Calling Trump Hitler is calling the people who vote him for him nationalists or not cease. If that is true and there are so many Nazis, it is already too late. Removing Trump will not make any difference.
Halperin on Clinton Emails: My WH and FBI Sources Say 'Something's Going to Happen' | Mediaite
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 00:53
Bloomberg Politics host Mark Halperin hinted at major developments in the Hillary Clinton email scandal on MSNBC's Morning Joe Friday, citing White House and FBI sources.
When discussing the contentious national debate about whether Clinton broke the law, host Joe Scarborough alluded to government sources telling him the FBI's Clinton email investigation was ''far more progressed'' than they are letting on.
Scarborough said that he and co-host Mika Brzezinski ''have been hearing it from the top officials in the Obama administration for actually several months now'... and [guest Nicolle Wallace] is hearing the same thing: that this investigation's far more advanced than we the public know.''
Halperin agreed, saying there was ''a lot of chatter amongst FBI agents, many of whom have never been big fans of the Clintons, but a lot of FBI agents seem to be saying something's happening here.''
''There are some people in the White House who are starting to talk about this,'' he continued. ''It's not clear to me whether they know what's happening or there's just their intuition, but the body language among some Obama administration officials is this is more serious and something's going to happen.''
''Again, the timing of it could be, if not cataclysmic, pretty bad for Secretary Clinton, especially if Bernie Sanders is still alive,'' Halperin concluded.
Watch above, via MSNBC.
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N400 (neuroscience) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 20:17
The N400 is a component of time-locked EEG signals known as event-related potentials (ERP). It is a negative-going deflection that peaks around 400 milliseconds post-stimulus onset, although it can extend from 250-500 ms, and is typically maximal over centro-parietal electrode sites. The N400 is part of the normal brain response to words and other meaningful (or potentially meaningful) stimuli, including visual and auditory words, sign language signs, pictures, faces, environmental sounds, and smells.
HistoryThe N400 was first discovered by Marta Kutas and Steven Hillyard in 1980. They conducted the first experiment looking at the response to unexpected words in read sentences, expecting to elicit a P300 component. The P300 had previously been shown to be elicited by unexpected stimuli. Kutas and Hillyard therefore used sentences with anomalous endings (i.e.I take coffee with cream and dog), expecting to see a P300 to the unexpected sentence-final words. However, instead of eliciting a large positivity, these anomalous endings elicited a large negativity, relative to the sentences with expected endings (i.e. He returned the book to the library) In the same paper, they confirmed that the negativity was not just caused by any unexpected event at the end of a sentence, since a semantically expected but physically unexpected word (i.e. She put on her high-heeled SHOES) elicited a P300 instead of negativity in the N400 window. This finding showed that the N400 is related to semantic processing, and is not just a response to unexpected words.
Component characteristicsThe N400 is characterized by a distinct pattern of electrical activity that can be observed at the scalp. As its name indicates, this waveform peaks around 400 ms post-stimulus onset, with negativity that can be observed in the time window ranging from 250-500 ms. This latency (delay between stimulus and response) is very stable across tasks'--little else besides age affects the timing of its peak. The N400 is a negative component, relative to reference electrodes placed on the mastoid processes (the bony ridge behind the ear), and relative to a 100 ms pre-stimulus baseline. Its amplitude can range from -5 to 5 microvolts. However, it is important to note that in studies using the N400 as a dependent measure, the relative amplitude of the waveform compared to another experimental condition (the "N400 effect") is more important than its absolute amplitude. The N400 itself is not always negative'--it is just a more negative-going deflection than that seen to other conditions. Its distribution is maximal over centro-parietal electrode sites, and is slightly larger over the left side of the head for visual words, although the distribution can change slightly depending on the eliciting stimulus.
Main paradigmsA typical experiment designed to study the N400 will usually involve the visual presentation of words, either in sentence or list contexts. In a typical visual N400 experiment, for example, subjects will be seated in front of a computer monitor while words are presented one-by-one at a central screen location. Stimuli must be presented centrally because eye movements will generate large amounts of electrical noise that will mask the relatively small N400 component. Subjects will often be given a behavioral task (e.g., making a word/nonword decision, answering a comprehension question, responding to a memory probe), either after each stimulus or at longer intervals, to ensure that subjects are paying attention. Note, however, that overt responses by the subject are not required to elicit the N400'--passively viewing stimuli will still evoke this response.
An example of an experimental task used to study the N400 is a priming paradigm. Subjects are shown a list of words in which a prime word is either associatively related to a target word (e.g. bee and honey), semantically related (e.g. sugar and honey) or a direct repetition (e.g. honey and honey). The N400 amplitude seen to the target word (honey) will be reduced upon repetition due to semantic priming. The amount of reduction in amplitude can be used to measure the degree of relatedness between the words.
Another widely used experimental task used to study the N400 is sentence reading. In this kind of study, sentences are presented to subjects centrally, one word at a time, until the sentence is completed. Alternatively, subjects could listen to a sentence as natural auditory speech. Again, subjects may be asked to respond to comprehension questions periodically throughout the experiment, although this is not necessary. Experimenters can choose to manipulate various linguistic characteristics of the sentences, including contextual constraint or the cloze probability of the sentence-final word (see below for a definition of cloze probability) to observe how these changes affect the waveform's amplitude.
As previously mentioned, the N400 response is seen to all meaningful, or potentially meaningful, stimuli. As such, a wide range of paradigms can be used to study it. Experiments involving the presentation of spoken words, acronyms, pictures embedded at the end of sentences, music, and videos of real-word events, have all been used to study the N400, just to name a few.
