1207: Imminent Threat

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 46m
January 12th, 2020
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Executive Producers: Anonymous, Sir A. J. Nonymous Knight of the O

Associate Executive Producers: Nathan Newberg, Sir Rosis, Dame Anonymous Goddess

Cover Artist: Net Ned

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Iran
Scientists worked at the Nuke plants
It’s coming out that the “Canadians” and a few Russians on
the Ukrainian plane shot down were primarily scientists and engineers working
in Iran nuke plants. (Their names and occupations are being published on the
web.)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/01/08/176-people-died-ukrainian-plane-crash-iran-here-are-some-their-stories/
Fearful those plants could be US drone targets, the
scientists decided to leave as a group (so none would be held hostage) until
the conflict was over.
Because they knew the plans and ops of the Iran nuke
programs (and knew of Obama Adm. Uranium1 sourcing of material?), they could be
debriefed. Iran told the scientists they would moved to safety, but warned they
would not be allowed to leave Iran. They did not listen.
Please keep my name private. I'm an intelligence analyst and
don't want any of my opinions to pop up later. 😁
Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 crash: The stories of those killed in Iran - The Washington Post
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 08:22
The fatal crash unfolded during a particularly tense time in the region: In a growing conflict with the United States, triggered by the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iran fired more than a dozen missiles targeting Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops four hours before the Ukraine International Airlines jet went down.
The victims include 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, in addition to nine Ukrainian crew members, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons, according to Ukraine's Foreign Ministry. More than 140 passengers were Iranian nationals, according to Iranian officials, suggesting that many possessed dual citizenship.
A list of names and birth dates shared by the airline capture the human scale of the loss. Some of the victims had barely begun their lives: Thirteen were younger than 10. Two were born in 2014, another in 2016 and one in 2018. Many victims shared the same last name, a sign they were probably traveling with family. Almost half of the passengers were born in 1990 or after.
As the extent of the tragedy continued to unfold, so did details about the lives of the victims. Some had been traveling; others had been living abroad and visiting loved ones. At least two couples were newlyweds.
Saeed Khademasadi Tahmasebi, a 35-year-old engineer and postgraduate researcher at Imperial College London, had recently married Niloofar Ebrahim, a psychology student in London: They both perished on the plane, his brother-in-law, Amir Vaheat, told the British newspaper the Times. The couple had married in Britain and then traveled to Iran for a wedding ceremony.
''They were a wonderful, beautiful couple and they were so happy together,'' Tahmasebi's sister, Sally, 41, told Britain's Telegraph newspaper. ''This is too terrible for words. We cannot believe what has happened.''
Imperial College London, one of Britain's top universities for science and engineering, paid tribute to Tahmasebi. ''Saeed was a brilliant engineer with a bright future,'' the university tweeted. ''His contributions to systems engineering earned respect from everyone who dealt with him and will benefit society for years to come. He was a warm, humble and generous colleague and close friend to many in our community.''
BP engineer and British national Sam Zokaei was also on the plane. He was 42 and had been working for the company for over a decade.
''We are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic loss of our friend and colleague and all of our thoughts are with his family and friends,'' the company said in a statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday.
Another British victim was identified by British media as 40-year-old Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda-Zadeh. The divorced father of a 9-year-old girl had traveled to visit family in Iran during the Christmas holiday break and was on his way back to Britain via Ukraine.
Kadkhoda-Zadeh ran a dry-cleaning business in the seaside town of Brighton and was fondly recalled by Stephen Edgington, who ran a business next door.
''It is so shocking and it is very upsetting for everyone who knew him,'' Edgington told the Times. ''He was a lovely man, very quiet and polite but a really nice guy '-- we got on very well indeed and it is a tragedy.''
Canadian officials say that there are at least 63 Canadians among the victims, according to preliminary reports, but noted that the number could change as more information becomes available. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement Wednesday expressing his shock and condolences.
''Our government will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that this crash is thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians' questions are answered,'' he said in the statement. ''Today, I assure all Canadians that their safety and security is our top priority. We also join with the other countries who are mourning the loss of citizens.''
The Ukrainian flight was popular among Iranians traveling to Canada because there haven't been direct flights between the two countries since 2012, when Canada broke off diplomatic relations. The route was also popular with Iranian nationals studying in Canada because they cannot catch connecting flights in the United States as a result of U.S. immigration policies, said Payman Parseyan, a member of the Iranian Canadian community in Edmonton.
Canada has a sizable Iranian diaspora that grew after the country's revolution in 1979. According to a 2016 census, more than 210,000 people in Canada are of Iranian descent.
The crash has ''devastated'' Edmonton's ''fairly tightknit'' Iranian community, said Parseyan, who is the former president of the city's Iranian Heritage Society. Iranians living in the city were closely watching coverage of the Iranian missile strikes in Iraq on Tuesday night when they learned there had been a plane crash. They quickly began piecing together whether they knew any of the victims on the Telegram messaging app.
''Initially, it was three names, and even with three names, we were getting goose bumps because they were our community members,'' Parseyan said. ''Then it went to 10, and we were in disbelief. As the night progressed, the number got to 27.''
The University of Alberta in Canada, near Edmonton, has confirmed that two married professors, as well as the couple's two daughters, were on the Ukrainian jet.
Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand were both professors of engineering and had been traveling with daughters Daria and Dorina, Masoud Ardakani, the associate chair of the university's electrical and computer engineering department, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Wednesday.
Parseyan said he knew seven of the crash victims quite well, including Mousavi.
''He was always laughing, always making fun of my political views,'' Parseyan said of Mousavi. ''He was a nice, enjoyable person to be around.''
Matthew Grant, director of media relations at the University of Waterloo in Canada, said the school will provide support to anyone there affected by the crash.
''We are aware of reports that Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, two University of Waterloo PhD students, were listed on the passenger manifest of flight PS752,'' Grant said in a statement. ''We continue to work with the relevant authorities to obtain more information.''
Foroutan, who is listed as a PhD student in geography on a University of Waterloo website, was researching how algorithms and technologies in remote sensing could be applied to study climate change. Esfahani is listed as a PhD student in civil engineering.
The Canadian victims also included Parisa Eghbalian, a dentist in Aurora, Ontario, a town outside Toronto, and her daughter Reera Esmaeilion. The pair had traveled to Iran to celebrate the engagement of Eghbalian's sister, Manijeh Ghotbi, one of her co-workers told The Post. Eghbalian's husband and Esmaeilion's father is Hamed Esmaeilion, a dentist and award-winning writer in Persian.
Eghbalian, who immigrated to Canada from Iran in 2010, was ''a very kind, nice and happy person,'' Ghotbi said. ''I will never, ever forget her laugh and smile.''
Reera, she added, had big green eyes and was ''beautiful inside and out.''
Alan Shepard, president of Western University in London, Ontario, said in a statement that four of its students '-- three graduate students and one incoming graduate student '-- are among the victims.
The University of Guelph confirmed that Milad Ghasemi Ariani, a PhD student in marketing, and Ghanimat Azhdari, a PhD student in geography, were among the victims. The two were returning from visiting Iran, said Franco Vaccarino, the university's president.
Azhdari belonged to a group called the ICCA Consortium, which advocates for indigenous people and their lands. The group said she was a member of the Qashqai tribe and described her in a statement as a ''true force of nature'' and one of its ''most cherished flowers.''
''They leave behind families and people they love and they come to Canada, and often they're second-guessing, 'Should I leave my family behind to do this?' '' Parseyan told Canada's Global News. ''Then they move here and they do all this, just to board a plane and have it all washed away.''
The Iranian Student News Agency also reported that a number of Iranian students were among the dead.
On social media, Iranians mourned the death of passengers Pouneh Gorji, born in 1994, and Arash Pourzarabi, born in 1993. The two had married six days earlier, according to local media accounts.
The couple were computer engineering students at Sharif University, an Iranian school on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf. The university listed them among at least 15 Sharif students and alumni who died in the crash.
As Iranians sought news of loved ones, one surreal tweet was making the rounds.
''I had predicted that night before my flight, the war would begin,'' Mojtaba Abbas Nejhad, who was on his winter break from the University of Toronto, tweeted on Tuesday. ''Guys, forgive any good and bad you experienced with me.''
Abbas Nejhad was on the Ukraine-bound plane.
Amanda Coletta reported from Toronto.
Correction: Because of inaccurate information provided by the University of Guelph, the article incorrectly reported that Hamed Alibeiki was killed in the Ukraine International Airlines crash. The article has been updated.
If the idea is to start a protest inside Iran then stop blaming a trump you idiots
Trump Posts Tweet in Farsi to Support Iranian Protestors
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 18:37
Zach Gibson/Getty Images
President Donald Trump, who banned Iranians from coming to the United States the month he assumed the presidency, tweeted out a statement of support for the nation's protestors today.
Trump sent out two tweets supporting ongoing reported protests in Iran following the government admitting it accidentally shot down a passenger plane and killed over 100 civilians.
Both of Trump's tweets had the same message but one was in Persian '' or Farsi '' the predominant language spoken in Iran.
''To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency,'' Trump claimed
To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2020
به مردم شجاع ٠رنج Ú(C)شیده ایران: من از ابتدای دÙره ریاØ"ت جمهÙریم با شما ایØ"تاده'ŒØ§Ù… ٠دÙÙت من همچنان با شما Ø®Ùاهد ایØ"تاد. ما اعتراضات شما را از نزدیÚ(C) دنبا٠می Ú(C)نیم. شجاعت شما اÙهام بخش اØ"ت.
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2020
Trump also pressed the Iranian government to allow human rights groups to monitor the situation on the ground.
The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people. There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching.
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2020
During his first month in office, Trump issued an executive order that soon became known as the ''travel ban'' '' which suspended travel from Muslim-majority countries like Iran and Iraq. It followed from Trump calling to ban Muslims from entering the United States during his presidential campaign.
The Trump administration later issued an updated order that bans all Iranian nationals from the United States, unless they are visiting on student visas or on cultural exchange visas. Trump is reportedly considering expanding the travel ban, according to The Associated Press.
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Iran's admission of guilt over plane crash sparks unrest in Tehran | World news | The Guardian
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 02:30
Iran's embattled regime was shaken by a wave of international condemnation and domestic criticism on Saturday night after admitting its forces shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane with 176 people on board and lied in a bid to cover up its role in the tragedy.
Facing possibly the biggest crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, senior clerical, political and military leaders scrambled to contain the fallout from what President Hassan Rouhani termed a ''disastrous mistake''.
But this latest crisis, coming close on the heels of Donald Trump's assassination of Gen Qassem Suleimani, military clashes with the US in Iraq and nationwide anti-government protests in which hundreds of people have died, appeared to force the regime on to the defensive.
On Saturday night the UK ambassador to Iran, Robert Macaire, was arrested during demonstrations in front of Amir Kabir University in Tehran for ''inciting'' protesters. The Iranian Tasnim news agency said he was released after a few hours.
Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, said: ''The arrest of our ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law.''
Donald Trump, who has said he does not seek ''regime change'' in Iran, expressed his support for the demonstrators, writing: ''We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.
''The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people. There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching.''
Iran's military released a statement via the official Irna news agency in the early hours of Saturday admitting the ''unforgivable mistake'' of shooting down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Wednesday.
The mea culpa came after three days of denials from officials in Tehran, who repeatedly dismissed western intelligence reports pointing to Iranian culpability as propaganda amid soaring tensions with the US.
In an unprecedented move, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered an investigation into the hitherto untouchable Islamic revolutionary guard corps (IRGC), whose base outside Tehran launched the missile that downed Flight 752.
A senior IRGC commander, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, confessed publicly that he knew the plane had been shot down almost immediately, and asked for forgiveness. His statement was broadcast on YouTube.
Gen Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC aerospace division, apologised to the nation on television and said the group took full responsibility, saying he wished ''I could die'' when he heard about the incident.
A missile operator acting alone because of a ''communications breakdown'' had mistaken the Boeing 737 for a cruise missile heading towards a sensitive IRGC site, and only had 10 seconds to decide whether to fire, he said. ''He was obliged to make contact and get verification. But apparently, his communications system had some disruptions. Either the 'jamming' system was the cause or the network was busy,'' he said.
After repeating in interviews the official line that no missiles had been fired in the timeframe that could have caused the crash, Iran's ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad, apologised, expressing ''regret for conveying such wrong findings''.
The regime's apologies and promises to punish the culprits did little to staunch a flood of anger. Iranians used social media to vent their fury at being misled, while foreign governments accused Tehran of criminal irresponsibility.
There is mounting anger that the retaliatory strikes launched by Iran on US military bases in Iraq were finely calibrated to ensure no US casualties, but scores of Iranian and Iranian-Canadian passengers were killed by their own forces. Videos posted on social media showed hundreds of people gathering to protest at several universities, where students shouted ''Khamenei is over'' and called his government ''shameless''. In a rare report on the civil unrest, the semi-official Fars news agency said that demonstrators had ripped up pictures of the slain commander Suleimani.
Internationally, Ukraine's government demanded justice for the victims, including compensation. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, tweeted his support for the Iranian people, who he said were ''fed up with the regime's lies, corruption, ineptitude, and brutality''.
Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said he was ''outraged and furious'' and said Iran ''must take full responsiblity'' for the ''horrific'' incident. Trudeau said that Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, had told him in a phone call that Iran was committed to collaborating with Canadian investigators and would work to de-escalate tensions in the region.
Apparently alarmed at the scale of the backlash, state television suggested the tragedy was being used by Iran's enemies to undermine it. But Britain was among several countries suggesting that the admission could pave the way for renewed dialogue.
Boris Johnson said it was an ''important first step'' that ''reinforces the importance of de-escalating tensions in the region.'' The prime minister also echoed his Ukrainian and Canadian counterparts in calling for a ''comprehensive, transparent and independent international investigation'' into the tragedy.
The aircraft was targeted by two surface-to-air missiles three minutes after taking off from an airport on the outskirts of Tehran. It took to the air a few hours after Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles at US targets in Iraq and the military were braced for possible reprisals.
The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, at least 57 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians and three Britons.
The Iranian strikes on Iraqi bases last week were in turn retaliation for the US drone strike that killed the al-Quds force leader, Suleimani, in Baghdad on 3 January '' the culmination of a recent series of tit-for-tat attacks that threatened to push Washington and Tehran into war.
Iran's admission was met with some relief by investigators and victims' families, who had initially feared the truth about what happened to the aircraft would be obstructed, as has been the case with the Malaysia Airlines flight downed in Ukraine six years ago.
However, explanations from Iranian officials so far have raised fresh questions about why and how the commercial flight was targeted, and why it took so long for Iran to take responsibility.
Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed the plane following its normal route and travelling at just over 500 kmh '' far slower than a cruise missile. Nine flights had left Tehran's Imam Khomeini international airport that morning before the Ukrainian airliner without encountering trouble.
Air crash experts have raised serious concerns since the accident over the handling of the crash site, including the removal of debris, sparking fears that Tehran has sought to eliminate evidence from the area.
Additional reporting by Leyland Cecco in Toronto.
Facebook 'thought police' censors pro-Iran posts 'to comply with US sanctions''... as Trump warns Tehran against censorship '-- RT USA News
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 02:50
Facebook has admitted to selectively censoring pro-Iranian government Instagram posts about the murdered General Soleimani, as US President Donald Trump hypocritically championed free speech and warned Tehran against censorship.
Instagram has confirmed that they have been removing posts that voice support for Qassem Soleimani, with a Facebook spokesperson claiming that censorship is fully justified in order to comply with US sanctions. Instagram is one of the few social media platforms that is not blocked in Iran, and it is where many within the country went to fuel outrage over the US assassination strike in Iraq last week.
This is especially disgusting because Instagram is very popular in Iran, where Soleimani has 82% approvalSo Big Tech overlords are basically saying Iranians do not get the right to free speech because of US gov sanctionsThe US empire trumps free speechhttps://t.co/BthPuxgOBC
'-- Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) January 11, 2020The International Federation of Journalists condemned the censorship effort as ''unprecedented in the history of social networks and in conflict with the very innate actuality of media.'' In its letter to Instagram, AoIJ Tehran noted that numerous Iranian state media accounts had been removed and 15 journalists had been censored recently, which goes against and freedom of speech principles.
''These massive Big Tech corporations are Thought Police for the US government: Facebook and Instagram are removing posts expressing support for Iran's top general Soleimani,'' journalist Ben Norton tweeted. ''They say it's to comply with US sanctions, but how do posts violate sanctions?''
Also on rt.com ISIS praises US murder of Iranian general Soleimani as 'divine intervention' that will help them rise again The US government designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization last year, in an unprecedented move against a sovereign nation's military. The IRGC's elite Quds Force, led by Soleimani, was among those forces that turned the tide against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists in Syria. But technically, since Washington considers him a terrorist, Facebook has a convenient excuse to sensor any posts critical of the US extrajudicial assassination strike.
Any support for Soleimani will be taken down by Facebook and Instagram to comply with the USA sanctions but Trump can tweet that Iran should not close down the internet because the world is watching. He wouldn't understand the irony of his tweet. Free speech, censorship anyone?
'-- Jennifer Brierley (@JenniferBrierl2) January 11, 2020While Facebook was acting as 'thought police' on behalf of the US government, Washington has been championing free speech and warning Tehran against restricting the Iranian people's internet access. US President Donald Trump personally addressed the anti-government protesters '' in Farsi, mind you '' reassuring them of his unwavering support.
Also on rt.com 'Your courage is inspiring!' Trump tweets in FARSI, backing Iranian protesters against Tehran govt Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
Iran: Journalists demand end to censorship of Iranian media on Instagram - IFJ
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 02:51
Following the assassination of a high-ranking officer of the Islamic Republic of Iran, posts by Iranian media on Instagram related to his killing, have been deleted by the company. The deleted content includes posts by Iranian media and individual users. The Association of Iranian Journalists in Tehran has written to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri urging the company stop the censorship of Iranian media.
In the days following the assassination of Iran's top general Qassem Soleimani, Instagram has deleted posts and blocked some Iranian users and Iranian media. Posts mentioning Soleimani, both in pictures and in text, have been removed. Individual journalists have also experienced censorship - at least fifteen journalists have reported their profile being suspended. Some profiles have been restored, but posts containing information about Soleimani were deleted permanently.
The measures have gone even further, and some accounts of Iranian newspapers and news agencies have now been removed from the social media platform. This poses an immediate threat to freedom of information in Iran, as Instagram is the only international social media platform currently still operating in the country.
Media outlets in Farsi, operating from abroad, and other foreign media have not been hit with these restrictive measures.
In its letter to Instagram the AoIJ Teheran dubbed the move as "unprecedented in the history of social networks and in conflict with the very innate actuality of media" and said the action goes "against global standard principles including freedom of speech and media and therefore demands immediate correction of such measures".
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "At a time when Iranian citizens need access to information it is unacceptable that Instagram should choose to censor Iranian media and individual journalists and users".
Iranian protesters in Tehran turn against regime after military admits shooting down plane | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 07:02
Iranians have gathered in the streets of Tehran to demand the resignation of Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei after the regime admitted it had mistakenly shot down a civilian passenger plane.
Angry crowds gathered on Saturday night in at least four locations in Tehran, chanting 'death to liars' and calling for the country's supreme leader to step down over the tragic military blunder, video from the scene shows.
What began as mournful vigils for Iranian lives lost on the flight soon turned to outrage and protest against the regime, and riot police quickly cracked down, firing tear gas into the crowd.
'Death to the Islamic Republic' protesters chanted, as the regime's security forces allegedly used ambulances to sneak heavily armed paramilitary police into the middle of crowds to disperse the demonstration.
Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 was carrying 176 people, at least 130 of them Iranian citizens, when it was shot down by hapless Iranian Revolutionary Guard air defense forces shortly after taking off from Tehran on January 8.
Iranians protest against the government after a vigil held for the victims of Flight 752 turned into an anti-government demonstrations outside Amirkabir University in Tehran, Iran
Protesters outside Amirkabir University in Tehran demanded the Ayatollah's resignation over the military disaster
Thousands gather outside Amir Kabir University on Saturday screaming 'Death to the Dictator'
Iranians shout slogans against the government in protests in Tehran Saturday night
Iran for days claimed that a technical failure caused the crash, before admitting on Saturday that its own surface-to-air missiles brought the plane down.
Iran was on high alert at the time, hours after launching ballistic missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq in a strike that caused no casualties. That missile strike was in retaliation for a U.S. operation that killed powerful Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
After Iran's admission, however, Canada's prime minister appeared to cast doubt on the claim that the shoot-down was an accident, suggesting there may have been an Iranian motive for the disaster. Many passengers were dual Canadian citizens.
On Saturday afternoon, candlelight vigils at universities in Tehran for the victims of Flight 752 began to turn to protests against the regime. Large protests were reported at the universities of Tehran, Sharif Industrial, Amir Kabir, and Allameh.
At Amirkabir University, protesters chanted 'Down with the dictator' and 'shame on IRGC [Revolutionary Guard], let the country go.'
At Sharif University, crowds of outraged Iranians chanted 'commander in chief, resign!' The Ayatollah is Iran's commander in chief.
'Our enemy is right here; they lie when they say it's the US' protesters were heard chanting in one video.
'I now believe the word of the Great Satan,' one protester wrote in Persian on Twitter, apparently referring to the U.S. intelligence reports that blamed Iran for shooting the plane down, which the regime furiously denied at first.
A picture is seen on Saturday next to candles lit by people and families of the victims of the crash of Flight 752
Riot police with shields and batons massed to disrupt the anti-government protests on Saturday night
The regime quickly cracked down on the protests with tear gas and water cannons
Screams were heard as regime forces fired tear gas at the protesters in a brutal crackdown after night fell
A woman gestures during a protest against the government outside Amirkabir University in Tehran, Iran on Saturday
Iranians shout slogans against the government after a vigil held for the victims of the airplane of Ukrainian International Airlines that crashed near Imam Khomeini Airport turned into an anti-government protest outside Amirkabir University
Protesters demanded that those responsible for shooting down the civilian plane be publicly tried and held accountable.
The crowd also condemned the Islamic Republic's paramilitary internal security force, chanting 'Death to Basij.'
As night fell, riot police attempted to break up the protests with tear gas.
Cops armed with shields and batons tried to disperse the crowds, and police fired water canons at protesters.
Anti-regime factions said that the protests reflected the frustrations of Iranian citizens with the government corruption and oppression.
'The protest by thousands of Iranians in Tehran burst the propaganda balloon of the regime regarding Qassem Soleimani's elimination,' said Shahin Gobadi, spokesman of the anti-regime group People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, in a statement to DailyMail.com.
Gobadi said that the protests 'showed the true sentiments of the Iranians and once again clearly proved that Iran is a powder keg and the Iranian people will not stop until the regime change.'
Iranians light candles and hang flowers for victims of Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 during a protest in front of the Amir Kabir University. What began as a vigil for the dead turned to anti-government protests
Iranians protest against the government outside Amirkabir University in Tehran, Iran on Saturday
People gather for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Ukraine plane crash, at the gate of Amri Kabir University that some of the victims of the crash were former students of, in Tehran, Iran on Saturday
At Amirkabir University, protesters chanted 'Down with the dictator' and 'shame on [Revolutionary Guard], let the country go'
Iranian Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, the Guards' aerospace commander, said on Saturday a surface-to-air missile operator had mistaken the Boeing 737 for a U.S. cruise missile responding to Iranian ballistic missile attacks, and only had ten seconds to decide whether or not to open fire.
'I wish I had died, and I wouldn't have seen such an incident,' Hajizadeh said somberly at a press conference. He claimed that a 'request had been made to clear the sky from civil flights at that time, but it did not happen due to reservations.'
For days, Iran vehemently denied that it was responsible for downing Flight 752 from Tehran to Kyiv on January 8, accusing the U.S. of spreading malicious propaganda and lies for suggesting such a scenario.
Hajizadeh claimed that the country's top military leaders were not initially aware that their own air defense system had shot the plan down, leading to confusion. Now the country has come clean, but still blames 'US adventurism' for the fatal 'error'.
'The delay in releasing information was not aimed at hiding the issue but it is the routine drill that the General Staff should study the case (first); and all information was collected on Friday morning after studies and what had happened became clear then,' Hajizadeh said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extended condolences to the families of those killed in the incident, and promised that those responsible would be prosecuted.
'The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake... My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences,' Rouhani said in a statement on Saturday.
'I wish I had died, and I wouldn't have seen such an incident,' said a somber Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, the Guards' aerospace commander, at a press conference. Iran admitted that it shot down Flight 752, thinking the plane was a missile
Ukraine International Airlines' Boeing 737-800 plane wreckage is seen in a picture from investigation team released today
Rescue workers at the crash site recovered the bodies of victims on Wednesday (above)
He said that 'the terrible catastrophe should be thoroughly investigated, and those responsible for this unforgivable mistake will definitely be identified and prosecuted'.
But the country's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said 'US adventurism' was to blame for Iran shooting down the plane, a week after an American drone killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
Zarif wrote: 'A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.
'Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.'
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei also offered condolences to the families, as he called for an investigation and ordered the military to address 'shortcomings' on Saturday morning.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cast doubt on Iran 's claim that it accidentally shot down the Ukrainian jet.
Trudeau said the shoot-down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 'is one of the issues that we certainly need better answers to,' during a news conference on Saturday.
'I am, of course, outraged and furious,' Trudeau said of the crash, adding that whether the tragedy was an accident or not still needs to be determined.
Iraqi PM Claims Trump Threatened False Flag Attacks on Protesters if He Didn't Accept Oil Deal '' Summit News
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 09:55
World at War Suggests Soleimani was not a terrorist.
Time Magazine offered a handy guide on how parents can brainwash their kids on Iran by disputing the fact that Qasem Soleimani was a terrorist.
The guide, entitled 'How to Talk to Your Kids About the Situation With Iran', promises to ''arm you with the information you need if you choose to bring up the topic or if kids ask questions about it.''
That ''information'' consists of watering down the fact that Soleimani had overseen atrocities that led to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian citizens as well as the slaughter of over 600 U.S. troops.
Trump has called Soleimani a terrorist. '... Trump says Soleimani ordered [recent] attacks.
U.S. military leaders gave Trump several choices for how to respond to Iran's actions. Killing Soleimani was considered the most extreme. Some top U.S. military and government officials have expressed surprise and concern about Trump's decision.
Note how Time says, ''Trump has called Soleimani a terrorist,'' to subtly dispute the fact he was a terrorist, despite Soleimani being sanctioned and designated as a terrorist supporter by the U.S. back in 2007, more than nine years before Trump took office.
Also note how the article reads not so much as a guide on how parents can talk to their kids, but as a propaganda piece directed at adult readers who Time thinks have the mental capacity of children.
''Here's my own handy guide on how to talk to your kids about Time Magazine'...,'' comments the Moonbattery blog.
''Tell them it is run by moonbats, who will side with any enemy against their own country, including terrorist maniacs who want to kill them. Tell them that like the rest of the liberal media, it consists of pernicious spin and vicious lies.''
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World at War Photos ''show obvious projectile holes in the fuselage and a wing section.''
Experts say that the Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed in Tehran early this morning was likely shot down.
The aircraft plunged out of the sky shortly after take off, killing all 167 passengers and nine crew. The majority of passengers were from Iran and Canada.
The timing of the crash, coming just hours after Iran fired missiles towards U.S. bases in Iraq, immediately prompted speculation that the plane had been accidentally shot down.
That premise is shared by experts from the OPS group, an aviation risk monitoring organization, who noted that pictures of the plane debris show holes in the plane's fuselage and wing.
''We would recommend the starting assumption to be that this was a shootdown event, similar to MH17 '' until there is clear evidence to the contrary,'' said the group in a statement, adding that the photos ''show obvious projectile holes in the fuselage and a wing section.''
This looks like shrapnel damage on the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, which went down near Tehran tonight. Pictures 2 and 3 show shrapnel damage on MH17, shot down by an SA-11 Buk surface-to-air missile in 2014. (via @Kaitain_AZ ) pic.twitter.com/z5J5ZIf0Rm
'-- Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 8, 2020
Iranian officials claimed that the pilots lost control of the plane after a fire in one of the aircraft's engines, an explanation that has largely been echoed by the mainstream media without question.
''Doesn't it seem far more likely that a misfiring of Iran's defense system might have brought down the plane?'' asks Zero Hedge.
As we reported earlier, Iran has refused to hand over black box data which could determine precisely what happened.
According to the company, the Boeing 737-800 was was of their best planes in the fleet, was ''in excellent condition'' and had undergone scheduled maintenance just two days before the crash.
All evidence, including video, points to PS752 being shot down by a surface-to-air missile, burning up in mid air and falling to the ground. There's extensive damage on the plane that could've only been caused by shrapnel from a mid-air detonation. pic.twitter.com/TpsfUeM0u8
'-- Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 8, 2020
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World at War Proving that the attack was merely to save face.
Iraq says that it was warned by Iran about last night's missile attack and that this warning was passed on to the U.S., suggesting that the attack was merely a face saving effort by Tehran.
''Iraq's prime minister's office said on Wednesday it had received ''an official verbal message'' from Iran informing it that a missile attack on US forces stationed on Iraqi soil was imminent,'' reported Pakistan's Dawn News.
According to war correspondent Elijah J. Magnier, Iran told Iraq that it would only target areas of bases under U.S. control.
''Abdel Mahdi warned the Americans who took their precautions before the attack,'' commented Magnier.
#Iran told #Iraq PM Adel Abdil Mahdi it will bomb only the part of the bases under #US control, which it did.
The bombing left no Iraqi casualties.
'-- Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) January 8, 2020
''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,'' another Middle Eastern journalist tweeted. ''That's why the USA emptied its bases hours before the attacks. Zero casualties.''
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 why the USA emptied its bases hours before the attacks. Zero casualties.'' pic.twitter.com/rAQj9lLAOY
'-- Imam of Peace / Pray for Peace'... (@Imamofpeace) January 8, 2020
''Iran warned Iraq by telling them exactly where they'd attack before they fired any missiles last night,'' commented Robby Starbuck. ''They knew Iraq would in turn warn the United States. The attack was strictly for propaganda purposes. Reality: Iran backed down after the US killed the most evil man in Iran.''
Iran warned Iraq by telling them exactly where they'd attack before they fired any missiles last night. They knew Iraq would in turn warn the United States.
The attack was strictly for propaganda purposes.
Reality: Iran backed down after the US killed the most evil man in Iran.
'-- Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) January 8, 2020
Earlier during his address to the nation, President Trump called for Iran and the U.S. to work together to defeat ISIS and said the U.S. was ready to ''embrace peace.''
Iran's attack, which caused zero casualties, was clearly a face saving effort and an attempt to avoid escalation.
Now Trump has sent a powerful deterrence message by killing Qassem Soleiman, safe in the knowledge that Iran will do little in return.
People on both the left and the anti-Trump right having hysterical panic attacks over ''World War 3'' have been embarrassed yet again.
Al Asad Runway looks completely undamaged and therefore operational
Missiles accurately hit aircraft hangers https://t.co/ueLIIaghmH
'-- M¬cha¨l D¨ La Broć (@MDeLaBroc1) January 8, 2020
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Former California grid director says the state's power system is ready to take on any hacks from Iran - The San Diego Union-Tribune
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 09:32
The electrical grid may likely represent a prime target after Iran has vowed ''crushing revenge'' on the United States following a drone strike that killed its top general, Qassem Soleimani.
But the former director of the organization that oversees the power system for the bulk California says he's not overly worried about a major disruption.
''We spend a lot of time, money and energy to harden the system so this doesn't happen,'' said Jim McIntosh, who was director of grid operations from 2000 to 2009 at the California Independent System Operator. ''And the system is broken up into a lot of pieces. We can isolate areas very readily and keep control of the system. So it's a very difficult task to take the grid down '-- very difficult.''
Based in Folsom, the California ISO manages the flow of electricity across the high-voltage and long-distance power lines that make up 80 percent of California's grid, as well as a small part of Nevada's power system. The ISO not only balances the flow of electricity in the state but also makes power purchases to match demand and avoid power outages.
''I would say we are adequately protected against anything Iran has done in the past and could do at this point,'' said McIntosh, who spent 13 years at the ISO. ''They have proven over time that they can't break through the firewalls'' put in place to protect the system.
Critical infrastructure such as the power grid has come under more intense focus since tensions between the U.S. and Iran have escalated.
On Saturday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an updated threat bulletin that warned ''Iran maintains a robust cyber program'' and ''is capable, at a minimum, of carrying out attacks with temporary disruptive effects against critical infrastructure in the United States.''
But attempts to disrupt California's power grid are not new.
Last summer, the manager in charge of ensuring the state's power system remains safe from cyberattacks told the Union-Tribune the ISO fends off ''several millions'' of hacking attempts each month.
The control room of the California Independent System Operator in Folsom.
(Photo from California ISO)
Spokeswoman Vonette Fontaine said in a statement the California ISO's systems ''have not experienced any major cyber incidents'' since the Iranian government promised to retaliate and the ISO coordinates ''diligently and proactively with federal and state law enforcement agencies to stay in front of potential issues.''
Fontaine would not say whether the ISO has stepped up its efforts in recent days to prevent any potential attacks on its information technology systems or physical assets.
Similarly, a spokeswoman for San Diego Gas & Electric did not go into specifics.
''We are aware of the recent events involving Iran and the heightened concerns of a cybersecurity threat,'' said SDG&E communications manager Sara Prince in an email. ''Our cyber and physical security operations teams are in routine contact with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to stay informed about the latest potential threats and respond quickly to evolving situations.''
McIntosh said unless a specific threat shows up, ''I don't think (the state's investor-owned utilities) would be doing much more than they always do ... They have a large group of folks that watch this stuff on a daily basis and would be able to protect their systems. (Southern California) Edison, San Diego (Gas & Electric) and (Pacific Gas & Electric) each have staffs that do this for a living, all the time.''
At the same time, McIntosh recalled how the ISO had to interrupt electrical loads 13 times during the California energy crisis in 2000 and 2001 that led to rolling blackouts across the state.
''One of the things that people realized real quick was that if you don't have energy, things go downhill rapidly,'' McIntosh said in a telephone interview. ''So if anybody would go and successfully knock out the grid, it would create havoc for California.''
in 2013, snipers opened fire at a PG&E substation in San Jose and knocked out 17 transformers that supplied electricity to the Silicon Valley. Grid officials avoided a blackout by rerouting power but as the Wall Street Journal reported, it took 27 days to make the necessary repairs to bring the substation back online. No arrests have every been made.
