794: Party Boat

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 0m
January 28th, 2016
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NOAA completes steps to make weather forecasting more accurate | KXAN.com
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 14:43
Courtesy of NOAA '--
NOAA's Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputer System is now running at record speed, with the capacity to process and analyze earth observations at quadrillions of calculations per second to support weather, water and climate forecast models. This investment to advance the field of meteorology and improve global forecasts secures the U.S. reputation as a world leader in atmospheric and water prediction sciences and services.
The computers '' called Luna and Surge '' are located at computing centers in Reston, Virginia and Orlando, Florida. They are now running at 2.89 petaflops each for a new total of 5.78 petaflops of operational computing capacity, up from 776 teraflops of processing power last year.
''This significant investment in our operational supercomputers equips us to handle the tidal wave of data that new observing platforms will generate and allows us to push our science and operations into exciting new territory, said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA's administrator. ''The faster runs and better spatial and temporal resolution that Luna and Surge provide will allow NOAA to improve our environmental intelligence dramatically, giving the public faster and better predictions of weather, water and climate change. This enhanced environmental intelligence is vital to supporting the nation's physical safety and economic security.''
Sullivan said the ultimate goal of investment in operational and research supercomputing capacity is to build resilient communities in the United States by arming people with reliable environmental intelligence to make good decisions, as NOAA works to build a Weather-Ready Nation.
The increase in supercomputing strength will allow NOAA to roll out a series operational model upgrades throughout 2016. For example:
Upgrades to the High Resolution Rapid Refresh Model (HRRR) will help meteorologists predict the amount, timing and type of precipitation in winter storms and the timing location and structure severe thunderstorms.Implementation of the Weather Research and Forecasting Hydrologic Modeling System (WRF-Hydro) will expand the National Weather Service's current water quantity forecasts at 3,600 locations to forecasts of flow, soil moisture, snow water equivalent, evapotranspiration, runoff and other parameters for 2.67 million river and stream locations across the country, representing a 700-fold increase in spatial density. This new information, provided nationally at the neighborhood scale, will enable forecasters to more accurately predict droughts and floods, and better support water resources decisions.Upgrades to the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting Model (HWRF) will mark the first time NOAA models have had direct connections between the air, ocean and waves to improve forecasts of hurricane tracks and intensity. This upgrade will increase the number of storms NOAA can forecast for at any given time to 8.The increase in supercomputing capacity comes via a $44.5 million investment using NOAA's operational high performance computing contract with IBM, $25 million of which was provided through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 related to the consequences of Hurricane Sandy. Cray Inc., headquartered in Seattle, serves as a subcontractor for IBM providing the new systems to NOAA.
Articles: NOAA's Law Enforcement Behaving Badly
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 14:31
Almost every one of the 172 law enforcement officers of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Fisheries Service has a take-home vehicle -- sort of, but not exactly, a perk. The cars are not part of the job description; they are a derived benefit, bought and paid for with the monies gathered by punishing fishermen. Does NOAA's OLE (Office of Law Enforcement) policy allow take-home cars? Not exactly. To be precise, there is no policy. Does NOAA's OLE policy permit the purchase of vehicles outright? No; policy is to lease or rent. How, then, were they allowed to buy some two hundred cars ($4.6M)? Lack of adult supervision.
The people we count on to protect our industry, preserve our environment, and manage our fisheries cannot even manage themselves.
OLE policy does not permit vessel purchases, but OLE has purchased 22 vessels at a cost of $2.7M using funds from fines and seizures. The vessels are used for random boardings of working fishing boats. Probable cause? How quaint.
International travel? Nice work if you can get it. Fishermen's fines paid for some $600K of international travel expenses, $500K of which was not covered by NOAA's OLE policy.
Backup is provided in a scathing July 2010 Inspector General (IG) report on the NOAA law enforcement Asset Forfeiture Fund (AFF), made up of the money realized by fines and forfeitures from fishermen. From January 2005 through June 2009, the AFF received some $96M, spent $49M, and had a balance of $8.4M. My arithmetic suggests that $40M is missing. The IG's report describes NOAA's management of the AFF as an "abstract concept" and as "susceptible to both error and abuse." You think?The IG relates industry's complaints that "fines were excessive, constituting a form of bounty, partly because of NOAA's ability to retain and use proceeds from its enforcement cases." The potential certainly exists for OLE agents to inflate fines so as to grow the AFF faster and to treat the AFF as a perquisite slush fund.
As described in a January 2010 IG Report, fisheries management has not only a police force, but also an office of prosecutors, the General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation (GCEL), and their own court system, administrative but powerful -- judges, no juries, no meaningful appeal, and a presumption of guilt. The great American Star Chamber, not unlike many other regulatory offices in our benevolent government, except for the lack of management oversight endemic within NOAA. It cannot be shown that the NOAA OLE agents and the GCEL prosecutors proactively engage in expanding the AFF. Anecdotal evidence abounds of threats, coercions, extortion, and other hardball interrogation and collection techniques, but these are not evidence. Still, the IG found several anecdotes sufficiently credible to include in his January report. Watch the linked video of a fisherman testifying before a congressional subcommittee. This is sworn testimony, much stronger than a simple anecdote. Early in the tape, the fisherman tells of being grilled on his personal finances. As the tape goes on, the fisherman describes being fined some $27K and being threatened -- coerced -- with an increase to $125K if he insisted on going before the NOAA administrative judge. Further into his testimony, the fisherman relates an incident when he and one of his captains were offered full relief from a fine -- extortion -- if they would drop the dime on another target of the OLE. In 2006, a Rhode Island fisherman's boat was randomly boarded by OLE agents. They found $2,500 worth of monkfish for which he did not have a permit. They seized the fish and fined the fisherman $50K. Twenty dollars per pound seems excessive to me, but what do I know? I'm just a rocket scientist. The fisherman lost his appeal and had to pay the fine. The government refused his request for payment terms and insisted on payment in full, saying, "[H]e has more than enough equity in his residence and (probably) in his vessels to secure a loan [to cover his fine]." The government would have the fisherman mortgage his home and sell his vessels -- his means of livelihood -- to get paid quickly. Was our government running out of money? Or was the AFF slush fund in need of a transfusion?The NOAA law enforcement structure employs a consultant to perform financial background checks and to appear as an expert witness at trial. This in and of itself troubles me, but there's more. The consultant has attended international fishing law enforcement meetings with OLE and GCEL personnel on a least two occasions, Kuala Lumpur (2005) and Norway (2008). The AFF paid for the OLE and GCEL attendees. It is unclear if the AFF also picked up the tab for the consultant. I have trouble with the government seeking private financial information in setting their fines. I am more troubled by the appearance that fines are set towards the top limit of a victim's ability to pay.
Two takeaways:
Overly vigorous enforcement of the fisheries regulations is not a partisan problem. It goes back to Clinton's administration and perhaps farther.
NOAA and Dr. Lubchenco conducted a National Enforcement Summit in August. The acting Director of OLE gave a presentation at the summit based on Appendix 6 to Dr. Lubchenco's March 2010 response to the IG. The acting director will be the person to implement any cultural changes directed by upper management. His presentation was pure bureaucratese -- you know, like he took a paragraph from the Lewis Carroll column, one from George Orwell, and one from Saul Alinsky. The subject of the presentation was -- drum roll, please -- a plan to develop a procedure to identify priorities. If that does not send a tingle up your leg, the priorities will be identified by October 2011. Timely. And there is no indication that the priorities will change from the current priority of fining the fishermen into oblivion.Dr. Lubchenco will not be replaced by Obama, so Obama must be voted out of office before serious reforms will occur.
Of longer-term concern is the march of big government. We have discussed a presumption of guilt, search and seizure without probable cause, and punishment that fits the pocketbook, not the crime. The ugly truth is that these counter-constitutional manifestations of big government are all legal under our Constitution. The lazy and gutless Congress writes sloppy laws, and the ever-encroaching Executive takes full advantage by filling in the blanks with autocratic regulations. "Vote the bums out" may slow the process, but it will not resolve the root cause. We need to revisit the Constitution to, among other things, limit the carte blanche rulemaking ability of the two branches of Congress and to include provisions that regulatory and other bureaucracies are formulated within the principles of the Constitution.
Mike Johnson is a concerned citizen, a small-government conservative, and a live-free-or-die resident of New Hampshire. E-mail:mnosnhoj@comcast.netAlmost every one of the 172 law enforcement officers of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Fisheries Service has a take-home vehicle -- sort of, but not exactly, a perk. The cars are not part of the job description; they are a derived benefit, bought and paid for with the monies gathered by punishing fishermen. Does NOAA's OLE (Office of Law Enforcement) policy allow take-home cars? Not exactly. To be precise, there is no policy. Does NOAA's OLE policy permit the purchase of vehicles outright? No; policy is to lease or rent. How, then, were they allowed to buy some two hundred cars ($4.6M)? Lack of adult supervision.
The people we count on to protect our industry, preserve our environment, and manage our fisheries cannot even manage themselves.
OLE policy does not permit vessel purchases, but OLE has purchased 22 vessels at a cost of $2.7M using funds from fines and seizures. The vessels are used for random boardings of working fishing boats. Probable cause? How quaint.
International travel? Nice work if you can get it. Fishermen's fines paid for some $600K of international travel expenses, $500K of which was not covered by NOAA's OLE policy.
Backup is provided in a scathing July 2010 Inspector General (IG) report on the NOAA law enforcement Asset Forfeiture Fund (AFF), made up of the money realized by fines and forfeitures from fishermen. From January 2005 through June 2009, the AFF received some $96M, spent $49M, and had a balance of $8.4M. My arithmetic suggests that $40M is missing. The IG's report describes NOAA's management of the AFF as an "abstract concept" and as "susceptible to both error and abuse." You think?The IG relates industry's complaints that "fines were excessive, constituting a form of bounty, partly because of NOAA's ability to retain and use proceeds from its enforcement cases." The potential certainly exists for OLE agents to inflate fines so as to grow the AFF faster and to treat the AFF as a perquisite slush fund.
As described in a January 2010 IG Report, fisheries management has not only a police force, but also an office of prosecutors, the General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation (GCEL), and their own court system, administrative but powerful -- judges, no juries, no meaningful appeal, and a presumption of guilt. The great American Star Chamber, not unlike many other regulatory offices in our benevolent government, except for the lack of management oversight endemic within NOAA. It cannot be shown that the NOAA OLE agents and the GCEL prosecutors proactively engage in expanding the AFF. Anecdotal evidence abounds of threats, coercions, extortion, and other hardball interrogation and collection techniques, but these are not evidence. Still, the IG found several anecdotes sufficiently credible to include in his January report. Watch the linked video of a fisherman testifying before a congressional subcommittee. This is sworn testimony, much stronger than a simple anecdote. Early in the tape, the fisherman tells of being grilled on his personal finances. As the tape goes on, the fisherman describes being fined some $27K and being threatened -- coerced -- with an increase to $125K if he insisted on going before the NOAA administrative judge. Further into his testimony, the fisherman relates an incident when he and one of his captains were offered full relief from a fine -- extortion -- if they would drop the dime on another target of the OLE. In 2006, a Rhode Island fisherman's boat was randomly boarded by OLE agents. They found $2,500 worth of monkfish for which he did not have a permit. They seized the fish and fined the fisherman $50K. Twenty dollars per pound seems excessive to me, but what do I know? I'm just a rocket scientist. The fisherman lost his appeal and had to pay the fine. The government refused his request for payment terms and insisted on payment in full, saying, "[H]e has more than enough equity in his residence and (probably) in his vessels to secure a loan [to cover his fine]." The government would have the fisherman mortgage his home and sell his vessels -- his means of livelihood -- to get paid quickly. Was our government running out of money? Or was the AFF slush fund in need of a transfusion?The NOAA law enforcement structure employs a consultant to perform financial background checks and to appear as an expert witness at trial. This in and of itself troubles me, but there's more. The consultant has attended international fishing law enforcement meetings with OLE and GCEL personnel on a least two occasions, Kuala Lumpur (2005) and Norway (2008). The AFF paid for the OLE and GCEL attendees. It is unclear if the AFF also picked up the tab for the consultant. I have trouble with the government seeking private financial information in setting their fines. I am more troubled by the appearance that fines are set towards the top limit of a victim's ability to pay.
Two takeaways:
Overly vigorous enforcement of the fisheries regulations is not a partisan problem. It goes back to Clinton's administration and perhaps farther.
NOAA and Dr. Lubchenco conducted a National Enforcement Summit in August. The acting Director of OLE gave a presentation at the summit based on Appendix 6 to Dr. Lubchenco's March 2010 response to the IG. The acting director will be the person to implement any cultural changes directed by upper management. His presentation was pure bureaucratese -- you know, like he took a paragraph from the Lewis Carroll column, one from George Orwell, and one from Saul Alinsky. The subject of the presentation was -- drum roll, please -- a plan to develop a procedure to identify priorities. If that does not send a tingle up your leg, the priorities will be identified by October 2011. Timely. And there is no indication that the priorities will change from the current priority of fining the fishermen into oblivion.Dr. Lubchenco will not be replaced by Obama, so Obama must be voted out of office before serious reforms will occur.
Of longer-term concern is the march of big government. We have discussed a presumption of guilt, search and seizure without probable cause, and punishment that fits the pocketbook, not the crime. The ugly truth is that these counter-constitutional manifestations of big government are all legal under our Constitution. The lazy and gutless Congress writes sloppy laws, and the ever-encroaching Executive takes full advantage by filling in the blanks with autocratic regulations. "Vote the bums out" may slow the process, but it will not resolve the root cause. We need to revisit the Constitution to, among other things, limit the carte blanche rulemaking ability of the two branches of Congress and to include provisions that regulatory and other bureaucracies are formulated within the principles of the Constitution.
Mike Johnson is a concerned citizen, a small-government conservative, and a live-free-or-die resident of New Hampshire. E-mail:mnosnhoj@comcast.net
Articles: NOAA's Party Boat
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 14:25
A boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money. An old clich(C), and very, very true.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while not yet reaching the level of clich(C), has become a euphemism for inept management.
NOAA's Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) in Seattle bought a boat -- a very fancy boat, a "luxurious" boat, a boat that cost $300,787. You can view a sales video of the boathere. Indulge yourself -- see how the 1% lives.The boat was delivered in June 2008 and was used by OLE personnel for personal entertainment. The first operational patrol was in June 2009, a year after the boat had been delivered. It was taken out of service in September 2010 after a total of just nine operational patrols.
Much of the factual information in this essay comes from aresponseby the Department of Commerce to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. The FOIA response is dated 16 February 2012, and Senator Brown gave a speech from the Senate floor on 17 February. You can view the eight-minute speechhere, and you will see that it is not normal go-along-to-get-along Senate demagoguery. Brown is a breath of fresh air. He asked, "What does it take to get fired at NOAA?"
The IG report in the FOIA response is heavily redacted -- for privacy concerns, we are assured. We are familiar with redacted FOIAs, particularly from NOAA. The redactions are annoying, but one can interpret who is who at least in broad terms. There is a primary actor in the NOAA Party Boat saga. He is one of four supervisory OLE agents in the Seattle office. I will refer to him as the Redacted Rascal, or RR for short.
The IG's report includes the following:
1. [RR] violated agency policy and ethical standards by operating the UC [undercover] vessel with his wife and/or friends aboard on three known occasions (workdays) in the summer of 2008.
2. When contemporaneously questioned by [redacted], and later by OIG [Office of the Inspector General], [RR] was not candid about unauthorized persons aboard the UC vessel, in violation of agency policy and the Standards of Ethical Conduct.
4a. Inappropriate use of personal credit card for nearly $12,000 in vessel operating costs.
4b. Interference [by RR] with OIG investigation.
How serious are these charges? Well, #2 and #4b can get you lots of hard time in a federal slammer -- just askMartha Stewart,Scooter Libby, and the bleeping goldenBlago. How did RR make out? Much better than the other three. RR is under the protection of the benevolent Dr. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of NOAA. The following is also from the IG's report:
On May 31, 2011, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland [serving NOAA Headquarters] declined criminal prosecution of [RR] in favor of administrative remedies. A USA [redacted] specifically recommended administrative action be pursued against [RR] and the Government be made whole for the cost of the fuel and time attributable to [RR's] reported misconduct involving the UC vessel.
No criminal prosecution -- only an administrative action recommended, and we don't know if the recommendation was followed.
NOAA's Party Boat was paid for with funds from the OLE Asset Forfeiture Fund (AFF) -- or as I call it, the Toys and Trips Fund. The Department of Commerce inspector general conducted an in-depth investigation of the NOAA fisheries enforcement operations, including the AFF. See thearticleby Nils E. Stolpe. The results were scathing.
The AFF abuses should have become a major expos(C). The media let us down once again. The expos(C) never happened. The only major media outlet to cover the scandal was CBS Evening News, which did an excellent four-minute piece on 16 February 2011. The CBS piece ishere, and my AT article ishere.
CBS included a clip of a senator named Chuck who said, "I want to make sure that heads roll ... because in a bureaucracy, if heads don't roll, you don't change behavior." What is it about senators named Chuck? They see a camera and microphone and feel obliged to spout inanities? It's been more than a year, Senator Chuck Grassley. Where are the heads?
RR is not the special agent in charge (SAC) in Seattle. That person's name is Ms. Vicki L. Nomura. Ms. Nomura is not mentioned by name in the redacted FOIA materials. She is currently listed as the supervisory criminal investigator for the Northwest Enforcement Division on theNOAA Personnel Locator, which also gives her work phone number. She is shown (at the same phone number) as the SAC on theroster of attendeesat the Second Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop, Trondheim, Norway, 7-11 August 2008.
Nice work if you can get it. Norway in the dog days of summer (not that there are many dog days of summer in Seattle). All expenses paid, courtesy of the taxpayer? Well, not exactly. Did she pay her own way? Hardly. The trip was charged to the OLE AFF.
The AFF paid for Ms. Nomura's trip to Norway, the AFF paid for the purchase of NOAA's Party Boat, and the AFF paid for RR's operating expenses for the first several months of being the de facto captain of the vessel. The use of the vessel as a pleasure craft diminished once the front of the house told RR that AFF funds would no longer cover operating expenses.
On 8 August 2008, a Friday, while Ms. Nomura and her assistant were attending the conference in Norway, RR and his wife became stranded "in a shipping lane near Seattle" because RR did not know that he had to switch gas tanks manually should one run out. The SAC was in Norway, the ASAC was in Norway, and RR was stranded in harm's way. Who was protecting the little fishes from the rapacious fishermen?
The IG issued aninterim reporton just the AFF on 1 July 2010 and afinal reporton the overall NOAA fisheries enforcement operations on 23 September 2010. See also myAT articleon NOAA's law enforcement behaving badly. In summary, NOAA fisheries enforcement, using means fair and foul (Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke was forced to publiclyapologizefor the foul means employed by NOAA fisheries enforcement), seized assets and fined fishermen to a total of about $100,000,000. The IG was able to trace about $60M of expenditures, but the other $40M seems to have done a disappearing act. Of the traceable $60M, much of it was expended in violation of statutes or not in accordance with policy. For example, using AFF funds for foreign travel is not permitted by the Magnuson-Stevens Act unless the travel is directly related to an ongoing investigation.
In the best tradition of a proactive meaningless bureaucratic response, Dr. Lubchenco called a NOAANational Enforcement Summitfor 3 August 2010 to address and resolve the concerns of the IG. The summit was just a continuation of Dr. Lubchenco's papering over of the inspector general's very negative reports. Critical reports are career-killers. Bureaucrats react with frenzy and flying paper. Shakespearian drama and then some, but not always effective. Think Macbeth: "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Do they actually think that we are foolish enough to trust that such actions will be effective? Or worse -- are they dim-witted enough to have faith in such actions being effective?
This past January, the IG issued afollow-up reportin the most polite bureaucratic double-speak. Bottom line: NOAA has done next to nothing to correct the culture within the enforcement organizations. Sure, they tightened some procedures, reorganized around the margins, and clarified written policy to be less ambiguous. The IG also issued anAFF specific reportin February. The finding of the AFF report is the following:
NOAA lacks controls to assure that all proceeds are received and accurately recorded. Also, NOAA has not accurately recorded or adequately pursued the total amount owed for fines and penalties.
The better part of two years of inaction on NOAA's part, and the problem has not been fixed!
Nobody has been fired. Nobody has been demoted. Business as usual is the rule. Just look at the Redacted Rascal. He is still in the same position, drawing the same six-figure salary. NOAA's Party Boat is tied up at a marina, deteriorating for lack of use while running up storage fees of $400 per month -- of taxpayer money.
It is time to return some semblance of objective management to NOAA. In order to do this, Dr. Jane Lubchenco must be fired. So be it!
In order to fire Dr. Lubchenco, President Obama must be defeated -- as if we need another reason.
Mike Johnson is a concerned citizen, a small-government conservative, and a live-free-or-die resident of New Hampshire. E-mailmnosnhoj@comcast.net.
A boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money. An old clich(C), and very, very true.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while not yet reaching the level of clich(C), has become a euphemism for inept management.
NOAA's Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) in Seattle bought a boat -- a very fancy boat, a "luxurious" boat, a boat that cost $300,787. You can view a sales video of the boathere. Indulge yourself -- see how the 1% lives.
The boat was delivered in June 2008 and was used by OLE personnel for personal entertainment. The first operational patrol was in June 2009, a year after the boat had been delivered. It was taken out of service in September 2010 after a total of just nine operational patrols.
Much of the factual information in this essay comes from aresponseby the Department of Commerce to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. The FOIA response is dated 16 February 2012, and Senator Brown gave a speech from the Senate floor on 17 February. You can view the eight-minute speechhere, and you will see that it is not normal go-along-to-get-along Senate demagoguery. Brown is a breath of fresh air. He asked, "What does it take to get fired at NOAA?"
The IG report in the FOIA response is heavily redacted -- for privacy concerns, we are assured. We are familiar with redacted FOIAs, particularly from NOAA. The redactions are annoying, but one can interpret who is who at least in broad terms. There is a primary actor in the NOAA Party Boat saga. He is one of four supervisory OLE agents in the Seattle office. I will refer to him as the Redacted Rascal, or RR for short.
The IG's report includes the following:
1. [RR] violated agency policy and ethical standards by operating the UC [undercover] vessel with his wife and/or friends aboard on three known occasions (workdays) in the summer of 2008.
2. When contemporaneously questioned by [redacted], and later by OIG [Office of the Inspector General], [RR] was not candid about unauthorized persons aboard the UC vessel, in violation of agency policy and the Standards of Ethical Conduct.
4a. Inappropriate use of personal credit card for nearly $12,000 in vessel operating costs.
4b. Interference [by RR] with OIG investigation.
How serious are these charges? Well, #2 and #4b can get you lots of hard time in a federal slammer -- just askMartha Stewart,Scooter Libby, and the bleeping goldenBlago. How did RR make out? Much better than the other three. RR is under the protection of the benevolent Dr. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of NOAA. The following is also from the IG's report:
On May 31, 2011, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland [serving NOAA Headquarters] declined criminal prosecution of [RR] in favor of administrative remedies. A USA [redacted] specifically recommended administrative action be pursued against [RR] and the Government be made whole for the cost of the fuel and time attributable to [RR's] reported misconduct involving the UC vessel.
No criminal prosecution -- only an administrative action recommended, and we don't know if the recommendation was followed.
NOAA's Party Boat was paid for with funds from the OLE Asset Forfeiture Fund (AFF) -- or as I call it, the Toys and Trips Fund. The Department of Commerce inspector general conducted an in-depth investigation of the NOAA fisheries enforcement operations, including the AFF. See thearticleby Nils E. Stolpe. The results were scathing.
The AFF abuses should have become a major expos(C). The media let us down once again. The expos(C) never happened. The only major media outlet to cover the scandal was CBS Evening News, which did an excellent four-minute piece on 16 February 2011. The CBS piece ishere, and my AT article ishere.
CBS included a clip of a senator named Chuck who said, "I want to make sure that heads roll ... because in a bureaucracy, if heads don't roll, you don't change behavior." What is it about senators named Chuck? They see a camera and microphone and feel obliged to spout inanities? It's been more than a year, Senator Chuck Grassley. Where are the heads?
RR is not the special agent in charge (SAC) in Seattle. That person's name is Ms. Vicki L. Nomura. Ms. Nomura is not mentioned by name in the redacted FOIA materials. She is currently listed as the supervisory criminal investigator for the Northwest Enforcement Division on theNOAA Personnel Locator, which also gives her work phone number. She is shown (at the same phone number) as the SAC on theroster of attendeesat the Second Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop, Trondheim, Norway, 7-11 August 2008.
Nice work if you can get it. Norway in the dog days of summer (not that there are many dog days of summer in Seattle). All expenses paid, courtesy of the taxpayer? Well, not exactly. Did she pay her own way? Hardly. The trip was charged to the OLE AFF.
The AFF paid for Ms. Nomura's trip to Norway, the AFF paid for the purchase of NOAA's Party Boat, and the AFF paid for RR's operating expenses for the first several months of being the de facto captain of the vessel. The use of the vessel as a pleasure craft diminished once the front of the house told RR that AFF funds would no longer cover operating expenses.
On 8 August 2008, a Friday, while Ms. Nomura and her assistant were attending the conference in Norway, RR and his wife became stranded "in a shipping lane near Seattle" because RR did not know that he had to switch gas tanks manually should one run out. The SAC was in Norway, the ASAC was in Norway, and RR was stranded in harm's way. Who was protecting the little fishes from the rapacious fishermen?
The IG issued aninterim reporton just the AFF on 1 July 2010 and afinal reporton the overall NOAA fisheries enforcement operations on 23 September 2010. See also myAT articleon NOAA's law enforcement behaving badly. In summary, NOAA fisheries enforcement, using means fair and foul (Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke was forced to publiclyapologizefor the foul means employed by NOAA fisheries enforcement), seized assets and fined fishermen to a total of about $100,000,000. The IG was able to trace about $60M of expenditures, but the other $40M seems to have done a disappearing act. Of the traceable $60M, much of it was expended in violation of statutes or not in accordance with policy. For example, using AFF funds for foreign travel is not permitted by the Magnuson-Stevens Act unless the travel is directly related to an ongoing investigation.
In the best tradition of a proactive meaningless bureaucratic response, Dr. Lubchenco called a NOAANational Enforcement Summitfor 3 August 2010 to address and resolve the concerns of the IG. The summit was just a continuation of Dr. Lubchenco's papering over of the inspector general's very negative reports. Critical reports are career-killers. Bureaucrats react with frenzy and flying paper. Shakespearian drama and then some, but not always effective. Think Macbeth: "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Do they actually think that we are foolish enough to trust that such actions will be effective? Or worse -- are they dim-witted enough to have faith in such actions being effective?
This past January, the IG issued afollow-up reportin the most polite bureaucratic double-speak. Bottom line: NOAA has done next to nothing to correct the culture within the enforcement organizations. Sure, they tightened some procedures, reorganized around the margins, and clarified written policy to be less ambiguous. The IG also issued anAFF specific reportin February. The finding of the AFF report is the following:
NOAA lacks controls to assure that all proceeds are received and accurately recorded. Also, NOAA has not accurately recorded or adequately pursued the total amount owed for fines and penalties.
The better part of two years of inaction on NOAA's part, and the problem has not been fixed!
Nobody has been fired. Nobody has been demoted. Business as usual is the rule. Just look at the Redacted Rascal. He is still in the same position, drawing the same six-figure salary. NOAA's Party Boat is tied up at a marina, deteriorating for lack of use while running up storage fees of $400 per month -- of taxpayer money.
It is time to return some semblance of objective management to NOAA. In order to do this, Dr. Jane Lubchenco must be fired. So be it!
In order to fire Dr. Lubchenco, President Obama must be defeated -- as if we need another reason.
Mike Johnson is a concerned citizen, a small-government conservative, and a live-free-or-die resident of New Hampshire. E-mailmnosnhoj@comcast.net.
Luxury NOAA undercover boat got more use as pleasure cruiser | The Seattle Times
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 14:22
Federal fish cops in Seattle bought a $300,000 luxury boat to spy on whale-watching tours, but it was used as "a fishermen-funded party boat for bureaucrats," said U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.
Federal fish cops in Seattle bought a $300,000 luxury boat to spy on whale-watching tours '-- but didn't go through an appropriate bidding process, held barbecues onboard, ferried friends and family across Puget Sound to restaurants and resorts, and used the boat for what one visitor called ''a pleasure cruise.''
When confronted, one federal employee in Seattle misled inspectors about how the vessel was used, and one interfered with federal investigators, according to an internal investigation by the Commerce Department. Those documents were released Friday by U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.
At issue is a 35-foot, 14-passenger boat purchased by federal agents with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) using money seized from fishermen who violated the law.
The 2008 purchase wasn't illegal, according to the Commerce Department, but federal agents manipulated the acquisition process and misrepresented the urgency and need for the vessel.
The fisheries service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has a law-enforcement branch employing special agents with the same powers as the FBI. They police the Endangered Species Act and other crimes against marine creatures, from poaching to fishing commercially in closed waters or out of season.
The boat ultimately was used for just 119 hours, according to the documents, and remains moored in Western Washington.
''The sad truth is that it was a fishermen-funded party boat for bureaucrats,'' Brown said on the Senate floor Friday.
Blistering reviews
Brown, a harsh critic of NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco's environmental policies, has repeatedly called for her resignation after a series of scathing inspector general (IG) reports in 2010 that criticized heavy-handed fisheries enforcement and mismanagement of an asset-seizure fund.
The blistering reviews focused almost exclusively on fisheries agents in New England and managers in D.C., one of whom was reassigned after shredding documents.
But this week Brown received a heavily redacted follow-up report about misuse of a Boston Whaler bought by the Seattle law-enforcement branch.
In a statement, NOAA officials said the agency has since ''conducted a top-to-bottom overhaul of its enforcement program. We hired new leadership, implemented new policies to ensure consistent enforcement practices nationwide, and put in place better accounting and oversight'' of its asset-forfeiture program.
The Seattle office in 2006 sought to buy a $146,000 boat to police halibut fishermen and to clandestinely keep tabs on San Juan Island whale-watching tours. Agents wanted to make sure the tours weren't harassing endangered orcas, but feared tour operators were well-behaved when agents approached in marked boats.
But after shopping online and at boat shows and talking to other cops, one agent instead submitted a request for the Whaler. The 345 Conquest comes standard with a 20-inch flat-screen TV, hardwood cabin floors and vanity countertops, which cost more than twice as much as the original request: $300,787.
Questions were quickly raised.
''I don't understand from the document exactly what NOAA is purchasing the boat for,'' one agency-procurement official wrote in 2008. ''Why is this exact model the only one that meets the minimum requirements?''
That official didn't even know it had been purchased until approached by investigators two years later. He said the whole process was ''wired from the start to get that one boat.''
Cruising Puget Sound
The first time a fisheries-service agent boarded the boat in June 2008, he brought his wife and a friend. They ran out of gas, called Seattle Harbor Patrol and had to be towed back to the Ship Canal.
They refueled and motored the boat through the Ballard Locks to the dockside Boat Shed Restaurant in Bremerton, had dinner and then returned to Seattle.
A month later the same agent took the boat to Poulsbo for lunch and went back to Seattle. He picked up some friends who brought aboard a six-pack of beer and sped down to Gig Harbor for dinner at Tides Tavern. One passenger told investigators the trip was ''every bit a pleasure cruise.''
A few days later, the same employee briefly got stranded in the boat in a shipping lane while taking his wife to a restaurant in Everett.
Twice that summer, while the boat was moored at Elliott Bay Marina, a fisheries-service employee grilled burgers and hot dogs with a small group that included at least two other special agents. A supervisor told an employee his wife could come aboard any time and ''kick back and watch TV.'' One agent later told investigators the gatherings kept up the vessel's appearance as a recreational boat and not an unmarked-police vessel.
Once in August 2008, the boat ferried around a special agent's visiting parents, eventually dropping them off at the Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Whatcom County. The boat that day blew out a $10,000 engine as a result of what investigators called ''operator error.'' The boat's first use in an actual undercover capacity didn't take place until the next summer.
When internal investigators learned about the boat in 2010, one employee gave such contradictory answers, investigators called the statement ''disingenuous and not credible.''
NOAA officials, in a statement, said, ''NOAA cannot discuss the nature or results of specific personnel actions. Appropriate action has been or will be taken.''
The agency has since banned use of the boat and is in the process of surplusing it, agency spokesman Connie Barclay said in an email.
Craig Welch: 206-464-2093 or cwelch@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @craigawelch.
Elections 2016
Dem Town Hall
1st Hillary Shill is Taylor Gipple from Principal Financial Group
PP
Grand Jury Indicts Leader Behind Planned Parenthood Videos - ABC News
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 05:40
A Houston grand jury investigating undercover footage of Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing Monday by the abortion provider, and instead indicted anti-abortion activists involved in making the videos that targeted the handling of fetal tissue in clinics and provoked outrage among Republican leaders nationwide.
David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs. Another activist, Sandra Merritt, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
It's the first time anyone in the group has been charged criminally since the release of the videos, which began surfacing last year and alleged that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue to researchers for a profit in violation of federal law. Planned Parenthood officials have denied any wrongdoing and have said the videos were misleadingly edited.
The footage from the clinic in Houston showed people pretending to be from a company called BioMax that procures fetal tissue for research touring the facility. Planned Parenthood has previously said that the fake company sent an agreement offering to pay the "astronomical amount" of $1,600 for organs from a fetus. The clinic said it never entered into the agreement and ceased contact with BioMax because it was "disturbed" by the overtures.
In a statement announcing the indictment, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson did not provide details on the charges, including what record or records were allegedly tampered with and why Daleiden faces a charge related to buying human organs. Her office said it could not disclose more information and a court spokesman said it was unclear whether copies of the indictments, which typically provide more insight, would be made public Monday.
"We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast," Anderson, an elected Republican, said in her statement. "As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us."
Daleiden issued a statement saying that his group "uses the same undercover techniques" as investigative journalists and follows all applicable laws.
"We respect the processes of the Harris County District Attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well," he said.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has his own ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood, said Monday that the "the videos exposed the horrific nature of abortion and the shameful disregard for human life."