Functional sensitivityExtensive research has been carried out to better understand what kinds of experimental manipulations do and do not affect the N400. General findings are discussed below.
Factors that affect N400 amplitudeThe frequency of a word's usage is known to affect the amplitude of the N400. With all else being constant, highly frequent words elicit reduced N400s relative to infrequent words. As previously mentioned, N400 amplitude is also reduced by repetition, such that a word's second presentation exhibits a more positive response when repeated in context. These findings suggest that when a word is highly frequent or has recently appeared in context, it eases the semantic processing thought to be indexed by the N400, reducing its amplitude.
N400 amplitude is also sensitive to a word's neighborhood size, or how many other words differ from it by only one letter (e.g. boot and boat). Words with large neighborhoods (that have many other physically similar items) elicit larger N400 amplitudes than do words with small neighborhoods. This finding also holds true for pseudowords, or pronounceable letter strings that are not real words (e.g. flom), which are not themselves meaningful but look like words. This has been taken as evidence that the N400 reflects general activation in the comprehension network, such that items that look like many words (regardless of whether it itself is a word) partially activate the representations of similar-looking words, producing a more negative N400.
The N400 is sensitive to priming: in other words, its amplitude is reduced when a target word is preceded by a word that is semantically, morphologically, or orthographically related to it.
In a sentence context, an important determinant of N400 amplitude elicited by a word is its cloze probability. Cloze probability is defined as the probability of the target word completing that particular sentence frame. Kutas and Hillyard (1984) found that a word's N400 amplitude has a nearly inverse linear relationship with its cloze probability. That is, as a word becomes less expected in context, its N400 amplitude is increased relative to more expected words. Words that are incongruent with a context (and thus have a cloze probability of 0) elicit large N400 amplitudes as well (although the amplitude of the N400 for incongruent words is also modulated by the cloze probability of the congruent word that would have been expected in its place Relatedly, the N400 amplitude elicited by open-class words (i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs) is reduced for words appearing later in a sentence compared to earlier words. Taken together, these findings suggest that when the prior context builds up meaning, it makes the processing of upcoming words that fit with that context easier, reducing the N400 amplitude they elicit.
Factors that do not affect N400 amplitudeWhile the N400 is larger to unexpected items at the end of a sentence, its amplitude is generally unaffected by negation that causes the last word to be untrue and thus anomalous. For example, in the sentence A sparrow is a building, the N400 response to building is more negative than the N400 response to bird in the sentence A sparrow is a bird. In this case, building has a lower cloze probability, and so it is less expected than bird. However, if negation is added to both sentences in the form of the word not (i.e. A sparrow is not a building and A sparrow is not a bird), the N400 amplitude to building will still be more negative than that seen to bird. This suggests that the N400 responds to the relationship between words in context, but is not necessarily sensitive to the sentence's truth value. More recent research, however, has demonstrated that the N400 can sometimes be modulated by quantifiers or adjectives that serve negation-like purposes, or by pragmatically licensed negation.
Additionally, grammatical violations do not elicit a large N400 response. Rather, these types of violations show a large positivity from about 500-1000 ms after stimulus onset, known as the P600.
Factors that affect N400 latencyA striking feature of the N400 is the general invariance of its latency. Although many different experimental manipulations affect the amplitude of the N400, few factors (aging and disease states and language proficiency being rare examples) alter the timing of the N400 component.
SourcesAlthough localization of the neural generators of an ERP signal is difficult due to the spreading of current from the source to the sensors, multiple techniques can be used to provide converging evidence about possible neural sources. Using methods such as recordings directly off the surface of the brain or from electrodes implanted in the brain, evidence from brain damaged patients, and magnetoencephalographic (MEG) recordings (which measure magnetic activity at the scalp associated with the electrical signal measured by ERPs), the left temporal lobe has been highlighted as an important source for the N400, with additional contributions from the right temporal lobe. More generally, however, activity in a wide network of brain areas is elicited in the N400 time window, suggesting a highly distributed neural source (See Kutas & Federmeier, 2011, for a more complete discussion).
Theories of the N400There is still much debate as to exactly what kind of neural and comprehension processes the N400 indexes. Some researchers believe that the underlying processes reflected in the N400 occur after a stimulus has been recognized. For example, Brown and Hagoort (1993) believe that the N400 occurs late in the processing stream, and reflects the integration of a word's meaning into the preceding context (see Kutas & Federmeier, in press, for a discussion). However, this account cannot explain why items that themselves have no meaning (e.g. pseudowords) also elicit the N400. Other researchers believe that the N400 occurs much earlier, before words are recognized, and represents orthographic or phonological analysis.
More recent accounts posit that the N400 represents a broader range of processes indexing access to semantic memory. According to this account, it represents the binding of information obtained from stimulus input with representations from short- and long-term memory (such as recent context, and accessing a word's meaning in long term memory) that work together to create meaning from the information available in the current context (Federmeier & Laszlo, 2009; see Kutas & Federmeier, in press). As research in the field of electrophysiology continues to progress, these theories will likely be refined to include a complete account of just what the N400 represents.
