 30 years, police searched fruitlessly for her.
But now, exactly 37 years after her husband Chris Dawson said he last saw her, investigators may finally be closer to finding out the truth.
Last month, police finally made an arrest in the case: Lynette's husband. He has always denied any involvement.
It is hard to say exactly what prompted this latest development, but more than a few people have pointed towards a podcast released in May 2018.
The Australian's series The Teacher's Pet - which reinvestigated the case in huge detail and uncovered new witnesses and evidence - caught the attention of millions of people around the globe.
As yet, it is unclear exactly what role, if any, the podcast played. After all, police had been conducting their own reinvestigation for the past three years.
However, many have been left wondering: if not for the work done by journalist Hedley Thomas and his team, would they have jumped into action so quickly?
'We're not law enforcement'It is not the first time it's been suggested that a wildly-successful podcast has had an impact on the justice system.
Years before The Teacher's Pet became a must-hear, Serial was essential listening. It focused on the conviction of Adnan Syed, who was jailed for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee back in 2000, and ended with a retrial being ordered.
In 2018, it was the turn of another US podcast, In the Dark, to raise questions about a murder conviction. The show's second season told the story of Curtis Flowers, a black Mississippi man tried six times for the same crime by the same white prosecutor.
That a man could be tried six times for the same crime seems shocking in itself, but more shocking still were the allegations of racial bias, and shifting witness statements - which kept listeners hooked.
Image copyright In The Dark Image caption Curtis Flowers has been in prison since 1997 The US Supreme Court is now due to hear Flowers' sixth appeal. If that fails, his lawyers will take the case back to the Mississippi Supreme Court - this time aided by the podcast's discoveries.
However, In the Dark's Madeleine Baran says she and her team were not - and had never been - "trying to solve the crime".
"We are not law enforcement," she stresses.
It may be for just that reason that podcasts do manage to turn up evidence - or pull apart what were once believed to be cast-iron truths - missed by officials.
"We have an advantage in that we're not the prosecutor and we are not the defence," Baran says. "That is really important - you need to be calm with factors going either way."
You also, of course, need to tell a good story - good enough to capture the attention of everyone from truck drivers to joggers.
Last hopeThere was no suggestion Police Scotland had done anything wrong in its investigation into the murder of Alistair Wilson, the father-of-two shot dead on his doorstep in the sleepy seaside town of Nairn 13 years ago.
But the fact it remained unsolved so many years later caught the attention of BBC journalist Fiona Walker, the reporter behind last year's hit podcast The Doorstep Murder.
"I think everybody wants the crime to be solved, but after 13 years people had lost faith in the official process," she explained.
"They felt our investigations unit was a way of taking another serious look at it."
Image copyright PA Image caption The mystery of why Alistair Wilson, pictured with his wife Veronica, was killed remains unsolved Baran recognises this loss of trust in the authorities: she certainly saw it in Mississippi.
"The people talking to us had been really treated poorly by the whole process," she said. "They did not want to talk. They were not easy to get to talk."
In fact, Baran and her team would spend a year living in the town, building trust, returning over and over to speak to people, teasing out their recollections.
For Walker, a tip-off from a source who did not trust the police was the opening she needed to get started on her own investigation.
Read more: "The source had this breadth of information and he needed to off-load it," she said. "He had knowledge, a social conscience. But at the same time, he was genuinely scared for his life."
This access to people who might otherwise not speak to officials connected with the case can give these podcasts an edge.
"People have felt they can come forward to me who are not coming forward to the police," Walker acknowledges. "It is easier to approach me. I've invited them to approach me."
But both journalists point to other factors as well: time, and a determination to leave no stone unturned.
Image copyright Ben Depp for APM Reports Image caption Curtis Flowers' parents Archie and Lola spoke at length to Baran and her team For Walker, that meant having patience during "months and months" of little to no movement as she waited for people to decide to talk.
For Baran, it meant re-treading old ground, pushing every contact, and - at one point - digging through piles of prison booking-in cards in an abandoned plastic factory on the off-chance it might contain the one piece of information she was missing.
It was only later, looking at photos, they discovered they had hit the jackpot.
"We realised one of these cards was this name that we have been trying to find for a year - among all these mouse droppings."
Of course, there are pitfalls too: the potential for a so-called "trial by media", as thousands of armchair detectives try to work out exactly whodunit, is not insignificant. Could the information the podcast puts out potentially end up prejudicing or damaging a future trial?
Turning the tideAnd yet, even the police have cottoned onto the medium as a way solve crimes.
In California, Newport Police Department's Jennifer Manzella hit on the idea as a way to help them track down Peter Chadwick - a millionaire property developer they allege killed his wife back in 2012. He skipped bail in January 2015.
Mr Chadwick presented Newport PD with a relatively unique problem, in that his wealth meant "he has the resources to be anywhere in the world", Manzella explained.
Image copyright Newport Police Department Image caption Peter Chadwick (left) allegedly killed his wife Quee Choo in 2014, before fleeing on bail So getting the story out far and wide was imperative - and there was only one medium Manzella could think of with the power to do just that: a podcast.
And it worked. The afternoon Newport PD unveiled Countdown to Capture, there were "dozens" of tips. More followed, and continue to drip in even now, months later.
"We could never have anticipated the amount of interest. They came forward in their droves," Manzella says.
"We have gone years without getting any tips. We had done national television appeals and got no tips, or maybe one."
It has given everyone hope - not least his wife's family.
"He is living in somebody's community somewhere," Manzella told the BBC. "We just need people to tell us."
Her words are almost echoed by Det Supt Gary Cunningham, the man leading the investigation into Alistair Wilson's death back in Scotland: "Someone out there knows why Alistair Wilson was killed and who was involved in his murder."
Neither Newport PD nor the BBC's podcasts have helped solve the case - yet. There is still the chance they may prove key.
"The podcast is not fleeting: it is continuing to reach new people and at any point there might be that one person with the information to solve it," Walker points out.
But that also means any further developments will also be scrutinised closely by millions who now feel they have a stake in the story - and there is nothing like the expectation of millions to focus the mind.
First Orders of 2019: Xi Warns PLA be Ready for 'Hardship, Crisis and Battle'
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 05:24
Sputnik News
02:20 13.01.2019
During his first official address of the new year to the nation's military forces, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday ordered the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the country's armed forces, to prepare for battle.
