1199: Slackified

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 21m
December 15th, 2019
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Executive Producers: Baron Sir Lily of the Valley, Duke of the South Sir Patrick Coble, Sir Cumvent The Law, Dame Anonymous of Colonial Place, Joshua Landin, Sir Rudolf Vesely, Gary Thompson, Anonymous, Richard Kicklighter, Niels den Boer, Robert Fitler

Associate Executive Producers: Viscountess Dame Patricia of Biscayne Bay, Sir Donald of the Firebottles Count of Eastern Washington, Sir Scheister, Destroyer of Cones, Baronet Sir Jon Helmer, Steve Denton, T Odelstring, Poppy & Foxglove

Cover Artist: Larry Dane


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Britain needs its own Mueller report on Russian 'interference' | Russia | The Guardian
Thu, 12 Dec 2019 20:57
Show caption Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Osaka in June. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
OpinionGlenn R Simpson and Peter Fritsch
Conservative-leaning media in the UK and US see little mileage in exposing meddling that helped their own side
Thu 12 Dec 2019 06.17 EST
The British political system has become thoroughly compromised by Russian influence. It's high time its institutions '' including the media '' woke up to that fact. In 2016, both the United Kingdom and the United States were the targets of Russian efforts to swing their votes. The aim was to weaken the alliances that had constrained Vladimir Putin's ambitions, such as the European Union and Nato.
The efforts in both countries had much in common. They were aided by a transatlantic cast of characters loosely organised around the Trump and Brexit campaigns. Many of them worked in concert and interacted with Russians close to the Kremlin. The outcome in both countries was also eerily similar. Both countries have been at war with themselves in the three years since, pulling them back from the international stage at a time when Putin has consolidated his position in Crimea, Ukraine, Syria and beyond.
Our Washington-based research firm, Fusion GPS, conducted much of the early investigations into Russia's support of the Trump campaign, aided by our colleague Christopher Steele, the former head of MI6's Russia desk. While our initial focus was on Russian meddling in US politics, it has since become increasingly clear that Britain's political system has also been deeply affected by Russian influence operations.
There the similarities end. For the past three years, the US has undergone a messy and boisterous effort to understand the extent of Russian influence on the 2016 election and beyond. There have been multiple congressional investigations with the power to compel documents and testimony from witnesses. There was a two-year investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
After mostly ignoring the issue during the election campaign itself, the US media have made up for lost time by digging deeply into Russian interference and the extent of the Trump campaign's complicity.
All of these investigations have been imperfect. The congressional investigations often devolved into farce as Trump's political allies decided to investigate the investigators instead of Russia's attack. The Mueller report's damning findings were obfuscated by lawyerly language and twisted beyond recognition by Trump's loyal attorney general. Mueller interpreted his mandate narrowly, leaving crucial questions unanswered.
But the process did produce an avalanche of documents and testimony, a great deal of it public, that has aided understanding of what occurred. That makes it harder for Russia to reprise its attack. The Mueller report's main finding '' that Russia had engaged in a ''sweeping and systematic'' campaign to elect Trump '' was unambiguous and thoroughly documented. So too was Mueller's clarion call for Americans of all political persuasions to wake up to the continuing threat of Russian interference in its politics.
In Britain, the official response has consisted largely of denial. Consumed by bitter divisions over Brexit and public spending, it took years longer than it should have for parliament to conduct an investigation of Russian penetration of British politics. Even now, the government has suppressed its findings until after the election '' an unconscionable decision given the importance to the democratic system itself.
Many US institutions have shown more backbone and independence than their UK counterparts. Some of those who served in the Trump administration, such as the British-born Fiona Hill and Lt Col Alexander Vindman, have been willing to stand up in public and tell the truth, despite intimidation from the president and his allies. In the UK, the courageous whistleblowers needed to expose Russian influence have yet to emerge.
The UK media have started prying into these issues and important work has been conducted shedding light on the actions of Russian-backed groups such as the Conservative Friends of Russia. But, in general, news organisations have been slow off the mark, stymied by dwindling resources and overloaded by the hurricane of Brexit news. Britain's onerous libel laws and its culture of official secrecy have only made matters worse.
The former British PM Theresa May, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Tusk, who stepped down as president of the European Council this year, at the G20 summit in Hamburg last year. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images In both the US and the UK, there's an understandable tendency by those helped by Russian efforts to minimise the perception of this influence. Conservative-leaning media in both countries see little advantage in uncovering Russian meddling that would appear to undercut their own political preferences. In the US, some of Trump's defenders have even resorted to parroting Russian propaganda that falsely shifts the blame for their interference to rivals in Ukraine.
The British official instinct to handle these unpleasant matters in private has not served it well. The public cannot have confidence that the political establishment will deal with these thorny issues any better than it has with Brexit.
In short, Britain needs its own Mueller report: a full, independent and public accounting of Russian efforts to interfere in its politics. Few people will look forward to this process in a country already exhausted from fighting over Brexit. But it's essential to halt Russia's attack on Britain's democracy and restore confidence in its politics.
Putin will not be easily deterred. Russia's economy is smaller than Italy's, with little prospect of growth so long as it suffers under his kleptocracy. The only option to become relatively stronger, Putin believes, is to divide and weaken his adversaries. However, Putin is not the Wizard of Oz. He cannot invent underlying political currents; he can only intensify them.
This is the biggest danger we face: that we cannot escape our partisanship long enough to face down our common enemy. Putin is not a Conservative; nor is he a Republican. The next time he interferes it could easily be in favour of their political opponents. Britain's institutions must wake up to the Russian threat before Putin seriously damages the country's centuries-old democracy.
' Glenn R Simpson and Peter Fritsch, both former journalists, are the founders of the research firm Fusion GPS. Their new book is Crime in Progress: The Secret History of the Trump-Russia Investigation
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Boris Johnson and the Conservatives just won a landslide in the U.K. election. Should Democrats be worried?
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 10:23
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party won a landslide victory in the U.K.’s general election Thursday, returning the party to power for yet another term and giving the bombastic leader a clear mandate, for better or worse, to take the country out of the European Union. The unambiguous result handed the Tories 47 new seats, amounting to its biggest electoral victory since the days of Margaret Thatcher winning a third term some 30 years ago. Thursday’s results decimated the Labour Party, particularly in northern strongholds that have for generations been the backbone of the working class party’s support, leaving Labour with 59 seats fewer than it went into the election with. That means Johnson and the Tories now have a wide majority of 78 seats to work with to enact their agenda, after briefly losing their working majority before the vote as members of the party defected over the rancorous negotiations over Brexit.
The election was a devastating one for the Labour Party and its lefty leader Jeremy Corbyn, who worked to drag the party back to the left following its drift towards the political center under Tony Blair. It was a result the party had not seen the likes of since the 1980s and in the end was the party’s worst showing since 1935. It was a particularly disappointing loss for the recently resurgent left wing of the party that were buoyed by 2017 election results that saw Corbyn lead the party to a 30-seat gain, picking up nearly 10 percentage points of the national vote.
It was a seismic day in the U.K., so there is now an understandable urge among American politicians and observers to glean lessons and transpose them onto the looming contest in the U.S. in 11 months time. This is particularly the case because of how the 2016 Brexit referendum was, in retrospect, an unheeded harbinger of things to come in the U.S., namely the populist rise of Donald Trump.
Before we jump to that conclusion, that is obviously politically self-serving for certain Democrats, and members of the Labour Party looking to redirect power their way, it’s important to remember this election was about one thing: Brexit. There seems to be a bizarre collective amnesia in the U.K., even amongst the British press, over what’s happened over the past year to even intimate that this election could be about anything else other than Brexit. Was it lefty Corbynism that was to blame? It certainly did not help, and the Labour leader never managed to widen his appeal beyond his base, but this election was far from a referendum on Corbyn or his general ideas for the country. This election was a referendum on Brexit. The U.K. has had three general election in four years, and one just two years ago, so this election wasn’t due, it was called because of the legislative impasse on Brexit. Are there other challenges facing the country? Yes. Are they serious and urgent? Of course. Is that what this election was about? No. It was about Brexit to everyone, everyone except Jeremy Corbyn, that is.
What Corbyn can be blamed for is that he ran a campaign on every issue but Brexit. As the opposition leader, he never really rallied forcefully around the cause of remaining in the E.U. because, in fact, throughout his career, before finding himself at the helm of the party, he was deeply skeptical about the European project. During the six-week long campaign, the parties’ taglines alone showed a fundamentally different understanding of what the election was about. Labour: Change, etc. and For the Many, Not the Few. Tory: Get Brexit Done.
Running a campaign based on everything but the very issue that has consumed the country for years set the party up for defeat, pure and simple. Even Labour’s “Final Say on Brexit” position wasn’t really a position at all. “Within three months of coming to power, a Labour government will secure a sensible deal,” its policy states. “And within six months, we will put that deal to a public vote alongside the option to remain. A Labour government will implement whatever the people decide.” That doesn’t exactly sound like leadership. In a country weary of wading back into the morass, the Labour position looked a lot like starting over again. The British people have heard a lot about deals, and what constitutes a good one versus a bad one, but the electorate despite nearly half of it supporting the U.K.’s continued membership in the E.U. had shifted.
Corbyn never offered a coherent alternative to the Leave vision, no matter how ill-informed and duplicitous much of the Leave effort was and continues to be. Johnson made it a point of emphasis during the campaign to ask, simply, does Jeremy Corbyn want to remain or leave the E.U. at this point? Corbyn’s position to “leave it to the people” felt like just that: positioning. It was effectively a non-answer. If he was triangulating on the yes-or-no question of a generation, who’s sticking around to hear his plans for anything else?
To be fair to Corbyn, the Labour leader was dealt an incredibly difficult, if not innately losing hand strategically when it came to the politics of Brexit. He had to straddle the reality that much of his party had voted to remain, but that a significant percentage now wanted to move on, not relitigate. For the most ardent of both those positions—Remain vs. Leave or just move on— there were parties there running on either option, the Liberal Democrats as the party of hardcore Remainers and the Tories as the party of not just of the Brexiters, but increasingly the choice of voters that just wanted to be done with the theatrics of this, merely stage one of the Brexit process. That left the Labour Party somewhere in between, in no man’s land on an era-defining issue. That’s a tough place to be and a losing proposition from a leadership standpoint, no matter which party you are in whatever country you’re running in.
What does all that mean for 2020? There are a couple of ways to read it when it comes to Democratic politics over the coming year. One way is to make sure you’re where the voters are on the big issues, which seems obvious enough but Labour somehow failed to do. That is the case Democratic centrists will make, that the party needs to needs to optimize its vote-getting potential. The other is that you need to offer a vision, articulate it, and persuade the American people on it, not just at the end, but throughout, something Labour also came up short on. What is clear abundantly from Labour’s loss under Jeremy Corbyn is that you can’t do both.
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Wikileaks Document Shows John Podesta's Emails Were Hacked in 2016 By the Ukraine, Not Russia - Creepy Podesta Brothers and Hillary Connected to Largest Russian Bank
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 10:19
Wikileaks Document Shows John Podesta's Emails Were Hacked in 2016 By the Ukraine, Not Russia '' Creepy Podesta Brothers and Hillary Connected to Largest Russian Bank by Joe Hoft December 13, 2019
Evidence shows that the Podesta emails were hacked by someone in the Ukraine, not Russia. This could be because the creepy Podesta Brothers represented and lobbied for Russia's largest bank.An email has been uncovered that was part of the Podesta email dump that was released by WikiLeaks shortly before the 2016 election.
The email shows that John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's Campaign Chairman, was hacked by someone in the Ukraine '-- according to the location stamp:
Interesting that this is the case with the Ukraine now so much in the news. This effort to obtain Podesta's emails by someone in the Ukraine may be because the creepy Podesta brothers were representing and lobbying for Russia's largest bank, Sberbank.
Hillary was closely tied to the Russians through this bank:
8) "Some of these companies were initially connected to the Troika Dialog investment fund, which was controlled and run by #Sberbank after the bank bought the Troika Dialog investment bank."https://t.co/YBgtHXwJhD
'-- Shannon (@Avery1776) November 29, 2018
John Podesta received options from the Joule related companies. These were Russian connections:
https://t.co/Ss66IGRD9n https://t.co/0x00Qqp5gxhttps://t.co/hh4mOGNA0Ihttps://t.co/hh4mOGNA0Ihttps://t.co/t6JIX08ukF https://t.co/t6JIX08ukF 'JOULE 001. Joinder Agreement Signature'JOULE 002. Transfer Agreement Signature'JOULE 003. Stock Option Agreement Signature
'-- Shannon (@Avery1776) November 29, 2018
The criminal connections between Hillary and Russia and the Ukraine run deep.What the hell was going on with these corrupt politicians?Hat tip Kevin O.
Hillary Clinton, 72, looks incredibly youthful at an event on Broadway | Daily Mail Online
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 17:03
Hillary Clinton looked wonderfully youthful at an event on Broadway in New York last night - and aesthetic experts suggest it could be down to r egular 'tweakments' and cosmetic procedures .
The radiant former First Lady, 72, showed off a wrinkle-free complexion and plumped-up cheeks as she joined her husband Bill behind the scenes of Ain't Too Proud: The Temptations Musical at The Imperial Theatre.
Sporting a vibrant pink tunic dress with black trousers and a statement gold necklace, Chicago-born Hillary smiled as she chatted and posed with the cast.
Her glowing skin was noticeably smoother and her cheeks more defined than earlier in the week, when she spoke at the Jewish Labor Committee's Annual Human Rights Awards Dinner in the city on Monday.
Aesthetic expert Dr Ross Perry, founder of www.cosmedics.co.uk, said Hillary has been 'genetically blessed' with good skin - but claimed it could also be a result of Botox, injectable dermal fillers and Blepharoplasty .
The radiant former First Lady, 72, showed off a wrinkle-free complexion as she joined her husband Bill behind the scenes of Ain't Too Proud: The Temptations Musical at The Imperial Theatre
Yesterday Hillary's skin was noticeably smoother and her cheeks more defined than earlier in the week, when she spoke at the Jewish Labor Committee's Annual Human Rights Awards Dinner in the city on Monday (pictured)
He told FEMAIL: 'Hilary Clinton looks fantastic and I would suggest this is down to regular tweakments and procedures over the years, which appears less noticeable than having dramatic work done all in one go.
'Her forehead looks particularly smooth, which would suggest Botox has been administered in the forehead, frown line and around the eye area, as there appears to be minimal crows feet.
'For someone of 72, I'd expect to see a more furrowed brow with extensive creasing and lines around the eyes.'
Dr Perry added that he suspects Hillary may have had Blepharoplasty, a procedure in which excess skin above the eye is removed.
According to aesthetic expert Dr Ross Perry, founder of CosmedicsUK, the politician's youthful appearance is down to 'regular tweakments and procedures' over the years
Dr Perry suggested Hillary's forehead looks particularly smooth, which would suggest Botox has been administered in the forehead, frown line and around the eye area. Pictured with her husband Bill last night
'Around the eye area again looks incredibly youthful, and as we age the skin around our eyes tends to become loose and wrinkled, making the eyes appear tired-looking,' he said.
'I would suspect Hilary may well have had Blepharoplasty which removes crepey, excess skin from above the eye which causes hooding and develops as we age.
'I would suggest she's also had this to target the under eye bags and to smooth further wrinkles from the corners of her eyes.'
Dr Perry added he believes it's 'likely Hillary (pictured last night) has had some help with the use of injectable dermal wrinkle injections'
Despite her advancing years, Hillary's face has remained relatively full-looking, which Dr Perry said helps with the ageing process.
He added: 'I'd say it's also likely Hillary has had some help with the use of injectable dermal wrinkle injections.
'These tiny little injections work very simply by adding extra volume into the skin to fill out lines or creases, with the latest generation of deep fillers especially designed for use in larger areas, such as hollows that can appear below the eyes or in the cheek.
'As we can see in recent pictures, the cheek area looks full and rounded, which gives a more youthful appearance.'
'For someone of 72, I'd expect to see a more furrowed brow with extensive creasing and lines around the eyes,' said Dr Perry of Hillary, pictured during her appearance on the Graham Norton show in November
Aesthetic practitioner Dr Judy Todd, who runs the Synergy Clinic in Glasgow and London, added: 'There also appears to be slightly more volume in the lips which could also be from a filler.'
It's not the first time Hillary's young-looking complexion has come under scrutiny.
During her 2016 presidential campaign there was speculation she'd had cosmetic surgery, while journalist Edward Klein claimed in his 2015 book Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary that her husband 'wanted her to get a face-lift'.
He wrote: 'She couldn't do anything about the calendar '-- she'd be 69 years old in 2016 '-- but she could do something about the lines and sagging skin on her face.'
Klein added that a cosmetic surgeon set up a discreet 'mini operating room' in her Chappaqua home 'with the latest medical equipment' - though he didn't cite any evidence.
During her presidential campaign there was speculation Hillary (pictured left in Iowa and right in Washington in October 2016) had cosmetic surgery
'She had her cheeks lifted and her wrinkles and lines Botoxed... She had work done on her eyes as well as on her neck and forehead,' he wrote.
He went on to quote one of Hillary's friends, who claimed: 'She took it gradually and didn't have anything drastic done, because she wanted to evaluate the changes as she proceeded.
'If it had started to make her look weird, she would have stopped it immediately. It was a pretty big deal and required multiple visits.'
Hillary's spokesperson Nick Merrill said of Klein's book: 'Someone should do a book about Ed. They could call it "Bulls**t: The Problem With Anything Ed Klein Writes".'
FEMAIL has reached out to the Clinton Foundation for comment.
Green New Deal
More than 50 scientists say we must reach 'peak meat' by 2030 to save the planet from climate change
Thu, 12 Dec 2019 22:33
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has established ''Meatless Mondays'' in public schools, a step Bloomberg Opinion recommended for everyone. TIME suggested this year that Americans go meatless for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Now, more than 50 scientists have published a letter in the journal Lancet Planetary Health recommending setting 2030 ''as the peak year for meat consumption, after which it needs to drop dramatically'' '-- though other scientists would argue that 2030 would be too late to bring the planet back from extinction.
World must hit "peak meat" by 2030 to avoid climate crisis, scientists say https://t.co/EI3bPI7jkx pic.twitter.com/6UFLGFVCCT
'-- CBS News (@CBSNews) December 13, 2019
We guess that means we have just over 10 years to eat the world's meat supply.
I get your peak meat right here'.....
'-- Harley W Daugherty (@Beowulf_i_am) December 13, 2019
Up yours, hippie. https://t.co/K6EauouhUO
'-- Sir 'editorial standards' Mycroft (@sir_mycroft) December 13, 2019
'-- MagnoliaPeach ðŸ'ƒðŸ¼ (@magnoliapeach) December 13, 2019
They're just printing stream of consciousness stuff now'...
'-- CB762 (@COMBLOC762) December 13, 2019
"With livestock production contributing to climate change, people need to drastically reduce how much meat they eat."Ummmmmmm'.... no. Thanks for asking though.
'-- Nomad (@Nomad1799) December 13, 2019
I'll take charge of hitting peak bacon. Got it covered 👍
'-- Digital Paul (@Paul_Cook) December 13, 2019
From my cold, dead hand! pic.twitter.com/1a67sFL3Yj
'-- JFH (@JeromehartlF) December 13, 2019
I'm doing my best already but if it will help the world peak I will definitely patriotically eat even more meat to assure we can all reach "ð'ð'žð'šð'¤ ð'Œð'žð'šð'­" by 2030. I feel like an astronaut right now'....I have the right stuff!
'-- Henry Chinaski (@ashsoles) December 13, 2019
damn fire up the grill that picture makes me hungry
'-- james dollar (@jamesdollar5) December 13, 2019
'-- The Laughing Man (@laughingmantwit) December 13, 2019
Peak Meat? pic.twitter.com/UgxFAZTPeI
'-- mark mccleary (@joey3574) December 13, 2019
Great band name.
'-- Doris Daylight (@DorisDaylight1) December 13, 2019
'-- Dan 🇺🇸 (@danieltobin) December 13, 2019
Just stop
'-- Stand w Hong Kong (@RubricMarlin) December 13, 2019
Propaganda much?
'-- Moran (@Cajunhammer68) December 13, 2019
'-- Dr $irhilly (@irhilly) December 13, 2019
How long before we have to hit peak stupid?
'-- David Klang (@dsklang21) December 13, 2019
Not happening.
'-- Peasant H (@c_gt1982) December 13, 2019
I was told we were screwed much sooner than that regardless. So eat, drink and be merry!
'-- NefariousNarwhal (@NecroticNewt) December 13, 2019
From the people who brought you'...
''We're headed for a second ice age''
''The hole in the ozone is going to kill us.''
''New York will be under water by 2018.''
'-- Rob Laurich (@rlaurich) December 13, 2019
Peak meat is the new peak oil https://t.co/xn4gsIema2
'-- Miguel de Le"n (@xchixm) December 13, 2019
Send it my way'... I'll get rid of it. pic.twitter.com/DpCBM7YpB7
'-- Oz 🇺🇸 ðŸ‡...🇺 🇧🇷 (@Sir_0z) December 13, 2019
Now I'm looking up ''peak meat'' trying to figure out what that means'...this should get interesting.
'-- Lindsey McNeely (@LMcNeely1) December 13, 2019
I thought this was a parody article'...
'-- Steve Younghance (@slydawgie) December 13, 2019
Global warming comes from idiots cooking their meat past medium.
Greta is mad folks, just stop it (at rare)!
'-- Spicy McHaggis (@blackhawkppd) December 13, 2019
Will We Hit #PeakMeat Before 2030?
'-- The YouTube Critic 2.1 (@nick_mathews22) December 13, 2019
You eat bugs and twigs. I'll eat meat.
'-- Tim DeFelice (@TheTimDeFelice) December 13, 2019
The apocalypse is always 10 years away. So predictable.
'-- RPGuy16 (@RPGuy16) December 13, 2019
'Should we gas them?' The Economist laments that more poor people are eating meat because it's 'bad news for the environment' https://t.co/Fogk7NPBIj
'-- Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) August 21, 2019
Ruim twintig arrestaties bij illegale demonstratie op Schiphol | ThePostOnline
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 11:35
De marechaussee heeft zaterdag ruim twintig mensen aangehouden bij de betoging om een klimaatplan van de luchthaven af te dwingen, meldt een woordvoerder. Marechaussees zijn al uren bezig met het weghalen en aanhouden van actievoerders van Greenpeace uit Schiphol Plaza. Kort voor 17.00 uur bevonden zich nog ruim vijftien demonstranten in het gebouw.
Buiten stonden vijf bussen klaar om de demonstranten af te voeren. Ze zijn bestuurlijk verplaatst en hebben een gebiedsverbod tot einde zondagavond uur voor Schiphol gekregen, meldt de woordvoerder van de marechaussee.
Een paar honderd mensen hadden zich sinds zaterdagochtend in de hal verzameld voor het protest. Een groot deel van de groep actievoerders zat urenlang gearmd in de hal omringd door marechaussees. Sommigen hadden zich vastgeketend aan een ijzeren paal. Mensen werden niet als groep maar (C)(C)n voor (C)(C)n weggehaald.
''Het is een vreedzame bijeenkomst en daarom willen we het vreedzaam oplossen'', aldus de woordvoerder van de marechaussee. De mensen die worden weggehaald verzetten zich echter hevig. Ze worden vaak, door meerdere marechaussees ondersteboven weggedragen.
Greenpeace had van Schiphol en van de gemeente Haarlemmermeer geen toestemming om in Schiphol Plaza actie te voeren. De demonstranten verzamelden zich zaterdagochtend echter toch in de hal. De marechaussee liet weten dat ze om 12.00 uur moesten vertrekken, maar daar werd geen gehoor aan gegeven.
Activiste Faiza Oulahsen van Greenpeace sprak de actievoerders toe en gaf aan dat ze mogelijk gearresteerd kunnen worden. ''Vroeg of laat komen we terug. We gaan door. Desnoods bezetten we een landingsbaan.''
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EU Looks Set to Hit US With Carbon Tariffs in Potential Escalation of Trade War
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:30
Europe15:55 14.12.2019Get short URL
Politicians in Brussels are concerned that if they do not protect European industries, which are forced to comply with emissions reduction targets, companies may move abroad to countries with less onerous targets.
European Union member states are understood to be on course to set a carbon border tax, raising the prospect of another escalation in the ongoing fierce trade dispute with the United States.
The intention became clear at this week's COP25 climate conference, where the international community is trying to negotiate a rulebook on how to implement the 2015 Paris agreement.
Spain's economics minister, Nadia Calvino Santamaria, said at a press conference that she wants a carbon tariff ''as soon as possible'' on any country that doesn't comply with the agreement.
''We need to ensure that climate policy does not create an unlevel playing field between those players which operate in jurisdictions which have higher standards and those that maybe do not," she said, as quoted by Politico.European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans said the measure would be adopted as a means to ''protect [European] industries'', which are forced to comply with strict greenhouse gas rules as Europe aims to become the world's first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.
There are concerns in Brussels that if no changes are made, European-based companies might be forced to move to jurisdictions with easier environmental restrictions.
The proposed 'carbon wall', if built, would become a particular obstacle to the United States, one of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, which is set to withdraw from the 2015 pact next year.
The planned tariff also looks like a leaf out of Trump's playbook: the US President imposed steel and aluminium tariffs on the EU last year to improve the trade balance and give an advantage to American manufacturers. He has also threatened massive levies on European-made aircraft, autos and agricultural goods.
US has concerns over the ideaSenate Energy Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski said she hoped the EU would not impose new tariffs, but former Secretary of State John Kerry predicted that they were imminent.
''It's not whether it's going to happen '-- it's going to happen,'' he told Politico.A senior US official was quoted as saying the tax is ''of great concern to us.''
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the highest-profile European leader to express concern over the plan. She warned that the countries that face the carbon border tax could interpret it ''as a kind of protectionist measure.''
However, France, one of the main supporters of this idea, is said to have secured support from Spain and persuaded Germany to reconsider it.
Talks stall at COP25 summitWorld leaders are currently discussing efforts to fight climate change at the COP25 climate talks in Madrid.
The Paris agreement is scheduled to take effect on 1 January, and the main goal of the summit is to finalise the rules on how to implement it. The summit was supposed to end on Friday but stretched into the weekend as the countries failed to agree over several issues.
It seems that the national delegations were at odds over Article 6 of the agreement, which aims to create a global carbon market. Under this article, a mechanism is being proposed that would allow a nation to meet its emissions target not by reducing them, but by purchasing credits from another nation that comes in under its target. Critics argue that this mechanism would undermine the overall progress.
Carlos Fuller, the chief negotiator for the Association of Small Island Developing States, blamed the stalled talks on Brazil, China, India and Saudi Arabia.
Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace, has also accused Brazil and Saudi Arabia of blocking strict wording such as ''climate emergency'' from international obligations.
U.S., Mexico, and Canada Sign ''Progressive'' USMCA Regional Government Scheme
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:10
' United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister Jesºs Seade, and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland sign amendments to USMCA
' Mexican senator says judges on USMCA bi-national panels will have ''regional jurisdiction''
' Freeland calls USMCA a ''progressive trade agreement'' again
' Freeland snubs Trump in remarks at new signing ceremony
' Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal says USMCA is ''an agreement shaped by Democrats''
' Neal and Lighthizer agree that amended USMCA is template for future trade agreements
' GOP Senator Pat Toomey says USMCA has ''moved way to the left''
On Tuesday, in Mexico City, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister Jesºs Seade Kuri, and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland signed the Protocol of Amendments to the Agreement Between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada. This 27-page document are all of the changes to the USMCA that Democrats spent months negotiating with Lighthizer and the Trump Administration in order to garner their support for approving the USMCA in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. The Protocol of Amendments was signed in Mexico City just as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats held a press conference on Capitol Hill announcing and praising the new changes to the agreement.
Senator Ricardo Monreal vila of Mexico's socialist National Regeneration Movement, known by its Spanish acronym MORENA, announced, ''On behalf of the Senate of the Republic '-- the body empowered by the constitution for the ratification of accords, treaties, and international conventions '-- we celebrate that Mexico [and the] United States have made an agreement that allows us to move towards the approval and ratification of [the] trade Treaty between Mexico, United States, and Canada in the two remaining countries.''
Senator Monreal didn't waste any time in touting the supranational nature of the USMCA. ''It will now be easier to establish panels of regional jurisdiction, or with regional jurisdiction, composed of judges from both countries that address all types of differences that may arise on any subject covered by the treaty,'' Monreal proclaimed.
The ''regional jurisdiction'' Monreal described would operate outside the established judicial systems or courts of Mexico, the United States, and Canada and not be subject to them '-- thus potentially subordinating U.S. citizens and companies to these panels in the event of a dispute '-- much like NAFTA's international dispute settlement mechanisms or ''NAFTA courts.''
Of the newly updated USMCA, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said, ''When this agreement is enacted, NAFTA will not only be preserved, it will be updated, improved, and modernized for the 21st century.''
Freeland's comments about how the USMCA preserves NAFTA and modernizes it came just hours after President Trump tweeted:
America's great USMCA Trade Bill is looking good. It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody - Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions - tremendous support. Importantly, we will finally end our Country's worst Trade Deal, NAFTA!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2019Freeland's remarks are also contrary to those delivered by President Trump at the White House Rose Garden, celebrating the completion of the initial text of the USMCA on October 1, 2018. ''It's a much different deal. It's a brand-new deal. It's not NAFTA redone,'' Trump then jubilantly declared.
Freeland again touted, ''This is a progressive trade agreement that will be profoundly beneficial for our economy, for Canadian families, and for the middle class.'' (Emphasis added.) Freeland elaborated, ''Today, Canada, the United States, and Mexico have agreed to improvements to the new NAFTA that strengthen state-to-state dispute settlement, labor protection, environmental protection, intellectual property, the automotive rules of origin, and will help keep the most advanced medicine affordable for Canadians.''
On the subject of integration, Freeland added, ''These amendments will ensure that rules-based trade between our three countries will continue to support the economic prosperity of all of our people and the global competitiveness of North America as a region.'' (Emphasis added.) In other words, the USMCA is not intended to strengthen the individual competitiveness of Canada, the United States, and Mexico as independent sovereign nations, but as an amalgamated ''region,'' similar to the European Union's Eurozone or common market.
Freeland also snubbed President Trump twice in her remarks, when she said, ''Our three countries have worked very hard together to modernize NAFTA and to maintain key provisions that provide stability, predictability, and rules-based trade for North American consumers and businesses and we have accomplished this together at a moment when around the world it is increasingly difficult to get trade deals done.'' (Emphasis added.)
''I would like to thank President L"pez Obrador, Under Secretary Jesus Seade, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, my dear friend Ambassador Bob Lighthizer, and of course my Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,'' Freeland added, omitting President Trump's name, who wasn't present at the ceremony '-- but neither were Speaker Pelosi and Prime Minister Trudeau.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer began his remarks by heaping praises on Mexico's President Andr(C)s Manuel L"pez Obrador. However, according to a dossier declassified in 2018 that was originally prepared by both Mexico's intelligence agency CISEN (Spanish acronym for the Center for Investigation and National Security) and Mexico's Department of Foreign Investigation of the Federal Security Directorate (DFS), L"pez Obrador actively helped to spread Marxism-Leninism and had a close relationship with the Mexican Communist Party.
''Andr(C)s Manuel L"pez Obrador, 35 years old and originally from the town of Tepetitn, municipality of Macuspana, currently resides in Mexico City [and] was a supporter of the PSUM-PCM (Unified Socialist Party-Communist Party of Mexico); in 1976 he entered the PRI,'' the dossier stated.
PRI is the acronym for the Institutional Revolutionary Party. In 1989, L"pez Obrador co-founded the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which was created by a merger of the Socialist Mexican Party (PMS), Mexican Workers' Party (PMT), Unified Socialist Party of Mexico (PSUM), and the Union of the Communist Left (UIC). Both the PRI and PRD are members of the Socialist International.
During the 2006 and 2012 Mexican federal elections, L"pez Obrador was the PRD's presidential candidate. Following the 2012 election, he left the PRD and founded the National Regeneration Movement, known by its Spanish acronym MORENA. Both the PRD and MORENA are also members of the S£o Paulo Forum '-- a regional conference of openly Marxist, socialist, and communist parties in Latin America.
To highlight just how radical and subversive this outfit and its members are, the S£o Paulo Forum's cadre of luminary party members include the Communist Party of Argentina, the Communist Party of Bolivia, Evo Morales' Movement for Socialism, Lula de Silva's Workers' Party in Brazil, the Communist Party of Brazil, the Brazilian Communist Party, the Communist Party of Chile, the Socialist Party of Chile, the Communist Party of Cuba, El Salvador's Farabundo Mart­ National Liberation Front (FMLN), and Nicaragua's Sandinista National Liberation Front.
In November, L"pez Obrador's government granted political asylum to Evo Morales after the socialist tin-pot dictator was overthrown and fled Bolivia.
Nevertheless, Lighthizer could not help but praise Mexico's communist president. ''On a personal note, we have followed your career. I find it to be extraordinary,'' Lighthizer raved. He added, ''I'm honored to be here with the president of Mexico, who is this historic figure.''
Of the USMCA, Lighthizer described it as ''the best trade agreement in history.'' Lighthizer continued to tout the bipartisan nature of the new agreement. ''The president of the United States worked on it, the Speaker worked on it, innumerable Democrats and Republicans worked on it, the labor unions were involved, business was involved in the United States, and it's nothing short of a miracle that we have all come together.''
Following remarks delivered by Mexico's Deputy Foreign Minister Jesºs Seade Kuri, all three representatives '-- Freeland, Lighthizer, and Seade Kuri '-- signed the Protocol of Amendments to the USMCA on behalf of their respective governments.
After the Protocol was signed, President L"pez Obrador delived his remarks. ''With development cooperation, which will be possible with this agreement, the unity of the Americas, the unity of our continent, the unity of all countries, the peoples of our America, the America that saw Abraham Lincoln born and of the America that saw Benito Juarez born, we have this agreement with North America, without turning our backs on our America,'' L"pez Obrador exalted.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats held a press conference of their own announcing the new progressive changes to the USMCA and their hopes for a quick vote in the House of Representatives before leaving for the Christmas break on December 20, 2019.
''There is no question of course that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA. But in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration,'' Pelosi announced.
During the press conference, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Representative Richard Neal (D-Mass.) explained how House Democrats strengthened the USMCA's labor standards and the environmental chapter, enhanced verification mechanisms for environmental trade, and preserved Congress's ability to change U.S. laws regarding the cost of prescription drugs.
''This is a transformative agreement. It's a template, I believe, for future agreements,'' Neal said. ''Over the intense period of these negotiations with the administration, I repeatedly emphasized the USMCA will deserve a vote because it's an agreement that Democrats shaped.''
Echoing Neal's comments about how the new Democrat-shaped USMCA is a template for future agreements, Lighthizer also released a statement Tuesday, in part reading: ''This will be the model for American trade deals going forward.''
Validating Freeland's remarks about the USMCA being a ''progressive trade agreement,'' the changes described by Democrat lawmakers on Tuesday pivot the USMCA even further to the left.
For example, Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), who managed negotiations for changes to the environmental chapter of the USMCA, explained:
And with regard to the environment we fought hard for these provisions. We have better rules on the environment.... Critically, we have strong enforcement and strong funding to make sure that those provisions are being enforced. We incorporate several multilateral environmental agreements. We have an interagency committee to assess and monitor. This is going to be best trade agreement for the environment.
The USMCA's environmental chapter already subordinates the United States to the authority of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), otherwise known as the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). According to the chapter's Article 24.18, under ''Sustainable Fisheries Management,'' the United States, Mexico, and Canada are required to base their fishing management practices in accordance with the Law of the Sea Treaty.
In the name of protecting fish and other marine life, the United States will have to surrender its sovereignty over all of its waterways and miles of coastal oceans (including everything under, on, in, and above them) over to the jurisdiction of UN international law. According to the UN's Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea, which is tasked with administrating the convention, it claims that LOST covers ''all ocean space,'' including everything located on, in, beneath, and above the oceans.
On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Neal released a PDF fact sheet, entitled ''Improvements to the USMCA: Democrats Secure Wins For The People in the New North American Free Trade Agreement.'' Under environment, the fact sheet states that Democrats ''Added commitment that all Parties will adopt, implement, and maintain seven multilateral environment agreement (MEAs), and additional language that allows all Parties to agree to add to the list of the covered MEAs.'' The ''seven multilateral environment agreements'' are not named in the fact sheet, but are mentioned in the Protocol of Amendments. According to page seven of the Protocol, the following text has been added to the enviornment chapter, naming the seven MEAs:
4. Each Party shall adopt, maintain, and implement laws, regulations, and all other measures necessary to fulfill its respective obligations under the following multilateral environmental agreements (''covered agreements''):
(a) the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, done at Washington, March 3, 1973, as amended;
(b) the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, done at Montreal, September 16, 1987, as adjusted and amended;
(c) the Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, done at London, February 17, 1978, and amended;
(d) the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat, done at Ramsar, February 2, 1971, and amended;
(e) the Convention on the Conservation of Antacrtic Marine Living Resources, done at Canberra, May 20, 1980;
(f) the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, done at Washington, December 2, 1946; and
(g) the Convention for the Establishment of an Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, done at Washington, May 31, 1949.
The USMCA will bind the U.S. to submitting to these UN multilateral environmental schemes, making the USMCA much more than a trade agreement, but an international environmental accord.
However, not everyone on Capitol Hill shares the Democrats' excitement for the revisions made to the USMCA.
Following Pelosi's press conference, Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) told Politico about the USMCA, ''It's clearly moved way to the left, which is why you had a celebratory press conference by all the Democratic leadership in the House.''
''You have organized labor enthusiastically supporting this,'' Toomey added. ''When's the last time they were enthusiastic about a free trade agreement?''
In a separate interview with Fox News on Saturday, even before Pelosi and House Democrats announced the new changes to the USMCA, Toomey said, ''this negotiated agreement has made more concessions to the Left, to the Democrats, to organized labor, than they've ever gotten on any other trade agreement.''
If socialist Democrats, the socialist government of Canada, and Mexican Marxist and Leninist politicians all support the USMCA, it cannot possibly be a win for America or beneficial to America's independence and national sovereignty.
Mexico was the first '-- and as of December 11, 2019, the only '-- country to have ratified the USMCA. The Mexican government's official name for the USMCA is the Tratado entre M(C)xico, Estados Unidos y Canad (Spanish for Treaty between Mexico, United States, and Canada), which is also known by the acronym of T-MEC. By an overwhelming vote of 114-3, the Mexican Senate ratified the USMCA/T-MEC on June 19, 2019.
Of the 128 seats in Mexico's Senate, 60 are currently occupied by communist MORENA, six by the Labor Party, and three by the PRD. In addition to MORENA and the PRD, the Labor Party is also a member of S£o Paulo Forum's regional confab of communist and socialist parties.
In addition to the S£o Paulo Forum-linked parties in Mexico's Senate, 14 seats are controlled by the socialist PRI, which former Mexican President Enrique Pe±a Nieto, who initially negotiated the USMCA/T-MEC for Mexico, belonged to. At the first signing ceremony for the USMCA on November 30, 2018, then-President of Mexico Pe±a Nieto touted about the agreement: ''The negotiation of the Mexico-United States-Canada Treaty made it possible to reaffirm the importance of the economic integration of North America.'' He further remarked, ''The renegotiation of the new trade agreement sought to safeguard the vision of an integrated North America, the conviction that together we are stronger and more competitive,'' adding, ''The Mexico-United States-and-Canada Treaty gives a renewed face toward our integration.'' (Emphasis added.)
And on the ''right,'' in the Mexican Senate, 24 seats are held by members of PAN (Spanish acronym for the National Action Party). The most well-known PAN members include former Mexican Presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calder"n, both of whom were also staunch advocates of regionalist integration schemes such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP).
The overwhelming support for ratifying the USMCA in the Mexican Senate, when taken into account with the ideological composition of its party members, should cause for concern to any patriotic Americans, who would be unlikely to advocate for integration with a government that is so openly pro-communist.
Although Speaker Pelosi indicated she would like to schedule a vote for a USMCA implementation bill before the Christmas recess, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday that a vote in the Senate would likely not happen until after a Senate impeachment trial for President Trump. ''We will not be doing USMCA in the Senate between now and next week," McConnell said. ''That will happen, in all likelihood, right after the trial is finished in the Senate.''
McConnell's comments are no guarantee that a vote may not happen sooner. Nevertheless, once a USMCA Implementation Act is formally introduced in Congress, those concerned about the prospect of an EU-style North American Union '-- merging the United States with a socialist Canada and a corrupt pro-communist Mexico '-- will have no time to waste.
Photo of Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister Jesºs Seade Kuri, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer holding signed copies of the Protocol of Amendments to the USMCA, as Mexican President Andr(C)s Manuel L"pez Obrador applauds in the center: AP Images.
Trump's "Space Force" Officially Launched In $738BN Defense Bill | Zero Hedge
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 07:10
The final 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the House on Wednesday 377-48 at a massive and unprecedented $738 billion, in a nearly united Republican vote which also included over 180 House Democrats. It marks a $22 billion spending increase for the Pentagon.
It's expected to be signed by President Trump likely next week after it goes through the Senate, after it was stripped of all significant items the administration would find objectionable, including a controversial War Powers Act resolution meant to end US involvement in Yemen and which would would have required Congressional approval for military action against Iran.
Interestingly, the House bill also removed language that blocked the Pentagon from researching low-yield nuclear weapons, and the House also backed away from controversial border wall restrictions.
Prior White House flag ceremony involving the newly established 'Space Command' file image, via Mic.Long sought after sanctions targeting Russia's Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany were added. Trump had previously accused Berlin of handing "billions" of dollars to the Russians to the detriment of Ukraine, whose gas transit facilities will be bypassed by the new Gazprom spearheaded venture, set for completion within months. Expanded and severe new sanctions were also added against Syria, known as the 'Caesar bill'.
Crucially, Trump's 'Space Force' will now become a reality. As Defense News explains:
In a history making win for Trump, the agreement would add a new armed service, dedicated to space, under Title 10 of U.S. Code, which was an action the White House saw as pivotal to solidifying it as a fully independent military branch. The Space Force would be housed within the Air Force and led by the chief of space operations, who would report directly to the Air Force secretary and be a member of the Joint Chiefs.
Meanwhile, the most vocal progressive Democrat opponent of the massive defense spending bill, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), had this to say in a floor speech ahead of Wednesday's vote: "there are many things you can call the bill, but it's Orwellian to call it progressive."
"Let's speak in facts," said Khanna. "This defense budget is $120 billion more than what Obama left us with. That could fund free public college for every American. It could fund access to high-speed, affordable internet for every American. But it's worse. The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Yemen: stripped by the White House. The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Iran: stripped by the White House."
Indeed, the most worrisome aspect to the new NDAA is that it makes it easier for the White House to go to war with Iran, at a moment tensions continue to soar.
Defense policy deal creates Space Force, sidesteps border wall controversy
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 07:11
WASHINGTON '• Lawmakers involved in annual defense authorization negotiations finalized a sweeping deal late Monday that creates a new Space Force among other policies, but it dropped contentious border wall restrictions and several other provisions favored by progressives.
The 3,488-page compromise bill, which supports $738 billion in defense spending for 2020, left out limits on the border wall, low-yield nuclear weapons and the president's authorization to wage war on Iran. However, Democratic leaders did win '• in exchange for the Space Force '• an agreement for 12 weeks of paid parental leave to millions of federal workers, which could give some House Democrats otherwise opposed to the large defense bill a reason to vote for it.
The agreement caps months of negotiations made unusually complex because Democrats control the House and Republicans the Senate. The House is expected to vote as soon as Wednesday, as Congress has only a few days to pass the bill before the House's Christmas recess begins Thursday afternoon. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.
''This conference report is the product of months of hard-fought, but always civil and ultimately productive, negotiations,'' the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees said in a joint statement. They praised the bill for ''positioning our Armed Forces to meet the next wave of threats outlined in the National Defense Strategy, reforming the business side of the Pentagon, and most importantly, caring for our service members and their families.''
In a history making win for Trump, the agreement would add a new armed service, dedicated to space, under Title 10 of U.S. Code, which was an action the White House saw as pivotal to solidifying it as a fully independent military branch. The Space Force would be housed within the Air Force and led by the chief of space operations, who would report directly to the Air Force secretary and be a member of the Joint Chiefs.
The National Defense Authorization Act would authorize 12 more Lockheed F-35 fighter jets for the U.S. military than the administration requested, for a total of $1 billion. It would authorize $440 million to build fighter aircraft that Turkey was to buy before it was removed from the F-35 program for purchasing the Russian S-400 air defense system.
In some of the other hardware, the legislation would also provide the Air Force with eight new Boeing F-15EX fighters and the Navy with three Arleigh Burke destroyers, a new frigate, two more amphibious warships and three unmanned surface vessels.
The bill also sets some guideposts for Trump's transactional approach to foreign policy, barring the president from removing the U.S. from NATO and from lowering the number of U.S. troops in South Korea below 28,500. Earlier this month, the Pentagon was forced to deny the U.S. was considering withdrawing its troops from South Korea if it does not pay more for maintaining them.
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The bill would include sanctions on Nord Stream 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin's $11 billion project to deliver natural gas to Europe via a new pipeline from Russia to Germany, news Defense News broke last month.
In settling a conference report, congressional leaders rejected language from House Democrats to cut $30 million for the deployment of a low-yield variant of a submarine-launched warhead called the W76-2. Still, the bill does include language requiring congressional notification and a 120-day waiting period before the president gives notice of his intent to withdraw from the New START and Open Skies treaties.
While the bill would formalize an end to U.S. aerial refueling for the Saudi-led coalition's military operations against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, it rejected House provisions to bar unauthorized use of force against Iran and a repeal of the 2002 resolution authorizing the Iraq War '-- which has since been stretched to other conflicts.
Though the compromise is attracting new support some House Republicans, several progressive members of Congress almost immediately came out against it. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a top candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and Rep. Ro Khanna, first vice-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, released a statement on Tuesday morning.
''Every member of Congress should vote against this measure," said Sanders, I-Vt., and Khanna, D-Calif. "There is no pressing reason for Congress to shower [President Donald] Trump, his Saudi friends, and the Pentagon contractors of the military-industrial complex with this $738-billion taxpayer giveaway right now. We owe it to the American people to go back to the drawing board. Congress must say no.''
An Army Corps of Engineers soldier inspects existing a vehicle barrier and border fence near El Centro, CA, on May 7. (San Luciano Vera/Army) Trump's demands for up to $8.6 billion more for the U.S.-Mexico border wall complicated negotiations on federal spending for 2020 and the NDAA. Democrats sought unsuccessfully to block the action, but Republicans controlling the Senate have stuck with Trump '• and an impasse over his demands fueled fears Congress would resort to funding the government for the entire budget year at current spending levels.