See alsoReferences^ abcKutas, M.; Federmeier, K.D. (2000). "Electrophysiology reveals semantic memory use in language comprehension". Trends in Cognitive Science4 (12): 463''470. doi:10.1016/s1364-6613(00)01560-6. ^ abcdefgKutas, M. & Federmeier, K.D. (In press). The N400. Annual Review of Psychology, 60.^(See Kutas & Federmeier, 2009, for review)^Kutas, M.; Hillyard, S. A. (1980). "Reading senseless sentences: Brain potentials reflect semantic incongruity". Science207: 203''208. doi:10.1126/science.7350657. PMID 7350657. ^Van Petten, C.; Coulson, S.; Rubin, S.; Plante, E.; Parks, M. (1999). "Time course of word identification and semantic integration in spoken language". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition25 (2): 394''417. doi:10.1037/0278-7322.214.171.1244. ^Laszlo, S.; Federmeier, K.D. (2008). "Minding the PS, queues, and PXQs: Uniformity of semantic processing across stimulus types". Psychophysiology45: 458''466. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8986.2007.00636.x. ^Federmeier, K.D.; Kutas, M. (2001). "Meaning and modality: Influences of context, semantic memory organization, and perceptual predictability on picture processing". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition27 (1): 202''224. doi:10.1037/0278-73126.96.36.199. ^Daltrozzo, J., Sch¶n, D. (2009). Conceptual processing in music as revealed by N400 effects on words and musical targets" Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 21(10): 1882-1892.^Sitnikova, T.; Kuperberg, G.; Holcomb, P.J. (2003). "Semantic integration in videos of real0world events: an electrophysiological investigation". Psychophysiology40: 160''164. doi:10.1111/1469-8986.00016. ^ abVan Petten, C.; Kutas, M. (1990). "Interactions between sentence context and word frequency in event-related brain potentials". Memory and Cognition18 (4): 380''393. doi:10.3758/bf03197127. ^Van Petten, C.; Kutas, M.; Kluender, R.; Mitchiner, M.; McIsaac, H. (1991). "Fractionating the word repetition effect with event-related potentials". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience3 (2): 131''150. doi:10.1162/jocn.19188.8.131.52. ^Holcomb, P.J.; Grainger, J.; O'Rourke, T. (2002). "An electrophysiology study of the effects of orthographic neighborhood size on printed word perception". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience14 (6): 938''950. doi:10.1162/089892902760191153. ^Kutas, M.; Hillyard, S. A. (1984). "Brain potentials during reading reflect word expectancy and semantic association". Nature307: 161''163. doi:10.1038/307161a0. ^Borovsky, A.; Kutas, M.; Elman, J. (2011). "Learning to use words: Event related potentials index single-shot contextual word learning". Cognition116 (2): 289''296. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.05.004. PMC 2904319. PMID 20621846. ^Fischler, I.; Bloom, P.A.; Childers, D.G.; Roucos, S.E.; Perry, N.W. (1983). "Brain potentials related to stages of sentence verification". Psychophysiology20 (4): 400''410. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8986.1983.tb00920.x. ^Urbach, Thomas; Kutas, Marta (2010). "Quantifiers more or less quantify online: ERP evidence for partial incremental interpretation". Journal of Memory and Language63 (2): 158''79. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2010.03.008. PMC 2902883. PMID 20640044. ^Nieuwland, Mante; Kuperberg, Gina (2008). "When the truth is not too hard to handle: an event-related potential study on the pragmatics of negation". Psychological Science19 (12): 1213''8. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02226.x. ^Federmeier, K. D. and Laszlo, S. (2009). Time for meaning: Electrophysiology provides insights into the dynamics of representation and processing in semantic memory. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Volume 51 (pp 1-44). Burlington: Academic Press.^Haan, H., Streb, J., Bien, S., & Ro, F. (2000). Reconstructions of the Semantic N400 Effect : Using a Generalized Minimum Norm Model with Different Constraints ( L1 and L2 Norm ), 192, 178''192.^Van Petten, C.; Luka, B. (2006). "Neural localization of semantic context effects in electromagnetic and hemodynamic studies". Brain and Language97 (3): 279''293. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2005.11.003. ^Deacon, D.; Dynowska, A.; Ritter, W.; Grose-Fifer, J. (2004). "Repetition and semantic priming of nonwords: Implications for theories of N400 and word recognition". Psychophysiology41 (1): 60''74. doi:10.1111/1469-8986.00120. External links
Donald Trump's Policies Are Not Anathema to U.S. Mainstream, but an Uncomfortable Reflection of It
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 17:02
The political and media establishments in the U.S. '-- which have jointly wrought so much destruction, decay, and decadence '-- recently decided to unite against Donald Trump. Their central claim is that the real estate mogul and longtime NBC reality TV star advocates morally reprehensible positions that are far outside the bounds of decency; relatedly, they argue, he is so personally repellent that his empowerment would degrade both the country and the presidency.
In some instances, their claim is plausible: There is at least genuine embarrassment if not revulsion even among America's political class over Trump's proposed mass deportation of 11 million human beings, banning of all Muslims from entering the country, and new laws to enable him to more easily sue (and thus destroy) media outlets that ''falsely'' criticize him. And his signature personality brew of deep-seated insecurities, vindictive narcissism, channeling of the darkest impulses, and gaudy, petty boasting is indeed uniquely grotesque.
But in many cases, probably most, the flamboyant denunciations of Trump by establishment figures make no sense except as self-aggrandizing pretense, because those condemning him have long tolerated if not outright advocated very similar ideas, albeit with less rhetorical candor. Trump is self-evidently a toxic authoritarian demagogue advocating morally monstrous positions, but in most cases where elite outrage is being vented, he is merely a natural extension of the mainstream rhetorical and policy framework that has been laid, not some radical departure from it. He's their id. What establishment mavens most resent is not what Trump is, does, or says, but what he reflects: the unmistakable, undeniable signs of late-stage imperial collapse, along with the resentments and hatreds they have long deliberately and self-servingly stoked but which are now raging out of their control.
