1176: Soest Piet

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 36m
September 26th, 2019
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Executive Producers: Kory Ainsworth, Sir Gator of the North Texas Swamps, Dubov Vladislav

Associate Executive Producers: Baron Doom Liberator of the Minnesota slaves, Sir Jeffro of the Rock Wall, Donald O'Malley, Sir Finch

Cover Artist: Nick The Rat


Start of Show
Greta Thunberg
IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate
Climate Hysteria Compilation
2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris Tells Crying Kid: "You're Not Going to Die"
Loose Women: 'Were You Moved by Greta Thunberg's UN Climate Summit Speech?'
BirthStrike Movement
Ukraine Whistleblower
Nancy Pelosi Announces Official Impeachment Inquiry
Trump & Ukrainian President Zelenskiy's Press Conference at UN General Assembly
Trump's Fundraising Text Messages
Vape Wars
Black Pete
Maximum Prison Sentences Raised in The Netherlands Including Hatespeech
Emmy Awards
Supreme Court Hearings on LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination on October 8th
Mattel Releases First Gender-Neutral Doll
Joe Biden's Gaffe of the Week Jingles
NPR's I'll Be Seeing You: 'The Mysterious Death Of The Hacker Who Turned In Chelsea Manning'
Amazon Echo Frames
UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson's OTG Speech at the UN General Assembly
Birthdays & Title Changes
John's Power Outage
End of Show
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25 for 45
Winred fundraising on Pelosi impeachment
Javelin missile sale to Ukraine approved by State Department - UPI.com
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 16:28
March 2 (UPI) -- The State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale to Ukraine of Javelin Missiles and Javelin Command Launch Units, the latest in a series of moves to help the country defend itself against Russian aggression.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the potential $47 million sale on Thursday, after notifying Congress of its approval. The State Department had previously discussed a plan for the sale in December, but only now formally approved it.
Offering assistance to Ukraine, as well as pushing back against other Russian moves in eastern Europe, is in line with President Donald Trump's National Security Strategy, which was released in December.
"I am so pleased to see our country provide this long-overdue assistance in Ukraine's fight to push back against growing Russian aggression," U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said in a statement.
The FGM-148 Javelin is a man-portable, shoulder-launched fire-and-forget anti-tank missile expected to help Ukraine "build its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to meet its national defense requirements," DSCA said in a press release.
If approved, the foreign military sale would provide Ukraine with 210 Javelin Missiles and 37 Command Launch Units, with two additional launcher units for spares.
The deal would also provide Ukraine with basic skill trainers from the U.S. government and contractor assistance that would provide other related services such as logistics and program support, DSCA said.
State Department officials in December signaled the United States was preparing a deal with Ukraine for anti-tank weaponry, days after Trump approved the sale of small arms and weapons to the country, including sniper rifles, ammunition and other parts and materials.
The approval to further arm Ukraine to defend itself dates to Russia's 2014 annexation of the country. While former President Barack Obama signed legislation to send weapons there in 2014, a deal never actually happened. Trump, however, approved the December sale following the unveiling of his National Security Strategy, which notes that Russia is creating "an unstable frontier in Eurasia."
"Providing lethal aid to Ukraine shows that the United States is serious about protecting the interests of our nation and our allies," Ernst said.
The missiles and launchers that will be sent to Ukraine will be provided from U.S. Army stocks and units the military already owns, DSCA said.
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin will be the primary contractors on the deal, with work set to occur in Tucson, Ariz., and Orlando, Fla.
Trump approves "US commercial sale of weapons" to Ukraine
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 16:27
Trump has decided to make the covert sale of weapons to Ukraine, covert no longer.
Once again we see POTUS Trump, like it or not, bring to light the clandestine and shadowy practices of the US government and Deep State.
In this case it's legalizing the sale of ''lethal'' weapons to the neo-nazi putsch in Ukraine'...not to say that all these years the US government has not been providing the Ukraine military with weapons and equipment of all shapes and sizes. Trump simply legitimized things.
We await to see Russia's reaction to Trump's move.
Zerohedge reports'...
After years of covert American involvement in the Ukrainian proxy and civil war which has raged since 2014 '' and which a leaked recording confirmed was precipitated by the US State Department '' President Trump has decided to come off the fence regarding his prior reluctance to formally approve arms sales to the Kiev government. Late Wednesday the Washington Post first reported the bombshell news that after months of indecision over whether or not to move forward with Obama-era legislation which initially paved the way for legalizing US arms sales to Ukraine, Trump has approved the first ever US commercial sale of weapons to the war-torn country.
According to The Washington Post, ''administration officials confirmed that the State Department this month approved a commercial license authorizing the export of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems, ammunition, and associated parts and accessories to Ukraine, a sale valued at $41.5 million. These weapons address a specific vulnerability of Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement in two eastern provinces. There has been no approval to export the heavier weapons the Ukrainian government is asking for, such as Javelin antitank missiles.''
Though WaPo's Josh Rogin characterizes the decision as intended to appease hawks while seeking to avoid broader conflict escalation based on ''limited arms sales'' (and not approving some of the heavier weaponry sought by Kiev), the move is likely to further ratchet up tensions with Russia, which is ironic for the fact that the decision comes the same week that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be handling Trump like ''an asset''. Or perhaps we will be assured this is just more 4-dimensional chess playing between Trump and Putin to prove that not Putin but the Military Industrial Complex is once again ''unexpectedly'' in charge?
Going back to nearly the start of the conflict, the US and EU have leveled increasingly harsh sanctions on Russia '' first on individuals, companies, and banks '' and then on Russian defense and energy sectors operating in relation to the Crimea. The US has long accused Russia of destabilizing the former Soviet republic along its southwest border, while Moscow credits American and European with engineering the Euromaidan coup in order to weaken Russian influence and suppress Russian-speaking minorities in Ukraine's east.
Congressional anti-Russia hawks have long sought greater long-term military engagement along Russia's European border, especially after the May 2014 referendum which saw the pro-Russian Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk declare independence from Kiev. And though Congress originally authorized weapons sales via the Ukraine Freedom Support Act signed into law in December 2014, the Obama administration never made the decision to actually follow through on the legislation.
Senator Bob Corker is one such original co-sponsor of the legislation, who told the Washington Post concerning Trump's decision to move forward, ''I'm pleased the administration approved the sale of defensive lethal arms to Ukraine.'' And he added, ''This decision was supported by Congress in legislation that became law three years ago and reflects our country's longstanding commitment to Ukraine in the face of ongoing Russian aggression.''
What's behind Trump's decision to lifting of Obama's weapons restrictions to Ukraine.
The Washington Post reports that a senior Trump administration official said that Trump personally approved the decision to allow the issuing of the license after being presented a decision memo by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. While there was never a formal ban on such weapons transfers, the decision was discussed internally as a lifting of the de facto Obama administration restrictions, the official said.
The WaPo notes that this will most likely result in an ''opening of the floodgates'' for multi-national weapons exports to Ukraine, especially as it coincides with a similar measure approved by Canada earlier this week'...
''We have crossed the Rubicon, this is lethal weapons and I predict more will be coming,'' said one senior congressional official. It's likely no mere coincidence that Canada also approved lethal defense sales to Ukraine this week, which would happen only if the Canadian government knew the United States was on board, the official said.
The Trump administration notified leading congressional committees of the sale on Dec. 13 but didn't make any public announcements, which some say reflects the sensitivity of the decision and concern about how it will be received by Trump supporters who long opposed the move, as well as by Putin.
The Washington Post notes that fighting in eastern Ukraine is ramping up after a period of relative mainstream media silence, with this latest announcement by Trump most likely thrusting the conflict in Ukraine back into the media spotlight.
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Whistleblower complaint release: Declassified version of complaint released by House Intelligence Committee ahead of DNI hearing today - CBS News
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 13:50
The House Intelligence Committee has released an unclassified version of the whistleblower complaint ahead of testimony by the director of national intelligence:
The complaint reports an "urgent concern" about President Trump's request for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as how records of the call were handled and the role of Mr. Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in the U.S. relationship with Ukraine.
White House tried to "lock down" records of callThe complaint raises concerns about White House efforts to restrict access to the records of the July 25 call. According to the complaint, "senior White House officials had intervened to 'lock down' all records of the phone call," and White House officials were "directed" to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system.
The complaint notes that Mr. Trump praised Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko in his call with Zelensky. Lutsenko made a series of allegations in March about the 2016 election, including allegations that two of his political rivals interfered in the election on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, and that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch had "blocked Ukrainian prosecutors from traveling to the United States expressly to prevent them from delivering their 'evidence' about the 2016 U.S. election."
Yovanovitch was recalled from her post at the end of April. Giuliani said in an interview in May that she was removed "because she was part of the efforts against the president." Mr. Trump insulted Yovanovitch in his call with Zelensky.
Whistle-Blower Is Said to Allege Concerns About White House Handling of Ukraine Call
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 12:11
(C) T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times A whistle-blower complaint about President Trump's dealings with the leader of Ukraine identified corroborating witnesses. WASHINGTON '-- The intelligence officer who filed a whistle-blower complaint about President Trump's interactions with the leader of Ukraine raised alarms not only about what the two men said in a phone call, but also about how the White House handled records of the conversation, according to two people briefed on the complaint.
The whistle-blower, moreover, identified multiple White House officials as witnesses to potential presidential misconduct who could corroborate the complaint, the people said '-- adding that the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, interviewed witnesses.
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Mr. Atkinson eventually concluded that there was reason to believe that the president might have illegally solicited a foreign campaign contribution '-- and that his potential misconduct created a national security risk, according to a newly disclosed Justice Department memo.
An early portrait of the intelligence officer began to take shape on Wednesday as the White House released a rough log of a July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, the latest extraordinary revelation set off by the whistle-blower's complaint.
This account is based on interviews with the two people and with lawmakers who were permitted to read the complaint late in the day, as well as on details revealed in a Justice Department memo explaining the Trump administration's legal rationale for withholding the whistle-blower's allegations from Congress before Mr. Trump relented this week. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
(C) Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times A newly released transcript of a conversation between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian leader added urgency to a House inquiry into the president's dealings with Ukraine, Representative Adam B. Schiff said. Mr. Atkinson also found reason to believe that the whistle-blower might not support the re-election of Mr. Trump and made clear that the complainant was not in a position to directly listen to the call or see the memo that reconstructed it before it was made public, according to the Justice Department memo, which referred only to a single phone call between Mr. Trump and an unnamed foreign leader.
Instead, the officer heard about the call secondhand from unidentified White House officials who expressed concern that Mr. Trump had ''abused his authority or acted unlawfully in connection with foreign diplomacy,'' the memo said. Still, Mr. Atkinson concluded after an investigation that the information in the complaint was credible.
In their first public comments, lawyers for the whistle-blower said their client hoped to remain anonymous but wanted to continue to cooperate with lawmakers conducting oversight.
Mr. Trump had brought up American aid to Ukraine with Mr. Zelensky '-- without mentioning that at the time he was blocking delivery of a large military assistance package that Congress had approved to help it fend off Russian aggression '-- and suggested that Ukraine could be doing more to help the United States, the reconstructed transcript of the call indicated.
Mr. Trump then asked the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden. Mr. Zelensky agreed to have his incoming top prosecutor do so, while asking whether the United States had information to share. A previous top prosecutor in Ukraine said in May that the Bidens did nothing wrong.
Mr. Trump also pressed Mr. Zelensky to ''do us a favor, though'': to use Attorney General William P. Barr's help in opening an investigation of a company involved in the beginnings of the F.B.I. inquiry of Russia's 2016 election interference. Both potential inquiries could benefit Mr. Trump politically.
But the two people said the whistle-blower complaint went beyond Mr. Trump's comments to Mr. Zelensky. It also dealt in part with the unusual manner in which White House officials handled internal records describing the call. The atypical proceeding heightened internal concerns about the content of the call, the two people said.
Bowing to pressure, the Trump administration permitted members of the intelligence committees and congressional leaders to read a copy of the complaint, which remains classified, late on Wednesday.
Its allegations were ''deeply disturbing'' and ''very credible,'' Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said after emerging from reviewing the complaint.
After reading it, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee told reporters that it contained far more information that reinforced their mounting concerns. They could disclose very little, but several of the lawmakers said it discussed other witnesses.
''It was very well written and certainly provides information for the committee to follow up with other witnesses and documents,'' Mr. Schiff said.
But the revelations that the whistle-blower had identified White House witnesses dovetailed with new details in the Justice Department memo, which was signed by Steven A. Engel, the head of its Office of Legal Counsel.
He argued that it was lawful for the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, to refuse to turn the whistle-blower complaint over to Congress '-- a stance that the Trump administration began to back off of as Democrats stepped up talk of potentially impeaching the president. Mr. Maguire was to testify about the complaint on Thursday.
After hearing about the July call, the intelligence officer agreed that Mr. Trump might be ''seeking to pressure that leader to take an action to help the president's 2020 re-election campaign,'' Mr. Engel wrote, and decided to tell Congress about it, using a process that protects intelligence whistle-blowers from reprisal.
That process requires complaints to go through the inspector general and intelligence director. It says if the inspector general deems a complaint to be credible and present an urgent concern, the intelligence director shall send it to Congress within seven days.
Mr. Atkinson determined that the complaint met the criteria for an ''urgent concern,'' partly because it fell within Mr. Maguire's ''operational responsibility to prevent election interference.'' But Mr. Engel disagreed, arguing that it did not center on intelligence activities that Mr. Maguire supervises.
In explaining his interpretation of the whistle-blower law, Mr. Engel also noted that Mr. Atkinson had found unspecified indications of ''an arguable political bias,'' suggesting the whistle-blower favored a rival political candidate, the memo said.
But Mr. Atkinson, a Trump appointee, nevertheless concluded that the allegations appeared to be credible and identified two layers of concern.
The first involved a possible violation of criminal law. Mr. Trump's comments to Mr. Zelensky ''could be viewed as soliciting a foreign campaign contribution in violation of the campaign-finance laws,'' Mr. Atkinson wrote, according to the Justice Department memo.
(Mr. Engel, while saying the allegations did not fit within the intelligence whistle-blower system that enables Congress to see complaints, said such a complaint could instead result in a criminal referral. Mr. Maguire and Mr. Atkinson then made referrals, an official said, but the Justice Department closed the matter without charges.)
The second concern Mr. Atkinson identified, according to the Justice Department memo, was that Mr. Trump's potential misconduct might expose him ''to serious national security and counterintelligence risks.''
Mr. Engel did not elaborate, and it was not clear whether he was suggesting that Mr. Trump would be subject to extortion if foreign officials threatened to expose his purported misconduct or he was referring to some other risk.
Both the reconstructed transcript and the Justice Department memo may be incomplete. The transcript contained a footnote that said it was not ''verbatim,'' and it contained ellipses.
And Mr. Engel's memo, dated Sept. 24, said in a footnote that it was a revision of an original from Sept. 3, and that the department had ''changed the prior version to avoid references to certain details that remain classified.''
Lawyers for the whistle-blower expressed concern in an interview on Wednesday about officials disclosing their client's identity.
''Intelligence officers, by nature, are not people who want to be publicly known,'' said Andrew P. Bakaj, the lead lawyer for the whistle-blower. ''If you are an intelligence officer through and through, you are doing this for national security.''
The comments by Mr. Bakaj '-- who is representing the officer for free along with two other lawyers, Mark Zaid and Charles McCullough III '-- were the first, however limited, to the press about the case. Coming forward to the inspector general was very risky, said John Napier Tye, the founder of Whistleblower Aid, which is raising money to defray expenses for the complainant.
''To have the president of the United States tweeting about you, casting aspersions, it is scary for anyone '-- it is very scary for anyone who works in the intelligence community,'' Mr. Tye said.
The legal team's objective, Mr. Zaid said, is to continue to try to get information about the complaint lawfully to the congressional oversight committees. Mr. Zaid and Mr. Bakaj have sought permission from Mr. Maguire to be cleared to see the full complaint and represent their client before the House Intelligence Committee.
Reporting was contributed by Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, Maggie Haberman and Mark Mazzetti.
That Biden-in-Ukraine Scandal Is ''Absolute Nonsense''
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:48
Viral rumors that Joe Biden abused his power as vice president to protect his son's business interests in Ukraine in 2016, which spread last week from the pro-Trump media ecosystem to the New York Times, are ''absolute nonsense,'' according to Ukraine's leading anti-corruption activist. That evaluation is backed by foreign correspondents in Kiev and a former official with knowledge of Biden's outreach to Ukraine after President Viktor Yanukovych was deposed in a popular uprising in 2014.
In an interview with The Intercept, Daria Kaleniuk, an American-educated lawyer who founded Ukraine's Anti-Corruption Action Center, expressed frustration that two recent front-page stories in the New York Times, on how the conspiracy theory is being used to attack Biden, failed to properly debunk the false accusation. According to Kaleniuk, and a former anti-corruption prosecutor, there is simply no truth to the rumor now spreading like wildfire across the internet.
The accusation is that Biden blackmailed Ukraine's new leaders into firing the country's chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to derail an investigation he was leading into a Ukrainian gas company that the vice president's son, Hunter, was paid to advise.
The truth, Kaleniuk said, is that Shokin was forced from office at Biden's urging because he had failed to conduct thorough investigations of corruption, and had stifled efforts to investigate embezzlement and misconduct by public officials following the 2014 uprising.
Properly debunking this particular conspiracy theory is easier said than done, though, since it is set in Ukraine, a country with byzantine political intrigue at the best of times, and these are not the best of times. The rivalries between political factions in Kiev are so intense that even the country's new anti-corruption agencies are at each other's throats.
There is no question that Biden did, during a visit to Kiev in late 2015, threaten to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees unless Shokin was dismissed. But the vice president, who was leading the Obama administration's effort to fight corruption in Ukraine, did the country a favor by hastening Shokin's departure, Kaleniuk said, since he had failed to properly investigate corrupt officials.
''Shokin was fired because he attacked the reformers within the prosecutor general's office,'' Kaleniuk said, ''reformers who tried to investigate corrupt prosecutors.''
As Andrew Kramer explained in the New York Times when Shokin was finally dismissed in 2016, Biden had acted as the point man for a coordinated international effort:
The United States and other Western nations had for months called for the ousting of Mr. Shokin, who was widely criticized for turning a blind eye to corrupt practices and for defending the interests of a venal and entrenched elite. He was one of several political figures in Kiev whom reformers and Western diplomats saw as a worrying indicator of a return to past corrupt practices, two years after a revolution that was supposed to put a stop to self-dealing by those in power.
As the problems festered, Kiev drew increasingly sharp criticism from Western diplomats and leaders. In a visit in December, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said corruption was eating Ukraine ''like a cancer.'' Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, which props up Ukraine financially, said last month that progress was so slow in fighting corruption that ''it's hard to see how the I.M.F.-supported program can continue.''
To illustrate what he called ''rot in the prosecutor's office,'' Kramer cited a notorious example, known in Ukraine as the case of the ''diamond prosecutors,'' in which ''troves of diamonds, cash and other valuables were found in the homes of two of Mr. Shokin's subordinates, suggesting that they had been taking bribes. But the case became bogged down, with no reasons given.''
Among the most prominent cases of official corruption Shokin had failed to pursue was against Yanukovych's environment and natural resources minister, Mykola Zlochevsky, who had oversight of all Ukrainian energy firms, including the largest independent gas company, Burisma, which he secretly controlled through shell companies in Cyprus. After Zlochevsky was forced from office along with Yanukovych in 2014, his gas company appointed Hunter Biden to its board.
''Shokin was fired,'' Kaleniuk observed, ''because he failed to do investigations of corruption and economic crimes of President Yanukovych and his close associates, including Zlochevsky, and basically it was the big demand within society in Ukraine, including our organization and many other organizations, to get rid of this guy.''
By getting Shokin removed, Biden in fact made it more rather than less likely that the oligarch who employed his son would be subject to prosecution for corruption.
As the former Reuters correspondent Oliver Bullough explains in his book ''Moneyland,'' just weeks before Hunter Biden joined the Burisma board in May 2014, ostensibly ''to strengthen corporate governance,'' Britain's Serious Fraud Office had frozen $23 million of Zlochevsky's assets in a money laundering investigation. (Zlochevsky and Burisma have denied all allegations of corruption.) At the time, Bullough writes, ''The White House insisted that the position was private matter for Hunter Biden unrelated to his father's job, but that is not how anyone I spoke to in Ukraine interpreted it. Hunter Biden is an undistinguished corporate lawyer with no previous Ukraine experience. Why then would a Ukrainian tycoon hire him?''
Indeed, hiring the vice president's son might have seemed to Zlochevsky like a way to protect his business from scrutiny by international investigators. But the facts show that the Obama-Biden administration strenuously opposed the decision by Ukrainian prosecutors to let Zlochevsky off the hook.
Vitaliy Kasko, a former deputy prosecutor who resigned in 2016 and accused Shokin's office of being a ''hotbed of corruption,'' told Bullough that he had tried and failed to get his colleagues in the prosecutor general's office to offer proper assistance to the British inquiry in 2014. But the British investigation was eventually stymied because Ukrainian prosecutors failed to provide a court with evidence that the $23 million '-- the proceeds from the sale of an oil storage facility Zlochevsky owned via a shell company in the British Virgin Islands '-- were related to criminal abuse of office by the former natural resources minister.
New reporting from Bloomberg News this week revealed that the 2014 case against Zlochevsky ''was assigned to Shokin, then a deputy prosecutor. But Shokin and others weren't pursuing it, according to the internal reports from the Ukrainian prosecutor's office reviewed by Bloomberg.''
In December 2014, U.S. officials threatened Ukrainian prosecutors that there would be consequences if they failed to assist the British investigation, according to the documents obtained by Bloomberg. Instead, the Ukrainian prosecutors provided a letter to Zlochevsky's lawyer stating that they knew of no evidence that the former minister had been involved in embezzlement.
The British investigation collapsed soon after that and the funds were unfrozen and quickly moved to Cyprus.
Kasko, the former deputy prosecutor, told Bloomberg News that there was no truth to the accusation that Biden or anyone in the Obama administration had tried to block the investigation of Zlochevsky. ''There was no pressure from anyone from the U.S. to close cases against Zlochevsky,'' Kasko said. ''It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.''
On her center's website, Kaleniuk has been working to debunk a series of conspiratorial stories about supposed ''Ukrainian collusion'' in the 2016 election which have recently been embraced and promoted by President Donald Trump, his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his son, Donald Trump Jr. But Kaleniuk was stunned and annoyed by a New York Times report published last week that focused on how the politics of the accusation against Biden might play. The report failed, in her view, to make it clear that the innuendo was false.
''What I'm pissed off about,'' Kaleniuk said, ''is that Shokin, who was totally corrupt, who undermined the reform of prosecution, and reformers, and who didn't want to investigate Zlochevsky, now appears in the New York Times as the hero who wanted to investigate Zlochevsky and Burisma and who suffered because Joe Biden demanded to dismiss him because of his willingness to investigate Burisma '-- which is absolute nonsense.''
Compounding her frustration, Kaleniuk said, is that she was interviewed for the Times story, but it focused more on the potential harm the anti-Biden conspiracy theory could inflict on his presidential candidacy than on making clear that Shokin was fired because of his failure to properly investigate suspected corruption, including by Zlochevsky. Kaleniuk's fear '-- that the Times report would be taken as confirmation that Biden had acted improperly '-- seemed to be realized by a viral tweet promoting the story from Ken Vogel, the Washington correspondent who wrote it, which claimed that ''The BIDENS are entangled in a Ukrainian corruption scandal.''
NEW: The BIDENS are entangled in a Ukrainian corruption scandal:@JoeBiden pushed Ukraine to fire a prosecutor seen as corrupt.BUT the prosecutor had opened a case into a company that was paying HUNTER BIDEN.The Bidens say they never discussed it. https://t.co/tblUPYPJMG
'-- Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) May 2, 2019Kaleniuk was also distressed that the Times report, and Vogel's tweet promoting it, failed to clearly debunk the false claim that the prosecutor Joe Biden got fired ''had opened a case into a company that was paying HUNTER BIDEN.'' In fact, Kasko and Kaleniuk noted, Shokin had undermined efforts to investigate the company and its owner.
After he was appointed prosecutor general in 2015, Kaleniuk said, Shokin's office did formally open another investigation into Zlochevsky, but that was done at the request of the country's parliament, not the chief prosecutor. A review of court documents by Kaleniuk suggested that the only investigative step taken by Shokin's office in that case was to transfer the files to another agency.
During Shokin's tenure, American diplomats in Kiev publicly complained about the prosecutor's failure to investigate Hunter Biden's employer, Zlochevsky, calling in evidence that the Prosecutor General's Office (known as the PGO) was in dire need of reform.
''We have learned that there have been times that the PGO not only did not support investigations into corruption, but rather undermined prosecutors working on legitimate corruption cases,'' U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said in a speech to the Odesa Financial Forum on September 24, 2015. ''For example, in the case of former Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky, the U.K. authorities had seized $23 million in illicit assets that belonged to the Ukrainian people. Officials at the PGO's office were asked by the U.K to send documents supporting the seizure. Instead they sent letters to Zlochevsky's attorneys attesting that there was no case against him. As a result the money was freed by the U.K. court and shortly thereafter the money was moved to Cyprus.''
Pyatt added that the prosecutors ''responsible for subverting the case by authorizing those letters should '-- at a minimum '-- be summarily terminated.''
Hunter Biden's presence on the board of a Ukrainian company suspected of corruption first became a political issue three months later, in December 2015, when his father visited Kiev and threatened to withhold financial aid unless the prosecutor general was fired for blocking corruption investigations. As James Risen reported in the Times that month, the vice president's spokesperson insisted that the younger Biden's business in Ukraine would have no influence over his father's determination to push for more vigorous enforcement of anti-corruption laws. (Risen is now The Intercept's senior national security correspondent.)
Although there is no evidence that Joe Biden did anything to shield Burisma from scrutiny, the fact that he failed to dissuade his son from helping to launder the reputation of a Ukrainian company widely suspected of corruption is hardly praiseworthy. The former vice president says that he simply never discussed his son's business interests in Ukraine, but maybe he should have.
The bad news, for Biden, is that the false nature of the allegation about his role in Ukraine won't stop Trump and his supporters from treating it like a major scandal, hoping to tarnish the Democrat currently leading the race to face him in the 2020 election. And since the setting for the supposed scandal is a part of the world few Americans have much knowledge of, it could be as hard to refute in the minds of voters as the attack on John Kerry's Vietnam War record launched by the Swift Boat Veterans in 2004, or the weapons-grade innuendo about Hillary Clinton's role in Benghazi generated by House Republicans.
As Dan Pfeiffer, a former communications director for President Barack Obama, explained on a recent episode of ''Pod Save America'' flooding the internet with baseless conspiracy theories can, unfortunately, be good politics. ''This is how Trump won,'' Pfeiffer said. ''Which is: feed conspiracy theories to the base and just throw so much shit around that the folks in the middle say, 'Well, it's all confusing, I don't know who's right, I don't have really any way of finding out '-- certainly the media isn't capable of telling me '-- so I'm going to default to my natural expectations which is, both sides are corrupt liars.'''
''And when the public thinks that both sides are corrupt liars,'' Pfeiffer added, ''that inures to the advantage of the corrupt liar in the race.''
Pfeiffer also criticized Vogel for laying out the conspiracy theory at length before noting that there was no evidence to support it.
I read all the way to the 19th paragraph (after a graphic that looked something on a wall in The Wire"), where you buried this nugget: "No evidence has surfaced that the former vice president intentionally tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor general's dismissal." https://t.co/ROzTLNZlxq
'-- Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) May 2, 2019A New York Times spokesperson, Ar­ Isaacman Bevacqua, defended Vogel's focus on how the conspiracy theory, and a new investigation in Ukraine, could impact the 2020 election. ''Our reporting on the current story began last fall, well before the issue surfaced again elsewhere, and became timely now for two reasons: the recent reopening of an investigation in Ukraine touching on Hunter Biden and the owner of Burisma, and the start of former Vice President Biden's presidential campaign,'' Bevacqua said in a statement. ''The role of Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House in drawing attention to the intersection of the Bidens and the situation in Ukraine was clear to us in the latter stages of reporting, and we highlighted that fact for readers in the story (and the headline). Our reporting unearthed new facts about Mr. Giuliani's contacts with the Ukrainian prosecutors and the steps he took to keep President Trump apprised '-- developments that the story explicitly noted raised questions 'about whether Mr. Trump is endorsing an effort to push a foreign government to proceed with a case that could hurt a political opponent at home.'''
In an interview with the Times last week, Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, boasted about pressing Ukraine's current prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, to open a new investigation into Burisma, the firm that Hunter Biden was a board member of from May 2014 until last month. Lutsenko had previously closed the probe of Burisma after getting the company to admit to a relatively minor underpayment of taxes. But in late March, his office filed a new notice of suspicion related to the firm, according to the Times.
On Friday, the Times published a second front-page story on the anti-Biden conspiracy theory, reporting that Giuliani ''plans to travel to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in the coming days and wants to meet with the nation's president-elect to urge him to pursue inquiries'' into the gas company that employed Hunter Biden and allegations that an independent anti-corruption bureau there ''meddled'' in the U.S. election in the summer of 2016 by releasing evidence of secret payments toPaul Manafort, Trump's campaign chair at the time.
Giuliani shrugged off the suggestion that there might be something wrong with encouraging a foreign government to investigate the American president's political rivals. ''We're not meddling in an election, we're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,'' Giuliani told the Times. ''And this isn't foreign policy,'' he added. ''I'm asking them to do an investigation that they're doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I'm going to give them reasons why they shouldn't stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.''
The fact that a Times reporter described Biden as ''entangled in a Ukrainian corruption scandal'' has been treated as confirmation by Trump's supporters and the far-right media outlets that work to boost him that the allegation is true.
https://t.co/FNVj16Hf10 via ?@nytimes?. Biden conflicts are too apparent to be ignored and should be investigated quickly and expeditiously. But the more important question is how deep and how high did the alleged Ukraine conspiracy go?
'-- Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) May 2, 2019Before it reached the Times, the frenzied speculation about Biden, and the supposed meddling in the 2016 election by anti-corruption prosecutors in Ukraine, was regularly featured on a network of far-right websites that work to boost Trump and undermine Democrats. Among the first outlets to promote the idea of the Ukrainians as the real meddlers was Sputnik, a Russian state-owned news agency. That theme, and related conspiracy theories about Ukraine and Democrats, were then featured in a series of opinion columns by John Solomon, a columnist for The Hill in Washington. Solomon's stories, based on interviews with disgruntled, far-right Ukrainian officials who had previously been featured in Sputnik, have been enthusiastically embraced by the conspiracy theorist-in-chief.
The Biden conspiracy theory has also been heavily promoted by the Epoch Times '-- which is owned by members of the Chinese Falun Gong spiritual movement and is virulently pro-Trump. As Ron Klain, Biden's former chief of staff in the White House, noted, records of political spending online show that the Epoch Times has even paid to spread the conspiracy theory more widely on Facebook.
Meanwhile in Kiev, something of a feedback loop has developed in which Ukrainian officials who have been criticized by Obama-era diplomats are now supported by Trump loyalists.
Take the case of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, who has served administrations of both parties but was appointed to this post by Obama.
Ukraine's current prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, complained in an interview with The Hill that Yovanovitch had improperly handed him a list of people he should not prosecute for corruption. The allegation sounds scandalous, until you discover that the Ukrainians the U.S. ambassador was trying to protect were anti-corruption activists who received grants for their nonprofit work from the American government and were then baselessly accused of corruption for accepting the money.
Yovanovitch recently demanded the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was wiretapped by a rival anti-corruption agency and caught on tape advising suspects in a corruption probe on how not to get caught. ''Nobody who has been recorded coaching suspects on how to avoid corruption charges can be trusted to prosecute those very same cases,'' Yovanovitch said in March. ''Those responsible for corruption should be investigated, prosecuted, and if guilty, go to jail. And in order for that to happen, all of the elements of the anti-corruption architecture must be in place and must be working effectively.''
The disgraced prosecutor Yovanovitch criticized, Nazar Kholodnytsky, was then cited as a source in articles attacking her as a deep-state plotter on far-right American websites, leading Donald Trump Jr. to call for her ouster.
This month, the Trump administration decided to suddenly recall Yovanovitch from her post.
Update: May 12, 2019, 10:00 a.m.The president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, announced in a rambling Fox News interview Friday night that he was canceling his trip to Ukraine after people close to the incoming president, Volodymyr Zelensky, told reporters in Kiev that his new administration was not interested in being used to further the anti-Biden conspiracy theory. ''This is definitely not our war,'' a source close to Zelensky told the Washington Post. ''We have to stay away from this as much as possible.''
One Zelensky supporter who spoke to reporters, Serhiy Leshchenko, is a former investigative journalist and reformist member of parliament member who helped publicize the off-the-books payments made to Paul Manafort in 2016. Leshchenko said in a statement on Saturday that Ukraine's current prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, who was appointed by the outgoing president, Petro Poroshenko, was feeding pro-Trump conspiracy theories to Giuliani and The Hill about Biden as part of an effort to get White House support for his campaign to keep his job in the new government.
''Lutsenko is trying to manipulate the Biden/Burisma narrative so that Americans will help him cling to power because he is a disgrace and has nowhere else to go after his boss Poroshenko lost the election,'' Leshchenko wrote on Twitter. ''That's why Lutsenko now claims he has evidence of wrongdoing that implicates Biden, but if this is true, why has he sat on it for YEARS? Why didn't he do anything about it after he was appointed as Prosecutor General? And why couldn't he give this information to his successor?''
''What really happened in the Burisma case,'' the lawmaker added, ''was that Lutsenko himself stopped the investigation! And not long after that the corrupt Yanukovych crony Zlochevsky went into business with Poroshenko and his corrupt cronies.''
Andrew Kramer, the Moscow-based Times foreign correspondent who first revealed the secret payments to Manafort in Ukraine that forced him to resign from the Trump campaign in 2016, pointed out on Twitter that Giuliani, in his Fox News interview, also incorrectly identified Serhiy Leshchenko as the source who made that information public. The secret payments were first published online by the independent National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine.