However, the compromise bill left out a House-passed measure to block DoD funds for use to build barriers along the southern border. Conferees in both parties, a report summary said, ''intend to continue monitoring border support missions and assessing the impact on military readiness, but deferred final decisions on border security support to the FY20 Appropriations process.''
The agreement would lower the president's authority to transfer funds between accounts to the Senate's $4 billion and not the House's $1 billion; and it would limit the president's special transfer authority to $2 billion and not the $500 million the House sought'•a midpoint that favors the Senate.
In personnel matters, the bill included reforms of reforms to privatized military housing, after a Reuters investigation last year found widespread problems, and it would also end the so-called ''widows tax'' that penalized some families of deceased service members. The bill also includes a 3.1 percent raise for troops.
The agreement would mostly ban the use of toxic firefighting foam tied to base groundwater contamination nationwide, but the bill didn't go as far as Democratic leaders sought. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the House would hold a vote in January on broader restrictions on the chemicals, known as ''PFAS,'' a move which may deflect some Democratic frustrations with the defense bill.
President Donald Trump (center) meets with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. (left), and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas (right), at the White House on June 20, 2018.(Evan Vucci/AP) The National Defense Authorization Act has been finalized by Congress for 58 consecutive years, but this year's bipartisan, bicameral negotiations were unusually difficult and complex because of split control of Congress.
''The result is not either side's ideal bill, but it is one that should be able to pass both chambers under the circumstances,'' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday, before the conference report was finalized.
Republican opposition to the House bill earlier on meant Democratic leaders had to open the door to progressive policy measures. Then Republicans sought to eliminate many of those measures through the conference negotiation, so the bill could pass the GOP-controlled Senate '• a gambit that appeared largely successful with the bill's release.
With an agreement close last week, Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry'•an influential lead Republican on the House Armed Services Committee '• said he could vote for the compromise, adding, ''I can certainly encourage Republicans to support it '... We have an opportunity to pass it for year 59, we shouldn't blow it.''
Though Thornberry opposed the House version of the bill in June, he was in pitch mode for the compromise version last Tuesday, telling reporters that passing the NDAA would offer lawmakers a rare chance to accomplish something significant.
''How many opportunities are there to legislate these days, and you have in this bill literally hundreds of provisions that a member can say, 'I did that, I'm responsible for that,''' Thornberry said. ''If this bill falls flat, yes it's bad for the military, but it's also bad for the institution of Congress.''
Why Doesn't Taylor Swift Own The Rights To Her Music? It's Actually More Common Than You Think
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 06:17
On Sunday, June 30, it was announced that Scooter Braun and his company, Ithaca Holdings LLC, acquired Scott Borchetta's Big Machine Label Group in a deal that's reportedly worth over $300 million. Through buying Borchetta's company, Braun now also has ownership of Taylor Swift's master recordings made when she was with the label, including her first six albums. Swift is not happy about the new owner of her catalog and made her feelings publicly known, which made some people ask a very important question: why doesn't Taylor Swift own the rights to her own music?
In most cases, as reported by AWAL, when an artist signs with a major record label, they give up the rights to their own recordings '-- known as the masters in the music industry '-- to the label itself, in exchange for an advance recoupable against the artist's royalties. Moreover, the owners of an artist's master recordings not only profit from every sale or stream of that artist's work, but are also able to license the recordings for use in mediums like TV, film, and advertisements, and reap the financial benefit of said deals.
So why are most artists not able to own the rights to the music they created? Well, firstly, many artists are swayed by the lucrative chance to have their music be promoted by a major record label, who have connections and provide opportunities that many independent artists usually wouldn't receive on their own. And once they are successful enough, there can be an opportunity to get back their masters back by recouping their advances, essentially buying them back, per AWAL. However, some artists' catalogs can reach enormous heights in value, preventing even successful artists from being afforded that opportunity.
Rick Diamond/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty ImagesFor uber-successful artists like Swift, their catalog of hits is just too valuable, and as in Swift's case, can sometimes considered more valuable than the artists themselves. As far back as 2015, Borchetta was thinking about putting Big Machine on the market. As reported by Billboard in August 2018, if he had sold Swift back her masters back then, as she wanted, the value of his company would have dropped drastically, with one source estimating that the singer's catalog could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in her lifetime.
Owning her masters has been a priority for Swift. It was a sticking point in her negotiations to renew her contract with Big Machine, with both Swift and Borchetta acknowledging that an offer was made by the label for Swift to buy her masters back in their recent statements. But as Swift wrote in her scathing Tumblr post disapproving of Braun owning her catalog, Big Machine's alleged proposal was that Swift would slowly gain back ownership of her masters by earning one past album for every new album that she turned into the label. "I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future," she said. For his part, Borchetta denied that these were the terms of the contract in a statement released late on June 30, instead claiming that the contract was for another 10 years with the label. Bustle reached out to Swift regarding Borchetta's claims, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
Regardless of the specifics, the idea that Swift must earn back the music she created by tying herself into another contract sounds degrading and unfair. And given the circumstances, it's not surprising that Swift left the label. She has since signed a new contract with Republic Records on the condition that she would own the masters of her recordings from this point on, starting with her upcoming album Lover, out on August 23.
TaylorSwiftVEVO on YouTubeIt seems logical that singer-songwriters, especially ones as powerful as Swift, should have the rights to their life's work, music that they poured their heart and soul into creating. The sad reality is that very few artists actually own their masters. In 2016, Vogue reported that Rihanna was able to acquire the masters of all her previous albums prior to Anti from her former label Def Jam. Similarly, Jay-Z negotiated the rights to his catalog when he became the president of Def Jam in 2004, according to Forbes. But these are notable exceptions among major artists.
The tides are changing, slowly but surely. Some newer artists like SZA and 21 Savage have been able to negotiate the ownership of their masters as they signed major label deals. As reported by DJBooth, the artists were able to leverage their online following and general buzz, something that wasn't as prevalent when Swift was first signed with Big Machine over a decade ago.
Swift might not own her past masters, but she's not giving up. And her public fight for the right of all artists to own their work is already an important step in the right direction.
BBC films used in schools teach children there are '100 genders or more' despite GPs only recognising six '' The Sun
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 07:24
A VIDEO produced by the BBC for school children has said there are 100 or more gender identities - despite GPs recognising six.
The idea is put forward in material produced by BBC Teach to support the personal, social and health education curriculum in schools.
Teacher Kate Daniels responding to pupils' questions in the videoIn one of the videos entitled 'Identity - Understanding sexual and gender identities' '' pupils ask teachers a number of questions about the topic.
In the video a boy asks ''what are the different gender identities?'' to which Kyra, a head teacher, replies ''that's a really, really exciting question''.
The video then cuts to Kate Daniels, a Relationships and Sex Education teacher, who says: ''You know there are so many gender identities.
''We know that we have got male and female, but there are over 100, if not more, gender identities now.
''People might think they're bi-gender and then you've got some people who might call themselves gender-queer, who are just like: 'I don't really want to be anything in particular. I am just going to be me.'''
The Royal College of General Practitioners recognises six genders in a recent position statement.
These are male, female, gender-neutral, non-binary, gender-fluid and gender-queer.
Stephanie Davies-Arai, founder of Transgender Trend, which represents parents concerned about and increase in diagnosis of kids as transgender, told the Sunday Times: ''This is made-up nonsense.
''People are free to identify as anything they like, but this does not change the reality that there are only two sexes.
The video has been made to support the personal, social and health education curriculum''To suggest that being male or female is just a personal identity is false and will inevitably confuse children into believing that their biological sex is a choice.''
Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust received 2,519 referrals of young people - including some as young as three - to its gender identity development service in 2017-18.
A spokesperson for trans youth charity Mermaids UK said: "A small number of people claim that educating children on different gender identities is confusing
''But, in fact, our training in schools and twenty five years of experience have shown that the best way to create confusion is to pretend that gender diversity doesn't exist.
''The simple truth is that some kids simply don't identify as the male or female gender they were assigned at birth.
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LILY LIVID Lily Allen accuses Brits of voting for 'kids to die and less brown people'
'R.I.P. CORBYN' Piers taunts luvvies Hugh Grant & Steve Coogan for 'helping Boris win'
''That's nothing new. What is new, however, is the wonderful way in which many teachers are helping the next generation to have an open mind to questions of personal identity.
''That can sometimes be difficult for older generations to understand but whether we listen or not, our young people will continue to express themselves and that's something we support and applaud."
The BBC spokeswoman said: "The Big Talk series was contributed to by more than 50 independent experts and professionals and is intended to be used by teachers, within the safe space of the classroom, to prompt further conversation with their pupils on the topics raised."
The Department for Education have been approached for comment.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at tips@the-sun.co.uk or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.
Taylor Swift Says Scooter Braun Is "The Definition Of Toxic Male Privilege" In Speech - Stereogum
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 07:47
Taylor Swift was honored as the Woman Of The Decade at the Billboard Women In Music event on Thursday night in Los Angeles. She took her speech as an opportunity to publicly address Scooter Braun, who she has been feuding with over the last few months over the rights to her master recordings.
''Lately there's been a new shift that has affected me personally, and as your resident loud person, I feel like I need to bring it up,'' Swift said according to Billboard. ''And that's the unregulated world of private equity and people buying up your music '... like it's a shoe line.''
''This just happened to me without my approval, consultation, or consent,'' Swift continued (via Pitchfork). ''After I was denied the chance to purchase my music outright, my entire catalog was sold to Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings in a deal that I'm told was funded by the Soros family, 23 Capital, and that Carlyle Group.''
She went on to say that ''the definition of the toxic male privilege in this industry is people saying 'but he's always been nice to me' when I'm raising valid concerns about artists and their right to own their music'' in reference to Braun. ''And of course he's nice to you,'' she said. ''If you're in this room, you have something he needs.''
Here's a clip from that part of the speech:
Elsewhere in the speech, she shouted out Lana Del Rey as ''the most influential person in pop,'' and went on to name a bunch of other artists that she liked that she thinks are pushing pop forward.
U.S. and China Reach Initial Trade Deal - The New York Times
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 10:20
Economy | U.S. and China Reach Initial Trade Deal The agreement includes a commitment by China to buy more agriculture products and to strengthen laws protecting foreign companies operating there.
Soybeans at the Maple River Grain and Agronomy Terminal in Casselton, North Dakota. Credit... Dan Koeck for The New York Times Dec. 13, 2019Updated 11:12 a.m. ET
BEIJING '-- The United States and China have agreed to an initial trade deal that will result in a reduction of tariffs and purchases of American farm goods, marking a significant de-escalation in the 19-month battle that has rattled the world economy.
''We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China,'' President Trump said in a tweet. ''They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more.''
Mr. Trump said the United States would reduce its overall tariff rate on Chinese goods to 7.5 percent, down from the current rate of 25 percent and that a round of tariffs scheduled for Sunday would be canceled.
.....The Penalty Tariffs set for December 15th will not be charged because of the fact that we made the deal. We will begin negotiations on the Phase Two Deal immediately, rather than waiting until after the 2020 Election. This is an amazing deal for all. Thank you!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2019Wang Shouwen, China's vice commerce minister, said at a news conference in Beijing that the two sides had made ''significant progress'' and that the agreement would result in the United States removing some of the tariffs it has placed on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods. Those tariffs would come off ''phase by phase" and the United States would agree to exempt more Chinese products from being taxed, he said.
''This will create better conditions for China and the United States to strengthen cooperation,'' Mr. Wang said.
The agreement includes a commitment by Beijing to buy more American agriculture products and to strengthen laws protecting foreign companies operating in China, as well as beefing up intellectual property rules and providing more transparency around currency movements. Mr. Wang said both sides have agreed to complete legal reviews as quickly as possible and that an official signing was still being worked out.
Some advisers to the White House said China had agreed to buy $50 billion worth of American farm products next year but China has so far not confirmed that figure and the United States trade representative did not provide an official figure in its statement.
''The Phase One agreement also includes a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in the coming years,'' U.S.T.R. said on Friday.
Chinese officials on Friday said that imports of American agriculture products would increase by a ''considerable margin'' to meet China's needs for goods like soybean and pork.
The deal came as a relief of investors, who have been haunted by the steady drumbeat of tariffs that have depressed business sentiment and stirred economic uncertainty. The S&P 500 was up slightly in early-morning trading.
An agreement will also give Mr. Trump another trade win that he can tout heading into his re-election campaign and as Congress forges ahead with his impeachment. The agreement came on the same week that the administration agreed with House Democrats to revise the terms of a trade pact with Canada and Mexico.
This is a developing story. It will be updated.
China tightens info control after leaks on prison camps...
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:25
The Xinjiang regional government in China's far west is deleting data, destroying documents, tightening controls on information and has held high-level meetings in response to leaks of classified papers on its mass detention camps for Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities, according to four people in contact with government employees there.
Top officials deliberated how to respond to the leaks in meetings at the Chinese Communist Party's regional headquarters in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, some of the people said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of retribution against themselves, family members and the government workers.
The meetings began days after The New York Times published last month a cache of internal speeches on Xinjiang by top leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping. They continued after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists worked with news organizations around the world including The Associated Press to publish secret guidelines for operating detention centers and instructions on how to use technology to target people.
The Chinese government has long struggled with its 11-million-strong Uighur population, an ethnic Turkic minority native to Xinjiang, and in recent years has detained 1 million or more Uighurs and other minorities in the camps.
Xinjiang officials and the Chinese foreign ministry have not directly denied the authenticity of the documents, though Urumqi Communist Party chief Xu Hairong called reports on the leaks ''malicious smears and distortions.''
The Xinjiang government did not respond to a fax for comment on the arrests, the tightened restrictions on information and other measures responding to the leaks. The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not have an immediate comment.
Xinjiang's government had already mandated stricter controls on information in October, before the news reports, according to three of the people, all Uighurs outside Xinjiang.
They include orders for community-level officials to burn paper forms containing sensitive personal details on residents in their area such as their detention status, and for various state offices to throw away computers, tighten management of classified information, and ensure all information related to the camps is now stored on databases disconnected from the internet in special, restricted-access rooms to bar hackers, the Uighurs said.
''They became much more serious about the transfer of information,'' one said.
Publication of the classified documents prompted the central government in Beijing to put more pressure on Xinjiang officials, several of the Uighurs said.
Restrictions on information appear to be tightening further. Some university teachers and district-level workers in Urumqi have been ordered to clean out sensitive data on their computers, phones and cloud storage, and to delete work-related social media groups, according to one Uighur with direct knowledge of the situation.
In other cases, the state appears to be confiscating evidence of detentions. Another Uighur who had been detained in Xinjiang years before said his ex-wife called him two weeks ago and begged him to send his release papers to her, saying eight officers had come to her home to search for the papers, then threatened she'd be jailed for life if she couldn't produce the papers.
''It's an old matter, and they've know I've been abroad for a long time,'' he said. ''The fact that they suddenly want this now must mean the pressure on them is very high.''
Some government workers have been rounded up as the state investigates the source of the leaks. In one case an entire family in civil service was arrested. Abduweli Ayup, a Uighur linguist in exile, said his wife's relatives in Xinjiang '' including her parents, siblings, and in-laws '' were detained shortly after the leaks were published, although Ayup said they had no relation to the leaks as far as he was aware. Some people in touch with relatives outside China were also investigated and seized, Ayup said.
It is unknown how many have been detained since the leaks.
Earlier this week, a Uighur woman in the Netherlands told a Dutch daily, de Volkskrant, that she was the source of the documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The woman, Asiye Abdulaheb, said that after she posted one page on social media in June, Chinese state agents sent her death threats and tried to recruit her ex-husband to spy on her.
The leaked documents lay out the Chinese government's deliberate strategy to lock up ethnic minorities even before they commit a crime, and to rewire their thoughts and the language they speak. They reveal that facilities Beijing calls ''vocational training schools'' are forced ideological and behavioral re-education centers run in secret.
The papers also show how Beijing is pioneering a new form of social control using data and artificial intelligence. Drawing on data collected by mass surveillance technology, computers issued the names of tens of thousands of people for interrogation or detention in just one week.
The leaks come at a delicate time in relations between Washington and Beijing, amid ongoing negotiations to end a trade war and U.S. concerns about the situation in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory where police have clashed with pro-democracy protesters.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, aimed at pressuring China over the mass detentions in Xinjiang. Beijing swiftly denounced the bill as foreign meddling. State media reported that the Chinese government was considering retaliatory measures including visa bans on U.S. officials.
What's yours is ours Rambler Group claims exclusive rights to world's most popular web-server software, six months after it's sold to U.S. company for 670 million dollars '-- Meduza
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 07:50
On Thursday, December 12, Russian law enforcement raided the Moscow office of the IT company ''Nginx,'' which owns the eponymous web-server used by almost 500 million websites around the world. According to several reports, Nginx co-founders Igor Sysoev and Maxim Konovalov spent several hours in police interrogation. The search is part of a criminal case based on charges by a company tied to the Russian billionaire and Rambler Group co-owner Alexander Mamut, whose businesses believe they own the rights to the Nginx web-server because Sysoev started developing the code while working for Rambler in 2004. Meduza's correspondent Maria Kolomychenko looks at how Sysoev and his partners spent 15 years creating the world's most popular web-server before selling it to an American firm for $670 million, and how Rambler decided, half a year later, that it owns the technology.
The first report about the police raid on Nginx's office in Moscow came from a Twitter user named Igor Ippolitov, who says he works at the company. Friends of Denis Kryuchkov (the creator of the IT-focused collaborative blog Habr) and ''Diphost'' hosting provider owner Filipp Kulin later confirmed the information.
A source in Russia's IT industry told Meduza that security officials stormed Nginx's office on Thursday morning, seizing the company's computers and arresting and interrogating co-founder and Moscow office director Maxim Konovalov. Meduza confirmed that his mobile phone number was unavailable at this time. Journalists soon learned that police had arrested Igor Sysoev, another Nginx co-founder. On Thursday evening, The Bell reported that the authorities ultimately released both men, confiscating their phones.
Meduza's correspondent visited Nginx's office in Moscow around 3 p.m., local time, by which time the authorities had apparently left. The premises appeared to be slightly empty. Three employees who greeted Meduza's reporter would not comment on the police raid. Later that evening, a representative from Nginx's U.S. parent company, F5 Networks, confirmed that Russian law enforcement had come to the Moscow office, but declined to offer further details. ''Earlier today, Russian police came to the Nginx Moscow office. We are still gathering the facts and as such we have no further comments to make at this time,'' said the statement by F5 Networks.
The police work is part of a criminal investigation launched on December 4, 2019, into a conspiracy to commit large-scale copyright infringement. On his Twitter account, Igor Ippolitov shared photos of the search warrant, which summarized the case.
According to the documents, Russia's Interior Ministry suspects ''unidentified persons'' of violating the exclusive property rights of ''Rambler Internet Holding LLC'' (part of the Rambler Group) to the Nginx software. Rambler says this may have inflicted 51 million rubles ($815,500) in damages on the company, which makes the offense a large-scale felony, according to the warrant presented to Nginx.
''We discovered that Rambler Internet Holding's exclusive rights to the web-server Nginx were violated as a result of the actions of third parties,'' an official representative from Rambler Group told Meduza. ''In this regard, Rambler Internet Holding ceded the right to bring claims related to violations of the rights to Nginx to Lynwood Investments CY Ltd., which is qualified to restore justice on the issue of ownership of rights.''
''Lynwood Investments'' is reportedly connected to Russian billionaire and Rambler Group co-owner Alexander Mamut, who owned the British book retailer ''Waterstones'' through Lynwood Investments. A spokesperson for the company told Meduza that it was formally named ''A&NN Holdings Limited'' when it received the rights to bring claims related to Nginx. Alexander Mamut, incidentally, also owns a firm called ''A&NN Investments.''
Lynwood Investments's spokesperson confirmed that the company asked Russian police to ''assess the situation'' regarding possible infringements on copyrights to the Nginx web-server. ''Law-enforcement agencies recognized Rambler Internet Holding as the victim of actions by an unidentified circle of people and opened a criminal case against them,'' said the company's representative.
Lynwood Investments also emphasized that it intends to ''seek justice by all available legal means'' and it reserves the right to file civil claims ''in any jurisdictions.''
Nginx's creator says he designed the software in his spare time, but Rambler says it's theirs neverthelessNginx's key product is its eponymous web-server '-- software that facilitates the operation of websites by processing incoming network requests over HTTP and other related protocols. According to data published this month by the British Internet services company ''Netcraft,'' Nginx is the most popular web-server in the world. It is used by more than 479 million websites '-- roughly 37.7 percent of all the websites on the Internet.
Igor Sysoev started developing Nginx in 2002 while working as a system administrator at Rambler. Two years later, he released the first version of the software. For years, Nginx was distributed as open-source software on a nonprofit basis. In 2011, Sysoev left Rambler and registered the company ''Nginx, Inc.'' with his business partner, Maxim Konovalov. In 2013, the business released the first commercial version of its Nginx Plus web-server, which offered clients additional features in monitoring, reconfiguration, and technical support.
In an interview in 2012 with the Russian magazine Hacker, Sysoev said he used his spare time to develop Nginx, until leaving Rambler and founding his own company. ''In Russia, the laws are designed so that a company owns what's been made as a part of job duties or under a separate contract. So there needs to be a contract with the person where it says: you have to develop a software product. At Rambler, I was a system administrator, I developed software on my own time, and the product from the very beginning was released under a BSD [Berkeley Software Distribution] license as open-source software,'' Sysoev explained.
The search warrant police officers presented on Thursday tells another story, claiming that the web-server software was developed ''during office hours within the limits of established job responsibilities'' on behalf of Rambler management by unidentified employees. State officials say these individuals violated the Internet holding company's exclusive rights to the software and ''illegally used it with criminal intent by distributing it for free on the Internet,'' inflicting large-scale losses on Rambler.
In Russia, regulations on legal relationships regarding works of science, literature, art, and software are codified in the Civil Code. According to Article 1295 of Russia's Civil Code, the exclusive rights to products created by staff within their job responsibilities belong to their employers. State investigators base their case on this statute, arguing that Rambler owns the rights to Ngnix. Article 1297 also states, however, that individual workers own the exclusive rights to their creations, even as contracted employees, if the software was not developed as part of direct job responsibilities
Former Rambler Group executive director Igor Ashmanov told the tech news website Roem that the version of events described in the criminal case materials is ''nonsense,'' saying that Sysoev was never assigned web-server development work while employed at Rambler. ''He worked at Rambler as a system admin. Software development wasn't part of his job responsibilities at all. I suspect Rambler won't be able to produce a single sheet of paper [proving otherwise], not to mention the nonexistent work assignment to develop a web-server,'' Ashmanov said, adding that the company stipulated separately when it hired Sysoev in 2000 that he had his own preexisting project and retained the right to work on it.
Sarkis Darbinyan, a partner at the ''Digital Rights Center'' law firm, told Meduza that the statute of limitations on the copyright-infringement charges related to Nginx is 10 years. ''In Nginx's case, the statute of limitations expired long ago, given that it's only logical to start counting from the release of the web-server's first version, meaning in 2004. Those behind this case will likely try to attach it to a different timeframe, for example, the date Nginx was legally registered as a company, or they'll say it took them 15 years to learn that Sysoev distributed this web-server,'' says Darbinyan.
There's been one similar precedent in Russia for contesting exclusive rights to software. As one of VKontakte's shareholders, Ilya Shcherbovich's ''UCP Foundation'' asked a court in 2014 to grant VKontakte the exclusive rights to Telegram, arguing that the messenger's development took place inside VKontakte. The issue was resolved, however, when the holding company ''Mail.ru Group'' purchased 100 percent of VKontakte.
Nginx has new shareholders, and so does RamblerAfter the company was officially registered in 2011, Nginx closed several rounds of investment worth more than $100 million. In May 2019, the American company F5 Networks bought the business outright for $670 million. Under the terms of the agreement, Igor Sysoev and Maxim Konovalov continue to manage the company, now as top executives at F5.
A few months after Nginx, Inc's sale, there were changes to Rambler Group's shareholder structure. In August, Sberbank agreed to buy 46.5 percent of the company for an undisclosed amount of money, though analysts guess the deal was worth between 9 and 11 billion rubles ($143.1 and $174.9 million).
A source close to Nginx's former investors told Meduza that Rambler Group never once in Nginx's 15-year existence expressed prior claims about exclusive rights to the software. ''During this time, there were multiple rounds of investment, Nginx conducted its due diligence, and there were no questions whatsoever about the owners' exclusive rights,'' says the source. ''Either the emergence of Rambler Group's new shareholder is at play here, or the deal with F5 opened Rambler's eyes to what they lost. In fact, there was nothing to lose: this product was never theirs.''
Story by Maria Kolomychenko
Translation by Kevin Rothrock
Twitter wants to decentralize, but decentralized social network creators don't trust it - The Verge
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 07:55
Yesterday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made a theoretically huge announcement: he wanted Twitter to stop being a self-contained platform and start delivering content from a decentralized system, changing social media as we know it. He kicked off the plan by announcing a project called Bluesky, which will fund the independent development of that system. But among many people who already work on decentralized networks, the response was a collective roll of the eyes. Twitter wasn't boldly stepping into new territory; it was stomping into an existing field with a lot of noise and very little detail.
As soon as Dorsey posted his plan, Mastodon '-- a decentralized social network founded back in 2016 '-- gave him the tweeted version of a sarcastic wave.
Developer Darius Kazemi was even more direct. ''I hear Twitter wants to invest in creating a new decentralized social media protocol, meanwhile a bunch of us are out here already doing the hard work,'' he tweeted, suggesting Twitter could help ''approximately 1,000 percent more'' by just donating to a few existing projects. Mastodon pointed Dorsey toward ActivityPub, an established protocol that already powers Mastodon and several similar projects.
Through the lens of these tweets, Bluesky's mission slotted right into a Silicon Valley cliche: a tech company ''discovering'' some long-standing problem and swooping in with a naive solution. But Bluesky's situation is a bit more complicated because Twitter hasn't actually committed to building a new system. In a follow-up tweet, Dorsey said the team might try to find an existing standard to move forward.
As we mentioned, the team will have complete freedom to identify and consider all the great work already done, and if they believe it's best to work on a pre-existing standard 100%, they will. If not, they're free to create one from scratch. Their discretion, not Twitter, Inc's.
'-- bluesky (@bluesky) December 12, 2019A later tweet from Bluesky confirmed this. ''The team will have complete freedom to identify and consider all the great work already done, and if they believe it's best to work on a pre-existing standard 100 percent, they will,'' it said. ''If not, they're free to create one from scratch.''
But this option also has decentralized social network proponents concerned. It could indicate that Twitter wants to colonize projects like ActivityPub, shaping them into systems that are better for advertisers and worse for users. ''This is not an announcement of reinventing the wheel. This is announcing the building of a protocol that Twitter gets to control, like Google controls Android,'' wrote Mastodon in a follow-up tweet.
Sean Tilley, community manager of the early decentralized network Diaspora, was similarly suspicious. ''The pessimistic interpretation is that Twitter wants [to join ActivityPub], but also wants to control the standard,'' he tweeted.
''I think we only have something to gain.''
In an email to The Verge, Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko says there's reason for developers to be leery of Bluesky. He mentions the ''Embrace, Extend, Extinguish'' problem '-- where a huge company adopts an open protocol, becomes its biggest user, and then changes its system to lock everybody else out. (The phrase originated with Microsoft in the '90s, and more recently, it's been applied to Google taking over RSS and the XMPP chat protocol.) While Bluesky isn't technically part of Twitter, it will almost certainly be organized with Twitter's goals in mind.
But Rochko also thinks ActivityPub could survive a Twitter takeover attempt. He says the standard was developed partly in response to Twitter's failings, and many people joined specifically because they disliked Twitter's massive scale, feature set, and policies. (We're talking about a platform whose actual users dub it ''the hell site.'') So if Twitter joined and later abandoned the standard, there would still be a good reason for users to stick around.
''Twitter adopting ActivityPub would be a good thing and a victory for the web,'' Rochko says. ''I think we only have something to gain.''
I hear Twitter wants to invest in creating a new decentralized social media protocol, meanwhile a bunch of us are out here already doing the hard work https://t.co/NawdhsUhf4
'-- Darius Kazemi (@tinysubversions) December 11, 2019Most Twitter users might not care about web protocols. But Bluesky's odds of success are a lot higher if it can work with a community of experts instead of against it. As critics have pointed out, decentralization doesn't automatically solve problems like hate speech and harassment. Communities like Mastodon have hands-on experience dealing with these problems, even if they haven't solved them. Twitter's move into decentralization might be self-serving, but if it produces a better alternative to the current platform, that's good news for millions of users.
Granted, this assumes Bluesky will have any practical effect at all, which critics aren't taking for granted. Twitter hasn't even picked a team yet, and the group won't include more than five people, whom Dorsey says could be working on the project for years. According to my colleague Casey Newton, former Twitter employees predict Bluesky will run at a glacial pace.
So Kazemi, for one, tells The Verge that he's skeptical anything will happen and that he's more interested in working on existing platforms like ActivityPub than speculating about Bluesky's future. ''I think there are two different ways to look at this kind of stuff. One way is to take this seriously and assume that they actually mean what they're saying. If Twitter wants to create their own protocol instead of using what's already out there, then it's a naked power move to get control over an area that they've traditionally ignored,'' he says. ''The other way is to not take this seriously at all, which is what I'm inclined to do.''
Computer glitch wiped out tens of thousands of California voters' party preference - SFGate
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 07:15
FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2014, file photo, a voter marks his ballot while voting in California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2014, file photo, a voter marks his ballot while voting in California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press 2014 Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press 2014
FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2014, file photo, a voter marks his ballot while voting in California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2014, file photo, a voter marks his ballot while voting in California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press 2014 If you're registered to vote in Contra Costa County, make sure to check your voter registration status sooner rather than later.
In a press release sent out by the Contra Costa County Elections Division Tuesday, voters were cautioned that during the 2018 roll-out of the automatic voter registration system, "some voters' party preference was overwritten." As such, individuals who registered with a party may have been swapped to "no party preference."
As of April 2018, any California resident '-- unless they opt out '-- is automatically registered to vote when they register a car or get a license from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Being listed as "no party preference" means would-be Democratic voters could have issues voting in the upcoming Democratic Presidential Primary scheduled for March 3, 2020. Although "no party preference" voters are allowed to vote in Democratic primaries in California, a vote-by-mail ballot must be specially requested from the voter's county elections office.
The Republican Party does not allow "no party preference" voters to vote in their presidential primaries.
"We're hopeful that voters take the opportunity to look at their registration status now, rather than after ballots are mailed or on Election Day," acting registrar of voters Deborah Cooper said in a press release.
NBC Bay Area reports the issue could have affected tens of thousands of registered voters. Pew reported in October that the DMV found over 100,000 registration errors from the automatic system, some of which were this party-overwriting issue.
MORE NEWS: Video of insanely brazen Hilltop Mall Sears shoplifting goes viral
You can check your voter registration status and political party preference on the California Secretary of State website. You'll need your California driver's license or ID card number, as well as the last four numbers of your Social Security number.
Katie Dowd is an SFGATE Senior Digital Editor. Email: katie.dowd@sfgate.com | Twitter: @katiedowd
Scripting News: The former United States
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 09:20
It's even worse than it appears.
Friday December 13, 2019; 8:57 AM EST
If you think of the United States as a company, we've had a strategic partnership with Russia for the last three years, kind of like the one Microsoft had with IBM. Russia is analogous to Microsoft. They're about to roll over us in the 2020 election. Our last gasp is the impeachment. # We should have had this confrontation sooner, we would have had a better chance of prevailing. Going back to the Electoral College vote in 2016. We could have briefed the electors on the misdeeds of the Trump campaign in collusion with Russia. We could have had nightly candlelight vigils in the state capitals where the electoral votes would be cast. We could have at least honored the passing of a political system that kind of worked and provided us with an incredible standard of living, and hosted the development of the Internet, won the space race, and Woodstock and the Mets! Saved my family. I wouldn't exist without the US and probably neither would you. We could have been serious about resisting right from that point, instead as with all the points at which we could have acted, we hoped somehow this would blow over without us having to disrupt our lives. We're a lazy, fat culture, Russia knows and is taking full advantage. # Anyway back to the tech analogy. Impeachment is like IBM shipping OS/2 and the Micro Channel Architecture. Both were designed to rid IBM of Microsoft once and for all. But it didn't work. It was too little too late. Microsoft came out with Windows 3.0, and IBM became a global consulting company. The company that dominated the computer business left the computer business. With the US and Russia analogy substitute "computer business" with "democracy business." # Impeachment is the last gasp bet that the rule of law still works, even though the Supreme Court has been stuffed with Russian puppets, as has the Senate. The only places that are still following the rule of law is the House and parts of the Department of Justice. Think of it as a two party system about to become one party. The one that prevails in impeachment will have the right to anihilate the other, and must do it. There may still be a few courageous defectors to the Rule-of-Law Party, but unless there's a great awakening in the Senate, the courts, DoJ, the military and other branches of service, Putin has the power to put down impeachment, and from there, will complete the replication of the political system of Russia in the US, where political opponents are jailed or assassinated, as with uncooperative journalists. This is about to happen in the US, but journalism and discourse on the net has yet to catch up. # Putin could really fuck with us (but probably won't), and instruct McConnell to have a change of heart and the Senate votes to remove Trump. What an opportunity to screw up the US for a few generations, if not longer. From this point we're never going to know what's actually going on, we don't really know now (btw), but it's going to get a lot worse. # Wheeee! ðŸ'¥ #
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Secret Santa Pays Off $20,000 in Layaways at AL Walmart | Breitbart
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:47
A generous Secret Santa paid off $20,000 in layaway accounts at an Auburn, Alabama, Walmart on Monday morning, focusing on accounts with children's toys.
WRBL reported that the Secret Santa also paid for $8,600 in gift cards to be distributed to families.
Amberly Smith said she so ''thankful'' for the surprise gift, telling WRBL that the Santa surprise helped her purchase $203 worth of layaway items for her two children.
''I am so thankful. We do all we can for our babies and this is just such a blessing. I am so thankful to the Secret Santa,'' said Smith.
Walmart associates are calling families with layaway accounts to share the good news.
''When customers quietly pay off others' layaway items, we're reminded how good people can be. We're honored to be a small part of these random acts of kindness,'' said a Walmart spokesperson.
The Secret Santa is thought to live in Eastern Alabama but prefers to be anonymous as the person spreads holiday cheer to children in the area.
Layaway is a payment plan that gives customers the flexibility to purchase items and pay for them over several months. The installment plan, which is often monthly, is the only way families can afford gifts for children over Christmas.
But every now and then, a Secret Santa comes along and buys out these layaway accounts, often around the holiday season and almost always anonymous, to ensure families are out of debt.
Last Christmas, a Secret Santa paid off every layaway account at a New York area Walmart, and in 2017, one Good Samaritan in New Jersey paid off more than $10,000 of holiday layaway items at a Toys ''R'' Us in Cherry Hill.
The trend has continued over the past few years, in different states and with varying dollar amounts.
In 2016, a Secret Santa known as ''Santa B'' paid off more than $46,000 in layaway items at a Walmart in Pennsylvania, and in 2015, an anonymous donor visited two Ohio Walmarts and paid off 106,000 layaway items.
That same year, a Secret Santa paid off $200,000 worth of layaway items at two Florida locations.
Georgia church pays off $10G in Walmart layaway in time for Christmas | Fox News
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:37
"We're blessed to be a blessing."
That's how an Atlanta pastor explained why his church decided to pay off $10,000 worth of layaway items in Walmart Monday.
Kevin Murriel, the senior pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church, made the announcement this week for 23 families who expressed gratitude, some left speechless by the generous gesture.
Suwanda McCreary hugs Cascade United Methodist Church senior pastor, Kevin Murriel, after his church paid for $10,000 worth of items in layaway at an Atlanta-area Walmart. McCreary's 28-year-old son died in April and he left three kids behind. She said it meant a lot to her. (Douglas Simmons/Dream Images Productions)
For Suwanda McCreary, it was the extra boost she needed this year. Her 28-year-old son, with whom she would go shopping every year, died in April, leaving behind three kids.
"It's a big help. It's a tremendous help," McCreary told WSBTV through tears. "Because I really wasn't able to do it."
"Everyone deserves a good Christmas," Murriel told the families gathered. "Merry Christmas and we hope that you are blessed by this gift."
The local pastor said they are not asking for anything but just that they would "pay it forward" at some point in their lives.
Cascade United Methodist Church senior pastor, Kevin Murriel, with a young girl, Promise, who was overjoyed about the church's generous gesture. (Douglas Simmons/Dream Images Productions)
He pointed out a young girl named Promise who was with her mother.
"This is our future," Murriel said. "And we want to make sure that the future is bright for Promise and those young people, children, that we have an immense responsibility to care for."
Anonymous 'Secret Santa' Reportedly Pays Off $65,000 in Layaway Gifts at Walmart
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:35
An anonymous donor surprised Walmart shoppers in Anniston, Alabama, by paying off $65,000 worth of layaway balances in time for Christmas.
Hannah Haynes was one shopper who was surprised to find that her layaway balance had been paid in full.
Haynes told WBMA she stopped at Walmart during her lunch break on Monday to pay the remaining balance on her children's Christmas gifts.
Instead of taking her payment, the cashier handed Haynes a small slip of paper with a message from an anonymous donor.
SO GENEROUS!ðŸŽSome Walmart shoppers were shocked to find that their layaway balances had been paid off by a Secret Santa! The only thing the generous donor wanted was for each person to receive a note that read: ''God loves you. Jesus paid the price.'' https://t.co/fPPKwEJQVL
'-- FOX 35 Orlando (@fox35orlando) December 13, 2019
TRENDING: AOC Ignorantly Tells Poor That Instead of a Handout, Entitlement Money Was Created by Them in First Place
Haynes took a photo of the note and shared the story on Facebook, writing, ''So today I went to Walmart to get the kids Christmas stuff off of layaway.''
''They started bringing my items out and the lady said 'ma'am, you don't owe anything. There was someone who came up here and paid off EVERYONES layaway totaling $65,000 and the only thing he wanted you to know was this' and she handed me this piece of paper (pictured).''
According to WBMA, Walmart managers did not confirm the $65,000 total but did say the amount was significant.
Written on the small square of paper were the words ''God loves you. Jesus paid the price.''
Haynes could hardly believe what was happening.
''I was (and still am) SPEECHLESS! God is so good! I could never thank him enough!!'' she wrote.
Kandy Ward was another shopper who benefited from the secret Santa's generosity. Ward told WBMA that she loved the donor's message of faith.
RELATED: How a Pastor and His Daughter Worked To Save Lives During Deadly New Zealand Volcano Eruption
''That really topped it off,'' Ward said. ''I really loved the message that he put out there and I think that's what he wanted to do.''
Haynes said she kept her note and hung it on her refrigerator where she will see it each day and be reminded to think of others.
''Every day I'm gonna wake up, like, how can I bless someone?'' Haynes said. ''How can I show someone that type of love?''
While shoppers said they wish they knew the man's identity so they could say a proper thank you, it seems Santa is content to remain anonymous.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
Fired bank employee who says he was denied a promotion because he is straight wins right to appeal | Daily Mail Online
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 07:21
Fired Canadian bank employee who says he was denied a promotion because he is straight wins right to appeal his caseCanadian Imperial Bank of Commerce fired Aaren Jagadeesh on May 10, 2016He claims he was discriminated against due to disability and sexual orientation Federal court ruled the case must be reassessed after it was dismissedBy Milly Vincent For Mailonline
Published: 06:55 EST, 11 December 2019 | Updated: 10:20 EST, 11 December 2019
A former employee of a major Canadian bank who claims he was told he had 'no hope' of a promotion because he was straight is to have his discrimination complaint reassessed, a federal court has ruled.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission had previously dismissed Aaren Jagadeesh's claim that he faced discrimination at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) in Toronto due to his sexual orientation as a straight man.
Mr Jagadeesh, who was turned down for multiple promotions, stated that he was told by his boss to join a 'group' of gay and bisexual men in the office as only they would get promoted.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission had previously dismissed Aaren Jagadeesh's claim that he faced discrimination at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) in Toronto due to his sexual orientation as a straight man
Madam Justice Janet M. Fuhrer ruled in Federal Court that the Commission had wrongly dismissed the employee's complaint and ordered a new investigation and reassessment.
In court last month Mr Jagadeesh described how in a one-on-one meeting on September 15 2015 his boss told him that every male manager in the office was gay or bisexual, and that there was 'no hope' of him becoming a manager unless he joined this 'group'.
The employee claims the boss then told him to 'be smart and learn' after explaining that sexual orientation was the reason why young male employees with little experience were promoted ahead of him.
Mr Jagadeesh claims male employees were 'sexually exploited' in order to gain the promotions they wanted.
He explained how the incident impacted his 'mental stress and self-dignity'.
After receiving a disability diagnosis of muscle tension dysphonia several months into his job, which caused the employee pain in his throat and vocal chords, Mr Jagadeesh was told by a doctor to take medical breaks from his role as a telephone sales representative.
The job required Mr Jagadeesh to speak to 60 to 70 customers a day for less than 30 seconds each in order to hit 'adherence targets' - meaning his medical breaks made this impossible.
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce fired Mr Jagadeesh on May 10, 2016, after the workplace refused to accommodate his disability, the defendant claimed.
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce claims Mr Jagadeesh was fired due to being unqualified.
Mr Jagadeesh claims he was discriminated against for his straight sexual orientation and his disability - he applied for 17 other roles within the company but was turned down, he claims.
The job required Mr Jagadeesh to speak to 60 to 70 customers a day for less than 30 seconds each in order to hit 'adherence targets'
He claims the one-on-one meeting with his manager revealed the true reason for his discrimination - his sexual orientation.
The manager in question is now on 'extended leave of absence', reports National Post.
Mr Jagadeesh's complaints were first dismissed last November by The Canadian Human Rights Commission after an investigator refused to go forward with his allegations of discrimination due to being straight and concluded that the company had accommodated his disability.
Crystal Jongeward, a senior consultant of public affairs for the bank told National Post: 'While we are unable to comment as the matter is still before the commission, no form of harassment or discrimination is acceptable at our bank.'
Mr Jagadeesh represented himself in his appeal to the Federal Court, claiming the previous investigation ignored key evidence proving discrimination against his sexual orientation.
The court ruled the initial investigation had not followed procedure and ruled for it to be reopened with a different investigator.
Mr Jagadeesh was awarded $3,332.30 (£2,534.06) from CIBC for the time and expenses incurred in his appeal.
VIDEO - 12/14 Meetup report - YouTube
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 07:46
VIDEO - (6) Megyn Kelly Interview: America's Great Divide | FRONTLINE - YouTube
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 07:45
VIDEO - Victor Davis Hanson Looks At Big Picture: President Trump Undoing Progressive Agenda'.... | The Last Refuge
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 07:38
I hear people say that POTUS is crude or offensive a lot.
My response, ''So what? Nobody is perfect.
In spite of what you might think of the man, and in spite of grenades being thrown in his path to do more, look at your 401K, look at the unemployment rate, look at how he's handled the chaos at the Border and look at how he's handled China's predatory trade practices that have sucked the wealth out of our country building China in to the country it is, building schools, roads, bridges and military at the expense of our country intrafructure and employment.
So maybe in some senses he's seen or is as an offensive SOB.
What's the adage, well he's are SOB now.
It's at the point we need one to right things.
I say give 'em hell Team Trump.
And, if you don't see his love for his family & the USA, you're not paying attention and not being evenhanded.
You're being brainwashed by a media that has been complicit in pushing the nothingburger which was the Russian collusion delusion and spying on an American citizen.
You have heard or read about the fact the FBI, CIA and DOJ have for years surveilled POTUS as a citizen, candidate and president-elect, with no LEGITIMATE evidence right? You've heard or read exculpatory evidence was held back on MULTIPLE occasions right?
Read the OIG Report yourself. Don't take someone else's word for what it says.
It's not tin-foil cap stuff to say he's the victim of a coup.
If the same thing were done to Obama or a Democrat, people would be literally and figuratively hung for it.
Where's the even handedness??
I bet you'd be angry after three years of this.''
Generally the response is crickets.
A year ago, I'd here from them, ''Your a Fox News nut''
But at the outset I make it clear I don't watch FOX or any TV. I read as much as I can.
I ask them, ''Have you ever heard of Fight Club?
What's the first rule of Fight Club?''
Most of the time I get the response, ''You don't talk about Fight Club.''
Then I tell them, ''Well I'm going to talk to you about Right Club, The Last Refuge. Look it up.
Google it on the internet, read it and the comments within it with an open mind, then think about it and then '--talk about it.''
I tell them I got skin in this game because to a large extent I was put out of business because of the trade polices of the Trump Administration, particularly Trade with China.
While I personally did not sell to China, China purchased a major amount of what I traded in.
When China backed off buying many things, one of which I traded, the supply went up and the value cratered, effectively putting me out of business after 20+ years trading under my own name.
At my age, even in this economy jobs are scarce so I'm driving for rideshare.
It's a real grind. Not much left after, State, FICA, Federal and Unemployment taxes.
I got skin in this.
I tell people I'm OK with it! And I am!!
I saw it coming when Tarrifs were first discussed.
I'm OK with it because it is the RIGHT thing to do for the USA, after 40+ years of our jobs being lost and the USA's purchasing power being given away for nothing except for the filling of the pockets of politicians and and global monopolies.
I don't care if POTUS is offensive and sometimes says boneheaded things that tee it up for the Bolsheviks, Media and Deep State to drive at him.
Net, net he's the best thing that I've ever seen happen to this country and for the young people.
I'm proud to say I voted for him and I was absolutely certain from the very beginning he would be POTUS. There was no doubt.
Based on performance up to now, I'd vote for POTUS for a third term if it were possible.
Like Liked by 2 people
VIDEO - DC Basement >> 🍊🍠("You are cowards. Leave it.") on Twitter: "@adamcurry MTV ready https://t.co/RUwtSkN7tE" / Twitter
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 07:14
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VIDEO - artman1033 on Twitter: "@adamcurry a clip fir the BEST PODCAST IN THE UNIVERSE https://t.co/aH3NLZt58A" / Twitter
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 07:08
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VIDEO - (36) Charlotte ClymerðŸ"¸'ðŸŒ on Twitter: "This is the lovely ad that @HallmarkChannel pulled from their broadcast after conservatives complained. A simple kiss by lesbian newlyweds. Same-sex marriage has been the law of the land for four ye
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 07:04
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VIDEO - Anonymous donations pay off $70K in layaway purchases
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:42
Updated: Sat 11:53 AM, Dec 14, 2019
ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Anonymous donations have paid off $70,000 in layaway purchases at two Walmart stores in Alabama.
