1206: Tolerized

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 47m
January 9th, 2020
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Executive Producers: Ryne Fakkema, Anonymous

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Dwight The Knight, Dennis Price, Fabian Scherschel

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
0:40
J. Bieber, fight'n limes disease
Guest producer
1:25
keep'n amygdalas small
Guest producer
1:30
Iranian Incidents
Guest producer
9:59
This will never get resolved
Guest producer
10:12
Good News for Tom Cruise
Guest producer
11:12
New York Times reporter about military hypotheticals
Guest producer
16:10
A Putin Entrance
Guest producer
18:58
You, the American People
Guest producer
50:50
WTF
Guest producer
1:03:51
Executive and associate executive producers
Guest producer
1:20:52
Start second part of the show
Guest producer
1:21:21
NBC bafflingly approved Gervais as host GGs
Guest producer
Suggest a new chapter
Iran
Iran leader tweets flag like Trump did after Soleimani died | McClatchy Washington Bureau
All news has the same dark video of two lights in the sky
New York Times Published Story About Hypothetical Military Attack on Suleimani in Baghdad Hours Before Strike '' Summit News
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 09:42
New York Times journalist Farnaz Fassihi offered what some of her critics described as a ''eulogy'' to killed Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Suleimani after she posted a video of him reciting poetry.
''Rare personal video of Gen. Suleimani reciting poetry shared by a source in #Iran. About friends departing & him being left behind,'' tweeted Fassihi alongside a video of Suleimani.
Rare personal video of Gen. Suleimani reciting poetry shared by a source in #Iran. About friends departing & him being left behind.#قاØ"م_Ø"Ùيماني pic.twitter.com/vUX4LrkMQY
'-- Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 3, 2020
Given that Suleimani was responsible for the deaths of innumerable American citizens as well as orchestrating ''a campaign of chaos against the United States around the world,'' some questioned the tone of Fassihi's response.
''Thoughts and prayers to you and your family at this time of sorrow,'' quipped one respondent.
''Whenever you think the media can't go lower, they surprise you!'' commented Mike Cernovich.
''This man was a terrorist who murdered hundreds of American soldiers and this New York Times reporter is tweeting out video clips in an apparent effort to humanize him,'' remarked Ryan Saavedra.
This man was a terrorist who murdered hundreds of American soldiers and this New York Times reporter is tweeting out video clips in an apparent effort to humanize him https://t.co/V1TaB5C6vM
'-- Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) January 3, 2020
''This comes as close as this left-wing journalist dares to a eulogy for Suleimani. How could he be this evil figure? The man was a gentle soul and a lover of poetry! Next up: A touching photograph of Hitler painting a sunset,'' tweeted Dinesh D'Souza.
This comes as close as this left-wing journalist dares to a eulogy for Suleimani. How could he be this evil figure? The man was a gentle soul and a lover of poetry! Next up: A touching photograph of Hitler painting a sunset https://t.co/DpHHY2OEzz
'-- Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) 3 January 2020
After the backlash, Fassihi tried to defend herself, tweeting, ''Folks attacking me for sharing this video: It's called reporting. It's not an endorsement or sympathy. I share whatever info I get for all to see. That's all.''
Folks attacking me for sharing this video: It's called reporting. It's not an endorsement or sympathy. I share whatever info I get for all to see. That's all.
'-- Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 3, 2020
Now we're just waiting on the Washington Post to describe Suleimani as an ''austere religious scholar.''
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Movie Promo
Although this is still evolving, keep in mind the tie-ins
to the upcoming Top Gun sequel which is reported to involve a conflict with
Iran in which Tom Cruise steals an Iranian F-14 after being shot down.
Plane crash, missile attack and a quake: Top 5 developments of US-Iran conflict you need to know - World News
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 07:45
In a major escalation that brought the United States of America and Iran closer to war after the killing of a top Iranian general, Iran on Wednesday fired a series of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops.
The ballistic missile attack, however, was not the only news that the world woke up to. Wednesday morning saw many developments with a private plane crash in Tehran and an earthquake rocking the region. In the wake of ongoing US-Iran conflict, here are the top five developments that have taken place on Wednesday.
1. Iran missile attacks target US forces in Iraq
Iran on Wednesday launched missile attacks on US-led forces in Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike on an Iranian commander whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East.
Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles from its territory against at least two Iraqi facilities hosting U.S.-led coalition personnel at about 1:30 am (2230 GMT on Tuesday), the US military said.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps confirmed they fired the missiles in retaliation for last week's killing of Qassem Soleimani, according to a statement on state TV. The force advised the United States to withdraw its troops from the region to prevent more deaths and warned US allies including Israel not to allow attacks from their territories. Iranian television reported a senior official in the Iranian Supreme Leader's office said the missile attacks were the "weakest" of several retaliation scenarios.
More than 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq along with other foreign forces as part of a coalition that has trained and backed up Iraqi security forces against the threat of Islamic State militants.
US President Donald Trump said in a tweet that an assessment of casualties and damage from the strikes was under way and that he would make a statement on Wednesday morning. "All is well!" Trump, who visited the al-Asad air base in December 2018, said in the Twitter post. One source said early indications were of no U.S. casualties.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has also said it would ban US carriers from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and several Asian carriers said there were avoiding flying over the region.
2. Took and concluded proportionate self-defence, says Iran
Iran said it had carried out and "concluded" its reprisal over the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani when it targeted US forces in Iraq with a missile strike.
"Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defence" targeting a base from which a "cowardly armed attack against our citizens and senior officials" was launched, said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Twitter. "We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps confirmed they fired the missiles in retaliation for last week's killing of Qassem Soleimani. The force advised the United States to withdraw its troops from the region to prevent more deaths and warned US allies including Israel not to allow attacks from their territories.
The escalation came after the US killed top Iranian commander General Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Soleimani, a pivotal figure in orchestrating Iran's long-standing campaign to drive US forces out of Iraq, was also responsible for building up Tehran's network of proxy armies across the Middle East. A stampede had broken out Tuesday at a funeral for the top Iranian general and at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 were injured as thousands thronged the procession.
3. Ukrainian Boeing 737 with at least 170 on board crashes in Iran
A Ukrainian airliner with at least 170 people on board crashed on Wednesday due to technical problems soon after taking off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported.
Rescue teams have been sent to an area near the airport where the Boeing 737 belonging to Ukraine International Airlines crashed, Reza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, told state television.
"The plane is on fire but we have sent crews ... and we may be able to save some passengers." Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran's emergency services, told the television. Jafarzadeh put the number of passengers at 170.
IRNA said according to preliminary information "the plane was bound for Kiev ... and had 180 passengers and crew."
4. Earthquake near Iran nuclear power plant
A natural, 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck Iran near the Bushehr nuclear plant Wednesday, reports said. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake struck 10 km southeast of Borazjan, Iran -- marked with a gold star on the map below -- and at a depth of 10 km.
The map shows the respective locations of the earthquake's epicentre and the city of Bushehr, near which the nuclear plant is located. Borazjan is a nearly 70-km drive away from Bushehr.
"The depth and epicenter indicate it was a natural event and unrelated to this evening's [US time] events. A similar earthquake struck in late December," the website Strategic Sentinel tweeted.
5. Iran rocket strike on US forces jolts markets; Nifty, Sensex dive
Oil prices jumped to their highest in months on Wednesday after Iran attacked American forces in Iraq in response to a US strike that killed an Iranian general last week, raising the spectre of a spiralling conflict and disrupted oil supplies.
But prices cooled a fraction after the early heat as analysts said market tension could ease as long as oil production facilities remain unaffected by attacks.
Brent crude futures rose $1.56, or 2.3%, to $69.83 by around 0207 GMT, after earlier rising to $71.75, the highest since mid-September 2019. West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed $1.25, or 2%, to $63.95 a barrel. It earlier reached a high of $65.85, the most since late April last year.
"It's getting really serious ... but there is a feeling of achievement in terms of technical charts as Brent has surged to above $70/barrel and near a high in September, 2019 after attacks on Saudi Arabian oil sites," said Hideshi Matsunaga, analyst at Sunward Trading in Tokyo.
"We have to see how much and what damage the latest attacks have caused, but oil markets may come down, just like last September, if we can confirm that oil facilities have not been affected," he said.
Indian stocks also sank and the rupee weakened on Wednesday in the aftermath of a retaliatory attack on US-led forces by Iran.
Other Asian shares and US Treasury yields also tumbled while gold shot higher after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi facilities hosting US-led coalition personnel, in retaliation for the US strike killing an Iranian commander last week.
India imports much of its crude from the Middle East, and its markets are sensitive to swings in prices, which have rallied this week on fears of a disruption to oil supplies.
WHAT LED TO THE ESCALATION
Soleimani, a pivotal figure in orchestrating Iran's long-standing campaign to drive US forces out of Iraq, was responsible for building up Tehran's network of proxy armies across the Middle East. He was a national hero to many Iranians but viewed as a dangerous villain by Western governments opposed to Iran's arc of influence running across the Levant and into the Gulf region.
The commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards, General Qasem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone strike on Friday. US officials said Soleimani was killed because of solid intelligence indicating forces under his command planned attacks on US targets in the region, although they have provided no evidence.
Soleimani's burial went ahead after several hours of delay following a stampede that killed at least 56 people and injured more than 210. Iran TV reported Soleimani was buried after the missile attacks. "His revenge was taken and now he can rest in peace," it said.
The missiles were launched on Wednesday at the same time that he was killed last Friday.
Soleimani's body had been taken to holy Shi'ite Muslim cities in Iraq and Iran, as well as the Iranian capital, Tehran, before arriving to be buried in the city cemetery's "martyrs' section", according to the semi-official news agency ISNA. In each place, huge numbers of people filled thoroughfares, chanting: "Death to America" and weeping with emotion. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wept as he led prayers in Tehran.
Also read | Iran missile attack roils financial markets: Here's what analysts say
Also watch | Iran attacks Iraq bases housing US troops
Trump Says US Will Not Leave Iraq Until Baghdad Pays for American Air Base, Threatens Sanctions | The Iranian
Sun, 05 Jan 2020 22:54
T he Iraqi parliament voted on Sunday to support the expulsion of all foreign troops from the Iraqi territory and cutting off ties with the US-led international anti-terrorist coalition due to the Friday's assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Bagdad.
''We have a very extraordinarily expensive airbase that's there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time We're not leaving unless they pay us back for it ['...] We will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before ever. It'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame'', US President Donald Trump said Sunday, while he was traveling from Florida
Trump referred to the Balad military base that houses US forces some 50 miles north of Baghdad. Trump also hinted that the administration ''may discuss'' releasing intelligence related to the killing of Qassem Soleimani.
Kataib Hezbollah, Iraqi Shia militias within the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, threatened earlier to launch attacks on military installations used by the US forces in Iraq if the Trump administration does not quickly implement the Iraqi ultimatum to withdraw its troops from the nation.
Over the weekend, the Iraqi capital already witnessed several rocket attacks, including in the residential area of Al-Jadriya and the Balad military base. No one has claimed the responsibility for the shellings.
Related
Iraqi parliament calls on government to expel U.S. troops - Axios
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 07:33
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StoriesIraqi Prime Minister Mahdi. Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images
The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution Sunday calling on the government to expel U.S. troops from the country in response to the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and the leader of an Iraqi militia on its soil.
Between the lines: A senior Iraqi government official told Axios' Jonathan Swan that the actual expulsion of U.S. troops is far from a certain outcome. This is a resolution and the prime minister who must sign it has already resigned, the official said.
Magnitude 5.1 earthquake strikes Iran near nuclear power plant | FOX2now.com
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 17:40
A 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck southwestern Iran in a region which houses the country's first nuclear power plant.
A 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck southwestern Iran in a region which houses the country's first nuclear power plant.
A 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck southwestern Iran early Friday morning in a region which houses the country's first nuclear power plant.
The quake occurred just after 5 a.m. local time, 44 kilometers (27 miles) southeast of the city of Borazjan in Bushehr province, at a depth of 38.3 kilometers (23.7 miles), according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
The Bushehr nuclear plant is located on the Iranian coastline to the southwest of Borazjan, not far from the epicenter of the earthquake.
Opened in August 2010, Bushehr is not only Iran's first nuclear plant but the first civilian reactor in the Middle East.
So far there has been no official word on whether or not the plant was damaged by the earthquake.
History of deadly quakesIran is no stranger to tectonic activity. The country sits on a major fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian plates and has experienced many earthquakes in the past.
In November, at least five people were killed and 330 others injured after a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Iran.
Last year, a quake that struck near the Iran-Iraq border in November killed at least 361 people.
More than 400 people were killed and thousands injured when a powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck near the Iran-Iraq border in November 2017.
The deadliest quake this century occurred in 2003 when a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the southeastern city of Bam, killing some 26,000 people.
REVEALED - John Kerrys Daughter - Connection to Iranian State
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 18:46
John Kerry's daughter Contributed by Kevin T. McManus, Nashville, Tn.
Please read this to the end and PASS IT ON TO ALL YOUR CONTACTS '' No wonder they're nervous about the possibility a Republican getting the Presidency and exposing this. WOW !!! Just another little bit of newsy information . . . . . . . IT COULDN'T GET ANY DEEPER. No matter what your political leaning, this should give you a reason to stop and think whose side John Kerry is on!!!! As soon as you think it can't get much worse'...
You Do Know Who John Kerry Is . . . . Right?
Does this clearly explain something that seemed unexplained?Guess who's married to John Kerry's daughter? Did you know that in 2009 the daughter of Secretary of State John Kerry, Dr. Vanessa Bradford Kerry, married an Iranian physician named Dr. Brian Vale Nahed. No mainstream media reported this. Guess who was the best man at the wedding? Mohammad Javad Zarif. So who is Mr. Zarif? Zarif is the current minister of foreign affairs for Iran.
He was Kerry's chief counterpart in the nuclear deal negotiations just concluded. Meaning Kerry was dealing with his daughter's father-in-law? Cozy, right!
As Front Page Magazine pointed out several months ago, the nuclear talks with Iran were a tragic farce, choreographed and orchestrated by Iran . And unfortunately, we are going to have to live with the consequences. When (not ''if'') the bomb blows.
Can you say ''conflict of interest'' ..after of course, ''breach of national security'' '... and ''aiding and abetting '' one of our principal national enemies?But then what's new. Even as Muslims make up just 1% of the country, Hillary's top aide is a Muslim, as is Obama's. Is it any wonder Obama wants to bring in thousands of young Muslims as refugees even though his security people say they cannot properly vet them. Then too, Obama also spends much time defending Muslims? Not so much defending other minorities, Jews, Blacks, etc.??
Contributed by Kevin T. McManus, Nashville, Tn.
TEAR DOWN the Statue of Liberty because the immigrants of today aren't being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry. [MORE]
The Shadow Commander | The New Yorker
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 09:31
Qassem Suleimani is the Iranian operative who has been reshaping the Middle East. Now he's directing Assad's war in Syria. A former C.I.A. officer calls Suleimani, the head of Iran's Quds Force, the ''most powerful operative in the Middle East today.''
Illustration by Krzysztof DomaradzkiLast February, some of Iran's most influential leaders gathered at the Amir al-Momenin Mosque, in northeast Tehran, inside a gated community reserved for officers of the Revolutionary Guard. They had come to pay their last respects to a fallen comrade. Hassan Shateri, a veteran of Iran's covert wars throughout the Middle East and South Asia, was a senior commander in a powerful, (C)lite branch of the Revolutionary Guard called the Quds Force. The force is the sharp instrument of Iranian foreign policy, roughly analogous to a combined C.I.A. and Special Forces; its name comes from the Persian word for Jerusalem, which its fighters have promised to liberate. Since 1979, its goal has been to subvert Iran's enemies and extend the country's influence across the Middle East. Shateri had spent much of his career abroad, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, where the Quds Force helped Shiite militias kill American soldiers.
Shateri had been killed two days before, on the road that runs between Damascus and Beirut. He had gone to Syria, along with thousands of other members of the Quds Force, to rescue the country's besieged President, Bashar al-Assad, a crucial ally of Iran. In the past few years, Shateri had worked under an alias as the Quds Force's chief in Lebanon; there he had helped sustain the armed group Hezbollah, which at the time of the funeral had begun to pour men into Syria to fight for the regime. The circumstances of his death were unclear: one Iranian official said that Shateri had been ''directly targeted'' by ''the Zionist regime,'' as Iranians habitually refer to Israel.
At the funeral, the mourners sobbed, and some beat their chests in the Shiite way. Shateri's casket was wrapped in an Iranian flag, and gathered around it were the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, dressed in green fatigues; a member of the plot to murder four exiled opposition leaders in a Berlin restaurant in 1992; and the father of Imad Mughniyeh, the Hezbollah commander believed to be responsible for the bombings that killed more than two hundred and fifty Americans in Beirut in 1983. Mughniyeh was assassinated in 2008, purportedly by Israeli agents. In the ethos of the Iranian revolution, to die was to serve. Before Shateri's funeral, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's Supreme Leader, released a note of praise: ''In the end, he drank the sweet syrup of martyrdom.''
Kneeling in the second row on the mosque's carpeted floor was Major General Qassem Suleimani, the Quds Force's leader: a small man of fifty-six, with silver hair, a close-cropped beard, and a look of intense self-containment. It was Suleimani who had sent Shateri, an old and trusted friend, to his death. As Revolutionary Guard commanders, he and Shateri belonged to a small fraternity formed during the Sacred Defense, the name given to the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988 and left as many as a million people dead. It was a catastrophic fight, but for Iran it was the beginning of a three-decade project to build a Shiite sphere of influence, stretching across Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. Along with its allies in Syria and Lebanon, Iran forms an Axis of Resistance, arrayed against the region's dominant Sunni powers and the West. In Syria, the project hung in the balance, and Suleimani was mounting a desperate fight, even if the price of victory was a sectarian conflict that engulfed the region for years.
Suleimani took command of the Quds Force fifteen years ago, and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran's favor, working as a power broker and as a military force: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned Suleimani for his role in supporting the Assad regime, and for abetting terrorism. And yet he has remained mostly invisible to the outside world, even as he runs agents and directs operations. ''Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,'' John Maguire, a former C.I.A. officer in Iraq, told me, ''and no one's ever heard of him.''
When Suleimani appears in public'--often to speak at veterans' events or to meet with Khamenei'--he carries himself inconspicuously and rarely raises his voice, exhibiting a trait that Arabs call khilib, or understated charisma. ''He is so short, but he has this presence,'' a former senior Iraqi official told me. ''There will be ten people in a room, and when Suleimani walks in he doesn't come and sit with you. He sits over there on the other side of room, by himself, in a very quiet way. Doesn't speak, doesn't comment, just sits and listens. And so of course everyone is thinking only about him.''
At the funeral, Suleimani was dressed in a black jacket and a black shirt with no tie, in the Iranian style; his long, angular face and his arched eyebrows were twisted with pain. The Quds Force had never lost such a high-ranking officer abroad. The day before the funeral, Suleimani had travelled to Shateri's home to offer condolences to his family. He has a fierce attachment to martyred soldiers, and often visits their families; in a recent interview with Iranian media, he said, ''When I see the children of the martyrs, I want to smell their scent, and I lose myself.'' As the funeral continued, he and the other mourners bent forward to pray, pressing their foreheads to the carpet. ''One of the rarest people, who brought the revolution and the whole world to you, is gone,'' Alireza Panahian, the imam, told the mourners. Suleimani cradled his head in his palm and began to weep.
The early months of 2013, around the time of Shateri's death, marked a low point for the Iranian intervention in Syria. Assad was steadily losing ground to the rebels, who are dominated by Sunnis, Iran's rivals. If Assad fell, the Iranian regime would lose its link to Hezbollah, its forward base against Israel. In a speech, one Iranian cleric said, ''If we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.''
Although the Iranians were severely strained by American sanctions, imposed to stop the regime from developing a nuclear weapon, they were unstinting in their efforts to save Assad. Among other things, they extended a seven-billion-dollar loan to shore up the Syrian economy. ''I don't think the Iranians are calculating this in terms of dollars,'' a Middle Eastern security official told me. ''They regard the loss of Assad as an existential threat.'' For Suleimani, saving Assad seemed a matter of pride, especially if it meant distinguishing himself from the Americans. ''Suleimani told us the Iranians would do whatever was necessary,'' a former Iraqi leader told me. ''He said, 'We're not like the Americans. We don't abandon our friends.' ''
Last year, Suleimani asked Kurdish leaders in Iraq to allow him to open a supply route across northern Iraq and into Syria. For years, he had bullied and bribed the Kurds into co¶perating with his plans, but this time they rebuffed him. Worse, Assad's soldiers wouldn't fight'--or, when they did, they mostly butchered civilians, driving the populace to the rebels. ''The Syrian Army is useless!'' Suleimani told an Iraqi politician. He longed for the Basij, the Iranian militia whose fighters crushed the popular uprisings against the regime in 2009. ''Give me one brigade of the Basij, and I could conquer the whole country,'' he said. In August, 2012, anti-Assad rebels captured forty-eight Iranians inside Syria. Iranian leaders protested that they were pilgrims, come to pray at a holy Shiite shrine, but the rebels, as well as Western intelligence agencies, said that they were members of the Quds Force. In any case, they were valuable enough so that Assad agreed to release more than two thousand captured rebels to have them freed. And then Shateri was killed.
Finally, Suleimani began flying into Damascus frequently so that he could assume personal control of the Iranian intervention. ''He's running the war himself,'' an American defense official told me. In Damascus, he is said to work out of a heavily fortified command post in a nondescript building, where he has installed a multinational array of officers: the heads of the Syrian military, a Hezbollah commander, and a co¶rdinator of Iraqi Shiite militias, which Suleimani mobilized and brought to the fight. If Suleimani couldn't have the Basij, he settled for the next best thing: Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, the Basij's former deputy commander. Hamedani, another comrade from the Iran-Iraq War, was experienced in running the kind of irregular militias that the Iranians were assembling, in order to keep on fighting if Assad fell.
Late last year, Western officials began to notice a sharp increase in Iranian supply flights into the Damascus airport. Instead of a handful a week, planes were coming every day, carrying weapons and ammunition'--''tons of it,'' the Middle Eastern security official told me'--along with officers from the Quds Force. According to American officials, the officers co¶rdinated attacks, trained militias, and set up an elaborate system to monitor rebel communications. They also forced the various branches of Assad's security services'--designed to spy on one another'--to work together. The Middle Eastern security official said that the number of Quds Force operatives, along with the Iraqi Shiite militiamen they brought with them, reached into the thousands. ''They're spread out across the entire country,'' he told me.
A turning point came in April, after rebels captured the Syrian town of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border. To retake the town, Suleimani called on Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, to send in more than two thousand fighters. It wasn't a difficult sell. Qusayr sits at the entrance to the Bekaa Valley, the main conduit for missiles and other mat(C)riel to Hezbollah; if it was closed, Hezbollah would find it difficult to survive. Suleimani and Nasrallah are old friends, having co¶perated for years in Lebanon and in the many places around the world where Hezbollah operatives have performed terrorist missions at the Iranians' behest. According to Will Fulton, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute, Hezbollah fighters encircled Qusayr, cutting off the roads, then moved in. Dozens of them were killed, as were at least eight Iranian officers. On June 5th, the town fell. ''The whole operation was orchestrated by Suleimani,'' Maguire, who is still active in the region, said. ''It was a great victory for him.''
Despite all of Suleimani's rough work, his image among Iran's faithful is that of an irreproachable war hero'--a decorated veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, in which he became a division commander while still in his twenties. In public, he is almost theatrically modest. During a recent appearance, he described himself as ''the smallest soldier,'' and, according to the Iranian press, rebuffed members of the audience who tried to kiss his hand. His power comes mostly from his close relationship with Khamenei, who provides the guiding vision for Iranian society. The Supreme Leader, who usually reserves his highest praise for fallen soldiers, has referred to Suleimani as ''a living martyr of the revolution.'' Suleimani is a hard-line supporter of Iran's authoritarian system. In July, 1999, at the height of student protests, he signed, with other Revolutionary Guard commanders, a letter warning the reformist President Mohammad Khatami that if he didn't put down the revolt the military would'--perhaps deposing Khatami in the process. ''Our patience has run out,'' the generals wrote. The police crushed the demonstrators, as they did again, a decade later.
Iran's government is intensely fractious, and there are many figures around Khamenei who help shape foreign policy, including Revolutionary Guard commanders, senior clerics, and Foreign Ministry officials. But Suleimani has been given a remarkably free hand in implementing Khamenei's vision. ''He has ties to every corner of the system,'' Meir Dagan, the former head of Mossad, told me. ''He is what I call politically clever. He has a relationship with everyone.'' Officials describe him as a believer in Islam and in the revolution; while many senior figures in the Revolutionary Guard have grown wealthy through the Guard's control over key Iranian industries, Suleimani has been endowed with a personal fortune by the Supreme Leader. ''He's well taken care of,'' Maguire said.
Suleimani lives in Tehran, and appears to lead the home life of a bureaucrat in middle age. ''He gets up at four every morning, and he's in bed by nine-thirty every night,'' the Iraqi politician, who has known him for many years, told me, shaking his head in disbelief. Suleimani has a bad prostate and recurring back pain. He's ''respectful of his wife,'' the Middle Eastern security official told me, sometimes taking her along on trips. He has three sons and two daughters, and is evidently a strict but loving father. He is said to be especially worried about his daughter Nargis, who lives in Malaysia. ''She is deviating from the ways of Islam,'' the Middle Eastern official said.
Maguire told me, ''Suleimani is a far more polished guy than most. He can move in political circles, but he's also got the substance to be intimidating.'' Although he is widely read, his aesthetic tastes appear to be strictly traditional. ''I don't think he'd listen to classical music,'' the Middle Eastern official told me. ''The European thing'--I don't think that's his vibe, basically.'' Suleimani has little formal education, but, the former senior Iraqi official told me, ''he is a very shrewd, frighteningly intelligent strategist.'' His tools include payoffs for politicians across the Middle East, intimidation when it is needed, and murder as a last resort. Over the years, the Quds Force has built an international network of assets, some of them drawn from the Iranian diaspora, who can be called on to support missions. ''They're everywhere,'' a second Middle Eastern security official said. In 2010, according to Western officials, the Quds Force and Hezbollah launched a new campaign against American and Israeli targets'--in apparent retaliation for the covert effort to slow down the Iranian nuclear program, which has included cyber attacks and assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.
Since then, Suleimani has orchestrated attacks in places as far flung as Thailand, New Delhi, Lagos, and Nairobi'--at least thirty attempts in the past two years alone. The most notorious was a scheme, in 2011, to hire a Mexican drug cartel to blow up the Saudi Ambassador to the United States as he sat down to eat at a restaurant a few miles from the White House. The cartel member approached by Suleimani's agent turned out to be an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (The Quds Force appears to be more effective close to home, and a number of the remote plans have gone awry.) Still, after the plot collapsed, two former American officials told a congressional committee that Suleimani should be assassinated. ''Suleimani travels a lot,'' one said. ''He is all over the place. Go get him. Either try to capture him or kill him.'' In Iran, more than two hundred dignitaries signed an outraged letter in his defense; a social-media campaign proclaimed, ''We are all Qassem Suleimani.''
Several Middle Eastern officials, some of whom I have known for a decade, stopped talking the moment I brought up Suleimani. ''We don't want to have any part of this,'' a Kurdish official in Iraq said. Among spies in the West, he appears to exist in a special category, an enemy both hated and admired: a Middle Eastern equivalent of Karla, the elusive Soviet master spy in John le Carr(C)'s novels. When I called Dagan, the former Mossad chief, and mentioned Suleimani's name, there was a long pause on the line. ''Ah,'' he said, in a tone of weary irony, ''a very good friend.''
In March, 2009, on the eve of the Iranian New Year, Suleimani led a group of Iran-Iraq War veterans to the Paa-Alam Heights, a barren, rocky promontory on the Iraqi border. In 1986, Paa-Alam was the scene of one of the terrible battles over the Faw Peninsula, where tens of thousands of men died while hardly advancing a step. A video recording from the visit shows Suleimani standing on a mountaintop, recounting the battle to his old comrades. In a gentle voice, he speaks over a soundtrack of music and prayers.
''This is the Dasht-e-Abbas Road,'' Suleimani says, pointing into the valley below. ''This area stood between us and the enemy.'' Later, Suleimani and the group stand on the banks of a creek, where he reads aloud the names of fallen Iranian soldiers, his voice trembling with emotion. During a break, he speaks with an interviewer, and describes the fighting in near-mystical terms. ''The battlefield is mankind's lost paradise'--the paradise in which morality and human conduct are at their highest,'' he says. ''One type of paradise that men imagine is about streams, beautiful maidens, and lush landscape. But there is another kind of paradise'--the battlefield.''
Suleimani was born in Rabor, an impoverished mountain village in eastern Iran. When he was a boy, his father, like many other farmers, took out an agricultural loan from the government of the Shah. He owed nine hundred toman'--about a hundred dollars at the time'--and couldn't pay it back. In a brief memoir, Suleimani wrote of leaving home with a young relative named Ahmad Suleimani, who was in a similar situation. ''At night, we couldn't fall asleep with the sadness of thinking that government agents were coming to arrest our fathers,'' he wrote. Together, they travelled to Kerman, the nearest city, to try to clear their family's debt. The place was unwelcoming. ''We were only thirteen, and our bodies were so tiny, wherever we went, they wouldn't hire us,'' he wrote. ''Until one day, when we were hired as laborers at a school construction site on Khajoo Street, which was where the city ended. They paid us two toman per day.'' After eight months, they had saved enough money to bring home, but the winter snow was too deep. They were told to seek out a local driver named Pahlavan'--''Champion'''--who was a ''strong man who could lift up a cow or a donkey with his teeth.'' During the drive, whenever the car got stuck, ''he would lift up the Jeep and put it aside!'' In Suleimani's telling, Pahlavan is an ardent detractor of the Shah. He says of the two boys, ''This is the time for them to rest and play, not work as a laborer in a strange city. I spit on the life they have made for us!'' They arrived home, Suleimani writes, ''just as the lights were coming on in the village homes. When the news travelled in our village, there was pandemonium.''
As a young man, Suleimani gave few signs of greater ambition. According to Ali Alfoneh, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, he had only a high-school education, and worked for Kerman's municipal water department. But it was a revolutionary time, and the country's gathering unrest was making itself felt. Away from work, Suleimani spent hours lifting weights in local gyms, which, like many in the Middle East, offered physical training and inspiration for the warrior spirit. During Ramadan, he attended sermons by a travelling preacher named Hojjat Kamyab'--a prot(C)g(C) of Khamenei's'--and it was there that he became inspired by the possibility of Islamic revolution.
In 1979, when Suleimani was twenty-two, the Shah fell to a popular uprising led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the name of Islam. Swept up in the fervor, Suleimani joined the Revolutionary Guard, a force established by Iran's new clerical leadership to prevent the military from mounting a coup. Though he received little training'--perhaps only a forty-five-day course'--he advanced rapidly. As a young guardsman, Suleimani was dispatched to northwestern Iran, where he helped crush an uprising by ethnic Kurds.
When the revolution was eighteen months old, Saddam Hussein sent the Iraqi Army sweeping across the border, hoping to take advantage of the internal chaos. Instead, the invasion solidified Khomeini's leadership and unified the country in resistance, starting a brutal, entrenched war. Suleimani was sent to the front with a simple task, to supply water to the soldiers there, and he never left. ''I entered the war on a fifteen-day mission, and ended up staying until the end,'' he has said. A photograph from that time shows the young Suleimani dressed in green fatigues, with no insignia of rank, his black eyes focussed on a far horizon. ''We were all young and wanted to serve the revolution,'' he told an interviewer in 2005.
Suleimani earned a reputation for bravery and (C)lan, especially as a result of reconnaissance missions he undertook behind Iraqi lines. He returned from several missions bearing a goat, which his soldiers slaughtered and grilled. ''Even the Iraqis, our enemy, admired him for this,'' a former Revolutionary Guard officer who defected to the United States told me. On Iraqi radio, Suleimani became known as ''the goat thief.'' In recognition of his effectiveness, Alfoneh said, he was put in charge of a brigade from Kerman, with men from the gyms where he lifted weights.
The Iranian Army was badly overmatched, and its commanders resorted to crude and costly tactics. In ''human wave'' assaults, they sent thousands of young men directly into the Iraqi lines, often to clear minefields, and soldiers died at a precipitous rate. Suleimani seemed distressed by the loss of life. Before sending his men into battle, he would embrace each one and bid him goodbye; in speeches, he praised martyred soldiers and begged their forgiveness for not being martyred himself. When Suleimani's superiors announced plans to attack the Faw Peninsula, he dismissed them as wasteful and foolhardy. The former Revolutionary Guard officer recalled seeing Suleimani in 1985, after a battle in which his brigade had suffered many dead and wounded. He was sitting alone in a corner of a tent. ''He was very silent, thinking about the people he'd lost,'' the officer said.
Ahmad, the young relative who travelled with Suleimani to Kerman, was killed in 1984. On at least one occasion, Suleimani himself was wounded. Still, he didn't lose enthusiasm for his work. In the nineteen-eighties, Reuel Marc Gerecht was a young C.I.A. officer posted to Istanbul, where he recruited from the thousands of Iranian soldiers who went there to recuperate. ''You'd get a whole variety of guardsmen,'' Gerecht, who has written extensively on Iran, told me. ''You'd get clerics, you'd get people who came to breathe and whore and drink.'' Gerecht divided the veterans into two groups. ''There were the broken and the burned out, the hollow-eyed'--the guys who had been destroyed,'' he said. ''And then there were the bright-eyed guys who just couldn't wait to get back to the front. I'd put Suleimani in the latter category.''
Ryan Crocker, the American Ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009, got a similar feeling. During the Iraq War, Crocker sometimes dealt with Suleimani indirectly, through Iraqi leaders who shuttled in and out of Tehran. Once, he asked one of the Iraqis if Suleimani was especially religious. The answer was ''Not really,'' Crocker told me. ''He attends mosque periodically. Religion doesn't drive him. Nationalism drives him, and the love of the fight.''
Iran's leaders took two lessons from the Iran-Iraq War. The first was that Iran was surrounded by enemies, near and far. To the regime, the invasion was not so much an Iraqi plot as a Western one. American officials were aware of Saddam's preparations to invade Iran in 1980, and they later provided him with targeting information used in chemical-weapons attacks; the weapons themselves were built with the help of Western European firms. The memory of these attacks is an especially bitter one. ''Do you know how many people are still suffering from the effects of chemical weapons?'' Mehdi Khalaji, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said. ''Thousands of former soldiers. They believe these were Western weapons given to Saddam.'' In 1987, during a battle with the Iraqi Army, a division under Suleimani's command was attacked by artillery shells containing chemical weapons. More than a hundred of his men suffered the effects.
The other lesson drawn from the Iran-Iraq War was the futility of fighting a head-to-head confrontation. In 1982, after the Iranians expelled the Iraqi forces, Khomeini ordered his men to keep going, to ''liberate'' Iraq and push on to Jerusalem. Six years and hundreds of thousands of lives later, he agreed to a ceasefire. According to Alfoneh, many of the generals of Suleimani's generation believe they could have succeeded had the clerics not flinched. ''Many of them feel like they were stabbed in the back,'' he said. ''They have nurtured this myth for nearly thirty years.'' But Iran's leaders did not want another bloodbath. Instead, they had to build the capacity to wage asymmetrical warfare'--attacking stronger powers indirectly, outside of Iran.
The Quds Force was an ideal tool. Khomeini had created the prototype for the force in 1979, with the goal of protecting Iran and exporting the Islamic Revolution. The first big opportunity came in Lebanon, where Revolutionary Guard officers were dispatched in 1982 to help organize Shiite militias in the many-sided Lebanese civil war. Those efforts resulted in the creation of Hezbollah, which developed under Iranian guidance. Hezbollah's military commander, the brilliant and murderous Imad Mughniyeh, helped form what became known as the Special Security Apparatus, a wing of Hezbollah that works closely with the Quds Force. With assistance from Iran, Hezbollah helped orchestrate attacks on the American Embassy and on French and American military barracks. ''In the early days, when Hezbollah was totally dependent on Iranian help, Mughniyeh and others were basically willing Iranian assets,'' David Crist, a historian for the U.S. military and the author of ''The Twilight War,'' says.
For all of the Iranian regime's aggressiveness, some of its religious zeal seemed to burn out. In 1989, Khomeini stopped urging Iranians to spread the revolution, and called instead for expediency to preserve its gains. Persian self-interest was the order of the day, even if it was indistinguishable from revolutionary fervor. In those years, Suleimani worked along Iran's eastern frontier, aiding Afghan rebels who were holding out against the Taliban. The Iranian regime regarded the Taliban with intense hostility, in large part because of their persecution of Afghanistan's minority Shiite population. (At one point, the two countries nearly went to war; Iran mobilized a quarter of a million troops, and its leaders denounced the Taliban as an affront to Islam.) In an area that breeds corruption, Suleimani made a name for himself battling opium smugglers along the Afghan border.
In 1998, Suleimani was named the head of the Quds Force, taking over an agency that had already built a lethal r(C)sum(C): American and Argentine officials believe that the Iranian regime helped Hezbollah orchestrate the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, which killed twenty-nine people, and the attack on the Jewish center in the same city two years later, which killed eighty-five. Suleimani has built the Quds Force into an organization with extraordinary reach, with branches focussed on intelligence, finance, politics, sabotage, and special operations. With a base in the former U.S. Embassy compound in Tehran, the force has between ten thousand and twenty thousand members, divided between combatants and those who train and oversee foreign assets. Its members are picked for their skill and their allegiance to the doctrine of the Islamic Revolution (as well as, in some cases, their family connections). According to the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, fighters are recruited throughout the region, trained in Shiraz and Tehran, indoctrinated at the Jerusalem Operation College, in Qom, and then ''sent on months-long missions to Afghanistan and Iraq to gain experience in field operational work. They usually travel under the guise of Iranian construction workers.''
After taking command, Suleimani strengthened relationships in Lebanon, with Mughniyeh and with Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's chief. By then, the Israeli military had occupied southern Lebanon for sixteen years, and Hezbollah was eager to take control of the country, so Suleimani sent in Quds Force operatives to help. ''They had a huge presence'--training, advising, planning,'' Crocker said. In 2000, the Israelis withdrew, exhausted by relentless Hezbollah attacks. It was a signal victory for the Shiites, and, Crocker said, ''another example of how countries like Syria and Iran can play a long game, knowing that we can't.''
Since then, the regime has given aid to a variety of militant Islamist groups opposed to America's allies in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The help has gone not only to Shiites but also to Sunni groups like Hamas'--helping to form an archipelago of alliances that stretches from Baghdad to Beirut. ''No one in Tehran started out with a master plan to build the Axis of Resistance, but opportunities presented themselves,'' a Western diplomat in Baghdad told me. ''In each case, Suleimani was smarter, faster, and better resourced than anyone else in the region. By grasping at opportunities as they came, he built the thing, slowly but surely.''
In the chaotic days after the attacks of September 11th, Ryan Crocker, then a senior State Department official, flew discreetly to Geneva to meet a group of Iranian diplomats. ''I'd fly out on a Friday and then back on Sunday, so nobody in the office knew where I'd been,'' Crocker told me. ''We'd stay up all night in those meetings.'' It seemed clear to Crocker that the Iranians were answering to Suleimani, whom they referred to as ''Haji Qassem,'' and that they were eager to help the United States destroy their mutual enemy, the Taliban. Although the United States and Iran broke off diplomatic relations in 1980, after American diplomats in Tehran were taken hostage, Crocker wasn't surprised to find that Suleimani was flexible. ''You don't live through eight years of brutal war without being pretty pragmatic,'' he said. Sometimes Suleimani passed messages to Crocker, but he avoided putting anything in writing. ''Haji Qassem's way too smart for that,'' Crocker said. ''He's not going to leave paper trails for the Americans.''
Before the bombing began, Crocker sensed that the Iranians were growing impatient with the Bush Administration, thinking that it was taking too long to attack the Taliban. At a meeting in early October, 2001, the lead Iranian negotiator stood up and slammed a sheaf of papers on the table. ''If you guys don't stop building these fairy-tale governments in the sky, and actually start doing some shooting on the ground, none of this is ever going to happen!'' he shouted. ''When you're ready to talk about serious fighting, you know where to find me.'' He stomped out of the room. ''It was a great moment,'' Crocker said.
The co¶peration between the two countries lasted through the initial phase of the war. At one point, the lead negotiator handed Crocker a map detailing the disposition of Taliban forces. ''Here's our advice: hit them here first, and then hit them over here. And here's the logic.'' Stunned, Crocker asked, ''Can I take notes?'' The negotiator replied, ''You can keep the map.'' The flow of information went both ways. On one occasion, Crocker said, he gave his counterparts the location of an Al Qaeda facilitator living in the eastern city of Mashhad. The Iranians detained him and brought him to Afghanistan's new leaders, who, Crocker believes, turned him over to the U.S. The negotiator told Crocker, ''Haji Qassem is very pleased with our co¶peration.''
The good will didn't last. In January, 2002, Crocker, who was by then the deputy chief of the American Embassy in Kabul, was awakened one night by aides, who told him that President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union Address, had named Iran as part of an ''Axis of Evil.'' Like many senior diplomats, Crocker was caught off guard. He saw the negotiator the next day at the U.N. compound in Kabul, and he was furious. ''You completely damaged me,'' Crocker recalled him saying. ''Suleimani is in a tearing rage. He feels compromised.'' The negotiator told Crocker that, at great political risk, Suleimani had been contemplating a complete revaluation of the United States, saying, ''Maybe it's time to rethink our relationship with the Americans.'' The Axis of Evil speech brought the meetings to an end. Reformers inside the government, who had advocated a rapprochement with the United States, were put on the defensive. Recalling that time, Crocker shook his head. ''We were just that close,'' he said. ''One word in one speech changed history.''
Before the meetings fell apart, Crocker talked with the lead negotiator about the possibility of war in Iraq. ''Look,'' Crocker said, ''I don't know what's going to happen, but I do have some responsibility for Iraq'--it's my portfolio'--and I can read the signs, and I think we're going to go in.'' He saw an enormous opportunity. The Iranians despised Saddam, and Crocker figured that they would be willing to work with the U.S. ''I was not a fan of the invasion,'' he told me. ''But I was thinking, If we're going to do it, let's see if we can flip an enemy into a friend'--at least tactically for this, and then let's see where we can take it.'' The negotiator indicated that the Iranians were willing to talk, and that Iraq, like Afghanistan, was part of Suleimani's brief: ''It's one guy running both shows.''
After the invasion began, in March, 2003, Iranian officials were frantic to let the Americans know that they wanted peace. Many of them watched the regimes topple in Afghanistan and Iraq and were convinced that they were next. ''They were scared shitless,'' Maguire, the former C.I.A. officer in Baghdad, told me. ''They were sending runners across the border to our (C)lite elements saying, 'Look, we don't want any trouble with you.' We had an enormous upper hand.'' That same year, American officials determined that Iran had reconfigured its plans to develop a nuclear weapon to proceed more slowly and covertly, lest it invite a Western attack.
After Saddam's regime collapsed, Crocker was dispatched to Baghdad to organize a fledgling government, called the Iraqi Governing Council. He realized that many Iraqi politicians were flying to Tehran for consultations, and he jumped at the chance to negotiate indirectly with Suleimani. In the course of the summer, Crocker passed him the names of prospective Shiite candidates, and the two men vetted each one. Crocker did not offer veto power, but he abandoned candidates whom Suleimani found especially objectionable. ''The formation of the governing council was in its essence a negotiation between Tehran and Washington,'' he said.
That exchange was the high point of Iranian-American co¶peration. ''After we formed the governing council, everything collapsed,'' Crocker said. As the American occupation faltered, Suleimani began an aggressive campaign of sabotage. Many Americans and Iraqis I interviewed thought that the change of strategy was the result of opportunism: the Iranians became aggressive when the fear of an American invasion began to recede.
For years, Suleimani had sent operatives into Iraq to cultivate Shiite militias, so, when Saddam fell, he already had a fighting force in place: the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of a Shiite political party called the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The Party's leaders so thoroughly identified with the Iranian revolution that Badr's militiamen had fought alongside Iranian forces in the Iran-Iraq War.
The Badr Brigade spent much of its time carrying out revenge killings against Baathists, and largely held its fire against the Americans. But another Iranian-backed militia'--the Mahdi Army, headed by the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr'--began confronting the Americans early. In August, 2004, after the Americans launched a particularly bloody counteroffensive, I walked through a makeshift graveyard in the holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, and found dozens of shallow graves, each marked by a tiny glass jar containing a slip of paper with the fallen fighter's name and address. Many of them were marked ''Tehran.''
Suleimani found Sadr unpredictable and difficult to manage, so the Quds Force began to organize other militias that were willing to attack the Americans. Its operatives trained fighters in Iran, sometimes helped by their comrades in Hezbollah. Suleimani's control over some of the Iraqi militias at times appeared to be total. At one point, a senior Iraqi official, on a trip to Washington, publicly blamed the Supreme Leader for escalating the violence in Iraq. Soon after returning to Baghdad, he told me, he received messages from the leaders of two Iraqi Shiite militias. Both posed the same question: Do you want to die?
In 2004, the Quds Force began flooding Iraq with lethal roadside bombs that the Americans referred to as E.F.P.s, for ''explosively formed projectiles.'' The E.F.P.s, which fire a molten copper slug able to penetrate armor, began to wreak havoc on American troops, accounting for nearly twenty per cent of combat deaths. E.F.P.s could be made only by skilled technicians, and they were often triggered by sophisticated motion sensors. ''There was zero question where they were coming from,'' General Stanley McChrystal, who at the time was the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, told me. ''We knew where all the factories were in Iran. The E.F.P.s killed hundreds of Americans.''
