1132: False meme-ification

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 46m
April 25th, 2019
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Executive Producers: Grand Duke Nussbaum for the Pacific North West, Kendra Hartsell

Associate Executive Producers: John Kresic, James Martin, Dame G$

Cover Artist: Bradley Selsor


Start of Show
Joe Biden Announces 2020 Presidential Campaign
2020 Elections
Pete Buttigieg Appearance on CNN Town Hall
Hillary Clinton Appearance at Time 100 Summit
Attorney Joe diGenova Freaks Out After Krystal Ball Implied William Barr Lied
Elizabeth Warren
The Last Refuge: The Obama Use of FISA-702 as a Domestic Political Surveillance Program
Bob Woodward Re-Iterates Steele Dossier is Garbage
Tech & Society with Mark Zuckerberg
Horowitz Estimates There Are 500,000 Podcasts
Luminary Monetization Strategy
Gimlet Media Recognizes Staff Union
British Podcast Awards
Anzac Day
Netflix's Our Planet Show
Nature Research Study Finds Permafrost Will Cost Us $70 Trillion
Energy Policy Institute: Renewable Portfolio Standards Reduce Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions, But at a High Cost, Study Finds
Sri Lanka Easter Bombings
UN Security Councel Alters Language Used in Sexual Violence Resolution After Pressure From US
Sri Lanka Government Apologizes for Intelligence Failures During Terror Attacks
Scott Adams
AC's Washing Machine Delivery
2020 Presidential Candidate Amy Klobuchar Tells the Audience to Cheer
Dallas County DA Stops Pursuing Prosecutions of Low-Level Crimes
Native Advertisement by NPR About the Sharing Economy
Deadly Floods After Heavy Rain in Durban, South Africa
Japan Apologizes and Promises Compensation to Victims of Forced Sterilization Under Eugenics Protection Law
The New York Times: Navy SEALs Were Warned Against Reporting Their Chief for War Crimes
Nipsey Hussle
Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy Wins Ukraine Presidential Elections
Merriam-Webster Adds 640 New Words to Dictionary
Birthdays, Meetups & Title Changes
Amnesty International: 37 Put To Death in Shocking Execution Spree by Saudi Arabia
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Closed-Door Meeting with Iranian-American Community Leaders
Hasan Minhaj Calls Out Jared Kushner Over His Connection to MBS
United Nations Reports More Civilians Killed by Afghan Forces Than Taliban
Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu Wants to Name a Golan Heights Settlement After President Trump
Judicial Watch: FBI Admits Hillary Clinton Emails Found in Obama White House
Empire Cast Publish Letter Defending Jussie Smollett
Bernie Sanders Calls For Voting Rights for Prisoners
Worldwide Measles Outbreaks
Court Documents Reveal 12 Thousand Allegations of Sexual Abuse Against Boy Scouts of America Volunteers
That's True
US Treasury Delays Decision to Release Trump's Tax Returns
End of Show
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Green New Deal
Donor Advised Funds
Hi, Adam. I support major gift
fundraisers --redacted-- and (again) you made my heart sing when you
brought up DAFs on Sunday. I loved how you said like, oh I know the Keeper is
going to kill me for chopping this… you were so close with “Donor Advised
Foundations” !
A Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is a giving
vehicle that provides you with immediate tax benefits and allows you to
support your charities of choice through grant recommendations on your own
timetable. Donor Advised Funds are the most efficient,
cost-effective alternative to private or family foundations.
DAFs are bigtime in the world of
fundraising and there was a big shift recently in the field (called formally
‘Advancement Services’)… in Dec. 2017 the IRS ruled that, why yes, A DAF can
be used to pay off a personal pledge that a donor set up with an organization.
Ruling 2017-73.
Before, nonprofits were doing this
‘on the sly’ of letting DAFs pay off personal pledges, and there was lots of
debate of this practice since basically once someone gives money to a DAF, they
get the tax benefit at that time and really do not a legal say anymore to where
the DAF donates the money next, beyond recommending where it should go. Anyway,
I can see why the celebreties like the DAFs more than the Foundations since
there’s more *confusion* around them to keep the public guessing LOL!
Are climate sceptic Peter Ridd's controversial reef views validated by his unfair dismissal win? - Science News - ABC News
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 12:37
Marine physicist Peter Ridd has been victorious in his case for unfair dismissal against James Cook University, but his views as a climate sceptic were not on trial.
The controversial scientist was sacked by JCU in 2018 after being censured for allegedly breaching the University's code of conduct.
Among JCU's grievances were that Dr Ridd had publicly criticised the work of colleagues, including telling Sky News in 2017 that "scientific organisations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the ARC Centre for Coral Reef Studies can no longer be trusted".
Dr Ridd's controversial views also include that poor water quality and climate change aren't significant threats to the future of the reef.
But Judge Salvatore Vasta ruled in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia last week that the University's sacking of Dr Ridd was unlawful, and that JCU had "not understood the whole concept of intellectual freedom" in respect to their enterprise bargaining agreement.
Dr Ridd's supporters were quick to claim the win for academic freedom and freedom of speech. And before long some were equating the court victory to a win for climate-change scepticism.
However, Dr Ridd's views on the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef were not on trial in this case.
The decision was confined to his industrial rights and the judge made no comment on the validity of his climate views.
What makes a 'reef expert'?After over two decades spent researching marine physics in the Great Barrier Reef region, Dr Ridd's scientific expertise cannot be disregarded.
He pioneered research techniques for studying marine sedimentology, and has published widely on coastal oceanography and the effects of sediments on coral reefs.
Dr Ridd is respected in this field despite some differences in opinion about his results '-- which is standard in all fields of science, according to marine scientist Jon Brodie from the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
However, Dr Ridd's comments on the overall health of the reef, and his harsh criticism of coral-bleaching science, have caused many scientists to question the limits of his expertise.
Dr Ridd has previously claimed that the Great Barrier Reef is healthy and that studies published by the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Townsville about coral bleaching are inaccurate.
Dr Ridd does accept that cyclones and ocean acidification may pose a threat to the reef.
(Supplied: Peter Mumby)
Dr Ridd does accept that cyclones and ocean acidification may pose a threat to the reef.
Supplied: Peter Mumby
In response to questions about his authority as a Great Barrier Reef expert, Dr Ridd told the ABC that his experience living and working as a scientist on the reef for over 30 years qualifies him to make these comments.
"All the so-called threats to the reef are based on physical processes," Dr Ridd said.
"I can draw conclusions from [biology-based] papers in the same way as a biologist can do that to my papers which are physics-based.
"To say I'm not qualified to comment because I'm a physicist... what sort of argument is that?"
It is true that any scientist working on the reef has to have a basic understanding of reef processes outside of their direct field of research.
However, to argue publicly that the Great Barrier Reef is "one of the best preserved ecosystems in the whole world" needs to be backed by very solid evidence, especially when it flies in the face of strong scientific consensus.
The vast majority of reef scientists would disagree with Dr Ridd's views, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, told AM.
"It would be over 99 per cent of [research] papers that show we are facing very challenging times as average global surface temperatures increase," he said.
But Dr Ridd continues to argue that research published about the recent coral bleaching events is flawed because there is not a "system of checking".
Contrary to the scientific consensus, Dr Ridd believes coral bleaching is part of a "natural cycle" on the reef.
(Supplied: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Contrary to the scientific consensus, Dr Ridd believes coral bleaching is part of a "natural cycle" on the reef.
Supplied: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
He takes issue with what's called the "replication crisis" in science '-- the ability to reproduce the results of a study using the same methods '-- which he also cites as the catalyst for him speaking out in the first place.
His evidence for a quality problem in reef science is based largely on the fact the problem exists in other fields of science.
"Why are [reef scientists] so clever that they have been immune to the problems affecting every other area of science?" Dr Ridd said.
It's not an invalid question '-- but the question of whether Great Barrier Reef science is actually flawed has to be addressed before Dr Ridd can single out pieces of research to criticise.
Currently, Dr Ridd claims that "the exaggeration of the bleaching events is disgusting" while also saying the science needs to be double-checked.
Dr Ridd is seeking reinstatement at James Cook University.
(Source: Facebook)
Dr Ridd is seeking reinstatement at James Cook University.
Source: Facebook
He has published an article in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin calling for greater quality control processes in reef science '-- using examples from nine key reef studies.
The article has been rebutted, also in Marine Pollution Bulletin, by a group of reef scientists arguing the piece "demonstrated biases, misinterpretation and selective use of data" as well as failing to acknowledge many of the claims had already been addressed within the scientific literature.
Dr Brodie was an author on one of the studies criticised, and said Dr Ridd cherry-picked papers.
"He picked quite old studies, and I've alone published 50 to 60 papers since then on the same areas, none of which he cited," Dr Brodie said.
Dr Ridd said the nine studies were chosen because they "were some of the most important papers that there are" about the reef.
Despite being the target of some of Dr Ridd's criticism, Dr Brodie has previously said that JCU's handling of the situation, including searching Dr Ridd's emails, sent a "terrible signal" to the rest of the university staff.
Concern that sceptics will seize on court winDr Ridd's court win this week has emboldened his climate sceptic supporters to continue disputing the state of the Great Barrier Reef.
While the substance of his climate views was not a factor in the unlawful dismissal ruling, supporters are describing him as a brave climate sceptic censored by his employer.
The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and other conservative commentators are painting Dr Ridd as the proof that dissenting voices about the Great Barrier Reef aren't tolerated.
"Fearmongering about the health of the Great Barrier Reef must now desist," Director of Policy at the IPA Gideon Rozner said in a statement.
And journalist at The Australian, Graham Lloyd, wrote in an opinion piece that Dr Ridd had "struck a powerful blow against the notion that science can be conducted by consensus".
Professor Hoegh-Guldberg is very concerned that climate sceptics have seized on the courts' decision in this fashion.
"Climate change is a major threat to places like the Great Barrier Reef and Australia in general," he said.
Dr Brodie is not surprised that Dr Ridd's supporters are using his case as evidence climate change is not a serious threat, but thinks most people '-- but particularly young people '-- now understand that isn't true.
"They see it happening around them right now, it's so obvious," Dr Brodie said.
"The changes we're seeing on the reef have happened much quicker than we predicted 15 years ago," he said.
Dr Brodie says if anything, the predictions made by reef scientists underestimated how fast the reef would feel the brunt of climate change.
"Our predictions weren't wrong, they just weren't extreme enough."
Nuclear Lobbying Power: N.J. Utility Customers Will Pay $300M in Subsidies '-- ProPublica
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 13:42
TRENTON, N.J. '-- After a long, expensive lobbying effort over the fate of nuclear power in New Jersey, the energy company PSEG on Thursday secured $300 million in subsidies for the state's aging nuclear plants.
It was an important victory for PSEG, which had threatened to close the three plants, and for the nuclear power industry as it seeks to preserve its place in the energy market amid an abundant supply of natural gas.
And in New Jersey, the vote by the Board of Public Utilities laid bare the effectiveness of the efforts, as board commissioners voted yes even as some of them expressed doubts about the need for subsidies.
''The board is being directed to pay ransom, and the hostages are the citizens of New Jersey,'' said Commissioner Bob Gordon, a former state legislator, who voted for the subsidy.
Indeed, the 4-1 vote came despite findings by the board's staff that the nuclear plants were financially viable and over the objections of the state's chief advocate for utility customers.
Customers across the state will see their rates go up this month to pay for the subsidy '-- an additional $35 to $45 annually for the typical residential customer, and, on average, $570,000 for large commercial customers '-- to compensate nuclear plants for the clean energy they produce.
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Commissioner Upendra Chivukula, who cast the lone no vote, said that the board's decision would put an ''undue burden'' on taxpayers and that the state review had shown that PSEG did not need the subsidies, which he called ''highway robbery.''
''You can skin the cat whatever way you want, but it's very clear that these three units ... do not need the subsidy at this time,'' he said.
New Jersey joins two other states, Illinois and New York, in giving nuclear power plants hundreds of millions of dollars to continue providing power to the wholesale energy market. New York and Illinois created their subsidy programs in 2016, and legislators in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland are exploring similar programs.
PSEG pumped nearly $4 million into Trenton over the course of the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions as it lobbied for bills authorizing the subsidies. After several scuttled bills, the Legislature passed the subsidy as part of a package that set ambitious goals for cleaner forms of energy. The legislation set the amount of the subsidy, called the Zero Emissions Credit program, and the rate customers would be charged.
To qualify, nuclear plants needed to show, among other things, that without aid, they would shut down within three years. PSEG's Hope Creek, Salem 1 and Salem 2 plants in South Jersey make up the second-largest nuclear facility in the country, generating enough electricity to power about 3 million homes. The company has repeatedly warned that because of the low price of natural gas, it may be forced to close the plants.
On Thursday, PSEG enlisted its rank-and-file employees to help make the case in Trenton. Scores of workers from the company's power generation division turned out for the vote. As they filed off of buses in front of the Statehouse annex, they were handed neon orange T-shirts that read ''Carbon-free energy #NJNeedsNuclear.''
Read More About 25 counterprotesters from the Eastern Service Workers Association, which represents low-wage workers such as dishwashers, seasonal workers and home health aides, walked down State Street as the meeting began, carrying a banner that read ''Stop the Shutoffs! Protect People over Profits.''
''Our members are barely paying their rent now; they're barely paying their electricity now,'' said Linda Esau, a central committee board member for the group. ''We got together and we're tired of it. This increase is going to go on the community, on the people. And I don't care if it's a 1% raise, we can't afford it.''
Inside, board staff members who had evaluated the applications from PSEG told the commissioners Thursday that the plants were ''financially viable,'' though shutting down the facilities would likely lead to additional carbon emissions as other fuels took their place.
Still, several commissioners said they felt they had no choice but to approve the subsidies at the prescribed level, and they lamented their lack of discretion over the program.
Joseph L. Fiordaliso, the board president, said it was a difficult decision, but voting against the subsidies would run ''counter to everything I think we are trying to do as a community to mitigate the impacts of climate change.''
Along with Fiordaliso and Gordon, Commssioners Mary-Anna Holden and Dianne Solomon voted for the subsidy.
Stefanie Brand, the state-appointed advocate for utility customers, said she wasn't surprised by the outcome but was troubled by the commissioners' statements.
''I think what they clearly said was, 'We don't think this was the right thing to do, we don't think this was the right amount, but we don't feel like we have a choice,''' said Brand, who heads the Division of Rate Counsel. ''That is very alarming to me because it means that the threat worked.''
While the subsidies will go to PSEG, the surcharge financing the subsidies will be collected from every electric utility customer in the state, regardless of where they purchase their energy. Some customers can absorb the extra fee on their bills, said Ken Lindhorst, chief utility advocate for AARP New Jersey, but for some elderly residents whose income is low, it can lead to difficult choices.
''For them, it means a sacrifice, often of medicine or food,'' he said. ''If you're poor, you have to trade something.''
In a statement, PSEG said it was ''pleased with the decision.''
''The BPU just saved the people of the State hundreds of millions of dollars in what would have been higher energy costs, thousands of jobs lost and tons of environmentally damaging air emissions,'' the company said.
Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver? | Energy Policy Institute at University of Chicago
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 16:00
Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are the largest and perhaps most popular climate policy in the US, having been enacted by 29 states and the District of Columbia. Using the most comprehensive panel data set ever compiled on program characteristics and key outcomes, we compare states that did and did not adopt RPS policies, exploiting the substantial differences in timing of adoption. The estimates indicate that 7 years after passage of an RPS program, the required renewable share of generation is 1.8 percentage points higher and average retail electricity prices are 1.3 cents per kWh, or 11% higher; the comparable figures for 12 years after adoption are a 4.2 percentage point increase in renewables' share and a price increase of 2.0 cents per kWh or 17%. These cost estimates significantly exceed the marginal operational costs of renewables and likely reflect costs that renewables impose on the generation system, including those associated with their intermittency, higher transmission costs, and any stranded asset costs assigned to ratepayers. The estimated reduction in carbon emissions is imprecise, but, together with the price results, indicates that the cost per metric ton of CO2 abated exceeds $130 in all specications and ranges up to $460, making it at least several times larger than conventional estimates of the social cost of carbon. These results do not rule out the possibility that RPS policies could dynamically reduce the cost of abatement in the future by causing improvements in renewable technology.
Self-Harm Versus the Greater Good: Greta Thunberg and Child Activism - Quillette
Wed, 24 Apr 2019 15:35
When Greta Thunberg was 11 years old, she went two months without eating. At least, that is what a recent family memoir asks us to believe. Her heart rate and blood pressure showed signs of starvation, and she stopped speaking to anyone but her parents and younger sister, Beata. After years of depression, eating disorders, and anxiety attacks, she was eventually diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, high-functioning autism, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She also suffers from selective mutism, a disorder related to severe anxiety which can render her unable to speak to anyone outside her closest family. When she wants to tell a climate researcher that she is planning a school strike to save the environment, she speaks through her father.
Scenes from the Heart (''Scener ur hj¤rtat,'' 2018) recounts the events that led to Greta Thunberg's now-famous ''school strike for climate,'' during which
hundreds of thousands of children cut classes for a day to protest government inaction over climate change. Thunberg now strikes every Friday and spent three weeks sitting outside the Swedish Parliament at the beginning of the school year.
Scenes from the Heart is written by her family'--her mother, father, sister Beata, and herself'--and the story is narrated by Greta's mother,
the opera soprano Malena Ernman, who was a celebrity in Europe long before her daughter's rise to fame. Although the book is only available in Swedish for the time being, it is already being translated into numerous languages'--a development that reflects the global fascination with Thunberg's eccentric campaign. Their memoir tells the story of ''a family in crisis and a planet in crisis,'' and while these two narratives might appear to be entirely unrelated, Ernman and her co-authors insist they are inextricably linked. The oppression of women, minorities, and people with disabilities, we are told, is a product of the same root cause as climate change: our unsustainable way of life. The family's private crisis and the global climate crisis, the authors implausibly argue, are simply symptoms of the same systemic disorder.
Thunberg is not the only family member to have suffered from mental health and anxiety disorders. Her younger sister Beata, who was 12 years old when the book was written, lives with ADHD, Asperger's syndrome, and OCD. She is prone to sudden outbursts of anger, during which she screams obscenities at her mother; the 10-minute walk to dance class takes almost an hour because she insists on walking with her left foot in front, refuses to step on certain parts of the sidewalk, and demands that her mother walk the same way; and she makes her mother wait for her outside during class, forbidding her to move, even to go to the bathroom. And yet, still the child ends up weeping in her mother's arms.
Swedish 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a march for the environment in Brussels. Photo: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock
This is a family struggling to cope with the harrowing experience of raising severely dysfunctional children, and the passages detailing the parents' anxiety and desperation can be upsetting to read. They have fought for their daughters to receive the best available care and assistance in school, and they have done what they can to keep them from starving and otherwise harming themselves. In one particularly heart-wrenching episode, Thunberg's father helplessly begs their doctor to release Beata from the anxieties governing her life. As moving as some of this is, anyone unpersuaded by the outlandish claim that the girls' disorders and climate change can both be alleviated by ''changing the system'' may recoil at the parents' decision to expose intimate details of their vulnerable children's mental health to the world.
It has been less than a year since Scenes from the Heart was published and, during that time, Greta has become a global celebrity. This week, she was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time Magazine. She has briefly met the Pope, who encouraged her to ''Keep doing what you're doing.'' She has received numerous awards, including, most recently, the German Golden Camera award. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She has been featured and interviewed in most of the world's leading media. She has appeared on a panel with the UN Secretary General Ant"nio Guterres, addressed the European Parliament, and lunched with the Financial Times. During a recent televised debate about the school strikes, the German TV anchor Maybrit Ilner asked, ''Is Greta the new Che Guevara?'' and the Bishop of Berlin has even compared her to Jesus Christ. Ilner was probably referring to Thunberg's transformation into a global political symbol, but her question was telling, nonetheless: Thunberg is now routinely romanticised by media figures and commentators as a revolutionary icon. Given what we know about her many and various problems, this is hardly a responsible way for adults to cover her school strike.
Well-meaning media professionals like Ilner are surrendering good judgment to an understandable temptation to exoticise novelty. They gaze at pictures of a moppet in pigtails nobly defying authority in the name of environmental protection and appear to have concluded that this troubled child is a font of wisdom from which adults must not hesitate to take moral instruction. Absurdly, the German media have taken to calling Thunberg the ''
Pippi Longstocking of climate change,'' after the
diminutive pigtailed heroine of a series of Swedish children's books. They do not seem to appreciate that Thunberg comes from a country where her peers look more like the stars of the
Norwegian television series SKAM than Pippi Longstocking'--or that she is physically marked by years of self-starvation.
In the workplace, a labour strike is a coercive instrument used by the workforce to remind company owners and management that they are able to harm them economically. A school strike, on the other hand, is undertaken to attract adult attention, and constitutes a form of self-harm. And this particular global school strike is being led by a girl with a long and tragic history of inflicting harm on her own young body. We learn from Scenes from the Heart that when Thunberg eventually started eating again, she only allowed herself to consume certain foods. Her mother now has to prepare the same meal every day'--pancakes filled with rice'--which her daughter then takes to school and keeps in the refrigerator. Thunberg will only eat this meal if there is no sticker bearing her name affixed to the container, because stickers, paper and newspapers trigger her OCD.
''I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day,'' she announced when she addressed the world's leaders in Davos. Given her personal history of fear and panic, this intemperate injunction should perhaps inspire caution rather than the enthusiastic endorsement offered by experienced diplomates like Madeleine Albright. (''You go, girl'' was Albright's reply when she was asked for her thoughts on the school strike.) After all, Greta Thunberg is not playing truant from just any school, but a school for children with special needs. Many other Swedish families would give their eye teeth to secure a coveted spot for their own troubled child in such an institution, while Thunberg sits on the steps of the Swedish parliament sloganeering beneath her placards before a mostly compliant and indulgent media. However, family Thunberg reassure us that presently scarce resources like these will be available in abundance for such families, once we make the wholesale changes to society they are demanding in the name of all humanity'--this includes dismantling the ''patriarchal structures'' that we are told currently favour boys with neuropsychiatric disorders.
I do not wish to suggest that 16 year olds are necessarily too young to understand the consequences of their actions, nor that the challenges Thunberg faces make her unsuitable to take a stand on political issues, or even to lead a global movement. No one who has heard her address world leaders in impeccable English can doubt that she is intelligent and extraordinarily capable on some level. Her mother stresses that her daughter has never felt better than during her campaign to address the existential challenge posed by our changing climate, and Thunberg herself says working for the climate has helped her recover. For someone coping with the unhappiness caused by her various debilitating conditions, this is no small thing. But adults have a moral obligation to remain adults when dealing with children in the public square and not to allow themselves to get carried away by the trite sentimentality of messianic or revolutionary dreams.
Greta was recently named ''Woman of the Year'' by a Swedish newspaper. But she is not a woman, she is a child. It is time we stopped to ask if we are using her, failing her, and even sacrificing her, for what we perceive to be a greater good.
Paulina Neuding is Quillette's European editor. Follow her on Twitter @paulinaneuding. Feature photo by Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.
Netflix is lying about those falling walruses. It's another 'tragedy porn' climate hoax | Financial Post
Wed, 24 Apr 2019 17:00
Now that polar bears have failed to die off in response to a sea-ice decline as promised, climate alarmists are looking hard for a new icon. They think they've found it in the walrus. And for their purpose, walruses are more useful dead than alive, and best of all splattered against sharp rocks from a great height.
For instance, a now-famous episode of Netflix's ''Our Planet'' documentary series, released this month and narrated by veteran BBC broadcaster David Attenborough, features walruses falling from atop a high cliff and bouncing helplessly over rocks to their deaths. The incident occurs after what's called a ''land haulout,'' which is when large herds of walrus females and calves emerge from the water to gather and rest on a beach. The show blames the land haulouts '-- and the deaths caused by falling from cliffs '-- squarely on lack of sea ice due to human-caused climate change. ''They'd be on the ice if they could be, but there's no option but to come to land,'' the episode's producer says. The claim isn't true. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined in October 2017 that Pacific walrus have not been harmed by recent sea-ice loss and are not expected to be harmed in the foreseeable future.
Still, the brutal death scenes horrified sensitive viewers (while some others shook their heads at the questionable claims). Film producer Sophie Lanfear has defended her inclusion of the sequence as an essential ''truth,'' although Netflix eventually issued a warning to ''animal lovers'' that they might want to skip the death sequence.
But animal lovers and sensitive viewers are the target audience. The sole intention of the footage of walruses falling to a splattery death is to spark outrage, to shock viewers into taking climate change seriously. Lanfear admits as much. ''I would like people to think about their lives and the fossil fuels they use in their lives and be inspired to support renewable energies and to try and find solutions to this problem,'' she told People magazine. And the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which partnered with Netflix for the series, is now busily promoting walruses as the ''new symbol of climate change.''
The tactic is reminiscent of the infamous 2017 stunt when National Geographic magazine publicized a video of an emaciated polar bear, which it falsely blamed on global warming. This kind of disturbing nature film footage has become known as ''tragedy porn.'' It's infused with a narrative that misrepresents or glosses over important facts for the sole purpose of manipulating emotionally immature viewers into feeling distressed and angry. And both the starving polar bear and the plummeting walruses count on viewers who are well connected on social media to vent their dismay and spread the climate-change alarm.
But the actual facts of what happened with the walruses would be obvious to anyone who took the time to look at what history and science reveal about the claims.
Along the Russian coast of the Chukchi Sea, records show that walrus land haulouts are a natural phenomenon going back to the 19th century, and have nothing to do with climate change. Recent haulouts are enormous because the total population is enormous.
Pacific walruses appear to have a cyclical ''boom and bust'' population history. A very large population soon outstrips its food supply, something that last happened with walrus in the 1980s. The starving population then declines dramatically and stays low until the food supply can recover.
Despite the climate change fears, the walrus population is actually booming once again. It may now be as large as 300,000 animals. And polar bear numbers are also up in the Chukchi Sea, according to a survey completed in 2016. Chukchi polar bears are fatter and reproducing better than they were in the 1980s. Ringed and bearded seals are doing better too, which has been attributed to more algae and plankton in the water since 2007. In other words, longer ice-free summers in the Chukchi Sea, along with restricted hunting, have allowed walrus, Arctic seals, and polar bears to thrive.
So much for the producers' claims that global warming is killing off walruses. However, producers may have done more than get the facts wrong. There are indications that some of the real factors causing the walrus deaths were misleadingly kept from viewers.
Lanfear told Ed Yong at The Atlantic that two locations were used for producing the final film: the cliff location and another beach where more than 100,000 walruses were hauled out. Footage from both locations was spliced together so seamlessly that the action looks to happen at the same place, but that's an illusion. The walrus action at the cliff appeared to be just around a corner of the huge beach haulout. In fact it was hundreds of kilometres to the west.
A recent forensic comparison of photos by Andrew Montford at the Global Warming Policy Foundation establishes the location where the walruses fell as Cape Kozhevnikov, near the village of Ryrkaipiy in the Russian Far East. Here, the headland of sharp rock falls down to beach level on one side, allowing walruses to climb up a relatively gentle slope to the top when space on the beach gets cramped.
On shore, walruses prefer to huddle close together, even when more space is available. These tightly packed groups are easily startled, and if something like an approaching polar bear, hunter, or aircraft overhead frightens them, a stampede to the safety of the water can be deadly. We know from a report published by the Siberian Times in mid-October 2017 that hundreds of walruses died at Cape Kozhevnikov some time in September, when about 20 polar bears approached the herd hauled out on the beach and the cliff above it. Even at the haulout on the other beach, the one without the cliffs, scores would have died in a stampede simply from being trampled by other walruses, but presumably that's less cinematic.
Records show that initiating a stampede is a safe and successful way for polar bears to hunt walrus. The walrus that end up killed in the panic become a buffet for bears. One study showed that stampedes initiated by polar bears were responsible for most of the 358 dead walruses found trampled to death at beach haulouts on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean in the 1990s.
What really made those walruses on Netflix fall to their death from a rocky cliff? Overhead shots in a ''behind the scenes'' trailer for the ''Our Planet'' series suggest a drone was used in filming, which could have spooked the walruses into stampeding. The crew also admitted there were polar bears in the area, another possible cause for the deadly stampede. The behind-the-scenes segment also, troublingly, shows how a cameraman on the beach may have potentially discouraged walruses at the top of the cliff from returning the way they had gone up '-- the safer way down.
And when producers panned their cameras over a scene of carnage below the cliff, they implied all the animals had fallen to their death on that same day. We actually know that most of those animals died days before, when Lanfear's cameras weren't around '-- after being frightened by polar bears.
The walrus the producers caught on film were not displaying unnatural or unusual behaviour. Netflix and the WWF are lying to the public just as National Geographic did when it falsely claimed its video of an emaciated polar bear was ''what climate change looks like.'' Reading from the same script, Attenborough utters a similar statement when he says of the walruses, ''This is the sad reality of climate change.'' That is also false.
Dr. Susan Crockford is a University of Victoria zoologist specializing in Holocene mammals, including polar bears and walrus. Her new book is The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened.
Extinction Rebellion activists disrupt City in fresh protests | UK News | Sky News
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 11:44
Extinction Rebellion activists have glued themselves to the London Stock Exchange and climbed onto the roof of a train in Canary Wharf as part of the latest wave of climate change protests.
Organisers said demonstrators were targeting the financial sector on the last day of protests "to demand they tell the truth about the devastating impact the industry has on our planet".
Thursday's protests began when two men and five women glued themselves to a wall and to each other at the London Stock Exchange at around 6.45am.
Protesters glued to London Stock ExchangeThey wore LED signs reading: "Climate emergency", "Tell the truth" and "You can't eat money".
Five activists later climbed onto a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) train in Canary Wharf in London, holding signs saying "business as usual = death" and "don't jail the canaries".
British Transport Police officers used ropes, harnesses and ladders to remove the protesters, which included an 83-year-old man.
Image: Officers used ropes, harnesses and ladders to remove the protesters. Pic: Extinction RebellionAll five were arrested on suspicion of obstructing the railway.
One woman, 60-year-old Diana Warner, glued herself to a train.
"It's bizarre we have to do this in order for governments to listen to the scientists," she said.
Image: One woman glued herself to a train in Canary Wharf. Pic: Extinction RebellionThe group threatened more small "actions" across the financial district on Thursday, with further planned protests outside banks including Goldman Sachs, the Bank of England, Rothschild and Nomura.
It has also planned demonstrations outside Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Rabobank, Reuters reported.
The latest protests are part of co-ordinated action against the financial industry, which Extinction Rebellion claims facilitates climate change.
Image: Five activists climbed onto a DLR train in Canary Wharf. Pic: Extinction RebellionDemonstrators planned to "swarm" into the Square Mile to cause roadblocks, targeting big businesses and banking.
The action in the City of London is likely to last a few hours, the group said, and comes on the day it is due to end blockades at Parliament Square and Marble Arch.
A spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion said the financial industry was being targeted because it is "responsible for funding climate and ecological destruction".
Image: Extinction Rebellion activists lie down outside Goldman Sachs offices in London."We're asking the government to take action to address the climate emergency," she added.
Eco-protesters want urgent action to halt climate change and to stop the decline in biodiversity, and have called on the government to reduce UK carbon emissions to net zero by 2025.
Among their supporters are actress Emma Thompson and 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, who started a school strike movement by skipping lessons to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament for months.
Image: Emma Thompson joined protesters in London's Oxford CircusThe group has caused mass disruption in recent weeks across London, smashing a door at the Shell building and shocking MPs with a semi-nude protest in the House of Commons.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested during protests which started on 15 April, while more than 10,000 police officers have been deployed.
Image: There has been mass disruption in London in recent weeksAs of Wednesday, Scotland Yard had charged 69 people in connection with the protests.
In a statement announcing the end of their action, the group said: "We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency.
Image: Activists previously targeted the Natural History Museum"Around the planet, a long-awaited and much-needed conversation has begun."
"People have taken to the streets and raised the alarm in more than 80 cities in 33 countries.
Image: Police officers carry away a climate change activist at London's Oxford Circus "People are talking about the climate and ecological emergency in ways that we never imagined."
The group added: "It is now time to go back into our communities, whether in London, around the UK or internationally."
Image: More than 10,000 police officers have been deployed during the protestsExtinction Rebellion says it expects to carry out further action "very soon", and announced an end to blockades at Parliament Square and Marble Arch.
It will stage a "closing ceremony" at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park at 5pm on Thursday.
A Snowstorm Forced a Race at the Nurburgring to Be Canceled
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 13:02
ADAC TOTAL 24h-Rennen N¼rburgring YouTube
Racing season is well underway in Germany, but it seems mother nature didn't get the memo. The second VLN race of the season, which took place at the Nurburgring last weekend, had to be canceled thanks to a snowstorm that blanketed the track in white powder.
Qualifying, while cold, went off without a hitch. Fans even braved the freezing weather to see their favorite competitors set fast times around the combined Nurburgring Nordschleife and GP circuit. Though snow was forecast, organizers were confident enough that the race could still go on, going as far as to line up all of the cars on grid just as snowflakes started to fall. But, the precipitation was heavier than expected'--the snow kept on falling, causing officials to delay the start and eventually cancel the race entirely.
This year hasn't been kind to the VLN series so far'--the first race, which happened in March, was plagued with similar delays thanks to heavy fog. Hopefully the rest of the season won't be as stressful for the teams and fans.
For some millennials, climate change clock ticks louder than biological one
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 13:05
Breaking News EmailsGet breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
April 21, 2019, 9:42 AM UTC
By James Rainey
SEATTLE '-- Erika Lundahl writes and performs her own songs. She works in Seattle for a company that publishes books on the environment. She thinks a lot about how best to occupy her place in the world. Yet, despite this full life, Lundahl, at 27, feels a clock ticking.
Her biological clock, yes, but also the one to fix global warming, or face the likelihood that she and her potential children will have to live in a seriously marginalized world.
''There is this sense that if you don't have kids soon, you could be putting them in a harder position,'' Lundahl said. ''But if you do have them, that will not be easy either, with the storms, the intense droughts, the precariousness of the times. It's like you are playing with two ticking time bombs '-- yours and the planet's.''
Fears of bringing children into a troubled world may be as old as recorded history. The government reported last year that U.S. birth rates had hit a 30-year low, attributed partly to millennials who felt they were under economic duress.
But climate concern also appears to be surging. Today's young adults have been taught since grade school that life on Earth promises to become more precarious. Now, groups have formed to support conversation around the tenuous future. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., recently posted an Instagram Live video that brought attention to the question. Given the looming fallout of climate change, she asked, ''Is it OK to still have children?''
A recent poll for Business Insider found that 30 percent of Americans agree, at least somewhat, that the potentially life-threatening effects of climate change should be factored into decisions about whether to have children. A little more than 8 percent of those surveyed strongly held that view. And a New York Times poll last summer revealed that 11 percent of those who don't want children, or aren't sure, cited climate change as one reason.
New revelations fuel the sense of uncertainty, including a November report from U.S. government scientists that detailed the myriad threats that climate change will pose for the American economy and way of life. Drought in the Southwest, powerful hurricanes in the South and devastating wildfires in California have all been exacerbated by temperature increases, driven by humanity's burning of fossil fuels, the report found.
Frustrated by the government's muted response, some activists have taken matters into their own hands. They are driving electric vehicles, taking public transportation more often and swearing off meat. All those changes will reduce the output of Earth-warming greenhouse gases. But no personal action reduces a person's carbon footprint like having fewer children.
With each child, citizens of the developed world increase their carbon footprint sixfold, adding roughly 60 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, one oft-quoted study concluded. The calculation figures the probability that each offspring may also reproduce '-- potentially expanding an individual's carbon footprint for decades after they die. Put another way, forgoing having a child has more than 25 times the carbon-reducing impact of giving up a gas-burning car.
Such details remain a distant abstraction for most people. But for Lundahl, her friends in Seattle and an increasing number of other Americans, the reality of climate-driven disruption feels all too real. The once-pristine Pacific Northwest choked on weeks of thick smoke last summer, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, as wildfires, exacerbated by climate change, swept the region.
Josephine Ferorelli, left, and Meghan Kallman co-founded Conceivable Future. Jennifer LuddenFour years ago, two women who shared fears about rearing children in such a world formed the group Conceivable Future to create a safe space for talk about it. One of the co-founders, Josephine Ferorelli, a writer, editor and yoga instructor, said that, early on, the topic was greeted as ''fringey or hysterical or weird.''
They have no way of measuring how many people now share their concerns, but one thing is clear: ''When we talk to women, there is a huge amount of relief, even excitement, that we were bringing this issue out in the open,'' Ferorelli, 36, said. ''People are like: 'Oh my God. I felt like I was the only one who felt this way.'''
'Do I really want to bring a child into this world?'Natalie Lubsen, 28, a friend of Lundahl's, would like to have children. But Lubsen '-- who works in the marketing office of a magazine that seeks ''a more just, sustainable and compassionate world'' '-- said she sometimes sees a bleak horizon.
''It kind of feels like anything can happen, as the impacts spiral,'' Lubsen said, ''with a lot more global unrest, famine, mass migration, water insecurity, food insecurity, potential political collapses and natural disasters.''
In the summer of 2015, Lubsen, Lundahl and friends gathered with about two dozen others in the meeting room of a Seattle cooperative market. Lundahl helped organize the event as a volunteer for Conceivable Future. It was the first time the friends had joined with others in Seattle to publicly discuss their fears about childbearing in a time of climate change.
Erika Lundahl Doug IndrickAnother in the Seattle friend-group, Caitlin Blair-Stahn, recalled the gathering as a time for ''being present with our grief about climate change '... and then being able to talk about taking action purposefully and, hopefully at some point, even joyously, to make a change.''
The challenge feels intensely personal for Blair-Stahn, 29, a nanny, who has dreamed since she was young of becoming a mother. But her longtime boyfriend, now her husband, had different ideas.
''I had this internal struggle: 'Do I really want to bring a child into this world?''' Nathaniel Blair-Stahn, also 29, said. At the 2015 Conceivable Future meeting he made a video, expressing his anger at the idea that ''we're going to use up everything in the world until there is nothing left.''
'Do I really want to bring a child into this world?'
To Caitlin, the idea of having a partner who did not want to have children was a ''deal-breaker.'' The two broke up for more than two years, just after Nathaniel received a doctorate in math from the University of Washington. But after some soul-searching, Nathaniel '-- his worries about overpopulation notwithstanding '-- decided that he didn't want to miss the experience of fatherhood.
Not long into 2019, Caitlin learned that she was pregnant. She and Nathaniel are expecting a little Blair-Stahn in August.
''Maybe it's a really dumb idea to have kids. On the other hand, the streets aren't burning right now,'' he said recently, laughing at his ambivalence. ''And I think kids can actually be a positive thing for society. We're going to raise our child with our values and to be very active in trying to make a difference in the world.''
That means adding a baby to the couple's community, sharing living space with friends, recycling and composting and buying locally produced products, while the couple shares a single hybrid to get around Seattle. Nathaniel, who is seeking work as a computer programmer, believes that collective political action will provide much more important solutions to the climate crisis.
''It's a systemic problem and it needs systemic solutions,'' he said, citing the end of fossil fuel consumption as the most critical example. ''I feel now like having a kid is an individual choice and changing that, alone, won't make a big difference.''
'Morally serious' consequencesA lively debate has emerged in academia and the media over the question of human reproduction in challenging times.
Travis Rieder, an ethicist with the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University, urges young people to consider all the usual variables and then add another layer of analysis.
''Procreating both contributes to climate change and creates a new victim of climate change,'' said Rieder, a research professor and father of one. ''I don't know whether people should have kids, or whether they should have a big family, but I do believe that climate change should be part of their deliberation, because the consequences of bringing a new person into a changing world are really morally serious.''
Another academic who studies humanity's interaction with the natural world says the discussion about procreation is laudable, drawing more attention to the seriousness of climate change. But Erle Ellis, a professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, rejects the notion that humans should respond by not having children.
''We are on track for climate change, but we are not on track for the worst of it,'' Ellis said. ''People who are so concerned they would even consider not having children are the very kind of people who can be part of the solution. By having children they have doubled down on the future. They are motivated. Because they know if they don't succeed, they are failing not only themselves but this new generation they have brought into the world.''
Conceivable Future co-founder Meghan Kallman said the group does not advocate for people to stop having children, but rather uses reproduction choices as a gateway to engage the public on the issue of global warming.
''Asking these questions helps connect people to the deeper meaning of climate change,'' said Kallman, 35, a sociologist. ''But the bigger goal is to build an economy and a society and a polity that is clean. And we've got to do it fast.''
Not without its criticsIn the U.K., a group of women founded BirthStrike, with 200-plus members declaring their decision ''not to bear children due to the severity of the ecological crisis and the current inaction of governing forces in the face of this existential threat.'' Like Conceivable Future, the international group is conscious not to dictate reproductive decisions to others.
Not everyone welcomes talk about the dangers of human reproduction. The environmental activists have faced criticism from political conservatives and others who have labeled them overly pessimistic, even ''anti-natalist.'' One Twitter user dubbed them ''a particularly paranoid group of lefties.''
BirthStrike co-founder Blythe Pepino went on Fox News' ''Watters' World'' in March and was challenged by host Jesse Watters, who suggested that scientists could be just as wrong about climate change as they were when they predicted a massive computer meltdown in the year 2000 and when they suggested that Earth was the center of the universe. ''I just don't believe the science,'' Watters said, ''because it's not all there.''
''You have been told to not believe the science by your government,'' Pepino retorted, ''and now you don't believe it because it suits you.''
Many of those choosing the no-child path feel as if they are viewed as an oddity in a world where the default setting is for child-rearing. Sometimes their commitment is dismissed as a passing fancy that will change with age.
But many, like Rachel Ries, say that their determination has only deepened, as they see new projections of water and food scarcity. Ries says it's wrong to dismiss the very real fears of those looking toward a future threatened by global warming. ''It's visceral,'' she wrote three years ago on the Conceivable Future website. ''It's dire. It's real. And there's POWER in that.''
Ries, 39, a musician in Minneapolis, feels she has not had to give up her maternal instincts entirely, because she lives in a house with her brother, sister-in-law and two nieces and a nephew. ''I have found a way to parent,'' Ries said. ''And I have been very intentional in that way, but also very lucky.''
'A rude awakening'For the Seattle friends, the quotidian questions about bearing children have not gone away. Lundahl reports a marked ''uptick in my desire to procreate in the last couple of years.'' Her boyfriend, who, at 29, is two years older, has not reached that point. Beyond concerns about climate change, there are typical career questions to ponder and student debts to be paid.
Lundahl decided, a little more than a year ago, that the topic was too big to leave her parents out of the discussion. When she described her fraught view of the future, they were shocked.
''It was kind of a rude awakening to another dimension of climate change that I didn't foresee,'' said her father, Dave Lundahl, who runs a behavioral market research firm in Oregon. ''My response was to say: 'Don't give up. Keep on fighting. Keep on moving forward.' I said, 'Being a parent is one of the greatest joys you can have.' I said, 'Don't give up on that joy.'''
Erika recently got an IUD. ''I felt like, 'I am just going to put a stopper on this conversation for a while,'' she said, laughing. ''But it's still something that feels real and present. That's kind of part of the fabric of life, when climate change keeps making itself more known and felt.''
Extreme Measures: At 107 Meters, The World's Largest Wind Turbine Blade Is Longer Than A Football Field. Here's What It Looks Like - GE Reports
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 14:53
Renewables Apr 18, 2019 by Tomas Kellner How long is the world's largest wind turbine blade? Stretching 107 meters, the blade is longer than a football field and equal to 1.4 times the length of a Boeing 747. Using a different measure, it would take Usain Bolt, the fastest human and a world record holder in the 100-meter dash, close to 10 seconds to race from its root to its tip. It might also represent one of the largest single machine components ever built. Workers just popped the first one from its mold at an LM Wind Power factory in Cherbourg, France.
Three of these blades will form the rotor of GE's Haliade-X 12MW , the world's largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine, which is capable of powering 16,000 European homes. GE acquired LM Wind Power, the world's largest designer and manufacturer of wind turbine blades , in 2017.
GE also recently laid the foundation for the first Haliade-X in Rotterdam , Holland. When complete, the prototype, which will stand on land, will be 260 meters tall from base to blade tips, and the rotor will sweep a circle with a diameter of 220 meters. The machine is expected to start producing electricity later this year.
Top and above: At 107 meters, LM Wind Energy's blades for the Haliade-X 12MW are the world's longest. Images credit: GE Renewable Energy.
The brand-new factory where LM Wind Power makes the massive blades for the Haliade-X 12MW is located on the banks of the English Channel in Normandy, just a short drive from the wide, sandy beaches where Allied troops landed on D-Day. LM Wind Power built the plant near Cherbourg's industrial port to allow workers to load the blades onto ships and send them to their destination.
Operating in three shifts, workers build the blades from a high-tech sandwich made from thin layers of glass and carbon fibers, and wood. They fuse everything together with a special resin.
GE Renewable Energy will put two blades through rigorous testing to demonstrate their ability to withstand more than 20 years of spinning offshore. Lukasz Cejrowski has been building wind turbine blades at LM Wind Power for more than a decade and oversees the company's effort to build the 107-meter blade. Originally from Poland, he's been living in Cherbourg since 2017, when LM Wind Power broke ground on the new factory. To him, the size of the blade is a matter of perspective. ''When you spend some time with the blade, it doesn't seem so big anymore. You get used to it,'' he laughs. ''Then again, after a hard day, I remind myself: If breaking a world record was easy, then everybody would do it, right?''
Bolt would agree.
The foundation in Rotterdam of the Haliade-X, the world's largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine. Image credit: GE Renewable Energy.
Sri Lanka Bombing
Sri Lanka minister says attacks were retaliation for Christchurch atrocities
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 13:30
Sri Lanka's state minister of defence has said the Easter attack on churches, hotels and other sites in the South Asian nation was "carried out in retaliation" for the shooting massacre at two New Zealand mosques last month, according to a statement.
The minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, told Parliament the government possessed information that the series of bombings in and outside of Colombo that killed more than 300 people were carried out "by an Islamic fundamentalist group" in response to the Christchurch attacks.
He did not provide evidence of explain the source of the information.
Mr Wijewardene blamed "weakness" within Sri Lanka's security apparatus for failing to prevent the nine bombings at churches, luxury hotels and other sites.
"By now it has been established that the intelligence units were aware of this attack and a group of responsible people were informed about the impending attack," he said.
"However, this information has been circulated among only a few officials."
As Sri Lanka's leaders wrangled the aftermath of an apparent homegrown militant attack and massive intelligence failure, security was heightened on Tuesday for a national day of mourning and the military was employing powers to make arrests it last used when the devastating civil war ended in 2009.
The six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels and three related blasts later Sunday were the South Asian island nation's deadliest violence in a decade.
Mr Wijewardene said the death toll from the attack now stood at 321 people, with 500 wounded.
Word from international intelligence agencies that a local group was planning attacks apparently did not reach the prime minister's office until after the massacre, exposing the continuing political turmoil in the highest levels of the Sri Lankan government.
On April 11, Priyalal Disanayaka, Sri Lanka's deputy inspector general of police, signed a letter addressed to the directors of four Sri Lankan security agencies, warning them that a local group was planning a suicide attack in the country.
The intelligence report attached to his letter, which has circulated widely on social media, named the group allegedly plotting the attack, National Towheed Jamaar, said it was led by Zahran Hashmi, and was targeting "some important churches" in a suicide terrorist attack that was planned to take place "shortly".
The report named six individuals likely to be involved in the plot.
On Monday, Sri Lanka's health minister held up a copy of the intelligence report while describing its contents, spurring questions about what Sri Lanka police had done to protect the public from an attack.
Among the 40 people arrested on suspicion of links to the bombings were the driver of a van allegedly used by the suicide bombers and the owner of a house where some of them lived.
Heightened security was evident an international airport outside the capital where security personnel walked explosive-sniffing dogs and checked car boots and questioned drivers on roads nearby.
Police also ordered that anyone leaving a parked car unattended on the street must put a note with their phone number on the windscreen, and post officers were not accepting pre-wrapped parcels.
A block on most social media since the attacks has left a vacuum of information, fuelling confusion and giving little reassurance the danger had passed.
Even after an overnight curfew was lifted, the streets of central Colombo were mostly deserted Tuesday and shops closed as armed soldiers stood guard.
Sri Lankan authorities also Tuesday planned to brief foreign diplomats and receive assistance from the FBI and other foreign intelligence-gathering agencies.
The country's prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he feared the massacre could unleash instability and he vowed to "vest all necessary powers with the defence forces" to act against those responsible.
Authorities said they knew where the group trained and had safe houses, but did not identify any of the seven suicide bombers, whose bodies were recovered, or the other suspects taken into custody.
All seven bombers were Sri Lankans, but authorities said they strongly suspected foreign links.
Also unclear was a motive.
The history of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, a country of 21 million including large Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities, is rife with ethnic and sectarian conflict.
In the 26-year civil war, the Tamil Tigers, a powerful rebel army known for using suicide bombers, was finally crushed by the government in 2009 but had little history of targeting Christians.
Anti-Muslim bigotry fed by Buddhist nationalists has swept the country recently, but there is no history of Islamic militancy.
Its small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment.
The office of New Zealand's prime minister said she was aware of the comments linking Sri Lanka's Easter bombings to the mosque attacks in Christchurch, though it has not "seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based".
Jacinda Ardern's office also added that it understood "the Sri Lankan investigation into the attack is in its early stages".
- Press Association
US navy kicks off annual military exercise in Sri Lanka
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 13:05
The U.S. Navy kicked off its 25th annual military exercise, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Exercise (CARAT), in Sri Lanka's Hambantota port on Friday.
Commander, Task Force 73, a U.S. Navy task force of the United States Seventh Fleet, announced the beginning of the 25th annual CARAT exercise series between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of partner nations on April 19.
CARAT, the U.S. Navy's oldest and longest continually-running regional exercise in South Asia and Southeast Asia, strengthens partnerships between regional navies and enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific.
The CARAT series begins at sea in the southern region of Sri Lanka, where U.S. Sailors and Marines join the Sri Lanka Armed Forces to conduct partnered training focused on building interoperability and strengthening relationships, along with sharing best practices.
The week-long exercise at Hamantota port will offer Sailors and Marines a chance to conduct underwater diving sessions, combat lifesaving training and practice small boat maneuvers. Navy Seabees will also be working with the Sri Lankan Navy civil engineering branch to renovate an elementary school in the nearby area.
Sri Lankan Sailors will have the chance to serve aboard Navy vessels for hands-on learning during the at-sea phase of the exercise to increase interoperability between the two countries. U.S. assets participating include the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 90), Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) and a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol craft.
''Twenty-five years of CARAT speaks for the enduring partnerships in this region,'' said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander, Task Force 73. ''CARAT represents a quarter century of partners and allies in the region bringing their enthusiasm, knowledge, and perspectives to this exercise. CARAT also represents our future continuing to work together and strengthening our relationships.''
Each CARAT exercise features a shore phase with professional symposia and a robust at-sea phase that incorporates complex evolutions that increase combined operations. Both feature a broad range of naval competencies ranging from explosive ordnance disposal and live-fire gunnery exercises to search and rescue and humanitarian assistance and disaster response. CARAT also builds personal relationships through professional exchanges, sports and social events, community service projects and band concerts.
The CARAT exercise began in 1995 and remains a model of cooperation that has evolved in complexity and enables partner navies to refine operations and tactics in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges. Its continuing relevance for a quarter century speaks to the high quality of training and the enduring value of maritime cooperation among allies and partners in South and Southeast Asia.
CARAT builds upon other engagements in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific region, including Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, Maritime Training Activity Malaysia, Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama (Philippines), Pacific Griffin with Singapore and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), which involves nearly a dozen partner nations. These engagements bring naval forces together routinely based on shared values and maritime security interests.
As U.S. 7th Fleet's executive agent for theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, Commander, Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 conduct advanced planning, organize resources, and directly support the execution of CARAT and other engagements in the region.
Source: Logistics Group Western Pacific
India must kick China out of Sri Lanka: William Avery
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 15:19
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China''Sri Lanka relations - Wikipedia
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 14:29
Diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
The China''Sri Lanka relations refers to bilateral relations between the People's Republic of China and Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. There is a Chinese embassy located in Colombo and a Sri Lankan embassy situated in Beijing. Historical and cultural ties between the two countries extend back hundreds of years.[1][2]
Diplomatic ties between Sri Lanka and China have being very close specially during Sri Lanka Freedom Party governments,In February 7, 1957, China and Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations[3]. In 1996, then Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga paid a state visit to China at the invitation of then Chinese President Jiang Zeming. The two sides signed two agreements to enhance economic cooperation.Relations between both countries during the rule of Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, resulted in many agreements and saw closer relations due to Rajapaksa's pro-China stance.[4] Under current Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, relations remain strong with Sirisena interested in balancing both Chinese and Indian influence in the country.[5][6] Despite this, recent developments have shown a "pro-China" slant to Sri Lanka's current foreign policy evident in the continued Chinese investment in Sri Lanka and the country's support of China's position in the South China Sea dispute.[7][8][9]
Sri Lanka is a major country on the String of Pearls which is part of the Chinese strategic initiative in the Indian Ocean, known as the Maritime Silk Road and is part of the bigger development strategy known as the One Belt, One Road.[10]
History [ edit ] Hambantota Port one of major emerging port of South Asia funded by China
Faxian traveled to Sri Lanka in 410 and resided in the country for two years before returning to China in a merchant ship. The Karanamudra Sutra and Vimuttimagga, two Buddhist texts in Sri Lanka, were translated to Chinese in 489 and 505 respectively. Amoghavajra, a powerful Buddhist monk in Chinese history traveled to Sri Lanka and was responsible for translating the Karandamudra Sutra into Chinese and taking it back to China in the 8th century. Buddhist nuns from Sri Lanka, vice versa, traveled to China in 429 and 433.[11][12]
Chinese/East Asian architecture, alongside Indian architecture, was one of the main foreign influences on Sri Lankan architecture and played a significant role in shaping it.[13]
The form of martial art known as Cheena di from Sri Lanka derives from Chinese influence via Shaolin monks who arrived to the island on pilgrimage and taught it to the Sinhalese people.[14][15]
During the Ming dynasty in the Yongle Emperor's reign, Admiral Zheng He's Treasure voyages visited Sri Lanka and wanted to take back the sacred bowl, hair, and tooth relics of the Buddha - the island's spiritual treasures for millennia. This resilted in the Ming''Kotte War.[16] The Galle Trilingual Inscription was erected in Galle, Sri Lanka in 1409 to record Zheng He's second visit to the country and to recognize the legitimacy of the Ming King among foreign rulers.[17][18]
Like many other parts of East, South and Southeast Asia, Chinese immigrants migrated to Sri Lanka during the 18th and 19th centuries, albeit in much smaller numbers in comparison to neighbouring countries like India, Myanmar or other parts of Southeast Asia.[19] As of the 2001 census, they comprise less than 0.20% of the population and have integrated into broader Sri Lankan society.[20]
Diplomatic Ties [ edit ] Sri Lanka was among the first countries to recognize the People's Republic of China. Since then, the two countries have regularly exchanged high-level visits resulting in a variety of agreements.Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall was gifted to Sri Lanka by China to honor prime minister SWRD Bandaranaike in 1973. In 1996, then Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga paid a state visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese President Jiang Zeming. The two sides signed two agreements to enhance economic cooperation.China has provided economic, military and technical assistance to Sri Lanka.
There is substantial investment from China in Sri Lankan infrastructural expansion. From 2004 to 2014, China provided 7 billion dollars in loans,[21] including loans for the construction of a Sri Lankan port in Hambantota. However there are concerns inside the country and in the international media that Sri Lanka cannot afford these loans since the nation is already 64 billion dollars in debt, and about 95% of the government's revenue is used to pay back loans.[22] In the case of the port in Hambantota, the two countries have recently come to a deal with Sri Lanka selling a majority stake in the port to the state-run China Merchants Port Holdings, while Sri Lanka retains control of port security.[23] China and Sri Lanka also share a military relationship, with China selling a range of modern armaments to the Sri Lanka Armed Forces.
Defense ties [ edit ] Chinese WZ551 (Type 92) APC in Sri Lankan use
China has been a continuing source of military equipment to Sri Lanka, and is helping to modernize and expand the Sri Lanka Armed Forces.China exports military equipment to the Sri Lanka military including: ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket launchers and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, deep penetration bombs and rockets, mortar ammunition, night vision devices, artillery, armor, mortars, security equipment, tanks, jets, naval vessels, radars, and communications equipment. China also aids in the training of Sri Lankan military personnel.[24]
China National Aero Technology Import-Export Corporation is helping the Sri Lanka government to create an Aircraft Maintenance Centre. However, the location has not yet been finalised, but Katunayake, Mattala and Trincomalee are possible locations.[25]
Chinese nuclear submarines have made several visits to Sri Lanka in September and November 2014, despite strong displeasure from the Indian government.[26]
In October 2016, the Chinese government announced it would offer military aid to Sri Lanka to help them purchase Chinese made military equipment.[27]
Chinese expatriates in Sri Lanka [ edit ] The landmark
Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Pond) is one of symbol of China-Sri Lanka Friendship
Chinese international students, migrant workers, and business people have moved to the country in the 1990s and 2000s.[28][29] In recent years, Chinese engineering companies who have been contracted for projects in Sri Lanka have also brought in migrant workers from China. The earliest such workers came in 1970 to work on the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. More recently they are working on infrastructure projects at Hambantota, such as the Hambantota International Airport and the Port of Hambantota.[30] The port project, run by China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd, was reported to employ 328 Sri Lankan and 235 Chinese workers in 2008.[31] Due to the influx of Chinese workers, Hambantota locals have even begun doing business growing and selling Chinese vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, choy sum, and kale for their kitchens.[32] The Norocholai Power Station, a fossil fuel power station construction project near Puttalam, reportedly employs 900 Chinese engineers, helpers, welders, and fitters, with the assistance of only a few Sri Lankans.[33][34] Other construction projects known to employ Chinese workers include the Colombo National Performing Arts Theatre (reported to employ 1,000 Chinese workers) and a water-supply upgrade project in Colombo run by China Geo Engineering Corporation.[35][36]
Modern cultural ties [ edit ] Sri Lanka has become a very popular destination for Chinese tourists and now form the largest nationality of tourists coming to the country. In the first seven months of 2016, 1,173,618 Chinese tourists visited the country.[37] Almost 1.8 million visited in 2015.[38]
Chinese cuisine enjoys a lot of popularity in Sri Lanka and like Indian cuisine, restaurants serving Chinese cuisine can be found across the island.[39]
Sinhalese language-dubbed Chinese and Hong Kong television dramas are popular and are broadcast on major television networks in Sri Lanka; subtitled copies are sold in DVD stores across the country as well.[40]Chinese action films are popular and in the past enjoyed a lot of popularity in the country with CD stores across the country supplying the DVDs.[41] Additionally, Chinese-origin TV channels and radio stations have begun broadcasting in the country including: China Central Television, China Radio International and Celestial Movies.[42]
References [ edit ] ^ http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2017/11/12/features/bri-and-buddhist-kingdom-lanka ^ http://ar.unesco.org/silkroad/sites/silkroad/files/knowledge-bank-article/china_sri_lanka_trade_and_diplomatic_relations_including_the_voyages_of_cheng_ho.pdf ^ http://www.island.lk/2005/01/15/satmag2.html ^ Rising China's Influence in Developing Asia ^ Indian Ocean: China, Sri Lanka keen to push Colombo port project ^ Sri Lanka attempts tricky maritime balancing act ^ President Sirisena's second visit to Beijing to boost China-Sri Lanka ties ^ Sri Lanka to support China over South China Sea issue with Philippines ^ U.S. should stop intervention in South China Sea issue: Sri Lankan official ^ http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2017/11/12/features/bri-and-buddhist-kingdom-lanka ^ https://books.google.com.au/books?id=Vt3zDQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false ^ http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2017/11/12/features/bri-and-buddhist-kingdom-lanka ^ The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography, pg 248 ^ http://archives.sundayobserver.lk/2006/09/24/zin02.asp ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20171210022437/http://www.mardb.com/cheena-di/ ^ http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2017/11/12/features/bri-and-buddhist-kingdom-lanka ^ http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/zhenhe/134661.htm ^ http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2017/11/12/features/bri-and-buddhist-kingdom-lanka ^ Armstrong, Armstrong & Mulliner 2001, p. 32 ^ Jayasuriya, S. de Silva (2000). The Portuguese Cultural Imprint on Sri Lanka. Lusotopie 2000. p. 255. ^ "Sri Lanka snubs India, opens port to Chinese submarine again - Times of India". The Times of India . Retrieved 2017-08-04 . ^ Limaye, Yogita (2017-05-26). "Sri Lanka: A country trapped in debt". BBC News . Retrieved 2017-08-04 . ^ "Exclusive: Sri Lanka's cabinet 'clears port deal' with China firm after concerns addressed". Reuters. 2017-07-25 . Retrieved 2017-08-04 . ^ archive.indianexpress.com/news/china-to-train-sri-lankan-army-to-provide-military-technology/1123290/ ^ http://www.ceylontoday.lk/51-68802-news-detail-chinese-aircraft-maintenance-centre-in-trinco.html ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Sri-Lanka-snubs-India-opens-port-to-Chinese-submarine-again/articleshow/45008757.cms ^ China strengthens military trade ties with Cambodia and Sri Lanka ^ Chelvaratnam, Rajika (2003-01-26), "Migrant Chinese businessmen - a dying breed?", Sunday Times , retrieved 2011-06-14 ^ "斯里兰åéæ•éƒ¨é•ç¥'贺中国ç•å­...ç--Ÿå­...æå›žå›½", China Review News, 2009-03-23 , retrieved 2011-06-14 ^ "Shadows of Asian giants over Sri Lanka", The Sunday Leader, 2010-09-05 , retrieved 2011-06-14 ^ "Chinese, Sri Lankan workers mingle at sprawling Hambantota port site", The Sunday Times, 2008-10-05 , retrieved 2011-06-14 ^ "Novel project in Hambantota: Lankan grown Chinese vegetables", Sunday Observer, 2010-05-09 , retrieved 2011-06-15 ^ Kannangara, Ananda (2010-11-21), "Power at Rs. 8.04 a unit from next year - Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka", Sunday Observer , retrieved 2011-06-15 ^ Berenger, Leon (2009-10-25), "Chinese workers at Coal Power Project threatened", The Sunday Times , retrieved 2011-06-14 ^ Hemachandra, Lakmali (2010-09-05), "Chinese company work on arts theatre 'not abandoned ' ", The Nation , retrieved 2011-06-15 ^ "Sri Lanka water supply expansion contract to Chinese firm", Express Business, 2010-11-01 , retrieved 2011-06-15 ^ http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-08/05/c_135567195.htm ^ http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/travel/2016-07/05/content_25975133.htm ^ https://books.google.com.au/books?id=6QAgHA69_rwC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false ^ Example of a Chinese drama broadcast in Sri Lanka in 2013. ^ http://nation.lk/online/2017/03/04/so-royal-and-regal.html ^ http://www.sundaytimes.lk/100613/Magazine/sundaytimestvtimes_2.html Bibliography [ edit ] Armstrong, M. Jocelyn; Armstrong, R. Warwick; Mulliner, K. (2001), Chinese populations in contemporary Southeast Asian societies: identities, interdependence, and international influence, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-7007-1398-1 Sri lanka China business Council
Sri Lankan Authorities May Have Fallen Into a Trap Set by a Foreign Power - Eurasia Future
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 14:27
The entire world remains confronted with the horrors that unfolded yesterday throughout Sri Lanka. Whilst the country remains under curfew, the authorities have pinned the blame for the attack on an obscure group called National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ). NTJ is reportedly an Islamist terror group that as noted by Sri Lankan authorities, has multiple links to foreign countries. The links to foreign countries appears to hold the key to determining who is really behind the attacks. Notably, it has been reported by journalists that the group trains in Chennai in Tamil Nadu '' the same location where LTTE had previously trained. Others yet claim that NTJ is such a small and obscure group that even if it wanted to pull off such an attack, it did not have the capacity to do so.
As the Muslim population of Sri Lanka is less than 8% of the country's entire population, it is difficult to conceive that any genuine local Islamist group would seek to stage such massive attacks when the possibility of any material gain would be limited by the fact that not only is Sri Lanka's Muslim population at harmony with the Buddhist majority, but the population of Muslims is incredibly small. This contrasts sharply with the situation in Syria where a Sunni Muslim majority was weaponized against a leadership comprised of the minority Alawite faction.
Therefore, due to NTJ's foreign links, it is highly likely that a foreign entity, most likely a foreign state or state intelligence agency was behind the attacks and that the men on the ground who have been captured are merely pawns in a much larger and even more dangerous game. When it comes to seeking to pin-pointing the country with a clear motive for orchestrating the attacks, India is the one that springs immediately to mind, not least because NTJ reportedly trains where the LTTE once did.
India has a long history of seeking to manipulate the power balance in Sri Lanka in order to turn the country into something of an Indian protectorate. These attempts have notably been resisted by most contemporary Sri Lankan leaders who seek an independent foreign policy that aims at securing win-win friendship not only with India but crucially, also with China and Pakistan.
In spite of this, India was one of the first open backers of the LTTE's reign of terrorism that gripped Sri Lanka beginning in 1983. India ultimately paid a price for its dithering in the early stages of the Sri Lankan civil war. By the end of the 1987, India had given up on LTTE and instead sought to influence the situation by committing a deeply controversial peace keeping force to Sri Lanka whose overall effect only served to provoke further violence. As a result of India's 1987 decision to publicly ''switch sides'', LTTE assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. In spite of this, it has been widely known in Sri Lanka and elsewhere that in spite of the official rhetoric in New Delhi, India's RAW intelligence agency resumed covert support of LTTE later in the 1990s.
Since the end of the war against LTTE in 2009, India has sought to monopolise foreign influence in a post-war Sri Lanka that has developed ever more economic ties with China and plays a key role in the Belt and Road initiative. This has clearly been a source of consternation for an Indian state that has a track record of meddling in the affairs of both Sri Lanka and the much smaller Maldives. In both Sri Lanka and the Maldives, political factions are often divided by foreign observers into a pro-India side and a pro-China side. Although such divisions are not black and white, there is a level of truth to such descriptions. As such, India recently engaged in what geopolitical expert Andrew Kroybko described as a ''electoral regime change in the Maldives''. This came after the prominent BJP supporter Subramanian Swamy called for a traditional war against the Maldives.
India was clearly looking to the south both in terms of Maldives and Sri Lanka for much of late 2018 and early 2019. Beginning in late 2018, Sri Lanka experienced a serious political crisis after President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former political rival (and former President) Mahinda Rajapaksa. According to Sirisena and his supporters, the proximate causes of Wickremesinghe's dismissal were personal, cultural and class differences that Sirisena called irreconcilable. Furthermore, it was claimed by some in the Sri Lankan press that the sacking of Wickremesinghe was due to an Indian backed assassination plot against the President which resulted in the abrupt about face in respect of the Sri Lankan President's loyalty. Later however, Sirisena assured Indian Premier Modi that he had never made such an accusation.
But while Sirisena took the time to assure India that stories regarding an Indian assassination plot are 'fake news', an inevitable geopolitical justification for Wickremesinghe's sacking was offered from many quarters of Indian media.
According to the Indian narrative throughout the end of the 2018, the traditionally/''formerly'' pro-India Sirisena dismissed the pro-India Wickremesinghe in favour of the pro-China Rajapaksa due to pressure from Beijing. Of course, no one has been able to present any evidence of any Chinese involvement in the matter while China itself has taken a diplomatic line on the matter that has respected Sirisena's decision in a rather subdued manner.
Ultimately, the courts overruled Sirisena and Wickremesinghe has continued to serve as the country's Prime Minister.
Whilst the saga which pitted Wickremesinghe against Rajapaksa on the orders of Sirisena does ultimately seem to have been a completely internal matter, India clearly has not forgotten that Sirisena had moved to install a Prime Minister who ostensibly was more favourable to China and less so to India. As Sri Lanka is a much larger country than Maldives, meddling in the political situation was clearly going to be more difficult than the ''electoral regime change'' that New Delhi pulled off in Mal(C). Beyond this, whilst Indian media did their best to meddle in the situation in Sri Lanka during late 2018 and early 2019, this may well not have been enough to satisfy elements of the Indian deep state seeking revenge against Sirisena.
Beyond this, the timing of the attacks is incredibly suspicious. After India's recent provocation against Pakistan resulted in humiliation after Pakistan downed two Indian jets and safely captured and later released an Indian pilot, it can be logically deduced that India sought to create a different regional disturbance against a target that is generally seen as ''softer'' from the Indian perspective vis-a-vis Pakistan.
As Sri Lanka defeated LTTE ten years ago, the atmosphere of peace that had prevailed may well have created a false sense of security that was ripe for exploitation. Even before Colombo named an obscure Islamist group as the culprits of the attacks, Indian politicians up to and including Narendra Modi began banging the drums of jingoistic Islamophobia as is par for the course when it comes to the radical Hindutva BJP.
Therefore, when one connects the dots, one sees that India stands to uniquely benefit from Sri Lanka's turmoil not only in terms of internal electoral politics but in terms of weakening a Sri Lankan government that in spite of its allegedly pro-India Prime Minister maintains healthy and growing ties to China and Belt and Road. Thus, the attack could well serve as a ''punishment'' for Sri Lanka's ''crime'' of moving closer towards Belt and Road. Making matters all the more beneficial for India is that a relative of the Bangladesh Prime Minister's family was also killed in the attack which took place on a five star hotel in which he was staying. It cannot be ruled out that RAW had knowledge of this and specially targeted the hotel in order to inevitably inflame Bangladeshi sentiment against Sri Lanka for its self-evident security failure.
Taken as a whole, India has clear motives for seeking to destabilise Sri Lanka at this time. What's left for Sri Lankan investigators to do is make the foreign links of NTJ know to the wider world whilst Sri Lanka must also record and make public the voices of the surviving suspects so that experts can determine if the suspects speak in the language, dialect and vernacular that one would expect. Also, the bodies of the terrorists must be examined to determine whether they are circumcised or not. This is crucial as previous Indian false flag attacks have involved non-circumcised men (therefore not Muslims) participating in allegedly Islamist attacks whilst also, previous false flag attacks in India allegedly involving Pakistanis were later exposed due to the fact that the ''Pakistani'' suspects could not speak Urdu or any other official Pakistani language but instead spoke in languages and vernaculars common only to India.
Therefore, while it cannot be concluded with certainty that yesterday's atrocity was a false flag attack, it can certainly not be ruled out. As such, anyone with a clear motive for conducting a false flag attack should be thoroughly investigated by the Sri Lankan authorities.
National Thowheeth Jama'ath - Wikipedia
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 14:18
Sri Lankan Islamist terrorist group
National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ; Arabic: جماعØ(C) اÙتÙحيد اÙÙطنيØ(C) 'Ž; Jamā'at at-TawḥÄd al-Waá¹­anÄyah, "National Monotheism Organization") is a Sri Lankan jihadist group implicated in the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings.[9][10] It is believed to have ties with Islamic State.[11]
Aims [ edit ] The group promotes "Islamist terrorist ideology".[9] The director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism said that it "aims to spread the global jihadist movement to Sri Lanka and to create hatred, fear and divisions in society."[9]
History [ edit ] NTJ is believed to have separated from the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ), also a hardline Islamist organization, in or around 2016.[12] The NTJ's leadership had been condemned by several Sri Lankan Muslim organizations in 2016 for advocating extreme fundamentalist indoctrination of children, and for clashes with Buddhist monks.[13] One of the leaders, Abdul Razik, was arrested for inciting racism.[9]
In 2018, NTJ was linked to vandalism of Buddhist statues following anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka.[14][15] The group's propaganda highlighted violence against Muslims in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India and other countries.[16]
Easter bombings [ edit ] NTJ was first made known to the Sri Lankan police force when a police officer sent an announcement to the authorities warning about a possible attack on churches 10 days before the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings on 21 April 2019. The report read that "the NTJ is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo."[17] The prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, remarked that government officials did not receive the advisory and that they would "look into why adequate precautions were not taken."[9]
After the attacks, the Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne confirmed at an 22 April 2019 press conference that all seven of the suicide bombers in the near-simultaneous attacks were Sri Lankan citizens associated with NTJ, but said that foreign links were suspected.[18] Officials earlier blamed the local Islamist group, "National Tawhid", but Al Jazeera correspondent Samer Allawi said the authorities had denied officially accusing the group of responsibility.[19]ISIS has clamed responsibility for the attacks.[20]
References [ edit ] ^ "Muslim Council deplores Wijedasa's statement on ISIS". Daily Mirror. Sri Lanka. 19 November 2016 . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ "Little-known Islamist group NTJ accused in Sri Lanka blasts". France 24. 22 April 2019. ^ "Nearly 190 dead, 500 injured as two more blasts strike Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday". Sindh Post. 21 April 2019 . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ "Muslim Council deplores Wijedasa's statement on ISIS". Daily Mirror. Sri Lanka. 19 November 2016 . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ "Little-known Islamist group NTJ accused in Sri Lanka blasts". France 24. 22 April 2019. ^ "Nearly 190 dead, 500 injured as two more blasts strike Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday". Sindh Post. 21 April 2019 . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ "Little-known Islamist group NTJ accused in Sri Lanka blasts". France 24. 22 April 2019. ^ "Nearly 190 dead, 500 injured as two more blasts strike Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday". Sindh Post. 21 April 2019 . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ a b c d e Garcia, Sandra E. (22 April 2019). "What Is National Thowheeth Jama'ath? Suspicion Falls on Sri Lanka Islamic Group". The New York Times . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ "Sri Lanka explosions: Suspicion falls on radical group National Thowheeth Jama'ath". The Straits Times. 22 April 2019 . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ ISIS Claims Responsibility for Attacks ^ "Sri Lanka Attacks: Who Are National Thowheed Jamath?". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 22 April 2019 . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ "Muslim Council deplores Wijedasa's statement on ISIS". Daily Mirror. Sri Lanka. 19 November 2016 . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ "Little-known Islamist group NTJ accused in Sri Lanka blasts". France 24. 22 April 2019. ^ "Nearly 190 dead, 500 injured as two more blasts strike Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday". Sindh Post. 21 April 2019 . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ "Little-known Islamist group prime suspect in Sri Lanka terror attacks". SBS News. 22 April 2019. ^ Morton, Victor (21 April 2019). "Sri Lankan officials warned of Muslim jihad group's plan to attack churches 10 days earlier". The Washington Times. The Washington Times, LLC . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ Associated Press, ed. (22 April 2019). "The Latest: Man recalls death of daughter, wife in blast". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ "Ø·ÙارØ... Ùحداد Ùطني Ùاتهام شبكØ(C) دÙÙيØ(C).. Ø"ريÙانكا تÙمÙم جراحها ÙØªØ¨Ø­Ø Ø¹Ù† اÙمنفذين". aljazeera.net (in Arabic). Al Jazeera Media Network. 22 April 2019 . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . ^ Callimachi, Rukmini; El-Naggar, Mona; Goldman, Russell; Gettleman, Jeffrey; P(C)rez-Pe±a, Richard; Schmitt, Eric (23 April 2019). "ISIS Claims Responsibility for Attacks". NY Times. The New York Times Company . Retrieved 23 April 2019 .
Who are National Thowheed Jamath? 'ISIS branch' blamed for Sri Lanka attacks - World News - Mirror Online
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 16:53
A radical Islamic group blamed for a series of suicide bombings that killed almost 300 people and injured about 500 others in Sri Lanka was a local branch of ISIS, it is claimed.
Members of National Thowheed Jamath are alleged to have blown themselves up at three churches and three hotels on the Indian Ocean island with help from an international network.
All of the Easter Sunday bombers were Sri Lankan nationals, and the government has said there were several warnings of possible attacks in the days before the massacre that included eight Britons among the dead.
A local Muslim extremist group now stands accused of the worst attacks since the end of Sri Lanka's civil war in 2009 and one of the world's worst since 9/11 - but little is known about them.
Security personnel inspect the interior of St Sebastian's Church in Negombo (Image: AFP/Getty Images) Read MoreSri Lanka attacks: Three children of ASOS billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen killedNational Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), also known as National Thowheeth Jama'ath, hasn't claimed responsibility for the attacks - no group has as of Monday afternoon - but it has been blamed by Sri Lanka's government.
It is believed to be a splinter group of the hardline Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ), and its name roughly translates as National Monotheism Organisation.
Before the attacks the NTJ had been accused of promoting Islamic terrorist ideology, and had been known for vandalising Buddhist statues on the island.
Its secretary, Abdul Razik, was arrested on suspicion of inciting racism in 2016. He later apologised.
Blood stains are seen on a statue of Jesus Christ at St. Sebastian Catholic Church (Image: REUTERS) Read MoreNew explosion rocks Colombo church targeted in massacreA security expert says the group was the ISIS branch in Sri Lanka and perpetrators were known to have links to Sri Lankans who travelled to the Middle East to join the terror group in Syria and Iraq.
About two weeks before the bombings, an advisory from a police official warned that NTJ could possibly attack churches or tourist sites over the Easter holiday.
Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne, the country's health minister, told reporters that the extremists who carried out the bombings had help from an international network.
He said: "We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country.
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"There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded."
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena's office said intelligence reports indicated foreign terrorist organisations were behind Sri Lankan militants.
He he would seek ''international assistance'' in the investigation. Interpol announced it was joining the probe.
Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based security expert, said the Sri Lankan group was the ISIS branch in Sri Lanka and perpetrators were known to have links to Sri Lankans who travelled to the Middle East to join the terror group in Syria and Iraq.
Relatives of blast victims weep outside a police mortuary (Image: Getty Images)ISIS supporters celebrated the attacks online.
Alto Labetubun, an anti-terrorism expert, told Reuters that the bombings bore the hallmarks of militant groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda, citing the level of sophistication of the attacks.
He said: "These synchronised attacks are out of the ordinary for Sri Lanka. Compared with similar attacks in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, it has the DNA of attacks carried out by Islamic State and al Qaeda."
A senior Asian counter-terrorism official, who declined to be named, told Reuters the attack was likely carried out by a group with "significant operational capability and skilled commanders".
Twenty-four local people have been arrested as part of the investigation.
The US State Department has issued a travel warning that said there was a threat of more attacks against locations including tourist sites, hotels, restaurants, airports and places of worship.
Read MoreSri Lanka terror attacks
'These Attacks Could Target Catholic Churches': The Warning That Sri Lankan Officials Failed to Heed - The New York Times
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 16:38
Asia Pacific | 'These Attacks Could Target Catholic Churches': The Warning That Sri Lankan Officials Failed to Heed Ten days before devastating bombings on Easter Sunday, a top Sri Lankan police official warned the security services in an advisory that a little-known radical Islamist group was planning suicide attacks against churches. Top government officials say the warning never reached them, and no action was taken against the group.
On Monday, the government blamed the group, National Thowheeth Jama'ath, for the attacks, saying it received help from unspecified international terrorist organizations.
Here is a translation of the cover letter and summary of the advisory. In several cases, The Times has redacted an address or phone number from the translation.
Image The cover page of the advisory.April 11, 2019From DIG Special Security RangeSent to: Ministerial Security DivisionDiplomatic Security DivisionJudicial Security DivisionSecurity Divisions of Retired Presidents
1. This refers to the letter from the Ministry of Defense to the Inspector General of Police and further refers to the memo dated 2019.04.09 by the IGP with reference number STAFF05/IGP/PS/OUT/2860/19.
2. You are hereby instructed to pay particular attention to the reference made in Page 2-4 of the above under title National Thawhith Jamaan concerning a possible suicide attack being planned in this country by Mohammed Zaharan, leader of the National ''Thawhith Jamaan.''
3. You should instruct all personnel to pay strict heed to this report and be extra vigilant and cautious of the top officials and residences coming under your purview.
Priyalal DassanayakeDeputy Inspector General of PoliceSpecial Protection Range,Colombo 02
Regarding information of suicide attacks planned by the Leader of the National Thowheeth Jama'ath, Mohammed Zaharan
Foreign intelligence has informed that Mohammed Cassim Mohamed Zaharan alias Zaharan Hashmi the leader of the National Thowheeth Jama'ath and his followers are planning suicide attacks in this country. The reports noted that these attacks could target Catholic churches and the Indian High Commission in Colombo. (Information received is at Appendix A)
Initial investigations into these reports have revealed that the following several people are involved in this regard.
Information has been received that persons known as Zaharan Hashmi and Shahid are currently in hiding in Oluvil in the Akkaraipattu region after the incidents of damaging religious statues in Mawanella in December 26, 2018.
A person known as Rilwan has been identified as a younger brother of Zaharan, and the main recruiter of followers around Zaharan - by the name of Mohamed Cassim Mohammed Rilwan NIC No. 903432624V residing at [address redacted], of the Kattankudy Police Division
It has been found that this individual is currently in hiding after a clash between NTJ and another religious organization in Kattankudy on March 10, 2018. Even while in hiding he has been working to build followers for Zaharan in Akkaraipattu, Kuliyapitiya, Puttalam, Mawanella and Thihariya and is currently residing in the home of one his close associates in the Oluvil Region.
It has been further found that Rilwan visits his wife and children at night (2300hrs -0400hrs) residing at [address redacted].
A person known as Milhan, maintains a social media account under the name Mohammed Milhan and interacts with the social media accounts of Zaharan. It has been observed that he has been regularly updating accounts with hate speech again non-Muslims since the March 15, 2019, attacks on a Muslim mosque by a Christian individual in New Zealand.
Mohammed Milhan, who studied at Kalmunai Zahira College, uses [phone number redacted], and as an ardent follower of Zaharan, has been observed as someone who has deep hatred towards nonbelievers.
It has been further noted that a former army soldier by the name of Bathurdeen Mohammed Mohideen alias Army Mohideen (NIC 750683126V) resides near the Anwer Mosque in Kattankudy 3.E
Even though Zaharan has not specifically called on his recruits to directly attack Catholic churches or the Indian High Commission, he has, since 2016, preached to his followers that the murder of nonbelievers is a most noble religious endeavor and that Islam should be spread through such acts.
Highly confidential investigations regarding the above are in process.
Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Sri Lanka | United States Department of Labor
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 12:19
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Apparel industry of Sri Lanka - Wikipedia
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 12:17
The design, manufacture and export of textiles and apparel products is one of the biggest industries in Sri Lanka, and one which plays a key role in advancing the country's economy.[1] The apparel industry of Sri Lanka employs about 15% of the country's workforce, accounting for about half of the country's total exports,[2] and Sri Lanka is among the top apparel-producing countries in the world relative to its population.[3][4]
Development [ edit ] Sri Lanka's apparel industry began to grow significantly in the 1980s as an alternative to India's garment manufacturers, because of its open economic policy as well as the trade and investment friendly environment. Under the Multi Fibre Agreement, quota regime Sri Lanka became an attractive new venue for businesses. In 1985, Martin Trust, one of the pioneers in the development of "speed sourcing"[5] for the American fashion retail sector, began working with Sri Lankan textile and apparel companies. In 1986 and 1987 he established joint venture partnerships with The Omar Group (formerly known as LM Apparels and part of the Brandix group) and The Amalean Group which helped make the country more competitive through knowledge transfers and technology, attracting further foreign investors.[6] These were the first of nearly two dozen joint venture companies in Sri Lanka which made the country competitive in the garment sector. Including Trust's partnership with German brassiere maker, Triumph International, and Sri Lankan company, MAS Holdings, to create a new venture called Bodyline.[7]
When the US and other countries eliminated quantitative restrictions on garments produced in China, many garment facilities in Sri Lanka were consolidated. As of 2010, most of the exports to the US are from MAS or Brandix, with smaller amounts coming from the Hirdaramani Group & Jay Jay Mills Groups. Together, these three companies account for a majority of the value of exports of garments to the US market.[8]
Economic growth [ edit ] Exports of apparel per capita to the US market from leading garment-manufacturing countries, 1989''2009.
Over the next few decades, the apparel industry grew to represent Sri Lanka's number one export. Following a 38% increase in textile-based revenue from 1996 to 1997, in which the industry generated $2.18 billion in earnings, 50 new textile factories opened in Sri Lanka in 1998.[9] As of 1998, the Sri Lanka apparel industry employed about 300,000 people in 800 factories. Sri Lanka nationals are primary owners of 85% of the small-to-mid-sized factories, while larger operations are typically joint ventures or foreign-owned.[9]
The end of Sri Lanka's civil war in 2009 relieved pressure on the country's garment industry. After fighting ceased, Brandix, a garment manufacturer with 25,000 employees,[10] announced that its factory in Punani would double its exports.[11] Later that year, Sri Lanka held its largest ever Design Festival, highlighting the country's high-fashion merchandise, upcoming designers and advancing the industry's desire to become known as a hub for design, as well as manufacturing.[1] More exhibits followed once the Conference and Exhibition Management Services began operating out of Sri Lanka in 2010. In doing so, the global company announced three international textile exhibits in Sri Lanka, each to highlight a different aspect of the local textile and apparel industry while allaying fears about political instability and to show that Sri Lanka can compete with the EU market.[12]
As of the late 2000s (decade), the Sri Lankan textile industry contributes 39% to the industrial production of the country and represents 43% of the country's total exports. Since the 1970s, the industry has grown to become the country's largest single source of export revenue.[13]
Trade partnerships [ edit ] The United States is the main importer of textile goods from Sri Lanka, accounting for 76% of total exports from Sri Lanka. As of 2009, Sri Lanka ranked 12th among apparel exporters to the United States in terms of value.[14]
Sri Lanka partnership was advanced in 2000 in part by setting up logistics centres at key US ports to smooth the importation of Sri Lankan goods.[15] Beginning in 2004, Sri Lankan officials have sought to increase textile deals in North Carolina, the American state with the largest concentration of textile industries.[16]
[ edit ] Women working in Sri Lanka apparel industry.
Sri Lanka's apparel industry has invested much in achieving recognition for what the Daily Mirror calls its "conscientious standpoint in apparel production". Through the long-running Garments without Guilt campaign, the industry's trade association, Sri Lanka Apparel has called attention to its adherence to ethical considerations, including its opposition to child labour. Sri Lanka Apparel is a signatory to 39 conventions of the International Labour Organization, the only country with a significant manufacturing industry to do so.[1] Child labour is outlawed in the country, and the minimum statutory age for employment is 18, though some conditional exemptions exist for those over 16. Sri Lankan law also mandates that employers contribute 3% of an employee's salary to a trust fund, which the employee receives after he or she leaves the company.[17]
Among the largest firms in the Sri Lanka apparel industry, employing about 16,000 people,[18] is MAS Intimates, which is a supplier to Gap, Marks and Spencer, Nike and Victoria's Secret, among others. In recent years, MAS has placed a strong emphasis on corporate social responsibility, for which it has been recognised with a CIMA Financial Management Award in 2007.[19]
Women and minorities in the workforce [ edit ] A large portion of Sri Lanka's factory work is provided by women. As of 2010, 350,000 women are employed in the country's 850 apparel factories, or 85% of the industry's workforce.[19] Ethnic minorities also play a significant role in apparel production.[17][20]
See also [ edit ] Economy of Sri LankaTextile industryReferences [ edit ] External links [ edit ] Sri Lanka ApparelSri Lanka Apparel Exporters' Association
Sultan Knish: The Media Cheers Mayor Buttigieg While South Bend Bleeds
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 13:55
On March 31, a South Bend grandma brought her grandson to the hospital. The 11-month-old baby boy had been shot. His grandmother’s car had also taken fire. It was another early morning in South Bend.Around the same time, Mayor Buttigieg, was toting up the $7 million in donations from his charm offensive as his bid for the 2020 Democrat nomination got underway. The national media never bothered reporting the shooting of an 11-month-old boy in the city he was supposed to be running, but instead confined its coverage of South Bend matters to a publicity stunt wedding officiated by Buttigieg.The horrifying shooting of an 11-month-old boy on the millennial mayor’s watch was not an unusual incident. In the last few days, even as the media was gushing over Buttigieg’s presidential ambitions, two Indiana University South Bend players were injured in a shooting on Notre Dame Avenue, a blind date ended in a shooting, and yet another shooting added to the bloody toll in the real South Bend.Those are quite a few shootings for a city of barely 100,000 people. But South Bend is a violent place.While Chicago is notorious for its murder rate, in 2015, Buttigieg’s South Bend actually topped Chicago’s 16.4 homicides per 100,000 people with a homicide rate of 16.79 per 100,000 people. Those numbers put Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s city on the list of the top 30 murder capitals in the country for the year.In January, three shootings in one week killed two teens and left a woman paralyzed from the waist down. In one summer week, the casualties included a 12 and a 13-year-old. Last year, a man shot 6 people when he opened fire on 50 partygoers in a house and was sentenced to 100 years in jail.By 2017, shootings had risen 20% on Mayor Buttigieg’s watch. Rapes increased 27% and aggravated assaults rose from 183 in 2013, the year before Buttigieg took office, to a stunning 563 assaults.It’s hard to know which are flying faster, bullets in South Bend or dollars into Buttigieg’s campaign.Some of these stories, particularly the recent shootings of two baseball players which shocked Indiana University, should have been covered by the national media, which instead chose to broadcast Buttigieg’s publicity stunt of officiating at a pregnant woman’s wedding in a hospital. Had the media stuck around, it could have reported on the trail of shooting victims making their way into the hospital.But reporting on an 11-month-old being shot in their hot new candidate’s city wouldn’t be as much fun.The media’s bias has never been subtle, but its disinterest in a presidential candidate’s track record has never been this blatant. Mayor Buttigieg’s candidacy is being covered as if he weren’t the mayor of an actual city with actual problems. Instead his prospects have been covered purely in terms of his identity, a gay millennial, his past career before taking office, and his current witticisms and applause lines.At no point in time does the media stop to tell the viewers and readers it is regaling with stories of Mayor Buttigieg’s charm that he runs the most dangerous city in Indiana, recently rated as one of the “worst cities to live”, where nearly half the residents live at the poverty level, and even the water is bad.These are significant data points in the track record of a politician aspiring to run the entire country.The media keeps asking Mayor Buttigieg which of its wishlist of radical socialist policies he’s willing to sign on to, the Green New Deal, eliminating private health insurance, and freeing more convicts, rather than asking him which policies he used to try and solve problems in South Bend. And how they worked.Mayor Pete Buttigieg has tried to pass off South Bend’s crime problem as a national issue. But South Bend’s violent crime rates, double the Indiana and American average, run counter to national trends.Buttigieg responded by doubling down on Group Violence Intervention, a trendy community outreach strategy to gang members, which despite being widely touted by the media, doesn’t work. Gimmicks, ranging from AI to wonkery, were rolled out and the shootings, the rapes and assaults have continued.Mayor Buttigieg excels at buzzwords and gimmicks. He’s just terrible at actually running a city.That’s why property crime in South Bend is rising. It’s why the city is overrun with gangs. It’s why South Bend is poor, blighted and miserable. Violence is just one of the many symptoms of Buttigieg’s failures.South Bend’s top employers are the local schools and hospitals, and the local government. And a local casino. Unemployment and taxes are higher than average. Meanwhile the average income is below $20,000. The poverty rate is 25%. African-American poverty rates are double. Hispanic poverty rates are 10% higher than the national average. And even Asian-Americans are poorer than usual in South Bend.Buttigieg’s failed city is a tragic counterpart to Lake Wobegon where everything is below average.The media has ignored the reality in South Bend while touting Buttigieg as a rival for the hearts of Rust Belt voters. But Buttigieg hasn’t won by winning over traditional Rust Belt voters. South Bend’s white population has dropped steadily on his watch and the city is on track for majority minority status. The remaining white population is skewed toward a white lefty elite coming for its educational institutions.South Bend isn’t a typical Rust Belt city. It’s a typical blue city, divided sharply between poor minorities and a leftist elite without any of the culture or tech industries that keep New York or Los Angeles going. Its traditional population has been leaving steadily and that departure only accelerated during Buttigieg’s disastrous time in office.Much has been made of Buttigieg winning reelection by 80%. This isn’t a testament to his unique charisma. Democrats have had a lock on the mayorality in South Bend for two generations.The media cheers that Buttigieg won 80% of the vote. It neglects to mention that it was 8,515 votes. That’s about the 8,369 votes that came in during the primaries. Buttigieg raised $337,161 dollars while his Republican opponent, Kelly Jones, had raised $584 dollars. The millennial wunderkind needed $40 bucks a vote while his unknown Republican opponent managed at around a quarter a vote.Like South Bend’s poverty and crime statistics, these are figures that the media doesn’t report because it would reveal that their shiny new candidate is a hollow façade with nothing inside except spin.Mayor Buttigieg isn’t winning 80% because he’s universally beloved. That percentage isn’t a testament to his popularity, but to a political system in which hardly anybody except a few lefties bothers to vote.The truth about “Mayor Pete” is that he’s the son of a Marxist prof working in Notre Dame who used the death throes of a dying city to polish his brand and then jump into the 2020 race over dead bodies.South Bend is a human tragedy. And while Buttigieg isn’t solely responsible for his woes, he has exploited it, instead of trying to fix it, using buzzwords and gimmicks to build a national brand.That’s something he has in common with fellow failed hipster mayor and 2020 candidate, Cory Booker.But Senator Booker was at least clever enough to put a little distance between his tenure in Newark and his 2020 bid. Mayor Buttigieg is betting that the national media won’t bother looking at South Bend.So far he’s been proven right.The media keeps touting Buttigieg’s Ivy League credentials, his identity as a gay politician, and his charm. When it mentions South Bend, it’s only to claim that he “turned it around” and that he won his last election by 80%. South Bend hasn’t been turned around. Downtown has gotten a hipster revamp, while the rest of South Bend chokes on crime, violence and misery. But Buttigieg knows that the national media will never bother doing more than reporting on new bike paths and an organic grocery.The 11-month-old boy who came into the hospital with a wound in his shoulder won’t catch their eye. But as Mayor Buttigieg keeps raising money hand over fist, South Bend continues to bleed and die.And Buttigieg is hoping that he can sneak into the White House before the blood gets on his hands.Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine at the above link.Click here to subscribe to my articles. And click here to support my work with a donation.Thank you for reading.
Joe Biden Is the Front-Runner -- Over Democrats, and Donald Trump
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 11:04
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2020 Elections
8-point lead over Trump a contrast to Obama's standing at this point in 2012 cycleFormer Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in the latest Morning Consult/Politico survey. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Biden bests the president in a hypothetical matchup, 42% to 34%.
Former VP's net favorability has taken a 5-point hit since Morning Consult began tracking in late January.
As former Vice President Joe Biden prepares to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, he's doing so as the front-runner, polling ahead of both fellow Democrats and President Donald Trump.
A new Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted April 19-21 among 1,992 registered voters found Biden leading the president by 8 percentage points in a hypothetical matchup, 42 percent to 34 percent. Biden has a significant edge over Trump among women (17 points), millennials (22 points) and independents (10 points).
The national, online survey has a 2-point margin of error.
Trump's garnering roughly one-third of the vote in the early head-to-head test pales in comparison to that of the last incumbent president: At this point in the 2012 election cycle, then-President Barack Obama led Republican Mitt Romney by several points, polling consistently in the mid-to-high 40s, even after the 2010 tea party wave and backlash to the Affordable Care Act.
Along with his advantage over Trump, Biden has held a consistent lead in Morning Consult's weekly tracking among likely Democratic primary voters. Three in 10 of those voters said the Delawarean was their top pick in the latest poll, followed by 24 percent who chose Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Biden's 6-point advantage is similar to his average 7-point lead over the Democratic socialist in the 12 tracking polls.)
In the prominent states holding early nominating contests '' Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada '' Biden's lead over Sanders is currently larger, 34 percent to 26 percent, though those responses carry a larger margin of error: 5 points compared to the broader sample's 1-point.
Obama's former No. 2, set to launch his campaign Thursday, is also the second-choice candidate for supporters of several other contenders, including those backing Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.
MC/Washington: SubscribeGet the latest news, data and insights on politics, policy and government.
Compared with Sanders, the coalition of Democrats currently supporting Biden as a first choice are older, more racially diverse and more likely to identify as moderate. And despite the push from some quarters of the party for a younger, more liberal candidate, polling suggests the 76-year-old is currently winning the age and ideology debate '-- though it has yet to be fully litigated during the nominating process.
Biden's standing in polling has hardly been dented by allegations of inappropriate interactions with women that dogged him in recent weeks. But his net favorability '-- the share of voters who view him favorably minus those who don't '-- has taken a hit, dropping 5 points since Morning Consult began tracking in late January.
Three in four likely Democratic primary voters have a positive view of Biden, the same as Sanders. Fourteen percent said they had an unfavorable view of Biden in the latest tracking.
Any Collusion?
Obama Campaign Paid $972,000 To Law Firm That Paid Fusion GPS
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 13:38
Since April of 2016, Obama's campaign organization has paid nearly a million dollars to the law firm that funneled money to Fusion GPS to compile a dossier of unverified allegations against Donald Trump.
Former president Barack Obama's official campaign organization has directed nearly a million dollars to the same law firm that funneled money to Fusion GPS, the firm behind the infamous Steele dossier. Since April of 2016, Obama For America (OFA) has paid over $972,000 to Perkins Coie, records filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show.
The Washington Post reported last week that Perkins Coie, an international law firm, was directed by both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton's campaign to retain Fusion GPS in April of 2016 to dig up dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump. Fusion GPS then hired Christopher Steele, a former British spy, to compile a dossier of allegations that Trump and his campaign actively colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 election. Though many of the claims in the dossier have been directly refuted, none of the dossier's allegations of collusion have been independently verified. Lawyers for Steele admitted in court filings last April that his work was not verified and was never meant to be made public.
OFA, Obama's official campaign arm in 2016, paid nearly $800,000 to Perkins Coie in 2016 alone, according to FEC records. The first 2016 payments to Perkins Coie, classified only as ''Legal Services,'' were made April 25-26, 2016, and totaled $98,047. A second batch of payments, also classified as ''Legal Services,'' were disbursed to the law firm on September 29, 2016, and totaled exactly $700,000. Payments from OFA to Perkins Coie in 2017 totaled $174,725 through August 22, 2017.
FEC records as well as federal court records show that Marc Elias, the Perkins Coie lawyer whom the Washington Post reported was responsible for the payments to Fusion GPS on behalf of Clinton's campaign and the DNC, also previously served as a counsel for OFA. In Shamblin v. Obama for America, a 2013 case in federal court in Florida, federal court records list Elias as simultaneously serving as lead attorney for both OFA and the DNC.
OFA, which managed Obama's successful re-election campaign in 2012, retooled after that campaign to focus on enacting the president's agenda during his final term in office. The group reorganized again after the 2016 election and planned to use its staff and resources to oppose President Donald Trump. During the entire 2016 campaign cycle, the group spent only $4.5 million, according to FEC records.
Federal records show that Hillary Clinton's official campaign organization, Hillary For America, paid just under $5.1 million to Perkins Coie in 2016. The DNC paid nearly $5.4 million to the law firm in 2016.
The timing and nature of the payments to Perkins Coie by Obama's official campaign arm raise significant questions about whether OFA was funding Fusion GPS, how much Obama and his team knew about the contents and provenance of the dossier long before its contents were made public, and whether the president or his government lieutenants knowingly used a partisan political document to justify official government actions targeting the president's political opponents named in the dossier. According to the Washington Post, Fusion GPS was first retained by Perkins Coie on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in April of 2016.
At the same time that Hillary's campaign, Obama's campaign organization, and the DNC were simultaneously paying Perkins Coie, the spouse of one of Fusion GPS's key employees was working directly for Obama in the West Wing. Shailagh Murray, a former Washington Post reporter-turned-political operative, was serving as a top communications adviser to Obama while the Obama administration was reportedly using information from the dossier to justify secret surveillance of Trump campaign staff. Murray is married to Neil King, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who was hired by Fusion GPS in December of 2016. While at the Wall Street Journal, King worked alongside Fusion GPS's core team, even sharing bylines with Glenn Simpson, the Fusion GPS executive who personally hired Steele to probe Trump's alleged Russia connections.
The importance of the dossier funded by Democrats, commissioned by Fusion GPS, and compiled by Steele, is difficult to overstate given that its contents were reportedly briefed to both President Obama and then-President-Elect Trump. The dossier was eventually published in full by BuzzFeed on January 10. On January 6, then-FBI Director James Comey had briefed Trump on the allegations in Steele's dossier. Steele admitted in court filings that he had shopped much of the information in his dossier to numerous media outlets beginning in September of 2016.
Fusion GPS, which has been accused of illegally operating as an undisclosed agent of foreign governments, is currently facing multiple congressional inquiries into its activities and its clients. Bill Browder, whose attorney was allegedly murdered by Russian authorities after publicizing explosive allegations of Russian fraud and money laundering, alleged in congressional testimony last July that Fusion GPS was paid by Russians to undermine U.S. sanctions against the country. Late last week, Fusion GPS reportedly struck a deal with U.S. House investigators regarding a federal subpoena of the firm's bank records. And in September, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reportedly requested that the U.S. Treasury Department's financial crimes unit provide his committee with all suspicious activity reports related to Fusion GPS's bank transactions.
Following reports of Perkins Coie's role in funneling money to Fusion GPS, the Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan campaign finance watchdog, filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that the secret funding schemes violated federal campaign disclosure laws.
Fusion GPS is also facing a separate defamation suit in federal court related to claims in the dossier. That case, which was brought by three Russian businessmen who claim to have been libeled in the Steele dossier, was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., in early October. Fusion GPS is yet to respond to those allegations in court.
Sean Davis is the co-founder of The Federalist.
Svetlana Lokhova on Twitter: "Here is how NBC burst into my life. Context: In May 2018, Stefan Halper was exposed as a spy. I suddenly realised that I have been dragged into a massive scandal. I gave an interview to the Times of London. Then I receive thi
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 13:53
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NSA Surveillance Program: PROMIS - The Black Vault
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 21:23
BackgroundPROMIS is believed by some to be the forefunner to the now infamous ''Prism'' program by the National Security Agency (NSA). The ''Prism'' program was brought to light by leaker Edward Snowden, yet it is now coming to light, that a program has existed long before this new revelation. It was known as PROMIS.
PROMIS is also the name for a Department of Justice computer software program. In the mid-1970s, Inslaw, Inc., a small Washington D.C. software development company, created for the a highly efficient, people-tracking, computer program known as Prosecutor's Management Information System (Promis). Inslaw's principal owners, William Anthony Hamilton and his wife, Nancy Burke Hamilton, later sued the United States Government (acting as principal to the Department of Justice) for not complying with the terms of the Promis contract and for refusing to pay for an enhanced version of Promis once delivered. This allegation of software piracy led to three trials in separate federal courts and two congressional hearings.
The following article excerpt is used to best explain the program as connected to the NSA '' while the FOIA documents follow below.
PRISM's Controversial ForerunnerBy Richard L. Fricker
Long before Edward Snowden's claims or revelations that the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency were monitoring and tracking the Internet, cell phones, e-mails and any other electronic communication they could get their hands on using a program known as PRISM, there existed PROMIS [Prosecutors Management Information Systems].
PROMIS was designed in the late 1970s and '80s to bring Department of Justice criminal case management from the dark ages into the light of the computer age. In the spring of 1981, the Reagan Administration hailed PROMIS as one of law enforcements greatest assets. By 1983, PROMIS had morphed into the behemoth of intelligence gathering. It was not state of the art '' it was the art.
Over the ensuing decades PROMIS is reported to have been used by the DOJ, CIA, NSA, and several foreign intelligence agencies including Israel's Mossad. The ownership of PROMIS has been the subject of federal court hearings and a congressional investigation.
The capabilities of PROMIS as a data collection and tracking program have never been a secret. But the only discussion of PROMIS has been about theft and black-market sales. Neither the courts nor Congress have ever inquired as to privacy issues or the ethics of the program. There has been no rending of political robes as seen with the Snowden case. In fact, the function of PROMIS has been discussed in open court and various public arenas.
PROMIS is a tracking program with enhancements by Washington, DC-based Inslaw Inc., owned by Bill and Nancy Hamilton. PROMIS was developed under a Law Enforcement Assistance Administration [LEAA] grant. Bill Hamilton was employed by NSA for six years. He left the agency in 1966.
PROMIS was designed to track the vast amount of criminal cases piling up in DOJ offices across the country. Bill Hamilton, in an interview for this story, recounted, ''It was always a tracking program. It was designed to keep track of cases in local U.S. Attorneys' offices, which means street crimes, keep track of the scheduled events in court, what actually takes place, who's there, witnesses, police officers, conclusions, convictions, acquittals, whatever.''
Continue reading this article'...The FOIA DocumentsDepartment of Justice (DOJ) Report of Special Counsel Nicholas J. Bua to the Attorney General of the United States Regarding the Allegations of INSLAW, Inc., March 1993, and the 1994 DOJ Report on INSLAW/PROMIS matter, released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Information Policy (OIP) [465 Pages, 11MB] '' Special thanks to GovernmentAttic.org for this record.
National Security Agency (NSA) NSA Documents Regarding PROMIS, Released 4 October 2018 [17 Pages, 2.7MB] '' In March of 2016, see below, the NSA required a $440 payment in order to continue to process my request on PROMIS. Although I did not respond, I was surprised to receive this in October of 2018. It appears that this is only part of what the NSA has on PROMIS, and additional records are still being processed. I will add them when they are released to me.
NSA Documents Regarding PROMIS, Released 22 October 2018 [85 Pages, 8MB] '' This release includes the user's manual of the PROMIS system, various memorandums and more. One document was withheld entirely and this, according to the NSA, is now the final release of information.
ARCHIVED (Read Above) Letter regarding the NSA use of the PROMIS System [4 Pages, 1.1MB] '' The NSA did find a considerable amount of documents, however, they are requiring a payment of $440 for the release of the material.
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Snowden leaks caused US 'significant harm' - Mueller - BBC News
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 21:22
Image caption Mueller's testimony came during a flurry of hearings and news conferences in Washington on the leaks The disclosure last week of a pair of top secret surveillance programmes has caused the US "significant harm", the head of the FBI has said.
Robert Mueller also told Congress the US would hunt down and prosecute leaker Edward Snowden.
Mr Snowden, 29, has admitted disclosing information about National Security Agency (NSA) programmes that seize data from US internet and telephone firms.
US officials have promised their own disclosures about the programmes.
"We want to provide the American people the information," NSA chief Gen Keith Alexander said following a closed-door briefing to members of the House of Representatives intelligence committee.
"But we don't want to risk American lives in doing that," he added.
'Exceptionally vulnerable'Gen Alexander's remarks came amid a flurry of news conferences and hearings on Thursday as Washington grapples with the fallout from last week's disclosures in the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers.
Analysis By Paul Adams BBC News, Washington
The great 2013 national intelligence debate continues. NSA boss Keith Alexander seems anxious that it should and the president says he welcomes it, even as the Department of Justice works up its case against Edward Snowden. Senator Mark Udall put it well on Wednesday, saying it was hard to have a transparent debate "about a secret program, written by a secret court, issuing secret court orders, based on secret interpretations of the law".
In the anxious aftermath of 9/11, when the Patriot Act was drawn up - and apparently not read by very many people - security trumped openness. Since then, giant technical strides have given the NSA capabilities that lawmakers might only have guessed at a decade ago. Now Gen Alexander wants the public to know what these surveillance capabilities have done, for US and global security, as well as how much more difficult his job would be if the capabilities were taken away again.
Mr Snowden, a former CIA and NSA contract worker, has admitted giving the newspapers information about NSA programmes that seize vast quantities of data from US internet and telephone companies.
In testimony in the House judiciary committee, Mr Mueller said those leaks had caused "significant harm to our nation and to our safety".
The FBI director said the history of US intelligence gathering showed plotters adapt their methods after leaks of classified intelligence material.
"One of my problems is that we're going to... lose our ability to get their communications," Mr Mueller said. "We are going to be exceptionally vulnerable."
In a press conference after the briefing with Gen Alexander, House intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers said officials hoped to make public next week the details of terror plots supposedly thwarted by information gained from the programmes.
Mr Rogers, a Michigan Republican, said further disclosures would reassure Americans about the scope of US surveillance efforts, including phone records.
"There are no American names in that lockbox," he said. "There are only numbers in that lockbox."
'Surveillance state'He added if there were a "reasonable suspicion" that a phone number was tied to a terrorist organisation, it would be turned over to the FBI for further investigation.
Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the committee, said at least 10 attacks had been thwarted by the programmes.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Gen Alexander: "I believe our security has been jeopardised"Senators leaving a separate closed-door briefing with Gen Alexander also defended the programmes.
Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska said: "It is misunderstood that American private information, emails and phone calls are being rummaged through by the government - that is not true.
"Only when there is probable cause given with a court order of a federal judge can they go into the content of phone calls and emails in order to be able to disrupt a terrorist plot."
But despite the defence of the programmes by President Barack Obama and politicians of both parties, some remain sceptical.
Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall said they had seen no evidence NSA programmes had produced "uniquely valuable intelligence".
"Gen Alexander's testimony yesterday suggested that the NSA's bulk phone records collection programme helped thwart 'dozens' of terrorist attacks, but all of the plots that he mentioned appear to have been identified using other collection methods," the senators said in a joint statement.
In the House, Representative John Conyers, the intelligence committee's top Democrat, said he feared the US was "on the verge of becoming a surveillance state".
What could the NSA access?
PRISM (surveillance program) - Wikipedia
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 21:22
PRISM is a code name for a program under which the United States National Security Agency (NSA) collects Internet communications from various US Internet companies.[1][2][3] The program is also known by the SIGAD US-984XN .[4][5] PRISM collects stored Internet communications based on demands made to Internet companies such as Google LLC under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to turn over any data that match court-approved search terms.[6] The NSA can use these PRISM requests to target communications that were encrypted when they traveled across the Internet backbone, to focus on stored data that telecommunication filtering systems discarded earlier,[7][8] and to get data that is easier to handle, among other things.[9]
PRISM began in 2007 in the wake of the passage of the Protect America Act under the Bush Administration.[10][11] The program is operated under the supervision of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court, or FISC) pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[12] Its existence was leaked six years later by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who warned that the extent of mass data collection was far greater than the public knew and included what he characterized as "dangerous" and "criminal" activities.[13] The disclosures were published by The Guardian and The Washington Post on June 6, 2013. Subsequent documents have demonstrated a financial arrangement between the NSA's Special Source Operations division (SSO) and PRISM partners in the millions of dollars.[14]
Documents indicate that PRISM is "the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports", and it accounts for 91% of the NSA's Internet traffic acquired under FISA section 702 authority."[15][16] The leaked information came to light one day after the revelation that the FISA Court had been ordering a subsidiary of telecommunications company Verizon Communications to turn over to the NSA logs tracking all of its customers' telephone calls.[17][18]
U.S. government officials have disputed some aspects of the Guardian and Washington Post stories and have defended the program by asserting it cannot be used on domestic targets without a warrant, that it has helped to prevent acts of terrorism, and that it receives independent oversight from the federal government's executive, judicial and legislative branches.[19][20] On June 19, 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama, during a visit to Germany, stated that the NSA's data gathering practices constitute "a circumscribed, narrow system directed at us being able to protect our people."[21]
Media disclosure of PRISM [ edit ] PRISM was publicly revealed when classified documents about the program were leaked to journalists of The Washington Post and The Guardian by Edward Snowden '' at the time an NSA contractor '' during a visit to Hong Kong.[1][2] The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles.[1][2]
The documents identified several technology companies as participants in the PRISM program, including Microsoft in 2007, Yahoo! in 2008, Google in 2009, Facebook in 2009, Paltalk in 2009, YouTube in 2010, AOL in 2011, Skype in 2011 and Apple in 2012.[22] The speaker's notes in the briefing document reviewed by The Washington Post indicated that "98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft".[1]
The slide presentation stated that much of the world's electronic communications pass through the U.S., because electronic communications data tend to follow the least expensive route rather than the most physically direct route, and the bulk of the world's Internet infrastructure is based in the United States.[15] The presentation noted that these facts provide United States intelligence analysts with opportunities for intercepting the communications of foreign targets as their electronic data pass into or through the United States.[2][15]
Snowden's subsequent disclosures included statements that government agencies such as the United Kingdom's GCHQ also undertook mass interception and tracking of Internet and communications data[23] '' described by Germany as "nightmarish" if true[24] '' allegations that the NSA engaged in "dangerous" and "criminal" activity by "hacking" civilian infrastructure networks in other countries such as "universities, hospitals, and private businesses",[13] and alleged that compliance offered only very limited restrictive effect on mass data collection practices (including of Americans) since restrictions "are policy-based, not technically based, and can change at any time", adding that "Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications",[13] with numerous self-granted exceptions, and that NSA policies encourage staff to assume the benefit of the doubt in cases of uncertainty.[25][26][27]
The slides [ edit ] Below are a number of slides released by Edward Snowden showing the operation and processes behind the PRISM program. It should be noted that the "FAA" referred to is Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act ("FAA"), and not the Federal Aviation Administration, which is more widely known by the same FAA initialism.
Introduction slide.
Slide showing that much of the world's communications flow through the U.S.
Details of information collected via PRISM
Slide listing companies and the date that PRISM collection began
Slide showing PRISM's tasking process
Slide showing the PRISM collection dataflow
Slide showing PRISM case numbers
Slide showing the REPRISMFISA Web app
Slide showing some PRISM targets.
Slide fragment mentioning "upstream collection", FAA702, EO 12333, and references yahoo.com explicitly in the text.
FAA702 Operations, and map
FAA702 Operations, and map. The subheader reads "Collection only possible under FAA702 Authority". FAIRVIEW is in the center box.
FAA702 Operations, and map. The subheader reads "Collection only possible under FAA702 Authority". STORMBREW is in the center box.
Tasking, Points to Remember. Transcript of body: Whenever your targets meet FAA criteria, you should consider asking to FAA. Emergency tasking processes exist for [imminent /immediate ] threat to life situations and targets can be placed on [illegible] within hours (surveillance and stored comms). Get to know your Product line FAA adjudicators and FAA leads.
The French newspaper Le Monde disclosed new PRISM slides (See Page 4, 7 and 8) coming from the "PRISM/US-984XN Overview" presentation on October 21, 2013.[28] The British newspaper The Guardian disclosed new PRISM slides (see pages 3 and 6) in November 2013 which on the one hand compares PRISM with the Upstream program, and on the other hand deals with collaboration between the NSA's Threat Operations Center and the FBI.[29]
Wikimedia Commons keeps copies of the leaked PowerPoint slides here : Commons:Category:PRISM (surveillance program) along with other associated documents.
The program [ edit ] PRISM is a program from the Special Source Operations (SSO) division of the NSA, which in the tradition of NSA's intelligence alliances, cooperates with as many as 100 trusted U.S. companies since the 1970s.[1] A prior program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program,[30][31] was implemented in the wake of the September 11 attacks under the George W. Bush Administration but was widely criticized and challenged as illegal, because it did not include warrants obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.[31][32][33][34][35] PRISM was authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.[15]
PRISM was enabled under President Bush by the Protect America Act of 2007 and by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which immunizes private companies from legal action when they cooperate with U.S. government agencies in intelligence collection. In 2012 the act was renewed by Congress under President Obama for an additional five years, through December 2017.[2][36][37] According to The Register, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 "specifically authorizes intelligence agencies to monitor the phone, email, and other communications of U.S. citizens for up to a week without obtaining a warrant" when one of the parties is outside the U.S.[36]
The most detailed description of the PRISM program can be found in a report about NSA's collection efforts under Section 702 FAA, that was released by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) on July 2, 2014.[38]
According to this report, PRISM is only used to collect Internet communications, not telephone conversations. These Internet communications are not collected in bulk, but in a targeted way: only communications that are to or from specific selectors, like e-mail addresses, can be gathered. Under PRISM, there's no collection based upon keywords or names.[38]
The actual collection process is done by the Data Intercept Technology Unit (DITU) of the FBI, which on behalf of the NSA sends the selectors to the US Internet service providers, which were previously served with a Section 702 Directive. Under this directive, the provider is legally obliged to hand over (to DITU) all communications to or from the selectors provided by the government.[38] DITU then sends these communications to NSA, where they are stored in various databases, depending on their type.
Data, both content and metadata, that already have been collected under the PRISM program, may be searched for both US and non-US person identifiers. These kinds of queries became known as "back-door searches" and are conducted by NSA, FBI and CIA.[39] Each of these agencies has slightly different protocols and safeguards to protect searches with a US person identifier.[38]
Extent of the program [ edit ] Internal NSA presentation slides included in the various media disclosures show that the NSA could unilaterally access data and perform "extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information" with examples including email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP chats (such as Skype), file transfers, and social networking details.[2] Snowden summarized that "in general, the reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc. analyst has access to query raw SIGINT [signals intelligence] databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want."[13]
According to The Washington Post, the intelligence analysts search PRISM data using terms intended to identify suspicious communications of targets whom the analysts suspect with at least 51 percent confidence to not be U.S. citizens, but in the process, communication data of some U.S. citizens are also collected unintentionally.[1] Training materials for analysts tell them that while they should periodically report such accidental collection of non-foreign U.S. data, "it's nothing to worry about."[1][40]
According to The Guardian, NSA had access to chats and emails on Hotmail.com, Skype, because Microsoft had "developed a surveillance capability to deal" with the interception of chats, and "for Prism collection against Microsoft email services will be unaffected because Prism collects this data prior to encryption."[41][42][43]
Also according to The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald even low-level NSA analysts are allowed to search and listen to the communications of Americans and other people without court approval and supervision. Greenwald said low level Analysts can, via systems like PRISM, "listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents.[30] And it's all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst."[44]
He added that the NSA databank, with its years of collected communications, allows analysts to search that database and listen "to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you've entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future."[44] Greenwald was referring in the context of the foregoing quotes to the NSA program X-Keyscore.[45]
PRISM overview [ edit ] DesignationLegal AuthoritySee NoteKey TargetsType of Information collectedAssociated DatabasesAssociated SoftwareUS-984XNSection 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA)Known Targets include[46]VenezuelaMilitary procurementOilMexicoNarcoticsEnergyInternal SecurityPolitical AffairsColombiaTraffickingFARCThe exact type of data varies by provider:EmailChat '' video, voiceVideosStored dataVoIPFile transfersVideo ConferencingNotifications of target activity, logins, etc.Online Social Networking detailsSpecial RequestsKnown:TRAFFICTHIEFMARINAMAINWAYFALLOUTPINWALECONVEYANCENUCLEONKnown:Unified Targeting Tool
Responses to disclosures [ edit ] United States government [ edit ] Executive branch [ edit ] Shortly after publication of the reports by The Guardian and The Washington Post, the United States Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on June 7, 2013, released a statement confirming that for nearly six years the government of the United States had been using large Internet services companies such as Facebook to collect information on foreigners outside the United States as a defense against national security threats.[17] The statement read in part, "The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies."[47] He went on to say, "Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States."[47] Clapper concluded his statement by stating, "The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans."[47] On March 12, 2013, Clapper had told the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA does "not wittingly" collect any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.[48] Clapper later admitted the statement he made on March 12, 2013, was a lie,[49] or in his words "I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner by saying no."[50]
On June 7, 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama, referring to the PRISM program[citation needed ] and the NSA's telephone calls logging program, said, "What you've got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress. Bipartisan majorities have approved them. Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout."[51] He also said, "You can't have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we're going to have to make some choices as a society."[51] In separate statements, senior Obama administration officials (not mentioned by name in source) said that Congress had been briefed 13 times on the programs since 2009.[52]
On June 8, 2013, Director of National Intelligence Clapper made an additional public statement about PRISM and released a fact sheet providing further information about the program, which he described as "an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government's statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a)."[53][54] The fact sheet stated that "the surveillance activities published in The Guardian and the Washington Post are lawful and conducted under authorities widely known and discussed, and fully debated and authorized by Congress."[53] The fact sheet also stated that "the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence." It said that the attorney general provides FISA Court rulings and semi-annual reports about PRISM activities to Congress, "provid[ing] an unprecedented degree of accountability and transparency."[53] Democratic senators Udall and Wyden, who serve on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, subsequently criticized the fact sheet as being inaccurate.[clarification needed ] NSA Director General Keith Alexander acknowledged the errors, stating that the fact sheet "could have more precisely described" the requirements governing the collection of e-mail and other Internet content from US companies. The fact sheet was withdrawn from the NSA's website around June 26.[55]
In a closed-doors Senate hearing around June 11, FBI Director Robert Mueller said that Snowden's leaks had caused "significant harm to our nation and to our safety."[56] In the same Senate NSA Director Alexander defended the program.[further explanation needed ] Alexander's defense was immediately criticized by Senators Udall and Wyden, who said they saw no evidence that the NSA programs had produced "uniquely valuable intelligence." In a joint statement, they wrote, "Gen Alexander's testimony yesterday suggested that the NSA's bulk phone records collection program helped thwart 'dozens' of terrorist attacks, but all of the plots that he mentioned appear to have been identified using other collection methods."[56][57]
On June 18, NSA Director Alexander said in an open hearing before the House Intelligence Committee of Congress that communications surveillance had helped prevent more than 50 potential terrorist attacks worldwide (at least 10 of them involving terrorism suspects or targets in the United States) between 2001 and 2013, and that the PRISM web traffic surveillance program contributed in over 90 percent of those cases.[58][59][60] According to court records, one example Alexander gave regarding a thwarted attack by al Qaeda on the New York Stock Exchange was not in fact foiled by surveillance.[61] Several senators wrote Director of National Intelligence Clapper asking him to provide other examples.[62]
U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told various news outlets that by June 24 they were already seeing what they said was evidence that suspected terrorists had begun changing their communication practices in order to evade detection by the surveillance tools disclosed by Snowden.[63][64]
Legislative branch [ edit ] In contrast to their swift and forceful reactions the previous day to allegations that the government had been conducting surveillance of United States citizens' telephone records, Congressional leaders initially had little to say about the PRISM program the day after leaked information about the program was published. Several lawmakers declined to discuss PRISM, citing its top-secret classification,[65] and others said that they had not been aware of the program.[66] After statements had been released by the president and the Director of National Intelligence, some lawmakers began to comment:
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
June 9, 2013 "We passed the Patriot Act. We passed specific provisions of the act that allowed for this program to take place, to be enacted in operation."[67]Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee
June 9 "These programs are within the law," "part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe," "Human intelligence isn't going to do it."[68]June 9 "Here's the rub: the instances where this has produced good'--has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks, is all classified, that's what's so hard about this."[69]June 11 "It went fine. ... We asked him (Keith Alexander) to declassify things because it would be helpful (for people and lawmakers to better understand the intelligence programs). ... I've just got to see if the information gets declassified. I'm sure people will find it very interesting."[70]Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
June 9 "I'm going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I'm going to be asking the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit."[67]Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), member of Senate Intelligence Committee and past member of Homeland Security Committee
June 11 "I had, along with Joe Lieberman, a monthly threat briefing, but I did not have access to this highly compartmentalized information" and "How can you ask when you don't know the program exists?"[71]Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), principal sponsor of the Patriot Act
June 9, "This is well beyond what the Patriot Act allows."[72] "President Obama's claim that 'this is the most transparent administration in history' has once again proven false. In fact, it appears that no administration has ever peered more closely or intimately into the lives of innocent Americans."[72]Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), a chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
June 9 "One of the things that we're charged with is keeping America safe and keeping our civil liberties and privacy intact. I think we have done both in this particular case."[68]June 9 "Within the last few years this program was used to stop a program, excuse me, to stop a terrorist attack in the United States, we know that. It's, it's, it's important, it fills in a little seam that we have and it's used to make sure that there is not an international nexus to any terrorism event that they may believe is ongoing in the United States. So in that regard it is a very valuable thing."[73]Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)
June 9 "I don't think the American public knows the extent or knew the extent to which they were being surveilled and their data was being collected. ... I think we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security (Agency) is collecting. ... It ought to remain sacred, and there's got to be a balance here. That is what I'm aiming for. Let's have the debate, let's be transparent, let's open this up."[68]Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)
June 10 "We have no idea when they [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] meet, we have no idea what their judgments are."[74]Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
June 9 "We will be receiving secret briefings and we will be asking, I know I'm going to be asking to get more information. I want to make sure that what they're doing is harvesting information that is necessary to keep us safe and not simply going into everybody's private telephone conversations and Facebook and communications. I mean one of the, you know, the terrorists win when you debilitate freedom of expression and privacy."[73]Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
July 11 "I have a feeling that the administration is getting concerned about the bulk phone records collection, and that they are thinking about whether to move administratively to stop it. I think we are making a comeback".[75]Following these statements some lawmakers from both parties warned national security officials during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee that they must change their use of sweeping National Security Agency surveillance programs or face losing the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that have allowed for the agency's mass collection of telephone metadata.[76] "Section 215 expires at the end of 2015, and unless you realize you've got a problem, that is not going to be renewed," Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., author of the USA Patriot Act, threatened during the hearing.[76] "It's got to be changed, and you've got to change how you operate section 215. Otherwise, in two and a half years, you're not going to have it anymore."[76]
Judicial branch [ edit ] Leaks of classified documents pointed to the role of a special court in enabling the government's secret surveillance programs, but members of the court maintained they were not collaborating with the executive branch.[77]The New York Times, however, reported in July 2013 that in "more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation's surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks."[78] After Members of the U.S. Congress pressed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to release declassified versions of its secret ruling, the court dismissed those requests arguing that the decisions can't be declassified because they contain classified information.[79]Reggie Walton, the current FISA presiding judge, said in a statement: "The perception that the court is a rubber stamp is absolutely false. There is a rigorous review process of applications submitted by the executive branch, spearheaded initially by five judicial branch lawyers who are national security experts, and then by the judges, to ensure that the court's authorizations comport with what the applicable statutes authorize."[80] The accusation of being a "rubber stamp" was further rejected by Walton who wrote in a letter to Senator Patrick J. Leahy: "The annual statistics provided to Congress by the Attorney General ...'--frequently cited to in press reports as a suggestion that the Court's approval rate of application is over 99%'--reflect only the number of final applications submitted to and acted on by the Court. These statistics do not reflect the fact that many applications are altered to prior or final submission or even withheld from final submission entirely, often after an indication that a judge would not approve them."[81]
The U.S. military [ edit ] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[82] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[83] A spokesman said the military was filtering out reports and content relating to government surveillance programs to preserve "network hygiene" and prevent any classified material from appearing on unclassified parts of its computer systems.[82] Access to the Washington Post, which also published information on classified NSA surveillance programs disclosed by Edward Snowden, had not been blocked at the time the blocking of access to The Guardian was reported.[83]
Responses and involvement of other countries [ edit ] Austria [ edit ] The former head of the Austrian Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism, Gert-Ren(C) Polli, stated he knew the PRISM program under a different name and stated that surveillance activities had occurred in Austria as well. Polli had publicly stated in 2009 that he had received requests from US intelligence agencies to do things that would be in violation of Austrian law, which Polli refused to allow.[84][85]
Australia [ edit ] The Australian government has said it will investigate the impact of the PRISM program and the use of the Pine Gap surveillance facility on the privacy of Australian citizens.[86] Australia's former foreign minister Bob Carr said that Australians shouldn't be concerned about PRISM but that cybersecurity is high on the government's list of concerns.[87] The Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop stated that the acts of Edward Snowden were treachery and offered a staunch defence of her nation's intelligence co-operation with the United States.[88]
Brazil [ edit ] Brazil's president at the time, Dilma Rousseff, responded to Snowden's reports that the NSA spied on her phone calls and emails by cancelling a planned October 2013 state visit to the United States, demanding an official apology, which by October 20, 2013, hadn't come.[89] Also, Rousseff classified the spying as unacceptable between more harsh words in a speech before the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2013.[90] As a result, Boeing lost out on a US$4.5 billion contract for fighter jets to Sweden's Saab Group.[91]
Canada [ edit ] CSE headquarters in Ottawa
Canada's national cryptologic agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), said that commenting on PRISM "would undermine CSE's ability to carry out its mandate." Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart lamented Canada's standards when it comes to protecting personal online privacy stating "We have fallen too far behind" in her report. "While other nations' data protection authorities have the legal power to make binding orders, levy hefty fines and take meaningful action in the event of serious data breaches, we are restricted to a 'soft' approach: persuasion, encouragement and, at the most, the potential to publish the names of transgressors in the public interest." And, "when push comes to shove," Stoddart wrote, "short of a costly and time-consuming court battle, we have no power to enforce our recommendations."[92][93]
European Union [ edit ] On 20 October 2013 a committee at the European Parliament backed a measure that, if it is enacted, would require American companies to seek clearance from European officials before complying with United States warrants seeking private data. The legislation has been under consideration for two years. The vote is part of efforts in Europe to shield citizens from online surveillance in the wake of revelations about a far-reaching spying program by the U.S. National Security Agency.[94] Germany and France have also had ongoing mutual talks about how they can keep European email traffic from going across American servers.[95]
France [ edit ] On October 21, 2013, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, summoned the U.S. Ambassador, Charles Rivkin, to the Quai d'Orsay in Paris to protest large-scale spying on French citizens by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Paris prosecutors had opened preliminary inquiries into the NSA program in July, but Fabius said, "... obviously we need to go further" and "we must quickly assure that these practices aren't repeated."[96]
Germany [ edit ] Germany did not receive any raw PRISM data, according to a Reuters report.[97]German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "the Internet is new to all of us" to explain the nature of the program; Matthew Schofield of McClatchy Washington Bureau said, "She was roundly mocked for that statement."[98] Gert-Ren(C) Polli, a former Austrian counter-terrorism official, said in 2013 that it is "absurd and unnatural" for the German authorities to pretend not to have known anything.[84][85] The German Army was using PRISM to support its operations in Afghanistan as early as 2011.[99]
In October 2013, it was reported that the NSA monitored Merkel's cell phone.[100] The United States denied the report, but following the allegations, Merkel called President Obama and told him that spying on friends was "never acceptable, no matter in what situation."[101]
Israel [ edit ] Israeli newspaper Calcalist discussed[102] the Business Insider article[103] about the possible involvement of technologies from two secretive Israeli companies in the PRISM program'--Verint Systems and Narus.
Mexico [ edit ] After finding out about the PRISM program, the Mexican Government has started constructing its own spying program to spy on its own citizens. According to Jenaro Villamil, a writer from Proceso, CISEN, Mexico's intelligence agency has started to work with IBM and Hewlett Packard to develop its own data gathering software. "Facebook, Twitter, Emails and other social network sites are going to be priority."[104]
New Zealand [ edit ] In New Zealand, University of Otago information science Associate Professor Hank Wolfe said that "under what was unofficially known as the Five Eyes Alliance, New Zealand and other governments, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and Britain, dealt with internal spying by saying they didn't do it. But they have all the partners doing it for them and then they share all the information."[105]
Edward Snowden, in a live streamed Google Hangout to Kim Dotcom and Julian Assange, alleged that he had received intelligence from New Zealand, and the NSA has listening posts in New Zealand.[106]
Spain [ edit ] At a meeting of European Union leaders held the week of 21 October 2013, Mariano Rajoy, Spain's prime minister, said that "spying activities aren't proper among partner countries and allies". On 28 October 2013 the Spanish government summoned the American ambassador, James Costos, to address allegations that the U.S. had collected data on 60 million telephone calls in Spain. Separately, ±igo M(C)ndez de Vigo, a Spanish secretary of state, referred to the need to maintain "a necessary balance" between security and privacy concerns, but said that the recent allegations of spying, "if proven to be true, are improper and unacceptable between partners and friendly countries".[107]
United Kingdom [ edit ] In the United Kingdom, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which also has its own surveillance program, Tempora, had access to the PRISM program on or before June 2010 and wrote 197 reports with it in 2012 alone. The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament reviewed the reports GCHQ produced on the basis of intelligence sought from the US. They found in each case a warrant for interception was in place in accordance with the legal safeguards contained in UK law.[108]
In August 2013, The Guardian newspaper's offices were visited by agents from GCHQ, who ordered and supervised the destruction of the hard drives containing information acquired from Snowden.[109]
Companies [ edit ] The original Washington Post and Guardian articles reporting on PRISM noted that one of the leaked briefing documents said PRISM involves collection of data "directly from the servers" of several major Internet services providers.[1][2]
Initial public statements [ edit ] Corporate executives of several companies identified in the leaked documents told The Guardian that they had no knowledge of the PRISM program in particular and also denied making information available to the government on the scale alleged by news reports.[2][110] Statements of several of the companies named in the leaked documents were reported by TechCrunch and The Washington Post as follows:[111][112]
Microsoft: "We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data, we don't participate in it."[111][113]Yahoo!: "Yahoo! takes users' privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network."[111] "Of the hundreds of millions of users we serve, an infinitesimal percentage will ever be the subject of a government data collection directive."[112]Facebook: "We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law."[111]Google: "Google cares deeply about our security data. We disclose user data to government, and we comply all such requests. From time to time, people find out that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a backdoor for the government to access private user data."[111] "[A]ny suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users' Internet activity on such a scale is completely untrue."[112]Apple: "We have never heard of PRISM"[114] "We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order."[114]Dropbox: "We've seen reports that Dropbox might be asked to participate in a government program called PRISM. We are not part of any such program and remain committed to protecting our users' privacy."[111]In response to the technology companies' confirmation of the NSA being able to directly access the companies' servers, The New York Times reported that sources had stated the NSA was gathering the surveillance data from the companies using other technical means in response to court orders for specific sets of data.[17]The Washington Post suggested, "It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing 'collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,' rather than directly to company servers."[1] "[I]n context, 'direct' is more likely to mean that the NSA is receiving data sent to them deliberately by the tech companies, as opposed to intercepting communications as they're transmitted to some other destination.[112]
"If these companies received an order under the FISA amendments act, they are forbidden by law from disclosing having received the order and disclosing any information about the order at all," Mark Rumold, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News.[115]
On May 28, 2013, Google was ordered by United States District Court Judge Susan Illston to comply with a National Security Letter issued by the FBI to provide user data without a warrant.[116] Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an interview with VentureBeat said, "I certainly appreciate that Google put out a transparency report, but it appears that the transparency didn't include this. I wouldn't be surprised if they were subject to a gag order."[117]
The New York Times reported on June 7, 2013, that "Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations."[118] The other companies held discussions with national security personnel on how to make data available more efficiently and securely.[118] In some cases, these companies made modifications to their systems in support of the intelligence collection effort.[118] The dialogues have continued in recent months, as General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met with executives including those at Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Intel.[118] These details on the discussions provide insight into the disparity between initial descriptions of the government program including a training slide which states, "Collection directly from the servers"[119] and the companies' denials.[118]
While providing data in response to a legitimate FISA request approved by the FISA Court is a legal requirement, modifying systems to make it easier for the government to collect the data is not. This is why Twitter could legally decline to provide an enhanced mechanism for data transmission.[118] Other than Twitter, the companies were effectively asked to construct a locked mailbox and provide the key to the government, people briefed on the negotiations said.[118] Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information.[118] Google does not provide a lockbox system, but instead transmits required data by hand delivery or ssh.[120]
Post-PRISM transparency reports [ edit ] In response to the publicity surrounding media reports of data-sharing, several companies requested permission to reveal more public information about the nature and scope of information provided in response to National Security requests.
On June 14, 2013, Facebook reported that the U.S. government had authorized the communication of "about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range." In a press release posted to its web site, the company reported, "For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) '' was between 9,000 and 10,000." The company further reported that the requests impacted "between 18,000 and 19,000" user accounts, a "tiny fraction of one percent" of more than 1.1 billion active user accounts.[121]
That same day, Microsoft reported that for the same period, it received "between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal)" which impacted "a tiny fraction of Microsoft's global customer base."[122]
Google issued a statement criticizing the requirement that data be reported in aggregated form, stating that lumping national security requests with criminal request data would be "a step backwards" from its previous, more detailed practices on its website's transparency report. The company said that it would continue to seek government permission to publish the number and extent of FISA requests.[123]
Cisco Systems saw a huge drop in export sales because of fears that the National Security Agency could be using backdoors in its products.[124]
On September 12, 2014, Yahoo! reported the U.S. Government threatened the imposition of $250,000 in fines per day if Yahoo didn't hand over user data as part of the NSA's PRISM program.[125] It is not known if other companies were threatened or fined for not providing data in response to a legitimate FISA requests.
Public and media response [ edit ] Domestic [ edit ] The New York Times editorial board charged that the Obama administration "has now lost all credibility on this issue,"[126] and lamented that "for years, members of Congress ignored evidence that domestic intelligence-gathering had grown beyond their control, and, even now, few seem disturbed to learn that every detail about the public's calling and texting habits now reside in a N.S.A. database."[127] It wrote with respect to the FISA-Court in context of PRISM that it is "a perversion of the American justice system" when "judicial secrecy is coupled with a one-sided presentation of the issues."[128] According to the New York Times, "the result is a court whose reach is expanding far beyond its original mandate and without any substantive check."[128]
James Robertson, a former federal district judge based in Washington who served on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for three years between 2002 and 2005 and who ruled against the Bush administration in the landmark Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, said FISA court is independent but flawed because only the government's side is represented effectively in its deliberations. "Anyone who has been a judge will tell you a judge needs to hear both sides of a case," said James Robertson.[129] Without this judges do not benefit from adversarial debate. He suggested creating an advocate with security clearance who would argue against government filings.[130] Robertson questioned whether the secret FISA court should provide overall legal approval for the surveillance programs, saying the court "has turned into something like an administrative agency." Under the changes brought by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008, which expanded the US government's authority by forcing the court to approve entire surveillance systems and not just surveillance warrants as it previously handled, "the court is now approving programmatic surveillance. I don't think that is a judicial function."[129] Robertson also said he was "frankly stunned" by the New York Times report[78] that FISA court rulings had created a new body of law broadening the ability of the NSA to use its surveillance programs to target not only terrorists but suspects in cases involving espionage, cyberattacks and weapons of mass destruction.[129]
Former CIA analyst Valerie Plame Wilson and former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson, writing in an op-ed article published in The Guardian, said that "Prism and other NSA data-mining programs might indeed be very effective in hunting and capturing actual terrorists, but we don't have enough information as a society to make that decision."[131]
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profit digital-rights group based in the U.S., is hosting a tool, by which an American resident can write to their government representatives regarding their opposition to mass spying.[132]
The Obama administration's argument that NSA surveillance programs such as PRISM and Boundless Informant had been necessary to prevent acts of terrorism was challenged by several parties. Ed Pilkington and Nicholas Watt of The Guardian said of the case of Najibullah Zazi, who had planned to bomb the New York City Subway, that interviews with involved parties and U.S. and British court documents indicated that the investigation into the case had actually been initiated in response to "conventional" surveillance methods such as "old-fashioned tip-offs" of the British intelligence services, rather than to leads produced by NSA surveillance.[133] Michael Daly of The Daily Beast stated that even though Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who conducted the Boston Marathon bombing with his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, had visited the Al Qaeda-affiliated Inspire magazine website, and even though Russian intelligence officials had raised concerns with U.S. intelligence officials about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, PRISM did not prevent him from carrying out the Boston attacks. Daly observed that, "The problem is not just what the National Security Agency is gathering at the risk of our privacy but what it is apparently unable to monitor at the risk of our safety."[134]
Ron Paul, a former Republican member of Congress and prominent libertarian, thanked Snowden and Greenwald and denounced the mass surveillance as unhelpful and damaging, urging instead more transparency in U.S. government actions.[135] He called Congress "derelict in giving that much power to the government," and said that had he been elected president, he would have ordered searches only when there was probable cause of a crime having been committed, which he said was not how the PRISM program was being operated.[136]
New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman defended limited government surveillance programs intended to protect the American people from terrorist acts:
Yes, I worry about potential government abuse of privacy from a program designed to prevent another 9/11'--abuse that, so far, does not appear to have happened. But I worry even more about another 9/11. ... If there were another 9/11, I fear that 99 percent of Americans would tell their members of Congress: "Do whatever you need to do to, privacy be damned, just make sure this does not happen again." That is what I fear most.That is why I'll reluctantly, very reluctantly, trade off the government using data mining to look for suspicious patterns in phone numbers called and e-mail addresses'--and then have to go to a judge to get a warrant to actually look at the content under guidelines set by Congress'--to prevent a day where, out of fear, we give government a license to look at anyone, any e-mail, any phone call, anywhere, anytime.[137]
Political commentator David Brooks similarly cautioned that government data surveillance programs are a necessary evil: "if you don't have mass data sweeps, well, then these agencies are going to want to go back to the old-fashioned eavesdropping, which is a lot more intrusive."[138]
Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer worried less about the legality of PRISM and other NSA surveillance tools than about the potential for their abuse without more stringent oversight. "The problem here is not constitutionality. ... We need a toughening of both congressional oversight and judicial review, perhaps even some independent outside scrutiny. Plus periodic legislative revision'--say, reauthorization every couple of years'--in light of the efficacy of the safeguards and the nature of the external threat. The object is not to abolish these vital programs. It's to fix them."[139]
In a blog post, David Simon, the creator of The Wire, compared the NSA's programs, including PRISM, to a 1980s effort by the City of Baltimore to add dialed number recorders to all pay phones to know which individuals were being called by the callers;[140] the city believed that drug traffickers were using pay phones and pagers, and a municipal judge allowed the city to place the recorders. The placement of the dialers formed the basis of the show's first season. Simon argued that the media attention regarding the NSA programs is a "faux scandal."[140][141] Simon had stated that many classes of people in American society had already faced constant government surveillance.
Political activist, and frequent critic of U.S. government policies, Noam Chomsky argued, "Governments should not have this capacity. But governments will use whatever technology is available to them to combat their primary enemy '' which is their own population."[142]
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted June 11 through 13 found that 66% of Americans generally supported the program.[143][144][Notes 1] However, a Quinnipiac University poll conducted June 28 through July 8 found that 45% of registered voters think the surveillance programs have gone too far, with 40% saying they do not go far enough, compared to 25% saying they had gone too far and 63% saying not far enough in 2010.[145] Other polls have shown similar shifts in public opinion as revelations about the programs were leaked.[146][147]
In terms of economic impact, a study released in August by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation[148] found that the disclosure of PRISM could cost the U.S. economy between $21.5 and $35 billion in lost cloud computing business over three years.[149][150][151][152]
International [ edit ] Sentiment around the world was that of general displeasure upon learning the extent of world communication data mining. Some national leaders spoke against the NSA and some spoke against their own national surveillance. One national minister had scathing comments on the National Security Agency's data-mining program, citing Benjamin Franklin: "The more a society monitors, controls, and observes its citizens, the less free it is."[153] Some question if the costs of hunting terrorists now overshadows the loss of citizen privacy.[154][155]
Nick Xenophon, an Australian independent senator, asked Bob Carr, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, if e-mail addresses of Australian parliamentarians were exempt from PRISM, Mainway, Marina, and/or Nucleon. After Carr replied that there was a legal framework to protect Australians but that the government would not comment on intelligence matters, Xenophon argued that this was not a specific answer to his question.[156]
Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said, "We knew about their past efforts to trace our system. We have used our technical resources to foil their efforts and have been able to stop them from succeeding so far."[157][158] However CNN has reported that terrorist groups have changed their "communications behaviors" in response to the leaks.[63]
In 2013 the Cloud Security Alliance surveyed cloud computing stakeholders about their reactions to the US PRISM spying scandal. About 10% of non-US residents indicated that they had cancelled a project with a US-based cloud computing provider, in the wake of PRISM; 56% said that they would be less likely to use a US-based cloud computing service. The Alliance predicted that US cloud computing providers might lose as much as '‚¬26 billion and 20% of its share of cloud services in foreign markets because of the PRISM spying scandal.[159]
China [ edit ] Hong Kong rally to support Snowden, June 15, 2013
Reactions of Internet users in China were mixed between viewing a loss of freedom worldwide and seeing state surveillance coming out of secrecy. The story broke just before U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in California.[160][161] When asked about NSA hacking China, the spokeswoman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China said, "China strongly advocates cybersecurity."[162] The party-owned newspaper Liberation Daily described this surveillance like Nineteen Eighty-Four-style.[163] Hong Kong legislators Gary Fan and Claudia Mo wrote a letter to Obama stating, "the revelations of blanket surveillance of global communications by the world's leading democracy have damaged the image of the U.S. among freedom-loving peoples around the world."[164]Ai Weiwei, a Chinese dissident, said, "Even though we know governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information about the US surveillance operation, Prism. To me, it's abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals' privacy. This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights."[165]
Europe [ edit ] Sophie in 't Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, called PRISM "a violation of EU laws."[166]
The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Peter Schaar, condemned the program as "monstrous."[167] He further added that White House claims do "not reassure me at all" and that "given the large number of German users of Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft services, I expect the German government ... is committed to clarification and limitation of surveillance." Steffen Seibert, press secretary of the Chancellor's office, announced that Angela Merkel will put these issues on the agenda of the talks with Barack Obama during his pending visit in Berlin.[168] Wolfgang Schmidt, a former lieutenant colonel with the Stasi, said that the Stasi would have seen such a program as a "dream come true" since the Stasi lacked the technology that made PRISM possible.[169] Schmidt expressed opposition, saying, "It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won't be used. This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people's privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place."[98] Many Germans organized protests, including one at Checkpoint Charlie, when Obama went to Berlin to speak. Matthew Schofield of the McClatchy Washington Bureau said, "Germans are dismayed at Obama's role in allowing the collection of so much information."[98]
The Italian president of the Guarantor for the protection of personal data, Antonello Soro, said that the surveillance dragnet "would not be legal in Italy" and would be "contrary to the principles of our legislation and would represent a very serious violation."[170]
CNIL (French data protection watchdog) intimates Google to change its privacy policies within three months or it'll risk fines up to 150,000 euros. Spanish Agency of data protection (AEPD) is planning to fine Google between 40k and 300k euros, if it fails to clear about the past usage of the massive data of the Spanish users.[171]
William Hague, the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, dismissed accusations that British security agencies had been circumventing British law by using information gathered on British citizens by PRISM[172] saying, "Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards."[172]David Cameron said Britain's spy agencies that received data collected from PRISM acted within the law: "I'm satisfied that we have intelligence agencies that do a fantastically important job for this country to keep us safe, and they operate within the law."[172][173]Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman of parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, said that if the British intelligence agencies were seeking to know the content of emails about people living in the UK, then they actually have to get lawful authority.[173] The UK's Information Commissioner's Office was more cautious, saying it would investigate PRISM alongside other European data agencies: "There are real issues about the extent to which U.S. law agencies can access personal data of UK and other European citizens. Aspects of U.S. law under which companies can be compelled to provide information to U.S. agencies potentially conflict with European data protection law, including the UK's own Data Protection Act. The ICO has raised this with its European counterparts, and the issue is being considered by the European Commission, who are in discussions with the U.S. Government."[166]
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, accused western governments of practicing hypocrisy,[174] as they conducted spying on the Internet while they criticized other countries for spying on the Internet.[175] Berners-Lee stated that Internet spying can make people feel reluctant to access intimate details or use the Internet in a certain way, and as paraphrased by Steve Robson of the Daily Mail, he said that the Internet "should be protected from being controlled by governments or large corporations."[174]
India [ edit ] Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid defended the PRISM program saying, "This is not scrutiny and access to actual messages. It is only computer analysis of patterns of calls and emails that are being sent. It is not actually snooping specifically on content of anybody's message or conversation. Some of the information they got out of their scrutiny, they were able to use it to prevent serious terrorist attacks in several countries."[176] His comments contradicted his Foreign Ministry's characterization of violations of privacy as "unacceptable."[177][178] When Minister of Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal was asked about Khurshid's comments, he refused to comment on them directly, but said, "We do not know the nature of data or information sought [as part of PRISM]. Even the external ministry does not have any idea."[179] The media felt that Khurshid's defence of PRISM was because the India government was rolling out the Central Monitoring System (CMS), which is similar to the PRISM program.[180][181][182]
Khurshid's comments were criticized by the Indian media,[183][184] as well as opposition party CPI(M) who stated, "The UPA government should have strongly protested against such surveillance and bugging. Instead, it is shocking that Khurshid has sought to justify it. This shameful remark has come at a time when even the close allies of the US like Germany and France have protested against the snooping on their countries."[185]
Rajya Sabha MP P. Rajeev told The Times of India that "The act of the USA is a clear violation of Vienna convention on diplomatic relations. But Khurshid is trying to justify it. And the speed of the government of India to reject the asylum application of Edward Snowden is shameful."[186]
Legal aspects [ edit ] Applicable law and practice [ edit ] On June 8, 2013, the Director of National Intelligence issued a fact sheet stating that PRISM "is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program," but rather "an internal government computer system" used to facilitate the collection of foreign intelligence information "under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a)."[53] Section 702 provides that "the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence may authorize jointly, for a period of up to 1 year from the effective date of the authorization, the targeting of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information."[187] In order to authorize the targeting, the attorney general and Director of National Intelligence need to obtain an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) pursuant to Section 702 or certify that "intelligence important to the national security of the United States may be lost or not timely acquired and time does not permit the issuance of an order."[187] When requesting an order, the attorney general and Director of National Intelligence must certify to the FISA Court that "a significant purpose of the acquisition is to obtain foreign intelligence information."[187] They do not need to specify which facilities or property will be targeted.[187]
After receiving a FISA Court order or determining that there are emergency circumstances, the attorney general and Director of National Intelligence can direct an electronic communication service provider to give them access to information or facilities to carry out the targeting and keep the targeting secret.[187] The provider then has the option to: (1) comply with the directive; (2) reject it; or (3) challenge it with the FISA Court. If the provider complies with the directive, it is released from liability to its users for providing the information and is reimbursed for the cost of providing it,[187] while if the provider rejects the directive, the attorney general may request an order from the FISA Court to enforce it.[187] A provider that fails to comply with the FISA Court's order can be punished with contempt of court.[187]
Finally, a provider can petition the FISA Court to reject the directive.[187] In case the FISA Court denies the petition and orders the provider to comply with the directive, the provider risks contempt of court if it refuses to comply with the FISA Court's order.[187] The provider can appeal the FISA Court's denial to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review and then appeal the Court of Review's decision to the Supreme Court by a writ of certiorari for review under seal.[187]
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the FISA Courts had been put in place to oversee intelligence operations in the period after the death of J. Edgar Hoover. Beverly Gage of Slate said, "When they were created, these new mechanisms were supposed to stop the kinds of abuses that men like Hoover had engineered. Instead, it now looks as if they have come to function as rubber stamps for the expansive ambitions of the intelligence community. J. Edgar Hoover no longer rules Washington, but it turns out we didn't need him anyway."[188]
Litigation [ edit ] June 11, 2013American Civil Liberties UnionLawsuit filed against the NSA citing that the "Mass Call Tracking Program" (as the case terms PRISM) "violates Americans' constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy" and constitutes "dragnet" surveillance, in violation of the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution, and thereby also "exceeds the authority granted by 50 U.S.C. § 1861, and thereby violates 5 U.S.C. § 706."[189] The case was joined by Yale Law School, on behalf of its Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic.[190]June 11, 2013FreedomWatch USAClass action lawsuit against government bodies and officials believed responsible for PRISM, and 12 companies (including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Skype and their chief executives) who have been disclosed as providing or making available mass information about their users' communications and data to the NSA under the PRISM program or related programs. The case cites the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, as well as breach of 18 U.S.C. §§2702 (disclosure of communications records), and asks the court to rule that the program operates outside its legal authority (s.215 of the Patriot Act). The class includes the plaintiffs and[191]"other American citizens who, in addition to being members of the Nationwide Class, had their telephone calls and/or emails and/or any other communications made or received through Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL, Sprint, AT&T, Apple, Microsoft and/or PalTalk actually recorded and/or listened into by or on behalf of [the] Defendants."In November 2017, the district court dismissed the case.
February 18, 2014Rand Paul and Freedom Works, Inc.Lawsuit filed against President Barack Obama, James R. Clapper, as Director of National Intelligence, Keith B. Alexander, as director of the NSA, James B. Comey, as director of the FBI, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The case contends that the Defendants are violating the Fourth Amendment of the United States by collecting phone metadata. The case is currently stayed pending the outcome of the government's appeal in the Klayman case.June 2, 2014Elliott J. SchuchardtLawsuit filed against President Barack Obama, James R. Clapper, as Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Michael R. Rogers, as director of the NSA, James B. Comey, as director of the FBI, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The case contends that the Defendants are violating the Fourth Amendment of the United States by collecting the full content of e-mail in the United States. The complaint asks the Court to find the Defendants' program unconstitutional, and seeks an injunction. The court is currently considering the government's motion to dismiss this case.Analysis of legal issues [ edit ] Laura Donohue, a law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and its Center on National Security and the Law, has called PRISM and other NSA mass surveillance programs unconstitutional.[192]
Woodrow Hartzog, an affiliate at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society commented that "[The ACLU will] likely have to demonstrate legitimate First Amendment harms (such as chilling effects) or Fourth Amendment harms (perhaps a violation of a reasonable expectation of privacy) ... Is it a harm to merely know with certainty that you are being monitored by the government? There's certainly an argument that it is. People under surveillance act differently, experience a loss of autonomy, are less likely to engage in self exploration and reflection, and are less willing to engage in core expressive political activities such as dissenting speech and government criticism. Such interests are what First and Fourth Amendment seek to protect."[193]
Legality of the FISA Amendments Act [ edit ] The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) Section 702 is referenced in PRISM documents detailing the electronic interception, capture and analysis of metadata. Many reports and letters of concern written by members of Congress suggest that this section of FAA in particular is legally and constitutionally problematic, such as by targeting U.S. persons, insofar as "Collections occur in U.S." as published documents indicate.[194][195][196][197]
The ACLU has asserted the following regarding the FAA: "Regardless of abuses, the problem with the FAA is more fundamental: the statute itself is unconstitutional."[198]
Senator Rand Paul is introducing new legislation called the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013 to stop the NSA or other agencies of the United States government from violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution using technology and big data information systems like PRISM and Boundless Informant.[199][200]
Programs sharing the name PRISM [ edit ] Besides the information collection program started in 2007, there are two other programs sharing the name PRISM:[201]
The Planning tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization and Management (PRISM), a web tool used by US military intelligence to send tasks and instructions to data collection platforms deployed to military operations.[202]The Portal for Real-time Information Sharing and Management (PRISM), whose existence was revealed by the NSA in July 2013.[201] This is an internal NSA program for real-time sharing of information which is apparently located in the NSA's Information Assurance Directorate.[201] The NSA's Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) is a very secretive division which is responsible for safeguarding U.S. government and military secrets by implementing sophisticated encryption techniques.[201] [ edit ] Parallel programs, known collectively as SIGADs gather data and metadata from other sources, each SIGAD has a set of defined sources, targets, types of data collected, legal authorities, and software associated with it. Some SIGADs have the same name as the umbrella under which they sit, BLARNEY's (the SIGAD) summary, set down in the slides alongside a cartoon insignia of a shamrock and a leprechaun hat, describes it as "an ongoing collection program that leverages IC [intelligence community] and commercial partnerships to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence obtained from global networks."
Some SIGADs, like PRISM, collect data at the ISP level, but others take it from the top-level infrastructure. This type of collection is known as "upstream". Upstream collection includes programs known by the blanket terms BLARNEY, FAIRVIEW, OAKSTAR and STORMBREW, under each of these are individual SIGADs. Data that is integrated into a SIGAD can be gathered in other ways besides upstream, and from the service providers, for instance it can be collected from passive sensors around embassies, or even stolen from an individual computer network in a hacking attack.[203][204][205][206][207]Not all SIGADs involve upstream collection, for instance, data could be taken directly from a service provider, either by agreement (as is the case with PRISM), by means of hacking, or other ways.[208][209][210]
Idea behind the
MUSCULAR program, which gave direct access to Google and Yahoo private clouds, no warrants needed
According to the Washington Post, the much less known MUSCULAR program, which directly taps the unencrypted data inside the Google and Yahoo private clouds, collects more than twice as many data points compared to PRISM.[211] Because the Google and Yahoo clouds span the globe, and because the tap was done outside of the United States, unlike PRISM, the MUSCULAR program requires no (FISA or other type of) warrants.[212]
See also [ edit ] Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a U.S. wiretapping law passed in 1994.ECHELON, a signals intelligence collection and analysis network operated on behalf of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.Economic espionageCentral Monitoring SystemFourth Amendment to the United States ConstitutionINDECT, European Union automatic threat detection research project.Information Awareness Office, a defunct DARPA project.Law Enforcement Information ExchangeLawful interceptionMass surveillanceMuscular (surveillance program)NSA call database, contains call detail information for hundreds of billions of telephone calls made through the largest U.S. telephone carriers.Signals intelligenceDRDO NETRASORM, Russian telephone and Internet surveillance project.SurveillanceTargeted surveillanceTempora, the data-gathering project run by the British GCHQTURBINE (US government project)Utah Data Center, a data storage facility supporting the U.S. Intelligence Community.Notes [ edit ] ^ The precise question was: [F]or the past few years the Obama administration has reportedly been gathering and analyzing information from major Internet companies about audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails and documents involving people in other countries in an attempt to locate suspected terrorists. The government reportedly does not target Internet usage by US citizens and if such data is collected, it is kept under strict controls. Do you think the Obama administration was right or wrong in gathering and analyzing that Internet data? References [ edit ] ^ a b c d e f g h i Gellman, Barton; Poitras, Laura (June 6, 2013). "US Intelligence Mining Data from Nine U.S. Internet Companies in Broad Secret Program". The Washington Post . Retrieved June 15, 2013 . CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) ^ a b c d e f g h Greenwald, Glenn; MacAskill, Ewen (June 6, 2013). "NSA Taps in to Internet Giants' Systems to Mine User Data, Secret Files Reveal '' Top-Secret Prism Program Claims Direct Access to Servers of Firms Including Google, Apple and Facebook '' Companies Deny Any Knowledge of Program in Operation Since 2007 '' Obama Orders US to Draw Up Overseas Target List for Cyber-Attacks". The Guardian . Retrieved June 15, 2013 . 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Der Spiegel (in German). July 17, 2013 . Retrieved July 18, 2013 . ^ Jackson, David (October 23, 2013). "Obama says NSA not spying on Merkel's cellphone". USA Today . Retrieved October 24, 2013 . ^ Smith-Spark, Laura (October 24, 2013). "Merkel calls Obama: Spying on friends 'never acceptable ' ". CNN . Retrieved October 24, 2013 . ^ Sadan, Nitzan (June 8, 2013). "Report: 'Big Brother' of the U.S. Government Relies on Israeli Technology" (Google English translation of Hebrew article). Calcalist. Retrieved June 10, 2013. ^ Kelley, Michael (June 7, 2013). "Did You Know?: Two Secretive Israeli Companies Reportedly Bugged the US Telecommunications Grid for the NSA". Business Insider. Retrieved June 10, 2013. ^ Villamil, Jenaro (June 18, 2013)."Big Brother y CISEN millionario negocio en puerta." proceso.com.mx. Retrieved February 19, 2014. ^ McCorkindale, Wilma (June 11, 2013). "Expert Says Kiwis under Constant Surveillance". Stuff.co.nz. 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Obama Administration Says NSA Data Helped Make Arrests in Two Important Cases '' But Critics Say That Simply Isn't True ^ Daly, Michael (June 12, 2013). "NSA Surveillance Program Failed to Invade Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Privacy". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 14, 2013. ^ Weiner, Rachel (June 10, 2013). "Ron Paul Praises Edward Snowden". Post Politics (blog of The Washington Post) . Retrieved June 16, 2013 . "We should be thankful for individuals like Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald who see injustice being carried out by their own government and speak out, despite the risk. ... They have done a great service to the American people by exposing the truth about what our government is doing in secret." "The government does not need to know more about what we are doing. ... We need to know more about what the government is doing." ^ "Ron Paul says Congress has been 'derelict in giving so much power to this government' as it's revealed NSA whistleblower gave cash to his campaign". Daily Mail. June 10, 2013 . Retrieved July 17, 2013 . Edward Snowden, the NSA Leaker, Gave $500 to Paul's 2012 Campaign '' Paul Snarks that PATRIOT Act Author Jim Sensenbrenner's Outrage Is 'Not Coming from a Deeply Principled Viewpoint' '' Says a President Paul Would Have Stopped the Entire NSA PRISM Program, Scrapped Giant Data Storage Facility under Construction in Utah ^ Friedman, Thomas L. (June 11, 2013). "Blowing a whistle". New York Times. ^ "Shields and Brooks on Syria, Snowden and surveillance". PBS NewsHour. June 14, 2013. ^ Krauthammer, Charles (June 13, 2013). "Pushing the envelope, NSA-style". Washington Post. ^ a b Duncan, Ian (June 8, 2013). "David Simon Weighs In on NSA Surveillance '' Creator of 'The Wire' Describes 1980s Data Collection by Baltimore Police in Blog Post". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved June 16, 2013. ^ "We Are Shocked, Shocked..." (Archive) David Simon Blog. June 7, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2013. ^ Harvey, Fiona (June 19, 2013). "NSA Surveillance Is an Attack on American Citizens, Says Noam Chomsky '' Governments Will Use Whatever Technology Is Available to Combat Their Primary Enemy '' Their Own Population, Says Critic". The Guardian. Retrieved June 20, 2013. ^ LoGiurato, Brett (June 17, 2013). "The NSA's PRISM Program Is Shockingly Uncontroversial with the American Public". Business Insider. Retrieved July 1, 2013. ^ "CNN/ORC Poll for release June 17, 2013" (PDF) . Retrieved July 6, 2013 . ^ "U.S. Voters Say Snowden Is Whistle-Blower, Not Traitor, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Big Shift On Civil Liberties vs. Counter-Terrorism". Quinnipiac University. July 10, 2013 . Retrieved July 13, 2012 . ^ "Terrorism". PollingReport.com . Retrieved July 13, 2013 . ^ Cohen, Jon; Balz, Dan (July 24, 2013). "Poll: Privacy concerns rise after NSA leaks". Washington Post . Retrieved July 25, 2013 . ^ Castro, Daniel (August 2013). "How Much Will PRISM Cost the U.S. Cloud Computing Industry?" (PDF) . The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation . Retrieved August 11, 2013 . ^ Peterson, Andrea (August 7, 2013). "NSA snooping could cost U.S. tech companies $35 billion over three years". The Washington Post . Retrieved August 8, 2013 . ^ Rosenbush, Steve (August 6, 2013). "Cloud Industry Could Lose Billions on NSA Disclosures". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved August 8, 2013 . ^ Yaron, Oded (August 8, 2013). "Study: NSA leaks could cost U.S. $22''35 billion". Haaretz . Retrieved August 8, 2013 . ^ Palmer, Danny (August 6, 2013). "PRISM could cost US cloud firms $35bn but benefit European providers". computing.co.uk . Retrieved August 11, 2013 . ^ Berman, Matt (June 12, 2013). "International Response to NSA: WTF, America?". National Journal (via Yahoo! News) . Retrieved July 1, 2013 . ^ Staff (June 25, 2013). "World from Berlin: 'Do Costs of Hunting Terrorists Exceed Benefits? ' ". Der Spiegel. Archived from the original on July 9, 2013 . Retrieved July 1, 2013 . ^ Fitsanakis, Joseph (June 20, 2013). "Analysis: PRISM Revelations Harm US Political, Financial Interests". IntelNews . Retrieved July 1, 2013 . ^ Murphy, Katherine (June 20, 2013). "NSA Revelations Prompt Questions about Australian Intelligence Agencies '' Senator Nick Xenophon Seeks Reassurances That Australian MPs Are Not Being Watched in Wake of Prism Disclosures". The Guardian. Retrieved July 1, 2013. ^ Sieff, Kevin (June 16, 2013). "NSA Spying Leaks? Taliban Says: Ho-Hum". The Washington Post (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Retrieved June 16, 2013. ^ Staff (June 16, 2013). "Spy Programmes No Secret to Taliban". The Washington Post (via the South China Morning Post). Retrieved June 16, 2013. ^ Jeremy Fleming (October 29, 2013). "Brussels to set up security, business networks in push for European cloud". EurActiv . Retrieved January 27, 2014 . ^ FlorCruz, Michelle (June 7, 2013). "Chinese Netizens Respond to NSA PRISM Data Mining Scandal". International Business Times . Retrieved June 13, 2013 . ^ Staff (June 8, 2013). "Obama Presses Chinese Leader on Cybersecurity". Associated Press (via the Fox News Channel) . Retrieved June 13, 2013 . ^ Guangjin, Cheng; Chan, Kahon (June 14, 2013). "US Should 'Explain Hacking Activity'". China Daily. Retrieved June 16, 2013. ^ Staff (June 11, 2013). "China Media: US Whistleblower". BBC News. Retrieved June 16, 2013. ^ Staff (June 13, 2013). "H.K. Lawmakers Petition Obama for Leniency Against Whistleblower". Kyodo News (via GlobalPost). Retrieved June 16, 2013. ^ Ai, Weiwei (June 11, 2013). "NSA Surveillance: The US Is Behaving Like China '' Both Governments Think They Are Doing What Is Best for the State and People '' But, As I Know, Such Abuse of Power Can Ruin Lives" (archive). The Guardian. Retrieved June 13, 2013. ^ a b Collier, Kevin (June 7, 2013). "Does the NSA's PRISM Spying Program Violate EU Law?". The Daily Dot . Retrieved June 13, 2013 . ^ Meyer, David (June 7, 2013). "Europeans Call for Answers over U.S. Web Spying Allegations". GigaOM . Retrieved June 13, 2013 . ^ Staff (June 10, 2013). "Sp¤h-Programm der NSA: Merkel will Prism-Skandal bei Obama-Besuch ansprechen" [NSA Spying Program: Merkel Will Address PRISM-Scandal at Obama Visit]. Spiegel Online (in German) . Retrieved June 11, 2013 . ^ Schofield, Matthew (June 26, 2013). "Memories of Stasi Color Germans' View of U.S. Surveillance Programs". McClatchy Washington Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2013. ^ Roberts, Dan; MacAskill, Ewen; Ball, James (June 10, 2013). "Obama Pressured over NSA Snooping as US Senator Denounces 'Act of Treason' '' Information Chiefs Worldwide Sound Alarm While US Senator Dianne Feinstein Orders NSA to Review Monitoring Program". The Guardian . Retrieved June 10, 2013 . ^ Staff (June 20, 2013). France, Spain Ponder Fining Google on Privacy Violation in PRISM Fallout". RT. Retrieved July 2, 2013. "There is a mass of personal information floating about on people in the Google galaxy that people are not even aware of," Falque-Pierrotin, CNIL President, told Reuters. "All we are saying to Google is that we would like it to lift the veil a little on what it's doing." ... "Spain believes the company may be processing a "disproportionate" amount of data and holding onto it for an "undetermined or unjustified" period of time." ^ a b c Osborn, Andrew; Young, Sarah (June 10, 2013). "UK Government Rejects Accusations Its Use of U.S. Spy System Was Illegal". Reuters UK . Retrieved June 13, 2013 . ^ a b Young, Sarah (June 10, 2013). "UK's Cameron Defends Spy Agencies over PRISM Cyber-Snooping". Reuters (via Yahoo! News). Archived from the original on June 15, 2013 . Retrieved July 2, 2013 . ^ a b Robson, Steve (June 26, 2013). "Web Pioneer Berners-Lee Accuses West of Hypocrisy over Internet Spying and Insists Internet Freedom Must Be Safeguarded '' British Inventor Describes Internet Spying by Governments as 'Insidious' '' Said Snooping in Middle East Has Led to People Being Jailed '' Questioned Whether Governments Can Safely Protect Such Sensitive Data". Daily Mail. Retrieved July 2, 2013. ^ Staff (June 27, 2013). "Spy Games: Inventor of World Wide Web Accuses West of Hypocrisy". RT. Retrieved July 2, 2013. ^ "Salman Khurshid defends US surveillance programme, says 'it is not snooping ' ". Ibnlive.in.com. July 2, 2013 . Retrieved July 14, 2013 . ^ "India sees 'no reason to say yes' to asylum for Snowden". Hindustan Times. July 2, 2013 . Retrieved July 14, 2013 . ^ "It is not actually snooping: Khurshid on US surveillance". The Hindu. PTI. July 2, 2013 . Retrieved July 14, 2013 . ^ "Khurshid, Sibal at odds over US snooping". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. July 3, 2013. Archived from the original on July 11, 2013 . Retrieved July 14, 2013 . ^ Muzaffar, Maroosha (July 4, 2013). "Why India is taking the U.S.'s Side in the Snowden Scandal". New Republic . Retrieved July 14, 2013 . ^ Brindaalakshmi K (July 8, 2013). "MP Starts Public Petition For Disclosure Of Indian Data Accessed By PRISM". MediaNama . Retrieved July 14, 2013 . ^ Champion, Marc (July 8, 2013). "Indians See a Gift in NSA Leaks". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on July 13, 2013 . Retrieved July 14, 2013 . ^ "Why India needs to speak up!". Rediff.com. July 5, 2013 . Retrieved July 14, 2013 . ^ Shiv Visvanathan (July 4, 2013). "Why India needs to speak up!". Firstpost . Retrieved July 15, 2013 . ^ "India rejects Snowden's request for asylum, Khurshid backs surveillance". Indian Express. July 3, 2013 . Retrieved July 14, 2013 . ^ "Rajya Sabha MP P Rajeev slams Khurshid on US surveillance issue". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. July 3, 2013. Archived from the original on July 12, 2013 . Retrieved July 14, 2013 . ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Title 50, section 1881a. Procedures for targeting certain persons outside the United States other than United States persons". US Code. Cornell . Retrieved July 29, 2013 . ^ Gage, Beverly (June 7, 2013). "Somewhere, J. Edgar Hoover Is Smiling '' The FBI Director and Notorious Snoop Would Have Loved PRISM." Slate. Retrieved June 18, 2013. ^ Kaufman, Brett Max (June 11, 2013). "ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging NSA's Patriot Act Phone Surveillance". Free Future (blog of the American Civil Liberties Union). Retrieved June 13, 2013. ^ Press release (June 11, 2013). Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, ACLU Ask Spy Court to Release Secret Opinions on Patriot Act Surveillance Powers". Yale Law School. Retrieved July 2, 2013. ^ "Second Class Action over Obama/NSA Alleged Privacy Abuse '' Klayman Sues Obama, Holder, NSA and 12 More Complicit 'PRISM' Companies". freedomwatchusa.org (Press release). June 12, 2013 . Retrieved July 2, 2013 . (direct link to lawsuit; PDF format) ^ Donohue, Laura K. (June 21, 2013). "NSA Surveillance May Be Legal '' But It's Unconstitutional". The Washington Post . Retrieved June 29, 2013 . ^ Dwoskin, Elizabeth (June 13, 2013). "Rand Paul Recruits for a Class Action Against NSA". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved June 29, 2013. ^ Office, Communications (December 10, 2012). "FISA Correspondence Update | U.S. Senator Ron Wyden". Wyden.senate.gov . Retrieved June 9, 2013 . ^ "Download | U.S. Senator Ron Wyden". Wyden.senate.gov . Retrieved June 9, 2013 . ^ I. Charles McCullough to Ron Wyden & Mark Udall (June 15, 2012), via Wired.com: https://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2012/06/IC-IG-Letter.pdf (Archive). ^ Briefing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA): Section 702 (September 23, 2010), via ACLU.org: https://www.aclu.org/files/pdfs/natsec/faafoia20101129/FAAFBI0065.pdf (Archive). ^ "FAA FOIA Documents | American Civil Liberties Union". Aclu.org. December 2, 2010 . Retrieved June 9, 2013 . ^ "Sen. Paul to Introduce Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013 Rand Paul | United States Senator". Paul.senate.gov . Retrieved October 5, 2013 . ^ "113th Congress: 1st Session: A Bill to stop the National Security Agency from spying on citizens of the United States and for other purposes" (PDF) . Paul.senate.gov. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 12, 2013 . Retrieved October 5, 2013 . ^ a b c d "NSA says there are three different PRISMs". Top Level Telecommunications. July 26, 2013 . Retrieved August 27, 2013 . ^ Drum, Kevin (June 10, 2013). "What Does PRISM Do? How Does It Work? Take 2". Kevin Drum (blog of Mother Jones) . Retrieved June 18, 2013 . ^ Ball, James (June 8, 2013). "NSA's Prism surveillance program: how it works and what it can do". The Guardian . Retrieved July 11, 2013 . ^ Timberg, Craig (July 10, 2013). "The NSA slide you haven't seen". The Washington Post . Retrieved July 11, 2013 . ^ Craig Timberg & Ellen Nakashima (July 6, 2013). "Agreements with private companies protect U.S. access to cables' data for surveillance". The Washington Post . Retrieved April 10, 2014 . ^ Lindemann, Todd (July 6, 2013). "A connected world". The Washington Post . Retrieved February 12, 2014 . ^ Bamford, James (July 12, 2013). "They Know Much More Than You Think". The New York Review of Books . Retrieved July 29, 2013 . ^ Gellman, Barton; Poitras, Laura (June 6, 2013). "Codename PRISM: Secret Government Program Mines Data from 9 U.S. Internet Companies, Including Photographs, Email and More". The Washington Post (via The Republican) . Retrieved June 13, 2013 . CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) ^ Gallagher, Ryan (September 9, 2013). "New Snowden Documents Show NSA Deemed Google Networks a "Target " " . Retrieved September 10, 2013 . ^ "NSA Documents Show United States Spied Brazilian Oil Giant". September 8, 2013 . Retrieved September 9, 2013 . ^ Gellman, Barton; Soltani, Ashkan (October 30, 2013). "NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say". The Washington Post . Retrieved October 31, 2013 . ^ Gallagher, Sean (October 31, 2013). "How the NSA's MUSCULAR tapped Google's and Yahoo's private networks". Ars Technica . Retrieved November 1, 2013 . External links [ edit ] Gellman, Barton & Lindeman, Todd (June 10, 2013). "Inner workings of a top-secret spy program". Washington Post. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) ( Annotated presentation how the NSA PRISM programm works)Hallam-Baker, Phillip. "PRISM-Proof Security Considerations". Draft (IETF Internet ed.). Comodo Group, Inc. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) "NSA Spying How It Works". Electronic Frontier Foundation. (Timeline and details about the events)Sottek, T.C. & Kopfstein, Janus (July 17, 2013). "Everything you need to know about PRISM (press compilation)". The Verge. "Surveillance Self-Defense". Electronic Frontier Foundation. (Detailed How-To enabling average citizens to take steps to defend their privacy)"The Government Is Profiling You". Video.MIT.edu. : video explaining the recent history of domestic spying at NSA.Top Level Telecommunications. "What is known about NSA's PRISM program". Electrospaces . Retrieved April 23, 2014 . (A detailed explanation of all known slides about the PRISM program and its inner workings )Zhong, Peng. "A list of alternatives to software and systems that are vulnerable to eavesdropping". PRISM-break.org. Adam Hart-Davis. "DHD Multimedia Gallery: Natural Science: Prism 2". (Source of PRISM logo.)
Judicial Watch: FBI Admits Hillary Clinton Emails Found in Obama White House - Judicial Watch
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 20:50
Also Confirms Over 49,000 Clinton Server Emails Found on Weiner Laptop
(Washington, DC) '' Judicial Watch announced today that a senior FBI official admitted, in writing and under oath, that the agency found Clinton email records in the Obama White House, specifically, the Executive Office of the President. The FBI also admitted nearly 49,000 Clinton server emails were reviewed as result of a search warrant for her material on the laptop of Anthony Weiner.
E.W. (Bill) Priestap, assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, made the disclosure to Judicial Watch as part of court-ordered discovery into the Clinton email issue.
U.S District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ordered Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides, as well as Priestap, to be deposed or answer writer questions under oath. The court ruled that the Clinton email system was ''one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.''
Priestap was asked by Judicial Watch to identify representatives of Hillary Clinton, her former staff, and government agencies from which ''email repositories were obtained.'' Priestap responded with the following non-exhaustive list:
Bryan PaglianoCheryl MillsExecutive Office of the President [Emphasis added]Heather SamuelsonJacob SullivanJustin CooperUnited States Department of StateUnited States Secret ServiceWilliams & Connolly LLPPriestap also testifies that 48,982 emails were reviewed as a result of a warrant for Clinton email account information from the laptop of Anthony Weiner, who had been married to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
A complete copy of Priestap's interrogatory responses is available here. Priestap, is serving as assistant director of the FBI's counterintelligence division and helped oversee both the Clinton email and the 2016 presidential campaign investigations. Priestap testified in a separate lawsuit that Clinton was the subject of a grand jury investigation related to her BlackBerry email accounts.
''This astonishing confirmation, made under oath by the FBI, shows that the Obama FBI had to go to President Obama's White House office to find emails that Hillary Clinton tried to destroy or hide from the American people.'' said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. ''No wonder Hillary Clinton has thus far skated '' Barack Obama is implicated in her email scheme.''
Priestap was ordered to answer the written questions by United States District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth when he ruled in January that Judicial Watch's discovery could begin in Hillary Clinton's email scandal. This action came in Judicial Watch's July 2014 FOIA lawsuit for:
Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency.
Judicial Watch's discovery seeks answers to:
Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;whether the State Department's efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith; andwhether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch's FOIA request.###
Dan Coats - Wikipedia
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 20:48
Daniel Ray Coats (born May 16, 1943) is an American politician and former diplomat. Since 16 March 2017, he has served as the Director of National Intelligence in the Trump Administration. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as a United States Senator from Indiana from 1989 to 1999 and again from 2011 to 2017. He was the United States Ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005, and was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1981 to 1989. Coats served on the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence while in the U.S. Senate.
Dan Coats
5th Director of National Intelligence Assumed office March 16, 2017PresidentDonald TrumpDeputySusan M. Gordon Preceded by James ClapperChair of the Joint Economic Committee In office January 3, 2015 '' January 3, 2017 Preceded by Kevin Brady Succeeded by Pat TiberiUnited States Senatorfrom Indiana In office January 3, 2011 '' January 3, 2017 Preceded by Evan Bayh Succeeded by Todd Young In office January 3, 1989 '' January 3, 1999 Appointed by Robert D. Orr Preceded by Dan Quayle Succeeded by Evan BayhUnited States Ambassador to Germany In office August 15, 2001 '' February 28, 2005PresidentGeorge W. Bush Preceded by John C. Kornblum Succeeded by William R. TimkenMember of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana's 4th district In office January 3, 1981 '' January 3, 1989 Preceded by Dan Quayle Succeeded by Jill Long ThompsonPersonal detailsBornDaniel Ray Coats
( 1943-05-16 ) May 16, 1943 (age 75) Jackson, Michigan, U.S.Political partyRepublicanSpouse(s)Marsha CoatsChildren3Education Wheaton College, Illinois (BA) Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law (JD)Military serviceAllegiance United StatesBranch/service United States ArmyYears of service1966''1968Rank Staff sergeantBorn in Jackson, Michigan, Coats graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. He served in the U.S. Army (1966''1968). Before serving in the U.S. Senate, Coats was a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Indiana's 4th congressional district from 1981 to 1989. He was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Dan Quayle following Quayle's election as Vice President of the United States. Coats won the 1990 special election to serve the remainder of Quayle's unexpired term, as well as the 1992 election for a full six-year term. He did not seek reelection in 1998 and was succeeded by Democrat Evan Bayh.
After retiring from the Senate, Coats served as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005 and then worked as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. He was reelected to the Senate by a large margin in 2010, succeeding Bayh, who announced his own retirement shortly after Coats declared his candidacy. Coats declined to run for reelection in 2016 and was succeeded by Todd Young.
On January 5, 2017, Coats was announced as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for the post of Director of National Intelligence, to succeed James R. Clapper.[1] His term in office commenced on March 16, 2017.
Early life, education and career Edit Coats was born in Jackson, Michigan, the son of Vera (Nora) Elisabeth (n(C)e Swanlund) and Edward Raymond Coats. His father was of English and German descent, and his maternal grandparents emigrated from Sweden.[2] Coats attended local public schools, and graduated from Jackson High School in 1961. He then studied at Wheaton College in Illinois, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1965. At Wheaton, he was an active student athlete on the soccer team. He served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers from 1966 to 1968, and earned a Juris Doctor from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis in 1972, where he was also the associate editor of the Indiana Law Review.[3][4] He also served as assistant vice president of a Fort Wayne life insurance company.
U.S. House of Representatives Edit U.S. Senate Edit When Quayle resigned from the Senate after being elected Vice President of the United States in 1988, Coats was appointed to Quayle's former seat. Coats was subsequently elected to the seat in 1990 and 1992. Coats declined to run for a second full term in 1998. He served in the Senate until January 1999, at which time he was succeeded by Evan Bayh. Coats announced on February 3, 2010, he would run[5] for his old Senate seat and on February 16, 2010, Bayh announced his intention to retire.[6] Coats went on to win the seat. In March 2015 he announced that he would not run for re-election in 2016. He served on the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.[7]
Political positions Edit Gun laws Edit On multiple occasions, Coats has supported gun control measures. In 1991, he voted in favor of the Biden-Thurmond Violent Crime Control Act of 1991. This act, which did not become law, would have created a waiting period for handgun purchases and placed a ban on assault weapons.[8] Subsequently, he supported the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act that President Clinton signed into law in 1993.[9] The legislation imposed a waiting period before a handgun could be transferred to an individual by a licensed dealer, importer, or manufacturer. This waiting period ended when the computerized instant check system came online. Coats also supported Feinstein Amendment 1152 to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1993.[10] The purpose of the Feinstein Amendment was to "restrict the manufacture, transfer, and possession of certain semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices".[11]
In April 2013, Coats was one of forty-six senators to vote against passage of a bill which would have expanded background checks for gun buyers. Coats voted with 40 Republicans and 5 Democrats to stop the passage of the bill.[12]
Taxes Edit In 1995, Coats introduced S. 568: Family, Investment, Retirement, Savings, and Tax Fairness Act[13] which would provide "family tax credits, increase national savings through individual retirement plus accounts, indexing for inflation the income thresholds for taxing social security benefits, etc".[14] The bill did not become law.
LGBT issues Edit In 1993, Coats emerged as an opponent of President Clinton's effort to allow LGBT individuals to serve openly in the armed forces.[15] Coats was one of the authors of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and opposed its 2011 repeal. He does not support same-sex marriage but opposes interference with "alternative lifestyles".[16]
Russia Edit Coats pressed President Barack Obama to punish Russia harshly for its March 2014 annexation of Crimea.[17] For this stance, the Russian government banned Coats and several other U.S. lawmakers from traveling to Russia.[17][18]
Iran and Iraq Edit Coats supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq on the grounds of uncovering Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.[19]
Coats opposed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers '' the U.S., U.K., Russia, France, China, and Germany.[20] He described Iran as the foremost "state sponsor of terrorism".[21]
Palestine Edit Coats co-sponsored the Taylor Force Act. The legislation proposes to stop American economic aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it stops payments to individuals who commit acts of terrorism and to the families of deceased terrorists.[22][23]
Other Edit Coats co-sponsored, with former Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, and James Jeffords, S.2206: Coats Human Services Reauthorization Act of 1998. This bill, which was enacted into law, "amended the Head Start Act, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981, and the Community Services Block Grant Act... in order to provide an opportunity for persons with limited means to accumulate assets."[24]
In 1996, Coats co-sponsored the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, which President Clinton signed into law. The bill allowed the President to "rewrit[e] legislation by vetoing single items of spending or specific tax breaks approved by Congress."[25] In June 1998, The Supreme Court of the United States declared the law unconstitutional in Clinton v. City of New York in a 6''3 decision.
Coats made headlines in August 1998, when he publicly questioned the timing of President Bill Clinton's cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan, suggesting they might be linked to the Lewinsky scandal: "While there is clearly much more we need to learn about this attack and why it was ordered today, given the president's personal difficulties this week, it is legitimate to question the timing of this action."[26]
Between U.S. Senate tenures Edit Official portrait of Senator Coats, 2011
Coats worked as Special Counsel member in the firm Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand in 2000 and 2001. In 2001, Coats was reportedly one of George W. Bush's top choices to be Secretary of Defense, a job eventually given to Donald Rumsfeld who had previously held the post under President Gerald Ford.
From August 15, 2001, to February 28, 2005, Coats was the United States Ambassador to Germany.[27][28] As ambassador during the lead-up to the Iraq War, he pressured the German government not to oppose the war, threatening worsened US relations with Germany.[19] As Ambassador he also played a critical role in establishing robust relations with then opposition leader Angela Merkel and in the construction of a new United States Embassy in the heart of Berlin next to the Brandenburg Gate.[29]
In 2005, Coats drew attention when he was chosen by President George W. Bush to shepherd Harriet Miers's failed nomination to the Supreme Court through the Senate. Echoing Senator Roman Hruska's famous 1970 speech in defense of Harrold Carswell, Coats said to CNN regarding the nomination: "If [being a] great intellectual powerhouse is a qualification to be a member of the court and represent the American people and the wishes of the American people and to interpret the Constitution, then I think we have a court so skewed on the intellectual side that we may not be getting representation of America as a whole."[30]
In 2007, Coats served as co-chairman of a team of lobbyists for Cooper Industries, a Texas corporation that moved its principal place of business to Bermuda, where it would not be liable for U.S. taxes. In that role, he worked to block Senate legislation that would have closed a tax loophole, worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Cooper Industries.[31]
Coats served as co-chairman of the Washington government relations office of King & Spalding.[31]
Director of National Intelligence Edit Coats being sworn in as Director of National Intelligence by Vice President
Mike Pence on March 16, 2017
On January 5, 2017, Coats was announced as then-President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for the position of Director of National Intelligence, to succeed the near outgoing James R. Clapper.[1] His confirmation hearing was held on February 28, 2017 to the United States Senate Intelligence Committee.[32]
On March 9, 2017, the United States Senate Intelligence Committee approved the nomination of Coats as National Intelligence Director with a 13''2 vote.[33] The Senate confirmed his nomination with an 85''12 vote on March 15, 2017, and he was sworn into office on March 16.[34]
On July 16, 2018, Coats released a statement affirming the consensus of the United States Intelligence Community (IC) that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,[35] a day after the 2018 Russia''United States summit where President Trump recanted his endorsement of the IC's assessment.[36]
On September 6, 2018 Director Coats denied that he had authored the anonymous New York Times Op/Ed piece from a Senior Trump Administration official that berated the President. The day before, MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell had speculated that Coats was the author of the controversial anonymous piece.[37]
Coats released the DNI's "Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community" on January 29, 2019, listing the major threats to the United States. The reports states that the "international system is coming under increasing strain amid continuing cyber and WMD proliferation threats, competition in space, and regional conflicts. Among the disturbing trends are hostile states and actors' intensifying online efforts to influence and interfere with elections here and abroad and their use of chemical weapons. Terrorism too will continue to be a top threat to US and partner interests worldwide, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.[Notes 1] The development and application of new technologies will introduce both risks and opportunities, and the US economy will be challenged by slower global economic growth and growing threats to US economic competitiveness."[38]: 4
Political campaigns Edit Coats in his first tenure in Congress
2010 Edit On February 10, 2010, Coats confirmed that he would return to Indiana to run for the seat held by incumbent Evan Bayh in the 2010 United States Senate election.[39][40] Bayh had made no previous announcements and was fully expected to run for another term, but after Coats announced his candidacy, Bayh announced his retirement on February 15, 2010. On May 4, 2010, Coats won the Republican primary over state Sen. Marlin Stutzman and former Congressman John Hostettler.[41][42]
Coats received endorsements from National Right to Life Committee, Indiana Right to Life, and the Susan B. Anthony List.[43]
Coats defeated Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth by a fifteen-point margin to return to the Senate.[44]
Coats became the senior senator from Indiana after Richard Lugar lost a challenge in the 2012 Republican primary election and subsequently was not re-elected to the Senate in 2012. Coats served the remainder of his term with Democrat Joe Donnelly.
Personal life Edit He is married to Marsha Coats, Indiana's woman representative to the Republican National Committee.[45]
He received the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America's Charles G. Berwind Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.[46]
See also Edit Notes Edit ^ Terrorists groups listed in order are Sunni Violent Extremists, ISIS, Al-Qa'ida, Homegrown Violent Extremists, Shia Actors, Lebanese Hizballah, Violent Ethno-supremacist and Ultranationalist Groups (page 10-13). References Edit ^ a b "Trump selects former Indiana Sen. Coats for top intelligence post". Chicagotribune.com . Retrieved January 23, 2017 . ^ "Dan Coats ancestry". Freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com . Retrieved October 11, 2012 . ^ "With Sen. Dan Coats' Retirement, One More Gone From The Old School". NPR.org. March 25, 2015 . Retrieved February 13, 2018 . ^ "Meet DAn". Dan Coats Official Website. Archived from the original on November 6, 2014 . Retrieved November 17, 2014 . ^ "Coats and Bayh finally set to do battle". TheHill . Retrieved January 23, 2017 . ^ "Bayh won't seek Senate re-election". CNN.com . Retrieved January 23, 2017 . ^ "Committee Assignments", Coats.senate.gov, United States Senate, December 30, 2016, archived from the original on December 30, 2016 ^ "Text - S.1241 - 102nd Congress (1991-1992): Biden-Thurmond Violent Crime Control Act of 1991 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress". Congress.gov . Retrieved January 23, 2017 . ^ Macy, Tim (February 11, 2010). "Dan Coats, Gun Control and the Indiana Senate Primary". Gunowners.org . Retrieved August 10, 2011 . ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov . Retrieved August 10, 2011 . ^ "Bill Summary & Status - 103rd Congress (1993 - 1994) - S.AMDT.1152". Thomas.loc.gov . Retrieved August 10, 2011 . ^ Silver, Nate (April 18, 2013). "Modeling the Senate's Vote on Gun Control". The New York Times. ^ Sen. Daniel Coats [R-IN]. "Family, Investment, Retirement, Savings, and Tax Fairness Act of 1995 (1995; 104th Congress S. 568)". GovTrack.us . Retrieved October 11, 2012 . ^ "Bill Summary & Status Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)". loc.gov. ^ Schmitt, Eric (May 12, 1993). "Compromise on Military Gay Ban Gaining Support Among Senators". The New York Times. ^ Salomon, Evie (October 8, 2010). "Indiana US Senate candidates discuss hot topics of this year's election". Indiana Daily Student. Indiana University . Retrieved January 11, 2015 . ^ a b Donald Trump names Dan Coats national intelligence director, BBC News (January 7, 2017) ^ Naylor, Brian (January 5, 2017). "Trump Picks Ex-Senator, Banned From Russia, As His Intelligence Chief". NPR . Retrieved June 14, 2017 . ^ a b "Irak-Kriegspl¤ne: US-Botschafter mahnt die Deutschen - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Politik". Spiegel.de. September 4, 2002 . Retrieved July 12, 2010 . ^ "Sen. Coats: Iran nuclear deal "fatally flawed"". RTV6 TheIndyChannel.com. September 5, 2015. ^ "Iran continues engaging in support for terrorism despite nuclear deal". The Baghdad Post. May 13, 2017. ^ "Former Israeli generals warn against US bill slashing funds to PA". The Times of Israel. June 23, 2017. ^ Tubbs, Ashlyn (September 28, 2016). "Senators introduce Taylor Force Act to cut terror attack funding". KCBD. ^ Sen. Daniel Coats [R-IN]. "Coats Human Services Reauthorization Act of 1998 (1998; 105th Congress S. 2206)". GovTrack.us . Retrieved October 11, 2012 . ^ Pear, Robert (June 26, 1998). "The Supreme Court: The Opinion -- Justices, 6-3, Bar Veto Of Line Items In Bills; See H.I.V. As Disability; Spending At Issue". The New York Times. ^ Most Lawmakers Support Clinton's Military Strikes, August 20, 1998, CNN. ^ "Speeches by Ambassador Coats". United States Diplomatic Mission to Germany. Archived from the original on August 27, 2009 . Retrieved April 24, 2010 . ^ "Biography: Daniel R. Coats". United States Department of State . Retrieved April 24, 2010 . ^ "Coats, Bucshon to headline GOP dinner >> Local News >> The Washington Times-Herald". Washtimesherald.com . Retrieved July 12, 2010 . ^ American Morning: Miers Confirmation Battle, October 7, 2005, transcript of CNN American Morning. ^ a b Lipton, Eric (November 13, 2010). "A Journey From Lawmaker to Lobbyist and Back Again". nyt.com . Retrieved November 15, 2010 . ^ Matt Smith (February 28, 2017). "Former Sen. Dan Coats to face questions during nomination hearing for director of national intelligence". Fox59 . Retrieved March 10, 2017 . ^ Matt McKinney (March 9, 2017). "Former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats' nomination as director of national intelligence advances to full Senate". The Indy Channel . Retrieved March 10, 2017 . ^ "Dan Coats Sworn in as National Intelligence Director". Bloomberg.com. March 16, 2017 . Retrieved May 22, 2017 . ^ "Statement from DNI Coats". www.dni.gov . Retrieved July 17, 2018 . ^ CNN, Jeremy Diamond,. "Trump sides with Putin over US intelligence". CNN . Retrieved July 17, 2018 . ^ "Trump officials race to deny they authored 'resistance' op-ed". ^ Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community (PDF) . Director of National Intelligence (Report). Climate and Security. February 13, 2018 . Retrieved February 24, 2018 . ^ Ryan Elijah (February 10, 2010). "Dan Coats Confirms Bid for U.S. Senate". Indiana's NewsCenter. Archived from the original on February 12, 2010 . Retrieved February 10, 2010 . ^ Flynn, Bridget (March 23, 2010). "Dan Coats outlines his priorities". Herald Argus. ^ "The 2010 Results Maps". Politico.Com . Retrieved July 12, 2010 . ^ Cillizza, Chris (May 4, 2010). "Coats, Fisher win; NC-Senate to runoff". Washington Post . Retrieved May 9, 2010 . ^ "Indiana Senate Candidate Dan Coats Gets Pro-Life Backing Over Ellsworth". LifeNews.com. June 10, 2011 . Retrieved August 10, 2011 . ^ "State Results - Election Center 2010 - Elections & Politics from CNN.com". CNN. ^ Coats, Marsha. "Unity makes the impossible, possible". Indiana GOP . Retrieved October 12, 2016 . ^ "U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) Receives Big Brothers Big Sisters' Highest National Honor". PR Newswire. June 12, 2012 . Retrieved August 13, 2014 . External links Edit
Michael S. Rogers - Wikipedia
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 20:40
Early life and education Edit Rogers was born on October 31, 1959[4] and is a native of Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from New Trier High School in 1977.[5] He is a graduate of Auburn University (1981) and the Naval War College.[6]
Career Edit Rogers speaking to a group of sailors at the Center for Information Dominance in January 2012.
1980s Edit Rogers received his commission through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program and has served in the United States Navy since graduating from Auburn University in 1981. He started his career as a Surface Warfare Officer working in naval gunfire support operations off Grenada, Beirut, and maritime surveillance operations off El Salvador on board the USS Caron (DD-970).[7] In 1986, he was selected for transfer from Unrestricted Line Officer to Restricted Line Officer and re-designation as a cryptology officer.[8]
2000s Edit During the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Rogers joined the military's Joint Staff, which works for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he specialized in computer network attacks. From 2007 onward he served as director of intelligence for the military's Pacific Command. In 2009, he became director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was subsequently named commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and commander of the U.S. 10th Fleet, with responsibility for all of the Navy's cyberwarfare efforts.[7] As such, Rogers was the first restricted line officer to serve as a numbered fleet commander and the first Information Warfare Community (IWC) officer to achieve the rank of vice admiral.[9]
2010s Edit In January 2014, the Obama Administration announced Rogers' nomination as director of the National Security Agency and the commander of the United States offensive cyberoperations unit in the Department of Defense. Rogers succeeded General Keith B. Alexander, who served as the NSA director for nine years,[10][11][12] and became the first IWC officer to achieve the rank of admiral. Although the NSA directorship does not require Senate approval, Rogers had to be confirmed by the Senate to head United States Cyber Command,[13] for which the Senate unanimously confirmed him.
In his first public remarks as NSA director, Rogers stated that he believed that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was "probably not" working for a foreign intelligence agency, despite frequent speculation and assertion by the NSA's allies to the contrary. Rogers added: "He clearly believes in what he's doing. I question that; I don't agree with it. I fundamentally disagree with what he did. I believe it was wrong; I believe it was illegal."[14]
The Washington Post reported on 19 November 2016 that Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James R. Clapper, Jr. had sometime earlier in the year recommended to President Obama that Rogers be terminated as director of the National Security Agency.[15] Carter reportedly recommended he be terminated due to poor performance, whereas Clapper considered it wise that the position be held by a civilian.[15] Both Clapper and Carter had put Rogers on notice for poor performance in internal security and leadership style.[15]This belief is buttressed by the IG report and by the April 26, 2017 U.S. FISA Court "Memorandum Opinion and Order." The declassified version of that document states "The October 26, 2016 Notice disclosed that an NSA Inspector General (IG) review and report and NSA Office of Comliance for Operations (OCO) verification activities indicated that, with greater frequency than previously disclosed to the Court, NSA analysts had used U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of Internet 'upstream' collection, even though NSA's Section 702 minimization procedures prohibited such queries. To understand why such queries were prohibited, and why this disclosure gave the Court substantial concern, some historical background is necessary."[16] The report goes on to state "At the October 26, 2016 hearing, the Court ascribed the government's failure to disclose those IG and OCO reviews at the October 4, 2016 hearing to an institutional 'lack of candor' on NSA's part and emphasized that 'this is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue'" (page 19). As a result of these transgressions, there were "changes in the scope of NSA collection under Section 702, as reflected in the March 30, 2017 Amendments" (page 14). These changes were designed to prevent recurrence of the illegal collection discussed in the Court filing. Other sources contend that Admiral Rogers' termination was delayed due to stalled changes to the bureaucratic structure of the intelligence community.[15] Before the recommendation of firing was made, Rogers met with then President-elect Donald Trump without notifying his superiors.[17] Some sources contend that the reason he did not notify Mr. Clapper was the fact he was alerting President Elect Trump about Mr. Clapper's allegedly illegal actions with respect to FISA Section 702. Trump was reportedly considering replacing Clapper with Rogers as DNI, however that position went to former Senator Dan Coats, with Rogers remaining NSA director.[15]
In January 2018, Rogers announced he would be retiring from the NSA in the spring.[18][19][20]Rogers still has his US Gov't Security Clearance and as of December 9, 2018 works for Israel's Team8 helping them with new venture (Globe, Israel's Business Arena, 12/9/2018)
Military decorations Edit References Edit ^ a b U.S. Cyber Command Change of Command/Command Elevation Ceremony ^ "Navy cyber warfare chief is Obama's pick to lead NSA". Los Angeles Times. 27 January 2014 . Retrieved 15 August 2015 . ^ "Cyber Command Elevated to Combatant Command". Military.com. 2018-05-04 . Retrieved 2018-05-05 . ^ "Nominations Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Second Session, 113th Congress" (PDF) . Federation of American Scientists . Retrieved 24 January 2018 . ^ "New Trier's Rogers talks about U.S. Fleet Cyber Command". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 26 January 2014 . ^ Peterson, Andrea (October 16, 2013). "Meet the man who could be next in line to control the NSA's spying apparatus" . Retrieved March 13, 2014 . ^ a b Sanger, David; Shanker, Thom (30 January 2014). "N.S.A. Choice Is Navy Expert on Cyberwar". The New York Times . Retrieved 30 January 2014 . ^ "U.S. Navy bio". U.S. Navy . Retrieved 26 January 2014 . ^ Guimont, Nathan L. (2 June 2012). "10th Fleet Commander Visits Navy Linguists". Navy.mil. U.S. Navy . Retrieved 3 August 2014 . ^ Nakashima, Ellen (25 January 2014). "Obama signs off on nomination of Rogers as NSA director". Washington Post . Retrieved 30 January 2014 . ^ Sanger, David (30 January 2014). "Vice Admiral to Be Named N.S.A. Director". New York Times . Retrieved 30 January 2014 . ^ Hattem, Julian (30 January 2014). "Obama to name new NSA director". The Hill . Retrieved 30 January 2014 . ^ Ackerman, Spencer (30 January 2014). "Vice-admiral Michael Rogers to take command of embattled NSA". The Guardian . Retrieved 31 January 2014 . ^ Ackerman, Spencer (3 June 2014). "NSA chief Michael Rogers: Edward Snowden 'probably not' a foreign spy". The Guardian . Retrieved 16 December 2015 . ^ a b c d e "Pentagon and intelligence community chiefs have urged Obama to remove the head of the NSA". Washington Post . Retrieved 2016-11-19 . ^ "2016 Cert FISC Memo Opin Order Apr 2017 (4)". Scribd . Retrieved 2018-12-09 . ^ Shinkman, Paul (20 November 2016). "NSA Head Rogers on His Recommended Firing: 'I'm Accountable for My Actions ' ". US News . Retrieved 7 February 2018 . ^ "NSA Chief Mike Rogers's Classified Retirement Memo Leaks". nymag . Retrieved 2018-02-17 . ^ "NSA's Rogers to retire this spring". politico . Retrieved 2018-02-17 . ^ "NSA Chief Adm. Mike Rogers Expected to Retire this Spring; Leaves Complicated Legacy". usni . Retrieved 2018-02-17 . ^ "ORDER OF AUSTRALIA" (PDF) . Governor General of Australia . Retrieved 12 November 2018 . External links Edit
Robert Mueller was the biggest obstacle for Sept. 11 families who wanted to sue Saudi Arabia
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 18:48
| June 20, 2018 04:10 PM
A laywer representing the families of 9/11 victims says Robert Mueller engaged in a cover-up of evidence that the Saudi government aided the attackers. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
F amilies of Sept. 11 victims have been on a 17-year-long quest to seek financial retribution from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which they claim funded the terrorist attack that took the lives of their loved ones. Throughout the process, their attempts at uncovering the truth about Saudi Arabia's role in the deadliest terrorist attack in American history have been impeded by the FBI and its former director, Robert Mueller '-- now famously the special counsel investigating collusion (or the lack thereof) between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
New York-based lawyer Jim Kreindler, representing the families of the Sept. 11 victims, said in an interview with me that Mueller and his successor, James Comey, engaged in a systematic cover-up of evidence that the Saudi government aided the terrorists who committed the Sept. 11 attacks.
Kreindler and the victims' families believe there are clear connections between the Saudi government and Sept. 11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar. Both men met with the employees of Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Islamic Affairs and received support from Saudi diplomat Fahad al-Thumairy, according to a 28-page report on the Saudi links to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Several people formerly associated with the investigation stated that Saudi Arabia was financially involved with the Sept. 11 attacks, including John Lehman, a Republican member of the 9/11 Commission, and former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time. Graham's testimony during an appearance on "60 Minutes" was especially damning: "the hijackers received active support and guidance from rich Saudis, Saudi charities, and top members of the Saudi government.''
Stephen K. Moore, the retired FBI agent who led the Sept. 11 probe in Los Angeles, also confirmed in an affidavit back in December 2017 that the Saudis played a significant role.
Despite mounting evidence and testimony from key players in the investigation as well as former politicians, Kreindler told me that he ran into significant roadblocks from the FBI and former directors Mueller and Comey.
''We've really been stymied over the last 17 years from getting information from the FBI, State Department, and Department of Defense,'' Kreindler said in an interview. ''From day one, instead of focusing on the evidence, there was an effort to not look at the Saudis and get their help in launching the Iraq War.''
Kreindler said that retired FBI agents had told him that they also believe Mueller lied in 2002 before the joint congressional inquiry that he was unaware of Saudi government involvement.
''In [former FBI agent] Steve Moore's affidavit he says, as head of the 400 FBI agent team in L.A., I am reporting on our investigation into al-Thumairy daily with the director, that's Director Mueller,'' Kreindler stated.
It's not just Kreindler pointing the finger at Mueller; Graham stated that Mueller personally intervened to cut off further inquiry regarding Saudi assistance to the hijackers in California. In an interview with Harper's from October 2017, Graham stated that Mueller made a series of objections to having terrorist specialist and former FBI lawyer Michael Jacobson visit San Diego to see if there was a possible Saudi connection to the hijackers. When Jacobson discovered that the hijackers were close to an FBI informant named Abdussattar Shaikh, he demanded to speak to him '-- but Mueller refused and moved Shaikh to an undisclosed location ''for his safety.''
The FBI didn't become easier to work with once Comey took over. The documents Kreindler requested had heavy redactions, and in 2015 Comey shut down any last remaining FBI investigation into the link between Saudi Arabia and the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Sept. 11 families he's representing are continuing with their lawsuit, winning a court case in March 2018 where a judge ruled that they can proceed with their lawsuit. Still, Kreindler believes the only way victims' families will ever learn the whole truth is if President Trump declassifies the investigation into Saudi ties with the Sept. 11 attacks.
''President Trump must declassify all documents related to the 9/11 investigation to fully reveal the significant degree to which Mr. Mueller and later Mr. Comey went to impede and cover up Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks,'' Kreindler said. ''The president should also issue an executive order holding harmless all retired FBI agents who were aware of the cover-up and impediments by their bosses at the time but are afraid to come forward to help the 9/11 victims today out of fear of retribution.''
Ryan Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a writer based in New York.
Robert Mueller's Beltway Cover-Up '' Tablet Magazine
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 18:36
By using the justice system as a political weapon, Mueller and his supporters in both parties are confirming what many Americans already believe: We are not all equal under one law.
March 13, 2018 ' 1:30 PM
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After all, Mueller took his job not at the behest of the man who by all accounts he is likely to professionally and personally disdain, Donald Trump, but of the blue-chip Beltway elite of which he is a charter member. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him nearly a year ago to lead an investigation without parameters. That's because Mueller's job is to obscure the abuses of the US surveillance apparatus that occurred under the Obama administration.
The fact that someone at the level of former FBI director was called in to sweep up the mess left by bad actors in the bureau and Central Intelligence Agency and other parts of the intelligence bureaucracy suggests that the problems are even worse than previously thought. And that means the constituency for Mueller's political intervention is enormous.
Mueller is said to believe that the Prince meeting was to set up a back channel with the Kremlin. But that makes no sense. According to the foundational text of the collusion narrative, the dossier allegedly written by former British spy Christopher Steele, the Kremlin had cultivated Trump himself for years. So what's the purpose of a back channel, when Vladimir Putin already had a key to the front door of Mar-a-Lago?
Further, the collusion thesis holds that the Trump circle teamed with high-level Russian officials for the purpose of winning the 2016 election. How does a meeting that Erik Prince had a week before Trump's inauguration advance the crooked election victory plot? It doesn't'--it contradicts it.
Erik Prince may well be involved in questionable practices that would make people's blood run cold. For one thing, he owns and operates a private army, which he rents to unsavory characters'--as well as the US government. Maybe Prince was trying to drum up some sort of business with Russia, energy-related, or mercenary-related. Who knows?
The idea that whenever anyone who supported Trump, or even voted for him, met with a Russian national the dish on the menu was treason is the stuff of Cold War B-movies. But it is also evidence of something more than prosecutorial overreach. The fact that Mueller has zeroed in on Prince points to a key motive behind his ongoing investigation.
Prince was thrown into the middle of Russiagate after an April 3, 2017 Washington Post story reported his meeting with the Russian banker. But how did anyone know about the meeting? After the story came out, Prince said he was shown ''specific evidence'' by sources from the intelligence community that the information was swept up in the collection of electronic communications and his identity was unmasked. The US official or officials who gave his name to the Post broke the law when they leaked classified intelligence. ''Unless The Washington Post has somehow miraculously recruited the bartender of a hotel in the Seychelles,'' Prince told the House Intelligence Committee in December, ''the only way that's happening is through SIGINT [signals intelligence].''
Mueller presumably knows whether Prince's name was indeed unmasked and then leaked to the press'--and that the leak was a crime. Mueller certainly knows that most of the case he has regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election was built by abuses of the foreign intelligence surveillance apparatus and other related crimes that are punishable with jail time. The identity of Trump's short-tenured National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was swept up and leaked to the press in the same way as Prince's. It was leaked to the same newspaper, the Washington Post.
As I explained last week, the identity of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also unmasked from intelligence intercepts and leaked to the Washington Post. The fact that the FBI had secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant on Carter Page was also leaked to the Post. The warrant on Page was secured on the basis of the findings in the Steele dossier, an unverified piece of opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.
As director of the FBI during the post-9/11 period, when foreign intelligence surveillance and its abuses made regular front-page headlines, Muller knows exactly how the system can be abused'--and what the penalties are. He also recognizes that Russiagate is evidence of how it was abused, and who abused it'--including some of the same people he worked with during his 12-year tenure as FBI director.
The purpose of the Mueller inquiry is therefore not to investigate the mostly ludicrous-seeming charges in the Steele dossier, but to protect the institution of the FBI, former colleagues, as well as the national security surveillance system. Therefore the inquiry has to cover up the sinful origins of the collusion narrative itself'--which was born in repeated abuses of power and subsequent crimes committed by US officials in the intelligence bureaucracy and the Obama administration.
* * *
Robert Mueller is a man of integrity, an honorable public servant'--both Republicans and Democrats say so. Yes, Mueller served the American public and helped protect it at a time when American nerves were frayed. And his tenure as FBI director shows signs of how that strain took a toll on him both personally and professionally.
Mueller oversaw one of the bureau's biggest cases ever, the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and infected another 17. ''The director was always the leader of the anthrax investigation, period,'' the former head of the FBI's Washington field office Michael Mason told the Los Angeles Times. Focusing on a virologist named Steven Hatfill, Mueller was certain he had the right man. As he told congressional leaders in January 2003, a bloodhound had identified Hatfill as the terrorist. Hatfill was cleared in 2008, and won a $5.8 million settlement from the U.S. government. Having wasted millions of dollars without ever arresting the actual criminal, Mueller refused to ever admit that he or the bureau had erred.
Mueller critics cite the Hatfill case as evidence of his sometimes unhealthy zeal and refusal to change course in spite of the facts. Another episode from the post-9/11 period goes directly to the heart of the investigation he is currently conducting.
In March 2004, Mueller's longtime colleague and friend James Comey raced to the hospital bed of John Ashcroft to prevent the then Attorney General from reauthorizing a surveillance program. According to a 2007 Washington Post account, Mueller was one among several US officials, along with then deputy attorney general Comey, who threatened to resign if the George W. Bush White House reauthorized a ''warrantless eavesdropping program.'' The program allowed, explains the Post, ''the NSA to monitor e-mails and telephone calls between the United States and overseas if one party was believed linked to terrorist groups.''
Or, that's the standard account. A 2013 article by Julian Sanchez argues that Mueller and Comey's concerns were related to a different program authorizing the indiscriminate collection of Internet metadata, even where there were no overseas connections. They believed the program could not be defended by the legal rationale employed by the Bush White House. The Bush administration solved the problem by putting that program under a different authority.
In other words, Mueller did not object to the ethical and political concerns the program should rightly raise in a democracy, only its legal basis for existing. That program existed until 2011. The program that the Post and other media believe Mueller was willing to resign over, the warrantless monitoring of e-mails and telephone calls between the United States and overseas, continued in some forms until 2015.
Some Mueller critics suggest that in threatening to resign he was simply showboating. Under his tenure, they note, the FBI was responsible for countless surveillance abuses.
Past and present FBI officials who broke the law may be seen to have the largest stake in Mueller's investigation continuing as long as possible. The inquiry has plenty of other constituencies as well. National security hawks are rightly worried that the abuses of foreign intelligence surveillance may jeopardize programs that are designed to keep Americans safe from terrorism. For the time being, Mueller's probe has managed to help obscure the fact those programs have sometimes been used to spy on Americans.
The press also has an interest in prolonging the Mueller probe. Russiagate is good for business, mesmerizing viewers with a grand political spectacle featuring one of the media's biggest draws for the last several decades'--Donald Trump, the boss villain who is now in the White House. Maybe most prominent among the interested media organizations is the paper that has colluded with lawbreakers in publishing the names of US persons whose identities have been illegally leaked by intelligence officials and political operatives'--the Washington Post.
Coincidentally, the owner of the Post also has a major stake in letting Mueller do his work to preserve America's surveillance and spying complex. In 2013, the same year that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos bought the paper that broke Watergate for $250 million, Amazon Web Services landed a $600 million deal with the US intelligence community. According to a 2017 Washington Post story, AWS created a ''cloud storage service designed to handle classified information for U.S. spy agencies,'' including the CIA. The cloud technology was to ''usher in a new era of cooperation and coordination, allowing agencies to share information and services much more easily.''
And now some intelligence and data experts believe that the CIA cloud is how the Obama administration could have minimized its trail after unmasking US persons. ''The NSA database, with its large and ongoing collection of electronic communications, can be accessed through the NSA's cloud,'' says one former senior intelligence official. The NSA can audit it and find out if analysts are violating rules. The NSA does not audit the CIA's cloud, which is audited by the CIA's IT people and Amazon Web Services employees who are given security clearances. Says the former official: ''There are people in the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Security Council staff who can move information from the NSA cloud into the CIA cloud. That seems the likeliest scenario to explain how Obama officials first unmasked US persons and then shared information without leaving a trail that could be audited independently, or immediately, at every step. Since unmasking, by itself, is authorized for lawful purposes, it's the processing and sharing, as with Susan Rice's spreadsheets, that tell us if the information was being misused.''
Presumably, the owner of Amazon is not eager to have Amazon customers see that the company with their credit card data and buying and viewing habits on file may have facilitated the US government's spying on American citizens to advance a campaign of political warfare.
Mueller's assembled constituents'--from spies to political operatives, and from the press to big data/big business'--must look something like what some on the left as well as the right have called the ''Deep State,'' a sinister-sounding phrase conjuring up dark images of cutthroat Turkish paramilitary operatives. But that's not really what happened here'--even the top spooks involved in Russiagate, like former CIA director John Brennan, have spent most of their careers inside Washington mastering nothing darker than the bureaucratic arts of ass-covering and blame-mongering.
These are the Beltway insiders whose privileges Trump threatened on the campaign trail. Sure, they told each other, what Trump said about immigrants was rotten. But the real issue was that Trump'--a vulgar businessman, a bestselling author with a short attention-span who never read a book in his life'--had denigrated them, honorable civil servants and reputable journalists who answer to a higher calling than a reality TV star. He called us losers. And then he declared that the Obama administration and the intelligence community were spying on him.
As an intelligence bureaucrat who was never held accountable for the enormous public failure that the Hatfill case represented, Robert Mueller was the natural choice to be the public face of a campaign designed to protect the interests of an unaccountable ruling class. The range of his inquiry is dictated not by the ostensible purpose of his appointment, but by the nature and scope of the abuses and crimes he's covering up. Should the wheels of the Mueller probe ever stop grinding, his entire constituency immediately becomes vulnerable. The public will understand what happened, who's responsible, and who covered it up.
That's why the investigation can't stop; it can only keep expanding. Let Mueller do his work, Democratic and Republican elites chant together, like a mystery cult. We don't know what Mueller knows. Somewhere, someone must have committed a crime, or told a lie, and then something that Trump did or someone who worked for him did will prove that someone did something, or that someone lied to the people in charge of the cover-up.
The problem is that by using the justice system as a political weapon to attack the enemies of the country's elite, Robert Mueller and his supporters in both parties are confirming what many Americans already believe. That in spite of all the fine rhetoric, we are not all equal under one law. There is in fact a privileged class, a ruling class that sees its own interests as identical with the public good, and never pays a price for its failures, its abuses, and its crimes.
Lee Smith is the author of The Consequences of Syria.
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The Obama Use of FISA-702 as a Domestic Political Surveillance Program'.... '' The Last Refuge
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 17:41
Now that we have significant research files on the 2015 and 2016 political surveillance program; which includes the trail evident within the Weissmann/Mueller report; in combination with the Obama-era DOJ ''secret research project'' (their words, not mine); we are able to overlay the entire objective and gain a full understanding of how political surveillance was conducted over a period of approximately four to six years.
Working with a timeline, but also referencing origination material in 2015/2016 '' CTH hopes to show how the program operated. This explains an evolution from The IRS Files in 2010 to the FISA Files in 2016.
The FISA-702 database extraction process, and utilization of the protections within the smaller intelligence community, was the primary process. We start by reviewing the established record from the 99-page FISC opinion rendered by Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer on April 26th, 2017; and explain the details within the FISC opinion.
I would strongly urge everyone to read the FISC report (full pdf below) because Judge Collyer outlines how the DOJ, which includes the FBI, had an ''institutional lack of candor'' in responses to the FISA court. In essence, they were continually lying to the court about their activity, and the rate of fourth amendment violations for illegal searches and seizures of U.S. persons' private information for multiple years.
Unfortunately, due to intelligence terminology Judge Collyer's brief and ruling is not an easy read for anyone unfamiliar with the FISA processes outlined. The complexity also helps the media avoid discussing, and as a result most Americans have no idea the scale and scope of the issues. So we'll try to break down the language.
For the sake of brevity and common understanding CTH will highlight the most pertinent segments showing just how systemic and troublesome the unlawful electronic surveillance was.
Early in 2016 NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers was alerted of a significant uptick in FISA-702(17) ''About'' queries using the FBI/NSA database that holds all metadata records on every form of electronic communication.
The NSA compliance officer alerted Admiral Mike Rogers who then initiated a full compliance audit on/around March 9th, 2016, for the period of November 1st, 2015, through May 1st, 2016.
While the audit was ongoing, due to the severity of the results that were identified, Admiral Mike Rogers stopped anyone from using the 702(17) ''about query'' option, and went to the extraordinary step of blocking all FBI contractor access to the database on April 18, 2016 (keep these dates in mind).
Here are some significant segments: The key takeaway from these first paragraphs is how the search query results were exported from the NSA database to users who were not authorized to see the material. The FBI contractors were conducting searches and then removing, or 'exporting', the results. Later on, the FBI said all of the exported material was deleted.
Searching the highly classified NSA database is essentially a function of filling out search boxes to identify the user-initiated search parameter and get a return on the search result.
FISA-702(16) is a search of the system returning a U.S. person (''702''); and the ''16'' is a check box to initiate a search based on ''To and From''. Example, if you put in a date and a phone number and check ''16'' as the search parameter the user will get the returns on everything ''To and From'' that identified phone number for the specific date. Calls, texts, contacts etc. Including results for the inbound and outbound contacts.
FISA-702(17) is a search of the system returning a U.S. person (702); and the ''17'' is a check box to initiate a search based on everything ''About'' the search qualifier. Example, if you put a date and a phone number and check ''17'' as the search parameter the user will get the returns of everything about that phone. Calls, texts, contacts, geolocation (or gps results), account information, user, service provider etc. As a result, 702(17) can actually be used to locate where the phone (and user) was located on a specific date or sequentially over a specific period of time which is simply a matter of changing the date parameters.
And that's just from a phone number.
Search an ip address ''about'' and read all data into that server; put in an email address and gain everything about that account. Or use the electronic address of a GPS enabled vehicle (about) and you can withdraw more electronic data and monitor in real time. Search a credit card number and get everything about the account including what was purchased, where, when, etc. Search a bank account number, get everything about transactions and electronic records etc. Just about anything and everything can be electronically searched; everything has an electronic 'identifier'.
The search parameter is only limited by the originating field filled out. Names, places, numbers, addresses, etc. By using the ''About'' parameter there may be thousands or millions of returns. Imagine if you put ''@realdonaldtrump'' into the search parameter? You could extract all following accounts who interacted on Twitter, or Facebook etc. You are only limited by your imagination and the scale of the electronic connectivity.
As you can see below, on March 9th, 2016, internal auditors noted the FBI was sharing ''raw FISA information, including but not limited to Section 702-acquired information''.
In plain English the raw search returns were being shared with unknown entities without any attempt to ''minimize'' or redact the results. The person(s) attached to the results were named and obvious. There was no effort to hide their identity or protect their 4th amendment rights of privacy:
But what's the scale here? This is where the story really lies.
Read this next excerpt carefully.
The operators were searching ''U.S Persons''. The review of November 1, 2015, to May 1, 2016, showed ''eighty-five percent of those queries'' were unlawful or ''non compliant''.
85% !! ''representing [redacted number]''.We can tell from the space of the redaction the number of searches were between 1,000 and 9,999 [five digits]. If we take the middle number of 5,000 '' that means 4,250 unlawful searches out of 5,000.
The [five digit] amount (more than 1,000, less than 10,000), and 85% error rate, was captured in a six month period.
Also notice this very important quote: ''many of these non-compliant queries involved the use of the same identifiers over different date ranges.'' So they were searching the same phone number, email address, electronic ''identifier'', or people, repeatedly over different dates. Specific people were being tracked/monitored.
Additionally, notice the last quote: ''while the government reports it is unable to provide a reliable estimate of'' these non lawful searches ''since 2012, there is no apparent reason to believe the November 2015 [to] April 2016 coincided with an unusually high error rate''.
That means the 85% unlawful FISA-702(16)(17) database abuse has likely been happening since 2012. (Again, remember that date, 2012) Who was FBI Director? Who was his chief-of-staff? Who was CIA Director? ODNI? etc. Remember, the NSA is inside the Pentagon (Defense Dept) command structure. Who was Defense Secretary? And finally, who wrote and signed-off-on the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment?
Tens of thousands of searches over four years (since 2012), and 85% of them are illegal. The results were extracted for?'.... (I believe this is all political opposition use; and I'll explain why momentarily.)
OK, that's the stunning scale; but who was involved?
Private contractors with access to ''raw FISA information that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to FBI's requests'':
And as noted, the contractor access was finally halted on April 18th, 2016.
[Coincidentally (or not), the wife of Fusion-GPS founder Glenn Simpson, Mary Jacoby, goes to the White House the next day on April 19th, 2016.]
None of this is conspiracy theory.
All of this is laid out inside this 99-page opinion from FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer who also noted that none of this FISA abuse was accidental in a footnote on page 87: ''deliberate decisionmaking'':
Summary of this aspect: The FISA court identified and quantified tens-of-thousands of search queries of the NSA/FBI database using the FISA-702(16)(17) system. The database was repeatedly used by persons with contractor access who unlawfully searched and extracted the raw results without redacting the information and shared it with an unknown number of entities.
The outlined process certainly points toward a political spying and surveillance operation; and we are not the only one to think that's what this system is being used for.
Back in 2017 when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was working to reauthorize the FISA legislation, Nunes wrote a letter to ODNI Dan Coats about this specific issue:
SIDEBAR: To solve the issue, well, actually attempt to ensure it never happened again, NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers eventually took away the ''About'' query option permanently in 2017. NSA Director Rogers said the abuse was so inherent there was no way to stop it except to remove the process completely. [SEE HERE] Additionally, the NSA database operates as a function of the Pentagon, so the Trump administration went one step further. On his last day as NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers -together with ODNI Dan Coats- put U.S. cyber-command, the database steward, fully into the U.S. military as a full combatant command. [SEE HERE]
There is little doubt the FISA-702(16)(17) database system was used by Obama-era officials, from 2012 through April 2016, as a way to spy on their political opposition. Quite simply there is no other intellectually honest explanation for the scale and volume of database abuse that was taking place.
When we reconcile what was taking place and who was involved, then the actions of the exact same principle participants take on a jaw-dropping amount of clarity.
All of the action taken by CIA Director Brennan, FBI Director Comey, ODNI Clapper and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter make sense. Including their effort to get NSA Director Mike Rogers fired.
Everything after March 9th, 2016, was done to cover up the weaponization of the FISA database. [Explained Here] Spygate, Russia-Gate, the Steele Dossier, and even the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (drawn from the dossier and signed by the above) were needed to create a cover-story and protect themselves from discovery of this four year weaponization, political surveillance and unlawful spying. Even the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel makes sense; he was FBI Director when this began.
The beginning decision to use FISA(702) as a domestic surveillance and political spy mechanism appears to have started in/around 2012. Perhaps sometime shortly before the 2012 presidential election and before John Brennan left the White House and moved to CIA. However, there was an earlier version of data assembly that preceded this effort.
Political spying 1.0 was actually the weaponization of the IRS. This is where the term ''Secret Research Project'' originated as a description from the Obama team. It involved the U.S. Department of Justice under Eric Holder and the FBI under Robert Mueller. It never made sense why Eric Holder requested over 1 million tax records via CD ROM, until overlaying the timeline of the FISA abuse:
The IRS sent the FBI ''21 disks constituting a 1.1 million page database of information from 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.'' The transaction occurred in October 2010 (link)
Why disks? Why send a stack of DISKS to the DOJ and FBI when there's a pre-existing financial crimes unit within the IRS. All of the evidence within this sketchy operation came directly to the surface in early spring 2012.
The IRS scandal was never really about the IRS, it was always about the DOJ asking the IRS for the database of information. That is why it was transparently a conflict when the same DOJ was tasked with investigating the DOJ/IRS scandal. Additionally, Obama sent his chief-of-staff Jack Lew to become Treasury Secretary; effectively placing an ally to oversee/cover-up any issues. As Treasury Secretary Lew did just that.
Lesson Learned '' It would appear the Obama administration learned a lesson from attempting to gather a large opposition research database operation inside a functioning organization large enough to have some good people that might blow the whistle.
The timeline reflects a few months after realizing the ''Secret Research Project'' was now worthless (June 2012), they focused more deliberately on a smaller network within the intelligence apparatus and began weaponizing the FBI/NSA database.
How this all comes together in 2019Fusion GPS was not hired in April 2016 to research Donald Trump. As shown in the evidence provided by the FISC, the intelligence community was already doing surveillance and spy operations. The Obama administration already knew everything about the Trump campaign, and were monitoring everything by exploiting the FISA database.
However, after the NSA alerts in/around March 9th, 2016, and particularly after the April 18th shutdown of contractor access, the Obama intelligence community needed Fusion GPS to create a legal albeit ex post facto justification for the pre-existing surveillance and spy operations. Fusion GPS gave them that justification in the Steele Dossier.
That's why the FBI small group, which later transitioned into the Mueller team, are so strongly committed to and defending the formation of the Steele Dossier and its dubious content. The Steele Dossier contains the cover-story and justification for the surveillance operation.
During a rather innocuous podcast discussion panel April 12th, 2019, one of President Trump's personal lawyers Jay Sekulow mentioned the FBI had three FISA applications denied by the FISA court in 2016. [Podcast Here '' Note comment at 25:05] The denials were always suspected; however, until now no-one in/around the administration has ever confirmed.
If Sekulow is accurate, this adds additional context to the actions of the FBI in the aftermath of Admiral Mike Rogers and an increased urgency in gaining legal justification for surveillance and spy operation unlawfully taking place. A valid FISA warrant would help the FBI cover-up the surveillance. The likely targets were Manafort, Flynn and Papadopoulos'.... but it appears the DOJ/FBI were rebuked.
These FISC denials would then initiate institutional panic dependent on the election outcome. An insurance policy would be needed. The Steele Dossier becomes the investigative virus the FBI wanted inside the system. To get the virus into official status, they used the FISA application as the delivery method and injected it into Carter Page. The FBI already knew Carter Page; essentially Carter Page was irrelevant, what they needed was the FISA warrant and the Dossier in the system {Go Deep}.
Fusion GPS was not hired to research Trump, the intelligence community was already doing surveillance and spy operations. The intelligence community needed Fusion GPS to give them a plausible justification for already existing surveillance and spy operations.
Fusion-GPS gave them the justification they needed for a FISA warrant with the Steele Dossier. Ultimately that's why the Steele Dossier is so important; without it, the DOJ and FBI are naked with their FISA-702 abuse as outlined by John Ratcliffe.
'... Prove the July 31st, 2016, Crossfire Hurricane operation originated from fraud by exposing the CIA operation that created the originating ''Electronic Communication'' memo. Declassify that two-page ''EC'' document that Brennan gave to Comey.
'... Release and declassify all of the Comey memos that document the investigative steps taken by the FBI as an outcome of the operation coordinated by CIA Director John Brennan in early 2016.
'... Reveal the November 2015 through April 2016 FISA-702 search query abuse by declassifying the April 2017 court opinion written by FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer. Show the FBI contractors behind the 85% fraudulent search queries. [Crowdstrike? Fusion-GPS? Nellie Ohr?]
'... Subpoena former DOJ-NSD (National Security Division) head John Carlin, or haul him in front of a grand jury, and get his testimony about why he hid the abuse from the FISA court in October 2016; why the DOJ-NSD rushed the Carter Page application to beat NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to the FISA court; and why Carlin quit immediately thereafter. Squeeze this bastard's nuts in the proverbial legal vice.
'... Prove the Carter Page FISA application (October 2016) was fraudulent and based on deceptions to the FISA Court. Declassify the entire document, and release the transcripts of those who signed the application(s); and/or depose those who have not yet testified.
'... Release all of the Lisa Page and Peter Strzok text messages without redactions. Let sunlight pour in on the actual conversation(s) that were taking place when Crossfire Hurricane (July '16) and the FISA Application (Oct '16) were taking place.
'... Release all of Bruce Ohr 302's, FBI notes from interviews and debriefing sessions, and other relevant documents associated with the interviews of Bruce Ohr and his internal communications. Including exculpatory evidence that Bruce Ohr may have shared with FBI Agent Joseph Pientka. [And get a deposition from this Pientka fella]
'... Release the August 2nd, 2017, two-page scope memo provided by DAG Rod Rosenstein to special counsel Robert Mueller to advance the fraudulent Trump investigation, and initiate the more purposeful obstruction of justice investigation. Also Release the October 20th, 2017, second scope memo recently discovered.
Mueller Has Been Botching Investigations Since The Anthrax Attacks
Wed, 24 Apr 2019 11:54
Mystery surrounds Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russia and President Trump. Some think he is the ultimate professional, others that he is a Democrat lackey, still others maintain he is working on Trump's side.
We can see how he works if we look at how Mueller ran his second-most important investigation as FBI Director. In September of 2001, an entity began mailing anthrax through the US Postal system, hitting such prominent targets as NBC and Senator Daschle's office. The terrorist attacks killed five and left others hospitalized. The world panicked.
Under Mueller's management, the FBI launched an investigation lasting ten years. They now brag about spending ''hundreds of thousands of investigator hours on this case.'' Let's take a closer look at Mueller's response to understand the context of the investigation '-- who his people investigated, targeted, and found guilty.
The anthrax letters began just a week after the 9/11 attack. While planning the airplane hijackings, Al-Qaeda had been weaponizing anthrax, setting up a lab in Afghanistan manned by Yazid Sufaat, the same man who housed two of the 9/11 hijackers. Two hijackers later sought medical help due to conditions consistent with infection via anthrax: Al Haznawi went to the emergency room for a skin lesion which he claimed was from ''bumping into a suitcase,'' and ringleader Mohamed Atta needed medicine for ''skin irritation.'' A team of bioterrorism experts from Johns Hopkins confirmed that anthrax was the most likely cause of the lesion. Meanwhile, the 9/11 hijackers were also trying to obtain crop-dusting airplanes.
So how did Mueller's investigative team handle the case?
Mueller issued a statement in October of 2001, while anthrax victims were still dying: the FBI had found ''no direct link to organized terrorism.'' The Johns Hopkins team of experts was mistaken, the FBI continued, Al Haznawi never had an anthrax infection. The crop-dusting airplanes they needed was possibly for a separate and unrelated anthrax attack.
A few weeks later, the FBI released a remarkable profile of the attacker. FBI experts eschewed analysis of the content of the letters, where it was written in bold block letters, ''Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is Great.'' Instead, they focused on a ''linguistic analysis,'' stating that the letter's writer was atypical in many respects and not ''comfortable or practiced in writing in lower case lettering.'' The FBI therefore concluded that it was likely a disgruntled American with bad personal skills.
The investigators hypothesized that the attacker was a lonely American who had wanted to kill people with anthrax for some undefined time period, but then became ''mission oriented'' following 9/11 and immediately prepared and mailed the deadly spores while pretending to be a Muslim.
Mueller's FBI honed in on Steven Hatfill as the culprit '-- a ''flag-waving'' American, who had served in the Army, then dedicated himself to protecting America from bioterrorist threats by working in the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
There was no direct link from Hatfill to the attacks, by the FBI's own admission, and the bureau never charged Hatfill. The FBI did however spy on, follow, and harass him non-stop for years. The Department of Justice also publicly outed Hatfill as the possible terrorist.
While Hatfill's dignity and life was being trampled on by America's secret police, Mueller took a stand. But on a different topic. He made front page news for threatening President Bush he would resign over NSA policy. All while his own team was trampling on the rights of an American in the FBI's largest-ever investigation.
Hatfill successfully sued the government for its unlawful actions. He won almost $6 million dollars.
After the Hatfill investigation blew up in the FBI's face, they moved on to Bruce Ivins, another Army researcher who had actually volunteered to help the FBI investigate this case, and had been doing so for years. It wasn't until five years after the attack that Mueller's men decided Ivins was a target.
The FBI case against Ivins, once again, was based on circumstantial evidence.
The prosecution stated Ivins purposefully gave a misleading sample of anthrax spore, but Frontline documented this was not true. Ivins was ''familiar'' with the area from which the anthrax letters were mailed, the FBI said, but Pulitzer Prize winning ProPublica lays out the accepted facts of the case showing it was impossible for Ivins to make the trip to mail the letters.
The spores used in the attacks were a similar type to the laboratory spores where Ivins worked, but that ignored the fact that the anthrax letters had a unique additive '-- so sophisticated and dangerous a scientist commented, ''This is not your mother's anthrax'' '-- that was likely produced by a nation state or Al-Qaeda.
Ivins was never indicted, just given the Hatfill treatment. His house was raided, and he was threatened with a death sentence, or as his lawyer put it, put under ''relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo.'' He committed suicide.
One week later, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor stated Ivins was guilty ''beyond a reasonable doubt,'' and they were ''confident that Dr. Ivins was the only person responsible for these attacks.''
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, one of the intended victims of the anthrax terror attacks, did not believe that Ivins was the sole actor. Mueller ordered an independent audit of the FBI's case by the National Academy of Sciences, then formally closed the case in 2010, sticking with the conclusion that Ivins, and Ivins alone, committed the terror attack. One year later the NAS released their results and confirmed what many scientists had been repeating for years: the FBI's science and conclusions were not solid.
A former FBI official involved in the investigation sued the FBI, alleging the FBI concealed evidence exculpatory to Ivins.
Mueller made his position known, saying, ''I do not apologize for any aspect of this investigation,'' and stated that the FBI had made no mistakes.
The investigation was an unmitigated disaster for America. Mueller didn't go after al-Qaida for the anthrax letters because he couldn't find a direct link. But then he targeted American citizens without showing a direct link. For his deeds, he had the second longest tenure as FBI Director ever, and was roundly applauded by nearly everyone (except Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert).
Now he's running the Trump-Russia investigation.
Copyright (C) 2019 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.
Bob Woodward: Mueller has 'something' on Trump - Business Insider
Wed, 24 Apr 2019 12:49
Bob Woodward on Friday said he believes special counsel Robert Mueller has "something" on President Donald Trump. Yuri Gripas / Reuters Veteran reporter Bob Woodward on Friday told radio host Hugh Hewitt he looked "hard" for evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia but didn't find anything. But he still thinks the special counsel Robert Mueller has "something" on the president. Woodward suggested Mueller possibly has "a secret witness or somebody who has changed their testimony." Trump has firmly rejected allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russia in the 2016 US presidential election and often refers to the Mueller probe as a "witch hunt." Veteran reporter Bob Woodward on Friday told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt he looked "hard" for evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia but didn't find anything.
But he still thinks the special counsel Robert Mueller has "something" on the president.
Hewitt had Woodward on his show to discuss the reporter's new book, "Fear," which portrays the Trump administration as mired in consistent turmoil. The book paints a picture that suggests Trump's advisers don't respect him and often work against his impulsive nature.
At one point during the show, Hewitt began discussing Trump's former lawyer, John Dowd, who has strongly urged Trump not to sit down for an interview with the special counsel. This discussion led to the subject of collusion.
"Did you, Bob Woodward, hear anything in your research in your interviews that sounded like espionage or collusion?" Hewitt asked Woodward.
"I did not, and of course, I looked for it, looked for it hard. And so you know, there we are," Woodward said.
The reporter then added that he believes Mueller likely has "something" on Trump.
"We're going to see what Mueller has, and Dowd may be right," Woodward said. "He has something that Dowd and the president don't know about, a secret witness or somebody who has changed their testimony. As you know, that often happens, and that can break open or turn a case."
Trump has firmly rejected allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russia in the 2016 US presidential election and often refers to the Mueller probe as a "witch hunt."
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U.S. to Clamp Down on Iranian Oil Sales, Risking Rise in Gasoline Prices - The New York Times
Mon, 22 Apr 2019 11:52
Image An Iranian oil production platform in the Persian Gulf. The United States is pushing to end all Iranian oil exports. Credit Credit Vahid Salemi/Associated Press NEW ORLEANS '-- The Trump administration is poised to end a program that has allowed five large nations, including China and India, to buy Iranian oil despite American sanctions, two senior American officials said on Sunday, a decision that is intended to squeeze Tehran's government but could lead to higher oil and gasoline prices.
The move to choke off all exports of Iranian oil is part of an increasingly aggressive pressure campaign by the Trump administration to starve Iran of revenue with the goals of forcing political change among its ruling clerics and getting it to rein in its military actions across the Middle East.
But the decision also risks increasing frictions with other nations, including some major American allies, and hindering other policy priorities, particularly trade talks with China and cooperation from Beijing on containing North Korea.
Since May 2018, when President Trump withdrew from a nuclear deal that the United States and other major world powers reached with Iran in 2015, the Trump administration has relied on economic sanctions as the core tactic of its campaign.
In November, when the Trump administration announced major sanctions against Iran, it granted waivers to eight governments allowing them to continue purchasing oil from the country. The governments were supposed to gradually decrease the amount of oil they were buying and bring their oil imports from Iran to zero. Three of those '-- Taiwan, Italy and Greece '-- never used their waivers and have ended Iranian oil imports.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected on Monday to announce the end of all the waivers. Now countries that do not stop buying Iranian oil could face economic penalties themselves.
Iran's two largest customers, China and India, have continued buying oil under the waivers, as have three American allies or partners: South Korea, Japan and Turkey. Just last week, a senior adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Ibrahim Kalin, told reporters in Washington that the Turkish government expected the United States to continue giving Turkey a waiver.
''We know that the sanctions regime will not really produce the results that they're expected to produce in terms of changing Iranian behavior,'' he said.
As word of the decision, first reported on Sunday by The Washington Post, reached oil traders, global crude prices rose 3 percent early Monday morning in Asia. Brent crude futures climbed to more than $74 a barrel, the highest level since October.
Image Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected on Monday to announce the end of the waivers for importing Iranian oil. Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, said summer drivers could well see higher gasoline prices than last year.
''Last summer didn't go above $3 a gallon as a national average, but this summer, if we don't have Iranian oil we probably do go over $3,'' he said.
The question of whether to continue the waivers, which expire May 2, has been a subject of intense debate in Washington in recent weeks. John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, strongly advocated discontinuing the waivers, while Mr. Pompeo had been advised by some State Department officials to continue them.
On April 4, 23 Republican senators sent a letter to Mr. Trump urging him to end the waivers. Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, the center of the American oil industry, led the effort.
Days later, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, pressed Mr. Pompeo in a Senate hearing on the waivers and urged him to end two separate sets of waivers, one to allow some countries to purchase oil from Iran and the other to allow some countries to work with Iran on a civilian nuclear program.
On Sunday, Clifford D. May, the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a strong supporter of the sanctions, praised the administration's decision.
''President Trump sees that without a maximum pressure campaign, the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran may be able to hunker down and attempt to wait him out,'' he said. ''Cutting off their oil exports will make that much more difficult.''
Saudi Arabia has also wanted an end to the waivers because Iran is its main foe. Saudi officials were disappointed in the drop in global oil prices after the waivers were granted in November. They had expected the Trump administration to impose maximum sanctions on Iran and had ramped up their own oil production to make up for the Iranian oil going off the market.
Since mid-February, oil prices have risen, leading to higher gasoline prices, which Mr. Trump has railed against on Twitter. American officials have had to weigh the potential for a further rise in prices with 2020 elections drawing closer, and the typical surge in energy use coming over the summer.
Iran exports about one million barrels of oil a day, compared with a high last year of 2.7 million before the administration enacted sanctions. Today, Iran provides roughly 1 percent of global supplies, and the administration is betting that will not mean a surge in prices.
But the action comes as world oil prices have risen roughly $20 a barrel since the beginning of the year, as Saudi Arabia and Russia have curbed production. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said last week that he was satisfied with the rise in prices, and that it was premature to reconsider production levels for the second half of the year. Saudi officials have made similar statements.
Image The price of gas in the United States has been rising and is nearing $3 a gallon. Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images Global fuel supplies are beginning to tighten, and refineries in the United States are retooling for the summer driving season to produce gasoline blends that are more expensive. Already, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States has risen 24 cents in the past month, to $2.84, according to the AAA motor club, and that price is 8 cents higher than a year ago.
Middle Eastern oil executives are doubtful Saudi Arabia will immediately decide to pump more oil in part because of frustration over the administration's surprise decision last fall to issue sanction waivers, an action that caused oil prices to plummet below $50 a barrel and put additional pressure on the Saudi government budget, which relies on high oil prices.
''Saudi Arabia could easily compensate for the removal of Iranian barrels from the market, but they will be very cautious not to pump more oil into the system,'' said Badr H. Jafar, president of Crescent Petroleum, based in the United Arab Emirates.
He added, however, that if the sanctions were fully implemented this time, the Kingdom could be expected to help stem a serious oil price hike.
American officials spoke with counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this past week to tell them about the imminent end to the waivers in the hope that the Gulf nations would increase their oil production, a senior American official said. On Thursday, Mr. Trump spoke by phone with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates. The White House said the two spoke about the effects of the ''crippling sanctions on Iran'' and ''U.A.E.'s contributions to the global energy markets as a reliable supplier of oil.''
The American move to stop all Iranian oil exports particularly hits China at a time when Beijing and the Trump administration had seemed to be moving toward a resolution of their trade war in the next several weeks. China's leaders have long made clear they do not want the United States to dictate where and how China buys its energy.
But American and Chinese officials have said they would like to compartmentalize the trade issue and not let other issues interfere, like frictions between Washington and Beijing over North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. So it is unclear whether a dispute over Iranian oil would disrupt the trade talks, which are expected to resume in Beijing in a week.
India faces potential problems of its own: It imports four-fifths of its oil, and Iran is one of its main suppliers. If the American action causes oil prices to jump, that could affect the Indian financial markets immediately and the Indian economy soon after.
Financial and economic problems now could come at a particularly bad time for India, which is a third of the way through seven weeks of voting in the world's largest national elections.
Japanese refiners halted Iranian oil shipments three weeks ago, and South Korea has been sharply decreasing Iranian imports in recent weeks after warehousing supplies. But the move still could strain relations with the two American allies, which depend heavily on foreign oil. The American and South Korean governments are already trying to negotiate differences over policy on North Korea.
The Trump administration has shown itself willing to take increasingly stiff measures against Iran, even over the objections of some of its own officials. On April 8, the Trump administration said it was designating as a foreign terrorist organization the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a powerful unit in the Iranian military. It was the first time the United States had applied that label to part of another nation's government. Top Pentagon and C.I.A. officials objected to the move, saying it could place American troops and intelligence officers at greater risk of reprisal by Iran.
Edward Wong reported from New Orleans, and Clifford Krauss reported from Houston. David E. Sanger contributed reporting from Washington, and Keith Bradsher from Delhi.
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Tue, 23 Apr 2019 12:11
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A Review of the Effects of Major Atmospheric Pollutants on Pollen Grains, Pollen Content, and Allergenicity
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 12:42
ScientificWorldJournal . 2015; 2015: 940243.
H(C)l¨ne S(C)n(C)chal,
1,*Nicolas Visez,
2Denis Charpin,
3Youcef Shahali,
1,4Gabriel Peltre,
5Jean-Philippe Biolley,
6Franck Lhuissier,
7R(C)my Couderc,
8Ohri Yamada,
9Audrey Malrat-Domenge,
9Nhn Pham-Thi,
10Pascal Poncet,
1,11 and
Jean-Pierre Sutra1,*H(C)l¨ne S(C)n(C)chal 1Allergy & Environment Team, Biochemistry Department, Armand Trousseau Children Hospital (AP-HP), 26 avenue du Dr. Arnold Netter, 75571 Paris, France
Nicolas Visez 2Physical Chemistry of Combustion and Atmosphere Processes (PC2A), UMR CNRS 8522, University of Lille, 59655 Villeneuve d'Ascq, France
Denis Charpin 3Pneumo-Allergology Department, North Hospital, 265 chemin des Bourrely, 13915 Marseille 20, France
Youcef Shahali 1Allergy & Environment Team, Biochemistry Department, Armand Trousseau Children Hospital (AP-HP), 26 avenue du Dr. Arnold Netter, 75571 Paris, France
4Persiflore, 18 avenue du Parc, 91220 Le Plessis-Pt(C), France
Gabriel Peltre 5CNRS, 75794 Paris 16, France
Jean-Philippe Biolley 6SEVE Team, Ecology and Biology of Interactions (EBI), UMR-CNRS-UP 7267, University of Poitiers, 3 rue Jacques Fort, 86073 Poitiers, France
Franck Lhuissier 7KeyGene, P.O. Box 216, 6708 AE Wageningen, Netherlands
R(C)my Couderc 8Biochemistry Department, Armand Trousseau Children Hospital (AP-HP), 26 avenue du Dr. Arnold Netter, 75571 Paris 12, France
Ohri Yamada 9French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety, 14 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 94701 Maisons-Alfort, France
Audrey Malrat-Domenge 9French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety, 14 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 94701 Maisons-Alfort, France
Nhn Pham-Thi 10Allergology Department, Pasteur Institute, 25-28 rue du Dr. Roux, 75724 Paris 15, France
Pascal Poncet 1Allergy & Environment Team, Biochemistry Department, Armand Trousseau Children Hospital (AP-HP), 26 avenue du Dr. Arnold Netter, 75571 Paris, France
11Infections & Epidemiology Department, Pasteur Institute, 25-28 rue du Dr. Roux, 75724 Paris 15, France
Jean-Pierre Sutra 1Allergy & Environment Team, Biochemistry Department, Armand Trousseau Children Hospital (AP-HP), 26 avenue du Dr. Arnold Netter, 75571 Paris, France
1Allergy & Environment Team, Biochemistry Department, Armand Trousseau Children Hospital (AP-HP), 26 avenue du Dr. Arnold Netter, 75571 Paris, France
2Physical Chemistry of Combustion and Atmosphere Processes (PC2A), UMR CNRS 8522, University of Lille, 59655 Villeneuve d'Ascq, France
3Pneumo-Allergology Department, North Hospital, 265 chemin des Bourrely, 13915 Marseille 20, France
4Persiflore, 18 avenue du Parc, 91220 Le Plessis-Pt(C), France
5CNRS, 75794 Paris 16, France
6SEVE Team, Ecology and Biology of Interactions (EBI), UMR-CNRS-UP 7267, University of Poitiers, 3 rue Jacques Fort, 86073 Poitiers, France
7KeyGene, P.O. Box 216, 6708 AE Wageningen, Netherlands
8Biochemistry Department, Armand Trousseau Children Hospital (AP-HP), 26 avenue du Dr. Arnold Netter, 75571 Paris 12, France
9French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety, 14 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 94701 Maisons-Alfort, France
10Allergology Department, Pasteur Institute, 25-28 rue du Dr. Roux, 75724 Paris 15, France
11Infections & Epidemiology Department, Pasteur Institute, 25-28 rue du Dr. Roux, 75724 Paris 15, France
Academic Editor: Costas Varotsos
Received 2015 Jun 4; Revised 2015 Oct 30; Accepted 2015 Nov 9.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This article has been
cited by other articles in PMC.
AbstractThis review summarizes the available data related to the effects of air pollution on pollen grains from different plant species. Several studies carried out either on in situ harvested pollen or on pollen exposed in different places more or less polluted are presented and discussed. The different experimental procedures used to monitor the impact of pollution on pollen grains and on various produced external or internal subparticles are listed. Physicochemical and biological effects of artificial pollution (gaseous and particulate) on pollen from different plants, in different laboratory conditions, are considered. The effects of polluted pollen grains, subparticles, and derived aeroallergens in animal models, in in vitro cell culture, on healthy human and allergic patients are described. Combined effects of atmospheric pollutants and pollen grains-derived biological material on allergic population are specifically discussed. Within the notion of ''polluen,'' some methodological biases are underlined and research tracks in this field are proposed.
1. IntroductionAtmospheric pollution has to be considered nowadays as one of the main characteristics of areas where, worldwide, human population density is at high level. From the middle of the 19th century to now, its increase is huge in some continents and very important in many others. Heede recently asserted that the highest anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions originated from less than 100 commercial and state-owned entities, worldwide, from 1854 to 2010 [1]. The atmospheric pollution by gases and particulate matter affects many rural, industrial, and urban sites [2''4]. In the last report of the European Environment Agency, it is possible to read that up to 96% of the European Union's urban population is currently exposed to fine particulate matter concentrations above World Health Organization guidelines [5]. It is thus undeniable that atmospheric pollution plays a major role in all age groups' health [6''10].
In addition to pollutants gases and particles emitted consecutively to human activities, the atmosphere is the medium of transit for a wide variety of biogenic particles. Among biogenic particles, the bioaerosol consists of very different types of particles like viruses, bacteria, mold, plant fibers, or pollen with a broadly open size distribution from tens of nanometers to a few hundred micrometers. It is known for quite long that these particles are very active for very diverse potential diseases [11''15]. Among them, pollen grains are a real concern in allergy [16]. If pollen is one of the main agents in the reproduction system for thousands of plant species, from Gymnosperms to Angiosperms, it is at the same time a real contributor of the total bioaerosol mass. Based on the concentration of phospholipids, Womiloju et al. reported that cell materials of fungi and pollen could contribute 4''11% of the total particulate matter < 2.5'‰Î¼m (PM2.5) mass and 12''22% of organic carbon in fine particulate matter (PM) [17]. It is also the direct carrier of water- and non-water-soluble allergens as well as the vector for outer and inner subparticles for which various allergens were recently characterized. When broken, the pollen grains of anemophilous plants are also the vectors of fragments. Many of these fragments are able to diffuse airborne allergens as can do innate pollen subparticles [16] https://www.anses.fr/sites/default/files/documents/AIR2011sa0151EN.pdf. It has already been written that the most frequent aeroallergens derive from pollen [18]. Some of the effects of pollution on this specific fraction of the global bioaerosols are already known and reviewed [19''31]. What is proposed here is focusing on the diversity of approaches that were chosen in order to study, at different scales and for different pollutant sources, year after year and decade after decade, the various links between atmospheric pollution, airborne pollen, allergenicity, and allergy. Through updated literature, this review aims also to take into account both the potential methodological biases and different tracks for new more standardized research way in the aerosol-allergy field.
2. Effects of Pollutants on Pollen Grains and Pollen ContentAtmospheric pollutants may have the following direct effects on pollen: (a) modifications of their biological and reproduction functions: decrease in viability and germination, (b) alteration of the physicochemical characteristics of the pollen surface, (c) change in the allergenic potential, and (d) adjuvant effect increasing their potential health hazards. To experimentally investigate these effects and depending on scientific goals, pollen may be either fumigated in laboratory facilities with artificially generated pollutants or directly exposed to outdoor atmospheric pollution.
2.1. Pollen Exposure in Outdoor/Field Experiments2.1.1. Localization and Experimental Conditions Two main groups of field experiments on polluted pollen material can be defined. In the first one, the research is done on collected pollen (passive exposure) and collected particles from pollen grains. In the second one, some pollen material is exposed in different polluted zones within a specified period (transplant method). Passive exposure has for main advantage to provide a realistic pollution pattern and to integrate the short and long term effects of pollutants on plants. A lot of pollutants may interact with pollen and plants, including soil pollution, and in this kind of studies the real exposure is very difficult, even impossible, to evaluate. Confounding factors are other important parameters to keep in mind, including and not limited to sunlight exposure, health and individual (genetic) susceptibility of plant, and wet and dry deposition. Transplantation method has the main advantage of eliminating confounding factors due to heterogeneities in the history of the plant, exposure, or individual susceptibility [35''37].
(1) Collected Material
(i) Whole Pollen Grains. Whatever the geographical locations, different approaches were proposed. The most common is the comparison scheme in which the material to be studied is collected both in a polluted zone (town center and road/highway sides) and in a control zone (rural suburbs in many cases and mountainous zones) [38''40]. Some other studies focused on zones known for their different levels of regularly measured pollution in order to compare the pollen material at the different polluted sites [41, 42]. Transects were also used, for instance, along a specific road [43] or according to the altitude [44, 45]. In different continents, some authors investigated forest zones [46''51], sometimes under specific sophisticated ecological protocols [52] including the simulation of acid rain on selected trees from experimental orchards before the collect phase of pollen material [53]. Among other forest studies, a comparison of polluted versus nonpolluted populations was proposed. Using polluted pine pollen (Pinus sylvestris), the potential influence on pollen vigor and then seed yield produced in nonpolluted zones where polluted pollen can be transported for long distance has been investigated [54]. Finally, some research propositions chose a set of sampling places from 10 (around a factory producing copper, nickel, sulfuric acid, and fertilizers) [55] to larger than 10, for instance, the study by Armentia et al. [56] or the one by Citterio's team from Milano on the Lombardy Po river plain region (Italy) [57]. The choice of plants is very large, from ornamental plants [58''60] to different trees [39], the pollen of which being known as allergenic or not. Nevertheless, a relatively high percentage of studies focused on a reduced number of pollen grains like allergenic Betula, Ambrosia, and grass ones in Europe, whereas in Japan the interest was often on Cryptomeria and/or other Cupressaceae which are locally among the major allergenic pollen sources. Such studies on collected pollen are the most numerous regarding field experiments.
(ii) Pollen-Derived Particles and Free Allergens. Several research groups could experiment, in urban polluted air, on detection of subparticles such as aeroallergens issued from weed [57] and tree [61] pollen. When analyzing the ambient air samples, it was possible to show that some airborne antigens were mainly adsorbed to combustion particles (soots) that have a very large surface-to-volume ratio. They can thus fly as depots on diesel exhaust particles (DEP) generated from transportation [62]. They can also be associated with the presence of alkaline rainwater in polluted zones (experiments on atmospheric Cry j 1 from Cryptomeria japonica pollen) [63]. The technical device used for such detection combined, for instance, (i) Andersen high-volume sampler allowing collecting, on quartz fiber filters, size-segregated particles from less than 1.1'‰Î¼m to 7'‰Î¼m and (ii) surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technology enabling through monoclonal antibodies binding to ensure atmospheric allergen detection.
(2) Exposed Pollen. In this specific kind of experimental design, the source pollen material is exposed both in polluted zones and in control zones in small bags (made, for instance, with either polyester thread or nylon) or other container-like equipment. The purpose is to get a semiquantitative value of the direct effect of measured global pollution on a known pollen powder weight. Such experiments were proposed in Europe on Betula, Fagus, and Dactylis pollen [41, 64''68] and sometimes at different places [69] (for instance, comparison of 2 different towns). In some Middle East regions, studies on exposed pollen were performed on herbs and trees [58, 59, 70, 71].
2.1.2. Physicochemical Effects of Atmospheric Pollution on Pollen (1) External Surface of Grains. Different effects of pollution on external surface of exine were demonstrated by several teams on collected as well as on exposed pollen material. They used mainly light microscopy as well as scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) and transmission electronic microscopy (TEM). The most prominent results in many experiments show that exposure to the ambient air pollution increased the fragility of exine. It causes collapse and numerous cracks in its surface according to the initial fragility of this specific external pollen membrane. For instance, Cupressaceae pollen exines, rather thin [72], are clearly more easily fragilized [39, 73, 74] than some other pollen grains from other plant species/families. Regarding airborne PM, Chehregani and Madj's team showed that a large part of it can accumulate on the surface of pollen grains and change the shape and tectum of pollen [58, 75] what was also shown on exposed pollen (Dactylis glomerata and Betula verrucosa) in the Mulhouse town experiments [67, 68].
When comparing pollen (Chenopodium album) from northern Portugal's rural zone to some other materials from the city of Porto, Abreu's team could demonstrate that the first one has opercula well defined, while in the urban pollen there is a fine film covering its wall and opercula are deformed. Through micro-Raman spectroscopy analysis, it was possible to evidence that some carbon-containing particles are adsorbed and accumulated on the surface of the studied material [76]. Amjad and Shafighi showed also surface deposits on Chenopodium album collected pollen under polluted conditions [77]. But even on light microscopy (400x), Adhikari et al. reported finding Ambrosia pollen grains covered with black particulate matter in the analyzed airborne material from Cincinnati (OH, USA) [78].
(2) Elemental Composition. When studying the elemental composition, the analytic device used was, for instance, made of different combined techniques like energy dispersive X-ray (EDAX), secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) imaging, electron spectrometry for chemical analysis (ESCA), and also emission electron probe microanalyzer (EPMA) [79''81]. If, in terms of mineral composition, K is the dominant element in freshly harvested pollen from anemophilous plants [69, 82], several other mineral ions can, of course, also be found [73]. Among various metal trace elements (MTE), at various sampling zones in Stockholm, increased quantities of Zn were found for the polluted Betula pollen (SIMS experiment) [66]. Differential concentration of Pb in pollen is attested in material from Compositae according to its presence in zones where the pollen was collected [83]. Apart from Zn and Pb, Cu was also investigated on several Gymnosperm and Angiosperm trees by Cox in relationship with pH changes [47]. Nevertheless, from a screening of different studies [71, 73, 79, 81, 84], it seems difficult to find convergent changes in the modification of elemental composition (polluted versus unpolluted), even if, as mentioned by Oleksyn et al. on Pinus sylvestris forest population, enhanced accumulation by pollen of such elements as Al, Mn, Cu, Ni, and Cd, for instance, may adversely affect pollen function [51].
(3) Chemical Compounds Adsorbed on Grains. An increase in concentrations of total flavonoids (HPLC analysis) is detectable when comparing pollen (Thuja orientalis) from polluted and unpolluted sites [39]. Rezanejad suggested that some plant defense mechanisms initiated higher flavonoids biosynthesis in pollen affected by airborne particulate matter. In the Kanto region (Greater Tokyo Area, Japan), Wang's team showed on another pollen from the same Cupressaceae family (Cryptomeria japonica) that the amount of ionic components of both particles (NO3'', SO42'', and NH4+) and gaseous pollutants (NO2, SO2, and NH3) deposited on perigonium and pollen grains was higher in urban polluted zone than in mountainous areas [40].
2.1.3. Effects of Outdoor Atmospheric Pollution (1) Pollen Biological and Reproduction Functions. The various studies carried out, mainly from the end of the 1960s to the 1980s, on the effects of acid rains on different tree pollen from European and American forests, were before all designed in order to know more about the pollen germination and viability under polluted conditions. The forest's health and its reproduction were thus at the very center of the investigations. Even if forest-oriented and/or agro-oriented, such research ways, still recently active [52], give elements that can help achieve a better understanding on pollen content changes and may be also on the most significant proteins involved in such viability changes, some of which could be implicated in allergy diseases.
In the ''exposed pollen'' part of the Mulhouse town (France) experiments [80], the viability and germination tests clearly showed that the freshly harvested pollen material lost totally its biological and reproduction functions in industrial and high-traffic road zones after 2 full days of exposure for Betula verrucosa and Dactylis glomerata pollen (control, resp., 70% and 87.5% viability). It is not the case for Fagus sylvatica pollen material (68% in high-traffic road zones, 45% in industrial one, and 79% for the control). A decrease in viability and/or germination has been consistently observed for outdoor-polluted pollen of various species: Pinus pinea [85], Pinus nigra Arnold [42], and Pinus sylvestris [48, 54, 86], Betula verrucosa [80] and Betula papyrifera [87], Hedera helix L., Convolvulus sepium L., Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers., Quercus ilex L., Dactylis glomerata L., Parietaria diffusa M. and K., Daucus carota L., Tilia cordata Miller [88], Corylus avellana L., and Rosa rugosa [89].
Even if viability, germination, and allergenicity of pollen grains are not necessarily intercorrelated [90] or simply not fully understood for the moment, it is, for instance, known that, at least for grasses pollen, some proteins like the group-1 grass pollen allergens (β-expansin) play a major role in the reproduction process of these very numerous herbs. Zea m 1 has indeed a large effect on pollen tube growth rates in vivo [91]. It is also known that formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in pollen starts at the early germination stage, before the formation of the pollen tube, generated mainly by NAD(P)H oxidases, in insoluble fractions [92''95]. Thus pollen viability, pollen germination, allergenicity, and air pollution effects on pollen could have some important common points.
(2) Protein Modifications. Different modifications induced by air pollution were evaluated at the protein level. Pollutants can play a role in the variation of protein amount and/or the presence or absence of proteins bands from comparative extracts. For instance, Shahali et al. found a decrease in total protein amount on polluted sites' pollen (Cupressus arizonica in Tehran region) as well as a net decrease of Cup a 1 [73]. In a study on rural versus urban pollen, Guedes et al. observed differences in protein profiles since bands of 16 and 36'‰kDa (from Chenopodium album water-soluble pollen extract) disappeared in the pollen collected from more polluted area [76]. Madj's team also found such protein feature (some protein bands disappearing pattern) when comparing pollen from polluted versus nonpolluted zones for pollen material from different plant species [75].
(3) Allergens Balance and Composition Changes. Regarding the specific proteins called allergens and the modifications induced by air pollution on collected or exposed pollen as well as on pollen-derived material, results are not fully convergent. Some studies like the one developed in Finland along transect did not detect any differences in birch pollen allergenicity according to the studied pollution gradient. The authors indicated then that combined sulfur dioxide and heavy metal pollution do not affect pollen allergens [55]. Some other studies, also on Betula pollen, when exploring urban versus rural areas' pollen extracts using comparative electrophoresis experiments (DIGE) could reveal 26 differences in protein spot intensity of pollen of the two sampling zones. One of these proteins was identified by de novo sequencing as a 14-3-3 protein, which resembles a stress-induced factor in other plant species [96]. The allergen content of exposed Betula pollen (Mulhouse experiments) was noticeably different from the one obtained with clean control pollen [67]. Recently, at the ZAUM (Munich), Traidl-Hoffmann's team found an enhanced allergen content of polluted birch pollen extracts when comparing pollen of both low O3-exposed trees (54'‰Î¼g/m3) and high O3-exposed trees (85'‰Î¼g/m3). An altered composition of adjuvant pollen associated lipid mediators (PALMs) [97], among which are E1-phytoprostanes, was observed with this enhancement of allergenic content [98]. Such results on ozone pollution effect on Betula pollen grains go in the same way as what was reported by another German team 15 years ago on grass pollen [99], showing the importance of O3 as current pollution source of city pollen. In Mediterranean towns and surroundings, some allergens like Cup a 3 (thaumatin-like protein) are mainly expressed in cypress pollen suffering stress condition, for instance, air pollution, because of heavy traffics [100]. By contrast, in pollen obtained from a garden with a low pollution, this protein was not expressed [101]. A rather exhaustive study on Cupressus sempervirens pollen proteome and allergome did not detect Cup s 3 (the equivalent of Cup a 3 for this species) on unpolluted pollen [102]. In another work on pollen from a Gymnosperm species (Pinus radiata), a Spanish group found again O3 effects [103]. From three different sites, (i) from rural sites, (ii) from road site (with healthy trees), and (iii) again from road side but with trees infected by a fungus (potentially more plant defense proteins), pine pollen was collected and several atmospheric pollutants measured (NO2, NO, NOx, O3, PM10, and SO2). The pollen extracts from these 3 sites material were tested on a pool of 10 sera from 35 selected pine pollen-allergic patients submitted initially to skin prick tests (SPTs). The highest levels of specific IgE were found with the extract from the rural zone in which O3 levels (45.9'‰Î¼g/m3) were the highest, with lower values for other pollutants. No significant differences were detected in immunoblotting experiments [103]. It could thus be concluded that pine pollen allergenicity increased when trees are under elevated O3 conditions.
When comparing Lolium perenne pollen extracts from polluted urban zones versus unpolluted rural zones in and around Valladolid (Spain), Armentia et al. (2002) showed a significant difference in the skin reactivity of the 20 urban and 20 rural tested patients to the extracts, with a greater response regarding the urban pollen source. The highest concentration of Lol p 5 (3,35'‰Î¼g per gram of pollen) was detected in ''urban'' pollen extracts [56].
2.1.4. Dispersion of Subpollen Particles The presence of subpollen particles, innate ones and issued from fragmented pollen grains, is attested for long time [104]. From species to species, these particles are nonhomogeneous in size [105, 106] and nature [107''111]. Their implication in allergy diseases is already described in several studies for different regions and pollen sources [112''121]. Their presence in the atmosphere increases the bioavailability of pollen allergens. The role of pollution on release and dissemination of these subparticles is documented. Regarding the effects of pollutants on the allergenicity of this specific airborne material itself, the research stays reduced, even if, for instance, different Japanese groups provided in the last 10 years very accurate work.
(1) Outer Subparticles. The innate outer subparticles are known for pollen from different plant species among which Taxodiaceae and Cupressaceae ones are the most common in atmospheric material [30, 122]. These orbicules, also called Ubisch bodies, [123''127] are of small size (0.5''2'‰Î¼m) and thus have lower sedimentation speed compared to pollen grains. Some effects of air pollutant studied on Cryptomeria japonica pollen, as shown by Wang's group, are morphological changes and production of, taking a term from physics, ''daughter'' allergenic particles [128''130]. Wang et al. used the term of ''transmutation'' in order to describe the modification from source (trees from mountainous areas) to deposition zones (urban sites) [40]. Allergenic Cry j 2 from Cryptomeria is attested from pollen wall surface of outer subparticles when using appropriated sampling and SPR analysis for the detection [131].
(2) Inner Subparticles. The same Japanese research group developed successfully the detection of Cry j 2, in starch granule material in the polluted Cryptomeria pollen grains, with the same type of device (Andersen high-volume air sampler associated with SPR allergen detection). In the multisites Lombardy region (Italy) experiment, the percentage of inner subparticles from Ambrosia pollen source was not significantly higher in pollen samples collected along high-traffic roads than in those collected in vegetated areas [57]. Moreover, Shahali et al. [74] observed an increased fragility of the exine that may facilitate the inner particles liberation.
2.2. Laboratory-Generated PollutionIf studying the effects on pollen of major pollutants in ''real'' atmosphere is of high importance, it stays often difficult to provide clear ideas regarding the pollen and pollution interactions because of the multiple components mixed in the different kinds of nowadays pollution existing in various parts of the world and because finding a single experimental device allowing approaching the multiple interactions pollen-pollutants is just, currently, not possible.
Thereby, choosing the way of controlled experimental pollution in either laboratory or greenhouse conditions sounds quite sensible. It can provide, for different gases, selected mineral versus biogenic particulate matter, alone or combined, a clearer appreciation for each pollutant. Such way gives the possibility to measure time, dose, and quantity. It allows the repetition, for various pollen from different plant species and/or pollen subparticles, of multiple pollution scenarios at low, realistic, or high pollution rates, emphasizing, for instance, pollution mimicking industry or traffic conditions, western life, or developing countries contexts.
2.2.1. Physicochemical Effects of Artificial Pollution (1) Modification of the External Surface. The contact gas-pollen [132] and/or PM-pollen may have an effect on the most external part of the exine [69, 133''135]. The design and use of fluidized bed reactors dedicated to the pollen-pollution interactions by Behrendt's group in the 1990s gave the opportunity to study these interactions at different levels with a great accuracy. If they could find, as did other authors, that pollen surface is covered with atmospheric particles when using a specific dose of airborne PM [136], moreover, Behrendt et al. showed that there is morphological evidence for preactivation of pollen by organic extracts of airborne particulate matter [137]. Under some conditions, aqueous compounds may then induce local allergen release, resulting in either allergenic extrusions followed by generation of allergenic aerosols or adsorption of pollen-derived proteins to airborne particles [138].
Some authors found a deep physical modification of pollen exine with artificial pollution, whereas others found no differences between polluted and nonpolluted pollen. For example, pollen of Platanus orientalis became swollen after several hours of fumigation with NO2, SO2, or NH3 [139]. In another study where Glycine max L. plants were exposed to atmospheric relevant concentration of CO2 [140] collapsed pollen grains were observed without apertures and with a disturbed exine ornamentation. In another study using plants fumigation (Lolium perenne L.), the number of underdeveloped pollen grains was higher in ozone-exposed plants. On the other hand, Ruffin et al. found no significant pollen morphologic changes despite the use of very high doses of pollutants (1% of NO2, SO2, or CO) [141]. Kanter et al. found no physical modification of ragweed pollen from plants exposed to 80 ppb of ozone during the entire vegetation period [142] and Lhuissier et al. found no structural damage to Betula and Dactylis pollen material with very high doses of CO [143] conflicting with the results of Cerceau et al. where collapsed Betula grains were observed with CO [69]. The source of these discrepancies comes probably from differences of pollen used and also the variable doses of gas pollutants. One of the major constituents of pollen, water, is indeed rarely documented in pollen/pollution studies. By changing shape and size of pollen, water content will probably play a role in physical properties of the exine. Depending on gathering period and meteorological and stocking conditions the water content of pollen grains will be profoundly affected. In their work on acidic species adsorption onto pollen grains, Okuyama et al. concluded that the uptake of water-soluble gaseous species will be promoted by the moisture on the pollen surface [144]. More generally, humidity during the pollen fumigation appears to be a very important parameter regarding pollen viability/germination studies [27]. Despite the ease of its determination and its potential importance, the water content of the pollen grain is very rarely studied and there is an almost systematic lack of published work. Moreover, Okuyama et al. studied the acid adsorption properties of the pollen. One of the conclusions was that nitric acid is not only adsorbed on the surface but also dissolved into the inner part of the pollen, changing thus its chemical balance [144].
Interestingly, Motta et al. observed damage to Phleum pratense pollen grains with NO2 but not with ozone under the same experimental conditions [145]. This result showed that pollen of same species had different tolerance to different pollutants. The lack of systematic studies with pollen from different plant species exposed to the major pollutants in the same experimental conditions is a striking fact. It has to be mentioned however that such studies will be very difficult to pursue as the main obstacle will be the collection of freshly gathered pollen from large amount of different geographical localization and all seasons.
(2) Elemental Composition and Chemical Changes. Elemental composition of pollen is very often modified by pollution. Indirect proof of chemical changes was in fact observed in fluorescence spectra of pollen [146''148] and elemental composition was also determined in a few laboratory experiments but without a clear convergence on the chemical modifications observed [69, 149]. In a recent series of experiments that tried to compare the effects of pollutants on pollen from different plant species as what was proposed previously by Ruffin et al. on 3 trees (Quercus, Pinus, and Ulmus) and a grass (Festuca), NO2-exposed pollen [141], Visez and his team, using a specific device, could show that the uptake of NO2 is not the same according to the analyzed pollen. The susceptibility of pollen to NO2 effects is decreasing as such: cypress, timothy grass, and finally birch [150]. Pollen modifications due to O3 have also already been shown to be species-dependent by Ribeiro et al. [151].
Laboratory studies on the kinetics and extent of the interactions of pollution, in both gas and particulate phase, are relatively scarce [152]. The timing of pollen pollution is not known. In our current state of knowledge, the amount of pollution suffered by the pollen directly in the plant cannot be indeed associated with the modification during the comparatively short pollen airborne life.
2.2.2. Biological Effects of Artificial Pollution (1) Pollen Viability. Rate of germination and viability are the simplest biological parameters to demonstrate the effect of pollution on the pollen. Thus, a great number of studies report the influence of artificial pollution on the pollen reproductive function for a wide variety of plant species and a range of common atmospheric pollutants and concentrations: carbon monoxide, nitrogen and sulphur dioxide, ozone, acids, and heavy metals (see the review by Wolters and Martens [27]).
For example, when artificially polluting Ambrosia artemisiifolia pollen with O3, Pasqualini et al. could clearly show that the viability was rather low on 7-day O3'' fumigated pollen (39%) compared to the control sample (56%) [157]. On pollen of cultivated plants (tomato, tobacco, and petunia), Feder showed that the pollen viability can be reversibly slowed or stopped by exposure to low concentrations of O3 [158]. O3 effect can also be observed in Lolium perenne pollen. Development was disrupted by inhibiting starch accumulation throughout the anther [159]. The impact of fumigated O3 was also significant on Brassica napus (and different from the one by SO2) in a greenhouse study carried out by Bosac et al. [160]. As for field studies on forest plants trying to understand the effects of acid rain, the role of pollutants in specific tree pollen grains has also been studied experimentally. Simulated acid rain showed real effects on Picea pollen [161], but it was demonstrated that broad leaved tree pollen was more sensitive than conifers, with an intermediate sensitivity for the understory species [162].
Pollen tolerance to pollution seems to be higher when the grains are exposed in vivo (directly on the anther) compared to in vitro, pointing to a protective role of the anther. Sensitivity of pollen is enhanced when exposure occurred in vitro directly in the germination medium [27]. For some species, a decrease of germination consecutive to ozone pollution has indeed occurred only in condition where gaseous or liquid water was added [43, 160]. Most commonly, the pollen viability is diminished, even suppressed, consequently to an artificial pollution event and the decrease is often proportional to the pollutants dose. Rates of germination were also negatively affected for several species exposed in vitro with very low doses of pollutants: O3 (30'‰ppb/6 hours) and NO2 (34'‰ppb/6 hours) [153, 156, 163].
Given the diversity of pollutants, plant species, and fumigation methods employed, no quantitative trends can be given but the general following conclusions can be drawn:
Atmospheric pollution, in a broad sense, generally induces a decrease in the pollen viability and germination.
Anthers have a protective role.
Very low doses of pollutants may have harmful effects.
(2) Total Proteins and Allergens Modifications
(i) Laboratory Conditions. In a series of simulations, after incubating pollen from rye, birch, and ash tree with atmospheric dust and similarly exposing the grains to SO2, NO2, and O3, Thomas et al. could show a release of protein material. The release was the most important with the most concentrated rate of dust [164, 165]. In the same kind of work on protein content, Bist et al. found a significant decrease in the protein concentration in Ricinus communis pollen exposed to NO2 individually and those exposed to SO2 and NO2 together [166]. A convergent pattern was documented in the studies by Santra et al. and Parui et al. on the protein content of, respectively, fumigated (SO2 and NO2) pollen grains (Cocos nucifera and Datura metel) and SO2-exposed pollen grains (Argemone mexicana) that changed with increased exposure time and concentration of relevant gases [167, 168]. Pollen from 3 Betulaceae species (Betula pendula, Ostrya carpinifolia, and Carpinus betulus) exposed to NO2 showed also total soluble proteins decrease when compared with the nonexposed pollen [153]. On CO-treated Betula pollen, Lhuissier et al. documented a decrease of 70 to 40% in the water-soluble proteins amount (CO concentrations ranging from 0.01 to 5%) [143]. With SO2-exposed pollen (Acer negundo) samples, Sousa et al. could document lower protein content compared with the control sample [169]. Not only on the Acer negundo pollen but also on Quercus robur and Platanus spp. ones, the same Portuguese group, in a first paper [170], could detect significant O3 effects through a decrease in soluble proteins for the 3 species with an exposure at 58 ppb, with the O3 limit value of the European Union Directive 2008/50/EC (2008) on ambient air quality being 61'‰ppb. In a second paper [151], the values of protein concentrations were coherent for both Platanus and Quercus pollen according to previous results (resp., 4,380'‰Î¼g/mL, control, versus 3,150'‰Î¼g/mL, O3-exposed material, and 4,575'‰Î¼g/mL, control, versus 4,185'‰Î¼g/mL, O3-exposed material) but not for Acer with a slight increase (5,783'‰Î¼g/mL, control, versus 5,834'‰Î¼g/mL, O3-exposed material). According to the authors, the heterogeneity seems linked, at least for some changes, to differences in pollutants (SO2 versus O3) and interspecies variations. The choice of material and initial treatments could also be evoked.
Different works on pollen allergenicity evaluated modifications of the allergen content by O3 fumigation. On Ambrosia artemisiifolia SDS-PAGE profiles produced in Pasqualini et al.'s work, 38'‰kDa protein band has been detected which corresponded to Amb a 1, the major antigenic component of ragweed pollen, but without any quantitative difference between nonfumigated and O3-fumigated pollen grains. In this study, the 7-day O3 fumigation did not induce changes in the content of the major allergen Amb a 1 [157]. Some other groups carried out experiments that are nonconvergent with these results. Thus, exposure of rye (Secale cereale) cultivars to elevated O3 levels increases the allergen content in pollen [171]. In the already cited paper from Porto's group [151], O3 effects differed depending on the plant tested. In Acer negundo and Quercus robur pollen, from one-dimensional (1D) SDS-PAGE immunoblot experiments, an increase in IgE reactivity (in the majority of the tested sera) or no differences were observed in O3-exposed samples compared with nonexposed pollen, while in Platanus pollen nonexposed pollen leads to higher IgE reactivity compared with the exposed samples.
The effects of NOx and CO through electrophoretic analysis, immunoblots, and ELISA were important on protein contents and on the recognition of Dactylis and Betula pollen allergens by IgE from allergic patient sera. These effects were not genus-convergent [155, 178]. Rogerieux, within Peltre's team, could find, when using high levels for the 3 different experimental gases, SO2 (1,300'‰Î¼g/m3 for 1'‰h, i.e., 7 times the warning level of European guidelines), NO2 (950'‰Î¼g/m3 for 1'‰h, i.e., again, 7 times the European warning level), and O3 (200'‰Î¼g/m3 within the European warning level), 3 types of results. These results were (i) no significant difference for air-exposed Phleum pratense pollen versus pollutants-exposed pollen protein content (combination of gases or one by one fumigation), (ii) a decrease in some allergen recognition in some IgE binding proteins (whatever the gas used), and (iii) an acidification of several allergens on O3-exposed pollen and O3 + NO2-exposed pollen extracts [175]. The differences observed could be due to some posttranslational modifications at the protein level. With immunodetection experiments on pollen from the 3 Betulaceae species already cited [153], it was possible to show higher IgE recognition by patient sera sensitized to the pollen extracts from all NO2-exposed samples with comparison to the nonexposed ones. On Dactylis glomerata pollen again, when using nitrocellulose immunoprint technique after agarose isoelectric focusing separation, some other results did not allow detection of modification in the allergen isoelectric points after different experimental pollutant treatments (car exhaust gas, cigarette smoke, UV light, and ozone). However, some decrease in the extracted allergen amounts was noticed mainly after car exhaust gas and cigarette smoke exposure [149]. It can be noted at this step that DEP and tobacco smoke have many common characteristics, namely, particulate nature and shared chemicals [179]. Benzo(a)pyrene is an important component of DEP and causes abnormalities during pollen development of Helianthus annuus L. [180]. The different experimental conditions used to study the effects of pollution and the results obtained are summarized in Table 1 for birch pollen and in Table 2 for grass pollen.
Table 1Studies of the effect of different air pollutants on birch pollen grains.
Birch speciesPollutant(s) studiedConcentration rangeDuration of exposureGermination or viabilityTotal proteinsProtein profilesIgE recognitionReferenceB. pendula NO234/67'‰ppb6/48'‰h'†'†'--'†—[153]Birch allergenNO2'--'--'--'--'--'†—[154]B. verrucosaNO1''5%48'‰h'--'†Numerous modifications'--[155]B. albaNO21''400'‰ppmHours to days'--'--'--'--[134]B. pendulaO361''192'‰ppb6/12'‰h'†'†'--'--[156]B. papyriferaO3Ambient/ambient — 1.59 years'†'--'--'--[87]B. pendulaCO10''31'‰ppm6/12'‰h'†'†'--'--[156]B. papyriferaCO2 360''560'‰ppm9 years'†—'--'--'--[87]B. verrucosaCO0.01''5%48'‰h'--'†Numerous modifications'--[143, 155]B. verrucosaCO100%2'‰h'--'--'--'--[69]B. pendulaComparison rural/urban'--'--'--'--'†— Bet v 1'--[172]B. pendulaSO2130''540'‰ppb6/12'‰h'†'†'--'--[156]Betula sp.NO2/O3 /urbanization index'--'--'--'--'†— (Bet v 1 for O3)'†— (for O3)[98]Betula sp.Comparison rural/urban'--'--'--'--Differences in spot intensities'--[96]B. papyriferaCO2 + O3CO2: 360''560'‰ppm O3: Ambient/ambient — 1.59 years = '--'--'--[87]Birch (proteins)Urban air or NO2 + O3100'‰ppb5/50'‰h'--'--Nitration of Bet v 1'--[173, 174]B. pendula,'‰ B. pubescensSulfur and heavy metals'--'--'-- = '--=[55]B. verrucosaComparison rural/urban'--'--'†'--'--'--[80]B. verrucosaSO21%2'‰h'--'--'--'--[69]Betula sp.Urban with trafficExposed to urban pollution24/72'‰h'--'--'--'--[66]Table 2Studies of the effect of different air pollutants on grass pollen grains.
Grass speciesPollutant(s) studiedConcentration rangeDuration ofexposureGermination or viabilityTotal proteinsProtein profilesIgE recognitionReferenceDactylis glomerata, Phleum pratense NO22000'‰ppb4'‰h'--='--'†[175]Festuca elatiorNO210,000'‰ppm3'‰min'--=Changes observed'--[141]Phleum pratense O330''80'‰ppbPlant life'--'--'† Phl p 5'--[176]Dactylis glomerata, Phleum pratense O3100'‰ppb4'‰h'--='--'†[175]Lolium perenneO360'‰ppb2 weeks'--'†—'†— Lol p 5'--[99]Lolium perenneO32 outdoor sites'--'--'†— Lol p 5'--[99]Phleum pratense CO2400''800'‰ppmPlant life'--'--='--[176]Dactylis glomerata NO or CO1''5%48'‰h'--'†Numerous modifications'--[155]Dactylis glomerata CO0.01''5%48'‰h'--'†Changes observed'--[143]Festuca elatiorCO10,000'‰ppm3'‰min'--=Changes observed'--[141]Phleum pratenseSO213'‰mg/m318'‰h'--'--'--=[177]Dactylis glomerata, Phleum pratense SO22000'‰ppb4'‰h'--='--'†[175]Festuca elatiorSO210,000'‰ppm3'‰min'--=Changes observed'‰[141]Phleum pratense Toluene, m-xylene125'‰mg/m318'‰h'--'--'†— Phl p 5'†—[177]Dactylis glomerata, Phleum pratenseO3/NO2100''2000'‰ppb4'‰h'--='--'†[175]Dactylis glomerata, Phleum pratense NO2/SO22,000'‰ppb each4'‰h'--='--'†[175]Lolium perenneRural/urban'--'--'--'†—Different patterns'†—[56]Phleum pratense Atmospheric particulate matterNot mentioned4'‰h'--'†—='†—[136]Dactylis glomerataRoad traffic'‰'‰'†'--'--'--[88]Dactylis glomerata Car exhaust10''60'‰min10''300'‰min'--'†='†[149]Dactylis glomerata Cigarette smoke100'‰HP1''28 days'--'†='†[149](ii) Greenhouse Conditions. During 2 consecutive seasons, Dactylis glomerata seedlings were exposed in open-top chambers designed as described by Biolley et al. [34] and supplied by filtered (Figures 1(a) and 1(b) ) air or air containing O3 (100'‰Î¼g/m3, 8 hours per day) during 2 months preceding the pollen harvest.
(a) Open-top chambers (OTCs) were located at Montardon site (10'‰km north of Pau, France). Technical characteristics of OTCs, close to those described by Heagle et al. [32, 33], have been already reported [34]. Each circular OTC had a diameter of 3'‰m and an open-top diameter of 2'‰m and was 2.8'‰m tall. It consisted of a galvanised iron frame covered with a polyethylene foil (Deltatex T2E). Ozone-free air (filtered air) or O3-enriched air was blown all around the chamber above the canopy level. The flow rate was controlled to achieve an air exchange rate of 3.14 times per min at the canopy level. When supplied, extra ozone was generated by electrical discharge of pure oxygen and injected into the air stream. Extra ozone was equally released only from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (GMT) in order to simulate the normal period of ozone exposure. The control chamber received filtered air (before ambient air was blown in the chamber, it passed through a charcoal filter that removed almost totally ozone), while, in O3-enriched OTC, O3 concentration reached 100'‰Î¼g/m3. Ozone was sequentially monitored in the three OTCs with an UV ozone analyser (Environnement SA, O3 41'‰M) under the control of a computer recording system. (b) Inside a filtered air chamber: in the foreground mature Dactylis glomerata plants with inflorescences can be seen. The air suction device of the OTC allowing measurement of the ozone concentration is noted with a red arrow.
After pollen sampling, protein concentrations of the extracts [175] were measured. A slight but not statistically significant difference was observed in pollen protein concentrations from exposed (37'‰mg/mL) versus unexposed (33'‰mg/mL). But no difference at all was observed, by two-dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis separation, in quality of these pollen proteins from plant material (Figures 2(a) and 2(b) ). The allergenicity of the unexposed (control) and O3-exposed pollen was evaluated by 2D immunoblot electrophoresis analysis of the extracts (Figures 2(c) '' 2(f) ). Using sera from 2 different grass pollen allergic patients, no significant difference was observed in either the IgE or IgG4 patterns [181]. In the same way, when comparing Amb a 1 content, as tested by ELISA, between 80'‰ppb O3-fumigated material versus 40'‰ppb O3-fumigated control one, no direct influence was detectable in Kanter et al.'s work [142].
Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis analysis of the water-soluble proteins from Dactylis glomerata pollen harvested in ventilated greenhouse with air (a, c, e) or with air containing ozone, 100'‰Î¼g/m3, 8 hours per day (b, d, f). Pollen extract from Dactylis glomerata was submitted to an initial isoelectrofocusing separation followed by gel electrophoresis with SDS. The gels were either silver stained (a, b) or transferred on nitrocellulose incubated with 2 different grass pollen-sensitized patient sera (c''f). IgE binding was revealed using heavy chain specific antibody coupled to alkaline phosphatase (AP). The AP activity was detected using 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl phosphate and nitroblue tetrazolium (Sigma) in 0.1'‰M tris buffer pH 9.5. Isoelectric points (pI) values (at the bottom) and relative molecular mass (kDa, on the right) are indicated for each gel.
(3) Protein Nitration and ROS Formation. Several lines of evidence indicate that most air pollutants can enter the plant tissues, as already mentioned, and act primarily through the production of ROS also called oxidative-free radicals [182]. Three important ROS, hydroxyl-free radical (neutral form of hydroxide ion OH''), superoxide anion (O2''), and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), are highly toxic and can lead to damage of proteins, lipids, and DNA. For instance, ROS attack proteins to form carbonyls and can react with nitrogen species then to form nitrotyrosine with tyrosine and with lipids to generate ethane and isoprostanes. These reactions could have an impact on membrane organization. ROS also can react with DNA to form base pair adducts, such as 8-oxo-2-deoxyguanosine affecting its structure [183, 184]. They are clearly suspected to play a major role in allergic inflammation [185]. In the same time, laboratory experiments show that proteins are efficiently nitrated upon exposure to gas mixtures of NO2 and O3 or one ofthe different mixes composing polluted urban air. The nitration reaction leads to the addition of nitro groups to the aromatic rings of tyrosine residues in the polypeptide chain, and this posttranslational modification can enhance the allergic potential of various proteins [173, 174, 186]. Apart from the chemical ageing of some air PM, ROS may also participate in the formation and growth of multifunctional organic substances [187]. It is also known that quinones present in PM may exceed those of both ROS and free radicals [188]. Experimentally, Pasqualini et al. could show that O3-exposed Ambrosia artemisiifolia pollen can become more allergenic through stimulation of inflammatory ROS-generating NAD(P)H oxidase [157]. Even if Bacsi's group already proved through several very precise studies on ragweed pollen and pollen from more than 30 other plants that unpolluted material (both commercial Greer Laboratories' one and collected whole grains as well as subpollen particles) can generate ROS-producing NAD(P)H oxidases [121, 189] and if, nevertheless, Shalaby et al. showed that intrinsic NAD(P)H oxidase activity (or other enzymatic activity) is not a universal mechanism conferring allergenicity to pollen [190], it seems clear that an exacerbated activation of these phenomena is possible through urban pollutants.
2.2.3. Subpollen Particles, Pollen Fragments, and Free Allergens Experimentation on polluted pollen-derived material was developed on different aspects. It concerns, till now, the controlled pollution of innate inner subparticles (considered as ''pollen cytoplasmic granules,'' PCG) of Phleum pratense grass pollen, the fixation of free allergens on DEP, and the release of fine particles from several pollen sources following impaction.
The experimental pollution by NO2 and O3 at various rates (resp., from 0.5 to 50'‰ppm and from 0.1 to 5'‰ppm) of Phleum pratense pollen leads to fragilization of the exine and increasing of the released amount of inner material. The most significant effect of NO2 was between 2 and 50'‰ppm when O3 exposure plays a role even at the lower 0.1'‰ppm level. It was thus possible to conclude that damage of pollen grains by traffic-related air pollutants such as NO2 and O3 can lead to spontaneous release of inner subparticles from different grass pollen sources [145, 191, 192]. Using immunogold labeling techniques, Knox et al. could visualize the in vitro binding between diesel exhaust carbon particles (DECP), positively charged (30 to 60'‰nm), and Lol p 1, the major grass pollen allergen from Lolium perenne, when Lol p 5 showed essentially no binding. As an acidic glycoprotein, Lol p 1 may bind to these particles because of its negative charge (at pH 6.8) [193]. In the same way, Ormstad could show the fixation Bet v 1 on DEP [194]. These authors consider that if Bet v 1 can bind at these particles, other proteins could do so as well. From this point of view, the binding could be pI-dependent (negative charges promoting the binding) or related to glycosylation degree of the allergen. As Knox et al., in previously cited paper, they proposed that the role of the negative charge of the allergen is of major importance for the binding with DEP.
Experiments on aerosolized birch and cypress pollen grains, in experimental system, under various conditions ( Figure 3(a) ) showed that the emission of heterogeneous small particles increased when the pollen source was humidified ( Figure 3(b) , blue lines). This is likely the result of the release of subfragments and/or internal granules. Interestingly, while no effect of the exposure to NO2 (0.5% during 10'‰min) was observed on birch pollen ( Figure 3(b) , red dotted line) it could induce a 10 times increased emission of number of particles smaller than 500'‰nm for Cupressus sempervirens pollen (red continuous line). These submicronic particles likely corresponded to orbicules which are located on the outer surface of the pollen and are a hallmark of cypress pollen grains. This experiment strongly suggests that NO2 is able to strip off orbicules from pollen grains and thus release them as free subparticles in the atmosphere [195]. Inner subparticles from birch pollen grains were also shown to be released upon impaction on a solid surface at wind speed of about 3'‰m/s [196, 197].
Experimental exposure of cypress and birch pollen with nitrogen dioxide (NO2). (a) Cypress (25''30'‰Î¼m) or birch (20'‰Î¼m) pollen grains, filed on filter (0.22'‰Î¼m), were aerosolized into a synthetic industrial air flow of 100'‰mL/min (allowing the flight of smaller particles than pollen) and sent into an impactor equipped solely with a PM10 stage. Particle size distributions were measured, during 10'‰min, at the outlet of the impactor with an aerosol particle sizer (APS) (0.5''20'‰Î¼m). (b) Pollen samples were moistened and then dried with air during 10'‰min (blue curves) and control samples were realized with industrial air (green curves). Impaction tests were also done with pollen grains artificially polluted with NO2 (0.5% for 10'‰min) (red curves). Particle size distributions were normalized to show an equal number of pollen grains at 17'‰Î¼m.
3. Effects of Polluted Pollen Grains, Subparticles, and Derived Atmospheric Allergens on Model Animals, Allergic Patients, and Cell Material3.1. Animal ModelsThe animal models could help understand the complicated links between atmospheric pollen material and main pollutants. Several series of work tried to mimic, on animals, what could happen for pollen allergic patients. When taking into account such studies, it is nevertheless important to keep in mind the existence of many biases regarding animals' choice [198''200] and/or protocols with, for instance, the dominance of ovalbumin-BALB/c mouse model [201, 202]. A first example, among many potential others, can be given: the extent of bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (BALT) differs greatly among animal species. It has to be noted, at this step, that humans and nonhuman primates have little BALT. It probably plays a major role in development of allergic responsiveness. Another example clearly shows some of the great physiological differences: mice are obligate nose breathers, incapable of mouth breathing. The oral breathing in humans bypasses the effective air cleaning capacity of the nose [203]. Thus, model animal should always be appreciated only as surrogates [204]. Be that as it may, different trials were proposed, year after year, on mice, rats, and guinea pigs for either gases or PM which clarify some pollution-allergenic material links. With a recent review on animal model studies being available, we insist here on papers and works that were unlisted in it [205].
3.1.1. Gases When comparing results from IgE immune response experiments on mice that were injected with extract obtained from pollen harvested of Dactylis glomerata with exposed seedlings (O3 at 80'‰Î¼g/m3) and a pollen extract from unexposed plants, Charpin et al. did not find significant IgE rates differences in the 2 groups of mice [181]. In a work on recombinant allergen rBet v 1 from Betula pollen source nitrated by reaction with tetranitromethane dissolved in methanol, the Austrian-German team of Gruijhuijsen showed that levels of IgE, IgG1, and IgG2a were higher in animals sensitized with nitro-(3,4)-Bet v than in unsensitized ones [154].
3.1.2. PM and DEP Compounds In a series of works by Fernvik et al., a set of mice (from strain selected for expressing intensively different sequalae of asthma after allergenic immunization and provocation) were immunized with (i) birch pollen (100'‰Î¼g/mouse) and either (ii) global tunnel dust (collected in Prague, Czech Republic) or (iii) one of the 8 purified different fractions from this traffic PM material (TPM). These fractions try to mimic the various chemical compounds adsorbed on TPM aerosols. Selected mice were provoked intranasally with either a mixture of pollen and TPM, a mixture of pollen and one of the 8 fractions, or, finally, pollen alone before a challenge with methacholine. The bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), specific IgE-levels, and number of recruited eosinophils in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) were increased in mice immunized and provoked with the mixture of pollen and TPM. However, mice immunized with pollen only and provoked intranasally with pollen or a mixture of pollen and TPM showed higher levels of IL4 and IL5 [206, 207]. Results obtained with 8 different fractions showed the highest titers of IgE and BHR in the positive control mice (immunized and provoked with a mixture of pollen and TPM), followed by mice immunized with pollen and fraction 2 (which contains organic acids). They demonstrated also that fractions 2 (organic acids) and 7 (highly polar compounds) seem to contain potential adjuvants stimulating IL-5 production, the IgE synthesis, the eosinophil recruitment, and the BHR [207, 208].
When working on DEP pollutant role from Kanto (Japan) region, Maejima et al. observed a time-dependent increase in Cry j 1 and Cry j 2 allergens specific IgE ELISA titer in sera from mice exposed only to Cryptomeria pollen. On groups of mice also exposed to either filtered or unfiltered DEP, through nose instillation, these authors observed larger increase of the same type of signal. The study thus suggested not only that fine particles may enhance the production of IgE in mice exposed to pollen but also at the same time that the nature of the particles could be of importance, gas components of DEP, namely, as adjuvant factor regarding IgE production [209, 210]. The same kind of results was observed with mice for which Cryptomeria pollen extract was intraperitoneally delivered. A persistent IgE response in pollen and DEP immunized animals was detected, while it was not the case with only pollen immunized mice [211]. An increase of IgE level against Cryptomeria pollen associated with DEP was also shown on not yet (fetal stage) and newly born rats during differentiation of their immune system [212]. This last work showed the very important role of ultrafine PM in the elevation of IgE against pollen extract. On herb pollen material, the number of pollution-pollen links' studies is rather less than that on trees ones. Phleum pratense pollen grains induce an allergic response in Brown Norway rats after intranasal and intratracheal administrations. On animals challenged at day 21 (pollen 10'‰mg/mL, DEP 3'‰mg/mL), DEP has an adjuvant activity on the IgE production [213]. But, in a later work, the same Dutch team showed that, in the BAL of rats from the same strain exposed to pollen-PM mixture, the percentage of eosinophilic granulocytes was lower than the one of rats only exposed to pollen [214]. Studying also the allergic response in Brown Norway rats, Rogerieux et al., when comparing Phleum pratense pollen sensitization, did not find any significant difference between controls (saline injected) versus raw and filtered DEP exposed animals. There was no pollen specific humoral allergic response (specific serum IgE). There was no modification of the intensity of the pollen-induced cellular activation and eosinophil influx. The only one response, assessed by alveolar macrophages infiltration in lungs, was inflammation detected in rats exposed to filtered DEP [215].
Among DEP compounds, the potential role of benzopyrene and 1-nitropyrene in allergic rhinitis aggravation was evaluated by Nabe and Mizutani in guinea pigs [205]. In this animal model, these components did not seem to affect the IgE-dependent activation of mast cells. Nevertheless, from a study using intranasally immunized mice, it sounds clear that the adjuvancy of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in DEP may be of importance in the production of IgE against Cryptomeria japonica allergens (namely, and mainly, Cry j 1). Indeed the IgE responses in mice immunized with (i) Cryptomeria pollen extract and pyrene, (ii) the same pollen source and total DEP, or (iii) pollen source with anthracene, fluoranthene, and benzopyrene were significantly enhanced compared with experiments with only pollen-immunized animals. Furthermore, when incubating intraperitoneal macrophages obtained from the unimmunized control mice with pyrene, anthracene, fluoranthene, or benzopyrene, IL-1 alpha production of the macrophages was observed in each case [216].
A last example showed that, on a very specific animal model, mice with severe combined immunodeficiency transplanted with human peripheral blood lymphocytes (n = 39) and thus producing human IgE, after early stimulation with birch pollen (batch pollen suspension at 2'‰mg/mL), even if a tendency to higher total IgE levels was observed, after DEP treatment (10'‰mg/mL), no statistically significant effect of this pollutant could be detected [217].
3.1.3. Combined Gaseous and Particulate Pollutants Using a guinea pig model, Rezanejad and Madj proposed results on polluted Lagerstroemia indica pollen material versus unpolluted ones [218]. They found no significant IgE level change between unpolluted and polluted pollen immunized animals. When comparing Pinus eldarica pollen material exposed in polluted Tehran zones versus fresh gathered unpolluted pollen, the same team found higher eosinophilia (14% more) for guinea pigs injected with polluted material [219]. On pollen from herbs, results of Madj's team on Tagetes patula and Spartium junceum pollen material showed higher values of eosinophils, neutrophils, and IgE for animals injected with extracts prepared from polluted pollen [218]. It was also the case in the work by Arbabian and Entezarei on Triticum aestivum [220]. In a study on Canna indica pollen, using BALB/c mice, Madj et al. found that the allergenic potential of the polluted chosen material is higher than the nonpolluted one. Through their different investigations, they showed that the skin tests wheals were larger with polluted material (mean diameter: 3.1 versus 5.6'‰cm) and the eosinophil as well as the neutrophil number was higher (resp., 39 versus 58 and 84 versus 93 — 104 cells/mL of blood). The IgE level was also increased (7.8 versus 12'‰ng/mL) and regarding the IgE-specific immunoblotting, no significant difference was detected between the 2 groups [75].
3.2. HumansAlthough investigations on the effects of pollution on health are numerous, studies on allergic or healthy human individuals are fewer than those on animal models [179]. Surprisingly, in some of these published papers the contribution of pollen as bioaerosol is omitted [6, 221''223]. Nevertheless, in vivo as well as in vitro studies are available which take into account (i) the human mucosal system, (ii) the 100''140'‰m2 of human lungs, (iii) the interactions between aerosols and mucosa through the daily 10,000''15,000 liters of air entering an adult, and (iv) the molecular and cellular immune parameters involved in allergic diseases (IgE, cytokines, eosinophil, neutrophil, basophil, mast cells, T and B cells, etc.).
3.2.1. Experimental In Vivo Allergy (1) Gases. A Swedish team showed in a series of sophisticated works (1997''2005) on grass and birch pollen allergic and asthmatic people experimentally submitted to NO2 in exposure chamber that (i) for grass pollen allergic patients (n = 18) a 30-minute exposure to NO2 (490'‰Î¼g/m3) gave a higher bronchialresponse to the allergen, mainly during the late phase response [224], (ii) for grass (n = 4) and birch (n = 12) pollen patients repeated exposure for 4 days to 500'‰Î¼g/m3 for 30'‰minutes prior to a nonsymptomatic allergen dose enhanced not only the early but also the late phase airway response [225], (iii) with the same kind of patients (n = 13) NO2 + allergen exposure enhanced the percentage of neutrophils in both bronchial wash and BAL versus air + allergen one with levels of eosinophil cationic protein in bronchial wash higher for the NO2 + allergen group and no effect on pulmonary function [226], and finally, (iv) regarding again inflammatory reactions ambient levels of NO2 can prime circulating eosinophils and enhance eosinophilicactivity in sputum in response to inhaled allergen [227]. On NO2, another study by Wang et al. allowed showing that NO2 can have effect on eosinophils. The experimental work was done on 16 subjects with a history of seasonal rhinitis but without other symptoms. They were exposed to either air or NO2 (6'‰h at 400'‰ppb) and challenged or not with commercial mixed grass pollen extracts. While no changes in the levels of eosinophil cationic protein, mast cell tryptase, and myeloperoxidase (from nasal lavages) were detected for the tested people without challenge, it was possible to observe some modifications notably in the markers of activation of eosinophils for the allergen-challenged subjects [228].
The idea that links between ozone and allergic people exist occurred very long time ago, for instance, explicitly, in Blackley's mind. Moreover, when writing the D section of his famous book [229], he suggested that variable levels of atmospheric ozone might variably affect allergic disorders (hay fever). Regarding the first experimental measures linking O3 and allergy, they were made, of course, from mid-20th century mainly in the perspective of man-made O3 emission changes through industrial and urban life activities.
On O3 effects, Molfino et al. could prove that, even at low concentrations (''similar to those found in large urban cities,'' i.e., among the largest 1990s towns in the USA and Canada) in 10 tested atopic patients' set (positive skin responses to grass or Ambrosia pollen), an increase in the bronchia responsiveness to allergens (subjects challenged with methacholine) was detectable without affecting baseline pulmonary function. After O3 exposure (0.12'‰ppm) for 1'‰h at rest, the dose of inhaled allergen necessary to elicit the same early allergic response was half that for allergen preceded by air inhalation (control) [230]. Nevertheless, according to differences in experimental conditions (larger O3 exposure chamber, e.g.), controversial results were also produced. Hanania et al., notably, on 15 subjects challenged with either grass (n = 9) or Ambrosia (n = 6) pollen extracts, could show that, at low O3 level, there was no significant effect of the gas on airway allergen responsiveness [231].
On a work on SO2 fumigated, Argemone mexicana, pollen, Parui et al. found, through skin prick test analysis on 43 patients (of which 44% were sensitive to this specific pollen), an increase in the number of patients showing positive response to the experimentally polluted pollen of this plant. Respectively, 46%, 52%, and 54% of the patients were found to be sensitive to the pollen extracts of 24-, 48-, and 72-hour fumigated pollen [168]. In the same way, Huss-Marp et al. investigated the effect of volatile organic compounds (VOCs: mixture of toluene/m-xylene) and SO2 on grass pollen (Phleum pratense L.) allergenicity as measured in vivo by skin prick tests (SPTs) in patients with grass pollen allergy. Pollen exposed to VOCs released elevated levels of Phl p 5 and PALMs and led to an enhanced SPT reactivity. No such effect was seen for SO2 pollen exposure [177].
(2) PM and DEP Compounds. The team around Diaz-Sanchez from UCLA School of Medicine (Los Angeles) proposed in the 1990s different works focusing on the links between Ambrosia pollen allergen (Amb a 1) and DEP on human subjects. Regarding the interaction of DEP on allergen-driven responses in vivo, this team showed that DEP enhanced the allergic specific IgE response but not the total IgE response in ragweed-challenged subjects sensitive to pollen (n = 13). Amb a 1 specific IgE was 16 times higher following the challenge with Ambrosia pollen allergen associated with DEP compared with challenge with Amb a 1 alone. Regarding the detected alteration in cytokine mRNAs (collected from cellular RNA recovered from nasal washes through reverse transcription-PCR), it was also clear that Amb a 1 allergen associated with DEP enhanced the absolute levels and altered the relative levels of ε mRNA isoforms. It can be assumed, following Diaz-Sanchez et al., that Amb a 1 allergen provides the orientation towards the Th2-like immune pattern and that DEP amplifies this response. Allergen exposure may result in an early release of IL-4 which is thought to be critical to the development of Th2 responses and can inhibit the development of Th1-type effector cells [232]. On a later study, the results obtained from the analysis of 8 experimentally treated patients indicated that the combination of mucosal stimulation with DEP and Ambrosia pollen allergenic source is capable of driving in vivo isotype switching to IgE in allergic patients sensitive to Ambrosia pollen. Such switch could mean that B cells initially expressing IgM and/or IgD on their surface rearrange the active encoding variable-diversity joint region to other Ig heavy chain loci and thereby could provide antibodies with different effector functions but the same antigen activity [233]. All these results tend to prove that increasing DEP (mainly linked to higher road traffic emissions) with unchanged levels of allergen could be one of the factors in the observed increasing clinical sensitization and prevalence of allergic respiratory diseases.
The protocol proposed by the group of the Harvard School of Public Health (Boston) used residual oil fly ash (ROFA) as pollutant and aerosolized whole pollen grains (from ragweed, red oak, or white birch) according to the differential positivity of the SPTs of the atopic (n = 5) and nonatopic (n = 3) subjects in an experiment based on 3 exposure challenges [234]. The people involved were submitted to (i) ROFA without pollen material, (ii) clean air + pollen material, and (iii) ROFA + pollen material. Such work provided evidence of a greater-than-additive interaction between ROFA exposure and pollen challenge. A 1'‰h ROFA exposure, 3'‰h before pollen challenge, enhanced the nasal inflammatory response. It consisted of an increase in total leukocytes, neutrophils, macrophages (cells from nasal lavages), and interleukins, IL-4 and IL-8. It can be noted that atopics had enhanced IL-4 and increased inflammatory response. It was not the case for nonatopic patients, who had an enhanced IL-8 response like the 5 atopic ones.
A UK team from Birmingham, around W.S. Tunnicliffe, experimented on particulate sulfates. This PM fraction is most of the time the result of an atmospheric oxidation of SO2 to sulphuric acid (H2SO4). H2SO4 exists in the air in particulate form. It reacts with NH3 to form either NH4HSO4 or (NH4)2SO4. The 13 atopic subjects were submitted to PM-H2SO4 (at 100'‰Î¼g/m3 or 1,000'‰Î¼g/m3) and challenged with Dactylis and Phleum pollen material. These results suggest that, at least at the highest main concentration, fine PM-H2SO4 can potentiate the early asthmatic response of asthma patients to inhaled grass pollen allergens [235].
(3) Combined Gaseous and Particulate Pollutants. When the already cited Swedish team studied the effects of a city (Stockholm) road tunnel air pollutants (gas, PM10 and PM2.5) for a total of 20 patients (grass (n = 7) and birch (n = 13)), they found that a 30-minute exposure (in a car during the rush hour) enhanced the asthmatic response to allergen (from freeze-dried birch or timothy grass pollen extracts) inhaled several hours later, although pulmonary function was not affected [236].
In an experiment showing that the release of Phl p 5 was only lowly influenced by the interaction with PM from ''road dust'' (4 hours in fluidized bed reactor on artificially polluted Phleum pratense pollen), it has been shown that, nevertheless, the water extract (from the same polluted pollen source) used for producing skin prick test could give enhanced reactivity (30''45%) for a set of allergic patients [136].
3.2.2. Experimental In Vitro Allergy with Human Cells Several works on cellular material showed different effects of pollution on allergenicity through pollen material. For instance, by measuring neutrophil migration in a way close to what was proposed in the 1970s and 1980s [237''239], Traidl-Hoffmann's team evaluated the chemotactic activity of rural versus urban birch pollen aqueous extracts. Using neutrophils from 11 nonatopic donors, they found, from this experiment, that pollen material from urban areas exhibits a significantly higher chemotactic activity compared to pollen from rural areas [96]. A neutrophil migration experiment was also developed with pollen from differentially O3-exposed birch trees (85'‰Î¼g/m3 versus 54'‰Î¼g/m3), showing highest chemotactic activity scores with the most exposed material [98].
On basophils from 6 atopic birch pollen allergic patients and 5 healthy persons used as control, people from the same Munich ZAUM center associated with other German researchers could evaluate the role of PM aerosol on these specific blood cells [240]. Working with a commercial BASOTEST kit for their basophilic activation test (BAT) in a flow cytometry experiment, they found that incubated with DEP (PM2.5) and rBet v 1 (from Betula pollen source) basophils versus incubated with rBet v 1 alone ones expressed significantly more CD63 proteins on their surface membrane. With basophils being known to represent a major source of early IL-4 cytokines production in allergic patients, such cellular results were of real interest.
On dendritic cells from peripheral blood monocytes, recent results from the already cited study by Beck et al. showed that extracts prepared from pollen with low O3 exposure had more effect (inhibiting the IL-12 response) than pollen with high O3 exposure. But a role of nonallergenic adjuvant PALMs has to be taken into account [98].
A fourth kind of cells can be cited here as an example of the different in vitro studies proposed year after year: respiratory epithelial ones. Again Betula pollen was at the center of the experiment trying to evaluate the role of Pb, one of the major current MTE, in pollen allergenicity. The protocol was carried out with 2 groups of pollen (experimentally polluted versus unpolluted) and, within the polluted ones, the pollutant dose was either 30'‰mg/L or 60'‰mg/L. The results on incubated cells show a dose- and time-dependent increase in IL-5 (''allergic'' cytokine) gene expression (mRNA levels) on Pb-exposed birch pollen material [241].
4. Combined Effects of Atmospheric Pollution and Biological Material Produced from Pollen Grains on Allergic PopulationAs already mentioned, a high number of studies are available regarding the direct pollutions effects on health [242]. We thus should here only insist on the fact that allergic people, without being in contact with polluted pollen and/or bioaerosols issued from polluted pollen material, can be fragilized by pollution largo sensu itself. It can happen before and/or after the so-called pollen season when the bioaerosols from pollen are fewer (around 2-3 months per year: from mid-autumn to mid-winter). It can also happen within the different phases of pollen release, from January (some Betulaceae and Cupressaceae) to late October (with Compositae like Ambrosia in many parts of the temperate regions) [243]. Taking the question from another angle, it is obvious that the different kinds of pollutants often do not occur during the same period of the year in high-density human zones. The example of the summertime O3 pollutant is clear. From its precursor NO2, O3 mainly demonstrates its health-degrading effects at low atmosphere levels under solar radiation. Thus, its effects on allergic people are more likely to be associated with the presence of deep atmospheric pollen charge. In experimental conditions on guinea pigs and healthy subjects, the effect of O3, used alone, at relatively low concentrations, was evaluated on bronchial epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages that produce different proinflammatory mediators [244]. For instance, 30-minute O3 exposure at 200'‰Î¼g/m3 increased TNFα secretion as well as IL-6 and IL-8 levels by the alveolar macrophages. In general, O3 is a potent oxidant that produces free radical and ROS. The epithelial surface of the respiratory tract is particularly rich in oxidants such as glutathione and ascorbate [245].
But at the same time, apart from model animals and human health ones, its other bioeffects, also ROS-generating in many plants [246], are not necessarily on aerosols from all kinds of airborne pollen material and/or, for instance, spring-pollinating Gymnosperm and Angiosperm species in and outside main population concentration zones. Of course, interactions with other pollutants (namely, DEP) [247] are quite frequent, even if not occurring in all circumstances. For real, O3 ''can potentiate the airway response to inhaled allergens'' [248].
Pollutants have on epithelia, acting usually as physicochemical barriers at nasal and bronchial levels, potential morphological and functional effects inducing notable changes on the tissues. With the mucociliary clearance being defective through pollutants action, firstly the allergens can stay on epithelial surface and secondly the diffusion of proteins in the subepithelial cell-abundant layer increases. Thus, in such a way, allergens can access more easily immune system's cells. This alteration of the defense barriers by pollutants can be gas-induced and/or particulate matter-induced. For instance, human lung parenchyma retains PM2.5 while particles larger than 5'‰Î¼m and <10'‰Î¼m only reach the proximal airways where they are eliminated by mucociliary clearance if the airway mucosa is intact. Pollution alone can therefore play an undoubted role in the amplification of the response (at nasal and bronchial levels) to inhaled pollen allergens. Furthermore, it has been shown that even on healthy people the nasal instillation of DEP at realistic concentrations induces a dose-dependent increase of IgE in the nasal-wash liquid. Diaz-Sanchez's team experimented on the exacerbated IgE response in vivo in the human upper respiratory tract [249] and proposed that pollutants could enhance on-going IgE production directly by acting on B cells [179]. On their side, Casillas and Nel [250] have suggested that DEP may act as adjuvant in a manner similar to Al(HO)3 in promoting a Th2-type immune response. DEP are powerful contributors to nasal inflammation and hyperresponsiveness [251].
In consequence, it is important to keep in mind that pollutants by themselves could be ''pollen allergy-initiating'' and/or ''pollen allergy-facilitating.'' If, at least epidemiologically, attested links between air pollution and airborne pollen charge are still controversial [252, 253], nevertheless combined effects of atmospheric pollutants and polluted bioaerosols issued from pollen material seem, from experimental works, to be, potentially, highly unfavorable to allergic people.
Allergenicity is a complex process, like immunogenicity, because it includes several characteristics of, first, the triggering compound, such as its dose, its route of entry, its frequency of administration, and the physicochemical and functional nature, and, second, several characteristics of the host such as the age of sensitization and the general current health of the individual. An efficient immune response relies on the stimulation of the innate and acquired immunity. Innate immunity involves cells and molecules immediately available and their activation through pattern recognition receptors results in a first barrier defense of inflammatory type which is also a triggering signal for acquired immune response, more specific [254]. Pollutants, gaseous or particulate matter, can be considered as injury signals and, as such, commit cells and molecules of the innate immune system: epithelial cells, macrophages, and molecules coating mucosal tissues. In consequence pollutants, by enhancing the formation of ROS and inducing inflammatory responses, behave as adjuvants reinforcing in some conditions the allergenic power of the allergens by activating Th2-driven acquired immune response.
From the hygiene hypothesis proposed 20 years ago advocating the importance of microbial stimulation for an antiallergic Th1 immune response, it was shown that, more than amount of stimulation, a diversified stimulation was required to ensure an unbiased immune system, properly educated [255''257]. The microbiota, that is, the collection of bacteria colonizing an individual, is now considered as the biosensor of the organism. An unbalanced biodiversity in commensal bacteria reflects or is reflected by a disease. In consequence, any environmental factor that can modify the microbiota may induce a pathological situation. Among these factors are the westernized diet, antibiotics, and delivery modes [258]. The potential effects of pollutants on microbiota require more investigations.
In summary, pollutants can induce structural modifications on allergen molecules themselves. However, the effects are moderate on intrinsic allergenicity but rather enhance the susceptibility of the host inflammatory and immune responses through mechanisms involving overstimulation of innate immunity and impairment of immunoregulatory circuits such as those controlled by the microbiota. Furthermore, several studies showed that epigenetic mechanisms could be involved in increased allergic disorders observed in westernized countries [259].
5. Methodological Biases and Proposed Research Tracks5.1. About Biases5.1.1. Controllable Biases (Some Examples) (1) Pollen Material and Source. The pollen material used for studying the links between pollen and pollution is, in most of the cases, precisely described in the produced papers. But, in some others, it is still not possible to find indications about how the pollen was collected and even from which ''polluted'' (not clearly defined) regions it was gathered [220]. In some experimental pollution works, the source of the material stays unknown: ''mature anthers of Cocos nucifera and Datura metel were collected separately'' [167].
If in many cases material is collected in several points of a clearly defined polluted zone, in some other publications, the source sounds unique (at least no indication is given). In some of the numerous papers on polluted birch pollen material, there was no mention of the studied species on which experimental work was done [66], when it is known, like for many other plants, that, for this tree, interspecies differences exist in terms of pollen protein and allergen content, for instance.
(2) Pollutants. The doses and types of atmospheric pollutants used in experimental pollution are diverse, but are they always realistic and allowing comparisons?
One of the key points discussed by Behrendt's group in the 1990s was about 2 different types of pollution, East and West Germany ones, just before and after the reunification. SO2 pollution model was, at European scale, the old one, generating less allergic diseases, when the high road traffic-related western pollution could have explained more easily the increase in allergy. This point of view sounds well grounded even if some recent works tend to show that lifestyle changes (other than higher cars availability and traffic) were also important in order to explain the West-East new allergy trends in reunified German regions [260]. Nevertheless, if O3 and PM are now some prevalent air pollutants worldwide, the coal-derived pollution still exists in many regions of the world and is associated with always higher and higher traffic emissions [261]. Then, when experimenting, it should be of importance to select, according to the local conditions and plants present in the environment, the most pertinent pollutants to be tested at doses that sound credible on specific pollen material. For instance, Asia is not Europe and half of the world population lives in Asia. In contrast to the relatively homogeneous western countries, the environment in Asia is very diverse and there are tremendous variations from one region to another in terms of either genetic background or atmospheric pollution load [261''264].
In Europe, a list of 12 air components which pose a health hazard has been proposed by the European Union's administration: NO2, SO2, O3, CO, C6H6, PM10 (in PM10: Pb, As, Cd, Ni, and benzopyrene), and PM2.5. And, for instance, unfortunately, no works on As- or Ni-exposed pollen seem available, there are few on benzopyrene [180], and a single recent study is noticeable on effect of cadmium on Picea wilsonii pollen germination [265]. As for the pollen material and source, it seems necessary to always indicate the levels and concentration values of pollutants used in experiments.
(3) Animals. As mentioned previously, considerable differences exist among models regarding, for instance, the following aspects: the animal species used (only rats, mice, and guinea pigs were taken into account here), the route of antigen administration, the protocol for both induction and elicitation of responses, the type of response measured, and also the criteria for some conclusion regarding '‰ªsignificant'‰ reactions. Examples abound where adverse effects to a particular substance were noted in certain species, and in particular organs of the species, but the same effect was never observed in humans [204]. Nevertheless, even if it seems clear that cell studies should be promoted, works on animals are of importance if comparisons are possible with reproducible protocols on a reasonable number of individuals.
As for other experimental parameters, precise notations are needed in order to evaluate the relevance of works on animals. It is not always the case [220].
5.1.2. Uncontrollable Biases (a Short List) (1) Life and Death of Pollen Grains. Pollen grains released in the atmosphere are equal neither in maturity nor in velocity. When anthers from tree catkins or ground level plants open, what is disseminated is a mixture of grains that are not fully at the same biochemical maturation stage. The aerosol issued from this plant dust can differentially stay alive or not for some hours according to global air conditions (i.e., physical ones like temperature, moisture, electricity, and wind and chemical ones including humans generated pollution). Apart from these first considerations, one can think of fragments discarded, from the initial stage, everywhere later on [112, 266, 267], as PM components [268] or even as parts of some more global organic carbon [40], but with, again at this level, various protein conditions (washed for some of them, still resistant to atmospheric aggressions for some others). It is quite complex to mimic in situ conditions even with fine methodology as the one proposed recently by Beck et al. [98] or Buters et al. [269]. Tracking precisely either hydration levels or maturity stages for plants growing in various conditions [43, 160], even in a not very large zone of study, stays, at least for the moment, not under full research control.
(2) From Where Do These Polluted Bioaerosols Come? When speaking of polluted bioaerosols, it is often assumed that this biogenic fraction was atmospherically polluted. Nevertheless, it is, in most of the cases, not possible to prove it, and in the same time, from soils [55, 270] to growing plants, it is obvious that pollution can interfere in anthers and pollen grains formation [271] before maturity. It has been proven that low but real Cd, Ni, and Pb concentrations exist in pollen measured simultaneously with polluted soils [272]. On the one hand, from the atmospheric water content, washed pollen grains could be deprived of soluble allergens and lixiviated plant fragments; also, aerosolized allergenic material could be dispersed. And, from the experimental protocols themselves, what is considered as polluted pollen material to be studied could have been polluted on the impactor itself during the sampling phase.
Questionable elements are also linked with the fact that it is of course known that terpene hydrocarbons that emanate from plants as well as natural low molecular weight olefins are chemically quite close to automobile emission particulate matter [273].
(3) Long Life of Pollution Contributors and Atmospheric Dissemination of Pollutants. Many pollutants are quite resistant and persistent in the environment. The adverse effects of some MTE (e.g., Pb, Zn, Ca, and Cu) on the plants and then on the airborne pollen grains as well as aerosolized pollen material issued from them may not be immediate but delayed by several days, months, or years [78] and what about the potential effects and pollen damage due to herbicides, pesticides, and weed-killer agents [65, 274, 275] on allergic people?
5.2. Five Potential Research Tracks for Studying ''Polluen'' and Its EffectsWhen trying to synthesize what has been proposed in terms of studies on pollution-pollen links at different levels, from plants to humans and their diseases, one can also see what has not been experimented or poorly experimented. It seems quite relevant to propose, at least, some tracks to explore in a deeper way the so special and still enigmatic links between pollen and atmospheric pollutants.
But before doing so we need to give some precision on what we want to talk about.
Because as shown for long quite clearly by Behrendt and the successive research teams, notably in her 1997s paper [276], (i) polluted particles are carriers of not only pollutants, gaseous and/or particulate, but also allergens and (ii) atmospheric pollen material is carrier of not only allergens but also multiple pollutants, we proposed to put forward the neologism ''polluen,'' previously used by some authors, such as Peltre and Laaidi et al. [21, 65], in order to point this specific atmospheric material out. Such aerosol, in many cases, between organic and inorganic, between biologic and amorphous, and between liquid and solid aerosol, could be considered as an alien material or even as some xenobiotic. It takes many forms (e.g., containing either still water-soluble allergens or just non-water-soluble ones) and many shapes and sizes (from submicronic able to interact with lung tissues to millimetric and stoppable by nasal epithelial cells) and it has different properties (notably, changes in allergenicity, cytotoxicity, or adjuvanticity). When using this generic polluen word, we also would like to insist on the fact that the conditions for studying such material should really be specific and are difficult to be assimilated to the only ones of pollen or pollution or even aerosol studies. When taking such point of view, such pragmatic approach, it thus interacts with the diverse experimental devices and protocols to be promoted.
(1) Flow Cytometry Approach: From Pollen Grains to Human Cells without Forgetting Subparticles. Flow cytometry is a powerful technique, massively used not only in the biomedical field for years but also in the plant sciences' one [277]. It is now considered as a potentially efficient tool for the evaluation of atmospheric pollen and fungi allergenic load [278, 279]. If valuable for collected outdoor ambient material, it can be of interest also in indoor experimental studies. Several very worthy studies already opened this way, in the polluen field, exploring, for instance, the adjuvant effects of DEP on activation parameters of human basophils from birch allergic patients' blood as already mentioned [240] or, even more precisely, on different DEP-PAHs in the same experimental context [280, 281]. The work by Verstraelen et al. [282] on dendritic cells exposed to various DEP concentrations, in the presence or absence of lipopolysaccharide as activating source, gives the idea to try some experimental study in the same direction, with several allergens, in order to understand, firstly, the changes in the surface expression of the most relevant CD molecules listed as cell surface markers of allergy, allergic inflammation, and/or asthma. It would be worth trying to work not only on the most significant cells, that is, basophils, but also on eosinophils and neutrophils, without forgetting natural killer cells. Working with flow cytometry on inner and outer pollen subparticles seems to be of particular high interest.
(2) Experimental Thunderstorm Studies. If the electrostatic charge, less than 1 femtocoulomb, of pollen from different anemophilous plant species has already been measured [283], nevertheless, in the polluen field, very few studies are available on atmospheric electricity parameters and their role in this specific aerosol fraction. However, it seems quite relevant to better understand what could be, for instance, the impact of changes in the electric field or modifications of conductivity levels or vertical potential gradient changes. But, taking the things from a reverse side, it could be also interesting to understand the role of these very important particles' mass on the atmospheric electricity, when it is known that pollen can, for instance, play a significant role as giant cloud condensation nuclei in clouds formation [284]. Several initial trials were performed on this subject in the 1990s [285''287]. A more recent study gave insights on accumulation of charge by atmospheric particles (namely, starch granules from inner pollen subparticles) and deposition efficiency in the lower airway regions of the human respiratory tract [288]. The thunderstorm atmospheric conditions are of course quite special, with high O3 levels, specific moisture, high wind speeds, and electricity. It might be difficult to precisely mimic experimentally such complex conditions; nevertheless, it should be possible to get at least some close chamber conditions for studying polluen material and, later on, polluen effects.
(3) About Rain, Fog, and Mist. If sudden temperature changes as well as barometric ones seem of importance for pollen release and polluen interactions, water is also a key point. It plays, for instance, a noticeable role in inner pollen subparticles dispersion. Sch¤ppi et al. evaluated that the proportion of dissemination of this specific fraction was of 37% in dry conditions and of 57% in case of light rain [113]. At the same time, in experimental conditions, Suphioglu et al. showed that the nebulization process could be of importance in asthma induction [118]. If works of Wang's team insisted also on the very important role of water and hydration in the polluen field, it should be quite relevant to better know the level of pollutants in rain water of different regions, in connection with bioaerosols load. Various PAHs present in rain, snow, and fog at specific levels had already been measured from place to place [289''291]. But what about the interactions of, for instance, ''rainy'' nanoparticles of ROFA, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or aldehydes with wettable surface of pollen and/or pollen issued material fragments? At the same time, production of nanosized fine particles such as fullerene, titanium dioxide, and carbon nanotubes has increased rapidly in recent years. Large quantities of these fine particles are discharged to the environment intentionally or unintentionally in the course of their production, use, and disposal. What about the interactions of these other nanoparticles with pollen material in rainy situations [148]? Because an increase in humidity triggers a cascade of reactions resulting in activation of highly dynamic metabolic processes as well as a rapid increase of new compounds and conformational modifications of the pollen proteins content, studying rain, mist, and fog interactions sounds justified.
(4) Molecular and Proteomic Approaches. Through Bryce et al.'s work [96] and some others from the ZAUM group, it has been shown that allergenicity is determined by more than the sole allergen content. Nevertheless, molecular and proteomic approaches could still give rich elements in polluen studies. Indeed, allergens, as airborne proteins, may be structurally altered by air pollution. Some posttranslational modifications (PTMs) can affect their activity, conformation, folding, distribution, stability, and therefore function. They include glycosylation, phosphorylation, formylation, hydroxylation, methylation, S-nitrosylation, oxidation, and ubiquitination [154]. Providing experiments on these PTMs could be useful for the prediction of the increase of the allergic risk for an allergic patient to be in a polluted area. The expected effect of artificial pollution might be either qualitative, that is, associated with a decreased or higher number of allergens recognized in the polluted pollen extract, or quantitative, that is, a lower or a stronger binding to the polluted allergens than to the nonpolluted ones. The results could help clinicians anticipate and prevent the issue, especially in case of a suspected exacerbation, of clinical symptoms by recommending an adapted treatment.
The specific study of PTMs can be realized either directly from 2D gel electrophoresis analysis or after purification of the protein by immunoaffinity. It has been shown that the two ionization modes ESI and MALDI give complementary information [292]. Label-free approaches such as Multiple Reaction Monitoring should also be considered for the detection of specific modifications in complex peptidic mixtures [293]. Apart from physicochemical changes, air pollutants could have direct effects on IgE reactivity of allergens. It can be studied by immunoprint techniques after 2D gel separation of pollen protein extracts. Interactions between IgE and allergens (exhibiting or not pollutants induced PTMs) are thus to be considered at molecular level. A functional comparison between polluted and nonpolluted extracts regarding their ability to induce basophils degranulation is of obvious relevance.
Among the plant allergens currently described and listed by the International Union of Immunological Societies, around 25% are issued from pathogenesis-related proteins (PR) [294]. These PR proteins display multiple effects within the plant and can be regarded as a part of the plant's defense system [295]. It seems of evidence that when studying interactions of polluen with allergic people, they have to be envisaged among the most important ones.
The role of lipids in allergenicity is still understudied [296, 297]. The interactions of pollutants-lipids-allergens could be envisaged associating lipidomic and proteomic approaches. Finally, the last example that we would give of potential molecular works on polluen concerns epigenetic changes that occur on pollen material through diverse factors, for example, anthropogenic factors, and therefore that could play a role in allergic sensitization. It can have also consequences on allergy diseases and asthma [298] but, as far as we know, such research branch is still in infancy.
(5) Multiple Oxidations. When looking at the very rich work by Shalaby et al. [190], one can be eager to do the same but with polluted pollen material. Indeed, at the cross of oxidative stress and TLR4 activation and its associated TIR domain initiating the signaling cascade (in this case, TRIF), this team, from McGill University (Montreal), had in mind seeing if the protease activity of pollen (from Betula populifolia in this specific study) is capable of triggering TLR4-TRIF pathways and the development of allergic airway disease. The hypothesis was that oxidative stress, potentially activating the TLR4-TRIF pathways, is important in mediating allergic sensitization via the airway mucosa. TLR4 (Toll-like receptor 4 also known as CD284) not only is implicated in pathogen recognition and activation of innate immunity but also plays a very significant role in compromising mucosal tolerance to elicit allergic sensitization and/or to drive inflammatory responses to antigens via the airways.
After experimenting on BALB/c mice (TLR4- and TRIF-deficient ones as well as wild-type as controls), their conclusions were as follows. (i) Oxidative stress is important in amplifying airway disease independently of sensitization. (ii) Oxidative stress is critical to the development of airway inflammation consequently to inhaled pollen extract, while TLR4 and TRIF signaling are not necessary for mucosal sensitization to pollen leading to airway disease but modulate the inflammatory response. (iii) Pollen-induced oxidative stress is not critical for allergic sensitization. (iv) Intrinsic NAD(P)H oxidase activity, or other enzymatic activity, is not in the general pattern of pollen allergenicity. Thus, actively working on oxidative stress sounds crucial in the field of polluen studies.
6. ConclusionsAtmospheric pollution has direct effects on physical, chemical, and biological properties of the pollen grains. A large number of laboratory researches on artificial pollution of pollen as well as studies on pollen sampled in more or less polluted zones have clearly shown several noxious effects on pollen grains. As a first undoubted clue, for a large number of plant species, the viability and germination of pollen grains are modified by air pollutants, even at very low doses of exposure. The chemical composition of pollen is also modified by air pollution. Changes in inorganic ions composition are the most abundantly studied and documented chemical effect. Because of high NO2 content in polluted areas, nitration was documented and results showed that pollen proteins could be nitrated by urban or industrial pollution. But, at the same time, the ratio of nitrated pollen proteins in atmospheric conditions, whatever polluted or unpolluted ones, stays unknown. Moreover, interactions between pollen and air pollutants could lead to the formation of degraded components playing the role of adjuvant on the allergic response through essentially proinflammatory properties. Pollen is not equal in front of the pollution and there is a growing body of evidence showing that susceptibility of pollen to pollutants varies according to the plant species. It is also reported that pollen is more resistant when exposed in vivo rather than in vitro. Polluted pollen which may be called ''polluen," because of the interface between pollutants and pollen, exhibits physical degradations of the exine, but the statistical significance of these observations is not known: what is the proportion of pollen grains showing these degradations in the atmosphere? These degradations lead to the release of pollen subparticles that were shown to contain allergens. The bioavailability of allergens increases as smaller particles penetrate more deeply in the respiratory tract. However, the effect of atmospheric pollution on the dispersion and allergenicity of these subparticles is for the moment still not clearly and not fully elucidated.
More studies are required in order to better understand the mechanisms of polluen rupture, its real occurrence in atmospheric conditions, and consequences on allergenic sensitization and immune and inflammatory boosting effect. Allergenic potential of pollen, quantified most frequently by the total major allergen content or skin prick test, is modulated by atmospheric pollution. In a majority of plant species, polluen is more allergenic than healthy pollen even though some controversial results have been reported.
On animal models, whatever aspect is considered, gases, PM, DEP, or combined pollutants effects, no clear and unambiguous lines of evidence can be put forward. With some pollen sources, some specific animals, and some pollutant levels, IgE concentration can change (polluted versus natural control). The change in IL5 level, one of the ''allergic'' Th2 cytokines, has been demonstrated in some cases. Similarly, nonunivocal results were obtained in in vivo human experiments and with human cells (in vitro and ex vivo). Based upon several experimental reports, some consensus nevertheless emerged. For instance, increasing DEP with constant levels of allergen resulted in increasing clinical prevalence of allergy at respiratory level. Also, whatever the type of cells (neutrophils, basophils, or epithelial and dendritic cells) polluted material has more effects than unpolluted control one. Obviously allergenicity is a plastic notion depending not only on intrinsic characteristics of the allergenic source such as its physical nature (molecule, particle, organism, etc.), its quantitative environmental level, and its route of penetration into humans but also on the biogenic associated molecules (bacteria, virus, lipids, and organic small molecules) and the xenogeneic and anthropogenic associated pollutants (gases, PM, etc.). All these various partners interact together at different levels of the sensitization process, from the contact with the first barrier defense (skin and nasal or bronchial mucosa) to the cellular activation in tissue, blood stream, and lymph nodes. Interacting partners are multiple as well as tissue and cellular targets. Some are still unknown as, for instance, cellular targets for gases such as NO which is at the crossroad of various activation pathways. Deciphering all triggering signals is a challenge for the next future and will require relevant and efficient analytic and synthetic tools.
At an environmental level, there is nowadays no quantitative indicator to evaluate the extent of pollution suffered, intrinsically and/or atmospherically, by a pollen grain in ''real life.'' To better understand the complex species-dependent interactions between plant, soil, atmosphere, and meteorological conditions as well as the effect of these interactions on health, more systematic interdisciplinary standardized studies are needed, which should use, before all, well-described pollen grains (in terms of species, sampling, storage conditions, macromolecules, and water content) and well-characterized pollutant doses.
AcknowledgmentThe authors wish to thank Christiane Mayer for her precious and skillful technical assistance.
Conflict of InterestsThe authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.
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Panasonic's battery-cell operations at Tesla's Gigafactory are chaotic - Business Insider
Wed, 24 Apr 2019 17:48
Insiders have described a chaotic environment in Panasonic's battery-making operation in the Nevada desert, one where standard operating procedures go ignored, expensive mistakes are born from carelessness, and half a million pieces of scrap are generated daily.
"I do not think that Tesla knows everything [that goes on on Panasonic's side]," one former employee who left the company last year said. "It's impossible to know everything. If Elon Musk was to know what was truly going on, he would flip his lid."
Tesla and Panasonic share the Gigafactory, the massive manufacturing plant outside Reno, Nevada, built in 2016. At the Gigafactory, under the same roof, Panasonic makes cells for Tesla's cars, and then Tesla turns the cells into batteries for its new Model 3 sedan. Tesla also makes the drive units for the Model 3 there.
Last week, Nikkei reported that Tesla and Panasonic would freeze plans to expand the Gigafactory. Tesla's stock fell, while Panasonic's rose after the news. Tesla responded by saying that both companies were still putting "substantial funds" into the Gigafactory, but that there's more "output to be gained from improving existing production equipment."
Tesla CEO Elon Musk called Panasonic's production rate a "constraint on Model 3 output" that the company has known about since July.
Three current and former employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Business Insider that the operation scraps roughly half a million cells each day. Business Insider reviewed internal company documents, including some related to an oil spill that sent management scrambling for weeks to find potentially contaminated cells.
Together they tell a story of an operation that is still trying to get its bearings as batteries roll off the production line and into Model 3s. And just like on the Tesla side of the Gigafactory, there's intense pressure to meet production goals and work at breakneck speed.
A Panasonic spokesperson replied to a list of Business Insider's detailed questions about these issues with the following statement:
Panasonic produces the most advanced electric vehicle battery cells because we pay exceptional attention to quality. Our quality-control protocols are industry standards and include cleanroom environments and laboratory-like working conditions. The battery cells go through several testing gates before they are released to Tesla, and Tesla separately tests the cells after delivery. We are proud to have helped propel one of the most exciting revolutions in the auto industry.
If you have any experience working with Tesla or Panasonic, email me at llopez@businessinsider.com.
Markets Insider
Tiny little big mistakes Quickly, here are a few very broad words on how lithium-ion batteries are made.
The inside of the battery is made up of a sheet of a positively charged electrode (anode) and a sheet of a negatively charged electrode (cathode); there is a thin material separating the two. All of that rolled together makes the inside of a battery cell.
Panasonic sends Tesla about 3 million battery cells daily, making this a massive operation that comes with all of what that entails '-- giant 16-foot-high mixers churning lithium and other chemicals, standard operating procedures meant to keep volatile ingredients clean, and a tracking system to follow materials as they go through the production process.
It's an expensive operation too. Panasonic makes up the lion's share of Tesla's $18 billion worth of purchase obligations, $4.8 billion of which is due in 2019, according to Tesla company filings.
The current and former employees told Business Insider that standard operating procedures often go ignored without consequence at the facility.
On several occasions, something has fallen into one of the 16-foot mixers '-- which contain a blend of chemicals, including volatile lithium '-- inside the plant, three people with knowledge of the situation told Business Insider. That "something" '-- whether it be scissors, a roll of tape, a tool '-- is generally found when the mixer is being cleaned.
"People just don't have the integrity to say, 'Hey, I did something wrong,'" one former employee said.
Greg Less, the technical director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute's Battery Fabrication and Characterization User Facility, told Business Insider that if a piece of shrapnel got into the lithium mix, it could pierce the separator between the anode and cathode and cause a hard short.
The shrapnel wouldn't have to be very big at all, either '-- a millimeter or half a millimeter '-- and it could be thin, the width of a human hair, or thinner, Less said. Conceivably, if the piece were long enough to pierce the separator and carry a current between the anode and cathode, it could cause a fire, he said.
"Having pieces of metal in your mix could cause real performance issues, not to mention damage your equipment," Less said.
Read more: Wall Street is worried Tesla's going broke again
Taking a spill In September, there was an oil spill that sent Panasonic's operation into crisis mode for about two weeks, Business Insider also learned.
The spill was detected on September 17, according to internal documents viewed by Business Insider, but it's unclear exactly when it started. Mechanical oil got onto one of Panasonic's massive machines used to press cathode material into a sheet.
The machine then contaminated any of the product it touched. Employees had to stop what they were doing and sift through millions of nearly finished battery cells to find potentially affected product, sources said.
According to documents reviewed by Business Insider, as well as accounts from employees, Panasonic searched for product that had gone through the contaminated machine as far back as September 11. The search extended to the latest stages of the production process, and all the product that Panasonic suspected to be contaminated was scrapped, according to the internal documents and the employees.
One current employee who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution told Business Insider they were concerned that Panasonic hadn't correctly pinpointed when the spill started.
"If my car is leaking oil, how am I going to know what day it started?" the employee said.
Mark Ellis, a senior associate at the manufacturing consultancy Munro and Associates, said an oil spill like this one would upset him "tremendously" because all the product would be "automatic scrap."
"You don't want contamination on the electrodes," he told Business Insider by phone.
One current employee said they were concerned about contaminated cells because of Panasonic's tracking system on the factory floor. Would-be battery cells are tracked throughout the factory using a lot-number system.
As they move from stage to stage of production, the number grows longer, and at every new stage of production a new piece of paper with that number and other details are printed and taped onto the product, according to the employees.
The three current and former employees who spoke with Business Insider said that this paper often gets lost '-- the tape falls off or the paper rips. When that happens, workers will sometimes take a similar product's paper and use that to scan it down the line so that everything keeps moving without interruption. The people said that they worry that this practice, which is against the official procedure, hurts the traceability of the battery cells.
Read more: Internal documents reveal Tesla is blowing through an insane amount of raw material and cash to make Model 3s, and production is still a nightmare
Never enough Panasonic sends about 3 million battery cells over to Tesla a day, and the pressure is always on to beat previous goals. That is why, the employees told Business Insider, some workers inside the factory sometimes put tape over the sensors on machines that would catch defects. They don't want the production to stop.
"If I walked through a factory and saw tape on sensor, I'd be kicking ass," Ellis told Business Insider.
Defects that are missed earlier in the process are often detected later down the line as product goes into the winding phase of production, in which the sheets are wound together as a cylinder. Panasonic's winding machines have dozens of sensors '-- too many for workers to tamper with. So the machines can find defects, including bad or expired material, dust, and misalignment.
A Tesla spokesperson said that it conducts multiple tests on battery cells once they're received from Panasonic and that cells that don't make the cut are sent back to Panasonic.
The winding phase is where much of the factory's scrap comes from '-- amounting to a fairly consistent half a million battery cells a day, one current and one former employee said. Employees start every shift with a departmental meeting, during which they're told about the previous shift's production and the number of cells scrapped.
"Why do we throw away half a million batteries a day? Because people are slobs and the stuff's not clean," the former employee said. All three current and former employees also said that rules for clean-room dressing often go ignored inside the factory.
According to Ellis, winders should be running at 70 to 85% efficiency and shouldn't be catching much scrap at all.
"If the scrap was from the winders, I'd be going ballistic," he said. "They've made cylindrical cells for decades. And if people can't make their machines do something they've been doing for decades, shame on them. They should be running at much higher efficiency than that."
A Panasonic spokesperson responded to Ellis' statement, saying that the company "respectfully disagrees" with his estimates and that they do not reflect the company's numbers.
But both Less and Ellis said that the farther along a damaged product goes into the production process, the more money is wasted on labor, material, and the depreciation of equipment.
"That [scrap level] is really excessive. I would be kicking some ass big time if that were my factory," Ellis said. "They obviously don't have all of their assembly processes under control. That's what would cause that."
If you have any experience working with Tesla or Panasonic, email me at llopez@businessinsider.com.
Read more:
Musk just had a terrible week and it could easily get worse, fast
Wall Street is worried that Tesla's going broke yet again
We just got a little taste of how complicated things could get for Tesla in China
Poop Cities
San Francisco hands out 4.45 million needles each year, says report - Curbed SF
Mon, 22 Apr 2019 12:13
Mayor Mark Farrell has said, repeatedly, in recent weeks that the problem of discarded syringes on city streets has become a sticking point for him, and the city promised millions of dollars to curb the problem of hazardous waste on sidewalks and streets.
Meanwhile, San Francisco Chronicle's Matier and Ross chimed in Wednesday with an uncomfortable observation: Most of the needles littering streets in downtown neighborhoods came by way of the city itself, as part of the Department of Public Health's 25-year-old needle exchange program.
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According to the paper, the city hands out millions of syringes each year but collects roughly 60 percent of them back.
While not all of them end up on the streets'--and indeed, it's not possible to source where every single needle in the citywide haystack comes from'--the numbers make it hard to conclude anything except that San Francisco is helping to supply the materials for a pressing public health problem.
As for why the city does this in the first place, here's a rundown of the relevant numbers:
SF Director of Health Barbara Garcia estimated in 2016 that San Francisco has about 22,000 intravenous drug users, about one per every 38.49 residents based on a rough 2016 population of 846,816. The city distributes approximately 400,000 syringes per month, about 18 per person, or one every one and a half to two days, between 4.45 to 4.8 million annually. The reason the city does this is because in 2016 San Francisco had roughly 16,000 residents living with HIV and some 13,000 people with hepatitis C. The Center For Disease Control consistently reports that free needle programs significantly reduce transmission rates for blood-born diseases and that they're cheaper than the additional public health costs from more infections.Of the 400,000 or so monthly distributed needles, the city collects approximately 246,000 back on a monthly basis, and the Department of Public Works estimates about 12,640 it nets during monthly cleanups. The Department of Public Health hopes that proposed safe injection sites will further reduce the number of discarded needles, estimating in 2016 that some 85 percent of the city's injection drug users would utilize such services at least some of the time if available.
Although discarded needles pose a serious health risk to the general public, the Chronicle does note that ''there are no known cases of disease from needle sticks in San Francisco.''
City Provided Needles [San Francisco Chronicle]Director's Report 2016, DPH HIV Info [SF Aids Foundation]SF Completes Hep C Estimates [Hep Mag]Clean Syringe Programs [CDC]Safe Injection Sites For SF [CNN]
Starbucks is installing needle-disposal boxes in locations across America following OSHA penalties and worker concerns about drug use in bathrooms | Business Insider India
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 14:47
Photo by Ken Faught/Toronto Star via Getty Images Starbucks has installed needle-disposal boxes in its locations' bathrooms in at least 25 US markets, as the chain works to address workers' safety concerns in recent months. By this summer, the coffee giant plans to have installed sharps boxes in bathrooms in all regions where such action was deemed necessary. The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated Starbucks' safety policies and practices in late 2018, after two employees at a store in Eugene, Oregon, were stuck with hypodermic needles within a month of each other, according to documents obtained by Business Insider through a Freedom of Information Act request. Starbucks was penalized $3,100 as a result of the investigation. Thousands of workers have called for Starbucks to install sharps boxes in its bathrooms as employees report finding blood and needles and being pricked by improperly discarded sharps, risking exposure to HIV and hepatitis. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.Starbucks' efforts to address opioid use and improperly disposed needles in its bathrooms are expanding.
Starbucks stores in at least 25 US markets have installed needle-disposal boxes in bathrooms in recent months. By this summer, the chain aims to have installed sharps boxes in bathrooms in all regions where such action has been deemed necessary.
The coffee giant also allows local district managers or store managers to put in requests to have sharps-disposal boxes installed in their locations' bathrooms.
"We are always working and listening to our partners on ways we can better support them when it comes to issues like these," Starbucks representative Reggie Borges said in an email to Business Insider.
Starbucks has been testing solutions in recent months as workers' safety concerns have mounted, with thousands of employees signing a petition calling for Starbucks to place needle-disposal boxes in high-risk bathrooms.
Read more: Drugs and syringes have become such a problem in Starbucks bathrooms that the company is installing needle-disposal boxes in certain locations
The company also faced at least one government investigation related to the issue in late 2018, after two employees in a Eugene, Oregon, location were stuck with hypodermic needles within a month of each other, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) documents obtained by Business Insider through a Freedom of Information Act request.
"I think the biggest and boldest move that Starbucks leaders can do right now is step aside from the potential political problems behind needle-disposal boxes in restrooms and give it a nationwide launch," one Seattle Starbucks worker whose location recently installed boxes in bathrooms told Business Insider.
"We have had zero toilet clogs and zero needles found in an unsafe place since we had them installed last month," the worker said. "It's been really wonderful."
Six Starbucks employees who spoke with Business Insider asked to remain anonymous in order to speak frankly.
'It is a scary situation' Business Insider
According to the Seattle Starbucks worker and other employees at the coffee giant who have worked in urban locations, encountering syringes on the job is often a fact of life.
" They generally appear in bathrooms, either wrapped up in paper towels or lurking at the surface of the garbage," the Seattle employee said. "We are responsible for removing them from public spaces and placing them in a sharps-disposal kit, always with gloves if not with tongs. Less often, they are poking out of the bottom of the bag when changing."
While messy bathrooms and drug use can create an uncomfortable work environment, most employees' top fear is an accidental needle prick. Being stuck by a hypodermic needle means risking exposure to HIV and hepatitis, and it requires workers to immediately visit a hospital or urgent-care unit for testing and treatment.
"It is a scary situation to see because we don't have needle-proof gloves and the only protection we have against any sharp objects is 'double bagging' a trash can with two bags instead of one, which is a ridiculous thing to actually think two plastic bags can stop a sharp needle," said a Nashville, Tennessee, Starbucks employee who has worked at the chain for more than a decade.
Starbucks provides training for employees on how to safely deal with hypodermic needles, including instructions for how to safely dispose of garbage and what to do in case of a needle-prick injury. Sharps kits have long been available in Starbucks locations - albeit not installed in bathrooms - as stores have the option to order a sharps kit along with their first-aid kits.
According to Starbucks, any employee who feels unsafe performing a task is encouraged to speak with his or her manager and will not be made to perform the action.
"These societal issues affect us all and can sometimes place our [employees] in scary situations, which is why we have protocols and resources in place to ensure our partners are out of harm's way," Borges said to Business Insider.
While Starbucks has established safety procedures, government documents and conversations with workers reveal that Starbucks has recently been forced to find new solutions in response to employees' growing concerns about needle-stick injuries on the job.
A 2018 OSHA investigation sparked change Oregon OSHAIn October 2018, the Oregon OSHA opened an investigation into a Eugene, Oregon, Starbucks location, after an employee filed a complaint with the administration. Two employees had recently been stuck by hypodermic needles at the store, the OSHA investigation confirmed.
Worry over needle sticks had reached such intensity at the Eugene Starbucks that a second employee filed a complaint after the Oregon OSHA had already begun investigating the situation.
"The manager confirmed two employees had received needle stick injuries within the last month from hypodermic needles left uncapped in the bathroom, and stated needles and blood had been found in the bathroom at this location for over a year, but the frequency of needles being left in the bathrooms had increased significantly in recent months," the Oregon OSHA inspection narrative states.
Oregon OSHA"During interviews, employees expressed frustration that a sharps container was not in the bathrooms for guests to use," according to the OSHA inspection narrative.
"Employees who received a sharps injury stated that they had not been contacted by anyone from Starbucks' corporate office regarding their injuries."
Starbucks was penalized $3,100 in the investigation, according to documents viewed by Business Insider, with the Oregon OSHA issuing fines for five violations in January 2019.
Among these fines was a $700 penalty for not providing containers for sharps in or near bathrooms where contaminated sharps were commonly found. Other violations included not making the hepatitis B vaccine available to all workers who might be exposed to the disease through needle pricks, insufficient training and exposure-control programs, and not having a properly functioning safety committee as required by Oregon law.
Starbucks made a number of changes at the location, according to OSHA documents filed by the coffee shop's manager of risk control in late January.
The location removed fixtures in the bathroom, including the large trash cans, diaper-changing stations, paper-towel dispensers, and toilet-seat-liner holders, and it moved a portable sharps container closer to the area where sharps had been found. According to the letter of corrective action, there have not been any needles found in the location's bathrooms since it made the changes.
Starbucks also updated its training processes and an exposure-control plan related to blood-borne pathogens.
Starbucks declined to comment further on the OSHA investigation.
Starbucks' search for a solution As the Oregon OSHA was investigating the Eugene location, Starbucks employees at other locations across the US were facing similar problems.
An employee began a Coworker.org petition to install needle-disposal boxes in mid-2018. As of January, when Business Insider reported that chain had started testing installing sharps bins in certain locations, more than 3,700 had signed the petition. As of Monday, the petition has reached 5,000 signatures.
In October,
three Starbucks employees in Seattle told local news outlets that they encountered hypodermic needles on the job nearly every day. They said they had to take antiviral medications to protect themselves from HIV and hepatitis.
Read more: Starbucks workers in Seattle claim that dangerous needle pokes and HIV-prevention drugs have become a routine part of working at the coffee giant
"My coworkers and I had all experienced needles left behind in the bathroom, store, and even in our drive-thru," one person who signed the petition to install needle-disposal boxes after working at a Starbucks location in Lynnwood, Washington, told Business Insider in January.
"My primary fear when I worked there would be taking out the bathroom garbages," said the former employee, who quit in 2018 after three years at the chain. "I was terrified that if I went to take the bag out, I would get poked by a needle I didn't know was there."
A number of employees who spoke with Business Insider said that they felt safety issues grew more serious after Starbucks announced an open-bathroom policy in May 2018.
"I think the bathroom policy has definitely changed the store's environment," one manager who works at a Starbucks location in Southern California told Business Insider in January. "It's great that Starbucks wants to try and include everyone, but that means that they include absolutely everyone."
Other workers said they did not feel that issues grew worse after Starbucks announced anyone could use its bathrooms, whether or not they had made a purchase at the stores.
Employees from both viewpoints said Starbucks needed to revamp its safety practices in regards to needles, especially in urban stores. As seen in the Eugene, Oregon, OSHA investigation, failure to do so could result in legal repercussions.
How needle-disposal boxes and sharps kits protect workers CintaThe opioid crisis is impacting restaurants, retailers, and other organizations with public bathrooms across the US.
In a study led by Brett Wolfson-Stofko for New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, 58% of the 86 New York City business managers surveyed said they had encountered drug use in their businesses' bathrooms. Another Center for Drug Use and HIV Research study of 15 service-industry workers found that a significant majority had encountered drug use, syringes, or both in bathrooms while on the job.
Wolfson-Stofko told Business Insider in January that employees he interviewed expressed concerns about being pricked by needles or having customers injure themselves. People who are inadvertently pricked by needles often pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket for emergency-room visits, tests, and medication.
"They're concerned about their health," Wolfson-Stofko said of the workers surveyed. "They're concerned about their customers' health."
Installing sharps containers is one of the first things that businesses can do to help workers avoid contact with improperly discarded syringes, according to Wolfson-Stofko. He also suggested that companies looking for ways to support in-store workers could provide training on how to deal with overdosing customers and support the installation of supervised-injection facilities in their community.
Sharps boxes are not the only way that Starbucks has sought to address unsafe needle disposal in stores.
In January, Business Insider reported that the chain was also testing
using heavier-duty trash bags to prevent needle pokes and removing trash cans from certain bathrooms. Social-media reports reveal that in Philadelphia, some locations have added blue lightbulbs in an effort to make it more difficult for people to find veins to inject drugs.
"We are constantly thinking through different ways to address these societal issues, including heavier-duty bags among other options," Borges told Business Insider on Monday.
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Travel Morality Index: The Top Countries for Ethical Travellers - LATC
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 22:48
Recent years have shown that the world is expanding, and with it comes an overwhelming sense of what is morally right and ethical. Seeing how different countries live, breath, and survive highlights the immoralities within our own societies, and the dangers tourism and travel is posing towards the environment, and those involved in the tourism industries '' such as local workers.
Travellers have an enormous power. So many countries rely on tourism as one of their main sources of income, and travellers have the ability to boycott places and events in order to force them to make ethical and moral changes. Or, alternatively, travellers can choose to visit those countries that have put in place good ethical practices, in order to encourage other destinations to follow suit.
So, here at The Latin America Travel Company, we have created a Travel Morality Index by analysing a variety of different factors that affect the ethicality and morality of a destination '' and thus affect the enthusiasm towards visiting by ethical travellers. We thoroughly researched surveys, blog posts, social media, polls, and more in order to come up with a list of important factors that need to be considered when assessing the morality of a destination. These included elements such as the human rights protection score of a country, the amount of animal rights legislation that was in place as of 1st March 2017, the gender equality rates '' pretty much everything that should be considered when considering how ethically good a place is. We then ranked countries around the world who offered the best of the best for these categories.
The number one destination for morality was Germany, with Austria and Iceland following in second and third place. We were thrilled to see Chile rank in the top 20, largely due to its high level of gender equality, and its animal welfare laws which includes measures towards anti-cruelty, protection and welfare of animals.
Uruguay also ranked highly at 26, thanks to its high Human Rights Protection score, which measures protection from political repression and violations of ''physical integrity rights''.
Read on below to find out the full results of our Travel Morality Index.
Germany ranked as highly as it did thanks to the fact it has the highest level of animal welfare protection possible, according to the Global Animal Law Project, as well as a gender inequality score of only 0.072, making it the 5th best country in the world for gender equality.
The country also scored the highest possible score of 1 in the ITUC Global Rights Index, with ''irregular violation of [workers] rights'', making it one of only 12 countries to get this score. Germany also came 17th in the Global Peace Index, and 9th in the positive peace report.
Following Germany, the top 10 countries are:
AustriaIcelandNetherlandsNew ZealandCanadaBelgiumFinlandCzech RepublicDenmark
Austria and Iceland ranked highly for similar reasons to Germany, although Iceland was awarded a very low score for animal welfare protection, with only basic national laws in place to protect animals. On the other hand, Iceland had the highest score for human rights protection in 2014 '' although it has gone down since 2012. Iceland also came 6th for gender inequality, and 1st in the Global Peace Index. Austria also scored highly across these categories, coming 3rd in the Global Peace Index, and ranking among the top 12 countries in the world for workers' rights.
We were thrilled to see our destinations of Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Argentina all rank in the top 50. Uruguay is the top 28th country in the world for human rights protections, while Argentina is in the top 100 in the Global Peace Index. Chile, Uruguay, and Costa Rica also all scored highly for gender equality.
The results by continent are as below:
Best country for ethic travel in Europe: GermanyBest country for ethic travel in South America: ChileBest country for ethic travel in North America: CanadaBest country for ethic travel in Oceania: New ZealandBest country for ethic travel in Asia: JapanBest country for ethic travel in Africa: Botswana
To compile the Travel Morality Index, we used the following methodology. We analysed a variety of studies and surveys of ethical travellers, and aspects of societies that would be considered ethical in order to determine what is looked for from a travel destination. The elements we found to be important were:
Human RightsAnimal WelfareGender EqualityWorkers' RightsState of Peace
In order to identify exactly what each destination had to offer, we searched through a variety of different sources. One source we looked at that would typically be considered one of the most important factors when assessing the morality of a country was the human rights protection, alongside what laws are in place to protect the rights of animals. We also added in the rate of gender equality, and worker's rights, in order to assess the morality of each country at a base level.
For each of the above categories, we scored each country from 1-5 (with 5 being the highest) and then added these scores together in order to get our final MTI score, with a total of 30 being available.
The full dataset is available upon request.
'Orwellian': Coin celebrating LGBTQ enters circulation - WND
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 22:52
The loonie coin celebrating LGBTQ rights in Canada (Royal Canadian Mint)
The homosexual agenda is now being thrust directly into the money system, at least in Canada.
The Royal Canadian Mint on Tuesday put into circulation a new coin, celebrating the ''decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada.''
Valued at one Canadian dollar, the coin, known as the ''loonie,'' features the words ''Equality-Egalite'' with the artwork of Vancouver-based artist Joe Average.
The debut of the newly minted coin is not without controversy.
''This is state-operated propaganda, pure and simple, using our money system,'' Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Coalition, Canada's largest pro-life group, told the Daily Caller.
''It's Orwellian. Something you'd expect from a dictatorship like Communist China, the former Soviet Union '...
''What [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau has done in putting homosexual propaganda on our coinage is really beyond the pale. Justin's father famously said that the state doesn't belong in the bedrooms of the nation. Justin is doing the opposite of what his father preached, and imposing the bedroom on our currency! It's outrageous '... This really is a brain-washing exercise, using our currency to indoctrinate all of society with Justin Trudeau's personal beliefs about homosexuality.''
''We encourage Canadians to boycott the gay loonie. If offered the coin as change, Canadians should say, 'No, please give me real currency.'''
Pompeo Says US Won't Seek Military Intervention in Iran '' Reports - Sputnik International
Wed, 24 Apr 2019 17:19
Middle East07:09 22.04.2019(updated 15:46 22.04.2019) Get short URL
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly told a group of Iranian-American community leaders that the Trump administration is not seeking regime change in the Islamic Republic through direct military intervention.
In a closed-door meeting with 15 Iranian-American community leaders at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel last Monday, Pompeo said the Trump administration is "not going to do a military exercise inside Iran", the news portal Axios reported, citing three sources that were in the room, including one who took detailed contemporaneous notes.
During the meeting, Pompeo reportedly was asked, ''If regime change does not occur internally what is the endgame?" the US Secretary of State responded that the administration is ''careful not to use the language of regime change'' and has no plans to intervene in Iran with military forces. When asked if the administration had considered the possibility of a coup, Pompeo quipped that he would not tell the attendees even if they had, prompting laughter in the room, according to the article.
READ MORE: US to Announce Iran Oil Sanctions Waivers Cancellation Starting May 2 '-- Reports
Pompeo also used euphemisms to describe the administration's position on Iran, saying that the administration's best interest is ''a non-revolutionary set of leaders leading Iran". He also added that the Trump administration would have handled the 2009 ''Green Movement", in which disputes over the legitimacy of the Iranian presidential election led to mass protests, differently from the Obama administration, but he did not detail how, according to Axios.
"[There is] no such thing as a moderate inside the Iranian regime anywhere today", he said, adding that there are also ''no guarantees'' that the Trump administration's tough new sanctions wouldn't hurt the people of Iran, according to the notes.
He also admitted that John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani had spoken at a rally of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), which had been designated a terrorist organisation by the US until 2012, but added that ''President Trump and I have not".
Tensions between the Trump administration and Iran have ramped up since Washington pulled out from the Iranian nuclear deal last year and reinstated sanctions against Tehran, including secondary sanctions against companies and financial institutions of countries that do business with the Islamic Republic or export its oil.
Admissions Scandal
Lori Loughlin blames husband for college admissions disaster | Toronto Sun
Mon, 22 Apr 2019 13:06
Full House star Lori Loughlin is pointing the finger at her husband for ensnaring the couple in the explosive college admissions scandal.
And it's creating a tidal wave of emotion in their previously happy household, the New York Post reports.
Loughlin and hubby fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli are fighting and both are fighting with their Instagram ''influencer'' daughter Olivia Jade.
The pair are accused of coughing up an eye-watering $500,000 to get their daughters '-- Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose '-- into the University of Southern California as members of the rowing team. Neither rows.
''Lori is constantly arguing with Mossimo because she is beginning to grasp that they are in very serious jeopardy,'' a source told Us Weekly.
In this Aug. 13, 2017 file photo, actress Lori Loughlin, center, poses with her daughters Bella, left, and Olivia Jade at the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles. Jordan Strauss / Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Initially, Loughlin appeared to treat the federal charges as a joke but now reality has set in that the pair could potentially face jail sentences of up to 40 years. They are charged with federal wire fraud and money laundering.
Now, Loughlin is said to be ''freaking out'' at the likelihood of a prison term. The couple at first thought prosecutors were bluffing and turned down the plea deal accepted by shame-faced Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman.
Instead, they were hit with the money laundering charges as the feds prove they're not kidding around. The couple has pleaded not guilty.
Loughlin's pals are also pinning the disaster on her husband.
''Everyone feels bad for her. They think the situation was something concocted by her husband,'' a second Us Weekly source said. ''Her friends don't like him.''
As for their 19-year-old daughter Olivia Jade, The Post reports that she was spotted Thursday partying with YouTube stars David Dobrik and Heather Hussar at Dobrik's home in Studio City.
Decoded Pixel on Twitter: "Here is my Nokia 9 Fingerprint sensor issue, phone can be unlocked using a chewing gum packet or someone else's finger. Even unlocked with a coin or leather gloves. Please do help me get my Nokia 9 sorted.'... https://t.co/gU66gb
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 13:34
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Coming to store shelves: cameras that guess your age and gender | PBS NewsHour
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 17:35
NEW YORK '-- Eyeing that can of soda in the supermarket cooler? Or maybe you're craving a pint of ice cream? A camera could be watching you.
But it's not there to see if you're stealing. These cameras want to get to know you and what you're buying.
It's a new technology being trotted out to retailers, where cameras try to guess your age, gender or mood as you walk by. The intent is to use the information to show you targeted real-time ads on in-store video screens.
WATCH: How retailers are banking on options and experiences to draw in shoppers
Companies are pitching retailers to bring the technology into their physical stores as a way to better compete with online rivals like Amazon that are already armed with troves of information on their customers and their buying habits.
With store cameras, you may not even realize you are being watched unless you happen to notice the penny-sized lenses. And that has raised concerns over privacy.
''The creepy factor here is definitely a 10 out of 10,'' said Pam Dixon, the executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit that researches privacy issues.
''We shouldn't be gathering the emotional state of anyone.''
At the National Retail Federation trade show in New York earlier this year, a smart shelf on display by Mood Media tried to detect ''happiness'' or ''fear'' as people stood in front it '-- information a store could use to gauge reaction to a product on the shelf or an ad on a screen. Cineplex Digital Media showed off video screens that can be placed in malls or bus stops and try to tell if someone is wearing glasses or sporting a beard, which in turn can be used to sell ads for new frames or razors.
The screens can also be placed at the drive-thru. A minivan pulling into a fast food restaurant, for example, might get an ad for a family-sized meal on the video screen menu.
For now, the cameras are in just a handful of stores.
Kroger, which has 2,800 supermarkets, is testing cameras embedded in a price sign above shelves in two stores in the suburbs outside Cincinnati and Seattle. Video screens attached to the shelves can play ads and show discounts. Kroger said the cameras guess a shopper's age and sex but the information is anonymous and the data is not being stored. If the tests work out well, the company said it could expand it into other locations.
Walgreens, which has more than 8,000 drugstores, installed cooler doors with cameras and sensors at six locations in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Bellevue, Washington. Instead of the usual clear glass doors that allow customers to see inside, there are video screens that display ads along with the cooler's contents.
READ MORE: Tesla expects to have fully self-driving cars by next year
Above the door handle is a camera that can try to guess ages and track irises to see where you are looking, but Walgreens said those functions are off for now. The company said the cameras are currently being used to sense when someone is in front of the cooler and count the number of shoppers passing by. It declined to say if it will turn on the other functions of the camera.
''All such enhancements will be carefully reviewed and considered in light of any consumer privacy concerns,'' Walgreens said.
Advocates of the technology say it could benefit shoppers by showing them discounts tailored to them or drawing attention to products that are on sale. But privacy experts warn that even if the information being collected is anonymous, it can still be used in an intrusive way.
For instance, if many people are eyeing a not-so-healthy dessert but not buying it, a store could place it at the checkout line so you see it again and ''maybe your willpower breaks down,'' said Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law and co-director of its Tech Policy Lab.
''Just because a company doesn't know exactly who you are doesn't mean they can't do things that will harm you,'' Calo said.
The technology could also lead to discriminatory practices, like raising prices when an older person walks in or pushing products based on your perceived mood such as ads for anti-depression medication if the cameras think you look sad, adds Dixon of the World Privacy Forum.
''We shouldn't be gathering the emotional state of anyone,'' Dixon said.
At a Walgreens in New York, a sign above a rack of wines said the store is testing cameras and sensors that ''do not identify you or store any images.'' The sign doesn't say where the cameras or sensors are, but it does have a web address for the privacy policy of Cooler Screens, the company that makes the doors.
Calvin Johnson, who was looking for a Snapple, said he visited the store before, but didn't notice the cameras until a reporter pointed them out.
''I don't like that at all,'' Johnson said.
Another shopper, Ray Ewan, said he noticed the lenses while grabbing a Diet Coke, but isn't concerned since cameras are hard to avoid.
''There's one on each corner,'' Ewan said.
Not all retailers are keen on adding embedded cameras. Walmart's Sam's Club, which is testing shelves with digital price tags, is cautious about them.
''I think the most important thing you do with tech like that is to make sure people know,'' said John Furner, Sam's Club's CEO. ''You don't want to surprise people on how you use technology or data.''
Jon Reily, vice president of commerce strategy at consultancy Publicis.Sapient, said retailers risk offending customers who may be shown ads that are aimed at a different gender or age group. Nonetheless, he expects the embedded cameras to be widely used in the next four years as the technology gets more accurate, costs less and shoppers become used to it.
For now, he said, ''we are still on the creepy side of the scale.''
Associated Press reporters Manuel Valdes in Seattle and Anne D'Innocenzio in New York also contributed to this story.
More smartdrive foolishness | TruckersReport.com Trucking Forum | #1 CDL Truck Driver Message Board
Wed, 24 Apr 2019 02:21
I'm being routed to the main terminal I believe to be reprimanded for triggering the camera. Dont know exactly what's in store for me or not. Hopefully if the worst does happen I'll be able to find another driving job quickly.Just to explain how idotic this system is I'll explain what else triggered it.Just a few moments ago I dropped a trailer. It had 43k in it mostly toward the nose of said trailer. I drive an automatic kenworth t680 Eaton ultrashift with urge to move. While pulling out from under it urge to move selects second gear but almost kills the truck, i add throttle being careful not to let the trailer slam down. The truck suddenly downshifts and LUNGES forward but I'm quick on the brake to keep from letting the landing legs hit hard (i stop it while the trailer is still on 5th wheel, drop suspension and let her down easy). This trips extended recording on the camera. So now I'll be recorded for 5 days at a time. With almost live feed being sent to my safety department.
It also triggered earlier while climbing a 45* hill because I put it to the floor from a stop. (While pulling that heavy ### trailer) because I've killed this truck twice going up that hill and trying to slowly push down the go pedal.
DHS plan for face scanning at airports sparks alarm | TheHill
Wed, 24 Apr 2019 12:10
Lawmakers and civil liberties advocates are calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to halt plans to begin using facial recognition technology on nearly all departing air passengers within the next four years.
The agency's plan has reignited the fight over the sensitive technology. Critics say facial recognition technology is not ready for large-scale deployment and that DHS has failed to establish specific rules to prevent abuses and policies for handling the collected data.
''The Department of Homeland Security is plowing ahead with its program to scan travelers' faces, and it's doing so in absence of adequate safeguards against privacy invasions, data breaches, and racial bias,'' Sen. Ed Markey Edward (Ed) John MarkeyAmazon hiring alcohol lobbyist Tlaib rallies in support of Green New Deal at Detroit town hall Ben & Jerry's backs Green New Deal: 'We have to act now' MORE
(D-Mass.) said in a statement to The Hill. ''Homeland Security should change course and stop its deployment of facial recognition technology until it meets that standard.'' Markey and Sen. Mike Lee Michael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP senator compares Mueller report's obstruction findings to 'Pinocchio' in 'Shrek 3' Dems sound alarm over top DOJ nominee Restore Pell Grant eligibility to people in prison MORE (R-Utah) have raised these concerns with DHS over the past year, releasing statements and sending letters to the agency urging it to halt the program until it puts specific safeguards in place. So far, according to Markey's office, the department has ignored their warnings.
DHS has been implementing its ''biometric exit'' program, which photographs some visitors when they are departing the U.S., for years, expanding to 15 major airports with plans to reach five more. President Trump Donald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE in 2017 signed an executive order speeding up the rollout of the face-scanning technology, and Congress in 2016 authorized up to $1 billion over the next 10 years to implement the program.
The stated purpose of the program is to identify non-U.S. citizens who have overstayed their visas, but it captures the faces of U.S. citizens as well. The agency says it has successfully identified 7,000 people at major U.S. airports who have overstayed their visas.
The DHS report published last week, which was provided to the House and Senate judiciary committees, is the latest sign that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) '-- DHS's largest federal law enforcement agency '-- is fast-tracking the implementation of the program at the country's largest airports.
That has privacy advocates in an uproar. They say DHS is ignoring concerns that facial recognition technology wrongly recognizes certain populations at higher rates and allegations that the agency ignored formal procedures required to implement such a wide-ranging program.
''DHS wants to scan your face before it has issued formal rules to protect your privacy,'' Harrison Rudolph, an associate at Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology, told The Hill. ''Without rules, there could be little that stands in the way of DHS breaking its privacy promises. That's deeply alarming.''
According to a tranche of documents released by the Electronic Privacy Information Center last month, CBP skipped parts of the formal rulemaking process that requires federal agencies to solicit public comments before they adopt technology that will be used on U.S. citizens.
Privacy advocates have continued to call for CBP to undertake a rulemaking process, which would allow them to push for safeguards and limits on its data collection.
As it stands, CBP says it keeps the photos of those identified as U.S. citizens for 14 days before disposing of them. The agency keeps photographs of non-U.S. citizens for up to 75 years.
Neema Singh Guliani, a senior legislative council at the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Hill that she is concerned by CBP's refusal to establish rules around how passengers can opt out of face scanning.
''The agency has not undertaken any rulemaking to clarify how it's going to use this information, what privacy protections will apply, what recourse individuals may have in the event that their privacy is violated,'' Guliani said. ''They haven't provided clarity or information as to how U.S. citizens or others can opt out of face recognition.''
The agency says it is working to propose a rule that would require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to be photographed. But it is unclear what safeguards that would include.
Currently, CBP says passengers are welcome to decline to participate in the program. But according to the airlines partnering with the agency, very few passengers do so.
And CBP also says it cannot prevent the private companies that provide the facial recognition technology from keeping the biometric data they capture. Airports and airlines solicit third-party vendors to provide the cameras used by CBP.
''If any airline wanted to suddenly start their own photograph database, that's their business to do with their customer, but it cannot in any way connect to us for any matching,'' a CBP official told The Hill. The official noted that ''nobody wants to be in the biometric game'' or ''keep this data'' because they recognize it is a ''responsibility.''
Those vendors include SITA, a multinational information technology company that focuses on airport transportation; NEC Corporation, a Japanese information technology company; and Vision-Box, a Portugal-based multinational technology company.
SITA, which has worked with JetBlue and CBP on biometric exit at three U.S. airports, in an emailed statement told The Hill that it does not distribute ''biometric information to any party other than the customer ... and to CBP.'' It said it only uses personal information to share with CBP and ''expedite passengers' departure.''
The other two companies did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.
Besides the concerns around data collection, critics say facial recognition is not ready for large-scale deployment.
DHS face scans have been shown to misrecognize U.S. citizens, as well as young and old people, at higher rates, according to a September audit of biometric exit by the DHS Office of the Inspector General.
U.S. citizens, according to the watchdog report, were up to six times more likely to be rejected by DHS than non-U.S. citizens last year. And individuals under the age of 29, who accounted for 18 percent of all passengers, accounted for 36 percent of all passengers rejected by DHS's system.
A CBP official told The Hill that its facial recognition system will be undergoing an external assessment over the next six months.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a non-regulatory federal agency, will be assessing DHS's face scanning system for bias testing. The two agencies have signed all the appropriate paperwork and started holding exploratory meetings in the past few weeks, according to the official.
Officials are trying to calm worries about the new technologies.
''Nobody wants to have an anomaly in the way the system matches and operates,'' the CBP official said. ''The federal government has policies against that, and we don't want to do that.''
Lawmakers, though, note that there are no laws in the U.S. specifically governing the use of facial recognition technology even as it is being rapidly deployed at airports. And they want DHS to address their concerns.
''DHS has a statutory requirement to submit a report to Congress detailing the viability of biometric technologies, including privacy implications and accuracy,'' Markey and Lee wrote in a statement last month.
''DHS should pause their efforts until American travelers fully understand exactly who has access to their facial recognition data, how long their data will be held, how their information will be safeguarded, and how they can opt ou t of the program altogether.''
Facebook privacy: Social media company expects fine up to $5 billion
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 11:01
Barbara Ortutay, Associated Press Published 5:09 p.m. ET April 24, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO '-- Facebook said it could face a fine of up to $5 billion as the result of an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The agency has been investigating Facebook for possible privacy violations but has not announced any findings yet.
The company set aside $3 billion in its quarterly earnings report Wednesday as a contingency against the possible penalty.
The one-time charge slashed Facebook's first-quarter net income considerably, although revenue grew by 25% in the period. The FTC has been looking into whether Facebook broke its own 2011 agreement promising to protect user privacy.
Investors shrugged off the charge and sent the company's stock up nearly 5% to $190.89 in after-hours trading.
Job opportunity: McDonald's commits to hiring older Americans to fill jobs
In this March 28, 2018, file photo, a visitor poses for a photo with the Facebook logo reflected on her sunglasses at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Facebook reports earnings Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP)
Facebook has had several high-profile privacy lapses in the past couple of years. The FTC has been looking into Facebook's involvement with the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica scandal since last March. That company accessed the data of as many as 87 million Facebook users without their consent.
Facebook while black: Users call it getting 'Zucked,' say talking about racism is censored as hate speech
The social network said Wednesday that its net income was $2.43 billion, or 85 cents per share in the January-March period. That's down 51% from $4.99 billion, or $1.69 per share, a year earlier, largely as a result of the $3-billion charge.
Revenue grew 26% to $15.08 billion from a year earlier. Excluding the charge, Facebook earned $1.89 per share.
Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.62 per share and revenue of $14.98 billion.
Facebook's monthly user base grew 8% to 2.38 billion. Daily users grew 8% to 1.56 billion.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2019/04/24/facebook-expects-ftc-privacy-fine-up-5-billion/3566567002/
How healthy is the internet? '-- The Internet Health Report 2019 '-- The Internet Health Report 2019
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 11:08
Our 2019 compilation of research and stories explains what's key to a healthier internet across five issues, from personal experience to global concerns.
Is it safe? The internet is where we could live, love, learn and communicate freely. To be ourselves, we need to be able to trust the systems that protect us.
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How open is it? The internet is transformative because it is open: everyone can participate and innovate. But openness is not guaranteed '' it's always under attack.
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Who is welcome? It's not just about how many people have access to the internet, but whether that access is safe and meaningful for all of us.
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Who can succeed? Getting online isn't enough on its own. Everyone needs skills to read, write and participate in the digital world.
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Who controls it? A few large players dominate much of the online world, but the internet is healthier when it is controlled by many.
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FeaturedReading Lists Friends of the Internet Health Report have created reading lists of their favorite articles with a brief note about their selections.
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This Conversation Between A Passenger And An Airline Should Absolutely Terrify You | IFLScience
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 12:52
A conversation between a passenger and an airline has gone viral, largely because people find it intensely creepy.
MacKenzie Fegan went to the airport last week. As with normal flights, she was expecting at some point to present her boarding card in order to get on her plane. However, she found all she had to do was look at a camera, and at no point was asked for her pass.
As convenient as that sounds, she had questions, which she put to the airline, JetBlue, in a now-viral thread.
Fegan had several pressing follow-up questions, such as "how" and "who exactly has my face on record?".
"Presumably these facial recognition scanners are matching my image to something in order to verify my identity," she wrote. "How does JetBlue know what I look like?"
So how concerned should we be that companies like JetBlue have access to this data?
"You should be concerned," the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote on Twitter. "It's unprecedented for the government to collect and share this kind of data, with this level of detail, with this many agencies and private partners. We need proper oversight and regulation to ensure our privacy is protected."
This has been happening for a while behind the scenes, and is likely to become more common. Delta opened the first facial-recognition-powered terminal last year in Atlanta. The Department of Homeland Security in a report last week said that it wants to roll out facial recognition technology to be used on 97 percent of departing airport passengers by 2023.
It's convenient and fairly sci-fi, but it appears a lot of passengers find it quite creepy, particularly because of privacy concerns.
The system called (in somewhat sinister language) "Biometric Exit" cross-references a photo of your face taken when you look into the camera with images from a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) database containing photos of you from passport and visa applications, The Hill reports.
''Once you take that high-quality photograph, why not run it against the FBI database? Why not run it against state databases of people with outstanding warrants?" Professor Alvaro Bedoya, founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, told The Verge.
"Suddenly you're moving from this world in which you're just verifying identity to another world where the act of flying is cause for a law enforcement search.''
As it stands CBP retains any images in its database that are flagged for inspection (e.g. because someone has outstayed their visa or failed to obtain a visa in the first place). That's a lot of data that departments like the FBI might like to get their hands on, and there's only going to be more of it as the system is rolled out over the next four years.
Your Relative's DNA Could Turn You Into a Suspect | WIRED
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 14:54
Justin Poulsen; Illustrations by Anthony Dimitre
The three men who showed up at Michael Usry's door last December were unfailingly polite. They told him they were cops investigating a hit-and-run that had occurred a few blocks away, near New Orleans City Park, and they invited Usry to accompany them to a police station so he could answer some questions. Certain that he hadn't committed any crime, the 36-year-old filmmaker agreed to make the trip.
The situation got weird in the car. As they drove, the cops prodded Usry for details of a 1998 trip he'd taken to Rexburg, Idaho, where two of his sisters later attended college'--a detail they'd gleaned by studying his Facebook page. ''They were like, 'We know high school kids do some crazy things'--were you drinking? Did you meet anybody?''' Usry recalls. The grilling continued downtown until one of the three men'--an FBI agent'--told Usry he wanted to swab the inside of Usry's cheek but wouldn't explain his reason for doing so, though he emphasized that their warrant meant Usry could not refuse.
The bewildered Usry soon learned that he was a suspect in the 1996 murder of an Idaho Falls teenager named Angie Dodge. Though a man had been convicted of that crime after giving an iffy confession, his DNA didn't match what was found at the crime scene. Detectives had focused on Usry after running a familial DNA search, a technique that allows investigators to identify suspects who don't have DNA in a law enforcement database but whose close relatives have had their genetic profiles cataloged. In Usry's case the crime scene DNA bore numerous similarities to that of Usry's father, who years earlier had donated a DNA sample to a genealogy project through his Mormon church in Mississippi. That project's database was later purchased by Ancestry, which made it publicly searchable'--a decision that didn't take into account the possibility that cops might someday use it to hunt for genetic leads.
Usry, whose story was first reported in The New Orleans Advocate, was finally cleared after a nerve-racking 33-day wait'--the DNA extracted from his cheek cells didn't match that of Dodge's killer, whom detectives still seek. But the fact that he fell under suspicion in the first place is the latest sign that it's time to set ground rules for familial DNA searching, before misuse of the imperfect technology starts ruining lives.
Mitch Morrissey, Denver's district attorney and one of the nation's leading advocates for familial DNA searching, stresses that the technology is ''an innovative approach to investigating challenging cases, particularly cold cases where the victims are women or children and traditional investigative tactics fail to yield a solid suspect.'' Familial DNA searches have indeed helped nab people who might otherwise have evaded justice. In the most celebrated example, Los Angeles police arrested a man believed to be the Grim Sleeper serial killer after discovering that the crime scene DNA shared a significant number of genetic markers with that of a convicted felon'--who turned out to be the man's son.
Familial DNA searching is a scattershot approach that yields false leads.
But the well-publicized success stories obscure the fact that familial DNA searches can generate more noise than signal. ''Anyone who knows the science understands that there's a high rate of false positives,'' says Erin Murphy, a New York University law professor and the author of Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic DNA. The searches, after all, look for DNA profiles that are similar to the perpetrator's but by no means identical, a scattershot approach that yields many fruitless leads, and for limited benefit. In the United Kingdom, a 2014 study found that just 17 percent of familial DNA searches ''resulted in the identification of a relative of the true offender.''
The technology's limitations have the potential to cause real harm: What if Michael Usry was not a filmmaker, for example, but rather a high school teacher whose alleged involvement in a girl's murder was leaked to the media? Yet despite all that can go wrong, few states have developed guidelines. California, Colorado, Virginia, and Texas have detailed policies regarding how and when familial DNA searches can take place; Maryland and the District of Columbia explicitly forbid the technique. Elsewhere in the nation, cops are largely free to search as they see fit, which is why Idaho Falls police decided it was OK to sift through an Ancestry database of genetic data from thousands of people with no criminal records.
Familial DNA searching is only going to get more prevalent as the cost of rapid DNA analysis plummets and the size of genetic databases swells. States must start putting rules in place to protect citizens, beginning by prohibiting police from running searches through nongovernmental databases, as happened in Usry's case. This is not only because of privacy concerns'--the people who contribute their DNA to such endeavors, whether medical or genealogical, rarely expect to have their genetic code scrutinized by cops'--but also because those databases haven't been vetted for use by law enforcement. Police in Idaho Falls, for example, were able to obtain a warrant for Usry's cheek cells because his father's DNA ''matched 34 of 35 alleles'' of that of Angie Dodge's killer. But how common are those particular alleles in the general population? Does this even mean that there is a familial link? This isn't entirely clear. (Ancestry, which gave Idaho Falls police the name of Usry's father in response to a court order, has since shut down the database in question because, the company said, the ''site [had] been used for purposes other than that [for] which it was intended.'')
States should also follow California's lead by creating a layer of oversight that prevents cops from pursuing shaky matches. Before a police department in California can proceed with a familial DNA search, it must ask permission from a committee run by the state's Department of Justice, which determines whether the crime in question was serious enough to merit the procedure. (Only homicides and sexual assaults have been considered.) Once approved, a search must yield a match that conforms to rigorous reliability criteria, including a test that verifies that the criminal and the person in the database share an identical Y chromosome. (Y chromosomes are passed intact from father to son.) According to a 2012 report, only about 10 percent of California's searches return a match that warrants any investigative follow-up.
Even under the best of circumstances, widespread familial DNA searching will result in some innocents being compelled to offer DNA samples. When those people are exculpated, they deserve to reclaim their genetic privacy. ''There should be an automatic expungement of both the sample and profile, without any affirmative action from the individual,'' says Sonia Suter, a George Washington University Law School professor who has written about familial DNA searching. That requirement may seem like common sense, but it needs to be in writing. Genetic material is potentially valuable evidence, and law enforcement agencies are loath to relinquish it once they've acquired it; they cannot be trusted to destroy such evidence out of the kindness of their hearts.
Above all, states must be transparent about both the efficacy and the collateral damage of familial DNA searching: They should publish annual statistics regarding how many searches are conducted, what percentage of those result in convictions, and how many suspects are cleared after enduring a stressful period of suspicion. Only then can we get a sense of whether we're catching enough Grim Sleepers to merit causing problems for a whole lot of Michael Usrys.
Brendan I. Koerner (@brendankoerner) is a contributing editor and author of The Skies Belong to Us.
The Purge
President Trump sits down with Twitter boss for crunch talks: Why am I losing followers? ' The Register
Wed, 24 Apr 2019 12:06
Commander-in-chief whined about waning e-peen '' report Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com
When the "leader of the free world" hauled Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey into the White House for a meeting yesterday, you would be forgiven for thinking they'd attempt to address the issues that have bedevilled social media of late '' bots, disinformation, unsolicited DMs, Nazis...
But then again, we are living in a timeline where orange reality TV buffoon Donald Trump is president of the United States.
Thank you for the time. Twitter is here to serve the entire public conversation, and we intend to make it healthier and more civil. Thanks for the discussion about that.
'-- jack (@jack) April 23, 2019And, according to Reuters, the commander-in-chief was more concerned with the rate at which he was haemorrhaging Twitter followers.
You can just about see the life draining from Dorsey's eyes above as he's taken to task by the head of state.
The chinwag was organised under the guise of "protecting the health of the public conversation" before Americans head to the polls for next year's general election.
However, hours before the meeting, Trump was doing what Trump is wont to do, twanting (tweet-ranting) that the platform is discriminatory towards him and the wider right-of-centre political stance.
''The best thing ever to happen to Twitter is Donald Trump.'' @MariaBartiromo So true, but they don't treat me well as a Republican. Very discriminatory, hard for people to sign on. Constantly taking people off list. Big complaints from many people. Different names-over 100 M.....
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019Indeed, the newswire's source, "who was briefed on the meeting that included Twitter's general counsel and public policy chief", claimed the prez "spent a significant time" questioning Dorsey about where 204,000 of his followers had disappeared in July 2018. Now he has almost 60 million, bringing up the, ahem, rear of fellow reality TV star Kim Kardashian West.
Naturally, the Donald had not considered that perhaps those followers never truly existed in the first place '' as that summer month was when Twitter embarked on a purge of bots, fake accounts and propagandists in the wake of widespread concern that the platform had been used to influence voters at the 2016 US election. Which, duh, of course it was.
Still, it's common knowledge that the number of Twitter followers a person amasses is directly proportionate to how cool and well-liked they are so taxpayers will be thrilled to know that Trump really drilled down into the most important questions.
Just in case there was any question whether Twitter is politically biased, public policy director Carlos Monje told the US Senate earlier in this month that the platform "does not use political viewpoints, perspectives or party affiliation to make any decisions, whether related to automatically ranking content on our service or how we develop or enforce our rules".
But as Google learned to its detriment with the dissolution of its "AI ethics council" thingy, if people think you're an asshole, they're going to tweet about it. ®
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Media trust ranker NewsGuard launches in UK by greenlighting tabloids, adding ex-NATO chief to board '-- RT World News
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 10:55
NewsGuard, the trust-rating outfit that continues to approve of US media that spread the Russiagate conspiracy theory, has expanded operations to the UK and added a former NATO chief to its advisory board.
Announcing its UK debut on Wednesday, NewsGuard bragged about including Anders Fogh Rasmussen to their advisory board, describing him only as ''former prime minister of Denmark.'' While he did serve in that capacity between 2001 and 2009, his most recent public office was secretary-general of NATO (2009-2014), which NewsGuard omits from their tweet '' but not from the Advisory Board page.
Rasmussen's colleagues on NewsGuard's board include former US Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden, as well as the self-described former ''chief propagandist'' for the US government Richard Stengel.
Other new additions to the board are Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Richard Sambrook, former ''Director of Global News for the BBC'' who now provides ''editing and editorial guidance'' for NewsGuard's ''nutrition labels.''
Those labels rank news outlets оn a number of categories, which are then combined into a trustworthiness score, expressed as a green checkmark or red ''x.'' There is a certain pattern in which kinds of outlets get the former and which get the latter.
Three major UK tabloids '' The Sun, the Daily Mirror, and the Daily Star '' all got an overall ''green'' rating, for instance. While NewsGuard claims to be rating outlets rather than individual articles, if you have their extension installed in your browser (and it comes by default with Microsoft's Edge), you'll see a NewsGuard symbol next to actual story headlines in your searches.
Media critic John Nolte of Breitbart '' in the ''red'' category just like RT '' pointed out on Monday that NewsGuard's seal of approval can be found on nine of the top 12 debunked stories pushing the 'Russiagate' conspiracy theory. He provided screenshots.
Even after the 448-page report by special counsel Robert Mueller spelled out ''no collusion'' between US President Donald Trump and Russia, multiple mainstream media outlets that have pushed this conspiracy for almost three years have refused to apologize or correct their reporting, claiming instead it was ''mostly'' proven correct.
''That big, green checkmark of approval still sits next to some of the most misleading stories in history,'' Nolte wrote, adding, ''In all my decades of following the media, I have never seen a more Orwellian attempt to mislead people by deliberately labeling lies as truth and truth as lies.''
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Banned by Google for Opposing Infanticide | Power Line
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 12:40
America's PAC is a conservative political action committee run by Tom Donelson. It produces, among other things, radio and television advertising on behalf of, and in opposition to, politicians. Today America's PAC revealed that it has been permanently banned from advertising by Google:
In their on-going corporate campaign against political speech and advertising by Conservatives, Google has permanently suspended Americas PAC's advertising account saying, ''We've confirmed that your account is in violation of our Google Ads policies.''
Google did not cite which, if any, policies Americas PAC supposedly violated.
''My assumption is that we violated their policy that liberals should never be criticized,'' said Tom Donelson, Chairman of Americas PAC. ''Or maybe we violated their policy against effective conservative advertising. It is hard to know because they won't give us a reason.''
Google's email made it clear a reason for the suspension would never be given by saying, ''Our support team will not be able to give you any more specifics on the suspension.''
This is Google's communication to America's PAC:
What did America's PAC do to incur Google's ire? It ran two nine-second videos as YouTube prerolls. One attacked Senator Tina Smith, the other attacked Senator Gary Peters. The ads began to run on April 3, and Google suspended both that campaign and America's PAC's account on April 5.
What was offensive about the ads? They targeted the senators for their votes against cloture on S. 311, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The Act would require that any child born alive following an attempted abortion be provided appropriate medical care, rather than be allowed to die. This is one of the ads:
I suppose the Democrats would say the ads are misleading because Smith and Peters didn't vote against ALL ''medical care for babies.'' But the ad identifies S.111 and vote 27, on which Peters and Smith both voted No (as did all but three Democrats). It would be interesting to know how many Democratic Party ads Google has approved that claim Republicans are trying to deprive people of their health care, a claim that is not just misleading but outright false.
Tom Donelson commented:
Google suspended the campaign and Americas PAC's account on April 5th. Americas PAC appealed and submitted verification information that it is an FEC Registered Political Action Committee and has been engaged in Federal Elections as an Independent Expenditure Committee since 2014.
''The only plausible conclusion is that Google banned Americas PAC for its conservative character, rather than the content of the ads,'' Donelson said. ''If the content of the ads is acceptable to FCC Regulated radio stations, and Americas PAC is a registered Federal Election Commission Independent Expenditure Committee with a five-year track record of raising and spending millions of dollars reported to the FEC, then the only feasible explanation for Google's actions is an ingrained corporate bias to protect Democrats.''
That does seem like a logical conclusion. The case for regulating tech giants like Google as public utilities, and paying their employees accordingly, continues to grow stronger.
Facebook's new chief lawyer helped write the Patriot Act - The Verge
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 14:32
Jennifer Newstead, a Trump appointee who served in the Justice Department under President Bush, will soon be taking over as general counsel of Facebook, the company announced
in a press release Monday afternoon . Newstead will take over from Colin Stretch, who announced plans to retire last year.
''Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission,'' Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement included with the release.
But many are already troubled by Newstead's history lobbying and legislating for more powerful electronic surveillance.
As The Hill points out , a 2002 Justice Department
press release describes her as ''helping craft'' the legislation. Notorious Bush administration lawyer John Yoo
described her as the ''day-to-day manager of the Patriot Act in Congress'' in his 2006 book.
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The Verge without revealing your identity.
Passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Patriot Act greatly expanded the scope of the government's surveillance powers, enabling new techniques like roving wiretaps and so-called ''sneak-and-peek'' warrants. Section 215 of the Patriot Act was used to justify
the bulk collection of telephone records from US carriers , although both the ruling and the legal interpretation that justified it remained secret until the Snowden leaks.
Most relevant for Facebook, the Patriot Act also initiated the practice of so-called ''national security letters,'' in which intelligence agencies informally request specific data without the authorization of a court or judge, citing threats to national security.
Facebook is still actively dealing with these data demands, which have only escalated since NSA collection activities became public. Facebook received more than 32,000 requests for data from US law enforcement
in the second half of 2018 , and content from more than 20,000 accounts was requested by the FISA court over the same period. Little is known about the details of those requests, which are often subject to strict gag orders.
As general counsel, Newstead will be in a unique position to either block or enable those requests '-- and her professional history suggests she may be more sympathetic to the government's security mandate than users' desire for privacy.
Newstead will work closely with Joel Kaplan, Facebook's head of global policy. A prominent conservative, Kaplan
drew ire from many Facebook employees last year when he appeared as a guest at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Bitcoin [BTC]: King coin's Golden Cross confirmed; Greenspan hints at bullish market - AMBCrypto
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 11:05
Bitcoin's much-awaited Golden Cross, which many analysts claimed will lead to a resurgence of a bullish market, has been confirmed. The intersection of the 200-day moving average and 50-day moving average, which indicates the Golden Cross, was achieved over the past few hours.
Earlier today, the top cryptocurrency saw a massive rise after days of sideways movement. Bitcoin's ascendance saw it break the $5,350 resistance level, which eToro's Mati Greenspan had previously suggested will consolidate ''buying pressure.''
Additionally, a major psychological level of $5,500 was also surpassed less than three weeks after Bitcoin broke the $5,000 mark.
The Golden Cross theory holds credibility among analysts in the cryptocurrency realm as it infers that the coin's average price is above its 200-day equivalent. For the first time in over a year, the cryptocurrency market has seen its 50-day MA move above the 200-day MA, which according to many is a sign of a bullish market.
On the opposing side of the Golden Cross indicator is the Death Cross, where two indicators cross over into a bearish market i.e. the 200-day MA moves above the 50-day MA. The Death Cross manifested in April 2018, after the prices went into a free fall following the December 2017 high.
In April 2018, BTC was priced at just over $7,000, following which it lost more than 50 percent of its price by the end of the year. The price of the king coin has recovered exceedingly well in 2019 however, winning back almost 50 percent of its lost value.
Many analysts, including Greenspan, agree that the crossing of the two moving averages is a clear testament to the return of the bull market. Although he didn't quite use those words, Greenspan tweeted,
''Ladies & Gents'... The Golden Cross!Bitcoin's 50-day moving average (gold) crossing above her 200-day moving average (blue). ðŸ'This is yet another sign that we're back in a🐂market. ðŸšðŸŒ›''
However, in an exclusive interview with AMBCrypto last week, Greenspan had stated that the Golden Cross theory is a ''lagging indicator,'' as the Death Cross was last seen in April 2018, months after the market took a bearish turn.
In his view, the 200-day moving average is the key indicator. On April 2, Bitcoin broke this mark for the first time since March 2018, by recording a massive 17 percent daily gain and rising above $5,000.
Based on historic price changes with reference to the Golden Cross, the last time the 50-day MA soared above the 200-day MA, price of Bitcoin rose by over 8000 percent from $246 in October 2015 to almost $20,000 in December 2017. Given past market movements, the current market scenario, and the optimism in the air, the Golden Cross may just have initiated the Bitcoin bull market.
Huawei row: UK to let Chinese firm help build 5G network - BBC News
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 12:19
Image copyright Alamy The government has approved the supply of equipment by Chinese telecoms firm Huawei for the UK's new 5G data network despite warnings of a security risk.
There is no formal confirmation but the Daily Telegraph says Huawei will build "non-core" components such as antennas.
The US wants its allies in the "Five Eyes" intelligence grouping - the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - to exclude the company.
Huawei has denied that its work poses any risks of espionage or sabotage.
But Australia has already said it is siding with Washington - which has spoken of "serious concerns over Huawei's obligations to the Chinese government and the danger that poses to the integrity of telecommunications networks in the US and elsewhere".
A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said it is reviewing the supply of equipment for the 5G network and will report in due course.
Digital minister Margot James responded to the reports by tweeting: "In spite of Cabinet leaks to the contrary, final decision yet to be made on managing threats to telecoms infrastructure."
According to the Daily Telegraph, Huawei would be allowed to help build the "non-core" infrastructure of the 5G network.
This would mean Huawei would not supply equipment for what is known as the "core" parts - where tasks such as checking device IDs and deciding how to route voice calls and data take place.
'Different approaches'Huawei, a private company which already supplies equipment for the UK's existing mobile networks, has always denied claims it is controlled by the Chinese government.
It said it was awaiting a formal announcement, but was "pleased that the UK is continuing to take an evidence-based approach to its work", adding it would continue to work cooperatively with the government and the industry.
Ciaran Martin, the head of the National Cyber Security Centre - which oversees Huawei's current UK work - told BBC Radio 4's Today programme a framework would be put in place to ensure the 5G network was "sufficiently safe".
Asked about the potential of a conflict in the position of Five Eyes members, he added: "In the past decade there have been different approaches across the Five Eyes and across the allied wider Western alliance towards Huawei and towards other issues as well."
What is 5G? Image copyright Getty Images Image caption 5G promises great benefits but may come with higher security risks 5G is the next (fifth) generation of mobile internet connectivity, promising much faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage and more stable connections.
The world is going mobile and existing spectrum bands are becoming congested, leading to breakdowns, particularly when many people in one area are trying to access services at the same time.
5G is also much better at handling thousands of devices simultaneously, from phones to equipment sensors, video cameras to smart street lights.
Current 4G mobile networks can offer speeds of about 45Mbps (megabits per second) on average and experts say 5G - which is starting to be rolled out in the UK this year - could achieve browsing and downloads up to 20 times faster.
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera says it is believed the decision to involve Huawei was taken by ministers at a meeting of the government's national security council on Tuesday, chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May.
The home, defence and foreign secretaries were reported to have raised concerns during the discussions.
In a tweet, shadow Cabinet Office minister Jo Platt said using Huawei equipment would raise "serious questions" about the "government's interests and how they will secure networks".
Analysis BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera
The decision on Huawei is one of the most significant long-term national security decisions this government will make and was always going to be contentious.
5G will underpin our daily lives in ways that are hard to predict. So does allowing a Chinese company to build those networks put people at risk of being spied on or even switched off?
That is the concern from Washington and other critics who wanted the company excluded.
But deciding to ban Huawei entirely from the network would have risked slowing down the development of 5G and also upsetting China.
The UK believes it has experience in managing the risks posed by Huawei and can continue to do so going forward.
But one retired senior intelligence official recently told me his view on what to do about Huawei had changed.
In the past, he said, he had believed the policy of managing the risk had been sufficient. But now he was less sure.
The reason was not to do with any change in his view of what the company could do. Rather it was about the risks to relationships with close allies, namely those of the Five Eyes and US.
Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat tweeted that allowing Huawei to build some of the UK's 5G infrastructure would "cause allies to doubt our ability to keep data secure and erode the trust essential to #FiveEyes cooperation".
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Media caption One potential problem with 5G tech may have more to do with castles than you'd expectSpeaking on the Today programme, Mr Tugendhat said the proposals still raised concerns, as 5G involved an "internet system that can genuinely connect everything, and therefore the distinction between non-core and core is much harder to make".
Joyce Hakmeh, a research fellow at think tank Chatham House and co-editor of the Journal of Cyber Policy, said the UK's current mobile network needs to be transformed to the "the next level... quicker, more stable 5G".
But she added the government would be hoping its decision on Huawei did not upset either China or the US.
Limiting - but not barring - Huawei technology from the 5G networks would be a "diplomatic way of managing a difficult situation" for the UK, said Ms Hakmeh.
Should You Fold or Wad Toilet Paper? A Physicist Settles the Debate for Good - Dollar Shave Club Original Content
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 13:07
Occasionally, doing research for articles leads me to question some of my core beliefs. For example, I thought it was normal to use the same towel for days on end, and just the other day I learned my showering habits were all wrong. What else am I doing wrong? Turns out, wiping my own butt.
I fold my toilet paper. It's the most efficient and effective way to do it, especially as I work my way to becoming a one-wipe wunderkind. But it's also the subject of heated debate, thanks to the internet. Some people wad their toilet paper into poop loofahs '-- a practice that seems uncivilized and wasteful! Your butt deserves a perfect square, and your pipes deserve way fewer sheets than what you're clogging 'em with.
do y'all wad toilet paper or fold it? from teenagers
Fold or wad toilet paper? What's your reasoning behind it? from AskReddit
Arguments for wadding vary. Some people are too lazy to fold. Some don't have time to fold, they say. (Sure, Jan.) As for the folders, they say ''not being a psychopath'' is a compelling reason. More interesting is this: the purported abundance of surface area in a square. (Is that actually true? We'll cover it soon.)
Even though I'm an esteemed and highly respected journalist, I love being wrong and getting owned. I once thought nothing could ever lead me to believe wadding toilet paper into a ball is the optimal way to wipe, but I now know nothing is sacred and I must reevaluate everything I've ever held true.
So I reached out to math and physics professionals to scientifically prove which method is superior: wadding toilet paper, or folding it.
IntroductionDr. Sam Novario, a theoretical and computational nuclear physicist who once blew up his stove for an experiment, says the truth is actually much more complicated than what might appear on the surface. ''There are whole mathematical sub-fields that deal with folding and functional origami.''
Still, like any good scientist, this didn't deter him him from getting to the bottom of the issue. ''In order to find the optimal solution,'' he begins, ''we first have to weigh the different goals that we're trying to meet, reducing cost and time. This means that we're trying to minimize the total paper usage while maximizing the wipe efficiency.''
Materials and Methods
Minimum Thickness Threshold: At first, the basic equation seems simple enough: You want to get the most out of a single wipe and use less toilet paper. But this is also where things get complicated, Novario says. ''We can try to minimize the total paper usage by reducing the paper per wipe, but this immediately calls the wipe efficiency and integrity into question.''
Wipe integrity, he explains, deals with the ''sheer strength of the TP,'' and the probability that the wipe stays intact, ''which increases with a wipe's effective thickness.'' So what began as a simple matter of getting more poop per square now becomes a problem of probability and integrity thresholds.
Novario continues: ''Assuming that a wad has twice the effective thickness as a fold with the same amount of paper, it will be twice as robust. But any extra thickness above some threshold wastes paper and reduces the effective area of the wipe.''
Setting Constants: You might think wadding wastes more paper, but Novario explains that in order for the equation to work, a limit must be found ''above which no additional material is removed and paper is wasted.'' In other words, both wadding and folding can waste paper in different ways '-- wadding because the effective wiping area is less, and folding because you might have 10 folds left once you're all cleaned up.
There's yet another variable we must assume constant in this equation: wiping style and pressure. Someone who wads and scrubs the living hell out of their butt is naturally going to think wadding is better. But to find a scientific baseline, Novario says, we must assume ''a standard style and constant pressure between the fold and the wad.''
Finally, we must assume we're wadding or folding the same brand of toilet paper, be it an expensive, ultra-soft brand or a cell-thin, entirely translucent brand. Wadding might appear to offer more efficiency in wiping due to the three-dimensionality of the shape, Novario explains, but at the same time, ''expensive toilet paper has bumps and ridges'' that can get you the same efficiency without reducing the wipe area.
Therefore, assuming a hard cap to the total amount of toilet paper used, and a controlled variable on toilet-paper brand, wiping style and pressure, we're left with the holy grail: ''the total wipe efficiency, or the amount of material removed per wipe,'' Novario says, ''which is equal to the total effective area of the wipe times the efficiency per area.''
Still following? Good! We're about to get to the answer.
ResultsThere's no way around it. The increased amount of wrinkles in wadding provides a more effective wipe than folding. ''Wadding paper increases the wiping efficiency per area,'' Novario explains, but adds that wadding ''reduces the effective wipe area.'' In other words, while it provides a more effective wipe, you're forced to work with a limited amount of space.
''Therefore, another balance has to be found, [and] we can collect all of this reasoning to come up with an optimal solution,'' he says.
Conclusion''A sufficient wiping area, for increased efficiency, is more easily reached with a fold of a few squares and would take twice as much wadded paper,'' Novario says. ''But this is only useful if it meets the wipe integrity threshold.''
He continues: ''This threshold can be met by wadding, which also has the benefit of increasing the wipe integrity and efficiency per area. To balance the benefits of these two solutions, I would suggest a hybrid approach that uses the coverage of the fold and the sturdiness and wipe efficiency of the wad.''
He sent a diagram to illustrate the ideal toilet paper shape: a couple folded sheets with a crumple on top for extra waste-wicking wrinkles and folds.
''To build this solution,'' Novario explains, ''start with slightly more TP than you would for a minimal fold wipe. Then, fold approximately half of the TP with sufficient area and use it as the base, with the other half wadded on top.''
''In sum,'' he concludes, ''the ideal solution of wiping your bum lies in the middle: a hybrid solution of folding TP for coverage and wadding the first couple squares for maximum efficiency.''
Novario's complete workFurther ThoughtsIf we can think outside the can here, there is a solution to this dilemma that leans into mathematics far too complex for the bathroom. Matthew Zaremsky, assistant professor of mathematics at the University at Albany, approves of Novario's work in toilet paper studies. But, he says, the ideal TP wad takes the shape of a Hilbert cube, a compact shape that has infinite dimensions.
''This way, every time you wipe, you can fold the soiled part into one of the other dimensions and continue wiping with a nice clean part,'' he explains. ''You'll never run out of dimensions, so in fact this single piece of Hilbert cube toilet paper is the only piece of toilet paper you'll ever need, for the rest of your life!''
Lacking one of these, however, Zaremsky recommends wadding: ''Whatever maximizes surface area is best.''
It should be said that Zaremsky is also a new dad '-- so he's become something of an expert in the area. ''Literally minutes before checking my email just now,'' he says, ''I had to wipe up a whole bunch of poop.''
A Drone Again
Google Wins First FAA Approval for Regular Drone Delivery of Consumer Items - WSJ
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 14:44
Alphabet Inc.'s Wing Aviation unit has received the first U.S. authorization to operate a fleet of unmanned aircraft for consumer-goods deliveries, a move that could jump-start various companies' commercial drone services nationwide.
The Federal Aviation Administration's decision represents a regulatory coup for Wing in a budding, fiercely competitive industry. Amazon.com Inc. and other companies are vying for similar approvals to transport food and small consumer goods to residential customers.
Industry officials in the past have said it was likely to take until 2020 or 2021 for the FAA to implement wide-ranging drone rules establishing a framework for package deliveries.
Because Tuesday's green light currently covers only a rural area around Blacksburg, Va., it doesn't resolve longstanding industry hurdles including security concerns about widespread drone operations, or current restrictions on commercial drone flights over populated areas.
By giving its approval to Wing, which was created in Google's technology incubator and is now owned by the tech giant, the FAA is signaling its determination to approve so-called air-carrier certifications even before a full regulatory framework is in place, according to industry officials. The agency is building on lessons learned from pilot programs championed by the Transportation Department and White House aides.
Wing previously conducted experimental flights to deliver food, at no charge to customers, in the same area of Virginia, in conjunction with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, commonly known as Virginia Tech, and other partners.
The FAA's nod means Wing now will be able to establish a fledgling business, charge for deliveries and assess how commercial factors'--in addition to technical issues'--will influence what it does in the future. Wing will be able to apply to start similar operations elsewhere.
The company is expected to survey residents and local businesses about the types of food, medicines and other goods that might be carried exclusively during daylight hours. Under terms of the approval, unmanned aircraft will travel over longer distances than are now typically permitted for carrying payloads, and are envisioned to fly beyond the visual sight of operators'--issues at the heart of delivering goods and packages directly to consumers. Wing also is expected to devise additional ways to allay privacy concerns, which aren't covered by federal regulations but have sparked a flurry of state and local proposals or rules.
Its success so far in persuading the FAA promises to provide a template for other drone-delivery proposals.
Tuesday's move highlights efforts by the industry'--working with U.S. aviation regulators'--to capitalize on overseas momentum for drone deliveries. From Singapore to Australia to Iceland to Switzerland, national authorities are moving faster than the FAA in authorizing routine commercial-drone flights and setting up new air-traffic control systems to facilitate their growth.
Wing, for example, is building on experience gained in Australia, where after thousands of test flights it recently received approval to start limited commercial deliveries. The company has developed a hybrid drone, able to take off vertically like a helicopter but with separate propeller-driven engines enabling it to fly like a plane. The drones are flown by human pilots on the ground.
Industry leaders have argued that further regulatory delays by the FAA threaten to curtail U.S. job expansion and could result in companies focusing more of their growth initiatives in other countries.
''This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy,'' Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement. ''Safety continues to be our number one priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential.''
The approval, in effect, will permit Wing in coming months to operate as something akin to a traditional small charter or cargo carrier, featuring specific pilot training, approved safety systems, mandatory collection of incident data and other safeguards.
Until it implements a wide-ranging regulatory framework for drones, the FAA has encouraged companies to seek approvals under existing rules, a process that often involves applying for waivers or exemptions. Such applications typically cost more, take longer and require a greater degree of technical expertise than many startup drone operators are able to invest.
Write to Andy Pasztor at andy.pasztor@wsj.com
VIDEO - Joe Biden announces 2020 presidential run | US news | The Guardian
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 15:13
The former US vice-president Joe Biden has announced he will seek the presidency, becoming the most prominent name to enter the crowded field of Democratic candidates competing to take on Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
He made his announcement in a video posted on Twitter, declaring: ''We are in the battle for the soul of this nation. If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.''
He continued: ''The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy '' everything that has made America America '' is at stake. That's why today I'm announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.''
It is Biden's third run for the presidency, after two unsuccessful attempts at earning the Democratic nomination in 1988 and 2008.
Bolstered by his legacy as Barack Obama's vice-president, Biden was expected to be an early frontrunner in a diverse Democratic field that features several heavyweight contenders but no clear favourite. In a statement issued by a spokesperson Thursday, the former president offered his praise '' if not an endorsement, yet.
''President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,'' the spokesperson said, adding that the pair ''remain close''.
Biden, 76, joins a jam-packed and diverse crop of candidates include the senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey, as well as the Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Julin Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and housing secretary under Obama.
Donald Trump posted a threatening greeting to Biden on Twitter, saying: ''Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign.''
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty - you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!
April 25, 2019If successful, Biden, 76, would become the oldest person to be elected president in US history. But allegations from several women that they were left feeling uncomfortable by their physical interactions with Biden has created some uncertainty over his prospects.
While Biden has not been accused of sexual assault or harassment, a mounting list of women have come forward to complain that he violated their personal space. The allegations prompted renewed scrutiny of what had long been dismissed as Biden's affectionate posture and raised fresh questions over his viability as a candidate in the #MeToo era.
The controversy started with Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman who claimed in an op-ed that Biden had placed his hands on her shoulders, leaned in to smell her hair and kissed the back of her forehead at a political event in 2014. Other women subsequently came forward with similar stories, prompting an apology from Biden, who pledged in a video to adjust his behaviour.
''Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I've heard what these women are saying,'' Biden said. ''Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful of personal space in the future. That's my responsibility and I will meet it.''
Days later, Biden made light of the complaints in a speech where he twice jokingly referred to getting ''permission'' to hug people onstage.
As the Democratic party lurches left, emboldened by an animated progressive base, Biden is poised to serve as a more establishment-friendly voice whose legacy as vice-president was forged in part by leading negotiations with Republicans in Congress.
Joe Biden, former vice president
Biden unsuccessfully ran for the nomination in 1988 and 2008, and his campaign is likely to be dogged by controversy after allegations from several women they were left feeling uncomfortable by their physical interactions with him. If successful, Biden would become the oldest person to be elected president in US history. But bolstered by his legacy as Barack Obama's vice-president, Biden is expected to be the early frontrunner.
Cory Booker, New Jersey senator
Booker first made a name as the hands-on mayor of Newark. Known for his focus on criminal justice reform and impassioned speeches on immigration, he has though been criticized for ties to Wall Street.
Pete Buttigieg, South Bend mayor
Buttigieg wants to be the first openly gay millennial president. A Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar, he became the youngest mayor of a mid-size US city at the age of 29. As a Navy Reserve lieutenant he deployed to Afghanistan while serving as mayor.
Julin Castro, former housing and urban development secretary
Castro casts himself as an antidote to Trump and the adminstration's hardline immigration policies. The grandson of a Mexican immigrant and raised by single mother, the 44-year-old Democrat is one of the most prominent Latinos in Democratic politics.
John Delaney, former Maryland congressman
He has delivered his message of pragmatism to voters in all 99 of Iowa's counties since he officially kicked off the race in July 2017. The multimillionaire banking entrepreneur wants to build a big-tent party that appeals to independents and moderate Republicans.
Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii congresswoman
An Iraq war veteran who has vowed to run a campaign focused on issues of ''war and peace''. Gabbard made history as the first Samoan American and the first Hindu elected to Congress. But she has drawn criticism for meeting with Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and progressives are wary of her past conservative views on on social issues.
Kirsten Gillibrand, New York senator
Years before the #MeToo movement, the New York senator was leading efforts in Congress to combat sexual assault in the military and on college campuses. The former corporate lawyer has embraced a slate of economic ideas supported by the party's progressive wing.
Kamala Harris, California senator
Harris is one of Trump's fiercest critics, and has built a national reputation grilling administration officials during their confirmation hearings. A former state attorney general and the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, Harris believes she has the unique profile to take on Trump.
John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado
Before he served two terms as governor of Colorado, the 67-year-old Democrat worked as a geologist for a petroleum company. After a lay off, he switched careers and opened a successful brewpub in Denver that helped to revitalize the city's downtown.
Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington
Inslee is running as the ''only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation's number one priority''. As the country experiences more powerful hurricanes, scorching wildfires and submerged coastlines, polls show public concern is growing.
Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator
On Election Night 2018, Klobuchar coasted to a third term as senator in a state Trump almost won. Next morning she was on every short list of potential presidential candidates. Supporters say her success with rural voters makes her a formidable candidate in the Rust Belt, while her calm demeanour provides a clear contrast with Trump.
Beto O'Rourke, former Texas congressman
A one-time guitarist for an El Paso punk band called Foss, O'Rourke had kept a relatively low profile as a three-term congressman with little name recognition. He rose to national prominence during the 2018 midterms, when his bid to unseat Senator Ted Cruz garnered unprecedented grassroots support and a historic fundraising haul.
Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator
Sanders turned a long-shot, anti-establishment bid for the presidency into a ''political revolution'' that energized the party's progressive base. His political career began nearly 40 years ago, but it wasn't until his 2016 run that Sanders became a national figure as a new generation of Democrats '' and 2020 contenders '' embraced his populist economic policies.
Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator
Her sharp criticism of Wall Street and big corporations has made Warren a favorite among progressive activists, and she will campaign on a message of a rigged economic system and income inequality.
Marianne Williamson, author
This is not the spiritual guru and a new age author's first foray into politics: in 2014, she mounted an unsuccessful congressional bid in California. Her entry adds some star-power to the race that may attract more celebrities.
Andrew Yang, businessman
A former tech executive and entrepreneur running the longest of long shot campaigns centered on the perils of automation. His central plank is a plan to give every American adult a salary of $1,000 per month, paid for by a tax on companies that benefit the most from automation.
Lauren Gambino, Sam Morris and Martin Belam
Following a recent revelation that he had praised a vulnerable House Republican in a paid speech weeks before the 2018 midterms, Biden offered an unapologetic response, stating: ''I read in the New York Times today, one of my problems if I run for president is I like Republicans. Well, bless me father for I have sinned.''
Biden's supporters say his appeal among blue-collar voters is key to defeating Trump and winning back what was once a core constituency of Democrats. Biden's home state of Pennsylvania was crucial in sending Trump to the White House by a razor-thin margin over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
Biden, who publicly weighed running against Clinton in the 2016 primaries but ultimately chose not to, has suggested he could have defeated Trump. ''I regret it every day,'' Biden said of his decision.
But whether Biden's record could withstand a Democratic primary in today's political climate remains to be seen.
On one hand, Biden was lauded as vice-president for championing LGBTQ rights '' famously endorsing same-sex marriage before Obama '' and leading the White House's charge for stricter gun laws and expansive labour rights. He also aggressively pushed for reforms to reduce sexual assault on college campuses, and as a former senator drafted the landmark Violence Against Women Act.
At the same time, Biden has drawn scrutiny over his prior support for tough-on-crime legislation, which helped pave the way for mass incarceration.
He also faced widespread criticism in recent years for his tenure as the chair of the Senate judiciary committee in the early 90s, during which time the then supreme court justice nominee Clarence Thomas was accused by his former employee Anita Hill of sexual harassment. Biden has since apologised for his handling of the congressional hearings that followed, in which an all-male, all-white panel questioned Hill.
Since leaving the office of the vice-presidency, Biden has been a constant critic of Trump and accused the president of ''trashing American values''.
VIDEO - BREAKING: FBI Admits Hillary Clinton Emails Found in Obama White House - YouTube
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 12:38
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 12:41
The mechanics of a national campaign.
Some people say that NAPA AUTOPRO technicians can repair all 30,000 parts on your vehicle. It's true. Some say that the person who welcomes you at a service centre is often the same person who will work on your transmission. It's true. Others believe that NAPA AUTOPRO service centres have an unfair advantage over their competitors, because they have direct access to over 500,000 NAPA parts. It's true.
The ''It's true'' tagline is featured in multiple TV executions and out-of-home ads, as well as on social media. It showcases the technicians' expertise, the privileged access to NAPA parts and the relationship between a NAPA AUTOPRO service centre and the community it serves.
It's true there are more than 600 NAPA AUTOPRO service centres in Canada. It's also true that most of them are privately owned and operated. Each owner brings his own expertise, culture and approach to his business. The one thing they all have in common: a true passion for automotive mechanics, and a desire to build true relationships with their customers. That's why we believe that, when it comes to NAPA AUTOPRO, ''it's true''.
VIDEO - Veteran Reporter Woodward Calls For FBI, CIA To Be Investigated Over Steele Dossier
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 12:34
Skip to content''Real intelligence experts looked at this and said no, this is not intelligence, this is garbage.'' Steve Watson | Infowars.com - April 23, 2019 Bob Woodward, the reporter who broke open the Watergate scandal, has called for the FBI and CIA to be investigated regarding the agencies' handling of the debunked dossier that formed the basis of the Mueller investigation of the Trump campaign.
During an interview with Fox News's Chris Wallace, Woodward declared that the dossier authored by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele ''has got a lot of garbage in it''.
''What I found out recently, which was really quite surprising, the dossier, which really has got a lot of garbage in it and Mueller found that to be the case, early in building the intelligence community assessment on Russian interference, in an early draft, they actually put the dossier on page two in kind of a breakout box.''
''I think it was the CIA pushing this. Real intelligence experts looked at this and said no, this is not intelligence, this is garbage and they took it out,'' Woodward added.
''But in this process, the idea that they would include something like that in one of the great stellar intelligence assessments, as Mueller also found out, is highly questionable.'' he added, saying that it ''Needs to be investigated.''
Last week, President Trump slammed the FBI, stating that the intelligence agency conspired against his presidential campaign.
Wow! FBI made 11 payments to Fake Dossier's discredited author, Trump hater Christopher Steele. @OANN @JudicialWatch The Witch Hunt has been a total fraud on your President and the American people! It was brought to you by Dirty Cops, Crooked Hillary and the DNC.
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2019
Trump addressed the 'fake' dossier, which was funded in part by Fusion GPS, a political intelligence firm working for the DNC, calling it a ''total fraud on your President and the American people!''
He also took aim at ''Crooked Hillary'' noting that eleven payments were made to the former to British spy Steele by the FBI in 2016.
Judicial Watch is suing for communication and payment records between the FBI, Steele, and his private firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.
BREAKING: JW announced today that it filed a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ for records of communications and payments between the FBI & former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and his private firm, Orbis Business Intelligence (1/3).https://t.co/OuMuIGgvpf
'-- Judicial Watch ðŸ--Ž (@JudicialWatch) April 16, 2019
VIDEO - Our Planet | Walrus | Behind the Scenes | Netflix - YouTube
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 12:20
VIDEO - Dallas County District Attorney Addresses City Council Members About Plans for Criminal Justice Reform - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 12:10
By Melissa HarrisonPublished Apr 22, 2019 at 7:48 PM NEWSLETTERS Receive the latest local updates in your inboxDallas County District Attorney John Creuzot outlined his policy for members of the city council's public safety and criminal justice committee on Monday. He was invited to explain his plans after he took heat from state and law enforcement officials. (Published Monday, April 22, 2019)
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot told city council members Monday how he plans to make swift changes to the way crimes are prosecuted in Dallas County.
Creuzot outlined his policy for members of the Dallas City Council's public safety and criminal justice committee, who invited him to explain his plans. This after the district attorney took heat from some state and law enforcement officials.
Committee members questioned Creuzot over specific aspects of his policy.
"My concern is it's going to have the hardest impact on these low-income, high-crime areas," said Jennifer Staubach Gates, who represents District 13.
New Study Says Beards are 'Dirtier' Than DogsGates referred to Creuzot's plans to curb the prosecution of certain low-level crimes, including marijuana offenses and theft of personal items worth less than $750, unless the theft was for financial gain.
Sandy Greyson, council member from District 12, expressed concern over Creuzot's policy not to prosecute thefts for crimes of need.
"We're not really considering the business owner in this, What if six people come in and steal diapers, how does he recover that loss if he doesn't prosecute?" Greyson said.
Another concern was the district attorney's plan to cut back on prosecuting crimes for trespassing and panhandling.
"That is killing Pleasant Grove, killing us," said Ricky Callahan, council member from District 5.
Creuzot has taken heat from law enforcement agents who fear his changes could lead to an increase in criminal activity. But he fired back, arguing that reforming the criminal justice system was a pledge he made throughout his campaign... and he's not backing down now.
"We have an over-criminalization of America and it starts with poor people and people of color, and we know that. Everybody knows it, everybody says we're going to do something about it, but nobody ever does anything and so that's why I'm acting," Creuzot said.
Council member Kevin Felder said he supported the district attorney.
"I want you to know that I support what you're doing because Dallas had one of the highest concentrations of poverty in the nation and it's not a crime to be poor," Felder said.
After the briefing, many of the county's police chiefs said they were worried and would continue on their current paths.
It was suggested that the district attorney do a public information campaign to share details of his policy with county residents. Creuzot agreed and said his office planned to do so soon. Council members overwhelmingly agreed that clear communication was key to moving forward.
"We don't want to feel as if our police officers' hands are tied or that they are confused and don't know which way to go," said Carolyn King Arnold, council member from District 4.
Mumps Outbreak Hits Indiana University
VIDEO - Renting Instead Of Owning, And Taking It To The Extreme : NPR
Thu, 25 Apr 2019 11:54
Steven T. Johnson rents a bed at the PodShare in Hollywood, Calif. "When you don't own things, you don't have to keep track of them," he says. "You just show up." Courtesy of Steven T. Johnson hide caption
toggle caption Courtesy of Steven T. Johnson Steven T. Johnson rents a bed at the PodShare in Hollywood, Calif. "When you don't own things, you don't have to keep track of them," he says. "You just show up."
Courtesy of Steven T. Johnson More young people are leaning into the rental or sharing economy '-- owning less of everything and renting and sharing a whole lot more. Housing, cars, music, workspaces. In some places, such as Los Angeles, this rental life has gone to an extreme.
Steven T. Johnson, 27, works in social media advertising and lives in Hollywood. He spends most of his days using things he does not own.
He takes a ride-share service to get to the gym; he does not own a car. At the gym, he rents a locker. He uses the gym's laundry service because he does not own a washing machine.
Johnson doesn't even have an apartment, actually. He rents a bed in a large room with other people who rent beds, for nights, weeks or months at a time, through a service called PodShare. All the residents share a kitchen and bathrooms. Johnson also rents a desk at WeWork, a coworking space.
And he says the only clothes he owns are two versions of the same outfit.
Johnson says he owns so little that he has even been able to get rid of his backpack. "I gave that up two months ago," he says.
He says that for him, this lifestyle isn't cumbersome or confusing. "That's what's great," he says. "When you don't own things, you don't have to keep track of them. You just show up."
He's part of a newish group of young people. He is educated and owns his own business. He could be considered well off, but he is also, in a way, homeless. By choice.
There are two big reasons for this shift: the price of housing and student loan debt. A little more than a third of millennials currently own homes, a rate lower than Generation X and baby boomers when they were the same age.
But is there something else going on as well? Does Johnson represent a fundamental shift in American capitalism as we know it?
Skyler Wang, a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley who studies the sharing economy, says even if young people own less and are less enamored with ownership than their parents may be, they still have a lot of stuff '-- it's just not tangible.
"I talked to a lot of minimalists," Wang says. "They're the type of people who love to couch-surf. They own like 30 things, but ... they hoard digitally. They have tons of photographs. They have thousands and thousands of Instagram posts."
They still live in an economy of stuff '-- it's just different stuff. It's experiences.
How do businesses deal with this? For starters, a lot more companies are getting into rentals. Even Ikea is starting to lease its furniture.