"All military units must correctly understand major national security and development trends, and strengthen their sense of unexpected hardship, crisis and battle," Xi said on state-owned Chinese television.
In addition, the leader approved the first military command of 2019, involving more complex training and exercises, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
China's armed forces must "prepare for a comprehensive military struggle from a new starting point," Xi said, adding that "preparation for war and combat must be deepened to ensure an efficient response in times of emergency."
Following the ascension of Xi to the presidency of the Central Military Commission (CMC), a national defense organization of the Communist Party of China, he has consistently urged the PLA to enhance combat readiness.
Earlier this week, the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, noted in an article that "there was no time for slacking in war preparation," leading Beijing watchers to note the leader's more strident rhetorical tone.
According to Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong, Xi's "high-profile gestures" may be intended to serve as warnings to Taiwan.
China considers self-governing Taiwan to be part of its territory and claims sovereignty over the island.
Taiwan, however, still bears the name of the pre-communist-era Republic of China, a political group whose territorial control was confined to the island at the conclusion of a civil war in 1949, when the People's Republic of China was established in Beijing on the mainland.
"[They] show how seriously Xi is taking China's military training and its preparations for war, while also flexing its strength," Ni asserted, cited by SCMP.
The new military commands signed by Xi focus on improving combat readiness, troop inspections and resistance exercises, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
"China is increasing its military training so that it has the best solutions for the worst outcomes, either related to the US or across the [Taiwan] strait," Yue Gang, a retired PLA colonel, told SCMP, suggesting that Xi's desire to enhance military readiness may also be due to political tension between the US and China.
"Over the coming year, the US might use Taiwan and the South China Sea as bargaining chips to get what it wants from China with regards to the trade war," Yue suggested.
"And there is always the possibility of increased independence calls from Taiwan," he added.
‚(C) Sputnik
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Evil Corp
Jeff Bezos Shared Wife's Pillow Talk With Mistress Lauren Sanchez
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 05:33
RANDY tech tycoon Jeff Bezos shared bedroom talk with his long-suffering WIFE to his MISTRESS '-- as the suspecting spouse began to question him about their affair.
In another blockbuster text message exchange obtained by The National ENQUIRER, braggadocios billionaire Bezos confided to his lover Lauren Sanchez, the wife of powerful Hollywood mogul Patrick Whitesell, in September:
MacKenzie dreamt I redecorated the bedroom.
I kept doing it and it got weirder and weirder and weirder.
Until I was sewing stuffed turtles into the comforter.
Wife said: ''That's not hard to interpret.''
The disclosure of his ''pillow talk'' text shatters Bezos' insistence that his illicit affair did not torpedo his $144 billion marriage to the woman who helped him start Amazon and said 'I do' to 25 years ago.
PHOTOS: Lauren Sanchez: Jeff Bezos' Mystery Mistress Hid In Plain Sight
It also paints a stark picture of MacKenzie as a wife betrayed by her husband.
Turtles in a dream are supposedly an indication of closed personality and suggest a period of slow progress in someone's life.
''Around the time, MacKenzie also started to use brighter lipsticks and wear tighter dresses to try and win back Jeff's attention,'' a source explained.
In another text, sent on Sept. 11, the horndog honcho praised mom-of-three Sanchez for advising him to contact rocker Bono of U2!
''Lauren, I'm in love with you. Deep. I know it sounds strange, but even little things like you suggesting I ask for extra training from Bell make my love for you expand and grow,'' he wrote.
''Makes me think of when you told me to ask Bono for music permission.
''Your energy and ideas and competence and spirit turn me on.''
It is not specifically known what Bezos wanted from Bono, but the U2 front-man and lead guitarist The Edge invested in on-demand Seattle-based trucking firm with Bezos and Bill Gates in May last year.
This chatter also raises serious questions about Bezos's judgment as the CEO of the most valuable company in the world.
''He makes such big decisions at work and yet is like a teenager with his mistress. What could his board of directors be thinking now?'' one industry observer noted.
The full message '-- during which Bezos tells his lover she was ''meant for him'' '-- reads as follows:
I am so full of love for you.
My heart is growing just so it can have room for you.
It's bigger than it's ever been and still swelling.
Lauren, I'm in love with you. Deep. I know it sounds strange, but even little things like you suggesting I ask for extra training from Bell make my love for you expand and grow.
Makes me think of when you told me to ask Bono for music permission.
Your energy and ideas and competence and spirit turn me on.
You make me better.
You're meant for me.
I know it more clearly than I've ever known anything.
As The Enquirer previously reported, Bezos sent a close-up of a ''below-the-belt'' selfie and several shirtless shots to the former TV anchor Sanchez months before the new couple said they started dating.
On June 1, 2018, he sent a loving message that read: ''You know what I want? I want to get a little drunk with you tonight. Not falling down. Just a little drunk. I want to talk to you and plan with you. Listen and laugh '... I basically WANT TO BE WITH YOU!!! Then I want to fall asleep with you and wake up tomorrow and read the paper with you and have coffee with you.''
A source told The Enquirer the real reason behind Bezos' public position that he had separated from MacKenzie before he hooked up with Sanchez is to protect his children who were unaware their father had begun another relationship.
But there is a lot at stake in the divorce with Wall Street reacting '' albeit mildly '-- to the scandalous developments at Amazon this week.
With millions of Americans having a vested interest in the e-commerce giant, investors are watching closely the high-flying stock that was down almost one percent Friday.
The New York Post reported:
Theoretically, MacKenzie Bezos could use her half of the 16 percent Amazon stake '-- which she appears to be entitled to under Washington state law '-- to wage a noisy shareholder battle against her soon-to-be ex-husband, as well as the company's board.
Among the potential beefs: Conflict-of-interest concerns raised by a National Enquirer report this week that Bezos hired Lin-Manuel Miranda to direct an Amazon Super Bowl commercial and insisted that his alleged mistress, former ''Extra'' anchor Lauren Sanchez, be on the production team.
While the possibilities are endless, most experts think such calamities are unlikely. That's despite the fact that the breakup comes amid shocking reports this week about Jeff Bezos' reported affair with Sanchez, including allegations that he sent her a slew of steamy texts and pictures.
For more shocking photos of the pair and all the details about the largest investigation in Enquirer history, pick up a copy of a special edition of the magazine, on newsstands around the country now.