McIntosh said utilities have increased security at physical sites since then.
''They used to concentrate on 'inside the fence' and now they actually look out and have the same type of ground detection movement (technology) that (the government has) put on the border, so that anybody approaching is detected and alarms go off,'' McIntosh said. ''They've spent millions and millions of dollars.''
Nationally, the energy sector has become a prime target for cyberattacks in the past decade, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Energy detailing its multiyear security plans.
Energy infrastructure and sites experienced more cyber incidents than any other sector between 2013 and 2015, accounting for 35 percent of the 796 incidents reported by sectors accounting for critical infrastructure, according to the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team at the Department of Homeland Security.
Attempts to penetrate the U.S. grid have been attributed to Russia and China, and hackers from Iran also targeted at least one an American billionaire who is politically active.
In October 2013, casino magnate and conservative political donor Sheldon Adelson said while appearing on a panel in New York that the U.S. could counter Iran's nuclear ambitions by exploding a warhead in a deserted area of the country.
The comments enraged Iran's Supreme Leader and four months later, hackers disabled the IT systems of one of Adelson's casinos in Las Vegas and caused $40 million in damages. U.S. intelligence officials traced the attack to Iran.
"I'd Like To See Them Call Me": How Trump Used An Encrypted Swiss Fax Machine To Defuse The Iran Crisis | Zero Hedge
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 10:07
Even as Trump was rage-tweeting on Jan 4, two days after the killing of Iran's top military leader Qassem Soleimani, that he would hit 52 targets including Iranian heritage sites for potential retaliation if America suffered losses following an Iranian attack, warning that "those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD", the US president was busy, secretly using an encrypted back-channel to bring the world back from the brink of war.
As the WSJ reports, just hours after the U.S. strike which killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Trump administration sent an urgent back channel message to Tehran: "Don't escalate." The encrypted fax message was sent via the Swiss Embassy in Iran, one of the few means of direct, confidential communication between the two sides, U.S. officials told the WSJ. Then, in frantic attempts to de-escalate even as top US and Iranian leaders were stirring patriotic sentiment and nationalistic fervor, the White House and Iranian leaders exchanged further messages in the days that followed, which officials in both countries described as far more measured than the fiery rhetoric traded publicly by politicians.
The Swiss ambassador to Iran, Markus Leitner, here with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2017, helped shuttle messages between the U.S. and Iran. Photo: Swiss embassy.It worked: a week later, and after a retaliatory, if highly theatrical, Iranian missile attack on two military bases hosting American troops that purposefully inflicted no casualties, Washington and Tehran have stepped back from the brink of open hostilities (for now).
"We don't communicate with the Iranians that much, but when we do the Swiss have played a critical role to convey messages and avoid miscalculation," a senior U.S. official said.
While a spokesman at Iran's mission to the United Nations declined to comment on the exchanges, he said "we appreciate [the Swiss] for any efforts they make to provide an efficient channel to exchange letters when and if necessary." Another Iranian official said the back channel provided a welcome bridge, when all others had been burned: "In the desert, even a drop of water matters."
In retrospect, it should hardly be a surprise that the perpetually neutral Swiss were the last recourse to prevent potential war.
As the WSJ notes, from the Swiss Embassy, a Shah-era mansion overlooking Tehran, the country's role as a diplomatic intermediary has stretched through four turbulent decades and seven presidencies, from the hostage crisis under Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama's nuclear deal. But it was seldom tested like this.
Here's how it happened.
The first American fax was sent immediately after Washington confirmed the death of Soleimani, the most important figure in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the U.S. officials said. It arrived on a special encrypted fax machine in a sealed room of the Swiss mission - the most enduring, and secret, method since the 1979 Islamic Revolution - for the White House to exchange messages with Iran's top leadership, especially when the two nations are concurrently parading in public media in their bellicose propaganda to earn political brownie points.
The equipment operates on a secure Swiss government network linking its Tehran embassy to the Foreign Ministry in Bern and its embassy in Washington, say Swiss diplomats. Only the most senior officials have the key cards needed to use the equipment.
Early on Friday morning, just hours after Soleimani's death, Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner, a 53-year-old career diplomat, delivered the American message by hand to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Predictably, Zarif responded to the U.S. missive with anger, according to a WSJ source: "[U.S. Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo is a bully,'' he said, according to one U.S. official briefed on Zarif's response. ''The U.S. is the cause of all the problems."
The US may indeed be the cause of all the problems, but it also has all the weapons, and despite the pompous rhetoric, Iran knew full well it could not hope to escalte in tit-for-tat fashion without risking virtually everything. Which is why, Iran was quick to take advantage of Leitner's mediation.
The Swiss ambassador - who regularly visits Washington for closed-door sessions with Pentagon, State Department and intelligence officials eager to tap his knowledge about Iran's opaque and fluid politics - spent the next several days after Soleimani's killing shuttling back and forth in a low-key but high-wire diplomatic mission designed to let each side speak candidly. It was a vivid contrast to the jabs of President Trump and Mr. Zarif on Twitter.
Shortly after Trump tweeted on Jan 4 that the US had picked 52 Iranian targets for eventual escalation, Zarif responded just as belligerently on the next day: "A reminder to those hallucinating about emulating ISIS war crimes by targeting our cultural heritage," he wrote. "Through MILLENNIA of history, barbarians have come and ravaged our cities, razed our monuments and burnt our libraries. Where are they now? We're still here, & standing tall."
However, at the same time as Zarif was seeking to emulate Trump's twitter bluster, the Iranian foreign minister called the Swiss ambassador to take a message to the U.S. It was more restrained, and subsequent statements from both sides helped prevent miscalculations, the officials said.
''When tensions with Iran were high, the Swiss played a useful and reliable role that both sides appreciated,'' said a senior Trump administration official. "Their system is like a light that never turns off." Unlike Twitter, that is, which has emerged a medium for spreading premeditated, fake, outrage to mass consumption and whose sole purpose is to distract from what is truly happening behind the scenes.
It's not the first time the Swiss have helped pull back the middle east from the brink of mushroom clouds: they have served as messengers between Washington and Tehran since 1980, in the wake of the seizure of the American Embassy'--and 52 hostages '--in Tehran by Iranian revolutionaries. Swiss diplomats call the role the ''brieftrager'' or ''the postman.''
In the years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Swiss shepherded messages to help avoid direct clashes. When President Obama assumed office, Switzerland hosted the talks that led to a nuclear deal. When Washington lifted sanctions, Swiss businesses had an early jump on rivals. When Trump reimposed sanctions, he gave the Swiss a phone number to pass the Iranians, saying: ''I'd like to see them call me.''
So far, Tehran has continued to speak through the Swiss.
* * *
Why has this archaic method of communication proven so effective at pulling the world back from the edge of crisis?
Former Swiss ambassadors say the diplomatic channel is effective because the U.S. and Iran can trust a message will remain confidential, be delivered quickly, and will reach only its intended recipients. Statements passed on the back channel are always precisely phrased, diplomatic, and free of emotion, something which is clearly impossible on Trump's favorite social media platform, twitter, which he uses for precisely the opposite purpose: to spark outrage and to appeal to base emotions of his core supporter group.
Switzerland, a landlocked country of nine million with no standing army where everyone owns a gun, parlays its role as the world's neutral "postman" (and until recently, secret banker) to lever access to the great powers.
And speaking of Swiss bank, the WSJ notes that currently Swiss diplomats are working to get Washington's green light for Swiss banks to finance exports to Iran that aren't subject to sanctions'--like food and medicine. "We do things for the world community, and it's good," said a former ambassador. ''But it is also good for our interests." Of course it is: for the privilege of funding the most basic human needs, those same Swiss banks can charge exorbitant rates of interest in a country that for years has had a negative official interest rate.
Iran isn't the only geopolitical hot spot where the Swiss Embassy represents U.S. or other countries' interests after the breakdown of diplomatic relations: the Swiss now holds six mandates including representing Iran in Saudi Arabia, Georgia in Russia and Turkey in Libya and the U.S. in Cuba according to the WSJ. In April 2019, the Trump administration asked Bern to represent it in Venezuela but President Nicols Maduro's government has yet to approve.
And so, if the world has any hope of avoiding an all out war between US and Iran, it will have to go through Bern, at least figuratively. As tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated, the Swiss backchannel has remained active. In December the two countries released prisoners at the same time at a special hangar in the Zurich airport - U.S. special envoy on Iran Brian Hook and Iran's Zarif sat in separate rooms as the Swiss directed the carefully choreographed exchange.
"The Swiss channel has become enormously important because of what they can do in the short term to lessen tensions,'' said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who worked with the Swiss on the prisoner exchange. ''It's the only viable channel right now."
British ambassador arrested at Tehran demonstration | World news | The Guardian
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 02:30
UK foreign secretary calls action against Robert Macaire a 'flagrant violation' of international law
Iranian demonstrators show their sympathy with the plane crash victims outside the Amir Kabir University on Saturday.Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPADominic Raab has warned Iran it risks becoming an international ''pariah'' after the British ambassador was arrested during anti-government protests in Tehran.
The foreign secretary said the detention of Rob Macaire, without any grounds or explanation, was a ''flagrant violation'' of international law. He said Tehran was at a crossroads, with the prospect of continuing political and economic isolation unless it engages diplomatically with the west.
Macaire was said to be ''safe and well'' in the British embassy after he was released after more than an hour in custody. His arrest came as a wave of anti-government demonstrations broke out across the country following the admission Iranian forces had accidentally brought down a Ukrainian airliner killing all 176 people on board.
It is understood that the ambassador had been attending what had been billed as a vigil for the victims of the crash at the Amir Kabir University. However the event quickly turned into an anti-government protest at which point he was said to have left.
UK/US troop numbers in the Middle EastAccording to Iran's Tasnim news agency, as he tried to make his way back to the embassy he was one of the people arrested outside the university on suspicion of organising, provoking and directing radical actions. It is unclear who he was arrested by.
In a statement, Raab said: ''The arrest of our ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law.
''The Iranian government is at a crossroads moment. It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to de-escalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.''
The incident threatened to reignite tensions in the region just as they appeared to be easing.
Raab's intervention came after the Iranians admitted they had brought down the Ukrainian Airlines flight 752 shortly after takeoff, killing all 176 people on board, in a ''disastrous mistake''.
The crash happened hours after Iran launched a series of ballistic missile strikes on US bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of its top commander, Gen Qassem Suleimani, by an American drone.
The missile strikes failed to cause any casualties and the US president, Donald Trump, indicated he would respond by tightening sanctions rather than with further military action.
Jet Crash in Iran Has Eerie Historical Parallel - The New York Times
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 02:44
Middle East | Jet Crash in Iran Has Eerie Historical ParallelThe United States accidentally downed an Iranian passenger jet in 1988, killing all 290 people aboard, amid a battle with Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf.
Mourners carried coffins through the streets of Tehran during a mass funeral for the victims aboard Iran Air Flight 655, which was shot down by the U.S.S. Vincennes in the Persian Gulf in 1988. Credit... Canadian Press, via Associated Press The timing of the jet crash near Tehran on Wednesday '-- coming just hours after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi military bases housing American troops '-- immediately led to suspicion that the plane had been downed by a missile.
Those suspicions were confirmed on Saturday, when Iranian officials accepted responsibility for the downing of the jet, a Boeing 737-800 operated by Ukraine International Airlines, saying it was an accident caused by human error. The 176 victims included many young Iranians, as well as Canadians, Afghans and Europeans from several countries.
Many observers couldn't help thinking of a strikingly similar plane crash in Iranian territory amid hostilities, more than 30 years ago, in the waning days of the Iran-Iraq war.
On July 3, 1988, as American and Iranian forces battled in the Persian Gulf, the United States Navy accidentally shot down an Iranian passenger jet, Iran Air Flight 655, which was bound for Dubai. Iranian outlets reported that 290 people were aboard the plane, including 66 children. There were no survivors.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran referred to that tragedy on Monday as he responded to a threat from President Trump to attack cultural sites.
Last Saturday, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that his office had made a list of 52 Iranian sites '-- representing the 52 hostages taken by Iran in 1979 '-- that would be ''HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD'' in the event of an Iranian attack.
In response, Mr. Rouhani wrote, ''Those who refer to the number 52 should also remember the number 290.''
Iran Air Flight 655, which Mr. Rouhani invoked with the hashtag #IR655, had set out for Dubai from the port city of Bandar Abbas, on the Iranian side of the Persian Gulf. At the same time on that July morning, the Vincennes, an American missile cruiser, was engaged in combat with Iranian boats in the gulf.
The Navy said later that it mistook the passenger plane, an Airbus A300, for a hostile F-14 fighter jet. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., said that the Iranian plane was flying at low altitude and failed to respond to warnings or transmit radar signals identifying it as a civilian plane. The plane was brought down with a surface-to-air missile.
President Ronald Reagan issued a statement from Camp David, saying the United States regretted the loss of life but defending the judgment of the skipper, Capt. Will C. Rogers III. A subsequent Defense Department investigation also supported his actions, though it noted he was given inaccurate information as the plane approached. The investigators also faulted Iran for allowing the plane to fly into an active conflict zone.
In a strange twist, the following March, Captain Rogers's wife, Sharon Lee Rogers, was driving near a shopping center in San Diego when what was believed to be a pipe bomb exploded in her car. She escaped uninjured. Investigators initially believed it was an act of terrorism related to Captain Rogers's role in the deaths, but later ''all but ruled out'' the possibility, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Captain Rogers was later awarded the Legion of Merit for his service in the Persian Gulf; an accompanying citation praised the captain's ''dynamic leadership'' and ''logical judgment.''
A December 1988 report by an international panel of aviation experts faulted the Navy for failing to put in place procedures to keep civilian aircraft away from combat zones. The United States later paid millions to settle a lawsuit that Iran filed over the matter at the International Court of Justice.
Professor Fired After Joking That Iran Should Pick U.S. Sites to Bomb - The New York Times
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 03:12
U.S. | Professor Fired After Joking That Iran Should Pick U.S. Sites to BombAsheen Phansey said he regretted his ''bad attempt at humor'' and had hoped the college would have defended his right to free speech.
Asheen Phansey said he was ''disappointed'' and ''saddened'' by Babson College's decision to fire him ''just because people willfully misinterpreted a joke I made to friends on Facebook.'' Credit... Joanne Rathe/The Boston Globe, via Getty Images In a case that has stirred debate about free speech on college campuses, an adjunct professor at a Massachusetts college was fired on Thursday after posting on Facebook what he described as a joke suggesting that Iran pick sites in the United States to bomb.
The professor, Asheen Phansey, wrote on his personal Facebook page on Jan. 5 that Iran's supreme leader should ''tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb,'' suggesting the Mall of America in Minnesota and a Kardashian residence as targets, Judy Rakowsky, a spokeswoman for Mr. Phansey, said on Saturday.
The post was a response to President Trump's comments that he would target Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliated against the United States for killing one of its top generals. The Pentagon later ruled out striking Iranian cultural sites because of ''the laws of armed conflict.''
Mr. Phansey deleted his post, but not before it was captured in a screengrab and circulated on social media with the school's phone number.
''Why does @Babson 'College' have an America-hating terrorist supporter on their payroll. Ask them!'' said one widely shared tweet.
Mr. Phansey received a master's degree in business administration in 2008 from Babson College, a private business school in Wellesley, Mass., near Boston, that has a student population of about 3,000. He became an adjunct professor at the school that year, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Babson soon learned of Mr. Phansey's remarks and suspended him.
Image Asheen PhanseyBabson said in statement on Wednesday that it condemned ''any type of threatening words'' and ''actions condoning violence.''
''This particular post from a staff member on his personal Facebook page clearly does not represent the values and culture of Babson College,'' it said.
After his suspension, Mr. Phansey said in a statement that he regretted his ''bad attempt at humor.''
''As an American, born and raised, I was trying to juxtapose our 'cultural sites' with ancient Iranian churches and mosques,'' he said, adding that he was opposed to violence. ''I am sorry that my sloppy humor was read as a threat.''
The next day, the school announced it had fired Mr. Phansey. ''Based on the results of the investigation, the staff member is no longer a Babson College employee,'' the school said.
In a subsequent statement, Mr. Phansey said he was ''disappointed'' and ''saddened'' by the decision to fire him ''just because people willfully misinterpreted a joke I made to friends on Facebook.''
''I would have hoped that Babson, an institution of higher education that I love and to which I have given a great deal, would have defended and supported my right to free speech,'' he said. ''Beyond my own situation, I am really concerned about what this portends for our ability as Americans to engage in political discourse without presuming the worst about each other.''
Babson declined to comment on Saturday.
Mr. Phansey's lawyer, Jeffrey Pyle, said on Saturday that the school's actions sent a ''chilling'' message to academics and staff members at schools everywhere.
''It's a terribly tragic situation for a comment, that was obviously a joke, to have resulted in everything that's occurred,'' he said.
Mr. Pyle said the pretext for Mr. Phansey's firing ''is that he violated a social media policy that prohibits threats of violence'' and that it could not have been ''reasonably read'' as a threat.
''I say that it was a pretext because they fired him in order to stop the criticism on social media,'' Mr. Pyle said.
Some of the uproar about Mr. Phansey's post was also ''racially intolerant,'' Mr. Pyle said.
''I saw a number of messages saying Asheen should be deported as well as prosecuted and fired. Asheen was born in the United States, he is of South Asian origin,'' he said, adding that some assumed his client was Iranian or from the Middle East. ''I think that makes it doubly unfortunate that Babson couldn't defend him when some of the vitriol thrown his way was of that nature.''
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which defends the rights of students and faculty members at colleges and universities, said in a statement on Saturday that Mr. Phansey's post was ''obvious rhetorical hyperbole.''
''Babson's process-free termination in an attempt to quell criticism on social media is censorship, plain and simple, and reveals Babson's stated commitment to freedom of expression to be worthless,'' it said.
In recent years, colleges and universities have grappled with where to draw the line on free speech. The University of Wisconsin adopted a three-strikes policy in which any student found to have disrupted the free expressions of others would be expelled after a third infraction. Indiana University Bloomington faced a different problem last fall after a professor's viewpoints were described as racist, sexist and homophobic, but the administration said it could not fire him because of the First Amendment.
Britain's ambassador to Iran is ARRESTED after photographing protesters in Tehran clash | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 06:28
The Foreign Office has hit out at Iran for a 'flagrant violation of international law' after the UK ambassador to the country was arrested during a protest in the capital Tehran.
Diplomat Rob Macaire was present during demonstrations against Ayatollah Khamenei in front of Tehran's Amir Kabir University and was arrested after allegedly 'organising, provoking and directing radical actions', according to local reports.
Thousands had gathered to demand the supreme leader's resignation after his regime admitted it had mistakenly shot down a civilian passenger plane during retaliation against the US' assassination of Qasem Soleimani.
Mr Macaire, a diplomat with 30 years experience, was released following more than an hour in detention.
In a strongly worded statement, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned Iran that it needed to make a choice between becoming a 'pariah' state or to 'deescalate tensions' with the west.
'The arrest of our Ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law. The Iranian government is at a cross-roads moment,' said Mr Raab.
The UK ambassador to Iran Rob Macaire was arrested earlier this evening during violent protests in Tehran in response to Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei's regime admitting it had mistakenly shot down a civilian passenger plane
Following a more than an hour in detention, Mr Macaire was then released. MailOnline have contacted the Foreign Office for comment but they were unable to provide a comment
Iranians protest against the government after a vigil held for the victims of Flight 752 turned into an anti-government protest outside Amirkabir University in Tehran, Iran
'It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to deescalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.'
Mr Macaire was appointed to the Ambassador role in April 2018, replacing Nicholas Hopton.
Angry crowds gathered in at least four locations across Tehran tonight, chanting 'death to liars' and calling for the country's supreme leader to step down over the tragic military blunder, video from the scene shows.
What began as mournful vigils for Iranian lives lost on the flight soon turned to outrage and protest against the regime, and riot police quickly cracked down, firing tear gas into the crowd.
'Death to the Islamic Republic' protesters chanted, as the regime's security forces allegedly used ambulances to sneak heavily armed paramilitary police into the middle of crowds to disperse the demonstration.
Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 was carrying 176 people, at least 130 of them Iranian citizens, when it was shot down by hapless Iranian Revolutionary Guard air defense forces shortly after taking off from Tehran on January 8.
President Donald Trump tonight tweeted his support for the Iranian protestors, writing in Farsi that his administration would 'stand by them' as they protested against the country's leadership.
'To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.'
Protesters outside Amirkabir University in Tehran demanded the Ayatollah's resignation over the military disaster
Thousands gather outside Amir Kabir University on Saturday screaming 'Death to the Dictator'
Iranians shout slogans against the government in protests in Tehran Saturday night
Iran for days claimed that a technical failure caused the crash, before admitting on Saturday that its own surface-to-air missiles brought the plane down.
Iran was on high alert at the time, hours after launching ballistic missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq in a strike that caused no casualties. That missile strike was in retaliation for a U.S. operation that killed powerful Iranian General Qassem Soleimani
On Saturday afternoon, candlelight vigils at universities in Tehran for the victims of Flight 752 began to turn to protests against the regime. Large protests were reported at the universities of Tehran, Sharif Industrial, Amir Kabir, and Allameh.
At Amirkabir University, protesters chanted 'Down with the dictator' and 'shame on IRGC [Revolutionary Guard], let the country go.'
At Sharif University, crowds of outraged Iranians chanted 'commander in chief, resign!' The Ayatollah is Iran's commander in chief.
'Our enemy is right here; They lie when they say it's the US' protesters were heard chanting in one video.
'I now believe the word of the Great Satan,' one protester wrote in Persian on Twitter, apparently referring to the U.S. intelligence reports that blamed Iran for shooting the plane down, which the regime furiously denied at first.
A picture is seen on Saturday next to candles lit by people and families of the victims of the crash of Flight 752
Riot police with shields and batons massed to disrupt the anti-government protests on Saturday night
The regime quickly cracked down on the protests with tear gas and water cannons
Screams were heard as regime forces fired tear gas at the protesters in a brutal crackdown after night fell
A woman gestures during a protest against the government outside Amirkabir University in Tehran, Iran on Saturday
Iranians shout slogans against the government after a vigil held for the victims of the airplane of Ukrainian International Airlines that crashed near Imam Khomeini Airport turned into an anti-government protest outside Amirkabir University
Protesters demanded that those responsible for shooting down the civilian plane be publicly tried and held accountable.
The crowd also condemned the Islamic Republic's paramilitary internal security force, chanting 'Death to Basij.'
As night fell, riot police attempted to break up the protests with tear gas.
Cops armed with shields and batons tried to disperse the crowds, and police fired water canons into the crowds of protesters.
Anti-regime factions said that the protests reflected the frustrations of Iranian citizens with the government corruption and oppression.
'The protest by thousands of Iranians in Tehran burst the propaganda balloon of the regime regarding Qassem Soleimani's elimination,' said Shahin Gobadi, spokesman of the anti-regime group People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, in a statement to DailyMail.com.
Gobadi said that the protests 'showed the true sentiments of the Iranians and once again clearly proved that Iran is a powder keg and the Iranian people will not stop until the regime change.'
Iranians light candles and hang flowers for victims of Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 during a protest in front of the Amir Kabir University. What began as a vigil for the dead turned to anti-government protests
Iranians protest against the government outside Amirkabir University in Tehran, Iran on Saturday
People gather for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Ukraine plane crash, at the gate of Amri Kabir University that some of the victims of the crash were former students of, in Tehran, Iran on Saturday
At Amirkabir University, protesters chanted 'Down with the dictator' and 'shame on [Revolutionary Guard], let the country go'
Iranian Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, the Guards' aerospace commander, said on Saturday a surface-to-air missile operator had mistaken the Boeing 737 for a U.S. cruise missile responding to Iranian ballistic missile attacks, and only had ten seconds to decide whether or not to open fire.
'I wish I had died, and I wouldn't have seen such an incident,' Hajizadeh said somberly at a press conference. He claimed that a 'request had been made to clear the sky from civil flights at that time, but it did not happen due to reservations.'
For days, Iran vehemently denied that it was responsible for downing Flight 752 from Tehran to Kyiv on January 8, accusing the U.S. of spreading malicious propaganda and lies for suggesting such a scenario.
Hajizadeh claimed that the country's top military leaders were not initially aware that their own air defense system had shot the plan down, leading to confusion. Now the country has come clean, but still blames 'US adventurism' for the fatal 'error'.
'The delay in releasing information was not aimed at hiding the issue but it is the routine drill that the General Staff should study the case (first); and all information was collected on Friday morning after studies and what had happened became clear then,' Hajizadeh said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extended condolences to the families of those killed in the incident, and promised that those responsible would be prosecuted.
'The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake... My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences,' Rouhani said in a statement on Saturday.
'I wish I had died, and I wouldn't have seen such an incident,' said a somber Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, the Guards' aerospace commander, at a press conference. Iran admitted that it shot down Flight 752, thinking the plane was a missile
Ukraine International Airlines' Boeing 737-800 plane wreckage is seen in a picture from investigation team released today
Rescue workers at the crash site recovered the bodies of victims on Wednesday (above)
He said that 'the terrible catastrophe should be thoroughly investigated, and those responsible for this unforgivable mistake will definitely be identified and prosecuted'.
But the country's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said 'US adventurism' was to blame for Iran shooting down the plane, a week after an American drone killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
Zarif wrote: 'A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.
'Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.'
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei also offered condolences to the families, as he called for an investigation and ordered the military to address 'shortcomings' on Saturday morning.
Pipelines
While you were focused on Soleimani, Israel became a natural gas superpower
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 06:08
''During the last week, earth-shattering events occurred that completely disrupted the Middle East '.... In other news the Americans assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.''
In March 2013, I noted that Israel's discovery and development of huge offshore natural gas fields was a game-changer, putting Israel on course to become an energy superpower.
At that time, the field that had just come on line was the Tamar field. I wrote, Yesterday the Middle East changed forever, and you didn't know it:
Israel now is pumping natural gas from one of the enormous offshore fields which will transform Israel into an energy-independent nation and a global energy powerhouse:
Natural gas from the offshore Tamar field was pumped to Israeli shores for the first time Saturday, four years after its discovery, in preparation for its first use in the Israeli energy market '-- a move that could transform the Israeli economy.
The Tamar deposit, discovered in 2009 some 90 kilometers west of Haifa, holds an estimated 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
On Saturday, hailed an ''important day for the Israeli economy'' by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, natural gas from the field was being pumped to a newly erected facility on the coast of Ashdod, connected to the gas field via pipelines laid out on the ocean floor, 150 kilometers long and 16 inches wide'....
Israel's new offshore fields are enormous, which is part of the reason Turkey has been so belligerent..
Combined with Israel's under-appreciated status as a Demographic Superpower, Israel's long-term status is fine. It just has go get past Syrian WMD and Iranian nukes.
Hezbollah has threatened to attack Israeli gas platforms, leading Israel to install a sea-based version of Iron Dome, as we reported in 2016,
Israel Introduces Sea-Based Iron Dome:Introducing C-Dome missile defense system. Why does it look familiar? pic.twitter.com/KQjcWlqpjr
'-- LTC (R) Peter Lerner (@LTCPeterLerner) May 18, 2016
The Tamar field was small change compared to the much larger Leviathan field, as I described in 2015, Israel one step closer to being energy Superpower.
Somehow, The NY Times turned all this into a bad thing, Israel's Energy Dilemma: More Natural Gas Than It Can Use or Export:
For decades, Israel was an energy-starved country surrounded by hostile, oil-rich neighbors.
Now it has a different problem. Thanks to major offshore discoveries over the last decade, it has more natural gas than it can use or readily export.
The Leviathan development was delayed by bureaucratic snafus and environmental opposition, but just came on line. And this is a big deal.
The Times of Israel reported on December 31, 2019, that natural gas began flowing:
Gas began flowing from the mammoth Leviathan offshore natural gas field on Tuesday, after the government gave a final go-ahead to Noble Energy to forge ahead with the project despite vocal protests from residents of the coastal region who are concerned about the pollution emitted by the rigs.
The Environmental Protection Ministry said Monday that Noble Energy and its partners had met all the necessary conditions to begin pumping gas, paving the way for the rigs to begin extracting the estimated 22 trillion cubic feet of gas trapped underground.
Early Tuesday morning Noble began a gas rig test that is necessary ahead of starting operations, and later that morning the partners in Leviathan announced the start of natural gas production from the reservoir, the largest energy project in Israel's history.
The first gas will reach Israel's shores via the pipes within 24 to 48 hours from the start of production, the companies estimated.
But wait, there's more. Israel also signed a huge natural gas deal with Greece and Cyprus to ship natural gas to Europe, and commenced gas deliveries to Jordan and Egypt
David Markind called it, The other event that rocked the Middle East:
During the last week, earth-shattering events occurred that completely disrupted the Middle East, caused intense anger in certain Arab and Muslim capitals, and threatened war in the region. In other news the Americans assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
The non-Soleimani news that rocked the Middle East involved natural gas. On January 2, Greece, Israel and Cyprus signed an agreement to build a pipeline to transport natural gas 1,300 miles from Israel's Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean first to Greece, then to Italy, and from Italy into the heart of Europe. Scheduled for completion in 2025, the ''EastMed pipeline'' ultimately might provide 4% of Europe's natural gas imports. It also would compete with two pipelines being built by Russia, the NordStream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea to Germany, and the TurkStream project from Russia to Turkey.
Turkey has reacted furiously to the EastMed project. The Turks have threatened that they will block any exploration of that part of the Mediterranean that does not include Turkey'....
Meanwhile, the first shipment of Israeli gas from the Leviathan field was delivered to Jordan on New Year's Day, much to the chagrin of many Jordanians. Jordan has been receiving Israeli gas from the smaller Tamar field since 2017, but the Leviathan gas increases Israeli exports to Jordan dramatically. Jordan's main political opposition, The Islamic Action Front, called the delivery of Leviathan gas a ''black day in the history of Jordan, and a crime against the nation.'' '...
Jordan wasn't the only country to receive Israeli natural gas on New Year's Day. Egypt did as well. Israel and its US partner Noble Energy reached a $15 billion agreement in 2019 to supply 64 billion cubic meters of gas to Egypt.
The pipeline to Europe will take time, and the madman of Turkey is trying to scuttle it, but what already has come on line makes Israel energy independent, with large supply contracts to two of its neighbors, Egypt and Jordan.
So while you were focused on Soleimani, Israel became an energy superpower.
Ukraine
Dmitri Alperovitch - Wikipedia
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 10:52
Dmitri Alperovitch
Born1980Alma materGeorgia Institute of TechnologyOccupationCo-founder & CTO, CrowdStrike Inc. Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council VP, Threat Research, McAfee, Inc.EmployerCrowdStrike, Inc.Known forDemocratic National Committee cyber attacks, Operation Aurora, Operation Shady RATAwardsFortune 40 Under 40 (2017), Politico 50 (2016), TR35 (2013), FP Top 100 Global Thinkers (2013)Dmitri Alperovitch is a Russian-born American computer security industry executive. He is co-founder and chief technology officer of CrowdStrike. In August 2011, as vice president of threat research at McAfee, he published Operation Shady RAT, a report on suspected Chinese intrusions into at least 72 organizations, including defense contractors, businesses worldwide, the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.[1] Alperovitch is a naturalized American citizen born in Russia who came to the United States in 1994 with his family.[2]
Early life and education [ edit ] Born in Moscow in the Russian S.F.S.R., a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, Alperovitch is a U.S. citizen.[3] In 1994, his father was granted a visa to Canada, and a year later the family moved to Chattanooga.[4] Alperovitch earned a B.S. in computer science in 2001, and a M.S. in information security in 2003, both from Georgia Institute of Technology. It was the school's first graduate degree in information security.[5]
Career [ edit ] Alperovitch worked at a number of computer security startups in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including e-mail security startup CipherTrust[6], where he was one of the leading inventors of the TrustedSource reputation system.[7] Upon acquisition of CipherTrust by Secure Computing in 2006,[8] he led the research team and launched the Software-as-a-Service business for the company. Alperovitch took over as vice president of threat research[9] at McAfee, when the company acquired Secure Computing in 2008.[10]
In January 2010, he led the investigation into Operation Aurora, the Chinese intrusions into Google and two dozen other companies.[11] Subsequently, he led the investigation of Night Dragon espionage operation of the Western multinational oil and gas companies, and traced them to Song Zhiyue, a Chinese national living in Heze City, Shandong Province.[12]
In late 2011, along with entrepreneur George Kurtz[13][14] and Gregg Marston, Dmitri Alperovitch co-founded and became the chief technology officer of CrowdStrike,[15] a security technology company focused on helping enterprises and governments protect their intellectual property and secrets against cyberespionage and cybercrime.
In 2015 CapitalG (formerly Google Capital), led a $100 million capital drive for CrowdStrike.[16] The firm brought on board senior FBI executives, such as Shawn Henry, former executive assistant director (EAD) of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, and Steve Chabinsky, former deputy assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division. By May of 2017, CrowdStrike had received $256 million in funding from Warburg Pincus, Accel Partners, and Google Capital and its stock was valued at just under $1 billion.[16]
Alperovitch was awarded the prestigious Federal 100 Award for his contributions to the U.S. federal information security [17] and was recognized in 2013 and 2015 as one of Washingtonian (magazine)'s Tech Titans for his accomplishments in the field of cybersecurity.