Two of the most recent, widely discussed anti-Trump outrage rituals '-- one from Wednesday and the other from last night's Fox News debate '-- demonstrate the sham at the heart of the establishment display of horror. This week, American political and media figures from across the spectrum stood and applauded a tawdry cast of neocons and other assorted warmongers who are responsible for grave war crimes, torture, kidnappings, due process-free indefinite imprisonment, and the worst political crime of this generation: the attack on and destruction of Iraq.
These five dozen or so extremists (calling themselves ''members of the Republican national security community'') were the toast of the town because they published an ''open letter'' denouncing Trump on the ground that his ''own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world.'' This was one of their examples:
His embrace of the expansive use of torture is inexcusable.
Most decent human beings, by definition, would express this sentiment without including the qualifying word ''expansive.'' Even Ronald Reagan, whom virtually all the signatories claim to idolize, advocated for and signed a treaty in 1988 that stated that ''no exceptional circumstances whatsoever '... may be invoked as a justification of torture'' and that ''each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offenses under its criminal law.'' The taboo is on ''all acts of torture,'' not its ''expansive use'' '-- whatever that means.
But the group signing this anti-Trump letter can't pretend to find an embrace of torture itself to be ''inexcusable'' because most of them implemented torture policies while in government or vocally advocated for them. So instead, they invoke the Goldilocks Theory of Torture: We believe in torture up to exactly the right point, while Trump is disgraceful because he wants to go beyond that; he believes in ''the expansive use of torture.'' The same dynamic drove yesterday's widely cheered speech by Mitt Romney, where the two-time failed GOP candidate denounced Trump for advocating torture while literally ignoring his own clear pro-torture viewpoints.
Here we see the elite class agreeing to pretend that Trump is advocating views that are inherently disqualifying when '-- thanks to those doing the denouncing '-- those views are actually quite mainstream, even popular, among both the American political class and its population. Torture was the official American policy for years. It went way beyond waterboarding. One Republican president ordered it and his Democratic successor immunized it from all forms of accountability, ensuring that not a single official would be prosecuted for authorizing even the most extreme techniques, ones that killed people '-- or even allowed to be sued by their victims.
Many of the high officials most responsible for that torture regime and who defended it '-- from Condoleezza Rice and John Brennan '-- remain not just acceptable in mainstream circles but hold high office and are virtually revered. And, just by the way, both of Trump's main rivals '-- Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz '-- refuse to rule out classic torture techniques as part of their campaign. In light of all that, who takes seriously the notion that Trump's advocacy of torture '-- including techniques beyond waterboarding '-- places him beyond the American pale? To the contrary, it places him within its establishment mainstream.
Then there's the outrage du jour from last night. A couple of weeks ago, George W. Bush's NSA and CIA chief, Gen. Michael Hayden, claimed that members of the military would never follow Trump's orders if it meant committing war crimes such as torturing detainees or killing a terrorist's family members (perish the thought). When asked about this last night, Trump insisted that the U.S. military would do so: ''They're not going to refuse. Believe me,'' he said. ''If I say do it, they're going to do it. That's what leadership is about.'' Of all the statements Trump made last night, this was the one most often cited by pundits as being the most outrageous, shocking, disgusting, etc. Even bona fide war criminals such as the Bush White House's pro-invasion and torture propagandist got in on the moral outrage act:
But is there any doubt that Trump is right about this? Throughout the 14-year war on terror, a handful of U.S. military members have bravely and nobly refused to take part in, or vocally denounced, policies that are clear war crimes. But there was no shortage of people in the military, the CIA, and working for private American contractors who dutifully carried out the most heinous abuses and war criminality. The military official in charge of investigating war on terror policies, Gen. Antonio Taguba, said this in 2008:
After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.
In 2009, Gen. Barry McCaffrey said, ''We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.'' The notion that the U.S. intelligence and military community will collectively rise up in defiance of the commander-in-chief if they are ordered to obey polices that are illegal is just laughable.
It's obviously a pleasing fiction to believe '-- it produces nice, nationalistic feelings of nobility '-- but everything in the past decades proves that Trump is right when he says, ''They're not going to refuse.'' Some likely would, but nowhere near enough to preclude the policies being carried out. In fact, the primary argument used to justify immunizing America's torturers is that they were just following orders as approved by John Yoo and company: reflecting a moral code that dictates that, even when it comes to plainly illegal policies, obedience is preferable to defiance.
Then there's the feigned horror over Trump's proposal to kill the family members of terrorists. Though they claim they don't do it deliberately, the fact is that this is something both the U.S. and Israel, among others, have routinely done for years: They repeatedly bomb people's homes or work places, killing innocent peopleincluding family members, and then justify it on the ground that a terrorist was among them. While they claim they don't target terrorists' family members, they certainly target their homes and other places family members are certain to be found.
When a U.S. drone strike in 2011 killed the U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, and then another drone strike two weeks later killed his 16-year-old American son, Abdulrahman (who nobody claimed was involved with terrorism), former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs justified it this way:
If you really think you can locate fine distinctions '-- we merely keep killing the children, spouses, and other family members over and over by accident, not by purposely targeting '-- at least don't pretend that what Trump is advocating is something our civilized minds have never previously encountered. He may be more gauche for saying it aloud and gleefully justifying it rather than feigning sorrow over it, but the substance of what he's saying '-- despicable though it is '-- is hardly categorically different from what the U.S. government and its closest allies actually do over and over. And that's to say nothing of the unpleasant fact that we're all now supposed to ignore lest we be smeared as Trump supporters: that even as he advocates clear war crimes, he also, in some important cases, is advocating policies and approaches less militaristic and warmongering than not only his GOP rivals, but the war-loving leading Democratic candidate as well.