Giuliani, in an interview with Fox, falsely suggested that Leshchenko, a member of Ukraine's Parliament, was the source of so-called Black Ledger accounts showing Paul Manafort's payments in Ukraine. A law enforcement agency published the information https://t.co/fwjeSXfw7I
'-- Andrew E. Kramer (@AndrewKramerNYT) May 11, 2019In the same interview, Giuliani also falsely claimed that those records of illicit payments to Manafort had been ''found to be fraudulent.'' In fact, others in Ukraine who are also named in the ledger, detailing payments made by Yanukovych's political party, have confirmed that the records are accurate.
Debunking lies about Trump, Biden, Ukraine, and the whistleblower | Media Matters for America
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:45
A whistleblower complaint filed August 12 reportedly alleges that President Donald Trump tried to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Now, Trump and his allies are trying to muddy the waters and turn a conspiracy theory involving Joe Biden and Ukraine into an allegation of corruption against Biden.
The Biden-Ukraine connection began as an internet conspiracy theory that burst into the mainstream last week. On September 18, The Washington Post reported that a whistleblower complaint filed August 12 involved Trump's communications with a foreign leader. Trump's interaction included a ''promise'' that was ''regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community.'' Speculation and additional reporting suggested that the complaint involved Trump requesting that Ukraine open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden's role in potentially halting an investigation into a Ukrainian energy company whose board members included his son, Hunter Biden. On September 19, Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time and denied, then admitted, then denied again that he had asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Additional reporting from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times appeared to confirm the whistleblower complaint, providing new additional details. The Post and the Times then both confirmed that Giuliani had met with an aide days after Trump's call to spell out more specifics
Trump and his allies are relying on the complexity of the story to muddy the waters, pushing out a slew of myths in a rush to provide cover for Trump as details surrounding the story continue to emerge. Trump's allies in right-wing media are frantically trying to reframe the story to be about Biden's supposed corruption in Ukraine, push false or misleading information about the Ukrainian prosecutor at the center of the story, discredit the whistleblower as a ''deep state'' snitch seeking to undermine Trump, insist that Trump was just engaging in run-of-the-mill foreign policy discussions, and assert that the Trump administration doesn't have a responsibility to turn the complaint over the Congress.
Here are six myths and facts surrounding Trump, Biden, Ukraine, and the whistleblower complaint:
Myth: The real story is alleged Biden corruption in UkraineRight-wing media have rushed to try to make the story not about Trump attempting to force a foreign country to investigate a political opponent, but about Biden's connections in Ukraine. Trump and Giuliani allege that then-Vice President Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor -- Viktor Shokin -- overseeing a corruption investigation of one of Ukraine's biggest gas companies, Burisma Group. Biden's son, Hunter, was serving on the company's board at the time.
Over the weekend, Fox & Friends Saturday guest Peter Schweizer called for the Department of Justice to investigate Biden, and Fox host Sean Hannity declared that he is ''happy at the news'' because of the opportunity to expose Biden. Conservative talk radio host Sebastian Gorka tweeted that Trump ''did it again'' and ''now everyone's talking about @JoeBiden's corruption.'' On Friday's edition of The Ingraham Angle, Laura Ingraham brought Schweizer and Fox contributor Gregg Jarrett on to discuss what Schweizer called the ''underlying story'' of Biden's corruption that Jarrett said ''nobody in the media seems to be talking about.'' Jarrett added that the whistleblower is really ''an American spy spying on the president.''
Fact: There is no evidence of any wrongdoing on Biden's partThe Biden-Ukraine ''connection'' is a conspiracy theory that has been circulating among right-wing media for months. In reality, the push to get Shokin fired was a part of a Ukrainian anti-corruption effort by advocates and international supporters of Ukraine. It was well-established that the United States' position was that ousting Shokin was a critical aspect of anti-corruption measures. At the time of his removal, The New York Times reported that the ''United States and other Western nations had for months called for the ousting of Mr. Shokin'' for ''turning a blind eye to corrupt practices and for defending the interests of a venal and entrenched elite.''
In May, Daria Kaleniuk, a lawyer who founded Ukraine's Anti-Corruption Action Center, expressed frustration at how the false accusation was being portrayed by some. The Intercept reported that Kaleniuk felt that ''there is simply no truth to the rumor now spreading like wildfire across the internet'' and that the reality ''is that Shokin was forced from office at Biden's urging because he had failed to conduct thorough investigations of corruption, and had stifled efforts to investigate embezzlement and misconduct by public officials following the 2014 uprising.''
Reporter Daniel Dale also fact-checked the matter for CNN:
Myth: There was nothing untoward about Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor ShokinConservative media often focus on Shokin's title without noting his widespread reputation for corruption. Giuliani claimed that Hunter Biden and the Burisma company ''were being investigated by that prosecutor'' -- referring to Shokin -- and that Biden forced the president of Ukraine ''to dismiss Prosecutor Shokin who was investigating son and son's company.''
The Wall Street Journal editorial page also repeats the claim: ''The prosecutor was investigating, among other things, a Ukrainian natural gas company that hired Hunter Biden, Joe's son, as a director and also retained Hunter's law firm.''
Frequently conservative media, such as this opinion piece from John Solomon, do not note Shokin's actual reputation, only calling him a Ukrainian prosecutor.
Fact: The Obama administration, along with the international community and Ukrainian activists, pushed to remove Shokin because of his own corruptionThe Obama administration sent Biden to condemn Shokin's tenure as prosecutor general because of his widespread reputation for corruption.
Shokin's tenure as prosecutor general was marked by keeping in place holdovers from the corrupt regime of former President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of now-President Vladimir Putin. At the time, Shokin was also close to then-president Petro Poroshenko, contributing to Ukraine's global reputation for corruption.
The International Monetary Fund cited Shokin's continued term in office as among the reasons that a $40 billion aid package could be withheld.
Shokin had also become a target of popular protests in Ukraine, demanding that he be fired for such acts as launching an investigation against a Ukrainian anti-corruption watchdog group, as well as his having fired anti-corruption prosecutors.
In fact, as a Wall Street Journal news report explained, this corruption also included reported inaction by Shokin in the case of the natural gas businessman at the center of this story, Mykola Zlochevsky, and the Burisma Holdings firm. Shokin actually undermined a much vaunted attempt by British authorities to freeze $23.5 million worth of Zlochevsky's assets.
Moreover, former deputy prosecutor general Vitaliy Kasko told Bloomberg this past May that the Burisma case in Shokin's office had been long dormant: ''It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.'' And while Kenneth Vogel and The New York Times said in May that Shokin had Hunter Biden's employer ''in [his] sights,'' Vogel reported on September 22 that Shokin was ''not aggressively pursuing investigations into Mr. Zlochevsky or Burisma.''
Shokin's eventual firing was publicly hailed by European leaders. When he was fired, The New York Times described him as ''one of several political figures in Kiev whom reformers and Western diplomats saw as a worrying indicator of a return to past corrupt practices, two years after a revolution that was supposed to put a stop to self-dealing by those in power.''
Fittingly, one of his last acts out the door was to fire a deputy prosecutor who had been attempting to pursue corruption cases.
The bottom line: Given the widespread calls for Shokin's dismissal, there is no disputing that Obama administration efforts were driven by good faith efforts to reduce corruption in the office.
Myth: Shokin was investigating Burisma, the firm that Hunter Biden worked withThe claim that Shokin was investigating Burisma and Biden was at the heart of a May story in The New York Times by Ken Vogel. Right-wing media have frequently parroted the claim as well. On May 9, Fox News contributor Dan Bongino even suggested that frequent Fox guest John Solomon receive a Pulitzer for saying so.
Fact: Shokin was not actively investigating BurismaAs a Wall Street Journal news report explained, Shokin ''dragged his feet'' in the case of the natural gas businessman at the center of this story, Mykola Zlochevsky, and his Burisma Holdings. Shokin undermined a vaunted attempt by British authorities to freeze $23 million worth of Zlochevsky's assets.
Moreover, former deputy prosecutor general Vitaliy Kasko told Bloomberg this past May that the Burisma case in Shokin's office had been long dormant: ''It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.'' And while Ken Vogel and the New York Times said in May that the investigation by Shokin had Hunter Biden's employer ''in his sights,'' Vogel reported on September 22 that Shokin was ''not aggressively pursuing investigations into Zlochevsky or Burisma.'' In fact, Vogel reported that the Obama administration made efforts to support Ukrainian and British investigations into Burisma and Zlochevsky; he also reported in the piece that Zlochevsky believed that Shokin was using the threat of an investigation to solicit a bribe.
Myth: The whistleblower is a partisan ''deep state'' snitch who committed a crime by undermining TrumpTrump's allies in the media have been quick to try to discredit the anonymous whistleblower. On Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera called the whistleblower a ''deep state'' punk who's ''snitching out the president's phone calls to a foreign leader.'' Fox host Jesse Watters called the whistleblower a ''snake'' and said that the complaint amounted to a ''coup.'' Justice with Judge Jeanine guest Tom Fitton claimed the whistleblower complaint was the ''next phase of the coup'' and called for an investigation into Biden. Hannity suggested that the whistleblower committed a ''crime'' and spied on the president.
Fox News contributor Dan Bongino appeared on Fox & Friends to claim that the complaint is part two of the ''collusion hoax,'' referring to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. He added that ''I can't believe they're falling for this again.'' Hannity insisted that ''somebody probably has a political agenda,'' and Fox Business host Lou Dobbs mused that the complaint is likely ''pure nonsense, bunkum.''
Fact: The identity of the whistleblower is still unknown, and the inspector general agreed that the complaint was credible and lawful under current protocols set for whistleblowing to expose unlawful activityThe identity of the whistleblower is still unknown, making assertions that they're a partisan deep state snitch ring hollow. Additionally, the whistleblower correctly followed protocol established by the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998. Under this statute, a whistleblower is protected from retaliation so long as they follow protocol when filing a complaint. The complaint was given to Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who then makes the decision whether it is credible. Atkinson determined that the complaint was credible and urgent, prompting him to forward the complaint to Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire. In an unprecedented move, Maguire failed to forward the complaint to the intelligence committees within seven days, as required by the statute, and has also refused to comply with subpoenas issued by the House intelligence committee.
Myth: Trump was just engaging in foreign policy and making a deal in his unconventional styleTrump's allies have also begun to try and normalize Trump and Giuliani's actions if the complaint turns out to be true, insisting that this is just Trump's way of interacting with foreign leaders. Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt asserted that ''the president's known for this, The Art of the Deal,'' referring to Trump's memoir touting his negotiation skills. Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh insisted that ''the president can say what he wants to anybody'' and ''the real question here is what the hell is the intelligence community '... continuing to do to try to get rid of Donald Trump?'' Hannity claimed that Trump is ''pursuing truth,'' while McCarthy wrote that ''the president has the power to conduct foreign policy as he sees fit.''
Fact: Reports on Trump's phone call point to a clear abuse of powerIt is difficult to determine whether the complaint alleges any criminal misconduct at this stage, but many experts agree that using foreign policy and threatening to withhold Ukrainian aid to launch an investigation into a political opponent is a flagrant abuse of power. Supreme Court lawyer and law professor Neal Katyal claimed that the attempts by the Trump administration to conceal the complaint mean that there are ''probably tapes and transcripts documenting a gross abuse of power.'' Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Noah Bookbinder tweeted that ''if the president in fact pressured a foreign leader to investigate a political rival, that is a stunning abuse of power.'' Tom Nichols, a right-wing professor specializing in international affairs, wrote that if the complaint is accurate, Trump ''should be impeached and removed from office immediately.''
Myth: The Trump administration can decide to not hand over the whistleblower complaint to CongressSteve Doocy claimed on Fox & Friends that the Trump administration does not have to hand over the whistleblower report to Congress because the person did not hear it firsthand, calling it akin to a ''rumor.'' Fox News figures had also complained that this was just a mere policy disagreement. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNN's State of the Union that handing it over would set a ''terrible precedent.''
Fact: The law requires the executive branch to turn the report over to CongressThe law is perfectly clear. Once the intelligence community inspector general determines that the complaint is of ''urgent concern'' to the American people, as Michael Atkinson did in this case, then the report must be disclosed to Congress. The Justice Department has concluded that the matter involved did not meet the standards of the law, but Atkinson has stated his disagreement with this conclusion, writing that ''the Complainant's disclosure not only falls within the [director of national intelligence's] jurisdiction, but relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI's responsibilities to the American people.''
The idea that the whistleblower complaint is merely a ''policy'' disagreement ignores the definition laid out in the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of what is covered in its purview: genuine abuses of power and various other violations deemed worthy of ''urgent concern.'' The inspector general would not have referred the whistleblower complaint Congress if he did not deem the allegation credible and concerning; brushing it off as a mere ''policy'' difference is an attempt to undermine Congress' need to see the complaint.
Trump's Ukrainian 'Favor' Is What Impeachment Is For - The Atlantic
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:34
The authors of the Constitution foresaw the possibility of a corrupt president who would abuse his official powers to stay in office.
6:00 AM ET Staff writer at The Atlantic
U.S. President Trump meets with Ukraine's President Zelensky in New York City. Jonathan Ernst / ReutersThe Democrats grew a spine.
The detention camps weren't enough. The policy of deliberate child torture was insufficient. The neglect of Americans displaced by natural disasters didn't pass muster. The hush money shelled out to the president's former mistresses in violation of federal law was too small a crime. The president using his office to enrich himself wasn't sufficient. Deflecting blame from a foreign government's effort to elect the president while seeking financial gain from that government, and then attempting to obstruct the investigation, was deemed too complicated to pursue.
But when the president attempted to use his authority to extort a foreign leader into implicating one of his political rivals, a former vice president and longtime Democratic senator, in criminal activity, the leadership of the Democratic Party seemed to suddenly recognize what it was facing. Millions of Americans wake up every day worried that Donald Trump's actions will hurt someone they love, but until he used his authority to go after someone beloved by the Democratic establishment, party leaders didn't quite grasp the urgency. If Trump could do this to Joe Biden, after all, he could do it to any of them. That's often how it works in a democracy: People do the right thing for self-interested reasons.
In fairness to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the events that moved her to support impeachment after months of dismissing the left wing of her caucus are exactly what the Framers had in mind when they crafted the impeachment clause, which was to prevent a corrupt chief executive from using his official powers to keep himself in office. That precisely describes Trump's use of his official powers to strong-arm a foreign government into implicating his political rivals. The Framers forced the chief executive to face election every four years in order to prevent the president from becoming a king, but they recognized that a corrupt president might use his powers to keep himself in office in perpetuity, and that impeachment was needed as a last resort. Yet Trump is only the most vulgar expression of the anti-democratic streak spreading in the Republican Party, and the forces that propelled his candidacy are the same ones that may shield him from accountability.
In July, President Trump ordered his chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to withhold $400 million in aid that Congress had designated for Ukraine. Last month, the inspector general of the intelligence community told the chair and ranking members of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Adam Schiff and Republican Devin Nunes, that someone had filed an ''urgent'' and ''credible'' whistle-blower complaint. The day after Schiff formally requested the complaint, the Trump administration released the hundreds of millions of dollars it had been withholding.
Media outlets, which had been reporting on efforts by Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden, who was on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, revealed that the complaint was related to that effort. Days after withholding aid to Ukraine, according to a White House summary of the call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump demanded that Ukraine investigate the Bidens. Zelensky brought up an impending sale of American javelin missiles to Ukraine, to which Trump replied, ''I would like you to do us a favor, though.''
Apparently under the belief that Ukraine is somehow in possession of the Democratic National Committee's servers that were hacked in a Russian effort to swing the 2016 election in Trump's favor, Trump asked Zelensky to ''get to the bottom of it,'' because of his belief that the Russia investigation ''started with Ukraine.'' Trump then repeatedly pressed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, and to speak to Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr about them, suggesting that if Ukraine will not prosecute Trump's political rivals, that it provide the U.S. Justice Department with a pretext for doing so.
Trump himself helpfully summarized the point of the call a few days ago, although he insisted that he had not tied aid to going after the Bidens. ''The conversation I had was largely congratulatory. It was largely corruption'--all of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don't want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to [sic] the corruption already in the Ukraine.'' As Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress, like any organized crime boss, the president understands how to communicate his demands implicitly. Even so, the summary of the call makes clear Trump's message that if Zelensky wants the promised military aid, he must accede to Trump's requests.
All of this not only amounts to an act of extortion by the president, it turns hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into the payoff for a bribe designed to compel a foreign power to criminalize a political rival.
Democrats should now realize that it does not matter who they run against Trump. He will seek to discredit any opponent not through campaigning, but through the corrupt abuse of his official powers. The fact that Justice Department prosecutors saw no ''thing of value'' being exchanged with Ukraine that could provide a predicate for criminal prosecution, that it helped suppress the whistleblower report, and that Barr '--at least in the president's mind'--would be a party to a corrupt scheme to damage a political opponent, suggests that federal law enforcement will not stand in the way when the time comes.
As Jeffrey Engel writes in Impeachment: An American History, the authors of the Constitution foresaw the possibility of a corrupt president who abuses his power to stay in office. James Madison argued at the constitutional convention that it was ''indispensable that some provision should be made for defending the community against the incapacity, negligence, or perfidy of the chief magistrate.'' George Mason asked, ''Shall the man who has practised corruption and by that means procured his appointment in the first instance, be suffered to escape punishment, by repeating his guilt?'' And as Gouverneur Morris concisely put it, ''This Magistrate is not the King but the Prime Minister. The people are the King.''
This is one reason why perceptions among Democrats shifted so fast. In a republic, the people are sovereign. The president used his authority to criminalize or suppress his political rivals, in violation of the people's right to choose their leadership. His acts exemplify the scenario the Framers feared when they contemplated a corrupt president using executive power to keep himself in office, unaccountable to the people who elected him. Trump's conduct here is not just impeachable; it is why the impeachment clause exists.
What the Framers may not have contemplated, however, is the extent to which a demagogue is capable of convincing his supporters that the president and the people are one and the same, and therefore, the president is incapable of betraying the people, because he is their purest expression made flesh. Trump is but a crass distillation of this anti-democratic idea, but if it were not deeply rooted in the Republican Party, he could never have ascended to its leadership.
Already, Republicans have sought to dismiss Trump's explicit attempt to extort a foreign leader into criminalizing a political rival by denying that the summary of the call shows what it shows. Republican legislators believe there is nothing the president could do to lose the support of the people who put them in office, and so there is no political benefit to acknowledging his misconduct, even though they would immediately demand the impeachment or resignation of any Democratic president who did the same thing. In the 1990s, Republicans impeached Bill Clinton over his false denials of sexual impropriety; they would not hesitate to impeach a Democratic president who withheld foreign aid to extract a smear of his Republican rivals.
But behind this unfailing submission to Trump also lie more troubling influences. As the parties have become more racially polarized, and the Republican Party has become more exclusively white and Christian, Republicans have begun to think of themselves as the only genuinely legitimate actors in the polity. This is why Republicans draw districts that hand them more offices even when they fail to win a majority of the votes; it is why Republican legislatures strip Democratic executives of their powers when the electorate foils their efforts to rig elections in their favor; it is why the Trump administration attempted a fraudulent scheme to use the Census to diminish the influence of minority voters relative to white voters; it is why Republicans seek to pass laws intended to suppress minority votes; it is why every night on Fox News, viewers hear one host after another outline deranged conspiracies about how Democrats want to to steal America from its rightful white owners through demographic change.
Attempts to strip minorities of their rightful place in the polity are a bipartisan American tradition. They emerge whenever one party becomes beholden to an ethnically diverse constituency, and the other answers almost exclusively to white Christians. The contest between the universalist principles espoused by the Founders, and their sectarian application in practice, has been the principal conflict of American democracy since the beginning.
The peaceful transition of power is fundamental to democracy, but many Republicans have concluded that it is not possible for that to occur legitimately. Without such transitions, democracy is a dead letter. But if your political enemies are inherently illegitimate, then depriving them of power by any means necessary is not effacing democracy; it is defending it. The Southern Democrats who stripped black Americans of the franchise at the end of Reconstruction using a battery of literacy tests, property requirements, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses did not see themselves as crippling democracy but strengthening it, by limiting the ballot to those who were worthy of participating.
The Republican belief that their opposition is inherently illegitimate is one reason why it does not matter to many Republicans that Trump's allegations that Biden sought to get a Ukrainian prosecutor fired to prevent his son from being investigated are baseless. As CNN's Daniel Dale has documented, there is no public evidence that Hunter Biden was ever himself under investigation; the prosecutor whose firing Biden called for as vice president was widely considered corrupt; the investigation Biden supposedly shut down was ''dormant'' at the time Biden expressed the view of the Obama administration the prosecutor should be fired; and the reason world leaders, including Obama, were demanding his firing in the first place was that he was failing to investigate corruption in Ukraine, not that he was being prevented from doing so. As my colleague David Graham writes, ''Biden's pressure to install a tougher prosecutor probably made it more likely, not less, that Burisma would be in the cross hairs.''
Attempting to use one's official powers for private gain is the most basic definition of corruption. Yet because the base of the Republican Party believes itself to be the only legitimate expression of popular will, whether or not its members comprise an actual majority of the electorate, it does not matter what Trump's motives are. Much of the Republican base believes, as Trump does, that loyalty to the country and loyalty to himself are one and the same. Therefore, nothing Trump could do is corrupt, and even using his official powers for personal gain is an act of selfless patriotism. In this warped view, attempting to extort foreign countries into attacking his political rivals is not a betrayal of his responsibilities as president, it is the fullest expression of them.
Unless Republican support for Trump craters, Republican legislators will not turn against him. And Republican support for Trump cannot crater as long as many Republicans view their political rivals as illegitimate political actors rather than fellow citizens.
This is daunting, but it makes the Democratic leadership's decision to commit to an impeachment inquiry all the more vital. Democrats may not prevail in removing Trump through impeachment, or by the ballot. But democracy cannot function as a single-party institution, in which the authority of the state is a mere instrument for one faction to maintain power in perpetuity. Legislators have a moral obligation, outlined by the Framers themselves, to protect American democracy from such an assault. They may fail, but failing to try would be an unforgivable disgrace.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.
Adam Serwer is a staff writer at
The Atlantic, where he covers politics.
'No surprises': Republican who has seen whistleblower's complaint says it's not damning | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:13
The whistleblower complaint that concerned President Trump's phone call in July with Ukraine's president has been declassified and is likely to be released later on Thursday.
Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart revealed the decision had been made on Fox News claiming it does not contain any damning information.
'I encourage you all to read it,' Stewart tweeted. The complaint has not yet been made available to the public.
'It's been declassified and it's been released,' Stewart said. 'It should be available for everyone to go and look at, and I encourage everyone to go and look at it.
'This is going to go nowhere. ... there are just no surprises there,' he said.
Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart appeared on the Ingraham Angle and and said that the intelligence whistleblower's complaint is not as damaging as he first feared
He told Fox News' 'The Ingraham Angle' that he was initially anxious before viewing the complaint, but was 'much more confident than I was this morning that this is going to go nowhere ... there are just no surprises there'
After viewing the complaint, Chris Stewart then took to Twitter to reveal that it had been declassified
The complaint was not immediately available to the public, but was expected to be released Thursday morning.
He told Fox News' 'The Ingraham Angle' that he was initially anxious before viewing the complaint, but was 'much more confident than I was this morning that this is going to go nowhere ... there are just no surprises there.'
'The entirety of it is focused on this one thing, and that's the transcript of one phone call, the transcript that was released this morning,' he added.
The complaint accuses Trump of trying to coerce the Ukraine into investigating rival Biden during a July phone call has been declassified and could be released as early as Thursday.
Democrats who have reviewed the secret whistleblower complaint have called it 'deeply disturbing' and said it gives them new leads to pursue as they consider impeachment.
The complaint is from an intelligence committee whistleblower and was made available to members of House and Senate intelligence committees Wednesday.
The complaint is at least in part related to a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump prodded Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden. The White House released a rough transcript of that call on Wednesday morning.
House Democrats emerging from a secure room would not divulge details of the complaint, but described it as disturbing and urgent.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied Wednesday that Donald Trump pressured him into investigating Joe Biden
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said it 'exposed serious wrongdoing' and 'certainly provides information for the committee to follow up with others.'
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said it 'exposed serious wrongdoing' and 'certainly provides information for the committee to follow up with others.'
California Rep. Eric Swalwell told CNN that the whistleblower 'laid out a lot of other documents and witnesses who were subjects in this matter.'
The complaint showed the whistleblower learned details of the call from White House officials, according to one person familiar with the complaint who was granted anonymity to discuss it.
Another such person said the lawmakers did not learn the identity of the whistleblower.
A Democratic member of the panel, Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, said the whistleblower 'lays out the situation very logically' and 'is both acknowledging the things that he or she knows and doesn't know, which is a hallmark of a credible document.'
Lawmakers and aides in D.C. spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide insight to the days leading up to Nancy Pelosi's announcement
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - who on Tuesday fully endorsed an impeachment investigation in light of the Ukraine revelations - and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer also viewed the complaint. Schumer said he is even 'more worried' now than he was before reading it and 'there are huge numbers of facts crying out for investigation.'
Most Republicans were quiet or defended the president as they left the secure rooms. But at least one Republican said he was concerned by what he had read.
'Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there's no 'there there' when there's obviously a lot that's very troubling there,' said Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, a GOP member of the Senate intelligence panel who has been an occasional critic of Trump. He added that 'Democrats ought not be using words like 'impeach' before they knew anything about the actual substance.'
Trump, whose administration had earlier balked at turning over the complaint, said Wednesday afternoon that 'I fully support transparency on the so-called whistleblower information' and that he had communicated that position to House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
The rough transcript released by the White House on Wednesday showed that Trump prodded Zelenskiy to work with the U.S. attorney general and Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden.
Lawmakers said they needed to see the complaint, not just the memo about the call, as they investigate the president and whether his actions were inappropriate. Pelosi on Tuesday said that if Trump abused his presidential powers, it would mark a 'betrayal of his oath of office.'
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a GOP member of the House panel, tweeted that 'it should be immediately declassified and made public for the American people to read.'
New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a member of Democratic leadership, agreed, saying he expects it will be made public 'sooner rather than later.'
The House and Senate committees have also invited the whistleblower to testify, but it is uncertain whether the person will appear and whether his or her identity could be adequately protected without Maguire's blessing. Schiff said Wednesday morning that Maguire still had not provided any instructions on how that could happen.
The unidentified whistleblower submitted a complaint to Michael Atkinson, the U.S. government's intelligence inspector general, in August.
Maguire then blocked release of the complaint to Congress, citing issues of presidential privilege and saying the complaint did not deal with an 'urgent concern.' Atkinson disagreed, but said his hands were tied.
Maguire is testifying publicly before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday and privately before the Senate panel. Atkinson, who met privately with House lawmakers last week, will also talk privately to the Senate committee Thursday.
Democratic all-stars line up to back Trump impeachment - POLITICO
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 13:49
Former Vice President Al Gore is one of the most prominent Democrats now urging a formal launch to President Donald Trump's impeachment. | Scott Heins/Getty Images)
White House
Alumni of the Obama and Clinton worlds are joining the pro-impeachment caucus after years of reticence.
House Democrats demanding President Donald Trump's impeachment picked up new support in recent days from people who know a thing or two about Congress investigating the White House: alumni of the Clinton and Obama administrations.
The bold-faced Democratic names untethering their voices now in urging a formal launch to Trump's impeachment '-- Al Gore, James Carville and Chris Lu among them '-- had previously stayed quiet for many reasons. They thought 2020 was the better solution to oust the president. They didn't want to make it worse for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime liberal firebrand now tasked with steering a caucus featuring diverse opinions on the topic. They know how an ill-led attempt to get rid of the president could come back to bite their party's own 2020 prospects.
Story Continued Below
Then came last week's explosive allegation that Trump attempted to pressure Ukrainian officials to sway the next election, and with it an avalanche of fresh public statements that it's time for Trump to face the full force of the Constitution.
''It makes breaking into the Watergate seem kind of like kid's play,'' Neera Tanden, the longtime Hillary Clinton aide who also served in the Obama administration, told POLITICO when asked about her public shift last week from simply backing the House's impeachment inquiry into a full-blown member of the pro-impeachment crowd.
''We're a people who are perpetually outraged about things, but this sort of took it to a whole new level,'' explained Lu, a former top Obama White House aide and deputy Labor secretary.
Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Neera Tanden told POLITICO, ''It makes breaking into the Watergate seem kind of like kid's play." | Larry French/Getty Images for MoveOn
Obama aides often celebrate how, over eight years, they avoided the kinds of administration-crippling scandals that plagued their Clinton predecessors, though they didn't survive unscathed either: Fast and Furious, Solyndra and Benghazi became household terms thanks to GOP-led oversight efforts.
In an interview, Lu said that he spent Friday stewing over whether the institutional forces of congressional oversight and the next election were enough to properly check Trump '-- before deciding over dinner with his wife that the answer was no. ''This isn't about politics but doing what's right,'' he finally wrote on social media.
Other ex-Democratic luminaries described coming to similar realizations.
''When the facts changed, I changed my mind,'' said Carville, the ex-Clinton senior strategist who played a lead role as an attack dog defending the Democratic president against a GOP-led 1998-99 impeachment effort.
Carville said he'd been of the view, before last week, that special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia findings were ''horrific'' but still best dealt with in 2020. Now, he's suggesting Democrats speed a single article of impeachment through the House describing how Trump contacted a foreign government to urge it to find dirt on a political opponent, a move that would then put the ball in the court of several vulnerable 2020 Senate Republicans.
''Let's see Sens. [Susan] Collins, [Martha] McSally, [Thom] Tillis, [Cory] Gardner, [Joni] Ernst and [Mitch] McConnell all stew on it,'' Carville said.
This new wave of Obama and Clinton alumni backing impeachment recognize they have no vote on the matter. Still, party leaders and Democratic lawmakers in the thick of the investigation say their newly found positions carry weight, considering their past work in the trenches of White House politics and policy '-- and because a raft of newly elected lawmakers may not be so familiar with the nuances of Watergate or the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
''Having influential people raise their voices reinforces that every factor is pointing toward taking stronger action,'' said Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Gore and Vice President Joe Biden who argues that the latest developments involving Trump and the Ukraine ''add more urgency'' to the need to impeach the president.
From a practical vote-getting standpoint, there's another benefit to having so many of these former administration officials weigh in. Many used to work with people who are now serving themselves in Congress.
''If we hesitate to impeach a president for this, we might as well pass an amendment removing the impeachment clause from the Constitution, and become a popular, not constitutional, republic,'' freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski, who worked as a top State Department official during the Obama administration, wrote last Friday in a series of tweets taking issue with Trump's Ukraine behavior. The New Jersey Democrat, whose swing district includes the president's country club at Bedminster, added that if the Ukraine allegations were proven true ''there is only one remedy.''
Another former Democratic official, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, made an ever-so-slight shift in position on Friday in the wake of the latest news reports. The New Jersey lawmaker who once wrote speeches for President Clinton called for an ''immediate and thorough investigation'' into Trump's dealings with the Ukraine, while adding ''no foreign country should ever be allowed to interfere in our domestic politics. Congress has a responsibility to conduct strong oversight, and we must fulfill our article 1 constitutional obligations in this matter and others.''
Spokespeople for Pelosi and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler did not comment when asked about the wave of new Obama and Clinton alumni who have joined the impeachment bandwagon. But Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of Nadler's panel leading the impeachment push, said the former administration officials can influence their Democratic colleagues.
''The more establishment voices increase the volume of the chorus,'' Raskin told POLITICO, adding that he's seen a ''pervasive spread within the Democratic caucus and Democratic party of the sense to counter the lawlessness coming from the White House.''
One group not participating in the impeachment push: The party's living ex-presidents. All three have tried up to now to stay out of the impeachment spotlight, and former aides to both Obama and Clinton said they don't expect that to change anytime soon. ''It's just not their style,'' said Philippe Reines, a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton dating back to her tenure as a New York senator.
As for Jimmy Carter, the 94-year old Democrat told Fox Business Network in August 2018, ''I think that's the wrong thing for Democrats to do.''
But impeachment has been fair game for many other senior Democrats. ''The president asked a foreign power to help win an election. Again,'' Hillary Clinton wrote on Friday on Twitter in response to the Ukraine scandal.
While her social media post didn't mention impeachment, it echoed a more expansive line of arguments the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee made in a Washington Post op-ed published in April when the Mueller report was dominating the headlines. There, Clinton called it a ''false choice'' for lawmakers to think they needed to respond to the special counsel's findings as ''immediate impeachment or nothing.''
Instead, she urged Congress to use Mueller's findings as a ''road map'' to consider impeachment while adding that his report included a ''warning about the future'' where foreign adversaries including Russia, China and North Korea keep trying to meddle in American elections.
INTERACTIVE: See which House lawmakers support impeachment.
''And unless he's held accountable, the president may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office,'' wrote Clinton, who noted the ''strange twist of fate'' in her own one-of-a-kind resume that includes stints as a young House Judiciary Committee staff attorney during its Watergate impeachment inquiry and more than two decades later as a first lady whose husband faced impeachment.
Gore, the former vice president whose own unsuccessful 2000 White House campaign was weighed down by the Bill Clinton impeachment saga, said in an interview with MSNBC last week just before the Ukraine whistleblower story broke that he too understands the political calculus Democrats face on the subject, including the GOP-led Senate composition that would make a vote to convict and remove Trump a long shot at best.
''But I think we have an obligation beyond all of that to the Constitution, and the only remedy for these serious crimes that have been alleged is the impeachment process,'' said Gore, who also represented Tennessee in both the House and Senate.
On Monday, Gore responded to the latest news reports by telling CNN that Trump's conversations with the Ukrainian president ''must be investigated thoroughly. ''And this latest accusation, like some of the others, falls into a rare category. The only remedy is an impeachment investigation,'' he said.
Some members of the Democratic administration alumni club have been banging the impeachment gong for months.
