25 for 45
Trump finally gets his TV-ready lawyers '-- thanks to impeachment - POLITICO
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 15:07
The optics are classic Trump. Not only do the lawyers bring a name-brand recognition to the televised proceedings, they also carry the Clinton linkages the president adores. Starr gained talk-show punch-line prominence as the legal nemesis of both Bill and Hillary Clinton, pursuing a variety of probes that ultimately fueled Clinton's impeachment. To have him now defending Trump, with millions watching on national TV, is the type of juicy storyline Trump the executive producer wants to orchestrate. Collectively, the new impeachment defense team has made over 350 appearances on Fox News in the last year, according to conservative news tracker Media Matters.
Trump made the latest hires because he likes ''star power,'' said one former aide who remains close to the White House.
''Trump has hired names he knows from the headlines. That's his comfort level. His familiar universe, if you will,'' added Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor and CEO of the drilling services company Canary, LLC. ''The president is gearing up for a fight. He's not going to go in there with people he's never heard of.''
Other additions to the Trump Senate floor team include Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general who joined the White House as an adviser on impeachment last fall, and Jane Raskin, a personal attorney for the president and former federal prosecutor who had a lead role in defending Trump during special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump's legal team will be speaking to multiple audiences as they parse the House-passed impeachment articles alleging that the president abused his power and obstructed Congress. They claim that Trump withheld money and an Oval Office visit as leverage to get the Ukrainian government to launch probes of his political opponents, and then blocked lawmakers from investigating the matter.
One audience is the 100 senators who will determine whether the president should be removed from office and barred from holding elected positions ever again. But that Republican-majority crowd is already favorable to Trump, making it a long shot that Trump would face such ramifications.
That means Trump's lawyers will also be speaking to a broader, and perhaps more important, audience '-- the American public. Trump is up for reelection in November, and he sees his defense during the nationally televised Senate trial as a critical part of that campaign.
It's a distinct change from how Trump initially approached his legal troubles as president. The initial legal team he surrounded himself with as Mueller ramped up were a mix of brash New York fixers and prominent inside-the-Beltway figures, but not necessarily made-for-TV, prime-time players.
The team Trump has now assembled for his impeachment trial is much more familiar with catering to a national audience.
President Donald Trump and Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general who joined the White House as an adviser on impeachment last year. | Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images
Dershowitz, a constitutional and criminal law expert, has defended scores of celebrity clients, including Mike Tyson and Patty Hearst. He was even part of ''the trial of the century,'' serving on O.J. Simpson's defense team.
In recent years, he has become a fixture on conservative networks as an outspoken defender of Trump. During last month's House impeachment debate, the 81-year-old attorney suggested in an op-ed that Trump could appeal to the Supreme Court to throw out at least one of the charges, arguing the justices had just agreed to hear oral arguments on several related oversight cases.
Starr, a 73-year-old former federal appeals court judge and U.S. solicitor general, became a household name in America over the four years he dogged the Clinton administration as an independent counsel.
It was his team's work '-- which started as an investigation into the Clintons' real estate dealings in Arkansas '-- that eventually led to a salacious report that vividly described the president's sexual trysts with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and the effort to cover up the affair. The report was expected to be so culturally pervasive that there were fears its formal release would literally break the early internet when millions flooded to download the 453-page document.
House Republicans later used Starr's recommendations as the launching pad to pass two articles of impeachment against Clinton, though the president was ultimately acquitted in the Senate.
During the Trump administration, Starr has been among the most prominent legal defenders of the president, though he has on occasion suggested that Trump deserved the legal scrutiny.
''If I'm on his criminal defense team, I would be very concerned,'' Starr told POLITICO's Off Message podcast in a September 2018 interview as the Mueller investigators considered a subpoena to obtain answers from the president. ''I don't know what President Trump knows, but there have been a number of guilty pleas. Some of those guilty pleas go to false statements, so I would just be cautious'' before answering questions from Mueller.
And, in an interesting twist, Democrats have routinely cited Starr's investigation in their attempts to call witnesses and obtain documents in the Senate trial. They note that Starr had access to all the information and materials he needed before completing his investigation.
Now, Starr will be working to undercut that argument.
While Trump's legal team played an active role in the Russia probe, it sat out the entirety of the House-led impeachment probe, telling Democrats they disagreed with all aspects of the proceedings. Their decision to block compliance with subpoenas formed the basis for the ultimate obstruction of Congress article of impeachment.
Over the weekend, Trump's legal squad will formally step into the fray, as it faces a 6 p.m. deadline on Saturday to formally respond to the impeachment charges. That reply is expected to be a relatively short and concise document denying the allegations. A more formal trial brief articulating their legal reasons behind the president's defense is due at noon on Monday.
Once the trial starts in earnest on Tuesday, Trump's lawyers will all be seated at a defense table near the front of the Senate. They'll initially be spectators as the seven House Democratic impeachment managers deliver their opening presentations. Toward the end of the week, Trump's team is likely to offer its formal response.
While the exact lineup of who will speak first and in what order remain under wraps, the whole group will be working behind the tag-team combination of Cipollone and Sekulow.
Cipollone, a 53-year old longtime corporate litigator, replaced Don McGahn as White House counsel in late 2018. Cipollone entered Trump's orbit during the 2016 presidential campaign via an introduction from conservative commentator and longtime friend Laura Ingraham. He later helped prep Trump for his debates with Hillary Clinton.
As White House counsel, Cipollone added about 20 attorneys who were specifically assigned to oversight issues after Democrats took control of the House in 2018 and ramped up investigations of the president.
Cipollone's top associates, Michael Purpura and Patrick Philbin, will also be on the Senate impeachment team. Philbin is a former Cipollone colleague from Kirkland and Ellis who served in senior positions at the George W. Bush Justice Department, at one point even working as a top aide to then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey.
Purpura served as a federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York and later as a George W. Bush White House aide handling oversight issues when Democrats won control of the House and Senate in the 2006 midterms.
Among Trump's impeachment lawyers, Sekulow, 63, has the longest legal relationship with the president, becoming a personal attorney for the president soon after Mueller's 2017 appointment.
Since then, he's been a prominent public defender of Trump on TV and via his own daily radio show. The conservative lawyer also runs the nonprofit American Center for Law & Justice and has on his resume a dozen cases that he's argued before the Supreme Court. That includes another round of disputes going before the justices in March over the president's resistance to subpoenas for his financial and tax records.
Trump's hybrid team of lawyers from inside and outside his White House follows a pattern from past presidential impeachments.
Clinton White House counsel Charles Ruff led a defense team during his 1999 trial that included rising party stars Greg Craig and Cheryl Mills. They split up opening and closing statements and also took the lead on the House Republican charges that the president committed perjury and obstruction of justice to cover up his affair with Lewinsky.
The other prominent name came via a cameo, when longtime Clinton friend Dale Bumpers, who'd just retired from four terms in the Senate, delivered one of the opening arguments on behalf of the president.
Back in 1868, President Andrew Johnson's defense team included Henry Stanbery, who resigned as attorney general to serve on his impeachment team. Johnson's lawyers, a five-man team that also included former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Robbins Curtis, secured his Senate acquittal by one vote and kept the Democratic president in office to serve out the remainder of the late-President Abraham Lincoln's second term.
Each of the veteran attorneys joining Trump's team has faced varying degrees of personal controversy in recent years.
After a career defending notorious figures, Dershowitz has faced questions about his association with the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who apparently killed himself in a Manhattan federal prison last August. Dershowitz often socialized with Epstein beginning in 1996 and had even spent time at his private island in the Caribbean.
Lev Parnas is no Crony
Lev Parnas was a client of the lobbying firm I work for
in DC, xxxxxxxxxxx (As reported by the WSJ). [Please redact
name of firm if you read on show]
Here’s the important thing to know about Lev (who is a
US, Israeli and Ukrainian citizen). He paid Rudy $500K. Rudy was working for
him to copy the business model of Life Lock (who Rudy was an advisor to).
Rudy was working for Lev. NOT the other way around.
Lev got into trouble for bribing local officials for pot
licenses and now he’s using the opportunity to get famous. That’s all. Plain
feel a bit late to the game with this, but did Nancy Pelosi delay delivery of
the articles of impeachment because she’d not yet received her order for
NY KAG2020 on Twitter: "28 Days For Speaker Pelosi To Get 30 Gold Custom Made Monogrammed Impeachment Signing Pens Shaped In The Form of A Bullet With Speaker Pelosi's Signature Engraved! Montblanc Pens = $15,000 X 30 = $450,000 Taxpayer $$$ @SpeakerPelos
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 12:32
28 Days For Speaker Pelosi To Get 30 Gold Custom Made Monogrammed Impeachment Signing Pens Shaped In TheForm of A Bullet With Speaker Pelosi's Signature Engraved!Montblanc Pens = $15,000 X 30 = $450,000 Taxpayer $$$
@SpeakerPelosi - American Taxpayers Demand A Refund!
How five members of Joe Biden's family got rich through his connections
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 23:56
By Peter Schweizer
January 18, 2020 | 3:02pm
Former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden (right). REUTERS
Political figures have long used their families to route power and benefits for their own self-enrichment. In my new book, ''Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America's Progressive Elite,'' one particular politician '-- Joe Biden '-- emerges as the king of the sweetheart deal, with no less than five family members benefiting from his largesse, favorable access and powerful position for commercial gain. In Biden's case, these deals include foreign partners and, in some cases, even U.S. taxpayer dollars.
The Biden family's apparent self-enrichment involves no less than five family members: Joe's son Hunter, son-in-law Howard, brothers James and Frank, and sister Valerie.
When this subject came up in 2019, Biden declared, ''I never talked with my son or my brother or anyone else '-- even distant family '-- about their business interests. Period.''
As we will see, this is far from the case'...
James Biden James (right) and Sara Biden. APJoe Biden's younger brother, James, has been an integral part of the family political machine from the earliest days when he served as finance chair of Joe's 1972 Senate campaign, and the two have remained quite close. After Joe joined the U.S. Senate, he would bring his brother James along on congressional delegation trips to places like Ireland, Rome and Africa.
When Joe became vice president, James was a welcomed guest at the White House, securing invitations to such important functions as a state dinner in 2011 and the visit of Pope Francis in 2015. Sometimes, James' White House visits dovetailed with his overseas business dealings, and his commercial opportunities flourished during his brother's tenure as vice president.
Consider the case of HillStone International, a subsidiary of the huge construction management firm, Hill International. The president of HillStone International was Kevin Justice, who grew up in Delaware and was a longtime Biden family friend. On November 4, 2010, according to White House visitors' logs, Justice visited the White House and met with Biden adviser Michele Smith in the Office of the Vice President.
''Profiles in corruption'' by Peter SchweizerLess than three weeks later, HillStone announced that James Biden would be joining the firm as an executive vice president. James appeared to have little or no background in housing construction, but that did not seem to matter to HillStone. His bio on the company's website noted his ''40 years of experience dealing with principals in business, political, legal and financial circles across the nation and internationally'...''
James Biden was joining HillStone just as the firm was starting negotiations to win a massive contract in war-torn Iraq. Six months later, the firm announced a contract to build 100,000 homes. It was part of a $35 billion, 500,000-unit project deal won by TRAC Development, a South Korean company. HillStone also received a $22 million U.S. federal government contract to manage a construction project for the State Department.
David Richter, son of the parent company's founder, was not shy in explainingHillStone's success in securing government contracts. It really helps, he told investors at a private meeting, to have ''the brother of the vice president as a partner,'' according to someone who was there.
The Iraq project was massive, perhaps the single most lucrative project for the firm ever. In 2012, Charlie Gasparino of Fox Business reported that HillStone officials expected the project to ''generate $1.5 billion in revenues over the next three years.'' That amounted to more than three times the revenue the company produced in 2011.
A group of minority partners, including James Biden, stood to split about $735 million. ''There's plenty of money for everyone if this project goes through,'' said one company official.
The deal was all set, but HillStone made a crucial error. In 2013, the firm was forced to back out of the contract because of a series of problems, including a lack of experience by Hill and TRAC Development, its South Korean associate firm. But HillStone continued doing significant contract work in the embattled country, including a six-year contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
James Biden remained with Hill International, which accumulated contracts from the federal government for dozens of projects, including projects in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mozambique, and elsewhere.
Hunter Biden Hunter (left) and Joe Biden. APWith the election of his father as vice president, Hunter Biden launched businesses fused to his father's power that led him to lucrative deals with a rogue's gallery of governments and oligarchs around the world. Sometimes he would hitch a prominent ride with his father aboard Air Force Two to visit a country where he was courting business. Other times, the deals would be done more discreetly. Always they involved foreign entities that appeared to be seeking something from his father.
There was, for example, Hunter's involvement with an entity called Burnham Financial Group, where his business partner Devon Archer '-- who'd been at Yale with Hunter '-- sat on the board of directors. Burnham became the vehicle for a number of murky deals abroad, involving connected oligarchs in Kazakhstan and state-owned businesses in China.
But one of the most troubling Burnham ventures was here in the United States, in which Burnham became the center of a federal investigation involving a $60 million fraud scheme against one of the poorest Indian tribes in America, the Oglala Sioux.
Devon Archer was arrested in New York in May 2016 and charged with ''orchestrating a scheme to defraud investors and a Native American tribal entity of tens of millions of dollars.'' Other victims of the fraud included several public and union pension plans. Although Hunter Biden was not charged in the case, his fingerprints were all over Burnham. The ''legitimacy'' that his name and political status as the vice president's son lent to the plan was brought up repeatedly in the trial.
The scheme was explicitly designed to target pension funds that had ''socially responsible investing'' clauses, including pension funds of labor union organizations that had publicly supported Joe Biden's political campaigns in the past. Indeed, eight of the eleven pension funds that lost their money were either government employee or labor union pension funds. Joe Biden has ''a long-standing alliance with labor.'' He closely identifies with organized labor. ''I make no apologies,'' he has said. ''I am a union man, period.'' And many public unions have endorsed him over the years.
Transcripts from Devon Archer's trial offer a clearer picture of Hunter Biden's role at Burnham Asset Management, in particular, the fact that the firm relied on his father's name and political status as a means of both recruiting pension money into the scheme and alleviating investors' concerns.
Tim Anderson, a lawyer who did legal work on the issuance of the tribal bonds, recounts seeing Hunter while visiting the Burnham office in New York City to meet with Bevan Cooney, who was later convicted in the case.
The political ties that Biden and Archer had were considered key to the Burnham brand. As stated in an August 2014 email, Jason Galanis, who was convicted in the bond scheme, agreed with an unidentified associate who also thought the company had ''value beyond capital'' because of their political connections.