Some $70,000 in layaway purchases were paid off at two Walmart stores in Alabama. (Source: CNN)A company spokesman says someone paid off $45,000 in purchases at a store in the east Alabama city of Anniston on Monday.
He says someone paid off another $25,000 in layaway purchases two days later at a Walmart in nearby Oxford.
It's unclear whether the same person was responsible for both donations.
Customers who arrived to pick up layaway items on Monday got a note that says: ''God loves you. Jesus paid the price.''
Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
VIDEO - Joel Osteen and Kanye West Are Reportedly Planning Sunday Service Tour | Complex
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:41
Kanye West and televangelist Joel Osteen are looking to take their spiritual connection on the road.
Following West's Sunday Service at Osteen's Lakewood Church, the two reportedly talked about embarking on a national tour. According to TMZ, West and Osteen will conduct a service at Yankee Stadium on May 2. West will be in charge of the music while Osteen will handle to message.
Sources claim that the two will take on Chicago's Guaranteed Rate Field in September. If these two shows go well, West and Osteen will possibly expand the experience. Those close to the situation tell TMZ that the two are talking about putting together services in Miami, Detroit, and Los Angeles. The details are still unknown, but these shows might take place in 2021. Osteen has held services at Detroit's Comerica Park in the past with much success, while the Los Angeles event will probably take place at Dodger Stadium.
VIDEO - Jill Biden: 'Trump's phone call to Ukrainian President PROVES he's afraid of going up against Joe' | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:31
Jill Biden says Donald Trump's now-infamous phone call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky proves he is 'afraid' of going up against her husband, Joe, in 2020.
The former Second Lady of the United States, 68, made the claim during an interview with MSNBC on Saturday.
Addressing the phone call - which is now at the heart of the impeachment probe - she stated: 'When Joe and I decided to run, we knew it was going to be tough.. but we could never have imagined that it would turn into Donald Trump asking a foreign government to get involved in our elections.
'I think, you know Donald Trump has shown us who he is and this has been a real distraction, and I think it just proves that he's afraid to run against my husband'.
Trump has vehemently denied he was trying to dig for dirt on Joe and his family during his call with Zelensky, in which he was asked the Ukrainian president to look into the firing of a former prosecutor.
The prosecutor was allegedly fired while trying to investigate Burisma - a Ukranian gas company where Joe's son, Hunter Biden, served on the board.
Jill Biden says Donald Trump's now-infamous phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky proves he is 'afraid' of going up against her husband, Joe, in 2020
Jill and Joe have been married for over four decades, and she came out as swinging in his defense on MSNBC. The couple is pictured in November
Hunter was reportedly paid up to $50,000 a month for the plum position, despite having no prior experience in the gas industry and failing to speak the local language.
Many have seen Hunter's position on the board of the Ukrainian company as a conflict of interest, given that his father was serving as vice president at the time.
However, during her MSNBC interview on Saturday, Jill staunchly defended her son, stating: 'I know my son's character. Hunter did nothing wrong, and that's the bottom line.'
She did not reference Hunter's messy current paternity case with Arkansas-based former stripper, Lunden Roberts.
Lunden, 28, filed suit against Hunter, 49, in May, seeking child support for their 16-month-old child - a child he denied was his until a DNA test proved otherwise.
She also made no mention of reports that Hunter is also expecting his fifth child with new wife, Melissa Cohen, whom he wed after just 10 days.
Hunter was reportedly paid up to $50,000 a month for the plum position on the board of Burisma, despite having no prior experience in the gas industry and failing to speak the local language
However, Jill did speak with MSNBC about a litany of complaints critics have directed towards her husband and his campaign.
Last week, Joe called a New Hampshire primary voter a 'damn liar' during a campaign stop, after the man accused the former vice president of sending his son to Ukraine to 'sell access' to the presidency.
'You fight for your kid, Joe's going to stand up to bullies, bullies like Donald Trump,' Jill said, defending Joe's behaviour, which many saw as aggressive.
'It showed his strength, his tenacity, the fire in the belly!'
She continued: 'You can never say anything against somebody's child. That's bullying, look at what the president did this week with that 16-year-old girl Greta [Thunberg]. You can't attack children!'
'You fight for your kid, Joe's going to stand up to bullies, bullies like Donald Trump,' Jill stated
She also refuted claims that at the age of 77 Joe is too old for the presidency.
'Most of them [the Democratic frontrunners] are in their 70s... Just come and travel with me, travel with Joe. He has a lot of energy. He's always been like that!'
She also told MSNBC she was surprised by reports that Joe told staffers that he would consider stepping down after just one term as president.
A senior adviser reportedly told Politico last week that 'if Joe is elected, he's going to be 82 years old in four years and he won't be running for reelection'.
The source reportedly said: 'If Joe chose a young and diverse running mate and Cabinet, the adviser argues he could offer himself to the Democratic electorate as the candidate to help usher in the next generation of Democratic political leaders.
'This makes Joe a good transition figure.'
His campaign pushed back strongly against those reports.
'Lots of chatter out there on this so just want to be crystal clear: this is not a conversation our campaign is having and not something VP Biden is thinking about,' the Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield tweeted Wednesday.
A Politico report published Wednesday claimed that sources have revealed Joe Biden, 77, would not seek reelection if he became president in 2020
AGES OF THE 2020 CANDIDATES ON INAUGURATION DAYAs of December 3, 2019 there were 18 declared major party candidates in the 2020 presidential election, including 15 Democrats and three Republicans.
Here is the age each of them would be on Inauguration Day 2021 if he or she were to win:
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders : 79 years, 4 months, 13 days Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg : 78 years, 11 months, 7 days Former Vice President Joe Biden : 78 years, 2 months, 1 day Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R): 75 years, 5 months, 21 days President Donald Trump (R) : 74 years, 7 months, 7 days Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren : 71 years, 6 months, 30 days Author Marianne Williamson: 68 years, 6 months, 13 days Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick: 63 years, 11 months, 20 days Billionaire activist Tom Steyer: 63 years, 6 months, 26 days Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar : 60 years, 7 months, 27 days Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh (R): 59 years, 25 days Maryland Rep. John Delaney : 57 years, 9 months, 5 days Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet: 56 years, 1 month, 25 days New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker : 51 years, 8 months, 25 days Former HUD Secretary Julin Castro : 46 years, 4 month, 5 days Entrepreneur Andrew Yang: 46 years, 8 days Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard : 39 years, 9 months, 9 days South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg : 39 years, 2 days
VIDEO - (6) In the Age of AI (full film) | FRONTLINE - YouTube
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 05:48
VIDEO-U.S. Director of National Intelligence Caught in Interview Unaware of London Terror Arrests - YouTube
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 22:00
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VIDEO-Joe Biden CONFRONTED in San Antonio, TX 12/13/2019 - YouTube
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 21:46
VIDEO-Bryan Simpson on Twitter: "Massive impromptu #FCKBORIS demo in Glasgow. Thousands of young people have taken over Buchanan street #NotMyPM https://t.co/pqpHehDKza" / Twitter
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 11:22
victoria NeesonðŸ'š @ 38tori
20h Replying to
@BrySim88 Tell me exactly how they have won with such a majority when this is the outcome?? Because they're marching in London also.. something stinks about this election..
View conversation · PeaceBuddha @ PeaceBuddhas
8h Replying to
@38tori @BrySim88 I'm sorry you don't like the result of the election but it is called democracy ... we are very lucky in the UK - voters can vote freely, protesters can protest freely. There will be another chance for people to vote and be heard at the next election.
View conversation · Snitty McSnittface @ Splendiditis
20h Replying to
@BrySim88 @PeterStefanovi2 This has made me smile on a really shitty day, thank you!
View conversation · marco @ marco91606952
17h Replying to
@Splendiditis @BrySim88 @PeterStefanovi2 today has been a really odd day .. it felt like i have been mourning lol .. chin up .. there is a war to be won. :0)
View conversation · Lee Teddybearhugs 👍 @ cannabislee
19h Replying to
@BrySim88 @linda_whyman Well done Scotland ... Mega respect. 👍ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ‚
View conversation · Barby #VoteLabourForTheLoveOfLife @ barbycottontail
19h Replying to
@BrySim88 @Jc4pmTomski ''¤¸Scotland ''ŠðŸŒ¹ðŸ‘
View conversation · Henning-G¼nther Wind @ HenningWind
20h Replying to
@BrySim88 @_DylanHamilton_ Why didn't you go to vote in the first place??? Can't get my head around this, if the figures should be accurate.
pic.twitter.com/oJ8JS5MrUO View conversation · Joanna Blackman @ joanna_blackman
19h Replying to
@HenningWind @BrySim88 @_DylanHamilton_ hi there, thanks for sharing these charts. Where does the "Current vote" chart come from? Please can you give me a link/source? Thanks, Jo
View conversation · Rich @ uneducatedscot
19h Replying to
View conversation · B. Delcie Sando #ReinstateChrisWilliamson @ beverlysand1
20h Replying to
@BrySim88 @silverrich39 and
5 others This will cheer a few of us
@silverrich39 @LilaBen93875291 @_AlisonClarke @Aliceliverpool @mygibbo @Liverpool_WASPI View conversation · B. Delcie Sando #ReinstateChrisWilliamson @ beverlysand1
20h Replying to
@BrySim88 @silverrich39 and
5 others Forgot to tag
#NotMyPM View conversation ·
VIDEO-Urgent. The Youtube "Purge" is coming... - YouTube
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:43
VIDEO - 'Not my prime minister', protesters march...
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:27
LONDON, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Several hundred noisy protesters marched through central London on Friday to protest against Britain's election result, chanting "Boris Johnson: Not My Prime Minister" and "Boris, Boris, Boris: Out, Out, Out".
The protesters, brandishing signs that read "Defy Tory (Conservative) Rule" and "Refugees Welcome", walked at speed from outside Johnson's Downing Street residence to Trafalgar Square and on to the theatre district, blocking traffic and drawing a heavy police presence.
Johnson's Conservatives won Thursday's election by a large margin. On Friday he called for "closure" over the Brexit divisions that have riven the United Kingdom for the past three and a half years. (Reporting by Johnny Cotton; writing by Kate Holton Editing by Gareth Jones)
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VIDEO - Steven Kwast | The Urgent Need for a U.S. Space Force - YouTube
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:20
VIDEO - 'I will repay your trust,' UK PM Johnson tells ex-Labour voters on trip to north - Reuters
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:17
LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited former strongholds of his Labour opponents in northern England on Saturday and pledged to repay their trust for helping to deliver a stunning victory for his Conservative Party in Britain's national election.
Johnson led the Conservatives on Thursday to their biggest election win since Margaret Thatcher's landslide victory of 1987, trouncing his socialist Labour Party opponent Jeremy Corbyn by winning 365 parliamentary seats and securing an overall majority of 80. Labour won 203 seats.
The election saw the crumbling of Labour's ''Red Wall'' of formerly safe seats in working class areas across northern and central England where most people voted in a 2016 referendum to leave the European Union.
Johnson, the face of the ''Leave'' campaign in that referendum, fought the election on the slogan ''Get Brexit done''.
''I know that people may have been breaking the voting habits of generations to vote for us,'' Johnson told supporters in Sedgefield, a symbolically important seat as it was once held by former prime minister Tony Blair, Labour's most successful leader.
''I want the people of the north east to know that we in the Conservative Party, and I, will repay your trust.''
Brexit was widely seen as the decisive factor in the election, with Johnson's promise to take Britain out of the EU by Jan. 31, 2020, winning over many former Labour voters.
''What an incredible thing you have done, you have changed the political landscape, you've changed the Conservative Party for the better and you've changed the future of our country for the better,'' said Johnson.
Slideshow (4 Images) ''First of all, what are we going to do to repay that trust? We are going to get Brexit done.''
Johnson, who called the snap election to break years of deadlock in parliament over Brexit, has also promised to spend more money on health, education and the police.
Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Gareth Jones
VIDEO - Anger erupts at U.N. climate summit as major economies resist bold action - Reuters
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:16
MADRID (Reuters) - Major economies resisted calls for bolder climate commitments as a U.N. summit in Madrid limped toward a delayed conclusion on Saturday, dimming hopes that nations will act in time to stop rising temperatures devastating people and the natural world.
With the two-week gathering spilling into the weekend, campaigners and many nations slammed Chile, presiding over the talks, for drafting a summit text that they said risked throwing the 2015 Paris Agreement to tackle global warming into reverse.
''At a time when scientists are queuing up to warn about terrifying consequences if emissions keep rising, and school children are taking to the streets in their millions, what we have here in Madrid is a betrayal of people across the world,'' said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a climate and energy think-tank in Nairobi.
The annual climate marathon had been due to conclude on Friday, but dragged on with delegates mired in multiple disputes over implementing the Paris deal, which has so far failed to stem the upward march of global carbon emissions.
Long-time participants in the talks were outraged at the unwillingness of major polluters to show ambition commensurate with the gravity of the climate crisis, after a year of wildfires, cyclones, droughts and floods.
The European Union, small island states and many other nations had been calling for the Madrid decision to signal that the more than 190 countries participating in the Paris process will submit more ambitious pledges to cut emissions next year.
The agreement enters a crucial implementation phase in 2020, when countries are supposed to ratchet up their ambitions ahead of the next major round of talks in Glasgow.
If big polluters such as China, India, Japan, Brazil, Australia and others fail to agree more meaningful climate action soon, then scientists say already slim hopes of averting catastrophic temperature rises will all but vanish.
'STRONG MESSAGE' Although no advanced economy is yet on track for the kind of action scientists say is needed to steer the climate onto a safer path, all the EU's 28 member states, bar Poland, agreed in Brussels on Thursday to target net zero emissions by 2050.
Krista Mikkonen, Finland's environment minister, speaking on behalf of the EU, told the talks that it would be ''impossible to leave'' without agreeing a ''strong message'' on the need to redouble pledges to cut emissions next year.
Tina Steger, climate envoy of the Marshall Islands, echoed the call, telling delegates: ''It appears we are going backwards on the issue of ambition when in fact we should be calling for a quantum leap in the other direction.''
Ministers broke into groups on Saturday for eleventh-hour negotiations on a tangle of issues, including finance for climate-vulnerable countries, carbon markets, and the all-important issue of the strength of the summit's final text.
The Paris process has been weakened by a move by U.S. President Donald Trump to begin withdrawing the world's largest historical emitter from the agreement last month, making it easier for other big countries to backslide.
Slideshow (5 Images) Chile became the target of anger among campaigners, who said the draft text circulating on Saturday was among the worst they had seen in many years of U.N. climate negotiations.
''The approach Chile has taken on this text shows how it has listened to the polluters and not to the people,'' said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International.
Writing by Matthew Green; Editing by Alex Richardson, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Helen Popper
VIDEO - Tom Joyner, radio icon retiring after 25 years, says he would have stayed longer for more money - CBS News
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:58
Hollywood, Florida '' Radio giant Tom Joyner is signing off Friday after a legendary career. The 70-year-old is the host of America's No. 1 syndicated urban morning show, "The Tom Joyner Morning Show," which airs in more than 105 markets nationwide and reaches nearly eight million listeners.
Joyner keeps his listeners laughing and learning."Our thing has always been to empower people. But to empower, we have to first entertain," Joyner told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan. "If I've got you laughing, I've got you listening."
Entertainment and empowerment have paid off. At his peak, Joyner said he was pulling in $14 million a year."But it got to a point where they would '' 'All right, we're gonna cut your salary in half.' 'Okay.' 'And then in half.' 'Okay.' And then in half two years ago," Joyner said. "Because my salary was based on my results, and not only was I losing affiliates but radio industry as a whole was losing traction."
"If you had been offered more money, would you have stayed longer?" Duncan asked.
"Heck yeah. Shoot, I '' my goal was to die on the radio. Have my funeral on the radio," Joyner said with a laugh.
His nationally syndicated radio show hit the airwaves in 1994 with a certain audience in mind. "We do a show for African Americans. That's what we do," he told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl in 2000. "1996, the election, I've heard you were responsible for registering a quarter of a million black voters," Stahl said.
"I've been given that credit," Joyner said.
"Politicians, they call you? They want to come on?" Stahl asked.
"Yeah. They think if that they want to reach African-Americans that vote, then they can come to this show," Joyner said.
He sighed when we asked him how his message from 2000 resonates today as we prepare for the 2020 presidential election. "It was different then," Joyner said. "I think we're more woke then than now," Joyner said.
Joyner said "super-serving" the African-American community has been the secret to his success."Don't worry about crossover. Just super serve, super serve, super serve. Anything that affects African Americans, that's what you do," he said. "Just worry about connecting to people and their needs."
Joyner was born and raised in Tuskegee, Alabama, one of many cities that helped shape the civil rights movement.
"I was a fat kid and they served great food at civil rights marches," Joyner said. "Oh my god, the chicken was good. So I'm out there protesting the fact our radio station in this all-black town didn't play any black music. And this guy who owned the radio station, which was inside a Ford dealership, came out and said, 'I don't need this. I'm trying to really sell some cars.' Tell you what, it's a sun up, sun down station, every Saturday, I'll let one of you play all the Aretha and The Temptations that you want."
That's how it started, he said.By the mid 1980s, Joyner earned the nickname "fly jock" because he was offered two jobs and took both: flying between Dallas where he did a morning show and Chicago where he was on air in the afternoons. Asked how he did that for eight years, Joyner responded with a laugh, "Greed."
Celebrities including Oprah Winfrey have been calling in to congratulate Joyner on his retirement.Sybil Wilkes co-hosts the show with Joyner from Dallas."The Tom Joyner Morning Show has been a lifeline for a lot of people who are going through their day-to-day. But it has empowered them. It's entertained," Wilkes said.
Joyner has raised more than $60 million to support historically black colleges. In his next chapter, he said he wants to continue that and concentrate on "putting [money] in the hands of college students to help their tuition at historically black colleges. That's my goal. All after 12 noon."
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VIDEO - Strange sky sounds recorded in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands -- Earth Changes -- Sott.net
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 17:07
In the southern Dutch town of Valkenswaard strange sounds were heard coming from the sky. Roy van Zon, a resident of Valkenswaard, recorded the sounds that appeared in the evening hours of December 9th and 10th. The video can be seen below:
On van Zon's Facebook page, others in the area wrote they also heard the sounds and one other person also recorded the sounds and
posted it in the comments section. In a live
radio interview with Radio 538, van Zon said: "I received messages from people saying that I edited this, but I didn't do that. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who heard these sounds, as I thought I was going crazy." In another
radio interview, with Qmusic this time, van Zon notes that he heard the sounds on Monday for the first time, and on Tuesday evening for the second time.
The two original videos Roy posted on his Facebook page are as follows:
On Monday December 9th:
On Tuesday December 10th:
A crane operator
told Dutch news outlet
Omroep Brabant that the sounds could have been coming from a crane, or the safety break of a crane, that was moved by high winds. However, other crane operators didn't recognize these sounds.
In the following video, the strange sky sounds heard in Valkenswaard were compared to the strange sky sounds heard in the Dutch city of Gouda in 2016, and sound similar:
The full video of the strange sky sounds heard in Gouda in 2016 can be seen
VIDEO - Let the Brexit healing begin, Johnson pledges after commanding election victory - Reuters
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 16:56
LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Friday for ''closure'' over the Brexit divisions that have riven the United Kingdom, saying his election victory provided an overwhelming mandate to take Britain out of the European Union on Jan. 31.
Johnson, the face of the victorious ''Leave'' campaign in the 2016 referendum, fought the election under the slogan of ''Get Brexit Done'', promising to end the deadlock and spend more on health, education and the police.
He was vindicated with the biggest Conservative win since Margaret Thatcher's landslide victory of 1987, trouncing his socialist Labour Party opponent Jeremy Corbyn by winning 365 seats with a majority of 80. Labour won 203 seats.
Ever since the referendum, Brexit has divided the United Kingdom and fueled soul-searching about everything from secession and immigration to capitalism, empire and modern Britishness.
Johnson called for the healing to begin.
''I frankly urge everyone on either side of what are, after 3.5 years, an increasingly arid argument, I urge everyone to find closure and to let the healing begin,'' Johnson said outside his residence at 10 Downing Street.
''I know that after five weeks, frankly, of electioneering, this country deserves a break from wrangling, a break from politics and a permanent break from talking about Brexit.''
With such a big majority, Johnson will now swiftly ratify the Brexit deal he struck with the EU so that the United Kingdom can leave on Jan. 31 - 10 months later than initially planned.
Both opponents and supporters of Brexit agree that it is the United Kingdom's most significant geopolitical move since World War Two, pitching the world's fifth largest economy, and one of the pillars of the West, into an uncertain future.
Such a large majority recalls those secured by past leaders such as Thatcher and Labour's Tony Blair. But beyond Brexit, Johnson has given few clues about what his vision is for the United Kingdom.
Johnson's Conservatives increased their share of the vote to 43.6%, their highest since Thatcher's first election victory in 1979, and higher than Blair's in any of his three election wins.
''GET BREXIT DONE'' Brexit is far from over. After Jan. 31, Britain will enter a transition period when it will negotiate a new relationship with the remaining 27 EU states. The outcome of those talks will shape the future of its $2.7 trillion economy.
The transition period can run until the end of December 2022 under the current rules, but the Conservatives made an election promise not to extend it beyond the end of 2020.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said many within the EU were relieved that Britain would now have a parliament with a clear majority, highlighting the frustration that European leaders have felt during three years of political logjam in London.
But she said it would be ''very complicated'' to complete the talks on a new relationship by December 2020.
French President Emmanuel Macron warned Britain that the more it chose to deregulate its economy after Brexit, the more it would lose access to the EU's single market.
President Donald Trump congratulated Johnson and said a U.S. trade deal could be more lucrative than any with the EU, the world's biggest trading bloc. ''Celebrate Boris!'' Trump said on Twitter.
The Brexit issue has eroded traditional party loyalties in Britain, creating new faultlines of urban vs rural, young vs old, and graduates vs non-graduates.
The Brexit effect was most starkly illustrated by the crumbling of Labour's ''Red Wall'', a rampart of working class areas across northern and central England where most people had voted ''Leave'' in 2016.
Frustrated at the country's failure to quit the EU since then, and at Labour's equivocal stance on Brexit, large numbers of voters deserted the party and flocked to the Conservatives, leaving the Red Wall full of holes.
David Hughes, 48, was won over by Johnson's ''Get Brexit done'' mantra and backed the Conservatives after previously voting Labour.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he delivers a statement at Downing Street after winning the general election, in London, Britain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls''People wanted to get Brexit sorted and I think Boris will get it done,'' he told Reuters in Burnley, in northern England.
Johnson said he was ''humbled'' at having won their trust, a rare note of humility from a politician best known for his bombastic rhetoric and supreme self-belief.
SCOTLAND REJECTS BREXIT Voters unambiguously rejected Corbyn's socialist program of nationalizations and colossal state spending, delivering Labour's worst result since 1935.
Corbyn announced he would step down after a ''process of reflection''.
Sterling jumped by 2.5%, its biggest rise in nearly three years, on the first signs of the scale of Johnson's victory, before giving up some of those gains.
The election result was hailed as a victory for English, Scottish and Irish nationalism - but it raised fears about the future of the United Kingdom.
The anti-Brexit, pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) won 48 of Scotland's 59 seats by thrashing both the Conservatives and Labour.
Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader and first minister of Scotland, said her semi-autonomous government in Edinburgh would next week publish a detailed case for a transfer of power from London that would allow her to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. Scots voted in 2014 to stay in the UK.
However, Johnson told Sturgeon by phone on Friday he opposed another referendum, prompting Sturgeon to say her political mandate must be respected, ''just as he expects his mandate to be respected''.
In Northern Ireland, supporters of a united Ireland won more seats than those in the province who want to remain part of the United Kingdom for the first time since the 1921 partition which divided the British north from the Irish Republic in the south.
Several hundred noisy protesters marched through central London on Friday evening to protest against the election result, disrupting traffic and chanting ''Boris Johnson: Not My Prime Minister'' and ''Boris, Boris, Boris: Out, Out, Out''.
Slideshow (13 Images) See also:
What would a UK Conservative majority government do? reut.rs/2Pe0X8P
GRAPHIC-Live election results tmsnrt.rs/2r0WtJp
EXPLAINER-Reality check for Johnson's Brexit: it's just the beginning reut.rs/35jwD25
Additional reporting by Sarah Young, William Schomberg, James Davey, Kate Holton and Andy Bruce; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Giles Elgood and Gareth Jones
VIDEO - Bill O'Reilly: George Soros behind FBI collusion against Trump, FISA abuse - TheBlaze
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 16:48
On the radio program Friday, Glenn Beck and guest Bill O'Reilly highlighted the most important takeaways from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report, which reveals the depth of corruption involved in the FBI's efforts to derail Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016.
O'Reilly emphasized that all Americans should be focused on the "very unsettling" and undeniable discovery that the FBI, "the most powerful investigative agency in the world, not just in the country," colluded to target Donald Trump "before and after the 2016 election."
Glenn and O'Reilly also discussed the Bonner Group, a Washington, D.C.-based Democratic fundraising group, backed by George Soros, whose primary agenda in 2016 was to keep Trump out of the Oval Office, and their connections with former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Watch the video below for more details:
Watch the full episode here.
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VIDEO - Vaping debate: Philip Morris applies to TGA to legalise heated tobacco
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 16:38
The controversial vaping debate has heated up with news Philip Morris has applied to the Therapeutic Goods Administration to legalise one of its products.
The tobacco giant has submitted an application to amend laws to allow for the sale of heated tobacco products in Australia.
Currently in Australia, only nicotine in ''tobacco prepared and packed for smoking'' can be
legally sold.
The Philip Morris application requests legalisation of the sale of nicotine in ''tobacco prepared and packed for heating''.
Heated tobacco products are available in more than 50 countries, and Philip Morris says scientific assessment shows they produce lower levels of toxic chemicals than cigarettes.
But the news has outraged vaping advocates who say it's bad news for Australian vapers and smokers wishing to switch to vaping.
Heated tobacco devices heat real tobacco within a specific temperature range, while e-cigarettes vaporise an e-liquid solution containing nicotine.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has insisted that vaping products would need to be approved by the TGA.
Legalise Vaping Australia campaign director Brian Marlow said today was a ''very dark day'' for hundreds of vape retailers and manufacturers who had developed their own safe vape products but do not have the millions of dollars required to go through the TGA process that Mr Hunt was demanding.
''This is a retrograde move orchestrated by our Federal Government and is designed to protect Big Tobacco and kill off Australia's rapidly growing vaping industry which is made up of small family retail businesses and highly innovative and world-leading e-liquid manufacturers,'' he said.
''Australia's 300,000 vapers and 2.6 million smokers should not be forced to access just one TGA approved nicotine vaping product owned by a multinational tobacco company, but they should have the freedom to purchase one of the many hundreds of combinations of available vaping products that suits them and helps them quit smoking.
''It is now patently clear that everything Greg Hunt has said and done as health minister has been to serve the interests of Big Tobacco and to kill off Australia's independent vape sector.''
Mr Marlow said there needed to be a fair go for vapers.
''If there are going to be any moves to legalise heated tobacco, then it stands to reason that all appropriately manufactured vaping products should be legalised too,'' he said.
Philip Morris managing director Tammy Chan said extensive scientific research showed that the vast majority of chemicals associated with smoking were generated by burning.
''Unlike cigarettes, heated tobacco products do not burn tobacco and are a better alternative
for people who would otherwise continue to smoke,'' she said.
''Smokers who switch to scientifically substantiated heated tobacco products can significantly reduce their exposure to many of the toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke.
''While not risk free, they are a better alternative to continued smoking.''
She said it was a public health issue that policymakers must address.
''Our application is based on years of rigorous scientific research and studies,'' she said.
''We believe that the adoption of proper product standards and appropriate regulation to
ensure product safety and integrity are critically important. Equally important is regulation to
ensure how, where and to whom the products are sold to.''
Ms Chan said it was undeniable that the best thing a smoker could do was to quit tobacco and nicotine altogether.
VIDEO - Michael Franzese: There Were Talks of Putting a Hit on Rudy Giuliani & Geraldo Rivera (Part 12) - YouTube
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 16:22
VIDEO - Frans Timmermans on the EU's New Green Deal | Season 2019 Episode 12/12/2019 | Amanpour and Company | PBS
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:51
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VIDEO - Frmr NHS psychologists warn children are being over-diagnosed, over-medicated for gender dysphoria as staff fears being branded 'transphobic' -- Health & Wellness -- Sott.net
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:42
The NHS is "over-diagnosing" children having medical treatment for gender dysphoria, with psychologists unable to properly assess patients over fears they will be branded "transphobic", former staff have warned.
Thirty five psychologists have resigned from the children's gender-identity service in London in the last three years, Sky News research suggests.
Six of those have now raised concerns about hormone treatment being given to children with gender dysphoria, a condition where a person experiences distress due to a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.
A psychologist, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Our fears are that young people are being over-diagnosed and then over-medicalised.
"We are extremely concerned about the consequences for young people... For those of us who previously worked in the service, we fear that we have had front row seats to a medical scandal."
The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust is where children with gender dysphoria are treated on the NHS.
GIDS had 2,590 children referred to them last year, compared with just 77 patients a decade ago.
VIDEO - Dems up the crazy: Invoke image of Zelensky's 15yo daughter 'DUCT-TAPED in Trump's basement' during increasingly surreal impeachment hearing -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:38
(C) Reuters / Doug Mills; (R)AFP / Getty Images North America / Andrew Burton Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Georgia)
In one of the strangest moments of the ongoing impeachment row in Washington, Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson asked fellow lawmakers to imagine the teenage daughter of Ukraine's president tied up in Trump's basement.
As the long hours of debate wore on during Thursday's impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, argued there existed an "imbalance of power" between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, offering a bizarre metaphor.
"They're standing there, President Trump is holding court. And he says, 'Oh, by the way, no pressure.' And you saw President Zelensky shaking his head as if his daughter was downstairs in the basement, duct-taped," Johnson said, drawing laughter from the room.
While the scenario Johnson conjured up was highly embellished, it was the latest Democratic attempt to undercut the White House, which insists President Trump placed no "pressure" on Zelensky, or imposed a "quid pro quo" on his government.
In public statements, Zelensky himself has maintained that he faced no pressure, deeming his July phone conversation with President Trump a "good call," but Johnson challenged that claim, suggesting at one point during Thursday's hearing that Trump's height advantage over Zelensky proved a disparity of power between the two leaders.
The Democrat-controlled House launched an impeachment inquiry into the Trump-Zelensky phone call in September, after a White House whistleblower came forward with allegations that President Trump coerced Zelensky by leveraging US military aid to compel an investigation into his political rival, Joe Biden. Democrats introduced two articles of impeachment earlier this week as a result of the inquiry, which are set for a committee vote sometime late on Thursday night.
VIDEO - Huckabee Floats 3rd Term for Trump, Leftists Lose Their Minds
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:33
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee caused a wave of leftist outrage after floating the possibility that President Donald Trump is eligible for a third term.
Huckabee made the argument in a Thursday tweet.
''I'll be on @seanhannity 2nite @FoxNews at 9pm ET and will explain how @realDonaldTrump will be eligible for a 3rd term due to the illegal attempts by Comey, Dems, and media , et al attempting to oust him as @POTUS so that's why I was named to head up the 2024 re-election,'' he wrote.
I'll be on @seanhannity 2nite @FoxNews at 9pm ET and will explain how @realDonaldTrump will be eligible for a 3rd term due to the illegal attempts by Comey, Dems, and media , et al attempting to oust him as @POTUS so that's why I was named to head up the 2024 re-election.
'-- Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) December 12, 2019
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The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution imposes term limits for presidents.
Do you think Huckabee's joke went too far? 7% (1 Votes)
93% (13 Votes)
''No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once,'' part of the amendment reads.
Leftists and anti-Trumpers responded to Huckabee's post with a flurry of vulgarity and threats, with some even attacking his religious views and family.
Didn't you use to pretend to be a Christian?
'-- John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) December 13, 2019
Or maybe'... ðŸðŸ¼ pic.twitter.com/aOSOoIS7Zv
'-- Elwood (@ElwoodBrew2) December 13, 2019
Unfortunately for everyone who took the post seriously, including former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Huckabee was joking.
During his Tuesday appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox show, the former governor explained his prank.
RELATED: Gov. Huckabee Blasts Chick-fil-A for Selling Out to Leftists Who Will Hate It Anyway
''I think it's hilarious,'' Huckabee said. ''And I had a lot of fun watching people on the left just have their heads explode. Some of them were NeverTrumpers '-- they went crazy; you had the typical media types.''
''Honestly, the fact that Susan Rice took the bait, I gotta be honest '-- that was funny.''
Watch his full comments below.
Huckabee's skills at trolling leftists are hilarious and prove they'll fall for almost anything, no matter how outlandish.
While Trump isn't going to be serving a third term, one thing's for certain: Huckabee will continue to be a source of outrage for the political left in America.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
VIDEO - Horowitz blows apart Democratic talking points on FBI | SUPERcuts! #726 - YouTube
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:16
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VIDEO - Speed limit on Highway 402 goes up as part of pilot project | CTV News
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 09:28
TORONTO -- A pilot project that will see a slight bump in speed limits on some of Ontario's highways took effect this week, the province's transportation minister said Tuesday.
Caroline Mulroney said the new rules, meant to bring Ontario in line with some other provinces, will take effect on three stretches of highway beginning on Thursday.
The change, which will see speed limits increase from 100 to 110 kilometres per hour in the designated pilot project areas, was announced in May along with government plans to hold public consultations into highway speeds.
"A limit of 110 kilometres per hour is higher than Ontario's speed limit for the past generation," Mulroney said while announcing the launch of the pilot project. "But it is aligned with other provinces across Canada."
Six other provinces currently have posted speed limits of at least 110 kilometres per hour on some of their highways: Alberta introduced a 110 kilometre per hour speed limit on some highways in 1993, Nova Scotia made a similar move in 1997 and New Brunswick followed suit in 2001.
Certain divided multi-lane highways in British Columbia have speed limits of 120 kilometres per hour, the highest permitted speeds in the country.
Mulroney said the higher limit also marks a return to a pace last used on Ontario roads in 1975, before higher oil prices and less fuel-efficient cars prompted a decrease in highway speeds.
The area covered by the pilot encompasses more than 200 kilometres of highway in busy travel corridors, Mulroney said.
They include a 90-kilometre stretch of Highway 402 between London and Sarnia, 32 kilometres of the Queen Elizabeth Way between St. Catharines and Hamilton, and the 102 kilometres of Highway 417 between Ottawa and the Quebec border.
Mulroney said those specific routes were well-suited to the pilot project.
"There's not much work that's required on these particular stretches of highway in terms of infrastructure," she said. "There's enough room between the interchanges ... and we also worked closely with our law enforcement partners to select them."
Mulroney said safety will remain a top concern throughout the pilot, noting enhanced signs and extra cautions will be posted in the designated zones.
The Ontario Provincial Police were consulted before the new rules took effect, according to a spokesman with the force's highway safety division.
Sgt. Kerry Schmidt did not weigh in on the higher limits, but said excessive speeds and aggressive driving are the leading causes of death on provincial highways. Schmidt said 44 people have already died in 2019 in speed-related incidents.
"We're going to continue to do our job and work with the ministry ... to ensure drivers understand their responsibilities," Schmidt said. "If you are travelling at higher speeds ... you need to have more focus, more attention."
Mulroney said the pilot project also includes a public consultation on highway travel in the province. An online survey launched Tuesday will be available for residents to complete until Nov. 23.
Ontario Green party Leader Mike Schreiner, who accused Premier Doug Ford of chasing headlines when the project was announced in May, reiterated Tuesday that he supports an "evidence-based review."
"Raising speed limits on highways is not a silver bullet for relieving congestion and gridlock," Schreiner said in a statement, adding that what's needed is greater investment in regional transit.
This story by The Canadian Press was originally published on Sept. 24, 2019
Ontario is exploring new ways to improve traffic flow by launching a pilot that will raise the speed limit to 110 km/h on 3 stretches of provincial highways:¸Hwy 402 from London to Sarnia¸QEW from St. Catharines to Hamilton¸Hwy 417 from Ottawa/Gloucester to Quebec border pic.twitter.com/eMCnKtEvGS
'-- Doug Ford (@fordnation) September 24, 2019
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VIDEO - Meet the 'Conservative Squad': the White Women Edition
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 08:25
Screenshot: Fox NewsThe so-called ''Squad'' '--comprised of progressive Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib'--have served less than one year of their freshman term in Congress, and have spent the entirety of that time living rent-free in Republicans' heads. From Tucker Carlson segments to President Trump's tweets, the Republican party's fixation on the Squad has bordered on obsessive . And now, that obsession has come to its most predictable endpoint: a bunch of white women appropriating them. Meet the ''Conservative Squad,'' a clan of four white women running for Congress in 2020.
The Conservative Squad consists of Alabama congressional candidate Jessica Taylor, South Carolina congressional candidate Nancy Mace, Texas congressional Beth Van Dyne, and Minnesota congressional candidate Michelle Fischbach. They made their world debut Thursday morning on Fox and Friends, promising to combat the ''Socialist Squad'' and make the Republican party relevant for younger voters.
''We are losing the younger generations of this country,'' said Taylor, the unofficial ringleader of this crew. ''I'm so grateful that [the Conservative Squad] willing to join up and help in this cause.''
''I love granddads everywhere, but this is not your granddad's GOP anymore!'' Mace said.
And when the Conservative Squad weren't hinting at generational shifts, deriding ''do-nothing Democrats,'' or sneering at the impeachment inquiry, they were making the case that 2020 will be the year of the Republican woman.
''We see so many women across the country right now'--Republican women'--who are picking up the mantle and want to serve,'' Mace said. ''They say 'enough is enough, my kid and my country are worth fighting for.'''
Women of the right are certainly organizing for Trump , but they're not necessarily making their way to Capitol Hill: Of the 102 women elected to Congress in 2018, only 13 were Republicans. This has somehow left Republican women stumped , despite research showing that the demographic and values shifts have increasingly made Republican politics irrelevant or flat out dangerous to many Americans under the age of 40.
But the Conservative Squad is trying to change that, one Republican scare tactic at a time.
Still, the most galling part of the segment was when Fox and Friends' awestruck host Ainsley Earnhardt said, ''You know, I'm sitting here thinking: This is so amazing, our country is so great. There are other countries where women can't even drive.''
Wow, what would we do without these amazing white Republican women, whose very existence reminds us of how grateful we are to... legally drive? Okay, sure.
VIDEO - Al Sharpton: Trump Is Attempting to 'Totally Disassemble' America | Breitbart
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 08:19
On Wednesday's broadcast of the ''Tom Joyner Morning Show,'' MSNBC weekend host Al Sharpton said President Donald Trump was attempting to ''disassemble'' America by attacking the Federal Bureau of Investigation for investigating him.
Discussing a Senate impeachment trial, Sharpton said, ''If the citizens start emailing and putting pressure on their senators to go by the evidence and not the party, we don't know what could happen. We don't know what may come out of the trial.''
He continued, ''When you have a president who last night went to Pennsylvania and called the FBI scum for investigating him and Russia when there was a clear report by the inspector general that there was a basis for investigation, we're looking at the total upheaval of government. Who would have ever thought that a president of the United States would undermine and use such language against their own FBI agents?''
He added, ''We are looking at someone who wants to totally disassemble the way this country has been built and established and establish it on a premise that is not fair and equal for all.''
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
VIDEO - (8) Carter Page: We're taking this case to the Supreme Court - YouTube
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 07:54
VIDEO - FEC complaint filed against Bloomberg News for investigating Trump, not Dems: 'Mockery of legitimate journalism' | Fox News
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 07:51
The Media Research Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Bloomberg Media and namesake founder Mike Bloomberg for the organization's decision to investigate President Trump, but not his political opponents.
Bloomberg News announced earlier this month that it wouldn't investigate Mike Bloomberg while he runs for president, or any other Democratic presidential candidate for that matter, but would continue to investigate Trump. The MRC is seeking ''an immediate investigation and enforcement action'' because the decision to avoid investigating a candidate potentially violates FEC and Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) regulations.
''Bloomberg News is making a mockery of legitimate journalism. They have consciously chosen to abandon their journalistic responsibilities in favor of what is politically convenient,'' MRC President Brent Bozell said in a statement.
''Bloomberg News is making a mockery of legitimate journalism. They have consciously chosen to abandon their journalistic responsibilities in favor of what is politically convenient."
'-- Brent Bozell
The complaint says that Bloomberg News could possibly be required to establish itself as a political committee, which would be required to register and report under FEC regulations, which it has not done. The complaint notes that Bloomberg News is not providing ''reasonably equal coverage to all opposing candidates'' which could be an improper campaign contribution.
The complaint says that investigating Trump but not opponents is a ''thing of value'' and ''acceptance is a contribution under FECA regulations.''
''This is a public declaration that Bloomberg's newsroom is adopting media bias as an official policy,'' Bozell continued. ''This is not only categorically unethical, but potentially illegal, which is why we are calling for an investigation.''
A Bloomberg News spokesperson declined comment when reached by Fox News.
The MRC is a conservative group that aims to ''expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the left: the national news media,'' according to its website. The decision to avoid investigating 2020 Democratic presidential candidates has sparked backlash and confusion, including former Bloomberg Washington, D.C. bureau chief Megan Murphy, who slammed the initiative in a series of scathing tweets.
Bloomberg News' new policy prompted Trump's 2020 reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale to announce that Bloomberg reporters would no longer receive credentials to rallies or campaign events because "they have declared their bias openly."
Bloomberg's entrance to the race came only 10 weeks before primary voting begins and was considered an unorthodox move that reflects anxiety within the Democratic Party about the strength of its current candidates. As a centrist with deep ties to Wall Street, Bloomberg is expected to struggle among the party's energized progressive base.
Bloomberg returned to the Democratic Party last year after switching his affiliation to Republican in 2001 to run for mayor of New York City, where he served for 12 years. He became an independent in 2007, shortly before he won his third term as mayor.
VIDEO - Why blackface is still part of Dutch holidays - Vox
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 07:49
This year, like every year, people will take to the streets across the Netherlands and Belgium to celebrate holiday festivities by dressing up as St. Nicholas and his "assistant," Black Pete. And like every year, people will put on blackface '-- including big red lips and afro wigs '-- to portray Black Pete.
According to the legend, St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas in Dutch) lives in Spain, arrives in Holland by boat every year with a team of black assistants in tow, and spends a month delivering presents to children across the country. Ever since the release of a children's book in 1850, however, that myth has included a black caricature named Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete.
So is Black Pete racist? Clearly, yes. I spent part of my childhood in Belgium, growing up with this tradition, and I've heard a lot of excuses that try to justify continuing the tradition. Some people say Black Pete doesn't have black skin; instead, he's just covered in soot from delivering presents through the chimney. Others say he's St. Nicholas's friend, and has never been a slave caricature. But historically, none of the defenses really hold up.
Change is happening, slowly. Though a 2014 decision to remove Black Pete from Amsterdam's Sinterklaas parade was overturned in a higher court, city parade organizers have taken it upon themselves to gradually remove Black Pete's racist characteristics from celebrations.
One of the ways they've done that is by introducing Chimney Pete, an alternative interpretation of the character without the Afro wig, earrings, or exaggerated lips '-- and with only a bit of soot dusted on his face. Half of all performers at the 2015 Amsterdam festival were Chimney Petes, and the plan was to boost that number to 75 percent for 2016. But in a surprise announcement, the city decided to replace all Black Petes with Chimney Petes for the 2016 holidays.
These efforts are still being met with resistance. In November 2017, pro-Zwarte Piet protesters obstructed highway access into Dokkum to block anti-Zwarte Piet protesters, even though the city had given them permission to demonstrate peacefully. The protest, which the mayor subsequently forbade out of concern about riots, has since been rescheduled with higher police presence.
To learn more about this tradition, check out the video above or watch it on our YouTube channel.
VIDEO - (6) Truth is Sturdy Kidneys MAGA on Twitter: "@StevePieczenik @realDonaldTrump @billstill @Non_MSM_News @RudyGiuliani @gatewaypundit @TonyUnplugged @Jim_Jordan @adamcurry It's the law" / Twitter
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 06:35
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VIDEO - Andy Patermann on Twitter: "So famous pop artists must make a deal with the devil whether they want to or not?! @adamcurry @THErealDVORAK https://t.co/5KQQNxzXUA" / Twitter
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 06:13
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Google Now Bans Some Linux Web Browsers From Their Services
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 07:54
Google is now banning the popular Linux browsers named Konqueror, Falkon, and Qutebrowser from logging into Google services because they may not be secure.
It is not known when Google started blocking these browsers, but a user discovered this ban yesterday and posted about it on Reddit.
In tests conducted by BleepingComputer, we can confirm that we were unable to log in with Konqueror or Falkon on multiple machines. When attempting to do so, we were told to try a different browser as Konqueror or Falkon may not be secure.
Google blocking FalkonThe full text of this message is shown below.
Couldn't sign you inThis browser or app may not be secure. Learn moreTry using a different browser. If you're already using a supported browser, you can refresh your screen and try again to sign in.Included in the message is a 'Learn More' link that brings us to a Google support article stating a browser may be blocked from signing in for the following reasons:
Don't support JavaScript or have Javascript turned off.Have unsecure or unsupported extensions added.Use automation testing frameworks.Are embedded in a different application.Even stranger, some users have reported that they could still login with Falkon [1, 2].
This has led people to offer a variety of theories for why this is happening including it being an A/B test being done by Google, related to the version of QtWebEngine installed, or maybe even an account setting such as 2FA being enabled.
BleepingComputer has contacted Google to ask why these browsers are blocked but have not received a response as of yet.
Fender is betting on machine learning and apps for its future '-- Quartz
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:58
Driving through the outskirts of Corona, California, you're confronted with one grey low-rise office park after another. Indistinguishable companies selling widgets and signs and accounting services blend into the monotony of suburban America. But one of these bland office parks happens to be the production facility for the company that helped define rock and roll with the first mass-produced electric guitar.
Fender has produced some of the most recognizable instruments in modern music, with designs that have stood the test of time. Founder Leo Fender'--an electrical engineer by trade'--borrowed the prevailing trends of hot-rod cars from the late 1940s and '50s to design the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Precision Bass, and Jazz Bass, to name just a few of his company's most famous designs. Although refined ever-so-slightly over the years, these instruments' designs have remained vastly unchanged since they first rolled off the production line when Baby Boomers were still a glint in their parents' eyes.
Quartz/Mike Murphy
Sanding guitar bodies at the Fender plant.Music has undergone myriad tectonic shifts in style, trends, and production techniques since the Stratocaster went into production in 1954, but Fender has generally rolled with the changes. Still though, the company has been known for the quality of its wholly analog products'--guitars that in some cases still have wax capacitors in them, and amplifiers still relying on vacuum tubes (the precursor to the transistor)'--at a time when much of the way that the world produces and consumes music is entirely digital.