Suleimani's campaign against the United States crossed the Sunni-Shiite divide, which he has always been willing to set aside for a larger purpose. Iraqi and Western officials told me that, early in the war, Suleimani encouraged the head of intelligence for the Assad regime to facilitate the movement of Sunni extremists through Syria to fight the Americans. In many cases, Al Qaeda was also allowed a degree of freedom in Iran as well. Crocker told me that in May, 2003, the Americans received intelligence that Al Qaeda fighters in Iran were preparing an attack on Western targets in Saudi Arabia. Crocker was alarmed. ''They were there, under Iranian protection, planning operations,'' he said. He flew to Geneva and passed a warning to the Iranians, but to no avail; militants bombed three residential compounds in Riyadh, killing thirty-five people, including nine Americans.
As it turned out, the Iranian strategy of abetting Sunni extremists backfired horrendously: shortly after the occupation began, the same extremists began attacking Shiite civilians and the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. It was a preview of the civil war to come. ''Welcome to the Middle East,'' the Western diplomat in Baghdad told me. ''Suleimani wanted to bleed the Americans, so he invited in the jihadis, and things got out of control.''
Still, Iran's policy toward the Americans in Iraq was not entirely hostile'--both countries, after all, were trying to empower Iraq's Shiite majority'--and so Suleimani alternated between bargaining with the Americans and killing them. Throughout the war, he summoned Iraqi leaders to Tehran to broker deals, usually intended to maximize Shiite power. At least once, he even travelled into the heart of American power in Baghdad. ''Suleimani came into the Green Zone to meet the Iraqis,'' the Iraqi politician told me. ''I think the Americans wanted to arrest him, but they figured they couldn't.''
As both sides sought an advantage, the shifting allegiances led to uncomfortable, sometimes bizarre encounters. The leaders of the two main Kurdish parties, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, met regularly with both Suleimani and the Americans. While the Kurds' relationship with the U.S. was usually warm, their ties to Iranian leaders like Suleimani were deeper and more complex; the Iranian regime had sheltered Iraq's Kurds during their war with Saddam. But it was never an equal relationship. Kurdish leaders say that Suleimani's objective has always been to keep Iraq's political parties divided and unstable, insuring that the country stayed weak: the Iran-Iraq War was never far from his mind. ''It is very difficult for us to say no to Suleimani,'' a senior Kurdish official told me. ''When we say no, he makes trouble for us. Bombings. Shootings. The Iranians are our neighbors. They've always been there, and they always will be. We have to deal with them.''
A senior intelligence officer in Baghdad recalled visiting Talabani at his house during a trip to northern Iraq. When he walked in, Qassem Suleimani was sitting there, wearing a black shirt and black jacket. The two men looked each other up and down. ''He knew who I was; I knew who he was. We shook hands, didn't say anything,'' the officer said. ''I've never seen Talabani so deferential to anyone. He was terrified.''
In the years after the invasion, General McChrystal concentrated on defeating Sunni insurgents, and, like other American commanders in Iraq, he largely refrained from pursuing Quds Force agents. Provoking Iran would only exacerbate the conflict, and, in any case, many of the agents operated under the protection of diplomatic cover. But, as the war dragged on, the Iranian-backed militias loomed ever larger. In late 2006, McChrystal told me, he formed a task force to kill and capture Iranian-backed insurgents, as well as Quds Force operatives.
That December, American commandos raided the compound of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a powerful Shiite politician, and found General Mohsen Chizari, the head of operations for the Quds Force. According to ''The Endgame,'' by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor, the commandos detained Chizari, sending shock waves through Baghdad. ''Everybody was stunned,'' a former senior military commander told me. ''All the Iranians were stunned. We had broken the unwritten law.'' Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, demanded that the Americans turn over Chizari. When they did'--reluctantly'--Maliki released him. After the incident, the American Ambassador told Maliki that the next time they caught an Iranian operative they were going to keep him.
A month later, McChrystal received reports that General Mohammed Ali Jafari, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, might be in a convoy heading toward the Iraqi border. According to other intelligence sources, Suleimani was riding with him. A group of Kurdish fighters were waiting to welcome them when they crossed over. McChrystal decided to allow the Iranians to cross the border. ''We didn't want to get into a gunfight with the Kurds,'' he said.
McChrystal's men tracked the convoy as it drove a hundred miles into Iraq, to the Kurdish city of Erbil, and stopped at a nondescript building, which had a small sign that read ''Consulate.'' No one knew that such a consulate existed, but the fact that it did meant that the men inside were operating under diplomatic cover. The Americans moved in anyway, and took five Iranians into custody. All were carrying diplomatic passports, and all, according to McChrystal, were Quds Force members. Neither Suleimani nor Jafari was there; they had evidently broken off from the convoy at the last minute and taken refuge in a safe house controlled by the Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani. ''Suleimani was lucky,'' Dagan, the former Mossad chief, told me, referring to the raid. ''It's important to be lucky.''
Nine days later, five new black S.U.V.s pulled up to the gates of the Karbala Provincial Center, in southern Iraq. The men inside spoke English, wore American-style uniforms, and flashed I.D.s, and so they were allowed through the gates. In the compound, they jumped out of their vehicles and ran directly to a building where American soldiers were working. They killed one and captured four, ignoring everyone else. In a few hours, the four captives were dead, shot at close range.
The raid was carried out by Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, one of the Iranian-backed militias. American officials speculated that Suleimani had ordered the raid, in response to the capture of the Quds Force operatives in Erbil. Within two months, the Americans had killed the alleged leader of the attack and rounded up several of the participants. One of them was Ali Musa Daqduq, a Hezbollah commander who had trained in Iran. At first, Daqduq pretended to be unable to speak, and the Americans nicknamed him Hamid the Mute. But after a time, they said, he started talking, and told them that the operation had been ordered by Iranian officials. For the first time, American commanders publicly pointed to Suleimani. At a press conference, Brigadier General Kevin Bergner said, ''The Quds Force knew of and supported planning for the eventual Karbala attack that killed five coalition soldiers.''
As the covert war with Iran intensified, American officials considered crossing into Iran to attack training camps and bomb factories. ''Some of us wanted very badly to hit them,'' a senior American officer who was in Iraq at the time told me. Those debates lasted well into 2011, until the last American soldiers left the country. Each time, the Americans decided against crossing the border, figuring that it would be too easy for the Iranians to escalate the fighting.
Around the same time, Suleimani struck up a correspondence with senior American officials, sending messages through intermediaries'--sometimes seeking to reassure the Americans, sometimes to extract something. One of the first came in early 2008, when the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, handed a cell phone with a text message to General David Petraeus, who had taken over the year before as the commander of American forces. ''Dear General Petraeus,'' the text read, ''you should know that I, Qassem Suleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who's going to replace him is a Quds Force member.'' After the five American soldiers were killed in Karbala, Suleimani sent a message to the American Ambassador. ''I swear on the grave of Khomeini I haven't authorized a bullet against the U.S.,'' Suleimani said. None of the Americans believed him.
In a report to the White House, Petraeus wrote that Suleimani was ''truly evil.'' Yet at times the two men were all but negotiating. According to diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks, Petraeus sent messages through Iraqi officials to Suleimani, asking him to call off rocket attacks on the American Embassy and on U.S. bases. In 2008, the Americans and the Iraqi Army were pressing an offensive against the Mahdi Army'--Moqtada al-Sadr's Shiite militia'--and, in retribution, the militia was bombarding the Green Zone regularly. Suleimani, who sensed a political opening, sent Petraeus a message lamenting the situation and saying that he had assigned men to apprehend the attackers. Petraeus replied, ''I was born on a Sunday, but it wasn't last Sunday.'' Eventually, Suleimani brokered a ceasefire between Sadr and the government.
At times, Suleimani seemed to take pleasure in taunting his American counterparts, and stories of his exploits spread. In the summer of 2006, during the thirty-four-day war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, the violence in Baghdad appeared to ebb. When the fighting ended, the Iraqi politician told me, Suleimani supposedly sent a message to the American command. ''I hope you have been enjoying the peace and quiet in Baghdad,'' it read. ''I've been busy in Beirut!''
In a speech in 1990, Khamenei said that the mission of the Quds Force is to ''establish popular Hezbollah cells all over the world.'' Although that goal has not been met, Hezbollah has become the most influential force in Lebanon'--a military power and a political party that nearly supersedes the state. Some experts on the region believe that it has grown less dependent on Iran as it has matured. But, at a dinner in Beirut last year, Walid Joumblatt, a Lebanese politician, complained that Hezbollah's leaders were still in thrall to Tehran. ''You have to sit and talk with them, but what do you say?'' he said to me. ''They don't decide. It's Khamenei and Qassem Suleimani who decide.''
Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has endorsed the concept of Velayat-e Faqih, which recognizes Iran's Supreme Leader as the ultimate authority, and he has acknowledged the presence of Quds Force operatives in Lebanon. From 2000 to 2006, Iran contributed a hundred million dollars a year to Hezbollah. Its fighters are attractive proxies: unlike the Iranians, they speak Arabic, making them better equipped to operate in Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world. Working with the Iranians, they have either launched or prepared to launch attacks in Cyprus, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
They don't always act together. After a Hezbollah operative attacked a tour bus filled with Israelis in Bulgaria, last July, American authorities learned that Suleimani had asked his subordinates, ''Does anyone know about this?'' No one did. ''Hezbollah acted on its own in that one,'' an American defense official told me. Nonetheless, the Quds Force appears to have been involved in a number of the most significant moments in Lebanon's recent history. In 2006, Nasrallah ordered a group of his fighters to kidnap Israeli soldiers'--an operation that the Middle Eastern security official told me was carried out with Suleimani's help. A brief but fierce war ensued, in which the Israel Defense Forces destroyed much of Lebanon. ''I don't think Suleimani expected that reaction,'' the official said.
The question of Iranian influence in Lebanon resurfaced in 2011, when the United Nations-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon charged four senior members of Hezbollah with assassinating the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, in 2005. Hariri, a Sunni, had been trying to take Lebanon out of the Iranian-Syrian orbit. On Valentine's Day, he was killed by a suicide truck bomb whose payload weighed more than five thousand pounds.
Prosecutors identified the alleged Hezbollah assassins by means of ''co-location analysis'''--matching disposable cell phones used at the time of the murder with other phones that belonged to the suspects. They refrained from indicting Syrian officials, but, they said, they had convincing evidence that Assad's government was involved in Hariri's killing. A senior investigator for the Special Tribunal told me that there was also reason to suspect the Iranians: ''Our theory of the case was that Hezbollah pulled the trigger, but could not and would not have done so without the blessing and logistical support from both Syria and Iran.'' One of the phones believed to have been used by the killers had made at least a dozen calls to Iran before and after the assassination. But investigators told me that they didn't know who in Iran was called, and that they couldn't persuade Western intelligence agencies to help them. As it turned out, the agencies knew quite a bit. The senior intelligence officer told me that Iranian operatives were overheard talking minutes before the assassination. ''There were Iranians on the phones directing the attack,'' he said. Robert Baer, a former senior C.I.A. official, told me, ''If indeed Iran was involved, Suleimani was undoubtedly at the center of this.''
Meanwhile, the four Hezbollah suspects in the killing have disappeared. One of them, Mustafa Badreddine'--Imad Mughniyeh's brother-in-law and a longtime Hezbollah bomb maker'--was spotted in Syria by the rebels, who say that he is fighting for Assad.
On December 22, 2010, James Jeffrey, the American Ambassador to Iraq, and General Lloyd Austin, the top American commander there, issued a note of congratulations to the Iraqi people on the formation of a new government, led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The country had been without a government for nine months, after parliamentary elections ended in an impasse. The composition of the government was critical; at the time of the election, there were still nearly a hundred thousand American troops in the country, and U.S. commanders were still hoping to leave a residual force behind. ''We look forward to working with the new coalition government in furthering our common vision of a democratic Iraq,'' the two men said.
What Jeffrey and Austin didn't say was that the crucial deal that brought the Iraqi government together was made not by them but by Suleimani. In the months before, according to several Iraqi and Western officials, Suleimani invited senior Shiite and Kurdish leaders to meet with him in Tehran and Qom, and extracted from them a promise to support Maliki, his preferred candidate. The deal had a complex array of enticements. Maliki and Assad disliked each other; Suleimani brought them together by forging an agreement to build a lucrative oil pipeline from Iraq to the Syrian border. In order to bring the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in line, Suleimani agreed to place his men in the Iraqi service ministries.
Most remarkable, according to the Iraqi and Western officials, were the two conditions that Suleimani imposed on the Iraqis. The first was that Jalal Talabani, a longtime friend of the Iranian regime, become President. The second was that Maliki and his coalition partners insist that all American troops leave the country. ''Suleimani said: no Americans,'' the former Iraqi leader told me. ''A ten-year relationship, down the drain.''
Iraqi officials told me that, at the time of Jeffrey's announcement, the Americans knew that Suleimani had pushed them out of the country but were too embarrassed to admit it in public. ''We were laughing at the Americans,'' the former Iraqi leader told me, growing angry as he recalled the situation. ''Fuck it! Fuck it!'' he said. ''Suleimani completely outmaneuvered them, and in public they were congratulating themselves for putting the government together.''
The deal was a heavy blow to Ayad Allawi, a pro-American secular politician whose party had won the most parliamentary seats in the elections, but who failed to put together a majority coalition. In an interview in Jordan, he said that with U.S. backing he could have built a majority. Instead, the Americans pushed him aside in favor of Maliki. He told me that Vice-President Joe Biden called to tell him to abandon his bid for Prime Minister, saying, ''You can't form a government.''
Allawi said he suspected that the Americans weren't willing to deal with the trouble the Iranians would have made if he had become Prime Minister. They wanted to stay in Iraq, he said, but only if the effort involved was minimal. ''I needed American support,'' he said. ''But they wanted to leave, and they handed the country to the Iranians. Iraq is a failed state now, an Iranian colony.''
According to American and Iraqi former officials, Suleimani exerts leverage over Iraqi politics by paying officials, by subsidizing newspapers and television stations, and, when necessary, by intimidation. Few are immune to his enticements. ''I have yet to see one Shia political party not taking money from Qassem Suleimani,'' the former senior Iraqi official told me. ''He's the most powerful man in Iraq, without question.''
Even Maliki often feels like a prisoner of the Iranians. Exiled by Saddam, Maliki lived for a short time in Iran, but then moved to Syria'--in part to escape Iranian influence, Iraqis who know him say. Crocker said that Maliki once told him, ''You can't know what arrogance is until you are an Iraqi Arab forced to take refuge with the Iranians.'' The Iraqi politician, who is close to both men, told me that Maliki resents Suleimani, and that the feeling is mutual. ''Maliki says Suleimani doesn't listen,'' he told me. ''Suleimani says Maliki just lies.''
Still, Maliki may be amply repaying Suleimani for his efforts to make him Prime Minister. According to the former senior intelligence officer, Maliki's government is presiding over a number of schemes, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars a year, to help the Iranian regime outwit Western economic sanctions. A prominent Iraqi businessman told me that Iranian-backed agents regularly use the Iraqi banking system to undertake fraudulent transactions that allow them to sell Iraqi currency at a huge profit. ''If the banks refuse, they are shut down by the government,'' he said.
The other main source of revenue for the Iranians is oil, officials say: Maliki's government sets aside the equivalent of two hundred thousand barrels of oil a day'--about twenty million dollars' worth, at current prices'--and sends the money to Suleimani. In this way, the Quds Force has made itself immune to the economic pressures of Western sanctions. ''It's a self-funding covert-action program,'' the former senior intelligence officer said. ''Suleimani doesn't even need the Iranian budget to fund his operations.''
Last December, when Assad's regime appeared close to collapse, American officials spotted Syrian technicians preparing bombs carrying the nerve agent sarin to be loaded onto aircraft. All indications were that they were plotting an enormous chemical attack. Frantic, the Americans called leaders in Russia, who called their counterparts in Tehran. According to the American defense official, Suleimani appeared to be instrumental in persuading Assad to refrain from using the weapons.
Suleimani's sentiments about the ethics of chemical weapons are unknown. During the Iran-Iraq War, thousands of Iranian soldiers suffered from chemical attacks, and the survivors still speak publicly of the trauma. But some American officials believe that his efforts to restrain Assad had a more pragmatic inspiration: the fear of provoking American military intervention. ''Both the Russians and the Iranians have said to Assad, 'We can't support you in the court of world opinion if you use this stuff,' '' a former senior American military official said.
The regime is believed to have used chemical weapons at least fourteen times since last year. Yet even after the enormous sarin attack on August 21st, which killed fourteen hundred civilians, Suleimani's support for Syria has been unbending. To save Assad, Suleimani has called on every asset he built since taking over the Quds Force: Hezbollah fighters, Shiite militiamen from around the Arab world, and all the money and mat(C)riel he could squeeze out of his own besieged government. In Baghdad, a young Iraqi Shiite who called himself Abu Hassan told me that he was recruited to fight by a group of Iraqi men. He took a bus to the Iranian city of Mashhad, where he and three dozen other Iraqis received two weeks of instruction from Iranian trainers. The men travelled to the Shiite shrine of Sayyidah Zaynab, near Damascus, where they spent three months fighting for the Assad government, along with soldiers from Hezbollah and snipers from Iran. ''We lost a lot of people,'' Abu Hassan told me.
Suleimani's greatest achievement may be persuading his proxies in the Iraqi government to allow Iran to use its airspace to fly men and munitions to Damascus. General James Mattis, who until March was the commander of all American military forces in the Middle East, told me that without this aid the Assad regime would have collapsed months ago. The flights are overseen by the Iraqi transportation minister, Hadi al-Amri, who is an old ally of Suleimani's'--the former head of the Badr Brigade, and a soldier on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq War. In an interview in Baghdad, Amri denied that the Iranians were using Iraqi airspace to send weapons. But he made clear his affection for his former commander. ''I love Qassem Suleimani!'' he said, pounding the table. ''He is my dearest friend.''
So far, Maliki has resisted pressure to supply Assad overland through Iraq. But he hasn't stopped the flights; the prospect of a radical Sunni regime in Syria overcame his reservations about becoming involved in a civil war. ''Maliki dislikes the Iranians, and he loathes Assad, but he hates Al Nusra,'' Crocker told me. ''He doesn't want an Al Qaeda government in Damascus.''
This kind of starkly sectarian atmosphere may be Suleimani's most lasting impact on the Middle East. To save his Iranian empire in Syria and Lebanon, he has helped fuel a Sunni-Shiite conflict that threatens to engulf the region for years to come'--a war that he appears happy to wage. ''He has every reason to believe that Iran is the rising power in the region,'' Mattis told me. ''We've never dealt him a body blow.''
In June, a new, moderate President, Hassan Rouhani, was elected in Iran, promising to end the sanctions, which have exhausted the country and demolished its middle class. Hopes have risen in the West that Khamenei might allow Rouhani to strike a deal. Although Rouhani is a moderate only by Iranian standards'--he is a Shiite cleric and a longtime adherent of the revolution'--his new administration has made a series of good-will gestures, including the release of eleven political prisoners and an exchange of letters with President Obama. Rouhani is in New York this week to speak at the United Nations and, possibly, to meet with Obama. The talks will surely center on the potential for Iran to restrain its nuclear program, in exchange for relaxed sanctions.
Many in the West are hoping that Iran will also help find an end to the grinding war in Syria. Assad's deputy prime minister recently offered the possibility of a cease-fire, saying, ''Let nobody have any fear that the regime in its present form will continue.'' But he did not say that Assad would step down, which the rebels have said is a necessary condition of negotiations. There have been hints from powerful Iranians that Assad isn't worth holding on to. In a recent speech, the former President Hashemi Rafsanjani said, ''The people have been the target of chemical attacks by their own government.'' (After a leaked recording of the speech caused a stir in Iran, Rafsanjani denied the remarks.) But a less sympathetic regime in Syria would split the Axis of Resistance, and radically complicate Iran's partnership with Hezbollah. In any case, the Iranian regime may be too fragmented to come to a consensus. ''Anytime you see a statement coming out of the government, just remember there's a rat's nest of people fighting underneath the surface,'' Kevan Harris, a sociologist at Princeton who has studied Iran extensively, told me. As Rouhani tries to engage the West, he will have to contend with the hard-liners, including Suleimani and his comrades, who for more than a decade have defined their foreign policy as a covert war on the U.S. and Israel. ''They don't trust the other side,'' Harris said. ''They feel that any concession they make will be seen by the West as a sign of weakness.''
For Suleimani, giving up Assad would mean abandoning the project of expansion that has occupied him for fifteen years. In a recent speech before the Assembly of Experts'--the clerics who choose the Supreme Leader'--he spoke about Syria in fiercely determined language. ''We do not pay attention to the propaganda of the enemy, because Syria is the front line of the resistance and this reality is undeniable,'' he said. ''We have a duty to defend Muslims because they are under pressure and oppression.'' Suleimani was fighting the same war, against the same foes, that he'd been fighting his entire life; for him, it seemed, the compromises of statecraft could not compare with the paradise of the battlefield. ''We will support Syria to the end,'' he said. '...
Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 09:46
Steven Simon is Professor in the Practice of International Relations at Colby College, following stints as John J. McCloy '16 Professor of History at Amherst College and lecturer in government at Dartmouth College. Prior to this, he was Executive Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies for the US and Middle East. From 2011 to 2012 he served on the National Security Council staff as senior director for Middle Eastern and North African affairs. He also worked on the NSC staff 1994 - 1999 on counterterrorism and Middle East security policy. These assignments followed a fifteen-year career at the U.S. Department of State.
Between government assignments, he was a principal at Good Harbor Consulting, LLC in Abu Dhabi; Goldman Sachs & Co. visiting professor at Princeton University; Hasib Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; analyst at the RAND Corporation; and deputy director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
He is the co-author, among other books, of The Age of Sacred Terror , winner of the Arthur C. Ross Award for best book in international relations; The Next Attack , a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize, and one of the ''best books of the year'' in the Washington Post and Financial Times ; Iraq at the Crossroads: State and Society in the Shadow of Regime Change ; and The Sixth Crisis ; The Pragmatic Superpower: The United States and the Middle East in the Cold War ; Our Separate Ways. He is now working on a new book, The Long Goodbye: The United States and the Middle East from the Islamic Revolution to the Arab Spring .
Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 09:44
January 4, 2020
Trump's Suleimani Strike is More of the Same Old Losing U.S. Game Plan in the Mideast
''The game has changed.'' So announced Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in warning that the Trump administration would take preemptive action to prevent further attacks on American personnel and facilities in Iraq. The killing of Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force, by U.S. drone strikes at Baghdad's international airport shows that Esper ['...]
by Andrew Bacevich
Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft - Wikipedia
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 09:44
The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft is a U.S. think tank founded in 2019 and located in Washington, D.C.
History [ edit ] Initial funding for the group, launched in November 2019,[1] includes half a million dollars each from the Open Society Foundation (George Soros) and the Koch Foundation (Charles Koch).[2]
The think tank is named after U.S. President John Quincy Adams, who as Secretary of State said, in a speech on July 4, 1821, that the U.S. "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy".[3]
David Klion writes: "Quincy's founding members say again and again that 9/11 and the Iraq War were turning points in their careers."[4]
Cofounders [ edit ] Andrew Bacevich, PresidentEli CliftonSuzanne DiMaggio, Chairman, Board of AdvisorsTrita Parsi, Executive Vice PresidentStephen Wertheim, Program Director, Ending Endless WarSee also [ edit ] Coalition for a Realistic Foreign PolicyReferences [ edit ] ^ "Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft". Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. as we near our public launch in November! ^ Stephen Kinzer (June 30, 2019). "In an astonishing turn, George Soros and Charles Koch team up to end US 'forever war' policy". Boston Globe. ^ David Klion (July 29, 2019). "Can a New Think Tank Put a Stop to Endless War?". The Nation. ^ David Klion, "Go Not Abroad in Search of Monsters: The Quincy Institute, a new DC think tank, will fight the Blob at home while advocating restraint overseas", The Nation, vol. 309, no. 3 (August 12 / 19, 2019), p. 21. Further reading [ edit ] David Klion, "Go Not Abroad in Search of Monsters: The Quincy Institute, a new DC think tank, will fight the Blob at home while advocating restraint overseas", The Nation, vol. 309, no. 3 (August 12 / 19, 2019), pp. 18''21.External links [ edit ] Official website
Opinion | Hypersonic Missiles Are a Game Changer - The New York Times
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 09:43
No existing defenses can stop such weapons '-- which is why everyone wants them.
By Steven Simon
Mr. Simon is an analyst at the Quincy Institute and teaches international relations at Colby College.
Jan. 2, 2020President Vladimir Putin, of Russia, during a meeting with top military officials in December. Credit... Pool photo by Mikhail Klimentyev Last week, President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced the deployment of the Avangard, among the first in a new class of missiles capable of reaching hypersonic velocity '-- something no missile can currently achieve, aside from an ICBM during re-entry.
Such weapons have long been an object of desire by Russian, Chinese and American military leaders, for obvious reasons: Launched from any of these countries, they could reach any other within minutes. No existing defenses, in the United States or elsewhere, can intercept a missile that can move so fast while maneuvering unpredictably.
Whether or not the Avangard can do what Mr. Putin says, the United States is rushing to match it. We could soon find ourselves in a new arms race as deadly as the Cold War '-- and at a time when the world's arms control efforts look like relics of an inscrutable past and the effort to renew the most important of them, a new START agreement, is foundering.
Hypersonics represent an apotheosis of sorts for many warfare theorists and practitioners, who have long contended that air power alone can have a decisive effect in a conflict. They have always been wrong. The allies lost about 100,000 aircrew members in an attempt to destroy German industry and the popular will to fight during World War II, but the war in Europe was won with boots on the ground.
In Asia, the war was won at sea, though surrender was purchased with atomic weapons, delivered by long-range bombers. This seemed to vindicate the role of air power, at least until the superpowers concluded that such destructive weapons could not really be used to fight a war. Their primary strategic role devolved to deterring the other side from using its nuclear bombs in a vast, self-canceling enterprise. If strategic air forces did come into play, it would only be to ensure mutual destruction.
Hypersonic weapons, at long last, appear poised to fulfill the promise of air power. In an era when the use of ground troops has proved costly, unpopular and generally ineffective, and where threats might be real but not necessarily ''strategic,'' they are a godsend: missiles whose accuracy minimizes the risk of collateral damage, that pose no risk to aircrews, are unstoppable and phenomenally accurate, can yield an impact equal to five to ten tons of high explosive with no warhead at all yet be capable of delivering a nuclear bomb, and can reach nearly every coordinate on the surface of the earth within 30 minutes. Death from the air, guaranteed on-time delivery.
The United States has been developing its own hypersonic program, under the project name Prompt Global Strike. But the Russians got there first because they've made hypersonics a priority: They offset Russia's inability to sustain an expansive high-tech military infrastructure, and they represent a direct response to Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Mr. Trump withdrew presumably so America could develop stronger defenses against a nuclear attack; with the Avangard in its arsenal, Russia doesn't have to worry too much about penetrating whatever defenses the American military had in mind.
It gets worse. China, India, France and others are all developing similar weapons. The age of hypersonics, when even medium-size powers can deliver unstoppable damage on an American (or Russian, or Chinese) city, is a whole new game.
For starters, hypersonics change the way we think about crisis management. Suppose the United States detected an adversary's launch of a missile '-- or mistakenly thought it had detected a launch, as American authorities had actually done in January 2018. At a moment like this, the stakes are high, and the time frame for decision making is extremely compressed. Throw in exhaustion, intense emotions and uncertainty about the other side's intentions, and you have a seriously volatile situation.
If the contending parties are armed with hypersonic missiles, the time frame for deciding what to do is even shorter, and the uncertainty about what your enemy is targeting and the nature of an incoming warhead '-- is it nuclear or conventional? '-- is virtually total. In such a situation, the overwhelming incentive is to shoot first. Think of two gunslingers in a dark room.
Moreover, hypersonics are a weaponized moral hazard for states with a taste for intervention, because they erase barriers to picking fights. Is an adversary building something that might be a weapons factory? Is there an individual in an unfriendly country who cannot be apprehended? What if the former commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Qassim Suleimani, visits Baghdad for a meeting and you know the address? The temptations to use hypersonic missiles will be many.
Hypersonics also push us toward a slippery slope. They blur the line between conventional and strategic weapons, and their easy, justifiable use '-- say, to kill a single terrorist leader in a crowded city '-- could make it easier to accept their widespread use, with much more destructive consequences.
Hypersonics might look like just a zoomier version of existing weapons, but in fact they are game-changing. When the United States used nuclear weapons against Japan, they were thought to be a dramatic advance on bombs already in use, even those used to generate firestorms that had already devoured the cities of Germany and Japan. It was not until later that they were understood to be categorically different and ultimately too destructive to use.
If past is prologue, deployment of the systems is going to take place well before their ramifications are fully understood. By 1950, as the Chinese Army was overrunning American and South Korean forces, the Truman administration had already grasped the dilemmas intrinsic to nuclear weapons; the Soviet detonation of a hydrogen bomb a few years later drove the lesson home. But between the exuberance of acquiring a new military capability and the sobering realization of its dangers, there is plenty of opportunity to use them.
As someone who worked on counterterrorism on the National Security Council staff, I feel my pulse racing just to consider these possibilities. I've been in too many situations where I know hypersonics would have been compellingly presented as the best possible response. The allure of such a weapon would be nearly irresistible.
The biggest threat from hypersonics is that they come at a time when the world's arm control treaties are falling apart. We need a multilateral agreement to limit hypersonic arsenals and their use, but unfortunately, the United States, which would have to take the lead in orchestrating the negotiation of such an agreement, is uninterested in any deals that might tie its hands.
President Trump, who declared that trade wars are easy to win, has also welcomed an arms race on the grounds that the United States would beat all comers. Congress has only rarely approved arms control treaties '-- and with the Senate in Republican hands, it seems scarcely likely that an agreement limiting hypersonic weapons would find favor.
Beyond American politics, the multilateral nature of an agreement would in itself impose obstacles, because of the number of countries that would need to be involved and the frictions between them. Such agreements have been hammered out in the relatively recent past, including the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Missile Technology Control Regime, which imposed both range and payload limitations on a variety of missiles. But those already seem part of a different era, when the world agreed on the importance of investing in arms control.
For the time being, it's more likely that with the Avangard's debut, other countries will want this capability for themselves. As national programs gain momentum, the development, acquisition, fielding and, ultimately, use of these systems will become very difficult, if not impossible, to stop.
As at the dawn of the nuclear era, when the advent of nuclear weapons became intertwined with an emerging Cold War, a new and radical development in military technology is emerging just as post-Cold War realities give way to new ones. We need to channel the wisdom of the prudent arms controllers of the Cold War, who understood the urgent need to control weapons with terrifying implications.
Steven Simon is an analyst at the Quincy Institute, professor of the practice of international relations at Colby College and a co-author of ''Our Separate Ways: The Struggle for the Future of the U.S.-Israel Alliance,'' was senior director for the Middle East and North Africa on the National Security Council from 2011 to 2012 and for counterterrorism from 1995 to 1999.
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BREAKING: Pentagon Pushes Back On Letter Media Says It Verified That Claimed U.S. Forces Leaving Iraq | The Daily Wire
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 10:37
The Department of Defense pushed back on a letter that the AFP and Reuters claimed that they verified on Monday which stated that U.S. forces were preparing an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
Secretary of State Mark Esper quickly pushed back on the letter after it was released, saying, ''There's been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq. There's no decision to leave, nor did we issue any plans to leave or prepare to leave.''
''We are re-positioning forces throughout the region number one,'' Esper added. ''Beyond that with regard to the letter which I've read once. I can't tell you the veracity of that letter and I can tell you what I've read. That letter is inconsistent of where we are right now.''
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley also dismissed the letter, saying, ''That letter is a draft, it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released'...poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what's happening.''
A U.S. national security official told the AP, on the condition of anonymity, that ''this is not a movement of U.S. forces out of the country.''
Esper doubled down after the press conference, telling reporters, ''There's been no decision to leave Iraq. Period.''
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley: ''That letter is a draft, it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released'...poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what's happening'' https://t.co/P3BdjLUYsc
'-- Ryan Browne (@rabrowne75) January 6, 2020
The letter that AFP and Reuters claimed that they verified stated the following:
Your Excellency,
Sir, in due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.
In order to conduct this task, Coalition Forces are required to take certain measures to ensure that the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and efficient manner.
During this time, there will be an increase in helicopter travel in and around the International Zone (IZ) of Baghdad. This increased traffic will include CH-47, UH-60, and AH-64 security escort helicopters.
Coalition Forces will take appropriate measures to minimize and mitigate the disturbance to the public. In addition, we will conduct these operations during hours of darkness to help alleviate and perception that we may be bringing more Coalition Forces into the IZ.
As we begin implementing this next phase of operations, I want to reiterate the value of our friendship and partnership. We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.
President Donald Trump told reporters over the weekend that if Iraq forced the U.S. military to leave that he would hit them with very tough sanctions.
''We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that's there,'' Trump said of Iraq. ''It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We're not leaving unless they pay us back for it.''
''If they do ask us to leave, if we don't do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before ever. It'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame,'' Trump continued. ''If there's any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq.''
Strategic Sentinel on Twitter: "A 4.9 magnitude earthquake struck near #Iran's #Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant. The depth and epicenter indicate it was a natural event and unrelated to this evenings events. A similar earthquake struck in late December. USGS
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 23:04
A 4.9 magnitude earthquake struck near
#Iran's
#Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant. The depth and epicenter indicate it was a natural event and unrelated to this evenings events. A similar earthquake struck in late December. USGS report enclosed.
earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/ev'...
Imam of Peace / Pray for Peace... on Twitter: "This is being repeated a lot by Middle East journalists: ''Tehran told Washington DC through proxies that it will bomb US bases in Iraq to save face and claim it is a response for killing Soleimani. That's
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 08:45
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TurkStream Officially Launched
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 09:55
Natural Gas News Jan 8, 2020 3:00:pm
Summary The event was marked by an Istanbul ceremony attended by Russia and Turkey's leaders.
by: Joseph Murphy Posted in: Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Premium, Corporate, Import/Export, Infrastructure, Pipelines, Turk/Turkish Stream, News By Country, Russia, Turkey
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Saudi Aramco Shares Hit New Low After Iranian Missile Attacks
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 10:03
Saudi Aramco shares have dropped 11.5% from their IPO peak, and still, the shares are overvalued.
Shares closed on Wednesday at their lowest level (34.15 riyals (($9.10)) since trading began on Dec. 11, after Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at multiple US military bases in Iraq.
The killing of Iran's top general Qassem Soleimani last Friday, and the retaliation strikes by Iran on Wednesday, have caused a massive divergence between sinking Aramco shares and surging oil prices. WTI rose 5% to 65.50 on the news of Iranian missile strikes in Iraq. Brent briefly spiked to the 71 handle, and both oil contracts have faded since the attacks.
Aramco shares didn't benefit from spiking oil prices because its oil facilities are in striking range of Iran.*missile chart
The Sept. 14 attack on Aramco's oil processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia revealed how Patriot batteries failed to guard high-value assets in the country from Iranian threats.
Russ Mould, AJ Bell investment director, told MarketWatch that investors are concerned Aramco could be the next target of an Iranian missile strike.
"Also, there's perceived to be a higher risk associated with assets based in the Middle East as they're so much nearer to any potential further military actions," Mould said. "One of the risks with Aramco was always a higher risk premium because of where they're based and the uncertainty in the Middle East. I guess it's just a reflection of that today more than anything else."
He said Aramco shares are highly exposed to geopolitical risk and won't benefit off higher oil prices.
He added: "In the short term in the international context the shares look expensive relative to their peers, so I personally wouldn't be falling over myself to buy the shares."
Rand Paul, Mike Lee rip administration over 'insulting and demeaning' Iran briefing | TheHill
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 07:15
GOP Sens. Mike Lee Michael (Mike) Shumway LeeTrump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Paul fires back at Graham over Iran criticism: 'He insults the Constitution' Senators introduce resolution warning that Congress has not authorized Iran war MORE (Utah) and Rand Paul Randal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Paul fires back at Graham over Iran criticism: 'He insults the Constitution' Senators introduce resolution warning that Congress has not authorized Iran war MORE (Ky.) ripped the administration over a closed-door briefing on Iran on Wednesday, announcing they will now support a resolution reining in President Trump Donald John TrumpPence: Intelligence shows Iran directing militias not to attack U.S. targets Mnuchin aims to wait until end of 2020 to disclose Secret Service costs for Trump's travel: report Pressure building on Pelosi over articles of impeachment MORE 's military powers.
Lee, speaking to reporters after a roughly hourlong closed-door meeting with administration officials, characterized it as "the worst briefing I've seen, at least on a military issue."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper Mark EsperTrump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Democrats 'utterly unpersuaded' by evidence behind Soleimani strike MORE , Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Michael (Mike) Richard PompeoPressure building on Pelosi over articles of impeachment Trump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers MORE , CIA Director Gina Haspel Gina Cheri HaspelThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump says Iran 'standing down' after missile strike Trump puts US exit from Iraq on hold amid fallout of Soleimani killing The Hill's Morning Report - Worries about war in world capitals, Congress MORE and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley were dispatched to brief both the House and Senate on Wednesday amid days of concerns from lawmakers that Trump was on a path to war with Iran, which on Tuesday night launched missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.
Lee said the officials warned that Congress would "embolden" Iran if lawmakers debated Trump's war powers.
"I find this insulting and demeaning ... to the office that each of the 100 senators in this building happens to hold. I find it insulting and demeaning to the Constitution of the United States," Lee said.
Lee did not say which briefer made the assertion but specified that no administration representative contradicted them. He added that he was going to have a "conversation" with Trump about the remarks.
"I find that absolutely insane. I think that's unacceptable," Lee added.
Paul added that he found the briefing "less than satisfying" and knocked the administration for using the 2002 war authorization as the basis for last week's airstrike against an Iranian general.
"I see no way in the world you could logically argue that an authorization to have war with Saddam Hussein has anything to with having war with people currently in Iraq," Paul told reporters.
He added that using the 2002 authorization to justify the strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad was "absurd" and an "insult."
"Let's have the debate, and let's have some senators stand up," Paul said.
The briefing comes as the House is set to vote on a resolution on Thursday that would force Trump to end hostilities against Iran unless he gets specific authorization from Congress.
Sen. Tim Kaine Timothy (Tim) Michael KaineGraham predicts Senate will take up impeachment trial next week Trump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Paul fires back at Graham over Iran criticism: 'He insults the Constitution' MORE (D-Va.) has introduced a similar resolution that is set for a vote on the Senate floor as soon as next week.
Lee said that he had not seen the House resolution but was open to considering it.
"After today, every time they pull a stunt like this, I'm willing to consider and introduce any and every war powers act resolution," he said.
Both GOP senators were undecided on Kaine's resolution before the briefing but announced afterward that they are now supporting the measure. Democrats need four GOP votes to pass the resolution checking Trump's authority.
"I can say that after that briefing '-- that briefing is what changed my mind. ... I'm now going to support it. I walked into the briefing undecided. I walked out of that briefing decided specifically because of what happened in that briefing," Lee added.
Trump said in a Wednesday morning address to the nation that Iran "appears to be standing down" following weeks of escalating tensions that included an assault on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq by militia forces backed by Tehran.
''I'm pleased to inform you, the American people should be extremely grateful and happy. No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime,'' Trump said in remarks from the Grand Foyer of the White House.
''Our great American forces are prepared for anything,'' he continued. ''Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world."
PedoBear
Gervais was a planned release valve
Ricky Gervais was sending a message to the elite of Hollywood.
Golden Globes Review: A Tame Show for Ricky Gervais '' Variety
Sun, 05 Jan 2020 22:50
Opening the Golden Globes, host Ricky Gervais, claiming it was to be his last outing, made a point of emphasizing just how little he cared about the show. Perhaps he was the only one.
What has traditionally been a shaggy and loose awards ceremony '-- cramming stars into the Beverly Hilton's tight ballroom, then serving generous Champagne pours just ahead of their speeches '-- felt more grown-up than usual in its 2020 outing. Part of that, perhaps, was the energy lent by a particularly tense and contentious year only five days old: Winners including Michelle Williams (''Fosse/Verdon'') and Patricia Arquette (''The Act'') dedicated their time to urging political action at the polls, with Williams placing special emphasis on a woman's right to choose. Even a star as breezily above-it-all as Brad Pitt (picking up a prize for ''Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'') seemed compelled to say something, even if his California-casual brand does not exactly meet the moment. Re-entering his speech after seeming to feint offstage, Pitt told the audience, ''If you see an opportunity to be kind to someone tomorrow, take it. I think we all need it.''
With that in mind, let's say that Pitt was making his best attempt at addressing a time during which it seems perhaps surreal to be honoring actors. (Previously in the evening, presenter Cate Blanchett and winner Russell Crowe addressed the catastrophic wildfires sweeping Australia; Crowe, who sent his speech to be read in absentia, was at home attempting to guard family and property.) And let's stipulate that Pitt's self-deprecating comment about not bringing his mother to the ceremony so as to avoid dating rumors was cute and canny both, and that the cutaway '-- tastefully just-long-enough, and not a close-up '-- to Jennifer Aniston chuckling in the audience was elegantly done, and didn't risk such a thing as bad taste.
Popular on Variety
But bad taste was at times what a viewer craved '-- as much a corrective to bad times, in the form of escapism, as is activism-from-the-podium, and likely more effective in the moment. The Globes were addicted enough to narrative, for instance, to nominate Aniston for the more-discussed-than-loved ''The Morning Show,'' but not tasteless enough to award her over a prestige actress like ''The Crown's'' Olivia Colman. (Indeed, they tasked Aniston with reading Crowe's message about climate change, an uneasy fit at the very start of the evening.) They could elegantly elide 95 percent of unfortunate presenter banter, but gave us the one trainwreck moment (Ansel Elgort deciding to sing his introduction of the Original Song category a cappella and absent melody) to remind us how fun it used to be when the show used to go off the rails. They booked Gervais, a host who couldn't stop talking about how over the show he was, just before delivering a focused, careful excoriation of newcomers to the entertainment space like Apple, whose ''sweatshops in China'' Gervais claimed were at odds with its stars' progressive values. And worse still, they gave us a reaction shot of Apple CEO Tim Cook when his company was mentioned, but not a second one after the sweatshop gag.
When did the Golden Globes become a show that made the viewer feel vaguely guilty for wanting cataclysm? Its reputation, perhaps, was always a bit inflated on the basis of a few instances of ragged speeches and stars caught in the bathroom, but the ceremony had, historically, felt like a respite from the awards season's particular gravity. Inasmuch as a show more professionally produced than ever before can be said to have been a victim, the Globes may be a victim of its own success. A show that has captured a large and growing audience on the strength of its positioning as ''fun'' kind of can't be that when it's a more-scrutinized-than-ever trial run for movie actors on their path to Oscar and a platform demanding something more than burbled thanks to agents. Notably, even the most old-school off-the-rails speech of the evening, Joaquin Phoenix's ''Joker''-esque acceptance of laurels for ''Joker,'' got tangled up not in ego '-- well, not strictly '-- but in social responsibility, thanking the Golden Globes for going meat-free and urging fellow stars to swear off private jets.
That's a worthy goal. But expressed as such, it tended to make subtext text '-- addressing the room exclusively in a way other winners had been doing more subtly all along. Taking on politics in an awards-ceremony speech has value in the form of pure uplift, and Williams and Arquette have become modern masters of the form. But if the other half of Gervais's Apple joke '-- that stars shouldn't bother addressing politics in their speech because they're part of an inherently corrupt system '-- was jaded and ungenerous, maybe he was on to something in that the direct consequence of such speechifying was likelier to be a boost for whatever reputation a star had already been grooming among their peers than action on the ground. (Will any Globes viewer vote in 11 months because of Williams's speech, good as it was? We know precious few of them will quit using the private jets they didn't have in the first place.)
All of which is a crazy thing to ponder after the Golden Globes '-- a ceremony that, even when its attendees declared mutiny two years ago and wore all-black in a post-Weinstein funeral for old mores, managed to generate viral moments! (That ceremony, by contrast, was structured around organized protest that risked losing face and presenting stars in a literally unflattering light.) Gervais, perpetually more shrewd than funny, seemed to suss that out, making a Weinstein crack as he introduced the night's last presenter, Sandra Bullock. The audience all laughed. It felt right: The evening's final outrage was professionalized, risk-free, and taken in the pleasant spirit in which it was intended.
Ukraine Pedo Server
The springboard they are using is an “alleged” Ukrainian
server, somehow connected to crowdstrike and the Hillary server, whic has “mountains
of child porn” in it. They have been talking about this for at least a year
now, if not longer. Check out the hashtag #TVUndergroundHostsCP on Twitter (I’m trying to find out what the hashtag
means exactly, but no luck so far. )
More often than not, this kind of pushing in unison by
these characters is ahead of some upcoming leak, disclosure or news. (Maybe
with the exception of the gajillion indictments:-)) They have been steering the
chatter about pedophilia for a while, and the topic is definitely ripe now
after Gervais has pushed it to the limelight on a major award show on a major
network)
NY Times columnist Paul Krugman says hacker 'compromised' his IP address to 'download child pornography' | Fox News
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 21:42
Published January 08, 2020
Last Update 2 hrs ago
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is appearing to be having technical difficulties as he acknowledged Wednesday on Twitter that his IP address had been "compromised" and used to "download child pornography."
"Well, I'm on the phone with my computer security service, and as I understand it someone compromised my IP address and is using it to download child pornography," Krugman wrote in a now-deleted tweet. "I might just be a random target. But this could be an attempt to Qanon me. It's an ugly world out there."
Qanon is a reference to the group of conspiracy theorists who in recent years spread incriminating myths against many high-profile Democrats on social media.
THE ATLANTIC MOCKS PAUL KRUGMAN AS SUFFERING FROM 'TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME'
Several observers were skeptical of Krugman's claim. Others had some fun at his expense.
"Ok boomer," DailyWire's Jessica Fletcher reacted.
"The biggest tell that you're lying is that no one would be motivated to debase you more than you already have," film producer Adam Trahan wrote.