In the closing arguments at the trial, one of Devon Archer's defense attorneys, Matthew Schwartz, explained to the jury that it was impossible to talk about the bond scheme without mentioning Hunter Biden's name. This ''was perfectly sensible,'' according to Schwartz, ''because Hunter Biden was part of the Burnham team.''
Howard Krein Biden's daughter, Ashley, and her husband Dr. Howard Krein (right). APIt would be a dream for any new company to announce their launch in the Oval Office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
StartUp Health is an investment consultancy based out of New York City, and in June 2011 the company barely had a website. The firm was the brainchild of three siblings from Philadelphia. Steven Krein is CEO and co-founder, while his brother, Dr. Howard Krein, serves as chief medical officer. Sister Bari serves as the firm's chief strategy officer. A friend named Unity Stoakes is a co-founder and serves as president.
StartUp Health was barely up and running when, in June 2011, two of the company's executives were ushered into the Oval Office of the White House. They met with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
The following day the new company would be featured at a large health care tech conference being run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and StartUp Health executives became regular visitors to the White House, attending events in 2011, 2014 and 2015.
How did StartUp Health gain access to the highest levels of power in Washington? There was nothing particularly unique about the company, but for this:
The chief medical officer of StartUp Health, Howard Krein, is married to Joe Biden's youngest daughter, Ashley.
''I happened to be talking to my father-in-law that day and I mentioned Steve and Unity were down there [in Washington, D.C.],'' recalled Howard Krein. ''He knew about StartUp Health and was a big fan of it. He asked for Steve's number and said, 'I have to get them up here to talk with Barack.' The Secret Service came and got Steve and Unity and brought them to the Oval Office.''
StartUp Health offers to provide new companies technical and relationship advice in exchange for a stake in the business. Demonstrating and highlighting the fact that you can score a meeting with the president of the United States certainly helps prove a strategic company asset: high-level contacts.
Vice President Joe Biden continued to help Krein promote his company at several appearances through his last months in the White House, including one in January 2017, where he made a surprise showing at the StartUp Health Festival in San Francisco. The corporate event, open only to StartUp Health members, enabled the 250 people in attendance to chat in a closed session with the vice president.
Frank Biden Biden's brother, Frank Biden. Alamy Stock PhotoIn late March 2009, Vice President Joe Biden landed in Costa Rica aboard Air Force Two, and went to the Costa Rican presidential palace for a one-on-one with President Oscar Arias. The Biden visit had symbolic significance. The last time a high-ranking American official had visited the country was back in 1997, when Bill Clinton had come.
Joe Biden's trip to Costa Rica came at a fortuitous time for his brother Frank, who was busy working deals in the country. Just months after Vice President Biden's visit, in August, Costa Rica News announced a new multilateral partnership ''to reform Real Estate in Latin America'' between Frank Biden, a developer named Craig Williamson, and the Guanacaste Country Club, a newly planned resort. The partnership, which appears to be ongoing, was wrapped in a beautiful package as a ''call on resources available to the companies and individuals to reform the social, economic and environmental practices of real estate developers across the world by example.''
In real terms, Frank's dream was to build in the jungles of Costa Rica thousands of homes, a world-class golf course, casinos, and an anti-aging center. The Costa Rican government was eager to cooperate with the vice president's brother.
As it happened, Joe Biden had been asked by President Obama to act as the Administration's point man in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Frank's vision for a country club in Costa Rica received support from the highest levels of the Costa Rican government'-- despite his lack of experience in building such developments. He met with the Costa Rican ministers of education and energy and environment, as well as the president of the country.
On October 4, 2016, the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Education signed a letter of intent with Frank's company, Sun Fund Americas. The project involved allowing a company called GoSolar to operate solar power facilities in Costa Rica. The previous year, the Obama-Biden administration's OPIC had authorized a $6.5 million taxpayer-backed loan for the project.
In June 2014, Vice President Joe Biden announced the launch of the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI). The program called for increasing access to financing for Caribbean energy projects that he strongly supported. American taxpayer dollars were dedicated to facilitating deals that matched U.S. government financing with local energy projects in Caribbean countries, including Jamaica. In January 2015, USAID announced that it would be spending $10 million to boost renewable energy projects in Jamaica over the next five years.
After Joe Biden brought together leaders for CESI, brother Frank's firm Sun Fund Americas announced that it was ''engaged in projects and is in negotiations with governments of other countries in the [Caribbean] region for both its Solar and Waste to Energy development services.'' As if to push the idea along, the Obama administration's OPIC provided a $47.5 million loan to support the construction of a 20-megawatt solar facility in Clarendon, Jamaica.
Frank Biden's Sun Fund Americas later announced that it had signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) to build a 20-megawatt solar facility in Jamaica.
Valerie Biden Owens (L to R) Marc Lasry, Susan Harrison, Edward Harrison and Valerie Biden.During his years in the Senate, Biden's family benefited financially in other ways as he leveraged political power. Joe's sister Valerie ran all of his Senate campaigns, as well as his presidential runs in 1988 and 2008.
But she was also a senior partner in a political messaging firm named Joe Slade White & Company; the only two executives listed at the firm were Joe Slade White and Valerie.
The firm received large fees from the Biden campaigns that Valerie was running. Two and a half million dollars in consulting fees flowed to her firm from Citizens for Biden and Biden For President Inc. during the 2008 presidential bid alone.
Joe Slade White & Company worked for Biden campaigns over eighteen years.
From the book PROFILES IN CORRUPTION: Abuse of Power by America's Progressive Elite by Peter Schweizer. Copyright C 2020 by Peter Schweizer. Reprinted by permission of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Make love not data
The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It - The New York Times
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 08:51
Until recently, Hoan Ton-That's greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump's distinctive yellow hair on their own photos.
Then Mr. Ton-That '-- an Australian techie and onetime model '-- did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and provided it to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, ranging from local cops in Florida to the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security.
His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system '-- whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites '-- goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.
Federal and state law enforcement officers said that while they had only limited knowledge of how Clearview works and who is behind it, they had used its app to help solve shoplifting, identity theft, credit card fraud, murder and child sexual exploitation cases.
Until now, technology that readily identifies everyone based on his or her face has been taboo because of its radical erosion of privacy. Tech companies capable of releasing such a tool have refrained from doing so; in 2011, Google's chairman at the time said it was the one technology the company had held back because it could be used ''in a very bad way.'' Some large cities, including San Francisco, have barred police from using facial recognition technology.
But without public scrutiny, more than 600 law enforcement agencies have started using Clearview in the past year, according to the company, which declined to provide a list. The computer code underlying its app, analyzed by The New York Times, includes programming language to pair it with augmented-reality glasses; users would potentially be able to identify every person they saw. The tool could identify activists at a protest or an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing not just their names but where they lived, what they did and whom they knew.
And it's not just law enforcement: Clearview has also licensed the app to at least a handful of companies for security purposes.
''The weaponization possibilities of this are endless,'' said Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. ''Imagine a rogue law enforcement officer who wants to stalk potential romantic partners, or a foreign government using this to dig up secrets about people to blackmail them or throw them in jail.''
Clearview has shrouded itself in secrecy, avoiding debate about its boundary-pushing technology. When I began looking into the company in November, its website was a bare page showing a nonexistent Manhattan address as its place of business. The company's one employee listed on LinkedIn, a sales manager named ''John Good,'' turned out to be Mr. Ton-That, using a fake name. For a month, people affiliated with the company would not return my emails or phone calls.
While the company was dodging me, it was also monitoring me. At my request, a number of police officers had run my photo through the Clearview app. They soon received phone calls from company representatives asking if they were talking to the media '-- a sign that Clearview has the ability and, in this case, the appetite to monitor whom law enforcement is searching for.
Facial recognition technology has always been controversial. It makes people nervous about Big Brother. It has a tendency to deliver false matches for certain groups, like people of color. And some facial recognition products used by the police '-- including Clearview's '-- haven't been vetted by independent experts.
Clearview's app carries extra risks because law enforcement agencies are uploading sensitive photos to the servers of a company whose ability to protect its data is untested.
The company eventually started answering my questions, saying that its earlier silence was typical of an early-stage start-up in stealth mode. Mr. Ton-That acknowledged designing a prototype for use with augmented-reality glasses but said the company had no plans to release it. And he said my photo had rung alarm bells because the app ''flags possible anomalous search behavior'' in order to prevent users from conducting what it deemed ''inappropriate searches.''
In addition to Mr. Ton-That, Clearview was founded by Richard Schwartz '-- who was an aide to Rudolph W. Giuliani when he was mayor of New York '-- and backed financially by Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist behind Facebook and Palantir.
Another early investor is a small firm called Kirenaga Partners. Its founder, David Scalzo, dismissed concerns about Clearview making the internet searchable by face, saying it's a valuable crime-solving tool.
''I've come to the conclusion that because information constantly increases, there's never going to be privacy,'' Mr. Scalzo said. ''Laws have to determine what's legal, but you can't ban technology. Sure, that might lead to a dystopian future or something, but you can't ban it.''
Image Hoan Ton-That, founder of Clearview AI, whose app matches faces to images it collects from across the internet. Credit... Amr Alfiky for The New York Times Addicted to A.I.Mr. Ton-That, 31, grew up a long way from Silicon Valley. In his native Australia, he was raised on tales of his royal ancestors in Vietnam. In 2007, he dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco. The iPhone had just arrived, and his goal was to get in early on what he expected would be a vibrant market for social media apps. But his early ventures never gained real traction.
In 2009, Mr. Ton-That created a site that let people share links to videos with all the contacts in their instant messengers. Mr. Ton-That shut it down after it was branded a ''phishing scam.'' In 2015, he spun up Trump Hair, which added Mr. Trump's distinctive coif to people in a photo, and a photo-sharing program. Both fizzled.
Dispirited, Mr. Ton-That moved to New York in 2016. Tall and slender, with long black hair, he considered a modeling career, he said, but after one shoot he returned to trying to figure out the next big thing in tech. He started reading academic papers on artificial intelligence, image recognition and machine learning.
Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Ton-That met in 2016 at a book event at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. Mr. Schwartz, now 61, had amassed an impressive Rolodex working for Mr. Giuliani in the 1990s and serving as the editorial page editor of The New York Daily News in the early 2000s. The two soon decided to go into the facial recognition business together: Mr. Ton-That would build the app, and Mr. Schwartz would use his contacts to drum up commercial interest.
Police departments have had access to facial recognition tools for almost 20 years, but they have historically been limited to searching government-provided images, such as mug shots and driver's license photos. In recent years, facial recognition algorithms have improved in accuracy, and companies like Amazon offer products that can create a facial recognition program for any database of images.
Mr. Ton-That wanted to go way beyond that. He began in 2016 by recruiting a couple of engineers. One helped design a program that can automatically collect images of people's faces from across the internet, such as employment sites, news sites, educational sites, and social networks including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and even Venmo. Representatives of those companies said their policies prohibit such scraping, and Twitter said it explicitly banned use of its data for facial recognition.
Another engineer was hired to perfect a facial recognition algorithm that was derived from academic papers. The result: a system that uses what Mr. Ton-That described as a ''state-of-the-art neural net'' to convert all the images into mathematical formulas, or vectors, based on facial geometry '-- like how far apart a person's eyes are. Clearview created a vast directory that clustered all the photos with similar vectors into ''neighborhoods.'' When a user uploads a photo of a face into Clearview's system, it converts the face into a vector and then shows all the scraped photos stored in that vector's neighborhood '-- along with the links to the sites from which those images came.
Mr. Schwartz paid for server costs and basic expenses, but the operation was bare bones; everyone worked from home. ''I was living on credit card debt,'' Mr. Ton-That said. ''Plus, I was a Bitcoin believer, so I had some of those.''
Image Mr. Ton-That showing the results of a search for a photo of himself. Credit... Amr Alfiky for The New York Times Image Going Viral With Law EnforcementBy the end of 2017, the company had a formidable facial recognition tool, which it called Smartcheckr. But Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Ton-That weren't sure whom they were going to sell it to.
Maybe it could be used to vet babysitters or as an add-on feature for surveillance cameras. What about a tool for security guards in the lobbies of buildings or to help hotels greet guests by name? ''We thought of every idea,'' Mr. Ton-That said.
One of the odder pitches, in late 2017, was to Paul Nehlen '-- an anti-Semite and self-described ''pro-white'' Republican running for Congress in Wisconsin '-- to use ''unconventional databases'' for ''extreme opposition research,'' according to a document provided to Mr. Nehlen and later posted online. Mr. Ton-That said the company never actually offered such services.
The company soon changed its name to Clearview AI and began marketing to law enforcement. That was when the company got its first round of funding from outside investors: Mr. Thiel and Kirenaga Partners. Among other things, Mr. Thiel was famous for secretly financing Hulk Hogan's lawsuit that bankrupted the popular website Gawker. Both Mr. Thiel and Mr. Ton-That had been the subject of negative articles by Gawker.
''In 2017, Peter gave a talented young founder $200,000, which two years later converted to equity in Clearview AI,'' said Jeremiah Hall, Mr. Thiel's spokesman. ''That was Peter's only contribution; he is not involved in the company.''
Even after a second funding round in 2019, Clearview remains tiny, having raised $7 million from investors, according to Pitchbook, a website that tracks investments in start-ups. The company declined to confirm the amount.
In February, the Indiana State Police started experimenting with Clearview. They solved a case within 20 minutes of using the app. Two men had gotten into a fight in a park, and it ended when one shot the other in the stomach. A bystander recorded the crime on a phone, so the police had a still of the gunman's face to run through Clearview's app.
They immediately got a match: The man appeared in a video that someone had posted on social media, and his name was included in a caption on the video. ''He did not have a driver's license and hadn't been arrested as an adult, so he wasn't in government databases,'' said Chuck Cohen, an Indiana State Police captain at the time.
The man was arrested and charged; Mr. Cohen said he probably wouldn't have been identified without the ability to search social media for his face. The Indiana State Police became Clearview's first paying customer, according to the company. (The police declined to comment beyond saying that they tested Clearview's app.)
Clearview deployed current and former Republican officials to approach police forces, offering free trials and annual licenses for as little as $2,000. Mr. Schwartz tapped his political connections to help make government officials aware of the tool, according to Mr. Ton-That. (''I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to help Hoan build Clearview into a mission-driven organization that's helping law enforcement protect children and enhance the safety of communities across the country,'' Mr. Schwartz said through a spokeswoman.)
