1146: Googers

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 56m
June 13th, 2019
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Executive Producers: Guy Burton Sir Gee, Rudolf Vesely, Sir Ho Gi Hung Baronet of Mong Kok, Nick Foster

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Luke Rayner, viscount of London and the south east, Black knight Sir Bryan Barrow of royal wootton Bassett, baron of Barbados, Michael Sabers, Patrick Knight of the So Cal Hills, Jason Toliopoulos

Cover Artist: Data


Start of Show
London Meetup
Oklahoma City Meetup
LBC: 'James O'Brien Lists Boris Johnsons Sins'
Evening Standard: 'Bojo Has Got His Mojo and He's Going To Get Out There'
BBC: 'Brexit: Behind Closed Doors'
The New York Times: 'Google Made $4.7 Billion From the News Industry in 2018, Study Says'
Journalism Competition and Preservation Act
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Interview at The Code Conference
Axios: 'Google CEO Defends YouTube Practices'
Joe Biden
Poland Intends To Buy 32 F-35 Fighter Jets From US
Trump Says Poland Will Join Visa Waiver Program "Very Soon"
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Wife Pleads Guilty in Illegal Meals Case
Hillary Clinton Predicts Presidential Candidates Will Be Hacked
Citizenship Question on Census
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Defends Annual $4500 Pay Increase For Members of Congress
Birthdays & Title Changes
Producer Note: Criminal Activity in Sweden on June 10th
Two Tankers Attacked in the Gulf of Oman
NBC Sold Obama Merchandise in 2010
Second Ebola Death in Uganda
Protests in Hong Kong Over Controversial China Extradition Bill
China's Social Credit System
US Women Soccer Team Beats Thailand With 13-0 at World Cup
Helicopter Crashes Onto Manhattan Building
Zuckerberg Deepfake Video
End of Show
Suggest a new chapter
BoJo has the Mojo!
Urgent Report From Sweden
sunny day in June (monday june 10)
Bomb threatening English-speaking "Eu-citizen" carrying 3 passports
shot by police at Malmo central station
Man shot in Fagersjo outside Stockholm
Female train conductor assaulted by two men in Orebro
Pedestrian ran over during police pursuit in Stockholm
Man shot and killed in Malmo
Shooting in other part of Malmo
Attempted murder, shooting in Tensta, Stockholm
Shooting in Gottsunda, Uppsala
Another shooting in Uppsala later in the day in connection with a fight
involving 10-15 people
Man found stabbed in Salem outside Stockholm
Another man taken to hospital after knife fight between neighbours outside
Two critically injured after knife fight in connection to a soft ball game in
Two more bombings in Malmo late night
leaves out the large bombing of a an apartment building in Linkoping previous
friday which injured 25 people and damaged 250 apartments.
you for your courage
for bad English
Ina Fried - Wikipedia
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 19:32
Ina Fried (born December 17, 1974), formerly Ian Fried, is an American journalist for Axios. Prior to that, she was senior editor for All Things Digital, a senior staff writer for CNET Network's News.com,[1][2] and worked for Re/code. She is a frequent commenter on technology news on National Public Radio, local television news and for other print and broadcast outlets.[3]
Early life Fried, as a child actor was best known for her role as Rocky's son, Rocky Jr., in the 1982 movie Rocky III and also as the voice of the character Timothy in the 1982 movie The Secret of NIHM. After that she mainly appeared in guest roles portraying young boys on various television series including Cagney and Lacey, Silver Spoons, V, Different Strokes, Alice, Diff'rent Strokes, Newhart, The Wonder Years, and a recurring role on St. Elsewhere.[4][5]
Professional Fried is a personal technology writer and generally covered Microsoft related stories in the CNET blog "Beyond Binary" from 2000 to November 2010, and is currently writing for All Things Digital where she will cover the Mobile beat. Before joining CNET in 2000, Ina wrote for the Orange County Business Journal, the Orange County Register, and Bridge News. She has served as a board member, national secretary and national vice president for the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA).[6] On April 27, 2011, Ina conducted an exclusive interview with CEO Steve Jobs and other Apple executives about the iPhone location tracking controversy.[7] She now writes for Axios.[8]
Awards and honors Upon retirement from the NLGJA National Board at the 2008 NLGJA national convention in Washington, DC, Fried was honored with both a Distinguished Service Award and a Women's Distinguished Service Award.[9]
Journalism awards:
Three-time winner of NewsBios/TJFR award: NewsBios/TJFR "30 Most Influential Business Journalists Under 30."[10][11][12]Western Publications Association for Outstanding Editorial Content's Maggie Award.[13][14]Society of Professional Journalists (Northern California Chapter) Excellence in Journalism Award Winner: 2005 Breaking News (shared), 2005 Feature Writing.[15][16]Society of Professional Journalists' 2003 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for excellence in journalism: Deadline Reporting (Independent): Ina Fried, CNET News, (shared) for reporting about vulnerable technology and how the MSBlast virus spread.[17]Fried was featured in Advocate magazine's 2014 and 2017 lists of The 50 Most Influential LGBT People in Media.[18][19]
Personal Prior to June 2003, Fried signed articles "Ian Fried".[3][6] At that point, she transitioned from male to female and began using the byline "Ina Fried".
References ^ "About Us: Who we are and what we do" . Retrieved 2008-08-25 . ^ Rick Reiff. "OC Insider". AllBusiness.com . Retrieved November 10, 2011 . ^ a b Will O'Bryan (August 21, 2008). "Ina Fried: Senior Writer, CNET News". Metro Weekly . Retrieved November 10, 2011 . ^ "IMDb entry for Ian Fried (I)" ^ "The 'Rocky' franchise: Where Are They Now?". NY Daily News . Retrieved 2 June 2015 . ^ a b "About NLGJA: Meet the Executive Committee". Archived from the original on 2007-07-07 . Retrieved 2007-07-02 . ^ "Q&A: Jobs and Apple Execs on Tracking Down the Facts About iPhones and Location". April 27, 2011 . Retrieved November 11, 2011 . ^ "Ina Fried". Axios . Retrieved August 20, 2018 . ^ "NLGJA Goes to Washington". Archived from the original on 2008-08-23 . Retrieved 2008-08-23 . ^ "Past NewsBios/TJFR 30 Most 30 Under 30". Archived from the original on 2013-10-23 . Retrieved 2008-09-28 . ^ "CNET News.com Wins Prestigious Honors from Two National Journalism Organizations; Site Honored With Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award". HighBeam Research. April 30, 2002 . Retrieved 2008-09-28 . [dead link ] ^ "CNET reporters named most influential business journalists". Archived from the original on 2006-11-04 . Retrieved 2001-04-30 . ^ "CNET Wins Four 'Maggie Awards' From the Western Publications Association for Outstanding Editorial Content". Allbusiness.com . Retrieved 2006-04-27 . ^ "CNET Wins Four Maggie Awards From the Western Publications Association for Outstanding Editorial Content". Find Articles. April 27, 2006 . Retrieved November 10, 2011 . ^ "SDX award for deadline reporting". Archived from the original on 2009-01-23 . Retrieved 2008-09-28 . ^ "Society of Professional Journalists (Northern California Chapter) Excellence in Journalism Award Winners". Archived from the original on 2009-01-06 . Retrieved 2008-09-28 . ^ "SPJ Announces Recipients of 2003 Sigma Delta Chi Awards" . Retrieved 2008-09-29 . ^ http://www.advocate.com/politics/media/2014/09/16/50-most-influential-lgbt-people-media. ^ "50 Most Influential LGBTs in Media". The Advocate. External links Ina Fried on IMDb Mobilized Ina Fried's column at All Things DBeyond Binary Ina Fried's column at CNET
Pinterest prices IPO at $19 a share, valuation tops $10 billion - MarketWatch
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 19:45
Pinterest Inc. priced its initial public offering higher than expected Wednesday, raising more than $1.4 billion and valuing the company at more than $12 billion.
Pinterest PINS, -5.42% announced Wednesday evening that it would sell 75 million shares at $19 apiece, after previously stating a targeted range of $15 to $17. Underwriters '-- led by Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Allen & Co. '-- have access to an additional 11.25 million shares that could push the totals higher. The company expects to begin trading Thursday morning on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker ''PINS.''
Pinterest is expected be joined by at least two other trading debuts Thursday morning, including fellow Silicon Valley company Zoom Video Communications Inc. ZM, -6.73% , which reportedly priced its IPO above its stated range as well. The market for IPOs has picked up after successful offerings from Lyft Inc. LYFT, +1.90% , PagerDuty Inc. PD, +1.00% and Levi Strauss & Co. LEVI, -3.65% .
Brigham Minerals LLC MNRL, +0.87% priced its shares Wednesday at the top of its expected range at $18, but increased the number of shares it sold to 14.5 million from 13.5 million to raise more than $260 million. Hookipa Pharma HOOK, +10.85% priced its shares at $14 on Wednesday, at the bottom of its range, raising about $84 million. Greenlane Holdings Inc. GNLN, -1.33% is also expected to price its IPO this week.
For more: IPO market faces biggest week of 2019 so far with Pinterest, Zoom and Greenlane on tap
Pinterest admits that it's ''still in the early stages'' of its efforts to make money off its image-sharing platform, having only launched advertisements five years ago. The company sees opportunity with international advertisers, a mostly untapped area for Pinterest thus far. Revenue climbed to $755.9 million in 2018, up from $473 million a year prior.
The company's user base is still growing, with international markets leading the way. The company had 265 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of the end of 2018, of which 184 million were based outside the U.S. Pinterest's domestic MAU count rose by only 8% for the December quarter, while its international user base increased by a third.
Pinterest's IPO filing: 5 things investors should know
The online scrapbooking company is not yet profitable, but it's a lot closer than fellow unicorns like Lyft Inc. LYFT, +1.90% and Uber Technologies Inc., both of which are bleeding cash. Pinterest managed to turn a profit during the past two holiday quarters, but it's yet to break out of the red on an annual basis. The company lost $63 million last year, compared with $130 million a year prior.
Pinterest was privately valued at $12.3 billion in a 2017 funding round.
D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte recently began coverage of Pinterest's stock, assigning a neutral rating and a $16.50 price target. While Forte likes that Pinterest's users have strong ''purchase intent,'' something well regarded by advertisers, he argued that the eventual IPO price would already bake in the upside potential he sees from Pinterest's monetization efforts.
Ministry of Truthiness
Google Made $4.7 Billion From the News Industry in 2018, Study Says - The New York Times
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:11
Media | Google Made $4.7 Billion From the News Industry in 2018, Study Says Image Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive, speaking about Google News. A new study estimates that Google made nearly as much as the United States news industry as a whole from digital advertising on news content last year. Credit Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times $4,700,000,000.
It's more than the combined ticket sales of the last two ''Avengers'' movies. It's more than what virtually any professional sports team is worth. And it's the amount that Google made from the work of news publishers in 2018 via search and Google News, according to a study to be released on Monday by the News Media Alliance.
The journalists who create that content deserve a cut of that $4.7 billion, said David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the alliance, which represents more than 2,000 newspapers across the country, including The New York Times.
''They make money off this arrangement,'' Mr. Chavern said, ''and there needs to be a better outcome for news publishers.''
That $4.7 billion is nearly as much as the $5.1 billion brought in by the United States news industry as a whole from digital advertising last year '-- and the News Media Alliance cautioned that its estimate for Google's income was conservative. For one thing, it does not count the value of the personal data the company collects on consumers every time they click on an article like this one.
''The study blatantly illustrates what we all know so clearly and so painfully,'' said Terrance C.Z. Egger, the chief executive of Philadelphia Inquirer PBC, which publishes The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and philly.com. ''The current dynamics in the relationships between the platforms and our industry are devastating.''
The News Media Alliance is making the study public in advance of a House subcommittee hearing on Tuesday on the interrelationship of big tech companies and the media.
Mr. Chavern said he hoped that an outcome of any conversation generated by the study would be the passage of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. The bill now before lawmakers would give news publishers a four-year antitrust exemption, allowing them to collectively bargain with the owners of online platforms over revenue splitting.
The bill has bipartisan support in the Senate and the House, including the chairman and ranking member of the House Judiciary's antitrust subcommittee.
''News is an important form of content that sustains civic society,'' Mr. Chavern added. ''I think everybody, from readers to writers to politicians, understands that if journalism goes away, that's a horrible outcome for whether we're able to sustain the republic.''
Google, which did not reply to a request for comment, keeps much of its data about search and revenues in a black box alongside its algorithm.
The News Media Alliance based its new report partly on a study done by the economics consulting firm Keystone Strategy. Keystone Strategy relies on a statistic that was made public in 2008, when a Google executive estimated that Google News brought in $100 million. The study also noted how much company revenues have grown since then, among other factors.
News is a significant part of Google's business, according to the study. Some 40 percent of the clicks on the platform's trending queries are for news. That's content that Google does not pay for, the report said, although it often presents headlines from news outlets verbatim.
Mr. Egger, of the Philadelphia Media Network, said the big tech companies should show some appreciation for the content that news publishers provide.
''There's the potential for a beautiful codependence,'' he said. ''If you look at the reason they have such high engagement on their platforms, increasingly news is the No. 1 driver. Given that, they wouldn't want to see news go away. And yet the unintended consequence is we need to share the revenue or get paid for the content that we produce.''
Two giant companies '-- Alphabet, which is Google's parent, and Facebook '-- are major distributors for news publishers. The two of them ferry more than 80 percent of external traffic to various sites. That is a far cry from the analog days, when media barons controlled how their publications reached the public and collected all the ad income they generated.
But Google and Facebook don't steer news consumers to news sites out of altruism. Rather, their middleman role allows them to take a huge proportion of online ad revenue. As a result, legacy news outlets have lost a crucial source of income over the last couple of decades, which has led them in most cases to shrink or disappear.
The big tech companies ''like this business,'' Mr. Chavern said. ''It's a good business, where you write for them.''
A version of this article appears in print on
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Google Made $4.7 Billion Off News Media's Content
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Text - H.R.2054 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:15
Text: H.R.2054 '-- 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)There is one version of the bill.
Shown Here: Introduced in House (04/03/2019) 116th CONGRESS 1st Session
H. R. 2054
To provide a temporary safe harbor for the publishers of online content to collectively negotiate with dominant online platforms regarding the terms on which their content may be distributed.
Mr. Cicilline (for himself, Mr. Collins of Georgia, and Mr. DeSaulnier ) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To provide a temporary safe harbor for the publishers of online content to collectively negotiate with dominant online platforms regarding the terms on which their content may be distributed.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of theUnited States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. Short title .
This Act may be cited as the ''Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019''.
SEC. 2. Safe harbor for certain collective negotiations .
(a) Definitions .'--For purposes of this section:
(1) The term ''news content creator'' means'--
(A) any print or digital news organization that'--
(i) has a dedicated professional editorial staff that creates and distributes original news and related content concerning local, national, or international matters of public interest on at least a weekly basis; and
(ii) is commercially marketed through subscriptions, advertising, or sponsorship; and
(B) provides original news and related content, with the editorial content consisting of not less than 25 percent current news and related content.
(2) The term ''Online Content Distributor'' means any entity that'--
(A) operates a website or other online service that displays, distributes, or directs users to news articles, works of journalism, or other content on the internet that is generated by third-party news content creators; and
(B) has not fewer than 1,000,000,000 monthly active users, in the aggregate, of all of its websites or online services worldwide.
(3) The term ''antitrust laws'' has the meaning given such term in subsection (a) of the first section of the Clayton Act (15 U.S.C. 12), and includes'--
(A) section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 45) to the extent that such section applies to unfair methods of competition; and
(B) any State law, rule, or regulation that prohibits or penalizes the conduct described in, or is otherwise inconsistent with, subsection (b) of this section.
(4) The term ''negotiation period'' means the period of time beginning on the date this Act goes into effect and ending 48 months later.
(b) Limitation of liability .'--A news content creator shall not be held liable under the antitrust laws for engaging in negotiations with other news content creators during the negotiation period to collectively withhold content from, or negotiate with, an Online Content Distributor regarding the terms on which the news content creators' news content may be distributed by the Online Content Distributor, if'--
(1) the negotiations with the Online Content Distributor'--
(A) are not limited to price and are nondiscriminatory as to similarly situated news content creators, and directly relate to the quality, accuracy, attribution or branding, and interoperability of news; and
(B) pertain to terms that would be available to all news content creators;
(2) the coordination among the news content creators is directly related to and reasonably necessary for negotiations with an Online Content Distributor that are otherwise consistent with this Act; and
(3) the negotiations do not involve any person that is not a news content creator or an Online Content Distributor.
(c) Rule of construction .'--Except as provided in this Act, this Act shall not be construed to modify, impair, or supersede the operation of the antitrust laws.
2019-2020 Board of Directors | News Media Alliance
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:18
President and Chief Executive Officer, Trib Total MediaWarrendale, PA
Jennifer Bertetto is a 26-year veteran of the newspaper industry. In 1992, her career began in the Sports Department of the Valley News Dispatch in Tarentum, PA. Jennifer's first job in the business was taking baseball scores for the local baseball and soccer leagues at the age of sixteen.
In 1997, Jennifer graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
In 1998, Jennifer was hired by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review as an entry level local sales representative, servicing out-of-market accounts. By 2001, Jennifer was promoted to manage the Local Retail Sales Team in the Northern Allegheny County geographical region.
In 2003, Jennifer joined the Corporate Sales Force as a Major and National Sales Executive where she was the top sales person for two years, growing her annual revenue 25% and 7%, respectively. Jennifer was named both the Director's Award winner and President's Award winner in 2003 (for highest sales revenue and highest lineage company-wide).
In 2005, Jennifer was asked to return to management as the Ad Director for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. During this time, the advertising department moved to a Universal Rate Card and Dollar Volume Contracting model under Jennifer's guidance while consolidating 9 different sales departments into one department '' creating the company now known as ''Trib Total Media''. During her tenure in this role, Jennifer also converted the outside sales force to a straight commission program and effectively reduced the sales force from 152 outside reps to 43 outside reps.
In 2010, Jennifer became Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Trib Total Media '' overseeing all aspects of the business division including production, circulation, marketing, advertising, new product development and lean efficiency. Some highlights during her tenure have included becoming the largest regional newspaper 6 days per week (ousting the Post Gazette from this long held position); overseeing the installation of Miles 33 for the advertising and accounting departments, a DTI installation for the newsroom; launching an on-line only sports talk radio station, and the installation of a new community press at Trib Total Media's Regional Packaging Facility, and bringing distribution back in-house.
Jennifer was promoted in 2015 to her current role as President and Chief Executive Officer of Trib Total Media. She has overseen two phases of transformation within Trib Total Media during this time. In 2015, the company sold off several of their daily newspapers and reduced their home delivery footprint in Allegheny and Westmoreland County in an effort to streamline expenses and migrate to new content delivery options. In 2016, the company made the move to all digital for its Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh edition.
Jennifer also serves as the President of 535media, an affiliate of Trib Total Media which focuses on digital products, services and innovation as well as owning its own website, www.upgruv.com. She is also the Vice-President of InvenGlobal, an e-gaming and video game based website (www.invenglobal.com) in which 535media is an investor.
Trib Total Media employs over 450 individuals in Western Pennsylvania and has 2 daily newspapers, over 40 weekly publications, several websites such as www.triblive.com, www.pghtrib.com, www.pittsburghautosuperstore.com and www.pittsburghpennysaver.com, a promotional products division, and web based radio station, www.tribliveradio.com. The Trib's print products reach over a half a million homes each week and its online presence reaches 2.5 million unique users each month.
Jennifer serves on the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania News Media Association and for the News Media Alliance. She also serves as the Secretary on the Board of Trustees for the National Aviary and as the Vice-President of The National Flag Foundation. Jennifer is presently seated on the University of Pittsburgh Board of Visitors for the Kenneth P. Dietrich College of Arts and Sciences.
Jennifer resides in Lower Burrell with her husband of 19 years, Keith.
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Why Free Is Too High a Price for Facebook and Google - WSJ
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:28
Over the past two years, Facebook and Google have taken fire for their roles in everything from eroding democratic institutions to damaging mental health to undermining our collective immunity to preventable diseases.
Those flaws could be seen as the reckless mistakes of callow disrupters. But here's another way to look at them: They're the price of free.
As U.S. antitrust regulators and lawmakers gear up for a probe into Alphabet Inc.'s Google and divvy up responsibility for investigating Facebook Inc. and other tech giants, one issue they might assess is how to weigh consumer harm. By traditional measures, Facebook and Google have been a boon to consumers, going from one service to another'--search, email, messaging, maps, photo sharing'--and serving up easy-to-use, zero-cost offerings.
In reality, these services are anything but free. We just don't pay for them in the way we're used to.
In fact, most of the ills traced to these companies are a direct consequence of their ''free'' business models, which compel them to suck up our personal data and prioritize user growth over the health and privacy of individuals and society, all so they can sell more advertisements. They make money from the attention and in some cases the hard work'--all those status updates, videos and likes are also a kind of uncompensated labor, if you think about it'--of their most devoted users.
What's more, their success has given them the power to block upstarts that might have competed against them with different approaches.
These costs can be harder to quantify than the traditional measure of higher prices associated with anticompetitive behavior. What dollar value do you assign to misinformation that undermined the national discourse around the 2016 U.S. election, and how do you count that versus the convenience of sharing with friends and family, or watching fun videos?
But understanding those costs is critical as authorities try to assess whether the economy is better off with the internet giants as they are or whether they need to be curbed or even'--as many critics and presidential contenders have argued'--broken up.
How Free Harms CompetitionCoupling apparent consumer benefit to monumental revenue is what allowed these companies to balloon to their current size and power. This has led to what critics argue are classically anticompetitive practices, such as buying up rivals, as Facebook did with Instagram, and fighting other competitors by copying them and then beating them with superior scale and resources, as Facebook subsequently used Instagram to do to Snapchat.
Consider if Facebook had never been allowed to buy Instagram or the messaging app WhatsApp in the first place. It isn't so far-fetched since the result is Facebook at its current size: 2 billion-plus users and a market value approximately equal to that of AT&T and Verizon combined. (Outside the realm of tech, regulators are currently hesitating to approve the merger of distant third- and fourth-place wireless companies Sprint and T-Mobile, which feels like a double standard.)
As it happened, younger people migrated en masse from Facebook to Instagram. If the two companies had remained apart, we might have seen heightened competition between them. And the innovative upstart Snapchat might have been able to hold on to attention and users.
Google has used similar tactics in advertising, search and maps. The company has been fined three times by the European Union since 2017, for a total bill of about $9.3 billion, for various anticompetitive practices in search and Android. The company is also the largest seller of advertising in the world and owns two of the top three mobile-mapping and navigation services'--Google Maps and Waze, which it acquired in 2013.
Google has been the subject of some sort of federal inquiry on nine occasions, some of which, like the Federal Trade Commission's 2012 examination of the company's privacy practices, resulted in relatively small fines. When the FTC approved Google's acquisition of advertising giant DoubleClickin 2007, the commission said the deal wouldn't ''substantially lessen competition.'' Congress now has the opportunity to revisit this conclusion.
Whether or not Google and Facebook are on balance creating more innovation in tech will probably be the subject of debate even decades hence. But when academics have studied other industries, they've found a consistent pattern, says Anne Marie Knott, a professor of business at Washington University in St. Louis who invented the measure, called RQ, of the amount of bang per buck companies get from R&D spending.
As companies grow, they pump out more innovations, because being bigger has many advantages, from the scale required to support-related functions like manufacturing and distribution, to a lower fixed cost of R&D relative to their revenue. Facebook executive Nick Clegg has echoed this argument, writing that the company's size gives it the resources to innovate.
The problem is that they lose motivation to innovate once they become a monopoly and lack competition, Prof. Knott says.
''Monopolists will only innovate to the point at which they have brought in the monopoly number of customers, whereas if you have competition,'' she adds, ''you're also continually trying to bring back share you've lost.''
What's unclear at present'--and what regulators and Congress will have to assess'--is where exactly in this transition from usefully big to actually a monopolist Google and Facebook are in their many lines of business.
Not everyone agrees Google and Facebook even qualify as monopolies. Neither company lacks competitors, whether it's Bing, Baidu and Yandex in search or whatever the latest thing teens are on in social media, says Kim Wang, an assistant professor of strategy and international business at Suffolk University's Sawyer Business School, who researches competition among technology firms. ''Even if Google and its peers do seem to possess monopolistic power, fast-paced technological change likely makes the power short-lived,'' she adds.
One thing that's become clear is that these companies' sizes and tendency to eliminate the competition while poaching its talent have created what analysts call an ''investment kill zone.''
''We know of instances where tech giants emulated and then crushed young upstarts, and some prominent venture capitalists have expressed apprehension about funding companies that compete directly against these platforms,'' says economist Ian Hathaway, research director for the Center for American Entrepreneurship.
Google's YouTube is the 800-pound gorilla in user-generated video, but it's worth considering its surviving competitors: There's the Facebook/Instagram conglomerate, there's Amazon.com Inc. -owned Twitch, and there's TikTok. The hugely popular site'--which consists almost entirely of short, song-driven clips'--is the product of the merger of two Chinese startups, Shanghai-based Musical.ly and TikTok, owned by ByteDance Ltd., one of China's most valuable startups. Arguably, TikTok is thriving because it escaped Big Tech's kill zone.
Google and Facebook now make up about 60% of the U.S. digital-advertising pie, which in 2019 is projected to exceed the total ad spend on TV for the first time. In the last three months of 2018, Facebook pulled in about $30 in ad revenue for each user in the U.S. This is why economists are starting to argue that consumers are being taken for a ride by these ''free'' services.
But if our data is so valuable, why aren't Facebook competitors lining up to write us checks for it?
''If these industries were more competitive, a consumer might actually be paid in terms of better services or even cash to use the site,'' said Jason Furman, a former White House chief economist who recently wrote a report for the U.K. government about competition in digital markets. A lack of alternatives is further evidence of the harmful monopoly of Google and Facebook, he adds.
How Free Harms UsWhen an online service must be paid for solely through advertising, the company's overriding incentive is to increase engagement with it: Users see and click on more ads. This drives all sorts of unexpected outcomes. Owing to its engagement-maximizing algorithms, Facebook appears to bear, by its own admission, some responsibility for a genocide in Myanmar.
Other well-documented ills that may have been exacerbated by Facebook include the erosion of global democracy, the resurgence of preventable childhood diseases and what the company itself acknowledges may be wide-ranging deleterious effects on the mental health of millions.
On YouTube, Google's engagement-maximizing algorithm has been recommending material that denies the Holocaust, Sandy Hook and other tragedies, as well as white-supremacist content and other forms of hate speech, a policy the company on Wednesday pledged to redress. Over the years, YouTube has been criticized for other practices, from driving viewers to the internet's darkest corners to pushing questionable content on children. Meanwhile, the globally dominant Google search engine has had a hard time avoiding accusations of bias in its results.
What Can Regulators DoIn recent history, regulators have clipped the wings of tech giants rather than breaking them up. In Microsoft Corp.'s 2001 settlement with the Justice Department, the company agreed to external oversight and opening up more of Windows to developers, rather than shedding its Internet Explorer browser.
Facebook seems well aware of this history, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg telling regulators that his company welcomes more regulation'--but not, of course, being broken up.
''Because these platforms are so multifaceted and involved in all these different lines of business, there is not just one problem, there are many problems,'' says Lina Khan, an academic fellow at Columbia Law School and an adviser to the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee now examining the monopoly issue in Big Tech. ''I don't think a regulatory approach and a breakup approach are mutually exclusive,'' she adds.
In a forthcoming paper, Ms. Khan chronicles historical antitrust efforts against banks, TV networks, railroads and telecommunications companies. In each of these industries, regulators aimed to prevent companies from expanding into lines of business that would compete with their own customers.
Taken to the extreme, such logic would dictate that Google would have to stop making its own apps, since they compete with developers that publish in its Google Play app store, Facebook would have to stop copying or buying up companies that use its services and rely on it for advertising revenue, and all tech giants would have to curtail their tendency to pile into pretty much every business on the planet.
Write to Christopher Mims at christopher.mims@wsj.com
That ''$4.7 billion'' number for how much money Google makes off the news industry? It's imaginary >> Nieman Journalism Lab
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 11:03
June 10, 2019, 4:32 p.m.
It's based on math reasoning that would be embarrassing from a bright middle schooler.
Journalists are typically happy to bemoan the role that Google has played in reducing their profession to revenue smithereens. (Get a couple beers in one and try it out!) But if there's one thing they're even more happy to do, it's to complain about sloppy work.
That's what much of Media Twitter has been doing today after a not-particularly-searching New York Times story last night headlined: Google Made $4.7 Billion From the News Industry in 2018, Study Says.
The Study doing the Saying is from the News Media Alliance, the industry trade group formerly known as the Newspaper Association of America. Here's a bit from NMA's press release:
The News Media Alliance today published findings from a new study that analyzes how Google uses and benefits from news. Among the major findings of the study is that news is a key source on which Google has increasingly relied to drive consumer engagement with its products. The amount of news in Google search results ranges from 16 to 40 percent, and the platform received an estimated $4.7 billion in revenue in 2018 from crawling and scraping news publishers' content '-- without paying the publishers for that use.
The study, containing analysis conducted by experts at strategy and economics consulting firm Keystone Strategy and written by the News Media Alliance, includes a qualitative overview of Google's usage of news content, an analysis of the amount of news content on Google Search and Google News, and an estimate of revenue Google receives from news.
$4.7 billion is a nice chunk of change, and newspapers think Google should hand some of it over. But immediately, people began to poke at that number '-- in particular, the frankly absurd input on which the whole megillah is based: one stray number mentioned at a lunch in 2008. It's amazing, honestly.
Here's the section from the ''study,'' which you can read in full here (p. 23). Google doesn't have a line item on its quarterly earnings reports for ''Pillaging of Legacy News Industry Revenue,'' so they needed a way to come up with a number:
Content on Google Search that does not directly result in revenue still provides Google significant benefit, as users who come to Google for free content are the same users clicking on ads. While it is difficult to measure the monetary value of this content, Google has provided a benchmark. Specifically, Google estimated that Google News, a product without ads, brought in an estimated $100 million in yearly revenue in 2008. Although Google has provided no more recent estimates of the value of news content, the $100 million quoted by Google for Google News (which has no ads) can be extrapolated in a straightforward way to suggest an estimated $4.7 billion of revenue in 2018 to Google from news content on Google Search and Google News.
Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Did you catch that? Google mentioned a number in 2008, $100 million. From that one number, you can ''extrapolate in a straightforward way'' to $4.7 billion today.
Let me begin to list some of the issues here.
While Einstein's work on special relativity does hold that space and time are, in fact, parts of a unitary continuum capable of theoretical folding into traversable wormholes, you can't just say 2008 — a multiplier = 2019.If you ran with this concept '-- that we live today in a straightforwardly extrapolatable 2008, except the kids use TikTok now '-- you would calculate that the United States will elect 1.08 black presidents this year. After all, it elected 1 black president in 2008, when the nation had 304 million residents; with population growth to a robust 329 million today, you could just extrapolate it out. Straightforwardly.
You'd also deduce that every year is now the International Year of the Potato, Suzanne Pleshette would just keep dying, and Stuff White People Like would continue to loom large in the culture.
According to a bathroom scale this morning, my son has gained exactly 39.7 pounds from the moment of his conception to his four-year-old self. Obviously, he'll weigh 645 pounds at his retirement party.
Google News in 2008 did not ''bring in'' $100 million in the way you're thinking. Google News has no ads, so it generates no direct revenue, but '-- like all of Google's products '-- it serves as one more thing to attract people to the search engine, where the real money is.Our only historical record, as far as I can tell, of that fateful 2008 discussion is this Fortune article by Jon Fortt:
Google News is free and has zero ads. So what's it worth to Google? About $100 million.
That's the figure Google vice president Marissa Mayer, who heads search products and user experience, threw out during a Tuesday lunch session at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif.
How does she put a value on a product that doesn't directly make money? The online giant figures that Google News funnels readers over to the main Google search engine, where they do searches that do produce ads. And that's a nice business. Think of Google News as a $100 million search referral machine.
So this is a bank-shot estimate of how much Google News users are then influenced to use Google search. (I'm sure there are lots of hardcore Google News users who'd just never heard this scrappy startup also had a search engine '-- lead generation!). It's a number ''thrown out'' by a Google VP '-- not some memorable prime number, just a nice round hundred mil, the sort of number you might pull out of nowhere when you've been asked a question over dry conference chicken.
That '-- and that alone '-- is the basis for a Google Made $4.7 Billion From the News Industry in 2018, Study Says headline 11 years later.
There's nothing in this line of reasoning that's specific to the news industry. The argument here is that Google is screwing over publishers by making all this money and not giving some of it to newspapers. Or as NMA puts it: ''crawling and scraping news publishers' content '-- without paying the publishers for that use.''''Crawling and scraping'' can sound kinda gross if you say it funny, but saying something is ''crawling and scraping'' is another way of saying it's a search engine. You cannot have a search engine without someone going to all the websites on the Internet and seeing what's on them first. Bing does it! Baidu does it! AltaVista did it! It's just definitionally part of the job.
If you think being a search engine is somehow unacceptable without giving money to the, er, crawled and scraped, then the news industry might have an argument. But so would the other 1.5 billion websites on the Internet. You're essentially saying that it's not just $4.7 billion of Google's gains that are definitionally ill-gotten '-- it's all of their search engine revenue, all of which is generated through the exact same process.
I know it may be tempting at times to say YES GOOGLE IS 100 PERCENT BAD KILL IT KILL IT. But the news industry's argument here only makes sense if you think search engines should be banned altogether, and that's dumb.
Those fundamental flaws don't even get into the other issues of reasoning here. Like: The main thing Google News does is'...direct traffic to news sites! Gazillions of links being clicked, each and every day. Presumably, news organizations monetized those visits, somehow? Perhaps by putting ads on their sites? Does that mean all ad revenue that comes out of visits driven by Google is ill-gotten too? ''News Industry Made $9 Gazillion From Google in 2018, Study Says.''
Here's the reality: Google absolutely does make money that '-- in an alternate universe where the web had never existed, no one had ever thought to create a search engine, or the idea of using search requests to personalize ads had never popped into anyone's mind '-- would be going to newspapers. But that's not because Google is using fancy accounting to deviously withhold its quarterly crawl-and-scrape payments. It's because:
Google created consumer products and services '-- like Google Search '-- that people find valuable enough to give their attention in very large quantities, all day and night.Google created a much better, much more effective digital ad product than newspapers did or, in their legacy form, ever could.Newspapers used to benefit from people having very few other options for news, information, entertainment, and distraction. People now have a functionally infinite number of options, and they're not picking newspapers.And now we know they can do math better than newspapers can, too.
This kind of journalism is dangerous even if one wants to be sympathetic to the cause: @nytimes blithely gives a newspaper industry group's "study" a lot of ink with very little data "@Google Made $4.7 Billion From the News Industry in 2018, Study Says" https://t.co/PmXRapfgC8
'-- Raju Narisetti (@raju) June 10, 2019
Oh my god is this nonsense. Marissa Mayer makes an offhanded comment in 2008 about a product that has *literally no advertising or monetization whatsoever*, and suddenly a decade later Google News accounts for 3.3% of Google's revenue? Bullshit.https://t.co/Wtc8Nzk41T
'-- Aron Pilhofer (@pilhofer) June 10, 2019
$100M in 2008 was about .45% of total revenue. The same percent of revenue today would be about $650M. So love to know where the remaining $4.1 BILLION comes from. If anyone has a copy of this study, I would love to see it.
'-- Aron Pilhofer (@pilhofer) June 10, 2019
I suspect that this thread will get me in hot water but here goes: For-profit commercial publishers who complain about Google killing their business should look in the mirror and own their own mistakes first (1/x) https://t.co/HTWgM8rJAl
'-- David Skok (@dskok) June 10, 2019
This article has already been torn to shreds, as it deserves to be. But one more point: If publishers did not believe they were net beneficiaries of Google search, they could use robots.txt to defeat it. They don't. Might have mentioned that. https://t.co/ZxKZ1ZXnVz via @NYTimes
'-- Richard Tofel (@dicktofel) June 10, 2019
Hard agree. I've seen the study, and this number is basically pulled out of thin air. https://t.co/aW50RRHLwC
'-- Felix Salmon (@felixsalmon) June 10, 2019
The issue of #Google and the news industry is this: Google is a massive advertising company. They are part of a live experiment in changing communications and publishing systems, and doing it without much understanding of what will happen as a result of their actions 1/x
'-- emily bell (@emilybell) June 10, 2019
This is a very dumb and self-serving study, and yet because it fits a very handy narrative for news outlets I suspect it could easily end up cited for years. https://t.co/22CcelRpJR
'-- James Ball (@jamesrbuk) June 10, 2019
The end of political cartoons at The New York Times | Chappatte.com
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 04:33
Curiously, I remain positive. This is the era of images. In a world of short attention span, their power has never been so big. Out there is a whole world of possibilities, not only in editorial cartooning, still or animated, but also in new fields like on-stage illustrated presentations and long-form comics reportage - of which I have been a proponent for the last 25 years. (I'm happy, by the way, to have opened the door for the genre at the NYT with the ''Inside Death Row'' series in 2016. The following year, another series about Syrian refugees by Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan got the NYT a Pulitzer prize.) It's also a time where the media need to renew themselves and reach out to new audiences. And stop being afraid of the angry mob. In the insane world we live in, the art of the visual commentary is needed more than ever. And so is humor.Patrick ChappatteJune 10, 2019
News Publishers Go To War With the Internet
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 08:46
Around the world, news industry trade associations are corruptly cashing in their political capital'Š'--'Šwhich they have because their members are newspapers, and politicians are scared of them'Š'--'Šin desperate acts of protectionism to attack platform companies. The result is a raft of legislation that will damage the internet and in the end hurt everyone, including journalists and especially citizens.
As I was sitting in the airport leaving Newsgeist Europe, a convening for journalists and publishers [disclosure: Google pays for the venue, food, and considerable drink; participants pay their own travel], my Twitter feed lit up like the Macy's fireworks as The New York Times reported'Š'--'Šor rather, all but photocopied'Š'--'Ša press release from the News Media Alliance (n(C)e Newspaper Association of America) contending that Google makes $4.7 billion a year from news, at the expense of news publishers.
The Times story itself is appalling as it swallowed the News Media Alliance's PR whole, quoting people from the association and not including comment from Google until hours later. Many on Twitter were aghast at the poor journalism. I contacted Google PR, who said The Times did not reach out to the person who normally speaks on these matters or anyone in the company's Washington office. Google sent me their statement:
These back of the envelope calculations are inaccurate as a number of experts are pointing out. The overwhelming number of news queries do not show ads. The study ignores the value Google provides. Every month Google News and Google Search drives over 10 billion clicks to publishers' websites, which drive subscriptions and significant ad revenue. We've worked very hard to be a collaborative and supportive technology and advertising partner to news publishers worldwide.
The ''study'' upon which The Times (and others) relied is, to say the least, specious. No, it's humiliating. I want to dispatch with its fallacies quickly'Š'--'Što get to my larger point, about the danger legacy news publishers are posing to the future of news and the internet'Š'--'Šand that won't be hard. The study collapses in its second paragraph:
Google has emerged as a major gateway for consumers to access news. In 2011, Google Search combined with Google News accounted for the majority (approximately 75%) of referral traffic to top news sites. Since January 2017, traffic from Google Search to news publisher sites has risen by more than 25% to approximately 1.6 billion visits per week in January 2018. Corresponding with consumers' shift towards Google for news consumption, news is becoming increasingly important to Google, as demonstrated by an increase in Google searches about news.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is great news for news. For as anyone under the age of 99 understands, Google sends readers to sites based on links from search and other products. That Google is emphasizing news and currency more is good for publishers, as that sends them readers. (That 10-billion-click number Google cited above is eight years old and so I have little doubt it is much higher now thanks to all its efforts around news.)
The problem has long been that publishers aren't competent at exploiting the full value of these clicks by creating meaningful and valuable ongoing relationships with the people sent their way. So what does Google do? It tries to help publishers by, for example, starting a subscription service that drives more readers to easily subscribe'Š'--'Šand join and contribute'Š'--'Što news sites directly from Google pages. The NMA study cites that subscription service as an example of Google emphasizing news and by implication exploiting publishers. It is the opposite. Google started the subscription service because publishers begged for it'Š'--'ŠI was in the room when they did'Š'--'Šand Google listened. The same goes for most every product change the study lists in which Google emphasizes news more. That helps publishers. The study then uses ridiculously limited data (including, crucially, an offhand and often disputed remark 10 years ago by a then-exec at Google about the conceptual value of news) to make leaps over logic to argue that news is important on its services and thus Google owes news publishers a cut of its revenue (which Google gains by offering publishers' former customers, advertisers, a better deal; it's called competition). By this logic, Instagram should be buying cat food for every kitty in the land and Reddit owes a fortune to conspiracy theorists.
The real problem here is news publishers' dogged refusal to understand how the internet has changed their world, throwing the paradigm they understood into the grinder. In the US and Europe, they still contend that Google is taking their ''content,'' as if quoting and linking to their sites is like a camera stealing their soul. They cannot grok that value on the internet is concentrated not in a product or property called content'Š'--'Šarticles, headlines, snippets, thumbnails, words'Š'--'Šbut instead in relationships. Journalism is no longer a factory valued by how many widgets and words it produces but instead by how much it accomplishes for people in their lives. I have tried here and here and in many a meeting in newsrooms and journalism conferences to offer this advice to news publishers'Š'--'Šwith tangible ideas about how to build a new journalistic business around relationships'Š'--'Šbut most prove incapable of shifting mindset and strategy beyond valuing content for content's sake. Editors who do understand are often stymied by their short-sighted publishers and KPIs and soon quit.
Most legacy publishers have come up with no sustainable business strategy for a changing world. So they try to stop the world from changing by unleashing their trade associations [read: lobbyists] on capitals from Brussels to Berlin to London to Melbourne to Washington (see: the NMA's effort to get an antitrust exemption to go after the platforms for antitrust; its study was prepared to hand to Congress in time for its hearings this week). These trade associations attack the platforms without ever acknowledging the fault of their own members in our current polarization in society. (Yes, I'm talking about, for example, Fox News and other Murdoch properties, dues-paying members of many a trade association. By our silence in journalism and its trade associations in not criticizing their worst, we endorse it.)
The efforts of lobbyists for my industry are causing irreparable harm to the internet. No, Google, Facebook, and Twitter are not the internet, but what is done to them is done to the net. And what's been done includes horrendous new copyright legislation in the EU that tries to force Google et al to have to negotiate to pay for quoting snippets of content to which they link. Google won't; it would be a fool to. So I worry that platforms will link to news less and less resulting in self-inflicted harm for the news industry and journalists, but more important hurting the public conversation at exactly the wrong moment. Thanks, publishers. At Newsgeist Europe, I sat in a room filled with journalists terribly worried about the impact of the EU's copyright directive on their work and their business but I have to say they have no one but their own publishers and lobbyists to blame.
I am tempted to say that I am ashamed of my own industry. But I won't for two reasons: First, I want to believe that the industry's lobbyists do not speak for journalists themselves'Š'--'Šbut I damned well better start hearing the protests of journalists to what their companies are doing. (That includes journalists on the NMA board.) Second, I am coming to see that I'm not part of the media industry but instead that we are all part of something larger, which we now see as the internet. (I'll be writing more about this idea later.) That means we have a responsibility to criticize and help improve both technology and news companies. What I see instead is too many journalists stirring up moral panic about the internet and its current (by no means permanent) platforms, serving'Š'--'Šinadvertently or not'Š'--'Šthe protectionist strategies of their own bosses, without examining media's culpability in many of the sins they attribute to technology. (I wish I could discuss this with The New York Times' ombudsman or any ombudsman in our field, but we know what happened to them.)
My point: We're in this together. That is why I go to events put on by both the technology and news industries, why I try to help both, why I criticize both, why I try to help build bridges between them. It's why I am devoting time and effort to my least favorite subject: internet regulation. It is why I am so exasperated at leaders in my own industry for their failure to recognize, adapt to, and exploit the change they try to deny. It's why I'm disappointed in my own industry for not criticizing itself. Getting politicians who are almost all painfully ignorant about technology to try to define, limit, and regulate that technology and what we can do with it is the last thing we should do. It is irresponsible and dangerous of my industry to try.
Newspapers' Embarrassing Lobbying Campaign - POLITICO Magazine
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 08:48
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Fourth Estate
The industry doesn't need'--and shouldn't ask for'--a special law to help it compete with Google and Facebook.
The newspaper industry has crawled up Capitol Hill once again to beg for an antitrust exemption it thinks it needs in its fight with Google and Facebook for advertising dollars.
Currently, Google and Facebook collect 73 percent of all digital advertising. Members of the news industry believe that the two tech giants have exploited their dominance of the web to unfairly collect digital dollars that rightfully belong to the news organizations. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019, introduced in the House in April, and its Senate version, would allow print and online news companies to cartelize into a united front against Google and Facebook. Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan cheered the bill last week and other newspapers (Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, and others) have editorialized in favor of the exemption. Under the new law, which would sunset in four years, the cartel could collectively withhold content from Google, Facebook and other sites and negotiate the terms under which the two tech giants could use their work. Anti-trust law currently prohibits such industrywide collusion.
Story Continued Below
This proposed antitrust exemption'--being pushed by the 2,000-plus member News Media Alliance trade group'--is misguided on several levels. For one thing, it would be wrong to pass a law that would prop up one media sector by selectively bestowing special competitive privileges on it. The bill would not allow broadcasters to join the new cartel. The bill's supporters also falsely blame Google and Facebook for the newspaper industry's decay when circulation declines'--especially when measured per capita'--predate the emergence of the web.
In a notable 1976 Los Angeles Times piece, press chronicler David Shaw wrote in his lede, ''Are you now holding an endangered species in your hands?'' Shaw's boss, Los Angeles Times Publisher Otis Chandler, conceded that the Times'--or any other metro paper'--was ''really essential'' to not even 50 percent of its readers. In these pre-web days, as newspapers became less popular (and sometimes more expensive), advertisers moved their dollars to radio and television. Nobody in the news industry called for government protection back then just because advertisers started spending money selling their wares on the local UHF station.
The bill's supporters overstate the predicament of newspapers. Yes, the conventional news business is in decline, with 1,800 titles out of 9,000 going out of business or merging since 2004. Total newspaper advertising revenue has fallen dramatically since 2006. So something is different now. But it's not all bad, either: According to the Pew Research Center, both circulation revenue and digital advertising revenue are on the rise. Print advertising once accounted for 80 percent of revenue, industrywide, for newspapers. Now, newspapers aren't just a print business. At the New York Times, digital advertising and digital subscription now bring in about 40 percent of revenue.
The newspapers that are struggling to compete for digital dollars have partly themselves to blame. In 2000, classified ads made up about 40 percent of newspaper revenue, the Minneapolis Tribune reports. By 2012, that figure had dropped to 18 percent, but Google and Facebook played almost no part in this collapse. Craig Newmark built a better'--a much cheaper'--classified mousetrap for consumers at Craigslist. eBay also took some of the newspaper market share. But the newspaper industry itself undermined the conventional print classified business as much or more than did Newmark. As I've written before, newspaper companies were quick to move classified action to the new, online companies they founded. Gannett, McClatchy, Knight Ridder, Tribune, Times Mirror, Central Newspapers, A.H. Belo, and the Washington Post Co. banded together in 1998 to sell automobiles'--long a classified print product'--on Cars.com. In 1999, Cox newspapers created Autotrader.com. In 2000, Knight Ridder and Tribune purchased CareerBuilder.com, and two years later Gannett bought in. Apartments.com was yet another co-venture of five newspaper media companies.
One measure of how lucrative online classified ads became for the newspaper industry could be seen when the Graham family sold the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos for $250 million in 2013. The Grahams retained their share in Cars.com, which they later got $408.5 million for in 2014.
Never forget that when newspapers were king and held pricing power over advertisers, they gouged advertisers with ever higher ad rates, and they didn't mind going to Congress to protect their position then, either. In 1980, Washington Post Co. CEO Katharine Graham lobbied Congress to block AT&T from starting its own ''electronic yellow pages.'' When a senator told Graham that what really worried her was a new product that would destroy her advertising base, Graham said, ''You're damn right it is.''
The backers of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019 seem to think that a segment of the news industry has a ''right'' to the levels of revenue it once enjoyed. That's almost as crazy as President Donald Trump's protectionist tariffs! In her column, the Post's Sullivan argues that we should pass the antitrust bill to give newspapers a breather because they produce a valuable good. I agree that newspapers are the greatest media ever invented. I swaddled my children in newsprint and fed them newsprint porridge as their first solid meals. But my nostalgia for the great newspaper era is no justification for putting a federal thumb on the scales in the direction of newsprint. If consumers are deliberately spurning newspapers en masse and flocking elsewhere for news and advertising, it's not the business of Congress to steer them back.
Instead of petitioning Congress for special privileges in the Katharine Graham manner, the news industry needs to compete. If it can't wrangle enough customers, it deserves what's coming to it.
Send your favorite Katharine Graham story via email to Shafer.Politico@gmail.com. My email alerts tried to sell its 1975 Triumph Spitfire through a Post classified. No takers after three days. In a couple of hours, Craigslist found a buyer. My Twitter feed almost reads like a classified ad. My RSS feed calls for the abolishment of all antitrust laws.
Any Collusion?
Judicial Watch: Records Obtained in Court-Ordered Discovery Reveal Obama White House Tracking FOIA Request for Clinton Emails - Judicial Watch
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 04:16
'WH called '' have we received a FOIA request' '' State Department
(Washington, DC) '' Judicial Watch announced today that it obtained 44 pages of records from the State Department through court-ordered discovery revealing that the Obama White House was tracking a December 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking records concerning then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of an unsecure, non-government email system. Months after the Obama White House involvement, the State Department responded to the requestor, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), falsely stating that no such records existed.
Judicial Watch's discovery is centered upon whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system and whether the State Department acted in bad faith in processing Judicial Watch's FOIA request for communications from Clinton's office. U.S District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ordered Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides, as well as E.W. Priestap, to be deposed or answer written questions under oath. The court ruled that the Clinton email system was ''one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.''
The State Department's Office of Inspector General issued a report in January 2016 saying ''At the time the request was received, dozens of senior officials throughout the Department, including members of Secretary Clinton's immediate staff, exchanged emails with the Secretary using the personal accounts she used to conduct official business.'' Also, the IG ''found evidence that [Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills] was informed of the request at the time it was received '...''
The State Department produced records in response to court-ordered document requests that detail Obama White House involvement in the Clinton email FOIA request.
In a December 20, 2012, email with the subject line ''Need to track down a FOIA request from CREW'', Sheryl L. Walter, director of the State Department's Office of Information Programs and Services (A/GIS/IPS), writes to IPS officials Rosemary D. Reid and Patrick D. Scholl and their assistants:
WH called '' have we received a FOIA request from CREW (Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington) on the topic of personal use of email by senior officials? Apparently other agencies have. If we have it, can you give me the details so I can call the WH back? I think they'd like it on quick turnaround. Thanks! Sheryl
In the same email chain, Walter on December 20, 2012 also emailed Heather Samuelson, Clinton's White House liaison, describing the CREW FOIA request:
Hi Heather '' Copy attached, it was in our significant weekly FOIA report that we send to L and S/ES also. Do you want us to add you to that list? It's a subset of things like this that we think likely to be of broader Department interest. More detail below re this request. As a practical matter given our workload, it won't be processed for some months. Let me know if there are any particular sensitivities. If we don't talk later, happy holidays! All the best, Sheryl
Sheryl: The request is assigned Case #F-2012-40981. It was received on 12/6/2012 and acknowledged on 12/10/2012. The request is assigned for processing.
On January 10, 2013, Walter writes to Samuelson that she is not including ''personal'' accounts in the FOIA request search:
Hi Heather '' did you ever get any intell re what other agencies are doing re this FOIA request that seeks records about the number of email accounts associated with the Secretary (but isn't specifying ''personal'' email accounts so we are interpreting as official accounts only). We are considering contacting the requester to find out exactly what it is they are looking for. Do you have any-concerns about that approach?
Soon afterward, Samuelson responds, ''White House Counsel was looking into this for me. I will circle back with them now to see if they have further guidance.''
CREW's general counsel, Anne Weismann, submitted a FOIA request to the State Department on December 6, 2012, seeking ''records sufficient to show the number of email accounts of or associated with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the extent to which those email accounts are identifiable as those of or associated with Secretary Clinton.''
On May 10, 2013, [Information Programs and Services] replied to CREW, stating that ''no records responsive to your request were located.''
Samuelson became Secretary Clinton's personal lawyer and in 2014 led the review of Clinton's emails to determine which ones were work-related and which were personal. She was also one of five close Clinton associates granted immunity by the Department of Justice in the Clinton email investigation.
Samuelson is one of several Obama administration and State Department officials ordered by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth to respond under oath to Judicial Watch questions regarding whether Clinton's private email use while Secretary of State was an intentional attempt to evade FOIA.
The new documents also include a January 2013 email exchange discussing Clinton's departure from the State Department in which Agency Records Officer Tasha M. Thian specifically stating that Secretary Clinton ''does not use email.''
This was directly contradicted by an email exchange between Secretary Clinton and Gen. David Petraeus dating back to January 2009 '' the very first days of Clinton's State Department tenure '' in which she tells Petraeus that she ''had to change her email address.''
Interestingly, this email exchange between Petraeus and Clinton was not produced in a related FOIA lawsuit seeking ''all emails'' of Hillary Clinton. The bottom portion of the email chain was produced, but not the beginning emails.
In a January 2013 email under the subject ''RE: Sec Clinton's papers,'' Thian writes:
Just so you know, Secretary Clinton '' she brought with her a lot of material as Senator and First Lady '' 47 boxes. In case you hear there are many boxes I wanted you to know what they are. She is taking her copies of photos, public speeches, press statements, contacts, templates (some of these are both hard copy and electronic), reimbursements, etc '...
Although Sec. Clinton does not use email [emphasis added] her staffers do '' I have agreed that the emails of the three staffers will be electronically captured (and not printed out).
Also included in the new batch of documents is the draft Departing Officials Notice, which states that State Department personnel are not to remove classified records from Department ''custody and control.''
The new records obtained by Judicial Watch are further evidence revealing the Obama White House's early knowledge of questions surrounding Clinton's email use. In late April, Judicial Watch announced that E.W. (Bill) Priestap, assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, had 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.
''These documents suggest the Obama White House knew about the Clinton email lies being told to the public at least as early as December 2012,'' said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. ''A federal court granted Judicial Watch discovery into the Clinton emails because the court wanted answers about a government cover-up of the Clinton emails. And now we have answers because it looks like the Obama White House orchestrated the Clinton email cover-up.''
Judicial Watch's filed its 2014 FOIA lawsuit after the State Department failed to respond to a May 13, 2014 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)).
Not a GPS Signal Problem - Corrupted Receiver Update | RNTF
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 20:54
LATEST INFO FROM AIN Online: '' June 10, 2019, 12:33 PM
According to a notice from NBAA Traffic Services sent yesterday, ''Numerous calls and emails have come in to the desk this morning in reference to GPS signal disruption.'' The disruption appears to affect only certain Collins Aerospace (formerly Rockwell Collins) GPS receivers, and Collins Aerospace confirmed to AIN, ''We identified a technical issue with our recently released GPS product(s) impacting availability, and have since determined the root cause and the resolution. We are engaging with our customers to ensure continued safe operational capability.''
According to Collins Aerospace, the affected GPS receivers are GPS-4000S part number 822-2189-100 and GLU-2100 part number 822-2532-100.
The NBAA notice pointed out that the FAA had issued a blanket exemption to allow the affected aircraft to be flown below FL280 and if unable to fly RNAV routes, to use ''traditional airways and/or navaids.'' The exemption, however, was valid only through today at 0400 UTC.
According to OpsGroup, members have reported that affected aircraft include the following: Bombardier CRJs and Challenger 300/350, Boeing 737-900, Hawker 750 and 850XP, Cessna Citation CJ3, Gulfstream G200 and G280, Airbus A320, and Boeing MD11.
Blog Editor's Note: Despite the FAA publishing a map purporting to show an area of GPS signal degradation in the United States, information we have now from industry sources seems to show
that ADS-B problems in the United States stem from a bad update to a large class of aviation receivers.
The below is excerpted from a larger aviation industry document. We are not sure about the highlighted comment ''performed a software update last night on the satellites'' as the company in question, as far as we know, does not update GPS satellites. We suspect it means that they did an update to their receivers VIA satellite and that said update was corrupted.
The absence of reports of problems from other modes of transportation and other industries certainly seems to justify refocusing from GPS signals to receivers as the root cause.
Also the FAA is now talking about users 'having problems with their transponders' in its blanket waiver to allow impacted aircraft to fly today.
This is a good reminder for all that great signals in space are just one part of a ''gold standard'' system. We also need unobstructed spectrum, great receiving equipment, and more than one source of great signals.
This will be an interesting one to follow. We look forward to the FAA debriefing the exact nature of the problem (we hope).
Summary of situation '' GPS issues for CRJ, 737-9, MD11, A320, CL300, G280, G200, Hawker
The GPS issue which has affected a large number of operators today is caused by a software update which was corrupted. It's not limited to the US. GPS is likely unavailable on aircraft which have Rockwell Collins GPS-4000S or GLU-2100 GPS/MMR receivers. The impact is either a grounding, or MEL relief where available. Separately, the FAA command center issued an advisory if unable to use RNP routes, file FL280 or below and navigate VOR-VOR. Radar vectors were also provided by ATC for some aircraft.
Aircraft affected, per reports:
Bombardier CRJBombardier Challenger 300/350Boeing 737-900Hawker 800XP, 750MD11Cessna CJ3Airbus 320Gulfstream G280, G200Some Rockwell Collins multi-mode receivers are affected too.Rockwell Collins performed a software update last night on the satellites and for some reason the update was corrupted. It appears that all aircraft worldwide with GPS4000S systems p/n 822-2189-100 are not able to locate satellite position signals.
Important to note that the transponder systems are also affected by this on all aircraft that are ADS-B modified.
Challenger 300 with Collins Proline 21 advanced, LPV, and ADS-B is grounded due to no MMEL relief
Hawkers (800XP and 750) as well as G200 are affected. The Hawkers have Pro-Line 21 and the G200 has a ProLine 4 system.
All CL300/350 with -100 GPS pn
Gulfstream G280s are also affected.
Airbus A320 having issues post ADS B Mod ''
CJ3 is affected first to discover this problem only after starting engines and setting things up with pax on-board (no GPU here).
Challenger 350 with -100 part numbers seem to be having the issues.
U.S. Flights Canceled as FAA Looks into GPS, ADS-B System Errors - Inside GNSS
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 20:52
Passengers stranded at airports is not an uncommon occurrence, but when weather does not appear to be an issue, anxious travelers can get restless searching for answers.
Over the last day or two, a number of U.S. flights were canceled as aircraft were grounded and passengers were left scratching their heads.
According to CNBC, regional carriers in the U.S. ''canceled about 400 flights scheduled for Sunday.'' A Delta spokeswoman added that ''about 80 of its regional flights were canceled,'' and American and United regional carriers were hit by the same issue, according to a Forbes report.
It appears as if problems with the automatic dependent surveillance'--broadcast (ADS''B) is at the heart of the problems. ADS-B is a surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked. According to numerous reports, a problem with the quality of the GPS data over the weekend has disrupted normal ADS-B features on some planes, leading to the cancellations.
When contacted by Inside GNSS, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the following statement:
Air carriers that fly Bombardier CRJ regional jets equipped with Rockwell Collins satellite navigation systems have reported to the FAA that the systems are displaying error messages. We are working to determine the cause of the problem, which may have resulted from a software update to the aircraft navigation systems.
Air carriers in North America and Europe reported the problem. In the United States, SkyWest, Mesa, PSA, and GoJet airlines and Endeavor Air are affected and have cancelled flights. Travelers should check with their airlines for the status of their flights. The carriers have not diverted flights due to the anomaly.
The FAA tracks flights on radar in addition to using satellite technology so airborne aircraft are under continuous surveillance by air traffic control.
The data for the ADS-B system comes from GPS in the U.S. This is where receiver autonomous integrity monitoring (RAIM) comes in and safety-critical GPS systems (those in planes and ships) cross-check their current position.
When GPS is sending degraded or incorrect data, it is sent to the FAA which then displays it on their website.
Despite the FAA publishing a map purporting to show an area of GPS signal degradation in the U.S, the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation wrote in a blog: ''Information we have now from industry sources seems to show that ADS-B problems in the United States stem from a bad update to a large class of aviation receivers.''
You can read the full blog post here: https://rntfnd.org/2019/06/10/probably-not-a-gps-signal-problem-seems-to-be-corrupted-receiver-update/
Also, Monday afternoon, Business Aviation reported that a notice from NBAA Traffic Services stated the GPS signal disruption ''appears to affect only Collins Aerospace GPS receivers.'' The report went on to add that according to Collins Aerospace, the affected GPS receivers are GPS-4000S part number 822-2189-100 and GLU-2100 part number 822-2532-100.
Transponder/GPS issues today - PPRuNe Forums
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 20:42
Something strange has been going on in the friendly skies over the last day or so. Flights are being canceled. Aircraft are grounded. Passengers are understandably upset. The core of the issue is GPS and ADS-B systems. The ADS-B system depends on GPS data to function properly, but over this weekend a problem with the quality of the GPS data has disrupted normal ADS-B features on some planes, leading to the cancellations.
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is a communication system used in aircraft worldwide. Planes transmit location, speed, flight number, and other information on 1090 MHz. This data is picked up by ground stations and eventually displayed on air traffic controller screens. Aircraft also receive this data from each other as part of the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS).
ADS-B isn't a complex or encrypted signal. In fact, anyone with a cheap RTL-SDR can receive the signal. Aviation buffs know how cool it is to see a map of all the aircraft flying above your house. Plenty of hackers have worked on these systems, and we've covered that here on Hackaday. In the USA, the FAA will effectively require all aircraft to carry ADS-B transponders by January 1st, 2020. So as you can imagine, most aircraft already have the systems installed.
¼The ADS-B system in a plane needs to get position data before it can transmit. These days, that data comes from a global satellite navigation system. In the USA, that means GPS. The GPS system is currently having some problems though. This is where Receiver autonomous integrity monitoring (RAIM) comes in. Safety-critical GPS systems (those in planes and ships) cross-check their current position. If GPS is sending degraded or incorrect data, it is sent to the FAA who displays it on their website. The non-precision approach current outage map is showing degraded service all over the US Eastern seaboard, as well as the North. The cause of this signal degradation is currently unknown.
GPS isn't down though '-- you can walk outside with your cell phone to verify that. However, it is degraded. How a plane's GPS system reacts to that depends on the software built into the GPS receiver. If the system fails, the pilots will have to rely on older systems like VOR to navigate. But ADS-B will have even more problems. An aircraft ADS-B system needs position data to operate. If you can't transmit your position information, air traffic controllers need to rely on old fashioned radar to determine position. All of this adds up to a safety of flight problem, which means grounding the aircraft.
Digging through canceled flight lists, one can glean which aircraft are having issues. From the early reports, it seems like Bombardier CRJ 700 and 900 have problems. Folks on Airliners.net are speculating that any aircraft with Rockwell Collins flight management systems are having problems.
This is not a small issue, there are hundreds or thousands of canceled flights. The FAA set up a teleconference to access the issue. Since then, the FAA has issued a blanket waiver to all affected flights. They can fly, but only up to 28,000 feet.
This is a developing story, and we'll be keeping an eye on it. Seeing how the industry handles major problems is always educational, and there will be much to learn in the coming days.
CosmicRedPilladdict on Twitter: "To reassure parents about MMR vaccine safety, the Macedonian health chief pretended to vaccinate his niece, but eagle eyed observers noticed the safety cap was still on the vaccine, he was forced to admit he faked it as a
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Jessica Biel Comes Out as Anti-Vaxx Activist, Joins Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Lobby Against CA Vaccination Bill
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 09:00
Tuesday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental activist whose recent work has focused increasingly on baseless allegations that vaccines are unsafe and can injure a statistically minuscule population of ''medically fragile'' children, appeared at the California State Assembly beside an unlikely scene partner: actress Jessica Biel. In a series of Instagram posts, first reported in Jezebel by Anna Merlan, the two posed with activists, legislators, and miscellaneous bureaucratic architecture. In the caption, Kennedy called Biel ''courageous.''
The duo had come to lobby against SB 276, a California state bill that would limit medical exemptions from vaccinations without approval from a state public health officer. The bill has been decried by anti-vaxx advocates like Kennedy and vaguely critiqued by current Governor Gavin Newsom, over official estimations that it would reduce medical exemptions by nearly 40 percent.
Although reports circulated in 2015 that Biel and her husband, Justin Timberlake, did not plan to vaccinate their kids (''She feels that vaccination could cause complications,'' a source told In Touch Weekly), Biel has never publicly commented on the vaccination debate. But on a phone call with The Daily Beast, Kennedy confirmed that the actress, whose past controversial opinions include insisting it is a ''struggle'' to get roles because she is too sexy, was ''upset about this issue because of its particular cruelty.''
Kennedy, who takes issue with the label ''anti-vaxx'''--which he deems ''pharmaceutical propaganda'' and ''a lie'''--declined to align Biel with the controversial movement. ''I would say that she was for safe vaccines and for medical freedom,'' Kennedy said, before echoing an anti-vaxx rallying cry: ''My body, my choice.''
Kennedy, notably, has gotten into trouble for co-opting the language of other human rights struggles in the past, taking heat in 2015 for using the word ''holocaust'' to describe the number of children with autism in the United States, a so-called ''epidemic'' which he attributed to vaccinations.
Biel and Kennedy's primary concern with the bill stems from what they deem bureaucratic ''red tape,'' which they believe would force kids to receive vaccinations.
''The biggest problem with the bill, which is something I think Jessica is concerned with,'' Kennedy said, ''is that a doctor who has made a determination'--if he has found children in this state whose doctors have determined that they're too fragile to receive vaccinations'--this bill would overrule the doctors and force them to be vaccinated anyways.''
''She was a very effective advocate,'' Kennedy said of Biel. ''She was very strong and very knowledgeable. Extremely well-informed. An extremely effective advocate. She knows what she's talking about'... She's upset about this issue because of its particular cruelty. She has friends who have been vaccine-injured who would be forced to leave the state.''
But vaccination advocates say that the bill will have minimal impact on those with valid reasons for exemption, citing medical authorities like the bill's prominent co-sponsors: the California Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, California.
''The children who need medical exemptions will not have a problem getting them if SB 276 becomes law,'' said Leah Russin, executive director of Vaccinate California, another co-sponsor of the bill. ''People who are on immuno-suppressant drugs will not have a problem getting a medical exemption'--and in fact, the people who truly need medical exemptions desperately need everyone else to be vaccinated. That's why they support this bill. Medical advice should be coming from medical professionals.''
When asked about the recent outbreaks of measles, which brought on the largest number of recorded cases in the United States since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000, Kennedy insisted that vaccine exemptions were not responsible. ''The measles epidemic has almost nothing to do with unvaccinated children,'' he said. ''Particularly the medically-fragile children have nothing to do with it.''
Kennedy declined to comment on how the pair spent their day at the capitol or who they spent it with, noting only that they had met with some 15 legislators, some of whom supported the bill and some who did not. In his Instagram post, however, Kennedy and Biel appeared alongside Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, who has come out against the bill.
''I have the utmost respect for Dr. Pan [the Senator who introduced the bill] and believe his heart to be in the right place,'' Burke wrote in a statement to The Daily Beast. ''However I feel this bill is a direct violation of the relationship between an individual child, the family and their doctor.
Representatives for Biel and Timberlake did not respond to requests for comment.
''A Hollywood celebrity and the head of an environmental organization should not have credibility on an issue about how to regulate the medical profession, when an overwhelming number of medical professionals support this bill,'' Russin said. ''It's the Jenny McCarthy show all over again.''
Green New Deal
Glacier National Park Quietly Removes Its "Gone By 2020" Signs | Zero Hedge
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 12:02
Via Alt-Market.com,
This article was written by Roger I. Roots and originally published at RogerRoots.com
May 30, 2019. St. Mary, Montana.
Officials at Glacier National Park (GNP) have begun quietly removing and altering signs and government literature which told visitors that the Park's glaciers were all expected to disappear by either 2020 or 2030.
In recent years the National Park Service prominently featured brochures, signs and films which boldly proclaimed that all glaciers at GNP were melting away rapidly. But now officials at GNP seem to be scrambling to hide or replace their previous hysterical claims while avoiding any notice to the public that the claims were inaccurate. Teams from Lysander Spooner University visiting the Park each September have noted that GNP's most famous glaciers such as the Grinnell Glacier and the Jackson Glacier appear to have been growing - not shrinking - since about 2010. (The Jackson Glacier'--easily seen from the Going-To-The-Sun Highway'--may have grown as much as 25% or more over the past decade.)
The centerpiece of the visitor center at St. Mary near the east boundary is a large three-dimensional diorama showing lights going out as the glaciers disappear. Visitors press a button to see the diorama lit up like a Christmas tree in 1850, then showing fewer and fewer lights until the diorama goes completely dark. As recently as September 2018 the diorama displayed a sign saying GNP's glaciers were expected to disappear completely by 2020.
Video of the diorama two years ago.
But at some point during this past winter (as the visitor center was closed to the public), workers replaced the diorama's 'gone by 2020' engraving with a new sign indicating the glaciers will disappear in ''future generations.''
Video of the diorama in May 2019.
Almost everywhere, the Park's specific claims of impending glacier disappearance have been replaced with more nuanced messaging indicating that everyone agrees that the glaciers are melting. Some signs indicate that glacial melt is ''accelerating.''
A common trick used by the National Park Service at GNP is to display old black-and-white photos of glaciers from bygone years (say, ''1922'') next to photos of the same glaciers taken in more recent years showing the glaciers much diminished (say, ''2006''). Anyone familiar with glaciers in the northern Rockies knows that glaciers tend to grow for nine months each winter and melt for three months each summer. Thus, such photo displays without precise calendar dates may be highly deceptive.
Last year the Park Service quietly removed its two large steel trash cans at the Many Glacier Hotel which depicted ''before and after'' engravings of the Grinnell Glacier in 1910 and 2009. The steel carvings indicated that the Glacier had shrunk significantly between the two dates. But a viral video published on Wattsupwiththat.com showed that the Grinnell Glacier appears to be slightly larger than in 2009.
The 'gone by 2020' claims were repeated in the New York Times, National Geographic, and other international news sources. But no mainstream news outlet has done any meaningful reporting regarding the apparent stabilization and recovery of the glaciers in GNP over the past decade. Even local Montana news sources such as The Missoulian, Billings Gazette and Bozeman Daily Chronicle have remained utterly silent regarding this story.
(Note that since September 2015 the author has offered to bet anyone $5,000 that GNP's glaciers will still exist in 2030, in contradiction to the reported scientific consensus. To this day no one has taken me up on my offer. ''R.R.)
* * *
I live very close to Glacier National Park, and while the media has been saying for years that the glaciers are "disappearing", there has been no significant change in the park's glaciers in the time I have resided here. The news above only reinforces the reality that if the climate is "changing", it is only getting colder, NOT warmer....
- Brandon Smith, Founder of Alt-Market.com
Out There
Long-lost moon spacecraft may have been found floating in space | Newshub
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 10:19
An Apollo-era craft thought lost in the depths of interplanetary space may have been found.
And now astronomers want Elon Musk to figure out a way to bring it home.
NASA's Apollo 10 mission reached the moon in May 1969. It was a dress rehearsal for Apollo 11, which two months later saw the first humans ever set foot on the Earth's largest natural satellite.
Apollo 10's lunar lander, nicknamed Snoopy, got within 15km of the moon's surface before returning to the command module. Snoopy was then jettisoned into space, reducing the overall weight of the Apollo craft so it could make it back to Earth with limited fuel.
Considering the sheer scale of space, and the tiny size of the lander - 6.7m tall and 9.4m across - Snoopy was never expected to be found. But now Nick Howes, an astronomer at the UK's Royal Astronomical Society, is "98 percent sure" he's found it.
Howes began looking in 2011, sifting through radar data. He initially calculated the odds of success at 235 million to one, he told The Sunday Times.
"Until someone gets really close to it and gets a detailed radar profile, we can not be sure... I would love to get Elon Musk and his wonderful spacecraft up and grab it and bring it down," Howes said at a recent science festival, Sky News reported.
Asteroid at risk of hitting Earth in September, astronomers warnThe lunar landers - which cost US$1 billion in today's money - were either crashed into or left on the moon, or burned up in the Earth's atmosphere.
"It's the only one that's up there that has flown that is left. The Apollo programme was the greatest technical achievement in human history."
But he himself doesn't have the money.
"My day job now takes up vast amounts of my time and it's something I love... I'm maxxed out," he tweeted, after someone suggested starting a crowdfunding effort on Kickstarter.
"Frankly if someone said 'here's $50 million to develop the mission to prove it's Snoopy' I'd genuinely reply, "Here's the details for a very worthy charity... please give it to them.'"
Gravitational anomaly discovered weighing down surface of moon | Science & Tech News | Sky News
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 10:50
A large gravitational anomaly has been discovered beneath the surface of the moon by researchers at Baylor University in Texas.
The anomaly was discovered when the scientists measured subtle changes in the strength of gravity around the moon, analysing data collected from NASA missions.
Researchers suspect it may be caused by a mass of metal which originated from deep space being buried beneath the moon's surface and weighing it down.
Image: The dashed circle shows the location of the mass anomaly under the basin in blue. Pic: NASA/UoA"Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground," said the study's lead author Dr Peter James.
"That's roughly how much unexpected mass we detected," Dr James said, explaining the research published in Geophysical Research Letters.
The metal, if that is what is causing the extra mass, is located on the moon's South Pole-Aitken basin, an enormous crater at the bottom of the planet.
The crater - which is where the Chinese lunar explorer Chang'e 4 landed in January - is 1,600 miles (2,000km) wide, 8.1 miles (13km) deep and is believed to be the largest crater in our solar system.
But despite its enormity, the crater cannot been seen from Earth because it is located on the far side of the moon.
"When we combined [the gravitational data] with lunar topography data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we discovered the unexpectedly large amount of mass hundreds of miles underneath the South Pole-Aitken basin," Dr James said.
"One of the explanations of this extra mass is that the metal from the asteroid that formed this crater is still embedded in the moon's mantle."
China landed a lunar explorer in the basin in JanuaryThe dense mass - "whatever it is, wherever it came from" - is so heavy it is actually weighing the basin floor downward by more than half a mile, according to Dr James.
The team ran complicated computer simulations of large asteroid impacts which suggested that - under the right conditions - an asteroid which had an iron-nickel core could have dispersed into the moon's upper mantle during an impact.
"We did the math and showed that a sufficiently dispersed core of the asteroid that made the impact could remain suspended in the moon's mantle until the present day, rather than sinking to the moon's core," Dr James said.
But the team has considered other hypotheses too, including a concentration of dense metals which pooled when the molten moon began to solidify billions of years ago.
The South Pole-Aitken basin was created around four billion years ago according to Dr James.
It is the largest preserved crater in the solar system. Other larger impacts may have taken place, including on Earth, there is no lasting trace of them.
Dr James called the moon's basin "one of the best natural laboratories for studying catastrophic impact events, an ancient process that shaped all of the rocky planets and moons we see today".
Astronomers '98% certain' they've found 'Snoopy' module from Apollo 10 | Metro News
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 15:10
Astronomers believe they have found the famous lunar module from the Apollo 10 mission five decades after it was released into space by the crew.
The module, measuring just four metres wide, was nicknamed Snoopy and was believed to have been lost forever in 900 million kilometres of space after it was jettisoned.
Snoopy, named after the lovable cartoon dog, was used as a practice run for the Apollo 11 lunar landing, to take place two months after Apollo 10 in July 1969.
Two of the three astronauts transferred into it, to reach an altitude of 50,000ft above the Moon's surface. They then returned to the command module. After demonstrating the docking manoeuvre, the mission was over and Snoopy was shot off into space.
Nick Howes, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, said he is certain it has been found and all they need is someone to go and retrieve it. Mr Howes said he began the search for the module in 2011 and calculated the odds of finding it were 235 million to one. He and a team of astronomers analysed terabytes of radar data and in 2018 found what they believe is Snoopy.
MORE: People born today will witness the first off-planet permanent colony
'We are 98% convinced we have found it. Until someone goes out and gets it, we can't be 100% sure. Until someone gets really close to it and gets a detailed radar profile, we can't be sure,'' Mr Howes said.
'We've got to wait quite a few years for it to come back but once it does come back the idea is that we are going to get a really detailed picture of it. It would be a really fantastic achievement for science. People say 'what's the point?' From a space archaeology point of view, it's interesting.
'It's the only one that's up there that has flown that is left. The Apollo programme was the greatest technical achievement in human history. Anyone of a certain age will know exactly what they were doing on July 20 1969. It's the Kennedy moment. As a piece of history, a moment in history, this is a unique artefact.'
Moon mystery as deep metal structure bigger than Denmark found buried below lunar surface
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 22:27
AN enormous metal structure buried deep beneath the surface of the Moon has been discovered by scientists.
The mystery blob is larger than Denmark and stretches 180 miles below the Moon's icy south pole.
A huge lump of metal has been found deep under the Moon's surface. Pictured inset is false-colour image of the Moon's south pole showing the newly found metal lump within the dotted line. The warmer colours show high topography and the bluer colours indicate low topographyExperts reckon it's shrapnel left behind by a huge collision with an asteroid around 4billion years ago.
The team from Baylor University in Texas, USA, found the metal lump by combining data from two Nasa satellites.
They say it covers roughly 20,000 square miles, making it larger than Denmark (17,000 square miles).
"Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground," said lead scientist Dr Peter James.
Nasa has picked out the Moon's lumpy south pole (pictured) as a potential spot for future lunar bases Credit: Nasa"That's roughly how much unexpected mass we detected."
Experts combined readings from Nasa's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions.
They looked at the largest, oldest, and deepest crater on the Moon: The South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin.
Spanning 1,240 miles across the Moon's far side, the basin is unusually lumpy, and scientists have long believed it was created by an explosive asteroid impact.
Readings show the rocky world's gravitational pull rises around the SPA basin, suggesting something extremely dense lays beneath.
The team reckons a huge lump of metal is most likely responsible, left behind by the asteroid that created the crater.
Scientists think the metal was left behind by an asteroid impact (stock image) Credit: Photographers Choice - GettySimulations suggest the space rock had a hot core of molten iron and nickel that was injected into the moon during impact.
"When we combined that with lunar topography data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we discovered the unexpectedly large amount of mass hundreds of miles underneath the South Pole-Aitken basin," Dr James said.
"One of the explanations of this extra mass is that the metal from the asteroid that formed this crater is still embedded in the Moon's mantle."
Another possibility is that the mass might be a concentration of dense chemicals linked to the formation of the Moon, in which its magma ocean solidified into rocks.
The Moon '' our closest neighbour explained
Here's what you need to know...
The Moon is a natural satellite '' a space-faring body that orbits a planetIt's Earth's only natural satellite, and is the fifth biggest in the Solar SystemThe Moon measures 2,158 miles across, roughly 0.27 times the diameter of EarthTemperatures on the Moon range from minus 173 degrees Celcius to 260 degrees CelciusExperts assumed the Moon was another planet, until Nicolaus Copernicus outlined his theory about our Solar System in 1543It was eventually assigned to a "class" after Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610The Moon is believed to have formed around 4.51billion years agoThe strength of its gravitational field is about a sixth of Earth's gravityEarth and the Moon have "synchronous rotation", which means we always see the same side of the Moon '' hence the phrase "dark side of the Moon"The Moon's surface is actually dark, but appears bright in the sky due to its reflective groundDuring a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun almost completely. Both objects appear a similar size in the sky because the Sun is both 400 times larger and fartherThe first spacecraft to reach the Moon was in 1959, as part of the Soviet Union's Lunar programThe first manned orbital mission was Nasa's Apollo 8 in 1968And the first manned lunar landing was in 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 missionThe huge mass'--"whatever it is, wherever it came from"'--is weighing the basin floor downward by more than half a mile, Dr James added.
It could prove lucrative if humans ever land at the Moon's South Pole.
Nasa has previously picked out the spot as a potential site for a lunar base, as lots of water ice is stored there.
The agency says mining the Moon for resources will be key to any humans living there long term.
PLAN-IT Jupiter is so bright you can see it from the UK with the naked eye TONIGHT
ROLLING IN THE DEEP 'Britain's Atlantis' found off Norfolk coast '' submerged 7,000 yrs ago
SPACE SHIPS Nasa's ocean 'spacecraft graveyard' is at farthest point from land on Earth
A-ROCK-ALYPSE Meteor shower that caused 'BIGGEST' modern meteor crash to pass Earth again
ROCKY HORROR Huge asteroid could hit Earth THIS YEAR and 'flatten area bigger than London'
In other news, a recent study revealed the Moon may be shrinking due to drastic changes to its surface.
Apollo 11 space hero Buzz Aldrin recently called for a "great migration of humans to Mars".
Nasa already has a presence on Mars in the form of robots: check out these images of a Martian sunrise and sunset from the InSight lander.
What do you think the lump is? Let us know in the comments!
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at tips@the-sun.co.uk or call 0207 782 4368 . We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.
CNN Host Don Lemon Doubts His Ability To Stay On Air Through 2020 Election '' Deadline
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 10:23
Don Lemon, who has been on CNN since 2006, says the ''toxicity'' of social media and the balkanized, vocal state of the nation in the Trump era make him uncertain whether he will remain on the air doing his current show through the 2020 election.
''I was doing a shoot in the park the other day and someone shouted at me, 'I'm sick of watching you. We built this country. I can't wait for CNN to fire your black a'', you f'---t,''' he recalled Thursday during a keynote session at the FT Future of News Summit. ''So, all of those sorts of people call you on the phone and say those things, or they write you. I don't go on social media any more, it's so toxic.''
Moderator Matthew Garrahan, news editor of the Financial Times, relayed an audience question posted online, wondering whether Lemon would stay on the air despite it all. ''I don't know,'' he said. ''I absolutely love what I do. '... But I wonder how long I want to do this particular job in the way that I do it.'' He later clarified, ''It doesn't mean I don't have a commitment to journalism, it just means I may want to do it a different way.''
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While the 20-minute session touched on a few other topics, Lemon's misgivings about the current era in cable news and popular political culture proved a dominant theme.
Lemon said the lack of ''personal safety'' has ''taken a toll.'' At 53, the host of a two-hour nightly show on CNN, said he has become concerned about changes in his day-to-day reactions. Not only sparring with guests and pushing back on the Trump administration, but being what Garrahan described as a ''unicorn'' '-- an openly gay, black host in primetime has made him an unusually big target.
''I'm such a gregarious person,'' he said. ''When people would come up to me, I would give them a hug. I don't do that anymore because you don't know what someone's motives are. Somebody could accuse me of making them uncomfortable or being inappropriate with them or touching them inappropriately. When someone asks me for a selfie, I say, 'Do you mind if I put my arm around you?' I am very careful about that. And I shouldn't be. But that's where we are.''
He added, ''Everything catches up with you. I don't know if I can deal with this level of toxicity for so long.''
Lemon did show many flashes of humor during the conversation. He recalled getting invited to be a celebrity cooking event hosted by Bobby Flay. He remembered thinking, ''My gosh, this is so refreshing I didn't have to talk about the president. I didn't have to talk politics. I just had to judge someone's hamburger.''
AOC may challenge Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand in upcoming Senate races: report | Fox News
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 15:24
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, could be facing a major challenger in their next Senate races -- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY.
Top Democrats suspect that the freshman congresswoman will primary either Schumer in 2022 or Gillibrand in 2024, according to a report from Axios, Gillibrand, who is currently running for president, just won reelection during the 2018 midterms after vowing she would serve her full six-year term.
If AOC runs against the two party powerhouses -- and wins -- it wouldn't be the first time she toppled a big-name Democrat after she defeated leading lawmaker Joe Crowley, who was the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus a member of Congress for nearly 20 years, during the New York primaries in 2018.
Since then, Ocasio-Cortez has become a household name and is leading the effort in promoting the Green New Deal in hopes of tackling climate change.
With massive support among progressives, the New York representative is seen as a kingmaker during the 2020 election and is weighing her options on who to back in the presidential race.
Senators Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, have so far received the highest praise from the self-described Democratic Socialist.
She has repeatedly blasted former Vice President Joe Biden, most recently for his previous support for the Hyde Amendment, which outlaws federal funding for abortions.
"If your pride is being a moderate centrist candidate, say that," Ocasio-Cortez said last week. "Say, 'I'm proud to be a centrist, I'm proud to be funded by Wall Street. I'm proud to not push as hard as I can on women's rights.' Say it, own it, be it, but don't come out here and say you're a progressive candidate, but at the same time not support repealing something as basic as the Hyde Amendment."
Profile: Tulsi Gabbard and Her 2020 Presidential Campaign
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 22:52
Which may help explain why she's out of place in today's Democratic Party. And her long-shot 2020 candidacy. Photo: Jeff Brown
It was 1970-something, and Sina was not yet teaching at the University of Hawaii '-- a Samoan poet who had not yet become the first Samoan full professor in the States, and who had not yet written
of our oceans
the watery skin
of earth
pulled back to expose
a webbing of coral
rough & prickly
She was back in Samoa at a traditional Sunday feast with her mother, her brother Mike, her American sister-in-law, Carol, and three little boys so strikingly beautiful one would model professionally as a teen. They hadn't yet sat down to eat, Sina remembers, when Mike announced that his wife and boys would not be able to eat most of what his mother had cooked, as they were now vegetarian. Also, everyone needed to stop calling the children by their birth names. Their new names were Bhakti, Jai, and Naryana. They were now devotees of a man named Chris Butler, whom they called Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa.
When Sina next visited Mike and Carol's house, there was nothing on the walls but pictures of the immediate family and portraits of Chris Butler, a 30-something, tan, sandy-haired Caucasian, an aging beach boy in leis and white linen. Altars to him had sprung up in every room. The children's lives were filed with ecstatic chanting, prayer, and beach gatherings exclusive to Butler devotees. Sina, who studied Eastern religions and spirituality and taught from the Bhagavad Gita, tried to be open-minded about the fact that they were, in her words, ''bowing and prostrating to this white surfer guy '-- it was bizarre.'' It was her Buddhist training to which she appealed in order to remain calm about her nephews attending Butler-focused schools and associating only with children whose parents were in the group, members of what she would come to see as the ''alt-right of the Hare Krishna movement.'' She said little about it outside the family until 2019, when one of her nieces, the most retiring and introverted of all the siblings, decided to run for president.
It is strange but true that I first meet Tulsi Gabbard in a town run by an entirely different group of Caucasians taken by the ritualistic trappings of India. Fairfield, Iowa's most politically liberal enclave, is centered on a university devoted to the teachings of an Indian guru named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. We're at the convention center in February, a stone's throw from a pair of snow-covered golden domes where the town attempts to levitate in the service of world peace. ''Aloha!'' Tulsi says, ascending to the dais in her signature red blazer. A thick gray stripe runs through her voluminous black hair. ''Namaste!'' a few people shout back.
''We share a deep love,'' Tulsi says to a standing-room-only crowd of 200. She talks about love a lot in a way that might have provoked eye rolls pre-Trump but now just sounds appealingly weird. A Hindu veteran and millennial congresswoman of Samoan descent hailing from Hawaii, she brings together disparate constituencies: most noticeably, Bernie Sanders fans who love that she resigned from the Democratic National Committee to endorse him in 2016, but also libertarians who appreciate her noninterventionism, Indian-Americans taken by her professed Hinduism, veterans attracted to her credibility on issues of war and peace, and racists who interpret various statements she has made to be promising indications of Islamophobia. That she is polling at one percent, sandwiched between Andrew Yang and Amy Klobuchar, suggests that bringing together these constituencies is not nearly enough, but the intensity of emotion she provokes on all sides sets her apart. When FiveThirtyEight asked 60 Democratic Party activists whom they didn't want to win, Tulsi Gabbard came in first out of 17 candidates, a poll she used to rile up her own intensely motivated supporters, who tend to identify, proudly, as anti-Establishment outsiders. In May, Joe Rogan, whose podcast is listened to millions of times each month by MMA fans, stoner bros, and self-styled freethinkers, chose his candidate. ''Tulsi Gabbard's my girl,'' he said. ''I'm voting for her. I decided. I like her. I met her in person. Fuck it.''
On the campaign trail, Gabbard talks frequently about the actual, material costs of forever war '-- trillions of dollars wasted, lives pointlessly lost '-- which is odd, because this is a campaign for votes and foreign-policy speeches are not what voters want. Though we are 18 years deep in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan and currently engaged in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, the crowd in Fairfield is waiting for her to finish yammering about war and get to lines about Medicare for All and climate change, which she does, eventually, at which point they stop politely nodding and rise from their chairs to applaud.
Many have called Tulsi cold and lacking in charisma and ''not particularly spontaneous.'' She is not cold. She can be spontaneous in the right setting, exude charisma if engaged on the right subject. What she is '-- take it from someone with the same emotional profile '-- is remote. In interview after interview, she gives the impression of having anti-Establishment convictions just beyond the reach of articulation, as if she had carried instructions into battle and lost them. Her speeches feel not so much overly prepared as capably delivered from a separate location through her. She operates on the slightest delay, taking in information, scanning it, and delivering a slow response that registers only barely on her face.
A young Tulsi, second from left, with her family in Hawaii in 1984. Photo: COURTESY OF THE TULSI GABBARD CAMPAIGN
Tulsi is a self-described introvert, an extremely quiet and obedient child grown into a woman whose job entails constant exhausting engagement. Her sister '-- Vrindavan to strangers, Davan to the campaign, and Davs to Tulsi '-- spoke for her back when they were kids, and she continues to do much of the talking for her today. When they were at a store as girls, it was Vrindavan who would interact with the cashier; Tulsi was too nervous. If the phone rang, Tulsi would wait for her sister to answer. If Vrindavan disobeyed their parents, Tulsi would be upset. ''Please do your chores or our mother will have to do all of them!'' Vrindavan recalls being scolded. ''Our poor mother!''
Davan is a federal marshal currently on leave, used to keeping things running, and after the event, she's behind the wheel of the SUV on the way to Iowa City. She drives carefully '-- like ''an effing grandma,'' she says, to which Tulsi, in the back holding hands with her husband, Abraham Williams, says, ''Watch your language. PG-rated, please.'' In the car is the entire traveling staff, which is to say the candidate, her sister, and her husband, an aspiring cinematographer who, at 30, is eight years her junior and consistently two feet away from her with a camera pointed at her face. Abraham has known Tulsi since childhood, when they both appeared at gatherings presided over by Chris Butler. He proposed five years ago on a surfboard. Also accompanying her to Iowa is a quiet, mustachioed campaign worker named Sunil Khemaney; he gives me his card, which is branded with the campaign's logo, but where a job title would typically go is empty white space. He runs a business owned by Chris Butler's wife, and former members of the sect say he is Butler's right-hand man.
I'm in the front with Davan, and it is she who explains to me how hard it is for Tulsi to compete in the most meaningful popularity contest on earth as someone who doesn't really like talking to people. ''Even when she was running for statehouse,'' says Vrindavan, ''she had to go door to door, and that's like '... Even if you're not an introvert? That's like not fun. You're bothering people, and what are they gonna say when they open the door or whatever. As a younger sister, it's a very big inspiration, knowing how much courage and selflessness it took. It's not about what you want to do. There could not be a better role model or example for someone who may have grown up a little more '... self-centered,'' she says, laughing.
Tulsi sits quietly behind us. A long moment passes. ''The anxiety she is talking about, I wouldn't say it got easier,'' she says. ''There was a turning point when I first ran for Congress, where I had a realization that this anxiety was coming from a selfish place and from thinking about, you know, my own fears and how are people going to respond to me '-- I don't want to bother people. That felt like it was coming from an inward-looking place, a selfish place, rather than my seeing them as beautiful opportunities to share my aloha. Once I realized that, that changed everything completely.''
In the house, to which she was elected in 2012, Tulsi Gabbard does not behave like a representative who wants to remain in Congress; she appears to be building a political platform for another office. Her legislative record amounts to one anodyne bipartisan bill on veterans' affairs, but she is constantly introducing ''messaging bills'' '-- non-committee-specific, hopeless pieces of legislation, often to do with the environment, such as one bill that would eliminate dependence on fossil fuels by 2035, but also one to end the federal marijuana prohibition, one requiring the president to ask Congress before going to war, a Sheldon Adelson''backed one to end internet gambling, and a resolution supporting Trump's efforts in diplomacy with North Korea. It's not uncommon to introduce symbolic bills meant to signal something to constituents; it's just very hard to imagine the anti-gambling, pro-marijuana, pro-Trumpian-diplomacy constituent to which Tulsi appears to be signaling.
When Tulsi announced her intention to run for president in January, the response among journalists and pundits was essentially don't. ''Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Your Friend,'' read a headline in the socialist publication Jacobin, a statement followed by a laundry list of unrelated reasons not to like her, despite her being a reliable progressive endorsed by Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, and the AFL-CIO and particularly beloved by Jacobin fave Bernie Sanders. The Nation has denounced her for ''nationalism cloaked in anti-interventionism,'' and when I mention her name to an expert paid by a prominent think tank to think publicly about foreign affairs, she sends a two-line email asserting that Tulsi is unqualified to lead and refuses to elaborate. When Joe Rogan mentioned the name to the New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, she looked alarmed and laughed.
''Monstrous ideas,'' she said.
''Well, when she was 22, she '-- ''
''No! She's an Assad toady.''
''What does that mean?'' asked Rogan. ''What's a toady?''
''I think I'm using that word correctly,'' Weiss said. ''I think it's like, T-O-A-D-I-E?''
''What does that mean?''
''I think it means,'' said Weiss, scratching her head under her headphones, ''what I think it means.''
''That's known about her,'' said Weiss, when they had settled on a definition of toady. ''I don't remember the details.''
Here are the details: Bashar al-Assad is a depraved dictator best known for his willingness to murder his own people, including many children, with chemical weapons. Tulsi Gabbard, a veteran of the Iraq War, has positioned herself as a noninterventionist liberal, a ''peace candidate'' who believes in diplomacy with unseemly characters such as Assad. She has taken a similarly conciliatory approach to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India's Hindu-nationalist strongman, who is complicit in widespread violence against Muslims. She has visited Modi and given him a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, accepted a wedding gift from him, and opposed a House resolution ''reaffirming the need to protect the rights and freedoms of religious minorities'' that was a veiled jab at him.
The most obvious obstacle between any noninterventionist candidate and mainstream success is D.C.'s foreign-policy Establishment '-- the think-tankers and politicians and media personalities and intelligence professionals and defense-company contractors and, very often, intelligence professionals turned defense-company contractors who determine the bounds of acceptable thinking on war and peace. In parts of D.C., this Establishment is called ''the Blob,'' and to stray beyond its edges is to risk being deemed ''unserious,'' which as a woman candidate one must be very careful not to be. The Blob may in 2019 acknowledge that past American wars of regime change for which it enthusiastically advocated have been disastrous, but it somehow maintains faith in the tantalizing possibilities presented by new ones. The Blob loves to ''stand for'' things, especially ''leadership'' and ''democracy.'' The Blob loves to assign moral blame, loves signaling virtue while failing to follow up on civilian deaths, and definitely needs you to be clear on ''who the enemy is'' '-- a kind of obsessive deontological approach in which naming things is more important than cataloguing the effects of any particular policy.
The cult of war, however, cannot entirely explain the opposition to a candidate who constantly picks low-stakes, politically inopportune fights within her own party. During Barack Obama's tenure, Tulsi repeatedly criticized him for failing to use the words Islamic extremism and described her concern about a ''radical Islamic extremist agenda,'' a move that earned her no love among members of her party, which had once considered her its future. She voted, with Republicans, to make it virtually impossible for Syrian refugees to come into the country. She has been strangely absent for votes relating to Russia and NATO and has racked up unwelcome support from Steve Bannon, Richard Spencer, and David Duke. Her divergence from party orthodoxy on many issues is striking, against her self-interest, and lacking in any apparent narrative line. There is no cohesive ideology that explains the idiosyncratic political positioning, no single point of reference from which it all makes sense, and so the relevant question regarding Tulsi Gabbard is reducible to: What is she doing?
Over a series of months of reporting, I heard any number of hypotheses on this question. There was, for instance, the idea that she is so desperately attention-seeking that she seeks out bad press. There was the idea that she simply holds, with extreme tenacity, a number of unrelated, deeply unpopular beliefs in tension with any ambition she might have to be president, and there was the idea that she seeks favor with Modi in order to gain mainstream-Hindu legitimacy for Chris Butler's otherwise obscure religious sect. There was the theory that she is a toady of Assad, though often she was said to be under the control of Modi, or Putin, and I began to wonder, when we try to expose her motives, whose subjectivity we are really exploring.
When Tulsi talks about her girlhood, it is with a profound vagueness, a visible discomfort. In Iowa, there is awkward silence when I ask about her three brothers (''They're kind of separate,'' her sister eventually says) and silence when I ask about being homeschooled (''The schools in Hawaii weren't very good,'' Davan offers). Tulsi calls herself Hindu, the first Hindu member of Congress, in fact, though the group in which she appears to have grown up does not identify as Hindu. She says she was raised by ''an eccentric Catholic father.''
Chris Butler in the 1970s. Photo: Youtube
In 1970, the Honolulu Advertiser published a piece called ''One Man Rules Haiku Krishnaites,'' with the subhead ''Absolute power of devotees.'' In the photo beside the piece, Butler is seated shirtless and smoking, hair skimming his shoulders and a sarong around his waist, staring alluringly into the distance, a mischievous smile on his face. It is the expression of less a guru than a playboy, and this is how Advertiser reporter Janice Wolf depicts him, a handsome dictator with the ability to hypnotize the two dozen 18-to-22-year-olds who live with him in his Quonset hut. One of the girls, an 18-year-old who also happened to have the Sanskrit name Tulsi, says he arranged her marriage to another member of the group. She and another girl, who say they would kill for him, describe his teachings. Among them: ''Flowers scream when they're picked. So do trees when they're trimmed.'' (''Tulsi and Boni were sitting on the lawn chewing blades of grass when they said this,'' notes Wolf.)
Butler taught vegetarianism, sexual conservatism, mind-body dualism, and disinterest in the material world. He taught a virulent homophobia, skepticism of science, and the dangers of public schools. He had been associated with Hare Krishna, and in fact claimed to have been given his Sanskrit name, Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, by the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, but by the time he encountered the Gabbards, he'd started his own group. His teachings revolved around worship of Krishna but differed from those of Hare Krishna, in that he instructed his followers to learn from only a single guru '-- himself '-- and did not require them to shave their heads or wear robes. The lack of formal dress allowed the group an anonymity he encouraged. He forbade them from visiting India, which is not typical of Hare Krishna, and, also against Hare Krishna practice, married. His wife was one of his followers, Wai Lana, a popular yoga instructor who later had a long-running instructional yoga series on public television. (Abraham, Tulsi's husband, has helped with filming Wai Lana's videos; his mother also works for her.) Whenever Butler traveled, he'd have the homes he stayed in lined with tinfoil, to protect against electromagnetic radiation.
The children of those teenagers in the Quonset hut were born into the sect, as Tulsi was. Another, Greg Martin, wasn't allowed to play with neighborhood children as a boy, so he looked forward to Sundays, when he'd spend all day on the beach in Kailua with all the families who worshipped as his did; when they'd wait for hours in the sun for Butler to arrive, and Tulsi's father, Mike, would strum his guitar while leading a hundred devotees in hours of joyful chanting. ''You just knew Mike was a dick,'' says Greg. ''He carried himself with dickishness.''
It was the 1980s. Greg says he and Tulsi attended these gatherings together, and years later, when Abraham was born, he'd see him too. (Tulsi says that she did not attend gatherings like these.) Waiting four or five or six hours for Siddhaswarupananda's entrance built a kind of thrilling pressure, and Greg remembers Sundays as ''incredibly theatrical.'' Devotees with radios would place themselves at various high points along the beach, operating as a security force. ''You're waiting hours and hours for this dude to show up, and then when he does, people go absolutely wild '-- it's all your family and all your friends singing and dancing and chanting, you're so excited,'' says Greg. The guru would then address the crowd. He was good with the pregnant pause. He had the kind of easy confidence you'd expect from Krishna's representative on Earth. He was also vulgar and vindictive. ''He would start excoriating people for fucking up. Sound systems not working, cups of water not being cleaned, people dressed funny, driving poorly. He would publicly mock people. And when he would do that '-- that's a form of Krishna's mercy.'' Everyone I spoke to who was raised in the group described, as children, hearing Butler call men ''faggots'' and women ''cunts.'' One time in Malibu, Greg recalls, Butler had passed a man on the beach in a thong on his way to the gathering; Butler then described in graphic detail what that man allegedly wanted his ''boyfriend'' to do to him. ''That's vivid as a kid,'' says Greg, whose name is not really Greg; he does not want to be cut off from his family.
Back in the '70s, Butler went by the name ''Sai Young,'' a name he possibly picked because he was a gifted baseball player who had hoped to go pro. In their boyhood, according to his estranged brother Kurt, Chris was the handsome, popular one. Their father, a family physician named Willis Butler, took them, their mother, and their siblings to protest Vietnam well before it was socially acceptable to do so. Kurt remembers the whole family standing along a sidewalk on the edge of the University of Hawaii campus, holding signs that read stop the war and stop the bombing. From their cars, people threw garbage at the family. They yelled things: ''Losers,'' ''Love it or leave it,'' ''Fucking commies.''
Their father was, in fact, a communist. The Butler patriarch loved the Soviet Union, thought North Korea a workers' paradise. When Kurt brought home a geography book from school that mentioned political repression in the USSR, his father called it ''lying propaganda.'' When, as an adolescent, Chris pointed out that the Viet Cong had committed atrocities, his father wouldn't hear it. Chris sought refuge in psychedelics, Kurt wrote in an email to me, then in meditation. He began writing poetry. He began giving meditation classes. ''The classes,'' says Kurt, ''gradually evolved into a full-fledged cult.''
Butler's group, called Science of Identity, has had political ambitions at least since 1976, when its members formed a political party called Independents for Godly Government and ran a number of candidates in local races. They kept their association with Butler under wraps until, in 1977, the Honolulu Advertiser published a three-part series headlined ''The Secret Spiritual Base of a New Political Force.'' A party chair, Bill Penaroza, is the father of Tulsi Gabbard's current chief of staff, Kainoa Penaroza. Kainoa had no political experience prior to being hired by Tulsi at age 30. He was managing one of the group's health-food stores. Former members of the Science of Identity say that Butler has always craved legitimacy for his group among mainstream Hindus, and that he has come closest to achieving this through Tulsi Gabbard's relationship to Narendra Modi.
In the videos made available to the public by the Science of Identity Foundation, Butler has cut his hair and donned a collared shirt under a V-neck sweater, and watching him lecture is a bit like imagining Mister Rogers if Mister Rogers were very stoned. In a typical lecture on the ephemeral nature of the body, he says, softly, ''You can ask yourself the question, Am I my hand?'' and holds out his hand. ''And then you can ask yourself that if your hand was sitting on the other side of the room because it got '-- ya know '-- cut off by a sword or it fell off on your way to work or something, would you be where the hand is or would you be where you are looking at the hand?'' He pauses. Cocks his head. ''Actually,'' he says, smiling, ''try to imagine a person freaking out. It happens! Quite often; people lose their hands or they lose their arms, they lose their legs, or they lose their fingers, they lose an ear, or a tongue, whatever, and here they are '-- and some people lose their genitals! '... You're not any one part of your body.''
Ian Koviak is a Portland, Oregon''based book designer who has made covers for Sherman Alexie, James Patterson, and many other writers. He was 10 years old and living in Brooklyn, when his single mother found Butler's group through a friend. They began to attend ''gatherings,'' in which families would listen to tapes of Butler's teachings on philosophy and mythology, and also Butler's curse-laden excoriations of group members who had disappointed him in some way. ''Basically, what one disciple did,'' Koviak said, ''was thwarting us from making spiritual progress.'' Butler was a hypochondriac afraid of contamination, and this disciple might have washed his sheets with the wrong detergent, or set up his air filter incorrectly, or failed to cover their mouths with masks in his presence. Ian feared being a target of these lectures. ''We regarded him as God's representative on Earth,'' he says, ''It was an intense feeling that you're displeasing someone that's your only connection to a spiritual path and life.''
A year later, when he was 11, Koviak and his mother moved to Malibu, where Butler was then living, so she could be closer to him. A year after that, Koviak was sent to a boarding school in Baguio City, in the Philippines, run by Butler devotees, including a man named Toby Tamayo, the uncle of Tulsi's first husband. They began the day at 4:30 with a cold bucket shower, followed by hours of chanting in the dark. They watched a video of ''homosexual biker types in Folsom Street Fairs doing each other in the middle of the street. That would pan off to a guy in a wheelchair who has AIDS. Then at the end of the video the guy dies.'' There was, Koviak says with equanimity, ''light sexual abuse, the kind of thing that happens when you put 30 boys in a bunch of rooms. People groping you at night.'' Koviak stayed at this boarding school for four years, from age 12 to 16, during which he saw his mother only once.
When Tulsi was 14, her father founded a nonprofit called Stop Promoting Homosexuality America and began hosting a radio show called ''Let's Talk Straight Hawaii.'' Her parents owned an organic deli, located inside a larger natural-foods store owned by Butler's followers. On his show, Gabbard declared he would always hire a straight person rather than someone of nontraditional sexual orientation, at which point the deli was picketed and quickly went out of business. The station pulled the program, but Gabbard was energized; he led the fight against gay marriage in the state. Tulsi began political life in her teens, knocking on doors with her father, who went on to be elected to the city council, and eventually the state senate, where, socially conservative and pro environmental regulation, he remains.
At 21, Tulsi was Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo, having married a man involved with Butler's group, and like many people at that age, she had yet to outgrow the views with which she was raised. But unlike most 20-somethings grappling with the ideological legacies of their parents, Tulsi was elected to Hawaii's house of representatives at 21, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to a state legislature. Her early opposition to abortion and gay marriage would be a part of her political record. After a single term, she joined the military, later saying she'd been motivated by 9/11, and deployed in Iraq and Kuwait. Critics might draw a line from her deployment at a time of American Islamophobia through her later sympathies for Assad and Modi. But that story may be too neat. Her tours were her first time as an adult out of Hawaii, away from her family and the religious sect in which they were enmeshed.
In Iraq, Tulsi was in a medical unit on a base 40 miles north of Baghdad, an area sometimes known as ''Mortaritaville,'' where shells exploded and sirens wailed as she took cover in a concrete bunker. She worked 12-hour shifts out of a mobile trailer with a small window; during storms, she watched ''an orange wave of sand'' envelop everything and shook with the wind. Every day at 9 a.m. she scrolled through an Excel spreadsheet of casualties. These were American troops for whom she was supposed to organize treatment. ''That daily task '-- it left an indelible impression on me,'' she says, ''understanding behind every one of these names is a soldier, sailor, seeing the volume of people paying the price for war. It caused me to think about those who made a decision to start this war. I wondered if they ever thought about these people, their families.''
When she returned, her positions on social issues eventually fell a bit more in line with the party; she said that living in a theocracy had changed her, and she no longer believed the state should dictate the romantic or reproductive lives of its citizens. She divorced Tamayo, won a seat on the city council, and ran for Congress against the Democratic Establishment candidate, a pro-life, anti-gay-marriage former mayor of Honolulu 27 years her senior. A Democratic National Committee in need of speakers for the party's national convention turned to a young, attractive multicultural woman veteran and Congressperson who voted left but sounded credible on national security.
''I can't tell you how many people have mentioned your name and said, 'This is the one to look out for,''…'' Suzanne Malveaux said to her on CNN. ''Tell us why. I mean, people see you as a rising star.'' She was called a rising star on ABC and she was called a rising star in the Washington Post and she won her election easily, at which point she became no longer the youngest woman in a state legislature but the youngest woman in Congress. A rapturous Vogue profile praised her for her ''fit physique,'' soldier's stamina, and a ''smile so warm that it's no surprise Web sites have offered polls rating her 'hotness,''…'' a truly curious reading of hotness polls.
The fall from rising star to party pariah began with a gift from the Establishment. As a 31-year-old freshman representative, she was chosen for a DNC vice-chairmanship, an easy way for a new face to achieve visibility. During the Democratic primary season, Tulsi began arguing with DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, demanding that there be more than six debates in the Democratic primary (a move that would theoretically benefit Sanders); Wasserman Schultz, according to Tulsi, suggested that she not come to the next one. When Tulsi later endorsed Bernie Sanders over a woman who supported campaigns in Iraq and Libya, it was after Sanders had suffered a devastating loss to Clinton in South Carolina; once again, this was not a move that could be explained by political calculation.
Syria doesn't get much airtime on American television news '-- it's a horrifying, complicated proxy war involving Iran and Saudi Arabia and Russia to which Americans have neither answers nor the will to meaningfully intervene. It is not good content. But when Tulsi Gabbard appears on any given news program, a Blob-driven game ensues: corner Tulsi into insulting Assad.
''Do you think Assad is our enemy?'' asked Kasie Hunt on a February episode of Morning Joe.
''Assad is not the enemy of the United States, because Syria does not pose a direct threat to the United States,'' said Tulsi in her slow monotone.
Joe Scarborough broke in: ''Is he an adversary?''
''We have to look to who poses a threat to the United States '-- ''
''Is he an adversary?'' Scarborough asked again.
''What would you say he is?'' asked Mika Brzezinski. ''If you cannot say he is an adversary or an enemy, what is Assad to the United States? What is the word?''
At this Tulsi finally smiles, incredulous '-- a look of condescending skepticism. ''You can describe it however you want to describe it. My point is '-- ''
''I want to know how you describe it!'' said Brzezinski. ''Adversary,'' she says to herself, very quietly. ''It's not hard.''
For many years in Kailua, the Gabbards' known involvement with the Science of Identity went largely unremarked upon. It took an outsider, a 45-year-old special-education teacher and independent journalist Christine Gralow, who moved to the island just three years ago, to get curious enough to start asking questions. She mapped a web of relationships among devotees. ''I had no idea,'' she told me, ''that this was going to lead me to Tulsi Gabbard.''
Soon after, she attended a town hall run by Tulsi. It was alarming for her to recognize so many faces from her research, and the whole production felt oddly staged. Gralow asked some questions about Syria, to boos from the crowd, and held up a piece of paper that read QNET INDIA, TIBBY, BISMARK WANTED? which relates to complicated, long-standing allegations of money-laundering against the group. She interviewed anyone in the community who would talk, went deep into the group's alleged association with organized crime. She published it all on her website, meanwhileinhawaii.org, which is when the DDOS attacks started. She says, undaunted, that she has seen members of the group waiting outside her home, taking pictures. ''I'm a special-ed teacher,'' she says, ''and special-ed teachers don't like bullies.''
Tulsi Gabbard's response to questions about the Science of Identity frequently begin with accusations of religious bigotry and ''Hinduphobia.'' Her campaign website once mentioned her years in the Philippines, but that reference has been removed. When The New Yorker asked her if she had a spiritual teacher, she said she had had ''many different spiritual teachers,'' that none was more important than the others, and that she has never heard Chris Butler say an unkind thing. (''I don't even know what to say about that,'' says Ian Koviak.) The campaign's position is that any serious inquiry into Tulsi's religious background constitutes a Hinduphobic line of attack to which other candidates would not be subject, though again, Butler's group does not identify as Hindu.
I knew nearly nothing of Tulsi's backstory when I found myself in her car back in February, and so in April, when she returned to Iowa City, I arranged for a follow-up conversation at a vegan restaurant. On the day before the interview, a staffer texted me to ask about the gist of my questions. The morning of, I was told that the interview was canceled. I then reached out to another staffer, who eventually said Tulsi would take questions on religious matters via email, at which point I sent a series of questions regarding Chris Butler, the Science of Identity, the beach gatherings to which Greg Martin had referred, her time in the Philippines, and when, precisely, Tulsi began to identify as Hindu. Tulsi replied with an email that declined to mention Hinduism, Butler, the Science of Identity, the gatherings, or the Philippines.''My 'religion,''…'' she wrote, ''is my loving relationship with God, and the motivation that springs from that relationship to try my best to use my life in the service of humanity and the planet.''
But as late as 2015, in a video still up on YouTube, Tulsi publicly acknowledged her guru-dev to be Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, Chris Butler.
No one I spoke to with personal experience of the group, including Tulsi's aunt, thought it possible that Tulsi Gabbard had somehow left Chris Butler's sphere of influence, that her thirst for world peace and her persistent concerns about Islam were positions held independent of his counsel. ''I don't think that she is a bad person or in any way malicious,'' says Koviak. ''Butler's agenda from way back in the '70s has always been to have a political hold in some way. Now he has realized his dream through Tulsi Gabbard.'' Says Rama Ranson, who maintains the blog RamaRansonvsthecult.com, ''Her success is Butler's success.''
The analysis is like, 'Oh, she just loves dictators,''…'' says Vrindavan.
''She loves dictators,'' says Abraham, ''and is also an opportunist who wants to advance politically.''
The snow is coming down harder now as we make our way to Iowa City. Flights are canceled. Cars have been abandoned on the side of the road. They consider canceling the stump speech, but here we are in Iowa and no one has anywhere else to be.
''Looks like this may be a very intimate event!'' jokes Vrindavan.
Tulsi looks slightly concerned but holds it all in. For once, Abraham is not filming. He's watching surf videos on his phone. Tulsi leans forward, suddenly spontaneous.
''Do you know who Kelly Slater is?'' she asks. She's telling me about a surfing competition featuring men and women, where the women slayed. She leans forward to show me. ''This is Kelly Slater's wave pool. This is the first time in a sanctioned competition hosted by the world surf league where men and women have competed in the exact same wave conditions, size and everything! That finals day that we were there? I think seven of eight men did not even complete their first wave!''
Vrindavan is cracking up. ''That should not make me happy!'' she says. Abraham hands me his phone so I can watch a GoPro video of Tulsi surfing.
''Every time she goes home, she's on the water,'' says Vrindavan. ''Every morning''
''The best spot to go is [redacted],'' says Abraham.
''You can't publish that name!'' says Vrindavan.
''We walk to the beach,'' says Tulsi.
''It's a two-minute walk,'' says Abraham.
''It's not two minutes,'' says Tulsi.
''Like five.''
''It might take two minutes to skate there,'' says Tulsi.
''Oh yeah,'' says Vrindavan. ''They skateboard.''
Over the few months I was reporting this piece, Tulsi's transient aunt called me from a plane; from an apartment in Portland, Oregon; from her home in Hawaii; and finally, unexpectedly, from a new home in Samoa, deep in Oceania, ''as far as you can get from anywhere else.'' It was a surprise even to her, but she had had a charged email correspondence with the island's head of state and on a whim decided to return in retirement. ''It was not my plan at all, not at all,'' she says. ''I'm here in the ancient world now. I'm operating in a framework of unbroken antiquity. It's a riot of joy. I'm sprouting into a rain forest.''
Tulsi's candidacy was not the first time that Sina felt compelled to speak to the press. When, in the early '90s, her brother became the poster boy for homophobia in Hawaii, she very much wanted to say something, but in the thick of personal and medical challenge, she was advised by her therapist to say nothing much and left journalists' calls unreturned.
Years later, when Trump emerged victorious on Election Night 2016, she was inert for two days, and it wasn't until she heard a rousing statement about resistance out of the mouth of Elizabeth Warren that she ''literally got off the couch.'' She thought about her only vector to power. She texted Tulsi, Sina says, and while she waited for a response, Tulsi met with Donald Trump, declined to join her colleagues in denouncing Steve Bannon, and met with Assad. When the family invited her to Thanksgiving dinner, Sina did not go. Tulsi never called back.
It was, finally, the failure to sign the letter denouncing Bannon that pushed Sina over the edge of reticence. ''An alarming pattern of Tulsi's priorities is becoming increasingly clear and problematic,'' Sina wrote on Facebook. ''Having been a citizen twice as long as I've been Tulsi's aunt, I hold my responsibilities for both roles as equally significant.''
She is still in frequent contact with the family despite everything. She and her brother share responsibility for an intellectually disabled relative, and so Sina and Tulsi's mother confer about her care. ''I used to think lifelines are what you toss to someone who falls overboard,'' she writes in her book Alchemies of Distance. ''But my sailor friend says, 'No, lifelines are the ones that help keep you inside the boat.''…''
How far does our commitment to religious diversity extend? Is it weirder to follow the dictates of a surfer guru who believes the moon landing was a hoax than to claim, as does Evangelical Mike Pence, that the establishment of Israel represents biblical prophecy? Georgia representative Jody Hice believes you can predict major political events through a succession of ''blood moons.'' A recent member of Congress claims pregnancy by ''legitimate rape'' is impossible. Because he believes bee pollen cured his allergies, former Iowa senator Tom Harkin has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars failing to prove the legitimacy of various alternative medicines, pollen among them.
In February, Tulsi Gabbard introduced a draft bill intended to keep Trump from pulling out of a nuclear-arms treaty; the move was supported by representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. (Abraham shot a Facebook Live video of a press conference for the bill, during which an expert on nuclear war spoke of Armageddon while red hearts floated past his face.) Three months later, she said she'd pardon Edward Snowden and drop charges against Julian Assange. The Democratic front-runner in every poll was a man who both signed the Authorization of Military Force, which has since been used to justify interventions in 14 countries, and hailed its signing as an inspiring act of democratic legitimacy. And when it appeared possible that the United States was gearing up for a military intervention in Venezuela under the guise of humanitarian aid, only one presidential candidate was willing to condemn the idea. As Bernie Sanders has moved toward a compromise position on military intervention abroad, Gabbard has chosen not to accept ''this worldview, this regime-change-war addiction,'' and has not backed down from the statement about ''people whose whole careers have been built around support for these wars.''
Maybe Tulsi Gabbard is a toady, or na¯ve, or negative-attention seeking, or maybe a boy who grew up watching his father ridiculed decided to build a world in which he never would be, and in the world he built appeared a girl capable of holding firm to brazen ideas the world disdains. There are good actors and bad ones, but you don't get to know what is in a candidate's heart. If you think you do, you've been fooled. There is only the story they tell and the one you choose to believe. There are the votes they show up for and the forces they resist '-- the strength of the lifeline and into what strange waters they steer the boat.
*This article appears in the June 10, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!
The State Department has been funding trolls. I'm one of their targets. - The Washington Post
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 12:27
A newsstand in Tehran on May 20. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images) Even after spending a year and a half in prison in Tehran, I knew that if I wanted to go on writing about Iran, I would be a target for plenty of public attacks despite the abuse I had suffered at the hands of the Islamic Republic. And so it has been.
But I never imagined the U.S. State Department would be funding my attackers.
Last week, several astute Iran watchers drew attention to a series of inflammatory tweets associated with the Iran Disinformation Project, a State Department-funded initiative that its website claims ''brings to light disinformation emanating from the Islamic Republic of Iran via official rhetoric, state propaganda outlets, social media manipulation and more.''
What other @StateDept funded organizations claiming to promote democracy in #Iran are using taxpayer money to harass, intimidate, threaten and slander American journalists & academics? Follow the money folks.
'-- Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) May 31, 2019On Friday, in response to the complaints, the State Department suspended the initiative's funding ''until the implementer takes necessary steps to ensure that any future activity remains within the agreed scope of work,'' a department official said.
One of the ''steps'' thus far has been to delete many of the tweets in question. But that is hardly sufficient.
Ironically, the Iran Disinformation Project was funded by the State Department's Global Engagement Center, which was begun to combat online extremism and propaganda.
The targets of the tweets included think-tank analysts, human rights activists and journalists (including me). The common thread is that we are all perceived by regime change proponents and supporters of the Trump administration's so-called maximum pressure policy to be soft on Iran because we are critical of crushing economic sanctions and the threat of the use of military force against it.
For these thought crimes, we are branded by @IranDisinfo and similar social media accounts as Tehran's ''mouthpieces,'' ''apologists,'' ''collaborators,'' and ''lobbyists'' in the West.
I won't speak for others who have been attacked, and my own views are irrelevant to this situation. From what I can see, though, we all appear to share the view that Iran should be secular and democratic. The main difference between us and those spreading these falsehoods against us is how we envision that change in Iranian politics coming about.
As a matter of principle, I try to avoid impeding anyone else's right to free expression '-- even when it's used to attack me. If a claim against me is demonstrably false, I will state it clearly and openly. Yet, I believe it's important to allow others '-- even faceless ones hiding behind anonymous social media accounts '-- the opportunity to criticize me, my work and my credentials. It's part of what you sign up for when you take this job.
I also openly acknowledge that others who have been abused by Iran (such as me) have the right to hold whatever political positions they choose and the right to defend and promote them passionately. Yes, even if it means they advocate war or sanctions directed at the people of that country. They have their views and I have mine.
Slander and libel are a different story, however, and @IranDisinfo may have crossed the line.
What Bahman Kalbasi, one of the #IranDisinfo mouthpieces in @BBC doesn't tell you, is that the number of Jews in #Iran before the Islamic Revolution was around 100K. After the mass executions, assassinations, and confiscation of properties, now the number is less than 10K. https://t.co/rfhb6kwFk1
'-- IranDisinfo (@IranDisinfo) May 28, 2019 In the past 16 months, thousands of protestors have been arrested in #Iran, and most are anonymous. @sepehrifar of @hrw, a supporter of so-called Moderates within the regime, instead of documenting+proving these human rights violations, is working hard to prove @JZarif's claims. https://t.co/CvWzqULihT
'-- IranDisinfo (@IranDisinfo) April 25, 2019So we're faced with the irony that an initiative aimed at combating Tehran's disinformation campaigns is resorting to disinformation campaigns of its own, using taxpayer funds to spread lies about U.S. citizens. We need programs that fight the spread of falsehoods and propaganda, but such efforts shouldn't combat lies with other lies '-- and certainly not with public funding.
This is just one more small incident in the long moment of reckoning our democracy is facing. It will pass quickly, but it's an important stress test.
How can individuals who are not willing to adhere to the norms of American civil society be entrusted with resources to promote civil society in other countries?
The State Department can easily fix the problem. It needs to perform a transparent assessment of who received the funding and why. Once the facts are clear, the grant should be terminated.
Transparency and accountability are fundamental to the rule of law. Anyone who claims otherwise cannot be entrusted with taxpayer money to promote American ideals '-- at home or abroad.
At the heart of the matter lies a fundamental question: Do we support our long-cherished ideals of democratic fair play or the ''by any means necessary'' approach that is becoming more prevalent in the current political climate?
Put personal politics aside for a moment and look back through history. Do peddlers of disinformation contribute or detract from our health as a society? The answer is obvious, and the State Department should take a clear stance on the side of honest and responsible discourse.
If the State Department declines to address the issue, Congress should investigate.
Read more:
Iran just reached a new low '-- and no one noticed
Everything that's wrong with Iran in one grotesque televised scandal
Yes, let's help Iranians gain freedom '-- but without killing them in the process
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About Us - Iran Disinformation Project
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 12:29
Iran Disinformation Project exposes and counters the nefarious influence of one of the world's few remaining totalitarian regimes. Daily in Persian, Arabic and English languages, the initiative brings to light disinformation emanating from the Islamic Republic of Iran via official rhetoric, state propaganda outlets, social media manipulation and more.
We provide near real time counter narratives and truth telling through our social networks as well as longer, investigative reports. Iran Disinformation Project's documentaries and other video productions, profiles of disinformation nodes and personalities, translations of scholarly works on disinformation and more provide to Iranian, Arab and international audiences an educative perspective on how Ayatollah Khamenei's theocracy ensures regime survival not only through aggression but also through the soft power of its lies about itself, about Iran and about our world. The regime's external terror, imperial wars and financial power are a focus, as are its internal repression, corruption and incompetence. Throughout our work, we amplify the voices and civic actions of courageous Iranians who reveal the regime for the evil it truly is.
Iran Disinformation Project was launched in late 2018 and is funded by the US Department of State's Global Engagement Center.
16,000 people in L.A. now live in cars, vans and RVs. But safe parking remains elusive - Los Angeles Times
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 18:19
Jeremy Shriver brushes his teeth as he prepares for bed with his 19-month-old daughter Irah at a safe parking site in Los Angeles. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Two years ago, Los Angeles began testing an alternative to homeless shelters called safe parking, giving people living in their cars a secure spot to sleep at night.
The first site was quickly deemed a success, so the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority agreed to fund nine more lots in the pilot program, with promises to expand.
Earlier this year, before the release of new data showing more than 16,500 people living in their vehicles, the authority put out a request to providers across the county to help them make good on that promise.
But the details of the request left some groups frustrated, saying the rules were too burdensome and the budget too tight.
''There were a lot of questions, particularly from the experienced folks, and that made me concerned,'' said Paulina Hong of the Asian American Drug Abuse Program, a group that had planned to apply. ''Does this make sense the way it's laid out? I didn't get the sense that it does. But LAHSA has their reasons for the way that they structured it.''
Under the authority's new model, most lots would require multiple security guards working 12-hour shifts. While existing lots accommodate five to 10 cars, new ones would need to operate with no fewer than 25, and 95% of the spots must be full every night.
Lot operators also would be required to offer on-site case management and other services. And all of it must be done for less than $30 per car, per night '-- and, ideally less than $20, according to the homeless authority's plan.
''The higher of the two funding levels is relatively similar to what we pay for a shelter bed,'' said Heidi Marston, the authority's chief program officer.
But a shelter bed sleeps one person, providers point out, while a car, van or RV often rolls up with a family in tow.
All told, the expansion is budgeted to yield fewer than 300 safe parking spots '-- roughly double the number that currently exist.
That leaves most people living in vehicles without a legal place to sleep.
''We have to start somewhere,'' Marston said. ''Because this is a new program, we want to get a sense of what is actually needed so we can scale.''
Yunus Rajabiy lived in his van at a safe parking site in North Hills before he moved into a residence in Reseda. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Annual homelessness figures for Los Angeles County released last week show a 5% jump in people sleeping in vehicles.
They ''are typically families or people who work,'' most of them new to the street, Marston said.
But federally funded programs give priority to the chronically unhoused, making safe parking one of the few forms of shelter accessible to the growing number of Angelenos who have not been homeless before.
''I wasn't surprised to see that more people are moving into their vehicles, because rents are growing faster than income,'' said Va Lecia Adams Kellum, president of St. Joseph's Center, a homeless services organization. ''There's families who are still working but had to make the sad choice of moving into their cars.''
Groups operating safe parking sites say that to remain in the program, they will have to do more with less.
''If you looked at the numbers and did the math, [the pilot program] was almost double'' the per-vehicle payout allowed under the new plan, said Veronica Lewis, division director of HOPICS, a homeless services agency that opened the first safe parking site in L.A. in the spring of 2017.
Those amounts are too low for most churches or grass-roots community organizations, she said.
Hong, of the Asian American Drug Abuse program, said that between the required hours of operation and the strict security mandate, her organization could not afford to let people park in a lot the group owns.
''It would require either two shifts or an overtime person for the whole period,'' she said. ''The amount was not going to be enough.''
Safe parking is not inherently expensive, proponents say. San Diego's nearly decade-old program, Dreams for Change, runs for about $10 per car, per night, said executive director Teresa Smith.
''We run a very lean budget,'' Smith said.
By Luis Sinco
Mar 02, 2018 | 3:00 AM
The program doesn't employ security guards, and its lots operate at a higher density than the ones in Los Angeles, which must leave an empty space between each car.
Marston, with the L.A. program, said the security guards are intended to help working people sleep better, ''to truly get a good night's rest and be productive the next day,'' so they can get out of homelessness faster.
Similarly, the case management model emerged because ''[clients] are at work during the day and our system doesn't work with their schedule.''
For some, like Yunus Rajabiy, safe parking's social services were critical. When the 36-year-old air conditioner and appliance repairman first entered the North Hills safe parking lot last fall, he had been sleeping in his delivery van for almost three years. Six months later, he was living in an apartment.
He credited the lot's intake coordinator, Laura Rathbone, with helping him get back on his feet. ''She was making me do things that would help me, because otherwise I was very depressed,'' he said.
But for others, on-site services are less crucial than simply have a safe place to bed down '-- ideally one that's close to work or their children's school.
''We find that safe parking lots are particularly helpful when they are near the areas where people are homeless,'' Adams Kellum said. ''It is so important that those parking lots are near.''
The authority identified 10 lots that operators could use for free. But they are scattered around the county '-- many of them far from the areas with the most people living in vehicles, according to 2018 data.
Two are in the Antelope Valley, where RVs and campers predominate among the homeless population. One is at a juvenile probation camp, the other at a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility.
RVs present a particular challenge.
Many no longer run, and safe parking sites require that vehicles be able to leave the lot during the day. Even RVs in good condition guzzle gas, limiting how far owners can drive them.
''I'm such a bleeding heart for senior citizens '-- I want to bring them into the program and I can't because their vehicle doesn't run,'' said Rathbone, the intake coordinator in the San Fernando Valley, where more than 1,600 people were living in RVs last year.
Marston said she was aware of the RV crisis but that the agency was confident that even if most couldn't park there, the detention center sites would fill up.
''Until we open these sites in areas that are further away, we won't know what the need truly is out there,'' she said.
Rathbone urged churches and other groups to set up their own safe parking sites, outside the system.
''Your parking lot is your parking lot, you can choose what to do with it,'' the provider said. ''If you have volunteers, you can run it all on your own.''
Yunus Rajabiy is photographed next to solar panels that he used to charge batteries, when he lived in his van. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A Boon for Bitcoin? Italian Government Proposes Tax on Savings in Held in Bank Safes
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 00:07
The Deputy Prime Minister of Italy has proposed a new tax on cash and other valuables held by citizens at banks. If actually imposed, the measure could drive people towards Bitcoin as a way to keep their savings safe from cash-strapped government ministers.
The proposal comes as rising geopolitical tensions are impacting other investment markets, making value held in cash and other valuables a more attractive option for many.
Would the Italian Government Coming After Private Savings be a Catalyst for Bitcoin Adoption?According to a report published earlier today by Reuters, Italy's government may consider taxing its citizens' private savings held in safety deposit boxes at banks.
The report states that the nation's Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, made the proposal on a late night TV programme yesterday. It was picked up by the domestic press this morning.
Salvini reportedly stated that he had been informed that there were hundreds of billions of euros stored as cash and other assets in safety deposit boxes around the country.
He described the savings of his citizens as being ''substantially hidden'' money, implying that the government has some ordained right to know what the Italian people as individuals have managed to save.
He went on to state that citizens that were open about their holdings would be taxed at a lower rate than those who were less forthcoming with information about their savings.
If the Italian government do implement such a measure, its citizens may very well turn to other means of storing value to protect their savings. One Bitcoin proponent mused that such a policy could be favourable to the crypto asset via Twitter earlier today:
This is bullish for bitcoin ðŸš
Italy could end up being the best thing to ever happen to bitcoin.
H/t @Ray94609549 https://t.co/TmkS7FZICl
'-- Alex Kr¼ger (@krugermacro) June 12, 2019
As highlighted in the above Tweet, the news comes as Italian retail deposits hit a new all-time high and geopolitical tensions continue to rock European markets. A recent report by Financial Times shows that share prices of the Eurozone's largest companies recently hit a five month volatility peak. Tensions in Europe itself relating to Brexit and geopolitical worries overseas caused by the ongoing US/China trade war and fear of the pending collapse of a nuclear accord with Iran are driving the current instability.
Therefore, it does indeed seem possible that some of those Italian investors on the lookout for a safer haven than traditional markets and concerned about the government taxing their savings may well turn to Bitcoin. That said, given the perpetual volatility of Bitcoin, it remains unlikely that the crypto asset market will see any serious influx of capital in the form of life savings of Italians being poured into the market.
However, given that Bitcoin is much harder for governments to come after than funds held in safety deposit boxes and that the market is entirely uncorrelated to stocks or fiat currencies, it still seems plausible that some will take a high risk/high reward hedge against the current fiat system that seems to be edging ever closer to meltdown.
Related Reading: Bank of Italy Feels People Shouldn't Create Their Own Currencies
Build the Wall
Illegal immigrants can hurt US economy, professor argues, prompting calls for his firing | Fox News
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 10:43
A college professor in Georgia is drawing criticism for his online comments about illegal immigrants, including his contention that people in the U.S. illegally can be a drain on the nation's economy.
''If you are going to reward illegal immigrants, there will be more illegal immigrants,'' Fang Zhou, an associate professor of history at Georgia Gwinnett College near Atlanta, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
''If you are going to reward illegal immigrants, there will be more illegal immigrants.''
'-- Fang Zhou, associate professor of history, Georgia Gwinnett College
Fang Zhou (Georgia Gwinnett College)
Zhou says he welcomes the criticism, including from those who say he should lose his job, according to the report.
''I am against political correctness,'' Zhou, a legal immigrant from China, told the newspaper. ''I speak truth to power in class and my students learn about the financial drain of illegal immigration on the economy and the high crime rates of illegal immigrants.
''My students are 'woke' and are overwhelmingly against illegal immigration after taking my class,'' he added.
But Zhou told the paper he does not force students to share his opinions.
His critics, however, argue that many of Zhou's assertions have been debunked and they object to some of the terms he uses in his comments, such as ''libtards,'' and ''ghetto thugs.''
One such critic, according to the report, is Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American elected to the state's House of Representatives.
Nguyen posted some of Zhou's comments on Twitter this week and asked her followers: ''Are these the values supported by Georgia Gwinnett College?''
''I have concerns about him teaching those things in a classroom,'' Nguyen, a Democrat, told the Journal-Constitution. She noted that nearly 70 percent of the college's students are either African-American, Asian or Hispanic, and planned to write to college officials to formally complain about Zhou.
''I have concerns about him teaching those things in a classroom.''
'-- Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen
Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen, Democrat.
College officials did not respond directly to the newspaper's request for comment but shared the school's ''academic freedom policy,'' which stipulates that faculty members are allowed to express their views ''without fear of censure.''
The same policy, however, told faculty members that they ''should remember that the public may judge'' their profession and the college by what they say and write.
Obtained Records Show ICE Is Using ALPR Databases To Reconstruct Targets' Lives | Techdirt
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 15:34
from the oh-good-real-world-examples-of-domestic-surveillance deptICE has full-blown access to license plate databases around the nation, as well as its own direct hookup to the largest ALPR database itself -- the one compiled by ALPR manufacturer Vigilant. It places almost no restrictions on searches of these databases. Anything that somehow isn't compliant can be farmed out to state and local agencies to perform searches by proxy.
The ACLU has obtained records showing just how much access ICE has, and how often it performs searches. The numbers are staggering, considering ICE is an immigration and customs enforcement agency with a more limited scope than the FBI and other investigative agencies.
Across seven months in 2018, ICE queried a nationwide license plate location database operated by Vigilant Solutions thousands of times each month, according to search logs obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Northern California. Using the explanations provided by ICE's lawyers about what query types constituted searches, it appears that ICE performed over 30,000 such queries of this database per month.
Over 9,000 agents have access to the Vigilant database, which currently holds more than a billion records. Rather than run plates and see if they match a hit list, ICE agents use the database to locate people using their vehicles. They also use the database to reconstruct the movements of targets, including determining when they leave and return home and which businesses they frequent. What's included in the records turned over the ACLU is exactly the kind of surveillance privacy advocates have warned these databases enable.
Some of the search logs show ICE agents engaging in the expected ICE business, searching for holders of expired visas or rejected asylum applicants. But a lot of it shows ICE engaging in fishing expeditions, pulling records on US citizens, and tracking people's movements.
ICE could not be more on the nose with these searches, handing civil liberties advocates a whole bunch of ammo to use against the deployment of plate readers. Law enforcement claims ALPR databases are only used to run plates against hot lists, but the reality is these records are amassed by the millions and held for indeterminate periods of time. This combination allows agencies like ICE to reconstruct targets' lives, see where they work, which houses of worship they attend, what activities they engage in, and where they reside. The potential for abuse is no longer a point of discussion. It's happening. And if ICE is doing it, chances are a great number of agencies with Vigilant database access are doing it as well.
The records also show the ICE agents engage in database searches for other agencies, possibly allowing those agencies to avoid internal restrictions on searches.
And this delicious bit of inter-agency friction:
Thanks to Vigilant's tech advances, ICE agents are able to construct surveillance dragnets while on the move. Millions of plate records are only an app away. "Stakeout Browsing Mobile" allows agents to pull every plate record generated in the vicinity of where they're sitting. The obtained records show ICE agents performed this type of search 10,000 times in March 2018 alone.
The records provide incontrovertible proof ALPR databases are being used to engage in long-term surveillance of people's movements, rather than limited to investigations of severe criminal acts or matching scanned plates to hot lists. This should result in a Congressional inquiry, but given ICE's free rein under this administration, this seems unlikely. But this moves the discussion past the point of theoretical and into reality'... at the rate of thousands of times per month by a single federal agency.
Filed Under: alpr, ice, surveillance
Customs and Border Protection Breach Leads to Stolen Traveler Photos | Digital Trends
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 15:38
A ''malicious cyberattack'' on a U.S. Customs and Border Protection subcontractor compromised photographs of travelers going into and out of the country, along with license plates, the agency said Monday.
How many images were compromised and where and when they were collected is unclear, but Customers and Border Protection has known about the attack since May 31. According to agency, a subcontractor transferred the images to its network ''in violation of CBP policies and without CBP's authorization or knowledge.''
Officials claim that the stolen information hasn't shown up on the internet or dark web. The Register found files from CBP contractor Perceptics , which makes license plate readers, on the dark web last month.
CBP hasn't confirmed which of its contractors was attacked, so it's not clear if the two incidents are connected.
The breach drew condemnation from privacy advocates, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF).
''EFF is disappointed by reports of the theft from CBP of photos of travelers' faces and license plates,'' said the organization's senior staff attorney Adam Schwartz. ''The inherent risk of such theft is among the reasons why the government should not be amassing this sensitive information in the first place.''
When you arrive in the U.S. after an international flight, your stop at customs may include an agent snapping a photo of you. Using facial recognition technology, the agent can then match it with a '' biometric template.'' That template is a string of numbers representing, say, your passport photo.
''These templates are irreversible and cannot be reverse-engineered by anyone outside of CBP to reconstruct the photo,'' according to the CBP.
Customers and Border Protection says it '' discards'' photos of U.S. citizens and exempt aliens within 12 hours of verifying their identity. It can take 14 days to delete other travelers' photographs. According to agency rules, airports and other partners aren't allowed to keep any traveler photos they take for identification purposes.
The breach comes at a time when some airlines are planning on using facial recognition not just at customs but for flight check-in and baggage drop , The Washington Post reports.
It's not clear exactly how a hacker could use a photo of your face, there are some protections if your license plate information is stolen. While the Driver's Privacy Protection Act makes it difficult to track down someone's personal information just from a license plate, some privacy advocates have raised concerns about the amount of data automated plate readers suck up.
This is a developing story, and we'll update it as we learn more information.
California to provide health care to some living in US illegally
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 22:16
Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a $213.5 billion state budget that boosts spending on homelessness, wildfire prevention and K-12 education. The Star, Wochit
California was poised Monday to become the first state to provide health care coverage to young, low-income adults living in the country illegally after legislative leaders provided a thumbs-up to Gov. Gavin Newsom's $98 million plan targeting almost 100,000 low-income adults.
The full Legislature still must sign off on the plan that would make such immigrants ages 19 to 25 eligible for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. The deal was a win for Newsom, who rejected as too expensive a state Senate plan to include adults 65 and older living in the state illegally.
The California Immigrant Policy Center called the program a "clear step forward" but lamented the decision to block the elderly from the plan.
"The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same health care their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions," the advocacy group said in a statement.
Anthony Wright, executive director of the advocacy group Health Access, said further expansion of the program could come in the future.
"We will continue to pursue steps towards the Governor's & Legislature's shared goal of getting to universal coverage in the next few years," Wright posted on Twitter.
The deal, which will become effective in January is part of a larger effort to ensure everyone in the state has access to health insurance. Lawmakers have until Saturday to approve the budget or face losing their pay.
Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses his revised state budget during a news conference in Sacramento on May 9, 2019. (Photo: AP PHOTO)
The proposal also makes California the first state to subsidize insurance for middle-income families. A family of four earning as much as six times the federal poverty level '' or more than $150,000 a year '' would be eligible for $100 a month from the government to help pay for insurance. Newsom had initially balked at the subsidy but ultimately relented.
''California believes that health is a fundamental right,'' said state Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who led the budget negotiations.
But to pay for part of it, the state will begin taxing people who don't have health insurance. The plan is similar to a part of President Barack Obama's health care law that Republicans in Congress eliminated as part of the 2017 overhaul to the tax code.
Not that the state is desperate for cash: California is projected to have a surplus of more than $20 billion, the largest in 20 years.
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Some Republicans on the legislative committee negotiating the budget voted against the health care proposal, noting that some Californians living in the U.S. legally have no access to health care.
Andrew Clark, who a week ago began work as director of rapid response for the Trump 2020 campaign, was quick to complain on Twitter.
"California Democrats' new $100 million plan in the works will start providing health care to illegal immigrants ... and pay for it by taxing people (legal residents!) who don't have health insurance," Clark tweeted.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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Mike Pence Speaks Out on Decision To Bar Embassies from Flying LGBT Flags
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 19:44
Culture US News Shannon Finney / Getty Images Vice President of the United States Mike Pence delivers remarks at the DC premiere of the film, "Apollo 11: First Steps Edition" at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum on May 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Shannon Finney / Getty Images)
Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump administration's decision not to fly the rainbow flag for LGBT Pride Month was the ''right decision'' in an interview with NBC News on Monday.
''I'm aware that the State Department indicated that on the flagpole of our American embassies that one flag should fly and that's the American flag and I support that,'' he said.
Pence was asked if he felt like the decision ran ''counter'' to President Trump's tweet of support for LGBT Pride Month.
''Look, as the President said on the night we were elected, we're proud to be able to serve every American,'' the vice president said.
Pence said that he and Trump were very passionate about their service to the American people, adding that ''when it comes to the American flagpole and American embassies and capitals around the world, having the one American flag fly is the right decision.''
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Earlier last week, the Trump administration reportedly received requests from U.S. embassies, including those in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia, to fly the rainbow flag in support of LGBT Pride Month.
The administration denied the requests.
Spokeswoman for the State Department Morgan Ortagus said that Mike Pompeo believed the only flag that should be flown outside of a U.S. embassy building is the American flag.
However, she said that embassies could have the option of displaying their support during the month using alternative methods, but the flagpole should be reserved specifically for the American flag.
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''You can do a simple, easy Google or Twitter search and see the pictures of members of embassies and ambassadors, people of the foreign service celebrating Pride throughout the world,'' Ortagus said.
The policy regarding the flag is sharply different from the policy of the Obama administration.
During the Obama presidency, LGBT flags were allowed to be flown underneath the American flag as long as they were smaller.
At the end of May, President Trump acknowledged Pride Month saying the LGBT community has made ''outstanding contributions'' to ''our great nation.'' He also noted the work his administration is doing to decriminalize homosexuality around the world.
As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals'....
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2019
RELATED: Dems Jump All Over Ted Cruz After He Points Out an Oddity in Twitter's Algorithm
'....on the basis of their sexual orientation. My Administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invite all nations to join us in this effort!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2019
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
The end of political cartoons at The New York Times | Chappatte.com
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 04:33
Curiously, I remain positive. This is the era of images. In a world of short attention span, their power has never been so big. Out there is a whole world of possibilities, not only in editorial cartooning, still or animated, but also in new fields like on-stage illustrated presentations and long-form comics reportage - of which I have been a proponent for the last 25 years. (I'm happy, by the way, to have opened the door for the genre at the NYT with the ''Inside Death Row'' series in 2016. The following year, another series about Syrian refugees by Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan got the NYT a Pulitzer prize.) It's also a time where the media need to renew themselves and reach out to new audiences. And stop being afraid of the angry mob. In the insane world we live in, the art of the visual commentary is needed more than ever. And so is humor.Patrick ChappatteJune 10, 2019
Supermarket Uses Embarrassing Plastic Bags So Customers Will Remember Their Reusable Ones
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 08:38
By :
Julia Banim On : 07 Jun 2019 09:16
We all know that we need to cut down on our use of plastic, but sometimes we need a nudge in the right direction.
One supermarket in the Canadian city of Vancouver has gone to innovative and humorous lengths to ensure their customers think long and hard about their plastic bag use.
Those who want to get a single use plastic bag from independent grocery store East West Market will have to endure some pretty embarrassing slogans, making for a red-faced dash home.
Designs bear slogans such as 'Into The Weird Adult Video Emporium' and 'The Colon Care Co-op', making sure nobody with an ounce of street cred would want to be seen strolling around with them.
East West Market hope these mortifying messages '' written in large, bold lettering '' can't be missed and will encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags from home, with the overall aim of reducing plastic pollution.
As reported by Global News, owner of East West Market David Lee Kwen has explained the reasoning behind these blush-worthy bags:
The message is, we should make a conscious effort to save our planet one step at a time,
[Plastic bags] are a big problem, and every step helps.
Unlike its fellow Canadian city Victoria, Vancouver has not yet implemented a complete ban on single-use plastic bags.
East West Market's planet-friendly plan appears to be in keeping with Vancouver's Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy, where businesses are required to think up their own ways of clamping down on plastic bag use.
As well as the silly slogans, East West Market is also charging an extra five cents each, meaning customers will have to cough up for the privilege of walking around town with a bag which proclaims, 'Wart Ointment Wholesale'.
According to Global News, Kwen has admitted some customesr have been purchasing the bags as a fun novelty item to show their mates.
However, overall these wasteful wonders have helped to stimulate important conversations about single use plastic, while spreading some much needed awareness.
Kwen said:
It's certainly generated interest in what we're trying to put out,
Once you start a conversation, it will skyrocket from there, I think.
According to Kwen, printing these bags comes with an additional fee, meaning these are limited edition designs.
As such, the creative campaign won't continue indefinitely, and indeed in an ideal world these measures wouldn't be needed in the first place.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications. When not Lad-ing about, she enjoys cooking, reading and trying not to fall over in Yoga.
Credits Global News and 1 other
Ebola vaccine for pregnant women: one step closer but more to go - STAT
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 15:01
I n the midst of a deadly epidemic like Ebola, who should get an experimental vaccine that provides protection against the disease 97.5% of the time?
The obvious candidates would be immediate contacts of people who developed Ebola, and their contacts. Yet an entire group of vulnerable individuals who fall into these categories '-- women who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding infants '-- are being denied this lifesaving intervention.
The vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, which is being developed by Merck, has not yet been approved for commercial use. The vaccine is currently being used in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where more than 2,000 people have been infected with the Ebola virus and close to 1,400 have died, making this the world's second-largest Ebola outbreak.
So far, more than 130,000 people in the DRC outbreak have received rVSV-ZEBOV using what's called a ring vaccination approach: The vaccine is offered to contacts of people diagnosed with Ebola, their contacts, and front-line workers '-- unless they are pregnant or lactating. More than 300 pregnant women and more than 600 breastfeeding women identified as contacts since the vaccination campaign began have been denied the opportunity to get rVSV-ZEBOV.
One rationale for withholding the vaccine from women who are pregnant or lactating is that the vaccine had not been tested in this group to evaluate its effects on the fetus or breastfeeding children.
In February, the DRC announced that women who are pregnant and lactating, as well as children under the age of 1, should be offered access to rVSV-ZEBOV, reversing a previous decision that had drawn fire from public health experts.
Last week, an ethics committee of the University of Kinshasa's School of Public Health endorsed this strategy by approving an amendment to the vaccination protocol, allowing vaccination of pregnant contacts who are beyond the first trimester of pregnancy and those who are lactating.
This is an encouraging step forward, and one we hope will quickly translate into ensuring that pregnant and lactating women who can benefit from the vaccine will get it.
But it doesn't go far enough. We believe that the criteria for offering the vaccine should apply regardless of pregnancy or lactation status: The vaccine should be offered not only to pregnant and lactating women who are contacts of those diagnosed with Ebola, but also to pregnant and lactating health care workers, and to pregnant and lactating women who are the contacts of contacts. To guide future vaccination efforts, data should be collected on pregnancy outcomes. We also believe that pregnant women should be offered the vaccine regardless of trimester.
There are compelling reasons why it is critical that pregnant women not be excluded from current Ebola vaccination strategies. Not only do pregnant women become infected with Ebola, but women appear to have higher rates of infection than men, either because of their traditional role as caregivers for ill family members or because of an increased susceptibility to the virus.
The risk for death is at least as high among Ebola-infected pregnant women as among women who are not pregnant, and may be higher. In addition to the risk posed to the pregnant woman herself, it is also important to consider the benefits and risks of vaccination for the fetus and newborn, since Ebola infection during pregnancy presents serious threats to their health: Pregnant women infected with Ebola are at very high risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death.
Given the risk of Ebola to pregnant women and their babies, the benefits of their receiving the vaccine to prevent Ebola illness and death are clear.
To be sure, weighing the potential risks of the vaccine on a pregnant woman and her fetus is complicated. No data are available on the effects of this experimental Ebola vaccine on pregnant women or on their fetuses. There are, however, many years of experience with other vaccines in pregnancy that may help frame this issue.
For many years, pregnant women in developing countries have been given the tetanus toxoid vaccine to prevent babies from dying of tetanus, and there is no evidence of harmful effects on the fetus. Inactivated influenza vaccine along with tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine (known collectively as Tdap) are routinely recommended during pregnancy. Not only have these vaccines been shown to be safe, but they have an added benefit: Antibodies produced by the mother cross the placenta to the fetus, providing the newborn with protection against influenza and pertussis, both deadly illnesses in infants, for the first few months of life.
The experimental Ebola vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine, and live vaccines have historically not been given during pregnancy because of the theoretical risk that the weakened virus might cross the placenta and infect the fetus. Yet when pregnant women have inadvertently been vaccinated with live vaccines, no harmful effects have been observed. And recommendations for one live vaccine '-- the yellow fever vaccine '-- emphasize weighing the risks and benefits for pregnant women, given the severity of illness potentially prevented by the vaccine.
Lessons from dolutegravir, a treatment for HIVA recent experience with a new HIV medication called dolutegravir offers some guidance here. Dolutegravir has been recognized as having many benefits for treatment of HIV, given its ability to clear the virus quickly and consistently with fewer side effects and lower cost. Yet its use was limited among pregnant women due to concerns about fetal safety.
In July of 2018, interim data from a study in Botswana suggested that women who take dolutegravir early in pregnancy might be at increased risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida or anencephaly. While waiting for more data, recommendations were made that women who are planning a pregnancy or who aren't using consistent contraception should not take dolutegravir.
Since then, modeling data have suggested that even if dolutegravir does cause neural tube defects, women are less likely to die and their children would be more likely to be alive and HIV-free if given this drug because its benefits outweigh the risks. Perhaps more important, following a stakeholder meeting of African women living with HIV to discuss the safety signal, the group issued this powerful consensus statement: ''It is critical to not just view a pregnant mother, or any women of childbearing potential, as a vessel for a baby, but as an individual in her own right, who deserves access to the very best, evidence-based treatment available and the right to be adequately informed to make a choice that she feels is best for her.''
Subsequent guidance for the use of dolutegravir has recognized this issue: The WHO currently recommends that women should be counseled regarding the potential benefits and risks of dolutegravir and allowed to choose to use it or an alternative drug.
For women at high risk for contracting Ebola, rVSV-ZEBOV represents an even more stark example of a potentially lifesaving intervention. Ebola kills women and their babies. There is an ethical obligation to not exclude women from a protective intervention like rVSV-ZEBOV because they are pregnant or lactating. They should be given the best available information to make a decision about being vaccinated and, if they choose to go forward, should be offered the Ebola vaccine regardless of pregnancy or lactation status.
Since the identification of thalidomide as a cause of limb defects in the 1960s, clinicians and researchers have emphasized protecting the fetus from harmful exposures. While this is a laudable goal, pregnancy shouldn't automatically exclude women from receiving lifesaving therapies. Pregnant women and their fetuses deserve the opportunity to be protected from severe disease and death. As with the general population, the focus needs to remain on the benefits of the intervention and whether those outweigh the potential risks.
Based on what is known about the severe effects of Ebola virus on a woman and her fetus and preliminary data on the effectiveness of the Ebola vaccine, the benefits of Ebola vaccine outweigh the potential risks, even during the first trimester when the fetus's organs are forming.
The way forward should be clear: The Ebola vaccine should be offered to lactating and pregnant women regardless of pregnancy trimester to protect women and their fetuses from severe illness and death.
Sonja A. Rasmussen, M.D., is a pediatrician and epidemiologist at the University of Florida College of Medicine and College of Public Health and Health Professions. Denise J. Jamieson, M.D., is an obstetrician-gynecologist at Emory University School of Medicine. Both previously worked for 20 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention responding to public health emergencies, including H1N1 influenza, Ebola, and Zika viruses.
NA Tech News
Uber Air set to take off in Australia with flying taxi trial in Melbourne - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 00:13
Updated June 12, 2019 16:38:24
Uber's plan to trial an aerial taxi service in Melbourne is technologically feasible but needs to be well regulated to avoid "absolute chaos", according to a civil engineering expert.
Key points:The service would use a network of small and electric aircraft using vertical take-off and landing technology (VTOL)A 2016 paper proposed using car park roofs and existing helipads to run the serviceThe Civil Aviation Safety Authority said there was a long list of hurdles to be cleared by UberThe global ridesharing giant's Uber Air pilot '-- which will also run in the US cities of Dallas and Los Angeles '-- aims to connect transport hubs like airports to central city sites.
The rideshare company said test flights were due to start from 2020 and plans were for commercial operations to begin from 2023.
Jake Whitehead, a University of Queensland researcher who specialises in transport, said the timeline was achievable from a technological perspective.
"We are very close to the point that battery technologies can support these kinds of smaller vehicles," Dr Whitehead said.
"What will be the challenge is the regulation.
"I'd hate to see us be in a position where it's a repeat of Uber ground vehicles where governments aren't adequately prepared for this technology, and aren't proactively working with these companies to look at how to make sure that we can benefit from this technology, and not end up in a situation where it's absolute chaos."
Dr Whitehead said Uber's "extremely aggressive" approach to entering new markets in the past should prompt governments to think carefully about what regulations are needed to preserve liveability.
"The reality is there are some downsides to this technology if it's a free-for-all and there are no rules in place."
Uber flags expansion to other Australian citiesThe announcement was made at Uber's Elevate summit in Washington after the deal was sealed with Melbourne Airport and companies Macquarie Capital, Scentre Group and Telstra.
"Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology," said Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia.
"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air.
"We will see other Australian cities following soon after."
The rideshare company has been a disruptor to traditional taxi services in Australia and is currently facing a class action lawsuit from taxi drivers.
Some Australian Uber drivers have protested over their pay and conditions, most recently joining a global protest in May.
Ms Anderson said Victoria's State Government had been "highly supportive" of the plans for the trial.
"Melbourne is one of the world's most liveable cities and importantly it's innovations like this that demonstrate that we're at the leading edge of new technologies," Treasurer Tim Pallas told the ABC.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) told ABC Radio Melbourne the authority would work with the company to ensure the service was safe before it started operating.
CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said the list of challenges for Uber was a long one:
The company would have to get a safety certification for the new battery-operated aircraft '-- which does not exist yetThe airspace they would use would have to be managed by authoritiesThe people operating the aircraft would need specialised trainingInfrastructure for the mini-airports does not yet existThe regional general manager of Uber Eats, Jodie Auster, conceded the days of pilotless flight were a long way off.
"There's a lot of work to do. An urban ridesharing network in the sky does not happen overnight. It's going to take some time," she said.
Trial to move away from 'noisy, inefficient' helicoptersA 2016 Uber Elevate paper described a network of small and electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically known as VTOL (vertical take-off and landing).
It proposed using sites like car parks roofs and existing helipads to run the service.
"The closest equivalent technology in use today is the helicopter," the paper said.
"But helicopters are too noisy, inefficient, polluting and expensive for mass-scale use."
VTOLs would make use of "autonomy technology" to reduce the risk of operator error.
Uber is certainly not the only company racing to take over the skies.
Airbus is trialling its own air taxi service using a prototype electric aircraft, similar to a drone, which can take off and land vertically.
German company Volocopter is set to test its own drone-based vehicles in Singapore later this year.
Air New Zealand has also said it is examining an autonomous electric air taxi service.
It would not be the first time Uber has offered an air service in Melbourne.
Uber Chopper subsidised $1,000 one-way helicopter flights from Batman Park to Flemington Racecourse during last year's Melbourne Cup Carnival.
First posted June 12, 2019 05:54:23
Contact James Hancock
More stories from Victoria
Banks scramble to fix old systems as IT 'cowboys' ride into sunset - Reuters
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:28
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bill Hinshaw is not a typical 75-year-old. He divides his time between his family '' he has 32 grandchildren and great-grandchildren '' and helping U.S. companies avert crippling computer meltdowns.
A worker guides the first shipment of an IBM System Z mainframe computer in Poughkeepsie, New York, U.S. March 6, 2015. Picture taken March 6, 2015. Jon Simon/IBM/Handout via REUTERS
Hinshaw, who got into programming in the 1960s when computers took up entire rooms and programmers used punch cards, is a member of a dwindling community of IT veterans who specialize in a vintage programming language called COBOL.
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The Common Business-Oriented Language was developed nearly 60 years ago and has been gradually replaced by newer, more versatile languages such as Java, C and Python. Although few universities still offer COBOL courses, the language remains crucial to businesses and institutions around the world.
In the United States, the financial sector, major corporations and parts of the federal government still largely rely on it because it underpins powerful systems that were built in the 70s or 80s and never fully replaced. (GRAPHIC: tmsnrt.rs/2nMf18G)
And here lies the problem: if something goes wrong, few people know how to fix it.
The stakes are especially high for the financial industry, where an estimated $3 trillion in daily commerce flows through COBOL systems. The language underpins deposit accounts, check-clearing services, card networks, ATMs, mortgage servicing, loan ledgers and other services.
The industry's aggressive push into digital banking makes it even more important to solve the COBOL dilemma. Mobile apps and other new tools are written in modern languages that need to work seamlessly with old underlying systems.
That is where Hinshaw and fellow COBOL specialists come in. A few years ago, the north Texas resident planned to shutter his IT firm and retire after decades of working with financial and public institutions, but calls from former clients just kept coming.
COWBOYS AND YOUNGSTERS In 2013, Hinshaw launched a new company COBOL Cowboys, which connects companies to programmers like himself. His wife Eileen came up with the name in a reference to ''Space Cowboys,'' a 2000 movie about a group of retired Air Force pilots called in for a trouble-shooting mission in space. The company's slogan? ''Not our first rodeo.''
Of the 20 ''Cowboys'' that work as part-time consultants many have reached retirement age, though there are some ''youngsters,'' Hinshaw said.
''Well, I call them youngsters, but they're in their 40s, early 50s.''
Experienced COBOL programmers can earn more than $100 an hour when they get called in to patch up glitches, rewrite coding manuals or make new systems work with old.
For their customers such expenses pale in comparison with what it would cost to replace the old systems altogether, not to mention the risks involved.
Antony Jenkins, the former chief executive of Barclays PLC, said for big financial institutions '' many of them created through multiple mergers over decades '' the problems banks face when looking to replace their old technology goes beyond a shrinking pool of experts.
''It is immensely complex,'' said Jenkins, who now heads startup 10x Future Technologies, which sells new IT infrastructure to banks. ''Legacy systems from different generations are layered and often heavily intertwined.''
Some bank executives describe a nightmare scenario in which a switch-over fails and account data for millions of customers vanishes.
The industry is aware, however, that it cannot keep relying on a generation of specialists who inevitably will be gone.
The risk is ''not so much that an individual may have retired,'' Andrew Starrs, group technology officer at consulting firm Accenture PLC, said. ''He may have expired, so there is no option to get him or her to come back.''
International Business Machines Corp, which sells the mainframe computers that run on COBOL, argues the future is not so bleak. It has launched fellowships and training programs in the old code for young IT specialists, and says it has trained more than 180,000 developers in 12 years.
''Just because a language is 50 years old, doesn't mean that it isn't good,'' said Donna Dillenberger, an IBM Fellow.
But COBOL veterans say it takes more than just knowing the language itself. COBOL-based systems vary widely and original programmers rarely wrote handbooks, making trouble-shooting difficult for others.
''Some of the software I wrote for banks in the 1970s is still being used,'' said Hinshaw.
That is why calls from stressed executives keep coming.
''You better believe they are nice since they have a problem only you can fix,'' he said. Hinshaw said the callers seem willing to pay almost any price and some even offer full-time jobs.
TURNING POINT Oliver Bussmann, former chief information officer of UBS AG, said banks usually tap into their networks of former employees to find COBOL experts. Accenture's Starrs said they go through a ''black book'' of programmer contacts, especially those laid off during or after the 2008 financial crisis.
The industry appears to be reaching an inflection point, though. In the United States, banks are slowly shifting toward newer languages taking cue from overseas rivals who have already made the switch-over.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, for instance, replaced its core banking platform in 2012 with the help of Accenture and software company SAP SE. The job ultimately took five years and cost more than 1 billion Australian dollars ($749.9 million).
Accenture is also working with software vendor Temenos Group AG to help Swedish bank Nordea make a similar transition by 2020. IBM is also setting itself up to profit from the changes, despite its defense of COBOL's relevance. It recently acquired EzSource, a company that helps programmers figure out how old COBOL programs work.
In the meantime, banks' scramble has revived careers of those who retired or were let go, and whose expertise, until recently, was considered obsolete.
Slideshow (5 Images) One COBOL programmer, now in his 60s, said his bank laid him off in mid-2012 as it turned to younger, less expensive employees trained in new languages.
In 2014, the programmer, who declined to be named to avoid jeopardizing current professional relationships, was brought in as a contractor to the same bank to fix issues management had not anticipated.
''The call back to the bank was something of a personal vindication for me,'' he said.
Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra and Tomasz Janowski
JOHN KIRIAKOU: Bolton's Long Goodbye '' Consortiumnews
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 22:04
John Bolton's days as national security advisor are apparently numbered'--for reasons that have all played out in the press, says John Kiriakou.
By John Kiriakou Special to Consortium News
E verybody in America knows that Donald Trump places a premium on what he considers to be ''loyalty.'' You're either with him or against him. The White House staff has been a revolving door from virtually the start of his administration. It's not unusual for aides to last mere weeks or months, only to then be thrown out on the street.
Trump then inevitably says something about ''loyalty.''
The situation isn't unique to just the White House political and domestic policy staff. It is just as pervasive at the National Security Council. Nobody is sacred. Remember, you're either with him or against him. Now it's John Bolton's turn to find himself in a corner. I believe that his days as national security advisor are numbered'--for reasons that have all played out in the press.
I'm one of those people'--not at all unique in Washington'--who has contacts and friends all over the political spectrum, including in the Trump Administration. After work and over drinks, they like to vent. What they are telling me privately is what other Washington insiders are telling the conservative press. The White House, and especially the National Security Council, are in disarray. And Bolton will soon be fired.
Bolton: On the way out?
The right-wing Washington Examiner reported this week that Bolton acknowledged these reports, but in a back-handed way. He said in a Wall Street Journal podcast that he believes five countries are spreading ''lies about dysfunction in the Trump administration.'' Those countries are North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and China. That's laughable.
What Bolton is saying is that there is a vast and incredibly well-coordinated international conspiracy that includes some of the most important countries in the world, the main purpose of which is to embarrass him. That sounds perfectly rational, right?
Of course, a more rational person might conclude that Bolton has done a terrible job, that the people around him have done a terrible job, that he has aired his disagreements with Trump in the media, and that the President is angry about it. That's the more likely scenario.
Here's what my friends are saying. Trump is concerned, like any president is near the end of his term, about his legacy. He said during the campaign that he wanted to be the president who pulled the country out of its two longest wars. He wanted to declare victory and bring the troops back from Afghanistan and Iraq. He hasn't done that, largely at the insistence of Bolton. Here we are three years later and we're still stuck in both of those countries.
Second, my friends say that Trump wants to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war, but that Bolton has been insistent that the only way to guarantee the closeness of the U.S. relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is to keep providing those countries with weapons, aerial refueling planes, and intelligence support.
Obsessed With Iran
That would explain the reason why the White House did not seek to block the recent Congressional vote on Yemen support. Bolton likely talked Trump into vetoing the resolution. Or he talked the Saudis into talking Trump into it. Still, at least in internal deliberations, Trump has said that he simply doesn't see a national security reason to keep the war going. The U.S. gets nothing out of it.
Third, the mainstream media has accused Bolton of being the reason behind the failure of Trump's second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Bolton towed a hard line, so much so that the North Korean media called him a ''war monger'' and a ''human defect'' once the summit ended.
This week Trump told reporters gathered on the White House south lawn that Kim had ''kept his word'' on nuclear and missile testing. This was a direct contradiction of Bolton, who had said just hours earlier that the North Koreans had reneged on their commitments to the U.S. Trump said simply, ''My people think there could have been a violation. I view it differently.''
Protest against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman outside Saudi-US CEO Forum in New York , March 27, 2018 (Ben Norton)
Most importantly, Bolton has been famous for decades for his irrationally hard line on Iran. He has made no secret of his desire to bomb Iran into the stone age, to smash and overthrow its government, and to let the chips fall where they may. The policy makes literally no sense.
Iran is a country of 80 million people. It has an active and well-trained global intelligence service. It has a robust navy with highly-specialized ''swift boats'' that are active in the Persian Gulf. And it controls the vital Strait of Hormuz , through which 20 percent of the world's oil and 33 percent of its liquified natural gas flows.
Trump said just a week ago that he was willing to begin talks with the Iranians ''with no preconditions.'' This was a major softening of U.S. policy toward Iran and it immediately drew Bolton's ire. Indeed, The New York Times pointed out that the policy directly ''overruled a longtime goal of (Trump's) national security advisor.''
All of this has made Trump angry. He's constantly being one-upped by one of the Washington swamp monsters he promised to rid the city of. He finally seems to have come to realize that even establishment Republicans dislike and distrust John Bolton. And now he understands why.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump's chief of staff, has very quietly and discreetly begun informal meetings with a list of a half-dozen possible replacements for Bolton. Let's hope he finds one that he and Trump both like sooner, rather than later.
John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act'--a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.
If you enjoyed this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.
Trains Good, Planes Bad
High-speed rail route took land from farmers. The money they're owed hasn't arrived - Los Angeles Times
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 10:55
John Diepersloot squinted under a bright Central Valley sun, pointing to the damage to his fruit orchard that came with the California bullet train.
He lost 70 acres of prime land. Rail contractors left mounds of rubble along his neat rows. Irrigation hoses are askew. A sophisticated canopy system for a kiwi field, supported by massive steel cables, was torn down.
But what really irritates Diepersloot is the $250,000 that he paid out of his own pocket for relocating wells, removing trees, building a road and other expenses.
''I am out a quarter-million bucks on infrastructure, and they haven't paid a dime for a year,'' he said. ''I don't have that kind of money.''
Up and down the San Joaquin Valley, farmers have similar stories. The state can take land with a so-called order of possession by the Superior Court while it haggles over the price.
But farmers often face out-of-pocket costs for lost production, road replacement, repositioning of irrigation systems and other expenses, which the state agrees to pay before the final settlement.
Those payments and even some payments for land have stretched out to three years. State officials have offered endless excuses for not paying, the farmers say.
Eminent domain, the legal process by which government takes private land, is complicated enough, particularly in California with a maze of agencies involved. But the rail authority's constantly changing plans, thin state staff and reliance on outside attorneys have made it more difficult, some say.
''They are bogged down,'' said Mark Wasser, an eminent domain attorney in Sacramento who has represented more than 70 farmers and other businesses losing land to the rail project. ''I would draw an analogy to Napoleon's invasion of Russia.''
Many government highway and rail projects end up seizing private land for the greater good, leaving owners angry about the disruption to their lives and the loss of something they worked hard to build. In California, the slow payments are adding to the farmers' frustration.
John Diepersloot's truck is parked on a swath of land cleared for the bullet train project. (Tomas Ovalle / For The Times)
Tim Raven, a walnut and almond grower, is owed $500,000, he told The Times. John Tos, a big grower who has waged a legal battle against the project, says the state owes him $150,000. Wasser says Brenda Church, a former client, has been owed $1.9 million for three years. Ray Carter, who voluntarily sold his farmland, says he has been owed $630,000 for three years.
Carter's brother-in-law, Vince Carter, also could not collect money for farm property that the California High-Speed Rail Authority took, which gave him a ''lot of frustration,'' Ray Carter said. ''He died of a heart attack. I think it played a role in what happened.''
Asked about the allegations of nonpayment, the rail authority issued a statement, though it did not explain why the problem existed.
''We understand the concerns of private property owners affected during the acquisition of their property '... and construction of the high-speed rail system,'' wrote Don Odell, the agency's director of real property. He added that the authority tried to minimize effects on farmers, cover their expenses and ensure they got fair-market value for land.
One problem was the agency's decision to issue construction contracts with only 15% of the rail design completed, a so-called design-build approach. With only preliminary designs of highway bridges, rail structures and utility relocations, it was difficult to know how much land would be needed and the degree to which farms would be hit.
In fact, the rail authority has had to go back to landowners hundreds of times for additional land or to discuss unforeseen effects on farms. In Diepersloot's case, the authority is building two perpendicular highway bridges to go over its rails along his property. That has created a 70-acre triangle that is inaccessible. And it had to pay in perpetuity a walnut farmer next door to allow Diepersloot to use his private farm road for access.
''I don't dislike trains,'' he said. ''I use them. But this one is a boondoggle.''
Some of these direct costs could have been avoided if the rail planners had paid closer attention a decade ago to what lay in the path of the planned rail route. A multimillion-dollar rendering plant is being rebuilt in Kings County. A possible redesign to avoid an oil terminal in Kern County could cause a $19-million delay. A cold packing house had to be relocated in Fresno. And other examples abound in just the first 119 miles of the route.
''They shouldn't have run this through the breadbasket of the state,'' Wasser said, echoing a sentiment of the rail system's critics that the state should have aligned the route adjacent to Interstate 5 and not through the nation's richest agricultural belt. California farmers grow more than half of the fresh peaches and almost all of the canned peaches that Americans eat.
The state relies on outside contractors to provide land agents, appraisers and surveyors, along with many other crucial functions necessary to buy farmland. The legal negotiations are handled by attorneys on loan from the California Department of Transportation, spread throughout the state. ''It does not work well. There are interagency tensions,'' Wasser said.
The rail authority's unusual relationship with consultants is another issue. The agency appointed attorney Odell as director of real property in September. Odell reports to a consultant, Kristina Assouri of WSP, whose title is chief of real property. Assouri reports up the line to WSP's Roy Hill, who is on suspension pending an ethics review. Hill reports to Chief Operating Officer Joe Hedges, a state employee.
Rail authority Chief Executive Brian Kelly said he had initiated a job-by-job review of such complicated lines of authority and hoped to streamline the organization, putting state employees in charge of key functions.
Neither Odell nor Assouri can sign a check. That function resides with the state controller after a payment goes through a tangled state bureaucracy.
Responding to an aggrieved businesswoman about a late payment this year, Assouri wrote an email that illustrated the cultural divide between Central Valley farm families and bureaucrats.
''Of paramount importance is the Authority's commitment and responsibility for ensuring that funds expended under any state contract are in compliance with the requirements and provisions of the stated contract, which includes but is not limited to state and federal law and the Authority's documented policies and procedures,'' Assouri wrote.
Raven, the walnut and almond grower, is getting hit harder than many others. He had to replace wells, lost a 100-acre crop of table grapes and had other costs, totaling about $500,000, he said.
''There is nobody to make a decision,'' he said. ''Nobody wants to make a mistake. Everybody wants to talk to somebody else. That's where we are.''
Ultimately, the ranch will have a 200-foot-wide scar. ''They are going through five miles of our property at an angle,'' Raven said. As a result, he and his crews will have to drive their tractors, sprayers and harvesting equipment up to five miles along county roads to get from one side of a field to the other.
''It is like cutting your house in half and having to go around the back to get to your kitchen,'' Raven said.
A sign stands next to land cleared for the bullet train. Farmer John Diepersloot says the state high-speed rail authority hasn't paid him for wells he had to relocate, fruit trees he had to remove and other costs. (Tomas Ovalle / For The Times)
Tos, the farmer who is waging a legal fight against the project, said that state agents during negotiations had shown a surprising lack of knowledge about agriculture. When the rail authority wanted a strip of his land for a temporary construction easement, an agent suggested that Tos transfer his mature walnut trees to pots for five years and then put them back in the ground.
''They don't know what a walnut tree is,'' Tos said.
The farmers feel their way of life is being upended. Diepersloot helped pioneer growing golden kiwi in the Central Valley, erecting a 20-acre canopy with a misting system that kept the fruit cool. About half of the ripe fruit was jetted overnight to Tokyo and other Asian cities, where he said it sold for top dollar. But the rail authority needed part of the land for its rail route and was willing to pay him to reengineer it. In January, he pulled down the canopy.
Diepersloot is a third-generation farmer. His three children attended top universities and then started their own Central Valley farms. He said the slow payments had forced him to tap his ''crop note,'' a bank loan that is used by almost every grower to cover operating costs.
''The bank knows what is going on and doesn't like it,'' he said. ''I have never done litigation. I am a farmer.''
Ever More Complex EU Gas Pipeline Geopolitics
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 08:22
Ever More Complex EU Gas Pipeline Geopolitics By F. William Engdahl4 May 2019 Image: Construction of TAP pipeline in Albania Credit: By Albinfo - Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://bit.ly/2V3CIcY License: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Some Rights Reserved https://bit.ly/2f0aOjs
Israel plans to construct the world's longest underwater gas pipeline together with Cyprus and Greece to carry Eastern Mediterranean gas on to Italy and the EU southern states. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has just endorsed the project. It will run smack up against a competing Turkish-Russian gas pipeline, Turk Stream, against a potential Qatari-Iran-Syria pipeline, as well as de facto undercut the Washington attempt to get more US LNG gas to the EU to reduce Russian dependency.
The project, under discussion for several years since Israel discovered major gas reserves in the offshore Leviathan Field, is known as the East Med Pipeline Project. Natural gas will flow from Leviathan via Cyprus, Crete and Greece to reach its terminal at Otranto on the southeast heel of Italy. Plans call for a pipeline of 2,100 kilometers running three kilometers deep under the Mediterranean. Cost is estimated at $7 billion with a five year construction period.
New Fault Lines
The East Med is part of a complex of new geopolitical fault lines across the entire Middle East. Notable is the fact that the Gulf Arab Emirate, UAE, has already invested $100 million in a project the Jerusalem Post calls, ''a covert cornerstone underpinning the change in relationship between parts of the Arab world and the Jewish State.'' This would seem to be a reference to the 2017 proposal of the US to create an ''Arab NATO'' with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states, backed by Israeli intelligence input, to counter the influence of Iran in the region. Little is said today about any Arab NATO, but ties between Netanyahu's Israel and key Sunni Muslim Arab countries remain strong.
One regional player definitely not happy about the proposed Israeli East Med pipeline is Erdogan's Turkey. When Israel first proposed East Med two years ago, Erdogan quickly turned to Russia to sign a deal to build the Gazprom's Turk Stream to rival Israel. East Med would tie into gas fields in the Greek EU part of Cyprus. In recent months Erdogan has moved Turkey closer to Iran and especially Qatar, home to key figures in the Muslim Brotherhood, as tensions with Saudi Arabia and Israel increase. The Sunni vs Shi'ite conflict seems to take a back seat to geopolitical power and control of pipelines.
In summer 2017 there was a dramatic split among Gulf Arab countries with Saudi Arabia declaring an embargo against Qatar for its ''support of terrorism.'' In reality, the move was aimed at cutting growing back-channel talks between Qatar and Iran, both of whom share the world's largest natural gas field in the Persian Gulf. The Qatari section is called North Field and its LNG is said to be the world's cheapest to extract, making Qatar in recent years the largest LNG exporter. The adjoining Iran section is called South Pars.
After spending a reported $3 billion financing anti-Assad and anti-Iran terrorist groups in Syria, in a futile try to get a pipeline through Syria to Turkey and on to the huge EU gas market, it seems that the shifty Qataris at some point, after Russia's decisive entry into the Syria war in late 2015, realized it might gain more by shifting sides and covertly working with Iran and Assad and Erdogan to bring both Qatari and Iran gas to market. That was the real reason for the sharp break between Qatar and the Saudis. Notable is the fact that both Iran and Turkey came to the aid of Qatar when the Saudis tried to embargo them into submission.
Russia's Turk Stream
Adding to the geopolitical cocktail of competing interests, the Black Sea sections of the Russia-Turkey gas pipeline were completed at the end of 2018 with full operation to begin later in 2019, offering 31.5 billion cubic meters of gas annually, half, some 16 bcm, available for the EU markets. Turk Stream, as does North Stream, both allow Russian gas to the EU independent of politically hostile Ukraine pipeline routes. From the Kiyikoy terminal in Turkey, the Russian gas can go either to EU member Bulgaria or Greece or both.
Non-EU member Serbia has just begun construction of its section of the TurkStream pipeline to carry Russian natural gas to Europe. Serb Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic recently in Moscow said Serbia's plans for the construction of the gas conduit did not hinge on Bulgaria's own work. TurkStream will carry Russian gas through Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary. Brussels is not overjoyed.
Now comes Israel into play, in a closer friendship with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, backed by Washington, with financing also from a French company, IGI Poseidon, a subsidiary of Edison, offering another rival option to Qatar and Iran and Turkey as well as to Russia. Turkey is threatening to drill for oil and gas in the Turkish part of Cyprus while Lebanon disputes the offshore claims of Israel's pipeline to Cyprus. And ExxonMobil just announced a major gas discovery in the offshore Cyprus waters disputed between Turkey and Greek or EU Cyprus.
It doesn't need a crystal ball to see that future geopolitical energy conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean are being pre-programmed. Watch this space'...
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine''New Eastern Outlook''
Sajid Javid signs US extradition order for Julian Assange | Media | The Guardian
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 12:25
British home secretary says final decision on WikiLeaks founder is 'now with the courts'
Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van last month.Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty ImagesThe home secretary, Sajid Javid, has revealed he has signed a request for Julian Assange to be extradited to the US where he faces charges of computer hacking.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday, Javid said: ''He's rightly behind bars. There's an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow.''
Javid's decision opens the way to the court sending the WikiLeaks founder to the US. Assange faces an 18-count indictment, issued by the US Department of Justice, that includes charges under the Espionage Act. He is accused of soliciting and publishing classified information and conspiring to hack into a government computer.
Javid said: ''It is a decision ultimately for the courts, but there is a very important part of it for the home secretary and I want to see justice done at all times and we've got a legitimate extradition request, so I've signed it, but the final decision is now with the courts.''
The 47-year-old Australian was too ill to appear last month at a hearing at Westminster magistrates court in relation to the US request. The hearing has been rescheduled for Friday, and depending on Assange's condition, may take place at Belmarsh prison where he is being held.
June 2010 ''
October 2010WikiLeaks releases about 470,000 classified military documents concerning American diplomacy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It later releases a further tranche of more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.
November 2010A Swedish prosecutor issues a European arrest warrant for Assange over sexual assault allegations involving two Swedish women. Assange denies the claims.
February 2011A British judge rules that Assange can be extradited to Sweden. Assange fears Sweden will hand him over to US authorities who could prosecute him.
November 2016Assange is questioned in a two-day interview over the allegations at the Ecuadorian embassy by Swedish authorities.
January 2018Britain refuses Ecuador's request to accord Assange diplomatic status, which would allow him to leave the embassy without being arrested.
11 April 2019Police arrest Assange at the embassy on behalf of the US after his asylum was withdrawn. He is charged by the US with 'a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.'
Javid's decision follows news last week that an attempt to extradite Assange to Sweden had had a setback after a court in Uppsala said he did not need to be detained.
The ruling by the district court prevented Swedish prosecutors from applying immediately for an extradition warrant for Assange to face an allegation of rape dating back to 2010. Assange denies the accusation.
Assange is serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for skipping bail after he spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London attempting to avoid extradition to Sweden.
Swedish prosecutors dropped their rape investigation in 2017 but reopened it after Ecuador rescinded its offer of asylum to Assange in April this year and allowed British police to arrest him.
Thomas Garner, an extradition lawyer at Gherson Solicitors, said Javid's certification of the request was ''an important though merely procedural step'' to start the extradition process.
''I would expect the court to set a preliminary timetable for the extradition process tomorrow,'' he said. ''It is likely to be many months before any hearing at the magistrates court and of course either side may then seek to appeal that decision in due course. Despite this, the Swedish authorities will be monitoring the process carefully as the further down the line the US proceedings get the harder it might become for the home secretary to give precedence to any competing request.''
Elaine Chao and Mitch McConnell's potential conflict of interest, explained - Vox
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 12:01
While referencing infrastructure projects this past April, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a seemingly charming quip about his personal life. ''My roommate has been involved in this issue for a couple of years,'' he said, when asked about a potential funding package to overhaul the country's crumbling roads and bridges. The ''roommate'' he's referring to is, of course, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who also happens to be his wife.
Although this reference was intended as a joke in his April remarks, a recent Politico story casts the effect of their personal ties in a potentially more nefarious light.
The report, from Tucker Doherty and Tanya Snyder, notes that Chao has overseen the allocation of nearly $80 million in federal grants to Kentucky during her time as transportation secretary, designating a special intermediary to help the state navigate this funding process, a resource that few states have. It raises questions about whether Chao '-- who oversees funding for everything from highway construction to port development at the Department of Transportation '-- was treating Kentucky differently due to her relationship with McConnell.
DOT refuted such implications in the piece, though ethics experts note that Chao and McConnell's relationship make such grant allocations '-- and concerns about if there was favoritism involved '-- especially murky.
What's more, the concerns about Chao and ethical impropriety isn't limited to these grants. Just last week, a New York Times story highlighted how Chao had attempted to include members of her family, who own a major shipping company, in meetings with Chinese officials that she was set to attend as a Cabinet secretary. Those meetings were ultimately canceled in the wake of concerns voiced by some US government officials, though another trip was scheduled at a later date.
While Donald Trump made ''Drain the Swamp'' one of his rallying mantras in 2016, many of the Cabinet officials he's appointed have proven to be doing just the opposite.
According to ProPublica, at least 188 former lobbyists have been appointees in the Trump administration. Additionally, several Cabinet officials including former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, have been ousted for their attempts to use their power '-- and federal dollars '-- to secure everything from chartered flights to extensive security detail.
Now Chao is the latest administration official under scrutiny.
Ethical questions about McConnell, Chao, and Kentucky infrastructure grants, briefly explainedAccording to the Politico report, questions about ethical conflicts center on the number of grants DOT has approved for projects in Kentucky, many of which could benefit McConnell politically as he hits the campaign trail for his 2020 reelection bid in the southern state.
Chao has helped greenlight at least $78 million in grants for construction projects in Kentucky, Doherty and Snyder write. Additionally, she helped designate a special go-between that worked with McConnell's office on Kentucky-related projects:
Chao's aide Todd Inman, who stated in an email to McConnell's Senate office that Chao had personally asked him to serve as an intermediary, helped advise the senator and local Kentucky officials on grants with special significance for McConnell '-- including a highway-improvement project in a McConnell political stronghold that had been twice rejected for previous grant applications.
Other states do not have access to such an intermediary, Politico noted, suggesting that Inman's role may have helped advance priorities important to Kentucky that would also happen to be politically favorable to McConnell.
In response to the piece, McConnell argued in a statement to Politico that he saw his role as both a top Senate lawmaker and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee helping raise Kentucky's profile and garner benefits for his constituents. In that statement, however, he did not acknowledge his wife's role as transportation secretary.
''Every single day, Kentuckians from across the Commonwealth contact me with their concerns,'' McConnell said. ''As Senate Majority Leader and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I am able to ensure that these issues '-- both large and small '-- are part of the national discussion.''
Meanwhile, a representative from the Transportation Department told Politico that the grants that were allocated to projects in Kentucky, including $67 million to fix roads in Boone County, made up a small fraction of those that had been doled out during Chao's time as secretary. According to the spokesperson, Kentucky had received just five of 169 grants that had been given to different states.
''This online post intentionally misleads readers, misrepresenting the grant application process and disregarding key facts,'' a spokesperson for the DOT told the Hill.
Ethics experts say Chao and McConnell's relationship makes these grants murkierEthics experts say that Chao and McConnell's efforts on this subject don't look great, but that more evidence would likely be needed to identify a definitive ethics violation.
''There's nothing illegal about her steering those funds to her husband's home state, and her home state, as long as things are aboveboard,'' the Brookings Institution's John Hudak explained to Politico. ''The question, though, is how do you deal with conflicts of interests? And this is a clear conflict. ... Even if it's not legally so, these are political offices, so the optics of this are important. In a business setting, you would put firewalls up to prevent those types of bad optics.''
''At this point, we don't have enough information to say that it's a criminal violation. It smells bad, but if and until we have more information, I would not be able to say that we're looking at a slam-dunk,'' George Washington University law lecturer Jessica Tillipman told Vox.
Tillipman added, however, that there are steps Chao could have taken to avoid this scrutiny. '-- for example, consulting the independent ethics officials that each federal agency has who can vet various efforts for potential conflicts.
Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics, was among those who had a much harsher take, however, suggesting that such activity could ''lead to the impeachment of a corrupt official.''
This is the sort of thing that should lead to the impeachment of a corrupt official -- that is, if her corrupt husband weren't in a position to block that impeachment. We are now a full-fledged banana republic. We have nothing to teach the rest of the world except what not to be. https://t.co/UbLPaGM9nK
'-- Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) June 10, 2019Before any sort of definitive action like that could be taken, however, Tillipman noted that more evidence might be needed. The Trump administration, previously, has dragged its feet on offenses by other Cabinet-level officials and only acted when much of the information became overwhelming. ''This administration has seemed to turn a blind eye to these allegations in the past, unless it's become untenable like a Pruitt, [former Interior Secretary Ryan] Zinke, or Price,'' she said.
The focus on Chao and McConnell's relationship also comes as Democrats dial up their attention on political corruption, a cornerstone of their landmark HR 1 bill, which would give the Office of Government Ethics more enforcement capabilities. Democrats will likely hammer McConnell on ethics questions as 2020 approaches, though it's unclear how much of an impact it would actually have on his candidacy given Kentucky's strong Republican lean.
''It certainly can't help him, and I'm certain his opponents will try to use it,'' says Tillipman. Still, ''it's a really red state, so I think it's a high hurdle,'' she added.
President Trump Delivers Public and Coded Message to Chairman Xi Jinping'... | The Last Refuge
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 11:08
On Tuesday afternoon President Trump was asked a question by media about Kim Jong Un. President Trump responded to the question, and simultaneously delivered an openly coded message to Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping that few would understand:
[Transcript] Q (Inaudible) about your meeting with Kim Jong Un while you're in South Korea? Are there discussions underway?
THE PRESIDENT: So, I see that. And I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un, and I think the relationship is very well. But I appreciated the letter. I saw the information about the CIA, with respect to his brother, or half-brother. And I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices, that's for sure. I wouldn't let that happen under my auspices.
But I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un. I can't show you the letter, obviously, but it was a very personal, very warm, very nice letter. I appreciate it.
And I'll say it again: I think that North Korea has tremendous potential, and he'll be there. I think that North Korea, under his leadership '-- but North Korea, because of what it represents '-- the people are great, the land is great, the location is incredible between Russia, China, and South Korea '-- I think North Korea has tremendous potential. And the one that feels that more than anybody is Kim Jong Un. He gets it. He totally gets it.
Q (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know. I have not heard about that, but we'll see.
Q (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: I would, but I want to get it further advanced.
In the meantime, no nuclear testing. No major missile testing. Nothing like when I first got here. When I first got here, it was a bad mess.
We have a very good relationship together. Now I can confirm it because of the letter I got yesterday. And I think '-- you know, I think that something will happen that's going to be very positive. But in the meantime, we have our hostages back. The remains keep coming back. We have a relationship.
Q Do you think he had his half-brother killed? Do you think he had his half-brother killed?
Q Are you saying that the CIA (inaudible) was wrong?
Q Was the CIA wrong? Did he have his half-brother killed?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know anything about that. I know this: That the relationship is such that that wouldn't happen under my auspices. But I don't know about that. Nobody knows.
Q Any plan, any thought, about another meeting with Kim Jong Un?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it could happen, but I want to bring it further down the line.
Look, in the meantime, he's kept his word. There's no nuclear testing, there's no large, you know, long-range missiles going up. The only thing he sent up were very short-term, short-range. That was just a test of short range. It's a whole different deal.
But he's kept his word to me; that's very important. And again, the letter he sent was a beautiful letter. It was a very warm letter. That's a very nice thing. And I don't say that out of naivet(C). I say that was a very nice letter. (link)
The media immediately began criticizing President Trump for saying he received a ''beautiful letter'' from chairman Kim Jong Un who the media have labeled a brutal dictator. However, what everyone has missed, for over two years, is the hostage dynamic.
China controls North Korea as a proxy province. Beijing also controls the top-tier of the DPRK military leadership. In essence, North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un is a hostage to the manipulative interests of Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping.
Beijing uses the DPRK as a military foil against western influence. It's not Chairman Kim in charge of the North Korean missile tests; it's Chinese Chairman Xi'.... And almost no-one understands that dynamic.
When you understand the hostage dynamic, and you evaluate President Trump's public response today, you also find the stunning answer to a long-standing question: Who killed Kim Jong Nam?'...
(VIA CBS) The 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the older half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, was recorded by security cameras. Two women came up behind him one at a time and rubbed chemicals over his face, which combined to make the deadly nerve agent VX.
At the time, it was assumed North Korea's ruthless leader had simply eliminated a potential rival. But now, the plot surrounding Kim Jong Nam has thickened.
''He seemed to be short on money in his final years, so he had been supplying information about North Korea to the CIA,'' said Anna Fifield, the Beijing bureau chief for The Washington Post.
Fifield has written a new book about Kim Jong Un. In it, she suggests that Kim Jong Nam, who spent most of his life living in exile outside North Korea, might actually have been returning from a meeting with his CIA handler when he was killed.
''On the day he was killed, he was found with $120,000 in cash in his little backpack and so that may have been as a payment for his services,'' she said.
CBS News could not independently confirm Fifield's reporting and the CIA has no comment. So the bizarre life and death of Kim Jong Nam is likely to remain one of the many mysteries surrounding North Korea. (read more)
If Kim Jong Nam was recruited by the CIA, due to the dynamic of China covertly controlling Chairman Kim Jong Un as a hostage, then it's almost a guarantee Jong Nam was assassinated by China in an effort to remove an intelligence emissary who might work to enhance hostage rescue efforts with the Trump administration.
But President Trump did something in 2018 China did not expect. U.S. President Trump openly engaged in direct face-to-face talks with Chairman Kim. Essentially, President Trump entered the hostage chamber and the Chinese control agents were cut out of the private discussion.
So when President Trump said:
'...''I saw the information about the CIA, with respect to his brother, or half-brother. And I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices, that's for sure. I wouldn't let that happen under my auspices.'''...
In essence President Trump is saying, he has put nothing between himself and Chairman Kim. There is no concern of intelligence compromise on Trump's side of the dynamic. There is no risk from Trump's end; and there is no need for an intermediary'... Kim is safe with Trump.
The hostage rescuer is talking directly to the hostage; and both are clear-eyed about the dynamic of who is the terror agent,.. Chairman Xi Jinping. But the world can't yet see it.
More stunningly, by his remarks today President Donald Trump just let Chairman Xi Jinping know through open -albeit coded- public comments, that he is aware China killed Chairman Kim Jong-un's half brother.
When you look at all of the activity through the correct lens, every irreconcilable action suddenly makes sense.
Additionally, when you know the correct context you can look at the action of China against the backdrop that Chairman Xi is aware President Trump knows the historic manipulation of North Korea by Beijing; and their control over the people around Kim Jong Un.
Quite remarkable.
[SIDEBAR '' Now the role of former CIA Director and now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, takes on more importance. It also makes sense why the 'government' of North Korea, the covert Chinese agents within Kims' government, said they no longer wanted to work with Pompeo. It's not Chairman Kim making that decision; it's the Chinese agents within his government.]
It's highly likely the recent conflicts about Kim Jong Un officials being killed or sent to labor camps is directly related to Beijing taking action to disrupt any assembly of allies close to Chairman Kim.
Xi (China) needs to keep Kim (DPRK) isolated in order to try and retain the increasingly important covert leverage of North Korea. Given the conflict between the U.S. and China, Beijing cannot give up the usefulness of their covert control over North Korea.
VIDEO - Trump holds joint press conference with Polish president - YouTube
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 14:51
VIDEO - Glacier National Park climate fraud - YouTube
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 11:57
VIDEO - Trump says he may not alert FBI if info is offered by foreigners on 2020 candidates - YouTube
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 09:07
VIDEO - Sky News on Twitter: "The US navy is assisting two oil tankers that may have attacked in the Gulf of Oman. Our defence correspondent @AliBunkallSKY says the attacker is unknown, but says fingers are being pointed at Iran. Get updates on this devel
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 08:57
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VIDEO - Molly Prince on Twitter: ".@AOC defends a $4,500 pay raise for herself: "It's not even like a raise."'... "
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 02:06
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VIDEO - Proof SpaceX Changed & Edited Their Live Stream Falcon Heavy Launch - YouTube
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 02:05
VIDEO - Wack 100 leaks Mike Tyson Fight Footage On INSTAGRAM ?? - YouTube
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 01:46
VIDEO - Whistleblower: Pinterest has anti-Christian, anti-pro life bias
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 01:45
Former Pinterest engineer Eric Cochran speaks out about the tech giant on 'Tucker Carlson Tonight.'
VIDEO - Change My Mind Google Edition: Hate Speech Q&A | Louder With Crowder - YouTube
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 01:40
VIDEO - Pence rainbow flag ban: Vice President Mike Pence defends decision to ban Pride flags from flying at U.S. embassies during LGBTQ Pride Month - CBS News
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 01:27
Pence says no Pride flags at embassies
Vice President Mike Pence confirmed reports that Pride flags had been banned from U.S. embassies, and expressed his support for the administration's decision. June is Pride Month, and in an interview with NBC's Kristen Welker, the vice president said four embassies' requests to fly rainbow flags, which symbolize LGBTQ pride, were denied.
"I'm aware that the State Department indicated that on the flagpole of our American embassies, one flag should fly, and that's the American flag. And I support that," Pence said.
Welker pressed him about President Trump's tweet in support of LGBTQ Pride Month, and whether it contradicts the rainbow flag ban.
As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals....
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2019"As the president said on the night we were elected, we're proud to be able to serve every American, and we both feel that way very passionately," said Pence, who signed legislation that was widely criticized for enabling anti-gay discrimination when he was governor of Indiana.
"But when it comes to the American flagpole at American embassies and American capitals around the world, having the one American flag fly, I think is the right decision," Pence continued. "And we put no restrictions on displaying any other flags or any other displays at our embassies beyond that."
U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is among those whose request to fly a Pride flag was rejected, NBC News reported. Grenell, who is openly gay, is also spearheading a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in countries around the world. The Trump appointee didn't appear to feel any bad blood after his Pride flag was rejected '-- he publicly wished Pence a happy birthday on Twitter on June 7.
Happy 60th Birthday to @Vp Mike Pence! We hope you have an amazing day surrounded by family and friends (minus two living in Berlin). pic.twitter.com/LcFAv3KNNt
'-- Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 7, 2019Pence, however, is not considered an ally of the LGBTQ community. Recently, the vice president has clashed with fellow Indiana politician and current presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg , who is openly gay. Buttigieg has criticized Pence for his opposition to gay marriage and gay rights, which Pence claims is informed by his Christian faith.
"I don't have a problem with religion, I'm religious too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people," Buttigieg said of Pence in April.
Pete Buttigieg criticizes Mike Pence for his stance on gay marriage, cites his own religious beliefsIn 2015, when both men were serving in Indiana, then-Governor Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that allowed people to cite religious reasons for refusing to serve gay people. (After widespread protests and boycotts, the state passed an amendment intended to bar such discrimination.)
The vice president's wife, Karen Pence, also came under fire after taking a job at the Immanuel Christian School in northern Virginia, which bars employees from engaging in homosexual activity and does not condone "transgender identity," according to its employment application. The school also requires a "parent agreement" saying it will not admit students who participate in or condone homosexual activity.
Several human rights and LGBTQ advocacy groups have spoken out about Vice President Pence's track record and the decision to ban Pride flags from embassies.
Shocking no one: Mike Pence wants to stop #Pride flags from being flown over U.S. embassies.
Unfortunately, this latest move just underscores Pence's dangerous anti-LGBTQ agenda. Get the facts: https://t.co/KBgTPhKSj6 https://t.co/du4QTcimyR
'-- Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) June 11, 2019 Because of course he did.https://t.co/DKDKqHspMf#LGBT #LGBTQ
'-- Gay Civil Rights (@gaycivilrights) June 10, 2019
VIDEO - Samuel L. Jackson Unimpressed by 2020 Democrats: 'Wish' Stacey Abrams Would Run '' True Pundit
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 14:45
Leftwing Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson on Monday expressed empathy toward the crowded 2020 Democrat field, saying he wishes that failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D-GA) would challenge President Donald Trump for the White House.Appearing on CBS's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Samuel L. Jackson said that he has ''not yet'' found any of the 24 Democrats running for president that floats his boat. ''I just haven't been inspired by what everybody's trying to do, say, prove '-- whatever,'' said the Avengers: Endgame actor.
''I kinda wish somebody as people-friendly in my mind as Stacey Abrams was running,'' he continued, prompting several cheers from the audience.
Despite his lack of enthusiasm for the 2020 field, Jackson assured that he's ''definitely voting with the resistance whatever happens. Let there be no doubt.'' '' READ MORE
VIDEO - Michael Birchler on Twitter: "@adamcurry victoria neuland involved in RussiaGate'... "
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 07:29
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VIDEO - The ''Dirty'' Truth ' on Twitter: ".@SaraCarterDC says her State Department Source said the Genesis of this investigation will begin and end with members of the State Department.'... https://t.co/SgVlcso4jR"
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 03:35
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VIDEO - Mini-AOC releases 're-election video' mocking the New York congresswoman | Fox News
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 02:40
Ava Martinez, the 8 year-old who impersonates Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., released another video on Tuesday in which she mocks the freshman congresswoman's knowledge of socialism.
"Hello, like, I'm AOC, because I can't spell Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. So, it turns out socialism is not short for social media," Martinez said, while wearing lipstick and glasses similar to the real Ocasio-Cortez.
"I should have known it wasn't short for social media because the only other socialist is a 93-year-old man from Vermont," she said, referring to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. "There's no way Bernie's Instagram is lit."
The video accompanied a tweet listing a series of fake slogans that seemed to take shots at Ocasio-Cortez's inexperience and her climate change warnings.
"AOC in 2023!" one slogan read, apparently implying that Ocasio-Cortez wouldn't know when the next midterm election would occur.
Although Ocasio-Cortez is not running for president in 2020, she appeared to be influential in the race. Both Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., reportedly vied for her endorsement and former Vice President Joe Biden tied his climate change plan to Ocasio-Cortez's so-called Green New Deal.
Republicans have invoked Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez to focus attention on what they see as Dems' growing "socialist" influences.
In Tuesday's video, "Mini AOC" said she'd finally realized how bad socialism was, asking, "Who would anyone want the government running their life?"
"I work in government and like, I had to get a new computer because my old one had so much white-out on the screen. Would you want me running your life?" she asked.
In another video posted in April, Martinez took aim at Ocasio-Cortez's stance on climate change. ''Like, in July, the climate was 96 degrees and in February the climate was 36 degrees. OMG, like that's a huge change in the climate," she said.
VIDEO - 'This is psychotic': Pro-abort train wreck Kirsten Gillibrand gives 'one of the worst answers to a Q about abortion ever' [video] '' twitchy.com
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 19:49
Kirsten Gillibrand's poll numbers are in the toilet '... maybe this will help endear her to more Americans:
Kirsten Gillibrand compared pro-life beliefs to racism and suggested the pro-life viewpoint is "not acceptable" during an interview with the Des Moines Register https://t.co/B2Cvvgnt6e pic.twitter.com/Knr4h5OvVh
'-- Jeff Cimmino (@jeffcimmino) June 11, 2019
Wow. Just '... wow.
Who is this psycho?
'-- Dolph Kearney (@DolphKearney) June 11, 2019
One of the worst answers to a Q about abortion ever https://t.co/rNpjTRGOyN
'-- Allahpundit (@allahpundit) June 11, 2019
I thought this tweet had to be overselling it, but her answer is even more incoherent and terrifying than that sounds. https://t.co/eUrCBamU7U
'-- Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) June 11, 2019
Gillibrand ''[respects] the rights of every American to hold their religious beliefs true to themselves.'' She really could've fooled us, given clear animosity toward pro-life Christians as well as her persistent dismissal of all the non-Christians who are also pro-life.
Yeh, my belief that unborn children should not be murdered would exist w/o religion. Bold strategy though.
'-- Tricky Ricky Faceshot (@ES615) June 11, 2019
do they know that a person can be anti abortion for secular reasons?
'-- juzbcuz (@juzbcuz2) June 11, 2019
Gillibrand knows; she just doesn't care. Putting pro-life beliefs on par with racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia is not something a serious, intellectually honest person does.
Being pro-life is as unacceptable as being a racist, according to people purporting to be our moral betters. https://t.co/ULilJ8XxLu
'-- The Motriarchy (@molratty) June 11, 2019
There is never enough abortion happening for these people.
'-- Dent In The World 🚁🤸 (@dentintheworld) June 11, 2019
She's an embarrassment
'-- Pucks n' Pigskin ðŸ'🏠(@PigskinAndPucks) June 11, 2019
This is psychotic. https://t.co/7nXqjXdKed
'-- Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) June 11, 2019
Shes a ghoul
'-- DoctorZack ­'¸ (@drzack87) June 11, 2019
I'm pro choice'...and this is pretty awful. Gillibrand can't slink away soon enough.
'-- John Cole (@ChessNGraps) June 11, 2019
Huh? Kirsten Gillibrand's take on pro-life Democrats should come as news to a lot pro-lifers
VIDEO - As 9/11 first responders face cuts to health care, Jon Stewart returns to the public eye to fight - ABC News
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 19:37
Flanked by first responders suffering from cancer, illness and injuries incurred from working at Ground Zero on the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, comedian Jon Stewart delivered a message on Capitol Hill Monday he has pushed on Congress, with growing frustration, for almost two decades now: Give 9/11 first responders the health care they deserve.
Interested in September 11th? Add September 11th as an interest to stay up to date on the latest September 11th news, video, and analysis from ABC News.The Victim Compensation Fund, first funded in 2001 and then, after more fights on Capitol Hill, again in 2010 and 2015, has provided compensation for New York Fire and Police Department first responders, as well not innocent bystanders, who breathed the harmful air full of toxic particles that day. Those chemicals are now known to have caused chronic, deadly illness.
But the VCF is now running out of money again, as the rate of illness and cancer among 9/11 survivors increases, and Congress must pass another bill to secure more funding.
A bill in 2011 dedicated $7.3 billion to the compensation fund -- but those funds are up against staggering, growing numbers: Since 9/11, 200 firefighters have died from 9/11 related ailments, almost surpassing the 300 firefighters who died on the day of the attack.
The message from Stewart, 9/11 responders and the bipartisan senators and representatives who introduced the bill was simple: Stop bringing these New Yorkers back to the Hill to rehash the same fight.
"This is nonsense. You guys know it, I know it. This is theater. We're all down here today, there's no reason to have dragged these people down here, there's no reason to have these conversations," Stewart said, somberly adding that it should be as simple to fund this previously-passed bill as it is to refill a Starbucks card.
"This is your opportunity to write a final chapter for these men and women who fought for 18 years -- they fought when nobody believed they were sick, they fought when nobody believed their sickness was caused by 9/11, they fought when nobody thought their health care was worth paying for, they fought every step of the way. And it is an embarrassment to us and our country," Stewart said.
Stewart urged members of the press not to talk to the public officials supporting the bill -- including New York Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler and Republican Rep. Peter King, N.Y. -- but to instead get the survivors with him to share their stories while they still could.
"We've brought friends down here before and they're not here anymore, so get their stories out now so people can understand what the true cost of this is to these families," Stewart said of the men and women who have passed away from 9/11-related illnesses.
One such story came from Karen Gaines, the wife of fallen firefighter Scott Gaines, who died of tonsil cancer in 2017.
"I stand before you as a widow and part of a growing community I never thought would exist," Gaines said.
"My husband died waiting for the VCF and believing that this country was going to stand here and protect his family when he couldn't. So, I only stand as one person, but representing a much larger community that desperately needs Congress' help to please fully fund the VCF," she said.
Stewart, who said he wouldn't comment on any other matters related to the president, made a point to say how well the program was going under the current Justice Department. It was working so well, in fact, the funds were running out, Stewart said.
The new bill, Gillibrand said, would not have a cap on funds and is written to allow for "all sums deemed necessary."
John Feal, an advocate and 9/11 first responder who lost part of his foot in the aftermath of the attack, said he'd been to Washington seven times since October, when the VCF first warned there were insufficient funds to meet all the claims through the initial 2020 expiration date for the funding. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Feal estimated he'd attended over 1,400 meetings in 15 years to secure the federal funds, adding up to "more tenure and more time than most freshmen congressman on the Hill."
Feal, frustrated and quick with his speech, gave thanks to his supporters, from Stewart to Gillibrand, but pointed the attention to his sick friends and colleagues. Public officials were destined to leave Washington or switch to different issues -- but he pledged to keep walking the halls in the days and weeks to come.
"I'm in the mood for a fight -- and we're going to get us a bill this year," Feal said. "You're either with us or you're against us."
VIDEO - Exclusive interview: Google CEO Sundar Pichai defends YouTube practices - YouTube
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 19:30
VIDEO - Sex Work Would Be Broadly Legal in New York Under New Bill Introduced Monday - NBC New York
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 11:59
The bill removes penalties for buying and selling sex in many casesPublished Jun 10, 2019 at 11:12 AM | Updated at 2:58 PM EDT on Jun 10, 2019 NEWSLETTERS Receive the latest local updates in your inboxSex work would be broadly legalized in New York state under a first-of-its-kind bill introduced by state legislators on Monday. (Published Monday, June 10, 2019)
What to KnowNew York would be the first state to broadly legalize sex work under a new proposal introduced MondayThe bill's sponsors say legalizing sex work would cut down on sex traffickingUnder the new law, in many cases both buying and selling sex would be permittedSex work would be broadly legalized in New York state under a first-of-its-kind bill introduced by state legislators on Monday.
A group of lawmakers first called for legislation in February, but on Monday they finally came forward with a 13-page bill that would bring dramatic changes to the sex trade in the state.
The bill, written with advocacy group DecrimNY, would make it legal to both buy and sell sex under certain circumstances and modifies laws around facilities that are used as places of prostitution.
"For us, this is a bodily autonomy issue '-- our bodies, our choice '-- but more than that, it's an economic issue. And it's personal," Jessica Raven, one of Decrim NY's organizers, wrote in a Daily News op-ed Monday.
Two of the bill's sponsors, state senators Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar, have said that 9 out of 10 people arrested in sex-work-related massage parlor raids are immigrants, with most being undocumented Asians.
.@DickGottfried reminds us that once upon a time, sex outside of marriage was criminalized, and not long ago, marriage between two people of the same gender was criminalized. Decriminalization of sex work is next! #decrimNYpic.twitter.com/O82NOgJixB
'-- DecrimNY (@DecrimNY) June 10, 2019
LGBTQ youth, who often run away from home seeking acceptance, trade sex at 7 to 8 times the rate of other youth in New York City, Ramos and Salazar say.
A companion bill was also introduced in the Assembly on Monday, with five sponsors.
Nevada is right now the only U.S. state where prostitution is legal in some counties.
Queens DA Accused of 'Egregious' Violation in '97 Case
VIDEO - Frontier Communications Launches Flip Phone Challenge - YouTube
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 11:43
VIDEO - "Drinking Water Bottles Out Of Water": Watch As Trudeau's Brain Malfunctions When He's Asked How His Family Is Cutting Back On Plastics - Spencer Fernando
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 10:54
Ouch. Thanks to what's called the mirror neuron, we are able to vicariously feel the pain or embarrassment of somebody else just by watching them fall apart.
And even though I'm no fan of Trudeau, even I felt a tad embarrassed for him when he was asked what he and his family are doing to cut down on plastics.
The context of the question is an upcoming ban by the Trudeau government on the use of single-use plastics.
During a media event, a reporter asked Trudeau ''What do you and your family do to cut back on plastics?''
The obvious answer from Trudeau would have been ''nothing,'' or ''not enough,'' but he can't bring himself to pass up a chance at virtue-signalling. He had to show that he was doing something, anything.
But in the attempt to give a good answer, his brain malfunctioned.
Here's the result as shared by @Canadabuster on Twitter:
''Watch Trudeau's stumbling response to reporter who asked him ''What do you and your family do to cut back on plastics''
Good hair doesn't buy you smarts!''
Watch Trudeau's stumbling response to reporter who asked him "What do you and your family do to cut back on plastics"
Good hair doesn't buy you smarts!#cdnpoli #plasticpollution #sunnyways pic.twitter.com/GsmQzFQqbp
'-- Canadabuster (@Canadabuster) June 10, 2019
''He said this: ''we have recently switched to drinking water bottles out of'...water, when we have water bottles'...out of a plastic'...sorry'...away from plastic towards paper'...like drink-box, water-bottle sorta things.'''
He said this: ''we have recently switched to drinking water bottles out of'...water, when we have water bottles'...out of a plastic'...sorry'...away from plastic towards paper'...like drink-box, water-bottle sorta things.'' pic.twitter.com/stkGM7wrQA
'-- Gregory Thomas (@gthomasCJca) June 10, 2019
*If you have trouble viewing the video, click here.*
The thing is, if Trudeau is struggling this badly with what should have been a simple question, it's clear why he's struggling with everything else (the economy, China, etc).
His poor brain just can't handle the demands of perpetual wokeness.
Spencer Fernando
Photo '' Twitter
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VIDEO - YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki | Full interview | Code 2019 - YouTube
Tue, 11 Jun 2019 03:58
VIDEO - Video: Legislation to Protect Local News - News Media Alliance
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 13:21
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VIDEO - Congressional Briefing: Protecting Journalism in the Online Ecosystem - YouTube
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:18
VIDEO - FULL Brexit: Behind Closed Doors - YouTube
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 11:59
VIDEO - The Humble Libertarian: Great Recession Coming As Gold Standard Returns?
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 11:44
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VIDEO - Hotep Jesus on Twitter: "This is why you need strong "black" men.. Gun girl was getting assaulted by toxic white soycialist men with TDS. Another win for the brothers. ðŸŒðŸ¾ https://t.co/CqJKxxkWq1"
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 04:10
Welcome home! This timeline is where you'll spend most of your time, getting instant updates about what matters to you.
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Mon, 10 Jun 2019 04:03
VIDEO - James Charles & Tati DRAMA Explained! - YouTube
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 03:51
VIDEO - CNN's Acosta Regrets the Media Are Not More Hostile to Trump
Sun, 09 Jun 2019 19:58
The liberal media are certainly not ''the enemy of the people'', as President Trump often suggests, but they do operate as though they're part of an opposition party in how viciously they cover him. Now, during a vomit inducing interview with his CNN colleague Brian Stelter to promote his new book The Enemy of the People, CNN chief White House correspondent and showboater Jim Acosta said he regretted how the media wasn't more hostile against the President.
Towards the end of the ''Reliable Sources'' interview, Stelter wondered: ''Do you have any regrets? Do you have any regrets? You said some White House aides do. Do you have any regrets?''
''Do I have any regrets? You know, I wish at times that the press had been a bit more in solidarity with one another. And standing up to this White House and saying listen, 'You know, the President can't call us the enemy of the people. We're not going to go along with that,''' Acosta declared. ''I think we've missed some opportunities here and there to challenge that.'' Notice he's not talking about reporting here, but rather confronting the President about nicknames.
Acosta then opined about how ''grateful'' he was for all the support he received from other media outlets during CNN's lawsuit against the White House following his press pass getting pulled:
I will say, one thing I'm most grateful for during this experience is how just about every news organization in Washington and here in New York stood behind us here at CNN when they took away my press pass. That was a very important first amendment case. And I talk about it in the book. Had the Trump administration won that case, Brian, it would have sent shockwaves through our industry. It would have put a real chilling effect on the First Amendment in this country.
At no point did Acosta say he regretted being a showboater and grandstander in the White House briefing room (or elsewhere).
His habit of grandstanded showed up once again when he put the press on a pedestal and proclaimed: ''We're not just here to report the news. We're here also to defend the truth.'' Then, after using The Washington Post's claim that the President had said ''10,000 false or misleading statements since the beginning of his administration'', he asserted that the press was more of a check on the President than Congress was.
To Stelter's credit, he did ask Acosta about the silliness of his book's title: ''The Enemy of The People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America.'' Channeling critics, Stelter wondered: ''If this was a dangerous time to tell the truth in America you wouldn't be able to write a book about it?''
Acosta fell back onto the disgusting assertion that Trump had created an environment that could get journalists killed (click ''expand''):
Well, I don't want it to become a more dangerous time. And as you and I both know, Brian, we had a pipe bomb delivered to CNN's headquarters last fall. And as I laid out in this book, I received a number of death threats. I'm not the only one. A number of news anchors reporters who cover this President on a daily basis receive death threats. And, you know, we don't know how serious they are. It could just be people out there venting their frustrations and I get that. We all get mad about what we see on the news on a daily basis. ('...) [A]nd the question is whether or not somebody crosses that line and does something that hurts somebody or perhaps kills a journalist.
At the top of the interview, Acosta proclaimed that he wrote the book to essentially make America a better place for his kids and future generations. ''I did not want my children to grow up in a country where the press is called the enemy of the people,'' he lamented. ''Brian you and I have grown up in a country in the last several decades here where, you know, Republicans, Democrats wanted to be in power in Washington, but they didn't demonize us to this extent.''
Gag. This is CNN.
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
CNN's Reliable SourcesJune 9, 201911:41:59 a.m. Eastern
BRIAN STELTER: It is one of the President's most poisonous phrases: the enemy of the people. He's used the phrase more than 30 times on Twitter. Usually attacking news outlets like CNN. Most recently just a few hours ago. It's tiresome, yeah, but still damaging, casting fellow Americans as enemies.
Well, it is also a phrase CNN's White House correspondent, Jim Acosta is now reclaiming. He's out this Tuesday with a new book entitled The Enemy of The People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America. The book is out on Tuesday. Jim Acosta is here now for his first live interview all about it. Jim Acosta chief White House correspondent for CNN, why write a book about your experience?
JIM ACOSTA: Well, I wanted to send a message, you know, to folks who really care about what we do and the message is basically this. I did not want my children to grow up in a country where the press is called the enemy of the people. Brian you and I have grown up in a country in the last several decades here where, you know, Republicans, Democrats wanted to be in power in Washington, but they didn't demonize us to this extent. And I think it's gotten -- I think it started off as an act based on my reporting that the president threw out ''fake news'' and ''the enemy of the people'' just to sort of taunt and troll us.
STELTER: Some of your critics say, ''If this was a dangerous time to tell the truth in America you wouldn't be able to write a book about it?'' What do you say to them?
ACOSTA: Well, I don't want it to become a more dangerous time. And as you and I both know, Brian, we had a pipe bomb delivered to CNN's headquarters last fall. And as I laid out in this book, I received a number of death threats. I'm not the only one. A number of news anchors reporters who cover this President on a daily basis receive death threats. And, you know, we don't know how serious they are. It could just be people out there venting their frustrations and I get that. We all get mad about what we see on the news on a daily basis.
STELTER: But some are serious. There have been arrests in some cases.
ACOSTA: That's right and the question is whether or not somebody crosses that line and does something that hurts somebody or perhaps kills a journalist.
11:22:35 a.m. Eastern
STELTER: Do you have any regrets? Do you have any regrets? You said some White House aides do. Do you have any regrets?
ACOSTA: Do I have any regrets? You know, I wish at times that the press had been a bit more in solidarity with one another. And standing up to this White House and saying listen, ''You know, the President can't call us the enemy of the people. We're not going to go along with that.'' I think we've missed some opportunities here and there to challenge that.
I will say, one thing I'm most grateful for during this experience is how just about every news organization in Washington and here in New York stood behind us here at CNN when they took away my press pass. That was a very important first amendment case. And I talk about it in the book. Had the Trump administration won that case, Brian, it would have sent shockwaves through our industry. It would have put a real chilling effect on the First Amendment in this country.
And people might say, ''Oh, you're just puffing yourself up. You're high on your own fumes.'' No Trump administration's own lawyers went into the courtroom and said the president of the United States can throw out whoever he wants out of the White House. And we just couldn't have a situation like that.
And so, I was really grateful '' talk about regrets '' one of the things I'm most grateful for is almost our entire industry stood behind us during that time. And had they not, I think it could have worked out a different way. And so I think, you know, it hasn't been perfect. We're all grappling with, how do we cover this president?
My sense of it is that we have to stand for the truth. We're not just here to report the news. We're here also to defend the truth. And when you have a president who has made, you know, 10,000 false or misleading statements since the beginning of his administration, you know that makes us fact checkers in real-time.
Puts us in a position, unlike Republicans who controlled the government for two years, sort of makes the for the fourth estate, the press, the check on a presidency that sometimes goes outside the bounds of normal presidential behavior.


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  • 0:00
    there is no admiring the double-decker
  • 0:29
    buses you can't have double decker buses
  • 0:36
    that's for us exclusively here and then
  • 0:38
    the Gitmo nation east in the UK yeah
  • 0:40
    well those days are over
  • 0:41
    so you have double-decker buses in San
  • 0:44
    Francisco no San Francisco still has a
  • 0:47
    nice reason they don't have them it's
  • 0:50
    because everything's electro there's all
  • 0:51
    electric buses and Bev's double-decker
  • 0:53
    bus that can't make that little
  • 0:55
    suspension thing work I guess sister no
  • 0:58
    it's in the East Bay AC transit hmm
  • 1:00
    Alameda County Transit and they use the
  • 1:03
    buses they a number of them yeah they
  • 1:06
    use them to go across the bay and they
  • 1:08
    get twice as many people in the bus or
  • 1:10
    not twice as many but quite a few more
  • 1:14
    so it's not for tourism it's for actual
  • 1:17
    transportation yeah that's nice yeah
  • 1:23
    it's about time yeah well they got him
  • 1:25
    here too in London they've had him there
  • 1:27
    forever and it just amazes me how long
  • 1:29
    it takes for somebody else to figure out
  • 1:31
    it's not a bad idea yeah well they
  • 1:35
    certainly should do triple-deckers by
  • 1:36
    now traffic here is unbelievable
  • 1:39
    it's gotten so bad there's so much
  • 1:41
    that's happened since I was last in the
  • 1:42
    UK like properly in the UK not just
  • 1:44
    passing through there's buildings here
  • 1:46
    that weren't here last time I checked it
  • 1:48
    out how long ago was it that I was
  • 1:54
    actually in in London I it's been a long
  • 1:57
    time John it's been maybe see a lot of
  • 2:01
    weird looking buildings too well that
  • 2:03
    I'm looking right at that point it was a
  • 2:05
    double-decker bus down the freeway she's
  • 2:07
    is it red or is it red no it's green and
  • 2:10
    white okay
  • 2:12
    there's a big pointy building I mean I
  • 2:20
    used to know what what happened to the
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    to the gherkin to the they tear that one
  • 2:26
    down already the big pickle yeah what
  • 2:28
    happened to that one I can't see it
  • 2:29
    anywhere still there is it behind the
  • 2:32
    big pointy one now there must be there
  • 2:35
    must be five or six different buildings
  • 2:38
    just now anyway yeah we're here looks
  • 2:40
    like it's falling over yeah I can see
  • 2:43
    that one from here that's that's kind of
  • 2:46
    kind of weird yeah but we chose this
  • 2:48
    location specifically because it was in
  • 2:51
    walking distance of the No Agenda London
  • 2:55
    meetup that we held yesterday oh so
  • 2:56
    you're in the Paddington area I am just
  • 2:58
    just on the cusp of the Paddington area
  • 3:01
    and and in here's very multi-culti
  • 3:04
    though extremely here's the here's the
  • 3:06
    best laid plan so we get this hotel I
  • 3:10
    mean it is I see on the map it's a four
  • 3:12
    minute walk and of course I did not
  • 3:15
    bring the smartphone and I'm I'm
  • 3:17
    hell-bent on even though you know I like
  • 3:20
    ah you know should we and we don't we
  • 3:22
    should have some navigation capabilities
  • 3:24
    I'm like no no I can map this out in the
  • 3:26
    room and I can write down the directions
  • 3:28
    I'll be fine
  • 3:30
    four minutes I swear to god it took us
  • 3:32
    15 it's the map skills they really do
  • 3:37
    diminish over time if you don't keep him
  • 3:39
    up yeah so I went to that same place we
  • 3:44
    had a yes is the Victoria in Paddington
  • 3:47
    yeah we went there and I walked I know
  • 3:50
    how to get I knew how to get there
  • 3:52
    without it I didn't have my smartphone I
  • 3:53
    was you know we had that much burners
  • 3:56
    that we could use in the area and so I
  • 3:58
    knew how to get there from the hook from
  • 4:00
    the hotel and it was like you go down
  • 4:02
    the Main Street that goes past Victoria
  • 4:04
    Station you take a right mhm you can
  • 4:06
    just keep walking it bang you run right
  • 4:08
    into this right there exactly so I left
  • 4:12
    the event and I figured well I'm just
  • 4:16
    gonna go back to where I came and for
  • 4:18
    some reason I took the wrong Street back
  • 4:21
    it wasn't quite that bad yeah so we
  • 4:32
    arrived 7:30 a.m. yesterday morning from
  • 4:36
    our direct flight on Norwegian air from
  • 4:38
    Austin first time we took this I have to
  • 4:41
    say very impressed by the budget airline
  • 4:44
    ok who flies we need a report on this
  • 4:46
    airline confronted with it yeah a short
  • 4:49
    short report this is now American
  • 4:52
    Airlines / British Airways has a daily
  • 4:54
    flight from Austin to Heathrow and it's
  • 5:00
    very expensive and no matter no matter
  • 5:01
    what class you're in it's expensive
  • 5:04
    Norwegian competes with that there a
  • 5:06
    budget airline in and actually I think
  • 5:08
    they're now the biggest airline from
  • 5:11
    Europe to New York that was that was
  • 5:13
    kind of their first thing this is the
  • 5:14
    plane with the the red nose in fact the
  • 5:16
    callsign is even red nose and then the
  • 5:18
    flight number because there's a lot of
  • 5:22
    alcoholics oh yeah oh yeah celebrating
  • 5:26
    celebrating so it's it's probably about
  • 5:31
    40% cheaper than British Airways and
  • 5:36
    they fly the Dreamliner the seven seven
  • 5:39
    eight seven yeah nice aircraft I had not
  • 5:42
    been on this yet you had I thought you
  • 5:45
    were raving about it before no no no it
  • 5:48
    was that was the the big Airbus I flew
  • 5:50
    on that but the Dreamliner is besides
  • 5:54
    being a plastic plane which is not my
  • 5:56
    favorite yeah I thought you were never
  • 5:57
    gonna fly on one because it's all
  • 5:59
    plastic yeah well I had to get here one
  • 6:01
    way the other I can't afford it kind of
  • 6:03
    British Airways is a is Airbus usually
  • 6:06
    too but it's just it's fantastic I've
  • 6:10
    very impressed that service you know you
  • 6:13
    don't get a lot of frills and you can
  • 6:15
    order extra stuff on board and they
  • 6:18
    don't have a charge for everything my
  • 6:20
    understanding is that they charge for
  • 6:22
    yes they do they do they charge for a
  • 6:24
    blanket they charge for water are you to
  • 6:26
    go to the bathroom no they don't charge
  • 6:29
    they don't charge was it don't charge
  • 6:31
    you to go to the bathroom now
  • 6:33
    I thought had a coin-operated door huh
  • 6:37
    good try
  • 6:38
    it was mister I was misled by the staff
  • 6:40
    at British Air well yeah
  • 6:43
    you wonder why now I have to say the
  • 6:46
    keeper has been really smart
  • 6:47
    um she is hell-bent and determined on
  • 6:50
    letting everybody know that this is our
  • 6:52
  • 6:52
    so right away in Norwegian air she says
  • 6:57
    you know as we get our glass of water
  • 6:59
    you said it's her honeymoon oh that's
  • 7:03
    great yeah and yep lo and behold as show
  • 7:05
    up two little bottles of champagne well
  • 7:07
    here these are for you take these this
  • 7:09
    is it this is actually almost a
  • 7:10
    travelling tip and if we do that's a
  • 7:13
    great idea and the fact is that they did
  • 7:15
    Norwegian air is notorious for not
  • 7:18
    giving away the exactly and it was
  • 7:20
    champagne it was brutal champagne year
  • 7:23
    wasn't yeah the little mini bottle well
  • 7:28
    so then we as we laughed like a couple
  • 7:30
    of diligence
  • 7:31
    well if to mid 50 year olds can they get
  • 7:35
    away with it you know he's like yeah
  • 7:37
    we're newlyweds there was no question
  • 7:38
    you know there was there was no show me
  • 7:42
    your papers please
  • 7:42
    travelin chip is worth the price of a
  • 7:44
    donation and it gets better and so when
  • 7:47
    we here at the hotel of course when you
  • 7:50
    when you arrive all right I want to talk
  • 7:52
    about the entry process into the UK
  • 7:55
    something else I hadn't witnessed this
  • 7:57
    is completely biometry sized and not
  • 8:01
  • 8:02
    it's better than we have it's better
  • 8:05
    than world entry you just walk up to the
  • 8:08
    thing you shove your passport it
  • 8:09
    registers your face takes a picture for
  • 8:11
    all eternity so we can track you
  • 8:13
    throughout the entire country but you're
  • 8:15
    done yeah it's pretty pretty fast no
  • 8:18
    interviews no no no nothing get your bag
  • 8:21
    walk through the green the green alley
  • 8:23
    perfect so we take a character the chips
  • 8:26
    yes so back to the tip so we're the
  • 8:28
    airport to the hotel and the hotel of
  • 8:31
    course you know are yeah well obviously
  • 8:32
    check-in as a checkout is it noon
  • 8:34
    check-in is it - it's 9 o'clock and
  • 8:37
    we're here so yeah and the keeper does
  • 8:40
    it have well this is our honeymoon this
  • 8:43
    is great we'll have some champagne you
  • 8:45
    for you
  • 8:46
    while we're working on your room you
  • 8:48
    know this typically takes a lot longer
  • 8:50
    but we're gonna work on it for you and
  • 8:53
    so we went out into Hyde Park and it was
  • 8:55
    there was this window of two hours of
  • 8:57
    really beautiful weather so we saw the
  • 9:02
    the Albert Memorial the Italian gardens
  • 9:06
    came back around 11:30 our room was
  • 9:08
    already done yes we know you're you're
  • 9:09
    newlyweds your room is done and this
  • 9:11
    isn't almost three hours before they