The Texas video was the fifth released by the Center for Medical Progress. The videos provoked an outcry from the anti-abortion movement and prompted numerous investigations of Planned Parenthood by Republican-led committees in Congress and by GOP-led state governments. Congressional Republicans unsuccessfully called for cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood has said a few clinics in two states used to accept legally allowed reimbursement for the costs of providing tissue donated by some of its abortion clients. In October, Planned Parenthood announced that it would no longer accept reimbursement and would cover the costs itself.
The group called Monday's indictments the latest in a string of victories since the videos were released, saying that by its count, 11 state investigations have cleared the nation's largest abortion provider of claims that it profited from fetal tissue donation.
"This is absolutely great news because it is a demonstration of what Planned Parenthood has said from the very beginning: We follow every law and regulation and these anti-abortion activists broke multiple laws to try and spread lies," said spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
Before the Texas video was released, Melaney Linton, president of the Houston Planned Parenthood clinic, told state lawmakers last summer that it was likely to feature actors '-- pretending to be from a company called BioMax '-- asking leading questions about how to select potential donors for a supposed study of sickle cell anemia. Linton said the footage could feature several interactions initiated by BioMax about how and whether a doctor could adjust an abortion if a patient has offered to donate tissue for medical research.
Despite the lofty name of the Center for Medical Progress, public filings suggest only a small number of people are affiliated with the nonprofit, none of whom are scientists or physicians engaged in advancing medical treatments. The people named as its top officers are longtime anti-abortion activists with a history of generating headlines.
Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood sued the center in a California federal court, alleging extensive criminal misconduct. The lawsuit says the center's videos were the result of numerous illegalities, including making recordings without consent, registering false identities with state agencies and violating non-disclosure agreements.
After the lawsuit was filed, Daleiden told The Associated Press that he looked forward to confronting Planned Parenthood in court.
'--'--'--
Associated Press Writers Juan A. Lozano in Houston, Will Weissert in Austin and David Crary in New York contributed to this report.
'--'--'--
Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber
Oregon Oathers
Oregon Arrests: Dead Occupier LaVoy Finicum Was Dad of 11 - NBC News
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 17:13
Robert LaVoy Finicum at daughter Challice Finch's wedding. Finicum Family
LaVoy Finicum, one of the protesters' de facto spokesmen, died after shots were fired when police stopped the group on Highway 395 as they headed to a public meeting. Five of his cohorts were arrested at the scene, officials said.
Oregon State Police said an investigation was being carried out into what it described as a "officer-involved shooting," following protocols used "when deadly physical force is used." The FBI and state police said they had conducted "enforcement action" along the highway at around 4:25 p.m. local time (7:25 p.m. ET).
Authorities would not confirm Finicum's death but his daughter Challice Finch told NBC News that she had been notified by another protester.
Finicum was a Mormon rancher from Arizona who had 11 children, 19 grandchildren and a wife of 23 years.
During the occupation, the 54-year-old broke away from the rest of the group and set up a one-man camp on a chair outside the building, hunkered down under a sleeping bag, a tarpaulin, and clutching his rifle in the bitter January air.
Finicum
vowed three weeks ago that he would rather die than be taken into custody."There are things more important than your life and freedom is one of them," he
told MSNBC from his makeshift post. "I'm prepared to defend freedom."Finch, one of Finicum's 11 kids, told NBC News late Tuesday the protesters "were all committed to not firing on federal agents."
She added: "We all thought it would end but not like this. My dad did stress that they wouldn't pull a gun on them unless they pulled a gun."
The group seized Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2 in the wake of a protest in the nearby town of Burns against the imprisonment of two ranchers convicted of setting fires on government land.
They vowed to stay there until federally owned land was returned "back to the people."
In the early days of the occupation, Finicum hinted that he was keen for a swift end to the dispute.
"I need to get home,"
he said. "I got cows that are scattered and lost."Some of the protesters said that there had been negotiations with the FBI. Finicum said in
an interview with The Oregonian newspaper a day before his death that "the tenor has changed, [law enforcement] have become more hardened."He added: "They're doing all the things that show they want to take some kinetic action against us, and we're saying, 'Why be so unfriendly?'"
According to Finch, the group was traveling to the town of John Day, where some of them had been due to appear at a public meeting Tuesday night.
Five people were arrested, one of whom was injured and later discharged from hospital and taken into custody, according to a joint statement by the FBI and state police. Two were arrested in a separate but related incident and one person turned themselves in later Tuesday, it added.
All the suspects face federal felony charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats, authorities said.
It was unclear how many protesters remained in the federal wildlife refuge. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown asked for "patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution."
Among the five arrested on Highway 395 were Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the 40 and 43-year-old brothers leading the occupation.
The Bundys are sons of
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.
Top: Brian Cavalier, Ammon Edward Bundy, Joseph O'Shaughnessy, Peter Santilli | Bottom: Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne, Shawna Cox, Jon Ritzheimer MCSO | AFP - Getty Images
The other three highway arrests were Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada; Shawna Cox, 59, of Kanab, Utah; and Ryan Waylen Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana.
Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy, 45, of Cottonwood, Arizona, and Peter Santilli, 50, of Cincinnati, were arrested later in separate but related incidents, the FBI said.
Later Tuesday night, another member of the group, Jon Eric Ritzheimer, 32, turned himself in at the Peoria, Arizona, Police Department, the FBI said.
GPS/FE
Why does GPS depend on relativity? - Physics Stack Exchange
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 12:36
GPS satellite navigation system doesn't use, doesn't need and doesn't prove Einstein's General Relativity.
The GPS satellites use classical (Newtonian) relativistic principles to work. These are the same relativistic principles that make sense in the everyday world, that most people equate with 'common sense'. GPS calculates positions based on geometric principles. The atomic clocks on the satellites have their rates preset in order to match experimentally observed effects. No General Relativity is used or needed.
The website dedicated by the USA government to the GPS system, www.gps.gov, has a lot of information for those who want to know how GPS works, but does not put forward anything about General Relativity (GR).
The equations used by the GPS system are based on geometry and classical relativity. They dont include compensations for GR effects. The satellite simply sends out a signal at regular intervals with some information. The receiving device does all the required calculations with the signals it receives. You can check out the basics at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System
When the clocks of each satellite were set, the rate of each clock was adjusted according to previously observed effects. Experimental observations over decades, showed how speed and altitude affected the rate of ticking of atomic clocks. It had been experimentally observed that atomic clocks speed up at higher altitudes. It was also observed that the speed of the clock also affects the rate of ticking. Based on these experimental observations, the GPS engineers had to adjust the rate of the atomic clocks based on what had been observed - regardless of what any theory said. The engineers knew how the clocks would be affected in orbit because of experimental observations. Not the theory of general relativity. Supporters of Einsteins GR had to make sure their theory fits these observations. The GPS engineers didnt use GR to work out how much to change the clocks.
More detail:
www. freerepublic.com /focus/chat/1025790/posts
"In the 1990's, he [Van Flandern] worked as a special consultant to the Global Positioning System (GPS), a set of satellites whose atomic clocks allow ground observers to determine their position to within about a foot. Van Flandern reports that an intriguing controversy arose before GPS was even launched. Special Relativity gave Einsteinians reason to doubt whether it would work at all. In fact, it works fine."
"At high altitude, where the GPS clocks orbit the Earth, it is known that the clocks run roughly 46,000 nanoseconds (one-billionth of a second) a day faster than at ground level, because the gravitational field is thinner 20,000 kilometers above the Earth. The orbiting clocks also pass through that field at a rate of three kilometers per second -- their orbital speed. For that reason, they tick 7,000 nanoseconds a day slower than stationary clocks. To offset these two effects, the GPS engineers reset the clock rates, slowing them down before launch by 39,000 nanoseconds a day. They then proceed to tick in orbit at the same rate as ground clocks, and the system "works." Ground observers can indeed pin-point their position to a high degree of precision."
"in Einstein's theory the relevant speed is always speed relative to the observer, it was expected that continuously varying relativistic corrections would have to be made to clock rates. This in turn would have introduced an unworkable complexity into the GPS. But these corrections were not made. Yet "the system manages to work, even though they use no relativistic corrections after launch," Van Flandern said."
www.alternativephysics.org/book/GPSmythology.htm
"The presence of Special and General Relativity effects has no bearing on the accuracy of GPS operation. In summary, it wouldn't matter whether clocks aboard GPS satellites ran faster or slower than Earth's clocks or even changed their speed each day. Just so long as the satellites' clocks remained synchronised with each other and the time-difference relative Earth's clocks didn't become too large, GPS receivers would continue to calculate their correct position."
The following articles make the claim that GPS requires General Relativity, but in error. They refer to the initial clock rate presets as being due to GR, when the reality is that these presets had to be done, theory or not, because of experimental observations.
www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast162/Unit5/gps.html
This article is cited in many articles and publications that are supportive of the theory of general relativity, inclucing wikipedia references. Yet, it is just opinion. In it, Richard W. Pogge makes these 2 claims without supporting them in the text. The references cited at the end of this article dont refer to relativity at all - they link to the GPS FAQ at the FAA.
1 "However, because the satellites are constantly moving relative to observers on the Earth, effects predicted by the Special and General theories of Relativity must be taken into account to achieve the desired 20-30 nanosecond accuracy." 2 "For example, to counteract the General Relativistic effect once on orbit, they slowed down the ticking frequency of the atomic clocks before they were launched so that once they were in their proper orbit stations their clocks would appear to tick at the correct rate as compared to the reference atomic clocks at the GPS ground stations."
Wandera asks: In an article that claims GPS as a real world example for relativity, why doesnt the author back up such important claims? The firt claim isnt even explained, and isnt backed up at all. The second claim labels the effect G Relativistic, but this is another unsupported opinion.
www.aticourses. com/global_positioning_system.htm
"The corrections that must be applied include signal propagation delays caused by the ionosphere and the troposphere, the space vehicle clock error, and the user's receiver clock error." "Other error sources and modeling errors continue to be investigated. For example, a recent modification of the Kalman filter has led to improved performance. Studies have also shown that solar radiation pressure models may need revision and there is some new evidence that the earth's magnetic field may contribute to a small orbit period variation in the satellite clock frequencies." "RELATIVITY The precision of GPS measurements is so great that it requires the application of Albert Einstein's special and general theories of relativity for the reduction of its measurements."
Wandera says: The claim about general relativity isnt true and the article makes no attempt to back up this claim. Its nothing but opinion.
Google Cars
The Self-Driving Car Conundrum | John C. Dvorak | PCMag.com
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 18:04
There's only one way car makers can survive the driverless car phenomenon: crush them before it can happen.
I've been in favor of self-driving cars since the idea's inception, despite having meetings with various experts who say an actual implementation is decades away.
I've also been confronted by car companies that are promoting networked and connected cars that are not necessarily autonomous. Some car makers cannot even decide whether the car should stop itself in an emergency'--technology that has already been implemented by some.
My favorite comment comes from Detroit, where companies like Ford argue that the self-driving car is a non-starter because "people like to drive." I guess they have not chatted much with the millennials who decidedly do not like to drive. The success of operations like Lyft and Uber would be dubious without the millennials.
The auto companies are all looking into self-driving cars, though, in case it becomes the primary direction of transportation, which is a foregone conclusion. Toyota could probably put one on the road now. All the German companies are working furiously, as is Detroit...out of fear.
What these car companies should be spending their money on is a team of lobbyists and public relations operators to stifle, forestall, or kill the self-driving car. There is no future for the automakers as we know them in a world of self-driving cars.
For one thing, it's folly to think that in a world of self-driving cars anyone would want to own a car. What would be the point when you can call up a ride and save money on gasoline and parking? Since you do not own a car in the first place, all your insurance costs, maintenance, and car payments are now zero.
But what happens to car sales when all vehicles are part of what amounts to a large ride-sharing fleet? What's the point of designing something special or unique? It will be a world of stripped-down, gray Corollas everywhere.
When I was a kid there was a car culture in this country. That is largely dead. There were drive-in movies, restaurants, and even churches. There was endless weekend "cruising," a phenomenon ended by a virtual police state and public disapproval. Most people reading this column will not even know the phenomenon existed. Go watch the film American Graffiti to get a sense of it. Here's the trailer from 1973.
The car companies must know that car culture is dead; they study it (I'd hope). I'm not sure they realize that they themselves are dead, or will be soon, unless they collectively kill the self-driving car.
I do not think they have the sense to do it.
Of course, the recent boom in car sales (via aggressive debt packages) belies my thesis and makes it laughable, despite the logic. So don't expect anyone to come to their senses anytime soon. By the time they do, it will be too late.
Luckily for the car companies, there are forces at work to derail the self-driving before it starts. The general public is only now becoming aware of the native implications of autonomous cars. Federal, state, and local governments will feel the impact the most via lost revenue. Parking fees, parking tickets, road taxes, speeding, and traffic tickets, parking lot taxes, license fees, car sales taxes'--all will be reduced or completely eliminated. In San Francisco, for example, the parking meter plus ticket revenue is estimated at $130 million.
Perhaps autonomous cars can be taxed in other ways, but the efficiency of an driverless transport model may not make up the difference.
The bigger loss is not in revenue, though, but in employment. Once autonomous vehicles become the norm, jobs are lost by the boatload and a costly burden is then put on society.
We are not ready for any of this and should not be extolling the virtues of vehicles that don't need us to drive. Even if it is inevitable.
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Previous :1M Electric Cars on the Road by the End of 2015? Not QuiteObama Just Bet Big on Self-Driving CarsNext :John Dvorak is a columnist for PCMag.com and the host of the weekly TV video podcast CrankyGeeks. His work is licensed around the world. Previously a columnist for Forbes, Forbes Digital, PC World, Barrons, MacUser, PC/Computing, Smart Business and other magazines and newspapers. Former editor and consulting editor for Infoworld. Has appeared in the New York Times, LA Times, Philadelphia Enquirer, SF Examiner, Vancouver Sun. Was on the start-up team for CNet TV as well as ZDTV. At ZDTV (and TechTV) was host of Silicon... More >>
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Six Week Cycle
FBI arrests Milwaukee man accused of planning Masonic temple attack | Fox News
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 14:55
MILWAUKEE '' A Milwaukee man faces federal charges after he allegedly purchased two machine guns from undercover agents as part of a plan to attack a Masonic temple.
Court documents show federal prosecutors charged 23-year-old Samy Mohamed Hamzeh on Tuesday with unlawfully possessing a machine gun and unlawfully receiving and possessing firearms not registered to him. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
According to an FBI affidavit, agents were tipped off in September that Hamzeh planned to travel to Israel in October to attack Israeli soldiers and citizens in the West Bank. He abandoned those plans due to "family, financial and logistic reasons," the affidavit said, but refocused his efforts on a domestic attack.
Hamzeh discussed his plans extensively with two FBI informants. The affidavit said the FBI started recording his conversations with the informants in October.
Hamzeh and the two informants traveled to a gun range on Jan. 19 and practiced with a pistol. Afterward they took a tour of a Masonic temple in Milwaukee. The affidavit does not name the temple.
Later that day and into the early morning of Jan. 20, Hamzeh discussed his plans to attack the temple with the informants, telling them they needed two more machine guns '-- the group apparently already had one '-- and silencers. They planned to station one person at the temple's entrance while the other two went through the building, killing everyone they saw. They then planned to walk away from the scene as if nothing had happened.
"I am telling you, if this hit is executed, it will be known all over the world ... all the Mujahedeen will be talking and they will be proud of us," Hamzeh said, according to the affidavit. "Such operations will increase in America, when they hear about it. The people will be scared and the operations will increase. ... This way we will be igniting it. I mean we are marching at the front of the war."
Hamzeh added that he hoped to kill 30 people. He also said his group was Muslims and they were "defending Muslim religion."
"We are here defending Islam, young people together join to defend Islam, that's it, that is what our intention is," he said.
According to the affidavit, Hamzeh met with two undercover FBI agents on Monday. They presented him with two automatic machine guns and a silencer. He paid for the weapons and silencer in cash and put them in the trunk of his car. The agents then arrested him and recovered the guns and silencer.
Hamzeh's arrest marks the Milwaukee area's second brush with a mass shooting in less than four years. A white supremacist named Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, a Milwaukee suburb, in 2012. Page shot himself in the head after a police officer wounded him.
War on Crazy
Therapists telling kids CAT Scan proves autism etc
Depression Screening | Mental Health America
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 15:07
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Task Force: Doctors should screen all adults for depression
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 15:03
Doctors should screen all adults for depression, a task force recommends.(Photo: AlexRaths, Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Primary care doctors should screen all adults for depression, an expert panel recommended Tuesday.
In its previous recommendation, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which advises the federal government on health, had recommended screening adults for depression only when mental health services were available.
In its new report, the task force said this limitation is no longer needed, because mental health services are more widely available today than in 2009, when its last recommendations were published. Federal law now requires that private insurers cover mental health and physical conditions equally.
"We're hoping that our screening guidelines are an impetus to increase awareness that depression is common, it's painful, it's costly and it's treatable," said Karina Davidson, a member of the task force and a psychologist in the department of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
The task force for the first time said screening benefits specific groups, including older adults, pregnant women and new mothers. In the past, there wasn't strong enough evidence to weigh in on whether depression screening helps or hurts these groups.
Davidson noted depression is often treated with medications, which could pose particular risks for developing fetuses or breastfeeding infants. Although research has found "potential serious fetal harms" from depression medications, the task force concluded that "the likelihood of these serious harms is low."
Newer types of antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, also have risks, the task force said. SSRIs are associated with an increase in suicidal attempts in adults ages 18 to 29, as well as an increased risk of stomach or intestinal bleeding in adults over than 70.
The task force also singled out a particular type of treatment '-- called cognitive behavior therapy '-- that has been shown to help treat depression in pregnant women and new mothers. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing negative patterns of thought.
Mental health advocates praised the task force's recommendations, published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Major depressive disorder, a severe type of depression, is the leading cause of disability in wealthy countries such as the United States, according to the task force. Nearly 7% of American adults, or about 16 million people, had at least one "major depressive episode" last year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Depression also can be life-threatening. More than 41,000 Americans commit suicide each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More Americans now die from suicide than from car accidents. About 90% of suicides are related to mental illness.
A 2015 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry estimated that depression costs the United States $210 billion a year, with 40% of those costs related directly to depression, and the rest related to indirect costs, such as lost productivity.
USA TODAY
NYC doctors group has been screening for depression for three years
"Depression is a major source of disability, so we want to be sure to take every opportunity to get people the help they need," said John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Va.
Primary care doctors, who treat patients for general needs, are in a good position to screen adults for depression, Snook said. That's because people who suffer from depression may not seek out mental health care.
USA TODAY
Mental Illness: The Cost of Not Caring
Doctors can screen for depression by asking patients to fill out short surveys, which often include just 10 questions, Davidson said.
In an accompanying editorial, psychiatrist Michael Thase wrote that primary care providers should screen people with a history of depression at every visit.
People with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, should be screened at least once a year, wrote Thase, a professor of psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. People in good health who see their doctors sporadically should be screened at every visit.
USA TODAY
Women seek progress in treating postpartum depression
Health care providers aren't obligated to follow the task force's advice.
The task force is in the midst of updating its recommendations for depression screening in children and teens. In its last update, published in 2009, the task force said doctors should screen kids ages 12 to 18 for major depressive disorder only if there were services in place to help. At that time, the task force said there wasn't enough evidence to recommend for or against depression screening in younger children.
The task force has been criticized in recent years for saying that most women don't need to get their first mammograms to detect breast cancer until age 50, instead of age 40, the age recommended by groups such as the American College of Radiology. The task force's recommendations sometimes differ from those of other medical groups.
In this case, many other groups already recommend screening patients for depression, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, which recommends screening adults, including pregnant women and new mothers. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends screening mothers for postpartum depression when they bring babies to the office for visits at the age of 1 month, 2 months and 4 months. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends screening new mothers for depression and anxiety at least once.
Screening for depression helps to bring it "out of the shadows," said Ron Honberg, national director of policy and legal affairs at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "I definitely think mental health has begun to come out of the closet over the past 10 to 20 years. But we stil have a ways to go."
USA TODAY
Depression risks increase for young dads
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VIDEO-Oregon Fire Chief Catches FBI Agents Posing as Militia '' Quits His Job in Protest | The Free Thought Project
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:14
This week, Harney County Fire Marshall Chris Briels resigned after discovering undercover FBI agents posing as militia members near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which has been the site of a standoff for weeks now. According to Briels, he found FBI agents who were impersonating militia members lurking around the town's armory. When he inquired about the undercover operation with county Judge Steve Grasty he was told to back off.
Just before this discovery was made, there were reports of people who looked like militia harassing locals, which is uncharacteristic of the protesters who initially assembled at the refuge. It turns out that these militia members suspected of harassing locals were actually undercover FBI agents.
During an impromtu press conference, Briels explained how he was so disrespected in his encounter with Grasty and was so disgusted with the situation in general, that he no longer wants to work for a government that he does not believe in. Briels added that he would still be helping people in the community with fire prevention and other issues that he has helped with in the past, but he will just no longer be doing it as a government employee. Briels went on to describe how he exposed undercover FBI agents who had come to town and were creating problems amongst the locals.
When announcing his resignation, Briels described his encounter with the judge.
''I've been told by Steve to distance myself from this committee of public safety. I've been told that we don't know what we're doing. I've been told that my life is in danger. I've been told all kinds of things. I will not be told what to do. I have my own mind, and I will use my own mind, not somebody else's,'' Briels said.
Many activists and militia members are now suspecting that the undercover agents were planning to act as agent provocateurs and create trouble in order to frame the protesters for things that they did not do. This theory is supported by the fact these undercover agents were reportedly bothering locals and acting in a threatening manner.
However, mainstream media has reported that militia members were harassing locals, but now that version of events is being brought into question considering the fact that undercover agents were posing as militia. The looming threat of agent provocateurs may be one of the reasons why the refuge occupiers are turning away help from outside militias who have attempted to join the occupation.
As the situation at the refuge becomes increasingly volatile, leaders of the occupation have announced that they will soon be making plans to disperse, but they have not yet said when this will happen. Meanwhile, the FBI has said that they will be filing federal charges against the militia members that they have found evidence on throughout the occupation.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com.
VIDEO-Oregon Sheriff Seems Upset About FBI Killing Unarmed LaVoy Finicum During Press Conf - YouTube
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:04
VIDEO-Al Jazeera Reporting LaVoy Finicum "Charged At" The FBI When He Was Shot - YouTube
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 14:59
VIDEO-Woman In Car With LaVoy Vinicum When FBI Murdered Him Describes TERRIFYING Scene (Unconfirmed) - YouTube
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 14:55
VIDEO-Chris Matthews Thanks Pro-Trump Coulter For Coming On to Bash Network Rival Fox: 'We Like It!' | MRCTV
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 14:30
Read more at NewsBusters | "Politics makes strange bedfellows" goes the old saying. In that case, Chris Matthews and Ann Coulter snuggled up under the sheets on tonight's Hardball. After a six-minute roll in the hay '' Chris, you stallion! '' Matthews thanked Coulter for being on her "best behavior" and gushed that she should come back on air sometime soon.
VIDEO-Former Wounded Warrior employees accuse charity of wasting millions - YouTube
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 07:24
VIDEO-Ash Carter: 'I Think the Turks can do More to Fight ISIL' | MRCTV
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 06:36
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Ash Carter on Anti-ISIL Coalition: 'Many' Members 'Not Doing Enough or Doing Nothing at All'See More at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/ash-carter-anti-isil-coalition-many-members-not-doing-enough-or-doing
View the discussion thread.
VIDEO-CNN's Cuomo to Beck: You 'Reap What You Sow' with Trump's Rise by Touting Anger Against Obama | MRCTV
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 06:17
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
Hours before moderating CNN's Democratic presidential townhall on Monday, New Day co-host Chris Cuomo spoke with conservative radio talk show host/Ted Cruz supporter Glenn Beck and suggested to Beck that his firm opposition to President Obama and big government has laid the groundwork for the rise of Donald Trump.
Before Cuomo interjected with this proposition, Beck provided his analysis of how he's consistently called out individuals he found to be progressives on both sides and why he believes Trump is dangerous: ''[W]hen you have a guy who is angry and then has an enemy's list and starts just to take people down over and over and over again, if you disagree with him, he destroys you. That - that - if that's the mood of the country, we're in more trouble than I thought.''
VIDEO-Networks Continue Spotlighting Indictment of Pro-Life Video Producers | MRCTV
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 05:44
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning newscasts on 26 January 2016 all reported on a Texas grand jury's indictment of David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the pro-life Center for Medical Progress on the felony charge of tampering with a government record. At the same time, the panel cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing related to the organization's hidden camera footage, which uncovered the possible sale of the organs and tissue of aborted babies. ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today both devoted news briefs to the indictments. CBS This Morning also aired a full segment on the news.
VIDEO-ABC, NBC Ignore 'Dangerous Precedent' To Journalism by Pro-Life Indictment | MRCTV
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 05:17
Undercover journalists from both sides of the political spectrum could be severely limited by a Texas grand jury indictment against pro-life activists. The charges are so sweeping that they could affect the entire journalism industry, everything from the network news to environmental activists.
Yet, out of the three broadcast evening news shows, only CBS Evening News has noticed the ''dangerous precedent'' that this indictment could have for journalism. NBC Nightly News devoted 70 seconds to the ruling, but failed to mentioned any negative consequences for the industry.
VIDEO-Mitchell and Matthews Fear Dem 'Chaos' if Sanders Wins | MRCTV
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 05:14
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
On her MSNBC show on Wednesday, host Andrea Mitchell fretted over the possibility of Bernie Sanders winning Democratic contests in Iowa and New Hampshire: ''And after two primary victories, you're gonna see chaos on the Democratic side, you're gonna see Uncle Joe Biden saying, 'Well, maybe I should get back in.' You're gonna see a lot of stuff.''
Hardball host Chris Matthews '' on to promote his latest interview with Hillary Clinton '' strategized over how Clinton could defeat Sanders: ''Well, you know, there's one firewall we haven't talked about, and I don't know how you erect that firewall. It's women. And I asked Secretary Clinton '' and you know her very well '' and I said to her, 'Does it surprise you or disturb you that a lot of young women don't realize what you've been through?'''
VIDEO-Liberal ABC, NBC Foment Praise for 'Renegade,' 'Shrewd' Trump 'Eviscerating' Megyn Kelly, FNC | MRCTV
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 04:55
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
On Wednesday night, the ''big three'' networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted 10 minutes and 43 seconds over four segments on their evening newscasts to 2016 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's decision to boycott Thursday's Fox News Channel (FNC) debate and, in that coverage, ABC and NBC hailed Trump as a ''renegade'' making ''a very shrewd move'' by ''eviscerating'' moderator Megyn Kelly and FNC.
ABC's World News Tonight led with a four-minute-and-19-second report from Republican campaign correspondent Tom Llamas boasting that the billionaire was ''in full renegade mode'' when he ruled the night before that ''without him, no one will watch tomorrow's debate on Fox News.''
VIDEO-Stephen Colbert Gets Donald Rumsfeld To Admit The Iraq War Was All A Lie (VIDEO)
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 17:31
Donald Rumsfeld is in full damage control mode after a declassified memo from 2002 making the rounds revealed that he lied about Iraq's ''WMDs.'' Like anyone desperate to sway public opinion and keep himself out of jail, Rumsfeld is giving interviews to tell ''his side.'' Why he decided to go The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is unclear. Colbert is a screaming liberal, very smart and very well-informed. Perhaps Rumsfeld thought he could outmaneuver the comedian? Maybe he thought Colbert would go easy on him? Maybe Rumsfeld is suffering from dementia?
Needless to say, the interview did not go well for Rumsfeld:
The talk show host said this showed Bush administration officials believed there were weapons of mass destruction '-- but they had no hard evidence of their existence.
''I believe that sincerely '-- I don't think anybody made up the belief that there were weapons of mass destruction,'' Colbert said, as Rumsfeld insisted those beliefs were sincere. ''That is cynicism beyond what I would ever want to think of my government.''
''I believe that everybody believed that they were there, but there was no hard proof that they were there,'' he continued. ''And yet it was presented to the American people as if there was. So there was an unknown known for the American people. It was known that there was not hard evidence, but we were presented a partial picture '-- and that's the unknown known that we were denied. Do you think that was the right thing to do?''
In this, Colbert is far nicer than I would have been. We already know that Bush and his neo-con administration wanted an excuse to invade Iraq. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Bush demanded that the intelligence community ''find'' a connection between Iraq and the attacks. When they couldn't find a connection, one was manufactured for the sole purpose of selling the American people on the war. In this ''known known'' context, it takes very little to imagine Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld fabricating their ''belief'' in WMDs from whole cloth.
But the best moment came when Colbert got Rumsfeld to admit, out loud, that the utter certainty about WMDs that we were sold was, in fact, total bullshit:
''Were there things that the administration or you knew that we didn't learn about out of the best possible intentions '-- which is, there were things that would undermine the case for a war you thought was necessary to save the United States,'' Colbert said.
At last, Rumsfeld delivered a straight answer.
''The president had available to him intelligence from all elements of the government, and the National Security Council members had that information,'' Rumsfeld said. ''It was all shared, it was all supplied, and it's never certain'-- if it were a fact, it wouldn't be called intelligence.''
Translation into non-weasel speak: We lied when we said we ''knew'' for a fact that the WMDs existed.
If you'll recall, the made up connection to 9/11 and WMDs were the entire basis for the Iraq War and Rumsfeld just admitted they lied about them.
For the revisionists out there, a quick history lesson. Rumsfeld didn't say he ''thought'' Iraq had WMDs. Or that we were pretty sure or even very confident. He didn't equivocate in the slightest. He said we knew where they were.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven't found any weapons of mass destruction?
SEC. RUMSFELD: '...We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
-ABC's This Week, 3/30/03
If the American people had been told that our intelligence on WMDs was as shaky as it actually was, no one but the most bloodthirsty among us would have supported it. Americans are more than happy to bomb people that attack us or a friend, but preemptive war is not, and has never been, a part of our DNA. Rumsfeld and his co-conspirators knew this so they lied through their teeth. It took a comedian to finally get one of the blood-soaked architects of America's worst war since Vietnam to admit it.
Bravo, Mr. Colbert! Bravo!
Here's the amazing video:
Featured image via screencap.
VIDEO-Leonardo DiCaprio took private jet roundtrip SIX times in SIX weeks, Sony hack reveals | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 17:15
He's a high profile advocate of environmental causes, believes the world must act now to combat the effects of global climate change and is producing documentaries about endangered species.
But accusations of hypocrisy have also dogged Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio, 40, with detractors accusing him of not practicing what he preaches.
Now with RadarOnline reporting Friday that he took six private jet flights in just six weeks last year, it may prove hard for the actor to justify the need to avail himself of more than $200,000 worth of private travel between LA and New York in such a short period of time.
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Traveling in style: Leonardo DiCaprio has been an advocate for environmental preservation while continuing to fly around the world in private planes. The actor is seen here disembarking from a private jet in Paris in 2009
Wikileaks published the complete Sony leak including a searchable database for the 173,132 emails and 30,287 separate documents taken from the studio's servers last November.
It's been claimed the hack was a warning to the studio not to release the film The Interview, about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
RadarOnline said that several documents relating to Sony corporate travel records show the Titanic and Wolf Of Wall Street star took six private roundtrip private jet flights during April and May 2014.
Each time the studio picked up the cost of the plane as well as catering and car service at the departure and arrival destinations.
Work related: DiCaprio, seen here arriving by private plane for the Cannes Film Festival in May 2014, accompanied by his mother Irmelin, made the trips for film meetings that had to be done face to face
The day before Wikileaks published the collection of hacked documents, DiCaprio tweeted that the fourth and final video that he narrated for the Green World Rising website is now online.
Green World Rising is funded through the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and one of the things it suggests visitors to the website do is 'Lighten your carbon load.'
There's even a handy carbon calculator so people can see just how much their way of life is impacting the planet and therefore can take 'meaningful action' to reduce their carbon footprint, at home, at work and at school.
Grren advocate: The star of Gangs Of New York tweeted Thursday that a fourth short film produced by his foundation is available at Greenworldrising. org, a website that urges people to reduce their carbon footprint
Fly with me: The playboy actor, 40, took then-girlfriend model Toni Garrn along with him on some of the work trips, listed in the hacked Sony documents, that were paid for by the studio
According to the documents listed on the Sony hack database, 0n April 17, 2014, DiCaprio flew from Los Angeles to New York at a cost of $63,000 for a filmmaker's meeting that, it was noted, could only be done in person.
His then-girlfriend Toni Garrn was listed as accompanying him on the private jet..
On April 27, they flew back to Los Angeles at a cost of $63,000, plus $3,000 in catering and $300 in car service on each end.
On that trip and other work trips paid for by Sony, DiCaprio was also accompanied by male friends who were members of his infamous 'pussy posse' in the late 1990s.
They included actors Lukas Haas, Scott Bloom and Vincent Laresca,
Posse on board: DiCaprio has also taken his best friends like actor Lukas Haas, seen here with the star in 2013, along on the private jet rides, the Wikileaks searchable database has revealed
Just six days after returning from New York, DiCaprio was back on board a private jet heading back to the Big Apple for another meeting at a cost of $37,306.60, plus $1,506.60 in catering and $800 in car service.
He flew back to Los Angeles on May 31, according to the documents, at a cost of $55,000. His mother Irmelin DiCaprio was also listed as being expected to travel with him..
Travel records also state that he was then booked on a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. He stayed in Sin City for just eight hours before flying home again. The projected cost of that round-trip flight was $12,000.
Ironically, four months later, the actor was back in New York to accept a Clinton Global Citizen Award for his environmental preservation efforts.
In his acceptance speech, DiCaprio stressed that more needed to be done.
'Now what does that say about us that we care so deeply about growing our own economy and yet do so little to protect our only home?' he said at the event on September 22, 2014.
DailyMail.com reached out to DiCaprio's people regarding the latest revelations but so far there's been no public comment from the star or his representatives.
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Honored: The 40-year-old celebrity has been praised for his efforts to combat climate change and save the planet's natural environments. He was given a Clinton Global Citizen Award in September 2014 in New York
Mom comes too: In addition to girlfriends and male pals, DiCaprio has also taken his mom Irmelin with him on his private plane travels
VIDEO-Oregon Occupation Leaders Arrested, One Dead in Shooting - NBC News
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 17:12
Top: Brian Cavalier, Ammon Edward Bundy, Joseph O'Shaughnessy, Peter Santilli | Bottom: Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne, Shawna Cox, Jon Ritzheimer MCSO | AFP - Getty Images
"Right now '... I'm talking to other leadership. It's just Americans that are defending the constitution that's what it looks like," he said.
"Peaceful resolution is what you keep hearing and a peaceful resolution is what we expect," he added.
Later, a Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter at the scene said the remaining occupiers had pledged to stay.
Four carloads of occupiers left early Wednesday, and Patrick said children at the scene had gone. Meanwhile, police and FBI officers established a series of checkpoints along key routes leading to the site.
The Bundys and others had been scheduled to meet authorities in the town of John Day, 70 miles north of Burns at 6 p.m. (9 p.m. ET).
The arrests took place on Highway 395, which links Burns and John Day. Shots were fired at about 4:25 p.m. (7:25 p.m. ET), the FBI said.
"Peaceful people were going to meet with other Americans regarding the constitution and a routine traffic stop winds up with one of my friends dead and another one shot," Patrick said.
Related:
What Is the Occupation in Oregon Really All About?Three others were arrested at the scene, authorities said: Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada; Shawna Cox, 59, of Kanab, Utah; and Ryan Waylen Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana.
Two more '-- Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy, 45, of Cottonwood, Arizona, and Peter Santilli, 50, of Cincinnati '-- were arrested later in separate but related incidents, the FBI said.
All face federal felony charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats, authorities said.
Santilli is well known locally as a webcaster and activist who has vigorously supported the Bundys. He was live-streaming the initial confrontation when his feed went down late Tuesday afternoon.
Later, another member of the group, Jon Eric Ritzheimer, 32, turned himself in at the Peoria, Arizona, Police Department, the FBI said.
The Bundys are sons of
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.Cox's husband, Donald, told NBC News on Tuesday night that his wife '-- who'd been planning to return home that day to Utah '-- "isn't a member of anything but felt like the cause was good."
Shawna Cox, a mother of 12 and grandmother of 43, has been friends with the Bundy family for about 15 years, Donald Cox said.
"She's a cowgirl," he said. "She's a patriot. This is all about her constitutional rights."
VIDEO-Milwaukee plot: Man planned mass shooting, FBI says - CNN.com
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 17:10
Samy Mohamed Hamzeh was arrested Monday after buying two automatic weapons and a silencer from undercover agents, the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin said in a statement.
The investigation thwarted an attack "that could have resulted in significant injury and/or loss of life," FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Shields said in a statement announcing the arrest.
It was not immediately clear whether Hamzeh has retained legal representation.
A criminal complaint released by prosecutors alleges that Hamzeh toured a Masonic center in Milwaukee this month with two FBI informants and then detailed plans for an attack in a meeting with them later that night.
Hamzeh allegedly said he was defending Islam and that he hoped to kill at least 30 people, according to the complaint.
The complaint contains chilling excerpts of comments allegedly made by Hamzeh, captured in a recording and translated from Arabic into English.
"If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100% ...100% happy, because these 30 will terrify the world," he said at one point, according to the complaint.
At another point in the conversation, Hamzeh allegedly discussed the roles he and other attackers would play.
"One of us will stay at the door at the entrance and lock the door down, he will be at the main door down, two will get to the lift up, they will enter the room, and spray everyone in the room. The one who is standing downstairs will spray anyone he finds. We will shoot them, kill them and get out," Hamzeh said, according to the complaint.
"We will walk and walk, after a while, we will be covered as if it is cold, and we'll take the covers off and dump them in a corner and keep on walking, as if nothing happened, as if everything is normal."
Hamzeh attended Milwaukee Area Technical College from fall 2011 through last spring, school spokeswoman Kathleen Hohl told CNN.
FBI agents had been investigating him since September after a source reported he was planning to conduct an attack on Israelis in the West Bank, according to the complaint.
"Hamzeh abandoned these plans for family, financial, and logistic reasons. Thereafter, Hamzeh refocused his plans on an attack in the United States," the complaint alleges.
The FBI began monitoring and recording Hamzeh's conversations with the informants in October, according to the complaint.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he learned of Hamzeh's arrest from the U.S. prosecutor in the case.
"He made it clear to me that this was a serious issue. This was something that was not a casual conversation with me," the mayor said. "I got the sense that this was a real threat."
Barrett praised federal authorities for acting quickly and decisively.
"This is a situation where people should sit up, take notice, be thankful," he said.
CNN's Dave Alsup and AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this report.
VIDEO-Danny DeVito and Don Cheadle wade into the Oscar's race row | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 12:19
Actor Danny DeVito is the latest to weigh in on the lack of diversity at the Oscar's, saying it's not the award show that's to blame.
DeVito said that Americans 'are a bunch of racists', according to People.com.
'It's unfortunate that the entire country is a racist country,' Danny told the AP at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
Oscar's opinion: 'It's unfortunate that the entire country is a racist country,' Danny told the AP at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Don Cheadle also weighed in and said that the Oscar's is just a symptom of a larger problem
'So this is one example of the fact that even though people were giving great performances in movies, they weren't even thought about. We are living in a country that discriminates and has certain racist tendencies,' he said.
'So sometimes it manifests itself in something like this, and it's illuminated. But just, generally speaking, we're a bunch of racists,' he added.
Don Cheadle was also interviewed about his take on racism in Hollywood and this year's coveted award show.
'Again, this is dealing with the symptom, not starting at the root cause,' Cheadle told the Associated Press.
Actor Sam Neil also spoke and said that he was utterly socked by the lack of nomination for black talent.
'I mean I'm baffled by it, I would have thought that Idris Elba and Sam Jackson would have been a shoo-in for a nomination,' he said.
Idris Elba acted in the film Beasts of No Nation and Samuel Jackson acted in the Hateful Eight.
This year's Oscar's has been under fire for its lack of black artists nominated for awards. Celebrities like Spike Lee Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have decided to boycott the Oscar's due to its lack of diversity with Spike Lee saying he'll be watching the Knicks game instead.
Opinions: Danny Devito and Don Cheadle, both pictured at the Sundance Film Festival, said they think the race problem is a national issue and not just a problem at the Oscar's
VIDEO-Iowa Democratic Presidential Town Hall Forum by CNN 01-25-2016 - YouTube
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 12:08
VIDEO-Iowa student slips up, denies CNN planted his question for Hillary Clinton (Video) '-- RT USA
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 11:52
An Iowa student's question to Hillary Clinton sparked speculations that CNN planted questions during presidential town hall. Now the student says that the question was his, but the network chose the candidate.
Brett Rosengren, a student described by CNN's Chris Cuomo as an undecided voter, asked Hillary Clinton, ''Which previous president inspired you the most and why?''
However, he didn't make it through without stumbling along the way...
Rosengren first made a Freudian slip of sorts, stopping up short after calling Clinton ''Secretary Sanders.''
He recovered to ask the question, but not before blurting out, ''I can see why they gave you this question.''
This immediately got the Twitter commentators going:
Even a Fox News contributor took the opportunity to call out CNN.
Rosengren explained afterwards that he hadn't been provided with the question, but was instructed by CNN to direct it to Clinton rather than the other two candidates.''It was my own question that I had submitted on Saturday night and directed towards any candidate,'' Rosengren told US Uncut. ''They chose that candidate to be Clinton.''This is not the first time the words ''Iowa,''''Hillary Clinton,'' and ''plant'' have appeared in the same headline, however.
In 2008, Iowa student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff revealed that she had been given a question to pose to then-Senator Hillary Clinton at a televised town hall event. The student wanted to ask Clinton to compare her energy plan to that of other candidates, but was told to ask another that did not involve discussing the plans of the other candidates.
A statement was issued later by Clinton's campaign team saying: ''On this occasion a member of our staff did discuss a possible question about Senator Clinton's energy plan at a forum. ... This is not standard policy and will not be repeated again.''
A video of Gallo-Chasanoff being asked about the incident in a CNN interview has resurfaced recently.
VIDEO-Why I'm voting for Trump - CNNPolitics.com
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 11:27
And Trump is thriving, tapping into the fears and anxieties that have erupted into the open in an extraordinary presidential campaign.
The voters pledging their allegiance to the Republican front-runner hail from all corners of the country. They work on farms, in nursing homes and run small businesses; they've voted for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and participated in the tea party movement; they are high school students who will vote for the first time this November and retirees and veterans who came of age during World War II.
In Trump, these people see the next president of the United States.
His attitude, one voter said, is that he "seems to just not give a f---." Trump's nativist rhetoric and hardline immigration stance is a relief for those who see a segment of the population "getting away" with breaking the law. Post-San Bernardino, the candidate's promise to "bomb the sh-- out of ISIS" exudes an uncomplicated confidence rare in other politicians. His accomplishments in the business world offer reassurance that he'll "put the economy back where it belongs."
Perhaps most important is Trump's imperviousness to the typical boundaries around race. He has made provocative remarks on the subject since the earliest days of his campaign -- and his supporters are listening. They are rowdy, and at times, even violent. On more than one occasion, they've accosted protesters, lobbing racial slurs and physical abuse.
The following story attempts to capture the remarkable Trump phenomenon -- and the anti-establishment anger, and the racial and economic fears beneath it -- through the people who have flocked to Trump rallies since last summer. The voices were chosen from more than 150 people -- including supporters and opponents of Trump -- that CNN reporters interviewed in 31 cities across the country over the past few months and asked about some of the candidate's more controversial statements.
These interviews provide a snapshot of a political movement unprecedented in modern politics. They reflect some of the loudest and most passionate defenders of Trump, a candidate who has said he has such deep loyalty among his supporters that he could "stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." Many people CNN interviewed were not turned off by Trump's provocative remarks '-- but inclined to agree with his statements and his unvarnished approach to self-expression. There is no getting around the impression that for some, racial attitudes are fueling their support.
But there are also other factors feeding the enthusiasm: the belief that Americans are unsafe, and he will protect them; an appreciation for the simple good vs. evil worldview he presents; an admiration of his celebrity status and business background. And, above all, a faith that he will restore an America they feel has been lost to them, and dream of experiencing again.
Why can't they follow the rules?There's widespread anger that too many immigrants are simply "getting away" with not playing by the rules at the expense of hard-working white Americans. Why do some people not pay taxes? Not have jobs? Come into the country illegally?
On October 21, a line had begun to form outside the Burlington Memorial Auditorium in southeast Iowa by mid-afternoon. Trump, at the time topping national and Iowa polls, was scheduled to speak at 6 p.m.
One of the people waiting in line -- a woman in her 30s named Norma Sweet -- stood out. She appeared to be the only non-white person waiting for Trump.
Sweet was there with her husband, Terry Sweet, who is more than 30 years her senior. They said Norma came to the country 13 years ago from the Philippines and that she has been a citizen for 8 years. Speaking with a CNN reporter, Terry proudly pointed to his wife as an example of immigration done "correctly."
"It's not fair to her to let the illegals stay here. She does everything right. She works, she pays taxes, she votes," he said.
The couple said they both planned to vote for Trump.
This sentiment -- that too many immigrants are bending the rules and even have a leg up on American-born citizens -- is widespread among Trump supporters, despite laws that bar illegal immigrants from receiving benefits such as welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. These individuals have drawn comfort from Trump's hardline immigration stance and his vow to create a system in which "no one is above the law."
A November CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation survey captured the white frustration around race that Trump is tapping into. A majority of whites have a fundamentally different view of whether the federal government should ensure income equality between whites and minorities: 57% of whites said this was not the government's burden, but a majority of African-Americans (67%) and Hispanics (63%) said it was.
Paul Weber of Appleton, Iowa, describing himself as "kind of a redneck" at an October Trump rally in Waterloo, said he was tired of the so-called "new Americans" flooding the country.
"The people that are coming in here from China, Indonesia and all of them countries, they're getting pregnant and coming here and having babies," Weber said, telling an Asian reporter that he meant no offense. "They get everything and the people that were born here can't get everything."
A woman named Deena from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, attending a Trump rally there in late November made the following analogy about illegal immigration.
"I come home and someone's occupying my house and they're eating my food and then they're taking the kids from my bed; they're taking the money out of my pocket," said Deena, who said she was still undecided on Trump. "Why should we have to support someone else and then make our kids suffer, our families suffer?"
But some of these same individuals are also quick to emphasize that their deep concerns about illegal immigration don't necessarily make them anti-immigrant.
Sherry Schnell, a "big fan" of Trump even before he decided to run for president, said she was in favor of both a wall along the Mexico border and more immigrants.
"If we have them all come in, they've all been inspected and they've all gone through the rules and regulations to become a citizen, I want more," Schnell said at a Trump rally in Sarasota. "The more the merrier."
A divisive PresidentThere is a very palpable anger at President Obama. Many Trump supporters say he can't be trusted, he cares more about the welfare of black people than whites and he's inflamed racial divisions in the country. Others say they're convinced that he's Muslim.
Long before the wall along the Mexico border and a Muslim "ban," Trump was fixated on another controversial issue: Obama's birthplace.
For years, the real-estate developer has publicly questioned whether Obama was in fact born in Hawaii, and in turn, his eligibility to be president. Though he has shown little interest in reviving that theory as a presidential candidate, Trump is now aiming that skepticism at one of his rivals, Ted Cruz, alleging that because the Texas senator was born in Canada, he may not be eligible to run for president.
For many Trump fans, the candidate's once prominent role in the so-called Obama "birther" movement has left a lasting impression.
The skeptics, dispersed throughout Trump rallies, have serious misgivings about the President's U.S. citizenship and Christian faith more than four years after Obama publicly released his birth certificate.
"Islam is traced patrilineally. I am a Muslim if my father is Muslim. In that sense, it is undeniable that Barack Obama was born a Muslim," Michael Rooney said at a Trump event in Worcester, Massachusetts, in November. (Obama is a Christian. He has said his father was born a Muslim and later became an atheist.)
Rooney, a respiratory therapist in his late 40s, likened Obama's Christian faith to Bruce Jenner's recent gender reassignment: "It is true that he now identifies as a Christian in the same sense that Bruce Jenner identifies as a woman."
At another rally in Manassas, Virginia, on December 2, Robin Reif, 54, yelled into the crowd that the President was from Kenya. He told CNN afterward that Obama was "too much of a Muslim" and an "Islamist sympathizer."
"In our Constitution, it says that the president has to be an American citizen," Reif said. "I'm still wondering where is he really from. What is this man's background?"
The widespread distrust of the President has to do with much more than just his birthplace or religion.
If the President's supporters view his 2008 election as an historic moment that helped break down a racial barrier, others blame the country's first African-American President for deepening racial tensions.
Said George Ziegler, a Trump supporter attending a Columbus, Ohio, rally on November 23: "Obama was supposed to bring us together. Instead, he's divided us."
The silent majority: 'No one's looking out for the white guy anymore'Energizing the Trump movement are voters who call themselves the "silent majority." These individuals feel strongly that white people, too, face discrimination in this country, and that they are often wrongly accused of being racist. This is stirring anger at the Black Lives Movement.
Fueled by a series of deadly police shootings perpetrated by white officers against blacks, the Black Lives Matter movement has become a powerful symbol of the racial tensions that run deep in the United States.
Angry protesters spilled onto the streets of Baltimore, Ferguson and Chicago, determined to have their voices heard. More than five decades after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and well into Obama's second term, racial discrimination against African-Americans may have become less overt but is still very much a reality, the activists pleaded.
At Trump's campaign rallies, a similar frustration is palpable -- among white voters.
Taking their cue from Trump, these individuals are calling themselves the "silent majority." Some say they suffer from "reverse discrimination."
Rhett Benhoff, a middle-aged white man at a December Trump campaign event in Raleigh, North Carolina, said discrimination against whites is "absolutely" real.
"I mean, it seems like we really go overboard to make sure all these other nationalities nowadays and colors have their fair shake of it, but no one's looking out for the white guy anymore," he said.
Among Trump supporters, suspicion and anger toward the Black Lives Matter movement run deep. These people say the group's name and slogan seem to convey that black lives are more important than white lives.
"I think it's bulls---," said Ziegler, the 61-year-old diehard Trump fan who attended his Columbus, Ohio, rally. "All lives matter. You know this is bulls---- about black lives matter -- doesn't all lives matter?"
It's the last word in Trump's now-ubiquitous campaign slogan -- "Make America Great Again" -- that seems to have touched a nerve. Recent polls show that white people increasingly feel that the American Dream is out of reach, and a sizable group of white Americans feel they are subjected to racial discrimination -- a perception of the white experience shared by few minorities.
Almost half of whites -- 47% -- said in a November CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation survey that there is discrimination against whites, far more than the share of blacks and Hispanics who said the same.
And just over half of whites said they did not support the Black Lives Matter movement. Whereas 86% of blacks said the justice system was tilted toward white people, only 48% of whites said the same.
At the Trump rally in Myrtle Beach, where signs that read "silent majority" dotted the crowd, Patricia Saunders told CNN that Trump is speaking directly to a segment of the population that feels left behind and marginalized.
"White Americans founded this country," said Saunders, 64. "We are being pushed aside because of the President's administration and the media."
A country under attackMany Americans are deeply frightened by the recent spate of terrorist attacks around the world and wonder whether Obama is doing enough to keep the country safe. Trump's explosive proposals to increase surveillance of mosques, keep a database of Muslim-Americans and enforce a temporary "ban" on Muslims entering the country have energized his supporters.
Brothers Ernie Martin and Lee Walter from Cresco, Iowa, were among a group of zealous Trump fans at the front of the line outside a Trump rally in Des Moines on December 11. They had waited more than seven hours to see the candidate in person.
"Hey, hey. Ho, ho. All the Muslims have to go!" Walter, a 64-year-old retired factory worker, began to chant.
Just days before, Trump -- who had already said he would implement a national database to register Muslims in the United States -- had put out a startling press release: a call for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
The proposal marked one of the most striking examples of Trump's penchant for forceful national security rhetoric and came on the heels of two deadly events that shifted the course of the 2016 race: the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people in November, followed by a shooting in San Bernardino, California, a few weeks later that left 14 people dead.
It drew swift and widespread condemnation, including from some of Trump's fellow GOP rivals and the Muslim-American community.
But at Trump rallies, the proposal resonated in a different way.
Just hours after Trump made the controversial announcement, his supporters -- waiting to hear him speak in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, said they were fully on board.
"I don't want them here," Ed Campbell said. "Who knows what they're going to bring into this country?"
The mass shooting in San Bernardino marked a turning point -- the first real evidence that ISIS could also kill on American soil. Trump seized on deep-seated fears about the country coming under siege, labeling himself the "most military person there is" and vowing to "bomb the sh'--out of ISIS."
Bickie Mason, a contractor from Lyman, South Carolina, who attended Trump's Spartanburg rally in November, said he felt he didn't have a choice but to agree with Trump's idea of tracking Muslim-Americans through a national database.
"I don't believe all Muslims are bad. But anybody can turn bad, and you've got to be able to locate them and know where they're at," said Mason, 64.
Trump's Muslim ban has unleashed more visceral reactions, including unambiguously hostile views toward Islam.
His supporters across the country -- from Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina -- told CNN in interviews they simply believe Islam is not a peaceful religion.
"Islam is not a religion. It's a violent blood cult. OK?" said Hoyt Wood, a 68-year-old military veteran waiting to hear Trump speak aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. "All they know is violence, that's all they know."
At the same rally, 55-year-old Susan Kemmelin said, "We can't look at a Muslim and tell if they're a terrorist or friendly."
Robert Engelkes, a 45-year-old corn and soybean farmer from Dike, Iowa, pointed out that there is historical precedent for targeting one group.
"What did we do in World War II? We put all the Japanese in internment camps," said Engelkes, who was standing outside a Trump event in Des Moines. "We had to do something with them."
Donald Trump: A candidate like we've never seen beforeTrump has mesmerized voters. People say they have never seen a presidential candidate like Trump: He's unfiltered; he's anti-establishment; he exudes confidence and strength; he's not a politician.
If anything has been more surprising than Trump's endurance this election cycle, it's the seemingly fierce loyalty of his supporters.
It began in June with just a few hundred people crammed into the shiny lobby of Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, there to witness Trump finally confirm the rumors -- he was indeed running for president.
When he hit the campaign trail, the crowds quickly swelled.
Thousands were soon turning up at school gymnasiums, auditoriums and local event halls to see Trump in person, forming long, winding lines that often spilled into overflow rooms. In the first weeks and months of Trump's campaign, plenty of attendees admitted they were there to catch a glimpse of the former host of the "The Apprentice" -- maybe even shake hands with the TV star.
But as the 69-year-old New Yorker rose to the top of the GOP pack, voters -- along with many in the media who had assumed the Trump campaign would be short-lived --started to reassess the unlikely presidential candidate.
Trump's colorful off-the-cuff speeches and forceful message on immigration and national security were reverberating. The curious, star-struck observers increasingly gave way to fans eager to pledge their support to the political newcomer.
Nicomi Kloempken, a Trump supporter at a Raleigh, North Carolina, campaign event in early December, put it bluntly: "He seems to just not give a f---, you know what I mean?"
That attitude would propel Trump from one controversy to the next, starting on Day One.
Rather than turn supporters off, each inflammatory statement only seemed to reinforce Trump's novelty and appeal.
Curt Handschug, an independent voter from Columbus, Ohio, who voted for Barack Obama in 2012, said he believes 2016 is the year of "Donald Trump or nobody." Trump's willingness to speak the truth, he said, set him apart from politicians.
"Sometimes he'll say things, and I'll go, 'Oh gosh, seriously?' But at least he's willing to say it," Handschug said at a Trump rally in November. "All these politicians are afraid to tell the truth."
And next to a GOP field crowded with governors, senators and ex-politicians, Trump's successful business career is a refreshing contrast.
"I like him because he's a businessman. He does what he says he's going to do. I've seen him lose a ton of money and bounce back," said Trump supporter Linda Wilkerson at a Raleigh campaign event. "We're in terrible financial debt. I hope he can bail us out."
Trump took the lead as the candidate most trusted to handle the economy last summer, and continues to dominate the field on the issue. According to the latest CNN/ORC polling, 57% of Republican voters nationally say they trust Trump over the rest of the field on the economy. In Iowa, he holds nearly a 40-point lead over Cruz as more trusted to handle the economy, 54% to 16%, and in New Hampshire, a CNN/WMUR poll finds 48% say they trust Trump most, while no other candidate tops 7%.
If Trump goes all the way to the general election, he would be the first businessman who has never held public office to win the GOP nomination since Wendell Willkie in 1940.
"With his background, he's going to put the economy back where it belongs," said Jamie Peckham, another Trump fan at the same Raleigh event.
Trump is also attracting a small but enthusiastic contingent of teenagers.
Turner Eakins and two of his friends from Millard North High School, drove from Omaha, Nebraska, to a Trump rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, at the end of December. Marveling at the candidate's authenticity and disregard for political correctness, the three teens told CNN they all plan to cast their first votes for Trump this year.
"Politics is supposed to be boring," said Eakins, who will turn 18 by primary day. "So when three 18-year-old kids are driving out 30 minutes to go to a Trump rally, I mean -- that's a movement."
The protestersWho are they? Why are they so upset with Trump? How does Trump's rhetoric about minorities in the U.S. make them feel? And why have recent protests become increasingly ugly and even violent?
Trump was in the middle of boasting about his latest poll numbers. "We're winning all over the country," he boomed at a November campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama.
Then he noticed the commotion on the floor of the packed convention hall -- another protester was trying to interrupt his speech. "Get 'em the hell out of here," Trump said, waving his hand dismissively.
This outburst would turn out to be a little different from other protests at Trump rallies because a CNN reporter was filming the crowd's violent reaction to the protester. The grainy cell phone footage showed angry Trump fans pushing, kicking and jeering at the man, who at one point was lying on the ground.
The 31-year-old Black Lives Matter activist, Mercutio Southall, told CNN afterwards that the people around him had called him "monkey" and the N-word.
"I got punched in the face, I got punched in the neck. I got kicked in the chest. Kicked in the stomach. Somebody stepped on my hand," he said.
While the Birmingham incident marked one of the first times that a physical altercation was captured on camera and widely viewed, it was hardly the first time that this kind of raw anger had boiled over at a Trump rally, pitting protesters against Trump fans.
On October 10, two Asian female high school students took off their tops at a Trump rally in Norcross, Georgia, revealing writing on their bare chest and stomach: "LEGAL IMMIGRANT"; "offense taken"; "F--- TRUMP"; "WOMEN SHAMER"; "RACIST PIG."
Their yelling infuriated the people around them. Some started to shout: "Anchor babies! Go home!" Others shoved Trump campaign posters at the women and used the signs to block cameras, cheering when the hecklers were finally escorted out of the building.
"I was actually an immigrant myself nine years ago from South Korea, and Trump's beliefs on minorities, it's just ridiculous," Yu Jin Kim, one of the two women, told CNN outside. "Would you really want the next president to be racist and disregard a third of the country?"
Sara Park, whose parents are immigrants, said she was there to "stand up for the community who can't stand up for themselves."
Protests have become a common occurrence at Trump campaign rallies, fueled by the candidate's explosive statements about minority groups.
At a campaign rally in Rock Hill, South Carolina, this month, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab stood up in silent protest as Trump spoke about the hidden presence of ISIS among Syrian refugees.
As Rose Hamid was escorted out of the building, one person shouted: "You have a bomb, you have a bomb."
Several days later, at another Trump event in Clear Lake, Iowa, there were mixed reactions to Hamid's removal from the event.
"If she was asked to sit down and she didn't, well, out she goes," said John Dusheck, a 63-year-old Trump supporter from Ventura, Iowa.
"She wasn't causing any troubles," said Steven Ziller, a farmer from Belmond. "That was not right."
Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, who has watched these events with interest from afar, said he fears that Trump is in the process of unleashing long-running "ignorance, fear and hatred in our country."
"He's tapped into a certain macho factor in the white community and it works for him. I know it's dangerous," said Jackson, a former presidential candidate. "You have the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee component to this. Them versus us. Anti-Muslim."
Ali Ali attended a December 5 Trump rally in Spencer, Iowa. He said he was born in the African nation of Djibouti and grew up in fear of persecution, until he came to the United States as a refugee.
The 50-year-old Muslim-American said he knew he didn't belong in that crowd -- "You can see, I'm the only Muslim of 3,000 people today in Spencer," he said -- but felt that by being in the same room as Trump, he might get a chance to share his grievances.
Being Muslim today is not easy, Ali told CNN, and Trump wasn't making it any easier.
"I'm a safe guy. I don't have no bomb. I never killed nobody. So I don't want to be labeled a terrorist," he said.
Trump's rhetoric about Muslims, including his support for a database to track Muslim-Americans, is no different from the persecution of Jews decades ago, Ali said.
"They're doing to Muslims today what they (did) to Jewish (people) in 1938," he said. "My name is Ali Ali, I'm from Shakopee, Minnesota, and my ID number: registration 00001. That will be me."
Tom LoBianco, Jeff Simon, Randi Kaye and Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.
VIDEO-Oregon Bundy BLM militia martial law lock down after Lavoy Finicum killing - YouTube
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 10:57
VIDEO-AUDIO-B.o.B. Doubles Down That "World Is Flat," Disses Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson with "Flatline" | NOISEY
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:15
OK, we're going to present this story with, hm, how do we say it'--a little bit of doubt? But here it is anyway. Yesterday, B.o.B. took his woke-self to social media to proclaim that he believes the earth is flat. Yes, the mad, mad world that spins on, according to B.o.B., is flat. This prompted astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson to point out that the earth is not, indeed, flat. It was quite the day on social media and the rap internet.
So, the question remains: Is B.o.B. serious? Who the hell knows. But he's doubled down on his notion that not only is the earth flat, but Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a huge fucking dork (which, to be fair, anyone who #wellactuallys the joy we all experienced with Star Wars is the definition of dork) and released a diss track called "Flatline" last night. Over the track's (appropriately) menacing beat, B.o.B. spits: "Aye, Neil Tyson need to loosen up his vest / They'll probably write that man one hell of a check." Later, he comes harder: "Globalists see me as a threat / Free thinking, got the world at my neck."
Now, your inital reaction to this might be something like, "Wow, I can't believe B.o.B. would embarrass himself with these outrageous claims from the 16th century and there's no way he would ever actually believe this! He's definitely the loser in this 'beef.'" But then again, this is the most anyone's ever thought, talked, or cared about B.o.B. since, well... ever, right? Makes you think.
Stream "Flatline" below.
VIDEO-Interview: Zygmunt Bauman: ''Social media are a trap'' | In English | EL PAS
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 15:55
Zygmunt Bauman has just celebrated his 90th birthday and taken two flights from his home in the northern British city of Leeds to get to an event in Burgos, northern Spain. He admits to being tired as we begin the interview, but he still manages to express his ideas calmly and clearly, taking his time with each response because he hates giving simple answers to complex questions. Since developing his theory of liquid modernity in the late 1990s '' which describes our age as one in which ''all agreements are temporary, fleeting, and valid only until further notice'' '' he has become a leading figure in the field of sociology. His work on inequality and his critique of what he sees as the failure of politics to meet people's expectations, along with a highly pessimistic view of the future of society, have been picked up by the so-called May 15 ''Indignant'' movement in Spain '' although he has repeatedly highlighted its weaknesses.
''We're still in the age of Versailles, when the principle of each nation's right to self rule was established. But that's a fiction in today's world''
Born in Poland in 1925, Bauman's parents fled to the Soviet Union following the German invasion in 1939. In 1968, after he was stripped of his post as a teacher and expelled from the Communist Party along with thousands of other Jews in the wake of the Six-Day War, he left for the United Kingdom, taking up a post at Leeds University where he is now Emeritus Professor of Sociology. His work has been awarded numerous international prizes, among them Spain's Prince of Asturias Award, in 2010.
He has outlined his pessimistic world view in books such as 2014's Does the Richness of the Few Benefit Us All?, which argues that the world is paying a high price for the neoliberal revolution that began in the 1980s and that wealth has not trickled down to the rest of society. In Moral Blindness, published last year, he and co-author Leonidas Donskis warn about the loss of community in our increasingly individualistic world.
QUESTION. You have described inequality as a ''metastasis.'' Is democracy under threat?
ANSWER. We could describe what is going on at the moment as a crisis of democracy, the collapse of trust: the belief that our leaders are not just corrupt or stupid, but inept. Action requires power, to be able to do things, and we need politics, which is the ability to decide what needs to be done. But that marriage between power and politics in the hands of the nation state has ended. Power has been globalized, but politics is as local as before. Politics has had its hands cut off. People no longer believe in the democratic system because it doesn't keep its promises. We see this, for example, with the migration crisis: it's a global phenomenon, but we still act parochially. Our democratic institutions were not designed for dealing with situations of interdependence. The current crisis of democracy is a crisis of democratic institutions.
Q. In which direction is the pendulum that you describe between freedom and security swinging at the moment?
A. These are two values that are tremendously difficult to reconcile. If you want more security, you're going to have to give up a certain amount of freedom; if you want more freedom, you're going to have to give up security. This dilemma is going to continue forever. Forty years ago we believed that freedom had triumphed and we began an orgy of consumerism. Everything seemed possible by borrowing money: cars, homes'... and you just paid for it later. The wakeup call in 2008 was a bitter one, when the loans dried up. The catastrophe, the social collapse that followed hit the middle classes particularly hard, dragging them into a precarious situation where they remain: they don't know if their company is going to merge with another and they will be laid off, they don't know if what they have bought really belongs to them'... Conflict is no longer between classes, but between each person and society. It isn't just a lack of security, but a lack of freedom.
Q. You say that progress is a myth, because people no longer believe the future will be better than the past.
A. We are in a period of interregnum, between a time when we had certainties and another when the old ways of doing things no longer work. We don't know what is going to replace this. We are experimenting with new ways of doing things. Spain tried questioning things through the May 15 (15M) movement, when people took over public spaces, arguing, trying to replace parliamentary procedures with a kind of direct democracy. This hasn't lasted long. Austerity policies will continue, nobody could stop them, but they could still be relatively effective in finding new ways to do things.
Q. You have argued that the likes of 15M and the global Occupy movement know ''how to clear the way, but not how to create something solid.''
A. People set aside their differences for a while in the public squares for a common goal. If that goal is negative, about getting angry with someone, there is more chance of success. In a way it could have been an explosion of solidarity, but explosions are very powerful and short-lived.
''Most people use social media not to open their horizons wider, but to lock themselves in a comfort zone''
Q. You also believe that by their nature, there is no room for leadership in rainbow coalitions.
A. It is precisely because such movements lack leaders that they can survive, but it is also precisely because they lack leaders that they cannot convert their sense of purpose into action.
Q. In Spain, the 15M movement has helped create new political forces.
A. Changing one party for another will not solve the problem. The problem is not that the parties are wrong, but that they don't control things. Spain's problems are part of a global problem. It's a mistake to think you can solve things internally.
Q. What do you think about the Catalan independence project?
A. I think we're still following the principles of Versailles, when the idea of each nation's right to self rule was established. But that's a fiction in today's world, when there are no more homogeneous territories. Today, every society is just a collection of diasporas. People join the societies to which they are loyal and pay their taxes, but at the same time, they do not want to give up their identity. The connection between where you live and identity has been broken. The situation in Catalonia, as in Scotland or Lombardy, is a contradiction between tribal identity and citizenship. They are Europeans, but they don't want to talk to Brussels via Madrid, but via Barcelona. The same logic is emerging in almost every country. We are still following the same principles established at the end of World War I, but there have been many changes in the world.
''Our democratic institutions were not designed for dealing with situations of interdependence''
Q. You are skeptical of the way people protest through social media, of so-called ''armchair activism,'' and say that the internet is dumbing us down with cheap entertainment. So would you say that the social networks are the new opium of the people?