The company's main contact for customers was Jessica Medeiros Garrison, who managed Luther Strange's Republican campaign for Alabama attorney general. Brandon Fricke, an N.F.L. agent engaged to the Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren, said in a financial disclosure report during a congressional campaign in California that he was a ''growth consultant'' for the company. (Clearview said that it was a brief, unpaid role, and that the company had enlisted Democrats to help market its product as well.)
The company's most effective sales technique was offering 30-day free trials to officers, who then encouraged their acquisition departments to sign up and praised the tool to officers from other police departments at conferences and online, according to the company and documents provided by police departments in response to public-record requests. Mr. Ton-That finally had his viral hit.
In July, a detective in Clifton, N.J., urged his captain in an email to buy the software because it was ''able to identify a suspect in a matter of seconds.'' During the department's free trial, Clearview had identified shoplifters, an Apple Store thief and a good Samaritan who had punched out a man threatening people with a knife.
Photos ''could be covertly taken with telephoto lens and input into the software, without 'burning' the surveillance operation,'' the detective wrote in the email, provided to The Times by two researchers, Beryl Lipton of MuckRock and Freddy Martinez of Open the Government. They discovered Clearview late last year while looking into how local police departments are using facial recognition.
According to a Clearview sales presentation reviewed by The Times, the app helped identify a range of individuals: a person who was accused of sexually abusing a child whose face appeared in the mirror of someone's else gym photo; the person behind a string of mailbox thefts in Atlanta; a John Doe found dead on an Alabama sidewalk; and suspects in multiple identity-fraud cases at banks.
In Gainesville, Fla., Detective Sgt. Nick Ferrara heard about Clearview last summer when it advertised on CrimeDex, a list-serv for investigators who specialize in financial crimes. He said he had previously relied solely on a state-provided facial recognition tool, FACES, which draws from more than 30 million Florida mug shots and Department of Motor Vehicle photos.
Sergeant Ferrara found Clearview's app superior, he said. Its nationwide database of images is much larger, and unlike FACES, Clearview's algorithm doesn't require photos of people looking straight at the camera.
''With Clearview, you can use photos that aren't perfect,'' Sergeant Ferrara said. ''A person can be wearing a hat or glasses, or it can be a profile shot or partial view of their face.''
He uploaded his own photo to the system, and it brought up his Venmo page. He ran photos from old, dead-end cases and identified more than 30 suspects. In September, the Gainesville Police Department paid $10,000 for an annual Clearview license.
Federal law enforcement, including the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security, are trying it, as are Canadian law enforcement authorities, according to the company and government officials.
Despite its growing popularity, Clearview avoided public mention until the end of 2019, when Florida prosecutors charged a woman with grand theft after two grills and a vacuum were stolen from an Ace Hardware store in Clermont. She was identified when the police ran a still from a surveillance video through Clearview, which led them to her Facebook page. A tattoo visible in the surveillance video and Facebook photos confirmed her identity, according to an affidavit in the case.
'We're All Screwed'Mr. Ton-That said the tool does not always work. Most of the photos in Clearview's database are taken at eye level. Much of the material that the police upload is from surveillance cameras mounted on ceilings or high on walls.
''They put surveillance cameras too high,'' Mr. Ton-That lamented. ''The angle is wrong for good face recognition.''
Despite that, the company said, its tool finds matches up to 75 percent of the time. But it is unclear how often the tool delivers false matches, because it has not been tested by an independent party such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal agency that rates the performance of facial recognition algorithms.
''We have no data to suggest this tool is accurate,'' said Clare Garvie, a researcher at Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Technology, who has studied the government's use of facial recognition. ''The larger the database, the larger the risk of misidentification because of the doppelg¤nger effect. They're talking about a massive database of random people they've found on the internet.''
But current and former law enforcement officials say the app is effective. ''For us, the testing was whether it worked or not,'' said Mr. Cohen, the former Indiana State Police captain.
One reason that Clearview is catching on is that its service is unique. That's because Facebook and other social media sites prohibit people from scraping users' images '-- Clearview is violating the sites' terms of service.
''A lot of people are doing it,'' Mr. Ton-That shrugged. ''Facebook knows.''
Jay Nancarrow, a Facebook spokesman, said the company was reviewing the situation with Clearview and ''will take appropriate action if we find they are violating our rules.''
Mr. Thiel, the Clearview investor, sits on Facebook's board. Mr. Nancarrow declined to comment on Mr. Thiel's personal investments.
Some law enforcement officials said they didn't realize the photos they uploaded were being sent to and stored on Clearview's servers. Clearview tries to pre-empt concerns with an F.A.Q. document given to would-be clients that says its customer-support employees won't look at the photos that the police upload.
Clearview also hired Paul D. Clement, a United States solicitor general under President George W. Bush, to assuage concerns about the app's legality.
In an August memo that Clearview provided to potential customers, including the Atlanta Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office in Florida, Mr. Clement said law enforcement agencies ''do not violate the federal Constitution or relevant existing state biometric and privacy laws when using Clearview for its intended purpose.''
Mr. Clement, now a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, wrote that the authorities don't have to tell defendants that they were identified via Clearview, as long as it isn't the sole basis for getting a warrant to arrest them. Mr. Clement did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The memo appeared to be effective; the Atlanta police and Pinellas County Sheriff's Office soon started using Clearview.
Because the police upload photos of people they're trying to identify, Clearview possesses a growing database of individuals who have attracted attention from law enforcement. The company also has the ability to manipulate the results that the police see. After the company realized I was asking officers to run my photo through the app, my face was flagged by Clearview's systems and for a while showed no matches. When asked about this, Mr. Ton-That laughed and called it a ''software bug.''
''It's creepy what they're doing, but there will be many more of these companies. There is no monopoly on math,'' said Al Gidari, a privacy professor at Stanford Law School. ''Absent a very strong federal privacy law, we're all screwed.''
Mr. Ton-That said his company used only publicly available images. If you change a privacy setting in Facebook so that search engines can't link to your profile, your Facebook photos won't be included in the database, he said.
But if your profile has already been scraped, it is too late. The company keeps all the images it has scraped even if they are later deleted or taken down, though Mr. Ton-That said the company was working on a tool that would let people request that images be removed if they had been taken down from the website of origin.
Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University in Boston, sees Clearview as the latest proof that facial recognition should be banned in the United States.
''We've relied on industry efforts to self-police and not embrace such a risky technology, but now those dams are breaking because there is so much money on the table,'' Mr. Hartzog said. ''I don't see a future where we harness the benefits of face recognition technology without the crippling abuse of the surveillance that comes with it. The only way to stop it is to ban it.''
Where Everybody Knows Your NameDuring a recent interview at Clearview's offices in a WeWork location in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, Mr. Ton-That demonstrated the app on himself. He took a selfie and uploaded it. The app pulled up 23 photos of him. In one, he is shirtless and lighting a cigarette while covered in what looks like blood.
Mr. Ton-That then took my photo with the app. The ''software bug'' had been fixed, and now my photo returned numerous results, dating back a decade, including photos of myself that I had never seen before. When I used my hand to cover my nose and the bottom of my face, the app still returned seven correct matches for me.
Police officers and Clearview's investors predict that its app will eventually be available to the public.
Mr. Ton-That said he was reluctant. ''There's always going to be a community of bad people who will misuse it,'' he said.
Even if Clearview doesn't make its app publicly available, a copycat company might, now that the taboo is broken. Searching someone by face could become as easy as Googling a name. Strangers would be able to listen in on sensitive conversations, take photos of the participants and know personal secrets. Someone walking down the street would be immediately identifiable '-- and his or her home address would be only a few clicks away. It would herald the end of public anonymity.
Asked about the implications of bringing such a power into the world, Mr. Ton-That seemed taken aback.
''I have to think about that,'' he said. ''Our belief is that this is the best use of the technology.''
Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Gabriel J.X. Dance and Aaron Krolik contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.
EU eyes temporary ban on facial recognition in public places | Technology | The Guardian
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 11:04
The EU could temporarily ban the use of facial recognition technology in public places such as train stations, sport stadiums and shopping centres over fears about creeping surveillance of European citizens.
A prohibition lasting between three and five years is seen as a way for Brussels to manage the risks said to be posed by the breakneck speed at which the software is being adopted.
The option is contained in an early draft of a European commission white paper obtained by the news website Euractiv. The final version is due to be published in February as part of a wider overhaul of the regulation of artificial intelligence.
The draft document points to the right under the general data protection regulation for EU citizens ''not to be subject of a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling''.
Under the proposal, a new regulatory framework for artificial intelligence could ''include a time-limited ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces''.
The paper states that the ''use of facial recognition technology by private or public actors in public spaces would be prohibited for a definite period (eg three to five years) during which a sound methodology for assessing the impacts of this technology and possible risk management measures could be identified and developed''.
The possibility of driving forward in the field of artificial intelligence is often cited by Brexit enthusiasts as one of the major advantages for the UK as it leaves Brussels' regulatory orbit. Critics claim Brussels is overly cautious in its treatment of new developments.
The UK will leave the EU at the end of this month but remain under its laws until at least the end of 2020. The coming negotiation over the future relationship will determine how closely the UK will align to EU rules, including on data handling and collection.
Facial recognition software is one of the fastest-growing technologies and is becoming a staple of Europe's private and public surveillance networks.
Three UK police forces '' the Met, South Wales and Leicestershire '' are trialling such software as an ''innovative'' way to identify people suspected of committing a crime or on watchlists.
The German government is planning to roll out facial recognition technology in 134 railway stations and 14 airports after a successful trial in Berlin.
France is set to become the first EU country to allow its citizens to access secure government websites through such software. In July, the French parliament recommended a new regulatory framework to allow experimentation.
In September, the high court in London ruled that South Wales police acted lawfully and did not breach human rights or data protection laws in its use of facial recognition software.
Civil rights organisations have voiced their concern at the speed at which the technology is being adopted. The UK's data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office, has urged caution on the use of what it describes as an ''intrusive'' technology.
Last weekend, football supporters and civil rights activists expressed their anger after two surveillance vans equipped with the technology were seen patrolling outside Cardiff City's stadium before a derby match with Swansea.
The campaign group Big Brother Watch organised a protest and a banner was unfurled inside the stadium during the Championship game reading ''No facial recognition''.
More broadly, Brussels is looking at a range of options for dealing with the ethical and legal questions posed by artificial intelligence. Under one plan, developers would be asked to follow a voluntary ethical code. They would receive a gold-standard label in return.
The commission is also looking at minimum standards for government departments and the use of legally binding EU instruments when it comes ''high''risk applications of artificial intelligence'' in areas such as healthcare, transport, policing and the judiciary.
A commission spokesman declined to comment on the leaked paper. He said the commission wanted to ''fully reap the benefits of artificial intelligence '' to enable scientific breakthrough, to preserve the leadership of EU businesses, to improve the life of every EU citizen by enhancing diagnosis and healthcare or increasing the efficiency of farming''.
The spokesman added: ''To maximise the benefits and address the challenges of artificial intelligence, Europe has to act as one and will define its own way, a human way. Technology has to serve a purpose and the people. Trust and security of EU citizens will therefore be at the centre of the EU's strategy.
''Data is the indispensable raw ingredient of AI. We thus have to unlock, exploit and make flow data generated and owned in Europe, to create wealth for our societies and opportunities for our businesses. Our industry is world leader in most innovative sectors. Europe has everything it needs to be successful.''
Plaid legislated in Australia
I’ve been a long time listener and I was particular
interested in your rant about Plaid. I’ve working in banking for a long time
and this has been area of concern for ages.
In Australia the government is trying to address this
with a unique approach called the Consumer Data Right. Under this legislation
eventually all industries, not just the banks, will need to create standard
APIs that give customers the right to share their data with apps. The
legislation gives the customer the right to explicitly control what data is
shared, what its used for and they can require it to be deleted at any time.
As a professional legislation analyst I thought this
might interest you. I’ve been helping set the technical standards since the
regime was established so if you are interested I can answer any questions you
Love the show,
Consumer warning of 'profiling for profit' by fintechs
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:49
Jan 15, 2020 '-- 11.08am
Consumer groups have hit back at suggestions the open banking regime is too tough on fintechs, saying start-ups may be trying to use loopholes in consumer data rules to exploit vulnerable borrowers.
The Financial Rights Legal Centre and Consumer Action Law Centre says the enhanced privacy protections in the government's consumer data right (CDR) legislation are crucial to protect customers, and fintechs should not be able to use "screen scraping" techniques to access banking data outside the regime.
The Financial Rights Legal Centre, led by CEO Karen Cox, wants fintechs to adhere to an ethical code of conduct for the use of AI.
The groups have told a Senate select committee on financial and regulatory technology that start-ups should be made to meet very strict standards relating to security and standards, in order to build trust in the sector.
FinTech Australia has told the committee the price of gaining Australian Competition and Consumer Commission accreditation for open banking was too expensive for small players.
Consumer groups are concerned about the ''leakage of sensitive financial data outside of the protections of the CDR framework'' and urged the ACCC to close a potential loophole in the regime.
The loophole could result in an unaccredited fintech asking a customer to hand over banking data the customer had requested directly from their bank in a machine-readable format.
The consumer groups are concerned payday lenders or other un-accredited parties could use the data for predatory lending or marketing.
The ACCC is currently taking submissions about how privacy and data protections will apply to parties not accredited under the CDR as part of its finalisation of the open banking regime, which is due to kick off in July.
The Financial Rights Legal Centre and Consumer Action Law Centre are also calling on the Senate inquiry being chaired by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg to recommend that fintechs use artificial intelligence technology in an ethical manner, backed by law.
It has also called for additional regulation of buy now, pay later operators, arguing they should be brought under the National Consumer Credit Act, which the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has said is not necessary.
Gerard Brody, CEO of the Consumer Action Law Centre, which wants to see screen scraping banned.
During open banking consultation with the ACCC, the consumer groups say various fintechs have been seeking to ''build friction into the process of deleting one's data'' and ''designing the consumer experience to benefit the fintech over the interests of the consumer''.
It wants the government to ban screen scraping, which allows fintechs to read bank account data once customers provide banking credentials, describing the process as ''outmoded and dangerous'' and pointing to its ban in the UK.
The groups say handing over banking passwords is counter to government security advice, undermines the purpose of the consumer data right and could result in the loss of protections under the e-payments code.
FinTech Australia disagrees, arguing that screen scraping should be allowed in parallel with open banking.
But the consumer groups say it is "nonsensical to develop a parallel system to serve the interests of a small number of legacy fintechs who are unwilling to change their business model to meet the higher standards and security requirements of the CDR regime".
Commonwealth Bank also wants to see an end to screen scraping, and has been targeting customers of ASX-listed Raiz Invest with warnings not to hand over passwords. In the United States, JP Morgan Chase said recently it would stop fintechs using its customers' passwords to access their accounts.