''A well-planned and well-executed impeachment inquiry may be the only way to wrest the microphone from Trump and tell a story on our terms about who Trump is and the damage he has wrought on our country,'' former Obama White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote in May.
Others have tried to lay low, avoiding the use of the I-word however they can. John Kerry, the former Obama secretary of state and Massachusetts senator, for example studiously skipped over mentioning the process during an MSNBC interview Monday where he also described his reaction as ''one of absolute shock and amazement'' when he learned the at-issue call between Trump and his counterpart in Kiev happened the day after Mueller testified to Congress.
''We need to see the institutions of our country stand up here. Americans rely on that,'' Kerry explained before calling for Republicans to break ranks and speak up against the president on the topic.
For Democrats who have recently shifted into the impeachment camp, the decision hasn't been easy. It's meant fending off the label they were going after Pelosi, the speaker who played a crucial role in passing Obama's signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act.
''It's hard to thread the needle of being pro-impeachment and not attacking Speaker Pelosi,'' said Reines, himself an outspoken supporter of impeaching Trump for much of this year.
Several new members of the pro-impeachment club said in interviews they recognized the political peril of what they were doing. They personally know many of the freshman Democrats elected in 2018 from swing districts that backed Trump two years ago. They know about the long-shot prospects in the Senate, as well as the argument Trump allies keep making that impeachment will turn the public against Democrats and help the president win a second term.
''I think now it's worth the risk,'' said Joe Lockhart, a former Clinton White House spokesman who last Friday made his pro-impeachment stance known after earlier this year publishing an op-ed in the New York Times arguing that it'd be better to leave Trump in office because it was the ''best way to cement Trumpism's hold on the Republican Party.''
Lockhart served in the Clinton White House during the president's impeachment in the late 1990s, so he knows the challenges. But then came the Ukraine story, which he said raises a whole new level of concern about the future of the country. ''When you start doing things that call into question the legitimacy of the next election, you're in a whole other territory,'' he said.
Taking a pro-impeachment position now also may be easier given the trajectory of the issue headed into 2020. ''Whether Democrats impeach Trump or not,'' Lockhart said, ''Trump is providing so much fodder for this that it's now going to be the story between now and Election Day.''
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John Kerry's son cut business ties with Hunter Biden over Ukrainian oil deal
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 22:33
| August 27, 2019 06:30 AM
John Kerry's stepson rushed to play damage control at the State Department after his business partner Hunter Biden cut a deal with an oligarch-owned Ukrainian gas company in 2014, according to internal State Department correspondence obtained by the Washington Examiner.
The correspondence adds to the questions about Biden's business activities, which have dogged the 2020 Democratic primary campaign of his father Joe. Hunter Biden's long history of drug and alcohol abuse, which contributed to his divorce and his dismissal from the Navy Reserve, has also attracted unwelcome publicity for the Democratic front-runner.
An email released to the Washington Examiner shows that Biden's decision to join the board of Ukraine's Burisma Holdings sparked immediate concern within his inner circle about the political optics. Biden's father Joe '-- now vying for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination '-- was then vice president and overseeing the Obama administration's Ukraine policy.
At the time, Hunter Biden, now 49, and Christopher Heinz, the stepson of then-Secretary of State John Kerry, co-owned Rosemont Seneca Partners, a $2.4 billion private equity firm. Heinz's college roommate, Devon Archer, was managing partner in the firm. In the spring of 2014, Biden and Archer joined the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company that was at the center of a U.K. money laundering probe. Over the next year, Burisma reportedly paid Biden and Archer's companies over $3 million.
Hours after Biden's board appointment went public on May 13, 2014, Heinz emailed Matt Summers and David Wade, two of his stepfather's top aides at the State Department.
''Apparently Devon and Hunter both joined the board of Burisma and a press release went out today,'' wrote Heinz. ''I cant speak why they decided to, but there was no investment by our firm in their company.''
The email was obtained through a public information request filed by the conservative nonprofit group Citizens United. The organization said the email raises questions about why Heinz was in touch with the State Department about Biden's business dealings.
''This email raises a lot of questions. Why would Chris Heinz distance himself from Hunter Biden's decision to join Burisma's board in an email to John Kerry's senior staff at the State Department?'' said Citizens United President David N. Bossie in a statement to the Washington Examiner. ''It's time for Joe Biden to answer questions about his family's business in the Ukraine and what his own role was in those dealings.''
''These are questions that congressional oversight committees should be demanding answers to,'' he added.
Heinz's spokesperson told the Washington Examiner that he was not involved in the Burisma deal and has not been invested in Rosemont Seneca Partners since 2015.
''Chris Heinz was involved in Rosemont Capital. Through Rosemont Capital, Mr. Heinz owned a minority interest in Rosemont Seneca Partners until 2015,'' said Heinz's spokesperson Chris Bastardi. ''Neither Mr. Heinz, nor any business in which he had an interest, was involved in Burisma.''
Heinz was troubled by his partners' decision to join the Burisma board and immediately took steps to end his business relationship with Biden and Archer, according to a source familiar with the situation.
In 2014 and 2015, Burisma paid $3.4 million to a company called Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC, according to the New York Times. That company paid Biden up to $50,000 a month, according to the report. During the same time period, Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire its lead prosecutor who was investigating wrongdoing at Burisma, raising questions from critics about whether this was related to his son's position at the gas company.
Biden stepped down from the Burisma board this year, before his father announced his presidential run. Archer was convicted for his role in an unrelated Ponzi scheme last November, but was recently granted a new trial.
Related Hunter Biden coverage:
Business efforts of Biden brother and son prompt new questions over influence peddling Hunter Biden didn't invite father Joe to his wedding, then called him and said: 'Dad, I always had love' Biden poses with wayward son Hunter and new wife before Detroit debate
Vape Wars
Juul Replaces Its C.E.O. With a Tobacco Executive - The New York Times
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 15:18
The surprise announcement was the latest sign of crisis at a company under scrutiny over its vaping products that have been highly popular among teenagers.
Image Juul advertising at a tobacco and vape shop in Miami Beach, Fla. On Wednesday the company said it would end its ''Make the Switch'' campaign. Credit Credit Scott McIntyre for The New York Times Published Sept. 25, 2019Updated Sept. 26, 2019, 10:38 a.m. ET
The vaping powerhouse Juul Labs replaced its chief executive with a veteran of Big Tobacco on Wednesday, deepening the company's turmoil and raising doubts about the very future of the e-cigarette industry.
The sudden announcement capped a relentless cascade of events that has called into question the safety of devices once billed as a promising alternative to cigarettes, one of the world's leading preventable causes of death. Now, Juul is looking to that very industry for its survival as it faces a federal criminal inquiry, new bans on some of its products, and an onslaught of state and federal regulatory investigations into its marketing practices.
Early Wednesday morning, after frantic days of internal meetings, the company announced that Kevin Burns would resign as chief executive. His chosen replacement is K.C. Crosthwaite, a top official at Altria, the cigarette giant that bought a 35-percent share in Juul for $12.8 billion last December and has seen the company it invested in rocked by growing crisis.
In another sign of regulatory and business uncertainty, Altria and Philip Morris International said on Wednesday that they had ended talks to merge, dashing the chances of reuniting the two arms of what had once been the tobacco giant Philip Morris.
The e-cigarette industry '-- which Juul commands, with more than 70 percent of the market '-- is being threatened by twin public health crises: the rise of teenage vaping, which public health officials fear could create a new generation of nicotine addicts, and a surge of severe lung illnesses, including at least 11 deaths, linked to vaping.
Dr. David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said that in light of the epidemic of youth vaping, he doubted that any e-cigarette company could now prove that the benefits of its products outweighed the risks '-- a critical factor to win agency approval to stay on the market in the United States.
''In some ways the last several years has provided a record where it's hard to see that these products could ever meet the 'protection of public health standard,''' Dr. Kessler said. ''And if they can't meet that standard, they can't be marketed.''
Testifying at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, the acting F.D.A. commissioner, Dr. Ned Sharpless, appeared to echo that sentiment, saying, ''We really don't think anyone should be using e-cigarettes, except perhaps a person who is using it instead of a combustible cigarette.''
Dr. Sharpless said the agency could have done more to keep the products away from teenagers. ''In retrospect the F.D.A. should have acted sooner,'' he said. ''We're going to catch up.''
In addition to the deaths, 530 cases of the lung sicknesses have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, causing public health agencies to warn most people to refrain from vaping any substance.
Many of the patients have said they had been vaping THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana, when they became short of breath and grew sicker, officials have reported. But some said they were using just nicotine, or both.
Juul sells only nicotine products along with its sleek and popular vaping pens. Nevertheless, the company has become synonymous with vaping generally for much of the public.
''Juul is the face of the current public health crisis. Heads need to roll,'' said Stefanie Miller, a co-founder of Sandhill Strategy, which consults with investment firms on regulatory policy, particularly tobacco-industry regulations. ''To see the top head roll is a sign to public health, investors, to everyone that they know they need to make some changes.''
In announcing its change of leadership, Juul appeared to cave on issues that could be detrimental to its business. It said it would not fight a Trump administration proposal to ban most flavored e-cigarettes, which would slash its domestic sales. The company also said it would end one of its marketing campaigns, ''Make the Switch,'' which the F.D.A. warned could be construed as an illegal effort to portray its e-cigarettes as safer than traditional cigarettes.
A Juul employee said the company was also considering whether it should abandon its multimillion-dollar campaign on a ballot initiative to overturn an e-cigarette ban that is to take effect in San Francisco early next year.
Image Kevin Burns, the outgoing Juul Labs C.E.O., in June. Credit Lea Suzuki/San Francisco Chronicle, via Polaris Within the last week alone, several television networks decided to stop broadcasting Juul's ads; Massachusetts announced a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products; Rhode Island announced a ban on flavors; Walmart said it would stop selling all e-cigarettes; and the F.D.A. announced it had opened a criminal inquiry into the supply chain of vaping products and devices. The Federal Trade Commission also has been investigating Juul's marketing practices. And the United States attorney for Northern California opened a criminal investigation into the company, a development first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
On Sept. 10, President Trump met with Dr. Sharpless and Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary. After informing the president of another spike in teenage vaping, the two officials said they would issue the proposed ban on most flavored e-cigarettes within several weeks.
That would include mint and menthol, they said, although some vaping industry leaders have vowed to contest the inclusion of those two items. Juul has said mint and menthol now account for about 80 percent of its products and a ban on those would severely hurt its domestic sales.
All of this foreshadows a regulatory showdown at the F.D.A. that is slated to begin in May next year when the agency will determine what, if any, e-cigarettes can remain on the domestic market.
''The United States is moving toward asking vaping companies for permission to sell any products,'' Ms. Miller from Sandhill Strategy said. ''The people they're asking, the F.D.A., have shown these products are killing people.''
The turn in fortunes for Juul, and perhaps e-cigarettes generally, culminates one of the biggest disagreements in public health in recent years: whether e-cigarettes would prove a benefit to society. Supporters of e-cigarettes have argued that these devices have the potential to save millions of lives and billions of dollars by providing a safer alternative to the nation's leading killer, traditional cigarettes.
Some investment advisers pointed to the disarray with e-cigarettes as a potential benefit to traditional smoking. ''The recent media scrutiny on vaping will help overall cigarette consumption,'' Nik Modi, a tobacco-industry analyst for RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a message to investors.
In recent weeks, as Juul sales have slowed, sales of cigarettes declined at a slower pace with each passing week, according to Nielsen, a market-research firm.
But skeptics have said all along that not enough is known about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes and assert that they, and Juul, in particular, have spurred heavy experimentation by teenagers.
The upshot may drive the market for e-cigarettes overseas, a market that Juul's new chief executive, Mr. Crosthwaite, highlighted to employees in an all-hands meeting at the company headquarters on Wednesday morning.
''International expansion continues to be a huge opportunity given the number of smokers around the world,'' he told employees.
But the company's initial foray in China this month failed almost immediately, and last week India also said it would ban the sale of e-cigarettes.
Mr. Crosthwaite, in coming from Altria, brings to Juul the experience of working for one of the most regulatory-savvy companies in the world; the tobacco industry has navigated perilous straits in keeping its product on shelves and pushing internationally, despite cigarettes being a proven, addictive killer.
In a speech to a tobacco industry gathering in Washington on Wednesday, Howard Willard III, chief executive of Altria, said Mr. Crosthwaite would help Juul ''urgently control, confront and reduce youth vaping,'' and deal with the company's other problems.
''This is a pivotal moment,'' he said. ''Vaping is at an inflection point.''
Image Dr. Ned Sharpless, the F.D.A. acting commissioner, testified about the threats of e-cigarettes to the public before a House subcommittee on Wednesday. Credit Pete Marovich for The New York Times Despite the public concerns, Altria invested $12.8 billion in Juul in 2018 for a 35 percent stake, valuing Juul at about $38 billion. Mr. Crosthwaite became a board observer at Juul.
As for the decision to end the merger talks between Philip Morris and Altria, the two companies said they would instead focus on rolling out the IQOS heated tobacco product in the United States. They emphasized that IQOS, which Philip Morris International sells abroad and which has received F.D.A. approval for sale in the United States, is not ''an e-vapor product.''
IQOS is a penlike electronic device with a battery pack that resembles a cigarette case. It features a heating blade that warms a tobacco stick and emits a vapor with the taste of tobacco, but with fewer noxious chemicals than cigarette smoke. The F.D.A. has approved it for sale in the United States and said the product could help people to quit smoking. The agency is still weighing whether to permit IQOS to be marketed as a reduced-risk product.
Investors had appeared largely skeptical of the potential deal, despite the companies arguing that reuniting could revive their fortunes amid a decline in cigarette sales.
On Wall Street, analysts said they were not that surprised by the abrupt end to the merger talks, especially given the steady drumbeat of negative headlines around vaping and Juul's products. The stock of Philip Morris International ended Wednesday up more than 5 percent at $75.28, while Altria's stock ended essentially flat at $40.56.
But Altria is likely to face a bumpier future amid the uncertainty around Juul.
Analysts said it was increasingly likely that Altria might have to write down the value of its $12.8 billion investment in Juul, given the recent developments and uncertainty surrounding the company.
''When the Juul transaction was done, it valued the company at around $37 billion,'' said Garrett Nelson, an analyst at CFRA Research. ''Juul's valuation today is probably a fraction of that.''
Meanwhile, Altria's debt levels more than doubled as it borrowed to buy the Juul stake, he noted.
Tim Hubbard, an assistant professor of management in the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, said it was not surprising that Mr. Burns was stepping down from the company as it had struggled to adapt to the swift change of perceptions, from a company that was providing an alternative to smoking to one that had been vilified.
''When compared to traditional tobacco products '-- which have remained on the shelves for decades despite being proven dangerous '-- e-cigarette makers have failed spectacularly,'' Mr. Hubbard said in an email. ''Bringing in a traditional tobacco executive who knows how to market and manage government relationships with deadly products matches the firm's needs.''
Michael J. de la Merced and Katie Thomas contributed reporting.
Sheila Kaplan is a prize-winning investigative reporter who covers the Food and Drug Administration, the tobacco industry and the intersection of money, medicine and politics. @ bySheilaKaplan
Matt Richtel is a best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter based in San Francisco. He joined The Times staff in 2000, and his work has focused on science, technology, business and narrative-driven storytelling around these issues.
@ mrichtel
Julie Creswell is a New York-based reporter. She has covered banks, private equity, retail and health care. She previously worked for Fortune Magazine and also wrote about debt, monetary policy and mutual funds at Dow Jones. @ julie_creswell
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Philip Morris International Inc. and Altria Group, Inc. End Merger Discussions | Business Wire
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 13:43
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE )--Regulatory News:
Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) (NYSE: PM) today announced that merger discussions with Altria Group, Inc. (Altria) (NYSE: MO) have ended.
Andr(C) Calantzopoulos, CEO of PMI, said: ''After much deliberation, the companies have agreed to focus on launching IQOS in the U.S. as part of their mutual interest to achieve a smoke-free future.''
IQOS is the only heated tobacco product with premarket authorization (including two menthol variants) from the U.S. FDA, which followed the Agency's rigorous science-based review, leading it to determine that authorizing the product for sale in the U.S. is appropriate for the protection of the public health. IQOS is not an e-vapor product. PMI submitted a comprehensive body of scientific evidence in support of this premarket authorization and of the parallel applications for IQOS as a ''Modified Risk Tobacco Product,'' which the FDA continues to review.
Global data, based on four years of use, show that IQOS is not significantly appealing to youth or to nonsmokers.
As of June 30, 2019, PMI estimates that approximately 8.0 million adult smokers around the world have already stopped smoking and switched to PMI's heated tobacco product, available for sale in 48 markets. PMI is on track to meet its previously communicated international heated tobacco unit shipment volume target of 90-100 billion units by 2021.
Forward-Looking and Cautionary Statements
This press release contains projections of future results and other forward-looking statements. Achievement of future results is subject to risks, uncertainties and inaccurate assumptions. In the event that risks or uncertainties materialize, or underlying assumptions prove inaccurate, actual results could vary materially from those contained in such forward-looking statements. Pursuant to the ''safe harbor'' provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, PMI is identifying important factors that, individually or in the aggregate, could cause actual results and outcomes to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements made by PMI.
PMI's business risks include: excise tax increases and discriminatory tax structures; increasing marketing and regulatory restrictions that could reduce our competitiveness, eliminate our ability to communicate with adult consumers, or ban certain of our products; health concerns relating to the use of tobacco products and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke; litigation related to tobacco use; intense competition; the effects of global and individual country economic, regulatory and political developments, natural disasters and conflicts; changes in adult smoker behavior; lost revenues as a result of counterfeiting, contraband and cross-border purchases; governmental investigations; unfavorable currency exchange rates and currency devaluations, and limitations on the ability to repatriate funds; adverse changes in applicable corporate tax laws; adverse changes in the cost and quality of tobacco and other agricultural products and raw materials; and the integrity of its information systems and effectiveness of its data privacy policies. PMI's future profitability may also be adversely affected should it be unsuccessful in its attempts to produce and commercialize reduced-risk products or if regulation or taxation do not differentiate between such products and cigarettes; if it is unable to successfully introduce new products, promote brand equity, enter new markets or improve its margins through increased prices and productivity gains; if it is unable to expand its brand portfolio internally or through acquisitions and the development of strategic business relationships; or if it is unable to attract and retain the best global talent. Future results are also subject to the lower predictability of our reduced-risk product category's performance.
PMI is further subject to other risks detailed from time to time in its publicly filed documents, including the Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2019. PMI cautions that the foregoing list of important factors is not a complete discussion of all potential risks and uncertainties. PMI does not undertake to update any forward-looking statement that it may make from time to time, except in the normal course of its public disclosure obligations.
All references to IQOS herein are to PMI's heat-not-burn products.The IQOS heat-not-burn device is a precisely controlled heating device into which a specially designed and proprietary tobacco unit is inserted and heated to generate an aerosol.About Philip Morris International Inc.
Philip Morris International (PMI) is leading a transformation in the tobacco industry to create a smoke-free future and ultimately replace cigarettes with scientifically substantiated smoke-free products to the benefit of adults who would otherwise continue to smoke, society, the company and its shareholders. PMI is a leading international tobacco company engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, smoke-free products and associated electronic devices and accessories, and other nicotine-containing products in markets outside the U.S. PMI is building a future on a new category of smoke-free products that, while addictive and not risk free, are a much better choice than continuing to smoke. Through world-class multidisciplinary capabilities in product development and scientific substantiation, as well as state-of-the-art R&D facilities, PMI aims to ensure that its smoke-free products meet adult consumer preferences and rigorous regulatory requirements. PMI's smoke-free IQOS product portfolio includes heated tobacco and nicotine-containing vapor products. For more information, please visit www.pmi.com and www.pmiscience.com.
Vape-orized: Philip Morris, Altria End Merger Talks As Juul CEO Quits | Zero Hedge
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 13:43
Talk about wealth vape-orizing.
The fallout from the vaping scandal, which has seen an unprecedented crackdown against a practice which until recently was seen as safer than conventional smoking and is now getting banned virtually everywhere following a streak of unexplained death, continued on Wednesday morning when tobacco giants Philip Morris and Altria Group announced they have ended their merger discussions.
''After much deliberation, the companies have agreed to focus on launching IQOS in the U.S. as part of their mutual interest to achieve a smoke-free future,'' Philip Morris Chief Executive Officer Andr(C) Calantzopoulos said Wednesday in a statement, referring to his company's heat-not-burn device.
The companies said in a statement that they would focus on another smoke-free technology called IQOS in the U.S. electronic-cigarette market. Shares of Philip Morris jumped more than 6% in early trading, while Altria rose about 3%.
* * *
Separately, we were almost right in our sarcastic comment from yesterday, the the criminal probe at Juul and sudden crackdown will cost the Altria CEO his job over last year's $13 billion invesrment in Juul.
'-- zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 24, 2019Instead, moments ago we learned that the Juul CEO, the aptly named Kevin Burns is quitting first, and Altria Chief Strategy and Growth Officer K.C. Crosthwaite stepped down from the company to become the new CEO of Juul Inc. As a reminder Marlboro-maker Altria last year took a $13 billion stake in Juul last year when the company was valued at roughly $38 billion. The value of that investment is now said to be about 30-50% lower.
''I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like JUUL'' Crosthwaite said in the company statement. ''That has been this company's mission since it was founded, and it has taken great strides in that direction. Unfortunately, today that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry.''
Juul, which makes the top-selling e-cigarette device in the U.S., has found itself at the center of an increasing controversy over vaping. A mysterious lung illness has killed seven people and sickened more than 500 others in recent months, and U.S. health officials have said that vaping among youth has reached epidemic proportions.
Juul also said in its statement on Wednesday that it would suspend all broadcast, print and digital advertising in the U.S., and refrain from lobbying the Trump administration on its guidance regarding proposed curbs on vaping products.
The resignation news follow a Tuesday report that Juul would restructure and cut back its staff as state, federal and international health regulators pull its fruit flavored pods off store shelves as U.S. amid a public health crisis; as part of the overhaul, the company is eliminating some of its 3,900 employees, slowing hiring and reviewing its current job postings, according to a person familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified because the decision hasn't been made public.
U.S. prosecutors in California have reportedly opened a criminal probe into the maker of the popular e-cigarette. Juul's been criticized by federal health officials and lawmakers for fueling a teen vaping ''epidemic.'' Its advertising practices have, in particular, been scrutinized for using young models and bright colors health officials say appealed to kids.
Nicotine Salts: Everything You Wanted to Know | Vaping411
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 22:44
In the world of vaping, there has been a lot of talk about nicotine salts, also known as nic salts. Are they good or are they dangerous? How do we use them and in what kind of devices? What exactly are they all about? This article will try to answer all of that and more. Then at the bottom, we sum up the pro and cons of nicotine salts.
The structure of nicotine. Vchorozopoulos CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
What are Nicotine Salts?Nicotine salts result when manufacturers take free base nicotine and add certain types of acids. This creates a super absorbable and smooth form of nicotine. In theory, nicotine salts are readily absorbable even at lower temperatures. In chemical terms, a salt results when an acid reacts with a base (alkali). Contrast this to free base nicotine that manufacturers also modify for rapid delivery into the body and brain for a powerful nicotine effect. Most people have heard of freebasing of cocaine. Well, the chemical process is similar for nicotine.
Since the 1960s, large tobacco companies like Phillip Morris researched ways to make cigarettes more addictive. How could they increase the delivery of nicotine to the body for a stronger, faster effect? They discovered that if they free the nicotine (free base) from the acids that were naturally present in the tobacco leaf, they could achieve this. So why does it appear that some e-liquid manufacturers are moving backward by turning free base nicotine into nicotine salts?
Consumption is different from absorption; the main factors associated with the effects of nicotine are the levels in the bloodstream and the speed of absorption.
National Institutes for HealthNote: This article will not delve deeply into the chemistry of free base and protonated (the opposite of free base) nicotine but will try to give you information in broad terms.
Free Base NicotineWith traditional cigarettes, nicotine is present in both the particulate matter and the gas of the smoke. Within the particulate matter, there are three forms of the nicotine '' diprotonated, monoprotonated, and unprotonated. The gas phase strictly contains nicotine in a free base. As you can make out, unprotonated means it does not have any protons, hence it is a free base. This form of nicotine is most absorbable by the body and brain and provides a quicker and stronger effect.
Free base nicotine is also more lipid soluble and crosses the blood-brain barrier more readily than other forms. This leads to the release of dopamine. Scientists indicate that higher levels of free base nicotine entering the lungs correlate with a higher initial strength or kick and addictive potential of the nicotine. (National Institutes of Health 2005).
When certain types of acids are added to freebase nicotine, those acids not only turn the nicotine into a salt but may also help to free the nicotine into a highly absorbable form when heated.
Why Use Nic Salts?In its natural form, nicotine, as it is contained within the leaves of the tobacco plant, is not a free base but exists with acid in the form of a salt. This type of nicotine is less absorbable by the body. However, when certain types of acids are added to freebase nicotine, those acids not only turn the nicotine into a salt but may also help to free the nicotine (into a free base) when heated to a certain temperature '' as during vaporization. At least this is the claim of Pax Labs, Inc., which obtained a patent for a nicotine salt in 2015.
Additionally, when nicotine salts or nic salts are used to make e-liquid instead of the pure free base form, the quality of vaporization supposedly changes; the hit is smoother, making inhalation easier. In the free-base form, nicotine ''bites'' the throat, as it is very alkaline. But in the initial salt form, a higher concentration of nicotine may be more tolerable for inhalation, allowing the user to experience a stronger nicotine effect without the harshness.
Pax Labs JUUL SaltsAs noted, in 2015 PAX Labs patented their JUULsalts formulation of nicotine salt for use in its e-cigarette device, the JUUL. The compact low-temperature device utilizes e-liquid pods that contain high levels of nicotine (in the form of nicotine salts) '' 59 mg/ml per pod '' intended to match the strength of a traditional cigarette. In general, the e-liquid industry standard for nicotine content ranges from 0-24 mg/ml. Most high wattage vapers use lower nicotine levels because with the powerful sub-ohm devices, they are able to now match the nicotine blood absorption rate of a traditional cigarette (PubMed 2016). ''Consumption is different from absorption; the main factors associated with the effects of nicotine are the levels in the bloodstream and the speed of absorption'' (National Institutes of Health).
The JUUL eLiquid pods contain nicotine salt. Photo: Vaping411.
The company claims that they use an outside organization to research their e-liquids. In the patent description, reference was made to the prevailing conclusion that free base nicotine compositions generated greater satisfaction over nicotine salts in a combustion process that involves high temperature. Their patent states that there are conflicting results.
Higher Nicotine at Lower TemperaturesThe patent goes on to describe an ''unexpected'' discovery. They found that certain formulas of nic salts delivered greater satisfaction than free base nicotine with low-temperature vaporization. Those nic salts also matched the satisfaction of a traditional cigarette. The Pax website indicates that they add benzoic acid to the JUUL salt e-liquid formula. ''The nicotine salt formulations are formed from an acid with a vapor pressure that is similar to the vapor pressure of free base nicotine at the heating temperature of the device,'' according to Pax's 2015 patent. Basically, they've made it as volatile as possible to be effective in low-temperature devices. Furthermore, they discovered that certain nicotine salts (using different acids) yielded better performance than others.
The natural form of nicotine as it exists in the tobacco leaf is by nature more stable and less bio-available to humans.
It's All in the Type of AcidAccording to the patent, certain nicotine salts outperformed other nicotine salts and free base nicotine. Those nic salts resulted in a maximum level of blood nicotine in the lowest amount of time. For these tests, they used a low-temperature vaporization pathway to deliver the nicotine. In other words, some types of acids worked better than others in terms of creating a nicotine salt with efficient delivery into the body when vaped with a low-temperature device.
They found that using acids with particular vapor pressures achieved the highest concentration of nicotine in the blood. It also led to the fastest absorption. A higher vapor pressure corresponds to a lower boiling or vaporization temperature. The patented commercial nicotine salt achieved a level of nicotine of 5 ng per ml at 1.5 minutes. One and a half minutes was the time measured after the first puff in a series of 10 thirty-second spaced puffs. Among tests of various nic salts, as well as a free base, the least satisfying was the free base.
Satisfaction MetricsThis graph shows the Pax Labs test achieved similar blood nicotine content as traditional smoking. Image Credit: Engadget
Test subjects achieved a heart rate of 1.2 times the norm 40 seconds after the first puff by the patented nicotine salts. The free base composition achieved the same in 110 seconds. In two minutes, the patented nicotine salts formulation achieved a heart rate of 105 to 110 beats per minute. A nicotine free base formulation only achieved 86 bpm at 7 minutes.
Pros and Cons of Nicotine SaltsPROS:
Longer shelf life and less oxidation. Nicotine in its natural state is more stable and less likely to oxidize. Oxidation of nicotine in e-liquids causes an off-flavor and discoloration.Possible smoother hit. This is due to the lower alkalinity of the nicotine salts. Alkalinity, e.g., free base, results in a ''bite.''High levels of nicotine. This may be very helpful for people who are trying to quit smoking. Vapers of low wattage devices can absorb as much nicotine as with a cigarette.Less vaping required to achieve nicotine satisfaction. With higher levels of nicotine, less vaping is necessary. The vaper may put down the device more often resulting in less usage of battery and e-juice. This could provide noticeable cost savings.CONS:
High levels of nicotine commonly offered with ''nic salts'' are undesirable for some people. The JUUL, for example, does not offer zero or lower levels of nicotine.Companies generally do not recommend nic salts for high wattage or sub ohm devices.At Nude Nicotine, nicotine salts appear to be more expensive than regular nicotine. We have not evaluated if this is marketwide.Uncertain effects of benzoic acid. This is the ingredient that supposedly gives the JUULsalts its desirable qualities. Although experts generally consider benzoic acid to be relatively non-toxic, the following excerpts are for your information.For Your Own ResearchCases of urticaria, asthma, rhinitis, or anaphylactic shock have been reported following oral, dermal, or inhalation exposure to benzoic acid and sodium benzoate. The symptoms appear shortly after exposure and disappear within a few hours, even at low doses (
Irritation to the nose, throat and lungs if inhaled, which may cause coughing, wheezing and/or shortness of breath (
MSDS Online).
A provisional tolerable intake [of benzoic acid] of 5 mg/kg body weight per day can be derived, although benzoates at lower doses can cause non-immunological contact reactions (pseudoallergy) in sensitive persons. As there are no adequate studies available on inhalation exposure, a tolerable concentration for exposure by inhalation cannot be calculated (
In conclusion, nic salts may help to fill a market void. Before nicotine salts came around some people may have wondered, ''How can we get higher levels of nicotine and absorption (and satisfaction) from a small, discreet, low-temperature device?'' Perhaps we now have an answer.
Green New Deal
A Climate Modeller Spills the Beans '' Quadrant Online
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:27
There's a top-level oceanographer and meteorologist who is prepared to cry ''Nonsense!''on the ''global warming crisis'' evident to climate modellers but not in the real world. He's as well or better qualified than the modellers he criticises '-- the ones whose Year 2100 forebodings of 4degC warming have set the world to spending $US1.5 trillion a year to combat CO2 emissions.
The iconoclast is Dr. Mototaka Nakamura. In June he put out a small book in Japanese on ''the sorry state of climate science''. It's titled Confessions of a climate scientist: the global warming hypothesis is an unproven hypothesis, and he is very much qualified to take a stand. From 1990 to 2014 he worked on cloud dynamics and forces mixing atmospheric and ocean flows on medium to planetary scales. His bases were MIT (for a Doctor of Science in meteorology), Georgia Institute of Technology, Goddard Space Flight Centre, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Duke and Hawaii Universities and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. He's published about 20 climate papers on fluid dynamics.[i]
Today's vast panoply of ''global warming science'' is like an upside down pyramid built on the work of a few score of serious climate modellers. They claim to have demonstrated human-derived CO2 emissions as the cause of recent global warming and project that warming forward. Every orthodox climate researcher takes such output from the modellers' black boxes as a given.
A fine example is from the Australian Academy of Science's explanatory booklet of 2015. It claims, absurdly, that the models' outputs are ''compelling evidence'' for human-caused warming.[ii] Specifically, it refers to model runs with and without human emissions and finds the ''with'' variety better matches the 150-year temperature record (which itself is a highly dubious construct). Thus satisfied, the Academy then propagates to the public and politicians the models' forecasts for disastrous warming this century.
Now for Dr Nakamura's expert demolition of the modelling. There was no English edition of his book in June and only a few bits were translated and circulated. But Dr Nakamura last week offered via a free Kindle version his own version in English. It's not a translation but a fresh essay leading back to his original conclusions.
The temperature forecasting models trying to deal with the intractable complexities of the climate are no better than ''toys'' or ''Mickey Mouse mockeries'' of the real world, he says. This is not actually a radical idea. The IPCC in its third report (2001) conceded (emphasis added),
In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible . (Chapter 14, Section )]
Somehow that official warning was deep-sixed by the alarmists. Now Nakamura has found it again, further accusing the orthodox scientists of ''data falsification'' by adjusting previous temperature data to increase apparent warming ''The global surface mean temperature-change data no longer have any scientific value and are nothing except a propaganda tool to the public,'' he writes.
The climate models are useful tools for academic studies, he says. However, ''the models just become useless pieces of junk or worse (worse in a sense that they can produce gravely misleading output) when they are used for climate forecasting.'' The reason:
These models completely lack some critically important climate processes and feedbacks, and represent some other critically important climate processes and feedbacks in grossly distorted manners to the extent that makes these models totally useless for any meaningful climate prediction.
I myself used to use climate simulation models for scientific studies, not for predictions, and learned about their problems and limitations in the process.
Nakamura and colleagues even tried to patch up some of the models' crudeness
'...so I know the workings of these models very well '... For better or worse I have more or less lost interest in the climate science and am not thrilled to spend so much of my time and energy in this kind of writing beyond the point that satisfies my own sense of obligation to the US and Japanese taxpayers who financially supported my higher education and spontaneous and free research activity. So please expect this to be the only writing of this sort coming from me.