VIDEO - Thousands flood French streets in ninth week of 'gilets jaunes' protests - YouTube
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 16:20
VIDEO - GM says 2018 earnings exceeded expectations and 2019 looks even better
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 16:02
General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the automaker's full-year 2018 earnings exceeded its previous expectations and 2019 is looking even better, citing strong sales in China and high demand for its truck and utility vehicles in the U.S.
"From a 2018 perspective, it is not only a focus on really capitalizing on the new trucks we have out there, the light-duty trucks, but also the focus on cost reduction so it was across the board. Every element of the company," Barra told CNBC's Phil LeBeau.
The largest U.S. automaker had previously told investors it expected 2018 adjusted earnings of between $5.80 and $6.20 a share and adjusted automotive free cash flow of $4 billion. It now expects to surpass those projections and painted an even better picture of 2019, Barra said Friday.
She forecast diluted adjusted earnings per share of between $6.50 to $7 and adjusted automotive free cash flow of $4.5 billion to $6 billion for 2019.
GM's shares were up 8 percent midmorning Friday.
Barra also said GM tightened its belt last year, helping to boost earnings. She announced several plant closures and 14,000 job cuts in November. The reorganization is estimated to save about $6 billion by the end of 2020, with about half of those cost savings realized by the end of 2019, the company said at the time.
Barra said the job cuts were a "proactive" move in an otherwise strong labor market.
"We have been transparent with the [United Auto Workers union], helping them and making sure they understand the business and that customers' preferences are changing," she told reporters on a call Friday morning.
GM plans to expand its footprint overseas with a global family of vehicles it is set to launch in China this year, Barra said on the call. She said GM has 20 new or updated products coming out in China.
"When you step back and look at China, we have been there for 20 years, we have had tremendous success, we have very strong brands," she told LeBeau. "We think that the trade talks that are going on right now are very constructive, the fact they have extended this round to have even more discussion, the next is already scheduled, we know there is discussion of durable goods stimulus in country that we think will apply to autos."
Cadillac will become the company's lead electric vehicle brand, it said. GM is projecting just more than 17 million in total U.S. vehicle sales in 2019 and 27 million in China '-- about flat from 2018. She said annual auto sales in China will eventually climb to 30 million.
Correction: GM is the largest U.S. automaker. An earlier version misstated its status.
WATCH: CNBC's full interview with General Motors CEO Mary Barra
VIDEO - 'NewsGuard' app gives news sites 'trust' ratings & targets alternative media. What could go wrong? '-- RT USA News
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 15:53
Another day, another effort to combat 'fake news' online. This time it's NewsGuard, a new app claiming to help defend against "disinformation" by adding 'trust rankings' to news websites. But can the app itself be trusted?
Color-coded system with (potentially) no escapeNewsGuard rates the news using a color-coded ranking system designed and monitored by a ''SWAT team'' of analysts who it claims have no ''political axes to grind.'' So far, the app has rated more than 2,000 popular news websites, but plans to eventually provide ratings for the 7,500 most-read news and information sites in the US, before ultimately going global.
The app uses "9 criteria" to determine whether a particular site is rated green, yellow or red. To attain a green rating, a site must gather and present information "responsibly," must not publish "false content," and must clarify and correct errors. Avoiding ''misleading headlines'' and disclosing ''ownership and financing'' can also help secure a green rating, or ''nutrition label'' as NewsGuard refers to its assessments.
Partnering with Microsoft, NewsGuard is trying to have its rankings installed by default in US public school and university libraries, as well as on smartphones and computers. Hawaii is the first US state to have installed NewsGuard on its public library computers.
NewsGuard claims on its website that it ''will be available on mobile devices when the digital platforms such as social media sites and search engines or mobile operating systems add our ratings and Nutrition Labels directly.'' In other words, plans are afoot to get NewsGuard integrated into social media sites like Facebook and Twitter directly, rather than NewsGuard remaining a downloadable app that people can choose to use or not.
Also on rt.com 'Land of censorship & home of the fake': Alternative voices on Facebook and Twitter's crackdown But is it really that simple?The NewsGuard app has a seemingly benign goal; to ''restore trust and accountability'' in journalism. Sounds good, doesn't it? A closer look at the project, however, reveals that NewsGuard's definition of ''unreliable'' news, along with its dodgy investors, advisors, and corporate partners are highly questionable.
An in-depth report by MintPress claimed that NewsGuard is ''funded by and deeply connected to'' the US government while trying to retain a public image of being a dispassionate and unbiased arbiter of truth and reliability in the media. Contacted by RT, NewsGuard said that it has received "no" government funding. Even a cursory look at its leadership, however, reveals former US government officials '' including the chief of both NSA and CIA.
EXCLUSIVE: As Newsguard's project advances, it will soon become almost impossible to avoid this neocon-approved news site's ranking systems on any technological device sold in the United States. @_whitneywebbhttps://t.co/ftH6QnVlDn
'-- MintPress News (@MintPressNews) January 9, 2019NewsGuard has received wide praise from mainstream outlets in recent months. The Boston Globe described it as a tool which "helps stand guard against fake news,'' while TechLife hailed NewsGuard's founders as the "Guardians of the (Online) Galaxy.''
Who is behind NewsGuard?So, who are these guardians of truth, exactly? NewsGuard was co-founded by veteran journalist Steven Brill, who also founded the American Lawyer magazine, and Louis Gordon Crovitz who was previously the executive vice president of Dow Jones and has edited books for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation '-- two neoconservative think tanks which were heavily involved in promoting the Iraq war.
Heritage and the AEI, are linked to the US defense industry and have also been involved in pushing for the expansion of US military action in countries like Syria and Libya.
Crovitz himself, as noted by MintPress, has been accused of ''repeatedly getting his facts wrong'' in his Wall Street Journal articles and even his own sources have taken him to task over ''fantastically false claims.''
NewsGuard also has a number of ''advisors'' which might raise eyebrows. Among them are Tom Ridge, a former Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, former CIA director Michael Hayden and Richard Stengel, a former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy under Barack Obama and now ''distinguished fellow'' at the US arms manufacturer-funded Atlantic Council think tank. Stengel admitted that some people described his former post at the State Department as akin to being the ''chief propagandist'' for the US government.
