1109: Pentacon

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 46m
February 3rd, 2019
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Executive Producers: James Smith, T. Odelsting, Matthew Hamilton, Rob Van Dijk, Sir Bob of the Clueless Nation

Associate Executive Producers: Daniel Saenz, Alex, Sir Jim Briscoe, Sir Woody of the Falls

Cover Artist: Mark G


Start of Show
Hoax Attributes Death of Birds in The Hague, Netherlands to 5G
Producer Note: 5G Speed Test
5G is About Increasing Media Consumption
Superbowl Predictions
Spotify in Talks to Buy Gimlet Media
No Agenda Received Offer from Spotify
Podcast Advertising
JUUL Launches Nationwide E-Cigarettes Ad Campaign Aimed at Adult Smokers
Ellen Page Slams Mike Pence's LGBTQ Record on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Don Lemon Equates the MAGA Hat to Racism
European Colonization of Americas Killed So Many It Cooled Earth's Climate
NPR: Newt Gingrich Created the Term Climate Change as Alternative to Global Warming
Tulsi Gabbard
Canada Establishes Panel to Warn of Potential Election Meddling
Cameroon Main Opposition Leader Arrested Over Illegal Protests
Protests in Madrid to Demand Higher Pension Increase
Dutch Principal Admits Protesting Climate Change is Allowed, Protesting Migrants is Not
Act 12 of the Yellow Vests Protests Honoring Victims of Police Violence
Roger Stone Claims He Was Not Read His Miranda Rights
Massive Layoffs at New Media Companies After End to Fake News Subsidy
Birthdays & Title Changes
Virginia House of Delegates Member Kathy Trun Under Fire for Late-Term Abortion Bill
Homeland Security Created Fake University in Michigan as Part of Immigration Sting
End of Show
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Spotify in Talks to Buy Gimlet Media - WSJ
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 05:48
Updated Feb. 1, 2019 6:28 p.m. ETSpotify Technology SA is in talks to purchase podcasting giant Gimlet Media, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that would give a boost to the music-streaming company's narrative-audio ambitions.
Talks are ongoing and it is still possible that a deal won't happen, the people said.
Gimlet Media, which was co-founded by former...
Spotify Technology SA is in talks to purchase podcasting giant Gimlet Media, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that would give a boost to the music-streaming company's narrative-audio ambitions.
Talks are ongoing and it is still possible that a deal won't happen, the people said.
Gimlet Media, which was co-founded by former ''This American Life'' producer Alex Blumberg and former Boston Consulting Group consultant Matthew Lieber in 2014, is the producer of popular podcasts like ''Reply All,'' ''StartUp'' and ''The Nod.'' The company recently partnered with Spotify to release the second season of the ''Crimetown'' podcast on the audio-streaming service.
The Wall Street Journal has a content partnership with Gimlet Media.
Stockholm-based Spotify has been expanding beyond music streaming and into the world of podcasting, as it aims to capture more of consumers' listening time and, eventually, boost profit margins. Although podcasts have been available on the service for years, they have become a priority only in recent months. That has meant building out capabilities to fast forward and host longer-form content, as well as feature podcasts prominently on the platforms.
Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com and Anne Steele at Anne.Steele@wsj.com
Super Bowl
Kraft Heinz's Devour Advertises on Pornhub as Part of Super Bowl Campaign - WSJ
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 16:07
Jan. 28, 2019 7:27 p.m. ETAt a time when many marketers obsess about appearing only in uncontroversial ''brand-safe'' environments, Kraft Heinz Co.'s Devour frozen food brand ran ads on pornography website Pornhub on Monday, part of a campaign built around a Super Bowl commercial with a food porn theme.
''See hot food porn now,'' Devour ads on the home page of the (nonfood) porn site said. The Pornhub logo appeared with a fork through it.
At a time when many marketers obsess about appearing only in uncontroversial ''brand-safe'' environments, Kraft Heinz Co.'s Devour frozen food brand ran ads on pornography website Pornhub on Monday, part of a campaign built around a Super Bowl commercial with a food porn theme.
''See hot food porn now,'' Devour ads on the home page of the (nonfood) porn site said. The Pornhub logo appeared with a fork through it.
''Devour is explicitly talking about #Foodporn, which has become a cultural phenomenon with over 185MM posts on Instagram today,'' the brand said in a statement.
Super Bowl advertisers regularly try to wring extra mileage out of their buys with elaborate PR plans, and Devour, a first-time advertiser in the game, has been no exception. It has generated publicity for its Super Bowl ad by announcing that CBS rejected an initial edit, and by promoting an ''uncensored'' version depicting a woman describing her boyfriend's addiction to ''frozen food porn.''
Advertising on Pornhub takes the stunt to another level. It stands out particularly as brands take pains to avoid any chance that their ads could appear next to potentially inappropriate content. AT&T only recently returned to YouTube, for example, after pulling ads in 2017 over their inadvertent appearance near offensive videos.
''This one-day activation is part of a humorous juxtaposition to highlight the concept of food porn that began with the release of the uncensored 60-second Big Game ad,'' Devour said.
A spokeswoman said the brand declined to comment further.
Pornhub confirmed that the campaign began and concluded on Monday.
Write to Nat Ives at nat.ives@wsj.com
Super Bowl: Atlanta's Pledge To Clear Homeless Camps Fuels Anxiety : NPR
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 03:55
Tony Hines said a rumor that anyone sleeping in encampments under bridges could face arrest is sparking fear. Stephannie Stoke/WABE hide caption
toggle caption Stephannie Stoke/WABE Tony Hines said a rumor that anyone sleeping in encampments under bridges could face arrest is sparking fear.
Stephannie Stoke/WABE About a dozen people, bundled up in coats and beanies, are reading Scriptures in downtown Atlanta's Woodruff Park. They're part of a Bible study for the Church of the Common Ground.
The church always meets outdoors. So one parishioner wonders during the lesson how the Super Bowl might affect their services.
"If they're shutting down the streets here," she asked, "how are we supposed to have church on Super Bowl Sunday?"
Pastor Monica Mainwaring isn't totally sure.
The Super Bowl has created a lot of uncertainty for the people the church serves, who often are homeless. Rumors about what will happen to people in Atlanta's homeless encampments have been swirling ahead of Super Bowl weekend.
One of the Bible study attendees, Tony Hines, knows the rumors well. He has spent years living on the streets and is now hoping for housing.
"This is what I've heard," he said. "I heard if you get caught under bridges, you are going to jail."
Hines said that talk has made people anxious.
"People are scared because no one wants to be locked up thinking they had their freedom taken away," Hines said.
I think there's a concern that the city wants to look prettier than it is.
Monica Mainwaring
"I think there's a concern that the city wants to look prettier than it is," Pastor Mainwaring said, "or like it has less of an issue with people experiencing homelessness than we do."
The problem for Mainwaring is, although she can't confirm the rumors, she also can't refute them.
Just two weeks before the Super Bowl, the city held a press call and said it would work to clear encampments.
"I think a lot of social service agencies and people who work with people experiencing homelessness thought why right now and asked that question," Mainwaring said.
And for people like her, the city's answer hasn't cleared up the confusion.
Officials have said there has always been a law against encampments, also known as urban camping, and Atlanta has always enforced it.
In an interview with WABE, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was emphatic.
"This has absolutely nothing to do with the Super Bowl," Bottoms said. "If it did, I would say it."
Instead, the city has said clearing encampments is about public health and safety '-- consider, for example, the risks of lighting fires under interstates.
The city has also stressed that the goal is not to make arrests. Deputy Chief Operating Officer Jon Keen said teams are giving advance warning to those in the camps.
"And at the point of time we're actually clearing the encampments, we're also offering services and offering transportation," Keen said.
But even if those are the city's intentions, some providers have said the strategy contradicts Atlanta's own work on homelessness.
Encampments can include those hardest to reach '-- people who have been living outside for some time and may deal with mental illness.
Cathryn Marchman, executive director of Partners for HOME, a city-commissioned nonprofit that leads Atlanta's strategy on homelessness, said helping those people requires trust.
"We know that outreach work to unsheltered individuals is slow and steady," she said. "It takes quite some time, in many instances, to move somebody who's been living outside to housing, but that is our goal."
It's why Atlanta is funding a new five-person team to focus specifically on street outreach.
Marchman admitted that process of building relationships doesn't include sweeping encampments.
"I think if people are being moved from place to place then it can make that work more challenging," she said.
Still, while providers may be struggling to interpret the city's stance on encampments, national observers can find it less perplexing.
Eric Tars, legal director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, is accustomed to cities hiding people who are homeless before major sporting events.
"It's very understandable why the city might be trying to put the best spin on, what you know, really an appalling policy on its face," he said.
But Super Bowl or not, Tars said the policy is becoming tricky legal territory. Last fall, a federal court ruled that cities can't stop people from sleeping outdoors if there is no place for them indoors.
In a letter last week, the Southern Center for Human Rights reminded Atlanta of the ruling and argued it only has shelter beds for less than half of its homeless population.
The city has disputed the group's numbers, saying it has roughly 2,800 beds, not including those activated for cold weather. In 2018, volunteers found just over 3,000 individuals to be homeless in Atlanta.
For now, those at the Church of the Common Ground are waiting to see what happens. That includes Hines, who is expecting to be placed in housing after years of staying on the streets.
He and Pastor Mainwaring said how Atlanta treats the homeless during big tourist events matters.
"It's important because it says something about who we are and how we are in relation to poverty and need and poor mental health and addiction," she said.
Mainwaring said those are problems that we know are not solved in a day '-- or perhaps even a Super Bowl weekend.
Trump last week
tweeted about how horrible of a no call the refs had to allow the rams to make
it to the super bowl. You also haven’t seen Kraft, the patriots owner, say
anything bad about the president. He did last year and that cost them the
championship. He also was seen dancing with cardi b last night. I also believe
that the refs are going to call every minor thing against the rams because of
that no call against the saints. With all that, even though I think the rams
have the better talent, I believe the patriots will win.
Roe v Wade
Virginia Kathy Tran bill relevant text
§ 18.2-73. When abortion lawful during second trimester of pregnancy.
Notwithstanding any of the provisions of § 18.2-71 and in
addition to the provisions of § 18.2-72, it shall be lawful for any physician
licensed by the Board of Medicine to practice medicine and surgery, to
terminate or attempt to terminate a human pregnancy or aid or assist in the
termination of a human pregnancy by performing an abortion or causing a
miscarriage on any woman during the second trimester of pregnancy and prior to
the third trimester of pregnancy provided such procedure
is performed in a hospital licensed by the State Department of Health or
operated by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
§ 18.2-74. When abortion or termination of pregnancy lawful
after second trimester of pregnancy.
Notwithstanding any of the provisions of § 18.2-71 and in
addition to the provisions of §§ 18.2-72 and 18.2-73, it shall be lawful for
any physician licensed by the Board of Medicine to practice medicine and
surgery to terminate or attempt to terminate a human pregnancy or aid or assist
in the termination of a human pregnancy by performing an abortion or causing a
miscarriage on any woman in a stage of pregnancy subsequent to the second
trimester, provided that
the following conditions are met:
(a) 1. Said operation is performed
in a hospital licensed by the Virginia State Department of Health or operated
by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
(b) 2. The physician and two consulting physicians certify certifies and so enter
enters in the hospital record of the woman, that in their the physician's
medical opinion, based upon their the physician's best clinical
judgment, the continuation of the pregnancy is likely to result in the death of
the woman or substantially and irremediably
impair the mental or physical health of the woman.
(c) 3. Measures for life support
for the product of such abortion or miscarriage must shall be available and
utilized if there is any clearly visible evidence of viability.
§ 18.2-76. Informed written consent required.
A. Before
performing any abortion or inducing any miscarriage or terminating a pregnancy as
provided in § 18.2-72, 18.2-73, or 18.2-74, the physician shall obtain the
informed written consent of the pregnant woman. However, if the woman has been
adjudicated incapacitated by any court of competent jurisdiction or if the
physician knows or has good reason to believe that such woman is incapacitated
as adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction, then only after permission
is given in writing by a parent, guardian, committee, or other person standing
in loco parentis to the woman, may the physician perform the abortion or
otherwise terminate the pregnancy.
Ashton Kutcher posts Down syndrome advocate's powerful pro-life testimony amid reignited abortion debate | Fox News
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 12:52
Video of Special Olympian Frank Stephens' 2017 testimony in front of Congress is going viral again after actor Ashton Kutcher posted it to his Facebook page last week with the message ''Everyone's life is valuable.'' Kutcher's post comes amid a reignited debate partly led by New York's recent passing of a controversial state law that loosens the rules on abortion, and Virginia's proposed bill that would eliminate a requirement for two physicians to certify that a third-trimester abortion is necessary to prevent the woman's death or impairment of her mental or physical health.
The move to secure states' rights on abortion comes as pro-choice activists voice concern that the newly elected Supreme Court will work to overturn the 1973 Roe V. Wade decision that made abortions legal.
Virginia Democratic Del. Kathy Tran, the sponsor of her state's Repeal Act, has said that it ''eliminates medically unnecessary and unduly burdensome requirements that make it difficult to make health care decisions about their own bodies.''
Several other states including Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts and New Mexico have either loosened regulations on the procedure or passed new laws to expand access.
Many who commented on Kutcher's post took pro-life stances arguing against the recent legislation, although the actor did not mention any laws in his initial post.
In Oct. 2017, Stephens headed to Capitol Hill to plead his case against elective abortion for babies with Down syndrome, and movingly declared, ''I am a man with Down syndrome and my life is worth living.''
Stephens argued to allocate federal funding for research that would help people with Down syndrome.
''Sadly, across the world, a notion is being sold that maybe we don't need research concerning Down syndrome,'' Stephens testified, in part. ''Some people say prenatal screens will identify Down syndrome in the womb and those pregnancies will just be terminated. It's hard for me to sit here and say those words. I completely understand that the people pushing this particular 'final solution' are saying that people like me should not exist. That final view is deeply prejudice by an outdated idea of life with Down syndrome. Seriously, I have a great life!''
Kutcher's post had been viewed over 5.4 million times since it was posted last Friday.
Governor Who Endorsed Infanticide Received $2 Million From Planned Parenthood - Big League Politics
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 14:17
Public records reveal Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who endorsed infanticide as a form of abortion on Wednesday, received almost $2 million in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood.
Research reveals nearly $2 million in campaign contributions from the taxpayer funded pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood sent to Northam, who endorsed a bill that would allow new mothers to determine whether they wanted to keep a child after delivery, essentially legalizing infanticide.
Northam received $1.996 million from Planned Parenthood Virginia over the course of five years, with most of the donations coming in during his 2017 election campaign. These include massive cash injections of $338,852, $278,247, $255,641, and other similar amounts in the final days before the election.
Planned Parenthood claims it is a woman's health clinic focusing on prenatal care, but an author claims it admitted last year that it is ''paid to do abortions'' in a new book.
Latest: Mother Diagnosed With Cancer Defies Doctor's Orders and CHOOSES LIFE For Her Daugther!
Big League Politics reported:
Loudon recounted a story about calling a Missouri Planned Parenthood and asking is she could send a picture of her family for the staff to keep on file, in case any expectant mother would consider adopting out her child.
''We are not in the business of adoptions,'' a staffer told her. ''I suggest if you want an adoption, you call an adoption clinic. We are paid to do abortions.''
Loudon and her family continued their quest to find a Down syndrome child to adopt, and contacted an adoption agency to ask why there were seemingly no Down syndrome children available for adoption anywhere.
''They're all aborted today,'' one official told her. ''Genetic testing has made it so that the only people having babies with Down syndrome are those who decided to keep (the baby) even after they know.''
The shocking infusion of Planned Parenthood cash to Northam's campaign may suggest why he gleefully endorsed the Virginia bill that would have made it legal for untrained individuals to perform abortions, and would have legalized the murder of children after their birth.
After the horrifying bill and Northam's statement became national news, the bill was defeated, with Virginia officials pledging it would never be voted on or even make it out of its subcommittee.
Have a hot tip for Big League Politics?
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YEARBOOK: Ralph Northam In Blackface & KKK Photo - Big League Politics
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 15:14
Virginia Democrat governor Ralph Northam posed for a blackface photograph.
Big League Politics has obtained photos from Northam's time at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, from which he graduated in 1984.
Northam and a friend were photographed together '-- one in blackface, one in Klan robes.
Northam's quote: ''There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I'll have another beer.''
Latest: Tim Kaine and Mark Warner STILL Holding Out As Democrats Demand Ralph Northam's Resignation
Have a hot tip for Big League Politics?
Got a hot news tip for us? Photos or video of a breaking story? Send your tips, photos and videos to tips@bigleaguepolitics.com. All hot tips are immediately forwarded to BLP Staff.
Have something to say? Send your own guest column or original reporting to submissions@bigleaguepolitics.com.
Northam's pic of men in blackface, Klan robe spurs resignation calls
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 15:03
Win McNamee | Getty Images News | Getty Images
STERLING, VA - NOVEMBER 03: Virginia Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, answers questions while campaigning at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society following Friday prayers November 3, 2017 in Sterling, Virginia. Virginia will elect the next governor of the state next Tuesday, November 7. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he will not leave his office despite pressure from prominent lawmakers to resign over a racially offensive photo that appeared on his medical school yearbook page. The photo shows one person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Northam held a press conference on Saturday afternoon at the governor's mansion where he once again apologized for the image, but said he had nothing to do with it. He said the first time he saw the photo was on Friday, he did not attend that party and the picture is not of him.
"I reflected with my family and classmates from the time and affirmed my conclusion that I am not the person in that photo," North said, calling the image "offensive, racist and despicable."
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One of the reasons Northam said he remembers that he is not in the image is because he participated in a dance competition the same year the yearbook was published '-- 1984 '-- in which he used shoe polish to darken his face for a Michael Jackson costume.
"It is because my memory of that episode is so vivid that I truly believe that I am not in that picture of the yearbook," Northam said.
"I certainly take responsibility for what happened in San Antonio," Northam added later. "I have learned from that. But this was not my picture, that was not my costume, as either black face or KKK."
The governor said he does not expect everyone to believe his account, at least not immediately, nor does he expect to be immediately forgiven. He said he would not resign because that would be the easier path.
"I am ready to earn your forgiveness, and I am ready to begin today," he said.
Northam originally apologized Friday on Twitter "for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now."
But Northam told Virginia State Senator Louise Lucas earlier on Saturday that it was not him in the picture, according to the senator's spokesperson. The apology Friday, which called the image "clearly racist and offensive," acknowledged his appearance in the photo and suggests he did, at one point, think he might have been one of the people pictured.
An hour after he made that statement, Northam said he realized that it was not him in the image after all.
"When I was shown this last night it was horrific. It really horrified me. We did what we needed to do last night and that was to reach out and apologize to those who may be hurt, but the more time I've had, I've realized I have no recollection of dressing up like that," the governor said at the press conference on Saturday.
'Do the correct thing and resign'A second Virginia Democrat told NBC News that Northam said earlier Saturday that he did not believe he was in the image and would not resign. Northam also said that classmates of his from Eastern Virginia Medical School told him that they believed some of the pictures in the yearbook had been mixed up, according to the source.
The Democratic Party of Virginia released a statement on Saturday after learning that Northam did not plan to resign. "We made the decision to let Governor Northam do the correct thing and resign this morning '-- we have gotten word he will not do so this morning."
Despite Northam's expected announcement and claims that he is not in the image, the state party said their views had not changed.
"We stand with Democrats across Virginia and the country calling him to immediately resign," the statement said. "He no longer has our confidence or our support. Governor Northam must end this chapter immediately, step down, and let Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax heal Virginia's wounds and move us forward."
Northam resisted calls for his resignation in that statement, however, stating in a video of the apology that he would keep on fighting for Virginia. "I'm committed to continuing that fight through the remainder of my term," he said.
But pressure continued to grow as the Virginia House Democratic caucus, Senate Democratic caucus and Virginia black caucus all came out against the governor.
"We are having trouble reconciling our experience with Governor Northam with what we see in this photo," the House Democrats said in a statement Friday. "We regret to say that we are no longer confident in the Governor's representation of Virginians."
Fromer Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Northam's predecessor and a close ally, notably joined the calls for him to resign. "The situation that he has put himself and the Commonwealth of Virginia in is untenable. It's time for Ralph to step down, and for the Commonwealth to move forward," he tweeted.
With the state party maintaing their position, it is unlikely these particular Virginia Democrats will reconsider their position after Northam's latest claim. Nevertheless, a notable statement came from former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, the first and only African-American to serve as governor in Virginia.
"It has never been right, in Virginia, nor anywhere else to participate in or condone such mockery or insensitive behavior and for that Gov. Northam should be criticized," the former governor wrote on Twitter, noting that many had asked him to respond to this latest revelation.
The elder statesman of Virginia politics, however, declined to call for Northam's resignation.
The choice of his continuing in office is his to make," Wilder concluded.
Still, several Democrats who have announced interest in a 2020 presidential run '-- Julian Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand '-- called for Northam's resignation.
"Racism has no place in Virginia," said Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Jack Wilson in a statement before Northam apologized. "These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately."
The photo from the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook ran alongside pictures of and personal information about Northam.
NBC News verified the yearbook pictures with the school. NBC News is not aware of the identities of both of the men in the picture in blackface or the Klan robes. All the other photos on the page are clearly of Northam: one in a suit jacket, one in a cowboy hat where he is holding a beer, one sitting next to a Corvette.
Vincent Rhodes, chief communications officer for the school, said the production of the yearbook was a student activity, adding, "We don't know when or where the picture was taken and we don't know anything about its content."
The NAACP also said the Virginia Democrat should step down. "Black face in any manner is always racist and never okay. No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior," said the organization's president, Derrick Johnson.
Northam, a doctor, came under fire from Republicans earlier this week, who accused him of supporting infanticide because of comments he made in support of allowing late-term abortions when the fetus is severely deformed or would be unable to survive after birth.
He was elected governor in 2017 in a hotly-contested race against Republican Ed Gillespie. Northam said he supported taking down Confederate monuments, a stance Gillespie blasted him for.
In his victory speech, Northam, an Army veteran and pediatric neurologist, said, "Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry."
"It's going to take a doctor to heal our differences. And I'm here to tell you, the doctor is in!" he declared.
The yearbook photo was first reported by Big League Politics, a far-right website that often promotes conspiracy theories.
Build the Wall
The Latest: Border officials report biggest fentanyl bust
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 21:45
PHOENIX (AP) '-- The Latest on a record fentanyl seizure at the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona (all times local):
11:30 a.m.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say they have made their biggest fentanyl bust ever, capturing nearly 254 pounds (114 kilograms) of the deadly synthetic opioid in Arizona.
The Nogales CBP Port Director Michael Humphries said Thursday that the drug was seized Saturday from a tractor-trailer carrying produce from Mexico after it was stopped for inspection at the border crossing.
Agents also seized an additional 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of fentanyl pills and a large cache of methamphetamine.
The Mexican man driving the truck was arrested.
9:15 a.m.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Arizona say they've made their biggest fentanyl bust ever.
The agency says it will provide details Thursday during a late morning news conference at the Mariposa border crossing in Nogales, Arizona.
Authorities say illicit fentanyl in recent years has become the biggest source of fatal overdoses in the United States.
Mexican traffickers are increasingly smuggling the drug into the United States, mostly hidden in northbound passenger vehicles crossing at ports of entry in the Nogales and San Diego areas.
Law enforcement says the illicit version of the painkiller is now seen mostly as a white powder that can mixed with heroin for an extra kick and as blue pills that are counterfeits of prescription drugs like oxycodone.
Trump, in Interview, Calls Wall Talks 'Waste of Time' and Dismisses Investigations - The New York Times
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 04:10
Video In an interview with The New York Times on Thursday, President Trump indicated he would most likely take action on his own after talks with Congress end in two weeks. Credit Credit Tom Brenner for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- A defiant President Trump declared on Thursday that he has all but given up on negotiating with Congress over his border wall and will proceed without lawmakers even as he dismissed any suggestions of wrongdoing in the investigations that have ensnared his associates.
In an interview in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump called the talks ''a waste of time'' and indicated he will most likely take action on his own when they officially end in two weeks. At the same time, he expressed optimism about reaching a trade deal with China and denied being at odds with his intelligence chiefs.
''I think Nancy Pelosi is hurting our country very badly by doing what she's doing and, ultimately, I think I've set the table very nicely,'' Mr. Trump said. He made no mention of closing the government again, a move that backfired on him, but instead suggested he plans to declare a national emergency to build the wall. ''I've set the table,'' he said. ''I've set the stage for doing what I'm going to do.''
Addressing a wide range of subjects, Mr. Trump brushed off the investigations that have consumed so much of his presidency, saying that his lawyers have been reassured by the outgoing deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, that the president himself was not a target. ''He told the attorneys that I'm not a subject, I'm not a target,'' Mr. Trump said. But even if that is the case, it remains unknown whether the matter would be referred to the House for possible impeachment hearings.
Mr. Trump added that he never spoke with Roger J. Stone Jr., his longtime associate who was indicted last week, about WikiLeaks and the stolen Democratic emails it posted during the 2016 election, nor did he direct anyone to do so.
''No, I didn't. I never did,'' he said of speaking with Mr. Stone on the subject. Did he ever instruct anyone to get in touch with Mr. Stone about WikiLeaks? ''Never did,'' he repeated.
The president dismissed the importance of the proposed Trump Tower his team was seeking to build in Moscow at the height of the 2016 campaign and he denied his own current lawyer's account of how late in the campaign he was still discussing the project. He denied that his Twitter messages about former associates who are cooperating with prosecutors amount to witness tampering.
Mr. Trump also said he played no role in directing White House officials to arrange for Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, to receive a top-secret clearance. Mr. Kushner's application was rejected at least once after concerns were raised by the F.B.I. about his foreign contacts. The C.I.A., which also raised concerns, has continued to deny him access to ''sensitive compartmentalized information.''
The interview with Mr. Trump came on a busy day at the White House as the president seeks to rebound from the 35-day partial government shutdown that failed to force Democrats to finance his wall and took a toll on his poll numbers. With most Americans blaming him for the standoff, Mr. Trump expressed frustration that he has not gotten credit for what he sees as his accomplishments, including deregulation, increased military spending and the nuclear talks with North Korea.
Fresh from a meeting on trade with China's vice premier, Mr. Trump seemed relaxed and confident as he sought to make his case, distributing handouts including, at one point, printed copies of two tweets sent out in his name even as he was speaking with his visitors.
The interview was arranged after Mr. Trump reached out to A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, and invited him for an off-the-record dinner. Mr. Sulzberger declined, saying he would prefer an on-the-record interview that included two of his reporters. The president agreed.
'I Love This Job'Mr. Trump sat behind the Resolute Desk, sipping periodically from a glass of Diet Coke with ice cubes floating in it and resting on a gold coaster. His acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; his senior communications adviser, Bill Shine; and his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, sat in on the session with Mr. Sulzberger and the two reporters.
Mr. Trump spoke with a low voice, his arms folded tightly during questions about the Russia inquiry as his aides grew fidgety. But he was more good humored at other points. He grew most animated when condemning media coverage he considers unfair. He disputed persistent reports of dysfunction in the White House, noting that his staff write up summaries of kiss-and-tell books that have been published for him to peruse.
''I have somebody '-- boom boom, they give me the quotes.''
At one point, he scoffed at the notion that he was making money from the presidency, calling the job a ''loser'' financially.
''I lost massive amounts of money doing this job,'' he said. ''This is not the money. This is one of the great losers of all time. You know, fortunately, I don't need money. This is one of the great losers of all time. But they'll say that somebody from some country stayed at a hotel. And I'll say, 'Yeah.' But I lose, I mean, the numbers are incredible.''
Still, he rejected speculation that he might not run for re-election next year. ''I love this job,'' he said. And he said he did not think he would face a challenger for the Republican presidential nomination, even though several candidates are mulling a race. ''I don't see it,'' he said. ''I have great support in the party.''
Watching the emerging Democratic field, Mr. Trump said the opposition party has ''really drifted far left,'' and he derided Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts as damaged while expressing admiration for the campaign kickoff of Senator Kamala Harris of California, who drew thousands of supporters.
''I would say the best opening so far would be Kamala Harris,'' he said, pronouncing it ''Kameela.'' ''I would say in terms of the opening act, I would say, would be her.'' He added, ''A better crowd, better crowd, better enthusiasm.''
''Some of the others were very flat,'' he added. ''I do think Elizabeth Warren's been hurt very badly with the Pocahontas trap,'' he added, using a favorite slur to refer to the senator's effort to prove she has Native American heritage. ''I think she's been hurt badly. I may be wrong, but I think that was a big part of her credibility and now all of a sudden it's gone.''
He had tough words as well for Ms. Pelosi, who has adamantly refused to approve even a dollar of the $5.7 billion he has sought for his border wall, which she has denounced as ''immoral.'' Mr. Trump had gambled that he could force her to back down through the government shutdown and was vexed when he could not.
''I've actually always gotten along with her, but now I don't think I will any more,'' Mr. Trump said. ''I think she's doing a tremendous disservice to the country. If she doesn't approve the wall, the rest of it's just a waste of money and time and energy because it's desperately needed.''
Mr. Trump has been considering an emergency declaration to spend money on a wall even without congressional approval, an action that even some Republicans have objected to and that would certainly draw a court challenge. ''I'll continue to build the wall and we'll get the wall finished,'' he said. ''Now whether or not I declare a national emergency '-- that you'll see.''
Defends Syria PolicyThe president defended his decisions to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan on the same day that the Senate advanced a Republican-sponsored measure condemning a ''precipitous withdrawal'' from those two countries. ''I got elected on saying we're getting out of these endless wars,'' he said.
Given that, however, he did not explain why he has taken such an assertive stance in trying to force out President Nicols Maduro of Venezuela, even leaving open a military option, while not criticized other autocratic countries like Saudi Arabia. ''I'm just saying this: Terrible things are going on. Terrible things are going on in Venezuela,'' he said.
''Now in Saudi Arabia, a lot of improvement has been made in Saudi Arabia,'' he said, while adding that the assassination of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was ''a terrible crime.''
On another point of contention, the president noted that he summoned his intelligence chiefs, including Dan Coats, the national intelligence director, to the White House on Thursday because he had heard they had contradicted his foreign policy during testimony to Congress this week. Mr. Coats and the others told lawmakers that North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear arsenal, that Iran has not restarted work to build one and that the Islamic State was not defeated, all assessments that clash with the president's worldview.