I am confident that some honest and courageous, true climate scientists will continue to publicly point out the fraudulent claims made by the mainstream climate science community in English. I regret to say this but I am also confident that docile and/or incompetent Japanese climate researchers will remain silent until the 'mainstream climate science community' changes its tone, if ever.
He projects warming from CO2 doubling, ''according to the true experts'', to be only 0.5degC. He says he doesn't dispute the possibility of either catastrophic warming or severe glaciation since the climate system's myriad non-linear processes swamp ''the toys'' used for climate predictions. Climate forecasting is simply impossible, if only because future changes in solar energy output are unknowable. As to the impacts of human-caused CO2, they can't be judged ''with the knowledge and technology we currently possess.''
Other gross model simplifications include
# Ignorance about large and small-scale ocean dynamics
# A complete lack of meaningful representations of aerosol changes that generate clouds.
# Lack of understanding of drivers of ice-albedo (reflectivity) feedbacks: ''Without a reasonably accurate representation, it is impossible to make any meaningful predictions of climate variations and changes in the middle and high latitudes and thus the entire planet.''
# Inability to deal with water vapor elements
# Arbitrary ''tunings'' (fudges) of key parameters that are not understood
Concerning CO2 changes he says,
I want to point out a simple fact that it is impossible to correctly predict even the sense or direction of a change of a system when the prediction tool lacks and/or grossly distorts important non-linear processes, feedbacks in particular, that are present in the actual system '...
'... The real or realistically-simulated climate system is far more complex than an absurdly simple system simulated by the toys that have been used for climate predictions to date, and will be insurmountably difficult for those na¯ve climate researchers who have zero or very limited understanding of geophysical fluid dynamics. I understand geophysical fluid dynamics just a little, but enough to realize that the dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans are absolutely critical facets of the climate system if one hopes to ever make any meaningful prediction of climate variation.
Solar input, absurdly, is modelled as a ''never changing quantity''. He says, ''It has only been several decades since we acquired an ability to accurately monitor the incoming solar energy. In these several decades only, it has varied by one to two watts per square metre. Is it reasonable to assume that it will not vary any more than that in the next hundred years or longer for forecasting purposes? I would say, No.''
Good modelling of oceans is crucial, as the slow ocean currents are transporting vast amounts of heat around the globe, making the minor atmospheric heat storage changes almost irrelevant. For example, the Gulf Stream has kept western Eurasia warm for centuries. On time scales of more than a few years, it plays a far more important role on climate than atmospheric changes. ''It is absolutely vital for any meaningful climate prediction to be made with a reasonably accurate representation of the state and actions of the oceans.'' In real oceans rather than modelled ones, just like in the atmosphere, the smaller-scale flows often tend to counteract the effects of the larger-scale flows. Nakamura spent hundreds of hours vainly trying to remedy the flaws he observed, concluding that the models ''result in a grotesque distortion of the mixing and transport of momentum, heat and salt, thereby making the behaviour of the climate simulation models utterly unrealistic'...''
Proper ocean modelling would require a tenfold improvement in spatial resolution and a vast increase in computing power, probably requiring quantum computers. If or when quantum computers can reproduce the small-scale interactions, the researchers will remain out of their depth because of their traditional simplifying of conditions.
Key model elements are replete with ''tunings'' i.e. fudges. Nakamura explains how that trick works
The models are 'tuned' by tinkering around with values of various parameters until the best compromise is obtained. I used to do it myself. It is a necessary and unavoidable procedure and not a problem so long as the user is aware of its ramifications and is honest about it. But it is a serious and fatal flaw if it is used for climate forecasting/prediction purposes.
One set of fudges involves clouds.
Ad hoc representation of clouds may be the greatest source of uncertainty in climate prediction. A profound fact is that only a very small change, so small that it cannot be measured accurately'...in the global cloud characteristics can completely offset the warming effect of the doubled atmospheric CO2.
Two such characteristics are an increase in cloud area and a decrease in the average size of cloud particles.
Accurate simulation of cloud is simply impossible in climate models since it requires calculations of processes at scales smaller than 1mm.'' Instead, the modellers put in their own cloud parameters. Anyone studying real cloud formation and then the treatment in climate models would be ''flabbergasted by the perfunctory treatment of clouds in the models.
Nakamura describes as ''moronic'' the claims that ''tuned'' ocean models are good enough for climate predictions. That's because, in tuning some parameters, other aspects of the model have to become extremely distorted. He says a large part of the forecast global warming is attributed to water vapor changes, not CO2 changes. ''But the fact is this: all climate simulation models perform poorly in reproducing the atmospheric water vapor and its radiative forcing observed in the current climate'... They have only a few parameters that can be used to 'tune' the performance of the models and (are) utterly unrealistic.'' Positive water vapor feedbacks from CO2 increases are artificially enforced by the modelers. They neglect other reverse feedbacks in the real world, and hence they exaggerate forecast warming.
The supposed measuring of global average temperatures from 1890 has been based on thermometer readouts barely covering 5 per cent of the globe until the satellite era began 40-50 years ago. ''We do not know how global climate has changed in the past century, all we know is some limited regional climate changes, such as in Europe, North America and parts of Asia.'' This makes meaningless the Paris targets of 1.5degC or 2degC above pre-industrial levels.
He is contemptuous of claims about models being ''validated'', saying the modellers are merely ''trying to construct narratives that justify the use of these models for climate predictions.'' And he concludes,
The take-home message is (that) all climate simulation models, even those with the best parametric representation scheme for convective motions and clouds, suffer from a very large degree of arbitrariness in the representation of processes that determine the atmospheric water vapor and cloud fields. Since the climate models are tuned arbitrarily '...there is no reason to trust their predictions/forecasts.
With values of parameters that are supposed to represent many complex processes being held constant, many nonlinear processes in the real climate system are absent or grossly distorted in the models. It is a delusion to believe that simulation models that lack important nonlinear processes in the real climate system can predict (even) the sense or direction of the climate change correctly.
I was distracted from his message because the mix of Japanese and English scripts in the book kept crashing my Kindle software. Still, I persevered. I recommend you do too. There's at least $US30 trillion ($US30,000, 000,000,000) hanging on this bunfight.
Tony Thomas's new book, The West: An insider's tale '' A romping reporter in Perth's innocent '60s is available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here
[i] They include (to give you the flavor)
# ''Destabilisation of thermohaline circulation by atmospheric eddy transports''
#''Effects of the ice-albedo [reflectivity] and runoff feedbacks on the thermohaline circulation''
# ''Diagnoses of an eddy-resolving Atlantic Ocean model simulation in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream''
# ''A simulation study of the 2003 heat wave in Europe''
# ''Impacts of SST [sea surface temperature] anomalies in the Agulhas Current System on the climate variations in the southern Africa and its vicinity.''# ''Greenland sea surface temperature changes and accompanying changes in the north hemispheric climate.''
[ii] ''Climate models allow us '¨to understand the causes of past climate changes, and to project climate change into the future. Together with physical principles and knowledge of past variations, models provide compelling evidence that recent changes are due to increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere '... Using climate models, it is possible to separate the effects of the natural and human-induced influences on climate. Models can successfully reproduce the observed warming over the last 150 years when both natural and human influences are included, but not when natural influences act alone.'' A footnote directs to a study by 15 modellers cited in the 2015 IPCC report.
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:19
1 IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate Summary for Policymakers Approved Draft Headline Statements Subject to Copyedit
2 A. OBSERVED CHANGES AND IMPACTS Observed Physical Changes A1. Over the last decades, global warming has led to widespread shrinking of the cryosphere, with mass loss from ice sheets and glaciers (very high confidence), reductions in snow cover (high confidence) and Arctic sea ice extent and thickness (very high confidence), and increased permafrost temperature (very high confidence). {2.2, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, Figures SPM.1, SPM.2} A2. It is virtually certain that the global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system (high confidence). Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled (likely). Marine heatwaves have very likely doubled in frequency since 1982 and are increasing in intensity (very high confidence). By absorbing more CO2, the ocean has undergone increasing surface acidification (virtually certain). A loss of oxygen has occurred from the surface to 1000 m (medium confidence). {1.4, 3.2, 5.2, 6.4, 6.7, Figures SPM.1, SPM.2} A3. Global mean sea level (GMSL) is rising, with acceleration in recent decades due to increasing rates of ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets (very high confidence), as well as continued glacier mass loss and ocean thermal expansion. Increases in tropical cyclone winds and rainfall, and increases in extreme waves, combined with relative sea level rise, exacerbate extreme sea level events and coastal hazards (high confidence). {3.3; 4.2; 6.2; 6.3; 6.8; Figures SPM.1, SPM.2, SPM.4, SPM.5} Observed Impacts on Ecosystems A4. Cryospheric and associated hydrological changes have impacted terrestrial and freshwater species and ecosystems in high mountain and polar regions through the appearance of land previously covered by ice, changes in snow cover, and thawing permafrost. These changes have contributed to changing the seasonal activities, abundance and distribution of ecologically, culturally, and economically important plant and animal species, ecological disturbances, and ecosystem functioning. (high confidence) {2.3.2, 2.3.3, 3.4.1, 3.4.3, Box 3.4, Figure SPM.2} A5. Since about 1950 many marine species across various groups have undergone shifts in geographical range and seasonal activities in response to ocean warming, sea ice change and biogeochemical changes, such as oxygen loss, to their habitats (high confidence). This has resulted in shifts in species composition, abundance and biomass production of ecosystems, from the equator to the poles. Altered interactions between species have caused cascading impacts on ecosystem structure and functioning (medium confidence). In some marine ecosystems species are impacted by both the effects of fishing and climate changes (medium confidence). {3.2.3, 3.2.4, Box 3.4, 5.2.3, 5.3, 5.4.1, Figure SPM.2} A6. Coastal ecosystems are affected by ocean warming, including intensified marine heatwaves, acidification, loss of oxygen, salinity intrusion and sea level rise, in combination with adverse effects from human activities on ocean and land (high confidence). Impacts are already observed on habitat area and biodiversity, as well as ecosystem functioning and services (high confidence). {4.3.2, 4.3.3, 5.3, 5.4.1, 6.4.2, Figure SPM.2} Observed Impacts on People and Ecosystem Services A7. Since the mid-20th century, the shrinking cryosphere in the Arctic and high-mountain areas has led to predominantly negative impacts on food security, water resources, water quality, livelihoods, health and well-being, infrastructure, transportation, tourism and recreation, as well as culture of human societies, particularly for Indigenous peoples (high confidence). Costs
3 and benefits have been unequally distributed across populations and regions. Adaptation efforts have benefited from the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and local knowledge (high confidence). {1.1, 1.5, 1.6.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.4, 3.5, Figure SPM.2} A8. Changes in the ocean have impacted marine ecosystems and ecosystem services with regionally diverse outcomes, challenging their governance (high confidence). Both positive and negative impacts result for food security through fisheries (medium confidence), local cultures and livelihoods (medium confidence), and tourism and recreation (medium confidence). The impacts on ecosystem services have negative consequences for health and well-being (medium confidence), and for Indigenous peoples and local communities dependent on fisheries (high confidence). {1.1, 1.5, 3.2.1, 5.4.1, 5.4.2, Figure SPM.2} A9. Coastal communities are exposed to multiple climate-related hazards, including tropical cyclones, extreme sea levels and flooding, marine heatwaves, sea ice loss, and permafrost thaw (high confidence). A diversity of responses has been implemented worldwide, mostly after extreme events, but also some in anticipation of future sea level rise, e.g., in the case of large infrastructure. {3.2.4, 3.4.3, 4.3.2, 4.3.3, 4.3.4, 4.4.2, 5.4.2, 6.2, 6.4.2, 6.8, Box 6.1, Cross Chapter Box 9, Figure SPM.5} B. PROJECTED CHANGES AND RISKS Projected Physical Changes1B1. Global-scale glacier mass loss, permafrost thaw, and decline in snow cover and Arctic sea ice extent are projected to continue in the near-term (2031''2050) due to surface air temperature increases (high confidence), with unavoidable consequences for river runoff and local hazards (high confidence). The Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are projected to lose mass at an increasing rate throughout the 21st century and beyond (high confidence).The rates and magnitudes of these cryospheric changes are projected to increase further in the second half of the 21st century in a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario (high confidence). Strong reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades are projected to reduce further changes after 2050 (high confidence). {2.2, 2.3, Cross-Chapter Box 6 in Chapter 2, 3.3, 3.4, Figure SPM.1, SPM Box SPM.1} B2. Over the 21st century, the ocean is projected to transition to unprecedented conditions with increased temperatures (virtually certain), greater upper ocean stratification (very likely), further acidification (virtually certain), oxygen decline (medium confidence), and altered net primary production (low confidence). Marine heatwaves (very high confidence) and extreme El Ni±o and La Ni±a events (medium confidence) are projected to become more frequent. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is projected to weaken (very likely). The rates and magnitudes of these changes will be smaller under scenarios with low greenhouse gas emissions (very likely). {3.2; 5.2; 6.4; 6.5; 6.7; Box 5.1; Figures SPM.1, SPM.3} B3. Sea level continues to rise at an increasing rate. Extreme sea level events that are historically rare (once per century in the recent past) are projected to occur frequently (at least once per year) at many locations by 2050 in all RCP scenarios, especially in tropical regions (high confidence). The increasing frequency of high water levels can have severe impacts in many locations depending on exposure (high confidence). Sea level rise is projected to continue beyond 2100 in all RCP scenarios. For a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5), projections of global sea level rise by 2100 are greater than in AR5 due to a 1 This report primarily uses RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 for the following reasons: These scenarios largely represent the assessed range for the topics covered in this report; they largely represent what is covered in the assessed literature, based on CMIP5; and they allow a consistent narrative about projected changes. RCP4.5 and RCP6.0 are not available for all topics addressed in the report. {Box SPM.1}
4 larger contribution from the Antarctic Ice Sheet (medium confidence). In coming centuries under RCP8.5, sea level rise is projected to exceed rates of several centimetres per year resulting in multi-metre rise (medium confidence), while for RCP2.6 sea level rise is projected to be limited to around 1m in 2300 (low confidence). Extreme sea levels and coastal hazards will be exacerbated by projected increases in tropical cyclone intensity and precipitation (high confidence). Projected changes in waves and tides vary locally in whether they amplify or ameliorate these hazards (medium confidence).{Cross-Chapter Box 5 in Chapter 1; Cross-Chapter Box 8 in Chapter 3; 4.1; 4.2; 5.2.2, 6.3.1; Figures SPM.1, SPM.4, SPM.5} Projected Risks for Ecosystems B.4 Future land cryosphere changes will continue to alter terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems in high-mountain and polar regions with major shifts in species distributions resulting in changes in ecosystem structure and functioning, and eventual loss of globally unique biodiversity (medium confidence). Wildfire is projected to increase significantly for the rest of this century across most tundra and boreal regions, and also in some mountain regions (medium confidence). {2.3.3, Box 3.4, 3.4.3} B5. A decrease in global biomass of marine animal communities, their production, and fisheries catch potential, and a shift in species composition are projected over the 21st century in ocean ecosystems from the surface to the deep seafloor under all emission scenarios (medium confidence). The rate and magnitude of decline are projected to be highest in the tropics (high confidence), whereas impacts remain diverse in polar regions (medium confidence) and increase for high emission scenarios. Ocean acidification (medium confidence), oxygen loss (medium confidence) and reduced sea ice extent (medium confidence) as well as non-climatic human activities (medium confidence) have the potential to exacerbate these warming-induced ecosystem impacts. {3.2.3, 3.3.3, 5.2.2, 5.2.3, 5.2.4, 5.4.1, Figure SPM.3} B6. Risks of severe impacts on biodiversity, structure and function of coastal ecosystems are projected to be higher for elevated temperatures under high compared to low emissions scenarios in the 21st century and beyond. Projected ecosystem responses include losses of species habitat and diversity, and degradation of ecosystem functions. The capacity of organisms and ecosystems to adjust and adapt is higher at lower emissions scenarios (high confidence). For sensitive ecosystems such as seagrass meadows and kelp forests, high risks are projected if global warming exceeds 2°C above pre-industrial temperature, combined with other climate-related hazards (high confidence). Warm water corals are at high risk already and are projected to transition to very high risk even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C (very high confidence). {4.3.3, 5.3, 5.5, Figure SPM.3} Projected Risks for People and Ecosystem Services B7. Future cryosphere changes on land are projected to affect water resources and their uses, such as hydropower (high confidence) and irrigated agriculture in and downstream of high-mountain areas (medium confidence), as well as livelihoods in the Arctic (medium confidence). Changes in floods, avalanches, landslides, and ground destabilization are projected to increase risk for infrastructure, cultural, tourism, and recreational assets (medium confidence). {2.3, 2.3.1, 3.4.3} B8. Future shifts in fish distribution and decreases in their abundance and fisheries catch potential due to climate change are projected to affect income, livelihoods, and food security of marine resource-dependent communities (medium confidence). Long-term loss and degradation of marine ecosystems compromises the ocean's role in cultural, recreational, and intrinsic values important for human identity and well-being (medium confidence). {3.2.4, 3.4.3, 5.4.1, 5.4.2, 6.4}
5 B9. Increased mean and extreme sea level, alongside ocean warming and acidification, are projected to exacerbate risks for human communities in low-lying coastal areas (high confidence). In Arctic human communities without rapid land uplift, and in urban atoll islands, risks are projected to be moderate to high even under a low emissions scenario (RCP2.6) (medium confidence), including reaching adaptation limits (high confidence). Under a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5), delta regions and resource rich coastal cities are projected to experience moderate to high risk levels after 2050 under current adaptation (medium confidence). Ambitious adaptation including transformative governance is expected to reduce risk (high confidence), but with context-specific benefits. {4.3.3, 4.3.4, 6.9.2, Cross-chapter Box 9, SM4.3, Figure SPM.5} C. IMPLEMENTING RESPONSES TO OCEAN AND CRYOSPHERE CHANGE Challenges C1. Impacts of climate-related changes in the ocean and cryosphere increasingly challenge current governance efforts to develop and implement adaptation responses from local to global scales, and in some cases pushing them to their limits. People with the highest exposure and vulnerability are often those with lowest capacity to respond (high confidence). {1.5, 1.7, Cross-Chapter Boxes 2''3 of Chapter 1, 2.3.1, 2.3.2, 2.3.3, 2.4, 3.2.4, 3.4.3, 3.5.2, 3.5.3, 4.1, 4.3.3, 4.4.3, 5.5.2, 5.5.3, 6.9} Strengthening Response Options C2. The far-reaching services and options provided by ocean and cryosphere-related ecosystems can be supported by protection, restoration, precautionary ecosystem-based management of renewable resource use, and the reduction of pollution and other stressors (high confidence). Integrated water management (medium confidence) and ecosystem-based adaptation (high confidence) approaches lower climate risks locally and provide multiple societal benefits. However, ecological, financial, institutional and governance constraints for such actions exist (high confidence), and in many contexts ecosystem-based adaptation will only be effective under the lowest levels of warming (high confidence). {2.3.1, 2.3.3, 3.2.4, 3.5.2, 3.5.4, 4.4.2, 5.2.2, 5.4.2, 5.5.1, 5.5.2, Figure SPM.5} C3. Coastal communities face challenging choices in crafting context-specific and integrated responses to sea level rise that balance costs, benefits and trade-offs of available options and that can be adjusted over time (high confidence). All types of options, including protection, accommodation, ecosystem-based adaptation, coastal advance and retreat, wherever possible, can play important roles in such integrated responses (high confidence). {4.4.2, 4.4.3, 4.4.4, 6.9.1, Cross-Chapter Box 9; Figure SPM.5} Enabling Conditions C4. Enabling climate resilience and sustainable development depends critically on urgent and ambitious emissions reductions coupled with coordinated sustained and increasingly ambitious adaptation actions (very high confidence). Key enablers for implementing effective responses to climate-related changes in the ocean and cryosphere include intensifying cooperation and coordination among governing authorities across spatial scales and planning horizons. Education and climate literacy, monitoring and forecasting, use of all available knowledge sources, sharing of data, information and knowledge, finance, addressing social vulnerability and equity, and institutional support are also essential. Such investments enable capacity-building, social learning, and participation in context-specific adaptation, as well as the negotiation of trade-offs and realisation of co-benefits in reducing short-term risks and building
6 long-term resilience and sustainability. (high confidence) This report reflects the state of science for ocean and cryosphere for low levels of global warming (1.5°C), as also assessed in earlier IPCC and IPBES reports. {1.1, 1.5, 1.8.3, 2.3.1, 2.3.2, 2.4, Figure 2.7, 2.5, 3.5.2, 3.5.4, 4.4, 5.2.2, Box 5.3, 5.4.2, 5.5.2, 6.4.3, 6.5.3, 6.8, 6.9, Cross-Chapter Box 9, Figure SPM.5}
SURPRISE! The Official Escort for 16-Year-Old Global Warming 'Expert' Greta Thunberg Is a Leftist Hack Funded by George Soros Org. - Hide Out Now
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 21:36
6-year-old Greta Thunberg traveled by boat to the US from Sweden to lecture Americans on Global Warming.
The 16-year-old is an expert we are told.
Greta Thunberg told Americans, ''You're not trying hard enough!''Evidently Greta wants us to travel by boats to and from Europe. Greta is a media-created phenomenon.What the media does not tell you is who is behind this perky kid.
If you check out her photos young Greta is being escorted around the country by her handler '' far left activist Luisa-Marie Neubauer.
Luisa-Marie Neubauer is a 23-year-old German climate protection activist. In Germany, she is one of the main organizers of the School strike for climate movement, inspired by Greta Thunberg. She supports the implementation of Agenda 2030 in Germany and a climate policy that is compatible with the Paris Agreement. Neubauer is a member of Alliance 90/The Greens and the Green Youth. Luisa-Marie Neubauer belongs to a far left organization called ''ONE'' foundation. She tweeted about it last year. And ''ONE'' is financed by wealthy liberals including Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates and George Soros.
16 children, including Greta Thunberg, file landmark complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 11:36
NEW YORK, 23 September '' Sixteen child petitioners '' including Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Villase±or '' from 12 countries around the world today presented a landmark official complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to protest lack of government action on the climate crisis.
The child petitioners '' aged between 8 to 17 '' allege that Member States' failure to tackle the climate crisis constitutes a violation of child rights. They urge the independent body to order Member States to take action to protect children from the devastating impacts of climate change.
''Change needs to happen now if we are to avoid the worst consequences. The climate crisis is not just the weather. It means also, lack of food and lack of water, places that are unliveable and refugees because of it. It is scary,'' said Greta Thunberg.
The complaint was filed through the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a voluntary mechanism which allows children or adults on their behalf to appeal directly to the United Nations for help if a country that has ratified the Protocol fails to provide a remedy for a rights violation.
Announced at a press conference hosted at UNICEF Headquarters in New York, the complaint aims to inspire the urgent action needed to curb global heating and mitigate the impact of the climate crisis.
''Thirty years ago, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world's children by adopting the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Today, the world's children are holding the world accountable to that commitment,'' said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Charlotte Petri Gornitzka. ''We fully support children exercising their rights and taking a stand. Climate change will impact every single one of them. It's no wonder they are uniting to fight back.''
In addition to Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, and Alexandria Villase±or, the 14-year-old American climate activist, the 14 other child petitioners are from Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Marshall Islands, Nigeria, Palau, South Africa, Sweden, Tunisia and the United States. They are represented by global law firm Hausfeld LLP and Earthjustice.
UNICEF supports the child petitioners exercising their right to bring complaints via the communication procedure of the Third Optional Protocol. However, UNICEF is not a party to the complaint. UNICEF is neutral and plays no part in the adjudication process by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Notes to editors:
Download photo and video content from the press conference here:
About the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Adopted on 20 November 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international human rights treaty outlining the civil, economic, social, political and cultural rights of children - without discrimination of any kind. It is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. Complaints filed under the CRC's Third Optional Protocol are adjudicated upon by the Committee on the Rights of the Child '' a group of independent experts. The Committee is able to receive complaints from children, groups of children or their representatives against any State that has ratified the Protocol. The Committee is also able to launch investigations into grave or systematic violations. For more information about the convention, visit www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention.
UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.
Macron Slams Greta Thunberg After Teenage Activist Sues France Over Climate - But Leaves Out China | Zero Hedge
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 11:35
French President Emmanuel Macron slammed Greta Thunberg after the 16-year-old climate activist filed a legal complaint accusing five countries of inaction on global warming in violation of the 30-year-old UN Convention on the Rights of a Child. Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey.
Notably, she left out China - which is the world's worst polluter by total volume.
Good morning to everybody except China for being the biggest polluter in the world yet somehow escaping the wrath of Greta Thunberg
'-- Ashley StClair 🇺🇸 (@stclairashley) September 24, 2019After browbeating the UN for 'stealing her childhood' on Monday, Thunberg tweeted "Today at 11:30 I and 15 other children from around the world filed a legal complaint against 5 nations over the climate crisis through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child."
Thunberg's complaint calls out nations that have ratified the UN treaty, yet - according to her - have not upheld their obligations. And again, she's said nothing about pollution from China or India.
Maybe China is backing her so she can destroy other nations' industries so China gets what remains of Western manufacturing.
'-- Texarkana Fed 🇺🇸 (@TexarkanaFed) September 24, 2019Are the Greta Thunburg handlers going to take her over to our pals in China next? #HowDareYou pic.twitter.com/WPFMv9gZDm
'-- |01101010| (@skidmarkymarkk) September 24, 2019In response to the Swedish activist, French President Emmanuel Macron told Eruope1 that her stance was "very radical" and likely to "antagonize societies."
"All the movements of our youth '-- or our not-so-young '-- are helpful," said Macron, adding "But they must now focus on those who are furthest away, those who are seeking to block the way."
The head of state stressed that he didn't feel "that the French government nor the German government, currently, were blocking the way."
Macron also said he wanted young people to "help us put pressure on those who are blocking the way" and to "partake in very clear action." -Business Insider
President Trump, meanwhile, appears to be having fun with the whole thing.
She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see! https://t.co/1tQG6QcVKO
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2019
(47) Dinesh D'Souza on Twitter: "Children'--notably Nordic white girls with braids and red cheeks'--were often used in Nazi propaganda. An old Goebbels technique! Looks like today's progressive Left is still learning its game from an earlier Left in the
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 03:50
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Climate Industrial Complex Financiers Cash in on Greta Thunberg
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 00:37
Over the weekend, climate change activists associated with teen Greta Thunberg's Climate Strike movement took to the streets, demanding "action" on climate. On Monday, climate activists tried to "Shut Down DC," resulting in more carbon emissions as cars stall in worse traffic. Even climate activists have denounced the Climate Strike manifesto as extreme and useless, but Thunberg herself may be very useful to a certain type of climate financier.
Standpoint magazine's Dominic Green revealed the corporate financiers and the Climate-Industrial Complex that stands to gain from Thunberg's activism.
"The Greta phenomenon has also involved green lobbyists, PR hustlers, eco-academics, and a think-tank founded by a wealthy ex-minister in Sweden's Social Democratic government with links to the country's energy companies. These companies are preparing for the biggest bonanza of government contracts in history: the greening of the Western economies. Greta, whether she and her parents know it or not, is the face of their political strategy," he wrote.
Thunberg became a viral sensation on August 20, 2018, when she launched a one-girl "school strike" at the Swedish parliament. Ingmar Rentzhog, founder of the social media platform We Have No Time, happened to be passing by, or so the story goes. Rentzhog posted Thunberg's photo on his Facebook page and the newspaper Dagens Nyheter picked up the story.
Yet the Swedish teen's viral moment was far more orchestrated than this official version of events. While Rentzhog insisted that he "did not know Greta or Greta's parents" before the Parliament protest, he later admitted to meeting Thunberg's mother, Malena Ernman, "3-4 months before everything started." He had shared a stage with Ernman at the Climate Parliament conference. He was also tipped off about the teen's protest at the Swedish parliament '-- informed "the week before" by climate activist Bo Thor(C)n, leader of the Fossil Free Dalsland group.
In February 2018, Thor(C)n and other activists strategized about getting young people involved. In May, after Thunberg took second prize in an environmental op-ed writing competition, Thor(C)n approached the competition winners with a plan for a "school strike" '-- modeled after the gun control protest after the shootings in Parkland, Fla. Only Thunberg was interested.
The teen's decision to launch the protest coincided with the publication of Scenes from the Heart, her parents' memoir about how climate activism had saved their family. Svante Thunberg, the teen's father, is an actor, and Ernman is an opera singer. Their prominence made their teen daughter an ideal face for the climate movement.
As Green noted, Rentzhog "combined Thor(C)n's plan and Malena Ernman's musical fame with Greta's uncanny charisma and We Have No Time's mailing list, he turned Greta into a viral celebrity."
The man who launched Greta Thunberg was trained by Al Gore:
Trained by Al Gore's Climate Reality Project, Rentzhog set up We Don't Have Time in late 2017 to ''hold leaders and companies accountable for climate change'' by leveraging ''the power of social media''. Rentzhog and his CEO David Olsson have backgrounds in finance, not environmental activism, Rentzhog as the founder of Laika, an investment relations company, and Olsson with Svenska Bostadsfonden, one of Sweden's biggest real estate funds, whose board Rentzhog joined in June 2017. We Don't Have Time's investors included Gustav Stenbeck, whose family control Kinnevik, one of Sweden's largest investment corporations.In May 2018, Rentzhog and Olsson became chairman and board member of Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), a climate think tank. Kristina Persson, Global Challenge's founder, is an heir to an industrial fortune, a career trade unionist, and a Social Democrat politician. She previously served as deputy governor of Sweden's central bank.
Labor leaders hold board positions at the think tank, as does Catharina Nystedt Ringborg, former CEO of Swedish Water, advisor at the International Energy Agency, and former vice president at the Swedish-Swiss energy company ABB. Ringbord is also a member of green energy venture capital firm Sustainable Energy Angels, which counts a who's who of the Swedish energy sector among its members.
When Greta met Rentzhog, he was the salaried chairman of a private think-tank owned by an ex-Social Democrat minister with a background in the energy sector. His board was stacked with powerful sectoral interests, including career Social Democrats, major union leaders, and lobbyists with links to Brussels. And his board's vice-chair was a member of one of Sweden's most powerful green energy investment groups.Green admitted that Thunberg and her parents "probably did not know this." Yet he added that Ernman and Rentzhog signed an op-ed in Dagens Nyheter calling for "bottom-up" action against national governments to fight climate change. Heiress Persson and three other Global Challenge board members signed the op-ed, but cited other affiliations.
Rentzhog later explained that "many of us involved in Global Challenge were also involved" in the op-ed. He also admitted showing Ernman "the article and the other signatures, but not their titles for Global Challenge."
Thunberg's father denied any connection to We Have No Time or Global Challenge. Yet the teen activist served on We Have No Time's advisory board between November 2018 and January 2019, and '-- as noted above '-- Ernman signed the letter with four Global Challenge board members.
In December 2018, We Have No Time and Global Challenge launched the Climate Emergency Plan. Anders Wijkman, president of the anti-growth group Club of Rome, which collaborated with the other groups to launch the project, told Green that Thunberg was invited to the launch event, but declined because she was already booked to deliver a TED Talk.
The Climate Emergency Plan pushes the same narrative as Thunberg. Wijkman claimed the teen activist has been "instrumental" to getting young people involved in the climate movement. "She has been a lightning rod or catalyst of this." He also said Rentzhog was essential to Thunberg's rise.
In January, Rentzhog and We Have No Time used Thunberg's face and story in promotional materials. Rentzhog claimed the family knew, but Thunberg and her parents insisted they did not. They announced their association with the financier-turned-activist was over, a curious statement given the father's insistence that the family never associated with him in the first place.
"Whatever Greta or her parents know or think, her eco-mob increases the likelihood of legislation and investment that will make colossal profits for people like Global Challenge, We Don't Have Time and Sustainable Energy Angels," Green concluded. "For Sweden's energy titans, saving the planet means government contracts to print the green stuff."
"Green energy lobbyists use populist scare tactics and a children's crusade to bypass elected representatives, but their goal is technocracy not democracy, profit not redistribution. Greta, a child of woke capitalism, is being used to ease the transition to green corporatism," he wrote.
In January, Myron Ebell, director at the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), told PJ Media that the climate crisis "has been manufactured in order to create a huge climate-industrial complex that can command the redistribution of colossal amounts of money."
"There is a huge climate-industrial complex benefitting from this, but it's not reducing emissions," he said.
Under President Barack Obama, the government directed millions to the solar panel company Solyndra. The federal government offered $535 million in low-cost loan guarantees, and the company went belly-up. Senior executives collected hefty bonuses in the months before the company filed for bankruptcy.
Climate change activists like Greta Thunberg are likely motivated by the purest of intentions, but that doesn't mean the Swedish financiers who helped her launch her Climate Strike movement won't cash out if she convinces governments to "go green." The Climate-Industrial Complex stands to gain a great deal from climate alarmism.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.
Cleaning up bad bots (and the climate)
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 17:12
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September 23, 2019 1:00PM
From the very beginning Cloudflare has been stopping malicious bots from scraping websites, or misusing APIs. Over time we've improved our bot detection methods and deployed large machine learning models that are able to distinguish real traffic (be it from humans or apps) from malicious bots. We've also built a large catalog of good bots to detect things like helpful indexing by search engines.
But it's not enough. Malicious bots continue to be a problem on the Internet and we've decided to fight back. From today customers have the option of enabling ''bot fight mode'' in the Firewall settings of their Cloudflare Dashboard.
Once enabled, when we detect a bad bot, we will do three things: (1) we're going to disincentivize the bot maker economically by tarpitting them, including requiring them to solve a computationally intensive challenge that will require more of their bot's CPU; (2) for Bandwidth Alliance partners, we're going to hand the IP of the bot to the partner and get the bot kicked offline; and (3) we're going to plant trees to make up for the bot's carbon cost.
Malicious bots harm legitimate web publishers and applications, hurt hosting providers by misusing resources, and they doubly hurt the planet through the cost of electricity for servers and cooling for their bots and their victims.