Wow, this is the advisory board for NewsGuard, the corporate media's favorite new "fact-checking," "anti-fake news" platform:'--CIA/NSA director'--Homeland security secretary'--Undersecretary of state for public diplomacy'--White House communications directorhttps://t.co/PtLYohaeJ2pic.twitter.com/bSGPUmEpWZ
'-- Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) January 10, 2019Hypocrisy and MSM biasThis website, RT, received a 'red' rating on trustworthiness from NewsGuard. One of the reasons cited by the app is that RT articles usually "do not name the author." There are other news sites, however, that do not name authors. The Economist is a well known example of a publication which does not add bylines to stories. Yet, installing the app, it is easy to check that The Economist gets a 'green' rating when it comes to content creator transparency.
NewsGuard also pointed out that two former RT hosts resigned after being unhappy with the channel's editorial slant, but makes no mention on its MSNBC rating that multiple hosts from that channel have either resigned, been fired or pushed out for failing to adhere to its pro-establishment editorial line.
Look at how a US government-funded website is rated on 'trustworthiness' by the Big Brother-style NewsGuard app vs. how they rate RTðŸ¤--Would it shock you to learn that NewsGuard has deep connections to the US government? 🂠pic.twitter.com/EdbfVz22EY
'-- Danielle Ryan (@DanielleRyanJ) January 10, 2019RT asked NewsGuard to provide examples of the so-called ''false content'' published by RT, but was simply referred to the public ''nutrition label'' where no clear examples of false content are available.
Then there is the mainstream media bias. The New York Times has a ''green'' rating, despite incidents like this week's ''Russiagate'' scoop, in which the paper cited an anonymous source to assert former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort shared poll data with ''a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin.'' Sure, the Times eventually issued a correction '' it was two Ukrainian oligarchs '' which basically made the bombshell report a dud, but not before it had already gone viral in #Resistance circles and cable news channels.
Also on rt.com Collusion with'... Ukraine? NY Times corrects its bombshell 'Russiagate' report The Guardian also enjoys a ''green'' rating, despite the whopper of a story from November claiming that Manafort (yes, ''Russiagate'' again) secretly met with WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange three times over the past several years. The story was debunked by both protagonists who threatened to sue the newspaper for libel. Manafort said he had never met Assange or anyone connected to him, and was not even contacted by anyone connected to WikiLeaks, ''either directly or indirectly.'' However, six weeks and counting, no apology, no retraction, no explanation.
And what of CNN? The network's obsession with President Donald Trump has forced it to eat crow several times since 2016 '' including retracting one story and firing its authors. In another instance, CNN relied on an anonymous source to run a bombshell report about the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, only to be burned when the date on the email was shown to be completely wrong. CNN's NewsGuard rating? Green, of course.
Does it make sense to trust a US government-linked news rating app? Not according to RT writer Bryan MacDonald, who said that such an app "will obviously only penalise news outlets which threaten the official US narrative on events.'' It is inevitable that all news outlets, including RT, will occasionally make mistakes, MacDonald said '-- but if RT made one mistake a week and the New York Times or CNN made 10, they'd still be given a higher trust rating because their reportage "suits the official line."
Also on rt.com Debunked: How VoA journalist pushed fake news story on 'Russian tanks crossing into Ukraine' Privacy activist and technology expert Bill Mew said that apps which rely on "some level of automation" and algorithms have the "potential to be unbiased" if they are trained correctly. If not, "there is always the risk of some form of inherent bias."
NewsGuard claims, however, that it is not algorithm based, but human-based, using a team of real people to decipher the credibility of individual sites, which would seem to make it even more susceptible to bias, not less, as it claims.
Transparency & conflicts of interest?With its links to the US government and national security state, it should already be clear that NewsGuard is not as objective as it claims to be, but there are indeed even more reasons to be concerned about potential conflicts of interest. One of the company's biggest investors is the Publicis Groupe, which boasts clients like Merck, Pfizer, Bayer Monsanto, McDonalds and Procter & Gamble.
Haha Microsoft is partnering with NewsGuard '-- whose advisory board consists almost entirely of former top US national security state operatives '-- to supposedly fight "fake news"https://t.co/2oYJIMYNha
'-- Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) January 10, 2019This makes the possibility and probability of commercial bias ''more than obvious and most probably guaranteed,'' according to legal and media analyst Lionel. ''What do you think would be the chances of the publication of a story that refuted the efficacy of a sponsored item or service? Nil. Zip. Nada,'' he said.
Targeting alternative mediaOne of the most disturbing aspects of NewsGuard is that not only does it go after alternative news sites with its color-coded rankings, it also wants to hit them financially by targeting the online revenue they earn from advertising.
In conjunction with NewsGuard, there is now 'BrandGuard' which purports to help advertisers steer clear of sites publishing ''unreliable news and information'' '-- but as we have seen, there are serious questions about what this app is willing to tarnish as ''unreliable.'' This full-spectrum assault could have ''devastating'' consequences for alternative media in the West, MacDonald said.
Also on rt.com Five examples that show internet censorship is as much a threat to the left as the right As for the effort to make NewsGuard compulsory, it was branded as ''Orwellian'' by MacDonald. ''Brainwashing kids with pro-government or pro-elite or pro-status quo messaging sounds very sinister," he said.
So, with some genuinely fake news floating around out there and apps like NewsGuard which are problematic in their own way, how can people consume news consciously?
"The best thing anyone can do is read as wide a variety of sources as possible and form their own conclusions," MacDonald advised. "One thing the internet era has shown is that people are not stupid. And when they have a variety of information available, they will draw their own conclusions."
Subscribe to RT newsletter to get stories the mainstream media won't tell you.
VIDEO - Texas mom, 38, missing since last week Video - ABC News
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{"id":60345219,"title":"Texas mom, 38, missing since last week","duration":"1:20","description":"Emily Wade, a mother and waitress from Ennis, has not been seen since leaving a friend's house last Saturday.","url":"/US/video/texas-mom-38-missing-week-60345219","section":"US","mediaType":"default"}
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VIDEO - Obama & Trump Agree on Mexico Border Issues - YouTube
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 15:31
VIDEO - DR Congo's declared runner-up appeals against presidential poll result
Sun, 13 Jan 2019 15:18
Martin Fayulu, the opposition candidate who was declared the runner-up in last month's DR Congo's presidential election, appealed Saturday to the country's Constitutional Court to annul the provisional result announced by the election commission.
Fayulu filed the appeal amidst a heavy police presence around the Constitutional Court in Kinshasa, said FRANCE 24's Thomas Nicolon reporting from the Congolese capital.
