1168: Poop-in

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 55m
August 29th, 2019
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Executive Producers: Sjoerd Brasser, Tim Dale, Clay Alchemist, Sir Ichabod of the Bike Path Gorble

Associate Executive Producers: Gene Morphus, Anonymous, Robert Brousseau, Anonymous

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
2:06
Greta Thunberg Arrives in New York City After Sailing Across Atlantic Ocean
Woodstock
4:18
18 to 8
Woodstock
6:45
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: "Having a Mixed Family is Part of My Personal Planning"
Woodstock
8:50
Climatologist Michael Mann Loses Lawsuit Against Climate Skeptic
Woodstock
10:54
National Geographic Documentary on the Amazon Rainforests
Woodstock
14:05
DNC Votes Against Allowing Candidates to Participate in Climate Debate
Woodstock
15:25
CNN's Climate Crisis Town Hall
Woodstock
20:08
MTV Video Music Awards
Woodstock
24:07
Brexit
Woodstock
38:19
Dave Chappelle's 'Sticks & Stones' Netflix Comedy Show
Woodstock
56:33
Austin's Homelessness Crisis
Woodstock
1:08:21
Amsterdam's Tourism Crisis
Woodstock
1:09:59
Credits
Woodstock
1:31:35
Tucker Carlson's War Against Marijuana
Woodstock
1:42:06
Trump on the Flu Shot
Woodstock
1:43:46
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "US Could Lose Measles Elimination Status"
Woodstock
1:46:41
Massachusetts Warns Against High Risk of EEE-Infected Mosquitoes
Woodstock
1:49:50
Ring's Partnerships with Police Forces
Woodstock
1:54:51
Adam's OTG iPhone
Woodstock
2:00:54
Producer Note: Digital Locks Glitch
Woodstock
2:03:32
Foursquare
Woodstock
2:04:46
'A Good American' Documentary
Woodstock
2:13:14
Ars Technica: 'Uber's and Lyft's Cut of Fares Can Exceed 50%, Report Finds'
Woodstock
2:16:39
Donations
Woodstock
2:27:31
Birthdays & Title Changes
Woodstock
2:30:12
Meetups
Woodstock
2:34:03
High Point University Student Allegedly Planned School Shooting
Woodstock
2:37:30
NBC News: 'A Scammer Called. The Person On the Other End Was a Police Officer'
Woodstock
2:43:56
2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang on Corrupt Media
Woodstock
2:46:44
End of Show
Woodstock
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Unhoused
Sir Mark Hall: I am thinking about starting a non-profit: Austin Poop Action. It would hold public poop-ins at City Hall.
(3) Austin Skidrow on Twitter: "This isn't LA. This isn't San Francisco. This is Austin. https://t.co/Vqk5K675I6" / Twitter
Mon, 26 Aug 2019 18:22
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UTPD Chief urges Austin leaders to ban homeless camping along campus perimeter | KXAN.com
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 18:11
AUSTIN (KXAN) '-- As the University of Texas at Austin welcomed students for the Fall 2019 semester, University Police Chief David Carter is beseeching the city to prevent homeless people from camping along the perimeter of campus.
Carter's Wednesday letter was addressed to Mayor Steve Adler and Austin City Councilmembers. In it, he said the UT community supports the city's efforts to help find solutions for finding permanent housing for homeless people but till then, security needed to be improved.
'''...I request that the Council work to improve public safety by prohibiting camping by members of the public in areas along the entire perimeter of campus, as well as in the area west of campus where many students live, work and gather,'' he wrote.
Carter wrote that police regularly respond to calls about predatory or harassing behavior along the ''Drag,'' referring to a stretch of Guadalupe Street near the UT campus that is frequented by students, staff and faculty. In the letter, Carter said members of the UT community ''often feel threatened'' in the area and sometimes homeless people themselves become victims of violence there.
Allowing homeless people to sit or camp in the densely populated West Campus area also posed a risk to public health and security, Carter wrote.
''The City has a responsibility not only to seek appropriate housing and treatment for the homeless, but to recognize that the interface of young students and some subjects of the homeless community have created potential dangers,'' Carter wrote. ''This view is not based on discriminatory practices but, rather, on real-world experiences of members of the UT community.''
Public forum with Mayor Adler on homeless issues to be held - Story | KTBC
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 14:58
AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - The LBJ School of Public Affairs and the LBJ Foundation will be hosting a public forum featuring Mayor Steve Adler to discuss recent changes to Austin's public order ordinances and the city's plan to move forward with solutions for individuals experiencing homelessness.
This forum will take place at the LBJ Auditorium on the University of Texas at Austin campus on Thursday, August 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
Doors will open at 5 p.m.
The forum will kick off with a welcome from Dean Angela Evans of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and will be moderated by Steven Pedigo, professor of practice and the director of the LBJ Urban Lab.
Panelists include:
Mayor Steve AdlerAustin Police Chief Brian ManleySusan McDowell '-- CEO, LifeWorksMatthew Mollica '-- Executive Director of ECHO Chris Harris '-- Community Advocate, Homes Not HandcuffsSherri Greenberg '-- Clinical Professor, LBJ School of Public AffairsBill Brice '-- VP Investor Relations, Downtown Austin AllianceThe forum will begin at 6 p.m. and include a Q&A portion.
Questions can be submitted ahead of time to lbjcommunications@austin.utexas.edu, or you may submit them in writing in the lobby of the auditorium that evening.
Free parking is available in the LBJ Library Visitors' lot (#38), located at 2313 Red River St., and Lots #37 and #39, after 5 p.m. Overflow parking will be available in Manor Garage on a self-pay, space available basis. A max of two seats can be held with each RSVP.
To RSVP or to learn more information on the public forum, click here.
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Brexit
KASSAM: The Queen Just Saved Brexit By Neutralizing Parliament | The Daily Caller
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 19:00
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Patriots Only
Opinion(Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Comments August 28, 2019 12:00 PM ETShe's not ''just a figurehead.''
Her Majesty The Queen is Britain's final constitutional backstop. On Aug. 28, she acted in the interest of the majority of people in Britain. She approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson's request to suspend Parliament from early September to mid-October.
The move paves the way for Johnson to follow through on Brexit. The British people voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, but Parliament has sought to thwart the people's will for the last three years.
Parliament has of course done itself no favors as of late: originally voting in favor of the referendum itself, voting for Article 50 '-- which notified the EU of the result and intent to leave '-- voting for the Withdrawal Act, which set leaving in motion, but then rejecting a deal with the EU three times.
The last time Parliament blocked the United Kingdom from leaving with ''no deal'' (that is, without kowtowing to the EU's demands), the deciding vote was cast by an anti-Brexit member of Parliament who had just been convicted of lying to the police.
In the parlance of the HBO series ''Succession,'' the Brexit process had become a ''s**t show in a f**k factory,'' almost entirely because of Parliament.
Now the queen has allowed Johnson's administration to ''prorogue'' Parliament if it wishes. This means the rump of anti-democratic members who have been stalling the process may not sit between Sept. 9 and Oct. 14, and will likely not have enough time to stop a ''no deal'' Brexit '-- or even to call a motion of ''no confidence'' in the prime minister '-- again.
If this happens, Britain leaves without a deal on Oct. 31.
Such authority is historically sound.
A.V. Dicey wrote in 'The Law of the Constitution' (1885): ''The House can in accordance with the constitution be deprived of power [when] there is fair reason to suppose that the opinion of the House is not the opinion of the electors.''
Edmund Burke noted: ''The virtue, spirit, and essence of an House of Commons consists in its being the express image of the feelings of the nation. It was not instituted to be a controul upon the people, as of late it has been taught, by a doctrine of the most pernicious tendency. It was designed as a controul for the people.''
Parliament has now repeatedly failed to act as a control for the people.
DEAL OR NO DEAL
It has also been the most spoken phrase in Westminster and beyond for the past three years.
When Britain voted to leave, the referendum question didn't ask what kind of leaving we would prefer. In the same way you don't ask you house guests whether they'd like to exit through the back door, the first floor window, or through a series of underground tunnels after you host them for dinner. For Britons, the front door was always the obvious option.
But both Parliament and the European Union kept trying to close that front door for fear of emboldening other nations to leave. For a while it looked like we were going to have to scramble up the chimney, covered in the soot of Theresa May's half-Brexit withdrawal agreement.
And while No Deal is ''clean'' insofar as it cuts the Gordian knot, it also means a lot of international deals over things like access to skies, trade, regulation, environmental protections and more will need to be dealt with quickly, and with much common sense.
The European Union knows our regulatory regime. The European Union deals with nations across the world which don't necessarily live up to their own standards. And yet anti-Brexiteers have been pretending the sky would fall and the food would run out in a post-hard Brexit scenario. This is scaremongery at its finest.
IRELAND
Even the famed ''Irish backstop,'' which U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to leverage as a reason to oppose a new U.K.-U.S. trade deal, is a grossly overstated problem.
While Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for certain have their unique border problems '-- including a seemingly mildly resurgent religious strife between the two nations '-- most of the trade going between the two countries operates in a similar way to the U.S. and Canada. Along predictable places of entry, and with agreeable standards between the two.
The idea that a slightly altered trading situation would lead to a full-on return of ''The Troubles'' is expressed only by those who would like to see Brexit fail: globalists.
The U.K.'s constitution is pretty clear for those who care to understand it, about just about everything to do with the balance of powers between our branches of government.
There is significant overlap between the branches, which is something Americans are not particularly used to.
But Sir William Blackstone '' who was a source for many of America's founders on the subject of common law '-- was clear about the need to keep Parliament in check if they refused to represent the will of the people.
The queen's intervention takes Brexit one step closer to a reality on Oct. 31. Of course, there will be complaints by pipsqueak Speaker of the Commons John Bercow, and there will likely be court challenges.
It isn't clear whether Johnson has the brass tacks to carry out such a prorogation, or whether this is simply a negotiating tactic for him. Something to keep in the back pocket in case Parliament tries for a vote of no confidence in him.
Still, that's an incredible risk to take, given the constitutional concerns raised as a result of Her Majesty's intervention. It's a risk that Boris and the Conservative Party can't afford to take and then not deliver Brexit. The country '-- left and right alike '-- would loathe them for marching us up to the top of the hill, and then marching down again.
Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) is a Claremont Institute fellow. He is the author of two bestselling books: ''No Go Zones'' and ''Enoch Was Right.''
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller
A no-deal Brexit would make it harder for Europeans to travel with pets | PBS NewsHour
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 15:00
LONDON '-- All across Europe, families and couples on vacation are seamlessly crossing borders with their beloved dog, cat or even ferret, thanks to the European Union Pet Passport scheme. Now, as a no-deal Brexit looms as a possibility for Britain, free pet travel is under threat.
If the U.K. leaves the European Union on Oct. 31 without a divorce deal '-- which is increasingly likely under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson '-- that could result in Britain being chucked out of the pet passport program. And that would hit pet owners on both sides of the English Channel.
READ MORE: Germany's Merkel dangles possibility of negotiated Brexit
Some 250,000 British cats and dogs are taken to the EU on holiday by their owners every year. In 2017, the British government issued over 90,000 pet passports to veterinary practices in the U.K.
Dave Kent, who has relied on his guide dog for 40 years, says the prospect of more paperwork and long waits is alarming.
''It's not like you can leave your dog behind if you've got some business or a holiday in Germany or the Netherlands or Italy, or anywhere else in Europe,'' he says. ''You can't just suddenly go to those countries and rent a guide dog.''
In order to vacation in Europe now, British pets need a passport, a rabies vaccine and a microchip. After three weeks, they are cleared to go. Before returning home, animals get a tapeworm tablet from a veterinarian. If the pets' vaccinations are kept up to date, the passport is valid for three years.
Before European pets had their own passports, animals arriving in Britain from the EU had to be quarantined for six months.
The thought of returning to a more complicated system is a worry for pet owner Mark Elsden in Newhaven in southern England, who is used to vacationing in France with his dog Alfie.
Before European pets had their own passports, animals arriving in Britain from the EU had to be quarantined for six months.
''There's no consistency, no information, no certainty about what's going to happen,'' he says.
The British government's spokesperson on animal issues, Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss, says pet owners should prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
In practice, that means that the process of preparing a pet for travel would quadruple.
''If you're looking to travel, you need to see your vet at least four months before the date of travel,'' says Daniella Dos Santos from the British Veterinary Association.
A pet still needs the microchip and the rabies vaccine, but it also needs a blood test at least thirty days after the vaccine. If the pet passes that test, owners need to wait three months before they can travel, bringing the whole timeline to at least four months.
Then, Dos Santos says, pet owners need additional certification to leave the country '-- export health certificates '-- so that's another visit to the veterinarian. Pets will also need a new health certificate for each trip to the EU.
On top of that, pet owners would be able to travel the EU from only a select few entry points.
Katherine Sofoluke has a passport for her miniature Dachshund called George, with whom she recently toured central France.
''Some people probably think it's ridiculous, but to us, George is part of the family,'' she said.
Travelling with the Dachshund also means Sofoluke doesn't have to pay costly kennel fees or find a dog sitter. But that may be the simpler option if the Pet Passport scheme is replaced with a more complex system.
''If it becomes a really arduous task, for kind of a week or two abroad, it's not worth it,'' she said.
British authorities say they are talking to guide dog associations to help them prepare, but that is cold comfort for Kent, who finds the situation utterly confusing.
''It's a real dog's dinner in my opinion, and one that I don't think my dog would even want to eat.''
OTG
Lockdown and Census
Anonymous...
I work at a university and the second day of classes
administration was left flat-footed after a technology glitch. Over the past
several years the school has moved to automated door locks on many buildings
and classrooms. These doors are unlocked at specific times of day and days of
the week based on a central server.
Well after a nightly technology glitch, the network/servers
were down in the morning and guess what, tons of students couldn't get into
classrooms. Employees couldn't get into their buildings. Even some employees
found their building "master" key didn't open many of the doors they
were supposed to. Police were asked to open many doors.
Just another reason the internet of things and making
everything a smart device is shit and will be the end of us all once we are
fully compliant. A single glitch can ruin us all.
On another side note I signed up to work for the 2020
census. What a shit show that thing will be. I sat through two days of training
and they aren't hiring the best let me tell you. The guy behind me asked if
"the shift key is how you make capitals." Everyone is provided a
laptop so this all happens electronically as well. (Think of the coming
glitches and possible voter fraud possibilities if those systems are
compromised) This training was an absolute joke and at least 1/3rd of the
class, at the end, I had zero confidence would be able to do their jobs
correctly.
All we're doing at this point is verifying addresses. But
with all the talk about the citizenship question and the census "Printing
Forms" I learned the entire thing will be online in the spring. They are
going to email a postcard or something and ask everyone to do it online. If
they don't then they'll send out numerators on foot. So, it's not like,
whatever they are printing, they would be printing a questionnaires for every
home.
Lastly, we are asked to count persons "experiencing
homelessness" whom are living in caves, tents or pretty much anything
else. So if we do find these people we mark them on a a little map and I guess
someone will come out later. It's good to know they are keeping the terminology
in sync across the propaganda channels.
Keep up the good work, always enjoy the show.
Doorbell-camera firm Ring teams with 400 police forces, extending surveillance reach - SFGate
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 11:02
The doorbell-camera company Ring has quietly forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them potential access to homeowners' camera footage and a powerful role in what the company calls the nation's "new neighborhood watch."
The partnerships let police automatically request the video recorded by homeowners' cameras within a specific time and area, helping officers see footage from the company's millions of Internet-connected cameras installed nationwide, the company said. Officers don't receive ongoing or live-video access, and homeowners can decline the requests, which Ring sends via email, thanking them for "making your neighborhood a safer place."
The number of police deals, which has not previously been reported, is likely to fuel broader questions about privacy, surveillance and the expanding reach of tech giants and local police. The rapid growth of the program, which began in spring 2018, surprised some civil liberties advocates, who thought that fewer than 300 agencies had signed on.
Ring is owned by Amazon, which bought the firm last year for more than $800 million, financial filings show. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.
Ring officials and law-enforcement partners portray the vast camera network as an irrepressible shield for neighborhoods, saying it can assist police investigators and protect homes from criminals, intruders and thieves.
"The mission has always been making the neighborhood safer," said Eric Kuhn, the general manager of Neighbors, Ring's crime-focused companion app. "We've had a lot of success in terms of deterring crime and solving crimes that would otherwise not be solved as quickly."
But legal experts and privacy advocates have voiced alarm about the company's eyes-everywhere ambitions and increasingly close relationship with police, saying the program could threaten civil liberties, turn residents into informants and subject innocent people, including those who Ring users have flagged as "suspicious," to greater surveillance and potential risk.
"If the police demanded every citizen put a camera at their door and give officers access to it, we might all recoil," said Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, a law professor and author of "The Rise of Big Data Policing."
By tapping into "a perceived need for more self-surveillance and by playing on consumer fears about crime and security," he added, Ring has found "a clever workaround for the development of a wholly new surveillance network, without the kind of scrutiny that would happen if it was coming from the police or government."
Launched in 2013 as a line of internet-connected "smart doorbells," Ring has grown into one of the nation's biggest household names in home security. The company, based in Santa Monica, California, sells a line of alarm systems, floodlight cameras and motion-detecting doorbell cameras starting at $99, as well as monthly "Ring Protect" subscriptions that allow homeowners to save the videos or have their systems professionally monitored around the clock.
Ring users are alerted when the doorbell chimes or the camera senses motion, and they can view their camera's live feed from afar using a mobile app. Users also have the option of sharing footage to Ring's public social network, Neighbors, which allows people to report local crimes, discuss suspicious events and share videos from their Ring cameras, cellphones and other devices.
The Neighbors feed operates like an endless stream of local suspicion, combining official police reports compiled by Neighbors' "News Team" with what Ring calls "hyperlocal" posts from nearby homeowners reporting stolen packages, mysterious noises, questionable visitors and missing cats. About a third of Neighbors posts are for "suspicious activity" or "unknown visitors," the company said. (About a quarter of posts are crime-related; a fifth are for lost pets.)
Users, which the company calls "neighbors," are anonymous on the app, but the public video does not obscure faces or voices from anyone caught on camera. Participating police officers can chat directly with users on the Neighbors feed and get alerts when a homeowner posts a message from inside their watched jurisdiction. The Neighbors app also alerts users when a new police force partners up, saying, "Your Ring Neighborhood just got a whole lot stronger."
To seek out Ring video that has not been publicly shared, officers can use a special "Neighbors Portal" map interface to designate a time range and local area, up to half a square mile wide, and get Ring to send an automated email to all users within that range, alongside a case number and message from police.
The user can click to share their Ring videos, review them before sharing, decline or, at the bottom of the email, unsubscribe from future footage-sharing requests. "If you would like to take direct action to make your neighborhood safer, this is a great opportunity," an email supplied by Ring states.
Ring says police officers don't have access to live video feeds and aren't told which homes use Ring cameras or how homeowners respond unless the users consent. Officers could previously access a "heat map" showing the general density of where Ring devices were in use, but the company said it has removed that feature from the video request because it was deemed "no longer useful."
Ring said it would not provide user video footage in response to a subpoena, but would comply if company officials were presented with a search warrant or thought they had a legal obligation to produce the content.
"Ring does not disclose customer information in response to government demands unless we're required to do so to comply with a legally valid and binding order," the company said in a statement.
Ring users consent to the company giving recorded video to "law enforcement authorities, government officials and/or third parties" if the company thinks it's necessary to comply with "legal process or reasonable government request," its terms of service state. The company says it can also store footage deleted by the user to comply with legal obligations.
The high-resolution cameras can provide detailed images of not just a front doorstep but also neighboring homes across the street and down the block. Ring users have further expanded their home monitoring by installing the motion-detecting cameras along driveways, decks and rooftops.
Some officers said they now look for Ring doorbells, notable for their glowing circular buttons, when investigating crimes or canvassing neighborhoods, in case they need to pursue legal maneuvers later to obtain the video.
Ring users have shared videos of package thieves, burglars and carjackers in hopes of naming and shaming the perpetrators, but they've also done so for people - possibly salespeople, petitioners or strangers in need of help - who knock on the door and leave without incident. (Other recorded visitors include lizards, deer, mantises, snakes and snooping raccoons.)
Ring users' ability to report people as suspicious has been criticized for its potential to contribute to racial profiling and heightened community distrust. Last Halloween in southern Maryland, a Ring user living near a middle school posted a video of two boys ringing their doorbell with the title: "Early trick or treat, or are they up to no good?"
The video, which has been viewed in the Neighbors app more than 5,700 times, inspired a rash of comments: Some questioned the children's motives, while others said they looked like harmless kids. "Those cuties? You're joking, right?" one commenter said.
After The Post shared this video with Ring, the company removed it, saying it no longer fits the service's community guidelines because "there is no objective reason stated that would put their behavior in question."
Since formally launching its Neighbors police partnerships with officers in Greenfield, Wisconsin in March 2018, Ring has extended the program to 401 police departments and sheriff's offices across the country, from northwest Washington state to Key West, Florida, company data show.
Shortly after this story was published, Ring founder Jamie Siminoff released a blog post saying that count had already expanded, to 405 agencies.
The partnerships cover vast expanses of major states - with 31 agencies in California, 57 in Texas and 67 in Florida - and blanket entire regions beneath Ring's camera network, including roughly a dozen agencies each in the metropolitan areas surrounding Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Kansas City, Missouri.
Sgt. William Pickering, an officer with the Norfolk Police Department in Virginia, which is working with Ring, compared the system's expansion to the onset of DNA evidence in criminal cases - a momentous capability, unlocked by new technology, that helps police gain the upper hand.
"We have so many photojournalists out there, and they're right there when things happen, and they're able to take photos and videos all the time. As a law-enforcement agency, that is of great value to us," Pickering said.
"When a neighbor posts a suspicious individual who walked across their front lawn, that allows them at that very moment to share that in real-time with anyone who's been watching. Now we have everybody in the community being alerted to a suspicious person."
(A Ring spokeswoman later said this example would be removed from Neighbors because it does not pass the service's community guidelines, which require "an attempted criminal activity or unusual behavior that is cause for concern.")
Ring has pushed aggressively to secure new police allies. Some police officials said they first met with Ring at a law-enforcement conference, after which the company flew representatives to police headquarters to walk officers through the technology and help them prepare for real-world deployment.
The company has urged police officials to use social media to encourage homeowners to use Neighbors, and Pickering said the Norfolk department had posted a special code to its Facebook page to encourage residents to sign on.
Ring has offered discounts to cities and community groups that spend public or taxpayer-supported funding on the cameras. The firm has also given free cameras to police departments that they can then distribute to local homeowners. The company said it began phasing out the giveaway program for new partners earlier this year.
Pickering said his agency is currently working with its city attorney to classify the roughly 40 cameras Ring gave them as a legal donation. But some officers said they were uncomfortable with the gift, because it could be construed as the police extending an official seal of approval to a private company.
"We don't want to push a particular product," said Radd Rotello, an officer with the Frisco Police Department in Texas, which has partnered with Ring. "We as the police department are not doing that. That's not our place."
Ring has for months sought to keep key details of its police-partnership program confidential, but public records from agencies across the country have revealed glimpses of the company's close work with local police. In a June email to a New Jersey police officer first reported by Motherboard, a Ring representative suggested ways officers could improve their "opt-in rate" for video requests, including greater interaction with users on the Neighbors app.
"The more users you have the more useful information you can collect," the representative wrote. Ring says it offers training and education materials to its police partners so they can accurately represent the service's work.
Ring officials have stepped up their sharing of video from monitored doorsteps to help portray the devices as theft deterrents and friendly home companions. In one recent example, a father in Massachusetts can be seen using his Ring Video Doorbell's speakers to talk with his daughter's date while he was at work, saying, "I still get to see your face, but you don't get to see mine."
The company is also pushing to market itself as a potent defense for community peace of mind, saying its cameras offer "proactive home and neighborhood security in a way no other company has before." The company is hiring video producers and on-camera hosts to develop videos marketing the brand, with a job listing stating that applicants should deliver ideas with an "approachable yet authoritative tone."
Rotello, who runs his department's neighborhood-watch program, said Ring's local growth has had an interesting side effect: People now believe "crime is rampant in Frisco," now that they see it all mapped and detailed in a mobile app. He has had to inform people, he said, that "the crime has always been there; you're just now starting to figure it out."
He added, however, that the technology has become a potent awareness tool for crime prevention, and he said he appreciated how the technology had inspired in residents a newfound vigilance.
"Would you rather live in an 'ignorance is bliss' type of world?" he said. "Or would you rather know what's going on?"
That hyper-awareness of murky and sometimes-distant criminal threats has been widely criticized by privacy advocates, who argue that Ring has sought to turn police officers into surveillance-system salespeople and capitalize on neighborhood fears.
"It's a business model based in paranoia," said Evan Greer, deputy director for the digital advocacy group Fight for the Future. "They're doing what Uber did for taxis, but for surveillance cameras, by making them more user-friendly. . . . It's a privately run surveillance dragnet built outside the democratic process, but they're marketing it as just another product, just another app."
Ring's expansion has also led some to question its future plans. The company last year applied for a facial-recognition patent that could alert when a person designated as "suspicious" was caught on camera. The cameras do not currently use facial-recognition software, and a spokeswoman said the application was designed only to explore future possibilities.
Amazon, Ring's parent company, has developed facial-recognition software, called Rekognition, that is currently used by police across the country. The technology is improving all the time: Earlier this month, Amazon's Web Services arm announced it had upgraded the face-scanning system's accuracy at estimating a person's emotion and was even perceptive enough to track "a new emotion: 'Fear.'"
For now, the Ring systems' police expansion is earning early community support. Mike Diaz, a member of the city council for Chula Vista, Calif., where police have partnered with Ring, said the cameras could be an important safeguard for some local neighborhoods where residents are tired of dealing with crime. He's not bothered, he added, by the concerns he's heard about how the company is partnering with police in hopes of selling more cameras.
"That's America, right?" Diaz said. "Who doesn't want to put bad guys away?"
Ring, the doorbell-camera firm, has partnered with 400 police forces, extending surveillance reach - The Washington Post
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 12:54
The number of police deals, which has not previously been reported, is likely to fuel broader questions about privacy, surveillance and the expanding reach of tech giants and local police. The rapid growth of the program, which began in spring 2018, surprised some civil liberties advocates, who thought that fewer than 300 agencies had signed on.
Listen on Post Reports: Reporter Drew Harwell on a video-sharing partnership that some homeowners see as 'a step toward Big Brother'
Ring is owned by Amazon, which bought the firm last year for more than $800 million, financial filings show. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.
Ring officials and law enforcement partners portray the vast camera network as an irrepressible shield for neighborhoods, saying it can assist police investigators and protect homes from criminals, intruders and thieves.
''The mission has always been making the neighborhood safer,'' said Eric Kuhn, the general manager of Neighbors, Ring's crime-focused companion app. ''We've had a lot of success in terms of deterring crime and solving crimes that would otherwise not be solved as quickly.''
But legal experts and privacy advocates have voiced alarm about the company's eyes-everywhere ambitions and increasingly close relationship with police, saying the program could threaten civil liberties, turn residents into informants, and subject innocent people, including those who Ring users have flagged as ''suspicious,'' to greater surveillance and potential risk.
''If the police demanded every citizen put a camera at their door and give officers access to it, we might all recoil,'' said Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, a law professor and author of ''The Rise of Big Data Policing.''
By tapping into ''a perceived need for more self-surveillance and by playing on consumer fears about crime and security,'' he added, Ring has found ''a clever workaround for the development of a wholly new surveillance network, without the kind of scrutiny that would happen if it was coming from the police or government.''
A map of Ring's more than 400 police partnerships. (Courtesy of Ring)
Begun in 2013 as a line of Internet-connected ''smart doorbells,'' Ring has grown into one of the nation's biggest household names in home security. The company, based in Santa Monica, Calif., sells a line of alarm systems, floodlight cameras and motion-detecting doorbell cameras starting at $99, as well as monthly ''Ring Protect'' subscriptions that allow homeowners to save the videos or have their systems professionally monitored around the clock.
Ring users are alerted when the doorbell chimes or the camera senses motion, and they can view their camera's live feed from afar using a mobile app. Users also have the option of sharing footage to Ring's public social network, Neighbors, which allows people to report local crimes, discuss suspicious events and share videos from their Ring cameras, cellphones and other devices.
The Neighbors feed operates like an endless stream of local suspicion, combining official police reports compiled by Neighbors' ''News Team'' with what Ring calls ''hyperlocal'' posts from nearby homeowners reporting stolen packages, mysterious noises, questionable visitors and missing cats. About a third of Neighbors posts are for ''suspicious activity'' or ''unknown visitors,'' the company said. (About a quarter of posts are crime-related; a fifth are for lost pets.)
Users, which the company calls ''neighbors,'' are anonymous on the app, but the public video does not obscure faces or voices from anyone caught on camera. Participating police officers can chat directly with users on the Neighbors feed and get alerts when a homeowner posts a message from inside their watched jurisdiction. The Neighbors app also alerts users when a new police force partners up, saying, ''Your Ring Neighborhood just got a whole lot stronger.''
To seek out Ring video that has not been publicly shared, officers can use a special ''Neighbors Portal'' map interface to designate a time range and local area, up to half a square mile wide, and get Ring to send an automated email to all users within that range, alongside a case number and message from police.
The user can click to share their Ring videos, review them before sharing, decline or, at the bottom of the email, unsubscribe from future footage-sharing requests. ''If you would like to take direct action to make your neighborhood safer, this is a great opportunity,'' an email supplied by Ring states.
Ring says police officers don't have access to live video feeds and aren't told which homes use Ring cameras or how homeowners responded unless the users consent. Officers could previously access a ''heat map'' showing the general density of where Ring devices were in use, but the company said it has removed that feature from the video request because it was deemed ''no longer useful."
Ring said it would not provide user video footage in response to a subpoena but would comply if company officials were presented with a search warrant or thought they had a legal obligation to produce the content. ''Ring does not disclose customer information in response to government demands unless we're required to do so to comply with a legally valid and binding order,'' the company said in a statement.
Ring users consent to the company giving recorded video to ''law enforcement authorities, government officials and/or third parties'' if the company thinks it's necessary to comply with ''legal process or reasonable government request,'' its terms of service state. The company says it can also store footage deleted by the user to comply with legal obligations.
Aggressive Amazon tactic pushes you to consider its own brand before you click 'buy'
The high-resolution cameras can provide detailed images of not just a front doorstep but also neighboring homes across the street and down the block. Ring users have further expanded their home monitoring by installing the motion-detecting cameras along driveways, decks and rooftops.
Some officers said they now look for Ring doorbells, notable for their glowing circular buttons, when investigating crimes or canvassing neighborhoods, in case they need to pursue legal maneuvers later to obtain the video.
Ring users have shared videos of package thieves, burglars and vandals in the hope of naming and shaming and apprehending the perpetrators, but they've also done so for people '-- possibly salespeople, petitioners or strangers in need of help '-- who knock on the door and leave without incident. (Other recorded visitors include lizards, deer, mantises, snakes and snooping raccoons.)
Ring users' ability to report people as suspicious has been criticized for its potential to contribute to racial profiling and heightened community distrust. Last Halloween in southern Maryland, a Ring user living near a middle school posted a video of two boys ringing their doorbell with the title: ''Early trick or treat, or are they up to no good?''
The video, which has been viewed in the Neighbors app more than 5,700 times, inspired a rash of comments: Some questioned the children's motives, while others said they looked like harmless kids. ''Those cuties? You're joking, right?'' one commenter said. After The Post shared this video with Ring, the company removed it, saying it no longer fits the service's community guidelines because ''there is no objective reason stated that would put their behavior in question.''
As summer camps turn on facial recognition, parents demand: More smiles, please
Since formally beginning its Neighbors police partnerships with officers in Greenfield, Wis., in March 2018, Ring has extended the program to 401 police departments and sheriff's offices nationwide, from northwest Washington state to Key West, Fla., company data show. Shortly after this story was published, Ring founder Jamie Siminoff released a blog post saying that count had already expanded, to 405 agencies.
The partnerships cover vast expanses of major states '-- with 31 agencies in California, 57 in Texas and 67 in Florida '-- and blanket entire regions beneath Ring's camera network, including about a dozen agencies each in the metropolitan areas surrounding Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles and Phoenix.
Sgt. William Pickering, an officer with the Norfolk Police Department in Virginia, which is working with Ring, compared the system's expansion to the onset of DNA evidence in criminal cases '-- a momentous capability, unlocked by new technology, that helps police gain the upper hand.
''We have so many photojournalists out there, and they're right there when things happen, and they're able to take photos and videos all the time. As a law enforcement agency, that is of great value to us,'' Pickering said.
''When a neighbor posts a suspicious individual who walked across their front lawn, that allows them at that very moment to share that in real time with anyone who's been watching. Now we have everybody in the community being alerted to a suspicious person.'' (A Ring spokeswoman later said this example would be removed from Neighbors because it does not pass the service's community guidelines, which require ''an attempted criminal activity or unusual behavior that is cause for concern.'')
The doorbells have eyes: The privacy battle brewing over home security cameras
Ring has pushed aggressively to secure new police allies. Some police officials said they first met with Ring at a law-enforcement conference, after which the company flew representatives to police headquarters to walk officers through the technology and help them prepare for real-world deployment.
The company has urged police officials to use social media to encourage homeowners to use Neighbors, and Pickering said the Norfolk department had posted a special code to its Facebook page to encourage residents to sign on.
Ring has offered discounts to cities and community groups that spend public or taxpayer-supported money on the cameras. The firm also has given free cameras to police departments that can be distributed to local homeowners. The company said it began phasing out the giveaway program for new partners earlier this year.
Pickering said his agency is working with its city attorney to classify the roughly 40 cameras Ring gave them as a legal donation. But some officers said they were uncomfortable with the gift, because it could be construed as the police extending an official seal of approval to a private company.
''We don't want to push a particular product,'' said Radd Rotello, an officer with the Frisco Police Department in Texas, which has partnered with Ring. ''We as the police department are not doing that. That's not our place.''
Oregon became a testing ground for Amazon's facial-recognition policing. But what if Rekognition gets it wrong?
Ring has for months sought to keep key details of its police-partnership program confidential, but public records from agencies nationwide have revealed glimpses of the company's close work with local police. In a June email to a New Jersey police officer first reported by Motherboard, a Ring representative suggested ways officers could improve their ''opt-in rate'' for video requests, including greater interaction with users on the Neighbors app.
''The more users you have the more useful information you can collect,'' the representative wrote. Ring says it offers training and education materials to its police partners so they can accurately represent the service's work.
Ring officials have stepped up their sharing of video from monitored doorsteps to help portray the devices as theft deterrents and friendly home companions. In one recent example, a father in Massachusetts can be seen using his Ring Video Doorbell's speakers to talk to his daughter's date while he was at work, saying, ''I still get to see your face, but you don't get to see mine.''
The company is also pushing to market itself as a potent defense for community peace of mind, saying its cameras offer ''proactive home and neighborhood security in a way no other company has before.'' The company is hiring video producers and on-camera hosts to develop user testimonials and videos marketing the Ring brand, with a job listing stating that applicants should deliver ideas with an ''approachable yet authoritative tone.''
Rotello, who runs his department's neighborhood-watch program, said Ring's local growth has had an interesting side effect: People now believe ''crime is rampant in Frisco,'' now that they see it all mapped and detailed in a mobile app. He has had to inform people, he said, that ''the crime has always been there; you're just now starting to figure it out.''
He added, however, that the technology has become a potent awareness tool for crime prevention, and he said he appreciates how the technology has inspired in residents a newfound vigilance.
''Would you rather live in an 'ignorance is bliss' type of world?'' he said. ''Or would you rather know what's going on?''
FBI, ICE find state driver's license photos are a gold mine for facial-recognition searches
That hyper-awareness of murky and sometimes-distant criminal threats has been widely criticized by privacy advocates, who argue that Ring has sought to turn police officers into surveillance-system salespeople and capitalize on neighborhood fears.
''It's a business model based in paranoia,'' said Evan Greer, deputy director of the digital advocacy group Fight for the Future. ''They're doing what Uber did for taxis, but for surveillance cameras, by making them more user-friendly. '... It's a privately run surveillance dragnet built outside the democratic process, but they're marketing it as just another product, just another app.''
Ring's expansion also has led some to question its plans. The company applied for a facial-recognition patent last year that could alert when a person designated as ''suspicious'' was caught on camera. The cameras do not currently use facial-recognition software, and a spokeswoman said the application was designed only to explore future possibilities.
Amazon, Ring's parent company, has developed facial-recognition software, called Rekognition, that is used by police nationwide. The technology is improving all the time: Earlier this month, Amazon's Web Services arm announced that it had upgraded the face-scanning system's accuracy at estimating a person's emotion and was even perceptive enough to track ''a new emotion: 'Fear.' ''
For now, the Ring systems' police expansion is earning early community support. Mike Diaz, a member of the city council in Chula Vista, Calif., where police have partnered with Ring, said the cameras could be an important safeguard for some local neighborhoods where residents are tired of dealing with crime. He's not bothered, he added, by the concerns he has heard about how the company is partnering with police in hopes of selling more cameras.
''That's America, right?'' Diaz said. ''Who doesn't want to put bad guys away?''
Dig Deeper: Personal tech + Privacy
Want to learn about how to keep your personal information private? Check out our curated list of stories below.
Get smart about stopping spam calls
Americans receive more than 5.2 billion automated calls in a month. But there are new apps to help stem the deluge.
Understanding what your phone tracks for marketers
As tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler slept, a dozen marketing companies used his iPhone to learn his number, email, location and IP address.
Say no to your default privacy settings
Changing privacy default settings means you'll get less personalization from some services, but it can slow down the number of eerie on-the-nose ads driven by data siphoned by major companies.
Google Warns Against Blocking 'Cookies' Entirely, Triggering Criticism - WSJ
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 15:04
Tech company proposes ''privacy sandbox'' to set new standards after promising in May to let users restrict cookies
After promising to offer tools to let users limit ''cookies,'' tiny files that help internet and advertising companies track users, Alphabet Inc.'s Google suggested it won't go any further, saying in a blog post that blocking cookies entirely could be counterproductive for user privacy.
The post from late last week has drawn criticism in recent days from some privacy advocates who say Google's Chrome internet browser should catch up to the stricter practices of rivals Firefox and Safari.
...
After promising to offer tools to let users limit ''cookies,'' tiny files that help internet and advertising companies track users, Alphabet Inc. 's Google suggested it won't go any further, saying in a blog post that blocking cookies entirely could be counterproductive for user privacy.
The post from late last week has drawn criticism in recent days from some privacy advocates who say Google's Chrome internet browser should catch up to the stricter practices of rivals Firefox and Safari.
Ad tech companies and some digital publishers are wary of a major crackdown on cookies, saying it would hurt their businesses.
In its post, Google said blocking cookies will encourage the rise of other, more nefarious methods of tracking internet users.
These include so-called ''fingerprinting'' through which sites collect various signals about users, such as the fonts on their screens or the devices they use, to keep track of unique individuals as they browse the internet.
Google said it was exploring new privacy technologies to enable personalized ads without compromising privacy, in a framework it called the ''privacy sandbox.''
As part of that initiative, Google proposed a so-called ''privacy budget'' that would impose a cap on the amount of data any site could request from a browser that might be used to identify a user.
Cookies are small text files stored in internet browsers that let companies follow users around the internet, gathering information such as which sites they visit and what ads they view or click. Hundreds of digital ad companies rely on them to collect user data.
Google's latest comments on the technology surprised some in the industry who assumed the company was working toward phasing out cookies after remarks Google made in May.
The company promised at that time to launch new tools to restrict cookies. Those tools are going forward, but a full-on cookie crackdown isn't happening.
''Many folks were expecting Google to do something. When major competitors have come out with a much praised user feature, you can imagine they would come out with something that competes with that,'' said Jonathan Mayer, an assistant professor of computer science at Princeton University. ''This notion that blocking cookies is bad for privacy is completely disingenuous.''
''I interpret the announcement as giving Google an opportunity to try to show forward momentum on privacy while at the same time not doing anything that would negatively impact its own business interests,'' said Jason Kint, chief executive of Digital Content Next, a trade association for online publishers that has argued online tech platforms are harming competition and consumers. Google's digital ad business uses data on users collected partially through cookies.
Chetna Bindra, Google's senior product manager for trust and privacy, said the criticism ''misstates the intent of what we're trying to do. It's more about broadening this conversation beyond cookies.''
The debate extends to the issue of who benefits financially from browser cookies. Google cited its own research showing that publishers lose an average of 52% of their advertising revenue when their readers block cookies.
The results differ substantially from an academic study published this spring, which found that publishers only receive about 4% more ad revenue for an ad impression that has a cookie enabled than for one that doesn't.