But Mr. Trump said the intelligence chiefs told him their presentation was misinterpreted. ''They said, 'Sir, our testimony was totally mischaracterized,''' Mr. Trump said. ''I said, 'What are you talking about?' And when you read their testimony and you read their statements, it was mischaracterized by the media.'' Even though he had assailed the chiefs earlier in the week, he said, ''I'm happy with Dan Coats.''
Mr. Trump said he has likewise received reassurances from Mr. Rosenstein, who until Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired in November was overseeing the Russia investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
''Rod told me I'm not a target of the investigation,'' he said at one point, but then later suggested he had not talked with him directly. ''The lawyers ask him. They say, 'He's not a target of the investigation.''' Asked if that also covered the separate investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, he said, ''I don't know about that.''
But he denied having anything to do with Mr. Stone's involvement with WikiLeaks, which during the campaign posted online Democratic emails that were stolen by Russian intelligence services. He expressed sympathy for Mr. Stone for his arrest at the hands of heavily armed F.B.I. agents.
''I've always liked '-- I like Roger, he's a character,'' Mr. Trump said, insisting that the F.B.I. agents charging ''a house like they did at six o'clock in the morning. I think that was a very sad thing for this country.''
The Moscow ProjectMr. Trump offered a vague account of his involvement in the proposed Moscow project. Michael D. Cohen, his former personal lawyer, has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project and told authorities that talks continued into the summer of 2016 even as Mr. Trump was securing the Republican nomination.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president's current lawyer, said recently that talks went all the way through the November election, only to later claim that he was mistaken and speaking only hypothetically.
''He was wrong,'' Mr. Trump said on Thursday. ''Rudy has been wrong a little bit. But what has happened is this: I didn't care. That deal was not important. It was essentially a letter of intent or an option.''
Asked when the last conversation he had about the project, he said, ''I would say it was early to middle of the year. Now, I don't know that Cohen didn't go a little bit longer than that. I don't think it would be much longer.'' He added: ''I was running for president, I was doing really well. The last thing I cared about was building a building.''
Mr. Cohen has been the focus of Mr. Trump's ire lately, including hostile Twitter messages that his former lawyer and others interpreted as a threat. Among other things, the president has written that authorities should be looking into Mr. Cohen's father-in-law.
''It's not witness tampering,'' Mr. Trump said. ''It's not witness tampering at all.''
Asked what the point was then, he said, ''I think people have the right to speak their mind. You know, speaking your mind. I've heard that for a period of time. But other people have said it, too. I mean, many people have said it.''
He denied that he was upset to see William P. Barr, his nominee for attorney general, attest to his long relationship with Mr. Mueller during confirmation hearing and commit to letting the special counsel finish his investigation. ''I did hear the statement and it was totally acceptable to me,'' he said.
He said he was not initially aware that Mr. Barr, as a private lawyer, had drafted a memo criticizing Mr. Mueller's possible approach to obstruction of justice. ''I mean, I read it afterwards,'' he said. ''But I did not know.'' He added, ''I never read the memo.''
Any Collusion?
Russian Lawsuit Update: Mueller Claims He Was HACKED
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 20:48
The Russians sued Special Counsel and Democrat ''fixer'' Robert Mueller. And that poses a major problem for him.Because unlike low-level Trump associates, the Russians aren't intimidated by Mueller. They aren't worried about an FBI raid of any law offices, or having 29 G-men wake them up at 2 am with SWAT vehicles shining lights on their residences.
With Mueller having no leverage against the Russians, he has only one defense: the Russians hacked me.
According to The Washington Examiner, Mueller claims the Russians hacked his team, then tweeted out altered versions of his files. All this to spread ''disinformation''.
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Latest: Democrats' Top Presidential Candidate CAUGHT in #MeToo Scandal
The allegation was made by Mueller's team in a new court filing Wednesday in the case against Concord Management and Consulting, a Russian company owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a billionaire friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Concord Management helped finance a known Russian troll farm, Internet Research Agency.
According to Mueller, ''certain non-sensitive'' evidence given by federal prosecutors to the defense team was ''altered'' and posted online ''as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system.'' Mueller didn't describe how the information was altered.
Interesting that Mueller claims he was hacked. If this is indeed the case, get your popcorn. Because if the Presidential Campaign of 2016 is any indication, the leaks will soon fly. And like in the campaign, the Democrats (Mueller in this case) will have no ability to stem the tide.
Lesson One: Don't f*ck with the Russians'...unless you're Donald Trump!But were they hacked? This next part of the story doesn't pass the smell test.
According to the court filing, on Oct. 22, 2018, a newly created Twitter account, @HackingRedstone, said: ''We've got access to the Special Counsel Mueller's probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case Concord LLC v. Mueller. You can view all the files Mueller had about the IRA and Russia collusion. Enjoy the reading!''
The tweet linked to a webpage located on an offline file-sharing portal containing folders with ''non-public names and file structure of materials'' produced to Concord's defense team, said Mueller.
Roughly 1,000 of the total 300,000 files posted online matched files produced to Concord Management in discovery, the FBI found.
To me, this sounds like Mueller and team covering their asses. Because if you're going to hack the Mueller team, why let people know? Why not just reveal the information, and let smart people figure it out with clues. Like ''Concord LLC v Mueller''?
However, as the story continues, all the information exposed was ''non-sensitive''.
''The fact that the file folder names and folder structure on the webpage significantly match the non-public names and file structure of the materials produced in discovery, and the fact that over 1,000 files on the webpage match those produced in discovery, establish that the person(s) who created the webpage had access to at least some of the non-sensitive discovery produced by the government in this case,'' the filing said.
No wonder the FBI found ''no evidence'' that federal government servers or Mueller's servers ''fell victim to any computer intrusion.''I suggest that Mueller and team leaked this information as an alibi for when the real truth comes out about what they tried to do to the Russians.
And the ruse gets even better when it's tied to Facebook. Because we all know the Russians spent that $100,000 in political ads to influence the election, right?
According to a footnote, the files include images of political memes from Facebook and other social media accounts that were, as alleged in the indictment against Concord, posted and reposted online by Russian troll agency IRA. They were produced as nonsensitive to the defense, says Mueller, but many of the images are ''presumably still available elsewhere on the Internet.''
So information ''available elsewhere on the Internet'' was exposed in the hack? Hmmm, ok Mueller, I get it.
But I also get that Mueller doesn't want to provide the Russians or any other plaintiff against him with discovery. Because the cat jumps out of the bag when that happens. If Mueller divulges all the nonsense he's collected and the methods, his case falls completely apart. The article explains:
The filing Wednesday by Mueller was in response to Concord Management's request that the special counsel turn over ''sensitive'' information, so that it can be reviewed by the company's officers and employees in Russia as the defense team prepares for trial.
Mueller's team declined and said doing so ''unreasonably risks the national security interests of the United States.''
There is no risk to national security that the U.S. isn't already fighting. Mueller knows his case against the Russians is a ruse. But he likely didn't expect Leftist to call him on it.Ironically, it may be the Russians who undo Robert Mueller and the other Leftist swamp rats.
Mueller says his files were leaked to Russia, which used them for 'disinformation campaign'
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 20:48
| January 30, 2019 05:47 PM
A pro-Russia Twitter account somehow gained access to nonpublic evidence gathered by special counsel Robert Mueller and tweeted out altered versions of those files as part of a "disinformation campaign," Mueller asserted Wednesday.
The allegation was made by Mueller's team in a new court filing Wednesday in the case against Concord Management and Consulting, a Russian company owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a billionaire friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Concord Management helped finance a known Russian troll farm, Internet Research Agency.
According to Mueller, ''certain non-sensitive'' evidence given by federal prosecutors to the defense team was "altered" and posted online ''as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system.'' Mueller didn't describe how the information was altered.
According to the court filing, on Oct. 22, 2018, a newly created Twitter account, @HackingRedstone, said: "We've got access to the Special Counsel Mueller's probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case Concord LLC v. Mueller. You can view all the files Mueller had about the IRA and Russia collusion. Enjoy the reading!''
The tweet linked to a webpage located on an offline file-sharing portal containing folders with ''non-public names and file structure of materials'' produced to Concord's defense team, said Mueller.
Roughly 1,000 of the total 300,000 files posted online matched files produced to Concord Management in discovery, the FBI found.
Mueller's team noted that the FBI found ''no evidence" that federal government servers or Mueller's servers "fell victim to any computer intrusion.'' Still, it wasn't clear how information on the file structure became public.
''The fact that the file folder names and folder structure on the webpage significantly match the non-public names and file structure of the materials produced in discovery, and the fact that over 1,000 files on the webpage match those produced in discovery, establish that the person(s) who created the webpage had access to at least some of the non-sensitive discovery produced by the government in this case," the filing said.
According to a footnote, the files include images of political memes from Facebook and other social media accounts that were, as alleged in the indictment against Concord, posted and reposted online by Russian troll agency IRA. They were produced as nonsensitive to the defense, says Mueller, but many of the images are ''presumably still available elsewhere on the Internet.''
Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that Concord Management's defense team said on Oct. 23, 2018, that it received inquiries from journalists claiming that they had been offered ''hacked discovery materials from our case'' and that the defense concluded that it was a ''scam'' peddling information from a Concord computer hack in 2014.
But Mueller's team said that was not possible and that ''[t]hese facts establish a use of the non-sensitive discovery in this case in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the protective order."
The filing Wednesday by Mueller was in response to Concord Management's request that the special counsel turn over ''sensitive'' information, so that it can be reviewed by the company's officers and employees in Russia as the defense team prepares for trial.
Mueller's team declined and said doing so ''unreasonably risks the national security interests of the United States.''
"Concord's request to send the sensitive discovery to the Russian Federation unreasonably risks the national security interests of the United States," prosecutors wrote. "Moreover, consistent with the apparent pro-Russian aim of the tweet, to the extent that the individuals who created the webpage reside outside the United States, this contravention is likely to go unpunished."
The court ordered in June 2018 that material designated as ''sensitive'' by the government can only be stored according to a specific U.S. law and not be ''disclosed, transported or transmitted'' outside the U.S. because of ''national security, privacy and law enforcement interests.''
Concord Management was one of three Russian companies and 13 Russians Mueller indicted in February. Concord Management and IRA own Concord Catering, which is run by Prigozhin '-- who has been dubbed "Putin's chef."
All three were charged by Mueller, and none of the company's owners, nor any of the Russians, are in U.S. custody. It is unlikely they ever will be.
Concord Management's lawyer, Eric Dubelier of the Reed Smith law firm, pleaded not guilty for the company in May.
Meanwhile, Twitter has suspended the @HackingRedstone account for violating its rules.
START I - Wikipedia
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 13:32
This article is about the treaty signed in 1991. For the current treaty, see
New START. For the rocket, see
START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a bilateral treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994.[1] The treaty barred its signatories from deploying more than 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and bombers. START negotiated the largest and most complex arms control treaty in history, and its final implementation in late 2001 resulted in the removal of about 80 percent of all strategic nuclear weapons then in existence. Proposed by United States President Ronald Reagan, it was renamed START I after negotiations began on the second START treaty.
The START I treaty expired 5 December 2009. On 8 April 2010, the replacement New START treaty was signed in Prague by United States President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Following ratification by the U.S. Senate and the Federal Assembly of Russia, it went into force on 26 January 2011. This Treaty was the first to provide tremendous reductions of American and Soviet/Russian strategic nuclear weapons.[2]
Proposal [ edit ] Soviet
SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile
The START proposal was first announced by United States President Ronald Reagan in a commencement address at his alma mater, Eureka College on 9 May 1982,[3] and presented by President Reagan in Geneva on 29 June 1982. Reagan proposed a dramatic reduction in strategic forces in two phases, which he referred to as SALT III at the time.[4] The first phase would reduce overall warhead counts on any missile type to 5,000, with an additional limit of 2,500 on ICBMs. Additionally, a total of 850 ICBMs would be allowed, with a limit of 110 "heavy throw" missiles like the SS-18, with additional limits on the total "throw weight" of the missiles as well. The second phase introduced similar limits on heavy bombers and their warheads, and other strategic systems as well.
At the time the US had a commanding lead in strategic bombers. The US B-52 force, while aged, was a credible strategic threat but was only equipped with AGM-86 cruise missiles, beginning in 1982, because of Soviet air defense improvements in the early 1980s. The US also had begun to introduce the new B-1B Lancer quasi-stealth bomber and was secretly developing the Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB) project that would eventually result in the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. The USSR's force was of little threat to the US, on the other hand, as it was tasked almost entirely with attacking US convoys in the Atlantic and land targets on the Eurasian landmass. Although the USSR had 1,200 medium and heavy bombers, only 150 of them (Tupolev Tu-95s and Myasishchev M-4s) could reach North America (the latter only with in-flight refueling). They also faced difficult problems in penetrating the admittedly smaller and less heavily defended US airspace. Possessing too few bombers available when compared to US bomber numbers was evened out by the US forces having to penetrate the much larger and heavier defended Soviet airspace. This changed when new Tu-95MS and Tu-160 bombers appeared in 1984 equipped with the first Soviet AS-15 cruise missiles. By limiting the phase-in as it was proposed, the US would be left with a strategic advantage, for a time.
As Time magazine put it at the time, "Under Reagan's ceilings, the US would have to make considerably less of an adjustment in its strategic forces than would the Soviet Union. That feature of the proposal will almost certainly prompt the Soviets to charge that it is unfair and one-sided. No doubt some American arms-control advocates will agree, accusing the Administration of making the Kremlin an offer it cannot possibly accept'--a deceptively equal-looking, deliberately nonnegotiable proposal that is part of what some suspect is the hardliners' secret agenda of sabotaging disarmament so that the US can get on with the business of rearmament." However, Time did point out that, "The Soviets' monstrous ICBMs have given them a nearly 3-to-1 advantage over the US in 'throw weight''--the cumulative power to 'throw' megatons of death and destruction at the other nation."
Costs [ edit ] Three institutes ran studies in regards to the estimated costs that the United States government would have to pay to implement START I which included the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), and the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). In regards to the CBO estimates, it was assumed that the full-implementation cost would consist of a one-time cost of $410''1,830 million and continuing annual costs of $100''390 million.[5] The SFRC had estimates of $200''1,000 million for one-time costs and that total inspection costs over the 15-year period of the treaty would be $1,250-2,050 million.[6] Finally, the IDA estimated only in regards to the verification costs which they claimed to be around $760 million.[7]
In addition to the costs of the implementation of the treaty, the United States was also paying aid to the former Soviet Union Republics through the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (Nunn-Lugar Program). This program added $591 million to the costs of implementing the START I program in the former Soviet Union, which would almost double the cost of the program for the United States.[8]
After the implementation of the treaty, the former Soviet Union's stock of nuclear weapons would fall from 12,000 to 3,500. The United States would also save money since it would not have to be concerned with the upkeep and innovations towards its own nuclear forces. The CBO estimated that this would amount to a total saving of $46 billion in the first five years of the treaty and around $130 billion through 2010. This would pay for the cost of the implementation of the treaty about 20 times over.[6]
The other risks associated with START is the failure of compliance on the side of Russia. The Senate Defence Committee expressed concerns that Russia could covertly produce missiles, produce false numbers regarding numbers of warheads, and monitoring cruise missiles. The Joint Chiefs of Staff assessment of these situations determined that the risk of a significant violation of the treaty was within acceptable limits. Another risk would be the ability for Russia to perform espionage during the inspection of United States' bases and military facilities. The risk of this was also determined to be an acceptable factor by the assessment.[8]
Considering the potential savings from the implementation of START I and the relatively low risk factor included, Ronald Reagan and the United States Government deemed it a reasonable plan of action towards the goal of disarmament.
Negotiations [ edit ] Negotiations for START I began in May 1982, though continued negotiation of the START process was delayed several times because US agreement terms were considered non-negotiable by pre-Gorbachev Soviet rulers. President Reagan's introduction of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program in 1983 was viewed as a threat by the Soviet Union, and the Soviets withdrew from setting a timetable for further negotiations. In January 1985, however, U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko discussed a formula for a three part negotiation strategy that included intermediate-range forces, strategic defense, and missile defense. During the Reykjavik summit between Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in October 1986, negotiations towards the implementation of the START Program were accelerated. Negotiations turned towards the reduction of strategic weapons when the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in December 1987.[9] Despite this, a dramatic nuclear arms race proceeded during the 1980s, and essentially ended in 1991 by nuclear parity preservation at a level of more than ten thousand strategic warheads on both sides.
Verification Tools [ edit ] The verification regimes in arms control treaties contain many tools that enable them to hold Parties accountable for their actions and violations of their treaty agreements.[2] The START Treaty verification provisions were the most complicated and demanding of any agreement at the time as it provided twelve different types of inspection. Data exchanges and declarations between Parties became required which included exact quantities, technical characteristics, locations, movements, and status of all offensive nuclear threats. The National technical means of verification (NTM) provision protected satellites and other information-gathering systems controlled by the verifying side as they helped to verify adherence of international treaties. The International technical means of verification provision protected the multilateral technical systems specified in other treaties. Cooperative measures were established to facilitate verification by the NTM which included displaying items in plain sight and not hiding them from detection. The new on-site inspections (OSI) and Perimeter and Portal Continuous Monitoring (PPCM) provisions both helped to maintain the integrity of the Treaty by providing a regulatory system manned by a representative from the verifying side at all times.[10] In addition, access to telemetry from ballistic missile flight tests are now required, including exchanges of tapes and ban on encryption and encapsulation from both Parties.[11]
Signing [ edit ] Negotiations that led to the signing of this Treaty began in May 1982. During November 1983, the Soviet Union "discontinued" communication with the United States after American intermediate-range missiles were deployed in Europe. During January 1985, U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko negotiated a three-part plan that included strategic weapons, intermediate missiles, and missile defense which received a lot of attention at the Reykjavik summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and ultimately led to the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in December 1987.[2] Talk of a comprehensive strategic arms reduction continued and the START Treaty was officially signed by U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on 31 July 1991.[12]
Implementation [ edit ] Three hundred sixty-five B-52s were flown to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.[when? ] The bombers were stripped of all usable parts, then chopped into five pieces by a 13,000-pound steel blade dropped from a crane. The guillotine sliced four times on each plane, severing the wings and leaving the fuselage in three pieces. The ruined B-52s remained in place for three months so that Russian satellites could confirm that the bombers had been destroyed, after which they were sold for scrap.[13]
It remains in effect between the U.S. and Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. The latter three became non-nuclear weapons states under the Treaty on the non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1 July 1968 (NPT) as they committed to do under the Lisbon Protocol (Protocol to the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms) after becoming independent nations in the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union.[14][15]
Efficacy [ edit ] Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have disposed of all their nuclear weapons or transferred them to Russia, while the U.S. and Russia have reduced the capacity of delivery vehicles to 1,600 each, with no more than 6,000 warheads.[16]
A report by the US State Department called "Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments" which was released on July 28, 2010, stated that Russia was not in full compliance with the treaty when it expired on 5 December 2009. The report did not specifically identify Russia's compliance issues.[17]
One incident that occurred in regards to Russia violating the START I treaty occurred in 1994. It was announced by ACDA Director John Holum in a congressional testimony that Russia had converted its SS-19 ICBM into a space-launch vehicle without notifying the appropriate parties.[18] Russia justified this incident claiming that it did not have to follow all of START's reporting policies in regards to missiles that had been recreated into space-launch vehicles. In addition to the SS-19, Russia was also reportedly using SS-25 missiles to assemble space-launch vehicles. The issue that the United States had with this was that it did not have accurate numbers and locations of Russian ICBM's with these violations. The dispute was later resolved in 1995.[8]
Expiration and renewal [ edit ] START I expired 5 December 2009. Both sides agreed to continue observing the terms of the treaty until a new agreement is reached.[19] There are proposals to renew and expand the treaty, supported by U.S. President Barack Obama. Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute of the U.S. and Canada, said: "Obama supports sharp reductions in nuclear arsenals and I believe that Russia and the U.S. may sign in the summer or fall of 2009 a new treaty that would replace START-1". He added that a new deal would only happen if Washington abandoned plans to place elements of a missile shield in central Europe. He expressed willingness "to make new steps in the sphere of disarmament", however, saying they were waiting for the U.S. to abandon attempts to "surround Russia with a missile defense ring". This referred to the placement of ten interceptor missiles in Poland, as well as an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic.
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, said, the day after the U.S. elections, in his first state of the nation address, that Russia would move to deploy short-range Iskander missile systems in the western exclave of Kaliningrad "to neutralize if necessary the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe". Russia insists that any movement towards a new START should be a legally binding document, and must, then, set lower ceilings on the number of nuclear warheads, and their delivery vehicles.[16]
On 17 March 2009, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signaled that Russia would begin a "large-scale" rearmament and renewal of Russia's nuclear arsenal. President Medvedev accused NATO of pushing ahead with expansion near Russian borders and ordered that this rearmament commence in 2011 with increased army, naval, and nuclear capabilities. Additionally, the head of Russia's strategic missile forces, Nikolai Solovtsov, told news agencies that Russia would start deploying its next-generation RS-24 missiles after the 5 December expiry of the START-1 treaty with the United States. Russia hopes to change the START-1 treaty with a new accord. The increased tensions come despite the warming of relations between the United States and Russia in the two years since U.S. President Barack Obama took office.[20]
On 4 May 2009, the United States and Russia began the process of renegotiating START, as well as counting both nuclear warheads and their delivery vehicles when making a new agreement. While setting aside problematic issues between the two countries, both sides agreed to make further cuts in the number of warheads they have deployed to around 1,000 to 1,500 each. The United States has said they are open to a Russian proposal to use radar in Azerbaijan rather than Eastern Europe for the proposed missile system. The Bush Administration insisted that the Eastern Europe defense system was intended as a deterrent for Iran, while the Kremlin feared that it could be used against Russia. The flexibility by both sides to make compromises now will lead to a new phase of arms reduction in the future.[21]
A "Joint understanding for a follow-on agreement to START-1" was signed by Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev in Moscow on 6 July 2009. This will reduce the number of deployed warheads on each side to 1,500''1,675 on 500''1,100 delivery systems. A new treaty was to be signed before START-1 expired in December 2009 and the reductions are to be achieved within seven years.[22] After many months of negotiations,[23][24] Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed the successor treaty, Measures to Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, in Prague, Czech Republic on 8 April 2010.
New START Treaty [ edit ] Main article New START Treaty
The New START Treaty imposed even more limitations on the United States and Russia which reduced them to both significantly less strategic arms within seven years from when it enters into full force. Organized into three tiers, the new Treaty focusses on the Treaty itself, Protocol which contains additional rights and obligations regarding the Treaty provisions, and Technical Annexes to the protocol.[25]
These limits were based on stringent analysis conducted by Department of Defense planners in support of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review. These aggregate limits consists of 1,550 nuclear warheads which includes warheads on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), warheads on deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), and even any deployed heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments. This is 74 percent fewer than the limit previously set in the 1991 Treaty and 30 percent fewer than the limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty. Both parties will also be limited to a combined total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments. There is also a separate limit of 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments which is less than half the corresponding strategic nuclear delivery vehicle limit imposed in the previous Treaty. Although these new restrictions have been set, the new Treaty does not contain any limitations regarding the testing, development, or deployment of current or planned U.S. missile defense programs and low-range conventional strike capabilities.[25]
The duration of the new Treaty is ten years and can be extended for a period of no more than five years at a time. It includes a standard withdrawal clause like most arms control agreements. The 2002 Moscow Treaty has been superseded by thus subsequent Treaty.[25]
Memorandum of Understanding data for START 1 [ edit ] Russian FederationDateDeployed ICBMs and Their Associated Launchers, Deployed SLBMs and Their Associated Launchers, and Deployed Heavy BombersWarheads Attributed to Deployed ICBMs, Deployed SLBMs, and Deployed Heavy BombersWarheads Attributed to Deployed ICBMs and Deployed SLBMsThrow-weight of Deployed ICBMs and Deployed SLBMs (Mt)1 July 2009[26]8093,8973,2892,297.01 January 2009[27]8143,9093,2392,301.81 January 2008[28]9524,1473,5152,373.51 September 1990 (USSR)[29]2,50010,2719,4166,626.3United States of AmericaDateDeployed ICBMs and Their Associated Launchers, Deployed SLBMs and Their Associated Launchers, and Deployed Heavy BombersWarheads Attributed to Deployed ICBMs, Deployed SLBMs, and Deployed Heavy BombersWarheads Attributed to Deployed ICBMs and Deployed SLBMsThrow-weight of Deployed ICBMs and Deployed SLBMs (Mt)1 July 2009[26]1,1885,9164,8641,857.31 January 2009[27]1,1985,5764,5141,717.31 January 2008[28]1,2255,9144,8161,826.11 September 1990[29]2,24610,5638,2102,361.3See also [ edit ] Strategic Arms Limitation TalksSTART IISTART IIIRS-24New STARTReferences and notes [ edit ] ^ [dead link ] "Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I): Executive Summary". The Office of Treaty Compliance. Archived from the original on 6 January 2011 . Retrieved 5 December 2009 . ^ a b c "Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Strategic Offensive Reductions (START I) | Treaties & Regimes | NTI". ^ Eureka College Commencement Speech, 1982 ^ Time to START, Says Reagan ^ U.S. Costs of Verification and Compliance Under Pending Arms Treaties, U.S. Congress, Congressional Budget Office, September 1990. ^ a b The START Treaty, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, September 18, 1992. ^ Arms Control Reporter, 1994, pp. 701.D.5-15. ^ a b c Allan S. Krass, The United States and Arms Control: The Challenge of Leadership, Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT 1997 ^ KM Kartchner, Negotiating START: Strategic Arms Reduction Talks and the Quest for Strategic Stability ^ Woolf, Amy F. ''Monitoring and Verification in Arms Control .'' Congressional Research Service, 23 Dec. 2011, fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/R41201.pdf. ^ Ifft, Edward (2014). Verifying the INF and START Treaties. American Institute of Physics Publishing. ^ Freedman, Lawrence D. ''Strategic Arms Reduction Talks.'' Britannica, www.britannica.com/event/Strategic-Arms-Reduction-Talks#ref261940. ^ CNN. Special: COLD WAR. "Uncle Sam's salvage yard: A Cold War icon heads for the scrap heap" By Andy Walton, CNN Interactive Archived 23 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine ^ Lisbon Protocol, signed by the five START Parties 23 May 1992. ^ CIA Fact Book ^ a b "Russia, U.S. May sign new START treaty in mid-2009". ^ Gertz, Bill, "Russia Violated '91 START Till End, U.S. Report Finds", Washington Times, 28 July 2010, p. 1. ^ A Revitalized ACDA in the Post-Cold War World, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, June 23, 1994 ^ "US rejects Russian missile shield concerns". BBC News. 29 December 2009. ^ https://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090317/ts_afp/russianatomilitarynuclear ^ Barry, Ellen (5 May 2009). "U.S. Negotiator Signals Flexibility Toward Moscow Over New Round of Arms Talks". The New York Times . Retrieved 1 April 2010 . ^ US and Russia agree nuclear cuts, accessed 16 July 2009 ^ Baker, Peter; Barry, Ellen (24 March 2010). "Russia and U.S. Report Breakthrough on Arms". The New York Times . Retrieved 1 April 2010 . ^ Early March 2010 Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had proposed to both Russia and the United States to sign the treaty in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine (Source: Ukraine awaiting reply to offer of Kyiv as venue for Russia-U.S. arms cuts deal signing, Kyiv Post (16 March 2010)) ^ a b c Columbia International Affairs Online, 2010, http://www.ciaonet.org/record/18773?search=1 ^ a b START data for 1 July 2009 on state.gov ^ a b START data for 1 January 2009 on state.gov ^ a b START data for 1 January 2008 on cdi.org Archived 3 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine ^ a b START data for 1 September 1990 on fas.org External links [ edit ] START1 treaty text, from US State DepartmentEngineer Memoirs - Lieutenant General Edward L. Rowny, ambassador for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (START)
Clinton Foundation Launches Puerto Rico, Virgin Island Energy Effort | News | PND
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 12:07
The Clinton Foundation has announced a partnership with the Solar Foundation and other humanitarian groups to help restore electricity in hurricane-battered Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Through the Solar Saves Lives initiative, the group, which includes the two foundations as well as Operation Blessing, Direct Relief, Team Rubicon and J/P HRO, will join an assortment of solar energy companies to organize donations of solar and solar-storage technologies for use in regions affected by recent hurricanes. Organized by the Clinton Foundation and led by the Solar Foundation, the initiative will coordinate transportation of solar equipment directly to affected areas, coordinate shipping and distribution with partners, and ensure proper installation and service. Donations are being made at the request of local governments and are intended to fulfill specific needs on the ground, as assessed by local officials and relief organizations.
The initiative is being launched with more than $5 million in solar equipment donations from more than twenty companies and organizations, including Sunrun, BayWa r.e. Solar Systems, the SunSpec Alliance, CAM Solar, Carolina Solar Energy, So-Light, Renogy, Campervan HQ, and Prana Power, among others. The equipment ranges from portable solar equipment such as lanterns and cell chargers, to larger items such as solar refrigeration units, solar water-purification units, and equipment for large-scale solar installations. Several companies also have pledged cash donations from corporate matches, employee giving campaigns, and fundraisers.
"The hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have created an ongoing humanitarian disaster that has left millions of Americans without power," said Solar Foundation president and executive director Andrea Luecke. "Solar Saves Lives will provide a central place where solar companies and other supporters who want to help but may not know how [and] can deliver urgently needed equipment to critical areas impacted by the hurricanes. We hope this collaborative effort will be a foundation for the industry's response to future emergencies."
(Photo credit: Solar Saves Lives)
The Clinton Foundation aids Puerto Rico - Axios
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 12:05
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StoriesPhoto: Adam Schultz via Clinton Foundation
Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, visiting Puerto Rico for the Clinton Foundation, join Jos(C) Andr(C)s to greet Franco and Natalia Marcano Medina at their Cosechas Tierra Viva farm.
The backdrop: The farm highlights the potential for small farmers to increase their outputs through sustainable farming practices and cutting-edge technology. This is one of the local farms that supply food to Jose Andr(C)s' World Central Kitchen.
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Big Nicotine
Amid Criticism, Juul is Launching a New Television Campaign | Fortune
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 14:43
Just two months after agreeing to no longer sell its flavored pods in stores, e-cigarette company Juul is planning to launch its first television ad campaign.
The ads, which are expected to air this summer, will feature testimonials from adults that have used Juul to help them stop smoking cigarettes, Business Insider reports.
Juul removed its flavored pods from stores amid criticism that the pods specifically target teens. It also deleted its Facebook and Instagram accounts promoting the flavored pods and has asked Twitter to ''police'' its social posts so they're not shown to underage users.