''It was quite impressive to see that many policemen for just one man basically, for just Martin Fayulu. According to the police spokesman in Kinshasa, the reason for the heavy police presence was because the Constitutional Court is located in the heart of Kinshasa and the police didn't want any gathering of people close to the court and close to so many foreign embassies,'' explained Nicolon.
The situation has been tense in the capital since the country's electoral commission declared another opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, the provisional winner of the December 30 election. Fayulu's campaign says its tallies show that its candidate won a landslide victory with 61 percent of the vote.
<span>>> DR Congo's Felix Tshisekedi: From opposition scion to provisional president-elect</span>
Several Congo analysts said it appeared the country's longstanding leader, Joseph Kabila, made a quiet agreement with Tshisekedi, since Tshisekedi was more malleable than Fayulu.
At a special UN Security Council session on Congo Friday, the powerful CENCO Catholic bishops group, which enjoys widespread credibility across Congo, called on the international body to ask the country's electoral commission to release the records of vote-counting at the polling stations to allow for verification.
Fayulu's request filed Saturday with the Constitutional Court calls for the annulment of the provisional result and a recount of the December 30 vote.
'' Martin Fayulu told me when he arrived [at the Constitutional Court] that this election was the people's victory and that it cannot be taken away from the people just because of negotiations between the government and Felix Tshisekedi,'' explained Nicolon.
'Surprising' parliamentary elections results
The appeal was filed hours after the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) declared that Kabila's ruling coalition won the majority of seats in the long-delayed parliamentary '' or national assembly '' elections.
Pro-Kabila parties had passed the 250-seat threshold required to secure a majority in the 500-seat national assembly, according to CENI.
More than 15,000 candidates were running in the poll, which determines who will control parliament in DR Congo for the next five years.
Pro-Kabila candidates had secured 288 of the 429 seats so far declared, with 141 going to the opposition.
Reporting from Kinshasa, FRANCE 24's Nicolon noted that the declared results were ''significant because it means that the new president will have very limited power and influence. It is quite surprising, the results of these elections, because it means that the party in power, even though it came third in the presidential election, still has more seats in parliament than any other party".
Stability at stake
The December 30 election came after more than two turbulent years of delays as many Congolese worried that Kabila, in power since 2001, sought a way to stay in office to protect his sprawling assets.
Statements by the international community, including African regional blocs, have not congratulated Tshisekedi, merely taking note of official results and urging against violence.
Congo's 80 million people have been largely peaceful since the vote, though the UN peacekeeping mission has reported at least a dozen deaths in protests in Kwilu province, with authorities noting demonstrations in Kisangani and Mbandaka cities.
Internet service has been cut off across the country since election day.
Tshisekedi had not been widely considered the leading candidate. Long in the shadow of his father, the late opposition leader Etienne, he broke away from the opposition's unity candidate, Fayulu, to stand on his own.
After election results were announced, Tshisekedi said Kabila would be an "important partner" in the transition.
Fayulu, who was backed by two popular opposition leaders barred by the government from running, is seen as more of a threat to Kabila's interests.
The difference between Tshisekedi and Fayulu in official results was some 684,000 votes. One million voters were barred from the election at the last minute, with the electoral commission blaming a deadly Ebola virus outbreak. Elsewhere, observers reported numerous problems including malfunctioning voting machines and polling stations that opened hours late.
The presidential inauguration will be on January 22, the electoral commission said Saturday.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)
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VIDEO - 'The US Has Been at the Root of the Undemocratic History of the Congo' | FAIR
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 17:58
Janine Jackson interviewed Maurice Carney about coverage of Congo politics for the December 21, 2018, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.
MP3 Link
Janine Jackson: ''He's Handing Over the Presidency, but Not Necessarily His Power,'' was the coy headline the New York Times chose for their version of an interview with Joseph Kabila, the president since 2001 of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country has elections coming up soon, but Kabila has previously refused to step down in accordance with the country's constitution.
The Times says Kabila
recently surprised a gaggle of Anglophone journalists, first by agreeing to be interviewed for the first time in about a decade, and then by letting slip that he could see himself returning to power in the future.
''Letting slip'''--as if there were anything unrehearsed in such an imperial court-style interview.
The Times leads with how Kabila'--who has overseen a period of wide-scale violence, hunger and disease in Congo'--likes his fish. Likewise rose-tinted write-ups at other outlets invited to the party'--the Times and the Washington Post even end their pieces with an identical quote, about his favorite movie'--underscored that the desire to hang on to power, that denoted dangerous demagoguery when associated with say, Hugo Chavez, is viewed as a kind of ernest affectation in Kabila.
And since corporate media coverage of all African nations combined doesn't amount to more than that given a Trump tweet on a good day, that drive-by image may be all many Americans have to go on.
What should we know about upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the historic and ongoing role of the United States? We're joined now by Maurice Carney, co-founder and executive director of the group Friends of the Congo. He joins us by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Maurice Carney.
Maurice Carney: ''The endearing, benign, affable picture painted by the New York Times and other corporate media would certainly please Kabila's lobbyists.''
Maurice Carney: It's a pleasure to be back with you.
JJ: It really was striking, the New York Times leading with Kabila's favorite dish, ''prepared by a Flemish cook on his farm in a private safari park.'' It was a sort of celebrity journalism. And then there was a kind of sexy mystery around his ''political ambitions,'' as the Times had it, but not about whether Kabila's retention of power reflects the will of the people. What did you make of this kid-glove treatment, and what questions did not get asked?
MC: The interviews were infuriating, to say the least. The endearing, benign, affable picture painted by the New York Times and other corporate media would certainly please Kabila's lobbyists. The Kabila government paid up to $8 million to an Israeli communications and security firm, called MER, and they've engaged a number of lobbyists in Washington, DC, including figures like Rudy Giuliani and former Congressman Bob Livingston, all in an effort to paint a certain picture of Kabila, which really is not far from what we saw in the New York Times.
However, that picture painted by the New York Times is far from the reality. Joseph Kabila has presided over a repressive regime, which the leading Catholic figure in the Congo, Laurent Monsengwo, said that we're in an open-air prison'--that's what he said of the Kabila regime. None other than the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege said these elections that are being organized are a ''parody of elections,'' they're a joke. He said that our leaders do not like us. The elections are likely to produce the same repressive system that we've seen for the past 17 years.