Enough is enough. Our goal is nothing short of making it no longer viable to run a malicious bot on the Internet. And we think, with our scale, we can do exactly that.
How Cloudflare Detects BotsCloudflare's secret sauce (ok, not very secret sauce) is our vast scale. We currently handle traffic for over 20 million Internet properties ranging from the smallest personal web sites, through backend APIs for popular apps and IoT devices, to some of the best known names on the Internet (including 10% of the Fortune 1000).
This scale gives us a huge advantage in that we see an enormous amount and variety of traffic allowing us to build large machine learning models of Internet behavior. That scale and variety allows us to test new rules and models quickly and easily.
Our bot detection breaks down into four large components:
Identification of well known legitimate bots;Hand written rules for simple bots that, however simple, get used day in, day out;Our Bot Activity Detector model that spots the behavior of bots based on past traffic and blocks them; andOur Trusted Client model that spots whether an HTTP User-Agent is what it says it is.In addition, Gatebot, our DDoS mitigation system, fingerprints DDoS bots and blocks their traffic at the packet level. Beyond Gatebot, customers also have access to our Firewall Rules where they can write granular rules to block very specific attack types.
Another model allows us to determine whether an IP address belongs to a VPN endpoint, a home broadband subscriber, a company using NAT or a hosting or cloud provider. It's this last group that ''Bot Cleanup'' targets.
Today, Cloudflare challenges over 3 billion bot requests per day. Some of those bots are about to have a really bad time.
How Cloudflare Fights BotsThe cost of launching a bot attack consists of the expense of CPU time that powers the attack. If our models show that the traffic is coming from a bot, and it's on a hosting or a cloud provider, we'll deploy CPU intensive code to make the bot writer expend more CPU and slow them down. By forcing the attacker to use more CPU, we increase their costs during an attack and deter future ones.
This is one of the many so-called "tarpitting" techniques we're now deploying across our network to change the economics of running a malicious bot. Malicious bot operators be warned: if you target resources behind Cloudflare's IP space we're going to make you spin your wheels.
Every minute we tie malicious bots up is a minute they're not harming the Internet as a whole. This means we aren't just protecting our customers but everyone online currently terrorized by malicious bots. The spirit of Cloudflare's Birthday Week has always been about giving back to the Internet as a whole, and we can think of no better gift than ridding the Internet of malicious bots.
Beyond just wasting bots time we want to also get them shut down. If the infrastructure provider hosting the bot is part of the Bandwidth Alliance, we'll share the bot's IP address so they can shutdown the bot completely. The Bandwidth Alliance allows us to reduce transit costs with partners and, with this launch, also helps us work together with them to make the Internet safer for legitimate users.
Generally, everyone we ran Bot Fight Mode by thought it was a great idea. The only objection we heard was that as we start forcing bots to solve CPU intensive challenges in the short term, before they just give up '-- which we think is inevitable in the long term '-- we may raise carbon emissions. To combat those emissions we're committed to estimating the extra CPU utilized by these bots, calculating their carbon cost, and then planting trees to compensate and build a better future.
Planting TreesDealing with climate change requires multiple efforts by people and companies. Cloudflare announced earlier this year that we had expanded our purchasing of Renewable Energy Certificates (that previously covered our North American operations) to our entire global network of 194 cities.
To figure out how much tree planting we need to do we need to calculate the cost of the extra CPU used when making a bot work hard. Here's how that will work.
Using a figure of 450 kg CO2/year (from https://www.goclimateneutral.org/blog/the-carbon-footprint-of-servers/) for the types of server that a bad bot might use (cloud server using a non-renewable energy source) we get about 8kg CO2/year per CPU core. We are able to measure the time bots spend burning CPU and so we can directly estimate the amount of CO2 emitted by our fight back.
According to One Tree Planted, a single mature tree can absorb about 21kg CO2/year. So, very roughly, each tree can absorb a year's worth of CO2 from 2.5 CPU cores.
Since trees take time to mature and the scale of the climate change challenge we're going to pay to overplant trees. For every tree that we calculate we'd need to plant to sequester the CO2 emissions from fighting bots we're going to donate $25 to One Tree Planted to plant 25 trees.
And, of course, we'll be handing the IPs of bad bots to our Bandwidth Alliance partners to get the bots shut down and remove their carbon cost completely. In the past, the tech community has largely defeated email spammers and DDoS-for-hire services by making their efforts fruitless, we think this is the right strategy to now defeat malicious bots once and for all.
Who Do Bots Hurt?Malicious bots can cause significant harm to our customers' infrastructure and often result in bad experiences for our customers' users.
For example, a recent customer was being crippled by a credential stuffing attack that not only was attempting to compromise their users' accounts but was doing so in such significant volume that it was effectively causing a small scale Denial of Service on all aspects of the customer's website.
The malicious bot was overloading the customer's conventional threat prevention infrastructure and we rapidly onboarded them as an Under Attack customer. As a part of the onboarding, we identified that the attack could be specifically thwarted using our Bot Management product while not impacting any legitimate user traffic.
Another trend we have seen is the increase of the combination of bots with botnets, particularly in the world of inventory hoarding bots. The motivation and willingness to spend for these bot operators is quite high.
The targets are goods of generally of limited supply and high in demand and in value. Think sneakers, concert tickets, airline seats, and popular short run Broadway musicals. Bot operators who are able to purchase those items at retail can charge massive premiums in aftermarket sales. When the operator identifies a target site, such as an ecommerce retailer, and a specific item, such as a new pair of sneakers going on sale, they can purchase time on the new Residential Proxy as a Service market to gain access to end user machines and (relatively) clean IPs from which to launch their attack.
They then utilize sophisticated techniques and triggers to change characteristics of the machine, network, and software they use to generate the attack through a very wide array of options and combinations, thwarting systems that rely on repetition or known patterns. This type of attack hurts multiple targets as well: the ecommerce site has real frustrated users who can't purchase the in demand item. The real users who are losing out on inventory to an attacker who is just there to skim off the largest profit possible. And the unwitting users who are part of the botnet have their resources, such as their home broadband connection, used without their consent or knowledge.
The bottom line is that bots hurt companies and their customers.
SummaryCloudflare has fought malicious bots from the very beginning and over time has deployed more and more sophisticated methods to block them. Using the power of the over 20 million Internet properties we protect and accelerate and our visibility of networks and users around the world we have build machine learning models that sort the bots from the good and block the bad.
But bots continue to be a problem and our new bot fight mode will directly disincentive bot writers from attacking customers. At the same time we don't want to contribute to climate change and are offsetting the carbon cost of bots by planting trees to absorb carbon and help build a better future (and Internet).
Birthday Week Product News Bots SecurityRelated Posts
September 24, 2019 1:01PM
Inside the Web Browser's Performance API Building a beautiful, feature-rich website is easier than ever before. Not long ago, you'd have to fire up a text editor and hand-craft a lot of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Today, you can use WYSIWYG tools and third-party libraries that make development much simpler....
By September 24, 2019 1:00PM
Introducing Browser Insights Speed matters. We know that when your website or app gets faster, users have a better experience and you get more conversions and more revenue. At Cloudflare, we spend our days obsessing about speed and building new features to squeeze out as much performance as possible....
By September 22, 2019 7:00PM
Welcome to Birthday Week 2019 September has always been a special month for Cloudflare. Nine years ago '-- on September 27th '-- we launched Cloudflare. And, each year since, we've celebrated our birthday with a week full of new products and innovations that support our mission of helping to build a better Internet....
By October 18, 2018 5:00PM
Encrypt that SNI: Firefox edition A couple of weeks ago we announced support for the encrypted Server Name Indication (SNI) TLS extension (ESNI for short). As promised, our friends at Mozilla landed support for ESNI in Firefox Nightl....
(2) Roderick Veelo on Twitter: "Indien uw mening leidt tot onenigheid, ruzie zelfs of verdeeldheid. https://t.co/6EyU9nYJOR" / Twitter
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 22:11
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War on Guns
BREAKING..: Potential threat to the movie opening of Joker'
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 15:23
Any of you guys heard of this. Just got this text from a coworker..
Posts on social media have made reference to involuntary celibate (''incel'') extremists replicating the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, at screenings of the Joker movie at nationwide theaters. This presents a potential risk though there are no known specific credible threats to the opening of the Joker on 4 October.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 24 9 hours ago ...link?
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 1 09/18/2019 Thank you OP, I didn't know what incel actually meant.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 2 09/18/2019 I did not like Heath Ledger in his role as ''Joker''.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 3 09/18/2019 I don't watch comic book bullshit, let me know when the incels threaten Cate Blanchett movies.
Offsite Linkby must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 4 09/18/2019 r4, they just down-vote her movies, sight unseen, on IMDb.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 5 09/18/2019 I've never seen a movie get as much advance bad press as this one.
I'm very curious as whether this will hurt or help the box office.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 6 09/18/2019 I wouldn't be caught dead at The Joker in theaters and if you go you might be.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 7 09/18/2019 You'd think Incels would want lots of people to go to and from The Joker, so everyone can see just how tough it is to be a lonely, lonesome, celibate white man.
And what happens when lonely, lonesome, celibate white men are pushed TOO FAR!11!
It just proves, those bitches would all finish in about four seconds. Pathetic.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 8 09/18/2019 Only hater worse than an incel is a Cate Blanchett hater. You r4.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 9 09/18/2019 There was that one guy who opened fire in an Amy Schumer movie, so really what's safe these days? Once more, what does it matter? Someone could open fire in a Pixar movie and kill hundreds of kids and it wouldn't change a goddamn thing in this country. If nothing was done after Sandy Hook, nothing will be done at all.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 10 09/18/2019 R10 The Joker is incel, from what I gather.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 11 09/18/2019 R10 is right, as long as them can keep their guns and pound their daughters not shit gonna be done.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 12 09/18/2019 [Quote] I've never seen a movie get as much advance bad press as this one.
I thought it was getting good reviews??
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 13 09/18/2019 Dunno where OP got that "alert" but the only result for it in a search is this post.
Sounds loke Dvida and one of her fake news posts again to be honest.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 14 09/18/2019 US Army warns about possible mass shootings by incels at 'Joker' screenings
The US Army issued a warning about the possibility of mass shootings at upcoming screenings of ''Joker,'' according to a new report.
In a widely distributed email on Sept. 18 marked ''For official use only,'' officials reminded service members to ''identify two escape routes'' and to ''run, hide, fight'' in the event of a shooting, Gizmodo reported.
''Run if you can,'' the message said. ''If you're stuck, hide (also known as 'sheltering in place'), and stay quiet. If a shooter finds you, fight with whatever you can.''
On Tuesday, the Army confirmed to Gizmodo that it issued the warning in light of social media posts from ''incel'' extremists that were flagged by the FBI.
The email to service members explained that incels ''idolize the Joker character, the violent clown from the Batman series, admiring his depiction as a man who must pretend to be happy, but eventually fights back against bullies.''
An Army spokesperson said the message was routine.
''We want our workforce to be prepared and diligent on personal safety both inside the workplace and out,'' the rep said.
In another memo Monday, top officials of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division said it received ''credible'' intelligence from law enforcement in Texas about ''disturbing and very specific chatter'' on the dark web about ''the targeting of an unknown movie theater during the release.''
''Joker,'' starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, premieres Oct. 4 '-- and has already sparked concerns of movie theater violence.
US Army warns about possible mass shootings by incels at 'Joker' screeningsThe US Army issued a warning about the possibility of mass shootings at upcoming screenings of ''Joker,'' according to a new report. In a widely distributed email on Sept. 18 marked &#822'...
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 15 Yesterday at 9:42 AM This is relatively old news and has been discussed ad nauseam on sites like IGN, CNET, and the big Youtube sites that focus on comic con geekdom topics.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 16 Yesterday at 9:47 AM This feels like a plot by Disney, they feel threatened by the fact that the joker movie could make DC's first real success in years. They saw what happened with Aquaman and are terrified that DC is finally catching up to this success of Marvel. Something smells fishy.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 17 Yesterday at 9:53 AM [quote]They saw what happened with Aquaman and are terrified that DC is finally catching up to this success of Marvel. Something smells fishy.
Aquaman only hit $1.14 b; Wonder Woman $825 mm; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: $873 mm; Shazam: $364 mm
Spider Man Far From Home: $1.13 b; Avengers Endgame: $2.78 b; Captain Marvel: $1.12 b; Ant Man and the Wasp: $622mm
I don't think Disney is losing any sleep.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 18 Yesterday at 10:02 AM Offsite Linkby must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 19 21 hours ago Could someone send Megan McCain Free tickets .
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 20 21 hours ago I don't think this is a Disney/Marvel plot, but if it is, I applaud the evil PR genius who came up with it! Brilliant thinking, the kind every Datalounger wishes they could pull off in real life!
But no, I think this is just a case of a movie studio totally misreading the public mood. The studios have been thinking that just about anything with a comic book origin will make money, even if it's total crap like the DCEU movies. So as far as the suits who okayed this were concerned when they okayed the film, it's just another comic book movie, maybe a bit more prestigious than some because it's got a dark tone and a prestige actor. But in the time between the greenlight and the upcoming release, there have been mass shootings and an ever-increasing rumble of worry about the incels and other online communities of potentially violent nutcases. People are scared, political groups such as the NRA are devoted to making them scared-er, and the public is in no fucking mood for an anti-hero who can't deal with his problems without turning to violence.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 21 21 hours ago You all are such tools. This is a marketing scam so the movie gets more publicity.
I suppose you think those two "Martians" at the top of the Empire State Building were real.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 22 19 hours ago I am interested by the stark divide among many reviewers. I got the sense that some critics were almost nervous to give it a positive review because they didn't want to be seen as promoting nihilism or white male victim complex or something. What I want to know is if a movie is in fact good, not whether it's right or wrong morally. There's too much moralism in movie reviews nowadays. Every review of a film by a controversial director seems to start off with two paragraphs rambling about how the director is a bad person. In any case, I won't be seeing it the 1st week it's released. Not because I'm nervous about any threat but because I hate crowds and noisy audiences.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 23 9 hours ago R23 Save your money, stay home and watch The King Of Comedy on Amazon Prime. Joker pretty much lifted its whole plot and threw a few comic references in there and branded it as something ''different'', so you'll get the same effect.
by must've been disseminated by rival studio reply 24 9 hours ago
Sunday Overnights: 2019 Emmy Awards Tumble to an Historical Low - Programming Insider
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 13:35
Sunday, September 22, 2019
Household Ratings/ShareNBC: 9.8/17, CBS: 5.8/10, Fox: 5.3/ 9, ABC: 2.4/ 4, CW: 0.4/ 1
Percent Change from the Year-Ago Evening:Fox: +194, CBS: +149, NBC: +26, ABC: -35
Ratings Breakdown:Given the outlet this year, Fox, there was every reason to expect year-to-year erosion for the ''Primetime Emmy Awards'' versus NBC in 2018. But a 5.8 rating/10 share in households from 8-11 p.m., which was 26 percent below the 7.8/13 for the year-ago telecast, could be a record low for the annual live telecast. One reason for the erosion is the lack of wins for the broadcast networks, with only two last night (both for NBC's ''Saturday Night Live''). For more, click here
Tops for the night was the Lois Angeles Rams at the Cleveland Browns on NBC's ''Sunday Night Football'' at an estimated 12.6/23 in primetime. Football also gave CBS a boost, with its primetime schedule beginning at 7:47 p.m. ET on the East Coast.
Elsewhere, ABC featured the season finale installments of game shows ''The $100,000 Pyramid'' (#4: 2.5/ 4 at 9 p.m.) and ''To Tell the Truth'' (#3: 2.0/ 4 at 10 p.m.), which were both negatively impacted by the heavy competition. And The CW was in repeats as follows:
7:00 p.m.ABC '' ''America's Funniest Home Videos'' (R): 2.3/ 4 (#3)CBS '' NFL overrun: 13.9/26 (#1)NBC '' Football Night in America (part 1): 1.5/ 3 (#4)Fox ''Live Emmy Red Carpet Arrivals: 5.1/10 (#2)
7:30 p.m.ABC '' ''America's Funniest Home Videos'' (R): 2.7/ 5 (#4)CBS '' NFL / ''60 Minutes'' (R): 10.1/18 (#1)NBC '' Football Night in America (part 2): 3.9/ 7 (#3)Fox ''Live Emmy Red Carpet Arrivals: 3.4/ 6 (#3)
8:00 p.m.ABC '' ''Celebrity Family Feud'': 2.7/ 5 (#4)CBS '' ''60 Minutes'' (R): 7.4/13 (#2)NBC '' Football Night in America (part 3): 10.2/18 (#1)Fox '' ''The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards'': 5.7/10 (#3)CW '' ''Penn & Teller: Fool Us'' (R): 0.4/ 1 (#5)
8:30 p.m.ABC '' ''Celebrity Family Feud'': 2.7/ 4 (#4)CBS '' ''60 Minutes'' (R) / ''Big Brother'': 5.1/ 8 (#3)NBC '' Sunday Night Football (Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns): 12.0/21 (#1)Fox '' ''The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards'': 5.7/10 (#2)CW '' ''Penn & Teller: Fool Us'' (R): 0.5/ 1 (#5)
9:00 p.m.ABC '' ''The $100,000 Pyramid'' (season finale): 2.5/ 4 (#4)CBS '' ''Big Brother'': 3.5/ 6 (#3)NBC '' Sunday Night Football (Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns): 13.3/23 (#1)Fox '' ''The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards'': 5.9/10 (#2)CW '' ''Masters of Illusion'' (R): 0.4/ 1 (#5)
9:30 p.m.ABC '' ''The $100,000 Pyramid'' (season finale): 2.4/ 4 (#4)CBS '' ''Big Brother'' / ''NCIS: Los Angeles'' (R): 2.7/ 4 (#3)NBC '' Sunday Night Football (Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns): 12.8/22 (#1)Fox '' ''The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards'': 5.8/10 (#2)CW '' ''Masters of Illusion'' (R): 0.3/ 1 (#5)
10:00 p.m.ABC '' ''To Tell the Truth'' (season finale): 2.0/ 4 (#4)CBS '' ''NCIS: New Orleans'' (R) / Madam Secretary'': 2.3/ 4 (#3)NBC '' Sunday Night Football (Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns): 13.3/24 (#1)Fox '' ''The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards'': 5.7/10 (#2)
10:30 p.m.ABC '' ''To Tell the Truth'' (season finale): 2.0/ 4 (#3t)CBS '' ''Madam Secretary'': 2.0/ 4 (#3t)NBC '' Sunday Night Football (Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns): 12.7/24 (#1)Fox '' ''The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards'': 5.6/10 (#2)
If You're LGBTQ+ and Don't Know About October 8th, Pay Attention
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 12:26
The Supreme Court will hear three cases about whether Title VII protects LGBTQ+ people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
July 29 2019 9:46 AM EDT
Chase Strangio, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union known for representing Gavin Grimm and Chelsea Manning in court, tweeted something urgent over the weekend.
''If you don't know what is happening on October 8th I urge you to find out,'' Strangio posted on Sunday. ''It will be one of the biggest days in LGBTQ legal history and we have a lot to do to prepare. Our fight is at SCOTUS. Our lives on the line. Don't look away.''
If you don't know what is happening on October 8th I urge you to find out. It will be one of the biggest days in LGBTQ legal history and we have a lot to do to prepare. Our fight is at SCOTUS. Our lives on the line. Don't look away.
'-- Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) July 28, 2019
In case you don't know what he's talking about, Strangio's referring to the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments on three separate court cases that involve anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace and whether such discrimination is prohibited under existing federal law, as The Washington Blade reported earlier this month.
Although about half of all LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. are protected from employment discrimination at the state level, no such protections exist at the federal level. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act expressly ''prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin,'' and ''sex'' in this clause has long been understood to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. But the Trump administration has sought to ignore this, pushing to more narrowly define sex as binary, assigned at birth, and totally immutable.
The three cases arriving on the Supreme Court's doorstep this October aim to reverse the Trump administration's course, establishing that existing federal protections against sex-based discrimination cover discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, as well. Zarda v. Altitude Express concerns a late skydiving instructor who was fired on account of being gay, while Bostock v. Clayton County concerns a municipal worker who experienced anti-gay discrimination while working in city government. The two cases have been consolidated into one single case that aims to determine whether Title VII's prohibitions around sex-based discrimination cover sexual orientation-based discrimination. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, which concerns a funeral home worker who was terminated for being trans, similarly hopes to decide whether gender identity-based discrimination is a form of sex-based discrimination.
Anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination will continue in the workplace, however the Supreme Court rules on these cases. But this kind of precedent would offer legal recourse for queer and trans workers when it does '-- and hopefully dissuade homophobic and transphobic employers from future discrimination if they know they might face consequences for it.
How will these cases turn out? We'll just have to wait and see this fall.
RELATED | Trans People in North Carolina Just Got a Major Federal Victory
Billy Porter celebrates historic Emmy win with night's moving speech (VIDEO).
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 04:26
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Why Mattel Is Releasing the First Gender-Neutral Doll | Time
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 15:19
A child opens a box. He starts jumping and screaming with joy'--not an unusual sound in the halls of Mattel's headquarters where researchers test new toys. But this particular toy is a doll, and it's rare for parents to bring boys into these research groups to play with dolls. It's rarer still for a boy to immediately attach himself to one the way Shi'a just did.
An 8-year-old who considers himself gender fluid and whose favorite color is black one week, pink the next, Shi'a sometimes plays with his younger sister's dolls at home, but they're ''girly, princess stuff,'' he says dismissively. This doll, with its prepubescent body and childish features, looks more like him, right down to the wave of bleached blond bangs. ''The hair is just like mine,'' Shi'a says, swinging his head in tandem with the doll's. Then he turns to the playmate in the toy-testing room, a 7-year-old girl named Jhase, and asks, ''Should I put on the girl hair?'' Shi'a fits a long, blond wig on the doll's head, and suddenly it is no longer an avatar for him but for his sister.
The doll can be a boy, a girl, neither or both, and Mattel, which calls this the world's first gender-neutral doll, is hoping its launch on Sept. 25 redefines who gets to play with a toy traditionally deemed taboo for half the world's kids. Carefully manicured features betray no obvious gender: the lips are not too full, the eyelashes not too long and fluttery, the jaw not too wide. There are no Barbie-like breasts or broad, Ken-like shoulders. Each doll in the Creatable World series looks like a slender 7-year-old with short hair, but each comes with a wig of long, lustrous locks and a wardrobe befitting any fashion-conscious kid: hoodies, sneakers, graphic T-shirts in soothing greens and yellows, along with tutus and camo pants.
Mattel's first promotional spot for the $29.99 product features a series of kids who go by various pronouns'--him, her, them, xem'--and the slogan ''A doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in.'' With this overt nod to trans and nonbinary identities, the company is betting on where it thinks the country is going, even if it means alienating a substantial portion of the population. A Pew Research survey conducted in 2017 showed that while 76% of the public supports parents' steering girls to toys and activities traditionally associated with boys, only 64% endorse steering boys toward toys and activities associated with girls.
For years, millennial parents have pushed back against ''pink aisles'' and ''blue aisles'' in toy stores in favor of gender-neutral sections, often in the name of exposing girls to the building blocks and chemistry kits that foster interest in science and math but are usually categorized as boys' toys. Major toy sellers have listened, thanks to the millennial generation's unrivaled size, trend-setting ability and buying power. Target eliminated gender-specific sections in 2015. The same year, Disney banished ''boys'' and ''girls'' labels from its children's costumes, inviting girls to dress as Captain America and boys as Belle. Last year, Mattel did away with ''boys'' and ''girls'' toy divisions in favor of nongendered sections: dolls or cars, for instance.
But the Creatable World doll is something else entirely. Unlike model airplanes or volcano kits, dolls have faces like ours, upon which we can project our own self-image and anxieties. Mattel tested the doll with 250 families across seven states, including 15 children who identify as trans, gender-nonbinary or gender-fluid and rarely see themselves reflected in the media, let alone their playthings. ''There were a couple of gender-creative kids who told us that they dreaded Christmas Day because they knew whatever they got under the Christmas tree, it wasn't made for them,'' says Monica Dreger, head of consumer insights at Mattel. ''This is the first doll that you can find under the tree and see is for them because it can be for anyone.''
The population of young people who identify as gender-nonbinary is growing. Though no large surveys have been done of kids younger than 10, a recent study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that 27% of California teens identify as gender-nonconforming. And a 2018 Pew study found 35% of Gen Z-ers (born 1995 to 2015) say they personally know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns like they and them, compared with just 16% of Gen X-ers (born 1965 to 1980). The patterns are projected to continue with Generation Alpha, born in 2010 and later. Those kids, along with boys who want to play with dolls and girls who identify as ''tomboys'' and don't gravitate toward fashion doll play, are an untapped demographic. Mattel currently has 19% market share in the $8 billion doll industry; gaining just 1 more point could translate into $80 million in revenue for the company.
Mattel sees an even broader potential for Creatable World beyond gender-creative kids. In testing, the company found that Generation Alpha children chafed at labels and mandates no matter their gender identity: They didn't want to be told whom a toy was designed for or how to play with it. They were delighted with a doll that had no name and could transform and adapt according to their whims.
Shi'a, left, and Jhase play with Mattel's gender-neutral doll
Photograph by Angie Smith for TIME.
But it's parents who are making the purchasing decisions, and no adult is going to have a neutral reaction to this doll. In testing groups, several parents felt the ''gender-neutral'' branding of the toy pushed a political agenda, and some adults objected to the notion of their sons ever playing with dolls. Mattel's President Richard Dickson insists the doll isn't intended as a statement. ''We're not in the business of politics,'' he says, ''and we respect the decision any parent makes around how they raise their kids. Our job is to stimulate imaginations. Our toys are ultimately canvases for cultural conversation, but it's your conversation, not ours; your opinion, not ours.''
Yet even offering customers that blank canvas will be seen as political in a country where gender-neutral bathrooms still stir protests. Mattel joins a cohort of other companies that have chosen a side in a divisive political climate. Just in the past two years, Nike launched a campaign starring Colin Kaepernick after the NFL dropped him from the league for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism. Airbnb offered free housing to people displaced in the face of President Trump's travel ban. Dick's Sporting Goods stopped selling assault-style weapons after the Parkland shooting. All these companies have reported eventual sales bumps after staking their claim in the culture wars.
When pressed with these examples, Dickson admits that staying neutral is not an option if you want to be perceived as an innovator. ''I think being a company today, you have to have a combination of social justice along with commerce, and that balance can be tricky,'' Dickson says. ''Not everyone will appreciate you or agree with you.''
In fact, dissent among boomers, Gen X-ers and even millennials may be a positive sign, according to Mattel's own researchers. ''If all the parents who saw the dolls said, 'This is what we've been waiting for,' we wouldn't be doing our jobs,'' says Dreger. ''That would mean this should have already been in the market. So we're maybe a little behind where kids are, ahead of where parents are, and that's exactly where we need to be.''
Walking into Mattel's headquarters, it's difficult to imagine a gender-neutral world of play. A huge mural depicts some of the company's most recognizable toys. A classic bouffanted version of Barbie in a black-and-white bathing suit and heels squints down at visitors. In another picture close by, a little boy puffs out his chest and rips open his shirt, Superman style, to reveal a red Mattel logo that reads ''Strength and Excellence.'' Even a toddler would be able to discern the messaging on how a woman and a man are expected to look from these images.
But the evolution within Mattel is obvious once visitors make their way past the entryway and into the designers' cubicles. Inspiration boards are covered with pictures of boys in skirts and girls in athletic gear. The most striking images are mashups of popular teen stars: the features of Camila Mendes and Cole Sprouse, who play Veronica and Jughead on Riverdale, combine to create one androgynous face, and Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard, who play the main characters on Stranger Things, blend into a single floppy-haired, genderless person with sharp cheekbones.
In the past decade, toy companies have begun to tear down gender barriers. Smaller businesses like GoldieBlox, which launched in 2012 and builds engineering toys targeting girls, and large companies like Lego, which created the female-focused Lego Friends line the same year, have made STEM toys for girls more mainstream. Small independent toymakers have pushed things further with dollhouses painted green and yellow instead of purple and pink, or cooking kits that are entirely white instead of decorated with flowers or butterflies.
Perhaps it's surprising, then, that nobody has beaten Mattel to creating a gender-neutral doll. A deep Google search for such a toy turns up baby dolls or strange-looking plush creatures that don't resemble any human who ever walked this earth. Nothing comes close to the Creatable World doll that Mattel has conjured up over the past two years.
Scientists have debunked the idea that boys are simply born wanting to play with trucks and girls wanting to nurture dolls. A study by psychologists Lisa Dinella and Erica Weisgram, co-editors of Gender Typing of Children's Toys: How Early Play Experiences Impact Development, found that when wheeled toys were painted white '-- and thus deprived of all color signaling whether they were ''boys' toys'' or ''girls' toys'' '-- girls and boys chose to play with the wheeled toys equally often. Dinella points out that removing gendered cues from toys facilitates play between boys and girls, crucial practice for when men and women must interact in the workplace and home as adults. She adds that millennials (born 1981 to 1996) have pushed to share child-care responsibilities, and that battle ought to begin in the playroom. ''If boys, like girls, are encouraged to learn parental skills with doll play at a young age, you wind up with more nurturing and empathetic fathers,'' she says.
And yet creating a doll to appeal to all kids, regardless of gender, remains risky. ''There are children who are willing to cross those gender boundaries that society places on toys, but there's often a cost that comes with crossing those boundaries,'' Dinella says. ''That cost seems to be bigger for boys than it is for girls.'' Some of those social repercussions no doubt can be traced to parental attitudes. In Los Angeles, the majority of the seven parents in an early testing group for Creatable World complained the doll ''feels political,'' as one mom put it.
''I don't think my son should be playing with dolls,'' she continued. ''There's a difference between a girl with a truck and a boy with a Barbie, and a boy with a Barbie is a no-no.''
The only dad in the group shrugged. ''I don't know,'' he said. ''My daughter is friends with a boy who wears dresses. I used to be against that type of thing, but now I'm O.K. with it.''
In videos of those testing groups, many parents fumbled with the language to describe the dolls, confusing gender (how a person identifies) with sexuality (whom a person is attracted to), mixing up gender-neutral (without gender) and trans (a person who has transitioned from one gender to another) and fretting about the mere idea of a boy playing with a doll. A second mom in Los Angeles asked before seeing the doll, ''Is it transgender? How am I supposed to have a conversation with my kid about that?'' After examining the toy and discussing gender-fluidity with the other parents, she declared, ''It's just too much. Can't we go back to 1970?''
After the session, Dreger analyzed the parental response. ''Adults get so tied up in the descriptions and definitions,'' she said. ''They jump to this idea of sexuality. They make themselves more anxious about it. For kids it's much more intuitive.''
Why, exactly, a new generation is rejecting categorizations that society has been using for millennia is up for debate. Eighty-one percent of Gen Z-ers believe that a person shouldn't be defined by gender, according to a poll by the J. Walter Thompson marketing group. But it's not just about gender '-- it's about authenticity, whether real or perceived. Macho male actors and glam, ultra-feminine actresses have less cultural cachet than they used to. Gen Z, with its well-honed radar for anything overly polished or fake-seeming, prefers YouTube confessionals about battling everything from zits to depression. When the New York Times recently asked Generation Z to pick a name for itself, the most-liked response was ''Don't call us anything.''
Perhaps their ideas of gender have expanded under the influence of parents who are beginning to reject practices like gender-reveal parties that box kids in even before they are born. Jenna Karvunidis, who popularized the gender-reveal party, recently revealed on Facebook that her now 10-year-old child is gender-nonconforming and that she regrets holding the party. ''She's telling me, 'Mom, there are many genders. Mom, there's many different sexualities and all different types,' and I take her lead on that,'' Karvunidis said in an interview with NPR.
Perhaps it's that a generation of kids raised on video games where they could create their own avatars, with whatever styling and gender they please, has helped open up the way kids think about identity. Perhaps the simple fact that more celebrities like Amandla Stenberg and Sam Smith are coming out as gender-nonbinary has made it easier for other young people to do the same. Generation Alpha, the most diverse generation in America in all senses of the term, is likely to grow up with even more liberal views on gender.
''This is a rallying cry of this generation,'' says Jess Weiner, a cultural consultant for large companies looking to tap into modern-day markets and navigate issues of gender. ''Companies in this day and age have to evolve or else they die, they go away '... And part of that evolving is trying to understand things they didn't prior.''
Mattel, which calls this the world's first gender-neutral doll, is hoping its launch redefines who gets to play with a toy traditionally deemed taboo for half the world's kids.
Photograph by JUCO for TIME
Mattel isn't the first company to notice the trend of young shoppers moving away from gender-specific products. Rob Smith'--the founder of the Phluid Project, a gender-free clothing store that caters to the LGBTQ+ community in New York City'--says several large corporations, including Mattel, have approached him for advice on how to market to the young masses. ''I work with a lot of companies who are figuring out that the separation between male and female is less important to young consumers who don't want to be boxed into anything,'' he says. ''There's men's shampoo and women's shampoo, but it's just all shampoo. Companies are starting to investigate that in-between space in order to win over Gen Z.''
Still, Mattel enters a politically charged debate at a precarious moment for corporations in America, where companies that want to gain customer loyalty are being pushed to one aisle or the other. A study from the PR agency Weber Shandwick found 47% of millennials think CEOs should take stances on social issues. Some 51% of millennials surveyed said they are more likely to buy products from companies run by activist CEOs. Now, if you walk into a Patagonia store, you'll see a sign that reads, ''The President stole your land. Take action now.''
Such activism is often born of self-interest: companies want to appeal to liberal customers and retain young employees and their allies. They face little risk by speaking up but major consequences by sitting on the sidelines. In August, customers boycotted Equinox and SoulCycle'--two companies that have aggressively courted the LGBTQ+ community'--when reports emerged that their key investor was holding a fundraiser for Trump with ticket prices as high as $250,000. According to data analyses by Second Measure, a month later, SoulCycle attendance is down almost 13%.