Depending on who you ask, guitar sales are either withering or experiencing a renaissance. The reality is likely somewhere in the middle. The electric instruments associated with rock music'--a genre no longer dominating music charts like it used to'--are flagging, whereas newer electric-acoustic guitars, like those played by pop stars Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran, are selling to young budding musicians the world over.
In 2015, Fender brought on Disney and Nike veteran Andy Mooney as CEO to address these trends. How do you keep an American icon ticking along, while also trying to address the desires of tomorrow's players?
When Mooney was still at Disney, he met with then-CEO of Pixar and co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, Mooney said. Jobs had told him, in his mind, that every single product a brand produces is ''either a deposit or a withdrawal in the brand's equity.'' When he started at Fender, Mooney said he saw the company's electric guitar and amp products as deposits in the Fender brand bank. ''Other categories'--acoustics, pedals, generally anything else in the signal chain'--I felt we could improve,'' he said. Mooney added that in the intervening years, the company has become a ''serious player'' in pedals and acoustic guitars, and it's breaking new ground apart from instruments. ''On the digital side we're both creating new businesses and the businesses are synergistic to a core in the sense of helping group grow the entire industry.''
Quartz/Mike Murphy
Working on finishing guitar bodies.Fender is trying to do both things at once, and for now, it seems to be succeeding. In 2017, it launched Fender Play, a new subscription service that works on multiple devices to teach people how to play guitar. The app, which features content from popular musicians like The Rolling Stones, The Foo Fighters, and Carrie Underwood, is meant to help aspiring guitarists learn the music they want to play. At the launch, Fender's head of digital products, Ethan Kaplan, said that 90% of guitar players give up after a year. It's a frustrating instrument, and not immediately being able to emulate your heroes can be disappointing to new players. Play helps without the judgement of a teacher, and with songs they actually know. Mooney said if Fender were able to cut that drop-off rate by 10%, it would have profound impacts over the lifetime of the player, and for the guitar industry. The app has 110,000 paying subscribers, as of October.
Earlier this year, Fender released another innovative app, aimed at the players who are a little further along on their learning journey, called Fender Songs. The new $5 per month app, currently built atop Apple Music, uses machine learning to help users to learn how to play it. Players can listen to a song, slow it down, and see the chords that are being played as they happen'--rather like Guitar Hero, but in real life and you're playing on an actual instrument. Doing this for your favorite song either used to take hours of patience and trial-and-error while listening to the song, or hoping you could pay $20 for a copy of the sheet music'--assuming you could read music. Mooney said he's learned about 150 songs in the 50 years he's been playing guitar'--currently the Songs app has a library of 750,000 to choose from.
And this is just the start of how the company hopes to retain new guitar players and entice prospective learners. ''I think the more that we can do to help guide people through the buying decision, and then I think the better off everyone will be because there's more likelihood that the first-time player will stick with it,'' Mooney said.
Quartz/Mike Murphy
Spare guitar bodies waiting to be turned into a new player's dreams.While Fender has been doing direct-to-consumer guitar sales in the US for about five years, Mooney said they only make up about 2% of the region's revenue. Guitars are generally things you want to feel and play before committing to buying one, and the easiest way to do that is still in person. But most stores are hardly welcoming for new players'--especially women. ''I describe a lot of the music stores as a club that you only get to join if you're already in it,'' Mooney said. The answer will be to educate buyers to feel more empowered when they go in and deal with the annoying sales clerk at the guitar store. ''There's so much we can do in social media for things like, new buyers' guides,'' Mooney suggested, ''or how to get great tone out of an amp, or answering simple questions like, 'What's the difference between a Stratocaster and a Telecaster,' which we think everybody knows'--they don't.''
But as it builds out its digital presence, Fender is trying to straddle generations. At its factory in Corona, which primarily concentrates on the company's higher-end and custom models, there is little evidence of the young, vibrant, app-producing company that unveiled Fender Songs at a loft apartment in New York earlier this year. The factory is a place steeped in the decades of tradition of the company. Although the current factory was only built in 1998, Fender has been producing guitars in a smaller facility in the area since 1987'--the company was sold to a group of investors, including its then-CEO William Schultz, by CBS in 1985, but the sale didn't include the factory Fender had been operating out of since 1953'--and much of the machinery in the factory dates back to before the Vietnam War.
Quartz/Mike Murphy
Working with machines that are likely older than their operators.Fender's most recent electric guitar line, the American Ultra series, is packed with technology that the company has called ''subtle yet crucial innovations.'' For example, the new guitars were designed with revamped ergonomics that actually take into account the shape of the human body, meaning the guitar sits comfortably against you while playing it, which no blocky pieces of wood or metal that have been sticking into guitarists' rib cages or stomachs for decades. The guitars also feature a button hidden in the volume knob that changes the sound of the guitar, by combining or separating pickups on the guitar.
Quartz/Mike Murphy
A computer-aided machine cutting out the rough shape of a Fender guitar before a human shapes it up.Similarly, Fender's electronic amplifier division is putting out guitar amps that, using custom software and a ton of onboard processing power, sound indiscernible from its amps that use vacuum tubes. The software and electrical engineers working on these new amps, referred to as the Tone Master line, actually sit right next to the team that builds the traditional amps, Fender's evp of products, Justin Norvell, told me, so that they can check whether the sounds they're producing are as authentic as the ones produced by tube amps.
But building all of these instruments and accessories is still a very manual process. The Corona factory produces most of Fender's high-end and custom guitars, and can produce a few hundred instruments per day. While some parts of the building process are aided by longstanding computer-aided technologies'--like CNC milling machines used to cut the basic shape of a guitar out of wood'--the guitars are still hand-sanded, their fretboards crafted with individually hammered-out pieces of metal. Many women work on the factory floor at the plant, as their hands are generally smaller and more adept at some of the more dextrous tasks required to build a guitar.
Quartz/Mike Murphy
Josefina Campos, wiring another pickup.One woman, Josefina Campos, spends every day hand-wiring the electric pickups used in just about every guitar built by Fender's custom shop. She has sat in her own well-appointed office, customized by her to feel more welcoming and replete with a bowl of candy for visitors, for over 20 years, having joined the company in 1991 as a guitar sander. She learned her trade from Abigail Ybarra, who retired in 2017 and who was taught by Leo Fender himself how to wire pickups in 1958. Campos signs every pickup of hers that makes it into a Fender guitar.
On the factory floor, there are other signs of the company's heritage and ingenuity. A volume knob from a Telecaster is used in one machine to flatten out fretboards after the original tool broke; old firehoses are used to press together wood for guitar necks; a rack on the ceiling of the factory that was originally intended for drying painted guitars now holds excess inventory. There are hulking, green machines with paint stripped down to their silvery innards where decades of workers have laid their hands while using them. The original guitar produced by Leo Fender, a prototype of the ''Broadcaster'' (which due to a copyright battle ended up being called the Telecaster), hangs in a hallway, accompanied by other famous instruments produced by the 73-year-old guitar company.
But at the same time, there are glimpses at a more technical future. The wood for guitar bodies is aged and humidified in temperature-controlled racks that are linked up to sensors connected to an Amazon Web Services dashboard that managers can access from their phones wherever they are. If anything goes awry, they can find out instantly, not when someone next decided to check on the wood. ''If you didn't put the country of origin on a guitar, you probably could have told the difference from the US, Mexican, or a Southeast Asian model,'' Mooney said. ''That's not as easy to do anymore because the quality of all three of gone up.''
Quartz/Mike Murphy
Using old firehoses to glue together guitar necks.Fender is trying to merge its traditions with the direction music is going. It no longer takes generations for music genres to emerge, or culture-defining artists to top the charts. Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud, and social media have made it easier for anyone to be recognized for their talents near-instantly. Creating instruments and technologies that are as flexible as the music people want to create is a difficult task, as is making money doing that. But Mooney is optimistic, telling me that the company's Mustang amps are now the best-selling digital amps in the world, and adding that technology helping the business in unexpected ways. The amps have companion apps that let players tune to custom presets, and Fender has all the data on what's most popular. ''It tells you something about the profile of someone who's buying a digital amp as opposed to a tube amp,'' he said. ''It was designed as a companion to the product, but it's giving a whole bunch of info on how to evolve the product.''
Quartz/Mike Murphy
A worker hammering frets into a neck at the plant.Mooney said he envisions in the future that the app, called Fender Tone, could end up ''being a standalone thing,'' where an amplifier isn't even in the mix and a user plugs their guitar right into a computer, pulls up the preset they're after, and starts recording without anything else. Looking ahead, Mooney said he expects software to play an outsized role in the company's successes. It's growing from nothing, so any increases in the short term will look massive, but he conceded that within the next five years, Fender's hardware sales will still make up the bulk of its revenue. With Songs, Fender not only has to give Apple its 30% App Store cut, but also pay the artists whose songs users are listening to. ''So the profit margins on these apps for us is probably less than other people who are starting meditation apps or something like that,'' Mooney said. Overall, the company has grown by ''high single digits, low double digits'' each year that Mooney has been in charge, and he said he expects that to continue this year.
Whether much will change for Fender's sales will depend on if it can keep new musicians to keep playing, and for more experienced players to want increasingly fancy instruments. But what's likely not going to change, at least not very much more, will be Leo Fender's iconic designs, which have endured every cultural shift the world has been able to throw at it. They are a platform like another other product, that lets you do with them whatever you want.
''I think why these designs have survived the test of time is that form follows function,'' Mooney posited.
Democratic impeachment holdout Jeff Van Drew planning to switch parties - POLITICO
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:35
As of Saturday afternoon, it was still unclear if Van Drew would make the announcement before the House votes on impeachment, which is expected Wednesday.
''It was supposed to be bipartisan, it was supposed to be incontrovertible. It was supposed to be something that was always on the rarest of circumstances,'' Van Drew told reporters about impeachment earlier this week. ''Well it's not bipartisan.''
Republicans were excitedly touting the news on Saturday, describing it as a huge blow to Democrats' effort to impeach the president, which Trump and other GOP leaders have repeatedly decried as a "partisan witch hunt." The move is also certain to score major points with Trump, whose support could be crucial in a crowded GOP primary. Trump and Van Drew are expected to hold an event together next week, according to sources on Capitol Hill.
But Democrats were already brushing off the party switch, saying Van Drew was making the calculation purely based on politics and voters would see right through his self-interested motivations in November 2020.
And Democrats are quick to note that Van Drew's departure is unlikely to impact the impeachment vote tally in any way. Democratic leadership had already been expecting a handful of their members to vote against impeachment, including Van Drew, next week.
Multiple senior Democrats tried to reach out to the New Jersey freshman on Saturday but were unsuccessful. Van Drew did not respond to calls and texts from POLITICO seeking comment.
Rumors had swirled around Capitol Hill this week that Van Drew was considering leaving the Democratic Party but he strongly denied those claims on multiple occasions. Van Drew flipped his GOP district in southern New Jersey, helping deliver Democrats the House majority. The district, which still leans Republican, voted for Trump in 2016.
The stunning move comes amid new polling commissioned by Van Drew's campaign that shows his approval ratings are under water with Democratic voters in his district. Just 24 percent of Democratic primary voters said Van Drew deserves to be reelected to Congress, and only 28 percent said he deserves to be the Democratic nominee in next year's election.
TargetSmart conducted the survey from Dec. 7-10 of 390 likely Democratic primary voters, according to a source familiar with the polling. It also found 71 percent of voters would be less likely to support Van Drew in his reelection if he voted against impeachment. Only 22 percent said they would be more likely to support him.
If Van Drew voted to impeach Trump, 69 percent would be more likely to back him in next year's election and 22 percent would be less likely.
One Republican familiar with the situation said Saturday afternoon that the crossover was imminent. ''In the works as we speak,'' the member said, noting that Van Drew had a meeting ''at length'' with Trump on Friday. The meeting between Trump and Van Drew was first reported by the Washington Post.
Republicans on Capitol Hill had been whispering all week about whether Van Drew might join their ranks '-- some senior Republicans had even encouraged the move.
Van Drew does not currently have any primary challengers '-- but Brigid Harrison, a professor at Montclair State University, had been publicly mulling a run, citing Van Drew's opposition to impeachment.
He already has three GOP challengers, including businessman David Richter, who has the ability to self-fund and has already loaned his campaign $300,000.
Van Drew, a dentist and former state senator whose district includes the southern portion of the state, was a long sought-after Democratic recruit. He rebuffed entreaties to run until Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo decided to retire last cycle.
Trump carried the district by 5 points in 2016. Van Drew won it by 8 points in 2018, beating Seth Grossman, an opponent whom national Republicans disavowed after discovering he had made racially insensitive comments.
Local Democrats were enraged by the news. Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman, whose county is entirely within the 2 nd Congressional District, called Van Drew a ''coward'' who ''took the easy way out.''
''It's one thing to vote against impeachment, but instead of owning up to his constituents and explaining to them why he's doing what he's doing, he's now decided to just completely abandon the Democratic Party and switch,'' Suleiman said. ''It's just unconscionable.''
Sarah Ferris, Matt Friedman and Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.
Prince Andrew is pictured riding at Windsor as it's revealed he used pseudonym to set up secret firm | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:34
Prince Andrew has been spotted riding in Windsor after photographs emerged of him surrounded by 'a bevy of topless beauties' on a yacht off Thailand in 2001.
The Duke of York was said to be visiting the island of Phuket on a Christmas trip organised by Johan Eliasch, a Monaco-based tycoon behind the top sports brand Head.
According to reports at the time, the billionaire had generously agreed to foot at least some of the bill for Andrew's stay at the Amanpuri Hotel, an ultra-opulent establishment where villas cost up to £25,000 a night. The provenance of the yacht is unknown.
Prince Andrew has been spotted riding in Windsor after photographs emerged of him surrounded by 'a bevy of topless beauties' on a yacht off Thailand in 2001
The Duke of York was pictured with two other riders during the pursuit on Saturday morning
In the 2001 photos the Duke was said to be visiting the island of Phuket on a Christmas trip organised by Johan Eliasch, a Monaco-based tycoon behind the top sports brand Head
During the stay, the playboy antics of 'Air Miles Andy' sparked a predictable media rumpus. In particular, pictures of the Queen's portly second son being massaged with sun-cream by skinny young women led to speculation that '-- aged 40 and having just left the Navy '-- the father-of-two was suffering from a royal version of mid-life crisis.
His friends Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were also reported to be in Phuket at the time. We all know how that relationship eventually worked out '-- with Epstein dying in a New York prison cell in August after being arrested on sex-trafficking charges, and Andrew forced to quit public life because of his friendship with the paedophile.
Yet unfavourable headlines generated by the Thai holiday did little to dent Andrew's affection for the free-spending, Swedish-born Mr Eliasch. Quite the reverse.
Johan Eliasch, a Monaco-based tycoon behind the top sports brand Head, with Prince Andrew at Wimbledon in 2016
Seven weeks ago Prince Andrew was photographed leaving Harry's Bar in Mayfair with his personal protection officer a few minutes before Mr Eliasch departed on foot
Mr Eliasch, pictured was spotted leaving Harry's Bar moments after Prince Andrew
Not only do they remain close friends, but I can reveal that the two men have secretly set up a company together.
Seven weeks ago, Mr Eliasch was photographed leaving the exclusive Harry's Bar in Mayfair shortly after Prince Andrew.
Andrew, accompanied by his personal protection officer departed in a Bentley, before Mr Eliasch left on foot.
The firm, Naples Gold Limited, was incorporated in November 2002, with both men joining as directors shortly afterwards. It has filed paperwork ever since, including a recent set of accounts (showing no trading activity) submitted to Companies House earlier this week.
In normal circumstances, the business affairs of a senior royal are widely reported. Yet Naples Gold has never once been the subject of scrutiny.
Indeed, until the Mail came across its existence this week, neither Prince Andrew nor Mr Eliasch had ever publicly spoken about it.
Furthermore, it seems that everyone involved in the creation of Naples Gold has, over the past 17 years, taken steps to keep its royal links secret.
For example, with reference to Prince Andrew, on official documents relating to his business affairs he is almost always described using his official title 'HRH the Duke of York'. Yet when he signed up as a director of Naples Gold, he called himself 'Andrew Inverness'.
The pseudonym '-- his real name is Andrew Mountbatten-Windsor '-- appears to be derived from one of his less well-known titles, the Earl of Inverness. It was adopted, according to a source with knowledge of Naples Gold's formation, 'in order to avoid media attention' until the company was up and running.
As a result, the only way a casual observer of Naples Gold's registration document might gather that 'Andrew Inverness' is, in fact, Prince Andrew, would be to realise that they both share the birth-date of February, 19, 1960, and have identical handwriting.
Prince Andrew was photographed on a yacht off Thailand surrounded by what red-top newspapers dubbed 'a bevy of topless beauties' in 2001
Intriguingly, this is not the first time Prince Andrew has used the name 'Inverness' while seeking to remain below the radar.
Earlier this month, the Mail on Sunday revealed that he has a 40 per cent stake in a company called Inverness Asset Management, registered in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. It was set up by the Prince in conjunction with another wealthy benefactor called David 'Spotty' Rowland, apparently to run an offshore investment fund for their various super-rich contacts.
And in 2009, one 'Andrew Inverness, care of Buckingham Palace' was listed as a creditor of a luxury ski company called Descent International which had collapsed, owing around £27,000. A spokesman for the liquidator told reporters: 'We understand that to be Prince Andrew.'
But back to his Naples Gold and Mr Eliasch.
The tycoon first met Andrew when he organised a charity tennis match between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe at Buckingham Palace in the Nineties. Mr Eliasch is a former Tory party deputy treasurer and donor who became involved in buying tracts of Amazon rainforest to protect it.
Later, his credentials as an environmentalist impressed Gordon Brown, who commissioned him to look at ways to protect the 'lungs of the world'.
When Naples Gold was founded various other significant (and apparently misleading) steps were taken to keep Andrew's involvement secret.
In the section of Companies House forms where directors must by law list their 'usual residential address', Andrew chose not to name his then-home, Sunninghill Park in Windsor.
Instead, he claimed, erroneously, that he inhabited a Grade II-listed Georgian mansion on South Audley Street in London's Mayfair. The vast property was not where he lived. At the time, it was the offices of sports firm Head, and today it appears to be Mr Eliasch's London address.
According to the Land Registry, it's currently controlled via an offshore company called Vannin (IoM) Limited, which was also incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
Then, in the section of the Naples Gold registration document where Prince Andrew was asked to describe his 'business occupation', he chose not to state that he was a member of the Royal Family or declare his then official role as Britain's trade envoy.
Instead, he said he was a professional 'consultant'.
Ironically, this final statement was at least partly true. As the Mail has chronicled, Andrew has, for many years, acted as a paid commercial 'fixer' for wealthy acquaintances while travelling the world on official trade envoy business. A few years back, for example, leaked emails showed how he'd attempted to help a Greek sewerage company and a Swiss finance house bid for infrastructure projects in the corrupt Central Asian dictatorship of Kazakhstan, where he boasted friends in high places.
The deal eventually collapsed. But had it come off, he would have been paid a consultancy fee of almost £4 million.
Such work, in the often secretive world that Andrew's royal status allows him to operate, helps partly to explain how he's managed in recent years to become spectacularly rich.
Despite an official income limited to an allowance from the Queen '-- said to be around £250,000 annually '-- plus a small Navy pension thought to provide income of roughly £20,000, he leads a super-rich lifestyle.
Duchess of York with Prince Andrew and Johan Eliasch at Ascot Racecourse. In its coverage, the US newspaper duly described Mr Eliasch as a 'close friend' of the Prince
He has a collection of expensive wristwatches '-- including several Rolexes and Cartiers, a £12,000 gold Apple Watch and a £150,000 Patek Philippe '-- and a small fleet of luxury cars, including a new green Bentley.
The Duke also appears to have managed in recent years to help clear £5 million worth of debts accumulated by his ex-wife, the Duchess of York.
In addition, his property portfolio encompasses Royal Lodge, his home in Windsor Great Park, which benefited from a £7.5 million refurbishment, and a £13 million pile in Switzerland.
Called Chalet Helora, the seven-bedroom luxury lodge in the exclusive ski resort of Verbier previously boasted six full-time staff and was rented out for more than £22,000 a week.
The property is decorated with chic antiques, the master bedroom is draped in animal furs, there is a 650sq ft indoor swimming pool, sauna, sun terrace, boot-room, bar and lavish entertaining area.
So where does Naples Gold fit into this odd mix? Well, here's where things get confusing. Naples Gold's company secretary was for many years Clare Vincent, the investor relations manager of Mr Eliasch's sports company Head.
Its registered office has, over the ensuing 17 years, changed address five times, between a variety of Mayfair and Central London offices. At present, its registered HQ is the site of a mail handling service on Old Gloucester Street in London's Bloomsbury.
The only directors, since soon after incorporation, have been Mr Eliasch and Prince Andrew, save for an odd interlude in 2016, when Mr Eliasch resigned and was replaced in the role by a company called Eddore Limited, which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
Eddore than switched its address to another tax haven '-- the Isle of Man '-- before resigning as a director of Naples Gold in December 2016, whereupon it was replaced by Mr Eliasch.
The reason for these manoeuvres is unclear. Naples Gold has consistently filed annual accounts and company returns signed by the serving directors.
However, it does not appear to have ever generated income or spent money, or pursued other visible activity.
Its only shareholder is Mr Eliasch and its official status has always been listed as 'dormant'.
In some circumstances, dormant non-trading companies can be used to hold assets (such as property, brand names, assets or trademarks) on behalf their owners, until such time as they are needed. Could this be the case with Naples Gold?
It seems not: instead, a spokesman for Naples Gold insists that the secretive firm was a 'shelf' company created for a very different purpose: to 'facilitate a charitable initiative to con- serve rainforest'.
The rainforest project, which apparently would have been a collaboration between Prince Andrew and Mr Eliasch, was first pursued in 2003, at around the time the firm was formed, the spokesman said.
However, it was later scrapped because Andrew seemingly decided that being involved would represent a 'potential conflict' with the work of his brother Prince Charles, who 'spearheads' rainforest conservation for the Royal Family.
As for his decision to use the name Andrew Inverness on company documents, the spokesman said that this was at the suggestion of Mr Eliasch to 'avoid media attention until such time as the charitable rainforest conservation initiative was ready to be launched'.
After the idea was abandoned, 'Naples Gold should have been dissolved in 2005 as it no longer served a purpose'.
We must, of course, take this statement at its word. However it remains unclear why a firm which 'should have been dissolved' in 2005 has, instead, continued to file accounts at Companies House on an annual basis ever since, switching offices four times in the process. Neither is it clear why a senior member of the Royal Family should have chosen to remain as a director throughout that period, occasionally signing off those annual accounts.
Nor what persuaded Mr Eliasch to briefly resign his directorship in 2016 (a decade after Naples Gold had supposedly ceased having any purpose) in favour of the tax haven-based firm Eddore Limited.
Also, there is a question over why a conservation initiative should be called Naples Gold.
Indeed, when Mr Eliasch did eventually start a rainforest charity, he gave it a more utilitarian name: Cool Earth.
Asked about this, a source with knowledge of Naples Gold said: 'It was a shelf company and the name would have changed to appropriately reflect the purpose of the initiative.'
What is incontrovertibly true is that even after the rainforest scheme was abandoned, Mr Eliasch has remained a loyal and valued chum of Prince Andrew.
That friendship has stayed particularly firm as the stench around Andrew's dealings with Jeffrey Epstein has grown.
In 2011, amid mounting controversy over the Duke's decision to visit the convicted child sex offender in New York, Mr Eliasch was one of several business leaders to sign a letter to the Sunday Times newspaper praising 'the good work he [Andrew] undertakes'.
Two years later, he was reported to be among guests who joined Andrew at Ghislaine Maxwell's birthday dinner at the Dorchester hotel in London.
And in August, two weeks after Epstein's death, Mr Eliasch issued a statement defending Andrew to the New York Times, saying: 'Anybody who knows the Duke well knows that he is intensely loyal to his friends and sometimes that loyalty is not in his best interest, and that is what happened here.'
In its coverage, the U.S. newspaper duly described Mr Eliasch as a 'close friend' of the Prince.
Such close friends that, as we now know, they started a company together with the Prince calling himself Andrew Inverness, signing official documents with a false residential address, and claiming to be a professional consultant.
Just how much 'consulting' this fallen royal has done during his years on the public payroll is, of course, anyone's guess.
Army-Navy game: Cadets, Midshipman appear to use White Power symbol
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:10
Questions erupted during the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia when students appeared to make the White Power hand symbol during a pregame broadcast.
Spokespersons from the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy told USA TODAY Sports they have been made aware of the issue - which blossomed on social media as the game wore on - and the schools are looking into it.
A spokesperson for West Point said the academy was investigating and did ''not know the Cadets' intent.''
ESPN's Rece Davis was doing a standup segment at Lincoln Financial Field at the 120th meeting of the service academies when a Cadet held up a flag that said "Go Army Beat Navy" and began laughing.
Someone on the Midshipmen side who was out of the frame then appeared to make the one-handed symbol and did it until someone wearing a glove tapped them on the hand.
Then a gloved hand appeared in the frame on the Cadet side with the upside-down OK symbol, and finally a Cadet appeared to make the symbol next to Davis' head.
The gesture, though, is also used in the so-called Circle Game. In it, a person holds an upside-down OK sign below his or her waist. If someone notices, the person making the symbol is able to punch the person who notices it in the shoulder.
The Anti-Defamation League in September added the OK symbol as a gesture of hate.
In October, Universal Studios Resort fired an actor dressed as a "Despicable Me" character after the person was accused of using the symbol.
Hacks and Charlatans - Taki's Magazine - Taki's Magazine
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:05
photo credit: BigstockThe National Association of Scholars has published an important new report called ''Social Justice Education in America.'' It's ''a comprehensive examination of the inner workings of social justice advocates at more than 60 universities and how they have insinuated themselves into the university system to propagandize students.'' ''Administrators have transformed universities into training camps for progressive activism,'' the report states. What's more,
Most job postings for professors today demand conformity to the doctrine of social justice. Entire campus bureaucracies are built on social justice, contributing to the skyrocketing cost of tuition. Soon universities will be staffed entirely by people who teach activism and call it education.
The report gives a number of steps to take to reform academia, and it's to be hoped that they'll be implemented as soon as possible. For the influence of social justice warriors is not limited to our corrupt colleges and universities. Indeed, Antifa, that dangerous group, derives from them. Students of so-called social justice go on to become teachers and principals, journalists and editors, lawyers, judges, and politicians, and to take positions in high technology. If they could, they'd turn the U.S. into an intersectional nightmare, all in the name of ''progress.''
The most galling thing about academia is that it allows countless hacks and charlatans to live cushy lives on the public dime while producing work that is not only of no intellectual value, but contrary to the national interest. Such work often pretends to serve some moral purpose. Thus, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, in her latest involuntarily comic article, ''Making Black Women Scientists under White Empiricism: The Racialization of Epistemology in Physics,'' writes:
[W]hite empiricism undermines a significant theory of twentieth-century physics: General Relativity (Johnson 1983). Albert Einstein's monumental contribution to our empirical understanding of gravity is rooted in the principle of covariance, which is the simple idea that there is no single objective frame of reference that is more objective than any other (Sachs 1993). All frames of reference, all observers, are equally competent and capable of observing the universal laws that underlie the workings of our physical universe. Yet the number of women in physics remains low, especially those of African descent (Ong 2005; Hodari et al. 2011; Ong, Smith, and Ko 2018). The gender imbalance between Black women and Black men is less severe than in many professions, but the disparity remains (National Science Foundation 2018). Given that Black women must, according to Einstein's principle of covariance, have an equal claim to objectivity regardless of their simultaneously experiencing intersecting axes of oppression, we can dispense with any suggestion that the low number of Black women in science indicates any lack of validity on their part as observers.
What on earth is ''white empiricism,'' you ask? Sheer nonsense, of course. Since the vast majority of people who do work in physics are white, Prescod-Weinstein assumes this has some epistemic significance in the field, such that the empiricism itself is a white thing. She takes it for granted that black women are ''excluded'' from physics, but, as it happens, both Asians and Jews are overrepresented in physics (as they are in the rest of the hard sciences and in mathematics), and Prescod-Weinstein doesn't bother to explain how that could happen if physics is a discriminatory endeavor.
''The principle of covariance,'' it goes without saying, has nothing to do with the silly claim that ''All frames of reference, all observers, are equally competent and capable of observing the universal laws that underlie the workings of our physical universe.'' Nor does it entail that black women, or any other racial group, ''have an equal claim to objectivity.''
''Who is allowed to be an observer in physics, and who is fundamentally denied the possibility?'' asks Prescod-Weinstein in her preternatural stupidity. This, when lefty academe is going out of its way to hire palpably incompetent people simply because their identity checks a certain ''victim'' box or boxes. (Black, Jewish, and gay, Prescod-Weinstein herself is an example.)
''So degenerate is our time that these persons are held up as exemplars of moral awareness and sophistication.''
Black women are highly underrepresented in physics, relative to their proportion of the total U.S. population, but when it comes to the issue of underrepresented groups, instead of assuming, what is not self-evident, that such underrepresentation is necessarily an effect of discrimination, we should consider racial differences in intelligence, as well as the skills and behavior gaps between blacks and Hispanics on the one hand, and whites, Asians, and Jews on the other.
To be sure, these are sensitive issues, but they're no less empirical than physics itself, and instead of constantly whining about ''their oppression,'' blacks, Hispanics, women, and others who see themselves as victims need to try to perform better. Playing sports throughout my life, I've encountered many men who, rather than concede defeat, make excuses. It is so with the ''victim groups'' of academia. And yet, so degenerate is our time that these persons are held up as exemplars of moral awareness and sophistication. (What they deserve is the whip. A pity that the president is not the tyrant of their hysterical imaginings.)
Prescod-Weinstein has appointments in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of New Hampshire, Durham. She teaches in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. ''In 2016,'' according to Wikipedia,
she became the Principal Investigator on a $100,522 FQXI grant to study ''Epistemological Schemata of Astro | Physics: A Reconstruction of Observers'' seeking to answer questions regarding how to re-frame who is an ''observer,'' to acknowledge those existing outside of the European Enlightenment framework, and how that might change knowledge production in science.
Do people who can do real scholarship, or who have taste, do this stuff? Never.
The Wikipedia entry also contains the hilarious sentence: ''Prescod-Weinstein is a very active Twitter activist.'' How heroic! Prescod-Weinstein is ''agender.'' (Don't ask'--you don't want to know.) But though I've referred to the woman's stupidity, it's quite possible that what she really is is a charlatan, writings things she doesn't believe in order to advance her career. After all, Prescod-Weinstein is
an active member of the Society for the Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in the Sciences at the University of New Hampshire. She is also part of the committee for Sexual Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy at UNH.
What does any of this have to do with scholarship? Absolutely nothing. Still, such ''activism'' does a lot for an academic's career. Nor is intellectual integrity or shame much of an obstacle in a realm where fakeness and stilted cant are the norm.
We have, God knows, plenty of hacks and charlatans on the right. Representative here is Shay Khatiri, author of the article ''YAF [Young America Foundation] Fired Michelle Malkin. What About the Others?,'' published on Dec. 3 at Arc Digital. A young graduate student of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, Khatiri is evidently too badly educated to realize that his notion of conservatism is yesterday's leftism. In this respect he is like the editor of Arc Digital, the smug ignoramus Berny Belvedere. Having assumed YAF was right to fire Michelle Malkin, Khatari provides a long list of more ''bad people'' whom ''respectable conservatives'' should denounce, or anyway, not associate with. The article offers very little in the way of substantive support. Khatari simply lists'--and frequently misrepresents'--people's positions on certain subjects, and describes their behaviors and activities, including rather trivial things such as hashtags they've retweeted. In his dull self-righteousness, Khatari seems to think that this extremely lazy method suffices to make his case. It doesn't even come close. Time and time again, Khatari simply begs the question. But for all that, this little jerk yet wants to deplatform others and harm their ability to get a living. The best thing for Khatari, I submit, would be a punch in the mouth, and I'd be happy to oblige. (Indeed, it's a problem that so few intellectuals have been punched in the mouth.)
Most of the pieces at Arc Digital that are not written by Ben Sixsmith or Oliver Traldi are awful. The webzine'--which seems to exist thanks to the neocon crumbs not gobbled up by National Review, First Things, Modern Age, and the phony like'--is so bad that it ought to pay people to read it. For instance, in ''Cruelty as a Disease Vector,'' Daniel Summers waxes moralistic because the Trump administration is not providing free flu shots to the illegal immigrants in U.S. holding centers. This Summers considers to be cruel, a judgment I find wildly excessive. It's not obvious, at any rate, that even U.S. citizens are entitled to free flu shots, and in the case of illegal immigrants, Summers' premise'--that illegal immigrants are entitled to flu shots'--is even more questionable. If a man were to break into your home, would you assume he's entitled to a cup of coffee or God-knows-what? Summers calls himself a ''mouthy pediatrician'' and a ''strident homosexual.'' That's supposed to be funny, or cool, I suppose. Being a pediatrician, Summers may wish to use his medical contacts to get a brain transplant. Or else, recalling the first rule of the Hippocratic oath (do no harm), he might do the world the mercy of not publishing his half-assed two cents.
Other Arc Digital hacks include Cathy Young'--who is ever on the hunt for ''racism'' and especially, since she's Jewish, ''anti-Semitism'''--and Joshua Tait, a young academic who seems ambitious to distinguish himself as a politically correct historian for Conservatism, Inc. Tait writes lots of pieces in which he takes to task Russell Kirk and other past conservatives for not having the right views on race. Tait's characteristic intellectual incompetence is on display in ''American Immigrant,'' an article on Amy Wax's case for cultural distance nationalism. In keeping with his usual shallowness and laziness, Tait doesn't address Wax's argument on the merits. Rather, he likens it to past U.S. policies that restricted the numbers of immigrants of certain races and ethnicities. The trouble with this approach is that Tait's argument by analogy hardly shows that Wax's argument ''effectively mainstreams the views of racists like John Derbyshire and Jared Taylor.'' Nor do his historical details comprehend the complexity of her position. Like other politically correct conservatives, Tait is an advocate for creedal nationalism, but insofar as he doesn't substantively engage Wax, he fails to show (and indeed, couldn't possibly show) that his position is superior to hers.
Like much of what Arc Digital publishes, Tait's is so much question-begging against the object of his critique, and the fact that he thinks he's making some moral point only shows what a conceited dullard he is. Before he completes his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina, Tait would do well to understand that the world is full of people who don't share his premises, and that, if he wants to be taken seriously outside of lefty academia and Conservatism, Inc., he needs to justify his disagreements and criticisms. It's particularly important to do that in regard to a formidable mind like Amy Wax, compared to whom the middling Tait is quite out of his depth.
Like Quillette, Arc Digital pretends to fill a certain crucial need: providing diverse perspectives in an increasingly partisan media climate. Although it publishes a lot of progressive pablum, the webzine purports to be ''omnidirectional.'' But again, Belvedere and the rest seem not to understand that what they take to be conservative is fundamentally liberal or progressive to anyone who knows the history of conservative thought (the cognitively deficient Tait excepted). So much, then, for their diverse perspectives.
Alas for all the hacks and charlatans of our time, some of us see right through you!
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Annual Report - National Association of Scholars
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:04
Download PDF
2018 was a year of wrath: Campus protesters and college administrators continued their efforts to silence academics and reinforce the intellectual and ideological homogeneity of higher education. Public confidence in our scholarly elites is at an all-time low.
Yet the National Association of Scholars has had a remarkably successful year. Following our ongoing study and reporting about Chinese-backed Confucius Institutes, several senators introduced, and the President signed, legislation preventing colleges that host Confucius Institutes from receiving Defense Department funding. We remain vigilant for efforts to circumvent this regulation, but it seems the public is waking up to the threat of Chinese influence on American campuses'--all thanks to our own Rachelle Peterson's tireless research and advocacy.
In April we published The Irreproducibility Crisis, a report on the modern scientific crisis of reproducibility'--the failure of a shocking amount of scientific research to discover true results because of slipshod use of statistics, groupthink, and flawed research techniques. We launched the report at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC; it was introduced by Representative Lamar Smith, the Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. This project signals our increasing commitment to address the academy's flawed science as well as its abandonment of Western civilization and the liberal arts. We are following up The Irreproducibility Crisis with the investigation of four government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency. We are determined to find out just how badly irreproducible science has distorted government policy.
We were pleased to host a wonderful group of speakers at our August conference at Grove City College on Government Overreach in Higher Education. They discussed how government mandates constrict student freedom and increase costs. They also presented ideas for practical measures to fix higher education. We are excited to see where these new tactics take our members.
In October we published our latest Beach Books report on college common readings. This year we published eleven years of data, from 2007 to the present. We've looked at 5,000 common reading assignments, which are overwhelmingly biased toward mediocre books that steer students toward progressive activism. But we also found a few colleges that do assign better books. We have highlighted them as models for common reading.
These are just a few of NAS's accomplishments from the past year. Support from our members and our foundation donors made them possible; we thank you for standing with us. We still have much work to do, but we are confident that with your help 2019 will be a signal year for the American academy's recovery of intellectual freedom and rigor.
Peter W. Wood
2018 Financial Statement
2018 990
The Next Nuclear Plants Will Be Small, Svelte, and Safer | WIRED
Sun, 15 Dec 2019 05:46
For the last 20 years, the future of nuclear power has stood in a high bay laboratory tucked away on the Oregon State University campus in the western part of the state. Operated by NuScale Power, an Oregon-based energy startup, this prototype reactor represents a new chapter in the conflict-ridden, politically bedeviled saga of nuclear power plants.
NuScale's reactor won't need massive cooling towers or sprawling emergency zones. It can be built in a factory and shipped to any location, no matter how remote. Extensive simulations suggest it can handle almost any emergency without a meltdown. One reason is that it barely uses any nuclear fuel, at least compared with existing reactors. It's also a fraction of the size of its predecessors.
This is good news for a planet in the grips of a climate crisis. Nuclear energy gets a bad rap in some environmentalist circles, but many energy experts and policymakers agree that splitting atoms is going to be an indispensable part of decarbonizing the world's electricity. In the US, nuclear power accounts for about two-thirds of all clean electricity, but the existing reactors are rapidly approaching the end of their regulatory lifetimes. Only two new reactors are under construction in the US, but they're billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
Enter the small modular reactor, designed to allow several reactors to be combined into one unit. Need a modest amount of energy? Install just a few modules. Want to fuel a sprawling city? Tack on several more. Coming up with a suitable power plant for a wide range of situations becomes that much easier. Because they are small, these reactors can be mass-produced and shipped to any location in a handful of pieces. Perhaps most importantly, small modular reactors can take advantage of several cooling and safety mechanisms unavailable to their big brothers, which all but guarantees they won't become the next Chernobyl.
NuScale uses a light water reactor'--by far the most common type of reactor in commercial nuclear power plants'--but that's about where the similarities end. NuScale's reactor is 65 feet tall and 9 feet in diameter, and is housed in a containment vessel only slightly larger. About the size of two school buses stacked end to end, you could fit around 100 of them in the containment chamber of a large conventional reactor. Yet this small reactor can crank out 60 megawatts of energy, which is about one-tenth the smallest operational reactor in the US today.
Going small has big benefits, says Jose Reyes, NuScale's cofounder and chief technical officer. They're safer, in part because they are small enough to sit in underground pools of water. If a reactor leaks, the heat can slowly diffuse into the pool. That also means the reactors could be built closer to the places where their power is needed, without the 10-mile safety buffer a conventional plant must have.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been reviewing NuScale's design since 2016; if the commission gives its blessing, the company can finally start building the first commercial reactor of its kind. The review process is brutal'--NuScale submitted a 12,000 page technical application'--and will likely stretch on for at least another year. But the company has already secured permission to build its first 12-reactor plant at the Idaho National Laboratory, which may start supplying power to communities in Western states as soon as 2026.
Small modular reactors may be the first tiny nuclear plants to make it on the US grid, but they won't be the last. The Department of Energy is also interested in microreactors, a ''plug and play'' nuclear plant that usually generates less than 50 megawatts of power. Whereas small modular reactors are better suited to industrial processes and other large power loads, microreactors are ideal for smaller needs like powering a remote military base or keeping the lights on in an isolated Alaskan community. But in the future they could also serve as an ''always on'' source of carbon-free energy in cities.
Microreactors have attracted interest from new and established nuclear energy companies alike. Earlier this month, a secretive nuclear startup called Oklo unveiled Aurora, its 1.5-megawatt microreactor, and announced it had received a permit from the Department of Energy to build its first one at the Idaho National Lab. Aurora looks more like an A-frame cabin you might find in the Alps than a nuclear reactor, but this, according to Oklo founder and CEO Jacob DeWitte, is exactly the point. He envisions a future where microreactors fit seamlessly into the urban landscape.
Courtesy of OkloOklo faces significant hurdles on its road to regulatory approval, though. For one thing, Aurora is a liquid metal-cooled fast reactor, a design that has been used almost exclusively on submarines. ''Frankly, the regulatory paradigm is built for large reactors,'' DeWitte says.
While the Nuclear Regulatory Commission works to figure out how small reactors fit in the existing nuclear regulations, other energy policy makers are hyping the technology at every opportunity. Earlier this year, leaders from the US and Europe met for the first high-level international discussions about small modular reactors, and provincial governments in Canada recently met to promote small reactors. And when Rick Perry stepped down as the US Secretary of Energy this month, he gave small modular reactors a special shout-out in his farewell video.
In the US, the push for small reactors has prompted some changes to the regulatory environment to help companies get a first small reactor online at a federal facility by 2027. But small reactors will still need to prove they can be cost-competitive, says Steve Fetter, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland. With the price of renewables like wind and solar rapidly falling and ample natural gas available, smaller, svelter reactors may never find their niche. Especially if a prime motivator is climate change, whose pace is exceeding that of regulatory approvals.
''I am skeptical of the ability to license advanced nuclear reactors and deploy them on a scale that would make a difference for climate change,'' adds Fetter. ''But I think it's worth exploring because they're a centralized form of carbon-free electricity and we don't have a lot of those available.'' At least in the US, it might be the only way nuclear power gets another chance.
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Opinion | Impeach Trump. Save America. - The New York Times
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 23:02
It is the only thing to do if our country's democracy is to survive.
Dec. 10, 2019President Trump spoke to reporters before boarding Marine One last month. Credit... Pete Marovich for The New York Times Impeaching a president is the most consequential thing our Congress can do '-- other than declaring war. So, after great consideration, I say: President Trump not only should be impeached, he must be impeached if America's democracy is to remain intact.
Why? Because the facts here are not in doubt '-- indeed Trump's allies in the media and Congress have largely given up disputing them: Trump held up congressionally directed taxpayer funding to strengthen Ukraine's military against Russia until the new Ukrainian president agreed to do what Trump called a ''favor'' '-- announce that Ukraine was investigating Trump's most likely opponent in the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden, and his son, who was involved with a Ukrainian gas company. Trump apparently thought that just the announcement of such an investigation would kill Biden's campaign in its crib.
Generally speaking, I believe presidents should be elected and removed by the voters at the polls. But when I hear Trump defenders scream, ''Impeachment subverts the will of the people,'' I say: ''Really? What the hell do you think Trump was doing in Ukraine?'' He was subverting the will of the people by scheming to use our tax dollars to knock out his most feared opponent in the coming election '-- rather than trusting voters to do that.
The only reason the plot was aborted was that a whistle-blower from the intelligence community drew attention to the president's plan, forcing him to release the money to Ukraine '-- moments before his shakedown exploded into public view. Trump was like a bank robber with a gun to a teller's head, who suddenly heard the police sirens approaching and ran off before he could stash the money in his bag.
So while the founders wanted to reserve removal of a president for elections by the people, they understood that there could be situations when removing a president might be necessary to protect and preserve our very framework for holding free and fair elections. That framework is the Constitution and the rule of law '-- and this is one of those situations.
If we say, as Republicans do, that what Trump did is not an impeachable offense, we are telling ourselves and every future president that '-- in direct contradiction of what the founders wrote in the Constitution '-- it is O.K. to enlist a foreign power to tilt the election your way. Can you imagine how much money candidates could raise from Saudi Arabia or China to tilt a future election their way, or how many cyberwarriors they could enlist from Russia or Iran to create fake news, suppress voting or spur outrage?
The integrity of our elections would be shattered, and we would never again have a legitimate president '-- a president, who, whether or not you liked him or her, was at least seen as legitimately elected. That would be a prescription for permanent political chaos, as no future presidents' authority would be respected if they were elected on the basis of foreign interference.
But that is what Republicans are courting by blindly defending Trump's indefensible enlistment of Ukraine's help to take down Biden and by echoing Trump's conspiracy theory '-- originated by Russian agents '-- that it was Ukraine that hacked the Democratic National Committee's emails in 2016, not Russia. They also argue that the D.N.C.'s server was shipped off to Ukraine before the F.B.I. could look at it.
This is right out of ''The Twilight Zone.''
Folks, can you imagine what Russia's President Putin is saying to himself today? ''I can't believe my luck! I not only got Trump to parrot my conspiracy theories, I got his whole party to do it! And for free! Who ever thought Americans would so easily sell out their own Constitution for one man? My God, I have Russian lawmakers in my own Parliament who'd quit before doing that. But it proves my point: America is no different from Russia, so spare me the lectures.''
If Congress were to do what Republicans demand '-- forgo impeaching this president for enlisting a foreign power to get him elected, after he refused to hand over any of the documents that Congress had requested and blocked all of his key aides who knew what happened from testifying '-- we would be saying that a president is henceforth above the law.
We would be saying that we no longer have three coequal branches of government. We would be saying that we no longer have a separation of powers.
We would be saying that our president is now a king.
If we do that, the America you studied in history class, the America you grew up knowing and loving, and the America that the rest of the world has so long admired as a beacon of democracy and justice will be no more. Oh, how we will miss it when it's gone.
At a time when virtually every Republican lawmaker and Fox News have chosen to prostitute themselves for Trump, I do see one glimmer of hope hiding in plain sight.
As The Times reported last Saturday, incumbent presidents almost always benefit from a strong economy, and right now job growth is robust and average hourly earnings are up '-- but Trump's poll numbers are not: ''Instead of enjoying anything close to overwhelming popularity because of the economy, Mr. Trump's national approval rating has remained low, dropping about two percentage points to 41 percent since the Ukraine story broke.''
''Stock Markets Up Record Numbers,'' Trump tweeted on Friday, adding, ''It's the economy, stupid.''
Yes, it's the economy, stupid '-- when you have a president who is not violating his oath to preserve and protect the Constitution. But if you read today's poll numbers alongside the economy numbers, it turns out that more than a few Americans are saying, ''It's the Constitution, stupid '-- and unlike you, Mr. Trump, we value some things more than money.''