As for his starkly disgusting personal qualities, none of these is new. Anyone who has lived in New York has known for decades that this is who and what Donald Trump is. And yet he was fully integrated within and embraced by America's circles of power and celebrity, including by those who now want to pretend to find him so hideously offensive. As the New York Timesput it in December, ''For years, President Bill Clinton was the best friend Donald J. Trump always hoped to have.''
One can argue, with some validity, that there's value in collectively denouncing the most extreme expressions of imperial violence and war criminality in the context of a national election, even if it's tinged with some inconsistency and hypocrisy. That's fine, provided doing so does not serve to consecrate feel-good fantasies about American government and society. Finding a villain we can collectively condemn by consensus is a natural tribalistic desire: Declaring someone uniquely evil and then denouncing him is an affirmation of one's own virtue. It feels good. As an excellent New York Times op-ed last week by psychology researchers at Yale explained, ''human beings have an appetite for moral outrage'' because it's often ''a result of a system that has evolved to boost our individual reputations.''
Collective moral condemnation can be genuinely valuable if it's grounded in honest moral line-drawing. But when it's driven largely by self-delusion and self-glorification '-- by the fiction that what is being condemned resides in a different moral universe rather than just a couple of degrees farther down the road '-- it can be quite destructive: ennobling that which is decisively ignoble.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a tidal wave of establishment denunciations of Donald Trump. It's now not only easy to do but virtually obligatory. But very few of those denunciations contain any real examination of what accounts for his popularity and appeal: why a message grounded in contempt for the establishment resonates so strongly, why anxiety and anger levels are so high that the ground is so fertile for the angry strongman persona he represents. That's because answering that question requires what U.S. establishment guardians most fear and hate: self-examination.
Open Letter on Trump from GOP National Security Leaders
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 17:02
We the undersigned, members of the Republican national security community, represent a broad spectrum of opinion on America's role in the world and what is necessary to keep us safe and prosperous. We have disagreed with one another on many issues, including the Iraq war and intervention in Syria. But we are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency. Recognizing as we do, the conditions in American politics that have contributed to his popularity, we nonetheless are obligated to state our core objections clearly:
His vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle. He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence.
His advocacy for aggressively waging trade wars is a recipe for economic disaster in a globally connected world.
His embrace of the expansive use of torture is inexcusable.
His hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric undercuts the seriousness of combating Islamic radicalism by alienating partners in the Islamic world making significant contributions to the effort. Furthermore, it endangers the safety and Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of American Muslims.
Controlling our border and preventing illegal immigration is a serious issue, but his insistence that Mexico will fund a wall on the southern border inflames unhelpful passions, and rests on an utter misreading of, and contempt for, our southern neighbor.
Similarly, his insistence that close allies such as Japan must pay vast sums for protection is the sentiment of a racketeer, not the leader of the alliances that have served us so well since World War II.
His admiration for foreign dictators such as Vladimir Putin is unacceptable for the leader of the world's greatest democracy.
He is fundamentally dishonest. Evidence of this includes his attempts to deny positions he has unquestionably taken in the past, including on the 2003 Iraq war and the 2011 Libyan conflict. We accept that views evolve over time, but this is simply misrepresentation.
His equation of business acumen with foreign policy experience is false. Not all lethal conflicts can be resolved as a real estate deal might, and there is no recourse to bankruptcy court in international affairs.
Mr. Trump's own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world. Furthermore, his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States. Therefore, as committed and loyal Republicans, we are unable to support a Party ticket with Mr. Trump at its head. We commit ourselves to working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office.
Ken AdelmanDavid AdesnikMichael AuslinMike BakerChristopher BartonKevin W. BillingsRobert D. BlackwillDaniel A. BlumenthalMax BootEllen BorkAnna BorshchevskayaJoseph A. BoscoMichael ChertoffPatrick ChovanecJames CladEliot A. CohenCarrie CorderoMichael CoulterChester A. CrockerPatrick M. CroninSeth CropseyTom DonnellyDaniel DreznerColin DueckEric EdelmanJoseph EspositoCharles FairbanksRichard A. FalkenrathPeter D. FeaverNiall FergusonRichard FontaineAaron FriedbergDan GabrielGreg GarciaJana Chapman GatesJeffrey GedminReuel Marc GerechtDavid GordonChristopher J. GriffinMary R. HabeckPaul HaenleMelinda HaringRobert HastingsRebeccah HeinrichsFrancis Q. HoangJeffrey W. HornungWilliam C. InbodenJamil N. JafferAsh JainMarc C. JohnsonMyriah JordanRobert G. JosephTim KaneKate KidderRobert KaganRep. Jim KolbeDavid KramerStephen KrasnerMatthew Kroenig
Frank LavinPhilip I. LevyPhilip LohausMary Beth LongPeter MansoorJohn MaurerMatthew McCabeBryan McGrathRichard MilesPaul D. MillerCharles MorrisonMichael B. MukaseyScott W. MullerLester MunsonAndrew S. NatsiosMichael NoonanJohn NoonanRoger F. NoriegaStephen E. OckendenRobert T. OsterhalerMackubin T. OwensDaniel PipesEverett PyattMartha T. RainvilleStephen RodriguezMarc A. RossNicholas RostowMichael RubinDaniel F. RundeBenjamin RunkleRichard L. RussellAndrew SagorKori SchakeRandy ScheunemannGary J. SchmittGabriel SchoenfeldRussell SeitzKalev I. SeppVance SerchukDavid R. SheddGary ShiffmanKristen SilverbergMichael SinghRay TakeyhJeremy TeigenWilliam H. TobeyFrances F. TownsendJan Van TolDaniel VajdichRuth WedgwoodAlbert WolfJulie WoodDov S. ZakheimRoger ZakheimSam ZegaPhilip ZelikowRobert B. ZoellickLaurence Zuriff
Number of Signatories: 117
The statement above was coordinated by Dr. Eliot A. Cohen, former Counselor of the Department of State (2007''8), and Bryan McGrath, Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group, a defense consultancy. They encourage other members of the Republican foreign policy and national security communities wishing to sign the declaration to contact them.