So this is what Congolese are saying, well-respected Congolese figures, but you would not know that from reading the New York Times article, or any of the other interviews that Kabila gave to some of the major corporate media here in the United States.
JJ: And those people, their opinions are not sought out by reporters, either. The official line that we get, you know, Voice of America headline, ''US Calls for Credible Elections in DR Congo,'' that's going to be, in as much as there will be coverage, that's what will be presented in the United States.
We've got Heather Nauert saying that these elections are a ''historic opportunity'' for a peaceful transfer of power. ''Peaceful transfer of power.'' I've asked you the same thing I think every time we've spoken, but I wonder if you could just remind listeners about what's missing when the United States talks about a peaceful transfer of power in Congo.
MC: Certainly. And we must mention it every time, because the media usually report that there hasn't been a peaceful transfer of power in the Congo since 1960, but they fail to mention that it was the United States itself that upended democracy in 1960, that initiated the violent overthrow of an elected government, in Patrice ‰mery Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Congo. He was overthrown by the CIA, which chief of station Larry Devlin laid out in painstaking detail in a book called Chief of Station, Congo, where he shared how he went about overthrowing the Lumumba government.
And not only that, but a dictatorial regime was installed in the Congo, in Joseph Mobutu, over three decades, installed and maintained by the United States. So the US has been at the root of the undemocratic history of the Congo over the last half a century or so.
Now today, when we talk about the elections in the Congo and what's upcoming, it's vital '-- this is the key story that hasn't gotten out, Janine '-- is that the Congolese people have been fighting tooth and nail in order to rid themselves of this repressive regime.
It was the Congolese people that forced Joseph Kabila to announce that he would no longer be running, and he would designate a successor. He had spent two years in office beyond his constitutional mandate, and the Congolese people put their lives on the line. Youth were assassinated, many were jailed'--some still remain in jail to this day'--others were sent into exile. And, for the most part, people are living in a repressive environment.
So that's the story'--a story of people, dignified people, fighting for peace and democracy against a repressive leader that has strong connections to multinational corporations in the West and has benefited from the support of Western nations, like the United States and other European nations. And these Congolese people are looking for a new day, and they see these elections as an opportunity to bring about a change that they're seeking.
JJ: You just actually answered what was going to be my last question. I did want to say that it is stirring to hear an African leader say, ''The Congo does not take any orders from anybody,'' as Kabila said. You know, one can understand why people at a distance would salute that, the idea of African nations reaping the benefit of their own resources, of being truly independent, but then, of course, of distributing that wealth equitably. But for folks who are looking for that really to happen in the Congo, I was going to ask you where you see actual sources of hope. But it sounds as though you've just answered that.
MC: Yes. The hope is in the people, and what Kabila's said, that a Congo doesn't take orders from anyone: Kabila would not be in power without the support of the West. And the West facilitated his ascension to power. The International Crisis Group published a very well-researched piece in 2007 called Congo: Consolidating the Peace, where they laid out the role the United States played in facilitating Kabila's ascension to power, and his winning of the first elections in 2006.
And ''not taking any orders from anyone,'' Kabila is in cahoots with Dan Gertler, the Israeli billionaire that made his billions off of Congo's riches. And even after the US sanctioned Dan Gertler, Kabila still stands by him. So this notion of his being some nationalist or anti-imperialist is far from the truth. It's merely rhetoric. It doesn't reflect any of the kind of sovereignty stance that we've seen in countries like Venezuela, or countries like Bolivia, or Ecuador when Correa was there.
So this notion of Kabila being a strong advocate for national sovereignty is not reflected in the Congo at all, not as it relates to his history with the Western nations.
JJ: We've been speaking with Maurice Carney, co-founder and executive director of the group Friends of the Congo. You can find their work online at FriendsOfTheCongo.org. Maurice Carney, thank you so much for joining us this week on CounterSpin.
MC: Thank you. Thank you, Janine.
VIDEO - Opinion: The Strange Silence Over China's Muslim Crackdown : NPR
Sat, 12 Jan 2019 17:56
In this Dec. 7, 2018, relatives of people missing in China's far western region of Xinjiang hold up photos at an office of a Chinese Kazakh advocacy organization in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Dake Kang/AP hide caption
toggle caption Dake Kang/AP In this Dec. 7, 2018, relatives of people missing in China's far western region of Xinjiang hold up photos at an office of a Chinese Kazakh advocacy organization in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Dake Kang/AP President Trump says trade talks between the United States and China have been, "going very well." The United States put $250 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods last year, to counter what it considers unfair trade practices and theft of U.S. technology.
But there are no indications the United States, the United Nations, or any government is prepared to use any economic or diplomatic leverage to oppose China locking up between 800,000 and 2 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Chinese Muslims into internment camps in the western Xinjiang region.
The camps are in remote locations '-- closed to the world '-- and ringed with barbed wire. But they have been photographed by satellite. The Chinese government calls them "re-education centers," a phrase that carries a sinister history from the murderous purges of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution.
The people in the camps are forced to denounce their faith and pledge loyalty to the Communist Party. According to multiple reports, a number of people in the camps have also been tortured.
As Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, told The Independent, "If any other government in the world was locking up a million Muslims I think we can reasonably expect to have seen demands for a debate at the U.N. Security Council or an international investigation. That's generally unlikely to happen with China."
There were calls in the U.S. Congress last fall for the Trump administration to consider sanctions against China for what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced as "awful abuses."
But China is America's largest creditor: it holds more than a trillion dollars in U.S. Treasury securities. Look down at whatever you're wearing, carrying, riding in or working on right now. American businesses get rich relying on Chinese workers who earn low wages to produce our clothing, mobile phones, building materials, and dazzling new tech devices.
The Trump administration imposed tariffs on China over unfair trade practices. But it has offered no more than a few rhetorical flourishes over human rights crimes. Neither did the Obama administration, or the European Union.
And Muslim countries '-- including Saudi Arabia and Iran '-- have been similarly, conspicuously, silent. China invests heavily, and strategically in their nations too.
Sometimes, the price of human rights just cannot compete.
VIDEO - Earth's Magnetic Field has Moved Unexpectedly, and Scientists Aren't Sure Why
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 17:16
Earth's north magnetic pole is moving fast and in an unexpected way, baffling scientists involved in tracking its motions.