We care about having a president who does not lie 20 times a day. We care about having a president who does not demean his opponents and mock their physical appearance. We care about having a president who does not take the word of Russia's president over that of his own intelligence services. We care about having a president who is not caught up in conspiracy theories, which he then makes everyone around him chase. We care about having a president who values our nonpartisan public servants. We care about having a president who wants to be the president of the whole country, not just his base.
And most of all, we care about having a president who takes seriously his oath to preserve and protect our Constitution. Without that, we will end up one day morally and financially bankrupt. How many Americans will still feel that way on Election Day remains to be seen and will also depend on the Democrats' alternative. But for now, it's good to know that it's a significant number '-- that despite three years of Donald Trump's presidency, the country still has a civic pulse.
Cory Booker Leads the Charge to Change Debate Rules That Excluded Him - The New York Times
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 22:06
Politics | Cory Booker Leads the Charge to Change Debate Rules That Excluded Him Nine presidential candidates have signed a letter urging the D.N.C. to adjust its qualification criteria for January and February.
Senator Cory Booker did not make the cut for next week's debate, but said he would not ''argue with the refs'' about the December event. Credit... Daniel Acker for The New York Times Dec. 14, 2019, 4:57 p.m. ET WASHINGTON '-- At the urging of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, eight Democratic presidential candidates, and Mr. Booker, have signed a letter urging Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, to lower the thresholds to qualify for the party's January and February debates.
The letter, written and circulated by the Booker campaign, was sent to Mr. Perez and his top deputies Saturday afternoon. It comes amid angst that Thursday's debate in Los Angeles will include just one candidate of color '-- the businessman Andrew Yang '-- among the seven qualifying participants.
Mr. Booker did not qualify for next week's debate and is unlikely to meet the criteria for the debates in January and February unless thresholds are lowered or he sees a significant improvement in his polling numbers.
The nine candidates '-- former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., the businessman Tom Steyer, the former Housing secretary Julin Castro, Mr. Yang and Mr. Booker '-- asked Mr. Perez to use either a polling or fund-raising threshold, but not both.
Such a rule would vastly expand the roster, to most likely include not just Mr. Booker and Mr. Castro, but also former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and others who have not made the stage in months, and would almost certainly lead to two nights of debating.
''Candidates who have proven both their viability and their commitment to the Democratic Party are being prematurely cut out of the nominating contest before many voters have even tuned in '-- much less made their decision about whom to support,'' reads the letter.
The signatories said they ''encourage the D.N.C. to consider for the January and February debates returning to the previous criteria that allowed candidates to qualify to participate either via meeting a minimum polling threshold or meeting a number of grass roots donors to demonstrate broad-based support.''
Allies of Mr. Booker and Mr. Castro have argued that self-funding billionaires like Mr. Steyer and Mr. Bloomberg can game the thresholds by spending millions on television advertising and, in Mr. Steyer's case, to acquire lists of donors. Mr. Bloomberg has said he will not accept campaign contributions.
The D.N.C. spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa called the committee's debate criteria fair, and noted that no campaign objected when the thresholds were announced earlier this year. No television network has agreed to host two nights of debates in January or February, she said.
''The D.N.C. will not change the threshold for any one candidate and will not revert to two consecutive nights with more than a dozen candidates,'' Ms. Hinojosa said. ''Our qualification criteria is extremely low and reflects where we are in the race.''
Mr. Booker failed to qualify for Thursday's debate after failing to reach 4 percent support in any qualifying poll; four such polls were required. He said Wednesday that he would not ''argue with the refs'' about debate rules. Mr. Castro also has refrained from attacking Mr. Perez over debate rules.
It is not clear how robustly the other campaigns believe debate thresholds should be lowered. Some campaign staffers said privately Saturday that they felt obligated to sign the Booker letter or risk appearing racist, or unsupportive of an effort to be inclusive of candidates of color. Many have complained privately for months about the number of candidates on the debate stage, a gripe Mr. Biden has regularly made in public. In June and July, 20 candidates qualified for the debates, resulting in back-to-back nights with 10 candidates in each.
''Look, I think everybody knows these aren't debates,'' Mr. Biden told reporters during a September stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. ''These are one-minute assertions.''
Mr. Perez, in an interview Wednesday, said next week's debate field became only less diverse when Senator Kamala Harris of California, who had qualified, ended her campaign last week. No candidate, he said, has won the nomination without having at least 4 percent support by December.
''As we get closer and closer, you need to demonstrate that you are making progress,'' Mr. Perez said. ''That is a time-honored practice, and it's a good practice because you do have to demonstrate that you're making progress.''
Lisa Lerer contributed reporting.
Opinion | Impeach Donald Trump - The New York Times
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 21:30
In the end, the story told by the two articles of impeachment approved on Friday morning by the House Judiciary Committee is short, simple and damning: President Donald Trump abused the power of his office by strong-arming Ukraine, a vulnerable ally, holding up hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid until it agreed to help him influence the 2020 election by digging up dirt on a political rival.
When caught in the act, he rejected the very idea that a president could be required by Congress to explain and justify his actions, showing ''unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance'' in the face of multiple subpoenas. He made it impossible for Congress to carry out fully its constitutionally mandated oversight role, and, in doing so, he violated the separation of powers, a safeguard of the American republic.
To quote from the articles, ''President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.''
The case now moves to the full House of Representatives, which on Wednesday will decide, for just the third time in the nation's history, whether to impeach a president.
To resist the pull of partisanship, Republicans and Democrats alike ought to ask themselves the same question: Would they put up with a Democratic president using the power of the White House this way? Then they should consider the facts, the architecture and aspirations of the Constitution and the call of history. In that light, there can be only one responsible judgment: to cast a vote to impeach, to send a message not only to this president but to future ones.
By stonewalling as no previous president has, Donald Trump has left Congress with no choice but to press ahead to a Senate trial. The president insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing, yet he refuses to release any administration documents or allow any administration officials to testify '-- though, if his assertions are in fact true, those officials would presumably exonerate him. He refused to present any defense before the House whatsoever, asserting a form of monarchical immunity that Congress cannot let stand.
It's regrettable that the House moved as fast as it did, without working further through the courts and through other means to hear from numerous crucial witnesses. But Democratic leaders have a point when they say they can't afford to wait, given the looming electoral deadline and Mr. Trump's pattern of soliciting foreign assistance for his campaigns. Even after his effort to extract help from Ukraine was revealed, the president publicly called on China to investigate his rival. Asked as recently as October what he hoped the Ukrainians would do in response to his infamous July 25 call with their president, Mr. Trump declared: ''Well, I would think that, if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens. It's a very simple answer.''
Barring the persuasive defense that Mr. Trump has so far declined even to attempt, that simple answer sounds like a textbook example of an impeachable offense, as the nation's framers envisioned it.
A president ''might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression,'' James Madison said of the need for an impeachment clause. ''He might betray his trust to foreign powers.''
Madison and his fellow framers understood that elections '-- which, under normal circumstances, are the essence of democratic self-government '-- could not serve their purpose if a president was determined to cheat to win.
As the constitutional scholar Noah Feldman testified before the Judiciary Committee last week, ''Without impeachment, the president would have been an elected monarch. With impeachment, the president was bound to the rule of law.''
At the same time, the framers were well aware of the dangers inherent in impeachment. That's why they made it a two-step process: First is the House's vote on impeachment, which is akin to an indictment and requires only a majority to pass. Second is a trial in the Senate, which decides the president's ultimate fate, and thus has a much higher bar to clear '-- two-thirds of senators must vote to convict and remove the president from office.
So far, Republicans legislators have shown little sign of treating this constitutional process with the seriousness it demands.
Instead, they have been working overtime to abet the president's wrongdoing. They have spread toxic misinformation and conspiracy theories to try to justify his actions and raged about the unfairness of the inquiry, complaining that Democrats have been trying to impeach Mr. Trump since he took office.
No doubt some Democrats were too eager to resort to impeachment before it became unavoidable. Mr. Trump has been committing arguably impeachable offenses since the moment he entered the Oval Office, including his acceptance of foreign money at his many businesses; his violations of campaign-finance law in paying hush money to a woman who claimed to have had a sexual affair with him; and, of course, his obstructions of justice in the Russia investigation, which were documented extensively by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.
Democrats could have pursued impeachment in any or all of these cases, but for various reasons decided not to. That changed in September, when a whistle-blower's complaint, initially suppressed by the Justice Department, revealed the outline of Mr. Trump's Ukraine scheme. That made it impossible to ignore the president's lawlessness because it sounded an alarm that he was seeking to subvert the next election, depriving the voters of their right to check his behavior.
The Republicans' most common defenses of Mr. Trump's behavior fall flat in the face of the evidence.
There is, above all, the summary of the July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president. Mr. Trump still insists that summary exonerates him. It doesn't '-- which is why White House officials promptly locked it in a special computer system.
Then there is the sworn testimony of multiple government officials, including several appointed by Mr. Trump himself, all of whom confirmed the essential story line: For all the recent claims about his piety regarding Ukrainian corruption, Mr. Trump did not ''give a shit about Ukraine.'' He only wanted the ''deliverable'' '-- the announcement of an investigation into the Bidens, and also into a debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
The argument that Mr. Trump cared about anything other than hurting Joe Biden and helping himself is undercut by several facts. Even though calling on the Ukrainians to fight corruption was part of his prepared talking points, he never mentioned the subject in his calls with Mr. Zelensky; he also didn't hold up the military aid in 2017 or 2018, even though everyone knew about Hunter Biden's Ukraine connection at the time. (What changed this year? Joe Biden emerged as his leading Democratic opponent.) By the time Mr. Trump intervened to block the money for Ukraine, the Defense Department had already certified that Ukraine had made enough progress fighting corruption to qualify for this year's funds.
Without any substantive defense of Mr. Trump's behavior, several Republicans have taken to arguing that he committed no actual crime, and so can't be impeached for ''high crimes and misdemeanors.'' Putting aside a strong case that Mr. Trump has, in fact, broken at least one law, this isn't how impeachment works. ''High crimes'' refers to severe violations of the public trust by a high-ranking official, not literal crimes. A president can commit a technical crime that doesn't violate the public trust (say, jaywalking), and he can commit an impeachable offense that is found nowhere in the federal criminal code (like abuse of power).
Republicans' sole remaining argument is: ''So what? It wasn't that big a deal.'' Or, as acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney said in October, ''Get over it.'' This stance at least has the virtue of acknowledging the president's vice, but that doesn't make it O.K.
Assuming Mr. Trump is impeached, the case will go to the Senate, where he will have the chance '-- on far more friendly territory '-- to mount the defense he refused to make to the House. Rather than withholding key witnesses, he should be demanding sworn appearances by people like Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and John Bolton, the former national security adviser.
As recently as a few weeks ago, some Republicans seemed to want to get to the bottom of things. Even Trump's footman, Senator Lindsey Graham, said, ''If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.''
The time for such expressions of public spirit has, apparently, passed. ''I've written the whole process off,'' Mr. Graham said during the impeachment hearings. ''I think this is a bunch of B.S.''
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, says there will be ''no difference between the president's position and our position in how to handle this,'' as he told Sean Hannity of Fox last Thursday. Before the House had cast a single vote on impeachment, Mr. McConnell said there was ''no chance'' the Senate would vote to convict.
For now, that leaves the defense of the Constitution, and the Republic, to the House of Representatives.
The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We'd like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here's our email: letters@nytimes.com.
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Jeffrey Epstein allegedly kept 6-foot nude portrait of Ghislaine Maxwell
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 11:16
December 12, 2019 | 8:14am | Updated December 12, 2019 | 9:30am
Jeffrey Epstein had a huge portrait of accused madam Ghislaine Maxwell completely naked with her legs wide open in a party room in his New Mexico ranch, a former employee claimed Thursday.
The graphic painting of the British media heiress was a centerpiece in the poolroom of the ''Zorro Ranch,'' where Maxwell was an almost constant presence and even had an office, the staffer told The Sun.
The late pedophile '-- who famously had a bizarre painting of Bill Clinton in a blue dress '-- also filled the ranch with photos of his famous pals, including Clinton, Prince Andrew and even John Travolta, his former IT worker told the paper.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell Patrick McMullan via Getty Image''There was this huge painting of Ghislaine naked with her legs open, 6 foot by 6 foot,'' the unidentified worker, who said he worked for Epstein for more than 10 years, told The Sun. ''She was on a chair, leaning back, with her legs open. You could see everything. She would definitely have posed for that.''
He said Maxwell '-- long accused of being Epstein's madam '-- had an upstairs office and ''spent more time at the ranch than he did.''
''I'd see what was on her computers, modeling pictures of girls and that kind of thing,'' he insisted, saying some looked like professionals.
The staffer, who said he worked on Epstein's ''internet, security and communications,'' said there were ''pictures everywhere'' at the ranch.
''John Travolta, Bill Clinton, and there were a bunch of photos of Prince Andrew in the house, mostly in the common areas,'' he said. ''He liked to brag about the people he knew.''
He said one room in the home was ''sex-obsessed,'' with everything showing ''nude women, couples having sex or fertility statues.''
The ex-employee said the raunchy photos came down in 2005, when Epstein learned he was under investigation for allegedly trafficking young girls for sex.
Another source told the paper that some staff '-- who are reportedly still being paid by the dead man's estate '-- refuse to believe the well-connected pedophile is dead.
''Some employees think he's still alive,'' the source insisted. ''It might be stupidity or Stockholm Syndrome or, like a real-life Bond villain, who could break out of federal jail and fake his own death.''
Maxwell has denied any wrongdoing. Her reps did not respond to The Sun's requests for comment.
LA high schools to open sexual and mental health clinics...
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:29
Dozens of Los Angeles high schools will soon host clinics providing sexual and mental health services for teenagers as part of a wellness program that officials say is a groundbreaking model of comprehensive on-campus care.
The school-based clinics announced this week are a collaboration between Planned Parenthood and county public and mental health officials, and will ultimately be available to roughly 75,000 teens at 50 schools. They will offer birth control, emergency contraception like Plan B, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy testing and counseling, and a range of mental health and substance abuse resources.
The reproductive health services extend beyond what public school nurses have traditionally offered, and because California law permits teens older than 12 to receive birth control and related treatment without parental consent, the care is confidential. The centers do not offer abortions.
The ''wellbeing centers'' will also be staffed by two health educators with master's degrees in public health, who will facilitate classes and groups on substance use prevention, behavioral health and sexual health. The county's mental health department will run support groups on stress, anxiety and depression.
Dr Ron Tanimura, director of student medical services at the Los Angeles unified school district (LAUSD), said he expected the centers would help reduce STD and STI rates, which have been increasing in recent years in the region.
''When we are looking at the rise of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis rates, we want to make sure we are approaching this as a public health issue,'' said Tanimura. ''Now we have an avenue for kids to seek services right there. They don't have to miss school.''
The program is launching at a time when the White House and conservative groups have aggressively targeted Planned Parenthood. Earlier this year, the organization withdrew from a federal family program that provides health services and birth control after the Trump administration passed a new rule banning referrals to doctors who perform abortions.
Under Trump, the health and human services department has also promoted sexual education that emphasizes abstinence despite overwhelming evidence that this kind of curriculum does not change teen sexual behavior or prevent pregnancy. California prohibits abstinence-only education and requires more comprehensive programs. Last year, legislators also passed a new law mandating that public colleges provide abortion medication.
The involvement of Planned Parenthood in LA schools has already sparked some backlash from conservative groups and rightwing media, though officials have emphasized that the organization and the reproductive health services are just one component of the larger wellness initiative. Planned Parenthood is currently operating in five of the sites, but it plans to expand to other schools.
''Young people trust Planned Parenthood with those services,'' said Ellen Sanchez, a consultant with the public health department. ''They know they will get honest and accurate information and their confidentiality will be protected.''
Kanchi Tate, a program manager with the LA department of mental health, said it was critical that students have access to a private setting to ask questions about sexual or mental healthcare: ''You may have a student suffering for a long time or they may know something is not right, but they don't know where to go '... If it's on campus, it's part of the conversation and it becomes normal.''
Roughly one in four students report feeling depressed, said Dr Barbara Ferrer, LA county director of public health: ''We have a lot of evidence about the high levels of trauma that students have experienced '... This combines the best we know about the kind of services that young people are asking for and are in need of.''
Ferrer said the county could not shy away from reproductive health services even if it inspired controversy: ''We're not going to ignore a whole set of needs that young people have. We have a lot of students that are sexually active. We can't put our heads in the sand.''
Dr Brian Nguyen, a University of Southern California assistant professor of OB/GYN, who is not affiliated with the program, said he expected the services could help reduce rising STI rates in the region.
''When you bring the services to people, they'll use it,'' he said, noting that women tend to take care of their sexual health more than men. He hoped this would fix that disparity in schools: ''It ensures that a wider audience that would ordinarily not engage in sexual reproductive health would have access.''
50 Cent and Russell Simmons bash Oprah over #MeToo documentary...
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:28
December 13, 2019 | 3:33pm | Updated December 13, 2019 | 3:34pm
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey's forthcoming #MeToo documentary is already sparking controversy.
Hip-hop artist 50 Cent took to Instagram on Thursday, writing, ''I don't understand why Oprah is going after black men,'' along with a photo of Winfrey and Russell Simmons '-- the latter of whom was accused of sexual misconduct in 2017. Simmons, a 62-year-old music mogul, has denied the allegations.
''No Harvey Weinstein, No Epstein, just Micheal [sic] jackson and Russell Simmons this s'‰-'‰-'‰t is sad,'' writes 50 Cent.
Winfrey and Impact Partners have joined forces with filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering for a documentary, set to air on Apple TV+ in 2020, about sexual assault in the music industry. It features Drew Dixon, one of several women to allege Simmons hurt her.
In a separate Instagram post, also uploaded Thursday, 50 Cent shared a composite image of six men: Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Kevin Spacey and President Donald Trump. The first two men have the word ''JAIL'' written under their faces, while ''WALK'' is placed under the others, all of whom are white.
''You think Oprah don't notice how this s'‰-'‰-'‰t is playing out?'' 50 Cent writes.
Simmons also took to Instagram to share his own thoughts.
''Dearest OPRAH, you have been a shining light to my family and my community,'' he begins the lengthy post, which he shared Friday morning. ''It's so troubling that you choose to single me out in your recent documentry [sic]. I have already admitted to being a playboy (more appropriately titled today 'womanizer') sleeping with and putting myself in more compromising situations than almost any man I know '... So many that some could reinterpret or reimagine a different recollection of the same experiences.''
He adds that he's passed ''nine 3-hour lie-detector tests,'' and the ''stories are UNUSABLE.''
''I am guilty of exploiting, supporting and making the soundtrack for a grossly unequal society, but I have never been violent or forced myself on anyone,'' he writes. ''Still I am here to help support a necessary shift in power and consciousness.''
A rep for Oprah didn't immediately respond to The Post's request seeking comment.
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:26
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear President Donald Trump's pleas to keep his tax, bank and financial records private, a major confrontation between the president and Congress that also could affect the 2020 presidential campaign.
Arguments will take place in late March, and the justices are poised to issue decisions in June as Trump is campaigning for a second term. Rulings against the president could result in the quick release of personal financial information that Trump has sought strenuously to keep private. The court also will decide whether the Manhattan district attorney can obtain eight years of Trump's tax returns as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
The subpoenas are separate from the ongoing impeachment proceedings against Trump, headed for a vote in the full House next week. Indeed, it's almost certain the court won't hear the cases until after a Senate trial over whether to remove Trump has ended.
Trump sued to prevent banks and accounting firms from complying with subpoenas for his records from three committees of the House of Representatives and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
In three separate cases, he has so far lost at every step, but the records have not been turned over pending a final court ruling. Now it will be up to a court that includes two Trump appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, to decide in a case with significant implications reagrding a president's power to refuse a formal request from Congress.
In two earlier cases over presidential power, the justices acted unanimously in requiring President Richard Nixon to turn over White House tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor and in allowing a sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton to go forward. In those cases, three Nixon appointees and two Clinton appointees, respectively, voted against the president who chose them for the high court. A fourth Nixon appointee, William Rehnquist, sat out the tapes case because he had worked closely as a Justice Department official with some of the Watergate conspirators whose upcoming trial spurred the subpoena for the Oval Office recordings.
In none of the cases are the subpoenas directed at Trump himself. Instead, House committees want records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, as well as the Mazars USA accounting firm. Mazars also is the recipient of Vance's subpoena.
In each case, Vance and House Democrats have argued there is no compelling legal issue at stake, since they are seeking records from third parties, not Trump himself.
But Trump said in his appeals that the cases are the first time congressional and local criminal investigators have tried to pry free a president's records to investigate wrongdoing. ''This is a case of firsts,'' Trump's lawyers told the justices about congressional demands for Trump's financial records from Mazars.
The Vance case represents the first time in American history that a ''state or local prosecutor has launched a criminal investigation of the President,'' the lawyers wrote.
Appellate courts in Washington, D.C., and New York brushed aside the Trump arguments in decisions that focused on the subpoenas being addressed to third parties and asking for records of Trump's business and financial dealings as a private citizen, not as president.
Two congressional committees subpoenaed the bank documents as part their investigations into Trump and his businesses. Deutsche Bank has been one for the few banks willing to lend to Trump after a series of corporate bankruptcies and defaults starting in the early 1990s.
Vance and the House Oversight and Reform Committee sought records from Mazars concerning Trump and his businesses based on payments that Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged to keep two women from airing their claims of affairs with Trump during the presidential race.
Someone interfered in the UK election, and it wasn't Russia
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:24
Ladies and gentlemen I have here at my fingertips indisputable proof that egregious election meddling took place in the United Kingdom on Thursday.
Before you get all excited, no, it wasn't the Russians. It wasn't the Chinese, the Iranians, Cobra Command or the Legion of Doom. I'm not going to get any Rachel Maddow-sized paychecks for revealing this evidence to you, nor am I going to draw in millions of credulous viewers waiting with bated breath for a bombshell revelation of an international conspiracy that will invalidate the results of the election.
In fact, hardly anyone will even care.
Hardly anyone will care because this election interference has been happening right out in the open, and was perfectly legal. And nobody will suffer any consequences for it.
Nobody will suffer any consequences for interfering in the UK election
because the ones doing the interfering were extremely powerful, and that's who the system is built to serve.
As of this writing British exit polls are indicating a landslide victory for the Tories. Numerous other factors went into this result, including most notably a Labour Party ambivalently straddling an irreconcilable divide on the issue of Brexit, but it is also undeniable that the election was affected by a political smear campaign that was entirely unprecedented in scale and vitriol in the history of western democracy . This smear campaign was driven by billionaire-controlled media outlets, along with intelligence and military agencies, as well as state media like the BBC.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been described as the most smeared politician in history, and this is a fair description. Journalist Matt Kennard recently compiled documentation of dozens of incidents in which former and current spooks and military officials collaborated with plutocratic media institutions to portray Corbyn as a threat to national security. Journalistic accountability advocates like Media Lens and Jonathan Cook have been working for years to compile evidence of the mass media's attempts to paint Corbyn as everything from a terrorist sympathizer to a Communist to a Russian asset to an IRA supporter to a closet antisemite. Just the other day The Grayzone documented how establishment narrative manager Ben Nimmo was enlisted to unilaterally target Corbyn with a fact-free Russiagate-style conspiracy theory in the lead-up to the election, a psyop that was uncritically circulated by both right-wing outlets like The Telegraph as well as ostensibly "left"-wing outlets like The Guardian.
Just as Corbyn's advocacy for the many over the plutocratic few saw him targeted by billionaire media outlets, his view of Palestinians as human beings saw him targeted by the imperialist Israel lobby as exposed in the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby. For a mountain of links refuting the bogus antisemitism smear directed at Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of antisemitism, check out the deluge of responses to this query I made on Twitter the other day.
This interference continued right up into the day before the election, with the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg flagrantly violating election rules by reporting that early postal votes had been illegally tallied and results were "looking very grim for Labour".
The historically unprecedented smear campaign that was directed at Corbyn
from the right, the far-right, and from within his own party had an effect. Of course it did. If you say this today on social media you'll
get a ton of comments telling you you're wrong, telling you every vote against Labour was exclusively due to the British people not wanting to live in a Marxist dystopia, telling you it was exclusively because of Brexit, totally denying any possibility that the years of deceitful mass media narrative management that British consciousness was pummelled with day in and day out prior to the election had any impact whatsoever upon its results.
Right. Sure guys. Persistent campaigns to deliberately manipulate people's minds using mass media have no effect on their decisions at all. I guess that's why that whole "advertising" fad never made any money.
I am not claiming here that the billions of dollars worth of free mass media reporting that was devoted to smearing Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party had a greater effect on the election results than Brexit and other strategic stumbles in the party. I'm just saying that it definitely had a much greater effect than the few thousand dollars Russian nationals spent on social media memes in the US, which the American political/media class has been relentlessly shrieking about for three years. To deny that a media smear campaign the size and scope of that directed at Corbyn had an effect is the same as denying that advertising, a trillion-dollar industry, has an effect.
Which means that plutocrats and government agencies indisputably interfered in the British election, to an exponentially greater extent than anything the Russians are even alleged to have done. Yet according to British law it was perfectly legal, and according to British society it was perfectly acceptable. It's perfectly legal and acceptable for powerful individuals to have a vastly greater influence on a purportedly democratic election than any of the ordinary individuals voting in it.
A free and healthy society would not work this way. A free and healthy society would view all forms of manipulation as taboo and unacceptable. A free and healthy society would not allow the will of members of one small elite class to carry more weight than the will of anyone else. A free and healthy society would give everyone an equal voice at the table, and look after everyone's concerns. It certainly wouldn't tolerate a few individuals who already have far too much abusing their power and wealth to obtain even more.
_________________________ Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either Youtube, soundcloud, Apple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I'm trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I've written) in any way they like free of charge.Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2
DOJ Refuses To Release Records On Imran Awan, Citing 'Technical Difficulties' And A Secret Case, Court Docs Show
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:23
Actual case or just excuse not to turn over the records?
Via Daily Caller:
The Department of Justice is withholding documents about the Imran Awan cybersecurity scandal by saying there is an ongoing, secret case related to matter, according to court papers.
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit Nov. 7, 2018, for 7,000 pages of Capitol Police records related to the cybersecurity investigation, and Aug. 2, the DOJ agreed to begin producing records by Nov. 5.
That deadline came and went with no records being produced; on a Nov. 13 phone call, the DOJ said ''technical difficulties'' had resulted in a delay, Judicial Watch stated in a court filing.
The DOJ later changed its story and said it was actually withholding documents ''pursuant to an Order issued by the Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan who is presiding over a related sealed criminal matter,'' prosecutors said in a Dec. 5 filing.
''The 'difficulties' in providing responsive material was [sic] due to the unexpected and unique set of facts described above that was out of control of the Defendant. Defendant's only motivation was to maintain the integrity of the sealed matter as much as possible,'' assistant U.S. Attorney Benton Peterson said in the filing.
Keep reading'...
PewDiePie Warns YouTube's New Harassment Rules Will Kill Off Humour - Sputnik International
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:21
Viral16:56 14.12.2019Get short URL
YouTube this week rolled out sweeping changes to its harassment rules, which will now punish creators for ''veiled and implied threats'' as well as insults based on race, gender, or sexual orientation.
PewDiePie has lashed out at YouTube for the new, stricter guidelines which he said will cause humour on the platform to peter out.
''So you're not allowed to make fun of people's appearances anymore,'' the vlogger lamented, ''but I'll freakin' do it anyway! Hey YouTube, you're ugly! I don't freakin' care. What are you gonna do?!''
YouTube doesn't allow videos and channels that explicitly threaten someone, reveal confidential personal information, or incite harassment. In third quarter of this year, YouTube removed over 16 million comments and 8.7 million videos; the bulk of the content was flagged and deleted automatically, before getting a single view.
This week, the platform moved forward and announced new harassment rules. They will now penalise content that contains ''veiled or implied threats'' or ''maliciously insults'' someone based on characteristics such as race, gender expression, or orientation. That policy also applies to comments.
Two of PewDiePie's videos mocking Indian record label T-Series '' his rival in the fight for biggest YouTube channel '' were banned in India this year because they allegedly were racist.
One of them, a diss track called 'Congratulations', garnered over 150 million views but was left out of last year's YouTube Rewind.
''It should have been on the list. But we said some super hurtful things, so it's understandable. It definitely is harassment,'' PewDiePie said with palpable sarcasm. ''Jesus Christ, what is happening to comedy?''
''It doesn't get better does it? COPPA [Children's Online Privacy Protection Act] and edgy content slashed out in one month. Can't wait for more mediocre humor on this platform.''''Don't go too far. That's harassment. Because we can't tell the difference if you are genuine or joking or not. We are not gonna bother finding out, so we're just gonna make sure that everything you say is exactly serious.''
He then predicted that history will not look kindly on censors: ''Even if we're criticising it [harassment], we're still gonna be grouped in with all these f**king morons controlling what is happening.''
Fact or Science Fiction? General Says US Has Tech to Send People 'Anywhere on Earth' in Hour or Less - Sputnik International
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:20
Military & Intelligence16:39 14.12.2019(updated 16:48 14.12.2019) Get short URL
The recently retired officer made the bizarre claim in a little reported lecture at a college in Washington late last month.
The United States already has the theoretical capability to deliver human beings anywhere on Earth using radically advanced technology, US Air Force Lieut. Gen. Steven L. Kwast (ret) has claimed.
''The technology is on the engineering benches today. But most Americans and most members of Congress have not had time to really look deeply at what is going on here. But I've had the benefit of 33 years of studying and becoming friends with these scientists. This technology can be built today with technology that is not developmental to deliver any human being from any place on planet Earth to any other place in less than an hour,'' Kwast said, speaking at Hillsdale College on November 20.According to the officer, in addition to people, advanced already-existing technologies can deliver Wi-Fi and energy from space, doing away with the need for cell towers and cellphone chargers, with the technology also applicable to homes and vehicles.
''The power of space will change world power, and it doesn't have to be a big country to do it. It can be a small island country, let's say New Zealand, because the technology, if optimized, can change world power, and there is nothing you can do if you don't have that power'...You either have it, and your values rule, or you do not have it, and you must submit. We've seen that play out again and again in history, and it's playing out now,'' the retired officer stressed.Kwast did not expand on or specify what sort of technology the US supposedly has to increase the speed of human travel in such a radical way, but given the theme of his speech, devoted to the US Space Force, the new branch of the US military announced by President Trump in August, he seemed to be talking about Earth-Space-Earth travel, rather than some sort of Star Trek Transporter - or a The Fly-like teleportation pod.
Kwast, who retired from the Air Force in August, allegedly for speaking on and writing about military space-related issues despite orders from his superiors not to do so, is known to be an active proponent of a US struggle for military dominance in space. The Drive, which reported on his Hillsdale College speech, suggested that the retired officer may even be tapped to take command of Trump's Space Force, funding for which was approved by the House this week as part of the Pentagon's $738 billion 2020 fiscal budget.
In his speech, Kwast warned that although the US remained ''dominant'' in space at the moment, it needed to act now to retain this dominance, because America's adversaries '' particularly China, could ''win this race and then'...put roadblocks up to space.'' The officer claimed China was already building a space-based navy, including ''battleships and destroyers'' capable of manoeuvring and destroying their adversaries, while the US was not presently engaged in such efforts.
Iran condemns new US ballistic missile test
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:18
MNA '' Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi slammed the recent ballistic missile test by the United States which was previously prohibited under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
''We voice concern over this new missile test by the United States and announce that US's unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty will lead to instability in the world,'' Mousavi said on Saturday while addressing his weekly presser in Tabriz.
The US Defense Department has tested a medium-range ballistic missile, the second test in four months of an offensive missile that would have been banned under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that Washington exited in August. The Pentagon said in a statement on Thursday that the test took place earlier in the day from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Los Angeles, California, and the missile flew for more than 310 miles (500 km).
The test was the second of a ground-launched, nuclear-capable missile since Washington exited the INF treaty. In August, the Pentagon tested a ground-launched cruise missile. The United States formally withdrew from the landmark 1987 INF pact with Russia in August after claiming that Moscow was violating the treaty, an accusation that Russia has denied.
The Foreign Ministry Spokesman also highlighted that the UNSC resolution 2231 has not banned Iran from testing conventional missiles, describing some countries' remarks on the issue as 'interventionist'.
Russian official with ties to lawyer in Trump Tower meeting dies in helicopter crash | TheHill
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:14
A Russian deputy attorney general, who is thought to have directed Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya in her efforts abroad on behalf of Russia's government, reportedly died Wednesday night in a helicopter crash.
The Daily Beast reported that Saak Albertovich Karapetyan was aboard an unauthorized helicopter flight, which crashed near the village of Vonyshevo, outside of Moscow.
Karapetyan was reportedly behind Veselnitskaya's global efforts to lobby lawmakers to overturn anti-corruption acts such as the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which passed in 2012. The U.S. legislation is similar to others around the world which commemorate Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died while trying to expose a $230 million fraud scheme in Russia. The acts have reportedly incensed Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Daily Beast reported that Karapetyan signed a letter sent on behalf of Russia's government to a U.S. court in 2014 refusing assistance into an investigation concerning Magnitsky's death. The letter was drafted reportedly with aid from Veselnitskaya.
Two years later, Veselnitskaya was involved in a meeting with President Trump Donald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE 's son, Donald Trump Jr. Donald (Don) John TrumpMelania Trump's 'Be Best' hashtag trends after president goes after Greta Thunberg Trump Jr. blasts Time for choosing 'marketing gimmick' Greta Thunberg as Person of the Year White House calls Democratic witness's mentioning of president's youngest son 'classless' MORE , his son-in-law Jared Kushner Jared Corey KushnerTrump hosts pastor who says 'Jews are going to hell' at White House Hanukkah party Mark Levin calls Trump 'first Jewish president' Kushner pens NY Times piece defending Trump order combating anti-Semitism MORE and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort Paul John ManafortDOJ backs ex-Trump campaign aide Richard Gates's probation request Former FBI general counsel wants apology from Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE at Trump Tower. The meeting, which occurred during the 2016 presidential election, was reportedly set up under the presumption that Veselnitskaya would present damaging information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham ClintonMore than 200,000 Wisconsin voters will be removed from the rolls Trump is threatening to boycott the debates '-- here's how to make sure he shows up Trey Gowdy returns to Fox News as contributor MORE to the Trump campaign.
Trump Jr. has maintained publicly that the meeting was a "waste of time," stating that the meeting was focused on Russian adoption policy.
Veselnitskaya, however, has said publicly that the two discussed the Magnitsky Act during the meeting, alleging that Trump Jr. pledged to look into the issue after his father assumed office.
''[I]f we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it. I understand our side may have messed up, but it'll take a long time to get to the bottom of it," she recalled Trump Jr. saying, speaking in an interview with Bloomberg News.
The meeting has come under intense scrutiny in special counsel Robert Mueller Robert (Bob) Swan MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts MORE 's ongoing investigation, which is seeking to determine if members of then-candidate Trump's campaign knowingly colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.
Trump Jr. and other members of his father's campaign and administration have repeatedly denied having any ties to Russia during the election.
Scripting News: Saturday, December 14, 2019
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:13
It's even worse than it appears.
I had a random thought yesterday and didn't know where to put it. I wonder if Bill Gates has had a sit-down with Putin yet and tried to work out a deal personally.
On Facebook, Guy Kawasaki posted a link to a story than asked why Trump is cyberbullying a 16-year-old girl. I wrote: "Putin told him to. Of course I don't mean literally. Remember when you were at Apple and I was a developer. If you and I had lunch and you told me a bunch of stuff, I didn't figure it came from Steve Jobs, but in a sense it did, because you were working for him, and wanted to keep him happy. Trump is part of an organization like that. Possibly Lavrov gave him a briefing, like the CIA tries to give him briefings. In the book was a top ten concern of Putin: climate change activism. Putin's biggest tangible asset is oil. He's a lot like Exxon. He's sending a message to his American team, this was on my list, so now it's on yours."
One thing Facebook could do is provide a clean URL to point into Facebook, without any spyware, so FB posts can be part of the open web. A link into Facebook should be a safe thing. They're always saying how they want to make the web safer. So this has a double benefit. Help the web, and keep people safe.
Supreme Court Will Take Up Trump Financial Records and Tax Cases '' Consolidated All Cases and Granted Writ'...
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:12
Big Win For President Trump ! As we expected the Supreme Court has granted the petition for a writ of certiorari and will hear cases related to attempts to gain President Trump financial records and tax filings.
The Supreme Court has issued a stay upon all lower court action and consolidated the cases into one writ. The court will hear arguments in March and release a ruling later in the summer of 2020.
President Trump went to the Supreme Court after the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capital One seeking President Trump's tax records. In his request to the court [Read Here] Trump asked SCOTUS to block the subpoenas on the ground they go beyond the committees' powers.
Justice Ginsburg stayed the lower court decision and ordered the House of Representatives to file a response by Wednesday, December 11. The cases and issues were then discussed at their private SCOTUS conference. Today's writ is the outcome.
The underlying House case has several defects.
Attorney Ristvan previously provided a good encapsulation of the problems for the House that explains why President Trump could likely win the case:
House Oversight is one of three committees that 26USC§6103(f) requires the IRS to turn over individual returns ''upon request''.
They requested (PDJT taxes for 6 years 2013-2018) long before Pelosi announced her impeachment inquiry, way before the House vote on same, to which Pelosi said Sunday, (paraphrased) ''We haven't decided to impeach. We are only inquiring about it.''
The 'upon request' is not as absolute as it seems. The request must still be predicated on a legitimate legislative purpose. SCOTUS has held (I skip the rulings, since previously commented on here many months ago) that there are only two valid purposes, both constrained to legislative powers expressly granted by A1§8.
1. An inquiry into making, repealing, or amending an A1§8 law.2. Oversight of executive administration of an existing law.
With respect to (1), a legitimate legislative purpose would be reviewing real estate tax law for possible changes. BUT then, the request should have come from Ways and Means (Neal) where tax laws originate. AND, it should have included requests for tax returns from other big real estate developers also. Singling out only PDJT is a fatal defect to this purpose.
With respect to (2), after Nixon/Agnew the tax code was amended to require a special IRS audit of annual POTUS and VPOTUS returns, with the results held in the National Archive. Reviewing those special audits by IRS would be a proper Oversight and Reform legislative purpose, BUT ONLY for 2017-2018 after PDJT was inaugurated. The earlier 4 years demanded are a fatal defect to this purpose.
Both these valid points were raised by President Trump and were already on their way to SCOTUS. Now the committee is trying to 'cure' these fatal request defects by claiming the returns are necessary for impeachment. This raises four new issues where PDJT can also win.
1. Impeachment is not a legislative purpose within A1§8.2. Articles of Impeachment have historically been the the province of Judiciary, NOT Oversight.3. The demand was made BEFORE the impeachment inquiry unofficially started and cannot be retrospectively cured.4. No tax 'high crimes of misdemeanors' have even been alleged. Impeachment fishing expeditions are unconstitutional.
IMO this case has the potential to set a major constitutional precedent about POTUS harassment via political impeachment. The constitutional convention minutes and Federalist #65 both make it clear why 'maladministration' (the original third test after treason and bribery, and which WOULD allow for political impeachment) was replaced by 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors'. The phrase was borrowed from prior British law, has a specific set of meanings, and DOES NOT allow political impeachment. (link)
The quest for President Trump's financial records is essentially a legislative fishing expedition in an attempt to gain opposition research for their Democrat candidate in the 2020 election.
Antifa Leftists Riot in London Following Massive Election Loss'... | The Last Refuge
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:09
Following a major election victory for conservatives in the U.K. the Antifa-left start rioting in the streets again. Proving once more that socialists do not accept election outcomes.
The vitriolic response from the British socialists resembles an almost identical response following the 2016 election victory of President Trump. Same groups, same political ideology, same behavior, same violence, rage and expressed anger.
The inability of the progressive left to accept the outcome of an election is identical in both the U.K and the U.S. Calling Boris Johnson a racist and attempting to delegitimize the election outcome has a ring of familiarity for Americans.
The decades of their united globalist efforts to tear at the very fabric of nationalism is being eliminated. The radical socialists have nothing to lose; the media is sympathetic to their objectives; their desperate need for a collectivist society is visible within their apoplexy. They are afraid of the individual accountability that comes with freedom, and they're damn sure displaying it.
Do not look away.
Antifa are rioting in London in response to the election results giving Conservatives a huge electoral win. It's like what I saw in Portland in November 2016. pic.twitter.com/xeRfkPCGnA
'-- Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) December 13, 2019
The Inspector General's Report on 2016 FBI Spying Reveals a Scandal of Historic Magnitude: Not Only for the FBI but Also the U.S. Media
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:03
Just as was true when the Mueller investigation closed without a single American being charged with criminally conspiring with Russia over the 2016 election, Wednesday's issuance of the long-waited report from the Department of Justice's Inspector General reveals that years of major claims and narratives from the U.S. media were utter frauds.
Before evaluating the media component of this scandal, the FBI's gross abuse of its power '' its serial deceit '' is so grave and manifest that it requires little effort to demonstrate it. In sum, the IG Report documents multiple instances in which the FBI '' in order to convince a FISA court to allow it spy on former Trump campaign operative Carter Page during the 2016 election '' manipulated documents, concealed crucial exonerating evidence, and touted what it knew were unreliable if not outright false claims.
If you don't consider FBI lying, concealment of evidence, and manipulation of documents in order to spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of a presidential campaign to be a major scandal, what is? But none of this is aberrational: the FBI still has its headquarters in a building named after J. Edgar Hoover '' who constantly blackmailed elected officials with dossiers and tried to blackmail Martin Luther King into killing himself '' because that's what these security state agencies are. They are out-of-control, virtually unlimited police state factions that lie, abuse their spying and law enforcement powers, and subvert democracy and civic and political freedoms as a matter of course.
In this case, no rational person should allow standard partisan bickering to distort or hide this severe FBI corruption. The IG Report leaves no doubt about it. It's brimming with proof of FBI subterfuge and deceit, all in service of persuading a FISA court of something that was not true: that U.S. citizen and former Trump campaign official Carter Page was an agent of the Russian government and therefore needed to have his communications surveilled.
Just a few excerpts from the report should suffice to end any debate for rational persons about how damning it is. The focus of the first part of the IG Report was on the warrants obtained by the DOJ, at the behest of the FBI, to spy on Carter Page on the grounds that there was probable cause to believe he was an agent of the Russian government. That Page was a Kremlin agent was a widely disseminated media claim '' typically asserted as fact even though it had no evidence. As a result of this media narrative, the Mueller investigation examined these widespread accusations yet concluded that ''the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.''
The IG Report went much further, documenting a multitude of lies and misrepresentations by the FBI to deceive the FISA court into believing that probable cause existed to believe Page was a Kremlin agent. The first FISA warrant to spy on Page was obtained during the 2016 election, after Page had left the Trump campaign but weeks before the election was to be held.
About the warrant application submitted regarding Page, the IG Report, in its own words, ''found that FBI personnel fell far short of the requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are 'scrupulously accurate.''' Specifically, ''we identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed.''
It's vital to reiterate this because of its gravity: we identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed.
The specifics cited by the IG Report are even more damning. Specifically, ''based upon the information known to the FBI in October 2016, the first application contained [] seven significant inaccuracies and omissions.'' Among those ''significant inaccuracies and omissions'': the FBI concealed that Page had been working with the CIA in connection with his dealings with Russia and had notified CIA case managers of at least some of those contacts after he was ''approved as an 'operational contact''' with Russia; the FBI lied about both the timing and substance of Page's relationship with the CIA; vastly overstated the value and corroboration of Steele's prior work for the U.S. Government to make him appear more credible than he was; and concealed from the court serious reasons to doubt the reliability of Steele's key source.
Moreover, the FBI's heavy reliance on the Steele Dossier to obtain the FISA warrant '' a fact that many leading national security reporters spent two years denying occurred '' was particularly concerning because, as the IG Report put it, ''we found that the FBI did not have information corroborating the specific allegations against Carter Page in Steele's reporting when it relied upon his reports in the first FISA application or subsequent renewal applications.''
To spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of an election, one who had just been working with one of the two major presidential campaigns, the FBI touted a gossipy, unverified, unreliable rag that it had no reason to believe and every reason to distrust, but it hid all of that from the FISA court, which it knew needed to believe that the Steele Dossier was something it was not if it were to give the FBI the spying authorization it wanted.
In 2017, the FBI decided to seek reauthorization of the FISA warrant to continue to spy on Page, and sought and obtained it three times: in January, April and June, 2017. Not only, according to the IG Report, did the FBI repeat all of those ''seven significant inaccuracies and omission,'' but added ten additional major inaccuracies. As the Report put it: ''In addition to repeating the seven significant errors contained in the first FISA application and outlined above, we identified 10 additional significant errors in the three renewal applications, based upon information known to the FBI after the first application and before one or more of the renewals.''
Among the most significant new acts of deceit was that the FBI ''omitted the fact that Steele's Primary Subsource, who the FBI found credible, had made statements in January 2017 raising significant questions about the reliability of allegations included in the FISA applications, including, for example, that he/she did not recall any discussion with Person 1 concerning Wikileaks and there was 'nothing bad' about the communications between the Kremlin and the Trump team, and that he/she did not report to Steele in July 2016 that Page had met with Sechin.''
In other words, Steele's own key source told the FBI that Steele was lying about what the source said: an obviously critical fact that the FBI simply concealed from the FISA court because it knew how devastating that would be to being able to continue to spy on Page. As the Report put it, ''among the most serious of the 10 additional errors we found in the renewal applications was the FBI's failure to advise [DOJ] or the court of the inconsistences, described in detail in Chapter Six, between Steele and his Primary Sub-source on the reporting relied upon in the FISA applications.''
The IG Report also found that the FBI hid key information from the court about Steele's motives: for instance, it ''omitted information obtained from [Bruce] Ohr about Steele and his election reporting, including that (1) Steele's reporting was going to Clinton's presidential campaign and others, (2) [Fusion GPS's Glenn] Simpson was paying Steele to discuss his reporting with the media, and (3) Steele was ''desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being the U.S. President.''
If it does not bother you to learn that the FBI repeatedly and deliberately deceived the FISA court into granting it permission to spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of a presidential campaign, then it is virtually certain that you are either someone with no principles, someone who cares only about partisan advantage and nothing about basic civil liberties and the rule of law, or both. There is simply no way for anyone of good faith to read this IG Report and reach any conclusion other than that this is yet another instance of the FBI abusing its power in severe ways to subvert and undermine U.S. democracy. If you don't care about that, what do you care about?
* * * * *
But the revelations of the IG Report are not merely a massive FBI scandal. They are also a massive media scandal, because they reveal that so much of what the U.S. media has authoritatively claimed about all of these matters for more than two years is completely false.