"Think Mrs. Krugman will buy it?" Grabien founder Tom Elliott asked.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Hours later, Krugman deleted the tweet, saying that the Times was "now on the case" that it could have been a "scam."
"Deleted original tweet. Times thinks it may have been a scam. Anyway, will have more security in future," Krugman wrote.
The Times did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Krugman, the outspoken anti-Trump economist who predicted a "global recession" following the president's election, was recently slammed by a columnist for the liberal magazine The Atlantic, who had diagnosed him with "Trump Derangement Syndrome."
Paul Krugman: Hacker Downloaded 'Child Porn' Using My IP
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 06:24
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman claimed on Twitter Wednesday that a hacker is attempting to use his IP address to ''download child pornography.''
''Well, I'm on the phone with my computer security service, and as I understand it someone compromised my IP address and is using it to download child pornography,'' wrote the Nobel Prize winning economist.
An Internet Protocol (IP) number is a virtual address connected to any given computer hardware that assists with connecting said devices to a broader network like the internet; it also allows devices to be addressed to a specific location of the user.
''I might just be a random target. But this could be an attempt to Qanon me,'' he added, referencing the far-right online conspiracy QAnon which brazenly alleges that President Donald Trump is secretly working to unmask and take down a global network of elite pedophiles, who are in-turn working with the so-called ''deep state'' to take down his administration. ''It's an ugly world out there.''
Well, I'm on the phone with my computer security service, and as I understand it someone compromised my IP address and is using it to download child pornography. I might just be a random target. But this could be an attempt to Qanon me.
It's an ugly world out there.
'-- Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) January 8, 2020
UPDATE: Krugman followed up on his original tweet to vaguely explain that ''The Times is now on the case.'' He provided no further details.
The Times is now on the case.
'-- Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) January 8, 2020
SECOND UPDATE: Krugman has now deleted his original tweet and said he may have been temporarily fooled by a common Internet scam.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]
New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman Claims Hackers Planted Child P-rn on his IP Address?
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 07:12
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/ Culture / New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman Claims Hackers Planted Child P-rn on his IP Address?
By Mike Cernovich 10 Comments
New York Time columunist Paul Krugman has posted what one can only consider a highly unusual Tweet:
Well, I'm on the phone with my computer security service, and as I understand it someone compromised my IP address and is using it to download child pornography. I might just be a random target. But this could be an attempt to Qanon me. It's an ugly world out there.
I've seen a lot in my life '' stuff I hope others don't.
Rarely am I in AWE'..... and BEWILDERED
This tweet'..... I can't stop looking at it.
It makes absolutely no sense to make something like this public.
It is of course possible that someone hacked his computer and used it as a server for illegal conduct. That does happen. But man oh man, why post something like that at this phase?
Utterly incomprehensible.
Update: ''The Times is now on the case.''
The Times is now on the case.
'-- Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) January 8, 2020
Deleted original tweet. Times thinks it may have been a scam. Anyway, will have more security in future
'-- Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) January 9, 2020
Reactions to Paul Krugman's Tweet1998 Paul Krugman: "By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's."
2020 Paul Krugman: https://t.co/YmEm6PqaDk
'-- Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 8, 2020
It's absurd to think somebody would announce an attack on Twitter before it's been resolved. Anyone with any sense would not be worrying about optics this early. https://t.co/KHCXX92SNp
'-- Erik Foreman (@ForemanErik) January 8, 2020
When you hear the coughing from your jail cell, it means Hillary is coming
'-- Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) January 8, 2020
Russian time traveling hackers strike again!
'-- Adam Townsend (@adamscrabble) January 8, 2020
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WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Mother of Sexually Abused Boy Bander Breaks Her Silence, Implicates Disney, CAA, Hollywood Records, LAPD, DA & Industry Elite in Pedophile Ring & Cover-up | Tiffany FitzHenry
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 08:46
Hollywood only wants certain stories to be told. The stories where underage kids are plied with alcohol at the homes of glittery celebrities, like Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, and then sexually abused by adults in the industry aren't stories anyone in tinsel town wants you to hear. Stories about how Disney knowingly allows their underage stars to be surrounded by pedophiles, and that their executives know about, witness, and even partake in child sex abuse aren't stories they ever want the world to hear.
Tammy Garcia has a story Hollywood doesn't want you to hear.
It's the story of a mother, groomed and seduced by powerful dream-makers, whose bright, young, talented son became a Disney Channel star with a Hollywood Records contract, while at the same time he was being ritually sexually abused, and trafficked to Hollywood elite, including managers, agents, executives and others employed by the biggest companies and studios in the industry.
''There are pedophile rings all throughout Hollywood. We stumbled into one of those rings,'' Tammy revealed to me, the devastation and pain in her voice palpable.
That her own son became the victim of a well-insulated, Hollywood pedophile ring is a gut-wrenching and heartbreaking reality it's taken Tammy Garcia more than a year to accept. As a mother, it's been a humbling, tragic, regret-filled nightmare. A cautionary tale, teeming with villains, and a few truly brave heroes, all culminating in a mother and son's determination to fully expose and once and for all end the scourge of Hollywood: systemic, institutionalized, pedophilia.
One of the first steps in accomplishing this came on September 11, 2019 when Tammy's son Ricky Garcia, 20, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in which he named his ex-manager Joby Harte, 37, Joby's Hot Rocks Media business partners Paul Cohen and Sheri Anderson Thomas, talent agency APA, former APA agent Tyler Grasham, and manager Nils Larsen, currently employed by Management 360.
The suit alleges that from the age of 12 years old Ricky was groomed, sexually abused and raped on a weekly basis, and that Joby Harte passed him around as a ''sexual plaything'' to other powerful pedophiles throughout the business.
The day the suit was filed articles appeared in People, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, and TMZ, among others. However, despite the serious nature of the charges and the many and far-reaching implications of the case, not a single outlet pursued the story further.
''The one thing that can fix this is talking about it, but Hollywood doesn't want to talk about pedophilia,'' Tammy says, a reality she quickly figured out the day after the story of Ricky's lawsuit broke, when everything went radio silent. And, of course it did. This story has the power to bring down giants. The problem is, it's the same giants who also own the media.
That's when Tammy Garcia reached out to me instead. Over the course of nearly two months of phone conversations as well as an in-person, sit-down interview, which will be released to the public, Tammy took me through a stunning timeline of events as well as provided me with emails, written witness testimonies and documents compiled for the civil lawsuit, all of which detail the years of torture and abuse her son suffered, the names of those who partook, those who knew, and those who covered it up. The following expose' is entirely drawn from these documents, emails and witness testimonies.
It all began when Tammy and Ricky attended a talent expo in Dallas, Texas, at which Ricky was scouted by over a dozen Hollywood managers, and subsequently signed with Joby Harte. At Joby's urging, Ricky and Tammy moved to L.A., arriving in Hollywood in August of 2011 with a dream, the talent to achieve it, and $20,000 of bank-borrowed money.
The grooming of both 12-year-old Ricky and his mother Tammy started right away.
''I was told stories from day one about the momagers and stage moms, that being one of those would hurt Ricky's career.''
Tammy was instructed over and over, by Joby as well as others, not to be involved in matters of Ricky's career, to stay in the background. Since Tammy's husband had just lost his career, and because they'd borrowed money for the move to pursue this goal, everything was riding on Ricky's success. Thus, at the urging of 'the Hollywood professionals,' Tammy took a backseat approach from the start, a choice she would come to deeply regret.
Not long after arriving in L.A., Ricky teamed up with Emory Kelly and Liam Attridge to form the boy band Forever In Your Mind.
Joby Harte, Emery Kelly, Ricky Garcia & Liam Attridge
Shortly thereafter, during an overnight 'songwriting' trip which was strictly 'no parents allowed,' Ricky and his bandmates, were taken to Catalina Island by Joby Harte and several songwriters, all adults.
Once there, the young teens were plied with alcohol including Scotch, tequila, vodka and champagne, purchased and served by Joby and the other adults. Ricky and Emery both drank to excess, to the point of being sick. After which Joby undressed and bathed Ricky, then Ricky blacked out. Ricky woke up the next morning naked in bed with Joby, having no memory of what had happened.
This began a pattern that would go on multiple times per week for four years, steadily progressing to include all forms of sexual abuse, including rape, as well as abuse by others in addition to Joby Harte.
According to the documents, one of the first people in Hollywood to sexually assault Ricky, other than Joby Harte, was Joby's good friend then-APA agent Tyler Grasham, who has since been fired by APA and has a long list of underage male accusers.
Tyler Grasham at the 2017 Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.(Chelsea Lauren / Variety)
This particular incident occurred when Joby ubered Ricky over to Tyler's house. The two adults were already intoxicated when Ricky arrived. While Joby was throwing up in the bathroom, Tyler sexually assaulted Ricky. Joby later drove Ricky home while intoxicated, another regular event.
In April 2015, Ricky started working on the Disney Channel show ''Best Friends Whenever,'' and in October the band signed with Disney's Hollywood Records.
According to Tammy, ''The band flourished under Disney and Hollywood Records development.'' They released several singles and Hollywood Records produced their first album, ''FIYM.'' They made multiple TV appearances including Good Morning America, performed in concerts, promotional gigs, and continued developing their brand.
As part of the Disney machine, FIYM attended almost every red carpet and music event, such as the BMI Awards in Las Vegas, MTV Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Radio Disney Music Awards, iHeart Music Awards, and countless others.
During this time, FIYM also took meetings with Spotify, iHeart Radio, Instagram, and other influential corporations with the power to elevate their music and profile on a global scale. At this point, Joby was grooming and ritually sexually abusing Ricky on a regular basis.
In April of 2015, after attending the Radio Disney Music Awards, there was an afterparty at the home of Nils Larsen, a manager who represents Big Little Lies and Divergent star Shailene Woodley, as well as Disney Channel and Hollywood Records star Olivia Holt.
Nils Larsen, Management 360
According to the documents, an incident occurred involving Tammy's middle son, who'd been invited to attend the awards with his brother. Nils Larsen aggressively pursued the young man, despite repeated attempts to inform Larsen that he was straight. The message was not being received. Ricky's brother ended up having to jump the fence and flee on foot to escape Larsen's unrelenting sexual advances.
Soon after that night, there was a concert at The Roxy in West Hollywood showcasing fellow Disney star and Hollywood Records label-mate Olivia Holt, which Ricky and his bandmate Emery attended with Joby, followed by an afterparty held at the 21 and over bar upstairs, On the Rox, which Ricky, Emery and Joby attended, along with some members of Hollywood Records and Disney, and other underage Disney talent.
That night, according to the documents and witness testimony, Hollywood Records executive Danielle Leonard observed Joby Harte openly kissing Ricky on the lips. Also that night, according to the testimony of Ricky Garcia, Nils Larsen sexually assaulted him.
In addition to the flagrant groping of children by adults, also in the presence of these studio and label executives and under the supervision of Joby Harte, Ricky and Emery were served alcohol to excess. And Joby, who was himself extremely drunk that night, left with the boys, driving them while intoxicated back to his house where they stayed the night. Ricky stayed, as was very often the case, in Joby's bed, and woke up the next morning next to Joby, naked.
This was a Disney party, after a Disney concert, filled with underage Disney stars, being plied with alcohol, openly. Where child molestation was going on, openly. Brazenly. All under the watchful, knowing eye of Disney employees. And none of it seemed to be a problem, as no consequences resulted. No one, it seems, was looking out for or concerned about the safety and well-being of the kids in the slightest way.
For the general public, it's hard to imagine anything more ''off-brand'' for the company that brought you Frozen and The Magic Kingdom than minors being plied with alcohol and sanctioned child sex abuse. And yet, for those in the business, like Ricky, his band and label-mates, this seems to be the reality of the Disney Corporation out of public view. For kids working to make it in Hollywood, attending 'parties' where they're surrounded by predators, openly sexually abused and regularly plied with drinks, all in the presence of studio and label executives, is more than an everyday occurrence. Many would argue it's expected.
Such was the case once again during the fall of 2016, when Joby Harte and Ricky attended yet another party, this time at the home of Anna Faris and her then-husband Chris Pratt.
According to Tammy and Ricky's testimonies, as well as the lawsuit documents, at the home of this powerful, famous Hollywood couple, Ricky was again served alcohol openly and excessively. And at one point during the night, Marketing and PR veteran Lisa Delcampo, the long-time ''right hand man'' to Lance Bass of NSYNC, and yet another good friend of Joby Harte's, took Ricky, a minor, into one of the bedrooms and sexually molested him after being granted permission to do so by Joby Harte in what one could conclude amounts to nothing less than child sex trafficking.
Lisa Delcampo was in her mid-30s at the time.
Many will recall how Chris Pratt, star of Disney's lucrative Guardians of The Galaxy franchise, came to the defense of director James Gunn after his thousands of truly confounding pedophile tweets surfaced.
Also, worth remembering, that Lance Bass revealed that he too was sexually abused in Hollywood as an underage star.
One honestly has to wonder, is this how tinsel town actually works? Is Hollywood little more than an exclusive club made up of pedophiles, child traffickers, and pedophile protectors?
Then, according to the documents and witness testimonies, there was Sara Espiritu, the 28-year-old Walt Disney Studios employee, who cultivated a sexual relationship with the teenager after Ricky had been groomed, sexually abused and passed around to adults in the industry for four years.
Disney was made aware that their adult employee was having a sexual relationship with their talent Ricky Garcia, a minor, as Joby Harte discussed the matter with Hollywood Records Senior Marketing Manager Michelle Alexander. However, not only did no one tell Ricky's mother, Tammy, but the Disney Talent Relations employee was not investigated for having sex with a minor, nor was she fired from the supposedly family-friendly behemoth.
The Disney Corporation handled the situation by transferring Ms. Espiritu out of Talent Relations to another department within the company.
At this point, an incredibly disturbing pattern is emerging, one which gives new context to Bella Thorne's recent comments regarding the years of child sex abuse she too suffered while starring on a hit Disney Channel show.
The similarities in their tragic experiences are uncanny.
It's easy to hear the echoes of Ricky's story in Bella's haunting words, ''everyone around me saw, and did nothing,'' as Ricky endured the very same thing.
On February 11th 2017, Joby brought Ricky to the CAA Grammy party, which took place at Hyde Sunset on Sunset Blvd., in Los Angeles.
''You want to go to the CAA party. The CAA Grammy party, that's a big one,'' Tammy recalls, trying to make sense of how all of this happened to her son right under her nose, reminding herself of the seduction and the constant hustle of 'trying to make it' in tinsel town, and yet ever-frustrated by her own naivety.
''The night before '... until the morning of,'' read the official invite for the private party CAA hosted for its music clients.
The agency represents clients such as Beyonc(C), Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, Kanye West, John Mayer, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood and countless other global mega stars.
At the 2017 CAA Grammy party, in the presence of arguably all the most powerful stars and executives in the business, Ricky was again openly served copious amounts of alcohol although, of course, he was well underage.
On this night, according to Ricky Garcia's testimony and lawsuit documents obtained by Tammy Garcia, CAA agent Janet Kim, another woman in her 30s, took a turn with Ricky, as Joby Harte once again trafficked him to the high-level industry executive, employed by the most powerful agency in Hollywood. With Harte's permission, Kim sexually molested and abused the young boy he'd been grooming, abusing and passing around town since he was 12 years old.
Janet Kim would later go on to represent the band on behalf of CAA as their music agent and coordinate their 2018 Euphoric tour.
Around this same time, Joby hosted a birthday party for Ricky. The party was attended by his bandmates, and other friends of Ricky, all ranging in age from 15 to 21 years old. According to the documents, witness testimonies, and Tammy's eye-witness account, also in attendance were three Hollywood Records employees: Michelle Alexander, Danielle Leonard, and Lyssa Hurvitz, along with Joby's partners, Sheri and Paul, and other underage Disney talent.
Joby hired a professional bar service for the party, and in the presence of multiple Disney employees and high-level Hollywood executives and gatekeepers, minors were, once again, served alcohol openly and to excess.
I asked Tammy how it's possible that plying minors with alcohol in the presence of executives from companies and studios doing business with these same children could be going on, and on such a regular basis.
''This is all completely normal in Hollywood,'' Tammy explained, realizing, only now that she's out of it, how truly abhorrent it is, to say nothing of the illegality and incredible liability this opens the corporations up to.
Ricky finally confided in someone about the years of abuse on March 28th 2018, when he told Joby's former assistant Alli Bohl. Two days later, on March 30th, 2018, Ricky confronted Joby about the abuse, also revealing at that time that he planned to tell his mother what Joby had done to him.
''Joby went white. He was speechless,'' Ricky recalls.
On April 2nd, less than 48 hours after Ricky confronted Joby, Joby announced a tour for the band's second album, Euphoric, which was a surprise to everyone from the band members to their parents.
Joby had manifested the tour out of thin air with the help of CAA and, in particular, Janet Kim, who sprung to action booking dates for what was to be a 'grassroots, promotional tour.' Joby promptly began spreading news about the tour all over social media, which angered Alli who felt this was, ''a clear manipulation tactic to pull Ricky back in and make it harder for him to escape Joby.''
Ricky had promised Alli that he would tell his mom about what Joby had done to him. But after two weeks passed, and Ricky still hadn't told her, Alli made the difficult but critical decision to tell Tammy herself.
In what Tammy now calls ''a major life regret,'' she met with Joby to discuss what she'd been told. At this time, Tammy wasn't aware of the extent of the abuse nor was she aware of the others involved. As someone who was equally groomed, mentally, emotionally and psychologically by Harte, Tammy listened to and was persuaded by Joby's explanation, that it was ''horseplay.''
''In Joby's presence, my anger would just dissipate,'' Tammy recalls, heartbroken not just by what Joby had done to her child but by her own part in not preventing it as well as her inaction during this specific period of time. After speaking with Joby and the announcement of the tour, Tammy now hoped to handle the situation privately as opposed to going to the authorities.
Understandably, the next year was a tremendously difficult one for Ricky. Though professionally his band toured for their Euphoric album as well as performing as the opening act on the American Idol tour, and Ricky was cast in and filmed a movie, personally and emotionally he was struggling.
In December 2018, after other members of Ricky's family, including his father, were made aware of the abuse, Ricky finally went to the police, filing a report with Officer Josephina Torres of the LAPD.
According to Tammy the investigation was flawed from the start, to say the least, ''Joby was never even interviewed or questioned by the LAPD.''
The other band moms also corroborated the fact that Joby was never questioned by the LADP.
Then, in February, in what was a crushing blow for Ricky, the DA decided not to prosecute, claiming there was not enough evidence, and the case was closed. When Ricky's attorney attempted to press the issue, Officer Torres did not return his phone calls.
The same month, in February 2019, an anonymous email entitled ''Urgent Alert Regarding Joby Harte'' was sent to several hundred people within the industry, including people within Disney which spoke directly about Joby Harte being a pedophile and assaulting Disney talent he represented during their minor years.
I obtained the email through Tammy Garcia, below is a screenshot of the message in its entirely.
Disney conducted a brief investigation internally. The Disney Human Resources Department and Head of Security reached out to Alli Bohl.
Alli and Ricky had a conference call with them, in which they confirmed the sexual abuse. Incredibly, however, nothing whatsoever happened as a result of that email. In fact, Joby Harte continues to represent underage Disney talent to this very day. And just last month he was part of a lucrative deal with Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment for Shazam 2 on behalf of Asher Angel, 17, whom he still represents.
''Powerful people were sent that email,'' Tammy confirms.
One month after the email, in March 2019, Lyssa Hurvitz, who works for Hollywood Records PR Department, was asked to walk the red carpet for the Kids Choice Awards with 'In Real Life,' another Disney boy band formed on an ABC/Disney show, whom Joby currently represents.
While at the Kids Choice Awards, Ms. Hurvitz noted Joby there with the boys, still representing them. Already being aware of the email and ensuing investigation, she once again went to Disney Human Resources to express her concerns. There Lyssa Hurvitz spoke to Soledad Boyle about the situation. According to documents for the civil lawsuit given to me by Tammy, Ms. Boyle told her, ''you are not allowed to have an opinion on this matter and need to do your job.''
Ms. Boyle has been with Disney since 2007. Before becoming a Human Resources Manager at The Walt Disney Studios, a role she still currently holds, she was the company's Internship Program Manager.
The obvious question naturally becomes, is Disney protecting pedophiles?
''Yes, they are. Disney is protecting pedophiles,'' Tammy asserts without wavering.
Another important question is why the LAPD phoned in the investigation, never so much as questioning the accused, Joby Harte, on what were very serious accusation of child sex abuse and trafficking, and how and why the DA decided not to prosecute. How engrained is pedophilia within the closed power system of Hollywood? How protected are the perpetrators, and why? Why do the justice and law enforcement systems appear to be designed to protect the abusers instead of the victims of these vile, unacceptable, life-destroying crimes?
It wasn't until the summer of 2019 when Tammy finally became aware of the full extent of the abuse Ricky had suffered. A complete timeline had been amassed for the civil suit now underway, detailing upwards of 60 specific instances, that this had been near weekly abuse including rape and assault by multiple people whom Tammy now understood were well-insulated pedophiles. She also now began to understand how she, along with her son, had been groomed and manipulated not just by Joby Harte, but by the entire Hollywood machine.
The 'why' of systemic child sex abuse by the powerful is something our society will eventually have to tackle, once we begin to understand what the Garcias' story teaches us, which is the 'how' and the 'who.'
The Garcias' story demonstrates how these behemoths not only knowingly allow pedophiles to surround children, sanction and even participate in abusing them, they cover-up their own crimes, not once, but twice. First when they occur, and again when the media buries these explosive stories.
This closed power system of abuse, criminality and near total narrative control is what has provided a breeding ground for the Epsteins, Weinsteins and Joby Hartes of the world to exist. And stories, like what happened to Ricky, circulating the globe, have the potential to blow it all apart. To make certain the guilty are held accountable, and ensure the future protection of children. A goal everyone should be behind, and any who aren't should be called out and scorned.
The world has recently learned that the former Chairman of Disney Studios, Richard Cook, and former President to Disney/ABC Studios Geraldine Layborne flew around with international child sex traffickers Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell on the ''Lolita Express,'' according to the flight logs. Is it really surprising then to discover that ABC spiked the Epstein story?
Or does it paint a picture of the same type of top down power structure, teeming with pedophiles and pedophile protectors, which Ricky encountered and which both he and his mother Tammy are intent on exposing and destroying.
In one final baffling decision by those who should be concerned with protecting children, the trial in the civil lawsuit, which Ricky filed on September 11, 2019, isn't scheduled to take place until 2021 at the soonest and could easily be pushed back further.
As for Tammy and Ricky, what Hollywood wants right now is their silence. They've been told to keep quiet and be patient. ''Let the justice system do its job.'' Meanwhile, they must endure watching Joby and the other perpetrators of crimes against children not only walk free but continue to work in Hollywood including with underage kids, and the most powerful studios in the world covering up their crimes and appearing to reward them.
Usually, in these high-profile Hollywood cases, the public is kept in the dark about the real facts, justice is evaded and nothing changes. But there's something entirely different about Tammy Garcia and her son Ricky. There's something different about this time in human history. This isn't twenty years ago. This isn't going to get buried and go away. Ricky Garcia will not become another Hollywood statistic, and neither will Tammy. Not this time.
These two have been to hell and back, and they're here to make sure that what happened to them never happens to anyone else ever again.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Periscope, I will be updating as this story continues to develop as well as premiering my exclusive sit-down interview with Tammy Garcia.
I am 100% independent and reader funded, if you appreciate my work, research, the topics I cover and efforts to build a counter-Hollywood, and want to help me take on the current system with a vengeance, the very best way to do that is to become a Patron.
Social media censorship being what it is, be sure to add yourself to my mailing list & never miss a post. Click here, or scan the QR code below!
In Love and Truth,
Tiffany
(116) Mr.E (@EzAsCoWa) / Twitter
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 18:25
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(20) #TVUndergroundHostsCP - Twitter Search / Twitter
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 15:09
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Oscars Will Go Hostless Again in 2020 | Decider
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 07:22
By Joe Otterson, Variety Jan 8, 2020 at 3:33pm
Photo: Getty Images
The Oscars are once again going to go without a host.
Karey Burke, the head of ABC Entertainment, confirmed that the upcoming film awards show will have ''no traditional host'' during her executive session at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Wednesday. Voting for the Academy Awards concluded Tuesday night with the nominations set to be announced on Jan. 13.
''We expect that we're going to have a very commercial set of nominations and a lot of incredible elements have come together that make us think we are going to have a very entertaining show again,'' Burke said when asked why the decision was made to again go hostless.
The 2019 Oscars were the first to go hostless since 1989. Kevin Hart had originally been announced as the host, but he stepped down just days after the announcement after several of his homophobic tweets were resurfaced.
Last year's Oscars, which drew just under 30 million viewers, saw a slight rise in the ratings from 2018, but still garnered the second smallest audience ever for an Academy Awards telecast. Part of the reason viewers returned to the Oscars this past year was no doubt to see if the telecast would go off the rails, given all the controversy that surrounded Hart's exit as host of the show.
Variety had reported in December that ABC and the Academy were debating whether or not to go hostless again. The time crunch was on at that time, as ABC had already begun airing promos for the telecast even with no host announced.
Ricky Gervais Reveals Why He Roasted 'Hollywood Liberals' | The Daily Wire
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 07:23
On Wednesday evening, comedian Ricky Gervais revealed that the reason that he roasted Hollywood liberals during this year's Golden Globes was because they wear ''their liberalism like a medal.''
''I didn't roast Hollywood for being a bunch of liberals,'' explained Gervais via social media. ''I myself am a liberal. Nothing wrong with that.''
''I roasted them for wearing their liberalism like a medal,'' he continued. ''I'm such a snowflake, liberal, I can't even really hate them for it. But my job is to take the piss. I did that.''
I didn't roast Hollywood for being a bunch of liberals. I myself am a liberal. Nothing wrong with that. I roasted them for wearing their liberalism like a medal. I'm such a snowflake, liberal, I can't even really hate them for it. But my job is to take the piss. I did that. 🇠pic.twitter.com/bYwqxiyeKu
'-- Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 8, 2020
On Monday, Gervais took a swing at Hollywood while hosting the award show, and he didn't hold back, telling liberal elites to can their sanctimonious sermons and ''f*** off.''
''So if you do win an award tonight, don't use it as a platform to make a political speech. You're in no position to lecture the public about anything,'' the ''After Life'' actor and creator told the audience. ''You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.''
''So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent, and your God and f*** off,'' he continued, ''Okay? It's already three hours long. Right, let's do the first award.''
In another portion of Gervais' fiery monologue, the actor took a shot at Apple:
''Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. Well, you say you're woke but the companies you work for in China '-- unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you'd call your agent, wouldn't you?''
The scathing monologue was met with criticism from the press, as noted by The Daily Wire.
''I always knew that there were morons in the world that took jokes seriously, but I'm surprised that some journalists do,'' Gervais responded via Twitter. ''Surely, understanding stuff is pretty fundamental to their job, isn't it? Just makes it funnier though, I guess.''
The comedian even offered a list of reminders about humor for the perpetually offended:
Simply pointing out whether someone is left or right wing isn't winning the argument.If a joke is good enough, it can be enjoyed by anyone.It's not all about you.Just because you're offended, doesn't mean you're right.1. Simply pointing out whether someone is left or right wing isn't winning the argument. 2. If a joke is good enough, it can be enjoyed by anyone.3. It's not all about you. 4. Just because you're offended, doesn't mean you're right.
'-- Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 8, 2020
Below is the transcript of Gervais' Golden Globes monologue via The Daily Mail:
You'll be pleased to know this is the last time I'm hosting these awards, so I don't care anymore. I'm joking. I never did. I'm joking, I never did. NBC clearly don't care either '-- fifth time. I mean, Kevin Hart was fired from the Oscars for some offensive tweets '-- hello?
Lucky for me, the Hollywood Foreign Press can barely speak English and they've no idea what Twitter is, so I got offered this gig by fax. Let's go out with a bang, let's have a laugh at your expense. Remember, they're just jokes. We're all gonna die soon and there's no sequel, so remember that.
But you all look lovely all dolled up. You came here in your limos. I came here in a limo tonight and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman. No, shush. It's her daughter I feel sorry for. OK? That must be the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to her. And her dad was in Wild Hogs.
Lots of big celebrities here tonight. Legends. Icons. This table alone '-- Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro '... Baby Yoda. Oh, that's Joe Pesci, sorry. I love you man. Don't have me whacked. But tonight isn't just about the people in front of the camera. In this room are some of the most important TV and film executives in the world. People from every background. They all have one thing in common: They're all terrified of Ronan Farrow. He's coming for ya. Talking of all you perverts, it was a big year for pedophile movies. Surviving R. Kelly, Leaving Neverland, Two Popes. Shut up. Shut up. I don't care. I don't care.
Many talented people of color were snubbed in major categories. Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about that. Hollywood Foreign press are all very racist. Fifth time. So. We were going to do an In-Memoriam this year, but when I saw the list of people who died, it wasn't diverse enough. No, it was mostly white people and I thought, nah, not on my watch. Maybe next year. Let's see what happens.
No one cares about movies anymore. No one goes to cinema, no one really watches network TV. Everyone is watching Netflix. This show should just be me coming out, going, ''Well done Netflix. You win everything. Good night.'' But no, we got to drag it out for three hours. You could binge-watch the entire first season of Afterlife instead of watching this show. That's a show about a man who wants to kill himself cause his wife dies of cancer and it's still more fun than this. Spoiler alert, season two is on the way so in the end he obviously didn't kill himself. Just like Jeffrey Epstein. Shut up. I know he's your friend but I don't care.
Seriously, most films are awful. Lazy. Remakes, sequels. I've heard a rumor there might be a sequel to Sophie's Choice. I mean, that would just be Meryl just going, ''Well, it's gotta be this one then.'' All the best actors have jumped to Netflix, HBO. And the actors who just do Hollywood movies now do fantasy-adventure nonsense. They wear masks and capes and really tight costumes. Their job isn't acting anymore. It's going to the gym twice a day and taking steroids, really. Have we got an award for most ripped junky? No point, we'd know who'd win that.
Martin Scorsese made the news for his controversial comments about the Marvel franchise. He said they're not real cinema and they remind him about theme parks. I agree. Although I don't know what he's doing hanging around theme parks. He's not big enough to go on the rides. He's tiny. The Irishman was amazing. It was amazing. It was great. Long, but amazing. It wasn't the only epic movie. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, nearly three hours long. Leonardo DiCaprio attended the premiere and by the end his date was too old for him. Even Prince Andrew was like, ''Come on, Leo, mate. You're nearly 50-something.''
The world got to see James Corden as a fat p****. He was also in the movie Cats. No one saw that movie. And the reviews, shocking. I saw one that said, ''This is the worst thing to happen to cats since dogs.'' But Dame Judi Dench defended the film saying it was the film she was born to play because she loves nothing better than plunking herself down on the carpet, lifting her leg and licking her [expletive]. (Coughs) Hairball. She's old-school.
It's the last time, who cares? Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. Well, you say you're woke but the companies you work for in China '-- unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you'd call your agent, wouldn't you?
So if you do win an award tonight, don't use it as a platform to make a political speech. You're in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.
So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent, and your God and f*** off, OK? It's already three hours long. Right, let's do the first award.
Dropping T's
Adam,
Just a note of
encouragement about the T dropping. I noticed my kid doing this and he says he
picked it up from his 3rd grade teacher who is an older Gen X lady.
I had to point
out the t dropping for several weeks before he even heard himself doing
it! Now, he goes out of his way to make sure he pronounces all of
his Ts! While reading a book the other day out loud, he suddenly stopped and
said "wow, there are a lot of Ts on this page!" and then I realized
he was purposefully pronouncing them all correctly.
There is hope
after all!
Jim
Green New Deal
Correct Information on California Water Efficiency Laws - Association of California Water Agencies
Sun, 05 Jan 2020 15:41
HomeNewsroomSACRAMENTO '' News media reports have provided inaccurate information regarding water use targets set by Senate Bill 606 (Hertzberg) and Assembly Bill 1668 (Friedman). Neither bill sets fines on water customers for taking a shower and doing laundry on the same day.
Below are facts on the long-term water efficiency legislation that was signed into effect May 2018.
Water agencies are required to calculate a water efficiency standard for their entire service area annually based on indoor residential water use; outdoor water use; and commercial, industrial and institutional irrigation.The standard of 55 gallons per person per day for indoor residential water use is not intended as an enforceable standard for individuals. It is one of several elements used to calculate the overall efficiency standard for a service area.Individuals will not be responsible for State Water Resources Control Board fines. Instead, the State Water Board can fine water agencies up to $10,000 per day if the agency does not meet its cumulative standard.There is no law against showering and doing laundry on the same day. There are no specific statewide laws that require individual households to meet any specific targets. The targets will be set for an entire service area and are scheduled to go into effect in 2023.The State Water Board is working and collaborating with urban suppliers to implement the new efficiency standards. In addition to the 55-gallon standard, targets for outdoor water use and water loss due to leaks will also be determined. These three standards will be used to represent the overall water efficiency standards for each urban water provider.
Additional Resources
For more information on this water efficiency legislation, view the State Water Board's Fact Sheet.
Suggested Resources2020 ACWA Scholarship ToolkitTo assist members in promoting available ACWA scholarship opportunities, the association has updated its Scholarship Toolkit for the 2020-'21 academic ['...]
Outreach HandbookACWA's Outreach Handbook is a valuable tool for engaging legislators, key regulators and administration officials on policy issues that are ['...]
Groundwater Replenishment FrameworkThe Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has prepared A Technical Framework for Increasing Groundwater Replenishment in response to a ['...]
2019 Summary of LegislationACWA's 2019 Summary of Legislation provides concise information on legislation enacted in the first year of the 2019-'20 legislative session that ['...]
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The gig is up: California's latest destructive regulation is already backfiring
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 08:38
| January 05, 2020 12:00 AM
Californians barely had time to ring in the new year before the state's independent contractor law, which went into effect on Jan 1., started wreaking havoc.
The law, formally known as AB5, was supposed to offer more benefits to workers in the modern gig economy. Instead, it has spectacularly backfired on those very workers. Once lauded by Vox as ''cracking down on the gig economy'' by offering workers ''basic labor protections for the first time," AB5 has forced news outlets, including Vox's parent company, to cut ties with hundreds of freelance journalists in California. This is due to the law's stipulation that any writer submitting more than 35 pieces a year be given full employee benefits.
AB5 affects roughly two-thirds of California's 2 million independent contractors, ranging from janitors and childcare workers to retail and construction workers. Notably exempt from the law are white-collar jobs such as medicine and dentistry, but the level of clout matters in this distinction: a physician specialist who contracts his labor is exempt from AB5. A nurse is not.
California has spent decades imposing onerous regulations on its employers and its workforce. There's no doubt that stay-at-home moms who benefited from freelance writing gigs and some of the state's 325,000 Lyft and 200,000 Uber drivers will simply have to eat the cost of the government cracking down on their incomes. But for others, this law is simply a bridge too far.
Despite securing an eleventh-hour legal exemption from AB5, truck drivers began to flee the state before the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve. The California Trucking Association, one of the many organizations challenging the law in court, claims that it's fielding daily calls from despondent truckers, plenty of whom have emigrated from the state or plan to do so permanently. Although truckers have thinner profit margins to cushion the blow of the law, it's not hard to imagine that workers such as interpreters and copy editors, who require multiple clients but are covered by the law anyway, will soon follow suit.
Still, not all hope is lost '-- at least just yet. Uber and Postmates have launched a sweeping court challenge to AB5. They're not the only companies or associations to do so, but their case incorporates the most wide-reaching arguments. As Josh Blackman at the Volokh Conspiracy argues, aspects of the suit likely will not hold up in court, but seeing how Uber's operations have continued unfettered into the new year, it might just be recalcitrant enough to persevere against California's political poison.
If legal challenges don't force California to change course, another development might. By capping the state and local tax deduction, the 2017 federal tax law forced wealthy Californians to absorb the full cost of their state's high taxes. These taxes, along with the state's complex web of regulations, are harming workers and employers alike, fueling a mass exodus of Californians that is already expected to cost the state a seat in the House of Representatives.
If AB5 further exacerbates the trend, it may be the cold, hard hand of political reality rather than the courts that undoes this disgraceful law.
(8) Valerie, RD, MPH on Twitter: ""Over 170 arsonists arrested. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY! There's always some arson every year but I can't help but wonder why the HUGE rise? Three teenaged girls, a nine years old boy, a 79 year old man.. list goes on a
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 08:48
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Australia fires: Rain brings relief but huge blazes expected - BBC News
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 13:59
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Media caption Australia's capital Canberra is engulfed in smokeRain has fallen in fire-ravaged parts of Australia and temperatures have dropped - but officials have warned that blazes will "take off" again.
Sooty rain fell down the east coast, from Sydney to Melbourne, with "torrential" rain reported in some parts of New South Wales (NSW).
But on Sunday night officials warned temperatures would rise by Thursday.
They also said huge fires in Victoria and New South Wales could meet to create a larger "mega blaze".
"There is no room for complacency," NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned on Monday.
"This morning it is all about recovery, making sure people who have been displaced have somewhere safe."
Despite the respite, haze pollution remained dangerously high.
Victoria's Bureau of Meteorology warned that visibility in Melbourne was less than 1km (0.62 miles) in many parts of the city and its surroundings.
The easing of conditions meant valuable supplies could be taken to affected areas.
The army said it had sent supplies, personnel, and vehicles to Kangaroo Island off near the city of Adelaide in South Australia. The island has been devastated by bushfires, with two people killed last week.
The army also sent out reconnaissance and assistance missions in NSW and Victoria.
Hundreds more properties destroyed at the weekend. Rural towns and major cities saw red skies, falling ash and smoke that clogged the air.
But by Monday there were no emergency warnings, following the weather change.
Victoria state had 25 "watch and act" alerts and South Australia one "watch and act" alert.
In NSW, all fires were back at the "advice" level, the lowest alert level.
However, Victoria Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp warned "it will warm up" and the fires "will take off again".
On Monday morning, there was only around 10km between a blaze in Victoria's Corryong and two burning at Kosciuszko National Park in NSW.
"This will be a changing, dynamic situation," he said, warning it was "inevitable" the fires would join across the border.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption BBC Weather's Sarah Keith-LucasMeanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said A$2bn ($1.4bn; £1.1bn) would be committed to recovery over the next two years.
At the weekend, a fundraiser launched by comedian Celeste Barber for fire services in NSW raised more than A$35m in just 48 hours.
A number of celebrities have also donated money to support firefighting efforts in recent days - among them US singer Pink, and Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman, who pledged $500,000 each.
And on Monday, pop star Kylie Minogue tweeted she had donated too:
Turning from orange to greySimon Atkinson, BBC News in Eden, NSW
With its drizzle and grey horizon, the wharf at Eden could almost be an English coastal town.
It's hard to fathom that on Saturday night - as fire threatened and skies turned orange - this was where hundreds of people fled to perceived safety near the water.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption This is what Eden, NSW, looked like on Saturday Image copyright BBC Simon Atkinson Image caption Rain falls on the HMAS Adelaide in Eden on Monday Most have now left: some to their homes as the fire threat eased, others to evacuation centres in bigger towns after authorities warned the wharf wasn't a safe option.
The rain is a welcome surprise, and has given some respite from the smoke-filled air.
But with hot dry conditions predicted later in the week, Eden's people - like many in this corner of the country - are in limbo.
And the navy ship lurking off the coast - poised to help in rescue mission - is another reminder this is far from over.
Australia is fighting one of its worst bushfire seasons, fuelled by record temperatures and months of drought.
At least 24 people have died since the fires began in September.
At the weekend, Mr Morrison warned the crisis might go on for months.
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Media caption The BBC's Phil Mercer says Kangaroo Valley has "a horrible, ghostly feel"Mr Morrison announced the creation of a recovery agency to help those who have lost homes and businesses in the fires.
He has faced fierce criticism for his response - including for taking a holiday to Hawaii during the crisis.
Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop - and Mr Morrison's Liberal Party colleague - said the PM was "doing the best he can", but urged the government to act on climate change.
"We don't have a national energy policy in this country and a national approach to climate change," she said.
"If a country like Australia fails to show leadership, we can hardly blame other nations for not likewise showing leadership in this area."
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Nearly 200 People Arrested Across Australia For Deliberately Starting Bushfires '' Summit News
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 18:48
Authorities in Australia have arrested close to 200 people for deliberately starting the bushfires that have devastated the country, yet the media and celebrities continue to blame ''climate change'' for the disaster.
The fires have caused at least 18 deaths, destroyed thousands of homes, millions of hectares of land and killed hundreds of millions of animals.
A total of 183 people have been arrested by police in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania for lighting bushfires over the last few months, figures obtained by news agency AAP show.
Alex Jones is live on air right now breaking down how the carbon tax cult is seizing this tragedy to push for planetary government and taxation. He's also taking calls from Aussies!
In New South Wales, 24 people were arrested for arson, risking prison sentences of up to 25 years.
In Queensland, police concluded that 103 of the fires had been deliberately lit, with 98 people, 67 of them juveniles, having been identified as the culprits.
''The link between arsonists and the deadly fires that devastate Australia every summer is well known and well documented, with the rate of deliberately lit fires escalating rapidly during the school holiday period,'' reports Breitbart's Simon Kent.
Around 85 per cent of bushfires are caused by humans either deliberately or accidentally starting them, according to Dr Paul Read, co-director of the National Centre for Research in Bushfire and Arson.
''About 85 per cent are related to human activity, 13 per cent confirmed arson and 37 per cent suspected arson,'' he said. ''The remainder are usually due to reckless fire lighting or even just children playing with fire.''
Read also highlighted the link between school holidays and kids starting fires, commenting, ''School holidays are a prime time for fire bugs, but especially over summer.'' The kids have got time to get out there and light, and the most dangerous adults choose hot days.''
Police are now working on the premise arson is to blame for much of the devastation caused this bushfire season. A strike force will investigate whether blazes were deliberately lit, and bring those responsible to justice. https://t.co/TWh1KQycs4 @ebatten7 #NSWFires #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/Dul8dMFrZv
'-- 7NEWS Sydney (@7NewsSydney) January 3, 2020
''Police are now working on the premise arson is to blame for much of the devastation caused this bushfire season,'' reports 7 News Sydney.
New environmental policies that restrict ''prescribed burning,'' where land owners burn off flammable ground cover in cooler months in a controlled manner so it doesn't contribute to bushfires, have also exacerbated the problem.
The fact that the bushfires were deliberately started and have nothing to do with man-made climate change hasn't prevented that being the dominant narrative.
Last week, Bernie Sanders blamed those who were ''delaying action on climate change'' for ''the blood-red sky and unbreathable air in Australia because of raging forest fires.''
Virtue signaling celebrities have also pounced on the issue to push their dogma, including at the Golden Globes last night when Australian-born Cate Blanchett asserted, ''When one country faces a climate disaster, we all face a climate disaster.''
'When one country faces a climate disaster, we all face a climate disaster.'
Australian-born Cate Blanchett took to the stage at the #GoldenGlobes to highlight the wildfires fires ravaging her native country and demand action against climate changehttps://t.co/pVuyhgrFDh pic.twitter.com/Bb25YwfQGi
'-- ITV News (@itvnews) January 6, 2020
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Insta-model Kaylen Ward says she raised $500K for Australia bushfire relief by offering nudes
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:31
A social media influencer is fighting the Australia bushfires '-- with nudes.
Kaylen Ward '-- also known as ''The Naked Philanthropist'' '-- said that she'd raised an estimated $500000 in just two days by offering naked photos in exchange for donations to wildfire relief funds, the New York Post reported.
The 20-year-old Los Angeles model on January 3 tweeted that anyone who sent her proof that they'd chipped in to a list of Australian charities would get a body-baring pic in their inbox.
''I was expecting to raise maybe $1000 but the tweet blew up,'' she told BuzzFeed News on Sunday.
She's hired four staffers to help her sift through the thousands of direct messages, verify donations and respond with a steamy photo.
Ward, who already sells naked images of herself online, figured she might as well do the same for the cause after seeing recent coverage of the devastating blazes.
''I was seeing all the posts on Twitter about the Australian fires and I was really concerned there wasn't a lot of media coverage and not a lot of people donating,'' she told the outlet.
Last summer, her family had to flee one of the fires that tore through California.
''I got to see first-hand how many people were affected,'' she said.
Ward was running the campaign on Twitter, and word also spread to her 50000 Instagram followers.
But on Saturday, Ward says, Instagram deactivated her account, claiming she'd violated its guidelines about sexual content.
The social media platform said Ward had posted ''sexually suggestive content,'' according to a screenshot she tweeted. She denies she broke any rules.
Still, Ward vowed to keep the effort going.
''My IG got deactivated, my family disowned me, and the guy I like won't talk to me all because of that tweet. But f*** it, save the koalas,'' she tweeted.
This story first appeared on the New York Post and is reproduced here with permission.
More than 10,000 Australian camels to die because they drink too much water | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 09:02
Shooters will cull more than 10,000 Australian camels from the air TOMORROW because they drink too much water and their flatulence contribute to global warmingMore than 10,000 camels will be killed by professional shooters in helicopters The massive cull comes after an order from Aboriginal leaders in South AustraliaCommunities complain the feral creatures invade properties in search of waterBy Kelsey Wilkie For Daily Mail Australia
Published: 18:02 EST, 6 January 2020 | Updated: 18:02 EST, 6 January 2020
Feral camels in South Australia will be killed to stop the animals drinking water in the drought-ravaged region.
More than 10,000 camels will be culled by professional shooters in helicopters from Wednesday after an order from Aboriginal leaders in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands (AYP).
The culling, which is expected to take five days, comes as communities complain of the feral creatures invading properties in search of water.
There is also concern the animals are contributing to global warming as they emit methane equivalent to one tonne of carbon ­dioxide a year.