Want to get involved? Read Bryan McGrath's proposed plan for taking down Trump.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Feds Investigate Glenn Beck Over Alleged Threat to Donald Trump | News | teleSUR English
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 16:48
The Secret Service is investigating Glenn Beck despite his co-hist insisting the threat was directed jokingly at him, not Donald Trump.
Conservative U.S. radio personality Glenn Beck is facing a federal investigation after he slammed Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and the GOP debate and said ''the stabbing just wouldn't stop'' if he had a knife.
The radio host denies that the comments, made during a discussion on Thursday night's Republican debate, were directed at the GOP billionaire.
Beck's co-host Stu Burguiere insisted on social media that Beck was actually directing the stabbing threat at him as a joke.
I'm not sure exactly how this got started, but it's made for an interesting afternoon. It was reported that Glenn had threatened to stab a presidential candidate this morning - which was odd, since I was on the show with him and didn't notice anything like that. (Although, I do tune him out from time to time.)Of course, if you were listening, you know that Glenn actually threatened ME, not Donald Trump. So, I am now stuck in the odd situation of defending my boss for threatening my life. Basically, Glenn was talking about what candidates should say when asked if they would vote for Donald Trump. He said, "I dont know what I would say if I were sitting in their shoes." Obviously, he meant if "I were in their shoes" or if "I had to walk a day in their shoes" but he butchered the analogy. So, I made fun of him. As I do, every day.I asked "why would you be sitting in someones shoes?" But, we were sort of talking over each other. So, Glenn stopped his point to hear what I said, (you can see him pause and listen), and I reiterated "Do they have gigantic shoes? Why would you be sitting in them?"At that point he said TO ME, not to any of the candidates, but TO ME, "if I were close enough and had a knife, the stabbing would not stop."As he says this, you can see both Glenn and myself smiling and laughing. The video is here, watch for yourself, but a couple of points:To be fair to the media, some sites edited the transcript, so getting the wrong idea was somewhat understandable. They also didn't know by just those few seconds of audio that we were in different locations. Glenn was in DC at CPAC, I was in Dallas. That's why he said "if I were close enough." Additionally, this is how we bust on each other all the time. If you listen **at all** you know that. It's akin to the conversation:--HOLY CRAP- did you see that actor stumble on his way into the room! Why didn't they edit that out or do a retake!!!--Actually, that's Kramer. It's what he does in every episode of Seinfeld.--OK but why is Jerry so mean to that mailman!Anyway, the video speaks for itself. Thanks to The Hill, Politico, Daily Caller, Ben Shapiro, Brad Thor, Dana and many others for correcting and clarifying. Special thanks to to the fine people at Right Wing Watch who tweeted:@RightWingWatch: We're obviously not fans of Glenn Beck, but he was clearly jokingly threatening @WorldOfStu, not Trump.I will say that this is was a disturbing revelation:@iamjasond: I feel bad this went from BECK WANT TO STAB TRUMP to Never mind, he was JUST talking about his cohost #StuLivesMatterHere are a couple of the stories if you want to check them out:Mediaite: No, Glenn Beck Did Not Say He Would Have Stabbed Trump at Last Night's GOP Debatehttp://www.mediaite.com/online/beck-if-i-were-next-to-trump-at-gop-debate-with-a-knife-the-stabbing-just-wouldnt-stop/Love this headline: Glenn Beck jokes about stabbing producerhttp://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/271819-glenn-beck-suggests-he-would-stab-producerNotably as of 4:45pm, Breitbart still leads with the quote and picture of Glenn, even though the clarification from the Daily Caller is included in its story from hours and hours earlier. They just really care about my life apparently.Update: Breitbart has corrected the story. Thanks to everyone who took the time to look into this. I feel like the Internet worked today. Posted by Stu Burguiere on Friday, March 4, 2016
''Of course, if you were listening, you know that Glenn actually threatened me, not Donald Trump,'' wrote Burguiere on his Facebook. ''So I am in the odd situation of defending my boss for threatening my life.''
ANALYSIS: The Republican Establishment vs. Donald Trump?
In the segment, Beck slammed Trump and the other candidates, and mused about what he would have said had he been on stage.
''I don't know what I would have done if I were sitting in their shoes. I can't say it that way,'' Beck said, before correcting his awkward phrasing.
After his co-host poked fun at him, Beck added ''if I were close enough, and had a knife, really, I mean, the stabbing just wouldn't stop."
But according to CBS11, the Secret Service has said it is conducting an investigation to protect Trump in light of the comment despite the fact that there is likely a misunderstanding about the comments.
Beck has been openly critical of Trump's candidacy throughout the campaign.
The conservative commentator recently wrote on Twitter that he would ''worry about safety'' if he was alone with Trump, calling the candidate ''truly frightening.''
How the internet flips elections and alters our thou...