The television ads will reportedly cost Juul $10 million and will air on national cable channels after 10 p.m. According to executives, the ads are targeted at adults 35 and older and include testimonials from smokers between the ages of 37 and 54.
The move is especially interesting because cigarette makers are exceptionally restricted in how they can advertise on television or in print. Those same regulations have yet to be applied to e-cigarette manufacturers.
In October, Juul was able to reach and exceed the $10 billion valuation level last month, just seven months after its first venture capital raise, the fastest any company has ever achieved the status.
According to Neilsen, Juul currently owns 75% of the e-cigarette market.
Big Tobacco to Spend Millions on Self-Critical Ads in U.S. | Fox Business
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 14:41
Broadcast television networks and metro newspapers are about to get a boost from an unexpected but familiar source: Big Tobacco.
It's an old media buy to resolve an old fight. Starting as soon as next month, Altria Group Inc. and British American Tobacco PLC will begin running court-mandated ads to put to rest a lawsuit brought nearly two decades ago by the U.S. Department of Justice over misleading statements the industry had made about cigarettes and their health effects.
The television spots, between 30 and 45 seconds long, will run in prime time five days a week for 52 weeks, and will appear mostly on ABC, CBS or NBC, Altria said. They won't have the graphic images of a typical antismoking public service announcement. Instead, these ads will be reminiscent of the disclosure statement at the end of a pharmaceutical ad, displaying court-mandated text in black on a white screen with a voice narration.
"Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive," one ad will say. Another reads: "More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined."
Although the starkness of the black-and-white text ads could be persuasive because they are so out of the ordinary, ad executives said, it is unclear how effective they will be in an age when fewer young people are watching broadcast TV or reading newspapers.
"The good news for the tobacco companies is they'll avoid a lot of their younger audience" who would be more likely to see a video ad on Facebook than a prime-time TV ad, said John Boiler, co-founder of 72andSunny, an agency that does work for the antitobacco nonprofit Truth Campaign. "I think they're getting off kind of lightly."
Marlboro maker Altria, which owns Philip Morris USA, estimates that it will spend $31 million to broadcast and publish the statements on TV, in newspapers, on company-owned websites and in pamphlets tucked inside the cellophane wrappers on cigarette packs. A spokesman for BAT's U.S. subsidiary Reynolds American, which makes Camels and acquired Newport maker Lorillard in 2015, declined to say how much the company expects to spend.
All the defendants named in the Justice Department's 1999 lawsuit are now owned by either Altria or BAT.
Full-page print ads will appear in at least 45 newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, starting as soon as Nov. 26, according to a document filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Monday evening by attorneys for Altria, BAT and the Justice Department, outlining their agreement. The print ads will run on five weekends spread over about four months, according to the court filing. Ads will also appear on the newspapers' websites.
Tobacco companies used to be a staple of Madison Avenue ad agencies with figures like the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel, but they have sharply curbed their advertising spending in the U.S. They are no longer allowed to advertise their products on television or billboards, and their legal settlements have funded more than $1 billion dollars in antismoking campaigns.
"This industry has changed dramatically over the last 20 years," Altria's General Counsel Murray Garnick said in a statement, noting that the company supported the 2009 law that gave the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco. "We're focused on the future and... working to develop less risky tobacco products."
The FDA recently unveiled plans to overhaul how it regulates tobacco, aiming to reduce nicotine in cigarettes so they're no longer addictive and encourage cigarette smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives.
Write to Jennifer Maloney at jennifer.maloney@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 03, 2017 06:14 ET (10:14 GMT)
Learn to Code
BuzzFeed's unpaid quiz genius, Rachel McMahon, on the layoffs and why she works for free.
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 12:54

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Stop Calling Mike Pence Homophobic
Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s “homophobia” is perhaps this election’s most noisome shibboleth. Pence is no defender of LGBT rights, but the evidence Trump’s running mate is America’s nastiest anti-gay politician is surprisingly thin.
(Full disclosure: I voted for Kaine, and my alarm at the incoming regime is literally sending me into exile.)
Gay pundits portray Pence as some 21st century Jesse Helms. To John Aravosis, he’s a “raging homophobe” and Michelangelo Signorile lamented his “blatant anti-LGBT extremism.” Many LGBT Americans were disappointed moderator Elaine Quijano did not challenge Pence on his “bigotry” during the vice presidential debate.
But gay Democrats unfairly distort Pence’s record with distractions – and sometimes outright lies. Facing the most gay-friendly Republican nominee in history, the LGBT intelligentsia have engineered a phobic Frankenstein Veep to keep their minions from considering non-leftist alternatives.
Start with the most fabulously contrived lie about Mike Pence: that he supports “conversion therapy,” or in one grotesque iteration, that Pence “advocated forpublic spending on conversion therapyin Indiana.” (Bold in original.) The article’s hyperlinks provide no support for the baseless charge.
Conversion (or “reparative”) therapy noxiously tells people, including teens participating involuntarily, that navel-gazing, role-playing, and prayer can “heal” their homosexuality. I’ve been denouncing this fraudulent practice for a decade, since it doesn’t work, misrepresentsgenuine religion, insults the integrity of queer experience, and tortures innocent youth.
But by definition, CONVERSION therapy (sometimes called “reorientation therapy”) exploits the lie that homosexuality is a curable orientation, not some set of behaviors. A celibate reparative patient who remains drawn to the same sex is an utter failure to the conversion crowd. The “ex-gay” focus on orientation rather than behavior is why the phenomenon is so destructive.
Obviously a queer person can temporarily stop having sex – or at least reduce their same-sex encounters. But the “conversion” model is devastating to participants and, in fact, to the entire gay community, because it causes Americans to think, “they wouldn’t be gay anymore if they only got some help.”
By contrast, an anti-HIV program helping gay men reduce or eliminate high-risk sexual activity seems almost quaint.
And that’s what the people penning Mike Pence’s Web site (I’ve seen no evidence he wrote it personally) referred to in 2000 when they said federal AIDS money should be redirected “toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Those 14 words are the only evidence Pence’s detractors have proffered to show the man supports conversion therapy. But conversion therapy is about changing sexual orientations, not behavior. That’s why we’ve been fighting it so hard!
Then there’s the widespread claim that in 2006 Pence called being gay a choice, or – as Signorile and others have quoted it – “a choice.”
Even novice journalists don’t treat paraphrases as quotes. Anything between quotation marks must have been literally spoken. Try, for fun, to find the phrase “a choice” in the only relevant section of Pence’s speech that year:
“This debate today is not about discrimination. I believe that if someone chooses another lifestyle than I have chosen, that is their right in a free society.”
A tendentious but fair reading would interpret “lifestyle” as sexual orientation, thus allying Pence with the silly notion that people pick “lesbian” out of the sexuality catalog. A more generous reading, though, suggests “lifestyle” in the dictionary sense of “habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc. that together constitute the mode of living.” Under that denotation, gay people really do choose their lifestyle. Nobody is “born that way” loving show tunes or the LPGA.
But even a journalist who’s sure Pence meant people select a sexuality at will must acknowledge the ambiguity – and never snuggle a two-word invented phrase (“a choice”) between quotation marks as if Pence said it himself.
(By the way, Signorile and Aravosis would be well-advised to stop hyperlinking to articles that demonstrate their own deceit. Come on, make this a little challenging!)
Many complaints about Pence relate to dead issues like gay marriage and gays in the military that courts and Congress have settled, with dubious prospects for revival. It’s possible given a few years of gay marriage normalcy that Pence’s views would evolve like President Obama’s did, and it’s unfair to fossilize his defunct positions.
Finally, Pence’s promotion of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) attracted unflattering attention. I’ve already writtenaboutthis subtle topic at length, but briefly: Pence did not try to help people refuse services to LGBT people as people. In fact, the notorious bakers and florists have repeatedly said they’re happy to sell a lesbian a cookie or select a gay guy’s corsage. They simply refuse to celebrate an EVENT solemnizing a union they consider unholy.
If I tried to buy a wedding cake for my straight cousin, they’d serve me whatever my own sexuality. But if my straight brother ordered a cake for MY same-sex wedding (dream on, Mom), they’d politely decline. Because they’re not discriminating on sexual orientation, just – pardon the wordplay – on ceremony.
Perhaps the rectitude of Pence’s protection of religious freedom would be more clear regarding a non-gay issue like Jewish remarriage
The people at my Orthodox synagogue observe Divine legislation with harsh consequences for the remarriage of a religiously un-divorced woman: a near-curse on the social and religious status of the descendants of that union for eternity. You probably don’t understand, but that’s almost the point – you don’t have to embrace Orthodox Judaism to agree that Indiana should not force a Jewish florist to succor a ceremony she believes would inflict spiritual carnage. (I’m not exaggeratinghere. Ask any Orthodox Jew.)
Now, on LGBT concerns, Pence is no Tim Kaine – or Donald Trump. He is an Evangelical Christian with no doubt some old-fashioned, even off-putting attitudes. But not more than most Evangelical Republicans – and many Southern Democrats until a few years ago, for that matter. People grow.
Which is my hope for Pence. For the first time in his life, he has a boss who operates at complete ease with LGBT people and has admirable instincts on gay issues. As Pence gets to know the country he serves, he may gain comfort with gay concerns, though pundits should holding him accountable if he says anything inaccurate or hurtful about LGBT lives. I intend to do so myself.
Criticism of Pence for lacunae on matters important to America’s gay community – he doesn’t support a federal non-discrimination law, for example – is also fair. But the chattering class has to stop – right now – abusing thin reeds of evidence to portray him as the most hateful kind of bigot.
I mean, some internet memes even assert Pence supports federal spending on electroshock therapy for gay teenagers.
Scapegoating Pence as some monster may help Democrats raise money and rally troops, but it’s not what’s best for the LGBT community. Why not instead cheer that he’s on the most gay-friendly Republican ticket in American history? America’s demagogue-elect achieved the White House by promiscuously bashing American subgroups – Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled, veterans – and inveighed against gays not a single time.
A dubious honor, I know, but a watershed moment nonetheless. Let’s encourage Pence to learn about gay lives, enticing him with honey, not acid. That’s how many once-hostile Democrats became LGBT allies. He’s going to be the Vice President. Shouldn’t we try for the same result with him?
David Benkof is Senior Political Analyst at The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at [email protected].
San Francisco Eatery Bans MAGA Hat-Wearing Customers
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 13:44
The owner of a San Francisco-area eatery announced Sunday that he would refuse service to any customers who walk into his restaurant wearing a ''Make America Great Again'' (MAGA) hat.J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who is a chef-partner at Wursthall restaurant in San Mateo, said in a now-deleted tweet that he would not serve MAGA hat-wearing customers, comparing the red Trump campaign-issued caps to wearing swastikas and white hoods from the Ku Klux Klan.
''It hasn't happened yet, but if you come to my restaurant wearing a MAGA cap, you aren't getting served, same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood, or any other symbol of intolerance and hate,'' according to a now-deleted tweet from Lopez-Alt obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday.
Before the tweet was taken down, it had been retweeted 200 times and received more than 2,100 likes.
Lopez-Alt received online and offline backlash from people who say he was being intolerant of those who had differing political opinions.
Bao Agbayani, who had been visiting the area from the Philippines, said he was alarmed at what Lopez-Alt's rule stood for.
''You're discriminating against those with different political views,'' said Agbayani. ''That's just not OK.''
Jamie Hwang, a resident of San Mateo, said she had ''mixed feelings'' about Lopez-Alt's ban.
''I see where he's coming from, but I don't think you should just keep people out because of a hat,'' said Hwang.
Lopez-Alt, who wrote a book in 2015 called The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, said his restaurant received threatening emails after he posted the tweet but did not make any further comments about the tweet.
Lopez-Alt's comments linking MAGA hat wearers to Klan members echoed actress Alyssa Milano's January 20 comments calling the MAGA hat ''the new white hood.''
The left-wing actress made the comments putting Trump supporters on the same level as racist Klan members after watching a viral unedited video showing a confrontation between a Native American activist and several Covington Catholic High School students.
The activist, Nathan Phillips, accused the students of threatening him. But additional video footage contradicted Phillips' statement, appearing to show the Native American activist going up to the students wearing MAGA hats before aggressively beating a drum in their faces.
Mother who shared story of how her two-year-old son was the victim of a gay slur in Walmart because he wore a pink headband is hospitalized with stress after receiving so many threatening emails in response | Daily Mail Online
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 17:32
Mother who shared story of son, 2, being called a f****t in Walmart because he wore a pink headband is committed to hospital with stress after receiving THOUSANDS of threats Kathleen Carpenter told officers she could not handle the publicity Family received threatening phone calls after blog post about incident Police investigating video surveillance of alleged confrontation at store Harassment case started after mother received more than 11,000 emails ByDaily Mail Reporter
Published: 21:36 EST, 6 August 2013 | Updated: 08:19 EST, 7 August 2013
The mother of a two-year-old boy who was verbally abused by a Walmart customer for wearing a pink headband has been taken to a medical center after becoming stressed from receiving a barrage of threatening phone calls and emails.
Kathleen Carpenter, who writes a blog under the name Katie Vyktoriah, told Polk County police the family had been inundated with threats since details of the incident were published.
After she reported the harassing calls over the weekend, the mother-of-two was taken to a hospital as she struggled to cope with the publicity, according to the Orlando Sentinel .
Made up? Kathleen Carpenter, pictured, confessed on her blog to being a 'pathological liar' and embellishing stories
Concerned for her well-being, police arranged for Ms Carpenter to have a mental health assessment, under Florida's Baker's Act, according to 13 News.
As well as phone calls, the mother-of-two received more than 11,000 emails in response to her blog post, about an alleged incident at the Clermont Walmart.
In a police report Ms Carpenter told deputies 'that the attention obtained by her story and the negative comments and communications to her had become too much stress and she could not handle the situation ... anymore,' and was thinking of killing herself, the Orlando Sentinel reported .
In her original blog post, she explained that a man approached her son at the check out and knocked a pink hairband from his head, which he had been wearing after playing dress up.
She claimed the man then said: 'Your son is a f****** f****t. He'll get shot for it one day,' before walking off and leaving Ms Carpenter shaking as she tried to comfort her son.
Verbal assault: The mother of two said her son was called a f***** for wearing a pink headband to Walmart
However, some people doubted her story and questioned her decision to not press charges.
The 31-year-old has since closed her blog and Twitter account and, in a Facebook post seen by News 13 , she said: 'I a going to be offline for the next while until all of this is resolved,'
She added that she had been advised by police not to discuss the incident further now that it was under investigation.
Lake County police are investigating the alleged incident in Walmart, which Ms Carpenter said happened in Clermont.
In her blog, she explained how she confronted a stranger who had knocked the headband from her son and told him: 'You'll thank me one day little man.'
Harassed: Kathleen Carpenter, pictured with Mark Reed and their children, was committed for threatening suicide after the blog went viral
Ms Carpenter said in her blog that her son just enjoyed playing dress up, and added that two-year-old children did not have any sexuality.
The Lake County Sheriff's Office is trying to obtain surveillance video from the Walmart to verify if the incident did occur.
A case for harassing communication has also been started in response to the barrage of emails Ms Carpenter received after her story was publicized.
''Empire'''s Jussie Smollett Releases First Statement Since Attack: ''I Still Believe That Justice Will Be Served'' | Pitchfork
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 17:31
''Empire'' star Jussie Smollett was attacked in what was an apparent hate crime in Chicago on January 29. Two masked men approached and attacked him, yelling homophobic and racial slurs, according to police. The incident report stated that the individuals also ''wrapped a rope around [Smollett's] neck'' and ''poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim.''
Now, following a statement from his family, Smollett has spoken out for the first time since the attack, giving a statement to Essence. ''Let me start by saying that I'm OK. My body is strong but my soul is stronger,'' he wrote. ''More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.''
The actor continued, ''I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served. As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident, but I need a moment to process. Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It's all I know. And that can't be kicked out of me.''
Mariah Carey defies activists to perform in Saudi Arabia | World news | The Guardian
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 12:47
Singer's publicists claim the show is 'a positive step towards the dissolution of gender segregation' in the kingdom
Mariah Carey pictured in October 2018 at the American Music awards in Los Angeles.Photograph: John Shearer/GettyThe singer Mariah Carey has been criticised by women's rights campaigners, who have accused her of helping to airbrush Saudi Arabia's poor human rights record by agreeing to perform there.
Carey appeared with DJ Tiesto, Sean Paul and the Yemen-born singer Balqees Fathi on Thursday in what she has claimed was an opportunity to work towards gender desegregation in the kingdom.
Activists, however, have rejected that. ''The Saudi government is using entertainment to distract the people from human rights abuses because it can sense the anger among the public,'' said Omaima al-Najjar, a Saudi woman who sought political refuge abroad and co-founded Women for Rights in Saudi Arabia (WARSA).
Najjar said the kingdom uses concerts as a diversion from the Saudi-led war in neighbouring Yemen, human rights abuses committed under the crown prince and repressive male guardianship laws that restrict women's freedoms.
WARSA launched a petition calling on the singer to boycott the country. It said it was focused on Carey because ''she has power to stand for women '... as an artist and as a female''.
Other campaigners had urged Carey to take notice of fellow Saudi women's rights activists who have been imprisoned in recent months, and Najjar said artists such as Carey should make their performances in Saudi Arabia conditional on the release of such people. She said a boycott would not impact ordinary Saudis because many could not afford concert tickets, which started at about £60, with VIP seats costing about £400.
Carey's publicists told the Associated Press that, when ''presented with the offer to perform for an international and mixed gender audience in Saudi Arabia, Mariah accepted the opportunity as a positive step towards the dissolution of gender segregation''.
They added: ''As the first female international artist to perform in Saudi Arabia, Mariah recognises the cultural significance of this event and will continue to support global efforts towards equality for all.'' The statement said that Carey ''looks forward to bringing inspiration and encouragement to all audiences.
Yellow Jackets
Gele hesjes demonstreren in Maastricht tegen Rutte en de EU | NOS
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 13:44
In Maastricht demonstreren honderden mensen in gele hesjes. Ze protesteren tegen premier Rutte en willen dat Nederland net als het Verenigd Koninkrijk uit de Europese Unie stapt. De politie heeft een persoon aangehouden voor belediging, ook is iemand gewond geraakt door vuurwerk.
De Nederlandse gele hesjes krijgen steun uit het buitenland. Zo zijn er ook demonstranten uit Belgi, Frankrijk en Duitsland. Ze lopen een route van zes kilometer door de stad die begint bij het MVV-stadion en eindigt bij het Plein 92. Veel demonstranten dragen anti-EU-spandoeken.
Het Verdrag van MaastrichtDe organisatie koos voor Maastricht als locatie voor het protest omdat daar in 1992 het Verdrag van Maastricht werd getekend, waarmee de Europese Unie werd opgericht.
Het protest in het regenachtige Maastricht verloopt vreedzaam, al zijn rookbommen in de stoet afgestoken en is veel politie op de been. De organisatie had op 2000 deelnemers gerekend, maar dat aantal is niet gehaald.
Ook in Frankrijk weer gele hesjesIn Frankrijk zijn voor de twaalfde zaterdag op rij demonstranten in gele hesjes de straat op gegaan om te protesteren tegen het beleid van president Macron. Deze week richt het protest in Parijs zich vooral op het geweld dat de politie tegen de demonstranten gebruikt. Sinds de protesten begonnen in november raakten zeker 2000 mensen gewond.
Gisteren oordeelde de hoogste rechter in Frankrijk dat de politie rubberkogels mag blijven gebruiken bij de protesten van de gele hesjes. Een mensenrechtenorganisatie spande een rechtszaak aan, omdat er veel mensen gewond raakten door de kogels. De rechter wees erop dat de demonstranten zich meerdere malen schuldig hebben gemaakt aan geweld en vandalisme.
Yellow-vest protests: French demonstrators condemn police violence - BBC News
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 15:15
Image copyright AFP Image caption Protesters are highlighting the fate of those shot by LBD guns France's "yellow-vest" protesters are staging another round of demonstrations against the cost of living and President Emmanuel Macron's policies.
This week they are focusing on the police's use of launchers shooting rubber bullets known as "flash-balls".
Dozens of people have been injured since the weekly protests started in November. Several have lost eyes.
A French court ruled on Friday that police could continue using the guns because of the threat of violence.
Peaceful rallies have sometimes ended in vandalism and 1,000 police officers have been among those wounded. At least 10 deaths have been linked to the unrest.
Last week J(C)r´me Rodrigues, a prominent figure in the "gilets jaunes" (yellow vests) movement, suffered a serious eye injury during a protest in Paris.
Officials have admitted LBD launchers had been fired at the scene - after initially denying it had been the case - but added that the link with his injury was not clear.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Police have issued guidance this week to aim the non-lethal LBD riot gun away from the head Thousands of people are taking part in Saturday's round of marches across France.
A Facebook page set up by the organisers said they wanted to an end to the government's "disproportionate use of force designed to silence the protesters".
What are flash-balls and their effects?The LBD40 is described as a non-lethal weapon which replaced the old "flash-ball" in France. But the old name is still widely used.
It shoots 40mm (1.6in) rubber or foam pellets at a speed of up to 100m per second and is not meant to break the skin. But many of those hit have suffered terrible injuries.
Protester Olivier B(C)ziade, 47, was shot in the temple by a riot gun on 12 January in Bordeaux. Video at the time caught him running from police and then collapsing in the street, his face covered in blood.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Olivier B(C)ziade was critically wounded on 12 January in Bordeaux and only emerged from a coma on Friday He was one of five seriously wounded on that day alone. Campaigners say a dozen people have lost an eye, although the details have not been corroborated.
A lawyer for some of the victims, ‰tienne Nol, said police did not have sufficient training in using the guns and many victims had been hit in the head.
Few European countries use similar anti-riot weapons, but last month the European Court of Human Rights rejected a move to ban them.
Who are the 'gilets jaunes'?The movement was born online and has no overall leader or organisation. Supporters have turned up at marches and roadblocks every Saturday since 17 November.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption France fuel protests: Who are the people in the yellow vests?The "gilets jaunes" derive their name from the high-visibility vests they wear - and which French motorists are required by law to carry in their vehicles.
They initially came together to demonstrate against a sharp increase in diesel taxes, which they say hurt those who live in remote areas and depend on cars.
But since their first marches - and the government's subsequent U-turn on fuel taxes - their demands have expanded to boosting people's purchasing power and allowing popular referendums.
Most "gilets jaunes" live on low to medium incomes. They range from factory workers, mid-level employees to the self-employed (particularly artisans) and retired people.
French 'yellow vests' march through Paris denouncing police violence
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 15:14
Feb. 02, 2019 | 01:41 PM
Protesters wearing a yellow vest (gilet jaune), hold a placard depicting French Gilet Jaune movement leader Jerome Rodrigues with an eye injury, at the start of a march on February 2, 2019 in Paris, called to pacifically protest against police violence toward participants of the last three months demonstrations in France, as Yellow Vest protesters take to the streets for the 12th consecutive Saturday. / AFP / Zakaria ABDELKAFI
Associated Press
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Two sisters bought DNA kits, and the results blew their family apart
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 21:02
(C) Hurwitz and Dolvin family Sonny and Brina Hurwitz raised a family in Boston. They both died with secrets.
In 2016, their oldest daughter, Julie Lawson, took a home DNA test. Later, she persuaded her sister, Fredda Hurwitz, to take one too.
In May, the sisters sat down at the dinner table in Ms. Hurwitz's Falls Church, Va., home to share their results. A man's name popped up as a close genetic match for Ms. Hurwitz. Neither had ever heard of him.
Ms. Lawson searched for the man on Facebook. When she saw his photos, she knew. He looked like their late father. Based on his age and the close physical resemblance, Ms. Lawson immediately told her sister, ''He's got to be our brother.'' This was their father's secret. He had a child they never knew about.
Then came a second shock. Ms. Lawson's test showed she didn't appear to have any genetic connection to this new man. This was their mother's secret: Ms. Lawson was the product of a brief extramarital affair. The man who raised her wasn't her biological father.
The revelations ricocheted through the family. They created new bonds with people who were once strangers. They caused tension with family they had known all their lives. And they sparked a fight between the sisters about the bonds of loyalty'--and how much their parents should have told them.
Ms. Lawson, 65 years old, said she is still grappling with ''the pain of knowing my life was a lie and having all these questions that can't be fully answered because both my parents are gone.''
The hardest part, she said, came the moment she and Ms. Hurwitz, 52, realized they were half, not full, sisters.
''We held each other,'' Ms. Lawson said, ''and we sobbed.''
At a time of ubiquitous direct-to-consumer genetic testing, family confidences are almost impossible to keep. Companies sell their products for under $100, pitched through heartwarming ads. Millions of DNA kits have been sold in recent years that have handed over information both useful and shocking.
Sales of DNA tests are soaring as people seek to learn more about their roots. Ancestry, whose tests the sisters used, reported sales of 14 million DNA kits world-wide as of November, up from 3 million in 2016. A paper published in Genome Biology, a scientific journal, last year estimated more than 100 million people will have their DNA tested by 2021.
Ancestry provides customers who choose to do so with a way to connect online with others who are DNA matches. The company said it has ''a small, dedicated group of highly experienced representatives who speak to customers with more sensitive queries.''
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Genetic counselor Brianne Kirkpatrick, founder of Watershed DNA, which provides consultations to people with DNA questions, advises clients to consider how and whether to share certain information. ''If you have a secret or think something might be uncovered through DNA testing, start preparing what you want to share ahead of time when you can be in control,'' she said.
Ms. Kirkpatrick sometimes suggests clients write letters, explaining details behind their children's genetic origins, which they can give if the secret is revealed. ''I have become of the mind-set it is not a matter of if the secrets will come out,'' she said. ''It is a matter of when the secrets will come out.''
Given the rapid growth of consumer genetic testing, people can often be identified even if they don't take a test themselves. Some people who take tests share family trees online. Amateur genealogists and researchers can identify additional connections through obituaries, wedding announcements, and other public information.
In a paper published in October in the journal Science, researchers estimated over 60% of individuals of European descent in the U.S. now have a third cousin or closer relative in a database. ''DNA tests can reveal that there is something odd going on,'' said Yaniv Erlich, one of the authors and chief science officer of DNA-testing company MyHeritage. ''But they don't tell you the story of what happened.''
In Falls Church, after the test results came back, the sisters sat together and kept staring at pictures of a stranger who looked like their Dad.
Ms. Hurwitz, exhausted and emotional, told her sister she was going to sleep. Ms. Lawson didn't want to wait another moment. She messaged the man, Dana Dolvin, telling him an Ancestry test showed he was a relative, and suggested they talk. He responded right away. It turned out he lived near Falls Church.
He agreed to meet at Ms. Hurwitz's home the next day. He assumed they might be cousins.
When they met, the sisters showed him picture after picture of their late father. The resemblance was uncanny, they all agreed; the eyes, the ears, the height, even down to the glasses and love of wearing hats.
Mr. Dolvin, 62, never met the man listed on his birth certificate as his father, who was his late mother's husband. The couple, both African-American, divorced after his birth. Mr. Dolvin, who has seen pictures, said, ''I didn't look like him.''
When Mr. Dolvin received his own test results, they indicated his DNA was 47% European Jewish. ''I kind of figured my Dad was a fair-skinned person,'' he said.
He wasn't sure he would ever identify his father, or even if the man was still alive. Relatives of the man might not want to share private information with a stranger or might not approve of the fact his parents weren't the same race.
''People don't want to rock the boat,'' he said. ''They also may have different feelings toward people of color.''
The sisters say they knew their parents had marital difficulties over the years so it wasn't a shock to learn their father had an affair. Their parents had a wide circle of friends that included people of different religious and racial backgrounds so they say they weren't surprised their father had an interracial relationship.
''My surprise was that a child existed,'' said Ms. Hurwitz. ''And he looked so much like Dad.''
Mr. Dolvin wasn't certain the women's assumptions about their father were correct. It was hard to believe, he said, ''that I finally got an answer to the question haunting me for such a long time.'' He went home and wondered, ''Are they really my siblings?''
Siblings share around half their DNA. Half-siblings share a quarter, and first cousins, on average, share 12.5%. Mr. Dolvin checked his report and compared the shared DNA for him and Ms. Hurwitz: It indicated they were half-siblings.
That night, excited by Mr. Dolvin's visit, Ms. Lawson couldn't sleep. That is also when she began to wonder why his name hadn't come up on her results. Why did he have a genetic relationship only with her sister?
Ms. Lawson asked for help answering that question from Larry Alssid, 64, a Long Island, N.Y., psychologist, who had contacted her after he took an Ancestry test a few years ago, showing they were related. They could never figure out their connection but had kept in touch.
After hearing her news, Dr. Alssid suspected Ms. Lawson might have a different biological parent than her sister. He didn't want to be the one to tell her the potentially shattering information. ''I slept on it,'' he said.
He told her to check the amount of DNA she and her sister shared in common. Soon she understood: She and her sister didn't have the same biological parents'--or father, to be precise.
''I did regret I told her because she was in shock,'' Dr. Alssid said. ''We still didn't know who her father was.''
Later, Dr. Alssid consulted a family tree and gave her names of four brothers'--distant relatives he had never met'--who he thought could be a match.
Based on their ages, the two youngest, Jack and Ira Greenberg, he said, were the likeliest candidates.
''Jack or Ira? My mother never mentioned those names,'' Ms. Lawson recalled saying. She doubted she would find the answers she wanted.
Dr. Alssid told her that a nephew of Jack and Ira might know more. The nephew, whom she emailed, told her all the brothers went by nicknames. The youngest, Ira, was known as Hy.
''That is when I knew,'' said Ms. Lawson. ''My mother always told me that her first love was a boy named Hy.''
Hy Greenberg was the only brother still alive. An 89-year-old retired traveling salesman, he never married and was living in Florida. His nephew called him about Ms. Lawson's quest. He agreed to a phone conversation.
She started slowly, telling him she was doing a family tree. Did he know a woman named Brina?
He immediately recognized the name. ''Yes,'' he said. ''I dated her, my best friend introduced us.''
Later in the conversation, she asked the key question. ''I have to get personal,'' she said. ''Would your relationship have included sex?''
Mr. Greenberg said yes.
''You are my father,'' Ms. Lawson told him. ''I am your daughter.''
''You've got to be kidding,'' Mr. Greenberg said.
Mr. Greenberg had never done a DNA test. He wasn't interested. And he struggled to understand how Ms. Lawson could use the DNA test results of other relatives of his to identify him as her father. Later, at Ms. Lawson's request, he sent in his own kit. The results indicated they were parent and child.
During their first call, he shared details of his early dates with her mother after he got out of the Navy. She wanted to get serious, he said, but he told her he wasn't interested in marrying. They briefly rekindled the connection years later, after her mother was married. Then they parted ways again.
He never imagined himself being a father, but found they shared a similar sense of humor and a love of storytelling; the conversation lasted hours. She suggested they meet. Mr. Greenberg hesitated, then said, ''You want to come, come.''
In June, Ms. Lawson caught a flight to Florida and knocked on the door of her biological father. It was Father's Day weekend. He called her darling and gave her a hug.
''Welcome home,'' he said.
The visit led Ms. Lawson and her sister to have an intense fight. Ms. Lawson posted a picture of herself and Mr. Greenberg on Facebook, and added she was spending her first Father's Day with her father.
''I was furious,'' said her sister, Ms. Hurwitz. ''I was in tears. I told her Dad is still Dad, and you have just negated his entire existence and everything he ever did for you with that one post.''
Ms. Lawson said she never meant any disrespect to their late father. ''I felt misunderstood,'' she said. ''My brain was so caught up in what is going on.''
She says she feels a powerful emotional connection to her biological father. The next time she went to see him, she took her sister along.
Meeting him was difficult for Ms. Hurwitz. She kept wondering if he was the man whom her mother preferred over her father. ''I didn't know what to say or how to act.''
Getting to know her new half brother has been easier for her. And it has answered questions for him, too. ''I finally got the answer that wasn't supplied to me by people who loved me and who I loved,'' he said.
Growing up, his cousins teased him about the light color of his skin, calling him ''white boy,'' he said. An only child, he frequently asked his mother about his origins. ''Don't worry about it,'' he says she told him. He stopped asking when he was a teenager; his mother died decades ago.
''I was still curious, but no one would tell me,'' he said. ''Emotionally, you wish it could have been another way, but unfortunately, it isn't.''
In the months since they met, the sisters and Mr. Dolvin, and members of their families, have met for dinners and outings. During a visit in Boston, Ms. Lawson took Mr. Dolvin around the neighborhood where she grew up, pointing out family landmarks. He refers to both women as his sisters, even though he shares a biological father with only one.
So far, the sisters' other two siblings, both men, haven't expressed interest in meeting Mr. Dolvin. Phil Hurwitz, 63, who was born six months before Mr. Dolvin, said he remains unsure ''how I want to move forward.''
Ms. Lawson got upset with her brother Phil for not reaching out to Mr. Dolvin. She asked him when he might feel ready.
''I told her I am not putting a time frame on it,'' he said. Their other brother didn't respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Dolvin said he doesn't think it is his place to contact the two brothers. He said he would let them decide ''if they want to welcome me or say 'hi''...'' His voice trailed off for a moment.
''Maybe they don't feel comfortable with it yet. It's a lot to take in.''
Ms. Hurwitz said the news that both parents had children from extramarital affairs forced a kind of reckoning she wasn't sure her brothers were ready to make.
''They have to reconsider completely who their parents were, the lessons they taught us, what they stood for,'' she said. ''Everyone deals with the emotions differently.''
She looked at her sister, who cried quietly at the table. ''It is not up to me to judge the decisions Mom and Dad made,'' Ms. Hurwitz said. ''It was another world and another time.''
Ms. Lawson said, ''I have a hard time when people say it's the past, move on.''
Mr. Dolvin put his arm around her, comforting her. ''I like that we are all together. I'm here. I'm sitting with you.''
There are many unresolved and hard-to-answer questions, such as whether their father was ever told Mr. Dolvin was his son. They don't think their father knew. ''I believe if he knew about Dana, he would have tried to reach out,'' Ms. Hurwitz said.
Her father owned a popular kosher deli in a Boston neighborhood. Mr. Dolvin's mother worked as a cosmetologist in a nearby predominantly African-American neighborhood. Both loved jazz; the siblings speculate the two might have met at one of Boston's jazz clubs.
The sisters believe their mother knew Ms. Lawson was the product of her own affair. Ms. Lawson and her mother had a difficult relationship, and both sisters think the revelation explains why.
''Julie was a reminder of what Mom did,'' Ms. Hurwitz says. ''She had to deal with the consequences every day. How did she keep the secret from Dad?''
Both sisters acknowledge they also can't be sure what either parent shared with the other.
When Ms. Lawson was 29 and Ms. Hurwitz was 16, their parents divorced'--and then got remarried nine years later. They stayed together until he died in 2006. His wife died in 2016.
Ms. Lawson says she told her mother she got DNA test results back, but her mother wasn't interested in talking about them. She died before the second sister took the test whose results revealed so much.
The sisters always return to how much their parents should have told them. Even now, hurt and tensions sometimes flare.
''I understand why you wouldn't tell,'' said Ms. Hurwitz. ''The implications of revealing the secret have a domino effect on everyone else in the family.''
Her sister vehemently disagrees. ''Every man has a right to know he has offspring,'' said Ms. Lawson. ''Every child has the right to know her origins. We missed 65 years together.''
Ms. Lawson wears a birthday present she received from Mr. Greenberg, a necklace of two open hearts connected by her birthstone. She is helping plan a party for his 90th birthday in March.
Since the sisters learned the truth, they said they are learning to live with the uncertainties. ''I have my anger, my compassion, and my understanding, and I can separate all those emotions,'' Ms. Lawson said.
Ms. Hurwitz leaned in closer to her sister. ''Every family has secrets,'' she said.
If you have stories about genetic testing you would like to share, we'd love to hear from you. Please write to Amy Dockser Marcus at amy.marcus@wsj.com
One Of The Biggest At-Home DNA Testing Companies Is Working With The FBI
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 12:56
Family Tree DNA, one of the largest private genetic testing companies whose home-testing kits enable people to trace their ancestry and locate relatives, is working with the FBI and allowing agents to search its vast genealogy database in an effort to solve violent crime cases, BuzzFeed News has learned.
Federal and local law enforcement have used public genealogy databases for more than two years to solve cold cases, including the landmark capture of the suspected Golden State Killer, but the cooperation with Family Tree DNA and the FBI marks the first time a private firm has agreed to voluntarily allow law enforcement access to its database.
While the FBI does not have the ability to freely browse genetic profiles in the library, the move is sure to raise privacy concerns about law enforcement gaining the ability to look for DNA matches, or more likely, relatives linked by uploaded user data.
For law enforcement officials, the access could be the key to unlocking murders and rapes that have gone cold for years, opening up what many argue is the greatest investigative tactic since the advent of DNA identification. For privacy advocates, the FBI's new ability to match the genetic profiles from a private company could set a dangerous precedent in a world where DNA test kits have become as common as a Christmas stocking stuffer.
The Houston-based company, which touts itself as a pioneer in the genetic testing industry and the first to offer a direct-to-consumer test kit, disclosed its relationship with the FBI to BuzzFeed News on Thursday, saying in a statement that allowing access ''would help law enforcement agencies solve violent crimes faster than ever.''
While Family Tree does not have a contract with the FBI, the firm has agreed to test DNA samples and upload the profiles to its database on a case-by-case basis since last fall, a company spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
Its work with the FBI is ''a very new development, which started with one case last year and morphed,'' she said. To date, the company has cooperated with the FBI on fewer than 10 cases.
The Family Tree database is free to access and can be used by anyone with a DNA profile to upload, not just paying customers.
For detectives across the country desperate for leads, investigative genealogy has become the newest frontier for law enforcement agencies. By uploading DNA collected from a crime scene to genealogy databases, detectives have been able to locate distant relatives of suspected serial killers and rapists. Then, assembling a genealogical tree from that information, they have worked to identify suspects of crimes.
Until now, investigators have limited their searches to public and free databases, where genealogy enthusiasts had willingly uploaded the data knowing it could be accessible to anyone.
Now, under the previously undisclosed cooperation with Family Tree, the FBI has gained access to more than a million DNA profiles from the company, most of which were uploaded before the company's customers had any knowledge of its relationship with the FBI.
Despite the concerns over privacy, officials at Family Tree touted their work with the FBI.
''Without realizing it [Family Tree DNA founder and CEO Bennett Greenspan] had inadvertently created a platform that, nearly two decades later, would help law enforcement agencies solve violent crimes faster than ever,'' the company said in a statement.
Officials at Family Tree said customers could decide to opt out of any familial matching, which would prevent their profiles from being searchable by the FBI. But by doing so, customers would also be unable to use one of the key features of the service: finding possible relatives through DNA testing.
For people who used the service not knowing the FBI had access to it, the news was concerning.
''All in all, I feel violated, I feel they have violated my trust as a customer,'' Leah Larkin, a genetic genealogist based in Livermore, California, told BuzzFeed News. ''I've got to decide whether I want to opt out of matching or delete my kits.''
Larkin, one of the administrators of a Facebook genealogy group with about 50,000 members, predicted that enthusiasts will be split, from those who will be fine with law enforcement gaining access to their DNA profiles to others who will be outraged by the invasion of privacy.
''I think it's going to cause a lot of uproar,'' she said. ''We're going to get the full spectrum.''
Law enforcement's use of public databases had already caused concern from privacy advocates who noted that although users submit their DNA profiles willingly, relatives identified by their genetic code have not.
''We are nearing a de-facto national DNA database,'' Natalie Ram, an assistant law professor at the University of Baltimore who specializes in bioethics and criminal justice, told BuzzFeed News. ''We don't choose our genetic relatives, and I cannot sever my genetic relation to them. There's nothing voluntary about that.''
Others aired similar concerns.
''I would be very against Family Tree DNA allowing law enforcement to have open access to their DNA database,'' Debbie Kennett, a British genealogy enthusiast and honorary research associate at University College London said. ''I don't think it's right for law enforcement to use a database without the informed consent of the consumer.''
In December 2018, the company changed its terms of service to allow law enforcement to use the database to identify suspects of ''a violent crime,'' such as homicide or sexual assault, and to identify the remains of a victim.
In a statement, Greenspan, the president and founder of Gene by Gene, Family Tree's parent company, said the firm would not be violating its terms of privacy to its customers, despite the FBI's access.
''We came to the conclusion that if law enforcement created accounts, with the same level of access to the database as the standard FamilyTreeDNA user, they would not be violating user privacy and confidentiality,'' Greenspan said.
In a statement, company officials told BuzzFeed News that despite the FBI's access to the database, agents would not be able to obtain more information than what is accessible to normal users of the service.
''In order for the FBI to obtain any additional information, they would have to provide a valid court-order such as a subpoena or search warrant,'' Greenspan said.
Family Tree had already faced a warrant for information during the search for the Golden State Killer when its parent company was served a federal subpoena in March 2017 for ''limited information'' on an account. That profile, in the end, did not lead to the arrest, but shows law enforcement has been willing to take bold steps.
Under the arrangement, the company has also agreed to test DNA evidence for the FBI in its private laboratory.
Law enforcement had been toying with investigative genealogy for more than a year, but the practice gained international attention in April 2018 when detectives used the technique, scanning a public database, to find a distant relative that led to the eventual arrest of the suspected Golden State Killer, who killed 13 people and raped dozens of others.
The DNA-matching technique was an untested long shot then, and immediately raised questions about privacy, ethics, and legal implications in criminal investigations, yet law enforcement officials have been eager to learn and adopt it.
The FBI, in particular, quietly assembled a small but active unit focused on employing the method to crack some of the nation's most difficult cases.
Led by an attorney in the FBI's Los Angeles office, Steve Kramer, the FBI's Investigative Genealogy Unit has since been deployed across the country, aiding police departments in utilizing the technique and instructing officers on how to employ the new tools.
''This is the new great big revolution in law enforcement,'' Paul Holes, a retired investigator with the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office, who led the team that cracked the Golden State Killer case, told BuzzFeed News. ''It's the first big one since the implementation of DNA 20-some years ago.''
In the last nine months, police in Maryland, Washington, California, and Florida have solved cases using the method after consulting with the FBI's Investigative Genealogy Unit, a federal law enforcement official told BuzzFeed News.
Those familiar with the technique also argue that despite privacy concerns, few would be opposed to helping catch a homicide or rape suspect.
In one informal survey conducted by genealogist Maurice Gleeson, of people involved in genealogy in the US and Europe, 85% of respondents said they were comfortable with law enforcement using their DNA profiles to catch a serial killer or rapist. Ninety-six percent of those who participated in the survey had taken a DNA test.
The FBI declined to offer details regarding how many cases the new unit has participated in, or the makeup of the team.
''We obviously assisted other investigations that have had successful results,'' Laura Eimiller, spokesperson for the FBI's office in Los Angeles, told BuzzFeed News.
The agency declined to comment on its cooperation with Family Tree.
According to the company, it currently has 1,021,774 records in its database. By comparison, Ancestry.com is believed to have a database of about 10 million profiles, while 23andMe counts about 5 million accounts.
Still, Family Tree touts one of the largest Y-DNA databases in the world, which can specifically trace a person's patrilineal ancestry, and can be a valuable tool for investigators.
Like other DNA testing companies, Family Tree has touted its protection of customer privacy. Earlier this year, the company was ranked by US News as the best kit for ''research and strict privacy,'' and PC World named it the best kit for privacy.
Greenspan, in the statement, said that won't change despite the FBI's involvement.
''Working with law enforcement to process DNA samples from the scene of a violent crime or identifying an unknown victim does not change our policy never to sell or barter our customers' private information with a third party,'' Greenspan said. ''Our policy remains fully intact and in force.''
Peter Aldhous contributed reporting to this story.
You Can't Monetize The Network
Fact-checkers quit Facebook's anti-fake-news programme, saying the task has become 'impossible'
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 13:26

A fake news vendor in Manhattan, aiming to educate readers about disinformation - AFP
Two important partners in Facebook's flagship anti-fake-news project have pulled out, with staff at one saying it has become "impossible" to manage the workload.
Snopes.com, a venerable fact-checking website founded in 1994 to debunk urban myths, said it had ended its role in Facebook's fact-checking programme after two years after "evaluating the ramifications and costs".
Snopes' vice president of operations Vinny Green accused the social network of not doing enough to help fact-checkers manage its torrent of fake news, adding that it seemed to be relying on them to do its work.
The Associated Press, one of the world's biggest news agencies, also told Techcrunch that it was ''not currently doing fact-checking work for Facebook", though declined to say why.
"It doesn't seem like we're striving to make third-party fact-checking more practical for publishers," Mr Green told the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. ''It seems like we're striving to make it easier for Facebook."
"At some point, we need to put our foot down.... with a manual system and a closed system, it's impossible to keep on top of that stuff."
He said that Facebook's interface for fact-checkers was painfully slow, and that the company needed to build an API, or specialised data interface, which would let journalists find and debunk fake news more quickly and extensively.
Snopes admitted that by leaving the project would leave give up the grant money it had been receiving from Facebook, which previously came to $100,000 (£76,000), but said it would "adapt to make up for it".
The split follows criticism from two former Snopes employees, who told the Guardian last year that Facebook had used Snopes for "crisis PR" and that it wanted the "appearance of trying to prevent damage without actually doing anything".
David Mikkelson, one of Snopes' founders, disagreed with their depiction of the partnership, but said that Facebook had left his employees in the dark about whether their efforts were working.
Doreen Marchionne, Snopes' managing editor, said employees had expressed frustration about the partnership during two recent staff virtual meetings and through an internal survey.
Sites such as Snopes, Politifact and Factcheck.org are at the centre of Facebook's efforts to fight fake news, receiving money in return for independently checking and rating stories being shared on its service.
The social network has repeatedly emphasised that it does not want to make decisions about what is true and what is false on its own because of the danger to free speech. Instead it "demotes" content that is rated "false" by fact checkers.
According to Meredith Carden, Facebook's head of news integrity partnerships, suspicious stories are referred to fact-checkers by AI systems which look for signs of falseness (such as users expressing disbelief). Those which are rated "false" gain the disfavour of Facebook's algorithms, which the company says reduces their traffic by an average of 80 per cent.
But a report by the Columbia Journalism Review found that many fact-checkers found the programme opaque and were uncomfortable with how little they knew about how Facebook chose the stories that it referred to them.
That left Snopes employees spending more and more of their time dealing with Facebook-recommended content without being able to design new tools to tackle it.
The same report also suggested that the fact-checkers' own activity helped train Facebook's algorithms on what kind of content was rated as false and what kind of content was given a pass.
A spokesman for Facebook said: "We value the work that Snopes has done, and respect their decision as an independent business. Fighting misinformation takes a multi-pronged approach from across the industry. We are committed to fighting this through many tactics, and the work that third-party fact-checkers do is a valued and important piece of this effort.
"We have strong relationships with 34 fact-checking partners around the world who fact-check content in 16 languages, and we plan to expand the program this year by adding new partners and languages.''
Snopes said that it did not rule out working with Facebook again in future.
Speaking before the decision was announced, Mr Green said tech companies such as Facebook needed to give fact-checkers proper access to Facebook's data so that users could flag content to them directly on a large scale.
As it stands, he said, Facebook's recommendations happened "behind closed doors", making it impossible for journalists to keep track of what Facebook users report as fake news.
On Thursday, Facebook revealed that it had taken down almost 800 pages and accounts operated from inside Iran which had been masquerading as local activist groups in various countries and reposting narratives from Iranian state media.
Nathaniel Gleicher, a former White House official who was hired as Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy in early 2018, said that the Iranian networks had been focused on topics such as Israel and Palestine, the wars in Syria and Yemen and the role of the USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia in those conflicts.
He said that the investigation had been aided by a tip-off from Twitter, which announced its own removals of thousands of accounts associated with Iran, Russia and Venezuela.
This year Facebook will open two new election operations centres in Dublin and Singapore in order to coordinate Facebook's response to fake news and information warfare around the world.
AP & Snopes quit 'fact-checking' for Facebook as NewsGuard's blacklist model pushes ahead '-- RT USA News
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 13:22
Two of Facebook's US ''fact-checkers'' tasked with keeping fake news from proliferating have chosen to quit doing the job for the social media giant while issuing cryptic statements concerning their continuing relationship.
Snopes and the Associated Press have both ended their fact-checking partnerships with Facebook, releasing carefully-worded statements that leave open the possibility of future collaboration while making it clear the checking of facts will fall to whoever is left '' Politifact, FactCheck.org, AFP, and the Atlantic Council, which lurks in the background, keeping the platform safe for democracy.
Read more
Snopes, the rumor oracle that became famous for settling the truth of urban legends, issued a statement announcing it had ''elected not to renew [its] partnership'' with Facebook, citing the costs and ''ramifications'' of offering third-party fact-checking while stressing it hopes to ''discuss other approaches to combating misinformation.''
''Forgoing an economic opportunity is not a decision that we or any other journalistic enterprise can take lightly,'' Snopes admits. Like many in the mainstream media these days, the site is adorned with fundraising banners and claims to be cash-strapped. The company received $100,000 from Facebook for its fact-checking services last year, a sum founder David Mikkelson stressed it did not ask for. Regarding the split, Mikkelson told TechCrunch that the partnership ''wasn't working well for us as an organization,'' citing a lack of data on the effectiveness of the fact-checking program.
Former Snopes employees had more to say about Facebook last month, accusing the platform of "using us for crisis PR" and ignoring fact-checkers' concerns '' about fake news, harassment, and even the conscription of the network in the persecution of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims. The financial relationship made one employee feel "really gross," as she felt it prevented the company from accurately reporting on negative rumors involving Facebook. And the site's own fake-news-pushing on George Soros didn't exactly improve morale.
Also on rt.com 'In-house fake news shop' '' Facebook facing new scandal and losing friends The AP had less to say about its pullout, though a representative told TechCrunch that while it was ''no longer doing fact checking work for the program, it is not leaving it altogether.'' Calls for clarification were not immediately answered.
The timing of both companies' recusals is suspicious, given the recent rollout of the Orwellian NewsGuard app on Microsoft's mobile browser and in some US libraries. NewsGuard, an app which users have quickly found assigns reliability ratings based more on a site's conformity to the mainstream neoliberal narrative than its veracity '' has been praised as a great leap forward in the fight against fake news. Is this what Mikkelson means by ''other approaches to combating misinformation?''
Comments from Snopes vice president Vinny Green indicate that NewsGuard's one-stop ''blacklist'' model is the future of ''fact''-checking: ''The work that fact-checkers are doing doesn't need to be just for Facebook '' we can build things for fact-checkers that benefit the whole web, and that can also help Facebook,'' Green told Poynter.
Also on rt.com NewsGuard changes rating to label Mail Online 'trustworthy' '' after executive asks nicely Rather than checking individual facts '' an admittedly time-consuming process '' he suggested ''fake websites'' should ''just be reported through other means'' '' accompanied, of course, by ''a body of evidence that these people shouldn't be on your platform because of their nefarious activity.'' This blacklist model is the core of NewsGuard '' though no activity is so nefarious that one can't find a way to be taken off the blacklist, as suggested by Daily Mail's success in this regard.
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Vice Media to Reorganize, Lay Off 10 Percent of Staff (Exclusive) | Hollywood Reporter
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 13:19

TECH6:43 AM PST 2/1/2019 by Natalie Jarvey
The cuts, which will impact around 250 people, are part of new CEO Nancy Dubuc's strategic plan to tighten spending and achieve profitability.Vice Media is planning a reorganization that will include laying off about 10 percent of its workforce, as the once high-flying startup looks to rein in an unwieldy business that grew quickly during the height of the digital boom.
Around 250 jobs are expected to be cut, a company spokeswoman tells The Hollywood Reporter, as the 2,500-person Vice reduces redundancies internationally and reorients to focus on growth areas like film and television production and branded content. All departments at every level are expected to have layoffs, from IT to finance to television.
"Having finalized the 2019 budget, our focus shifts to executing our goals and hitting our marks," CEO Nancy Dubuc wrote in a memo sent to staff on Friday morning that was shared with THR. "We will make Vice the best manifestation of itself and cement its place long into the future."
Dubuc, in an October interview with THR, was forthcoming about her plans to reorient Vice for the future and tighten its spending in order to put it on a path to profitability, acknowledging that she was "not going to rule out more" layoffs at the company. Vice last year implemented a hiring freeze and attempted to reduce some of its workforce through attrition, but once executives finalized the strategic plan for the year, they made the decision to complete most of the cuts through layoffs.
Dubuc, the former A+E chief, became CEO of Vice at the end of May, taking over for the company's brash founder Shane Smith who announced in March that he would step back into the role of executive chairman. As the first outside CEO at the 25-year-old company, she is now tasked with helping it live up to the high expectations surrounding its $5.7 billion valuation and more than $1 billion in investments from the likes of Fox, Disney and TPG.
One of Dubuc's first projects was setting a plan that would bring order to the chaos that was created during the years when Vice transformed from a Montreal punk magazine to a global media organization. Chasing growth, Smith aggressively took Vice into new markets, opening up offices in nearly 40 countries and striking deals for linear and mobile content with media companies in every major region.
As part of the changes Dubuc laid out for staff on Friday, Vice will restructure its global workforce from one siloed by each international office into one built around its five business priorities going forward: film and TV production unit Studios, its international News team fueled by Vice's relationship with HBO, the digital business, the TV operation led by Viceland and ad agency Virtue. Administrative or support functions like human resources, legal and business development will report into Vice's Brooklyn headquarters or a regional hub.
Employees affected in the U.S., U.K. and Canada are expected to be notified today. The remainder of the cuts will take place over the coming weeks. Vice, whose employees recently ratified new contracts via WGA East, will pay out employee PTO and 10 weeks of severance and medical benefits in the U.S. Global separation packages will vary based on the country.
The company also is planning to invest in areas that Dubuc and her senior leadership team see as growth opportunities going forward. Those include the Studios division, which nabbed around $14 million from Amazon for Adam Driver drama The Report at Sundance this past week; ad agency Virtue, which has added 20 new clients to its roster in 2018; the digital news desk run by Josh Tyrangiel; and the sales team.
It is crucial that Vice, which the Wall Street Journal reported in November was on track to bring revenue between $600 million and $650 million in 2018, become profitable as investors get antsy for the company to find a buyer. Disney took a $157 million write-down on its Vice stake in November.
Dubuc told THR last year, "The question isn't if we're going to be profitable but how soon, and it's sooner than most people think." Per one source, Vice is expecting revenue growth of around 15 percent in 2019.
Vice last conducted a round of layoffs in July 2017, cutting 2 percent of staff, or around 60 employees, as it reoriented around its video efforts following a $450 million capital infusion from TPG.
The changes at Vice come amid an industry-wide contraction as online publishers that flourished during the heyday of social video look to rein in spending and live up to the expectations of the venture capital and traditional media investors that pumped billions into their businesses. This week BuzzFeed completed a round of layoffs that impacted 15 percent of its staff, or around 250 jobs, and Refinery29 cut 10 percent of its workforce last year.
Vice executives contend that the company is less reliant on digital than ever before. That division, which will be consolidated down from more than a dozen digital brands, currently makes up only about 20 percent of the business today, per Vice's spokeswoman.
Dubuc in her memo to staff noted, "We are fortunate that Vice's early diversification has made us more resilient to a shifting industry."
Feb. 1, 7 a.m. Updated to reflect that Vice's 2018 revenue was reportedly between $600 million and $650 million.
Weak Magnetic Fields Manipulate Regeneration in Worms | The Scientist Magazine®
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 20:52
E xposure to weak magnetic fields can, depending on their strength, either slow or boost flatworm regeneration, according to a report in Science Advances today (January 30). The study provides evidence for a possible mechanism, showing that magnetic fields affect the production of reactive oxygen species, which in turn alter cell behavior.
''It's a very nice paper because they are really trying to dig down into the effects of [magnetic fields],'' says biophysicist Thorsten Ritz of the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the study. ''They are not just adding to the zoo of effects that have been seen [before].''
Furthermore, ''it provides the prospect that a weak magnetic field could be employed as a therapeutic tool to non-invasively regulate tissue formation,'' says Daniel Kattnig, a biophysicist at the University of Exeter in the UK who also did not participate in the research.
Life forms on Earth are continuously exposed to the weak magnetic field of the planet itself, which ranges from approximately 25 microTesla (µT) at the equator to 65 µT at the poles. They can also encounter the generally much weaker magnetic fields generated by certain manmade technologies, such as power lines, household appliances, and cell phones.
Over the years, scientists have studied the biological effects of such low-level magnetism, but the literature is patchy. While some studies have suggested magnetic fields can affect biological processes, often the results have not been replicated or pursued, says biologist and coauthor of the study Wendy Beane of Western Michigan University. ''This is just not an area that mainstream biologists have been investigating.''
A major hypothesis for the biological effect of weak magnetic fields (those between Earth's average and 1 mT) is that they might induce a process called radical pair recombination. In essence, it is thought that a magnetic field might alter the spin direction of electrons in the outer shells of atoms, disturbing the molecular pairing of such atoms and favoring free radical formation. In the case of certain molecules containing oxygen, for example, this disturbance would increase the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
With this possible mechanism in mind, Beane and colleagues examined magnetic field effects on a biological system known to require ROS'--regeneration in the planarian flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea.
The team first amputated the worms above and below their feeding tubes (in the middle of their bodies) and placed the body fragments in culture dishes inside an electromagnetic coil within a magnetically shielded chamber. In this way, worm fragments were exposed to a range of static weak magnetic fields for a period of three days'--the time normally required for the formation of a cell mass (blastema) at the wound site.
They found that magnetic fields between 100 and 400 µT inhibited the growth of blastemas compared to those developed by worm fragments exposed to Earth-equivalent fields (45 µT), and that a 500 µT magnetic field increased blastema growth. The differences in growth seen at 200 µT (the strength at which peak inhibition was observed) and 500 µT were associated with differences in ROS levels, which were lower than normal in the 200 µT''exposed animals and higher than normal in the 500 µT''exposed animals.
Why these unexpected and different effects on ROS levels are seen at different field strengths is not clear. One possibility, explains Ben Greenebaum, an emeritus physicist at the University of Wisconsin who was not part of the research team, is that while a certain amount of magnetic energy can flip the spin direction of electrons, other energy levels can ''flip it back,'' meaning nonlinear outcomes may be observed.
The reduced blastema growth seen in 200 µT''exposed worms was also associated with reduced stem cell proliferation and lower levels of a ROS-induced stress protein. Moreover, artificially boosting ROS levels in 200 µT''exposed animals rescued blastema growth, providing evidence that ROS are indeed mediators of magnetic field effects, albeit not exactly as predicted by the radical pair recombination hypothesis.
While there is clearly still much to be understood about how exactly the molecules and atoms are affected by the magnetic fields, the results suggest that ultimately it may be possible to harness such forces to manipulate or treat tissues, says Greenebaum. The remaining fundamental questions are, he says, ''What the heck is going on here, and how can we use it?''
A.V. Van Huizen et al., ''Weak magnetic fields alter stem cell''mediated growth,'' Science Advances, 5:eaau7201, 2019.
5G changes how we work, play, and collaborate
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 21:33
The age of 5G has arrived, and we're just beginning to see the true potential of 5G revolutionizing how we communicate, collaborate, work, play '-- essentially how we live in the digital age. With unheard of download speeds and extremely low latency, this next generation of wireless technology is purpose-built to make download lags, streaming glitches, and the dreaded mid-meeting face freeze relics of the past.
In the first article in this series, we turned to experts at Qualcomm Technologies '-- the inventor of foundational technologies for 5G '-- to explain these new capabilities and why they're so exciting. Now it's time to geek out about some amazing experiences that 5G experts envision, and to speculate on the exciting future scenarios that we'll owe to 5G.
Real-time collaboration
Image: Qualcomm Technologies
One of the game-changers of 5G is its extraordinarily low latency, or the time between data request and delivery. This means virtually instant cloud access designed to unleash a new wave of real-time experiences that allow us to collaborate like never before.
At the Qualcomm® Snapdragon' Tech Summit in Maui, the world got its first glimpse of live VR telemedicine, through a demo with Verizon and Columbia University. Making use of the almost zero lag time of 5G, the demo showed two people remotely engaged in real-time actions, simulating how a doctor and patient could engage in real-time rehab exercises, utilizing 5G's live 4K video streaming and low latency capabilities. Verizon's 5G hotspot is expected to launch sometime in 2019, in a device made by Inseego that utilizes the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform and Snapdragon X50 5G Modem. VR telemedicine is just one of the revolutionary real-world (and potentially life-saving) applications of 5G.
5G holds potential for collaboration not only in medicine, but also in the workplace across many industries. While most of us are already accustomed to connecting instantly via cloud-based apps, imagine creating projects together in real-time thanks to 5G's low latency.
And what about social media interactions? Today we're at the phase of sharing our daily ''stories,'' but the stories are always from one vantage point only. We want to see an app that allows us to create high-quality group stories'--like a shared video document on steroids.
Imagine going on a road trip or to a concert. All of your friends could pull up the app and add video clips from their own devices and begin editing the ''master'' video simultaneously.
This type of real-time collaboration isn't possible with 4G, due not only to the amount of time it takes to download and upload massive file sizes of high-resolution images and videos, but also to the fact that real-time collaboration requires almost zero lag. But 5G's super low latency is designed to ensure that each collaborator sees the other edits being made in real-time, so you're not tripping over each other as you work. Imagine fun, professional-looking group stories as an everyday thing.
Augmented Reality grows up
Image: Qualcomm technologies
Most consumers are familiar with AR by now thanks to simple executions with pre-set digital objects that use basic AR mapping to overlay virtual objects on the real world.
But with the speed of 5G networks, experts believe that AR interactions are likely to become more meaningful and attuned to the ever-changing details of the world around us. The recent Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui included demoes of amazing new AR capabilities.
Qualcomm Technologies worked with AT&T to show off AR Voyager, which could transform the classroom by allowing you to visit far away 3D environments'--imagine Yellowstone National Park or the Great Wall of China'--right on your phone. The user could then enter the environment for a real-time experience that adjusts to his or her movements. Qualcomm Technologies, in collaboration with AT&T, showcased how 5G will handle volumetric video, capturing an entire 3D space, which entails a massive amount of data, to create VR videos with virtually no lag time.
Image: Qualcomm Technologies
It's also fun to imagine how 5G's more sophisticated AR capabilities play a role in social settings. Let's say you're with a group of friends trying to figure out where to grab a drink or watch the game. You've consulted Yelp, but that doesn't tell you anything about real time elements like crowd size and noise level. 5G could inform your decisions with a ''Yelp meets OKCupid'' type app, where you could input specific parameters and receive recommendations for the best bars, based on what's happening inside them at that very moment. The app could pull data from the business itself, and from the user's past decisions.
A meaningful virtual display that interacts with the constantly changing real world: that's the true promise of AR made possible thanks to 5G.
A platform for tomorrow's more connected worldThe near future of 5G use cases goes well beyond enhanced mobile broadband. 5G NR is building a new infrastructure for a world that has become increasingly connected. From industrial automation to remote healthcare to building sustainable and energy-efficient cities, 5G aims to bring the mobile ecosystem to new industries, with huge results.
Smart cars of the near future could communicate directly with people, infrastructure and other vehicles, thanks to 5G vehicle-to-everything communications technology. Transportation safety could improve thanks to vehicles that share real-time information with other cars on the road. For instance, when your car is about to shift into the next lane, the other cars on the road will already know. Imagine a freeway full of cars driving in a highly coordinated fashion, sharing real-time 3D maps and more.
Qualcomm Technologies is not only building the tech we need for a smart and streamlined future, but also bringing to life some of the amazing use cases they have for 5G.
Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
Israeli cyberexpert detects China hack in Ottawa, warns against using Huawei 5G | The Star
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 14:32
OTTAWA '-- A Chinese telecommunication company secretly diverted Canadian internet traffic to China, particularly from Rogers subscribers in the Ottawa area, says an Israeli cybersecurity specialist.
The 2016 incident involved the surreptitious rerouting of the internet data of Rogers customers in and around Canada's capital by China Telecom, a state-owned internet service provider that has two legally operating ''points of presence'' on Canadian soil, said Yuval Shavitt, an electrical-engineering expert at Tel Aviv University.
Shavitt told The Canadian Press that the China Telecom example should serve as a caution to the Canadian government not to do business with another Chinese telecommunications giant: Huawei Technologies, which is vying to build Canada's next-generation 5G wireless communications networks.
''It's too dangerous to let them in,'' Shavitt said. ''You can just imagine how Chinese companies are co-operating with the Chinese government.''
The Trudeau government is still deciding whether Huawei will be permitted to supply equipment and services to Canadian companies seeking to build the networks expected to serve everything from smartphones to autonomous cars.
Shavitt's warning comes as the U.S. Justice Department this week revealed the scope of its fraud and theft case against Huawei's Meng Wanzhou. On Monday, the department unsealed 13 criminal counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction against Meng, while her company's U.S. branch was accused of stealing trade secrets and equipment from cellphone provider T-Mobile USA.
Huawei has denied that it co-operates with Chinese intelligence or ever would, saying that could be fatal to the company.
The 2016 Ottawa area incident that included Rogers was part of an attack in which Canadian internet data bound for South Korea was rerouted to China over a six-month period. The diversion of the South Korean data was first documented in a report last fall co-authored by Shavitt and Chris C. Demchak of the U.S. Naval War College.
The report described how China Telecom uses two points of presence in Canada and eight in the United States to take ''information-rich'' internet traffic crossing its network '-- part of the ordinary working of the internet, in which packets of data pass through numerous servers on the way to their destinations '-- and reroute it through China with no noticeable effect on customers.
China Telecom did not respond to a request for comment.
Rogers declined to comment and referred the matter to the Public Safety Department.
Public Safety and Global Affairs Canada did not respond to requests for comment.
The Shavitt-Demchak report called internet points of presence the ''perfect scenario for long-term espionage'' because local alarm bells won't be raised ''about the long-term traffic detours.''
The Canada-South Korea diversion was discovered by a company Shavitt co-founded called BGProtect that monitors internet routing infrastructure and sells services to protect countries and corporations from internet hacks. He said he used some of his company's data to write the academic paper with Demchak.
Shavitt described how hundreds of his company's agents around the world monitor movements in the digital world. He said that could involve focusing on ''a certain installation, an IP or server. We pick up locations around the world, and monitor the traffic and look for anomalies.
''In this case the anomaly was from Canada.''
In a followup email, Shavitt provided further details: ''Our software agent was indeed at Ottawa, but the attack had affected the entire Rogers network (at least) and its customers in the entire region.''
Shavitt said his company's monitoring of Canada ''was not dense enough'' at the time of the attack to assess its full scope.
In the case of national network like Rogers' in a large country such as Canada, the attack might affect only a ''portion of the network, (but) usually still quite large ones '-- it depends how routing is configured. For example in our case, it may affect only Ontario and Quebec, but not the western regions of Canada,'' Shavitt explained.
''I should say that the effect of the hijack is not only on Rogers's direct customers (home and businesses) but also smaller networks in the affected regions that depend on Rogers for transit.''
A hijack attack can be used in many ways, including for espionage by ''extracting important information from communication,'' said Shavitt.
The attack can also be part of what is known as man-in-the-middle attacks, he said.
A man-in-the-middle attack can neutralize an organization's internet security measures because it involves the insertion of a ''bad actor'' between a sender and the desired recipient, says the Shavitt-Demchak report.
When the internet traffic is rerouted into an adversary's hands, ''the attacker can learn enough to impersonate trusted sources'' and ''can allow the malicious attacker to harvest passwords,'' the report says.
''With those keys to the victim's network in hand, attackers can distort, disconnect or destroy any part of the company's network accessible from the internet, increasingly to include critical financial and physical systems and their backups.''
The Chinese government steadfastly denies engaging in cyberattacks.
In 2014, the federal government blamed a sophisticated state-sponsored Chinese entity for a breach that caused a shutdown of the National Research Council's systems in Ottawa. China called that accusation reckless.
In 2016, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, warned that China and Russia were targeting Canadian government officials and information systems as well as classified information and advanced technology.
Without naming any countries, David Vigneault, CSIS's new director, said in a December speech that ''hostile foreign intelligence services'' were targeting the ''corporate secrets'' and ''intellectual property'' of Canadian companies.
Vigneault said those state actors posed a greater threat to national security than terrorists do.
''It's not that the Chinese are bad, or doing bad things in the U.S.,'' Shavitt noted. ''I'm sure that the U.S. and Canada are trying to do the same also to China. It's a spying game that everybody's trying to play.''
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Russia's propaganda machine discovers 2020 Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 16:25

Feb. 2, 2019, 7:03 AM ET
By Robert Windrem and Ben Popken
The Russian propaganda machine that tried to influence the 2016 U.S. election is now promoting the presidential aspirations of a controversial Hawaii Democrat who earlier this month declared her intention to run for president in 2020.
An NBC News analysis of the main English-language news sites employed by Russia in its 2016 election meddling shows Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is set to make her formal announcement Saturday, has become a favorite of the sites Moscow used when it interfered in 2016.
Several experts who track websites and social media linked to the Kremlin have also seen what they believe may be the first stirrings of an upcoming Russian campaign of support for Gabbard.
Since Gabbard announced her intention to run on Jan. 11, there have been at least 20 Gabbard stories on three major Moscow-based English-language websites affiliated with or supportive of the Russian government: RT, the Russian-owned TV outlet; Sputnik News, a radio outlet; and Russia Insider, a blog that experts say closely follows the Kremlin line. The CIA has called RT and Sputnik part of "Russia's state-run propaganda machine."
All three sites celebrated Gabbard's announcement, defended her positions on Russia and her 2017 meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and attacked those who have suggested she is a pawn for Moscow. The coverage devoted to Gabbard, both in news and commentary, exceeds that afforded to any of the declared or rumored Democratic candidates despite Gabbard's lack of voter recognition.
Gabbard was mentioned on the three sites about twice as often as two of the best known Democratic possibilities for 2020, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, each with 10 stories. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren had fewer. In each case, the other contenders were treated more critically than Gabbard, with headlines like "'Don't Run': Vermont Paper Begs Bernie Sanders Not to Seek US Presidency in 2020" and "Sexist much? Biden blames 'conservative blonde woman' for shutdown, 'forgets' Ann Coulter's name."
"Her promulgation of positions compatible with Russian geo strategic interests can help them mainstream such discussion in the [Democratic] party," said Alex Stamos, former chief security officer at Facebook and now an NBC News analyst. Gabbard, said Stamos, helps them with all their "lines of attack."
"Will Tulsi Gabbard Shake Up the 2020 Democratic Primary?" by Sputnik News. Sputnik NewsA major in the Hawaii Army National Guard who served two tours in Iraq, Gabbard was first elected to Congress in 2012 and represents the out islands and northern Oahu. She attracted attention as a maverick when she resigned as Democratic National Committee vice chair in early 2016 and endorsed Bernie Sanders. She gave his nominating speech at that summer's party convention.
While some of her stances appeal to the left, she has also angered the party's liberal base with her past positions on same sex marriage, abortion and guns. Just weeks after Donald Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton, she met with the president-elect at Trump Tower.
But Gabbard's most controversial position and the one where she's most in line with Russian interests is on Syria. She's accused the U.S. of pushing a policy of "regime change" wars and in January 2017, she met with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria on what she called a "fact-finding mission."
RT began defending Gabbard as soon as she announced. A behavioral science expert who studies social media tweeted out a vow on Jan. 11 to start a GoFundMe campaign to finance a reporting trip to Gabbard's Hawaii district. Reporters for RT's television network pounced, calling it "an investigative vacation" and a "beachside investigation" by an "establishment Democrat."
View this graphic on nbcnews.com On Jan. 12, the day after Gabbard announced, RT headlined her decision this way: "'Putin puppet' vs 'Assad shill': Dems & Reps unite in panic over Gabbard challenging Trump in 2020."
The unsigned article claimed, "With Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) entering the 2020 presidential fray, establishment figures on both Right and Left are scrambling to smear the anti-war congresswoman with impeccable identity-politics bona fides. Ever since her 2017 visit to Syria, Gabbard has been condemned for daring to seek firsthand accounts rather than blindly trusting the MSM narrative, so on Friday the pundits were again off to the races, with fresh accusations of Assad-sympathizing."
On Jan. 16, Lee Stranahan, one of the co-hosts on "Fault Line," a Washington-based program on Sputnik News, admitted that the debates should be the focus for Gabbard.
"The significant thing about her being in the race is because one of her main issues is peace and specifically on Syria, where she is telling the truth on Syria," said Stranahan, who joined Sputnik after stints at Breitbart News, the right-wing news site. "I think she is going to change the debate. If she can get through the first few months, and make it to actual debates, is there a big millionaire or billionaire that will support Tulsi Gabbard."
"Not-so-warm Welcome" by RT. RT via YouTubeThe same day, conservative writer Hunter Derensis noted on Russia Insider, "In line with her thinking on Syria, she lacks the anti-Russian stance of other Democratic politicians. 'How does going to war with Russia over Syria serve the interest of the American people?' she mentioned in a tweet. Gabbard has also supported Trump's diplomatic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in one of her multiple appearances with Tucker Carlson."
That story was headlined, "Heroic Tulsi Gabbard Will Run on Her Sensible Foreign Policy. Expect Democrats, Faux Progressives to Squeal."
In articles on the Russian sites, Gabbard is described as a "rebel," who is "straight-talking" and a "heroic" candidate who will "shake up" the establishment.
Coverage of other Democratic presidential hopefuls in pro-Kremlin media has been for the most part perfunctory, limited to candidates' announcements or summaries of their relative prospects. In recent weeks, Sputnik has poked fun at Elizabeth Warren's beer commercial and a widely circulated photo of Beto O'Rourke's in a dentist chair.
Erika Tsuji, a spokeswoman for Gabbard, said it as "ridiculous" to suggest the Russians supported her candidacy.
"Russia would never overtly support a candidate they wanted to help, because it would just hurt their candidacy," said Tsuji. "It's common sense."
Tsuji also said that "From the start, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has denounced Russia's attempts to muddle (sic) in our elections and will continue to do so." She noted that Gabbard had cosponsored legislation calling for an independent investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, cosponsored a bill prohibiting foreign influence in the election process, and sponsored a bill to protect election infrastructure from hackers.
The race for 2020Experts in Russian on-line propaganda say Gabbard appeals to pro-Russian sites because her positions '--and her appeal as an outsider in her own party '-- can be used to create division among Democrats.
Former FBI agent Clint Watts, author of "Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News," said Gabbard has past or present positions on several issues that would be attractive to the Russian propaganda machine, and she is already popular with the U.S. "alt-left." Besides her views on Syria, she responded to reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election by saying the U.S. had interfered in foreign elections too.
The language used to laud Gabbard is reminiscent of Russian media promotion of Jill Stein, the U.S. Green Party candidate for president in 2012 and 2016. Stein received favorable coverage from the same outlets and also benefited from Russian troll accounts.
Jill Stein at the National Press Club in Washington on June 23, 2015. Drew Angerer / Getty Images fileWatts notes the difference between Stein and Gabbard is that Gabbard is member of Congress and part of the Democratic Party while Stein is more of a fringe figure. Watts and Stamos think the Russians may be gravitating to Gabbard not because they think she can win, but because her positions, often in line with those of the Kremlin, will become part of the Democratic primary debates.
"They probably just spotted her and figured this is someone to promote," said Watts, who is also an NBC News analyst. "You can just see it coming. They're telegraphing what coming the next two years, which is playing in the left."
"They want someone like Gabbard to voice a Russian position. They are not telling her what to say but they want her pro-Russian positions play into the debate."
Stamos agrees that Gabbard could be used to inject pro-Russian positions into the Democratic Party's discussions and debates during primary season.
"We should expect the Russian intel services and troll farms to be active in the Democratic primary process," said Stamos, "as this provides them with the best opportunity to create the most division in American society in 2020."
The first Democratic primary is a year away, and the Russian disinformation machine has not yet initiated a full 2016-style campaign of support for any of the 2020 aspirants. In 2016, negative coverage and fabricated stories about Hillary Clinton were amplified by a huge network of fake social media accounts and bots.
Experts who track inauthentic social media accounts, however, have already found some extolling Gabbard's positions since she declared.
Within a few days of Gabbard announcing her presidential bid, DisInfo 2018, part of the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge, found that three of the top 15 URLs shared by the 800 social media accounts affiliated with known and suspected Russian propaganda operations directed at U.S. citizens were about Gabbard.
Analysts at New Knowledge, the company the Senate Intelligence Committee used to track Russian activities in the 2016 election, told NBC News they've spotted "chatter" related to Gabbard in anonymous online message boards, including those known for fomenting right-wing troll campaigns. The chatter discussed Gabbard's usefulness.
"'Putin puppet' vs 'Assad shill': Dems & Reps unite in panic over Gabbard challenging Trump in 2020" by RT. RT"A few of our analysts saw some chatter on 8chan saying she was a good 'divider' candidate to amplify," said New Knowledge's director of research Renee DiResta, director of research at New Knowledge.
Josh Russel, a researcher and "troll hunter" known for identifying fake accounts, similarly told NBC News he recently spotted a few clusters of suspicious accounts that retweeted the same exact text about Gabbard, mostly neutral or slightly positive headlines.
"They usually spam links to websites, but also retweet specific tweets or accounts in an effort to boost a website or accounts search results," he said.
Gabbard is expected to make the formal announcement of her candidacy on Saturday in Hawaii. On Tuesday, however, Politico reported that her campaign manager is already set to leave. Tsuji subsequently denied to the Daily Mail that the campaign is in turmoil, and said Gabbard will make her announcement on Saturday as planned.
Gabbard may also have to fight to keep her House seat in heavily Democratic Hawaii. A state senator has announced he will challenge her in the primary, and a prominent liberal group has endorsed him.
Robert Windrem is an investigative reporter/producer with NBC News, specializing in international security.
Ben Popken is an NBC News Senior Business reporter.
Bloomberg Is Building a Data Organization to Crush Trump - The Atlantic
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 12:57
Whether or not he runs for president, the former New York City mayor is building the most powerful political organization in America.
Edward-Isaac Dovere Jan 31, 2019 Michael Bloomberg wants to play a major role in 2020 against Trump, whether or not he runs. Brian Snyder / ReutersMichael Bloomberg has bigger plans for 2020 than running for president. The billionaire and former New York City mayor has been openly dreaming of the White House for 25 years, and spent huge amounts of time and money four times over the past 10 years trying to figure out a way to get himself there.
But he has hesitations about this race, too. He's not sure there is a realistic space in the Democratic primaries for his centrist record. And he almost certainly won't run if Joe Biden does, members of his team believe.
While no final decision has been made, his aides have been working on a fallback that only a man worth $40 billion can afford. Bloomberg is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a data-centric political operation designed to ensure one goal: crush Donald Trump.
Read: Michael Bloomberg can buy popularity, but can he buy the presidency?
Though a budget has not been set, this effort would almost certainly become the biggest and most powerful political organization in the country overnight. It would also be the only real counter to the operation that Trump's campaign put together in 2016, which reached out to millions of voters in a more targeted, under-the-radar way, and helped deliver the election to Trump by shaping voters' thinking for months and then activating them on Election Day.
The goal, as it's been put at points in private meetings: ''All the data.''
A group of about 10 political and tech consultants meets every Thursday, usually in the converted Upper East Side mansion that is the headquarters of Bloomberg's foundation and private offices. Discussions are led by Bloomberg's top political aides, Kevin Sheekey and Howard Wolfson, as well as Brynne Craig, Hillary Clinton's 2016 deputy field director and, for the past two years, a senior adviser to Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety group. Patti Harris, who was Bloomberg's No. 2 in City Hall and remains a trusted adviser, joins for some of the meetings.
Read: The limits of a billion-dollar donation to Johns Hopkins
Bloomberg is briefed separately by Sheekey and Wolfson, without the outside consultants.
The meetings have been going on for months, and have been kept a closely guarded secret.
A Bloomberg spokesman, Jason Schechter, declined to comment. The plan was to go public only once Bloomberg makes a final decision on 2020, and once they'd settled on the shape of the new group. But some details appear set, according to people aware of what's being discussed: The team wants to collect data about voters on an unprecedented scale, match those data with consumer data, and then hire a team of engineers to do high-level analyses, looking for new ways to identify potential voters, and new ways to appeal to them. They want to match voter data to consumer information and social-media profiles, and look for new ways to break through.
Read: The Bloomberg way
Then they want to build a new ''tech stack,'' or system for processing and applying the data. The goal, they say internally, is to fundamentally change the core Democratic infrastructure.
All of this work would be done in service of a Bloomberg candidacy, but people involved have come away seeing this as laying the groundwork for an alternative. Presentations are made about how and where the data can be drawn from, and then where they can be housed. The group has looked at potential vendors to help fill gaps.
Throughout, Bloomberg aides have argued that they believe private corporations are much more advanced in data collection than anything that exists in politics, and they need to use that as their model.
Leaders of the discussions have talked about establishing the group as an independent expenditure, rather than a PAC, which would put it in place for one election cycle, with the sole goal of beating Trump. They haven't decided whether they'd want anything to persist past 2020, or what would happen to all the data collected if the group were to disband.
Megan Garber: ''I'd do her'': Mike Bloomberg and the underbelly of #MeToo
All these data would almost certainly feed a huge investment that could make Bloomberg the biggest political spender on television and online advertising.
Much of the thinking is informed by Bloomberg's experience in the 2018 midterms, when he spent more than $100 million to become the single biggest Democratic donor, winning in 21 of the 24 races where his Independence USA PAC got directly involved.
This may yet turn into an effort on behalf of a Bloomberg campaign, with his advisers carefully watching Biden's moves to help them decide what to do. They doubt there's room in the Democratic field for both. The two have been allies, particularly on gun control, and hold similar positions to the center of many of the more progressive Democrats running. They are also both white men in their mid-70s, seen as figures of the establishment.
Whatever his concerns about Biden, Bloomberg has continued acting and sounding like a presidential candidate'--making anti-Trump speeches in Virginia and Washington last week, blasting ex''Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for flirting with an independent campaign on Monday, heading to New Hampshire to talk policy and eat pizza on Tuesday. But he and his team are carefully assessing the likely hard fit for his record and positions in the 2020 race as it's shaping up.
''They feel like they have a candidate with potential, staff, dollars, strong name ID, and [they] are assessing the road ahead,'' said one person who's been in touch with Bloomberg's team. ''They know they can't wait forever, but also understand that they have more bandwidth to assess the field and opportunities'--more than many, if not most.''
Some operatives around the country have been asked whether they'd be interested in joining a campaign if he does run, along with others who work for Bloomberg LP, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the other groups he controls.
Aides have also been in conversations with other political leaders around the country'--Sheekey, for example, talked with several mayors, including Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer while they were in Washington for the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting last week.
And Bloomberg continues highlighting strengths from his own record on gun control and climate change, as well as taking swings at Elizabeth Warren for her proposal to raise taxes on the ultra-rich, and at other Democrats for supporting free college tuition. He said that he'd release his own version of a Green New Deal soon. Even as other candidates made it official over the past month, Bloomberg has kept up a busier schedule on the trail than any of them, though a lull in events is expected over the next few weeks.
In New Hampshire, he also took more digs at Trump, saying at one point in his speech at Saint Anselm College, ''He failed at business, and now I think it's fair to say he is failing at government.''
But Bloomberg also looked at running for president in the past three elections'--coming so close in 2016 that ads were scripted and a potential running mate selected'--only to determine that he couldn't win (though those times he planned to run as an independent, not a Democrat). He has been seriously considering a 2020 run since the summer, infuriated by nearly every decision of Trump's presidency. Serious meetings about the data effort began in the fall.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg's aides have continued asking around for intel on what Biden will do, believing there's likely only room in the race for one of them.
Bloomberg suggested as much himself when the two appeared together at the National Action Network breakfast in Washington on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
''Whatever the next year brings for Joe and me,'' Bloomberg said at the breakfast, ''I know we'll both keep our eyes on the real prize, which is a Democrat winning the White House in 2020 and getting our country back on track.''
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.
Edward-Isaac Dovere is a staff writer at
The Atlantic.
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EU countries move to evade US' Iran sanctions by setting up payment channel for 'humanitarian' trade '-- RT Business News
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 21:03
Germany, France and the UK have announced they have set up a mechanism allowing ''legitimate trade'' with Iran to continue in wake of US sanctions. The scheme, limited to ''essential'' goods for now, could be joined by more countries.
The new payment system is called INSTEX '' short for 'Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges'. As of now, it is aimed at facilitating trade between the companies of the three nations and Iran. ''In the long term,'' the mechanism will be ''open'' to enterprises from third countries, the joint statement said, adding that Berlin, London and Paris will ''explore how to achieve this objective.''
The system will initially focus on ''the sectors most essential to the Iranian population'' '' such as food, pharmaceutical and medical devices, the statement said. While the sale of such goods are technically exempt from US sanctions, many pharmaceutical and agricultural companies stopped trading with Iran under the threat of secondary sanctions.
Foreign Minister @HeikoMaas and his British & French colleagues on the creation of the #SPV: #INSTEX will support European trade with Iran. Focus is initially on goods essential to the Iranian population: pharmaceutical, medical devices and agri-food goods.#JCPoAhttps://t.co/SqejDOSXkU
'-- GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) January 31, 2019Some media reports described the use of INSTEX as ''expandable,'' suggesting that it could be used for non-humanitarian goods in the future. The statement, however, mentions nothing of this sort. Such course of action would likely set the EU on a direct collision course with the US.
The three nations also said that they are committed to ''pursue the further development of INSTEX with interested European countries to make this instrument in support of trade exchanges with Iran'' without mentioning the EU directly.
The new mechanism aims at preserving the 2015 Iranian deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and is ''conditioned upon Iran's full implementation of its nuclear-related commitments,'' the statement says.
Also on rt.com Europe working on payment system alternative to SWIFT & IMF to attain financial independence from US The INSTEX headquarters will be based in Paris, France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told journalists.
The ministers hailed the future mechanism as an important step in preserving the JCPOA, saying it would help the European states to stay committed to their part of the treaty.
''Today we have taken a significant step forward in delivering our commitment under the Iran nuclear deal to preserve sanctions relief for the people of Iran,'' the UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said, calling the move a ''clear practical demonstration'' of the three nations' commitment to the ''historic'' deal.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was ''glad'' to see INSTEX being established, adding that it would ''make it clear'' that Europe is ''determined'' to ''resolutely go its own way'' even if ''some other [states] see things differently.'' EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini also welcomed the launch of the payment mechanism. [LINK]
''It is a first step taken by the European side... We hope it will cover all goods and items,'' Iranian Deputy FM Abbas Araqchi told state TV on Thursday, commenting on the issue. Tehran is expected to create a ''corresponding entity'' to make the whole system operational.
Also on rt.com The blacklist: Targets of new US sanctions against Iran The EU countries have been considering the idea of a special payment channel with Iran since last year, after the US' dramatic withdrawal from the landmark nuclear deal, signed by Tehran and six world powers in 2015. Washington then reintroduced its sanctions against Iran.
As the project initially stalled, Tehran criticized the EU for strategic indecision, and cited ''dollar domination'' and Washington's threats to European companies as a key factor for the delay.
The US hasn't reacted to the new payment channel but, last November, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of ''swift punishment'' for other countries doing business with Iran.
Earlier, the EU introduced legislation to shield EU companies from re-imposed US economic restrictions on Iran. However, the measure failed to prevent European business giants, including Total, Volkswagen, Daimler, Peugeot, Renault and Siemens, from quitting business in the country.
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The Purge
IPFS-powered Torrent Paradise is decentralized and invulnerable
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 12:59
The site looks like a minimalist version of The Pirate Bay or the late lamented KickassTorrents. The magic happens behind the scenes: Torrent Paradise is powered by IPFS (aka InterPlanetary File System). TorrentFreak explains:
''IPFS is a decentralized network where users make files available among each other. If a website uses IPFS, it is served by a 'swarm' of people, much like BitTorrent users do when a file is shared. The advantage of this system is that websites can become completely decentralized.''Once content is out there in IPFS, there isn't much that the authorities can do to take it down. IPFS is also invulnerable to technical and business-related single-point failures: If a central server stops working, and even if the company operating it goes out of business and stops maintaining its websites, the content is still out there.
The creator of Torrent Paradise, who goes by the Reddit handle urbanguagamole, told TorrentFreak:
''I feel like decentralizing search is the natural next step in the evolution of the torrent ecosystem. File sharing keeps moving in the direction of more and more decentralization, eliminating one single point of failure after another.''''Because each update of Torrent Paradise is an IPFS hash, it is impossible for anyone, including me, to take down the site. As long as there's someone pinning it (the IPFS equivalent of seeding), the site will be available.''IPFS hashes and other IPFS features are explained in a readable primer titled ''An Introduction to IPFS,'' produced by ConsenSys Media.
It's worth noting that the Torrent Paradise website, or better said the web interface to Torrent Paradise, can (and likely will) be taken down by the authorities. But, even if the web interface is taken down, users would still be able to access Torrent Paradise with an IPFS client, and a new web gateway would be easy to set up with a new domain name.
It seems that IPFS is a very credible technology base for a decentralized internet of the people, by the people, for the people.
Where is the catch? The catch is that users must manually install and configure IPFS nodes. ''This is a relatively easy process, but the average web user may not be familiar with using a command line to set it up, which is a requirement,'' notes TorrentFreak.
Many hardcore developers tend to consider these issues as pedestrian and unworthy of their attention, but they are wrong. I am persuaded that IPFS won't become popular without a super simple one-click install (two clicks are too many and nobody will bother) and a super simple and intuitive user interface. But if IPFS becomes very easy to install and use, it could become very popular and bootstrap the decentralized web.
In related news, the developers of decentralized shopping platform OpenBazaar have announced Haven, a privacy-focused app for messaging and making purchases with cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin Magazine reports. Haven, which wants to ''enable users to shop, chat, and send cryptocurrencies privately from their mobile device,'' is powered by the OpenBazaar software and IPFS.
Image from NASA.
Financial Blacklisting: NewsGuard Advises Advertisers to Avoid Pro-Trump Media | Breitbart
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 15:47
NewsGuard, the news-filtering browser extension recently partnered with Microsoft and run by neoconservatives, Obama-Clinton alumni, and other assorted Trump haters, has advised advertisers to withdraw their business from websites on its blacklist of ''unreliable'' news websites '-- a list that includes Breitbart News, The Drudge Report, and the Daily Mail. NewsGuard's tactic is similar the one used by far-left smear peddlers Sleeping Giants, whose mission is to spread baseless accusations of racism and white supremacy to the advertisers of pro-Trump media outlets in order to put them out of business and silence their voice. Two of the sites on NewsGuard's list, Breitbart News and the Daily Mail, are also prominent targets of Sleeping Giants.
The effect isn't merely to silence pro-Trump media. It also ensures advertisers don't market their products to Trump voters, causing them to rely less and less on consumers in the heartland, and more on progressive consumers who read establishment news sources. The ultimate result: corporations cater their products and ''corporate values'' even more to the latter, and not at all to the former.
''By licensing the NewsGuard ratings, advertisers limit their advertising, including programmatic advertising, to sites that meet the NewsGuard criteria'' explains the neocon extension's official website ''Advertisers use this data and related information about sites to craft efficient'--and safe'--ad campaigns.'' Programmatic advertising is essentially the use of automation to purchase ads, as opposed to manual selection and placement of ads by humans. Adweek calls programmatic advertising ''the most important trend in advertising,'' and estimates that 82 percent of ads will be programmatic by 2020.