Ever since Trump's inauguration, a handful of commentators and journalists '' I'm included among them '' have been sounding the alarm about the highly dangerous trend of news outlets not merely repeating the mistake of the Iraq War by blindly relying on the claims of security state agents but, far worse, now employing them in their newsrooms to shape the news. As Politico's media writer Jack Shafer wrote in 2018, in an article entitled ''The Spies Who Came Into the TV Studio'':
In the old days, America's top spies would complete their tenures at the CIA or one of the other Washington puzzle palaces and segue to more ordinary pursuits. Some wrote their memoirs. One ran for president. Another died a few months after surrendering his post. But today's national-security establishment retiree has a different game plan. After so many years of brawling in the shadows, he yearns for a second, lucrative career in the public eye. He takes a crash course in speaking in soundbites, refreshes his wardrobe and signs a TV news contract. Then, several times a week, waits for a network limousine to shuttle him to the broadcast news studios where, after a light dusting of foundation and a spritz of hairspray, he takes a supporting role in the anchors' nighttime shows. . . .
[T]he downside of outsourcing national security coverage to the TV spies is obvious. They aren't in the business of breaking news or uncovering secrets. Their first loyalty'--and this is no slam'--is to the agency from which they hail. Imagine a TV network covering the auto industry through the eyes of dozens of paid former auto executives and you begin to appreciate the current peculiarities.
In a perfect television world, the networks would retire the retired spooks from their payrolls and reallocate those sums to the hiring of independent reporters to cover the national security beat. Let the TV spies become unpaid anonymous sources because when you get down to it, TV spies don't want to make news'--they just want to talk about it.
It's long been the case that CIA, FBI and NSA operatives tried to infiltrate and shape domestic news, but they at least had the decency to do it clandestinely. In 2008, the New York Times' David Barstow won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing a secret Pentagon program in which retired Generals and other security state agents would get hired as commentators and analysts and then '' unbeknownst to their networks '' coordinate their messaging to ensure that domestic news was being shaped by the propaganda of the military and intelligence communities.
But now it's all out in the open. It's virtually impossible to turn on MSNBC or CNN without being bombarded with former Generals, CIA operatives, FBI agents and NSA officials who now work for those networks as commentators and, increasingly, as reporters.
The past three years of ''Russiagate'' reporting '' for which U.S. journalists have lavished themselves with Pulitzers and other prizes despite a multitude of embarrassing and dangerous errors about the Grave Russian Threat '' has relied almost exclusively on anonymous, uncorroborated claims from Deep State operatives (and yes, that's a term that fully applies to the U.S.). The few exceptions are when these networks feature former high-level security state operatives on camera to spread their false propaganda, as in this enduringly humiliating instance:
John Brennan has a lot to answer for'--going before the American public for months, cloaked with CIA authority and openly suggesting he's got secret info, and repeatedly turning in performances like this. pic.twitter.com/EziCxy9FVQ
'-- Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) March 25, 2019All of this has meant that U.S. discourse on these national security questions is shaped almost entirely by the very agencies that are trained to lie: the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon, the FBI. And their lying has been highly effective.
For years, we were told by the nation's leading national security reporters something that was blatantly false: that the FBI's warrants to spy on Carter Page were not based on the Steele Dossier. GOP Congressman Devin Nunes was widely vilified and mocked by the super-smart DC national security reporters for issuing a report claiming that this was the case. The Nunes memo in essence claimed what the IG Report has corroborated: that embedded within the FBI's efforts to obtain FISA court authorization to spy on Carter Page was a series of misrepresentations, falsehoods and concealment of key evidence:
As the Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi '' one of the few left/liberal journalists with the courage and integrity to dissent from the DNC/MSNBC script on these issues '' put it in a detailed article: ''Democrats are not going to want to hear this, since conventional wisdom says former House Intelligence chief Devin Nunes is a conspiratorial evildoer, but the Horowitz report ratifies the major claims of the infamous 'Nunes memo.'''
That the Page warrant was based on the Steele Dossier was something that the media servants of the FBI and CIA rushed to deny. Did they have any evidence for those denials? That would be hard to believe, given that the FISA warrant applications are highly classified. It seems far more likely that '' as usual '' they were just repeating what the FBI and CIA (and the pathologically dishonest Rep. Adam Schiff) told them to say, like the good and loyal puppets that they are. But either way, what they kept telling the public '' in highly definitive tones '' was completely false, as we now know from the IG Report:
Yes. I am telling you the dossier was not used as the basis for a FISA warrant on Carter Page.
'-- Shane Harris (@shaneharris) January 12, 2018New: Two Democratic members of House Intel tell me McCabe did not say dossier was basis of FISA warrant, disputing central claim of #NunesMemo
'-- Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) February 2, 2018Over and over, the IG Report makes clear that, contrary to these denials, the Steele Dossier was indeed crucial to the Page eavesdropping warrant. ''We determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team's receipt of Steele's election reporting on September 19, 2016 played a central and essential role in the FBI's and Department's decision to seek the FISA order,'' the IG Report explained. A central and essential role.
It added: ''in support of the fourth element in the FISA application-Carter Page's alleged coordination with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election activities, the application relied entirely on the following information from Steele Reports 80, 94, 95, and 102.''
Just compare the pompous denials from so many U.S. national security reporters at the nation's leading news outlets '' that the Page warrant was not based on the Steele Dossier '' to the actual truth that we now know: ''in support of the fourth element in the FISA application-Carter Page's alleged coordination with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election activities, the application relied entirely on the following information from Steele Reports 80, 94, 95, and 102'" (emphasis added).
Indeed, it was the Steele Dossier that led FBI leadership, including Director James Comey and Deputy Diretor Andrew McCabe, to approve the warrant application in the first place despite concerns raised by other agents that the information was unreliable. Explains the IG Report:
FBI leadership supported relying on Steele's reporting to seek a FISA order on Page after being advised of, and giving consideration to, concerns expressed by Stuart Evans, then NSD's Deputy Assistant Attorney General with oversight responsibility over QI, that Steele may have been hired by someone associated with presidential candidate Clinton or the DNC, and that the foreign intelligence to be collected through the FISA order would probably not be worth the 'risk' of being criticized later for collecting communications of someone (Carter Page) who was ''politically sensitive.''
The narrative manufactured by the security state agencies and laundered by their reliable media servants about these critical matters was a sham, a fraud, a lie. Yet again, U.S. discourse was subsumed by propaganda because the U.S. media and key parts of the security state have decided that subverting the Trump presidency is of such a high priority '' that their political judgment outweighs the results of the election '' that everything, including outright lying even to courts let alone the public, is justified because the ends are so noble.
As Taibbi put it: ''No matter what people think the political meaning of the Horowitz report might be, reporters who read it will know: Anybody who touched this nonsense in print should be embarrassed.'' No matter how dangerous you believe the Trump presidency to be, this is a grave threat to the pillars of U.S. democracy, a free press, an informed citizenry and the rule of law.
* * * * *
Underlying all of this is another major lie spun over the last three years by the newly-minted media stars and liberal icons from the security state agencies. Ever since the Snowden reporting '' indeed, prior to that, when the New York Times' Eric Lichtblau and Jim Risen (now with the Intercept) revealed in 2005 that the Bush-era NSA was illegally spying on U.S. citizens without the warrants required by law '' it was widely understood that the FISA process was a rubber-stamping joke, an illusory safeguard that, in reality, offered no real limits on the ability of the U.S. Government to spy on its own citizens. Back in 2013 at the Guardian, I wrote a long article, based on Snowden documents, revealing what an empty sham this process was.
But over the last three years, the strategy of Democrats and liberals '' particularly their cable outlets and news sites '' has been to venerate and elevate security state agents as the noble truth-tellers of U.S. democracy. Once-reviled-by-liberal sites such as Lawfare '' composed of little more than pro-NSA and pro-FBI apparatchiks ''
gained mainstream visibility for the first time on the strength of a whole new group of liberals who decided that the salvation of U.S. democracy lies not with the political process but with the dark arts of the NSA, the FBI and the CIA.
Sites like Lawfare '' led by Comey-friend Benjamin Wittes and ex-NSA lawyer Susan Hennessey '' became Twitter and cable news stars and used their platform to resuscitate what had been a long-discredited lie: namely, that the FISA process is highly rigorous and that the potential for abuse is very low. Liberals, eager to believe that the security state agencies opposed to Trump should be trusted despite their decades of violent lawlessness and systemic lying, came to believe in the sanctity of the NSA and the FISA process.
The IG Report obliterates that carefully cultivated delusion. It lays bare what a sham the whole FISA process is, how easy it is for the NSA and the FBI to obtain from the FISA court whatever authorization it wants to spy on any Americans they want regardless of how flimsy is the justification. The ACLU and other civil libertarians had spent years finally getting people to realize this truth, but it was wiped out by the Trump-era veneration of these security state agencies.
In an excellent article on the fallout from the IG Report, the New York Times' Charlie Savage, long one of the leading journalistic experts on these debates, makes clear how devastating these revelations are to this concocted narrative designed to lead Americans to trust the FBI and NSA's eavesdropping authorities:
At more than 400 pages, the study amounted to the most searching look ever at the government's secretive system for carrying out national-security surveillance on American soil. And what the report showed was not pretty.
The Justice Department's independent inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, and his team uncovered a staggeringly dysfunctional and error-ridden process in how the F.B.I. went about obtaining and renewing court permission under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.
''The litany of problems with the Carter Page surveillance applications demonstrates how the secrecy shrouding the government's one-sided FISA approval process breeds abuse,'' said Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project. ''The concerns the inspector general identifies apply to intrusive investigations of others, including especially Muslims, and far better safeguards against abuse are necessary.'''...
His expos(C) left some former officials who generally defend government surveillance practices aghast.
''These errors are bad,'' said David Kris, an expert in FISA who oversaw the Justice Department's National Security Division in the Obama administration. ''If the broader audit of FISA applications reveals a systematic pattern of errors of this sort that plagued this one, then I would expect very serious consequences and reforms'''....
Civil libertarians for years have called the surveillance court a rubber stamp because it only rarely rejects wiretap applications. Out of 1,080 requests by the government in 2018, for example, government records showed that the court fully denied only one.
Defenders of the system have argued that the low rejection rate stems in part from how well the Justice Department self-polices and avoids presenting the court with requests that fall short of the legal standard. They have also stressed that officials obey a heightened duty to be candid and provide any mitigating evidence that might undercut their request. . . .
But the inspector general found major errors, material omissions and unsupported statements about Mr. Page in the materials that went to the court. F.B.I. agents cherry-picked the evidence, telling the Justice Department information that made Mr. Page look suspicious and omitting material that cut the other way, and the department passed that misleading portrait onto the court.
This system of unlimited domestic spying was built by both parties, which only rouse themselves to object when the power lies in the other side's hands. Just last year, the vast majority of the GOP caucus joined with a minority of Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff to hand President Trump all-new domestic spying powers while blocking crucial reforms and safeguards to prevent abuse. The spying machinery that Edward Snowden risked his life and liberty to expose always has been, and still is, a bipartisan creation.
Perhaps these revelations will finally lead to a realization about how rogue, and dangerous, these police state agencies have become, and how urgently needed is serious reform. But if nothing else, it must serve as a tonic to the three years of unrelenting media propaganda that has deceived and misled millions of Americans into believing things that are simply untrue.
None of these journalists have acknowledged an iota of error in the wake of this report because they know that lying is not just permitted but encouraged as long as it pleases and vindicates the political beliefs of their audiences. Until that stops, credibility and faith in journalism will never be restored, and '' despite how toxic it is to have a media that has no claim on credibility '' that despised status will be fully deserved.
We Just Got a Rare Look at National Security Surveillance. It Was Ugly. - The New York Times
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 09:02
News Analysis
A high-profile inspector general report has served as fodder for arguments about President Trump. But its findings about surveillance are important beyond partisan politics.
A new report highlighted longstanding issues with how the F.B.I. conducts national security surveillance. Credit... Jason Andrew for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- When a long-awaited inspector general report about the F.B.I.'s Russia investigation became public this week, partisans across the political spectrum mined it to argue about whether President Trump falsely smeared the F.B.I. or was its victim. But the report was also important for reasons that had nothing to do with Mr. Trump.
At more than 400 pages, the study amounted to the most searching look ever at the government's secretive system for carrying out national-security surveillance on American soil. And what the report showed was not pretty.
The Justice Department's independent inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, and his team uncovered a staggeringly dysfunctional and error-ridden process in how the F.B.I. went about obtaining and renewing court permission under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.
''The litany of problems with the Carter Page surveillance applications demonstrates how the secrecy shrouding the government's one-sided FISA approval process breeds abuse,'' said Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project. ''The concerns the inspector general identifies apply to intrusive investigations of others, including especially Muslims, and far better safeguards against abuse are necessary.''
Congress enacted FISA in 1978 to regulate domestic surveillance for national-security investigations '-- monitoring suspected spies and terrorists, as opposed to ordinary criminals. Investigators must persuade a judge on a special court that a target is probably an agent of a foreign power. In 2018, there were 1,833 targets of such orders, including 232 Americans.
Most of those targets never learn that their privacy has been invaded, but some are sent to prison on the basis of evidence derived from the surveillance. And unlike in ordinary criminal wiretap cases, defendants are not permitted to see what investigators told the court about them to obtain permission to eavesdrop on their calls and emails.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Mr. Horowitz's report on Wednesday, both Republicans and Democrats suggested that legislation tightening restrictions on FISA surveillance may be coming, and the A.C.L.U. submitted ideas to the committee.
Civil libertarians for years have called the surveillance court a rubber stamp because it only rarely rejects wiretap applications. Out of 1,080 requests by the government in 2018, for example, government records showed that the court fully denied only one.
Defenders of the system have argued that the low rejection rate stems in part from how well the Justice Department self-polices and avoids presenting the court with requests that fall short of the legal standard. They have also stressed that officials obey a heightened duty to be candid and provide any mitigating evidence that might undercut their request.
But the inspector general found major errors, material omissions and unsupported statements about Mr. Page in the materials that went to the court. F.B.I. agents cherry-picked the evidence, telling the Justice Department information that made Mr. Page look suspicious and omitting material that cut the other way, and the department passed that misleading portrait onto the court.
To give just three examples:
First, when agents initially sought permission for the wiretap, F.B.I. officials scoured information from confidential informants and selectively presented portions that supported their suspicions that Mr. Page might be a conduit between Russia and the Trump campaign's onetime chairman, Paul Manafort.
But officials did not disclose information that undercut that allegation '-- such as the fact that Mr. Page had told an informant in August 2016 that he ''never met'' or ''said one word'' to Mr. Manafort, who had never returned Mr. Page's emails. Even if the investigators did not necessarily believe Mr. Page, the court should have been told what he had said.
Second, as the initial court order was nearing its expiration and law-enforcement officials prepared to ask the surveillance court to renew it, the F.B.I. had uncovered information that cast doubt on some of its original assertions. But law enforcement officials never reported that new information to the court.
Specifically, the application included allegations about Mr. Page contained in a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent whose research was funded by Democrats. In January 2017, the F.B.I. interviewed Mr. Steele's own primary source, and he contradicted what Mr. Steele had written in the dossier.
The source for Mr. Steele may, of course, have been lying. But either way, officials should have flagged the disconnect for the court. Instead, the F.B.I. reported that its agents had met with the source to ''further corroborate'' the dossier and found him to be ''truthful and cooperative,'' leaving a misleading impression in renewal applications.
Finally, the report stressed Mr. Page's long history of meeting with Russian intelligence officials. But he had also said that he had a relationship with the C.I.A., and it turns out that he had for years told the agency about those meetings '-- including one that was cited in the wiretap application as a reason to be suspicious of him.
That relationship could have mitigated some suspicions about his history. But the F.B.I. never got to the bottom of it, and the court filings said nothing about Mr. Page's dealings with the C.I.A.
The inspector general's report contains many more examples of errors and omissions. Mr. Horowitz largely blamed lower-level F.B.I. agents charged with preparing the evidence, but he also faulted high-level supervisors for permitting a culture in which the inaccuracies took place.
And while Mr. Horowitz obtained no documents or testimony showing that the inaccuracies stemmed from any political bias '-- as opposed to incompetence and negligence '-- he also rejected as ''unsatisfactory'' the explanation that the agents were busy on the larger Russian investigation and that the Page wiretap order was only a small part of their responsibilities.
Still, it is undeniable that the agents and supervisors compiling materials for the Page wiretap application were under far more pressure than in routine counterintelligence investigations. Both in terms of the stakes and the tempo, the early Russia investigation may have had more in common with a counterterrorism investigation.
But that factor also raises the question of what goes into applications for wiretaps in lower-profile cases. Indeed, everyone involved in the Page wiretap knew that what they were working on was likely to come under close scrutiny, yet they still repeatedly failed to follow policies.
Mr. Horowitz also said senior-level supervisors bore responsibility for permitting systemic failures to fester, and his office has begun a broader audit of unrelated FISA applications.
His expos(C) left some former officials who generally defend government surveillance practices aghast.
''These errors are bad,'' said David Kris, an expert in FISA who oversaw the Justice Department's National Security Division in the Obama administration. ''If the broader audit of FISA applications reveals a systematic pattern of errors of this sort that plagued this one, then I would expect very serious consequences and reforms.''
On rare occasions, the public has caught glimpses of problems with the information that goes into FISA applications.
In 2000, the Justice Department confessed to errors in F.B.I. affidavits submitted in 75 surveillance and search applications related to major terrorist attacks, a FISA court opinion disclosed.
The court met ''to consider the troubling number of inaccurate F.B.I. affidavits'' and barred an unnamed F.B.I. agent from making affidavits before the court. In response, the F.B.I. came up with far more rigorous internal procedures, pledging to ensure the accuracy of FISA affidavits by more carefully reviewing them.
But when Mr. Horowitz's investigators looked at the underlying files for the Page applications, they found errors and omissions that showed that the F.B.I. had not scrupulously followed those procedures.
The government has fought hard to keep outsiders from seeing what goes into its FISA applications. In 2014, a federal judge in Illinois ordered the government to show a defense lawyer classified materials about the national security surveillance of his client, which would have been the first time a defense lawyer had been given such materials since Congress enacted FISA in 1978.
But the Obama administration appealed, and an appeals court overturned the order, agreeing that letting the defense counsel see the application would create an intolerable risk of disclosing sensitive government secrets.
That stands in contrast to how wiretapping works in ordinary criminal law. Targets are usually told when the surveillance ends. If they are prosecuted based on evidence gathered from the wiretap, they get to see what was in the application so their defense lawyers can argue that the government made a mistake and the evidence should be suppressed.
The prospect of that adversarial second-guessing gives criminal investigators a reason to be scrupulous about what they put into their requests for wiretaps. In the absence of that disciplining factor, the government has developed heightened internal oversight about what goes into FISA applications.
But that system demonstrably failed in the Page wiretap.
The report should call into question the legitimacy of the FISA system ''whether you like Trump, hate Trump, don't care about Trump,'' Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said at the hearing on Wednesday.
''I'd hate to lose the ability of the FISA court to operate at a time probably when we need it the most,'' Mr. Graham told Mr. Horowitz. ''But after your report, I have serious concerns about whether the FISA court can continue unless there's fundamental reform.''
How Trump's Senate impeachment trial might work - The Washington Post
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:37
A facsimile of a ticket used during the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson. (Charles Tasnadi/AP) If the House impeaches President Trump, that is only the first half of the process to remove a president from office. What comes next is a Senate trial to decide whether, based on the House's impeachment recommendation, senators should vote to convict the president, ending his tenure and possibly preventing him from running again.
There are rules from the 1980s about how to run a Senate trial, but they're intentionally vague on the really important things: what kind of evidence can be shared, how long a trial should be, and how the defense and prosecution should present their cases.
When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) get together to decide those rules, we'll walk you through how a Senate trial will work.
Until then, here's what we know about a Senate impeachment trial '-- and what we don't.
What we know Sen. Trent Lott answers reporters' questions during the Clinton impeachment trial. (Gerald Martineau/The Washington Post)The timing is specific: A trial has to begin shortly after the House impeaches the president. Here's what that looks like with the Christmas break, according to McConnell: ''Assuming that House Democrats send us articles of impeachment next week, a Senate trial will have to be our first item of business in January.''
It also has to be six days a week, for at least part of the day, and senators can't do any legislative business in the hours the trial is going on. But there are no rules about how long it has to go every day, nor how many weeks it has to last.
Nor are there rules about how to present evidence. That will be determined for this specific trial beforehand by Senate Republicans and Democrats. McConnell says those negotiations may come next week. But once everyone is seated for the trial, the roles for key players are set. Such as:
The chief justice of the United States, John G. Roberts Jr., will preside: For impeachment trials of judges, the vice president presides, but the rules assume the vice president would be biased on impeachment of the president. We'll get more into Roberts's role in the ''what we don't know'' section.
Trump can appoint his counsel: It is generally understood in legal circles they need to be personal, not White House lawyers, since those technically serve the administration. But MSNBC is reporting that Trump will choose White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. His lawyer can give opening and closing statements and question any witnesses.
House Democrats can do the same: They are called impeachment managers. The House will select lawmakers who will be the prosecution, examining and cross-examining witnesses as Trump's lawyers can.
This is not exactly like a criminal trial: For example, senators are both the judge and the jury. (They can even be called as witnesses.)
Senators can ask questions of witnesses in writing only: Which Roberts will read out loud.
This has to be done in the open: Especially the vote. The only time senators can go behind closed doors is to deliberate, says Josh Chafetz, a constitutional expert at Cornell Law School, though senators during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton did spend a good chunk of it deliberating in private. Senators don't have to be there to vote, either, and any absences would lower the two-thirds majority it takes to convict Trump. But Chafetz had a hard time seeing any lawmakers getting away with skipping such a consequential vote.
There is precedent for bipartisan cooperation: The Clinton impeachment trial was actually celebrated as civil and bipartisan. Former Senate historian Donald Ritchie: ''The Senate went out of its way to write rules that would be fair to both sides and to conduct itself in a dignified manner.'' In fact, the top Republican and top Democratic senators got a standing ovation from all other senators after the trial was done ''for averting the bitter partisanship that consumed the House during its impeachment debate,'' The Post reported at the time.
[The Clinton impeachment trial set a standard. Will it resonate today?]
The history of impeachment (of presidents or judges) suggests what happens in the House influences Trump's fate in the Senate: ''Whenever there's been a bipartisan vote in the House, there has been a substantial bipartisan vote in the Senate on impeachment. Every time there has been a party-line vote in the House, there has been a substantial party-line vote in the Senate,'' Ritchie said.
[What questions do you have about impeachment?]
What we don't know Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republican senators address reporters Tuesday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)Who will be called as witnesses, whether the Senate can subpoena people and whether the Senate will take new evidence: The Senate doesn't even have to call witnesses, which is something McConnell is seriously considering. Also, we don't know whether the Senate will interview witnesses on the floor in real time, or whether they'll form a committee and interview and film them, airing the video on the Senate floor. (In the Clinton trial, they had Monica Lewinsky testify via previously videotaped interviews, and Chafetz said they decided against allowing new witness testimony.) Senators have to figure out all of this before the trial gets started.
How partisan this will be: Trump wants it to be uber-partisan, to have House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and the whistleblower testify. There's even some talk among his Senate allies of folding in former vice president Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden.
.....trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business. We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is. I was elected to ''Clean the Swamp,'' and that's what I am doing!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 5, 2019Some Republicans have pushed back on that. It will ultimately be up to McConnell, in consultation with the rest of the Senate, to decide how to shape this.
He's given no indication he's leaning toward a super-partisan trial, and we can be sure he is aware of his role in history helping shape it. ''He's an institutionalist,'' said Sarah Burns, a constitutional law expert at Rochester Institute of Technology, ''and he does care about the legacy under his watch. It's also true that he has occasionally, very subtly '-- perhaps too subtly for Trump to understand '-- said, 'This is your mess, and I'm not going to be dragged down by you.' So I do think that he'll be inclined to make this a fairly calm and not circusy trial.''
For example, Trump's personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said ahead of the trial that he wants to report to Senate Republicans what he found recently in Ukraine on a supposed fact-finding mission about the Biden family. No Senate Republican is taking him up on that offer that we know of, and as Trump urges Hunter Biden to testify, McConnell is considering limiting the time frame of the trial and not having any witnesses.
But McConnell is giving mixed signals on partisanship. In a recent interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity, McConnell suggested he'd let Trump's lawyers (i.e. the defense) drive the trial. ''I'm going to take my cues from the president's lawyers,'' he said. If he does so, that would abandon an air of partiality he would hope to present.
[How Mitch McConnell can shape Trump's future in a Senate trial]
How Roberts will handle his role as overseer: McConnell doesn't have to just get a majority of senators on board with what he wants to do. He has to get it by Roberts, who will be ruling on whether anything senators want to do, such as admitting evidence, fits within their predetermined rules. (A supermajority could overrule Roberts, but Burns says there's also a complicated parliamentarian maneuver where a simple majority could overrule Roberts's interpretation of the rules. Republicans only have a three-vote majority over Democrats, so they don't have a ton of wiggle room to drastically change the rules once they're set.)
Roberts can do battle with the Senate on his interpretation of the rules, or he can largely defer to them. Supreme Court watcher Russell Wheeler says he thinks Roberts will lean toward deference. The chief justice overseeing the Clinton trial, William H. Rehnquist, said proudly when it was all over: ''I did nothing, and I did it particularly well.'' And Rehnquist's assistant during that trial is now a close aide to Roberts.
''As chief justice, he does want to protect the court,'' Wheeler said. ''He doesn't want the court to get involved in sideshows about whether his actions in the impeachment trial shed light or had influence about the decisions he makes as a justice on Supreme Court cases.''
After dancer strips at Seattle conference on homelessness, agency director suspended | The Seattle Times
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:36
Dec. 12, 2019 at 9:24 am Updated Dec. 12, 2019 at 6:00 pm By Seattle Times staff reporter
The director of King County's coordinating agency for homelessness is on paid leave following a dancer's strip show at the agency's annual conference on Monday.
Performer Beyonc(C) Black St. James danced topless in a sheer bodysuit, gave lap dances and kissed attendees, according to a staffer at a local housing nonprofit who attended the conference in South Seattle.
Kira Zylstra, organizer of the conference at South Seattle College, has been placed on leave as of Thursday, according to Denise Rothleutner, chief of staff for the King County Department of Community and Human Services.
The department declined to comment further because of the active investigation, Rothleutner said in the email. Zylstra was not available for comment. Her suspension was first reported by journalist Erica C. Barnett on her website.
Zylstra has led All Home, King County's coordinating agency homeless services, since January 2018. But her job could soon become obsolete as Seattle and King County prepare to replace All Home, which has been criticized as weak and ineffective, with a new regional authority on homelessness. Zylstra was paid about $123,000 a year, according to a county spokesperson.
The performance was in the same room as a catered lunch at All Home's annual conference, this year at South Seattle College with the theme of ''Decolonizing our Collective Work.''
The only note on the agenda was ''Lunch with Cultural Presentation,'' and there was no other warning or announcement about the nature of the performance, according to the staffer, who was surprised but not uncomfortable with the performance.
In a short video, St. James, a Spokane-based entertainer who identifies as a trans woman on her Facebook page, can be seen doing high kicks in a revealing bodysuit and with silver pasties.
''No one expected it,'' the staffer said. ''So I think some people felt uncomfortable.'' The first person St. James kissed seemed surprised, according to the staffer, but the ones following seemed more enthusiastic.
Amazon.com: Mr. Christmas 7' Alexa Compatible RGB LED Christmas Tree: Amazon Devices
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:35
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EFF Report Shows FBI Is Failing to Address First Amendment Harms Caused By National Security Letters | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:28
EFF has long fought to end the FBI's ability to impose gag orders via National Security Letters (NSLs). They violate the First Amendment and result in indefinite prohibitions on recipients' ability to speak publicly about controversial government surveillance powers. Records and data released by the FBI earlier this year confirm that, despite congressional reforms in 2015, the vast majority of NSL recipients remain gagged. What's more, the FBI has not taking meaningful steps to dissolve those gag orders.
Today, EFF is publishing ''The Failed Fix to NSL Gag Orders,'' a new report based on an in-depth analysis of records EFF obtained after we won a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit earlier this year. Our report is based on records we obtained that identified more than 700 NSL recipients that the FBI had freed from lengthy gag orders, the subject of a front-page New York Times story in September .
As the Times reported, those records showed that in addition to Internet companies, the leading credit reporting agencies are frequent recipients of NSLs. But these credit agencies have been entirely silent about NSLs, even after the FBI explicitly permitted them to speak. Today, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Rand Paul, and Ron Wyden sent a letter to Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, expressing alarm about the companies' silence and seeking more information about how this frequently used national security investigatory authority affects Americans' credit histories and other sensitive records.
EFF's analysis of the records obtained in our FOIA suit concludes that absent further judicial or legislative intervention, the FBI will continue to violate the First Amendment rights of NSL recipients. As we write in the report, ''when left to its own discretion, the FBI overwhelmingly favors maintaining gag orders of unlimited duration.'' Our findings suggest even though Congress directed the FBI to reduce the number of these gag orders, the Bureau's internal procedures ''do not meaningfully reduce the large numbers of de facto permanent NSL gag orders, failing First Amendment scrutiny. They also fall short of adequately safeguarding recipients' First Amendment rights. And as the records and data EFF obtained in its FOIA suit show, the FBI is unlikely to make progress in ending those gags without further direction by Congress or the courts.''
Accordingly, the report includes recommendations for how to fix this urgent problem. We're pleased that Sens. Warren, Paul, and Wyden are looking into the matter, and we hope Congress takes up the larger issue of NSL reform soon.
Victim of the Swamp '' How the "Deep State" Destroyed the 40 Year Old Private
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:27
Welcome to the Victim of the Swamp.Help support our Indiegogo campaign: ''ShadowNet: The American Awakening''
Order ''Victim of the Swamp: How The Deep State Destroyed The 40-Year-Old Private. Available on Amazon! CLICK HERE TO ORDER!
''If you're an American and vote, you're a victim of the DC Swamp! The integrity of our elections and policies are being manipulated by former staff officers and politicians seeking profit, not just foreign threat-actors. All American's, irrespective of your political ideology, need to put patriotism before politics and fix this before it destroys the very fabric of our democratic republic; election integrity.''
Patrick Bergy, Author; 10-years as DoD Cyber-Security/Social Media Warfare.From our homepage you can link to all our social media platforms and live broadcasts. We can't do this by ourselves; please LIKE & SHARE if you CARE ðŸ‚
If you're looking for the swamp, look no further than the relationship between our government, the military, and the military industrial complex. I spent nearly two years writing my book, Victim of the Swamp: How the ''Deep State'' Destroyed the 40-Year-Old-Private. Portions of the proceeds from my book with go towards helping homeless veterans, and vets struggling with PTSD. I am seeking support in an effort to strengthen whistleblower protections, and hold those in our government responsible for the systemic fraud, waste, and abuse that threatens our national security.
For older posts I haven't migrated to this site yet, you can find them at www.pfc40book.blogspot.com
We need an American Awakening. We need to hold those in leadership to the same legal and moral standards that everyone else is held to.
Bernie Sanders Retracts Endorsement of Cenk Uygur After Criticism - The New York Times
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:25
Mr. Sanders had said Mr. Uygur was ''a voice we desperately need in Congress.'' But many Democrats condemned the endorsement, citing Mr. Uygur's history of offensive comments.
Cenk Uygur is running to fill the seat vacated by former Representative Katie Hill in California's 25th Congressional District. Credit... Christian Monterrosa/Sipa, via Associated Press LOS ANGELES '-- Can an endorsement be put back in the bottle?
On Thursday, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont endorsed Cenk Uygur, a progressive talk show host running for a California congressional seat who has a history of making offensive comments about women, Jews, Muslims and other groups. But he withdrew the endorsement a day later, after facing considerable backlash for his decision, and after Mr. Uygur made an announcement of his own: He was no longer accepting endorsements of any kind.
''Going forward from today I will not accept endorsements, so it means Bernie Sanders has not endorsed me,'' Mr. Uygur said, adding that he did not ''want to damage'' his potential backers.
The backing from Mr. Sanders, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, came in what has already proved to be a heated battle in the race to replace former Representative Katie Hill, who stepped down earlier this year.
Mr. Sanders had called Mr. Uygur, the founder and co-host of the online talk show ''The Young Turks,'' ''a voice we desperately need in Congress'' in a statement on Thursday.
''I know he will serve ordinary people, not powerful special interests,'' Mr. Sanders said then.
But by Friday afternoon, he had reconsidered.
''Our movement is bigger than any one person,'' he said. ''I hear my grass roots supporters who were frustrated and understand their concerns. Cenk today said he is rejecting all endorsements for his campaign, and I retract my endorsement.''
Mr. Uygur, who lives outside the district, is running against Christy Smith, a state assemblywoman who has represented the area for years. Ms. Smith has received the backing of many prominent Democrats in the state, including the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Her campaign has called attention to Mr. Uygur's long history of crude comments, many of which are being regularly reposted by her supporters.
In 2017, Mr. Uygur was forced out of the group Justice Democrats, a group he co-founded that backs progressive congressional candidates around the country, after his old blog posts objectifying women came to light.
Mr. Uygur's long history of comments about women included ranking them on a scale of 1 to 10, based on how likely men would be to have them perform oral sex. He also defended a similar ranking by Harvard's men's soccer team, which was widely condemned at the time.
Mr. Uygur, a longtime supporter of Mr. Sanders, has also disparaged former President Barack Obama on his show, argued that bestiality should be legal and hosted white supremacist figures, including David Duke. In one clip that circulated on Twitter, Mr. Duke ends an interview by saying, ''I am not, what you call a racist,'' to which Mr. Uygur replies, ''No, of course not.''
Mr. Uygur called the clip a ''complete smear'' that had been taken out of context from a combative one-hour interview in which he pushed back on Mr. Duke.
He said he had already apologized for and disavowed many of his past statements, and called the criticism he was facing ''incredibly unfair, driven by the corporate Democrats and to some extent corporate media.''
Ms. Smith has mostly declined to comment on Mr. Uygur's past remarks, which have repeatedly resurfaced in local press. But last month, she told The Washington Post: ''I'm not sure how to rank what is most damning of his commentary, but the most disqualifying to me was the night of the Saugus High School shooting when he boasted about his fundraising totals while I was with grieving families and students. He is not fit to serve anywhere, least of all a district where he doesn't even live.''
Several liberal groups in California have condemned Mr. Uygur, and Mark Gonzalez, the chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, had called for Mr. Sanders to withdraw his endorsement.
''This man has spent decades, including up until recently, attacking women, the LGBTQ community, Jews, Muslims, Asian-Americans and African Americans,'' he said in a statement. ''His vulgarity, his hate speech and divisive rhetoric have no place in our party.''
Ms. Hill stepped down from the congressional seat in October after nude pictures of her surfaced online. She faced a House ethics investigation into allegations that she had a sexual relationship with a member of her congressional staff, a violation of House rules and which she denies. Ms. Hill said she was the victim of an abusive husband who had engaged in revenge porn by distributing the photos.
The sprawling congressional district north of Los Angeles includes Santa Clarita and Simi Valley, bedroom communities that are popular with people who work in Los Angeles but move for less expensive housing. The district is widely viewed as moderate, but Mr. Uygur said he had no doubt he would win as a liberal.
''Everyone knows they are criticizing me because they think I am too progressive,'' he said Friday.
Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, the chairman of California Young Democrats, noted that many progressive groups had already backed Ms. Smith in the race and said he was surprised by the Sanders campaign's decision to get involved.
''I am almost positive they didn't check with this local team,'' Mr. Rodriguez-Kennedy said. ''It's not usually a good thing to make controversial endorsements. Cenk has a history of racist and homophobic and misogynistic comments that are inconsistent with the Democratic Party.''
At least two Republicans are also vying for the congressional seat: Steve Knight, the former congressman who lost to Ms. Hill in 2018, and George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser who was sentenced to prison for lying to the F.B.I.
The primary election will be held on March 3, the same day as the presidential primary in the state. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of votes, the top two vote-getters '-- regardless of party '-- will advance to the November election.
Democratic debate: Every 2020 candidate vows to boycott December debate to support union protesters - CBS News
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:25
All seven of the Democratic candidates who qualified for next week's presidential debate are vowing to boycott the event to stand in solidarity with a union that plans to protest outside the debate's venue.
The union of food service workers, Unite Here Local 11, is fighting for better wages and benefits, and informed candidates on Friday that "there could be picketing" on December 19 at Loyola Marymount University (LMU).
"While we remain hopeful that the labor dispute can be resolved before next Thursday, we want to be clear that if the situation remains unresolved, there could be picketing on the evening of the debate," the union wrote in a letter on Friday.
Senator Elizabeth Warren was the first to pledge not to attend the debate if it required crossing a picket line.
"@UniteHere11 is fighting for better wages and benefits'--and I stand with them ... even if it means missing the debate," she tweeted.
Warren called on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to "find a solution that lives up to our party's commitment to fight for working people." That may mean another change in venue. The DNC already relocated the venue for this debate after a labor dispute at the original location, the University of California, Los Angeles.
"I think it's imperative for people to understand what's happening to the 150 workers at LMU. And we will shed light on it, and be talking about it, as we've done with workers at the airport when we can't reach an agreement or hotels when we can't reach an agreement," Ada Brice±o, the union's co-president, told CBS News.
Casino workers from the Local 54 Unite Here protest outside Trump Taj Mahal owner Carl Icahn's office on Fifth Avenue, July 13, 2016 in New York City. Drew Angerer / Getty Images "We've had several negotiations since March, where we can't reach an agreement, and just recently, abruptly, the company cancelled all the negotiation sessions we've had," said Brice±o.
The union said negotiations broke down after months of talks with Sodexo, which is contracted by Loyola Marymount University for 150 food service workers at the campus. The employees picketed the college as recently as last month, accusing the company of stalling contract negotiations.
But in a statement on Friday, Sodexo said it is "100% committed to reaching an agreement, and any statement that we have left the bargaining table is not accurate."
Justice Department Awards More than $333 Million to Fight Opioid Crisis | OPA | Department of Justice
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:24
The Department of Justice today announced awards of more than $333 million to help communities affected by the opioid crisis. The funds support families, children and crime victims dealing with the impact of substance abuse, along with first responders whose actions can often mean the difference between life and death for those who have overdosed.
''The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis this country has ever faced,'' said Attorney General William P. Barr. ''The Department of Justice is committed to using all means available to bring drug traffickers to justice, disrupt the supply chain, support our law enforcement officers, and help the victims.''
''The opioid crisis has destroyed far too many lives and left too many Americans feeling helpless and hopeless,'' said Office of Justice Programs Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. ''This epidemic '-- the most deadly in our nation's history '-- is introducing new dangers and loading public health responsibilities onto the public safety duties of our law enforcement officers. OJP is here to support them through this unprecedented and extremely challenging time.''
With more than 130 people dying from opioid-related drug overdoses per day, the Department of Justice has made fighting addiction to opioids '' including heroin and fentanyl '' a national priority. The Trump Administration is providing critical funding for a wide range of activities '' from preventive services and comprehensive treatment to recovery assistance, forensic science services and research '' to help save lives and break the cycle of addiction and crime.
Funding was awarded under the following programs.
The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Programs ($163 million) will help jurisdictions plan and implement programs aimed at reducing opioid abuse and mitigating its impact on crime victims and will provide training and technical assistance.The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program ($23.8 million) will address the treatment needs of people using opioids.The Enhancing Community Responses to the Opioid Crisis: Serving Our Youngest Crime Victims ($15.8 million) program will help service providers ensure children and youth are supported as they heal from the impact of crime and substance abuse.The Opioid Affected Youth Initiative ($7.9 million) will develop effective programs for children, youth and their families who have been affected by the opioid crisis and drug addiction.The Drug Courts Program ($83.5 million) will provide financial and technical assistance to states and federally recognized tribes to develop and implement drug courts to help adults, youth and veterans suffering from substance abuse issues.The Child Abuse Training for Judicial Personnel program ($1 million) will provide specialized training for juvenile and family court judges on serving families affected by opioids.The Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative ($15 million) will support mentoring programs that address the issues experienced by youth affected by opioids.The Research and Evaluation on Drugs and Crime Program ($6 million) will support research on criminal investigation, prosecution, drug intelligence and community surveillance to reduce violent and other crimes related to fentanyl and its analogues.The Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program ($17 million) is being made available to address the impact of the opioid crisis on forensic laboratory operations.The more than $333 million in awards will be distributed to jurisdictions throughout the U.S. in order to maximize the effectiveness of the funding. Information about the programs and awards announced today is available here. For more information about OJP awards, visit the OJP Awards Data webpage.
In addition to providing unprecedented funding to combat the opioid crisis, the Trump Administration also created the Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand Initiative, which prevents over-prescription, reduces the demand for drugs through education and awareness and cuts off the flow of illicit drugs across our borders. President Trump also signed the bipartisan Substance Use '' Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act, or the SUPPORT Act, the largest legislative effort ever to address a single drug crisis in our nation's history. This law expands access to evidence-based treatment, protects communities from drugs, invests more in sustained recovery, brings those in treatment and recovery back into the workforce and raises awareness of the dangers of illicitly imported synthetic opioids.
The Office of Justice Programs, directed by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan, provides federal leadership, grants, training and technical assistance, and other resources to improve the nation's capacity to prevent and reduce crime, assist victims and enhance the rule of law by strengthening the criminal and juvenile justice systems. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.
FCC endorses C-V2X mobile network that lets cars talk to each other - CNET
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:22
A Ford self-driving car prototype works the road in Miami.
Ford The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday endorsed new networking technology called C-V2X, which links cars to each other and to traffic signals. In a unanimous decision, the commission voted on a proposal that would carve off some radio airwaves in the 5.9GHz frequency range for use by C-V2X .
The FCC's proposal also would free up some spectrum for unlicensed use. But it casts a shadow on an older rival to C-V2X called DSRC. which for the last two decades has had exclusive rights to use the 5.9GHz band.
Radio spectrum is a precious resource, and fans of many wireless communications technologies are scrapping for as much of it as they can get to promote their different visions for the future. Spectrum is already used for everything from the mobile networks relied on by phones to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, TV broadcasts, police and fire department networks and long-range telecommunications.
Unlicensed spectrum is something of a free-for-all, with many different uses all chattering at the same time on the same frequency bands, but licensed spectrum used for phone networks, emergency services and car communications is protected for more reliable service.
A 'balanced approach' to radio spectrumThe proposal "seeks to achieve a balanced approach that will both improve automobile safety and unleash more wireless innovation for the benefit of the American people," the FCC said.
The proposal has a good chance of being adopted, in part because it's got bipartisan support, said Todd Daubert, who leads telecommunications and technology work at law firm Dentons. "Chairman [Ajit] Pai's proposal to split the band between unlicensed and transportation uses has support across the aisle, from a significant portion of the auto industry, broadband providers and consumer groups," he said.
The next step for the FCC is to gather and review comments. There's no timeline yet for making the proposed rule final.
The agency has been stewing for years about what to do with the 5.9GHz band, which includes a swath of spectrum 75 megahertz wide. Its proposal would divide that into three chunks. The bottom 45MHz would be for unlicensed use, meaning it's free for anyone to use for radio transmissions. The top 20MHz would be solely for C-V2X.
The middle 10MHz would be for DSRC -- but only if its fans can make a persuasive case in a comment period, and the FCC has been unimpressed with progress so far. Otherwise, it'll be devoted to C-V2X.
The Wi-Fi Alliance, a trade group that helps standardize the Wi-Fi networking technology, cheered the FCC's proposal to keep 45MHz for unlicensed use. That spectrum could be combined with earlier unlicensed spectrum so devices like phones and laptops could use a very wide 160MHz band for faster data transfer.
Others endorsing the unlicensed spectrum use included Comcast and Charter Communications, two large internet service providers. Chipmakers Broadcom and Qualcomm -- the latter a major C-V2X backer -- also voiced support for the FCC's proposal.
Carmakers want more spectrumSome carmakers, though, are unhappy with the push.
The FCC's proposal "risks lives, slows innovation and runs counter to what the Commission has heard from safety and technical experts," said the Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in a statement Thursday. The groups said carmakers are ready to use all of the 75MHz available and that the FCC must "protect critical safety communications from harmful interference, including unlicensed technologies."
The automaker groups sidestepped the issue of DSRC versus C-V2X.
In a November letter to the FCC, Ford Chief Executive James Hackett said the company is willing to share the 5.9GHz spectrum with unlicensed uses, but only if there is a conclusive demonstration that other uses of the airwaves won't hurt C-V2X.
Qualcomm said 20MHz worth of spectrum is sufficient for C-V2X using today's mainstream network technology, 4G. "In addition to the 20MHz, we requested another 40MHz for 5G-based C-V2X, which will support autonomous vehicles," said Dean Brenner, Qualcomm's senior vice president of spectrum strategy.
FCC concerned about DSRC 'slow adoption'The FCC pointed to "slow deployment of the DSRC service" as the reason for deciding what to do with the 5.9GHz band. That's a pessimistic signal for DSRC fans like Volkswagen and Toyota.
Toyota declined to comment until it reviews the FCC's proposal in more detail.
The proposal comes as no surprise. "DSRC ... was intended to enable ubiquitous transportation and vehicle-related communications, but results haven't matched that intent," Pai said in November . "Here we are, two decades later, and the situation can at best be described as 'promise unfulfilled.'"
But the stance on C-V2X is good for fans like Ford Motor and Qualcomm. C-V2X stands for "cellular vehicle-to-everything" and covers how cars can link up to each other directly, to infrastructure like traffic signals, and to mobile networks operated by companies like AT&T and Verizon.
C-V2X development began with today's 4G technology, and indeed that's the type Ford plans to build into its cars initially. But it also will extend to 5G networks that offer faster data transfer speeds and more-reliable communications.
Originally published Dec. 12.Updates, Dec. 12 and 13: Adds further background and comment from the wireless and automotive industries.
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'Terrible new standard': Toomey rips Trump's trade deal - POLITICO
Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:16
''There are serious problems with this agreement,'' Toomey told reporters, adding that it would be a ''big mistake'' to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement in the coming weeks.
Toomey argued the GOP should have passed the deal while it still had control of the House instead of spending months negotiating with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Democratic demands.
''It's clearly moved way to the left, which is why you had a celebratory press conference by all the Democratic leadership in the House. '... You have organized labor enthusiastically supporting this,'' Toomey said. ''When's the last time they were enthusiastic about a free trade agreement?''
Toomey isn't alone in his complaints that the deal may have moved too far to the left.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has also raised concerns that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer may have given ''away the store'' to Democrats and said on Tuesday that concessions to the AFL-CIO ''concerns'' him.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). | Zach Gibson/Getty Images
But Cornyn isn't vowing to oppose the deal, unlike Toomey, who called it plainly a ''step backward'' from the existing NAFTA trade deal.