A. The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren't created, and you either have one or you don't. What the social networks can create is a substitute. The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age. But it's so easy to add or remove friends on the internet that people fail to learn the real social skills, which you need when you go to the street, when you go to your workplace, where you find lots of people who you need to enter into sensible interaction with. Pope Francis, who is a great man, gave his first interview after being elected to Eugenio Scalfari, an Italian journalist who is also a self-proclaimed atheist. It was a sign: real dialogue isn't about talking to people who believe the same things as you. Social media don't teach us to dialogue because it is so easy to avoid controversy'... But most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face. Social media are very useful, they provide pleasure, but they are a trap.
VIDEO-American Fishermen Caught in Net of Regulations - CBS News
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 14:35
For 37 years the waters off the coast of Mass. were a way of life for fishermen Bill Lee. Then, without warning - it all changed.
"NOAA took a career that I enjoyed and put me out of business," Lee said. "And laughed all the way to the bank."
NOAA is short for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - the federal agency that oversees the $3.9 billion dollar fishing industry.
CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports in 2009 NOAA fined Lee $19,000 for catching about 20 extra codfish - nearly three years after he caught them. A fine, he says, that destroyed his one-man operation.
"They just took it away," Lee said.
Now dozens of New England fishermen charge their livelihood is at risk. Sinking under the weight of 700 pages of confusing federal regulations.
"You almost have to have a college degree to understand what's really going on in this industry," said fisherman Richard Burgess.
Burgess said NOAA told him he had to pay $27,000 because of a problem with his paperwork.
"They just said if I tried to fight it and it goes in front of one of their judges - that I most likely - the fine will be between $120,000-$140,000," Burgess said.
An investigation by the Commerce Department's Inspector General found the regulations were "unduly complicated." Federal agents "overzealous" and "abusive." Excessive fines including one for $270,000 for "administrative errors."
"We're honest hard-working people," Burgess said. "And we have been treated as common criminals."
The inspector general found the $30 million the fishermen paid in fines went to a NOAA fund with no oversight. The fund was used by regulators to buy more cars (202) than agents (172,) and for trips to fishing conferences in exotic locales such as Australia, Malaysia and Norway. It was also used to purchase a $300,000 "luxury vessel" used by government employees for "fishing trips."
And according to this memo obtained by CBS News while under investigation NOAA officials in Washington had a "shredding party" destroying garbage bags full of documents.
The shredding truck pulled up right outside NOAA's enforcement headquarters, where the agency's top cop later admitted he destroyed 75 percent to 80 percent of his total files.
An investigation found the shredding violated five federal regulations but found no evidence of obstructing justice. The man was later removed from his job but remains at NOAA as an analyst, still making a six figure salary.
Eric Schwaab is the new head of Fisheries at NOAA. He came to the agency last February from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources armed with a mandate for change.
"We have worked hard over the last year to identify those problems and address those problems and to rebuild that trusting and productive relationship that we need with fishermen," Schwaab said.
For some, like Sen. Charles Grassley, change can't come soon enough.
"I want to make sure that heads roll," Sen. Grassley said. "Because you know in a bureaucracy, if heads don't roll, you don't change behavior.
Now a judge is reviewing at least 31 cases of fishermen caught up in the government's net to see if some of the fines should be returned.
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VIDEO: Elizabeth Warren: 'Anyone Who Says Change Is Too Hard' Is In 'Bed With the Billionaires'
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 13:35
The Massachusetts senator's fiery speech on the senate floor Friday echoed some of Bernie Sanders' powerful criticisms of Hillary Clinton. While Warren hasn't endorsed any of the democratic candidates (and is in fact the only female senator not to have endorsed Clinton), that hasn't deterred speculation.
Politico and others have all but called Warren's endorsement of Clinton inevitable. However, such an endorsement would seem like a betrayal to the many progressives who support Warren and are far more in line with Sanders' views than Clinton's.
The Washington Post points out,
... some observers think Warren maximizes [her] influence by holding off on any endorsement as long as she can.
''The longer she holds out, the more it will push all the candidates, especially those who might not be as good on her issues, to be as strong as possible on them,'' Neil Sroka, a spokesman for the progressive group Democracy for America, tells me. ''She holds on to that power as long as the candidates continue to vie for her endorsement. In turn, that makes the candidates better for progressives. Everything about Warren suggests that this is her ultimate concern: how do we get our Democratic nominee to be as strong as possible in the fight against income inequality and for Wall Street accountability?'' So holding out could keep Clinton worried about shoring up her progressive flank.
In any case, the speech she delivered on the 6th anniversary of Citizens United highlights where her true concerns lie and those are pretty much undeniably the same as the Vermont senators' central goal: Getting big money out of politics.
Watch her excellent, detailed speech about how we can go about accomplishing this goal below.
'-- Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata
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VIDEO-Vietnamese farmers struggle in cold snap
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 13:35
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Martin Luther King Jr. DayTue, Jan 19, 2016 -(1:47)
Turn and face the strange: David Bowie dies...Mon, Jan 11, 2016 -(1:03)
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One year anniversary of Charlie HebdoThu, Jan 07, 2016 -(1:37)
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Fixing Wi-Fi Issues in OS X El Capitan
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 14:01
Though Apple has largely resolved the wi-fi issues that persisted in some Macs with prior OS X releases, some users with OS X El Capitan may encounter wireless networking issues after updating to the latest OS X release. Typically the wi-fi problems are in the form of dropping connections or strangely slow speeds, and the good news is they're usually an easy fix.
For most Mac users who are experiencing issues with wi-fi connections in OS X El Capitan, simply ditching old preference files, followed by creating a new network location with custom DNS settings and an MTU change is enough to resolve whatever wi-fi problems they may have had. This is a multi-step process but not particularly difficult.
You're going to be deleting a few system level preference files and creating a new network location. Before getting started, you should start and complete a backup of the Mac with Time Machine. Don't skip backups.
Trash Existing Wi-Fi Preferences in OS X to Start FreshCreate a new folder on your Desktop called 'wifi prefs backup' or something obviousTurn off Wi-Fi from the menu item in the upper right corner of OS XGo to the Finder (the smiley face icon in the Dock), and hit Command+Shift+G to bring up the Go To Folder command, choose the following path exactly:/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/
Hit return to go to that folder, then locate and select the following files:com.apple.airport.preferences.plist'¨com.apple.network.identification.plistcom.apple.wifi.message-tracer.plistNetworkInterfaces.plistpreferences.plist
Move all of these files into the folder you created in step 1 on the desktop (you can also delete them if you're confident and have made a backup)Reboot the MacTurn on Wi-Fi from the wireless network menu again in the upper right corner of OS XIf your wi-fi works now, great, but for most users, you're not quite finished yet! Now you need to create a new custom network location.
Create a New Wi-Fi Network Location with Custom DNSQuit any open apps that are using wi-fi or networking (Chrome, Safari, Mail, etc)Go to the £ Apple menu and select ''System Preferences''Choose the ''Network'' control panel, then choose Wi-Fi from the list on the left sideClick the ''Location'' menu and select ''Edit Locations'', then click the [+] plus button to create a new location, giving the new location an easily identifiable name like ''Fixing My WiFi'' and click ''Done'' to add it
Next to ''Network Name'' join the wi-fi network and authenticate with the router password as usualNext, select the ''Advanced'' button in the lower corner of Network preferences, then go to the ''TCP/ IP'' tab, choose ''Renew DHCP Lease''
Next go to the ''DNS'' tab, and on the left side ''DNS Servers'' list, click the [+] plus button to add a new DNS server* '' I use 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 for Google DNS but you can choose whatever you want
Next, choose the ''Hardware'' tab, then next to 'Configure' choose ''Manually''Change ''MTU'' to ''Custom'' and set the MTU number to 1453, then click on ''OK''
Finally, choose the ''Apply'' button to set your network changes* If you're not sure what DNS to use, you can find the fastest DNS servers for your situation with a benchmarking utility. Typically the fastest servers are Google DNS and OpenDNS, but results may vary per region.
Now wireless connectivity should be working flawlessly in OS X, and back at full speed. Try things out by navigating around the web, doing a speed test, and just using the internet as usual.
The solution outlined above almost always works to resolve wireless networking issues in OS X, particularly if they occur after updating to a new version of system software or a point release.
Additional Wi-Fi Troubleshooting TipsIf you're still having trouble with wi-fi in OS X 10.11 or later, try the following:
Have you had wi-fi issues or speed problems with OS X El Capitan? Did this work to resolve them for you? Let us know in the comments, or if you had another solution, let us know that too!
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Trump Won't Drop Debate Boycott, Worries Ailes -- NYMag
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 05:25
The Fox chief is still struggling to draft a playbook to deal with Trump.
Fox still hasn't figured out how to handle Trump.Photo: Scott Olson/2015 Getty ImagesWith the first 2016 votes set to be cast in less than a week, Fox News finds itself in the unprecedented position of being in open warfare with the GOP front-runner. Tonight, Donald Trump is continuing to leave people guessing about whether he will be onstage at the Fox debate on Thursday, should Roger Ailes refuse to yank Megyn Kelly from the moderator panel. ''I'm not 100 percent, I'll see," Trump told CNN earlier today, echoing a threat he first made on Saturday. "If I think I'm going to be treated unfairly I'll do something else. But I don't think she can treat me fairly, actually. I think she's very biased and I don't think she can treat me fairly.''
Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told me tonight that Trump could very well boycott Fox. "We haven't said he'll be there, and we haven't said he won't be there," he said. "The bottom line is Megyn Kelly shouldn't be rewarded for her media bias."
Behind the scenes, Trump has pressured Ailes to remove his fastest rising star. While campaigning in Iowa today, Trump told the Boston Globe's James Pindell that he spoke with Ailes by phone and said Kelly should "recuse herself."
Trump Rekindles Feud With Megyn Kelly Ahead of Fox News Debate: 'She Should Not Be Allowed to Be a Moderator'Fox isn't backing down. Tonight, the network released another carefully worded statement: ''Sooner or later Donald Trump even if he's president, is going to have to learn that he doesn't get to pick the journalists. We're very surprised he's willing to show that much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly.''
The timid response '-- by Ailes-ian standards '-- is more evidence that the Fox chief is struggling to draft a playbook to deal with Trump. According to a Fox source, Ailes's senior executives convened an emergency conference call on Sunday to discuss Fox's Trump strategy. Two more sources told me that Ailes is becoming increasingly worried about leaks from inside Fox. He's tasked his lawyer Peter Johnson Jr. with running an investigation to ferret out sources.
It makes sense that Ailes would be worried. While it remains highly unlikely that Trump actually won't show up on Thursday, he continues to threaten the relationship between Fox News and its viewers. During his CNN interview, Trump played on Ailes's leak anxiety, hinting that he has dirt on Kelly and is willing to use it. "Maybe I know too much about her," he said.
Full statement on Trump declining to participate in Fox News/Google Debate | Fox News
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 05:20
As many of our viewers know, FOX News is hosting a sanctioned debate in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday night, three days before the first votes of the 2016 election are cast in the Iowa Caucus. Donald Trump is refusing to debate seven of his fellow presidential candidates on stage that night, which is near unprecedented.
We're not sure how Iowans are going to feel about him walking away from them at the last minute, but it should be clear to the American public by now that this is rooted in one thing '' Megyn Kelly, whom he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage. Capitulating to politicians' ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards, as do threats, including the one leveled by Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski toward Megyn Kelly.
In a call on Saturday with a FOX News executive, Lewandowski stated that Megyn had a 'rough couple of days after that last debate' and he 'would hate to have her go through that again.' Lewandowski was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so. We can't give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees.
Trump is still welcome at Thursday night's debate and will be treated fairly, just as he has been during his 132 appearances on FOX News & FOX Business, but he can't dictate the moderators or the questions.
AND-VETERANS-Trump Campaign Statement on FOX News Debate | Donald J Trump for President
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 18:50
- January 26, 2016 -(New York, NY) January 26th, 2016 - As someone who wrote one of the best-selling business books of all time, TheArt of the Deal, who has built an incredible company, including some of the most valuable and iconic assets in the world, and as someone who has a personal net worth of many billions of dollars, Mr. Trump knows a bad deal when he sees one. FOX News is making tens of millions of dollars on debates, and setting ratings records (the highest in history), where as in previous years they were low-rated afterthoughts.
Unlike the very stupid, highly incompetent people running our country into the ground, Mr. Trump knows when to walk away. Roger Ailes and FOX News think they can toy with him, but Mr. Trump doesn't play games. There have already been six debates, and according to all online debate polls including Drudge, Slate, Time Magazine, and many others, Mr. Trump has won all of them, in particular the last one. Whereas he has always been a job creator and not a debater, he nevertheless truly enjoys the debating process - and it has been very good for him, both in polls and popularity.
He will not be participating in the FOX News debate and will instead host an event in Iowa to raise money for the Veterans and Wounded Warriors, who have been treated so horribly by our all talk, no action politicians. Like running for office as an extremely successful person, this takes guts and it is the kind of mentality our country needs in order to Make America Great Again.
Robert Gates: Republicans' grasp of national security is at a child's level | US news | The Guardian
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 13:35
Former US defense secretary Robert Gates: the current Republican candidates 'are making threats and promises that are totally unrealistic'. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Robert Gates, a Republican stalwart and former US defence secretary who served under eight presidents, has derided the party's election candidates for a grasp of national security issues that ''would embarrass a middle schooler''.
An ex-CIA director who first joined the White House under Richard Nixon, Gates joked that if frontrunner Donald Trump wins the presidency, he would emigrate to Canada. He condemned the media for failing to challenge candidates from both parties on promises he believes are unaffordable, illegal or unconstitutional.
''The level of dialogue on national security issues would embarrass a middle schooler,'' Gates said of the Republican contenders at a Politico Playbook event in Washington on Monday. ''People are out there making threats and promises that are totally unrealistic, totally unattainable. Either they really believe what they're saying or they're cynical and opportunistic and, in a way, you hope it's the latter, because God forbid they actually believe some of the things that they're saying.''
Gates is among Republican elders dismayed by the way this year's campaign is unfolding, with establishment figures such as Jeb Bush, whose father he served as director of central intelligence, failing to gain traction against mavericks with unusual prescriptions for keeping America safe.
Trump suggested ''closing parts of the internet'' to prevent Islamic State attracting recruits, Ted Cruz pledged to ''carpet bomb them into oblivion'', Chris Christie proposed flying Air Force One over disputed Chinese islands and Carly Fiorina boasted of having had ''a private meeting'' with Russian leader Vladimir Putin when in fact they met in a green room at a conference.
Gates, promoting a new book, A Passion for Leadership, said: ''One of the greatest, most appealing aspects of Ronald Reagan was his optimism about this country and about the future, and these guys all make it sound like we're going down the drain.'' All the candidates, he argued, should ''try to communicate better to the American people that these are complicated, difficult problems that are going to be difficult to solve and are probably going to require some sacrifice''.
The 72-year-old declined to comment on specific candidates but was pressed by interviewer Mike Allen on the prospect of Trump reaching the White House. After a pause, he replied: ''Well, I live about 50 miles from Canada.''
As the audience erupted in laughter, Gates continued philosophically: ''I've been around a long time. There are a lot of people who have run for president where people have said, 'Oh my God, if he's elected, it's the end of the world!' And the truth of the matter is, it wasn't, and so I'm not prepared to be overly dramatic and believe me, the comment I just made was very sarcastic and humorous, not meant seriously. Somebody out there will write a story that I'm going to Canada. It's totally not true; I intend to remain within the United States.''
Gates was the only defence secretary in American history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president. Working under Barack Obama, he was alongside Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state and praised her as ''tough minded'' with ''a lot of common sense'' but admitted they began to disagree on issues towards the end, notably the intervention in Libya.
He did not mention Bernie Sanders by name but did suggest both Democratic and Republican candidates are being given an easy ride by the media. ''Frankly, I think that the press needs to be more aggressive,'' he said. ''A lot of people in both parties are making huge promises and commitments.
''In some cases, the things they're saying they're going to do are unconstitutional or merely against the law and others are, from a budgetary standpoint, inconceivable, and so it seems to be that the press has not hammered hard enough and been relentless in saying, 'How the hell are you going to do that?'''
Gates condemned National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden as a traitor, called on tech companies to put security ahead of business interests and cooperate with intelligence agencies on encrypted data, and repeated his past description of Putin as a ''stone-cold killer'', which, in the light of the Alexander Litvinenko inquiry, ''the British now seem to reaffirm''.
Barack Obama and Robert Gates attend a ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, in 2010. Photograph: Washington Post/Getty ImagesThe intelligence veteran of nearly 27 years also spoke about the danger of leaks and recalled the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed terrorist Osama bin Laden. A friend later emailed him a Photoshopped version of the famous picture in the situation room with the occupants wearing superhero costumes: Obama as Superman, Joe Biden as Spider-Man, Clinton as Wonder Woman and Gates himself as the Green Lantern.
''And we all had a good laugh, and then I said, 'Mr President, this is the reason the photographs of the dead Bin Laden must never be released, because somebody will Photoshop them and it will anger every Muslim in the world, even those that hated Bin Laden, because of being disrespectful of the dead, and it will create greater risk for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and for all Americans, especially in the Middle East.' And to the best of my knowledge, those photographs are the only things about that raid that have never leaked.''
He added: ''The Defense Department wrote the book on leaking. They know how to do this. But the Defense Department leaks about policy and budget and weapons programmes and stuff like that. They do not leak about military operations because they know lives are at stake. So the leaks about the Bin Laden raid for the first couple of weeks came from the White House and CIA, and I just thought that was a disgrace.''
French Jews, struggling to find work in Israel, consider going home - Diaspora - Jerusalem Post
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 13:25
RAANANA, Israel '' Before she traded her native France for Israel, Catherine Berdah ran a successful drug store in an affluent suburb on the eastern edge of Paris.
A 50-year-old pharmacist with a master's degree in business and decades of experience, Berdah earned over $6,000 per month and presided over an expanding business with 14 employees. But Berdah sold out last year and moved with her husband and two teenage daughters to this central Israeli city because she feared for their future in France amid rising anti-Semitic violence.
Berdah hoped to build a new pharmacy business in the Jewish state. But six months after settling here, she has already quit a $6-per-hour job as a cashier that offered no prospect of advancement and another in a health clinic where she was told to stack boxes in a storage room. Berdah left the latter because she was unable to lift the boxes.
''At 50, I was told that lifting boxes was basically all I'm good for,'' Berdah said. ''That's when I started to feel humiliated.''
Now Berdah is studying Hebrew and waiting to take an exam that will grant her an Israeli pharmacist's license. But before she can do that, she must meet a range of demands, including that she produce her attendance log from a pharmacology internship she completed 30 years ago with a French pharmacist who is no longer alive. According to Qualita, an umbrella group of 12 French immigrant associations in Israel, the exam has an 80 percent fail rate.
All of which has Berdah wondering if she made a terrible mistake in uprooting her comfortable life in France for a chance at a better one in Israel.
''I'm going to give it another year,'' Berdah said. ''But it's not going too well.''
Some 15,000 French Jews have settled in Israel in the past two years alone, driven here by a combination of rising anti-Semitism and economic stagnation, among other factors. But while their impact is felt everywhere from the opening of multiple kosher patisseries to the launch last year of a French-language kindergarten to the sounds of yarmulke-wearing boys imitating their favorite French movie stars in Raanana's Yad L'Banim Square, Israel's Francophone newcomers are struggling to make economic inroads.
Their plight recalls that of Russian immigrants who arrived in Israel in the 1990s, many of them highly trained professionals with advanced degrees forced to work low-skill jobs as garbage collectors and street sweepers because their credentials did not transfer.
''French physicians, nurses and pharmacists who've studied for five, eight years won't work here as sanitary workers like their Russian counterparts did in the 1990s,'' said Mickael Bensadoun, the director of Qualita. ''They're Zionist, but there's a limit. And if it comes to that, they'll return to France or move to countries hungry for skilled newcomers, like Canada.''
Both Bensadoun and Berdah believe Israeli authorities have presented unnecessary obstacles to protect local professionals from immigrant competition. The Israeli Health Ministry declined to respond to the charge and referred all inquiries to the Ministry for Immigrant Absorption, which told JTA that efforts are underway to smooth out the certification process for health care professionals.
''We represent a boon for Israel, please don't put us through a bureaucratic hell for this desire,'' David Tibi, a dentist who immigrated to Israel in 2014, wrote in a letter last month to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the meantime, French immigrants are taking matters into their own hands. In 2014, they launched an aggressive lobbying effort to break through the bureaucratic tangles they fault for making absorption exceedingly difficult for those already in Israel, while deterring countless others from coming.
The lobbying, led by Qualita and its member organizations, has already led to some changes, including the easing of certification requirements for French physicians in 2014 and pending legislation that would exempt experienced French dentists from taking a certification exam. Other professionals still must undergo thorough testing to work, regardless of their experience or the French standards they meet.
Last month, the lobbying effort received a big push from Meyer Habib, a Jewish member of France's National Assembly and friend of Netanyahu, who declared he would advise French Jews against moving to Israel unless progress is made within three months.
''I cannot support a situation which creates tragedies in people's lives,'' Habib wrote on Facebook.
According to Bensadoun, some 300-400 French health care professionals cannot work in their chosen field because of certification issues. He also pointed to official figures suggesting that the situation is leading 15-20 percent of French immigrants to return to France within two years.
Still, Bensadoun says he is optimistic, partly because of lessons drawn from the trials of Russian immigrants in the 1990s.
''The Russian olim's success and immense contribution to Israel's rise as a start-up nation have created an awareness in the Knesset and public of the potential dividends from educated olim,'' said Bensadoun, using the Hebrew word for immigrants. ''In a way, we're sailing in their wake.''
For all her troubles, Berdah is not quite ready to give up on Israel. But the situation has put strains on her marriage. Her husband, Michel, wants the family to return.
''You think you have something to offer here?'' Michel says as they argue on the subject. ''Israel doesn't want anything from you.''
Berdah, in turn, has her own disagreements with her oldest daughter, Clara, 18, who wants to stay in Israel and '' to Berdah's chagrin '' serve in an army combat unit. Her younger daughter, Naomi, has acclimated well at her high school, where she studies in a special class for new immigrants and is considering starting a modeling career.
''The silver lining here is that the girls are really fitting in,'' Berdah said. ''It makes me wonder whether Israel really wants us or only our children.''
FBI thwarts mass shooting at Milwaukee Masonic center
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 12:27
A terrorist-style plot intended to kill dozens of people with automatic weapons at a Masonic center in Milwaukee was foiled this week by FBI agents, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Samy Mohamed Hamzeh discussed his plan to attack the center with two others, detailing how they would quickly and quietly kill the first people they saw and then methodically move through the building, "eliminating everyone" they encountered, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Hamzeh, 23, has been charged with possessing a machine gun and a silencer. Despite indications of an attempted act of terrorism, Hamzeh is not charged with any terrorism counts.
"We are Muslims, defending Muslim religion, we are on our own, my dear, we have organized our own group," Hamzeh said, according to the criminal complaint, adding he was confident it would trigger more attacks in the United States.
"Such operations will increase in America, when they hear about it. The people will be scared and the operations will increase, and there will be problems all over,... this will lead to people clashing with each other. This way we will be igniting it. I mean we are marching at the front of the war," he said, according to the complaint.
Acting U.S. Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad called it a "detailed plan to commit a mass shooting intended to kill dozens of people."
"(Hamzeh) also said that he wanted this mass shooting to be 'known the world over' and to 'ignite' broader clashes. It is difficult to calculate the injury and loss of life that was prevented by concerned citizens coming forward and by the tireless efforts of the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force."
Hamzeh does not claim a connection to an established, known terrorist group, according to the complaint. At one point he says, "We have our own group, not with Hamas, ... we are here defending Islam, young people together join to defend Islam, that's it, that is what our intention is."
Jeff Cramer, a former federal prosecutor, said a criminal complaint is used to arrest someone and it appears there was urgency to take Hamzeh into custody. Prosecutors still must present the case to the grand jury, when additional charges may be added, including a terrorism-related count, but that will depend on the facts of the case, Cramer said. Such counts generally require approval from the Justice Department in Washington.
Hamzeh '-- who most recently worked at a downtown gym where he was fired for being too intense, gym owner Delia Luna said '-- appeared in federal court in Milwaukee Tuesday and remains in custody by order of U.S. Magistrate Judge David Jones. Hamzeh will have court-appointed counsel but an attorney has not been assigned, according to federal defender Daniel Stiller, who did not have further comment on the case.
Hamzeh was planning to attack the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center, a historic building on N. Van Buren St. in downtown Milwaukee that hosts weddings, conferences, meetings and other special events. The Wisconsin Scottish Rite, which purchased the building in 1912, has been in the community since 1863.
Hamzeh had scouted the Masonic center by taking a tour and spoke in detail about how the attack would occur, the complaint says. A woman in the lobby of the center Tuesday afternoon told a reporter that the staff had no comment.
Hamzeh had been under investigation by the FBI since September, which used confidential informants who secretly recorded him. Undercover FBI agents arrested him this week after he tried to buy automatic weapons from them, the complaint says.
Hamzeh originally had planned to travel to Jordan to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank, but ditched those plans because of logistical issues and focused on attacking a target in the U.S., according to the criminal complaint.
He hatched a plan to attack a Masonic center in Milwaukee with two others, who were actually the informants cooperating with the FBI.
Last week, Hamzeh and the informants went to a local shooting range and practiced firing a handgun. Afterward, they went to the Masonic center and got a tour of the facility. Later, Hamzeh spoke with the informants in detail about the planned attack, according to the complaint.
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Detailed plan of attackDuring this meeting, which was recorded and translated from Arabic to English, Hamzeh, according to the complaint, said they needed three automatic weapons, each with a silencer, to launch the attack.
According to the complaint:
They would enter with clothes over their heads, he said. It was important to quietly kill the receptionist, the first person they were likely to see, Hamzeh said.
"... If she was alone, it is OK, if there were two of them, shoot both of them, do not let the blood show, shoot her from the bottom, two or three shots in her stomach and let her sit on the chair and push her to the front, as if she is sleeping, did you understand?"
After killing those at the door, one attacker would remain there, Hamzeh said. "...One of us will stay at the door at the entrance and lock the door down, he will be at the main door down, two will get to the lift (elevator) up, they will enter the room, and spray everyone in the room. The one who is standing downstairs will spray anyone he finds. We will shoot them, kill them and get out."
Hamzeh said each of them would have to kill everyone around him, "to annihilate everyone, there is no one left, I mean when we go into a room, we will be killing everyone, that's it, this is our duty."
The exit plan was to leave by the stairs and out the door, quietly and calmly. "We leave, as if there is nothing, no running, no panic, just regular walking."
Global reaction predictedHe predicted the attack could bring global attention, the complaint states.
"I am telling you, if this hit is executed, it will be known all over the world. Sure, all over the world, all the Mujahedeen will be talking and they will be proud of us."
Of the target, he said, according to the complaint: "They are all Masonic; they are playing with the world like a game, man, and we are like asses, we don't know what is going on, these are the ones who are fighting, these are the ones that needs to be killed, not the Shi'iat, because these are the ones who are against us, these are the ones who are making living for us like hell," he said.
"Thirty is excellent. If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100% ... 100% happy, because these 30 will terrify the world."
Hamzeh met with undercover FBI agents on Monday. The undercover agents showed two weapons and a silencer to Hamzeh, and told him the weapons were capable of fully automatic fire, the complaint says.
Hamzeh agreed to a price and paid it to the undercover agents, who then handed Hamzeh a bag containing two automatic weapons and a silencer. Hamzeh carried the bag to his car and put the bag in the trunk of the vehicle, the complaint states. He then was arrested.
Robert J. Shields, special agent in charge of the Milwaukee FBI, said the arrest was the result of well-coordinated law enforcement work, "thwarting an attack that could have resulted in significant injury and/or loss of life."
Cary Spivak, Bruce Vielmetti, Jesse Garza and Mary Spicuzza of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
Ta-Nehisi Coates on Hillary Clinton's Strange History of Reconstruction - The Atlantic
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 12:20
Last night Hillary Clinton was asked what president inspired her the most. She offered up Abraham Lincoln, gave a boilerplate reason why, and then said this:
You know, he was willing to reconcile and forgive. And I don't know what our country might have been like had he not been murdered, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving and tolerant, that might possibly have brought people back together more quickly.
But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the re-instigation of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path.
Clinton, whether she knows it or not, is retelling a racist'--though popular'--version of American history which held sway in this country until relatively recently. Sometimes going under the handle of ''The Dunning School,'' and other times going under the ''Lost Cause'' label, the basic idea is that Reconstruction was a mistake brought about by vengeful Northern radicals. The result was a savage and corrupt government which in turn left former Confederates, as Clinton puts, it ''discouraged and defiant.''
A sample of the genre is offered here by historian Ulrich Phillips:
Lincoln in his plan of reconstruction had shown unexpected magnanimity; the Republican party, discarding that obnoxious name, had officially styled itself merely Unionist; and the Northern Democrats, although outvoted, were still a friendly force to be reckoned upon '... With Johnson then on Lincoln's path ''back to normalcy'', Southern hearts were lightened only to sink again when radicals in Congress, calling themselves Republicans once more, overslaughed the Presidential programme and set events in train which seemed to make "the Africanization of the South" inescapable. To most of the whites, doubtless, the prospect showed no gleam of hope.
Notably absent from it is the fact that Lincoln was killed by a white supremacist, that Johnson was a white supremacist who tried to curtail virtually all rights black people enjoyed, that the ''hope'' of white Southerners lay in the pillage of black labor, that this was accomplished through a century-long campaign of domestic terrorism, and that for most of that history the federal government looked the other way, while state and local governments were complicit.
The campaign coverage you need from the staff of '‹The AtlanticRead moreYet until relatively recently, this self-serving version of history was dominant. It is almost certainly the version fed to Hillary Clinton during her school years, and possibly even as a college student. Hillary Clinton is no longer a college student. And the fact that a presidential candidate would imply that Jim Crow and Reconstruction were equal, that the era of lynching and white supremacist violence would have been prevented had that same violence not killed Lincoln, and that the violence was simply the result of rancor, the absence of a forgiving spirit, and an understandably ''discouraged'' South is chilling.
I have spent the past two years somewhat concerned about the effects of national amnesia, largely because I believe that a problem can not be effectively treated without being effectively diagnosed. I don't know how you diagnose the problem of racism in America without understanding the actual history. In the Democratic Party, there is, on the one hand, a candidate who seems comfortable doling out the kind of myths that undergirded racist violence. And on the other is a candidate who seems uncomfortable asking whether the history of racist violence, in and of itself, is worthy of confrontation.
These are options for a party of amnesiacs, for people whose politics are premised on forgetting. This is not a brief for staying home, because such a thing doesn't actually exist. In the American system of government, refusing to vote for the less-than-ideal is a vote for something much worse. Even when you don't choose, you choose. But you can choose with your skepticism fully intact. You can choose in full awareness of the insufficiency of your options, without elevating those who would have us forget into prophets. You can choose and still push, demanding more. It really isn't too much to say, if you're going to govern a country, you should know its history.
"No Cost" License Plate Readers Are Turning Texas Police into Mobile Debt Collectors and Data Miners | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 11:47
Vigilant Solutions, one of the country's largest brokers of vehicle surveillance technology, is offering a hell of a deal to law enforcement agencies in Texas: a whole suite of automated license plate reader (ALPR) equipment and access to the company's massive databases and analytical tools'--and it won't cost the agency a dime.
Even though the technology is marketed as budget neutral, that doesn't mean no one has to pay. Instead, Texas police fund it by gouging people who have outstanding court fines and handing Vigilant all of the data they gather on drivers for nearly unlimited commercial use.
ALPR refers to high-speed camera networks that capture license plate images, convert the plate numbers into machine-readable text, geotag and time-stamp the information, and store it all in database systems. EFF has long been concerned with this technology, because ALPRs typically capture sensitive location information on all drivers'--not just criminal suspects'--and, in aggregate, the information can reveal personal information, such as where you go to church, what doctors you visit, and where you sleep at night.
Vigilant is leveraging H.B. 121, a new Texas law passed in 2015 that allows officers to install credit and debit card readers in their patrol vehicles to take payment on the spot for unpaid court fines, also known as capias warrants. When the law passed, Texas legislators argued that not only would it help local government with their budgets, it would also benefit the public and police. As the bill's sponsor, Rep. Allen Fletcher, wrote in his official statement of intent:
[T]he option of making such a payment at the time of arrest could avoid contributing to already crowded jails, save time for arresting officers, and relieve minor offenders suddenly informed of an uncollected payment when pulled over for a routine moving violation from the burden of dealing with an impounded vehicle and the potential inconvenience of finding someone to supervise a child because of an unexpected arrest.
The bill was supported by the criminal justice reform groups such as the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, but it also raised concerns by respected criminal justice blogger Scott Henson of Grits For Breakfast, who theorized that the law, combined with ALPR technology, could allow police officers to ''cherry pick drivers with outstanding warrants instead of looking for current, real-time traffic violations.''
He further asked:
Are there enough departments deploying license plate readers to cause concern? Will they use them in such a fashion? How will anyone know? Is it possible to monitor'--or better, measure'--any shift in on-the-ground police priorities resulting from the new economic incentives created by the bill?
As it turns out, contracts between between Vigilant and Guadalupe County and the City of Kyle in Texas reveal that Henson was right to worry.
The ''warrant redemption'' program works like this. The agency is given no-cost license plate readers as well as free access to LEARN-NVLS, the ALPR data system Vigilant says contains more than 2.8-billion plate scans and is growing by more than 70-million scans a month. This also includes a wide variety of analytical and predictive software tools. Also, the agency is merely licensing the technology; Vigilant can take it back at any time.
The government agency in turn gives Vigilant access to information about all its outstanding court fees, which the company then turns into a hot list to feed into the free ALPR systems. As police cars patrol the city, they ping on license plates associated with the fees. The officer then pulls the driver over and offers them a devil's bargain: get arrested, or pay the original fine with an extra 25% processing fee tacked on, all of which goes to Vigilant. In other words, the driver is paying Vigilant to provide the local police with the technology used to identify and then detain the driver. If the ALPR pings on a parked car, the officer can get out and leave a note to visit Vigilant's payment website.
But Vigilant isn't just compensated with motorists' cash. The law enforcement agencies are also using the privacy of everyday drivers as currency.
Buried in the fine print of the contract with Vigilant is a clause that says the company also get to keep a copy of all the license-plate data collected by the agency, even after the contract ends. According the company's usage and privacy policy, Vigilant ''retains LPR data as long as it has commercial value.'' Vigilant can sell or license that information to other law enforcement bodies and potentially to private companies such as insurance firms and repossession agencies.
In early December 2015, Vigilant issued a press release bragging that Guadalupe County had used the systems to collect on more than 4,500 warrants between April and December 2015. In January 2016, the City of Kyle signed an identical deal with Vigilant. Soon after, Guadalupe County upgraded the contract to allow Vigilant to dispatch its own contractors to collect on capias warrants.
Alarmingly, in December, Vigilant also quietly issued an apology on its website for a major error:
During the second week of December, as part of its Warrant Redemption Program, Vigilant Solutions sent several warrant notices '' on behalf of our law enforcement partners '' in error to citizens across the state of Texas. A technical error caused us to send warrant notices to the wrong recipients.
These types of mistakes are not acceptable and we deeply apologize to those who received the warrant correspondence in error and to our law enforcement customers.
Vigilant is right: this is not acceptable. Yet, the company has not disclosed the extent of the error, how many people were affected, how much money was collected that shouldn't have been, and what it's doing to inform and make it up to the people affected. Instead, the company simply stated that it had ''conducted a thorough review of the incident and have implemented several internal policies.''
We're unlikely to get answers from the government agencies who signed these contracts. To access Vigilant's powerful online data systems, agencies agree not to disparage the company or even to talk to the press without the company's permission:
You shall not create, publish, distribute, or permit any written, electronically transmitted or other form of publicity material that makes reference to the LEARN LPR Database Server or this Agreement without first submitting the material to Vigilant and receiving written consent from Vigilant thereto'...
You agree not to use proprietary materials or information in any manner that is disparaging. This prohibition is specifically intended to preclude you from cooperating or otherwise agreeing to allow photographs or screenshots to be taken by any member of the media without the express consent of LEARN-NVLS. You also agree not to voluntarily provide ANY information, including interviews, related to LEARN products or its services to any member of the media without the express written consent of LEARN-NVLS.
You might very well ask at this point about the legality of this scheme. Vigilant anticipated that and provided the City of Kyle with a slide titled ''Can I Really Do This?'' which cited a law that they believe allows for the 25% surcharge.
The law states that a county or municipality ''may only charge a fee for the access or service if the fee is designed to recover the costs directly and reasonably incurred in providing the access or service.''
We believe that a 25% fee is not reasonable and doesn't recover just the direct costs, since the fee is actually paying for the whole ALPR system, including surveillance capabilities unrelated to warrant redemption, such as access to the giant LEARN-NVLS database and software suite.
Beyond that, the system raises a whole host of problems:
It turns police into debt collectors, who have to keep swiping credit cards to keep the free equipment.It turns police into data miners, who use the privacy of local drivers as currency.It not-so-subtly shifts police priorities from responding to calls and traffic violations to responding to a computer's instructions.Policy makers and the public are unable to effectively evaluate the technology since the contract prohibits police from speaking honestly and openly about the program.The model relies on debt: there's no incentive for criminal justice leaders to work with the community to reduce the number of capias warrants, since that could result in losing the equipment.People who have committed no crimes whatsoever have their driving patterns uploaded into a private system and no opportunity to control or watchdog how that data is disseminated. There was a time where companies like Vigilant marketed ALPR technology as a way to save kidnapped children, recover stolen cars, and catch violent criminals. But as we've long warned, ALPRs in fact are being deployed for far more questionable practices.
The Texas public should be outraged at the terrible deals their representatives are signing with this particular surveillance contractor, and the legislature should reexamine the unintended consequences of the law they passed last year.
Experts Recommend Everybody Be Screened For Depression
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 11:41
Good news for adults struggling with depression everywhere, but particularly pregnant and postpartum women fighting the baby blues and beyond: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government-appointed panel of health experts, has just recommended universal depression screening at the primary care level for all adults, including pregnant and postpartum women.
The recommendation comes after the panel found evidence that the screening is helpful when paired with treatment, and poses little to no risk. The news also comes after new research that shows maternal depression has long been misunderstood.
While medical professionals all the way back to Hippocrates have known that sometimes new mothers get depressed, they've often missed how early in the pregnancy it can occur, and to what extent women are plagued by it during and after. The postpartum depression nonprofit and support community has endorsed universal depression screening as a hopeful step forward.
''We actually think it's very positive, and the reason is one in seven mothers experience depression or anxiety either during pregnancy, or in the postpartum period,'' said Sharon Gerdes, vice president of Postpartum Support International, whose website offers resources in every state for women suffering from perinatal or postpartum depression. ''Postpartum depression comes in many shades of blue, and we feel screening is a way to identify those women and get them the help they need to be well.''
While women with a history of depression or mental illness are particularly vulnerable, research from 2014 shows that such symptoms can appear without warning in those even without a history, which makes screening a critical tool in identifying mothers who would not otherwise be prone to interpret their own symptoms as depression, or as likely to speak up in a medical setting.
Postpartum depression is most common in the first year after giving birth, and some 20 percent of women who experience it have suicidal thoughts, according to the American Psychological Association. The other symptoms of postpartum depression can be wide-ranging, examples include struggling to nurse, discontinuing nursing, family conflict, and child abuse or neglect. The highly publicized cases of postpartum psychosis, which tend to get more attention for their extreme manifestations, occur in only some .1 percent of postpartum women.
More common is experiencing anxiety, sadness, an inability to connect with your newborn, or a range of intrusive thoughts about harming your baby that make getting through the simplest aspects of early parenting difficult or impossible. In the Timeslook at research from 2014 on maternal illness, they chronicle stories from women who describe some of those disturbing thoughts, which include visions of suffocating an infant, slamming them against a wall, racing thoughts or voices saying a child will be stolen. Others admit to fantasizing about abandoning their child, sometimes stopping just short of harming them during feedings or baths.
It's important to understand that these women are not likely to follow through on such thoughts, rather, they're more likely to go to what Wendy N. Davis, the executive director of Postpartum Support International, told the Times are ''extreme measures'' to prevent themselves from harming their children. One woman ''scooched downstairs on her butt for months because she'd imagined throwing her baby downstairs,'' said Davis.
Dr. Katherine L. Wisner, a professor of psychiatry and obstetrics at Northwestern University who was part of the largest maternal depression screening research in 2013, told the Times that symptoms of depression are not always easy for health providers to detect, because lack of sleep and feeling moody are also part and parcel of being pregnant. Plus, doctors have long been told that ''women don't get depressed during pregnancy because they are happy.''
Those misconceptions make it incredibly difficult for women to distinguish between the normal baby blues, postpartum depression, or something more serious, given that the hormone crashes and intense feelings are considered a given part of pregnancy and recovery from childbirth. Further, the cultural depiction of the serene, glowing pregnant woman pressures women to outwardly project the same image, no matter how much they're struggling inside.
Other barriers to women getting help during pregnancy for depression come not from the women but their providers, and are bleak reminders of the sometimes fearful litigious medical climate. ''Ob-gyns thought that if they identify something and don't have resources to support it, it puts them at significant legal risk,'' Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, the director of the perinatal psychiatry program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told the Times. Furthermore, pediatricians may notice a struggling mother, but feel their patient is the child and not the mother, she added.
While a dozen states currently have recommendations for screenings in place'--Texas, Virginia, Illinois, New York among them'--only New Jersey legally requires them. But their experience may be a somewhat cautionary tale, as New Jersey reports that without enough treatment options, the screening alone isn't enough, and still fails the many women who sought treatment on Medicaid.
And that's the other crucial half of this process. The USPSTF recommends that primary care physicians start with this depression screening questionnaire, but that's just the beginning.
''This is not a cure all,'' Katherine Stone writes at Atlanta nonprofit Postpartum Progress, which pairs women with resources for dealing with postpartum anxiety and depression, and also endorses the universal screening recommendation. ''This is not the magic fix to all of our problems. This is a step. And yet, every step we take forward is a good thing. Every barrier we get past may help us as we try to break the barriers that still remain.''
Beyond this, the screening simply helps raise awareness and reduces the stigma still associated with perinatal illness. Gerdes says Postpartum International is part of an international task force currently creating the first ever World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day. It's slated for May 4, 2016.
''So we are really pleased not only in the United States, but around the world, that people are realizing that screening and health is important for new mothers,'' Gerdes added. ''It is part of our universal message to new mothers: You are not alone, you are not to blame, and we can help you be well.''
Refugee crisis: EU ministers vote to end passport-free travel | The Week UK
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 00:52
Passport checks could be re-introduced between neighbouring EU nations and Greece faces being "effectively sealed off" as Europe struggles to control the influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.
For more than 20 years, the Schengen agreement has allowed free movement between 26 European nations. This is now under threat after politicians in Amsterdam yesterday agreed it should be suspended for two years.
Speaking after the talks, Dutch immigration minister Klaas Dijkhoff said Schengen member governments would ask the European Commission for permission to put the agreement on hold.
"These measures are inevitable at this point in time," he added.
The refugee crisis is the "biggest challenge the union has faced", says The Guardian, adding that the talks were characterised by "gloom and confusion in the face of ever-rising numbers of people heading into Greece from Turkey".
Greece itself came under special scrutiny during the summit. It now faces being "effectively sealed off" after ministers discussed re-defining the Schengen zone to exclude the country altogether, says the Daily Telegraph.
There were also calls on Greece to set up vast holding camps for as many as 300,000 refugees in an attempt to stem the flow. At the moment, the country does not attempt to register migrants and refugees or prevent them from heading deeper into Europe.
Athens reacted with "fury" to the proposals, continues the Telegraph, with ministers saying they would turn Greece into a "cemetery of souls".
The crisis "threatens to tear the EU apart", adds the newspaper, with British Home Secretary Theresa May telling the summit: "Unfortunately, what we've had is more talk than action."
May is a noted Eurosceptic and could lead the No campaign in the EU referendum, says the Telegraph. However, the UK vote may not happen this summer if the refugee crisis and Schengen dominate next month's EU summit.
Refugee crisis 'putting EU in grave danger'22 January
The ongoing refugee crisis is putting the Europe Union in grave danger of collapse, it was claimed yesterday.
Speaking at the Word Economic Forum in Davos, European leaders said the passport-free Schengen zone is at risk of collapse unless the flow of asylum-seekers can be stemmed.
More than a million refugees arrived in Europe last year, with Syria lying at the epicentre of the crisis. At least four million people have fled the country since the civil war began in 2011.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said more than 35,000 people had made the sea crossing from Turkey into Greece in the first three weeks of 2016 and that the situation was reaching breaking point.
"When spring comes, the numbers will quadruple. We cannot cope with the numbers any longer," he said. "We need to get a grip on this issue in the next six to eight weeks."
EU leaders are still hoping to reach an agreement which would see states agree to accept quotas of refugees, but admitted such a deal remained elusive, says Reuters.
Austria this week announced it would be capping the number of people allowed to apply for asylum at 1.5 per cent of its population, raising fears of a "domino effect" across Europe.
Rutte's comments were echoed by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who told the BBC the crisis was putting Europe in grave danger and called for the external borders to be secured.
"If Europe is not capable of protecting its own borders, it's the very idea of Europe that will be questioned," he warned.
Refugee crisis: Europe set to scrap 'first country' rule20 January
The European Union looks set to scrap rules that say refugees must be dealt with by the first European country they enter.
The change will "revolutionise" Europe's migration policy and "shift the burden from its southern flank to its wealthier northern members", says the Financial Times.
The present policy, which has become "politically toxic" for EU leaders, essentially broke down last year, when Germany waived its right to send hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers back to other EU member states, says the newspaper.
Nevertheless, "frontier countries" such as Greece and Italy have faced criticism for failing to properly shelter and register more than one million people who have come into Europe from the Middle East and North Africa.
Brussels says the current rule is "unfair" and "outdated" and is expected to reform the system, part of the so-called Dublin Regulation, in a proposal to be unveiled in March, officials told the FT.
As a consequence, Britain may find it more difficult to send refugees back to neighbouring EU states, further encouraging them to head to the UK '' a change that could be "problematic" for David Cameron ahead of Britain's EU referendum, claims The Independent.
"One of the main arguments of the British campaign to remain in the EU is that the regulations allow the UK to deport asylum-seekers if Britain is not the first European country that they arrived in," it says.
"If those regulations were to be changed, the UK might be forced to accept refugees who have managed to enter the country from across the Channel, regardless of where they first arrived in Europe."
However, the newspaper notes that "with no land border with any other country in the passport-free Schengen zone, Britain is not expected to see a strong surge in migration".
According to the Daily Telegraph, Britain is currently allowed to deport around 1,000 failed asylum-seekers a year to other EU states. A move to change these rules would "present Downing Street with a bruising battle in the middle of the renegotiation".
Turkey accused of illegally deporting 'up to hundreds' of refugees to Syria15 January
Amnesty International has accused Turkey of breaking local and international law by deporting refugees back to Syria.
The charity claims that scores - and possibly several hundred '' of refugees have been detained and forced to cross back into a war zone by Turkish authorities.
"Covert detention, deportation to a war zone: the charges are grave," says the BBC's Mark Lowen.
Andrew Gardner, the head of Amnesty in Turkey, says such treatment is "absolutely illegal because you cannot forcibly return someone to a place where their lives and rights are in danger".
He adds that Europe needs to "wake up" to the fact international law is being broken on its own borders.
Refugees spoke of how they had been mistreated at EU-funded detention centres and then transported back to the border, where they were coerced into signing voluntary return documents.
"They drove us to the border and forced us to sign a piece of paper on which was written, 'I want to go back to Syria,'" said one man.
"I didn't want to go back to Syria. Some of my friends have now been put in prison there, and many people were afraid of returning to a war zone."
An estimated two million Syrian refugees are now in Turkey. Last November, Ankara signed a deal with the EU to receive '‚¬3bn (£2.2bn) in exchange for slowing the flow of refugees to Europe.
"But that is contingent on improving conditions for refugees so more feel they can stay here, not deporting them back to a war zone," says Lowen.
Turkey has "categorically denied" the accusations and insists the United Nations' refugee agency interviews all returnees at the border to make sure they're going to Syria voluntarily.
Denmark debates seizing valuables from refugees 13 January
Danish MPs are debating a controversial immigration bill which would allow the government to seize valuables from refugees arriving in the country.
Under the proposed legislation, police will be given the power to confiscate gold, money and other items of value worth more than 10,000 kroner (around £1,000).
The bill was recently amended to allow asylum seekers to keep items that hold sentimental value. Items with a practical use '' such as mobile phones and watches '' will also be exempt.
The move has prompted comparisons to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany and been condemned by the United Nations' refugee agency, which warns it could further fuel fear and xenophobia.
"Refugees have lost their homes and almost everything they possess," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told the BBC.
"It beggars belief that somebody would want to strip them away from the little they have managed to salvage from their lives."
The ruling centre-right Venstre party defended the law, calling it the "most misunderstood bill in Denmark's history".
Integration minister Inger Stojberg said similar laws already apply to Danish nationals seeking help from the welfare state.
"It is already the case that if you as a Dane have valuables for more than 10,000 kroner, it may be required that this is sold before you can receive unemployment benefits," she said.
Denmark is thought to have accepted 20,000 refugees last year, far fewer than neighbouring Sweden, which welcomed 163,000.
The bill will be voted on later this month and the Venstre party will require support from the Danish People's Party, the Liberal Alliance and the Conservative People's Party if it is to pass.
Refugee crisis: Sweden imposes ID checks at key link4 January 2016
Sweden has introduced border checks for travellers from Denmark to stem the influx of migrants.
From today, all train, bus and ferry passengers on the Oresund bridge-and-tunnel link will be required to show photo identification before being allowed across the border, reports the BBC.
Lengthy delays are expected at the link, which has been a major entry point for migrants and refugees. Travellers had been able to cross borders between the two Nordic countries without passports since the late 1950s.
The Swedish government hopes the move will keep out undocumented migrants. Sweden, which received more than 150,000 asylum applications in 2015, has taken in more asylum seekers per capita than any other European nation. It says it can no longer cope with the unregulated flow of new arrivals.
But a spokesman for the United Nations said it viewed the development with "growing concern". Mattias Axelsson, from UNHCR in northern Europe, told a Swedish news agency: "There is a tremendous strain to be on the run and you cannot expect that those who are entitled to asylum will also have the right documents with them from the beginning '' it is quite impossible."
Passenger groups are also concerned. After a temporary fence was built at Copenhagen airport's Kastrup station, where trains will be stopped for the mandatory controls, a spokesman for the Kystbanen commuters' association said: "It's as if we are building a Berlin Wall here. We are going several steps back in time."
Sweden has secured a temporary exemption from the European Union's open-border Schengen agreement, in order to impose the border controls.
Several other European Union countries, including Germany, Austria and France, also re-imposed border checks last year as the continent faced a major refugee crisis. One million migrants arrived in Europe by land or sea in 2015, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
Refugees sew lips shut in protest at Macedonian border24 November
Refugees have sewn their lips together in protest against not being allowed to cross the border into Macedonia.
A group of men, some of whom were believed to be from Iran's Kurdish minority, staged the protest after authorities deemed them to be "economic migrants" and denied them entry into the country.
Balkans nations have tightened border controls in the wake of the Paris attacks and will only accept those fleeing war in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, the BBC reports.
The decision has left thousands of people, including young children escaping conflict in other parts of the world, stranded in the remote village of Idomeni in Greece.
Asked where he wanted to go, an Iranian man involved in the protests told Sky News: "To any free country in the world. I cannot go back. I will be hanged," he said.
Temperatures continue to plummet and aid organisations are growing increasingly concerned about refugees forced to spend winter out in the open.
"Cold weather is coming to Europe at greater speed than its leadership's ability to make critical decisions," The Guardian reports.
Peter Bouckaert, the director of emergencies for Human Rights Watch, has accused European institutions of failing to respond to the humanitarian disaster. Those in need are forced to rely on volunteers for basic needs like shelter, food, clothes and medical assistance, he says.
"We have found out that one country after the other are closing their borders," said Marian, a 24-year-old refugee from Afghanistan. "With winter just around the corner, what will happen to us? What will happen to my children?"
Refugee crisis: is border-free Europe on the verge of collapse?20 November
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned that Europe's passport-free zone could collapse in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.
The free movement of people guaranteed under the Schengen agreement is one of the founding principles of the EU, but it has come under increasing pressure during the ongoing refugee crisis.
The events in the French capital have increased support for tighter controls, with Valls saying some of those involved in the attacks may have taken advantage of the "chaos" at Europe's borders.
One of the suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacks left a fake Syrian passport at the scene. He had allegedly used it to gain entry into the EU through Greece.
Valls's warning comes as leaders meet for yet more crisis talks in Brussels. Today's emergency security summit is likely to result in increased checks across the union's borders, says Sky News.
A number of European nations have already introduced temporary controls at their own borders as they struggle to deal with huge influx of people coming through the EU's porous external frontiers.
But these security checks can are allowed for a maximum of two months and are only allowed for "public policy or national security" reasons.
"What you hear repeatedly from European officials and politicians is this: if the EU's external borders cannot be fixed then the Schengen zone cannot survive," says the BBC.
Finland's interior minister, Petteri Orpo, is among those warning that the end of the agreement is looming. "Tens of thousands of people were coming into Europe and they are not being registered," he warned. "We don't know who they are."
But the Centre for European Reform argues that Europe should not dismantle Schengen '' but rather improve the system by processing refugees more effectively, boosting external border security and sharing intelligence.
It also suggests that the fake Syrian passport in Paris could have been a deliberate plot to reignite the debate about Europe's asylum policies.
"Why would a terrorist leave a passport behind? European governments should not fall into [the] trap by responding with knee-jerk reactions such as closing borders."
Doing so would also do nothing to stop home-grown terrorists '' like the French and Belgian nationals involved in the Paris attacks '' as international law prohibits a country from denying entry to its own nationals.
So what does this mean for the future of the Schengen? "It is most unlikely that the Schengen agreement will be suspended because it is a core European freedom," says the BBC's Gavin Hewitt.
"What is more likely in the weeks ahead is that countries in the Schengen zone quietly begin reinforcing their national borders."
Refugee crisis: is EU aid offer to Africa 'bordering on blackmail'?11 November
European leaders are meeting with their African counterparts at a summit in Malta today to discuss solutions to the worsening refugee crisis.
On the table is a controversial proposal to increase funding and other forms of aid to African nations that help stop the flow of hundreds of thousands of people across the Mediterranean.
"The aim is to tackle the economic and security problems that cause people to flee," reports the BBC. It is also hoped the deal will help persuade countries to take back failed asylum seekers.
European Council President Donald Tusk said efforts would focus on poverty reduction and conflict prevention. "It also includes the issue of taking back those who do not yet qualify for a visa, or those who do not require international protection," he said on the eve of the summit.
The European Commission is in the process of setting up a '‚¬1.8bn "trust fund" for Africa and is encouraging its 28-member states to match that amount '' though this seems unlikely.
Observers have raised a number of concerns about the proposals. There are fears human rights could suffer if African nations seeking aid benefits prevent refugees from fleeing.
Cecile Kyenge, a Congo-born Italian member of the European parliament said the offer was "bordering on blackmail," according to South Africa's News24.
There are also concerns that plans to sharply reduce the number of people arriving in Europe would cut off a vital source of remittance income from their economies, Channel 4 News reports.
The United Nation estimates that nearly 800,000 refugees have arrived in Europe so far this year, while more than 3,000 have died or gone missing making the dangerous journey.
The vast majority of them are fleeing war in countries like Syria and Iraq, but many are also escaping conflict in Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia.
Today's summit comes as yet more deaths are reported in the Mediterranean. At least 14 people, including seven children, drowned after their boat sank between Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos.
Refugee crisis: Tony Abbott tells Europe it should turn back boats28 November
Former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has raised eyebrows with a speech condemning Europe's response to the growing refugee crisis.
In his first major speech since being ousted from power, Abbott told guests at an annual event in London to honour Margaret Thatcher that "misguided altruism" was "leading Europe into catastrophic error".
More than 670,000 people have entered Europe this year in the largest migration since the end of the Second World War. The vast majority of them are fleeing war in countries like Syria and Iraq.
But Abbott disputed these facts, arguing that many of those arriving in Europe are economic migrants. He urged EU leaders to urgently adopt Australia's hardline policy towards refugees and migrants.
"This means turning boats around, for people coming by sea," he said to applause from the Conservative crowd. "It means denying entry at the border, for people with no legal right to come. And it means establishing camps for people who have nowhere to go."
He admitted such hard action "will gnaw at our consciences - yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever".
Abbott's stance was praised by Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who described his speech as "heroic".
"There is a very big difference between being a civilised country that recognises that there are genuine refugees from time to time and having a lunatic policy that I'm afraid [Europe] has pushed," Farage said.
However, his comments weren't as well received by opposition politicians and human rights groups at home. "I'm not sure Tony Abbott on a victory lap giving a Margaret Thatcher Lecture is exactly what Europe needs to solve its problems," opposition leader Bill Shorten told ABC News.
The president of the Refugee Council of Australia, Phil Glendenning, warned that Abbott's approach would have horrific consequences. "It would be an utter catastrophe if people fleeing from persecution were told to go back there, were pushed back to sea where they would likely drown," he said.
Australia's refugee response has been widely condemned by human rights organisations in recent years. Authorities refuse to accept boats carrying asylum seekers, instead sending them to offshore detention camps where allegations of abuse are widespread.
Refugees 'will freeze to death' in the Balkans unless Europe unites26 October
Refugees will freeze to death in the Balkans unless European leaders can offer a coordinated response to the growing crisis, senior officials and aid agencies have warned.
European leaders managed to agree on a raft of new measures at an emergency summit in Brussels this weekend, but deep divisions remain over how to respond to the crisis.
The new plan involves increasing the capacity of reception centres in Greece and the Balkans by 100,000 as well as strengthening border controls along Greek and Slovenian borders.
But the deal is nothing but "a watered down version" of the co-operation European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had been hoping for, says the BBC's Lucy Williamson.
Even before the summit began, Croatia's Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said the "unrealistic" plan had been created by someone "who had just woken up from a months-long sleep".
The Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksander Vucic, said the agreement would not be "immediately helpful" to refugees already in Europe. We're looking at "small steps," he said.
More than 670,000 people have crossed into Europe this year in the largest movement of people since the end of the Second World War. Nearly 10,000 refugees arrived every day in Greece last week.
Juncker says a solution is urgently needed as thousands of refugees could freeze to death when temperatures begin to plummet in the Balkans. "Every day counts," he said, according to the Daily Telegraph. "Otherwise we will soon see families in cold rivers in the Balkans perish miserably."
His calls are echoed by human rights organisations which warn that refugees won't survive the winter without immediate help.
"As winter looms, the sight of thousands of refugees sleeping rough as they make their way through Europe represents a damning indictment of the EU's failure to offer a coordinated response to the crisis," says John Dalhuisen of Amnesty International.
The latest EU agreement comes as the bodies of men, women and children continue to wash up on Europe's shores. A woman and two children drowned and seven other people are missing after their boat sunk off the Greek island of Lesbos.
Neo-Nazis infiltrating refugee centres, German media reports22 October
Far-right extremists are infiltrating refugee centres across Germany and putting refugees at risk, an investigation by the German state broadcaster has revealed.
The ZDF documentary highlighted several cases where men with ties to far-right extremist groups were working in hostels housing asylum seekers.
In one case, a convicted member of the neo-Nazi group Sturm 18 was employed as a security guard in the city of Heidelberg, The Daily Telegraph reports.
In another case near the city of Dresden, a man was suspended from his job at a hostel for allegedly posting an image on Facebook which redefined the word Nazi as "Not Adjustable to Islamisation".
The documentary blamed the infiltration on poor screening, with a separate investigation by authorities in Brandenburg revealing that many known extremists are working in the security sector, the Telegraph says.
The investigations come amid a surge in support for the far-right movement in Germany, led largely by the Pegida group.
Dubbed "Nazis in pinstripes", the group's members oppose the German government's willingness to accept up to 800,000 refugees fleeing conflict in places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Earlier this week, Pegida marked its first anniversary with a large rally in Dresden. One of the speakers at the event is currently under investigation for hate speech after inflammatory comments about refugees.
"Of course there are other alternatives," he told cheering crowds, "but the concentration camps are unfortunately out of action at the moment."
German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the movement was "a reservoir of racist xenophobia" and accused Pegida's leaders of using the "battle rhetoric" of the early Nazi party.
Despite Pegida's surge in popularity, their rallies are often outnumbered by counter-demonstrations and support for refugees is sweeping the nation, The Guardian reported last month.
"Thousands of Germans have pitched in; they take food and clothes to the camps, take refugees to meetings with the authorities in their own cars, pay their fares, foot their medical bills, teach German, and go on demonstrations against rightwing attacks across the country."
Refugee crisis: thousands stranded in Balkans19 October
Thousands of refugees remain stranded in the Balkans after their path to Western Europe was stalled by new controls.
Following the closure to refugees of Hungary's border with Croatia on Friday, Croatia asked its neighbour Slovenia to accept 5,000 refugees daily. But in a bid to limit the flow of people into Western Europe, Slovenia '' a country of two million people '' said it would take only half that number.
This led to thousands spending the night in the open air, in cold and wet conditions, while nearly two thousand people were stranded on a train near the border. Some of the passengers disembarked and walked along the tracks, wrapped in plastic sheeting to protect themselves against the rain.
Hungary closed its border after its right-wing government said the mainly Muslim migrants posed a threat to Europe's prosperity, security and "Christian values". The unrelenting flow of people was then diverted to Slovenia, which is now accepting only around 2,500 arrivals daily, massively stalling the movement of people as they fled their countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
This has led to crowded and shambolic scenes at the border. A reporter said exhausted and cold refugees chanted: "Open the gate, open the gate!"
Meanwhile, a charity official working at the border says the situation is deteriorating. "We don't have any more raincoats," Dr Ramiz Momeni, director of the UK-based Humanitas Charity, told Reuters.
"There's a bottleneck of people that can't get anywhere so they have to stay here in the rain. Some of these people have been here under sheets for 12 hours. Of course, they're going to get sick."
Refugee crisis: EU and Turkey agree action plan16 October
The EU and Turkey have agreed an action plan to try to stem the flow of refugees from the Middle East, most of them Syrians travelling through Turkey to reach Europe. Turkey has agreed to take concrete steps in return for "political support".
The BBC says that the EU has agreed to look again at Turkey becoming a member state and to accelerate visa liberalisation for Turks wanting to enter the open-bordered Schengen area of Europe. Turkey has also asked for '‚¬3bn (£2.2bn) in financial aid.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to travel to Istanbul on Sunday for further talks with the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said he felt "cautious optimism" as he announced the plan in Brussels last night.
But the Guardian warns that the chances of a "meaningful pact with Ankara" to stem the flow of refugees are slim and would probably entail Europe accepting many of the two million displaced Syrians currently in Turkey.
Every area of discussion at yesterday's summit, the fourth this year on refugees, was "hotly contested", says the paper. Diplomats said afterwards that the '‚¬3bn aid package was not available and warned of resistance among Schengen leaders to the visa proposal.
Nothing was finalised in Brussels, warns the paper. The German chancellor admitted that there was "still a huge amount to do" and could only say that the talks have "not achieved nothing".
"The likelihood is high that the actions following the summit will fail to match the rhetoric," says the Guardian.
Also discussed at the summit yesterday were German and European Commission plans to force member states to take refugees on a quota basis '' and the beefed-up policing of the EU frontier, measures the Guardian calls "repressive".
According to the Daily Telegraph, some 350,000 people have entered Europe via Turkey since January. The paper quotes Merkel as saying it "makes sense" for the EU to give Turkey the '‚¬3bn that the Telegraph dubs a "sweetener".
Merkel points out that Turkey has spent '‚¬7bn coping with the influx of refugees and policing its borders.
Refugee centre worker stabbed to death by migrant in Sweden - Yahoo News
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 21:19
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Breaking Alert: Potential Active Shooter at San Diego, CA Naval Hospital | SOFREP
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 20:49
SA potential active shooter scenario at a San Diego, CA Naval hospital. Initial reports are that the shooting occurred in building #26 which appears (from the map below) to be the security, pass and decal building. SOFREP will provide more details as this develops, meanwhile for active social media updates mouse over and scroll down for a live social media feed on this incident below.
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Police officers flee angry migrant mob in Swedish refugee center through back door '-- RT News
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 17:37
A police patrol of 10 officers was forced to flee a refugee center in Sweden after being surrounded by a mob of violent migrants. Law enforcement officials had arrived to relocate a 10-year-old boy after reports of his repeated rape at the facility.
One of the officers described what had happened in a police report obtained by the Vestmanlands L¤ns Tidning newspaper.
''Even more people appeared behind us. I was mentally prepared to fight for my life. We were 10 police officers in a narrow corridor. And I hear someone yell that there is an emergency exit,'' the officer said.
The incident took place in the Signalisten asylum in V¤ster¥s last Wednesday but police didn't provide any information to the press until Monday this week.
Read more
The authorities decided to relocate some of the refugees from the Signalisten asylum after reports on Saturday that the boy was being subjected to repeated rape there. However, the asylum staff were unable to complete the transfer by themselves as they were met by hostile attitude from the refugees, so they called the police.
With Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven stating on Monday that more staff are needed among the police dealing with an influx of asylum seekers, it's clear that the authorities and the police are struggling to keep things under control.
''Many of the problems we are now facing help to prove the point that Swedish police have long been underfunded and understaffed,'' Police Union Director Lena Nitz, told TT news agency.
Just this Monday a young woman, a refugee center worker in M¶lndal, was stabbed to death when an argument broke out at the center for underage unaccompanied refugees. Alexandra Mezher, 22, was taken to hospital with severe injuries and later died.
She was stabbed by a 15-year-old boy who was later arrested on suspicion of murder. Mezher's thesis was titled 'The Road to Non-Criminal - A Lifestyle Change'. She believed that creating a trustful relationship with people was key for a social worker. The center where she worked housed 10 youths aged between 14 and 17.
READ MORE: Woman stabbed to death in Swedish refugee facility
Police have warned citizens that train stations are overrun by gangs of refugee boys who assault and grope women, and pickpocket and harass passengers.
A number of girls in Stockholm have reported sexual assault in public swimming pools, again involving asylum seekers.
Freelancers Walk Out at MTV Networks - NYTimes.com
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:34
Scores of workers from MTV Networks walked off the job yesterday afternoon, filling the sidewalk outside the headquarters of its corporate parent, Viacom, to protest recent changes in benefits.
The walkout highlighted the concerns of a category of workers who are sometimes called permalancers: permanent freelancers who work like full-time employees but do not receive the same benefits.
Waving signs that read ''Shame on Viacom,'' the workers, most of them in their 20s, demanded that MTV Networks reverse a plan to reduce health and dental benefits for freelancers beginning Jan. 1.
In a statement, MTV Networks noted that its benefits program for full-time employees had also undergone changes, and it emphasized that the plan for freelancers was still highly competitive within the industry. Many freelancers receive no corporate benefits.
Freelance workers from MTV Networks outside the headquarters of the company's corporate parent, Viacom, on Monday.
Oscar Hidalgo for The New York Times
But some of the protesters asserted that corporations were competing to see which could provide the most mediocre health care coverage. Matthew Yonda, who works at Nickelodeon, held a sign that labeled the network ''Sick-elodeon.''
''I've worked here every day for three years '-- I'm not a freelancer,'' Mr. Yonda said. ''They just call us freelancers in order to bar us from getting the same benefits as employees.''
MTV Networks owns MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and some smaller cable networks and Web sites.
Sara Horowitz, the founder of the Freelancers Union, an organization of 40,000 New York area freelancers, said permalancing was widespread, particularly in the media industry. Protests, however, are not.
''I really think it's getting to a point where people are not willing to take it anymore,'' she said.
As the sky above Times Square threatened rain, the group of freelancers stretched along Broadway, filling almost an entire block. The largely unorganized protest found its footing when a worker climbed atop a garbage can and urged the group to focus on its demands.
''We care about dental. We care about health care. We care about our 401(k)s,'' the group chanted.
The changes to the benefits package were announced last Tuesday. Freelancers were told that they would become eligible for benefits after 160 days of work, beginning in January. While that eased previous eligibility rules, which required freelancers to work for 52 weeks before becoming eligible, it would have required all freelancers not yet eligible for benefits to start the waiting period over again on Jan. 1. The 401(k) plan was also removed.
On Thursday, acknowledging the complaints, MTV Networks reinstated the 401(k) plan and said freelancers who had worked consistently since March would be eligible for the new benefits package without an additional wait. Still, other changes continued to cause anger.
Fueled by a series of blog posts on the media Web site Gawker '-- the first post was headlined ''The Viacom Permalance Slave System'' '-- a loose cohort of freelancers created protest stickers and distributed walkout fliers last week.
Caroline O'Hare, a unit manager who has worked for MTV for more than two years, said the new health care plan '-- with higher deductibles and a $2,000 cap on hospital expenses each year '-- had provoked outrage.
''They think they can treat us like children that don't have families, mortgages or dreams of retirement,'' she said.
Outside Viacom's headquarters, several workers held posters with the words, ''There's too many of us to ignore.'' It was unclear how many freelancers are on the company's payroll; an MTV Networks spokeswoman said the figure was not known because it rises and falls throughout the year. The company has 5,500 full-time employees, excluding freelancers, around the world.
Two freelancers and one full-time employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, estimated that the percentage of freelancers in some departments exceeded 75 percent.
Another labor action is expected to take place outside Viacom later this week. Members of the Writers Guild of America, who have been on strike for five weeks, are expected to picket there on Thursday.
MU professor Melissa Click, who called for 'muscle' to remove reporter, charged with assault | The Kansas City Star
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:20
Melissa Click, the University of Missouri communications professor who garnered widespread scorn for trying to physically remove a student reporter from a campus protest, was formally charged with assault Monday morning.
A spokeswoman for the Columbia prosecutor's office said Click was charged with third-degree assault, a class C misdemeanor that carries a possible 15-day jail sentence.
''This is a very bad situation for us all,'' interim Chancellor Hank Foley said at a university news conference Monday afternoon,. He also apologized to the students involved in faculty attempts to block media from documenting a campus protest on Nov. 9.
Click was caught on video calling for ''some muscle'' to remove a student reporter from an area on the campus where protesters had gathered.
Mark Schierbecker, an MU student and videographer, has accused Click of grabbing his camera and pushing him while he was making the video. His video also included a confrontation between another student journalist, Tim Tai, and Janna Basler, the assistant director for Greek life and leadership at MU. Basler was later put on administrative leave.
The protests eventually led to the resignation of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and Mizzou Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. During the news conference, Foley said a university task force consisting of faculty members, students, administrators and staff has been formed to look into what happened on Nov. 9 that led to the Click charges.
Click remains an assistant professor in the department of communications. Foley said Click is seeking full tenure at the school, and that process won't be completed until this summer. Click is working from home this week and could not be reached for comment Monday.
Last month a group of 100 Republican state legislators publicly called for the university to fire Click. They were joined last month by David Steelman, a member of the university system's board of curators.
In response, a group of more than 100 Mizzou faculty wrote a letter of support for Click to the university's leadership.
Foley said on Monday that those 100 signatures represented only a small portion of the more than 1,000 ranked faculty members at MU. And he said those calling for the chancellor to fire Click outright ''have a misunderstanding about how things work here. The role of the chancellor is not the same as CEO of a for-profit corporation.''
Click is about a third of the way through what is sometimes a yearlong process toward gaining tenure status, Foley said. Tenure affords faculty certain protections against termination.
The tenure process reviews a professor's body of work, including research, teaching, scholarship and service, and considers conduct when it is relevant. A recommendation on tenure is made to the chancellor who ultimately would decide whether Click ''is someone who should receive tenure at this university,'' Foley said. He described the process as careful and thorough.
Professors who are not awarded tenure are terminated within a year, Foley said.
For now Foley has asked the MU provost along with the dean of the College of Arts and Science and head of the communications department to review whether Click should remain in the classroom while the assault case plays out.
''We are confident she does not pose any danger to any student,'' Foley said. He added, though, that as the case moves forward it could ''become an awkward and odd situation'' for the classroom.
In the end, Click's behavior on Nov. 9 could affect whether she gains tenure at the University of Missouri, said Ben Trachtenberg, an associate law professor and chairman of the MU Faculty Council. He said it's possible the tenure review teams would consider whether Click's behavior is off kilter from what is expected of tenured faculty at MU.
''But I would like to think that any decisions would be fair and based on facts,'' Trachtenberg said. ''We don't know what the facts are yet.''
University of Missouri faculty support professor whom Republicans want fired | The Kansas City Star
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:20
University of Missouri faculty members on Tuesday came out in support of Melissa Click, the embattled MU professor who famously asked for some ''muscle'' to move a student journalist away from protesters during anti-racism protests on campus in November.
On Monday, a group of more than 100 Republicans in the state General Assembly demanded, in a letter to the MU Board of Curators, that the university immediately fire Click, an assistant communications professor at the Columbia campus.
As a counter to the lawmakers' letter, MU faculty made public a letter that had been sent in December to university department deans, top administrators and the Faculty Council chair. The letter was signed by more than 115 faculty members.
''We wish to state in no uncertain terms our support for Click as a member of the University of Missouri faculty who has earned her position through an outstanding record of teaching and research,'' the faculty letter stated.
''We believe that her actions on November 9 constitute at most a regrettable mistake, one that came, moreover, at the end of several weeks during which Click served alongside other faculty and staff as an ally to students who were protesting what they saw as their exclusion from and isolation at the University,'' it said.
The lawmakers, in their letter, accused Click of grabbing the student journalist's camera and calling on those around her to bring ''some muscle'' to remove the photographer and other reporters from the area. Video featuring her went viral and garnered nationwide attention.
''As a professional representing our university, Click failed to meet the obligation she has to her supervisors, fellow professors, university students and the taxpayers of Missouri,'' the lawmakers' letter said.
Instead of promoting a safe and stable learning environment, Click's actions ''served to inflame an already caustic situation that was clearly out of line.''
Click already has resigned a courtesy appointment at MU's School of Journalism. But the lawmakers want her gone altogether.
Her actions amounted to a ''complete disregard for the First Amendment rights of reporters,'' the lawmakers' letter said.
It was signed by more than 100 House members and 18 senators.
Last month a Columbia prosecutor said he was considering whether Click should be charged with assault for grabbing a student photographer's camera. MU student and videographer Mark Schierbecker filed a report against Click in November the same day the video was taken.
Click did not responded to messages and a call to her office, and a Mizzou representative said university administrators were not commenting, referring to the matter as a personnel issue.
Pamela Henrickson, who chairs the university's Board of Curators, said she spent time at the Capitol on Tuesday talking to legislators. But she did not say whether she went specifically to discuss the Click letter.
In an email to The Star, Henrickson said that ''the leadership of the UM System is committed to listening to legislators and considering their input as we move the university forward. We appreciate the support that the University System has long received from the General Assembly and we look forward to working closely with legislators to ensure that the UM System remains one of the state's most valuable assets.''
University faculty said they hope their letter has weight as a public statement showing support for Click's continued employment at MU.
''One of our main concerns in writing is to uphold the University's standard procedures for evaluating faculty performance and conduct,'' said Andrew Hoberek, an MU English professor. ''These procedures rely on a range of material that goes beyond that presented in either letter. As our signatures attest, we do believe that our respect for Professor Click and her work is supported by her record.''
Leonardo DiCaprio Flies Private Jet to Davos to Protest Climate Change
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:17
By Robert Baillieul, B.Comm. Published : January 22, 2016
Leonardo DiCaprio flew by private jet to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to attack the ''greed'' of the energy industry, while demanding more action on climate change.
In a speech to world leaders, business chiefs, and campaigners, DiCaprio called for more action in the battle against global warming and called out the energy industry for denying the problem. Fossil fuels, he insisted, must be kept in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. (Source: ''Leonardo DiCaprio savages corporate greed of big oil: 'Enough is enough','' The Guardian, January 20, 2016.)
''We simply cannot afford to allow the corporate greed of the coal, oil and gas industries to determine the future of humanity,'' DiCaprio explained. ''Those entities with a financial interest in preserving this destructive system have denied, and even covered up the evidence of our changing climate'... Enough is enough. You know better. The world knows better. History will place the blame for this devastation squarely at their feet.''
The solution, DiCaprio believes, is to severely trim humanity's carbon emissions. The world's oil, gas, and coal reserves should be left in the ground: ''Our planet cannot be saved unless we leave fossil fuels in the ground where they belong. Twenty years ago, we described this problem as an addiction. Today, we possess the means to end this reliance.''
DiCarprio, however, has been criticized for doing little to trim his own carbon footprint.
According to a story in Breitbart News, DiCaprio reportedly flew to the conference in Davos by private jet. (Source: ''DiCaprio Flies to Exclusive Swiss Resort to Lecture Billionaires: 'Greed is Bad','' Breitbart News, January 20, 2016.) This comes after reports from WikiLeaks last year, where published e-mails revealed the A-list actor took six private flights between New York and Los Angeles in just six weeks back in 2014. (Source: ''Leonardo DiCaprio the 'eco warrior' flew on a private jet from NY to LA SIX times,'' The Daily Mail, April 17, 2015.)
And DiCaprio's carbon-intensive lifestyle is hardly limited to private jets. Last year, The Daily Mail reported the actor's personal yacht cost more than $200 million to build. Christened ''The Rising Sun,'' the impressive ship is the 11th largest yacht in the world, with accommodations for up to 16 guests and 45 crewmembers. (Source: ''Leonardo DiCaprio cuts a lonesome figure as he mills about aboard his 450ft superyacht in Cannes,'' The Daily Mail, May 21, 2015.)
DiCaprio, however, insists society must do more to fight climate change.
Last year, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, an organization founded and established by the actor, produced a series of videos to help viewers cut their carbon footprint. Everyone, the not-for-profit group asserts, must commit to using 100% renewable energy, even if these options may be more expensive to adopt. (Source: ''Join the 100% renewable energy campaign,'' Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, July 12, 2015.)
''Unlocking nature's secrets will help us solve the climate crisis,'' DiCaprio explains at the conclusion of the video series. ''Working alongside nature will help us create a civilization that will be infinitely sustainable.'' (Source: ''Restoration,'' Green World Rising, April 14, 2015.)
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Why the Earth Is Flat, Straight From the Mouth of a Very Popular Rapper
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:16
Here is some news that is either comforting or depressing: there are still flat Earth truthers out there. Prominent among them is the very successful rapper B.o.B (you might know him from... this one?), who has spent the last 24 hours or so tweeting a lot of good flat Earth memes and theories.
http://blackbag.gawker.com/the-earth-is-f...
He started with this:
B.o.B'--who has more Twitter followers than every news organization on this planet'--then spent the rest of last night further arguing his belief with increasingly convoluted evidence and has continued on into this morning. Here is his response to someone saying that the world doesn't have edges (god, this is so stupid):
There was a little tangent about Felix Baumgartner's space jump:
A note about GoPros:
A lot about horizon lines being straight:
There were many inscrutable .jpgs of unknown origin:
This morning, he began tweeting what appears to be excerpts from some sort of flat Earth master text:
As a celebrity flat Earth truther, B.o.B is brother-in-arms with onetime reality show person Tila Tequilla, so he's certainly in good company. But flat Earth is not the only conspiracy theory he believes.
He appears to be a moon landing truther:
Then there's this whole thing about celebrities being cloned:
Anyway, here's one mantra we can all get behind:
Doomsday Clock announcement: Will minutes to midnight change?
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 01:56
Tick tock: The world will find out today whether the Doomsday Clock, currently set at three minutes to midnight, will inch closer to the hour of the apocalypse ...
WE will find out how close we are to Armageddon when the world's most revered scientists gather in Washington DC to announce what time it is on the Doomsday Clock.
The symbolic timekeeper of our impending destruction is currently set at three minutes to midnight '-- the closest we have ever been to that dreaded hour since the clock began ticking in 1947.
The clock is a universally recognised indicator of our vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, emerging technologies and more recently, global warming. We ignore it at our peril.
On Wednesday morning (1.30pm Tuesday in America), the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will reveal whether the minute hand will be adjusted, at a live press conference in Washington DC.
''Tensions between the United States and Russia that remain at levels reminiscent of the Cold War, the danger posed by climate change, and nuclear proliferation concerns, including the recent North Korean nuclear test, are the main factors influencing the decision about any adjustment that may be made to the Doomsday Clock,'' a statement on the Bulletin's website said.
''In January 2015, the Doomsday Clock's minute hand advanced two minutes, moving from five to three minutes before midnight, the closest it has been to catastrophe since the early days of above-ground hydrogen bomb testing.''
According to various reports, this is the video former CNN boss Ted Turner had lined up as a send-off for planet Earth.
Will the clock move forward a minute '-- or two '-- or remain at three minutes to midnight (still not good)? Picture: Shutterstock
Last year's dramatic shift towards midnight prompted the group '-- which counts 16 Nobel Laureates among its members '-- to pen an open letter to the world's leaders warning immediate action must be taken to prevent a tragedy of global proportions.
''In 2015, unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernisations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,'' it wrote.
''These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.''
The recent peace deal between Iran and the United States and progress made at the Paris climate change summit will also be taken into account in the calculations but it's hard to say how much of a mitigating effect these positive developments will have.
CHECK OUT THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK TIMELINE
Former US Marine Amir Hekmati speaks to the media in his home state Michigan after his release from an Iranian prison as part of a new deal between Iran and the US aimed at developing the friendship between the two countries.Source:AP
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin look uncomfortable at the G20 Turkey Leaders Summit on November 16, 2015, Last year saw relations between Russia and the west deteriorate to Cold War levels.Source:Getty Images
BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS '-- WHO ARE THEY?
The group was founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project. They named themselves the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and in 1947 created the Doomsday Clock ''using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet''.
Any adjustment to the Doomsday Clock's minute hand is made by the Bulletin's Board of Directors and its sponsors, which include 16 Nobel Laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognised indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.
Is Jonas the blizzard actually a message from God? Picture Nathan EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia
THE IMPENDING ANNOUNCEMENT FREAKING OUT 'ENDTIMERS'
At any given moment, anywhere in the world there are a bunch of people who believe the world is about to end.
The epic blizzard Jonas is doing nothing to ease fears of America's perpetual preppers, who are likely to be tipped over the edge if the Doomsday Clock edges any closer to midnight.
Religious ''prepper'' sites with names like Rapture Ready and The Endtimes Forecaster are sending readers into a frenzy with their take on Jonas and the many other unusual weather and planetary events currently affecting the world.
''As most of you are aware Jonas/Jonah was the prophet that delivered the message of coming judgment to the capital city of the Assyrians '-- Nineveh (in Iraq and currently occupied by Islamic State),'' noted William Frederick, who runs The Endtimes Forecaster blog.
''Is God sending America a message through this storm? And if so, is the message that God is sending America; yet forty days, and judgment cometh? It is interesting to note that the Fast of Nineveh just ended on 1/20/16 and the storm formed the day after.''
Religious prepper William Frederick's homepageSource:Supplied
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, seen delivering a speech at a national awards ceremony for nuclear scientists who contributed to the country's January 12, 2016 nuclear test, may force the Doomsday Clock forward.Source:AFP
Doomsayers also live in fear of the months June, July and August this year when the Earth is expected to experience a polar shift. A widely held belief in the prepper community is that the Earths poles will actually flip, turning north to south on compasses, causing the sun to rise in the West and continents to lurch, triggering earthquakes and the ultimately the destruction of the world.
According to NASA, however, this is a load of rubbish. The space agency confirms the Earth's poles are moving but stresses that we are not at risk from the phenomenon.
In fact, the magnetic north pole has inched north by more than 1100km since the early 19th century when its location was first determined by explorers. It picked up speed in the 21st century, moving at about 64km a year, compared with 16km a year in the early 20th century.
NASA says the magnetic field has flipped its polarity many times over the millennia with no dramatic effects. In the past 20 million years, the poles have reversed about every 300,000 years '-- though it has been twice that long since our planet experienced the last reversal.
National Review Just Handed Donald Trump the Election
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 22:01
National Review'spublication of the collective anti-Donald Trump missives from 22 self-appointed conservative potentates has caused quite a stir in Republican circles.
The nationwide responses range from, "Wait, I thought National Review went out of business years ago," to "Ed Meese? Seriously?"
The Gang of 22 have officially become parodies of themselves. One would have to reach back to the days of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew to lift an adequate quote to describe them.
"Nattering nabobs of negativism," "vicars of vacillation," "pusillanimous pussyfooters," "the decadent few," "ideological eunuchs," "the effete corps of impudent snobs," or "the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history" - take your pick, because they all apply about equally well to each and every one of them.
So clueless is the Gang of 22 they can't even see how they've stumbled right into the narrative Trump's been communicating so successfully for months. Just like the elected officials from both parties, the Gang of 22 has been GREAT at complaining about stuff, year, after year, after year.
But getting anything accomplished? Not so much.
Many of the Gang of 22 have been hanging around and chattering for decades, and some are active cogs in the Conservative Entertainment Complex, deriving their income by pandering to conservative anger while offering no real solutions.
Donald Trump represents a threat to these ineffectual poohbahs in the same way he represents a threat to do-nothing public officials.
Jealousy is also seriously at work here. Trump is inspiring and exciting a broad spectrum of the country like no member of the Gang of 22 ever has, or ever will.
In just seven months of campaigning, Trump already has more Americans listening to a Republican message than the entire Gang of 22 could muster over decades. Trump understands that before you can advance the ball, you have to convince people to take time from their busy lives to listen. No one on the GOP side since Ronald Reagan has accomplished that like Trump.
No one else has come close, and certainly no one from that "effete corps of impudent snobs" to which the National Review thinks we should defer.
The Gang of 22 had their chance. They've done a lot of bitching over the years, and it paid well for some.
But Americans care about results. They can plainly see that all of the empty talk from the Gang of 22 got us eight years of Barack Obama, and a loss in pretty much every conservative battle there was to lose.
At the same time when Americans look at Donald Trump's life they get a lot of assurance that here is finally a man who shares their focus on actually getting results. And Trump returns the respect by recognizing regular hard-working Americans are a lot smarter than any of the "ideological eunuchs" in all of their pontificating glory.
The "pusillanimous pussyfooters" love to nitpick Trump's words, but what voters are looking for this year is competence and accomplishment. Donald Trump has an actual record of delivering both in spades.
The Gang of 22 is right to be terrified. A President who could get things done would expose them as the irrelevant creatures they truly are.
It can't happen fast enough.
Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.
If NASCAR embraced electric cars it could change the...
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 15:54
I have roots in the southern United States. My mom was from Durham, North Carolina, and my sister, nephew, nieces, spouses, their exes, kids and more kids live in and around Danville, Virginia. Around there, it's a big deal to go to the races. The boys of various ages, and occasionally some of the girls and women, will pile into vehicles to go see races in South Boston or other tracks nearby. I've been to the track in Martinsville '' the 'paper clip' '' which is still the shortest track on the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) circuit. It's less than a kilometre long, only half a mile. But it is exciting. The cars go just crazy fast, and they are amazingly loud '... or LOUD!! But beyond the heart-pounding, Are-these-cars-going-to-jump-the-barrier-and-kill-me? exciting quality of it, it's depressing '' leastways depressing for me as an engineer. Because here I am trying to envision the smart, efficient transportation technology of tomorrow, and there is NASCAR doing the opposite '' celebrating a very old transportation technology of yesterday.
Despite the excitement, NASCAR kinda breaks my heart. It's a celebration of old tech. It uses gasoline-burning instead of electron-flowing. I wish NASCAR were more like NASA. I wish NASCAR were more about the future instead of the past. I wish NASCAR set up Grand Challenges to inspire companies and individuals to create novel automotive technologies in the way NASA does to create novel space technologies. At NASA currently, there are challenges to come up with techniques to mine an asteroid, build a better space suit, and survive the radiation environment in deep space. Those competitions are like races, with winners getting significant grant money. Or look at Google, which created the Lunar XPrize, a genuine competition to see which private group can land a robot on the Moon and send pictures back. There's no reason why NASCAR couldn't be like that: a race with rules designed to reward the coolest, most advanced vehicle technologies.
To address climate change in the medium and long term, we have to stop, completely stop, burning fossil fuels. The obvious, straightforward, We're-already-just-about-there answer is to convert our entire ground-transportation fleet '' trains, trucks, buses and cars '' to electric motors with batteries to store energy the way that gasoline tanks store energy in our fuel-burning vehicles. In the short term, NASCAR could help get us there. We could convert all of our racecars to electricity '' right now '' and show the public exactly what electrons can do.
Consider the following: a typical NASCAR racecar produces up to 540 ft-lbs (730 Newton-metres) of torque. The Tesla Model-S (sedan), right out of the showroom, produces 713 ft-lbs (970 N-m). A NASCAR vehicle can get up to 850 horsepower (hp) with the car and driver weighing about 3,600 lbs (that's 630 kilowatts and 1,650 kg). The Tesla produces 'only' 532 hp (400 kW), and with a car weighing an extra 1,000 lbs (450 kg). Looking at those last couple of numbers might make you think that the NASCAR vehicle is way more powerful than a high-end electric one. But note well, we are comparing a NASCAR car made to race with a true stock car (one a consumer can buy), albeit an electric one, that has not been refined to compete on racetracks. The gasoline-powered car is a product of a century of development. Just think what an electric carmaker, such as Tesla, could produce given, say, three years.
It's easy for me to imagine an electric racecar that completely outperforms a gas-powered competitor. Instead of refuelling a gas tank, the electric racecar pit crew would change battery packs. The car would be designed to roll up a ramp. The battery pack would be disconnected and dropped out. Moments later, a fresh battery pack would be lifted into place, and off our electric racer would go with time in the pit comparable to what it takes to refuel and service a conventional gas-powered racecar.
I admit also to being a fan of James Bond movies. In the most recent one, Spectre, our hero gets to drive (and destroy) an Aston Martin DB10. It goes (or went) a claimed 0-to-60 in 3.1 seconds. Well, the stock Tesla Model S goes 0-to-60 in 2.8 seconds. Nose to nose, you would not need a photo to see who finished first. Sorry gas-fired slowpoke. Just think what an electric race would be like. It would be faster, and quiet. You could talk to the person next to you. The drivers could probably hear the roar of the crowd rather than having to imagine it as they do now. And most significant from my point of view, everyone in the crowd, every race fan, would want an electric car! The market for electric cars would go crazy. Manufacturers could not produce them fast enough. We could convert our transportation system to all-electric in less time than it took to go from horse-drawn to horseless carriage, 20 years maybe. I'm tellin' ya, after you drive an electric car, you don't want to drive anything else. They're faster, quieter and cheaper to operate.
In spite of this optimism, when I get to thinking about it, NASCAR right now just brings me down. They use ancient tech: carburetors, valve pushrods and cast-iron engines. But the biggest depressor for me is the fuel consumption. These cars get as little as 80 litres per 100 km, or 3 miles to the gallon (mpg). Sometimes they get away with up to 4.5 mpg. That is, to my way of thinking, astonishingly bad.
Let me offer a backward-looking yet forward-thinking story. When I was a kid, auto-racing was where new technology was developed rather than where old technology was preserved or even celebrated. We admired cars that went faster and could be manoeuvered well. Next time you're in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, check out the STP-Paxton Turbocar. It almost won the 1967 Indianapolis 500 race with a helicopter turbine engine adapted for car racing. The car led for 170 of the 200 laps, almost the entire race. A ball-bearing cracked on the third-to-last lap. Race officials could tell that, if they allowed this type of innovative car to come back year after year, racing teams would have a chance to test it further, and make additional improvements to this sure-win innovation. Soon, all the other racecars would be obsolete. Instead of embracing this innovation, they changed the permitted size of the intake duct so that it was too small to enable a turbine car to keep up.
I'm not saying we should all be driving turbine engine-powered cars. I'm saying racing should be about the future rather than the past. How about NASCAR becoming NESCAR (National Electric Stock Car Racing)? The sooner NASCAR (or NESCAR) embraces electric drive trains, the sooner the US can be the world leader in automotive technology, and the sooner we can stop pumping carbon dioxide into the air every time we want to go somewhere to get groceries, pick up the soccer team, commute to work or watch a race.
Britain should send soldiers to protect Europe's borders, EU leaders say - Telegraph
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 15:02
Britain has offered to send border officials on an "ad hoc" basis to provide "technical expertise" and will oppose any demands for soldiers.
It comes as Theresa May, the Home Secretary, on Monday joins a critical meeting of European ministers in Amsterdam to discuss the migrant crisis.
"It's Europe that could die, not the Schengen area"
Manuel Valls, French Prime Minister
They will consider plans to bar passport-free travel from Greece amid growing anger at its failure to control its borders.
Austria said that the patience of European leaders has reached its "limit" and that they are now looking at plans to temporarily exclude Greece from the Schengen zone.
The move would leave tens of thousands of migrants trying to enter Europe stranded in Greece.
Johanna Mikl-Leitner, the Austrian minister for the interior, said: ''If the Athens government does not finally do more to secure the [EU's] external borders then one must openly discuss Greece's temporary exclusion from the Schengen zone. It is a myth that the Greek-Turkish border cannot be controlled.
''When a Schengen signatory does not permanently fulfill its obligations and only hesitatingly accepts aid then we should not rule out that possibility.
''The patience of many Europeans has reached its limit. We have talked a lot, now we must act. It is about protecting stability, order and security in Europe."
European leaders are considering plans to suspend passport-freetravel in the EU for two years amid concerns that 2.6million more people are forecast to arrive.
Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, yesterday said that Britain is considering new plans which would see it accept 3,000 child migrants from Europe.
She said that the children would be "over and above" the 20,000 migrants that Britain has already agreed to accept.
' Syrian migrants in Calais win green light to come to Britain
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said Britain should permit thousands of asylum applications from migrants living in Calais providing they ''want to come to Britain'' and have ''a connection" to this country.
It came as Civitas, a right-leaning think tank, warned that the single market has been a "disaster" as Britain's trade growth has been slower than any of the other founding nations.
It said that growth of exports between member states during the common market was 4.7 per cent but has fallen to 3 per cent in the single market, the research said. Britain's export growth fell from 5.38 per cent to 3.09 per cent over that period.
It found that UK export growth in the single market was 22.3 per cent lower than it would have been had if it had continued at its rate during the common market.
The campaign to keep Britain in the European Union today releases an analysis which claimed that the EU is worth an average of £670,000 in extra trade for every business.
Britain Stronger In Europe highlighted research by the Centre for European Reform which found found that Britain's goods trade with the EU is 55 per cent higher as a result of its membership.
The "EU effect" was worth around £133billion to the 200,000 export and import companies in the UK in 2014, it said.
' The chief executive of Unilever, Paul Polman, has added his voice to pro campaign, saying Britain should remain in the EU. But he added that Unilever's UK sites, including three research and development centres, would not be affected by a vote to leave Europe. The consumer goods group - behind Persil and Magnum - employs 7,500 staff in the UK.
Warum viele Marokkaner unter Verd¤chtigen in K¶ln sind - Panorama - S¼ddeutsche.de
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 14:13
12. Januar 2016, 15:32 UhrNahe des D¼sseldorfer Hauptbahnhofs liegt das sogenannte Maghreb-Viertel, in dem die Polizei einen R¼ckzugsort f¼r Taschendiebe vermuten.(Foto: imago/flight-pictures)Im Maghreb-Viertel in D¼sseldorf leben seit Jahrzehnten Nordafrikaner. Inzwischen ist es aber auch R¼ckzugsort f¼r Taschendiebe und Einbrecher.
Von Bernd D¶rries, Karin Janker und Kristiana Ludwig"Die setzen sich neben Fl¼chtlinge aus Syrien in den Warteraum, warten, bis sie einschlafen und klauen ihnen dann die Sachen". So beschreibt ein Fl¼chtlingshelfer im K¶lner Hauptbahnhof das, was er dort immer wieder beobachtet. "Nordafrikaner", so nennt er sie, kommen jeden Tag in den Bahnhof, um zu klauen. Durch die Lautsprecher l¤uft die Dauerdurchsage: "Vorsicht, es sind Taschendiebe unterwegs." Es ist eine Art Hintergrundmusik zu einem St¼ck, das mitten in K¶ln fast jeden Tag aufgef¼hrt wird. Japanische Touristen werden beklaut und Fl¼chtlinge, die eine monatelange Odyssee hinter sich haben. Ein paar Meter weiter wird offen mit Drogen gedealt, Frauen werden bel¤stigt. Die Zeitungen in K¶ln weisen seit Jahren auf das Problem hin, ver¤ndert hat sich nicht viel.
Die K¶lner Polizei kann zumindest ganz gut dokumentieren, was passiert. Seit 2011 gehen Taschendiebst¤hle vor allem auf das Konto von Personen aus Algerien, Tunesien und Marokko. Auch beim sogenannten Ant¤nzer-Trick stehen T¤ter aus diesen Herkunftsl¤ndern ganz oben. "Seit 2014 begehen diese T¤ter mit einem stark ansteigenden Trend auch andere Delikte im Bereich der Eigentumskriminalit¤t", belegt ein interner Bericht. Eine Aufschl¼sselung der Tatverd¤chtigen hat demnach ergeben, "dass lediglich 0,5 Prozent der syrischen Zuwanderer innerhalb eines Jahres Straftaten begangen haben, w¤hrend diese Quote bei den Nordafrikanern bei etwa 40 Prozent liegt". Die Zahl bezieht sich auf Personen, die wegen illegalen Aufenthalts in Deutschland erfasst wurden, und dann erneut straff¤llig geworden sind.
Im Jahr 2015 wurden in K¶ln 1947 nordafrikanische Tatverd¤chtige ermittelt. Zu den Straftaten geh¶ren sp¤testens seit Silvester auch "massenhafte sexuelle 'bergriffe", die im arabischen Raum "taharrusch dschamai (تحرش جماعي)" heiŸen. Unter den Verd¤chtigen der K¶lner Silvesternacht sind Marokkaner in der Mehrheit. "Das waren unsere Leute", vermutet ein Marokkaner, der in der Silvesternacht im K¶lner Bahnhof war. Diebesbanden handelten abgestimmt und verst¼nden sich blind. Das k¶nnte auch am Silvesterabend der Fall gewesen sein, best¤tigen Ermittler.
Marokkaner erstmals unter den Top f¼nf der Fl¼chtlingsgruppenNach Angaben von Innenminister Ralf J¤ger hat der Zuzug aus nordafrikanischen L¤ndern in den vergangenen Monaten massiv zugenommen. Im Dezember waren Marokkaner erstmals unter den Top f¼nf der Fl¼chtlingsgruppen. Bei marokkanischen und tunesischen Familien werde oft der ¤lteste Sohn ausgew¤hlt, um nach Deutschland zu reisen, wo er innerhalb kurzer Zeit das Geld f¼r die Schleuser verdienen m¼sse, sagt Innenminister J¤ger.
Recht So soll das Ausl¤nderrecht nach K¶ln versch¤rft werdenResidenzpflicht, Schutzstatus, Abschiebungen: Zum dritten Mal in kurzer Zeit wird das Ausl¤nderrecht ver¤ndert - hin zu mehr H¤rte.
Samy Charchira, Mitglied der Deutschen Islamkonferenz und im Landesvorstand des Parit¤tischen Wohlfahrtsverbandes NRW, beobachtet, dass seit drei bis vier Jahren mehr Jugendliche aus den Maghreb-Staaten, vor allem aus Tunesien, Algerien und Marokko in Deutschland ankommen. Viele von ihnen landeten fr¼her oder sp¤ter in K¶ln oder D¼sseldorf. "Diese Jugendlichen suchen Anschluss, sie k¶nnen kein Deutsch und wissen nicht, wohin", sagt Charchira. Deshalb ziehe es sie in die groŸen St¤dte von NRW. Die meisten h¤tten dort zwar keine direkten Bekannten, f¤nden aber immerhin Menschen, die die gleiche Sprache sprechen. Manche der Ankommenden w¼rden auch die derzeitigen Fl¼chtlingsstr¶me nutzen, um illegal nach Deutschland einzureisen, sagt Charchira.
Auch Kriminalbeamte beobachten, wie Zuwanderer aus den Maghreb-Staaten, die mit der Absicht kommen, Geld f¼r ihre Familie zu verdienen, in Nordrhein-Westfalen in kriminelle Strukturen geraten. Typisch daf¼r ist etwa das sogenannte Maghreb-Viertel am D¼sseldorfer Hauptbahnhof. Hier habe sich Ermittlern zufolge ein "soziales, kulturelles und wirtschaftliches Zentrum gebildet", ein R¼ckzugsraum f¼r Taschendiebe, StraŸenr¤uber und Einbrecher. Bereits im Juni 2014 hatten sie ein Projekt eingerichtet, in dem die Beamten die kriminellen Strukturen zwischen mehr als 2200 Verd¤chtigen analysierten.
Banden werben Personal in Fl¼chtlingsheimen anDie Kriminalpolizei beobachte zudem immer h¤ufiger, wie kriminelle Banden gezielt Neuank¶mmlinge in Fl¼chtlingsheimen anwerben, heiŸt es aus Ermittlerkreisen. In einigen Heimen in Nordrhein-Westfalen wurden mittlerweile Handys gefunden, die am Silvesterabend in K¶ln gestohlen wurden.
Bei der Aufkl¤rung der Silvestervorf¤lle wolle man Erkenntnisse aus Vierteln wie in D¼sseldorf nun nutzen, sagt ein Polizeisprecher. Doch bisher habe "das eine mit dem anderen nichts zu tun. Und wir haben rund 450 Tatverd¤chtige im letzten Jahr festgestellt. Dieser Bereich wird intensiv bearbeitet."
Auch in K¶ln gibt es eine spezielle Ermittlungsgruppe gegen Taschendiebe und Ant¤nzer, die oft aus den Maghreb-Staaten kommen, aber h¤ufig mit syrischen Papieren nach Deutschland einreisen, wie Ermittler berichten. Die Polizisten seien allerdings mit der Gr¶Ÿe des Ph¤nomens ¼berfordert. Das f¼hre zu einem Teufelskreis: Weil die Aufkl¤rungsquote sinkt, ziehe es noch mehr T¤ter nach K¶ln.
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Weiner review: an unsparing portrait of politics and a gift that keeps giving
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 13:42
Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin during his 2014 New York mayoral campaign. Photograph: Kathy Willens/AP
Joe McGinniss's book The Selling of a President is widely regarded as a peerless look inside the inner workings of a presidential campaign. It paints a warts-and-all picture of the neurotic, unhinged politician '' one Richard Nixon '' that the world came to know in greater depth after the scandal that ended his career. It was also a cautionary tale for any politician who ever thought about giving a journalist almost unlimited access to their campaign.
That warning went unheard by the group running Anthony Weiner's disastrous mayoral bid in 2014, and documentary fans should rejoice for it. The resulting film is a riveting excursion into fear and loathing on the campaign trail. The film caused a stir before its premiere because of the access the team got to not only Weiner but also his wife, Huma Abedin, who is Hillary Clinton's top aide.
The couple's relationship dominates much of the action. Their marriage was already strained following Weiner's 2011 resignation from the US House of Representatives, following leaks to the press that he sent sexts to several women. (It's tested after Weiner again succumbs to temptation and sends more explicit pictures.) The film puts their relationship under an unflinching microscope. We see them in their kitchen, feeding their child and having increasingly tense conversations.
The documentary team of Josh Kreigman and Elyse Steinberg do more than focus on the pics, though. Weiner is presented as a passionate career politician, a leader who took on the Republicans who tried to block healthcare assistance for 9/11 first responders. He's clearly a gifted orator who knows what makes people tick '' but just can't seem to stop himself from ruining the hard work he's done to rebuild his reputation.
After the second scandal, when MSNBC journalist Lawrence O'Donnell asks Weiner ''What is wrong with you,'' it's hard to not empathise with his frustration. Unlike Alex Giney's Lance Armstrong documentary, which charted the cyclist's fall, it's hard to feel complete contempt for this politician. It feels more like a political tragedy that a comedy writer like Armando Ianucci would construct, especially when one aide screams about implementing the ''McDonald's plan'' '' a plot to sneak Weiner into his own celebration party via fast food restaurant, because one of the people he sexted is waiting for him outside.
Eventually, the film becomes about Weiner's enthusiasm and apparent inability to understand when he should back down. He soldiers on, regardless of the pain he inflicts on his family and closest aides. His energy leads him to surreal ends: Colombian and Israeli celebrations, even finding himself MC on a Caribbean parade float.
It's that total access which makes the documentary a compelling, deep dive into a scandal that so many, especially the New York Post and Stephen Colbert, had painted as the simple '' and crude '' case of one prurient politician. Weiner is abused in the street, his marriage ''to an Arab'' raised in an ugly altercation '' yet even in these brutal scenes he rarely asks for the cameras to leave.
The only time he shows frustration with the film-makers is when he asks whether flies on the wall should be able to ask questions. That inability to stop himself in front of a camera is his biggest asset and biggest flaw. For Steinberg and Kreigman it's the gift that keeps on giving.
Senate Intel leaders worry encryption commission too slow | TheHill
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 13:34
Senate Intelligence Committee leaders want to move swiftly on encryption legislation and bypass a proposed national commission to study the topic first.
''I don't think a commission is necessarily the right thing when you know what the problem is. And we know what the problem is,'' Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said.
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Burr is working on a bill with his committee's ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), that would guarantee law enforcement access to encrypted data.But Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) are pushing their own competing proposal that would establish a national commission to investigate the issue before crafting legislation.
''What we're trying to do is get that collaboration started,'' Warner told reporters on Tuesday. ''Let's get the experts in the room.''
The recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., have touched off a heated debate on Capitol Hill about encryption.
Law enforcement officials are warning that criminals and terrorists are increasingly relying on encryption to hide their communications from authorities. In Paris, investigators said the attackers used encrypted apps to help plan the assault that killed 130 people.
In response, Burr and Feinstein have led the charge on legislation that would force companies to maintain ways to decrypt their data when compelled by court order.
But the tech community and privacy advocates have condemned these efforts. They say such a move would weaken digital privacy and security because encryption entry point introduces vulnerabilities that can be exploited by criminals as well as government officials.
In an effort to break the logjam, McCaul and Warner's measure would bring together representatives from all sides involved: tech industry leaders, privacy advocates, academics, law enforcement officials and members of the intelligence community.
The panel would offer suggestions to Congress about how police can access encrypted data without endangering Americans' privacy.
Feinstein did not dismiss the idea, telling The Hill, ''It's not a bad idea, actually.''
But she expressed concern about the time a commission might take to produce recommendations.
Congress has to move fast, Feinstein said, given the recent terrorist attack in her home state.
The California lawmaker said she ''suspect[s]'' the shooters behind the deadly plot encrypted some of their communications leading up to the assault, which left 14 people dead.
''Here's the problem,'' Feinstein said. ''If the Internet goes totally dark, and there are apps that people can use to communicate to plot, to plan, to threaten, to do all of that, you've got a real problem.''
Feinstein and Burr believe their legislation would ensure the government can see the encrypted communications of suspicious individuals.
''The terrorists. They're not going to go away,'' Feinstein said. ''We have to put a very concerted effort forward.''
Burr told The Hill the two are ''progressing on the bill nicely.''
''We don't expect to hurry this,'' he added. ''We want to get it right.''
''Hopefully you'll see [a bill] before too long,'' Feinstein said.
Lawmakers set to unveil bill for encryption commission | TheHill
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 13:34
A bipartisan pair of lawmakers is set to introduce legislation that would establish a national commission to figure out how police can get at encrypted data without endangering Americans' privacy.
''I do think this is one of the greatest challenges to law enforcement that I have probably seen in my lifetime,'' said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a former federal prosecutor, during a conference call Tuesday with reporters.
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The bill, which McCaul first discussed in a December speech, is intended to cut through the heated rhetoric that has defined the encryption debate in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.''What we're trying to do is get that collaboration started,'' said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who joined McCaul on the call and will sponsor the upper chamber bill. ''Let's get the experts in the room.''
With the proliferation of encrypted devices, law enforcement officials have warned that criminals and terrorists are increasingly relying on encryption to go dark and hide from authorities. In Paris, investigators said the attackers used the popular encrypted app Telegram to help plan the assault that killed 130 people.
In response, law enforcement and some lawmakers have pressed major tech firms to ensure investigators can access encrypted data when compelled by court order.
But the tech community and privacy advocates have resisted, arguing that such guaranteed access would weaken online privacy and security. Any encryption entry point creates vulnerabilities that could be exploited by nefarious actors as well as government officials, they say.
The White House has tried to engage Silicon Valley on the topic, recently meeting with top tech executives on the West Coast. But the Obama administration's overtures have been rebuffed at times and lawmakers believe the process must move quicker.
These two sides, Warner said, ''are at loggerheads.''
A commission involving all parties moves this discussion ''beyond the partisan back and forth and establishes this as a national priority,'' he added.
The panel would include tech industry leaders, privacy advocates, academics, law enforcement officials and members of the intelligence community.
McCaul said the group would be given ''a tight time frame'' to develop ''recommendations to the Congress as to what can be done to solve this urgent, and I think very challenging threat to our national security.''
Those recommendations would likely involve a host of technological options, the lawmakers said, but could include legislative proposals as well.
''We're trying to get to a place where we can get to a solution,'' McCaul added.
The two lawmakers declined to discuss specific tech companies that might participate, but Warner said the idea has ''had a very positive reception'' among those that would likely be involved.
A Congressional aide with knowledge of the call told The Hill the bill would be introduced ''in the near future.''
''We don't have a hard date at this time,'' the aide said.
How the bill is received on Capitol Hill remains to be seen. Several of Congress's staunch encryption defenders have backed the concept, but prominent committee and party leaders are not yet on board.
In the upper chamber, Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) '-- the top two members, respectively, of the Intelligence Committee '-- are working on their own encryption bill.
The Burr-Feinstein legislation would force companies to build their encryption so they could respond to a court order for secured data.
Apple recently said it could not comply with such a request because even Apple itself cannot access encrypted data on its devices. Technologists insist companies must be locked out of their own secured data to ensure that everyday digital activities are protected.
Warner sits on the Intelligence Committee and said he would discuss his efforts with Burr and Feinstein.
''I think having a healthy debate about different approaches makes sense,'' he said.
Ultimately, Warner and McCaul think their proposal can win out.
McCaul said they initially looked at options similar to the ideas Burr and Feinstein have floated and ''found that they were problematic.''
Warner agreed.
''I just don't believe there is that single silver bullet that even exists, at least at this moment,'' he said.
'-- Updated 1:01 p.m.
The slow death of purposeless walking - BBC News
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 00:45
A number of recent books have lauded the connection between walking - just for its own sake - and thinking. But are people losing their love of the purposeless walk?
Walking is a luxury in the West. Very few people, particularly in cities, are obliged to do much of it at all. Cars, bicycles, buses, trams, and trains all beckon.
Instead, walking for any distance is usually a planned leisure activity. Or a health aid. Something to help people lose weight. Or keep their fitness. But there's something else people get from choosing to walk. A place to think.
Wordsworth was a walker. His work is inextricably bound up with tramping in the Lake District. Drinking in the stark beauty. Getting lost in his thoughts.
Famous walkers 1"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."
Walking (Henry David Thoreau)
Charles Dickens was a walker. He could easily rack up 20 miles, often at night. You can almost smell London's atmosphere in his prose. Virginia Woolf walked for inspiration. She walked out from her home at Rodmell in the South Downs. She wandered through London's parks.
Henry David Thoreau, who was both author and naturalist, walked and walked and walked. But even he couldn't match the feat of someone like Constantin Brancusi, the sculptor who walked much of the way between his home village in Romania and Paris. Or indeed Patrick Leigh Fermor, whose walk from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul at the age of 18 inspired several volumes of travel writing. George Orwell, Thomas De Quincey, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bruce Chatwin, WG Sebald and Vladimir Nabokov are just some of the others who have written about it.
From recent decades, the environmentalist and writer John Francis has been one of the truly epic walkers. Francis was inspired by witnessing an oil tanker accident in San Francisco Bay to eschew motor vehicles for 22 years. Instead he walked. And thought. He was aided by a parallel pledge not to speak which lasted 17 years.
But you don't have to be an author to see the value of walking. A particular kind of walking. Not the distance between porch and corner shop. But a more aimless pursuit.
In the UK, May is National Walking Month. And a new book, A Philosophy of Walking by Prof Frederic Gros, is currently the object of much discussion. Only last week, a study from Stanford University showed that even walking on a treadmill improved creative thinking.
Famous walkers 2"Some years ago, a temporary inability to sleep, referable to a distressing impression, caused me to walk about the streets all night, for a series of several nights. The disorder might have taken a long time to conquer, if it had been faintly experimented on in bed; but, it was soon defeated by the brisk treatment of getting up directly after lying down, and going out, and coming home tired at sunrise."
Night Walks (Charles Dickens)
Across the West, people are still choosing to walk. Nearly every journey in the UK involves a little walking, and nearly a quarter of all journeys are made entirely on foot, according to one survey. But the same study found that a mere 17% of trips were "just to walk". And that included dog-walking.
It is that "just to walk" category that is so beloved of creative thinkers.
"There is something about the pace of walking and the pace of thinking that goes together. Walking requires a certain amount of attention but it leaves great parts of the time open to thinking. I do believe once you get the blood flowing through the brain it does start working more creatively," says Geoff Nicholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking.
"Your senses are sharpened. As a writer, I also use it as a form of problem solving. I'm far more likely to find a solution by going for a walk than sitting at my desk and 'thinking'."
Nicholson lives in Los Angeles, a city that is notoriously car-focused. There are other cities around the world that can be positively baffling to the evening stroller. Take Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital. Anyone planning to walk even between two close points should prepare to be patient. Pavements mysteriously end. Busy roads need to be traversed without the aid of crossings. The act of choosing to walk can provoke bafflement from the residents.
The flaneurOxford English Dictionary defines as: "A lounger or saunterer, an idle 'man about town'"Term originated in 19th Century FrancePoet Charles Baudelaire regarded as archetype"A lot of places, if you walk you feel you are doing something self-consciously. Walking becomes a radical act," says Merlin Coverley, author of The Art of Wandering: The Writer as Walker.
But even in car-focused cities there are fruits for those who choose to ramble. "I do most of my walking in the city - in LA where things are spread out," says Nicholson. "There is a lot to look at. It's urban exploration. I'm always looking at strange alleyways and little corners."
Nicholson, a novelist, calls this "observational" walking. But his other category of walking is left completely blank. It is waiting to be filled with random inspiration.
Not everybody is prepared to wait. There are many people who regard walking from place to place as "dead time" that they resent losing, in a busy schedule where work and commuting takes them away from home, family and other pleasures. It is viewed as "an empty space that needs to be filled up", says Rebecca Solnit, author of Wanderlust: A History of Walking.
Famous walkers 3"... When the desire comes upon us to go street rambling... getting up we say: "Really I must buy a pencil," as if under cover of this excuse we could indulge safely in the greatest pleasure of town life in winter -rambling the streets of London."
Street Haunting - A London Adventure (Virginia Woolf)
Many now walk and text at the same time. There's been an increase in injuries to pedestrians in the US attributed to this. One study suggested texting even changed the manner in which people walked.
It's not just texting. This is the era of the "smartphone map zombie" - people who only take occasional glances away from an electronic routefinder to avoid stepping in anything or being hit by a car.
"You see people who don't get from point A to point B without looking at their phones," says Solnit. "People used to get to know the lay of the land."
People should go out and walk free of distractions, says Nicholson. "I do think there is something about walking mindfully. To actually be there and be in the moment and concentrate on what you are doing."
Physicists who liked walkingWerner Heisenberg liked to walkThe full significance of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle only struck British physicist Paul Dirac when the latter was out for a long walkOtto Frisch and Lise Meitner realised the key principle behind atomic weapons on a walk in the snow. Technically, Frisch was not walking but on skis at the timeAnd this means no music, no podcasts, no audiobooks. It might also mean going out alone.
CS Lewis thought that even talking could spoil the walk. "The only friend to walk with is one who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared."
The way people in the West have started to look down on walking is detectable in the language. "When people say something is pedestrian they mean flat, limited in scope," says Solnit.
Boil down the books on walking and you're left with some key tips:
Walk further and with no fixed routeStop texting and mappingDon't soundtrack your walksGo aloneFind walkable placesWalk mindfullyThen you may get the rewards. "Being out on your own, being free and anonymous, you discover the people around you," says Solnit.
Follow @BBCNewsMagazine on Twitter and on Facebook
Nuland warned about the imminent attack of NATO to Russia | Noch.info-The other side of the coin
Sun, 24 Jan 2016 22:32
Die US-Staatssekret¤rin f¼r europ¤ische und eurasische Angelegenheiten Victoria Nuland traf sich mit dem Berater von Wladimir Putin in Kaliningrad, mit der Hoffnung 'žden Weltkrieg zu verhindern.''
Wie Rudolf HeŸ, der in Schottland im Jahr 1941 f¼r den Abschluss des Friedens mit GroŸbritannien kam '' versuchte Nuland, weitere Versch¤rfung der russisch-amerikanischen Beziehungen zu verhindern.
'žWas verbirgt sich hinter dem 'žmysteri¶sen'' Besuch von Victoria Nuland in Kaliningrad?'', hat Agoravox gefragt.
Laut der offiziellen Version der Assistant Secretary f¼r europ¤ische und eurasische Angelegenheiten war die Notlandung auf einem Milit¤rflugplatz in Chkalovsk (Kaliningrad) notwendig, um die Krise in der Ukraine zu diskutieren und zu versuchen, den fragilen Waffenstillstand im Osten des Landes zu wahren.'' Aber in der Tat, schreibt sicher die Zeitung, kam Nuland, um die Russen ¼ber den 'žunmittelbar bevorstehenden Angriff'' der NATO zu warnen.
Gleich nach der Ank¼ndigung des Treffens zwischen Sergej Lawrow und John Kerry in Z¼rich am 20. Januar, hat das Flugzeug von Victoria Nuland(fliegend von Vilnius nach Berlin) stark seine Richtung gewechselt, und auf dem Flughafen in Kaliningrad gelandet, stellt Agoravox beobachtend fest.
Die US-Diplomatin 'ždringend'' ersuchte ein pers¶nliches Treffen mit Wladimir Putin, den sie ¼brigens, gerne als 'žyour fucking K¶nig'' nennt. Der russische Pr¤sident, der ¼ber die 'žungeteilte Verbindung'' von Nuland mit Hillary Clinton, und nicht mit Barack Obama weiŸ, hat das Treffen abgesagt. Aber er hat seinen 'žm¤chtigen'' Berater Wladislaw Surkow zum Treffen mit Nuland geschickt.
Das Treffen fand hinter verschlossenen T¼ren statt. Das offizielle Thema der Diskussion war den Journalisten unbekannt. Doch Menschen, die Victoria Nuland in dieser unerwartete Reise begleiteten, haben gesagt, dass sie 'žsehr aufgeregt'', war und immer wieder wiederholte: 'žDer Krieg kommt! Der Krieg ist vor der T¼r'', und f¼gte auch hinzu: 'žRussland hat seine Versprechen nicht gehalten und jetzt sollen alle daf¼r bezahlen.''
'žGanz aufgeregt'' hat sie auch gesagt, dass Barack Obama eine 'žS¤uberung des WeiŸen Hauses'' h¤lt, die bald auch sie auswirken k¶nne, schreibt das Magazin.
'žRussland weiŸ, dass Victoria Nuland ein Mitglied der Bande von Hillary Clinton, die die Ukraine ruiniert hat, ist.'' Das was sie in der Ukraine geschaffen haben, wurde f¼r den 'žunverhohlensten Putsch in der Geschichte'' anerkannt. 'žSie brachten Neonazis zur Macht im Land und entfernten Ukraine weit von der EU, schreibt Agoravox. Jeder erinnert sich an ihre ber¼hmte 'žZur H¶lle mit der EU''/''Fuck the EU''.
Der Besuch von Victoria Nuland in Kaliningrad war 'žein Versuch, den Weltkrieg zu verhindern'', der ihrer Meinung nach, ist im Begriff, auszubrechen.Agoravox erinnert an die ber¼hmte Episode der Weltgeschichte- die Reise von Rudolf Hess(Adolf Hitlers Gefolgsmann) nach Schottland am 10. Mai 1941. Damals hat der Reichsminister versucht, Frieden mit GroŸbritannien zu schlieŸen und den Zweiten Weltkrieg zu vermeiden. Sein Versuch war fehlgeschlagen.
Quelle: RT auf Russisch
DHS adds traffic tool to intrusion-prevention program -- FCW
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:20
Cybersecurity
DHS adds traffic tool to intrusion-prevention programBy Sean LyngaasJan 27, 2016Andy Ozment said a new DHS tool will help telecom companies identify and analyze malicious activity on their customers' networks.
The Department of Homeland Security has added a network traffic analysis tool to a key intrusion-prevention program used by big telecommunications firms.
The addition of Netflow Analysis to DHS' Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program will allow companies to "more effectively identify and analyze malicious activity transiting their customers' networks," said Andy Ozment, DHS' assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications.
Through the voluntary ECS program, DHS shares classified or sensitive information on cyberthreats with companies that use the information to block exploitations. Firms have the option of providing DHS with anonymized feedback on what cyber intelligence is effective in thwarting threats.
The other two tools under the ECS program are email filtering and Domain Name System Sinkholing, which directs traffic away from malicious domains to safe servers.
Using the netflow capability, the four companies that participate in the program -- AT&T, CenturyLink, Lockheed Martin and Verizon -- receive records from across their enterprises that show traffic flows and volume. They then pick out potentially malicious activity with the help of government intelligence.
The netflow capability "does not enable DHS to collect, store or in any way utilize personally identifiable information," Ozment wrote in a blog post, citing an updated DHS privacy assessment.
"The Netflow Analysis service will operate in passive mode and will not be able to automatically modify or block malicious traffic," the assessment states.
The data retained by the ECS program is subject to a retention schedule sanctioned by the National Archives and Records Administration. DHS' National Protection and Programs Directorate generally deletes cyberthreat information when it is three years old or "no longer needed for agency business," whichever is later, the privacy assessment states.
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.
Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.
Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.
NetFlow | Netflow Traffic Analyzer | SolarWinds
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:19
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"Interesse Nederlands kabelbedrijf in PBS"
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 15:16
Door: Redactie - January 26, 2016
Er wordt al jaren over gesproken, maar nu is er contact met Nederlandse kabelbedrijven en volgens de Volkskrant is er momenteel goede hoop dat het gaat lukken. De Amerikaanse publieke omroep PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) doet een concrete poging om voet aan de grond te krijgen in Nederland.
Er zou 1 groot kabelbedrijf grote interesse hebben. De zender zegt minimaal 1 miljoen aansluitingen in Nederland nodig te hebben om uit de kosten te komen. Er is ook al een Britse versie die goede kijkcijfers heeft. Opvallend is dat de mensen achter PBS vooral zo goed te spreken zijn over de kennis over Amerika onder Nederlanders.
FrontlineDiepgang is het 'selling point' waarmee de op 4 na meest bekeken zender in de Verenigde Staten zich hoopt te profileren. Vooral het programma Frontline, dat is overladen met Emmy Awards, is bekend vanwege haar onderzoeksjournalistiek. Verder zijn er veel documentaires over nieuws, cultuur, geschiedenis en wetenschap. PBS trekt wel een stuk minder kijkers dan de grote concurrenten.
http://www.pbs.org/
De inkomsten moeten voornamelijk komen uit giften van kijkers en sponsors. Ook de Amerikaanse regering betaalt fors mee. Grote pleitbezorger in Nederland is BNR-commentator en televisieproducent Bernard Hammelburg, die zelf jarenlang correspondent voor de Nederlandse radio en televisie in de Verenigde Staten is geweest. Een paar jaar geleden sprak hij al van een 'schatkist vol pareltjes'.
http://www.volkskrant.nl/televisie/amerikaanse-omroep-zet-in-op-nederlandse-markt~a4232014/
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Ha Ha: Hillary Clinton's Top Financial Supporter Now Controls ''The Onion''
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 14:53
Onion staffers may think twice before they produce more stories like Hillary Clinton Tries To Woo Voters By Rescinding Candidacy, Hillary Clinton To Nation: 'Do Not Fuck This Up For Me,' Hillary Clinton: The Merciless, Unrelenting March To The Presidency, or the signed Hillary Clinton editorial titled I'm Weighing Whether Or Not I Want To Go Through The Hell Of Appealing To You Idiotic, Uninformed Oafs.
Many news outlets covered Univision Communications' purchase last week of a stake in The Onion, the world's leading news publication. According to NPR, Univision bought a 40 percent controlling interest in the company, and also acquired the option to buy the remainder of The Onion in the future.
But what's gotten no attention at all is that Haim Saban, Hillary Clinton's biggest fan and financial supporter, is Univision's co-owner, chairman, and CEO. Saban and his wife, Cheryl, are Hillary Clinton's top financial backers, having given $2,046,600 to support her political campaigns and at least $10 million more to the Clinton Foundation, on whose board Cheryl Saban sits. The Sabans are also generous supporters of the overall Democratic Party infrastructure, donating, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a total of $16.1 million since 1989 to Democratic and liberal candidates, party committees, leadership PACs, and federally focused 527s.
Hillary Clinton at Saban Research Institute with Cheryl and Haim Saban in 2003.
Photo: Bob Riha Jr/WireImage
Saban badly wants Hillary Clinton to be elected president this year, vowing to provide ''as much as needed'' to see it happen, since ''she would be great for the country and great for the world,'' and ''on issues I care about, [Clinton] is pristine plus.''An extensive New Yorker profile of Saban recalls how Saban publicly described his ''three ways to be influential in American politics'' in 2009. One was political donations. Another was establishing think tanks (he founded the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in 2002). And the third was controlling media outlets.
Univision also owns The Root, and Saban has made attempts to buy the Los Angeles Times and, he says, the New York Times.
Saban is not shy about throwing his weight around. In 2001, when Brazilian regulatory approval became a roadblock to the sale of Fox Family, the company he founded with Rupert Murdoch, he asked Bill Clinton to call the president of Brazil to push for a quick approval. When the deal went through, Saban personally made $1.5 billion; the next year he gave a ''record-breaking'' $7 million to the Democratic Party for a new national headquarters and $5 million to Clinton's presidential library.
The New York Timesreported in 2009 that Saban was apparently part of a scheme before the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress in which Saban would threaten then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that he would withhold donations if Pelosi didn't make then-Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., chair of the House Intelligence Committee. (In return, according to the Times report, which was based on telephone calls intercepted by the National Security Agency, Harman would lobby the Bush administration for leniency for two pro-Israel lobbyists under investigation for espionage. Harman denied ever speaking to the Justice Department about the case, but did not address whether she contacted any White House officials.)
And according to a high-ranking official of the Young Democrats of America, during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary Saban offered to donate $1 million to the YDA if the organization's two super delegates committed to Hillary Clinton.
Beyond Saban's deep connections to the Clintons, Onion staffers likely have taken note of his statement that ''I'm a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.''
The Onion, in the past, has published articles like Israel: Palestinians Given Ample Time To Evacuate To Nearby Bombing Sites, Israel Vows To Use Veto Power If Chuck Hagel Confirmed As U.S. Secretary Of Defense, and Israel Calls For Increase In U.S. Taxes To Fund Attacks On Gaza.
Saban said in 2014 that if Israel believed the anticipated international nuclear deal with Iran ''puts Israel's security at risk,'' then Israel should ''bomb the living daylights out of these sons of bitches.''
The Onion's lead story the day its sale to Univision was announced was Iranian Nuclear Scientists Hurriedly Flush 200 Pounds Of Enriched Uranium Down Toilet During Surprise U.N. Inspection. (To be fair, The Onion has long been uncharacteristically ignorant and unfunny on Iran, running stories like Iranian Team Openly Working On Bomb In Negotiating Room.)
Onion writers have in the past described repeated battles with its advertising side over what it publishes, culminating with the company's president sitting the editor-in-chief down to demand ''good taste and good sense'' in its issue after Hurricane Katrina.
The Onion declined to answer any questions about its change in ownership beyond providing a previously released memo from its CEO to its staff. Saban was not available to comment.
Top photo: Composite of actual Onion headlines.
Congress wants answers on Juniper breach
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 14:50
Congress
Congress wants answers on Juniper breachBy Sean LyngaasJan 26, 2016Congress wants answers from federal agencies on how a potentially dire breach to Juniper Networks' firewalls could be affecting federal networks.
The bipartisan leadership of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has sent letters to the heads of major agencies asking them to produce any evidence that their agencies used the compromised Juniper products. Lawmakers also want to know how agencies discovered any Juniper-related vulnerabilities on their networks; what remedial steps the agencies took, including applying the software patch issued by Juniper; and what version of the company's operating system the agencies were using.
Juniper, whose firewalls are used extensively in the public and private sectors, announced in December 2015 that it had discovered unauthorized code in its operating system that could allow a "knowledgeable attacker" to gain administrative access to its firewalls and decrypt virtual private network connections.
CNN reported a day later that federal officials feared the Juniper backdoor had given foreign spies access to the encrypted communications of the U.S. government and companies for the past three years. A spokesperson at the Department of Homeland Security has said the investigation is ongoing.
Five days after Juniper reported the vulnerabilities, the Defense Department, through the Defense Security Service, warned contractors that one of the vulnerabilities could allow remote administrative access to a device via the Secure Shell or Telnet protocol.
A Juniper spokesperson recently declined to provide FCW with a list of the firm's federal clients. Now lawmakers want their own list.
DOD is among Juniper's big federal customers; dozens of Juniper products are on the Defense Information Systems Agency's Unified Capabilities Approved Products List.
Lawmakers want a response from agency leaders by Feb. 4.
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.
Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.
Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.
The U.S. Intervention in Libya Was Such a Smashing Success That a Sequel is Coming
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 13:34
The immediate aftermath of the NATO bombing of Libya was a time of highgloating. Just as Iraq War advocates pointed to the capture and killing of Saddam Hussein as proof that their war was a success, Libya War advocates pointed to the capture and brutal killing of Muammar Gaddafi as proof of their vindication. War advocates such as Anne-Marie Slaughter and Nicholas Kristof were writing columns celebrating their prescience and mocking war opponents as discredited, and The New York Times published a front-page article declaring: ''U.S. Tactics in Libya May be a Model for Other Efforts.'' It was widely expected that Hillary Clinton, one of the leading advocates for and architects of the bombing campaign, would be regarded as a Foreign Policy Visionary for the grand Libya success: ''We came, we saw, he died,'' Clinton sociopathically boasted about the mob rape and murder of Gaddafi while guffawing on 60 Minutes.
Since then, Libya '' so predictably '' has all but completely collapsed, spending years now drowning in instability, anarchy, fractured militia rule, sectarian conflict, and violent extremism. The execution of Saddam Hussein was no vindication of that war nor a sign of improved lives for Iraqis, and the same was true for the mob killing of Gaddafi. As I wrote the day after Gadaffi fled Tripoli and Democratic Party loyalists were prancing around in war victory dances: ''I'm genuinely astounded at the pervasive willingness to view what has happened in Libya as some sort of grand triumph even though virtually none of the information needed to make that assessment is known yet, including: how many civilians have died, how much more bloodshed will there be, what will be needed to stabilize that country and, most of all, what type of regime will replace Gadhafi? '... When foreign powers use military force to help remove a tyrannical regime that has ruled for decades, all sorts of chaos, violence, instability and suffering '-- along with a slew of unpredictable outcomes '-- are inevitable.''But the much bigger question was when (not if, but when) the instability and extremism that predictably followed the NATO bombing would be used to justify a new U.S.-led war '' also exactly as happened in Iraq. Back in 2012, I asked the question this way:
How much longer will it be before we hear that military intervention in Libya is (again) necessary, this time to control the anti-US extremists who are now armed and empowered by virtue of the first intervention? US military interventions are most adept at ensuring that future US military interventions will always be necessary.
We now have our answer, from The New York Times:
Worried about a growing threat from the Islamic State in Libya, the United States and its allies are increasing reconnaissance flights and intelligence collecting there and preparing for possible airstrikes and commando raids, senior American policy makers, commanders and intelligence officials said this week. . . . ''It's fair to say that we're looking to take decisive military action against ISIL in conjunction with the political process'' in Libya, [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph] Dunford said. ''The president has made clear that we have the authority to use military force.''
Just as there was no Al Qaeda or ISIS to attack in Iraq until the U.S. bombed its government, there was no ISIS in Libya until NATO bombed its. Now the U.S. is about to seize on the effects of its own bombing campaign in Libya to justify an entirely new bombing campaign in that same country. The New York Times Editorial Page, which supported the original bombing of Libya, yesterday labelled plans for the new bombing campaign ''deeply troubling,'' explaining: ''A new military intervention in Libya would represent a significant progression of a war that could easily spread to other countries on the continent.'' In particular, ''this significant escalation is being planned without a meaningful debate in Congress about the merits and risks of a military campaign that is expected to include airstrikes and raids by elite American troops'' (the original Libya bombing not only took place without Congressional approval, but was ordered by Obama after Congress rejected such authorization).
This was supposed to be the supreme model of Humanitarian Intervention. It achieved vanishingly few humanitarian benefits, while causing massive humanitarian suffering, because '' as usual '' the people who executed the ''humanitarian'' war (and most who cheer-led for it) were interested only when the glories of bombing and killing were flourishing but cared little for actual humanitarianism (as evidenced by their almost complete indifference to the aftermath of their bombing). As it turns out, one of the few benefits of the NATO bombing of Libya will redound to the permanent winners in the private-public axis that constitutes the machine of Endless Militarism: it provided a pretext for another new war.
Photo: French President Nicholas Sarkozy, left, Libya's NTC leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, center, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, right, gesture during their visit to Benghazi, Libya, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011.
Jailed E.C. councilman sworn into office : Politics
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 11:57
VALPARAISO '-- Locks and bars didn't stop East Chicago Councilman Robert Battle's inauguration.
The newly sworn-in Battle can retain his public title and annual salary of $42,356 a year despite being held in Porter County Jail on federal drug and homicide charges.
Michelle Fajman, Lake County elections director, said Friday she received a document stating Battle has been sworn into office for his new term as representative as East Chicago's 3rd District.
She said she didn't know the circumstances around Battle's oath of office, but it was conducted by a notary public, who was identified by the Porter County clerk's office as someone who was in the Porter County Jail.
Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds, who couldn't be reached Friday for comment, said earlier Battle is in custody, and he would take no action to prevent the ceremony since he had no authority to do so.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service, which has custody over Battle, said earlier there are no rules restricting Battle's swearing-in.
Battle ran unopposed in the November election, receiving 308 votes.
State law requires elected officials to take the oath of office no later than 30 days after the beginning of their new term, which began Jan. 1 for Battle, or vacate the office.
He has been in federal detention since his arrest Nov. 17. He is pleading not guilty to a five-count indictment alleging he possessed cocaine and marijuana and killed a street gang member as part of a drug-dealing conspiracy.
Battle has said through his attorney that he shot Reimundo Camarillo Jr., 31, on Oct. 12 in self-defense. Authorities have said East Chicago's ShotSpotter technology recorded "methodical three shots" that Battle fired.
Battle is scheduled to stand trial the week of Aug. 8, 2016.