Write to Patience Haggin at patience.haggin@wsj.com
Maureen Baginski - Wikipedia
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 21:07
Early life and education Edit Before beginning her intelligence career, Baginski graduated with a BA and MA in Slavic Languages and Linguistics from the University of Albany where she also received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2005 for her service to the nation.[1]
Public Sector Career Edit Baginski began her career in intelligence in 1979 as a Russian language instructor at the NSA during the Cold War.[2][3] She held various positions over her nearly quarter-century at the NSA, including lead analyst for the Soviet Union, Assistant Deputy Director of Technology and Systems, Chief Officer of the Director, Executive Assistant to the Director of NSA/Central Security Service, Senior Operations Officer in the National Security Operations Center, and SIGINT Director, NSA's third highest position.[2] Baginski was the SIGINT Director on September 11, 2001 and was critical to the NSA's response after the terrorist attacks while also directing the Extended SIGINT Enterprise[clarification needed ] in order to acquire, produce, and disseminate foreign SIGINT to a variety of government and military customers.[3]
In the documentary film ''A Good American'',then-Senior NSA Executive Thomas Drake quotes Baginski as saying ''9/11 is a gift to NSA. We're gonna get all the money we need and then some,'' in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Retired NSA Analyst Bill Binney - the star of the film - describes Baginski's reaction as ''sickening.''
In 2003, Baginski left her position at the NSA to become the Executive Assistant Director of Intelligence at the FBI. As the Executive Assistant Director of Intelligence at the FBI between 2003-2005, Baginski successfully led the bureau's first-ever intelligence program. She was in charge of adapting the FBI's intelligence capabilities with information technologies, and created an intelligence-sharing platform that helped identify and stop terror plots.[2] As the head of intelligence at the FBI, Baginski helped develop an intelligence career service so that intelligence professionals would be able to advance in their careers at the FBI.[4] Many high-ranking government officials, including President George W. Bush and FBI Director Mueller, acknowledged and applauded Baginski's significant changes at the FBI which improved its capabilities to safeguard the United States of America.[4] Upon her retirement from the FBI, Director Mueller asked Baginski to remain as a senior advisor to the FBI, a position which she accepted.[4]
Private Sector Career Edit Since retiring from the FBI, Baginski has held multiple positions within the private sector. She has been a board member at BearingPoint Inc., Argon ST, and SI International Inc. Baginski has also been President of National Security Systems at SPARTA Inc., Chief Executive Officer at National Security Partners LLC,[5] and Chairwoman Emeriti of AFCEA.[6]
Awards Edit Throughout and after her distinguished career in the public sector, Baginski received several awards, including two Presidential Rank Awards, two Director of Central Intelligence National Achievement Medals, the Director of Military Intelligence's Leadership Award, and NSA's Exceptional Civilian Service Award, and the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association Award.[7]
References Edit
Foursquare Has Creepy Location Data On 100m People And They Are Making $100m Off It '' Gab News
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:27
Purchase the CyberGhost VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.Remember Foursquare? The app from a decade ago where millions of people willingly told the entire internet where they were at any given moment? Well the company still exists and they're making $100m+ on your location data and have consumer profiles on 100m+ people. For some bizarre reason people still allow this parasite of an app to automatically track them as they go about their day.Your reward for doing this? Badges. Stickers. Becoming the ''mayor'' of a location. Childish foolishness is the reward for the stupidity the folks who used''and still use'--this data harvesting machine. Foursquare's reward is hundreds of millions of dollars.
''Everyone was laughing at us, 'Oh, what are you, just people checking in at coffee shops?''' Crowley says. ''Yeah, and they checked in billions of times. So we had this corpus of data, an army of people, who every day were like, 'I'm at Think Coffee.' 'I'm at Think Coffee.' 'I'm at Think Coffee.''' Because of the ''corpus'' of data generated by people like Uncle Tony, Foursquare knows when the dimensions of storefronts change and can tell the difference between an office on the eighth floor and one of the ninth floor.
Source: Ten Years On, Foursquare Is Now Checking In to You
Purchase the CyberGhost VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.In addition to all of those active check-ins, at some point Foursquare began collecting passive data using a ''check-in button you never had to press.'' It doesn't track people 24/7 (in addition to creeping people out, doing so would burn through phones' batteries), but instead, if users opt-in to allow the company to ''always'' track their locations, the app will register when someone stops and determine whether that person is at a red light or inside an Urban Outfitters. The Foursquare database now includes 105 million places and 14 billion check-ins. The result, experts say, is a map that is often more reliable and detailed than the ones generated by Google and Facebook.
The precision of Foursquare's technology, and the added benefit of not doing business with one of the big-four tech companies, is what attracted clients like Uber and Snap to work with the company. (With about 350 employees, Foursquare has branded itself as an ''independent alternative'' to Google and Facebook.) Foursquare will not disclose how many of its clients share their own data (clients are not required to share), but it's safe to assume the data being provided by its clients far outweighs the data being generated by holdout Foursquare City Guide users. All told, the company now has ''interest profiles'' for over 100 million U.S. consumers.
Purchase the PIA VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.When Trump began talking about a Muslim ban in 2016, Crowley wondered if Foursquare had the capability to build a registry. ''We kind of paused everything and we did this audit of the code base to make sure that any of the tools and products, whether they're development tools or advertising tools or measurement tools, let's make sure that people don't have the ability to view stats or build features around sensitive categories.'' Crowley was pleased to find out that Foursquare engineers had already siloed sensitive locations, like places of worship or LGBTQ support centers, into hidden categories that, save for the rare exception, would not be available to developers. Still, Foursquare has access to data on those hidden locations, even if it isn't sharing it.
Purchase the CyberGhost VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.There is currently no federal law regulating what Foursquare can and cannot do with its user data. ''Location data is one of the most sensitive forms of data,'' says Vitak. ''So we want to be sure that consumers have control over that data, that they can edit that data, that they can choose to remove pieces of data, that they just have more agency in that process of how that data is collected, what is collected, and what is done with it after it's collected.'' Vitak and other data-privacy experts say that the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation is ''far from perfect,'' but it is a good guide for consumer protections.Foursquare executives agree. ''We do think the country needs a privacy legal regulatory framework akin to, or smarter than, the GDPR in Europe,'' says Glueck. ''We went out and implemented most of the GDPR rights globally, even though it's only the law in Europe.'' Should lawmakers ask Foursquare executives for input some sort of regulation, Crowley's advice would be pretty straightforward: ''Here's what we do '-- now make everyone else do it.'' But even if Crowley and Glueck have the best intentions, until there is federal oversight, they are a cork in a dam, accountable to themselves, investors, and one day, with a potential IPO looming, shareholders.
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The Purge
Twitter Trust and Safety Advisers Revolt, Scathing Internal Letter Leaked '' Gab News
Tue, 27 Aug 2019 18:41
Purchase the CyberGhost VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.Twitter's ''Trust And Safety'' thought police are very mad. In a scathing letter, which was leaked to Wired, the advisors on the subjective and ambiguous ''trust and safety'' team expressed their concerns with lack of internal communication and support from Twitter executives and product managers.
From the looks of it, they haven't been in communication for the majority of 2019. They cite the fact that they get no communication from the product teams which makes it difficult for them to communicate to the press when they inevitably come crying to them.
The Trust And Safety Council is a draconian concept that is loaded with far-left activist types and organizations. It appears that the council doesn't actually do very much of anything being that they haven't had a meeting with management in six months. You can read the letter below.
Purchase the PIA VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.Dear Twitter team,
I am writing on behalf of the Trust and Safety Council Members, many of whom copied in have a number of concerns.Up until a call the other week, the last update to the group was December and while some members have continued to have updates and collaboration with their regional Twitter contacts, some have heard absolutely nothing despite constant chasing up. As it was mentioned on both the calls for different time zones the other week, this is unacceptable and many of us were sad to hear no acknowledgement or follow up communication after the calls to address this.
When we joined the Council we did so in the hope that it would be a partnership, one where both parties participate and indeed it started out that way. To have Jack spend time with us on both occasions and speak to us was incredible, as many of the other existing industry safety groups have never had the CEO or anyone senior from the company engage with them.
And indeed many members commented that last year's summit was the best example of a way of working with safety partners within the entire industry, with the access to different twitter teams/departments exemplary. It then continued with excellent engagement via email updates and calls, with advance sharing of information and a chance to input on policies before announcements.
Which is why it has been extremely disappointing to have had no progress updates this year on what we all worked on at the summit and in previous years. Twitter's approach has been in the past innovative and very effective and the Twitter health metrics proposals announced at the summits was an example of this. However we have had no update on these proposals, and we have received no update of our own council member Susan's collaborative study with yourselves. This is no fault of Susan as from what we heard on the call the other week, but is again disappointing to have not had an explanation.
There have been no advance heads up of Twitter's policy or product changes to the council, leaving many of us to have no prior warning or let alone knowledge when answering press and media enquiries about our role and involvement in the council. This is embarrassing. While this email cannot speak for everyone, a large number of voices copied in have shared concerns as a group and I will ask that people don't individually reply so not clog up everyone's inbox, but a number of us did feel it was important to copy everyone in, to keep everyone in the picture, something which has been missing of late.
We would therefore like to have a call with Jack as CEO to discuss this further as a council, and understand his vision for the council, as many of us have seen he continues to tweet in replies to challenges from users about the importance and reasons for the council existing. We trust that this is possible in a similar way Jack speaks on earnings calls.We look forward to hearing from you and hearing details of the suggested call and the next steps,It goes without saying that we all remain dedicated to contributing to safety on the platform.
Twitter's Trust and Safety Council Members
Source: Twitter Trust and Safety Advisers Say They're Being Ignored | WIRED
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Uber's and Lyft's cut of fares can exceed 50%, report finds | Ars Technica
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 19:05
taken for a ride '-- Fare receipt data showed the surge multiplier riders pay doesn't get to drivers. Kate Cox - Aug 28, 2019 6:37 pm UTC
The core businesses of Uber and Lyft, despite everything else layered on top, spring from a fairly simple premise. Their apps connect people who have cars and are willing to drive them to people who need or want rides, and the companies facilitate payment in exchange for keeping a percentage of the fare. But the cut the companies take is increasing'--and it's more than the companies tell drivers they take, according to a new report.
Jalopnik asked ride-hailing drivers to share fare receipts, and it received data from more than 14,756 real-world trips in response. On average, Jalopnik, found, Uber kept about 35% of the revenue from each ride, and Lyft kept about 38%.
In regulatory filings, however, Uber has reported that its global take rate'--the percentage of the rate it takes, as you might guess'--is closer to 20%. Lyft has not disclosed its take rate publicly, but Jalopnik pointed to prior reporting from Business Insider showing Lyft's rate to be closer to 26%.
When Jalopnik reached Uber and Lyft for comment, both companies disputed the data as a non-representative, too-small sample. An Uber spokesperson told Jalopnik that the approximately 8,900 Uber fares it examined were "not a statistically representative sample, given Uber completes approximately 15 million trips per day around the world."
A spokesperson for Lyft said to Jalopnik that the sample pool did not accurately reflect a cross-section of all Lyft drivers and therefore did not represent the average experience across the board.
''This is robbery''The experiences they do represent, however, include some really ticked-off drivers.
One driver recounted to Jalopnik how he took on a "surge" fare that should have gotten him twice as much as usual for the drive. When all was said and done, however, he received $15 out of the $65 the rider paid for the half-hour, five-mile trip'--meaning Uber pocketed more than 75%.
"This is robbery," the driver told Jalopnik. ''This business is out of control.''
Another driver told Jalopnik that recent changes have dropped her earnings by about 20% this year but said she mostly avoids looking at the breakdowns of fares from individual rides. "It just annoys me," she told Jalopnik, "and there's nothing I can do about it."
While the take rate for fares Jalopnik analyzed averaged between 35% and 40%, more than a quarter of the fares showed take rates in excess of 40%, with some coming in at over 50%. The structure of surge pricing likely shoulders much of the blame for the worst rates, Jalopnik found, as well as the entire model both companies use to pay drivers.
Users of both apps have, since 2016, been presented with upfront fare estimates before they summon a car, so there are no surprises. Drivers, however, are then compensated based on the actual duration and distance of the drive'--decoupling the actual income a driver gets from the fare a rider pays.
The companies have also changed the way drivers are compensated for surge pricing. While passengers see and pay a surge fare multiplier, such as 100% or 200% of the typical base fare, drivers instead mostly receive a flat fee, "typically only a few dollars per ride." That discrepancy for drivers can add up significantly on the bottom line.
Driver groups have organized short-term strikes in various cities in recent months to protest the way the firms treat their drivers, who have been struggling for years to be legally recognized as employees rather than independent contractors.
Legally speaking, however, independent contractors generally have the ability to set terms for their work'--including payment. Thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers, on the other hand, have seen their wages go down without being able to control it.
"What they're doing is exactly what employers do with their workers," a labor and economic expert told Jalopnik.
Australia To Censor Alt Media And Alt Tech Domains During ''Crisis Events'' '' Gab News
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 12:53
Purchase the PIA VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.Australia is apparently going to shut down the entire internet every time a ''crisis event'' happens. Their plan is to block access to any internet domain that hosts ''extremist content during crisis events,'' which effectively means shutting down the entire internet, right?
After all: the media often reports on this ''extremist content'' including republishing manifestos and other such nonsense. Will their websites be censored? As is mentioned below a news station in Australia was recently fined for showing clips from the Facebook livestreamed Christchurch murders. This content spreads like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter, as was demonstrated during the Christchurch shooting.Will Big Tech domains be censored?
I think we all know this won't be the case. Instead, alternative media, news, and tech platforms will be the domains to be censored. Count on it.
Related: Dozens Of People Arrested Over Threats Posted On Big Tech Platforms Australia will block access to internet domains hosting terrorist material during crisis events and will consider legislation to force digital platforms to improve the safety of their services, officials said on Sunday.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is in France to take part in the G7 leaders' forum, said the government intended to prevent extremists from exploiting digital platforms to post extremely violent content.
''We are doing everything we can to deny terrorists the opportunity to glorify their crimes,'' he said in a statement.Australia and New Zealand have increased scrutiny of websites and social media companies in the wake of the Christchurch massacre in March, when 51 worshippers were killed in attacks on two New Zealand mosques.
Purchase the PIA VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.The attack was livestreamed by alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant over Facebook.The government said it would establish a framework to block domains hosting such material. Australia's eSafety Commissioner would determine on a case-by-case basis what should be censored, and was working with industry on arrangements to quickly block access during an attack.A 24/7 Crisis Coordination Centre would be established to monitor the online world for extreme violence or terrorist material. In addition to extremist violence, domains hosting any abhorrent violent material '' defined as content showing murder, attempted murder, rape, torture, or kidnapping '' that is recorded by anyone involved in the conduct also would be blocked, the government said.
Purchase the CyberGhost VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.The government did not elaborate on what legislative options would be used if digital platforms failed to improve safety. Tech giants including Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Microsoft and Twitter, along with Telstra, Vodafone, TPG and Optus are expected to provide details to the government by the end of next month on how they will carry out the recommendations.The firms are all members of the Taskforce to Combat Terrorist and Extreme Violent Material Online, which had recommended a clear framework be established.It was not immediately clear how the move would affect media reporting of terror attacks or civil unrest.
SKY Network Television was fined NZ$4,000 ($2,560) by New Zealand's Broadcasting Standards Authority earlier this month for showing a number of edited clips taken from the alleged Christchurch attacker's 17'‘minute livestream video.The regulator said in its judgment that, while the broadcast was newsworthy, the clips contained disturbing violent content which could cause distress, or glorify the alleged attacker and promote his messages.(Reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by Stephen Coates)
Source: Australia to block internet domains that host extremist content during terror attacks | VentureBeat
Gab is fully supported by people like you. Please help us on our mission to defend free expression online for all people and decentralize control of the internet away from Silicon Valley. You can do this by purchasing a VPN from one of our affiliate partners. You'll protect your own privacy and support Gab in the process.Please also kindly consider mailing a donation addressed to:
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Academics Who Are Studying Facebook's Impact on Democracy Threaten to Quit '' Gab News
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:10
Academics are suddenly very interested in social media and how it impacts democracy. It turns out they are pretty mad at Zuck for not giving them enough user data so that they can twist it to support whatever narrative and agenda they have. Imagine working with 83 ''scholars'' on one research project. You're asking for an ivory tower ego battle power trip for the ages.
Purchase the CyberGhost VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.We've seen more and more of these ''academic'' studies popping up since the election of Donald Trump. They are typically deeply flawed in their assertions and conclusions which inevitably argue for censorship, no-platforming, and the dehumanization of political dissidents, wrong think media, and technology platforms. All for the sake of ''muh social justice'' and in this case ''muh democracy.' Have fun with this lot, Zuck.
Purchase the PIA VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.A group of philanthropies working with Facebook Inc to study the social network's impact on democracy threatened on Tuesday to quit, saying the company had failed to make data available to researchers as pledged.
The funders said in a statement that Facebook had granted the 83 scholars selected for the project access to ''only a portion of what they were told they could expect,'' which made it impossible for some to carry out their research. They have given Facebook until Sept. 30 to provide the data.
Their concerns focus on the absence of data that would show which web pages were shared on Facebook as far back as January 2017.The company had yet to say when the data would be made available, the funders added.Facebook said in a statement that it remained committed to the project and would ''continue to provide access to data and tooling to all grant recipients '' current and future.''
Purchase the CyberGhost VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.The announcement comes only a few months after Facebook launched the research program, which opened the company's propriety data to independent scholars for the first time.Data access was meant to be heavily controlled, with special precautions to protect user privacy.The funding consortium includes both the conservative Charles Koch Foundation and Silicon Valley's Omidyar Network.
''We hope Facebook (not to mention other platform companies) will find a way to provide deeply robust privacy-protected data,'' they said, as ''independent scholarly analysis of social media platforms is essential'' to understanding elections and democracy around the world.
Source: Researchers studying Facebook's impact on democracy threaten to quit '' Reuters
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Purchase the PIA VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.Purchase the CyberGhost VPN by clicking the image above to support Gab in the process.
Advertiser-friendly content guidelines - YouTube Help
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 12:42
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This help content & informationGeneral Help Center experienceUpdated June 2019: This article now includes more examples of content that will receive limited or no ads. There are no policy changes which means you should not expect any difference in how your videos are assessed for advertiser friendliness.
If you're in the YouTube Partner Program, you can monetize with ads. This article aims to help you understand which individual videos on your channel are suitable for advertisers. Our policies apply to all portions of your content (video or live stream, thumbnail, title, description, and tags). Learn more about our best practices.
Our systems don't always get it right, but you can request human review of decisions made by our automated systems.
Note: All content uploaded to YouTube must comply with our Community Guidelines. If your content violates our Community Guidelines, it may be removed from YouTube. If you see violative content,
you can report it.
What you'll find in this article You'll find examples of content not suitable for ads, and will result in a "limited or no ads" monetization state.
Here are all the main topics that are not advertiser-friendly:
Inappropriate languageContent that contains frequent uses of strong profanity or vulgarity throughout the video may not be suitable for advertising. Occasional use of profanity won't necessarily result in your video being unsuitable for advertising, but context matters.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
ViolenceContent where the focal point is on blood, violence, or injury, when presented without additional context, is not suitable for advertising. If you're showing violent content in a news, educational, artistic, or documentary context, that additional context is important. Violence in the normal course of video gameplay is generally acceptable for advertising, but montages where gratuitous violence is the focal point is not.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
Category Limited or no ads Content containing gruesome, graphic, or disgusting accounts or imagery Blood, guts, gore, sexual fluids, human or animal waste, crime scene or accident photos Content depicting acts of violence Accounts or images of shootings, explosions, or bombings; execution videos; violent acts committed against animals Content depicting cruelty or gratuitous violence toward animals, such as cockfighting, bullfighting, or dog fighting Videos that contain graphic violence in the context of physical altercations, public demonstrations, or police brutality Raw footage of war casualties with graphic depictions of injury or death Gratuitous violence against children, even if only dramatized or fictional Hunting videos with a focal point in graphical violence, animal death or suffering Adult contentAdult Content Content that features highly sexualized themes is not suitable for advertising, with limited exceptions for non-graphic sexual education videos. Stating your comedic intent is not sufficient and that content may still not be suitable for advertising.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
Harmful or dangerous actsContent that promotes harmful or dangerous acts that result in serious physical, emotional, or psychological injury is not suitable for advertising.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
Category Limited or no ads Inappropriate pranks, challenges, dares, and stunts Pranks relating to suicide, death, terrorism (like fake bomb scare pranks), or threats with firearms and other lethal weapons Sexually unwanted acts such as forced kissing, groping, or sexual abuse Shows physical harm or distress but is not the focus of the video. This guideline applies to acts performed in non-professional, non-controlled environments Content that induces prolonged emotional distress of a minor Body modification and medical procedures Invasive medical procedures, including cosmetic surgery Pimple-popping or in-grown toenail removal Skin implant procedures Tongue forking surgery Content that threatens or advocates for physical or mental harm on oneself or others Threatening someone with real-life harm Calling for the attack of another person Harm to self, harm to others or harmed by others Content related to suicide, eating disorders, bullying, harassment, domestic violence, or other forms of abuse and self-harm Content that promotes the use of weapons to inflict harm on others Content relating to cannibalism Dangerous acts not to be imitated Content showing the consumption of substances in such quantities that it results in a toxic reaction Failure compilations that include graphic harm and injury Subway or underground surfing Roof-topping Other challenge-based content, which if replicated may result in harm (like the fire challenge, kiki challenge, and bird box challenge) Promoting or advocating for harmful health or medical claims or practices Anti-vaccination, or AIDS denialist movements Non-medical treatments that promise to cure untreatable diseases Content, which implies serious medical conditions, does not exist, or are an elaborate hoax Hateful contentContent that incites hatred against, promotes discrimination, disparages, or humiliates an individual or group of people based on the following is not suitable for advertising:
Race Ethnicity or ethnic origin Nationality Religion Disability Age Veteran status Sexual orientation Gender identity Any other characteristic associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization Content that is satire or comedy may be exempt. Stating your comedic intent is not sufficient and that content may still not be suitable for advertising.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
Incendiary and demeaningContent that is gratuitously incendiary, inflammatory, or demeaning may not be suitable for advertising.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
Recreational drugs and drug-related contentContent that promotes or features the following is not suitable for advertising:
Sale of illegal drugs, regulated drugs, or substances, or other dangerous products Use of illegal drugs, regulated drugs, or substances, or other dangerous products Abuse of illegal drugs, regulated drugs, or substances, or other dangerous productsVideos discussing drugs or dangerous substances for educational, documentary, and artistic purposes are generally suitable for advertising -- so long as drug use or substance abuse is not graphic or glorified.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
Category Limited or no ads Promoting substances that alter mental state for recreational purposes, or otherwise induce "highs" Cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, marijuana, cocaine substitutes, mephedrone, "legal highs", bath salts Promoting products or services marketed as facilitating recreational drug use Pipes, bongs, cannabis coffee shops Promoting instructional content about producing, purchasing, or using recreational drugs Exchanging tips or recommendations on drug use Tobacco-related contentContent that promotes tobacco and tobacco-related products is not suitable for advertising.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
Firearms-related contentContent focused on the sale, assembly, abuse, or misuse of firearms is not suitable for advertising.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
Controversial issues and sensitive eventsContent that features or focuses on sensitive topics or events is generally not suitable for ads. This policy applies even if the content is purely commentary or contains no graphic imagery.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
Adult themes in family contentContent that appears to be appropriate for a general audience but contains adult themes is not suitable for advertising. This guideline applies even if content is done for comedic or satirical purposes.
Examples (non-exhaustive)
Category Limited or no ads Adult themes in family content Content that is made to appear appropriate for a general audience, but contains adult themes, including:
Sex Violence Vulgarity Other depictions of children or popular children's characters, that are unsuitable for a general audience All videos uploaded to YouTube must comply with YouTube's Terms of Service and Community Guidelines. To be able to monetize with ads, you'll need to follow the YouTube Partner Program policies and Google AdSense Program policies.
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59
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki says YouTube will remain an open platform - Vox
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 12:39
Can the world's largest video company continue to let its 2 billion users upload anything they want, whenever they want?
Yes, says the woman who runs that company: In a letter addressed to creators on YouTube, CEO Susan Wojcicki says the platform is committed to remaining open because she thinks the upside of that approach very much outweighs the downside.
This isn't a new idea, and it's one that Wojcicki, along with people who run other giant tech platforms, say in private all the time. But Wojcicki is saying it again, today, as critics are increasingly questioning if it's a philosophy that works for tech companies at a global scale. In recent months, that scrutiny has been particularly directed at YouTube over content uploaded to its platform that spreads harassment, hateful ideologies, and misinformation.
''I believe preserving an open platform is more important than ever,'' Wojcicki writes in a quarterly note aimed at YouTube's most ardent users, who upload videos onto the site for fun and profit. While that note is usually dedicated to celebrating YouTube's wide swath of creators, this one spends most of its time defending the idea that YouTube will continue to keep its doors open to anyone who wants to post just about anything on the site.
Wojcicki's letter comes after months of criticism about distasteful videos and comments that appeared on the site, including a high-profile dispute between Vox journalist Carlos Maza and conservative YouTube host Steven Crowder, who had targeted Maza with racist and homophobic slurs. I talked with Wojcicki at length at the Code Conference in June about that incident, YouTube's response, and whether YouTube can really function as an open platform at its size.
It also comes as critics, regulators, and politicians are proposing various ways to scale back the protections offered by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a key part of the legal scaffolding used by YouTube and many other giant tech platforms built on users' submissions.
The short version of that regulation: It allows YouTube '-- or any other internet platform '-- to host any content users place there without being held liable for that content. It does, however, give the platforms the ability to moderate and police that content once it's been placed there.
As she and other Google executives have previously argued, Wojcicki says YouTube is okay with the idea that some people will be upset with some things they find on YouTube, which could include ''content that is outside the mainstream, controversial, or even offensive.''
But she draws a line between that stuff and stuff that YouTube says really shouldn't be on the site, which she argues is both rare and damaging: ''Problematic content represents a fraction of one percent of the content on YouTube and we're constantly working to reduce this even further. This very small amount has a hugely outsized impact, both in the potential harm for our users, as well as the loss of faith in the open model that has enabled the rise of your creative community.''
Wojcicki goes on to explain the way YouTube wants to stay open while keeping some semblance of order on the site: It is employing computers and humans to police the stuff that appears on the site and it is constantly creating new rules to guide its in-house moderators. It will limit distribution for stuff it thinks will upset some users or advertisers but that doesn't cross a clear line that would necessitate a ban. And it is finding ways to create a tiered advertising system so that video makers YouTube approves of will find it easier to make money.
Wojcicki and YouTube have discussed much of this in public before. Had she showed any sense of backing away from an open ideology, that would constitute real news. But the fact that one of the most powerful tech executives in the world needs to defend the ideological and legal principle at the foundation of her company is something we wouldn't have imagined just a few years ago.
Here's the full text of Wojcicki's note:
Dear creators and artists,
As I do every quarter, I'd like to pause and reflect on my priorities and how I can help you be successful on YouTube. But rather than our usual update on this quarter's highlights and lowlights, I want to take a minute to talk about something that is incredibly important to me personally, and the future of this platform: openness and how we balance that with our responsibility to protect the community.
YouTube is built on the premise of openness. Based on this open platform, millions of creators around the world have connected with global audiences and many of them have built thriving businesses in the process. But openness comes with its challenges, which is why we also have Community Guidelines that we update on an ongoing basis. Most recently, this includes our hate speech policy and our upcoming harassment policy. When you create a place designed to welcome many different voices, some will cross the line. Bad actors will try to exploit platforms for their own gain, even as we invest in the systems to stop them. As more issues come into view, a rising chorus of policymakers, press and pundits are questioning whether an open platform is valuable...or even viable.
Despite these concerns, I believe preserving an open platform is more important than ever.
First, openness leads to opportunity. Today's creators have built an entire creative economy and are redefining the face of media. They are truly next-generation media businesses, with millions of views and global brands, who are contributing to local and global economies, and creating jobs. These are creators that would not have had a chance to break through in a more closed media landscape. Creators like Swedish robotics enthusiast Simone Giertz and blind lifestyle vlogger Molly Burke, both unconventional in their appeal and passed over by traditional media, are finding huge success on YouTube managing businesses, selling merchandise, creating jobs for other people and creating real economic value in their communities. Or creators like Laura Vitale, Sallys Welt and Helen's Recipes have turned their passion for food into full-time professions, complete with successful channels, cookbooks and more. And they are not alone. A report from Ryerson University found that YouTube creators have created 28,000 full time jobs just in Canada. And twenty percent of eligible Canadian creators are creating jobs for others. Around the globe, the number of channels earning more than $100,000 continues to climb 40% year over year.
Openness has also helped foster community. On an open platform, a shared experience can unite people in amazing ways. For example, Ryleigh Hawkins from New Zealand started her channel, Tourettes Teen, to spread awareness about what it's like to live with Tourette's syndrome. Her informative, joyful and humorous videos have earned her fans around the world and let others with this potentially isolating condition know they are not alone. And teens are sharing their college rejection videos, serving as a reminder that this painful moment happens to everyone and people do bounce back.
And finally, openness leads to learning. As a daughter of two teachers and a lifelong learner, I've been especially inspired to see Edutubers like Origin of Everything, Manual do Mundo, Eddie Woo and Excel is Fun turn YouTube into the world's largest classroom. Every time I meet someone new and ask them about YouTube, I hear a story about something they learned on the site: how YouTube helped a student ace her math homework, a mom fix a broken garage door, or an employee master a new job skill.
Let me be clear, none of this happens without openness. Without an open system, diverse and authentic voices have trouble breaking through. And the voices that do get a platform often sound like those who already have one. That small business built on someone sharing their passion for soapmaking never takes off. That bullied teen can't find a community that looks and feels like them and lets them know that it gets better. And that curious person obsessed with planetary physics and looking for a few videos is probably out of luck.
A commitment to openness is not easy. It sometimes means leaving up content that is outside the mainstream, controversial or even offensive. But I believe that hearing a broad range of perspectives ultimately makes us a stronger and more informed society, even if we disagree with some of those views. A large part of how we protect this openness is not just guidelines that allow for diversity of speech, but the steps that we're taking to ensure a responsible community. I've said a number of times this year that this is my number one priority. A responsible approach toward managing what's on our platform protects our users and creators like you. It also means we can continue to foster all the good that comes from an open platform.
Problematic content represents a fraction of one percent of the content on YouTube and we're constantly working to reduce this even further. This very small amount has a hugely outsized impact, both in the potential harm for our users, as well as the loss of faith in the open model that has enabled the rise of your creative community. One assumption we've heard is that we hesitate to take action on problematic content because it benefits our business. This is simply not true '-- in fact, the cost of not taking sufficient action over the long term results in lack of trust from our users, advertisers, and you, our creators. We want to earn that trust.
This is why we've been investing significantly over the past few years in the teams and systems that protect YouTube. Our approach towards responsibility involves four ''Rs'':
We REMOVE content that violates our policy as quickly as possible. And we're always looking to make our policies clearer and more effective, as we've done with pranks and challenges, child safety, and hate speech just this year. We aim to be thoughtful when we make these updates and consult a wide variety of experts to inform our thinking, for example we talked to dozens of experts as we developed our updated hate speech policy. We also report on the removals we make in our quarterly Community Guidelines enforcement report. I also appreciate that when policies aren't working for the creator community, you let us know. One area we've heard loud and clear needs an update is creator-on-creator harassment. I said in my last letter that we'd be looking at this and we will have more to share in the coming months.
We RAISE UP authoritative voices when people are looking for breaking news and information, especially during breaking news moments. Our breaking and top news shelves are available in 40 countries and we're continuing to expand that number.
We REDUCE the spread of content that brushes right up against our policy line. Already, in the U.S. where we made changes to recommendations earlier this year, we've seen a 50% drop in views from recommendations to this type of content, meaning quality content has more of a chance to shine. And we've begun experimenting with this change in the UK, Ireland, South Africa and other English-language markets.
And we set a higher bar for what channels can make money on our site, REWARDING trusted, eligible creators. Not all content allowed on YouTube is going to match what advertisers feel is suitable for their brand, we have to be sure they are comfortable with where their ads appear. This is also why we're enabling new revenue streams for creators like Super Chat and Memberships. Thousands of channels have more than doubled their total YouTube revenue by using these new tools in addition to advertising.
The stories I hear from creators like you inspire me every day. The community you've created is living proof that an internet that reflects a broad range of ideas can change the world for the better. You've built something incredible; it's our job to strike the right balance between openness and responsibility so that future generations of creators and users can, as well.
And here's the full video of my conversation with Wojcicki at the Code Conference in June:
Build The Wall
RealID
Hello Adam,
I was surprised that you did not call out John's two home states
as the reason for the Real ID act. Washington and California give drivers
licenses to undocumented residents (illegal aliens), as once you have a license
you can register to vote. As a tax paying land owning US and WA citizen I
now have to pay more $$$ to the state that will be used for "Social"
programs with no oversight.
Apologies,
Longtime Dousche Bag
EuroLand
A flashback that isn't: EU set to require warning labels on Jewish products
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 02:33
Some Americans may find modern day concerns about anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment overblown, especially if they haven't experienced some centuries of religious discrimination.
Such concerns typically appear when Israel is in the news, as it is this week by denying entry to a pair of Muslim congresswomen. Ed wrote about that controversy here.
Now, comes the European Union with a clever idea to add consumer warning labels to products from Israel as being from that Jewish state. No, seriously.
Of course, this is not the first time Jews have been singled out for such public alerts.
In Germany and Eastern Europe in the 1930's and '40s the Nazis forced Jews to wear yellow stars of David on their outerwear as a public humiliation and isolating tactic to deter others from having any contact. Before that, the Russian tsar required Jews to wear animal skins as head coverings, an intended humiliation.
The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice recently issued an opinion that EU law requires Israeli-made products be labeled as originating from ''Israeli colonies'' or ''settlements.''
As the Free Beacon reported:
The decision was seen as a major win for supporters of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to wage economic warfare on Israel and its citizens.
Pro-Israel activists, as well as Jewish businesses involved in the legal dispute, see the decision as an ominous warning sign they say is reminiscent of Holocaust-era boycotts of Jewish businesses.
The Court's 15-member panel is poised to issue its binding ruling. But that threatens to ignite U.S. anti-boycott measures intended to protect Israel from international discrimination.
And it could prompt additional discriminatory labeling requirements by the EU and other countries on goods from more disputed territories.
Brooke Goldstein, a human-rights lawyer, said, ''Could the discrimination be any clearer?''
The ruling stipulates that items made by Muslims must be labeled as coming from 'Palestine' while products made by Jews must be labeled as coming from 'Israeli colonies.''
Goldstein warned such a ruling would become a nightmare for European importers and an invitation for labeling requirements by innumerable others.
She added, ''If the EU Court justifies this bigotry, it will degrade the rule of law in Europe and it will undoubtedly have many unintended consequences for EU traders.''
Amsterdam kraakt onder misdaad | Binnenland | Telegraaf.nl
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 14:57
Door John van den Heuvel en Mick van Wely
Updated Gisteren, 13:21
Gisteren, 00:55 in BINNENLAND
''¸ Hollandse Hoogte / Robin Utrecht
AMSTERDAM - De hoofdstad heeft de strijd tegen de georganiseerde misdaad vrijwel verloren. De autoriteiten zijn slecht ingevoerd in de drugseconomie en -criminaliteit, de politie heeft de drugsbestrijding volledig laten liggen en justitie verzuimt de echte misdaadstructuren aan te pakken.
''¸ Hollandse Hoogte / Robin Utrecht
Dat zijn de vernietigende en verontrustende conclusies van het vertrouwelijke onderzoek De achterkant van Amsterdam naar ondermijnende criminaliteit in de hoofdstad in opdracht van de gemeente Amsterdam. Het rapport is toegespeeld aan De Telegraaf.
Het onderzoek is gedaan door hoogleraar bestuurskunde Pieter Tops en onderzoeksjournalist Jan Tromp. Het rapport wordt vrijdag gepresenteerd.
Drugsgerelateerde criminaliteit in Amsterdam heeft vrij spel en een ontwrichtende werking op de stad. De gemeente pakt niet door bij projecten die verwevenheid van de onder- met de bovenwereld moet voorkomen en informatie tussen relevante instanties wordt nauwelijks gedeeld. Het ontbreekt aan inzicht in de mate waarop crimineel geld in de legale economie wordt gepompt. Het terugdringen van de ondermijnende drugscriminaliteit kost zeker tien tot vijftien jaar.
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SJW
Dave Chappelle's New Netflix Special Reminds Us that the Most Successful Comedians Are Also the Most Sensitive :: Comedy :: Reviews :: Dave Chappelle :: Paste
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 19:09
Among the long list of people Dave Chappelle doesn't give a fuck about are the people who paid between $70 and $90 (before fees and charges) to see him live. The multimillionaire starts off his latest special on the largest streaming platform by belittling everybody who's ever criticized any celebrity for insulting or offending people, using the audience at Atlanta's Tabernacle as a stand-in for all of society. There's not a joke or any kind of humor behind it'--it's just him venting about people being held accountable for their own words and actions. I guess it's a brave way to start off a show, if you equate bravery with just acting like an asshole.
Sticks & Stones'--which I assume is called that because Triggered was already taken'--is less a comedy special than an hourlong expos(C) of Chappelle's fragile ego. It's one fantastically wealthy man revealing how thoroughly gotten to he is by criticism, while desperately trying to seem above it all. It's remarkably similar to Ricky Gervais's miserable special from last year, straight down to a ''well, what if I identify as this'' transphobic joke; instead of Gervais's chimpanzee, though, Chappelle whips out an Asian stereotype worthy of Breakfast at Tiffany's, adding just that extra little jolt of racism that nobody anywhere asked for.
Somehow he's incapable of understanding the difference between criticism and censorship. Although he's not as confrontational or direct about it as Gervais, Chappelle still seems to believe that saying a comic's jokes aren't funny is somehow the same as squashing that comic's career. This is in a special he's being paid eight figures for and that's getting the full promotional push of the biggest outlet in the world today. He makes an off-hand joke about Louis C.K. dying in a ''masturbation accident'' and acting like his friend's career is over, despite fellow millionaire C.K. regularly getting booked in clubs within months of that scandal breaking. I don't know how the richest and most successful comedians became the most entitled people alive, but it's not a good look. It's the kind of hypocrisy that you would hope a comedian like Chappelle would call out and rip apart, but instead it's become a defining part of his brand.
Chappelle spends almost the entire hour arguing that rich and famous people shouldn't have to face consequences for the fucked-up things they do. He dismisses and mocks Michael Jackson's accusers, defends C.K., and even jokes that trans people need to take responsibility for Chappelle's own transphobic jokes. An extended bit about who he calls ''the alphabet people'''--the LGBTQ community'--packs in as many queer stereotypes as Chappelle can fit, while reserving special scorn and derision for trans people. It's hard to see how any of this is even meant to be funny, and watching it feels like overhearing retirees and Fox News watchers complain about a world that has thoroughly passed them by.
Chappelle's not the only major comedian who acts like comedy itself is somehow imperiled by today's audiences. These complaints come during a time when comedy is flourishing like never before. Comics with actual bravery have redefined what can be considered stand-up, while the internet has let exciting and hilarious new comedians establish themselves through podcasts, social media, and video sites like YouTube. Comedy's so big right now that superstars like Chappelle and Jerry Seinfeld are being paid more for stand-up specials than anybody ever could've imagined. And yet it's those same comics profiting the most off the current comedy boom who hypocritically act like comedy is dying because not everybody likes their outdated material. Chappelle's special is terrible not because audiences have changed, but because Chappelle himself is so thoroughly out of touch with today. Maybe all that money has something to do with it?
The only stuff that works here is the one section where Chappelle drops the contempt and actually talks about life outside of comedy. It comes at the very end of the special, when he discusses his own personal experiences growing up poor and his dad's attempts to save money. It's the only part of the hour that isn't devoted to Chappelle's total lack of empathy and understanding, and to get to it you have to sit through almost an hour of boring, thoughtless junk that could come straight from any morning drive shock jock. Sticks & Stones is terrible, and Chappelle can only blame himself for that.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He's on Twitter @grmartin.
You Can Definitely Skip Dave Chappelle's New Netflix Special 'Sticks & Stones' - VICE
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 11:44
Dave Chappelle made a return to Netflix Monday with a new stand-up special, Sticks & Stones. Fans quickly realized that, if you watch until the very end, the special has a secret epilogue called "The Punchline," where Chappelle answers questions from audience members who went to his separate Dave Chappelle on Broadway stand-up show last July. The special takes the comic's anti-wokeness schtick to a new level, and the whole thing is repetitive and exhausting enough that it's a slog to even make it to the Q&A.
Chapelle's controversial 2017 Netflix specials, like The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live at the Hollywood Palladium and Equanimity and the Bird Revelation, honed his voice as a comedian wary of progressive criticism. That voice is even sharper in his latest special. At one point in his routine, he says he doesn't believe Michael Jackson molested young children. He continues by saying that if Jackson did, the children should've felt lucky their first time was with the King of Pop, adding, "Do you know how good it must've felt to go to school the next day after that shit?" Chappelle also returned to his now-infamous obsession with making fun of trans people, saying, "[trans people] hate my fucking guts and I don't blame them. [...] I can't stop writing jokes about these niggas." This time, those jokes included asking the audience how funny it would be if he was actually a Chinese person stuck inside a Black man's body, which (you guessed it) also included a racist impression of a Chinese person. He also found time to defend fellow controversial comedians Kevin Hart and Louis C.K., painting them as victims of an overzealous callout culture.