Toomey ticked off a litany of ostensible flaws in the agreement: There wouldn't be adequate time to review it; it expires after 16 years; it increases costs for U.S. consumers; it's ''not going to do anything for economic growth''; and it is ''a complete capitulation to Democratic demands on intellectual property for biologics.''
''This would be a terrible new standard'' for future trade agreements, Toomey said.
Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.
PM Johnson urges 'healing' for Brexit-bound Britain - Reuters
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 16:55
LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britain to ''let the healing begin'' in a speech outside 10 Downing Street on Friday after securing a landslide victory in a divisive national election.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to deliver a statement at Downing Street after winning the general election, in London, Britain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Below is the text of his speech:
''This morning I went to Buckingham Palace and I am forming a new government.''
''And on Monday MPs will arrive at Westminster to form a new parliament and I am proud to say that members of our new one nation government '' a people's government '' will set out from constituencies that have never returned a Conservative MP for 100 years.''
''And yes they will have an overwhelming mandate, from this election, to get Brexit done and we will honor that mandate by Jan 31.''
''And so in this moment of national resolution I want to speak directly to those who made it possible.''
''And to all those who voted for us, for the first time, all those whose pencils may have wavered over the ballot and who heard the voices of their parents and their grandparents whispering anxiously in their ears, I say thank you for the trust you have placed in us and in me.''
''And we will work round the clock to repay your trust and to deliver on your priorities with a parliament that works for you.''
''And then I want to speak also to those who did not vote for us or for me and who wanted and perhaps still want to remain in the EU.''
''And I want you to know that we in this one nation conservative government will never ignore your good and positive feelings of warmth and sympathy towards the other nations of Europe.''
''Because now is the moment '' precisely as we leave the EU '' to let those natural feelings find renewed expression in building a new partnership, which is one of the great projects for next year.''
''And as we work together with the EU, as friends and sovereign equals, in tackling climate change and terrorism, in building academic and scientific cooperation, redoubling our trading relationship - I frankly urge everyone on either side of what after three-and-half years after all (is) an increasingly arid argument - I urge everyone to find closure and to let the healing begin.''
''Because I believe, in fact I know, because I have heard it loud and clear from every corner of the country, that the overwhelming priority of the British people now is that we should focus above all on the NHS.''
''That simple and beautiful idea that represents the best of our country with the biggest ever cash boost - 50,000 more nurses, 40 new hospitals as well as providing better schools, safer streets.''
''And in the next few weeks and months we will be bringing forward proposals to transform this country.''
''With better infrastructure, better education, better technology.''
''And if you ask yourselves what is this new government going to do - what is he going to do with his extraordinary majority - I will tell you that is what we are going to do: we are going to unite and level up '' unite and level up.''
''Bringing together the whole of this incredible United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, together.''
''Taking us forward, unleashing the potential of the whole country, delivering opportunity across the entire nation.''
''And since I know that after five weeks frankly of electioneering this country deserves a break from wrangling, a break from politics, and a permanent break from talking about Brexit.''
''I want everyone to go about their Christmas preparations happy and secure in the knowledge that here in this people's government, the work is now being stepped up to make 2020 a year of prosperity and growth and hope and to deliver a Parliament that works for the people.''
''Thank you all very much and happy Christmas.''
Compiled by Andy Bruce, reporting by UK bureau
Payroll data for 29,000 Facebook employees reportedly stolen - CNET
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 16:44
The payroll data on 29,000 Facebook was reportedly stolen off unencrypted hard drives.
Angela Lang/CNET The personal banking information for thousands of Facebook employees was stolen last month, Bloomberg reported earlier Friday. The data breach reportedly occurred when someone stole multiple unencrypted physical hard drives from a Facebook payroll staffer's car. Info on the hard drives included names, bank account numbers, the last four Social Security Number digits, salaries, bonus amounts and equity details, the report said.
The drives contained personal data for about 29,000 Facebook employees, Bloomberg said, quoting a company spokesperson. Facebook reportedly alerted staff on Dec. 13 after discovering the theft on Nov. 20. The drives were stolen on Nov. 17, the report said.
"We worked with law enforcement as they investigated a recent car break-in and theft of an employee's bag containing company equipment with employee payroll information stored on it," a Facebook spokeswoman confirmed in an email to CNET. "We have seen no evidence of abuse and believe this was a smash-and-grab crime rather than an attempt to steal employee information."
Facebook added the people affected were on its US payroll in 2018, and that it is providing identity theft and credit monitoring services to them. No Facebook user data was taken in the theft.
Originally published Dec. 13, 1:17 p.m. PT. Update, 2:21 p.m.: Adds confirmation and comment from Facebook.
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How The Vatican's Charity Spent Millions on Elton John's 'Rocketman' Biopic
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 16:34
ROME''Just when you thought the Vatican's image problem couldn't get any worse, what with endemic clerical child abuse and a near bankrupt American arm of the church, it does. A new report pulls back the red velvet curtain on a bizarre new tidbit about the Vatican's other dirty little secret: its finances.
The latest twist started to unravel in October when Pope Francis ordered Swiss Guard gendarmes to raid the Holy See's Financial Information Authority (AIF) office inside Vatican City, carrying out boxes of papers and computer hard drives. They tacked up what amounted to a ''Wanted Dead or Alive'' sign on the Vatican's fortified gates to keep out the administrators while they started sifting through reams of curious expenditures in the Vatican's financial books.
They came up with quite a few surprises about the way money donated for the poor was being used, including some dubious real estate interests, connections to an even more dubious Maltese financier, and investments in movies that, good or bad, don't exactly square with church doctrine.
One of the more peculiar items on the spreadsheet was property on Sloane Avenue in London. It included luxury apartments in a former Harrods warehouse. The Vatican press office said at the time further investigations would be ''carried out over time.''
Among the latest of those investigations is a tie to the Centurion Global Fund based in Malta, which has proven itself to be a hotbed of corruption. The Maltese prime minister is currently spending most of his time blockaded in his office in Valletta while angry protesters demand he resign over his alleged ties to the assassination of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia two years ago.
''While investing in mainstream entertainment is hardly sinful, the great contradiction is that the Catholic Church preaches to the devout that homosexuality is a sin.''
At least two-thirds of the Centurion Global Fund's capital assets are fed by the Vatican Secretariat of State, under which the Vatican financial authority operated, according to documents seen by Corriere Della Sera newspaper in Italy. The fund is run by Enrico Crasso, a 71-year-old Italian with a Swiss fiscal address who also runs Sogenel Holding, referred to as a ''reference point'' for key financial transactions for the Vatican Bank.
Crasso's office walls are lined with personal letters signed by various Vatican secretaries of state and he has even been awarded a gold medal of merit from the pope. He alone decides how the Vatican money''about $78 million''entrusted to him through the Malta fund is spent to get the highest return.
The documents seen by Corriere Della Sera list his recent investments with the church's money. Among them are around $2.2 million in a company called Italian Independent, run by Fiat founder Gianni Agnelli's flamboyant grandson Lapo Elkann, who was arrested in New York in 2017 for faking his own kidnapping, allegedly to pay off a drug debt owed to a male escort.
Another $11 million went to an Italian businessman named Enrico Preziosi, who is an entrepreneur who owns the Genoa soccer team and who was caught up in a little legal trouble in the early 2000s for manipulating the price of soccer players to falsify accounting. He was fined around $15,000 and banned from soccer for four months.
''Investigations are in progress.''
'-- The Vatican Press Office
But the most curious item on the report to come out so far is a $4.5 million expenditure recorded in February of this year related to finance for the 2019 films Men in Black: International and Elton John's rather steamy biopic Rocketman, which portrays the entertainer's drug problems and is the first studio movie to portray gay sex between men in an authentic way.
While investing in mainstream entertainment is hardly sinful, the great contradiction is that the Catholic Church preaches to the devout that homosexuality is a sin.
The Daily Beast reached out to Crasso in both his Swiss and Maltese offices and was told that he did not wish to comment at this time.
The Vatican press office has issued a statement that sheds very little light on the matter. ''Investigations are in progress, and lines of enquiry which may help clarify the position of the Holy See with respect to the aforementioned funds and any others, are currently being examined by the Vatican judiciary, in collaboration with the competent authorities,'' the statement reads.
The money that feeds the Centurion Fund reportedly comes from investments made by the pope's ''Peter's Pence'' charity, which is fed by global dioceses that collect the money specifically for the poor on one given day of the year, often the last Sunday in June which is close to the feast days of saints Peter and Paul.
Peter's Pence is not part of a local church's Sunday collection basket, but a separate collection earmarked specifically for the papal fund. According to the charity's website, the money is supposed to be channeled directly to the poor.
''The Peter's Pence collection is a gesture of solidarity,'' the site states. ''Through it, every member of the faithful can participate in the Pope's activity. It is an activity that supports the most needy and ecclesial communities in difficulty who approach the Apostolic See for help.''
Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the fund, which brings in more than $55 million annually and is worth about $700 million to date, is also spent on filling the gaps in the Vatican's internal administrative budget. The paper alleges that just 10 percent is spent on charitable works, according to documentation it obtained.
Whether the pope knows the intricate details about where the money goes that he entrusts to his charity is unclear. But when he was asked about the growing financial scandal related to Peter's Pence on a papal flight last month, the pontiff did little to clear it up.
''When the money from Peter's Pence arrives, what do I do? I put it in a drawer? No,'' he said. ''This is bad administration. I try to make an investment and when I need to give, when there is a need, throughout the year, the money is taken and that capital does not devalue, it stays the same or it increases a bit.'' Or, it goes to Elton John's biopic.
Frans Timmermans' big climate challenge '' POLITICO
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:56
Frans Timmermans holds the future of the next European Commission in his hands.
The Dutch Socialist '-- appointed Tuesday as the Commission's executive vice president in charge of the European Green Deal '-- is overseeing Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen's signature policy.
''I want the European Green Deal to become Europe's hallmark. At the heart of it is our commitment to becoming the world's first climate-neutral Continent,'' von der Leyen said.
His brief is vast, ranging from climate policy to the environment, green finance, water, nature, taxes, transport and more.
As climate chief, Timmermans will have to strike a balance between calls for faster climate action and worry among some EU countries and traditional industries that such steps might be very costly and gut the Continent's competitiveness.
Here are four things to know about Timmermans and the task he faces over the next five years.
1. Timmermans is one of the most powerful officials in BrusselsThe new setup gives Timmermans much more power over climate policy than the arrangement of the current Commission, where Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Ca±ete jostled with Energy Union Vice President MaroÅ Å efčovič.
As well as executive vice president, Timmermans is also climate commissioner, giving him direct control of bureaucrats and the ability to steer and set policy, rather than just coordinating the efforts of commissioners without direct involvement, as Šefčovič had to do.
He'll also chair the Commission's College in von der Leyen's absence.
Kadri Simson, the nominee to be energy commissioner, was told in her mission letter: ''As a rule, you will work under the guidance of the Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal. The Directorate-General for Energy will support you in your work.''
''I don't always get the easiest jobs" '-- Frans Timmermans
Giving executive vice presidents their own policy departments gives them ''the muscle to deal with the vast subjects they have to deal with,'' von der Leyen said Tuesday.
Because the impact of climate change is huge and growing, so is Timmermans' brief; he'll work with commissioners in charge of transport, energy, health, agriculture, environment and oceans and cohesion and reforms.
Danish Executive Vice President and Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will also dip into energy.
Revamping the system will depend on "how powerful, and how convincing" the new vice presidents are in disrupting the "cottage industries" of existing portfolios, a senior official said ahead of Tuesday's announcement.
2. He faces big challenges on climate policyImplementing von der Leyen's climate effort will mean revamping the way the bloc uses and produces energy, unlocking private investment and supporting new clean technologies.
Von der Leyen promised to present the European Green Deal within the first 100 days of her mandate. That includes boosting the bloc's emissions reduction targets from the current 40 percent to as much as 55 percent by 2030, and proposing a climate law to enshrine a goal of climate neutrality by 2050. Officials have said that might be difficult.
Timmermans will also be in charge of coordinating efforts for a new ''just transition'' fund, aimed at helping regions weather the shift away from fossil fuels. He'll coordinate efforts to cut pollution, ''looking at air, water, and noise pollution from transport, agriculture and food production, water quality, hazardous chemicals and other key areas,'' reduce the carbon footprint of transport and promote a circular economy.
He'll also steer work on some of von der Leyen's most controversial proposals, to ''ensure that our tax policies enable us to deliver on our climate ambitions." That includes working on a carbon border tax as well as reviewing the Energy Taxation Directive. That means he will have to coordinate with Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni and Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan.
Frans Timmermans | Aris Oikonomou/AFP via Getty Images
He's also meant to ensure countries implement existing climate legislation, including the bloc's carbon market reform, and national emissions reduction goals in sectors such as transport, buildings and agriculture.
Environmental campaigners support Timmermans, for now.
''For both climate and the environment, the next five years will be crucial, so we welcome all efforts to deliver an ambitious Green Deal and a leading role for Frans Timmermans," said Jeremy Wates, secretary-general of the European Environmental Bureau.
But the climate policy file is politically dangerous '-- especially as climate campaigners won't be easily satisfied with the EU's slow policymaking machinery.
3. He also faces an eastern challengeHis highest profile responsibility in the outgoing Commission was taking Poland and Hungary to task over rule of law. Both countries have moved to put the courts and other institutions under the firm control of their ruling parties; Timmermans got the job of rolling back those changes and defending the EU's democratic standards.
''I don't always get the easiest jobs, let me put it that way,'' he told POLITICO in an interview last year.
That made him a reviled figure in Warsaw and Budapest, where he was seen as the embodiment of a Brussels busybody telling elected governments what they could or couldn't do. Those fights continue under the von der Leyen Commission but no longer under Timmermans' direction.
However, his past job could come to haunt him in his new one. He needs both Central European countries on board to push through ambitious new climate targets and policies.
Poland and Hungary (along with the Czech Republic and Estonia) are the only EU countries holding out against an effort to sign up the bloc to the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050. Central and Eastern European countries fear this would hamper economic growth, and want more support from Brussels '-- financial and otherwise '-- to phase out coal-fired power.
Frans Timmermans | Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images
When Timmermans next shows up in Warsaw and Budapest it won't be as the man chastising them for democratic backsliding, but as someone who both needs their climate cooperation and can offer access to crucial programs to soften the economic blow of going green.
There, some anecdotes from his past from a family of Dutch coal miners who saw their own industry die out might buy him some credibility in Katowice or Ostrava.
4. Timmermans, the Dutch politicianTimmermans is a good retail politician. He charms crowds '-- in Warsaw, the liberal opponents of the ruling Law and Justice party swooned when he made a whistle-stop tour as part of his failed candidacy to be the next European Commission president. He often tells the story of how his home town was liberated by Polish soldiers during the war.
But in person he can be blunt.
That makes him quite different from Arias Ca±ete. The jovial and rotund Spaniard's diplomatic skills relied as much on his stamina in negotiations as his likability to get around political resistance, playing that to his advantage in pushing legislation through in Brussels and in leading the EU effort in international climate talks.
That's not to say Timmermans lacks heft. He's a savvy and experienced politician who speaks seven languages, and was foreign minister of the Netherlands before moving to the Commission in 2014. He helped the EU strike a deal with Turkey on migration and led the fight to cut down on plastics use.
He's just not particularly cuddly.
President-elect von der Leyen's Mission Letter to Frans Timmermans | European Commission
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:55
You are here: Home President-elect von der Leyen's Mission Letter to Frans Timmermans President-elect von der Leyen's Mission Letter to Frans Timmermans10 September 2019
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Frans Timmermans Official EU Bio
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:53
BRIEFING Hearings of European Commissioners -designate EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service Author: Gregor Erbach Members' Research Service PE 640.170 '' September 2019 EN Frans Timmermans Vice-President: European Green Deal Hearing due to be held on Tuesday 8 October at 18.30 hours. E uropean Parliament c ommittee responsible : Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). Frans Timmermans, born in 1961, was the Party of European Socialists ' lead candidate in the 2019 European Parliament elections. First Vice- President of the European Commission since November 2014, Timmermans ' current responsibilities include better regulation, inter- institutional relations, the rule of law, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and sustainability. During his term of office he has led the work on the c ircular economy and p lastics strategies , including legislative proposals to reduce plastic pollution and phase out single use plastic products. He was also closely involved in the EU 's negotiation, adoption and implementation of the United Nations (UN) sustainable d evelopment goals. With regard to the rule of law, he was in charge of the Commission 's measures to protect judges in Poland from political control. Following postgraduate studies in European law and French literature, Timmermans began his professional ca reer in 1987, as a policy officer in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as Deputy Secretary of the Dutch embassy in Moscow from 1990 to 1993. From 1994 to 1995, he worked for EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek , and was Senior Advisor and Priv ate Secretary to Max van der Stoel, the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the OSCE , from 1995 to 1998. Timmermans became a Member of the Dutch Parliament for the Partij van de Arbeid (Dutch Labour Party) in 1998, and was re -elected five times. He was Minister of European Affairs from 2007 to 2010 and served as Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands from 2012 to 2014. This is one of a set of Briefings designed to give Members of the European Parliament an overview of major issues of interest in the context of the hearings of the Commissioners -designate. The full set of Briefings can be found at: https://epthinkta nk.eu/commissioner_hearings_2019
EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service 2 Background President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has designated Frans Timmermans as Executive Vice- President responsible for the European Green Deal. His mission letter puts him in charge of an ecological transition that would help protect the planet and the environment, and make Europe the first climate -neutral continent, while ensuring a just transition for those most affected. Like th e seven other Vice- Presidents, he is to steer and coordinate a thematic group of Commissioners. As Executive Vice -President, he will have responsibility for the climate action portfolio, as well as chairing the College of Commissioners i n the absence of the President. The President-elect has tasked Frans Timmermans with presenting the European Green Deal within the first 100 days of the new Commission's mandate and with coordinat ing work on a new Just Transition Fund. Also in the first 100 days, he should p resent a new European Climate Law that sets a climate -neutrality target for 2050. A new European Climate Pact should bring together regional and local authorities, civil society, industry and schools to agree on commitments to change behaviours. Tax polici es should be reformed in line with climate ambitions, which includes work on a border carbon tax and a review of the Energy Taxation Directive. Another task is mainstreaming biodiversity across all policy areas and work on the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. Further objectives include the EU zero -pollution ambition, the circular economy and a new 'Farm to Fork' strategy for sustainable food. Moreover, Timmermans is to work on reducing the transport sector carbon footprint and ensuring the blue economy contribution to climate objectives. Europe has long been a global leader in environmental protection, and notably a champion of global climate action. The EU is com mitted to taking action to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre -industrial levels, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement. The E uropean Union 's nationally determined contribution '' its international commitment '' is a 40 % reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, compared to 1990. A long -term EU low carbon strategy is under development, based on the Commission' s 'clean planet ' strategy , published in November 2018. For the period to 2020, the EU 's targets are : a 20 % reduction in GHG emissions compared to 1990 ; a 20 % market share for renewable energy sources ; and a 20 % improvement in energy efficiency. These '20- 20-20' targets were agreed by EU leaders in 2007, and enacted in the 2009 climate and energy package. With a 22 % reduction in GHG emissions by 201 7, the EU is likely to achieve its 2020 GHG target. Achieving the 2020 targets for renewable energy sources and energy efficiency will be more challenging, and will require additional efforts by Member States. The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) is the main instrument for achieving GHG reductions in the electricity sector and other energy -intensive industries. For secto rs not covered by the ETS, the Effort S haring Regulation establishes national emi ssion targets for EU Member States for 2021-203 0. Emissions from transport are covered by separate EU legislation. Under the EU 's 2014- 2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), a t least 20 % of the budget across all EU spending areas should be spent on actions related to climate change, and a minimum of 25 % climate -related spending has been proposed by the Commission for the next MFF (2021 -2027). European citizens and populations worldwide benefit from reduced climate change impacts resulting from emission reductions. The EU aims at reducing citizens ' vulnerability to climate change impacts through better coordination of adaptation measures. EU businesses benefit from a level playing field if climate policies are harmonised across Europe and worldwide. A market -based emissions trading system enables industry to reduce emissions at lowest cost. Clarity about future climate policies reduc es uncertainty for investments. While Europe has reduced its GHG emissions, global emissions have grown by 63 % since 1990 and show no signs of peaking. If GHG emissions are not reduced in the near term , the internationally agreed target of limiting global warming to well below 2°C is likely to be missed. As mitigation of climate change cannot be addressed by uni lateral measures in one region, a global effort was
Frans Timmermans: VP European Green Deal 3 launched in 1992 with the UN Framework Convent ion on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which resulted in the conclusion of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Recent developments Climate action The Juncker Commission ha s taken a unified approach to climate and energy policy. Maro… … efovi was appointed as Vice -P resident for E nergy Union, and Miguel Arias Ca±ete as Commissioner for both climate and energy. In line with the EU 's commitment to provide its citizens and businesses with secure and affordable energy, while also addressing the causes of climate change, the European Commission launched its European energy union strategy in February 2015. The strategy has five inter- related dimensions , one of which is decarbonising the economy . It builds on the 2030 policy framework for climate change and energy agreed in October 2014 by the European Council, which laid down key EU targets to be achieved by 2030 for emission reductions, renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. The Commission completed all the actions outlined in the energy union strategy, following the guidelines set by the European Council. This happened mainly through a series of legislative packages, which put in place the climate and energy framework for the period up to 2030. The legi slative proposals relating to the energy union were agreed by the co -legislators, often with more ambitious targets than in the original Commission proposals and European Council guidelines. A r egulation on the governance of the energy union aims to ensuring coherence in the implementation of the policies by Member States and requires Member States to develop National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP) and s ubmit regular progress reports. In June 2019, the Commission published an overall assessment of the 28 draft NECPs, together with country -specific recommendations. M ember States have until the end of 2019 to submit their final NECPs. On the international scene, the Commission played a leading role in negotiations leading to the Paris Agreement and its implementation, and other agreements. The fourth report on the state of the energy union (April 2019) takes stock of the achievements of EU climate and energy policies and points out areas where more efforts are needed. In the last legislative term, the co -legislators adopted comprehensive legislation to enact post -2020 climate and energy policy. A revised EU Emissions Trading System ( ETS) Directive, in line with the European Union 's 2030 GHG reduction target, was adopted in March 2018. Regulations on effort -sharing to reduce GHG emissions in the sectors outside the ETS , and on new rules for accounting for and reducing GHG emissions from land use and forestry were adopted in May 2018. In December 2018, the co -legislators adopted a revision of the Renewable Energy Directive that increases the 2030 target for renewable energy mark et share to 32 %. A Regulation concerning post -2020 emissions trading for the aviation sector, taking account of the development of a global market -base d measure in the International Civil Aviation Organi zation , was adopted in December 2017. To decarbonise the transport sector, the Commission presented a European strategy for low emission mobility in July 2016 and a European strategy on cooperative, intelligent transport systems in November 2016. In November 2017, the Commission adopted an action plan for alternative fuels infrastructures . A Regulation on monitoring and reporting of CO2 emi ssions from heavy -duty vehicles entered into force in July 2018. Another, setting post-2020 CO2 targets for cars and vans was adopted in April 2019 , followed by a Regulation setting the first- ever CO2 targe ts for heavy -duty vehicles and a revised D irective on promoting public procurement of clean vehicles in June 2019. The Commission 's October 2018 progress report on climate action, entitled ' EU and the Paris Climate Agreement', estimates that full implementation of the EU legislation adopted in 2018 would result in a 45 % emission reduction by 2030. In November 2018, the Commission adopted the 'clean planet for all' strategy, aiming for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate- neutral economy by
EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service 4 2050. It analyses scenarios for long -term decarbonisation, as a basis for a debate on the transformation towards an emission -neutral economy. Sustainable investments In March 2018, under its capital markets union project and as part of a broader initiative on sustainable development, the European Commission presented an act ion plan on sustainable finance, to facilitate investments in sustainable projects and assets across the EU. The Commission presented a package of measures on the financing of sustainable growth in May 2018. The package includes three proposals aimed at establishing an EU taxonomy on sustainable economic activities, improving disclosure requirements and creating a new category of benchmarks to help investors measure the carbon footprint of their investments. A common language for sustainable finance (e.g. a unified EU classification system, or taxonomy) with a framework of uniform criteria would be established, as a way to det ermine whether a given economic activity is environmentally sustainable. Financial benchmarks have an important impact on investment flows. Many investors rely on them for creating investment products, measuring their performance and devising asset alloca tion strategies. The Commission proposes to create a new category of benchmarks comprising low -carbon and positive -carbon -impact benchmarks, by amending the Benchmark Re gulation. A proposed regulation on disclosures aims to integrate environmental, social and governance considerations into investors' and asset managers' decision -making process es. It also aims to increase the transparency duties of financial intermediaries towards end -investors, with regard to sustainability risks and sustainable investment targets. This should reduce investors' search costs for sustainable investments a nd enable easier comparison between sustainable financial products in the EU. The legislative procedures for the proposals on disclosure and benchmarks are nearly completed, while the proposal on taxonomy await s a decision in Council. Circular economy Policies to enable the transition to a more circular economy were a major focus in the last parliamentary term. In 2015, the European Commission adopted a broad package , with an action plan outlining 54 measures addressing various aspects of the circular economy and focusing on five priority areas (plastics, food waste, critical raw materials, construction and demolition, and biomass and bio -based products). A strategy dedicated to plastics was presented in January 2018. Major pieces of legislation adopted in that context include updated rules on waste, introducing in particular new recycling targets; a new Regulation on fertilising products encouraging the recycling of nutrients in agricultur e; a Directive on port reception facilities for collecting waste from ships; and a Directive to curb marine litter from single -use plastics and fishing gear. A Directive to reduce the use of lightweight plastic carrier bags was adopted earlier in the term. International developments relevant to waste management in Europe include recent amendments to the Basel Convention on hazardous wastes, which will subject cross- border shipments of plastic wastes (either hazardous or hard -to -recycle) to the Convention' s control mechanisms, i.e. require exporters to obtain the ' informed consent ' from the receiving country before the shipment can take place. Another significant development for the EU waste sector is China 's decision to ban the import of certain waste material, including plastic waste, which came into effect in January 2018. The country used to receive 85 % of the EU 's plastic waste exports.
Frans Timmermans: VP European Green Deal 5 Priorities and challenges President-elect von der Leyen's political guidelines In her political guidelines for the next Commission, President -elect Ursula von der Leyen outlines a plan for a European Green Deal that would set Europe on a path towards becoming the first climate -neutral continent by 2050. She presents this as the 'greatest challenge and opportunity of our times', requiring decisive action, investment in innovation a nd research, a redesign of the EU economy and an updated industrial policy. Specific actions would include extension of the Emission Trading System to the maritime sector and gradual reduction of free emission allowances for airlines. To ensure a level pla ying field for European companies, a carbon border tax, compliant with World Trade Organization rules, would be introduced gradually. The Energy Taxation Directive would also be reviewed. Von der Leyen promises to propose the European Green Deal in her first 100 days in office, as well as to enshrine the 2050 climate -neutrality target in a new European climate law. To support the people and regions most affected by the transition towards climate neutrality, the political guidelines announce a new Just Transition Fund. The need for greater motivation and education would be addressed by a European Climate Pact , gathering together regions, local communities, civil society, industry and schools to develop and commit to a set of pledges to change behaviour, by everyone , from individual citizens to large multinational companies. A Sustainable Europe Investment Plan would help to mobilise around '‚¬1 trillion of investment over the next decade. As part of the plan for a 'European Green Deal', the political guidelines include commitments to present a biodiversity strategy for 2030; a 'Farm to Fork Strategy' on sustainable food along the whole value chain; a cross -cutting strategy to protect citizens' health from pollution, covering air and water quality, hazardous chemicals, industrial emissions, pesticides and endocrine disrupters; and a new circular economy action plan focusing on specific sectors (textiles and construction); as well as to tackle micro- plastics. The strategic agenda 2019 -2024, adopted in June 2019 by the European Council , sets out a vision on a climate -neutral, green, fair and social Europe. Key missions entrusted to the EU under this initiative include further improv ements to the urban and rural environment; enhancing the quality of air and water; promoting sustainable agriculture; and leading efforts to fight biodiversity loss and preserve environmental sys tems, including oceans. The agenda stresses the need for a deep transformation of the EU economy and society to achieve climate neutrality, conducted in a way that is socially just and accommodates national circumstances. The emergence of new social moveme nts like the 'yellow vests' and 'Fridays for future ' underlines the importance of the social aspects of the low -carbon transition. Following up on the Commission 's clean planet strategy , the EU will develop its long -term low -carbon strategy under the Paris Agreement. The European Council intends to finalise its guidance before the end of the year, with a view to the adoption and submission of the EU 's long- term strategy to the UNFCCC in early 2020. This is also a priority for the Finnish Council P residency. A large majority of Member States favour climate neutrality in the EU by 2050 '' in line with the previous Parliament 's position '' but the June 2019 European Council could not reach a unanimous con clusion on the date. In international climate diplomacy, the climate change conference in Santiago de Chile (COP 25, 2019) is expected to finalise the rulebook for the Paris Agreement by completing negotiations on article 6 ( international carbon markets ). Negotiations on implementing the agreements on climate action in the aviation and shipping sectors will continue in the International Civil Aviation Organi zation and the International Maritime Organi zation. Biodiversity conservation '' an important concern for a majority of citizens '' is a pressing challenge. The first global assessment of the state of nature , released by the Intergovernmental Science -Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem S ervices (IPBES) in May 2019, points to an unprecedented and accelerating decline. It warns that human activity, responsible for significant alteration of 75 % of the land -based and about 66 % of the marine environment, is driving one million species to extinction. At its meeting in October 2020, the conference of the parties to the UN
EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service 6 Convention on Biological Diversity (including the EU) is expected to adopt the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, with conservation goals for the next decade. In this context, the Commission could put forward a successor to the EU biodiversity strategy, reflecting developments at international level. Public opinion A 2017 special Eurobarometer survey showed that protecting the environment is important for 94 % of Europeans. Respondents considered climate change (51 %); air pollution (46 %); and the growing amount of waste (40 %) to be the most important environmental issues, followed by the pollution of rivers, lakes and ground water (36 %). A 2018 poll conducted for the European Parliament revealed that 75 % of EU citizens support increased EU action on environmental protection. In the Spring 2019 Eurobarometer survey, climate change and environment was one of the topics that rose in importance: 43 % of respondents said that these issu es should be debated as a matter of priority during the electoral campaign, a gain of 3 percentage points compared to the previous edition. Among the respondents that intended to vote in the European elections, climate change was ranked as the most importa nt topic (55 %). Combating climate change and environmental protection was the top issue in seven Member States (Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany), two more than in the September 2018 edition. First results of Parliament's post-electoral survey show that among the top issues that impacted on citizens' voting decisions, combating climate c hange and protecting the environment rank second (together with promoting human rights and democracy, 37 %), following economy and growth (44 %). The latest Standard Eurobarometer sur vey released in August 2019 confirms that environment and climate change are issues of increasing concern to Europeans. European Parliament Treaty basis and E uropean Parliament competence EU environmental policy is based on Articles 191 to 193 of the Trea ty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Article 11 TFEU also requires environmental protection to be taken into account in other EU policies (a process known as 'mainstreaming'). Combating climate change has been an explicit EU objective since the Lisbon Treaty. Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) lists climate action as one of the objectives of EU environmental policy. Environmental polici es are a shared competence between the EU and Member States, and subject to the ordinary legislative procedure (co- decision by Parliament and Council), with the exception of fiscal matters, town and country planning, land use, quantitative water resources management, choice of energy sources and structure of energy supply, which require unanimity in the Council. For the EU to become a party to international agreements, the Parliament must give its consent. In the area of climate action , the Parliament is co-legislator under the ordinary legislative procedure. The Parliament set out its views on the energy union in its resolution of December 2015, reiterating its calls for mor e ambitious targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy. In the legislative process, the Parliament succeeded in raising the 2030 targets beyond the levels set out by the European Council. A parliamentary delegation participated in the annual UN climate conferences , notably the COP21 in Paris . In preparation of the 2018 climate change conference in Katowice, Poland, the Parliament adopted a resolution advocating a 1.5°C global warming target and calling for a 55 % emission reduction in the EU by 2030 . In March 2019, the Parliament adopted a resolution on climate change, welcoming the Commission 's 'clean planet strategy ' and calling for an overarching approach towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050. A strong advocate of the transition to the circular economy, Parliament has been a supporter of ambitious policies in the field to date. Its long -standing demands to the Commission in relation to resource efficiency include a call for a review of eco -design legislation and relevant product -policy
Frans Timmermans: VP European Green Deal 7 legislation, for the gradual inclusion of mandatory resource- efficiency requirements for product design, and for new public procurement procedures to encourage circular products and business models. Encouraging the uptake of secondary raw materials, e.g. by considering the introduction of requirements on minimum recycled content in specific products, and dealing with chemicals of concern to ensure the development of non- toxic material cycles, have also been important issues for Parliament in recent years. Improving the implementation of environmental legislation is a key cross -cutting priority repeatedly underlined by Parliament over the years , most recently in relation to waste. Overarching initiatives that the Parliament has indicated that it expects from the Commission in the near future include, besides the proposal for an eighth e nvironmental action programme , a comprehensive framework strategy on the implementation of the sustainable development goals in the EU, with a review mechanism to assess progress. In its April 2018 resolution, it called explicitly on the Commission to dedicate 'a priority area' to sustainable development, environment and climate in the new legislative term .
EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service 8 FURTHER READINGCombating climate change, Factsheets on the European Union, European Parliament, 2019. Climate action, European Commission (website). Amanatidis G., European policies on climate and energy towards 2020, 2030 and 2050, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Eur opean Parliament, January 2019 . EU Environment and Climate Change Policies: State of play, current and future challenges, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, European Parliament, September 2019. Erbach G., COP24 climate change conference: Outcomes, European Parliamentary Research Service, European Parliament, January 2019. A just energy transition, opportunity for EU industries, the role of hydrogen in the future and the example of energy transition in Germany, Directorate -General for Internal Policies, European Parliament, June 2019. Circular economy (interactive infographics), European Parliamentary Research Service, European Parliament. Bourguignon D., Safeguarding biological diversity: EU policy and international agreements, European Parliamentary Research Service, European Parliament, May 2016 . Biodiversity, land use and forestry, Factsheets on the European Union, European Parliament , 2018. Bourguignon D., Air quality: Pollution sources and impacts, EU legislation and international agreements, European Parliamentary Research Service , European Parliament, July 2018. Spinaci S., Sustainable finance and disclosures: Bringing clarity to investors, European Parliamentary Research Servic e, European Parliament, March 2019 . Spinaci S., Sustainable finance and benchmarks: Low -carbon benchmarks and positive -carbon-impact benchmarks, Europea n Parliamentary Research Service, European Parliament, April 2019 . Spinaci S., Sustainable finance '' EU taxonomy: A framework to facilitate sustainable investment, European Parliamentary Research Service, European Parliament, April 2019 . Environment policy, Factsheets on the European Union, European Parliament, 201 9. What Europe does for me, European Parliament (website) . DISCLAIMER AND COPYRIGHT This document is prepared for, and addressed to, the Members and staff of the European Parliament as background material to assist them in their parliamentary work. The content of the document is the sole responsibility of its author(s) and any opinions expressed herein should not be taken to represent an official position of the Parliament. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy. (C) European Union, 2019. Photo credits: (C) European Union, 2019; EC - Audiovisual Service: Lukasz Kobus. eprs@ep.europa.eu (contact) www.eprs.ep.parl.union.eu (intranet) www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank (internet) http://epthinktank.eu (blog)
Trump Weighing 100% Tariffs On EU Products Including Irish Whiskey, Cognac, Spanish Olive Oil And French Cheese
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:40
The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has published a new list of additional European products that it's reviewing in the Section 301 investigation involving the enforcement of US WTO rights.
The notice contains a list of products, initially published in April 2019 and July 2019. The extended list is weighing the idea that 100% tariffs could be seen on products from almost every country in Europe. Some of these products include whiskeys, virgin olive oil, yogurt, cheese, knives, tools, liqueurs, and dozens of other products.
The list published earlier this year is worth more than $10 billion. The USTR is hoping to weaponize tariffs to force Europe to cut subsidies to its manufacturing base.
Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling, quoted by CNBC, said the list of potentially tariffed European goods "once again includes blended whiskeys and Cognac ... The fact that they had been excluded from the 'final' October list was a dodged bullet for Spirits companies back then. But now the threat is back."
"This is a full reshuffle '' we are potentially seeing a rolling tariff, which we highlighted as a possibility two months ago," Stirling added.
The USTR's weaponization of tariffs are in direct response to pressure Europe to cut subsidies to Airbus as it alleges these unfair practices hurt Boeing.
Also, consider how Boeing is in a crisis and the groundings of the 737 Max have boosted production and sales of the Airbus A320neo, which by late 2019, has outpaced Boeing in orders. Just this development alone has angered the Trump administration.
USTR's office said in a Dec. 2 statement: "As a result of the EU's failure to address these subsidies, on October 18, the United States imposed tariffs of 10% on large civil aircraft and 25% on agricultural and other products."
USTR added that "the United States is initiating a process to assess increasing the tariff rates and subjecting additional EU products to the tariffs," because Europe has failed to decrease subsidies to its manufacturers.
It seems that President Trump's confidence as a protectionist has soared since reaching a phase one trade deal with China on Friday, that his administration is now ready to intensify a trade war with Europe.
Two for One Holiday Special - Kunstler
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:29
Clusterfuck NationFor your reading pleasure Mondays and Fridays
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Hillary Clinton sure got her money's worth with the Fusion GPS deal: it induced a three-year psychotic break in the body politic, destroyed the legitimacy of federal law enforcement, turned a once-proud, free, and rational press into an infernal engine of bad faith, and is finally leading her Democratic Party to an ignominious suicide. And the damage is far from complete. It's even possible that Mrs. Clinton will return to personally escort the party over the cliff when, as is rumored lately, she jumps into the primary contest and snatches the gonfalon of leadership from the ailing old man of the sclerotic status quo, Uncle Joe Biden.
The citizens of this foundering polity have been subjected to a stunning doubleheader of political spectacle clear through the week. On Monday, the Horowitz Report was briefly celebrated by the Left for claiming ''no bias'' and a ''reasonable predicate'' for the RussiaGate mess '-- until auditors actually got to read the 400-plus-page document and discovered that it was absolutely stuffed with incriminating details that Mr. Horowitz was too polite, too coy, or too faint-hearted to identify as acts worthy of referral for prosecution.
Mr. Barr, the attorney general, and US attorney John Durham immediately stepped up to set the record straight, namely, that this was hardly the end of the matter and that they were privy to fact-trains of evidence that would lead, by-and-by, to a quite different conclusion. This reality-test was greeted, of course, with shrieking for their dismissal from the Jacobin Left. But then at mid-week, Mr. Horowitz put in a personal appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee and left no doubt that entire RussiaGate extravaganza was spawned by Fusion GPS's utterly false Steele dossier and the so-called ''Intel Community's'' zeal for weaponizing it to overthrow the president.
The shock-waves from all that still pulsate through the disordered collective consciousness of this sore-beset republic, and will disturb the sleep of many former and current officials for months to come as the specter of Barr & Durham transmutes into a nightmare of Hammer & Tongs, perp-walks, and actual prosecutions. The utter falsity of the Steele dossier seems not to have yet penetrated the minds of Dean Baquet and Martin Baron, editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post, the head cheerleaders for the seditious coup by the security state. Their obdurate mendacity can no longer be attributed to a simple quest for clicks and eyeballs. It speaks to a sickness of mind that has infected the whole thinking class of America as it succumbed to the ultimate smashing of boundaries: the one between what is real and what is not real (or what is true and what is not true.)
All the week long, the Horowitz Report and its aftershocks were attended by the impeachment show in Jerrold Nadler's House Judiciary Committee '-- an exercise so devoid of sense and prudence that it would embarrass all the kangaroos ever assembled in the courts of legend. As I write early Friday morning, Mr. Nadler's majority is preparing to report out two dubious articles of impeachment: ''abuse of power'' and ''contempt of congress.'' As is always the case with the Resistance, Mr. Nadler's posse is projecting on its enemy the very offenses it commits. One senses that the voters are seeing through this feeble hocus-pocus, and that even members of the greater Democratic caucus in the house may be getting the heebie-jeebies about staking their political futures on a vote for this idiocy.
A trial in the senate would be a ripe entertainment fer sure! Bring it on! For one thing, the procedure would ascertain finally that Mr. Eric Ciaramella does not qualify as a ''whistleblower'' but is rather a rogue CIA agent (from a rogue agency) helping to carry out a seditious conspiracy. The defense should call him to the stand, along with his enabler Michael Atkinson, the ''Intel Community'' Inspector General who flouted and altered the rules in the whistleblower ploy '-- and who, by the way, was formerly at the center of the RussiaGate mess when he worked as chief counsel to then assistant attorney general John P. Carlin, one of the instigators of the ''Crossfire Hurricane'' overture to RussiaGate. It could benefit the nation to hear testimony from shrinking violet Gina Haspel, the current CIA Director nobody has ever heard of. What does she know about Mr. Ciaramella's role in this melodrama, who detailed him to the National Security Council, who supervised him, and who exactly were his associates?
And, of course, not a few fair-minded people would be interested to hear from Rep. Adam Schiff, who engineered the ''whistleblower's'' entry into his concocted UkraineGate sequel to the now discredited RussiaGate ruse. Get Mr. Schiff under oath. He is almost certain to lie about his activities, and that will certainly get him expelled from congress in disgrace, along with losing his license to practice law. Bring in Hunter Biden and ask him to explain whether he was busted for crack cocaine in a rent-a-car before-or-after he was hired to serve on the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company. Bring in Lt. Col. Vindman, bring in Daniel Goldman, bring them all in and compel their testimony under penalty of perjury. This will eventually get America right in its weakened mind.
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James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling '-- A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.
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Kangaroo court - Wikipedia
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:29
A session of the
People's Court in Nazi Germany, widely described as a
kangaroo courtA kangaroo court is a court that ignores recognized standards of law or justice, and often carries little or no official standing in the territory within which it resides.[1] The term may also apply to a court held by a legitimate judicial authority which intentionally disregards the court's legal or ethical obligations. The defendants in such courts are often denied access to legal representation and in some cases, proper defence and the right of appeal.
Prejudicial bias of the decision-maker or from political decree are among the most publicized causes of kangaroo courts.[citation needed ] Such proceedings are often held to give the appearance of a fair and just trial, even though the verdict was already decided before the trial actually began.
A kangaroo court could also develop when the structure and operation of the forum result in an inferior brand of adjudication. A common example of this is when institutional disputants ("repeat players") have excessive and unfair structural advantages over individual disputants ("one-shot players").[2]
Etymology [ edit ] The term kangaroo court is often erroneously believed to have its origin from the courts of Australia's penal colonies.[3] The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first published instance of the term as from an American source, A Stray Yankee in Texas by Philip Paxton, published in the year 1853.[4] There are, however, earlier instances of the term including an 1841 article in The Daily Picayune in New Orleans that quotes another publication, the Concordia Intelligencer reporting several lynchings instituted "on charges of the Kangaroo court." The Picayune article also asks "What is a Kangaroo court, neighbor?"[5] Some sources suggest that it may have been popularized during the California Gold Rush of 1849 to which many thousands of Australians flocked. In consequence of the Australian diggers' presence, it may have come about as a description of the hastily carried-out proceedings used to deal with the issue of claim jumping miners.[3] Ostensibly, the term comes from the notion of justice proceeding "by leaps", like a kangaroo[6] '' in other words, "jumping over" (intentionally ignoring) evidence that would be in favour of the defendant. An alternative theory is that as these courts are often convened quickly to deal with an immediate issue, they are called kangaroo courts as they have "jumped up" out of nowhere like a kangaroo. Another possibility is that the phrase could refer to the pouch of a kangaroo, meaning the court is in someone's pocket. The phrase is popular in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand and is still in common use.[7] It is also possible that the Australian miners used it to describe the actions of local American vigilantes who, because of claims of lawlessness amongst the Australians, took matters into their own hands to the point of hanging several without trial.[citation needed ] In South Korea, the equivalent term for a kangaroo court is "people's trial", originating from the time of the Korean War when such courts operated in South Korea during North Korean occupation.[8]
As informal proceedings in sports [ edit ] The term is sometimes used without any negative connotation. For example, many Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball teams have a kangaroo court to punish players for errors and other mistakes on the field, as well as for being late for a game or practice, not wearing proper attire to road games, or having a messy locker in the clubhouse. Fines are allotted, and at the end of the year, the money collected is given to charity. The organization may also use the money for a team party at the end of the season.[9]
Examples [ edit ] Some examples of adjudication venues described as kangaroo courts are the People's Court (Volksgerichtshof) of Nazi Germany that convicted people who were suspected of being involved with the failed plot to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944.
Another example is the trial of Pol Pot and his brother Ieng San by the People's Revolutionary Tribunal in Cambodia in August 1979. After a lengthy trial with a duration of five days, both were sentenced to death in absentia on August 19, 1979.[10] Conclusive evidence showed that the verdicts and the sentencing papers had been prepared in advance of the trial.[11] Relying on this evidence the United Nations proceeded to delegitimize the tribunal stating that it did not comply with standards of international law.[10]
During the Romanian Revolution in 1989, President and Communist Party General Secretary Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were sentenced to death by a kangaroo court of soldiers from the Romanian People's Army, which had recently switched to the side of the revolutionaries.
See also [ edit ] References [ edit ] ^ "kangaroo court". Merriam-Webster Dictionary . Retrieved November 11, 2011 . ^ Stempel, Jeffrey W. 8 Nev. L.J. 251 (2007''2008) Keeping Arbitrations from becoming Kangaroo Courts ^ a b Adams, Cecil. "What's the origin of "kangaroo court"? Is "kangaroo" aborigine for "I don't know"?". The Straight Dope . Retrieved October 1, 2012 . ^ "kangaroo court". Oxford English Dictionary. ^ "Don't Comprehend". The Daily Picayune. August 24, 1841. p. 2 . Retrieved October 9, 2019 '' via Newspapers.com. ^ "Minor League Baseball In this court most anything goes". The Bulletin. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. ^ "Kangaroo Court". Legal Dictionary. ^ Myers, B.R. (August 20, 2019). " ' Conspiracy Theory'?". Sthele Press . Retrieved September 19, 2019 . Let's remember not only how many South Koreans were killed, injured or abducted during a war the North started, but also that one of the most shocking parts of that conflict for people who experienced KPA occupation was seeing neighbors emerge on day one as fully-formed, snitching supporters of the enemy. Many bore titles in the underground organizations to which, it turned out, they had belonged for years. In several recorded cases they denounced people who were shot on the spot. That trauma sits deep. South Koreans still use the term 'people's trial' (inmin chaep'an) in the sense in which we say 'kangaroo court.' ^ Bouton, Jim (1990). Ball Four (2nd ed.). Wiley. ISBN 0-02-030665-2. ^ a b Schlund-Vials, C. J. (2012), War, Genocide and Justice, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press ^ Chandler, David (2008). "Cambodia Deals with its Past: Collective Memory, Demonisation and Induced Amnesia". Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions. 9 (2''3): 355''369. doi:10.1080/14690760802094933. Further reading [ edit ] Carter, R.M. (1958). The Kangaroo Court in American Jails. University of California, Berkeley. 288 pages.External links [ edit ] The Straight Dope: What's the origin of "kangaroo court"?
Fact check: Trump says Democrats misquoted his call. He's correct.
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:25
President Trump alleged that Democratic Reps. Veronica Escobar and Sheila Jackson Lee ''purposely misquoted'' his call with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in a Tweet this morning.
Facts First: Trump is correct that the call was misquoted during today's debate over the articles of impeachment in the House Judiciary committee.
In the declassified memo of the July 25 phone call between Trump and President Zelensky, the President says, ''I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot.''
During the debate over impeachment articles, Rep. Escobar, using an analogy to stress the alleged problem in Trump's phone call with Zelensky, said ''I want you to do me a favor though.'' This quote replaces the word ''us'' found in the memo on the call, with the word ''me.''
Rep. Jackson, when quoting the memo of the call, said that the quote was ''I would like you to do a favor though'' '-- removing ''us'' from the quote.
As the President tweeted this, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan was making the same points at the hearing.
Last week, Professor Pamela Karlan argued that Trump was using the ''royal we'' in that sentence and actually asking for a personal favor. But Republicans and Trump have repeatedly claimed the President was asking for a favor for the national interest instead.
Read the full tweet below:
J. Scott Applewhite/APSpeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was asked if she's concerned about Democratic members possibly not voting for the articles of impeachment.
While some vulnerable Democrats in swing districts would defect, we're not expecting mass defections, and Democrats will likely have more than enough votes for final passage.
Pelosi said representatives must decide for themselves how to vote '-- but said the "facts are clear."
"The facts are clear, irrefutable, in fact, and we've given the President every opportunity to demonstrate any exculpatory information he may have," she said.
"We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," she added.
The House Judiciary Committee, which is currently debating the articles of impeachment, is expected to approve them today. After that, it will go to the full House for a vote. Approval there would mean President Trump would officially be impeached.
PoolRep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, said that the impeachment debate "just lacks a certain sincerity" this morning.
He mentioned Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell in his remarks:
"I heard earlier Mr. Swalwell list out all these crimes," the congressman said. "If I'm watching at home I'm thinking, 'well, where are they in the impeachment?' That is just a Democrat drive-by, to go and list crimes that you don't allege and that you don't have evidence for."
"If there is ever a microcosm of how to consume this day and the importance of it with the American people," Gaetz continued. "It's that they're naming crimes in debate that they don't even have in their impeachment resolution because they can't prove them, because there are no underlying facts."
The congressman also criticized Democrats for "crying these alligator tears, clutching their pearls, over this notion that Trump didn't give this aid" while not raising the same concerns over Ukraine during Obama's presidency.
PoolSheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic representative from Texas, called President Trump "a continuing threat not only to democracy but to our national security."
The congresswoman read aloud from a printout of Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine, highlighting lines in which the President asked for a "favor" and discussed military equipment.
"The next sentence should have been, I think, 'we are well aware of your difficult predicament. Going to have you talk to the secretary of defense," Jackson Lee said. "But it said, a couple of sentences later, 'I'd like the attorney general to call your people and get to the bottom of it, investigation."
"It is not frivolous or without fact that we proceed. We proceed with facts. And we take this in a very somber manner," she said.
Alex Brandon/APRep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Colorado, called for representatives to "dispense with these process arguments" and "stay true to the facts" during today's impeachment hearing.
"I understand that we're going to have a robust debate about the legal standards that govern the inquiry that is before us, the decision we make on these articles," Rep. Neguse said, "but let's stay true to the facts, and let's dispense with these process arguments and get to the substance of why we're here today."
Neguse also said: "I've heard very little in the way of any substantive defenses of the President's conduct."
PoolHouse Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler introduced an amendment to change references of "Donald J. Trump" to "Donald John Trump" in the articles of impeachment.
Doug Collins, the ranking member on the committee, was given time to respond to the amendment '-- and he said it showed the "absurdity" of impeachment.
"The amendment, nature of a substitute is absolutely irrelevant. Taking Donald J. Trump and making it Donald Trump '-- John Trump just simply shows the frankly absurdity of where we're at," Collins said.Instead of responding further to the amendment, he took time to rail against the Democrats' impeachment inquiry process.
"This committee has now sounded the death of minority rights in this committee. This committee has become nothing but a rubber stamp," he said. "Facts be damned. They don't care."
Watch more:
House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler called on a clerk to read the two articles of impeachment against President Trump.
"I now call House resolution 755 impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors," he said.
Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, interrupted Chairman Jerry Nadler to condemn the consideration of articles of impeachment.
"I make a point of order against the consideration of this resolution on the grounds the chairman willfully refused to schedule a properly demanded minority day of hearings," Collins said.
Nadler said the committee would "entertain that point of order" after the resolution has been read.
Watch the moment:
The House Judiciary Committee just gaveled into session. Today, the members are considering amendments to the articles of impeachment against President Trump.
After they finish the amendment process, the committee is expected to approve the articles.
How long will this take? We're not exactly sure. The committee members can go as long as they want today. But there's a congressional ball at the White House at 7 p.m. ET, and according to multiple sources, a number of members '-- particularly Republicans '-- are expected to attend.
Google, Apple asked if apps like TikTok must disclose foreign ties
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:20
FILE PHOTO: Tik Tok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chair of a congressional panel wrote letters to Alphabet's Google and to Apple on Friday to ask what if any disclosures mobile apps are required to make regarding overseas ties, a concern that follows reports of Chinese investment in popular apps like TikTok and Grindr.
Rep. Stephen Lynch, the chairman of a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, said in a statement that he had asked both Google and Apple to inform Congress whether they required app developers to disclose any non-U.S. ties.
Concern over China acquiring sensitive data about U.S. citizens through social media apps is one of several sore areas in relations between the United States and China even as U.S. President Donald Trump's trade war with China fans suspicion between the world's two largest economies.
TikTok, which is wildly popular with teenagers, is owned by the Chinese technology company ByteDance. In a related matter, the Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd has said it would sell popular gay dating app Grindr Inc by June 2020 because of U.S. national security concerns.
''Recent press reports have shed light on allegations that certain foreign companies and developers may be providing sensitive data on U.S. citizens via their mobile applications to their host governments, thereby creating significant national security risks,'' Lynch wrote in similar letters to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
''U.S. laws permit mobile applications to collect massive amounts of personal information about their users,'' the letters said, noting that some of it is sensitive.
Neither Apple nor Google immediately responded to requests for comment.
Because of concern about TikTok, which is under scrutiny from the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), ByteDance has stepped up efforts to separate the popular app from much of its Chinese operations.
CFIUS has sought assurances that personal data held by TikTok is stored securely in the United States and will not be compromised by Chinese authorities.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Nick Macfie
'Not my prime minister', protesters march in London against Johnson - Reuters
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:19
Protesters demonstrate at Downing Street following the result of the general election in London, Britain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
LONDON (Reuters) - Several hundred noisy protesters marched through central London on Friday to protest against Britain's election result, chanting ''Boris Johnson: Not My Prime Minister'' and ''Boris, Boris, Boris: Out, Out, Out''.
The protesters, brandishing signs that read ''Defy Tory (Conservative) Rule'' and ''Refugees Welcome'', walked at speed from outside Johnson's Downing Street residence to Trafalgar Square and on to the theater district, blocking traffic and drawing a heavy police presence.
Johnson's Conservatives won Thursday's election by a large margin. On Friday he called for ''closure'' over the Brexit divisions that have riven the United Kingdom for the past three and a half years.
Reporting by Johnny Cotton; writing by Kate Holton; Editing by Gareth Jones
I need a break, says globetrotting Greta - Reuters
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:19
TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Tireless teenage activist Greta Thunberg has been crisscrossing the globe by car, train and boat - but not plane - to demand action on climate change. But now even she needs a rest.
Fresh from being named Time magazine's Person of the Year, the 16-year-old Swede joined thousands of students in the north Italian city of Turin on Friday for a protest to pressure the government to take more action to curb carbon emissions.
Thunberg, who refuses to fly, travelled to Turin by train and car from Madrid after attending a U.N. climate summit in the Spanish capital. She arrived in Europe only a few days earlier aboard a catamaran after spending months campaigning in the United States.
Now she needs a little downtime.
''I will be home for Christmas and then I will take a holiday break because you need to take rest,'' she told reporters in Turin.
''Otherwise you cannot do this all the time.''
But the renowned activist showed plenty of energy as she addressed the rally in Turin, the birthplace of carmaker Fiat, in one of Italy's main industrial and polluting regions.
''2019 is almost over. We must make sure that 2020 is the year of action, is the year when we bend the global emissions curve,'' she told the youthful crowd.
Slideshow (4 Images) ''We are going to put pressure on those in power, we are going to make sure that they will act and they will take responsibility.''
When she was 15, Thunberg skipped school on Fridays to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament to push her government to curb carbon emissions. Her campaign gave rise to a grassroots movement called Fridays for Future that has gone global, inspiring millions of people to take action.
''We are very excited to have Greta protesting side-by-side with us,'' said fellow activist Elena Costa, 22, from Turin. ''We want to explain our goals to everyone and invite everyone to come Friday after Friday, every single week.''
Reporting by Cristiano Corvino; Writing by Angelo Amante; Editing by Pravin Char
Trump Funds $333Mln Into Federal Programs to Fight US Opioid Crisis '' Justice Department
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:18
US23:04 13.12.2019Get short URL
Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) '' The Trump administration has approved a third of a billion dollars in additional funding to different federal programs to fight the national opioid crisis, the Department of Justice announced in a press release on Friday.
"The Department of Justice today announced awards of more than $333 million to help communities affected by the opioid crisis", the release said. "The funds support families, children and crime victims dealing with the impact of substance abuse, along with first responders".The aid includes $163 million to the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Programs to reduce opioid abuse and mitigate its impact on crime victims, as well as $83.5 million to the Drug Courts Program to assist states and tribes with creating drug courts to help sufferers, the release said.
"The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis this country has ever faced", Attorney General William Barr said in the release.More than 130 Americans are dying per day from opioid-related drug overdoses including heroin and fentanyl, the Department of Justice noted.
Ohio and West Virginia have been particularly affected by the opioid-addiction epidemic.
De realiteit van het front: als de bondgenoten zwalken, zwalkt Nederland mee | De Volkskrant
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:18
Een Nederlandse ISAF-militair van de Bravo Compagnie vraagt aan een groepje Afghaanse mannen of zij zich willen verplaatsen in verband met werkzaamheden aan een weg (2008). Beeld Guus Dubbelman / de VolkskrantThe Afghanistan Papers, deze week gepubliceerd door The Washington Post, schetsen hoe desastreus Amerikaanse diplomaten en militairen de jarenlange missie in Afghanistan vonden terwijl hun politieke bazen mooie praatjes verkochten over 'vooruitgang'. Misleiding van het publiek, concluderen sommige van hen.
Toch klinken de hevige twijfels bekend en vertrouwd. Want zo oud als de missie in Afghanistan is, zo oud zijn de discussies over nut, doel, en haalbaarheid ervan. In Amerika, maar ook in Nederland. Politiek Den Haag wil nu weten of de Nederlandse bijdrage soms ook zinloos en ondoordacht was. En is hier ook een te mooi beeld geschetst?
Uit Afghanistan-brieven van het kabinet rijst tot de dag van vandaag naast realisme ook een optimistisch, toekomstgericht beeld op van Afghanistan. Ze winnen aan realiteitsgehalte als je hier en daar 'zorgwekkend' vervangt door 'rampzalig'. Maar weinig bleef de afgelopen zeventien jaar onbesproken. De dilemma's waren bekend en zijn uitvoerig bediscussieerd. Er viel in 2010 een kabinet over.
Nederlandse betrokkenen wijzen, terugkijkend naar de periode in Uruzgan (2006-2010), waar de meeste van de 25 Nederlandse doden vielen, op de grote verschillen tussen de ruwe, ongepolijste Amerikaanse aanpak en de meer doordachte aanpak van bondgenoten. Nederland smeet geen geld over de balk zonder condities. En de Nederlandse militaire aanpak '' stevig waar nodig, open waar mogelijk '' die echt ge¯ntegreerd was met politieke doelen en opbouwprojecten, was soms succesvol.
Alleen: die resultaten konden na vertrek niet vastgehouden worden. Toenmalig Commandant der Strijdkrachten (CDS) Dick Berlijn zei in 2008 dat het 'generaties' zou duren om echte vooruitgang te bewerkstelligen. Maar Nederland had en heeft daar het militaire vermogen niet voor, en een eenduidige overkoepelende strategie ontbrak al die jaren. De Amerikanen hebben 'ongelofelijk gezwalkt', zegt een Haagse ingewijde.
Tot het afwijzen van de hele missie heeft dat in Den Haag nooit geleid. Voor Nederland is uitgangspunt, zo bevestigde premier Rutte onlangs, dat wij voor onze veiligheid afhankelijk zijn van de VS. Den Haag, en tot op zekere hoogte ook de Navo, volgde Washington. Zeker bij deze missie, die tot stand kwam niet lang nadat de bondgenoot voor het eerst Artikel 5 had ingeroepen wegens de aanslagen op Amerika van 9/11. De Irak-oorlog leidde tot grote tweespalt, de Afghanistan-missie moest de alliantie redden.
Kortom, Nederland kan zich de luxe van onafhankelijk, strategisch nadenken vaak niet veroorloven. Het betonen van solidariteit met bondgenoten via concrete bijdragen is maatgevend '' met inachtneming van de steeds langere verlanglijstjes uit de Tweede Kamer en als medicijn tegen de existentile angst onder generaals dat ze bij niet-inzet helemaal wegbezuinigd worden.
Afhankelijkheid van de grillen van de Amerikanen en die van het eigen parlement, dat zijn zo'n beetje de marges van het Nederlandse veiligheidsbeleid. Geen uitkijk in de nok, maar hokken in Plato's grot. We kleuren ons vlakje in het kleurboek zo bekwaam mogelijk in, maar de vraag of we wel in het juiste kleurboek bezig zijn is zelden leidend.
Een ingewijde van Defensie noemt de Amerikaanse insteek in Afghanistan 'het zoveelste voorbeeld dat je als zendeling naar een land gaat in de veronderstelling dat je die lui kunt uitleggen hoe het allemaal moet, waarbij je je weinig gelegen laat liggen aan de culturele omstandigheden'.
Een Mercedes Jeep van de Bravo Compagnie passeert een groep Afghanen tijdens een patrouille (2008). Beeld Guus Dubbelman / de VolkskrantNederland pakte het beter aan, vinden we zelf, maar ons vermogen missies voort te zetten is zodanig geslonken dat we uiteindelijk ook telkens weer de bondgenoten teleurstellen. Dat is de 'zielige sequentie' waarin Nederland gevangen zit: meedoen uit solidariteit met de bondgenoten, maar dan moeten afhaken tot irritatie van diezelfde bondgenoten. Precies zo ging het in Mali, alleen toen met de Fransen.
Oud-CDS Berlijn benadrukt dat Nederland 'nooit zo'n negatief gevoel' heeft gehad als de Amerikanen blijkbaar hadden. 'En dat hebben ze in de Navo ook nooit met ons gedeeld. Natuurlijk hadden we meer willen bereiken, maar ik sta nog steeds volledig achter de missie.' Hij benadrukt dat Nederland een 'ander begrip van de situatie' had dan de VS. 'We waren het niet eens met hun keiharde manier van optreden.'
Berlijn erkent dat in operaties buiten Europa de belangen met de VS vaak niet synchroon lopen en 'dan gaat het schuren'. Niettemin heeft hij moeite met de verontwaardiging over de missie die deze week te horen viel. 'Je kunt niet zeggen: we gaan deze missie doen, en dan achteraf komen met ''het was een waardeloze missie''. Dat is immoreel, ook naar de nabestaanden.' Cynisme achteraf is makkelijk, zegt een andere betrokkene. 'Maar het is allemaal niet zo zwart-wit.'
Toch blijft Nederland met knagende vragen zitten. Wat helpt het als de inzet in Uruzgan zinvol was als, ook internationaal, de wil en het vermogen ontbreken die resultaten vast te houden? Wat helpt het als Nederland tactisch juist opereert, maar als de overkoepelende strategie zwabbert en veelal op foute aannames over Afghanistan is gebaseerd?
Het is de vraag of er snel weer zo'n 'open-ended' missie als in Afghanistan zal komen voor Nederland. Sinds 2014 richt de Navo zich weer op de verdediging van Europa. Afghanistan is als raison d'ªtre voor de alliantie niet langer nodig. En Nederland is door jarenlange bezuinigingen sowieso niet meer in staat tot langere militaire bijdragen van enige omvang.
Aan de andere kant: Nederland blijft voor zijn veiligheid afhankelijk van anderen. En dus van het tonen van solidariteit. Het is dus een kwestie van tijd tot het volgende telefoontje uit Washington. Of Londen of Parijs.
China's economy is in more trouble than markets think - Nikkei Asian Review
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:05
China's economic slowdown just got real. The world is well aware that Asia's biggest economy is growing at its slowest pace since 1992. The 6% growth in gross domestic product recorded for July to September reflects a rapid weakening of demand from abroad as the trade war damages production.
Yet three developments last week suggest China may be in more trouble than President Xi Jinping's government admits.
First, warning signs are flashing over corporate profits. Beijing's official data on GDP, inflation and production often generate doubt, but China Inc.'s deterioration is unmistakable.
Last week, the Nikkei Asian Review detected cratering profits in the first nine months of 2019 across a broad range of pivotal industries. Carmakers, commodity producers, bricks-and-mortar retailers and some property developers are in the red -- dramatically, in certain cases.
These are all the sectors any government would target to support growth, yet each is caught between U.S. President Donald Trump's trade war and Xi Jinping's attack on financial excess. Along with the trade fallout, industries including autos are smarting as the government cuts subsidies.
Empty auto showrooms may be the most obvious economic indicator: Nikkei reported a year-on-year drop in net profits of almost a third at 161 auto-related domestically listed companies in the first nine months of 2019.
More broadly, said research company Shanghai DZH, aggregate net profits of more than 3,600 nonfinancial names fell 2.2% during that period.
This is not an epic decline, but it belies the conventional wisdom that growth is stabilizing. Instead, Xi's team has a traction problem. Traditional pump-priming -- public works spending, tax cuts, local-government debt issuance -- is not working its magic.
This has the central bank springing into action, our second indication China Inc. is reeling. In recent months, the People's Bank of China stayed largely in the background as GDP dipped toward 5% territory. That changed last week when Governor Yi Gang cut interest rates on one-year loans.
That was not a massive easing -- from 3.3% to 3.25%. Yet PBOC watchers are now wagering on reductions in the benchmark lending rate. So far, says analyst Andrew Batson of Gavekal Research, the PBOC has been focused on "selective easing," or incremental rate moves to reduce strains in credit markets.
"It is almost as if their plan is to kill economic pessimism by inflicting the infamous death by a thousand cuts," he says.
The five-basis-point cut in one-year rates hints at a more assertive posture. It is a balancing act, though. Since taking the helm in March 2018, Yi has sought to wean state-owned enterprises and banks off excessive stimulus. The concern is that banks would resume lending to their riskiest borrowers; bad loans jumped 4.3% in the third quarter.
The concern is banks would resume lending to their riskiest borrowers. (C) Reuters The trade war is forcing Yi's hand. Factory prices are veering toward outright deflation. Not Japan-like "lost decade" stuff, but the 1.2% drop in producer prices in September year-on-year is more alarming than the fall in corporate profits.
The third indicator of trouble is that Xi wants to make a deal. In recent months, Trump tried to claim Washington and Beijing were on the verge of a giant trade pact -- only to see Beijing deny it. Last week, it was Xi's team moving markets with talk of detente. On November 7, both sides confirmed tariffs may be rolled back in a "phase one" trade deal.
It is far from the comprehensive redesign of Sino-U.S. dynamics Trump promised -- more like a face-saving strategy than the realignment of advantages or incentives. Yet it would be a boon for export-dependent Asia and trade-battle-weary markets.
Like Trump, Xi is keen to rack up his own wins on the global stage. A clear one last week was French leader Emmanuel Macron jetting to Beijing. In decades past, European leaders would raise global concerns on trade, climate change and Iran with the American president. Macron seeking an audience with Xi instead had plenty of geostrategic symbolism.
Emmanuel Macron seeking an audience with Xi Jinping had plenty of geostrategic symbolism. (C) AP Ending outright trade hostilities would buttress China's trustworthiness as a more stable partner than Trump Nation and would set China aside from the anti-free trade crowd.
That crowd includes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who last week wrecked India's standing in this regard by rejecting the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade deal. Japan's Shinzo Abe is squandering Tokyo's capitalist street cred in his bilateral brawl with South Korea.
In the short run, a truce with Trump relieves pressure on China's all-important export sector so that Beijing can keep growth north of 6%. Longer term, it allows Xi's team to prepare China Inc. to dominate the future of automation, renewable energy, biotechnology and self-driving vehicles.
Neither outcome is likely, though, if Xi limps into the new year. Warning signs emanating from corporate China demand immediate attention. The good news is that the PBOC seems to be on the case, as does Xi's trade negotiation team.
It is no sure bet, though, that Xi and Trump will suspend the hostilities. Trump's policies are a study in chaos and incoherence. One thing is clear: China must act assertively to get ahead of mounting risks to its economic trajectory.
William Pesek is an award-winning Tokyo-based journalist and author of "Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japan's Lost Decades."
Former FBI analyst Mark Tolson admits snooping on anti-Mueller conspiracy theorist - The Washington Post
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:02
A former analyst for the FBI admitted Tuesday to copying the private emails of a conservative conspiracy theorist and sharing them with his superiors while his wife offered them to the press.
Mark Tolson, 60, pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria , Va., to one misdemeanor count of accessing without authorization the email account of lobbyist Jack Burkman. Burkman is identified in the court documents by the initials ''J.B.''
Tolson's wife, Sarah Gilbert Fox, worked for Burkman from October 2017 to early summer 2018 and had access to his email, according to a statement of facts. Tolson learned in October that Burkman, who gained prominence for conspiracy theories about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, was planning a news conference claiming that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III committed sexual assault. The woman never appeared, and Mueller asked the FBI to examine claims that she was offered money to fabricate the accusation. Burkman has denied offering anyone money for testimony.
According to prosecutors, Tolson asked his wife to see whether she still had access to Burkman's account, and they spent 15 or 20 minutes reviewing, photographing and printing ''emails of interest.'' When they tried to log in again, they were denied access.
Fox and Tolson both then contacted a reporter to share the information and offered to provide Burkman's password. The reporter declined to accept the password.
On Nov. 1, 2018, Tolson emailed an FBI official to request a meeting on an ''urgent'' matter, according to the statement of facts. They met later that day, and Tolson handed over an envelope containing the emails, which he believed might be ''illegal.''
Burkman's partner in the Mueller stunt, a young conservative operative named Jacob Wohl, was recently charged with a felony in California in connection with a house-flipping scheme. Burkman was also the victim of another crime related to his conspiratorial work; last year a man he hired to investigate Rich's death shot and nearly killed him after a falling out.
Tolson, who has left the FBI, agreed to forfeit two phones and two computers and avoid contact with Burkman, his neighbor in Arlington. He was released on bond until sentencing on Dec. 20. The charge carries a maximum sentence of one year.
Tolson's attorney declined to comment on the case, as did spokespeople for the FBI and the Eastern District of Virginia.
''It's very sad,'' Burkman said Tuesday. ''I feel sorry for his family. Let's hope there is significant jail time here.''
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Pinterest and The Knot will no longer promote former slave plantations as wedding venues
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 14:59
The Knot and Pinterest, two popular sites used by couples to plan their weddings, said on Wednesday that they are making changes to ensure former slave plantations aren't romanticized as wedding venues.
Both sites announced the changes after being contacted by Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy group. The changes were first reported by BuzzFeed.
''Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things. We are grateful to Color of Change for bringing attention to this disrespectful practice,'' Pinterest told NBC News.
Pinterest will change its policies to limit the distribution of plantation content by turning off search recommendations, autocomplete and email notifications. The platform's team is also working to deindex plantation content so it doesn't appear in online search results.
Anyone who searches for plantation-related content on Pinterest will also see an advisory that some of the results may violate Pinterest's policies. Additionally, Pinterest will make sure no ads show on those search results so the company does not make money from them.
''They aren't tributes to innovation and hard work and agriculture. They are sites of forced labor, beatings, and rapes and so much more and some of the worst human rights abuses the world has seen. To have your celebration there is to give clear celebration to this.''
Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change
While The Knot will still allow plantations to advertise as wedding venues, it is working with Color of Change on new guidelines to be released in the coming weeks that will limit the adjectives that can be used to describe a venue.
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"Our goal is to ensure that the content of all of our vendors on our sites is respectful and considerate to everyone," The Knot said in a statement to NBC News. "We're currently working with Color of Change to create additions to our current content guidelines that will ensure all couples feel welcomed and respected on our sites. These guidelines will prohibit any vendors on The Knot or WeddingWire from using language that romanticizes or glorifies a history that includes slavery. We will remove any vendors from our sites that do not comply. By creating these guidelines, we are providing a respectful experience for all couples, wedding professionals, and employees."
The new rules will apply to all venues, not just plantations, ensuring that venue owners don't try to get around the rules by rebranding as a manor, for example.
''More work has to be done, so people recognize what these sites are,'' Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, told NBC News. ''They aren't tributes to innovation and hard work and agriculture. They are sites of forced labor, beatings, and rapes and so much more and some of the worst human rights abuses the world has seen. To have your celebration there is to give clear celebration to this.''
A quick online search yields hundreds of plantations that are now making money from hosting wedding venues. They entice engaged couples with lines such as ''beautiful emerald farmlands'' and homes with ''Southern charm.'' However, the listings rarely mention, or gloss over, the dark history behind the plantation homes being promoted to celebrate what should be one of the happiest days of a couple's life.
Even celebrities have gotten in on it. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively got married at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, in 2012.
The venue website describes it as a ''majestic setting on a tidal marsh amongst over three centuries of history, beauty, and grace,'' and the ''perfect setting to let those memories for a lifetime unfold in a variety of ways.''
A separate page on the site offers tours and promises tour groups can see ''the different aspects of daily life, how black Americans worked and lived, struggles that were faced, as well as follow different periods of historical progression from the beginning all the way up to present day.
Robinson said Color of Change reached out to companies including Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides magazine and Zola, but Pinterest and The Knot were the only ones to respond.
''To the extent (the remaining companies) have been unwilling to engage, the question moving forward will be for their advertisers,'' said Robinson.
The wedding industry is big business. This year, it is projected to bring in $76 billion of revenue in the United States, according to IBIS World. The industry includes more than 334,391 businesses and has been expanding at a 0.3 percent growth rate over the past five years.
Robinson said Color of Change plans to keep pushing other companies.
''People have a short memory about what has happened and what those impacts currently still are,'' he said.
Vakantie in knel door boze boeren: reizigers Eindhoven Airport missen vlucht | Binnenland | AD.nl
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 14:50
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Why NUKEMAP isn't on Google Maps anymore | Restricted Data
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 11:43
When I created the NUKEMAP in 2012, the Google Maps API was amazing.1 It was the best thing in town for creating Javascript mapping mash-ups, cost literally nothing, had an active developer community that added new features on a regular basis, and actually seemed like it was interested in people using their product to develop cool, useful tools.
NUKEMAPs of days gone by: On the left is the original NUKEMAP I made way back in March 2005, which used MapQuest screenshots (and was extremely limited, and never made public) and was done entirely in PHP. I made it for my own personal use and for teaching. At right, the remade original NUKEMAP from 2012, which used the Google Maps API/Javascript.
Today, pretty much all of that is now untrue. The API codebase has stagnated in terms of actually useful features being added (many neat features have been removed or quietly deprecated; the new features being added are generally incremental and lame), which is really quite remarkable given that the Google Maps stand-alone website (the one you visit when you go to Google Maps to look up a map or location) has had a lot of neat features added to it (like its 3-D mode) that have not been ported to the API code (which is why NUKEMAP3D is effectively dead '-- Google deprecated the Google Earth Plugin and has never replaced it, and no other code base has filled the gap).2
But more importantly, the changes to the pricing model that have been recently put in place are, to put it lightly, insane, and punishing if you are an educational web developer that builds anything that people actually find useful.
NUKEMAP gets around 15,000 hits a day on a slow day, and around 200,000 hits a day per month, and has done this consistently for over 5 years (and it occasionally has spikes of several hundred thousand page views per day, when it goes viral for whatever reason). While that's pretty impressive for an academic's website, it's what I would call ''moderately popular'' by Internet terms. I don't think this puts the slightest strain on Google's servers (who also run, like, all of YouTube). And from 2012 through 2016, Google didn't charge a thing for this. Which was pretty generous, and perhaps unsustainable. But it encouraged a lot of experimentation, and something like NUKEMAP wouldn't exist without that.
In 2016, they started charging. It wasn't too bad '-- at most, my bill was around $200 a month. Even that is pretty hard to do out-of-pocket, but I've had the good fortune to be associated with an institution (my employers, the College of Arts and Letters at the Stevens Institute of Technology) that was willing to foot the bill.
But in 2018, Google changes its pricing model, and my bill jumped to more like $1,800 per month. As in, over $20,000 a year. Which is several times my main hosting fees (for all of my websites).
I reached out to Google to find out why this was. Their new pricing sheet is'... a little hard to make sense of. Which is sort of why I didn't see this coming. They do have a ''pricing calculator,'' though, that lets you see exactly how terrible the pricing scheme is, though it is a little tricky to find and requires having a Google account to access. But if you start playing with the ''dynamic map loads'' button (there are other charges, but that's the big one) you can see how expensive it gets, quickly. I contacted Google for help in figuring all this out, and they fobbed me off onto a non-Google ''valued partner'' who was licensed to deal with corporations on volume pricing. Hard pass, sorry.
I know that Google in theory supports people using their products for ''social causes,'' and if one is at a non-profit (as I am), you can apply for a ''grant'' to defray the costs, assuming Google assume's you're doing good. I don't know how they feel about the NUKEMAP, but in any case, it doesn't matter: people at educational institutions (even not-for-profit ones, like mine) are disqualified from applying. Why? Because Google wants to capture the educational market in a revenue-generating way, and so directs you to their Google for Education site, which as you will quickly find is based on a very different sort of model. There's no e-mail contact on the site, as an aside: you have to claim you are representing an entire educational institution (I am not) and that you are interested in implementing Google's products on your campus (I am not), and if you do all this (as I did, just to get through to them) you can finally talk to them a bit.
There is literally nothing on the website that suggests there is any way to get Google Maps API credit, but they do have a way to request discounted access to the Google Cloud Platform, which appears to be some kind of machine-learning platform, and after sending an e-mail they did say that you could apply for Google Cloud Platform funds to be used for Google Maps API.
By which point I had already, in my heart, given up on Google. It's just not worth it. Let me outline the reasons:
They clearly don't care about small developers. That much is pretty obvious if you've tried to develop with their products. Look, I get that licensing to big corporations is the money-maker. But Google pretends to be developing for more than just them'... they just don't follow through on those hopes.They can't distinguish between universities as entities, and academics as university researchers. There's a big difference there, in terms of scale, goals, and resources. I don't make university IT policy, I do research. They are fickle. It's not just the fact that they change their pricing schemes rapidly, it's not just that they deprecate products willy-nilly. It's that they push out new products, encourage communities to use them to make ''amazing'' things, and then don't support them well over the long term. They let cool projects atrophy and die. Sometimes they sell them off to other companies (e.g., SketchUp), who then totally change them and the business model. Again, I get it: Google's approach is throwing things at the wall, hoping they stick, and believes in disruption more than infrastructure, etc. etc. etc. But that makes it pretty hard to justify putting all of your eggs in their basket.I don't want to worry about whether Google will think my work is a ''social good,'' I don't want to worry about re-applying every year, I don't want to worry about the branch of Google that helps me out might vanish tomorrow, and so on. Too much uncertainty. Do you know how hard it is to get in contact with a real human being at Google? I'm not saying they're impossible '-- they did help me waive some of the fees that came from me not understanding the pricing policy '-- but that took literally months to work out, and in the meantime they sent a collection agency after me. But most of all: today there are perfectly viable alternatives. Which is why I don't understand their pricing model change, except in terms of, ''they've decided to abandon small developers completely.'' After a little scouting around, I decided that MapBox completely fit the bill (and whose rates are more like what Google used to charge), and that Leaflet, an open-source Javascript library, could make for a very easy conversion. It took a little work to make the conversion, because Leaflet out of the box doesn't support the drawing of great circles, but I wrote a plugin that does it.
NUKEMAP as of this moment (version 2.65; I make small incremental changes regularly), with its Mapbox GL + Leaflet codebase. Note that a while back I started showing the 1 psi blast radius as well, because I decided that omitting it caused people to underestimate the area that would be plausibly affected by a nuclear detonation.
Now, even MapBox's pricing scheme can add up for my level of map loads, but they've been extremely generous in terms of giving me ''credits'' because they support this kind of work. And getting that worked out was a matter of sending an e-mail and then talking to a real person on the phone. And said real person has been extremely helpful, easy to contact, and even reaches out to me at times when they're rolling out a new code feature (like Mapbox GL) that he thinks will make the site work better and cheaper. Which is to say: in every way, the opposite of Google.
So NUKEMAP and MISSILEMAP have been converted entirely over to MapBox+Leaflet. The one function that wasn't easy to port over was the ''Humanitarian consequences'' (which relies on Google's Places library), but I'll eventually figure out a way to integrate that into it.
More broadly, the question I have to ask as an educator is: would I encourage a student to develop in the Google Maps API if they were thinking about trying to make a ''break-out'' website? Easy answer: no way. With Google, becoming popular (even just ''moderately popular'') is a losing proposition: you will find yourself owing them a lot of money. So I won't be teaching Google Maps in my data visualization course anymore '-- we'll be using Leaflet from now on. I apologize for venting, but I figured that even non-developers might be interested in knowing on how these things work ''under the hood'' and what kinds of considerations go into the choice of making a website these days.
A simple example of the kind of thing you can do with NUKEMAP's new fallout dose exposure tool. At top, me standing out my office (for an entire 24 hours) in the wake of a 20 kt detonation in downtown NYC using the weather conditions that exist as I am posting this: I am very very dead. At bottom, I instead run quickly into the basement bowling alley in the Stevens University Howe Center (my preferred shelter location, because it's fairly deep inside a multi-story rocky hill, on top of which is a 13 story building), and the same length of time gives me, at most, a slight up-tick in long-term cancer risk.
More positively, I'm excited to announce that a little while back, I added a new feature to NUKEMAP, one I've been wanting to implement for some time now. The NUKEMAP's fallout model (the Miller model) has always been a little hard to make intuitive sense out of, other than ''a vague representation of the area of contamination.'' I've been exploring some other fallout models that could be implemented as well, but in the meantime, I wanted to find a way to make the current version (which has to advantage of being very quick to calculate and render) more intuitively meaningful.
The Miller model's contours give the dose intensity (in rad/hr) at H+1 hour. So for the ''100 rad/hr'' contour, that means: ''this area will be covered by fallout that, one hour after detonation, had an intensity of 100 rad/hr, assuming that the fallout has actually arrived there at that time.'' So to figure out what your exposure on the ground is, you need to calculate when the fallout actually arrives to you (on the wind), what the dose rate is at time of arrival, and then how that dose rate will decrease over the next hours that you are exposed to it. You also might want to know how that is affected by the kind of structure you're in, since anything that stands between you and the fallout will cut your exposure a bit. All of which makes for an annoying and tricky calculation to do by hand.
So I've added a feature to the ''Probe location'' tool, which allows you to sample the conditions at any given distance from ground zero. It will now calculate the time of fallout arrival (which is based on the distance and the wind settings), the intensity of the fallout at the time of arrival, and then allow you to see what the total dose would be if you were in that area for, say, 24 hours after detonation. It also allows you to apply a ''protection factor'' based on the kind of building you are in (the protection factor is just a divisor: a protection factor of 10 reduces the total exposure by 10). All of which can be used to answer questions about the human effects of fallout, and the situations in which different kinds of shelters can be effective, or not.3
There are some more NUKEMAP features actively in the works, as well. More on those, soon.
Tags: 2010s, NUKEMAP
This entry was postedon Friday, December 13th, 2019 at 9:50 amand is filed under News and Notes, Visions.You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Citation: Alex Wellerstein, "Why NUKEMAP isn't on Google Maps anymore," Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog, December 13, 2019, accessed December 13, 2019, http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2019/12/13/why-nukemap-isnt-on-google-maps-anymore/.
A middle-of-the-night tweet when I heard that BJ was re-elected in the UK: "Brits are idiots. Congrats. We thought we Americans were the stupidest people on the planet, but you all had a chance to throw the asshole with the creative hair under the bus and
Fri, 13 Dec 2019 11:40
It's even worse than it appears.
Good morning sports fans!
# A middle-of-the-night
tweet when I heard that
BJ was re-elected in the UK: "Brits are idiots. Congrats. We thought we Americans were the stupidest people on the planet, but you all had a chance to throw the asshole with the creative hair under the bus and you said nah give 'im another chance mate."
If you think of the United States as a company, we've had a strategic partnership with Russia for the last three years, kind of like the one Microsoft had with IBM. Russia is analogous to Microsoft. They're about to roll over us in the 2020 election. Our last gasp is the impeachment. # We should have had this confrontation sooner, we would have had a better chance of prevailing. Going back to the Electoral College vote in 2016. We could have briefed the electors on the misdeeds of the Trump campaign in collusion with Russia. We could have had nightly candlelight vigils in the state capitals where the electoral votes would be cast. We could have at least honored the passing of a political system that kind of worked and provided us with an incredible standard of living, and hosted the development of the Internet, won the space race, and Woodstock and the Mets! Saved my family. I wouldn't exist without the US and probably neither would you. We could have been serious about resisting right from that point, instead as with all the points at which we could have acted, we hoped somehow this would blow over without us having to disrupt our lives. We're a lazy, fat culture, Russia knows and is taking full advantage. # Anyway back to the tech analogy. Impeachment is like IBM shipping OS/2 and the Micro Channel Architecture. Both were designed to rid IBM of Microsoft once and for all. But it didn't work. It was too little too late. Microsoft came out with Windows 3.0, and IBM became a global consulting company. The company that dominated the computer business left the computer business. With the US and Russia analogy substitute "computer business" with "democracy business." # Impeachment is the last gasp bet that the rule of law still works, even though the Supreme Court has been stuffed with Russian puppets, as has the Senate. The only places that are still following the rule of law is the House and parts of the Department of Justice. Think of it as a two party system about to become one party. The one that prevails in impeachment will have the right to anihilate the other, and must do it. There may still be a few courageous defectors to the Rule-of-Law Party, but unless there's a great awakening in the Senate, the courts, DoJ, the military and other branches of service, Putin has the power to put down impeachment, and from there, will complete the replication of the political system of Russia in the US, where political opponents are jailed or assassinated, as with uncooperative journalists. This is about to happen in the US, but journalism and discourse on the net has yet to catch up. # Putin could really fuck with us (but probably won't), and instruct McConnell to have a change of heart and the Senate votes to remove Trump. What an opportunity to screw up the US for a few generations, if not longer. From this point we're never going to know what's actually going on, we don't really know now (btw), but it's going to get a lot worse. # Wheeee! ðŸ'¥ #


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All Clips

Hank Johnson (D-Ga) Trump and Zelensky meeting Daughter duct taped in basement.mp3
Horowitz blows apart Democratic talking points on FBI - SUPERcuts! 726 WFB.mp3
Media to Americans - Of Course the Trump Dossier Is True - Supercuts.mp3
Bloomberg - My people will not report because of their paycheck.mp3
Bloomberg News bans investigations of founder.mp3
Hillary Hulu Documentary [director is Kid stays in the picture] March 6th release.mp3
Jill Biden says Trump is afraid to run against Joe.mp3
Joe Biden CONFRONTED in San Antonio.mp3
Joe Biden snaps at NPR host - ‘Don’t compare me to Donald Trump’.mp3
Kanye West and Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church are teaming up to fill Yankee Stadium - TMZ.mp3
NBC - Key Mueller witness charged with funnelling millions to Clinton campaign.mp3
Steve Bannon on Bloomberg and Hillary Running [with the money honey].mp3
Wall Street Pete Chant for Buttegieg.mp3
Glasgow portestors chant BJ has got to go.mp3
Reuters - Johnson wins commanding victory in UK election -- Brexit Yay - Scotland Nay.mp3
Anger erupts at U.N. climate summit as major economies resist bold action.mp3
Frans Timmermans - Anampour -2- How realistic are your targets for Agenda 2030 and neutrality by 2050.mp3
Frans Timmermans European Commission Executive VP for the Green Deal - Anampour -1- All about Greta to lead in the Green Deal.mp3
Greta wants to put world leaders against the wall.mp3
Greta1 pronounciation from producer Aaron'sswedish daughter 1.m4a
Greta2 pronounciation from producer Aaron'sswedish daughter 2.m4a
Options for transmitting OBFCM data from the vehicle to the European Commission.mp3
The European Green New Deal.pdf
Boris wins despite flaws DN.mp3
Germany's government to change.mp3
Herridge Sem hearings wrap CBS.mp3
how to pronounce Uyghur.mp3
just wait schiff argument presser.mp3
LBC Ferrari on Tory win.mp3
LBC Patrick Diamond Momentum activists and labor.mp3
MISS UNIVERSE The Winner and question.mp3
monbiot ISO.mp3
monbiots on election DN.mp3
National Tires ad.mp3
National Tires ISO.mp3
Native ad for Ring.mp3
neo confedate story in NC DN.mp3
odd measels story DN.mp3
pauperization of students on France F24.mp3
pronouncing evil skyver pastry.mp3
Werner Herzog ethics and douchebags DW.mp3
737 MAX hidden FAA docs CBS.mp3
afghanistan papers TWO FLYNN.mp3
afghanistan papers WAPO podcast.mp3
al green if senate does not comvict.mp3
bloomberg bloomberg.mp3
Anonymous donations pay off $70K in layaway purchases at Alabama Wlamrt.mp3
New America Magazine Podcast - USMCA Exposed - Towards a North American Union.mp3
New security warning for in-home smart cameras - ABC News.mp3
Classic ABC Diane Sawyer baffles Clapper on 12 arrested terrorists in 2010.mp3
Austin coalition’s $14M goal to fund emergency homeless shelters raises just $50K in first month.mp3
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    hang up and hang out Adam Curry Jhansi
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    Devorah the assassination episode $11.99
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    this is no agenda Kay and broadcasting
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    live from opportunity 733 the frontier
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    of Austin Texas capital the drone star
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    state in the morning everybody I'm Adam
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    curry and from northern Silicon Valley
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    where I don't know the freeways out
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    there outside the house I'm just now you
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    know why I keep you lower your levels
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    have to be lower because there's nothing
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    good coming out
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    you're doing what I'm keeping your
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    levels lower man hello I have a couple
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    okay wanna discuss okay okay one of them
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    I'm making this at the beginning of the
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    show so people will say oh okay I can
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    help and they'll send me mail at the
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    John at the org no know what they'll do
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    is they'll send it to Adam McCurry calm
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    saying I couldn't find Jonesy move just
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    what they do
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    yes yeah well Adam accrete calm is
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    probably easier than John achieve org
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    cuz you have to actually spill Devorah
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    members or you know how to calm yeah you
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    got to think about it there's two things
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    different mm-hmm so I want to put
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    together and I think you can help me
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    with this and I know the audience can
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    especially any that have Millennials in
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    the household yes I want to put together
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    the definitive list of millennial isms
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    and what I mean by that is the things
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    that they're associated with top of the
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    avocado toast can I ask you what would
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    the point of this project be so I can
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    have a definitive list in front of me uh
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    I figure I think it's gonna have some
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    value okay
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    dropping that dropping T's what droppin
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    T's I don't know what that is important
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    droppin T's or dropping T's yeah
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    dropping T's that you're saying drop in
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    T's as some sort of a PG tipps that you
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    don't know dropping T's employment which
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    by the way started with racists someone
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    pointed out to me
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    hmm that's where the tea first started
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    dropping is it's not as racist you give
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    me one oh I wasn't prepared but okay
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    avocado toast I just I just gave you
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    bracelet I gave you dropping tees next
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    okay bone broth bone broth no oh oh yeah
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    no I don't know anything okay
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    small batch I got small batch well you
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    didn't call it you didn't get it okay
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    artisan hmm
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    damn I'm stuck let's just get the show
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    yeah what you're hearing here John these
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    are meat up from yesterday this is this
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    is what you do when you get no agenda
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    producers together at the Lone Star gun
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    range I'm still hurting from yes sounds
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    oh my goodness it was fantastic we had
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    12 fort dudes only no no Dame sadly you
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    know sir Scott of the of the armor he
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    had everything well arranged including
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    just bags and bags of ammo and we must
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    have had 60 different guns man this was
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    great this is the sheet up so did you
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    get to shoot anything weird no no this
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    was it's a very cool range they you know
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    they're not they got you know they got a
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    guy standing of course you know behind
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    everybody making sure that we're not you
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    know killing each other each other yeah
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    but they're very very laid-back but it
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    specifically said you're not allowed to
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    have any targets with faces of political
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    figures or other world I'm not actually
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    a rule but they had those splatter
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    targets you know the splatter targets
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    those are great where it says anything
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    about a splatter target well it has a
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    thin layer of basic like a crayon type
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    substance over the netting for a BB gun
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    could this BB gun splatter targets you
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    shoot to be be any hit thing it makes
  • 4:40
    this a splat look what's it's just it's
  • 4:43
    viewable you can see it from a distance
  • 4:45
    so it did yes it makes a nice splattered
  • 4:48
    little thing sings yeah okay
  • 4:50
    I hit it yeah it was good it was yeah we
  • 4:53
    got to do that more often and I end for
  • 4:55
    the first time I shot a what is it
  • 4:59
    1911 but it's the what's the particular
  • 5:04
    brand I'm thinking of Colt hammerless no
  • 5:07
    nothing not the Colt I know they they