Carbon emissions 'postpone ice age' - BBC News
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 11:50
Image copyrightIttizImage caption Earth has been through a cycle of ice ages and warm periods over the past 2.5 million years The next ice age may have been delayed by over 50,000 years because of the greenhouse gases put in the atmosphere by humans, scientists in Germany say.
They analysed the trigger conditions for a glaciation, like the one that gripped Earth over 12,000 years ago.
The shape of the planet's orbit around the Sun would be conducive now, they find, but the amount of carbon dioxide currently in the air is far too high.
Earth is set for a prolonged warm phase, they tell the journal Nature.
"In theory, the next ice age could be even further into the future, but there is no real practical importance in discussing whether it starts in 50,000 or 100,000 years from now," Andrey Ganopolski from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said.
"The important thing is that it is an illustration that we have a geological power now. We can change the natural sequence of events for tens of thousands of years," he told BBC News.
Earth has been through a cycle of ice ages and warm periods over the past 2.5 million years, referred to as the Quaternary Period.
This has seen ice sheets come and go. At its maximum extent, the last glaciation witnessed a big freeze spread over much of North America, northern Europe, Russia and Asia.
In the south, a vast expanse of what are now Chile and Argentina were also iced up.
Planet rockA fundamental parameter determining what dips Earth into an ice age is the changing nature of its orbit around the Sun.
The passage around the star is not a perfect circle and over time our planet's axis of rotation also rocks back and forth.
These movements alter the amount of solar radiation falling on the Earth's surface, and if a critical threshold is reached in mid latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere then a glaciation can be initiated.
Dr Ganopolski colleagues confirm this in their modelling but show also the role played by the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
And one of their findings is that Earth probably missed the inception by only a narrow margin a few hundred years ago, just before the industrial revolution took hold.
"We are now in a period when our (northern) summer is furthest from the Sun," the Potsdam researcher explained.
"Under normal circumstances, the interglacial would be terminated, and a new ice age would start. So, in principle, we are in the perfect conditions from an astronomical point of view. If we had a CO2 concentration of 240 parts per million (200 years ago) then an ice age could start, but luckily we had a concentration that was higher, 280ppm." Today, industrial society has taken that concentration to over 400ppm.
Fast metabolismThe team says that an interglacial climate would probably have been sustained anyway for at least 20,000 years, and, very probably, for 50,000 years, even if CO2 had stayed at its eighteenth century level.
But the almost 500 gigatonnes of carbon that has been released since the Industrial Revolution means we will likely miss the next best astronomical entry point into a glaciation, and with a further 500 gigatonnes of emissions the "probability of glacial inception during the next 100,000 years is notably reduced", the scientists say in their Nature paper.
Add a further 500 Gt C on top of that and the next ice age is virtually guaranteed to be delayed beyond the next 100,000 years.
Commenting on the study, Prof Eric Wolff from the University of Cambridge, UK, said: "There have been previous papers suggesting that the next ice age is many tens of thousands of years away, and that the combination of seasonal solar energy at the latitude where an ice sheet would form, plus CO2, is what determines the onset of an ice age. But this paper goes much further towards quantifying where the limits are.
"It represents a nice confirmation that there is a relatively simple way of estimating the combination of insolation and CO2 to start an ice age," he told the Science Media Centre.
And Prof Chris Rapley, from University College London, added: "This is an interesting result that provides further evidence that we have entered a new geological [Epoch] - 'The Anthropocene' - in which human actions are affecting the very metabolism of the planet."
Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos
Danish teen fought off her attacker - now she'll face fine - The Local
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 11:47
Police said the girl will be fined, even though the pepper spray stopped her attacker. Photo: Colourbox
A 17-year-old girl who was physically and sexually attacked in S¸nderborg will herself face charges for using pepper spray to fend off her assailant.
The teenager told police that she was attacked in central S¸nderborg on Wednesday at around 10pm by an English-speaking man in dark clothing. She said the man knocked her to the ground and then unbuttoned her pants and attempted to undress her.
The girl was able to save herself from further assault by using pepper spray on the attacker, but now she may be the one who ends up in legal trouble.
''It is illegal to possess and use pepper spray, so she will likely be charged for that,'' local police spokesman Knud Kirsten told TV Syd.
Numerous readers wrote in the comments section on TV Syd's story about the incident that they would be willing to pay the girl's fine, which will most likely be 500 kroner.
The man who attacked the 17-year-old fled from the scene and has not been charged.
It is not known, however, if the assailant in this latest incident was an asylum seeker or refugee.
In related news, a nightclub in S¸nderborg is now barring guests from entering if they cannot speak Danish, English or German. Other Danish nightclubs are also reportedly considering similar moves.
The Surprising Secret Behind Doctor Referrals - MarketWatch
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 05:21
It's early Tuesday morning and Ashleigh McKenzie is behind the wheel of her Toyota Sequoia, iPhone in hand, squinting as she navigates the rural back roads of southwestern Alabama. The petite, energetic blonde has a full day of doctor visits ahead -- and the first one, she says, is "kind of out in the boonies." When she finally locates the modest one-story building (tucked off the main road, a few long blocks from both the Baptist church and the tanning salon), McKenzie catches a lucky break: The waiting room's almost empty. So after greeting the front-desk staff with a cheery "Hey, y'all!" and inquiring whether the doctor has a few minutes, she's ushered straight to a sunny private office.
The appointment starts with a little get-to-know-you chitchat, during which McKenzie learns that this internal medicine doctor, who started her practice a few months earlier, is already busy with a growing roster of patients. In the sports-crazy South, the newly minted M.D. says she's already seen a few teenage concussions. And of course, U.S. demographics being what they are, she's got a steady influx of aging patients complaining of everything from chest pains to backaches to scary-looking skin growths. In short, plenty of folks who might need to be referred to a specialist.
All good news for McKenzie -- because even though she is nursing a lingering cold, that's not what brings the 32-year-old University of Alabama grad, stylishly turned out in a black dress and triple strand of pearls, to the small town of Bay Minette (population: 8,500). She's making the trek as a principal of AdvisorsMD, one of a small but growing number of health care consultancies around the country that promise to help specialist physicians reel in more referrals by marketing their services to fellow doctors.
In this business, it's all about pitching one doctor to another -- often without one having seen the other in action, or face-to-face. On this morning, McKenzie is promoting two clients: a 20-doctor orthopedic group trying to fend off a nearby competitor and a solo urogynecologist who handles pelvic and bladder issues. But she knows she has only a few minutes to get through her pitch, a spiel that touches on a host of body parts, from arthritic hands and hips ("We've got some top surgeons") to leaky bladders ("Do you get many older patients complaining of incontinence?"). Not an expert on medicine herself, McKenzie has brought along some show-and-tell, including a glossy flier that looks like a yearbook page for the lab-coat set, complete with 20 smiling head shots of doctors posing with diplomas or spinal vertebrae models.
The internist, with patients waiting outside, nods absently. There is no discussion about the physicians' credentials or experience. (McKenzie later says she has met this doctor before and that clinical quality of AdvisorsMD's clients is assumed.) She doesn't describe the nonsurgical treatments the bladder guy offers, nor how the orthopedists handle pain management. But wait times are a different matter; McKenzie excitedly describes a referral hotline that guarantees appointments within 24 hours. A business card, with an X-ray of a skeletal hand holding a phone, completes the pitch. "This is good for the girls at the front desk to keep handy," she says.
Most patients assume that if they've got an ailment their family doctor can't fix, they'll be referred to a specialist who's, well, special for reasons they expect: They are board-certified, are skilled in the latest techniques and boast an impressive track record of healing. Most also presume that their own doctor has pretty thoroughly vetted the "ologist" professionally, if not personally -- after all, their health and well-being are at stake. So it may come as a surprise that the nattily dressed guy or gal sitting two chairs down in the waiting room, the one who brought that jumbo tin of caramel popcorn for the front-desk staff, may play a role in determining the next surgeon they see.
With specialists' operating margins having fallen in the past decade and health care reforms putting increasing pressure on their bottom line, more are turning to this burgeoning group of marketing pros to open new-patient pipelines. For anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 a month, these so-called referral-development consultants will provide marketing plans and dispatch a "physician liaison" to pound the pavement and praise the doctors' prowess. The pitches can focus as much on waiting-room decor as on clinical credentials, but in the end, marketers say, they're sparing doctors the roadside-billboard approach to bringing in patients, and reshaping a long-ignored, but important component of doctoring. "I tell doctors how to sell their business without looking needy, cheesy, greedy or sleazy," says Stewart Gandolf, founding partner of Healthcare Success Strategies, a Southern California medical marketing firm, which says it helped double referrals for one Midwest ophthalmologist in a six-month period.
But while no one can fault a doctor for trying to drum up business in tough times, critics say that medicine and marketing can make for strange bedfellows. To be sure, accepting payment for a referral is illegal and patient advocates say that no doctor will intentionally make a bad referral. Physicians who accept marketing pitches insist they're not unduly influenced. But even proponents of the process say it's easy to see how carefully crafted messaging -- the better-looking brochure, the faster-talking liaison -- could subtly sway doctors. Or how a steady stream of thank-you gifts might keep a specialist top-of-mind. (Even years later, the Mobile, Ala., dental community still raves about one oral surgeon's gift basket: ribs and bottles of Jack Daniels.) "This isn't supposed to be something where referrals are facilitated by slickness," says Lawrence Nelson, a bioethicist at California's Santa Clara University. "That's kind of shallow."
Especially, experts say, in an age when care options are proliferating at a dizzying rate. Got nagging back pain? Choices include not only orthopedists, chiropractors and osteopaths, but also neurologists, rheumatologists and physiatrists. (And that's not counting controversial laser-spine-surgery centers.) Indeed, the number of specialist (and subspecialist) categories has nearly doubled in the past decade and a half, making it all the more complicated for patients to be shipped off to the right office. But even for simple referrals, critics complain that patients -- who get nearly 70 percent of specialist referrals from their primary care doctors -- have no idea that this world of white-coat wooing exists. The American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics requires doctors to provide patients with "relevant information" about potential procedures, but has no guidelines on what to tell them about the specialist to whom they're being sent. "It goes against the basic trust that is the centerpiece of the physician''patient relationship," says Peter Clark, director of the Institute of Catholic Bioethics at Philadelphia's St. Joseph's University.
Most people, of course, rarely give the source of a medical referral any thought. It's just a name scribbled on a pad -- until something goes wrong. Curtis Brown, a 56-year-old New Yorker, remembers his general practitioner choosing from a list of insurance-approved names when he started losing a lot of weight from an apparent stomach problem. The specialist, he says, put him through nine months of invasive tests before telling him to just "eat more." Two years, two more referrals and four pants sizes later (he dropped more than 35 pounds), Brown finally got a diagnosis: celiac disease.
According to most doctors, in the past, referrals were handled through a fairly simple professional network, with specialists meeting internists and family doctors at hospitals, conferences and, yes, occasionally in the golf clubhouse. It wasn't a perfect pipeline -- critics say too many referrals could be based on personal relationships. Still, Dr. Bernard Lown, a now-retired Nobel Prize''winning cardiologist who practiced for more than five decades in the Boston area, says the emphasis was usually on someone's medical bona fides -- where they trained, what they published and what they've accomplished as a healer. The bottom line, he says: "They looked for patient outcomes."
Today, a lot of that pipeline has evaporated. Many educational events where doctors used to mingle have moved online. Doctors struggling with shrinking reimbursements and rising costs say they have no time for recreational bonding. And the world of big-box medicine is making it tougher for independent doctors to develop referral-worthy relationships. Not only are health systems and hospitals buying up more medical practices -- and directing their doctor''employees to keep all their referral business in-house -- but they're also increasingly shutting many doctors out of the hospital altogether and using their own on-site physicians, called hospitalists. These developments are troubling to specialists because, according to one national survey, four in 10 medical-office managers flagged referrals from other physicians as the most effective way to attract new patients.
It's numbers like those that got the attention of the Neck & Back Medical Center, a doctors group in Laguna Hills, Calif. With business down 40 percent in four years, the group decided to wade into the marketing waters by hiring a local outfit, The Referral Specialists. On a recent rainy Friday, two of the partners are cooling their heels in a treatment room at a nearby pain doctor, chaperoned by their physician liaison. "I've been wanting to do this for years," says Dr. Corey Gould, whose partner arrived still wearing his dark-blue scrubs. The two have been promised a chance to liaise with the pain guy over a lunch, but are forced to idle for nearly an hour in a windowless room with a view of the medical-waste bin. Lunch consists of sandwiches and mini tarts eaten off a nearby exam table.
Ultimately, the face time with the pain doctor lasts less than 20 minutes. Medical procedures are briefly discussed, including the merits of induced microfractures. But the conversation quickly turns to business -- which insurance they take, what's happening with a competitor down the road. When the pain doctor queries Gould and his partner about their marketing firm, the rep perks up. On her way out, she catches up with him, eager to schmooze with a potential new client. "I'm sure people tell you that you look like Robert Downey Jr.," she says.
If doctors are just getting in on the referral game, hospitals have been at it for some time -- and on a larger scale. Whereas patients see a hospital only as a place for serious tests and procedures, administrators see a hospital also as a collection of business areas (radiology, ORs, cancer centers) with specific revenue targets -- goals most readily reached when providers send along more patients. When hospitals buy physician practices and become their bosses, federal law prevents them from tying doctors' compensation to in-house referrals. But they are allowed to incentivize them by offering bonuses based on the overall performance of the hospital. "Go into a hospital board room, and 99 percent of the time they're talking about referrals and physician relations," says Timothy Crowley, a former managing director at Leerink Swann, a health care investment bank.
Indeed, at a recent Hospital and Physician Relations Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital administrators and doctors gathered for three days to collectively fret about everything from "physician alignment" to "referral leakage." In one session, a Pennsylvania hospital official identifies one type of leak -- proactive patients doing their own doctor research -- as a growing challenge. Not that patients can't be corralled. Many hospitals now employ staffers called "navigators," who help recovering patients with paperwork and follow-up appointments. Part of their job, though, is insuring that the patients' next specialist has the same hospital logo on his or her lab coat.
For advocates, the problem with all this is just how little consumers are aware of the invisible hand of medical marketing and how it might affect their care. "I never think you should make a referral without telling [the patient] why you're making it," says William Andereck, medical director of the California Pacific Medical Center's program in medicine and human values, who lectures widely on ethical and economic issues in health care. In general, though, most doctors say marketing campaigns won't affect care because they're always going to vet referrals. When he's not selling his own practice, and he's the one listening to the pitch, Gould is often familiar with the names marketers are throwing out, he says; if he's not, he researches them. Would he tell patients the source of a referral? "I have never been asked that," he says. "If they asked, I'd tell them how I met them."
Advocates say patients now need to be more vigilant about how they're getting shipped around. Besides querying the doctor who's giving the name, they can use websites (like certificationmatters.org and castleconnolly.com) that verify and rate specialists. For those who want more details, the federal government will soon launch a major new resource: comprehensive physician "report cards." Based on the mother lode of records -- millions of Medicare files -- the reports will offer details on things like doctors' complication rates and their patients' hospital readmission rates. "It's an almost universal view into the behavior of doctors around the country," says David Lansky, CEO of Pacific Business Group on Health, a nonprofit coalition of employers concerned about quality and affordability in health care.
Still, that's months away, and most experts say referral marketing will only become more entrenched as health care cuts continue. Back at AdvisorsMD in Alabama, McKenzie says the company's expecting a strong 2012, with plans to launch new software that reps and doctors will be able to use to build more relationships. Like many in this field, she says, the firm is careful about which doctors it works with; she adds that the firm's efforts improve patient service by keeping doctors on their toes. After all, the best referral in the world won't keep the patients coming back if the doctor runs late, has bad bedside manners and overcharges. "We're not going to represent any Joe Blow who botches up patients," she says.
In Sweden's Ikea attack, two migrants, two slayings and rampant fear of refugees - The Washington Post
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 21:18
Kerstin S¶derstr¶m was considering which frying pan to purchase when she heard the screams.
S¶derstr¶m and her next-door neighbor, Eivy Albinsson, had just finished eating lunch in the cafeteria of an Ikea in V¤ster¥s, Sweden, when they headed downstairs to shop. S¶derstr¶m, a middle-aged woman with glasses and a green thumb, stopped to admire the big box store's flower selection. Then the two friends walked to the kitchenware department.
That's when they heard it.
''A shriek-like sound,'' Albinsson would recall later. ''Heart-rending screams,'' according to another Ikea shopper. Screams so piercing S¶derstr¶m couldn't tell whether they belonged to a man or a woman.
They belonged to both.
Just a few yards away from the two women, a mother and her son lay lifelessly in rapidly expanding pools of blood. A severed finger lay on the store's linoleum floor.
Nearby lay another man, also injured: Abraham Ukbagabir, a 35-year-old Eritrean man who had arrived in Sweden only five months earlier.
Next to him lay a bloody knife.
As S¶derstr¶m and Albinsson screamed for the police, a third man '-- like Ukbagabir, young and thin '-- walked past them and toward the exit.
''Stop him,'' the women yelled but the man disappeared up the stairs and into the crowd of frightened customers.
The Aug. 10 attack '-- described in detail in police reports obtained by The Washington Post '-- would prove to be one of the most scandalous in recent Swedish history. The mother and son, both Swedes, died from their stab wounds. The two suspects, Ukbagabir and a fellow Eritrean named Yohannes Mahari, were quickly arrested for murder.
They were both asylum-seekers.
['Mad' stabbings turn Ikea store in Sweden into a house of horrors]
The killings could not have come at a more fraught time, for Sweden and for Europe. The continent and the country are both scrambling to deal with an influx of millions of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East. Aside from Germany, Sweden has taken in more refugees '-- 75,000 in the first six months of 2015 '-- than any other country in Europe. But that policy has also fueled fierce criticism, along with the meteoric rise of the far-right political party Sweden Democrats.
In the days after the Ikea attack, rumors and outrage swirled on nationalist Swedish Web sites. Bloggers claimed that the two Eritreans were Muslims who had screamed ''Allahu Akbar,'' or ''God is great'' in Arabic, and beheaded their white victims in an act of overt terrorism.
''Time to wake up, Swedish people,'' wrote Bj¶rn S¶der, a top Sweden Democrats official, in a Facebook post blaming the Ikea attack on the country's pro-immigration policies.
The reality of the Ikea incident is much more complicated, however, from the true identity of the killer to the motivation for the attack. It's the story of two migrants thrust together by fate and united by a mistaken media. And it's a story of desperation, perhaps madness, but not Islam.
The murders and the misinformation surrounding them are instructive, however. They shed light on the very real fear that shakes Sweden, Europe and '-- to a lesser extent '-- the United States as millions of migrants flee from Syria and seek asylum in the west.
''This happened at a time when there is a very weak government, when immigration is what everybody is talking about, when we have a radical nationalist party, the Sweden Democrats, becoming almost the biggest party in Sweden,'' said Daniel Poohl, editor-in-chief of Swedish investigative magazine Expo. ''So there are a lot of things happening in Sweden that create the feeling of 'What the f'-- is going on?'''
''This killing became the epicenter of that kind of feeling.''
Migrants from the same country, but worlds apart
When Abraham Ukbagabir arrived in Sweden sometime this spring, he hoped he had put Eritrea and his painful journey behind him forever. The refugee shelter in Arboga, a small town near V¤ster¥s, was little more than a low-slung motel made of corrugated metal and cinder blocks. But for Ukbagabir, a handsome 35-year-old, it was a new beginning.
Even here, in the middle of the Scandinavian countryside, however, he was still surrounded by men like him. More than 80 other migrants lived in the shelter, most of them young men eager for a better life. Among them was at least one other Eritrean: a lanky 23-year-old with curly hair and skinny jeans named Yohannes Mahari. By the time Ukbagabir arrived in April or May, Mahari had already been in Arboga for a year.
The two Eritreans exchanged numbers and made small talk in their native language of tigrinja. But they quickly realized they were separated by something more powerful than their shared provenance.
Papers.
Whereas Mahari had somehow managed to arrive in Sweden without being apprehended elsewhere in Europe, Ukbagabir had been initially stopped in Italy. ''He was the subject of some altercation in Italy, and he had had to provide his fingerprints there,'' according to a police report. According to European Union's immigration rules, dubbed the Dublin Regulation, Ukbagabir would have to return to Italy to claim asylum.
On the morning of Aug. 10, Ukbagabir took the train from Arboga into V¤ster¥s, where officials at the immigration office delivered the news: He was going to be deported.
''He was very disappointed to hear that,'' according to an interview he later gave to police.
As Ukbagabir walked out of the immigration office, however, he bumped into Mahari. The younger man had received permission to stay in Sweden two months earlier. Now he was at the immigration office to obtain a personal identity number, which would allow him to work and receive welfare benefits. The two men's lives were headed in different directions.
''Mahari asked [Ukbagabir] what the purpose of his visit there was all about,'' according to Mahari's interview with police. ''Abraham just laughed.''
Then Ukbagabir had an idea: He suggested Mahari accompany him to Ikea to buy a cellphone. He even bought the younger man a bus ticket.
Ikea, the symbol of Sweden
Mahari had never been to Ikea before. He had lived in Sweden for 16 months but with no Swedish, English or money, his life was narrowly circumscribed. When Ukbagabir used his limited English to guide them to the big box store, the younger Eritrean witnessed his adopted country's full cultural and consumerist power for the first time.
For several minutes, Mahari followed Ukbagabir around the store, as if overwhelmed. But he didn't see any cellphones. And as they walked through the kitchenware department, Ukbagabir began picking up items and mumbling about needing to buy them.
First it was a pot. Then it was two razor-sharp kitchen knives.
When Ukbagabir began opening their plastic protective packaging, Mahari got nervous. He asked the older man if he was going to buy the knives, but Ukbagabir didn't answer.
Instead, he attacked.
Carola Herlin, 55, and her 28-year-old son Emil were across the kitchenware section when Ukbagabir suddenly came at them with a knife in each hand. It's unclear which one he attacked first, but it was Emil's finger that was sliced off as he tried to defend himself. Their screams filled the Ikea, startling Kerstin S¶derstr¶m and Eivy Albinsson as they looked at frying pans nearby.
As Ukbagabir slashed at the two strangers, Mahari fled.
''Mahari claims that Abraham did not give him any hint as to what was about to happen,'' according to his interview with police. ''Mahari believes that Abraham very possibly was also planning to attack Mahari also.''
''Yohannes states that he saw the knife, and that he became very frightened,'' the report continued. ''He repeats that he was shocked, became afraid, and that everything happened too fast. He states that he doesn't know anything. He adds that a crowd of people gathered, and that he just ran from there.''
''Yohannes ran away from there, heading for the bus stop as he was 'scared to death,''' according to the report. ''The police came to [the bus stop], at which time he couldn't speak for himself due to his limited language capacity,'' so cops tackled him to the ground, injuring his right knee.
When V¤ster¥s police investigators interrogated him about what happened inside the Ikea, Mahari said '-- through a translator '-- that he felt ''betrayed'' by his fellow Eritrean, who had ''lured'' him there.
''He murdered them,'' Mahari said.
Chaos and confusion
When police arrived at the Ikea, however, Mahari was the only man they arrested. Witnesses including S¶derstr¶m and Albinsson had spotted him fleeing from the scene of the crime.
Ukbagabir, meanwhile, was lying on the floor of the kitchenware department, ''severely injured but still alive,'' according to a police report. Paramedics whisked what they thought was a third victim to the hospital.
As cops interviewed other witnesses and reviewed security footage, however, it quickly became clear that Ukbagabir wasn't a victim, but the culprit. When they were finally able to interview him three days later, he admitted as much.
''Abraham is asked by the interrogation leader how and why he was found injured at Ikea in V¤ster¥s, whereupon he again says that all he wants is peace,'' according to the interview report. ''Abraham is asked thereafter if he had become involved in a conflict, or had attacked some people inside the store, and Abraham states that he attacked two individuals, and that he used a knife.''
Ukbagabir explained that he ''just lost control'' after learning that he was going to be sent back to Italy, according to his interview. ''That's why he committed the acts inside Ikea against these two individuals '... to make people understand him.''
He said he wasn't even sure who he attacked, but ''they were just nearby, in the vicinity, and that it was just mere chance that these two individuals were struck,'' according to the report. ''Abraham states at the interrogation proceeding that the individuals that he attacked with a knife were innocent, and that he hoped they would reach paradise.''
Ukbagabir also told the investigators that after killing Carola and Emil Herlin, he turned his weapon on himself. ''His desire is that God will receive him,'' police wrote in their interview report.
Police say the attacks were not religiously motivated, however. Both Ukbagabir and Mahari are Christian, Eva Mor(C)n, assistant prosecutor for the V¤stmanland District Court, told The Washington Post in a phone interview.
Finally, Ukbagabir told police that Mahari had ''nothing to do with the event.''
Time to wake up
By the time police dropped the murder charges against Mahari, however, it was already too late. Swedish and international media '-- including The Washington Post '-- had reported his arrest. But the real problem was the wild speculation spreading on blogs and Web sites, especially Flashback, a kind of Swedish version of reddit.
Some commenters claimed that Ukbagabir and Mahari were Muslim. Others said they shouted ''Allahu Akbar'' as they deliberately targeted two white Christians. And some went so far as to insist that the two Eritreans had beheaded their victims.
A grainy photo posted on Swedish and American Web sites claimed to show one of the decapitated victims inside the store.
''Maybe the murder scene was not random, but rather a deliberately selected scene for a bloodbath on the Swedes at the most people terribly symbolic place of all, Ikea?'' wrote right-wing Swedish blogger Percy Rosengren.
''I hope that rage burns like a welding flame,'' he added. ''Sweden is in a state of war.''
Sweden Democrats, a right-wing party that has risen rapidly from obscurity to become the third most powerful party in government thanks to an anti-immigration platform, sought to exploit the attack to its advantage.
''In times like these it may be time to recall how [former prime minister and political opponent] Fredrik Reinfeldt wanted us to 'open our hearts' and how he thanked us 'for choosing Sweden,''' wrote Bj¶rn S¶der, one of Sweden Democrats' top officials, on Facebook.
''Do not think that the murdered mother and son at Ikea in V¤ster¥s would stick with the ex-Prime Minister,'' S¶der said. ''Time to wake up, Swedish people, and consign [Sweden's pro-immigration] policy where it belongs! On the trash heap.''
With anti-immigrant rumors and rhetoric spreading online, police sent officers to protect refugee shelters in Arboga and elsewhere. But it wasn't enough.
Four days after the Ikea attack, protesters pelted the Arboga shelter with eggs. The next night, an anonymous tip led police to discover two bags of flammable liquid near the home in what cops called a suspected arson attempt. The same night, another shelter in southern Sweden was firebombed, although no one was hurt, according to localmedia.
When Mahari was released four days after the incident, he left jail only to find himself the subject of death threats, his lawyer told Radio Sweden. ''Considering the threats and what is being written on several websites, I think he needs protection,'' Maria Wilhelmsson said.
A worrying legacy for Sweden, and Europe
Six weeks later, the aftershocks of the Ikea attack are still lingering in Sweden and across Europe. In many ways, the case shook the Scandinavian country to its core, according to Poohl, editor-in-chief of Expo, the investigative magazine where late novelist Stieg Larsson once worked.
''You have to understand, Ikea is the symbol of Sweden. It's the company that built Sweden. You go into a Swedish home and you'll find the furniture is from Ikea,'' he told The Post. ''You go to Ikea with your family. Everybody has a relationship of what it means to go to Ikea. You can build jokes around it. It's an iconic thing. So when suddenly this really strange killing happens from nowhere it was really [disturbing].''
''This was a case that dominated the press at least for a couple of days,'' Poohl said. ''First you had this kind of spectacular killing, and then you also had a debate around how the killings were reported, which made it even bigger.''
In Sweden, mainstream media rarely report the ethnicity of suspects, Poohl said. But in this case, it seemed relevant to reveal that the suspects were asylum-seekers from Eritrea. Moreover, right-wing, nationalistic Web sites '-- considered by some in Sweden to be ''hate sites,'' Poohl pointed out '-- were piling added pressure on mainstream media by inaccurately claiming the attack was the work of Islamist terrorists.
Meanwhile, the government was giving out little information on the case.
''The media really didn't know what had happened '... so it kind of created a space for speculation,'' Poohl said. ''In the end, the media started to realize that there was one killer, not two. So you have this guy who kind of followed the killer to Ikea and suddenly saw this guy commit horrific crimes and '... his name was all over the place, described as a killer as well when he ended up being totally innocent.''
Poohl doubted that the Ikea attack had driven people to the right or into the hands of the Sweden Democrats. Instead, he thought the incident simply hardened people's preexisting views on asylum-seekers, both for and against.
But the Ikea slayings have exposed this ever-deepening polarization, not only in Sweden but also across Europe as the influx of millions of migrants strains patience and resources. Far-right political parties are resurgent across the continent, and anti-immigrant message boards are alive with accounts '-- often inaccurate or exaggerated '-- of incidents like the one in V¤ster¥s.
Eva Mor(C)n, the assistant prosecutor handling the Ikea killings, told The Post that she would have to tune out the din of the broader debate over the millions of refugees knocking on Europe's doorstep when the case goes to trial in November. First, Ukbagabir must be found mentally fit to stand trial.
''The case will be tried as a murder,'' Mor(C)n said, ''as any murder.''
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Michael E. Miller is a foreign affairs reporter for The Washington Post. He writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet him: @MikeMillerDC
The Ancient But Largely Forgotten Technique Women Can Do to Give Supergasms | Alternet
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 06:35
The practice allows women to drive the sexual experience and stations men in the passive position.
Most of us know how to have sex. There's not much to ''get,'' right? In hetero sex, penis goes in vagina, penis goes out, repeat, then (hopefully) climax. But there's a female-centered technique you've probably never heard of. Those who master it walk away armed with strong sexual skillsets, and even stronger vaginas.
The art of pompoir involves extensive training and control of the vaginal and pubococcygeus (PC) muscles. It's known as ''kabazza'' in the Arabic language, and is also referred to as the ''Singapore Kiss.'' The practice is unique in the way it allows females to drive the sexual experience and stations men in an entirely passive position.
Pompoir is best practiced with the woman on top. This allows women to straddle their partners and stimulate the penis through muscle contractions alone. No thrusting or rocking necessary.
It's said the tradition was born in India and dates back more than 3,000 years. It was widely practiced and perfected in Japan and Thailand. Those who master the technique today aren't in bad company: Hindu Devadasis, Greek courtesans and Japanese geishas were all known to have been skilled in the art of pompoir.
The site Pompoir Book claims the technique is ''The Ultimate Sexercise of All Time.'' Founder Denise Costa is a pompoir expert and instructor and author of Pompoir: The Ultimate Guide To Pelvic Fitness.
Those familiar with Kegel exercises know that flexing the vaginal muscles during sex can enhance the experience for both partners. But pompoir demands women have extensive control over these muscles to deliver more elaborate sensations during sex.
Costa told me over the phone, ''Many times when people hear about pelvic exercises, they think about Kegels, but pompoir is a bit more extensive'... By doing contractions, squeezing, pushing and pulling the ladies learn how to manipulate the pelvic muscles. That's where they can learn the sexual skills to the point where they can twist the penis just by moving their pelvic muscles. It's reported to be an amazing sensation.''
Costa walked me through the different ''abilities'' women can achieve through pompoir. The pull ability allows women to ''suck the penis'' into the vagina, the expel ability similarly allows them to push it out. Then there's the lock ability, where females clench down on the penis to hold it in place. The list goes on. There's the gripping ability, the pulse ability, the squeeze ability, the twist ability, which all more or less entail what their names suggest.
Perhaps the most intriguing is the extrude ability, which Costa likened to ''milking'' the penis. The practice may not be for everyone, but there are many out there who would find these talents appealing to possess.
And it's not just men who reap the orgasmic rewards of pompoir. The exercises can help increase the duration and pleasure of female orgasms as well, and even change the way women orgasm. Costa took me through the three different types of orgasms women experience. There's the clitoral orgasm, which is probably the least mysterious and most accessible one out there. Then there's the less common g-spot orgasm, which can be attained through vaginal stimulation (its existance is controversial). And then there's the hyper-elusive uterine orgasm, which many women have never even heard of. The uterine orgasm requires deep vaginal penetration. Pompoir will allegedly help women experience them all. Costa's site even suggests that pompoir can help women achieve the rare squirting orgasm. They just have to be willing to work for it.
Costa told me, ''Pompoir, it's exercise. For you to master, it does take time. For some people, it's very easy for them to do it. Other people take a little longer. But it shouldn't take more than five months. It's just like you're going to the gym if you want to get a fit body, you won't see results from today to tomorrow.''
She recommends women practice one hour a day.
Costa explained there are certain accessories women can use while doing their exercises. Ben wa balls, pleasure pods and vibrators can help build strength and master the skills necessary to practice pompoir. But these accessories are in no way necessary. The option of practicing with a partner is always there.
It's hard for some women to get acquainted with their bodies. And the fact that our sex organs exist on the inside of our bodies makes it even more difficult. Pair that with the historical silence surrounding female orgasms and it's no wonder some of us need a little guidance from time to time.
Costa told me, ''Unfortunately, in the history of sexual educators, the brilliant minds of Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, none of them gave any credit to what they call a woman's 'sexual response orgasm.' They say that women weren't intended to have vaginal orgasms, that the vagina was only used as a receptor for the penis, and to extend the uterus for birth."
She added, ''It's a shame that the only time that women are spoken to about pelvic exercises is when they go to the gynecologist for health problems, or when they're pregnant. Nobody wants health problems, and a lot of people choose to wait to get pregnant. So we don't hear about these things. And there is no education about it."
In a world where women don't always take charge of their sexual encounters, it's nice to know techniques like pompoir are out there. Men may have hanging genitalia, but remember, it's what's on the inside that counts.
Carrie Weisman is an AlterNet staff writer who focuses on sex, relationships and culture. Got tips, ideas or a first-person story? Email her.
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Refugees In Wales Forced To Wear Colored Wristbands
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 03:16
Asylum seekers in Cardiff are being issued with brightly coloured wristbands that they must wear at all times, in a move which echoes the ''red door'' controversy in Middlesbrough and has resulted in their harassment and abuse by members of the public.

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