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 16:11
Over the past century, more than a few great writers have expressed concern about humanity's future. In The Iron Heel (1908), the American writer Jack London pictured a world in which a handful of wealthy corporate titans '' the 'oligarchs' '' kept the masses at bay with a brutal combination of rewards and punishments. Much of humanity lived in virtual slavery, while the fortunate ones were bought off with decent wages that allowed them to live comfortably '' but without any real control over their lives.
In We (1924), the brilliant Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin, anticipating the excesses of the emerging Soviet Union, envisioned a world in which people were kept in check through pervasive monitoring. The walls of their homes were made of clear glass, so everything they did could be observed. They were allowed to lower their shades an hour a day to have sex, but both the rendezvous time and the lover had to be registered first with the state.
In Brave New World (1932), the British author Aldous Huxley pictured a near-perfect society in which unhappiness and aggression had been engineered out of humanity through a combination of genetic engineering and psychological conditioning. And in the much darker novel 1984 (1949), Huxley's compatriot George Orwell described a society in which thought itself was controlled; in Orwell's world, children were taught to use a simplified form of English called Newspeak in order to assure that they could never express ideas that were dangerous to society.
These are all fictional tales, to be sure, and in each the leaders who held the power used conspicuous forms of control that at least a few people actively resisted and occasionally overcame. But in the non-fiction bestseller The Hidden Persuaders (1957) '' recently released in a 50th-anniversary edition '' the American journalist Vance Packard described a 'strange and rather exotic' type of influence that was rapidly emerging in the United States and that was, in a way, more threatening than the fictional types of control pictured in the novels. According to Packard, US corporate executives and politicians were beginning to use subtle and, in many cases, completely undetectable methods to change people's thinking, emotions and behaviour based on insights from psychiatry and the social sciences.
Most of us have heard of at least one of these methods: subliminal stimulation, or what Packard called 'subthreshold effects' '' the presentation of short messages that tell us what to do but that are flashed so briefly we aren't aware we have seen them. In 1958, propelled by public concern about a theatre in New Jersey that had supposedly hidden messages in a movie to increase ice cream sales, the National Association of Broadcasters '' the association that set standards for US television '' amended its code to prohibit the use of subliminal messages in broadcasting. In 1974, the Federal Communications Commission opined that the use of such messages was 'contrary to the public interest'. Legislation to prohibit subliminal messaging was also introduced in the US Congress but never enacted. Both the UK and Australia have strict laws prohibiting it.
Subliminal stimulation is probably still in wide use in the US '' it's hard to detect, after all, and no one is keeping track of it '' but it's probably not worth worrying about. Research suggests that it has only a small impact, and that it mainly influences people who are already motivated to follow its dictates; subliminal directives to drink affect people only if they're already thirsty.
Packard had uncovered a much bigger problem, however '' namely that powerful corporations were constantly looking for, and in many cases already applying, a wide variety of techniques for controlling people without their knowledge. He described a kind of cabal in which marketers worked closely with social scientists to determine, among other things, how to get people to buy things they didn't need and how to condition young children to be good consumers '' inclinations that were explicitly nurtured and trained in Huxley's Brave New World. Guided by social science, marketers were quickly learning how to play upon people's insecurities, frailties, unconscious fears, aggressive feelings and sexual desires to alter their thinking, emotions and behaviour without any awareness that they were being manipulated.
By the early 1950s, Packard said, politicians had got the message and were beginning to merchandise themselves using the same subtle forces being used to sell soap. Packard prefaced his chapter on politics with an unsettling quote from the British economist Kenneth Boulding: 'A world of unseen dictatorship is conceivable, still using the forms of democratic government.' Could this really happen, and, if so, how would it work?
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The forces that Packard described have become more pervasive over the decades. The soothing music we all hear overhead in supermarkets causes us to walk more slowly and buy more food, whether we need it or not. Most of the vacuous thoughts and intense feelings our teenagers experience from morning till night are carefully orchestrated by highly skilled marketing professionals working in our fashion and entertainment industries. Politicians work with a wide range of consultants who test every aspect of what the politicians do in order to sway voters: clothing, intonations, facial expressions, makeup, hairstyles and speeches are all optimised, just like the packaging of a breakfast cereal.
Fortunately, all of these sources of influence operate competitively. Some of the persuaders want us to buy or believe one thing, others to buy or believe something else. It is the competitive nature of our society that keeps us, on balance, relatively free.
But what would happen if new sources of control began to emerge that had little or no competition? And what if new means of control were developed that were far more powerful '' and far more invisible '' than any that have existed in the past? And what if new types of control allowed a handful of people to exert enormous influence not just over the citizens of the US but over most of the people on Earth?
It might surprise you to hear this, but these things have already happened.
Google decides which web pages to include in search results, and how to rank them.How it does so is one of the best-kept secrets in the world, like the formula for Coca-Cola
To understand how the new forms of mind control work, we need to start by looking at the search engine '' one in particular: the biggest and best of them all, namely Google. The Google search engine is so good and so popular that the company's name is now a commonly used verb in languages around the world. To 'Google' something is to look it up on the Google search engine, and that, in fact, is how most computer users worldwide get most of their information about just about everything these days. They Google it. Google has become the main gateway to virtually all knowledge, mainly because the search engine is so good at giving us exactly the information we are looking for, almost instantly and almost always in the first position of the list it shows us after we launch our search '' the list of 'search results'.
That ordered list is so good, in fact, that about 50 per cent of our clicks go to the top two items, and more than 90 per cent of our clicks go to the 10 items listed on the first page of results; few people look at other results pages, even though they often number in the thousands, which means they probably contain lots of good information. Google decides which of the billions of web pages it is going to include in our search results, and it also decides how to rank them. How it decides these things is a deep, dark secret '' one of the best-kept secrets in the world, like the formula for Coca-Cola.