Profiling for profitThe consumer groups' submission to the Senate committee also raises broad concerns that the liberalisation of customer data will result in more customers being ''profiled for profit'', lifting levels of exploitation in the market.
Banks are highly sensitive to the potential negative impact of pricing products and services based on customer risk '' which open banking will facilitate '' given rising community expectations around their social license following the Hayne royal commission.
"Much of the promise of fintech is that more tailored products and services will be made available with lower fees or lower loan interest rates for many banking customers," the submission said.
"However, the flip side to lower fees and interest rates for some is that costs will increase for others. These 'others' will undoubtedly be Australia's most vulnerable, disadvantaged and financially stressed households."
It points to problems being especially acute in insurance. FinTech Australia wants the CDR extended to the insurance sector, but the consumer groups said this would result in fewer insured people being treated as ''average'' risk, and premiums rising for higher risk customers.
"There are key issues of fairness and equity which this committee should consider and address," the submission says.
"Algorithmic decision making in the financial services sector has great potential to introduce bias into decision making particularly for marginalised consumers."
An ethical framework for AI should be legally enforceable and potentially introduced via a code of practice backed by the ACCC's consumer data right rules, it suggests.
Read MoreACCCUnable to follow, try again
James Eyers writes on banking, fintech and technology. Based in our Sydney newsroom, James is a former Legal Affairs and Capital editor for the Financial Review Connect with James on Twitter. Email James at firstname.lastname@example.org Most Viewed In CompaniesLatest Stories
I've been in the robotics process automation (RPA) field for
5 years, both as a developer and an architect. It's an unknown, under-staffed,
and in my experience highly lucrative field of automation. I've worked in
healthcare and financial services corporations at the very pinnacle of the
field. Top 5 global.
A few things:
1. This tech is far beyond screen scraping. The tools are
capable of using image recognition, optical character recognition, handwriting
recognition, NLP, and to some degree ML to simulate a human user as much as
possible. Popular platforms are Blue Prism, UiPath and Automation anywhere,
however Microsoft is now entering the field.
2. What can they do given access to a given account with
credentials? Absolutely anything the user can do, and likely more with
permission from the target company. They are not defeated by Citrix environment
automation prevention measures, although they are slowed significantly by it.
injection, APIs. Almost anything you can think of they can use as a data or
3. They cannot do this without agreements with the
institutions they are "botting", as we call it. Most financial
institutions implement captcha or other similar safeguards, although 2 factor
would be easy enough to work with provided the bot has access to the text
messages for the number on file. Those messages are very regular from message
to message, so not even RegEx is required. Substringing would suffice, but I
digress. It's also illegal for government sites without express permission that
I've never seen given.
Bottom line, given the power of the RPA platforms, and the
level of access given, ie all in this case, I can't see how spoofing a user
against a financial institution's front door without informed consent of all
parties involved doesn't run afoul of cybercrime and identity
impersonation/theft laws. I hope this is helpful or at least of interest. Feel
free to refer any questions on the topic to me. If I don't have the answers, I
know where they are.
Dude Named Bob
Screen scraper ban touted to weed out data predators - Finance - Cloud - Security - Software - iTnews
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:47
Two of Australia's most prominent consumer protection advocates have warned policymakers that a failure to ban the endemic practice of commercial screen scraping under new consumer data laws will allow predators to flourish and infest Australia's fintech sector.
As Australia's banks and utilities sectors brace for new account portability laws to hit this year, the Financial Rights Legal Centre and the Consumer Action Law Centre have cautioned a major clean-up of data regulations is urgently needed to stop a new generation of shonks coming along for the ride.
The call to ban screen scraping is a major headache for some banks and financial services providers hoping to continue using the technology as a fudge to get around stubborn legacy systems that are costly to modify for open banking.
The main problem is the workaround, which increasingly fuels APIs, breaks a heap of basic data security practices banks have demanded from customers since they went online.
''The basic procedural premise of screen scraping is it requires a consumer to hand over their password and username details in order to access and analyse their data,'' a joint submission to Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology's inquiry from the two advocacy groups says.
''This is an inherently unsafe online practice and is exactly the opposite to every other piece of online safety and security advice provided to Australians by both the online industry and in government advisories.''
Screen scraping has already been banned in the UK and Europe under Strong Customer Authentication rules, with third party providers there granted a transition period until March this year to wean themselves off the vulnerable technology.
With consumer legal advocates now persuasively arguing the same kind of scraping bans need to be imposed in Australia, key groups like FinTech Australia which have vehemently opposed such bans could soon have their lofty ambitions checked.
''Stopping data aggregators who utilise scraping techniques would kill the current fintech industry,'' FinTech Australia wrote in its submission on Open Banking inquiry in 2017.
''It also provides a lower cost alternative for smaller banks, fintechs and institutions to innovate faster and meet their compliance obligations under any new regime, and means they may move to full API integration within a timeframe that suits them.''
One of the biggest problems with screen scraping outlined by the Financial Rights Legal Centre and the Consumer Action Law Centre is that the practice literally flies in the face of established consumer electronic security norms demanded by banks and overseen by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
A major sticking point is ASIC's E-Payments Code which determines consumer and institutional liability for issues like account compromises, fraud, misdirected payments and other problems.
Despite investing heavily in the fintech sector, banks have for more than a decade demanded consumers adhere to security and credential confidentiality protocols in return for wearing fraud liability, especially around identity theft, online fraud and skimming.
Importantly, the two consumer legal groups argue that modifying the E-Payments Code to cover consumers for fraud losses incurred by ASIC accredited fintechs as a result of screen scraping is ''is nonsensical''.
The consumer legal groups claim such a move would ''develop a parallel system to serve the interests of a small number of legacy FinTechs who are unwilling to change their business model to meet the higher standards and security requirements of the CDR regime.''
''Encouraging people to hand over passwords and usernames runs counter to all other security advice provide by the Australian government as outlined above. Even if it was safe to hand over log-in details in the Fin Tech context '' which it is isn't '' it would undermine safe practices in all other online contexts,'' the Financial Rights Legal Centre and the Consumer Action Law Centre said.
Having a lend
Some of the companies heavily reliant on screen scraping are nothing more than rapacious and ethically bereft payday lenders looking for a slick image change using fintech chic, if the case studies of consumer harm in the consumer legal advocates' submission are anything to go by.
And the data they use is conveniently flaky too, especially when it comes to responsible lending.
In one example cited, a man dubbed ''Gavin'' who was hooked by payday lenders for $4000 had a loan approved on aggregated data that Financial Rights Legal Centre said was ''riddled with errors '' including categorising his caf(C) payments for coffee as rent.''
In another case a man dubbed "Edward" who went around shopping for a loan found himself signed up before he could blink when he provided details ostensibly to determine an interest rate.
''Edward responded and provided information to begin a process he believed would lead to him being provided with an offer. As a part of this process Edward was required to provide his details to his bank account and to obtain his credit report in order for him obtain his ''tailored interest rate,'' the Financial Rights Legal Centre case study said.
''Before he knew it Edward had been approved for a $15,000 loan with the money deposited into his account. Edward had only been shopping around and had not expected to be provided with the money - merely an offer.
''The lender refused to rescind the contract until they had been told that he had contacted Financial Rights. In the meantime Edward had in fact found a better deal and wanted to go with this other lender,'' the case study said.
That really is an offer that's hard to refuse.
Amex spotlights bank hypocrisy in screen scraping liability row - Finance - Security - Software - iTnews
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:49
Credit card behemoth American Express has put the boot into Australia's Big Four banks over their objections to fintechs using screen scrapers to onboard customers switching services, saying banks themselves use the technology for regtech purposes.
In a stinging submission the Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, the upmarket payments giant argues that whilst the Consumer Data Right (CDR) ''may render screen scraping services obsolete in time'...there is still likely to be a significant period where CDR and screen scraping co-exist.''
The use of screen scrapers '' which usually require customers to hand over username and password credentials to third parties '' has become a major battleground between established banks and a range of API-based services because sharing credentials exposes customers to online fraud liability.
Banks have for more than a decade indemnified consumers against online fraud losses from bank accounts, credit and debit cards under ASIC's voluntary E-Payments Code, which bodies like FinTech Australia are pushing to have amended to allow the use of scrapers without a liability shift.
Consumer and financial customer legal advocates are vehemently opposed to allowing screen scraping to legally continue at all, and have called for it to be banned altogether because of its prolific use by shonky payday lenders and credit sharks.
The practice is already banned in the UK and Europe.
Parts of the Australian fintech industry have argued the local sector will cease to be viable if screen scraping is banned and have accused banks of an abuse of market power by propelling the liability issue to retain market share that would otherwise be challenged by new entrants.
At the moment some institutions like the Commonwealth Bank unapologetically send blunt warnings to customers about account security conditions when their accounts are accessed by screen scrapers from third party services.
But without naming names, Amex says that the fraud liability issue arising from screen scraping needs to be resolved within the E-Payments code because banks are scraping too.
''We consider it inappropriate for consumers to be held liable by their bank for using RegTech services, particularly when those RegTech services are being used by those banks to acquire new customers,'' Amex said in its submission.
''We think that the opaqueness of the liability position has moderated uptake of such RegTech services in Australia both by financial service providers that would integrate with such services and by consumers who might use them. Uncertainty around the liability provision should be addressed in any updated ePayments Code.''
Amex's jostling for clarifications comes after banks including ANZ recently dumped the issuing of so-called 'companion cards' after the Reserve Bank forced down interchange fees to olower card acceptance costs.
Unlike rivals Visa and MasterCard, Amex for the most part issues its own credit cards and carries its own liability rather than getting banks to do so.
All banks and card schemes are feeling the impact from a sustained movement away from credit-based products as consumers eschew credit card interest rates commonly between 18 per cent and 21 percent in favour of payments direct from accounts or buy-now pay-later services.
The shift has some regulators concerned that some buy-now pay-later services are not adhering to responsible credit and anti-money laundering regulations, with an influx of unsecured credit services and products now branding themselves as 'fintechs'.
''The competitive effect of new entrants such as FinTechs is most evident in the payments and unsecured consumer and small business lending sectors,'' the National Australia Bank (NAB) wrote in its submission to the Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology.
The Consumer Action Law Centre puts it a different way, especially when it comes to their argument for banning screen scraping and the potential impotence of CDR accreditation regimes for those who get stuck with lenders of last resort.
''Financially vulnerable people desperate to access credit via a service that uses old and unsafe screen scraping technology will not concern themselves with the nuances of privacy protections to do so,'' the Consumer Action Law Centre's submission said.
''If that means engaging with non-CDR accredited entities like dodgy payday loan operators still using screen scraping, those financially vulnerable people will do so and end up with lower privacy protections than customers seeking loans from CDR accredited lenders.''
GPS jamming expected in Southeast during military exercise - AOPA
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:45
January 14, 2020 By Dan Namowitz
GPS reception may be unavailable or unreliable over a large portion of the southeastern states and the Caribbean during offshore military exercises scheduled between January 16 and 24.
Graphic depicting area of GPS interference testing. Courtesy of the FAA.
The FAA has posted a flight advisory for the exercises that will require jamming of GPS signals for periods of several hours each day of the event. Navigation guidance, ADS-B, and other services associated with GPS could be affected for up to 400 nautical miles at Flight Level 400, down to a radius of 180 nm at 50 feet above the ground.
The flight advisory encourages pilots to report any GPS anomalies they encounter. Reports may be submitted using this
AOPA reported on a similar event in the southeastern United States in 2019.
AOPA is aware of hundreds of reports of interference to aircraft during events around the country for which notices to airmen were issued, and we consider the risks to GA aircraft highly concerning.
In one example, an aircraft lost navigation capability and did not regain it until after landing. Other reports have highlighted aircraft veering off course and heading toward active military airspace'--and the wide range of reports makes it clear that interference affects aircraft differently. In some cases, recovery from signal interference may not occur until well after the aircraft exits the jammed area.
In a January 2019 AOPA survey, more than 64 percent of 1,239 pilots who responded noted concern about the impact of interference on their use of GPS and ADS-B.
AOPA continues to advocate for officials to place more focus on efforts to address the well-documented safety concerns raised by such events.
Dan NamowitzAssociate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
US Navy GPS Jamming Drills in Carribean Could Blind Civilian Air Navigation - Report
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 23:57
Military & Intelligence06:56 18.01.2020(updated 07:38 18.01.2020) Get short URL
The US Navy earlier reportedly announced a large-scale exercise in the Caribbean basin that could seriously impact civilian air traffic. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a special warning for pilots.
The US Navy "Carrier Strike Group 4" will conduct special tests to jam the Global Positioning System (GPS), which could possibly affect planes flying at altitudes as low as 50 feet (15 metres) above the ground, up to about 40,000 feet (12,000 metres), the Daily Mail reported, citing the FAA.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also issued a statement explaining the need for such jamming tests by the federal government.
"...Is required to conduct GPS tests, training activities, and exercises that involve interfering with GPS receivers [...] Due to the fact that these training and testing activities can involve a number of aircraft, ships and/or other military equipment and up to hundreds of personnel, cancellation or postponement of a coordinated test should only occur under compelling circumstances", the DHS said, cited by the Daily Mail.According to the report, the agency said that in the event of a life-threatening situation the FAA will issue a "cease buzzer" to stop the GPS jamming, until any emergency issue is resolved.
The US Navy is reportedly expected to leave many civilian crews flying over the Southeast and Caribbean without a proper GPS signal during the manoeuvres. The drills will reportedly last until 24 January.
The last large-scale GPS jamming drills were conducted in 2018. In 2019, US-based media reported that the Pentagon had developed a technology resistant to GPS jamming.
The GPS system remains crucial for US military operations at home and abroad, as well as the hundreds of millions of people whose devices use the tech every moment.
Latest iOS 13.3.1 Beta Includes Toggle for Disabling U1 Ultra Wideband Chip - MacRumors
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 12:04
The second beta of iOS 13.3.1, released earlier this month, includes a toggle for disabling the Ultra Wideband chip in the device.
Twitter user Brandon Butch (via
9to5Mac Disabling this feature warns that Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Ultra Wideband performance will be affected.
Apple added this toggle in the beta after it was discovered that the
iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max
continue to track user location even when location services toggles are disabled.
Apple said that this was expected behavior due to the Ultra Wideband chip and that the
iPhone was operating as designed explaining that location data needed to be used because there are international regulatory requirements that mandate the U1 chip be disabled in certain locations.