A massive cull of feral camels in South Australia has been ordered to stop the pests from wreaking havoc as they search for water in the drought-ravaged region (pictured: camels grazing at Kings Creek Station in the Northern Territory)
Farmers across South Australia have been facing horrific drought conditions (pictured: A farmer checking his crop)
'We have been stuck in stinking hot and uncomfortable conditions, feeling unwell, because the camels are coming in and knocking down fences, getting in around the houses and trying to get to water through airconditioners,' APY executive board member Marita Baker told The Australian.
The feral camel population would double every nine years if a pest control plan is not undertaken, National Feral Camel Management Plan claimed.
And as camels emit methane equivalent to one tonne of carbon ­dioxide a year, APY has called for the culling to result in award carbon credits being awarded.
Tim Moore, chief executive of carbon farming specialists RegenCo, said one million feral camels emitting the effect of a tonne of CO2 per year was the equivalent of an additional 400,000 cars on the road.
Camels have been causing problems for locals as they go in search of water in the drought-ravaged region
APY executive board member Marita Baker says camels have been damaging homes tryign to get water from airconditioners
However, the Department of Energy and Environment said emissions from feral animals should not be considered in a country's emissions estimate as they are not under domestic management.
'Australia does not report on emissions from feral animals. Therefore, activities that change the emissions from feral animals cannot be subject to an Emissions Reduction Fund method, as they are unable to result in eligible carbon abatement and cannot contribute to Australia's emissions reduction targets.'
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2019 second hottest year on record: EU
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 10:13
The five warmest years on record have all occurred in the last five yearsThe year 2019 was the second hottest ever recorded and a virtual tie with 2016, the warmest El Nino year, the European Union's climate monitor says in its round up of the hottest decade in history.
Data released by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) showed that worldwide temperatures were just 0.04 degrees Celsius lower than 2016, when temperatures were boosted 0.12 degrees Celsius by a once-in-a-century El Nino natural weather event.
The five last years have been the hottest on record, and the period of 2010-2019 was the hottest decade since records began, C3S said.
Globally temperatures in 2019 were 0.6 Celsius warmer than the 1981-2010 average. Earth's temperature over the last five years was 1.1C-1.2C warmer than pre-industrial times.
Last year was Europe's hottest ever.
"2019 has been another exceptionally warm year, in fact the second warmest globally in our dataset, with many of the individual months breaking records," said Carlo Buontempo, head of C3S.
The year was just 0.04C cooler than 2016, which saw temperatures boosted by a once-in-a-century strength El Nino.
'Alarming signs'
C3S also said that atmospheric carbon concentrations continued to rise in 2019, reaching their highest levels on record.
CO2 concentrations are now the highest they have been for at least 800,000 years.
The United Nations said last year that man-made greenhouse gas emissions needed to tumble 7.6 percent each year to 2030 in order to limit temperature rises to 1.5C'--the more ambitious cap nations signed up to in the landmark Paris climate deal.
Current pledges to cut emissions put Earth on a path of several degrees warming by the end of the century.
The first week of 2020 has seen climate-related disasters such as the fires ravaging southeastern Australia and flooding that killed dozens of people in Indonesia.
Scientists say such catastrophes will become more frequent and more intense as temperatures climb.
The UN estimates around 20 million people were displaced in 2019 due to climate-related disasters.
"The past five years have been the warmest on record; the last decade has been the warmest on record," said Copernicus director Jean-Noel Thepaut.
"These are unquestionably alarming signs."
The Copernicus programme uses observations from a variety of satellites, weather stations and weather balloons to produce short-term global and regional climate data which can be compared against reams of historic temperature records.
Its 2019 assessment shows both exceptional levels of short-term heat and a continuation of Earth's long-term warming.
Last year saw the most pronounced warming in Alaska and other parts of the Arctic, as well as large swathes of eastern and southern Europe, southern Africa, and Australia.
In Europe all seasons were warmer than average, with several countries registering both summer and winter temperature highs. December 2019 was 3.2C warmer than the 1981-2010 reference period, C3S said.
Australia was also three degrees hotter than historic averages in December, its Bureau of Meteorology said.
(C) 2020 AFP
Citation: 2019 second hottest year on record (2020, January 8) retrieved 8 January 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-01-hottest-year-eu.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Glacier National Park is replacing signs that predicted its glaciers would be gone by 2020 - CNN
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 06:16
By Christina Maxouris and Andy Rose, CNN
Updated 3:09 PM EST, Wed January 08, 2020
(CNN) The signs at Glacier National Park warning that its signature glaciers would be gone by 2020 are being changed.
The signs in the Montana park were added more than a decade ago to reflect climate change forecasts at the time by the US Geological Survey, park spokeswoman Gina Kurzmen told CNN.
In 2017, the park was told by the agency that the complete melting off of the glaciers was no longer expected to take place so quickly due to changes in the forecast model, Kurzmen said. But tight maintenance budgets made it impossible for the park to immediately change the signs.
The most prominent placards, at St. Mary Visitor Center, were changed last year. Kurzmen says that park is still waiting for budget authorization to update signs at two other locations.
But the glacier warning isn't being removed entirely, she told CNN. Instead, the new signs will say: "When they will completely disappear depends on how and when we act. One thing is consistent: the glaciers in the park are shrinking.
Humans are responsible, scientist saysIn 2017, a study released by USGS and Portland State University said that in the past half century, some of the ice formations in Montana had lost 85% of their size and the average shrinkage was 39%.
"In several decades they will be mostly gone. They will grow so small that they will disappear. They will certainly be gone before the end of the century," Dan Fagre, the study's lead scientist, had said.
And humans are responsible, Fagre said after the study's release.
"There are variations in the climate but it is humans that have made all those variations warmer," he said. "The glaciers have been here for 7,000 years and will be gone in decades. This is not part of the natural cycle."
The melting of these structures is "all atmospherically driven," he added.
But the park isn't a unique case -- glaciers are shrinking across the globe, experts say.
In Switzerland, glaciers have shrunk 10% in the past five years -- an unprecedented rate in more than a century of observations, research published last year shows.
In Iceland, researchers bid farewell to the first glacier in the country lost to climate change. In a funeral-like gathering, scientists memorialized the glacier, known as Ok, with a plaque that read: "Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years, all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and know what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it."
And in June 2019, a new study revealed climate change was shrinking Himalayan glaciers twice as fast as last century.
Recently, the glaciers had lost around 8 billion tons of water a year -- the equivalent of 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools, say the researchers. And that could potentially threaten water supplies for hundreds of millions of people across parts of Asia.
Classified!
Adam,
I'm sure you've had a deluge of responses from your latest
Wes Clark discussion pertaining to supposed his refusal to handle the
"rubblize list," so I won't belabor you with a lengthy email.
However, I can't resist the opportunity to act as a producer.
I'm thirty-three and have been cleared since I was nineteen,
though there was a period of quiescence when I was getting my undergrad. Akin
to the LGBTQIAPP[more letters]+ "community," the set of cleared
individuals us multifaceted with a variety of views on security procedures. The
intelligence community (IC) is generally what people consider when classified
information. But there's also security carve outs for nuclear activities and
scientific research (think some of the stuff Hillary mishandled). If I remember
correctly, the Wikipedia entry does a decent job outlining TS clearances. While
I'm not as versed in the IC practices, there appear to be some pretty cavalier
attitudes to data handling as exemplified by Wes (and Hillary).
Even hearing classified is a data spill and is reportable.
Failing to do so can land the average Joe in hot water. Whenever you get
read-in, that's a large part of the paperwork that one signs: an explanation of
the importance of careful data handling and the ramifications of screwing up
(job loss, loss of clearance, prison for espionage, etc.). There is no
deleniation between seeing and hearing.
I won't ramble any longer, but if you have specific
questions, I'll answer as best as I am able.
TYFYC,
Sir Ladyfingers
Amygdyla Shrinking
Note
Hey Adam,
I'm currently developing a lifestyle & wellness blog
that I plan on monetizing over time through various channels (no, not just
Amazon affiliate links.) I already know John's views on blogging as a viable
revenue source, and I am not sure if you also share a similar view, but we'll
save that for another time! My professional background revolves around writing
and working with WordPress in my spare time, so I am confident that I will be
able to capitalize on this creative endeavor. ANYWAY, getting to the point of
this whole email...
I am currently drafting an article on meditation and
mindfulness, and I stumbled upon a very interesting study while doing research
on the topic. The medical journal known as Psychosomatic Medicine published a study that
found that those "who are mindful may be better able to regulate
emotional responses via prefrontal cortical inhibition of the amygdala."
Simply put, those that are mindful tend to be able to restrain or prevent
amygdala activity, while those that are not as mindful tend to have an
overactive, out-of-control amygdala.
Furthermore, the same study found that individuals who
possessed trait mindfulness, or the ability to enter a mindful
perspective at will, showed a negative correlation with resting activity
in the amygdala. Conversely, participants that showed depressive
symptoms were found to have a positive correlation with resting amygdala
activity (think the amygdala always running in the background.)
Now, I know that correlation does not always imply
causation, but I do wonder whether listening to the No Agenda Show helps dispel
the fear and anxiety produced by the news, which would normally cause
individuals to cyclically ruminate on negative thoughts about past political
events, and the implications said events present in the future. It would
certainly make sense that the psychological trauma that the media causes on the
public would make it difficult for an ordinary individual to be mindful and
present, especially if they don't fully understand how their own psyche
operates. Hence, we now see depression, anxiety, anger, and aggression flowing
throughout the general public. All of these negative emotions point towards a
lacking of mindfulness, and a removal of one's self from the present moment,
which ultimately results in an overactive amygdala! I've heard you mention it
on the show, but now you have the scientific data to back it up. Cheers!
Link to study (ctrl+f "amygdala" to find the
paragraph I pulled from): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679190/
Best,
Derek
Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 09:42
Clin Psychol Rev . Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 Jun 11.
Published in final edited form as:
PMCID: PMC3679190
NIHMSID: NIHMS463108
Shian-Ling KengaDepartment of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708
Moria J. SmoskibDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710
Clive J. RobinsaDepartment of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708
bDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710
aDepartment of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708
bDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710
Correspondence concerning this paper should be addressed to Shian-Ling Keng, Box 3026, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710.
ude.ekud@81kls, Phone: (1) 919-309-6226, Fax: (1) 919-684-6770
The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at
Clin Psychol RevSee other articles in PMC that
cite the published article.
AbstractWithin the past few decades, there has been a surge of interest in the investigation of mindfulness as a psychological construct and as a form of clinical intervention. This article reviews the empirical literature on the effects of mindfulness on psychological health. We begin with a discussion of the construct of mindfulness, differences between Buddhist and Western psychological conceptualizations of mindfulness, and how mindfulness has been integrated into Western medicine and psychology, before reviewing three areas of empirical research: cross-sectional, correlational research on the associations between mindfulness and various indicators of psychological health; intervention research on the effects of mindfulness-oriented interventions on psychological health; and laboratory-based, experimental research on the immediate effects of mindfulness inductions on emotional and behavioral functioning. We conclude that mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation. The review ends with a discussion on mechanisms of change of mindfulness interventions and suggested directions for future research.
Keywords: Mindfulness, Mindfulness-oriented Interventions, Mindfulness Meditation, Psychological Health, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves. Consider, for example: a magician who cuts his body into many parts and places each part in a different region'--hands in the south, arms in the east, legs in the north, and then by some miraculous power lets forth a cry which reassembles whole every part of his body. Mindfulness is like that'--it is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.
Hanh (1976, p. 14)
Mindfulness has been theoretically and empirically associated with psychological well-being. The elements of mindfulness, namely awareness and nonjudgmental acceptance of one's moment-to-moment experience, are regarded as potentially effective antidotes against common forms of psychological distress'--rumination, anxiety, worry, fear, anger, and so on'--many of which involve the maladaptive tendencies to avoid, suppress, or over-engage with one's distressing thoughts and emotions (Hayes & Feldman, 2004; Kabat-Zinn, 1990). Though promoted for centuries as a part of Buddhist and other spiritual traditions, the application of mindfulness to psychological health in Western medical and mental health contexts is a more recent phenomenon, largely beginning in the 1970s (e.g., Kabat-Zinn, 1982). Along with this development, there has been much theoretical and empirical work illustrating the impact of mindfulness on psychological health. The goal of this paper is to offer a comprehensive narrative review of the effects of mindfulness on psychological health. We begin with an overview of the construct of mindfulness, differences between Buddhist and Western psychological conceptualizations of mindfulness, and how mindfulness has been integrated into Western medicine and psychology. We then review evidence from three areas of research that shed light on the relationship between mindfulness and psychological health: 1. correlational, cross-sectional research that examines the relations between individual differences in trait or dispositional mindfulness and other mental-health related traits, 2. intervention research that examines the effects of mindfulness-oriented interventions on psychological functioning, and 3. laboratory-based research that examines, experimentally, the effects of brief mindfulness inductions on emotional and behavioral processes indicative of psychological health. We conclude with an examination of mechanisms of effects of mindfulness interventions and suggestions for future research directions.
The word mindfulness may be used to describe a psychological trait, a practice of cultivating mindfulness (e.g., mindfulness meditation), a mode or state of awareness, or a psychological process (Germer, Siegel, & Fulton, 2005). To minimize possible confusion, we clarify which meaning is intended in each context we describe (Chambers, Gullone, & Allen, 2009). One of the most commonly cited definitions of mindfulness is the awareness that arises through ''paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally'' (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4). Descriptions of mindfulness provided by most other researchers are similar. Baer (2003), for example, defines mindfulness as ''the nonjudgmental observation of the ongoing stream of internal and external stimuli as they arise'' (p. 125). Though some researchers focus almost exclusively on the attentional aspects of mindfulness (e.g., Brown & Ryan, 2003), most follow the model of Bishop et al. (2004), which proposed that mindfulness encompasses two components: self-regulation of attention, and adoption of a particular orientation towards one's experiences. Self-regulation of attention refers to non-elaborative observation and awareness of sensations, thoughts, or feelings from moment to moment. It requires both the ability to anchor one's attention on what is occurring, and the ability to intentionally switch attention from one aspect of the experience to another. Orientation to experience concerns the kind of attitude that one holds towards one's experience, specifically an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance. It is worth noting that ''acceptance'' in the context of mindfulness should not be equated with passivity or resignation (Cardaciotto, Herbert, Forman, Moitra, & Farrow, 2008). Rather, acceptance in this context refers to the ability to experience events fully, without resorting to either extreme of excessive preoccupation with, or suppression of, the experience. To sum up, current conceptualizations of mindfulness in clinical psychology point to two primary, essential elements of mindfulness: awareness of one's moment-to-moment experience nonjudgmentally and with acceptance.
As alluded to earlier, mindfulness finds its roots in ancient spiritual traditions, and is most systematically articulated and emphasized in Buddhism, a spiritual tradition that is at least 2550 years old. As the idea and practice of mindfulness has been introduced into Western psychology and medicine, it is not surprising that differences emerge with regard to how mindfulness is conceptualized within Buddhist and Western perspectives. Several researchers (e.g., Chambers, Gullone, & Allen, 2009; Rosch, 2007) have argued that in order to more fully appreciate the potential contribution of mindfulness in psychological health it is important to gain an understanding of these differences, and specifically, from a Western perspective, how mindfulness is conceptualized in Buddhism. Given the diversity of traditions and teachings within Buddhism, an in-depth exploration of this topic is beyond the scope of this review (for a more extensive discussion of this topic, see Rosch, 2007). We offer a preliminary overview of differences in conceptualization of mindfulness in Western usage versus early Buddhist teachings, specifically, those of Theravada Buddhism.
Arguably, Buddhist and Western conceptualizations of mindfulness differ in at least three levels: contextual, process, and content. At the contextual level, mindfulness in the Buddhist tradition is viewed as one factor of an interconnected system of practices that are necessary for attaining liberation from suffering, the ultimate state or end goal prescribed to spiritual practitioners in the tradition. Thus, it needs to be cultivated alongside with other spiritual practices, such as following an ethical lifestyle, in order for one to move toward the goal of liberation. Western conceptualization of mindfulness, on the other hand, is generally independent of any specific circumscribed philosophy, ethical code, or system of practices. At the process level, mindfulness, in the context of Buddhism, is to be practiced against the psychological backdrop of reflecting on and contemplating key aspects of the Buddha's teachings, such as impermanence, non-self, and suffering. As an example, in the Satipatthana Sutta (The Foundation of Mindfulness Discourse), one of the key Buddhist discourses on mindfulness, the Buddha recommended that one maintains mindfulness of one's bodily functions, sensations and feelings, consciousness, and content of consciousness while observing clearly the impermanent nature of these objects. Western practice generally places less emphasis on non-self and impermanence than traditional Buddhist teachings. Finally, at the content level and in relation to the above point, in early Buddhist teachings, mindfulness refers rather specifically to an introspective awareness with regard to one's physical and psychological processes and experiences. This is contrast to certain Western conceptualizations of mindfulness, which view mindfulness as a form of awareness that encompasses all forms of objects in one's internal and external experience, including features of external sensory objects like sights and smells. This is not to say that external sensory objects do not ultimately form part of one's internal experience; rather, in Buddhist teachings, mindfulness more fundamentally has to do with observing one's perception of and reactions toward sensory objects than focusing on features of the sensory objects themselves.
The integration of mindfulness into Western medicine and psychology can be traced back to the growth of Zen Buddhism in America in the 1950s and 1960s, partly through early writings such as Zen in the Art of Archery (Herrigel, 1953), The World of Zen: An East-West Anthology (Ross, 1960), and The Method of Zen (Herrigel, Hull, & Tausend, 1960). Beginning the 1960s, interest in the use of meditative techniques in psychotherapy began to grow among clinicians, especially psychoanalysts (e.g., see Boss, 1965; Fingarette, 1963; Suzuki, Fromm, & De Martino, 1960; Watts, 1961). Through the 1960s and the 1970s, there was growing interest within experimental psychology in examining various means of heightening awareness and broadening the boundaries of consciousness, including meditation. Early electroencephalogram (EEG) studies on meditation found that individuals who meditated showed persistent alpha activity with restful reductions in metabolic rate (Anand, Chhina, & Singh, 1961; Bagchi & Wenger, 1957; Wallace, 1970), as well as increases in theta waves, which reflect lower states of arousal associated with sleep (Kasamatsu & Hirai, 1966). Beginning in the early 1970s, there was a surge of interest in and research on transcendental meditation, a form of concentrative meditation technique popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Wallace, 1970). The practice of transcendental meditation was found to be associated with reductions in indicators of physiological arousal such as oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide elimination, and respiratory rate (Benson, Rosner, Marzetta, & Klemchuk, 1974; Wallace, 1970; Wallace, Benson, & Wilson, 1971).
Despite the fact that research on mindfulness meditation had already begun in the 1960s, it was not until the late 1970s that mindfulness meditation began to be studied as an intervention to enhance psychological well-being. Application of mindfulness meditation as a form of behavioral intervention for clinical problems began with the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, which explored the use of mindfulness meditation in treating patients with chronic pain (Kabat-Zinn, 1982), now known popularly as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Since the establishment of MBSR, several other interventions have also been developed using mindfulness-related principles and practices, including Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT; Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT; Linehan, 1993a) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999). In this review, both meditation-oriented interventions (i.e., MBSR and MBCT), as well as interventions that teach mindfulness using less meditation-oriented techniques (i.e., DBT and ACT), are considered as a family of ''mindfulness-oriented interventions'', and thus are of empirical interest.
Correlational Research on Mindfulness and Psychological HealthRelationship between Trait Mindfulness and Psychological HealthMany studies of mindfulness to date have reported on correlations between self-reported mindfulness and psychological health. Such correlations have been reported for samples of undergraduate students (e.g., Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006; Brown & Ryan, 2003), community adults (e.g., Brown & Ryan, 2003; Chadwick et al., 2008) and clinical populations (e.g., Baer, Smith, & Allen, 2004; Chadwick et al., 2008; Walach, Buchheld, Buttenmuller, Kleinknecht, & Schmidt, 2006). Before going over these findings, it may be helpful to review questionnaires that have been developed to measure mindfulness. Questionnaires that assess mindfulness as a general, trait-like tendency to be mindful in daily life include: Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (Buchheld, Grossman, & Walach, 2001), Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS; Baer et al., 2004), Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003), Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (Baer et al., 2006), Cognitive Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised (Feldman, Hayes, Kumar, Greeson, & Laurenceau, 2007), Toronto Mindfulness Scale-Trait Version (Davis, Lau, & Cairns, 2009), Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale (Cardaciotto et al., 2008), and Southampton Mindfulness Questionnaire (Chadwick et al., 2008). Some of these questionnaires measure mindfulness as a single-factor construct. For example, the MAAS (Brown & Ryan, 2003) assesses mindfulness as the general tendency to be attentive to and aware of experiences in daily life, and has a single factor structure of open/ receptive awareness and attention. Other questionnaires measure mindfulness as a multi-faceted construct. For example, the KIMS (Baer et al., 2004) contains subscales that correspond to four mindfulness skills conceptualized in DBT's framework: observing one's moment-to-moment experience, describing one's experiences with words, acting or participating with awareness, and nonjudgmental acceptance of one's experiences. In addition to trait measures of mindfulness, state measures of mindfulness have been developed to measure momentary mindful states. These measures include the Toronto Mindfulness Scale (Lau et al., 2006) and Brown and Ryan (2003)'s state version of the MAAS.
Trait mindfulness has been associated with higher levels of life satisfaction (Brown & Ryan, 2003), agreeableness (Thompson & Waltz, 2007), conscientiousness (Giluk, 2009; Thompson & Waltz, 2007), vitality (Brown & Ryan, 2003), self esteem (Brown & Ryan, 2003; Rasmussen & Pidgeon, 2010), empathy (Dekeyser, Raes, Leijssen, Leysen, & Dewulf, 2008), sense of autonomy (Brown & Ryan, 2003), competence (Brown & Ryan, 2003), optimism (Brown & Ryan, 2003), and pleasant affect (Brown & Ryan, 2003). Studies have also demonstrated significant negative correlations between mindfulness and depression (Brown & Ryan, 2003; Cash & Whittingham, 2010), neuroticism (Dekeyser et al., 2008; Giluk, 2009), absent-mindedness (Herndon, 2008), dissociation (Baer et al., 2006; Walach et al., 2006), rumination (Raes & Williams, 2010), cognitive reactivity (Raes, Dewulf, Van Heeringen, & Williams, 2009), social anxiety (Brown & Ryan, 2003; Dekeyser et al., 2008; Rasmussen & Pidgeon, 2010), difficulties in emotion regulation (Baer et al., 2006), experiential avoidance (Baer et al., 2004), alexithymia (Baer et al., 2004), intensity of delusional experience in the context of psychosis (Chadwick et al., 2008), and general psychological symptoms (Baer et al., 2006). Research also has begun to explore the association between mindfulness and cognitive processes that may have important implications for psychological health. For example, Frewen, Evans, Maraj, Dozois, and Partridge (2008) found that, among undergraduate students, mindfulness was related both to a lower frequency of negative automatic thoughts and to an enhanced ability to let go of those thoughts. Two other studies have also demonstrated an association between mindfulness and enhanced performance on tasks assessing sustained attention (Schmertz, Anderson, & Robins, 2009) and persistence (Evans, Baer, & Segerstrom, 2009).
Mindfulness has been shown to be related not only to self-report measures of psychological health, but also to differences in brain activity observed using functional neuroimaging methods. Creswell, Way, Eisenberger, and Lieberman (2007) found that trait mindfulness was associated with reduced bilateral amygdala activation and greater widespread prefrontal cortical activation during an affect labeling task. There was also a strong inverse association between prefrontal cortex and right amygdala responses among those who scored high on mindfulness, but not among those who scored low on mindfulness, which suggests that individuals who are mindful may be better able to regulate emotional responses via prefrontal cortical inhibition of the amygdala. Trait mindfulness also was negatively correlated with resting activity in the amygdala and in medial prefrontal and parietal brain areas that are associated with self-referential processing, whereas levels of depressive symptoms were positively correlated with resting activity in these areas (Way, Creswell, Eisenberger, & Lieberman, 2010). These findings are consistent with the association of mindfulness with greater self-reported ability to let go of negative thoughts about the self (e.g., Frewen et al., 2008).
Relationship between Mindfulness Meditation and Psychological HealthResearch also has examined the relationship between mindfulness meditation practices and psychological well-being. Lykins and Baer (2009) compared meditators and non-meditators on several indices of psychological well-being. Meditators reported significantly higher levels of mindfulness, self-compassion and overall sense of well-being, and significantly lower levels of psychological symptoms, rumination, thought suppression, fear of emotion, and difficulties with emotion regulation, compared to non-meditators, and changes in these variables were linearly associated with extent of meditation practice. In addition, the data were consistent with a model in which trait mindfulness mediates the relationship between extent of meditation practice and several outcome variables, including fear of emotion, rumination, and behavioral self-regulation. In two other studies, facets of trait mindfulness were found to mediate the relationship between meditation experience and psychological well-being in combined samples of meditators and non-meditators (Baer et al., 2008; Josefsson, Larsman, Broberg, & Lundh, 2011). In addition to correlations with self-report measures, research has examined behavioral and neurobiological correlates of mindfulness meditation. Ortner, Kilner and Zelazo (2007) used an emotional interference task in which participants categorized tones presented 1 or 4 seconds following the onset of affective or neutral pictures. Levels of emotional interference were indexed by differences in reaction times to tones for affective pictures versus neutral pictures. A participant's mindfulness meditation experience was significantly associated with reduced interference both from unpleasant pictures (for 1 and 4 second delays) as well as pleasant pictures (for 4 second delay only), as well as higher levels of self-reported mindfulness and psychological well-being. These findings suggest that mindfulness meditation practice may enhance psychological well-being by increasing mindfulness and attenuating reactivity to emotional stimuli by facilitating disengagement of attention from stimuli. There is also emerging evidence from studies comparing meditators and non-meditators on a variety of performance-based measures that suggest that regular meditation practice is associated with enhanced cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning (Hodgins & Adair, 2010; Moore & Malinowski, 2009), outcomes that may have important implications for psychological well-being. Research has also identified potential neurobiological correlates of mindfulness meditation by comparing brain structure and activity in adept mindfulness meditation practitioners to those of non-practitioners. These studies found that extensive mindfulness meditation experience is associated with increased thickness in brain regions implicated in attention, interoception, and sensory processing, including the prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula (Lazar et al., 2005); increased activation in brain areas involved in processing of distracting events and emotions, which include the rostral anterior cingulate cortex and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, respectively (H¶lzel et al., 2007); and greater gray matter concentration in brain areas that have been found to be active during meditation, including the right anterior insula, left inferior temporal gyrus, and right hippocampus (H¶lzel et al., 2008). These findings are consistent with the premise that systematic training in mindfulness meditation induces changes in attention, awareness, and emotion, which can be assessed and identified at subjective, behavioral, and neurobiological levels (cf. Treadway & Lazar, 2009).
Overall, evidence from correlational research suggests that mindfulness is positively associated with a variety of indicators of psychological health, such as higher levels of positive affect, life satisfaction, vitality, and adaptive emotion regulation, and lower levels of negative affect and psychopathological symptoms. There is also burgeoning evidence from neurobiological and laboratory behavioral research that indicates the potential roles of trait mindfulness and mindfulness meditation practices in reducing reactivity to emotional stimuli and enhancing psychological well-being. Given the correlational nature of these data, experimental studies are needed to clarify the directional links between mindfulness and psychological well-being. Does training in mindfulness practices result in improvements in psychological well-being? Does psychological well-being facilitate greater mindfulness and/or inclination towards engagement in mindfulness practice? The next section reviews empirical evidence from studies of the effects of mindfulness-oriented interventions on psychological health.
Controlled Studies of Mindfulness-Oriented InterventionsSeveral mindfulness-oriented interventions have been developed and received much research attention within the past two decades, including MBSR, MBCT, DBT and ACT. Some research on these interventions has been uncontrolled and some has focused primarily on physical health outcomes. In this section, we limit our review to published, peer-reviewed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that assessed psychological health outcomes in adult populations. Some other promising interventions have also incorporated mindfulness techniques, including mindfulness-based relapse prevention (Witkiewitz, Marlatt, & Walker, 2005) and exposure-based cognitive therapy for depression (Hayes, Beevers, Feldman, Laurenceau, & Perlman, 2005), but no RCTs of those interventions have yet been published.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): Description of Intervention and Review of Controlled StudiesMBSR is a group-based intervention program originally designed as an adjunct treatment for patients with chronic pain (Kabat-Zinn, 1982; 1990). The program offers intensive training in mindfulness meditation to help individuals relate to their physical and psychological conditions in more accepting and nonjudgmental ways. The program consists of an eight-to-ten week course, in which a group of up to thirty participants meet for two to two and a half hours per week for mindfulness meditation instruction and training (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). In addition to in-class mindfulness exercises, participants are encouraged to engage in home mindfulness practices and attend an all-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat. The premise of MBSR is that with repeated training in mindfulness meditation, individuals will eventually learn to be less reactive and judgmental toward their experiences, and more able to recognize, and break free from, habitual and maladaptive patterns of thinking and behavior.
A number of RCTs of MBSR have been conducted among clinical and non-clinical populations, mostly using a waiting-list control design. Early studies were reviewed by Baer (2003) and Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, and Walach (2004), but several important studies have since been published. Table 1 summarizes RCTs that have examined the impact of MBSR on psychological functioning. Overall, these studies found that MBSR reduces self-reported levels of anxiety (Shapiro, Schwartz, & Bonner, 1998; Anderson, Lau, Segal, & Bishop, 2007), depression (Anderson et al., 2007; Grossman et al., 2010; Koszycki, Benger, Shlik, & Bradwejn, 2007; Sephton et al., 2007; Shapiro et al., 1998; Speca, Carlson, Goodey, & Angen, 2000), anger (Anderson et al., 2007), rumination (Anderson et al. 2007; Jain et al., 2007), general psychological distress, including perceived stress (Astin, 1997; Br¤nstr¶m, Kvillemo, Brandberg, & Moskowitz, 2010; Nykl­Äek, & Kuipers, 2008; Oman, Shapiro, Thoresen, Plante, & Flinders, 2008; Shapiro, Astin, Bishop, & Cordova, 2005; Speca et al., 2000; Williams, Kolar, Reger, & Pearson, 2001), cognitive disorganization (Speca et al., 2000), post-traumatic avoidance symptoms (Br¤nstr¶m et al., 2010), and medical symptoms (Williams et al., 2001). It has been found to improve positive affect (Anderson et al., 2007; Br¤nstr¶m et al., 2010), Nykl­Äek, & Kuijpers, 2008), sense of spirituality (Astin, 1997; Shapiro et al., 1998), empathy (Shapiro et al., 1998), sense of cohesion (Weissbecker et al., 2002), mindfulness (Anderson et al., 2007; Shapiro, Oman, Thoresen, Plante, & Flinders, 2008; Nykl­Äek, & Kuijpers, 2008), forgiveness (Oman et al., 2008), self compassion (Shapiro et al., 2005), satisfaction with life, and quality of life (Grossman et al., 2010; Koszycki et al., 2007; Nykl­Äek, & Kuijpers,2008; Shapiro et al., 2005) among both clinical and non-clinical populations.
Table 1Randomized controlled trials of MBSR
StudyNType ParticipantMean Age% MaleNo. of Treatment SessionsControl Group(s)Main OutcomeAstin, 199728College undergradsNR58 2-hr sessionsNI (14)MBSR > NI: reductions in psychological symptoms, increases in domain-specific sense of control & spiritual experiencesShapiro et al., 199878Medical & premedical studentsNR447 2.5-hr sessionsWL (41)MBSR > WL: reductions in state and trait anxiety, overall distress, & depression, increases in empathy & spiritual experiencesSpeca et al., 200090Cancer patients51197 1.5-hr sessionsWL (37)MBSR > WL: reductions in mood disturbance & symptoms of stressWilliams et al., 2001103Community adults43288 2.5-hr sessions, 1 8-hr sessionReceived educational materials and referral to community resources (44)MBSR > Control Group: reductions in daily hassles, distress, & medical symptomsWeissbecker et al., 200291Fibromyalgia patients4808 2.5-hr sessionsWL (40)MBSR > WL: increase in disposition to experience life as manageable and meaningfulDavidson et al., 200341Corporate employees36298 2.5-hr sessions, 1 7-hr sessionWL (16)MBSR > WL: increased left-sided anterior activation & antibody titer responses to influenza vaccine, reduction in anxietyShapiro et al., 200538Health care professionalsNRNR8 2-hr sessionsWL (20)MBSR > WL: reductions in perceived stress & burnout, increases in self compassion & satisfaction with lifeKoszycki et al., 200753Generalized social anxiety disorder patientsNRNR8 2.5-hr sessions, 1 7.5-hr sessionCBGT (27)MBSR = CBGT: improvements in mood, functionality, & quality of life; MBSR < CGBT: reductions in social anxiety & response and remission ratesSephton et al., 200791Fibromyalgia patients4808 2.5-hr sessions, 1 day-long sessionWL (40)MBSR > WL: reductions in depressive symptomsFarb et al., 200736Community adults44258 2-hr sessionsWL (16)MBSR > WL: reduced activation of mPFC; increased activation of lPFC & several viscerosomatic areas when engaging in mindfulness exercisesJain et al., 200781Students25194 1.5 hr-sessionsSR (24), NI (30)MBSR (a shortened program) = SR > NI: reductions in distress & increase in positive mood states; MBSR > NI: reductions in rumination & distractionAnderson et al., 200772Community adultsNRNR8 2-hr sessionsWL (33)MBSR = WL: performance on attentional tasks; Tx > WL: increases in mindfulness & positive affect; reductions in depression, anxiety symptoms, & general and anger-related ruminationOman et al., 200844College undergrads18208 1.5-hr sessionsEPP (14), WL (15)MBSR = EPP > WL: reductions in perceived stress & rumination, increase in forgivenessNykl­Äek, & Kuijpers, 200860Community adults with symptoms of stress44338 2.5-hr sessions, 1 6-hr sessionWL (30)MBSR > WL: reductions in perceived stress & vital exhaustion, increases in positive affect & mindfulnessShapiro et al., 2008*44College undergrads18208 1.5-hr sessionsEPP (14), WL (15)MBSR = EPP > WL: increase in mindfulnessBranstrom, Kvillemo, Brandberg, & Moskowitz, 201071Cancer patients5218 2-hr sessionsWL (39)MBSR > WL: reductions in perceived stress & posttraumatic avoidance symptoms, increase in positive states of mindFarb et al., 201036Community adults44258 2-hr sessionsWL (16)MBSR > WL: reduced activation in medial and lateral brain regions, reduced deactivation in insula and other visceral and somasensory areasGrossman et al., 2010150Patients with multiple sclerosis47218 2.5-hr sessions, 1 7-hr sessionUC (74)MBSR > UC: increases in health-related quality of life, reductions in fatigue & depressionParticipation in MBSR has also been associated with brain changes reflective of positive emotional states and adaptive self representation and emotion regulatory processes, such as increases in left frontal activation, which is indicative of dispositional and state positive affect (Davidson et al., 2003), increased activation in brain regions implicated in experiential, present-focused mode of self reference (Farb et al., 2007), and reduced activation in brain regions implicated in conceptual processing, cognitive elaboration, and reappraisal (Farb et al., 2010; Ochsner & Gross, 2008).
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): Description of Intervention and Review of Controlled StudiesMBCT is an eight-week, manualized group intervention program adapted from the MBSR model (Segal et al., 2002). Developed as an approach to prevent relapse in remitted depression, MBCT combines mindfulness training and elements of cognitive therapy (CT) with the goal of targeting vulnerability processes that have been implicated in the maintenance of depressive episodes. Like CT, MBCT aims to help participants view thoughts as mental events rather than as facts, recognize the role of negative automatic thoughts in maintaining depressive symptoms, and disengage the occurrence of negative thoughts from their negative psychological effects (Barnhofer, Crane, & Didonna, 2009). However, unlike the traditional CT approach that places considerable emphasis on evaluating and changing the validity of the content of thoughts and developing alternative thoughts, MBCT aims primarily to change one's awareness of and relationship to thoughts and emotions (Teasdale et al., 2000). The theoretical rationale on which MBCT is based (Teasdale, Segal, & Williams, 1995) is that the negative thoughts that accompany depression become associated with the depressed state, and that, as the number of depressive episodes increases, negative automatic thoughts become more easily reactivated by feelings of dysphoria, even when these do not occur in the context of a full-blown depressive episode. The negative thoughts, in turn, increase depressed mood and other symptoms of depression, leading to an increased risk for relapse to a major depressive episode. MBCT specifically targets loosening the association between negative automatic thinking and dysphoria. Because these associations are theorized to be stronger among those with a greater number of previous episodes, they may be expected to show the greatest benefit of the intervention.
Several RCTs, summarized in Table 2 , have evaluated the effects of MBCT on relapse prevention and other depression-related outcomes (for recent reviews, see Chiesa & Serreti, 2010; Coelho, Canter, & Ernst, 2007). Consistent with the theoretical model, initial studies found that MBCT reduced relapse rates among patients with three or more episodes of depression, but not among those with two or fewer past episodes (Ma & Teasdale, 2004; Teasdale et al., 2000). Subsequent studies of MBCT and depression relapse selected only patients with three or more episodes and have replicated the effect of MBCT on reduced relapse rates (Goldfrin & Heeringen, 2010; Kuyken et al., 2008) or prolonged time to relapse (Bondolfi et al., 2010). Furthermore, MBCT also has been found to improve a range of symptomatic and psychosocial outcomes among remitted depressed patients, such as residual depressive symptoms and quality of life (Goldfrin & Heeringen, 2010; Kuyken et al., 2008). There is also preliminary evidence that MBCT is more effective than treatment as usual (TAU) in reducing depressive symptoms among currently depressed patients (Barnhofer et al., 2009; Hepburn et al., 2009). Lastly, MBCT has been adapted for treatment of bipolar disorder (Williams et al., 2008), social phobia (Piet, Hougaard, Hecksher, & Rosenberg, 2010), and depressive symptoms among individuals with epilepsy (Thompson et al., 2010). The results of these studies are promising and in need of further replication.
Table 2Randomized controlled trials of MBCT
StudyNType ParticipantMean Age% MaleNo. of Treatment SessionsControl Group(s)Main OutcomeTeasdale et al., 2000145Patients in remission from depression43248 2-hr sessionsTAU (69)MBCT > TAU: reduction in rate of depressive relapse/recurrence for patients with 3 or more previous relapses, but not patients with 2 or fewer episodesWilliams et al., 2000*45Patients in remission from depression44518 2-hr sessionsTAU (20)MBCT > TAU: reduction in generality of autobiographical memoryTeasdale et al., 2002*100Patients in remission from depression44228 2-hr sessionsTAU (48)MBCT > TAU: increase in metacognitive awarenessMa & Teasdale, 200475Patients in remission from depression45248 2-hr sessionsTAU (38)MBCT > TAU: reduction in rate of depressive relapse/recurrence for patients with 3 or more previous relapses, but not patients with 2 or fewer episodesCrane et al., 200868Patients in remission from depression and with a history of suicidal ideation or behaviorNRNR8 2-hr sessions, 1 all-day sessionWL (35)MBCT + TAU > TAU: less increase in actual-ideal self discrepancyKuyken et al., 2008123Patients in remission from depression and with a history of 3 or more depressive episodes49248 2-hr sessionsm-ADM (62)MBCT = m-ADM: rate of depressive relapse/recurrence; MBCT > m-ADM: reductions in residual depressive symptoms & psychiatric comorbidity, increase in quality of lifeBarnhofer et al., 200931Patients with recurrent depression and a history of suicidal ideation42258 2-hr sessionsTAU (15)MBCT > TAU: reductions in depressive symptoms & number of patients meeting full criteria for depression at post-treatmentHepburn et al., 200968Patients in remission from depression and with a history of suicidal ideation44NR8 2-hr sessions, 1 6-hr sessionTAU (35)MBCT > TAU: reductions in depressive symptoms & thought suppressionHargus et al., 201027Depressed patients with a history of suicidal ideation or behavior42338 2-hr sessionsTAU (13)MBCT + TAU > TAU: reduced depression severity, increased meta-awareness of & specificity of memory related to previous suicidal crisisWilliams et al., 200868Patients with unipolar and bipolar disordersNRNR8 2-hr sessions, 1 all-day sessionWL (35)MBCT > WL: reduced depressive symptoms in both subsamples & less increase in anxiety among bipolar patientsBondolfi et al., 201060Patients in remission from depression and with a history of 3 or more depressive episodes47288 2-hr sessionsTAU (29)MBCT + TAU > TAU: prolonged time to relapse; Tx = TAU: rate of depressive relapse/recurrenceGodfrin & Heeringen, 2010106Recovered depressed patients with a history of 3 or more depressive episodes46198 2.75-hr sessionsTAU (54)MBCT + TAU > TAU: reduced rate of depressive relapse/recurrence, depressive mood & quality of lifePiet et al., 201026Patients with social phobia22308 2-hr sessionsGCBT (12)MBCT = GCBT: reductions in symptoms of social phobiaThompson et al., 201053Patients with epilepsy and depressive symptoms36198 1-hr sessionsTAU (27)MBCT > WL: reduction in depressive symptomsDialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Description of Intervention and Review of Controlled StudiesDBT (Linehan, 1993a) was first developed as a treatment for chronic suicidal and other self-injurious behaviors, which are often present in patients with severe borderline personality disorder (BPD). It conceptualizes the dysfunctional behaviors of individuals with BPD as a consequence of an underlying dysfunction of the emotion regulation system, which involves intense emotional reactivity and an inability to modulate emotions. DBT integrates elements of traditional CBT with Zen philosophy and practice, and has a simultaneous focus on acceptance and behavior change strategies to help patients improve their emotion regulation abilities (Linehan, 1993a; Robins, 2002). There are four modes of treatment in DBT: individual therapy, group skills training, telephone consultation between therapist and patient, and consultation team meetings for therapists. Mindfulness skills are taught in the context of the skills-training group as a way of helping patients increase self acceptance, and as an exposure strategy aiming to reduce avoidance of difficult emotion and fear responses (Linehan, 1993b). These skills consist of a set of mindfulness ''what'' skills (observe, describe, and participate) and a set of mindfulness ''how'' skills (nonjudgmentally, one-mindfully, and effectively). Specific exercises that are used to foster mindfulness include visualizing thoughts, feelings, and sensations as if they are clouds passing by in the sky, observing breath by counting or coordinating with footsteps, and bringing mindful awareness into daily activities. Mindfulness skills are also integrated within the other three skills modules, which focus on distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
To date, 11 randomized trials of DBT, or adaptations of it, have been conducted (Lynch, Trost, Salsman, & Linehan, 2007; Robins & Chapman, 2004). These studies are summarized in Table 3 . Standard outpatient DBT has been found to be more effective than TAU or another active treatment in reducing frequency and severity of parasuicidal and self harm behavior among individuals with BPD, especially those with a history of parasuicidal behavior; reducing number of inpatient psychiatric days, emergency visits, and hospitalizations (Koons et al., 2001; Linehan, Amstrong, Suarez, Allmon, & Heard, 1991; Linehan et al., 2006; Verheul et al., 2003); and in reducing substance use among individuals with co-morbid BDP and substance use disorders (Linehan et al., 1999; Linehan et al., 2002). Among studies that included follow-up assessments, the effects of DBT were found to last for up to one year on the following outcome measures: number of parasuicidal behaviors, global functioning, social adjustment, and use of crisis services (Linehan et al., 1991; Linehan et al., 2006; Linehan et al., 1999; Linehan, Heard, & Armstrong, 1993; Linehan, Tutek, Heard, & Armstrong, 1994). Finally, modifications of DBT have been found to be effective in binge eating disorder (Telch, Agras, and Linehan, 2001), bulimia (Safer, Telch, & Agras, 2001), and chronic depression in the elderly (Lynch, Morse, Mendelson & Robins, 2003).
Table 3Randomized controlled trials of DBT
StudyNType ParticipantMean Age% MaleNo. of Treatment SessionsControl Group(s)Main OutcomeLinehan et al., 199146Chronically parasuicidal patients with BPDNR01 yearTAU (22)DBT > TAU: reductions in number of & medical severity of parasuicide behavior & number of psychiatric inpatient days, treatment retention; DBT = TAU: depression, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, & reasons for livingLinehan et al., 1993*39Chronically parasuicidal patients with BPDNR01 yearTAU (20)DBT > TAU: increases in global functioning & social adjustment, reductions in parasuicide behavior & number of psychiatric inpatient daysLinehan et al., 1994*26Chronically parasuicidal patients with BPD2701 yearTAU (13)DBT > TAU: reductions in anger, increases in global social adjustment & global functioningLinehan et al., 199928Patients with comorbid BPD and substance dependence3001 yearTAU (16)DBT > TAU: reductions in drug use, increased global & social adjustment, & treatment retentionTurner, 2000**24Patients with BPD22211 yearCCT (12)DBT > CCT: reductions in parasuicide behavior, suicidal ideation, depression, impulsivity, anger, & number of psychiatric inpatient days, & increase in global functioningKoons et al., 200128Patients with BPD3506 monthsTAU (14)DBT > TAU: reductions in suicidal ideation, depression, hopelessness, dissociation, & anger expressionTelch et al., 2001**44Patients with BED50020 weeksWL (22)DBT > WL: reductions in number of binge episodes & days; DBT = WL: improvements in mood & affect regulationSafer et al., 2001**31Individuals with at least one binge/purge episode per week34020 weeksWL (16)DBT > WL: reductions in number of binge episodes & days; DBT = WL: improvements in mood & affect regulationLinehan et al., 200223Patients with comorbid BPD and substance dependenceNR01 yearCVT+12S (12)DBT = CVT+12S: drug use; DBT > CVT+12S: maintenance of reduction of drug use throughout treatment; DBT < CVT+12S: treatment retentionVerheul et al., 200358Patients with BPD3501 yearTAU (31)DBT > TAU: reductions in self-mutilating & self harm behaviors, treatment retentionLynch et al., 2003**34Depressed patients661528 weeksMED (17) (Note: In this study, MED was compared against MED+DBT)DBT > MED: reduction in depression, improvements in dependency & adaptive coping, number of patients in remission at post-treatmentLinehan et al., 2006101Patients with BPD3001 yearCTBE (49)DBT > CTBE: reductions in suicide risk, medical risk of suicide attempts & self injurious behavior, psychiatric hospitalizations & emergency visits, treatment retentionLynch et al., 2007**35Patients with co-morbid depression and personality disorder613424 weeksMED (14) (Note: In this study, MED was compared against MED+DBT)DBT > MED: reductions in interpersonal sensitivity & interpersonal aggressionAcceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Description of Intervention and Review of Controlled StudiesACT (Hayes et al., 1999) was developed based on the premise that psychological distress is often associated with attempts to control or avoid negative thoughts and emotions, which often paradoxically increase the frequency, intensity, or salience of these internal events, and result in further distress and inability to engage in behaviors that would lead to valued long-term goals. Thus, the central aim of ACT is to create greater psychological flexibility by teaching skills that increase an individual's willingness to come into fuller contact with their experiences, recognize their values, and commit to behaviors that are consistent with those values. There are six core treatment processes that are highlighted in ACT: acceptance, defusion, contact with the present moment, self as context, values, and committed action (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda, & Lillis, 2006). Mindfulness is taught in the context of the first four processes, where a variety of exercises are used to enhance awareness of an observing self and foster the deliteralization of thoughts and beliefs. Although ACT does not incorporate mindfulness meditation exercises, its focus on helping patients cultivate present-centered awareness and acceptance is consistent with that of other mindfulness-based approaches (Baer, 2003). ACT has been delivered in both individual and group settings, with durations varying from one day (e.g., Gregg, Callaghan, Hayes, & Glenn-Lawson, 2007) to 16 weeks (e.g., Hayes et al., 2004).