Because people are far more likely to read and click on higher-ranked items, companies now spend billions of dollars every year trying to trick Google's search algorithm '' the computer program that does the selecting and ranking '' into boosting them another notch or two. Moving up a notch can mean the difference between success and failure for a business, and moving into the top slots can be the key to fat profits.
Late in 2012, I began to wonder whether highly ranked search results could be impacting more than consumer choices. Perhaps, I speculated, a top search result could have a small impact on people's opinions about things. Early in 2013, with my associate Ronald E Robertson of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in Vista, California, I put this idea to a test by conducting an experiment in which 102 people from the San Diego area were randomly assigned to one of three groups. In one group, people saw search results that favoured one political candidate '' that is, results that linked to web pages that made this candidate look better than his or her opponent. In a second group, people saw search rankings that favoured the opposing candidate, and in the third group '' the control group '' people saw a mix of rankings that favoured neither candidate. The same search results and web pages were used in each group; the only thing that differed for the three groups was the ordering of the search results.
To make our experiment realistic, we used real search results that linked to real web pages. We also used a real election '' the 2010 election for the prime minister of Australia. We used a foreign election to make sure that our participants were 'undecided'. Their lack of familiarity with the candidates assured this. Through advertisements, we also recruited an ethnically diverse group of registered voters over a wide age range in order to match key demographic characteristics of the US voting population.
All participants were first given brief descriptions of the candidates and then asked to rate them in various ways, as well as to indicate which candidate they would vote for; as you might expect, participants initially favoured neither candidate on any of the five measures we used, and the vote was evenly split in all three groups. Then the participants were given up to 15 minutes in which to conduct an online search using 'Kadoodle', our mock search engine, which gave them access to five pages of search results that linked to web pages. People could move freely between search results and web pages, just as we do when using Google. When participants completed their search, we asked them to rate the candidates again, and we also asked them again who they would vote for.
We predicted that the opinions and voting preferences of 2 or 3 per cent of the people in the two bias groups '' the groups in which people were seeing rankings favouring one candidate '' would shift toward that candidate. What we actually found was astonishing. The proportion of people favouring the search engine's top-ranked candidate increased by 48.4 per cent, and all five of our measures shifted toward that candidate. What's more, 75 per cent of the people in the bias groups seemed to have been completely unaware that they were viewing biased search rankings. In the control group, opinions did not shift significantly.
This seemed to be a major discovery. The shift we had produced, which we called the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (or SEME, pronounced 'seem'), appeared to be one of the largest behavioural effects ever discovered. We did not immediately uncork the Champagne bottle, however. For one thing, we had tested only a small number of people, and they were all from the San Diego area.
Over the next year or so, we replicated our findings three more times, and the third time was with a sample of more than 2,000 people from all 50 US states. In that experiment, the shift in voting preferences was 37.1 per cent and even higher in some demographic groups '' as high as 80 per cent, in fact.
We also learned in this series of experiments that by reducing the bias just slightly on the first page of search results '' specifically, by including one search item that favoured the other candidate in the third or fourth position of the results '' we could mask our manipulation so that few or even no people were aware that they were seeing biased rankings. We could still produce dramatic shifts in voting preferences, but we could do so invisibly.
Still no Champagne, though. Our results were strong and consistent, but our experiments all involved a foreign election '' that 2010 election in Australia. Could voting preferences be shifted with real voters in the middle of a real campaign? We were skeptical. In real elections, people are bombarded with multiple sources of information, and they also know a lot about the candidates. It seemed unlikely that a single experience on a search engine would have much impact on their voting preferences.
To find out, in early 2014, we went to India just before voting began in the largest democratic election in the world '' the Lok Sabha election for prime minister. The three main candidates were Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, and Narendra Modi. Making use of online subject pools and both online and print advertisements, we recruited 2,150 people from 27 of India's 35 states and territories to participate in our experiment. To take part, they had to be registered voters who had not yet voted and who were still undecided about how they would vote.
unlike subliminal stimuli, SEME has an enormous impact '' like Casper the ghost pushing you down a flight of stairs
Participants were randomly assigned to three search-engine groups, favouring, respectively, Gandhi, Kejriwal or Modi. As one might expect, familiarity levels with the candidates was high '' between 7.7 and 8.5 on a scale of 10. We predicted that our manipulation would produce a very small effect, if any, but that's not what we found. On average, we were able to shift the proportion of people favouring any given candidate by more than 20 per cent overall and more than 60 per cent in some demographic groups. Even more disturbing, 99.5 per cent of our participants showed no awareness that they were viewing biased search rankings '' in other words, that they were being manipulated.
SEME's near-invisibility is curious indeed. It means that when people '' including you and me '' are looking at biased search rankings, they look just fine. So if right now you Google 'US presidential candidates', the search results you see will probably look fairly random, even if they happen to favour one candidate. Even I have trouble detecting bias in search rankings that I know to be biased (because they were prepared by my staff). Yet our randomised, controlled experiments tell us over and over again that when higher-ranked items connect with web pages that favour one candidate, this has a dramatic impact on the opinions of undecided voters, in large part for the simple reason that people tend to click only on higher-ranked items. This is truly scary: like subliminal stimuli, SEME is a force you can't see; but unlike subliminal stimuli, it has an enormous impact '' like Casper the ghost pushing you down a flight of stairs.
We published a detailed report about our first five experiments on SEME in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in August 2015. We had indeed found something important, especially given Google's dominance over search. