1128: Tactile Nuke

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 46m
April 11th, 2019
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Executive Producers: Sir Cal, of Lavender Blossoms, Sir Patrick Coble, Sir Veilled in FEMA REGION IV

Associate Executive Producers: Rob Romeo, William Kotter, Anonymous in Spuzzum, Christopher Charabaruk

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
2:07
Julian Assange Arrested in London After Ecuador Withdraws Asylum
Woodstock
9:15
Attorney General William Barr Suggests Intelligence Services Spied on Trump's Presidential Campaign
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19:21
Waymo Correction
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22:16
Obama Visits Berlin Without Wearing His Wedding Ring
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23:44
EU Agrees to Delay Brexit for 6 Months
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28:53
Attorney General William Barr Suggests Intelligence Services Spied on Trump's Presidential Campaign
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37:00
Morton Klein
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39:12
Eileen Hershenov on the Rise of White Nationalism
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42:22
Untitled
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44:26
Candace Owens Defends Hitler Comments
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52:58
UK Publishes White Paper with Proposals to Hold Social Media Companies Accountable
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1:02:34
Texas' Free to Believe Act
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1:04:47
Credits
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1:21:31
Producer Note: Facts Cut From Detriot Auto Show Rubella Report
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1:28:45
New York City Declares Measles Outbreak a Public Health Emergency
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1:31:59
Code-Switching
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1:38:33
Modern Monetary Theory
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1:42:39
Solar Geoengineering To Reduce Temperatures
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1:46:06
Intellectual Brilliant Jewish Teenager on Anti-Semitism
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1:54:24
The Angelic Initiative
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1:55:52
Facebook Announces Changes To Combat Misinformation in the News Feed
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2:00:34
Donations
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2:06:23
Birthdays & Title Changes
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2:08:54
Meetups
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2:10:46
No Agenda Player
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2:12:13
AC's Subscription to AMAC Magazine
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2:12:55
Rising Insulin Prices
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2:15:43
Medical Procedure Pricing
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2:18:58
Heavy Snow Storms in South Dakota
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2:20:57
C-Span Caller Calls Trump a Crook
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2:22:35
Finland
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2:23:36
Workplace Violence
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2:25:15
Job Interview Skills
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2:27:37
2020 Democrate Presidential Candidate Kirsten Gillibrand Speaks Out Against Tactile Nuclear Weapons
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2:29:02
Signing Ceremony Flub by Nancy Pelosi
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2:30:47
Steve Cohen Credits Trump Rotation to Mollie Hemingway
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2:33:25
Brussels Stops 5G Testing For Fear of Radiation Exposure
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2:33:50
5G Raises Health Concerns in Moraga, California
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2:36:57
Untitled
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2:37:56
Chinese 5G Network Uses 2.6GHz Spectrum
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2:39:34
End of Show
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Suggest a new chapter
Brexit
The Jingle
“First there was Sir Vics of the Hot Southern
Bush with his jingle "Fake News". Then there was Sir Timothy of No
Fixed Title with his jingle "You Never Give Me Your Brexit”.
Now these two peers of the No Agenda Round Table have joined forces as the
Local 1 Choir to produce the latest single on the Local 1 Label, “Come and
Brexit” ! ! !
Build the Wall
Crossings from Producer
Dear John and Adam,
As a producer that crosses the border every week, I have
some standing in this area.
The southern border is has three tiers of entry for
non-commercial traffic:
1. SENTRI (Pronounced sentry) Lane for those who complete a
background check, interview, give fingerprints, prove income, and pay $125 for
a five year card.
2. Ready Lane for anyone with a RFID enabled travel
document.
3. General Lane for the rest of the slaves.
This system applies to both vehicular and foot crossings. I
dont cross during peak hours, but my experiences with foot crossings are
between 30 minutes and 6 hours for general lane, between 2 minutes and 15
minutes for SENTRI Lane. For vehicular crossings, it is typically 2-5 hours for
general lane, 10-45 minutes for SENTRI.
If you do not have a SENTRI card, I highly recommend you
cross close to or after midnight. That will be the fastest crossing and can be
as little as 30 minutes in a car.
Fun fact, if you drive into Mexico at the San Ysidro Port of
Entry (San Diego's Main Crossing) there is about a 1% chance you be sent to
inspection and have your passport/visa checked. If you dont get a red-light,
you never even show a passport as you drive through. The Mexican government
mostly doesnt care about people coming in from the north.
Any Collusion?
Ukrainian to US prosecutors: Why don't you want our evidence on Democrats? | TheHill
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 19:29
Ukrainian law enforcement officials believe they have evidence of wrongdoing by American Democrats and their allies in Kiev, ranging from 2016 election interference to obstructing criminal probes. But, they say, they've been thwarted in trying to get the Trump Justice Department to act.
Kostiantyn Kulyk, deputy head of the Prosecutor General's International Legal Cooperation Department, told me he and other senior law enforcement officials tried unsuccessfully since last year to get visas from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev to deliver their evidence to Washington.
''We were supposed to share this information during a working trip to the United States,'' Kulyk told me in a wide-ranging interview. ''However, the [U.S.] ambassador blocked us from obtaining a visa. She didn't explicitly deny our visa, but also didn't give it to us.''
One focus of Ukrainian investigators, Kulyk said, has been money spirited unlawfully out of Ukraine and moved to the United States by businessmen friendly to the prior, pro-Russia regime of Viktor Yanukovych.
Ukrainian businessmen ''authorized payments for lobbying efforts directed at the U.S. government,'' he told me. ''In addition, these payments were made from funds that were acquired during the money-laundering operation. We have information that a U.S. company was involved in these payments.'' That company is tied to one or more prominent Democrats, Ukrainian officials insist.
In another instance, he said, Ukrainian authorities gathered evidence that money paid to an American Democrat allegedly was hidden by Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) during the 2016 election under pressure from U.S. officials. ''In the course of this investigation, we found that there was a situation during which influence was exerted on the NABU, so that the name of [the American] would not be mentioned,'' he said.
Ukraine is infamous for corruption and disinformation operations; its police agencies fight over what is considered evidence of wrongdoing. Kulyk and his bosses even have political fights over who should and shouldn't be prosecuted. Consequently, allegations emanating from Kiev usually are taken with a grain a salt.
But many of the allegations shared with me by more than a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials are supported by evidence that emerged in recent U.S. court filings and intelligence reports. The Ukrainians told me their evidence includes:
Ukrainian officials say they don't want to hand the evidence to FBI agents working in Ukraine because they believe the bureau has a close relationship with the NABU and the U.S. Embassy. ''It is no secret in Ukrainian political circles that the NABU was created with American help and tried to exert influence during the U.S. presidential election,'' Kulyk told me.
Kulyk's boss, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, told me he has enough evidence '-- particularly involving Biden, his family and money spirited out of Ukraine '-- to warrant a meeting with U.S. Attorney General William Barr William Pelham BarrThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump looks to get tougher on border with Nielsen out Top Republican calls on Nadler to have Mueller testify The Hill's Morning Report - Trump cleaning house on border security MORE . ''I'm looking forward to meeting with the attorney general of the United States in order to start and facilitate our joint investigation regarding the appropriation of another $7 billion in U.S. dollars with Ukrainian legal origin,'' Lutsenko said.
I wrote last week that Biden, in 2016, pressured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Ukraine's top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma.
Kulyk confirmed Ukraine is investigating that alleged incident: ''We have evidence and witnesses stating that Joe Biden applied pressure on Ukrainian law enforcement to stop the investigation.''
Ukrainians officials have gone public in recent days with their frustrations after months of trying to deliver the evidence quietly to the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) fizzled. Unable to secure visas from the U.S. Embassy, some Ukrainian law enforcement officials sought backdoor channels, Kulyk said.
One of those avenues involved reaching out last fall to a former federal prosecutor from the George W. Bush years, according to interviews. He delivered a written summary of some of the Ukrainian allegations to the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan, along with an offer to connect U.S. investigators with individuals purporting to have the evidence. There was no response or follow-up, according to multiple people directly familiar with the effort.
More recently, President Trump Donald John TrumpSanders set for five-state Midwestern swing Tax refunds through March down billion from last year Tariffs on 'Mexican cars' are just taxes on American consumers MORE 's private attorney Rudy Giuliani '-- former mayor and former U.S. attorney in New York City '-- learned about some of the allegations while, on behalf of the Trump legal team, he looked into Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election.
Since then, Lutsenko and others have talked with other American lawyers about helping to file U.S. legal action to recover money they believe was wrongly taken from their country.
''It's like no one at DOJ is listening. There is some compelling evidence that should at least be looked at, evaluated, but the door seems shut at both State and Justice,'' said an American who has been contacted for help and briefed on the evidence.
State Department officials declined to address whether they denied or slow-walked visas for Ukrainian officials. ''Visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases,'' a department spokesperson said.
Ukraine's evidence, if true, would mark the first documented allegation of Democrats receiving assistance from a foreign power in their efforts to help Clinton win the 2016 election.
''It looks like there is some evidence emerging that there could have been a proxy war between Russia and Ukraine to secure their preferred American president during the 2016 race,'' said a former top intelligence official who now advises the Trump administration on intelligence policy.
There is public-source information, in Ukraine and in the United States, that gives credence to some of what Ukrainian prosecutors allege.
A court in Ukraine formally concluded that law enforcement officials there illegally tried to intervene in the 2016 U.S. election by leaking documents of Manafort's business dealings after he was named Trump's campaign chairman. And a Ukrainian parliamentarian released a purported tape recording of a top Ukrainian law enforcement official bragging that he was responsible for the leak and was trying to help Clinton win.
Lutsenko told Hill.TV in an interview aired last week that he has opened a criminal investigation into those allegations.
Nellie Ohr, wife of a senior Justice official and a researcher for the Fusion GPS opposition research firm, testified to Congress last year that some of Fusion GPS's research on Trump-Russia ties came from a Ukrainian parliamentarian. The Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump.
Although Ohr acknowledged the Ukrainian source, lawmakers did not press her to be more specific.
And Politico reported in 2017 on evidence of Ukraine's U.S. embassy helping the Clinton campaign to discredit Trump. ''A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia,'' the newspaper reported.
Separately, the conservative nonprofit Citizens United last month filed a lawsuit seeking to force the State Department to disclose all information it possesses about Hunter Biden and his business partners involved with Ukraine-based Burisma Holdings.
If Ukrainian prosecutors can augment their allegations with real evidence, there could be a true case of collusion worth investigating.
The only question is why the U.S. government so far hasn't taken interest '-- and whether Attorney General Barr will change that.
John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists' misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill.
Judicial Watch Uncovers FBI Docs Discussing 'Cover-Up' Over Hillary Clinton's Server
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 23:32
Platte River Networks used Bleachbit to erase her Congressionally subpoenaed emailsHundreds of pages of FBI documents obtained by government watchdog Judicial Watch reveal discussions of a ''cover-up'' related to Hillary Clinton's private email server.
The 422 pages of documents show an employee of Platte River Networks, the telecom company who managed Clinton's email system, confirming to the FBI the existence of an email entitled, ''Hillary cover up operation work ticket archive cleanup,'' which he said was ''probably related to change to 60 day [sic] email retention policy/backup.''
From Judicial Watch:
FBI notes of an interview with an unidentified Platte River Networks official in February 2016 (almost a year after the Clinton email network was first revealed) show that Platte River ''gave someone access to live HRC archive mailbox at some point.'' The same notes show that an email from December 11, 2014, exists that reads ''Hillary cover up operation work ticket archive cleanup.''
The interviewee said that the ''cover up operation'' email ''probably related to change to 60 day [sic] email retention policy/backup.'' The subject indicated that he didn't ''recall the prior policy.'' The notes also indicated, ''[Redacted] advised [redacted] not to answer questions related to conv [conversation] w/DK [David Kendall] document 49 '' based on 5th amendment.''
The subject said that ''everyone @ PRN has access to client portal.''
A December 11, 2014, Platte River Networks email between redacted parties says: ''Its [sic] all part of the Hillary coverup operation I'll have to tell you about it at the party''An August 2015 email from Platte River Networks says: ''So does this mean we don't have offsite backups currently? That could be a problem if someone hacks this thing and jacks it up. We will have to be able to produce a copy of it somehow, or we're in some deep shit. Also, what ever [sic] came from the guys at Datto about the old backups? Do they have anyway [sic] of getting those back after we were told to cut it to 30 days?''
In March 2015, Platte River Networks specifically discusses security of the email server.
Additionally, Judicial Watch reported that Platte River Networks was the company that used BleachBit to delete Clinton's emails.
''The documents show Platte River Networks' use of BleachBit on the Clinton server. The BleachBit program was downloaded from a vendor called SourceForge at 11:42am on March 31, 2015, according to a computer event log, and over the next half hour, was used to delete the files on Hillary's server.''
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said the new evidence more than warrants a Justice Department investigation into Clinton's server and the Obama administration's efforts to help her cover it up.
''Judicial Watch uncovered new 'cover-up' records on the illicit Clinton email system that further demonstrate the sham nature of the FBI/DOJ 'investigation' of her,'' Fitton said.
''These shocking new documents show that various Obama agencies were protecting Hillary Clinton from the consequences of her misconduct. It is well past time for the DOJ to stop shielding Hillary Clinton and hold her fully accountable to the rule of law.''
Twitter: Follow @WhiteIsTheFury
Alex Jones presents a video clip produced by CNN that shows television anchor Christiane Amanpour interviewing former FBI Director James Comey where she suggests that Americans that said ''lock her up'' on social media during the 2016 Presidential Election should have been dealt with by Government force.
Clinton Contractor Described 'Cover-up Operation Work Ticket' in Newly Uncovered Email
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 00:43
A newly obtained internal message from the Denver-based Platte River Networks firm that serviced the personal email system used by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for official diplomatic business referenced a ''Hillary cover-up operation work ticket archive cleanup,'' the nonprofit government watchdog Judicial Watch said on April 8.
The email with the cover-up reference is contained in FBI notes on a February 2016 interview of an unidentified Platte River Networks official.
Judicial Watch obtained the notes as part of more than 400 previously unreleased FBI documents a federal district court order turned over to the nonprofit as a result of its Freedom of Information Act suit.
In the Dec. 11, 2014, email, an unidentified Platte River Network official told another that ''I'm kind of freaking about Gresham. Thoughts on what to do with [name redacted].''
The official responded: ''Its all part of the Hillary coverup operation. I'll have to tell you about it at the party.'' A smiling emoji was inserted by the responder between the two sentences.
The ''Gresham'' reference appears to be to the Chicago-based Gresham Partners LLC. It's not clear what, if any, connection there is between that firm, which describes itself as ''an independent investment and wealth management firm that has been serving select families, family offices and endowments since 1997,'' and the ''Hillary cover-up operation.''
In another of the newly released documents, an unidentified individual working with an inspector from the Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General told a Department of State official in a June 27, 2015, email that ''I have personally reviewed hundreds of documents in the HRC collection. I can now say, without reservation, that there are literally hundreds of classified emails in this collection; maybe more.''
It is not known from the documents how many emails were contained in the reviewed collection in which the classified emails were found by the unidentified individual.
Clinton has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing with the private email system, which included a server located in a bathroom in the New York mansion she shares with former President Bill Clinton.
A year after leaving office, she turned over to the State Department an estimated 30,000 emails that her attorney David Kendall and members of her State Department staff claimed dealt with official business.
She claimed another 32,000 emails were personal and were destroyed using a product known as BleachBit, with no prior independent government review.
Former FBI Director James Comey, in a controversial, nationally televised statement, recommended against prosecuting Clinton in July 2016, but that didn't prevent crowds of supporters of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from chanting, ''Lock her up, lock her up,'' during rallies before and after his election victory.
The Epoch Times reported Feb. 25, 2019, that the Justice Department told Comey that Clinton must have intended to compromise classified documents. The law requires only a showing of ''gross negligence.''
Judicial Watch said in an April 8 news release that the new documents it obtained include several that ''show Platte River Networks' use of BleachBit on the Clinton server. The BleachBit program was downloaded from a vendor called SourceForge at 11:42 a.m. on March 31, 2015, according to a computer event log, and over the next half hour, was used to delete the files on Hillary's server.''
If any of the destroyed emails concerned official U.S. diplomatic business or any other aspect of Clinton's actions as secretary of state, each of them would represent a potential violation of federal laws and regulations concerning the preservation of official documents.
Bryan Pagliano, a Clinton political appointee, had responsibility for maintaining the private Clinton email system and was paid more than $40,000 by the private Clinton Executive Service Corporation, according to the documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
Pagliano was also found in the newly released documents telling a senior Clinton aide on multiple occasions that he had to deal with a host of problems with the email system, including ''virus investigation and cleanup;'' ''clean up virus from bb [BlackBerry] profile;'' and multiple ''brute force attacks'' against Hillary Clinton's server, requiring him to ''reset password.''
Critics have long claimed that Clinton's private email system was vulnerable to being compromised by foreign governments, especially those of Russia and China, which operate extremely large and sophisticated digital hacking operations that target the U.S. government agencies and officials, prominent individuals in the political campaign world, and big corporations.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told The Epoch Times on April 8 that he wonders ''how many smoking guns is it going to take'' before a credible and comprehensive investigation is completed.
''When is the Justice Department going to get its act together and seriously evaluate the evidence against Hillary Clinton?'' Fitton asked. ''The evidence is sitting there, the question is whether the Justice Department is ever going to act.''
Vaccines
Note from Cal on MMR clip
Hi Adam!
Show 1128, 1:55:10 into it, you played a clip with a doctor
who talked about vaccines; you and John thought he’s kinda going against the
system? His name is Dr Christian Bogner and he is a good friend of mine!!! He’s
a big proponent of cannabis, travels worldwide and speaks at seminars about the
benefits. He’s part of the team who met up with the state AG, to add new
medical conditions to the medical marijuana program. Autism was one of these
conditions…Dr Bogner is the medical director of the biggest recovery center in
the Midwest, Oxford Recovery Center, where they treat autism, cancer and all
gut related glitches. The guy’s a GENIUS! Enough said.
I couldn’t believe I heard his interview on No Agenda, so I
texted him right away and asked him the scoop. Turns out, a local channel was
trying to promote the vaccines, so they interviewed Dr Bogner as a last minute
addon to their bullshit propaganda, but he spoke against the vaccine so they
cut out most of his interview; I’ve attached a copy of the letter he sent to
Channel 7, which are the points omitted from the story. Very interesting!!!
Your clip with the Brady Bunch on measles is spot on!
Apparently “Merck makes the vaccines for $38 and sell them
for $76. Their last batch expired last week, hence they hype and scare
tactics.”
Meanwhile, I’ll make a donation to make your time
worthwhile. …and to return the love of No Agenda folk, who support our products.
I’ve made new friends, got our products with numerous new distributors, and got
hundreds of notes and emails of support and appreciations, all thanks to you!
We’re working on a workshop/processing lab/store addition to
the farm, to help us keep up with the growing demand. Please send us some
karma???!
Much love, Cal
Health tip of the year: use coffee enemas to detox and wipe
away cancer!
5G
Brussels becomes first major city to halt 5G due to health effects
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 11:03
Great news. A Belgian government minister has announced that Brussels is halting its 5G plans due to health effects
The statement was made by C(C)line Fremault, the Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Housing, Quality of Life, Environment and Energy. From an interview last Friday, with L'Echo:
''I cannot welcome such technology if the radiation standards, which must protect the citizen, are not respected, 5G or not. The people of Brussels are not guinea pigs whose health I can sell at a profit. We cannot leave anything to doubt.''
'' C(C)line Fremault, Minister of the Government (Brussels-Captial Region), responsible for Housing, Quality of Life, Environment and Energy
Ms. Fremault accurately identified that a 5G pilot project is not compatible with Belgian radiation safety standards (9 V/m, or 95 mW/m2 according to this online converter), and stated that she does not intend to make an exception. (In the Building Biology guidelines, the threshold for extreme concern is 1 mW/m2. However, many government agencies still only consider thermal effects, instead of the cumulative body of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies.)
RELATED STORY:Portland officials attempt to block 5G network installation over health risksPerhaps with Brussels heading up the European Union, and with one of the two major 5G appeals being addressed to the EU, officials there are better informed and motivated to protect themselves.
May support increase for Ms. Fremault and all officials who are hearing the call to sanity and prioritizing the people over the technocratic oligarchy.
2-MINUTE ACTION: To send a brief note of support to Ms. Fremault, go here; and to Brussels city councilors, go here. Encourage them of the importance to keep this ban permanent, despite industry's forthcoming pressure.
The 5G Situation in SummaryThere is almost no question that a 5G-world would place us all under an unprecedented level of surveillance and control; granting unheard-of powers to soulless corporate algorithms.
That should be enough to permanently delete the agenda right there, filed under ''useful technology gone bad.''
RELATED STORY:The real dangers of electronic devices and EMFsThough perhaps an even bigger question for our time is: does 5G pose a major threat to all biological life? The independent evidence overwhelmingly indicates that it does.
That is, unless you ask wireless industry sources, who own the FCC and who recently put out this CNBC propaganda/commercial in a thinly-veiled attempt to quash pushback.
The talking heads of the wireless industry even brashly admit '' when forced, in a US senate hearing '' that they have not done any safety studies'... and they don't plan to.
The fact is, hundreds of scientists are trying everything to sound the alarm.
One such voice, Dr. Martin Pall, the WSU Professor Emeritus whose research actually lays out the mechanism of how wireless radiation causes harm in our cells, calls 5G ''the stupidest idea in the history of the world.''
However, within the corporatized halls of government, there is a well-worn pattern of voices of reason being drowned out by the frothed frenzy of technocratic corporations, who envision 5G as an unprecedented economic opportunity for the full-on commercial exploitation of reality.
But 5G pushback is starting to get viral. The compilation of truth assembled in videos on 5G like this one (below) provides a much-needed reality-check on the shocking state of greed and depravation among the agenda-pushers in our world.
While it may sound stark, after observing this for a long while, to me it honestly now appears that those pushing this agenda are stuck in a type of hive-mind syndrome, so frenzied with dollar-signs and ''us-versus-them'' progress-obsessions that they are in a mode incapable of self-corrective thought. Or at the very least, incapable of seeing where all of this is obviously heading '' for them and their kids, too.
When the industry sheep are being presented with an avalanche of scientific evidence for a catastrophe-in-the-making, and yet they refuse to listen and instead continue to tow the profit-pushing line, what becomes visible is the shadow-expression of utter disdain for life. That may sound harsh, but I encourage you to consider this deeply.
Perhaps it's the global, unconscious 'death wish' that is at the core of the 5G push. Perhaps this is also at the core of the desire to darkly exit the human condition via AI and transhumanism. Apparently this thought-form sees its escape and salvation through technology, instead of through humanity and/or our connection with divinity.
RELATED STORY:The dangers of 5G to children's healthIn any case, to any sane human with normal values, the situation is indeed bewildering. Though once we get over the distress, we are called into a kind of soul-led response. Perhaps it's first a resolve to be sovereign in our thoughts, and to be steward of our mind. Then, inspiration and true Connectedness come when we become involved in manifesting the bigger solution '' the choice of a positive future.
On this path, our root challenge is to remember: the power in our individual reality is truly within each of us, because who we are is not limited to the realms of duality and separation that we experience here.
If you're reading this, be welcomed into the humanity protector's club.
Where You Live: The Pushback Against 5G is Going ViralWhile Brussels becomes the first major international city to block 5G, dozens of local governments have passed legislation to prevent or restrict 5G rollouts due to health effects. Environmental Health Trust lists legislation from 21 local governments in the USA.
And on March 13, the Portland (OR) city council demanded that the FCC update its research on the health and environmental impacts of 5G.
Websites such as EMF Safety Network, WhatIs5G.info, and My Street, My Choice provides guidelines for how to put the brakes on 5G where you live.
This industry-promoted summary of state-by-state 5G legislative actions is also useful, and gives an insight into their modus operandi.
Below is a partial list of resources where you can learn more and get involved. We applaud everyone out there who is taking the reins and leading from their heart.
Brussels story '' sources:
Brussels TimesL'echo [English translation here]Bruzz.be [English translation here]Scientific Evidence on 5G Harm
EHTrust: Scientific Research on 5G, Small Cells and HealthDr. Martin Pall's free e-book: ''5G: Compelling Evidence for Eight Distinct Types of Great Harm Caused by Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Exposures and the Mechanism that Causes Them'' (PDF, 90 pages)Dr. Joel Moskowitz: ''5G Wireless Technology: Cutting Through the Hype''Electric Sense: ''5G Radiation Dangers '' 11 Reasons To Be Concerned''Health resources summary from WhatIs5G.infoHealth resources summary from TelecomPowerGrab.comEMF interview by Luke Storey: Dr. Jack KruseSaferEMR: Summary 400 new EMF scientific studies, Aug 2016 to present (EMF in general)Research from Magda HavasNews from Clear Light VenturesArticles from BN Frank at ActivistPostGrassroots Communities & Organizations
Note: Several of the organizations listed below are still promoting actions limited to contacting your elected representatives and pleading for help. With that being said, there is a resounding increase in awareness that a firmer response is now required.
5G Space Appeal: An International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and In Space (sign it)Environmental Health TrustParents For Safe TechnologyPhysicians For Safe TechnologyEMF Safety Network (California)Our Town, Our ChoiceAmericans For Responsible TechnologyInPower Movement Episode 1: A Mass Action of LiabilityScientists For Wired TechnologyDr Jack Kruse (website & community)''UN Staff Member: 5G Is War on Humanity'' (6 mins, 2019), Documents the UN Secretary-General being notified of harm from 5G and wireless proliferation.
Thanks to Dafna Tachover of We Are The Evidence for helping to break this story.
Unlawful Content
UK sets out safety-focused plan to regulate Internet firms | TechCrunch
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 11:46
The UK government has laid out proposals to regulate online and social media platforms, setting out the substance of its long-awaited White Paper on online harms today '-- and kicking off a public consultation.
The Online Harms White Paper is a joint proposal from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Home Office. The paper can be read in full here (PDF).
It follows the government announcement of a policy intent last May, and a string of domestic calls for greater regulation of the Internet as politicians have responded to rising concern about the mental health impacts of online content.
The government is now proposing to put a mandatory duty of care on platforms to take reasonable steps to protect their users from a range of harms '-- including but not limited to illegal material such as terrorist and child sexual exploitation and abuse (which will be covered by further stringent requirements under the plan).
The approach is also intended to address a range of content and activity that's deemed harmful.
Examples providing by the government of the sorts of broader harms it's targeting include inciting violence and violent content; encouraging suicide; disinformation; cyber bullying; and inappropriate material being accessed by children.
Online companies must start taking responsibility for their platforms, and help restore public trust in this technology.
We are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe.#OnlineSafety pic.twitter.com/6EDsaY3Ofr
'-- Theresa May (@theresa_may) April 8, 2019
Content promoting suicide has been thrown into the public spotlight in the UK in recent months, following media reports about a schoolgirl whose family found out she had been viewing pro-suicide content on Instagram after she killed herself.
The Facebook -owned platform subsequently agreed to change its policies towards suicide content, saying it would start censoring graphic images of self-harm, after pressure from ministers.
Commenting on the publication of the White Paper today, digital secretary Jeremy Wright said: ''The era of self-regulation for online companies is over. Voluntary actions from industry to tackle online harms have not been applied consistently or gone far enough. Tech can be an incredible force for good and we want the sector to be part of the solution in protecting their users. However those that fail to do this will face tough action.
''We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to go online , and the best place to start and grow a digital business and our proposals for new laws will help make sure everyone in our country can enjoy the Internet safely.''
In another supporting statement Home Secretary Sajid Javid added: ''The tech giants and social media companies have a moral duty to protect the young people they profit from. Despite our repeated calls to action, harmful and illegal content '' including child abuse and terrorism '' is still too readily available online .
''That is why we are forcing these firms to clean up their act once and for all. I made it my mission to protect our young people '' and we are now delivering on that promise.''
Children's charity, the NSPCC, was among the sector bodies welcoming the proposal.
''This is a hugely significant commitment by the Government that once enacted, can make the UK a world pioneer in protecting children online,'' wrote CEO Peter Wanless in a statement.
'' For too long social networks have failed to prioritise children's safety and left them exposed to grooming, abuse, and harmful content. So it's high time they were forced to act through this legally binding duty to protect children, backed up with hefty punishments if they fail to do so.''
Although the Internet Watch Foundation, which works to stop the spread of child exploitation imagery online, warned against unintended consequences from badly planned legislation '-- and urged the government to take a ''balanced approach''.
The proposed laws would apply to any company that allows users to share or discover user generated content or interact with each other online '-- meaning companies both big and small.
Nor is it just social media platforms either, with file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services, and search engines among those falling under the planned law's remit.
The government says a new independent regulator will be introduced to ensure Internet companies meet their responsibilities, with ministers consulting on whether this should be a new or existing body.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom has been rumored as one possible contender, though the UK's data watchdog, the ICO, has previously suggested it should be involved in any Internet oversight given its responsibility for data protection and privacy. (According to the FT a hybrid entity combining the two is another possibility '-- although the newspaper reports that the government remains genuinely undecided on who the regulator will be.)
The future Internet watchdog will be funded by industry in the medium term, with the government saying it's exploring options such as an industry levy to put it on a sustainable footing.
On the enforcement front, the watchdog will be armed with a range of tools '-- with the government consulting on powers for it to issue substantial fines; block access to sites; and potentially to impose liability on individual members of senior management.
So there's at least the prospect of a high profile social media CEO being threatened with UK jail time in future if they don't do enough to remove harmful content.
On the financial penalties front, Wright suggested that the government is entertaining GDPR-level fines of as much as 4% of a company's annual global turnover, speaking during an interview on Sky News'...
The #OnlineHarms regulator should have teeth, says Jeremy Wright. Fines comparable to information commissioner's under GDPR '' 4% of global turnover. Potentially makes individual managers liable. In extreme cases, decides whether websites should be allowed to operate in the UK'... pic.twitter.com/gBMe6uUKie
'-- Alexander J. Martin (@AJMartinSky) April 8, 2019
Other elements of the proposed framework include giving the regulator the power to force tech companies to publish annual transparency reports on the amount of harmful content on their platforms and what they are doing to address it; to compel companies to respond to users' complaints and act to address them quickly; and to comply with codes of practice issued by the regulator, such as requirements to minimise the spread of misleading and harmful disinformation with dedicated fact checkers, particularly during election periods.
A long-running enquiry by a DCMS parliamentary committee into online disinformation last year, which was continuously frustrated in its attempts to get Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to testify before it, concluded with a laundry list of recommendations for tightening regulations around digital campaigning.
The committee also recommended clear legal liabilities for tech companies to act against ''harmful or illegal content'', and suggested a levy on tech firms to support enhanced regulation.
Responding to the government's White Paper in a statement today DCMS chair Damian Collins broadly welcomed the government's proposals '-- though he also pressed for the future regulator to have the power to conduct its own investigations, rather than relying on self reporting by tech firms.
''We need a clear definition of how quickly social media companies should be required to take down harmful content, and this should include not only when it is referred to them by users, but also when it is easily within their power to discover this content for themselves,'' Collins wrote.
''The regulator should also give guidance on the responsibilities of social media companies to ensure that their algorithms are not consistently directing users to harmful content.''
Another element of the government's proposal is a ''Safety by Design'' framework that's intended to help companies incorporate online safety features in new apps and platforms from the start.
The government also wants the regulator to head up a media literacy strategy that's intended to equip people with the knowledge to recognise and deal with a range of deceptive and malicious behaviours online , such as catfishing, grooming and extremism.
It writes that the UK is committed to a free, open and secure Internet '-- and makes a point of noting that the watchdog will have a legal duty to pay ''due regard'' to innovation, and also to protect users' rights online by paying particular mindful not infringe privacy and freedom of expression.
It therefore suggests technology will be an integral part of any solution, saying the proposals are designed to promote a culture of continuous improvement among companies '-- and highlighting technologies such as Google's ''Family Link'' and Apple's Screen Time app as examples of the sorts of developments it wants the policy framework to encourage.
Although such caveats are unlikely to do much to reassure those concerned the approach will chill online speech, and/or place an impossible burden on smaller firms with less resource to monitor what their users are doing.
''The government's proposals would create state regulation of the speech of millions of British citizens,'' warns digital and civil rights group, the Open Rights Group, in a statement by its executive director Jim Killock. ''We have to expect that the duty of care will end up widely drawn with serious implications for legal content, that is deemed potentially risky, whether it really is nor not.
''The government refused to create a state regulator the press because it didn't want to be seen to be controlling free expression. We are skeptical that state regulation is the right approach.''
UK startup policy advocacy group Coadec was also quick to voice concerns '-- warning that the government's plans will ''entrench the tech giants, not punish them''.
''The vast scope of the proposals means they cover not just social media but virtually the entire internet '' from file sharing to newspaper comment sections. Those most impacted will not be the tech giants the Government claims they are targeting, but everyone else. It will benefit the largest platforms with the resources and legal might to comply '' and restrict the ability of British startups to compete fairly,'' said Coadec executive director Dom Hallas in a statement.
''There is a reason that Mark Zuckerberg has called for more regulation. It is in Facebook's business interest.''
UK startup industry association, techUK, also put out a response statement that warns about the need to avoid disproportionate impacts.
''Some of the key pillars of the Government's approach remain too vague,'' said Vinous Ali, head of policy, techUK. ''It is vital that the new framework is effective, proportionate and predictable. Clear legal definitions that allow companies in scope to understand the law and therefore act quickly and with confidence will be key to the success of the new system.
''Not all of the legitimate concerns about online harms can be addressed through regulation. The new framework must be complemented by renewed efforts to ensure children, young people and adults alike have the skills and awareness to navigate the digital world safely and securely.''
The government has launched a 12-week consultation on the proposals, ending July 1, after which it says it will set out the action it will take in developing its final proposals for legislation.
''Following the publication of the Government Response to the consultation, we will bring forward legislation when parliamentary time allows,'' it adds.
Last month a House of Lords committee recommended an overarching super regulator be established to plug any legislative gaps and/or handle overlaps in rules on Internet platforms, arguing that ''a new framework for regulatory action'' is needed to handle the digital world.
Though the government appears confident that an Internet regulator will be able to navigate any legislative patchwork and keep tech firms in line on its own '-- at least, for now.
The House of Lords committee was another parliamentary body that came down in support of a statutory duty of care for online services hosting user-generated content, suggesting it should have a special focus on children and ''the vulnerable in society''.
And there's no doubt the concept of regulating Internet platforms has broad consensus among UK politicians '-- on both sides of the aisle. But how to do that effectively and proportionately is another matter.
We reached out to Facebook and Google for a response to the White Paper.
Commenting on the Online Harms White Paper in a statement, Rebecca Stimson, Facebook's head of UK public policy, said: ''New rules for the internet should protect society from harm while also supporting innovation, the digital economy and freedom of speech. These are complex issues to get right and we look forward to working with the Government and Parliament to ensure new regulations are effective.''
Stimson also reiterated how Facebook has expanded the number of staff it has working on trust and safety issues to 30,000 in recent years, as well as claiming it's invested heavily in technology to help prevent abuse '-- while conceding that ''we know there is much more to do''.
Last month the company revealed shortcomings with its safety measures around livestreaming, after it emerged that a massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand which was livestreamed to Facebook's platform, had not been flagged for accelerated review by moderates because it was not tagged as suicide related content.
Facebook said it would be ''learning'' from the incident and ''re-examining our reporting logic and experiences for both live and recently live videos in order to expand the categories that would get to accelerated review''.
In its response to the UK government White Paper today, Stimson added: ''The internet has transformed how billions of people live, work and connect with each other, but new forms of communication also bring huge challenges. We have responsibilities to keep people safe on our services and we share the government's commitment to tackling harmful content online. As Mark Zuckerberg said last month, new regulations are needed so that we have a standardised approach across platforms and private companies aren't making so many important decisions alone.''
UK to introduce world first online safety laws - GOV.UK
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 11:47
Independent regulator will be appointed to enforce stringent new standards Social media firms must abide by mandatory ''duty of care'' to protect users and could face heavy fines if they fail to deliver Measures are the first of their kind in the world in the fight to make the internet a safer placeIn the first online safety laws of their kind, social media companies and tech firms will be legally required to protect their users and face tough penalties if they do not comply.
As part of the Online Harms White Paper, a joint proposal from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Home Office, a new independent regulator will be introduced to ensure companies meet their responsibilities.
This will include a mandatory 'duty of care', which will require companies to take reasonable steps to keep their users safe and tackle illegal and harmful activity on their services.The regulator will have effective enforcement tools, and we are consulting on powers to issue substantial fines, block access to sites and potentially to impose liability on individual members of senior management.
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
The internet can be brilliant at connecting people across the world - but for too long these companies have not done enough to protect users, especially children and young people, from harmful content.
That is not good enough, and it is time to do things differently. We have listened to campaigners and parents, and are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe.
Online companies must start taking responsibility for their platforms, and help restore public trust in this technology.
A range of harms will be tackled as part of the Online Harms White Paper, including inciting violence and violent content, encouraging suicide, disinformation, cyber bullying and children accessing inappropriate material.
There will be stringent requirements for companies to take even tougher action to ensure they tackle terrorist and child sexual exploitation and abuse content.
The new proposed laws will apply to any company that allows users to share or discover user generated content or interact with each other online. This means a wide range of companies of all sizes are in scope, including social media platforms, file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services, and search engines.
Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said:
The era of self-regulation for online companies is over. Voluntary actions from industry to tackle online harms have not been applied consistently or gone far enough. Tech can be an incredible force for good and we want the sector to be part of the solution in protecting their users. However those that fail to do this will face tough action.
We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to go online, and the best place to start and grow a digital business and our proposals for new laws will help make sure everyone in our country can enjoy the Internet safely.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:
The tech giants and social media companies have a moral duty to protect the young people they profit from.
Despite our repeated calls to action, harmful and illegal content '' including child abuse and terrorism - is still too readily available online.
That is why we are forcing these firms to clean up their act once and for all. I made it my mission to protect our young people '' and we are now delivering on that promise.
A regulator will be appointed to enforce the new framework. The Government is now consulting on whether the regulator should be a new or existing body. The regulator will be funded by industry in the medium term, and the Government is exploring options such as an industry levy to put it on a sustainable footing.
A 12 week consultation on the proposals has also been launched today. Once this concludes we will then set out the action we will take in developing our final proposals for legislation.
Tough new measures set out in the White Paper include:
A new statutory 'duty of care' to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services.
Further stringent requirements on tech companies to ensure child abuse and terrorist content is not disseminated online.
Giving a regulator the power to force social media platforms and others to publish annual transparency reports on the amount of harmful content on their platforms and what they are doing to address this.
Making companies respond to users' complaints, and act to address them quickly.
Codes of practice, issued by the regulator, which could include measures such as requirements to minimise the spread of misleading and harmful disinformation with dedicated fact checkers, particularly during election periods.
A new ''Safety by Design'' framework to help companies incorporate online safety features in new apps and platforms from the start.
A media literacy strategy to equip people with the knowledge to recognise and deal with a range of deceptive and malicious behaviours online, including catfishing, grooming and extremism.
The UK remains committed to a free, open and secure Internet. The regulator will have a legal duty to pay due regard to innovation, and to protect users' rights online, being particularly mindful to not infringe privacy and freedom of expression.
NSPCC CEO Peter Wanless said:
This is a hugely significant commitment by the Government that once enacted, can make the UK a world pioneer in protecting children online.
For too long social networks have failed to prioritise children's safety and left them exposed to grooming, abuse, and harmful content. So it's high time they were forced to act through this legally binding duty to protect children, backed up with hefty punishments if they fail to do so.
We are pleased that the Government has listened to the NSPCC's detailed proposals and we are grateful to all those who supported our campaign.
Recognising that the Internet can be a tremendous force for good, and that technology will be an integral part of any solution, the new plans have been designed to promote a culture of continuous improvement among companies. The new regime will ensure that online firms are incentivised to develop and share new technological solutions, like Google's ''Family Link'' and Apple's Screen Time app, rather than just complying with minimum requirements.Government has balanced the clear need for tough regulation with its ambition for the UK to be the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, and the new regulatory framework will provide strong protection for our citizens while driving innovation by not placing an impossible burden on smaller companies.
Barnardo's Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:
Children in the UK are facing growing risks online - from cyber-bullying to sexual grooming to gaming addiction.
The internet can be a force for good but we can't ignore the risks. Two thirds of the vulnerable children and young people supported through our sexual exploitation services were groomed online before meeting their abuser in person.
Barnardo's has long called for new laws to protect children online, just as we do offline, so they can learn, play and communicate safely.
The Government's announcement today is a very important step in the right direction. We particularly welcome proposals for a new independent regulator, which should ensure internet bosses make the UK one of the safest places in the world for children to be online.
Alex Holmes, Deputy CEO at The Diana Award said:
The Diana Award welcomes today's Online Harms White Paper. We understand the powerful and influential role that the internet plays in the lives of young people and that's why we are dedicated to training Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in schools across the UK to keep themselves and their peers safe online.
We believe that the time is right for further innovation from the tech sector when it comes to their approach to safety. While their products are constantly evolving and innovating, there is room for innovation on their approach to safeguarding.
We look forward to continuing to work with industry, government and other organisations to help children and young people in particular, manage risks and reduce harms.
Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet said:
We look forward to this opportunity to help shape a better and safer environment for children and to continue and grow our current work to equip them with the information and skills they need to navigate the internet positively and safely. As we speak to thousands of children, parents, teachers and other professionals each year, we want to mobilise and support them to be part of the solution.
We know that young people have strong ideas and opinions on online safety and it is theirexperiences we hope to reflect when responding to this consultation.''
Carolyn Bunting, CEO, Internet Matters, said:
We support the government's desire to make the UK the safest place to be online. The internet simply wasn't built with children in mind, so it is vital that government plays a greater role in determining and setting standards for the services that children commonly use, and that industry responds quickly and effectively.
Proactive regulation and better technical solutions, whilst welcomed, are just one part of the solution. We have to help parents to have greater awareness and understanding of their child's digital wellbeing. It would be unfair to leave those parents or guardians to figure it out for themselves. Instead we must make available as many accessible, simple resources for parents based on expert advice which makes it as easy as possible for them to understand.'‹
Notes to EditorsRead the White Paper and relevant consultation documents.
Today we have published our updated Digital Charter, alongside the White Paper. Through the Digital Charter, we are protecting citizens, increasing public trust in new technologies, and creating the best possible basis on which the digital economy and society can thrive.
Online harms in scope of the White Paper - The table below shows the initial list of online harmful content or activity in scope of the White Paper, based on an assessment of their impact on individuals and society and their prevalence. This list is, by design, neither exhaustive nor fixed. A static list could prevent swift regulatory action to address new forms of online harm, new technologies and online activities.
Harms with a clear legal definition Harms with a less clear legal definition Underage exposure to legal content Child sexual abuse and exploitation Cyberbullying and trolling Children accessing pornography Terrorist content and activity Extremist content and activity Children accessing inappropriate material (including under 13s using social media and under-18s using dating apps; excessive screen time) Organised immigration crime Coercive behaviour Modern slavery Intimidation Extreme pornography Disinformation Revenge pornography Violent content Harassment and cyberstalking Advocacy of self-harm Hate crime Promotion of Female Genital Mutilation Encouraging or assisting suicide Incitement of violence Sale of illegal goods / services, such as drugs and weapons (on the open internet) Contempt of court and interference with legal proceedings Sexting of indecent images by under 18s The Cabinet Office has announced the 'RESIST' toolkit, which enables organisations to develop a strategic counter-disinformation capability. The toolkit is primarily a resource for public service communications teams and it equips people with the knowledge and skills to identify, assess and respond to disinformation. The 'RESIST' model provides straightforward steps to follow and promotes a consistent approach.
The Government is also taking action on disinformation with a behaviour change campaign aimed at the public. The pilot campaign has launched and aims to increase audience resilience to disinformation, by educating and empowering those who see, inadvertently share and are affected by false and misleading information. The campaign will increase the audience's ability to spot disinformation by providing them with straightforward advice to help them check whether content is likely to be false or intentionally misleading.
Online Harms White Paper - Executive summary - GOV.UK
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 11:48
1.The government wants the UK to be the safest place in the world to go online, and the best place to start and grow a digital business. Given the prevalence of illegal and harmful content online, and the level of public concern about online harms, not just in the UK but worldwide, we believe that the digital economy urgently needs a new regulatory framework to improve our citizens' safety online. This will rebuild public confidence and set clear expectations of companies, allowing our citizens to enjoy more safely the benefits that online services offer.
The problem2.Illegal and unacceptable content and activity is widespread online, and UK users are concerned about what they see and experience on the internet. The prevalence of the most serious illegal content and activity, which threatens our national security or the physical safety of children, is unacceptable. Online platforms can be a tool for abuse and bullying, and they can be used to undermine our democratic values and debate. The impact of harmful content and activity can be particularly damaging for children, and there are growing concerns about the potential impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
3.Terrorist groups use the internet to spread propaganda designed to radicalise vulnerable people, and distribute material designed to aid or abet terrorist attacks. There are also examples of terrorists broadcasting attacks live on social media. Child sex offenders use the internet to view and share child sexual abuse material, groom children online, and even live stream the sexual abuse of children.
4.There is also a real danger that hostile actors use online disinformation to undermine our democratic values and principles. Social media platforms use algorithms which can lead to 'echo chambers' or 'filter bubbles', where a user is presented with only one type of content instead of seeing a range of voices and opinions. This can promote disinformation by ensuring that users do not see rebuttals or other sources that may disagree and can also mean that users perceive a story to be far more widely believed than it really is.
5.Rival criminal gangs use social media to promote gang culture and incite violence. This, alongside the illegal sale of weapons to young people online, is a contributing factor to senseless violence, such as knife crime, on British streets.
6.Other online behaviours or content, even if they may not be illegal in all circumstances, can also cause serious harm. The internet can be used to harass, bully or intimidate, especially people in vulnerable groups or in public life. Young adults or children may be exposed to harmful content that relates, for example, to self-harm or suicide. These experiences can have serious psychological and emotional impact. There are also emerging challenges about designed addiction to some digital services and excessive screen time.
Our response7.This White Paper sets out a programme of action to tackle content or activity that harms individual users, particularly children, or threatens our way of life in the UK, either by undermining national security, or by undermining our shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities to foster integration.
8.There is currently a range of regulatory and voluntary initiatives aimed at addressing these problems, but these have not gone far or fast enough, or been consistent enough between different companies, to keep UK users safe online.
9.Many of our international partners are also developing new regulatory approaches to tackle online harms, but none has yet established a regulatory framework that tackles this range of online harms. The UK will be the first to do this, leading international efforts by setting a coherent, proportionate and effective approach that reflects our commitment to a free, open and secure internet.
10.As a world-leader in emerging technologies and innovative regulation, the UK is well placed to seize these opportunities. We want technology itself to be part of the solution, and we propose measures to boost the tech-safety sector in the UK, as well as measures to help users manage their safety online.
11.The UK has established a reputation for global leadership in advancing shared efforts to improve online safety. Tackling harmful content and activity online is one part of the UK's wider ambition to develop rules and norms for the internet, including protecting personal data, supporting competition in digital markets and promoting responsible digital design.
12.Our vision is for:
'—A free, open and secure internet
'—Freedom of expression online
'—An online environment where companies take effective steps to keep their users safe, and where criminal, terrorist and hostile foreign state activity is not left to contaminate the online space
'—Rules and norms for the internet that discourage harmful behaviour
'—The UK as a thriving digital economy, with a prosperous ecosystem of companies developing innovation in online safety
'—Citizens who understand the risks of online activity, challenge unacceptable behaviours and know how to access help if they experience harm online, with children receiving extra protection
'—A global coalition of countries all taking coordinated steps to keep their citizens safe online
'—Renewed public confidence and trust in online companies and services
Clarity for companies13. Increasing public concern about online harms has prompted calls for further action from governments and tech companies. In particular, as the power and influence of large companies has grown, and privately-run platforms have become akin to public spaces, some of these companies now acknowledge their responsibility to be guided by norms and rules developed by democratic societies.
14.The new regulatory framework this White Paper describes will set clear standards to help companies ensure safety of users while protecting freedom of expression, especially in the context of harmful content or activity that may not cross the criminal threshold but can be particularly damaging to children or other vulnerable users. It will promote a culture of continuous improvement among companies, and encourage them to develop and share new technological solutions rather than complying with minimum requirements.
15.It will also provide clarity for the wide range of businesses of all sizes that are in scope of the new regulatory framework but whose services present much lower risks of harm, helping them to understand and fulfil their obligations in a proportionate manner.
A new regulatory framework for online safety16.The government will establish a new statutory duty of care to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services.
17.Compliance with this duty of care will be overseen and enforced by an independent regulator.
18.All companies in scope of the regulatory framework will need to be able to show that they are fulfilling their duty of care. Relevant terms and conditions will be required to be sufficiently clear and accessible, including to children and other vulnerable users. The regulator will assess how effectively these terms are enforced as part of any regulatory action.
19.The regulator will have a suite of powers to take effective enforcement action against companies that have breached their statutory duty of care. This may include the powers to issue substantial fines and to impose liability on individual members of senior management.
20.Companies must fulfil the new legal duty. The regulator will set out how to do this in codes of practice. If companies want to fulfil this duty in a manner not set out in the codes, they will have to explain and justify to the regulator how their alternative approach will effectively deliver the same or greater level of impact.
21.Reflecting the threat to national security or the physical safety of children, the government will have the power to direct the regulator in relation to codes of practice on terrorist activity or child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) online, and these codes must be signed off by the Home Secretary.
22.For codes of practice relating to illegal harms, including incitement of violence and the sale of illegal goods and services such as weapons, there will be a clear expectation that the regulator will work with law enforcement to ensure the codes adequately keep pace with the threat.
23.Developing a culture of transparency, trust and accountability will be a critical element of the new regulatory framework. The regulator will have the power to require annual transparency reports from companies in scope, outlining the prevalence of harmful content on their platforms and what counter measures they are taking to address these. These reports will be published online by the regulator, so that users and parents can make informed decisions about internet use. The regulator will also have powers to require additional information, including about the impact of algorithms in selecting content for users and to ensure that companies proactively report on both emerging and known harms.
24.The regulator will encourage and oversee the fulfilment of companies' existing commitments to improve the ability of independent researchers to access their data, subject to appropriate safeguards.
25.As part of the new duty of care, we will expect companies, where appropriate, to have effective and easy-to-access user complaints functions, which will be overseen by the regulator. Companies will need to respond to users' complaints within an appropriate timeframe and to take action consistent with the expectations set out in the regulatory framework.
26.We also recognise the importance of an independent review mechanism to ensure that users have confidence that their concerns are being treated fairly. We are consulting on options, including allowing designated bodies to make 'super complaints' to the regulator in order to defend the needs of users.
27.Ahead of the implementation of the new regulatory framework, we will continue to encourage companies to take early action to address online harms. To assist this process, this White Paper sets out high-level expectations of companies, including some specific expectations in relation to certain harms. We expect the regulator to reflect these in future codes of practice.
28.For the most serious online offending such as CSEA and terrorism, we will expect companies to go much further and demonstrate the steps taken to combat the dissemination of associated content and illegal behaviours. We will publish interim codes of practice, providing guidance about tackling terrorist activity and online CSEA later this year.
The companies in scope of the regulatory framework29.We propose that the regulatory framework should apply to companies that allow users to share or discover user-generated content or interact with each other online.
30.These services are offered by a very wide range of companies of all sizes, including social media platforms, file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services and search engines.
31.The regulator will take a risk-based and proportionate approach across this broad range of business types. This will mean that the regulator's initial focus will be on those companies that pose the biggest and clearest risk of harm to users, either because of the scale of the platforms or because of known issues with serious harms.
32.Every company within scope will need to fulfil their duty of care, particularly to counter illegal content and activity, comply with information requests from the regulator, and, where appropriate, establish and maintain a complaints and appeals function which meets the requirements to be set out by the regulator.
33.Reflecting the importance of privacy, any requirements to scan or monitor content for tightly defined categories of illegal content will not apply to private channels. We are consulting on definitions of private communications, and what measures should apply to these services.
An independent regulator for online safety34.An independent regulator will implement, oversee and enforce the new regulatory framework. It will have sufficient resources and the right expertise and capability to perform its role effectively.
35.The regulator will take a risk-based approach, prioritising action to tackle activity or content where there is the greatest evidence or threat of harm, or where children or other vulnerable users are at risk. To support this, the regulator will work closely with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and other partners to improve the evidence base. The regulator will set out expectations for companies to do what is reasonably practicable to counter harmful activity or content, depending on the nature of the harm, the risk of the harm occurring on their services, and the resources and technology available to them.
36.The regulator will have a legal duty to pay due regard to innovation, and to protect users' rights online, taking particular care not to infringe privacy or freedom of expression. We are clear that the regulator will not be responsible for policing truth and accuracy online.
37.The government is consulting on whether the regulator should be a new or existing body. The regulator will be funded by industry in the medium term, and the government is exploring options such as fees, charges or a levy to put it on a sustainable footing. This could fund the full range of the regulator's activity, including producing codes of practice, enforcing the duty of care, preparing transparency reports, and any education and awareness activities undertaken by the regulator.
Enforcement of the regulatory framework38.The regulator will have a range of enforcement powers, including the power to levy substantial fines, that will ensure that all companies in scope of the regulatory framework fulfil their duty of care.
39.We are consulting on which enforcement powers the regulator should have at its disposal, particularly to ensure a level playing field between companies that have a legal presence in the UK, and those which operate entirely from overseas.
40.In particular, we are consulting on powers that would enable the regulator to disrupt the business activities of a non-compliant company, measures to impose liability on individual members of senior management, and measures to block non-compliant services.
41.The new regulatory framework will increase the responsibility of online services in a way that is compatible with the EU's e-Commerce Directive, which limits their liability for illegal content until they have knowledge of its existence, and have failed to remove it from their services in good time.
Technology as part of the solution42.Companies should invest in the development of safety technologies to reduce the burden on users to stay safe online.
43.In November 2018, the Home Secretary co-hosted a hackathon with five major tech companies to develop a new tool to tackle online grooming, which will be licensed for free to other companies, but more of these innovative and collaborative efforts are needed.
44.The government and the regulator will work with leading industry bodies and other regulators to support innovation and growth in this area and encourage the adoption of safety technologies.
45.The government will also work with industry and civil society to develop a safety by design framework, linking up with existing legal obligations around data protection by design and secure by design principles, to make it easier for start-ups and small businesses to embed safety during the development or update of products and services.
Empowering users46.Users want to be empowered to keep themselves and their children safe online, but currently there is insufficient support in place and many feel vulnerable online.
47.While companies are supporting a range of positive initiatives, there is insufficient transparency about the level of investment and the effectiveness of different interventions. The regulator will have oversight of this investment.
48.The government will develop a new online media literacy strategy. This will be developed in broad consultation with stakeholders, including major digital, broadcast and news media organisations, the education sector, researchers and civil society. This strategy will ensure a coordinated and strategic approach to online media literacy education and awareness for children, young people and adults.
Next steps49.This is a complex and novel area for public policy. To this end, as well as setting out the government's proposed approach, this White Paper poses a series of questions about the design of the new regulatory framework and non-legislative package. A full list of these questions is included at the end of this White Paper.
Will a Free Press Cheer on Government Censorship of the Internet? - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 12:53
Igor Sapozhkov / Dreamstime.com The United Kingdom appears to be following in the footsteps of the European Union and Australia in trying to punish online platforms that don't censor content the way government officials want them to.
The British authorities are pondering a proposal to create an entirely new government agency to regulate, and even punish, online communication platforms to make them more thorough in removing content the government deems dangerous or violent.
There isn't a full-fledged plan yet'--more of a blueprint of what lawmakers would like to get passed. But the intent is very clear: The government wants to hold executives at various tech companies liable, financially and possibly even criminally, for content that officials do not want posted online.
Sadly, this move should not be surprising. Every outrage has led to more calls for regulation, and the viral distribution of videos of the recent massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, may finally be the tipping point, or at least the latest excuse.
What may be more surprising is how willing people in the media'--people whose work depends on the right to a free press'--are to frame this as a story of wise leaders holding the feet of those irresponsible, profit-grubbing Silicon Valley tech bros to the fire.
Consider Tony Romm's report on the British plan, published in The Washington Post. It contains a lot of loaded language for what is supposed to be a straightforward news story. The lede to Romm's piece describes these online companies as having "long dodged responsibility for what its users say or share," not-so-subtly suggesting that Facebook and Google are getting away something sinister. The article later says these companies face this regulation because they are "failing to clean up a host of troubling content."
Romm uses the "experts said" route (he literally uses the words "experts said") to suggest that these regulations could stop the reach of violent content online, yet the only individual human beings quoted in his story are government officials. His example of an "expert" is U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who is proving to be no expert in anything at all.
The story ends with a quote from Sajid Javid, U.K.'s home secretary (the cabinet-level position overseeing national security), saying they're "forcing these firms to clean up their act once and all." That leaves readers with a message that these companies are doing something wrong by not engaging in enough censorship that pleases the government.
Romm also links to a pro-censorship "Somebody do something!" panicked commentary by Margaret Sullivan that insists that social media companies have to "deal with the crisis that they helped create" by using "editorial judgment" to control what can be said on their platforms, just like news outlets do.
The punchline: Directly under Sullivan's panicked fearmongering are 1,300 comments posted by readers. They were not, in fact, hand-picked by the Washington Post's editors. Here's how their professional judgment works when it comes to online participation:
Most discussions on The Post are post-moderated, which means reader comments appear almost instantaneously. We do this to foster an organic discussion without delay, but this also means comments that go against the rules may appear before they're removed.
Our team moderates discussions 24/7, but we rely on the community to help police discussions. If you see a post against the rules, use the flag button to report it. Reports go directly to our team, so be judicious.
Alternatively, readers can block posts from other commenters by muting them. To do this, click their display name and select "Ignore." You can unmute a reader by going to your profile.
So not even the Washington Post operates the way Sullivan wants. If, say, the U.S. government were to fine the Washington Post if somebody posted an inappropriate comment and their moderators didn't delete it fast enough, how long would it take for commenting to be removed entirely? Many in the media (myself included) have a love-hate relationship with commenters, so it wouldn't be surprising if some people at the Post actually want such an outcome. It would be a soft form of government censorship, because it wouldn't be directly imposed. The Post itself would make the decision'--but only because of its fear of fines.
Over at the BBC, technology reporter Chris Fox actually went through the effort to talk to people who value online speech freedom, rather than just leaving this story presentation as though it was about wise regulators bringing feckless tech monsters to heel:
Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, said the government's proposals would "create state regulation of the speech of millions of British citizens".
Matthew Lesh, head of research at free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute, went further.
He said: "The government should be ashamed of themselves for leading the western world in internet censorship.
"The proposals are a historic attack on freedom of speech and the free press.
"At a time when Britain is criticising violations of freedom of expression in states like Iran, China and Russia, we should not be undermining our freedom at home."
Rather than leaving readers with a government official demanding more control over the Internet for all our own good, Fox chose to end his story with a warning from civil libertarians that these proposals from the United Kingdom could "violate individuals' rights to freedom of expression and privacy."
They're absolutely right to be worried.
Code Switching
Code-switching - Wikipedia
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 09:30
Code-switching is distinct from other language contact phenomena, such as borrowing, pidgins and creoles, loan translation (calques), and language transfer (language interference). Borrowing affects the lexicon, the words that make up a language, while code-switching takes place in individual utterances.[9][10][11] Speakers form and establish a pidgin language when two or more speakers who do not speak a common language form an intermediate, third language. On the other hand, speakers practice code-switching when they are each fluent in both languages. Code mixing is a thematically related term, but the usage of the terms code-switching and code-mixing varies. Some scholars use either term to denote the same practice, while others apply code-mixing to denote the formal linguistic properties of language-contact phenomena and code-switching to denote the actual, spoken usages by multilingual persons.[12][13][14]
Edit Code-switching relates to, and sometimes indexes social-group membership in bilingual and multilingual communities. Some sociolinguists describe the relationships between code-switching behaviours and class, ethnicity, and other social positions.[21]In addition, scholars in interactional linguistics and conversation analysis have studied code-switching as a means of structuring speech in interaction.[22][23][24] Some discourse analysts, including conversation analyst Peter Auer, suggest that code-switching does not simply reflect social situations, but that it is a means to create social situations.[25][26][27]
Markedness model Edit The Markedness Model, developed by Carol Myers-Scotton, is one of the more complete theories of code-switching motivations. It posits that language users are rational and choose to speak a language that clearly marks their rights and obligations, relative to other speakers, in the conversation and its setting.[28] When there is no clear, unmarked language choice, speakers practice code-switching to explore possible language choices. Many sociolinguists, however, object to the Markedness Model's postulation that language-choice is entirely rational.[29][30]
Sequential analysis Edit Scholars of conversation analysis such as Peter Auer and Li Wei argue that the social motivation behind code-switching lies in the way code-switching is structured and managed in conversational interaction; in other words, the question of why code-switching occurs cannot be answered without first addressing the question of how it occurs. Using conversation analysis (CA), these scholars focus their attention on the sequential implications of code-switching. That is, whatever language a speaker chooses to use for a conversational turn, or part of a turn, impacts the subsequent choices of language by the speaker as well as the hearer. Rather than focusing on the social values inherent in the languages the speaker chooses ("brought-along meaning"), the analysis concentrates on the meaning that the act of code-switching itself creates ("brought-about meaning").[22][29]
Communication accommodation theory Edit The communication accommodation theory (CAT), developed by Howard Giles, professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, seeks to explain the cognitive reasons for code-switching, and other changes in speech, as a person either emphasizes or minimizes the social differences between himself and the other person(s) in conversation. Giles posits that when speakers seek approval in a social situation they are likely to converge their speech with that of the other speaker. This can include, but is not limited to, the language of choice, accent, dialect, and para-linguistic features used in the conversation. In contrast to convergence, speakers might also engage in divergent speech, in which an individual person emphasizes the social distance between himself and other speakers by using speech with linguistic features characteristic of his own group.
Diglossia Edit In a diglossic situation, some topics are better suited to the use of one language over another. Joshua Fishman proposes a domain-specific code-switching model[31] (later refined by Blom and Gumperz)[32] wherein bilingual speakers choose which code to speak depending on where they are and what they are discussing. For example, a child who is a bilingual Spanish-English speaker might speak Spanish at home and English in class, but Spanish at recess.[33]
Linguistic theories Edit In studying the syntactic and morphological patterns of language alternation, linguists have postulated specific grammatical rules and specific syntactic boundaries for where code-switching might occur.
Poplack's model Edit Shana Poplack's model of code-switching is the best known theory of the underlying grammar of code-switching.[20] In this model, code-switching is subject to two constraints. The free-morpheme constraint stipulates that code-switching cannot occur between a lexical stem and bound morphemes. Essentially, this constraint distinguishes code-switching from borrowing. Generally, borrowing occurs in the lexicon, while code-switching occurs at either the syntax level or the utterance-construction level.[9][10][11] The equivalence constraint predicts that switches occur only at points where the surface structures of the languages coincide, or between sentence elements that are normally ordered in the same way by each individual grammar.[20] For example, the sentence: "I like you porque eres simptico" ("I like you because you are nice") is allowed because it obeys the syntactic rules of both Spanish and English.[34] Cases like the noun phrases the casa white and the blanca house are ruled out because the combinations are ungrammatical in at least one of the languages involved. Spanish noun phrases are made up of determiners, then nouns, then adjectives, while the adjectives come before the nouns in English noun phrases. The casa white is ruled out by the equivalence constraint because it does not obey the syntactic rules of English, and the blanca house is ruled out because it does not follow the syntactic rules of Spanish.[20]
Critics cite weaknesses of Sankoff and Poplack's model. The free-morpheme and equivalence constraints are insufficiently restrictive, meaning there are numerous exceptions that occur. For example, the free morpheme constraint does not account for why switching is impossible between certain free morphemes. The sentence: "The students had visto la pel­cula italiana" ("The students had seen the Italian movie") does not occur in Spanish-English code-switching, yet the free-morpheme constraint would seem to posit that it can.[35] The equivalence constraint would also rule out switches that occur commonly in languages, as when Hindi postpositional phrases are switched with English prepositional phrases like in the sentence: "John gave a book ek larakii ko" ("John gave a book to a girl"). The phrase ek larakii ko is literally translated as a girl to, making it ungrammatical in English, and yet this is a sentence that occurs in English-Hindi code-switching despite the requirements of the equivalence constraint.[20] The Sankoff and Poplack model only identifies points at which switching is blocked, as opposed to explaining which constituents can be switched and why.[20]
Matrix language-frame model Edit Carol Myers-Scotton's Matrix Language-Frame (MLF) model is the dominant model of insertional code-switching.[20] The MLF model posits that there is a Matrix Language (ML) and an Embedded Language (EL). In this case, elements of the Embedded Language are inserted into the morphosyntactic frame of the Matrix Language. The hypotheses are as follows (Myers-Scotton 1993b: 7):
The Matrix Language Hypothesis states that those grammatical procedures in the central structure in the language production system which account for the surface structure of the Matrix Language + Embedded Language constituent (linguistics) are only Matrix Language''based procedures. Further, the hypothesis is intended to imply that frame-building precedes content morpheme insertion. A Matrix Language can be the first language of the speaker or the language in which the morphemes or words are more frequently used in speech, so the dominant language is the Matrix Language and the other is the Embedded Language. A Matrix Language island is a constituent composed entirely of Matrix Language morphemes.[36]
According to the Blocking Hypothesis, in Matrix Language + Embedded Language constituents, a blocking filter blocks any Embedded Language content morpheme which is not congruent with the Matrix Language with respect to three levels of abstraction regarding subcategorization. "Congruence" is used in the sense that two entities, linguistic categories in this case, are congruent if they correspond in respect of relevant qualities.
The three levels of abstraction are:
Even if the Embedded Language realizes a given grammatical category as a content morpheme, if it is realized as a system morpheme in the Matrix Language, the Matrix Language blocks the occurrence of the Embedded Language content morpheme. (A content morpheme is often called an "open-class" morpheme, because they belong to categories that are open to the invention of arbitrary new items. They can be made-up words like "smurf", "nuke", "byte", etc. and can be nouns, verbs, adjectives, and some prepositions. A system morpheme, e.g. function words and inflections, expresses the relation between content morphemes and does not assign or receive thematic roles.)The Matrix Language also blocks an Embedded Language content morpheme in these constituents if it is not congruent with a Matrix Language content morpheme counterpart in terms of theta role assignment.Congruence between Embedded Language content morphemes and Matrix Language content morphemes is realized in terms of their discourse or pragmatic functions.Examples
Hindi/EnglishLife ko face kiijiye with himmat and faith in yourself. (Code-switching, English in bold)
"Face life with courage and faith in self." (Translation)
Swahili/EnglishHata wengine nasikia washawekwa cell. (Code-switching, English in bold)
"Even others I heard were put [in] cells." (Translation)
We see that example 1 is consistent with the Blocking Hypothesis and the system content morpheme criteria, so the prediction is that the Hindi equivalents are also content morphemes. Sometimes non-congruence between counterparts in the Matrix Language and Embedded Language can be circumvented by accessing bare forms. "Cell" is a bare form and so the thematic role of "cell" is assigned by the verb -wek- 'put in/on'; this means that the verb is a content morpheme.
The Embedded Language Island Trigger Hypothesis states that when an Embedded Language morpheme appears which is not permitted under either the Matrix Language Hypothesis or Blocking Hypothesis, it triggers the inhibition of all Matrix Language accessing procedures and completes the current constituent as an Embedded Language island. Embedded Language islands consist only of Embedded Language morphemes and are well-formed by Embedded Language grammar, but they are inserted in the Matrix Language frame. Therefore, Embedded Language islands are under the constraint of Matrix Language grammar.
Examples
Swahili/EnglishSikuona your barau ambayo uliipoteza. (Code-switching ungrammatical, English in bold)
"I didn't see your letter which you lost." (Translation)
Swahili/EnglishNikamwambia anipe ruhusa niende ni-ka-check for wewe. (Code-switching, ungrammatical, English in bold)
"And I told him he should give me permission so that I go and check for you." (Translation)
Nikamwambia anipe ruhusa niende ni-ka-check for you. (Code-switching, grammatical, English in bold)
Example 1 is ungrammatical (indicated by the leading asterisk) because "your" is accessed, so the Embedded Language Island Trigger Hypothesis predicts that it must be followed by an English head (e.g., "your letter") as an Embedded Language island. The reason is that possessive adjectives are system morphemes. We see the same thing happen in example 2, which is therefore ungrammatical. However, the correct way to finish the sentence is not "for wewe", switching back to Swahili; rather, it should end with "for you", which would be an Embedded Language island.
The Embedded Language Implicational Hierarchy Hypothesis can be stated as two sub-hypotheses:
The farther a constituent is from the main arguments of the sentence, the freer it is to appear as an Embedded Language island.The more formulaic in structure a constituent is, the more likely it is to appear as an Embedded Language island. Stated more strongly, choice of any part of an idiomatic expression will result in an Embedded Language island.[20]The Implication Hierarchy of Embedded Language Islands:
Formulaic expressions and idioms (especially prepositional phrases expressing time and manner, but also as verb phrase complements)Other time and manner expressionsQuantifier expressionsNon-quantifier, non-time noun phrases as verb phrase complementsAgent Noun phrasesTheme role and case assigners, i.e. main finite verbs (with full inflections)Examples
Wolof/FrenchLe matin de bonne heure ngay joge Medina pour dem juilli. Suba tee nga fa war a joge. (Code-switching, French in bold)
"Early in the morning you leave Medina to go to pray. Early in the morning you should leave then." (Translation)
Swahili/EnglishUlikuwa ukiongea a lot of nonsense. (Code-switching, English in bold)
"You were talking a lot of nonsense." (Translation)
We see example 1 work because the French Embedded Language island Le matin de bonne heure, "early in the morning", is a time expression. (Also, it is repeated in Wolof in the second sentence.) In example 2, we see the quantifier a lot of is a predicted Embedded Language island. Here we see an objective complement of a finite verb begin with the quantifier.
The constraint-free approach Edit Jeff MacSwan has posited a constraint-free approach to analyzing code-switching. This approach views explicit reference to code-switching in grammatical analysis as tautological, and seeks to explain specific instances of grammaticality in terms of the unique contributions of the grammatical properties of the languages involved. MacSwan characterizes the approach with the refrain, "Nothing constrains code-switching apart from the requirements of the mixed grammars."[37] The approach focuses on the repudiation of any rule or principle which explicitly refers to code-switching itself.[38] This approach does not recognize or accept terms such as "matrix language", "embedded language", or "language frame", which are typical in constraint-based approaches such as the MLF Model.
Rather than posit constraints specific to language alternation, as in traditional work in the field, MacSwan advocates that mixed utterances be analyzed with a focus on the specific and unique linguistic contributions of each language found in a mixed utterance. Because these analyses draw on the full range of linguistic theory, and each data set presents its own unique challenges, a much broader understanding of linguistics is generally needed to understand and participate in this style of codeswitching research.
For example, Cantone and MacSwan (2009)[39] analyzed word order differences for nouns and adjectives in Italian-German codeswitching using a typological theory of Cinque that had been independently proposed in the syntax literature; their account derives the word order facts of Italian-German codeswitching from underlying differences between the two languages, according to Cinque's theory.[citation needed ]
Controversies Edit Much remains to be done before a more complete understanding of code-switching phenomena is achieved. Linguists continue to debate apparent counter-examples to proposed code-switching theories and constraints.[12][20][40]
The Closed-class Constraint, developed by Aravind Joshi, posits that closed class items (pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, etc.) cannot be switched.[41] The Functional Head Constraint developed by Belazi et al. holds that code-switching cannot occur between a functional head (a complementizer, a determiner, an inflection, etc.) and its complement (sentence, noun-phrase, verb-phrase).[35] These constraints, among others like the Matrix Language-Frame model, are controversial among linguists positing alternative theories, as they are seen to claim universality and make general predictions based upon specific presumptions about the nature of syntax.[12][40]
Myers-Scotton and MacSwan debated the relative merits of their approaches in a series of exchanges published in 2005 in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, issues 8(1) and 8(2).
In this section, segments that are switched from the primary language of the conversation are shown in red.
Spanish and English Edit Researcher Ana Celia Zentella offers this example from her work with Puerto Rican Spanish-English bilingual speakers in New York City.[5] In this example, Marta and her younger sister, Lolita , speak Spanish and English with Zentella outside of their apartment building.
Lolita : Oh, I could stay with Ana?
Marta : '-- but you could ask papi and mami to see if you could come down.
Lolita : OK.
Marta : Ana, if I leave her here would you send her upstairs when you leave?
Zentella : I'll tell you exactly when I have to leave, at ten o'clock. Y son las nueve y cuarto. ([in Spanish] "And it's nine fifteen.")
Marta : Lolita, te voy a dejar con Ana. ([in Spanish] "I'm going to leave you with Ana.") Thank you, Ana.
Zentella explains that the children of the predominantly Puerto Rican neighbourhood speak both English and Spanish: "Within the children's network, English predominated, but code-switching from English to Spanish occurred once every three minutes, on average."[5]
French and Tamil Edit This example of switching from French to Tamil comes from ethnographer Sonia Das's work with immigrants from Jaffna, Sri Lanka, to Quebec.[42]
Selvamani : Parce que n'importe quand quand j'enregistre ma voix §a l'aire d'un gar§on. ([in French] "Because whenever I record my voice I sound like a guy.")Alors, TS‰, je me ferrai pas poign(C) ([in French] "So, you know, I'm not going to be had.")
[laughter]
Selvamani : ennatā, ennatā, enna romba ciritā? ([in Tamil] "What, what, what's so funny?")Alors, qu'est-ce que je disais? ([in French] "So, what was I saying?")
Selvamani , who moved from Sri Lanka to Quebec as a child and now identifies as Qu(C)b(C)cois, speaks to Das in French. When Selvamani's sister, Mala, laughs, Selvamani switches to Tamil to ask Mala why she is laughing. After this aside, Selvamani continues to speak in French. Selvamani also uses the word ts(C) ("you know", contraction of tu sais) and the expression je me ferrai pas poign(C) ("I will not be handled"), which are not standard French but are typical of the working-class Montreal dialect Joual.[42]
Hopi and Tewa Edit Researcher Paul Kroskrity offers the following example of code-switching by three elder Arizona Tewa men , who are trilingual in Tewa, Hopi, and English.[43] They are discussing the selection of a site for a new high school in the eastern Hopi Reservation:
Speaker A : Tututqaykit qanaanawakna. ([in Hopi] "Schools were not wanted.")
Speaker B : W(C)d­t'"knk'egena'adi imb­ akhonidi. ([in Tewa] "They didn't want a school on their land.")
Speaker C : Naemb­ eeyae nąeląemo d­b­t'"'mm­ kąayį'į w(C)dimu::di. ([in Tewa] "It's better if our children go to school right here, rather than far away.")
In their two-hour conversation, the three men primarily speak Tewa; however, when Speaker A addresses the Hopi Reservation as a whole, he code-switches to Hopi. His speaking Hopi when talking of Hopi-related matters is a conversational norm in the Arizona Tewa speech community. Kroskrity reports that these Arizona Tewa men, who culturally identify themselves as Hopi and Tewa, use the different languages to linguistically construct and maintain their discrete ethnic identities.
Why Do People Adopt Accents? 6 Things You Should Know About Wandering Accents
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 09:13
Being an accent mimic can go one of two ways. Either you can deliberately imitate any person on the block, and entertain everybody with your renditions of Christopher Walken and Jennifer Lopez, or it's subconscious, and you find yourself reproducing the accent of your new classmate, boyfriend, or boss. To their faces. Which makes for some supremely awkward social moments. But what makes us good accent mimics '-- and why do some of us get notoriously "wandering" accents when faced with somebody else's?
I am a supreme subconscious accent mimic. I once sent my Australian brother into fits by answering a phone call with a British mate and immediately, unconsciously slipping into cut-glass crisp-vowel English. My Uruguayan driving instructor thought I was making fun of him. And Aussies I meet in England no longer think I ever went near Sydney, let alone grew up there for 21 years. It does funny things to your identity, not knowing which direction your vowels are going to go today. But it turns out that a wandering accent isn't a flaw, or some bizarre act of mockery; it's part of normal human social behavior, and it seems to have some pretty amazing psychological reasons behind it.
Whether this is comforting or not depends on how mortifying you find the idea of coming back from study abroad with a British accent. But either way, be assured: you're just doing it to try and make friends.
1. It's More Common Than You ThinkContrary to popular belief, the idea of a wandering accent is actually more common than you might believe. One misconception about it is that it stems from a kind of poorly founded personal identity; if you're an innate people-pleaser or intent on blending in, the thinking goes, you're more likely to want to fit in with a crowd as much as possible, and that extends to accents. However, as we'll see, it's actually a pretty strong part of human interaction '-- but it may only show up if you spend a prolonged period with people with radically different accents.
2. Musicians Are More Likely To Be AffectedThis one might explain Madonna's adopted British "accent."
Another theory, as yet not quite understood, is that a brain's innate "musicality" may affect how easily they can slip into the rhythms of another dialect or accent. Accents are hugely musical; stresses, pauses and lilts on words are the real way in which one language-speaker distinguishes herself from another. It's known that musicians tend to be better language learners because of the effect that musical practice has on the brain's plasticity; this may have a further impact on how easily the brain can slip into accents, deliberately or not. If you're a musician, chances may be higher that you subconsciously mimic accents at parties.
3. It's Part Of "The Chameleon Effect"The important thing to realize about a subconscious wandering accent is that you aren't actually doing it to be rude or mean. (If you're doing it on purpose to make fun of somebody, you're an a*hole. Stop it.) It's actually seen as part of a much broader spectrum of human social interaction, where we subconsciously mimic the people around us in order to seem more "in tune" with them. It's got the spectacular name "the chameleon effect".
The chameleon effect is actually pretty famous in psychology. It was first really discussed in the '90s by two psychologists, Tanya Chartrand and John Bargh, who discovered what they called "unintentional mirroring" in interactions between college students. Basically, by imitating another person's gestures, body position, head tilt, voice modulation and, yep, accent, you're trying to make yourself look more like them, and hopefully seem less threatening and more likeable. Hence why it shows up a lot in college students, who are trying to build their own social circle.
It's thought to be a pretty ancient part of human behavior, and it's embedded deep in the brain. The responsibility for picking up on another person's actions and speech and imitating them falls to the brain's "mirror neurons," which have the explicit duty of subconsciously controlling our interactions so we resemble the people we're talking to. Evidently, our cavemen brains feel safer around people who talk, look, and act like us, and mirror neurons are there to make it happen. Pretty fascinating.
4. It Makes You Understand & Be UnderstoodMovieInterview on YouTubeThe accent imitation aspect of the chameleon effect has its own unique advantages. Speech pattern and modulation is a huge part of making ourselves understood, and various studies in accents have shown that imitating an accent subconsciously is actually a way to get your meaning across smoothly '-- which is a pretty crucial part of any social interaction.
A report by the Association of Psychological Science on the phenomenon talks about a Dutch study where volunteers listened to people talking in an unfamiliar accent, and then either wrote what they said down, listened again, or actually said it themselves while imitating the accent. The results? The people who'd done imitations '-- no matter how terrible they were '-- grasped the meaning of the other person's speech much more rapidly. Boom: actual conversation achieved.
5. It Comes From A Place Of EmpathyThe chameleon effect doesn't just make us easier to understand '-- it also appears to make us bond more. A 2010 study from the University of California found that imitating an accent subconsciously often comes from a desire to feel empathy with a person, or to feel a strong connection with them. You're more likely to imitate an accent, in other words, if you really want to feel close to the person who's got it, and to share in their feelings. Hence why couples are likely to take on each others' accents with more rapidity than workmates or passing acquaintances.
The problem with this, of course, is that accents are actually a pretty tricky thing. Imitation, as everybody who's ever done it accidentally will probably know, can actually lead to social break-ups rather than more empathy and cohesion. Embarrassment is probably not what the caveman brain had in mind when it came up with the chameleon effect, but alas, it's sometimes what results.
6. Severe Accent Change Can Be A Result Of Brain TraumaCollective Revolution on YouTubeSubconscious accent shifts tend, in most people, to be in response to the accents they're hearing around them. But there's another type, called Foreign Accent Syndrome, in which a person encounters some kind of traumatic brain injury and suddenly begins to talk in what sounds like another accent altogether '-- often, bewilderingly, one that has no relation to where they live or the people around them. Sounds funny, but it's actually pretty tragic '-- because they often can't alter it, or make themselves understood more easily.
It was first described in 1947, but the brain damages that can lead to Foreign Accent Syndrome are actually legion. Strokes, concussions, heart attacks, MS, migraines: it just takes one trauma, and suddenly a German speaker will be talking with an accent that sounds Chinese. It's still a pretty rare and under-researched syndrome, so we don't actually know what precise bits of the brain are damaged '-- but it's clear that the speakers aren't actually speaking in another accent. They're really mixing things up, stressing all kinds of different syllables and giving their speech the wrong rhythms. A person with Foreign Accent Syndrome isn't imitating anything in particular; it's the listener who will "place" their accent somewhere specific.
So next time you feel awkward at the supermarket after accidentally giving a Russian lilt to your responses to the cashier, be reassured: you're not actually a closet racist, or having some sort of bizarre stroke. You're just trying to make yourself more easily understood. Now go hide until the blushes stop.
Images: Giphy
AOC
Bankers Join Socialists in Supporting ''Modern Monetary Theory''
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 13:59
The gaggle of socialist candidates vying to win the Democratic nomination for president all agree on one thing. They believe government should be doing a lot more.
Just how to pay for all of those dreams is the question. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), we are told by the likes of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, is the answer.
The New York Times describes MMT as a ''package of eccentric ideas'' including the notion ''deficits are too small, and that the U.S. can essentially print money to pay off its debt.''
Yes, proponents of MMT, believe the U.S. should borrow more than it does currently, which is roughly $1 trillion per year. Why worry? The U.S. can simply create the trillions needed to pay off all of that debt.
Some may ask just who will be willing to lend to the U.S. when the primary means of repayment will be firing up a digital printing press.
Anyone who passed Economics 101 should be able to see the fatal flaw in Modern Monetary Theory. History is clear and there are some real-life catastrophes playing out right now in places like Venezuela.
Hyperinflation and currency collapse is the inevitable result when governments begin printing to escape all limitations.
The headline for the above-referenced article in the New York Times: ''Modern Monetary Theory Finds an Embrace in an Unexpected Place: Wall Street.'' There is no telling exactly why the Times considers Wall Street's enthusiastic embrace of MMT as ''unexpected.''
The nation's largest banks certainly got behind the ''extraordinary measures'' taken by the Fed and the Treasury in response to the 2008 financial crisis. The bailouts, Zero Interest Rate Policy, and Quantitative Easing were lavished upon Wall Street as a gift -- a gift to investment bankers themselves.
The 2008 bailouts ensured bankers would not be accountable for the fraud and mismanagement in their real estate lending.
Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) helped the banks rebuild their balance sheets as they borrowed vast amounts of money from the Fed for free and used it to buy Treasuries yielding 2-3%. And they took full advantage of QE by dumping huge quantities of toxic mortgage backed securities on the Fed.
Bankers love inflation because they can make sure they are first in line as the troughs fill with freshly printed cash. The last decade was MMT-lite, and they loved it. It is no surprise whatsoever they are eager now to get the party started with full-blown MMT.
About the Author:
Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, a precious metals dealer recently named "Best in the USA" by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals' brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.
Boeing vs Airbus
Really a Professor Ted moment
SJWBLMLGBBTQQIAAPK
Texas 'Free to Believe Act' (HB 1035) - Rewire.News
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 20:35
HB 1035 would create protections for sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions, which a person or entity may then use to discriminate against same-sex couples and transgender individuals.
The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this bill would be the belief or conviction that:
marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; andthe terms ''male,'' ''man,'' ''female,'' and ''woman'' refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at the time of birth.Activities of Religious Organizations
The bill would prohibit the government from taking any discriminatory action against a religious organization because the organization:
makes an employment-related decision, including firing, disciplining, or not hiring an individual whose conduct or religious beliefs are inconsistent with the beliefs of the religious organization; ormakes a decision concerning the sale, rental, or occupancy of, or the terms and conditions of occupying, a dwelling or other housing under the religious organization's control.Sex Reassignment or Gender Identity Transitioning
The bill would prohibit the government from taking any discriminatory action against a person who declines to participate in providing:
treatment, counseling, or surgery related to sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning; orpsychological, counseling, or fertility services.Marriage-Related Goods and Services
The bill would prohibit the government from taking any discriminatory action against a person who has declined to provide the following for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, celebration, or recognition of a marriage:
photography, poetry, videography, disc jockey services, wedding planning, printing, publishing, or similar marriage-related goods or services; orfloral arrangements, dressmaking, cake or pastry artistry, assembly hall or other wedding venue rentals, limousine or other car service rentals, jewelry sales and services, or similar marriage-related services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges.Employee and Student Policies
The bill would prohibit the government from taking any discriminatory action against a person who establishes sex-specific standards or policies concerning:
employee or student dress or grooming; oraccess to restrooms, spas, baths, showers, dressing rooms, locker rooms, or other intimate facilities or settings.Governmental Employee Speech or Conduct
The bill would prohibit the government from taking any discriminatory action against an employee because the employee lawfully speaks or engages in expressive conduct, based on or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction so long as:
if the speech or conduct occurs in the workplace, it is consistent with the time, place, manner, and frequency of any other expression of a religious, political, or moral belief or conviction that would be protected; orif the speech or conduct occurs outside the workplace, it is in the employee's personal capacity and outside the course of performing work duties.Marriage Licensing
The bill would permit civil servants to seek recusal from authorizing or licensing lawful marriages if such marriage conflicts with the person's religious beliefs or moral convictions. The person making a recusal would be required to provide written notice to the Department of State Health Services prior to the recusal. Additionally, the person making a recusal would be required to ensure that the authorization and licensing of a legally valid marriage is not impeded or delayed as a result of the recusal.
Marriage Performance
The bill would permit civil servants to seek recusal from performing or solemnizing lawful marriages if such marriage conflicts with the person's religious beliefs or moral convictions. The person making a recusal would be required to provide written notice to the Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial System prior to the recusal. Additionally, the person making the recusal would be required to ensure that the performance or solemnization of any legally valid marriage is not impeded or delayed as a result of any recusal.
Accreditation, Licensing, and Certification
The bill would protect the religious beliefs or moral convictions of a person, accredited, licensed, or certified in the state.
Claim or Defense
The bill would allow a person to assert a violation as a claim against a governmental entity in a judicial or administrative proceeding or as a defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding without regard to whether the proceeding is brought by or in the name of the governmental entity, a private person, or another party.
Related Legislation
Similar to HB 2779, which failed to pass in 2017.
Latest Action
1/23/19 '' Introduced.
People
Associated Press Takes Stand In New Guidelines: If It's Racist, Call It Racist - Essence
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 00:50
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty ImagesThe AP Stylebook, a manual followed in many news rooms, has been updated, with guidelines now advising journalists and editors to eschew the use of terms such as ''racially charged'' and ''racially motivated'' when ''racist'' is really the most accurate and honest word.
Exciting news announced today at #ACES2019: As part of @APStylebook's latest round of updates for the 2019 print edition, a new umbrella entry called ''race-related coverage'': pic.twitter.com/4aeesSVXul
'-- Errin Haines Whack (@emarvelous) March 29, 2019
The announcement came during the national conference of ACES: The Society of Editing in Providence, Rhode Island, on March 29.
''The terms racism and racist can be used in broad references or in quotations to describe the hatred of a race, or assertion of the superiority of one race over others,'' the AP states.
This issue has reached a boiling point for some journalists grappling with the best way to describe the inherent white supremacy of the Trump Administration without being accused of using subjective and biased language.
Of course, some Black journalists, specifically those who cover race and politics, have long argued that calling a thing a thing'--or, to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ''getting the language right'''--is a critical component of their jobs.
Count me in that number. As I stated in the New York Times, when asked to provide a quote on my decision to directly quote Frank Artiles in a report on the Florida state senator calling six black colleagues ''ni''ers,'' journalists have a responsibility to make it plain. We shouldn't have to speak in code to be considered objective.
Positioning racism as only a belief system and not an oppressive capitalist power structure is the greatest trick that white supremacy ever pulled'--and one of the lies that writers and journalists should expose at every opportunity.But when we, as Black writers and journalists, amplify this truth, these facts, we are often dismissed as ''advocacy journalists'''--as if advocating for the liberation of Black people, and calling racism racist, is somehow at odds with objectivity.
What I know: The coddling of white supremacy, making it more palatable for mainstream consumption and fragile white egos with the use of ambiguous terms like ''racially charged'' should not be the job of any journalist. That is what media injustice looks like.
Do not use racially charged or similar terms as euphemisms for racist or racism when the latter terms are truly applicable. #ACES2019 #ACESAPstyle
'-- AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) March 29, 2019
Now, perhaps, the Associated Press will expand guidelines to include how best to describe state-sanctioned, extrajudicial killings committed by murderous police officers occupying Black communities, so that we don't have to tap-dance around the truth then, either.
One day.
TOPICS:
News AP Associated Press guidelines Associated press racism Associated Press racist
The Feds need to investigate the Southern Poverty Law Center's finances - The Washington Post
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 11:09
Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 2016 in Pasadena, Calif. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)Jim Tharpe is a retired journalist who lives in Atlanta and a former managing editor of the Montgomery Advertiser.
There's something strange afoot at the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nation's richest civil and human rights charities. In March, the center abruptly fired legendary co-founder Morris Dees. Dees's biography was quickly scrubbed from the center's website, and the SPLC announced this week that Karen Baynes-Dunning would serve as interim president and CEO, giving the civil rights organization its first black female leader.
In confirming Dees's departure, then-President Richard Cohen emphasized the center's values of ''truth, justice, equity, and inclusion,'' and said vaguely, ''When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.'' Subsequent news reports pointed to allegations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment inside an organization that had raised hundreds of millions of dollars from donors to fight just that type of injustice.
Dees has said little about why he was shown the door after 48 years at the organization he had come to define. But to those of us familiar with the SPLC and its inner workings, the allegations swirling around the latest drama were familiar. The question isn't what went wrong at the SPLC; it is why it took so long for the rest of the country to learn what local reporters already knew. It will probably take a federal investigation to fully unravel this deep-South mystery and provide a credible, long-term fix.
More than two decades ago, I was managing editor of the Montgomery Advertiser, which was located one block from the SPLC in downtown Montgomery , Ala. I proposed an investigation into the organization after ongoing complaints from former SPLC staffers, who came and went with regularity but always seemed to tell the same story. Only the names and faces changed. The SPLC, they said, was not what it appeared to be. Many urged the newspaper to take a look.
We were, at the time, anything but adversaries with the center. Like other media outlets, we generally parroted SPLC press releases. We also became friends with SPLC staffers, occasionally attending the center's parties. Some of my reporters dated staffers at the center.
That relationship, however, suddenly soured when reporters Dan Morse and Greg Jaffe (both of whom now work for The Post) began making serious inquiries about the SPLC's finances and the treatment of black employees.
SPLC leaders threatened legal action on several occasions, and at one point openly attacked the newspaper's investigation in a mass mailing to Montgomery lawyers and judges. Then they slammed the door.
''Accommodating your charade of objectivity simply takes too much of our time,'' center co-founder Joseph J. Levin Jr. wrote the Advertiser in 1993. ''Our patience in this matter is exhausted, and we will not respond to further inquiries of any sort.''
In February 1994, after three years of research, the Advertiser published an eight-part series titled ''Rising Fortunes: Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center'' that found a litany of problems and questionable practices at the SPLC, including a deeply troubled history with its relatively few black employees, some of whom reported hearing the use of racial slurs by the organization's staff and others who ''likened the center to a plantation''; misleading donors with aggressive direct-mail tactics; exaggerating its accomplishments; spending most of its money not on programs but on raising more money; and paying its top staffers (including Dees and Cohen) lavish salaries.
Dees and Cohen vigorously denied its findings. And the SPLC mounted an aggressive campaign against the series when it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize '-- it was a 1995 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism.
And yet, based on the details of Dees's ouster, the problems we identified 25 years ago do not appear to have been resolved. And yet, a few days after Dees was canned, a friend sent me a recent mail solicitation from the SPLC touting Dees's accomplishments and asking donors to ''let Morris and his colleagues know you care'' not only by donating but also by using the donor's own ''first-class stamp so more of your contribution goes to the SPLC.''
Cohen, before he announced his own departure, said the center would bring in well-regarded lawyer Tina Tchen to conduct an investigation. It's too late for that. The Internal Revenue Service, which grants the SPLC tax-exempt status, and the civil rights division of the Justice Department would be the best bets to really figure out what's up at the center.
Any investigation should take a close look at the SPLC's finances. It should look at what the center has told donors in its mail solicitations over the years. And it should take a close look at how that donor money has been spent. Investigators should also look at how SPLC staffers have been treated over the years. Where was the center's board when this mistreatment was going on? And why did no one step up sooner?
The feds owe that to the young progressives who work at the SPLC. And they certainly owe that to the donors who have put their own first-class stamps on the checks they mailed to Montgomery.
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Pipeline$
Why haven't major U.S. news outlets discussed the implications of Genie Energy's potentially huge oil discovery in the Golan Heights? - Atomic Insights
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 11:44
''Let me gently whisper in your ear: we (the Jews) are the ones that teach you law and morality, not the other way around. You know why ? Because we have invented morality (the Bible, the 10 Commandments, remember ?)''
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/07/palestinians-return-home-israeli-troops-faeces-graffiti
When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.
He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.
If that was not clear enough, the words ''Fuck Hamas'' had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. ''Burn Gazadown'' and ''Good Arab = dead Arab'' were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.
Continues'....
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/someone-even-managed-to-defecate-into-the-photocopier-1.46032?v=E656C06A58A6007E28161A4188561665
But what awaited them was beyond all their fears, and also shocked representatives and cultural attaches of foreign consulates, who toured the site the next day.
In other offices, all the high-tech and electronic equipment had been wrecked or had vanished '' computers, photocopiers, cameras, scanners, hard disks, editing equipment worth thousands of dollars, television sets. The broadcast antenna on top of the building was destroyed.
Telephone sets vanished. A collection of Palestinian art objects (mostly hand embroideries) disappeared. Perhaps it was buried under the piles of documents and furniture, perhaps it had been spirited away. Furniture was dragged from place to place, broken by soldiers, piled up. Gas stoves for heating were overturned and thrown on heaps of scattered papers, discarded books, broken diskettes and discs and smashed windowpanes.
In the department for the encouragement of children's art, the soldiers had dirtied all the walls with gouache paints they found there and destroyed the children's paintings that hung there.
In every room of the various departments '' literature, film, culture for children and youth books, discs, pamphlets and documents were piled up, soiled with urine and excrement.
There are two toilets on every floor, but the soldiers urinated and defecated everywhere else in the building, in several rooms of which they had lived for about a month. They did their business on the floors, in emptied flowerpots, even in drawers they had pulled out of desks.
They defecated into plastic bags, and these were scattered in several places. Some of them had burst. Someone even managed to defecate into a photocopier.
The soldiers urinated into empty mineral water bottles. These were scattered by the dozen in all the rooms of the building, in cardboard boxes, among the piles of rubbish and rubble, on desks, under desks, next to the furniture the solders had smashed, among the children's books that had been thrown down.
Some of the bottles had opened and the yellow liquid had spilled and left its stain. It was especially difficult to enter two floors of the building because of the pungent stench of feces and urine. Soiled toilet paper was also scattered everywhere.
In some of the rooms, not far from the heaps of feces and the toilet paper, remains of rotting food were scattered. In one corner, in the room in which someone had defecated into a drawer, full cartons of fruits and vegetables had been left behind. The toilets were left overflowing with bottles filled with urine, feces and toilet paper.
Relative to other places, the soldiers did not leave behind them many sayings scrawled on the walls.
Here and there was the candelabrum symbols of Israel, stars of David, praises for the Jerusalem Betar soccer team.
Someone had forgotten to take his dog tag with him. His name is recorded in the newspaper's editorial offices.
Now the Palestinian Ministry of Culture is considering leaving the building the way it is. A memorial.
No response was available from the IDF by press time.
BTC
Facebook Reportedly Courting VCs to Invest up to $1 Billion in New Cryptocurrency
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 21:35
Last February, the New York Times reported that Facebook's (FB) cryptocurrency development is far enough along that it was already holding conversations with exchanges about ''selling [the coin] to consumers.'' According to four individuals familiar with the matter, Facebook told the exchanges that it is hoping to release the crypto product in the first half of the year, indicating that the stablecoin could very well be available in the next few months.
Now, the New York Times' Nathaniel Popper has followed up on the story via a tweet thread, indicating that Facebook is currently courting venture capital firms to begin dumping large sums of capital into the new cryptocurrency. Popper notes that the current ask ranges as high as $1 billion.
Given that one of the big allures of blockchain projects is the decentralization, getting outside investors could help Facebook present the project as more decentralized and less controlled by Facebook.
'-- Nathaniel Popper (@nathanielpopper) April 8, 2019
''One person I spoke with said that Facebook is talking about using the money as collateral for its cryptocurrency,'' added Popper. ''Facebook has been designing the coin to keep a stable value, pegged to a basket of foreign currencies held in bank accounts.''
This secondary market capital raise provides an interesting insight into Facebook's current crypto strategy, as the external capital provides at least some element of decentralization, which is a much-needed strategy for the company that is currently struggling with user privacy and control.
It's interesting to think of one of the richest companies on earth raising money. When was the last time they did outside fundraising?
'-- Nathaniel Popper (@nathanielpopper) April 8, 2019
There is no indication as to which VC firms are currently in negotiations, however, the list would likely include Andreessen Horowitz's dedicated crypto fund, which has previously invested in several startups via direct token purchases.
More: Nathaniel Popper's Tweet ThreadRelated: Report: Facebook's Coin Could Hit Exchanges in the First Half of 2019Disclaimer: This article's author has cryptocurrency holdings that can be tracked here. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice. Always conduct your own due diligence before making investments.
The Purge
Text - H.R.492 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act of 2019 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 11:36
Text: H.R.492 '-- 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)There is one version of the bill.
Shown Here: Introduced in House (01/11/2019) 116th CONGRESS 1st Session
H. R. 492
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to provide that an owner or operator of a social media service that hinders the display of user-generated content shall be treated as a publisher or speaker of such content, and for other purposes.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. Gohmert introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce
A BILL
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to provide that an owner or operator of a social media service that hinders the display of user-generated content shall be treated as a publisher or speaker of such content, 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 ''Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act of 2019''.
SEC. 2. Exception to protection from treatment as publisher or speaker .
Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 230) is amended'--
(1) in subsection (c), by adding at the end the following:
''(3) E XCEPTION.'--
''(A) I N GENERAL.'--Notwithstanding paragraph (1), an owner or operator of a social media service that displays user-generated content in an order other than chronological order, delays the display of such content relative to other content, or otherwise hinders the display of such content relative to other content, if for a reason other than to restrict access to or availability of material described in paragraph (2)(A) or to carry out the direction of the user that generated such content, shall be treated as a publisher or speaker of such content.
''(B) U SE OF ALGORITHMS.'--If an algorithm of a social media service is used to engage in an action related to user-generated content that is described in subparagraph (A), such action shall be considered to be the action of the owner or operator of the social media service.''; and
(2) in subsection (f), by adding at the end the following:
''(5) S OCIAL MEDIA SERVICE.'--The term 'social media service' means any interactive computer service provided over the internet that connects users for the purpose of such users engaging in dialogue, sharing information, collaborating, or otherwise interacting.
''(6) U SER-GENERATED CONTENT.'--The term 'user-generated content' means content that is supplied on a social media service by an information content provider who is a user of such service.
''(7) A LGORITHM.'--The term 'algorithm' means a computer program that performs any action described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (4).''.
Drain the Swamp
Donald Trump orders firing of Secret Service director Randolph Alles - Donald Trump's America - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 09:03
Donald Trump has ordered the firing of Secret Service director Randolph "Tex" Alles, according to the White House, amid a shake-up in the upper echelon of the Department of Homeland Security.
Key points:The White House said Mr Trump has selected career Secret Service official James Murray to lead the agencyMr Alles's departure stems from a personality conflict within the service, three officials sayMr Alles's removal comes amid a Homeland Security overhaul that began last weekWhite House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the US President had selected career Secret Service official James Murray to lead the agency, and he would assume the role next month.
The Secret Service director reports to the Homeland Security secretary.
Ms Sanders said Mr Alles would be "leaving shortly", though the agency later said he would leave in May.
CNN earlier reported Mr Trump had instructed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to fire Mr Alles, citing multiple administration officials.
The firing was part of "a near-systematic purge happening at the nation's second-largest national security agency", CNN reported one official saying.
The removal of Mr Alles marks the latest in a long line of firings and resignations of senior officials in the Trump administration, a list that has included secretaries of state, defence, homeland security, interior, veterans affairs and health and human services, the attorney-general and numerous senior White House aides.
Department overhaul began last weekThree officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr Alles's axing was unrelated to yesterday's resignation of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and a recent security breach at the President's private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, but instead stemmed from a personality conflict within the agency.
However Mr Alles's removal comes amid an overhaul across the department that began last week, when Mr Trump withdrew Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Ron Vitiello's nomination to stay on permanently.
Mr Trump described the withdrawal of his nomination for Mr Vitello, who has been acting in the role since June 2018, as part of a policy change "going in a tougher direction".
Photo The firing of Mr Alles is unrelated to a recent security breach at the President's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, officials said. Reuters: Kevin Lamarque The Senate Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, senator Dianne Feinstein, has said at least 10 top positions are currently filled in an acting capacity at the agency.
"The purge of senior leadership at the Department of Homeland Security is unprecedented and a threat to our national security," she said.
After Ms Nielsen's departure, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller is also eyeing the removal of Lee Francis Cissna, according to two of the anonymous officials.
Mr Cissna is the director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which runs the legal immigration system.
Photo Officials said the firing of Mr Alles is unrelated to the resignation of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. AP: Andrew Harnik, file Trump wanted 'orderly transition in leadership', Alles saysIn a message to the agency's workforce, Mr Alles said he was not fired, but rather Mr Trump had "directed an orderly transition in leadership for this agency".
He expressed "regret" he was not able to address the department before the news broke.
Mr Alles, a former Marine who had no prior ties to the Secret Service, was recommended to the post by former White House chief of staff John Kelly and was appointed by Mr Trump in April 2017.
Could the Joe Biden allegations lead to Donald Trump's re-election? Joe Biden is seen as the Democrats' best chance to beat Donald Trump in the next election, but will they support him now that seven women have come forward?He had been the acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.
When he was confirmed as director, Mr Alles inherited an agency that had been dealing with a series of security and personnel issues.
Weeks before he was nominated, a man jumped the White House fence and spent 15 minutes roaming the grounds.
Mr Alles's appointment was set to fulfill the recommendations of a group of former senior government officials that reviewed the Secret Service in 2014 and found it was an "insular agency" in need of an outsider to lead it.
But Mr Alles's unfamiliarity with the agency led to conflicts, the officials said.
Mr Murray, the assistant director of the Office of Protective Operations, has served as the special agent in charge of the agency's Washington field office.
Ms Sanders said Mr Alles had done "a great job at the agency over the last two years" and Mr Trump was thankful for his service.
The Secret Service is responsible for protecting senior US officials including the president and vice-president, former presidents and visiting heads of state.
Reuters/AP
NXIUM
Allison Mack of 'Smallville' to Plead Guilty | PEOPLE.com
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 18:59
Smallville actress Allison Mack has pleaded guilty to charges related to her involvement with a controversial self-help group described as having a secret society of ''masters'' and sexually subservient ''slaves'' within it, PEOPLE confirms. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York tells PEOPLE that Mack was scheduled to appear in court at 11:30 a.m. to plead guilty. The spokesman says she is pleading guilty to racketeering conspiracy and racketeering.
Prosecutors have accused her of recruiting sex slaves for Keith Raniere, who co-founded the controversial self-help group Nxivm and its subgroup, DOS, described as an all-female secret society in which women allegedly were forced to be sexually subservient to Raniere.
On Monday, Mack, 36, appeared in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, where jury selection in her trial was set to begin.
Best known for her years-long role as a young Superman's friend, Chloe Sullivan, on The WB's Smallville, Mack was charged last spring with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labor conspiracy.
One of the group's most prominent members, Mack faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
''Alison Mack's life is in ruins and I can't help but feel sadness for her. At the same time, she had to be stopped. What she participated in was dangerous and criminal,'' actress Catherine Oxenberg, whose daughter India Oxenberg was also famously involved with Nxivm, said in a statement to PEOPLE.
Last month a judge denied a request by Mack's lawyer to delay her trial so he could have more time to negotiate a plea deal for his high-profile client, local station CBS New York reports.
The actress was among six people accused of sex trafficking, forced labor, racketeering, wire fraud and other charges for their roles in Nxivm, which operated out of Albany but suspended operations last spring.
It has been described by at least one former member as a ''cult.''
Federal investigators have accused Mack of recruiting women into DOS, which was purported to be a female mentorship group to address members' weaknesses but was, allegedly, a group created by Raniere that took advantage of women sexually.
''The victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor, to the defendants' benefit,'' Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, alleged in a statement issued at the time of Mack's arrest, referring to both Mack and Raniere.
''Slaves'' in the alleged operation described Mack as ''incredibly intimidating, cruel and punitive,'' a source close to two former DOS members told The Hollywood Reporter in a cover story published last May.
On March 18, 2019, Nxivm's Raniere entered a not guilty plea to newly filed child pornography charges related to the case, according to the Albany Times Union, CBS News and the Associated Press.
Clips
VIDEO - 'Oops, I signed it in VP's place': Pelosi adds her signature to bill challenging Trump on Yemen war - YouTube
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 12:54
VIDEO - The Angelic Initiative, Episode 1019 - Horses, Genders, and Amperage - YouTube
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 12:52
VIDEO - Trump says he's not looking to resume family separations today '' live updates - CBS News
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 12:22
Trump comments on family separations
President Trump told reporters Tuesday he doesn't intend to resume family separations at the border, after repeated questioning from reporters. Mr. Trump made the remarks during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi , who is visiting the White House as he pushes for a term that would extend until 2034.
"We're not looking to do that," Mr. Trump said of family separations, adding that more illegal immigrants come to the U.S. without such a practice.
The president only answered that question after blasting former President Barack Obama, blaming him for putting children in "cages."
"Just so you understand, President Obama separated the children," the president said. "Those cages that were shown '-- I think they were very inappropriate '--were by President Obama's administration not by Trump. President Obama had child separation."
"I was the one that changed it," he added.
The president's comments come amid a massive overhaul at the Department of Homeland Security, including the departure of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph Alles.
The White House isn't pushing back against Sisi's effort to extend his presidency until 2034, at least not publicly. Asked if Mr. Trump is OK with Sisi's intention to extend his presidency, a senior administration official said the president views his relationship with Egypt as he does with all foreign nations '-- through the lens of "America first."
The two presidents are expected to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip, as Israeli-Palestinian tensions rise. They will also address Egypt's economy and human rights, particularly the treatment of religious minorities in Egypt. Reporters will have a chance to see the two presidents and lob questions during a sit-down meeting.
There are a number of U.S. citizens currently detained in Egypt, and Human Rights Watch estimates 20 journalists are behind bars in Egypt.
Mr. Trump said the two presidents have much to discuss regarding military issues and trade. "We've never had a better relationship '-- Egypt and the United States," the president said.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
VIDEO - CSPAN on Twitter: "Attorney General Barr on Mueller Report: "I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016'...I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal."
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 11:55
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VIDEO - Geoengineering no longer a conspiracy theory - YouTube
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 11:42
VIDEO - Plan For 5G Cell Phone Towers Raises Health Concerns In Moraga '' CBS San Francisco
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 11:30
MORAGA (KPIX 5) '-- An East Bay neighborhood's fight against 5G is the topic of a town council meeting scheduled for Wednesday night. Moraga residents are expected to turn out and demand the city do more to protect people from cell phone radiation exposure.
It is a fight that's been going on across the country and has been particularly heated in the East Bay. Ellie Marks has been outspoken against 5G and cell phone companies for 11 years now.
''We may not see the full ramifications of this for 20-30 years. How can we just fly blindly into this? It doesn't make sense,'' Marks said.
Her fight began when her husband developed a brain tumor on the right side of his head back in 2008. She says he was a heavy cell phone user since 1986.
''He used it all the time; held it right to his right ear and the tumor developed right where he held the phone,'' Marks said.
Fortunately her husband survived, but she says it was her wake-up call. Ever since then, she's been touring the country, organizing against the spread of cell phone towers and raising awareness about increased exposure to radio frequency.
The FCC and cell phone companies all maintain RF exposure we receive from cell phones is well within safe levels.
''The FCC is lying to the general public,'' Marks countered.
''So far every major study concludes it [5G] is not having a harmful impact,'' CNET Editor at Large Ian Sherr said.
Sherr has been following the launch of 5G and the race to beat China to a full 5G launch.
''5G is not just another 'G.' It's supposed to be faster, more reliable and possibly the way the internet runs will change because of this technology,'' Sherr said.
For most consumers, the excitement of 5G is about speed.
''The promise of 5G is that it will be a lot lot faster, so think of being able to download a movie in seconds rather than waiting a lot longer,'' Sherr said.
Many local governments will say their hands are tied when it comes to regulating cell phone towers. The health and safety aspect of these towers is regulated by the state and federal government.
Oftentimes the only thing local governments can do is deny permitting if the towers are in the public right of way, but even in cases where that has happened, cell phone companies have threatened to sue.
Susie Steimle Comments
VIDEO - Sir dewcifer supercuts
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 10:44
VIDEO - Black hole picture 'a dream come true' - BBC News
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 10:33
Astronomers have taken the first ever picture of a black hole at the heart of a distant galaxy called M87 in the Virgo galaxy cluster.
It measures 40 billion km across, 3.3 million times the size of the Earth.
The Event Horizon Telescope used a network of eight telescopes across the world to get the image.
Read more: First ever black hole image released
VIDEO - Tusk: 'Please do not waste this time' - BBC News
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 10:33
After five hours of talks at a summit in Brussels, the UK and the EU have agreed a "flexible extension" of Brexit until 31 October.
Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council explained that the "course of action will be entirely in the UK's hands".
VIDEO - Brexit: UK and EU agree delay to 31 October - BBC News
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 10:23
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption May on Brexit extension: "The UK should have left the EU by now"European Union leaders have granted the UK a six-month extension to Brexit, after five hours of talks in Brussels.
The new deadline - 31 October - averts the prospect of the UK having to leave the EU without a deal on Friday, as MPs are still deadlocked over a deal.
European Council President Donald Tusk said his "message to British friends" was "please do not waste this time".
Theresa May, who had wanted a shorter delay, said the UK would still aim to leave the EU as soon as possible.
The UK must now hold European elections in May, or leave on 1 June without a deal.
The prime minister will later make a statement on the Brussels summit to the House of Commons, while talks with the Labour Party, aimed at reaching consensus on how to handle Brexit, are set to continue.
Mrs May tweeted: "The choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear. So we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest."
So far, MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement Mrs May reached with other European leaders last year and they have voted against leaving the EU without a deal.
The EU has ruled out any renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement.
Before the summit, Mrs May had told leaders she wanted to move the UK's exit date from this Friday to 30 June, with the option of leaving earlier if Parliament ratified her agreement.
What is the reaction in the UK?For Labour, shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Mrs May was being "inflexible" during negotiations with his party, and that, if this continued, "a public vote of some description, whether it's a general election or some sort of referendum, actually becomes necessary as a way out of this crisis".
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said one government minister had told her that the latest delay to Brexit could mean a Conservative Party leadership contest after Easter, with a new prime minister potentially in place by June.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said: "There's been no progress whatsoever, really."
He added that it was still "difficult to see how" Mrs May could get her deal with the EU through Parliament and said: "The pressure on her to go will increase dramatically now, I suspect."
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her "relief" that the UK wouldn't be "crashing out" on Friday, adding that "allowing people to decide if they still want to leave is now imperative".
What was agreed?A Brexit extension "only as long as necessary" and "no longer than 31 October" to allow for the ratification of the withdrawal agreementThe UK "must hold the elections to the European Parliament" and if it fails to do this, the UK will leave on 1 JuneThe European Council reiterates there can be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement negotiationsRead the EU's conclusions here.
What was the EU's message?Donald Tusk emerged from the talks - and a subsequent meeting with Mrs May - to address reporters at a news conference at 02:15 local time (01:15 BST).
"The course of action will be entirely in the UK's hands," he said. "They can still ratify the withdrawal agreement, in which case the extension can be terminated."
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Tusk on Brexit extension: "Please do not waste this time"Mr Tusk said the UK could also rethink its strategy or choose to "cancel Brexit altogether".
He added: "Let me finish with a message to our British friends: This extension is as flexible as I expected, and a little bit shorter than I expected, but it's still enough to find the best possible solution. Please do not waste this time."
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "There will probably be a European election in the UK - that might seem a bit odd, but rules are rules and we must respect European law and then we will see what happens."
What was Theresa May's response?Mrs May spoke to reporters at 02:45 local time (01:45 BST). She said that, although the delay extends until 31 October, the UK can leave before then if MPs pass her withdrawal deal.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption BBC's Adam Fleming explains how the EU agreed a Brexit delay."I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension," she said. "The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal."
She added: "I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy, or there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament. But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward. Nothing is more pressing or more vital."
The PM said the UK would "continue to hold full membership rights and obligations [of the EU]" during the delay.
Trick or treat? Halloween deadline is both You couldn't quite make it up. The new Brexit deadline is, you guessed it, Halloween.
So to get all the terrible metaphors about horror shows, ghosts and ghouls out of the way right now, let's consider straight away some of the reasons why this decision is a treat in one sense, but could be a trick too.
A treat? First and most importantly, the EU has agreed to put the brakes on. We will not leave tomorrow without a deal.
The prime minister's acceptance that leaving the EU without a formal arrangement in place could be a disaster won out.
And there are quite a few potential tricks. This new October deadline might not solve very much at all.
This could, although I hate to say it, just make way for months of extra gridlock before the UK and the EU find themselves back here in a similar situation in the autumn.
Read Laura's blog here
How did the EU leaders decide?The EU had been split over the length of delay to offer the UK and by law its other 27 member states had to reach a unanimous decision.
Although other countries backed a longer delay, French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for a shorter extension. He called the 31 October deadline "a good solution".
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption German Chancellor Angela Merkel had argued for a longer delay Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, said the extension gave the UK time "to come to a cross-party agreement".
Risk of no-deal postponed Fudge and can-kicking are the EU-familiar words that spring to mind at the end of this Brexit summit.
After all the drama and speculation leading up to the meeting, effectively all that happened here is that the threat of a no-deal Brexit has been postponed for another six months.
Time enough for the EU to hold European parliamentary elections, choose a new president of the European Commission and pass a new budget - without EU leaders having to keep one eye at least on the day-to-day dramas in the House of Commons.
Despite EU leaders' rhetoric beforehand, they granted this extension without hearing a convincing plan of Brexit action from Theresa May.
In the summit conclusions there is no evidence of the punitive safeguards mooted to ensure the UK "behaves itself" - refraining from blocking EU decisions - as long as it remains a club member.
Yes, EU leaders worry about who might replace Theresa May as prime minister. Yes, they're concerned these six months could fly past with the UK as divided as ever but their message to the UK tonight was: "We've done our bit. Now you do yours. It's up to you. Please use the time well."
VIDEO - Lori Loughlin Didn't Believe She'd Face Prison Time, Expected a 'Slap on the Wrist,' Source Claims
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 09:57
Lori Loughlin is starting to come to terms with the new charge against her, a source tells ET.
A day after Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were charged in a second superseding indictment on conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering, a source tells ET that, up until this point, Loughlin didn't believe she would face the possibility of serving time in prison. Despite fearing the prospect of jail, the source claims Loughlin didn't truly believe it could happen to her.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters -- Olivia, 19, and Bella, 20 -- admitted to the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team, even though neither of them participated in the sport.
"Lori still believed in the end she would just get a slap on the wrist," the source says. "At this point she is getting complete clarity and she's scared and in terrible shape."
"The reality of this situation has finally hit her like a ton of bricks," the source adds. "It wasn't until she was faced with [the] additional [charge] that she saw the true ramifications."
The charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering.
Ultimately, if convicted and then sentenced to the maximum extent of the law, Loughlin could face up to 40 years in jail. Although, most experts agree that the chance of sentencing that severe is almost nonexistent.
"She is going through the worst time of her life," ET's source says of Loughlin. "It feels like her whole world is falling apart. She is putting all her trust in her team and her lawyers, and hoping for the best."
As for her daughters, the source says that Olivia, a YouTube star, is still "attempting to process" the situation, while Bella "has stood by her parents."
"Olivia blames her mother and claims she always will," the source says. "Olivia isn't ready to forgive and has continued to distance herself. She is attempting to process all of this. And trying to work on ways to rebuild her business on her own without her parents' help."
"Isabella, while she is mortified and very hurt by all this, has stood by her parents," the source continues. "She knows her mom needs her right now."
The source also adds that Loughlin's close friends "are incredibly concerned and feel the entire situation should have been handled differently."
"They believe she should have taken the plea when offered," the source says of Loughlin, who, along with Giannulli, initially rejected any plea agreements, according to the source.
"Her closest friends have warned her she needs to be more humble and worry she's been misled through this process," the source adds. "There seems to be a certain belief among her people she is above all of this and everything will be just fine. And it's becoming more and more evident that is not the case."
Additionally, the source says that Loughlin's friends "feel she should have taken the same route" as Felicity Huffman, who was also charged in the scandal, and "apologized profusely."
"They begged her to take the plea, but she truly didn't feel it was necessary," the source says. "This isn't the value system of most of her friends and some of those closest to her, who have stood by her from the beginning, are now starting to distance themselves."
Earlier this week, Huffman, who paid $15,000 to help get her and husband William H. Macy's eldest daughter, 18-year-old Sofia, into an elite college by cheating on the SAT, pleaded guilty to the charges of mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
"I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney's Office," Huffman said in a statement. "I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions."
"I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community," the statement continued. "I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly. My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty."
In Huffman's case, along with the 13 individuals who are also pleading guilty, the US Attorney is recommending incarceration at the low end of the sentencing guidelines, a fine or other financial penalty of $20,000 and 12 months supervised release. Additionally, the US Attorney is recommending a mandatory special assessment of $100 and restitution in an amount to be determined by the court at sentencing and forfeiture. Huffman's plea hearing has been set for May 21.
"Things have been very difficult for Felicity," a source previously told ET. "This has been one of the most trying times in her life."
Earlier this week, Rachel Stockman of the Law & Crime Network told ET that, if Loughlin and/or Huffman end up serving jail time, it would likely be at a minimum security facility.
"Based on these charges and the fact that they have not been in legal trouble before, and the fact that, probably, they are not a security risk, they'll probably be at a minimum security prison," Stockman speculated. "Very similar to the one Martha Stewart spent time at."
Watch the video below for more on the college admissions scandal.
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Thu, 11 Apr 2019 09:53
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VIDEO - Instagram 'Influencer' Cries About Needing a Job After her Account was Banned [VIDEO] | Tribunist
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 09:43
It's still strange to think we live in a day and age where people can make an excessive amount of money simply by posting pictures of themselves on social media. These social media 'influencers' usually amass a massive following where they push certain products to reach a larger demographic. But sometimes, these 'influencers' seem to take what they have for granted.
[Scroll Down For Video]
Jessy Taylor, who had over 113,000 followers, posted a video of herself crying on YouTube about how her Instagram account had been taken down and reported as spam. The 21-year-old sobbed over the idea of having to work a 9-5 job, which she claims she isn't cut out to do.
Taylor, who is from Tampa, Florida, claimed the reason she is ''worthless'' and will never have a job is that she ''brings nothing to the table.'' According to the Daily Mail, her account was likely mass marked as spam from trolls.
During the video, Taylor explained how she fears she will become a ''homeless prostitute in the f**king street doing meth'' without her successfully monetized Instagram account.
''I know people like to see me be down and be like them and the 90 per centers '' the people who work 9-5 '' that is not me, I am in LA to not be like that,'' she tearfully said. ''I've worked so f****** hard to get to where I'm at and for that to get taken from me is the worst feeling in the world.''
She then dropped a bombshell as she told her viewers she used to be a sex worker. ''I was a prostitute. I used to strip every single day. I don't do that anymore because I make all my money online,'' Jessy continued. ''I don't want to go back to that life.''
Taylor then pleaded with her followers to follow her new account, which currently only has 3,500 followers. ''It literally sucks having people want to come after you for no reason. I don't think people understand that this is my life.''
Viewers tried to persuade her to go back to college in order to get some real life skills. ''What some of you guys have to realize is I have no skills, I'm twenty-f**king-thousand dollars in debt from college so I can't even go to college if I wanted to.''
After she stops crying, Taylor comes to the realization she has no skills to bring to would-be employers. ''I'm perfectly happy where I'm at. I have no job qualifications, I could never work a normal job. I'm worthless I bring nothing to the table, zero. I bring nothing to the table when it comes to that.''
She proceeded to explain how her previous jobs would fire her as she was always acting out. ''I'm always going to fight the people. I always get kicked out of places. I'm not work material I will never be work material.''
Ironically, the top comment for the video is, ''this video must be a parody of modern day millennials.'' That about sums it up.
VIDEO - 'Hot mess': Maxine Waters proves once again that she has no business chairing the House Financial Services Committee [video] '' twitchy.com
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 22:42
We know lefties love them some Auntie Maxine, but there's some pretty compelling evidence that Maxine Waters is not terribly bright. Like this, for example:
Maxine Waters appears to not know that the government nationalized students loans 10 years ago despite chairing a committee that regulates the banks'...? pic.twitter.com/9cqA1dv962
'-- Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) April 10, 2019
Ooooof. Maxine is apparently incapable of shame, so it's up to us to be embarrassed on her behalf. And man, are we embarrassed for her. This woman is the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, you guys.
I just showed this to my husband, a bank executive. He's dying. ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ‚🂠#NoWeDoNotDoStudentLoans #ShouldntYouKnowThat
'-- JayhawkMama (@JHawkintheSouth) April 10, 2019
I'm laughing and angry at the same time.
'-- Jonny Mack (@jmcgurn_mack) April 10, 2019
The inmates are running the asylum.
pic.twitter.com/FdFqUcyOiB
'-- pat renken (@husetsfan) April 10, 2019
pic.twitter.com/6QSKnTIJKt
'-- The Valinator (@GigCityChick) April 10, 2019
pic.twitter.com/H7uDEBRzGh
'-- Matt Davis (@mbdtx) April 10, 2019
pic.twitter.com/Lw2pqDMZW8
'-- William Colvard (@WilliamColvard) April 10, 2019
pic.twitter.com/2NFrDmeAPQ
'-- Hero Stick (@herostick) April 10, 2019
pic.twitter.com/YWUOknOnvL
'-- Christopher (@enjoytheday99) April 10, 2019
She'a a hot mess
'-- ProudDeplorable (@FUPittsburgh) April 10, 2019
She doesn't know it's Wednesday either.
'-- Dan Baren (@danbaren) April 10, 2019
It might be time for a national conversation about putting Auntie Maxine in a home. She's been at this sort of thing for some time now:
Maxine Waters "We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae" https://t.co/VFPVHZuwdW
'-- tjking (@tjking) April 10, 2019
Welp.
Just give her the Democratic presidential nomination now please. She's the most qualified'... 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
'-- Rich Tracchio (@rtracchio) April 10, 2019
Sad!
VIDEO - AP Interview: Pelosi: 'I don't trust Barr; I trust Mueller'
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 22:40
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday questioned Attorney General William Barr's independence from President Donald Trump, arguing Barr's pursuit of Trump's claims about ''spying'' during the 2016 campaign undermines his position as the nation's top law enforcement officer.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, the California Democrat said she was ''very concerned'' about Barr's handling of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the campaign and accused Barr of doing Trump's political bidding in his testimony at a Senate hearing.
''He is not the attorney general of Donald Trump. He is the attorney general of the United States,'' Pelosi told AP. ''I don't trust Barr, I trust Mueller.''
Pressure is mounting on the attorney general in the days before his release of a version of Mueller's nearly 400-page report, and Pelosi amplified the demands from Capitol Hill to see the full document. Barr said Wednesday he expects to release a redacted version within a week. Pelosi said it's only a ''matter of time'' before the full report is made public.
''We will see it,'' she said.
During Pelosi's 30-minute interview in her Capitol Hill office, she took stock of the Democrats' first 100 days as the House majority in the new Congress. And despite harsh words for Trump and his advisers, she still spoke hopefully of working with him on key issues '-- including lowering prescription drug prices '-- where the two share common goals.
At the same time, Pelosi vowed to keep up relentless Democratic oversight of the administration. And she did not fully close the door on impeachment proceedings, despite having recently dismissed efforts by liberal colleagues by saying Trump's ''not worth it.''
''My view is that impeachment is very divisive in the country, and when we see what we need to see it may be imperative that he be impeached. But up until then, he's not worth it,'' Pelosi said.
Much will hinge on Mueller's findings, putting the attorney general's credibility increasingly on the line.
Barr testified Wednesday before a Senate panel that he believes ''spying did occur'' on Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, aligning himself more closely with the president's views on the origins of the Russia investigation. Trump and other critics of the Russia probe claim that the precursor to Mueller's investigation was launched during the Obama administration by officials abusing their surveillance power. Mueller was appointed special counsel by Trump's Justice Department.
Barr didn't present evidence to support the assertion and later in his testimony appeared to backtrack, saying he wasn't certain that any wrongdoing occurred and was only interested in ensuring proper procedures were followed.
Pelosi said Barr's comments undermine the Constitution and his role in the Justice Department.
Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec declined to comment.
As House Democrats pursue oversight of the Trump administration beyond the Mueller probe, Trump has complained that Democrats will never be satisfied. He and his allies call it presidential harassment.
Asked what would satisfy Democrats, Pelosi said: ''I'll be satisfied when we have a new president of the United States who is a Democrat.''
As for the Mueller report, Barr's four-page summary of its main conclusions said the president was not exonerated by the special counsel. Mueller left open the question of whether Trump obstructed justice during the two-year probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr and his team at the Justice Department made their own decision to clear the president of criminal wrongdoing.
Pelosi said anew on Wednesday, ''Let us see the report.''
''The fact is the president has engaged in activities that are unethical, un-American. ... In every way he is unfit to be the president of the United States,'' she said.
''Is that an impeachable offense? Well it depends on what we see in the report. I set a very high bar for impeachment because I think it's very divisive in the country and one of our purposes is to unify, as our founders gave us guidance, e pluribus unum, from many one.''
Republicans say Pelosi is under great pressure from her liberal flank, including young colleagues such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but the speaker who has represented San Francisco for 30 years scoffed.
''I am from the left,'' she said. ''I'm a progressive Democrat from San Francisco ... and I'm proud of who I am.''
As the new Congress rounds out its 100-days milestone, the speaker said Democrats are doing far more than conducting oversight of the White House, even though she said that's their constitutional responsibility as an equal branch of government.
Though female candidates and voters helped usher Democrats to the majority, Pelosi said she's not insisting on having a woman -- or two women -- on the party's 2020 presidential ticket.
''Would I like to see one? Yes,'' she said. ''But it doesn't mean that if there isn't one ... that it's not a ticket that we should all get behind.''
She said she prefers to keep the House focused on pocketbook issues for everyday Americans -- lowering health care costs and investing in infrastructure '-- and new ethics rules, not on Trump.
''We are not just focusing on him,'' she said. ''We're focused on what we said we would do.''
___
Follow Lisa Mascaro on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lisamascaro
VIDEO - Tina Snider on Twitter: "@adamcurry'... "
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 21:35
Welcome home! This timeline is where you'll spend most of your time, getting instant updates about what matters to you.
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VIDEO - zyntrax on Twitter: "lmfao'... "
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 16:17
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VIDEO-41 mins tourrettes - owens | Search | C-SPAN.org
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 15:07
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VIDEO - Eric Swalwell Announces 2020 Run on 'Colbert,' Turns Focus to Gun Control
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 14:01
California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell joined the already-crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates on Monday by taking aim at gun rights.
Swalwell announced his candidacy on Monday's ''The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.''
''I talked to kids who sit in their classrooms afraid they'll be the next victims of gun violence,'' Swalwell told Colbert.
''They see Washington do nothing about it after the moments of silence.''
TRENDING: Trump Reportedly Preparing New Executive Orders To Clamp Down on Illegal Immigration
''They see lawmakers who love their guns more than our kids and none of that is going to change until we get a leader who is willing to go big on the issues we take on, be bold on the solutions we offer, and do good in the way that we govern. I'm ready to solve these problems. I'm running for president of the United States,'' Swalwell said.
Swalwell has made no secret of his opposition to gun rights.
And it would be a short war my friend. The government has nukes. Too many of them. But they're legit. I'm sure if we talked we could find common ground to protect our families and communities.
'-- Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 16, 2018
Is this candidate a threat to gun owners?0% (0 Votes)
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Swalwell is the 18th Democrat in the race for the party's nomination, according to NPR.
During an interview with Esquire that was published Monday, Swalwell listed among his goals that ''in our lifetime we could buy back and ban every single assault weapon.''
Swalwell cited gun control when asked about the issue that would differentiate him from the rest of the pack.
''I will be the first candidate to say that reducing gun violence has to be a top three issue. Last year I wrote a bill calling for a buy back and ban on assault weapons'--not just to ban future manufacturing, but to just take the 15 million that are out there and buy them back,'' he said.
So much for ''No one wants to take your guns.''
Eric Swalwell on semi-automatic rifles: 'Just take the 15 million that are out there and buy them back' https://t.co/7OoUNkVPRl
'-- Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) April 9, 2019
RELATED: Greta Van Susteren Will Return to TV with Weekend Political Show
In the interview, Swalwell praised the kinds of gun laws that Australia has had and that New Zealand is now considering.
Last week, New Zealand lawmakers moved forward a proposal to ban what it terms ''military-style'' semi-automatic guns and high-capacity magazines. Semi-automatic shotguns that could have detachable magazines and pump-action shotguns with a capacity beyond five rounds would also be banned, according to The Washington Post.
''And I'm inspired by this next generation, who lifted themselves up out of this Parkland tragedy and went to the town squares and the town halls and marched on the ballot box and took out a number of NRA-endorsed candidates,'' he said, referring to Democratic successes in the 2018 midterm elections.
Swalwell said he's not worried about taking on the National Rifle Association, calling the NRA out of step with Americans.
''I've seen that when I go across the country. The NRA '-- they are a paper tiger. They have us in fear that (if you support) any limitation on firearms, you would be in a position that the overwhelming majority of the country is against you. And I've just come to find out that's not the case at all,'' he said.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
VIDEO - Donald Trump Jr. on Twitter: "If you watch & RT one thing this year it should be this. @RealCandaceO articulates perfectly the failed Democat strategies that have kept so many Americans down for so long all to perpetuate their agenda of depend
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 12:19
@RealCandaceO articulates perfectly the failed Democat strategies that have kept so many Americans down for so long all to perpetuate their agenda of dependence and victimhood for votes.
pic.twitter.com/BZUwOdCiV6
VIDEO - San Francisco: The Human Toll of Bad Policy | NRATV
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 01:48
Taking Back the Narrative for a New Generation of Gun EnthusiastsSupported by Federal Premium
Guns aren't political. They're the symbolic representation of your right to live. It should scare all of us that we live in a country where something so critical is a taboo topic. I'm tired of the political correctness and dishonesty that have become so common in any conversation about guns. If we can't get past our own discomfort and talk about our freedom, we're doomed to lose it. On NOIR, I'm doing my part: challenging everyone, whether you're pro, anti or indifferent, to push past the politics and talk about this freedom on real terms.
And of course, it wouldn't be my show if I wasn't shooting some damn cool guns in the process.
'-- Colion Noir
VIDEO - New York declares measles emergency, blasts misinformation fueling outbreak - Reuters
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 00:34
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A measles outbreak in Brooklyn, primarily among Orthodox Jewish children, prompted New York City on Tuesday to declare a public health emergency, requiring unvaccinated people in the affected areas to get the vaccine or face fines
The city's largest outbreak since 1991 of the once virtually eradicated disease has mainly been confined to the Orthodox Jewish community in the borough's Williamsburg neighborhood, with 285 cases confirmed since October, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference. That's up sharply from only two reported cases in all of 2017.
''This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately,'' de Blasio said. He was joined by city health officials who decried what they called ''misinformation'' spread by opponents of vaccines.
The measles virus is highly contagious and can lead to serious complications and death. While there have been no confirmed deaths so far, 21 people have been hospitalized, with five admitted to intensive care, officials said. All but 39 of the confirmed cases are in children.
The outbreak is part of a broader resurgence in the United States, with 465 cases reported in 19 states so far this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The United States declared measles eliminated from the country in 2000 thanks to widespread vaccination, meaning it is no longer constantly present. But vaccination rates have declined in recent years, according to infectious disease experts.
The Brooklyn outbreak has been traced to an unvaccinated child who became infected on a visit to Israel, which is also grappling with an outbreak, according to New York City's Department of Health.
Officials from the Department of Health will check vaccination records of anyone who has been in contact with infected patients in certain parts of Brooklyn, officials said.
They will impose fines of up to $1,000 on those who have not received the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and cannot give other evidence of immunity, such as having previously had the measles.
It is the first time New York City has ordered mandatory vaccinations in recent history, according to health officials.
An illustration provides a 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle studded with glycoprotein tubercles in this handout image obtained by Reuters April 9, 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Handout via REUTERS 'PHONY ARTICLES AND STUDIES' Community leaders and doctors welcomed the move.
''We will make sure that everybody who is allowed will be vaccinated,'' Rabbi David Niederman, the president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, said in a phone interview. ''The schools are cooperating, everyone's cooperating.''
He said he had seen misinformation circulate around the tightly knit community, but that most families trusted the Health Department.
''You get phony, phony articles and studies, so yes, some people will fall for that,'' he said. ''They will do anything and everything to improve the health of their children.''
Doctors in affected communities said an anonymously produced anti-vaccine booklet targeting Orthodox Jews that contained false information had appeared in the mail over the last couple years, which had sown doubts and hesitancy among some parents.
''In general, the Orthodox community does immunize,'' said Dr. Joseph Kaplovitz, who works at the NYU Langone Stepping Stones Pediatrics clinic in Brooklyn's Borough Park.
Dr. Jeffrey Dick of Kindercare Pediatrics in Williamsburg said his practice had seen at least a dozen measles cases in recent months, but also an uptick in families seeking vaccinations as worry about the outbreak spread.
The mandatory vaccination order follows one from the Health Department last week requiring yeshivas and day-care programs serving Williamsburg's Orthodox Jewish community to exclude unvaccinated children or face fines or closure.
Another outbreak has hit Orthodox Jewish families in New York's Rockland County. Officials there banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces last month.
That order was overturned by a state judge on Friday, local media reported. The order is being appealed by Rockland officials.
Federal officials are also tracking outbreaks in New Jersey, California, Michigan and Washington state.
Slideshow (8 Images) A growing and vocal fringe of parents oppose vaccines believing, contrary to scientific evidence, that ingredients in the vaccines can cause autism or other disorders.
City officials also expressed alarm at reports of parents holding ''measles parties,'' where they intentionally expose their unvaccinated children to an infected child in the mistaken belief that doing so is a safe way to create immunity.
''I understand that parents may be afraid of getting their children vaccinated,'' said Oxiris Barbot, the city's health commissioner. ''I know that getting vaccinated is far safer than getting measles.''
Reporting by Jonathan Allen and Gina Cherelus; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Berkrot
VIDEO - Rep. Ted Lieu plays recording of Candace Owens statement on Adolf Hitler (C-SPAN) - YouTube
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 22:06
VIDEO - Hillary Clinton's Accent Evolution - YouTube
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 09:30
VIDEO - Hillary Clinton Put on Southern Accent for South Carolina Democratic Chairman - YouTube
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 09:29
VIDEO - When Politicians Lose Their Accents : NPR
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 09:22
Some say Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Midwestern accent has become less pronounced. Georgetown professor Deborah Tannen says politicians' voices often change, depending on their audience.
ARUN RATH, HOST:
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is one of the presidential hopefuls speaking at that GOP event. And the way Walker speaks has been getting some close scrutiny lately. Check out this clip from when he was running for governor of Wisconsin.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED SPEECH)
SCOTT WALKER: He's not only scared about the economy...
RATH: If you listen closely, you can hear that Midwestern accent kick in when he says economy.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED SPEECH)
WALKER: Scared about the economy...
RATH: Now take a listen to a more recent speech on his presidential campaign.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED SPEECH)
WALKER: You grow the economy in Washington.
RATH: Some outlets, like The New York Times, started calling out Walker, basically accusing him of losing that Wisconsin twang to appeal to a national audience as he runs for president. Is that fair, though? Are politicians really that different from the rest of us when it comes to code shifting their accents? We're turning to Georgetown University professor of linguistics Deborah Tannen to play accent police for us. Deborah, welcome.
DEBORAH TANNEN: So nice to be here.
RATH: So as you know, and probably many others, politicians changing their accents for their audience - not a new thing. Here's an example of President Obama that Jon Stewart had some fun with.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE DAILY SHOW")
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is good to be back in Puerto Rico.
(APPLAUSE)
JON STEWART: Que bueno.
(LAUGHTER)
STEWART: Barack Obama - que bueno - Puerto Rico...
(LAUGHTER)
RATH: So obviously we have no window into the president's brain to know if he was consciously trying to do that, but in terms of one's natural speech, if there is such a thing, just how fixed do people's accents tend to be?
TANNEN: We tend to assume that we have a baseline of speech that's going to be normal in all contexts, but the truth is, we all change our ways of speaking depending on who we're talking to. And so I think it's kind of a gesture of politeness to the people you're speaking to to try to say something in their own idiom. So to say (imitating Puerto Rican accent) Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico, I think, is a pretty natural thing. It's interesting how we react when politicians do it. Maybe we're kind of predisposed to think that anything a politician does is calculated and therefore suspect. But it's only reasonable, really, to adjust the way you're speaking to your audience.
RATH: I know I sound one way with my Indian relatives, another with my English and an entirely different way with American friends. Is it something that everybody does, or is it more common with, you know, code-switcher biracial people like the president or me?
TANNEN: I think everyone does it. I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. For part of my life, I was living in Detroit, and I remember a friend of mine commenting she could always tell when I had been speaking to my mother because my New York accent had come back.
RATH: (Laughter) Now, some people pull it off better than others, arguably. Hillary Clinton got mocked for adopting a kind of Southern drawl when she quoted a Reverend James Cleveland hymn. Let's hear a little bit of that.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED SPEECH)
HILLARY CLINTON: I don't feel no ways tired.
(APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: I come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy. I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me.
RATH: OK, so it's easy to mock. And as you've said, this is something that basically everybody does in different ways. But in terms of how people understand language, which is something you study, for people on the receiving end of hearing that, does - if someone is making an effort to sound like you, like your accent, do people like that?
TANNEN: That can vary by individuals. So it can - and I think this is a bit what's happening in the way we react to politicians. It can feel like, you have no right to speak that way. You're not from the South. You're not from Puerto Rico, so you should say Puerto Rico like all the other people from the place that you come from. I would suggest that people be a little more indulgent and compassionate and just listen to themselves and realize how differently they may speak in different contexts and maybe cut some politicians a bit more slack.
RATH: Deborah Tannen is professor of linguistics at Georgetown University. Deborah, thanks very much.
TANNEN: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOSING MY ACCENT")
NODZZZ: (Singing) Losing my accent - didn't recognize me calling. Losing my accent...
Copyright (C) 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.
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VIDEO - Facebook's "Truth Taskforce" - YouTube
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 15:16
VIDEO - Theresa May on Twitter: "Online companies must start taking responsibility for their platforms, and help restore public trust in this technology. We are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe. #OnlineSafety https://
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 12:19
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VIDEO - Kyle Griffin on Twitter: "Rep. Adam Schiff: "I don't regret calling out this President for what I consider deeply unethical and improper conduct, not a bit '... I think the moment that we start to think we should back away from exposing this kind
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 11:44
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VIDEO - Joe Biden for President 2020
Mon, 08 Apr 2019 04:12
Home bidengaffes 2019-03-27T15:47:23+00:00 Uncle Joe is back and ready to take a hands-on approach to America's problems! Joe Biden has a good feel for the American people and knows exactly what they really want deep down. He's happy to open up and reveal himself to voters and will give a pounding to anybody who gets in his way!
''I promise you, the president has a big stick.''
JOE BIDEN, APRIL 2012 (Referring to Obama)
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, 6/24/2014
Poor-OffAs campaign season warms up, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden attempt to appeal to blue-collar voters by sharing their financial woes.
Indian Accents & DonutsJoe Biden lets us know about the racial composition of 7-11's and Dunkin' Donuts' staff in Delaware.
''I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.''
JOE BIDEN, JAN 2007 (Referring to Obama)
''No man has a right to lay a hand on a woman, no matter what she's wearing.''
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, 2/24/2015
The Audacity of GropeSamantha Bee reports on Vice President Joe Biden's uncomfortable tendency to invade the personal space of women in his vicinity.
''Folks, I can tell you I've known eight presidents, three of them intimately.''
VIDEO - Sen. Jefferson Smith 🇺🇸ðŸ'± on Twitter: "Belgium has fallen. Unchecked illegal immigration led to an Islamic plurality that resulted in the election of Muslims, who now demand Sharia Law & strict adherence to their anti-Christian agenda. Let
Sun, 07 Apr 2019 19:46
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STORIES
Dangerous 'Superbug' Threat To New Jersey Quadruples, CDC Warns | Patch
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 15:23
health & fitness Shared from Point Pleasant, NJ UPDATE: The drug-resistant fungal infection has a bigger presence in NJ than originally thought. The CDC says it's a "global health threat." By Tom Davis, Patch National Staff | Apr 8, 2019 1:38 pm ET | Updated Apr 9, 2019 9:50 am ET The drug-resistant Candida auris has had a big impact in New Jersey, the CDC says. (CDC photo)The number of people stricken by a potentially dangerous, drug-resistant fungus infection has quadrupled in New Jersey over the past year, presenting what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling "a serious global health threat."
The cases of "Candida auris," a serious and sometimes fatal fungal infection that is emerging globally, have been identified in New Jersey and 11 other states across America, according to the CDC.
The CDC says there have been 101 confirmed cases of C. auris, otherwise known as the "Superbug," in New Jersey and 22 probable cases. The state Department of Health, however, says New Jersey has had 104 confirmed and 22 probable cases between June 2015 and end of February 2019.
The state trails only New York, which has had 309 confirmed cases, and Illinois, which has had 144. The CDC says there have been 587 confirmed cases across the country.
By contrast, in October 2017, CDC reported that New Jersey had 27 confirmed cases of the infection and 23 probable cases. At the time, the state's number was the second highest in the nation, behind only New York, which had 92 confirmed cases and 4 probable.
This yeast is difficult to identity and often does not respond to commonly used anti-fungal drugs, leading to high mortality, according to Rutgers University officials.
Based on information from a limited number of patients, the CDC says, 30''60 percent of people with C. auris infections have died. However, many of these people had other serious illnesses that also increased their risk of death.
"Most C. auris cases in the United States have been detected in the New York City area, New Jersey, and the Chicago area," according to the CDC.
Indeed, the disease has presented itself as enough of a threat that the CDC awarded Rutgers University a $300,000 contract over two years to fight the infection's spread as part of the CDC's Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative.
"It's acting like a superbug," Paige Armstrong, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, has said. "Without appropriate infection control and really a rigorous response, [it] could lead to even more cases in the United States."
The disease's presence in New Jersey first became public in 2016 when the CDC warned that two people in New Jersey and at least 7 people nationwide were stricken.
At the time, four of the patients '' including one in New Jersey '' died, although it is unclear whether all the deaths were associated with C. auris infection or underlying health conditions.
The New Jersey patient died in July 2015 after suffering from a brain tumor, according to the CDC. The agency did not say where the New Jersey cases took place.
Candida grows as yeast, and symptoms include difficulty swallowing, burning, genital itching and sometimes a cheese-like discharge that looks white, according to the CDC.
In 2009, C. auris was first described in a patient in Japan. There is documented transmission of C. auris to US patients from healthcare facilities in India, Pakistan, South Africa and Venezuela, according to the CDC.
Fungal infections often cause serious disease among patients with compromised immune systems or other debilitating conditions resulting in high morbidity and mortality. Globally, nearly 1.4 million deaths a year are attributed to invasive fungal infections, which is on par with deadly diseases like tuberculosis, according to the CDC.
Here are ways to avoid contracting the disease:
One of the best ways to prevent the spread of dangerous germs like C. auris in healthcare settings is good hand hygiene. Washing hands frequently can help prevent its spread.Early and accurate identification, rigorous infection control practices, and communication between facilities are key to reducing the spread in healthcare settings.Proper infection control involves consistent handwashing, use of personal protective equipment and cleaning and disinfection of medical equipment and the healthcare environment. When patients are transferred to other healthcare facilities, the receiving facilities should be notified of C. auris infection and the level of precautions recommended. Read more local news from Red Bank-Shrewsbury
The Office Rookies Who Ask for the World - WSJ
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 15:22
It can be an awkward standoff.
After only a year on the job, more young employees are approaching their managers for a promotion, asking, ''All right, I'm ready. What's next?'' says Christopher Kalloo of New York, who heads college relations for a big retailer. New hires have little patience with entry-level tasks, he says. ''They want to help with strategy. They want to help drive the business.''
Some managers say they're taken aback, wondering, ''Who do these rookies think they are?''
More than 75% of Gen Z members believe they should be promoted in their first year on the job, according to a recent survey of 1,000 participants ages 18 to 23 by InsideOut Development, a workplace-coaching company. Employers see similar patterns among younger millennials in their late 20s and early 30s.
The trend has managers scrambling to manage young employees' expectations without driving them out the door. Many are finding new ways to respond, by carving out step-by-step career paths for restless new hires, or handing out new titles or small bonuses. A few hold ''workversary'' celebrations for employees passing the one-year mark to recognize their accomplishments on the job.
Young employees who push too hard risk derailing their careers by projecting a sense of entitlement. Alex Klein, a vice president and recruiter at VaynerMedia, an 800-employee global agency based in New York, says new recruits are constantly questioning him about promotion opportunities. Many also ask to be considered for a raise earlier than the agency's customary timetable.
''Those are great questions to ask. I want to hire people who want to grow,'' Mr. Klein says. ''But you also need to leave the employer with the impression that you want to earn it.''
Their impatience can frustrate employers. Joseph Cacciola was dismayed when a talented recent college grad he'd hired grew restless after six months.
''She was having these crises of confidence, saying, 'Well, you haven't offered me a promotion, so I interviewed someplace else,' '' says Mr. Cacciola, a senior vice president for an entertainment company in New York. He arranged for her to take programming courses at the company's expense, but she still left for a higher-paying job because he couldn't offer her as big a raise as she wanted.
''If you try to do everything you can and it still doesn't work, I'm kind of like, 'Well, all right, so be it,' '' he says.
Competing to advance comes naturally to many new hires. ''This generation has been given permission by their parents and teachers and other authority figures to just go for it, go for the gold, ask for whatever you want,'' says Julie Jansen, author of a career book, ''I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This.''
Years spent in school, with its year-by-year advancement schedules and frequent feedback, leave them ill-prepared for a workforce in which promotion rates vary widely by employer and industry, says Jill Tipograph, the New York-based co-founder of Early Stage Careers, which helps prepare college grads for the workforce and mentors them on their first job. ''Young employees just think, 'Oh, I've been here a year, so that means I'm getting promoted, right?' '' she says. ''Promoted to what?''
Of course, many young employees with student-loan debt face genuine financial pressure. Only 30% of those surveyed by InsideOut are confident they'll be able to repay their loans.
Employers should temper and shape new hires' expectations by offering frequent feedback, clear information about realistic career paths and opportunities to build new skills, says Jody Michael, a Chicago career coach.
Ruben Moreno, who is 50, says he began a few years ago to see more recruits push for titles that exceed their skill level. ''The first time I ran into one of these, I thought, who does this person think they are?'' says Mr. Moreno, who leads the human-resources practice in Knoxville, Tenn., for Blue Rock Search Group, an executive recruiter.
''Historically, the company taps you when they think you're ready. Today, it's, 'What nifty promotion do you have for me?' '' he says. He now presents new hires with specific, step-by-step career paths, and meets with them at least quarterly to talk about their careers.
Joshua Jones, 31, was promoted twice in five years at a previous employer, an eyewear retailer, but he left because he wasn't satisfied with advancement opportunities there. When he joined Blue Rock last year as a recruiting manager, he told Mr. Moreno, ''I have a clear set of goals. If I'm not reaching them, I want to move on,'' he says. He did so well that he was promoted after six months, to director of executive recruiting.
Managers at companies with flattened hierarchies, where promotions are harder to come by, are offering more lateral moves. Ali Conn, 30, says she has spent almost seven years at a software company in Chicago because her managers helped her find new challenges, including roles as a team leader and a budget adviser. ''I like to feel I'm making a huge difference,'' says Ms. Conn, now a project manager there. ''I don't want to feel stuck in a role for more than a year, feeling I haven't contributed anything.''
Other employers create new titles for young workers. A 20-something man Mike Ruane placed in a sales job early last year was up front about his ambitions, asking, ''What progress can I expect there?'' says Mr. Ruane, a principal search consultant with M&F Talent Partners, a Chicago firm that recruits employees for suppliers of software and equipment to the legal cannabis industry. Just 13 months later, the sales rep got a small increase in his commission rate and the promotion he wanted, to lead a team. His new title would position him for a better job if he decided to change employers.
Other employers offer special recognition when employees pass the one-year mark. Tyler Do, digital marketing manager at Egnyte, a Mountain View, Calif., content-management platform for businesses, received a gift of Tazo tea with balloons. His boss, Colin Jordan, was behind the gesture, and tweeted a smiling picture of Mr. Do with the present.
Such recognition can help satisfy young workers' yen for feedback. Managers are always looking for ways to motivate and engage them, because the company's future depends on them, says Su Murthy, Egnyte's vice president of human resources. ''We're always looking at those points where we can celebrate their journey.''
Avoid the Entitlement TrapTo be promoted as rapidly as possible:
* Research the career paths of more experienced co-workers.
* Talk at least quarterly with your manager about your progress and goals.
* Never ask for a promotion unless you can present evidence that you've earned it.
* Seek out opportunities to learn new skills on your own.
* Find a colleague willing to mentor you and explain the workplace culture.
Write to Sue Shellenbarger at sue.shellenbarger@wsj.com
YouTube shut down comments on House hearing on white nationalism
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 15:22
Zach Gibson | Getty Images
WAlexandria Walden of Google LLC's Public Policy and Government Relations Counsel for Free Expression and Human Rights testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing discussing hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism on Capitol Hill on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC.
YouTube shut down the chat feature on a livestream of the House Judiciary Committee's hearing on white nationalism Tuesday after it was inundated with hateful comments.
TweetJust around the time that a representative from YouTube parent company Google spoke about the company's content moderation efforts, some noticed the live chat function had already been disabled. But commenters simply seemed to move to other streams of the video on YouTube's platform, enraged by the company's attempt to block their posts.
Screenshot
"Look at Google deciding for us what we can't see!" one commenter wrote on Fox Business channel's YouTube stream of the hearing. By Tuesday afternoon, the comment feature on the Fox Business live stream was also disabled.
Google confirmed to CNBC that the feature was disabled "[d]ue to the presence of hateful comments."
"Hate speech has no place on YouTube. We've invested heavily in teams and technology dedicated to removing hateful comments and videos and we take action on them when flagged by our users," the company said in a statement.
Tweet TweetThe incident is a microcosm of the problem YouTube and other social media platforms have faced when it comes to removing hate speech. The House Judiciary Committee called Tuesday's hearing to discuss tech's role in the spread of white nationalism and possible solutions, but the comments on its own stream underscore the complexity of that issue.
As YouTube apparently worked to disable the chat function on the House's official livestream, Alexandria Walden, a Google counsel for free expression and human rights, told the committee that users are bound to the company's community guidelines.
"I want to state clearly that every Google product that hosts user content prohibits incitement of violence and hate speech against individuals or groups based on specified attributes," Walden said in her opening statement. "We view both as grave social ills, so our policies go beyond what the U.S. requires."
Walden explained YouTube's system for flagging and removing content it deems harmful, which involves both human and machine intervention. But as recently as last month, these systems were tested following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 50 dead. Copies of a video of one of the shootings proliferated across the platform, with YouTube unable to keep up with the pace of uploads.
YouTube's decision to shut down comments on the House's stream did not prevent users from finding other ways to share their views on the topic, whether by commenting on other streams or sharing their own. One channel called Red Ice TV, which is run by people who the Anti-Defamation League describe as white supremacists, hosted its own stream of the hearing overlaid with its own commentary.
TweetGoogle did not immediately respond to questions about why comments on other streams of the hearing were still active, but they appeared to be disabled by Tuesday afternoon.
Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.
Watch: NZ Prime Minister: Police taking precautionary approach
Judicial Watch Sues State Department for Obama Ambassador Victoria Nuland's Communications Related to the Anti-Trump Dossier - Judicial Watch
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 13:46
Ambassador Nuland reportedly initially connected the author of the anti-Trump dossier, Christopher Steele, to the FBI.
(Washington, DC) '' Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State for communications between Obama Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Ambassador Victoria Nuland and employees of Fusion GPS, as well as top ranking Department of Justice, FBI, and State Department officials.
Nuland served as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from September 2013 until January 2017.
Judicial Watch filed the suit after the State Department failed to respond to a November 1, 2018, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:19-cv-00574)). Judicial Watch seeks:
Any and all records of communication between Ambassador Victoria Nuland and any of the following individuals between January 1, 2016 and January 25, 2017:
Professor Joseph Mifsud
Mr. Christopher Steele
Mr. Glenn Simpson
Mrs. Nellie Ohr
Former CIA Director John Brennan
Former Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy
Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates
Former Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General George Toscas
Former DOJ Official David Laufman
Former Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco
Former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr
Former FBI Director James Comey
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe
Former FBI Agent Peter Strzok
FBI Attorney Lisa Page
FBI Attorney James Baker
Former FBI Chief of Staff James Rybicki
FBI Assistant Director Edward William Priestap
Former FBI Agent John Giacalone
Former FBI Agent Michael Steinbach
Former FBI Agent Josh Campbell
The author of the anti-Trump dossier, Christopher Steele, reportedly had developed long-standing relationships with senior State Department officials including Ambassador Victoria Nuland, ''Between 2014 and 2016, Steele authored more than a hundred reports on Russia and Ukraine. These were written for a private client but shared widely within the State Department and sent up to Secretary of State John Kerry and to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who was in charge of the U.S. response to the Ukraine crisis.''
On February 4, 2018, in an interview on CBS' Face the Nation, Nuland stated that she had been given details of the anti-Trump dossier directly from Christopher Steele, which she then referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
[Steele] passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding. And our immediate reaction to that was, this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian Federation. That's something for the FBI to investigate. And that was our reaction when we saw this. It's not our '' our '' we can't evaluate this.
Nuland reportedly ''green lit'' the initial meeting about the anti-Trump dossier between Christopher Steele and FBI agent Michael Gaeta. Quoting from David Corn and Michael Isikoff's book Russian Roulette, ''The FBI checked with Victoria Nuland's office at the State Department: Do you support this meeting? Nuland, having found Steele's reports on Ukraine to have been generally credible, gave the green light.''
''We intend to find out how far the Deep State was willing to go in their effort to discredit then-candidate Donald Trump,'' said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. ''It seems the Obama administration engaged in a no-holds-barred attempt to clear the path for Hillary Clinton. Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuits have already shown the Obama State Department was corruptly targeting President Trump.''
Judicial Watch earlier released 42 pages of heavily redacted State Department documents containing classified information that was provided to Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump. The documents show Russian political interference in elections and politics in countries across Europe.
Judicial Watch also released two sets of heavily redacted State Department documents, 38 pages and 48 pages, showing classified information was disseminated to multiple U.S. Senators by the Obama administration immediately prior to President Donald Trump's inauguration. The documents reveal that among those receiving the classified documents were Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Sen. Robert Corker (R-TN).
###
Austin ranks first for in US News & World Report's Best Places to Live in America list | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 13:26
For the third year in a row, Austin has been declared the best city to settle down in the United States.
The US News & World Report released its 2019 Best Place To Live in America list on Tuesday, only for the Texas city to once again reign supreme.
Coming in second and third were Colorado cities Denver and Colorado Springs, respectively, followed by Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Des Moines, Iowa.
For the third year in a row, Austin has been declared the best city to live in America
The US News & World report evaluated the 125 most populous metropolitan areas in America for the list, examining everything from affordability to quality of life and job prospects.
It considered each city's availability of health care, crime rates, and median household income.
How many people were moving to the city or leaving it - known as net migration - was also a major factor.
In addition to these statistics, the site also polled 2,500 people from across the US and asked where they would prefer to live to create a desirability index.
The US News & World Report released its 2019 Best Place To Live in America list on Tuesday, only for the Texas city to once again reign supreme. In second place was Denver, Colorado
Colorado Springs, Denver took the third spot with a perfect 10/10 desirability rating
Coming in fourth was Fayetteville, Arkansas, which was experienced 'drastic growth' in recent years and become a 'center of higher education, culture, commerce, and entrepreneurialism'
THE 20 BEST PLACES TO LIVE IN AMERICA 1. Austin, Texas
2. Denver, Colorado
3. Colorado Springs, Colorado
4. Fayetteville, Arkansas
5. Des Moines, Iowa
6. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
7. San Francisco, California
8. Portland, Oregon
9. Seattle, Washington
10. Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina
11. Huntsville, Alabama
12. Madison, Wisconsin
13. Grand Rapids, Michigan
14. San Jose, California
15. Nashville, Tennessee
16. Asheville, North Carolina
17. Boise, Idaho
18. Sarasota, Florida
19. Washington, D.C.
20. Charlotte, North Carolina
Austin scored a 9 out of 10 in desirability and continues to have a net migration score higher than most cities on the list.
Denver scored an 8.8 in desirability while Colorado Springs got a perfect 10. The report explains that both Colorado cities have been doing well thanks to booming cannabis and construction industries, respectively.
Fayetteville only received a 5.5 in desirability, but received nothing lower than a 7 in terms of value, job market, quality of life, or net migration.
The report fond that Fayetteville has experienced 'drastic growth' in recent years and become a 'center of higher education, culture, commerce, and entrepreneurialism'.
Des Moines may be known as a fly-over state, but it received sky high marks in value, job market, quality of life, and net migration as well.
While no Pacific Northwest city hit the top five, the West Coast still did well overall.
San Francisco jumped from number 20 to number 7 this year, and was joined in the top 10 by Portland and Seattle, while San Jose, California nabbed the 14th spot.
The same can't be said for the East Coast. Washington DC was the only Northeast city to make the top 20, falling to number 19 after earning the eighth spot last year.
Des Moines may be known as a fly-over state, but it received sky high marks in value, job market, quality of life, and net migration and took the fifth spot
San Francisco jumped from number 20 to number 7 this year, and was joined in the top 10 by Portland and Seattle, while San Jose, California nabbed the 14th spot
Meanwhile, New York City found itself all the way in 90th place.
'Our Northeastern cities, which are epicenters of higher education and economic development, are not growing nearly as much as places in Florida, California and Texas,' Devon Thorsby, real estate editor for US News & World Report, said in a statement.
'Plus, they are expensive to live in. Top-ranked places have the characteristics people are looking for, including steady job growth, affordability and a high quality of life.'
San Juan, Puerto Rico took the last spot once again as it continues to recover from the 2017 Hurricane Maria.
Washington DC was the only Northeast city to make the top 20, falling to number 19 after earning the eighth spot last year
Terence Corcoran: The Liberals manipulate a climate report to justify handouts to Loblaws | Financial Post
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 12:21
In a huge coincidence last week, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna leaked '-- to the CBC '-- her department's latest official climate change report on the very same day her government's new carbon-tax regime came into effect in four provinces.
The government-owned flagship news program, The National, sprang to attention. Host Rosemary Barton kicked off the Monday night show by cranking up the volume on ''Canada's Changing Climate Report'' from Environment Canada scientists:
''Tonight a dire warning for Canada's climate. The country is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. According to virtually every climate scientist, climate change is already here. Temperatures have risen and are expected to keep rising with dramatic and increasingly disastrous impacts. And today we are learning that in Canada, that goes double. A government report from Environment and Climate Change Canada, years in the making, confirms that Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. Far from being a safe haven, Canada has been directly in the climate crosshairs. And barring drastic global action, more is coming.''
As with much of climate science, there are reasons to doubt the worst predictions
Along with CTV News and other media, the CBC fell for the media manipulation trick. They gobbled down Environment Canada's easy-to-digest ''Headline Statements'' which on quick reading gave the impression that Canada had become something of a global inferno. Warming in Canada is double global levels driven by human influence leading to thinning glaciers, storm surges, sea-level rising, more chance of devastating flooding.
The CBC then moved on to the official Liberal message: Bring on the desperately needed carbon tax! And '-- as we learned this week '-- bring on what promises to be a steady blizzard of climate announcements, like Monday's news that the Loblaw grocery giant will receive a $12-million subsidy to retrofit its refrigeration systems and make them greener. As one wise-guy noted on Twitter, the Liberals will be giving a measly average $307 carbon-tax rebate to Canadian families but handing $12-million to Loblaw, which earns billions in revenue but has a history of pandering to green populism. Apparently the supermarket chain's already-subsidized solar panels aren't doing enough to make the store fridges sufficiently green.
There's more to come. The Loblaw cash is part of a $450-million low-carbon economy ''investment'' fund now being distributed across the country. If they average $12 million each, that implies another three-dozen staged media events over the next few months leading up to the election.
The one-sentence justification for the carbon tax and coming corporate-subsidy bonanzas is the headline: Canada warmed at a rate double the magnitude of global warming. The claim is essentially meaningless, as Guelph University economist Ross McKitrick points out elsewhere in FP Comment today. Since most of the earth's surface is ocean, the average temperature over any land mass is bound to be higher than the global average, since land gets warmer faster than water does.
That warming is taking place seems beyond dispute, but by how much from which cause and to what effect is unclear. It might be good for Canada. In Chapter Four of the new Environment Canada report, the authors predict that winter temperatures will increase more than summer temperatures. ''There will be progressively more growing degree days (a measure of the growing season, which is important for agriculture) and fewer freezing degree days,'' implying less severe winters. Sounds good.
Contrary to claims of insurers and others, Canada has not experienced increases in extreme weather events. There have been more hot days and fewer extreme cold days in recent years, but while future extreme-temperature days could increase fire and flood events in future, there's little evidence of such events so far. ''The observational record has not yet shown evidence of consistent changes in short-duration precipitation extremes across the country,'' the report acknowledges.
The report reaches ambiguous conclusions on two major Canadian environmental events, the 2013 southern Alberta flood and the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire.
On the flood, the report states that while greenhouse gases increased the likelihood of extreme, flood-producing rainfall, ''confidence in this attribution is low because of the difficulties in modelling precipitation extremes, which exhibit large variability at small scales, such as for this event.''
The report claimed ''medium confidence'' that climate change increased the wildfire risk associated with the Fort McMurray event. ''The assessment of medium confidence balances high confidence in human influence on the increase in temperature, which affects fire risk strongly, with many other factors contributing to this event that are more difficult to represent in a climate model.''
The report turns sensational when it looks to the future, mostly based on a selection of climate models and projections that are beyond the ken of most humans, including some scientists. A good example is the projections of rising sea level to the year 2100.
Among the problems is the fact that in parts of Canada the land is rising, and in other parts it's sinking. Around Hudson Bay, the ''relative sea level'' is falling because the ''rate of uplift'' in the land is increasing due to geological movements. In Atlantic Canada, where land masses are falling, the sea-level rise appears greater. The sea level at Halifax, where the land is falling, has been rising for more than a century.
As with much of climate science, there are reasons to doubt the worst predictions, especially about rising sea levels. While the media jumped aboard Environment Canada's sea-level projections, the science remains highly speculative, some say improbable. In a paper last year, U.S. climate scientist Judith Curry warned '' extreme values of possible sea level rise are regarded as extremely unlikely or so unlikely that we cannot even assign a probability.''
And so it goes with climate science reports, where the worst extremes are routinely trotted out as the new normal.
PewDiePie Picks DLive as Exclusive Live-Streaming Platform '' Variety
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 12:07
PewDiePie, YouTube's most popular individual creator, is throwing his weight behind DLive '-- a live-streaming video service that promises far better economic terms for creators than other major platforms.
The vlogger-gamer-comedian, whose name is Felix Kjellberg, says he will use DLive exclusively (for the next several months, anyway) to present weekly live-streams. PewDiePie is slated to kick off his first official DLive stream on Sunday, April 14, at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, at dlive.tv/pewdiepie and the DLive app.
DLive is built on top of the Lino Network blockchain-based currency system. The DLive service doesn't take a cut of the revenue generated by live-streaming creators through subscriptions or digital ''gifts'' and it pledges that it never will. That's compared with other providers, including Amazon's Twitch, which keeps 50% of channel subscription revenue. In addition, DLive generates credits to reward other participating live-streamers based on consumption of their content.
''I'm excited to start live-streaming again regularly,'' Kjellberg said in a statement. ''DLive is great for me because I'm treated like a real partner just like all of the other streamers on their unique platform.''
In his first DLive live-stream, PewDiePie says he will donate between $10,000 and $50,000 (in Lino Points, the platform's currency) to other creators who are live-streaming on the platform as a way to encourage more uptake, Kjellberg said in a video Tuesday.
''DLive is a place where instead of competing against each other, it benefits creators to support one another,'' said Wilson Wei, co-founder of Lino Network. ''PewDiePie has always been a fierce advocate for the value that creators bring with their hard work, time and effort, and he believes in DLive's vision.''
Financial terms of PewDiePie's deal with DLive and Lino are not being disclosed.
PewDiePie has more than 93 million subscribers on YouTube '-- making him far and away the biggest individual creator on the video site. For the past few weeks, Kjellberg has been engaged in a back-and-forth battle with India's T-Series for the No. 1 YouTube most-subscribed position.
Lino Network, based in Cupertino, Calif., was founded in July 2017. The startup last year raised $20 million in funded led by ZhenFund, a Beijing-based venture-capital firm, with participation from FBG Capital, DFund, and INBlockchain. According to Wei, Lino Network (whose name is a contraction of ''livestream now'') has about 30 employees.
DLive is the first service built on top of Lino. It launched in September 2018 and claims to have over 3 million monthly active users and 35,000 active streamers; some of the most popular creators are NoahFromDlive, Ltzonda, and DabPlays. The service is available the web at dlive.tv and via Android and iOS apps. According to Wei, DLive and Lino Network are independent companies that have collaborated closely with each other.
PewDiePie is supporting DLive because ''this particular platform was able to support a lot of what he's going after in terms of innovation and support for other creators,'' said Kat Peterson, co-founder of influencer-media company re6I (ReelSix) and a member of Kjelllberg's management team.
''This was a really good fit for him,'' Peterson said. ''This platform is able to support creators, in terms of the revenue share, in a way that is hugely favorable to the creator.'' He's donating Lino Points to other creators ''to get everybody on the platform excited that he's there,'' she added.
And, of course, Kjellberg sees a business opportunity to generate a new revenue stream from fans, either through live-stream subscriptions or gifting on the DLive platform.
PewDiePie remains a controversial figure: He's been the target of criticism for making anti-Semitic jokes and using racist language in the past, and lost business deals with Maker Studios and YouTube as a result of his over-the-line stunts. Meanwhile, the attacker in last month's New Zealand mass shootings reportedly urged people to ''subscribe to PewDiePie''; since then, more than 79,000 people have signed a Change.org petition to have PewDiePie banned from YouTube for ''normalizing white supremacy.''
In a video posted Sunday, Kjellberg apologized again for his past offensive comments (including when he uttered the N-word in a livestream) but disputed many of the petition's claims as false: ''As laughable as some of these points are, a lot of people are obviously taking it seriously,'' he says. ''If you don't know anything about me'... then obviously it paints a really bad picture that just isn't true.''
DLive says it gives 90.1% of all subscription and gift revenue directly to creators (in the form of Lino Points). To reward the most popular live-streamers, the other 9.9% goes into a pool that rewards people based on their contributions to the network on a daily basis.
While DLive doesn't take a cut of creators' revenue, there are processing fees from third-party providers associated with converting Lino Points into actual cash and vice versa. (The exchange rate is currently fixed at 1.2 cents per Lino Point.) For example, PayPal charges 40 cents per transaction plus a 4.4% of the total transaction value to purchase Lino Points.
What is Lino's ultimate the business model? Wei declined to comment on how the company expects to earn money. ''We are growing fast '-- monetizing is not in our short-term plans,'' he said. ''Our sole focus is on growth.''
As far as DLive's streaming infrastructure, Wei said it uses industry-standard components and employs content delivery services including Amazon's AWS.
How Watergate Changed America's Intelligence Laws - HISTORY
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 12:01
In December 1974, just four months after Nixon's resignation, New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh revealed the existence of a long-running CIA intelligence program targeting U.S. citizens, a direct violation of its charter. Hersh had, in part, sourced his information on the CIA's own internal review, begun after it was revealed that two of the Watergate burglars had formerly worked for the CIA, and had been given assistance by the agency following the break-in. The review, informally known as the ''family jewels'' detailed a litany of illegal and inappropriate activities undertaken by the agency from the 1950s onwards.
While the CIA would not fully declassify most of the ''family jewels'' report until 2007, Congress swung into action. On January 27, 1975, a special 11-member investigative body was established to look into abuses of power by the nation's intelligence agencies. Chaired by Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho, the Church committee called more than 800 witnesses over the course of nine months, including several former officials from both the FBI and CIA.
Most of the hearings were held behind closed doors to protect intelligence sources, but a few, carefully selected cases of misconduct were investigated in televised sessions. Among those were a CIA biological agents program, the FBI's COINTELPRO (a wide-ranging counter-intelligence program targeting domestic groups as disparate as the KKK, the Communist Party and the Black Panthers) and a series of secret programs led by the National Security Agency known as Operation Shamrock and Project Minaret.
''Shamrock'' was a three-decade long surveillance program in which the NSA gained access (without obtaining warrants) to the international telegram records of all three major telecommunication companies. Ostensibly created to obtain intelligence on foreign agents, the program had expanded to include surveillance of American citizens and was intercepting some 150,000 messages a month. Another warrantless program, ''Minaret,'' saw more than 5,900 foreigners added to NSA watch lists, and an additional 1,600 U.S. citizens (including Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr., and a number of notable anti-Vietnam War activists) targeted. The FBI was also accused of illegally monitoring more than 200,000 pieces of mail to obtain intelligence, again without obtaining a warrant.
Among the revelations (first revealed during the Watergate hearings) was the scope of the Nixon White House's ''Huston Plan,'' named after the administration aide who drafted it, which called for additional, coordinated domestic spying on left-wing activists via burglary and electronic surveillance, and even proposed the creation of domestic detention camps that could house anti-war protestors. The plan was initially approved by President Nixon and by the directors of nearly all the intelligence agencies, and was only squashed after FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover opposed it.
In the wake of the findings of the Church Committee, Congress created permanent intelligence oversight committees in both the Senate and House. They also proposed the creation of the Foreign Service Intelligence Act. The bipartisan bill, which passed the House 246-128 and the Senate 95-1, was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on October 25, 1978.
A key component of the act was the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a tribunal tasked with reviewing requests from law enforcement and intelligence agencies such as the FBI and National Security Agency seeking permission to undertake wiretap surveillance on any ''foreign power or an agent of a foreign power'' within the United States. The FISA court was initially comprised of seven federal district court judges (expanded to 11 judges in 2001), who are appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States and serve staggered, non-renewable terms of seven years. Details of warrant requests are not disclosed, only the number of requests that have been approved or denied. As of 2013 more than 34,000 such requests have been made, and only a dozen rejected (although the government has withdrawn some requests on their own). The court has been harshly criticized by many, including civil liberties advocates, who see it as a too acquiescent to government requests, functioning as a mere ''rubber stamp.''
FISA has been significantly amended in the four decades since it went it effect. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks the newly-signed USA Patriot Act expanded the duration of FISA surveillance orders, allowed authorities to share information placed before a grand jury with other federal agencies and, most critically (and controversially) permitted authorities to gather foreign intelligence information on both U.S. citizens and non-citizens.
The 2007 Protect America Act, passed in the wake of revelations of widespread warrantless wiretapping during the Bush administration, further amended FISA to remove requirements for a warrant for federal surveillance of both foreign intelligence targets outside the U.S. and anyone in the United States (including U.S. citizens) communicating with them and granted immunity to telecommunications companies who provided access to data to law enforcement agencies. Additional amendments were made by the by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and the 2015 USA Freedom Act, passed after the scandal surrounding NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, which aimed to end the NSA's bulk collection of U.S. telephone records and provide greater transparency in the work of the FISA court system.
For more information on one of the biggest scandals in U.S. history, tune-in to the 3-night special Watergate, premiering Friday, November 2 at 9/8c.
Tesla and Panasonic freeze spending on $4.5bn Gigafactory - Nikkei Asian Review
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 11:12
OSAKA --Tesla and Panasonic are freezing plans to expand the capacity of their Gigafactory 1, the world's largest EV battery plant, as concerns mount on Wall Street about weakening demand at Elon Musk's car company.
The partners had planned to raise capacity by 50% by next year, but financial problems have forced a rethink, Nikkei has learned.
Tesla is a top maker of electric vehicles, and Panasonic one of the biggest producers of the batteries that power them. These companies are shifting their strategy reflects the EV industry's thin profits.
It also highlights a problem that can only be solved by attracting more buyers, which in turn requires further innovation to drive down production costs.
The Gigafactory has been making batteries for the Model 3, Tesla's new small sedan, since January 2017. Panasonic manufactures the cells, and Tesla assembles them into battery packs.
The companies had intended to expand the plant's capacity to the equivalent of 54 gigawatt hours a year by 2020, up from 35 GWh at present.
Tesla and Panasonic have invested $4.5 billion in the plant. Six months ago, in October, Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga said the company would consider "further investment in North America, keeping in step with Tesla." It was reportedly considering putting an additional 100 billion yen to 150 billion yen ($900 million to $1.35 billion) into the Gigafactory.
Panasonic's Tesla EV battery business had operating losses exceeding 20 billion yen in the financial year that ended in March, up from a year earlier. The losses were exacerbated by delays in the start of production of the Model 3.
Tesla's unit sales fell about 30% in January to March versus the previous quarter, hurt by slower growth in China, smaller tax breaks for electric vehicles and problems with logistics. This has made the companies more cautious about the future, although they plan to continue joint operation of the plant.
Wall Street analysts have recently raised concerns about weakening demand for the Model 3. In an April 4 report, Goldman Sachs analysts said, "Volume expectations for the company's products in 2019 are too high, with consumer demand likely lower as subsidies phase out in the U.S."
Tesla is scheduled to launch a small SUV, the Model Y, that is likely to use the same batteries as the Model 3. The two companies will reevaluate their expansion plans for the Gigafactory in 2020 or later, depending on how well the models sell.
"We will of course continue to make new investments in Gigafactory 1, as needed," a Tesla spokesperson told Nikkei.
Panasonic will also suspend its planned investment in Tesla's integrated automotive battery and EV plant in Shanghai. Instead, it will provide technical support and a small number of batteries from the Gigafactory. Tesla is committed to buying batteries for the cars built at the Shanghai factory from a number of makers.
Prices for Tesla cars start at $35,000 for the Model 3, its lowest-priced model. Batteries make up about half the cost of an EV.
Given the relatively small profit margin on these cars, significantly cutting battery prices will be difficult without further technological advances. And lowering sticker prices is crucial to getting more EVs on the road.
Julian Assange Arrested in London After Ecuador Withdraws Asylum
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 11:08
Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, was arrested on Thursday by London's Metropolitan Police service, which said in a statement officers were ''invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of asylum.''
Video of Assange being dragged from the embassy was captured on a live stream set up by Ruptly, a Russian government news agency.
Wikileaks confirmed that Assange was arrested inside the embassy.
URGENT
Julian Assange did not "walk out of the embassy". The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.
'-- WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Assange, 47, will be held at a central London police station until an appearance at Westminster Magistrates' Court can be arranged, the police said. The force explained that it was acting on a warrant issued by that court after Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012, violating bail conditions by not returning to court for a hearing on his attempt to resist extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning on sexual assault allegations.
In May 2017, Swedish prosecutors announced they were closing their investigation into the sexual assault allegations in light of Assange's asylum and the time that had elapsed.
Ecuador's president, Len­n Moreno, released a video statement explaining his decision to withdraw the diplomatic asylum granted to Assange by his predecessor, accusing Assange of ''discourteous and aggressive behavior,'' ''hostile and threatening declarations against Ecuador and especially the transgression of international treaties.''
''He particularly violated the norm or not intervening in the internal affairs of other states,'' Moreno added.
Moreno also said that British authorities had offered him a guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could be tortured or face the death penalty. That seemed like a clear reference to the United States, where, the United States attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia accidentally revealed in November that it had filed a secret indictment charging Assange with crimes related to Wikileaks disclosures.
Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who was convicted of leaking military and diplomatic files to Wikileaks before having her sentence commuted by former President Barack Obama, is currently in jail for refusing to testify about her decision in 2010.
Wikileaks has claimed in recent weeks that Ecuador had turned against Assange because of what Moreno took to be Assange's part in the alleged hacking of his own phone.
Corruption investigation opened against Ecuador's president Moreno, after purported leaked contents of his iPhone (Whatsapp, Telegram) & Gmail were published. New York Times reported that Moreno tried to sell Assange to US for debt relief. https://t.co/0KFcBrnUfr
'-- WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 25, 2019
Last week, after private photographs of Moreno and his family were posted online, the president told the Ecuadorean Radio Broadcasters' Association that Assange did not have the right to ''hack private accounts or phones'' while enjoying diplomatic asylum.
Although Moreno did not directly connect Assange to that leak, Reuters reported that his government said it believed the photos were shared by WikiLeaks.
Assange's arrest was condemned by many supporters, including Edward Snowden, who reminded journalists that the United Nations had ''formally ruled his detention to be arbitrary, a violation of human rights.''
Important background for journalists covering the arrest of Julian #Assange by Ecuador: the United Nations formally ruled his detention to be arbitrary, a violation of human rights. They have repeatedly issued statements calling for him to walk free''including very recently. pic.twitter.com/fr12rYdWUF
'-- Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 11, 2019
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested by police in London
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 10:31
Breaking News EmailsGet breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
April 11, 2019, 9:41 AM GMT / Updated April 11, 2019, 10:07 AM GMT
By Patrick Smith and Alex Johnson
LONDON '-- Julian Assange, the fugitive founder of WikiLeaks and publisher of state secrets that embarrassed governments across the world, was arrested in London on Thursday almost seven years after he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Assange was wanted by British police for skipping bail in August 2012, while he was under investigation for sexual assault and rape in Sweden.
London's Metropolitan Police said the Ecuadorian government had withdrawn asylum for Assange, adding that officers had been "invited into the embassy by the ambassador."
Footage shot by the Ruptly news agency showed a bedraggled Assange being carried out of the building by seven men.
As he was bundled into a waiting police van, Assange shouted: "You must resist. You can resist ... the U.K. must resist."
He was taken to a local police station and is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court "as soon as is possible," authorities said.
The Australian national has maintained that if forced to leave the embassy he would eventually be extradited to the U.S. to face charges.
WikiLeaks said in a tweet that Assange's political asylum had been "illegally terminated in violation of international law."
The group has repeatedly claimed that the Justice Department is building a criminal case centered on the leaking of Democratic emails hacked by the Russians in the 2016 election.
URGENTJulian Assange did not "walk out of the embassy". The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.
'-- WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, told a congressional hearing in February that former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone was in contact with Assange before WikiLeaks released leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee.
Assange, 47, has always maintained that the source of the leaks was not Russia, contrary to the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies.
Special counsel Robert Mueller recently concluded his probe into Russian electoral interference and the Trump campaign.
Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 and made news four years later with the publication of leaked information provided by Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst and self-described whistleblower.
These included a video of a U.S. military helicopter fatally shooting people in Iraq, and thousands of classified military logs revealing sensitive information about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, thought to be the biggest leaks in U.S. military history.
Manning last month refused to testify before a federal grand jury looking into the release of documents to WikiLeaks.
A truck carrying a poster featuring WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last week. Peter Nicholls / ReutersIn November 2010, the Swedish government issued an international arrest warrant for Assange in connection with allegations of sexual assault and rape from two women. Assange, who has denied the allegations, surrendered to British police the following month and was released on bail '-- whereupon he fled, breaking the terms of his bond agreement.
Assange's lawyers have often warned that he would be handed over to U.S. prosecutors because of WikiLeaks' publication of classified documents. Rafael Correa, then the president of Ecuador, granted him asylum in 2012.
Sweden later dropped its investigation and Assange is no longer wanted there '-- but he remained in the embassy because London's Metropolitan Police said he would be arrested for violating his bail as soon as he stepped outside. The local force has been running an expensive operation to post officers outside the building in case that happens.
Assange became an Ecuadorian citizen last year, even though his relations with his hosts had soured years ago.
In 2016, the Ecuadorian government cut off his access to the internet in the embassy after WikiLeaks published a trove of emails from Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. The government said it was trying to make sure he couldn't interfere in the affairs of other countries.
In January, WikiLeaks sent a 5,000-word email to journalists listing 140 things they should not say about Assange, from asserting that he has been an agent of any intelligence service to that he has ever bleached his hair.
Patrick Smith reported from London, and Alex Johnson from Los Angeles.
Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter from NBC News Digital.
Alex Johnson Alex Johnson is a senior writer for NBC News covering general news, with an emphasis on explanatory journalism, data analysis, technology and religion. He is based in Los Angeles.
H.R.1957 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Taxpayer First Act of 2019 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 10:08
Sponsor: Rep. Lewis, John [D-GA-5] (Introduced 03/28/2019) Committees: House - Ways and Means; Financial Services Latest Action: Senate - 04/10/2019 Received in the Senate. (All Actions) Tracker:This bill has the status Passed House
Here are the steps for Status of Legislation:
IntroducedArray( [actionDate] => 2019-04-09 [displayText] => Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Ways and Means. H. Rept. 116-39, Part I. [externalActionCode] => 5000 [description] => Introduced)
Passed HouseArray( [actionDate] => 2019-04-09 [displayText] => Passed/agreed to in House: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.(text: CR H3151-3162) [externalActionCode] => 8000 [description] => Passed House)
Passed SenateTo PresidentBecame Law Summary (1) Text (3) Actions (12) Titles (3) Amendments (0) Cosponsors (28) Committees (2) Related Bills (7) Go to: Summary: H.R.1957 '-- 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)There is one summary for H.R.1957. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.
Shown Here: Introduced in House (03/28/2019) Taxpayer First Act of 2019
This bill modifies requirements for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding its organizational structure, customer service, enforcement procedures, management of information technology, and use of electronic systems.
The bill includes provisions that
establish the IRS Independent Office of Appeals to resolve federal tax controversies without litigation; require the IRS to develop a comprehensive customer service strategy; continue the IRS Free File Program; exempt certain low-income taxpayers from payments required to submit an offer-in-compromise; modify tax enforcement procedures that address issues such as the seizure of property, issuing a summons, joint liability, referral for private debt collection, and contacting third parties; establish requirements for responding to Taxpayer Advocate Directives; permanently authorize the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Matching Grant Program; modify procedures for whistle-blowers; establish requirements for cybersecurity and identify protection; prohibit the rehiring of certain IRS employees who were removed for misconduct; allow the IRS to require additional taxpayers to file returns electronically; and increase the penalty for failing to file a return. The bill requires the IRS Commissioner to appoint a Chief Information Officer, modifies the requirements for managing information technology, and authorizes streamlined critical pay authority for certain IRS information technology positions.
The bill also requires the IRS to implement
an Internet platform for Form 1099 filings, a fully automated program for disclosing taxpayer information for third-party income verification using the Internet, and uniform standards and procedures for the acceptance of electronic signatures.
Congress Is About to Ban the Government From Offering Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax. '-- ProPublica
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 10:04
ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom based in New York. Sign up for ProPublica's Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox as soon as they are published.
Just in time for Tax Day, the for-profit tax preparation industry is about to realize one of its long-sought goals. Congressional Democrats and Republicans are moving to permanently bar the IRS from creating a free electronic tax filing system.
Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., passed the Taxpayer First Act, a wide-ranging bill making several administrative changes to the IRS that is sponsored by Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Mike Kelly, R-Pa.
In one of its provisions, the bill makes it illegal for the IRS to create its own online system of tax filing. Companies like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, and H&R Block have lobbied for years to block the IRS from creating such a system. If the tax agency created its own program, which would be similar to programs other developed countries have, it would threaten the industry's profits.
''This could be a disaster. It could be the final nail in the coffin of the idea of the IRS ever being able to create its own program,'' said Mandi Matlock, a tax attorney who does work for the National Consumer Law Center.
Stay InformedGet ProPublica's Daily Digest.
Experts have long argued that the IRS has failed to make filing taxes as easy and cheap as it could be. In addition to a free system of online tax preparation and filing, the agency could provide people with pre-filled tax forms containing the salary data the agency already has, as ProPublica first reported on in 2013.
The Free File Alliance, a private industry group, says 70% of American taxpayers are eligible to file for free. Those taxpayers, who must make less than $66,000, have access to free tax software provided by the companies. But just 3% of eligible U.S. taxpayers actually use the free program each year. Critics of the program say that companies use it as a cross-marketing tool to upsell paid products, that they have deliberately underpromoted the free option and that it leaves consumer data open to privacy breaches.
The congressional move would codify the status quo. Under an existing memorandum of understanding with the industry group, the IRS pledges not to create its own online filing system and, in exchange, the companies offer their free filing services to those below the income threshold.
One member of the Free File Alliance explicitly told shareholders that the IRS ''developing software or other systems to facilitate tax return preparation '... may present a continued competitive threat to our business for the foreseeable future.''
The IRS' deal with the Free File Alliance is regularly renegotiated and there have been repeated, bipartisan efforts in Congress to put the deal into law.
Read More Those efforts have been fueled by hefty lobbying spending and campaign contributions by the industry. Intuit and H&R Block last year poured a combined $6.6 million into lobbying related to the IRS filing deal and other issues. Neal, who became Ways and Means chair this year after Democrats took control of the House, received $16,000 in contributions from Intuit and H&R Block in the last two election cycles.
Neal, who describes himself as a longtime champion of the existing Free File program, has argued that it would ''would help low- and moderate-income taxpayers.''
Free File Alliance Executive Director Tim Hugo called it ''a great idea when you can provide a great product '-- free tax returns '-- to Americans at no cost to the federal government.'' An H&R Block spokesperson said the company believes ''Free File should be the subject of ongoing improvement, and we are committed to working with all parties to strengthen and improve Free File on behalf of the American taxpayer.''
Spokespeople for Neal, Lewis and Kelly did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the provision. A companion Senate bill with the same provision has been introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
While efforts to make the IRS' deal with the tax preparation industry permanent have fizzled in the past, critics are particularly worried this year. The Taxpayer First Act also includes a provision that would restrict the IRS' use of private debt collectors to those above a certain income. A Wyden spokesperson said the current bill is a ''bipartisan, bicameral compromise so it includes priorities of both chairmen and ranking members.'' Wyden ''supports giving the IRS the resources it needs to offer more services to taxpayers,'' the spokesperson added.
Update, April 10, 2019: Following the publication of this story, the Taxpayer First Act is getting new scrutiny in Congress. The bill is before the Senate, where its sponsors are now disputing that it permanently bars the IRS from offering its own tax filing service. But some legal experts disagree.
Do you have information about the IRS or the tax preparation industry? Contact Justin Elliott at [email protected] or via Signal at 774-826-6240.
Uber wants to raise $10 billion in IPO - Axios
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 10:01
Uber on Thursday will disclose plans to raise $10 billion in its IPO, as first reported by Reuters. This would set up an investor road-show for the week of April 29, and a listing in early May.
Why it matters: The S-1 filing should provide us with a much more complete understanding of Uber's finances, which to date have been selectively self-disclosed.
Where it ranks: At $10 billion, Uber's IPO would be the largest so far in 2019 and among the 10 largest of all time.
Price talk: Bankers reportedly pitched Uber last year on a $120 billion initial public valuation, compared to its last private mark of $72 billion, but word is that expectations have been scaled back below $100 billion (possibly due, in part, to Lyft's soft aftermarket performance).
Digging deeper: "Contribution margins, a measure that's meant to show which businesses can operate profitably, will be one tool provided for digging through its spreadsheets. Uber calculates its contribution margin by tacking on more costs than Lyft does, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Uber's more conservative metric may give investors a better sense of its business, even if it makes direct comparisons with Lyft more difficult." '-- Eric Newcomer & Olivia Zaleski, Bloomberg
First Ever Image Of Black Hole Reveals "The Gates Of Hell, The Point Of No-Return" | Zero Hedge
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 09:59
Astronomers have captured the first-ever image of a black hole using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) - a network of eight radio telescopes spanning the globe at various locations including Antarctica, Spain and Chile - which creates an effective telescope the size of the earth.
The results were presented simultaneously by teams in Tokyo, Washington, Brussels, and Santiago de Chile.
"This major discovery provides visual evidence for the existence of black holes and pushes the boundaries of modern science," said the European Commission in Brussels in a Wednesday statement.
The image shows a halo of dust and gas steadily "feeding" the black hole's fuzzy doughnut-shaped accretion disc, according to The Guardian. The colossal black hole is located at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster 55-million light-years from Earth.
We are "looking at a region we cannot imagine, the gates of hell, the point of no-return," said Heino Falcke - Professor of Astroparticle Physics and Radio Astronomy at Radbound University Nijmegen and chair of the EHT Science Council. "To me, it's awe-inspiring, but it's also important for physics."
At the event horizon, light is bent in a perfect loop around the black hole, meaning if you stood there you would be able to see the back of your own head. The observations also provide one of the most stringent tests to date of Einstein's theory of general relativity: this predicts a rounded shape of the black hole's halo, in line with what EHT has observed. -The Guardian
Scientists say they observed the source for four days and ''the size is always the same, it doesn't change and we measured the contrast between the ring itself and the central darkness,'' Astrophysicist Monika Moscibrodzka from Radboud University Nijmegen said. ''This kind of structure can only be formed if something is rotating -- could be matter around it or black hole itself. Images give sense of direction of rotation, which is clockwise. We are looking at the shadow of the black hole.'' -Bloomberg
"If immersed in a bright region, like a disc of glowing gas, we expect a black hole to create a dark region similar to a shadow '-- something predicted by Einstein's general relativity that we've never seen before," said Falcke. "This shadow, caused by the gravitational bending and capture of light by the event horizon, reveals a lot about the nature of these fascinating objects and allowed us to measure the enormous mass of M87's black hole."
"Black holes are the most mysterious objects in the universe. We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have taken a picture of a black hole," said EHT director and Harvard University senior research fellow, Sheperd Doeleman - who led the project involving more than 200 scientists.
The EHT network detects radiation emitted by particles within the accretion disc that are heated to billions of degrees as they circle the black hole at close to the speed of light - before vanishing.
The halo's crescent-like appearance in the image is because the particles in the side of the disc rotating towards Earth are flung towards us faster and so appear brighter. The dark shadow within marks the edge of the event horizon, the point of no return, beyond which no light or matter can travel fast enough to escape the inexorable gravitational pull of the black hole.
Black holes were first predicted by Einstein's theory of relativity '' although Einstein himself was sceptical that they actually existed. Since then, astronomers have accumulated overwhelming evidence that these cosmic sinkholes are out there, including recent detection of gravitational waves that ripple across the cosmos when pairs of them collide. -The Guardian
When EHT launched observations in 2017, the program had two primary targets; Sagittarius A - the black hole in the middle of the Milky Way which has a mass of around 4m suns. The second target was the one which yielded the image above - a supermassive black hole into which the equivalent of 6bn suns of light are estimated to have disappeared.
Success meant simultaneous coordination between teams and clear skies on several continents at the same time. Observations were coordinated using atomic clocks known as hydrogen masers - which are accurate to within one second every 100 million years. One night in 2017 - the conditions were perfect.
"We got super lucky, the weather was perfect," said EHT member Ziri Younsi based at University College London.
According to The Guardian, the observations are already giving scientists insights into how space behaves near a black hole - where gravity is so extreme that reality as we perceive it becomes distorted beyond recognition.
Scientists are also hoping to understand more about the origin of jets of radiation that are blasted out from the poles of some black holes at close to the speed of light, creating brilliant beacons that can be picked out across the cosmos.
However, the observations do not yet reveal anything about the black hole's inscrutable interior.
''The black hole is not the event horizon, it's something inside. It could be something just inside the event horizon, an exotic object hovering just beneath the surface, or it could be a singularity at the centre '... or a ring,'' said Younsi. ''It doesn't yet give us an explanation of what's going on inside.'' -The Guardian
EHT science council chair Heino Falcke said: "The big question for me is whether we'll ever be able to transcend that limit. The answer may be maybe not. That's frustrating but we'll have to accept it."
Feds seize $4.5 million Avenatti plane amid tax scandal | Fox News
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 09:56
LOS ANGELES '' Embattled lawyer Michael Avenatti was the subject of a federal warrant Wednesday that resulted in the seizure of his private jet, worth about $4.5 million.
A U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman, Thom Mrozek, confirmed to Fox News that federal agents seized a Honda HA-420 twin-engine jet from Santa Barbara Airport about 10 a.m. after a federal judge issued a warrant.
The plane was originally scheduled to be flown Wednesday to Orange County on Avenatti's behalf, but pilots had to file a new flight plan to San Bernardino County.
A U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman, Thom Mrozek, confirmed to Fox News that federal agents seized a Honda HA-420 twin-engine jet from Santa Barbara Airport about 10 a.m. after a federal judge issued a warrant. (William La Jeunesse/Lee Ross)
''Federal authorities have seized a jet co-owned by Mr. Avenatti pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a federal judge. This seizure is related to the pending criminal case in Los Angeles,'' a federal official told Fox News.
Avenatti told Fox News on Wednesday: ''I haven't used the plane in almost a year and I gave up my interest last year. I have no interest in the plane and could care less.'' Fox News reached out to Avenatti's lawyer but received no response.
MICHAEL AVENATTI LIVED LUXURY LIFE WHILE AVOIDING PAYING TAXES FOR A DECADE, SAYS FEDERAL TAX AUTHORITIES
The six-seat business jet was flown by a private contract pilot to Chino Municipal Airport, where it is being held by Threshold Aviation.
Federal court records indicated that the plane, bought on Jan. 30, 2017, was registered to Passport 420, a company co-owned by Avenatti. A government complaint obtained by Fox News said Avenatti's wife, Lisa-Storie Avenatti, said he owned two private jets -- one through Avenatti & Associates and the other through Passport 420 -- and that each had a value of $4.5 million.
But, Avenatti disputed this, telling Fox News: ''I have never owned two planes either directly or indirectly and any claim to the contrary is complete nonsense.''
The warrant under which the plane was seized was under seal; Avenatti was accused last month of failing to pay income taxes for almost a decade despite making $18 million since 2010. Officials are also looking at his firm, which is said to have recorded $38 million in deposits but filed no tax returns.
MICHAEL AVENATTI'S LATEST ACCUSATIONS OF EXTORTING NIKE MARK END OF HIS SHOT AT REDEMPTION AFTER SPECTACULAR FALL FROM GRACE
Prosecutors did not disclose if the jet was seized to satisfy a judgment, or in connection with nonpayment of taxes.
Avenatti, who previously represented adult-film star Stormy Daniels in litigation against President Trump, has also been charged with wire and bank fraud in California. And federal prosecutors in New York accused the lawyer of attempting to extort about $25 million from Nike ''by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.''
Avenatti made a name for himself after representing Daniels when she sued Trump in March 2018, claiming that Trump paid her hush money ahead of the 2016 election over an alleged 2006 tryst.
The president has repeatedly denied her story.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
After repeated social media attacks on Trump and his former attorney Michael Cohen, Avenatti hinted that he would consider a run for the 2020 presidential election on the Democratic ticket.
Avenatti has since put to rest rumors of a bid for the White House and has ended his contract with Daniels.
Fox News' Lee Ross and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
Inside the (semi-)secret society for young Trump staffers - POLITICO
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 09:51
''They're trying to create an exclusive club because they've been banned from every other exclusive club in D.C.,'' a former campaign staffer said of the 45 Club. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images
politics
For members of 'the Team,' the 45 Club offers refuge in a hostile capital.
On the first Wednesday evening in February, Anthony Scaramucci entertained a packed house of like-minded souls at Rewind, a retro diner off Dupont Circle.
There, the former White House communications director fielded friendly questions and made cracks about his intra-Trump world vendettas against rivals like Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus.
Story Continued Below
The occasion was a meetup of the 45 Club, a private group reserved exclusively for President Donald Trump's current and former staffers.
The club, an informal gathering that provides solidarity and networking opportunities in a hostile Washington, is open to what it calls ''the Team'' '-- Trump administration appointees as well as alumni of the campaign, transition and inaugural committee. Members wear a lapel pin fashioned after the butt end of a .45 caliber bullet casing and attend semi-regular gatherings that often feature remarks by better-known Trump-world figures such as Brad Parscale, Corey Lewandowski and Scaramucci.
Its operations, described here for the first time, offer insight into how the anonymous foot soldiers of Trump's Washington have organized their social lives: discreetly, with an eye toward exclusivity and the aspirational lifestyle that has always marked the Trump brand.
Not quite a secret society, the club nonetheless goes to some lengths to fly under the radar: Public hints of its existence are scarce, and the locations of its events are withheld from attendees until they RSVP, all the better to evade the notice of pesky activists and nosy reporters. ''In this political climate, there's a lot of people who would not have pure intentions of coming to network,'' explained a former campaign staffer familiar with the club. ''They may be trying to infiltrate.''
Members of the 45 Club wear a lapel pin fashioned after the butt end of a .45 caliber bullet casing. | C/O Anonymous
While it is common for veterans of presidential campaigns and administrations to form alumni groups, the 45 Club has taken on an outsized role as a refuge for junior operatives and appointees who have few connections in the capital. Barack Obama's young staffers were the toast of Washington, and George W. Bush rode into town with a clubby, multi-generational political network that was heavy on the GOP establishment. But, in a reflection of his outsider campaign, Trump's hires often came from outside the traditional feeding grounds of Republican politics. And in a city that has largely shunned them '-- dating app profiles here often declare an unwillingness to meet Trump's supporters, let alone his aides '-- Trump's young aides have formed an insular social scene.
''When you've kept the Washington Illuminati at a distance, I think you're more likely to form groups of your own,'' explained one club member.
Of course, because this is the Trump administration, there has been infighting: The 45 Club has been the subject of internecine sniping over charges that it is run by hangers-on bent on exploiting their tenuous connections to the president.
''They're trying to create an exclusive club because they've been banned from every other exclusive club in D.C.,'' sniped one former campaign staffer.
''Ironically enough, the two guys who started it were never on the campaign, never in the administration,'' lamented Kevin Chmielewski, a member of the campaign's advance team who went on to serve at the Environmental Protection Agency. ''We were all kind of pissed about it, because it's like, 'Who are you to do that?'''
Nicholas Johns, a co-founder of the club who agreed to answer questions over email, took issue with such critiques. ''It's counterproductive to say that people that worked in one period or organization versus another are the 'true loyalists,''' said Johns, who staffed the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
The group's other co-founders are Paul Gates and Ryan O'Dwyer, according to a June 2017 email invite obtained by POLITICO. Gates, the younger brother of former Trump deputy campaign manager and Paul Manafort associate Rick Gates, was involved with the convention and Trump's inaugural committee. O'Dwyer is a principal at Turnberry Solutions, a lobbying firm that Lewandowski recently joined. He was a senior advance representative on the Trump campaign before working for USDA. O'Dwyer is no longer involved with the club, according to a person familiar with its operations, and Gates has not been seen at recent events, according to another.
The group has no official status and its founders took care not to use ''Trump'' in the club's name, instead alluding to his status as the 45th president. Nor is it clear whether the president is aware of its existence. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on that front. The group is not to be confused with the ''45 Club'' designation awarded by the Republican National Committee for donors who bundle $45,000, or with a monthly Tuesday night meet-up of Trump supporters in the lobby of the Trump Hotel.
The group's emails to members list a mailing address on E St. in Southeast, but a visit to the neighborhood reveals that no such address exists. Johns, who declined to say whether the club has been incorporated, said the address listing was a mistake, and that the emails should instead list a P.O. box.
In many ways, the club is more Toastmasters than Skull & Bones. It does not require any sort of initiation rituals (''having survived the Trump campaign was hazing enough,'' explained one member), and is used largely for networking.
The group '-- whose membership skews young and male '-- has held gatherings at the upscale Morton's steakhouse near the White House and thrown a Christmas Party at the Capital Yacht Club at the Wharf, a neighborhood popular among young Trump staffers.
But despite the air of exclusivity, the club's activities are constrained by members' junior-level government salaries. Most events are free to attend, with a cash bar. When the group organized its ''45 Club Island Takeover'' '-- a weekend retreat on the privately owned Saint Catherine's Island, about 50 miles south of Washington '-- last June, members could book a room to stay overnight for a reasonable $85.
Events offer opportunities for drinking and schmoozing, in addition to remarks by well-known Republican guests. Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, who spoke at one of the group's events, praised the club for adding ''a patina of intellectual something'' to its gatherings.
Sometimes, members plot to advance the president's agenda, as they did at a gathering called last fall at Morton's to discuss how they could get involved in his 2020 reelection campaign.
When the club formed in early 2017, Trump's disorderly transition to power had left many campaign veterans unsure whether they would land jobs in the administration, and they flocked to the group, using it as an unofficial jobs bank. Early events drew hundred-plus crowds.
Chmielewski's first impression of the group came at a sub rosa gathering at a private dining room in the basement of P.J. Clarke's, a saloon near the White House. ''The first one was kind of cool,'' he recalled. ''There was kind of an element of secrecy.''
Since then, as the novelty has waned, and the mad dash for administration appointments subsided, attendance at its gatherings has fallen off. ''It is likely that two years on, people have a strong friend group of their own, demanding professional lives, and other family commitments,'' Johns said.
But the club continues to hold events, and for those Trump loyalists who still show up, it still offers a warm bastion in a cold world.
''It's like being a Yankee in Yankee stadium,'' recalled Scaramucci of the friendly reception he received from the club. ''When I'm on CNN, it's like being a Yankee in Fenway Park.''
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JEDI cloud deal down to AWS and Microsoft -- FCW
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 22:30
Defense
JEDI cloud deal down to AWS and Microsoft By Lauren C. WilliamsApr 10, 2019An internal Defense Department investigation has concluded that its $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure procurement was not tainted by conflict of interest, but DOD did find some possible ethical violations on the part of former staffers with ties to Amazon Web Services.
"The department's investigation has determined that there is no adverse impact on the integrity of the acquisition process. However, the investigation also uncovered potential ethical violations, which have been further referred to DOD IG," Department of Defense spokeswoman Elissa Smith told FCW.
The probe was launched in response to a lawsuit brought by Oracle alleging conflict of interest on the part of two former AWS employees whose work for DOD touched the controversial JEDI procurement. That lawsuit was stayed in order for the DOD probe to take place. Now that it is over, DOD will seek to lift the stay. There's no word yet on whether DOD will seek to have Oracle's lawsuit dismissed.
Smith would not comment further on the substance of the suspected ethical violations, referring FCW to the DOD inspector general for comment.
Delays in the procurement process have weighed on the expected award date, which has moved from April to mid-July at the earliest, Smith said.
Microsoft and AWS are now the only two companies vying for the contract as they meet all of the requirements listed in the proposal, Smith said. Oracle and IBM (which protested the JEDI solicitation but did not joint in Oracle's lawsuit) are now officially out of the running.
Bloomberg was first to report on the results of the internal investigation.
About the Author
Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.
Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.
Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.
Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.
People
DHS chief Nielsen resigns Kirstjen Nielsen, the first Homeland Security secretary with a background in cybersecurity, is being replaced on an acting basis by the Customs and Border Protection chief. Her last day is April 10.
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How IBM Watson Overpromised and Underdelivered on AI Health Care - IEEE Spectrum
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 20:37
Illustration: Eddie GuyIn 2014, IBM opened swanky new headquarters for its artificial intelligence division, known as IBM Watson. Inside the glassy tower in lower Manhattan, IBMers can bring prospective clients and visiting journalists into the ''immersion room,'' which resembles a miniature planetarium. There, in the darkened space, visitors sit on swiveling stools while fancy graphics flash around the curved screens covering the walls. It's the closest you can get, IBMers sometimes say, to being inside Watson's electronic brain.
One dazzling 2014 demonstration of Watson's brainpower showed off its potential to transform medicine using AI'--a goal that IBM CEO Virginia Rometty often calls the company's moon shot. In the demo, Watson took a bizarre collection of patient symptoms and came up with a list of possible diagnoses, each annotated with Watson's confidence level and links to supporting medical literature.
Within the comfortable confines of the dome, Watson never failed to impress: Its memory banks held knowledge of every rare disease, and its processors weren't susceptible to the kind of cognitive bias that can throw off doctors. It could crack a tough case in mere seconds. If Watson could bring that instant expertise to hospitals and clinics all around the world, it seemed possible that the AI could reduce diagnosis errors, optimize treatments, and even alleviate doctor shortages'--not by replacing doctors but by helping them do their jobs faster and better.
Project: Oncology Expert AdvisorMD Anderson Cancer Center partnered with IBM Watson to create an advisory tool for oncologists. The tool used natural-language processing (NLP) to summarize patients' electronic health records, then searched databases to provide treatment recommendations. Physicians tried out a prototype in the leukemia department, but MD Anderson canceled the project in 2016'--after spending US $62 million on it.
Outside of corporate headquarters, however, IBM has discovered that its powerful technology is no match for the messy reality of today's health care system. And in trying to apply Watson to cancer treatment, one of medicine's biggest challenges, IBM encountered a fundamental mismatch between the way machines learn and the way doctors work.
IBM's bold attempt to revolutionize health care began in 2011. The day after Watson thoroughly defeated two human champions in the game of Jeopardy!, IBM announced a new career path for its AI quiz-show winner: It would become an AI doctor. IBM would take the breakthrough technology it showed off on television'--mainly, the ability to understand natural language'--and apply it to medicine. Watson's first commercial offerings for health care would be available in 18 to 24 months, the company promised.
In fact, the projects that IBM announced that first day did not yield commercial products. In the eight years since, IBM has trumpeted many more high-profile efforts to develop AI-powered medical technology'--many of which have fizzled, and a few of which have failed spectacularly. The company spent billions on acquisitions to bolster its internal efforts, but insiders say the acquired companies haven't yet contributed much. And the products that have emerged from IBM's Watson Health division are nothing like the brilliant AI doctor that was once envisioned: They're more like AI assistants that can perform certain routine tasks.
''Reputationally, I think they're in some trouble,'' says Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of the 2015 book The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine's Computer Age (McGraw-Hill). In part, he says, IBM is suffering from its ambition: It was the first company to make a major push to bring AI to the clinic. But it also earned ill will and skepticism by boasting of Watson's abilities. ''They came in with marketing first, product second, and got everybody excited,'' he says. ''Then the rubber hit the road. This is an incredibly hard set of problems, and IBM, by being first out, has demonstrated that for everyone else.''
Since 2011, IBM Watson has announced a multitude of projects in health care. How have they fared? See table ''So Far, Few Successes'' At a 2017 conference of health IT professionals, IBM CEO Rometty told the crowd that AI ''is real, it's mainstream, it's here, and it can change almost everything about health care,'' and added that it could usher in a medical ''golden age.'' She's not alone in seeing an opportunity: Experts in computer science and medicine alike agree that AI has the potential to transform the health care industry. Yet so far, that potential has primarily been demonstrated in carefully controlled experiments. Only a few AI-based tools have been approved by regulators for use in real hospitals and doctors' offices. Those pioneering products work mostly in the visual realm, using computer vision to analyze images like X-rays and retina scans. (IBM does not have a product that analyzes medical images, though it has an active research project in that area.)
Looking beyond images, however, even today's best AI struggles to make sense of complex medical information. And encoding a human doctor's expertise in software turns out to be a very tricky proposition. IBM has learned these painful lessons in the marketplace, as the world watched. While the company isn't giving up on its moon shot, its launch failures have shown technologists and physicians alike just how difficult it is to build an AI doctor.
The Jeopardy! victory in 2011 showed Watson's remarkable skill with natural-language processing (NLP). To play the game, it had to parse complicated clues full of wordplay, search massive textual databases to find possible answers, and determine the best one. Watson wasn't a glorified search engine; it didn't just return documents based on keywords. Instead it employed hundreds of algorithms to map the ''entities'' in a sentence and understand the relationships among them. It used this skill to make sense of both the Jeopardy! clue and the millions of text sources it mined.
Project: Cognitive Coaching SystemThe sportswear company Under Armour teamed up with Watson Health to create a ''personal health trainer and tness consultant.'' Using data from Under Armour's activity-tracker app, the Cognitive Coach was intended to provide customized training programs based on a user's habits, as well as advice based on analysis of outcomes achieved by similar people. The coach never launched, and Under Armour is no longer working with IBM Watson.
''It almost seemed that Watson could understand the meaning of language, rather than just recognizing patterns of words,'' says Martin Kohn, who was the chief medical scientist for IBM Research at the time of the Jeopardy! match. ''It was an order of magnitude more powerful than what existed.'' What's more, Watson developed this ability on its own, via machine learning. The IBM researchers trained Watson by giving it thousands of Jeopardy! clues and responses that were labeled as correct or incorrect. In this complex data set, the AI discovered patterns and made a model for how to get from an input (a clue) to an output (a correct response).
Long before Watson starred on the Jeopardy! stage, IBM had considered its possibilities for health care. Medicine, with its reams of patient data, seemed an obvious fit, particularly as hospitals and doctors were switching over to electronic health records. While some of that data can be easily digested by machines, such as lab results and vital-sign measurements, the bulk of it is ''unstructured'' information, such as doctor's notes and hospital discharge summaries. That narrative text accounts for about 80 percent of a typical patient's record'--and it's a stew of jargon, shorthand, and subjective statements.
Kohn, who came to IBM with a medical degree from Harvard University and an engineering degree from MIT, was excited to help Watson tackle the language of medicine. ''It seemed like Watson had the potential to overcome those complexities,'' he says. By turning its mighty NLP abilities to medicine, the theory went, Watson could read patients' health records as well as the entire corpus of medical literature: textbooks, peer-reviewed journal articles, lists of approved drugs, and so on. With access to all this data, Watson might become a superdoctor, discerning patterns that no human could ever spot.
''Doctors go to work every day'--especially the people on the front lines, the primary care doctors'--with the understanding that they cannot possibly know everything they need to know in order to practice the best, most efficient, most effective medicine possible,'' says Herbert Chase, a professor of medicine and biomedical informatics at Columbia University who collaborated with IBM in its first health care efforts. But Watson, he says, could keep up'--and if turned into a tool for ''clinical decision support,'' it could enable doctors to keep up, too. In lieu of a Jeopardy! clue, a physician could give Watson a patient's case history and ask for a diagnosis or optimal treatment plan.
Chase worked with IBM researchers on the prototype for a diagnostic tool, the thing that dazzled visitors in the Watson immersion room. But IBM chose not to commercialize it, and Chase parted ways with IBM in 2014. He's disappointed with Watson's slow progress in medicine since then. ''I'm not aware of any spectacular home runs,'' he says.
He's one of many early Watson enthusiasts who are now dismayed. Eliot Siegel, a professor of radiology and vice chair of information systems at the University of Maryland, also collaborated with IBM on the diagnostic research. While he thinks AI-enabled tools will be indispensable to doctors within a decade, he's not confident that IBM will build them. ''I don't think they're on the cutting edge of AI,'' says Siegel. ''The most exciting things are going on at Google, Apple, and Amazon.''
As for Kohn, who left IBM in 2014, he says the company fell into a common trap: ''Merely proving that you have powerful technology is not sufficient,'' he says. ''Prove to me that it will actually do something useful'--that it will make my life better, and my patients' lives better.'' Kohn says he's been waiting to see peer-reviewed papers in the medical journals demonstrating that AI can improve patient outcomes and save health systems money. ''To date there's very little in the way of such publications,'' he says, ''and none of consequence for Watson.''
AI's First Foray Into Health Care Doctors are a conservative bunch'--for good reason'--and slow to adopt new technologies. But in some areas of health care, medical professionals are beginning to see artificially intelligent systems as reliable and helpful. Here are a few early steps toward AI medicine. Robotic Surgery Image Analysis Genetic Analysis Pathology Currently used only for routine steps in simple procedures like laser eye surgery and hair transplants. Experts are just beginning to use automated systems to help them examine X-rays, retina scans, and other images. With genome scans becoming a routine part of medicine, AI tools that quickly draw insights from the data are becoming necessary. Experimental systems have proved adept at analyzing biopsy samples, but aren't yet approved for clinical use. Clinical-Decision support Virtual Nursing Medical Administration Mental Health Hospitals are introducing tools for applications like predicting septic shock, but they haven't yet proved their value. Rudimentary systems can check on patients between office visits and provide automatic alerts to physicians. Companies are rushing to offer AI-enabled tools that can increase efficiency in tasks like billing and insurance claims. Researchers are exploring such applications as monitoring depression by mining mobile phone and social media data. In trying to bring AI into the clinic, IBM was taking on an enormous technical challenge. But having fallen behind tech giants like Google and Apple in many other computing realms, IBM needed something big to stay relevant. In 2014, the company invested US $1 billion in its Watson unit, which was developing tech for multiple business sectors. In 2015, IBM announced the formation of a special Watson Health division, and by mid-2016 Watson Health had acquired four health-data companies for a total cost of about $4 billion. It seemed that IBM had the technology, the resources, and the commitment necessary to make AI work in health care.
Today, IBM's leaders talk about the Watson Health effort as ''a journey'' down a road with many twists and turns. ''It's a difficult task to inject AI into health care, and it's a challenge. But we're doing it,'' says John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president for cognitive solutions and IBM research. Kelly has guided the Watson effort since the Jeopardy! days, and in late 2018 he also assumed direct oversight of Watson Health. He says the company has pivoted when it needs to: ''We're continuing to learn, so our offerings change as we learn.''
Project: Sugar.IQMedtronic and Watson Health began working together in 2015 on an app for personalized diabetes management. The app works with data from Medtronic's continuous glucose monitor, and helps diabetes patients track how their medications, food, and lifestyle choices affect their glucose levels. The FDA-approved app launched in 2018.
The diagnostic tool, for example, wasn't brought to market because the business case wasn't there, says Ajay Royyuru, IBM's vice president of health care and life sciences research. ''Diagnosis is not the place to go,'' he says. ''That's something the experts do pretty well. It's a hard task, and no matter how well you do it with AI, it's not going to displace the expert practitioner.'' (Not everyone agrees with Royyuru: A 2015 report on diagnostic errors from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine stated that improving diagnoses represents a ''moral, professional, and public health imperative.'')
In an attempt to find the business case for medical AI, IBM pursued a dizzying number of projects targeted to all the different players in the health care system: physicians, administrative staff, insurers, and patients. What ties all the threads together, says Kelly, is an effort to provide ''decision support using AI [that analyzes] massive data sets.'' IBM's most publicized project focused on oncology, where it hoped to deploy Watson's ''cognitive'' abilities to turn big data into personalized cancer treatments for patients.
In many attempted applications, Watson's NLP struggled to make sense of medical text'--as have many other AI systems. ''We're doing incredibly better with NLP than we were five years ago, yet we're still incredibly worse than humans,'' says Yoshua Bengio, a professor of computer science at the University of Montreal and a leading AI researcher. In medical text documents, Bengio says, AI systems can't understand ambiguity and don't pick up on subtle clues that a human doctor would notice. Bengio says current NLP technology can help the health care system: ''It doesn't have to have full understanding to do something incredibly useful,'' he says. But no AI built so far can match a human doctor's comprehension and insight. ''No, we're not there,'' he says.
IBM's work on cancer serves as the prime example of the challenges the company encountered. ''I don't think anybody had any idea it would take this long or be this complicated,'' says Mark Kris, a lung cancer specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City, who has led his institution's collaboration with IBM Watson since 2012.
The effort to improve cancer care had two main tracks. Kris and other preeminent physicians at Sloan Kettering trained an AI system that became the product Watson for Oncology in 2015. Across the country, preeminent physicians at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, collaborated with IBM to create a different tool called Oncology Expert Advisor. MD Anderson got as far as testing the tool in the leukemia department, but it never became a commercial product.
Both efforts have received strong criticism. One excoriating article about Watson for Oncology alleged that it provided useless and sometimes dangerous recommendations (IBM contests these allegations). More broadly, Kris says he has often heard the critique that the product isn't ''real AI.'' And the MD Anderson project failed dramatically: A 2016 audit by the University of Texas found that the cancer center spent $62 million on the project before canceling it. A deeper look at these two projects reveals a fundamental mismatch between the promise of machine learning and the reality of medical care'--between ''real AI'' and the requirements of a functional product for today's doctors.
Watson for Oncology was supposed to learn by ingesting the vast medical literature on cancer and the health records of real cancer patients. The hope was that Watson, with its mighty computing power, would examine hundreds of variables in these records'--including demographics, tumor characteristics, treatments, and outcomes'--and discover patterns invisible to humans. It would also keep up to date with the bevy of journal articles about cancer treatments being published every day. To Sloan Kettering's oncologists, it sounded like a potential breakthrough in cancer care. To IBM, it sounded like a great product. ''I don't think anybody knew what we were in for,'' says Kris.
Watson learned fairly quickly how to scan articles about clinical studies and determine the basic outcomes. But it proved impossible to teach Watson to read the articles the way a doctor would. ''The information that physicians extract from an article, that they use to change their care, may not be the major point of the study,'' Kris says. Watson's thinking is based on statistics, so all it can do is gather statistics about main outcomes, explains Kris. ''But doctors don't work that way.''
In 2018, for example, the FDA approved a new ''tissue agnostic'' cancer drug that is effective against all tumors that exhibit a specific genetic mutation. The drug was fast-tracked based on dramatic results in just 55 patients, of whom four had lung cancer. ''We're now saying that every patient with lung cancer should be tested for this gene,'' Kris says. ''All the prior guidelines have been thrown out, based on four patients.'' But Watson won't change its conclusions based on just four patients. To solve this problem, the Sloan Kettering experts created ''synthetic cases'' that Watson could learn from, essentially make-believe patients with certain demographic profiles and cancer characteristics. ''I believe in analytics; I believe it can uncover things,'' says Kris. ''But when it comes to cancer, it really doesn't work.''
Do You Agree? Several studies have compared Watson for Oncology's cancer treatment recommendations to those of hospital oncologists. The concordance percentages indicate how often Watson's advice matched the experts' treatment plans. Sources: Journal of Clinical Oncology 2017; Cancer Research 2017; JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics 2018The realization that Watson couldn't independently extract insights from breaking news in the medical literature was just the first strike. Researchers also found that it couldn't mine information from patients' electronic health records as they'd expected.
At MD Anderson, researchers put Watson to work on leukemia patients' health records'--and quickly discovered how tough those records were to work with. Yes, Watson had phenomenal NLP skills. But in these records, data might be missing, written down in an ambiguous way, or out of chronological order. In a 2018 paper published in The Oncologist, the team reported that its Watson-powered Oncology Expert Advisor had variable success in extracting information from text documents in medical records. It had accuracy scores ranging from 90 to 96 percent when dealing with clear concepts like diagnosis, but scores of only 63 to 65 percent for time-dependent information like therapy timelines.
In a final blow to the dream of an AI superdoctor, researchers realized that Watson can't compare a new patient with the universe of cancer patients who have come before to discover hidden patterns. Both Sloan Kettering and MD Anderson hoped that the AI would mimic the abilities of their expert oncologists, who draw on their experience of patients, treatments, and outcomes when they devise a strategy for a new patient. A machine that could do the same type of population analysis'--more rigorously, and using thousands more patients'--would be hugely powerful.
But the health care system's current standards don't encourage such real-world learning. MD Anderson's Oncology Expert Advisor issued only ''evidence based'' recommendations linked to official medical guidelines and the outcomes of studies published in the medical literature. If an AI system were to base its advice on patterns it discovered in medical records'--for example, that a certain type of patient does better on a certain drug'--its recommendations wouldn't be considered evidence based, the gold standard in medicine. Without the strict controls of a scientific study, such a finding would be considered only correlation, not causation.
Kohn, formerly of IBM, and many others think the standards of health care must change in order for AI to realize its full potential and transform medicine. ''The gold standard is not really gold,'' Kohn says. AI systems could consider many more factors than will ever be represented in a clinical trial, and could sort patients into many more categories to provide ''truly personalized care,'' Kohn says. Infrastructure must change too: Health care institutions must agree to share their proprietary and privacy-controlled data so AI systems can learn from millions of patients followed over many years.
According to anecdotal reports, IBM has had trouble finding buyers for its Watson oncology product in the United States. Some oncologists say they trust their own judgment and don't need Watson telling them what to do. Others say it suggests only standard treatments that they're well aware of. But Kris says some physicians are finding it useful as an instant second opinion that they can share with nervous patients. ''As imperfect as it is, and limited as it is, it's very helpful,'' Kris says. IBM sales reps have had more luck outside the United States, with hospitals in India, South Korea, Thailand, and beyond adopting the technology. Many of these hospitals proudly use the IBM Watson brand in their marketing, telling patients that they'll be getting AI-powered cancer care.
Illustration: Eddie GuyIn the past few years, these hospitals have begun publishing studies about their experiences with Watson for Oncology. In India, physicians at the Manipal Comprehensive Cancer Center evaluated Watson on 638 breast cancer cases and found a 73 percent concordance rate in treatment recommendations; its score was brought down by poor performance on metastatic breast cancer. Watson fared worse at Gachon University Gil Medical Center, in South Korea, where its top recommendations for 656 colon cancer patients matched those of the experts only 49 percent of the time. Doctors reported that Watson did poorly with older patients, didn't suggest certain standard drugs, and had a bug that caused it to recommend surveillance instead of aggressive treatment for certain patients with metastatic cancer.
These studies aimed to determine whether Watson for Oncology's technology performs as expected. But no study has yet shown that it benefits patients. Wachter of UCSF says that's a growing problem for the company: ''IBM knew that the win on Jeopardy! and the partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering would get them in the door. But they needed to show, fairly quickly, an impact on hard outcomes.'' Wachter says IBM must convince hospitals that the system is worth the financial investment. ''It's really important that they come out with successes,'' he says. ''Success is an article in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that when we used Watson, patients did better or we saved money.'' Wachter is still waiting to see such articles appear.
Sloan Kettering's Kris isn't discouraged; he says the technology will only get better. ''As a tool, Watson has extraordinary potential,'' he says. ''I do hope that the people who have the brainpower and computer power stick with it. It's a long haul, but it's worth it.''
Some success stories are emerging from Watson Health'--in certain narrow and controlled applications, Watson seems to be adding value. Take, for example, the Watson for Genomics product, which was developed in partnership with the University of North Carolina, Yale University, and other institutions. The tool is used by genetics labs that generate reports for practicing oncologists: Watson takes in the file that lists a patient's genetic mutations, and in just a few minutes it can generate a report that describes all the relevant drugs and clinical trials. ''We enable the labs to scale,'' says Vanessa Michelini, an IBM Distinguished Engineer who led the development and 2016 launch of the product.
Watson has a relatively easy time with genetic information, which is presented in structured files and has no ambiguity'--either a mutation is there, or it's not. The tool doesn't employ NLP to mine medical records, instead using it only to search textbooks, journal articles, drug approvals, and clinical trial announcements, where it looks for very specific statements.
IBM's partners at the University of North Carolina published the first paper about the effectiveness of Watson for Genomics in 2017. For 32 percent of cancer patients enrolled in that study, Watson spotted potentially important mutations not identified by a human review, which made these patients good candidates for a new drug or a just-opened clinical trial. But there's no indication, as of yet, that Watson for Genomics leads to better outcomes.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs uses Watson for Genomics reports in more than 70 hospitals nationwide, says Michael Kelley, the VA's national program director for oncology. The VA first tried the system on lung cancer and now uses it for all solid tumors. ''I do think it improves patient care,'' Kelley says. When VA oncologists are deciding on a treatment plan, ''it is a source of information they can bring to the discussion,'' he says. But Kelley says he doesn't think of Watson as a robot doctor. ''I tend to think of it as a robot who is a master medical librarian.''
Most doctors would probably be delighted to have an AI librarian at their beck and call'--and if that's what IBM had originally promised them, they might not be so disappointed today. The Watson Health story is a cautionary tale of hubris and hype. Everyone likes ambition, everyone likes moon shots, but nobody wants to climb into a rocket that doesn't work.
So Far, Few Successes IBM began its effort to bring Watson into the health care industry in 2011. Since then, the company has made nearly 50 announcements about partnerships that were intended to develop new AI-enabled tools for medicine. Some collaborations worked on tools for doctors and institutions; some worked on consumer apps. While many of these alliances have not yet led to commercial products, IBM says the research efforts have been valuable, and that many relationships are ongoing. Here's a representative sample of projects.This article appears in the April 2019 print issue as ''IBM Watson, Heal Thyself.''
What McDonald's Big Bet on Data Means for the Industry - QSR magazine
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 17:34
When McDonald's acquired Dynamic Yield, it served as a massive wake up call to the entire restaurant and foodservice industry: machine learning in foodservice is not only here to stay, it will be the backbone of customer service and marketing across the industry within a decade.
Based solely on McDonald's financial performance, the idea that it needs to ''evolve'' its business in order to remain competitive may seem unusual. In 2018 alone, the chain reported $6 billion in net income, serving more than 68 million customers every day. But the opportunities presented by machine learning are so profound and lucrative that even the $300 million acquisition price will end up looking like a steal.
In many ways, the Dynamic Yield deal is directly in line with the innovation that made McDonald's famous to begin with: assembly line food preparation. Winding the clock back to when McDonald's first began, there was one problem it wanted to solve: speed. Faster food meant more customers could be served in less time and with lower overhead. In today's world, speed isn't enough'--anyone can get food fast'--the only higher ''gear'' you can shift into is prediction. That's exactly what McDonald's will do with Dynamic Yield: predict what the customer wants before they ever know they want it.
That level of speed isn't truly about getting customers their orders faster'--it's about increasing spend and building loyalty. The acquisition of Dynamic Yield is McDonald's ''Amazon moment:'' the point at which the brand becomes so good at anticipating and catering to consumer behaviors and desires that it will force all other competitors to evolve or fall by the wayside.
One dramatic example of McDonald's new predictive abilities through Dynamic Yield will be the ability to customize drive-thru menus instantly on any number of factors'--from the make and model of your car, to the time of day, to the weather outside. Through its machine learning model, the menu and offers you see driving your pickup truck during a hot work week (Big Macs and cold sodas) may be dramatically different than the menu seen when you're driving a station wagon on a cold weekend likely filled with a family (Happy Meals, hot coffee and cocoa).
This validates what we at Punchh already know based on our work with more than 160 global brands: the online world has trained customers, even in the physical world, to expect instant personalization, customization, and recommendations. Whether it's Amazon recommending another pair of shoes you may like based on your browsing or order history, or Netflix suggesting TV shows similar to the one you just binged, the idea of ''hunting'' through a store or a menu is something fewer customers want to do.
More to the point: every time you interact with a customer and don't offer them something highly customized and relevant to their personal interests, you are missing an opportunity to make a sale or earn their loyalty.
While endless stories have been written about the death of brick-and-mortar retail or restaurants due to Amazon or online food delivery, it is important to keep in mind that 90 percent of today's retail sales still happen offline. The challenges facing retailers are not about getting customers to come in'--the challenges are maximizing both the value they offer consumers and the value they derive from each visit. How you deliver and gain that value all comes down to the collection and use of data.
In fact, physical retailers have even more data than their online counterparts'--it's really one continuum and not two separate and siloed experiences. Big brands never have issues with not having enough data, they often have issues with not knowing what the data is telling them about their customers behaviors and habits.
This acquisition will give McDonald's data to increase sales at the point-of-purchase, by offering you favorite meal items and recommendations based on what is most popular with other customers. If customers go one step further and opt in to loyalty programs and identify themselves, every transaction will be tracked and you can become more relevant by serving up their favorites and recommending what others typically buy.
What's important to understand is to drive loyalty among your customers you need to cater to each one's individual needs. You don't drive loyalty by having one loyalty program targeting a million users, you actually need a million programs targeting each individual with relevant one-to-one personalized content.with
feeno on Twitter: "EP 54 of the @nowwhatpod -MICHAEL JACKSON - & why i changed my mind. this took weeks of research, learning and understanding the nuances of each case. learned a lot about myself in this process. hope y'all enjoy. let me know! watch an
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 17:17
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Volkswagen Engineer Gets Prison in Diesel Cheating Case - The New York Times
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 16:12
Business | Volkswagen Engineer Gets Prison in Diesel Cheating Case Image James Liang, a Volkswagen engineer, is the first employee sent to prison in the scandal that has tainted the company's reputation and cost it billions in fines and settlements with consumers. Credit Credit Virginia Lozano/Detroit News, via Associated Press DETROIT '-- A Volkswagen engineer was sentenced on Friday to 40 months in prison for his role in the German automaker's decade-long scheme to cheat on federal emissions tests for diesel-powered cars sold in the United States.
The engineer, James Liang, is the first company employee sent to prison in the vast scandal that has tainted Volkswagen's reputation and cost it more than $20 billion in fines and settlements with consumers.
Mr. Liang, who helped develop the software that concealed high levels of pollutants generated by Volkswagen's diesel engines, reached a plea deal with prosecutors last year after agreeing to assist in the government's investigation of the company.
But even after that pledge, Mr. Liang received a harsher sentence than the government recommended for pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating the Clean Air Act.
Federal prosecutors recommended a three-year sentence and a $20,000 fine, but Judge Sean F. Cox of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan gave Mr. Liang a longer sentence, as well as two years of supervised release and a $200,000 fine.
The judge said Mr. Liang and other Volkswagen executives and employees were responsible for a ''massive and stunning fraud'' that violated the trust that consumers need to have in goods and services purchased from corporations.
''This is a very serious and troubling crime against our economic system,'' he said. ''Without that trust in corporate America, the economy can't function.''
Mr. Liang, a 63-year-old German citizen, declined to address the judge at the sentencing. His lawyer, Daniel Nixon, portrayed the longtime engineer as remorseful for the crimes that made him the ''worldwide face'' of the emissions scandal.
''He was not the mastermind, but he did play a role,'' Mr. Nixon said, adding that Mr. Liang never benefited financially from aiding in the development of so-called defeat devices that masked the high levels of harmful diesel emissions.
But the judge said Mr. Liang was ''too loyal'' to the German automaker he had worked for since the 1980s, and unwilling to expose its deceptive practices or walk away from his $350,000-a-year job.
Although his cooperation with investigators has helped the government's cases against the company and other Volkswagen executives, the judge said it was not enough to allow Mr. Liang to be sentenced to home confinement, as his lawyer had requested.
''Your cooperation and regret is noted, but it doesn't excuse the conduct,'' the judge said.
Volkswagen has already pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act, as well as customs violations and obstruction of justice.
The company agreed to pay $4.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties in the case brought by the Justice Department. The penalties were part of $22 billion in settlements and fines that Volkswagen is paying in connection with the cheating scandal.
Six other Volkswagen executives have been indicted in the case, as well as one employee of the automaker's Audi luxury division.
One of the executives, Oliver Schmidt, has also reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Mr. Schmidt, the former head of Volkswagen's environmental and engineering center in Michigan, has been held without bail in prison since his arrest in January. Earlier this month, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government and violating the Clean Air Act.
Mr. Schmidt, who is to be sentenced in December, faces up to seven years in prison.
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Volkswagen Engineer Gets Prison in Diesel Emissions Cheating Scandal
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The "New Energy Economy" : An Exercise in Magical Thinking [Gas Transitions]
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 15:17
Dear reader,
The annual output of Tesla's Gigafactory, the world's largest battery factory, could store three minutes' worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. It would require 1,000 years of production to make enough batteries for two days' worth of U.S. electricity demand. Meanwhile, 50''100 pounds of materials are mined, moved, and processed for every pound of battery produced.
In this edition of Gas Transitions, we feature a ''guest article'' from physicist and energy expert Mark P. Mills, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and author of many books and articles on energy. Mills makes a strong case against the idea that the world could make a transition to an economy based on renewable energy. His views are important because if he is right, it means that it would be risky to focus solely on solar and wind energy, plus battery storage, to deal with the threat of climate change. We hope that this article, which was first published by the Manhattan Institute and is reprinted here with permission, will stimulate the debate about the energy transition on Natural Gas World. Comments are welcome as usual, please send them to karel.beckman@naturalgasworld.com
Karel Beckman
Executive Summary
A movement has been growing for decades to replace hydrocarbons, which collectively supply 84% of the world's energy. It began with the fear that we were running out of oil. That fear has since migrated to the belief that, because of climate change and other environmental concerns, society can no longer tolerate burning oil, natural gas, and coal'--all of which have turned out to be abundant.
So far, wind, solar, and batteries'--the favored alternatives to hydrocarbons'--provide about 2% of the world's energy and 3% of America's. Nonetheless, a bold new claim has gained popularity: that we're on the cusp of a tech-driven energy revolution that not only can, but inevitably will, rapidly replace all hydrocarbons.
This ''new energy economy'' rests on the belief'--a centerpiece of the Green New Deal and other similar proposals both here and in Europe'--that the technologies of wind and solar power and battery storage are undergoing the kind of disruption experienced in computing and communications, dramatically lowering costs and increasing efficiency. But this core analogy glosses over profound differences, grounded in physics, between systems that produce energy and those that produce information.
In the world of people, cars, planes, and factories, increases in consumption, speed, or carrying capacity cause hardware to expand, not shrink. The energy needed to move a ton of people, heat a ton of steel or silicon, or grow a ton of food is determined by properties of nature whose boundaries are set by laws of gravity, inertia, friction, mass, and thermodynamics'--not clever software.
This paper highlights the physics of energy to illustrate why there is no possibility that the world is undergoing'--or can undergo'--a near-term transition to a ''new energy economy.''
Among the reasons:
' Scientists have yet to discover, and entrepreneurs have yet to invent, anything as remarkable as hydrocarbons in terms of the combination of low-cost, high-energy density, stability, safety, and portability. In practical terms, this means that spending $1 million on utility-scale wind turbines, or solar panels will each, over 30 years of operation, produce about 50 million kilowatt-hours (kWh)'--while an equivalent $1 million spent on a shale rig produces enough natural gas over 30 years to generate over 300 million kWh.
' Solar technologies have improved greatly and will continue to become cheaper and more efficient. But the era of 10-fold gains is over. The physics boundary for silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells, the Shockley-Queisser Limit, is a maximum conversion of 34% of photons into electrons; the best commercial PV technology today exceeds 26%.
' Wind power technology has also improved greatly, but here, too, no 10-fold gains are left. The physics boundary for a wind turbine, the Betz Limit, is a maximum capture of 60% of kinetic energy in moving air; commercial turbines today exceed 40%.
' The annual output of Tesla's Gigafactory, the world's largest battery factory, could store three minutes' worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. It would require 1,000 years of production to make enough batteries for two days' worth of U.S. electricity demand. Meanwhile, 50''100 pounds of materials are mined, moved, and processed for every pound of battery produced.
Introduction
A growing chorus of voices is exhorting the public, as well as government policymakers, to embrace the necessity'--indeed, the inevitability'--of society's transition to a ''new energy economy.'' (See Peak Hydrocarbons Just Around the Corner.) Advocates claim that rapid technological changes are becoming so disruptive and renewable energy is becoming so cheap and so fast that there is no economic risk in accelerating the move to'--or even mandating'--a post-hydrocarbon world that no longer needs to use much, if any, oil, natural gas, or coal.
Central to that worldview is the proposition that the energy sector is undergoing the same kind of technology disruptions that Silicon Valley tech has brought to so many other markets. Indeed, ''old economy'' energy companies are a poor choice for investors, according to proponents of the new energy economy, because the assets of hydrocarbon companies will soon become worthless, or ''stranded.''[1] Betting on hydrocarbon companies today is like betting on Sears instead of Amazon a decade ago.
Peak Hydrocarbons Just Around the Corner
'' [Clean tech is] a perfect example of a 10x exponential process which will wipe fossil fuels off the market in about a decade.'' '--Tony Seba, Stanford economist
'' Until now, observers mostly paid attention to the likely effectiveness of climate policies, but not to the ongoing and effectively irreversible technological [energy] transition.'' '-- Jean-Fran§ois Mercure, Cambridge University
'' [By] 2030, the cost [of solar] could be so near to zero it will effectively be free.'' '-- Sam Arie, UBS research analyst
'' The world is experiencing a global energy transformation driven by technological change and new policy priorities.'' '-- European Union, Mission Possible report for the G20
'' Global shift to clean energy is under way, but much more needs to be done.'' '-- Letter to G7 Summit by 288 of the world's largest investors
'' A carbon tax should increase every year until emissions reductions goals are met [which] ... will encourage [carbon-free] technological innovation and large-scale infrastructure development.'' '-- Baker-Shultz Plan, signed by economists, Nobelists, Fed Reserve chairs, etc.
'' Green technologies, like batteries and solar and wind power, are improving far faster than many realize ... [It's] the biggest reshuffling of the economy since the Industrial Revolution.'' '-- Jeremy Grantham, investor, billionaire
'' Smartphone substitution seemed no more imminent in the early 2000s than large-scale energy substitution seems today.'' '-- International Monetary Fund
Source: Tony Seba, ''Clean Disruption'' (video), Stanford University, 2017; Jean-Fran§ois Mercure quoted in Steve Hanley, ''Carbon Bubble About to Burst, Leaving Trillions in Stranded Assets Behind, Claims New Research,'' Clean Technica, June 5, 2018; Sam Arie, ''Renewables Are Primed to Enter the Global Energy Race,'' Financial Times, Aug. 13, 2018; OECD, ''Mission Possible,'' Energy Transitions Commission, November 2018; Steve Hanley, ''Ahead of G7 Meeting, Investors Urge an End to Coal Power & Fossil Fuel Subsidies,'' Clean Technica, June 5, 2018; ''Economists' Statement on Carbon Dividends; ''Investing Prophet Jeremy Grantham Takes Aim at Climate Change,'' Bloomberg, Jan. 17, 2019; Wall Street Journal, Jan. 16, 2019 (Baker-Shultz plan); International Monetary Fund, ''Riding the Energy Transition: Oil Beyond 2040,'' May 2017
''Mission Possible,'' a 2018 report by an international Energy Transitions Commission, crystallized this growing body of opinion on both sides of the Atlantic.[2] To ''decarbonize'' energy use, the report calls for the world to engage in three ''complementary'' actions: aggressively deploy renewables or so-called clean tech, improve energy efficiency, and limit energy demand.
This prescription should sound familiar, as it is identical to a nearly universal energy-policy consensus that coalesced following the 1973''74 Arab oil embargo that shocked the world. But while the past half-century's energy policies were animated by fears of resource depletion, the fear now is that burning the world's abundant hydrocarbons releases dangerous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
To be sure, history shows that grand energy transitions are possible. The key question today is whether the world is on the cusp of another.
The short answer is no. There are two core flaws with the thesis that the world can soon abandon hydrocarbons. The first: physics realities do not allow energy domains to undergo the kind of revolutionary change experienced on the digital frontiers. The second: no fundamentally new energy technology has been discovered or invented in nearly a century'--certainly, nothing analogous to the invention of the transistor or the Internet.
Before these flaws are explained, it is best to understand the contours of today's hydrocarbon-based energy economy and why replacing it would be a monumental, if not an impossible, undertaking.
Moonshot Policies and the Challenge of Scale
The universe is awash in energy. For humanity, the challenge has always been to deliver energy in a useful way that is both tolerable and available when it is needed, not when nature or luck offers it. Whether it be wind or water on the surface, sunlight from above, or hydrocarbons buried deep in the earth, converting an energy source into useful power always requires capital-intensive hardware.
Considering the world's population and the size of modern economies, scale matters. In physics, when attempting to change any system, one has to deal with inertia and various forces of resistance; it's far harder to turn or stop a Boeing than it is a bumblebee. In a social system, it's far more difficult to change the direction of a country than it is a local community.
Today's reality: hydrocarbons'--oil, natural gas, and coal'--supply 84% of global energy, a share that has decreased only modestly from 87% two decades ago (Figure 1).[3] Over those two decades, total world energy use rose by 50%, an amount equal to adding two entire United States' worth of demand.[4]
The small percentage-point decline in the hydrocarbon share of world energy use required over $2 trillion in cumulative global spending on alternatives over that period.[5] Popular visuals of fields festooned with windmills and rooftops laden with solar cells don't change the fact that these two energy sources today provide less than 2% of the global energy supply and 3% of the U.S. energy supply.
The scale challenge for any energy resource transformation begins with a description. Today, the world's economies require an annual production of 35 billion barrels of petroleum, plus the energy equivalent of another 30 billion barrels of oil from natural gas, plus the energy equivalent of yet another 28 billion barrels of oil from coal. In visual terms: if all that fuel were in the form of oil, the barrels would form a line from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, and that entire line would increase in height by one Washington Monument every week.
To completely replace hydrocarbons over the next 20 years, global renewable energy production would have to increase by at least 90-fold.[6] For context: it took a half-century for global oil and gas production to expand by 10-fold.[7] It is a fantasy to think, costs aside, that any new form of energy infrastructure could now expand nine times more than that in under half the time.
If the initial goal were more modest'--say, to replace hydrocarbons only in the U.S. and only those used in electricity generation'--the project would require an industrial effort greater than a World War II''level of mobilization.[8] A transition to 100% non-hydrocarbon electricity by 2050 would require a U.S. grid construction program 14-fold bigger than the grid build-out rate that has taken place over the past half-century.[9] Then, to finish the transformation, this Promethean effort would need to be more than doubled to tackle nonelectric sectors, where 70% of U.S. hydrocarbons are consumed. And all that would affect a mere 16% of world energy use, America's share.
This daunting challenge elicits a common response: ''If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can [fill in the blank with any aspirational goal].'' But transforming the energy economy is not like putting a few people on the moon a few times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon'--permanently.
The Physics-Driven Cost Realities of Wind and Solar
The technologies that frame the new energy economy vision distill to just three things: windmills, solar panels, and batteries.[10] While batteries don't produce energy, they are crucial for ensuring that episodic wind and solar power is available for use in homes, businesses, and transportation.
Yet windmills and solar power are themselves not ''new'' sources of energy. The modern wind turbine appeared 50 years ago and was made possible by new materials, especially hydrocarbon-based fiberglass. The first commercially viable solar tech also dates back a half-century, as did the invention of the lithium battery (by an Exxon researcher).[11]
Over the decades, all three technologies have greatly improved and become roughly 10-fold cheaper.[12] Subsidies aside, that fact explains why, in recent decades, the use of wind/solar has expanded so much from a base of essentially zero.
Nonetheless, wind, solar, and battery tech will continue to become better, within limits. Those limits matter a great deal'--about which, more later'--because of the overwhelming demand for power in the modern world and the realities of energy sources on offer from Mother Nature.
With today's technology, $1 million worth of utility-scale solar panels will produce about 40 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) over a 30-year operating period (Figure 2). A similar metric is true for wind: $1 million worth of a modern wind turbine produces 55 million kWh over the same 30 years.[13] Meanwhile, $1 million worth of hardware for a shale rig will produce enough natural gas over 30 years to generate over 300 million kWh.[14] That constitutes about 600% more electricity for the same capital spent on primary energy-producing hardware.[15]
The fundamental differences between these energy resources can also be illustrated in terms of individual equipment. For the cost to drill a single shale well, one can build two 500-foot-high, 2-megawatt (MW) wind turbines. Those two wind turbines produce a combined output averaging over the years to the energy equivalent of 0.7 barrels of oil per hour. The same money spent on a single shale rig produces 10 barrels of oil, per hour, or its energy equivalent in natural gas, averaged over the decades.[16]
The huge disparity in output arises from the inherent differences in energy densities that are features of nature immune to public aspiration or government subsidy. The high energy density of the physical chemistry of hydrocarbons is unique and well understood, as is the science underlying the low energy density inherent in surface sunlight, wind volumes, and velocity.[17] Regardless of what governments dictate that utilities pay for that output, the quantity of energy produced is determined by how much sunlight or wind is available over any period of time and the physics of the conversion efficiencies of photovoltaic cells or wind turbines.
These kinds of comparisons between wind, solar, and natural gas illustrate the starting point in making a raw energy resource useful. But for any form of energy to become a primary source of power, additional technology is required. For gas, one necessarily spends money on a turbo-generator to convert the fuel into grid electricity. For wind/solar, spending is required for some form of storage to convert episodic electricity into utility-grade, 24/7 power.
The high cost of ensuring energy availability
Availability is the single most critical feature of any energy infrastructure, followed by price, followed by the eternal search for decreasing costs without affecting availability. Until the modern energy era, economic and social progress had been hobbled by the episodic nature of energy availability. That's why, so far, more than 90% of America's electricity, and 99% of the power used in transportation, comes from sources that can easily supply energy any time on demand.[18]
In our data-centric, increasingly electrified, society, always-available power is vital. But, as with all things, physics constrains the technologies and the costs for supplying availability.[19] For hydrocarbon-based systems, availability is dominated by the cost of equipment that can convert fuel-to-power continuously for at least 8,000 hours a year, for decades. Meanwhile, it's inherently easy to store the associated fuel to meet expected or unexpected surges in demand, or delivery failures in the supply chain caused by weather or accidents.
It costs less than $1 a barrel to store oil or natural gas (in oil-energy equivalent terms) for a couple of months.[20] Storing coal is even cheaper. Thus, unsurprisingly, the U.S., on average, has about one to two months' worth of national demand in storage for each kind of hydrocarbon at any given time.[21]
Meanwhile, with batteries, it costs roughly $200 to store the energy equivalent to one barrel of oil.[22] Thus, instead of months, barely two hours of national electricity demand can be stored in the combined total of all the utility-scale batteries on the grid plus all the batteries in the 1 million electric cars that exist today in America.[23]
For wind/solar, the features that dominate cost of availability are inverted, compared with hydrocarbons. While solar arrays and wind turbines do wear out and require maintenance as well, the physics and thus additional costs of that wear-and-tear are less challenging than with combustion turbines. But the complex and comparatively unstable electrochemistry of batteries makes for an inherently more expensive and less efficient way to store energy and ensure its availability.
Since hydrocarbons are so easily stored, idle conventional power plants can be dispatched'--ramped up and down'--to follow cyclical demand for electricity. Wind turbines and solar arrays cannot be dispatched when there's no wind or sun. As a matter of geophysics, both wind-powered and sunlight-energized machines produce energy, averaged over a year, about 25%''30% of the time, often less.[24] Conventional power plants, however, have very high ''availability,'' in the 80%''95% range, and often higher.[25]
A wind/solar grid would need to be sized to meet both peak demand and to have enough extra capacity beyond peak needs in order to produce and store additional electricity when sun and wind are available. This means, on average, that a pure wind/solar system would necessarily have to be about threefold the capacity of a hydrocarbon grid: i.e., one needs to build 3 kW of wind/solar equipment for every 1 kW of combustion equipment eliminated. The directly translates into a threefold cost disadvantage, even if the per-kW costs were all the same. [26]
Even this necessary extra capacity would not suffice. Meteorological and operating data show that average monthly wind and solar electricity output can drop as much as twofold during each source's respective ''low'' season.[27]
The myth of grid parity
How do these capacity and cost disadvantages square with claims that wind and solar are already at or near ''grid parity'' with conventional sources of electricity? The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) and other similar analyses report a ''levelized cost of energy'' (LCOE) for all types of electric power technologies. In the EIA's LCOE calculations, electricity from a wind turbine or solar array is calculated as 36% and 46%, respectively, more expensive than from a natural-gas turbine'--i.e., approaching parity.[28] But in a critical and rarely noted caveat, EIA states: ''The LCOE values for dispatchable and non-dispatchable technologies are listed separately in the tables because comparing them must be done carefully''[29] (emphasis added). Put differently, the LCOE calculations do not take into account the array of real, if hidden, costs needed to operate a reliable 24/7 and 365-day-per-year energy infrastructure'--or, in particular, a grid that used only wind/solar.
The LCOE considers the hardware in isolation while ignoring real-world system costs essential to supply 24/7 power. Equally misleading, an LCOE calculation, despite its illusion of precision, relies on a variety of assumptions and guesses subject to dispute, if not bias.
For example, an LCOE assumes that the future cost of competing fuels'--notably, natural gas'--will rise significantly. But that means that the LCOE is more of a forecast than a calculation. This is important because a ''levelized cost'' uses such a forecast to calculate a purported average cost over a long period. The assumption that gas prices will go up is at variance with the fact that they have decreased over the past decade and the evidence that low prices are the new normal for the foreseeable future.[30] Adjusting the LCOE calculation to reflect a future where gas prices don't rise radically increases the LCOE cost advantage of natural gas over wind/solar.
An LCOE incorporates an even more subjective feature, called the ''discount rate,'' which is a way of comparing the value of money today versus the future. A low discount rate has the effect of tilting an outcome to make it more appealing to spend precious capital today to solve a future (theoretical) problem. Advocates of using low discount rates are essentially assuming slow economic growth.[31]
A high discount rate effectively assumes that a future society will be far richer than today (not to mention have better technology).[32] Economist William Nordhaus's work in this field, wherein he advocates using a high discount rate, earned him a 2018 Nobel Prize.
An LCOE also requires an assumption about average multi-decade capacity factors, the share of time the equipment actually operates (i.e., the real, not theoretical, amount of time the sun shines and wind blows). EIA assumes, for example, 41% and 29% capacity factors, respectively, for wind and solar. But data collected from operating wind and solar farms reveal actual median capacity factors of 33% and 22%.[33] The difference between assuming a 40% but experiencing a 30% capacity factor means that, over the 20-year life of a 2-MW wind turbine, $3 million of energy production assumed in the financial models won't exist'--and that's for a turbine with an initial capital cost of about $3 million.
U.S. wind-farm capacity factors have been getting better but at a slow rate of about 0.7% per year over the past two decades.[34] Notably, this gain was achieved mainly by reducing the number of turbines per acre trying to scavenge moving air'--resulting in average land used per unit of wind energy increasing by some 50%.
LCOE calculations do reasonably include costs for such things as taxes, the cost of borrowing, and maintenance. But here, too, mathematical outcomes give the appearance of precision while hiding assumptions. For example, assumptions about maintenance costs and performance of wind turbines over the long term may be overly optimistic. Data from the U.K., which is further down the wind-favored path than the U.S., point to far faster degradation (less electricity per turbine) than originally forecast.[35]
To address at least one issue with using LCOE as a tool, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently proposed the idea of a ''value-adjusted'' LCOE, or VALCOE, to include the elements of flexibility and incorporate the economic implications of dispatchability. IEA calculations using a VALCOE method yielded coal power, for example, far cheaper than solar, with a cost penalty widening as a grid's share of solar generation rises.[36]
One would expect that, long before a grid is 100% wind/solar, the kinds of real costs outlined above should already be visible. As it happens, regardless of putative LCOEs, we do have evidence of the economic impact that arises from increasing the use of wind and solar energy.
The Hidden Costs of a ''Green'' Grid
Subsidies, tax preferences, and mandates can hide real-world costs, but when enough of them accumulate, the effect should be visible in overall system costs. And it is. In Europe, the data show that the higher the share of wind/solar, the higher the average cost of grid electricity (Figure 3).
Germany and Britain, well down the ''new energy'' path, have seen average electricity rates rise 60%''110% over the past two decades.[37] The same pattern'--more wind/solar and higher electricity bills'--is visible in Australia and Canada.[38]
Since the share of wind power, on a per-capita basis, in the U.S. is still at only a small fraction of that in most of Europe, the cost impacts on American ratepayers are less dramatic and less visible. Nonetheless, average U.S. residential electric costs have risen some 20% over the past 15 years.[39] That should not have been the case. Average electric rates should have gone down, not up.
Here's why: coal and natural gas together supplied about 70% of electricity over that 15-year period.[40] The price of fuel accounts for about 60%''70% of the cost to produce electricity when using hydrocarbons.[41] Thus, about half the average cost of America's electricity depends on coal and gas prices. The price of both those fuels has gone down by over 50% over that 15-year period. Utility costs, specifically, to purchase gas and coal are down some 25% over the past decade alone. In other words, cost savings from the shale-gas revolution have significantly insulated consumers, so far, from even higher rate increases.
The increased use of wind/solar imposes a variety of hidden, physics-based costs that are rarely acknowledged in utility or government accounting. For example, when large quantities of power are rapidly, repeatedly, and unpredictably cycled up and down, the challenge and costs associated with ''balancing'' a grid (i.e., keeping it from failing) are greatly increased. OECD analysts estimate that at least some of those ''invisible'' costs imposed on the grid add 20%''50% to the cost of grid kilowatt-hours.[42]
Furthermore, flipping the role of the grid's existing power plants from primary to backup for wind/solar leads to other real but unallocated costs that emerge from physical realities. Increased cycling of conventional power plants increases wear-and-tear and maintenance costs. It also reduces the utilization of those expensive assets, which means that capital costs are spread out over fewer kWh produced'--thereby arithmetically increasing the cost of each of those kilowatt-hours.[43]
Then, if the share of episodic power becomes significant, the potential rises for complete system blackouts. That has happened twice after the wind died down unexpectedly (with some customers out for days in some areas) in the state of South Australia, which derives over 40% of its electricity from wind.[44]
After a total system outage in South Australia in 2018, Tesla, with much media fanfare, installed the world's single largest lithium battery ''farm'' on that grid.[45] For context, to keep South Australia lit for one half-day of no wind would require 80 such ''world's biggest'' Tesla battery farms, and that's on a grid that serves just 2.5 million people.
Engineers have other ways to achieve reliability; using old-fashioned giant diesel-engine generators as backup (engines essentially the same as those that propel cruise ships or that are used to back up data centers). Without fanfare, because of rising use of wind, U.S. utilities have been installing grid-scale engines at a furious pace. The grid now has over $4 billion in utility-scale, engine-driven generators (enough for about 100 cruise ships), with lots more to come. Most burn natural gas, though a lot of them are oil-fired. Three times as many such big reciprocating engines have been added to America's grid over the past two decades as over the half-century prior to that.[46]
All these costs are real and are not allocated to wind or solar generators. But electricity consumers pay them. A way to understand what's going on: managing grids with hidden costs imposed on non-favored players would be like levying fees on car drivers for the highway wear-and-tear caused by heavy trucks while simultaneously subsidizing the cost of fueling those trucks.
The issue with wind and solar power comes down to a simple point: their usefulness is impractical on a national scale as a major or primary fuel source for generating electricity. As with any technology, pushing the boundaries of practical utilization is possible but usually not sensible or cost-effective. Helicopters offer an instructive analogy.
The development of a practical helicopter in the 1950s (four decades after its invention) inspired widespread hyperbole about that technology revolutionizing personal transportation. Today, the manufacture and use of helicopters is a multibillion-dollar niche industry providing useful and often-vital services. But one would no more use helicopters for regular Atlantic travel'--though doable with elaborate logistics'--than employ a nuclear reactor to power a train or photovoltaic systems to power a country.
Batteries Cannot Save the Grid or the Planet
Batteries are a central feature of new energy economy aspirations. It would indeed revolutionize the world to find a technology that could store electricity as effectively and cheaply as, say, oil in a barrel, or natural gas in an underground cavern.[47] Such electricity-storage hardware would render it unnecessary even to build domestic power plants. One could imagine an OKEC (Organization of Kilowatt-Hour Exporting Countries) that shipped barrels of electrons around the world from nations where the cost to fill those ''barrels'' was lowest; solar arrays in the Sahara, coal mines in Mongolia (out of reach of Western regulators), or the great rivers of Brazil.
But in the universe that we live in, the cost to store energy in grid-scale batteries is, as earlier noted, about 200-fold more than the cost to store natural gas to generate electricity when it's needed.[48] That's why we store, at any given time, months' worth of national energy supply in the form of natural gas or oil.
Battery storage is quite another matter. Consider Tesla, the world's best-known battery maker: $200,000 worth of Tesla batteries, which collectively weigh over 20,000 pounds, are needed to store the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil.[49] A barrel of oil, meanwhile, weighs 300 pounds and can be stored in a $20 tank. Those are the realities of today's lithium batteries. Even a 200% improvement in underlying battery economics and technology won't close such a gap.
Nonetheless, policymakers in America and Europe enthusiastically embrace programs and subsidies to vastly expand the production and use of batteries at grid scale.[50] Astonishing quantities of batteries will be needed to keep country-level grids energized'--and the level of mining required for the underlying raw materials would be epic. For the U.S., at least, given where the materials are mined and where batteries are made, imports would increase radically. Perspective on each of these realities follows.
How many batteries would it take to light the nation?
A grid based entirely on wind and solar necessitates going beyond preparation for the normal daily variability of wind and sun; it also means preparation for the frequency and duration of periods when there would be not only far less wind and sunlight combined but also for periods when there would be none of either. While uncommon, such a combined event'--daytime continental cloud cover with no significant wind anywhere, or nighttime with no wind'--has occurred more than a dozen times over the past century'--effectively, once every decade. On these occasions, a combined wind/solar grid would not be able to produce a tiny fraction of the nation's electricity needs. There have also been frequent one-hour periods when 90% of the national electric supply would have disappeared.[51]
So how many batteries would be needed to store, say, not two months' but two days' worth of the nation's electricity? The $5 billion Tesla ''Gigafactory'' in Nevada is currently the world's biggest battery manufacturing facility.[52] Its total annual production could store three minutes' worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. Thus, in order to fabricate a quantity of batteries to store two days' worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of Gigafactory production.
Wind/solar advocates propose to minimize battery usage with enormously long transmission lines on the observation that it is always windy or sunny somewhere. While theoretically feasible (though not always true, even at country-level geographies), the length of transmission needed to reach somewhere ''always'' sunny/windy also entails substantial reliability and security challenges. (And long-distance transport of energy by wire is twice as expensive as by pipeline.)[53]
Building massive quantities of batteries would have epic implications for mining
A key rationale for the pursuit of a new energy economy is to reduce environmental externalities from the use of hydrocarbons. While the focus these days is mainly on the putative long-term effects of carbon dioxide, all forms of energy production entail various unregulated externalities inherent in extracting, moving, and processing minerals and materials.
Radically increasing battery production will dramatically affect mining, as well as the energy used to access, process, and move minerals and the energy needed for the battery fabrication process itself. About 60 pounds of batteries are needed to store the energy equivalent to that in one pound of hydrocarbons. Meanwhile, 50''100 pounds of various materials are mined, moved, and processed for one pound of battery produced.[54] Such underlying realities translate into enormous quantities of minerals'--such as lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, rare earths, and cobalt'--that would need to be extracted from the earth to fabricate batteries for grids and cars.[55] A battery-centric future means a world mining gigatons more materials.[56] And this says nothing about the gigatons of materials needed to fabricate wind turbines and solar arrays, too.[57]
Even without a new energy economy, the mining required to make batteries will soon dominate the production of many minerals. Lithium battery production today already accounts for about 40% and 25%, respectively, of all lithium and cobalt mining.[58] In an all-battery future, global mining would have to expand by more than 200% for copper, by at least 500% for minerals like lithium, graphite, and rare earths, and far more than that for cobalt.[59]
Then there are the hydrocarbons and electricity needed to undertake all the mining activities and to fabricate the batteries themselves. In rough terms, it requires the energy equivalent of about 100 barrels of oil to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store a single barrel of oil-equivalent energy.[60]
Given the regulatory hostility to mining on the U.S. continent, a battery-centric energy future virtually guarantees more mining elsewhere and rising import dependencies for America. Most of the relevant mines in the world are in Chile, Argentina, Australia, Russia, the Congo, and China. Notably, the Democratic Republic of Congo produces 70% of global cobalt, and China refines 40% of that output for the world.[61]
China already dominates global battery manufacturing and is on track to supply nearly two-thirds of all production by 2020.[62] The relevance for the new energy economy vision: 70% of China's grid is fueled by coal today and will still be at 50% in 2040.[63] This means that, over the life span of the batteries, there would be more carbon-dioxide emissions associated with manufacturing them than would be offset by using those batteries to, say, replace internal combustion engines.[64]
Transforming personal transportation from hydrocarbon-burning to battery-propelled vehicles is another central pillar of the new energy economy. Electric vehicles (EVs) are expected not only to replace petroleum on the roads but to serve as backup storage for the electric grid as well.[65]
Lithium batteries have finally enabled EVs to become reasonably practical. Tesla, which now sells more cars in the top price category in America than does Mercedes-Benz, has inspired a rush of the world's manufacturers to produce appealing battery-powered vehicles.[66] This has emboldened bureaucratic aspirations for outright bans on the sale of internal combustion engines, notably in Germany, France, Britain, and, unsurprisingly, California.
Such a ban is not easy to imagine. Optimists forecast that the number of EVs in the world will rise from today's nearly 4 million to 400 million in two decades.[67] A world with 400 million EVs by 2040 would decrease global oil demand by barely 6%. This sounds counterintuitive, but the numbers are straightforward. There are about 1 billion automobiles today, and they use about 30% of the world's oil.[68] (Heavy trucks, aviation, petrochemicals, heat, etc. use the rest.) By 2040, there would be an estimated 2 billion cars in the world. Four hundred million EVs would amount to 20% of all the cars on the road'--which would thus replace about 6% of petroleum demand.
In any event, batteries don't represent a revolution in personal mobility equivalent to, say, going from the horse-and-buggy to the car'--an analogy that has been invoked.[69] Driving an EV is more analogous to changing what horses are fed and importing the new fodder.
Moore's Law Misapplied
Faced with all the realities outlined above regarding green technologies, new energy economy enthusiasts nevertheless believe that true breakthroughs are yet to come and are even inevitable. That's because, so it is claimed, energy tech will follow the same trajectory as that seen in recent decades with computing and communications. The world will yet see the equivalent of an Amazon or ''Apple of clean energy.''[70]
This idea is seductive because of the astounding advances in silicon technologies that so few forecasters anticipated decades ago. It is an idea that renders moot any cautions that wind/solar/batteries are too expensive today'--such caution is seen as foolish and shortsighted, analogous to asserting, circa 1980, that the average citizen would never be able to afford a computer. Or saying, in 1984 (the year that the world's first cell phone was released), that a billion people would own a cell phone, when it cost $9,000 (in today's dollars). It was a two-pound ''brick'' with a 30-minute talk time.
Today's smartphones are not only far cheaper; they are far more powerful than a room-size IBM mainframe from 30 years ago. That transformation arose from engineers inexorably shrinking the size and energy appetite of transistors, and consequently increasing their number per chip roughly twofold every two years'--the ''Moore's Law'' trend, named for Intel cofounder Gordon Moore.
The compound effect of that kind of progress has indeed caused a revolution. Over the past 60 years, Moore's Law has seen the efficiency of how logic engines use energy improve by over a billionfold.[71] But a similar transformation in how energy is produced or stored isn't just unlikely; it can't happen with the physics we know today.
In the world of people, cars, planes, and large-scale industrial systems, increasing speed or carrying capacity causes hardware to expand, not shrink. The energy needed to move a ton of people, heat a ton of steel or silicon, or grow a ton of food is determined by properties of nature whose boundaries are set by laws of gravity, inertia, friction, mass, and thermodynamics.
If combustion engines, for example, could achieve the kind of scaling efficiency that computers have since 1971'--the year the first widely used integrated circuit was introduced by Intel'--a car engine would generate a thousandfold more horsepower and shrink to the size of an ant.[72] With such an engine, a car could actually fly, very fast.
If photovoltaics scaled by Moore's Law, a single postage-stamp-size solar array would power the Empire State Building. If batteries scaled by Moore's Law, a battery the size of a book, costing three cents, could power an A380 to Asia.
But only in the world of comic books does the physics of propulsion or energy production work like that. In our universe, power scales the other way.
An ant-size engine'--which has been built'--produces roughly 100,000 times less power than a Prius. An ant-size solar PV array (also feasible) produces a thousandfold less energy than an ant's biological muscles. The energy equivalent of the aviation fuel actually used by an aircraft flying to Asia would take $60 million worth of Tesla-type batteries weighing five times more than that aircraft.[73]
The challenge in storing and processing information using the smallest possible amount of energy is distinct from the challenge of producing energy, or of moving or reshaping physical objects. The two domains entail different laws of physics.
The world of logic is rooted in simply knowing and storing the fact of the binary state of a switch'--i.e., whether it is on or off. Logic engines don't produce physical action but are designed to manipulate the idea of the numbers zero and one. Unlike engines that carry people, logic engines can use software to do things such as compress information through clever mathematics and thus reduce energy use. No comparable compression options exist in the world of humans and hardware.
Of course, wind turbines, solar cells, and batteries will continue to improve significantly in cost and performance; so will drilling rigs and combustion turbines (a subject taken up next). And, of course, Silicon Valley information technology will bring important, even dramatic, efficiency gains in the production and management of energy and physical goods (a prospect also taken up below). But the outcomes won't be as miraculous as the invention of the integrated circuit, or the discovery of petroleum or nuclear fission.
Sliding Down the Renewable Asymptote
Forecasts for a continual rapid decline in costs for wind/solar/batteries are inspired by the gains that those technologies have already experienced. The first two decades of commercialization, after the 1980s, saw a 10-fold reduction in costs. But the path for improvements now follows what mathematicians call an asymptote; or, put in economic terms, improvements are subject to a law of diminishing returns where every incremental gain yields less progress than in the past (Figure 4).
This is a normal phenomenon in all physical systems. Throughout history, engineers have achieved big gains in the early years of a technology's development, whether wind or gas turbines, steam or sailing ships, internal combustion or photovoltaic cells. Over time, engineers manage to approach nature's limits. Bragging rights for gains in efficiency'--or speed, or other equivalent metrics such as energy density (power per unit of weight or volume) then shrink from double-digit percentages to fractional percentage changes. Whether it's solar, wind tech, or aircraft turbines, the gains in performance are now all measured in single-digit percentage gains. Such progress is economically meaningful but is not revolutionary.
The physics-constrained limits of energy systems are unequivocal. Solar arrays can't convert more photons than those that arrive from the sun. Wind turbines can't extract more energy than exists in the kinetic flows of moving air. Batteries are bound by the physical chemistry of the molecules chosen. Similarly, no matter how much better jet engines become, an A380 will never fly to the moon. An oil-burning engine can't produce more energy than what is contained in the physical chemistry of hydrocarbons.
Combustion engines have what's called a Carnot Efficiency Limit, which is anchored in the temperature of combustion and the energy available in the fuel. The limits are long established and well understood. In theory, at a high enough temperature, 80% of the chemical energy that exists in the fuel can be turned into power.[74] Using today's high-temperature materials, the best hydrocarbon engines convert about 50%''60% to power. There's still room to improve but nothing like the 10-fold to nearly hundredfold revolutionary advances achieved in the first couple of decades after their invention. Wind/solar technologies are now on the same place of that asymptotic technology curve.
For wind, the boundary is called the Betz Limit, which dictates how much of the kinetic energy in air a blade can capture; that limit is about 60%.[75] Capturing all the kinetic energy would mean, by definition, no air movement and thus nothing to capture. There needs to be wind for the turbine to turn. Modern turbines already exceed 45% conversion.[76] That leaves some real gains to be made but, as with combustion engines, nothing revolutionary.[77] Another 10-fold improvement is not possible.
For silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells, the physics boundary is called the Shockley-Queisser Limit: a maximum of about 33% of incoming photons are converted into electrons. State-of-the-art commercial PVs achieve just over 26% conversion efficiency'--in other words, near the boundary. While researchers keep unearthing new non-silicon options that offer tantalizing performance improvements, all have similar physics boundaries, and none is remotely close to manufacturability at all'--never mind at low costs.[78] There are no 10-fold gains left.[79]
Future advances in wind turbine and solar economics are now centered on incremental engineering improvements: economies of scale in making turbines enormous, taller than the Washington Monument, and similarly massive, square-mile utility-scale solar arrays. For both technologies, all the underlying key components'--concrete, steel, and fiberglass for wind; and silicon, copper, and glass for solar'--are all already in mass production and well down asymptotic cost curves in their own domains.
While there are no surprising gains in economies of scale available in the supply chain, that doesn't mean that costs are immune to improvements. In fact, all manufacturing processes experience continual improvements in production efficiency as volumes rise. This experience curve is called Wright's Law. (That ''law'' was first documented in 1936, as it related then to the challenge of manufacturing aircraft at costs that markets could tolerate. Analogously, while aviation took off and created a big, worldwide transportation industry, it didn't eliminate automobiles, or the need for ships.) Experience leading to lower incremental costs is to be expected; but, again, that's not the kind of revolutionary improvement that could make a new energy economy even remotely plausible.
As for modern batteries, there are still promising options for significant improvements in their underlying physical chemistry. New non-lithium materials in research labs offer as much as a 200% and even 300% gain in inherent performance.[80] Such gains nevertheless don't constitute the kinds of 10-fold or hundredfold advances in the early days of combustion chemistry.[81] Prospective improvements will still leave batteries miles away from the real competition: petroleum.
There are no subsidies and no engineering from Silicon Valley or elsewhere that can close the physics-centric gap in energy densities between batteries and oil (Figure 5). The energy stored per pound is the critical metric for vehicles and, especially, aircraft. The maximum potential energy contained in oil molecules is about 1,500% greater, pound for pound, than the maximum in lithium chemistry.[82] That's why the aircraft and rockets are powered by hydrocarbons. And that's why a 20% improvement in oil propulsion (eminently feasible) is more valuable than a 200% improvement in batteries (still difficult).
Finally, when it comes to limits, it is relevant to note that the technologies that unlocked shale oil and gas are still in the early days of engineering development, unlike the older technologies of wind, solar, and batteries. Tenfold gains are still possible in terms of how much energy can be extracted by a rig from shale rock before approaching physics limits.[83] That fact helps explain why shale oil and gas have added 2,000% more to U.S. energy production over the past decade than have wind and solar combined.[84]
Digitalization Won't Uberize the Energy Sector
Digital tools are already improving and can further improve all manner of efficiencies across entire swaths of the economy, and it is reasonable to expect that software will yet bring significant improvements in both the underlying efficiency of wind/solar/battery machines and in the efficiency of how such machines are integrated into infrastructures. Silicon logic has improved, for example, the control and thus the fuel efficiency of combustion engines, and it is doing the same for wind turbines. Similarly, software epitomized by Uber has shown that optimizing the efficiency of using expensive transportation assets lowers costs. Uberizing all manner of capital assets is inevitable.
Uberizing the electric grid without hydrocarbons is another matter entirely.
The peak demand problem that software can't fix
In the energy world, one of the most vexing problems is in optimally matching electricity supply and demand (Figure 6). Here the data show that society and the electricity-consuming services that people like are generating a growing gap between peaks and valleys of demand. The net effect for a hydrocarbon-free grid will be to increase the need for batteries to meet those peaks.
All this has relevance for encouraging EVs. In terms of managing the inconvenient cyclical nature of demand, shifting transportation fuel use from oil to the grid will make peak management far more challenging. People tend to refuel when it's convenient; that's easy to accommodate with oil, given the ease of storage. EV refueling will exacerbate the already-episodic nature of grid demand.
To ameliorate this problem, one proposal is to encourage or even require off-peak EV fueling.[85] The jury is out on just how popular that will be or whether it will even be tolerated.
Although kilowatt-hours and cars'--key targets in the new energy economy prescriptions'--constitute only 60% of the energy economy, global demand for both is centuries away from saturation. Green enthusiasts make extravagant claims about the effect of Uber-like options and self-driving cars. However, the data show that the economic efficiencies from Uberizing have so far increased the use of cars and peak urban congestion.[86] Similarly, many analysts now see autonomous vehicles amplifying, not dampening, that effect.[87]
That's because people, and thus markets, are focused on economic efficiency and not on energy efficiency. The former can be associated with reducing energy use; but it is also, and more often, associated with increased energy demand. Cars use more energy per mile than a horse, but the former offers enormous gains in economic efficiency. Computers, similarly, use far more energy than pencil-and-paper.
Uberizing improves energy efficiencies but increases demand
Every energy conversion in our universe entails built-in inefficiencies'--converting heat to propulsion, carbohydrates to motion, photons to electrons, electrons to data, and so forth. All entail a certain energy cost, or waste, that can be reduced but never eliminated. But, in no small irony, history shows'--as economists have often noted'--that improvements in efficiency lead to increased, not decreased, energy consumption.
If at the dawn of the modern era, affordable steam engines had remained as inefficient as those first invented, they would never have proliferated, nor would the attendant economic gains and the associated rise in coal demand have happened. We see the same thing with modern combustion engines. Today's aircraft, for example, are three times as energy-efficient as the first commercial passenger jets in the 1950s.[88] That didn't reduce fuel use but propelled air traffic to soar and, with it, a fourfold rise in jet fuel burned.[89]
Similarly, it was the astounding gains in computing's energy efficiency that drove the meteoric rise in data traffic on the Internet'--which resulted in far more energy used by computing. Global computing and communications, all told, now consumes the energy equivalent of 3 billion barrels of oil per year, more energy than global aviation.[90]
The purpose of improving efficiency in the real world, as opposed to the policy world, is to reduce the cost of enjoying the benefits from an energy-consuming engine or machine. So long as people and businesses want more of the benefits, declining cost leads to increased demand that, on average, outstrips any ''savings'' from the efficiency gains. Figure 7 shows how this efficiency effect has played out for computing and air travel.[91]
Of course, the growth in demand growth for a specific product or service can subside in a (wealthy) society when limits are hit: the amount of food a person can eat, the miles per day an individual is willing to drive, the number of refrigerators or lightbulbs per household, etc. But a world of 8 billion people is a long way from reaching any such limits.
The macro picture of the relationship between efficiency and world energy demand is clear (Figure 8). Technology has continually improved society's energy efficiency. But far from ending global energy growth, efficiency has enabled it. The improvements in cost and efficiency brought about through digital technologies will accelerate, not end, that trend.
Energy Revolutions Are Still Beyond the Horizon
When the world's poorest 4 billion people increase their energy use to just 15% of the per-capita level of developed economies, global energy consumption will rise by the equivalent of adding an entire United States' worth of demand.[92] In the face of such projections, there are proposals that governments should constrain demand, and even ban certain energy-consuming behaviors. One academic article proposed that the ''sale of energy-hungry versions of a device or an application could be forbidden on the market, and the limitations could become gradually stricter from year to year, to stimulate energy-saving product lines.''[93] Others have offered proposals to ''reduce dependency on energy'' by restricting the sizes of infrastructures or requiring the use of mass transit or car pools.[94]
The issue here is not only that poorer people will inevitably want to'--and will be able to'--live more like wealthier people but that new inventions continually create new demands for energy. The invention of the aircraft means that every $1 billion in new jets produced leads to some $5 billion in aviation fuel consumed over two decades to operate them. Similarly, every $1 billion in data centers built will consume $7 billion in electricity over the same period.[95] The world is buying both at the rate of about $100 billion a year.[96]
The inexorable march of technology progress for things that use energy creates the seductive idea that something radically new is also inevitable in ways to produce energy. But sometimes, the old or established technology is the optimal solution and nearly immune to disruption. We still use stone, bricks, and concrete, all of which date to antiquity. We do so because they're optimal, not ''old.'' So are the wheel, water pipes, electric wires ... the list is long. Hydrocarbons are, so far, optimal ways to power most of what society needs and wants.
More than a decade ago, Google focused its vaunted engineering talent on a project called ''RE
An energy revolution will come only from the pursuit of basic sciences. Or, as Bill Gates has phrased it, the challenge calls for scientific ''miracles.''[98] These will emerge from basic research, not from subsidies for yesterday's technologies. The Internet didn't emerge from subsidizing the dial-up phone, or the transistor from subsidizing vacuum tubes, or the automobile from subsidizing railroads.
However, 95% of private-sector R&D spending and the majority of government R&D is directed at ''development'' and not basic research.[99] If policymakers want a revolution in energy tech, the single most important action would be to radically refocus and expand support for basic scientific research.
Hydrocarbons'--oil, natural gas, and coal'--are the world's principal energy resource today and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future. Wind turbines, solar arrays, and batteries, meanwhile, constitute a small source of energy, and physics dictates that they will remain so. Meanwhile, there is simply no possibility that the world is undergoing'--or can undergo'--a near-term transition to a ''new energy economy.''
Mark P. Mills
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science where he co-directs an Institute on Manufacturing Science and Innovation. He is also a strategic partner with Cottonwood Venture Partners (an energy-tech venture fund), and an advisory board member of the University of Notre Dame's Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values.
endnotes in PDFGas Transitions wishes to thank the Manhattan Institute for its kind permission in allow republication of The "New Energy Economy": An Exercise in Magical Thinking
The statements, opinions and data contained in the content published in Global Gas Perspectives are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publisher and the editor(s) of Natural Gas World.
Gas Transitions
How will the gas industry evolve in the low-carbon world of the future? Will natural gas be a bridge or a destination? Could it become the foundation of a global hydrogen economy, in combination with CCS? How big will ''green'' hydrogen and biogas become? What will be the role of LNG and bio-LNG in transport?
From his home country The Netherlands, a long-time gas exporting country that has recently embarked on an unprecedented transition away from gas, independent energy journalist, analyst and moderator Karel Beckman reports on the climate and technological challenges facing the gas industry.
As former editor-in-chief and founder of two international energy websites (Energy Post and European Energy Review) and former journalist at the premier Dutch financial newspaper Financieele Dagblad, Karel has earned a great reputation as being amongst the first to focus on energy transition trends and the connections between markets, policies and technologies. For Natural Gas World he will be reporting on the Dutch and wider International gas transition on a weekly basis.
Send your comments to karel.beckman@naturalgaswo
S. 1084: A bill to prohibit the usage of exploitative and deceptive practices by large online operators and to promote consumer welfare in the use of behavioral research by such providers. : watchingcongress
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 15:08
Introduced: Sponsor: Sen. Mark Warner [D-VA]
This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation which will consider it before sending it to the Senate floor for consideration.
1 cosponsor is on that committee.
Govtrack.us Summary
The Unlikely End to China's New Silk Road Is in Germany's Rust Belt | Fast Forward | OZY
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 14:25
The vast map of the world that hangs in Shanghai Pudong airport shows only four European cities. Three '-- Paris, London, Berlin '-- are marked with small dots. The biggest is reserved for Duisburg.
This might seem a strange choice. Stuck in Germany's northwestern rust belt, the city is hardly a throbbing metropolis and was long a byword for industrial decline and unemployment.
But Duisburg is the world's largest inland port and one of Europe's biggest transport and logistics hubs. It is also the western terminus of Chinese leader Xi Jinping's new Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative, to finance and build infrastructure in more than 80 countries.
''The Chinese see Duisburg and its port as their gateway to western Europe,'' said Johannes Pflug, the city's commissioner for China. ''That has given it a whole new significance.''
The China factor is clearly visible in Duisburg Intermodal Terminal, one of several such cargo-handling hubs in the port. Every day containers arriving by train from Chongqing and Wuhan are loaded on to trucks and ships and distributed to Italy, Switzerland, France and beyond. Chinese logos '-- Cosco, China Shipping, UES '-- are ubiquitous.
We must preserve our independence and at all costs avoid falling into a debt trap with the Chinese.
Johannes Pflug, Duisburg commissioner for China
The terminal's big China breakthrough came in 2014, when Xi came to welcome a train arriving from Chongqing. ''Growth of our China traffic has been exponential since then,'' said Amelie Erxleben, DIT's head of international development. Thirty of the 90 trains DIT receives every week are from China, she said.
Last year the company leased an additional 200,000 square meters of land from Duisburg Port to cope with its growing China business. ''It was the last available space,'' Erxleben said. ''We're really reaching the limits of our capacity here.''
China's Belt and Road plan is increasingly controversial in the West. There was dismay in Berlin and Paris last month when Italy, hoping for new investment in its stagnant economy, became the first G7 country to endorse the program.
The move came at a time of increasing concern in Europe about China's global ambitions. As the EU prepared for a bilateral summit with China this month, the European Commission issued a paper branding the country an ''economic competitor'' and ''systemic rival.'' It warned that Chinese investments in some countries ''may result in high-level indebtedness and transfer of control over strategic assets and resources.''
Germany has in recent months assumed a particularly hawkish stance on China. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas sharply criticized Italy for breaking ranks with its allies over the BRI. ''If some countries think they can do clever deals with the Chinese, they'll be surprised and wake up one day dependent [on China],'' he said. Offers that seemed lucrative in the short term could ''acquire a bitter aftertaste.''
But in Duisburg, few share Maas' skepticism. ''The BRI is a huge opportunity for us,'' said Erich Staake, head of Duisburg Port AG. Last year, the city received 6,300 trains from China. That could rise to 10,000 within the next five years, he said.
The appeal of the rail connection is clear: It takes 45 days to ship goods by sea from Chongqing to Duisburg, and only about 13 days by rail. In the future, Staake hopes to bring that down to 10.
The increased traffic with China has acted as a ''catalyst'' for other investors, said Pflug. They include transport and logistics company Kuehne + Nagel, which recently set up one of its biggest European hubs in Duisburg. The number of Chinese companies active in the city had doubled to 100 in the past five years, Pflug said. Chinese developer Starhai plans to build a '‚¬260 million ''China Trade Center Europe'' in one of Duisburg's business parks.
However, Staake said he understood the alarm about China's rise. ''You get the impression some people feel blindsided by the speed with which China is creating new trading routes and by the influence it's acquired through its investments along the Silk Road in places like Africa and southern Europe,'' he said.
But he is fatalistic about a process he sees as inevitable. ''I know of no case in history when big powers haven't deployed all their power and strength to create dependencies, and I'd be amazed if China turned out to be an exception,'' he said.
A short walk from his office, the Kingdom, a big Chinese restaurant housed in a former car showroom, stands near the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers. Manager Qing Wang has just opened a German-Chinese Business Center on the first floor. A table flanked with Chinese and German flags stands ready for ceremonial contract signings while a poster welcomes visitors with the words ''Where the train stops, the opportunities begin.''
''Since President Xi came here, everyone in China knows about Duisburg,'' Wang said. One businessman familiar with the city is Chang Su, head of SRL Global Forwarding. Based in the southern Chinese city of Chengdu, his company, which specializes in customs brokering, is looking to build a bonded warehouse in Duisburg.
''We're hoping there'll be a direct rail link soon between Chengdu and Duisburg, and when it comes we want to be ready,'' Su said.
Pflug, a former Bundestag MP and long-term East Asia expert who has visited China more than 60 times, is proud of Beijing's obsession with his city. But he also has red lines when it comes to Chinese investment.
He wants to ensure Duisburg doesn't share the same fate as Hambantota, a Sri Lankan port, which in 2017 passed to Chinese control under a 99-year lease.
''We must preserve our independence and at all costs avoid falling into a debt trap with the Chinese,'' Pflug said. ''We don't want to end up like Sri Lanka.''
By Guy Chazan
OZY partners with the U.K.'s Financial Times to bring you premium analysis and features. (C) The Financial Times Limited 2018.
Former Trump official: Nielsen was 'obstructionist' who wouldn't fire 'deep state' employees in DHS
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 11:44
| April 09, 2019 12:45 PM
Outgoing Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen triggered her own demise by refusing to fire a pair of agency officials that were slow-walking President Trump's immigration agenda, says a former administration official who worked with all three people.
"I think she was an obstructionist to getting rid of the bad people," the official, who asked to speak on background in order to speak openly, said in a phone call with the Washington Examiner Tuesday. The official specially mentioned the department's General Counsel John Mitnick and Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna '-- both of whom have been reported to be next on Trump's chopping block.
Their departures would follow what's already been nearly a week of upheaval at DHS. In addition to getting rid of Nielsen, Trump rescinded the nomination of acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello and terminated Secret Service Director Randolph Alles from his position.
Mitnick and Cissna are under scrutiny for not aggressively pursuing Trump's approach to stopping illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border. Both are holdovers from the DHS of John Kelly, who headed the department for the Trump administration's first six months or so, before becoming the president's chief of staff.
"When Kelly left, they never took the bad people with them. Everyone makes bad hiring decisions, [but] you don't leave them on."
The former official named Mitnick as the "reason why most of the immigration policies from DHS never came to fruition."
Mitnick, in particular, is getting blame from Trump allies for details implementing a 2015 court ruling mandating that children who arrive at the border with parents cannot be held more than 20 days in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.
A DHS official slammed the allegations.
''Outside voices criticizing the department's general counsel for working to assiduously to follow the law while implementing the president's security first agenda likely know little about the law, and less about homeland security," the official said.
Trump administration officials contend the court ruling is the reason why record-high numbers of Central American families have traveled to and illegally entered the country at the U.S.-Mexico border. That's because DHS lacks the space and legal ability to hold people for the duration of their asylum hearings.
The official said Mitnick's office is sorting through comments and making small changes to the language, but that it should not take two years to do.
"John Mitnick got really good at letting this career and bureaucracy overwhelm him. You need someone that's going to be a fierce defender of what we're doing in the Trump administration, not someone who's gong to let the deep state run everything," the official said.
Cissna, meanwhile, likely hurt his own cause by having his office issue permits for those who illegally entered the U.S. to obtain work documents while they await asylum decisions, 90 percent of which are denied.
"He's part of the reason we have a flood at the border," the official added.
But the DHS official broke with the rogue official again.
''Director Cissna has restored USCIS' focus on national security, economic prosperity, and protecting U.S. workers. He has taken numerous steps to end illegal or inappropriate benefit programs and brought integrity to the immigration application process. He has wide support from conservatives on the Hill and in the homeland security community," the DHS official said.
USCIS referred the Washington Examiner to a March list that cites 10 examples of how the agency is "improving the integrity "of the immigration system. The agency's list touted ways it says it has enhanced fraud detection among visa applicants and transparency among employment-based visa applicants."
'AIVD en MI5 gestopt met samenwerking met Oostenrijkse diensten' | NOS
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 11:19
FP–-minister Herbert Kickl, die als minister van Binnenlandse Zaken over veiligheidsdienst BVT gaat EPADe AIVD deelt vrijwel geen informatie meer met de Oostenrijkse binnenlandse veiligheidsdienst BVT. Volgens de Oostenrijkse krant Der Standard heeft de AIVD het contact met Wenen zo goed als verbroken.
Aanleiding zijn de banden die regeringspartij FP– onderhoudt met Rusland. De AIVD zou bang zijn dat de Russen inzicht krijgen in de werkwijze van de Nederlandse veiligheidsdiensten en dat AIVD-gegevens in handen komen van het Kremlin.
Ook de Britse geheime dienst MI5 heeft de verhouding met de Oostenrijkers om die reden op een laag pitje gezet, bevestigt het Oostenrijkse parlementslid Peter Pilz aan het Britse persbureau Reuters.
Verenigd RuslandWesterse veiligheidsdiensten maken zich al langer zorgen om de banden tussen de FP– en Verenigd Rusland, de partij van president Poetin. In 2016 tekenden de partijen een officieel vriendschapsverbond.
Toen de FP– een jaar later in de Oostenrijkse regering kwam, stopte deze samenwerking niet. Nadat de Russische ex-spion Sergej Skripal was vergiftigd in Engeland, zetten de meeste EU-landen Russische diplomaten het land uit. Onder druk van de FP– weigerde Oostenrijk daarin mee te gaan. De regering in Wenen beriep zich daarbij op een "traditie van neutraliteit".
De FP– is niet de grootste partij in de Oostenrijkse coalitie, maar de rechts-populistische partij levert wel de ministers die over de veiligheidsdiensten gaan: minister Kunasek van Defensie en minister Kickl van Binnenlandse Zaken.
De AIVD wil tegen de NOS niet reageren op het bericht van Der Standard. Een woordvoerder zegt nooit mededelingen te doen over het niveau van samenwerking met buitenlandse diensten.
"Wel is het zo dat we met verschillende landen verschillende gradaties van samenwerking hebben. Dat is maatwerk: de mate van samenwerking baseren we op vijf criteria: de democratische inbedding van de dienst in dat land, de mensenrechtensituatie, de professionaliteit en betrouwbaarheid van de dienst, de wettelijke bevoegdheden van de dienst en het niveau van gegevensbescherming", laat de AIVD weten.
How To Get A Blind-Spot Monitoring System For Free
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 11:08
By Christopher Jensen
Blind spot monitoring systems can cost $1,000 or more if packaged with other options. Photo by Chris Jensen
Motorists are spending millions of dollars on blind-spot monitoring systems, but they could get the same protection for free from an engineering paper published two decades ago, which explained how to eliminate the blind spot with a vehicle's existing mirrors.
The Society of Automotive Engineers paper was written by George Platzer, an engineer from Rochester, Mich. It's called ''The Geometry of Automotive Rearview Mirrors '' Why Blind Zones Exist And Strategies To Overcome Them.''
Platzer's paper begins ''Equations are derived which describe and relate the magnification, viewing angle and reflected illuminance of the convex mirrors used in automotive applications.''
Then there are 15 more pages of formulas, an examination of the problem and finally a solution that uses smarts instead of lasers or radar or cameras, although the profit margin for automakers is considerably smaller on smarts.
Here's how it works:
Drivers should lean over, put their head against the driver's window, and then adjust that mirror outward so that only a sliver of the side of the vehicle can be seen.
Next, drivers should lean over toward the middle of the vehicle '' over where the console and shifter would traditionally be found '' and adjust the passenger-side mirror outward so they can only see a sliver of the side of the vehicle.
If done properly, here's what happens. A vehicle appears in the rearview mirror. As it leaves the rearview mirror it appears in the side view mirror. Then, as it leaves the side view mirror it appears in the driver's peripheral vision.
I've used this system for years, including with vehicles with blind-spot monitoring. Typically the electronic system alerts just as I can see a vehicle appear in the side view mirror. On some systems I can see the car in the side view mirror before the electronic warning.
In his paper, Platzer suggested that automakers include his instructions in owner's manuals. I have yet to see one doing that. But suppliers and automakers are making hundreds of millions by selling blind-spot monitoring systems. They typically cost at least $1,000 and easily twice that if packaged with features such as a sunroof.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated that just four percent of registered 2013 models had blind-spot monitoring.
Nevertheless, worldwide the blind-spot detection market will grow to $2.8 billion a year, according to a 2014 study by MarketsandMarkets. The company didn't respond to a question on what the market is in 2016.
Several studies indicate blind-spot monitoring systems work reasonably well, including one released in 2014 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In December that safety agency announced it was updating the way it ranks vehicles in its crash ratings and plans to include a rating of each vehicle's crash-avoidance technology, which would include blind-spot monitoring.
An agency spokeswoman also said NHTSA ''may consider'' requiring these systems on all vehicles.
The insurance institute also sees benefits.
''Given the potential and proven benefits of collision avoidance systems, it is almost certain that these systems will reduce the number of crashes and insurance claims,'' the institute wrote in a 2014 report.
But, more studies are underway and the extent of the benefit of the electronic systems isn't yet clear.
Meanwhile, the cost-benefit ratio of Platzer's method looks pretty good.
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Opinion | Nuclear Power Can Save the World - The New York Times
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 04:02
Expanding the technology is the fastest way to slash greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonize the economy.
By Joshua S. Goldstein , Staffan A. Qvist and Steven Pinker
Drs. Goldstein and Qvist are the authors of ''A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow.'' Dr. Pinker is a psychology professor at Harvard.
April 6, 2019 Image A nuclear power plant in Cattenom, France. Credit Credit Julien Warnand/EPA, via Shutterstock As young people rightly demand real solutions to climate change, the question is not what to do '-- eliminate fossil fuels by 2050 '-- but how. Beyond decarbonizing today's electric grid, we must use clean electricity to replace fossil fuels in transportation, industry and heating. We must provide for the fast-growing energy needs of poorer countries and extend the grid to a billion people who now lack electricity. And still more electricity will be needed to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by midcentury.
Where will this gargantuan amount of carbon-free energy come from? The popular answer is renewables alone, but this is a fantasy. Wind and solar power are becoming cheaper, but they are not available around the clock, rain or shine, and batteries that could power entire cities for days or weeks show no sign of materializing any time soon. Today, renewables work only with fossil-fuel backup.
Germany, which went all-in for renewables, has seen little reduction in carbon emissions, and, according to our calculations, at Germany's rate of adding clean energy relative to gross domestic product, it would take the world more than a century to decarbonize, even if the country wasn't also retiring nuclear plants early. A few lucky countries with abundant hydroelectricity, like Norway and New Zealand, have decarbonized their electric grids, but their success cannot be scaled up elsewhere: The world's best hydro sites are already dammed.
Small wonder that a growing response to these intimidating facts is, ''We're cooked.''
But we actually have proven models for rapid decarbonization with economic and energy growth: France and Sweden. They decarbonized their grids decades ago and now emit less than a tenth of the world average of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. They remain among the world's most pleasant places to live and enjoy much cheaper electricity than Germany to boot.
They did this with nuclear power. And they did it fast, taking advantage of nuclear power's intense concentration of energy per pound of fuel. France replaced almost all of its fossil-fueled electricity with nuclear power nationwide in just 15 years; Sweden, in about 20 years. In fact, most of the fastest additions of clean electricity historically are countries rolling out nuclear power.
This is a realistic solution to humanity's greatest problem. Plants built 30 years ago in America, as in France, produce cheap, clean electricity, and nuclear power is the cheapest source in South Korea. The 98 U.S. reactors today provide nearly 20 percent of the nation's electricity generation. So why don't the United States and other countries expand their nuclear capacity? The reasons are economics and fear.
New nuclear power plants are hugely expensive to build in the United States today. This is why so few are being built. But they don't need to be so costly. The key to recovering our lost ability to build affordable nuclear plants is standardization and repetition. The first product off any assembly line is expensive '-- it cost more than $150 million to develop the first iPhone '-- but costs plunge as they are built in quantity and production kinks are worked out.
Yet as a former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission put it, while France has two types of reactors and hundreds of types of cheese, in the United States it's the other way around. In recent decades, the United States and some European countries have created ever more complicated reactors, with ever more safety features in response to public fears. New, one-of-a-kind designs, shifting regulations, supply-chain and construction snafus and a lost generation of experts (during the decades when new construction stopped) have driven costs to absurd heights.
These economic problems are solvable. China and South Korea can build reactors at one-sixth the current cost in the United States. With the political will, China could replace coal without sacrificing economic growth, reducing world carbon emissions by more than 10 percent. In the longer term, dozens of American start-ups are developing ''fourth generation'' reactors that can be mass-produced, potentially generating electricity at lower cost than fossil fuels. If American activists, politicians and regulators allow it, these reactors could be exported to the world in the 2030s and '40s, slaking poorer countries' growing thirst for energy while creating well-paying American jobs. Currently, fourth-generation nuclear power receives rare bipartisan agreement in Congress, making it a particularly appealing American policy to address climate change. Congress recently passed the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act by big margins. Both parties love innovation, entrepreneurship, exports and jobs.
This approach will need a sensible regulatory framework. Currently, as M.I.T.'s Richard Lester, a nuclear engineer, has written, a company proposing a new reactor design faces ''the prospect of having to spend a billion dollars or more on an open-'‹ended, all'‘or'‘nothing licensing process without any certainty of outcomes.'' We need government on the side of this clean-energy transformation, with supportive regulation, streamlined approval, investment in research and incentives that tilt producers and consumers away from carbon.
All this, however, depends on overcoming an irrational dread among the public and many activists. The reality is that nuclear power is the safest form of energy humanity has ever used. Mining accidents, hydroelectric dam failures, natural gas explosions and oil train crashes all kill people, sometimes in large numbers, and smoke from coal-burning kills them in enormous numbers, more than half a million per year.
By contrast, in 60 years of nuclear power, only three accidents have raised public alarm: Three Mile Island in 1979, which killed no one; Fukushima in 2011, which killed no one (many deaths resulted from the tsunami and some from a panicked evacuation near the plant); and Chernobyl in 1986, the result of extraordinary Soviet bungling, which killed 31 in the accident and perhaps several thousand from cancer, around the same number killed by coal emissions every day. (Even if we accepted recent claims that Soviet and international authorities covered up tens of thousands of Chernobyl deaths, the death toll from 60 years of nuclear power would still equal about one month of coal-related deaths.)
Nuclear power plants cannot explode like nuclear bombs, and they have not contributed to weapons proliferation, thanks to robust international controls: 24 countries have nuclear power but not weapons, while Israel and North Korea have nuclear weapons but not power.
Nuclear waste is compact '-- America's total from 60 years would fit in a Walmart '-- and is safely stored in concrete casks and pools, becoming less radioactive over time. After we have solved the more pressing challenge of climate change, we can either burn the waste as fuel in new types of reactors or bury it deep underground. It's a far easier environmental challenge than the world's enormous coal waste, routinely dumped near poor communities and often laden with toxic arsenic, mercury and lead that can last forever.
Despite its demonstrable safety, nuclear power presses several psychological buttons. First, people estimate risk according to how readily anecdotes like well-publicized nuclear accidents pop into mind. Second, the thought of radiation activates the mind-set of disgust, in which any trace of contaminant fouls whatever it contacts, despite the reality that we all live in a soup of natural radiation. Third, people feel better about eliminating a single tiny risk entirely than minimizing risk from all hazards combined. For all these reasons, nuclear power is dreaded while fossil fuels are tolerated, just as flying is scary even though driving is more dangerous.
Opinions are also driven by our cultural and political tribes. Since the late 1970s, when No Nukes became a signature cause of the Green movement, sympathy to nuclear power became, among many environmentalists, a sign of disloyalty if not treason.
Despite these challenges, psychology and politics can change quickly. As the enormity of the climate crisis sinks in and the hoped-for carbon savings from renewables don't add up, nuclear can become the new green. Protecting the environment and lifting the developing world out of poverty are progressive causes. And the millennials and Gen Z's might rethink the sacred values their boomer parents have left unexamined since the Doobie Brothers sang at the 1979 No Nukes concert.
If the American public and politicians can face real threats and overcome unfounded fears, we can solve humanity's most pressing challenge and leave our grandchildren a bright future of climate stability and abundant energy. We can dispatch, once and for all, the self-fulfilling prophesy that we're cooked.
Joshua S. Goldstein, professor emeritus of international relations at American University, and Staffan A. Qvist, a Swedish energy engineer, are the authors of ''A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow.'' Steven Pinker is a professor of psychology at Harvard University and is the author of ''Enlightenment Now.''
The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We'd like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here's our email: letters@nytimes.com.
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Washington, D.C. - Wikipedia
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 01:34
Capital of the United States
Federal capital city and federal district in the United States
Washington, D.C.
District of ColumbiaMotto(s): Justitia Omnibus(English: Justice for All )
Location in relation to Maryland and Virginia
Location within the United States
Show map of the United States
Location within North America
Show map of North America
Coordinates: 38°54'²17'"N 77°00'²59'"W >> / >> 38.90472°N 77.01639°W >> / 38.90472; -77.01639 Coordinates: 38°54'²17'"N 77°00'²59'"W >> / >> 38.90472°N 77.01639°W >> / 38.90472; -77.01639 CountryUnited StatesResidence Act1790Organized1801Consolidated1871Home Rule Act1973Named forGeorge WashingtonGovernment ' MayorMuriel Bowser (D) ' D.C. CouncilList
Phil Mendelson (D), ChairmanAnita Bonds (D), At'‘largeDavid Grosso (I), At'‘largeRobert White (D), At'‘largeElissa Silverman (I), At'‘largeBrianne Nadeau (D), Ward 1Jack Evans (D), Ward 2Mary Cheh (D),Ward 3Brandon Todd (D), Ward 4Kenyan McDuffie (D), Ward 5Charles Allen (D), Ward 6Vincent C. Gray (D), Ward 7Trayon White (D), Ward 8 ' U.S. HouseEleanor Holmes Norton (D),Delegate (At-large)Area ' Federal capital city and federal district68.34 sq mi (177.0 km2) ' Land61.05 sq mi (158.1 km2) ' Water7.29 sq mi (18.9 km2)Highest elevation409 ft (125 m)Lowest elevation0 ft (0 m)Population ' Federal capital city and federal district702,445 ' Rank20th, U.S. as of 2017[update] incorporated places estimate ' Density11,367/sq mi (4,389/km2) ' Metro6,216,589 (6th, U.S.) ' CSA9,665,892 (4th, U.S.) ' DemonymWashingtonian[1][2]Time zoneUTC''5 (EST) ' Summer (DST) UTC''4 (EDT)ZIP Codes20001''20098, 20201''20599
Area code(s)202Major airportsCommuter Rail Rapid Transit Website dc.gov Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States.[4] Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father.[5] As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital.[6] The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.[7][8]
The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress, and the District is therefore not a part of any state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. The City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.
Washington had an estimated population of 702,455 as of July 2018[update],[9] making it the 20th most populous city in the United States. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than one million during the workweek.[10] Washington's metropolitan area, the country's sixth largest, had a 2017 estimated population of 6.2 million residents.[11]
All three branches of the U.S. federal government are centered in the District: Congress (legislative), president (executive), and the U.S. Supreme Court (judicial). Washington is home to many national monuments, and museums, primarily situated on or around the National Mall. The city hosts 177 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit, lobbying groups, and professional associations, including the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of American States, AARP, the National Geographic Society, the Human Rights Campaign, the International Finance Corporation, and the American Red Cross.
A locally elected mayor and a 13'‘member council have governed the District since 1973. However, Congress maintains supreme authority over the city and may overturn local laws. D.C. residents elect a non-voting, at-large congressional delegate to the House of Representatives, but the District has no representation in the Senate. The District receives three electoral votes in presidential elections as permitted by the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1961.
History Various tribes of the Algonquian-speaking Piscataway people (also known as the Conoy) inhabited the lands around the Potomac River when Europeans first visited the area in the early 17th century. One group known as the Nacotchtank (also called the Nacostines by Catholic missionaries) maintained settlements around the Anacostia River within the present-day District of Columbia. Conflicts with European colonists and neighboring tribes forced the relocation of the Piscataway people, some of whom established a new settlement in 1699 near Point of Rocks, Maryland.[12]
In his Federalist No. 43, published January 23, 1788, James Madison argued that the new federal government would need authority over a national capital to provide for its own maintenance and safety.[13] Five years earlier, a band of unpaid soldiers besieged Congress while its members were meeting in Philadelphia. Known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, the event emphasized the need for the national government not to rely on any state for its own security.[14]
Article One, Section Eight, of the Constitution permits the establishment of a "District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States".[15] However, the Constitution does not specify a location for the capital. In what is now known as the Compromise of 1790, Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson came to an agreement that the federal government would pay each state's remaining Revolutionary War debts in exchange for establishing the new national capital in the southern United States.[16][a]
Foundation On July 9, 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act, which approved the creation of a national capital on the Potomac River. The exact location was to be selected by President George Washington, who signed the bill into law on July 16. Formed from land donated by the states of Maryland and Virginia, the initial shape of the federal district was a square measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (259 km2).[17][b]
Two pre-existing settlements were included in the territory: the port of Georgetown, Maryland, founded in 1751,[18] and the city of Alexandria, Virginia, founded in 1749.[19] During 1791''92, Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, including a free African American astronomer named Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the borders of the federal district and placed boundary stones at every mile point.[20] Many of the stones are still standing.[21]
A new federal city was then constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the three commissioners overseeing the capital's construction named the city in honor of President Washington. The federal district was named Columbia (a feminine form of "Columbus"), which was a poetic name for the United States commonly in use at that time.[22][23] Congress held its first session in Washington on November 17, 1800.[24][25]
Congress passed the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 that officially organized the District and placed the entire territory under the exclusive control of the federal government. Further, the unincorporated area within the District was organized into two counties: the County of Washington to the east of the Potomac and the County of Alexandria to the west.[26] After the passage of this Act, citizens living in the District were no longer considered residents of Maryland or Virginia, which therefore ended their representation in Congress.[27]
Burning during the War of 1812 On August 24''25, 1814, in a raid known as the Burning of Washington, British forces invaded the capital during the War of 1812. The Capitol, Treasury, and White House were burned and gutted during the attack.[28] Most government buildings were repaired quickly; however, the Capitol was largely under construction at the time and was not completed in its current form until 1868.[29]
Retrocession and the Civil War In the 1830s, the District's southern territory of Alexandria went into economic decline partly due to neglect by Congress.[30] The city of Alexandria was a major market in the American slave trade, and pro-slavery residents feared that abolitionists in Congress would end slavery in the District, further depressing the economy. Alexandria's citizens petitioned Virginia to take back the land it had donated to form the District, through a process known as retrocession.[31]
The Virginia General Assembly voted in February 1846 to accept the return of Alexandria and on July 9, 1846, Congress agreed to return all the territory that had been ceded by Virginia. Therefore, the District's current area consists only of the portion originally donated by Maryland.[30] Confirming the fears of pro-slavery Alexandrians, the Compromise of 1850 outlawed the slave trade in the District, although not slavery itself.[32]
The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 led to the expansion of the federal government and notable growth in the District's population, including a large influx of freed slaves.[33] President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act in 1862, which ended slavery in the District of Columbia and freed about 3,100 enslaved persons, nine months prior to the Emancipation Proclamation.[34] In 1868, Congress granted the District's African American male residents the right to vote in municipal elections.[33]
Growth and redevelopment By 1870, the District's population had grown 75% from the previous census to nearly 132,000 residents.[35] Despite the city's growth, Washington still had dirt roads and lacked basic sanitation. Some members of Congress suggested moving the capital further west, but President Ulysses S. Grant refused to consider such a proposal.[36]
Congress passed the Organic Act of 1871, which repealed the individual charters of the cities of Washington and Georgetown, and created a new territorial government for the whole District of Columbia.[37] President Grant appointed Alexander Robey Shepherd to the position of governor in 1873. Shepherd authorized large-scale projects that greatly modernized Washington, but ultimately bankrupted the District government. In 1874, Congress replaced the territorial government with an appointed three-member Board of Commissioners.[38]
The city's first motorized streetcars began service in 1888 and generated growth in areas of the District beyond the City of Washington's original boundaries. Washington's urban plan was expanded throughout the District in the following decades.[39] Georgetown was formally annexed by the City of Washington in 1895.[40] However, the city had poor housing conditions and strained public works. Washington was the first city in the nation to undergo urban renewal projects as part of the "City Beautiful movement" in the early 1900s.[41]
Increased federal spending as a result of the New Deal in the 1930s led to the construction of new government buildings, memorials, and museums in Washington.[42]World War II further increased government activity, adding to the number of federal employees in the capital;[43] by 1950, the District's population reached its peak of 802,178 residents.[35]
Civil rights and home rule era The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1961, granting the District three votes in the Electoral College for the election of president and vice president, but still no voting representation in Congress.[44]
After the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968, riots broke out in the District, primarily in the U Street, 14th Street, 7th Street, and H Street corridors, centers of black residential and commercial areas. The riots raged for three days until more than 13,600 federal troops stopped the violence. Many stores and other buildings were burned; rebuilding was not completed until the late 1990s.[45]
In 1973, Congress enacted the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, providing for an elected mayor and 13-member council for the District.[46] In 1975, Walter Washington became the first elected and first black mayor of the District.[47]
Geography Washington, D.C. is located in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. East Coast. Due to the District of Columbia retrocession, the city has a total area of 68.34 square miles (177.0 km2), of which 61.05 square miles (158.1 km2) is land and 7.29 square miles (18.9 km2) (10.67%) is water.[48] The District is bordered by Montgomery County, Maryland to the northwest; Prince George's County, Maryland to the east; Arlington County, Virginia to the south; and Alexandria, Virginia to the west.
The south bank of the Potomac River forms the District's border with Virginia and has two major tributaries: the Anacostia River and Rock Creek.[49]Tiber Creek, a natural watercourse that once passed through the National Mall, was fully enclosed underground during the 1870s.[50] The creek also formed a portion of the now-filled Washington City Canal, which allowed passage through the city to the Anacostia River from 1815 until the 1850s.[51] The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal starts in Georgetown and was used during the 19th century to bypass the Little Falls of the Potomac River, located at the northwest edge of Washington at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line.[52]
The highest natural elevation in the District is 409 feet (125 m) above sea level at Fort Reno Park in upper northwest Washington.[53] The lowest point is sea level at the Potomac River.[54] The geographic center of Washington is near the intersection of 4th and L Streets NW.[55][56][57]
The District has 7,464 acres (30.21 km2) of parkland, about 19% of the city's total area and the second-highest percentage among high-density U.S. cities.[58] This factor contributed to Washington, D.C., being ranked as third in the nation for park access and quality in the 2018 ParkScore ranking of the park systems of the 100 most populous cities in the United States, according to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.[59]
The National Park Service manages most of the 9,122 acres (36.92 km2) of city land owned by the U.S. government.[60]Rock Creek Park is a 1,754-acre (7.10 km2) urban forest in Northwest Washington, which extends 9.3 miles (15.0 km) through a stream valley that bisects the city. Established in 1890, it is the country's fourth-oldest national park and is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including raccoon, deer, owls, and coyotes.[61] Other National Park Service properties include the C&O Canal National Historical Park, the National Mall and Memorial Parks, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Columbia Island, Fort Dupont Park, Meridian Hill Park, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, and Anacostia Park.[62] The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation maintains the city's 900 acres (3.6 km2) of athletic fields and playgrounds, 40 swimming pools, and 68 recreation centers.[63] The U.S. Department of Agriculture operates the 446-acre (1.80 km2) U.S. National Arboretum in Northeast Washington.[64]
Climate Washington is in the northern part of the humid subtropical climate zone (K¶ppen: Cfa).[65] The Trewartha classification is defined as an oceanic climate (Do).[66] Winters are usually chilly with light snow, and summers are hot and humid. The District is in plant hardiness zone 8a near downtown, and zone 7b elsewhere in the city, indicating a humid subtropical climate.[67]
Spring and fall are mild to warm, while winter is chilly with annual snowfall averaging 15.5 inches (39 cm). Winter temperatures average around 38 °F (3 °C) from mid-December to mid-February.[68] Summers are hot and humid with a July daily average of 79.8 °F (26.6 °C) and average daily relative humidity around 66%, which can cause moderate personal discomfort.[69] The combination of heat and humidity in the summer brings very frequent thunderstorms, some of which occasionally produce tornadoes in the area.[70]
Blizzards affect Washington on average once every four to six years. The most violent storms are called "nor'easters", which often affect large sections of the East Coast.[71] From January 27 to January 28, 1922, the city officially received 28 inches (71 cm) of snowfall, the largest snowstorm since official measurements began in 1885.[72] According to notes kept at the time, the city received between 30 and 36 inches (76 and 91 cm) from a snowstorm in January 1772.[73]
Hurricanes (or their remnants) occasionally track through the area in late summer and early fall but are often weak by the time they reach Washington, partly due to the city's inland location.[74] Flooding of the Potomac River, however, caused by a combination of high tide, storm surge, and runoff, has been known to cause extensive property damage in the neighborhood of Georgetown.[75]
Precipitation occurs throughout the year.[76]
The highest recorded temperature was 106 °F (41 °C) on August 6, 1918, and on July 20, 1930.[77] while the lowest recorded temperature was ''15 °F (''26 °C) on February 11, 1899, right before the Great Blizzard of 1899.[71] During a typical year, the city averages about 37 days at or above 90 °F (32 °C) and 64 nights at or below 32 °F (0 °C).[68] On average, the first day at or below 32 °F (0 °C) is November 18 and the last day is March 27.[78][79]
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYearRecord high °F (°C)79(26)84(29)93(34)95(35)99(37)104(40)106(41)106(41)104(40)96(36)86(30)79(26)106(41)Mean maximum °F (°C)65.5(18.6)67.5(19.7)78.0(25.6)85.8(29.9)90.3(32.4)95.2(35.1)97.5(36.4)96.5(35.8)91.6(33.1)83.7(28.7)74.9(23.8)66.4(19.1)98.8(37.1)Average high °F (°C)43.4(6.3)47.1(8.4)55.9(13.3)66.6(19.2)75.4(24.1)84.2(29.0)88.4(31.3)86.5(30.3)79.5(26.4)68.4(20.2)57.9(14.4)46.8(8.2)66.8(19.3)Average low °F (°C)28.6(''1.9)30.9(''0.6)37.6(3.1)47.0(8.3)56.5(13.6)66.3(19.1)71.1(21.7)69.7(20.9)62.4(16.9)50.6(10.3)41.2(5.1)32.5(0.3)49.6(9.8)Mean minimum °F (°C)12.9(''10.6)16.6(''8.6)22.9(''5.1)33.9(1.1)44.6(7.0)54.8(12.7)62.1(16.7)60.1(15.6)49.7(9.8)38.0(3.3)28.7(''1.8)18.2(''7.7)9.9(''12.3)Record low °F (°C)''14(''26)''15(''26)4(''16)15(''9)33(1)43(6)52(11)49(9)36(2)26(''3)11(''12)''13(''25)''15(''26)Average precipitation inches (mm)2.81(71)2.62(67)3.48(88)3.06(78)3.99(101)3.78(96)3.73(95)2.93(74)3.72(94)3.40(86)3.17(81)3.05(77)39.74(1,009)Average snowfall inches (cm)5.6(14)5.7(14)1.3(3.3)trace0(0)0(0)0(0)0(0)0(0)0(0)0.5(1.3)2.3(5.8)15.4(39)Average precipitation days ('‰¥ 0.01 in) 9.69.010.510.411.110.710.38.28.37.78.69.7114.1Average snowy days ('‰¥ 0.1 in) 3.02.40.90.10000000.21.58.1Average relative humidity (%)62.160.558.658.064.565.866.969.369.767.464.764.164.3Mean monthly sunshine hours144.6151.8204.0228.2260.5283.2280.5263.1225.0203.6150.2133.02,527.7Percent possible sunshine48505557596462626059504557Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961''1990)[68][81][76][82]Climate data for WashingtonMonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYearMean daily daylight hours10.011.012.013.014.015.015.014.012.011.010.09.012.2Average Ultraviolet index2357899874325.6Source: Weather Atlas [83]Cityscape Washington, D.C. is a planned city. In 1791, President Washington commissioned Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant, a French-born architect and city planner, to design the new capital. He enlisted Scottish surveyor Alexander Ralston to help lay out the city plan.[84] The L'Enfant Plan featured broad streets and avenues radiating out from rectangles, providing room for open space and landscaping.[85] He based his design on plans of cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, Karlsruhe, and Milan that Thomas Jefferson had sent to him.[86] L'Enfant's design also envisioned a garden-lined "grand avenue" approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) in length and 400 feet (120 m) wide in the area that is now the National Mall.[87] President Washington dismissed L'Enfant in March 1792 due to conflicts with the three commissioners appointed to supervise the capital's construction. Andrew Ellicott, who had worked with L'Enfant surveying the city, was then tasked with completing the design. Though Ellicott made revisions to the original plans '' including changes to some street patterns '' L'Enfant is still credited with the overall design of the city.[88]
By the early 1900s, L'Enfant's vision of a grand national capital had become marred by slums and randomly placed buildings, including a railroad station on the National Mall. Congress formed a special committee charged with beautifying Washington's ceremonial core.[41] What became known as the McMillan Plan was finalized in 1901 and included re-landscaping the Capitol grounds and the National Mall, clearing slums, and establishing a new citywide park system. The plan is thought to have largely preserved L'Enfant's intended design.[85]
By law, Washington's skyline is low and sprawling. The federal Height of Buildings Act of 1910 allows buildings that are no taller than the width of the adjacent street, plus 20 feet (6.1 m).[89] Despite popular belief, no law has ever limited buildings to the height of the United States Capitol Building or the 555-foot (169 m) Washington Monument,[57] which remains the District's tallest structure. City leaders have criticized the height restriction as a primary reason why the District has limited affordable housing and traffic problems caused by urban sprawl.[89]
The District is divided into four quadrants of unequal area: Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southeast (SE), and Southwest (SW). The axes bounding the quadrants radiate from the U.S. Capitol building.[90] All road names include the quadrant abbreviation to indicate their location and house numbers generally correspond with the number of blocks away from the Capitol. Most streets are set out in a grid pattern with east''west streets named with letters (e.g., C Street SW), north''south streets with numbers (e.g., 4th Street NW), and diagonal avenues, many of which are named after states.[90]
The City of Washington was bordered by Boundary Street to the north (renamed Florida Avenue in 1890), Rock Creek to the west, and the Anacostia River to the east.[39][85] Washington's street grid was extended, where possible, throughout the District starting in 1888.[91]Georgetown's streets were renamed in 1895.[40] Some streets are particularly noteworthy, such as Pennsylvania Avenue '' which connects the White House to the Capitol, and K Street '' which houses the offices of many lobbying groups.[92] Washington hosts 177 foreign embassies, constituting approximately 297 buildings beyond the more than 1,600 residential properties owned by foreign countries, many of which are on a section of Massachusetts Avenue informally known as Embassy Row.[93]
Architecture The architecture of Washington varies greatly. Six of the top 10 buildings in the American Institute of Architects' 2007 ranking of "America's Favorite Architecture" are in the District of Columbia:[94] the White House, the Washington National Cathedral, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the United States Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The neoclassical, Georgian, gothic, and modern architectural styles are all reflected among those six structures and many other prominent edifices in Washington. Notable exceptions include buildings constructed in the French Second Empire style such as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.[95]
Outside downtown Washington, architectural styles are even more varied. Historic buildings are designed primarily in the Queen Anne, Chteauesque, Richardsonian Romanesque, Georgian revival, Beaux-Arts, and a variety of Victorian styles. Rowhouses are especially prominent in areas developed after the Civil War and typically follow Federalist and late Victorian designs.[96] Georgetown's Old Stone House was built in 1765, making it the oldest-standing original building in the city.[97] Founded in 1789, Georgetown University features a mix of Romanesque and Gothic Revival architecture.[95] The Ronald Reagan Building is the largest building in the District with a total area of approximately 3.1 million square feet (288,000 m2).[98]
Demographics Historical populationCensusPop.%±18008,144'--181015,47190.0%182023,33650.8%183030,26129.7%184033,74511.5%185051,68753.2%186075,08045.3%1870131,70075.4%1880177,62434.9%1890230,39229.7%1900278,71821.0%1910331,06918.8%1920437,57132.2%1930486,86911.3%1940663,09136.2%1950802,17821.0%1960763,956''4.8%1970756,510''1.0%1980638,333''15.6%1990606,900''4.9%2000572,059''5.7%2010601,7235.2%Est. 2018702,455[9]16.7%Source:[35][99] Note:[e]The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the District's population was 702,455 as of July 2018, an increase of more than 100,000 people since the 2010 United States Census.[9] This continues a growth trend since 2000, following a half-century of population decline.[104] The city was the 24th most populous place in the United States as of 2010[update].[105] According to data from 2010, commuters from the suburbs increase the District's daytime population to over one million people.[106] If the District were a state it would rank 49th in population, ahead of Vermont and Wyoming.[3]
The Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes the District and surrounding suburbs, is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the United States with an estimated 6 million residents in 2014.[107] When the Washington area is included with Baltimore and its suburbs, the Baltimore''Washington Metropolitan Area had a population exceeding 9.6 million residents in 2016, the fourth-largest combined statistical area in the country.[108]
According to 2017 Census Bureau data, the population of Washington, D.C., was 47.1% Black or African American, 45.1% White (36.8% non-Hispanic White), 4.3% Asian, 0.6% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Individuals from two or more races made up 2.7% of the population. Hispanics of any race made up 11.0% of the District's population.[3]
Map of racial distribution in Washington, D.C., 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people:
White
,
Black
,
Asian
,
Hispanic
or
Other (yellow)
Washington has had a significant African American population since the city's foundation.[109] African American residents composed about 30% of the District's total population between 1800 and 1940.[35] The black population reached a peak of 70% by 1970, but has since steadily declined due to many African Americans moving to the surrounding suburbs. Partly as a result of gentrification, there was a 31.4% increase in the non-Hispanic white population and an 11.5% decrease in the black population between 2000 and 2010.[110]
About 17% of D.C. residents were age 18 or younger in 2010; lower than the U.S. average of 24%. However, at 34 years old, the District had the lowest median age compared to the 50 states.[111] As of 2010[update], there were an estimated 81,734 immigrants living in Washington, D.C. Major sources of immigration include El Salvador, Vietnam, and Ethiopia, with a concentration of Salvadorans in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.[113]
Researchers found that there were 4,822 same-sex couples in the District of Columbia in 2010; about 2% of total households.[114] Legislation authorizing same-sex marriage passed in 2009, and the District began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in March 2010.[115]
A 2007 report found that about one-third of District residents were functionally illiterate, compared to a national rate of about one in five. This is attributed in part to immigrants who are not proficient in English.[116] As of 2011[update], 85% of D.C. residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language.[117] Half of residents had at least a four-year college degree in 2006. D.C. residents had a personal income per capita of $55,755; higher than any of the 50 states.[118] However, 19% of residents were below the poverty level in 2005, higher than any state except Mississippi.[119]
Of the District's population, 17% is Baptist, 13% is Catholic, 6% is evangelical Protestant, 4% is Methodist, 3% is Episcopalian/Anglican, 3% is Jewish, 2% is Eastern Orthodox, 1% is Pentecostal, 1% is Buddhist, 1% is Adventist, 1% is Lutheran, 1% is Muslim, 1% is Presbyterian, 1% is Mormon, and 1% is Hindu.[120][f]
As of 2010[update], over 90% of D.C. residents had health insurance coverage, the second-highest rate in the nation. This is due in part to city programs that help provide insurance to low-income individuals who do not qualify for other types of coverage.[121] A 2009 report found that at least 3% of District residents have HIV or AIDS, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) characterizes as a "generalized and severe" epidemic.[122]
Crime Crime in Washington, D.C., is concentrated in areas associated with poverty, drug abuse, and gangs. A 2010 study found that 5% of city blocks accounted for over one-quarter of the District's total crime.[124]
The more affluent neighborhoods of Northwest Washington are typically safe, especially in areas with concentrations of government operations, such as Downtown Washington, D.C., Foggy Bottom, Embassy Row, and Penn Quarter, but reports of violent crime increase in poorer neighborhoods generally concentrated in the eastern portion of the city.[124] Approximately 60,000 residents are ex-convicts.[125]
In 2012, Washington's annual murder count had dropped to 88, the lowest total since 1961.[126] The murder rate has since risen from that historic low, though it remains close to half the rate of the early 2000s.[127] Washington was once described as the "murder capital" of the United States during the early 1990s.[128] The number of murders peaked in 1991 at 479, but the level of violence then began to decline significantly.[129]
In 2016, the District's Metropolitan Police Department tallied 135 homicides, a 53% increase from 2012 but a 17% decrease from 2015.[130] Many neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights and Logan Circle are becoming safer and vibrant. However, incidents of robberies and thefts have remained higher in these areas because of increased nightlife activity and greater numbers of affluent residents.[131] Even still, citywide reports of both property and violent crimes have declined by nearly half since their most recent highs in the mid-1990s.[132]
On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States held in District of Columbia v. Heller that the city's 1976 handgun ban violated the right to keep and bear arms as protected under the Second Amendment.[133] However, the ruling does not prohibit all forms of gun control; laws requiring firearm registration remain in place, as does the city's assault weapon ban.[134]
In addition to the District's own Metropolitan Police Department, many federal law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction in the city as well '' most visibly the U.S. Park Police, founded in 1791.[135]
Economy Washington has a growing, diversified economy with an increasing percentage of professional and business service jobs.[136] The District's gross state product in 2018-Q2 was $141 billion.[137] The Washington Metropolitan Area's gross product was $435 billion in 2014, making it the sixth-largest metropolitan economy in the United States.[138] Between 2009 and 2016, GDP per capita in Washington has consistently ranked on the very top among U.S. states.[139] In 2016, at $160,472, its GDP per capita is almost three times as high as that of Massachusetts, which was ranked second in the nation.[139] As of June 2011[update], the Washington Metropolitan Area had an unemployment rate of 6.2%; the second-lowest rate among the 49 largest metro areas in the nation.[140] The District of Columbia itself had an unemployment rate of 9.8% during the same time period.[141]
In December 2017, 25% of the employees in Washington, D.C., were employed by a federal governmental agency.[142][143] This is thought to immunize Washington, D.C., to national economic downturns because the federal government continues operations even during recessions.[144] Many organizations such as law firms, defense contractors, civilian contractors, nonprofit organizations, lobbying firms, trade unions, industry trade groups, and professional associations have their headquarters in or near Washington, D.C., in order to be close to the federal government.[92]
Tourism is Washington's second-largest industry. Approximately 18.9 million visitors contributed an estimated $4.8 billion to the local economy in 2012.[145] The District also hosts nearly 200 foreign embassies and international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Pan American Health Organization. In 2008, the foreign diplomatic corps in Washington employed about 10,000 people and contributed an estimated $400 million annually to the local economy.[93]
The District has growing industries not directly related to government, especially in the areas of education, finance, public policy, and scientific research. Georgetown University, George Washington University, Washington Hospital Center, Children's National Medical Center and Howard University are the top five non-government-related employers in the city as of 2009[update].[146] According to statistics compiled in 2011, four of the largest 500 companies in the country were headquartered in the District.[147] In the 2017 Global Financial Centres Index, Washington was ranked as having the 12th most competitive financial center in the world, and fifth most competitive in the United States (after New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston).[148]
Culture Landmarks The National Mall is a large, open park in downtown Washington between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol. Given its prominence, the mall is often the location of political protests, concerts, festivals, and presidential inaugurations. The Washington Monument and the Jefferson Pier are near the center of the mall, south of the White House. Also on the mall are the National World War II Memorial at the east end of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.[149]
Directly south of the mall, the Tidal Basin features rows of Japanese cherry blossom trees that originated as gifts from the nation of Japan.[150] The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the District of Columbia War Memorial are around the Tidal Basin.[149]
The National Archives houses thousands of documents important to American history, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.[151] Located in three buildings on Capitol Hill, the Library of Congress is the largest library complex in the world with a collection of over 147 million books, manuscripts, and other materials.[152] The United States Supreme Court Building was completed in 1935; before then, the court held sessions in the Old Senate Chamber of the Capitol.[153]
Museums The Smithsonian Institution is an educational foundation chartered by Congress in 1846 that maintains most of the nation's official museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. The U.S. government partially funds the Smithsonian and its collections are open to the public free of charge.[155] The Smithsonian's locations had a combined total of 30 million visits in 2013. The most visited museum is the National Museum of Natural History on the National Mall.[156] Other Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries on the mall are: the National Air and Space Museum; the National Museum of African Art; the National Museum of American History; the National Museum of the American Indian; the Sackler and Freer galleries, which both focus on Asian art and culture; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; the Arts and Industries Building; the S. Dillon Ripley Center; and the Smithsonian Institution Building (also known as "The Castle"), which serves as the institution's headquarters.[157]The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are housed in the Old Patent Office Building, near Washington's Chinatown.[158] The Renwick Gallery is officially part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum but is in a separate building near the White House. Other Smithsonian museums and galleries include: the Anacostia Community Museum in Southeast Washington; the National Postal Museum near Union Station; and the National Zoo in Woodley Park.[157]
The National Gallery of Art is on the National Mall near the Capitol and features works of American and European art. The gallery and its collections are owned by the U.S. government but are not a part of the Smithsonian Institution.[159] The National Building Museum, which occupies the former Pension Building near Judiciary Square, was chartered by Congress and hosts exhibits on architecture, urban planning, and design.[160]
There are many private art museums in the District of Columbia, which house major collections and exhibits open to the public such as the National Museum of Women in the Arts and The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle, the first museum of modern art in the United States.[161] Other private museums in Washington include the Newseum, the O Street Museum Foundation, the International Spy Museum, the National Geographic Society Museum, the Marian Koshland Science Museum and the Museum of the Bible. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum near the National Mall maintains exhibits, documentation, and artifacts related to the Holocaust.[162]
Arts Washington, D.C., is a national center for the arts. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, and the Washington Ballet. The Kennedy Center Honors are awarded each year to those in the performing arts who have contributed greatly to the cultural life of the United States.[163] The historic Ford's Theatre, site of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, continues to operate as a functioning performance space as well as a museum.[164]
The Marine Barracks near Capitol Hill houses the United States Marine Band; founded in 1798, it is the country's oldest professional musical organization.[165]American march composer and Washington-native John Philip Sousa led the Marine Band from 1880 until 1892.[166] Founded in 1925, the United States Navy Band has its headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard and performs at official events and public concerts around the city.[167]Washington has a strong local theater tradition. Founded in 1950, Arena Stage achieved national attention and spurred growth in the city's independent theater movement that now includes organizations such as the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and the Studio Theatre.[168] Arena Stage opened its newly renovated home in the city's emerging Southwest waterfront area in 2010.[169] The GALA Hispanic Theatre, now housed in the historic Tivoli Theatre in Columbia Heights, was founded in 1976 and is a National Center for the Latino Performing Arts.[170]
The U Street Corridor in Northwest D.C., known as "Washington's Black Broadway", is home to institutions like the Howard Theatre, Bohemian Caverns, and the Lincoln Theatre, which hosted music legends such as Washington-native Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.[171] Washington has its own native music genre called go-go; a post-funk, percussion-driven flavor of rhythm and blues that was popularized in the late 1970s by D.C. band leader Chuck Brown.[172]
The District is an important center for indie culture and music in the United States. The label Dischord Records, formed by Ian MacKaye, was one of the most crucial independent labels in the genesis of 1980s punk and eventually indie rock in the 1990s.[173] Modern alternative and indie music venues like The Black Cat and the 9:30 Club bring popular acts to the U Street area.[174]
Sports Washington is one of 13 cities in the United States with teams from all four major professional men's sports and is home to one major professional women's team. The Washington Wizards (National Basketball Association), the Washington Capitals (National Hockey League), and the Washington Mystics (Women's National Basketball Association) play at the Capital One Arena in Chinatown. Nationals Park, which opened in Southeast D.C. in 2008, is home to the Washington Nationals (Major League Baseball). D.C. United (Major League Soccer) plays at Audi Field. The Washington Redskins (National Football League) play at FedExField in nearby Landover, Maryland.
Current D.C. teams have won a combined eleven professional league championships: the Washington Redskins have won five;[175] D.C. United has won four;[176] and the Washington Wizards (then the Washington Bullets) and Washington Capitals have each won a single championship.[177][178]
Other professional and semi-professional teams in Washington include: the Washington Kastles (World TeamTennis); the Washington D.C. Slayers (USA Rugby League); the Baltimore Washington Eagles (U.S. Australian Football League); the D.C. Divas (Independent Women's Football League); and the Potomac Athletic Club RFC (Rugby Super League). The William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park hosts the Citi Open. Washington is also home to two major annual marathon races: the Marine Corps Marathon, which is held every autumn, and the Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon held in the spring. The Marine Corps Marathon began in 1976 and is sometimes called "The People's Marathon" because it is the largest marathon that does not offer prize money to participants.[179]
The District's four NCAA Division I teams, American Eagles, George Washington Colonials, Georgetown Hoyas and Howard Bison and Lady Bison, have a broad following. The Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team is the most notable and also plays at the Capital One Arena. From 2008 to 2012, the District hosted an annual college football bowl game at RFK Stadium, called the Military Bowl.[180] The D.C. area is home to one regional sports television network, Comcast SportsNet (CSN), based in Bethesda, Maryland.
Media Washington, D.C., is a prominent center for national and international media. The Washington Post, founded in 1877, is the oldest and most-read local daily newspaper in Washington.[181] "The Post", as it is popularly called, is well known as the newspaper that exposed the Watergate scandal.[182] It had the sixth-highest readership of all news dailies in the country in 2011.[183]The Washington Post Company also publishes a daily free commuter newspaper called the Express, which summarizes events, sports and entertainment, as well as the Spanish-language paper El Tiempo Latino.
Another popular local daily is The Washington Times, the city's second general interest broadsheet and also an influential paper in conservative political circles.[184] The alternative weekly Washington City Paper also has a substantial readership in the Washington area.[185][186]
Some community and specialty papers focus on neighborhood and cultural issues, including the weekly Washington Blade and Metro Weekly, which focus on LGBT issues; the Washington Informer and The Washington Afro American, which highlight topics of interest to the black community; and neighborhood newspapers published by The Current Newspapers. Congressional Quarterly, The Hill, Politico and Roll Call newspapers focus exclusively on issues related to Congress and the federal government. Other publications based in Washington include the National Geographic magazine and political publications such as The Washington Examiner, The New Republic and Washington Monthly.[187]
The Washington Metropolitan Area is the ninth-largest television media market in the nation, with two million homes, approximately 2% of the country's population.[188] Several media companies and cable television channels have their headquarters in the area, including C-SPAN; Black Entertainment Television (BET); Radio One; the National Geographic Channel; Smithsonian Networks; National Public Radio (NPR); Travel Channel (in Chevy Chase, Maryland); Discovery Communications (in Silver Spring, Maryland); and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) (in Arlington, Virginia). The headquarters of Voice of America, the U.S. government's international news service, is near the Capitol in Southwest Washington.[189]
Washington has two local NPR affiliates, WAMU and WETA.
Government and politics Politics Article One, Section Eight of the United States Constitution grants the United States Congress "exclusive jurisdiction" over the city. The District did not have an elected local government until the passage of the 1973 Home Rule Act. The Act devolved certain Congressional powers to an elected mayor, currently Muriel Bowser, and the thirteen-member Council of the District of Columbia. However, Congress retains the right to review and overturn laws created by the council and intervene in local affairs.[190]
Each of the city's eight wards elects a single member of the council and residents elect four at-large members to represent the District as a whole. The council chair is also elected at-large.[191] There are 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) elected by small neighborhood districts. ANCs can issue recommendations on all issues that affect residents; government agencies take their advice under careful consideration.[192] The Attorney General of the District of Columbia, currently Karl Racine, is elected to a four-year term.[193]
Washington, D.C., observes all federal holidays and also celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16, which commemorates the end of slavery in the District.[34] The flag of Washington, D.C., was adopted in 1938 and is a variation on George Washington's family coat of arms.[194]
Washington, D.C. is overwhelmingly Democratic, having voted for the Democratic candidate solidly since 1964. Each Republican candidate was voted down in favor of the Democratic candidate by a margin of at least 56 percentage points each time; the closest, albeit very large, margin between the two parties in a presidential election was in 1972, when Richard Nixon secured 21.6 percent of the vote to George McGovern's 78.1 percent. Since then, the Republican candidate has never received more than 20 percent of the vote.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the District since 2010, and conversion therapy has been forbidden since 2015. Assisted suicide is also permitted in the district, with a bill legalizing the practice being introduced in 2015, signed by mayor Muriel Bowser in 2016 and going into effect in 2017, making Washington, D.C. the seventh jurisdiction in the United States to have legalized assisted suicide, along with Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana and Vermont.
Budgetary issues The mayor and council set local taxes and a budget, which must be approved by Congress. The Government Accountability Office and other analysts have estimated that the city's high percentage of tax-exempt property and the Congressional prohibition of commuter taxes create a structural deficit in the District's local budget of anywhere between $470 million and over $1 billion per year. Congress typically provides additional grants for federal programs such as Medicaid and the operation of the local justice system; however, analysts claim that the payments do not fully resolve the imbalance.[195][196]
The city's local government, particularly during the mayoralty of Marion Barry, was criticized for mismanagement and waste.[197] During his administration in 1989, The Washington Monthly magazine claimed that the District had "the worst city government in America."[198] In 1995, at the start of Barry's fourth term, Congress created the District of Columbia Financial Control Board to oversee all municipal spending.[199] Mayor Anthony Williams won election in 1998 and oversaw a period of urban renewal and budget surpluses.
The District regained control over its finances in 2001 and the oversight board's operations were suspended.[200]
Voting rights debate Presidential election results[201]YearDemocraticRepublican196485.5% 169,79614.5% 28,801196881.8% 139,56618.2% 31,012197278.1% 127,62721.6% 35,226197681.6% 137,81816.5% 27,873198074.9% 130,23113.4% 26,218198485.4% 180,40813.7% 29,009198882.6% 159,40714.3% 27,590199284.6% 192,6199.1% 20,698199685.2% 158,2209.3% 17,339200085.2% 171,9239.0% 18,073200489.0% 202,9709.3% 21,256200892.5% 245,8006.5% 17,367201290.9% 267,0707.3% 21,381201690.9% 282,8304.1% 12,723Mayoral election results[201]YearDemocraticRepublican197482.5% 79,0653.7% 3,501197870.2% 68,35428.1% 27,366198281.0% 95,00714.1% 16,502198661.4% 79,14232.8% 42,354199086.2% 140,01111.5% 18,653199456.0% 102,88441.9% 76,902199866.2% 92,50430.2% 42,280200260.6% 79,84134.5% 45,407200689.7% 98,7406.1% 6,744201074.2% 97,978''201454.5% 96,666[g]201876.4% 171,608''The District is not a state and therefore has no voting representation in Congress. D.C. residents elect a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives, currently Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C. At-Large), who may sit on committees, participate in debate, and introduce legislation, but cannot vote on the House floor. The District has no official representation in the United States Senate. Neither chamber seats the District's elected "shadow" representative or senators. Unlike residents of U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico or Guam, which also have non-voting delegates, D.C., residents are subject to all federal taxes.[202] In the financial year 2012, D.C., residents and businesses paid $20.7 billion in federal taxes; more than the taxes collected from 19 states and the highest federal taxes per capita.[203]
A 2005 poll found that 78% of Americans did not know that residents of the District of Columbia have less representation in Congress than residents of the 50 states.[204] Efforts to raise awareness about the issue have included campaigns by grassroots organizations and featuring the city's unofficial motto, "Taxation Without Representation", on D.C. vehicle license plates.[205] There is evidence of nationwide approval for D.C. voting rights; various polls indicate that 61 to 82% of Americans believe that D.C. should have voting representation in Congress.[204][206] However, despite public support the solution to the problem is not simple.
Several approaches to resolving these concerns been suggested over the years:
District of Columbia Statehood: The District of Columbia would become the 51st State in the Union.District of Columbia Retrocession to Maryland: As Arlington County in 1846 was retroceded to Virginia, proponents believe the rest of the District of Columbia with the exception of a small strip of land around the Capitol and the White House would be given back to Maryland allowing for DC residents to become Maryland residents as they were prior to the Residence Act of 1790.District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment: this option would allow DC residents to vote in Maryland or Virginia for their congressional representatives, with the District of Columbia remaining an independent entity. This was in effect from 1790 to 1801, prior to the Organic Act of 1801.Opponents of D.C. voting rights propose that the Founding Fathers never intended for District residents to have a vote in Congress since the Constitution makes clear that representation must come from the states. Those opposed to making D.C. a state claim that such a move would destroy the notion of a separate national capital and that statehood would unfairly grant Senate representation to a single city, particularly one certain to elect Democratic representatives.[207]
Sister cities Washington, D.C., has fourteen official sister city agreements. Each of the listed cities is a national capital except for Sunderland, which includes the town of Washington, the ancestral home of George Washington's family.[208] Paris and Rome are each formally recognized as a partner city due to their special one sister city policy.[209] Listed in the order each agreement was first established, they are:
Bangkok, Thailand (1962, renewed 2002)Dakar, Senegal (1980, renewed 2006)Beijing, China (1984, renewed 2004)Brussels, Belgium (1985, renewed 2002)Athens, Greece (2000)Paris, France (2000 as a friendship and cooperation agreement, renewed 2005)[209][210]Pretoria, South Africa (2002, renewed 2008)Seoul, South Korea (2006)Accra, Ghana (2006)Sunderland, United Kingdom (2006)[208]Rome, Italy (2011)[209]Ankara, Turkey (2011)Bras­lia, Brazil (2013)Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2013).[211]Education District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) operates the city's 123 public schools.[213] The number of students in DCPS steadily decreased for 39 years until 2009. In the 2010''11 school year, 46,191 students were enrolled in the public school system.[214] DCPS has one of the highest-cost, yet lowest-performing school systems in the country, both in terms of infrastructure and student achievement.[215] Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration made sweeping changes to the system by closing schools, replacing teachers, firing principals, and using private education firms to aid curriculum development.[216]
The District of Columbia Public Charter School Board monitors the 52 public charter schools in the city.[217] Due to the perceived problems with the traditional public school system, enrollment in public charter schools has steadily increased.[218] As of fall 2010, D.C., charter schools had a total enrollment of about 32,000, a 9% increase from the prior year.[214] The District is also home to 92 private schools, which enrolled approximately 18,000 students in 2008.[219] The District of Columbia Public Library operates 25 neighborhood locations including the landmark Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.[220]
Higher education Private universities include American University (AU), the Catholic University of America (CUA), Gallaudet University, George Washington University (GW), Georgetown University (GU), Howard University (HU), the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and Trinity Washington University. The Corcoran College of Art and Design, the oldest arts school in the capital, was absorbed into the George Washington University in 2014, now serving as its college of arts.
The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is a public land-grant university providing undergraduate and graduate education. D.C. residents may also be eligible for a grant of up to $10,000 per year to offset the cost of tuition at any public university in the country.[221]
The District is known for its medical research institutions such as Washington Hospital Center and the Children's National Medical Center, as well as the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In addition, the city is home to three medical schools and associated teaching hospitals at George Washington, Georgetown, and Howard universities.[222]
Infrastructure Transportation There are 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of streets, parkways, and avenues in the District.[223] Due to the freeway revolts of the 1960s, much of the proposed interstate highway system through the middle of Washington was never built. Interstate 95 (I-95), the nation's major east coast highway, therefore bends around the District to form the eastern portion of the Capital Beltway. A portion of the proposed highway funding was directed to the region's public transportation infrastructure instead.[224] The interstate highways that continue into Washington, including I-66 and I-395, both terminate shortly after entering the city.[225]
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) operates the Washington Metro, the city's rapid transit system, as well as Metrobus. Both systems serve the District and its suburbs. Metro opened on March 27, 1976 and, as of July 2014[update], consists of 91 stations and 117 miles (188 km) of track.[226] With an average of about one million trips each weekday, Metro is the second-busiest rapid transit system in the country. Metrobus serves over 400,000 riders each weekday and is the nation's fifth-largest bus system.[227] The city also operates its own DC Circulator bus system, which connects commercial areas within central Washington.[228]
Union Station is the city's main train station and services approximately 70,000 people each day. It is Amtrak's second-busiest station with 4.6 million passengers annually and is the southern terminus for the Northeast Corridor and Acela Express routes. Maryland's MARC and Virginia's VRE commuter trains and the Metrorail Red Line also provide service into Union Station.[229] Following renovations in 2011, Union Station became Washington's primary intercity bus transit center.[230]Three major airports serve the District. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is across the Potomac River from downtown Washington in Arlington, Virginia and primarily handles domestic flights. Major international flights arrive and depart from Washington Dulles International Airport, 26.3 miles (42.3 km) west of the District in Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia. Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is 31.7 miles (51.0 km) northeast of the District in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
According to a 2010 study, Washington-area commuters spent 70 hours a year in traffic delays, which tied with Chicago for having the nation's worst road congestion.[231] However, 37% of Washington-area commuters take public transportation to work, the second-highest rate in the country.[232] An additional 12% of D.C. commuters walked to work, 6% carpooled, and 3% traveled by bicycle in 2010.[233] A 2011 study by Walk Score found that Washington was the seventh-most walkable city in the country with 80% of residents living in neighborhoods that are not car dependent.[234] In 2013, the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan statistical area (MSA) had the eighth lowest percentage of workers who commuted by private automobile (75.7 percent), with 8 percent of area workers traveling via rail transit.[235]
An expected 32% increase in transit usage within the District by 2030 has spurred the construction of a new DC Streetcar system to interconnect the city's neighborhoods.[236] Construction has also started on an additional Metro line that will connect Washington to Dulles airport.[237] The District is part of the regional Capital Bikeshare program. Started in 2010, it is currently one of the largest bicycle sharing systems in the country with over 4,351 bicycles and more than 395 stations[238] all provided by PBSC Urban Solutions. By 2012, the city's network of marked bicycle lanes covered 56 miles (90 km) of streets.[239]
Utilities The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (i.e. WASA or D.C. Water) is an independent authority of the D.C. government that provides drinking water and wastewater collection in Washington. WASA purchases water from the historic Washington Aqueduct, which is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. The water, sourced from the Potomac River, is treated and stored in the city's Dalecarlia, Georgetown, and McMillan reservoirs. The aqueduct provides drinking water for a total of 1.1 million people in the District and Virginia, including Arlington, Falls Church, and a portion of Fairfax County.[240] The authority also provides sewage treatment services for an additional 1.6 million people in four surrounding Maryland and Virginia counties.[241]
Pepco is the city's electric utility and services 793,000 customers in the District and suburban Maryland.[242] An 1889 law prohibits overhead wires within much of the historic City of Washington. As a result, all power lines and telecommunication cables are located underground in downtown Washington, and traffic signals are placed at the edge of the street.[243] A plan announced in 2013 would bury an additional 60 miles (97 km) of primary power lines throughout the District.[244]
Washington Gas is the city's natural gas utility and serves over one million customers in the District and its suburbs. Incorporated by Congress in 1848, the company installed the city's first gas lights in the Capitol, the White House, and along Pennsylvania Avenue.[245]
See also Index of Washington, D.C.''related articlesOutline of Washington, D.C.Notes ^ By 1790, the Southern states had largely repaid their overseas debts from the Revolutionary War. The Northern states had not, and wanted the federal government to take over their outstanding liabilities. Southern Congressmen agreed to the plan in return for establishing the new national capital at their preferred site on the Potomac River.[16] ^ The Residence Act allowed the President to select a location within Maryland as far east as the Anacostia River. However, Washington shifted the federal territory's borders to the southeast in order to include the city of Alexandria at the District's southern tip. In 1791, Congress amended the Residence Act to approve the new site, including territory ceded by Virginia.[17] ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010. ^ Official records for Washington, D.C. were kept at 24th and M Streets NW from January 1871 to June 1945, and at Reagan National since July 1945.[80] ^ Until 1890, the Census Bureau counted the City of Washington, Georgetown, and unincorporated portions of Washington County as three separate areas. The data provided in this article from before 1890 are calculated as if the District of Columbia were a single municipality as it is today. Population data for each city prior to 1890 are available.[100] ^ These figures count adherents, meaning all full members, their children, and others who regularly attend services. In all of the District, 55% of the population is adherent to any particular religion. ^ Independents David Catania and Carol Schwartz, both former Republicans, garnered 61,388 and 12,327 votes, or 34.6% and 7.0%, respectively. References ^ "Demonyms for people from the USA". www.geography-site.co.uk . Retrieved April 12, 2017 . ^ "Demonym". addis.com. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017 . Retrieved April 12, 2017 . ^ a b c "QuickFacts: District of Columbia". U.S. Census Bureau. July 1, 2017 . Retrieved October 11, 2018 . ^ "Introduction: Where Oh Where Should the Capital Be?". WHHA. ^ "Washington, D.C. History F.A.Q." The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. 2014-05-27 . Retrieved 2018-03-07 . ^ Broder, David S. (February 18, 1990). "Nation's Capital in Eclipse as Pride and Power Slip Away". The Washington Post . Retrieved October 18, 2010 . 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Public Charter School Board. Archived from the original on January 9, 2011 . Retrieved January 8, 2011 . ^ Haynes, V. Dion; Theola Labbe (April 25, 2007). "A Boom for D.C. Charter Schools". The Washington Post. pp. A01 . Retrieved July 25, 2008 . ^ "Table 15. Number of private schools, students, full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers, and 2006''07 high school graduates, by state: United States, 2007''08". National Center for Education Statistics. 2008 . Retrieved November 12, 2011 . ^ "In Your Neighborhood". D.C. Public Library . Retrieved August 14, 2011 . ^ "DC Tuition Assistance Grant". Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013 . Retrieved September 27, 2013 . ^ Bowman, Inci A. "Historic Medical Sites in the Washington, DC Area". U.S. National Library of Medicine . Retrieved August 17, 2011 . ^ "Public Road Length". Highway Statistics 2006. Federal Highway Administration. Archived from the original on November 22, 2012 . Retrieved September 17, 2012 . ^ Schrag, Zachary (2006). "Chapter 5: The Bridge". The Great Society Subway. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8906-6. ^ I-66: I-395: ^ "Metro launches Silver Line, largest expansion of region's rail system in more than two decades" (Press release). Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. July 25, 2014. Archived from the original on August 1, 2014 . Retrieved August 4, 2014 . ^ Dawson, Christie R. (August 21, 2009). "Estimated Unliked Transit Passenger Trips" (PDF) . American Public Transport Association . Retrieved October 10, 2009 . ^ "About DC Circulator". DC Circulator. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012 . Retrieved March 3, 2012 . ^ "District of Columbia Amtrak Fact Sheet FY 2010" (PDF) . Amtrak. November 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 19, 2012 . Retrieved July 19, 2011 . ^ "Union Station gets new bus depot". WJLA-TV. November 15, 2011 . Retrieved June 19, 2012 . ^ Halsey III, Ashley (January 20, 2011). "Washington area tied with Chicago for traffic congestion, study finds". The Washington Post . Retrieved August 15, 2011 . ^ Christie, Les (June 29, 2007). "New Yorkers are top transit users". CNNMoney . Retrieved July 15, 2008 . ^ "District of Columbia Commuting Characteristics by Sex". 2010 American Community Survey. United States Census Bureau . Retrieved October 16, 2011 . ^ "D.C. among top 10 most walkable cities". WTOP. August 8, 2011 . Retrieved August 28, 2011 . ^ McKenzie, Brian (August 2015). "Who Drives to Work? Commuting by Automobile in the United States: 2013" (PDF) . American Survey Reports . Retrieved December 26, 2017 . ^ "History '' DC Streetcar". District Department of Transportation . Retrieved April 28, 2013 . ^ "Dulles Metrorail Project Overview". Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority . Retrieved December 2, 2012 . ^ "Capital Bike-Share Washington DC / Arlington | PBSC". PBSC Solutions Urbanes . Retrieved June 17, 2016 . ^ "Bicycle Program". District Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on June 27, 2012 . Retrieved September 16, 2012 . ^ "The Washington Aqueduct System". National Park Service . Retrieved January 5, 2014 . ^ "General Information". District of Columbia Washington and Sewer Authority . Retrieved January 5, 2014 . ^ "Welcome to Pepco". January 5, 2014. Pepco. Archived from the original on January 6, 2014. ^ Rein, Lisa (April 6, 2010). "D.C. streetcar project may get hung up on overhead wires". The Washington Post . Retrieved January 5, 2014 . ^ DeBonis, Mike (May 15, 2013). "Plan to bury D.C.'s outage-prone power lines backed by task force". The Washington Post . Retrieved January 4, 2014 . ^ "Company Profile / History". Washington Gas Light Co . Retrieved January 5, 2014 . External links Official website Guide to Washington, D.C., materials from the Library of Congress Geographic data related to Washington, D.C. at OpenStreetMapU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: District of Columbia (civil)Why is Washington, D.C. Called the District of Columbia? '' Ghosts of DC blogPlaces adjacent to Washington, D.C.
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All Clips

moraga_5g_part1.mp3
moraga_5g_part2.mp3
MSM Freakout over spying comment Barr compilage.mp3
MSM Freakout over spying REWIND.mp3
Bill Barr says he's going to investigate spying on Trump campaign.mp3
JuliAHn Assange CBS this morning Gayle King arretsed.mp3
Advertisers and service providers have become increasingly concerned that Google is becoming a pay to play environment.mp3
Donald Tusk on Brexit extension AND CANCELLATION POSSIBILITY.mp3
Theresa May on Brexit delay.mp3
Come and Brexit_short - Sir Timothy and Sir Vics.wav
Trump to press child separation-CBS talking head disputes.mp3
Obama code switching Puerto Rico.mp3
Code switching -1- Georgetown Univ Prof Linguistics Deborah Tannen-It's normal for pols as well.mp3
Code switching -2- give everyone some leeway and slack.mp3
Hillary code switching quoting reverend james cleveland.mp3
CNET piece on Facebook's ALL WOMEN Truth Taskforce.mp3
Geoengineering no longer a conspiracy theory [chemtrails].mp3
Morton Klein of Zionist Org of America has Tourrettes.mp3
Tourettes ISO.mp3
Committee Hearing on Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism-Eileen Hershnov ADL.mp3
Prof Steven Coen on Trump Rotation.mp3
Trump firing his employees is work place violence-MSNBC.m4a
Oops, I signed it in VP’s place’-Pelosi adds her signature to bill challenging Trump on Yemen war.mp3
candace owns and her bio.mp3
CSPAN CALL IN anti Trump.mp3
CSPAN CALL ISO anti Trump.mp3
douchebag clip ISO.mp3
gomert and Mort Klein re Trump comments.mp3
Haiti versus Domican Republic PBS.mp3
household name podcast Harley.mp3
insulin story CBS.mp3
Kristan Gillbrand and the tactile nuke.mp3
Long Debunked spying theory CBS ONE.mp3
Long Debunked spying theory CBS THREE.mp3
Long Debunked spying theory CBS TWO.mp3
Maxine on student loans bailed out.mp3
snowstorm CBS.mp3
Bibi relected and Gramps and Alyssa Rubin argue PRI the World ONE.mp3
Bibi relected and Gramps and Alyssa RubinPRI FOUR UO TALK.mp3
Bibi relected and Gramps and Alyssa RubinPRI Three.mp3
Bibi relected and Gramps and Alyssa RubinPRI TWO.mp3
can you find finland on a map.mp3
candace owens goes off on Nadler TWO.mp3
candace owens goes off on Nadler.mp3
Maxie Water doesn't know banks exited student loans-Ranking Member of House Fin Serv Comm.mp3
Radio scope scientist is all giddy over black hole 'picture'.mp3
Theresa May on Legal Duty of Care.mp3
UK online harms laws explained.mp3
Rep Jayapal (D Wa) on her Trans Child and REGULATNG BEHAVIOR kicker.mp3
The Angelic Initiative, Episode 1019-That's True.mp3
New York declares measles emergency, blasts misinformation fueling outbreak.mp3
Rubella SCARE at Detroit auto show.mp3
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  • 0:13
    [Music]
  • 0:23
    [Music]
  • 0:30
    man you could have dropped a little
  • 0:32
    squeak in there something just squeak is
  • 0:37
    you know I get it get it figure out
  • 0:38
    exactly where the there you go look at
  • 0:41
    the sweet spot is where the perfect spot
  • 0:43
    is for squeaking this thing has a mind
  • 0:47
    and a layer of its own
  • 0:49
    yeah the chairs become a celebrity it
  • 0:52
    has yeah we were talking just before the
  • 0:54
    show that it can do meetups it can go on
  • 0:56
    its own me doing meetups now featuring
  • 1:00
    John C Dvorak squeaky chair so we're in
  • 1:05
    the middle of nowhere the move is
  • 1:07
    underway next week Friday we move so
  • 1:12
    Sunday's show in a week will be from the
  • 1:14
    new studio so you are but you're in the
  • 1:17
    process of moving out a little bit at a
  • 1:19
    time yeah so we're we're moving because
  • 1:21
    we don't have that much stuff anymore
  • 1:23
    you'll recall the purge from the
  • 1:26
    previous move so yeah so that I just
  • 1:28
    been moving stuff over every single day
  • 1:30
    and then Friday the movers come but
  • 1:32
    here's the benefit of moving you find
  • 1:36
    stuff that was lost yeah it's back oh
  • 1:43
    you what my whistle
  • 1:48
    plastic whistle yeah yeah I was gonna
  • 1:51
    send you one yeah right cuz I got the
  • 1:54
    replacement which was
  • 2:00
    finally that's what you're looking for
  • 2:02
    you were gonna send me 100 chip after
  • 2:08
    Sunday show you and I were talking about
  • 2:12
    the the new cycle how it was very odd
  • 2:14
    and it's like well we're stuck it's you
  • 2:17
    know there's nothing happened it's like
  • 2:19
    and you I think you said the decks are
  • 2:20
    cleared something's gonna take place
  • 2:22
    yeah I still I believe that's still the
  • 2:25
    case