In August 2013, he was selected as one of MIT Technology Review's Top 35 Innovators Under 35, an award previously won by Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg [18]
In 2016, Politico Magazine featured him as one of ''Politico 50'' influential thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics[19]
In 2017, Fortune magazine listed Alperovitch in "40 Under 40" annual ranking of the most influential young people in business, along with Emmanuel Macron, Mark Zuckerberg and Serena Williams.[20]
He is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank and was named in December 2013 as one of Foreign Policy's Top 100 Leading Global Thinkers, along with Angela Merkel, John Kerry, Ben Bernanke and Jeff Bezos [21]
References [ edit ] External links [ edit ] DAlperovitch on Twitter Alperovitch's CrunchBase profileDmitri Alperovitch on IMDbDmitri Alperovitch on 60 Minutes "The Great Brain Robbery" episodeDmitri Alperovitch on Viceland's "Hacked by China" episode"Enter The Cyber-Dragon" in Vanity FairDmitri Alperovitch on Cybersecurity & the Chinese ThreatA new brand of cyber security: hacking the hackersDmitri Alperovitch at AusCERT 2013CrowdStrike, Inc. official website
Dieana Deal
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got Sussex Royal trademarked
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 08:46
By Erica Tempesta For Dailymail.com and Mark Duell for MailOnline 09:05 09 Jan 2020, updated 16:13 09 Jan 2020
Couple have £34million fortune to fund new life after quitting as senior royalsBut they can make millions Sussex Royal products after trademark applicationThey want to stamp their name on items including T-shirts, hoodies and gloves Couple can procure a fortune through book deals, public speaking and fashionExpert says Sussex Royal product empire could generate revenues of £400mPrince Harry and Meghan trademarked their Sussex Royal brand on more than 100 items including pencils, socks and bookmarks more than six months ago.
The couple have an estimated £34million private fortune to fund their new life after quitting as senior royals, but can make even more with various business ventures such as book deals, TV deals, public speaking and fashion and brand partnerships.
The Sussexes, who also set up a slick website called Sussexroyal.com this week, have been moving towards becoming 'financially independent' over the past year.
They appear intent on turning their brand into a global empire as they stamp their name on goods and services by submitting trademark applications last June.
The Sussexes want to stamp their name on dozens of products including T-shirts, hoodies, journals and gloves for their newly-created foundation Sussex Royal.
Retail expert Andy Barr said he would expect Prince Harry and Meghan's new Sussex Royal product empire to generate revenues of £400million.
Some of the products which Harry and Meghan are looking to trademark under their brand The Duke and Duchess of Sussex plan to expand the empire of their Sussex Royal foundationHe told MailOnline of the trademark applications: 'This will just be the stepping stone for higher value products being launched later down the line.
'Undoubtedly this will be a multi-million pound revenue business given they are effectively trading on the back of the Royal name which is ironic given they are seemingly trying to escape its clutches.
'We would conservatively estimate that the 'MegRy' revenue will dwarf that of Prince Charles various Duchy business fortunes.
'With his revenue estimated to be £200million in the last year, we would not be surprised to see Harry and Meghan more than double that from scratch with their combined global appeal.
'As the brand they are building will automatically have global appeal, their revenue will grow even further.'
PR expert Mark Borkowski, who has worked with Noel Edmonds and Graham Norton, suggested that the Sussex 'brand' could rival that of the House of Windsor.
Documents published by the Intellectual Property Office have now shown how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex plan to expand their brandHe said: 'Harry loves Meghan and can see what she's going through and, influenced also by what he saw, what he experienced with his mother, he didn't want to see the woman he loves go through it.
'They've had their time to think about it and they're now separated totally from the royal family and we will now see the Sussex brand, you know, and we'll see something which is going to be a very powerful foundation or brand outside the royal family.
'And that's possibly the most dangerous thing for the royal brand. Could they become more potent? Could they have a world focus in a way the House of Windsor can't?'
Mr Borkowski said Meghan and Harry stand to make 'a fortune' due to the demand for the Sussex brand in countries such as China, India and the US.
He said: 'They are going to, they have to make a lot of money to fuel the lifestyle and everything that they need.
'It's not that easy to separate yourself, security issues alone are enormous, and they are a target for security - how they live, how they operate.
'I think around the world - China, America, South East Asia, India, parts of Europe - people will be falling over to get brand connections with them. They will make a fortune.'
The royals have submitted a number of trademark applications for products including T-shirts, social services and head gearThey have vowed to become 'financially independent' after saying they will step down as senior royals, but the two should not have much trouble making money.
If famous political couples like the Obamas and Clintons are any indication, the two can easily procure a fortune through book deals, public speaking and fashion.
Experts say they have the potential to rake in tens of millions of pounds annually, particularly if they choose to follow in Barack and Michelle's lucrative footsteps.
Ronn Torossian, chief executive of New York-based PR firm 5W Public Relations, told DailyMail.com: 'Their earning power '-- both individually and as a couple '-- is limitless in all aspects of endorsements.
'Whether appearances, brand partnerships or more, they could make eight or nine figures annually with endorsement deals.'
Mr Torossian said it 'wouldn't be surprising' if the couple started looking at how to make money in North America, where they will be staying when not in Britain.
'With the level of name recognition both of them have, brands will no doubt be tripping over themselves to offer Meghan and Harry partnerships, endorsement deals, positions as brand ambassadors, and more,' he explained.
'The sky is the limit for the two of them in terms of earning potential in North America.'
Also on the list of items are footwear coats jackets anoraks trousers sweaters jerseys dresses pyjamas suits sweat shirts hooded tops caps hats bandanas headbands socks scarves and neckwear gloves and sportswearDocuments published by the Intellectual Property Office disclose that among the items the royals have so far trademarked are instructional and teaching materials; printed educational materials; printed publications; educational books; textbooks; magazines and newsletters.
Also on the list are clothing; footwear; headgear; t-shirts; coats; jackets; anoraks; trousers; sweaters; jerseys; dresses; pyjamas; suits; sweat shirts; hooded tops; caps; hats; bandanas; headbands; socks; scarves and neckwear; gloves; sportswear.
The list also shows the royal pair have hopes to trademark the title on developing and coordinating volunteer projects for charitable purposes; providing volunteering opportunities and recruitment of volunteers and information, advisory and consultancy services.
While some of the items align with what the royal pair continue to promote, others appear to indicate that former actress Meghan and Harry truly are intent on 'changing the world', as their admirer Kim Kardashian once said.
The list features more than 100 items, from teaching materials and emotional support groups to clothing and even newspapersThe list also revealed the pair have submitted trademarks in periodicals; printed reports; fact sheets; brochures; programmes; booklets; pamphlets; leaflets; manuals; journals; diaries; calendars; posters; art prints; notebooks; postcards and greeting cards.
Experts said Harry and Meghan were actively preparing to quit the Royal Family months ago by filing trade mark applications to commercially protect their brand.
Nicole Murdoch, a trademark lawyer based in Brisbane, Australia, said the signs that the Sussexes were leaving the Royal Family were emerging last summer.
She said: 'This could be because they may lose their titles as part of leaving the Royal Family. So this is a defensive move to allow them to continue using the titles or a name that alludes to the titles.
Prince Harry and Meghan unveiled a slick new website just moments after announcing they were stepping back from royal duties. In a statement released on the website they said they wanted to 'continue to honour our patronages''Their Royal Titles are gifted by the Queen '' will they lose their Royal Titles when they step back from Royal duties.
'Legally there also must be an intention to use the trade mark on the goods/services of the application at the time of the application. Unless it is a defensive mark (which requires a prior registration).
'When the trademark move was publicised in December there was a lot of uncertainty over why they were doing it.
'But now it's become very clear. This was a strategic move and it happened in the middle of last year so it's not some decision the pair made during their Christmas holidays.'
A branding and social media expert, who asked to remain anonymous, believes that Harry and Meghan will follow in Barack and Michelle Obama's footsteps by setting up a charitable foundation, producing documentaries for a streaming service, and teaming up with Spotify to create podcasts.
Prince Harry and Meghan's security detail head to Frogmore House in Windsor today'I think you're looking at a Michelle and Barack situation,' the expert said. 'They will definitely follow the Michelle and Barack model, and it will definitely work for them because people are incredibly thirsty for those royals.'
Harry and Meghan certainly have plenty of A-list friends who are as business savvy as they are famous to help them transition into their new lives '-- and make plenty of money along the way.
The couple has relationships with both the Obamas and the Clintons, with Harry being particularly close with Barack and Michelle.
Last year, Meghan secretly invited Hillary Clinton to Frogmore Cottage, her Windsor home, to meet her son, Archie.
Oprah Winfrey recently teamed up with Harry to create a mental health docu-series after attending his wedding to Meghan in 2018.
The media mogul can easily set them up with interviews, as can her best friend Gayle King. The CBS News anchor was one of the many famous faces who attended Meghan's New York baby shower last year.
Meanwhile, Meghan's close friend Jessica Mulroney works for Good Morning America as a style consultant.
The opportunities are seemingly endless for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have connections with people from all walks of life.
They also have the resources to hire professionals to help them navigate their careers as they move away from their royal duties.
In September, it was revealed Meghan hired a top crisis PR firm that once represented Harvey Weinstein in a bid to improve her public image.
In a significant break from royal protocol, the former actress brought in the New York-based firm Sunshine Sachs behind the back of Buckingham Palace's own advisers.
Sunshine Sachs is among the U.S.'s most prominent crisis management firms, but it has been accused of employing 'dark arts' tactics to improve the image of its clients.
Deals: Bill Clinton was given a hefty $15 million advance for his 2004 autobiography, My Life, while his wife, Hillary, got an estimated $14 million for her 2014 memoir Hard ChoicesDeals: Bill Clinton was given a hefty $15 million advance for his 2004 autobiography, My Life, while his wife, Hillary, got an estimated $14 million for her 2014 memoir Hard Choices BOOK DEALS
If Prince Harry and Meghan choose to write memoirs about their lives, they will likely start a bidding war between publishing houses and procure eight-figure advances.
Fans would love to read about their vastly different childhoods and how their lives became entwined when they were brought together through a mutual friend.
Their love story is one for the ages, and while they have shared bits and pieces about their courtship, people are still clamoring for more information about the highs and lows of their romance.
Success: Michelle's memoir, Becoming, has sold more than 10 million copiesIn 2017, the Obamas scored a joint book deal at Penguin Random House worth a reported $65 million '-- an unprecedented amount for a presidential memoir.
While Barack's upcoming book has yet to be released, Michelle's autobiography, Becoming, sold 1.4 million copies in the first week and went on to become the best-selling book in the U.S. in 2018.
As of March 2019, it sold more than 10 million copies and was on track to become the best-selling memoir of all time.
Prior to Barack and Michelle's record-breaking deal, Bill Clinton was given a hefty $15 million advance for his 2004 autobiography, My Life.
He has written four books since leaving the White House in 2001. Most recently, he published his first best-selling novel, The President is Missing, which he co-wrote with superstar author James Patterson.
Barack and Michelle Obama (pictured in Chicago last October) scored a reported $65million advance as part of their joint book deal, and it's possible the royals can bring in even moreHis wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has written numerous books as well. She earned a reported $8 million dollar advance for her 2003 memoir, Living History, and a believed $14 million for her 2014 follow-up, Hard Choices.
If Harry and Meghan aren't willing to get personal, there are other options.
Hillary and her daughter Chelsea recently co-wrote and published The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience, which features portraits of female role models who inspire them.
Now that they're parents, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex may want to follow in Chelsea's footsteps and write children's books focusing on topics they're passionate about.
Potential: It's possible Harry and Meghan will start their own production company like the Obamas and start producing their own documentaries and podcasts In the game: Harry has already teamed up with Oprah to create a multi-part documentary series about mental health that will air on the Apple TV platform this year TV AND STREAMING DEALS
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are both activists in their own right, so it's not hard to imagine them getting into film and television production to raise awareness for the causes that are important to them.
Harry has already teamed up with Oprah to create a multi-part documentary series about mental health that will air on the Apple TV platform this year.
Millions of viewers tuned in to watch them open up about the struggles they've faced as a couple in their emotional 2019 documentary, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, a testament to their built-in fan base.
It's possible they'll take a cue from the Obamas and start their own production company to pitch their passion projects.
It was announced in 2018 that Barack and Michelle had signed a multi-year deal to produce movies, series, and documentaries for Netflix through their production company, Higher Ground.
It's unclear how much the former president and first lady made off the deal, but those who have signed onto similar agreements are set to make millions.
Shonda Rhimes, who created Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, signed a five-year deal with Netflix in 2017 that is estimated to be worth $150 million.
The following year, American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy reportedly scored up to $300 million when he inked his own five-year deal with the streaming giant.
Taking the mic: The Obamas and Clintons command six-figure fees for speaking engagements, and experts believe Meghan and Harry can easily do the same At the podium: Meghan has a passion for using her voice to promote awareness for the causes near and dear to heart. She's pictured at the launch of her charity clothing line in September PUBLIC SPEAKING
The U.S.'s former presidents and first ladies are taking home millions of dollars from their public appearances, so why can't royals?
Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush have all made a pretty penny from their six-figure speaking fees over the years.
After leaving the White House, Barack started commanding a reported $400,000 per speaking engagement, while his wife, Michelle, has been said to make $200,000.
George W. takes in $100,000 to $175,000 per appearance, Politico reported in 2015, noting that he has done at least 200 paid speeches since he left office.
And according to CNN analysis, Bill and Hillary have earned more than $153 million in paid speeches from 2001 until the former secretary of state launched her 2016 presidential campaign.
Jeff Jacobson, co-founder of the Talent Bureau speaking agency, says the couple would get at least $100,000 per appearance, and Harry could get up $500,000.
He told Bloomberg: 'I would imagine they are going to start having these conversations ASAP, if they haven't already. I suspect they will both get on the circuit, and it will be one of Harry's primary revenue streams.'
And it won't just be one-off appearances that Meghan and Harry can earn money from; if, as experts predict, the two choose to follow the Obamas' lead and sign a book deal, they could go on to rake in a fortune from a subsequent book tour - as former FLOTUS Michelle recently did.
When Michelle launched her book tour back in 2018, the costs of tickets shocked some fans, with prices ranging from $29.95 for general admission to $3,000 for a VIP package which included a front row seat, a photo with Mrs. Obama and a signed book.
Fashionable philanthropy: Last year, Meghan helped create a capsule collection to benefit Smart Works, a charity that provides clothes and coaching to unemployed women Walking advertisement: Catbird, the jewelry brand behind Meghan's favorite thin, stackable gold ring revealed 20,000 people have snapped up the band since she was seen wearing itWalking advertisement: Catbird, the jewelry brand behind Meghan's favorite thin, stackable gold ring revealed 20,000 people have snapped up the band since she was seen wearing it FASHION AND BRAND PARTNERSHIPS
When it comes to fashion, Meghan has the magic touch. Whatever the actress-turned-royal wears sells out almost immediately, making her any brand's dream partner.
The Duchess of Sussex has many friends in the fashion industry, including tennis star Serena Williams and designer Misha Nonoo, who both have their own clothing lines.
Meghan's close pal Jessica Mulroney also happens to be a famous stylist who has been credited with helping indie Canadian fashion brands get their start.
Jessica can easily help her connect with brands, though the royal likely doesn't need the help.
Editorial: The Duchess of Sussex guest-edited the September issue of British Vogue in 2019Last year, Meghan guest-edited British Vogue, and she is said to be close with the magazine's editor-in-chief Edward Enninful as well as American Vogue's Anna Wintour.
The Duchess of Sussex combined her love of fashion and philanthropy in 2019 to launch a capsule clothing line to benefit Smart Works, a charity that provides clothes and coaching to unemployed women.
The collection was created in partnership with Misha, the clothing brand Jigsaw, and the department stores Marks & Spencer and John Lewis. For each item that was purchased, one was donated to the charity.
And if she so chooses, Meghan could also revive her lifestyle blog, The Tig, which she launched in 2014 and used to share her favorite things with her fans.
She abruptly shut down the site in April 2017, taking down all the posts she had shared over the previous three years. Meghan and Harry's engagement was announced in November 2017.
However, Meghan recently filed documents in the U.S. aiming to keep the rights to the blog's name until 2021.
A palace spokesperson made it clear that the lasting trademark is to 'prevent false branding, but she could always have a change of heart.
Mystery project: Philanthropy is a large part of Harry and Meghan's lives, and they revealed they will be launching a new 'new charitable entity' Going their own way: Though they likely won't make money from their charitable endeavors, the new venture will certainly help them carve out their new identities CHARITIES
Philanthropy is a large part of Harry and Meghan's lives, and in their statement announcing their decision to step down from senior royal duties, they said they will be launching a 'new charitable entity.'
The couple didn't share any additional details about the upcoming venture, but they may take inspiration from the Obamas, Bushes, and Clintons, who all have their own charitable foundations in the U.S.
Though they likely won't make money from their charitable endeavors, the new venture will certainly help them carve out their new identities as they move away from the British monarchy.
Last year, Harry and Meghan walked away from the Royal Foundation, their formerly joint charity with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to start their own charitable organization called Sussex Royal.
It's unclear what will happen with the foundation now that they are no longer going to be working as senior royals and they have yet to clarify their plans for the organization.
Racism Helped Drive Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Out of the UK and Away From the Royal Family | Inc.com
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 07:44
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, better known as Meghan Markle, stunned the world (and apparently the royal family) when they announced on Wednesday that they would be "stepping back" from royal duties, splitting their time between Britain and North America, and seeking to become financially independent. But there was one group of people who weren't at all surprised -- black people living in Britain. Some expressed relief that Markle (whose mother is African-American) was finally out of the toxic atmosphere in which she'd been trapped. They wondered how she had stood it for so long. "Nobody should tolerate bullying and abusive behavior because of the color of their skin," Sanaa Edness, an immigrant from the Caribbean to Britain told the New York Times. Edness added that she'd experienced similar racism herself.
What racism? Well, there was Rachel Johnson, prime minister Boris Johnson's sister, who commented that Markle had "rich and exotic DNA." There was the BBC commentator who tweeted an image of Meghan and Harry holding hands with a chimpanzee and joked that it was their son. There was the Daily Mail headline "Harry's girl is (almost) straight outta Compton," on a story that enumerated the recent crimes that have taken place near Markle's childhood home, and listed all the street gangs known to operate in the area, reminding the reader again and again that the neighborhood where she was born "couldn't be more different" from the tony environment in which Prince Harry was raised.
Then there was the sense that, no matter what she did, Markle could never do anything right. At least according to some critics in the press, who earnestly insisted that it wasn't her race they objected to, it was some other thing that she'd done wrong. Like when she was roundly criticized for guest-editing an issue of Vogue UK. Dan Wootton, executive editor of The Sun went on TV to say, outrage in his voice, that "Royals don't guest-edit magazines!" Except that they have a long tradition of doing just that. Prince Charles guest-edited Country Life twice. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, to whom Markle is frequently unfavorably compared, was praised for guest-editing the Huffington Post and she also posed for the cover of the UK Vogue. But just in case there was any doubt as to the true reason for objections to Markle, the Mail dug up her family tree and published it, writing, "Now that's upwardly mobile! How in 150 years, Meghan Markle's family went from cotton slaves to royalty."
And then there are the other members of the royal family, who have met all this abuse with silence. "You never see them speaking out about the racism, standing beside her, defending her. She's been all alone," a black immigrant to Britain from South Africa told the New York Times.
Are billions in revenue leaving with them?
Prince Harry and Meghan "stepping back" from being senior royals has financial consequences. Some Britons (and especially the same tabloids that have been attacking Markle all along) have expressed outrage that the couple say they will perform fewer royal duties, which usually include such things as ribbon cuttings and visiting schools and hospitals, given that British taxpayers have been paying for their security and funded the multi-million-pound renovation of their home. But the hugely popular couple, social influencers with millions of followers, have been revenue generators too. By one estimate, the royal wedding (which the royal family paid for) brought about a billion pounds to the British economy. This included things like foreign tourists coming for the wedding and sales of wedding memorabilia. Since then, interest in the couple has remained high, translating into sales of products bearing their images and a boon for the retail and travel industries.
But perhaps even more important, it raised the international standing of the royal family and of Britain itself. An estimated two billion people around the world watched the wedding, which many have compared to a fairy tale. After all, Edward VIII, the last royal to marry a divorced American woman, was forced to abdicate the throne as a result. Now here was the royal family and their millions of subjects embracing a beautiful and glamorous American commoner who was not only divorced but also biracial. It seemed to signal that the monarchy and the nation were evolving away from their xenophobic past. It did indeed seem like a fairy tale, one for modern times.
But the fairy tale turned out not to be true. Polls seem to show that most Britons are angry with the couple for making their announcement without prior royal approval, even though the Sun was about to break the story, and even though they'd been attempting to negotiate a more orderly exit for months. To the non-British world, though, it makes the royal family, and the Britons who revere them, seem racist, churlish, and stuck in a past when they considered themselves superior to all other people on Earth. That's not a good look for a state that wants look like it belongs in the 21st century. And it's not good for business, either.
Published on: Jan 11, 2020
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Couple have £34million fortune to fund new life after quitting as senior royals
But they can make millions Sussex Royal products after trademark application
They want to stamp their name on items including T-shirts, hoodies and gloves
Couple can procure a fortune through book deals, public speaking and fashion
Expert says Sussex Royal product empire could generate revenues of £400m
Prince Harry and Meghan trademarked their Sussex Royal brand on more than 100 items including pencils, socks and bookmarks more than six months ago.
The couple have an estimated £34million private fortune to fund their new life after quitting as senior royals, but can make even more with various business ventures such as book deals, TV deals, public speaking and fashion and brand partners.
Harry and Meghan: The hurdles ahead for the semi-royal couple | UK News | Sky News
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 21:57
The announcement by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that they intend to step down as senior royals took many people, including his grandmother - the Queen, by surprise.
But amid the controversy and criticism, their departure leaves the couple, as well as the royal household, aides, staff and other family members, with a raft of unanswered questions.
The Queen has now said that the family must find a solution that works for everyone as quick as possible, reportedly within days rather than weeks, and has ordered staff to work "at pace" to make it happen.
Image: Harry and Meghan have taken steps to protect their brandFocus will now shift to answering the difficult questions, to ensure the survival of the Royal Family, and the semi-independence of the Sussexes.
Sky News has taken a look at some of the hurdles facing the royals ahead of the imminent semi-departure of Harry and Meghan.
How will they make money?
In their bombshell statement, Harry and Meghan said they would become "financially independent" but have not offered any more information on how they plan to do that.
The Prince of Wales currently pays for their official duties and some of their private costs through his £21m Duchy of Cornwall income. Last year, the Sussexes - along with the Cambridges - received just over £5m.
How will Harry and Meghan be financially independent?However, it is not known exactly how much of this they will leave behind when they stop their duties, and how much the taxpayer will continue to foot.
Harry and Meghan have trademarked a new logo, and already have an Instagram account followed by millions - leading to suggestions that they could use their brand for income.
The duchess is also an established actress, and is thought to have a value of around £3m as a result of that. She also ran a hugely successful fashion blog before her wedding with the duke.
Prince Harry, although having previously served in the army, has no previous private sector employment experience, so it is not clear what his new ventures would be - but could branch into the media, speaking or writing.
Other members of the Royal Family will be keeping a close eye on what the pair do, however, because although they are stepping down from senior duties, they are not renouncing their titles or completely leaving the firm, so their work will have to be considerate of the wider family's reputation.
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Who will pay for them to stay safe?
At the moment the couple, as with all major royals, have security costs paid for the taxpayer via the Home Office - but by stepping down as senior members of the family, should they still be afforded that privilege?
The couple's website suggests that their taxpayer funded security will continue, but questions remain over the level of safety they will be given.
Royal Family members and staff will now have to decide if Harry and Meghan's UK home should be protected when it's empty, and how their life in North America will be made safe.
Where will they live?
At the moment, Harry and Meghan use Frogmore Cottage, in the grounds of the Windsor estate, as their home when they are in the UK - and in their announcement they said they will continue to live there.
But the Queen, who initially gave them permission to live there, could in theory reverse her decision if she wanted to - although the suggestion is that she will not do that.
Image: Frogmore Cottage is in the grounds of Windsor CastleLast year, the taxpayer footed the bill for the £2.4m refurbishment of the property.
They intend to split their time between the UK and North America - but questions remain over where in the US or Canada they will settle down.
Harry, Meghan and Archie spent Christmas in Canada, so they could be planning a move there, but they may instead opt for Los Angeles to be closer to Meghan's mother.
However, the presumption is that Harry and Meghan will have to pay for their own living arrangements in North America.
Queen 'disappointed' by Harry and MeghanWhat, if any, royal work will they do?
Only the couple know that. They have said they will continue to "honour [their] duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth and... patronages," but it is not known if they will continue to go on royal tours or carry out major duties.
The Queen will have to decide whether or not to continue to use the duke and duchess to carry out future events.
Other questions needing answers over the next few days, weeks and months include their citizenship and eligibility to work in the countries they will live in, who will foot the bill for their travel between the UK and North America and just how much will they divide their time between royal work, patronage work and private work?
Queen Elizabeth II calls royal summit after Harry and Meghan announcement | TheHill
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 02:57
Queen Elizabeth II has summoned several senior members of the royal family to a meeting at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk on Monday after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Meghan MarkleTrump empathizes with Queen Elizabeth II after Harry and Meghan's royal exit Queen Elizabeth II, senior royals search for 'workable solution' following Sussex announcement The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi says impeachment articles coming 'soon' as pressure builds MORE announced this week that they would design a new professional role for themselves and split their time between the United Kingdom and North America.
The meeting will be attended by the queen, Prince Charles and his son, Prince William, the Guardian reported. It will be the first time the entire group has met since Prince Harry and Markle released the news Wednesday, the Guardian reported.
Markle, who is currently in Canada, is also likely to be part of the meeting via conference calling.
The group will reportedly discuss different proposals for the future of the duke and duchess of Sussex, after palace officials and representatives from the U.K. and Canada met this week to discuss how the couple can create their new, ''progressive'' role as royals.
U.K. Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill reportedly took part in negotiations, in addition to aides from Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace, according to the Guardian.
The couple made a shocking announcement Wednesday that they are stepping back from being senior members of the royal family. They also said that they want to work to become ''financially independent.''
Buckingham Palace said that ''discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,'' in a statement issued after the announcement.
''We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,'' the statement read, according to copies shared on Twitter.
A source confirmed to the Guardian that the couple's next steps ''required complex and thoughtful discussions.'' The source added that the Queen has called for the situation to be resolved ''at pace'' and that ''next steps will be agreed at the meeting."
The Guardian reported that royal funding for Prince Harry and Markle will not be a part of the discussions among the continued negotiations. The couple has said that they receive 5 percent of their income from the sovereign grant, which is funded by taxpayers.
Harry is sixth in line for the British throne.
OTG
Amazon says uninstall Honey, which PayPal just paid $4 million for
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 09:34
Honey co-founders Ryan Hudson and George Ruan.
PayPal
Amazon has a beef with the start-up PayPal recently acquired, Honey.
During the height of the holiday shopping season, the e-commerce giant warned some users that the browser extension could be a "security issue."
"Honey tracks your private shopping behavior, collects data like your order history and items saved, and can read or change any of your data on any website you visit," the message, which was posted on Twitter by multiple users, said. "To keep your data private and secure, uninstall this extension immediately."
PayPal paid $4 billion for Honey in December '-- the largest acquisition in the payment company's history. The Los Angeles-based start-up was founded in 2012, and lets users find coupons while shopping online. It works through a browser extension known as a "plug-in" that automatically searches for discounts as customers shop on sites like Amazon. Honey makes a commission off each sale and has ushered in 17 million users.
PayPal and Amazon haven't historically worked closely together. PayPal was once a part of Amazon competitor eBay, and Amazon does not accept PayPal as an option in check-out. It also has a competing discount plug-in.
Honey's plug-in has been compatible with Amazon since it hit the market roughly seven years ago. This appears to be Amazon's first public scrutiny of the start-up for security concerns.
"Our goal is to warn customers about browser extensions that collect personal shopping data without their knowledge or consent such as customer name, shipping and/or billing address and payment method from the checkout page," an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC.
A spokesperson for Honey said the extension "is not '-- and has never been '-- a security risk and is safe to use."
"We only use data in ways that directly benefit Honey members '-- helping people save money and time '-- and in ways they would expect. Our commitment is clearly spelled out in our privacy and security policy."
The company said it collects "limited shopping data" and uses it to analyze information on retail websites so users can find the best coupon, but does "not sell your personal information. Ever."
23andMe sold the rights to a drug it developed from its genetic database - The Verge
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 08:19
The genetics testing company 23andMe licensed the rights to a drug it developed in-house to a Spanish pharmaceutical company, Bloomberg reported. This is the first time that the company has directly sold a product it created using the genetic information collected from users.
23andMe has already shared genetic data with pharmaceutical companies. GlaxoSmithKline has the exclusive rights to use its data for drug development, and purchased a $300 million stake in the company in 2018. But those drug companies use the company's data to create their own drugs. In this case, 23andMe identified a drug candidate and conducted animal studies on that drug internally before selling it. The Spanish company, Almirall, will take the product through human trials.
''We've now gone from database to discovery to developing a drug,'' Emily Drabant Conley, 23andMe's vice president of business development, told Bloomberg.
The company's repository of genetic and health data is a gold mine for drug development because researchers can look for relationships between particular genes and health outcomes and target them with therapeutics. The company has genetic data on around 10 million people, and it says around 80 percent agreed to let their anonymized data be used for research, including drug research. The terms of service say that customers who agree to let their data be used will not see any financial benefit, even if that data helps develop a blockbuster drug.
The drug the company sold to Almirall is a molecule that blocks signals from small proteins that are involved in autoimmune diseases. 23andMe targeted the compound to treat psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes red and scaly skin patches.
23andMe told Bloomberg it plans to continue to develop drugs and take them through clinical trials.
US Government-funded Android phones come preinstalled with unremovable malware | Ars Technica
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 07:37
NO FREE LUNCH '-- Phones were sold to low-income people under the FCC's Lifeline Assistance program. Dan Goodin - Jan 9, 2020 9:26 pm UTC
An Android phone subsidized by the US government for low-income users comes preinstalled with malware that can't be removed without making the device cease to work, researchers reported on Thursday.
The UMX U686CL is provided by Virgin Mobile's Assurance Wireless program. Assurance Wireless is an offshoot of the Lifeline Assistance program, a Federal Communications Commissions plan that makes free or government-subsidized phones service available to millions of low-income families. The program is often referred to as the Obama Phone because it expanded in 2008, when President Barack Obama took office. The UMX U686CL runs Android and is available for $35 to qualifying users.
Researchers at Malwarebytes said on Thursday that the device comes with some nasty surprises. Representatives of Sprint, the owner of Virgin Mobile, meanwhile said it didn't believe the apps were malicious.
The first is heavily obfuscated malware that can install adware and other unwanted apps without the knowledge or permission of the user. Android/Trojan.Dropper.Agent.UMX contains striking similarities to two other trojan droppers. For one, it uses identical text strings and almost identical code. And for another, it contains an encoded string that, when decoded, contains a hidden library named com.android.google.bridge.Liblmp.
Once the library is loaded into memory, it installs software Malwarebytes calls Android/Trojan.HiddenAds. It aggressively displays ads. Malwarebytes researcher Nathan Collier said company users have reported that the hidden library installs a variant of HiddenAds, but the researchers were unable to reproduce that installation, possibly because the library waits some amount of time before doing so.
The malware that installs these programs is hidden in the phone's settings app. That makes it virtually impossible to uninstall, since the phone can't operate properly without it. "Uninstall the Settings app, and you just made yourself a pricey paper weight," Collier wrote.
The second unpleasant surprise delivered by the UMX U686CL is something called Wireless Update. While it provides a mechanism for downloading and installing phone updates, it also loads a barrage of unwanted apps without permission. The app is a variant of Adups, an app from a China-based company by the same name. In 2016, researchers caught Adups
surreptitiously collecting user data on hundreds of thousands of low-cost phones from BLU.
"From the moment you log into the mobile device, Wireless Update starts auto-installing apps," Collier said. "To repeat: there is no user consent collected to do so, no buttons to click to accept the installs, it just installs apps on its own."
While all of the installed apps Malwarebytes examined were clean and free of malware, the presence of a feature that automatically installs apps poses an unacceptable risk, particularly since removing the feature prevents the phone from receiving updates. Collier's post classified Wireless Update as malware, but J(C)r´me Segura, Malwarebytes' head of threat intelligence, told me its actual classification is a PUP, or potentially unwanted program, since there's no evidence the apps that are installed are malicious.
In any event, the two apps analyzed by Malwarebytes make use of the UMX U686CL a bad choice. The fact that it's made available to low-income users only worsens the insult. Malwarebytes said it notified Assurance Wireless of its findings and asked why the phone it sells comes with preinstalled malware. So far, no one has responded. In an email, Sprint officials said: "We are aware of this issue and are in touch with the device manufacturer Unimax to understand the root cause, however, after our initial testing we do not believe the applications described in the media are malware."
It's not hard to find online discussions like this one complaining of annoying displayed ads and apps automatically installing on the device without user permission. A similar thread discusses ads that display on the homescreen even when a browser isn't running.
Over the years, preinstalled malware has been found on a raft of low-cost Android phones from a variety of providers and manufacturers. An incomplete list includes a
backdoor on hundreds of thousands of BLU devices, a
powerful backdoor and rootkit also on BLU devices, and
covert downloaders on 26 different phone models from various manufacturers.
It seems the price people often pay for low-cost phones is compromised security and privacy. While many users may not be able to afford them, buying phones from mainstream and well-known providers located outside of China is likely to be a better choice.
Post updated at 1/9/2020, 3:24 PM California time to add comment from Sprint.
Ring confirms it fired four employees for watching customer videos
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 09:39
Ring has responded to the US Senators demanding answers to the security issues it's facing in a letter, which was obtained by Motherboard. In it, the Amazon-owned company has admitted that it had to fire employees for watching customers' videos beyond what they were allowed to. Ring received the four complaints over the course of four years, and it opened an investigation for each one of them. While all the employees involved had the authority to view customer videos, Ring said they accessed or attempted to access data that "exceeded what was necessary for their job functions."
In addition to terminating the employees, Ring said it limited data access to smaller number of staff members. At the moment, only three employees can access stored customer videos. The company also clarified in the letter that while it gave an R&D team in Ukraine access to video data, that team can only watch publicly available videos and videos from employees, contractors and their friends who consented to be part of the program.
Ring recently pledged to beef up its security measures, most likely in response to all the flak it's gotten over various security issues. Motherboard discovered last year that Ring makes its security video footage available to local police, and it's also facing a lawsuit due a series of hacks that allowed infiltrators to digitally harass device owners. One of its recent efforts is requiring new signups to activate two-factor authentication -- a move that's nowhere near good enough for Senator Ron Wyden.
The Senator said in a statement:
"Requiring two-factor for new accounts is a step in the right direction, but there are millions of consumers who already have a Ring camera in their homes who remain needlessly vulnerable to hackers. Amazon needs to go further -- by protecting all Ring devices with two-factor authentication. It is also disturbing to learn that Ring's encryption of user videos lags behind other companies, who ensure that only users have the encryption keys to access their data."