''Ad tech companies have software to keep brands safe from hate speech and pornography. But artificial intelligence cannot root out false news because false news is designed to look like real news. NewsGuard adds an extra layer of protection as the only process that involves human beings'--trained journalists'--reviewing every website.''
NewsGuard's stated goal of separating advertising revenue from ''unreliable news websites'' isn't just talk. The project's investors include Publicis Groupe, one of the ''big four'' multinational advertising agencies whose subsidiaries include a number of high-profile advertising firms including Leo Burnett Worldwide and Saaatchi & Saatchi.
Controversially, one of Publicis Groupe's other subsidiaries is Qorvis '-- a Washington D.C-based PR and crisis management firm which has represented the nation of Saudi Arabia since the September 11 attacks. The company led an aggressive media and lobbying campaign in the U.S. to defend Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. As Qorvis' parent company funds NewsGuard, this is presumably considered responsible journalism.
The beltway establishment figures who started NewsGuard claim to be non-partisan. But the logic of their system leads towards the demonetization of pro-Trump and populist conservative media, as well as the few anti-establishment sites of the left that are also on the extension's blacklist, like the Daily Kos.
It's an approach that dovetails with the rise of financial blacklisting, in which left-wing and anti-Trump agitators pressure online funding platforms, payment processors, and credit card companies to cut off service from conservatives and anti-establishment figures. The goal is to render independent media unprofitable; blacklisting and censoring them by cutting off their income.
This is further proof that establishment conservatives are just as eager as the far left to crush the populist movement. Even Bill Kristol, the arch-NeverTrumper let the truth about NewsGuard slip out during an interview with the browser extension's ''editor-in-chief.''
''I guess the counter-argument to what you're doing is, well, this is a bunch of establishment people deciding they like establishment websites,'' said Kristol.
It's more than that '-- it's also a bunch of establishment people deciding they don't like anti-establishment websites, and wanting to wage financial warfare against them.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter, Gab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to allumbokhari@protonmail.com.
A domestic terrorist slaughtered 5 women in a Florida bank and hardly anyone noticed | Will Bunch
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 12:53
It was a quiet, normal Wednesday at the SunTrust Bank branch in Sebring, Florida right up until about 12:30 p.m. or so. A teller, Marisol Lopez, was behind the counter dealing with any customers. She and the other women inside the nondescript brick low-rise had one thing in common: They had full and seemingly happy lives to return to once the more mundane business of banking was done.
SunTrust employee Jessica Montague, just 31 and raising not just her three kids but seven stepchildren, was getting ready to celebrate her husband's birthday that night. Her co-worker Ana Pinon-Williams '-- with her own large blended family of seven children '-- was making plans for a family trip to Mexico. A bank customer, Cynthia Watson, had just been married days earlier.
Those all-too-brief happy lives came to an abrupt end at 12:36 p.m., on January 23, 2019.
That's when a 21-year-old white man strolled into the SunTrust branch with the 9mm handgun and the bullets he'd purchased just a few days earlier.
Despite the weapon, the young man '-- whose name doesn't deserve to be glorified '-- wasn't there to rob the bank. He walked in with only one apparent purpose: To kill people. Specifically (or you could say not specifically), he was there to murder random total strangers. Perhaps not coincidentally, those strangers that he ordered on the floor and then shot, execution style, were all women.
Say their names: Marisol Lopez, Jessica Montague, Ana Pinon-Williams, Cynthia Watson. (The family of the fifth woman has shielded her name under a new Florida victims' rights law.) I would say that these are the latest victims of the American scourge of mass shootings '-- except that, in this new era of gun terrorism, they of course aren't even the latest.
If you watched TV news over the last week, it's all but guaranteed that you never heard the names of these female victims or even the despicable shooter, even as the name of another alleged Florida criminal, a huckster named Roger Stone, was uttered thousands of times. But not only that '-- you also probably saw next to nothing about another mass gun murder of five Americans that took place just three days later, when a different 21-year-old white male killed his girlfriend, her parents, and his own parents. ''Five'' was apparently America's unlucky number last week '-- in Houston a man being served with a warrant pulled out his firearm and wounded five police officers before he and a second suspect were killed. Thankfully, the cops lived.
When I called a local anti-gun-violence advocate '-- Shira Goodman of CeaseFirePA '-- to talk about the recent shootings, she mentioned one right here in Pennsylvania that I literally knew nothing about. It turns out that also last week, a (stop me if you've heard this before) 21-year-old white male pulled out a gun in a hotel bar in State College, killing two of the three people that he hit, before he fled and broke into the home of an 83-year-old man, a stranger, whom he also shot to death before turning the weapon on himself.
I was flabbergasted to hear the details. I watch way too much cable-TV news because of my job, and I couldn't believe that such a deadly rampage in a college town where thousands of Pennsylvania parents pray nightly that their children will be safe is no longer even considered news in America in 2019. I don't know how much of that to blame on the around-the-clock reality-show-style coverage of a reality-show president, and how much is to blame on the devil's bargain America stuck on December 14, 2012, when the nation watched 20 kindergartners and 1st-graders mowed down in their classroom and shrugged its collective shoulders and did nothing. All I know is that this is a morally unbearable state of affairs.
And here's one more thing I don't get. The way these shootings are all happening '-- the almost robotic similarity of these young and male and alienated and isolated killers, the recurring links to domestic violence or repressed sexuality and the large number of female victims, and the fact that these killings happen in everyday locales like a bank or a motel bar '-- scream out one word to me.
I know regular folks '-- and you probably do too '-- who love movies but who won't go out to a multiplex in this country because they think too much about what happened in Aurora. That's terror '-- the fear that in a nation with more guns than people and more and more of those people willing to use them, without even an irrational justification, you could be the next random victim any time you leave your house.
And when I read about what happened in Sebring or what happened in Gonzales, Louisiana, a part of me can't help but think about the Boston Marathon terror attack in 2013. Yes, that was textbook terrorism '-- targeting a beloved sporting event '-- and it was bombs that maimed many people in addition to those killed. And so that story deserved the massive news coverage it received, yet the three deaths over a week were fewer than the victims of a random killing in Sebring that somehow was considered neither terrorism nor particularly newsworthy.
That matters because the cluster of attacks that we have dubbed ''terrorism'' since 2001 prompted the largest national response of the last half-century, including the swift passage of new laws, the creation of a entire government department, and major changes in the way we travel. One remarkable outcome of all of that is that the most tangible goal '-- zero tolerance for hijacking aircraft '-- was achieved. Can you imagine setting a goal of zero tolerance for mass gun shootings, let alone making that happen? Me neither.
Our newfound national indifference to gun violence matters because '-- despite January's flurry of violence '-- 2019 has dawned with more hope on the political front to combat gun violence than any year in the last decade, if not longer. Indeed, last year's midterm elections saw more candidates '-- not just for Congress but for state legislatures in Pennsylvania and elsewhere '-- running against the National Rifle Association and for saner gun laws than any time since the assassinations of the 1960s. Many of them won.
A few of our members made the cold, snowy trek to Harrisburg yesterday to lobby legislators and join our partners @CeaseFirePA in their "Ready for Action" rally, calling for real solutions to end the gun violence in our communities! pic.twitter.com/AYGXavxWvH
'-- Delco United (@delcogunsense) January 30, 2019When I spoke this week with CeaseFirePA's Goodman, she'd just returned from a rally for gun-control measures in Harrisburg that had been attended by Gov. Wolf and some of those new lawmakers. Some of the statewide momentum for gun measures comes from a tragedy that did make the news '-- the October shooting at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue that claimed 11 lives.
Goodman said the elections '-- and the rare passage in 2018 in the state capitol of a measure backed by the gun-safety lobby that could more quickly lead to domestic violence perpetrators surrendering their firearms '-- has created hope that even more bills could come to fruition this year. Heading the 2019 list for activists is an ''extreme risk'' measure that could make it easier to round up guns from those deemed a threat to commit murder or suicide, as well a new push for background checks at gun-show sales and tighter gun-storage laws for the home. These are the kind of bills that typically '-- with the NRA holding sway in Harrisburg for as long as anyone can remember '-- simply get buried by a committee chair and never even come up for a vote.
And if we've truly lost our capacity for outrage at moments like the slaughter of the innocents in Sebring, and if we don't treat our frequent acts of domestic terrorism with the same level of seriousness that we treated our very rare episodes of terrorism involving Muslims, it will be far too easy for the NRA's handmaidens to keep those bills bottled up again this year. In 2019, let's remember what it's like to feel outrage and then let's put it to use. That's our responsibility as a society to those lost souls named Marisol Lopez, Jessica Montague, Ana Pinon-Williams, and Cynthia Watson.
Netflix usage surpassed cable and satellite TV for the first time in 2018 '' BGR
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 03:55
The streaming video landscape is definitely going to look more interesting '-- and fragmented '-- than ever as 2019 continues to unfold, with established names like Netflix and Hulu continuing to grab market share as traditional cable providers try anything to slow down their bleeding of subscribers and new contenders like Disney+ enter the picture. For proof of how dramatic a shift is currently under way, PwC is also out with its annual streaming and pay-TV report (A New Video World Order) which includes this revealing statistic among a ton of other insights:
The number of consumers subscribed to pay TV dropped from 73% to 67% last year '-- no surprise there '-- while Netflix usage (76%) surpassed cable and satellite for the first time.
For the report, PwC surveyed a set of 2,016 people in the US between the ages of 18 and 59, with annual household incomes above $40,000, to get a better sense of the viewing choices that consumers are making. ''As pay TV subscriptions continue to decline,'' the report notes, ''they are replaced by a number of live and on-demand streaming options that continue to grow by the day.
''Viewers can use a dizzying array of services to create their own consumption 'nirvana.' However, there is bound to be an upper limit on both how many different services a consumer is willing to pay for and how much time she has in the day to consume. This leads some in the industry to believe the growth in content and platforms may not be sustainable over the long term.''
Which is why we're seeing continued jockeying now as all the various streamers try to solidify their place in this new landscape, with Netflix recently implementing its headline-making price increase and Hulu following suit with a price drop.
The PwC report is particularly revealing in terms of showing how people feel about the various services, not just what they're paying for and why. For example, AI-driven recommendations form a familiar part of the user experience for these streaming platforms. The whole ''if you like this, check this out'' recommendation engine these services employ is meant to keep you hooked into the service for as long as possible. And yet, according to this report, most consumers still aren't the biggest fans of this kind of computer-generated list of suggestions.
Per the report, more than one-third of consumers (36%) think that it needs to be easier overall to find what they want to watch. And only 21% of consumers think their streaming service knows what they'd like to watch better than they do.
Meanwhile, here are a few other statistics that should serve as something of a warning to these streaming services, no matter which one we're talking about. Again, from the report:
Only 12% of consumers say they can find content easily on the streaming service of their choice, a reference to what they believe are overly complicated layouts. Also, ''Despite the seductive pull of streaming services, 50% of the consumers in our focus group said they would eliminate a provider if the service was overwhelming (too much content) or inconvenient (not enough ways to overcome poor discovery.)''
Image Source: AP/REX/Shutterstock
Dogs are People Too
Fish-heads in dog food Boots on the ground
I have been to a pet food factory. I am an electrician.
Years ago, a co worker and I visited a pet food factory in morinville, about 30
mins north of Edmonton. We had to lug out an old control box. I was lucky
enough to get a small tour of the factory. It was a huge space with tons of
conveyer belts and moving parts. The whole operation was about the size of a
foot ball field.
They made dog and cat food. This pet food is different than
the normal kibble you buy at the super market. It is made with freshly sourced
animal parts and whole grains. At the loading dock I saw plastic cubes the size
of a Volkswagen full of raw eggs, duck livers, wheat, chicken, salmon bits,
This pet food is very expensive and is sold at premium pet
stores. They ship it around the world. A bag is around 40 or 50 bucks. My
friend Andrew feeds his dog Noodge this stuff. He eats better than I do.
My dog max eats the regular dry stuff.
I do remember the smell. The factory was clean as a
whistle but at the hopper area it smelled like death. One of the worst smells i
have ever smelled. Other bad smells I have smelled:
The bottom of a trash can at The super market fish counter I
worked at in grade 11.
The inside of a walleye I caught this summer who was
currently digesting another fish.
A shore full of dead lake white fish who had washed up after
a summer with a long heatwave.
They say scent is the strongest sense tied to memory.
Anywho I hope this of some use for the show.
Purina Wants Your Dog to Save the Planet by Eating Fish Heads - Bloomberg
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 16:05
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Source: Google to occupy 35-story office tower in downtown Austin
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 13:08
Shonda Novak @snovak999 Thursday Jan 31, 2019 at 3:41 PM Jan 31, 2019 at 4:06 PM
Google Inc. has signed a lease for an entire 35-story tower that has started construction just east of the Central Library in downtown Austin, according to a commercial real estate source with knowledge of the deal.
Google declined to comment on the transaction, or on what it means for the company's plans for its Austin operations. As of this past August, Google had more than 800 employees in Austin.
Austin-area brokers and Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce officials say the lease deal would seem to signal a major commitment to the Austin market by Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, which is one of the world's largest companies.
''Google is a major player in our corporate community and an engaged community leader; we are pleased to see how they continue to grow," Charisse Bodisch, the chamber's senior vice president of economic development, said in emailed statement. "The expansions of our existing businesses reinforces commitment to our community and continues to indicate we have a vibrant economy.''
The new tower will rise at West Cesar Chavez and Nueces streets, on a tract known as Block 185. Trammel Crow is the developer of the building, which will have 790,000 square feet of space, enough to potentially house about 5,000 people, local commercial brokers say.
The building is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in the second quarter of 2022, according to a marketing brochure for the building circulated by commercial real estate services firm CBRE.
The location is part of the the former Thomas C. Green Water Treatment Plant, which Trammel Crow is redeveloping. Block 185 is the fourth and final parcel to be redeveloped. Google already occupies a 29-story high-rise, called 500 W. 2nd St., on one of the parcels. Other tracts are home to Northshore, an apartment tower with a tiered design, and the Austin Proper Hotel & Residences, which is nearing completion.
The marketing materials say the new tower will have a "premier lakefront location with unobstructed views" and a "skyline defining signature design" by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. STG Design is the local architecture firm that is working on the project. Both firms declined to comment.
Pelli Clarke Pelli, based in New Haven, Conn., has designed some of the world's most recognizable buildings, including the World Financial Center in New York, the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong, the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and Salesforce Tower, a 60-story office tower that is the tallest building in San Francisco.
CBRE's marketing brochure for the new building says it will have an expansive lobby with access to the nearby Second Street retail district; outdoor terraces on every level; a fitness center; recreation, lounge, kitchen and dining areas; conference centers; a bar/tavern; ground-floor retail and other amenities. The building also will have a plaza along Shoal Creek "where employees can enjoy an authentic Austin experience," the brochure states. There will be 1,327 parking spaces in total, both above and below ground.
MSD Capital, Michael Dell's personal investment firm, is a financial backer of the tower, the brochure says.
Trammell Crow closed on the purchase of Block 185 on Jan. 15, according to Greg Kiloh, the city's redevelopment project manager. The purchase price was about $10. 27 million, an amount negotiated and agreed to in the 2012 master development agreement between the city and Trammell Crow, Kiloh said.
In 2016, Gerardo Interiano, at the time Google's public affairs and government relations manager, confirmed the company's initial lease at 500 West 2nd St., where it has since expanded.
''Since 2007, hundreds of Googlers have lived and worked in Austin, enjoying all the city has to offer from our trails to our festivals, to countless breakfast tacos,'' Interiano said in the September 2016 statement. ''As a result of our recent growth, we are excited to share that Google Austin has signed a lease for over 200,000 square feet at the new Green Water Treatment Plant redevelopment at 500 West 2nd Street.''
Beware of Royal Canin Anallergenic Dog Foods with Feather Meal
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 16:09
By Dr. Becker
Recently I came across an article in Forbes.com titled Dog Food Made From Feathers: A Win-Win for Royal Canin.
The article is an interview with Keith Levy, President of Royal Canin USA. Here's Mr. Levy's response to the Forbes.com interviewer's question about what he means when he says Royal Canin is "putting the dog at the heart of the innovation process."
"We live by the conviction that pets are quite different from human beings and have different nutritional needs. Many consumers extrapolate from themselves to their pet. So for example if they eat organic food, they want to feed their pets organic food as well. Or they want their food to look nice, so they might buy fancy shaped kibble; or meat as the first ingredient. We're not focused on ingredients, but on outcomes for pets. We can deliver great protein with soy, or with other ingredients."
This is interesting spin. First of all, I would hope anyone who is in the business of making food for dogs recognizes their nutritional requirements differ from those of humans. Levy seems to believe Royal Canin lives by this "conviction," but pet parents don't. According to Levy, pet owners apparently think their dogs should eat organic food, or food with meat as the first ingredient.
Silly pet owners! It seems clear Royal Canin believes we should follow their lead and stop focusing on the ingredients in the food we offer our pets. Instead, we should be feeding formulas with "great protein" derived from soy. Or feathers. Yes, feathers. More about that shortly.
He also believes we should focus on health outcomes versus ingredients. Well, Mr. Levy, current health outcomes of feeding non human-grade, biologically inappropriate ingredients include maldigestion, malabsorption, nutrient deficiency in the face of obesity, organ and metabolic dysfunction, and immune dysfunction (both cancer and auto-immmune disease).
The 'Irrelevance' of Ingredients and Other Pet Food Trade SecretsMr. Levy goes on to make several other interesting statements, for example, at Royal Canin, terms like organic are "irrelevant." He also maintains that, "A Great Dane has a very different digestive tract from a Yorkie." (Generally speaking, one canine digestive tract is much like the next, except that a big dog's GI tract is proportionately larger than that of a toy breed.)
Mr. Levy also says that while other pet food manufacturers are reducing the number of formulas they produce, Royal Canin is increasing theirs. He cites the example of a formula specifically designed for female dogs during breeding. And he helpfully offers up the motive behind all those different formulas: "With foods like this you create a story that is very difficult for competitors to duplicate."
You see, creating a story and making things difficult for competitors is the name of the game. Producing species-appropriate nutrition for dogs and cats doesn't seem to make the list.
Levy is also clearly proud that "Few brands are more expensive" than Royal Canin brands.
Feathers, Soy and Worm Meal: 'Incredibly Nutritious' Sources of Protein? According to Mr. Levy, Royal Canin's "anallergenic" line, which uses feather meal as the main source of protein, was 10 years in the making. It's designed for intensely allergic dogs for which even novel protein diets don't seem to work.
Here's the ingredient list for the Anallergenic Dry formula:
"Corn starch, hydrolyzed poultry by-products aggregate [feather meal], coconut oil, soybean oil, natural flavors, potassium phosphate, powdered cellulose, calcium carbonate, sodium silico aluminate, chicory, L-tyrosine, fructooligosaccharides, fish oil, L-lysine, choline chloride, taurine, L-tryptophan, vitamins [DL-alpha tocopherol (source of vitamin E), inositol, niacin, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), D-calcium panthotenate, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavine (vitamin B2), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin A acetate, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement], DL-methionine, marigold extract (Tagetes erecta L.), histidine, trace minerals [zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], rosemary extract, preserved with natural mixed tocopherols and citric acid."
Corn starch is the primary ingredient in this formula. Corn starch is nothing more than filler, and if you read here regularly you know that corn in any form is an ingredient I always recommend avoiding in pet food. It's notoriously allergenic, and is very often genetically modified.
The next ingredient on the list is "hydrolyzed poultry by-products aggregate," which is a technical name for feather meal. According to Levy, feather meal is "not only nutritious but can also be made very palatable to dogs." The feathers are broken down to an amino acid level, and palatizers are added for taste.
Other sources of protein Royal Canin is investigating include hydrolyzed soy, and worm meal. According to Mr. Levy, kibble made with worm meal is quite tasty. He says that by using alternative sources of protein, Royal Canin is "using something that would otherwise end up in a landfill." I'm all for recycling, except when it comes to ingredients that should be thrown out versus fed to pets.
Digestibility vs. Bioavailability of Feather MealFeathers are broken down to amino acids through a process called hydrolyzing. Hydrolyzing means to break down a protein source enzymatically. If enough enzymes are present, any type of protein can be hydrolyzed, allowing its amino acids to be absorbed through the walls of an animal's digestive tract and into the bloodstream. This means the protein is digestible, but not necessarily bioavailable. The bioavailability or biological value (BV) of a nutrient is the measure of its usefulness to the cells of the body.
For example, eggs have a biological value of 100 percent, meaning all the amino acids in an egg are useful to the body. Soy has a BV of around 55 percent, which means 45 percent of the protein in soy winds up as waste product in the blood that the kidneys must filter out.
Feathers have 0 percent bioavailability, so while they can be made digestible through the hydrolyzing process, they cannot be used by your pet's body at the cellular level.
In addition, many amino acids are damaged by heat, and as we know, commercially available pet food '' especially kibble '' is processed at extremely high temperatures. Since amino acids act synergistically (interdependently) in the body, damage to some amino acids can render other, undamaged amino acids useless.
Contaminated Feather MealAnother problem with feather meal is described in a recently published study titled "Feather Meal: A Previously Unrecognized Route for Reentry into the Food Supply of Multiple Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs)." Researchers found antimicrobials (antibiotics) in every feather meal sample tested (a total of 12), with up to 10 different drugs in some samples. Samples from China had the greatest number of antimicrobials.
In addition to the antibiotics, seven other PPCPs were found in the feather meal samples. Caffeine and acetaminophen (Tylenol) were found in 10 of the 12 samples, and 1,7-dimethylxantine, a metabolite of caffeine, was in 7 of the 12. Other drugs found in the samples included an anti-depressant (Prozac), a fungicide/antiparasitic, an antihistamine (Benadryl), and norgestimate (a synthetic sex hormone).
If you have a pet with a food allergy, before you consider alternative protein sources like feather meal, I strongly encourage you to watch my video on novel protein diets and read the accompanying article titled How to Heal Your Pet's Food Allergy.
If Edible Insects Are the Future, We Should Talk About Poop | WIRED
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 12:48

Two billion people can't be wrong'--at least, not about the nearly 2,000 species of insects that make for good eatin' around the world. But nobody has to pitch you on the benefits of insectivory, right? Easier on the environment, full of weird nutrients, and whoa, check out that feed conversion ratio: It takes half as much food as you'd give to pigs and chickens and a twelfth as much as cattle to get the same amount of cricket protein on the far side of the abattoir. If Earth might have to feed 9 billion people in the coming decades, insects are what's for dinner. Ask the United Nations.
But let's slow down this Snowpiercer train a bit. Insects like crickets and beetles are, indeed, a very good source of protein and other nutrients. But the ones that humans already eat tend to be wild-caught and consumed in comparatively small numbers. That's not the scaled-up future of insectivory that the UN foresaw in 2013. Factory farm facilities that can breed, raise, kill, and ship millions of critters require more food as input, output more waste, and raise thorny issues from entomology to ethics. ''Actually, we don't know that much,'' says …sa Berggren, an ecologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala who has been trying to sort out how sustainable an insect-based menu would be. ''And people don't know what we don't know.''
That ignorance should bug you, because we humans have already steered our food system into a sustainability crisis. As any soy-swilling vegan will tell you at the drop of a hemp-knit hat, the global system of raising animal protein for people to eat has flaws. People use 77 percent of the world's agricultural land to grow feed for meat animals, even though they represent just 17 percent of calories consumed. Livestock emit 14.5 percent of climate change-causing greenhouse gases; farmed hogs represent a possible reservoir of pandemic-causing influenza viruses; chicken farming fueled the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria; and giant pools of hog waste threaten natural disaster every time a hurricane brushes the Carolinas.
But those aren't problems with animal protein per se; they're problems of scale and capitalism. And now the future of insects as food threatens to become every bit as industrial. Some European countries already have ''mass-rearing facilities, enormous, like airplane hangar-sized,'' Berggren says. But it doesn't have to be a catastrophe. The newly buzzy insect biz is an opportunity. ''If you start with totally new animals, we should be able to do it better. Knowing what we know now, what could we change if we started all over again, so we don't continue to make it worse?''
Writing in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Berggren and her colleagues lay out a sort of anti-review article, a litany not of what's known but of the unknowns that emerge when a swarm of new companies start mass-producing insects. According to one analysis, edible insects will be a $710 million global market in the next five years'--multiple species, ground into flour or sold as bars and snacks. But growing up all those insects will mean more space for unintended consequences.
So, for example, today people use a huge amount of land on Earth to grow plants then fed to animals so people can eat the animals. Insects need less of that food to become more protein, and more of each insect (depending on the species) is actually edible'--insects, having chitinous exoskeletons, make no bones about that. But that still means productive agricultural land has to be turned from feeding people to feeding critters. What you'd really like is to scroll through the thousands of edible insects and find species that grow fast, aren't too finicky about living conditions, and most importantly are not picky eaters. Best case: insects that eat something people don't, or can't'--solving a recycling problem while freeing up land to grow food for humans instead of human prey. And at the other end of the problem, it'd be great to figure out how much waste zillions of insects create, what's in it, and how to use it.
The fact that few people are thinking about sustainability fits a pattern. ''We think, oh, insects are going to be the silver bullet on protein and nutrition. But what about all this other stuff?'' says Bob Martin, director of the Food System Policy Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. It happened with chicken, he says, and it's currently happening with aquaculture, as people start building huge offshore fish farms and dousing them with antibiotics. It's possible that the companies working on insects and fish have answers to some of these questions. They're just not publishing them.
For example, Aspire Food Group, which produces crickets and cricket flour, sells all its ''frass'''--cricket poop'--to farmers, who use it as a soil amendment. Frass' percentage amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium aren't much better than readily available fertilizers, says Gabe Mott, Aspire's cofounder and chief operating officer, but some people think frass amps up plant growth rates. Published work isn't clear; the body of literature on cricket frass is more of a thorax, apparently. And crickets have other waste besides frass; at the scale Aspire is working in now, it's negligible. When they get up to thousands of tons of crickets? Not so much. ''We want to make sure long before we get there that we have a place to send it and it has a meaningful agricultural value,'' Mott says.
That day is coming. ''We're putting in the neighborhood of 5,000 or 10,000 crickets in a container, and we've got thousands of containers,'' Mott says. ''We can do research on a scale no lab has ever done.'' That translates to processing 1 million crickets a day.
To be clear, by some measures, the problem with feeding the world isn't one of quantity but of distribution. Cut the amount of protein Americans eat, and the land used to produce the plants that feed that meat could instead grow fruits and vegetables, presumably. Americans still eat way more protein and fat than the world average, and two to three times as much red meat as people anywhere else'--even as some countries (and poorer parts of the US) experience malnutrition.
So avoiding that Snowpiercer future is about more than making sure the poor people in the back of the global train have enough cheap insect protein, while the 0.01 percenters up front get steak. ''I do believe in insects as a food source. I have a positive outlook,'' Berggren says. ''I would like to have people see it as not one simple solution'--just breed lots of insects of one kind and everything is fine. The world and our food systems are way more complex than that.'' Insects are an opportunity; imagine getting a global food network right, from the very start.
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Walmart needs hundreds of truck drivers and will pay them $87,500
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 16:04
Amid a mass nationwide truck driver shortage, Walmart has upped the ante by raising driver salaries to $87,500 a year, on average, beginning this February, in a bid to attract the hundreds of workers it needs to fill out its fleet in 2019.
The retail giant hired more than 1,400 new drivers last year, but as roughly two-thirds of the nation's freight is transported by truck and consumer demand for its wares increased last year '-- same-store sales grew 3 percent during 2018 '-- the company needs another large batch of fresh drivers to keep it running.
But the ultra-low unemployment rate and the job's challenging on-the-road lifestyle mean there are fewer workers interested in taking these roles. The American Trucking Association estimates there are 48,000 vacant trucking jobs, which may be why Walmart announced its wage increase.
Its drivers will earn an additional one cent per mile and extra pay for every arrival, bringing the average annual compensation to $87,500 and its all-in rate close to 89 cents per mile.
A salary just shy of $90,000 will definitely tip the scale in Walmart's favor as its competes for potential drivers. The median annual wage for most tractor-trailer truck drivers across the U.S. is $44,500, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or about $43,000 less than what Walmart says it will pay employees. And only 10 percent of truckers earn above $64,000.
Walmart also offers drivers three weeks of paid time-off in a driver's first year and quarterly bonuses for safe driving, according to Business Insider. They also enjoy a rarity in the trucking word: two days a week at home.
In addition to its benefits, Walmart is also making its on-boarding process faster in hopes of increasing its new driver recruitment. It slashed wait times between a candidate's initial review and their mandatory driving assessment in half, and added targeted one-on-one mentoring from veteran drivers to its new driver orientation practices.
All of this is a departure from the company's old system, in which candidates were given one chance to perform an assessment, and were judged based on their driving skills and ability to accurately complete safety scans before departure. This "one and done" test was so rigorous that only about 10 percent of candidates made it through the trial run, according to Yahoo Finance. Now, about 80 percent pass under the new trial process, Walmart told Business Insider.
But becoming a Walmart driver still requires that you not only pass this initial on-boarding process and driving checks, but that you have 30 months of experience in the past three years and a clean safety record.
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Dr Drew on Twitter: "Oh yes cases are accelerating and you will soon enough hear about Yersinia Pestis in LA. I estimate first cases of Yersinia this summer'... https://t.co/m1IJVDoL2W"
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 13:34
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Yersinia pestis - Wikipedia
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 13:33
Yersinia pestis[1] (formerly Pasteurella pestis) is a gram-negative, nonmotile, rod-shaped coccobacillus, with no spores. It is a facultative anaerobic organism that can infect humans via the Oriental rat flea.[2] It causes the disease plague, which takes three main forms: pneumonic, septicemic and bubonic plagues.[2][3][4] All three forms were responsible for a number of high-mortality epidemics throughout human history, including: the sixth century's Plague of Justinian; the Black Death, which accounted for the death of at least one-third of the European population between 1347 and 1353; and the Third Pandemic, sometimes referred to as the Modern Plague, which began in the late nineteenth century in China and spread by rats on steamboats claiming close to 10,000,000 lives.[5][6][7][8] These plagues likely originated in China and were transmitted west via trade routes.[8][9] Recent research indicates that the pathogen may have been the cause of what is described as the Neolithic Decline, when European populations declined significantly.[10] This would push the date to much earlier and might be indicative of an origin in Europe rather than Eurasia.
Y. pestis was discovered in 1894 by Alexandre Yersin, a Swiss/French physician and bacteriologist from the Pasteur Institute, during an epidemic of the plague in Hong Kong.[11] Yersin was a member of the Pasteur school of thought. Kitasato Shibasaburō, a German-trained Japanese bacteriologist who practised Koch's methodology, was also engaged at the time in finding the causative agent of the plague.[12] However, Yersin actually linked plague with Y. pestis. Named Pasteurella pestis in the past, the organism was renamed Yersinia pestis in 1944.
Every year, thousands of cases of the plague are still reported to the World Health Organization, although with proper treatment, the prognosis for victims is now much better. A five- to six-fold increase in cases occurred in Asia during the time of the Vietnam War, possibly due to the disruption of ecosystems and closer proximity between people and animals. The plague is now commonly found in sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, areas which now account for over 95% of reported cases. The plague also has a detrimental effect on nonhuman mammals.[13] In the United States, mammals such as the black-tailed prairie dog and the endangered black-footed ferret are under threat.
General characteristics [ edit ] Y. pestis is a nonmotile, stick-shaped, facultative anaerobic bacterium with bipolar staining (giving it a safety pin appearance) that produces an antiphagocytic slime layer.[14] Similar to other Yersinia species, it tests negative for urease, lactose fermentation, and indole.[15] The closest relative is the gastrointestinal pathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, and more distantly Yersinia enterocolitica.
Genome [ edit ] The complete genomic sequence is available for two of the three subspecies of Y. pestis: strain KIM (of biovar Y. p. medievalis),[16] and strain CO92 (of biovar Y. p. orientalis, obtained from a clinical isolate in the United States).[17] As of 2006, the genomic sequence of a strain of biovar Antiqua has been recently completed.[18] Similar to the other pathogenic strains, signs exist of loss of function mutations. The chromosome of strain KIM is 4,600,755 base pairs long; the chromosome of strain CO92 is 4,653,728 base pairs long. Like Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. enterocolitica, Y. pestis is host to the plasmid pCD1. In addition, it also hosts two other plasmids, pPCP1 (also called pPla or pPst) and pMT1 (also called pFra) that are not carried by the other Yersinia species. pFra codes for a phospholipase D that is important for the ability of Y. pestis to be transmitted by fleas.[19] pPla codes for a protease, Pla, that activates plasmin in human hosts and is a very important virulence factor for pneumonic plague.[20] Together, these plasmids, and a pathogenicity island called HPI, encode several proteins that cause the pathogenesis, for which Y. pestis is famous. Among other things, these virulence factors are required for bacterial adhesion and injection of proteins into the host cell, invasion of bacteria in the host cell (via a type-III secretion system), and acquisition and binding of iron harvested from red blood cells (by siderophores). Y. pestis is thought to be descended from Y. pseudotuberculosis, differing only in the presence of specific virulence plasmids.
A comprehensive and comparative proteomics analysis of Y. pestis strain KIM was performed in 2006.[21] The analysis focused on the transition to a growth condition mimicking growth in host cells.
Small noncoding RNA [ edit ] Numerous bacterial small noncoding RNAs have been identified to play regulatory functions. Some can regulate the virulence genes. Some 63 novel putative sRNAs were identified through deep sequencing of the Y. pestis sRNA-ome. Among them was Yersinia-specific (also present in Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. enterocolitica) Ysr141 (Yersinia small RNA 141). Ysr141 sRNA was shown to regulate the synthesis of the type III secretion system (T3SS) effector protein YopJ.[22] The Yop-Ysc T3SS is a critical component of virulence for Yersinia species.[23] Many novel sRNAs were identified from Y. pestis grown in vitro and in the infected lungs of mice suggesting they play role in bacterial physiology or pathogenesis. Among them sR035 predicted to pair with SD region and transcription initiation site of a thermo-sensitive regulator ymoA, and sR084 predicted to pair with fur, ferric uptake regulator.[24]
See also [ edit ] Intergenic RNA thermometerPathogenesis and immunity [ edit ] Oriental rat flea (
Xenopsylla cheopis) infected with the
Y. pestis bacterium which appears as a dark mass in the gut: The foregut (proventriculus) of this flea is blocked by a
Y. pestis biofilm; when the flea attempts to feed on an uninfected
Y. pestis is regurgitated into the wound, causing infection.
In the urban and sylvatic (forest) cycles of Y. pestis, most of the spreading occurs between rodents and fleas. In the sylvatic cycle, the rodent is wild, but in the urban cycle, the rodent is primarily the brown rat. In addition, Y. pestis can spread from the urban environment and back. Transmission to humans is usually through the bite of infected fleas. If the disease has progressed to the pneumonic form, humans can spread the bacterium to others by coughing, vomiting and possibly sneezing.
In reservoir hosts [ edit ] Several species of rodents serve as the main reservoir for Y. pestis in the environment. In the steppes, the natural reservoir is believed to be principally the marmot. In the western United States, several species of rodents are thought to maintain Y. pestis. However, the expected disease dynamics have not been found in any rodent. Several species of rodents are known to have a variable resistance, which could lead to an asymptomatic carrier status.[25] Evidence indicates fleas from other mammals have a role in human plague outbreaks.[26]
The lack of knowledge of the dynamics of plague in mammal species is also true among susceptible rodents such as the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), in which plague can cause colony collapse, resulting in a massive effect on prairie food webs.[27] However, the transmission dynamics within prairie dogs do not follow the dynamics of blocked fleas; carcasses, unblocked fleas, or another vector could possibly be important, instead.[28]
In other regions of the world, the reservoir of the infection is not clearly identified, which complicates prevention and early-warning programs. One such example was seen in a 2003 outbreak in Algeria.[29] The domestic house cat is susceptible to plague. Their symptoms are similar to those experienced by humans. Cats infected with plague can infect people through bites, scratches, coughs, or sneezes.[30]
Vector [ edit ] The transmission of Y. pestis by fleas is well characterized.[31] Initial acquisition of Y. pestis by the vector occurs during feeding on an infected animal. Several proteins then contribute to the maintenance of the bacteria in the flea digestive tract, among them the hemin storage system and Yersinia murine toxin (Ymt).Although Ymt is highly toxic to rodents and was once thought to be produced to ensure reinfection of new hosts, it is important for the survival of Y. pestis in fleas.[19]
The hemin storage system plays an important role in the transmission of Y. pestis back to a mammalian host.[32] While in the insect vector, proteins encoded by hemin storage system genetic loci induce biofilm formation in the proventriculus, a valve connecting the midgut to the esophagus.[33] Aggregation in the biofilm inhibits feeding, as a mass of clotted blood and bacteria forms (referred to as "Bacot's block"[34]). Transmission of Y. pestis occurs during the futile attempts of the flea to feed. Ingested blood is pumped into the esophagus, where it dislodges bacteria lodged in the proventriculus and is regurgitated back into the host circulatory system.
In humans and other susceptible hosts [ edit ] Pathogenesis due to Y. pestis infection of mammalian hosts is due to several factors, including an ability of these bacteria to suppress and avoid normal immune system responses such as phagocytosis and antibody production. Flea bites allow for the bacteria to pass the skin barrier. Y. pestis expresses a plasmin activator that is an important virulence factor for pneumonic plague and that might degrade on blood clots to facilitate systematic invasion.[20] Many of the bacteria's virulence factors are anti-phagocytic in nature. Two important anti-phagocytic antigens, named F1 (Fraction 1) and V or LcrV, are both important for virulence.[14] These antigens are produced by the bacterium at normal human body temperature. Furthermore, Y. pestis survives and produces F1 and V antigens while it is residing within white blood cells such as monocytes, but not in neutrophils. Natural or induced immunity is achieved by the production of specific opsonic antibodies against F1 and V antigens; antibodies against F1 and V induce phagocytosis by neutrophils.[35]
In addition, the type-III secretion system (T3SS) allows Y. pestis to inject proteins into macrophages and other immune cells. These T3SS-injected proteins, called Yersinia outer proteins (Yops), include Yop B/D, which form pores in the host cell membrane and have been linked to cytolysis. The YopO, YopH, YopM, YopT, YopJ, and YopE are injected into the cytoplasm of host cells by T3SS into the pore created in part by YopB and YopD.[36] The injected Yops limit phagocytosis and cell signaling pathways important in the innate immune system, as discussed below. In addition, some Y. pestis strains are capable of interfering with immune signaling (e.g., by preventing the release of some cytokines).
Y. pestis proliferates inside lymph nodes, where it is able to avoid destruction by cells of the immune system such as macrophages. The ability of Y. pestis to inhibit phagocytosis allows it to grow in lymph nodes and cause lymphadenopathy. YopH is a protein tyrosine phosphatase that contributes to the ability of Y. pestis to evade immune system cells.[37] In macrophages, YopH has been shown to dephosphorylate p130Cas, Fyb (Fyn binding protein) SKAP-HOM and Pyk, a tyrosine kinase homologous to FAK. YopH also binds the p85 subunit of phosphoinositide 3-kinase, the Gab1, the Gab2 adapter proteins, and the Vav guanine nucleotide exchange factor.
YopE functions as a GTPase-activating protein for members of the Rho family of GTPases such as RAC1. YopT is a cysteine protease that inhibits RhoA by removing the isoprenyl group, which is important for localizing the protein to the cell membrane. It has been proposed that YopE and YopT may function to limit YopB/D-induced cytolysis.[38] This might limit the function of YopB/D to create the pores used for Yop insertion into host cells and prevent YopB/D-induced rupture of host cells and release of cell contents that would attract and stimulate immune system responses.
YopJ is an acetyltransferase that binds to a conserved α-helix of MAPK kinases.[39] YopJ acetylates MAPK kinases at serines and threonines that are normally phosphorylated during activation of the MAP kinase cascade.[40][41] YopJ is activated in eukaryotic cells by interaction with target cell Phytic acid (IP6).[42] This disruption of host cell protein kinase activity causes apoptosis of macrophages, and it has been proposed that this is important for the establishment of infection and for evasion of the host immune response. YopO is a protein kinase also known as Yersinia protein kinase A (YpkA). YopO is a potent inducer of human macrophage apoptosis.[43]
Depending on which form of the plague the individual becomes infected with the plague develops different illness; however the plague overall affects the host cell's ability to communicate with the immune system, hindering the body to bring phagocytic cells to the area of infection.
Y. pestis is a versatile killer. In addition to rodents and humans, it is known to have killed dogs, cats, camels, chickens and pigs.[44]
Immunity [ edit ] A formalin-inactivated vaccine once was available in the United States for adults at high risk of contracting the plague until removal from the market by the Food and Drug Administration. It was of limited effectiveness and could cause severe inflammation. Experiments with genetic engineering of a vaccine based on F1 and V antigens are underway and show promise. However, bacteria lacking antigen F1 are still virulent, and the V antigens are sufficiently variable, such that vaccines composed of these antigens may not be fully protective.[45]United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) have found that an experimental F1/V antigen-based vaccine protects crab-eating macaques but fails to protect African green monkey species.[46] A systematic review by the Cochrane Collaboration found no studies of sufficient quality to make any statement on the efficacy of the vaccine.[47]
Isolation and identification [ edit ] In 1894, two bacteriologists, Alexandre Yersin of Switzerland and Kitasato Shibasaburō of Japan, independently isolated in Hong Kong the bacterium responsible for the Third Pandemic. Though both investigators reported their findings, a series of confusing and contradictory statements by Kitasato eventually led to the acceptance of Yersin as the primary discoverer of the organism. Yersin named it Pasteurella pestis in honor of the Pasteur Institute, where he worked. In 1967 it was moved to a new genus and renamed Yersinia pestis in his honor. Yersin also noted that rats were affected by plague not only during plague epidemics but also often preceding such epidemics in humans and that plague was regarded by many locals as a disease of rats: villagers in China and India asserted that, when large numbers of rats were found dead, plague outbreaks soon followed.[citation needed ]
In 1898, the French scientist Paul-Louis Simond (who had also come to China to battle the Third Pandemic) established the rat-flea vector that drives the disease. He had noted that persons who became ill did not have to be in close contact with each other to acquire the disease. In Yunnan, China, inhabitants would flee from their homes as soon as they saw dead rats, and on the island of Formosa (Taiwan), residents considered the handling of dead rats heightened the risks of developing plague. These observations led him to suspect that the flea might be an intermediary factor in the transmission of plague, since people acquired plague only if they were in contact with recently dead rats, who had died less than 24 hours before. In a now classic experiment, Simond demonstrated how a healthy rat died of plague, after infected fleas had jumped to it, from a rat which had recently died of the plague.[48] The outbreak spread to Chinatown, San Francisco from 1900-1904 and then to Oakland and the East Bay from 1907-1909.[49] It has been present in the rodents of western North America ever since, as fear of the consequences of the outbreak on trade caused authorities to hide the dead of the Chinatown residents long enough for the disease to be passed to widespread species of native rodents in outlying areas.[50]
Ancient DNA evidence [ edit ] In 2018, the emergence and spread of the pathogen during the Neolithic Decline (as far back as 6,000 years ago) was published.[51] A site in Sweden was the source of the DNA evidence and trade networks were proposed as the likely avenue of spread rather than migrations of populations.
DNA evidence published in 2015 indicates Y. pestis infected humans 5,000 years ago in Bronze AgeEurasia,[52] but genetic changes that made it highly virulent did not occur until about 4,000 years ago.[53] The highly virulent version capable of transmission by fleas through rodents, humans, and other mammals was found in two individuals associated with the Srubnaya culture from the Samara region in Russia from around 3,800 years ago and an Iron Age individual from Kapan, Armenia from around 2,900 years ago.[53][52] This indicates that there were at least two lineages of Y. pestis circulating during the Bronze Age in Eurasia.[53] The Y. pestis bacterium has a relatively large number of non-functioning genes and three "ungainly" plasmids suggesting a recent origin less than 20,000 years ago.[44]
Three main strains are recognised: Antiqua, which caused a plague pandemic in the sixth century; Medievalis, which caused the Black Death and subsequent epidemics during the second pandemic wave; and Orientalis, which is responsible for current plague outbreaks.[54]
Plague causes a blockage in the proventriculus of the flea by forming a biofilm.[55] The biofilm formation is induced by the ingestion of blood. The presence of a biofilm seems likely to be required for stable infection of the flea.[56] It has been suggested that a bacteriophage '' Ypφ '' may have been responsible for increasing the virulence of this organism.[57]
Recent events [ edit ] In 2008 the plague was commonly found in sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, areas which accounted for over 95% of the reported cases.[13]
In September 2009, the death of Malcolm Casadaban, a molecular genetics professor at the University of Chicago, was linked to his work on a weakened laboratory strain of Y. pestis.[58]Hemochromatosis was hypothesised to be a predisposing factor in Casadaban's death from this attenuated strain used for research.[59]
In 2012, researchers in Germany collected samples of Yersinia pestis from gravesites with a view to reconstructing the DNA of the bacterium.[60] In 2015, Cell published results from a study of ancient graves. Plasmids of Y. pestis were detected in archaeological samples of the teeth of seven Bronze Age individuals, in the Afanasievo culture in Siberia, the Corded Ware culture in Estonia, the Sintashta culture in Russia, the Unetice culture in Poland and the Andronovo culture in Siberia.[61]
On June 8, 2015 in Larimer County, CO, a fatality was confirmed by the CDC as listed on the RSOE EDIS '' Emergency and Disaster Information Service.[3]
September 8, 2016: Yersinia pestis bacterium identified from DNA in teeth from skeletons found at Crossrail Site, London showing the human remains were victims of the Great Plague of London in 1665-1666.[62]
January 15, 2018: While rats have long been blamed for spreading the fatal disease throughout Europe, researchers at the University of Oslo in Norway and the University of Ferrara in Italy now believe humans and their parasites were the biggest carriers.[63][64]
References [ edit ] ^ Sutyak, Katya. "Yersinia Pestis." University of Connecticut, 10 Nov. 2015. ^ a b Ryan KJ, Ray CG, eds. (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). McGraw Hill. pp. 484''488. ISBN 978-0-8385-8529-0. ^ a b hunnomad@gmail.com, Zsolt Boszormenyi-. "RSOE EDIS - - Event reports (Earthquakes, events, tropical storms, tsunamies and others)". RSOE EDIS . Retrieved 11 December 2018 . ^ CDC https://www.cdc.gov/plague/ ^ Austin Alchon, Suzanne (2003). A pest in the land: new world epidemics in a global perspective. University of New Mexico Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8263-2871-7. ^ Harbeck, Michaela; Seifert, Lisa; H¤nsch, Stephanie; Wagner, David M.; Birdsell, Dawn; Parise, Katy L.; Wiechmann, Ingrid; Grupe, Gisela; Thomas, Astrid; Keim, Paul; Z¶ller, Lothar; Bramanti, Barbara; Riehm, Julia M.; Scholz, Holger C. (2013). "Yersinia pestis DNA from Skeletal Remains from the 6th Century AD Reveals Insights into Justinianic Plague | Science. New SeriesPLoS Pathogens". PLoS Pathogens. 9 (#5): e1003349. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003349. PMC 3642051 . PMID 23658525. Lay summary '' ScienceDaily (May 10, 2013). ^ Carter, Adam (January 27, 2014). "Black Death mysteries unlocked by McMaster scientists". CBC News. ^ a b Nicholas Wade (October 31, 2010). "Europe's Plagues Came From China, Study Finds". New York Times . Retrieved November 1, 2010 . ^ Morelli, G.; Song, Y.; Mazzoni, C.J.; Eppinger, M.; Roumagnac, P.; Wagner, D.M.; Feldkamp, M.; Kusecek, B.; Vogler, A.J.; Li, Y.; Cui, Y.; Thomson, N.R.; Jombart, T.; Leblois, R.; Lichtner, P.; Rahalison, L.; Petersen, J.M.; Balloux, F.; Keim, Pl; Wirth, T.; Ravel, J.; Yang, R.; Carniel, E.; Achtman, M. (December 2010). "Yersinia pestis genome sequencing identifies patterns of global phylogenetic diversity". Nature Genetics. 42 (#12): 1140''1143. doi:10.1038/ng.705. PMC 2999892 . 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CBC News. ^ Dean, Katharine R; Krauer, Fabienne; Wall¸e, Lars; Lingj...rde, Ole Christian; Bramanti, Barbara; Stenseth, Nils Chr; Schmid, Boris V (2018). "Human ectoparasites and the spread of plague in Europe during the Second Pandemic". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115 (#6): 1304''1309. doi:10.1073/pnas.1715640115. PMC 5819418 . PMID 29339508. External links [ edit ] Yersinia pestis. Virtual Museum of Bacteria.A list of variant strains and information on synonyms (and much more) is available through the NCBI taxonomy browser.CDC's Home page for PlagueIDSA's resource page on Plague: Current, comprehensive information on pathogenesis, microbiology, epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatmentPlague (Yersinia Pestis)Wyndham Lathem speaking on "From Mild to Murderous: How Yersinia pestis Evolved to Cause Pneumonic Plague."
BREAKING Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 15:59
As broadly expected, following a meeting of the FOMC, the Federal Reserve monetary policy-setting committee, the Fed has announced that it will maintain the interest rates it controls at current levels.
The target rate for the Fed funds rate will remain between 2.25% and 2.50%
The accompanying Fed statement was, in many ways, very dovish.
The Fed released updated guidance around how it is shrinking asset portfolio operation by indicating officials had agreed to technical changes that could result in the Fed putting an end to its balance sheet drain.
The Fed also removed from its statement of "gradual rate hike" guidance.
- RW
Nonfarm payrolls January 2019
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 16:11
Job growth in January shattered expectations, with nonfarm payrolls surging by 304,000 despite a partial government shutdown that was the longest in history, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The unemployment rate ticked higher to 4 percent, a level where it had last been in June, a likely effect of the shutdown, according to the department. However, officials said federal workers generally were counted as employed during the period because they received pay during the survey week of Jan. 12. On balance, federal government employment actually rose by 1,000.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected payrolls to rise by 170,000 and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 3.9 percent.
In all, it was a powerful performance at a time when economists increasingly have said they expect growth to slow in 2019. January marked 100 months in a row of positive job creation, by far the longest streak on record.
Stock futures and Treasury yields jumped in response to the better-than-expected report.
The news was not all good, though, as data revisions pushed previous numbers lower.
December's big initially reported gain of 312,000 was knocked all the way down to 222,000, while November's rose from 176,000 to 196,000. On net, that took the two months down by 70,000, bringing the three-month average to 241,000. That's still well above the trend that would be common this far into an economic expansion dating back 9½ years.
For the full year of 2018, the average monthly gain was 223,000.
"Certainly, the economy has slowed, and that will undoubtedly be apparent in other data in the coming weeks. Still, the jobs market remains a bright spot," Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors, said in a note. "Employers are still hiring at a strong pace. That's good news for the consumer sector, and ultimately good news for the economy."
A separate measure of unemployment that takes into account discouraged workers and those holding part-time positions for economic reasons jumped to 8.1 percent from 7.6 percent, with the January reading being around where it was in January 2018.
Among individual groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics jumped to 4.9 percent from 4.4 percent in December. The rate for African-Americans rose to 6.8 percent from 6.6 percent while Asians saw a decline to 3.1 percent from 3.3 percent. The rate for whites was 3.5 percent, a notch higher than December's 3.4 percent.
Muted wage growthThe job creation saw muted wage growth, with average hourly earnings rising just 3 cents on the month, or 0.1 percent, well below the 0.3 percent expected gain. On a year-over-year basis, though, that still amounted to a 3.2 percent increase, consistent with the past few months and around the highest levels of the recovery.
A Bureau of Labor Statistics official estimated that the shutdown had "no discernable impacts" on the ability to make estimates, though there was some effect on the numbers otherwise.
The most notable came in the count of those working part-time for economic reasons, often referred to as the underemployed. That total jumped nearly 11 percent to 5.1 million.
The household survey's level of unemployed increased by 241,000, or nearly 4 percent, to 6.5 million, helping to push the unemployment rate higher. The survey's level of those counted as employed tumbled by 251,000 to 156.7 million. The department uses its establishment survey, which contacts businesses, to formulate the headline monthly job gains.
Multiple sectors helped contribute to the spike in job creation. Services rose by 224,000 and goods-producing industries increased by 72,000.
Leisure and hospitality added 74,000 positions, with the biggest gain coming in bars and restaurants, which rose by 37,000. Construction saw a gain of 52,000, bringing its 12-month total to 338,000.
Elsewhere, health care contributed 42,000, bringing its yearly gain to 368,000. Transportation and warehousing added 27,000 and retail grew by 21,000 following a year where the sector showed a total gain of just 26,000.
Professional and business services were up 30,000 and manufacturing increased by 13,000, bringing that sector's 12-month total to 261,000.
The average work week remained at 34.5 hours. The labor force participation rate held steady at 63.1 percent while those counted as not in the labor force fell by 639,000 to just over 95 million.
The department also released its full-year revisions, which it does each January. In total, the changes added 36,000 to the count for all of 2018. Revisions to the labor force count saw the civilian noninstitutional population fall by 800,000 and the civilian labor force decrease by 506,000.
Ministry of Truthiness
Text - S.3274 - 114th Congress (2015-2016): Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 13:30
S. 3274
To counter foreign disinformation and propaganda, and for other purposes.
Mr. Portman (for himself and Mr. Murphy ) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
To counter foreign disinformation and propaganda, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of theUnited States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. Short title .
This Act may be cited as the ''Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act''.
SEC. 2. Center for information analysis and response .
(a) Establishment .'--Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response (in this section referred to as the ''Center''). The purposes of the Center are'--
(1) to coordinate the sharing among government agencies of information on foreign government information warfare efforts, including information provided by recipients of information access fund grants awarded using funds made available under subsection (e) and from other sources, subject to the appropriate classification guidelines;
(2) to establish a process for integrating information on foreign propaganda and disinformation efforts into national strategy; and
(3) to develop, plan, and synchronize interagency activities to expose and counter foreign information operations directed against United States national security interests and advance narratives that support United States allies and interests.
(b) Functions .'--The Center shall carry out the following functions:
(1) Integrating interagency efforts to track and evaluate counterfactual narratives abroad that threaten the national security interests of the United States and United States allies, subject to appropriate regulations governing the dissemination of classified information and programs.
(2) Analyzing relevant information from United States Government agencies, allied nations, think-tanks, academic institutions, civil society groups, and other nongovernmental organizations.
(3) Developing and disseminating thematic narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at United States allies and partners in order to safeguard United States allies and interests.
(4) Identifying current and emerging trends in foreign propaganda and disinformation, including the use of print, broadcast, online and social media, support for third-party outlets such as think tanks, political parties, and nongovernmental organizations, in order to coordinate and shape the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures to expose and refute foreign misinformation and disinformation and proactively promote fact-based narratives and policies to audiences outside the United States.
(5) Facilitating the use of a wide range of information-related technologies and techniques to counter foreign disinformation by sharing expertise among agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.
(6) Identifying gaps in United States capabilities in areas relevant to the Center's mission and recommending necessary enhancements or changes.
(7) Identifying the countries and populations most susceptible to foreign government propaganda and disinformation.
(8) Administering and expending funds made available pursuant to subsection (e).
(9) Coordinating with allied and partner nations, particularly those frequently targeted by foreign disinformation operations, and international organizations and entities such as the NATO Center of Excellence on Strategic Communications, the European Endowment for Democracy, and the European External Action Service Task Force on Strategic Communications, in order to amplify the Center's efforts and avoid duplication.
(c) Interagency manager .'--
(1) I N GENERAL .'--The President is authorized to designate an official of the United States Government to lead an interagency team and to manage the Center. The President shall delegate to the manager of the Center responsibility for and presumptive authority to direct and coordinate the activities and operations of all departments, agencies, and elements of the United States Government in so far as their support is required to ensure the successful implementation of a strategy approved by the President for accomplishing the mission. The official so designated shall be serving in a position in the executive branch by appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.
(A) C OMPOSITION .'--The Interagency Manager shall establish a Steering Committee composed of senior representatives of agencies relevant to the Center's mission to provide advice to the Manager on the operations and strategic orientation of the Center and to ensure adequate support for the Center. The Steering Committee shall include one senior representative designated by each of the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
(B) M EETINGS .'--The Interagency Steering Committee shall meet not less than every 3 months.
(C) P ARTICIPATION AND INDEPENDENCE .'--The Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall not compromise the journalistic freedom or integrity of relevant media organizations. Other Federal agencies may be invited to participate in the Center and Steering Committee at the discretion of the Interagency Manager.
(A) L IMITATION ON SCOPE .'--The delegated responsibility and authority provided pursuant to paragraph (1) may not extend beyond the requirements for successful implementation of the mission and strategy described in that paragraph.
(B) A PPEAL OF EXECUTION OF ACTIVITIES .'--The head of any department, agency, or other element of the United States Government may appeal to the President a requirement or direction by the official designated pursuant to paragraph (1) for activities otherwise in support of the mission and strategy described in that paragraph if such head determines that there is a compelling case that executing such activities would do undue harm to other missions of national importance to the United States.
(A) I N GENERAL .'--The activities under this subsection of the Center described in paragraph (1) shall be done only with the intent to influence foreign audiences. No funds for the activities of the team under this section may be used with the intent to influence public opinion in the United States.
(B) R ULE OF CONSTRUCTION .'--Nothing in this subsection may be construed to prohibit the team described in paragraph (1) from engaging in any form of communication or medium, either directly or indirectly, or coordinating with any other department or agency of the United States Government, a State government, or any other public or private organization or institution because a United States domestic audience is or may be thereby exposed to activities or communications of the team under this subsection, or based on a presumption of such exposure.
(d) Staff .'--
(1) C OMPENSATION .'--The President may fix the compensation of the manager of the Center and other personnel without regard to chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code, relating to classification of positions and General Schedule pay rates, except that the rate of pay for the executive director and other personnel may not exceed the rate payable for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of that title.
(2) D ETAIL OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES .'--Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Center without reimbursement, and such detail shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege.
(3) P ROCUREMENT OF TEMPORARY AND INTERMITTENT SERVICES .'--The President may procure temporary and intermittent services under section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, at rates for individuals which do not exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of that title.
(e) Funds .'--Of amounts authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2017 for the Department of Defense and identified as undistributed fuel cost savings, up to $250,000,000 may be available for purposes of carrying out this section and the grant program established under section 3. Once obligated, such funds shall remain available for such purposes until expended.
SEC. 3. Information access funds .
(a) Grants and contracts of financial support .'--The Center may provide grants or contracts of financial support to civil society groups, journalists, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions for the following purposes:
(1) To support local independent media who are best placed to refute foreign disinformation and manipulation in their own communities.
(2) To collect and store examples in print, online, and social media of disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda directed at the United States and its allies and partners.
(3) To analyze tactics, techniques, and procedures of foreign government information warfare with respect to disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda.
(4) To support efforts by the Center to counter efforts by foreign governments to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability of the United States and United States allies and partners.
(b) Funding availability and limitations .'--All organizations that apply to receive funds under this section must undergo a vetting process in accordance with the relevant existing regulations to ensure their bona fides, capability, and experience, and their compatibility with United States interests and objectives.
SEC. 4. Inclusion in Department of State education and cultural exchange programs of foreign students and community leaders from countries and populations susceptible to foreign manipulation .
The President shall ensure that when the Secretary of State is selecting participants for United States educational and cultural exchange programs, the Secretary of State gives special consideration to students and community leaders from populations and countries the Secretary deems vulnerable to foreign propaganda and disinformation campaigns.
SEC. 5. Reports .
(a) In general .'--Not later than one year after the establishment of the Center, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report evaluating the success of the Center in fulfilling the purposes for which it was authorized and outlining steps to improve any areas of deficiency.
(b) Appropriate congressional committees defined .'--In this section, the term ''appropriate congressional committees'' means'--
(1) the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and
(2) the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Homeland Security, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.
SEC. 6. Termination of center and steering committee .
The Center for Information Analysis and Response and the interagency team established under section 2(c) shall terminate 15 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.
SEC. 7. Rule of construction regarding relationship to intelligence authorities and activities .
Nothing in this Act shall be construed as superseding or modifying any existing authorities governing the collection, sharing, and implementation of intelligence programs and activities or existing regulations governing the sharing of classified information and programs.
The Center For Information Analysis and Response | Helena
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 13:30
It is sometimes so obvious, and yet it alludes time and again '' Follow The Money!
In 2016, two Senators, Rob Portman and Chris Murphy introduced a bill that was signed into law by Obama buried within the National Defense Authorization Act, which gave the US government the authority to regulate the Media and Social Information through a newly formed agency called, The Center For Information Analysis and Response. They were given a budget and tasked with distributing that money through grants to NGO's, think tanks and other experts outside the government who are engaged in propaganda related work!
OUCH! Gee, who might those outside agents be, I wonder?
One of the NGO's specifically stated in the Bill that will work directly with the Center is the European Endowment For Democracy. According to their website they fund youth programs, new media platforms, and political debate in Serbia, Ukraine, Syria, Lebanon, and Macedonia. The EED works in conjunction with various 'social democrat' EU organizations to promote a cohesive ideology of liberalism.
One alternative media outlet that the US is funding through this bill and through the support of EED is Coda Story. Billed as a 'non-news' media platform and headed by Andy Pryce of the UK's Foreign Office, this 'independent Russian media organization', promotes stories in which Trump is villainized as misleading the public and as being in collusion with Putin via the Trump Dossier. It discusses the plight of immigrants, and claims to analyze the disinformation Campaign promulgated by the US. Andy Pryce is currently a permanent representative of the OECD.
In other words, a US agency funded by the taxpayers for the US government, is funding Disinformation Media Organizations in the EU that promote anti-Trump and anti-US dialogue.
According to Section 3 paragraph (b) item (3): ''Developing and disseminating fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at United States allies and partners.'' is one of the functions of the Center For Information Analysis and Response'... The truth would appear to be quite different!
In addition, this Bill gave the US Broadcasting Board of Governors more power to ''expose and counter foreign information operations directed at the United States national security interests and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests.''
That's legal mumbo for '' power to completely print US media propaganda. It is also worthy to note that the Broadcasting Board was previously overseen by a Board of nine Governors until 2015 when Obama eliminated the Board and gave full power one man, the Obama nominated CEO, John F. Lansing, who presides today.
Another organization funded by the Center is the European External Action Service which is a collaborative effort between the EU and NATO for infrastructure rebuilding, blocking power against US sanctions against Iran, and EU Nationalism. The US is funding this EU tool.
The Center shall work within conjunction of a Steering Committee comprised of one member from; Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Di- rector of National Intelligence, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, as well as the Secretary of State '' Mike Pompeo.
I imagine, those agency members could be considered a part of The Swamp.
Compensation and Pay for the Director and other employees will be fixed by the Chairman without restrictions as related to Chapter 51 and Subchapter III of Chapter 53 of Title 5 of the US Code relating to pay rates'... In other words, normal pay channels are bypassed and enlarged payments can be instituted at will.
The Bill stipulates that all NGO's and organizations seeking grants and funding from The Center must undergo a thorough vetting process to assure their organization promotes the interests and objectives of the US! As in '' anti-Trump!
Funding for The Center was initially stipulated at $160million over a two year period with a ten year point of time when the Steering Committee would functionally close. That would indicate that at minimum, $80million per year is being pumped into anti-Trump, anti-conservative, propaganda outlets across the world annually.
It is also worthy to note that through the Bill's organization of The Center, Facebook, Google, Twitter and liberal social media platforms were thus able to legally quash conservative blogs and censor information that was not in line with the propaganda of the Hillary/Obama/Rothschild/Soros cabal of Media Control. And it still is a functioning source today paid for by you and I.
Exactly how is this possible'...
Problems with the Consumer Price Index - Chapwood Index - The Real Cost of Living Increase Index Vs Consumer Price Index
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 14:34
Many unassuming Americans rely heavily upon the flawed Consumer Price Index (CPI); most don't even realize that they do. This reliance has unfortunately resulted in irreversible long-term repercussions.The rate at which prices increase has a profound effect on all of us, but mostly on middle and low income America.
While the CPI was originally a measure to evaluate a pre-defined, consistently weighted basket of goods, over time, the basket of goods grew to an unreasonable 80,000+ items, muting dramatic price changes in common goods and services.
By adding too many layers of complexity and algorithms you lose the organic, real results in a muddled mix of diluted data.
Perhaps more dangerous have been the changes in the way the CPI is calculated and consistent manipulated to keep government expenditures down and mislead the public with misinformation.
Ongoing Modification of the CPI and the Unfortunate ConsequencesIn 1983, the government CPI rose roughly 12% and the government modified the CPI calculation to save money. In order to save money on salary increases and entitlement benefits, which are tied to CPI, the government changed their calculation of the CPI to reflect a much lower number.The statistic underwent another reconfiguration in 1995/96 with the Boskin Commission. These changes made the CPI an even worse indication of the real cost of living increase.
It is estimated that between 1996 and 2006, this reconfiguration of the CPI saved the US government over $680 billion.
Since then, the government has been artificially deflating the CPI to keep figures as low as possible. The readings you see published today no longer represent the real out of pocket expenditures incurred by most Americans.
The government's baseline CPI measure excludes items such as taxes, energy, and food; which are not only necessities, but also often a majority of our daily expenditures.
The CPI increase from 2008-2012 was a total of 10.2%, but our research has found that for many cities, the cost of living increase was more than that in 2012 alone. The increase was slightly more in 2013.
As an unintended conclusion, we realized that people were relying on the CPI as a benchmark to beat in order to keep up with their costs of living. In reality, if people were keeping up with CPI, they really were falling behind because the government index isn't appropriately reflecting their cost of living increase. This is the negative result of the 30 years of CPI manipulation by the government in an effort to keep government entitlement increases to a minimum.
The Chapwood Index is our attempt to help people understand why they feel like they aren't keeping up and why, as they get older, they feel as though their money does not go as far '' even when they're following the rules, working hard and supposedly beating inflation.
Start planning smarter.
Learn more about how we computed the Chapwood Index and how using the Chapwood Index can help you better plan for your future.
VIDEO - FUREY: Be wary of Liberal plan to police 'fake news' during the election | Toronto Sun
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 15:42
Try to come up with a working definition of ''fake news'' in a few seconds, something that would fit into a sentence or two.
It's not as easy as it sounds, despite the endless chatter about the phrase. And you'll be even harder pressed to come up with a definition that'll be acceptable to a large number of people.
Ask 10 people for a definition and you're bound to get 10 different answers.
Yet somehow the federal government thinks it has a firm handle on the issue. Enough so that on Wednesday morning several Liberal cabinet ministers convened a press conference to announce what they're doing to do combat ''fake news,'' disinformation and foreign interference in the upcoming federal election.
The plan includes $7 million to fund workshops that aim to teach Canadians how to sort through potential disinformation as well as ''critically assess online news reporting and editorials.''
This is a dangerous path to head down, to put it mildly. The very notion of the party in power coming up with the framework for how to police information during a campaign in which they'll be seeking re-election is already a massive conflict of interest.
That's not the end of it, though. The feds also unveiled something called the ''critical election incident public protocol.'' If the government becomes aware of an ''interference attempt'' during the election, a panel of senior bureaucrats will be convened to figure out whether it's serious or not '-- ''a substantial threat to a free and fair election'' '-- and, if so, a press conference is held to inform the public.
What shape is this going to take? What if hundreds of nameless social media accounts originating from Russia or China start sharing a story that makes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau look bad? Is that interference? Likely. If the story is completely bogus, certainly yes.
Then the question becomes, should the feds call on social media outlets to shut down these accounts? And should they then hold a press conference to inform the public to be wary of it all?
Maybe, but the optics of it are difficult '-- government resources being used in the middle of a campaign for what basically amounts to shooting down a negative story about the PM. Shouldn't it just be up to the public and other media to swat away the fake news?
Here's a harder example. What if the story shared by the bots is an accurate story published by, say, the Canadian Press? The bots are sharing it to make the PM look bad, but it's not fake news. Maybe because of the foreign bots sharing the story so widely a handful of Canadians who were otherwise going to vote Liberal changed their mind. Foreign actors swayed votes. Is that disinformation? Should it be shut down? Should there be a press conference to warn people that an otherwise aboveboard story has fans in the Kremlin?
These questions matter. There have been a whole lot of think-tank reports and academic papers written about fake news and they all tend to talk in generalities. But there are no generalities to ''fake news.'' The only way to tell what's fake and what's not is to dig deep into the details.
This is what federal officials and this newfangled incident response panel will be tasked with getting right. Good luck with that.
You can bet that when a press conference is held, it will only make matters worse. It'll create a cascading reaction where everyone debates whether what's brought up is actually true disinformation. People will question the government's motives. This will create confusion and subsequent news stories more fake than the first one.
The feds have also released a condescending graphic they're planning to send around that tells people ''think critically about what you see online.'' ''Why am I seeing this information?'' it reads. ''Is this message trying to influence me?''
Canadians should also think critically about this whole government plan.
VIDEO - Feds unveil plan to safeguard 2019 election from foreign meddling, disinformation | CTV News
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 15:23
OTTAWA -- The federal government has unveiled a series of new measures aimed at further shoring up Canada's electoral system from foreign interference, and enhancing Canada's readiness to defend the democratic process from cyber threats and disinformation.
One key measure is a new plan to inform Canadians about serious meddling attempts during the campaign in an impartial way. The objective is to have a plan to inform people if needed, without being seen to be interfering in the campaign.
Sign up for our Capital Dispatch newsletter, for all the latest politics newsThis will be done through what's being called a "Critical Election Incident Public Protocol" that will be overseen by five senior level non-political government officials. During campaigns the government runs in a ''caretaker mode'' where decision making is limited and why this plan is being set in advance.
The members of this new high-level group will be responsible for deciding when, and how they decide to inform Canadians about concerning online behaviour or content that comes to their attention. It is comprised of the Clerk of the Privy Council, Canada's National Security Adviser, and the deputy ministers of the Justice, Public Safety, and Global Affairs departments.
Should an instance of foreign meddling or another interference attempt arise, it will need to meet the threshold of being serious and "disruptive" enough'--even if on a micro scale, perhaps in a single riding'--to have an impact on Canada's ability to hold a free and fair election before this group takes further steps.
If it is a serious enough case, the group will inform: the prime minister; all registered political parties; and the public about the threat and steps they may need to take, through a press conference.
Responding to the announcement, NDP democratic reform critic Nathan Cullen criticized that Elections Canada's Chief Electoral Officer is not a part of this team.
"The one person who is hired by Parliament not by the sitting government, as is the case of everybody else on that protocol committee because there can be no whiff of any hint of partisanship or decision making in the release of such volatile information," Cullen said.
The overall plan is four-pronged, and was announced by Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. The next federal election just nine months away.
A senior official speaking with reporters on background prior to the ministers' announcement said the "sweeping series" of new measures are the result of "unprecedented" collaboration between Canada's national and cyber security bodies, intelligence agencies, and federal departments including Global Affairs Canada.
Citing examples including the Trump election, the disinformation that flooded the Brexit referendum, as well as the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data scandal, both Canadian and international intelligence services have warned that Canada is not immune to some form of cyber interference happening, and that the 2019 federal campaign will be playing out in a new threat environment.
According to Goodale, a fifth of the tweets in the last month of the U.S. election were generated by bots. "This wasn't citizens intensely engaged in the democratic process, instead it was contrived and electronically generated meddling intended to pervert the conversation," he said.
Goodale said that foreign countries working to sculpt public opinion in their domestic interest is not new, and is not wrong, as long as it's done lawfully, openly, and accurately. Though, he says, a "bright red line gets crossed" when that effort to influence is done covertly or with the intention to destabilize or manipulate.
"Increasingly the interference is higher-tech'... Social media have been used to falsely slander elected officials, trolls and bots are dispatched to stoke anxiety even hysteria around sensitive issues. Fake news masquerades as legitimate information," Goodale told reporters on Wednesday.
"As we've seen these issues are of deep concern among G7 and Five Eyes partners," he said.
Improving intergovernmental, party readiness
In addition to the public alert protocol, the government announced the creation of a Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force (SITE), to prevent "covert, clandestine, or criminal" attempts to interfere in elections and respond to them.
It is comprised of intelligence officials from CSIS; RCMP; the Communications Security Establishment; and Global Affairs Canada.
These agencies will also be advising political parties about enhancing their security and offering classified threat briefings to senior party leadership to promote strengthened internal behaviour.
"This is not about refereeing the election," said Gould in response to questions about whether these measures will stifle some of the regular, rough and tumble partisan discourse that takes place during a campaign period.
''This is not about refereeing the election,'' said Gould in response to questions about whether these measures will stifle some of the regular, rough and tumble partisan discourse that takes place during a campaign period.
Though, the federal Conservatives were not sold. Democratic reform critic Stephanie Kusie said these measures do not go far enough.
"We did not see a detailed and credible plan, we saw a lot of buzzwords, a lot of platitudes that should leave Canadians concerned in regards to the safeguarding of the electoral process in 2019," she said.
Tackling foreign interference
The ministers highlighted that often, foreign interference is well-masked or hard to detect.
In an effort to keep a closer eye on international threats, the government is activating the "rapid response mechanism" at Global Affairs to identify, respond, and share information about threats.
The "rapid response mechanism" was a new initiative that Canada signed on to at the G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Que. It was part of a multi-pronged commitment on defending democracy from foreign threats.
This will include monitoring foreign social media activity to look at trends and identify where Canada might be vulnerable.
The unit overseeing this exists within Global Affairs Canada, and will include producing regular reports on the threat patterns and trends they are observing.
Calling on social media platforms to do more
As part of this plan, the governing Liberals are calling on social media platforms to do more. On Wednesday the ministers restated their expectation that social media platforms will crack down on disinformation and enhance their transparency.
Gould is in the process of talking to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter about their role in Canadian elections, and she is asking them to commit to apply specific measures that they have enacted in other countries, such as Twitter's ad transparency centre.
Though, this expectation is not among the newly legislated requirements for these platforms, so it remains unclear how these networks will be compelled to step up should they not be included to do so proactively.
Cullen was critical of there not being further measures to compel social media companies to comply, saying his experience in studying the Cambridge Analytica scandal as part of the House Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee, is that Twitter and Facebook have been hesitant to make changes.
Educating citizen-literacy on fake news
Lastly the government is launching a new campaign for citizen-literacy about misinformation online. This will encourage Canadians to read a diversity of sources, think before they share information online, ask them to think critically about what they see, question if messages are trying to influence them and encourage them to rely on trusted sources for news.
As part of this effort the government is spending $7 million on "digital, news, and civic literacy programming."
"Our democracy is strongest when all our citizens can vote without the threat of interference," said Sajjan.
Steps taken, more coming
These measures are in addition to ongoing efforts to secure Canada's electoral system, such as: passing Bill C-76, which imposes new limits and penalties related to spending and foreign participation; working with Elections Canada to prevent voting infrastructure from being hacked; and, collaborating with social media companies on plans to combat fake news and disinformation from interfering with public opinion during the campaign.
Bill C-76 also gave Canada's Elections Commissioner new powers to conduct investigations into election interference, and compels social media platforms to create databases of their advertising during the campaign.
The Communications Security Establishment will also be publishing an update to its report on cyber threats to Canada's democratic process '-- including threats to political parties, politicians, and media '-- in the coming months.
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VIDEO - Here's What Donald Trump Has Said About Nuclear Weapons | Time
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 13:36
Donald Trump's campaign on Wednesday denied a report that said the Republican presidential nominee had repeatedly asked an international foreign policy expert why the U.S. couldn't use nuclear weapons.
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough claimed that the expert, who he did not name, advised the real estate mogul earlier this year during an hour-long briefing in which Trump had allegedly asked about using nuclear weapons three times, Scarborough said on Morning Joe.
Trump's campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement to TIME that there was ''no truth'' to the report.
Trump has spoken publicly about his thoughts on nuclear weapons in other interviews, saying they should be the ''absolute last step'' and calling proliferation a serious problem, while also noting he would ''never, ever'' rule out using them and suggesting that some other countries might need to a develop nuclear arsenal.
The Brief NewsletterSign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now.
View SampleHere's what Trump has said during the five times he has talked about nuclear weapons during the campaign so far:
''Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation'' Trump said nuclear capability was the ''single biggest problem'' facing the world in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times in March. Asked whether the U.S. should be the first to launch a nuke during a confrontation with an enemy, Trump said that should be the ''absolute last step.'' ''Power of weaponry today is beyond anything ever thought of, or even, you know, it's unthinkable, the power,'' he said. ''It's a very scary nuclear world,'' he added. ''Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation.''
''I don't want to rule out anything'' Trump reiterated the fact that he would be the ''last to use nuclear weapons'' during an April interview with NBC's Today show. But he said the option is still on the table. ''I don't want to rule out anything,'' he said. ''I will be the last to use nuclear weapons. It's a horror to use nuclear weapons.'' ''I will not be a happy trigger like some people might be,'' he added. ''But I will never, ever rule it out.''
''We have nuclear arsenals which are in very terrible shape'' In the same New York Times interview in March, Trump indicated that Japan and South Korea might need to obtain their own nuclear arsenal to protect themselves from North Korea and China if the U.S. is unable to defend them. ''It's a position that we have to talk about,'' he said. ''If the United States keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they're going to want to have that anyway with or without me discussing it, because I don't think they feel very secure in what's going on with our country.''
''At some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world. And unfortunately, we have a nuclear world now,'' he later added.
Trump also said Japan and Korea might need to pay more for their own defense. ''You know, when we did these deals, we were a rich country. We're not a rich country. We were a rich country with a very strong military and tremendous capability in so many ways. We're not anymore,'' he told the newspaper. ''We have a military that's severely depleted. We have nuclear arsenals which are in very terrible shape. They don't even know if they work.''
''Maybe it's going to have to be time to change'' Trump discussed his stance further with CNN in late March, saying the U.S. might need to change its decades-old policy of preventing Japan from getting a nuclear weapon. ''Can I be honest are you? Maybe it's going to have to be time to change, because so many people, you have Pakistan has it, you have China has it. You have so many other countries are now having it,'' Trump told CNN's Anderson Cooper. Trump later appeared to contradict himself, saying he doesn't ''want more nuclear weapons.''
''I will have a military that's so strong and powerful, and so respected, we're not gonna have to nuke anybody'' Trump ''wouldn't be nuking anybody'' because he wouldn't need to, given America's defense force, he said in an interview with GQ magazine last November. ''I will have a military that's so strong and powerful, and so respected, we're not gonna have to nuke anybody,'' he said, adding that he would be ''amazingly calm under pressure.'' Still, Trump told the magazine he wouldn't get rid of the nuclear weapons because ''other people have them'' and are ''unfortunately gaining more and more.'' ''It is highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely that I would ever be using them,'' he added.
Contact us at editors@time.com.
VIDEO - OPUS 119 Arms Race US and China RAW - YouTube
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 16:20
VIDEO - EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Not Exactly A Tax Expert
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 15:59
Of the argument devices I have used with leftists is to offer the warfare state up for whatever they wanted welfare wise. I never found a single one that would that would take that deal. When they made their 'lets be like europe argument' I would find common ground and respond with 'a welfare state is better than a welfare & warfare state'. This would generally result in the topic being changed and at most some lukewarm agreement.Sure they may at times talk about how much is spent on the warfare state to argue that their newest welfare scheme doesn't cost all that much but to put them on the spot to take it from the warfare state or even offer support if they take the funds from the warfare state will get them to shut up and avoid further discussion.
So I wouldn't expect anything by offering it to AOC.
VIDEO - Secretary Pompeo Delivers Remarks to the Press - YouTube
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 15:51
VIDEO - NEW Gillette Ad (Parody) - YouTube
Sat, 02 Feb 2019 15:02
VIDEO - Nicholas Fondacaro on Twitter: "Tonight, @CNN's @ChrisCuomo argues in favor of banning #MAGA hat wearers from public places. @donlemon justifies applying prejudices to those in the hats.'... https://t.co/fNzLljnDDN"
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 14:06
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VIDEO - Clintons Had Dinner with George Clooney, Lin-Manuel Miranda | PEOPLE.com
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 12:06
Bill and Hillary Clinton, in Puerto Rico for hurricane recovery work, had dinner Monday with Lin-Manuel Miranda and George Clooney after seeing Hamilton
Lin-Manuel Miranda on Sunday gave his final bow for a special production of Hamilton in Puerto Rico '-- and Bill and Hillary Clinton were in the audience after traveling to the island this week to support their foundation's hurricane recovery work.
The next night, a source tells PEOPLE, the trio headed to dinner at San Juan's Cocina Abierta where they were joined by George Clooney, chef Jos(C) Andr(C)s and Miranda's father, Luis, along with Clinton Foundation supporters.
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''Conversation ranged from philanthropy and current events to family and food '-- and of course Hamilton,'' says the source, who also attended. ''Guests were enthusiastic and in a great mood.''
The Clintons are in Puerto Rico as their foundation's Clinton Global Initiative launches 30 new efforts amid a broader push to help rebuild and revitalize the territory, whose infrastructure was pummeled by the deadly Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
Miranda, the creator and star of Hamilton, said last year he would travel with a temporary production of the Broadway musical to Puerto Rico, where his family is from. Profits went to support arts education. Hamilton began playing in San Juan on Jan. 11 and closed Sunday.
Hillary, ''a huge fan'' who has seen the show multiple times already, was thrilled to do so again, according to the source. At the show Sunday, she said, ''It took my breath away again. It's such a remarkable feat.''
According to the source, at the Clintons' dinner Monday with Clooney, Andr(C)s and Miranda, ''She was in full fan mode asking Lin a lot of questions about the creative process.''
''Clooney and Miranda discussed their own philanthropic efforts and projects to help Puerto Rico recover,'' the source says.
Bill and Hillary Clinton (center) meeting with the cast of Hamilton in Puerto Rico on Sunday
Bill and Hillary Clinton talk with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda's father, Luis (left), on Sunday
There was time for lighter chatter as well, including ''happy baby talk about Clooney's twins and about Chelsea's announcement that she's pregnant with her third child.'' Afterward, Andr(C)s took some of the guests on a late-night walking tour of the city and a stop at an out-of-the-way salsa bar.
But the main purpose of the trip for the former president and his wife, a former secretary of state and New York senator, has been focusing on their foundation. Among the efforts is a model farm for Andr(C)s' World Central Kitchen and a nursery for reforesting the area.
On Sunday, 30,000 lbs. of medical supplies were airlifted in to be distributed among the island's rural communities.
The Clintons are also drawing attention to what they say is billions in relief funds being held up by the administration of President Donald Trump, though Congress has previously approved the spending. According to November news reports, the president told lawmakers he didn't want to send any more money to Puerto Rico as he believed it was allegedly ''mismanaged.''
Miranda has said that as people rally for the island, it's important to not forget the arts.
''It's a struggle to be an arts organization anywhere, particularly on an island that's been hurt by one of the worst hurricanes in history,'' he said in the fall. ''I believe art helps us survive. We can't wait for Puerto Rico to recover to then support the arts because there is no telling when that will be. We need to support the artists who are out there now. We need to have their backs.''
VIDEO - Kathy Tran on Twitter: "Over the last few days, you may have heard a lot of misinformation about my bill to help women make their own healthcare decisions in consultation with their doctors. Here are the facts, straight from me. #IStandWithWomen'
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 21:43
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VIDEO - Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: "I'm not even joking. I have so much work to do and I can't stop watching this. MSNBC often removes its most embarrassing debacles from the internet. Someone please do that here so I can get to work https://t.co/sdNn20X
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 21:29
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VIDEO - Live at National Press Club: FCC chairman Tom Wheeler | MPR News
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 15:57
ListenMPR News Presents for June 20, 2016 54min Federal Communications Commission Mark Wilson | Getty ImagesThe head of the Federal Communications Commission Tom Wheeler talks about next generation wireless, cable competition, net neutrality, the future of broadcasting, and other mysteries of our rapidly changing communication technologies.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks June 20, 2016 at the National Press Club in Washington.


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All Clips

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  • 0:00
    I hate Super Bowl analysis Adam curry
  • 0:10
    this is no agenda morning everybody
  • 0:22
    curry and from northern Silicon Valley
  • 0:25
    where the birds are dropping out of the
  • 0:26
    sky but not here I'm Chelsea Devorah
  • 0:30
  • 0:33
    please don't tell me you're gonna start
  • 0:35
    off with a hoax oh the dead birds in my
  • 0:39
    hey we got now we got to play it so I
  • 0:42
    can detox you hundreds of birds have
  • 0:44
    fallen from the sky in The Hague the
  • 0:46
    Netherlands during a 5g experiment to
  • 0:49
    see how large the range was and whether
  • 0:51
    the new wireless technology and what the
  • 0:54
    fine outfit was broadcasting this piece
  • 0:56
    that you thought wow this this has got
  • 0:58
    to be true this sounds like a real
  • 1:00
    mainstream outfit here to you on the
  • 1:05
    podcast report would cause any harm in
  • 1:08
    the local area news of the adverse
  • 1:11
    effects suffered by these starlings was
  • 1:13
    slow to break as initially I think this
  • 1:16
    is the same report they had for the
  • 1:18
    windmills I just added 5g you know like
  • 1:23
    you know when I was over there I visited
  • 1:26
    some of the major windmill farms this
  • 1:29
    huge windows there's no dead anything
  • 1:31
    around those things no you think to be a
  • 1:33
    feather you think there's a feather some
  • 1:35
    bird food now there were dead birds in
  • 1:38
    the park in the in the Hague but it
  • 1:42
    seems like there were some poisoning of
  • 1:43
    the birds that's why they they forbid
  • 1:45
    people from taking their dogs in for a
  • 1:47
    while hey the way I looked at it with it
  • 1:49
    at the beginning discussing dead
  • 1:52
    starlings I was all in need more dead
  • 1:58
    starlings we got em up in Washington
  • 2:00
  • 2:00
    hey can you can you just imagine if
  • 2:02
    maybe maybe maybe this 5g can Electrify
  • 2:06
    and nuke the grackle problem we have in
  • 2:08
    Austin now that would be a benefit
  • 2:12
    birds there they are creepy they have
  • 2:16
    their own Yelp page they do yes does
  • 2:21
    anyone have do you have a recording of
  • 2:23
    them cuz they make a funny sound
  • 2:25
    I can make one I'll make one as we're
  • 2:27
    walking by on 2nd Street and they're all
  • 2:29
    in the and the load that little zoom go
  • 2:33
    that'll sound great instead he'll pick
  • 2:35
    him up like a champ
  • 2:36
    now there's plenty of problems with with
  • 2:39
    5g funny problems with 5g I don't think
  • 2:42
    the birds got nuked by this experiment
  • 2:45
    at all we had one of our producers in is
  • 2:48
    in Canada and I guess was it Canada now
  • 2:51
    I gotta think yeah yeah I think he's on
  • 2:54
    Rogers and say he has one of those
  • 2:57
    phones that says 5g yeah and and so he
  • 3:01
    did a speed test
  • 3:02
    they speedtest.net I think in in town
  • 3:06
    and it was like you know half a megabit
  • 3:08
    per second went up to his home an hour
  • 3:10
    outside of the city on 4G you know 60
  • 3:12
    megabits per second and stuff is not
  • 3:14
    quite so it's working faster on 4G of
  • 3:18
    course I mean the 5g stuff well we'll
  • 3:21
    see it's nonsense there's no way they're
  • 3:23
    gonna get fight with us there Brian
  • 3:24
    about 5 megabits per second it only
  • 3:27
    takes seconds to download a movie well
  • 3:30
    hold on a second now this is the wrong
  • 3:33
    eye I just got to say it since you when
  • 3:34
    you bring this up my experience
  • 3:38
    throughout the internet and I go a ways
  • 3:40
    back but also from the providing access
  • 3:44
    either to client servers or otherwise
  • 3:47
    and it's not of so much about speed
  • 3:51
    that's the consumer myth that's been
  • 3:53
    sold to you like oh it's 5g it'll be
  • 3:54
    even faster it's about the throughput
  • 3:57
    and I have seen throughout my career
  • 3:59
    consistently for anything for any though
  • 4:02
    of course I did big websites for you
  • 4:06
    know for Reebok and Continental Airlines
  • 4:09
    and Budweiser but even when we were
  • 4:12
    doing pod show slash me vo slash
  • 4:14
    whatever the hell it became the fatter
  • 4:17
    the pipe the more bandwidth not speed
  • 4:19
    the more bandwidth the more media is
  • 4:23
    consumed and it's an this is something
  • 4:25
  • 4:25
    important to understand with this 5g
  • 4:27
    rollout so if you're selling if it does
  • 4:29
    say you're selling ads and on whatever
  • 4:32
    pipe you have it could be a huge pipe
  • 4:34
    you make it bigger it is just the law
  • 4:37
    it's the natural law of physics
  • 4:39
    you get more accesses and therefore can
  • 4:41
    technically sell more ads it's just a
  • 4:43
  • 4:47
    okay so that would be a main reason for
  • 4:51
    these idiots to try and you know push
  • 4:53
    this forward I agree with you I don't
  • 4:57
    think it's all that great in this health
  • 4:58
    concerns of course and you know what
  • 5:01
    it's really coming down to now is hey
  • 5:04
  • 5:04
    don't use Huawei including Germany as of
  • 5:08
    this week as the US has asked German
  • 5:14
    providers to get rid of their wild
  • 5:16
    Huawei equipment for 5g which there is
  • 5:19
    some reluctance towards take the gear
  • 5:26
    back exactly very expensive but here's
  • 5:29
    the thing I don't think the market
  • 5:30
    really believes that I'm looking at the
  • 5:31
  • 5:32
    I guess Nokia would be that no clear
  • 5:34
    error about Nokia Ericsson they both
  • 5:36
    have their trials their stock is dead in
  • 5:39
    the water it's not really moving
  • 5:40
    anywhere it's not like people are going
  • 5:41
    home Huawei is out it's gonna be these
  • 5:44
    guys I don't see it so I don't know what
  • 5:47
    this noise is about
  • 5:47
    or what kind of guarantees we're going
  • 5:50
    to get or if it even matters well if it
  • 5:54
    even matters if the deal so that somehow
  • 5:56
    the Chinese will be able to shut down
  • 5:58
    yeah the Huawei routers with all of that
  • 6:00
    stuff nice did you not learn in
  • 6:06
    podcasting school to hit your mute
  • 6:08
    button when you saw but if someone send
  • 6:11
    me one I'd use okay let's go back to the
  • 6:15
    Huawei thing I'm the next phone I'm
  • 6:18
    getting is a wall way well that doesn't
  • 6:20
    sound like a very smart idea by me have
  • 6:25
    you not seen Kingsman - i would be
  • 6:29
    careful no nice phone I've looked at and
  • 6:34
    they're pretty they got all kinds of why
  • 6:36
    why when you you do a show with me twice
  • 6:39
    a week why would you want any kind of
  • 6:41
    smart anything in your hands why do you
  • 6:44
    want a phone at all
  • 6:47
    well it's outside yourselves gonna use
  • 6:49
    it oh just to look at it to see how