Ultra wideband technology is an industry standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations. iOS uses Location Services to help determine if ''iPhone'' is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra wideband and comply with regulations. The management of ultra wideband compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not collecting user location data.Apple at the time promised to add a toggle to allow customers to disable the U1 chip entirely, and that toggle will be available to everyone after the release of iOS 13.3.1.
Please Stop Big Tech, Small Rivals Tell Lawmakers - The New York Times
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 05:48
Until Friday, few executives had complained in public about how Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook hurt their businesses.
For all the criticisms directed at the largest tech companies in the last couple of years, few smaller rivals have been willing to speak up publicly.
That changed for a couple of hours on Friday, as executives at four businesses pleaded with federal lawmakers to rein in Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.
At a congressional hearing in Boulder, Colo., top executives of Sonos, PopSockets, Basecamp and Tile testified that the biggest technology companies hindered their businesses. Their stories varied, but they shared a theme: The tech giants have used their powerful positions in search, e-commerce, online ads and smartphones to squeeze out them and other rivals.
Tile, which makes small tracking devices, said Apple had put up hurdles for Tile's smartphone app that didn't apply to Apple's competing product. Sonos, the high-end audio company, said Google had copied its patented speaker technology and used its dominance in search to enter new markets. PopSockets, which makes smartphone grips, said Amazon ''bullied'' it into sales agreements and ignored complaints about counterfeits on the retail platform.
''It's like playing a soccer game,'' said Kirsten Daru, the vice president and general counsel of Tile. ''You might be the best team in the league, but you're playing against a team that owns the field, the ball, the stadium and the entire league, and they can change the rules of the game in their own favor and anytime.''
The executives' criticism provided lawmakers on the House antitrust subcommittee, which conducted the hearing, with personal stories about the power and influence of Silicon Valley's biggest companies. Last year, the House opened a broad investigation into whether those large companies violated antitrust laws. At the same time, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission opened separate competition investigations into Amazon, Facebook Apple and Google. In addition, nearly all 50 states are investigating whether Facebook and Google engage in anticompetitive practices.
Despite all of those investigations, few companies have come forward to complain in public. The House antitrust subcommittee has interviewed dozens of companies that accuse the big tech companies of unlawfully stifling competition. Most have insisted on confidentiality. This month, Sonos sued Google on allegations of antitrust violations and patent infringement, in its first pointed action against the company.
Lawmakers at Friday's hearing, which was held in Boulder in part to draw more national attention to the House investigation, noted how rarely start-ups spoke out about their complaints, and encouraged them to keep making their case.
''Thank you for your testimony, and quite frankly your courage to be here today,'' said Representative Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Colorado. ''Because when you take on dominant players, whether it's Amazon, Google, Apple or Facebook, you've got to have a little trepidation.''
Representative David Cicilline, the Rhode Island Democrat who leads the antitrust subcommittee, thanked the executives for ''describing economic retaliation.''
The tech companies vehemently deny that they illegally harm competition. Google, for instance, has disputed all the claims made by Sonos and said it would fight the lawsuit.
The hearing capped a difficult week for big tech, which was the target of fierce criticism by top politicians. Much of that anger was directed at Facebook, which has refused to police lies shared by politicians on its social network.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that Facebook ''just cares about money'' and that the company intended ''to be accomplices in misleading the American people.'' Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has been the focus of false ads by President Trump's re-election campaign, told the New York Times editorial board that Facebook and other internet companies that allow the spread of misinformation on their sites should lose a critical liability shield for internet platforms. He also personally criticized Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive.
''I've never been a big Zuckerberg fan,'' Mr. Biden said. ''He knows better.''
The hearing on Friday focused entirely on whether the big companies dominate markets. The executives, who argued at length that companies like Google and Amazon unfairly hurt their businesses, received little pushback from lawmakers.
David Barnett, the founder of PopSockets, said Amazon had pressured it to lower listing prices or else allow unauthorized resellers to sell the product. He also alleged that Amazon allowed a flood of counterfeits to compete with PopSockets on the site to pressure the company into spending more on marketing.
It is ''bullying with a smile,'' Mr. Barnett said.
David Heinemeier Hansson, the chief technology officer and a co-founder of Basecamp, a provider of online productivity tools, said Google's domination of the search industry forced his company to go online with the advertising titan's demands and decisions.
''The internet has been colonized by a handful of big tech companies that wield their monopoly powers without restraint,'' Mr. Hansson said.
Both Republicans and Democrats appeared to sympathize with him and the other executives.
''I think it's clear there's abuse in the marketplace and a need for action,'' said Representative Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado.
Mr. Cicilline said he didn't expect the executives or their companies to suffer any economic retaliation from the giants for testifying. ''But if you do in any way, it would be of tremendous interest to this committee,'' he said.
Amazon may link customer's credit card information to HAND prints | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 06:55
Pay with a WAVE: Amazon to link customer's credit card information to their HAND prints - allowing shoppers to pay by showing their palmsAmazon is reportedly working to link customer's debit and credit card information to their hand prints This would allow consumers to purchase merchandise with just a waveThe project is in the early stages, according to the Wall Street Journal Amazon filed a patent for 'non-contact biometric identification system' that incorporates 'a hand scanner that generates images of a user's palm.' Card issuers are curious how the terminals would detect fraud or switch between accounts By Lauren Edmonds For Dailymail.com
Published: 16:34 EST, 18 January 2020 | Updated: 17:55 EST, 18 January 2020
Amazon is reportedly working to create payment terminals where shoppers can connect their credit card information to their hand print, allowing them to check out from brick-and-mortar stores with a wave.
The multi-billion dollar company plans to offer services to fast-food restaurants, coffee shops and other places that have frequent repeat customers, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The plans for the terminals are in the early stages, but Amazon began working with Visa Inc. to test transactions on the terminals and is in discussions with Mastercard Inc.
WSJ says that Amazon imagines customers linking their debit or credit cards information to checkout terminals and then letting the devices scan their hands.
Amazon is reportedly working to create payment terminals where customers will link their credit card information to their hand print
The company is said to be weighing options on to successfully implement the method, including customers inserting their card into a terminal and then allowing their hands to be scanned.
After that, customers would only need to place their hands over the checkout terminal to purchase items.
Amazon recently filed a patent for a 'non-contact biometric identification system' that incorporates 'a hand scanner that generates images of a user's palm.'
Amazon recently filed a patent for a 'non-contact biometric identification system' that incorporates 'a hand scanner that generates images of a user's palm'
Amazon's latest alleged venture marks another instance of big tech wading into the financial industry.
Apple began offering Apple Pay, a service that allows customers to pay with a NFC chip on their phone or wallet, in 2014 and the company introduced a credit card last year.
In November 2019, Google announced plans to create checking accounts for users in partnership with Citigroup and Stanford Federal Credit Union.
Amazon has previously encroached into finance operations by launching Amazon Pay in 2017 and allowing shoppers at Amazon stores to walk out without paying.
Under Jeff Bezos, Amazon has launched Amazon Pay and Amazon stores allow customers to leave with goods without paying in store
Meanwhile card companies are figuring out if Amazon intends to collaborate or compete against them for customer attention.
Some companies believe it's safer to work with tech giants like Amazon, than be left out completely from innovations.
On Amazon's part, the company wants card companies' knowledge on safegaurding consumers' card accounts.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and Synchrony Financial have shown interest in enabling card accounts to link with terminals, according to sources familiar with the project.
Still, Amazon would need to convince card issuers and networks of certain concerns, including how terminals would detect fraud.
They're also wondering how customers would add more than one account to their hands and how people could chose which card to use when they pay.
Amazon has said it could blacklist people who attempt to game the system, but that may not stop frauds from making a one-time purchase of electronics or other expensive merchandise.
They will also need to win over customers who are skeptical of providing personal financial information and successfully quell fears from regulators who are becoming increasingly wary of big tech.
Amazon previously tested a similar payment system in Amazon's Whole Food chains
Data that would enter terminals, like where consumers shop and when, would be stored in Amazon's cloud, according to WSJ.
The company reportedly wants to integrate this data with Amazon.com spending, in a move that could allow Amazon to charge advertisers higher prices because they could better predict what customers are likely to buy.
New York Post reported that Amazon was testing a payment system that would let individuals purchase goods from Amazon's Whole Food chain with their hands.
In the past, Amazon had little success with another payment venture pitching brick-and-mortar stores on accepting it's Amazon Pay digital wallet.
But merchants didn't want to remind consumers about Amazon and encourage them to buy there instead.
Amazon has not yet publicly announced any plans to install the terminals.
French Security Forces Evacuate Macron From Theater Besieged by Protesters '' Reports - Sputnik International
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 01:00
Europe05:06 18.01.2020(updated 05:32 18.01.2020) Get short URL
MOSCOW (Sputnik) '' French security forces evacuated President Emmanuel Macron from the Bouffes du Nord Theater in Paris as protesters tried to enter the building, French media reported.
According to the BFMTV broadcaster, Macron visited the theater along with his wife Brigitte on late Friday. The protesters gathered near the theater and tried to rush into the building but were stopped by security forces.
Soon after that, the security forces formed a cordon to let Macron's car leave the site.On 5 December, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested pension reforms which will take away a number of privileges and special retirement conditions from certain categories of workers, including those working in transport.
France saw the beginning of the ongoing national strike against Macron's initiative and as a result of the strike, the work of the country's transportation networks has been thrown into chaos.
On 11 January, the French government suspended the most criticized provision of the draft pension reform, and will not increase the retirement age required for receiving a full pension to 64 years.Despite the authorities' move, according to French media, on 16 January around 187,000 took part in continuing protests across the country.
While the Interior Ministry, cited by the Figaro newspaper, reported that almost 23,000 people hit the streets of Paris, the General Confederation of Labour trade union said that 250,000 people had joined the protests in the city.
France's controversial pension reforms: Will women really be the biggest winners? | Euronews
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:32
Faced with crippling transport strikes, protests and criticism against its pension reform plans, the French government has put gender equality at the forefront of its communication strategy.
"Women will be the big winners of the universal [pension] system," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said last month.
Women's average pension in France is currently 42 % lower than men, according to official figures, so there is certainly room for improvement.
But many are challenging the government's narrative, claiming that Swedish women are allegedly worse off after a similar reform in the Scandinavian country two decades ago.
Will French women actually benefit from the new pension system and what can we learn from the examples of other European countries?
What reforms is Macron proposing?France's current system is generous: it sees pensions calculated on workers' 25 best years of salary.
In the public sector, it's based on their last six months of salary.
There are also 42 different pension types in the public sector, offering better benefits and early retirement.
Macron wants to have a single, universal system, where each day worked earns points for a worker's future pension benefits.
The government also plans to increase the official age for a full pension to 64 from 62, even though the Prime Minister recently said the measure would be temporarily scrapped in an attempt to quell ongoing protests.
How does the French government think the reforms will help women?Minimum pension increaseThe government's central argument is that the minimum pension will rise to '¬1,000 per month '-- or 85% of the minimum wage '-- in the new system.
38% of French female pensioners currently get less than '¬1,000 per month.
"This will naturally benefit women, who often have the lowest pensions," said Dominique Andolfatto, a professor of political science at the University of Burgundy.
"But the provision is not exclusive to them. Men with modest incomes and pensions, like many farmers, for example, will benefit equally," Andolfatto added.
Child creditsA pension-point increase of 5% will be awarded from the first child and for each child, the government said.
At the moment, only large families of at least three children received a 10% pension-point increase.
"These points can be shared between the parents, and will by default be allocated to the mother. This measure will increase the rights granted to households with one or two children, in particular, single-parent families, who are disadvantaged in the current system," the government said in a press release.
"Large families will also be able to benefit from an increase beyond the current rights. For example, it will be 25% for five children," the release continued.
Surviving spouses' pensionsWomen make up 90% of the beneficiaries of the surviving spouse pension mechanism, according to the CGT labour union, so this is an important issue for gender equality.
According to the government, the new system will ensure the surviving spouse gets 70% of the total pensions of the couple, thus guaranteeing her/his standard of living.
Why it's not that simpleMany experts, unionists and feminist groups, say the benefits of the reform for women are not so clear.
Andolfatto told Euronews that whether women were the "big winners" of the reform still remained to be proven, concretely.
Hardline labour union CGT circulated a petition on social media called: "Women as the great winners of the pension reform? LOL!"
Philippe's assertion is not grounded in "any figure or simulation to demonstrate it", the petition says.
So what are the main concerns for women?
Concerns over pensions calculationsCurrently, only the 25 highest years of income are taken into account for the pensions' calculations.
"In the new system, people's pensions will be proportional to their level of contributions over their entire professional career," Andolfatto told Euronews.
"If a career is discontinued, if remuneration is low, there will be no miracle: the pension will be low," he added.
Considering that women's careers are often interrupted by pregnancies, parental leaves, periods of unemployment or part-time work, critics argue that this central principle of the reform may actually harm them.
"However, each contribution period, even short ones, will be taken into account," Andolfatto nuanced.
"Therefore, there will be better consideration of short (or fixed-term) employment contracts."
Concerns over family dimensionsWhile the 5% pension-point increase from the first child will be good news to many families, critics are concerned that couples will choose to attribute it to the father, whose earnings tend to be higher than mothers.
"What will happen to women in case of divorce?" a column signed by 16 female unionists, economists and feminists wondered in Le Monde newspaper.
CGT union also noted that it will be harder for the surviving spouse to access their deceased partner's pension.
In particular, divorcees will now be excluded from the scheme '-- even though 45% of marriages in France end with a divorce, the union pointed out.
Furthermore, the surviving spouse will need to be retired in order to benefit from the scheme, which wasn't the case until now.
'Window-dressing'According to CGT and feminist groups, even some of the flagship measures allegedly supposed to benefit women are nothing more than "window dressing".
As an example, they cite the rise of the minimum pension to '¬1,000.
"The government forgets to mention (...) the requirement of having a full career, whereas 40% of women do not have a complete career, " CGT said in a press release.
What we can learn from other European experiencesBeyond the pros and cons of the reform for women, looking at the experiences of other European countries can help us make sense of the French case.
The Sweden analogySweden made similar reforms to the those proposed in France, switching to a points-based, universal pension system back in the 1990s.
Alain Lefebvre, a former French diplomat in Sweden and author of the essay Macron, the Swedish, argues that women were among the losers of the reform in the Scandinavian country.
In an interview with Challenges magazine in October last year, Lefebvre cites a 2017 study by the Swedish pensions agency:
"For people born between 1938 and 1945, 92% of Swedish women would have had higher pensions under the old system, and 72% of men."
However, this data concerns only a specific generation and improvement looms for younger women, Swedish scholar Gabriella Sj¶gren Lindquist told Euronews.