Motherboard
CES
Roomba Maker's Future Robot Will Have Arms, May Do Dishes - Bloomberg
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 10:15
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I built my own glamorous vibrator at CES and it was magical
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 07:25
I don't need to know what's inside my vibrator, I just need it to get me off.
At least, that's what I used to think before I had the privilege of building my very own vibrator at Crave's Pleasure Factory on the CES show floor. At the activation, folks were invited to quite literally take pleasure into their own hands by assembling a Crave Duet (its flagship product) with the help of the very engineer who helped design it.
Heard of Build-A-Bear? Yah. This is not that.
Image: zlata ivleva
Crave is, in essence, vibrator bling. It made a name for itself by creating clitoral stimulators that are not only fantastic toys, but also double as gorgeously sophisticated pieces of jewelry. The company's most iconic product, the Vesper, is a pinpoint vibrator you can wear as a dangling necklace.
SEE ALSO: We're in a sex toy revolution. Here's how you can join.
At CES, Crave announced two brand new, glamorous additions: the Vesper Tease and Touch. These finger vibes are worn as a ring in either silver or 24k gold and come in two different sizes. Slated for release this summer, the Tease and Touch were in development for a whopping eight years '-- which goes to show exactly how much intricate engineering is required to balance these equal feats of beauty and function.
That's part of the idea behind Crave's build-a-vibe experience. By inviting people to make their own pleasure tools, it not only creates a safe space for them to talk openly about their desires, but also an opportunity to learn about the advanced tech that goes into making them.
The Vesper Tease and Touch make *quite* the pair
Image: zlata ivleva
As last year's sex toy CES scandal demonstrated, the tech industry often has a hard time taking engineering in women's pleasure products seriously. Or, at the very least, the gatekeepers of tech are often too uncomfortable to even consider them as legitimate technological innovations.
But when you see the nuts and bolts of what goes into the Crave Duet with your own eyes, it's hard to deny.
On the surface, the pronged vibe is all bespoke, sleek fashion. Just underneath the surface, though, there's a powerful motor with focused vibration capabilities notorious for packing a punch beyond its slim weight class. There's also a circuit board, making it USB rechargeable. In fact, in this special edition of the Duet, you can even hack the vibrator through a web application on your computer, allowing you to customize its pattern.
What color is your pleasure: black, red, or purple?
Image: ZLATA IVLEVA
So much care and consideration goes into every piece of the Duet that I became obsessive about making my little vibrator baby absolutely perfect. I first chose her color, deliberating on red to reflect my fiery personality, purple for funsies, and black for my soul. I went with black. Then, I gently coated her parts in silicone grease, which ensured the vibe would be fully waterproof. After all was said and done, turning on my handcrafted Duet felt a little like bringing a small life into this world. Or, you know, at least a lot of pleasure.
That's what so great about Crave's whole mission statement '-- to not only provide pleasure, but also create a conversation starter.
For a long time, vibrators were something we kept hidden and treated like objects of shame or even disgust. But the aesthetic beauty of Crave's toys not only turn them into an opportunity for dialogue that normalizes women's sexual pleasure, but also imbue the vibrator with the pride, dignity, and class it deserves.
Men can keep their expensive watch culture or whatever. At least our expensive shiny toys let us cum anywhere we want to.
Delicate, but powerful
Image: ZLATA IVLEVA
It's not just naughtiness that makes it exciting to wear your vibrator around your neck or ring finger in public '-- it's much more wholesome than that. There's something special and revolutionary about making the decision to buy a tool that's exclusively for your pleasure. It's momentous. The relationship between a girl and her vibrator is almost sacred. At times, the significance of that can feel undercut by all the gauche and gauzy designs that still proliferate throughout the sex toy industry.
While building my Duet, the purpose of all its careful design and engineering became very clear: Women's pleasure deserves this. We deserve luxurious indulgence. We deserve the best that engineering has to offer. And we deserve to literally wear our satisfaction with pride.
Crave's toys sure are a statement '-- but what they say goes far beyond just fashion.
EuroLand
Guy Verhofstadt on Twitter: "Facebook will continue to allow people to make false claims & spread disinformation, believing regulation should come from Governments. Ok, then it is clear to me the EU should regulate & take control. A voluntary appr
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 18:02
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Armageddon
Ivanka CES commentary
Adam,
In show 1207, you were discussing Ivanka Trump at CES,
and her comments about skills without a Bachelors Degree.
I’m a Dude named Ben working in the US defense industry.
Over the last 2 years, I’ve seen a lot of new hires with the new title
“non-technical intern”. They are computer science and engineering undergrads
enrolled in the local university and community college. As far as they know,
they are not participating in any type of internship program, and are not
receiving college credit. They have been hired as part-time employees, and are
assigned to projects that are behind schedule, so they are being asked to work
full time hours.
We are a non-union shop, so I don’t know why there is an
emphasis on the “non-technical intern” job title. They are absolutely doing the
same task as full-time engineers with decades of experience, but for less money
and benefits.
I think Ivanka’s comments were signaling to the industry
that it’s OK to lower the standards for hiring. As the number of candidates
increases, supply will outpace demand, wages will lower, and profits will
increase.
Sincerely,
Ben
BSEE, MSEE, Dude, and
Producer of Da Bes Podcas in Da Universe
Drones
Behind the mysterious drone activities in Colorado, Nebraska and elsewhere | NORIO HAYAKAWA
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 09:28
(CLICK ABOVE FOR ENLARGEMENT '' '' information unverified '' '' first please check this item for a more plausible explanation, i.e., the government testing a new drone-based search and reconnaissance technology '' '' and now check out the latest '' '' Drone invasion, a false alarm !! '' '' zero evidence of suspicious activity)
'' '' source unconfirmed, but possibly from Russian Ministry of Defense:
A highly-classified ''OF SPECIAL IMPORTANCE'', over 300-page appendix documenting current surveillance activities of the 90th Missile Wing as it pertains to a mysterious massive drone search currently being conducted over their vast Great Plains intercontinental nuclear warhead armed ballistic missile fields '' '' a massive drone search operation that's now moved from the ICBM fields in Colorado to those in Nebraska '' '' which strongly suggests ''something'' is being urgently being sought after '' '' the worst feared scenario of which is a ''gone missing'' nuclear warhead.
Mysterious massive drone search operation has begun over vast Great Plains intercontinental ballistic missile fields.
According to the meager portions of this highly-classified report permitted to be openly discussed among national security, intelligence and defense ministry officials, on 31 May 2019, MoD analysts noted that US Air Force Colonel Peter M. Bonetti had taken command of the 90th Missile Wing and its LGM-30 Minuteman Missile Launch Sites '' '' a wing comprised of 4,200 military, civilian and contractor personnel who defend the United States with combat-ready airmen and nuclear forces from their base at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base located in Cheyenne-Wyoming '' '' with it worth noting that not far from where these mysterious drones were first sighted, F.E. Warren Air Force Base's intercontinental ballistic missile fields begin.
Upon Colonel Bonetti assuming command of the 90th Missile Wing and its intercontinental ballistic missiles, this report details, a retrofitting operation of all of the ICBM's under his command was begun to replace their Electro Explosive Devices (EEDs) '' '' which are explosive or pyrotechnic components that initiate an explosive, burning, electrical, or mechanical train activated by the application of electrical energy '' '' and as employed in ICBM's, can explode them in flight in the event of false launches or misfires '' '' but in 2017, saw the Australian Explosive Ordnance Safety Symposium warning in their hypothetical assessment document titled ''Susceptibility Of 1A/1W Electro-Explosive Devices In The ADF Baseline RF Environment'' that EEDs could be inadvertently, or even maliciously trigged to explode by certain radio frequencies (RF) they weren't protected against.
As the retrofitting of ICBM's and other nuclear weapons is a common occurrence among all of the world's military forces having such weapons as new discoveries of potential flaws and technological advances are made, this report continues, the activities of Colonel Bonetti and his 90th Missile Wing raised no concerns among MoD analysts '' -that is until a small army of US Department of Justice prosecutors, along with FBI and US Department of Defense intelligence agents, descended upon Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in the early morning hours of 25 November '' '' and who quickly followed their arrival by conducting a raid on a virtually unknown to the American people defense contractor named Capco Incorporated located in Grand Junction, Colorado'--which is the company that makes the Electro Explosive Devices (EEDs) being retrofitted into these ICBM's '' '' but whose only public news about came a week later when the US Department of Justice, on 3 December, released a little noticed document titled ''Grand Junction Weapons Manufacturer CAPCO To Pay Over $1 Million To Resolve Allegations Of Fraud As To Grenade Launchers It Supplied To The U.S. Army''.
Immediately following the US Department of Justice releasing their document about Capco Incorporated on 3 December, this report concludes, a rapid deployment was made into Francis E. Warren Air Force Base by operators and technicians belonging to a defense contractor named Black River Systems who are located in Utica-New York '' '' whom, this past May-2019, the US Air Force awarded an $88,733,141 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for operational counter-small unmanned aircraft systems (s-UAS) open systems architecture software/hardware systems '' -and whose drones are currently making a massive and systematic grid-by-grid search of the Great Plains intercontinental nuclear warhead armed ballistic missile fields '' '' a massive search, however, only being conducted in the night time hours and at low levels '' '' thus providing a strong clue as to what is being urgently searched for, as underground nuclear warheads being sought in daylight are near undetectable because of what is called ''background radiation'' caused by the Sun'--and has led MoD intelligence analysts to compile a terrifying working hypothesis that says upon Colonel Bonetti assuming command of the 90th Missile Wing whose ICBMs were being retrofitted by Capco Incorporated technicians with new and updated Electro Explosive Devices, he discovered that at least one of these nuclear warheads had gone missing '' '' and based on the massive drone grid search currently underway, may be secreted into one of the hundreds of abandoned ICBM underground missile silos scattered all over the States of Colorado, Nebraska, etc.
READ THE FOLLOWING ITEMS ALSO:
Drone experts believe military or military contractor, responsible for Colorado drone mystery:
https://kdvr.com/2020/01/04/drone-experts-believe-military-or-military-contractor-responsible-for-colorado-drone-mystery/
IS THE GOVERNMENT TESTING A NEW DRONE-BASED SEARCH AND RECONNAISSANCE TECHNOLOGY?
BUT HERE IS THE LATEST:
DRONE INVASION, A FALSE ALARM !! '' '' ZERO EVIDENCE OF SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY
LIMON, COLORADO '' JANUARY 2: Lincoln County Sheriff Deputy Justin Allen stands outside of his squad car looking up at the night sky on January 2, 2020 near Limon, Colorado. Lincoln County Sheriff's office is working with surrounding counties to figure out who is behind the mystery drones flying overhead. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)'...'...'...
Norio Hayakawa's CIVILIAN INTELLIGENCE NEWS SERVICE
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Military-grade drone will fly over San Diego next year - The San Diego Union-Tribune
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 08:55
The skies are clear for a local defense contractor planning to test fly large military drones over San Diego next year.
Poway-based defense contractor General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., in partnership with NASA, developed SkyGuardian drones, which it says are improved versions of the Predator, its military drones associated with the War on Terror.
People involved in the demonstration next year say the SkyGuardian '-- a drone with a 79-foot wingspan and surveillance capabilities of over 2,000 feet'-- will be used for ''mapping of critical infrastructure'' in the San Diego region. The path and location of the flights were not disclosed.
General Atomics' goal is to integrate SkyGuardian drones into American skies in a variety of ways in coming years. A test flight in San Diego will figure prominently in demonstrating the drones' civilian capabilities, the company said.
''Accomplishing this goal could open the skies to a multitude of missions that could be carried out using large (drones), including broader support for first responders contending with natural disasters such as floods and forest fires,'' a General Atomics spokesperson said in a statement.
Some city officials and tech experts say they were not aware of the initiative.
Two City Council members, Monica Montgomery and Chris Ward, said they did not know about the initiative and wouldn't comment on it. The other seven members of the council directed the Union-Tribune to other city officials or chose not to comment.
The SkyGuardian (sometimes called the MQ-9B or Predator B) is a relatively new product by General Atomics. Small adjustments were made to the Predator design to make the drone compliant with regulations for American flight paths. General Atomics advertises its unmanned aircraft as ''civilian airspace compliant.''
A General Atomics fact sheet says the drone can be used for firefighting, border patrol and humanitarian assistance by various government agencies. The fact sheet also says the SkyGuardian's intelligence-gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance abilities were developed to support a variety of homeland security and other non-military roles.
''Predator B is closely associated with military missions, the air vehicle performance and sensor-carrying capabilities it offers make the airframe a natural choice for a wide spectrum of non-military uses,'' the fact sheet said.
Chris Gummo, center, and Daniel Long, both mechanics with General Atomics, plugged power cords into a Predator B, one of five unmanned aircraft, provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine at Fort Drum, N.Y. in 2009. Customs and Border Protection were testing the Predator B for use along the U.S.-Canadian border. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth) (AP/ HEATHER AINSWORTH)
(Heather Ainsworth/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
While General Atomics' press release said the city supports the initiative, there is no city official overseeing the test flight, according to the city's public information officer. Instead, a branch within San Diego's Economic Development Corporation, a privately funded non-profit focused on bringing jobs into the region, is helping support the drone initiative on behalf of the city.
The branch is the federal Integrations Pilot Program (IPP), which oversees the use of drones by agencies in San Diego County. It is supposed to connect General Atomics with potential clients who are interested in the ''survey opportunities'' the test flight will offer, officials said.
The Integrations Pilot Program's Project Manager, Katelyn McCauley, said that while General Atomics is not an IPP partner, it supports the initiative because of the company's long history with drones.
The general intention, she said, is not to create mistrust with the public. The defense contractor does not intend to surveil people, she said, and there is no intention to sell military-grade drones to law enforcement agencies.
''They (the drones) do have some capabilities for law enforcement, but none of it is pertaining to surveilling,'' McCauley said. ''It's a very strong, hard line here in San Diego, as well as in the country, that drones are not to be used for surveillance purposes. Just because the capability exists, (it does not) mean we are encouraging any of our partners to use that capability.''
A list of partners that have agreed to the SkyGuardian test flight was not provided.
An article by Defense One said General Atomics officials want the SkyGuardian in American skies by 2025. Company officials, when asked questions by the Union-Tribune, would not confirm that timeline and declined to respond to follow-up questions.
The company said in a June press release that it has conducted more than 100 test flights of the SkyGuardian worldwide to demonstrate its inspection and surveillance capabilities.
Some privacy experts are sounding alarms about the drones' capabilities, especially if it will fly in American skies.
Lucy Suchman, an expert in human-computer interactions, including drones, said in an interview that having a drone with the SkyGuardian's capabilities in urban skies like San Diego's is ''bizarre.''
Companies like General Atomics, she said, are selling surveillance technology to non-military buyers by claiming the public should feel ''tremendously insecure.'' She called that message dangerous.
''There are commercial interests who want to promote and expand these technologies and are very irresponsibly looking for areas of application where they can claim these technologies are solutions to (a) problem,'' said Suchman, a professor of anthropology science and technology at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.
On the other hand, she said, an argument could be made for drones' use in emergency situations '--like fires '-- when waiting for satellite imagery would not be practical.
Technologist Seth Hall, who organizes the local advocacy group TechLEAD San Diego, said the public was kept in the dark on other occasions when the region has implemented surveillance technology. He sees a similar pattern with the SkyGuardian.
''This is just the latest of examples on how surveillance technology is invisibly deployed,'' Hall said. ''Whenever we discover it we're told, 'Don't worry about it. We got it. Everything will be fine.' It starts to feel like we're a frog in a pot of water, and we're thinking 'the temperature is not too bad.' I just don't know if the public knows how quickly this intrusive surveillance technology escalates.''
The San Diego Police Department was at the center of controversy earlier this year over the $30 million smart street lights initiative, which was proposed to City Council in 2016 as a way to reduce energy. The lights' smart sensors record and collect data on parking, vehicle and pedestrian counts, air temperature and pressure, and humidity. They also record video.
A year after the smart lights' implementation, San Diego police were using it as a crime-solving tool, drawing criticism from some who noted that law enforcement's use was not discussed in public nor approved by city officials in advance. Three city council members called for a moratorium on the program.
This time the San Diego Sheriff's Department says it is not interested in using drones like the SkyGuardian. And San Diego police Captain Jeff Jordon said he had not heard about the SkyGuardian but believes the public would not react well to a military-drone above the city.
''People are concerned about the smart street lights, so I can only imagine how they would feel about these,'' Jordon said.
An MQ-9B SkyGuardian at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, in 2018. The same type of unmanned aircraft will begin flying over San Diego in 2020.
Hall is skeptical. He said that while law enforcement may say there is no interest in drones now, that could easily change. After all, he said, license plate readers, which were initially a military-grade technology, are used now by local and federal law enforcement agencies.
He said a lack of public discussion about what technology is implemented in the San Diego region leads to ''eroding relationships'' with law enforcement.
''It doesn't matter if the police department doesn't want it or not; it's a question for the public,'' Hall said. ''It's a question for San Diegans '-- do we want it? Do we want to be policed that way? It's not up to the police; it shouldn't be their call.''
Barry Summers, a North Carolina-based researcher who studies the trend of military-grade drones being introduced into American airspace, agreed.He said in an interview that military-grade drones were made for surveillance in warfare but are being used to violate Americans' rights.
''Allowing this powerful surveillance technology to be turned inward on American citizens isn't something that should happen without a robust public debate,'' Summers said. ''The implications for civil liberties are too profound. We live in an age where every capability to spy on innocent Americans that can be abused, has been abused.''
General Atomics said its goal is to tackle the challenges preventing commercial unmanned aircraft from operating in civilian airspace, including getting certification for the drones and employing technologies for their safe operation in air traffic.
''NASA and (General Atomics) have a shared goal of seeing UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) fly safely and unencumbered'...'' said Linden Blue, CEO, of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. ''GA-ASI has worked with NASA for more than five years on this goal and we're excited to participate in their next set of demonstrations.''
The Department of Homeland Security already flies Predators over parts of the U.S.- Mexico border. And the California Air National Guard uses Predator-class remotely piloted aircraft on wildfire missions.
In an August 2017 demonstration, General Atomics flew a SkyGuardian from Yuma, Arizona to the company's airstrip in Grey Butte in Palmdale, after it received a waiver from the Federation Aviation Administration. Defense One's technology editor, Patrick Tucker, wrote about the high-tech demonstration.
''The newest version of the (drone's) camera has 720p HD resolution, enough to show faces in a crowd from 2,000 feet up. And the optics are rapidly improving,'' he wrote.
Other kinds of drones '-- commercial drones and consumer drones'-- are already common in American skies. They're smaller, much lighter weight, and fly closer to the ground than military-grade drones.
The SkyGuardian is more technologically advanced and can remain in the air for 40 hours.
General Atomics advertises a weaponized version on its website. The version expected to be used in the San Diego test flight next year will not be weaponized.
McCauley said the SkyGuardian test flight will not cost the city any money, since the project is funded by General Atomics and NASA. A date for the test flight has not been decided, she said.
New US military drone will launch and be recovered mid-air by cargo planes - WeTalkUAV.Com
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 06:46
Last month the US Defense Department military contractor Dynetics won the right to build several reusable drone prototypes referred to as Gremlins.
Dynetics won the contract over other weapons manufacturer such as Lockheed Martin and General Atomics.
This particular type of drone can be dropped from C-130 Hercules aircraft, deploy en masse for a mission and then return and be recovered by the very same plane mid-flight.
According to Dynetics, Gremlins are designed to be low-cost, reusable and dispatched in swarms. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA] are trialling the drones to assess their operational capabilities.
How will the drones be collected once they finish their mission?
Dynetics proposal is that Hercules planes will lower a ''stabilized capture device'' (essentially a long cable) that the drone will fly towards (much like a plane refuelling). The drones will dock, be powered off and be raised inside the plane and are likely to be stored under the plane's wing. Whether this method of retrieval will ultimately prove to be practical when retrieving hundreds of drones remains to be seen. The initial drone trials will only be with C-130 planes but it is likely they will eventually be tested for other types of aircraft.
Dynetics were paid $40 million for the contract and will develop drones ready for testing by the end of 2019. The Gremlin style of drones are intended to perform surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence but may eventually also deliver electronic warfare systems.
Footage of the drone being lowered from a C-130 Hercules aircraft
Drone swarms are likely to be a big part of future warfareWhen deployed in a large group, drone swarms have the possibility to overwhelm the opponents defenses, taking down electronic systems and may even be weaponized in future (now there's a scary thought). The Chinese, Russian and United States militaries are all investing in their drone warfare capabilities, partly through a realization that to not do so, will put them at a substantial disadvantage relative to their adversaries. We can only hope such weapons are seldom, if ever used (although one suspects that is a forlorn hope).
The Drive have an excellent article on th Gremlin program. Check it out!
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Industry Spotlight: Drones In Central New York | Empire State Development
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 06:48
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky recently took part in a White House conference focused on the burgeoning drone industry. A highlight of his Aug. 2 panel discussion on ''The Role of Data and Research and Development in Policymaking,'' was Governor Cuomo's same-day announcement of $5 million in investments that will be used to support the state's unparalleled commitment to the growing Unmanned Aerial Systems industry (UAS) in Central New York.
The money will be used to grow the development of an air traffic management system for drones in a corridor that runs between Syracuse and Rome. Syracuse University and Mohawk Valley Community College, in the process of developing curricula on drone use, will also be instrumental in coordinating research and development efforts in the region.
''We are determined to ensure that our state is well positioned when it comes to the burgeoning unmanned aircraft system industry,'' said Commissioner Zemsky. ''We think you need government as partners in innovation and entrepreneurship, and to leverage the infrastructure that we can bring to the table''.
The August drone research and development policy workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation, held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., was sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology. Panel participants discussed the growth in opportunities in the UAS field, with total job creation numbers expected to top 100,000 by 2025,according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a conference sponsor.
New York State's drone industry investment complements a larger initiative to boost economic growth as a crucial part of the Central NY Rising plan. Drone research, development and manufacturing are key to the region's winning $500 million dollar Upstate Revitalization Initiative plan with almost half of the money expected to be earmarked to grow this developing field.
Another sign of the industry's growing presence in the region: Syracuse will host the upcoming 2016 UTM Convention from Nov. 8-10, with events taking place across Syracuse, and at the Griffiss International Airport in Rome. The convention, featuring keynote briefings from NASA, will be hosted by Empire State Development, the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity and others, including the Air Traffic Controllers Association, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Onondaga County, Oneida County, The NUAIR Alliance, and Syracuse University. Details on the Convention can be found here.
2020
Democrats Are Lagging in Their Dues Payments to the DCCC
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 10:02
House Democrats are woefully behind on dues owed to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to an internal party document provided to The Intercept. The rank-and-file's lagging participation in the party's money chase is being made up for, however, by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's prolific buckraking. By the end of June, she had raised the DCCC more than $43,000,000.
Otherwise, only 11 party members had paid their dues in full, according to the document, a July draft of the ''Member Dues Report'' for the 2019-2020 election cycle. The delinquency doesn't necessarily mean they won't pay at some point during the cycle (though some certainly won't), but the DCCC, naturally, would prefer to have the money as early as possible, for budgeting and planning purposes. Members, meanwhile, prefer to hold on to their campaign cash as a signal of strength, to deter potential opponents considering a bid.
Party members are doing no better in the DCCC's points system, a complex, lesser-known ranking that rewards a variety of activities Democrats can do to hold the majority.
The ''DCCC Points Program,'' as it is dubbed in an internal document , rewards members for their involvement in recruitment efforts and kicks them points if they raise money for the party's House campaign arm, vulnerable incumbents, and candidates vying to flip swing districts. Pelosi is sitting atop the leaderboard with 279 points, while most members have none or just a few.
Power is accumulated in the House by raising and dispersing money to colleagues, a dynamic pioneered by Pelosi's quasi-mentor, the late Rep. Phil Burton, who once held Pelosi's seat; it's now a bipartisan practice. This has been formalized with the DCCC's decades-old practice of asking members to pay ''dues'' to the party committee in charge of reelection efforts and reallocating that money to contested races. Democrats in leadership positions, or who chair so-called money committees, are required to pay higher dues than back benchers. Members are also given a target amount of money they are expected to raise directly for the DCCC, which is separate from their dues payment.
Members of Congress who pay their dues and hit their targets are rewarded with better committee assignments in the future, and more favorable treatment of legislation they author, than members who shirk their dues. Members who don't pay, for instance, are less likely to have their bills or amendments get a floor or committee vote.
The points system the DCCC has worked out adds layers of nuance to the money chase. According to the internal document describing the points program, raising more than $15,000, or hosting an event that raises that amount for vulnerable incumbents, known as front-line members or Red-to-Blue candidates '-- Democrats running in swing seats '-- is worth five points. Traveling to a district to campaign for a candidate, having a staff member volunteer to campaign in a district, and hosting a get-out-the-vote phone bank are each worth three points. For two points, members can do press or fundraising work on behalf of a candidate, including phone or television interviews with local papers, town hall meetings, radio ads, robo calls, or finance meetings. The members are able to log their fundraising activities using an online form .
The point system was created during the 2010 cycle, at the urging of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who argued that a strict focus on money raised, without accounting for other activity that benefits the party electorally, was unfair to members who represented poorer districts. The point system, though, is still overshadowed by the dues sheet. '' It's not really something anyone pays attention to,'' said one House Democrat of the points program. ''It's not nearly as important as how much you've directly given to them.''
Members of Congress can also earn points by meeting with a candidate-recruit on behalf of the DCCC's political department, solicit colleagues on behalf of the DCCC, and hold individual ''money meetings'' to benefit the DCCC. Contributing the maximum legal amount per election to a colleague's candidate committee or leadership PAC, or serving as a special guest at an event that benefits the candidate's committee or leadership PAC, are each worth one point.
There are no points to be earned by registering new voters.
One source of contention early in this congressional term came around the question of using email or social media to raise money for colleagues. When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., learned of the dues structure, she asked if raising money online could qualify. She was told that it would not, and so she let the committee know she would not be paying dues. At the end of the first quarter, she raised roughly $30,000 each for three front-line members online.
Last night @AOC helped raise 3 candidates in tough districts more than 30k each in a few hours. Corporate PACs can give candidates 5K - & it comes with strings. Grassroots $$ lets us stay accountable to the people. That's the power of this movement '-- let's keep building, together
'-- Katie Hill (@KatieHill4CA) April 1, 2019 According to the DCCC points system document, it appears that act should have qualified her for 30 DCCC points '-- redeemable, theoretically, for future favors from party leadership. The point system, though, is based on self-reported information, and Ocasio-Cortez appears not to have reported it to the committee.
The DCCC dues document confirms she has not paid dues and also marks her as having earned zero points total. (Oddly, it says she raised $1,000 for the party committee. It's not clear what that's a reference to; Ocasio-Cortez guessed that it might be a reference to the $1,000 cost for a DCCC issues conference.)
The dues for the 2020 cycle, according to the DCCC dues document, range from $150,000 at the low level to $1,000,000 for the speaker of the House.
The document lays out the price of particular committee assignments. Leadership posts for the second-, third-, and fourth-ranking Democrats '-- currently Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, and Ben Ray Lujn '-- range from $900,000 down to $700,000. The next tier of leadership, which includes Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos, and others, costs just $575,000. Lower-ranking members of leadership owe between $400,000 and $500,000.
That's less than the chairs of exclusive committees have to chip in. Those four '-- Richard Neal, chair of Ways and Means; Frank Pallone, chair of Energy and Commerce; Nita Lowey, chair of Appropriations; and Maxine Waters, chair of Financial Services '-- owe $600,000 each for their gavels. Neal has paid half of his dues, while Lowey and Pallone have paid just under $200,000. Waters hasn't made any dues payments yet. The document also lists a goal for money-raised, which it puts at $1.2 million for each of the four. The dues report claims Waters has raised just $40,500, compared to $3.3 million for Neal, $1.4 million for Pallone, and $160,400 from Lowey. (Neal, Pallone, and Lowey are facing primary challenges.)
On those so-called money committees, like Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, even freshman members are asked to pay higher dues. That's because those committees have jurisdiction over effectively every major industry, giving members a leg-up in demanding checks from corporations who need '-- or oppose '-- legislation before the panel. It is also valuable for industries to have committee members write letters to agencies they oversee.
Chairs of committees not lucky enough to oversee commercially prosperous industries owe just $300,000 in dues and have a listed goal of raising $300,000, compared to the money committees' $1.2 million. Indeed, even vice chairs of money committees owe more than chairs of regular committees. Yvette Clarke, vice chair of Energy and Commerce, and Terri Sewell, vice chair of Ways and Means, owe $400,000 each. Subcommittee chairs on money panels owe as much as chairs of plebeian committees: $300,000.
An individual seat on a money committee, meanwhile, will run a member of Congress $250,000. Sad sack rank-and-filers not privileged enough to sit on a money committee owe just $150,000.
Very few Democrats have paid their dues in full, including Lujn, who was DCCC chair in 2016 and 2018 but is now leaving the House to run for Senate. He has paid $0 to his former committee.
Reps. David Trone, of Maryland, and Jim Himes, of Connecticut, two of the wealthier Democrats in the chamber, have paid their dues in full, as have Bustos and Reps. Chellie Pingree, Dutch Ruppersberger, Joe Kennedy, Adam Schiff, Brad Schneider, Tom Suozzi, Bill Foster, Mike Thompson, and Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat who is facing a primary challenge from the left, mounted by Jessica Cisneros.
Rep. Kathy Castor, a Florida Democrat, is chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, the panel that Pelosi created in lieu of the Green New Deal committee demanded by Ocasio-Cortez. She owes just $300,000 for that gavel. It's a good deal, because without the chairmanship, she'd still owe $250,000 for her single seat on Energy and Commerce. Democratic leaders must not see much money to be made in the climate crisis.
Correction: September 3, 2019This story initially reported that the DCCC did not respond to a request for comment. In fact, a spokesperson for the committee had responded. The story has been updated.
Ministry of Truthines
Trump Allies Explore Buyout of Conservative Channel Seeking to Compete With Fox News - WSJ
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 09:53
Allies of President Trump are pursuing an effort to acquire right-leaning news channel One America News Network, according to people familiar with the matter, in a bid to shake up a conservative media market that has been dominated by Fox News.
The investment firm Hicks Equity Partners is looking to acquire the channel and is pitching other wealthy GOP donors to arrange a bid of roughly $250 million for the channel's parent company, the people said. The firm is owned by the family of Thomas Hicks Jr., co-chairman of the Republican National Committee and a close friend of Donald Trump Jr.
The efforts come as Mr. Trump has periodically rebuked Fox News for being too critical'--despite its opinion-show hosts' general support of his administration'--and has praised One America News Network. The channel's opinion programming is known among its cable-news peers for its praise of Donald Trump and its advocacy for conservative causes.
''Over the last 25 years, we have been active media investors. Any interest in OANN is from a purely business standpoint,'' said Rick Newman, a partner at Hicks Equity Partners who is leading the deal with family patriarch and Trump donor Thomas Hicks.
One America News Network President Charles Herring said in an email that the network has become ''a reliable news source for a national audience,'' adding that the company has seen interest from potential suitors from time to time. ''With the 2020 political season in full swing, expressed interest is on the rise,'' he wrote. ''Yet our family didn't build our operations to sell it.''
One America News is owned by San Diego-based Herring Networks Inc., a TV-programming company that was launched in 2004 by Mr. Herring's father, Robert Herring Sr., founder of a circuit-board firm. He launched the news channel in 2013.
The network draws a fraction of the viewers of the cable news industry's titans'--including ratings leader Fox News, MSNBC and CNN'--and isn't as widely distributed.
Last year, One America News said it was available in 35 million homes. Prospective investors have been told a new owner could increase the channel's reach by striking carriage deals with additional pay-TV companies.
The Hicks firm would bring in new management, upgrade production values and offer coverage that caters to viewers whose political outlook is in the center and right-of-center, segments it views as underserved, the people familiar with the matter said.
Fox News parent Fox Corp. and Wall Street Journal parent News Corp share common ownership.
People close to Mr. Hicks Jr. said the RNC co-chair isn't involved in efforts to buy OANN and had resigned his position as a partner at Hicks Holdings to avoid possible conflicts of interest after taking the RNC post. He and other family members could decide to opt into the deal, one of the people said. Another person said Mr. Hicks Jr. was unlikely to participate while he is an official at the RNC.
Mr. Hicks Jr. didn't respond to requests to comment.
Hicks Equity Partners is a subsidiary of Hicks Holdings, the Dallas family office controlled by the elder Thomas Hicks that invests the wealth of the Hicks family. It is in talks with roughly a dozen wealthy Republican donors about the deal.
Doug Deason, a Dallas investor who has donated to the Trump campaign, said in an interview that he is planning to join the bid. Elliott Management Corp., the hedge fund run by Republican megadonor Paul Singer, was pitched but wasn't interested, said people familiar with the matter.
The Hicks firm also plans to pitch Todd Ricketts, the RNC finance chairman, according to a person familiar with the matter. ''The Ricketts have great respect for the Hicks family and always keep an open mind for good ideas,'' said Brian Baker, a spokesman for the Ricketts family.
Part of the discussion among investors about buying the network has centered on the desire to strengthen the conservative voice in media coverage, which they feel offers far more options for liberal audiences, Mr. Deason said.
''The concern is that there's only Fox. The left has so much more,'' Mr. Deason said.
Some Republican donors say privately that Fox News isn't doing enough to toe the party line, according to people familiar with the matter. They have noted, for instance, that the network doesn't always carry the president's full campaign rallies live on air, the people added.
A Fox News spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
One America News Network, also known as OANN, has served as a launchpad for prominent conservative commentators, such as current Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren.
Mr. Trump has favorably contrasted the smaller cable channel with Fox News.
Though the president routinely cites Fox News's coverage and quotes its programs, he also has expressed some dissatisfaction with the network in recent months. ''Only pro Trump Fox shows do well. Rest are nothing,'' he tweeted in December.
Last year, before Fox News anchor Shepard Smith left the channel in August, he tweeted, ''Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith, the lowest rated show on @FoxNews. Actually, whenever possible, I turn to @OANN!''