A number of studies, summarized in Table 4 , have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of ACT in treating a range of mental health outcomes, including those associated with depression, anxiety, impulse control disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse and addiction, and workplace stress (Hayes et al., 2006; Powers, Zum Vorde Sive Vording, & Emmelkamp, 2009). Specifically, ACT has been found to be more effective than TAU in improving affective symptoms, social functioning, and symptom reporting, and lowering rehospitalization rates and symptom believability among psychiatric inpatients with psychotic symptoms (Bach & Hayes, 2002; Gaudiano & Herbert, 2006). Among populations with depressive and anxiety symptoms, ACT was generally found to be superior to no intervention, and as effective as another established treatment in reducing levels of depression, anxiety, and poor mental health outcomes (Bond & Bunce, 2000; Forman, Herbert, Moitra, Yeomans, & Geller, 2007; Lappalainen et al., 2007; Zettle, 2003; Zettle & Hayes, 1986; Zettle & Rains, 1989). In addition, ACT has been shown to be effective at reducing substance use and dependence among nicotine-dependent (Gifford et al., 2004) and polysubstance-abusing individuals (Hayes et al., 2004). Finally, there is preliminary evidence indicating the effectiveness of ACT in treating trichotillomania (Woods, Wetterneck, & Flessner, 2006).
Table 4Randomized controlled trials of ACT
StudyNType ParticipantMean Age% MaleNo. of Treatment SessionsControl Group(s)Main OutcomeZettle & Hayes, 198618Depressed patientsNR012 weeksCT (12)ACT > CT: reductions in depression & believability of thoughts; Tx = CT; frequency of automatic thoughtsZettle & Rains, 198931Depressed patients41012 weeksCCT (10) PCT (10)ACT = CCT = PCT: reduction in depression; ACT < CCT & PCT: reduction in dysfunctional attitudesBond & Bunce, 200090Volunteers of a media organization36503 9-hr sessionsIPP (30) WL (30)ACT = IPP > WL: reduction in depression & increase in propensity to innovateBach & Hayes, 200280Psychiatric inpatients with psychotic symptoms39644 45-50-min sessionsTAU (40)ACT > TAU: improvement in symptom reporting, reductions in symptom believability & rates of hospitalizationZettle, 200324College students31176 weeksSD (12)ACT = SD: reductions in math & test anxiety; ACT < SD: reduction in trait anxietyGifford et al., 200476Nicotine-dependent smokers43417 weeksNRT (43)ACT = NRT: average number of cigarettes smoked & quit ratesHayes et al., 2004124Polysubstance-abusing Opiate Addicts424916 weeksMM (38) ITSF (44)ACT = ITSF > MM: reductions in opiate & drug use (at follow up); ACT = ITSF = MM: reduction in distress & improvement in adjustmentWoods et al., 200625Patients with trichotillomania35812 weeksWL (13)ACT > WL: reductions in hair pulling severity, impairment, & amount of hair pulledGaudiano & Herbert, 200640Psychiatric inpatients with psychotic symptoms40643 sessions (average)ETAU (21)ACT > ETAU: reductions in affective symptoms, social impairment, & hallucination-associated distressLappalainen et al., 200728Outpatients (mixed symptoms/ diagnoses)421110 sessionsCBT (14)ACT > CBT: reduced depression, improved social functioningForman et al., 200799Outpatients (mixed symptoms/ diagnoses)282015-16 sessions (average)CT (44)ACT = CT: reductions in depression & anxiety, improvements in quality of life, life satisfaction, & general functioningA growing research body supports the efficacy of all four major forms of mindfulness-oriented interventions, but several important research questions need to be addressed in future studies. Because these interventions all involve multiple components, future research should examine how individual treatment components, especially the mindfulness training component, contribute to overall treatment effects. Also, these interventions differ in how they teach mindful awareness, and future research could compare the efficacy of different mindfulness teaching approaches in fostering greater mindful awareness in daily life. For example, both MBSR and MBCT place considerable emphasis on engaging participants in formal meditative practices. DBT and ACT, on the other hand, incorporate a range of informal mindfulness exercises in their treatment approach. Research attention should also be devoted to possible moderators of treatment effects, such as pre-existing differences in coping style and types of cognitive processes maintaining a particular psychological problem. Finally, research needs to examine whether there is a dose-response relationship between amount of intervention exposure and amount of psychological benefits. Although MBSR in its standard form involves eight weekly 2-2.5 hour classes and an all-day retreat, it has been delivered in abbreviated forms to fit the needs of specific populations. Carmody and Baer (2009) examined class contact hours and effect sizes of psychological outcomes reported in published trials of MBSR, and did not find a systematic relationship between the two variables. Another review (Vettese, Toneatto, Stea, Nguyen, & Wang, 2009) found no consistent relationship between amount of home mindfulness meditation practice and treatment outcomes. Taken together, these reviews do not support a dose-response relationship between level of treatment exposure and reported psychological benefits. Other factors, such as level of expertise of an instructor, may account for the psychological improvements observed following MBSR or other mindfulness-based interventions, and should be systematically measured in future studies.
Laboratory Research on Immediate Effects of Mindfulness InterventionsIn addition to correlational and clinical intervention research on mindfulness, a third line of empirical research has examined the immediate effects of brief mindfulness interventions in controlled laboratory settings on a variety of emotion-related processes, including recovery from dysphoric mood, emotional reactivity to aversive or emotionally provocative stimuli, and willingness to return to or persist on an unpleasant task. Such laboratory studies have the advantage of more easily isolating mindfulness practice from other elements typically present in clinical intervention packages, thus allowing greater control over independent variables and stronger conclusions about causal effects.
Several studies have examined the immediate effects of mindfulness interventions on coping with dysphoric mood. Instructions to practice mindfulness of thoughts and feelings following negative mood induction were found to be more effective than rumination or no instruction in alleviating negative mood states in healthy university students (Broderick, 2005), previously depressed individuals (Singer & Dobson, 2007), and currently depressed individuals (Huffziger & Kuehner, 2009), but not in one study of university students (Kuehner, Huffziger, & Liebsch, 2009). As the latter authors noted, these differential findings may result in part from differences in methods used to induce mindfulness across studies (use of mindful self-focus statements on cards in Kuehner et al., 2009 versus audiotaped guided meditation instructions in Broderick, 2005), and/or differences in clinical status of study samples (e.g., beneficial effects of mindfulness may be more noticeable among clinical populations than among healthy subjects). It is unsurprising that mindfulness instructions would be more helpful in recovery from sad mood than rumination, which has been shown to be maladaptive (Nolen-Hoeksema & Morrow, 1991). Mindfulness also has been compared with other potentially adaptive mood-regulation strategies. Evidence is mixed with regard to the relative effects of mindfulness and distraction. Whereas two studies (Huffziger & Kuehner, 2009; Singer & Dobson, 2007) found that mindfulness and distraction had equivalent effects on recovery from dysphoric mood, one study (Broderick, 2005) found that mindfulness was more effective than distraction and another study (Kuehner et al., 2009) found that distraction was more effective than mindfulness. Further studies are needed to clarify the relative effects of mindfulness and distraction on mood regulation, and whether those effects may be moderated by situational or personality factors. No published studies to date have compared the effects on recovery from dysphoric mood of mindfulness and cognitive reappraisal of distressing stimuli or situations.
Studies have also examined effects of mindfulness instructions on emotional responses to aversive or emotionally provocative stimuli. In a study by Arch and Craske (2006), university students viewed a series of affectively-valenced pictures and rated their emotional responses to them, both before and after one of three sets of recorded instructions to which they were randomly assigned: focused breathing, unfocused attention, or worry. Whereas the other two groups showed a decrease in positive emotional response to neutral slides from pre-induction to post-induction, those assigned to the focused breathing condition maintained consistently positive responses to neutral slides. They also reported lower negative affect than the worry group in response to post-induction negative-valence slides and greater willingness to view negative slides than those in the unfocused attention condition, as indicated by viewing a greater number of additional optional negative slides. Findings of this study were extended by a recent study by Erisman and Roemer (2010), which found that a brief mindfulness intervention, relative to a control condition, resulted in reduced emotion regulation difficulties and negative affect in response to an affectively-mixed film clip. Campbell-Sills, Barlow, Brown, and Hofmann (2006) randomly assigned patients with mood and anxiety disorders to instructions to either accept or suppress their emotions while viewing an emotionally provocative film. The two groups reported similar levels of subjective distress while watching the film but, relative to those in the suppression condition, the acceptance group displayed lower heart rate while viewing the film and reported less negative emotion during the post-film recovery period. The findings of these studies suggest that training in two key elements of mindfulness practice (focused awareness and acceptance) may reduce emotional reactivity to negative stimuli and increase willingness to remain in contact with them. There is preliminary work investigating the effects of brief mindfulness instructions on substance-related urges and substance use behavior. Bowen and Marlatt (2009) presented college smokers either brief mindfulness instructions or no instructions before and after exposure to a cue designed to elicit urges to smoke. Although there was no immediate effect on urge to smoke, mindfulness instructions resulted in significant decreases in smoking behavior during the next 7 days. As the authors noted, mindfulness training may alter responses to urges, rather than reducing urges. These findings were extended in another study that compared the effectiveness of using suppression versus a mindfulness-based strategy in coping with cigarette craving among a community sample of smokers (Rogojanski, Vettese, & Antony, 2011). The study found that whereas both strategies reduced self-reported amount of smoking and increased self-efficacy associated with coping with cigarette craving, only those in the mindfulness condition reported significant decreases in negative affect and depressive symptoms and marginal decreases in nicotine dependence.
Research has also examined the efficacy of mindfulness as an emotion regulation strategy in response to a biological challenge, specifically to inhalations of carbon dioxide-enriched air (CO2 challenge), a procedure that has frequently been used to create a laboratory analog of panic attacks (Sanderson, Rapee, & Barlow, 1988). In a study by Feldner, Zvolensky, Eifert, and Spira (2003), individuals who scored either high or low on a measure of emotional avoidance were instructed either to mindfully observe and accept or to try to suppress feelings during CO2 challenge. High emotional avoidance participants reported higher anxiety than low emotional avoidance participants in the suppression condition, but not in the observation condition. Levitt, Brown, Orsillo, and Barlow (2004) randomized patients with panic disorder to one of three experimental conditions: a 10-minute audiotape describing a rationale for either suppressing or accepting one's emotions, or a neutral narrative, and then exposed them to CO2 challenge. The acceptance group reported significantly lower levels of anxiety during the biological challenge than the other two groups and greater willingness to participate in a second challenge. One coping strategy commonly taught to patients with anxiety disorders, particularly panic disorder, is breathing retraining, in which patients are taught to take deeper, slower breaths. Eifert and Heffner (2003) compared the effects of brief acceptance training, breathing retraining, and no training on responses to CO2 challenge in undergraduates who scored high on a measure of anxiety sensitivity. Acceptance instructions led to less intense fear, fewer catastrophic thoughts, and lower behavioral avoidance (indicated both by latency between trials and reported willingness to return for another experimental session) than breathing retraining instructions or no instructions. Collectively, these studies suggest that mindful observation and acceptance of emotional responses may be an effective strategy for reducing subjective anxiety and behavioral avoidance in the face of physiological arousal, among highly anxiety sensitive or emotionally avoidant individuals and patients with panic disorder.
Laboratory studies of mindfulness have helped provide further insight into the functions of mindfulness and the potential processes through which mindfulness lead to positive psychological effects. The majority of the findings suggest that brief mindfulness training, whether in the form of a short, guided meditation practice or in the form of instructions to adopt an accepting attitude toward internal experiences, can have an immediate positive effect on recovery from dysphoric mood and level of emotional reactivity to aversive stimuli, consistent with the positive psychological effects reported in research on mindfulness-oriented intervention programs. The laboratory studies also suggest that it does not take extensive prior training in mindfulness to experience some immediate benefits of mindfulness training.
From a methodological standpoint, it is important that future studies more closely examine the extent to which a state of mindfulness is actually manipulated by the study instructions. Whereas most studies did include post-experimental manipulation checks on adherence to the training instructions, they did not explicitly assess the extent to which participants were able to be mindfully aware of their emotions or thoughts during or after exposure to a mood induction or a laboratory stressor. Research also could examine which training approaches or instructions (e.g. mindful breathing or mindfulness of emotions) are most effective at helping individuals regulate emotions in response to a stressor; whether there are key moderator variables such as pre-existing differences in dispositional mindfulness or coping styles; and whether effects differ by type of stressors or across different emotions. Research is also needed to compare the effects and mechanisms of mindfulness instructions with those of other documented emotion regulation strategies, such as cognitive reappraisal and distraction.
Mechanisms of Effects of Mindfulness InterventionsThe studies reviewed so far indicate that measures of mindful awareness are related to various indices of psychological health and that mindfulness interventions have a positive impact on psychological health. The next natural question, then, is how this impact comes about. Several psychological processes, some of which may overlap, have been proposed as potential mediators of the beneficial effects of mindfulness interventions, including increases in mindful awareness, reperceiving (also known as decentering, metacognitive awareness, or defusion), exposure, acceptance, attentional control, memory, values clarification, and behavioral self-regulation.
Mindfulness training would be expected to increase scores on measures of mindfulness, and changes in mindfulness would be expected, in turn, to predict clinical outcomes. Research has found that mindfulness training leads to increases in self-reported trait mindfulness, assessed by the MAAS (Anderson et al., 2007; Brown & Ryan, 2003; Carmody, Reed, Kristeller and Merriam, 2008; Michalak, Heidenreich, Meibert, & Schulte, 2008; Shapiro, Brown & Biegel, 2007), the CAMS-R (Greeson et al., in press) and the FFMQ (Carmody & Baer, 2008; Robins, Keng, Ekblad, & Brantley, 2010; Shapiro et al., 2008), as well as TMS-assessed state mindfulness (Carmody et al., 2008; Lau et al., 2006). Intervention-associated increases in trait mindfulness, assessed by the MAAS, the KIMS, the CAMS-R, and/or the FFMQ, have been shown to predict increases in sense of spirituality (Carmody et al., 2008; Greeson et al., in press), self-compassion (Shapiro et al., 2007), and positive states of mind (Br¤nstr¶m et al., 2010), and decreases in rumination (Shapiro et al., 2007), trait anxiety (Shapiro et al., 2007), risk of depressive relapse (Michalak et al., 2008), posttraumatic avoidance symptoms (Br¤nstr¶m et al., 2010), perceived stress (Br¤nstr¶m et al., 2010; Shapiro et al., 2007), and overall psychological distress (Carmody et al., 2008). A number of studies have also demonstrated that increases in trait mindfulness (again, assessed by the MAAS, the KIMS, and/or the FFMQ) statistically mediated the effects of mindfulness interventions on perceived stress (Nykl­Äek, & Kuipers, 2008; Shapiro et al., 2008), rumination (Shapiro et al., 2008), cognitive reactivity (Raes et al., 2009), quality of life (Nykl­Äek, & Kuipers, 2008), depressive symptoms (Kuyken et al., 2010; Shahar, Britton, Sbarra, Figueredo, & Bootzin, 2010), and behavioral regulation (Keng, Smoski, Robins, Ekblad, & Brantley, 2010). Lastly, one study (Carmody & Baer, 2008) demonstrated that changes in FFMQ-assessed mindfulness at least partially mediated the relationships between amount of formal mindfulness practice and changes in psychological well being, perceived stress, and psychological symptoms.
Mindfulness training also is thought to increase metacognitive awareness, which is the ability to reperceive or decenter from one's thoughts and emotions, and view them as passing mental events rather than to identify with them or believe thoughts to be accurate representations of reality (Hayes et al., 1999; Segal et al., 2002; Shapiro, Carlson, Astin, & Freeman, 2006). Increased metacognitive awareness has been hypothesized to lead to reductions in rumination (Teasdale, 1999), a process of repetitive negative thinking that has been considered a risk factor for a number of psychological disorders (Ehring & Watkins, 2008). Preliminary evidence suggests that mindfulness training leads to increases in metacognitive awareness (Hargus et al., 2010; Teasdale et al., 2002) and reductions in rumination (Jain et al., 2007; Ramel, Goldin, Carmona, & McQuaid, 2004), and that increased metacognitive awareness, or decentering, may in turn predict better clinical outcomes such as lower rates of depressive relapses (Fresco, Segal, Buis, & Kennedy, 2007).
Exposure is another process that several authors have suggested may occur during mindfulness practice (Baer, 2003; Kabat-Zinn, 1982; Linehan, 1993a). By intentionally attending to experiences in a nonjudgmental and open manner, an individual may undergo a process of desensitization through which distressing sensations, thoughts and emotions that otherwise would be avoided become less distressing. One study has shown that participation in MBSR is associated with significant pre- to post-intervention increases in exposure (Carmody, Baer, Lykins, & Olendzki, 2009). A closely-related process of change that has been highlighted in the literature is acceptance (Hayes, 1994). Several studies reported that increases in experiential acceptance mediated the effects of ACT on a range of psychological outcomes, including workplace stress (Bond & Bunce, 2000), smoking cessation (Gifford et al., 2004), and functioning difficulties (Forman et al., 2007).
Because mindfulness practices involve sustaining attention on the present-moment experience, as well as switching attention back to the present-moment experience whenever it wanders (Bishop et al., 2004), mindfulness training may improve the ability to control attention, which may, in turn, influence other beneficial psychological outcomes. Several aspects of attention, each related to different neurobiological substrates, may be distinguished (Posner & Petersen, 1990): orienting (the ability to direct attention towards a set of stimuli and sustain attention on it), alerting (the ability to remain vigilant or receptive towards a wide range of potential stimuli), and conflict monitoring (the ability to prioritize attention among competing cognitive demands/tasks). Using a variety of neuropsychological tasks, experimental studies have shown that mindfulness training is associated with improvements in orienting (Jha, Krompinger, & Baime, 2007) and conflict monitoring (Tang et al., 2007). Among experienced meditators, participation in an intensive mindfulness retreat has also been associated with improved alerting (Jha et al., 2007). In addition, mindfulness training has been associated with improvements in sustained attention among both novice meditators (Chambers, Lo, & Allen, 2008) and experienced meditators (Valentine & Sweet, 1999), with one study demonstrating an association between intervention-related improvements in sustained attention and reductions in depressive symptoms (Chambers et al., 2008). Overall, evidence suggests that mindfulness training may affect various subcomponents of attention, and that the specific subsystems affected may depend on the extent of previous meditation experience.
Another mechanism through which mindfulness training may influence psychological well-being is change in memory functioning. Two studies (Hargus et al., 2010; Williams et al., 2000) have shown that mindfulness training reduces overgeneral autobiographical memory, a construct that has been associated with increased severity of depression and suicidality (Kuyken & Brewin, 1995). Participation in mindfulness training has also been shown to buffer against decreases in working memory capacity (WMC) during high stress periods, with changes in WMC mediating the relationship between amount of mindfulness practice and reductions in negative affect (Jha, Stanley, Kiyonaga, Wong, & Gelfand, 2010). In addition, brief mindfulness training has been shown to reduce memory for negative stimuli (Alberts & Thewissen, in press), a mechanism that may partly underlie the beneficial effects of mindfulness-based interventions on emotion functioning.
Finally, values clarification and improved behavioral self-regulation may be two additional avenues through which mindfulness training improves psychological well-being (Gratz & Roemer, 2004; Shapiro et al., 2006). Staying present with thoughts and emotions in an objective, open and nonjudgmental manner may facilitate a greater sense of clarity with regard to one's values, and behaviors that are more consistent with those values. Higher levels of self-reported mindfulness are associated with self-reports of greater engagement in valued behaviors and interests (Brown & Ryan, 2003) and of ability to engage in goal-directed behavior when emotionally upset (Baer et al., 2006). In addition, mindfulness training has been found to lead to self-reported improved behavioral regulation in a nonclinical sample (Robins et al., 2010) and reduced self-discrepancy, which is associated with adaptive self-regulation, among recovered depressed patients with a history of depression and suicidality (Crane et al., 2008). In another study, values clarification was found to mediate partially the relationship between increased mindfulness/ reperceiving and decreased psychological distress in a sample of participants who underwent MBSR (Carmody et al., 2009).
Areas in Need of Further ResearchUnderstanding and Quantification of MindfulnessBecause mindfulness is a construct that originates in Buddhism, and has only a brief history in Western psychological science, it is unsurprising that there is considerable challenge in defining, operationalizing, and quantifying it (Grossman, 2008). Although a number of self-report inventories have been developed to assess mindfulness, they vary greatly in content and factor structure, reflecting a lack of agreement on the meaning and nature of mindfulness (Brown, Ryan, & Creswell, 2007). Whereas some researchers consider mindfulness to be a one-dimensional construct referring specifically to paying attention to the present-moment experience (e.g., Brown & Ryan, 2003; Carmody, 2009), others argue that qualities such as curiosity, acceptance, and compassion are inherent to mindfulness (Baer & Sauer, 2009; Feldman et al., 2007; Lau et al., 2006). Further collaborative inquiry is needed so that researchers can reach a general agreement on the nature and meaning of mindfulness, or at least clarify and specify which aspects of mindfulness are being addressed in a particular study.
Several issues pertaining to the assessment of mindfulness are also worth highlighting here. First, individual responses to questionnaire items may vary as a function of differential understanding of the questionnaire items (Grossman, 2008), which may depend on the extent of an individual's exposure to the idea or practice of mindfulness. One study demonstrated that the factor structure of the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory changed within the same group of respondents from just before to just after attending meditation retreats of 3 to 10 days (Buchheld, Grossman, & Wallach, 2001). Further research is clearly needed to improve the construct validity of self-report mindfulness questionnaires, in part via reducing potential variability in item functioning across meditators and non-meditators. A second issue concerns limitations in the use of self-report measures of mindfulness, which rely on the assumption that mindfulness is assessable by declarative knowledge (Brown et al., 2007). It is not known how well self-reports of mindfulness correspond with actual experiences in daily life. To make the matter more complicated, there is an inherent paradox in using frequency of attention lapses as an index of mindfulness because the ability to detect such lapses is contingent upon one's overall level of mindfulness (Van Dam, Earlywine, & Borders, 2010; Van Dam, Earleywine, & Danoff-Burg, 2009). One way in which the validity of self-report questionnaires can be improved is by developing performance-based measures of mindfulness against which they can be calibrated, or which can be used in multi-method assessment of the construct (Garland & Gaylord, 2009).
Specificity of Effects of Mindfulness InterventionsLittle is yet known regarding for whom and under what conditions mindfulness training is most effective, but there is some preliminary evidence to suggest that its effectiveness may vary as a function of individual differences. Cordon, Brown, and Gibson (2009) found that participation in MBSR resulted in greater reduction in perceived stress for individuals with an insecure attachment style than for securely attached individuals. Another recent study (Shapiro, Brown, Thoresen, & Plante, 2011) showed that trait mindfulness moderated the effects of MBSR. Specifically, compared to controls, participants with higher levels of baseline trait mindfulness demonstrated greater improvements in mindfulness, subjective well-being, empathy, and hope, and larger decreases in perceived stress up to one year post-intervention. MBCT is effective for reducing depressive relapses among remitted depressed patients with a history of three or more depressive episodes, but not among patients with two previous episodes (e.g., Teasdale et al., 2000; Ma & Teasdale, 2004). In light of these considerations, several researchers have cautioned against the indiscriminate application of mindfulness as a general-purpose, ''cure-all'' therapeutic technique, and instead advocated for a problem formulation approach in the use of mindfulness techniques for treating psychological conditions (Kocovski, Segal, Battista, & Didonna, 2009; Teasdale, Segal, & Williams, 2003). In order to maximize the effectiveness and clinical utility of mindfulness interventions, sufficient attention needs to go into tailoring them to fit the needs of specific populations and psychological conditions. For example, treatment of disorders that primarily involve a deficit in attentional abilities, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may require that greater focus be placed on the attentional aspect of mindfulness training. On the other hand, treatment of disorders that tend to involve excessive shame and guilt, such as eating disorders, may benefit from greater treatment emphasis on the acceptance and self compassion aspects of mindfulness. Finally, given that mindfulness training has been increasingly integrated with a variety of psychotherapeutic techniques (e.g., Linehan, 1993a), it is important that future research examine how mindfulness works alongside these psychotherapeutic techniques.
Other Potential Applications of Mindfulness InterventionsMindfulness-oriented interventions have been shown to improve psychological health in nonclinical populations and effectively treat a range of psychological and psychosomatic conditions. There may be additional therapeutic applications of mindfulness training. Researchers have reported promising results in pilot trials of mindfulness interventions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (Zylowska et al., 2008), bipolar disorder (Miklowitz et al., 2009; Weber et al., 2010; Williams et al., 2008), panic disorder (Kim et al., 2010), generalized anxiety disorder (Evans et al., 2008; Craigie, Rees, Marsh, & Nathan, 2008; Roemer, Orsillo, & Salters-Pedneault, 2008), eating disorders (Baer, Fischer, & Huss, 2005; Kristeller & Hallett, 1999), psychosis (Chadwick, Taylor, & Abba, 2005), and alcohol and substance use problems (Bowen et al., 2006; Witkiewitz et al., 2005). While the data is overall preliminary and requires further validation, the results are promising. Researchers have also begun to investigate the application of mindfulness techniques within specific populations and settings, such as children (Bogels, Hoogstad, van Dun, de Schutter, & Restifo, 2008; Lee, Semple, Rosa, & Miller, 2008; Napoli, Krech, & Holley, 2005), adolescent psychiatric outpatients (Biegel, Brown, Shapiro, & Schubert, 2009), parents (Altmaier & Maloney, 2007; B¶gels et al., 2008; Singh et al., 2006), school teachers (Napoli, 2004), elderly and their caregivers (Epstein-Lubow, McBee, Darling, Armey, & Miller, in press; McBee, 2008; Smith, 2004), prison inmates (Bowen et al., 2006; Samuelson, Carmody, Kabat-Zinn, & Bratt, 2007), and socio-economically disadvantaged individuals (Hick & Furlotte, 2010).
With regard to applications of mindfulness training that have received empirical support, research now needs to examine practical issues surrounding their implementation, delivery, and dissemination. Little is known about their cost effectiveness, nor about the amount and type(s) of training that is required for an individual to be a competent provider of mindfulness training (Allen, Blashki, & Gullone, 2006). Future research should examine these issues as they are critical to the successful implementation and dissemination of mindfulness-oriented interventions.
ConclusionBased on an examination of empirical literature across multiple methodologies, this review concludes that mindfulness and its cultivation facilitates adaptive psychological functioning. Despite existing methodological limitations within each body of literature, there is a clear convergence of findings from correlational studies, clinical intervention studies, and laboratory-based, experimental studies of mindfulness'--all of which suggest that mindfulness is positively associated with psychological health, and that training in mindfulness may bring about positive psychological effects. These effects ranged from increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, to improved regulation of behavior. There is also an increasingly substantial research body pointing to a number of psychological processes that may serve as key mechanisms of effects of mindfulness interventions. As research on mindfulness is in its early stages of development, further collaborative research is needed to develop a more solid understanding concerning the nature of mindfulness, how mindfulness can best be measured, fostered, and cultivated, and the mechanisms and specificity of effects of mindfulness-oriented interventions. Future research should also continue to explore other potential applications of mindfulness, and examine practical issues concerning the delivery, implementation, and dissemination of mindfulness-oriented interventions. Given the advances that have been made thus far, it is likely that new paradigms for the understanding and application of mindfulness will continue to appear, which would move us further toward the goals of alleviating human psychological suffering and helping others live a life that is happier and more fulfilling.
AcknowledgmentsWe gratefully acknowledge M. Zachary Rosenthal, Mark Leary, Jeffrey Brantley, and Kathleen Sikkema for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.
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StarLink
Starlink (satellite constellation) - Wikipedia
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 23:53
Starlink is a satellite constellation being constructed by American company SpaceX[1][2] to provide satellite Internet access.[3][4] The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites, working in combination with ground transceivers. SpaceX also plans to sell some of the satellites for military,[5] scientific or exploratory purposes.[6]
Starlink constellation, phase 1, first orbital shell: 72 orbits with 22 each, 1,584 satellites at 550 km altitude
As of January 2020[update], SpaceX has deployed 182 satellites. They plan to deploy 60 more per Falcon 9 launch, with launches as often as every two weeks after late 2019. In total, nearly 12,000 satellites will be deployed by the mid-2020s, with a possible later extension to 42,000.[7] The initial 12,000 satellites are planned to orbit in three orbital shells: first placing approximately 1,600 in a 550-kilometer (340 mi)-altitude shell, then approximately 2,800 Ku- and Ka-band spectrum satellites at 1,150 km (710 mi) and approximately 7,500 V-band satellites at 340 km (210 mi).[8] Commercial operation could begin in 2020.[9]
Concerns have been raised about the long-term danger of space junk resulting from placing thousands of satellites in orbits above 1,000 kilometres (620 mi)[10] and a possible impact on astronomy,[11] although SpaceX is reportedly attempting to solve the issue.[12]
The total cost of the decade-long project to design, build and deploy the constellation was estimated by SpaceX in May 2018 to be about US$10 billion .[13] Product development began in 2015, with the first two prototype test-flight satellites launched in February 2018. A second set of test satellites and the first large deployment of a piece of the constellation occurred on 24 May 2019 (UTC) when the first 60 operational satellites were launched.[1][14] The SpaceX satellite development facility in Redmond, Washington, houses the Starlink research, development, manufacturing and on-orbit control operations.
2015''2017 Edit The communication satellite network SpaceX envisions was publicly announced in January 2015, with the projected design capability to support sufficient bandwidth to carry up to 50% of all backhaul communications traffic, and up to 10% of local Internet traffic, in high-density cities.[4][6] CEO Elon Musk said that there is significant unmet demand for low-cost global broadband capabilities.[15]
SpaceX satellite development facility, Redmond, Washington, in use from 2015 to mid-2018
The opening of the SpaceX satellite development facility in Redmond was announced by SpaceX in January 2015 with partners, to develop and build out the new communication network. At the time, the Seattle-area office planned to initially hire approximately 60 engineers, and potentially 1,000 people by 2018.[16] The company operated in 2,800 square meters (30,000 sq ft) of leased space by late 2016, and by January 2017 had taken on a 3,800 square meters (40,625 sq ft) second facility, both in Redmond.[17] In August 2018, SpaceX consolidated all their Seattle-area operations with a move to a larger three-building facility at Redmond Ridge Corporate Center to support satellite manufacturing in addition to R&D.[18]
In July 2016, SpaceX acquired a 740 square meters (8,000 sq ft) creative space in Irvine, California (Orange County).[19] SpaceX job listings indicated the Irvine office would include signal processing, RFIC, and ASIC development for the satellite program.[20]
By January 2016, the company had publicly disclosed plans to have two prototype satellites flying in 2016,[21] and have the initial satellite constellation in orbit and operational by approximately 2020.[6] By October 2016, SpaceX had developed the initial satellites that they hoped to launch and test in 2017, but the satellite division was focusing on a significant business challenge of achieving a sufficiently low-cost design for the user equipment, aiming for something that can ostensibly install easily at end-user premises for approximately US$200 . Overall, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said then that the project remained in the "design phase as the company seeks to tackle issues related to user-terminal cost."[3] Deployment, if carried out, would not be until "late in this decade or early in the next."[15] The two original test satellites were not flown, and were used only in ground testing. The planned launch of two revised satellites was moved to 2018.[22][23]
In November 2016, SpaceX filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a "non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite system in the Fixed-Satellite Service using the Ku and Ka frequency bands."[24]
By March 2017, SpaceX filed plans with the FCC to field a second orbital shell of more than 7500 "V-band satellites in non-geosynchronous orbits to provide communications services" in an electromagnetic spectrum that has not previously been heavily employed for commercial communications services. Called the "Very-Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) constellation,"[25] it would consist of 7,518 satellites and would orbit at just 340 kilometres (210 mi) altitude,[26] while the smaller originally planned group of 4,425 satellites would operate in the Ka- and Ku-bands and orbit at 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) altitude.[25][26] SpaceX's plans were unusual in two areas: the company intended to use the little-used V band of the communications spectrum, and also intended to operationally use a new orbital regime, the very-low Earth orbit regime of ~340 km altitude, where atmospheric drag is quite high '' normally resulting in short orbital lifetimes.[27] SpaceX has not made public the specific spaceflight technology they intend to use to deal with the high-drag environment of VLEO. The March 2017 plan called for SpaceX to launch test satellites of the initial Ka/Ku type in both 2017 and 2018, and begin launching the operational constellation in 2019. Full build-out of the approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) constellation of around 4,440 satellites was not then expected to be completed until 2024.[28]
Some controversy arose in 2015''2017 with regulatory authorities on licensing of the communications spectrum for these large constellations of satellites. The traditional and historical regulatory rule for licensing spectrum has been that satellite operators could "launch a single spacecraft to meet their in-service deadline [from the regulator], a policy seen as allowing an operator to block the use of valuable radio spectrum for years without deploying its fleet."[29] By 2017, the FCC had set a six-year deadline to have an entire large constellation deployed to comply with licensing terms. The international regulator, International Telecommunication Union, proposed in mid-2017 a guideline that would be considerably less restrictive.[citation needed ] In September 2017, both Boeing and SpaceX petitioned the US FCC for a waiver of the six-year rule,[29] but that was ultimately not granted. By 2019, the FCC had set the rule to be that half of the constellation must be in orbit in six years, with the full system in orbit by nine years from the date of the license.[8]
SpaceX trademarked the name Starlink for their satellite broadband network in 2017;[30] the name was inspired by the book The Fault in Our Stars.[31]
SpaceX filed documents in late 2017 with the FCC to clarify their space debris mitigation plan. The company will "implement an operations plan for the orderly de-orbit of satellites nearing the end of their useful lives (roughly five to seven years) at a rate far faster than is required under international standards. [Satellites] will de-orbit by propulsively moving to a disposal orbit from which they will reenter the Earth's atmosphere within approximately one year after completion of their mission."[32] In March 2018, the FCC issued SpaceX approval with some conditions. SpaceX would need to obtain a separate approval from the ITU.[33][34] The FCC supported a NASA request to ask SpaceX to achieve an even higher level of de-orbiting reliability than the standard that NASA had previously used for itself: reliably deorbiting 90% of the satellites after their missions are complete.[35]
2018''2019 Edit In May 2018, SpaceX expected the total cost of development and buildout of the constellation to approach US$10 billion .[13] In mid-2018, SpaceX reorganized the satellite development division in Redmond, and fired several members of senior management.[18]
In November 2018, SpaceX received US regulatory approval to deploy 7,518 broadband satellites, in addition to the 4,425 approved earlier. SpaceX's initial 4,425 satellites had been requested in the 2016 regulatory filings to orbit at altitudes of 1,110-kilometer (690 mi) to 1,325-kilometer (823 mi), well above the International Space Station. The new approval was for the addition of a very-low Earth orbit non-geostationary satellite orbit constellation, consisting of 7,518 satellites operating at altitudes from 335-kilometer (208 mi) to 346-kilometer (215 mi), below the ISS.[36] Also in November, SpaceX made new regulatory filings with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC)to request the ability to alter its previously granted license in order to operate approximately 1,600 of the 4,425 Ka-/Ku-band satellites approved for operation at 1,150 km (710 mi) in a "new lower shell of the constellation" at only 550 km (340 mi) orbital altitude.[37][38] These satellites would effectively operate in a third orbital shell, a 550-kilometer (340 mi) orbit, while the higher and lower orbits at approximately 1,200-kilometer (750 mi) and approximately 340-kilometer (210 mi) would be used only later, once a considerably larger deployment of satellites becomes possible in the later years of the deployment process. The FCC approved the request in April 2019, giving approval to place nearly 12,000 satellites in three orbital shells: initially approximately 1,600 in a 550-kilometer (340 mi)-altitude shell, and subsequently placing approximately 2,800 Ku- and Ka-band spectrum satellites at 1,150 km (710 mi) and approximately 7,500 V-band satellites at 340 km (210 mi).[8]
With plans by several providers to build commercial space-Internet mega-constellations of thousands of satellites increasing likely to become a reality, the US military began to perform test studies in 2018 to evaluate how the networks might be used. In December, the US Air Force issued a US$28 million contract for specific test services on Starlink.[39]
In February 2019, a sister company of SpaceX, SpaceX Services, Inc., filed a request with the FCC to request a license for the operation of up to a million fixed satellite earth stations that would communicate with its non-geostationary orbit satellite (NGSO) Starlink system.[40]
By April 2019, SpaceX was transitioning their satellite efforts from research and development to manufacturing, with the planned first launch of a large batch of satellites to orbit, and the clear need to achieve an average launch rate of "44 high-performance, low-cost spacecraft built and launched every month for the next 60 months" to get the 2,200 satellites launched to support their FCC spectrum allocation license assignment.[41] SpaceX said they will meet the deadline of having half the constellation "in orbit within six years of authorization '... and the full system in nine years."[8]
By the end of June 2019, SpaceX had communicated with all 60 satellites but lost contact with three; the remaining 57 were working as intended. 45 satellites had reached their final orbital altitude of 550 km (340 mi), five were still raising their orbits, and another five were undergoing systems checks before they raise their orbits. The remaining two satellites were intended to be quickly removed from orbit and reenter the atmosphere in order to test the satellite de-orbiting process; the three that lost contact were also expected to reenter, but will do so passively from atmospheric drag as SpaceX was no longer able to actively control them.[42]
In June 2019, SpaceX applied to the FCC for a license to test up to 270 ground terminals'--70 nationwide across the United States and 200 in Washington state at SpaceX employee homes[43][44]'--and aircraft-borne antenna operation from four distributed US airfields; as well as five ground-to-ground test locations.[45][46]
By September 2019, SpaceX had gone back to the FCC to apply for more changes to the orbital constellation. SpaceX asked to triple the number of orbital planes in the 550 km orbital shell, from 24 to 72, arguing that they could then place satellites into multiple planes from a single launch. SpaceX argued that this change could bring coverage to the southern US in time for the 2020 hurricane season.[47] The change was approved in December 2019, and will now see only 22 satellites in each plane rather than the 66 that had been a part of the original design. The total number of satellites in the 550 km shell would remain the same, at 1584.[48]
Global broadband Internet Edit SpaceX intends to provide broadband internet connectivity to underserved areas of the planet, as well as provide competitively priced service to urban areas. The company has stated that the positive cashflow from selling satellite internet services would be necessary to fund their Mars plans.[74]
In early 2015, two space entrepreneurs announced Internet satellite ventures in the same week. In addition to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announcing the project that would later be named Starlink, serial-entrepreneur Richard Branson announced an investment in OneWeb, a similar constellation with approximately 700 planned satellites that had already procured communication frequency licenses for their broadcast spectrum.[16][75]
After the failures of previous satellite-to-consumer space ventures, satellite industry consultant Roger Rusch said in 2015 "It's highly unlikely that you can make a successful business out of this."[16]Musk publicly acknowledged that business reality, and indicated in mid-2015 that while endeavoring to develop this technically complicated space-based communication system he wanted to avoid overextending the company, and stated that they are being measured in their pace of development.[76] Nevertheless, internal documents leaked in February 2017 indicated that SpaceX expected more than US$30 billion in revenue by 2025 from its satellite constellation, while revenues from its launch business were expected to reach US$5 billion in the same year.[77][78]
In February 2015, financial analysts questioned established geosynchronous orbit communications satellite fleet operators as to how they intend to respond to the competitive threat of SpaceX and OneWeb LEO communication satellites.[79][needs update ] In October, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell indicated that while development continues, the business case for the long-term rollout of an operational satellite network was still in an early phase.[80]
In 2015, court documents indicate that SpaceX had engaged in collaboration with wireless chip-maker Broadcom. Five key engineers subsequently left to join SpaceX, leading to a lawsuit filed by Broadcom alleging that "SpaceX stole our best minds." In March, an Orange County judge denied Broadcom's multiple restraining order requests.[81][needs update ]
With the initial launch of the first 60 satellites of the operational constellation in 2019, SpaceX indicated that it would require 420 satellites in the constellation to achieve minor broadband coverage of Earth, and 780 of the first ~1600 to provide moderate coverage.[62]
Use beyond Earth Edit In the long term, SpaceX intends to develop and deploy a version of the satellite communication system to serve Mars.[15]
Constellation design and status Edit PhaseOrbit shells(km)Number ofsatellitesInclination(degrees)Half size contractualcompletion timeFull size contractualcompletion timeCurrent completion (11 Nov 2019) Satellites activelypreparing to de-orbit (11 Nov 2019) Dead satellites (11 Nov 2019) 15501,58453March 2024March 20271202[82]3[82]1,1101,60053.801,1304007401,2753758101,3254507002335.92,49342November 2024November 20270340.82,478480345.62,547530Satellite hardware Edit The Internet communication satellites were expected to be in the smallsat-class of 100-to-500 kg (220-to-1,100 lb)-mass, and were intended to be in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at an altitude of approximately 1,100 kilometers (680 mi), according to early public releases of information in 2015. In the event, the first large deployment of 60 satellites in May 2019 were 227 kilograms (500 lb)[59] and SpaceX decided to place the satellites at a relatively low 550 kilometers (340 mi), due to concerns about the space environment.[83] Initial plans as of January 2015[update] were for the constellation to be made up of approximately 4,000 cross-linked[76] satellites, more than twice as many operational satellites as were in orbit in January 2015.[6]
The satellites will employ optical inter-satellite links and phased array beam-forming and digital processing technologies in the Ku and Ka bands, according to documents filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).[84][85] While specifics of the phased array technologies have been disclosed as part of the frequency application, SpaceX enforced confidentiality regarding details of the optical inter-satellite links.[86] Early satellites are launched without laser links, in October 2019 SpaceX expected satellites with these links to be ready by the end of 2020.[87]
The satellites will be mass-produced, at a much lower cost per unit of capability than existing satellites. Musk said, "We're going to try and do for satellites what we've done for rockets."[88] "In order to revolutionize space, we have to address both satellites and rockets."[6] "Smaller satellites are crucial to lowering the cost of space-based Internet and communications."[16]
In February 2015, SpaceX asked the FCC to consider future innovative uses of the Ka band spectrum before the FCC commits to 5G communications regulations that would create barriers to entry, since SpaceX is a new entrant to the satellite communications market. The SpaceX non-geostationary orbit communications satellite constellation will operate in the high-frequency bands above 24 GHz, "where steerable earth station transmit antennas would have a wider geographic impact, and significantly lower satellite altitudes magnify the impact of aggregate interference from terrestrial transmissions."[89]
Internet traffic via a geostationary satellite has a minimum theoretical round-trip latency of at least 477 ms (between user and ground gateway), but in practice, current satellites have latencies of 600 ms or more. Starlink satellites would orbit at '‹ 1'30 to '‹ 1'105 of the height of geostationary orbits, and thus offer more practical Earth-to-sat latencies of around 25 to 35 ms, comparable to existing cable and fiber networks.[90]The system will use a peer-to-peer protocol claimed to be "simpler than IPv6", it will also incorporate end-to-end encryption natively.[91] However, no details on this have been released as of yet.
Starlink satellites use Hall-effect thrusters with krypton gas as the reaction mass[59][92] for orbit raising and station keeping.[93] Krypton Hall thrusters tend to exhibit significantly higher erosion of the flow channel compared to a similar electric propulsion system operated with xenon, but at a lower propellant cost.[94]
User terminals Edit The system will not compete with the Iridium satellite constellation, which is designed to link directly to handsets. Instead, it will be linked to flat user terminals the size of a pizza box, which will have phased array antennas and track the satellites. The terminals can be mounted anywhere, as long as they can see the sky.[76]
Satellite revisions Edit At the time of the June 2015 announcement, SpaceX had stated plans to launch the first two demonstration satellites in 2016,[21] but the target date was subsequently moved out to 2018.[22] SpaceX began flight testing their satellite technologies in 2018[22] with the launch of two test satellites. The two identical satellites were called MicroSat-2a and MicroSat-2b[95] during development but were renamed Tintin A and Tintin B upon orbital deployment in February 2018. Two previously manufactured satellites, MicroSat-1a and MicroSat-1b were meant to be launched together as secondary payloads on one of the Iridium-NEXT flights, but they were instead used for ground-based tests.[96]
MicroSat-1a and MicroSat-1b were originally slated to be launched into 625 kilometres (388 mi) circular orbits at approximately 86.4 degrees inclination, and to include panchromatic video imager cameras to film images of Earth and the satellite.[97]
Tintin A and B were inserted into a 514 kilometres (319 mi) orbit. Per FCC filings[98] they were intended to raise themselves to an 1,125 kilometres (699 mi) orbit, the operational altitude for Starlink LEO satellites per the earliest regulatory filings, but stayed close to their original orbits. SpaceX announced in November 2018 that they would like to operate an initial shell of about 1,600 satellites in the constellation at about 550 kilometres (340 mi) orbital altitude, at an altitude similar to the orbits Tintin A and B stayed in.[37]: 17
The satellites currently orbit in a circular low Earth orbit at about 500 kilometers (310 mi) altitude[99] in a high-inclination orbit for a planned six to twelve-month duration. The satellites will communicate with three testing ground stations in Washington and California for short-term experiments of less than ten minutes duration, roughly daily.[21][100]
The 60 Starlink v0.9 satellites, launched May 2019, have the following characteristics:[59]
Flat-panel design with multiple high-throughput antennas and a single solar arrayMass: 227 kg (500 lb)Hall-effect thrusters using krypton as the reaction mass, for position adjustment on orbit, altitude maintenance and deorbitStar tracker navigation system for precision pointingAble to use Department of Defense provided debris data to autonomously avoid collision.[101]Operational altitude of 550 km (340 mi)95 percent of "all components of this design will quickly burn in Earth's atmosphere at the end of each satellite's lifecycle"The 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites, launched November 2019, have the additional following characteristics:
100% of "all components of this design will quickly burn in Earth's atmosphere at the end of each satellite's lifecycle."Ka-band added.Mass: 260 kgAlbedo reduced.
SpaceX plans to start offering Starlink broadband services in 2020 - SpaceNews.com
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 23:43
by Sandra Erwin '-- October 22, 2019 SpaceX President and Chief Operating Office Gwynne Shotwell. Credit: SpaceNewsSpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said the goal is to complete six to eight Starlink launches to get sufficient coverage to start offering the service to consumers in 2020.
WASHINGTON '-- SpaceX is confident it can start offering broadband service in the United States via its Starlink constellation in mid-2020, the company's president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said Oct. 22.
Getting there will require the company to launch six to eight batches of satellites, Shotwell told reporters during a media roundtable. SpaceX also has to finish the design and engineering of the user terminals, which is not a minor challenge, Shotwell acknowledged.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has a Starlink terminal at his house and he used it to send a tweet early on Oct. 22.''Sending this tweet through space via Starlink satellite,'' he tweeted to his 29 million followers. ''Whoa, it worked!!''
Shotwell said SpaceX will need to complete six to eight Starlink launches '-- including the one that already took place in May '-- to ensure continuous service in upper and lower latitude bands. ''We need 24 launches to get global coverage,'' she said. ''Every launch after that gives you more capacity.''
The company caused a stir last week when it requested the International Telecommunication Union to approve spectrum for 30,000 additional Starlink satellites to build the world's largest low-Earth orbit broadband constellation. This was in addition to 12,000 already approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
Shotwell said SpaceX is not certain that will need that many satellites. Far fewer are needed for global coverage but the company wants extra spacecraft to be able to offer customers customized service options. Starlink is a mesh network of satellites connected to each other by space lasers.
''We'll continue to upgrade the network until mid to late next year,'' said Shotwell. ''We're hoping for 24 launches by the end of next year.''
Shotwell said many of the Starlink features are being tested by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory under a program called Global Lightning. SpaceX in December 2018 received a $28 million contract to test over the next three years different ways in which the military might use Starlink broadband services. So far, SpaceX has demonstrated data throughput of 610 megabits per second in flight to the cockpit of a U.S. military C-12 twin-engine turboprop aircraft.
SpaceX wants to offer the service to the U.S. government but is now focused on how it will serve the consumer market. Many of the details of how the service will be rolled out remain to be worked out, she said. When possible it will be offered directly to consumers following Musk's Tesla model for selling cars. In many countries the company will be required to partner with local telecom firms to offer the service.
Shotwell recognized a lot of this is uncharted territory for SpaceX. ''This is very different business for SpaceX,'' she said. ''It's leveraging space technology but it's a consumer business.''
She said Starlink is considered ''additive to our business,'' meaning that it will not replace space launch services as SpaceX's primary source of revenue.
SpaceX will have to hire a whole new workforce to deal with sales, tech support and product engineering. User terminals are a major concern. ''The more engineering we do on the user terminal, the less service people we will have to hire,'' said Shotwell, Terminals are one aspect of the Starlink business that the company has to ''get right,'' she said.
When consumers sign up, ''they are going to receive a box from SpaceX'' with a user terminal and a cord, said Shotwell. How that gets connected and where the terminals should be placed in someone's home are still issues to be ironed out. ''We still have a lot to do to get that right,'' said Shotwell. ''Knowing Elon, he wants everything to be beautiful. So the user terminal will be beautiful.''
The price point is also being studied. Shotwell said millions of people in the U.S. pay $80 per month to get ''crappy service.'' She didn't say whether Starlink will cost more or less than $80 per month but suggested that would be a segment of the public the company would target as well as rural areas that currently have no connectivity.
Outside the United States, SpaceX is working nation by nation to get authorization to offer the service. ''Every country has its own process,'' said Shotwell.
The terminals today are being produced at SpaceX's factory in Hawthorne, California. But mass manufacturing in the future will move to a different location Shotwell declined to name.
SpaceX is racing to get Starlink in operation as several other companies continue to build competing broadband constellations. Shotwell said there is probably room in the market for at least two competitors. ''If we do well and make money, there will be competitors.''
As more Starlink launches are planned, SpaceX wants to use previously flown Falcon boosters as much as possible, said Shotwell. ''I think we'll manage the fleet how best we manage the fleet,'' she said. ''Our intent is to use Starlink to push the capability of those boosters and see how many missions they can do.''
A single Falcon booster was designed for 10 flights. The next Starlink mission scheduled in mid-November will be launched by a booster on its fourth flight.
Since SpaceX started returning boosters in 2015, 44 first stages were recovered: 26 at sea and 18 on land. So far 23 of the recovered boosters have flown.
SpaceX's Starlink satellites are so bright, they're being reported as UFOs
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 23:35
It's not aliens, but short of a planetary takeover by tall greys, it's something worse.
Starlink was intended to bring affordable internet to millions of people, many in remote areas, but Elon Musk obviously didn't foresee the side effects. The light pollution that has already plagued astronomers since 120 of what are essentially, at least to a scientist, fake stars were released into low-Earth orbit. Now it just got to be even more of a headache. Not only is the light from these satellites getting in the way of observations, but they are apparently shining bright enough to be mistaken for UFOs.
For whoever doesn't keep up with SpaceX, this has come as something of a shock. Montana residents recently reported sightings of what they thought were unidentified flying objects to their local news outlets after spotting a train of Starlink satellites that could also be seen from Illionis, Iowa and Michigan in the past week. This shouldn't be much of a surprise. When the pseudo-constellations were first launched into the night sky in May, Europe experienced a breakout of UFO sightings.
There are reasons this ''UFO'' phenomenon is more serious than that infamous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, which terrified listeners into thinking Halloween 1938 was the last day of their lives before an alien invasion. Even scarier is that Starlink is looking to launch enough satellites for a total of 12,000. Light pollution could have serious repercussion on astronomical observations.
''The number of such satellites is projected to grow into the tens of thousands over the next several years, creating the potential for substantial adverse impacts to ground- and space-based astronomy,'' said a statement released by the AAS not long after the Starlink constellations were first released.
Observatories operate at night for a reason. Unfortunately, light pollution is sabotaging the clear skies they need. When there is too much artificial light after dark, it scatters and creates a sort of artificial daylight in which stars and other celestial objects, many of which are already dim from Earth, do not appear as clearly as they would in total darkness. It also affects what astronomers can infer from spectroscopy, or the study of light spectra (bands of colors). Spectra emitted by objects in space can tell you their chemical compositions and temperatures. Redshift, or how far light from an object is shifted towards the red end of the spectrum, can give away how fast something is moving through the void. Artificial light really messes with what astronomers are already straining to see.
Never mind what Musk says in the tweet below'--we already know the futuretech mogul stays optimistic even when a rocket explodes. At least he resolved to reduce the reflectivity on any upcoming Starlink satellites, but some astronomers feel that it's already too late. It definitely won't help when competitors start launching their own internet satellites.
In the realm of astronomy, things are being seen rather differently by those who are being blinded trying to do science. The last thing you want to see through the eye of a telescope seeking out dark energy are strange twinkling objects that are definitely not dark energy. Last month, these things gave massive headaches to astronomers running the Dark Energy Survey's Dark Energy Camera (DECam) at the Cerro Tololo Observatory in Chile. Dark Energy Survey astronomer Clara Martinez-Vazquez tweeted about how 19 of these satellites disrupted observations for over 5 minutes.
''[Negative] impacts could include significant disruption of optical and near-infrared observations by direct detection of satellites in reflected and emitted light; contamination of radio astronomical observations by electromagnetic radiation in satellite communication bands; and collision with space-based observatories,'' the AAS statement also mentioned.
That isn't really what you want when you're searching for galaxies swarming with dark matter using an ultra-sensitive camera that images vast areas of the sky in visible and near-infrared light. More light is the last thing astronomers need when peering billions of years into the past of faraway galaxies in order to find out what they were like at the dawn of the universe. DECam is equipped with five filters that each capture images in a different color of light. What happens when man-made lights invade those images? As Martinez-Vazquez said, not cool.
The Starlink constellations must be a bummer to alien hunters who are getting excited over mysterious lights that are coming from no other planet but our own. Who knows if too many shiny things in the sky could be drowning out a message from real aliens.
(via Gizmodo)
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What Is Starlink? And Could Tesla Be Involved? | CleanTechnica
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 23:27
Cars Published on November 10th, 2018 | by Matt Pressman
November 10th, 2018 by Matt Pressman
Originally published on EVANNEX
As anyone who's stuck paying an onerous bill to a local internet monopoly will agree, there's a great market opportunity out there for any company that could offer a global wireless internet connection. SpaceX has been working on just that since 2015, developing a broadband satellite constellation called Starlink. A recent article in SmarterAnalyst proposes that Tesla could be an integral part of the plan.
2024 '' Starlink reaches full capacity https://t.co/gxKQPb8eR6 #spacex #elonmusk #starlink #broadband #internet #future #technology #tech pic.twitter.com/Dzh9r3pDO9
'-- Future Timeline (@future_timeline) September 28, 2017
Starlink hopes to offer internet speeds of 1,000 Mbps, comparable to 5G (about 1,400 Mbps). However, to provide the blazing fast connection speeds Starlink is promising, it needs to have ground transceivers '-- small terminals mounted on customers' homes or businesses, analogous to satellite dishes.According to SmarterAnalyst, SpaceX is set to invest around $10 billion in Starlink. Satellite launches are scheduled to begin in 2019 and be completed by 2024. Starlink's satellites will be located just 210 to 750 miles above the ground, one of the lowest satellite constellations ever launched. The lower the satellites, the faster communication speeds can be.
That's where Tesla comes in '-- SmarterAnalyst speculates that Starlink could use Tesla vehicles as ground transceivers, reducing the number of antennas that need to be installed in areas where Tesla cars are present. Tesla vehicles will probably be outfitted with receptors connected to the Starlink satellites to provide fast and reliable in-car Wi-Fi. However, the receptor could also be built as a transceptor, allowing each Tesla vehicle not only to receive a signal, but to act as a local Wi-Fi hotspot.
Earlier this year, Musk successfully began the SpaceX Starlink program (YouTube: Wochit News)
All Tesla vehicles are outfitted with a module that supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. The internet capabilities are currently only used to relay Autopilot data back to Tesla, but according to SmarterAnalyst, Tesla has the technology to turn each vehicle into a mobile hotspot.
In April of 2018, Tesla applied for an FCC license for a DXX Part 15 Low Power Communication Device Transmitter. Could this transmitter be integrated into future vehicles, making each one a mobile internet service provider? Exciting times lie ahead. Follow CleanTechnica on Google News.It will make you happy & help you live in peace for the rest of your life.
Tags: Elon Musk, Global Internet, internet, Space, SpaceX, Starlink, Tesla, Tesla vehicles
About the Author Matt Pressman is all about Tesla. He's a TSLA investor, pre-ordered the Model 3, and loves driving the family's Model S and Model X company cars. As co-founder of EVANNEX, a family business specializing in aftermarket Tesla accessories, he's served as a contributor/editor of Electric Vehicle University (EVU) and the Owning Model S and Getting Ready for Model 3 books. He writes daily about Tesla and you can follow his work on the EVANNEX blog.
OTG
Y2K-type glitch is causing NYC parking meters to reject credit cards | Engadget
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 09:32
According to the NYC Department of Transportation, crews are out reconfiguring the software meter by meter. It's unclear how long that will take, as the city has 14,000 meters covering about 85,000 parking spaces.
The meters are still accepting coins and the free ParkNYC.org app. The city hasn't said how it will handle all of the tickets issued while the payment software is down.
We've received reports across the city of parking meters not accepting credit cards. DOT crews are out fixing the issue. In the meantime, meters are still accepting coins & the free #ParkNYC app, available at https://t.co/iCQhX2wHF4, App Store, GooglePlay. pic.twitter.com/yzVU21jyqr
'-- NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) January 2, 2020
Top-Paying Carrier says 'Truckers should be paid for driver-facing cameras' and makes them optional
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 09:38
Starting next month, one trucking company is flipping the script on driver-facing cameras with an unusual new policy designed to empower drivers with choice.
As more and more trucking companies make the decision to use mandatory driver-facing cameras in their trucks, Illinois-based GP Transco '' the 3rd highest-paying carrier in the United States '' announced this week that starting in February, it will be making driver-facing cameras a completely voluntary option to all company drivers, and stated that they will be paying drivers an extra 2 cents per mile if the driver chooses this option.
''Driver-facing cameras reduce distracted driving dramatically, but are under-utilized, largely due to the negative stigma about the technology'', says Marija Jamontas, the VP of Safety and HR at GP Transco. ''We know that some drivers do not feel comfortable having them in the truck. That is why we decided to make them optional and to pay our drivers extra for having them. That way, we have a safer fleet, and drivers are compensated for their participation.''
While driver-facing cameras track distracted driving, they do not provide a live video feed of the cabin, nor do they capture sound '' this is important to note since there is some misconception about it in the driver community.
This new option increases the top-paying carrier's driver pay further and was announced this week following the company's announcement of a Fuel Incentive profit sharing program for drivers, where drivers who are in the top 50% of MPG in their fleet get an extra 1 cpm bonus.
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GP Transco's high base-pay, combined with these new incentives, the company's weekly performance bonus program of extra 6 cpm (The OTP Program), and the benefits company drivers receive makes the carrier a top-choice for experienced OTR drivers. GP Transco even provides a realistic salary calculator on their website, where drivers can easily see what they can make at the company. It looks like 2020 is the year where carriers begin to do things differently, and GP Transco seems to be leading the way.
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Wanted: The 'perfect babysitter.' Must pass AI scan for respect and attitude. - The Washington Post
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:39
The system offered an automated ''risk rating'' of the 24-year-old woman, saying she was at a ''very low risk'' of being a drug abuser. But it gave a slightly higher risk assessment '-- a 2 out of 5 '-- for bullying, harassment, being ''disrespectful'' and having a ''bad attitude.''
Listen on Post Reports: Reports Drew Harwell and Carolyn Y. Johnson on how the rise of AI and the risks of bias that come with it.
The system didn't explain why it had made that decision. But Battaglia, who had believed the sitter was trustworthy, suddenly felt pangs of doubt.
''Social media shows a person's character,'' said Battaglia, 29, who lives outside Los Angeles. ''So why did she come in at a 2 and not a 1?''
Predictim is offering parents the same playbook that dozens of other tech firms are selling to employers around the world: artificial-intelligence systems that analyze a person's speech, facial expressions and online history with promises of revealing the hidden aspects of their private lives.
The technology is reshaping how some companies approach recruiting, hiring and reviewing workers, offering employers an unrivaled look at job candidates through a new wave of invasive psychological assessment and surveillance.
The tech firm Fama says it uses AI to police workers' social media for ''toxic behavior'' and alert their bosses. And the recruitment-technology firm HireVue, which works with companies such as Geico, Hilton and Unilever, offers a system that automatically analyzes applicants' tone, word choice and facial movements during video interviews to predict their skill and demeanor on the job. (Candidates are encouraged to smile for best results.)
But critics say Predictim and similar systems present their own dangers by making automated and possibly life-altering decisions virtually unchecked.
The systems depend on black-box algorithms that give little detail about how they reduced the complexities of a person's inner life into a calculation of virtue or harm. And even as Predictim's technology influences parents' thinking, it remains entirely unproven, largely unexplained and vulnerable to quiet biases over how an appropriate babysitter should share, look and speak.
There's this ''mad rush to seize the power of AI to make all kinds of decisions without ensuring it's accountable to human beings,'' said Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a tech advocacy group. ''It's like people have drunk the digital Kool-Aid and think this is an appropriate way to govern our lives.''
Unproven facial-recognition companies target schools, promising an end to shootings
Predictim's scans analyze the entire history of a babysitter's social media, which, for many of the youngest sitters, can cover most of their lives. And the sitters are told they will be at a great disadvantage for the competitive jobs if they refuse.
Predictim's chief and co-founder Sal Parsa said the company, launched last month as part of the University of California at Berkeley's SkyDeck tech incubator, takes ethical questions about its use of the technology seriously. Parents, he said, should see the ratings as a companion that ''may or may not reflect the sitter's actual attributes.''
But the danger of hiring a problematic or violent babysitter, he added, makes the AI a necessary tool for any parent hoping to keep his or her child safe.
''If you search for abusive babysitters on Google, you'll see hundreds of results right now,'' he said. ''There's people out there who either have mental illness or are just born evil. Our goal is to do anything we can to stop them.''
A Predictim scan starts at $24.99 and requires a babysitter's name and email address and her consent to share broad access to her social media accounts. The babysitter can decline, but a parent is notified of her refusal, and in an email the babysitter is told ''the interested parent will not be able to hire you until you complete this request.''
Predictim's executives say they use language-processing algorithms and an image-recognition software known as ''computer vision'' to assess babysitters' Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts for clues about their offline life. The parent is provided the report exclusively and does not have to tell the sitter the results.
Parents could, presumably, look at their sitters' public social media accounts themselves. But the computer-generated reports promise an in-depth inspection of years of online activity, boiled down to a single digit: an intoxicatingly simple solution to an impractical task.
When your kid tries to say 'Alexa' before 'Mama'
The risk ratings are divided into several categories, including explicit content and drug abuse. The start-up has also advertised that its system can evaluate babysitters on other personality traits, such as politeness, ability to work with others and ''positivity.''
The company hopes to upend the multibillion-dollar ''parental outsourcing'' industry and has begun advertising through paid sponsorships of parenting and ''mommy'' blogs. The company's marketing focuses heavily on its ability to expose hidden secrets and prevent ''every parent's nightmare,'' citing criminal cases including that of a Kentucky babysitter charged earlier this year with severely injuring an 8-month-old girl.
''Had the parents of the little girl injured by this babysitter been able to use Predictim as part of their vetting process,'' a company marketing document says, ''they would never have left her alone with their precious child.''
But tech experts say the system raises red flags of its own, including worries that it is preying on parents' fears to sell personality scans of untested accuracy.
They also question how the systems are being trained and how vulnerable they might be to misunderstanding the blurred meanings of sitters' social media use. For all but the highest-risk scans, the parents are given only a suggestion of questionable behavior and no specific phrases, links or details to assess on their own.
When one babysitter's scan was flagged for possible bullying behavior, the unnerved mother who requested it said she couldn't tell whether the software had spotted an old movie quote, song lyric or other phrase as opposed to actual bullying language.
Jamie L. Williams, a staff attorney at the civil-liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said most algorithms deployed now to assess the meaning of words and images online are widely known to lack a human reader's context and common sense. Even tech giants such as Facebook have struggled to build algorithms that can tell the difference between a harmless comment and hate speech.
''Running this system on teenagers: I mean, they're kids!'' Williams said. ''Kids have inside jokes. They're notoriously sarcastic. Something that could sound like a 'bad attitude' to the algorithm could sound to someone else like a political statement or valid criticism.''
And when the system gets it wrong '-- suggesting, for instance, that a babysitter abuses drugs '-- it can be impossible for a parent to know. The system's clear-cut ratings and assertions of confidence might lead parents to expect it to be far more accurate or authoritative than a human could be, steering parents toward sitters they otherwise would have avoided or away from people who had already earned their trust.
''There are no metrics yet to really make it clear whether these tools are effective in predicting what they say they are,'' said Miranda Bogen, a senior policy analyst at Upturn, a Washington think tank that researches how algorithms are used in automated decision-making and criminal justice. ''The pull of these technologies is very likely outpacing their actual capacity.''
Malissa Nielsen, Battaglia's 24-year-old babysitter, gave her approval recently to two separate families who asked her to hand over social media access to Predictim. She said she has always been careful on social media and figured sharing more about herself couldn't hurt: She goes to church once a week, doesn't curse and is finishing a degree in early-childhood education, with which she hopes to open a preschool.
But after she learned that the system had given her imperfect grades for bullying and disrespect, she was stunned. She had believed she was allowing the parents to review her social media, not consenting to having an algorithm dissect her personality. She also hadn't been told of the results for a test that could cripple her only source of income.
''I would have wanted to investigate a little. Why would it think that about me?'' Nielsen said. ''A computer doesn't have feelings. It can't determine all that stuff.''
What artificial intelligence doesn't understand
Americans still harbor a lingering distrust over algorithms whose decisions could affect their daily life. In a Pew Research Center survey released this month, 57 percent of respondents said they thought automated r(C)sum(C) screening of job applicants was ''unacceptable.''
But Predictim nevertheless says it is gearing up for a nationwide expansion. Executives at Sittercity, an online babysitter marketplace visited by millions of parents, said they are launching a pilot program early next year that will fold in Predictim's automated ratings into the site's current array of sitter screenings and background checks.
''Finding a sitter can come with a lot of uncertainty,'' said Sandra Dainora, Sittercity's head of product, who believes tools like these could soon become ''standard currency'' for finding caregivers online. ''Parents are always seeking the best solution, the most research, the best facts.''
Predictim's leaders also believe they can greatly expand the system's capabilities to offer even more intimate measurements of a babysitter's private life. Joel Simonoff, the company's chief technology officer, said the team is interested in gaining ''useful psychometric data'' from babysitters' social media by running their histories through personality tests, such as Myers Briggs, and offering to sell parents the results.
Predictim's social media mining and interest in mass psychological analysis mirror the ambitions of Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy that worked for the Trump campaign and wrenched Facebook into a global privacy scandal. But Predictim's leaders say they have set up internal safeguards and work to protect babysitters' personal data. ''If we ever leaked a babysitter's info, that would not be cool,'' Simonoff said.
Experts worry AI rating systems such as Predictim's portend a future where every job, not just in child care, is decided by a machine. A number of firms in hiring and recruiting are already building or investing in systems that can analyze candidates' r(C)sum(C)s on a massive scale and provide an automated assessment of how each might perform. Similar AI systems '-- including from Jigsaw, a tech incubator created by Google '-- are used to patrol online comments across the Web for harassment, threats and abuse.
But hiring and recruiting algorithms have routinely been shown to hide the kinds of subtle biases that could derail a person's career. Amazon.com stopped developing a recruiting algorithm after learning that it had been unfairly penalizing female candidates, sources told Reuters '-- because the company's history of hires in the male-dominated tech industry had taught the system that male attributes were preferred. The company has said the tool was never used to evaluate candidates. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Some AI experts believe that systems like these have the potential to supercharge the biases of age or racial profiling, including flagging words or images from certain groups more often than others. They also worry that Predictim could coerce young babysitters into handing over intimate data just to get a job.
But Diana Werner, a mother of two living just north of San Francisco, said she believes babysitters should be willing to share their personal information to help with parents' peace of mind.
''A background check is nice, but Predictim goes into depth, really dissecting a person '-- their social and mental status,'' she said.
Where she lives, ''100 percent of the parents are going to want to use this,'' she added. ''We all want the perfect babysitter.''
EuroLand
Honderden auto's verwoest en Noors vliegveld lamgelegd door forse brand | NU - Het laatste nieuws het eerst op NU.nl
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:10
Een brand in een parkeergarage nabij luchthaven Stavanger Sola in Noorwegen heeft al zeker driehonderd auto's verwoest. Gevreesd wordt dat het gebouw met drieduizend parkeerplaatsen instort. Door de forse brand mogen er tot woensdagochtend geen vliegtuigen vertrekken of landen bij de luchthaven. Niemand is gewond geraakt.
Een nabijgelegen hotel met honderden gasten moest gevacueerd worden. Ook de Noorse premier Erna Solberg zou door de brand gedupeerd zijn. Zij zou met een helikopter naar Oslo worden gebracht, maar moet in plaats daarvan minimaal zeven uur in een auto plaatsnemen.
De vijf verdiepingen tellende parkeergarage stond vermoedelijk tot de laatste parkeerplek vol met auto's, schrijft de Noorse omroep NRK. Delen van meerdere verdiepingen zouden al zijn ingestort. De rookontwikkeling wordt door de kunststoffen, brandstof en batterijen in brandende auto's als "erg gevaarlijk" en "giftig" beschouwd.
Doordat het gebouw geen sprinklerinstallatie heeft, gaan alle voertuigen waarschijnlijk in vlammen op. Brandweermannen zouden geregeld explosies van ontploffende brandstoftanks horen. Autoriteiten spreken van tientallen miljoenen euro's aan schade.
Volgens een brandweercommandant blust de brandweer uit veiligheidsoverwegingen niet binnen de parkeergarage. Zo'n zeventig brandweerlieden zouden proberen het vuur te bedwingen. In de loop van woensdagochtend hoopt de brandweer de vlammenzee definitief de baas te zijn.
25 for 45
Dear Colleague on Introduction of War Powers Resolution | Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 14:53
Dear Democratic Colleague,
Last week, the Trump Administration conducted a provocative and disproportionate military airstrike targeting high-level Iranian military officials. This action endangered our servicemembers, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran.
As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe. For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress's war powers granted to it by the Constitution.
This week, the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President's military actions regarding Iran. This resolution is similar to the resolution introduced by Senator Tim Kaine in the Senate. It reasserts Congress's long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration's military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.
The House Resolution will be led by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. Congresswoman Slotkin is a former CIA and Department of Defense analyst specializing in Shia militias. She served multiple tours in the region under both Democratic and Republican Administrations.
I greatly appreciate the solemnity with which all of our Members are working to honor our responsibility to protect American lives and values.
Thank you for your patriotic leadership during this difficult time.
Graham gives Pelosi ultimatum, proposes Senate rule change to remove her from impeachment process | Fox News
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 08:01
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., insisted Sunday that if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not deliver articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate by the end of the week, the Senate should "take matters in our own hands."
Graham accused Pelosi of playing political games and trying to exert control over the Senate trial by keeping it from starting. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recognized Friday on the Senate floor the chamber's rules prevented him from doing anything until Pelosi does her part, but Graham proposed a solution that could remove what McConnell has called an "impasse" in the process.
LINDSEY GRAHAM: QASSEM SOLEIMANI IS DEAD BECAUSE HE 'MISCALCULATED' PRESIDENT TRUMP
"What I would do, if she continues to refuse to send the articles as required by the Constitution, I would work with Senator McConnell to change the rules of the Senate so we could start the trial without her, if necessary," Graham proposed on "Sunday Morning Futures."
When asked how long he would wait before taking this step, Graham replied, "Days, not weeks."
Graham justified this by claiming that Pelosi was engaging in a "political stunt" by holding off on sending the impeachment articles to the Senate, weeks after they were approved by a House vote. He said McConnell would not let her dictate how events unfold.
"Well, we're not going to let Nancy Pelosi use the rules of the Senate to her advantage. This is dangerous to the presidency as an institution," Graham said. "They impeached the president, but the speaker of the House is holding the articles back, trying to extort from the majority leader of the Senate a trial to her liking. They're trying to hold these articles over the head of the president."
Graham laid out how he would expect the trial to go, allowing both sides to present arguments before determining whether witnesses were needed.
"We'll use the Clinton model, where you take the record established in the House, let the House managers appointed by Pelosi make the argument, let the president make his argument why the two articles are flawed, and then we'll decide whether we want witnesses. But this should be done in a couple of weeks," he said.
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Graham expressed hope that the Senate could conclude the impeachment trial before the end of January, but reiterated that this may require the Senate to push Pelosi out of the equation.
"If we don't get the articles this week, then we need to take matters in our own hands and change the rules, deem them to be delivered to the Senate so we can start the trial, invite the House over to participate if they would like," he said. "If they don't come, dismiss the case and get on with governing the country."
Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo contributed to this report.
2020
Bloomberg purchases 60-second Super Bowl ad slot, estimated at $10 million - The Washington Post
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:48
The campaigns of President Trump and billionaire Mike Bloomberg said Tuesday they have each purchased 60 seconds of ad time during the Super Bowl '-- pricey gestures underscoring the record spending expected in this year's presidential race.
Bloomberg's campaign said it purchased the ad at market rate, meaning it probably cost at least $10 million. Fox Sports executives have said they are selling 30-second ads for this year's Super Bowl at ''north of $5 million.''
Trump's campaign said it had also spent $10 million, the beginning of a massive ad blitz heading into the election year. Politico first reported the Trump ad buy. Trump has been fundraising for his reelection since 2017, amassing a historically large war chest.
''The president has built an awesome, high-performance, omnichannel machine and it's time to give it some gas,'' campaign manager Brad Parscale told Politico.
Neither campaign specified the content of their ads, which will air during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. Last year's Super Bowl drew nearly 100 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.
Bloomberg's purchase is the latest evidence of his ad-driven strategy to carve a path to the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg is self-funding his campaign.
He has already spent at least $100 million on campaign ads since entering the race in late November, spending heavily on ads that target Trump in battleground states and introduce himself and his record to voters in those states and online.
Bloomberg's Super Bowl ad, first reported by the New York Times, will come at a convenient time for the candidate '-- just a few weeks before Super Tuesday on March 3, when 16 states and territories have Democratic presidential nominating contests.
Bloomberg, who is skipping the first four early-voting states, is flooding airwaves in states that will vote on delegate-heavy Super Tuesday and states voting in early March, in hopes of winning enough delegates to forge a path to the nomination.
''Mike is taking the fight to Trump,'' said Michael Frazier, a Bloomberg spokesman.
Trump's campaign has previously bought pricey ad slots as a show of strength '-- such as running a television ad during Game 7 of the World Series, and a banner video ad on the YouTube homepage on the first day of a Democratic debate earlier this year.
Bloomberg, a former New York mayor, also aired a YouTube banner ad, during the Democratic debate last month, amplifying his message on one of the most expensive and widest-reaching digital advertising slots.
Fresh Cambridge Analytica leak 'shows global manipulation is out of control' | UK news | The Guardian
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 06:08
An explosive leak of tens of thousands of documents from the defunct data firm Cambridge Analytica is set to expose the inner workings of the company that collapsed after the Observer revealed it had misappropriated 87 million Facebook profiles.
More than 100,000 documents relating to work in 68 countries that will lay bare the global infrastructure of an operation used to manipulate voters on ''an industrial scale'' are set to be released over the next months.
It comes as Christopher Steele, the ex-head of MI6's Russia desk and the intelligence expert behind the so-called ''Steele dossier'' into Trump's relationship with Russia, said that while the company had closed down, the failure to properly punish bad actors meant that the prospects for manipulation of the US election this year were even worse.
The release of documents began on New Year's Day on an anonymous Twitter account, @HindsightFiles, with links to material on elections in Malaysia, Kenya and Brazil. The documents were revealed to have come from Brittany Kaiser, an ex-Cambridge Analytica employee turned whistleblower, and to be the same ones subpoenaed by Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Kaiser, who starred in the Oscar-shortlisted Netflix documentary The Great Hack, decided to go public after last month's election in Britain. ''It's so abundantly clear our electoral systems are wide open to abuse,'' she said. ''I'm very fearful about what is going to happen in the US election later this year, and I think one of the few ways of protecting ourselves is to get as much information out there as possible.''
The documents were retrieved from her email accounts and hard drives, and though she handed over some material to parliament in April 2018, she said there were thousands and thousands more pages which showed a ''breadth and depth of the work'' that went ''way beyond what people think they know about 'the Cambridge Analytica scandal'''.
Steele made a rare public intervention to comment on the leaks. He said that while he didn't know what was in them, the context couldn't be more important because ''on our current trajectory these problems are likely to get worse, not better, and with crucial 2020 elections in America and elsewhere approaching, this is a very scary prospect. Something radical needs to be done about it, and fast.''
He said authorities in the west had failed to punish those practising social and other media manipulation, and ''the result will be that while CA may have been exposed and eventually shut down, other, even more sophisticated actors will have been emboldened to interfere in our elections and sow social divisions''.
Kaiser said the Facebook data scandal was part of a much bigger global operation that worked with governments, intelligence agencies, commercial companies and political campaigns to manipulate and influence people, and that raised huge national security implications.
The unpublished documents contain material that suggests the firm was working for a political party in Ukraine in 2017 even while under investigation as part of Mueller's inquiry and emails that Kaiser says describe how the firm helped develop a ''sophisticated infrastructure of shell companies that were designed to funnel dark money into politics''.
''There are emails between these major Trump donors discussing ways of obscuring the source of their donations through a series of different financial vehicles. These documents expose the entire dark money machinery behind US politics.'' The same machinery, she says, was deployed in other countries that Cambridge Analytica worked in, including, she claims, Britain.
Emma Briant, an academic at Bard College, New York, who specialises in investigating propaganda and has had access to some of the documents for research, said that what had been revealed was ''the tip of the iceberg''.
''The documents reveal a much clearer idea of what actually happened in the 2016 US presidential election, which has a huge bearing on what will happen in 2020. It's the same people involved who we know are building on these same techniques,'' she said.
''There's evidence of really quite disturbing experiments on American voters, manipulating them with fear-based messaging, targeting the most vulnerable, that seems to be continuing. This is an entire global industry that's out of control but what this does is lay out what was happening with this one company.''
Cambridge Analytica Leaks Reveal Global Psychological Manipulation
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 06:08
(TMU) '-- On New Year's Day 2020, Twitter account @HindsightFiles began posting documents from data firm Cambridge Analytica (CA) which expose the extensive infrastructure used to manipulate voters on a global scale.
More than 100,000 documents are said to be released in the coming months, revealing Cambridge Analytica's activity in a shocking 68 countries, including elections in Malaysia, Kenya, and Brazil. The Guardian reported that the documents come from Brittany Kaiser, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica who turned whistleblower and star of the documentary The Great Hack.
Kaiser told the Guardian:
''I'm very fearful about what is going to happen in the U.S. election later this year, and I think one of the few ways of protecting ourselves is to get as much information out there as possible.''
The latest CA whistleblower has said the dumps will contain previously unreleased emails, project plans, case studies, and negotiations. The HindsightFiles twitter account has posted data on the relationship between Cambridge Analytica and John Bolton, former National Security Adviser to the Trump administration. In 2013, the John Bolton Super PAC paid Cambridge Analytica $650,000 for voter data analysis and digital video ad targeting.
The documents provide more details on that relationship, including using psychographics to play on voters hopes and fears. Psychographics is a methodology which focuses on consumers psychological attributes. Research firms attempt to develop a psychographic profile on various segments of the population by studying personality, opinions, interests, attitudes, values, and behaviors.
Known for aggressive foreign policy decisions leading to the #IraqWar, he had 3 goals w/#CambridgeAnalytica'' increase awareness of @AmbJohnBolton'' convince people that National Security is most important'' support @SenThomTillis vs Kay Hagan in #NorthCarolina #Hindsightis2020 pic.twitter.com/N82kvNkoWO
'-- Hindsight is 2020 (@HindsightFiles) January 3, 2020
Ads paid for by @AmbJohnBolton were psychographically targeted meaning they tapped into voter psyche via data collection. The ads used research on voter hopes + fears. Fear was a favorite tactic. This ad went to the category #NEUROTIC #Hindsightis2020https://t.co/IN2FpWYDge pic.twitter.com/dEnTNqsxK7
'-- Hindsight is 2020 (@HindsightFiles) January 3, 2020
Cambridge Analytica first made headlines following the 2016 Presidential election after it was revealed the company had gained access to 87 million Facebook profiles. Whistleblower Christopher Wylie exposed how he helped set up CA and obtain the data of millions of Americans. This is when the public began to understand the scope of Cambridge Analytica's operations.
In 2015, the UK-based political consulting firm, worked on behalf of Ted Cruz's campaign to help him win the 2016 Republican nomination. Cambridge Analytica was also involved in campaigns to promote Brexit, as well as promoting the 2016 Trump Presidential campaign. Donald Trump would eventually hire Steven Bannon as the chief strategist for his White House. Bannon previously served as CA's vice president and was the executive chairman of Breitbart News.
It was through Bannon that whistleblower Christopher Wylie and CA CEO Alexander Nix came to know billionaire Robert Mercer. Bannon arranged for Mercer to invest five million dollars into the creation of Cambridge Analytica. Mercer wanted to work with the group to influence the U.S. elections. When the public became aware of the manipulation by CA, Bannon denied having any knowledge of the scheme. Wylie, however, said Cambridge Analytica was Bannon's ''psychological warfare mindfuck.''
Cambridge Analyitca itself is a web of shadowy companies invested in behavioral researching and influencing mass behavior. Cambridge was born out of the Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), founded by Nigel Oakes and Alexander Nix. SCL claimed to have an expertise in Psychological Operations, and worked as part of military and political operations around the world. An article by the Register noted that SCL provided training to 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group and had access to secret information.
The Great Hack documentary details how SCL started out as a military contractor called SCL Defense before shifting to using their data to influence elections. According to the New Yorker, SCL was born out of another organization created by Oakes, the Behavioral Dynamics Institute (BDI). Oakes told Marketing in a 1992 interview:
''We use the same techniques as Aristotle and Hitler. We appeal to people on an emotional level to get them to agree on a functional level.''
Although Cambridge Analytica has officially shut down, company executives set up a new company in 2017 called Emerdata Limited. It was also reported that SCL executives joined Emerdata, including Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire Robert Mercer. The Mercer family have been consistent supporters of President Donald Trump.
The latest leaks from Cambridge Analytica seem poised to expose more lurid details of the inner workings of the disturbing relationship between big data and political operatives. Both the history of the company and its executives are a clear example of the growing trend of politicians seeking to use data gathered by social media companies to better understand and manipulate the minds of potential voters. Stay tuned to the Mind Unleashed for updates on this developing story.
To learn more about Psychographics watch this report from The Corbett Report.
By Derrick Broze | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com
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Don't Tilt Scales Against Trump, Facebook Executive Warns - The New York Times
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:52
In an internal memo, Andrew Bosworth said he ''desperately'' wanted the president to lose. But, he said, the company should avoid hurting Mr. Trump's campaign.
Andrew Bosworth, who leads Facebook's virtual and augmented reality division, warned employees in a memo not ''to use the tools available to us to change the outcome'' of the 2020 election. Credit... Christian Charisius/picture-alliance & DPA, via Associated Press Jan. 7, 2020Updated 3:46 p.m. ET
SAN FRANCISCO '-- Since the 2016 election, when Russian trolls and a tsunami of misinformation turned social media into a partisan battlefield, Facebook has wrestled with the role it played in President Trump's victory.
Now, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times, a longtime Facebook executive told employees that the company had a moral duty not to tilt the scales against Mr. Trump as he seeks re-election.
On Dec. 30, Andrew Bosworth, the head of Facebook's virtual and augmented reality division, wrote on his internal Facebook page that, as a liberal, he found himself wanting to use the social network's powerful platform against Mr. Trump. But citing the ''Lord of the Rings'' franchise and the philosopher John Rawls, Mr. Bosworth said that doing so would eventually backfire.
''I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result,'' he wrote. ''So what stays my hand? I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment.
''Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her,'' he said, misspelling the name of the character Galadriel. ''As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.''
In a meandering 2,500-word post, titled ''Thoughts for 2020,'' Mr. Bosworth weighed in on issues including political polarization, Russian interference and the news media's treatment of Facebook. He gave a frank assessment of Facebook's shortcomings in recent years, saying that the company had been ''late'' to address the issues of data security, misinformation and foreign interference. And he accused the left of overreach, saying that when it came to calling people Nazis, ''I think my fellow liberals are a bit too, well, liberal.''
Mr. Bosworth also waded into the debate over the health effects of social media, rejecting what he called ''wildly offensive'' comparisons of Facebook to addictive substances like nicotine. He instead compared Facebook to sugar, and said users were responsible for moderating their own intake.
''If I want to eat sugar and die an early death that is a valid position,'' Mr. Bosworth wrote. ''My grandfather took such a stance towards bacon and I admired him for it. And social media is likely much less fatal than bacon.''
The post by Mr. Bosworth, a former head of Facebook's advertising team, provides an unusually candid glimpse of the debates raging within Facebook about the platform's responsibilities as it heads into the 2020 election.
The biggest of those debates is whether Facebook should change its rules governing political speech. Posts by politicians are exempt from many of Facebook's current rules, and their ads are not submitted for fact-checking, giving them license to mislead voters with partisan misinformation.
Last year, platforms like Twitter and Google announced restrictions to their political advertising tools ahead of the 2020 election.
Facebook and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, have faced heavy pressure from Democrats and Republicans, including Mr. Trump's campaign, not to restrict its own powerful ad platform, which allows political campaigns to reach targeted audiences and raise money from supporters. But other politicians, and some Facebook employees, including a group that petitioned Mr. Zuckerberg in October, have argued that the social network has a responsibility to stamp out misinformation on its platform, including in posts by politicians.
Mr. Bosworth said that even though keeping the current policies in place ''very well may lead to'' Mr. Trump's re-election, it was the right decision.
Dozens of Facebook employees pushed back on Mr. Bosworth's conclusions, arguing in the comments section below his post that politicians should be held to the same standard as other Facebook users. They debated whether Facebook should ban or remove posts by politicians, including Mr. Trump, that included hate speech or forms of misinformation.
One Facebook employee warned that if the company continued to take its current approach, it risked promoting populist leaders around the world, including in the United States.
A Facebook spokeswoman provided a statement from Mr. Bosworth in which he said that the post ''wasn't written for public consumption,'' but that he ''hoped this post would encourage my co-workers to continue to accept criticism with grace as we accept the responsibility we have overseeing our platform.''
Ultimately, the decision on whether to allow politicians to spread misinformation on Facebook rests with Mr. Zuckerberg. In recent months, he has appeared to stand firm on the decision to keep the existing ad policies in place, saying that he believes Facebook should not become an arbiter of truth. But he has also left himself room to change his mind. In November, a Facebook spokesman said the company was ''looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads.''
Among those lobbying Mr. Zuckerberg is President Trump himself, who claimed on a radio show on Monday that Mr. Zuckerberg had congratulated him on being ''No. 1'' on Facebook during a private dinner.
Mr. Bosworth said he believed Facebook was responsible for Mr. Trump's 2016 election victory, but not because of Russian interference or the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which millions of Facebook users' data was leaked to a political strategy firm that worked with the Trump campaign. Mr. Bosworth said the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica revelations '-- uncovered by The Times, working with The Observer of London and The Guardian '-- rightly changed the conversation around how Facebook should handle user data, and which companies should be given access to that data.
But, he said, Mr. Trump simply used Facebook's advertising tools effectively.
''He didn't get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica,'' Mr. Bosworth wrote. ''He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I've ever seen from any advertiser. Period.''
Mr. Bosworth, a longtime confidant of Mr. Zuckerberg's who is viewed by some inside Facebook as a proxy for the chief executive, has been an outspoken defender of the company's positions in the past.
In 2018, BuzzFeed News published a memo Mr. Bosworth wrote in 2016 justifying the company's growth-at-all-costs ethos, in which he said the company's mission of connecting people was ''de facto good,'' even if it resulted in deaths.
After the memo's publication, a Facebook executive said the company wished it could ''go back and hit delete'' on Mr. Bosworth's 2016 post.
Far-Left Internet Thinks Mayor Pete Buttigieg Is a Secret Agent
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 09:20
The world is on fire. But for an increasingly vocal segment of extremely online politicos, there is a greater geopolitical concern hanging over the election: the fear that Pete Buttigieg is secretly an asset, officer, or agent of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The conspiracy theory that Buttigieg is a CIA plant has been congealing in the internet's fever swamps for as long as profiles of the young candidate have fixated on a biography that, to the conspiracy-minded, seems almost suspiciously clean'--the perceived threats of neoliberal imperialists and the ''deep state'' converging in the unlikely form of a dweebish Midwestern mayor.
''He's one of the many intelligence community operators working in government,'' Steve Poikonen, host of the YouTube vlog series Slow News Day, said confidently in an April episode titled ''Pete Buttigieg: CIA Democrat?'' In a 13-minute video delineating the conspiracy theory, Poikonen breaks down what he sees as Buttigieg's Harvard-to-Oxford educational pipeline, his service as a Navy Intelligence officer in Afghanistan after a stint at McKinsey & Co., his fellowship at the Truman National Security Project, and the more than 200 national security and intelligence figures who have endorsed his candidacy, including the former head of the National Clandestine Service and the agency's former deputy director.
These, Poikonen told The Daily Beast, all amount to evidence that he's a perfect tool of the intelligence community.
''Put together, a picture forms of an elite-educated, multi-language-speaking employee of the CIA's consulting firm who currently serves as an intelligence officer in the naval reserves,'' Poikonen told The Daily Beast. ''If you created a CIA asset in a lab, you'd wind up with Pete Buttigieg.''
Pointing to Buttigieg's ''mesmerizing, hypnotic blue eyes'' as an obvious tell, Poikonen alleges that the candidate even confessed to having ''botched'' an interview with the intelligence agency during a 2017 interview on campaign strategist David Axelrod's podcast, which, he says, is actually proof that he passed the interview. Such mental gymnastics are emblematic of the tinfoil-hat YouTube genre. (The Daily Beast reviewed the podcast in question and found no such confession; upon listening to the podcast again, Poikonen told The Daily Beast that ''either I heard wrong, or it was edited. Both are possible.'')
But the theory, once restricted to the parts of the internet convinced that pop singer Katy Perry is actually child murder victim JonBen(C)t Ramsey, has begun appearing in more mainstream channels. Left-wing political writers, podcasters and netizens are increasingly latching on to the meme that Buttigieg is a spy, an intelligence asset, or a Freemason to further the criticism that the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is not what he seems.
Last weekend, the popular campaign-themed podcast Worst Year Ever dropped an entire episode about Buttigieg under the lawyer-friendly title, ''Is Pete Buttigieg a C.I.A. Agent?'' Over the course of the 73-minute episode, hosts Robert Evans, Katy Stoll, and Cody Johnston vacillated between rundowns of more mainstream left-wing critiques of Buttigieg's candidacy'--his unpopularity among black voters, his popularity among Silicon Valley tech tycoons, the whole wine cave episode'--and semi-humorous suppositions that Buttigieg is a CIA asset that grew less tongue-in-cheek as the episode went on.
''Conspiracy theory thinking is like a disease that is doing incalculable damage to the body politic, and like I hate jumping into stuff like that, but it's so fucking sketchy!'' Evans exclaims at one point. ''It's so hard to not sound like'--to not be, in fact'--a conspiracy theorist when you talk about this guy, but there's so much of it that screams fucking spooks.''
In the tradition of presidential candidates who have been asked to disavow even the most facially absurd conspiracy theories about them'--including a smear that implicated him in a debunked sexual assault'--Buttigieg last month denied in an interview with The Atlantic that he was in the CIA. The rumor had become increasingly visible as his campaign fought a protracted battle with McKinsey & Co. to release the list of his former clients during his employment at the management consulting firm.
Rival presidential campaigns did their part to foment suspicion about Buttigieg's professional background, encouraging reporters to pursue the idea that a 2008 trip to Somaliland with a college buddy may have been under the auspices of either McKinsey & Co. or some other firm under contract with a foreign government. Those candidates have since dropped out, and Somaliland was nowhere to find on Buttigieg's client list, but the conspiracy theories remain, some stretching to ludicrous, David Ickes-ian extremes.
''Y'all, who's Pete Buttigieg, really?'' Poikonen, who pronounces the former mayor's surname ''Booteggegg,'' asks his viewers.
Poikonen's commenters are ready with answers.
''Buttigieg has CIA ties for sure,'' one responds. ''I know this for a fact because I worked beside the CIA in a similar capacity. Buttigieg = Knights of Malta.''
Another commenter, after declaring that the war in Afghanistan is, in reality, ''a gigantic opium growing operation,'' purports that Buttigieg was a CIA officer tasked with bringing heroin into the United States for unspecified purposes. ''This is how corrupt the US govt actually is.''
Some of the growing enthusiasm for the ''Pete is CIA'' meme is clearly just for lulz'--one TeamBlind commenter responded to a post alleging that Buttigieg is a Langley plant by pointing to the adorably cringey ''High Hopes'' dance choreography as proof that his campaign is in possession of ''CIA-grade brainwashing tech.'' But even the most blatantly facetious mock-conspiracy theory can take root in real ways: In February 2016, Public Policy Polling found that one in 10 Florida voters said they believed that Sen. Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer. (Another 28 percent said that they couldn't be sure either way.)
Similar to that meme, which articulated the fact that lots of people found (find, even!) Cruz to be serial-killer creepy, the ''Pete Is CIA'' meme crystallizes a more pervasive feeling about Buttigieg: that he, like the broken world we live in, was crafted by institutions that can no longer be trusted; therefore, he can't be trusted.
''It's like he was grown in a laboratory for the purposes of the perpetuation of empire,'' said Samuel D. Finkelstein, a political activist, writer, and student at Seton Hall Law School who has written about Buttigieg being ''the spooks' choice'' for left-wing online publication The Grayzone. ''Obviously, there's no evidence solidly that we can point to say, 'oh yeah, Mayor Pete is an asset of the CIA.' That's not a claim that I would make publicly. But that said, if the CIA were to have a presidential candidate, it would look a lot like Mayor Pete.''
Finkelstein, whose work Poikonen cited to The Daily Beast as a good starting place for the theory, said that Buttigieg comes across as a model member of ''The Blob,'' a nickname for the informal permanent bureaucracy that forms America's intelligence and foreign policy apparatus.
''Those people, you know, they're there for decades,'' Finkelstein said. ''They outlast presidential administrations, and they're really the ones operating the machinery, so to speak.''
''The argument that he is a spy doesn't need to be made literally for it to be essentially true,'' said David Covucci, a writer at The Daily Dot who authored a piece expressing mock-skepticism of Buttigieg's claim that he's not in the CIA. In Covucci's view, saying ''Pete is CIA'' isn't dissimilar from saying that Sen. Kamala Harris was a ''cop'''--both, he said, are just cruder or more conspiratorial ways to articulate a deeper suspicion about the candidate.
''Buttigieg-is-CIA is the same meme,'' Covucci told The Daily Beast. ''He's a potential president who people can see would utilize drone strikes conducted without oversight, would campaign on ending the AUMF and then get into office and backtrack, and who would side with the intelligence community over watchdog groups when it comes to things like civilian casualties and the efficacy of the War on Terror. I think that's much more important to consider than whether he literally is an agent of Langley.''
Buttigieg, for the record, has called for an ''end to endless war,'' and has sharply criticized President Donald Trump's decision to order a strike that killed Iran's top military official last week.
Beyond Buttigieg's r(C)sum(C), two pieces of supposed evidence have been the most consistently proposed, both by the satirical and the serious proponents of the ''Pete is CIA'' meme, to be the most damning: his 2008 trip to Somaliland with a college buddy that was later highlighted in a letter to the editor in the New York Times; and Buttigieg's campaign's contracts with a private security company.
On the Worst Year Ever episode, co-host Cody Johnston describes the company, listed in FEC filings as the Virginia-based Patriot Group International, as ''a Blackrock-style private mercenary group,'' with extensive military contracts and connections with the intelligence community. The Buttigieg campaign has paid the firm more than half a million dollars for security services to the firm this campaign cycle, according to those filings, which Johnston remarked was ''very odd'''-- particularly since Patriot Group International's founder declared in 2016 that the company was out of the political protection game after an incident involving a PGI agent who broke the foot of a Ron Paul supporter who was heckling Newt Gingrich.
''Presidential campaigns don't hire mercenaries for crowd control,'' co-host Robert Evans added in response.
The Daily Beast found, however, that the theory that Buttigieg is funnelling campaign dollars to a military contractor is rooted in a case of mistaken corporate identity. According to Patriot Group International's general counsel, the company ''has never provided any services to Pete for America or Pete Buttigieg, period, full stop.''
The actual company contracted by Buttigieg's campaign: Patriot Group International Inc., an eponymous ''boutique security services company'' that provides event security, protective services, security consulting and background checks.
Patriot Group International's general counsel told The Daily Beast that they have sent the company a cease-and-desist letter demanding that it change its name, and has informed the Buttigieg campaign that its FEC filings should be corrected to name the correct security contractor.
Regardless of its falsehood, the security contractor rumor is one of the most popular items in the burgeoning ''Pete is CIA'' misinformation economy. Manipulated images on Twitter are retweet engines: one purports to show that Buttigieg copy-pasted Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) statement condemning Nicols Maduro's hijacking of the Venezuelan National Assembly; another that the same statement was tweeted by the CIA. The latter image was crafted by Finkelstein, who called the viral tweet a joke. For those jealous of QAnon gear, you can buy a T-shirt that superimposes ''CIA'' over Buttigieg's campaign logo for $20.50.
Buttigieg's Somaliland trip, which prompted a letter penned by Buttigieg and longtime friend Nathaniel Myers calling for the international recognition of Somaliland as a sovereign state, has a benign explanation, according to the campaign.
''We hate to break the news to Twitter, but no, Pete was not in the CIA,'' said Chris Meagher, the Buttigieg campaign's national press secretary. ''As for the Somaliland trip, it was not related to his work anywhere. Pete visited a friend while his friend was living in Ethiopia, and the two visited as curious tourists.''
That conspiracy theory, as all seem to do, has been floated by white supremacist blogs, as well as by critics who note that Myers is now a senior transition adviser at USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives'--which, ''Pete is CIA'' advocates eagerly point out, has a long history of meddling in the domestic affairs of foreign countries in the service of encouraging democratic reforms.
Why an intelligence agent with presidential aspirations would draw attention to their work by writing about it in the New York Times remains an open question. (Is it really that bizarre to imagine that a person who taught himself Norwegian to read the untranslated works of Erlend Loe would make a pitstop in Somaliland midway through a larger vacation? Does Buttigieg really seem like the Myrtle Beach type?)
Even the most humdrum explanations for the two most frequently cited pillars of the ''Pete is CIA'' meme, though, might not be enough to shake the candidate's most suspicious critics.
''I really don't think that there's all that much they could do to shake that sense of general distrust that people have of him and his background,'' Finkelstein told The Daily Beast. For him, and many others who see in Buttigieg a poster child for institutions that people have good reason to distrust, ''it's what he's selling himself on.''
''His core brand proposition is, 'I am the Harvard-Oxford-McKinsey guy,''' Finkelstein said. ''It would be hard for him to shake that.''
Hillary Clinton appointed chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast - BBC News
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 07:33
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Hillary Clinton is to be the new chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast (QUB)Hillary Clinton is to be the new chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast (QUB).
The former US secretary of state is the university's 11th chancellor and first woman to take up the post.
In a statement, Mrs Clinton said it was a "great privilege" to become the chancellor of QUB.
She takes up her role immediately and will serve for a period of five years, succeeding Dr Tom Moran - who died last year.
While the role of chancellor is mainly a ceremonial one, securing Mrs Clinton will be seen as a coup for Queen's.
The chancellor often presides at graduation ceremonies and is also an ambassador for the university abroad.
Image copyright Pacemaker Image caption Hillary Clinton visited Stormont when she was US secretary of state in 2012 Mrs Clinton will also act as an advisor to the vice-chancellor Prof Ian Greer and senior management.
The former Democratic presidential nominee previously received an honorary degree from Queen's in 2018.
However, her connection to Northern Ireland stretches back over three decades.
She first visited Northern Ireland as First Lady in November 1995 with her husband, President Bill Clinton.
They spent a day meeting representatives from across the community and also switched on Belfast's Christmas lights.
Image copyright Pacemaker Image caption Hillary Clinton met peace campaigner Joyce McCartan during her first visit to Belfast in 1995 President Clinton was the first serving US president to visit Northern Ireland.
Since then, Mrs Clinton has been a regular visitor to the country.
She was appointed US Secretary of State by President Barack Obama in 2009, serving for four years until stepping down in 2013.
However, after winning the Democratic nomination for the White House she lost the 2016 Presidential election to the Republican Party candidate Donald Trump.
Mrs Clinton recently told the BBC that she was "under enormous pressure" to challenge President Donald Trump in next year's election.
The chair of the QUB senate - the university's governing body - Mr Stephen Prenter said he was delighted that she was the new chancellor.
"Secretary Clinton has made a considerable contribution to Northern Ireland and as an internationally recognised leader will be an incredible advocate for Queen's and an inspirational role model for the Queen's community," he said.
Pig Ebola
China flight systems jammed by pig farm's African swine fever defences | South China Morning Post
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 23:31
Navigation systems of planes flying over a pig farm were affected by the farmer's efforts to prevent a drone attack by criminal gangs spreading African swine fever. Photo: AFP
Reports of criminal gangs using drones to spread infection led to installation of jamming deviceUnauthorised equipment interfered with navigation systems of planes flying overheadTopic | China Society
Mandy Zuo in Shanghai
Published: 5:15pm, 20 Dec, 2019
Updated: 8:01pm, 20 Dec, 2019
Navigation systems of planes flying over a pig farm were affected by the farmer's efforts to prevent a drone attack by criminal gangs spreading African swine fever. Photo: AFP
Mandy Zuo
Mandy Zuo joined the Post in 2010 and reports on China. She has covered a wide range of subjects including policy, rural issues, culture and society. She worked in Beijing before relocating to Shanghai in 2014.
War on Milk
Borden Becomes Second Big U.S. Milk Producer to File for Bankruptcy
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 07:49
(Bloomberg) -- Borden Dairy Co. filed for bankruptcy late Sunday, becoming the second major U.S. milk producer to do so in recent months as rising milk prices and other challenges made its debt load unsustainable.
The Dallas-based company listed assets and liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million in its Chapter 11 filing in Delaware. The company, founded more than 160 years ago, said in a statement that operations will continue as normal during the reorganization.
''Borden is EBITDA-positive and growing, but we must achieve a more viable capital structure,'' Chief Executive Officer Tony Sarsam said in the statement, referring to the widely followed profit measure of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. ''This reorganization will strengthen our position for future prosperity.''
The bankruptcy filing comes less than two months after larger rival Dean Foods Co. filed for Chapter 11 in Houston. Conventional milk producers have struggled amid rising milk prices and competition from almond, rice and soy milk.
''The company continues to be impacted by the rising cost of raw milk and market challenges facing the dairy industry,'' Sarsam said in the statement. ''For the last few months, we have engaged in discussions with our lenders to evaluate a range of potential strategic plans for the company. Ultimately, we determined that the best way to protect the company, for the benefit of all stakeholders, is to reorganize through this court-supervised process.''
Private equity firm ACON Investments LLC and affiliates acquired Borden in 2017. ACON said in a statement at the time that the company received debt facilities from GSO Capital Partners and PNC Bank.
The case is Borden Dairy Holdings LLC, 20-10011, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware
To contact the reporter on this story: Shannon D. Harrington in New York at sharrington6@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shannon D. Harrington at sharrington6@bloomberg.net, Andrew Monahan
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
(C)2020 Bloomberg L.P.
SJW
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez Goes to Washington: AOC shamed into un-liking antiwar journalist's tweet, apologizing for wrongthink '-- RT USA News
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:51
New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez learned the hard way about the phalanx of thought-police waiting to pounce on politicians' 'wrongthink' when she was shamed into un-liking a tweet from an antiwar journalist.
Ocasio-Cortez (AOC, for short) stepped a little too far outside the mainstream when she clicked 'like' on a tweet by journalist Rania Khalek about US fears of Iranian retaliation over the killing of General Qassem Soleimani. An army of blue-checks and their enforcers quickly encircled her to point out the error of her ways, gloating when she finally knuckled under and apologized.
Last night the President engaged in what is widely being recognized as an act of war against Iran, one that now risks the lives of millions of innocent people.Now is the moment to prevent war & protect innocent people - the question for many is how, publicly & Congressionally:
'-- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 3, 2020AOC was one of the few Democratic politicians credibly horrified by President Donald Trump's unprovoked attack, and to her credit she immediately took to Twitter to denounce it, calling out an ''act of war against Iran'' that ''risks the lives of millions of innocent people.''
A friend flying into the US says he hasn't seen so much security since 9/11. The US is terrified of how Iran will retaliate. Iran won't attack civilians, that's what al Qaeda does. But it shows this assassination did the opposite of making Americans safer and our leaders know it.
'-- Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) January 5, 2020Khalek's tweet was largely in the same vein, making the point that ''this assassination did the opposite of making Americans safer and our leaders know it.''
But it wasn't the content of the tweet that infuriated these social media hall monitors, who have been gently prodding AOC toward an anodyne centrism since she arrived in Washington; it was the account doing the tweeting. Khalek is an outspoken opponent of US foreign policy, particularly the draconian sanctions and endless regime-change wars that have all but destroyed large swathes of the Middle East over the past two decades. She has made a lot of enemies in standing up for the US's bogeymen, and they came out in force to concern-troll AOC.
''I'm a big fan, but did you know you've committed a thoughtcrime?'' seemed to be the general message.
AOC liking a tweet by a Syrian war crimes denier who says Iran doesn't target civilians is one way to start the week. It's possible to be critical of this situation without being ahistorical. pic.twitter.com/Jjl3irQGXK
'-- Miriam Elder (@MiriamElder) January 6, 2020Hi @AOC, I am 1 of those ppl who disagrees w/ you, yet respects you and your work a lot. I wanted to let you know that you have been following/liking tweets of someone who spent the last 5yrs whitewashing mass murder in the Mid East. Rania is a full time Assad whitewasher. pic.twitter.com/SO5onqAmev
'-- S. Rifai (@THE_47th) January 6, 2020Some, like 'professional troll' Maryam Nayeb Yazdi, who has made no secret of her loathing for Iran's current government, deleted their tweets after AOC was badgered into un-liking Khalek's message and - supposedly - apologizing via Direct Message for her 'crime'.
But merely apologizing and unliking the tweet wasn't enough for some - one regime change fan actually called for a memo to be circulated in Congress to warn ''progressive members'' about Khalek and fellow anti-war journalists Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton. Clearly, a preemptive strike against wrongthink was needed.
Someone needs to circulate a memo among progressive members of Congress about Khalek, Blumenthal, and Norton. The embarrassment over unknowingly (and, yes, it's not intentional, don't be a giddy fool) retweeting or liking agitprop is unnecessary.
'-- Abe Silberstein (@abesilbe) January 7, 2020It's hardly the first time AOC has made a bold statement and then ran in the other direction - she was shamed away from speaking out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine before she was even officially elected to Congress, and more recently she was the subject of a Twitter pile-on when she attempted to speak up for UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Nor is it the first time a 'progressive' US politician has had their knuckles rapped for veering too far outside the accepted mainstream. Even Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, one of the loudest voices in Washington speaking out against the US's regime change wars, has been forced to adopt the establishment line about Syrian President Bashar Assad, with whom she met in 2017 in the service of finding a peaceful solution to the decade-long war the US has waged in his country. Following an avalanche of media criticism that is still ongoing nearly three years later, Gabbard has called Assad an evil dictator.
Also on rt.com War over Iran already raging on Twitter: users call for Trump ban, claim suspension over 'No war on Iran' image Unfortunately, there are no progressive role models in Congress for AOC (or Gabbard, for that matter) to look up to as an example of how to stick to one's principles and stand against war. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, while a steadfast supporter of the rights of the working class, has largely toed the line on foreign policy throughout his career, lining up with the rest of Congress to demand Assad, Venezuela's Maduro - or whoever the bogeyman of the moment is - must go. Even the standard-bearers of the rabidly anti-Trump Democratic Party limited their criticism of the Soleimani strike to the president's failure to gain approval from Congress first. AOC may have to choose between being on the right side of history and being embraced by her party - and its Twitter enforcers.
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Elites
Even the Queen was not told of Harry and Meghan's shock move to quit - ITV News
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 05:50
Even the Queen was not told of Harry and Meghan's shock move to quit Credit: PAThe Queen was not informed of the decision by Harry and Meghan to quit the Royal Family.
So rushed was the ''personal message'' from the office of Harry and Meghan, other royal households were taken by complete surprise at its significant content and its timing.
Neither Prince Charles nor Prince William were told in advance.
They too were blindsided.
It left the rest of the Royal Family ''deeply disappointed'' with the move by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The couple had only just returned from their six week break from royal duties.
The Sussexes had spent the time with their baby son, Archie, on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.
Prince Harry cuddles baby son Archie during their Christmas stay in Canada. Credit: @sussexroyalOn Wednesday, they decided to make a very public display of thanks to Canada '' by going to the Canadian High Commission in London '' after their very private time away.
They had clearly spent it doing a lot of thinking about their future '' and whether it was one which included staying in the Royal Family.
But the decision has far-reaching consequences and none has yet been worked out by senior courtiers.
It explains the short, hurried and rather terse statement from Buckingham Palace last night saying simply that the 'discussions' with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were at 'an early stage' and the 'complicated issues' would take time to 'work through'.
In other words, no one in the royal households has any idea how to make this happen '' or if it can happen at all.
So it didn't take long to sense the anger from other corners of the Family.
A Palace source accused Harry and Meghan's of 'blurting out' their public statement 'without the Sovereign's blessing'.
The couple have said they will continue to support the royal family. Credit: PAThe idea of some kind of declaration of independence by the Sussexes had been floated '' but only in the last day or two.
The Sussexes were accused of doing it 'without consultation'.
However, it's understood Harry and Meghan wanted to announce their plans when they attended the Canadian High Commission on Tuesday but were persuaded not to.
They were angered that the plans had been leaked to the Sun newspaper on Wednesday morning and it appears they decided to make their announcement on their own terms.
The development leaves the Royal Family in a very difficult place.
Courtiers now have to find a way to accommodate Harry and Meghan's wishes to spend part of their time in the UK and part of it in Canada.
Who pays for their UK-funded security personnel?
Do they continue to live at Frogmore Cottage, which was renovated at a cost of more than £2 million from the Sovereign Grant '' the royal funds which come from the Treasury.
And what about their titles or their plans to launch their charitable Sussex Foundation?
And how do the Duke and Duchess plan to become 'financially independent'?
There is much to sort out and it will now have to be done in an even more tense atmosphere between the Sussexes and the rest of the Royal Family.
''Perhaps they should have done it discreetly,'' a royal source said, ''and worked out the detail before making this statement.''
Last updated Thu 9 Jan 2020
Ministry of Truthiness
CNN settles lawsuit with Nick Sandmann
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 16:25
COVINGTON, Ky. (FOX19) - CNN agreed Tuesday to settle a lawsuit with Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann.
The amount of the settlement was not made public during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Covington, Kentucky.
Sandmann's lawsuit sought $800 million from CNN, the Washington Post and NBC Universal.
Trial dates are still not set for Sandmann's lawsuit against NBC Universal and the Washington Post.
The Washington Post suit sought $250 million. A federal judge let a portion of the suit go forward after The Post filed a motion to dismiss it.
Sandmann's attorney, Lin Wood, said, ''This case will be tried not one minute earlier or later than when it is ready.''
The lawsuits were filed following an incident in Jan. 2019 in Washington, D.C. involving Covington Catholic High School students. Videos of that incident garnered national attention.
The initial video showed the self-identified Sandmann, now a senior at CovCath, and Nathan Phillips, an indigenous man who was participating in the Indigenous Peoples March. Sandmann and his classmates were in D.C. for the March For Life.
Wood said the damages were sought due to ''emotional distress Nicholas and his family suffered." He also said the family had to move from their home temporarily and that Nicholas was not permitted to attend school directly after the trip to Washington.
A lawsuit is expected to be filed against Phillips, Wood said. He indicated that lawsuit would seek $5 million, but the judge said that Phillips does not have as much money as the other defendants.
They also plan to sue Gannett, owners of The Enquirer, according to Wood.
He said he will bring that to the judge in the next 60 days.
Wood also said there's a maximum of 15 defendants.
Attorneys say the money they're seeking is not designed to compensate Nick, but to ''deter the defendants'' from doing the same thing (that they're accused of) in the future.
Copyright 2020 WXIX. All rights reserved.
ADOS
Black News Channel pushes back launch date to Black History Month | Daily Mail Online
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 08:16
Black News Channel pushes back its launch date for the second time and now aims to begin broadcasting during Black History Month to maximize audienceBlack News Channel will be available for viewing beginning on February 10 BNC was first slated to go on the air in November, but launch date was changed Network is trying to avail itself on mobile apps and streaming services One of BNC's co-founders is JC Watts, a former Republican congressman By Ariel Zilber For Dailymail.com
Published: 21:23 EST, 5 January 2020 | Updated: 03:06 EST, 6 January 2020
A new 24-hour cable news channel aimed at an African American audience has once again delayed its launch - this time until Black History Month.
The Black News Channel, a new venture co-founded by former Republican Congressman JC Watts, was originally scheduled to go on the air on November 15.
The network then announced that it pushed back its launch date to January 6.
But now the channel is expected to be beamed into 70 million homes across the country starting on February 10.
'Black History Month is an appropriate time to launch the Black News Channel,' Bob Brillante, co-founder and CEO for BNC, announced in a press release last week.
'We are committed to make sure that when our viewers tune in they are witness to a quality viewing experience.'
A new 24-hour cable news channel aimed at an African American audience, which is being launched by co-founders JC Watts (left) and Bob Brillante (right), has pushed back its premiere date to February 10
The Black News Channel was originally scheduled to go on the air in November, but it has twice changed its launch date
BNC said it wanted to wait with its premiere so that it could reach a wider and younger audience that gets its news from digital platforms including live streaming and mobile apps.
In announcing the first delay back in November, Watts told USA Today that the network wanted to attract millennial viewers, 98 per cent of whom have cell phones.
More than two-thirds of millennials use their mobile devices as their primary source of news.
Watts said BNC has already reached distribution deals with media giants like Comcast, Charter, and Dish Network.
'Our technicians, crew and launch partners are working overtime to make sure that the additional pieces are in place to provide our African American audience with the programming that tells more of our story in a way that is not provided by current news outlets,' Watts said.
'We will make history together as we launch February 10, 2020 to more than 70 million homes and devices.'
BNC will be based out of Tallahassee, Florida.
Watts and Brillante, a longtime television executive, had initially planned to launch a media venture tailored to an African American audience more than a decade ago, but the recession of 2008 forced them to put off those plans.
The new venture will feature a lineup of award-winning journalists, including Laverne McGee (above)
'There's 200-plus stations, but there's nowhere you can get your remote and say, ''I want to find something that is culturally specific to the African American community'',' Watts said.
'That's not just in terms of current affairs, but that is wellness.
'You won't find any network today that talks about sickle cell (disease) and diabetes as it relates to the black community.'
The news channel announced its prime-time news anchors, including Fred Hickman, the former CNN host.
Hickman has most recently been seen on the airwaves in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The network will also feature two Emmy Award-winning journalists - Laverne McGee and Anthony Amey.
Watts is expected to host his own documentary-style show in which he travels across the country and interviews African Americans about their concerns.
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Space Force
45th Space Wing prepares for first launch under the U.S. Space Force - SpaceNews.com
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 17:29
by Sandra Erwin '-- January 4, 2020 The 45th Space Wing supported the launch of SpaceX's Starlink mission on a Falcon 9 rocket on November 11, 2019, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Credit: U.S. Air ForceBrig. Gen. Doug Schiess said the 45th Space Wing will continue to do what it has been doing.
WASHINGTON '-- The SpaceX launch of Starlink satellites scheduled for Jan. 6 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Florida Space Coast will be the first launch of 2020 and also the 45th Space Wing's inaugural launch as part of the U.S. Space Force.
The 45th Space Wing, headquartered at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., oversees the preparation and launching of U.S. government and commercial satellites from Cape Canaveral and operates the Eastern Range. It is one of five Air Force space wings that have been assigned to the U.S. Space Force effective Dec. 20, when President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act that created the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.
''I'm excited for the 45th Space Wing to be a part of the U.S. Space Force,'' wing commander Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess said in a statement Jan. 3.
The 45th Space Wing will continue to do what it has been doing and the transition to the Space Force will not change that, Schiess said.
The details of how the U.S. Space Force will be structured and staffed will take at least 18 months to sort out. For now the Space Force will be composed of uniformed and civilian personnel who worked under the Air Force Space Command. AFSPC personnel have been assigned to the Space Force but still remain airmen within the U.S. Air Force. Over the next year, the Air Force will figure out a process to allow service members to leave the Air Force and officially transfer into the Space Force.
There are about 16,000 Air Force personnel that support the five space wings and are now part of the new branch. Besides the 45th Space Wing in Florida is the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force, Colorado; the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado; and the 460th Space Wing at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado.
The organization that oversees the five wings '-- the 14th Air Force, headquartered at Vandenberg '-- on Dec. 27 was renamed Space Operations Command. Maj. Gen. John Shaw, former commander of the 14th Air Force, is now the commander of the Space Operations Command, or SpOC.
''The effects the new Space Force will have on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base has not been announced yet, but continuing to successfully accomplish the mission without interruption is our top priority,'' Schiess said.
Space Force report due to Congress
The NDAA directs the secretary of the Air Force to submit by February 1 a report on how the Space Force will be organized and its anticipated funding requirements.
The details are being hashed out by a team known as Task Force Tang-O (a play on American astronauts' preferred beverage in space). DoD sources told SpaceNews that the report that is being prepared for Congress will lay out a proposed structure but that some pieces of the puzzle will be missing until a year or 18 months from now.
The acting chief of the Space Force, Air Force Gen. John Raymond, told reporters Dec. 20 that there are still ''thousands of actions will have to take place'' over the coming months and years. ''The uniforms, the patch, the song, the culture of a service, that work will continue,'' Raymond said. ''We're not going to be in a rush. That's not something that we're going to roll out on day one.''
Raymond, who is commander of U.S. Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, is overseeing the Task Force Tang-O from Colorado Springs. He is working in coordination with a team at the Pentagon, led by Air Force Maj. Gen. Clinton Crosier.
A DoD source said one of the central questions being debated by Tang-O is whether the Space Force should follow the traditional Air Force structure or should be something completely different. The way the Air Force organizes its headquarters staff and field units was tailored for aviation, and some argue that it doesn't fit space operations that are mostly conducted in garrison.
Briefing slides prepared by the Tang-O group in June proposed organizing the Space Force into a Space Operations Command and a Space Force Materiel Command. The latter would bring under a unified command the Space and Missile Systems Center, the Space Development Agency and other space-focused laboratories such as the Space Rapid Capabilities Office.
The team also suggested standing up a Space Training and Readiness Command. But bringing these ideas to fruition depends on how many ''billets'' (military-speak for specific positions or assignments) the Air Force turns over to the Space Force. In the NDAA Congress did not authorize the hiring of new people for the space branch.
Armageddon
Repo Panic Returns As Fed Injects $99BN In Liquidity, Including First Oversubscribed Term Repo In Three Weeks | Zero Hedge
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:13
And just like that, the repo market is on the fritz once again.
More than two weeks after the last oversubscribed term repo operation on December 16, moments ago the Fed announced that Dealers are once again scrambling for liquidity, submitting $41.12BN in securities ($30.7BN in TSYs, $10.42BN in MBS) into today's 2-week repo operation, which was oversubscribed hitting the maximum operation limit of $35BN.
Today's oversubscription was ominous because while the liquidity shortage into year-end was expected, and justified the barrage of term repos ahead of the "turn", the liquidity shortage was supposed to normalize after the new year. Alas, that appears to not have happened, and today's submission was the highest since Dec 16.
One reason for today's repo spike is that as we noted last Friday, this is the first week that sees substantial term repo maturities and liquidity drainage, as follows:
$25 billion leaves the market on Monday,$28.8 billion on Tuesday,$18 billion next FridayBut wait there's more: today's oversubscribed term repo, coupled with yesterday's overnight repo surge and this morning's $63.919BN overnight repo ...
... means the Fed just injected a total of $99BN to keep the levitation party going, and confirms that the repo market remains paralyzed.
Worse, any attempts to drain liquidity from the repo market, or generally slow down the shrinkage of the balance sheet, will be met with failure. It is also another indication that the repo market now holds the Fed hostage, with Powell now trapped in not only injecting liquidity via QE4, i.e., the monetization of T-Bills, but continued reliance on repos in the $250BN range.
Of course, should the Fed threaten to pull even a bit more liquidity than the market is comfortable sacrificing, and stocks get it. The flip side too: as long as the Fed keeps growing the balance sheet at a rate of about $100 billion per month, the market meltup will continue.
War on Guns
Virginia vows to shut down all gun ranges not owned by the state
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 09:46
If it wasn't bad enough watching the action unfold surrounding unconstitutional gun laws and the militias being formed to fight against them, now it seems like Virginia is trying to pull yet another move threatening the rights of law abiding gun owners.
They want to shut down every gun range in the state that isn't owned by the government.
According to House Bill 567, any indoor shooting range would be prohibited by law '' UNLESS it was inside of a building owned or leased by the state.
And any business owners who decided to defy the law could be facing up to a $100,000 fine and potential additional civil penalties.
According to the bill, which has not yet been voted on or approved, would prohibit'' the operation of an indoor shooting range, defined in the bill, in any building not owned or leased by the Commonwealth or federal government.''
For those that would be staying open, the state appears to want them to act as a data collecting operation, creating a state-controlled list of who is using the range as well as their photo ID and home address.
Let's be clear. This is a very real threat against the rights laid out in the Constitution. Americans have the right to defend themselves. And the state is literally trying to stop gun owners from training and improving their skills.
This is an attack on our liberties.
And not only is it unfair to those who wish to train, it's also a blow to small business owners across the Commonwealth.
Staff writer and retired officer Leah Ayana brought you more about the Commonwealth's unreasonable moves to restrict gun owners' rights to bear arms.
'--
The NRA created a website with a countdown representing the number of days until Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's ''gun confiscation.''
As I write this, the time left is just under 20 hours.
Of course, that's not exactly accurate, but the impending doom the organization and other Virginians are feeling is obvious.
The legislative session for Virginia begins later this week, and the first hearing of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee is January 13th, where a vote is likely for Northam's new gun laws. The NRA has been hosting town hall meetings, activating grassroots representatives, and is holding Lobby Day in Richmond on the 13th.
The group's message is clear: Don't try to take our guns.
Don't violate our constitutional rights.
Don't threaten the commonwealth with the National Guard and police officers to take our guns.
The pro-gun organization isn't the only entity or person speaking out against these proposed laws.
Virginian Delegate Dave LaRock has sent a letter to Governor Northam asking him to deescalate the entire situation.
LaRock advocates that the proposed legislation and budget appropriations connected to gun confiscation, as well as the message to the public that the National Guard and local police will be the ones enforcing these laws, have the potential to:
'''...place neighbor against neighbor in possibly violent confrontations.''Earlier this week, LaRock received a letter from the wife of an active duty Virginia Guardsman, Michaela Claywell. Mrs. Claywell informed LaRock of ''threats of severe violence'' that had been posted on Facebook, which ''appear to condone violence against Guard members and their families'' if they attempt to take their guns.
These threats are obviously criminal and are being investigated according to Col. Gary Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent, but they also lend evidence to LaRock's fear of turning ''neighbor against neighbor.''
This all came about in the wake of Representative Donald McEachin publicly encouraging Governor Northam to activate the National Guard to enforce the gun confiscations they seek, after many members of the law enforcement community spoke out saying that they wouldn't.
The only problem is, the National Guardsmen don't want to, either.
And the threat of doing just that is ''undermining the safety and peace-of-mind of families across Virginia,'' according to LaRock.
Mrs. Claywell and several other wives signed the letter to LaRock, which was also sent along to the governor, some members of Congress and state legislators. In it, Mrs. Claywell expressed concern over Rep McEachin's statements, as well as the lashing out Guardsmen and their families have endured in the time following.
In her letter, Mrs. Claywell asked 2 things:
''1. Hold accountable the people that have used hate speech and made criminal threats against our soldiers and our families.2. Use your media relations teams in a coordinated effort to de-escalate the current situation but also monitor this situation as the 2nd Amendment issue in Virginia progresses.''She went on to say:
''Please use your collective influence to protect our soldiers and our families. Our children should never be the focus of death threats or hate speech because of politics. Our soldiers have given more than many Virginians could ever appreciate; this treatment is not what they deserve.''In LaRock's letter, he told Governor Northam:
''The safety of our citizens and the security of the Virginia National Guard members and Law Enforcement members and their families is of utmost importance.''He also asked the governor to meet with Mrs. Claywell and the other concerned wives and family members regarding the legislation to ''discuss the specific actions related to gun legislation which you intend to propose or support.''
Wiseley, LaRock has noticed ''evidence of unwavering resolve being communicated to us through individual Virginians and through local governments that an overreach involving Constitutionally-protected Second Amendment rights will be resisted with strong determination.''
In other words, the 91% of municipalities in the state who have declared themselves Sanctuaries for their 2nd amendment rights, as well as organizations like the NRA, and individuals such as Mrs. Claywell and her fellow Guard families, aren't interested in hearing any more about your unconstitutional legislation proposals. So stop it.
LaRock continued in his letter to Northam:
''It is incumbent upon you and me, as well as all elected officials, to avoid words or actions that unnecessarily increase fear and or the potential for harm to Virginians whose safety and wellbeing we are entrusted to protect.''The matter has become unsettling to Virginians who are unsure how such gun restrictions would be enforced and by whom. Without knowing the ultimate disposition of the legislation, I can only reassure those concerned that it would not benefit the safety and security of our Commonwealth to have State Police or Virginia Guardsmen actively enforce new gun laws, as such a scenario could have the potential to place neighbor against neighbor in possibly violent confrontations, a scenario I hope you and I agree would be totally unacceptable.''LaRock continued:
''For these reasons and many more, I am asking you to act immediately, as requested by the signers of the attached letter, to take public and very visible steps to ''Deescalate'' this situation by reassuring Virginians, being very clear about your intentions, and to further confirm that there will be no orders made to the National Guard or Law Enforcement to confiscate firearms from Virginians.''At this time, there has been no response to LaRock or Mrs. Claywell.
Aside from Mrs. Claywell, signers of the letter from Guardsman wives are as follows:
Cheryl Williams, Wife of Major General Timothy Williams
Porter Kobernik, Wife of Lieutenant Colonel Kurt Kobernik
Bethany Price, Wife of Major Brandon Price
Michaela Claywell, Wife of First Sergeant Denver Claywell
Jessica Turner, Wife of Sergeant First Class Brandon Turner
Sarah Springer, Wife of Sergeant First Class Wayne Springer
Ashley Bosserman, Wife of Sergeant First Class Paul Bosserman
Bethany Jesse, Wife of Former Guardsman Sergeant Eric Jesse
Ladies, we at Law Enforcement Today are with you, and thank you all for your families' service to our great nation.
Delegate LaRock and other politicians with your heads on straight, NRA, Virginia Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of America, 91% of municipalities all across Virginia, and thousands upon thousands of Virginians who do not want their rights infringed upon: Keep fighting the good fight. The whole nation is watching.
In the meantime, in his infinite wisdom, Governor Ralph Northam has proposed legislative criminal justice reforms that he is seeking to be passed this year.
He's not only proposing the changes. He's promising them.
Amidst the impending doom of democratic control in both houses of the General Assembly set to take over next week, Northam declared that he is fully behind reforms that would make the system more ''equitable'' and ''compassionate'' in his state.
Included in these reforms so far is decriminalizing marijuana possession, raising the threshold for felony larceny, and seeing less people with suspended licenses in the state.
Possession of marijuana would no longer be punishable by incarceration, it would be only a $50 fine. The Governor doesn't just want to decriminalize marijuana possession. He also wants to expunge past records for people who were charged with the crime. According to Northam's plan, this is because:
''Studies show marijuana arrests have disproportionately impacted people of color'--this legislation clears the records of individuals who have been previously convicted of simple possession.''Dealing with theft, he would like to see the threshold turning the crime into a felony increased from its current $500 to $1,000.
As far as driver's licenses, the governor wants to stop the suspension of the licenses when people fail to pay fines, or non-driving related crimes like not paying jail fees or not paying for their gas at the pumps.
Youth accused of crimes will no longer be eligible to be tried as adults at age 14, if Northam's legislation is passed, as the new age minimum would be 16. An interesting choice, due to the violence of crimes being committed by younger and younger suspects these days.
Additionally, the governor seeks to bring changes to the state's parole system, which is essentially nonexistent save for a few circumstances right now. If he gets the changes he seeks, an inmate's age will be a consideration, in hopes of keeping them out of jail. His plan is to solely punish offenders with parole when arrestees are 50-years-old and have already served 20 years in prison or are 55 years old and have already served 15.
It also retroactively allows parole to be considered for prisoners who were sentenced from 1995-2000 who are still behind bars, due to juries not being properly advised of the option of parole available during that time.
And let's not forget prisoners who are incapacitated or terminally ill. If they are ''deemed to not pose a threat to public safety,'' Governor Northam wants them to be released.
In the budget proposed, $4.6 million is set aside for pre-trial and probation services, funding for a new public defender's office in Prince William County, and more public defenders. There is also $2 million budgeted for pre-release and post-incarceration services.
Governor Northam's reasoning is:
''All Virginians deserve access to a fair and equitable criminal justice system.''That's a joke, right Governor?
All Virginians also deserve to know they're going to get justice when crimes are committed against them. And to know that offenders aren't going to just be slapped on the wrist and let back out to do the same thing all over again.
They deserve to have communities whose streets aren't littered with criminals walking past their children, all in the name of ''equality.''
Governor Northam said:
''My proposed criminal justice reform legislation and budget initiatives will combat mass incarceration, increase supports for returning citizens, and ensure meaningful second chances for those who have paid their debts to society. This is a bold step towards a more just and inclusive Commonwealth, and I look forward to working with the General Assembly to pass these measures into law.''Giving second chances is one thing. Following New York's footsteps with a ''get out of jail free card'' is a different story.
The Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Brian Moran, also made a statement regarding the proposal:
''This administration continues to demonstrate its dedication to comprehensive criminal justice reform. The impact of this legislative package is substantial and transformative.Our parole reform bills will make many more offenders eligible for discretionary parole and the elimination of driver's license suspensions for unpaid fees and fines and non-driving related offenses will affect hundreds of thousands of people.''''Substantial and transformative,'' indeed. Dangerously transformative.
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Unhoused
Finland ends homelessness and provides shelter for all in need
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 06:13
In Finland, the number of homeless people has fallen sharply. The reason: The country applies the ''Housing First'' concept. Those affected by homelessness receive a small apartment and counselling '' without any preconditions. 4 out of 5 people affected thus make their way back into a stable life. And: All this is cheaper than accepting homelessness.
Read this article in German here.
Finland is the only country in Europe where homelessness is in declineIn 2008 you could see tent villages and huts standing between trees in the parks of Helsinki. Homeless people had built makeshift homes in the middle of Finland's capital city. They were exposed to harsh weather conditions.
Since the 1980s, Finnish governments had been trying to reduce homelessness. Short-term shelters were built. However, long-term homeless people were still left out. There were too few emergency shelters and many affected people did not manage to get out of homelessness: They couldn't find jobs '' without a housing address. And without any job, they couldn't find a flat. It was a vicious circle. Furthermore, they had problems applying for social benefits. All in all, homeless people found themselves trapped.
But in 2008 the Finnish government introduced a new policy for the homeless: It started implementing the ''Housing First'' concept. Since then the number of people affected has fallen sharply.
Finland has set itself a target: Nobody should have to live on the streets '' every citizen should have a residence.
And the country is successful: It is the only EU-country where the number of homeless people is declining.
How everyone is given residence in FinlandIt is NGOs such as the ''Y-Foundation'' that provide housing for people in need. They take care of the construction themselves, buy flats on the private housing market and renovate existing flats. The apartments have one to two rooms. In addition to that, former emergency shelters have been converted into apartments in order to offer long-term housing.
''It was clear to everyone that the old system wasn't working; we needed radical change,'' says Juha Kaakinen, Director of the Y-Foundation.
Homeless people turn into tenants with a tenancy agreement. They also have to pay rent and operating costs. Social workers, who have offices in the residential buildings, help with financial issues such as applications for social benefits.
Juha Kaakinen is head of the Y-Foundation. The NGO receives discounted loans from the state to buy housing. Additionally, social workers caring for the homeless and future tenants are paid by the state. The Finnish lottery, on the other hand, supports the NGO when it buys apartments on the private housing market. The Y-Foundation also receives regular loans from banks. The NGO later uses the rental income to repay the loans.
''We had to get rid of the night shelters and short-term hostels we still had back then. They had a very long history in Finland, and everyone could see they were not getting people out of homelessness. We decided to reverse the assumptions.'' (Juha Kaakinen, Director of the Y-Foundation)
That's how the ''Housing First'' concept worksThe policy applied in Finland is called ''HousingFirst''. It reverses conventional homeless aid. More commonly, those affected are expected to look for a job and free themselves from their psychological problems or addictions. Only then they get help in finding accommodation.
''Housing First'', on the other hand, reverses the path: Homeless people get a flat '' without any preconditions. Social workers help them with applications for social benefits and are available for counselling in general. In such a new, secure situation, it is easier for those affected to find a job and take care of their physical and mental health.
The result is impressive: 4 out of 5 homeless people will be able to keep their flat for a long time with ''Housing First'' and lead a more stable life.
In the last 10 years, the ''Housing First'' programme provided 4,600 homes in Finland. In 2017 there were still about 1,900 people living on the streets '' but there were enough places for them in emergency shelters so that they at least didn't have to sleep outside anymore.
Providing people with apartments is cheaper than leaving them on the streetCreating housing for people costs money. In the past 10 years, 270 million euros were spent on the construction, purchase and renovation of housing as part of the ''Housing First'' programme. However, Juha Kaakinen points out, this is far less than the cost of homelessness itself. Because when people are in emergency situations, emergencies are more frequent: Assaults, injuries, breakdowns. The police, health care and justice systems are more often called upon to step in '' and this also costs money.In comparison, ''Housing First'' is cheaper than accepting homelessness: Now, the state spends 15,000 euros less per year per homeless person than before.
No miracle cure '' but a high success rateWith 4 out of 5 people keeping their flats, ''Housing First'' is effective in the long run. In 20 percent of the cases, people move out because they prefer to stay with friends or relatives '' or because they don't manage to pay the rent. But even in this case they are not dropped. They can apply again for an apartment and are supported again if they wish.
Of course, there is no guarantee for success. Especially homeless women are more difficult to reach: They conceal their emergency situation more often: They live on the streets less frequently and rather stay with friends or acquaintances.
In case of new publication, please cite this source/author: Kontrast.at/Kathrin Gl¶sel
Clips
VIDEO - Ilhan Omar Says Iran Tensions Are Triggering Her PTSD
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 07:18
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) said Wednesday that discussions about military tensions between Iran and the United States were triggering her post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I feel ill a little bit, because of everything that is taking place and I think every time I hear of conversations around war, I find myself being stricken with PTSD," Omar said during a press conference held by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "And I find peace knowing that I serve with great advocates for peace and people who have shown courage against war."
Omar has previously referenced her post-traumatic stress disorder to excuse a 2012 tweet that said Israel "hypnotized" the world, an anti-Semitic trope. "You know, I have PTSD around, like, guns and ammunition and bombs," she told the New Yorker, citing her childhood in war-torn Somalia.
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At other times Omar has used the term in a more joking manner, such as when she said the new Democratic House majority had "minority PTSD'.... The kind of mindset you develop when you are in the minority is one that really is traumatizing," she said.
Omar's PTSD did not appear to affect her behavior later in the Wednesday press conference. She was seen laughing and talking in the background as fellow representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Tex.) spoke about casualties during the Iraq war. "Absolutely disgusting," tweeted GOP rapid response director Steve Guest.
Absolutely disgusting.
Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar laughs and jokes around as her colleague Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee discusses U.S. casualties in Iraq. pic.twitter.com/5hfxbUnc3o
'-- Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) January 8, 2020
Alex is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2012. Before joining the Free Beacon, he was a writer for Mediaite and The Daily Caller. He is originally from Buffalo, New York, but regrettably now lives in Washington, D.C.
VIDEO - Russian missile strike eyed as one of many possible causes that led to plane crash in Iran: Ukraine | Fox News
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 07:17
A Ukrainian official said Thursday the country is considering a Russian missile strike as one of several possible causes for a Ukrainian passenger plane crash that happened shortly after the flight took off from Tehran's international airport early Wednesday morning.
"A strike by a missile, possibly a Tor missile system, is among the main (theories), as information has surfaced on the internet about elements of a missile being found near the site of the crash," Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's Security Council, told media in the country.
Ukraine is waiting for permission from Iran to look for missile debris at the crash site.
Iranian investigators on Thursday said the black boxes that belonged to the plane have been damaged and some parts of their memory were lost.
The crash of the Ukraine International Airlines flight that was bound for Kiev Wednesday raised concerns about Iran's transparency during the investigation. Iran blamed mechanical failure, but some have speculated that Tehran's earlier missile assault on Iraqi bases housing American troops played a role.
All 176 people on board the flight died.
The plane's black boxes were found amid the wreckage not far from Imam Khomeini International Airport but Iran is refusing to turn them over to Boeing or the National Transportation Safety Board.
IRAN REFUSES TO HAND OVER AIRLINER'S BLACK BOX: REPORT
"We will not give the black box to the manufacturer and the Americans,'' Ali Abedzadeh, the head of the Civil Aviation Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said, according to BBC News.
Investigators haven't given a reason for the crash that brought down the Boeing-737 but said the pilot was attempting to steer the plane back toward the airport just before the crash.
"The plane, which was initially headed west to leave the airport zone, turned right following a problem and was headed back to the airport at the moment of the crash,'' Abedzadeh said, according to BBC News.
The plane exploded on impact, potentially because it was loaded with fuel for the international flight.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sent investigators to assist and said, ''the priority for Ukraine is to identify the causes of the plane crash '... We will surely find out the truth.''
TRUMP SAYS IRAN 'APPEARS TO BE STANDING DOWN,' MISSILE STRIKES RESULTED IN NO CASUALTIES
So far, there is no evidence to suggest the plane was intentionally downed.
Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the NTSB, said considering an attack should be ''at the top of [investigators'] agenda,'' The New York Times reported.
Ukraine's Iranian embassy initially blamed mechanical issues but later removed their statement. They also initially ruled out terrorism or a rocket attack before backing off on that assessment.
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The Ukraine International Airlines flight was carrying 82 Iranians, at least 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians '' nine of which were crew members '' 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British citizens, according to Ukraine's foreign minister.
There has been some back and forth about the nationalities of the passengers likely because some had dual citizenship and Germany has claimed they're not aware of any German citizens who were on the plane.
Fox News' Danielle Wallace and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEO -
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 06:27
VIDEO - America's homeless crisis can be solved with a 'hand up,' not a handout, billionaire John Paul DeJoria says | Fox Business
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 06:00
The U.S. economy continues to grow, but in some cities, homelessness remains an issue.
More than half a million people in the United States are homeless on a given night, according to a September 2019 White House report, with just under 200,000 sleeping unsheltered on the streets. However, John Paul DeJoria, the billionaire who founded John Paul Mitchell Systems, believes he has an answer to the crisis.
DeJoria built a community called ''Mobile Loaves and Fishes'' that has constructed 250 small homes in the city of Austin, Texas, for those who have been sleeping on the streets for over a year, he said. Homeless people pay $90 per month for their small homes but are prohibited from drinking alcohol and fighting.
DeJoria told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo he is giving displaced people a "hand up" in order to feel special.
''If we give you something '-- just give it to you '-- we're giving you a handout [and] you don't feel special. If you contribute, we gave you a hand up,'' he said.
AMERICA'S HOMELESS CRISIS IS SPIRALING BUT COMPLETELY FIXABLE
DeJoria's program also affords the would-be homeless the opportunity to learn skills and earn money. It offers woodshop, auto shop, metal shop, crafts and gardening. This training allows them to earn an income and their gardens allow them to eat organically.
BILL DE BLASIO PINS NYC HOMELESS CRISIS ON WASHINGTON
''So they have an income, now they're able to pay that $90 a month rent, fill their part of the community '-- because we helped them work '-- and have extra money left over for other things,'' DeJoria said.
He noted that the project is working so well, they are embarking on "phase two," which involves the construction of an additional 400 homes. DeJoria is also working with the city of Austin on a new program to build housing units for about 300 people.
A point-in-time count conducted by the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition suggested that 2,255 individuals were homeless in Austin in January of 2019, a 5 percent increase from 2018.
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Programs intended simply to house the homeless both cost too much and are only ''Band-Aids,'' according to DeJoria, as they do not put the homeless back to work.
''There are so many jobs available right now that take minimal training, [but] that minimal training isn't available,'' he said.
Trade-based training like woodshop and auto shop are no longer in American schools, meaning that people who were once trained for jobs in those fields are no longer capable of working after graduating from high school. This has led to companies bringing in qualified workers from outside of the United States, DeJoria said.
He also attributed the crisis to taxation and over-regulation. While 25 years ago Austin had ''hippy-like'' people in the streets selling flowers and trinkets on the streets, now it has panhandlers, DeJoria said. Regulations and licensing laws require vendors to purchase permits to sell things on the streets and those without sufficient funds are deprived of work.
''What's happening is taxes and regulations are getting so high right now, it's kicking middle-class people out of a middle-class life,'' DeJoria said.
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VIDEO - Charmin's poop bot delivers toilet paper when you need it - YouTube
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 14:42
VIDEO - Truth from an Iranian - YouTube
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 13:22
VIDEO - MH-17: In Search of Truth - YouTube
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 10:32
VIDEO - Ukranian Whistleblower Reveals MH-17 Tragedy Was Orchestrated By Poroshenko And British Secret Service | Zero Hedge
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 10:31
Via The Duran, Submitted by InfoBrics, authored by Paul Antonopoulos, Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies,
Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH-17), that was shot down on July 17, 2014 in the Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine, killed all passengers onboard and was immediately blamed on pro-Russia Donbass volunteer militias fighting against henchmen of the Maidan civil unrest, the Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and the Ukrainian military. The blame was assigned against the Donbass militias with no investigation occurring and many questions remaining unanswered.
These questions were answered by Former Lieutenant Colonel Vasily Prozorov of the Ukrainian Security Services, who fled to Russia, in a damning new documentary titled ''MH-17: In Search Of Truth.''
The whistleblower in the 39-minute documentary completely delegitimizes the findings found by the Dutch investigators and world leaders by drawing on classified documents he attained through his own high-ranking position and those close to him, as well as eye witness accounts including from the Donbass volunteers.
The responsibility for investigating the tragedy was given to a Dutch-led joint investigation team with the Dutch Safety Board, who claimed that MH-17 was downed by the Donbass volunteers with a Buk surface-to-missile. Prozorov challenges this assertion and questioned why Malaysia, which owned MH-17, was pushed to the periphery of the investigation and priority was given to the Dutch side. This in itself is not damning and does not disprove that the Donbass volunteers were not responsible, but it does demonstrate that there is a clear agenda when a country with direct interest in this tragedy is cast aside.
Interestingly, the Dutch investigators completely disregarded declassified Russian Ministry of Defense information that the missile used to down MH-17 was sent to the Lviv region in Western Ukraine near the Polish border during the Soviet era, the opposite end of the country to Donbass. Prozorov was able to even reveal the serial number of the missile (8-8-6-8-7-2-0). This revelation is complemented by the fact that the Ukrainian military 156 Anti-Aircraft Regiment were operating in Donbass and had BUK vehicles in service in the region, as corroborated by two interviewees who served in the regiment, bringing into question why Dutch investigators ignored such critical information. This comes as it has now been proven, as explained in the documentary, that the alleged Russian Buk movement in Ukraine was faked, with a single still photo being used with a picture of a tractor, a trailer and a Buk vehicle being inserted into the picture.
However, the Ukrainian Security Service using the 156 Anti-Aircraft Regiment had not acted alone, and there were significant joint efforts with external states, primarily Britain, but also Australia. The documentary reveals that Ukrainian Major General Valery Kondratyuk and Lieutenant Colonel Vasily Burba, in which Prozorov knew the latter, was with two British secret service agents on June 22, 2014 in the battle zone some weeks before the MH-17 tragedy. Prozorov claims that Burba remained with the British agents in the region and plotted together with Ukrainian Security Services to bring down MH-17. As this was spearheaded by the British intelligence, there was no surprise that Englishman Elliot Higgins, a former lingerie retailer, who has not studied politics or journalism, had his obscure blogging elevated into the Bellingcat website, with monetary backing from George Soros' Open Society Foundation, just days before the tragedy. Higgins was promoted to such an extent that he began to closely collaborate with the Atlantic Council, which Edward Curtins describes as ''a think-tank with deep ties to the U.S. government, NATO, war manufacturers, and their allies, and the National Endowment for Democracy, another infamous U.S. front organization heavily involved in so-called color revolution regime change operations all around the world.'' Higgins has also spearheaded disinformation campaigns on chemical weapon allegations against the Syrian government.
The MH-17 tragedy also strangely involved Australia, according to Prozorov, with Australian intelligence agent Peter Kalver, likely belonging to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation if Prozorov's allegations are correct, having a British phone number beginning with +44 and ending with 575, despite operating in Ukraine and being Australian, in which the national phone code of his home country is +61.
With these revelations, Prozorov explains that ''we collected enough information and documents that allow us to draw a firm conclusion. The Boeing crash was a provocation that had been planned and realized by the Ukrainian top leadership and the Western intelligence agencies.''
Prozorov lists the main culprits in this tragedy:
Petr Poroshenko, the President of Ukraine at the time;
Alexander Turchinov, the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine;
Viktor Muzhenko, the chief of the General Staff;
Valentin Nalivaychenko, the Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine;
Vasiliy Gritsak, the Chief of the Anti-Terrorist Center;
Valeriy Kondratiuk, the Chief of the Counterintelligence Department of the Security Service;
Vasiliy Burba, the Security Service officer;
Lieutenant-Colonel Lyshchenko, the commander of the second division of 156 anti-aircraft regiment;
The British intelligence agents who supervised this covert operation.
It is highly recommended that the documentary is viewed as all the information, in which all of it is relevant, cannot be confined into a single article. The insights and information provided by Prozorov thoroughly examines and concludes that MH-17 flight downing was an aggressive action taken by Ukraine with the backing of foreign intelligence agencies, particularly British, to discredit the Donbass militias.
I would argue this was also done to legitimize a Western intervention in Ukraine. Just as Bellingcat's disinformation campaign against Syria has failed, Higgins and other peoples campaign to blame the Donbass volunteers for MH-17 tragedy is also crumbling apart.
VIDEO - Elizabeth Warren Explains Her Wealth Tax To Joy Behar On The View | Crooks and Liars
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 09:57
Elizabeth Warren was a guest on The View yesterday, and she made the case for her wealth tax after Joy Behar said her friends were afraid of her.
"While on the subject of paying taxes, I have to say I like you a lot. I want you to be successful," Behar said.
"You're smart and obviously energetic and everything else. But I have to tell you, anecdotally, I hear from people -- very wealthy and middle-class people are afraid of you because they think you'll tax the bejesus out of them and they don't like it. The people who would normally love you are afraid of you."
"Well, let's talk a little bit about my tax plan," Warren said.
"I think it's time for a wealth tax in America. This is a tax on the top one 10th of one percent, $50 million and above, your fortune. In other words, your first $50 million is free and clear, but on the 50 millionth and first dollar, you've got to pitch in two cents on every dollar after that."
"What about the middle class?" Behar said.
"No, that's not the middle class," Warren said. "I don't have plans to increase taxes on the middle class. I figured out how to do every plan I've got out there without increasing taxes on the middle class."
As to Joy's pals: Look, you already live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and so far, you're not living on the street in a cardboard box. But there are people who are living on the street in a cardboard box. There are people who can't afford lifesaving insulin. Kids are in crumbling schools with no supplies.
So excuse me if I'm not upset about whether you get to go on three vacations instead of your usual four. Some of us haven't had a vacation in years.
VIDEO - Stripteasing Musk launches Tesla SUV program in China - Reuters
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 08:52
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Elon Musk raised an online storm by dancing on stage at the launch of Tesla's (TSLA.O ) Model Y electric sports utility vehicle program on Tuesday in its new Shanghai factory, where the company delivered its first cars built outside the United States to the public.
The $2 billion Tesla Inc factory started delivering cars in just 357 days, a record for global automakers in China. The first 10 customers from the public received their China-made Model 3 sedans on Tuesday.
Billionaire CEO Musk danced enthusiastically on stage at the event, then stripped off his jacket and flung it aside to reveal a T-shirt with a cartoon of the factory. In a tweet, he labeled the video ''NSFW'' - not safe for work.
He predicted that ''ultimately Tesla Model Y will have more demand than probably all the other cars of Tesla combined'', with his voice cracking with emotion at times while talking about the progress of the Shanghai factory.
Musk's tweet of him dancing was viewed 2.5 million times and drew unflattering comparisons to famous Silicon Valley footage of Microsoft chiefs Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer dancing awkwardly at a 1990s Windows launch.
"Admit it Elon, you did it for the memes," one user tweeted here along with a picture of Musk stripping off his jacket. "I see you learned your dance moves at Dad school," said another.
''Just tryin to grow my follower count on pornhub '...,'' the billionaire, who has a history of being playful with his Twitter account, retorted.
Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk takes off his coat onstage during a delivery event for Tesla China-made Model 3 cars in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Aly SongThe ceremony was attended by Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong and other senior government officials.
Tesla executives, however, did not provide further details on the progress of the China-made Model Y project. A Tesla representative declined to comment further.
Tesla's shares, which have jumped about 10% since the beginning of this year, are trading close to their record high after the company beat Wall Street estimates for vehicle deliveries in its fourth quarter.
The positive news from the China factory have also caused a rally in shares of Tesla's Chinese suppliers. Shares of Tianjin Motor Dies Co Ltd (002510.SZ ) have surged about 28% so far in 2020, while VT Industrial Technology Co Ltd (300707.SZ ) is up nearly 6%.
Construction of Tesla's first plant outside the United States began in January 2019 and production started in October.
The factory started with a production capacity of 150,000 Model 3 sedans and Tesla aims to push that to 250,000 vehicles a year, including Model Y, in the plant's first phase.
Tesla unveiled its Model Y in March 2019 and said in October that production of the electric compact SUV at its Fremont facility was running ahead of schedule, adding at the time that it expects to launch the model by summer 2020.
It has said that margin expectations are higher for Model Y than Model 3, while production costs are roughly the same.
Slideshow (5 Images) Tesla's China website estimates the starting price for Model Y vehicles at 444,000 yuan ($63,911.56). It will announce the retail price later, the website says. The China-made Model 3 sedans are priced at 355,800 yuan before subsidies.
Shanghai Vice Mayor Wu Qing said he hoped to see Tesla extend its cooperation with the city and for the car maker to manufacture more models at its Chinese plant.
Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh, Additional Reporting by Akanksha Rana; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Jon Boyle and Maju Samuel
VIDEO -5mins Post Humorous Iran sends warning to US amid attack on US base in Iraq - YouTube
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 08:46
VIDEO-Plastic Bags and Fur Coats, New York Welcomes New Bans In 2020 | Voice of America - English
Wed, 08 Jan 2020 07:39
The start of a new year is the time for resolutions and promises, and New York state decided to welcome 2020 with a series of bans. The state governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed almost 700 initiatives ranging from helping immigrants to protecting pets. Nina Vishneva looked into what will be banned in the state in 2020 and how New Yorkers feel about it. Anna Rice narrates her story.
VIDEO-Ocasio-Cortez announces she's gotten a dog | TheHill
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 16:20
January 07, 2020 - 10:13 AM EST By Judy KurtzRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) seems to have taken some age-old advice: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."
The House freshman posted the "breaking news" about her newest furry family member on Instagram on Monday, telling the camera, "So we just did something big!"
The mocha-colored pup, which appears to be a French bulldog, doesn't have a name yet. But Ocasio-Cortez, who's soliciting suggestions for her canine companion's moniker, says she's "thinking something Star Trek related or Bronx/Queens/NYC/social good related."
Her office didn't get back to ITK about details of the lawmaker's four-legged friend, including where and when she got him.
Ocasio-Cortez, 30, hinted last year on Instagram about a possible tail-wagging addition.
"I've been wanting a doggo so bad," she said at the time. "We're allowed to have them in our congressional offices, and so many members/staffers bring them."
Ocasio-Cortez said in April that a dog would offer her some emotional support while she's on Capitol Hill.
"I think a doggo would provide lot of emotional benefits because work is very stressful sometimes (let's be real, most times) and I think the comfort a doggo provides would help even things out because they are so loving!" she told her more than 4 million followers.
VIDEO - County spending $100k on podcasts
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:42
VIDEO - Mornings with Maria | Fox Business
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:37
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VIDEO - A RoboCop, a park and a fight: How expectations about robots are clashing with reality
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:27
HUNTINGTON PARK, Calif. '-- When a fight broke out recently in the parking lot of Salt Lake Park, a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles, Cogo Guebara did what seemed the most practical thing at the time: she ran over to the park's police robot to push its emergency alert button.
''I was pushing the button but it said, 'step out of the way,''' Guebara said. ''It just kept ringing and ringing, and I kept pushing and pushing.''
She thought maybe the robot, which stands about 5 feet tall and has ''POLICE'' emblazoned on its egg-shaped body, wanted a visual of her face, so she crouched down for the camera. It still didn't work.
Without a response, Rudy Espericuta, who was with Guebara and her children at the time, dialed 911. About 15 minutes later, after the fight had ended, a woman was rolled out on a stretcher and into an ambulance, her head bleeding from a cut suffered during the altercation.
Amid the scene, the robot continued to glide along its pre-programmed route, humming an intergalactic tune that could have been ripped from any low-budget sci-fi film. The almost 400-pound robot followed the park's winding concrete from the basketball courts to the children's splash zone, pausing every so often to tell visitors to ''please keep the park clean.''
A group of people check out HP RoboCop in Salt Lake Park on Sept. 19, 2019. Jim Seida / NBC NewsThe robot, officially named HP RoboCop, has been patrolling Salt Lake Park for the Huntington Park Police Department since June. NBC News visited the park numerous times to observe its operation and its interactions with people.
While people are beginning to more commonly encounter robots in everyday life, they can often fall short of expectations '-- much as HP RoboCop did. That gap can be exploited as a way to make a robot more effective than it actually is, but also runs the risk of creating situations in which people rely on robots in ways they're unprepared for, as was the case for Guebara.
The robot's alert button is not yet connected to the police department, said Cosme Lozano, chief of police of Huntington Park, a city just southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The calls are instead directed to Knightscope, the company that creates and leases the robots.
''That's why we're not advertising those features,'' he said. ''It's a new program for us and were still developing some protocols'... to be able to fully adopt the program.''
On patrolHP RoboCop is one of more than 70 autonomous security robots developed by Knightscope. The Silicon Valley company says it has combined self-driving technology, robotics and artificial intelligence to create what it calls ''crime-fighting autonomous data machines.'' The robots are deployed across the U.S., serving everywhere from airports to gas stations.
Lozano said the department is facing some technical challenges incorporating the robot into the force, adding that it's on ''a trial basis for the city.'' Once fully connected, the calls will go directly to the department's dispatch center, he said.
A woman was waiting to pick up a friend at Salt Lake Park when she was got into a physical altercation with people in the car next to her. Jim Seida / NBC NewsHP RoboCop is a K5 model, specialized for outdoor use, and is one of the company's first to wear a police moniker. Knightscope's website promotes some of the K5's abilities as including a 360-degree high-definition live video stream, a license plate reader that can scan 1,200 plates a minute, a two-way intercom and the ability to track cell phone use in the vicinity.
But as it is currently used, HP RoboCop is little more than a glorified security camera on wheels. The robot's five cameras provide 24/7 live monitoring, with the ability to send footage directly to officers' phones, but that's currently only accessible to Knightscope. It's another feature that the police are working on activating, Lozano said.
The robot is confined to the park's cement path, which has been blocked by construction for a new aquatics center, curtailing its patrol of the north end of the park. Leasing the robot for a year costs the city between $60,000-$70,000, Lozano said. As of 2018, a Huntington Park police officer with a basic assignment makes an annual salary that falls in the same range.
Other Knightscope robots have not been without tribulations. One K5 robot patrolling around an office complex in Washington, D.C., ended up falling into a fountain. Another of the same model struck a toddler at a shopping mall in Silicon Valley.
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The city's official adopted name for the machine is HP RoboCop, but everyone in the park seems to have their own nicknames for it. ''R2D2,'' ''Spy Machine,'' and ''Wall-E'' are just some of the pet names that highlight the disconnect between people's expectations of the robot and the reality of its capabilities.
Orlando Enrique, 28, has worked at the concession stand in Salt Lake Park for nine years. He said people started acting differently when the robot began its patrol. Jim Seida / NBC NewsConcession stand worker Orlando Enrique said he's noticed a change in people's behavior since the robot's arrival. Just its presence seems to offer a sense of reassurance to many.
''A lot of people like it because they feel secure,'' he said. ''They can leave their kids.''
Enrique, 28, lives in Norwalk, California, and has worked at the snack bar for nine years. The store closes at 10:30 p.m. and now with the robot there, he feels more comfortable walking to his car after a shift.
People come from all over to see it, Enrique said, referring to the mini-tourist boom that HP RoboCop brought to the park. It is especially popular among kids.
On Labor Day, curious children trailed HP RoboCop as it patrolled. One little boy bumbled behind with a bag of Doritos in tow. He stared at the machine, doe-eyed, before lightly stroking its cylinder body '• until another boy asked, ''Why are you petting it like a dog?''
This anthropomorphizing of the robot is totally normal, said Ross Knepper, an associate professor in the department of computer science at Cornell University.
There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to these machines, and humans just don't have the right expectations to draw from, so they refer to ''Hollywood magic,'' he said. People recall what they've seen in movies and transfer those expectations onto the real thing.
''It's something the brain automatically tries to do,'' said Knepper, who is helping develop robots that can work with humans as peers rather than tools.
This can lead people to believe that a robot is much more capable and intelligent than it really is and can create a false sense of security, he said.
Violeta Alvaraz, who was visiting the park with her kids and mother, is from the neighboring township Bell, and learned about HP RoboCop through her son. His generation is more comfortable with that kind of technology, she said, commenting that to her it looked like a 1970s washing machine.
Though she said she appreciates the city's investment in their safety, Alvaraz still has plenty of questions.
''Are we going to get in trouble if we touch it?'' she asked. ''Who's guiding it? I don't know how it works. Should I still call 911?''
'Tipping' pointMost people in the park who spoke with NBC News were fond of HP RoboCop, usually attaching a ''he'' pronoun when speaking about it, but all admitted they did not know its full functionality.
Despite HP RoboCop's months-long tenure in the park, there is no signage describing what it does or why it is there. Lozano said that's because the department does not want to falsely advertise the robot, but the information will be posted when the machine's features are properly connected, he added.
Leveraging people's uncertainty about the robot is core to its value as a security tool, Knepper said.
The fact that the public is unaware of all of the robot's capabilities is integral to Knightscope robots' mission to be a physical deterrent to crime, confirmed Stacey Stephens, the company's executive vice president and chief client officer.
HP RoboCop patrols the park, but is confined to the concrete sidewalks. Jim Seida / NBC News''They could have any kind of grand thought about what the robot might be able to do, which could lead them to say, 'you know what, I'd rather not risk it. Let me go somewhere else,''' Stephens said.
Crime in the robot's patrol zone has gone down, Lozano said. Though that's hard to measure, the police have not had to contact Knightscope to review footage, except for the few times the robot itself was vandalized, he said. HP RoboCop has weathered a few minor personal assaults, including fielding a ''wheelie'' from a biker who purposefully rode into it. But the only significant damage was when the police first deployed the robot, Lozano said. Officers were able to track down the suspects of what he called the ''robot tipping incident,'' using HP RoboCop's own footage.
Still, the police took the assault personally, said Lozano. The children in the park aren't the only people who have developed something of an affinity for HP RoboCop. ''How could you go mess with our robot?'' Lozano said. ''You would think the robot was murdered. We kind of jumped on it like we would have a significant crime.''
Talk the talkEven if they are simple phrases, a robot's ability to talk can change how people feel about it, Knepper said. As soon as it speaks, people's expectations are dramatically altered.
''As researchers, we are very eager to employ all these new technologies, speech and acting in a socially competent way, but if we don't have this other side of setting expectations of awareness of how people will interpret these behaviors, we run the risk of actually making an interaction with the robot worse and not better,'' Knepper said.
Stephens prefers not to use the name HP RoboCop. He said it gives a false impression of the Knightscope's mission, which is to gather intelligence for law enforcement.
People ride past HP RoboCop in Salt Lake Park, Los Angeles on Sept. 19, 2019. Jim Seida / NBC News''I think what people have in their head when they hear RoboCop is something that is going to shoot everybody up and intervene in a crime and that's not what this is about,'' he said.
Stephens was referencing the titular RoboCop from a series of movies that began in the late 1980s, offering a futuristic vision of a human-machine crime fighter and an explanation for why expectations about robotics in policing can quickly surpass reality. The character remains a relevant pop culture figure, with a new RoboCop movie released in 2014 and another currently in development.
But HP RoboCop seems to elicit the opposite reaction '• consistently followed by an entourage of kids high-fiving or holding its can-shaped body like a fifth-grade dance partner. Although a company can't control how people project their imagination onto robots, said Knepper, it can encourage them to recall certain references through design.
Despite all of HP RoboCop's capabilities, both real and perceived, it does not have the capacity to explain itself. The city, however, has an obligation to educate the public about the technology it's using, Knepper said. This could also help the police achieve their goals of reducing crime.
''Once people really understand what's at stake, I think they will modify their behavior in much more predictable ways,'' he said.
CORRECTION (Oct. 11, 2019, 8:15 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the first name of a visitor to the park. She is Violeta Alvaraz, not Violete.
VIDEO - European Parliament Told 'There is No Climate Emergency!' - YouTube
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:17
VIDEO - What Caused the Wildfires in Australia? Amid Worst Blazes for a Decade, 24 People Are Charged With Arson
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:04
Police in Australia have arrested and charged two dozen people they say deliberately lit blazes during the wildfire season that has so far killed at least 18 people, destroyed thousands of homes and ravaged over 10 million acres of land.
New South Wales police said that since the beginning of November, 24 people have been charged over allegedly deliberately lighting fires as officers continue to investigate the role that arson has played in the devastation. Starting a wildfire can result in a jail sentence of up to 21 years.
"Investigations into the cause, origin and overall impact of fires are continuing and since the latest State of Emergency was declared...Strike Force Tronto has provided expertise to six police area commands and eight police districts," NSW police said in a statement.
"As inquiries continue, police are appealing to the community to provide footage and/or images from phones, dashcam, or other devices, that show any of the fires in their infancy, even if only from a distance."
Police in the state have also taken legal action against a further 159 people. Among them are 53 people who allegedly failed to comply with a total fire ban and 47 people who allegedly discarded a lit cigarette or match on land.
What Caused the Wildfires in Australia? There has been much debate about the links between climate change and the fires. Australian National University climate scientist Imran Ahmed told the BBC there was a direct link "because what climate change does is exacerbate the conditions in which the bushfires happen."
Glenda Wardle, an ecologist from the University of Sydney, told the BBC: "It's not every weather event that is the direct result of climate change. But when you see trends'...it becomes undeniably linked to global climate change."
Unseasonably high temperatures and drought over the last three months have contributed to the conditions that have allowed the fires to proliferate.
Residents defend a property from a bushfire at Hillsville near Taree, 350 kilometers north of Sydney on November 12, 2019. Two dozen people have been arrested on suspicion of starting fires during the wildfire season. PETER PARKS/Getty Images"One of the key drivers of fire intensity, fire spread rates and fire area is temperature. And in Australia we've just experienced record high temperatures," Mark Howden, director of the Climate Change Institute at Australian National University, told Reuters.
A report by the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said that last Spring, there was the highest fire weather danger with record high values right across the country.
"The dangerous fire weather conditions during spring 2019 is consistent with the increasingly severe fire weather seen in many areas of the country, owing to increasing temperatures and reduced cool season rainfall," the report said.
Meanwhile, dry lightning was to blame for sparking a number of fires in December in Victoria's East Gippsland region, according to Victoria Emergency, and the unusually hot weather has accelerated the flames.
Arson has been cited as making matters worse. In December, NSW Rural Fire Service Inspector Ben Shepherd told The Australian that most of the fires had been lit and the flames had been exacerbated by people flouting total fire bans.
"This kind of activity is dangerous and stupid'...and the real issue is the severity of the risk when the environment is so dry and windy, and conducive to fires spreading extraordinarily quickly," he said.
Firemen prepare as a bushfire approaches homes on the outskirts of the town of Bargo on December 21, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Debate centres around the link between cthe fires and climate change. David Gray/Getty ImagesThe wildfires are among the worst to hit Australia since the so-called Black Saturday fires in 2009 which killed 173 people, according to news.com.au. In 1974, 117 million hectares of land was burnt in wildfires in central Australia.
Meanwhile, police have also warned that those who exploit the devastation of the fire will face the full force of the law, as three people were charged over alleged looting in bushfire-affected areas on the South Coast.
In a press conference, NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said: "It's disgusting behavior. It's behavior we won't tolerate simply because the community will not tolerate it either. People's homes are their castles and particularly in these times of devastation it really does go against the grain of Australian people'...we will take action."
Newsweek has contacted New South Wales Police for further comment.
The impact on wildlife continues to be felt, with with the University of Sydney estimating that as many as half a billion mammals, birds and reptiles have perished.
The group Wildlife Rescue (WIRES) said that the flames have devastated numbers of koalas, possums, kangaroos and wallabies. "We have lost countless precious lives in these fires and many more are likely to die of their injuries and starvation. The fire affected areas are vast and remote.
"Our beautiful and diverse World Heritage listed National Parks which provide our native wildlife with their best protections have been devastated," Vickii Lett, WIRES NSW Koala coordinator told Newsweek in a statement.
VIDEO - BREAKING! What The Russia Hoax Really Covered-Up - YouTube
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:00
VIDEO-Wojciech Pawelczyk 🇵🇱🇺🇸 on Twitter: ""We will not be intimidated. We will not back down. We've seen war. We don't want war, but if you want a war with the United States of America, there is one thing I can promise you, so help me God
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 10:19
"We will not be intimidated. We will not back down. We've seen war. We don't want war, but if you want a war with the United States of America, there is one thing I can promise you, so help me God: someone else will raise your sons and daughters." - Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia
pic.twitter.com/2liRsjxrGd
VIDEO - "CASH CALL" LOANS RADIO COMMERCIAL - RADIO ADVERTISING CRITIQUE - YouTube
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 09:51
VIDEO - FBI investigating mysterious drones in 3 states
Tue, 07 Jan 2020 09:39
Lucerne, Colorado '-- The FBI, FAA and U.S. Air Force are investigating a mystery in the skies over Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. Swarms of drones have been spotted there '-- sometimes in formation. But who's flying them?
For the last week, Michelle Eckert has spotted a high-flying, night-time mystery above her rural northern Colorado home. She has seen drones, sometimes a dozen or more with wingspans 6 feet wide.
"The sky is lit up with Christmas lights basically," she told CBS News. "There's lights and things flying all over. It reminded me of something from a movie."
Sheriff's departments across the border area of three states have been flooded with at least 30 reports since mid-December.
(C) Provided by CBS News "I think whomever is responsible for it will probably have some answering to do to the general public," Sheriff Steve Reams of Weld County, Colorado, said.
On Monday, dozens of agencies met and established a task force with the FBI, FAA and the Air Force. But they're no closer to an answer. The military and local companies have denied responsibility.
CBS News waited with Eckert until the sun went down '-- and the skies lit up.
(C) Getty Images/iStockphoto Flying drone It was only dark for half an hour and drones could be seen all over the sky and appear as twinkling lights; sometimes just one, but other times there were clusters of six or more.
There are still more questions than answers and residents are feeling vulnerable.
"It feels like an invasion of privacy almost," Eckert explained.
Late Monday, one of the sheriff's offices announced they were looking for a closed box trailer with antennas or a large suspicious van. They asked anyone who has spotted it to call authorities.
VIDEO-The Mission is Great on Twitter: "Here is the Full Ricky Gervais monologue from tonight's Golden Globes #goldenglobes2020 https://t.co/N7n4Qsa7bw" / Twitter
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 18:44
Log in Sign up The Mission is Great @ missionisgreat Here is the Full Ricky Gervais monologue from tonight's Golden Globes
#goldenglobes2020 pic.twitter.com/N7n4Qsa7bw 6:03 PM - 5 Jan 2020 Twitter by: Benny @bennyjohnson The Mission is Great @ missionisgreat
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@missionisgreat @rickygervais @rickygervais RIPS the covers off of corruption in
#Hollywood, with a vengeance that even the most groomed celebrities cannot fend off.Watch their reactions between the brutality realistic, but really funny jokes.
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@vanvlietdesign @missionisgreat @rickygervais Their faces, superb.
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VIDEO - Al Qaeda Magazine Calls for Firebomb Campaign in US - ABC News
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 10:53
"Inspire" magazine publishes first issues since Awlaki, Khan deaths.
May 2, 2012, 7:51 PM
4 min read
May 2, 2012 — -- The men who launched al Qaeda's English-language magazine may have died in a U.S. missile strike last fall, but "Inspire" magazine lives on without them -- and continues to promote jihadi attacks on Western targets, offering detailed advice on how to start huge forest fires in America with timed explosives and how to build remote-controlled bombs.
Two new issues of "Inspire" magazine have surfaced on jihadi forums, the first since radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and chief Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula propagandist Samir Khan were killed by missiles from a U.S. drone over Yemen on September 30, 2011. The magazines eulogize Awlaki and Khan as the "spirit" and the "tongue" of "Inspire" respectively, but deny that their deaths will stop the magazine or jihad.
The second of the two issues seems to have been prepared after Khan and Awlaki's deaths. "To the disappointment of our enemies," says one of the articles, "issue 9 of Inspire magazine is out against all odds ... The Zionists and the Crusaders thought that the magazine was gone with the martyrdom of Shaykh Anwar and brother Samir. Yet again, they have failed to come to terms with the fact that the Muslim ummah is the most fertile and most generous mother that gives birth to thousands and thousands of the likes of Shaykh Anwar and brother Samir."
The ummah is apparently not giving birth to proofreaders, however, since both issues are riddled with typos, including one on the cover of issue nine, where a headline asks whether the West or al Qaeda is "Wining on the Ground." Issue eight, which includes the last editorial note from Samir Khan, also displays a help-wanted ad, asking for researchers and translators, "sisters' willing to write articles," and "people who can preserve permanent internet links for all of the magazine issues." Popular jihadi web forums have recently been plagued by unknown cyberhackers who have taken some of the sites offline for weeks at a time.
The magazines have also lost some of the snark and American colloquialisms favored by the U.S.-raised Samir Khan, who memorably titled one of his articles urging Western Muslims to wage lone wolf attacks "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom." But issue nine carries equally lethal advice, with "It Is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb," which gives detailed instructions on how to ignite an "ember bomb" in a U.S. forest, recommending Montana because of the rapid population growth in wooded areas.
"In America, there are more houses built in the [countryside] than in the cities," says the writer, who uses the pseudonym The AQ Chef. "It is difficult to choose a better place [than] in the valleys of Montana."
Issue eight has an eight-page article on how to construct remote-controlled explosives, with a laundry list of parts and ingredients and photos showing proper assembly.
In addition, issue eight provides tips on training with a handgun and issue nine provides advice on how to be an urban assassin.
But much of the magazine is taken up by lengthy tributes to Khan and Awlaki, with one writer confirming that Awlaki had survived a near miss from one drone strike before being taken out by a second. According to the article, after his close call, Awlaki said, "This time 11 missiles missed [their] target, but the next time the first rocket may hit it."
Awlaki's premonition "proved to be true," says the writer. "I wish I had been with them so I could have attained a great attainment."
Click Here for the Blotter Homepage.
VIDEO - How China Tracks Everyone | VICE on HBO - YouTube
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 08:53
VIDEO - SonicEnergy | Wireless Energy
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 08:40
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VIDEO - University Challenge - Christmas 2019, Episode 8 (Semifinal 1): Trinity Hall v Wadham College - YouTube
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 08:08
VIDEO-DC Basement >> 🍊🍠("You are cowards. Leave it.") on Twitter: "@adamcurry clip https://t.co/AHupquYgUA" / Twitter
Mon, 06 Jan 2020 07:21
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VIDEO-Dr. Marconaut PhDee on Twitter: "@dhookstead @prestonjbyrne Cc @adamcurry '-- you're probably already well aware but just in case" / Twitter
Sun, 05 Jan 2020 22:54
Ricky Gervais to celebrities at the Golden Globes: "You're in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world."Ends by telling award winners to "f**k off."Incredible video:
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VIDEO-Jason Campbell on Twitter: "On the possibility of an Iranian cyberattack, Fox's Pete Hegseth says "I just have visions of Iranians throwing computers at us" https://t.co/DExcmY3ZNu" / Twitter
Sun, 05 Jan 2020 15:28
At(C) @ tweeto_ergosum
Jan 4 As an Iranian I can confirm that from a very young age we've been trained by the IRGC, in the fine art of computer-throwing. Of course, as technology progressed, we started other fine arts like tablet-throwing, IPhone-throwing, and very recently, AirPod-throwing. Contact for info
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All Clips

FBI investigating mysterious drones over Colorado and more.mp3
fires in australia PBS [2013].mp3
Al Qaeda Magazine Calls for Firebomb Campaign in US [2012].mp3
Euronews - Prof Said Mirandi University of Teheran - with PRO Soleimani report.mp3
FAA flight ban over Gulf Area coincided with advance Missile Warning.mp3
Fox News Iran Missle report - Post-humourously.mp3
Gen Douglas McGregor - USA had advanced warning of missile targeting.m4a
Ilhan Omar Says Iran Tensions Are Triggering Her PTSD.mp3
Iran Conspiracy Theory including Quake Machine.m4a
ro khanna no attacks on iranian officials NDAA scrapped.mp3
Soeleimani vigil in London January 3d tweeted by Katie Hopkins.mp3
Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia - someone else will raise your sons and daughters.mp3
Truth from an Iranian [youtuber] Erica Kasraie with 3mm views.mp3
Ukraine backtracks on dismissing missile strike as possible cause of plane crash.mp3
colonel wilkerson on Iram final words DN.mp3
Delta Aitline versus Lands End uniforms.mp3
earthquake PR ABC CB.mp3
Facebooks dropping deep fakes SBC CB.mp3
Gervais best bit on HFPA with comeback.mp3
Gervais on accepting awards.mp3
Gervais on pedophiles and raism.mp3
hong kong update NBC.mp3
missiles ISO.mp3
National Tires ad.mp3
National Tires ISO.mp3
paddy Cheyefsky complaint on Academy awards ca 1976.mp3
Snowden has to go clip.mp3
TIK TOK Ban by Army ABC.mp3
TRUMP IRAN GAFFE One.mp3
TRUMP IRAN GAFFE Two.mp3
TRUMP taklk on Iran 4 gaffe one.mp3
TRUMP taklk on Iran 5 gaffe 2.mp3
TRUMP taklk on Iran four.mp3
TRUMP taklk on Iran ONE.mp3
TRUMP taklk on Iran Three.mp3
TRUMP taklk on Iran TWO.mp3
TRUMP taklk on WTF military spending.mp3
Ukrainian airliner crash ABC GMA.mp3
warren on Tapper sugesting Trump pulled a Clinton.mp3
Werner Herzog ethics and douchebags DW.mp3
wildfires OZ ABC CB.mp3
worldwide protests BBC feature.mp3
anti Boris rant before electgion SKY.mp3
colonel wilkerson on Iram and impeachment DN.mp3
Ricky Gervais warning to Hollywood execs - Ronan Farrow.mp3
See Something Say Something - Jingle.mp3
DHS shortens see something say something [see say].mp3
Automatic Marijuana Cultivator by LG at CES.m4a
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  • 0:00
    okay okay okay okay
  • 0:03
    Adam curry John C. Dvorak this is your
  • 0:08
    award-winning keep our nation media
  • 0:09
    assassination episode 1206 this is no
  • 0:13
    agenda star state in the morning
  • 0:24
    everybody
  • 0:24
    I'm Adam curry and from northerns to the
  • 0:27
    gun Valley where we're all shocked and
  • 0:28
    stunned by the fact a Justin Bieber is
  • 0:31
    fighting Lyme's disease fact I'm Jesse
  • 0:35
    Dvorak thank you for this important fact
  • 0:42
    I'm very glad we know this I've always
  • 0:46
    wondered about there's a lot of
  • 0:47
    celebrities who have Lyme's disease yeah
  • 0:51
    I wonder if that's uh I think they're
  • 0:53
    all tick covered well maybe it was what
  • 0:55
    we used to call going to the spa you
  • 0:59
    know what I mean
  • 1:00
    I have Lyme disease you won't see me for
  • 1:05
    a couple of months yeah don't you think
  • 1:07
    that's what right he's probably pregnant
  • 1:09
    I think that's what it used to be I'm
  • 1:12
    going to the spa for a little bit just
  • 1:15
    going to rejuvenate mm-hmm yeah well we
  • 1:20
    kept the amygdala small we sure did
  • 1:24
    nobody else seemed to do it well I got
  • 1:26
    to tell you man when when did those when
  • 1:30
    did the Iranian missile strikes happen
  • 1:33
    was that was that so Wednesday night
  • 1:37
    well do we did the show on Sunday right
  • 1:40
    I think was the next day well I wasn't
  • 1:44
    yesterday that would be Wednesday night
  • 1:46
    it was it was pretty incredible
  • 1:48
    the keeper she saw it on social media
  • 1:52
    I'm sure she's like oh my god
  • 1:56
    and I'd heard my phone gone and I kind
  • 2:02
    of ignored it and it was Agent Orange
  • 2:05
    who I think is in he may be in Kuwait or
  • 2:07
    I'm not sure he's always around sandy
  • 2:11
    areas and he was sending me you know
  • 2:13
    pictures in fact he was telling me stuff
  • 2:15
    and ten minutes later would show up on
  • 2:17
    on TV that's how short those lines are
  • 2:21
    from the sand yeah whatever's going on
  • 2:23
    there it's pretty quick it only takes 10
  • 2:26
    minutes or so and then it comes through
  • 2:27
    on US media but even I'll for a seconds
  • 2:32
    like holy crap this isn't is this the
  • 2:35
    playbook what's going on and then pretty
  • 2:38
    quickly got the message that the Nano
  • 2:43
    they well they didn't actually hit sand
  • 2:45
    outside of the base they did hit areas
  • 2:47
    inside the base but as we now know
  • 2:51
    it seems to be some kind of game Trump
  • 2:56
    tweets an American flag how many tweets
  • 2:58
    an Iranian flag one guy doing all of it
  • 3:03
    when the leaders of countries are
  • 3:05
    tweeting flags at each other you know
  • 3:07
    this is bullcrap that was a whole
  • 3:10
    premise it is really bullcrap but there
  • 3:14
    were a lot of extra little bits would
  • 3:15
    made which made it just incredibly
  • 3:17
    interesting so to reiterate our initial
  • 3:22
    analysis of the situation with soleimani
  • 3:25
    I think we even talked about once in
  • 3:29
    your soul amount or Khamenei was
  • 3:32
    tweeting back at Trump it was pretty
  • 3:34
    obvious that this was some kind of some
  • 3:37
    kind of well as everyone says now
  • 3:40
    face-saving mission but it wasn't just
  • 3:47
    face a or who knows exactly what went on
  • 3:49
    but there were a couple other things
  • 3:51
    that happened during this during this
  • 3:54
    evening which leads me to possibly
  • 3:56
    adjust the thinking of what exactly went
  • 3:59
    down was it just a bunch of missiles
  • 4:01
    that the showed up some with warheads
  • 4:03
    some not I'm not quite sure what
  • 4:05
    exploded what didn't you had pictures in
  • 4:07
    the newsletter of an unexploded drone
  • 4:09
    which we got a great analysis from one
  • 4:11
    of our producers as to what exactly it
  • 4:14
    was but if you look at everything that
  • 4:17
    happened you know there was uh let's see
  • 4:23
    shoot man I'm looking for the for the
  • 4:26
    best but we'll start with this one I did
  • 4:28
    speak to the FAA moments ago they said
  • 4:30
    three hours before that Boeing aircraft
  • 4:32
    went down they issued an indefinite ban
  • 4:36
    on all US carriers flying over Iran Iraq
  • 4:39
    the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman
  • 4:40
    translation those were the waters
  • 4:42
    between Iran and Saudi Arabia there was
  • 4:44
    a concern about the u.s. or any