"As women's wages are increasing and part-time work is decreasing, our calculations predict that the pension gap between men and women will decrease from 72% in 2014 (for persons born in 1947) to 81% for persons born in 1985-1990."
"We have not made any simulations of how the gap would have evolved if we would have kept the old pension system," she added.
The expert noted that taking into account income during the whole life rather than the best earning years tended to increase gender inequality.
"In our old pension system, the pension was based on the 15 years of best income during your working life."
"This means that women's pension was not based on years with lower income e.g. when they were caring for small children and working part-time."
"In the new pension system, pensions are based on income during the whole life. This means that periods of low income will affect your pension more in the new system than in the old system," Sj¶gren Lindquist said
NorwayConsidering the flaws of the Swedish model, which other countries could inspire more gender-equal pension reforms in Europe?
Norway may offer up valuable lessons.
"The Norwegian version contains a particularly comprehensive set of redistributive mechanisms, at least compared to the Swedish prototype, and therefore the reduction in the gender gap achieved by the Norwegian system is likely to be particularly large," wrote academics Elin Halvorsen and Axel West Pedersen in a recent study.
"Generous child credits, the right to inherit pension rights after a deceased spouse and a comparatively generous minimum guarantee are all peculiarities of the Norwegian system that contribute significantly to close the gender gap," the researchers found.
"The reason why reformed Norwegian pension system performs relatively well in terms of gender equality is that a number of women-friendly components have been maintained in the new system," Petersen told Euronews.
A gloomy European outlook"Unfortunately, women are among the poorest retirees across Europe," said Marina Monaco of the European Trade Union Confederation.
"The differences in pension entitlements are closely related to the performances of each country's labour market, employment and labour conditions," Monaco explained.
So in other words, gender inequality at work is reflected and even amplified in the pension systems.
According to the ETUC expert, the gender pay gap in Europe stands between 7% and 18%, the average in the EU stands at 16%. But when it comes to pensions, the gender gap is even higher, between 34% and 38%.
"Public systems that ensure full coverage or almost full coverage and that are not only contribution-based but also complemented by public funds" tend to guarantee better pension entitlements to all - including women, Monaco said.
Nicolas Maduro tries to revive failed state-issued cryptocurrency Petro '-- AGAIN
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 11:17
Nicolas Maduro , Venezuela 's President , won't wind up his efforts to get his struggling state-issued cryptocurrency 'El Petro' off the ground.
Delivering his annual speech to the ruling Constituent Assembly, Maduro decreed that airlines flying from Caracas '-- the country 's capital city '-- must pay for fuel using El Petro.
[Read: Nicolas Maduro refuses to give up on Venezuela's state cryptocurrency El Petro]
''I decree the sale of all fuel sold by the PDVSA for planes operating international routes be made in Petros from now on,'' Maduro said.
It's not actually clear whether the new rule applies to just Venezuelan air carriers or whether international airlines should also adhere.
This isn't the first time Maduro shills El Petro. Back in October, he said protectorates and states would receive one million Petros twice a month and commented on how the country 's scientific community would be able to receive payment in the cryptocurrency .
Prior to that, Maduro ordered that every branch of the Banco de Venezuela allow citizens to buy and trade El Petro.
Venezuela has been suffering from hyperinflation, severe starvation, disease, crime , and mortality rates, forcing many in the country to flee overseas.
Reports about Petro have been rife in recent months, especially as the country is seemingly seeking a way to bypass US sanctions .
Last year, a Spanish newspaper concluded that Maduro and his administrators were using a digital wallet app to convert tax revenue from one of the country 's main airports into Bitcoin .
A different report also suggested Venezuela 's central bank was looking into whether it could store cryptocurrency in its coffers.
Published January 15, 2020 '-- 16:07 UTC
Yessi Bello Perez January 15, 2020 '-- 16:07 UTC
Maduro interview: Venezuela's president calls for direct talks with U.S. - The Washington Post
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 06:53
In an exclusive, extensive interview with The Washington Post '-- his first with a major U.S. media outlet since the day last February he abruptly pulled the plug on a Univision taping and ejected its journalists from the country '-- an exuberant Maduro said he had outfoxed his opponents in Caracas and Washington, is comfortably in charge and ready to talk.
He suggested a bonanza could be waiting for U.S. oil companies in this OPEC-member state should President Trump lift sanctions and press the reset button on U.S.-Venezuelan relations.
Juan Guaid" promised to save Venezuela. Now the flame he lit is petering out, and his U.S. backers are weighing their options.
Yet if anything, his words revealed the vast gulf that still exists between his authoritarian government and the opposition and U.S. officials who call him a dictator. His positions on key issues suggested no quick fix to the brutal humanitarian crisis that has led millions to flee poverty and hunger in this troubled socialist state.
Still, Maduro, the anointed successor of the late leftist firebrand Hugo Chvez, said significant changes could be in the offing if Washington opened a direct channel with him.
''If there's respect between governments, no matter how big the United States is, and if there's a dialogue, an exchange of truthful information, then be sure we can create a new type of relationship,'' he said. ''A relationship of respect and dialogue brings a win-win situation. A confrontational relationship brings a lose-lose situation. That's the formula.''
Guaid", opposition lawmakers defy security forces, burst into Venezuela's National Assembly
The United States and nearly 60 other nations recognize Juan Guaid", the opposition leader and head of Venezuela's legislature, as the nation's rightful head of state after Maduro claimed reelection in a tainted 2018 vote. U.S. officials, the opposition and European powers have decried Maduro's steps in recent weeks to sabotage the opposition, take control of the legislature '-- the last democratic institution in the country '-- and consolidate what they describe as authoritarian power.
The United States has held firm on its position that unless and until Maduro is willing to discuss his exit from the presidential palace, direct talks would probably only strengthen him.
Venezuelan opposition lawmakers attacked by pro-government forces as they try to enter the National Assembly
Speaking for more than an hour late Friday in the ornate Miraflores presidential palace, Maduro did not display such willingness. The 57-year-old former union leader, sporting a navy-blue workman's shirt, called any new presidential vote still years away. He also denied the assertions of U.S. and European diplomats and opposition negotiators that his government offered the opposition a deal including new presidential elections during talks brokered by Norway last year before they collapsed in the fall.
He doubled down on his pledge to hold legislative elections this year '-- a vote his opponents insist he would use as a tool to further consolidate power.
''What he wants is a fake election, one to produce a puppet National Assembly,'' said Leopoldo L"pez, a senior opposition figure and mentor to Guaid", who is living in the Spanish Embassy in Caracas. ''What President Guaid", the majority of the Venezuelan people and the international community are calling for, is free and fair presidential elections. There will be no solution to the crisis if there is no regime change.''
Locked up naked on a soiled mattress: Venezuela's mental health nightmare
Maduro suggested his opponents have vastly underestimated him. One significant claim: Maduro said he had learned of the April 30 conspiracy to oust him '-- the failed plot now spoken of as Venezuela's ''Bay of Pigs'' '-- 10 days before it was sprung. He allowed it to play out anyway, he said, encouraging key loyalists to pose as potential turncoats to discover the extent of the sedition against him.
The plan involved the recruiting of key Maduro loyalists including Supreme Court chief Maikel Moreno, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino and other officials, who were meant to back Guaid"'s predawn call for an uprising at a military base and force Maduro out. The plan was initially meant to be sprung May 1, but was moved up a day for reasons still disputed within the opposition. Guaid" appeared with L"pez, sprung from house arrest, at the La Carlota base in Eastern Caracas, but the broader uprising never materialized.
In Maduro's account, Moreno, Padrino and other key officials whom the opposition thought they had flipped had actually gone running to him with details of the conspiracy.
Inside the secret plot to turn senior Venezuelan officials against Maduro
On April 20, Maduro said, they told him in a senior-level meeting that his spy chief, Gen. Cristopher Figuera, had betrayed him; they recommended Maduro fire him. In two more meetings before the plot was sprung, Maduro told The Post, he laid a trap for Figuera '-- who ultimately escaped to Colombia and later the United States.
''I let it flow to see how far the tentacles of the conspiracies could get,'' he said. ''Twenty-four hours earlier, I was going to abort it, but they moved earlier.''
Figuera called Maduro's account ''false.''
''I carried out with my functions normally with Maduro until April 29,'' the former head of Venezuela's SEBIN intelligence agency said. ''He had no knowledge of the conspiracy against him. He would never have willingly allowed Leopoldo L"pez to go free.''
Maduro's account also conflicts with those of others '-- senior U.S. officials, opposition leaders and influential Venezuelans '-- familiar with the conspiracy. They claim talks to win over Maduro's loyalists began many weeks before Maduro claims to have been informed of the conspiracy. So even if Maduro's account is true, they say, it suggests his loyalists hid the conspiracy for months before sharing it with him.
Maduro's confidence stands in contrast to the cascading troubles his government still faces. Strict U.S. sanctions including an oil embargo have cut off the nation's main source of cash '-- the sale of crude to the United States '-- and the national coffers are rapidly emptying.
For months, the opposition claims, Maduro has sought to buy off and extort opposition lawmakers into abandoning Guaid". The plan came to a head this month when lawmaker Luis Parra, allegedly bribed by the government, was abruptly installed to replace Guaid" as head of the National Assembly, while security forces kept Guaid"'s supporters from entering the legislative palace. The National Assembly is key to approving legislation, including new oil deals, that could theoretically provide vital new revenue streams for the Maduro government. It also provides the constitutional legitimacy of Guaid"'s claim to be Venezuelan's rightful president.
Maduro's ex-spy chief lands in U.S. armed with allegations against Venezuelan government
Maduro, his supporters, lawmakers alleged to have been bribed by his government and the Russians are among those few who have recognized Parra. The United States, most Latin American nations and European powers have dismissed the operation as political theater.
Maduro said he remained willing to sit down with Guaid" '-- but he seemed to dismiss the opposition's key demand: that he exit in favor of a transitional government that would renovate the Supreme Court and national election councils to call new elections.
''Guaid" is responsible for having lost the National Assembly,'' Maduro said. ''He and his mistakes. Don't blame me now. He's the one that now has to answer to the United States.''
Guaid" did not immediately provide a response Saturday.
Maduro seemed to dismiss his growing international isolation. The Dutch, among others, are seeking to push the European Union into taking a harder stance against his government, and the E.U. is threatening to begin imposing individual sanctions and travel bans of the kind that already have been slapped on Maduro officials by the United States.
''Do you want me to tell you the truth?'' he asked, leaning in. ''I don't care even a little bit about what Europe does, or about what the U.S. does. We do not care at all. We only care about what we do. .'.'. No matter how many thousand sanctions, they won't stop us, or Venezuela.''
He made no secret of his immediate plan to survive; he spoke of his deep alliances with the Cubans and the Russians.
As Maduro confronts a crisis, Russia's footprint in Venezuela grows
He contradicted U.S. claims that Rosneft, the Russian oil giant, is processing 70 percent of Venezuela's sludgy crude '-- he placed the amount closer to 20 percent. He dismissed claims that another benefactor, China, had begun to distance itself from his government.
''It's part of fake reports that Trump is fed about Venezuela. Someone, who knows who, in [U.S. special representative Elliott] Abrams's office makes up a fake report and sends it to Trump.
''We are more united than ever.''
Maduro said he has made repeated attempts to appeal directly to Trump. The Post has reported that Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, was present during a phone call Maduro held in late 2018 with then-Rep. Peter Sessions (R-Tex.). Maduro said he did not hear Giuliani's voice, but he knew the former New York mayor was on the call and hoped he could somehow broker a direct pipeline to Trump.
''Of course at the moment, his closeness as Trump's lawyer was clear,'' Maduro said. ''We knew he would be able to get him the message. At this point I don't know because of all that's happening with Ukraine and the impeachment.''
Maduro repeatedly asserted his view that Trump had been misled by his policymakers, and he seemed baffled that Trump had courted North Korea's Kim Jong Un but not him.
''I believe Mike Pompeo has failed in Venezuela and is responsible for Donald Trump's failure in his policy toward our country,'' Maduro said. ''I think Pompeo lives in a fantasy. He's not a man with his feet on earth. I think Trump has had terrible advisers on Venezuela. John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Elliott Abrams have caused h im to have a wrong vision.''
Abrams said Saturday that Maduro ''cannot be trusted to preside over new National Assembly elections this year,'' particularly after the government's security forces blocked Guaid" and other opposition lawmakers from entering the National Assembly on Jan. 5.
But he backed further talks between the opposition and Maduro.
''The United States favors negotiations between the Maduro regime and the democratic opposition under Juan Guaid" to arrange new presidential and national assembly elections that are free and fair,'' Abrams said. ''Previous efforts have all failed because the regime never took them seriously and instead used them to try to gain time and divide the opposition. When the regime is ready, and engages in serious negotiations with the opposition, the United States will do everything it can do to help those negotiations succeed.''
U.S. officials have been considering more provocative steps to oust Maduro, including a naval blockade of Venezuelan oil destined for Cuba. Maduro said such a step would be ''illegal,'' but stopped short of calling it an act of war.
''I think that wouldn't be good for anyone, least of all for the U.S.,'' he said. ''It would create a lot of tension in the whole Caribbean and it would be bad for the interests of all the governments that are part of that community. I hope it doesn't happen.''
Trump signs executive order freezing Venezuelan assets, ramping up pressure on Maduro
The United Nations last year documented the torture, arbitrary arrest and killing of government opponents and citizens under Maduro. Maduro called the reports ''lies'' being spread by ''rightist anti-revolutionary media outlets.''
He scoffed at allegations that his government has established agreements with Colombian guerrillas engaged in narco-trafficking and kidnapping on the Venezuelan-Colombian border, or that Hezbollah operatives were operating in Venezuela.
''It makes me laugh,'' he said.
If a dialogue with Washington were launched, he suggested the key point of establishing what he, the United States and the opposition would agree were free and fair elections would be difficult to settle.
''I think we have to think more about the big picture,'' he said. ''The relations in five, 10 years. The relations for the rest of the 21st century.''
Rachelle Krygier contributed to this report.
A fake Walmart, cases of Dom P(C)rignon and the almighty dollar: Inside socialist Venezuela's chaotic embrace of the free market
In Venezuela's oil capital, life is a struggle. So is death.
As Venezuela's crisis deepens, the most vulnerable are joining the exodus
Today's coverage from Post correspondents around the world
Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news
VIDEO - A major downpour has swamped Australia's east coast - YouTube
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 07:12
VIDEO - Santa Anita Park Carrera 7 (The California Cup Derby) - 18 de Enero 2020 - YouTube
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 06:55
VIDEO - Martha Stewart thinks 'horny guys' are the reason Gwyneth Paltrow's vagina-scented candle sold out | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 06:52
She's overcame a felony conviction and prison time to regain her place as one of the most popular lifestyle gurus in the US.
And Martha Stewart didn't seem particularly impressed with her recent competitor Gwyneth Paltrow, 47, after she was asked about the actress' new vagina-scented candle.
The 78-year-old author and TV host told Watch What Happens Live's Andy Cohen, 51, on Thursday night that she 'wouldn't buy it' and that 'horny men' were responsible for it selling out.
Take down: Martha Stewart, 78, wasn't impressed with Gwyneth Paltrow, 47, after she was asked about the actress' new vagina-scented candle Thursday on Watch What Happens Live
The topic came up when a caller asked for Martha's thoughts on the candle, officially named the 'This Smells Like My Vagina' candle.
After Andy clarified the question, the cookbook author didn't seem at all surprised at its success.
'I'm sure it's sold out,' she said. 'She does that kind of irritating ... she's trying to zhush up the public to listen to her. And that's great, I mean, let her do her thing.
'I wouldn't buy that candle,' she added.
'Irritating': 'She's trying to zhush up the public to listen to her. And that's great, I mean, let her do her thing. I wouldn't buy that candle,' she said
Double entendre: The item description says the $75 candle has a 'funny, gorgeous, sexy, and beautifully unexpected scent' and will induce a sense of 'fantasy,' 'seduction' and 'warmth'
Martha may have been on to something, as the Goop product is currently sold out, though more are on the way.
The item description on the lifestyle company's website says the 10.5 oz candle, which retails for a jaw-dropping $75, has a 'funny, gorgeous, sexy, and beautifully unexpected scent,' featuring citrus and cedar notes.
It also says the candle's smell will induce a sense of 'fantasy,' 'seduction' and, most importantly, 'warmth.'
'So to be clear, you don't want a candle that smells like Gwyneth Paltrow's vagina,' Andy restated.
'Not necessarily,' said Martha, chuckling.
Cracking up: 'So to be clear, you don't want a candle that smells like Gwyneth Paltrow's vagina,' Andy restated. 'Not necessarily,' said Martha before letting out a laugh
Absolution: Martha didn't want to blame the whole nation for buying the intimate torch. 'I think it's not America,' she said. 'I think it's a lot of guys who are horny'
'What does it say about America that the candle is now sold out?' Andy asked, but Martha didn't want to blame the whole nation for buying the intimate torch.
'I think it's not America,' she said. 'I think it's a lot of guys who are horny.'
Stewart has previously had little patience for Paltrow's forays into lifestyle products.
In 2014, she told Net-a-Porter that the Contagion star 'just needs to be quiet. She's a movie star. If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn't be trying to be Martha Stewart.'
Gwyneth later sounded excited just to be noticed.
'I'm so psyched that she sees us as competition,' she said.
Stay in your lane: In 2014, she said the Contagion star 'just needs to be quiet. She's a movie star. If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn't be trying to be Martha Stewart'
An honor: Gwyneth later sounded excited just to be noticed. 'I'm so psyched that she sees us as competition,' she said; pictured together in 2011
Gwyneth doesn't seem to dispute Martha's contention that her vagina candle was just a ploy for attention.
'If you are in the news and it's driving traffic to your site, it's not a bad thing,' she said Tuesday at the National Retail Federation at the Javits Center in New York City.
Though the candle at least appears to do everything a candle is supposed to, the Oscar winner has previously been in hot water over claims Goop claims that the company couldn't back up.
The company paid a $145,000 fine in 2018 for making false claims on two products.
Made up: Goop paid a $145K fine in 2018 for claiming the Jade Egg and Rose Quartz Egg, for vaginal insertion, could regulate periods and balance hormones, which was false
Goop sold the Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend, a scentless liquid that cost $22 per half-ounce and appeared to be plain water, while making claims that amounted to saying it could cure depression, according to the District Attorney's office of Orange County, California.
Among the fined products were the Jade Egg and Rose Quartz Egg, which were to be inserted vaginally and sold for $55''66.
The items were advertised as being able to help regulate periods, strengthen bladder control and balance hormones, none of which was true.
VIDEO - What Is 5G? Bill Nye Explains 5G Coverage | T-Mobile - YouTube
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 06:49
VIDEO - Officials Had 'Incentive' to Lie about Afghan War, Inspector General Tells Congress - YouTube
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 06:34
VIDEO - Field Hearing: Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 5: Competitors in the Digital Economy | U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 06:14
Field Hearing: Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 5: Competitors in the Digital Economy Wittemyer Courtroom, University of Colorado Law School, 2450 Kittredge Loop Drive, Boulder, Co
Date: Friday, January 17, 2020 - 10:00AM
Location: 01/17/2020 10:00 AM MST
Tags: AntitrustField Hearing: Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 5: Competitors in the Digital Economy
VIDEO - Small tech firms plead for Congress to take antitrust action against Amazon, Apple, and Google | Fortune
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 06:12
VIDEO-Supercut: Biden Stumbles His Way Through Final Democratic Debate :: Grabien News
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 12:42
Democrats' 2020 front-runner ended the primary debate season much the way he began it: Stumbling and mumbling.
In his final performance before the Iowa caucuses, Biden once again struggled stringing together coherent sentences.
During one of his first answers, Biden attempted explaining his foreign policy toward the Middle East: "It's a mistake to pull out the straw, small number of troops '... It's lie that our embassies were going to be bombed."
Discussing North Korea, Biden offered: "I would not meet without Kim absent preconditions."
On trade with China, Biden again got tongue-tied: ''If we don't set the rules of the road by going out to our partners, instead of poking our eye '-- and, uh, excuse me, poking our finger in the eye of our friends ...''
On health-care plans, Biden became nearly incomprehensible: ''The way to do that is to take ObamaCare, reinstate, rebuild it. Provide a public option, allow Medicare for those folks who want it. And in fact, make sure that we in the process reduce the cost of, uh, of drug prices, reduce the cost of being able to buy into the subsidizes further, and make available, make it available to everyone. Here's the deal, that costs will the of money.''
''The proposal I lay out does in fact limit drug costs,'' he began moments later. ''It sets up, it allows all the drug companies that '-- excuse me, it allows you to Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for the price.''
On the topic of child-care, Biden began another confusing note: ''We should be free universal, excuse me, free infant care.''
Virtually every response was riddled with these types of stumbles. For more, check out the montage above.
(Watch on YouTube)
'-- Supercut: Biden Keeps Getting Tongue/Denture/Brain-Tied in CNN Debate
'-- Supercut: Biden Fumbles His Way Through Lengthy CNN Interview
'-- Montage: Biden Gaffe Reel, Apr. - Sept. 2019
'-- Old Man Joe: Biden Slurs His Way Through First Speech as Presidential Candidate [Montage]
'-- Van Jones: Dem Debate Was Dispiriting, No One I Saw Tonight Can Defeat Trump
'-- CNN Helps Warren Keep Sanders Smear Alive Even After He Flatly Denies It
'-- Sen. Warren Claims Free College, Universal Child-Care Will Bring Down Federal Debt
VIDEO - Al Sharpton: Trump's 'Bombast' Is an Attempt to Cover Up His Ignorance | Breitbart
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:41
Al Sharpton said Friday on MSNBC that President Donald Trump loses his temper because he is covering up for his lack of knowledge.
The panel was discussing reports on Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig's new book, A Very Stable Genius, which has an account of when former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly called President Donald Trump a ''moron.''
Sharpton said, ''I think you've got to always go back to who Donald Trump is as a person. Donald Trump always wanted to be in the circles of influence and was always rejected. Always seen as this outer-borough guy whose daddy had money. You know, with Roy Cohn'--they were not considered respectable.''
He added, ''I think a lot of the bombast including this encounter we just talked about is that he rejects getting into those kinds of conversations because he really does not understand the policy or the strategy that you're talking about it. So rather than sit there and try and learn, he overrules everybody with bombast and with anger, so he doesn't have to engage in the conversation, so you don't know that he's really not a moron, which Tillerson found out and assessed and said.''
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
VIDEO-Watch: North Korean Female Soldiers Perform For Kim Jong Un | Weasel Zippers
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 10:47
RT propaganda calls it ''brilliant.'' Not quite the word I would have for it. Performing as though their lives depended on it, because they do.
North Korean female soldiers give brilliant performance for Kim Jong-un pic.twitter.com/kI2JKu8dBx
'-- RT (@RT_com) January 18, 2020
VIDEO-JEREMY on Twitter: "conservative lecturer DESTROYS sjw college student https://t.co/QmrIaqsonq" / Twitter
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 08:54
SwiftOnSecurity @ SwiftOnSecurity
13h Replying to
@jeremylevick @Popehat I feel like this is some kind of political satire but that I don't have the reference point for what it's commenting on.
View conversation · DopesAnd/OrBabiesHat @ Popehat
13h Replying to
@SwiftOnSecurity @jeremylevick "Watch Ben Shapiro DESTROY this liberal college student" videos.
View conversation · elbiejay @ lisabeej
17h Replying to
@jeremylevick @david_j_roth I have no idea what that even was. Somebody tell me what I'm supposed to feel because I'm at a loss rn
pic.twitter.com/9BDIdJ2fZi View conversation · David Roth @ david_j_roth
17h Replying to
@lisabeej @jeremylevick Well you see it's Jeremy and Rajat
View conversation · Luke Mones @ LukeMones
17h Replying to
@jeremylevick define special mouse
View conversation · [inaudible] @ ambergilllmore
17h Replying to
@LukeMones @jeremylevick no really
View conversation · Alex Hirsch @ _AlexHirsch
13h Replying to
@jeremylevick @bransonreese This is what all fandom discourse sounds like to me
View conversation · Gin93orclevertitle @ Gin93clevertile
13h Replying to
@_AlexHirsch @jeremylevick @bransonreese fandom discourse has more fighting
View conversation · 89technical @ 89technical
17h Replying to
@jeremylevick @JohnDiesattheEn Pardon me for being a Neophyte: Is he discussing a children's book? What is the context of this discussion?
View conversation · Can't relate @ IdkImean
17h Replying to
@89technical @jeremylevick @JohnDiesattheEn This lib student tries to make the specious assertion that mr. mouse is special in order to clumsily support the argument that his representational role implies ALL mice are special (participation trophy bs) and sir professorson counters this blatant value projection with FACTS.
View conversation ·
VIDEO-Alan Dershowitz Flings Theory That Abuse Of Power Is Not Impeachable | Crooks and Liars
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 00:36
If abuse of power does not qualify as a "high crime and misdemenor" worthy of removal from office, is there any crime that Donald Trump could do that would warrant removal? Or is Trump a king?
Alan Dershowitz genuinely believes that Donald Trump abusing power is not a big enough deal to get him kicked out of office. He declared numerous times over the years that he is a liberal Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton, as if this is some sort of excuse for his ridiculous understanding of the constitutional law. He went on The Beat with Ari Melber to talk about his decision to join Donald Trump's impeachment legal team, which includes TV lawyer, Jay Sekulow, former Florida AG who took a bribe, Pam Bondi, a few White House lawyers, and maybe Rudy Giuliani, if he has his way. Oh, and Special Counsel from the Bill Clinton impeachment, Ken Starr. So a group of brilliant legal minds (snort) that will definitely do everything by the book, and won't at all abuse the impeachment trial to try to raise their personal brands at all.
MELBER: How do you make argument without dealing with some of these facts? Certainly one could imagine an abuse of power that would meet the standard. I'm sure you and I would agree in that in theory.
DERSH: No, no, we don't agree on that.
MELBER: Let me play for and you then get your response, let me play for you the President admitting the investigation. And then I'll get your response on whether that's an abuse. Here's Donald Trump on the White House lawn.
REPORTER: Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after the phone call?TRUMP: Well, I would think if they were honest about it, they would start a major investigation into the Bidens.
MELBER: The abuse of power allegation is that that request conditioned on money that was federally mandated under the law for a different purpose is the abuse.
DERSH: But abuse of power, even if proved, is not an impeachable offense. That's exactly what the framers rejected. They didn't want to give Congress the authority to remove a President because he abused his power. They have to prove treason, bribery, or they have to prove other crimes and misdemeanors. "Other" refers to crimes of the kind such as treason and bribery.
MELBER: So let me make sure I understand for viewers. You're making news, here, about what you will argue on the President's behalf in the Senate trial. The news you're making, as I understand it, that "abuse of power, in your argument, does not constitute as a high crime under the constitution?"
DERSH: That's exactly right, and that's exactly what framers said, when they rejected...remember, the initial the criteria for removing a President was maladministration, malpractice, and a range of other vague open ended criteria. What Hamilton said was "the greatest danger would be to empower Congress to impeach based on how many votes you have on one side or the other." That's why after they finished debating whether there should be an impeachment, they went to the criteria. And Madison, who was very much in favor of impeachment, wanted very limited criteria. If they wanted to put abuse of power in, they could have. Let me give you another example. Madison talked a lot about what if a President becomes incapacitated, but they didn't put incapacitation in as grounds for impeachment. We had to amend the Constitution to do that. If you want to amend the Constitution to have abuse of power as a criteria, you can do that. Nobody will vote for it though. Presidents have been accused of abuse of power from the beginning of time.
MELBER: Very interesting, getting your expertise in what you plan to argue on the president's behalf.
So Dershowitz is saying that everyone does it and it isn't a crime so big whoop. Let's all go home.
VIDEO-Barcelona declaration - climate emergency requires end to The West's economic growth & consumption - Michael Smith News
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 00:31
17-03-92 Locals concerned the Accident and Death Fund was being used to buy property and office equipment with the funds they paid into the fund. 18-03-92 Boulder fund suspended 15-05-92 Bruce Wilson and Julia Gillard go to a meeting with the miners in Kalgoorlie 18-05-92 AWU announce it is taking over the fund at Boulder paper article 13-02-93 Contract of sale signed by Bruce Wilson 13-02-93 Purchase of 85 Kerr Street Fitzroy by Julia Gillard and B Wilson who attended the Auction 13-02-93 blewitt-getting-his-addres.html Purchase of 85 Kerr Street Fitzroy by Julia Gillard and Bruce Wilson who attended the Auction 15-02-93 Letter to Slater & Gordon about the 1/85 Kerr Street sale 15-02-93 Ralph Blewitt is appointed Western Australian Branch Secretary in the week 15 to 19 February 16-02-93 Olive Brosnan and Heidi chasing up the Power of Attorney - notes 17-02-93 Olive Brosnan makes this further note regarding Heidi, a sales person with the Real Estate firm GA Thomson. Note that Heidi returns the call and says that she will let Olive Brosnan have the original Power of Attorney (when she gets it?) and will need a certified copy in return 22-02-93 Slater and Gordon acknowledges that it has received the Contract of Sale, Section 32 Statement and the Power of Attorney from GA Thomson. 23-02-93 Olive Brosnan certifies Power of Attorney 3-03-93 A memo from Sylvia to Olive Brosnan about the application for the loan for Ralph Blewitt and the Kerr Street property 4-03-93 Letter/fax from Hewitt & Company stating Ralph Blewitt Wages Ref VB/CS 9-03-93 Memo to Olive Brosnan from Sylvia about the loan approval and the return of the chq for $500 from Ralph Blewitt's personal account 10-03-93 Letter from Slater & Gordon addressed to Ralph Blewitt explaining mortgage details Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 10-03-93 Memo Julia Gillard wants details of penalty interest rates 12-03-93 Memo to Julia Gillard from Olive Brosnan about penalty interest rates 17-03-93 Memo of fees for house - Bill of costs 18-03-93 Letter to Ralph Blewitt requesting Cheque for $67,772.30 18-03-93 The cheque for $67,772.30 22-03-93 Settlement date for Kerr Street purchase 23-03-93 Land Transfer document 31-03-94 Dawesville project costs Aug-Sept 94 Julia Gillard went on holidays while Bruce Wilson organised house renovations Aug-Sept 94 Interview with Slater & Gordon about the Renovations 6-02-95 New bank accounts for Construction Fund 17-02-95 AWU-FIME amalgamate (2 Victorian Branches) 12-04-95 Cheque from AWU WRAI account $46,550 27-04-95 Cheque for $15000 - $10 000 for K Spyridis and $5000 cash 30-06-95 AWU went back to central funding arrangements 25-07-95 Letter from Robert Smith (AWU) to Ian Cambridge and Steve Harrison about the unknown AWU bank accounts 27-07-95 Letter to the National Executives about the freezing of the accounts 2-08-95 Union National Finance committee meet to discuss what was going on start of investigations into the frozen accounts 4-08-95 Bob Smith wrote to Ian Cambridge to say the AWU was going to charge Bruce Wilson 10-08-95 Ian Cambridge visits QC Richard Kenzie from Maurice Blackburn for discussions to fix it (get union money back) 14-08-95 Internal Review into Julia Gillard's involvement of the AWU -WRA and she is put on restricted duties 14/15 Aug 95 Other Joint secretaries of the Unions paid out the signatories of the accounts - hand writing on the cheques Link 1 Link 2 16-08-95 Bruce Wilson redundancy cheque $55,204 17-08-95 Letter to stop the cheques Ian Cambridge 17/18 Aug 95 All accounts were closed bar 2 general and grants accounts and redundancies given out 18-08-95 Affidavit - Bill Ludwig - Bruce Wilson get sprung 11-09-95 Julia Gillard interviewed by Geoff Shaw, Peter Gordon and Nick Styant-Browne at Slater and Gordon - It's recorded and she goes on leave of Absence until May 96 (WA AWU-WRA not yet discovered by AWU yet) 31-01-96 Ian Cambridge addresses AWU Qld Branch meeting 3-04-96 Ian Cambridge talked with Commonwealth Bank - Diary entry - Discovery of Workplace Reform Association INC. WA branch 6-05-96 Discovery of Accounts in AWU name by Ian Cambridge letter from Commonwealth Bank 7-05-96 Fax from Com bank listing the accounts in the AWU name - for Ian Cambridge 1-06-96 Newspaper article about Joe Trio and the AWU fraud article from sometime in 1996 3-06-96 Ian Cambridge received bank records after the discussions with the bank back in April Ian Cambridge spoke to AWU Officials in Perth and they never heard of the Workplace Reform Association Inc. 5-07-96 Diary entry Ian Cambridge - spoke to Branch Official Russell Frearson about the $400,000 going through the account 31-07-96 Geoff Shaw Slater & Gordon General Manager gets Subpoena to supply all documents relating to purchase of 1/85 Kerr Street 13-08-96 Court proceeding where Geoff Shaw is to produce the documents from the Subpeona Link 1, Link 2 6-01-97 Memo from Investigating Detective Dave McAlpine about the AWU fraud 6-02-97 Memo to fraud squad from Theiss stating they hadn't been defrauded Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4 17-02-98 Memo fraud squad about Theiss - Ralph Blewitt said Theiss auditors required that the WRA needed to be Inc.
VIDEO-Alan Dershowitz Discusses His Role During President Trump Impeachment Trial'... | The Last Refuge
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 00:18
I'm skipping any further discussion of Pam Bondi because, quite frankly, while she may be considered a member of President Trump's team, if we are honest about her background ''particularly in the Zimmerman case fraud'' there's nothing good to say.
Bondi was the Florida AG and convinced Gov. Scott to appoint a special prosecutor. Bondi picked her campaign manager, Jacksonville state attorney, Angela Corey; who constructed a fraudulent witness against the accused. AG Pam Bondi specifically knew Witness #8 was manufactured. In '12/'13 Pam Bondi attempted to frame a transparently innocent man.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz appears on Fox News for a discussion of his role in the upcoming senate impeachment trial of President Trump. Mr. Dershowitz states he will be presenting the constitutional argument against the entire premise for the insufferable impeachment. WATCH :
VIDEO - 'Huge rat infestation'; Large homeless camp causing health hazard near Colorado Capitol, Lincoln Park closed | FOX31 Denver
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:51
DENVER -- The Denver Health Department says a homeless encampment near the Colorado state Capitol has turned into a health hazard.
The health department says about 97 people are camping in 40 tents at Lincoln Park.
''The health department is closing the park to address the rodent issue. Please work on getting up and getting your belongings together.'' pic.twitter.com/481dM83CE8
'-- Emily Allen FOX31 (@EmilyAReports) January 15, 2020
Lincoln Park will be closed for several weeks due to a huge rat infestation, according to the health department.
The health department will clean up trash, sweep sidewalks, use a bleach solution and tackle the rat problem while the park is closed.
The health department said the closure has nothing to do with the camping ban. They say the closure is due to the health hazard caused by the rat infestation.
The city told FOX31 the state has a pest control contractor to manage the rat issue.
Many of the campers said they didn't know where they would go.
Some spent the afternoon across the street at Civic Center Park. The park is open to all until 11 p.m. After that, rangers make sure people go somewhere else.
As of Wednesday afternoon, many did not go the Denver Rescue Mission.
A spokesperson told FOX31 intakes were fewer than normal.
VIDEO - Fuel DUMP over Los Angeles, WHY?! - YouTube
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:36
VIDEO -56m35- Election 2020: Foreign Policy and the Democratic Primaries - YouTube
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:23
VIDEO - Key Ukrainian official responds to Parnas' Trump allegations - YouTube
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 11:26
VIDEO - Finally raining in parts of Australia (Happy Freakout) : PublicFreakout
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 11:19
level 1 Another Good Bot Moderator of r/PublicFreakout, speaking officially Score hidden · 9 hours ago · Stickied commentThe following re-uploads of this video are available:
Mirror #1 (provided by /u/tuckbot)
Note: this is a bot providing a directory service. If you have trouble with any of the links above, please contact the user who provided them.
look at my ^programming
level 1You would never find someone so happy about rain in the UK.
level 2how are you guys still not exporting that stuff?
level 2Rain rain go away, Australia needs it anyway!
level 2Not true in UK and I'm stoked, used to live in NSW my Bro and his family do as well. Makes our home made problems look so stupid.
level 2That's because you aren't taught how to enjoy it. :P
level 2dozens of farmers each year in australia commit suicide because of lack of rain... just a fact for you.
level 1Of course, it will not be a normal rain, but a giant storm. Love Australia. So unpredictish.
Edit: grammar fix
level 2 So impredictable unpredictish.
level 2There's parts of Victoria that's flooded, so yeah haha
level 1How the fuck did they go from fire to flood in less than 2 weeks
level 2God is pissed that you jerk off at night
level 2I don't know if this is entirely the case in Australia but after long droughts the ground has a difficult time absorbing water which can lead to erosion and flooding
A subreddit dedicated to people freaking out, melting down, losing their cool, or being weird in public.
Reddit Inc (C) 2020. All rights reserved
VIDEO - Hot mic catches tense moment between Sanders and Warren - CBS News
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 11:13
Hot mic catches tense moment between Sanders and Warren - CBS News Impeachment Trial Iran Leader Blasts U.S. Evelyn Yang Sexual Assault U.S. Troops Injured GoFundMe Scam Virginia Gun Rally Eminem Surprise Album News US World Politics Entertainment Health MoneyWatch Technology Science Crime Sports Why Chief Justice Roberts' role in the impeachment trial is "critical" Police video shows moment witness becomes murder suspect Trump hosts champion LSU football team at White House Iran leader blasts U.S. "clowns" in rare personal message Impeachment d(C)j vu: Ken Starr added to Trump's defense team Pompeo claims he was unaware of any surveillance on Yovanovitch New Grammys head ousted just 10 days before show Woman gets 25 years for poisoning husband with eye drops Almost 28,000 women apply for trip to moon with billionaire Impeachment Ken Starr added to Trump's trial defense team Complete coverage of the proceedings Why Chief Justice Roberts' role in impeachment trial is "critical" Parnas says Trump tried to fire Yovanovitch "at least four" times Who is Robert Hyde, the newest figure in the impeachment saga? White House broke law by freezing Ukraine aid, watchdog says What are impeachment managers and what do they do? Shows CBS This Morning CBS Evening News 60 Minutes Face The Nation Sunday Morning 48 Hours CBSN Originals NCIS: The Cases They Can't Forget Live Latest headlines CBSN Bay Area CBSN Boston CBSN Los Angeles CBSN Minnesota CBSN New York CBS Sports HQ ET Live LIVE More Latest Video Photos Podcasts In Depth Local Log In Alerts Mobile RSS Shop Search Search: Live
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VIDEO - For Buttigieg, It's Personal | SUPERcuts!
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 08:01
VIDEO - Media Lament Boring, Punchless Democratic Debaters | SUPERcuts!
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:58
VIDEO-CNN Freaks Out After Martha McSally Rips Their Reporter. McSally Fires Back In Interview. | The Daily Wire
Thu, 16 Jan 2020 23:10
Arizona Republican Senator fired back at far-left CNN on Thursday night after the network devoted significant news coverage to McSally calling one of their reporters a ''liberal hack'' earlier in the day, saying during an interview that she isn't backing down from the comment and she doubled down on it later in the day.
''Manu, you're a liberal hack, I'm not talking to you,'' McSally told CNN's Manu Raju earlier in the day.
During an appearance on Fox News' ''The Ingraham Angle'' with host Laura Ingraham, McSally responded to CNN's outrage throughout the day over the comment.
''Senator, do you regret what you said?'' Ingraham asked.
''Uh, no Laura, I do not,'' McSally responded. ''And I said it again actually as I went, I said, 'you're a liberal hack, buddy.' As you know, these CNN reporters, so there's many of them around the capital, they are so biased, they are so in cahoots with the Democrats, they so can't stand the president, and they run around trying to chase Republicans and ask trapping questions.''
McSally continued, ''I'm a fighter pilot, you know, I called it like it is, and that's what we see out of the mainstream media, especially CNN, every single day, so obviously I'm going to tell the truth and I did it today and it's laughable how they've responded.''
''They should probably be filing FEC reports with the DNC, right?'' McSally later added about CNN. ''In kind contributions.''
"I'm a fighter pilot! I called it like it is!"
Sen. Martha McSally scorches CNN '-- in a fun interview with Laura Ingraham '-- for their hypocrisy, doubling down on her criticism of Manu Raju, while them for working on cahoots with the DNC. pic.twitter.com/GD452PXpYk
'-- (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) January 17, 2020
Raju lashed out on Twitter as he recalled the event by prefacing what happened by mentioning that McSally was ''a Republican facing a difficult election race.''
''Sen. Martha McSally, a Republican facing a difficult election race, lashed out when I asked if she would consider new evidence as part of the Senate trial,'' Raju wrote. '''You're a liberal hack '' I'm not talking to you. You're a liberal hack.' She then walked into a hearing room.''
McSally doubled down on Twitter, writing: ''A) you are. B) here's the video.''
A) you are. B) here's the video. https://t.co/zVgk9pBhdf pic.twitter.com/cfFdotLjFK
'-- Martha McSally (@SenMcSallyAZ) January 16, 2020
VIDEO-Cartoon Sound Effect - Bottle Glass Drop - YouTube
Thu, 16 Jan 2020 20:30
VIDEO-Charlie Kirk on Twitter: "I don't remember CNN being ''stunned'' when Democrat Bob Menendez said: ''You're trash. I won't answer questions from The Daily Caller, period. You're trash. Don't keep harassing me or I'll call Capitol Polic
Thu, 16 Jan 2020 18:39
Log in Sign up Charlie Kirk @ charliekirk11 I don't remember CNN being ''stunned'' when Democrat Bob Menendez said:''You're trash. I won't answer questions from The Daily Caller, period. You're trash. Don't keep harassing me or I'll call Capitol Police''Where was their shock and outrage then?ð¤--
pic.twitter.com/5Azr9JIv1v 4:37 PM - 16 Jan 2020 Twitter by: ALX ðºð¸ @alx ZiggyStarDad '¸ @ ziggystardad
1m Replying to
@charliekirk11 Daily Caller????
View conversation · Malarky O'2020'¹ð¬ðªð>>ð...ðºð¸ @ GodfreyBouillon
49s Replying to
@charliekirk11 This will garner her votes.
View conversation · Smackey Cracks ðºð¸ðºð¸ NEVER TRUMP Sooners! ''¸ @ SmackeyCracks
21s Replying to
@charliekirk11 Is poor Charlie upset? Boohoo.
pic.twitter.com/7j7iwE3ZgY View conversation · RepublicanDad 2.0 @ RepublicanDad20
1m Replying to
@charliekirk11 FAKE NEWS
View conversation · james Reece @ Jreece15
1m Replying to
@charliekirk11 F them
View conversation · D @ d581977
58s Replying to
@charliekirk11 Daily Caller IS trash though
View conversation · A&A Company @ AACompany1
55s Replying to
@charliekirk11 @CNN @CNN is a dumpster fire
pic.twitter.com/Ax1nH6zdhZ View conversation · AU Eagle ð...
'¸ðºð¸ðð>> @ eagle_au
52s Replying to
@charliekirk11 #RuleofLawRepublicanspic.twitter.com/L5xijgNmQt View conversation · SJP @ SJP74203731
12s Replying to
@charliekirk11 Truth hurts, liberals need to get use to their words being thrown back.
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