In December, One America News worked with Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on a series of interviews with current and former Ukrainian officials aimed at justifying Mr. Giuliani's push for investigations in Ukraine that could benefit the president politically. The attempt to press Ukraine to launch those investigations helped set off the impeachment inquiry of the president the fall. The president has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Trump retweeted several posts by the network about the series and that month praised One America News for ''doing incredible reporting.''
The Hicks family's wealth stems from the senior Mr. Hicks's co-founding of the now-defunct private-equity firm Hicks Muse Tate & Furst Inc., a leading media investor of the 1990s and 2000s. Its portfolio included hundreds of radio stations that made up what was then the largest radio broadcasting company in the country. Hicks Muse sold that company to Clear Channel Communications Inc., now known as iHeartMedia Inc.
Hicks Equity Partners hasn't viewed the landscape for media deals as attractive in recent years, believing valuations were inflated and the industry was fully consolidated, said a person familiar with the firm's views.
The family is also known for investing in sports teams. The family at one time owned teams including the English soccer club Liverpool, the Texas Rangers baseball team and the Dallas Stars hockey team.
'--Benjamin Mullin contributed to this article.
Write to Juliet Chung at juliet.chung@wsj.com, Corrie Driebusch at corrie.driebusch@wsj.com and Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com
They Made a Movie Out of It | James Pogue
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 06:43
In early 2018, I was spending a warm West Hollywood Sunday evening on the balcony of a young director of film development, drinking a beer and hoping for an early night[*]. I had planned to sleep on his couch, but when I suggested we turn in, he said, ''Nah, just take my bed, I'm probably not sleeping tonight.'' I asked why not, and he looked momentarily surprised, as though it was strange I wasn't aware of the impending event that had a small but important segment of the film and publishing industries alive with anticipation at the two ends of the great book-to-film pipeline connecting agents, assistants, film execs, and book scouts through endless emails and group chats. ''That new David Grann story drops at midnight,'' he said.
I expressed mild shock at this, saying it was sadistic for an agent to send out notices to otherwise self-respecting adults calling on them to stay up to read and compose notes on a magazine story instead of trying to sleep before a workday. Surely they would still be expected, as is the custom in the newly big business of turning books and magazine pieces into films, to send the regular weekly memo about recent publications their peers and bosses might find interesting enough to read, or maybe to offer on, and to be alert and shrewd at the regular meetings about the reading that everyone did over the weekend. The expectation now is to mine, on a bulk scale, for writing that producers might want to buy. In this case, the aim was to acquire a story by a staff writer at The New Yorker who I personally don't consider one of his generation's great talents'--though living in Los Angeles in the era of book-to-film has given me reason to wonder about the acuity of my taste in literature. My friend gave me a slightly patronizing look, implying that he didn't need, at that moment, to hear opinions about the great David Grann from a younger writer whose work emphatically does not keep execs and agents awake late on a Sunday night waiting to pull million-dollar triggers. Rather than live as a curmudgeon, I would do better to learn from this moment and start producing books and articles that would get me up off his couch and into some serious money. He knew I knew how to do it because he'd told me how, many times.
A Grann story is maybe not an event for the casual reader of American nonfiction, but it is a big deal in Hollywood. The rights to this story and the resulting book-length expansion sold for $5 million to Imperative Entertainment, the producer of movies like All the Money in the World'--a fitting title for the amount invested in Grann. It is already developing a film based on Grann's massively bestselling book Killers of the Flower Moon, in partnership with Paramount. Leonardo DiCaprio is to star and Martin Scorsese to direct, and Imperative had to pay, again, $5 million for the privilege. The publication of this latest piece'--an adventure yarn about a guy who dies trying to walk across Antarctica'--broke no news and had no pretensions to social or literary value. But it still set off a quiet acquisitive frenzy familiar to certain story-driven works of middle-brow prose in that style that Grann has come to master. Getting a sneak of a draft of a Grann story is a point of pride in Hollywood'--in this case a shaggy forty-page .docx that could serve as the seedbed for a film that makes hundreds of millions. There was more at stake in the writing and editing of Grann's story than a magazine's editorial process is built to handle. But, of course, The New Yorker's readership was not the final intended audience, and it would not be its check that mattered most to Grann. So who was he writing for?
America's higher echelon of long-form journalists can now expect to make more money from Hollywood than they do from the publications that print their stories.
We are now in the mature stage of a book-to-film boom that is quietly transforming how Americans read and tell stories'--and not for the better. The power of this force is hard to quantify because intellectual property is now being bought in Hollywood in such unprecedented volume and diversity of source material. Almost all written works that achieve prominence today (and many more that don't) will be optioned, and increasingly it is becoming rare for film and television projects to move forward without intellectual property attached. America's higher echelon of long-form journalists can now expect to make more money from Hollywood than they do from the publications that print their stories. The emergence of streaming services from Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Disney, and even Walmart has driven a demand for writing on a bulk commodity scale at a time when the business of publishing'--especially but not only in the world of magazines'--has largely abdicated its responsibility for paying writers an amount that would secure a decent life.
This new money stream can seem a godsent benediction for a writer looking to buy a home or start a family. When the rights to Nathaniel Rich's interminably long ''Losing Earth,'' written for The New York Times Magazine, sold to Apple for at least $300,000 last year, according to one underbidder, it was a less an indication of the way the world is headed than it was a confirmation of a shift that has already taken place. That particular magazine'--which stands with The New Yorker in a class of two as by far our most prominent outlets for long periodical writing'--generally starts contributors out at the same two dollars per word that most big magazines pay, meaning that for a standard feature a writer can hope for a contract totaling $9,000 or so. This can end up breaking down to a pitifully low hourly wage. But even a smallish Hollywood option would more than double that payday instantly, and all the magazines in New York combined would be at a loss to assemble $300,000 to pay for a single story.
The paymaster for Rich's story was a tech giant, as is so often the case now, and it was not at all a coincidence that his epic about climate change unfolded not as a polemic but as a narrative human drama. Nor was it a coincidence that Rich's essay curiously lacked a critique of capital's sway over American politics or the power of our entrenched oligarchy and the central role these forces played in our Losing Earth. This is because the book-to-film complex is bolstered by two imperatives that now govern our nonfiction almost without exception: foreground story as an ultimate good, ahead of deep personal insight, literary style, investigative reporting, or almost any other consideration that goes into the shaping of written work; and do not question too closely the aristocracy of tech and capital that looms over us, the same people who subsidize the system that produces America's writing. It's impossible to say whether Rich had these considerations at the top of his mind as he shaped the piece, but it doesn't matter. The power of book-to-film in American writing is in how it sits at the edge of the consciousness of every writer, editor, and podcast producer, a dark energy of the entertainment market that drives wealth and reward. You just have to tell a gripping story and leave the powers-that-be unnamed.
A Case of the IPs
In January, long before I had the idea of writing this piece, I went for a meeting with Dan Fierman, the erstwhile editor-in-chief of Epic Magazine, a company that has become the poster child of this new order. My purpose was not to get information for a jeremiad against tech and Hollywood's baleful impact on American writing. It was to try to get paid. But the meeting got me thinking.
Epic's business model is, in part, to commission and place pieces that are designed to feed the new rapacity of tech and media companies for buyable IP. They offer a remarkably full-service product: they assign stories with an eye to how valuable they'll seem to Hollywood's buyers, and they negotiate magazine placement and the sale of rights in advance. The writer and Epic share the proceeds. From a writer's perspective, this money allows for the ferocious level of focus and dedication that once seemed like a normal requirement to produce important nonfiction but which is now difficult for anyone who doesn't have wealthy parents to summon while working for the cut-rate wages that even big outlets like The New York Times Magazine offer today. Epic then edits the pieces in-house and delivers them in more or less final form to a magazine like GQ.
The publications get a fully formed piece and in some cases don't need to do any more work before publishing than to apply a fact-check and copy edit, a fact that anyone who has worked much in magazines could see as a dramatic illustration of the enervation of American journalism in the last couple of decades. Until recently, one of the few endearing qualities of many corporate magazine editors was the intensity they brought to shaping a piece, in the belief'--which in a few cases was fair'--that it was only their singular vision that could bring a story to a level of quality that made it the best possible exponent of what a publication and a writer hoped to show to the world. This feeling still exists in patches'--again, largely in the rarefied precincts of publications like The New Yorker and the Times mag that are still able to regularly produce widely read feats of storytelling and reporting. The lower class of publications'--basically everyone else'--have mostly given up the pretense that they are actors capable of regularly producing major work without outside help, and even when streaming services aren't subsidizing the writing they publish, they often turn to nonprofits funded by generous donors like the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, or Type Investigations (formerly the Nation Investigative Fund) to pay for the work. Not so long ago, Epic's pitch would have seemed wildly offensive to the pride of most magazine editors. Today it represents an uncontroversial and welcome offering to outlets who can't pretend to have other options.
''You have a look and a story,'' a producer once told me when told him I felt uncomfortable tailoring my writing to the needs of tech and media companies. ''Maybe the IP you should be selling is you.''
But there is a wrinkle: almost none of these stories get made into films or television shows. The IP gets bought, and then it disappears into the huge vaults of literature vacuumed up in the short time since the arrival of streaming services sent the market into hyperdrive. Of all the stories Epic has placed since its founding in 2013, only one'--bought, again, by Apple'--has been filmed. It would be reasonable to wonder how anyone is making money off this business, and the short answer is that they aren't; Epic is just one more publishing vehicle that can't make money by actually publishing. The company's real money comes from presenting itself as a curator of elite content, which it offers to brands like Ford and Google in the form of long-form reporting: ''Epic story hunters travel the world in search of true stories that reflect a brand's spirit and ethos,'' their business description read until recently, when Vox Media completed an acquisition of the company for an undisclosed sum[*]. ''Epic turns the stories into documentary films, magazines, books, video games, photo essays, live events, and speeches that express a brand's values.'' This is, of course, the logic of this moment'--that what you might have once thought of as literary publishing is, when you get down to it, just high-status corporate content generation.
This can extend all the way to the commodification of your own personal existence. ''You have a look and a story,'' a producer once told me when I told him I felt uncomfortable tailoring my writing to the needs of tech and media companies. ''Maybe the IP you should be selling is you.'' And what's wrong with shading content a bit toward the needs of a production company looking for neo-Westerns, or to the ''brand values'' of Ford and Google, if they're willing to pay money for it that a publisher will not? Fierman was very clear-eyed about all this, and I rather enjoyed talking to him, given that so much of being a writer these days (and to be fair it has always been thus) involves sitting around talking about how hard it is to make money being a writer. It would be untoward to quote him here, but he had a cold-blooded focus on getting people paid and a frank willingness to say that the entire model of how writers get paid is broken that I appreciated. I left with a spring in my step, already turning over three or four ideas that I thought were sure-fire option bait.
The Format is the Message
But what kind of writing does this machine want? This is where it gets tricky. Epic has a decent description of it right there on their website, and presumably they know what pleases Hollywood, since they only assign stories that get optioned. ''As fun as fiction, but full of facts,'' it starts.
''You know that feeling you get when a good true-life tale grabs you right from the start? You can't stop turning the page'--because you realize incredible things happen to real people'--and it's hard to believe that what you're reading is nonfiction. That is the kind of story we like to tell. Epic writers travel the world searching for encounters with the unknown. Wartime romance, unlikely savants, deranged detectives, gentlemen thieves, and love-struck killers: stories that tap into the thrill of being alive.''
This is more or less how most editors I know describe what they want these days. One'--clearly hoping to land stories that would get bought for film since he was hardly offering enough money to make writing a feature for him worth it otherwise'--recently sent me a call asking for ''ripping yarns, stories of true crime, of loves lost and won. Rivalries in sports, tech, and entertainment. Chronicles of dreams realized and broken. We want to take readers on spell-binding adventures, introduce them to powerful jerks they don't know (or don't know enough about), weirdos, eccentrics, and folks in search of redemption.''
This email almost made me throw my laptop off my balcony. We all know this kind of storytelling, even if we don't exactly have a name for it. It is your non-friend's favorite true-crime podcast. It is the magazine story that the documentary you just watched was based on, and it is the novel that was based on the real event that the even-better magazine piece described and that will soon be a television show. It is the books that now dominate the bestseller lists by writers like Grann or Patrick Radden Keefe or Gillian Flynn, which have all been pre-engineered to read like movie thrillers long before anyone even sat down to start on the script.
We think less about what this kind of writing isn't. These editors asking you to rip the yarn never talk about politics beyond a possible desultory nod toward wanting stories from writers of ''diverse backgrounds.'' They do not talk about voice or literary style. They do not ask for excavations of an inner life or the forces of history or any of the things that once would have made a work of writing lasting. A writer may find clever ways to worm these things in, but in the end they are ancillary goods. The desire is always for work that puts narrative ahead of all other considerations, and this is the kind of writing that now dominates our literature: it describes the world without having a worldview. Which is a workable definition of the kind of writing most easily converted into IP.
This circumstance didn't emerge because a handful of tech companies suddenly started competing to buy all the stories that American writers can produce. Anyone with an interest in the history of American letters already knows how in the 1950s the rise of the MFA workshop system produced an imperative toward a show-don't-tell, narrative-first formula for fiction writing. This was, in large part, because the first prominent director of the first prominent workshop program wanted to cultivate a kind of writing that supported American political orthodoxy'--a detail that has important echoes for today. Work that placed story ahead of political or moral considerations had the convenient feature of being unthreatening to power, and it was this kind of writing that the program managed to make into the unquestioned standard for quality in American fiction. More than half of the MFA programs that arose in the wake of Iowa's rise'--funded by donations from the CIA and by America's mid-century corporate patricians'--were founded by graduates of this program. Over time, many readers and critics came to see workshop-style writing as the standard for quality fiction, and many still do'--a fact that writers are aware of, ambiently or otherwise. Writing has always involved some level of accommodating power and public taste.
Like any youngish American writer, I understood this implicitly just after I graduated college in 2010, at a moment following the financial crisis when American magazines were shutting down almost faster than it was possible to keep track of. There was a general panic in New York that the reading public no longer actually wanted to read, and this produced a frantic search for new forms and delivery mechanisms for American literature. Life was speeding up, the world was getting more serious, and nonfiction reporting delivered express, to new devices, writing that would help readers understand the swirling chaos around them.
We are now in the mature stage of a book-to-film boom that is quietly transforming how Americans read and tell stories, and not for the better.
This was also the moment that Amazon explicitly set out to destroy the system by which books were published and sold in this country, and when Facebook and Google began their colonization of the business of American journalism. In short order, these companies became the windows through which almost all writing gets delivered to readers, leading to a situation where nearly 70 percent of internet advertising dollars go to Google, Facebook, and Amazon, while the portion that accrues to the outlets who produce the work is ''barely a rounding error,'' as Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery wrote recently in Mother Jones. We live in a time when our writing finds its audience not through the publishers and journalistic outlets that commission writing, but through a handful of unregulated monopolies that siphon off most of the revenue this work produces and that are almost entirely in control of its delivery to its eventual readers. For years as a young writer working in magazines, I was baffled by the new economy, trying to figure out why even publications that had survived the crash and stabilized their readership still couldn't afford to pay writers what they earned before the Great Recession, or how all the companies that had been expressly engineered to succeed in the new media world couldn't seem to do it either. It turned out that people did still want to read books, and they even wanted to read them in print. So why had book advances not recovered? Many new forces of that era, like Vice, were glad to have an excuse not to pay decent wages, as they treated their writers as a cadre of interchangeable hustling losers, lucky to be writing at all. But mostly the answer was even more banal: Facebook, Amazon, and Google took all the money.
(C) Kiel MutschelknausService Journalism
It should be a lasting mark of shame for most publishers and editors working in the post-crash era that they were active collaborators in the emergence of this state of affairs, pretending that the publishing crisis was created not by a cabal of profit-seekers but by a shift in the desires of American readers. The result has been a dramatic impoverishment both of the quality of our literature and of the lives of the writers who still bother to try to write it.
What we got, instead of resistance, was a body of criticism and a publishing system servile to technology capitalism's influence. The iPad-ready long-form essay was suddenly celebrated as America's great new literary contribution, and magazines, publishers, and businessmen who participated in publishing these savagely slashed the rates that writers could expect to earn, even as they presented themselves as being part of a noble crusade to save American writing. Twitter-averse fogeys like Jonathan Franzen and the idea of the ambitious novel became objects of intense derision from a body of young commentators, often long-form nonfiction writers themselves, who supposed that they were realists about the new tech-driven order. Almost no writing from this aluminum age of essays and long-form reportage survives as an important literary document. What has lasted instead is the fetish for story-driven writing; and a wave of new vehicles designed by bro-ish entrepreneurs rose up to deliver it at a moment when it looked like the entire superstructure that encouraged people to make literature in this country might be about to collapse. Content aggregators and online-only magazines sprung up, curating or publishing long, rich narrative pieces that had succinct, web-ready hooks. All of this was designed to drive reader engagement, to generate clicks and shares'--today's true determinants of the value of a piece of writing. At a very small distance from the publishing world, programs like This American Life were perfecting a formula for the aural delivery of a story in an easily digested narrative capsule'--becoming the model for a whole ecosystem of podcast companies like Gimlet that churn it out on an industrial scale.
It turned out that the people who were still publishing American writing did not want literature, at least not in the quaint sense that we might have understood it a few decades ago. They wanted shareable writing in forms that were easy for publishers to reproduce and that were easy to absorb. Books and magazine pieces had, above all, to be simple to describe and package online, otherwise no one would click on them. The New Yorker, which already had a grimly rigid house style and was in theory economically insulated from the crisis by Newhouse money, moved further this way. All New Yorker stories are now edited to be largely voiceless and precisely formulaic documents, and every time I have a reason to pull up a piece from the archives, I am shocked at how strange and outr(C) the older pieces read'--less like work from a different magazine than documents from an alien society, as indeed they are.
Other magazines perfected their own feature formulas. When the film Argo'--based on a Wired piece by Epic cofounder Joshua Bearman, and assigned and edited into the platonic ideal of the new story-first journalism by the Atavist co-founder Nicholas Thompson'--won Best Picture in 2013, every journalist and producer in America woke up to the fact that this new long-form writing could be turned into real money if you crafted it to suit the needs of Oscar-bait film. The demand for writing powered by formula-driven narrative techniques that did not challenge too much the interests of buyers became a material economic force. Only a few years before, voice-driven and structurally ranging essays had briefly been held up as a great new American form of writing, but these were discarded from the pages of American magazines almost overnight. Magazines did not start paying anything like pre-crash money for this newly prominent form of writing, and many media companies like Vice and Cond(C) Nast began to take the sinister step of insisting on their ownership of the film rights to work by the writers they published, profiting from the new order even as they stole money from the writers who produced the work. But better-established writers were able to redline these contract clauses and set about making money. The other winners of major Oscars that year'--Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Life of Pi'--were all book-to-film projects, too, and the business was then still barely in its infancy. Production companies in L.A. began hiring refugees from publishing faster than they could pack their stuff and leave Brooklyn. Bookish, young English majors who might once have hoped to spend their careers publishing literary fiction became dead-eyed hunters of writing that could be easily turned into a product, obsessively seeking out sneaks of drafts by magazine bros like David Kushner or genre writers like Don Winslow, whose work the new system best rewarded. Young writers, meanwhile, had figured out it was still possible to get paid. You just had to produce IP.
Dispirited Away
The imperative to create convertible IP is now omnipresent. This can be hard to see from outside the now-synonymous worlds of publishing and film'--people have after all been making books into movies for as long as movies have existed. And it can be obscured from within; for many younger writers this appears as just the way things are. ''Options aren't even that big a deal!'' one very successful book scout texted me recently. ''Avg is like $25k for a magazine story.'' I wondered later whether she knows many writers for whom twenty-five thousand dollars don't represent a big deal.
These economic forces now work on the decisions of every writer I know. You can still do important political reporting or literary writing that expresses a distinctive voice and sensibility, especially if you were born rich enough to be able to do it as a hobby. But anyone who wasn't has to think about the marketplace, which above all rewards safe and simple narratives. ''It reminds me of when I was at Harvard,'' a friend who is one of the best and most passionate magazine journalists I know said about this recently. ''It wasn't that people suddenly quit humanities or writing so that they could get a job in finance. It was that everyone knew that working in finance offered the biggest rewards and that the most talented people just naturally gravitated that way. It was an unseen pull.''
This is exactly descriptive of the situation. It may be that, in the average case, Hollywood options don't pay wild sums. But often they offer a payday that makes writing worth it, and no one I know is stupid enough not to have taken note of this. Hollywood and big tech have not yet entirely merged, and there are interesting and original producers, screenwriters, and directors who do good work in the film system. But it's true that in the last ten years, Hollywood has begun to morph into a business designed to develop content that fits easily into delivery systems designed by Amazon, Netflix, Apple, and Google, and that it was their entry into the market for IP that kicked off the book-to-film buying frenzy. They run the market, and from my desk, it looks like it is the same people who wrecked American writing'--by colonizing the ad dollars, by seizing control of how books get delivered, by deliberately designing highly addictive devices and streaming services that pulled our attention away from writing and toward phones and forgettable, mass-produced Netflix shows'--whose tastes and desire for palatable content I now get told my writing ought to be serving.
We have a perfectly good word for the kind of writing and reporting this all encourages: trash.
At least some of my peers are now handing over their working lives to producing cynical content rigged to fit the desires of streaming services, which, when you think about it, is a small tragedy for a world as fucked as ours. Most of the good writers are not. But how could you not at least think about these imperatives when a strange new amalgam of Hollywood and tech offers the greatest rewards for a hit second novel and when magazines pay below rates that were standard three decades ago? Almost all notable book-length nonfiction written in this country emerges as an expansion of work that was first published by a magazine, so'--whether they admit it or not'--magazines are the incubators for the nonfiction writers who describe our world. But these outlets generally make not the barest pretense of trying to pay writers enough to build a life. Instead, editors at prestige outlets increasingly view writing as germinal IP.
We have a perfectly good word for the kind of writing and reporting this all encourages: trash. Trash is how we once thought of work designed above all to fit commercial demands and generic narrative forms. The imperative to produce it isn't going away soon. But I don't think we have to accept it. For one, we (especially me) should all stop writing for magazines. Everyone (especially me) should have stopped writing for magazines years ago. With few exceptions, these places have become formula-driven content dumpsters willing to outsource the obligation of paying their writers to companies in L.A. The problem, like in any bad relationship, is that I still love them.
And we can name the trash this system encourages for what it is. It isn't that we lack writers who can write well'--just like many trash novels written to fit market demands in the fifties hold up well today. Writers have always had to work with and against a marketplace designed by the rich and powerful. But I personally can't help feeling alarmed and enraged by the ways writers are now driven by incentives to fill the needs of creative executives working in Amazon's film studio. It feels wildly dispiriting to see how much my friends and I casually accept the idea that we should craft our work to fit a commercial imperative'--the entire system of our writing and reporting now being market-tested and data-driven and robbed by financial forces of much of its lasting value. There is a part of me that wants to grab all the rewards that come from this system, but it's the part of me good writing is meant to kill.
[*] Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the date that Epic was acquired by Vox Media. The company was acquired for an undisclosed sum in April 2019, not 2013.
[*] Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the time frame when an advance version of David Grann's New Yorker essay ''The White Darkness: A Journey Across Antarctica'' became available. This took place in the first weeks of 2018, not ''last spring.''
1k's sealed indictments
Devlin Barrett on Twitter: "Justice Dept. winds down Clinton-related inquiry once championed by Trump. It found nothing of consequence. https://t.co/jNXhQJMN2A" / Twitter
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 22:00
Well, shouldn't there be a full page announcement in NYTIMES or something. All of the WOMEN who thought
@HillaryClinton was the one they needed to avoid...let this sink in. And you
@morningmika@Morning_Joe + many others owe Hillary Clinton a public apology.
Report: John Huber Completes Review of Clinton Foundation and Uranium One, Finds Nothing'... '' The Last Refuge
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 22:00
As with all things MSM it's worth considering with a dose of salt. However, that said, media are now reporting that U.S. Attorney John Huber has completed his review of the Clinton Foundation and Uranium-One and found nothing worth pursuing.
This would be a major disappointment for Q-decoders and Trusty Planners who claimed John Huber had hundreds of investigators spanning several states and were forecasting: (1) a suspension of Habeas Corpus, (2) military tribunals, (3) mass arrests based on over 60,000 sealed indictments; and (5) pending incarcerations at Guantanamo Bay.
WASHINGTON '' A Justice Department inquiry launched more than two years ago to mollify conservatives clamoring for more investigations of Hillary Clinton has effectively ended with no tangible results, and current and former law enforcement officials said they never expected the effort to produce much of anything.
John Huber, the U.S. attorney in Utah, was tapped in November 2017 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to look into concerns raised by President Trump and his allies in Congress that the FBI had not fully pursued cases of possible corruption at the Clinton Foundation and during Clinton's time as secretary of state, when the U.S. government decided not to block the sale of a company called Uranium One.
As a part of his review, Huber examined documents and conferred with federal law enforcement officials in Little Rock who were handling a meandering probe into the Clinton Foundation, people familiar with the matter said. Current and former officials said that Huber has largely finished and found nothing worth pursuing '-- though the assignment has not formally ended and no official notice has been sent to the Justice Department or to lawmakers, these people said. (read more)
Justice Dept. winds down Clinton-related inquiry once championed by Trump. It found nothing of consequence.
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 22:40
(C) Simon Dawson/Reuters Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during an event promoting "The Book of Gutsy Women" at the Southbank Centre in London.
A Justice Department inquiry launched more than two years ago to mollify conservatives clamoring for more investigations of Hillary Clinton has effectively ended with no tangible results, and current and former law enforcement officials said they never expected the effort to produce much of anything.
John Huber, the U.S. attorney in Utah, was tapped in November 2017 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to look into concerns raised by President Trump and his allies in Congress that the FBI had not fully pursued cases of possible corruption at the Clinton Foundation and during Clinton's time as secretary of state, when the U.S. government decided not to block the sale of a company called Uranium One.
As a part of his review, Huber examined documents and conferred with federal law enforcement officials in Little Rock who were handling a meandering probe into the Clinton Foundation, people familiar with the matter said. Current and former officials said that Huber has largely finished and found nothing worth pursuing '-- though the assignment has not formally ended and no official notice has been sent to the Justice Department or to lawmakers, these people said.
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The effective conclusion of his investigation, with no criminal charges or other known impacts, is likely to roil some in the GOP who had hoped the prosecutor would vindicate their long-held suspicions about a political rival. Trump, though, has largely shifted his focus to a different federal prosecutor tapped to do a separate, special investigation: U.S. attorney in Connecticut John Durham, who Attorney General William P. Barr assigned last year to explore the origins of the FBI's 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.
That FBI investigation was being supervised by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in late 2017, when Trump and his supporters were pressuring senior law enforcement officials to appoint a second special counsel to pursue Clinton.
''Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn't looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary and the Dems,'' the president tweeted at the time.
Sessions did not appoint a second special counsel, but weeks later sent a letter to Huber telling him to ''review'' a wide array of issues related to Clinton. They included the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One matters, along with the FBI's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state and alleged leaks by former FBI director James B. Comey. At the time, Sessions was facing persistent public and private criticism from Trump, who was upset over his recusal from the Russia probe.
''Your recommendations should include whether any matters not currently under investigation warrants the opening of an investigation, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources or further investigation, and whether any matters would merit the appointment of a Special Counsel,'' Sessions wrote.
A spokeswoman for Huber referred questions to Justice Department headquarters, where a spokeswoman declined to comment.
Conservative lawmakers, particularly then-Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and members of the Freedom Caucus, were initially encouraged by Huber's assignment, seeing it as a sign that Clinton faced new legal jeopardy. Huber was a prosecutor with bipartisan credentials '-- having been named the U.S. attorney first by President Barack Obama before he was retained in the Trump administration.
But from the start, senior officials inside the Justice Department viewed Huber's task as unlikely to lead to anything of significance beyond appeasing those angry lawmakers and the president.
''We didn't expect much of it, and neither did he,'' said one person familiar with the matter, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of persistent political sensitivities connected to the 2016 election. ''And as time went on, a lot of people just forgot about it.''
A spokesman for Sessions declined to comment.
Clinton and her family have been subjected to significant law enforcement and other scrutiny over the years '-- though the various probes have mostly delivered reputational blows, rather than legal ones. When she ran against Trump in 2016, the FBI investigated her use of a private email server to determine whether she had mishandled classified information when she was secretary of state. Officials ultimately determined the case should be closed without charges. The State Department more recently concluded a multiyear probe of its own into the matter, but concluded there was no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by employees.
The Clinton family foundation has separately faced investigation over the years on vague corruption allegations, though so far those probes have not produced any charges.
Huber's work has been distinct from a number of sensitive investigations into politically fraught cases, including Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's probes of the FBI's handling of the Trump campaign investigation, and the FBI investigation into how Clinton used the private email server. Those two investigations resulted in lengthy reports documenting FBI missteps and failures.
Huber's assignment was separate from the ongoing investigation overseen by Durham, and Justice Department officials believe the Connecticut U.S. attorney's work will be far more consequential. Durham is weighing whether to charge a former FBI lawyer for altering an internal email that misled other officials on a key fact related to surveillance applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. He is also looking into other issues surrounding FBI and CIA activities during the Russia investigation, according to people familiar with the matter.
Huber's tasking was nebulous from the start. Some people involved in the matters he was said to be reviewing expressed surprise that they were not contacted by the U.S. attorney, and wondered privately what he was doing.
Some in the Justice Department considered him more reviewer than investigator. He would get involved, people familiar with the matter said, only if other cases were not being handled properly.
By the time Mueller filed his lengthy report last spring, Huber's work was largely done, these people said.
When Trump pushed Sessions out of the Justice Department in November 2018, Matthew G. Whitaker became acting attorney general. Whitaker, according to people familiar with the conversations, tried to push Huber to be more aggressive in his work, but Huber felt he had looked at everything he could and that there was not much more to do, these people said. Whitaker did not respond to messages seeking comment.
After Barr was confirmed as attorney general early last year, the department had still said nothing publicly about the result of Huber's work, focusing instead on releasing Mueller's findings.
Barr, who served as attorney general during the George H.W. Bush administration as well, was among the conservative voices in Washington who had previously suggested there was possible criminal wrongdoing in the Uranium One matter, though he tempered those comments during his confirmation.
Republicans questioned whether there was misconduct in the U.S. government's decision to not block a 2010 acquisition in which Russia's atomic energy agency, Rosatom, acquired a controlling stake in Uranium One, a Toronto-based company. The deal meant that Rosatom received rights to about 20 percent of the uranium extraction capacity in the United States.
That transaction had a tenuous connection to Clinton, who was running the State Department at the time.
Under obscure government rules, the deal required approval from a multiagency board because it involved giving a foreign government control of an American business commodity with national security implications. The board, called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, is composed of representatives from nine agencies, including the State Department. Clinton herself was never on the CFIUS board.
In rare cases, CFIUS can decide to intervene and block a corporate merger or acquisition if the board feels the risk to U.S. national security is too great.
Conservatives questioned whether Clinton may have manipulated CFIUS to let the acquisition proceed, but current and former officials have denied that, saying such a decision was handled well below the level of the secretary of state.
Conservatives also demanded an aggressive investigation into whether wealthy individuals and governments may have made donations to the Clinton Foundation in the hopes of getting favors from the State Department. That investigation became the subject of escalating tensions within the FBI and Justice Department in 2016, and was restarted after the election, but has not gained traction, according to people familiar with the matter.
SJW
Marshall Mcluhan Napalm bomb with a lot like social media where technology removed you from the target
University of Connecticut Student Narrowly Avoids Jail For Using the N-Word '' Summit News
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 03:11
Politics WDR2 accused of using climate change hysteria to indoctrinate kids to hate their family.
German state broadcaster WDR2 faced protests after it broadcast a video in which a group of children were taught to sing about how their grandmas were ''environmental pigs'' for driving non-electric vehicles and eating meat.
The controversy began after WDR2 aired the clip in which the kids sing, ''My grandma drives in the chicken coop with her motorcycle'...that's thousands of gallons of gas every month, my grandma is an old environmental pig!''
In another part of the song the children sing, ''Every day my grandma fries herself a pork chop'...she does it because discount meat costs nearly nothing, my grandma is an old environmental pig!''
An almost immediate backlash prompted WDR2 to delete the online version of the clip before angry grandmas descended on WDR's offices in Cologne to protest against the broadcaster.
''We are grandmas. Not #Nazi Pigs!'' read one of the signs at the rally while another said, ''My grandma is an old environmental pig. WDR exploits children to slander the elderly. Shameful! Stop causing division.''
If one of my children were to allow one of their children to sing something like this, which would never be the case, the shit would really hit the fan,'' said one of the protesters. Without us grandmas, this country would have crapped out a long time ago.''
Commentators warned that the backlash was being exploited by ''right-wing extremists,'' prompting an Antifa presence at the grandma protest and the sight of left-wing radicals literally getting angry at grandmas for expressing their free speech.
The whole controversy was later dubbed 'Grandmagate' and although it is legitimately creepy that kids are being indoctrinated via climate change hysteria to hate their own family members, some think there's bigger fish to fry in Germany.
''Well. The invasion of hundreds of thousands of third-world migrants is not enough to get ordinary German citizens to take to the streets. Not even if those culture-enrichers engage in rape, assault, robbery, arson, and other forms of general mayhem. But insulting their grandmas '-- that's going too far!'' commented the Gates of Vienna blog.
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Tech giant doesn't want anyone to be offended'... ever | Sovereign Man
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 22:31
Are you ready for this week's absurdity? Here's our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, your finances, and your prosperity.
Town charges woman $60,000 as a fee to renovate her own home
For 40 years Linda and Gary Cameron always dreamed of renovating their small home to accomodate more family and friends.
Sadly, this dream could only be realized when Gary passed away, and Linda received money from his life insurance.
But when the town of Richland in Washington state found out the renovation cost would exceed $50,000 they dropped the hammer.
According to local ordinance in Richland, any home renovation that costs over $50,000 requires that the homeowner also renovate some town property.
I was shocked when I found this out and couldn't believe it. Sure enough, it's true. Chapter 12 of the City of Richland's municipal code spells out ''impact fees'', which are fees that the local government assesses on any building project that might have an impact on city infrastructure.
The municipal code goes on to explain that the city can essentially charge whatever they want. And they do.
In order to add a second bedroom and bathroom to her home, Linda was told she had to pay a $60,000 impact fee.
Pretty crazy. Now she has to sue the town government just to be able to make some minor renovations to her own property.
Click here to read the full story.
Microsoft says if even ONE person is offended, that's ''one too many''
We want to wish the best of luck to the second largest company on Earth as they embark on their mission to ensure they don't offend a single person.
In mid-December, Microsoft developers added a tiny icon of a Santa hat in the bottom left corner of one of their programs (Visual Studio Code, also known as vscode).
1 person'... as in ONE'... complained on the Microsoft's Github page, posting, and I quote:
Microsoft's ''The Santa Hat on vscode insiders and pushing of religion is very offensive to me, additionally xmas has cost millions of Jews their lives over the centuries. . .''
This ONE complaint led the company to respond, ''we're sorry we hurt your and other's feelings. We'll remove the Santa Hat.''
Microsoft then switched the Santa hat icon with a more 'culturally-neutral' icon of a snowflake'... perhaps to appease generation snowflake and its hypersensitivity.
The company then announced that ''. . . the Santa hat was divisive and offensive to some of our users (even a single person being offended is one too many), meaning it represented the opposite of what we wanted to convey to our users.''
But was that the end of the controversy? Oh no.
Other users were offended that Microsoft would nix the Santa hat icon because a single person was offended.
''Well, that was unexpected,'' Microsoft's update on the incident begins.
And there-in lies the catch-22 encircling all modern ''woke'' companies. Being offended is America's favorite pastime.
Click here to read the full story.
Pokemon breach Canadian military base
Canada had to assign soldiers to play Pokemon Go in order to keep a military base secure.
Pokemon Go is a smartphone game that uses augmented reality to place virtual Pokemon in the real world. The Pokemon show up on users' camera screens when they aim their smartphone at the right spot.
Newly released documents detail how shortly after the game was released, a number of civilians were arrested after wandering into secure areas of a military base in search of virtual Pokemon.
The soldiers found that not only were Pokemon spawning on base, but that the base had also been infiltrated by a PokeGym.
It all kind of seems like a joke how clueless people can be.
But the game was actually designed by a mapping company owned by Google called Niantic. They collect detailed information on users' location and behavior, and use it for marketing purposes.
If the point was to drive traffic to certain locations, it was clearly a success. They even breached a military base.
Click here to read the full story.
Vermont considers year in prison for anyone under 21 in possession of CELL PHONE
A Vermont state senator introduced a bill this week to ban the use of cell phones among anyone under 21.
You read that right. And no, not just the use of cell phones while driving.
The proposal is to make it illegal, punishable by up to one year in prison, for people 20 and under to have or use a cell phone.
The bill has some great justification written right into it.
For instance, ''The Internet and social media, accessed primarily through cell phones, are used to radicalize and recruit terrorists, fascists, and other extremists'... Cell phones have often been used by mass shooters of younger ages for research on previous shootings.''
The bill concludes that since the Vermont government has seen fit to ban under 21 use of cigarettes, alcohol, and firearms, this is the logical next step.
Click here to read the full text of the bill.
Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop is selling a vagina-scented candle, and it's already sold out | Fox News
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 09:50
Gwyneth Paltrow has done it again, folks.
The 47-year-old actress and serial lifestyle entrepreneur found another way to shock the world with the sale of a vagina-scented candle in her online Goop store.
The candle, provocatively named ''This Smells Like My Vagina,'' will run customers a cool $75 and boasts a fragrance packed with geranium, citrusy bergamot and cedar, according to the Daily Mail.
GWYNETH PALTROW ANNOUNCES PRICEY GOOP CRUISE THROUGH MEDITERRANEAN
Apparently the idea for the candle, made by Heretic, originally started out as a joke.
As the product description reads: ''This candle started as a joke between perfumer Douglas Little and GP -- the two were working on a fragrance, and she blurted out, 'Uhhh ... this smells like a vagina' -- but evolved into a funny, gorgeous, sexy, and beautifully unexpected scent.''
Goop describes the candle as ''a funny, gorgeous, sexy, and beautifully unexpected scent.'' (Photo: Getty Images/Goop)
GWYNETH PALTROW JOKES HER 'SEX LIFE IS OVER' AFTER MOVING IN WITH HUSBAND BRAD FALCHUK
Apparently, Paltrow's lifestyle company is onto something. The candle is currently sold out on both Goop's and Heretic's websites.
Paltrow, of course, is no stranger to controversy when it comes to selling eyebrow-raising products.
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Last year during the holiday season, Goop made headlines over a holiday gift guide that included $43,000 earrings and a BDSM kit. The list was so outrageous, Goop itself dubbed it the ''ridiculous but awesome gift guide.''
Other items included a handmade, animal cruelty-free moisture bar shaped like an egg for $65. The BDSM kit, however, was probably the most outrageous of the bunch.
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''Think of this kit as a beginner's guide to BDSM,'' said Goop's website. ''It's even equipped with DIY restraining straps, to help you, him, or her assume the position (wink, wink).''
Jussie Smollett investigation: Google ordered to turn over the actor's data - Chicago Tribune
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 14:58
A Cook County judge has ordered Google to turn over Jussie Smollett's emails, photos, location data and private messages for an entire year as part of the special prosecutor's investigation into the purported attack on the actor.
Two sweeping search warrants, obtained by the Chicago Tribune, provide the first public glimpse at the direction of the probe by special prosecutor Dan Webb more than four months into the investigation.
The warrants, filed last month in Circuit Court, sought a trove of documentation from Smollett and his manager's Google accounts '-- not just emails but also drafted and deleted messages; any files in their Google Drive cloud storage services; any Google Voice texts, calls and contacts; search and web browsing history; and location data.
Investigators sought a full year's data '-- from November 2018 to November 2019 '-- even though the key events in the controversy took place between late January and late March 2019. Authorities could be looking for any incriminating remarks from Smollett or his manager, especially in the months after State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office abruptly dismissed disorderly conduct charges against the then-"Empire" actor just weeks after his indictment. Smollett, who is African American and openly gay, has declared the dismissal a vindication of his claims that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
The mysterious reversal by Foxx's office '-- coming after Foxx herself stepped aside from overseeing the prosecution '-- sparked a public outcry that ultimately led Judge Michael Toomin to appoint Webb as special prosecutor in late August.
Toomin signed off on the search warrants on Dec. 6, the records show. In doing so, the judge ordered Google and its ''representatives, agents and employees'' not to disclose his order to turn over the records, saying to do so ''may jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation.''
It was unclear from the file if Google has handed over the data on Smollett and his manager. A Google spokesman said he could not comment on specific requests for records from law enforcement.
Toomin gave Webb a broad mandate to investigate all aspects of the case '-- not only its initial handling by Foxx's office but also whether to criminally charge Smollett again.
The search warrants make clear that Chicago police are assisting in Webb's investigation.
Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago police spokesman, confirmed that the department is working with the special prosecutor, conducting ''follow-ups'' on its initial investigation. But Guglielmi declined further comment, referring inquiries to Webb's team.
Webb declined to comment on the search warrants or his broader investigation. Smollett's attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Smollett reported that two men attacked him near his high-rise apartment in the Streeterville neighborhood on a frigid night last Jan. 29, slipping a noose around his neck and shouting racist and homophobic slurs.
Smollett's manager '-- whose Google account information has also been ordered turned over '-- called 911 to report the attack and met responding officers in the lobby of Smollett's building. He can be seen on body camera footage reaching toward Smollett to grab the noose around his neck with disdain. ''The reason I'm calling (police) is because of this s--- ,'' he said.
But Smollett eventually turned from victim to suspect after an intense investigation by Chicago police detectives who used two brothers' cellphone records, internet search history and text messages to corroborate their story that the actor paid them $3,500 to stage the attack.
Prosecutors alleged that Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy with the ''Empire'' studio's response to a threatening letter he received at work a week earlier. Chicago police took it a step further, accusing Smollett of faking the letter as well.
But just a few weeks after indicting Smollett on 16 counts of disorderly conduct, Foxx's office made the stunning announcement that all the charges had been dropped with little explanation at an unannounced court hearing.
Smollett's attorneys have painted the brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who are of Nigerian descent, as homophobic liars who carried out a real attack on Smollett with the help of an as-yet unidentified white co-conspirator. They have long alleged that the brothers' attorney fed them a fabricated story to tell cops in order to avoid charges.
The whole episode has been costly for Smollett. He now faces a lawsuit from the city of Chicago seeking to recoup $130,000 in police overtime costs for investigating the incident, and the Osundairos have sued Smollett's attorneys for defamation. Smollett, who reportedly won't return to his role for the final season of the Fox series ''Empire,'' filed a counterclaim against the city, saying he was the victim of a malicious prosecution that caused humiliation and extreme distress.
The episode has also proved damaging to Foxx, who has faced harsh criticism for her handling of the case as she seeks a second term in office. In a campaign ad in November, Foxx acknowledged she had fallen short in the Smollett matter but was vague on specifics. ''Truth is, I didn't handle it well. I own that,'' she said.
It is unclear if Webb's investigation will be completed before she faces three Democratic challengers in the March 17 primary.
Foxx recused herself from overseeing the prosecution after revealing she had contact with a member of Smollett's family early in the investigation at the request of Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama's former chief of staff.
Foxx declined to provide details at the time, but communications later made public showed Foxx had asked then-Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to turn over the investigation to the FBI after she was approached by Tchen, a politically connected lawyer, about the case.
But other communications released to the Tribune after public-records requests showed Foxx claiming she recused herself because of false rumors that she was related to the actor, not any communications she'd had with his relatives.
Foxx also termed as ''bull----'' the explanation her own office gave for her withdrawal at the time, the texts show.
Sheila O'Brien, a retired Illinois appellate judge, petitioned Toomin to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the handling of the Smollett investigation. After extensive legal arguments last summer, Toomin ruled that Foxx had the right to withdraw herself from overseeing the prosecution but held no legal authority to then delegate that responsibility to her top deputy.
With that deputy holding no real authority, the Smollett case made its way through the court system without a legitimate prosecutor at the helm, the veteran judge said, indicating that it was invalid from start to finish.
jgorner@chicagotribune.com
Oh Elon!
How Elon Musk Gambled Tesla to Save SolarCity | Vanity Fair
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 15:07
It was a Saturday night last March in Buffalo, and Dennis Scott was sitting at home. A stocky veteran with salt-and-pepper hair and a close-cropped beard, Scott had been laid off from Tesla's factory in Buffalo two months earlier as part of a global reduction in the company's workforce. Since then, he had taken to sending Elon Musk emails and point-blank tweets, describing the pain the layoffs were causing.
Ten days after Scott was let go, Musk had tweeted a goofy picture of himself posing with what looked like a machine gun. Scott retweeted the image and called Musk a clown. ''If I were CEO and someone told me my company wasn't working right,'' he explains, ''I wouldn't be clowning around. I've got people counting on me for their livelihood.''
Now, around 10 p.m., his phone rang. The call was from an unmarked number. Scott answered.
''It's the clown,'' the person at the other end informed him.
Scott, unfazed, figured that Musk must have gotten his number from the company. For the next 20 minutes, he recalls, he and his former employer had a civil conversation. ''When are you going to fix your company?'' Scott asked.
Musk was pleasant but offered no specifics about the Buffalo plant. Scott continued to ask frank questions. ''You took $750 million from New York,'' he told Musk, referring to the taxpayer money that the state handed Tesla as part of its Buffalo Billion program to revitalize upstate New York. ''You gave us hope that you were going to do something.''
Musk's responses left Scott unimpressed. ''Musk is a nice guy when you talk to him,'' he says. ''But I think he's full of shit. He'll tell you whatever you want to hear.''
Musk, after initially telling Vanity Fair that he had ''no record'' of the call, now denies that it ever took place. In public, he doesn't talk much about Tesla's factory in Buffalo'--a place he once, in better times, dubbed Gigafactory 2. Gigafactory 1, of course, is Tesla's much-hyped futuristic electric car plant outside Reno. Gigafactory 2, which is shrouded in silence and secrets, was a controversial side venture: a high-stakes move to dominate America's growing market for solar energy. Tesla bought the factory's main tenant, SolarCity, for almost $5 billion in 2016. The plan, in true Muskian hyperbole, was to turn the plant in Buffalo into what was billed as the largest manufacturing facility of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. SolarCity would build 10,000 solar panels per day and install them on homes and businesses across the country. In the process, it would create 5,000 jobs in an area that very much needed them. ''This is one of the poorest cities in the country,'' Scott says. ''You get a big company here, and it's a big deal.''
From the outside, the sheer scale of the Buffalo plant sparkles with promise. At 1.2 million square feet, it stands at the point where the Buffalo River bends through the city. The building is gleaming white, as if to signify its freshness amid a landscape of abandoned grain elevators and sprawling, desolate steel mills. The area around the factory is hardscrabble working class; until SolarCity was built, people only drove through it when the fierce wind off Lake Erie shut down the highway that residents take from the southern suburbs to downtown. Now three flags fly in front of the factory: those of the United States, New York State, and Tesla.
But three years after Tesla bought SolarCity, there are serious doubts as to whether the plant will ever fulfill its promises. The website CleanTechnica, which is mostly supportive of Musk, calls SolarCity ''a disaster waiting to happen.'' A potentially costly lawsuit alleges that Tesla acquired SolarCity at the expense of its own shareholders. And former employees want to know what happened to the massive subsidy Tesla received. ''New York State taxpayers deserved more from a $750 million investment,'' a laid-off employee named Dale Witherell wrote to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. ''Tesla has done a tremendous job providing smoke and mirrors and empty promises to the area.''
There are growing questions about SolarCity's product, too. Last week, Walmart sued Tesla for breach of contract due to ''years of gross negligence,'' claiming that solar panels installed at seven of its stores went up in flames, causing millions of dollars in damage. The lawsuit, citing Tesla's ''utter incompetence,'' seeks to have the company remove rooftop panels it installed at more than 240 Walmart stores.
The controversy over SolarCity, which has dovetailed with questions about Musk's mountain of debt and profit shortfalls, offers a window into the mind-set of America's most outlandish and unpredictable CEO. Musk's believers argue that the details of his ventures don't matter: It's the grand vision that counts. ''The guy has a will to make stuff happen that is extraordinary,'' says someone who worked closely with Musk. ''He willed Tesla to happen. And in willing a reality into existence, he might not stick to the facts.'' But in the case of SolarCity, Musk's penchant for making promises he can't deliver on turned out to matter a great deal'--and could even pose a threat to his entire empire.
When Witherell got his job at the SolarCity plant last year, he was thrilled. He'd moved back to Buffalo, where his parents live, after a stint in Texas and a tough divorce. He has a disabled daughter, but even so, the job wasn't so much about the paycheck. ''At some point push is going to come to shove in our world, and fossil fuel use is going to catch up with us,'' he says. ''I believed in the product.''
The plant, in fact, was a centerpiece of Governor Andrew Cuomo's grand plan to revitalize upstate New York. Buffalo's landscape offers a daily reminder of its past glory and present despair. The grain elevators that Le Corbusier once called the ''magnificent first fruits of the new age'''--and which supplied the nation for half a century, before they were rendered irrelevant by the St. Lawrence Seaway'--still loom over the horizon, too costly to demolish. The blackened shell of the warehouse at the old Bethlehem Steel complex, destroyed by fire a few years ago, punctuates the river like an angry exclamation point. Once one of the nation's largest cities, Buffalo's empty streets feel oddly discordant. ''Here, if you have to sit through a traffic light even once, you have an aneurysm,'' says Dave Robinson, an editor at the Buffalo News.
Now, under Cuomo's plan, Buffalo's massive steel plants would be replaced with the sun itself. In September 2014, the governor toured the SolarCity site. The smiles were big and the words were grand. The success of the plant, Cuomo proclaimed, was ''of critical importance to the United States' economic competitiveness and energy independence.''
SolarCity was founded by two of Musk's cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive, who grew up with him in South Africa. Musk, who put in $10 million, was the largest shareholder and chairman of the board. The initial idea, the Rives explained, was not to be a manufacturer but rather to control the entire consumer experience of going solar, from sale to installation, thereby driving down costs. For a time, SolarCity was a hot stock, growing almost tenfold from its public offering in 2012 to its peak in early 2014.
As is common with Musk's ventures, SolarCity professed to be focused on changing the world. ''Everything was very motivational,'' says a former executive. Some workers, taking the ethos to heart, sported SolarCity tattoos.
WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINETesla promised to create 1,460 jobs at its solar factory in Buffalo. It currently employs only 329.
Photograph by Tesla.But the initial success of the company's stock masked some difficult realities. SolarCity's business model was to front the costs of installing solar panels and allow homeowners to pay over time, which created a constant need for cash. That required raising money from outside investors, often big banks, who were then entitled to the first chunk of the payments homeowners made'--leaving SolarCity in a never-ending scramble to raise more debt. The real engineering that took place at SolarCity, in short, was financial, not environmental.
On the consumer side, SolarCity was plagued by complaints about misleading sales tactics and shoddy installations. As the problems mounted, some workers began to feel manipulated by the company's talk about being a force for good in the world. ''I turned a blind eye to a lot of the silliness because of the idealism,'' says one former senior employee. ''I don't know when the Rubicon was crossed, but there were micro-crossings every day.''
By 2014, several insiders say, the board was also growing concerned. The company imported most of its solar panels from China, and it looked like demand would soon outpace supply. Because Musk had a reputation as a manufacturing genius, the board decided that SolarCity needed to start making its own panels'--a huge shift in its business model. ''Installing and selling solar has almost nothing to do with manufacturing,'' says a former solar-industry executive. ''It's like a car dealer saying it's going to make cars.''
In June 2014, SolarCity bought Silevo, a solar-panel manufacturer that had struck a deal with New York to build a factory in Buffalo. On a conference call, Musk boasted that the deal would enable SolarCity to install tens of gigawatts of panels every year'--far beyond the company's peak annual run rate of about one gigawatt. He spoke as if the technology were already proven. On its website, SolarCity predicted it would ''achieve a breakthrough'' in solar-power pricing thanks to ''massive economies of scale.''
''It was shoot first and aim later,'' says the former senior employee. ''There was a lot of machismo going on: bigger, better, badder, faster.''
By the time Cuomo visited the site three months later, Silevo's smallish deal had metastasized. The state promised to spend $350 million to build a factory and another $400 million on equipment specified by SolarCity. The company would get a 10-year lease on the facility'--for just $1 a year. In return, it promised to employ at least 1,460 people in ''high-tech'' jobs at the factory, hire another 2,000 to support the sale and installation of solar panels in New York, and help attract an additional 1,440 ''support jobs'' in the state. Once it achieved full production, the company pledged, it would spend some $5 billion in New York over the following decade.
''It was sold as a perfect marriage,'' says the former senior employee. ''The area around the factory is terrible, and I remember thinking: Wow, we are going to save the town where steel was made.'' Cuomo too was hooked. ''He was enchanted with the idea of Elon Musk in Buffalo,'' says a longtime lobbyist in Albany. ''I think he actually thought Musk was the next Dalai Lama.''
Even then, to those who looked closely, the cracks at SolarCity were becoming apparent. In 2014, key executives had started to leave. The Rives began to sell stock. SolarCity's debt was soaring, and the yield on its bonds hit double digits, a sign that the market thought the company was in trouble. Goldman Sachs, one of Musk's major bankers, called SolarCity the ''worst positioned'' company for capitalizing on future growth in the solar sector. One of the few things shoring up the company's stock, according to a former investor, were the constant rumors that Musk was somehow going to bail it out.
In reality, the situation was even uglier than outsiders knew. As SolarCity struggled to raise money from institutional investors, it began offering individuals a chance to buy what it called Solar Bonds. (''Now you can get paid while driving the solar revolution,'' the marketing material said.) But there were few takers'--so other parts of the Musk empire took up the slack. According to the shareholder lawsuit, SpaceX acquired $255 million of the bonds. Musk himself bought $75 million of them, and the Rives acquired another $38 million. To raise the cash, Musk borrowed against both Tesla and SolarCity stock, increasing his personal credit lines from $85 million to $475 million. He also used his own reputation to shore up the stock: In February 2016, when SolarCity stock plunged to its lowest level in three years, Musk bought $10 million in shares. A week later, when the news became public, the stock soared by almost 25 percent.
At the same time, according to the shareholder lawsuit against Tesla, the company faced ''significant liquidity concerns'''--meaning it was running out of money. An accounting inquiry from the SEC noted that SolarCity was burning through cash'--$659 million in the first quarter of 2016 alone. That February, at a Tesla board meeting, Musk proposed a solution: Tesla, he said, should acquire SolarCity.
The board balked. But Musk kept pushing. Two weeks later, he proposed the acquisition again. Once again, the board said no.
It was a hopelessly conflicted situation. Musk owned more than 20 percent of both SolarCity and Tesla. His brother, Kimbal, served on both boards, as did several investors, including Antonio Gracias, a close friend of Musk's. As a judge in the shareholder lawsuit ruled, it is ''reasonably conceivable'' that Musk effectively controlled the Tesla board when he pushed it to acquire SolarCity. (Tesla, which has dismissed the allegations in the lawsuit as false, insists that ''all appropriate parties'' recused themselves during the acquisition.)
At the time, Musk was still a heroic figure to many. As former Tesla board member Nancy Pfund once said, ''He's always been a master of the universe in my mind.'' Even Tesla skeptics admit that the Model S, which was launched in 2012, will go down in history as an absolute classic, followed by the equally celebrated Model X in 2015. In those days, Tesla's stock was trading at well over $200 a share, giving it a market value of more than $30 billion, a stunning figure for a company that hadn't proven it could make money.
But over the years, many skeptics have come to see Musk's stunts'--from smoking pot during an interview to calling a diver who helped rescue kids trapped in a Thailand cave a ''pedo guy'''--as more unhinged than iconoclastic. One close observer of Musk recalls how he promised, back in 2001, to give away half of his equity in PayPal'--dividing it evenly between ''the people that have worked hard to build the company'' and ''causes I believe make the world a better place.'' But Musk never made good on the pledge, and the observer came to see the episode as ''symbolic of Musk's penchant for making grandiose statements that he either knows are not true at the time he makes them, or that he has no real intent of following through on.'' Others see Musk's promises as purposefully manipulative. ''Musk has a habit of overstating Tesla's operational capabilities and its prospects for profitability, especially when the company is preparing to raise capital, collect customer deposits, or secure regulatory benefits,'' says Brian Horey of Aurelian Partners, an investment firm.
Now the brewing problems at SolarCity threatened to give skeptics real ammunition against Musk'--unless those problems could be buried. In May 2016, the Tesla board finally agreed to acquire the company for almost $5 billion, including the assumption of nearly $3 billion in SolarCity debt. On a conference call on June 22, the day after the deal was publicly announced, Musk told analysts and investors that the company had ''the best technology out there for high-efficiency, low-cost solar panels.'' He didn't say anything about the liquidity crisis at SolarCity. Nor did he mention something else that shareholders allege the Tesla board came to learn as it did its due diligence on SolarCity: The cost per watt of solar modules being produced in Buffalo was actually projected to be 20 cents above the rest of the industry.
On October 28, 2016, just before shareholders were set to vote on the acquisition of SolarCity, Musk strode onto a platform erected on the set of Desperate Housewives at Universal Studios' back lot in Los Angeles. He talked about the existential threat presented by global warming and the desperate need for sustainable energy. Then he gestured to a group of houses that had been set up around him. They might look normal, he said, but they actually featured a revolutionary new product called the Solar Roof'--shingles that would last longer and cost less than a regular roof, even before factoring in electricity. Tesla expected production to begin the following summer.
The next month, shareholders approved Tesla's acquisition of SolarCity. ''Vote tally shows ~85% of unaffiliated shareholders in favor of the Tesla/SolarCity merger!'' Musk tweeted. The deal doubled Tesla's debt load, but it was good for Musk, who converted his stake in SolarCity into more than $500 million in Tesla stock. By preventing SolarCity from collapsing, he also shored up his most valuable asset: investor faith in his own genius. If any piece of his empire had faltered'--if Musk were shown to be fallible rather than superhuman'--it would have cast doubt on the narrative that enables him to raise cheap capital for his money-losing enterprises.
''Thanks for believing,'' Musk tweeted to his shareholders.
That October, as Musk was making his pitch about the Solar Roof, a former Fortune 500 executive was watching it online at a friend's barbecue. The former executive, who had spent years researching solar technology, understood what it took to make the Solar Roof work'--and he was confident that Musk hadn't figured it out. ''He spewed total BS,'' says the executive, who asked not to be identified. ''I was flabbergasted. I was convinced in the moment that the shingles were fake.''
Adopting the Twitter handle @TeslaCharts, the executive began drawing on his Ph.D. in science, and his background as a financial analyst, to share infographics that detailed Musk's overreach. His follower count mushroomed, and he became a core member of a group of outspoken Tesla critics who go by the Twitter hashtag #TSLAQ'--Tesla's stock symbol followed by the Q that companies pick up when they are delisted due to bankruptcy.
Many of them, in fact, were first drawn to Tesla by SolarCity, with its pile of debt and mountain of losses. ''If it weren't for SolarCity, #TSLAQ wouldn't exist,'' says @TeslaCharts. He points out that Musk faced a catch-22 of sorts: If he hadn't bailed out SolarCity, his whole debt-laden empire might have cracked. Yet without the bailout, Tesla would be far more healthy. ''When the history of Tesla is written,'' he says, ''the acquisition of SolarCity will be seen as the moment where the narrative took a decisive turn.''
Others shared @TeslaCharts' suspicions about Solar Roof. Robinson, who covers SolarCity for the Buffalo News, had flown to Los Angeles for Musk's presentation. Afterward, he asked an engineer for the company if the tiles Musk had pointed to were real. ''Oh no,'' the engineer replied. ''These are dummies. We just popped them up here to show you.'' Robinson wasn't outraged'--it made sense that Musk would show a prototype'--but he took note of the contrast between the rhetoric and the reality. ''They made it sound like they had figured out how to get it to work,'' he says.
And Tesla continued to make it sound that way. In early 2018, the company announced that production of the Solar Roof had begun in Buffalo. That fall, Tesla told Bloomberg News it was ''gearing up for tremendous growth in 2019. We have a product, we have the customers, we are just ramping it up to a point where it is sustainable.''
But in its quarterly letter, a month earlier, Tesla had confessed that the product wasn't actually ready yet. ''We continue to iterate,'' the company wrote. In a legal filing, Tesla acknowledged that the much-hyped technology it had acquired from Silevo wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. And last May, an investigation by Reuters revealed that most of the solar cells being produced in Buffalo were being sold overseas, not used in the Solar Roof, because demand was so low.
Customers who tried to purchase a Solar Roof took to Twitter to share their horror stories: Kevin Pereau, a California homeowner, said he paid a deposit of $2,000 to have a Solar Roof installed more than two years ago'--then never heard from the company again. He got his money back only after he started tweeting at Musk every single day.
Musk, meanwhile, is still making promises. Last March, he proclaimed that 2019 would be the ''year of the Solar Roof.'' In late July, he tweeted that Tesla is ''hoping'' to turn out 1,000 Solar Roofs a week by the end of the year. But even onetime believers have become doubters. The MIT Technology Review, which included the Solar Roof in its list of 10 ''breakthrough technologies'' in 2016, now calls it a ''flop.'' In a recent analyst note, JP Morgan warned that Solar Roof will be a ''niche'' product at best. Musk has ''sustained a kind of Kabuki theater in which the Solar Roof ramp is always imminent, but never here,'' wrote investor John Engle, a #TSLAQ member.
Another #TSLAQ member, a Yale-trained lawyer and investment manager named Lawrence Fossi, made a discovery while combing through SolarCity's financial statements. Without fanfare'--and with no input from constituents'--state officials had quietly issued a series of 10 amendments that watered down the requirements SolarCity must meet in exchange for the $1 lease on the Buffalo factory. The 1,460 ''high-tech'' jobs at the factory became just plain old jobs, as did the 2,000 jobs to support solar sales and installation in New York. The agreement to employ 900 people at the factory within two years shrank to 500. And the timing for the additional jobs was extended to 10 years after the factory was completed'--at which point the lease would also be expiring. (Tesla argues that the company is now responsible for all 5,000 jobs, instead of being able to fulfill them through suppliers.) The governor's office declined to comment on who authorized the changes, and state officials have yet to provide any public explanation as to why they opted to let a big corporation like Tesla off the hook.
In fact, the Buffalo deal turned out to have been tainted by corruption from the very start. Just one day after Tesla finalized its acquisition of SolarCity, Preet Bharara, then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced criminal charges against a handful of Cuomo staffers for rigging the construction bids for the Buffalo Billion program to favor the governor's campaign donors. The man tapped by Cuomo to oversee the taxpayer subsidies, as well as a leading donor who received a $225 million contract to build out the Buffalo factory, were both convicted last year of conspiring to rig the bids
Lyndon and Peter Rive have both left SolarCity, and the company's original business of installing solar roofs has all but evaporated. The company once controlled one-third of the residential market; now, according to the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, its share is less than 7 percent. In the second quarter of this year, SolarCity installed only 29 megawatts of solar panels'--far below the 10,000 megawatts in annual installations that Musk had promised. ''Total implosion'' is how one SolarCity insider describes it.
Across the street from the factory in Buffalo stands a small building that houses a coffee shop and an office space. Both were built to cater to the plant, says Robinson, the Buffalo News editor. The coffee shop is surviving, but the office space is vacant. What few jobs do exist at SolarCity barely compete with the local grocery store. ''For $750 million, we're getting jobs that pay $2 an hour more than Aldi's,'' says Robinson.
In a statement to Vanity Fair, Tesla argues that its jobs in Buffalo are competitive, especially when benefits and equity are factored in. It says it has expanded its operations at the factory to include ''some of our most innovative and pioneering products.'' And it accuses the magazine of presenting a ''one-sided view with cherry-picked sourcing aimed at feeding into the fear, uncertainty, and doubt being circulated about Tesla every day by those looking to gain from Tesla's losses.''
But the level of secrecy surrounding the SolarCity plant may offer an additional indication of how bad things are. Tesla refused to allow me to take a tour, and former employees say a rare media event at the factory last fall was highly scripted. ''They spent more time and resources trying to fabricate what people saw than they do making anything,'' says Witherell, who worked there at the time. ''They told employees to pretend we were busy.'' A story aired last February by News 4 Buffalo described the shop floor as ''torpid,'' with idle employees milling about. ''They say they are in 'ramp up' mode,'' says Scott, the former employee. ''But this isn't even start-up mode. What company spends two and a half years starting up something they were already supposed to be the best at?''
Last April, not long after he placed his late-night call to Scott, Elon Musk finally paid his first-ever visit to Buffalo. There was no press release, no triumphant post on social media, no meeting with reporters. Local authorities were in the midst of performing the genuine engineering feat of dismantling what's known as the ''ice boom'''--hundreds of steel pontoons, spanning over a mile and a half, that keep the massive amounts of ice on Lake Erie from floating down the Niagara River and jamming up hydropower turbines. After the visit, Musk continued his upbeat assessment of production. ''We are looking forward to scaling up significantly through the balance of this year and into next,'' he said.
Musk's other proclamations in recent months have been far grander. He has promised that by next year, Tesla will be producing self-driving cars'--and deploying a fleet of 1 million robotaxis. He has claimed that Neuralink, his secretive start-up, has developed a ''thread'' that can be inserted into the human brain, merging our minds with artificial intelligence. And he is seeking approval to build an underground ''hyperloop'' that will whisk passengers between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore in 15 minutes.
When Tesla bought SolarCity, it said the deal would ''add more than half a billion dollars in cash to Tesla's balance sheet over the next three years.'' But it appears to have had the opposite effect. ''I think it's a big source of the cash-flow deficit,'' says one longtime analyst. ''I think it is a big thorn inside of Tesla.'' The company has paid back some of SolarCity's debt, including the Solar Bonds owed to Musk and SpaceX. But this fall, another $556 million is coming due. In a characteristic tweet, Musk once vowed he would ''personally'' repay the SolarCity debt if need be.
There may be another cost. By next April, Tesla is required to start paying an annual fine of $41.2 million if it fails to employ 1,460 people in Buffalo. Tesla says it currently has 636 employees statewide in New York, including 329 at the plant, and that it has invested almost $400 million in New York. Engle, the TSLAQ member, argues that Tesla cannot afford to admit that SolarCity has been a fiasco, because doing so would open the company to significant liability in the ongoing lawsuit over the acquisition.
Officials in New York, meanwhile, appear to be taking belated steps to document what is really happening in Buffalo. Last spring, the state announced that it was auditing all of its high-tech programs, with a focus on Tesla. Everyone in Albany, says the longtime lobbyist, has accepted that the Buffalo plant is a ''disaster'''--a poster child for why government giveaways to big companies don't work.
But the official who took credit for the deal with Tesla'--the man who championed the company as a Rust Belt savior'--stands by his decision to place his trust in Elon Musk. Governor Cuomo, who paid his own visit to Buffalo last spring, declared that he's perfectly pleased with the progress at SolarCity. ''They're ahead of schedule,'' he said.
This post has been updated.
Corrections: The 1,460 jobs Tesla must provide by April 2020 can be anywhere in Buffalo, not simply at the Buffalo plant. In addition, Tesla's quarterly letter acknowledging that it was continuing to ''iterate'' on the Solar Roof was issued in October 2018, not several months later. And SolarCity once controlled one-third of the residential solar market, not two-thirds.
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''Global Lightning'' SATCOM Project Expanding to AC-130, KC-135 - Air Force Magazine
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 23:15
An Air Force investigation into how the service could piggyback on the commercial industry's broadband Internet satellites for cheaper, better communication is moving forward to include two key combat platforms.
The experimentation and prototyping effort, known as Defense Experimentation Using the Commercial Space Internet, or ''Global Lightning,'' is run by the Air Force Research Laboratory, which has partnered with companies like SpaceX, Iridium, OneWeb, L3Harris, and others from 2018 to 2022 to put communications terminals on aircraft and see how well they share data with satellites and their associated ground terminals. USAF is also looking into the possibility of leasing commercial space Internet as a service, rather than buying large amounts of equipment itself.
''We're not focused just on any one company,'' Greg Spanjers, chief scientist at AFRL's Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation office, told reporters Nov. 5. ''Our intent is to characterize the performance and understand the pros and cons of all of the commercial systems when used on military platforms.''
So far, researchers have used a C-12 to vet data transfer rates with experimental SpaceX satellites. Next week, the program plans to test out data-sharing with the AC-130, followed by the KC-135 in spring or summer 2020, according to Global Lightning Program Manager Brian Beal. Those are large, popular platforms that comprise sizable fleets and are used in areas where commanders wish they had more ability to share information, according to AFRL.
Their work also explores the authorities and other steps the Air Force needs to take to transition the idea to operational use.
Program officials said the tests have proven out much higher Internet connection and data-transfer rates than Air Force aircraft can currently receive. That means faster access to video, weather, and other data in flight, though the service hasn't tied the capability to a particular type of mission.
''It's the difference between getting low data-rate text messages and high-[definition], full-motion video,'' Spanjers said. ''Your high-def TV at home is probably about 5 megabits per second data rate. That's a data rate well above most of the Air Force platforms that we're dealing with.''
The military is waiting for commercial industry to build its satellite communications constellations on orbit, such as SpaceX's Starlink array, so it can tap into the capability on a large scale.
Going forward, the service will also run tests with Lockheed Martin's open radio architecture that allows comms to switch between satellite constellations. The Air Force wants to be able to move between the systems of various companies as hardware or other changes as possible.
Another prong of the effort will work with Ball Aerospace and Army Futures Command on a phased array radar mounted atop a moving ground vehicle to test communications with spacecrafts in three different orbits.
Several additional contracts are due out in the coming years for further testing, according to AFRL.
Air Force to link F-35, F-22 in 'connect-a-thon' experiment
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 23:14
WASHINGTON '-- The U.S. Air Force is preparing an experiment it hopes will link the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, the first in a series of experiments that service acquisition head Will Roper has dubbed ''connect-a-thons.''
The experiments are to happen every four months, starting in December. The goal is to identify a fleet of aircraft with a communications issue, invite voices from inside and outside the Pentagon to offer solutions, and then test those offerings in a live experiment.
''We're making it up as we go, right? There's never been anything like this,'' Roper said at a breakfast hosted by the Defense Writers Group. ''We need a way for people to propose connections and get into the pipeline. So I wouldn't be surprised at all if it ends up being like a pitch day ... having a proposal process where we review the maturity of the tech versus the benefit to the war fighter. We would do the former, our operators would do the latter."
''And what I love about this is it's kind of a competition within the joint force," he added. "We're going to be looking for the fast movers to volunteer, then we'll be looking at the fast followers.''
The first event, hosted by North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, will feature an attempt to allow the F-22 and F-35 to share battlespace '-- a long-sought capability.
The F-22 was built with an older data link that can't match up with the Multifunction Advanced Data Link, or MADL, system used on the newer F-35; while the F-35 can receive data through Link 16, it can't share the data back '-- a key capability given the envisioned role of the F-35 as a major sensor for the future Air Force.
For the test, the service will use what Roper called a ''Babel Fish-like translator'' under the working name of GatewayOne to serve as a ''universal translator'' for the two jets. The first test, in December, will feature the equipment on a pole on a test range, with the jets pinging their information back and forth from that fixed location.
Should that system work well, in four months Roper plans to put GatewayOne onto a Valkyrie drone, a system designed by Kratos to be cheap enough to be disposable in a battlefield situation. It's not the first time a drone has been used as a link between the two fighters: In 2017, Northrop Grumman pitched its Global Hawk unmanned system, equipped with a new radio, to act as a translator between the aircraft.
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Future connect-a-thons currently planned include linking SpaceX's Starlink satellites with KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft in an effort to show commercial communications can work with military aircraft; Roper said the KC-135 community volunteered because the tanker aircraft is perpetually seeking more bandwidth.
Roper also expects the F-16 community '-- which he called ''very innovative, agile operators'' who understand they need to keep an aging plane relevant '-- to ''sign up wholesale'' for tests in the future.
The acquisitions chief said he is committed to keeping the four-month schedule going, in part because it means if the technology isn't satisfactory, the service will know quickly and be able to move onto something else.
''The good news about that is [Congress and the Pentagon] don't really have to believe us for very long. Just let us get through a few connect-a-thon cycles,'' Roper said. ''And if we're failing miserably, then that should tell you something about the future of the program.''
Green New Deal
THE RENEWABLE GREEN ENERGY MYTH: 50,000 Tons Of Non-Recyclable Wind Turbine Blades Dumped In The Landfill '' SRSrocco Report
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 08:05
Funny, no one seemed to consider what to do with the massive amount of wind turbine blades once they reached the end of their lifespan. Thus, the irony of the present-day Green Energy Movement is the dumping of thousands of tons of ''non-recyclable'' supposedly renewable wind turbine blades in the country's landfills.
Who would have thought? What's even worse, is that the amount of wind turbine blades slated for waste disposal is forecasted to quadruple over the next fifteen years as a great deal more blades reach their 15-20 year lifespan . Furthermore, the size and length of the newly installed wind turbine blades are now twice as large as they were 20-30 years ago.
(graphic courtesy of Ahlstrom-Munksjo.com)
Honestly, I hadn't considered the tremendous amount of waste generated by the so-called ''Renewable'' wind power industry until a long-term reader sent me the link to the following article, Landfill begins burying non-recyclable Wind Turbine Blades:
Hundreds of giant windmill blades are being shipped to a landfill in Wyoming to be buried because they simply can't be recycled. Local media reports several wind farms in the state are sending over 900 un-reusable blades to the Casper Regional Landfill to be buried. While nearly 90 percent of old or decommissioned wind turbines, like the motor housing, can be refurbished or at least crushed, fiberglass windmill blades present a problem due to their size and strength.
''Our crushing equipment is not big enough to crush them,'' a landfill representative told NPR.
Prior to burying the cumbersome, sometimes nearly 300-foot long blades, the landfill has to cut them up into smaller pieces onsite and stack them in order to save space during transportation.
Wyoming isn't the only landfill accepting worn-out wind turbine blades. They are also being dumped in IOWA and SOUTH DAKOTA. Although, there's probably a lot more landfills across the country, especially in Texas, that are accepting old wind turbine blades. Texas has the largest amount of wind-generated energy in the United States at 27,036 MegaWatts, followed by Iowa (8,965 MW), Oklahoma (8,072 MW), Kansas (6,128 MW), and California (5,842 MW). (source: Wikipedia)
So, with Texas powering more wind energy than the next three states combined, they will be discarding an enormous amount of wind turbine blades in the state's landfills over the next 10-20 years.
Now, why is the Wind Power Industry discarding its blades in landfills? Unfortunately, due to the way the blades are manufactured, it isn't economical or practical to recycle them even though some small-scale recycling has been done. Here is an image from the Low-Tech Magazine website explaining why the large wind turbine blades aren't recyclable:
(graphic courtesy of Low-Tech Magazine)
The wind turbine blades are a toxic amalgam of unique composites, fiberglass, epoxy, polyvinyl chloride foam, polyethylene terephthalate foam, balsa wood, and polyurethane coatings. So, basically, there is just too much plastic-composite-epoxy crapola that isn't worth recycling. Again, even though there are a few small recycling centers for wind turbine blades, it isn't economical to do on a large scale.
As I mentioned, the wind power units built today are getting much taller and larger. Check out the 83.5 meter (274 feet) long wind turbine blade being transported for a 7 MegaWatt system:
(photo courtesy of GCR '' Global Construction Review)
This picture was taken in 2016. So, in about 15-20 years, this blade will need to be replaced. Just think of the cost to remove three massive blades this size, cut them up, transport them to the landfill and cover them with tons of soil. Now, multiply that by tens of thousands of blades. According to the data from Hochschule Bremerhaven & Ahlstrom-Munksjo, the wind industry will generate 50,000 tons of blade waste in 2020, but that will quadruple to 225,000 tons by 2034 . I have read that some estimates show an even higher amount of blade waste over the next 10-20 years.
I don't believe the public realizes what a horrible waste of resources that wind energy is when you start to look at the entire operation from beginning to end. Wind energy is definitely not RENEWABLE. And, even worse'... the wind turbines are not lasting as long as the 20-25 years forecasted by the industry . A study that came out in 2012 by Gordon Hughes, researching the relatively mature Dutch and U.K. Wind Industry, suggested that only a few of the wind farms would be operating for more than 12-15 years.
Wind & Solar A Disaster On The Electric GridThe one thing not mentioned by the ''Renewable Energy Aficionados'' is that the more solar and wind that is added to the grid, the more volatile and problematic it becomes. You see, the U.S. Electric Grid has been powered by BASELOAD energy from Coal, Natural Gas, and Nuclear'... for the most part. This type of energy generation is very stable, which is precisely why it's called BASELOAD ENERGY.
When wind and solar came onto the picture, the Renewable Energy Aficionados thought this ''CLEAN GREEN ENERGY'' was going to get rid of the dirty fossil fuel power plants. Unfortunately, the more wind and solar that are added, the more BASELOAD energy has to be removed . Why is that unfortunate? Because when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining, then the Electric Utility Industry is forced to TURN ON the Natural Gas Power Plants to make up the difference.
And let me tell you, this is becoming much more of a big problem when the wind energy that was generating 40% of the electricity in the area totally falls off the very next day when the wind stops blowing. I have read several articles showing examples of the extreme shut-in of wind and solar electric generation in a very short period of time.
There is so much information out there about this ''Intermittency'' problem, let me provide a perfect example taking place in Germany. Germany installed one hell of a lot of wind and solar, and it is now becoming a nightmare because they are suffering from black-outs, while at the same time their citizens are paying some of the highest electricity rates in Europe.
Germany's Renewable Energy Disaster '' Part 1: Wind & Solar Deemed 'Technological Failures'
Germany's wind and solar experiment have failed: the so-called 'Energiewende' (energy transition) has turned into an insanely costly debacle.
German power prices have rocketed; blackouts and load shedding are the norm; and idyllic rural communities are now industrial wastelands (see picture).
Hundreds of billions of euros have been squandered on subsidies to wind and solar, all in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide gas emissions. However, that objective has failed too: CO2 emissions continue to rise.
But you wouldn't know it from what appears in the mainstream media. Its reticence to report on what's actually going on in Germany probably stems from the adage about success having many fathers, and failure being an orphan. Having promoted Germany as the example of how we could all 'transition' to an all RE future, it's pretty hard for them to suck it up and acknowledge that they were taken for fools.
REST OF ARTICLE HERE: Germany's Renewable Energy Disaster '' Part 1: Wind & Solar Deemed 'Technological Failures'
That article above came from the website, StopTheseThings.com, which I highly recommend checking out. They put out a lot of excellent material on the global wind industry.
For example, I found this interesting article about a wind turbine that was purchased by Akron-Westfield's School Board that went operational in 1999. The wind turbine was supposed to provide the School District with approximately (2) teachers' salaries worth of revenue once the loan was paid off after ten years. According to the article from StopTheseThings.com, Turbine Trouble: School Board's Wind Turbine 'Investment' Ends in Financial Disaster:
After a decade of dashed financial hopes, mechanical failures and punishingly costly repairs, the school has been left to lick its wounds and lament. The experience to date has been a total financial failure . And now comes the whopping cleanup bill to have the nightmare removed, for good.
A-W wind turbine removal may become budget item The Akron Home TownerJulie Ann Madden11 October 2019
What will it cost to remove the Akron-Westfield's inoperable wind turbine from its site?
According to A-W School Board Member Nick Mathistad, about $220,000 :
$183,000 for disassembly and disposal of the wind turbine; and$37,000 for foundation removal/disposal, dirt fill and seeding of site.''These are budget numbers, and the scope of work would be bid out at a later date if it comes to that,'' Mathistad explained in a text to The Akron Hometowner.
I recommend reading the entire article because it is worth a GOOD LAUGH. I believe the author of the article misunderstood and thought the town of Akron was in Ohio, but it was located in Iowa. Once you read the article, it plays like the typical TRAIL OF TEARS as the poor school board was plagued with mechanical failures and issues that cost one hell of a lot of money and just when the wind turbine was going to be paid off after ten years, it broke down for good'... LOL.
That's correct, and the wind turbine has been sitting there idle for nearly a decade'... rotting away. And now, it seems that the school board is placing the $220,000 cost to disassemble and dispose of the wind turbine in their $5.2 million bond. Again'... LOL.
I have to tell you; I am simply amazed at the level of INSANITY and STUPIDITY taking place by individuals, companies, corporations, and countries that are ramping up wind and solar energy. They are a complete disaster and will only get worse as time goes by.
Lastly, the world should have used the energy that has been investing in wind-solar and put it into transitioning our society to a smaller footprint or DEGROWTH. That was the smart and logical move. However, we are taking the last bit of good fossil fuel energy and putting into Non-Recyclable ''supposedly renewable'' Green Technology Boondoggles that will become serious liabilities in the future as we won't have the available energy to properly disassemble and dispose of the tens of thousands of wind turbines dotting the landscape.
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Sweden sees rare fall in air passengers, as flight-shaming takes off - BBC News
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 18:39
Image copyright AFP
Sweden has seen a 4% drop in the number of people flying via its airports, a rare decrease in recent years for a European country.
More than 40 million people travelled through the country's 10 airports, compared with 42 million during 2018.
Domestic travel was down further, at 9%, according to Sweden's airport operators, Swedavia.
The figures come as the Swedish-born movement of "flight shaming" is gaining prominence.
Swedavia spokesman Robert Pletzin said there were a number of reasons for the decrease, citing Swedish aviation tax, softening economy worries, the weak Swedish crown and the climate debate.
Flygskam or "flight shame" originated in Sweden in 2017, when Swedish singer Staffan Lingberg pledged to give up flying.
Video caption Inside the boat Greta Thunberg will be travelling on to cross the AtlanticSwedish climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg set an example by crossing the Atlantic in a zero-emissions yacht last year.
In September, Citigroup analysts said greater consumer awareness about global carbon emissions had already had a tangible effect in Sweden and could call into question the longer-term growth potential of the entire industry.
A number of people have since decided to take on the challenge of travelling without flying . More than 22,500 people have signed a pledge to go flight-free in 2020.
The last occasions where air passenger numbers dropped had distinct reasons - the 9/11 terror attacks and the financial crash.
Aside from Sweden, Europe is still seeing an increase in the number of people flying. The EU overall saw figures rise to 1.1 billion passengers in 2018, up from 1 billion the year before.
In 2018, the UK saw more than 272 million passengers, up from 264 million in 2017.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says current trends suggest passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion by 2037. Cities in Asia are expected to overtake European cities in regards to air passenger markets.
Bloom Energy launches Quick Deploy Microgrid Program to prepare for future wildfire seasons | pvbuzz.com
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 22:55
KEY POINTS The program will enable customers to deploy a resilient microgrid infrastructure prior to the anticipated start of the 2020 wildfire season.The company also announced a new Power Outage Map.It allows users to see the number of blackouts and customers impacted in California since October 2017.
Bloom Energy's mission is to make clean, reliable, and affordable energy for everyone in the world. The company's product, the Bloom Energy Server, delivers highly reliable and resilient, always-on electric power that is clean and sustainable.
California '-- Bloom Energy announced a new Quick-Deploy Microgrid Program to help customers prepare for future wildfire seasons with permanent AlwaysON Microgrids for their facilities.
This program will enable customers to deploy a resilient microgrid infrastructure prior to the anticipated start of the 2020 wildfire season as well as receive clean electricity at a predictable cost to mitigate the impact of utility rate increases.
California recently instituted intentional outages called Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) with the objective of reducing wildfires and improving public safety. As such, businesses are increasingly taking power security into their own hands, considering the ''cost of not having power'' instead of just the ''cost of power.''
These blackouts have been deemed as California's ''new normal'' for the next 10 years or longer. Since October 2017, these PSPS events have resulted in a reported 2,374 outages affecting 2.3 million customers. And these are long outages '' the longest planned event during the two-year span lasted six days, and the average duration was nearly two full days.
As a result, companies are turning to microgrids as a solution to safeguard their operations. Bloom Energy is a leading microgrid provider with 89 microgrids deployed globally.
Bloom Energy also announced a new Power Outage Map, which allows users to see the number of blackouts and customers impacted in California since October 2017.
Bloom Energy, working with Bluefire Studios, a company that monitors utilities throughout the country, created the outage map, which currently has data for all blackouts that affected at least 100 customers in California during the two-year-plus period, and is planning on expanding to additional states and other outage-prone areas. Businesses in California can now assess their risk on a city-level in a matter of seconds to inform their energy resiliency strategy.
It's not only engineered power shutoffs that are leaving Californians in the dark: since October 2017, the outage map shows there have been more than 50,000 blackout events in the state affecting the equivalent of approximately 51 million customers.
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About the AuthorEditorial Team We are experts with the mission to inform, educate and inspire the industry. We are passionately curious, enthusiastic, and motivated to make a positive impact in the world. Send us a tip via editors @ pvbuzz [dot] com.
Historically low temperatures coming to much of B.C. as winter chill sets in | Globalnews.ca
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 06:32
It's going to get very cold across much of B.C. this weekend, with Environment Canada warning temperatures will ''plummet to values not seen in years.''
The weather agency issued a special weather statement for much of southern B.C. Saturday, stretching from the Fraser Canyon through the Okanagan, Thompson and Shuswap regions to the B.C.-Alberta border.
Areas farther north including the Cariboo, Chilcotin, Yellowhead and Bulkley Valley regions are also included in the statement.
READ MORE: Ferries cancelled amid high winds as Metro Vancouver braces for another 15 cm of snow
Environment Canada says strong winds will push temperatures down to between minus 30 and minus 40 degrees Celsius for the central interior by Sunday morning
By Monday morning, similar temperatures will be seen in the Columbias and southwest interior, forecasters say.
The Okanagan is also expecting more snow throughout the weekend, with two to four centimetres expected Saturday and another five centimetres forecast for Saturday night.
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Five centimetres of snow is also expected to fall in the valley on Sunday.
We are blanketed with weather warnings mostly due to extreme cold moving in. Some of the coldest temps we've seen in years. Moderate to heavy snow tomorrow for the southern half of BC #BCStorm @GlobalBC pic.twitter.com/UIiLMPKkMG
'-- Kasia Bodurka (@KasiaBodurka) January 11, 2020
Extreme cold warningFor northern areas including Fort Nelson, Dease Lake, the B.C. Peace River and Prince George, the cold will be even worse.
Extreme cold warnings are in place for those areas and others nearby, with forecasters saying winds as high as 40 km/h will bring temperatures down near -40 C by Saturday night.
In the far north, residents are being told to prepare for conditions as low as -45 C with the wind chill.
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1:37 Winter storm causes problems in Metro Vancouver Winter storm causes problems in Metro Vancouver Arctic outflow warnings have been issued for coastal and inland sections of the north and central coasts, with those areas expected to see wind chills at least -20 C below freezing by Saturday night.
Those coastal conditions will likely last ''well into next week,'' according to Environment Canada.
Winter storm hits highwayFinally, Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for Highway 3 between the Paulson Summit and Kootenay Pass in southern B.C.
The agency says bands of snow will bring 10 to 15 centimetres to the stretch by Saturday evening.
While the snow will ease off overnight, a more significant weather system arriving Sunday will bring an additional 15 to 25 centimetres of snow.
READ MORE: Okanagan bracing for bitter cold
Drivers are being warned to ''consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve,'' with visibility set to be impacted.
Crews are doing avalanche control work on the highway at the Kootenay Pass Saturday afternoon, closing the road down until the early evening..
Full information about road closures and conditions can be found on Drive BC.
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You can find all of Environment Canada's public weather statements for B.C. here.
REMINDER '' #BCHwy3 '' Avalanche control work will close the #KootenayPass today from 1:00 '' 4:00 pm PST. Alternate route available via #BCHwy3A and Kootenay Lake FerryDetails here: https://t.co/aLgq4omgmd#Salmo #NelsonBC #Creston #Kootenays pic.twitter.com/Z2TGZQcx0Q
'-- Drive BC (@DriveBC) January 11, 2020
2:02 B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan 10 B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan 10 (C) 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
e-Scooters
E-scooter startup Lime shuts in 12 markets, lays off around 100 - Axios
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 15:05
Scooter company Lime is laying off about 14% of its workforce (roughly 100 employees) and shuttering operations in 12 markets as it seeks to become profitable this year, the company tells Axios.
Why it matters: After two years of explosive growth, scooter companies have entered a new phase'--survival of the fittest in a capital-intensive, money-losing industry.
The big picture: Lime is not the first or only scooter company to make cuts.
Bird, Scoot, Lyft, and Skip have all held layoffs or retreated from certain markets over the past year. Lime too has made small cuts, as when it suspended operations and laid off workers in St. Louis in late 2018, though it emphasizes to Axios that it will continue to expand to new markets this year. The companies have generated headlines for huge losses as they attempt to manage vehicle attrition, labor costs, and regulatory battles. What they're saying: "We're very confident that in 2020, Lime will be the first next-generation mobility company to be profitable," Lime president Joe Kraus tells Axios.
He said that projection is based in part on improvements to Lime scooters' longevity, which in 2019 went from from six months to about 14 months. In between the lines: Kraus also refuted rumors that Lime is actively raising a new round of funding despite months of ongoing rumors that the company was running out of cash and looking for a fresh infusion. (Meanwhile, rival Bird announced in October $275 million in new funds.)
Kraus added that the company is not looking to sell but could be interested in being on the other side of the M&A table. "We always look opportunistically in being a buyer," he said.Details: Lime is ending operations in 12 markets where it says business was underperforming.
In the US: Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, San Antonio.In Latin America: Bogota, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Lima, Puerto Vallarta, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.In Europe: Linz (Austria). Editor's note: The story has been updated to show that scooter longevity was previously six months (not weeks).
Dogs are people too
Puppy pregnancy syndrome - Wikipedia
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 08:10
Puppy pregnancy syndrome is a psychosomatic illness in humans brought on by mass hysteria.
The syndrome is thought to be localized to villages in several states of India, including West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh, and has been reported by tens of thousands of individuals.[1] It is far more prevalent in areas with little access to education.[1]
People suffering from this condition believe that shortly after being bitten by a dog, puppies are conceived within their abdomen.[1] This is said to be especially likely if the dog is sexually excited at the time of the attack.[2] Victims are said to bark like dogs, and have reported being able to see the puppies inside them when looking at water, or hear them growling in their abdomen.[1][2][3] It is believed that the victims will eventually die '' especially men, who will give birth to their puppies through the penis.[2][3]
Witch doctors offer oral cures, which they claim will dissolve the puppies, allowing them to pass through the digestive system and be excreted "without the knowledge of the patient".[1][2]
Doctors in India have tried to educate the public about the dangers of believing in this condition.[3] Most sufferers are referred to psychiatric services, but in rare instances patients fail to take anti-rabies medication in time, thinking that they are pregnant with a puppy and thus the witch doctor's medicine will cure them.[1][2] This is further compounded by witch doctors stating that their medicine will fail if sufferers seek conventional treatment.[1]
Some psychiatrists believe that the syndrome meets the criteria for a culture-bound disorder.[2]
See also [ edit ] Clinical lycanthropyList of superstitions in IndiaReferences [ edit ] Further reading [ edit ] Chowdhury, A.N..; Mukherjee, Himadri; Ghosh, Kumar Kanti; Chowdhury, Shyamali (March 2003). "Puppy pregnancy in humans: a culture-bound disorder in rural West Bengal, India". The International Journal of Social Psychiatry. 49 (1): 35''42. doi:10.1177/0020764003049001536. PMID 12793514.
China
Taiwan re-elects president as voters oppose China influence
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 09:49
Tsai Ing-Wen (C) waves as she addresses supporters following her re-election as President of Taiwan on January 11, 2020 in Taipei, Taiwan.
Carl Court
Taiwanese re-elected President Tsai Ing-wen by a landslide on Saturday in a stern rebuke that could fuel further tension with China, which has tried military threats and economic inducements to get the island to accept its rule.
Anti-government unrest in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong took center stage during a campaign in which Tsai held up Taiwan as a beacon of hope for protesters in the former British colony and rejected Beijing's offer of a "one country, two systems" model.
China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory, to be taken by force if needed, a threat President Xi Jinping reiterated a year ago while saying he preferred a peaceful solution.
"One country, two systems," which gives a high degree of autonomy, much as Beijing uses in Hong Kong, has never been popular in Taiwan and is even less so after months of protests in Hong Kong.
China made itself even more unpopular in Taiwan in the run-up to the election by twice sailing its newest aircraft carrier through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, denounced by Taipei as an effort at military intimidation.
"We hope that the Beijing authorities can understand that a democratic Taiwan with a government chosen by the people will not give in to threats and intimidation," Tsai told reporters.
Beijing needs to understand the will of Taiwan's people, and that only Taiwan's people can decide its future, she added, repeating her firm opposition to "one country, two systems".
China's Taiwan Affairs Office, in a statement carried by state media, reaffirmed its commitment to this approach and its opposition to any form of independence.
Tsai beat her main opponent Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang party, which favors close ties with China, by more than 2.6 million votes. Underscoring the scale of her victory, Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party also won a majority in parliament.
The United States, Taiwan's strongest international backer and main arms supplier, congratulated Tsai. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Taiwan a "force for good in the world."
"The United States thanks President Tsai for her leadership in developing a strong partnership with the United States and applauds her commitment to maintaining cross-Strait stability in the face of unrelenting pressure," Pompeo said in a statement.
Landslide winTsai won almost 8.2 million votes in total, more than any Taiwan president since the island held its first direct presidential election in 1996.
Speaking in the southern city of Kaoshiung where he is mayor, Han, who had to fend off allegations from Tsai on the campaign trail that he and his party were puppets of Beijing, said he had called to congratulate Tsai.
"I still hope to see a united Taiwan after we wake up," Han said, accompanied by a swell of mournful music on stage. "I urge President Tsai Ing-wen to focus on giving people a life where they can live safely and happily."
Han said Taiwan could only be safe and prosperous if it had good relations with Beijing.
"People have been stirred up by the Hong Kong situation and that deceived many people into voting for Tsai," said Huang Lu-lu, 38, at what was supposed to be a victory rally for Han.
After his brief speech, the glum crowds dispersed, some crying.
Not good for ChinaChina cut off a dialogue mechanism when Tsai took office in 2016 and has regularly flown bombers near the island since.
China believes Tsai wants to push for a Republic of Taiwan, a red line for Beijing. Tsai says Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China.
Tsai's win is all the more embarrassing for China because it follows another landslide victory, in November, for pro-democracy candidates in Hong Kong in district council elections after residents turned out in record numbers.
"I believe friends in Hong Kong will be happy about our collective decision tonight," Tsai said.
Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong tweeted that Tsai's victory was a "precious moment" for the people of Hong Kong.
"Today is the day for the majority of Taiwanese to choose their fate, to safeguard their democracy and freedoms, and most importantly, to say no to CCP's authoritarian invasion," he wrote in English, referring to China's Communist Party.
Taiwanese are broadly sympathetic to the protesters in Hong Kong, an Asian financial hub.
"I saw what's happening in Hong Kong and it's horrible," said first-time voter Stacey Lin, 20, in the capital Taipei. "I just want to make sure I have the freedom to vote in the future."
Paralell Universes
Who Signs Up to Fight? Makeup of U.S. Recruits Shows Glaring Disparity
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 06:27
Sergeant First Class Dustin Comes, who leads a recruiting station in Colorado Springs, said the high schools with the most military families are the biggest producers of recruits.
(C) Theo Stroomer for The New York Times
COLORADO SPRINGS '-- The sergeant in charge of one of the busiest Army recruiting centers in Colorado, Sergeant First Class Dustin Comes, joined the Army, in part, because his father served. Now two of his four children say they want to serve, too. And he will not be surprised if the other two make the same decision once they are a little older.
''Hey, if that's what your calling is, I encourage it, absolutely,'' said Sergeant Comes, who wore a dagger-shaped patch on his camouflage uniform, signifying that he had been in combat.
Enlisting, he said, enabled him to build a good life where, despite yearlong deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, he felt proud of his work, got generous benefits, never worried about being laid off, and earned enough that his wife could stay home to raise their children.
''Show me a better deal for the common person,'' he said.
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Soldiers like him are increasingly making the United States military a family business. The men and women who sign up overwhelmingly come from counties in the South and a scattering of communities at the gates of military bases like Colorado Springs, which sits next to Fort Carson and several Air Force installations, and where the tradition of military service is deeply ingrained.
More and more, new recruits are the children of old recruits. In 2019, 79 percent of Army recruits reported having a family member who served. For nearly 30 percent, it was a parent '-- a striking point in a nation where less than 1 percent of the population serves in the military.
For years, military leaders have been sounding the alarm over the growing gulf between communities that serve and those that do not, warning that relying on a small number of counties that reliably produce soldiers is unsustainable, particularly now amid escalating tensions with Iran.
''A widening military-civilian divide increasingly impacts our ability to effectively recruit and sustain the force,'' Anthony M. Kurta, acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service last year. ''This disconnect is characterized by misperceptions, a lack of knowledge and an inability to identify with those who serve. It threatens our ability to recruit the number of quality youth with the needed skill sets to maintain our advantage.''
To be sure, the idea of joining the military has lost much of its luster in nearly two decades of grinding war. The patriotic rush to enlist after the terrorist attacks of 2001 has faded. For a generation, enlisting has produced reliable hardship for troops and families, but nothing that resembles victory. But the military families who have borne nearly all of the burden, and are the most cleareyed about the risks of war, are still the Americans who are most likely to encourage their sons and daughters to join.
With the goal of recruiting about 68,000 soldiers in 2020, the Army is now trying to broaden its appeal beyond traditional recruitment pools. New marketing plays up future careers in medicine and tech, as well as generous tuition benefits for a generation crushed by student debt. The messaging often notes that most Army jobs are not in combat fields.
But for now, rates of military service remain far from equal in the United States, and the gap may continue to widen because a driving decision to enlist is whether a young person knows anyone who served in the military. In communities where veterans are plentiful, teachers, coaches, mothers, uncles and other mentors often steer youths toward military service. In communities where veterans are scarce, influential adults are more wary.
That has created a broad gap, easily seen on a map. The South, where the culture of military service runs deep and military installations are plentiful, produces 20 percent more recruits than would be expected, based on its youth population. The states in the Northeast, which have very few military bases and a lower percentage of veterans, produce 20 percent fewer.
The main predictors are not based on class or race. Army data show service spread mostly evenly through middle-class and ''downscale'' groups. Youth unemployment turns out not to be the prime factor. And the racial makeup of the force is more or less in line with that of young Americans as a whole, though African-Americans are slightly more likely to serve. Instead, the best predictor is a person's familiarity with the military.
''Those who understand military life are more likely to consider it as a career option than those who do not,'' said Kelli Bland, a spokeswoman for the Army's Recruiting Command.
That distinction has created glaring disparities across the country. In 2019, Fayetteville, N.C., which is home to Fort Bragg, provided more than twice as many military enlistment contracts as Manhattan, even though Manhattan has eight times as many people. Many of the new contracts in Fayetteville were soldiers signing up for second and third enlistments.
This was not always the case. Military service was once spread fairly evenly '-- at least geographically '-- throughout the nation because of the draft. But after the draft ended in 1973, enlistments shifted steadily south of the Mason-Dixon line. The military's decision to close many bases in Northern states where long winters limited training only hastened the trend.
Today, students growing up in military communities are constantly exposed to the people who serve. Moms pick up their sons from day care in flight suits. Dads attend the fourth-grade holiday party in camouflage. High schools often have Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs in which students wear uniforms to class once a week and can earn credit for learning about science, leadership and fitness through a military framework.
Many schools encourage students to take the military's aptitude exam, the ASVAB, in the way students nationwide are pushed to take the SAT.
That exposure during school is one of the strongest predictors of enlistment rates, according to a 2018 report by the Institute for Defense Analyses.
In Colorado Springs, the high schools with the highest number of military families are also the biggest producers of recruits, Sergeant Comes said, adding that parents aware of the military's camaraderie, stability and generous health, education and retirement benefits often march their children into his office and encourage them to join.
''We just tell them our story: 'This is where I was, one of six kids living in a trailer. This is where I am today.' Good pay check. Great benefits,'' he said, adding that even in good economic times, it is an easy sell. His recruiting station made its goals handily this month.
His biggest challenge is finding recruits before they are scooped up by recruiters from the Air Force, Navy and Marines, who work the same fertile neighborhoods.
The situation is markedly different in regions where few people traditionally join.
In Los Angeles, a region defined by liberal politics where many families are suspicious of the military, the Army has struggled to even gain access to high schools. By law, schools have to allow recruiters on campus once a semester, but administrators tightly control when and how recruiters can interact with students. Access is ''very minimal,'' said Lt. Col. Tameka Wilson, the commander of the Los Angeles Recruiting Battalion.
Predictably, enlistment rates are low.
In 2019 the Army made a push to increase recruiting efforts in 22 liberal-leaning cities like Los Angeles. As part of that, Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy visited officials from the Los Angeles Unified School District in December to push for greater access.
''He was doing a sort of listening tour,'' said Patricia Heideman, who is in charge of high school instruction for the school district and said there was a perception the military preys on disadvantaged students. ''I told him from the educator perspective, we sometimes feel they are targeting our black and brown students and students of poverty,'' she said. And therefore they are less likely to push enlistment.
Recognizing it cannot sustain recruitment numbers by relying only on the South and military communities, the Army has tried to broaden its appeal. Slick ads on social media offer less of the guns-and-grunts messaging of decades past. Instead they play up college benefits and career training in medical and tech fields.
Even within one state there are striking differences in how communities view military service. Colorado Springs produced 29 times as many enlistments in 2019 as nearby Boulder, a liberal university town.
''I grew up in Boulder, and the military appealed to me but it was just not in the culture, or my family,'' said Brett Dollar, who now lives in Fort Collins, Colo. ''The conversation was not 'What do you want to do after high school?' but 'Which college are you going to go to?'''
She attended Middlebury College in Vermont before becoming a police officer in Fort Collins and, eventually, a law enforcement dog handler.
This fall, at age 32, she decided to enlist in the Army, drawn by the chance to work with dogs in security, bomb-sniffing and rescue missions around the world. She ships to basic training in about a week.
''I'd always had an itch to serve in the military and be useful,'' she said. ''I think it took me being on my own for a while to realize it was a possibility.''
She said she was going into the work knowing she could soon end up deployed to a combat zone.
''The Army is ultimately a war-fighting organization '-- you go in knowing that,'' she said. ''I guess I really didn't see that as a downside. It's a core value of mine to try to be of service.''
Dave Philipps reported from Colorado Springs and Tim Arango from Los Angeles.
BTC
ECB's Lagarde: We Want to Develop Digital Currencies but Won't Discourage Private Initiatives - CoinDesk
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 10:08
Christine Lagarde image via CoinDesk archive
ECB's Lagarde: We Want to Develop Digital Currencies but Won't Discourage Private InitiativesThe European Central Bank is eager to expand its role in developing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), but that doesn't mean private enterprises can't join the party, said President Christine Lagarde.
In an interview Wednesday with French business magazine, Challenges, Lagarde reiterated the ECB wants to play an active role in cryptocurrencies. As businesses and individuals make more cross-border payments round the clock, Lagarde said the bank would continue looking into "the feasibility and merits of a CBDC."
Lagarde, who previously said the ECB should be "ahead of the curve" when it comes to CBDCs, added the bank does not want to stand in the way of cryptocurrencies created outside its sphere. "[T]he prospect of central bank initiatives should neither discourage nor crowd out private market-led solutions for fast and efficient retail payments in the euro area," she said.
CBDCs may have significant implications for the bloc's financial sector and changes in monetary policy going forward, Lagarde said. The ECB formed a cryptocurrency task force last month that would work closely with eurozone central banks to understand the benefits and costs of a possible eurozone CBDC.
Global interest in CBDCs came soon after the unveiling of Facebook's Libra in the summer. Although the People's Bank of China (PBOC) has been working on its "digital yuan" for years, officials only started divulging information on it late last summer, reportedly concerned private initiatives could take market share before the government currency launched.
In addition, CBDCs may provide citizens with a means of exchange in the event "physical cash eventually declines," possibly in tandem with private crypto initiatives.
Most central bankers have described the relationship between cryptocurrencies, CBDCs and fiat currencies as exclusive and adversarial. Outgoing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said last year a multi-fiat-backed CBDC could well replace the U.S. dollar as the dominant global reserve currency. IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath argued cryptocurrencies, including CBDCs, lacked key infrastructure and global acceptance to successfully tackle the greenback.
Although Lagarde has said cryptocurrencies could address many of the problems with the legacy financial system, she said they might also present new risks to users. Last month, she expressed concern Facebook could use its digital platform to lock out rival stablecoin operators and thereby gain an unfair advantage.
Disclosure Read More The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.
TDS
Court sentences man to 90 days in jail after he spit on man wearing 'MAGA' hat | TheHill
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 02:59
A Florida man was sentenced to 90 days in jail after spitting on a man wearing a ''Make America Great Again'' hat at a restaurant in southern Florida.
According to Treasure Coast Newspapers, an Indian River County judge accepted a no-contest plea Thursday and determined 43-year-old Matthias Ajple was guilty of battery on 67-year-old Robert Youngblood.
Surveillance footage at a restaurant in Vero Beach, Fla., shows Ajple placing what appears to be a paper towel on the head of Youngblood, who was wearing a MAGA hat.
According to court documents obtained by Treasure Coast Newspapers, Ajple told Youngblood, "You should go back to Russia you ... communist," before slapping his hat off and spitting on him.
Ajple drove away, but Youngblood wrote down his license plate and turned it in to authorities.
"I was just trying to protect you guys because I support law enforcement. Trump supporters are communist and racist," Ajple told the deputy. "I don't even care that I'm going to jail; this is actually exciting."
"Plus, I have more time on this earth than he does anyway; he probably feels so good about himself," Ajple said, according to the report.
In addition to the 90 days in jail, Ajple must pay Youngblood $155 in restitution and report to 72 hours of supervised probation.
Unhoused
(6) liv🥺 on Twitter: "this makes me so sad ðŸ' animal rights activists taking a homeless man's dog https://t.co/FS5q8SIgEz" / Twitter
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 14:19
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Out There
Mystery of Weird Hum Heard Around the World Solved | Live Science
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 09:32
HomeNews(Image: (C) Shutterstock)
Mysterious seismic hums detected around the world were likely caused by an unusual geologic event '-- the rumblings of a magma-filled reservoir deep under the Indian Ocean, a new study finds.
These odd hums were an unconventional geologic birth announcement. A few months after the sounds rippled around the Earth, a new underwater volcano was born off the coast of the island of Mayotte, located between Madagascar and Mozambique in the Indian Ocean.
The new findings provide a detailed, one-year timeline of the newborn volcano's birth, which would make any mother (in this case, Mother Earth) proud. The study details how magma from a reservoir about 20 miles (35 kilometers) under the ocean floor migrated upward, traveling through Earth's crust until it reached the seafloor and created the new volcano.
Related: 10 Most Hazardous Countries For Volcanoes (Photos)
"It took only [a] few weeks for the magma to propagate from the upper mantle to the seafloor, where a new submarine volcano was born," study lead researcher Simone Cesca, a seismologist at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany, told Live Science in an email.
This illustration shows how magma in a reservoir deep underground ascended to form a submarine volcano in the Indian Ocean. (Image credit: James Tuttle Keane/Nature Geoscience (2020)) A volcano is bornThe saga began in May 2018, when global earthquake-monitoring agencies detected thousands of earthquakes near Mayotte, including a magnitude-5.9 quake, the largest ever detected in the region. Then, in November 2018, seismologists recorded weird seismic hums, some lasting up to 40 minutes, buzzing around the world. To put it mildly, these mysterious hums "trigger[ed] the curiosity of the scientific community," the researchers wrote in the study.
The researchers found more than 400 such signals, Cesca said.
In 2019, a French oceanographic mission showed that a new volcano had been born near Mayotte. It was huge, measuring about 3.1 miles (5 km) long and almost a half mile (0.8 km) high.
Other researchers have suggested that these mysterious hums were tied to the new volcano and possibly a shrinking underground magma chamber, given that Mayotte has sunk and moved several inches since the earthquakes began. However, that research has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
In the new study, the researchers used data gathered worldwide, as there wasn't any local seismic data available from Mayotte. Their analyses show that two major stages led to the volcano's birth. First, magma from a 9-mile-wide (15 km) reservoir flowed upward diagonally until it reached the seafloor, leading to a submarine eruption, Cesca said. As the magma moved, it "triggered energetic earthquakes along its path to the surface," he said. "In fact, we reconstructed the upward migration of magma by following the upward migration of earthquakes."
A sketch showing the deep magma reservoir and the magma highway that led to the new submarine volcano in the Indian Ocean. (Image credit: Cesca et al. 2019, Nature Geoscience)In the next stage, the magma path became a highway of sorts, allowing magma to flow out of the reservoir to the seafloor, where it built the volcano. As the reservoir drained, Mayotte sank almost 8 inches (20 centimeters). It also caused the area above the reservoir, called the overburden, to weaken and sag, creating small faults and fractures there. When earthquakes related to the volcano and tectonic plates shook this particular area above the reservoir, they triggered "the resonance of the deep reservoir and generate[d] the peculiar, very long period signals," Cesca said. In other words, those strange seismic hums.
Related: Photos: Hawaii's New Underwater Volcano
In all, about 0.4 cubic miles (1.5 cubic km) of magma drained out of the reservoir, the researchers calculated. However, given the vast size of the volcano, it's likely that even more magma was involved, Cesca noted.
Although the volcano is now formed, earthquakes may still rattle the area.
"There are still possible hazards for the island of Mayotte today," study senior researcher and head of the section Physics of Earthquakes and Volcanoes at the GFZ Torsten Dahm, said in a statement "The Earth's crust above the deep reservoir could continue to collapse, triggering stronger earthquakes."
The new study was published online Monday (Jan. 6) in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The 10 Biggest Earthquakes in HistoryPhotos: Fiery Lava from Kilauea Volcano Erupts on Hawaii's Big IslandIn Photos: Aftermath of Iceland Volcano FloodsOriginally published on Live Science.
Inida
Citizenship Act, passed by Parliament last month, comes into effect - india news - Hindustan Times
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 06:55
The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 that grants citizenship on the basis of religion came into force on Friday.
In a gazette notification, the Union home ministry said the act under which non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be given Indian citizenship, will come into force from January 10.
''In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of the section 1 of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (47 of 2019), the Central government hereby appoints the 10th day of January, 2020, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,'' the notification said.
The CAA was passed by parliament on December 11 last year.
Critics say that the Act is discriminatory and violates Article 14 of the Constitution, however, PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have on several occasions underlined that it only provides a refuge to the six communities who have faced religious persecution in the three countries mentioned above.
Amid raging protests across the country over the Act, the home minister made it clear that the government won't move back even an inch on the Act. The government has been saying that the minority groups from the three countries have no other option but to come India when they face religious persecution there.
The home ministry, however, is yet to frame the rules for the act.
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VIDEO - (14) Sky News on Twitter: "The UK's Ambassador in Iran has said he was detained half an hour after leaving a vigil for victims of the downed Ukrainian flight, but Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister describes the arrest differently. @haynesdeborah has
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 07:30
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VIDEO - Tom Steyer Spending Suggest Explanation For Surprise Polls In NV, SC | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC - YouTube
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 07:28
VIDEO - Joe Biden 'confuses Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden' during rally in Iowa | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 07:00
Joe Biden 'confuses Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden' during rally in Iowa - as Bernie Sanders surges ahead in new poll after stinging attacks on the former VP's foreign policy recordJoe Biden mixed up Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein at a rally last weekend while responding to a voter's concerns about his foreign policy recordThree days later, the former VP confused Iran and Iraq while speaking at an event in NYC Democratic rival Bernie Sanders has blasted Biden over his foreign policy record as the issue takes center stage amid increasing US tensions with Iran A new poll shows Sanders surging ahead in Iowa ahead of next month's caucuses, with Biden languishing in fourth place Biden's wife, Jill, hit back at Sanders' criticism of her husband on Saturday, telling CNN: ' I don't like it that Democrats attack other Democrats' By Andrew Court For Dailymail.com
Published: 10:03 EST, 11 January 2020 | Updated: 10:39 EST, 11 January 2020
Joe Biden reportedly confused Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden while defending his foreign policy record during a rally in Iowa.
The former Vice President, 77, made the gaffe while responding to a voter who asked whether he could be trusted on foreign policy, given that he voted to authorize the use of military force in Iraq in 2002 and cautioned President Obama against conducting the successful raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in 2011.
According to Politico, Biden at one point scrambled the two separate incidents in his 'lengthy response' by mixing up the former Iraqi president with the one-time leader of al-Qaeda.
The incident occurred last Saturday at a rally in Des Moines - three days before he mixed up Iran and Iraq while speaking at an event in New York.
Biden is trying to tout his foreign policy experience and present himself as a steady hand following President Trump's strike on Qassem Soleimani and increasing tensions between the US and Iran.
But Biden has been attacked over his record by Democratic rival Bernie Sanders who is surging ahead of the former VP in a new poll of Iowa voters.
On Monday, Sanders blasted Biden during an interview on CNN, stating: 'Joe Biden voted and helped lead the effort for the war in Iraq, the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country.'
Joe Biden reportedly confused Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden while defending his foreign policy record during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa last weekend. He is pictured at the event
According to Politico, Biden at one point mixed up the former Iraqi president (left) with the one-time leader of al-Qaeda (right)
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with The Washington Post earlier this week, Sanders blasted Biden again, stating: 'People are tired of the traditional types of campaigns in which candidates like Joe are running to wealthy people's homes and raising large sums of money.'
He added: 'It's just a lot of baggage that Joe takes into a campaign, which isn't going to create energy and excitement. He brings into this campaign a record which is so weak that it just cannot create the kind of excitement and energy that is going to be needed to defeat Donald Trump.'
The attacks on Biden appear to be working for Sanders - who famously voted against intervention in Iraq - as he is now the frontrunner in Iowa, according to a new CNN/ Des Moines register poll released Friday.
Sanders has jumped five points from a previous poll conducted in November, and now commands 20% of the new poll's vote share.
The attacks on Biden appear to be working for Sanders who is now the frontrunner in Iowa, according to a new CNN/ Des Moines register poll released Friday
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warrren is holding steady with 17%, while former frontrunner Pete Buttigieg has seen his support slip in the state, dropping a whopping nine points in the two months since the November poll.
He now commands 16% of the share - but is still ahead of Biden, who is languishing in fourth place with 15%.
Meanwhile, Biden's wife, Dr Jill Biden, doesn't approve of Sander's stinging new attacks on her husband - hitting back in a CNN interview on Saturday.
The former Second Lady stated: 'Joe has been under attack because he's doing so well. And I don't like it that Democrats attack other Democrats. We're in this race against Donald Trump. We're not against any of the other Democrats.'
As for Sanders' claims that her husband has baggage, Jill shot back: 'That's ridiculous!'
Biden's wife, Dr Jill Biden, doesn't approve of Sander's stinging new attacks on her husband - hitting back in a CNN interview on Saturday
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VIDEO - (3) . on Twitter: "Prince Harry said what he said and I'm here to remind you. Period. https://t.co/t1dyZ8Tt3A" / Twitter
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 06:33
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VIDEO - B.C. father's attempt to stop child's gender change tossed out by appeal court | Globalnews.ca
Sun, 12 Jan 2020 06:11
A B.C. father has been told by the province's highest court not to stand in the way of his teenage son's gender transition treatment and to try and better understand gender dysphoria.
The father, whose name is under a publication ban along with his son's, went to court after learning his female-born child was undergoing hormone therapy to transition to a male.
The boy, now 15, has said he identified as a male since he was 11 and began exploring transition treatment since he was 13. The boy's father first went to court in 2018 after learning of his son's intentions, arguing no treatment should be provided if he didn't approve or give permission.
READ MORE: U.S. could roll back transgender rights by dropping 'gender identity' from discrimination laws
The B.C. Supreme Court sided with the boy in an earlier decision, saying he didn't need his father's consent. The father was also served with an injunction that warned any attempt to pressure his son to abandon treatment was a form of family violence.
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In a decision posted Friday, the B.C. Court of Appeal said the father, while entitled to his beliefs, cannot interfere with his son's decision and said the boy is mature enough to pursue transition treatment on his own.
''[The father's] refusal to respect [the boy's] decisions regarding his gender identity is troublesome,'' Chief Justice Robert Bauman and Justice Barbara Fisher wrote in the decision.
3:00 Toronto YouTuber documents gender transition to support youth Toronto YouTuber documents gender transition to support youth The justices added the father's rejection of his son's identity has caused the boy ''significant pain'' that has ''resulted in a rupture of what both parties refer to as an otherwise loving parent-child relationship.''
''This rupture is not in [the boy's] best interests,'' the decision reads. ''He clearly wants and needs acceptance and support from his father.''
The father was partially appealing the lower court's ruling that limited what he could say publicly about his son's transition, saying his repeated insistence on referring to his child as his daughter and by his original female name was also a form of family violence.
READ MORE: Transgender man sues Catholic hospital for refusing sex transition surgery
The father had gone to the media to tell his story, continually refusing to accept his child's new gender identity in a series of interviews published online.
While Bauman and Fisher acknowledged the son's mental anguish over the interviews, they said the father did not intend that outcome and his actions did not meet the threshold of family violence, overturning the lower court order putting limits on who he could talk to.
However, the judges still said he must acknowledge and refer to his child as a male and by the name the teen has chosen. The father can also express his feelings to family, close friends and close advisors, as long as they're not members of the media and promise not to share the information with others.
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READ MORE: Trans teen's war with his body started when he was just 10
The judges say the father's attempts to be involved in the process have been by fueled by personal stances without any direct involvement with the boy's medical team, which has tried to contact him to be a part of meetings with his son and the boy's mother.
The mother '-- who has been supportive of her son's wishes and first got him in contact with a psychologist when the boy first expressed his desire to transition '-- has been separated from the father for a number of years.
They urged the father to engage with the boy's medical team and to listen to his son.
''If he fails to do these two things, the rupture in his relationship with (his son) will likely not heal, which would not be in (the boy's) best interests,'' they wrote.
(C) 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
VIDEO - German shipping companies and the arms trade | DW Documentary - YouTube
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VIDEO - If Hillary Becomes President, What Would We Call Bill Clinton? Hear His Hilarious Pitch! | Rachael Ray Show
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VIDEO - ILL BILL - EXPLODING OCTOPUS - YouTube
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 09:35
VIDEO - MCLUHAN UNCLAIMED: WESTERN CYNICAL - YouTube
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 09:20
VIDEO - The end of Juan Guaid": Venezuelan coup leader rejected by country's opposition - YouTube
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 09:04
VIDEO - Democrats on Soleimani's death: "He was a murderer and terrorist BUT" | SUPERcuts! #732
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 08:52
VIDEO - My Gift To Climate Alarmists - YouTube
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 08:43
VIDEO - Clip from final season of Silicon Valley. - YouTube
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VIDEO - Donald The Big Orange Dog - YouTube
Sat, 11 Jan 2020 08:12
VIDEO-Paul Joseph Watson on Twitter: "This is so cringe it went 180 and became ironically based. Or maybe not. https://t.co/0l5oWAbALT" / Twitter
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 22:30
Log in Sign up Paul Joseph Watson @ PrisonPlanet This is so cringe it went 180 and became ironically based.Or maybe not.
pic.twitter.com/0l5oWAbALT 7:01 PM - 10 Jan 2020 Twitter by: The Deplorable Choir'­¸'­¸'­¸ @DeplorableChoir deteewteR @ Ycart91796767
1h Replying to
@PrisonPlanet pic.twitter.com/GlfPlO94ih View conversation · I REED GUD TOO @ I_GRAMMERGOOD
1h Replying to
@PrisonPlanet I scratched a chalk board with a fork to drown out that sound
View conversation · r @ getlegi7
1h Replying to
@PrisonPlanet this is the Webster definition for boomer content
View conversation · 🛠TheFixerBearðŸ>> @ Z_Brock
1h Replying to
@PrisonPlanet pic.twitter.com/7lDmS7JhSE View conversation · ''Mad Dog'' Bill James @ MadDogBillJames
1h Replying to
@PrisonPlanet I'd hit it
View conversation · Relocate to Romania @ relocateromania
1h Replying to
@PrisonPlanet Are those mosque speakers on bluetooth? I have an idea
View conversation · eyedbythetiger @ eyedbythetiger
1h Replying to
@relocateromania @PrisonPlanet Rofl
View conversation · ðŸ´ó §ó ó "ó £ó ´ó NoSuchWife🇺🇸wifeof:exFortMeade&UAEhostage @ invictusjuvat
1h Replying to
@PrisonPlanet ....their kids are being bullied by the TOLERANT LEFT👇
pic.twitter.com/ecrAgp16Og View conversation · nikolas @ gadget112
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@PrisonPlanet This is why the terrorists hate us !
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VIDEO-NPR Politics on Twitter: "Some more behind-the-scenes radio magic: we're doing some retakes! #nprpoliticslive https://t.co/56AsqloDnv" / Twitter
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 22:27
Replying to
@nprpolitics Right now, the hosts are taking listener questions '-- and it's a great time to plug our callout on the postcards we passed out tonight. Now that the podcast is daily, what topics would you like to see the show cover? Let us know!
#nprpoliticslive
VIDEO - Dem Rep Doubles Down on Blaming Trump for Iran Shooting Down Airliner - YouTube
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 10:33
VIDEO - Dem Rep. Calls on Pelosi to Hand Over Articles of Impeachment to Senate - YouTube
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 10:21
VIDEO - Democrats on Soleimani's death: "He was a murderer and terrorist BUT" | SUPERcuts! #732 - YouTube
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 10:19
VIDEO - Firefighter blames government for Australia's bushfire crisis | 7NEWS - YouTube
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 08:06
VIDEO-Aaron Rupar on Twitter: "TRUMP: "I give up my salary -- it's $450,000, approximately $450,000 presidential salary -- I give it up, usually to drugs." ðŸ" https://t.co/beuxid0ivH" / Twitter
Fri, 10 Jan 2020 07:39
Log in Sign up Aaron Rupar @ atrupar
21h worst Village People tribute band of all time
pic.twitter.com/9aMU2WtQbb View photo · Aaron Rupar @ atrupar
21h Replying to
@atrupar here's Trump flipping the bird after a reporter brings up Joe Biden and Adam Schiff. No big deal.
pic.twitter.com/dCKuotrxMP View conversation · Aaron Rupar @ atrupar
21h Replying to
@atrupar Trump dismisses Mike Lee trashing the Soleimani briefing: "I had calls from numerous senators and numerous congressmen and women saying it was the greatest presentation they ever had."
pic.twitter.com/hGYYSWmAdl View conversation · Aaron Rupar @ atrupar
21h Replying to
@atrupar Trump has now totally dropped the "imminent threat" talking point and is explicitly saying the Soleimani assassination was "retribution"
pic.twitter.com/n4EcCAsrdQ View conversation · Aaron Rupar @ atrupar
21h Replying to
@atrupar Trump on plane that crashed in Iran: "I have my suspicions ... it was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood. Some people say it was mechanical. I don't even think that's a question, personally."
pic.twitter.com/2TNJosBPRi View conversation · Aaron Rupar @ atrupar
21h Replying to
@atrupar REPORTER: You said Iran was trying to blow up the embassy in Baghdad. Can you provide more details?TRUMP: "No, I think it was obvious. If you look at the protests, and this was the anti-Benghazi. Benghazi was a disaster."
pic.twitter.com/oh0n9OfTMc View conversation · Aaron Rupar @ atrupar
21h Replying to
@atrupar Trump says he doesn't think global warming is a hoax (contradicting many of his past statements), then adds, "I want clear air, clean water" (which are not related to global warming)
pic.twitter.com/ZgJyDLXOUy View conversation · Aaron Rupar @ atrupar Replying to @atrupar TRUMP: "I give up my salary -- it's $450,000, approximately $450,000 presidential salary -- I give it up, usually to drugs." ðŸ"
pic.twitter.com/beuxid0ivH 9:10 AM - 9 Jan 2020 Twitter by: Aaron Rupar @atrupar Trumpy Trumpy (parody) @ outofcontroljb
20h Replying to
@atrupar "I spend $400,000 a year on Adderall and $50,000 a year on Cocaine, believe me!"
View conversation · Tr¼mpel P¼mpel @ DerStorms
20h Replying to
@outofcontroljb @atrupar "RUDY gets most of the cocaine!! HE likes it a lot!!! HE also offered me MELANIE IN A CATALOGUE!! SHE WAS SO EXPENSIVE!!! SAD!!"
View conversation · KD @ Fly_Sistah
20h Replying to
@atrupar twitter.com/Fly_Sistah/sta'... View conversation · RespectisEarnednotGIVEN @ ItsKey_70sbaby
20h Replying to
@Fly_Sistah @atrupar But cost $115M+ in golf so preferred he took the salary. The only check remembered was to Parks after that crickets - wonder if media will every check??
View conversation · CountryOverConman @ TrumpNewsPolls
20h Replying to
@atrupar He's played enough golf to pay 260+ years of presidential salary.
View conversation · Jennifer @ SilverSprings88
17h Replying to
@TrumpNewsPolls @atrupar Isn't it something like 200 years of presidential salary he has already spent golfing?
View conversation · 999Username000 @ OrionWinning
20h Replying to
@atrupar So he gives his salary up to spend it on drugs and to Elaine Chao?
View conversation · ðŸ...… The Tolerited Captain 🇺🇲ðŸ‡ðŸ‡® @ 1BravoRebel
20h Replying to
@OrionWinning @atrupar Elaine Chao whose family has a shipping business that was at least once filled with drugs. Hmmm
View conversation · Carol M 🚴''‚¸ðŸš´''‚¸ 🌊🌊🆸 @ cmc435
20h Replying to
@atrupar The supposed billionaire gives up his $450,000 salary .... did he say DRUGS??Damn. And we thought he was trying to keep that a secret
View conversation · ðŸ"¸'ðŸŒKrysti AF ðŸ"¸'ðŸŒ @ TheRuntSquad
18h Replying to
@cmc435 @atrupar Right now there's a journalist writing a story on this, who's been researching and chasing down interviews for years. And Trump just...tweets it out... I mean blurts it out. ðŸ‚
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VIDEO - Those Conspiracy Guys on Twitter: "Holy fuckin shit balls! I need to protect my family and ''if you knew what I knew'' you would do the same! There you have it; he doesn't want history to repeat itself! I mean, if this isn't straight up fing
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 18:01
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VIDEO-Sky News on Twitter: "Boris Johnson says four British nationals were among those killed when a passenger jet came down in Iran adding "there is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an American surface-to-air missile.
Thu, 09 Jan 2020 14:53
Log in Sign up Sky News @ SkyNews Boris Johnson says four British nationals were among those killed when a passenger jet came down in Iran adding "there is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an American surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional"
po.st/DRHZSI pic.twitter.com/vnWKNE717t 12:37 PM - 9 Jan 2020 Twitter by: Sky News @SkyNews Stuart @ stuart180
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@SkyNews That's quite a typo!
pic.twitter.com/vRfy7vMxCt View conversation · Clubberlang. @ Paper_Champ_
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@SkyNews Intern causes World War 3
View conversation · AV Mena @ avmena
10m Replying to
@SkyNews Biggest typo ever in Twitter history! Shame on SkyNews
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@SkyNews Might want to correct that tweet
View conversation · Luke Jones @ OneJonesy1982
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@SkyNews Someone's getting sacked.
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@SkyNews FO. Change your damn tweet.
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    grabbing this clip of Michael Bloomberg
  • 2:08
    going on and on about the about the
  • 2:10
    thing oh he's being interviewed in a
  • 2:13
    train and they asked him this the Aster
  • 2:15
    that and the only thing he was excited
  • 2:17
    about her seemed to want to talk about
  • 2:18
    was this the fact that Harry and Megan
  • 2:24
    are trying to extract themselves
  • 2:28
    although a lot of people just think
  • 2:29
    Megan has gaslighted Harry well there's
  • 2:32
    a lot going on here first of all the
  • 2:35
    obsession with the royal family in the
  • 2:40
    United Kingdom for one and as you know a
  • 2:41
    lot of the press here in the United
  • 2:43
    States just copy and paste the Daily
  • 2:45
    Mail anyway I'm looking at you Silicon
  • 2:48
    Valley shit rags it's like oh this is a
  • 2:51
    good story click me yeah yeah I'll write
  • 2:53
    it a little differently no problem
  • 2:56
    America is obsessed were obsessed with
  • 2:58
    royalty and were were just all shitty
  • 3:02
    about it and one after another of these
  • 3:05
    royalty experts on CNN yesterday just
  • 3:08
    boom boom boom boom boom they love the
  • 3:11
    love love love Megan and Harry and it's
  • 3:16
    obvious they got the Diana deal
  • 3:21
    I'm sorry oh the Diana deal yeah
  • 3:24
    what's the Diana deals you're gonna die
  • 3:26
    that's the Diana deal
  • 3:28
    you have sobbing he's gonna get killed
  • 3:30
    by the I Do's men no I do oh you think
  • 3:34
    she's gonna get killed by the Kingsmen
  • 3:36
    oh yeah oh yeah I think it's all over
  • 3:39
    listen she she came in this is not a
  • 3:42
    real royal he's the he's the son of the
  • 3:45
    was in the Navy captain or whoever Diana
  • 3:50
    had that whatever redhead was a problem
  • 3:57
    yeah so the Queen brought sit all right
  • 3:59
    you know what it's okay bring in Megan
  • 4:02
    and then uh oh she's brown I'm shipping
  • 4:05
    you off to Africa which is I'm telling
  • 4:08
    you racist they are over there
  • 4:10
    so yeah you you go do a tour of Africa
  • 4:13
    that'll be good because you know you'll
  • 4:15
    you'll help reconnect the the bonds with
  • 4:19
    the the British Empire and with the
  • 4:20
    royal family because you know you know
  • 4:23
    you're kind of brown so yeah but then
  • 4:26
    Harry I think caught on to what was
  • 4:29
    really going on and this is precisely
  • 4:32
    how it went down with Diana and she
  • 4:34
    tried to extract herself she went on the
  • 4:37
    world stage she did a lot of good and
  • 4:40
    she wound up dead and there's this
  • 4:42
    interview that I found through with
  • 4:44
    Prince Harry I'm fairly sure it's the
  • 4:48
    real deal it could be a deep fake but it
  • 4:51
    was video so I you know I watched as
  • 4:53
    close as I could it sounds like him I
  • 4:55
    think it's him and what he's saying
  • 4:57
    isn't all that extraordinary unless you
  • 4:59
    think about the Diana deal my mum told
  • 5:03
    me a certain set of values of which I
  • 5:06
    will always try and uphold despite the
  • 5:09
    the role in the job that's sometimes
  • 5:13
    that entails if you don't I mean but I
  • 5:15
    think I always I always protect my
  • 5:20
    family and now I have a family to
  • 5:21
    protect
  • 5:22
    so everything that everything that she
  • 5:26
    went through and what happens is
  • 5:28
    incredibly brought every single day and
  • 5:29
    that's not me being paranoid that's just
  • 5:31
    me
  • 5:32
    not wanting a repeat of the past and if
  • 5:36
    anybody else knew what I knew if better
  • 5:40
    father be a husband and anyone he
  • 5:43
    probably did be doing exactly what I
  • 5:45
    what I'm doing as well if anyone else
  • 5:47
    knew what I knew you'd probably do the
  • 5:50
    same thing that's what he says now can
  • 5:52
    we interpret that as the paparazzi will
  • 5:55
    be the death of you I don't think
  • 5:58
    they're quite at that level but
  • 6:01
    certainly Megan Marco has all of the
  • 6:03
    same hmm personality traits with the gas
  • 6:09
    with Hollywood yes I have a quick
  • 6:12
    analysis if anyone knew what I knew now
  • 6:16
    knowing that he was born from out of
  • 6:18
    from Diana via some character that you
  • 6:23
    mentioned earlier yeah he may know
  • 6:26
    because he's not a lizard if you listen
  • 6:38
    to this report they're hanging out with
  • 6:41
    lizards your reporting is that they're
  • 6:42
    gonna move to LA for the most part do
  • 6:45
    you have a residence in Canada as well
  • 6:46
    but it looks like Megan is going back to
  • 6:49
    LA yes I mean that's where she grew up
  • 6:50
    that's where her mother is she's an LA
  • 6:52
    girl you know that's where her friends
  • 6:54
    are you know and also be since marrying
  • 6:56
    Harry they've got more showbiz friends
  • 6:57
    like the Clooney's and Optra
  • 6:59
    that's where they want to be that's
  • 7:01
    where Megan doesn't she take a lot of
  • 7:03
    advice from Oprah and the Clooney's and
  • 7:05
    then that I mean oh we're hearing that
  • 7:07
    they have a lot of advice on this and
  • 7:09
    encouragement on this to break out and
  • 7:13
    how the Clooney's man the Clooney's did
  • 7:15
    it there's proof fencing but I cannot
  • 7:18
    underestimate what an earthquake this is
  • 7:20
    in in the UK as far as the break from
  • 7:24
    protocol the Queen didn't know anything
  • 7:26
    about it the royal family are furious
  • 7:28
    Harry's father Prince Charles is furious
  • 7:30
    it really is a huge scandal so they're
  • 7:32
    not abdicating they're just kind of
  • 7:34
    stepping back so really they they want
  • 7:36
    the benefits but they just don't want
  • 7:38
    the full-time gig exactly so they're
  • 7:40
    becoming they're giving up being senior
  • 7:42
    Royals which means they keep a HRH title
  • 7:45
    you know
  • 7:45
    still be a princessy Stila prints but
  • 7:48
    they don't have to go
  • 7:52
    she's not a princess
  • 7:56
    she's a duchess isn't she yeah I am she
  • 8:00
    was refused princess dumb yes by the
  • 8:03
    Queen she's not a princess and that's
  • 8:05
    what pissed her off apparently you know
  • 8:08
    she'll still be a princess and a prince
  • 8:15
    and the main thing is they said they
  • 8:17
    want to make their own money and this is
  • 8:18
    what everybody's upset in England about
  • 8:20
    because they get I don't understand
  • 8:22
    there's a very obvious path for them to
  • 8:25
    make money I don't get it why is this so
  • 8:27
    hard for everybody to understand all
  • 8:30
    they need to do is start a podcast money
  • 8:34
    in the bank moment they get around four
  • 8:36
    million pounds a year from the Queen and
  • 8:38
    from Prince Charles to run their
  • 8:40
    household pay their staff and they'll
  • 8:43
    still continue getting a lot of that
  • 8:44
    money for quite a while and unless they
  • 8:48
    do really want to work and stand on
  • 8:49
    their own by the way five point to me
  • 8:51
    I'm being told 5.2 million u.s. that's a
  • 8:54
    pretty good tidy sum of money how in the
  • 8:56
    world do you protect these two when
  • 8:59
    they're in Los Angeles they want to come
  • 9:00
    over to the Gallagher's house are we
  • 9:01
    gonna have a big contingent of security
  • 9:03
    officers around Los Angeles they are
  • 9:07
    guaranteed security for life by from the
  • 9:10
    British people and the British taxpayer
  • 9:12
    pays for it which is around a million
  • 9:14
    dollars us a year so that won't change
  • 9:17
    whatever they do that will not change
  • 9:18
    you said make their own money do sheep
  • 9:20
    go back to acting do you think well I
  • 9:22
    mean there's been a lot of debates about
  • 9:23
    that that you know we think that you
  • 9:25
    know she'll be doing more doing more
  • 9:32
    paid appearances and maybe some acting
  • 9:35
    if it's deemed to be tasteful enough but
  • 9:38
    they're certainly gonna be earning money
  • 9:39
    in different ways that they could not do
  • 9:40
    in England so I remain baffled by this
  • 9:46
    being 2020 and people still having this
  • 9:49
    obsession with these fake people with
  • 9:52
    funky hats who have great houses in the
  • 9:55
    middle of awesome places and they pay
  • 10:00
    them because you're all it's tradition
  • 10:02
    we need to keep the tradition
  • 10:06
    yeah this is all mega-mega this is all
  • 10:08
    Megan's doing
  • 10:09
    Terry's pussy-whipped he's it he's
  • 10:11
    nothing sad so everybody thinks I'm
  • 10:15
    pretty sure but the fact remains and
  • 10:18
    we'll see this coming week I have a