By the time the Q&A plays at the end of the special, Chappelle has already shown his unapologetic approach to courting controversy. His answers put that into even starker view. He says that a white woman left one of his practice sets for the special at The Punchline comedy club in San Francisco, telling him, "I'm sorry, I was raped." Chappelle says he replied with "It's not your fault you were raped. But it's not my fault either. Ta-ta, bitch," to which the audience laughs raucously, as though that were a real punchline. He then followed with a story about sparking an unlikely friendship with a trans woman who he says "was laughing the hardest" out of anyone at the trans jokes in his practice set. The strange story of camaraderie seemed to highlight the common accusation that Chappelle is only interested in repairing his relationship with marginalized groups if he doesn't have to change anything about himself.
Chappelle has always been a daredevil comedian willing to take a controversial stance or downplay a serious controversy for laughs, including his early-2000s skits about R. Kelly's court trials on Chappelle's Show. But now he chooses to blatantly ignore the historic criticism against his style of comedy and new loud-and-clear criticism from the trans community. His approach comes off like a defiant rejection of change at any cost. As he keeps going down this path, drawing attention to the worst aspects of his important career, the biggest cost will be tarnishing his own legacy.
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"KILL TERFS": Vancouver's women-only rape shelter vandalized with death threats, rat nailed to door - The Post Millennial
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 12:59
A Vancouver rape relief shelter alleges they have been the target of vandalism and death threats over their ''woman-only'' policy.
Photos shared by the official Vancouver Rape Relief & Woman's Shelter Twitter account show several threats and messages scrawled on the centre's windows like ''KILL TERFS'' and ''TRANS POWER''.
A follow up to the dead rat that was nailed to our door recently'... this morning we found this writing scrawled across the windows of our storefront space that we use for support and training groups #Misogyny pic.twitter.com/vm6Gv8jWcj
'-- VancouverRapeRelief (@VanRapeRelief) August 27, 2019''TERF'' is a slur word for ''Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists,'' or feminists who believe that women who are born biologically female face oppression and have a different lived experience than those born as men.
The shelter is believed to be Canada's oldest and longest standing rape shelters for women.
''We are the longest standing rape crisis centre in Canada. Since 1973, our group has responded to close to 46,000 women seeking our support in their escape from male violence. Since we opened our transition house in 1981, we have housed over 3,000 women and over 2,600 children,'' writes the organization's website.
The Post Millennial reached out to Vancouver Rape Relief who confirmed that the motivation behind the vandalism and threats was their refusal to allow biological males to stay in their rape shelters.
''We have no doubt. Feminists groups have a lot of enemies, there are men's rights activists, and fascists, but in this particular instance, the use of the word ''TERF'' obviously explicitly targets us because of our position for working for women who were born female,'' said spokeswoman Hilla Kerner.
While the centre does not shelter biological males, their official policy is to serve transgender men who were born female.
''People who were born female are welcome to our services but they rarely call us because they would not use services from an organization who is identified with women's services for women,'' said Kerner.
''Our services are open to all people who were born female even if they don't identify as women.''
Recently, NDP Vice President and trans activist Morgane Oger spearheaded a successful push for the city of Vancouver to strip the women's rape shelters of funding based on alleged ''discrimination.''
According to the shelter, they have had past instances where dead animals like skunks were shoved through the mail slot of the building. In one case rape victims attending the shelter encountered a dead rat which was nailed to the door.
''The women who found it were from our support group so they are battered women and rape victims, and one of them said: Haven't we suffered enough,'' said Kerner.
Since the tweet was released, Kerner claims that the shelter has received an outpouring of support and donations from concerned members of the public.
''I want to make it really clear we're not going anywhere, we are committed to our work with women for women on behalf of women and since this has been public we've had an outpouring of support from all over the world, including donations,'' said Kerner.
According to Vancouver Rape Relief, all of the incidents have been reported to the police who are investigating the matter.
2020
How the DNC is unfairly tilting the field against Tulsi Gabbard
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:02
| August 27, 2019 03:12 PM
After the fiasco that was the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, the Democratic National Committee doesn't exactly have a reputation for impartiality and fairness. You'd think, then, the DNC would take steps this time around to ensure that its decision-making is transparent and bias-free.
Naturally, they're doing the opposite.
The most recent issue is the DNC's qualification criteria for the third Democratic primary debate set for September. The DNC has understandably sought to cut down on the number of candidates granted a place on the debate stage, and they've done so by putting in place more stringent qualification requirements. Now, candidates must show four DNC-approved polls placing them at 2% or higher, and they must also receive 130,000 unique donations.
If applied fairly, these standards are reasonable enough. They proved easy hurdles to overcome for the big-name candidates, with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and the like all long-since qualifying, just as you'd expect. But it's the borderline candidates who have been harmed the most by arbitrary and potentially biased enforcement of these criteria. Candidates such as Tom Steyer and Marrianne Williamson have suffered, but most clearly disadvantaged by DNC malpractice is Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Here's where the bias comes in: The decision as to which polls are ''DNC-approved'' and which are not. Several of these campaigns have met the polling threshold in more than four reputable polls, just not the ones approved by the DNC, whose criteria for poll approval are unknown and opaque.
This is particularly true for Gabbard. The Gabbard campaign provided a statement to the Washington Examiner:
Rep. Gabbard has exceeded 2% support in 26 national and early state polls, but only two of them are on the DNC's 'certified' list. Many of the uncertified polls, including those conducted by highly reputable organizations such as The Economist and the Boston Globe, are ranked by RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight as more accurate than some DNC 'certified' polls.
This is manifestly unjust. And given the DNC's long history of bias against outsider, anti-establishment candidates, it's unlikely that this injustice is an accident.
Remember, the DNC basically tilted the 2016 Democratic primary against Sanders, and in favor of the party establishment's preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton. They gave Clinton debate questions in advance, planned debates for weekends (perhaps to shield Clinton from high viewership), and leaked emails showed numerous examples of anti-Sanders bias from DNC officials.
Plus, the DNC and the Clinton campaign even had a signed agreement giving Clinton's camp control over party staffing decisions before she was the nominee.
As journalist Michael Tracey wrote for RealClearPolitics, ''Tulsi Gabbard is on the verge of being excluded from the next Democratic presidential debate on the basis of criteria that appear increasingly absurd.'' If the DNC wants to avoid more allegations of bias, it should step in and make sure Gabbard is granted the debate stage place she clearly deserves.
Beto O'Rourke Ejects Breitbart News Reporter from Event at Historically Black College | Breitbart
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:24
COLUMBIA, South Carolina '-- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) has styled himself as a champion of press freedom, tweeting last October: ''The press is not the enemy of the people but the best defense against tyranny.''It is now August, and with his poll numbers falling in the Democratic presidential primary, O'Rourke has decided that he is entitled to abuse members of the press who cannot be relied upon to provide favorable coverage.
O'Rourke's campaign ejected this Breitbart News reporter from a speech at Benedict College, a historically black college, on Tuesday afternoon.
This reporter was standing along the side of a lecture hall in the basement of the Henry Pinder Fine Arts Humanities Center, waiting for the event to start, together with roughly 200 students and college staff members. Other news outlets had set up cameras in the back of the room.
Several minutes after the 3:00 p.m. event had been scheduled to begin, a staff member in a Beto O'Rourke t-shirt approached this reporter and asked what outlet I represented. Upon reading the press credential on my chest, he put a hand on my shoulder and said, cheerfully, ''Oh, hey. All right.''
A few minutes later, before the event began, a campus police officer approached this reporter and motioned for me to accompany him to the back of the room, adding that I should bring any property I had with me. In the hallway outside, he informed me that I was to leave.
A different member of the O'Rourke campaign staff, who said his name was ''Steven'' and would not give a last name, said that I was being ejected because I had been ''disruptive'' at past events.
This reporter has covered two O'Rourke events. The first was at a protest outside a shelter for migrant teens in Homestead, Florida, in June; the second was at the College of Charleston ''Bully Pulpit'' lecture in Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday evening. At no point was there any disruption whatsoever.
This reporter asked a question during a press gaggle on Monday evening; that was the only interaction of any kind with the candidate.
The question asked the Democratic presidential hopeful whether misquoting Trump's comments on riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 was consistent with O'Rourke's pledge to ''heal'' and not ''inflame'' divisions in this country.
In the hallway at Benedict, ''Steven'' threatened this reporter, saying that I could either leave voluntarily or be ''officially uninvited'' from campus, suggesting arrest.
This reporter complied with the police officer, who said that he was just doing his job.
This reporter has appeared regularly as a guest on MSNBC, and has covered the first two Democrat Party presidential primary debates in the 2020 cycle, with the approval of both MSNBC and CNN.
In addition, this reporter has covered campaign events for all of the major primary candidates, including former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
During a town hall that aired on MSNBC last year, O'Rourke was asked by a college professor what he would do to protect press freedom. He said: ''If we don't have a free press, if we cannot make informed decisions at the ballot box, if we can't hold people like me accountable, and make sure that we're held honest to the promises that we made, to the job that we're performing in these positions of public trust, we'll lose the essence of our democracy.''
The press is not the enemy of the people but the best defense against tyranny. We need to vigorously defend the freedom of the press. It's essential for our democracy. pic.twitter.com/LnqtevuOCV
'-- Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) October 30, 2018
He added that ''we need to vigorously defend the freedom of the press'' and that ''we need to call out violations.''
Benedict College is a private institution that has hosted many distinguished political speakers in the past, such as President Barack Obama, who told an audience there in 2015: ''There are neighborhoods where it is easier for you to buy a handgun'... than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable.''
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
My husband dumped me for Ilhan Omar, DC mom says in divorce filing
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:20
A Washington, DC, mom says her political-consultant husband left her for Rep. Ilhan Omar, according to a bombshell divorce filing obtained by The Post.
Dr. Beth Mynett says her cheating spouse, Tim Mynett, told her in April that he was having an affair with the Somali-born US representative '-- and that he even made a ''shocking declaration of love'' for the Minnesota congresswoman before he ditched his wife, alleges the filing, submitted in DC Superior Court on Tuesday.
The physician, 55, and her 38-year-old husband '-- who has worked for left-wing Democrats such as Omar and her Minnesota predecessor, Keith Ellison '-- have a 13-year-old son together.
''The parties physically separated on or about April 7, 2019, when Defendant told Plaintiff that he was romantically involved with and in love with another woman, Ilhan Omar,'' the court papers say.
''Defendant met Rep. Omar while working for her,'' the document states. ''Although devastated by the betrayal and deceit that preceded his abrupt declaration, Plaintiff told Defendant that she loved him, and was willing to fight for the marriage.
''Defendant, however, told her that was not an option for him'' and moved out the next day, the papers say.
''It is clear to Plaintiff that her marriage to Defendant is over and that there is no hope of reconciliation,'' according to the filing.
The Mynetts lived together for six years before marrying in 2012, the filing said.
Omar '-- a member of ''the Squad,'' a group of far left-leaning female freshman House members including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and two others '-- recently separated from her husband, according to reports.
The 37-year-old congresswoman and mom of three paid Tim Mynett and his E. Street Group approximately $230,000 through her campaign since 2018 for fundraising consulting, digital communications, internet advertising and travel expenses.
Omar was spotted enjoying time with Tim Mynett at a California restaurant in March.
Beth Mynett is seeking primary physical custody of her and her husband's son in part because of Tim Mynett's ''extensive travel'' with Omar '-- which isn't exactly part of his job description, the document says.
''Defendant's more recent travel and long work hours now appear to be more related to his affair with Rep. Omar than with his actual work commitments,'' the court papers state.
Tim Mynett and Ilhan Omar with her daughter SplashNews.comWhen he was home, ''he was preoccupied and emotionally volatile,'' Beth Mynett says of her estranged spouse. Meanwhile, the mom has been juggling ''the vast majority of responsibilities related to [their son's] school, medical care, and extracurricular activities,'' the papers say.
The doctor argued that she doesn't trust her husband's judgment with their son anymore '-- in part because of his relationship with Omar.
''By way of example, days prior to Defendant's devastating and shocking declaration of love for Rep. Omar and admission of their affair, he and Rep. Omar took the parties' son to dinner to formally meet for the first time at the family's favorite neighborhood restaurant while Plaintiff was out of town,'' the papers state.
''Rep. Omar gave the parties' son a gift and the Defendant later brought her back inside the family's home,'' the papers say.
Beth Mynett said in the filing that the most concerning thing about the excursion was her hubby's decision to ''put his son in harm's way by taking him out in public with Rep. Omar, who at that time had garnered a plethora of media attention along with death threats, one rising to the level of arresting the known would-be assassin that same week.''
Beth Mynett CourtesyThe physician said her husband ''has a history of emotional volatility, that can cause him to become easily angered and rageful,'' according to the papers.
She added that she used her contacts to help him launch and grow his career and financially supported him along the way '-- only to have him ''conveniently asserting after their separation that he is nearly broke, and his business is floundering,'' the documents show.
Tim Mynett, using ''bullying tactics,'' has ''begun threatening not to pay for his share of their joint financial responsibilities,'' Beth Mynett says in the complaint.
She is seeking full control of the couple's DC home, child support and legal fees, according to the filing.
Tim Mynett and Omar did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Omar's husband, Ahmed Hirsi, is a former banker who was hired as a senior policy aide to a Minnesota city councilwoman last year, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported at the time. Omar was previously married to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi.
President Trump has repeated a claim that the union with Elmi was illegal immigration fraud because he is her brother and that they wed so he could obtain American citizenship. Omar called that allegation ''absolutely false and ridiculous.''
Additional reporting by Nikki Schwab and Ben Feuerherd
Nearly one of every three dollars spent on Ilhan Omar's campaign has gone to her alleged lover's firm
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:13
| August 27, 2019 09:42 PM
T he New York Post reported Tuesday on a high-profile divorce. To be specific, a woman has claimed in court papers that her husband has been cheating on her, carrying on with married Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Omar's alleged paramour, Tim Mynett, has been a fundraising consultant for Omar's 2018 and 2020 campaigns.
Omar hasn't commented on the accusations, but there's a possible second scandal involving the more than $200,000 that her campaign has spent with Mynett's firm.
Of the $145,406 reported earnings by the E Street Group during the 2018 campaign cycle, $62,674 came from Omar's campaign. Not counting payroll taxes and transfers to Minnesota's Democratic Party, E Street Group was Omar's second-largest vendor, according to FEC data. From Labor Day through the end of the year, E Street Group ate up more than 10% of her campaign's spending (not counting transfers to other campaigns).
Here's the odd thing: The overwhelming majority of Omar's funds spent on the E Street Group were paid after she won the contested primary and during the totally noncompetitive general election race in her D+26 district. Contrary to FEC rules, Omar's filings did not designate whether her E Street Group disbursements (or any of her disbursements) were for the primary election or the general election.
The Omar campaign payments to the E Street Group, often reported as "fundraising consulting" fees on her FEC filings, have accelerated in the 2020 cycle. Her campaign has spent $160,000 at E Street this year, the campaign off year. That's nearly one in every three dollars spent on her reelection (again, not including transfers to other campaigns or committees) going to her alleged lover.
Omar did not answer the Post's questions about the alleged affair. Her congressional office declined to answer my questions, instead passing along a campaign email address. Her campaign did not respond to an email.
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have plans to save journalism industry in crisis - Vox
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 12:16
The journalism industry's landscape looks bleak '-- and Democratic presidential candidates are talking about it.
President Donald Trump is calling the media the ''enemy of the people.'' Major media companies are consolidating, like the recently announced Gannett and GateHouse media merger, mass layoffs are on the horizon, and local newspapers are shuttering at a concerning speed. All the while, newsroom budgets are dwindling and the digital media industry faces financial pressures that have shaped newsroom priorities away from reporting.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) released his response to these dire state in a new plan this week, which includes a series of regulations aimed at the top, and a campaign to organize workers. His plan calls for a moratorium on major media mergers, blames major tech companies for bilking newsrooms' revenue, and promotes his push to unionize newsrooms across the country.
''Trump's authoritarian bullying of the media is totally unacceptable and it must be denounced and rejected,'' Sanders wrote in an op-ed with the Columbia Journal Review this week. ''But let us be clear: that alone will not solve the journalism crisis. Moreover, a further expansion of oligarchic business models in the media industry could make matters worse.''
The ''journalism crisis'' Sanders is talking about is disproportionately impacting newspapers around the country. Major metropolitan papers and their smaller, local counterparts are on life support as the companies that own them have cut journalists, editors, and photographers from staff. Pew Research Center found about 28,000 journalists nationwide lost their jobs from 2008 to 2018. The implications: For the approximately 1,400 cities and towns that have lost their newspapers, there are no watchdogs to report on local governments. Without that accountability, one Notre Dame study even found local financial costs like municipal bonds have risen in those communities.
A competitive and rich media landscape is good for democracy at all levels of government, not just the federal government. But local media is dying. The question is: Could the next president save it?
Sanders spins his tumultuous relationship with the press into a plan Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talks to journalists in Des Moines, Iowa, in August.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Sanders himself has a rocky relationship with the press. Last month Sanders quipped to supporters, ''I wonder why the Washington Post '-- which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon '-- doesn't write particularly good articles about me.'' (Sanders has been critical of Amazon's labor and wage policies.) He later walked back the comment, saying he ''absolutely'' does not believe Bezos is directly involved in coverage at the paper, after the Washington Post, an independent entity, called the comment a conspiracy theory.
But in a newsletter put out by the campaign, Sanders campaign adviser David Sirota wrote that ''reporters don't have to receive a call from Jeff Bezos to know that their paychecks are signed by a billionaire with a well-known personal and corporate agenda '-- and knowing that agenda exists can shape overall frameworks and angles of coverage.''
To some extent, this latest plan from the Sanders campaign clarifies its war with ''corporate media,'' framing it within the candidate's broader worldview: one where the CEOs in Silicon Valley and hedge fund and vulture capitalists on Wall Street are chipping away at democracy. It expands some ideas already floated by presidential candidates like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Chuck Plunkett, the former editorial page editor for the Denver Post and now the director of the University of Colorado News Corp, told Vox these ideas from presidential candidates can't come a minute too soon '-- especially in the age of Trump.
''I hope it gets oxygen, I hope it becomes a platform,'' Plunkett said. ''That's the kind of energy we need, the thinking we need. '... What we sure don't need is calling those people the enemy of the people.''
The Sanders plan to save journalism, explainedSanders is identifying three problems in the journalism industry: The media industry is consolidating, big tech companies like Facebook and Google have too much control over the industry's revenue, and journalists don't have enough bargaining power.
Sanders' plan is aimed at stopping major media consolidation
Sanders's plan would order an ''immediate moratorium on approving mergers of major media corporations,'' ''limit the number of stations that large broadcasting corporations can own in each market and nationwide,'' and ''require major media corporations to disclose whether or not their corporate transactions and merger proposals will involve significant journalism layoffs.''
Under the Trump administration, the Federal Communications Commission has moved mostly in the opposite direction, paving the way for more consolidation in the industry. In 2017, the FCC eliminated decades-old rules that restricted companies from owning a radio or TV station and a newspaper in the same market, and made it easier for companies to own multiple TV stations in one market.
Ajit Pai, Trump's chair of the FCC, said the move was to ''strengthen local voices,'' but the changes were panned by Democrats on the board who said it would only enable major companies to nationalize local news coverage and limit the number of voices and jobs.
As Vox's Dylan Matthews reported, this has been the strategy with groups like Sinclair, a conservative-leaning broadcast media company that has been acquiring new affiliates in more markets for decades. Matthews writes that Sinclair has been working around the FCC requirement to hitting the absolute maximum level of viewer reach that a broadcasting conglomerate of its kind is allowed to have under federal regulations; it owns 173 TV stations across the country. (You can see which affiliates Sinclair owns in your local market thanks to Vox's Alvin Chang).
It's worth noting a proposed merger between Sinclair and Tribune Media fell through last year because the FCC alleged the company misled the body on how the merger would stay within the bounds of a regulation that limits companies to reaching no more than 39 percent of all US households. But Sinclair still has an unprecedented amount of influence in the local TV market.
Sanders is saying his administration would reestablish and strengthen the enforcement around antitrust at the FCC. But according to Bill Grueskin, an expert on the journalism industry at Columbia University, this might be more effective with TV than with print.
''Local TV is still very profitable, especially if you have stations in swing states like Ohio or Florida,'' he told Vox over email. ''And the audience hasn't shrunk a great deal. So to the extent that preventing mergers can help keep more independent voices in local TV '-- especially given the heavy-handed nature of Sinclair's editorial management '-- that's a good thing.''
This is especially important given the outsized influence local TV has compared to major network or cable television.
But print hasn't weathered the digital transition as well as TV and there have been ''rapid declines in print advertising, flat or modest improvements in digital ads that don't come close to compensating for print losses, and for many newspapers, a pretty ineffective digital subscription model that has already captured many of the customers likely to pay for access to a site'' that are still impacting local newsrooms, Greuskin said.
Sanders addresses big tech's role in the journalism industry
Sanders is putting the blame on Google and Facebook, which have played a large role in disrupting the traditional advertising revenue model that news organizations rely on. Sanders says he would like to prevent companies like Google and Facebook ''from using their enormous market power to cannibalize, bilk, and defund news organizations.''
In 2018, advertising revenue from all digital platforms '-- not just news outlets '-- rose by 23 percent making up nearly half of all advertising revenue in the US, Pew reported. But half of all digital revenue went to Facebook and Google. For news outlets, this growth hasn't made up losses from traditional advertising markets.
The plan backs a bill originally written by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in the Senate, which would temporarily exempt news organizations from competition laws and allow them to collectively bargain with these tech companies like Google and Facebook to get better prices.
Sanders said he would also consider ''taxing targeted ads and using the revenue to fund nonprofit civic-minded media,'' essentially pulling money from these tech giants and reallocating it toward local-news outlets. But there's a big open question in this plan: Who would get that money?
''Shouting at [Facebook] and Google also doesn't do much unless you're willing to try to extract revenue from them '-- and then you have to figure out how to disburse that money and decide which news orgs should get it,'' Greuskin said.
Sanders plan also incorporates his larger push for unions and employee ownership
Lastly, Sanders's media plan emphasizes his ambitious push to double union membership in the country by the end of his first term. Sanders has already shown solidarity with unionizing newsrooms, like BuzzFeed's and, full disclosure, Vox Media's. His ''workplace democracy'' plan proposes several measures that would make it easier for employees to collectively bargain.
Notably, he backs giving employees the opportunity to purchase media outlets through employee stock-ownership plans.
The theory behind an employee-owned newsroom is, as Sanders points out, that a lot of media companies make money. Gannett, for example, took in $751.4 million in operating revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018, with a small loss overall. Yet, instead of reinvesting money into the journalism or staff resources, newspapers are still cost-cutting by making newsrooms leaner and leaner. In January 2019, Gannett had major nationwide layoffs. That could change if employees owned the company.
Then there's a more cynical view: that advertising revenue is actually going down, and circulation revenue is going down.
FRED Employee-owned models have been tried in newsrooms like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Chicago Tribune with varying degrees of success. For example, as detailed by Sandra Borden, a Western Michigan University communications professor, in her book Journalism as Practice, papers like the Journal Sentinel and the Omaha World-Herald were able to ''maintain higher levels of staffing, coverage, and penetration'' than peer newsrooms with employer-owned structures.
But eventually financial troubles, management issues, and a lack of resources roiled those attempts as well as others. ''Such arrangements are difficult to construct because they require complex bylaws and financing to ensure that employees can afford to buy stock and they will not sell to outsiders,'' Borden writes.
Poor management in the Chicago Tribune's case shut the employee-owned stock system down. And the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is currently owned by Gannett.
Elizabeth Warren has also proposed targeting private investment firmsWhile Bernie Sanders wants to regulate media mergers, Elizabeth Warren aims to regulate the private equity firms that have made a business of buying, gutting, and selling newspapers.
Warren's idea is fairly straightforward, and a smaller piece of a larger ''economic patriotism'' plan. Specifically, Warren wants to regulate private equity firms and investment companies that make money by buying companies including local newspapers, cutting costs by shedding staff and resources, and selling the shell of that company for a profit.
As Vox's Emily Stewart explained, ''The bill would overhaul the way private equity is governed and require the industry to change some of its most lucrative business practices. It would also offer more protections for workers when their private equity-owned employers go south. ... It would mean that to make a lot of money, they'd have to make really good bets.''
A news photographer prepares for an evening live shoot outside of the governor's mansion in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2016. Al Drago/CQ Roll Call In other words, one of the biggest parts of Warren's private equity idea is making it much for difficult for these investment firms to make money if the businesses they buy fail. If her plan was implemented, these groups in theory would need to make sure they were leaving behind a healthy, sustainable local newspaper or media company, rather than an empty newsroom.
''Private equity is also wiping out local and regional newspapers with the same playbook: buying papers for cheap, slashing the staff to cut costs, and bleeding the company with fees and dividends,'' Warren wrote in a Medium post. ''When the papers fail, members of the press lose their jobs and communities lose valuable sources of local news coverage.''
One of the prime examples Warren cited is the Denver Post, the major metro paper serving the Denver area that went from a staff of more than 280 in 2003 to around 60 currently. The Post is owned by Alden Global Capital, a New York-based hedge fund that owns newspapers around the country.
As the Denver Post's editorial board wrote in 2018, Alden raised subscription rates while it ordered round after round of cuts from the newsroom, even as the paper demonstrated it was profitable and award-winning.
''You had another year where you'd hit ambitious targets, we embraced video, we made all those changes, and another 20 [people] would get cut,'' Plunkett told Vox. ''It just seemed arbitrary, it seemed like they had a number in their head. What their endgame ultimately is ... is acquiring massive numbers of newspapers and bleeding them dry.''
Other 2020 candidates are thinking about how to save local newsOther presidential candidates including Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang are also thinking about ways to save local journalism.
Klobuchar and Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act in the Senate (the bill was originally drafted by Rep. David Cicilline in the House). The bill would allow media companies, including newspapers, to negotiate directly with big tech companies like Facebook and Google ''to improve the access to and the quality of news online.''
The main goal of the bill is to suspend federal and state antitrust laws for 48 months to allow media companies to collectively bargain with these tech companies (current laws make it hard for them to do so). But beyond opening up a path for negotiations, it doesn't spell out exactly what would happen beyond that.
Journalist Paul Mason protests outside the Houses of Parliament on August 28, 2019 in London.Peter Summers/Getty Images And Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur primarily running on a universal basic income, has proposed a plan to have the federal government subsidize journalism '-- specifically, placing government-funded journalists in less-covered states and regions, and creating a fund to put more resources toward local news. This is similar to how the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) funds 144 ''local democracy reporters'' to news organizations in England, Scotland, and Wales. The BBC is in part funded by a household fee set by the British government.
No matter what, Plunkett is heartened these conversations are happening on the presidential campaign level.
''I think it's a healthy discussion to have right now,'' Plunkett said. ''Journalism isn't broken, it's the funding. Conversations that seek to empower that is helpful and useful and exciting.''
Big crowds stir talk of momentum for Warren | TheHill
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 12:12
Sen. Elizabeth Warren Elizabeth Ann WarrenFormer Biden economic adviser: 'I really like a lot of' Warren's tax proposals Poll: Trump trails top 2020 Democrats in Michigan Monmouth acknowledges poll showing Biden losing support was 'outlier' MORE is making waves with the big crowds that she's attracting to campaign events across the country.
The Massachusetts Democrat drew 15,000 people to a presidential campaign event in Seattle on Aug. 25, and 12,000 to an event at Macalester College in St. Paul '-- her first campaign event in the state '-- on Aug. 19.
The crowds have drawn attention to her campaign from Democrats and other members of the media who see it as a sign she might be gaining momentum in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.
A former aide to President Obama, who also drew big crowds during his campaign for the White House, marveled at the size of Warren's crowds at this stage of the race.
''What Warren is doing this early on is pretty unprecedented,'' the aide said, adding that Obama's events didn't attract thousands of people until well into the primary cycle.
''If we would have attracted crowd sizes that large early on, Hillary would have run for the hills,'' the aide said, referring to Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll: Support rises for 2020 Democrats favoring 'Medicare for All' Overlooked Nevada seeks to pack a bigger punch in 2020 race Trump to hold campaign rally in North Carolina day before special House election MORE , who Obama beat out in the 2008 primary.
Polls don't show Warren running away with the nomination contest.
Nationally, she trailed frontrunner Joe Biden Joe BidenFormer Biden economic adviser: 'I really like a lot of' Warren's tax proposals Poll: Trump trails top 2020 Democrats in Michigan Monmouth acknowledges poll showing Biden losing support was 'outlier' MORE by double-digits in two national polls released on Wednesday. She also trailed Sen. Bernie Sanders Bernie SandersFormer Biden economic adviser: 'I really like a lot of' Warren's tax proposals Poll: Trump trails top 2020 Democrats in Michigan Monmouth acknowledges poll showing Biden losing support was 'outlier' MORE (I-Vt.) in the two surveys.
But the big crowds could be a sign that Warren is building toward something.
''It shows growing enthusiasm, people want to see and hear her,'' said Democratic strategist Eddie Vale. ''Crowd size in August isn't going to decide the race, but it certainly helps.''
Warren isn't the only candidate who can draw a crowd.
Sanders drew huge audiences in 2016, and the trend has continued in this cycle.
In March, Sanders aides say they drew 16,000 supporters to a rally in San Francisco, the Vermont senator's biggest crowd so far.
They also drew 15,124 people to a rally in Los Angeles that same month. Rallies in New York and Chicago also in March drew more than 13,000 and 12,000 respectively, the Sanders campaign said.
''There is an incredible level of enthusiasm for Sen. Sanders in states all across the country,'' Faiz Shakir, Sanders's campaign manager, said in an email to The Hill. ''It is telling that not only does Sen. Sanders attract energetic crowds but that these events are filled with people who are deeply engaged in the political process and the future of our country, often for the first time.''
Democrats historically have warmed to the candidate who can attract the crowds.
Obama in 2008 and Bill Clinton William (Bill) Jefferson ClintonVideo from camera outside Epstein jail cell unusable: report New data challenges Trump's economic narrative The ideological divide on vaping has a clear winner: Smokers MORE in 1992 are two examples of Democratic candidates whose crowds foreshadowed victories.
Strategists say drawing a crowd is also important in the Trump era given the president's obsession with the subject.
On Tuesday, Trump belittled Warren's crowds, saying his were ''far bigger'' and complaining that they ''get no coverage at all.''
Biden has been the steady leader in the Democratic race, but he doesn't appear to be drawing big crowds.
At an event in Keene, N.H., over the weekend, Biden addressed a crowd of approximately 300 people. The former vice president's largest crowd to date was his May kick-off event in Philadelphia, which drew an estimated 6,000 supporters.
''His ground game doesn't seem to be as good,'' said another former Obama aide, who remains undecided in the Democratic primary. ''Could he pull off 15,000 people in Washington State organically? It doesn't seem that way.''
Drawing a big crowd in Iowa might be more important than drawing a big crowd in Seattle.
And none of the big three candidates appear to be pulling particularly large crowds in any of the early-voting states.
Warren's largest crowd in an early state, for example, was approximately 1,100 earlier this month in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Several weeks ago, she also spoke to a crowd of approximately 925 in Aiken, South Carolina and 700 in Franconia, New Hampshire.
''At this point, I'd look closer at whether these campaigns can pull 500 people in Oscaloosa, Iowa '-- population 11,000 '-- than 16,000 people in San Francisco, population 850,000,'' the second former Obama aide said.
Doug Landry, who served as trip director to Tim Kaine Timothy (Tim) Michael KaineA lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Warren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Almost three-quarters say minimum age to buy tobacco should be 21: Gallup MORE as part of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, noted that crowd size ''doesn't always translate to support at the ballot box.''
When he served as an advance staffer on Clinton's presidential campaigns, Landry said, ''we had to work a lot harder to convince people to actually make the effort to come out to see her.
Since Clinton had already been a public figure on the national stage, ''voters felt like they already knew her.''
He said that could be a problem for Biden.
''When you're in the news for a quarter century, it's hard to get people to come out to 'learn about this new candidate' '-- and I think that's the same dynamic at work for Joe Biden's solid but not huge crowds since he's been in public life for even longer,'' Landry said.
Lynda Tran, a Democratic strategist who served as the national press secretary for Organizing for America, cautioned that campaigns design different types of events to suit particular needs.
''So size is definitely not everything when it comes to measuring success,'' Tran said.
But, she added, ''from an organizers perspective, you always hope for a great turnout.''
'''...The optics of a capacity or over-capacity crowd make fantastic headlines that boost voter and donor interest, shore up staff and volunteer morale, and feed into an overall narrative about campaign momentum,'' she said.
Any Collusion?
Trump lawyer demands MSNBC retract report alleging banking ties to Russian oligarchs | TheHill
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 19:03
An attorney for President Trump Donald John TrumpOur justice system must reward success Former Biden economic adviser: 'I really like a lot of' Warren's tax proposals Roy Moore calls for Omar to go back from 'whence she came' MORE on Wednesday demanded a retraction and apology following an MSNBC report alleging the president obtained loans from Deutsche Bank with Russian oligarchs as co-signers.
Charles Harder sent a letter to NBCUniversal saying the remarks made Tuesday night on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell Lawrence Francis O'DonnellThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape Federal guidance identifying 'go back to where you came from' as discrimination goes viral after Trump comments The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Democrats' first debate night MORE " were false and defamatory, according to a copy of the letter made public by Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi.
''I may have some information, in this next hour, which would add a great deal to their understanding of that, if true, and I'll be discussing it here,'' O'Donnell said. "I stress 'if true,' because this is a single source who has told me that Deutsche Bank obtained tax returns."
O'Donnell, a staunch critic of the president, said later in the program that the story will "need a lot more verification before that can be a confirmable fact."
The White House also condemned the report.
The Hill reached out to MSNBC, which declined to comment.
The details of O'Donnell's report have not been verified by NBC News, according to a tweet by MSNBC "Morning Joe" producer Mike Del Moro.
Deutsche Bank is declining to comment on Lawrence O'Donnell's reporting that Russian oligarch's co-signed Trump's loans. The information came from a single source who has not seen the bank records. NBC has not seen those records and has not yet been able to verify the reporting.
'-- Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) August 28, 2019''Deutsche Bank is declining to comment on Lawrence O'Donnell's reporting that Russian oligarchs co-signed Trump's loans. The information came from a single source who has not seen the bank records. NBC has not seen those records and has not yet been able to verify the reporting,'' Del Moro tweeted.
Hong Kong
PLA 'ready to defend Hong Kong' after morning arrival Beijing says is routine troop rotation | South China Morning Post
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 12:46
PLA military vehicles pass into Hong Kong at Huanggang Port in the early hours of Thursday. Photo: Xinhua
Photos show troops arriving in the city before dawn, with military armoured vehicles exchanged for anti-riot typesArmed helicopters from the Hong Kong garrison's air force then fly in during daylightTopic | China military
Minnie Chan
Published: 11:09am, 29 Aug, 2019
Updated: 8:30pm, 29 Aug, 2019
PLA military vehicles pass into Hong Kong at Huanggang Port in the early hours of Thursday. Photo: Xinhua
Green New Deal
Michael Mann, creator of the infamous global warming 'hockey stick,' loses lawsuit against climate skeptic, ordered to pay defendant's costs
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:39
The graph's methodology and accuracy have been and continue to be hotly contested, but Mann has taken the tack of suing two of his most prominent critics for defamation or libel. One case, against Mark Steyn, is called by Steyn likely to end up in the Supreme Court. But another case, against Dr. Tim Ball was decided by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, with Mann's case thrown out, and him ordered to pay the defendant's legal costs, no doubt a tidy sum of money. News first broke in Wattsupwiththat, via an email Ball sent to Anthony Watt. Later, Principia-Scientific offered extensive details, including much background on the hockey stick.
The Canadian court issued it's final ruling in favor of the Dismissal motion that was filed in May 2019 by Dr Tim Ball's libel lawyers.
Not only did the court grant Ball's application for dismissal of the nine-year, multi-million dollar lawsuit, it also took the additional step of awarding full legal costs to Ball. A detailed public statement from the world-renowned skeptical climatologist is expected in due course.
This extraordinary outcome is expected to trigger severe legal repercussions for Dr Mann in the U.S. and may prove fatal to climate science claims that modern temperatures are ''unprecedented.'' (snip)
Dr Mann lost his case because he refused to show in open court his R2 regression numbers (the 'working out') behind the world-famous 'hockey stick' graph (shown below).
Real science, not the phony ''consensus'' version, requires open access to data, so that skeptics (who play a key role in science) can see if results are reproducible. Of course, there are no falsifiable experimental data associated with the global warming predictions of doom, so it doesn't really stand as science as Karl Popper defined it
This is an important victory in the process of debunking the warmist scare.
Update 1: Michael Mann disputes the notion that he lost (and more):
There have been some wildly untruthful claims about the recent dismissal of libel litigation against Tim Ball circulating on social media. Here is our statement (https://t.co/8tGoBZnE3Y): pic.twitter.com/ySeJcOktX9
'-- Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) August 23, 2019 Update 2: technology.news has a rather different take than Mann, noting that further legal steps are on their way.
Penn State climate scientist, Michael 'hockey stick' Mann commits contempt of court in the 'climate science trial of the century.' Prominent alarmist shockingly defies judge and refuses to surrender data for open court examination. Only possible outcome: Mann's humiliation, defeat and likely criminal investigation in the U.S.
The defendant in the libel trial, the 79-year-old Canadian climatologist, Dr Tim Ball ... is expected to instruct his British Columbia attorneys to trigger mandatory punitive court sanctions, including a ruling that Mann did act with criminal intent when using public funds to commit climate data fraud. Mann's imminent defeat is set to send shock waves worldwide within the climate science community as the outcome will be both a legal and scientific vindication of U.S. President Donald Trump's claims that climate scare stories are a ''hoax.'' (snip)
Michael Mann, who chose to file what many consider to be a cynical SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) libel suit in the British Columbia Supreme Court, Vancouver six long years ago, has astonished legal experts by refusing to comply with the court direction to hand over all his disputed graph's data. Mann's iconic hockey stick has been relied upon by the UN's IPCC and western governments as crucial evidence for the science of 'man-made global warming.' (snip)
The negative and unresponsive actions of Dr Mann and his lawyer, Roger McConchie, are expected to infuriate the judge and be the signal for the collapse of Mann's multi-million dollar libel suit against Dr Ball. It will be music to the ears of so-called 'climate deniers' like President Donald Trump and his EPA Chief, Scott Pruitt.
As Dr Ball explains:
''Michael Mann moved for an adjournment of the trial scheduled for February 20, 2017. We had little choice because Canadian courts always grant adjournments before a trial in their belief that an out of court settlement is preferable. We agreed to an adjournment with conditions. The major one was that he [Mann] produce all documents including computer codes by February 20th, 2017. He failed to meet the deadline.''
Punishment for Civil Contempt
Mann's now proven contempt of court means Ball is entitled to have the court serve upon Mann the fullest punishment. Contempt sanctions could reasonably include the judge ruling that Dr. Ball's statement that Mann ''belongs in the state pen, not Penn. State' is a precise and true statement of fact. This is because under Canada's unique 'Truth Defense', Mann is now proven to have wilfully hidden his data, so the court may rule he hid it because it is fake. As such, the court must then dismiss Mann's entire libel suit with costs awarded to Ball and his team.
Updated and bumped. See updates below
Michael Mann, a climatologist at Penn State University, is the creator of the ''hockey stick graph'' that appears to show global temperatures taking a noticeable swing upward in the era when humanity has been burning fossil fuels and dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. The graph was first published in 1998, prominently featured in the 2001 UN Climate Report, and formed part of Al Gore's 2006 movie, An Inconvenient Truth.
The graph's methodology and accuracy have been and continue to be hotly contested, but Mann has taken the tack of suing two of his most prominent critics for defamation or libel. One case, against Mark Steyn, is called by Steyn likely to end up in the Supreme Court. But another case, against Dr. Tim Ball was decided by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, with Mann's case thrown out, and him ordered to pay the defendant's legal costs, no doubt a tidy sum of money. News first broke in Wattsupwiththat, via an email Ball sent to Anthony Watt. Later, Principia-Scientific offered extensive details, including much background on the hockey stick.
The Canadian court issued it's final ruling in favor of the Dismissal motion that was filed in May 2019 by Dr Tim Ball's libel lawyers.
Not only did the court grant Ball's application for dismissal of the nine-year, multi-million dollar lawsuit, it also took the additional step of awarding full legal costs to Ball. A detailed public statement from the world-renowned skeptical climatologist is expected in due course.
This extraordinary outcome is expected to trigger severe legal repercussions for Dr Mann in the U.S. and may prove fatal to climate science claims that modern temperatures are ''unprecedented.'' (snip)
Dr Mann lost his case because he refused to show in open court his R2 regression numbers (the 'working out') behind the world-famous 'hockey stick' graph (shown below).
Real science, not the phony ''consensus'' version, requires open access to data, so that skeptics (who play a key role in science) can see if results are reproducible. Of course, there are no falsifiable experimental data associated with the global warming predictions of doom, so it doesn't really stand as science as Karl Popper defined it
This is an important victory in the process of debunking the warmist scare.
Update 1: Michael Mann disputes the notion that he lost (and more):
There have been some wildly untruthful claims about the recent dismissal of libel litigation against Tim Ball circulating on social media. Here is our statement (https://t.co/8tGoBZnE3Y): pic.twitter.com/ySeJcOktX9
'-- Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) August 23, 2019 Update 2: technology.news has a rather different take than Mann, noting that further legal steps are on their way.
Penn State climate scientist, Michael 'hockey stick' Mann commits contempt of court in the 'climate science trial of the century.' Prominent alarmist shockingly defies judge and refuses to surrender data for open court examination. Only possible outcome: Mann's humiliation, defeat and likely criminal investigation in the U.S.
The defendant in the libel trial, the 79-year-old Canadian climatologist, Dr Tim Ball ... is expected to instruct his British Columbia attorneys to trigger mandatory punitive court sanctions, including a ruling that Mann did act with criminal intent when using public funds to commit climate data fraud. Mann's imminent defeat is set to send shock waves worldwide within the climate science community as the outcome will be both a legal and scientific vindication of U.S. President Donald Trump's claims that climate scare stories are a ''hoax.'' (snip)
Michael Mann, who chose to file what many consider to be a cynical SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) libel suit in the British Columbia Supreme Court, Vancouver six long years ago, has astonished legal experts by refusing to comply with the court direction to hand over all his disputed graph's data. Mann's iconic hockey stick has been relied upon by the UN's IPCC and western governments as crucial evidence for the science of 'man-made global warming.' (snip)
The negative and unresponsive actions of Dr Mann and his lawyer, Roger McConchie, are expected to infuriate the judge and be the signal for the collapse of Mann's multi-million dollar libel suit against Dr Ball. It will be music to the ears of so-called 'climate deniers' like President Donald Trump and his EPA Chief, Scott Pruitt.
As Dr Ball explains:
''Michael Mann moved for an adjournment of the trial scheduled for February 20, 2017. We had little choice because Canadian courts always grant adjournments before a trial in their belief that an out of court settlement is preferable. We agreed to an adjournment with conditions. The major one was that he [Mann] produce all documents including computer codes by February 20th, 2017. He failed to meet the deadline.''
Punishment for Civil Contempt
Mann's now proven contempt of court means Ball is entitled to have the court serve upon Mann the fullest punishment. Contempt sanctions could reasonably include the judge ruling that Dr. Ball's statement that Mann ''belongs in the state pen, not Penn. State' is a precise and true statement of fact. This is because under Canada's unique 'Truth Defense', Mann is now proven to have wilfully hidden his data, so the court may rule he hid it because it is fake. As such, the court must then dismiss Mann's entire libel suit with costs awarded to Ball and his team.
Michael Mann Refuses to Produce Data, Loses Case | Power Line
Sun, 25 Aug 2019 20:56
Some years ago, Dr. Tim Ball wrote that climate scientist Michael Mann ''belongs in the state pen, not Penn State.'' At issue was Mann's famous ''hockey stick'' graph that purported to show a sudden and unprecedented 20th century warming trend. The hockey stick featured prominently in the IPCC's Third Assessment Report (2001), but has since been shown to be wrong. The question, in my view, is whether it was an innocent mistake or deliberate fraud on Mann's part. (Mann, I believe, continues to assert the accuracy of his debunked graph.) Mann sued Ball for libel in 2011. Principia Scientific now reports that the court in British Columbia has dismissed Mann's lawsuit with prejudice, and assessed costs against him.
What happened was that Dr. Ball asserted a truth defense. He argued that the hockey stick was a deliberate fraud, something that could be proved if one had access to the data and calculations, in particular the R2 regression analysis, underlying it. Mann refused to produce these documents. He was ordered to produce them by the court and given a deadline. He still refused to produce them, so the court dismissed his case.
The rules of discovery provide that a litigant must make available to opposing parties documents that reasonably bear on the issues in the case. Here, it is absurd for Mann to sue Ball for libel, and then refuse to produce the documents that would have helped to show whether Ball's statement about him''he belongs in the state pen''was true or false. The logical inference is that the R2 regression analysis and other materials, if produced, would have supported Ball's claim that the hockey stick was a deliberate fraud on Mann's part.
Mann says that his lawyers are considering an appeal. He can appeal to his heart's content, but there is not a court in North America that will allow a libel case to proceed where the plaintiff refuses to produce the documents that may show whether the statements made about him were true or false.
Mann responded to the dismissal of his lawsuit in typically mean-spirited and dishonest fashion: ''The dismissal involved the alleged exercise of a discretion on [sic] the Court to dismiss a lawsuit for delay.'' The dismissal was for failure to obey a court order, and the delay went on for eight years.
Fun fact: I learned while tracking down Michael Mann's statement about the court's order that he has blocked me on Twitter:
It must have been something I said.
(5) Byron York on Twitter: "Remember the 'hockey stick'? Read @jhinderaker on latest from climate wars: Micheal Mann refuses to produce data, loses case.' https://t.co/sFs6UMLU9v https://t.co/0qVMzLgjlE" / Twitter
Sun, 25 Aug 2019 20:57
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Sometimes, a Greener Grid Means a 40,000% Spike in Power Prices
Tue, 27 Aug 2019 15:40
(Bloomberg) -- The road to a world powered by renewable energy is littered with unintended consequences. Like a 40,000% surge in electricity prices.
Texas power prices jumped from less than $15 to as much as $9,000 a megawatt-hour this month as coal plant retirements and weak winds left the region on the brink of blackouts during a heat wave. It's a phenomenon playing out worldwide. Germany averted three blackouts of its own in June and has seen prices both spike and plunge below zero within days as it swaps out coal and nuclear energy for wind and solar. In the U.K., more than a million homes lost power on Aug. 9, in part because a wind farm tripped offline.
The recent stumbles serve as a warning shot to the rest of the world as governments work to displace aging nuclear reactors and coal-fired power plants with cheaper and cleaner renewable energy. Grid operators, policy makers and power providers are learning the hard way that losing massive, around-the-clock generators can be a challenge, if not carefully planned.
''We have to have systems in place to make sure we still have enough generation on the grid -- or else, in the best case, we have a blackout, and in the worst case, we have some kind of grid collapse,'' said Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California at Berkeley, where state officials have a goal of getting all power from clean energy resources by 2045.
There is no easy solution.
In Germany, grid operators were forced to tap emergency reserves to avoid outages in the heat of June as some blamed bad wind generation forecasts. Power prices there surged at times on the prospect of shortages and plunged below zero at other times when solar generation flooded the system.
A group representing the nation's biggest power suppliers warned that the grid may become increasingly unstable as the government orders coal and nuclear plants to shut. ''By 2023 at the latest, we will be running with eyes wide open into a shortfall in secure capacity,'' said Stefan Kapferer, a managing director for the group BDEW.
Governors of Germany's coal regions have called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to coordinate a carefully planned exit from the fossil fuel without sending power prices soaring and risking blackouts. The country is meanwhile expected to grow increasingly dependent on imports from neighbors, some of which are dealing with their own energy revolutions.
In the U.K., where coal once provided nearly all electricity, inquiries into the August blackout found that a lightning strike on a transmission line north of London caused a natural gas plant and a giant offshore wind farm to drop off the grid. While officials are still probing the exact cause, National Grid Plc said in a preliminary report to regulators that it's looking into better ways to incorporate renewables.
''Wind generation, solar and interconnectors are different to the conventional electricity generation sources,'' National Grid said in the report.
In Australia, regulators this month took four wind farm operators to court, alleging that their facilities contributed to a massive 2016 blackout. The incident has sparked a debate over whether a nation so rich in coal and natural gas resources should even allow the grid to become so dependent on renewable power.
Some grids have taken on large volumes of solar and wind without widespread blackouts. California, for example, often gets more than 40% of its power from renewable energy resources in the early afternoon and regularly sees its power prices drop below zero. Texas, which has more wind power than anywhere in America, is home to some of the cheapest wholesale electricity in the country. Renewable energy is now the most affordable source of new power generation in two-thirds of the world.
Clean energy advocates point to batteries as a solution to renewables' intermittent nature. Companies including Tesla Inc. and Germany's Sonnen GmbH have developed massive energy-storage systems that can stockpile electricity when demand is low and dispatch it when it's needed. Utilities have also pressed for stronger transmission networks.
The Trump administration has argued the only way to keep a grid resilient is to keep money-losing coal and nuclear plants online with bailouts. Those efforts have gained little traction, but states are carving out subsidies to save reactors from early retirement, sparking a review by federal regulators that has already delayed the largest annual power auction in the U.S. by months.
Meanwhile, in Texas, the grid is becoming increasingly exposed to the swings of wind generation. The run-up in electricity prices earlier this month was in part because generation from farms sank to the lowest level in months.
Unlike Texas, some regions use capacity markets to ensure there's enough power to keep the lights on. In these, plants get paid to guarantee power during a certain time period, even if it turns out the market doesn't need their electricity.
There are ways, said Daniel Shawhan, a research fellow with the Resources for the Future think tank, to make the switch to cleaner energy ''such that the probability of a blackout does not go up.''
(Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder and majority stakeholder of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has committed $500 million to launch Beyond Carbon, a campaign aimed at closing the remaining coal-powered plants in the U.S. by 2030 and slowing the construction of new gas plants.)
--With assistance from Christopher Martin and Brian Parkin.
To contact the reporters on this story: David R. Baker in San Francisco at dbaker116@bloomberg.net;Will Wade in New York at wwade4@bloomberg.net;James Thornhill in Sydney at jthornhill3@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Doan at ldoan6@bloomberg.net, Joe Ryan
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
(C)2019 Bloomberg L.P.
DNC votes against climate change presidential debate
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 15:02
SAN FRANCISCO '-- Democratic National Committee members shot down an effort to hold a climate change-focused presidential debate Saturday, in a victory for party leadership and a defeat for activists demanding a stronger focus on the environmental crisis.
Party delegates voted 222 to 137 against allowing candidates to participate in a debate dedicated to the topic, after a heated floor fight interrupted by protesters chanting ''We can't wait!'' and ''Failure of leadership!''
The bitter dispute at the party's annual summer meeting in San Francisco threatened to reignite criticism on the left that Democratic leaders are squelching debate on one of the most important issues to young voters. And the delegates opposed a climate debate even though many of the presidential contenders have come out in favor of one.
The vote came at a time when world leaders are ringing the alarm over massive fires in the Amazon rainforest '-- a disaster pointed to repeatedly by activists to stress the dire threat climate change poses.
''If an asteroid was coming to earth, there would be no question about having a debate about it,'' argued Chris Reeves, a DNC member from Kansas. ''But with this existential crisis facing the world, we all sit and wring our hands.''
CNN and MSNBC are hosting two presidential forums on climate change next month, at which the candidates will speak individually on the topic. But activists say that isn't enough: They're demanding a head-to-head debate among the White House hopefuls, which they argue would give the climate crisis the attention it deserves.
Party leadership, including DNC chair Tom Perez, strongly opposes the idea, insisting it would be unfair to elevate one issue over others.
On Saturday, the battle focused on a resolution approved by a party committee two days earlier that would essentially open the door to presidential contenders participating in a climate debate. Perez moved to scrap that proposal Saturday, saying the party should preserve rules prohibiting candidates from debating one another face-to-face outside of a dozen official party-hosted events.
''We want to make sure we don't change the rules in the middle of the process,'' he said. ''We have a North Star principle: We want to be fair to everyone.''
The debate over the issue was punctuated by chants and jeers from several dozen climate activists, who crowded into the back of the hotel ballroom where the vote took place. Proponents emphasized the urgency of the crisis, pointing to devastating wildfires and floods in their own states and around the world.
''The Amazon is burning today '-- I don't mean Amazon in Seattle, I mean Amazon in Brazil,'' said Tina Podlodowski, the chair of the Washington State Democratic Party. ''We will never get this back.''
Opponents of a debate agreed climate change is an existential threat but said it didn't make sense to elevate the environmental crisis over other key issues, like gun violence, immigration or white nationalism.
''Think about the fact that they're gunning down people who look like me out on the streets,'' said Alma Gonzalez, a DNC member from Florida. ''I would love to have a debate on the fact that we have domestic terrorism in this country.''
Others said that opening the doors to more debates beyond the 12 already planned by the DNC would force candidates to spend more time in preparing for the events instead of meeting voters and organizing supporters on the ground.
''It will take away time from their knocking on doors, going to all of your states to be able to campaign,'' insisted Maria Cardona, a political strategist and DNC member from Washington, D.C.
Young activists with the climate-focused Sunrise Movement filled the halls of the Hilton Union Square Hotel during the meeting this week, holding a sit-in and dropping a banner urging support of a climate debate Friday.
Twenty presidential candidates also publicly supported such an event, according to a tally by pro-debate activists, and several of the contenders who spoke at the meeting Friday mentioned the issue in their speeches to delegates. Former Vice President Al Gore also joined in on the calls.
''This decision is as baffling as it is alarming,'' presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke tweeted after the vote. ''Our planet is burning'-- the least we can do as a party is debate what to do about it.''
Activists said they planned to pressure television networks hosting future primary debates and forums to ask tough, substantive questions on issues like phasing out coal, building pipelines and putting the Green New Deal proposal into action.
''It shatters the trust the party is so barely holding onto,'' said Jasper Wilde, a 29-year-old activist from San Francisco. ''Young people are going to see this as another reason they shouldn't believe in the Democratic Party.''
Race to Green Grid Spurs 40,000% U.S. Price Hike, U.K. Blackout - Bloomberg
Tue, 27 Aug 2019 15:39
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Wind Turbines and Human Health
Tue, 27 Aug 2019 14:37
AbstractThe association between wind turbines and health effects is highly debated. Some argue that reported health effects are related to wind turbine operation [electromagnetic fields (EMF), shadow flicker, audible noise, low-frequency noise, infrasound]. Others suggest that when turbines are sited correctly, effects are more likely attributable to a number of subjective variables that result in an annoyed/stressed state. In this review, we provide a bibliographic-like summary and analysis of the science around this issue specifically in terms of noise (including audible, low-frequency noise, and infrasound), EMF, and shadow flicker. Now there are roughly 60 scientific peer-reviewed articles on this issue. The available scientific evidence suggests that EMF, shadow flicker, low-frequency noise, and infrasound from wind turbines are not likely to affect human health; some studies have found that audible noise from wind turbines can be annoying to some. Annoyance may be associated with some self-reported health effects (e.g., sleep disturbance) especially at sound pressure levels >40'‰dB(A). Because environmental noise above certain levels is a recognized factor in a number of health issues, siting restrictions have been implemented in many jurisdictions to limit noise exposure. These setbacks should help alleviate annoyance from noise. Subjective variables (attitudes and expectations) are also linked to annoyance and have the potential to facilitate other health complaints via the nocebo effect. Therefore, it is possible that a segment of the population may remain annoyed (or report other health impacts) even when noise limits are enforced. Based on the findings and scientific merit of the available studies, the weight of evidence suggests that when sited properly, wind turbines are not related to adverse health. Stemming from this review, we provide a number of recommended best practices for wind turbine development in the context of human health.
Keywords: wind turbines, human health, noise, electromagnetic fields, annoyance, infrasound, low-frequency noise, shadow flicker
IntroductionWind power has been harnessed as a source of energy around the world for decades. Reliance on this form of energy is increasing. In 1996, the global cumulative installed wind power capacity was 6,100'‰MW; in 2011, that value had grown to 238,126'‰MW and at the end of 2013 it was 318,137'‰MW (1). While public attitude is generally overwhelmingly in favor of wind energy, this support does not always translate into local acceptance of projects by all involved (2). Opposition groups point to a number of issues concerning wind turbines, and possible effects on human health is one of the most commonly discussed. Indeed, a small proportion of people that live near wind turbines have reported adverse health effects such as (but not limited to) ringing in ears, headaches, lack of concentration, vertigo, and sleep disruption that they attribute to the wind turbines. This collection of effects has received the colloquial name ''Wind Turbine Syndrome'' (3).
The reason for the self-reported health effects is highly debated and information fueling this debate is found primarily in four sources: peer-reviewed studies published in scientific journals, government agency reports, legal proceedings, and the popular literature and internet. Some argue that reported health effects are related wind turbine operational effects [e.g., electromagnetic fields (EMF), shadow flicker from rotor blades, audible noise, low-frequency noise (LFN) and infrasound]; others suggest that when turbines are sited correctly, reported effects are more likely attributable to a number of subjective variables, including nocebo responses, where the etiology of the self-reported effect is in beliefs and expectations rather than a physiologically harmful entity (4''8). In 2011, Knopper and Ollson (9) published a review that contrasted the human health effects that had been purported to be caused by wind turbines in popular literature sources with what had been reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature as well as by various government agencies. At that time, only 15 articles in the peer-reviewed scientific literature that specifically addressed issues related to human health and wind turbines were available [i.e., (4, 5, 10''22)].
Based on their review, Knopper and Ollson (9) concluded that although there was evidence to suggest that wind turbines can be a source of annoyance to some people, there was no evidence demonstrating a direct causal link between living in proximity to wind turbines and more serious physiological health effects. Furthermore, although annoyance has been statistically significantly associated with wind turbine noise [especially at sound pressure levels >40'‰dB(A)], a convincing body of evidence exists to show that annoyance is more strongly related to visual cues and attitude than to wind turbine noise itself. In particular, this was highlighted by the fact that people who benefit economically from wind turbines (e.g., those who have leased their property to wind farm developers) reported significantly lower levels of annoyance than those who received no economic benefit, despite increased proximity to the turbines and exposure to similar (or louder) sound levels.
In the years following the publication of Knopper and Ollson (9), the debate surrounding the relationship between wind turbines and human health has continued, both in the public and within the scientific community. In this review, we provide a bibliographic-like summary and analysis of the science around this issue specifically in terms of noise (including audible, LFN, and infrasound), EMF, and shadow flicker. Stemming from this review, we provide weight of evidence conclusions and a number of best practices for wind turbine development in the context of human health.
MethodsThe authors worked with a professional Health Sciences Information Specialist to develop a search strategy of the literature. Combinations of key words (i.e., annoyance, noise, environmental change, sleep disturbance, epilepsy, stress, health effect(s), wind farm(s), infrasound, wind turbines(s), LFN, EMF, wind turbine syndrome, neighborhood change) were entered into PubMed, the Thomson Reuters Web of KnowledgeSM and Google. No date restrictions were entered and literature was assessed up to the submission date of this manuscript (April 2014). The review was conducted in the spirit of the evaluation process outlined in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.
As of the publication date of this review, there are close to 60 scientific peer-reviewed articles on the topic. Sources of information other than peer-reviewed scientific literature (e.g., websites, opinion pieces, conference proceedings, unpublished documents) were purposely excluded in this review because they are often unreliable and provide information that is typically anecdotal in nature or not traceable to scientific sources. A general summary, and key words of the articles reviewed herein, are presented in Table '‹ 1 . These summaries provide results as they were reported by the authors of the articles and are without secondary interpretation.
Table 1General summary of reviewed articles.
General topicAuthorsSourceKey wordsGeneral summaryAudible noiseShepherd et al. (23)Noise and HealthHealth-related quality of life (HRQOL)Cross-sectional study involving questionnaires about quality of life living near and away from turbines. Statistically significant differences were noted in some HRQOL scores; residents within 2'‰km of a turbine reporting lower overall quality of life, physical quality of life, and environmental quality of lifeJanssen et al. (24)Journal of the Acoustical Society of AmericaAnnoyance, economic benefit, sensitivity, visual cuesExpanded on the datasets collected by Pedersen and Persson Waye (4, 5) and Pedersen et al. (17) in Sweden and the Netherlands. Authors evaluated self-reported annoyance indoors and outdoors compared to sound levels (Lden) from wind turbines. Like the authors before them who relied on these datasets, found that annoyance decreased with economic benefit and may have increased with noise sensitivity, visibility, and age. In comparison to other sources of environmental noise, annoyance due to wind turbine noise was found at relatively low noise exposure levelsVerheijen et al. (25)Science of the Total EnvironmentAnnoyance, noise limitsObjective was to assess proposed Dutch standards for wind turbine noise and consequences for people and feasibility of meeting energy policy targets. Authors used a combination of audible and low-frequency noise models and functions to predict existing level of severely annoyed people living around existing wind turbines in the Netherlands. Found that at 45'‰dB(Lden) severe annoyance due to low-frequency noise unlikely; suggested that this noise limit is suitable as a trade-off between the need for protection against noise annoyance and the feasibility of national targets for renewable energyBakker et al. (26)Science of the Total EnvironmentAnnoyance, distress, economic benefit, sleep disturbanceA dose''response relationship was found between immission levels of wind turbine sound and self-reported noise annoyance. Sound exposure was also related to sleep disturbance and psychological distress among those who reported that they could hear the sound, however not directly but with noise annoyance. Respondents living in areas with other background sounds were less affected than respondents in quiet areas. Found that people, animals, traffic and mechanical sounds were more often identified as a source of sleep disturbance than wind turbinesNissenbaum et al. (27)Noise and HealthEpworth Sleepiness Score (ESS), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), SF36v2Purpose of the investigations was to determine the relationship between reported adverse health effects and wind turbines among residents of two rural communities. Participants living 375''1,400'‰m and 3.3''6.6'‰km were given questionnaires to obtain data about sleep quality, daytime sleepiness and general physical and mental health. Authors reported that when compared to people living further away than 1.4'‰km from wind turbines, those people living within 1.4'‰km of wind turbines had worse sleep, were sleepier during the day and had worse mental health scoresOllson et al. (28)Noise and HealthRebuttal to Nissenbaum et al. (27)Suggested that Nissenbaum et al. (27) extended their conclusions and discussion beyond the statistical findings of their study and that they did not demonstrated a statistical link between wind turbines '' distance '' sleep quality '' sleepiness and health. In fact, their own statistical findings suggest that although, scores may be statistically different between near and far groups for sleep quality and sleepiness, they are no different than those reported in the general population. The claims of causation by the authors (i.e., wind turbine noise) for negative scores are not supported by their dataBarnard (29)Noise and HealthRebuttal to Nissenbaum et al. (27)Pointed out a number of problems with Nissenbaum et al. (27) study and suggested that data presented do not justify the very strong conclusions reached by the authorsAudible noise (continued)Mroczek et al. (30)Annals of Agricultural and Environmental MedicineSF-36, Visual Analog Scale (VAS)Purpose of study was to assess how people's quality of life is affected by the close proximity of wind farms. Authors found that close proximity of wind farms does not result in the worsening of the quality of life based on the Norwegian version of the SF-36 General Health Questionnaire, the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) for health assessment, and original questionsTaylor et al. (31)Personality and Individual DifferencesPersonality traitsStudy examined the influence of negative oriented personality (NOP) traits on the effects of wind turbine noise and reporting on non-specific symptoms (NSS). Results of the study showed that while calculated actual wind turbine noise did not predict reported symptoms, perceived noise didEvans and Cooper (32)Acoustics AustraliaPredicted and measured noise levelsA comparison of predicted noise levels from four commonly applied prediction methods against measured noise levels from six operational wind farms (at 13 locations) in accordance with the applicable guidelines in South Australia. Results indicate that the methods typically over-predicted wind farm noise levels but that the degree of conservatism appeared to depend on the topography between the wind turbines and the measurement locationMaffei et al. (33)International Journal of Environmental Research and Public HealthVisual cues, perceptionInvestigated the effects of the visual impact of wind turbines on the perception of noise. Found distance was a strong predictor of an individual's reaction to the wind farm; data showed that increased distance resulted in a more positive general evaluation of the scenario and decreased perceived loudness, noise annoyance, and stress caused by sound. Found the color of the wind turbines (base and blade stripes) impacted an individuals' perception of noiseVan Renterghem et al. (34)Science of the Total EnvironmentAnnoyance, attitude, laboratory experiment, visual cuesConducted a two-stage listening experiment to assess annoyance, recognition, and detection of noise from a single wind turbine. Results support the hypothesis that non-noise variables, such as attitude and visual cues, likely contributed to the observation that people living near wind turbines (who do not receive an economic benefit from the turbines) report higher levels of annoyance at lower sound pressure levels than would be predicted for other community noise sourcesBaxter et al. (35)Energy PolicyRisk perception, economic benefit, community conflict, policyConducted a study to investigate the role of health risk perception, economic benefit, and community conflict on wind turbine policy. Two communities were assessed: one located in proximity to two operating wind farms and a control community without turbines. Authors found that residents from the community with operational wind energy projects were more supportive of wind turbines than residents in the area without turbinesChapman et al. (6)PLoS OnePsychogenic effects, nocebo, community complaintsProvided an overview of the growing body of literature supporting the notion that the attribution of symptoms and disease to wind turbine exposure is a modern health worry. Suggested that nocebo effects likely play an important role in the observed increase in wind farm-related health complaints. Suggested that reported historical and geographical variations in complaints were consistent with ''communicated diseases'' with nocebo effects likely to play an important role in the etiology of complaints rather than direct effects from turbinesWhitfield Aslund et al. (36)Energy PolicyPredicted annoyance, modelingUsed previously reported dose''response relationships between wind turbine noise and annoyance to predict the level of community noise annoyance that may occur in the province of Ontario. The results of this analysis indicate that the current wind turbine noise restrictions in Ontario will limit community exposure to wind turbine related noise such that levels of annoyance are unlikely to exceed previously established background levels of noise-related annoyance from other common noise sourcesLow-frequency noise and infrasoundM¸ller and Pedersen (37)Journal of the Acoustical Society of AmericaAnnoyance, insulation, indoor sound levelsConducted a low-frequency noise study from four large turbines (>2'‰MW) and 44 other small and large turbines (7'‰>'‰2'‰MW and 37'‰<'‰2'‰MW). Low-frequency sound insulation was measured for 10 rooms under normal living conditions in houses exposed to low-frequency noise. Concluded that the spectrum of wind turbine noise moves down in frequency with increasing turbine size. Suggested that the low-frequency part of the noise spectrum plays an important role in the noise at neighboring properties. They hypothesized that if the noise from the investigated large turbines had an outdoor level of 44'‰dB(A) there was a risk that a substantial proportion of the residents would be annoyed by low-frequency noise, even indoorsBolin et al. (38)Environmental Research LettersHealth effects, review, turbulenceConducted a literature review over a 6-month period ending April 2011 into the potential health effects related to infrasound and low-frequency noise exposure surrounding wind turbines. Concluded that empirical support was lacking for claims that low-frequency noise and infrasound cause serious health affects in the form of ''vibroacoustic disease,'' ''wind turbine syndrome,'' or harmful effects on the inner earRand et al. (39)Bulletin of Science, Technology and SocietyIndoor sound levels, health effects, acute effectsStudies took place over a 2-day period inside a home where people were self-reporting serious adverse health effects. Authors reported on wind speed at hub of turbine, dB(A) and dB(G) filtering indoors and outdoors. Reported on acute effectsAmbrose et al. (40)Bulletin of Science, Technology and SocietyTurnbull et al. (41)Acoustics AustraliaUnderground measurement, comparative studyDeveloped an underground technique to measure infrasound. Measured infrasound at two Australian wind farms as well as in the vicinities of a beach, a coastal cliff, the city of Adelaide, and a power station. Reported that the measured levels at wind farms below the audibility threshold and similar to that of urban and coastal environments and near other engineered noise sources. Level of infrasound from wind farms at 360 and 85'‰m [61 and 72'‰dB(G), respectively] was comparable to that observed at a distance of 25'‰m from ocean waves [75'‰dB(G)]Crichton et al. (7)Health PsychologyNegative expectations, symptom reporting, laboratory experimentExamined the possibility that expectations of negative health effects from exposure to infrasound promote symptom reporting using a sham controlled, double-blind provocation study. Participants in the high-expectancy group reported significant increases in the number and intensity of symptoms experienced during exposure to both infrasound and sham infrasound. Conversely, there were no symptomatic changes in the low-expectancy groupCrichton et al. (8)Health PsychologyNegative and positive expectations, symptom reporting, laboratory experimentAuthors investigated how positive expectations can produce a reduction in symptoms. Expectations were found to significantly alter symptom reporting: participants who were primed with negative expectations became more symptomatic over time, suggesting that their experiences during the first exposure session reinforced expectations and led to heightened symptomatic experiences in subsequent sessionsElectromagnetic fieldsHavas and Colling (42)Bulletin of Science, Technology and SocietyPoor power quality, ground current, electrical hypersensitivityAuthors hypothesized that symptoms of some living near wind turbines could be caused by electromagnetic waves in the form of poor power quality (dirty electricity) and ground current resulting in health effects in those that are electrically hypersensitive. Indicated that individuals reacted differently to both sound and electromagnetic waves and this could explain why not everyone experienced the same health effects living near turbinesIsrael et al. (43)Environ-mentalistVibration measurement, noise, riskConducted EMF, sound, and vibration measurements at wind energy parks in Bulgaria. Concluded that EMF levels were not of concern from wind farmMcCallum et al. (44)Environ-mental HealthVariable distances and wind, residential measuresMagnetic field measurements were collected in the proximity of 15 wind turbines, two substations, buried and overhead collector and transmission lines and nearby homes. Results suggest there is nothing unique to wind farms with respect to EMF exposure; in fact, magnetic field levels in the vicinity of wind turbines were lower than those produced by many common household electrical devices and were well below any existing regulatory guidelines with respect to human healthReview articles, editorials and social commentariesBulletin of Science, Technology and Society (BSTS) Special EditionBulletin of Science, Technology and SocietyVarious authors, health effects, social commentary, opinion piecesSpecial edition made up of nine articles devoted entirely to wind farms and potential health effects. Many of the articles in the special edition were written as opinion pieces or social commentariesHanning and Evans (45)British Medical JournalSleep disturbancePurpose was to opine on the relationship between wind turbines noise and health effects. Suggested that a large body of evidence exists to suggest that wind turbines disturb sleep and impair health at distances and external noise levels that are permitted in most jurisdictionsChapman (46)British Medical JournalWeight of evidenceIn a rebuttal to Hanning and Evans (45) Chapman points to 17 independent reviews of the literature around wind turbines and human health that contrast the opinion of Hanning and EvansFarboud et al. (47)Journal of Laryngology and OtologyLow-frequency noise (LFN), infrasound (IS), inner ear physiology, wind turbine syndromeConducted a literature search for articles published within the last 10'‰years, using the PubMed database and the Google Scholar search engine, to look at the effects of low-frequency noise and infrasound. Suggested the evidence available was incomplete and until the physiological effects of LFN and infrasound were fully understood, it was not possible to conclusively state that wind turbines were not causing any of the reported effectsMcCubbin and Sovacool (48)Energy PolicyComparative study, natural gas, health, and environmental benefitsCompared the health and environmental benefits of wind power in contrast to natural gasRoberts and Roberts (49)Journal of Environmental SciencesPubMed-based review, low-frequency noise (LFN), infrasound (IS), health effectsConducted a summary of the peer-reviewed literature on the research that examined the relationship between human health effects and exposure to low-frequency sound and sound generated from the operation of wind turbines. Concluded that a specific health condition or collection of symptoms has not been documented in the peer-reviewed, published literature that has been classified as a ''disease'' caused by exposure to sound levels and frequencies generated by the operations of wind turbinesReview articles, editorials and social commentaries (continued)Chapman and St. George (50)Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public HealthVibroacoustic disease (VAD); factoidInvestigated the extent to which VAD and its alleged association with wind turbine exposure had received scientific attention, the quality of that association and how the alleged association gained support by wind farms opponent. Based on a structured scientific database and Google search strategy, the authors showed that VAD has received virtually no scientific recognition and that there is no evidence of even rudimentary quality that vibroacoustic disease is associated with or caused by wind turbines. Stated that an implication of this ''factoid'' '' defined as questionable or spurious statements '' may have been contributing to nocebo effects among those living near turbinesJeffery et al. (51)Canadian Family PhysicianHealth effectsOverall goal of these commentary pieces was to provide information to physicians regarding the possible health effects of exposure to noise produced by wind turbines and how these may manifest in patientsJeffery et al. (52)Canadian Journal of Rural MedicineThrough the systematic review process, it was evident that there was significant variability in both the measures of exposure (i.e., proximity to turbines, field noise measures, lab noise measures, or magnetic field measurements) and the health outcomes examined (i.e., annoyance, sleep scores, and various quality of life metrics). The methodological heterogeneity in study designs across the selected health-based investigations inhibited a quantitative combination of results. In other words, meta-analytic methods were not appropriate for this updated systematic review of the literature on wind turbine and health effect. Rather qualitative interpretation is provided.
ResultsOverall noiseKnopper and Ollson (9) reviewed a number of studies that examined the noise levels produced by wind turbines, perception of wind turbine noise, and/or responses to wind turbine noise [e.g., (4, 5, 10, 12, 13, 15''18, 21)]. The results of more recent studies that investigated wind turbine noise with respect to potential human health effects are summarized below in chronological order of publication.
Shepherd et al. (23): Shepherd et al. reported on a cross-sectional study comparing health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of people living in proximity (i.e., <2'‰km) to a wind farm to a control group living >8'‰km away from the nearest wind farm. It involved self-administered questionnaires that included the World Health Organization (WHO) quality of life scale, in semi-rural New Zealand. The turbine group was drawn from residents of 56 homes in South Makara Valley, all within 2'‰km of a wind turbine. General outdoor noise levels in the area, obtained from a conference proceeding by Botha (53), were reported to range from 24 to 54'‰dB(A). The comparison group was taken from 250 homes in a geographically and socioeconomically matched area, at least 8'‰km from any wind farm in the region. General outdoor noise levels for the comparison group were not reported. The questionnaire was named the ''2010 Well-being and Neighborhood Survey'' in order to mask the true intent of the study and reduce bias against wind turbines. This is similar to the work of Pedersen in Europe, in that the surveys were not explicitly about wind turbines. Response rates were 34% from the Turbine group (number of participants n'‰='‰39) and 32% from the Comparison group (n'‰='‰158).
Overall, Shepherd et al. reported statistically worse (p'‰<'‰0.05) scores in the Turbine group for physical HRQOL, environmental QOL and HRQOL in general. There was no statistical difference in social or psychological scores. Based on these results, the authors concluded that ''utility-scale'' wind energy generation was not without adverse health impacts on nearby residents and suggested setback distances need to be >2'‰km in hilly terrain. However, there are a number of limitations in this study that undermine the conclusion stated above. One key concern is that the results were based on only a limited number of participants (n'‰='‰39) for the Turbine group. In comparison, the survey datasets compiled in Sweden and the Netherlands by Pedersen and Persson Waye (4, 5) and Pedersen et al. (17), respectively, involved a total of 1,755 respondents overall. In these surveys, the only response found to be significantly related to A-weighted wind turbine noise exposure was annoyance, even though a number of physiological and psychological variables were also investigated. In addition, Shepherd et al. did not discuss the impact of participants' attitudes or visual cues that may have influenced the reports of decreased HRQOL. Given that other studies have indicated that annoyance was more closely related to visual cues and attitude, this could provide further explanation of why overall HRQOL scores were lower in the Turbine group. Presumably all residents within 2'‰km of a turbine would be able to see one, or more, of the turbines. Furthermore, although it was implied in the title of the article that noise from wind turbines was causing the observed effects, the study did not include either measured or estimated wind turbine noise exposure values for the individual survey respondents. Therefore, they were unable to demonstrate a dose''response relationship between the observed responses and exposure to wind turbine noise. In light of this, as recognized by Shepherd et al. (23), it is possible that the observed effects were driven by other causes such as conflicts between the community and the wind farm developers rather than a direct result of noise exposure. Based on the limitations discussed above, we consider that the authors' recommendation for a 2'‰km setback distance was not supported by the evidence presented in this study.
Janssen et al. (24): expanding on the datasets collected by Pedersen and Persson Waye (4, 5) and Pedersen et al. (17) in Sweden and the Netherlands, Janssen et al. evaluated self-reported annoyance indoors and outdoors compared to sound levels (Lden) from wind turbines. To derive the Lden, the authors added a correction factor of 4.7'‰dB(A) to outdoor A-weighted sound pressure levels from the datasets used in the previous studies. Annoyance in this study was ranked on a 4-point scale: 1 was ''not annoyed,'' 2 was ''slightly annoyed,'' 3 was ''rather annoyed,'' and 4 was ''very annoyed.'' Visual cue (''Can you see a wind turbine from your dwelling or your garden/balcony?''), economic benefit [''Are you a (co)owner of one or more wind turbines?''], and noise sensitivity (on either a 4 or 5 point scale with 1 representing ''not sensitive'' and 4 or 5 representing ''very/extremely sensitive'') were also assessed. Like the authors before them who relied on these datasets, Janssen et al. found that annoyance decreased with economic benefit and may have increased with noise sensitivity, visibility, and age. Rates of annoyance indoors from wind turbines to industrial noise from stationary sources and air, road and rail noise were also compared and it was concluded that: '''...annoyance due to wind turbine noise is found at relatively low noise exposure levels'' and that ''some similarity is found in the range Lden 40''45'‰dB between the percentage of annoyed persons by wind turbine noise and aircraft noise.''
Verheijen et al. (25): the objective of this study was to assess the proposed Dutch protective standards for wind turbine noise, both on consequences for inhabitants and feasibility of meeting energy policy targets. The authors used a combination of audible and LFN models and functions derived by Janssen et al. (24) to predict the existing level of severely annoyed people living around existing wind turbines in the Netherlands. They estimated that there were approximately 1,500 severely annoyed individuals, in a total population of approximately 440,000 living at sound levels of 29'‰dB(Lden) around wind turbines. The authors reported that: ''For The Netherlands, a socially acceptable percentage of severely annoyed lies around 10%, which can be derived from the existing limits and dose''response functions of railway and road noise. This would result in an acceptable noise reception limit for wind turbines of about 47 to 49'‰dB.'' The authors decided to examine the feasibility of lowering the limit below 47''49'‰dB(Lden). They estimated that it may be feasible from a land mass perspective to lower the noise limit to 40'‰dB(Lden); however, given that lands are often rejected due to reasons other than noise that another value should be selected. They stated ''The percentage of severely annoyed at 45'‰dB is rated at 5.2% for wind turbine noise, which is well below 10% that corresponds to the existing road and railway traffic noise limits.'' They also determined that, at 45'‰dB(Lden), severe annoyance effects due to LFN were unlikely and suggested that this noise limit suited as a trade-off between the need for protection against noise annoyance and the feasibility of national targets for renewable energy.
Bakker et al. (26): the purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between exposure to the sound of wind turbines and annoyance, self-reported sleep disturbance, and psychological distress of people that live in their vicinity. This investigation relied on survey data, previously reported and discussed by Pedersen et al. (17), collected from 725 residents of the Netherlands living in the vicinity of wind turbines. As reported by Pedersen et al. (17), survey respondents answered questions about environmental factors and road traffic noise (and wind noise) as well as the effect of wind turbines on annoyance, sleep disturbance, and psychological distress.
Bakker et al. differed from Pedersen et al. (17) in that it provided a direct comparison of people who economically benefited from turbines with those who did not, specifically in relation to annoyance. Bakker et al. (26) reported that only 3% of survey respondents receiving economic benefit from wind turbines reported being ''rather annoyed'' or ''very annoyed'' by wind turbine noise when outdoors, while none reported being rather or very annoyed by wind turbine noise when indoors. In comparison, the proportions of survey respondents who did not receive an economic benefit who reported being rather or very annoyed indoors and outdoors were 12 and 8%, respectively, even though they were exposed to significantly lower levels of wind turbine sound.
What is more, Bakker et al. also compared sound-related sources of sleep disturbance in rural and urban areas in respondents who did not benefit economically from wind turbines. They found that people, animals, traffic, and mechanical sounds were more often identified as a source of sleep disturbance than wind turbines. In fact, in rural areas, only 6% of people identified wind turbines as the sound source of sleep disturbance compared to 11.7% for people/animals and 12.5% for traffic/mechanical sounds. In urban areas, only 3.8% of people identified wind turbines as the sound source of sleep disturbance compared to 14.4% for people/animals and 16.9% for traffic/mechanical sounds.
Nissenbaum et al. (27), Ollson et al. (28), and Barnard (29): the stated purpose of the investigations conducted by Nissenbaum et al. was to determine the relationship between reported adverse health effects and wind turbines among residents of two rural communities. Participants living 375''1,400'‰m and 3.3''6.6'‰km were given questionnaires to obtain data about sleep quality [using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)], daytime sleepiness [using the Epworth Sleepiness Score (ESS)], and general physical and mental health (MH) (using the SF36v2 health survey). Overall, the authors reported that when compared to people living further away than 1.4'‰km from wind turbines, those people living within 1.4'‰km of wind turbines had worse sleep, were sleepier during the day, and had worse MH scores. Based on these findings the authors concluded that: '''...the noise emissions of IWTs disturbed the sleep and caused daytime sleepiness and impaired mental health in residents living within 1.4'‰km of the two IWT installations studied.''
In a subsequent issue of Noise and Health, two letters to the editor were published that were critical of this study and its conclusions (28, 29). In particular, the letter from Barnard (29) criticized the statistical analysis in Nissenbaum et al. (27), which stated that there was a ''strong'' dose''response relationship between distance to the nearest wind turbine and both the ''PSQI'' and the ''Epworth Sleepiness Scale.'' Barnard stated: ''I cannot see how this is justified, given the presented data. In contrast to the conclusions, Figure 1 and Figure 2 in the paper'... show a very weak dose-response, if there is one at all. The near horizontal 'curve fits' and large amount of 'data scatter' are indications of the weak relationship between sleep quality and turbine distance. The authors seem to use a low P value as a support for the hypothesis that sleep disturbance is related to turbine distance. A better interpretation of the P value related to a near horizontal line fit would be that it suggests a high probability of a weak-dose response. Correlation coefficients are not given, but should have been given, to indicate the quality of the curve fits.'' Ollson et al. (28) pointed out that Nissenbaum et al. extended their conclusions and discussion beyond the statistical findings of their study. They stated ''We believe that they have not demonstrated a statistical link between wind turbines '' distance '' sleep quality '' sleepiness and health. In fact, their own statistical findings suggest that although, scores may be statistically different between near and far groups for sleep quality and sleepiness, they are not different than those reported in the general population. The claims of causation by the authors (i.e., wind turbine noise) for negative MCS scores are not supported by their data. This work is exploratory in nature and should not be used to set definitive setback guidelines for wind-turbine installations.''
Mroczek et al. (30): Mroczek et al. published the results of a study conducted in 2010 that evaluated the impact of living in close proximity to wind turbines on an individual's perceived quality of life. The study group consisted of 1,277 randomly selected Polish adults (703 women and 574 men) living in the vicinity of wind farms. The different distance (house to turbine) groups were: <700'‰m, from 700 to 1000'‰m, from 1,000 to 1,500'‰m, and >1,500'‰m. The quality of life was measured using the Norwegian version of the SF-36 General Health (GH) Questionnaire, the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) for health assessment, and some original questions about approximate distance to wind farm, age, gender, education, and profession. The SF-36 (Short Form 36) Questionnaire consists of 36 questions divided into 8 subscales: physical functioning (PF), role functioning physical (RP), bodily pain (BP), GH, vitality (V), social functioning (SF), role functioning emotional (RE), MH, and one additional question regarding health changes.
According to the authors ''The respondents assessed their health through answering questions included in the SF-36 and VAS. They were asked to mark the point corresponding with their well-being on the level from 0 to 100, where 0 denoted the worst possible state of health and 100 '' excellent health.'' The results showed that regardless of the distance from the wind farm (i.e., from <700 to >1,500'‰m) respondents ranked their PF scores as highest out of all of the quality of life components. Overall, people living closest to wind farms assessed their quality of life as higher than those living in more distant areas. The scores for the MH component, GH, SF, and RE were highest in the group living closest to the wind farms and lowest by those living greater than 1.5'‰km away. The authors noted that there may have been confounding factors that contributed to the observed results (e.g., economic factors). Since other studies have shown links between self-reported health status, proximity to wind turbines and the direct influence of economic benefit on levels of annoyance [e.g., (17, 26)], these major confounding factors also need to be considered when interpreting the results of the Mroczek et al. study on quality of life and proximity to wind turbines.
Taylor et al. (31): this study examined the influence of negative oriented personality (NOP) traits on the effects of wind turbine noise and reporting on non-specific symptoms (NSS). The study was conducted based on the hypothesis that the public has become increasingly concerned with attributing NSS to environmental features (e.g., wind turbines). The study focused on three NOP traits in particular: neuroticism (N), negative affect (NA), and frustration intolerance (FI). The authors noted that previous research has demonstrated that individuals with high N and NA typically evaluate their environment more negatively. Furthermore, FI may have impacted the way an individual perceived and evaluated environmental factors from an inability to bear or cope with perceived negative emotions, thoughts and events. A survey was mailed out to 1,270 households within 500'‰m of eight 0.6'‰kW turbine installations and within 1'‰km of four 5'‰kW turbines in two cities in the U.K. Individuals within the household (>18'‰years old) could anonymously complete the survey and mail the results back or submit them online. In total, 138 completed surveys were returned. Actual sound levels were calculated for those households who completed the survey, and participants were asked to describe the perceived noise, including the type of noise (e.g., swooshing, whistling, buzzing), frequency, and loudness (based on a 0''4 ranking scale). Participants were also asked a series of questions to determine the level of NOP traits and related health/symptom reporting information.
The results of the study showed that while calculated actual wind turbine noise did not predict reported symptoms, perceived noise did. Specifically: '''...for those higher in NOP traits, there was a stronger link between perceived noise and symptom reporting. There was however, no relationship between calculated actual noise from the turbine and participants attitude to wind turbines. This means that those who had a more negative attitude to wind turbines perceived more noise from the turbine, but this effect was not simply due to individuals being able to actually hear the noise more.''
Evans and Cooper (32): in their paper called ''Comparison of predicted and measured wind farm noise levels and implications for assessments of new wind farms,'' Evans and Cooper present a comparison of predicted noise levels from four commonly applied prediction methods against measured noise levels from six operational wind farms (conducted at 13 locations) in accordance with the applicable guidelines in South Australia. The results indicate that the methods typically over-predicted wind farm noise levels but that the degree of conservatism appeared to depend on the topography between the wind turbines and the measurement location. Briefly, Evans and Cooper found that the commonly used ISO 9613-2 model (with completely reflective ground) and the CONCAWE model generally over-predicted noise levels by 3''6'‰dB(A), but the amount of over-prediction was related to the topography (i.e., relatively flat topography or a steady slope from the turbines). However, at sites where there was a significant concave slope from the turbines down to the measurement sites, these commonly used prediction methods were typically accurate, with the potential of marginal under-prediction in some cases (when ISO 9613-2 used 50% absorptive ground).
A requirement of many regulatory agencies is that noise modeling be conducted by developers prior to the construction of wind turbines. A common criticism of this approach is that modeled values are not representative of actual noise from operational wind farms. Evans and Cooper's findings show that this is not the case, but caution about the role of topography.
Maffei et al. (33): despite the fact that wind farms are represented as environmentally friendly projects, wind turbines are viewed by some as visual and audible intruders that spoil the landscape and generate noise. Consequently, Maffei et al. (33) conducted a study investigating the effects of the visual impact of wind turbines on the perception of noise. The study consisted of 64 participants (34 males, 30 females) who resided in either urban or rural areas. Participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire to obtain information regarding age, gender, education, and local neighborhood characteristics. A number of statements were then submitted to the participants where they were asked to respond based on a 100-point Likert scale ranging from ''disagree strongly'' to ''agree strongly.'' The statements were based on personal views about green energy, wind turbines, noise, and other related subject matter. Subsequently, a virtual reality scenario was created to emulate the visual impact of a wind farm on a rural landscape and included an audio component recorded from a 16 turbine wind farm in Frigento, Italy. In total, three factors were manipulated in the experiment: distance from the wind farm (150, 250, and 500'‰m); the number of wind turbines (1, 3, and 6); the color of the base of the turbine and any stripes on the blades (white, red, brown, green). Each participant was asked to view all of the scenarios using a 3D visor and asked to respond to a number of questions pertaining to perceived loudness, sound pleasantness, noise annoyance, sound stress, sound tranquility, and visual pleasantness.
The results found that distance was a strong predictor of an individual's reaction to the wind farm. In particular, the data showed that increased distance resulted in a more positive general evaluation of the scenario and decreased perceived loudness, noise annoyance, and stress caused by sound. Additionally, the authors found that the color of the wind turbines (base and blade stripes) impacted an individuals' perception of noise. Generally, white and green turbines were preferred to brown and red ones. Specifically, green turbines scored the highest since they were perceived as being the ''most integrated'' into the landscape. The authors concluded that their results confirmed the interconnectedness between auditory and visual components of individual perception.
Van Renterghem et al. (34): Van Renterghem et al. (34) conducted a two-stage listening experiment to assess annoyance, recognition, and detection of noise from a single wind turbine. A total of 50 participants with ''normal'' hearing abilities participated in the experiment and were classified as having a positive to neutral attitude toward renewable energy. In situ recordings made at close distance (30'‰m downwind) from a 1.8'‰MW turbine operating at 22 rotations per minute (rpm) were mixed with road traffic noise and processed to simulate indoor sound pressure levels at 40'‰dB(LAeq). In the first stage, where participants were unaware of the true purpose of the experiment, samples were played during a quiet leisure activity. Under these conditions (i.e., when people were unaware of the different sources of noise), pure wind turbine noise produced similar annoyance ratings as unmixed highway noise at the same equivalent level, while annoyance from local road traffic was significantly higher. These results supported the hypothesis that non-noise variables, such as attitude and visual cues, likely contributed significantly to the observation that people living near wind turbines (who do not receive an economic benefit from the turbines) report higher levels of annoyance at lower sound pressure levels than would be predicted for other community noise sources [e.g., (17, 24)].
In the second stage of the Van Renterghem et al. (34) study, participants were allowed to listen to a recording of unmixed wind turbine sound [at 40'‰dB(A)] for 30'‰s in order to familiarize themselves with the sound. After this, they listened to 10 sets of paired sound samples; one of which contained unmixed road traffic noise and the other that contained wind turbine noise mixed with road traffic at signal-to-noise ratios varying between ''30'‰dB(A) and +10'‰dB(A). For each pair, participants were asked to identify which of the two samples contained the wind turbine noise. The detection of wind turbine noise in the presence of highway noise was found a ''signal-to-noise'' ratio as low as ''23'‰dB(A). This demonstrated that once the subject was familiar with wind turbine noise, it could easily be detected even in the presence of highway traffic noise. This could also help explain the increased rates of noise annoyance at home reported by Pedersen et al. (17) and Janssen et al. (24) since residents would be familiar with the sound and be able to discern it if they listened for it when primed by visual cues. Overall, the findings support the idea that noticing the sound could be an important aspect of wind turbine noise annoyance. Awareness of the source and recognition of the wind turbine sound was also linked to higher levels of annoyance. Van Renterghem et al. noted that: ''The experiment reported in this paper supports the hypothesis that previous observations, reporting that retrospective annoyance for wind turbine noise is higher than that for highway noise at the same equivalent noise level, is grounded in higher level appraisal, emotional, and/or cognitive processes. In particular, it was observed that wind turbine noise is not so different from traffic noise when it is not known beforehand.''
Baxter et al. (35): in 2010, Baxter and colleagues conducted a study to investigate the role of health risk perception, economic benefit, and community conflict on wind turbine policy. The study, published in 2013, had two parts: a literature review and quantitative survey meant to determine perceptions of wind turbines and how they are linked to support or opposition to wind turbines in the community. Two communities were assessed: one located in proximity to two operating wind farms and a control community without turbines. Overall, the authors found that residents from the community with operational wind energy projects (which were introduced prior to the Green Energy Act in Ontario) were more supportive of wind turbines than residents in the area without turbines (78 vs. 29%, with ''support'' defined as agreeing to vote in favor of local turbines). The authors also reported that residents in the turbine community were more accepting of turbine esthetics than people in the control community and less worried about health impacts, this despite the fact that the wind farms in the ''case'' group were in some cases closer to homes than currently permitted.
Baxter et al. indicated that the lack of support in the control community could have been due to political lobbying during the provincial election, where one candidate suggested a moratorium on wind turbine as part of their campaign. The authors also highlighted the role of health risk perception (which seemed linked to political lobbying) as a variable leading to the lack of support. The finding that ''Our study highlights the need to add health risk perception to the agenda for social research on turbines'' is valid, albeit dated in the Ontario context, since an integral part of any wind development project in Ontario is public consultation with wind turbines and health as a fundamental component. These findings supported the idea that perception of health risks is heavily impacted by expectation, media coverage, and that ''hands on experience'' could serve to increase familiarity and decrease concerns.
Chapman et al. (6): the authors provided an overview of the growing body of literature supporting the notion that the attribution of symptoms and disease to wind turbine exposure is a modern health worry. Chapman et al. also suggested that nocebo effects likely play an important role in the observed increase in wind farm-related health complaints. By evaluating records of complaints from wind farm companies about noise or health from residents living near 51 wind farms across Australia, two theories about the etiology of complaints were tested: one being direct effects from turbines and the other being ''psychogenic'' effects brought on by nocebo effects.
Chapman et al. found a number of historical and geographical variations in wind farm complaints from Australians.
Nearly 65% of Australian wind farms, 53% of which have turbines >1'‰MW, have never been subject to noise or health complaints. These farms have an estimated 21,633 residents within 5'‰km and have operated complaint-free for a cumulative 267'‰years. No complaints were reported in Western Australia and Tasmania.
One in 254 residents across Australia appeared to have ever complained about health and noise, and 73% of these residents live near 6 wind farms that have been targeted by anti-wind farm groups. Ninety percentage of complaints were made after anti-wind farm groups added health concerns to their wider opposition in 2009.
In the years after, health or noise complaints were rare despite large and small-turbine wind farms having operated for many years.
It was suggested that reported historical and geographical variations in complaints were consistent with ''communicated diseases'' with nocebo effects likely to play an important role in the etiology of complaints rather than direct effects from turbines. This novel work highlighted the role of negative expectations and how they could lead to the development of complaints near wind farms. These findings were supported by many other studies that were suggestive of subjective variables, rather than wind turbine specific variables, as the source of annoyance for some people.
Whitfield Aslund et al. (36): Whitfield Aslund et al. used previously reported dose''response relationships between wind turbine noise and annoyance to predict the level of community noise annoyance that may occur in the province of Ontario. Prediction for future wind farm developments (planned, approved, or in process) were compared to previously reported rates of annoyance that were associated with more common noise sources (e.g., road traffic). Modeled noise levels and distance to the nearest wind farm-related noise source were compiled for over 8,000 individual receptor locations (i.e., buildings, dwellings, campsites, places of worship, institutions, and/or vacant lots) from 13 wind power projects in the province of Ontario that had been approved since 2009 or were under Ministry of the Environment (MOE) review as of July 2012. This information was then compared to the wind turbine noise specific dose''response relationships for self-reported annoyance from Pedersen et al. (17) and Bakker et al. (26) using data collected from 725 survey respondents living in the proximity of wind turbines (<2.5'‰km) in the Netherlands.
One of the study findings was that a distinct exponentially decreasing relationship was observed between distance to the nearest noise source and the sound pressure level predicted. However, although distance to the nearest noise source could explain a large proportion (86%) of the total variance in predicted sound pressure levels, other sources of variation are also important; predicted sound pressure levels at a set distance varied by approximately 5''10'‰dB(A) and the distance at which a set sound pressure level was met varied by approximately 1000'‰m. These variations reflect differences in the noise model inputs such as the physical design and noise emission ratings of the turbines (and transformer substations, if present) used in different projects and the total number of turbines (and transformer substations, if present) in the vicinity of the receptor location. Given that noise levels can vary substantially at a given distance, these data highlighted the inadequacy of using distance to the nearest turbine as a proxy for wind turbine noise exposure.
One of the other findings was that, for non-participating receptors, predicted rates of noise-related annoyance (when indoors) would not exceed 8%, with further reductions in the rates of annoyance at increased distances (i.e., >1'‰km). In comparison, it had previously been established that approximately 8% of adult Canadians reported being either ''very or extremely bothered, disturbed, or annoyed'' by noise in general when they were at home and 6.7% of adult Canadians indicated they were either ''very or extremely annoyed'' by traffic noise specifically (54). Even in small Canadian communities (i.e., <5000 residents) that are typically associated with low background noise levels, 11% of respondents were moderately to extremely annoyed by traffic noise (54). This analysis suggested that the current wind turbine noise restrictions in Ontario will limit community exposure to wind turbine related noise such that levels of annoyance are unlikely to exceed previously established background levels of noise-related annoyance from other common noise sources.
Low-frequency noise and infrasoundAs reviewed by Knopper and Ollson (9), a number of sources have proposed that the self-reported health effects of some people living near wind turbines may be due to LFN and infrasound [e.g., (20, 39, 55)]. However, infrasound and LFN are not unique to wind turbines; natural sources of infrasound include meteors, volcanic eruptions, ocean waves, wind, and any effect that leads to slow oscillations of the air (11). Measured LFN and infrasound levels from wind turbines have been shown to comply with available standards and criteria published by numerous government agencies including the UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs; the American National Standards Institute; and the Japan Ministry of Environment (22). Therefore, Knopper and Ollson (9) concluded that the hypothesis that infrasound is a causative agent in health effects does not appear to be supported. With some exceptions, more recent studies (summarized below) generally support this hypothesis.
M¸ller and Pedersen (37): M¸ller and Pedersen conducted a LFN study from four large turbines (>2'‰MW) and 44 other small and large turbines that were aggregated (7'‰>'‰2 and 37'‰<'‰2'‰MW). Low-frequency sound (LFS) insulation was measured for 10 rooms under normal living conditions in houses exposed to LFN. They concluded that the spectrum of wind turbine noise moves down in frequency with increasing turbine size. They also suggested that the low-frequency part of the noise spectrum plays an important role in the noise at neighboring properties. They hypothesized that if the noise from the investigated large turbines had an outdoor level of 44'‰dB(A) (the maximum of the Danish regulation for wind turbines) there was a risk that a substantial proportion of the residents would be annoyed by LFN, even indoors. However, the authors' work did not include a survey of annoyance surrounding the turbines and did not provide any data to support this hypothesis. In terms of infrasound (sound below 20'‰Hz), they concluded that the levels were relatively low when human sensitivity to these frequencies was accounted for. Even in close proximity to turbines, the infrasonic sound pressure level was below the normal hearing threshold. Overall, this study suggested that LFN could be an important component of the overall noise levels from wind turbines. However, it did not provide a link between modeled or measured values and potential health effects of nearby residents. Rather, it hypothesized that at 44'‰dB(A), at least a portion of the annoyance could be attributed to LFN levels.
Bolin et al. (38): Bolin et al. (38) conducted a literature review over a 6-month period ending April 2011 into the potential health effects related to infrasound and LFN exposure surrounding wind turbines. They conducted the search using PubMed, PsycInfo, and Science Citation Index. In addition, they conducted gray literature searches and personally contacted researchers and noise consultants working with wind turbine noise. They concluded that the dominant source of wind turbine generated LFN was from incoming turbulence interacting with the blades. They found no evidence in the literature that infrasound in the 1''20'‰Hz range contributed to perceived annoyance or other health effects. They also opined that LFN from modern wind turbines could be audible at typical levels in residential settings, but did not exceed levels from other common noise sources, such as road traffic noise.
The authors concluded that empirical support was lacking for claims that LFN and infrasound cause serious health affects in the form of ''vibroacoustic disease (VAD),'' ''wind turbine syndrome,'' or harmful effects on the inner ear. This conclusion was similar to that provided in the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) expert panel review released in January 2012.
Rand et al. (39) and Ambrose et al. (40): in the fall of 2011, Rand et al. published their findings on noise measurements taken around a residential home online in the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society (BSTS) (39). In 2012, a similar article appeared in BSTS, but with Ambrose as first author. After learning about reported noise and health issues from some residents living near three wind turbines (Vestas, Model V82, 1.65'‰MW each) in Falmouth, MA, USA, Ambrose et al. conducted a study to investigate the role of infrasound and LFS in these complaints. What led Ambrose et al. to focus on infrasound and LFS was the home owner's complaints about discomfort and a number of symptoms (i.e., headaches, ear pressure, dizziness, nausea, apprehension, confusion, mental fatigue, inability to concentrate, and lethargy). These observations were reported to be associated with being indoors when the wind turbines were operating during moderate to strong winds. Ambrose et al. state: ''Typically, indoors the A-weighted sound level is lower than outdoors when human activity is at a minimum. This strongly suggested that the A-weighted sound level might not correlate very well [sic] the wind turbine complaints. This may be indicative of another cause such as low- or very-low-frequency energy being involved.''
The authors made acoustic measurements and viewed the data with dBL (unweighted) and dB(A), (C), and (G) filtering between April 17 and 19, 2011, at four locations [260'‰ft (~87'‰m), 830'‰ft (~277'‰m), 1,340'‰ft (~450'‰m), and 1,700'‰ft (~570'‰m)] between one turbine and one residence. The relationship between sound [dB(A), (G), and (L)] and health effects was based on measurements at 1,700'‰ft. Ambrose et al. reported that within 20'‰min, both authors had difficulties performing ordinary tasks and within 1'‰h both were ''debilitated and had to work much harder mentally.'' They also claimed that as time went on their symptoms became more severe.
The authors reported being affected when wind speeds were greater than 10'‰m/s at the hub height of the turbines and when measured sound levels were in the 18''24'‰dB(A) range inside [51''64'‰dB(G); 62''74'‰dB(L)] and 32''46'‰dB(A) outside [49''65'‰dB(G); 57''69'‰dB(L)]. They reported that they felt effects inside and outside but preferred being outside. They noted that it took a week to recover but one researcher had recurring symptoms (of nausea and vertigo) for over 7'‰weeks. There are a number of uncertainties in the Ambrose et al. white paper and the BSTS articles, which diminished the strength of their conclusions. This was the first written account we are aware of that suggested acute health effects from exposure to sound from wind turbines. The recent MassDEP and MDPH (56) report provided this comment regarding the Ambrose et al. study: ''Importantly, while there is an amplification at these lower frequencies, the indoor levels (unweighted) are still far lower than any levels that have ever been shown to cause a physical response (including the activation of the OHC) in humans.''
Further, studies where biological effects observed following infrasound exposure were conducted at sound pressure levels much greater than measured by Ambrose et al. [e.g., (11); 145 and 165'‰dB; (57): 130'‰dB] and much greater than what is produced by wind turbines. There are over 100,000 wind turbines in operation globally. Indeed, the idea of overt acute debilitating effects (even lasting several weeks after removal from exposure) appears to be unique to these authors.
Turnbull et al. (41): Turnbull et al. developed an underground technique to measure infrasound and applied this process at two Australian wind farms as well as in the vicinities of a beach, a coastal cliff, the city of Adelaide, and a power station. The measured levels were compared against one another and against the infrasound audibility threshold of 85'‰dB(G). The authors reported that the measured level of infrasound within the wind farms was well below the audibility threshold and was similar to that of urban and coastal environments and near other engineered noise sources. Indeed, the level of infrasound from wind farms at 360 and 85'‰m [61 and 72'‰dB(G), respectively] was comparable to that observed at a distance of 25'‰m from ocean waves [75'‰dB(G)].
Crichton et al. (7): this study examined the possibility that expectations of negative health effects from exposure to infrasound promote symptom reporting. A sham controlled, double-blind provocation study was conducted in which participants were exposed to 10'‰min of infrasound and 10'‰min of sham infrasound. A total of 54 participants (34 women, 20 men) were randomized into high- or low-expectancy groups and presented with audiovisual information (including internet material) designed to invoke either high or low expectations that exposure to infrasound causes specific symptoms (e.g., headache, ear pressure, itchy skin, sinus pressure, dizziness, vibrations within the body). Notably, participants in the high-expectancy group reported significant increases in the number and intensity of symptoms experienced during exposure to both infrasound and sham infrasound. Conversely, there were no symptomatic changes in the low-expectancy group.
Based on their findings, Crichton et al. (7) concluded: ''Healthy volunteers, when given information about the expected physiological effect of infrasound, reported symptoms that aligned with that information, during exposure to both infrasound and sham infrasound. Symptom expectations were created by viewing information readily available on the Internet, indicating the potential for symptom expectations to be created outside of the laboratory, in real world settings. Results suggest psychological expectations could explain the link between wind turbine exposure and health complaints.'' These results were consistent with the findings of other researchers, who have observed increased concern about the health risks associated with exposure to certain environmental hazards can lead to elevated symptom reporting, even when no objective health risk is presented (58, 59).
Crichton et al. (8): building on their previous publication that negative expectations established by the media and internet can significantly increase health-related complaints by exposed individuals (8), the authors investigated how positive expectations can produce a reduction in symptoms. Sixty participants were exposed to audible wind farm sound [43'‰dB(A)] and infrasound [9'‰Hz, 50.4'‰dBL (unweighted)] previously recorded 1'‰km from a wind farm, in two, 7'‰min session. Following baseline measurements, expectations were developed by watching videos that either promoted the negative health effects or the potentially therapeutic health effects of exposure to infrasound. Expectations were found to significantly alter symptom reporting: participants who were primed with negative expectations became more symptomatic over time, suggesting that their experiences during the first exposure session reinforced expectations and led to heightened symptomatic experiences in subsequent sessions. Upwards of 77% of participants in the negative expectation group reported a worsening of symptoms. In contrast, 90% of participants in the positive expectation group reported improvements in physical symptoms after the listening session. This was the first study to show that a placebo response could be brought on by positive pre-exposure expectations and influence participants exposed to wind farm noise. The authors concluded that negative expectations created by the media could account for the increase in negative health effects reported by individuals exposed to wind farm noise. Overall, this investigation provided further evidence that physiological outcomes can be influenced by established expectations.
Electromagnetic FieldsConcerns about the ever-present nature of EMF (also called electric and magnetic fields) and possible health effects have been raised by some in the global community for a number of years. However, the science around EMF and possible health concerns has been extensively researched, with tens of thousands of scientific studies published on the issue. Government and medical agencies including Health Canada (60), the World Health Organization (61), the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (62), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (63), and the US National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (64) have all thoroughly reviewed the available information. While individual opinions on the issue vary, the weight of scientific evidence does not support a causal link between EMF and health issues at levels typically encountered by people.
Short-term exposure to EMF at high levels is known to cause nerve and muscle stimulation in the central nervous system. Based on this information, the ICNIRP, a group recognized by the WHO as the international independent advisory body for non-ionizing radiation protection, established an acute exposure guideline of 2,000'‰mG for the general public, based on power frequency EMF of 50''400'‰Hz (62). With respect to long-term exposure to low levels of EMF, it needs to be acknowledged that the IARC and WHO have categorized EMF as a Class 2B possible human carcinogen, based on a weak association of childhood leukemia and magnetic field strength above 3''4'‰mG (63). This means there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. These human studies are weakened by various methodological problems that the WHO has identified as a combination of selection bias, some degree of confounding and chance (65). There are also no globally accepted mechanisms that would suggest that low-level exposures are involved in cancer development and animal studies have been largely negative (65). Thus, the WHO has stated that, based on approximately 25,000 articles published over the past 30'‰years, the evidence linking childhood leukemia to EMF exposure is not strong enough to be considered causal (61). Concerns have also been raised by some about a relationship between EMF and a range of various health concerns, including cancers in adults, depression, suicide, and reproductive dysfunction, among several others. The WHO (65) has stated: '''...scientific evidence supporting an association between ELF [extremely low frequency] magnetic field exposure and all of these health effects is much weaker than for childhood leukaemia.''
Recently, worries about exposure to EMF from wind turbines, and associated electrical transmission, has been raised at public meetings and legal proceedings. These fears have not been based on any actual measurements of EMF exposure surrounding existing projects but appear to follow from concerns raised from internet sources and misunderstanding of the science. There has been limited research conducted on wind turbine emissions of EMF, either from the turbines themselves, or from the power lines required for distribution of the generated electricity. However, based on the weight of evidence it is not expected that EMF from wind turbines is likely to be a causative agent for negative health effects in the community. Only three papers were retrieved in the preparation of this review that examined this issue specifically.
Havas and Colling (42): the paper indicated that there were some people who lived around wind turbines that complained of difficulty sleeping, fatigue, depression, irritability, aggressiveness, cognitive dysfunction, chest pain/pressure, headaches, joint pain, skin irritations, nausea, dizziness, tinnitus, and stress. The authors suggested that these symptoms could be caused by electromagnetic waves in the form of poor power quality (dirty electricity) and ground current resulting in health effects in those that are electrically hypersensitive. They indicated that individuals reacted differently to both sound and electromagnetic waves and this could explain why not everyone experienced the same health effects living near turbines. Ground current or stray voltage was also purported to be a potential cause of health effects surrounding wind turbines. However, this paper was hypothetical and speculative in nature and no data were presented to support the author's opinions. Presently, there are no quantitative data in the scientific literature to support the claims made in Havas and Colling (42).
Israel et al. (43): these authors conducted EMF, sound, and vibration measurements surrounding one of the largest wind energy parks in Bulgaria, located along the Black Sea. The purpose of the study was to determine if levels of wind turbine emissions were within Bulgarian and European limits for workers and the general population. In addition, they sought to determine if their previously established 500'‰m setback zone around the wind park was adequate. The wind park consisted of 55 Vestas V90 3'‰MW towers. The measurements took place over a 72-h period when temperatures were between 0 and 5.5°C. Actual distances to the receptor locations were not reported, although it is suspected that they would be in the vicinity of 500'‰m from the closest turbines.
The EMF levels measured within 2''3'‰m of the wind turbines were between 0.133 and 0.225'‰mG. These values are comparable to or lower than magnetic field measurements that have been reported in the proximity of typical household electrical devices (66). It should be noted that the values observed by Israel et al. were approximately four orders of magnitude lower than the ICNIRP (62) guideline of 2,000'‰mG for the general public for acute exposure. Based on these findings, Israel et al. concluded that the EMF levels from wind turbines were at such low level as to be insignificant compared to values found in residential areas and homes. The findings reported by Israel et al. of actual measurements of EMF surrounding wind turbines were contrary to the hypothesis presented by Havas and Colling (42).
The noise measurements performed by Israel et al. met the requirements of Bulgarian legislation for day [55'‰dB(A)], evening [50'‰dB(A)], and night [45'‰dB(A)] and it was concluded that the wind turbines contributed only 1''3'‰dB(A) above existing background levels. Vibration measurements surrounding the turbines had values close to zero, which indicated that this was not a contributing emission factor of exposure for people living around wind turbines. Overall, the authors concluded:'''...the studied wind power park complies with the requirements of the national and European legislation for human protection from physical factors''electric and magnetic fields up to 1'‰kHz, noise, vibration, and do not create risk for both workers in the area of the park and the general population living in the nearest villages.''
McCallum et al. (44): this study was carried out at the Kingsbridge 1 Wind Farm located near Goderich, ON, Canada. Magnetic field measurements (milligauss) were collected in the proximity of 15 Vestas 1.8'‰MW wind turbines, two substations, various buried and overhead collector and transmission lines, and nearby homes. Data were collected during three operational scenarios to characterize potential EMF exposure: ''high wind'' (generating power), ''low wind'' (drawing power from the grid, but not generating power), and ''shut off'' (neither drawing, nor generating power).
Background levels of EMF (0.2''0.3'‰mG) were established by measuring magnetic fields around the wind turbines under the ''shut off'' scenario. Magnetic field levels detected at the base of the turbines under both the ''high wind'' and ''low wind'' conditions were low (mean'‰='‰0.9'‰mG; n'‰='‰11) and rapidly diminished with distance, becoming indistinguishable from background within 2'‰m of the base. Magnetic fields measured 1'‰m above buried collector lines were also within background ('‰¤0.3'‰mG). Beneath overhead 27.5 and 500'‰kV transmission lines, magnetic field levels of up to 16.5 and 46'‰mG, respectively, were recorded. These levels also diminished rapidly with distance. None of these sources appeared to influence magnetic field levels at nearby homes located as close as just over 500'‰m from turbines, where measurements immediately outside of the homes were '‰¤0.4'‰mG. The results suggested that there was nothing unique to wind farms with respect to EMF exposure; in fact, magnetic field levels in the vicinity of wind turbines were lower than those produced by many common household electrical devices (e.g., refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, hairdryer) and were well below any existing regulatory guidelines with respect to human health.
Shadow FlickerThe main health concern associated with shadow flicker is the risk of seizures in those people with photosensitive epilepsy. As reviewed by Knopper and Ollson (9), Harding et al. (14) and Smedley et al. (19) have published the seminal studies dealing with this concern. Both authors investigated the relationship between photo-induced seizures (i.e., photosensitive epilepsy) and wind turbine blade flicker (also known as shadow flicker). Both studies suggested that flicker from turbines that interrupt or reflect sunlight at frequencies >3'‰Hz pose a potential risk of inducing photosensitive seizures in 1.7 people per 100,000 of the photosensitive population. For turbines with three blades, this translates to a maximum speed of rotation of 60'‰rpm. Modern turbines commonly spin at rates well below this threshold. For example, the following spin rates for four different models of wind turbines have been obtained from the turbine specification sheets:
Siemens SWT-2.3: 6''16'‰rpm
REpower MM92: 7.8''15.0'‰rpm
GE 1.6''100: 9.75''16.2'‰rpm
Vestas V112-3.0: 6.2''17.1'‰rpm
In 2011, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (67) released a consultant's report entitled ''Update of UK Shadow Flicker Evidence Base.'' The report concluded that: ''On health effects and nuisance of the shadow flicker effect, it is considered that the frequency of the flickering caused by the wind turbine rotation is such that it should not cause a significant risk to health.'' Furthermore, the expert panel convened by MassDEP and MDPH (56) concluded that the scientific evidence suggests that shadow flicker does not pose a risk of inducing seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy.
Germany is one of the only countries to implement formal shadow flicker guidelines, which are part of the Federal Emission Control Act (68). These guidelines allow:
maximum 30'‰h per year of astronomical maximum shadow (worst case);
maximum 30'‰min worst day of astronomical maximum shadow (worst case); and
maximum 8'‰h per year actual.
Although shadow flicker from wind turbines is unlikely to lead to a risk of photo-induced epilepsy, there has been little if any research conducted on how it could heighten the annoyance factor of those living in proximity to turbines. It may however be included in the notion of visual cues.
Review Articles, Editorials, and Social CommentariesIn addition to the articles reviewed above that reported the results of surveys and experiments designed to specifically investigate potential environmental stressors that have been associated with wind turbines (i.e., overall noise, LFN and infrasound, EMF, and shadow flicker), a number of published and peer-reviewed articles were identified that present reviews of the available data, opinion pieces, and/or social commentaries. These articles are reviewed in detail below.
Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society: Special Edition 2011, 31(4): in August 2011, authors of a number of popular literature studies published their findings as a series of nine articles in a special edition of the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society (BSTS) devoted entirely to wind farms and potential health effects1. Many of the articles in the special edition were written as opinion pieces or social commentaries and did not provide detailed methodologies used to test hypotheses as is expected in the publication of scientific research articles. Based on a critical review of each of the articles (69), it is our opinion that the series suffers numerous flaws from a scientific, technological, and social basis. Many of the claims used as evidence of a relationship between health effects and wind turbines were unsubstantiated [e.g., Phillips (70) is entirely unsupported and contains alarmist extrapolations], without proper references [e.g., (70, 71)] and based on anecdotal or unconfirmed reports [e.g., (55, 70, 72, 73)], fallacious comparisons [e.g., (74)], and reaching arguments lacking a logical process [e.g., (70, 73, 75, 76)]. Further, much information given as fact was contrary to that published in the scientific literature; indeed, many authors appeared to selectively reference articles and information in a way that would benefit their own arguments [e.g., (55, 71)]. The results of this BSTS special issue failed to provide valid, defensible scientific and social arguments to suggest that wind turbines, regardless of siting considerations, cause harm to human health.
Hanning and Evans (45) and Chapman (46): in 2012, Hanning and Evans had an editorial published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the purpose of which was to opine on the relationship between wind turbines noise and health effects. By citing a short list of articles (12), half of which are from the non-indexed journal BSTS or from conference proceedings (3 and 3, respectively, out of 12), Hanning and Evans suggested that: ''A large body of evidence now exists to suggest that wind turbines disturb sleep and impair health at distances and external noise levels that are permitted in most jurisdictions.'' and ''Robust independent research into the health effects of existing wind farms is long overdue, as is an independent review of existing evidence and guidance on acceptable noise levels.''
Shortly after publication, this editorial was rebuffed by Chapman (46), in another editorial placed in the BMJ. Chapman pointed out that there are a number of independent reviews of the literature around wind turbines and human health (Chapman points to 17 such papers not referenced by Hanning and Evans). Chapman opined that: ''These reviews strongly state that the evidence that wind turbines themselves cause problems is poor. They conclude that: Small minorities of exposed people claim to be adversely affected by turbines; Negative attitudes to turbines are more predictive of reported adverse health effects and annoyance than are objective measures of exposure; Deriving income from hosting wind turbines may have a ''protective effect'' against annoyance and health symptoms.'' Further debate about the original editorial is available online to view (and comment on) through the BMJ web site2.
Farboud et al. (47): this review article looked at the effects of LFN and infrasound and questioned the existence of ''wind turbine syndrome.'' The authors conducted a literature search for articles published within the last 10'‰years, using the PubMed database and the Google Scholar search engine. Their search terms included ''wind turbine,'' ''infrasound,'' or ''LFN'' and search results were limited to the English language, human trials, and either randomized control trials, meta-analyses, editorial letters, clinical trials, case reports, comments, or journal articles. A number of articles dealing with ''wind turbine,'' ''infrasound,'' or ''LFN,'' and available in PubMed and Google Scholar, appear to have been missed by Farboud et al. [e.g., (9, 22, 38)]. The review included discussions on topics such as wind turbine noise measurements and regulations, wind turbine syndrome, and the effects of LFN and infrasound.
The authors discussed the use of A-weighting in noise measurements from wind turbines stating: ''The A-filter de-emphasizes all auditory energy with frequencies of less than 500'‰Hz, and completely ignores all auditory energy of less than 20'‰Hz, in an effort to estimate the noise thought to be actually processed by the ear. Hence, much of the noise produced by a wind turbine is effectively ignored.'' The authors later described the results and implications of studies looking at the effects of infrasound in the ear, and noted that infrasound and LFN are currently not recognized as disease agents. Referencing a study by Salt and Hullar (20), the authors noted that the inner hair cells of the cochlea, which is the main hearing pathway in mammals, are not sensitive to infrasound. Conversely, the outer hair cells of the cochlea are more sensitive to LFN and infrasound and can be stimulated at levels below the auditory threshold. Nevertheless, the authors conceded that: '''...low-frequency noise may well influence inner ear physiology. However, whether this actually alters function or causes symptoms is unknown.''
It should be noted that, as discussed in the ''Low-Frequency Noise and Infrasound'' section of this review, there were a number of studies that specifically addressed the concerns of LFN and infrasound from wind turbines that suggested that these were unlikely to be causative agents in health effects of those living near wind turbines [e.g., (7, 11, 22, 37, 38)]. Unfortunately, none of these studies were included as part of the Farboud et al. review.
Regarding the existence of ''Wind Turbine Syndrome,'' Farboud et al. stated that: ''There is an abundance of information available on the internet describing the possibility of wind turbine syndrome. However, the majority of this information is based on purely anecdotal evidence.'' The authors briefly discussed the various symptoms that have been self-reported by individuals and attributed to noise from wind turbines. They also pointed out that ''Wind Turbine Syndrome'' was not a clinically recognized diagnosis, remained unproven, and was not generally accepted within the scientific and medical community. They also mentioned that some researchers maintained that the effects of ''Wind Turbine Syndrome'' were just examples of the well-known stress effects of exposure to noise, as displayed by a small proportion of the population.
Farboud et al. concluded their review by suggesting that the evidence available was incomplete and until the physiological effects of LFN and infrasound were fully understood, it was not possible to conclusively state that wind turbines were not causing any of the reported effects. However, it was not clear how this conclusion might have been altered had they considered the additional available information regarding LFN and infrasound from wind turbines described elsewhere in this review [i.e., (7, 11, 22, 37, 38)].
McCubbin and Sovacool (48): McCubbin and Sovacool (48) presented a comparison of the health and environmental benefits of wind power in contrast to natural gas. The authors selected two locations: the 580'‰MW wind farm at Altamont Pass in California and the 22'‰MW wind farm in Sawtooth, ID, USA. The paper considered the environmental and economic benefits associated with each wind farm. Human health benefits were calculated based on a reduction in ambient PM2.5 levels using well-established health impact and valuation functions from the US EPA. Additionally, benefits to the health and well-being of wildlife and avian species were quantified.
With regard to the human health impacts, the potential cost savings were associated with effects such as premature mortality, hospital admissions, emergency rooms visits, asthma attacks, and respiratory symptoms. The details of the quantification methods and equations used to calculate the benefits to externalities such as human health, wildlife, and the natural environment were not provided herein but are available in the published manuscript.
McCubbin and Sovacool determined that from 2012 to 2031 the wind turbines at Altamont Pass will avoid anywhere from $560 million to $4.38 billion in human health and climate-related externalities, and the Sawtooth wind farm will avoid from $18 million to $24 million. The authors noted that there were uncertainties associated with their quantification methods and final cost estimates; however, they claimed that the values were likely underestimated based on numerous factors that were not considered (e.g., other pollutants). They concluded that: ''Despite the uncertainties, the evidence gathered here strongly suggests that natural gas had substantial external costs that should be included in an evaluation comparing wind energy to combined cycle natural gas-fired power plants. The overall costs of electricity generated by natural gas are greater than those from wind energy when environmental and human health externalities are quantified. It remains likely that over time the relative difference will widen, making the use of wind energy even more favorable.''
Roberts and Roberts (49): the authors conducted a summary of the peer-reviewed literature on the research that examined the relationship between human health effects and exposure to LFS and sound generated from the operation of wind turbines. The PubMed database (maintained by the US National Library of Medicine) was relied upon for retrieving the peer-reviewed literature used in this review. A number of search terms were used including: ''infrasound and health effects''; ''LFN and health effects''; ''LFS and health effects''; ''wind power and noise''; and ''wind turbines AND noise.'' In total, 156 articles were identified with 28 articles addressing health effects and LFS related to wind turbines. Based on the collective results of the studies reviewed, Roberts and Roberts (49) found that: ''At present, a specific health condition or collection of symptoms has not been documented in the peer-reviewed, published literature that has been classified as a 'disease' caused by exposure to sound levels and frequencies generated by the operations of wind turbines. It can be theorized that reported health effects are a manifestation of the annoyance that individuals experience as a result of the presence of wind turbines in their communities.''
Chapman and St. George (50): in 2007, Alves-Pereira and Castelo Branco issued a press-release suggesting that their research demonstrated that living in proximity to wind turbines had led to the development of VAD in nearby home-dwellers (9). Alves-Pereira and Castelo Branco appear to be the primary researchers who have circulated VAD as a hypothesis for adverse health effects and wind turbines and to our knowledge this work has never appeared in a peer-reviewed article. In this paper, Chapman and St. George investigated the extent to which VAD and its alleged association with wind turbine exposure had received scientific attention, the quality of that association, and how the alleged association gained support by wind farms opponent.
Based on a structured scientific database and Google search strategy, the authors showed that ''VAD has received virtually no scientific recognition beyond the group who coined and promoted the concept. There is no evidence of even rudimentary quality that vibroacoustic disease is associated with or caused by wind turbines.'' They went on to state that an implication of this ''factoid'' '' defined as questionable or spurious statements '' may have been contributing to nocebo effects among those living near turbines. That is the spread of negative, often emotive information would be followed by increases in complaints and that without such suggestions being spread, complaints would be less. These results highlighted the role that perception plays in the human health wind turbine debate and underscored the role of proper risk communication in communities.
Jeffery et al. (51, 52): the overall goal of these commentary pieces was to provide information to physicians regarding the possible health effects of exposure to noise produced by wind turbines and how these may manifest in patients. In the 2013 article, information about the Green Energy Act was presented in such a way that implied that the overall goal of the Act was to remove protective noise regulations and allow wind turbines to be placed ''in close proximity to family homes.'' The authors suggested that there has been a concerted effort to minimize the potential health risks while convincing the general public and physicians that wind turbines are beneficial. No evidence was given to support these claims. Case reports and publications that reported adverse effects following wind turbines noise exposure were briefly discussed; however, only the negative health effects were highlighted. Older literature and a number of non-peer-reviewed articles and media reports were used to support the author's opinions. The 2014 paper is very similar to that published in 2013. The authors provided a very one-sided opinion in their review of the issue of wind turbines and adverse health effects. They have missed a number of key and pertinent articles that have been published on the issue. Overall the authors did not provide adequate data or support for their arguments, in both papers, nor did they provide accurate information regarding the weight of scientific data on the issue.
Weight of Evidence ConclusionsThere are roughly 60 studies that have been conducted worldwide on the issue of wind turbines and human health. In terms of effects being related to wind turbine operational effects and wind turbine noise, there are fewer than 20 articles. The vast majority has been published in one journal (BSTS) and many of these authors sit on advisory board of the Society for Wind Vigilance, an advocacy group in the province of Ontario. However, with respect to effects being more likely attributable to a number of subjective variables (when turbines are sited correctly), there are closer to 45 articles. These articles are published by a variety of different authors with wide and diverse affiliations. Indeed, conclusions stemming from these articles are supported by studies where audible and inaudible noise has been quantified from operational wind turbines.
Based on the findings and scientific merit of the research conducted to date, it is our opinion that the weight of evidence suggests that when sited properly, wind turbines are not related to adverse health effects. This claim is supported (and made) by findings from a number of government health and medical agencies and legal decisions [e.g., (56, 77''80)]. Collectively, the evidence has shown that while noise from wind turbines is not loud enough to cause hearing impairment and is not causally related to adverse effects, wind turbine noise can be a source of annoyance for some people and that annoyance may be associated with certain reported health effects (e.g., sleep disturbance), especially at sound pressure levels >40'‰dB(A).
The reported correlation between wind turbine noise and annoyance is not unexpected as noise-related annoyance [described by Berglund and Lindvall (81) as a ''feeling of displeasure evoked by a noise''] has been extensively linked to a variety of common noise sources such as rail, road, and air traffic (81''83). Noise-related annoyance from these more common sources is prevalent in many communities. For instance, results of national surveys in Canada and the U.K. by Michaud et al. (54) and Grimwood et al. (84), respectively, suggested that annoyance from noise (predominantly traffic noise) may impact approximately 8% of the general population. Even in small communities in Canada (i.e., <5000 residents) where traffic is relatively light compared to urban centers, Michaud et al. (54) reported that 11% of respondents were moderately to extremely annoyed by traffic noise.
Although annoyance is considered to be the least severe potential impact of community noise exposure (83, 85), it has been hypothesized that sufficiently high levels of annoyance could lead to negative emotional responses (e.g., anger, disappointment, depression, or anxiety) and psychosocial symptoms (e.g., tiredness, stomach discomfort, and stress) (83, 86''90). However, it is important to note that noise annoyance is known to be strongly affected by attitudinal factors such as fear of harm connected with the source and personal evaluation of the source (91''93) as well as expectations of residents (92). For wind turbines, this has been reflected in studies that have shown that subjective variables like evaluations of visual impact (e.g., beautiful vs. ugly), attitude to wind turbines (benign vs. intruders), and personality traits are more strongly related to annoyance and health effects than noise itself [e.g., (4, 5, 16, 17, 31)]. Thus, it is likely that the adverse effects exhibited by some people who live near wind turbines are a response to stress and annoyance, which are driven by multiple environmental and personal factors, and are not specifically caused by any unique characteristic of wind turbines. This hypothesis is also supported by the observation that people who economically benefit from wind turbines have significantly decreased levels of annoyance compared to individuals that received no economic benefit, despite exposure to similar, if not higher, sound levels (17).
There is also a growing body of research that suggests that nocebo effects may play a role in a number of self-reported health impacts related to the presence of wind turbines. Negative attitudes and worries of individuals about perceived environmental risks have been shown to be associated with adverse health-related symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, agitation, and depression, even in the absence of an identifiable cause (94''96). Psychogenic factors, such as the circulation of negative information and priming of expectations have been shown to impact self-assessments following exposure to wind turbine noise (6''8). It is therefore important to consider the role of mass media in influencing public attitudes about wind turbines and how this may alter responses and perceived health impacts of wind turbines in the community. For example, Deignan et al. (97) recently demonstrated that newspaper coverage of the potential health effects of wind turbines in Ontario has tended to emphasize ''fright factors'' about wind turbines. Specifically, Deignan et al. (97) reported that 94% of articles provided ''negative, loaded or fear-evoking'' descriptions of ''health-related signs, symptoms or adverse effects of wind turbine exposure'' and 58% of articles suggested that the effects of wind turbines on human health were ''poorly understood by science.'' It is possible that this type of coverage may have a significant impact on attitudinal factors, such as fear of the noise source, that are known to increase noise annoyance (91''93).
Stress/annoyance is not unique to living in proximity to wind turbines. The American Psychological Association (98) published a report stating that the majority of Americans are living with moderate (4 to 7 on a scale of 1 to 10) or high (8 to 10 on a scale of 1 to 10) levels of stress. APA identified money, work, and the economy as the most often cited sources of stress in Americans followed by family responsibilities, relationships, job stability, housing costs, health concerns, health problems, and safety. Stress from these and other sources can lead to a number of adverse health effects that are commonplace in society. The Mayo Clinic (99) identifies irritability, anger, anxiety, sadness/guilt, change in sleep, fatigue, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, loss of interest/enjoyment, nausea, headache, and tinnitus as common symptoms of stress. Interestingly, these symptoms are nearly identical to those suggested by McMurtry (55) as criteria for a ''diagnosis of adverse health effects in the environs of industrial wind turbines.''
Based on the available evidence, we suggest the following best practices for wind turbine development in the context of human health. However, it should be noted that subjective variables (e.g., attitudes and expectations) are strongly linked to annoyance and have the potential to facilitate other health complaints via the nocebo effect. Therefore, it is possible that a segment of the population may remain annoyed (or report other health impacts) even when noise limits are enforced.
Setbacks should be sound-based rather than distance-based alone.
Preference should be given to sound emissions of '‰¤40'‰dB(A) for non-participating receptors, measured outside, at a dwelling, and not including ambient noise. This value is the same as the WHO (Europe) night noise guideline (100) and has been demonstrated to result in levels of wind turbine community annoyance similar to, or lower than, known background levels of noise-related annoyance from other common noise sources.
Post construction monitoring should be common place to ensure modeled sound levels are within required noise limits.
If sound emissions from wind projects is in the 40''45'‰dB(A) range for non-participating receptors, we suggest community consultation and community support.
Setbacks that permit sound levels >45'‰dB(A) (wind turbine noise only; not including ambient noise) for non-participating receptors directly outside a dwelling are not supported due to possible direct effects from audibility and possible levels of annoyance above background.
When ambient noise is taken into account, wind turbine noise can be >45'‰dB(A), but a combined wind turbine-ambient noise should not exceed >55'‰dB(A) for non-participating and participating receptors. Our suggested upper limit is based on WHO (100) conclusions that noise above 55'‰dB(A) is ''considered increasingly dangerous for public health,'' is when ''adverse health effects occur frequently, a sizeable proportion of the population is highly annoyed and sleep-disturbed'' and ''cardiovascular effects become the major public health concern, which are likely to be less dependent on the nature of the noise.''
Over the past 20'‰years, there has been substantial proliferation in the use of wind power, with a global increase of over 50-fold from 1996 to 2013 (1). Such an increase of investment in renewable energy is a critical step in reducing human dependency on fossil fuel resources. Wind-based energy represents a clean resource that does not produce any known chemical emissions or harmful wastes. As highlighted in a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal, reducing air pollution can provide significant health benefits, including reducing asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, and heart disease, which in turn could provide significant savings for health care systems (101). By following our proposed health-based best practices for wind turbine siting, wind energy developers, the media, members of the public and government agencies can work together to ensure that the full potential of this renewable energy source is met.
Author ContributionsAll authors contributed in varying degrees to writing, editing, and reviewing this manuscript.
Conflict of Interest StatementIn terms of competing interests (financial and non-financial), the authors work for a consulting firm and have worked with wind power companies. The authors are actively working in the field of wind turbines and human health. Although we make this disclosure, we wish to reiterate that as independent scientific professionals our views and research are not influenced by these contractual obligations. The authors are environmental health scientists, trained and schooled, in the evaluation of potential risks and health effects of people and ecosystems through their exposure to environmental issues such as wind turbines.
AcknowledgmentsWe thank the reviewers of this manuscript for their comments.
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Why Everything They Say About The Amazon, Including That It's The 'Lungs Of The World,' Is Wrong
Tue, 27 Aug 2019 13:08
The dramatic photos shared by celebrities of the fires in Brazil weren't what they appeared to be
Wikipedia The increase in fires burning in Brazil set off a storm of international outrage last week. Celebrities, environmentalists, and political leaders blame Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, for destroying the world's largest rainforest, the Amazon, which they say is the ''lungs of the world.''
Singers and actors including Madonna and Jaden Smith shared photos on social media that were seen by tens of millions of people. ''The lungs of the Earth are in flames,'' said actor Leonardo DiCaprio. ''The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world's oxygen,'' tweeted soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. ''The Amazon rain forest '-- the lungs which produce 20% of our planet's oxygen '-- is on fire,'' tweeted French President Emanuel Macron.
And yet the photos weren't actually of the fires and many weren't even of the Amazon. The photo Ronaldo shared was taken in southern Brazil , far from the Amazon, in 2013. The photo that DiCaprio and Macron shared is over 20 years old. The photo Madonna and Smith shared is over 30. Some celebrities shared photos from Montana, India, and Sweden.
To their credit, CNN and New York Times debunked the photos and other misinformation about the fires. ''Deforestation is neither new nor limited to one nation,'' explained CNN . ''These fires were not caused by climate change,'' noted The Times .
But both publications repeated the claim that the Amazon is the ''lungs'' of the world. ''The Amazon remains a net source of oxygen today,'' said CNN . ''The Amazon is often referred to as Earth's 'lungs,' because its vast forests release oxygen and store carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that is a major cause of global warming,'' claimed The New York Times.
I was curious to hear what one of the world's leading Amazon forest experts , Dan Nepstad, had to say about the ''lungs'' claim.
''It's bullshit,'' he said. ''There's no science behind that. The Amazon produces a lot of oxygen but it uses the same amount of oxygen through respiration so it's a wash.''
Plants use respiration to convert nutrients from the soil into energy. They use photosynthesis to convert light into chemical energy, which can later be used in respiration.
What about The New York Times claim that ''If enough rain forest is lost and can't be restored, the area will become savanna, which doesn't store as much carbon, meaning a reduction in the planet's 'lung capacity'''?
Also not true, said Nepstad, who was a lead author of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. ''The Amazon produces a lot of oxygen, but so do soy farms and [cattle] pastures.''
Some people will no doubt wave away the ''lungs'' myth as nit-picking. The broader point is that there is an increase in fires in Brazil and something should be done about it.
But the ''lungs'' myth is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider that CNN ran a long segment with the banner, ''Fires Burning at Record Rate in Amazon Forest'' while a leading climate reporter claimed , ''The current fires are without precedent in the past 20,000 years.''
While the number of fires in 2019 is indeed 80% higher than in 2018, it's just 7% higher than the average over the last 10 years ago, Nepstad said.
While the number of fires in 2019 is indeed 80% higher than in 2018, it's just 7% higher than the average over the last 10 years ago.
INPE One of Brazil's leading environmental journalists agrees that media coverage of the fires has been misleading. ''It was under [Workers Party President] Lula and [Environment Secretary] Marina Silva (2003-2008) that Brazil had the highest incidence of burning,'' Leonardo Coutinho told me over email. ''But neither Lula nor Marina was accused of putting the Amazon at risk.''
Coutinho's perspective was shaped by reporting on the ground in the Amazon for Veja , Brazil's leading news magazine, for nearly a decade. By contrast, many of the correspondents reporting on the fires have been doing so from the cosmopolitan cities of S£o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which are 2,500 miles and four hours by jet plane away.
''What is happening in the Amazon is not exceptional,'' said Coutinho. ''Take a look at Google web searches search for 'Amazon' and 'Amazon Forest' over time. Global public opinion was not as interested in the 'Amazon tragedy' when the situation was undeniably worse. The present moment does not justify global hysteria.''
And while fires in Brazil have increased, there is no evidence that Amazon forest fires have.
''What hurts me most is the bare idea of the millions of Notre-Dames, high cathedrals of terrestrial biodiversity, burning to the ground , '' a Brazilian journalist wrote in the New York Times .
But the Amazon forest's high cathedrals aren't doing that. ''I saw the photo Macron and Di Caprio tweeted,'' said Nepstad, ''but you don't see forests burning like that in the Amazon.''
Amazon forest fires are hidden by the tree canopy and only increase during drought years. ''We don't know if there are any more forest fires this year than in past years, which tells me there probably isn't,'' Nepstad said. ''I've been working on studying those fires for 25 years and our [on-the-ground] networks are tracking this.''
What increased by 7% in 2019 are the fires of dry scrub and trees cut down for cattle ranching as a strategy to gain ownership of land.
Against the picture painted of an Amazon forest on the verge of disappearing, a full 80% remains standing. Half of the Amazon is protected against deforestation under federal law.
''Few stories in the first wave of media coverage mentioned the dramatic drop in deforestation in Brazil in the 2000s,'' noted former New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin, who wrote a 1990 book, The Burning Season, about the Amazon, and is now Founding Director, Initiative on Communication & Sustainability at The Earth Institute at Columbia University.
Deforestation declined a whopping 70% from 2004 to 2012. It has risen modestly since then but remains at one-quarter its 2004 peak. And just 3% of the Amazon is suitable for soy farming.
Both Nepstad and Coutinho say the real threat is from accidental forest fires in drought years, which climate change could worsen. ''The most serious threat to the Amazon forest is the severe events that make the forests vulnerable to fire. That's where we can get a downward spiral between fire and drought and more fire.''
Today, 18 - 20% of the Amazon forest remains at risk of being deforested.
''I don't like the international narrative right now because it's polarizing and divisive,'' said Nepstad. ''Bolsonaro has said some ridiculous things and none of them are excusable but there's also a big consensus against accidental fire and we have to tap into that.''
''Imagine you are told [under the federal Forest Code] that you can only use half of your land and then being told you can only use 20%,'' Nepstad said. ''There was a bait and switch and the farmers are really frustrated. These are people who love to hunt and fish and be on land and should be allies but we lost them.''
Nepstad said that the restrictions cost farmers $10 billion in foregone profits and forest restoration. ''There was an Amazon Fund set up in 2010 with $1 billion from Norwegian and German governments but none of it ever made its way to the large and medium-sized farmers,'' says Nepstad.
Both the international pressure and the government's over-reaction is increasing resentment among the very people in Brazil environmentalists need to win over in order to save the Amazon: forests and ranchers.
''Macron's tweet had the same impact on Bolsonaro's base as Hillary calling Trump's base deplorable,'' said Nepstad. ''There's outrage at Macron in Brazil. The Brazilians want to know why California gets all this sympathy for its forest fires and while Brazil gets all this finger-pointing.''
''I don't mind the media frenzy as long as it leaves something positive,'' said Nepstad, but it has instead forced the Brazilian government to over-react. ''Sending in the army is not the way to go because it's not all illegal actors. People forget that there are legitimate reasons for small farmers to use controlled burns to knock back insects and pests.''
The reaction from foreign media, global celebrities, and NGOs in Brazil stems from a romantic anti-capitalism common among urban elites, say Nepstad and Coutinho. ''There's a lot of hatred of agribusiness,'' said Nepstad. ''I've had colleagues say, 'Soy beans aren't food.' I said, 'What does your kid eat? Milk, chicken, eggs? That's all soy protein fed to poultry.'''
Others may have political motives. ''Brazilian farmers want to extend [the free trade agreement] EU-Mercosur but Macron is inclined to shut it down because the French farm sector doesn't want more Brazilian food products coming into the country,'' Nepstad explained.
Despite climate change, deforestation, and widespread and misleading coverage of the situation, Nepstad hasn't given up hope. The Amazon emergency should lead the conservation community to repair its relationship with farmers and seek more pragmatic solutions, he said.
''Agribusiness is 25% of Brazil's GDP and it's what got the country through the recession,'' said Nepstad. ''When soy farming comes into a landscape, the number of fires goes down. Little towns get money for schools, GDP rises, and inequality declines. This is not a sector to beat up on, it's one to find common ground with.''
Nepstad argued that it would be a no-brainer for governments around the world to support Alian§a da Terra, a fire detection and prevention network he co-founded which is comprised of 600 volunteers, mostly indigenous people, and farmers.
''For $2 million a year we could control the fires and stop the Amazon die-back,'' said Nepstad. ''We have 600 people who have received top-notch training by US fire jumpers but now need trucks with the right gear so they can clear fire breaks through the forest and start a backfire to burn up the fuel in the pathway of the fire.''
For such pragmatism to take hold among divergent interests, the news media will need to improve its future coverage of the issue.
'' One of the grand challenges facing newsrooms covering complicated emergent, enduring issues like tropical deforestation,'' said journalist Revkin, ''is finding ways to engage readers without histrionics. The alternative is ever more whiplash journalism '-- which is the recipe for reader dis engagement.''
A Cockwomble Reaches for the Hockey Stick :: SteynOnline
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:41
There was some modest activity yesterday in the Mann vs Steyn climate-change hockey-stick case, which will shortly be entering its eighth year. As that ludicrous fact testifies, it has been procedurally bollocksed by the District of Columbia courts, which is why it will almost certainly be headed to the Supreme Court. When it gets there, it will be the most consequential free-speech case since New York Times vs Sullivan fifty-five years ago.
Lest you doubt that, consider yesterday's request by the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press and various other parties to file an amicus brief on the merits of the case - that's to say, on the danger Michael E Mann's victory would pose for the "right to freedom of speech and of the press". Those supporting our side in this battle include not only the chaps you might expect, such as Fox News, but an awful lot you might not - including NBC, The Washington Post and the ACLU. Because they all recognize the threat that Mann poses to a free society in demanding the courts adjudicate public-policy disputes.
That said, at a time when Dr Mann seems increasingly short of friends, he has got one new pal: Step forward Cary Katz, the student-loan billionaire and so-called rock-ribbed "conservative" behind CRTV (now "Blaze TV"). As readers know, Katz and CRTV broke my contract, sued me for ten million bucks, lost on every claim, and then promptly re-sued and re-re-sued me for a combined twenty-five million. The litigious cockwomble has now been reduced to taking Mann's side on free speech, and this week in US District Court called me a "an abuser of the First Amendment because he neither recognizes nor respects the limits that are attendant to the right of free speech in America" (the footnote on page eight here) and makes common cause with Mann and his hockey stick:
That is why this case and Competitive Enterprise Institute v. Mann, 150 A.3d 1213 (D.C. 2016) exist (this is another long-running defamation case against Steyn).
"Competitive Enterprise Institute v. Mann" is actually Mann vs Competitive Enterprise Institute. But Katz, a Vegas billionaire with unlimited resources who's sued me multiple times, likes to see himself as the victim so he understandably mixes up plaintiffs and defendants in other cases, too.
Still, it's heartening to see that even Katz's hometown paper - The Las Vegas Review Journal - recognizes the danger the Mann/Katz view of the First Amendment poses to a free society and is among the supporters of that proposed amicus brief mentioned above.
Three years ago, Mark Levin, Michelle Malkin and I made a profound mistake in getting mixed up with a thin-skinned billionaire seeking to use the cover of "constitutional conservatism" to advance some his personal interests. Two-thirds of those names are no longer with Katz's company. One day the third will come to see that a man who takes the Big Climate enforcers' view of the First Amendment is no friend of "constitutional conservatism".
I repeat my general view: Conservatism does itself no favors when it comes to depend on mercurial and unprincipled sugar-daddies.
PS I like Mark Steyn Club member Owen Morgan's point:
'..this is another long-running defamation case against Steyn.'
So, now, the never-endingness of a case becomes a factor in its favour, according to Katz? At least one Jarndyce must have wished he had dreamt that one up.
Indeed. If the protractedness of litigation is testament to its virtue, Katz is Mother Theresa. I think that's his lawyer's point.
~Programming note: Aside from his regular Thursday date with Tucker tonight at 8pm Eastern, Mark will also be joining Steve, Ainsley and Brian on the curvy couch live on "Fox & Friends" just after 8am Eastern/5am Pacific on Friday morning.
We hope to see a few Michael Mann fans in the crowd for Mark's upcoming show with the great Dennis Miller at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on Saturday March 2nd. After all, Wilkes-Barre is a zippy 135-mile drive from Mann's redoubt at State College, Penn, so it would make a lovely Valentine gift for the climate alarmist of your dreams. Especially VIP tickets - with which you'll not only enjoy the best seats in the house, but get to meet Mark and Dennis after the show, have your picture snapped with them, and take home a special autographed gift. But don't leave it too late: the VIP tickets are almost gone!
As for the rest of the first ever Dennis Miller/Mark Steyn tour, it kicks off next week in Reading, Pennsylvania, and there are still a few tickets left. After Reading, Mark and Dennis will be in Syracuse, New York the following night (where, alas, VIP tickets have sold out), and after that headed for Rochester, which for our Ontario readers is a pleasant tootle down the QEW.
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The Amazon Is on Fire, but Earth Has Plenty of Oxygen - The Atlantic
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 11:50
Humans could burn every living thing on the planet and still not dent its oxygen supply.
Peter Brannen Aug 27, 2019 Marizilda Cruppe / Amnesty International / ReutersAs tongues of flame lapped the planet's largest tract of rain forest over the past few weeks, it has rightfully inspired the world's horror. The entire Amazon could be nearing the edge of a desiccating feedback loop, one that could end in catastrophic collapse. This collapse would threaten millions of species, from every branch of the tree of life, each of them'--its idiosyncratic splendor, its subjective animal perception of the world'--irretrievable once it's gone. This arson has been tacitly encouraged by a Brazilian administration that is determined to develop the rain forest, over the objections of its indigenous inhabitants and the world at large. Losing the Amazon, beyond representing a planetary historic tragedy beyond measure, would also make meeting the ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement all but impossible. World leaders need to marshal all their political and diplomatic might to save it.
The Amazon is a vast, ineffable, vital, living wonder. It does not, however, supply the planet with 20 percent of its oxygen.
As the biochemist Nick Lane wrote in his 2003 book Oxygen, ''Even the most foolhardy destruction of world forests could hardly dint our oxygen supply, though in other respects such short-sighted idiocy is an unspeakable tragedy.''
The Amazon produces about 6 percent of the oxygen currently being made by photosynthetic organisms alive on the planet today. But surprisingly, this is not where most of our oxygen comes from. In fact, from a broader Earth-system perspective, in which the biosphere not only creates but also consumes free oxygen, the Amazon's contribution to our planet's unusual abundance of the stuff is more or less zero. This is not a pedantic detail. Geology provides a strange picture of how the world works that helps illuminate just how bizarre and unprecedented the ongoing human experiment on the planet really is. Contrary to almost every popular account, Earth maintains an unusual surfeit of free oxygen'--an incredibly reactive gas that does not want to be in the atmosphere'--largely due not to living, breathing trees, but to the existence, underground, of fossil fuels.
Shanan Peters, a geologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is working to understand just how it was that our lucky planet ended up with this strange surplus of oxygen. At a presentation in June, at the North American Paleontological Convention in Riverside, California, he pulled up a somewhat unusual slide.
''What would happen if we combusted every living cell on Earth?'' it asked. That is, Peters wanted to know what would happen to the atmosphere if you burned down not just the Amazon, but every forest on Earth, every blade of grass, every moss and lichen-spackled patch of rock, all the flowers and bees, all the orchids and hummingbirds, all the phytoplankton, zooplankton, whales, starfish, bacteria, giraffes, hyraxes, coatimundis, oarfish, albatrosses, mushrooms, placozoans'--all of it, besides the humans.
Peters pulled up the next slide. After this unthinkable planetary immolation, the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere dropped from 20.9 percent to 20.4 percent. CO2 rose from 400 parts per million to 900'--less, even, than it does in the worst-case scenarios for fossil-fuel emissions by 2100. By burning every living thing on Earth.
''Virtually no change,'' he said. ''Generations of humans would live out their lives, breathing the air around them, probably struggling to find food, but not worried about their next breath.''
Read: When a killer climate catastrophe struck the world's oceans
To understand why requires a short tour of our planet. The two most abundant gases billowing out of volcanoes are water and carbon dioxide. Photosynthesizers'--whether plants, algae, or cyanobacteria'--use this raw material to pull off Earth's greatest magic trick: harnessing photons from a giant thermonuclear explosion 93 million miles away (that is, sunlight), to strip that H2O of its H's, and add them to that same volcanic CO2, to make the stuff of life. That's namely stuff with lots of C's, H's, and O's in it, like sugars and carbohydrates, wood and leaves. The O2 left over from this sorcery is released to the environment as waste.
Of course, that's not all that happens on our planet. All but a hundredth of a percent of this photosynthetic stuff is consumed by creatures like us (and many quite unlike us) in the exact reverse process. That is, we use up that same waste oxygen in order to burn that photosynthetic organic matter, whether by munching leaves, or flesh reconstituted from leaves, to steal that chemically captured sunlight for ourselves. We then release the original CO2 and H2O back to the environment as exhaust.
This process of respiration, this metabolic burn, represents a perfect and complete reversal of photosynthesis. That is, after a tree spends a lifetime producing oxygen and tree stuff, that oxygen is used up in its own undoing'--by decomposers such as fungi, or by bugs and animals that eat its leaves, and by bacteria that respire dead stuff in the earth. In the ocean, this unraveling is carried out by creatures that skim algal muck from the surface of the sea, and big things that eat one another, and bacteria that feed on the snowfall of tiny carcasses sinking through ocean depths, or larger ones resting on the seafloor. Organic carbon stuff does not like to sit around for long.
In the long run, and from the perspective of oxygen, it's a wash. As much is consumed as is created'--and not only by life. Free oxygen likes to react with almost everything on the planet, whether that's rocks at Earth's surface, or sulfur in volcanic gases, or iron in ocean crust. Left to its own devices, oxygen will disappear all by itself.
On their own, then, trees'--and even entire forests and seas of plankton'--are not enough to fill the atmosphere with a surplus of oxygen. If 99.99 percent of the vast reservoir of oxygen created by the living world is consumed by the living world, that gets you an atmosphere with 0.01 percent oxygen, not our modern 20.9 percent. Photosynthesis is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a world that is hospitable to white-hot oxygen-burning furnaces like us.
''The notion that we owe the breath we breathe to the rain forest, or the [phytoplankton] off the rain forests' coasts, is just a little bit misinformed on the long timescale,'' says Peters.
You don't get to 20.9 percent, or an atmosphere that can host animal life, without geologic time, and without the fossil record. The tiny remainder of photosynthetic stuff that isn't consumed and respired again by life'--that 0.01 percent of plants and phytoplankton that manages to escape from this cycle of creation and destruction'--is responsible for the existence of complex life on Earth. It's the organic carbon that, once created, doesn't get consumed again. Somehow this rounding error of plant stuff gets shuttled away after it dies, and is shielded from decomposition before it can be undone by the oxygen it produced in life. By not getting destroyed by oxygen, this conserved plant stuff gifts a tiny surplus of the unused gas to the atmosphere above. On the time scale of tens of millions of years, such meager gifts can accumulate'--apparently to 20.9 percent.
This minuscule leak out of the system requires a rare confluence of conditions. If a tree or mat of cyanobacteria or swirling hurricane of phytoplankton dies, and is quickly buried by sediment, or comes to rest at the bottom of a putrid, anoxic sea, it can escape underground before it's unraveled. Over large swaths of time, this tiny trickle of organic carbon into the earth can swell to become a vast reservoir of buried life. And far above'--at the surface world this life once inhabited'--it leaves behind an equivalent gift of oxygen.
These reservoirs of organic carbon underground'--in places where they're sufficiently concentrated that they're useful to industrial civilization to dig up and burn'--are called fossil fuels. Far more of this organic carbon exists in the geologic record, from all the life that ever lived, than in the thin, pulsating organic film of life at Earth's surface. And so we breathe in not merely the thin wisp of oxygen created by living trees on Earth's surface, but also the ancient oxygen gifted to us by these tens of millions of years of preserved forests and plankton blooms (coal, oil, and natural gas) that now rest under our feet.
Underneath West Virginia and England are vast sleeping jungles, more than 300 million years old, filled with centipedes the size of alligators and scorpions the size of dogs. Under West Texas is a tropical coral reef from a 260-million-year-old ocean, visited, in its day, by sharks with circular saw teeth. Under Saudi Arabia are whole seas of plankton that pulsed with the seasons and sunbathed under the waves in the age of dinosaurs.
This is what we are burning at Earth's surface today. We're not just burning down the Amazon. We're burning down all the forests in Earth history that we can get our hands on. For every worrying part per million that CO2 goes up from burning fossil fuels, atmospheric oxygen goes down an equivalent amount, and then some. As a result, oxygen is dropping far faster from burning fossil fuels, and their untold forests, than it is from burning just the trees available on the planet's surface. We're reversing tens of millions of years of photosynthesis all at once.
Luckily, unlike CO2, we measure oxygen not in parts per million, but in parts per hundred. In other words, we have been gifted such an absurd surplus of oxygen by deep geological time, and by strange ancient life we'll never know, that it won't soon run out by our own hand, whether by deforestation or industry. Thankfully, most of the organic carbon in the Earth can be found not in easily recoverable reservoirs of fossil fuels, available to feed our industrial appetites, but in rather more rarefied deposits'--small whispers of this life diffused in mudstones throughout Earth's crust. There's plenty of oxygen. For now.
Read: The Amazon cannot be recovered once it's gone
Nevertheless, our geological bonfire illustrates just how unusual the project of humanity is. We are trying to retrieve, burn down, and metabolize all the forests and sea life ever buried, from alien worlds long past. We're not merely lighting a match to the Amazon and imperiling everything that lives in it with extinction, but also summoning creatures long dead to return to Earth's surface and give up the ancient energy they took to the grave. This global industrial metabolism, this heedless combustion of the life at the planet's surface and throughout its history, is a new phenomenon on the face of the Earth. It is a forest fire of the eons.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.
Peter Brannen is a science writer based in Boulder, Colorado. His work has appeared in
The New York Times, The Washington Post, and
Wired. He is the author of
The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions.
Patrick Byrne
Maria Butina and I, Part I: Meeting Maria | Deep Capture
Mon, 26 Aug 2019 12:24
It is not my intent to reveal anything beyond what I recently said on TV (and likely, even less). Given that much of that is now going through a media blender, I aim merely to organize and state clearly the things I said on television recently, so as to reduce room for misreporting.
A frequently played video in the news thispast year has been a clip from the summer of 2015: a 26 year old Maria Butinastanding up in a Las Vegas conference to ask Candidate Donald Trump a question.The conference was FreedomFest, an annual conference for liberals (a.k.a. ''classicalliberals'', ''philosophical liberals,'' ''libertarians'') that occurs in Las Vegaseach summer, when freedom-oriented people descend on Vegas for four days andhear lectures on everything from Alexis de Toqueville to Hayek, from the MagnaCarta to Bitcoin to Emigrating to Panama.
A glance at the schedule of the 2015 FreedomFest will confirm that I was at that conference as well. Wednesday, the opening day, I gave the keynote (''Turtles All the Way Down: How the Crypto-Revolution Solves Intractable Problems on Wall Street''), and participated in a panel Thursday. I left Friday afternoon. Candidate Trump arrived and spoke Saturday, so we never crossed paths.
After my opening keynote, there was aline of perhaps a couple dozen people waiting to talk, take a photo with me, oreven ask for an autograph (yes, it happens, and it is still weird). I noticed awell-dressed, professional, striking redheaded young woman standing off to theside, her position and posture indicating she was not seeking an autograph, buthad purposeful business and was waiting for the people asking for photos andautographs to dissipate. She cut quite a figure, not just from her dress andphysique, but mostly from her carriage. I assumed she was a reporter.
When those waiting had dissipated, she approached me and handed me her card. It identified her as ''Maria Butina'', the president of a gun rights group in Russia. She spoke of it for perhaps 30 seconds, mentioning it had something to do with General Kalashnikov. The truth is, though, unlike most everyone else in that room that day, I'm not into guns. I am OK with them, I have had some basic classes, but I do not fetishize them. Thus I did not have much interest in hearing about gun rights in Russia, and so after perhaps a minute at the most, I smiled at Maria and thanked her, pocketed her card, and walked away.
The next day I was on a panel. After the panel, again a line of a dozen or two dozen well-wishers. There was no sign of Maria, but this time when I walked with my assistant down an empty hallway out the back, there she was. She sidled up to me as I walked (my assistant stepped away to give us privacy) and said, ''Dr. Byrne, please allow me to tell you why I am really here. Here is my other card.'' She presented me a card identifying her as Special Assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia. ''I have been sent here to make contact with you.''
Smoothly, with polished grammar beneath her Russian accent, she continued, ''Did you know that in certain circles in Russia you are a famous man? We know about you, we know about your relationship with Milton Friedman, we watch your videos on Youtube about leeberalism. I have been sent here to this conference to deliver you a message. Would you afford me 90 minutes to speak with you privately?'' She had clearly polished her delivery.
When traveling on business, I generally get a suite so that I can have business meetings in the suite's living room, rather than conduct meetings over meals in restaurants (and thus I avoid about 5,000 calories per day). I would generally not extend an invitation to such an unknown quantity, for all the obvious reasons. However, I have taught frequently at the university level (including Stanford and Dartmouth), and have been around lots of talented young men and women: my impression of Maria was that she was extremely professional in dress and manner, comported herself impressively, and came across as a much more serious person than most at 26 could pull off. I told her of my suite and asked her if she would be comfortable having lunch with me there, watching her closely for her reaction. She thought for only an instant, then accepted professionally, with no hint of coquetry.
I turned to my assistant and told him to book her for lunch the following day in my suite.
I should clear up a few matters:
MiltonFriedman '' Many consider this economist one of the greatest of the 20thcentury, but also, one of liberalisms' greatest thinkers. Milton devoted the lastdecade of his life to advancing school choice as his preferred solution forfixing the American republic. I was long an admirer of his at Stanford, and (onceI was in a position to do so) became an earnest supporter of school choice (especiallyfor Black and Latino children). Milton and Rose and I became friendly, and Ijoined the board of the Milton & Rose Friedman Foundation for EducationalChoice. It was supposed to change names upon Milton's death (because foundationsget taken off-course after their founder's passing). However, in 2006, when hewas near passing, Milton called me one last time and told me he and Rose hadchanged the will so that for 10 years after his death, I would lead hisfoundation as Chairman in his name. That story is known within freedom-orientedcircles. To 99.99% of the world it doesn't boil an egg, but to .01% of theworld it means a lot. ''Liberalism'' '' a political philosophy embracing individual rights, consent of the governed, rule of law under a limited constitutional government, and peace. The rest of the world uses the word correctly, as far as I can tell, and the US used to use ''liberal'' correctly, but for about 80 years we have erroneously used it to mean ''Left''. It does not mean ''Left'' and should not be applied to people who wish to abandon traditional liberal principles such as free speech, presumption of innocence, or limited constitutional government (e.g., by wanting to pack the Supreme Court). Because American readers often have confused notions of what ''liberal'' actually means, I will include some rough (but not precise) equivalents for readers' reference: Classical liberalPhilosophical liberalLibertarianFreedom-orientedConstitutional Clearances '' Because of minor advisory work on foreign policy that I did nearly two decades ago (basically, getting to read certain policy papers and giving my thoughts on them: quite bookish), for some time I maintained the lowest level security clearance that exists, as approximately 3 million Americans do. When one gets such a clearance, one signs a piece of paper that says, more or less, ''When an attractive Russian redhead walks up to you and says, 'I have been sent here from Russia with a message for you,' there's a this number that you are going to call.'' I was not even sure if my clearance was still active. But when they come to re-investigate (which they do every 5-7 years), if it turns out you have been having ''substantial'' contact with a foreigner and not reporting it, you can get in a fair bit of trouble. And as odd as it may sound, overtures like Maria's are not completely foreign to me. In fact, I have gone through periods where I got hit with more of this kind of thing than I can take, but I managed to keep the contacts insubstantial and glancing enough that I never had to make such a call. But as Maria walked away, I was wondering if this was going to be substantial enough I would have to. Up to this moment I have gone into such detail simply to give a stamp of verisimilitude to what may otherwise be a strange and unconvincing tale. Going forward, however, I will be more brisk.
The next day I had had lunch arranged and delivered. Maria arrived at my suite punctual to the second. Again, her businesslike comportment and maturity stood out for a woman of her age. Again, there was not a hint of coquetry. Upon being seated we began an intense 90 minute conversation, of which I will give a compressed description below.
Maria is from Siberia. Her parents moved there in the Soviet era. She is of Russian heritage, and (if I recall correctly) a tiny fraction Jewish. All Russian six year olds get tested intellectually (and physically?): there are two schools left over from the Soviet era where the most elite 30 of them (nationwide) are sent. She was selected, and ten years later graduated second in her class of 30. She finished university and a master's degree in political science, while doing something entrepreneurial on the side regarding the furniture business, which had netted her a good bankroll (in the tens of thousands of dollars, I sensed, or maybe a bit more). She also was training for the amateur Greater Moscow Powerlifting Championship (or something like that), focusing on deadlift and power clean, I think.
As a child of the rubble of the Soviet Union, she had grown up witnessing corruption and lawlessness, and thus had gravitated to liberalism . She had studied in university and was intellectually broad: as one would expect, she can talk about Dostoevsky and Chekhov (we discussed Notes from Underground and its relation to the Left, and ''The Sneeze'', which I had seen in London in my student days), but also Orwell, Nabokov, and Twain. Yet her real focus in university, she said, had been liberalism. She knew our history, from the English and Dutch to US history and our Constitution, much better than most Americans I've ever met. Phrases like ''Jeffersonian democracy'' drop from her mouth with comfort, and others like ''Lockean reasoning'' do not throw her off. She can talk about Milton Friedman and Friederich Hayek, and knows the difference between a Monetarist and the Austrian School of Economics.
Maria had been noticed by some powerful players in Moscow. ''There are 50 oligarchs who run Russia, but there are seven who really run Russia. I am close, very close, to four of them.''
She also mentioned that her gun rights group had been formed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. ''Believe it or not, General Kalishnikov was a liberal, too!'' And he had chosen a 23 year old woman to be its leader. ''Do you know who General Kalashnikov is to Russians? Do you know what this means in our culture? That this 93 year old General named me, a 23 year old woman, to lead this?'' I assured her that I knew of the near-mythical status General Kalashnikov has to Russians (they view his 1947 invention, the AK-47, as ''the gun that freed the world''). I told her I also understood the significance of his having named her the leader of the organization he founded. We chuckled at the coincidence: a 93 year old Mikhail Kalashnikov had picked a woman to lead his organization, and she was meeting the guy that 94 year old Milton Friedman had picked to chair his.
I told Maria two things. First, that I have gotten the sense from Russians I have met over the years that they think Americans do not know what they went through in World War II. I told her this was a misconception, and we know the Naziis killed 20-30 million citizens of the Soviet Union, and that to Russians it was an event such as the Holocaust was to Jewry. She seemed touched. (The truth is, we Americans could be a bit more conscious of that fact, but in general I think we are aware of it more than Russians understands.)
The second thing I shared with Maria was my theory of Russian history. The Ottomans had taken Constantinople, and the Sultan had put the Orthodox Church under the jizya. After some decades, the Ukrainian Bishop had made a deal with the Sultan to pay X years worth of jizya (I think X = 30 to 40) in return for being allowed to break away. Thus was born the Russian Orthodox Church, which, in its isolation, developed a unique version of Christianity. It maintained the standard Judeo-Christian narrative that humanity was once high, then there was the Fall, but by doing certain things we get to return to being high again. In the Russian version, however, salvation for mankind is something that occurs not individually, but collectively; most importantly, it is specifically through the capacity of the Russian people to bear immiseration and suffering that the future salvation of all humanity is purchased. That is central to Russian Orthodoxy. The liberal in me says, ''If I were a Russian tyrant, that would be a handy theology to have my Church teaching everyone.'' I recall Maria getting a bit misty-eyed at my theory, as though it struck a chord, and then we had quite a conversation about it.
I do not wish to flaunt it, but since its relevant I will share this: I have degrees from Dartmouth (BA, Philosophy and Asian Studies) and Beijing Teacher's University. At Stanford I started a Master's in Philosophy (Mathematical Logic), won a Marshall Fellowship, went to Cambridge, did a Master's in Philosophy there (Ethics), then returned to Stanford as a Teaching Fellow and finished a PhD in Philosophy (with much study of the intellectual origins of the US Constitution). Much sound and fury signifying nothing: it happened because I had cancer three times in the years after college, and I spent my twenties being treated in hospitals and convalescing in universities. However, it means I have been around a lot of intellectuals. Maria Butina is an intellectual.
Maria already knew of my membership on the Council on Foreign Relations, a NY-based foreign policy think tank (and no, it is not the den of Backroom Boys of popular culture). That was interesting: the membership list of CFR is not secret, but it takes some work to find. She asked my thoughts on US- Russia relations. I told her the truth: General Jack Vessey was a great influence on me and my beliefs. General Vessey, a hawk's hawk, was Reagan's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and was reappointed to the role (quite rare). He is the only man in US history to have gone from Private to Chairman of Joint Chiefs (having earned a battlefield commission at Anzio). Yet he was a general in the mold of George C. Marshall, a humanist who understood the cost of war and sought above all to prevent it. General Vessey passed away a few years ago, and wished read at his funeral a passage from a US News article from the period when he was being considered for reappointment to a second term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs: it predicted he would not be reappointed because he was considered too cautious about committing US troops to foreign battles (or words to that effect). He wanted that read at his eulogy because he wanted to be remembered as the general who was too cautious about committing US troops to foreign battles.
General Vessey used to counsel me such things as, Any world where the US and Russia get along is better than any world where we are at war. Also, that the secret to world peace was first getting things right between the USA, Russia, and China, then using that as the scaffolding from which to hang the rest of the international order. In response to this I remember asking him, ''There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. Shouldn't they have a seat at the table?'' He thought for a moment and said, ''Yep, but there's nowhere to send the invitation.''
Interestingly, in January of 2015 General Vessey had me as his guest at CSIS in Washington, DC, to watch Kissinger and Shultz (two other vintage hawks) on stage exploring the Ukraine crisis. The two Cold Warriors felt (as did Vessey) that what we had done in the Ukraine in 2014 was a provocative act, insisting that we should not be starting World War III over the Ukraine, instead arguing for a Swiss-like outcome. Most troubling to all was the taped Nuland-Pyatt telephone calls (BBC story here). With ''Fuck the EU'' nonchalance they nearly triggered World War III, with about as much thought as I would put into a choice of vacation destination.
After perhaps 45 minutes of such getting to know each other, Maria pushed her plate aside, dropped her voice, and said (again, in abbreviated form):
I would like to tell you why I am here. Russia is a wonderful country, it is a wonderful land. But it has a harsh history. For 400 years so many Russians have been killed or fled. There is a generation of Russians who want to change this. We are liberals. There are liberals among the oligarchs and the power structure. We know that the way of Russia's past has to evolve, that war is not the way forward. We dream of a Russia that has rejoined the Western, liberal tradition.
There are maybe 100-150 across the government and oligarchs.
We are not disloyal to Putin: he is our president. We are not talking about anything inappropriate. But Putin will not be president forever. We wish to talk about what a post-Putin age might look like someday.
There is a club for liberals we have formed. It is a gun rights group. Yes we like guns, but the group is really a group for the liberals among the power structure of Russia. It was formed by Michail Kalashnikov, because he was a liberal.
I know this will sound ridiculous to you, Dr. Byrne, but there are those who wish me to be president someday. I am being groomed for it. By our constitution one cannot run until age 35. I think I will be 40. Many of the oligarchs know me personally, and understand what I want to do for Russia with my life. We want to make Russia a place that people do not want to leave.
Switching gears, she said, ''We watch your videos on liberalism. We have some of them dubbed in Russian. We talk about them in our club.'' She named one I gave at the world's first global conference on Bitcoin, in Amsterdam, 2014. I had been invited to give the talk that opened the conference: the result (''500 years of Liberalism, From Amsterdam to Bitcoin'') was well-known and discussed in freedom-oriented circles around that time. She knew of talks I give on the history of liberalism (such as ''Why We Fight'': this version is from 2.5 years ago but I've been giving versions of it for years).
''I have been sent to invite you to come to Moscow and speak at the Central Bank on the subject of Bitcoin and Liberalism, and how you think blockchain can change the world. Then I would like to take you for three days to the Altai Mountains. There is a resort there that will be shut down. There will be 40-45 people there from across the Russian power structure. Government people, oligarchs and their people. We wish to speak with you about blockchain, Milton Friedman, the Austrian School'.... And a future for US and Russia that is a path besides war.''
I asked her, ''What about the FSB? They may not be crazy about me given some things I have said and written in the past.''
She told me that they would know all about me before I arrived. I would likely be pulled aside in the Moscow Airport. She told me just to be honest and straightforward. There was no need to lie. We were not doing anything inappropriate. They would be aware of my itinerary, and likely even have someone at the Altai Mountain resort. We were not trying to hide anything.
She said she understood that I could not accept her invitation at that moment. The idea had been socialized on their end, and they had sent her to find me at this conference and deliver this invitation. They wanted to know if and when I could commit to a date to come to Russia, speak at the Central Bank, and go to the Altai Mountains. Before the cold came would be best.
I told her to convey to those who had extended the invitation that I was honored, and that I would think about it.
Precisely at 90 minutes Maria gathered her personal effects, stood, and I saw her to the door. She declared that we would continue to communicate ''under the guise of having romantic relationship'' to make arrangements for our next meeting, where we would plan out such a trip, if I were interested.
As I closed the door and she walked away, I decided some things:
I rated the odds as:1/2 '' 2/3 opportunity to do something good (preach the gospel of liberalism in the right quarters, build connections with good people in other places, and nudge the ball of peace forward);1/3 '' 1/2 this is a risk. The Russians and Soviets have a long history of setting up dissident organizations and seeing who shows up (as someone once put it to me). Maybe she is who she says she is, and who she thinks she is, but may be Torshin is orchestrating some mischief here. Or maybe Maria is a Red Sparrow: some people in Russia may bear grudges against me for things I did over a decade ago (examples of which abound on Deep Capture, or view this: ''Economic Warfare as an Instrument of Transnational Organized Crime'').Maria had tipped the scale regarding what I, as a holder of the most minor of security clearances, had a duty to call in. The feds and I don't have any special friendship (note the number of federal investigations I have been hit with in my life). But I knew that if I did not call it in, and certainly if I accepted and went to Russia, someday I would be sitting in a gray room with a bunch of men in suits grilling me angrily, at a minimum. At this point, in deference to federal authorities, I am going to be vague about the nature and method of subsequent interactions. None of that is germane to these matters, other than I can assure you the following took place.
By that evening a detailed description of my interaction with Maria was in Washington, DC. I asked to hear back on three things:
May I introduce Maria to senior thinkers I know in the foreign policy establishment? I thought she would be interesting for someone to spend an afternoon getting to know (perhaps even General Vessey, who was still alive at the time, or other senior figures who are perfectly capable of taking a meeting like that). Perhaps her dreams of being a back channel for peace might ring a bell with someone. Is it OK if I travel to Russia on her invitation? Should I cut her out of my life as being a security risk? I waited to hear back from the administrative office that handles clearance matters such as this. It had been five years since I had even had any contact with the office, when I had had to send an updated list of foreign travels.
Later, it was confirmed to me that my news was received and shared across certain circles that evening, Friday, July 10, 2015. That is when the Maria/Russian investigation started (at the latest), not July 2016. That is the cover-up.
When I heard back from someone, it was not from an administrative office that oversees clearances. Instead, communication was re-opened with the Men In Black. It had been a long, long time. Since my mitzvah days with Wall Street'....
To be continued
Maria Butina and I, Part Deux: Romancing Maria | Deep Capture
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:57
At this point I am going to bediscrete, other than to say that contact was re-established with Men in Black(I avoid using the ''F'' acronym for reasons that will become clear).
Why do I say, ''re-established''? Because twice, over the decades, I have had the honor of helping them. Why would a (flag-waving) libertarian ever help feds? I will explain:
I had a great friend named Brian Williams. In 2002 he was murdered. I helped bring the killer to justice, in a manner of speaking. Numerous sensationalist TV reenactments have been made, which should all be skipped. A surprisingly well-written story appeared in Sports Illustrated some years ago (''Lost Soul'' by Chris Ballard) about Brian's life and death that captures Brian's spirit. It alludes to some minor involvement I had in helping the authorities sort it out. It was my honor to do so. On August 23, a United States Attorney named Brett Tolman appeared on Fox News with Dan Bongino (a retired federal officer, who was guest hosting for Hannity). At minute 1:25 Mr. Tolman says something about me:''I know Patrick Byrne. I've known him for years. I spent 45 minutes on the phone with him today talking about it. When he indicates that he has previously worked for the FBI and provided information, he is telling the truth. Back in 2005-2006 I was Chief Counsel at the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he brought to us inside information about manipulation that was going on in Wall Street. It turned out that it was accurate, and it was investigated, and it became part of a much larger investigation. So my experience with him is very fascinating, because while he's eccentric, he has been accurate historically with me and with others.''
To understand what is going on now, it is not necessary to read all the backstory about Wall Street and me from years ago (but if you wish, you are on the site to do it). Just know this: whenever I told the story publicly, I always left something out. I always said that I had gone to DC in 2005-2006 trying to get help exposing Wall Street but had found it captured, ''turtles all the way down.'' That was never the full truth. The truth is, the Senate Judiciary Committee was fantastic. Members and staff of both parties were great to me. Like me, they were curious not just about the underlying matter I was bringing to them (which is that I thought we had a crack in the national capital market's settlement system, and it might quake at any moment: indeed, on October 23, 2008, Greenspan identified ''settlement'' as one of the three main culprits in the crisis). Like me, they were also curious about the reaction (or lack thereof) on the part of the government that should have been reacting back in 2005-2006.
That's because, as the committeeoverseeing any activity in the USA touched by a criminal or civil penalty, theSenate Judiciary Committee has oversight jurisdiction on everything related tocorruption. I swam around on Wall Street 2005-2009 drawing fire from theEstablishment so that the FBI could watch who was going after me, and puttogether the hedge funds, regulators, and journalists who seemed to be incahoots.
In the autumn of 2009, I was calledone morning by a Man in Black, who said words I will treasure to my dying day:''Patrick, the Bureau wishes to thank you for what you have done. It isalmost unprecedented. You are going to see handcuffs come out this week. Youneed to live the rest of your life knowing that everyone you see us arrestsuspects your fingerprints are on his problems.''
A few days later, Raj Rajaratnam of Galleon was arrested. He was the first of about 200 indictments (and more than 100 people who went to prison). Take a look at the photos showing perps being walked out of hedge funds in handcuffs. Each was walked out by the same guy, a solid-looking, square-jawed Korean-American FBI agent. That's the guy who uttered those words to me above. He's the Eliot Ness of the FBI.
That all happened with the FBIbecause in 2005 I found a single group in Washington DC that would listen to meand my tales of what I knew was happening on Wall Street: the Senate JudiciaryCommittee. And on that committee, before he became a US Attorney, was a youngBret Tolman. Without the beard. And he saw what he described above.
So those are the two times I washonored to provide modest help to the Men in Black.
I intend to be fuzzy about Men in Black, but I would like to be clear about one thing: they are men and women, white, black, Latino, and other '-- some look like Captain America, some like Serpico, some look like librarians '-- and I came to respect them in the same way I do the young men or women I see in uniform at airports, trying to make a flight. That sounds funny for a libertarian to say, I suppose, but remember, libertarians like consent of the governed. And once that consent has been found, we like rule of law, because what's the point of going to all the trouble of finding out what law the governed consent to, if that's not the law that gets enforced? Lack of rule of law undermines our whole liberal ''consent of the governed'' thing.
More importantly, 30-35 years ago Iwandered around Asia and saw a lot of things. I also studied developmenteconomics as a grad student at Stanford. My big takeaways were:
Economic development is aboutraising the income of women, not men.Without rule of law, economicdevelopment occurs in quicksand. Liberalism is best. That it. That's my 20's, boileddown.
Popular culture makes fun of federal officers for being strait-laced, stiff, and formal. It's true they don't much care about being your friend: they just want the facts. Yet at times that is a relief, such as when your closest friend has disappeared, or when you put together a criminal financial plot that you think may collapse Wall Street. In such times, that is precisely what you want, even if you never knew it before. You learn that you want a formal, stiff, unsmiling character looking at you across a table in gray room with a legal pad. Even though it generally means putting up with getting pushed around and accused of things that had never occurred to you or even would occur to you. It's the price we pay for rule of law. Try living without it.
Here's a warning, however, that was passed to me by a lawyer years ago: trying to help feds can be like helping a tiger that has got its paw caught in a trap. So you might just use their quite adequate website, tips.fbi.gov. I never plan on talking to feds again. If I do, I'll likely be in an orange jumpsuit. But if I do, I want to help them work on the algorithms in that website.
Anyway, my explanation to the peoplein the Administrative Office of Personnel looking after three million security clearancestriggered the following event: the Men in Black and I were back in touch. Thedetails of everything related to how those communications occurred will beomitted (other than to say that, initially, was it partially face-to-face,but by December 2015 it was entirely face-to-face).
All I wanted to know was, if I went to Russia and met with their liberals, would I have to get hassled about it when I returned? And could I introduce her to someone in our foreign policy establishment, like 93-year-old General Vessey? Or need I cut her out of my life? They seemed to suggest that I should learn more, and then they would decide. But they emphasized that they were not sure. Messages went back and forth for two months.
Meanwhile, Maria was writing me, inviting me to meet in Montenegro, then Rome, Paris, etc. Watching my videos on liberalism. Pretending to fall in love, to create a reason to meet again and talk. But meanwhile, I was being told half-heartedly, ''Well maybe it's OK, but we're not sure'...''
Finally, in September of 2015 I received something that sounded like they wanted me to meet her again. It started occurring to me; ''Do they want me to meet her without having to take responsibility? Damn, then are they are going to show up in a year, act shocked, interrogate me endlessly, accuse me of this and that? Screw that, that's the kind of thing that happened that other time.''
In an effort to make things clear, I sent a binary message along the lines of: Not wanting to get in a hassle with the U.S. government, I am not going to meet Maria again unless I hear the word, ''Greenlight.''
They responded: ''Greenlight.''
I was mildly surprised, but pleased.* I have played a minor, minor role in three peace events in my life (and though I critique Chomsky sometimes, the credit for one of them must be given to him and his writings on East Timor). I thought it might be possible that Maria Butina, a liberal from Russia, with all her connections, might be a good person to get to know. I have seen stranger events lead something good '' including to peace.
So in September 2015 Maria and I met for a second time in a hotel in New York City, with the idea that we would spend a few days getting to know each other, plan a trip to Russia to talk at their Central Bank on bitcoin and how blockchain will change the world, and to meet her liberal friends in Moscow among the oligarchs.
Of course I got two rooms, but to be consistent with her faux-romantic texts I arranged a two-bedroom suite. She was arriving first, and I assumed that when I arrived, we would laugh about the pretense and take separate rooms.
A gentleman does not normally say, but it would be ridiculous to omit, given how germane it is: when I arrived, Maria made immediately clear that she had not been pretending. She had indeed watched all my videos, and thought I was pretty cool. She, the Greater Moscow Powerlifting Champion (amateur) swept me and my liberalism off my feet. I was helpless, helpless I say'....
Well, not really. About the ''helpless'' part, anyway. The rest is true. And I will say this: Maria is a spectacular woman. An unforgettable woman. Great props to Mother Russia. Respect. A gentleman shouldn't say but'...Wow.
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To keep Church Ladies from hammeringme on message boards, and because it is relevant: For Maria's part, she soundedlike there were some big-shot Republicans in her life in America she wasseeing, she was back and forth to Russia, nothing was too serious, etc. Ididn't really pry.
For my part: I am a lifelong bachelor. I didn't plan it that way, I'm 56, there were some end-of-life issues since I was 22, and it just turned out that way. I give great tryst. I have no Act III whatsoever, but my Acts I and II are dynamite. So again I find myself saying (because my editor tells me that I sound strange to some): Sorry, but this is just my life. Stuff like this happens to me. All the time, frankly, if I let it. I don't make the rules.
So at the end of our first three day tryst, I proposed the following: ''Look I know you are a young gal, making your way in America. Tell you what: from time to time, when you get tired of hanging out with Republican big-shots, give me a call. Every six weeks or so suits me just fine. Pick a city you want to see while you're in America, like Miami, or San Francisco, I'll just send you a ticket and we'll make a weekend of it.'' She smiled in agreement.
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Let us get past the salacious part,and to the important part. After a weekend in New York, learning about whom sheknew and what her thinking was, I rated the odds as:
½ '' 2/3 this is good, and handled properly, the right people might start talking to each other. Something good might come of it. Like'... peace? Or at least some good connective tissue. And if it means I am talking in the Central Bank of Russia or a resort in the Altai Mountains about the origin of the Austrian School in the work of the Scholastics of Salamanca, and why its important to understand the Austrians when thinking about what a blockchain-based governance and financial system might look like'.....Well, I'm not sure that risks national security so much.1/3 '' ½ This is a risk, a set-up, a scheme of some sort. Maria does mention a lot of US political big-shots to whom she is introduced.Again, I am not going to go into forms of communication with the Men In Black, but would like to share the substance. The problem is, though, that at this point reality split in two, and I was not sure which was the real reality. Here were the choices:
Bureaucratic '' The federal government is occasionally bureaucratic. The Men in Black ignored my observations and suggestions, and reacted as though I had just met some lovely Russian woman in Vegas and was smitten by her (''Yeah right. How many of those are there in Vegas?'') They acted like they might be willing to be talked into thinking that perhaps there could be something gained by having Maria meet some thinkers in our foreign policy establishment someday, but we're not sure, so just get to know her better and tell us why we should'..... It got frustrating. Like something out of a Monty Python script. On the one side, me emphasizing to them: She knows this oligarch and that, she knows this Moscow politician and she knows that, she reads Hayek and Jefferson, but she's over here swimming around in our political circles with this big-shot and that '...Trick '' The other possibility is that they were only pretending to ignore me, and they were just playing dumb. My gut kept telling me that. But I could not figure out why. If they wanted her out of my life, all they had to do is say so: I gave them the chance numerous times. I did it plenty of times when I went after Wall Street people and things that smelled wrong. Was it because they wanted me to digging into her and trying to convince them? Or was there something else?I saw Maria sporadically every 4-6weeks (+/-?) from September 2015 through March 2016. Over time, Maria's pillowtalk became less about John Locke and John Stuart Mill, and more about thepolitical circles in which she was coming to swank around. As a result, byMarch my estimation of the risks had changed from 2/3 '' 1/3 to 1/3 '' 2/3.
By November-December, 2015 she letme know that Torshin had told her to focus on Hillary, Rubio, Cruz, andTrump. Whichever of the four won, she was to have a contact in theiradministration. Torshin had decided that there was no chance Bernie would win,so Maria was not to spend any time trying to meet anyone in his camp.
If there was one flicker of interest from the US Government, it was in hearing that about Hillary. However, after another tryst somewhere, I let the Men In Black know that Maria had indeed checked off meeting someone in Hillary's circle (I forget who), and intended from then on to focus entirely on Cruz, Rubio, and Trump. At that point, any interest in the USG went (as far as I could tell) to 0. Absolute 0. They just acted like I was paranoid to think there was anything strange about this: Why are you so concerned about this Russian graduate student, anyway? And why do you think she would be interesting to introduce to someone in our foreign policy circles?
By December, 2015, or January, 2016 at the latest, a thought was crossing my mind: They are being so indolent about reacting to Maria. It is almost like they are letting this develop on purpose. Since the moment they learned Hillary was no longer on Maria's list, but checked off, they just have had an attitude of sitting back and letting this Can-O-Scandal emerge. Like someday, whenever they want to, they are going to grab it, shake it up, pop it open, and spray it on the Republicans '...'.... That's absurd. That's crazy. This is America. Director Comey would not do that. President Obama would not do that.
Somewhere in March, 2016, as I recall, Maria began telling me of an up-and-coming meeting that was being arranged (she hoped) with Donald Trump, Jr. There was some convention of conservatives coming up in the South, and her Republican big-shot friends were making special arrangements for Don Jr. to be taken surreptitiously to meet her, she whispered excitedly. I knew the time and place. Obviously, that was something that should not happen, so I let the Men In Black know about it and proposed that I whisk Maria off to Bahamas for that weekend.
To my great surprise, they told me: Back off. We're going to let it happen. I could not quite believe it. They brought someone to explain: sometimes when foreign spies come here we just hang back and let them roam, watching them, see who they make contact with. That did not sound right to me. Maybe it could be true if someone was trying to steal our nuclear codes, and we needed to learn how, I suppose. But if some foreign agent is here schmoozing around, and it is the act of the schmoozing around that creates the compromises and troubles'... why let her do it? (My understanding from a journalist named Seth Hettena is that in May, 2016, in Kentucky, at a convention of NRA, Maria was at a private dinner with a number of people, and among them was Don Jr. Perhaps briefly only. I do not know for sure, but it sounds like this was the evolution of what Maria had spoken about to me around March-April, 2015, just before we broke up the first time).
Around the end of March, 2016, Maria called me excitedly: there was an upcoming conference in St. Petersburg, Russia. Just two weeks away. It was major, being hosted by the Ministry of Finance (or something similarly grand). She had made arrangements for me to have a key speaking slot, on the subject of Bitcoin and Liberalism. I would speak, and then since President Putin was in St. Petersburg the same day (he may have been speaking at the same conference), it had been scheduled that I would have 60 minutes alone with President Putin (with Maria as translator).
As a Milton Friedman guy, who cannot only tell you the difference between PPS 23 and NSC 68, he can tell youwhat's wrong with Chomsky's critique of the former, getting a chance to meetPresident Putin would have been a matter of great interest to me. Of course itwould have been an honor. My sense is also that he is quite intellectual: ifso, it would also have been a chance to ask him questions and perhaps engage insome Miltonesque mind-openers with him (and he with me). Maybe that ''peace''football that we liberals like could have been inched forward a bit more.
Instead, the Men In Black came and told me Maria has been analyzed, she is just another grad student, but going to Russia to meet Putin is too dangerous, and we want you to break up with her. Get Maria out of your life.
So I did.* Roughly, by text. Curtly. Simply told her I was tired of being ''the other guy''. What was she going to say to that? It was unlike me not to be kinder. The truth was, however, right then I was Stage IV of two things at once. One of them had a 6 '' 36 month prognosis (and I was 9 months in), absent successful intervention, of which the odds were 23%; the other had a 12 month prognosis absent surgery that might buy me 3 years. So it was a bad time anyway. Thus, when I was told to cut her out of my life, I did. Just like that.*
After that (as I mentioned the other night on TV), I was on the edge of a corruption investigation of a federal official. It was the edge, yet it gave me enough of a view to see what was going on. It ended unsatisfactorily, in precisely the way one would not want to see a corruption investigation end. But I walked away and forgot about it.*
*_ I am going to do something unusual, and place my asterisk not at the end, but in the middle of an essay. The same ''herd of independent minds'' who go into contortions whenever I use a metaphor like ''Sith Lord'' will likely turn blue over me putting an ''*'' in an unusual place, but I'll dare it anyway. This would be a good time to tell you that where I used an ''*' above, I am leaving something key out. If you picked up that I went along with things in a way that does not seem completely plausible, pat yourself on the back. That part of the explanation will be revealed a long way down the road, if ever.
So those six months of occasionaltrysts with Maria resolved themselves in a way that felt'.... odd. Six months oftrying to yenta to the US foriegn policy establishment a Russian liberalintellectual who was chosen by Mikhail Kalashnikov to lead an organization hefounded hear his death, and who came with such an odd invitation for me, andspoke of a meeting with Don Jr.'.... And the Men In Black dismissed her as justanother grad student? It just seemed sketchy. Call me madcap. And so did thecorruption investigation of a federal official that followed. That also ended'....oddly.
Which is why some months later, around July 1, 2016, when the Men In Black showed up with an unusual (and for them, distressing and appalling) instruction'... I was ready. After emphasizing to me that this never happens in the United States, we are the good guys and we really do not play like the bad guys, never in their careers had they heard of the United States asking a citizen to sleep with someone to get information'..... they wanted to ask me to rekindle a romantic relationship with Maria Butina. I had every right to say ''no'' and no one would think worse of me. But Russia was to trying to subvert our election, and I was to get to the bottom of Maria Butina. ''Gloves off.'' The entire chain of command was being skipped. The request came from X and Y and Z. Was I willing? (I want to emphasize, the Men In Black are honorable men and women, and they were extremely discomfited by the request. There was no leering. They felt horrible. I think they wanted me to refuse it. They insisted that in their careers they heard never heard of such a request. But this was coming from X, Y, and Z.)
I told them , Yes I'll do it.*
At this point, I will draw thischapter of my narrative to a close, and end with some suggestions for my dearfellow citizens to know:
I do not maintain that Maria did nothing wrong. She'.... Well, she traveled around and had a lot of dinners and backroom meetings with big-shots, mostly Republicans . She took pictures and put them on Facebook. And she did all this while taking suggestions from an official back in Moscow, and whether or not Torshin is in Putin's camp, or really a liberal, Torshin is a Russian Senator, and the law says that taking direction from any official of another government (whether or not said official is acting alone or at direction of the chain of command) is illegal. Thus, if one wants to be a Philadelphia lawyer about it, Maria broke the law about being an unregistered foreign agent (as does half of Washington, incidentally). So it would untrue to say she did nothing wrong.However, it is also true that the USG knew she was having those meetings all along, generally before she had them. From me. They let it all happen, on purpose, I promise. They played dumb but they were just playing me for a fool (talk about a two-inch putt). Still, having the prosecutor stand up in court and speak of the grave damage Maria did to our national security by having those dinners seems a tad churlish, given that they knew about Maria from the day in July, 2015 she landed here, and generally knew about all those meetings before they happened, and just let them all happen. Remember, our court sentenced Maria to 18 months in a box about the size of your shower stall. Many nations consider anything over three months in solitary, ''torture''. Maria did 10 months before I went in and talked to the DOJ (again, whether my doing so was a factor in her move to a nicer women's facility in Florida, I am unsure, but I am grateful, and I hear from her lawyer that she spends all day outside). I recall when I was in college, and we would hear about some American college kid who did some bonehead kid thing in the USSR, or North Korea, and they'd ship him home 5 years later howling from a burlap sack. To some degree we've become those guys'..... Who did that to us? How did it happen?Were the prosecutor and judge in on things? Did the prosecutor know the truth? How about the judge? According to some, she is a defendant's judge, and in her career as a judge she has always forced prosecutors to compromise: this is her first case, they add, that she demanded the prosecutor up the penalty. Both prosecutor and judge were appointed in 2012-2016. Do your own research (and look into where the prosecutor was married) before deciding. The Men In Black are not the problem. They were hijacked from above. They are great Americans, just like the folks you see in uniforms in airports. They really are. And there's not a dud among them: they are crisp, white-shirted professionals like one rarely finds in corporate America anymore. They had some bad leadership. They were used, too, and I think I was in the room when they figured it out. It all came from the top. I was repeatedly told, These instructions are skipping the chain of command, and are coming personally from X, Y, and Z. That is why I do not even like using the ''F'' acronym about this. It hardly seems fair. These orders were not originating within their bureaucracy. And they seemed quite nonplussed about it all. If it is true that my April 30, 2019 conversation with DOJ had anything to do with Maria's May 9 move after 10 months in box in a SHU unit to a nice(r) women's prison in Florida, I am grateful, and I am sure Maria is as well. Nothing federal happens in 9 days, normally. It seems reasonable for the DOJ to have decided to move her but keep her in custody until they sort this mess out. It is absolutely not true that I am taking credit for Mr. Durham's investigation. I am so sorry if it sounded that way in a TV interview. I meant only to be reciting dates. I was tired and unguarded and emotional (as I had just left my firm of 20 years). I should have explained then that I did not know if the dates connected. While it is true that Mr. Durham's investigation was announced May 13, I had 0 contact other than on April 5 and 30. I have had no contact with Mr. Durham. Also, my sense is that Mr. Durham's investigation started on its own before me. My sense, in fact, is that there are a number of whistleblowers like me within the federal system. Mine may well be an insignificant part of the whole tale. I hope so. If you are a sizeable Hillary supporter in Hollywood, political espionage was conducted against you. Somebody back East wanted to know who you were and how you acted at her expensive fundraisers.Maria belongs back in Russia, a hero. Her running for president someday would be the best thing that could happen to Russia or the US. Imagine a Russian president who knew US history and the constitution better than our own did. And wouldn't it be funny if that aspect of Russian Orthodoxy came true, that not through the suffering of all Russians, but of one Russian woman who came here wanting to find people who read Hayek, that something tremendous happened?For example, perhaps this will wake us up from the delusion that has gripped our land. Vladimir Putin is living rent-free in your brain, America. No one is denying that he and his people performed some mischief (though whether Maria was related to that or not, and if so, how wittingly, is another question). It is an aspect of hybrid warfare, and yes, Putin did it to us. Please know that the last time I met any of the Men In Black, back in March, 2017, they let me know precisely that. Putin had built enough cobwebs into enough corners here so that whoever had won, Putin was going to be able to pull a trigger and cause an uproar here. Get us all chasing our tails and each others' tails. No matter who won. There's even a name for it, an intelligence operation that seeds disorder and doubt and chaos. However, remember the grifter's saying, ''You cannot con an honest man.'' What has gone wrong in our country that this would have worked as it did?Why am I coming forward? There are citizens who already ask me, ''If you knew this, how could you have stayed silent so long?'' There will be people with badges and guns who tell me that coming forward was a horrible (nay, felonious) thing for me to have done, that it hurt their work. All I can say is that I thought I had a few shards of a much bigger puzzle, and I kept waiting for the authorities putting the puzzle together to come ask me for my shards. Then last summer, watching YouTube, I saw Congress rip some senior FBI officials apart, and what got public there fit so well with my shards I knew they weren't shards anymore, they were some of the big missing pieces. So I only got it figured out around this time last summer. And we did not even have rule of law until we got an Attorney General on February 14. I've tried to do the right thing since then, but I can second-guess myself, too. Some will still tell me that I should never have come forward'.... Yet every mass killing we have, I think, It cannot be the right thing to do, to stay silent for another day. No matter what the feds now know and are working on, staying silent for another day cannot be right. Our country is going nuts. Friends of both sides share their fears with me. No one knows what to believe because no one has had the facts before, and the country seems to be sinking into something we have not experienced in 150 years. But the facts are there was political espionage conducted against Hillary and her supporters, Cruz, Rubio, and Trump. That's not ''a theory''. I was there. I saw it. If those four were not all warned by December, 2015, that in Moscow someone had decided to target them with Maria Butina, then someone was deliberately letting Maria smudge them up. And if some were warned and some not, then that is a different kind of political espionage. Certainly, the same goes for Don Jr. and all the other people Maria was deliberately allowed to meet after July 2015: USG knew about Maria (from me) the day (after) she landed, and of every meeting she went on to have. From me. Before she had them.
In addition, remember that you have not yet read what I have not gotten to, that part concerning an investigation of a federal official, and what I did regarding Maria when they came back in July, 2016, asking me to rekindle our romance to get information. In brief: by October '' December 2016 Maria wanted to leave DC, her boyfriend, her grad school, and come to Utah to live with me and finish here. I was told not to let that happen, to keep her from leaving DC, so she would stay immersed doing'.... well, all those things that two years later they charged her for doing because it damaged national security so much. That's for starters.
And you may not hear more. Not from me, anyway. My purpose has been simply to re-orient the national conversation, because both sides are Stuck on Stupid.
The Democrats are correct: there was a basis to begin the Russian investigation. It was me, jumping up and down since July, 2015, saying that something Russian going on here, and it was either good (Russian liberals wanted some backchanel into the next adminsitration), or bad (this was all an FSB operation). In fact, there was such a good reason to open an investigation, that by December, 2015 I was thinking, ''Someday I am going to be sitting in front of a Senate panel trying to account for how they did not open an investigation into Russia coming here to meddle in our election, if only because of the real possibility of that being Maria's game.'' By January 2016 it seemed crazy to me that they had not opened an investigation.
But the Republicans are also correct: law enforcement was used as a weapon of politics. Yet what Republicans have not understood is that it was was turned against Hillary Clinton, too. I am not saying that to make her a victim. I am telling the truth. But I am not revealing how they targeted her.
I am hoping that people will stop shooting each other and themselves over this. There is an answer on its way. America is not doomed to end like a Thomas Pynchon novel, with interpretations shifting to interpretations endlessly hinting at connections that melt into vapor. There is in fact an investigation going on into all of this. What I told you about Maria Butina here is all iron-clad. What I have sketched out regarding other things, and what happened in that second period with Maria, is as bad. I am but one of many people who are coming forward with these stories, which were pure political espionage. Don't assume it was President Obama behind it, either: we are talking about the ''Deep'' State, remember (plus, for the record, I like Obama: I did not vote for him, I did not agree with 70% of what he did, but I thought he and his family brought dignity and class to the office, and I hope he was not involved).
So stop fighting. An answer is on its way. The gibberish is coming to an end. You are going to know the answers. Not from me. But from the guys with badges and guns. At last.
NB It has been about a decade since I blogged regularly. I am rusty. Years ago it often was my habit to post a blog then fiddle with it for an hour. I have done so with this. Consider this final as of 3:23 PM on Tuesday, 8/27 (Mountain Time). If you read any version in the last little while before this, it was not the final version.
Anna Chapman: How Did the FBI Nab Alleged Russian Spy? - CBS News
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 14:52
Anna Chapman (AP Photo/Personal Photo)NEW YORK (CBS/AP) How did the FBI catch Anna Chapman, the woman dubbed the "femme fatale" of the alleged Russian spy ring accused of trying to infiltrate "policymaking circles" in the U.S.?
PICTURES: Anna Chapman
A criminal complaint details how Chapman allegedly used fake identities, coded radio transmissions and encrypted data to avoid detection.
The complaint alleges that Chapman, 28, was using a specially configured laptop computer to transmit messages to another computer of an unnamed Russian official - a handler who was under surveillance by the FBI.
The laptop exchanges occurred 10 times, always on Wednesdays, until June, when an undercover FBI agent got involved, prosecutors said. The agent, posing as a Russian consulate employee and wearing a wire, arranged a meeting with Chapman at a Manhattan coffee shop, according to prosecutors.
During the meeting, they initially spoke in Russian but then agreed to switch to English to draw less attention to themselves, the complaint says, recounting their recorded conversation.
"I need more information about you before I can talk," said Chapman.
"OK. My name is Roman," the agent replied. "I work in the consulate."
The undercover agent said he knew she was headed to Moscow in two weeks "to talk officially about your work," but before that, "I have a task for you to do tomorrow."
The task: To deliver a fraudulent passport to another woman working as a spy.
"Are you ready for this step?" he asked.
"Of course," she responded, according to the complaint.
The agent gave her a location and told her to hold a magazine a certain way - that way, she would be recognized by a Russian agent, who would in turn confirm her identity by saying to her, "Excuse me, but haven't we met in California last summer?"
But Chapman was leery, prosecutors said.
"You're positive no one is watching?," they say she told the undercover agent after being given the instructions.
Afterward, authorities say, she was concerned enough to buy a cell phone and make a "flurry of calls" to Russia. In one of the intercepted calls, a man advised her she may have been uncovered. The complaint says he told her she should turn in the passport to police and get out of the country.
She was arrested at a New York Police Department precinct after following that advice, authorities said.
Authorities say the undercover's parting words to her had been, "Your colleagues in Moscow, they know you're doing a good job. So keep it up."
Anna Chapman and Other Alleged Russian Spies Arrested 38 photos
Opinion: The real Maria Butina scandal: FBI could have prevented it | TheHill
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 14:48
By John SolomonOpinion Contributor
This is a tale of two alleged Russian agents '-- one who got rolled up once her ring activated against a Democratic political figure, and the other who was allowed to roam freely across the American political landscape for years while building contacts with conservatives.
The second example, Maria Butina, was a photogenic 20-something Russian who, by 2015, was frequenting American political events, posing questions to presidential contenders, dining with the politically connected and snapping photos with conservative VIPs.
Her shtick '-- she billed herself as a Russian student visiting the United States who decided to champion the expansion of mostly nonexistent gun rights in her homeland '-- was simply too good to be true.
Russia has no Second Amendment and isn't considered a country friendly to civilian gun ownership. Handguns are mostly outlawed and hunting shotguns and rifles are strictly controlled, leaving less than 10 percent of the populace as legal gun owners. And Russian President Vladimir Putin even suggested he might start a crusade with his country's national guard to confiscate guns from unauthorized Russian owners, a threat that reminded some of the old Soviet dissident roundups.
Any young student who dared challenge a Russian cultural norm or Putin's wishes, as Butina did on gun rights, seemed more likely to be destined for a gulag than the American red carpet.
Unless, of course, there was a benefit to the Kremlin.
U.S. intelligence unquestionably had Butina on its radar by spring 2015, in part because she left an overt trail of open-source intelligence documenting her contacts with major conservative figures at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the National Rifle Association and the libertarian Freedom Fest, starting in 2013. (Some of those she met at events had U.S. security clearances.)
For at least 18 months, the FBI even surveilled her regularly as she roamed the United States, according to sources.
Yet the FBI chose not to arrest her until 2018, charging her just two weeks ago with acting illegally as a Russian agent of influence without properly registering, a charge she and her lawyer deny.
Before that, the U.S. government had cleared and even helped to facilitate a meeting for two congressmen '-- one a Republican, the other a Democrat '-- in summer 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia, with Butina and her Russian handler; it then approved her receiving a student visa to stay more regularly in the United States, starting in 2016.
Such behavior seems odd for an FBI that now says in court records it has evidence dating to 2015 of Butina's efforts to influence American politics '-- especially when compared to the bureau's conduct in the earlier case of another Russian, Anna Chapman.
Chapman was, before Butina, the most famous Russian arrested on U.S. soil. She led a ring of about 10 Russian spies embedded in America; one of them posed as an accountant as she tried to gain influence in political circles.
Both Butina and Chapman were stunning in appearance, two redheads who were flawlessly Western in comportment and cunning in how they penetrated political circles.
But that is where the comparisons end '-- at least when it comes to the FBI's conduct.
As soon as one of Chapman's associates, who went by the name of Cynthia Murphy, made inroads with Alan Patricof, a major Democratic donor close to Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster Virginia governor's approval ratings above water 6 months after blackface scandal Hillary Clinton: 'We should not nuke hurricanes' MORE , the FBI acted swiftly to arrest the entire cell before it compromised any political leaders or institutions.
''In regards to the woman known as Cynthia Murphy, she was getting close to Alan, and the lobbying job. And we thought this was too close to Hillary Clinton,'' former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi explained to me last year. ''So when you have the totality of the circumstance, and we were confident we had the whole cell identified, we decided it was time to shut down their operations.''
For some reason, the FBI's ''too close'' alarm bell didn't sound off the same way for Butina, even as she posted to a Russian Facebook-like site photos of her attending events where she had contact with former or current U.S. officials such as John Bolton (2013), former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (2014), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (2015), former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and future President Donald Trump Donald John TrumpSenate Democrats warn Trump: Don't invite Putin to G-7 Trump blames Fed for manufacturing slowdown Pence responds to Haley tweet: I'm looking forward to running with Trump in 2020 MORE (2015).
There also was no urgency from the FBI when she helped to arrange a major dinner at the 2015 NRA convention in Nashville and brought her reputed handler, Russian banking and political figure Alexander Torshin, along to meet the big-money figures of the GOP. Likewise, no pre-emptive FBI action when she helped to arrange a delegation led by a former NRA president to meet with Putin's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, in December 2015.
Instead, Butina got her student visa from the U.S. government, despite influence-peddling that was brashly recorded on websites and social media.
If ever there were a case that suggested the FBI took disparate actions under separate circumstances, Butina and Chapman would be the subjects in evidence.
Chapman's ballyhooed arrest was a hallmark moment of then-FBI Director Robert Mueller Robert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE 's campaign to reform the bureau from one focused solely on prosecutions to one that could prevent the most serious intelligence and terrorism threats before they happened.
The watch-wait-and-see approach the FBI used with Butina was much more in line with the instincts of former prosecutor and Mueller successor James Comey James Brien ComeyNadler files motion to expedite lawsuit seeking McGahn testimony The road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor MORE . The prize, in that mindset, is much more the announcement of criminal charges and convictions than the knowledge of knowing you disrupted harm before it happened.
That may explain why Mueller, now the special counsel in the Russia election-meddling case, didn't take the lead on Butina's prosecution even though it clearly has ties to the 2016 election.
It's a classic case where the FBI focused less on prevention and more on prosecution after the fact. And, in so doing, the FBI may have created a scandal of its own doing: It could have spared us the salacious political yarn of Maria Butina, had it just acted preemptively as it did with Anna Chapman.
John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists' misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill's executive vice president for video.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill.
Magic Numbers
Japan's Whaling Fleet Set to Embark on Hunt for 333 Minke Whales
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 23:38
Japan says lethal sampling is indispensable to obtain data on the maturing ages of whales.
Under Tokyo's revised proposal, it plans to catch up to 333 minke whales each year over the next 12 years, about one-third of what it used to kill, the Fisheries Agency and the Foreign Ministry said in a joint statement Monday. The plan will be evaluated after six years.
Australia, which brought the International Court of Justice case against Japan, said it might send a boat to shadow the Japanese fleet.
Australian Attorney General George Brandis told the Senate that Australia was "very disappointed" by the resumption of whaling and had taken the matter up at "the highest levels" in a bid to get Japan to change its mind.
If diplomacy fails, Australia will consider sending a Customs and Border Protection Service patrol boat, Brandis said. He did not say what role such a boat might play, but it would likely try to gather evidence of illegal conduct.
Japan's actual catch has fallen in recent years in part because of declining domestic demand for whale meat. Protests by the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd have also contributed to the lower catch. The government has spent large amounts of tax money to sustain the whaling operations.
The International Whaling Commission imposed a commercial ban on whaling in 1986, but Japan has continued to kill whales under an exemption for research.
Clips
VIDEO - CDC: US could lose measles elimination status - KRDO
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 12:50
CDC: US could lose measles status Related content (CNN) - There's a "reasonable chance" the United States will lose its measles elimination status in October because of ongoing measles outbreaks in New York, according to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
"It certainly is incredibly frustrating and upsetting to the public health community that we may lose measles elimination status, because we do have a safe and effective vaccine," Messonnier said.
When the World Health Organization declared in 2000 that the United States had eliminated measles, it was hailed as one of the biggest public health achievements in the nation's history. Losing that elimination status would be a black eye to the United States, public health experts said.
"We're embarrassed. We're chagrined," said Dr. William Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the CDC on vaccine issues.
WHO removes a county's elimination status when measles has been spreading continuously for one year. A measles outbreak in New York City started on September 30, 2018, and has caused more than 600 confirmed cases of measles. An outbreak in nearby Rockland County, New York, started the next day and has caused more than 300 cases.
Those two outbreaks have largely been among children in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community whose parents have refused to vaccinate them.
Twenty-nine other states have had measles outbreaks in the past 12 months, but those were much more short-lived than the ones in New York.
CDC plans on releasing a detailed statement next week about the country's measles elimination status, according to Messonnier.
Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, said he thinks it's highly unlikely the measles outbreaks will be over before September 30.
This week, the CDC announced 12 new cases of measles, most of them in New York. Schaffner said things will likely only get worse when children there go back to school early next month and begin congregating again in close quarters.
Losing measles elimination status "is a big deal in terms of reputation and prestige," said Dr. Paul Spiegel, director of the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins University.
It also could have ramifications worldwide. Spiegel, a former senior official at the UN Agency for Refugees, said it could undermine longstanding US efforts to convince other countries to double down on vaccinating their citizens.
"If we are not able to take care of our own backyard, how can we tell others what to do?" he said.
When vaccine rates plummet, death and disability from measles increases. In 2017, there were 110,000 measles deaths globally, mostly among children under age 5, according to WHO. Measles can also cause blindness and encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.
Polio mistaken for a shirt It was just three years ago that WHO declared the Americas to be free of measles.
"This is a historic day for our region and indeed the world," Dr. Carissa Etienne, then director of the Pan American Health Organization, a part WHO, said at the time.
No one foresaw what would follow.
Venezuela lost its measles elimination status in 2018, followed by Brazil earlier this year.
For those countries, economics and political upheaval were at play.
For the United States, it was Facebook and Twitter.
As anti-vaccine sentiment has grown on social media -- some of it propelled by Russian bots and trolls -- more and more parents have opted to not immunize their children.
These parents tend to live in clusters, such as the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in New York, which helps encourage measles to spread.
While social media is a part of parents' everyday lives, the ravages of vaccine-preventable diseases are in the distant past.
Schaffner said when he's spoken to parent groups, there's been considerable ignorance about even basic facts about infectious diseases.
"This is a true story. At one of these meetings I was talking about polio, and a mother asked me -- and this is a complete quote -- 'Why are you suddenly talking about shirts?' It took me a minute, but I realized she thought I was talking about polo shirts," Schaffner said. "This was a college educated woman out in the business world and she hadn't come across the concept of polio. She may be a bit of an outlier -- but maybe not. I think she actually illuminates the problem."
'Not our finest hour' Looking back, public health experts see lost opportunities for combating that problem.
While anti-vaxers were busy spreading their false propaganda, "the good guys," as Schaffner calls them, failed to effectively communicate how dangerous diseases like measles can be.
Those "good guys," he said, include groups such as the CDC as well as doctors' groups.
"I think this was not our finest hour," Schaffner said.
Dr. William Moss, an infectious disease pediatrician at Johns Hopkins, agrees.
While anti-vaxers circulated videos on social media of mothers citing false claims about vaccines, public health groups failed to tell the stories of the ravages of diseases like measles.
"We didn't do enough to get a mother on camera to say 'my child died of measles' or had brain damage from measles. I think we could have done better with our public health messaging," said Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins.
Messonnier, the CDC doctor, said she and her colleagues have learned a lot of lessons about social media.
"I do think it caught us all a little flat-footed -- how quickly the myths and misinformation spread," she said. "Of course, I wish I had 20/20 hindsight and had figured this out a couple of years ago."
CNN's John Bonifield contributed to this story.
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VIDEO - Julio Torres Rises Up in His Brilliant New HBO Comedy Special My Favorite Shapes :: Comedy :: Julio Torres :: Paste
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 19:24
Trying to describe Julio Torres's comedy is like trying to capture a shadow. Even if you could do it, it'd be wrong.
The SNL writer and Los Espookys star has developed a voice that's wistful, melancholic and romantic, and yet strong and confident, with just enough of a pointed bite when needed. Trying to lock his comedy down with words feels like pinning a butterfly inside a frame, as if this almost ineffable beauty is being despoiled by analyzing and categorizing it. Fortunately My Favorite Shapes, Torres's first comedy special for HBO, defies categorization. It's nothing like any stand-up special you've seen before, but perfectly in keeping with the unique work Torres has created over the last several years.
My Favorite Shapes starts with Torres discussing his favorite shapes. He sits at a conveyor belt that he operates with a foot pedal, presenting different objects and props and describing them in increasingly absurd ways. One is an oval that sadly stares at its reflection wishing it was a circle; another is a random collection of geometric objects that Torres says is an exact scale model of Tilda Swinton's apartment. At one point we hear excerpts from a cactus's diary, and anybody who struggles with mental health or self-doubt will relate to it. Most of these descriptions share a tone familiar from Torres's SNL work, like ''Wells for Boys'' and ''Diego Calls His Mom'''--goofy, sad, and surreal, but a recognizable enough version of real life to make immediate sense.
Torres eventually does stand up and move about the stage, but it never has the energy or pacing of a traditional stand-up set. When he does impressions, they're not of people but of objects and concepts, like a Britta filter, or the curtain that separates first class from coach. He has a skill for mining the ridiculous out of quotidian objects, almost like he's updating the bland observation humor of somebody like Jerry Seinfeld into a form of comic magic realism. There's a bit where he presents shapes of animals he'd like to see at the zoo, and one of them might be the most perfect joke for understanding his point of view: it's a porcupine who had its quills removed so it wouldn't injure its lover, and now no longer recognizes itself. Torres loves instilling animals and inanimate objects with the sadness and insecurities of humans, in a way that's both very specific and yet universal, and also never corny.
Again, if you've seen the fantastic Los Espookys or his SNL sketches, you'll know what to expect from My Favorite Shapes. For anybody else, though, it should be a revelation'--the discovery of a fully-formed comic voice that's utterly of its time and has no clear analogues. Julio Torres might be the funniest person in the world today, and My Favorite Shapes is easily the best stand-up special in recent memory.
My Favorite Shapes by Julio Torres premieres on HBO on Saturday, August 10, at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He's on Twitter @grmartin.
VIDEO - Hank Cavagnaro KVUE on Twitter: "Changes often come with issues. We have seen our fair share of those issues with the Homelessness Ordinances in Austin. Now one business is looking at changing things up and even sacrificing 20% of his business. Al
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 18:16
Replying to
@HcavagnaroKVUE @AustinSkidrow @KVUE I guess not edited but when she says ''yeah there is a specific crew that works here at night'' and then is clipped off real quick to go back to the manager, it suggests she is in agreement, but if you wanted to show a worker agreeing with him just take a statement.
VIDEO - ARCH director says camping outside shelter becoming emergency situation - Story | KTBC
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 14:58
AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - The people who run the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless said the homeless situation outside of their facility is on the verge of becoming a downtown emergency.
"Since the ordinance has happened, we've seen a higher density of individuals, we've seen more structured tents pop up, more permanency," said Greg McCormack, executive director of Front Steps, the nonprofit that runs the ARCH.
Leaders at the shelter said it would be a mistake to wait until additional housing facilities are built before taking steps to address it.
"If they're going to be rock and mortar structures it's probably too far off. I think we need to do something this year," McCormack said.
Wednesday, volunteers from Stubb's and employees at the ARCH handed out water bottles to those sleeping outside the building. It was a small gesture to begin to break down the walls keeping dozens of homeless people from seeking services inside.
"With just the number of individuals that we're seeing on the outside, and the folks who have been here for long periods of time, we've got a situation that soon could get a lot bigger," said McCormack.
Inside, the shelter offers beds, food, laundry, showers, case management and a cold place to relax. Outside, employees and the homeless community are experiencing ever growing chaos.
"No, it ain't never safe when you go to sleep at night. You never know what's going to happen, never," said Randy Kirby, who said he's been living outside the ARCH since 2003.
Even with mounting safety concerns, about 80 percent of people living on the outside of the building never go in.
"And that's not because we are at capacity or turning anybody away, it's just a choice to not come in," McCormack said.
"Because there's too many men in there, too many headaches in there, and I can't sleep around a lot of men," said Kirby, referring to his reasons for staying outside the facility.
McCormack said building a new shelter in South Austin likely won't make a dent around the downtown shelter.
"I think it's great! Another 100 beds will really help. I don't think, with my engagement with individuals outside the ARCH, that many individuals outside will go to that shelter," said McCormack.
"The new shelter they're building out here? I heard about it. I won't go," Kirby said.
McCormack finds many people living outside the ARCH have developed their own community there and, after years in the elements, they are more comfortable on the street.
"If they're going to go inside somewhere, then we need more shelter space," McCormack said. "If they are not going to go inside somewhere, then we have to look at other solutions. And I think that those solutions are going to have to be outside."
Tuesday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler proposed placing camping restrictions on certain busy streets and at specific locations. The area surrounding the ARCH was one of them.
"That's an unsafe place, so it is something that I think needs to be a relatively high priority to the degree that we don't let people sit or lie near the ARCH, but if we haven't provided homes or places for them to go then all we're doing is moving people from one place to another place," Adler said.
In June, City Council asked the city manager to consider at least 10 locations, one in each council district, that would allow camping.
"What the manager came back and said is, 'Let's focus on getting housing all over the city, rather than focusing on an open camping area,'" said Adler.
McCormack thinks that's a mistake.
"I think a sanctioned encampment is something to look at. I think an emergency shelter location, like a Red Cross situation, where we have a temporary structure, where we could get a couple of hundred individuals inside, provide services, provide resources'... We know when people become healthier they make better decisions, and we're able to move forward easier," McCormack said.
The mayor has reservations about that idea.
"I haven't been able to find a city yet that opened up a camping area that was actually able to close it once it happens," said Adler.
VIDEO - What Kind of Internet Do You Want? - YouTube
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 14:37
VIDEO - Paul ''TᕼE ᗷOOK GᑌY'' on Twitter: "@Dgarza888 @sunlorrie ðŸ‚@adamcurry Show closing clip." / Twitter
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:55
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VIDEO - Meet Catalina Lauf is billing herself as the anti-AOC
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:53
August 22, 2019 | 11:56am | Updated August 22, 2019 | 10:06pm
A conservative young Latina from Illinois is running for Congress as the anti-AOC.
Republican Catalina Lauf, 26, who is hoping to snag a Democratic-held seat outside Chicago, supports President Trump's border wall, cites Ronald Reagan as an idol and hopes to be a counterweight to Rep. Alexandria ­Ocasio-Cortez's congressional ''Squad.''
If Lauf wins the seat, she would break the Bronx-Queens representative's record as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
''I think it's time that people step forward who want to unite the country and do it for the right reasons,'' Lauf told The Post.
The self-described ''lifelong conservative'' on Tuesday announced she is running in the state's 14th Congressional District west of the Windy City '-- and will be taking on incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood.
Lauf is a former Trump administration adviser from Wood­stock, Ill., who describes herself as ''Latina by heart, American first'' '-- born to an American father and Guatemalan mother.
Catalina Lauf instagramIn her announcement video, Lauf said Ocasio-Cortez was among the ''angry voices who seek to divide us.''
''I think people like AOC and that group are focusing on an agenda that is so detrimental to our country,'' Lauf told The Post.
''They are not being leaders. They are part of the problem.''
When questioned about being a minority female supportive of Trump, Lauf said she wanted strong borders and denied claims that the president was racist.
''I'm the daughter of a legal immigrant,'' she said. ''We're for legal immigration. That's not racism. You should be a law-abiding citizen.''
The offspring of a small-business owner, Lauf described herself as a proud capitalist who grew up working in her entrepreneurial father's various businesses.
While studying at Miami University of Ohio, Lauf became involved in the college Republican group before obtaining a bachelor of communications at the age of 20.
Describing politics as her ''calling,'' she worked for Uber in Chicago in community partnerships before becoming a special adviser to the ­Department of Commerce last year.
Lauf said she felt compelled to run after Underwood this month called for the impeachment of Trump.
Lauf accused the 32-year-old incumbent of not representing the mostly rural, traditionally Republican district that the Democrats narrowly won with 52.5% of the vote in the 2018 midterm election.
''I want to break the stereotype that Republicans aren't empathetic,'' she said.
''Being Republican doesn't mean I don't care.''
VIDEO - 'Focus On The Present': Rep. Ilhan Omar Talks With Esme Murphy About 'Shaking Things Up' In Washington '' WCCO | CBS Minnesota
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:29
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) '-- She's been at the center of a political whirlwind in Washington.
Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has faced criticism from President Donald Trump, threats against her safety, and today, an accusation that she broke up a marriage.
The Democrat is mentioned in a Washington D.C. divorce filing, calling Omar the other woman.
Our Esme Murphy sat down with the congresswoman today. We began by asking about the claim that she is the other woman in this D.C. divorce filing.
WCCO asked, ''Are you separated from your husband? Are you dating somebody?''
The Congresswoman replied, ''No, I am not. As I said yesterday, I have no interest in allowing the conversation about my personal life to continue and so I have no desire to discuss it.''
Rep. Omar also declined to discuss continued accusations that at one point she married her brother for immigration purposes '-- an allegation that first surfaced three years ago and that she repeatedly has called absurd.
WCCO asked, ''You seem completely unphased and unbowed by negative publicity about your personal life that you don't want to comment on. How do you do it?''
Omar answered, ''I know who I am. The people who I love know who I am and what I care about. I have three beautiful little children and a family to care for, so for me, my focus is doing the work that I feel I was destined to do.''
READ MORE: Maryland State Senator: I Didn't Send Tweet Calling Rep. Ilhan Omar An 'Illegal'
In a short nine months in Congress, Omar has become a national and even international figure in her public sparring with President Trump, who infamously told her and three other progressive freshman congresswomen to go back to the countries they came from.
''I would continue to make that case to him, to put his personal vendettas aside and to focus on the task ahead of doing the work for the American people,'' Omar said.
As for the President's ''going back'' comment, Omar likes to focus on the tumultuous welcome she recently got at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. She said,''It felt like being home because this is my home.''
She says her perspective is always shaped by the little girl, who for years, was in a refugee camp.
''I know as someone who has dealt with hunger, real hunger,'' Omar said.
WCCO asked if all of the attention ever feels overwhelming.
''No, not really. It never feels overwhelming because I understand if I wasn't shaking things up people wouldn't be as rattled by my presence,'' Omar said.
Omar likes to focus on issues she has championed, like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. And she again dismisses the constant threats she receives to her own safety.
''I am comfortable in how long I am going to be on this earth, and when the time comes when I'm no longer here. That is why I so much focus on the present and the impact that I can have,'' Omar said.
Omar is set to host a community forum on immigration at the Colin Powell Center in Minneapolis Tuesday night.
READ MORE: Conservative Activist Laura Loomer Files $2M Lawsuit Over Phone Grabbing Incident At Ilhan Omar Event
Esme Murphy Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, has been a member of the WCCO-TV staff since December 1990. She is also a weekend talk... More from Esme Murphy
VIDEO - (21) Caleb Hull on Twitter: "On Instagram live just now, AOC says she's going to have one less child because of climate change. https://t.co/qUess81XPi" / Twitter
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 12:41
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VIDEO - Boris Johnson asks Queen to suspend Parliament - BBC News
Wed, 28 Aug 2019 12:32
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Boris Johnson: "We're not going to wait until October 31st"The government has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament just days after MPs return to work in September - and only a few weeks before the Brexit deadline.
Boris Johnson said a Queen's Speech would take place after the suspension, on 14 October, to outline his "very exciting agenda".
But it means the time MPs have to pass laws to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October would be cut.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said it was a "constitutional outrage".
The speaker, who does not traditionally comment on political announcements, continued: "However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of [suspending Parliament] now would be to stop [MPs] debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country."
It would be "an offence against the democratic process and the rights of Parliamentarians as the people's elected representatives", he added.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he had written to the Queen to request a meeting "as a matter of urgency and before any final decision is taken".
"Suspending Parliament is not acceptable, not on. What the prime minister is doing is a smash and grab on our democracy to force through a no deal," he said.
"Our prime minister needs to be held to account by Parliament. What he is doing is running away from Parliament. We will do absolutely everything we can to stop him."
The PM, though, said suggestions the suspension was motivated by a desire to force through a no deal were "completely untrue".
He said he did not want to wait until after Brexit "before getting on with our plans to take this country forward", and insisted there would still be "ample time" for MPs to debate the UK's departure.
"We need new legislation. We've got to be bringing forward new and important bills and that's why we are going to have a Queen's Speech," he added.
Legal precedent and challenge
Shutting down Parliament - known as prorogation - happens after the prime minister advises the Queen to do it.
The decision to do it now is highly controversial because opponents say it would stop MPs being able to play their full democratic part in the Brexit process.
A number of high profile figures, including former Prime Minister John Major, have threatened to go to the courts to stop it, and a legal challenge led by the SNP's justice spokeswoman, Joanna Cherry, is already working its way through the Scottish courts.
BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said it was established precedent to prorogue Parliament before a Queen's Speech, albeit generally more briefly, and rarely, if ever, at such a constitutionally charged time.
He said it was "Her Majesty's Government" in name only and it was her role, constitutionally, to take the advice of her ministers, so she would prorogue Parliament if asked to.
While it is not possible to mount a legal challenge to the Queen's exercise of her personal prerogative powers, BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said a judicial review could be launched into the advice given to her by the prime minister - to determine whether that advice was lawful.
This has been an extraordinarily long Parliamentary session, and governments have the right to shut up shop and return to announce their proposals in a new one, with all the golden carriages, fancy Westminster costumes, banging of doors and splendour that goes with it.
But that new timetable means Parliament will be suspended for longer than had been expected - it's only a matter of days, but those are days that might matter enormously.
Boris Johnson secured his place in No 10 by promising he'd do whatever it takes to leave the EU at Halloween, so this decisive and intensely risky plan will satisfy many of those who backed him.
But some others in his government are worried - moving now, even with the accompanying controversy, he sets the stage and the terms for an epic fight with MPs on all sides.
Read more from Laura
The PM says he wants to leave the EU on 31 October with a deal, but it is "do or die" and he is willing to leave without one rather than miss the deadline.
That position has prompted a number of opposition MPs to come together to try to block a possible no deal, and on Tuesday they announced that they intended to use parliamentary process to do so.
Although they remained tight lipped about the exact plan, it was thought Mr Corbyn would call for an emergency debate in the Commons next week, giving MPs a chance to lay down legislation designed to ultimately stop a no-deal exit.
But if Parliament is suspended on 10 September, as is suggested, it will only give opponents a few days next week to push for their changes.
Senior Tory backbencher Dominic Grieve said the move by Mr Johnson could lead to a vote of no confidence - something opposition parties have left on the table as another option to stop no deal - adding: "This government will come down."
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said MPs must come together to stop the plan next week, or "today will go down in history as a dark one indeed for UK democracy".
Mr Johnson has written to MPs to outline his plan, adding: "There will be a significant Brexit legislative programme to get through but that should be no excuse for a lack of ambition!"
He also called on Parliament to show "unity and resolve" in the run up to the 31 October so the government "stands a chance of securing a new deal" with the EU.
"In the meantime, the government will take the responsible approach of continuing its preparations for leaving the EU, with or without a deal."
But a senior EU source told the BBC's Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming: "Whatever happens, the EU was never going to change its position because no deal becomes 'more credible' or opponents of 'no deal' would get better organised."
'Utterly scandalous'
Mr Grieve - a former attorney general - told BBC Radio 5 Live: "If the prime minister persists with this and doesn't back off, then I think the chances are that his administration will collapse.
"There is plenty of time to do that if necessary [and] I will certainly vote to bring down a Conservative government that persists in a course of action which is so unconstitutional."
Former Tory chancellor Philip Hammond called it "profoundly undemocratic".
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Nicola Sturgeon says Boris Johnson is acting like a "tin pot dictator"The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, said it was a "dangerous and unacceptable course of action".
"Shutting down Parliament would be an act of cowardice from Boris Johnson," she said. "He knows the people would not choose a no deal and that elected representatives wouldn't allow it. He is trying to stifle their voices."
And the leader of the SNP in Westminster, Ian Blackford, accused Mr Johnson of "acting like a dictator".
But Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly defended the plan as what "all new governments do".
Brexit Party MEP Alex Phillips said MPs "only had themselves to blame" for the move.
She told BBC News: "They have made themselves the obstacle in front of delivering the referendum result. Boris Johnson is saying he now needs to remove that obstacle, and quite right too."
The leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, welcomed the decision to suspend Parliament and have a Queen's Speech, but said the terms of her party's confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives would now be reviewed.
"This will be an opportunity to ensure our priorities align with those of the government," she added.
Prorogation in a nutshell
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption What does proroguing Parliament mean?Parliament is normally suspended - or prorogued - for a short period before a new session begins. It is done by the Queen, on the advice of the prime minister.
Parliamentary sessions normally last a year, but the current one has been going on for more than two years - ever since the June 2017 election.
When Parliament is prorogued, no debates and votes are held - and most laws that haven't completed their passage through Parliament die a death.
This is different to "dissolving" Parliament - where all MPs give up their seats to campaign in a general election.
The last two times Parliament was suspended for a Queen's Speech that was not after a general election the closures lasted for four and 13 working days respectively.
If this prorogation happens as expected, it will see Parliament closed for 23 working days.
MPs have to approve recess dates, but they cannot block prorogation.
Do you have any questions about the proposed suspension of Parliament?
Use this form to ask your question:
If you are reading this page and can't see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question.
VIDEO - WATCH: Breitbart News Challenges Beto O'Rourke on Charlottesville 'Very Fine People' Hoax | Breitbart
Tue, 27 Aug 2019 21:50
CHARLESTON, South Carolina '-- Breitbart News asked former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), Democratic presidential hopeful, about his remark Monday evening at the College of Charleston in which he repeated the ''very fine people'' hoax about President Donald Trump's reaction to the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.During the event, part of the College of Charleston's ''Bully Pulpit'' series, O'Rourke claimed that President Trump is responsible for acts of white supremacist violence in the United States. He misquoted Trump several times, claiming, for example, that the president had referred to immigrants as an ''infestation'' and ''animals'' (he was referring to gangs, specifically the El Salvadoran gang MS-13, which rapes, murders, and mutilates its victims).
O'Rourke claimed that Trump's rhetoric was ''giving permission for exactly what took place in El Paso on August 3rd'' (i.e. the mass shooting that killed 22 people). He added: ''And lest you think this is an isolated strain of his hatred '-- this is the same man who called Klansmen, and neo-Nazis, and white supremacists 'very fine people' days after they were marching in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting: 'Jews, you will not replace us!'''
O'Rourke also said that the U.S. needed a president who would ''heal'' rather than ''inflame'' national tensions.
In a press conference afterwards, Breitbart News asked O'Rourke why he continued to misquote the president:
Breitbart News: The president, Trump, after Charlottesville, said that he condemned the white supremacists and the neo-Nazis ''totally.'' Are you aware that you are misquoting him, or partially quoting him '-- not quoting the full extent of his remarks in Charlottesville? Are you concerned that that might inflame tensions rather than heal divisions?
Beto O'Rourke: No. I believe in the truth, and in being honest about what the president was doing. And it's not just that he referred to Klansmen as ''very fine people,'' it's that he attempted to ban all people of one religion from this country. We're constantly warned of an ''invasion'' of killers, and rapists, and animals, from Central America and Mexico, though we know that they commit crimes at a far lower rate than those who are born in this country. This is a very coordinated attack on minorities in this country, on the most vulnerable and the defenseless, for political gain for the president. And he knows full well that it not only offends our sensibilities as a country, it is leading to violence and the taking of lives, as we saw in El Paso.
Breitbart News: But he said that he wasn't referring to the neo-Nazis and the Klansman '-- just a clarification '-- he said he wasn't referring to the Klansmen as ''very fine people,'' that he was referring to non-violent protesters, left and right.
Beto O'Rourke: He has openly courted the support of white supremacists and that's a matter of fact and a matter of record. He has repeatedly, though given the opportunity, refused to disavow their support. I reference '-- and you can check the tape on this one '-- at a rally in Florida in May, when someone says, ''Shoot them!'', referring to immigrants, he laughs and smiles and he joked about that. If that is not a total failure of leadership, and a total inducement to violence and hatred, I don't know what is. And you can also check a rise in hate crimes in this country, every single year that he's been a candidate, or in office, and in fact in those counties that hosted a Trump rally, you saw a more than 200% increase in hate crimes there. He is very much responsible for much of the violence, the hatred, and the racism that you see in this country.
Almost everything O'Rourke claimed was false or misleading, in addition to the false claim that he called neo-Nazis ''very fine people'':
Trump has repeatedly disavowed the support of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other extremists, and has delivered several major speeches and statements in which he specifically condemned them '-- in addition to the press conference on the Charlottesville riots.The president never enacted a ban on all Muslims; his executive orders restricting travel from several terror-prone countries (on a list originally flagged by the Obama administration) did not apply to all Muslim countries; included non-Muslim countries, in later versions; and was upheld in 2017 by the U.S. Supreme Court.The term ''animals'' referred to members of MS-13, not to ordinary migrants (legal or illegal); and the claim that illegal aliens commit few crimes is debatable only if one ignores the crime of illegal crossing itself.Trump was not endorsing the heckler's ''shoot them!'' statement. As Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review '-- an outlet that openly opposed Trump's candidacy for president '-- noted, Trump's reaction was an indication of how unacceptable the statement was: ''Trump smiles and shakes his head and says, 'That's only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.' Clearly, this is not meant as an endorsement of the statement, but a good-natured way to acknowledge its outrageousness. '... You can criticize how Trump handled the rally-goer's shout '... But the idea that this shouted interruption, in the midst of a long Trump riff about how we need to make lawful changes to address the border crisis, somehow constitutes presidential incitement to mass murder is manifestly absurd.''Reported hate crimes have risen, but O'Rourke confuses correlation with causation. Even the New York Times was cautious about the meaning of the data, since the rise could simply mean that a higher percentage of hate crimes were being reported. One thousand new agencies joined the FBI's study in the latest year of reporting. A Gallup poll on race relations dates the decline in race relations to 2014 '-- roughly the same time the ''Black Lives Matter'' movement emerged as a major political force, with President Barack Obama's backing.The claim that Trump rallies are associated with a rise in hate rimes was recently ripped apart by Robert VerBruggen, National Review's deputy managing editor, who noted that the statistic was created without accounting for the possibility that some counties had higher rates of hate crimes before Trump rallies. And again, O'Rourke confuses correlation with causation.O'Rourke also told the gathering at the College of Charleston, most of whom were students, that white supremacy was ''manifest in every part of American life.''
Breitbart News also confronted former vice president Joe Biden at the Iowa State Fair last month for misquoting Trump on Charlottesville.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
VIDEO - China's Leaders Are Divided Over Trade War With U.S. : NPR
Tue, 27 Aug 2019 18:10
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Now to how people in China view their country's trade dispute with the United States. NPR's Emily Feng has been talking to prominent Chinese academics and advisers. She found many of them are not sure the U.S. can be trusted. Here's her report from Beijing.
EMILY FENG, BYLINE: Tucked away off a highway intersection is a stately yellow mansion with a sweeping double staircase. In another era, it was the embassy for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today it houses a Ministry of Foreign Affairs think tank.
Can you introduce yourself?
RUAN ZONGZE: Well, my name is Ruan. I'm a senior fellow at China Institute of International Studies in Beijing.
FENG: I met Ruan Zongze just as trade tensions took a turn for the worse in July. President Trump had just tweeted he would impose more tariffs. China countered by dropping the value of its currency and slapping more tariffs on U.S. goods. The U.S. then raised existing tariffs. These tit for tat retaliations left trade agreements made only weeks earlier in tatters. Ruan says it has undermined trust because the U.S. keeps asking for more.
RUAN: Any time you set a bottom line, and it'll - can be very easily be broken.
FENG: And belief in China that the U.S. would uphold its side of a trade deal has plummeted.
RUAN: If we make a deal, can this deal really work or work for how long? Lot of questions.
FENG: These questions and doubts don't bode well for the 13th round of trade talks in September. The two countries were close to a deal in May - until the U.S. walked out, alleging China made sudden changes to the deal. In the months since, negotiators have been rebuilding trust in preparation for September. But with these new proposed tariffs on the table...
HE WEIWEN: It seems that the U.S. side is closing a door of talks. That's very dangerous.
FENG: He Weiwen is a trade expert and former commercial attache with the Chinese Foreign Ministry. If the U.S. plays hardball, he's of the view that China can bear the economic and political pressures of a prolonged trade war better and longer than the U.S. can.
HE: As to the - politically, I think China, of course, enjoys the vast advantages. We are highly centralized leadership, and we are unified in the country.
FENG: Others disagree, though. China's economy is growing at the slowest rate in three decades. And the fear is American tariffs are worsening the slowdown. Jin Canrong is with the Renmin University School of International Studies and one of China's most prominent foreign policy commentators.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JIN CANRONG: (Through interpreter) China is afraid of its supply chains being broken. It's not a big deal if lower-end supply chains leave China. But if medium- and high-tech supply chains leave, that will be worrying.
FENG: Jin is speaking at a Shanghai gathering in late July and captured in a video that went viral in Chinese social media. He's explaining a long trade war could force high-tech manufacturing to leave China and boldly predicts a trade deal will be reached by this November.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JIN: (Through interpreter) The U.S. is strong, and China is still weak. So we care more about stable relations.
FENG: But a growing school of thought now says China shouldn't even pursue a trade deal because the U.S. will simply find other ways to undermine China. The most prominent in this camp is Dai Xu, a senior colonel and professor at one of China's top military universities. Here's Dai speaking at a big military innovation forum earlier this year.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DAI XU: (Through interpreter) The problem is that after an agreement is reached, the Americans will never give up on containing China. So this trade war is just a prelude.
FENG: Dai has popularized an approach called the protracted war. It's borrowed from Chairman Mao Zedong's writings about the civil war with Japan. The theory goes that, whether against Japan or the U.S., in a war for survival, China was outlast the enemy through guerrilla tactics and self-reliance.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DAI: (Through interpreter) Trump's strategy on China is to take our money first and then take our lives. After the trade agreement is done, the second phase of the Sino-U.S. competition will begin.
FENG: The second phase, Dai says, being an arms race towards technology dominance.
Emily Feng, NPR News, Beijing.
Copyright (C) 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio record.
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VIDEO - BITCOIN 2014 - Keynote - Dr. Patrick Byrne, Overstock CEO - YouTube
Mon, 26 Aug 2019 13:50
VIDEO - media.ccc.de - Fully Open, Fully Sovereign mobile devices
Mon, 26 Aug 2019 13:29
Paul Gardner-Stephen
Playlists:
'camp2019' videos starting here/
audio/
related eventsRemoving the barriers to making network independent mobile communications.
In this talk I will discuss our thinking and progress towards making personal mobile communications devices, i.e., things that you use like a smart-phone, but that are fully under the control of the owner. While this has been done before, we have been focusing on how to make this much easier to do, so that individuals or small teams can create their own custom devices, with whatever features, inclusions and physical form they like, without huge time or cost requirements. This makes it possible to solve security and privacy problems, and also problems like creating custom devices for people living with disability, so that they can have a device that works for them and with their abilities and needs.
I will discuss our work-in-progress in this area, the MEGAphone, which is not only a mobile phone, but also includes UHF packet radio and a modular expansion scheme, that can allow allow the incorporation of satellite and other communications. It is also backwards compatible with the Commodore 64, so can already play loads of privacy-preserving games, and has its own open-source slide presentation software that we hope to use to deliver the talk.
Private UHF and VHF radio communications is a complex space, in terms of regulation, which we have some experience in due to the Serval Project, which has informed our design of the MEGAphone. I will thus discuss issues such as using "license free" bands around the world, as well as options for using either licensed spectrum or existing legacy public spectrum allocations, such as Citizen Band (CB) radio. As the MEGAphone platform is FPGA based, it is quite possible to implement software defined radio solutions to allow flexible and low-cost access to such spectrum.
DownloadThese files contain multiple languages.This Talk was translated into multiple languages. The files availablefor download contain all languages as separate audio-tracks. Mostdesktop video players allow you to choose between them.
Please look for "audio tracks" in your desktop video player.
RelatedTags
VIDEO - media.ccc.de - Fully Open, Fully Sovereign mobile devices
Sun, 25 Aug 2019 20:58
Paul Gardner-Stephen
Playlists:
'camp2019' videos starting here/
audio/
related eventsRemoving the barriers to making network independent mobile communications.
In this talk I will discuss our thinking and progress towards making personal mobile communications devices, i.e., things that you use like a smart-phone, but that are fully under the control of the owner. While this has been done before, we have been focusing on how to make this much easier to do, so that individuals or small teams can create their own custom devices, with whatever features, inclusions and physical form they like, without huge time or cost requirements. This makes it possible to solve security and privacy problems, and also problems like creating custom devices for people living with disability, so that they can have a device that works for them and with their abilities and needs.
I will discuss our work-in-progress in this area, the MEGAphone, which is not only a mobile phone, but also includes UHF packet radio and a modular expansion scheme, that can allow allow the incorporation of satellite and other communications. It is also backwards compatible with the Commodore 64, so can already play loads of privacy-preserving games, and has its own open-source slide presentation software that we hope to use to deliver the talk.
Private UHF and VHF radio communications is a complex space, in terms of regulation, which we have some experience in due to the Serval Project, which has informed our design of the MEGAphone. I will thus discuss issues such as using "license free" bands around the world, as well as options for using either licensed spectrum or existing legacy public spectrum allocations, such as Citizen Band (CB) radio. As the MEGAphone platform is FPGA based, it is quite possible to implement software defined radio solutions to allow flexible and low-cost access to such spectrum.
DownloadThese files contain multiple languages.This Talk was translated into multiple languages. The files availablefor download contain all languages as separate audio-tracks. Mostdesktop video players allow you to choose between them.
Please look for "audio tracks" in your desktop video player.
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  • 0:02
    Adam curry this is no agenda in the
  • 0:21
    morning everybody
  • 0:22
    I'm Adam curry and from northern Silicon
  • 0:24
    Valley where we're getting ready but not
  • 0:26
    for sealed indictments hurricane durian
  • 0:28
    or helicopters on Mars we're getting
  • 0:31
    ready for Greta mania I'm Josie Devore a
  • 0:38
    professional man I just that was so
  • 0:40
    slick greta mania Microsoft morning
  • 0:46
    screw Greta what happened oh man it was
  • 0:54
    a big Windows Update and I always get up
  • 0:56
    at 5:30 on show days and I did it last
  • 0:58
    night yeah you were some more tonight
  • 1:00
    usually I just like if there's gonna be
  • 1:02
    an update you know 5:30 a.m. is okay if
  • 1:05
    it takes 30 minutes 45 minutes and have
  • 1:08
    to reboot everything just to make sure
  • 1:09
    it all works and then it reset drivers
  • 1:12
    it turned my screen to dark mode I've no
  • 1:15
    idea why yeah drivers were set to the
  • 1:18
    wrong bitrate
  • 1:19
    just look I don't know why did that yeah
  • 1:23
    I had that thing turned me into dark
  • 1:24
    mode one side of the blue on him update
  • 1:26
    I can't figure out why yeah but I never
  • 1:29
    had a bunch of drivers reset maybe
  • 1:31
    because you have all kinds of weird
  • 1:33
    drivers that why would any of them yeah
  • 1:35
    I shouldn't it just leave it the way it
  • 1:37
    is maybe the updated a driver that's
  • 1:39
    possible you see them Windows 10 updates
  • 1:43
    shouldn't be updating drivers randomly
  • 1:45
    well who the hell knows that's the one
  • 1:49
    thing I did appreciate about the
  • 1:50
    Macintosh
  • 1:51
    if it was broken it was just broken for
  • 1:53
    a long time
  • 1:55
    there's no no quick little fix on
  • 1:57
    Tuesday just busted you know I just
  • 2:00
    these things anyway we're on the air
  • 2:04
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  • 2:05
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  • 2:08
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  • 2:14
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  • 2:16
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  • 2:18
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  • 2:20
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  • 2:27
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  • 2:58
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  • 3:02
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  • 3:04
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  • 3:07
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  • 3:09
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  • 3:14
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  • 3:15
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  • 3:19
    of time but one day stood out highway
  • 3:24
    that bad weather making them just one
  • 3:27
    day late two weeks to stare at the ocean
  • 3:36
    and think about the planet kelly
  • 3:39
    cobiella NBC News yeah yeah well I hand
  • 3:43
    it to her I'm impressed that's that was
  • 3:45
    no no small feat for a child I probably
  • 3:49
    would have turned it down myself
  • 3:50
    yes that's okay guys unless you're a
  • 3:52
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  • 3:59
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  • 4:01
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  • 4:07
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  • 4:10
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  • 4:17
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  • 4:19
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  • 4:22
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  • 4:25
    climate
  • 4:26
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  • 4:30
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  • 4:32
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  • 4:38
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  • 4:40
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  • 4:42
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  • 4:46
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  • 4:48
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  • 4:51
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  • 4:54
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  • 4:56
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  • 5:07
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  • 5:09
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  • 5:13
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  • 5:15
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  • 5:18
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  • 5:21
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  • 5:23
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  • 5:25
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  • 5:31
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  • 5:35
    [Music]
  • 5:38
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  • 5:44
    [Music]
  • 5:46
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  • 5:48
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  • 5:54
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  • 6:08
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  • 6:10
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  • 6:28
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  • 6:29
    yeah that is actually a good one was
  • 6:36
    [Music]