Weiner says SoulCycle's experience should serve as a cautionary tale. ''I think businesses of any size now recognize that their consumer base values transparency over any other attribute. They want to know that your board is reflective of your choices, and that's caught a lot of businesses off-guard,'' Weiner says. ''You can't talk about gender equity in your commercial and then have no women on your board. They have to be savvy.''
Now, a toy company has chosen to make a product specifically to appeal to the progressive part of the country. Lisa McKnight, the senior vice president of the global doll portfolio at Mattel, says major retailers have been enthusiastic about Creatable World. ''They're excited about the message of inclusivity,'' she says. ''The world is becoming a more diverse and inclusive place, and some people want to do more to support that.'' When pressed on the risks, she lays out the alternative. ''Candidly, we ask ourselves if another company were to launch a product line like this, how would we feel? And after that gut check, we are proceeding.''
The dolls faces betray no obvious gender: the lips are not too full, the eyelashes not too long and fluttery, the jaw not too wide. Here, the dolls faces are painted at Mattel's headquarters on September 5.
Photograph by Angie Smith for TIME
Mattel will launch Creatable World exclusively online first, in part to better control the message. That includes giving sneak previews to select influencers and leaders in the LGBTQ+ community. Selling the doll in retail stores will be more complicated. For one thing, there's the question of where to place it in stores to attract the attention of shoppers who might not venture into a doll section. Store clerks will have to be trained in what pronouns to use when talking about the doll and how to handle anxious parents' questions about it. And then there are practical concerns. Dickson admits the company is ready for the possibility that protests against Creatable World dolls could hurt other Mattel brands, namely Barbie.
Mattel has taken risks before. Most recently, in 2016, it added three new body types to the Barbie doll: tall, petite and, most radically, curvy. It was the first time the company had made a major change to one of the most recognizable brands'--and bodies'--in the world in the doll's almost-60-year history. The change helped propel Barbie from a retrograde doll lambasted by feminists for her impossible shape to a modern toy. She is now on the rise. Her sales have been up for the past eight quarters, and she saw a 14% sales bump in the past year alone, according to Mattel.
But Mattel felt late to the game when it changed Barbie's body: For years the Mindy Kalings and Ashley Grahams of the world had been championing fuller body types. Parents had been demanding change with boycotts and letter campaigns. By contrast, Creatable World feels like uncharted territory. Consider children's media: Disney hasn't introduced a major gay character in any of its movies, let alone a gender-nonconforming one. There are no trans superheroes on the big screen. Even characters whose creators say they are queer'--like Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series'--haven't actually come out on the page or the screen. In that pop-culture space, a gender-neutral doll seems radical.
Even though there is no scientific evidence to prove that this is the case, there will be customers who say that even exposing their children to a gender-nonbinary doll through commercials or in a play group would threaten to change their child's identity. This debate will spin out into sociopolitical questions about whether the types of toys children play with affect their sense of identity and gender.
That conversation, if it comes, is worth it, according to Dickson. ''I think if we could have a hand in creating the idea that a boy can play with a perceived girl toy and a girl can play with a perceived boy toy, we would have contributed to a better, more sensitive place of perception in the world today,'' he says. ''And even more so for the kids that find themselves in that challenging place, if we can make that moment in their life a bit more comfortable, and knowing we created something that makes them feel recognized, that's a beautiful thing.''
Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.
Changes to the Terms of Service | Masto.host - Fully Managed Mastodon Hosting
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 16:13
I have added the following to the terms of service:
I will not accept to host Mastodon servers that promote or that become a gathering of users around the following topics:
Sexual content involving minors, including artistic depictionsGore and extremely graphic violence, including artistic depictionsNational SocialismNazismHolocaust denialRacismAlt right, including under the disguise of freedom of speechGender-criticalSex and gender discriminationTransphobiaMisogynyPro-ana / Pro-miaI will also not accept Mastodon servers that are mainly used for the following activities:
Automated sharing of third-party content, news sources, websites or social media content that doesn't belong to youTrolling, insulting and derogatory comments towards others outside your serverMass following and aggregation of content'--'--'--
I have changed the wording from ''Mastodon instances'' to ''Mastodon servers'', corrected small typos and grammar, changed from ''plans'' to ''old plans'' when mentioning specifics from those plans and removed details about the old dedicated plans that are not relevant because I no longer offer that service.
If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know.
New Hillary listening tour, 'I'd like to hear what you're thinking'
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 14:06
| September 23, 2019 02:07 PM
Hillary Rodham Clinton made listening tours famous, using them to build buzz for her New York Senate and presidential campaigns.
Now, she's on another.
In an email to supporters, the 2008 and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said, ''I'd like to hear what you're thinking.''
While she isn't talking about running for president for a third time, Clinton said that she has been talking to people about key issues, including immigration reform and electing Democrats ''at all levels'' in 2020.
''I've been traveling and talking with folks around the world about their plans for the rest of the year. Some members of this team are doubling down on issues from voting rights to immigration reform, while others are focused on electing Democrats at all levels in 2019 and 2020. Like you, they're all thinking about how we can best work toward making our country a place where the values we share are front and center -- in our policy and in the way we treat each other,'' she wrote for her group, ''Onward Together.''
Clinton has recently been weighing in regularly on President Trump, just this weekend mentioning the reports he asked Ukraine's president to look into consulting done in the country by Joe Biden's son.
What's more, she will soon embark on another national tour, this time to promote a book she and daughter Chelsea wrote about women titled, ''The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience.''
Sonoma County grapples with ongoing outdoor poop problem along Russian River
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:08
September 23, 2019, 6:37AM
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An influx of Bay Area visitors to Sonoma County's bucolic riverlands has spiked in recent years, bringing with it a problem typically reserved for the privacy of one's own home.
People are pooping in public. And they're doing so in such great numbers that the Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works will in the coming year debut new, anti-pooping signage in key spots like Steelhead Beach, Geysers Road and more.
''There's no excuse for this,'' Public Works Director Johannes Hoevertsz said. ''The sign we have says, 'no public pooping.' We really need to drive the message that if you're going to come to Sonoma County and be a guest, you can't do this.''
County officials say the biggest culprits are drunk partiers who are too lazy to take a long walk at Steelhead Beach on the Russian River back to the facilities. Some have even relieved themselves in nearby neighbors' yards.
Hoevertsz said he doesn't think the homeless population is to blame because it tends to be a bigger problem after popular weekends at Petrified Forest Road, Porter Creek Road and Geysers Road.
''You see it with day use and overnight camping spots,'' said Chris Brokate, Sonoma County Clean River Alliance founder. ''It's pretty bad. I don't know if it's as bad in the lower river as it is up north, from what I see.''
However, Brokate and Larry Laba, who owns rafting company Russian River Adventures, see the problem as mainly centering on the transient population that lives along the river.
Don McEnhill, executive director of RussianRiverkeeper, agreed, but he said the amount of dog poop and cow manure in and around the river dwarfs anything seen from humans.
''It's always a matter of scale,'' McEnhill said. ''You're talking about orders of magnitude of fecal matter beyond wild animals.''
When it comes to human waste, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office has seen calls involving the homeless population, cyclists and party bus folks. It's true that the areas are somewhat remote, but Sheriff's Office Community Engagement Liaison Misti Wood, who has spoken with neighbors who have dealt with the remnants of people's poor choices, said she doesn't understand it.
''There is a restroom at Steelhead. It's fully functioning,'' Wood said. ''I don't know what would motivate somebody to publicly defecate across the street with a bathroom available. What our deputies have seen is that when people become overly intoxicated the first thing to go is judgment.''
The act violates a Sonoma County code that prohibits public urination an defecation. Children 9 years old or younger get a pass.
In cases near the river, the act also flouts a Fish and Game code that prohibits placing waste, among other things, within 150 feet of the high water mark of state waters, which include the Russian River.
Hoevertsz's department is responsible for whatever filth is left within the public road right of way. Depending on the road, that can extend well beyond the physical roadway. Public Works has standing contracts with a couple of companies for cleaning up the waste. It's considered hazardous waste and is treated with caution.
With costs reaching up to $60,000 for cleanup, Hoevertsz said he has worked with county Supervisors Lynda Hopkins and Susan Gorin to look at installing signs. The favored version features a person squatting over a stylized, swirly pile of poop '-- the whole scene crossed out with a red circle and line. Beneath it, the words ''no public pooping.''
Best Dumb Phones 2019 '' Be Smart, Go Dumb
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 15:05
Welcome to BestDumbPhones.com! We hope you enjoy our reviews, technical specifications, and overview tables of the best and most successful dumb phones. Whether you're looking for a sturdy rugged phone, a phone with a full keyboard for texting, a basic phone for your kids or an easy-to-use one for a senior family member: We've collected the most popular phones of each type in convenient groups.
We hope you don't mind the somewhat retro style of this guide, we figured that retro phones deserve a similar web site!
Best Dumb Phones Per TypeWe have reviewed the best phones in each of the following categories for you:
Best Dumb Phones For Travelling AbroadIf you plan on travelling internationally, there are many reasons why you'd want to take a dumb phone with you. First, it's cheaper than a smart phone, so in case your phone gets damaged, lost, or stolen during your travels, it's not so much of a problem. Second, you won't ...
Read MoreBest Bar Phones 2018Bar phones, or candy bar phones, are the simplest of all cell phones. With no fancy flipping them open or sliding out a hidden keyboard, they are somewhat prone to accidental pocket dialing unless you specifically lock the keypad. Here's an overview of the best dumb bar phones that we've ...
Read MoreBest Low-Cost Dumb Phones 2018Of course, with a dumb phone, you'll be spending a lot less money on your monthly data plan than if you had a smart phone. What's more, many dumb phones are also quite cheap to acquire in the first place, some of them even unlocked without a contract. UPDATE (November 2017) ...
Read MoreDumb Phones With Full Keyboard For TextingNeed your phone mainly for texting? Then a QWERTY keyboard with actual physical keys comes in super handy. This is where dumb phones really shine: It's a lot faster to type on a keyboard with actual keys, than on most smart phone touch screen keyboards. Granted, cell phone keyboards aren't exactly huge ...
Read MoreTop Waterproof And Rugged Dumb PhonesIf you're looking for a sturdy and reliable phone to take outdoors with you, without all the bells and whistles (and cost) of a smart phone, here's a couple of popular rugged dumb phones for you that will resist water, dust, drops, and harsh treatment in general: Compare Technical Specs Best ...
Read MoreBest Basic Phones For Seniors 2018Many elderly and senior family members might be a bit overwhelmed with the spectrum of features that your average modern day smart phone supports. Rather than the latest iPhone generation, the older generation often value a simple phone that makes it easy to take and place calls: Large buttons, clearly labelled, ...
Read MoreBest Kids' Phones 2018If you're looking for a cell phone for your child, you might not want to get them a full-fledged smart phone just yet, with 24/7 fast internet access and all that that entails. A dumb phone is therefore a very good option for kids that are old enough to have ...
Read MoreBest Slide Phones 2018Slide phones, or slider phones, are more compact than normal bar phones because they hide their keypad in the interior when closed, effectively preventing you from accidentally pocket-dialing or -texting someone. Whether you go for a full blown QWERTY keyboard or prefer a smaller alphanumerical keypad, these phones are typically ...
Read MoreBest Flip Phones 2018Take calls like Captain James T. Kirk! Rumor has it that flip phones were inspired by the sci-fi communicators of the first USS Enterprise's crew, of the 1960s original Star Trek series. Short of going back to the good old cable-and-dial phones, can a cell phone get any more retro than that? ...
Read MoreDumb Phones, Feature Phones, Basic Phones'...Some prefer to give ''dumb phones'' a more marketing-compatible name, such as feature phones, basic phones, simple phones, what have you. However, we're sticking with ''dumb phone'' here, because we feel it contrasts just perfectly with the term ''smart phone''!
So Why Get A Dumb Phone In The First Place?More and more cell phone users are coming to this site looking for a dumb phone '-- why?
Going for a dumb phone does have a lot of advantages. Sure, it's great to have access to a miniature computer (a.k.a. smart phone) for 24 hours per day, wherever you are. Access the internet from anywhere, check your email and social media'... so with smart phones becoming more ubiquitous and more powerful all the time, why do so many people still prefer dumb phones?
Being connected around the clock comes with a price, and that's not just the money you pay for your data plan. Whether you feel it's time to reclaim your life from the constant lures of email and social media, or whether you just want a simpler phone for yourself or for a family member: We'll help you find the exact phone you're looking for.
Apart from cost, battery life is one of the greatest advantages of the dumb phone. How many smart phones do you know that will last for more than a few days without being recharged? Thought so. Of course, this also depends on how much you use your device, but with most dumb phones the battery is more likely to last you weeks.
Compare Technical Specs: Dumb Phone Overview TableIf you prefer to compare the technical specifications of each phone directly, we've got a handy comparison table for you.
Compare all the details of the dumb phones we've reviewed, at a glance:
'' Click to Enlarge ''
Samuel L. Jackson's Voice Will be an Option for Amazon Alexa Users | Complex
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 12:14
Samuel L. Jackson will become the first celebrity voice option for Alexa, Amazon's cloud-based digital assistant.
Amazon will add more celebrity guest voices to the platform in 2020, Variety reports. Alexa's Jackson ''voice pack'' will be available later this year for a special 99 cent intro price, in both clean and explicit versions.
Amazon was able to include Jackon's voice due to a new Neural Text-to-Speech technology the company developed. This will make Alexa's voice sound more human, with better emotive and expressive speech. The technology will also allow Alexa to replicate speech inflections of actual people, as well.
To install the Jackson voice pack, users can say, ''Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson,'' and decide whether they want him to use explicit or censored language. Alexa has featured celebrity voices before, like morning greetings from Chelsea Handler or a duet with Ed Sheeran, though they necessitated pre-recorded audio.
Amazon also introduced other features for Alexa, including a multilingual mode for bilingual speakers. In the U.S., it will support English and Spanish, while in Canada, customers can choose English and French. In India, users will be able to select English and Hindi.
The company also recently launched the new fidelity-focused music streaming service Amazon Music HD, which promises, ''high-quality streaming to the masses.''
UK prime minister warns of Google influence and 'pink-eyed terminators' - The Verge
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 12:56
In a somewhat bizarre and rambling speech at the United Nations, British prime minister Boris Johnson has warned of the influence of Google, Alexa-powered gadgets, and ''pink-eyed terminators sent back from the future to cull the human race.'' Johnson warned members of the United Nations that ''it takes real effort to conceal your thoughts from Google,'' and that in the future technology could be used to keep every citizen under round-the-clock surveillance. Johnson's speech was meant to warn of the effects of unregulated technology, and call for the UN to work together on a common set of global principles for emerging technologies.
''Your mattress will monitor your nightmares, your fridge will beep for more cheese, your front door will sweep wide the moment you approach, like some silent butler,'' said Johnson on Monday, before warning that smart Internet of Things devices store everything ''in some great cloud of data that lowers ever more oppressively over the human race.''
Johnson calls for a balance with new technologies
Johnson also warned that voice connectivity will be in every room and almost every object, and that ''a future Alexa will pretend to take orders, but this Alexa will be watching you, clacking her tongue and stamping her foot.''
Weighing up whether robots, algorithms, and services from tech companies could be used for good or evil, Johnson also opined that robots could be ''washing and caring for an aging population, or pink-eyed terminators sent back from the future to cull the human race.'' He also bizarrely compared Brexit, the process of exiting the European Union, to Greek mythology.
For all of the warnings about emerging technologies, Johnson's overarching point is that the design of emerging technologies must find a balance between freedom and control, and innovation and regulation. ''The mission of the United Kingdom, and all who share our values, must be to ensure that emerging technologies are designed from the outset for freedom, openness, and pluralism, with the right safeguards in place to protect our peoples.''
Johnson has now invited members of the UN to a summit in London in 2020 to debate ethical and responsible technology. ''How we design the emerging technologies behind these breakthroughs and what values inform their design will shape the future of humanity,'' says Johnson. You can watch the entire speech, below.
Mudita Pure: Your Minimalist Phone by Mudita '-- Kickstarter
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 21:37
Risks and challengesWe've been working with our partners and manufacturers to make sure we're setting a realistic timeline for the production and delivery of Mudita Pure. We moved the Kickstarter campaign by couple of months as not to over promise or make our early adopters wait more time than they'd like to for their devices. However, manufacturing a complex device with the very strict quality demands that we've set ourselves, might sometimes bring unexpected occurrences, that are out of our control. In case of any possible delay, we'll immediately inform you and share all of the details and updates.
Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The Fed pumps another $105 billion into markets, continuing its streak of capital injections | Markets Insider
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 04:48
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
The Federal Reserve on Tuesday sold $105 billion in market repurchase agreements, or repos, in a continued effort to calm money markets and bring interest rates within its intended range.The bank offered $75 billion in repos expiring overnight and $30 billion in repos expiring in 14 days. Banks bid for more than was available of each repo, signaling strong demand for the government-backed asset.The bank began a streak of repo offerings last week, marking the first time such assets were sold since the 2008 financial crisis. The central bank said the offerings would continue through early October.Visit the Markets Insider homepage for more stories.The Federal Reserve added $105 billion to the nation's financial system on Tuesday in two transactions, seeking to calm money markets and keep interest rates in its intended range.
The New York Fed continued its streak of market repurchase agreements, or repos, selling $75 billion of overnight repos and $30 billion of repos expiring in 14 days. Banks bid for $80.2 billion in overnight repos and $62 billion in 14-day repos, signaling strong demand in the government-backed investments.
Last week marked the first time in a decade that the bank had taken such steps to relieve pressure on money markets. The bank offered a total of $278 billion in repos from Tuesday through Friday.
Also last week, the Federal Open Market Committee cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, landing in a window of 1.75% to 2%. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell called the repo offerings a temporary action.
"Funding pressures in money markets were elevated this week, and the effective federal funds rate rose above the top of its target range," he said.
The Fed's schedule calls for another $75 billion of overnight repos to be sold every business day until October 10, with certain days also offering at least $30 billion worth of 14-day repos.
Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:
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'It's going to 30,000': A CIO who oversees $4.9 billion explains why the Dow is headed for fresh record highs '-- and shares his top 4 stock picks for the upswing
China to take over Uganda's main assets over unpaid rising huge debt | African Stand
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 22:21
Ugandan government is now at risk of losing its main state assets to China over unpaid huge increasing loans from Chinese government.
But according to Ugandan government, the growing debt is sustainable, and the country is not at risk of losing state assets to China, the country's finance minister, Matia Kasaija.
African Stand reported in December last year that Kenyan government risks losing the lucrative Mombasa port to China if the country fail to repay huge loans advanced by Chinese lenders, but both Chinese and Kenyan officials have dismissed that the port's ownership is at risk.
Others think Chinese government are in some ways gangsters, taking over mines all over Africa, sending thousands of Chinese workers, destroy environment, bring the minerals such as copper, sink, gold, silver, diamonds etc home, and make deals with corrupt politicians to plunder the countries.
''The case is one of the examples of China's ambitious use of loans and aid to gain influence around the world and of its willingness to play hardball to collect,'' says the New York Times in December 12, 2017.
At a time in Somalia when local fishermen are struggling to compete with foreign vessels that are depleting fishing stocks, the government has granted 31 fishing licenses to China.
Support Us at African Stand by following Us on Facebook and Twitter.
But Uganda's auditor-general warned in a report released this month that public debt from June 2017 to 2018 had increased from $9.1 billion to $11.1 billion.
The report '-- without naming China '-- warned that conditions placed on major loans were a threat to Uganda's sovereign assets.
It said that in some loans, Uganda had agreed to waive sovereignty over properties if it defaults on the debt '-- a possibility that Kasaija rejected.
''China taking over assets? '... in Uganda, I have told you, as long as some of us are still in charge, unless there is really a catastrophe, and which I don't see at all, that will make this economy going behind. So, '... I'm not worried about China taking assets. They can do it elsewhere, I don't know. But here, I don't think it will come,'' he said.
China is one of Uganda's biggest country-lenders, with about $3 billion in development projects through state-owned banks.
In December 2017, the Sri Lankan government handed its Hambantota port to China for a lease period of 99 years after failing to show commitment in the payment of billions of dollars in loans.
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Also in September 2018, African Stand reported that China was taking over Zambia's state power company and Kenneth Kaunda International Airport over unpaid debt rippled across Africa, despite government denials.
China's Exim Bank has funded about 85 percent of two major Ugandan power projects '-- Karuma and Isimba dams. It also financed and built Kampala's $476 million Entebbe Express Highway to the airport, which cuts driving time by more than half. China's National Offshore Oil Corporation, France's Total, and Britain's Tullow Oil co-own Uganda's western oil fields, set to be tapped by 2021.
Economist Fred Muhumuza says China's foot in Uganda's oil could be one way it decides to take back what is owed.
''They might determine the price, as part of recovering their loan,'' he said. ''By having a foot in there they will say fine, we are going to pay you for oil. But instead of giving you $60 a barrel, you owe us. We'll give you $55. The $5 you are paying the old debt. But we are reaching a level where you don't see this oil being an answer to the current debt problem.''
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Dogs are People too
Animal sentience recognised for the first time under new ACT laws - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:09
Updated September 26, 2019 19:23:37
The ACT has become the first jurisdiction in Australia to change the legal status of animals from being purely 'property' to sentient beings in their own right.
Key points:The ACT now recognises animals as having intrinsic value and rightsThe new laws criminalise neglecting to provide food, water and shelter for petsOwners can also be punished for failure to groom or care for their petsThe animal welfare legislation passed today extends the rights of Canberra's cats and dogs '-- but the practical implications are not as far-reaching as they sound.
City Services Minister Chris Steel said it is a bill that makes it easier to support animal rights most people already recognise.
"What we've done today in recognising sentience is simply recognising what we already know about animals," he said.
"The science tells us that animals feel and perceive things, and we're simply seeking to recognise that under law."
The new laws enshrine simple rights for animals, such as the right to free movement.
Owners can now be penalised for tying a dog up for more than 24 hours, leaving it unable to exercise.
"If an animal was chained up or caged up for days on end, then they should absolutely have some exercise for one or two hours," Mr Steel said.
There are still reasonable exceptions to that law, such as allowing chicken coops, bird cages and cat containment areas.
But the new laws criminalise any confinement that restricts an animal's movement '-- including farm animals.
Potential imprisonment for neglecting basic rightsThe laws also recognise an animal's right to food, water, shelter, clean living and health care, with specific offences for failing to attend to those necessities.
For example, if a cat or dog's nails were left unclipped to the point of impairment, or its skin became infected due to fleas, an owner could be punished with up to a year imprisonment.
A spokeswoman for the Minister said an element of "reasonableness" and "seriousness" is considered in applying the law.
"Neglect of a cat or dog would likely be considered and treated more seriously than not keeping a fish tank clean," the spokeswoman said.
There are also new offences punishing people who hit or kick an animal, abandon it or confine it in a car have also been passed.
And while the laws relate mostly to pets, requirements to report a mammal hit by a car remain, as does an obligation to alleviate suffering of an injured bird or other non-mammal.
Mr Steel said the laws reflect the love Canberrans already show to animals.
Dog lover Merle Gouws confesses her seven-ear-old Pekingese 'Bonsai' is "very pampered".
"She sits and watches TV with me. She has a favourite program which is Midsommer Murders - she absolutely loves it, when she hears the music she gets so excited!"
She agrees that the new laws introduced simple obligations for any pet owner.
"I think it is fair," Ms Gouws, who lives in Gungahlin, said.
"If you're going to leave them outside, make sure they're well-kennelled, make sure they have their water, make sure they have space to run around."
The laws will come into effect in six months.
First posted September 26, 2019 16:41:03
Contact Jake Evans
More stories from Australian Capital Territory
VIDEO - Trump phone call a "classic mafia-like shakedown" of Ukrainian President: Schiff - YouTube
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 14:34
VIDEO - A #NatureNow message from Greta Thunberg. - YouTube
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 13:05
VIDEO - Juul CEO Kevin Burns resigns effective immediately - CBSN Live Video - CBS News
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 12:59
Juul CEO Kevin Burns resigns effective immediately - CBSN Live Video - CBS News Trump Ukraine Call Summary Whistleblower Complaint Medical Price Roulette Texas Execution "Joker" Movie Controversy Real Estate Fraud Climate Report "Jurassic World" Movie News US World Politics Entertainment Health MoneyWatch Technology Science Crime Sports Intelligence chief to testify on Trump's call with Ukraine - live updates "Explosive": Lawmakers get first look at whistleblower complaint Judge blocks testimony that cop acted reasonably in shooting neighbor Boy dies from injuries from alleged bullying attack in middle school Man hit with $650,000 in medical bills gets relief after CBS News story Uber unveils new safety features amid scathing report Norah O'Donnell sits down with Saudi Arabia's Mohammad bin Salman Man executed for stabbing attack that killed stepsons and wife America's white working class is the smallest it's ever been Trump Impeachment Inquiry Call summary shows Trump urged Ukraine to investigate Biden DNI to provide Congress with whistleblower complaint Trump claims he exerted "no pressure" in released Ukraine call Read the transcript summary of Trump's call with Ukraine's president Adam Schiff: What Trump said publicly is "damning enough" for impeachment Pelosi launches formal Trump impeachment inquiry Trump allies aren't panicking over impeachment inquiry What is impeachment & how does it work? Shows CBS This Morning CBS Evening News 60 Minutes Face The Nation Sunday Morning 48 Hours CBSN Originals NCIS: The Cases They Can't Forget Live Latest headlines CBSN Boston CBSN New York CBSN Los Angeles CBS Sports HQ ET Live LIVE More Latest Video Photos Podcasts In Depth Local Log In Alerts Mobile RSS Shop Search Search: Live
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VIDEO - Affectionate Baby Crocodiles Make Happy Noises That Sound Just Like Old School Video Game Laser Guns
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 12:19
by Lori Dorn at 11:37 AM on September 20, 2019
An adorable clutch of affectionate baby Cuban crocodiles who were enjoying a lovely swim in the bathtub, emitted a series of wonderful happy noises that sound just like the laser guns from old school video games.
These tiny, critically endangered reptiles are residents of the Dragonwood Conservancy, a non-profit refuge for endangered reptiles in Wisconsin that helps to foster repopulation and provides herpetological research and education.
Keeper Brad Valle interacts with the reptiles on a regular basis, so it's not surprising they become attached to him
Our interaction is phenomenal it's actually awesome! They follow me and my hand anywhere and just wanna be anywhere I am!
This unique chatter is not exclusive to only to the Cuban variety, baby Siamese crocodiles (also critically endangered) emit the same sounds as well.
These pure blooded siamese crocodile babies are just amazing!!! So vocal and down right adorable enjoying some time together as a clutch !!! They are kept mainly in individual houses but once a week I like to put them together for a few reasons one being interaction between each other another being full group.
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VIDEO - CNN reporter fact-checks conspiracy theory involving Biden and Ukraine - YouTube
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:47
VIDEO - Nicole Sganga on Twitter: "FLAG: Senator Elizabeth Warren appears uncharacteristically flustered when asked if her ethics plan would allow her Vice President's son to serve on the board of a foreign company: "No," she said. "I don't know. I mean I
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:26
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VIDEO - Face The Nation on Twitter: "Sunday: @JohnKerry called for the release of the transcript saying, "what @realDonaldTrump has done is an abuse, if he has done it" Kerry today: "The president abused his power to bully an ally... If it wasn't already
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:22
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VIDEO - (3) 1AM- Sean Hannity 9/26/19 | Sean Hannity Fox News September 26, 2019 - YouTube
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:21
VIDEO - Climate change IPCC report today by UN says oceans warming and rising faster and already too late to avoid some consequences - CBS News
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:16
Last Updated Sep 25, 2019 7:39 AM EDT
Monaco '-- A United Nations-backed report on climate change released Wednesday is raising even more alarm about the world's warming climate. More than 100 scientists spent the last three years looking at the impact of climate change on the Earth's oceans and the ice locked around the North and South Poles and in mountain areas.
CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips says the broad conclusion is that, basically, these vital stores of water on our planet can't take it any more, and the consequences for humanity are severe.
Until now, much of the Earth's warming has been absorbed by its oceans. But according to this report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tipping points are being reached where some of the more severe consequences of climate change can no longer be avoided.
Ice in Greenland and Antarctica, and in mountain glaciers around the world is continuing to melt at accelerating rates. The resulting sea level rise around the world already threatens coastal populations. In the worst case predictions, as many as a billion people could be affected.
As the world's oceans get deeper, they are also getting warmer, and warmer water means bigger, more violent storms reaching land masses .
The report says satellite data show "marine heatwaves (periods of extremely high ocean surface temperatures) have very likely doubled in frequency from 1982 to 2016 and that they have also become longer-lasting, more intense and more extensive."
And our fingerprints are all over that change, according to the scientists, who said "between 84% and 90% of marine heatwaves that occurred between 2006 and 2015 can be attributed to anthropogenic (human-caused) warming."
New U.N. climate change report expected to be grimIt may sound like a doomsday scenario, but one of the authors of the report, Arizona climate scientist Ted Schuur, told CBS News the signs are already clear to see in the form of disasters, including major flooding events around the world.
"We are looking at the time that those events that happen once in a 100 years, happen once a year, and you can relate to something like that," he told Phillips.
"Extreme sea level events, such as surges from tropical cyclones, that are currently historically rare (for example today's hundred-year event) will become common by 2100 under all emissions scenarios due to increasing global mean sea level rise," the report states. 2Under all future emissions scenarios, many low-lying megacities and small islands at almost all latitudes will experience such events annually by 2050."
Or as Schuur put it in plain terms: "Imagine you have a story that your grandfather told you, about the town flooding, but it was back 80 years ago. Well, imagine that happening every year."
Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg scolds world leaders at the United NationsThe report lists a cascade of potential negative effects, from more severe storms to droughts and declining fish stocks.
And the more we continue to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the more catastrophic those effects may be. The authors of the report say humanity is in a race between the speed of climate change, and our capacity to react to it, and we're losing.
It's no longer a question of if or when the consequences will hit us, the report warns, but how bad they will be.
(C) 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO - (36) Ryan Saavedra on Twitter: "Nancy Pelosi suggests that Democrats have to impeach Trump because they desperately want to prevent him from getting re-elected: "He can't win, that is very serious" https://t.co/JTS2mYIm1u" / Twitter
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:14
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VIDEO - (3) Nothing new under the sun - YouTube
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:10
VIDEO - Wisconsin workers embedded with microchips
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 11:07
Employees at a Wisconsin firm got embedded with microchips--USA TODAY and the Wausau Daily Herald are on the scene. Video by Laura Schulte and Jefferson Graham
RIVER FALLS, Wis. '-- A local firm here made good today on its vow to embed employees with microchips.
Sporting "I Got Chipped" T-shirts, some 40 workers at Three Square Market, a firm that makes cafeteria kiosks aimed at replacing vending machines, got tiny rice-sized microchips embedded in their hands.
Company officials said it was for convenience, a way for them to bypass using company badges and corporate log-ons to computers. Now, they can just have their hands read by a reader, similar to using a smartphone to pay for goods.
The company would like to see payments go cashless, as iPhone users do with Apple Pay. Except in this case, consumers use their hand instead of a smartphone to pay.
The chip is not a tracker nor does it have GPS in it, so the boss can't track your movements, company officials say. Still, to those who worry about Big Brother having more control over our lives, Three Square Market President Patrick McMullan says you should, "take your cell phone and throw it away."
More: Are embedded microchips dangerous? Ask the Swedes '-- and pets
More: Who wants to get 'chipped'?
The chips come from Biohax Sweden, a company that says it has nearly 3,000 people using it in Europe. The founder of that company, Jowan Osterlund, has struck alliances with companies to pay to have the chips installed in employees or pass them out at tech fairs.
Three Square Market employees say they were having the chip installed to be part of the larger team, and help develop the technology.
The chip ceremony was held in the company's cafeteria, where a local tattoo artist, was on hand to perform the installation.
The entire process took about a minute. It started with Osterlund cleaning the skin, finding a spot in the hand to pinch, then asking the employee to inhale and exhale as he inserted a syringe, install the chip, and place a band-aid over the spot.
"The pinch hurt more than the injection," says McMullen. "It stung for about an hour and half afterwards, but now it's getting back to normal."
But what seemed normal in Wisconsin played out differently across the Internet.
During our Facebook Live interview with McMullen, Chris Malak from Winneconne, Wis., said, "I have a co-worker who can never keep track of their keys thus always asking for mine and no idea what her pass word are. This would be good for her. But as for me, hell no."
Employee at Three Square Market in River Falls, Wisconsin gets "chipped" (Photo: Laura Schulte, Wausau Daily Herald)
Schulte reported from River Falls, Wisc., Graham from Los Angeles.
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2wiBAXe
VIDEO - (2) September 25, 2019. Metadata Makes IDing The Whistleblower As Easy As Ukrainian Weapons Buys - YouTube
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 03:31
VIDEO - (2) Trump's bilateral meeting with Ukraine's Zelensky, in 3 minutes - YouTube
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 02:49
VIDEO 13m30sec - Siraj Hashmi on Twitter: "Back in August, Andrew Bakaj and I recorded a podcast on leaking and whistleblowing. I had no idea until this week that he decided to legally represent the government employee who filed a whistleblower complaint
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 23:41
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VIDEO 1hr11mins30sec - The Tech Guy 1628 Saturday, September 21, 2019
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 23:38
Hands-on with the new iPhone 11 Pro Max, the best way to factory reset and reinstall an Android phone, 8K TVs are coming, but where's the content? Is Windows 10 still a good idea for an old laptop? Mac media servers, monetizing your podcast and more of your calls!
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VIDEO - Tom Elliott on Twitter: ".@RepAlGreen: ''I'm concerned if we don't impeach this president, he will get re-elected. ... We must impeach him.'' https://t.co/3cwG7eFIdy" / Twitter
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 23:35
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VIDEO - Amazon event 2019: Echo Buds, Echo Frames, Alexa privacy updates, Amazon Smart Oven and everything announced - CNET
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 21:07
We were on the ground in Seattle at Amazon HQ today at the company's annual deluge of hardware announcements, and wow, did we get some: a high-end Echo Studio , new Echo Show 8 , an Echo Dot with a clock and a three-in-one Amazon Smart Oven . And Echo Buds are real, along with Echo Frames smart glasses as part of a new Day 1 Editions program for experimental products.