Our planet is surrounded by a magnetic field. It is thought to arise from the electric currents generated by Earth's core'--a solid iron ball surrounded by a liquid metal. This field is one of the reasons life is able to thrive as it deflects the solar wind, protecting us from harmful radiation.
However, the magnetic field is constantly moving. At the moment, its north pole is over Canada, but it is slowly making its way toward Siberia. In the early 2000s, NASA announced the pole's rate of movement had increased to about 25 miles per year.
The changes to Earth's magnetic field are tracked with the World Magnetic Model. According to the British Geological Survey, the World Magnetic Model is used extensively for navigation by the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as many civilian systems. Because of the constant changes, the model has to be revised regularly.
In 2014, a new version of the model was released. This was expected to last until 2020, but last September it had to be revised following feedback from users that it ''had become inaccurate in the Arctic region,'' the British Geological Survey said.
Now, the World Magentic Model is set to be updated again. A meeting was scheduled for January 15, but because of the U.S. government shutdown, it has been postponed until January 30, Nature magazine reported.
"The error is increasing all the time,'' Arnaud Chulliat, a geomagnetist at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Nature. He said learning that the World Magnetic Model had become inaccurate placed scientists in an ''interesting situation'' with experts wondering just what was going on.
According to Nature, a geomagnetic pulse under South America in 2016 shifted the magnetic field unexpectedly. This was exacerbated by the movement of the north magnetic pole. ''The fact that the pole is going fast makes this region more prone to large errors,'' Chulliat said.
Researchers are now trying to work out why the magnetic field is changing so quickly. They are studying the geomagnetic pulses, like the one that disrupted the World Magnetic Model in 2016, which could, Nature reported, be the result of ''hydromagnetic'' waves emanating from Earth's core.
To fix the World Magnetic Model, Chulliat and his colleagues fed it three years of recent data, which included the 2016 geomagnetic pulse. The new version should remain accurate, he said, until the next regularly scheduled update in 2020.
''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,'' Phil Livermore, a geomagnetist at the U.K.'s University of Leeds, told the magazine. ''The Siberian patch is winning the competition.''
Artistic representation of Earth's magnetic field, which has been moving faster than expected. iStock
VIDEO - Fuel cell technology - Widex for professionals
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 15:57
WIDEX EVOKE EC' is the first hearing aid to be based on fuel cell technology.
In fact, it's the world's smallest commercially available fuel cell.
We call it WIDEX ENERGY CELL', and it requires no conventional hearing aid batteries or power outlets.
The small fuel cell inside EVOKE EC gets energy from the refill unit, which holds a methanol cartridge.
Once the methanol meets the air inside the fuel cell, electrical energy is produced to power the hearing aid.
The only waste from this reaction is vaporised water and negligible amounts of carbon dioxide.
With the off-the-grid refill unit, EVOKE EC is effortless to re-energise. You can do it anytime, anywhere.
Simply place the hearing aid into the refill well and wait for 20 seconds.
In that time, the refill unit will extract any remaining methanol and supply the fuel cell with new methanol.
This fuel cell technology gives a 24-hour run-time, so users won't miss out on anything.
WIDEX EVOKE EC' has received the 2019 CES award as ''best of innovation'' honoree for most impressive technology in Fitness, Sports and Biotech.
WIDEX ENERGY CELL' has received the ''best of the best'' Red Dot award in 2018 for the highest design quality, expressing innovation in form and function in an outstanding manner.
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Fri, 11 Jan 2019 15:00
VIDEO - The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 on Twitter: "For all the geniuses who are saying ''um but @realDonaldTrump said Mexico would pay for the Wall!'' Here is Trump in March of 2016 explaining that Mexico will pay for the Wall thru the money we save on tr
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 13:59
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VIDEO - KUSI News on Twitter: "Thursday morning, @CNN called the KUSI Newsroom asking if a reporter could give them a local view of the debate surrounding the border wall and government shutdown. After we informed them about our past reports, they decline
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 13:42
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VIDEO - (1) No Agenda Openings 1001 1100 - YouTube
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 11:26
VIDEO - Binkley on Twitter: ".@MonicaPerezShow Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been groomed for politics & disruption from a young age. She knows exactly what she's doing. We covered her background in this show. It's unwise to think her stupid. https://t.co/
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 01:22
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VIDEO - The 11 minutes that ruined Hollywood producer Allan Carr's career forever - YouTube
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 00:19
VIDEO - (1) euronews on Twitter: ""There will be two civilisations in the EU ... one mixed Muslim-Christian in the West, and one traditional European-Christian in Central Europe." Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban held his first government
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 21:37
"There will be two civilisations in the EU ... one mixed Muslim-Christian in the West, and one traditional European-Christian in Central Europe."Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban held his first government news conference of 2019.
bit.ly/2FnKE4G pic.twitter.com/VGwj8cXHdT


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  • 0:00
    I never thought about it much but I
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    think you might be right
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    Adam curry this is no agenda morning
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    I'm Adam curry and if I'm doing the
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    Silicon Valley I'm here with some Jake
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    mints throat and chest and his flavored
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    menthol cough suppressant they throw you
  • 0:42
    off track with my 2020 exit did you be
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    thinking about it I heard that yeah
  • 0:47
    totally had me oh my god no
  • 0:49
    yeah oh yeah John and I were talking
  • 0:51
    after the last show which we rarely do
  • 0:53
    except during choosing art well yeah
  • 0:56
    yeah yeah yeah and I realized this
  • 1:00
    morning again it's like everyone's
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    announcing we're two years ahead of an
  • 1:04
    election I think you and I really only
  • 1:06
    can do 24 months of this and then we'll
  • 1:08
    just either you know we have to just
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    need to stop thinking about this it just
  • 1:17
    might be time to let some younger folk
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    in to do this that's therein lies the
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    what well the problem oh there goes the
  • 1:30
    Zephyr ah one two three four five six
  • 1:34
    seven eight eight only wait what holy
  • 1:39
    mackerel this is small is Zephyr I've
  • 1:41
    ever seen yes therein lies the rub you
  • 1:51
    said yeah therein lies the rub of do
  • 1:53
    tell but the problem is the
  • 1:55
    dimensionality of our show really
  • 1:57
    realizing the fact that both of us are
  • 1:59
    very we're old yeah we experienced exit
  • 2:03
    stories I have experience in fact I have
  • 2:05
    the kinds of experiences including
  • 2:07
    working during the summer when I was in
  • 2:11
    high school
  • 2:12
    and I think even maybe the eighth grade
  • 2:14
    because there were jobs available for
  • 2:15
    kids it was like not not uncommon and
  • 2:18
    where you get a lot of you know varied
  • 2:21
    you get varied experience and then you
  • 2:25
    can relate some of the things you've
  • 2:26
    learned over a long period of time it's
  • 2:28
    pretty hard for somebody to just waltz
  • 2:31
    in and you know with book learning and
  • 2:33
    really be able to accomplish what we do
  • 2:34
    okay but still that's nothing to do with
  • 2:38
    us we're just gonna be so tired of this
  • 2:44
    crap son believable it's hard it's a
  • 2:47
    hard job protecting people's amygdala
  • 2:49
    well it is doesn't the media course
  • 2:53
    doesn't help at all my favorite thing
  • 2:55
    was the I saw it for two or three places
  • 2:57
    and I'm noticing this and I've said I've
  • 2:59
    talked about on the show before but now
  • 3:00
    I realize it's one of those code words
  • 3:02
    that the left uses when they do their
  • 3:05
    writing oh just two signals this word
  • 3:08
    the time oh you know I'm on your side
  • 3:10
    and the word is or the word is a phrase
  • 3:12
    lashed out yes yes Amy does all the time
  • 3:17
    I know said Mother Jones there's a big
  • 3:19
    headline Donald Trump lashed out at a
  • 3:23
    navy 34-year Navy SEAL let's talk about
  • 3:27
    McRaven who's actually a four-star
  • 3:29
    Admiral which is a little more
  • 3:30
    impressive than being a seal right but
  • 3:34
    apparently everybody else felt being a
  • 3:36
    seal was more important and it's easy
  • 3:39
    for the same lashed out so I get found
  • 3:41
    where he lashed out and this is this is
  • 3:45
    McRaven lashes out or trap lashes start
  • 3:48
    just eclipses McRaven bill McRaven
  • 3:51
    retired Admiral Navy SEAL 37 years
  • 3:54
    former head of US special operator is
  • 3:56
    Lynn fan special operation is made
  • 3:59
    Hillary Clinton fan who led the
  • 4:01
    operations command of the operations
  • 4:03
    that took us on the same and that killed
  • 4:05
    Osama bin Laden it says that your
  • 4:07
    sentiment is the greatest threat to
  • 4:09
    democracy in his life he's a Hillary
  • 4:11
    Clinton backer and an Obama backer and
  • 4:17
    frankly he's a Navy SEAL give them nice
  • 4:19
    if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner
  • 4:21
    than that
  • 4:24
    that's sure what he said that bet you're
  • 4:28
    lashing out I don't know if it would
  • 4:29
    have made any difference if we got him
  • 4:31
    any sooner than we got him well the
  • 4:34
    thing that was interesting in that clip
  • 4:35
    and you couldn't quite hear is that as
  • 4:38
    Trump is complaining about McRaven uh
  • 4:40
    Chris Wallace is rolling his eyes no no
  • 4:45
    he's a gassed at everything he says but
  • 4:48
    he's a 37 year Navy SEAL as if that's
  • 4:51
    some sort of uh I guess when you you're
  • 4:54
    if you're a Navy SEAL fighter I don't
  • 4:56
    think it was worked as a sadly he worked
  • 4:58
    as a seal no probably doing demolition
  • 5:00
    for 37 years
  • 5:02
    but he was it was a seal for 37 years he
  • 5:06
    says that as though it's some sort of
  • 5:08
    you makes him an untouchable you can't
  • 5:11
    you can't say anything about these guys
  • 5:13
    well that was that that's the elite of
  • 5:15
    our armed forces who need to be at war
  • 5:18
    continuously they they are the true
  • 5:21
  • 5:22
    there was also he was also this was part
  • 5:26
    of a series of interviews Chris Rock
  • 5:28
    Wallace did with Trump and I want to
  • 5:31
    play a short part of another one is a
  • 5:33
    152 clip it's not the whole thing but
  • 5:36
    I'm gonna set it up this is Chris
  • 5:38
    Wallace and Trump and and it's
  • 5:40
    discussing fake news where Wallace talks
  • 5:43
    about fake news and and does the correct
  • 5:47
    Trump quote but very slowly still finds
  • 5:50
    that if you say fake news is the enemy
  • 5:54
    of the people you are saying and Wallace
  • 5:57
    is totally convinced to this you are
  • 5:58
    saying the media oh really
  • 6:01
    so it's not the fake news it's the main
  • 6:04
    news according to Chris I mean if you
  • 6:05
    listen to him in the way he defends that
  • 6:07
    or attacks Trump but essentially he is
  • 6:11
    he is flabbergasted Trump keeps trying -
  • 6:14
    no I'm saying fake news I'm not Tom I
  • 6:16
    thought he didn't like the media make
  • 6:17
    news fake news wait a minute and who is
  • 6:19
    he talking with Chris Wallace of Fox by
  • 6:24
    the way I will say this if you heard the
  • 6:26
    other if you heard any of this stuff
  • 6:28
    it's so obvious that Chris Wallace is a
  • 6:32
    major Democrat I think just just to
  • 6:34
    reiterate for any anyone who's relative
  • 6:36
    he knew because we haven't actually just
  • 6:38
    broach this topic in a couple of months
  • 6:40
    the Trump and the way we always
  • 6:42
    understood it was Trump said fake news
  • 6:45
    is the enemy of the people not the
  • 6:46
    journalists not Free Press not the the
  • 6:49
    news media no fake news media I think he
  • 6:52
    did once say yes CNN fake news I think
  • 6:54
    he equated them to fake news I think he
  • 6:58
    said CNN fake there's more than once
  • 7:00
    yeah but he actually in in in context of
  • 7:03
    fake news being the enemy of the people
  • 7:05
    some yeah maybe let's get to the bigger
  • 7:07
    issue in 2017 last year you tweeted this
  • 7:11
    and I want to quote it accurately the
  • 7:13
    fake news media is not my enemy it is
  • 7:16
    the enemy of the American people to 100%
  • 7:20
    not the media I'm glad you're finally
  • 7:23
    quoting it correctly because they like
  • 7:25
    to leave the fake news okay but that's
  • 7:26
    what Yusef ake News so the people that
  • 7:31
    are supporting me in particular they
  • 7:32
    have very smart people they're
  • 7:34
    hard-working brilliant great people they