Last year, the company announced a dozen new devices, from the third-gen Amazon Echo Dot to the AmazonBasics Microwave , the Amazon Echo Wall Clock and the Amazon Echo Auto . Since then, Amazon released a new smart display -- the Amazon Echo Show 5 . It's also come under fire for hiring people to occasionally listen in on Alexa conversations . The company also acquired the video doorbell company Ring, which has faced scrutiny for its work with police departments across the country, and mesh-network maker Eero .
Wearables and Day 1 Editions Echo Buds are real, too, and include Bose noise reduction. They join the Echo Frames smart glasses as part of a new Day 1 Editions program for experimental Alexa implementations. The Echo Loop is a Day 1 Edition smart ring.
Amazon announces Echo Frames smart glasses Amazon adds Alexa to new Echo Buds Amazon Echo Loop puts Alexa on your finger Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET Echo and Alexa They opened with new Alexa commands, the ability to mimic celebrities and privacy updates for Ring (home mode) and Alexa (such as automatic deletion of data). Plus, a bunch of new Echos, of course, highlighted by a high-end model that supports Dolby Atmos streaming from 4K Fire TVs and pairing. And kid-friendly features and models, such as the Echo Glow.
Alexa adds new commands to tamp down privacy concerns Every new Alexa feature Amazon just announced Amazon's new Echo Dot has a digital clock Samuel L. Jackson's voice comes to Amazon devices Amazon adds a high-end Echo Studio speaker to its lineup and a new $100 Amazon Echo Amazon announces new 'Home Mode' privacy feature for Ring doorbells Amazon announces the new $129 Echo Show 8 Amazon introduces Echo Glow light Amazon Alexa lets parents restrict who kids can talk to on Echo Now playing: Watch this: Amazon debuts new Echo Dot
Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET Smart home Frustrated by smart-home setup? Now Amazon has a frustration-free Certified for Humans program to make smart lights, plugs and appliances totally foolproof. Also, it rolled out the first product from the Eero acquisition, the... Eero, as well as Alexa's ability to manage Wi-Fi. The Echo Flex spreads access points inconspicuously throughout your home, with a plug-in motion sensor or night light. Ring gets plug-ins and a Stick-up Cam, including its first indoor-only camera at a new low price of $59.
Now playing: Watch this: Amazon unveils tiny Echo Flex
And how do you follow up the Amazon Microwave? With the Amazon Smart Oven, bundled with an Echo Dot. Amazon also extends the reach of your control via Amazon Sidewalk.
Alexa's "Certified for Humans" wants to eliminate smart home headaches Amazon cuts Eero mesh Wi-Fi price to $249 with third-generation products Echo Flex smart plug costs $25 with add-on motion sensor and nightlight accessories Amazon Smart Oven will making cooking easier Echo Glow: Amazon's Alexa-compatible night light Amazon Sidewalk extends beyond Wi-Fi and Bluetooth range to control more gadgets Amazon will keep track of your dog with Fetch Ring rolls out new hardware for more security inside and out
VIDEO - CBS This Morning on Twitter: "JUST IN: The CEO of @JUULvapor is stepping down. Kevin Burns had faced a storm of controversy over the vaping product, denying to @TonyDokoupil in a @CBSThisMorning interview that Juul targeted teenagers. 'ž¸ https
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 19:52
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(1) Nick Fad🇺🇸 on Twitter: "🚨Thread: Smoke and Mirrors - The Ukraine Story 1)In January 1994 NATO held a Partnership for Peace summit in Brussels, where Ukraine and many former Soviet nations joined and committed to a path of non-proliferation ht
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 19:50
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VIDEO - (21) Turning Point UK on Twitter: "This man speaks for the people. https://t.co/3DgIBd0jf7" / Twitter
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 19:44
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Per ''transcript,'' Trump seems to think DNC-hired security firm is from Ukraine | Ars Technica
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 19:42
Lost in translation '-- CrowdStrike, "one of your wealthy people," mentioned in rambling reconstruction of phone call. Sean Gallagher - Sep 25, 2019 5:25 pm UTC
Enlarge / Blessed are the note takers.
The White House has released what a spokesperson called a "memorandum of a telephone conversation" between US President Donald Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in response to accusations that Trump attempted to coerce Zelensky into investigating a company associated with Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph Biden. In that reconstruction'--which is, as per the memorandum, "not a verbatim transcript of a discussion," Trump asked Zelensky to "do us a favor" in what appears to be a reference to the investigation of the hacking of the Democratic National Committee:
The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you're surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that's possible.
Trump has previously referred to CrowdStrike as a Ukrainian company. The reference to the server appears to be related to a conspiracy theory that one of the DNC's servers had been hidden from the FBI. But CrowdStrike's co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a US citizen of Russian heritage, and the company is based in the United States and is publicly traded on the NASDAQ exchange.
In a statement to Ars, a CrowdStrike spokesperson said, "With regards to our investigation of the DNC hack in 2016, we provided all forensic evidence and analysis to the FBI. As we've stated before, we stand by our findings and conclusions that have been fully supported by the US Intelligence community."
VIDEO - Homeless man talks openly about being addicted to heroin. We have an opioid crisis in America. - YouTube
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 13:50
VIDEO - Introducing CNBC's Squawk Pod - YouTube
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 13:47
VIDEO - (4) Boris Johnson's speech on Brexit, AI, robots and chicken at the UN - YouTube
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 12:56
VIDEO - (4) 16 children, including Greta Thunberg, file landmark climate complaint to UN - YouTube
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 11:37
VIDEO - WATCH: Speaker Pelosi Announcement on Impeachment
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 04:43
September 24, 2019 2019-09-24T20:13:29-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/49c/20190924170036014_hd.jpg House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) officially announced that Democrats are launching an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. This comes after news reports surfaced that President Trump allegedly pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Democratic Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) officially announced that Democrats are launching an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. This'... read more
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) officially announced that Democrats are launching an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. This comes after news reports surfaced that President Trump allegedly pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Democratic Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. close
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Points of InterestFor quick viewing, C-SPAN provides Points of Interest markers for some events. Click the play button and tap the screen to see the at the bottom of the player. Tap the to see a complete list of all Points of Interest - click on any moment in the list and the video will play.
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People in this videoNancy Pelosi U.S. Representative [D] California '; }, afterShow: function() { twttr.widgets.load(); }, helpers: { title: { type: 'inside' } } }); $('section.program-people ul li a.person-image').click(function(e) { e.preventDefault(); var personid = $(this).attr('id'); personid = personid.replace('-link', ''); $('div.person-images a#'+personid+'-image').click(); }); });
Hosting OrganizationU.S. CapitolU.S. Capitol
VIDEO - E-Cigarettes and Lung Disease | C-SPAN.org
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 04:42
September 24, 2019 2019-09-24T10:25:01-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/cea/20190924102842003_hd.jpg The House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy held a hearing on the relationship between e-cigarettes and an outbreak in lung disease. The committee heard testimony from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat about the health effects of e-cigarette use and what officials knew about a string of lung illnesses resulting from e-cigarettes and vaping. A second panel included testimony from additional medical professionals as well as a mother whose daughter had been hospitalized after vaping and a former smoker who used e-cigarettes as an alternative to combustible cigarettes.The House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy held a hearing on the relationship between e-cigarettes and an'... read more
The House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy held a hearing on the relationship between e-cigarettes and an outbreak in lung disease. The committee heard testimony from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat about the health effects of e-cigarette use and what officials knew about a string of lung illnesses resulting from e-cigarettes and vaping. A second panel included testimony from additional medical professionals as well as a mother whose daughter had been hospitalized after vaping and a former smoker who used e-cigarettes as an alternative to combustible cigarettes. close
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*This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
Points of InterestFor quick viewing, C-SPAN provides Points of Interest markers for some events. Click the play button and move your cursor over the video to see the . Click on the marker to see the description and watch.
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People in this videoMichael Cloud U.S. Representative [R] Texas James R. Comer U.S. Representative [R] Kentucky Gerry Connolly U.S. Representative [D] Virginia Terrence "TJ" John Cox U.S. Representative [D] California Mark DeSaulnier U.S. Representative [D] California Glenn Grothman U.S. Representative [R] Wisconsin Katie Hill U.S. Representative [D] California Jim Jordan U.S. Representative [R] Ohio Ro Khanna U.S. Representative [D] California Raja Krishnamoorthi U.S. Representative [D] Illinois Mark Meadows U.S. Representative [R] North Carolina Carol Miller U.S. Representative [R] West Virginia Eleanor Holmes Norton Congressional Delegate [D] District of Columbia Ayanna Pressley U.S. Representative [D] Massachusetts Chip Roy U.S. Representative [R] Texas Anne Schuchat M.D. Principal Deputy Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention->Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Rashida Tlaib U.S. Representative [D] Michigan Debbie Wasserman Schultz U.S. Representative [D] Florida More People '; }, afterShow: function() { twttr.widgets.load(); }, helpers: { title: { type: 'inside' } } }); $('section.program-people ul li a.person-image').click(function(e) { e.preventDefault(); var personid = $(this).attr('id'); personid = personid.replace('-link', ''); $('div.person-images a#'+personid+'-image').click(); }); });
Hosting OrganizationHouse Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer PolicyHouse Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy
VIDEO - Tom Elliott on Twitter: ".@RashidaTlaib attacks conservative vaping advocate Vicki Porter: ''Are you a conspiracy theorist?'' https://t.co/Czf5cALRks" / Twitter
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 04:41
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VIDEO - Soph on Greta Thunberg
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 04:03
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VIDEO - San Francisco homeless crisis prompts neighborhood to put boulders on sidewalk to deter campers | Fox News
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 23:06
A residential side street in San Francisco now resembles a scene out of the rocky West after a group of neighbors banded together to place about two dozen boulders along the sidewalk to try and deter homeless people from camping out amid the city's ongoing crisis.
Neighbors along Clinton Park in the city's Mission Dolores neighborhood said the rocks are meant to keep drug users from having a space to shoot up as they camp out overnight.
"They'll shoot up and stay overnight," neighbor David Smith-Tan told KTVU. "A bunch of my neighbors, we all chipped in a few hundred dollars and I guess this is what they came up with."
San Francisco has long struggled with problems of human waste and needles on the streets of the Tenderloin district, where many addicts and homeless people are typically found. The city has set up public toilets and last year announced the creation of a special six-person "poop patrol" team to clean up the human waste.
Similar landscaping measures have been implemented in other parts of the city. The California Department of Transportation has put rocks in an open space off Bayshore Boulevard to deter encampments, while the Eureka Valley-Harvey Milk Branch of the San Francisco Public Library '' in the same neighborhood '' has made design choices that are perceived as anti-homeless, according to KTVU.
A group of neighbors in San Francisco has had two dozen boulders placed along a residential road to deter people from camping out. (KTVU)
While the city's homelessness crisis has centered mostly around the Tenderloin district, other neighborhoods across San Francisco have also seen an alarming increase of homeless people in recent years.
Earlier this year, a preliminary count showed a 17 percent increase in the homeless population in the city from 2017. However, in that count San Francisco opted to use the federal definition of homelessness. If it had used the same measurement it has in years past, the numbers would show an increase from 7,400 to 9,784 '' or 30 percent '' in 2019.
About a month ago, out of frustration of city officials not doing enough, neighbors along Clinton Park decided to address the sidewalk problem.
"Since the rocks, it has helped," neighbor Ernesto Jerez told KTVU. "It's something. We've got to do something. I feel like there is nothing being done."
But homeless advocates call the boulders a cruel response and not a solution to the massive problem.
"There's actually a name for it. It's called anti-homeless architecture," Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition On Homelessness, told KTVU.
San Francisco police officers wait while homeless people collect their belongings in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
A San Francisco Public Works department spokeswoman told KTVU the city had no part in putting the boulders here, and since they aren't blocking the sidewalk, there are no plans to remove them.
San Francisco's homelessness crisis prompted President Trump to threaten last week to slap the city with Environmental Protection Agency violation notices, for allowing a tremendous amount of waste, including needles, to go through storm drains into the ocean.
In a statement, Mayor London Breed called Trump's remarks "ridiculous" and said storm drain debris is filtered out at city wastewater treatment plants so that none flows "into the bay or ocean."
Breed added that the city is fighting homelessness by adding 1,000 beds to shelters and wants to pass a $600 million bond to build affordable housing and increase services for people with addiction and mental illness.
Homeless advocates on Monday said the immediate problem is that they are currently dealing with a lack of shelters.
"We have 1,200 people on the wait list for shelter. That's for tonight," Friedenbach told KTVU. "People have nowhere to go."
Fox News' Barnini Chakraborty and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEO - (10) Susan Spataro - YouTube
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 22:12
VIDEO - Matt Walsh on Twitter: "Rashida Tlaib claims that secondhand smoke is ''worse than directly smoking cigarettes.'' Just more science from the party of science! https://t.co/Bp5CS5eNkP" / Twitter
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 22:10
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VIDEO UKPMX - Should be in School by NoAgendaTrax
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 22:07
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VIDEO - (10) Were You Moved by Greta Thunberg's UN Climate Summit Speech? | Loose Women - YouTube
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 22:06
VIDEO - (11) Lizzy Lou Who🇺🇸 on Twitter: "Un. Fucking. Believable. https://t.co/9qm9pXc7YN" / Twitter
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 15:34
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VIDEO - Mudita Pure: Your Minimalist Phone by Mudita '-- Kickstarter
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 14:46
Risks and challengesWe've been working with our partners and manufacturers to make sure we're setting a realistic timeline for the production and delivery of Mudita Pure. We moved the Kickstarter campaign by couple of months as not to over promise or make our early adopters wait more time than they'd like to for their devices. However, manufacturing a complex device with the very strict quality demands that we've set ourselves, might sometimes bring unexpected occurrences, that are out of our control. In case of any possible delay, we'll immediately inform you and share all of the details and updates.
Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
VIDEO - John Kerry in 'Absolute Shock and Amazement' Trump on the Phone with Ukraine Near Time of Mueller Testimony | Breitbart
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 14:36
Monday, former Secretary of State John Kerry reacted to the report that President Donald Trump repeatedly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, and his business dealings there.
Kerry said on MSNBC's ''Morning Joe'' he is in ''absolute shock and amazement'' that Trump would have been ''putting American foreign policy in hock'' around the same time as the Robert Mueller testimony.
''My reaction is one of absolute shock and amazement that apparently within hours or days of the Mueller testimony, the president is on the telephone putting American foreign policy in hock while he extorts the leader of another country to Russia's advantage, I might add.''
He continued, ''That is a fundamental, profound abuse of power '-- there's no other way to put it. And the president said yesterday, 'Oh, we had a beautiful conversation.' Mr. President, show America what that beautiful conversation was. Let us see how beautiful it really was. Let us know whether eight times you turned around and tried to extort from the president your campaign opposition research.''
Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent
VIDEO - Megan Rapinoe calls on footballers to change the world at Fifa awards - BBC News
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 14:23
US co-captain and World Cup hero Megan Rapinoe has called on fellow footballers to tackle racism, sexism and homophobia in the sport after winning Fifa's top women's player award.
She paid tribute to fellow players Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly for taking a stand against discrimination, and called on others to share their outrage and "use this game to actually change the world for better".
Read more: Rapinoe wins best women's player award
VIDEO - (6) What happens now?! Thomas Cook - YouTube
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 14:14
VIDEO - 'Felt so violated:' Milwaukee couple warns hackers are outsmarting smart homes | FOX6Now.com
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 13:58
Lamont, Samantha Westmoreland
MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee couple said their smart home was hacked. Their camera began talking to them, and their thermostat reached upwards of 90 degrees.
The Westmoreland family installed a Nest camera, doorbell, and thermostat in their home in 2018. They had no problems until they heard a voice talking through a camera in their kitchen.
"It's supposed to make me feel safe, and I didn't feel safe," said Samantha Westmoreland.
Their place of comfort turned creepy Tuesday, Sept. 17.
"My heart was racing," Westmoreland said. "I felt so violated at that point."
Westmoreland returned from work to a blazing hot home. The thermostat had been turned all the way up to 90 degrees. She thought it was a glitch -- and set it back to room temperature. She did not realize that was only the beginning of a roller coaster 24 hours.
"It gives me the chills just talking about it," Westmoreland said.
The thermostat continued to go up -- and a voice began speaking from a camera in the kitchen -- and then playing vulgar music.
"So I unplugged it and turned it facing the ceiling," Westmoreland said.
Westmoreland and her husband changed their passwords, but the problems persisted. Eventually, they contacted their internet carrier and changed their network ID. They believe someone hacked into their Wi-Fi and then, their Nest.
"If someone hacks into your Wi-Fi, they shouldn't be able to have access to those Nest devices without some sort of wall they have to get over," said Lamont Westmoreland.
The Westmorelands said they're upset their $700 system was a gateway into their home.
"Maybe there's some steps we should take," said Lamont Westmorland. "I think Nest should be tightening security."
They wanted to share their story to make others aware that hackers are outsmarting the smart home.
"People need to be educated and know that this is real, and this is happening, and it is super scary, and you don't realize it until it's actually happening to you," Samantha Westmoreland said.
FOX6 News received a statement on this story (attributed to a Google spokesperson). It reads as follows:
"Nest was not breached. These reports are based on customers using compromised passwords (exposed through breaches on other websites). In nearly all cases, two-factor verification eliminates this type of security risk.
"Nest users have the option to migrate to a Google Account, giving them access to additional tools and automatic security protections such as Suspicious activity detection, 2-Step Verification and Security Checkup. Millions of users have signed up for two-factor verification."
43.038902 -87.906474
VIDEO - (6) The Labour Party in 2019 - YouTube
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 13:42
VIDEO - Liveleak.com - Bombshell: Professor Stuns MSNBC Panel On Syria
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 13:32
By: Rambo33 (3414.50)
Tags: News, Politics, Syria, Obama, Jeffrey Sacks, CIA, Trump, Shah of Iran, Russians, Clinton, false flags, Rebels
Location: Washington, DC, USA
Views: 7688 Replies: 34 Score: 99link:
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VIDEO - Bill Weld Suggests Death Penalty for Trump Over Ukraine Call
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 13:31
Former Massachusetts governor and 2020 Republican challenger Bill Weld said on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Monday that the only penalty for what he says President Trump is guilty of is death. And the MSNBC hosts were fine with that.
In a single segment, Weld visited the topic of the death penalty for Trump, and those two instances are joined in the clip above. First he brought it up himself without being prompted. The precipitating issue is the phone call to the President of Ukraine about investigating Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden.
''Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election, it couldn't be clearer. And that's not just undermining democratic institutions, that is treason. It's treason, pure and simple. And the penalty for treason under the U.S. code is death. That's the only penalty,'' said Weld. ''The penalty under the Constitution is removal from office and that might look like a pretty good alternative to the president if he can work out a plea deal.''
After being pressed a few moments later by MSNBC political analyst Elise Jordan, Weld doubled down.
''You said that Donald Trump has committed treason and the penalty for treason under American law is death,'' said Jordan. She then checked to find out whether he'd sorted out the details on putting the President to death and whether he saw this execution proceeding. ''Do you '-- what's the legal framework here? Have you looked into this? What '-- how do you see this proceeding?''
''Well, the legal framework is under the U.S. criminal code. The only penalty for treason is death. It spelled out in the statute. Under the Constitution, as you know, grounds for removal from office, impeachment, and removal from any federal office, are treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,'' said Weld. ''We don't have to worry about bribery anymore, although I think he's committed that, we don't have to worry about other high crimes and misdemeanors, although I think he committed many. He's such a lawless man.''
''We've got treason. And we don't have to dribble around the court. We can go right for the hoop,'' he continued. ''It's well past time for this guy, in my opinion, to be carted off to save us all. He's daring us all to let him be totally lawless.''
Weld added that ''now the path is clear,'' in case there remained any doubt about his meaning. ''It's a whole new level, and we have to count noses among the Republicans in the Senate.''
Watch above, via MSNBC.
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VIDEO - Anderson Cooper Mocks Stephanie Grisham Bashing the Press
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 13:29
Anderson Cooper took dead aim at new White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham for her recent appearance on Fox and Friends, in which both the president's favorite morning show cast and his taxpayer-funded spokesperson teamed up to bash the press corps.
Pointing out that Grisham has failed to hold a single White House press briefing since being named to the position nearly three months ago, Cooper offered a detailed breakdown of her oh-so-friendly interview on Fox News earlier on Monday. At one point, the CNN host noted how Fox and Friends' Ainsley Earhardt slipped into the first-person plural '-- ''no longer are we doing that, right?'' '-- when describing the Trump administration's effective ban on formal press briefings.
''The anchor isn't even pretending to be independent of the White House PR Machine,'' Cooper pointed out. '''No longer are we doing that, right, the briefings, we're not doing that anymore.' Not 'you' aren't doing that, not 'the administration,' not 'the White House' but 'we.' I guess at least she's owning it. It tells you all you need to know about the information dispensed from that F&F crescent-shaped novelty couch.''
Cooper kept the clip of Grisham's appearance rolling, with a split-screen of his face, so viewers could see his mock-horrified reactions when Grisham complained that briefings were ''a lot of theater,'' that reporters were participating to ''get famous'' as Brian Kilmeade helpfully chimed in, and were ''writing books now.''
''Oh my God! Ugh! Friggin' reporters,'' Cooper cattily responded, parodying the Fox and Friends kaffeklatcch outrage. ''By the way, did you notice how quickly how Fox & Friends, did you notice how quickly they scrambled to agree with Grisham before she even finished her sentence?''
Cooper then went on to list all the many examples of former White House officials who have written books about their time in the Trump administration, including, notably, Grisham's predecessor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
''Maybe Stephanie Grisham is wise to keep a low profile,'' Cooper later concluded. ''She may be able to get a job after she's ultimately ousted and/or resigns. No one would know she works for the White House because nobody knows who she is or what she looks like because she's just not doing briefings. She's claiming the briefings were ended because reporters were being tough, asking tough questions and pointing out facts.''
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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VIDEO - FBI arrests Army soldier who allegedly discussed plans to bomb major American news network - ABC News
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 13:18
The FBI has arrested a U.S. soldier who allegedly discussed plans to bomb a major American news network, planned to travel to Ukraine to fight with violent far-right group Azov Battalion and allegedly distributed information online on how to build bombs. He also allegedly suggested targeting Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke.
According to charging documents in the case, Jarrett William Smith, who transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, in July, joined the U.S. military only after first expressing his desire to fight in Ukraine.
On Aug. 19, 2019, Smith allegedly spoke with an FBI informant in an online chat group and discussed a plan for an attack inside the U.S., his search for more "radicals" like himself and the possibility of killing members of the group Antifa.
Celestino Arce/NurPhoto via Getty Images Soldier of the Azov battalion patrolling close to a Ukrainian bombed position in Shyrokyne, Ukraine, July 22, 2015.In suggesting that the headquarters of the major news network could be a target, Smith allegedly said: "A large vehicle bomb. Fill a vehicle full of [explosives] then fill a ping pong ball with [commonly available chemical] via drilling then injection. Put the ball in the tank of the vehicle and leave. 30 minutes later, BOOM."
Then, in a Telegram conversation with an undercover FBI agent on Sept. 20, Smith allegedly had this exchange:
FBI: You got anyone down in Texas that would be a good fit for fire, destruction and death?SMITH: Outside of Beto? I don't know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died.
Joshua Lott/Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate, former Rep. Beto ORourke (D-TX) speaks during the Democratic Polk County Steak Fry, Sept. 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. Smith had allegedly been in communication with another American, Craig Lang, who traveled to Ukraine and fought with another far-right group, the Right Sector.
They were in contact since 2016, and authorities described Lang as a "mentor" to Smith.
On Dec. 8, 2018, Smith allegedly led a group chat on Facebook with Lang that included discussing Smith's ability to build bombs.
Smith allegedly said, "Oh yeah, I got knowledge of IEDs for days. We can make cell phone IEDs in the style of the Afghans. I can teach you that."
Department of Justice Craig Lane in an undated photo. Smith was arrested on Sept. 21, and he allegedly admitted to the FBI that he provided people online with instructions for building bombs.
According to charging documents, at least one of the instructions he allegedly provided in recent days would not have resulted in a viable explosive device.
He has been charged in Kansas with distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction.
Lang, meanwhile, is currently facing federal charges in Florida, North Carolina and Arizona in separate cases with alleged ties to -- among other things -- a murdered couple in Florida, the terrorist group al-Shabab in East Africa and groups fighting against the Venezuelan government.
According to court documents filed in those cases, in 2017 Lang met another Army veteran, Alex Jared Zwiefelhofer, in Ukraine, where they both fought with the Right Sector. And then in June 2017, Lang and Zwiefelhofer traveled to Kenya because they wanted to fight the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab there, Zwiefelhofer allegedly told authorities. But when the pair then allegedly tried to enter South Sudan, they were stopped and sent back to the United States.
Lang had failed to pay outstanding child support payments, so his passport was canceled.
Almost a year later, in April 2018, Lang and Zwiefelhofer allegedly killed a husband and wife in Lee County, Florida, during an armed robbery. In court documents, authorities said Lang and Zwiefelhofer committed the robbery to fund travel to Venezuela, where they wanted to participate in armed conflict against the Venezuelan government.
But, faced with a revoked passport, in August 2018, Lang and three others met at a hotel in Roxboro, North Carolina, where they allegedly devised a plan: Lang would give one of the men guns and money in exchange for using his personal information and documents to obtain a passport in that man's name, court documents allege. A passport in another man's name would allow Lang to evade law enforcement while traveling overseas en route to Ukraine, authorities said in court documents.
On Sept. 11, 2018, Lang gave the man a suitcase with four pistols, a military smoke grenade and about $1500 in cash, and within a week Lang bought a plane ticket to Ukraine using the man's identity. But then Lang used an altered version of his original revoked passport to obtain a Mexican visa, and by late September 2018 he went to Mexico and then Bogota, Colombia, according to court documents.
On Nov. 23, 2018, he departed Colombia for Madrid, Spain, and, "It is believed that LANG used this revoked passport '... to gain admission to Ukraine," court documents said.
"He is currently living in Ukraine," another court document noted.
Lang has since been indicted in Arizona on one count of misuse of a passport. He and three alleged co-conspirators were indicted in the Eastern District of North Carolina on nine counts of identity theft- and fraud-related charges. And he and Zwiefelhofer were most recently indicted in the Middle District of Florida on four counts for the armed robbery that left two people dead.
VIDEO - The Failing Brownface Times on Twitter: "@RealSaavedra Have y'all seen this? @adamcurry @THErealDVORAK? Holy cow" / Twitter
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 16:52
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VIDEO - Keiser Report: Mad Cows and Mad Men (E1439) - YouTube
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 14:03
VIDEO - Spielberg Hates That Netflix Movies Are Eligible for Oscars
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 12:30
The streaming platform is a way of life and it's not going anywhere anytime soon, but it has fundamentally changed the way that viewers consume content and the way that filmmakers approach their craft. Netflix and other streaming platforms have gotten into making feature-length movies that have limited theatrical runs to qualify for awards season, but not everybody believes that these movies should be able to compete with the traditional way of doing things. One such person is iconic director Steven Spielberg.
Steven Spielberg is out promoting is latest movie, Ready Player One, which hits theaters next week. In a recent interview, the director commented on the Netflix and Amazon platforms releasing movies to compete during awards season and believes that streaming movies should be eligible for Emmys instead of Oscars. While stating that television is "greater now than it's ever been in the history of television," Spielberg declared that "once you commit to a television format, you're a TV movie." The director also spoke out against streaming movies that get a limited theatrical release to compete for awards season, calling them "token qualifications."
The iconic director noted that streaming movies don't have to go through some of the struggle that it takes to put together a blockbuster movie to put out in theaters. Many artists believe that there needs to be some type of struggle or obstacle to overcome to make great art, which isn't the case for everybody. Steven Spielberg is responsible for some of the most legendary movies to ever grace the big screen in the history of film, and he knows what it's like to struggle to see your vision through to the finish line.
Related: Breaking Bad Movie El Camino Is Coming to Theaters for a Limited Time
Steven Spielberg's way of looking at the streaming platforms comes from an old school view, but it's a view that the director has earned. The 1975 production of Jaws was no picnic and neither was Jurassic Park. The director sees studios today that are just looking for the commercial success instead of letting a production develop and struggle to make it to the end. The guaranteed success is a way of the entertainment industry as a whole and is not just limited to Hollywood movies. Additionally, Steven Spielberg believes that movies should be made to see on the big screen, to fully immerse viewers in a world that filmmakers create.
There are many people who will argue with Steven Spielberg's point of view, but it's hard to argue with his track record. Going to the movies should be an experience and Spielberg is still trying to convey that in a world where people view his movies on a 5" phone screen. The Netflix and other streaming platform feature-length movie is still in its infancy and only time will tell where these new movies will fit in the grand scheme of things. Maybe the Academy Awards will have to add a new award category for streaming or original programming. You can check out the rest of what Steven Spielberg had to say about streaming platform movies below, thanks to the ITV News YouTube channel.
Topics: Netflix, Streaming, Oscars
Writer for Movieweb since 2017. Enjoys playing Catan when not writing about superheroes and Star Wars.
VIDEO - 7 On Your Side Investigates unvaccinated students quarantined in New York schools | abc7ny.com
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 11:01
SUFFOLK COUNTY (WABC) -- At least a handful of students in Suffolk County were kept out of class Wednesday for violating new vaccination orders.
The quarantine of sorts is largely in response to a new state law eliminating religious exemptions from immunizations.
Analysis of state enrollment and vaccination records by "7 On Your Side Investigates" indicated more than 26,000 students statewide and nearly 2,800 students in Suffolk County held religious exemptions in the 2017-2018 school year.
All of those students are now facing a deadline to begin required immunizations within 14 days of the start of the fall semester or be excluded from school.
The new law was passed in June following a nationwide measles outbreak, largely impacting New York, in an effort to increase vaccination and immunity rates.
"It doesn't take a lot of people not vaccinating their children and then the whole community is at risk," said Dr. Roberto Posada, a pediatric expert in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai.
On Wednesday, parents and students kept out of class protested outside of Rocky Point Middle School in Suffolk County.
They are opposed to the new state law repealing religious exemptions and requiring all students to become fully immunized unless they have a medical reason not to.
"The school has called and informed me that I should pick them," said Cathy Orofino, whose three boys previously held religious exemptions from vaccines.
Orofino said her boys rode the bus to school but school officials pulled them from class and held them in a conference room for the remainder of the school day.
"My plan is to send them every day until there is someone standing by the door not allowing them," Orofino said. "It's the state's responsibility to provide an education to our children."
The Rocky Point Union Free School District declined to comment on the situation.
Throughout Suffolk County, other districts handled the same dilemma.
At Jack Abrams School in Huntington Station, administrators kept students, not up to date on vaccines according to school records, in a separate room.
"He is medically due in December, but if I don't give him the shot tomorrow they won't let him in the classroom," said Joe Pupillo, the father of a child, pulled out of class.
Longwood Central Schools wrote the state begging it, to "pull back on implementation" of the law, and a former administrator of Long Island Baptist Academy, a private school whose entire student body previously held vaccination exemptions according to state records, said the school decided to close down partly in response to the law.
The state is threatening to fine schools that don't enforce the mandate up to $2,000 per student, per day.
In Public Service Announcements the New York state Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker urged parents to comply with the law.
"Vaccines are safe and effective. I'm a father. My kids are vaccinated," Zucker said.
It's unlikely that message will be readily received by parents like Orofino who argue the mandate violates their rights.
"If I have to go to court and explain to a judge why I am standing in front of him I am willing to do that," Orofino said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the state Health Department declined to say whether holding unvaccinated students in separate rooms would be interpreted as complying with the law writing only that, "Under the new legislation, schools are required to exclude students from school that are not in compliance."
Both the state Departments of Health and Education declined to comment on district requests to delay enforcement of the law. Each department said it was the other's responsibility.
However, a spokesperson for the Education Department said that vaccination requirements are not new and school districts should already have policies and procedures of some kind in place for handling non-compliance.
Meanwhile, a State Supreme Court judge who ruled in August on a request from opponents of the law for a preliminary injunction while the law is challenged in court, not only denied the request but also wrote in her decision, "Protecting public health... is unquestionably a compelling state interest," and added that the court does not, "see a path for the plaintiffs to succeed on the merits," indicating it was unlikely any legal challenges will prevail.
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VIDEO - Manny_Ottawa on Twitter: "This explains it all. @GretaThunberg mother actress??? Malena Ernman-Thunberg, buying a frozen pizza, wrapped in plastic https://t.co/MiiqRc1of7" / Twitter
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 04:21
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VIDEO - Sarah Abdallah on Twitter: "Live from #Paris today: Anti-Macron #YellowVests protests continue going strong in #France for the 45th week in a row, but still barely any coverage from the deceptive Western media. #GiletsJaunes #ClimateStrike https:/
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 04:12
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VIDEO - Brandon Straka on Twitter: "''I'm here to represent a different point of view on the Hollywood Red Carpet... you don't have to be a liberal and you don't have to be a Democrat''... ''Uhhhhmmmmm....''ðŸ‚🂠#WalkAway #MAGA #TRUMP #MAGAC
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 04:11
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VIDEO - (57) Guy Verhofstadt speech at the UK Liberal Democrats conference [14.09.2019] - YouTube
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 22:08
VIDEO - HOE ONS MONETAIRE SYSTEEM IN ELKAAR STORT - The Bossmaker, met Ronald Heister - YouTube
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 20:56
VIDEO - (1) We the Commuters: Homelessness in the Subways - YouTube
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 23:39
White nationalism is now recognized as a major terror threat by the Department of Homeland Security - WWOR
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 13:52
Group Content Team Posted: Sep 20, 2019 07:27 PM EDT Updated: Sep 20, 2019 09:01 PM EDT Ku Klux Klan ( KKK ) members are seen during a rally in Madison, Indiana on August 31, 2019. The Department of Homeland Security now recognizes white nationalism as a major terror threat. (Photo: Megan Jelinger / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) (C) Copyright 2000 - 2019 Fox Television Stations, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Ku Klux Klan ( KKK ) members are seen during a rally in Madison, Indiana on August 31, 2019. The Department of Homeland Security now recognizes white nationalism as a major terror threat. (Photo: Megan Jelinger / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) (C) Copyright 2000 - 2019 Fox Television Stations, LLC. All Rights Reserved.WASHINGTON, D.C. - Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced the agency's new counterterrorism strategy at an event at the Brookings institute Friday, and for the first time, DHS is focused on addressing the threat of white nationalism coming from within the borders of the United States.
''Today, the United States faces an evolving threat environment, and a threat of terrorism and targeted violence within our borders that is more diverse than at any time since the 9/11 attacks,'' said McAleenan.
DHS was founded after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with the mission of safeguarding the country from both foreign and domestic threats.
Almost two decades later, DHS has a different landscape to navigate in determining counterterrorism strategy because the U.S. faces increasingly complex and evolving threats.
''While the threat posed by foreign terrorist organizations like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda persists, we are acutely aware of the growing threat from enemies, both foreign and domestic, who seek to incite violence in our Nation's youth, disenfranchised, and disaffected, in order to attack their fellow citizens and fray at the seams of our diverse social fabric. This awareness, coupled with the history of recent tragedies, has galvanized the Department of Homeland Security to expand its counterterrorism mission focus beyond terrorists operating abroad, to include those radicalized to violence within our borders by violent extremists of any ideology.''
The Strategic Framework for Combating Terrorism and Targeted Violence lays out DHS's plan for achieving four major counterterrorism goals:
Understand the evolving terrorism and targeted violence threat environment, and support partners in the homeland security enterprise through this specialized knowledge. Prevent terrorists and other hostile actors from entering the United States, and deny them the opportunity to exploit the nation's trade, immigration, and domestic and international travel systems. Prevent terrorism and targeted violence. Enhance U.S. infrastructure protections and community preparedness.The report pulls no punches in describing domestic terror threats, saying, ''Domestic terrorists, motivated by racially- and ethnically-motivated violent extremism, anti-government and anti-authority violent extremism, and other violent extremist ideologies, represent a growing share of the threat to the Homeland.''
The explosion of the Internet and its role in bolstering terrorism is another focus of the report, which points out that the Internet is a tool often exploited by violent extremist groups to ''disseminate their messages globally and foster online communities that lure vulnerable individuals.''
DHS has outlined plan in the framework to address the issue of disinformation and ''halt the spread of information operations intended to promote radicalization to violent extremism or mobilization to violence'' through online communities, especially social media spaces.
The report notes that white supremacist violent extremists ''have adopted an increasingly transnational outlook in recent years,'' in large part due to their ability to form online communities.
''Similar to how ISIS inspired and connected with potential radical Islamist terrorists, white supremacist violent extremists connect with like-minded individuals online,'' the report says. ''In addition to mainstream social media platforms, white supremacist violent extremists use lesser-known sites like Gab, 8chan, and EndChan, as well as encrypted channels. Celebration of violence and conspiracy theories about the 'ethnic replacement' of whites as the majority ethnicity in various Western countries are prominent in their online circles.''
DHS is pushing for a whole-of-society approach, arguing that ''an aware society is the best foundation for preventing terrorism and targeted violence.'' As such, DHS plans on providing a variety of awareness briefings, engagement strategies and outreach efforts to inform as much of the public as possible about how to respond if an individual is mobilizing violence. The Department will also develop outreach programs for youth, who are recognized as a particularly vulnerable group.
The Strategic Framework also lays out plans for DHS to work with state and local agencies, as well as academic and non-government organizations, to improve data collection and analysis around terrorism and targeted violence, including hate crimes.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.
Boris Johnson Faces a New Scandal, and 'People See Blood in the Water'
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 13:38
(C) Vicki Couchman/Shutterstock Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri in London in 2013, when he was mayor of London. LONDON '-- On Prime Minister Boris Johnson's turbulent path to Downing Street, serial philandering and ethical sloppiness became part of his schtick, blots on a career so chaotic and beguiling that the British public always seemed to forgive the mistakes.
But Mr. Johnson is now facing a potentially more serious accusation of mixing friendship with a young woman and misspent public money, one that could test voters' patience in a looming general election.
In an article published this weekend, The Sunday Times of London reported that, when Mr. Johnson was mayor of London, his office directed tens of thousands of pounds in government money to a fledgling entrepreneur and close friend whose apartment he often visited during working hours.
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The entrepreneur, Jennifer Arcuri, an American and a former model, was 27 when she first crossed paths with Mr. Johnson in 2012. In the ensuing years, she was given coveted spots on trade missions with the mayor to Tel Aviv, New York, Singapore and Malaysia. In some instances, Mr. Johnson's office intervened to add her to the roster even though she did not meet the criteria for trade delegates, The Sunday Times reported.
Even with lawmakers consumed by the fight over Brexit, the scandal gathered steam on Monday.
On a plane to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Mr. Johnson repeatedly refused to answer reporters' questions about the article, including whether he was in a sexual relationship with Ms. Arcuri at the time.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, accused the prime minister of an ''alleged abuse of power.''
And the British Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which this year awarded Ms. Arcuri's company a grant of 100,000 pounds, or about $125,000, intended for British firms, said it was investigating the grant after The Sunday Times reported that Ms. Arcuri had vacated the company's registered address in England and now lives in California.
Mr. Johnson has previously weathered one scandal after another, building a buffer from his aura of chronic absent-mindedness and posh eccentricity. But he has spent considerable political capital in trying to enforce an Oct. 31 deadline for Brexit, and in the process provoked Parliament and the courts to try to check his power grab.
Analysts said that Mr. Johnson was left vulnerable for the first time in his two-decade political career.
''This goes into a new category '-- it's no longer just the tabloid sex scandal thing,'' said Sonia Purnell, the author of ''Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition.'' ''Every single ingredient there is alarming. And the fact that he will not answer any questions '-- or indeed deny any of those allegations '-- I think that is why some people see blood in the water.''
The scandal came in the midst of a tense week for the prime minister. He is trying to secure a new Brexit deal with European leaders. An early election is looming. And the Supreme Court is set to rule on Tuesday on whether Mr. Johnson's decision to suspend, or prorogue, Parliament at the height of the Brexit crisis was legal.
That shutdown was originally intended to keep lawmakers from interfering with his plans to yank Britain out of the European Union by Oct. 31, with or without a deal governing future relations. But it now serves a second purpose in shielding the prime minister from a very public interrogation over the government grants.
''The fact he's prorogued Parliament means no one can call him to account,'' Ms. Purnell said.
As mayor, Mr. Johnson was barred from giving friends improper benefits. He was also bound to declare any private entanglements that could have created conflicts of interest.
Hacker House, a cybersecurity company set up by Ms. Arcuri, did not to respond to a message on Monday seeking comment. She told The Sunday Times that the grants "were purely in respect of my role as a legitimate businesswoman.''
The Sunday Times reported that Ms. Arcuri arrived in London for business school after a short career in modeling and films. Her first venture '-- a series of networking events for entrepreneurs and policymakers in East London '-- was given a lift by Mr. Johnson, who appeared at four of her events, The Sunday Times reported.
Soon a promotional agency overseen by the mayor began giving the company money. Mr. Johnson also paid regular visits to Ms. Arcuri's East London apartment, which was outfitted with a dancing pole, sometimes during afternoon work breaks. The apartment building owner told The Sunday Times that Ms. Arcuri described Mr. Johnson as ''one of her best friends.''
And after Ms. Arcuri was turned down for a spot on a mayoral trade mission to Tel Aviv, Mr. Johnson's office asked for her to be added, even though her professional experience had little to do with the trip.
Mr. Johnson, who was mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, has occasionally mixed his elected positions with his dalliances before, as when he gave Helen Macintyre, an art adviser, an unpaid job as a fund-raiser for a public sculpture project. It was later revealed that Ms. Macintyre and Mr. Johnson had a child together.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Johnson was fired from the Conservative Party's leadership team after falsely denying reports of an extramarital affair.
But these incidents only served to bolster Mr. Johnson's image as a blustering and buffoonish, but always entertaining, lawmaker.
''He's got some sort of hold on the British psyche,'' Ms. Purnell said. ''He's created this persona: the toff who quotes Latin. And no one really asks him what he's doing, whether it's a good idea. That's what got him this far.''
The Labour Party was already raising an alarm on Monday about parts of the British news media, particularly the British Broadcasting Corporation, giving Mr. Johnson a pass, though the B.B.C. denied the allegation.
''This is how the establishment works,'' Mr. Corbyn said in a Twitter clip. ''They close ranks.''
Trump Trolls Greta Thunberg: 'She Seems Like a Very Happy Young Girl' | Breitbart
Tue, 24 Sep 2019 12:44
President Donald Trump mocked teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Monday evening, after she sent leftists swooning with her tearful, accusatory speech at the United Nations earlier in the day in New York.Thunberg, who came to the U.S. on a ''zero-emissions'' sailboat owned by the royal family of Monaco, said, in part (via NPR):
My message is that we'll be watching you.
This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!
You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.
At one point, Thunberg and Trump crossed paths, when the president made an unexpected visit to the UN's climate meeting.
Greta Thunberg's glare at Donald Trump is giving me the energy to get through this Monday pic.twitter.com/xdM0rdI2ln
'-- Sam Stryker (@sbstryker) September 23, 2019
The left hailed Thunberg as a hero, using her speech to attack the president, who famously pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accords in 2017. Several of Trump's would-be rivals in the 2020 election praised her speech.
In response, Trump offered one of his signature tweets:
She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see! https://t.co/1tQG6QcVKO
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2019
As bestselling author '-- and Breitbart News entertainment editor '-- Jerome Hudson notes in his book, 50 Things They Don't Want You to Know, the U.S. has lowered emissions while growing its economy through the use of fracking '-- a practice that most of the Democratic candidates want to stop.
Thunberg did not endorse nuclear power '-- a zero-emissions technology '-- or any other solutions.
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.
Are Netflix movies eligible for Oscars? - Quora
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 12:28
The rules and regulations for a film to be eligible for the Academy Awards are listed here .
Notably: the film has to be released at a Los Angeles County movie theater.
This means that you can essentially show the film at one theater, once and have it be eligible for an Academy Awards.
Netflix has had films eligible for the Academy Awards, the one that comes to mind is Beast of No Nation with Idris Elba.
But this applies beyond Netflix. Last year, OJ: Made in America, a 6 hour miniseries on ESPN, became awards eligible by showing at a movie theater.
Supreme Court sets Oct. 8 to hear whether workers can be fired for being LGBT
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 11:17
The Supreme Court has set Oct. 8 for oral arguments in the Title VII cases. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)The U.S. Supreme Court has designated Oct. 8 as the date when it will hear arguments on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to cases of anti-LGBT discrimination, setting up a showdown for when LGBT rights in all areas of life will hang in the balance.
On Monday, the Supreme Court's website modified the docket entries for each of three Title VII cases to indicate arguments will take place Oct. 8. During the proceedings, justices will consider whether anti-LGBT discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, and thus prohibited under Title VII, which bars discrimination based on sex in the workforce.
The consolidated case of Zarda v. Altitude Express and Bostock v. Clayton County will determine whether sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, while Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC will determine whether anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.
Although the litigation is set to determine whether Title VII, which covers workplace discrimination, applies to cases of anti-LGBT discrimination, the ruling will affect all federal laws barring discrimination on the basis of sex, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Fair Housing Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the estate of Donald Zarda, which is suing Altitude Express on the basis of the late gay skydiver being terminated from his job for being gay, and Aimee Stephens, a funeral worker who was terminated from Harris Funeral Homes after coming out as transgender.
Last week, the ACLU submitted its respondent brief for the Zarda case to lay out its arguments for why anti-gay discrimination should be considered a form of sex discrimination. Among other things, the ACLU argues anti-gay bias amounts to sex stereotyping and associational sex discrimination.
''Firing a man because he is attracted to other men is like refusing to hire a woman because she has school-age children, failing to promote a woman because she is too 'macho,' or countenancing the sexual harassment of a man who is perceived by his coworkers to be vulnerable,'' the brief states.
The ACLU also filed its respondent brief in the case of EEOC v. Harris Funeral Homes to make the argument anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.
''Had Ms. Stephens been assigned a female rather than a male sex at birth, Harris Homes would not have fired her for living openly as a woman,'' the brief says. ''Because Harris Homes would have treated Ms. Stephens differently had her assigned sex at birth been different, its decision to fire Ms. Stephens violated Title VII.''
Representing Gerald Lynn Bostock, a municipal worker alleging anti-gay discrimination within Clayton County in Georgia, is the Atlanta-based law firm Buckley Beal, LLP.
In the aftermath of President Trump remaking the court with a conservative majority, many legal observers have privately expressed skepticism justices will reach a conclusion in favor of LGBT rights.
Optimists, however, point to comments made by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, the new swing justice on the court, during the Obergefell arguments in 2014. At the time, Roberts speculated bans on same-sex marriage are a form of sex discrimination.
''I mean, if Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can't,'' Roberts said. ''And the difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn't that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?''
(Roberts ended up being in the minority of the court, which found bans on same-sex marriage are constitutional.)
It remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will participate in oral arguments. Since the time the Supreme Court agreed to hear the cases in April, the U.S. Justice Department has refused to say whether it will submit a friend-of-the-court brief or send the U.S. solicitor general to argue during oral arguments.
Previously, the Justice Department under the Trump administration has articulated its view Title VII doesn't cover anti-LGBT discrimination.
It made that case with respect to anti-gay discrimination when the Zarda case was pending before the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Similarly, the Justice Department in a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court asserted the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals wrongly concluded Title VII covers anti-trans discrimination in the Harris case.
(24) Simon Rozendaal on Twitter: "Hoe ik 40 jaar geleden in NRC Handelsblad met onjuiste informatie de antinucleaire gekte opstookte. Onbedoeld maar toch. Mijn nieuwe column in @ewmagazinenl (sorry, alleen volledig leesbaar voor abonnees). https://t.co/wI
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 10:26
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Student loans are not the No. 1 source of millennials' debt
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 10:13
It may seem like student loans and millennials are inextricably linked. But a new survey shows that education bills are not the leading source of debt among this generation.
Millennials (defined here as ages 23 to 38) have racked up an average of $27,900 in personal debt, excluding mortgages, according to Northwestern Mutual's 2019 Planning & Progress Study. The findings are based on a survey conducted by The Harris Poll of over 2,000 U.S. adults.
The biggest source of debt? Credit card bills. And that's a "troubling" trend, Chantel Bonneau, a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual, tells CNBC Make It.
"One issue that a lot of millennials have is that they have not wanted to sacrifice their lifestyle, even though they have student loans or lower incomes," Bonneau says. "That has left us in this spot where they've accumulated a significant amount of credit card debt."
That's especially concerning because it's important to save for future financial goals, such as buying a home or building a retirement fund, when you're young and have time to let compound interest grow your money.
But because millennials are balancing both student loans and credit card debt, "the likelihood that millennials are prioritizing retirement in any meaningful way as an overall generation seems unlikely," Bonneau says.
Yet for many millennials, the slide into debt goes beyond just lifestyle creep. Wages are not keeping up as day-to-day costs continue to soar, according to Alissa Quart, executive director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and author of "Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America."
The average paycheck only has the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago, a Pew Research report found. Almost two-thirds of millennials say they're living paycheck to paycheck and only 38% feel financially stable, according to Schwab's 2019 Modern Wealth report.
Student loans are also a factor. The number of households with student loan debt doubled from 1998 to 2016, Pew Research Center found. The median amount of loan debt millennials carried was $19,000, significantly higher than Gen Xers' balance of $12,800 at the same age.
While it may be easy to criticize millennials for simply spending too much, it's important to remember that there are other issues at play, Terri Kallsen, Schwab's executive vice president of investor services, tells CNBC Make It. "Spending is not the enemy that we might think that it is," she says.
Don't miss: Americans in this generation carry the highest levels of debt
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!
Thomas Cook: planes put on standby to rescue travellers as talks go to wire | Business | The Guardian
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 04:35
An emergency fleet of airlines is on standby to rescue 150,000 UK holidaymakers as talks continue between Thomas Cook and the government over a last-minute bailout.
Sources described the negotiations to save the UK's oldest travel agent as ''complex'' and ''pressured'' as attempts to find £200m in extra funds to prevent its collapse appeared increasingly fruitless.
It is believed a number of airlines have been contacted in case they are required to bring home around 150,000 British Thomas Cook customers currently abroad if talks with the government fail to prevent the 178-year-old company falling into administration.
On Saturday, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, which represents workers at the company, pleaded with the government to step in with ''real financial support''. The general secretary, Manuel Cortes, called for an urgent meeting with the government's business secretary, Andrea Leadsom.
He said in a letter: ''It is incumbent upon the government to act if required and save this iconic cornerstone of the British high street and the thousands of jobs that go with it.
''Thomas Cook can be a highly successful business and must be given every opportunity to flourish. I urge you to stand ready to assist Thomas Cook with real financial support.
''The company must be rescued no matter what. No British government in its right mind would countenance the loss of so many jobs and the prospect of just one major travel operator '' TUI '' controlling the mass market.''
People on package holidays are Atol-protected, meaning the government would be compelled to launch the biggest peacetime repatriation of British citizens at an estimated cost of £600m to the taxpayer.
When Monarch Airlines collapsed in 2017 the government and the industry regulator the Civil Aviation Authority set up what was in effect the UK's fifth largest airline from scratch, hiring 60 planes to fly to more than 30 destinations to bring home 100,000 stranded Britons.
Among the airlines used then included Easyjet, Go2Sky, Qatar Airways and ironically, Thomas Cook.
The company employs more than 21,000 people, including 9,000 in Britain, where it has 544 high-street travel agents.
Last night sources with knowledge of the ongoing talks said they were continuing with multiple investors, but would not comment on timings or even speculation that the company could fall into administration as early as Sunday. ''They need to keep bashing their heads together. The stark nature of what happens if a deal doesn't get done is there for all to see,'' said the source.
They added that the decision last week by lenders including Royal Bank of Scotland to pull out of a proposed Thomas Cook rescue deal was ''very last minute'' and placed the firm in an extremely fragile position. ''It has left them scrabbling around to find that money and it's not easy to find,'' added the source.
If the company does collapse an emergency cabinet meeting would be called immediately to put the massive repatriation plan, codenamed Operation Matterhorn, into action.
However, the travel expert Simon Calder urged holidaymakers already abroad on Thomas Cook holidays not to panic. Those with Atol-protected package holidays should be able to continue as normal with hotel bills paid and new flights provided by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the event of the company going into administration. ''All you need to do is to wait to be told when your replacement flight will be departing,'' he said.
Yet frantic queries to Thomas Cook were being made by customers, some of whom have spent tens of thousands of pounds on holidays and weddings, about whether booked trips would go ahead and concerns that those overseas could be stranded.
The CAA would not comment on the financial situation of individual businesses.
Thomas Cook, one of the world's largest travel companies, was founded in 1841 to operate temperance day trips, and has annual sales of £9bn. The company has had an eventful history, including being nationalised in 1948 and owning the boisterous Club 18-30 brand, which it recently closed after failing to find a buyer.
Thomas Cook collapses, stranding 150,000 UK holidaymakers | Business | The Guardian
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 04:34
Thomas Cook has ceased trading after talks failed to produce a funding lifeline for the ailing travel company, placing 9,000 British jobs at risk and triggering a huge repatriation effort to bring home 150,000 UK holidaymakers overseas.
The Civil Aviation Authority announced at 2am on Monday morning that the world's oldest holiday company had gone into administration and that all flights and bookings had been cancelled.
''Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect,'' the aviation regulator said in a statement. ''All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled.''
The official administration was timed for the early hours when the largest number of the 94-strong fleet of planes were on the ground.
Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook's chief executive, said the tour operator's collapse was a ''matter of profound regret'' as he apologised to the company's ''millions of customers, and thousands of employees''.
The government and the CAA have triggered the UK's largest ever peacetime repatriation '' codenamed Operation Matterhorn '' to bring holidaymakers home.
The Guardian also understands that airlines including British Airways and easyJet will be involved in the airlift for holidaymakers using Thomas Cook, whose destinations range from mainland Europe to north Africa, the Middle East, the US and the Caribbean.
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said on Sunday that the government had contingency plans in place for passengers and sought to reassure holidaymakers that they would not end up stuck overseas. The company had appealed to ministers for a bailout but Raab said the government did not ''systemically step in'' unless it was in the national interest.
''We would wait to see and hope that [Thomas Cook] can continue but in any event, as you would expect, we've got the contingency planning in place to make sure that in any worst-case scenario we can support all those who might otherwise be stranded,'' Raab told the BBC.
A last-ditch meeting at a law firm in central London between Thomas Cook executives and stakeholders including the firm's largest shareholder, Chinese conglomerate Fosun, came to a close after 5pm on Sunday, ending talks that began at 9am.
The tour operator is understood to have made a number of proposals, including asking lenders to reduce a £200m demand for extra funding and for credit card companies to release about £50m of cash they are holding as collateral against Thomas Cook bookings.
Thomas Cook's chief executive, Peter Fankhauserleft the meeting through the City law firm's loading bay flanked by colleagues without saying anything about the deal. He also stayed quiet when asked if he had any message for customers trapped abroad.
Kalyeena Makortoff (@kalyeena)No comment from Thomas Cook's CEO Peter Fankhauser as he left out of the loading bay of Latham & Watkins law firm following crunch talks over the company's future pic.twitter.com/tjzRbbP220
September 22, 2019Thomas Cook has struggled to cope with a £1.7bn debt burden. The 11th-hour meeting came after the company had agreed a £900m bailout '' but was then told to find another £200m, which proved a step too far.
Meanwhile, Thomas Cook holidaymakers were anxious that they might be evicted from their hotels or charged again for their holidays. Holiday companies do not normally pay hotels until up to 90 days after guests have left.
Customers at a hotel in Tunisia reported being locked in by security guards as the hotel demanded extra money, fearing it would not be paid by Thomas Cook. However, the company said the dispute had been resolved and holidaymakers were able to leave the hotel.
Thomas Cook also attempted to reassure worried customers that their flights would continue to operate as normal and that all their package holidays were protected under the Atol scheme, which guarantees the bookings of package holidaymakers. Atol covers holiday accommodation as well as return flights if customers are abroad at the time of a collapse. Future bookings are also protected.
The total cost of holidaymakers' guarantees to be paid by the Atol scheme '' underwritten by the Civil Aviation Authority watchdog '' is an estimated £600m now that the company has gone bust.
The business, which also has significant operations in mainland Europe, employs 21,000 people, many in the UK. It has a total of 600,000 people on holiday currently, including British travellers, with Germany and Scandinavia among its major customer bases alongside Britain. It also operates about 560 shops on UK high streets.
Thomas Cook owes its name to a humble and deeply religious 32-year-old cabinet-maker who, one June morning in 1841, hiked the 15 miles from his home in Market Harborough to Leicester, to attend a temperance meeting.
The former Baptist preacher believed that the ills of Victorian society stemmed largely from alcohol and, presumably fatigued from his walk, realised he could deploy the power of Britain's flourishing rail network to help spread the word.
Addressing the temperance meeting, he suggested that a train be hired to carry the movement's supporters to the next meeting in Loughborough.
Thus, on 5 July 1841, some 500 passengers travelled by a special train for the 24-mile round trip, paying a shilling apiece.
Over the next few years, Cook laid on ever more trains, introducing thousands of Britons to train travel for the first time. The first such outing to be run for commercial purposes was a trip to Liverpool in 1845.
Over the next decade or so, the business expanded to offer overseas trips, to France, Switzerland, Italy and beyond, to the US, Egypt and India.
His more business-minded son John expanded the tour operator and its reach was such that the government enlisted its expertise in an effort, ultimately in vain, to relieve General Gordon at the siege of Khartoum in 1885.
John's three sons inherited the business, which incorporated as Thos Cook & Son Ltd in 1924 and benefited from the increasing ease of international travel.
Its first flirtation with collapse came during the second world war, when the government requisitioned some of its assets and it was sold to Britain's railway companies, effectively a nationalisation.
But it boomed in the postwar years as growing prosperity fuelled the appetite for holidays and it returned to private ownership in 1972.
Since then, it has changed hands and changed shape via a series of mergers and takeovers. It nearly collapsed in 2011 but averted its demise with a bailout deal funded by banks.
Now, after 178 years of operation, it is relying on its largest shareholder '' the Chinese conglomerate Fosun '' to survive.
Mike Churcher, a 63-year-old retiree, who is currently on a Thomas Cook package holiday with his wife and 22-year-old son at the Royal Wings hotel in Antalya, Turkey, said he also feared being thrown out of his hotel.
He told the Guardian: ''There's no information. It's all very stoic '' we're all stiff upper lip, they're all tight-lipped '... we don't think they've been paid for our holiday [by Thomas Cook] yet so we're worried they may throw us out '... my concern is that if Thomas Cook goes under we could get turfed out. The Royal Wings staff are being very nice now though.''
Bryan Ferriman, 82, who is staying on Greek island of Leros with his wife, Louise Robertson, and has flights back to the UK with the tour operator booked for later this week.
He said: ''We have a flight from Kos to Birmingham late evening on Thursday '... Kos airport is not a good place to be stranded in. I have tried to email Thomas Cook but this is impossible and phoning is futile.''
Revealing that the couple had made a flight-only booking that is not covered by Atol, he added: ''We are independent and the suggestion is that this is a disadvantage given the present circumstances and that package holiday people will get preference in any rescue operation.
''I am familiar enough with this country to possibly find a room in a town five miles away, but who carries the cost here? ''
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), a trade union that represents workers at the company, said the British government should be ready to assist with ''real financial support''.
General secretary Manuel Cortes called for an urgent meeting with the business secretary, Andrea Leadsom.
Cortes said in a letter: ''It is incumbent upon the government to act if required and save this iconic cornerstone of the British high street and the thousands of jobs that go with it.''
Thomas Cook was founded in 1841 by Derbyshire cabinet-maker Thomas Cook. The first Thomas Cook holiday took customers 12 miles by train from Leicester to a temperance meeting in Loughborough. But it would be another four years before Cook got into the tourist business proper, organising train trips from Leicester, Nottingham and Derby to Liverpool. Scottish tours and trips to mainland Europe soon followed.
In 1928 the family sold up to the Belgian owners of the Orient Express, but the second world war saw it become part of the nationalised British Railways. After the war, sales took off again with the era of package holidays. By 1950, more than a million Britons were travelling abroad each year, mainly to France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
Thomas Cook returned to private ownership in 1972 and has seen a series of mergers and takeovers. In 2007, it merged with the UK-listed owner of Airtours, MyTravel Group, which nearly collapsed in 2011 but was bailed out by its banks. The rescue left Thomas Cook with a debt burden of £1.7bn and the company struggled to cope, leaving administration as the only option.
Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDeskIt is understood that Thomas Cook had approached the British government in an attempt to plug a gap in its funding.
A government spokesman said: ''We recognise it's a worrying time for holidaymakers and employees.
''The financial circumstances of individual businesses are a commercial matter but the government and the Civil Aviation Authority are monitoring the situation closely.''
Trump administration says joint UNC, Duke program portrays Islam too positively | TheHill
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 04:30
The Trump administration is pressuring the University of North Carolina and Duke University to revise their joint Middle East studies program or risk federal funding.
The Education Department wrote in an Aug. 29 letter to the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies that the program disproportionately portrays "the positive aspects of Islam." The agency requested they amend the program by Sept. 22 or lose a grant they've been receiving for almost a decade, The Associated Press reported.
The National Resource Center provides grants to programs that support foreign language learning.
The Education Department said in its letter that foreign language and national security have "taken a back seat to other priorities" that have "little or no relevance" to the objectives of the grant.
The Education Department wrote that the program places "a considerable emphasis" on the ''understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.''
The program has until Sept. 22 to send a "revised schedule of activities" and describe how each relates to foreign language and national security, the department said in its letter.
The Education Department on Thursday said the review is focusing on compliance.
"It is patently false that the Department is reviewing the program as being too positive on Islam," a department spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill. "We're reviewing UNC-Duke's use of grant funds because we are concerned that they have not followed congressional requirements for the program '-- that students must learn a foreign language and hear diverse regional perspectives."
"Our inquiry has nothing to do with their program having an Islamic bias," the spokesperson added. "Pro-Islamic programming isn't the concern '-- it's the lack of diversity and foreign language learning."
A spokesperson said in a statement that "the Consortium deeply values its partnership with the Department of Education and has always been strongly committed to complying with the purposes and requirements of the Title VI program."
"In keeping with the spirit of this partnership, the Consortium is committed to working with the Department to provide more information about its programs," the spokesperson said.
Duke declined to comment.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Elizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump DeVos says Trump 'could talk about education more' Republicans to hand out 'baseball cards' mocking Gary Peters in Michigan MORE 's investigation into the consortium began after Rep. George Holding George Edward Bell HoldingTrump administration says joint UNC, Duke program portrays Islam too positively Delay of new trade deal harms America's digital advantage Republicans troll Democrats with proposals to rename upcoming health care bill MORE (R-N.C.) sent her a letter condemning the program for holding a conference with "severe anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric."
DeVos said she was "troubled" by the letter and would look into the consortium, The Associated Press reported.
Holding told the AP that the Education Department has a right to ensure funding is being used properly.
''This has fallen through the cracks, and this could be going on at other educational institutions,'' he said. ''If the department's providing the money and giving guidance on how the money is to be used, I think they can be as in the weeds as they need to be.''
The consortium enrolls 960 students in Middle East language courses out of 6,791 students in the overall Middle East studies program, the letter said.
Updated at 4:31 p.m.
(5) Rosie memos on Twitter: "@IlhanMN Actually Duke and UNC have been lying about their programs and squandering Federal funds maybe you should try reading the actual letter (since you're in Congress) instead of relying on the Hill, just a thought. https:
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 04:29
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    Adam Curie this is your award-winning
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    most people don't have air-conditioning
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    yeah I don't mind a bit
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    I don't mind hundred degree temperatures
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    as long as the humidity is reasonable
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    now does the smell of the poop waft
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    through that hot air and just enhance
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    these I get to the East Bay where I am
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    oh that's too bad
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    although it does dry out the poop but
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    don't vote for him and I also believe
  • 2:59
    well okay now that we're so hold on let
  • 3:01
    me let me just open the segment
  • 3:11
    I have a feeling that will be used a lot
  • 3:16
    in yeah coming a few weeks so it could
  • 3:18
    be could be alright yeah I have a clip
  • 3:23
    from another rug that Greta cloned well
  • 3:26
    actually it's not even really a Greta
  • 3:27
    clone but I want to play this clip this
  • 3:30
    is another person at the summit this is
  • 3:34
    a very famous than she's 30
  • 3:37
    I think she's 13 and she started at 9
  • 3:40
    st. very just very much along the same
  • 3:42
    lines as Greta here she is severn
  • 3:44
    cullis-suzuki at the climate summit
  • 3:47
    we've raised all the money to come here
  • 3:49
    ourselves to come five thousand miles to
  • 3:52
    tell you adults you must change your
  • 3:55
    ways coming up here today I have no
  • 3:57
    hidden agenda I am fighting for my
  • 4:00
    future losing my future is not like
  • 4:04
    losing an election or a few points on
  • 4:07
    the stock market I am here to speak for
  • 4:10
    all generations to come I am here to
  • 4:12
    speak speak on behalf of the starving
  • 4:14
    children around the world whose cries go
  • 4:17
    unheard I am here to speak for the
  • 4:19
    countless animals dying across this
  • 4:22
    planet because they have nowhere left to
  • 4:24
  • 4:24
    I am afraid to go out in the Sun now
  • 4:27
    because of the holes in our ozone I'm
  • 4:31
    afraid to breathe the air because I
  • 4:33
    don't know what chemicals are in it now
  • 4:36
    you may try to pull a fast one on the
  • 4:38
    producers but you're not gonna pull it
  • 4:39
    on this podcaster I know what's up with
  • 4:42
    that clip is from 1992 I know I just had
  • 4:55
    paused 1992 it was a good year for
  • 4:59
    abusing kids and she was she's still in
  • 5:03
    the business you know her parents again
  • 5:04
    the same thing one of the parents is an
  • 5:06
    environmental listen trained her and she
  • 5:08
    started at 9mm and she's still in out
  • 5:11
    there you can look her up she has a wiki
  • 5:13
    page called severn cullis-suzuki she was
  • 5:19
    born in 79 that was in 92 so she was 13
  • 5:22
    and it was the same thing with a because
  • 5:24
    same similar types of parents as Greta I
  • 5:28
    think probably a little more together
  • 5:30
    than Greta a little less psycho you can
  • 5:38
    do it as you wish I personally I don't
  • 5:41
    want to disparage the kid I mean sixteen
  • 5:43
    year old kids are morons they don't know
  • 5:45
    what they're doing well she said she's
  • 5:47
    16 now
  • 5:48
    does the other girl was 13 and she was
  • 5:49
    actually sounding better
  • 5:51
    I'm just very insulting naive and I
  • 5:58
    don't know who wrote this for her but it
  • 5:59
    was I think they went overboard and this
  • 6:02
    is her speech to the UN speech
  • 6:03
    completely from beginning to or that me
  • 6:06
    I there may have been an intro at the
  • 6:08
    beginning catch but this is it you
  • 6:11
    should play it and we can just at least
  • 6:14
    say hello Greta this is all wrong I
  • 6:17
    shouldn't be up here I should be back in
  • 6:20
    school on the other side of the ocean
  • 6:23
    yet you all come to us young people for
  • 6:27
  • 6:27
    how dare you you have stolen my dreams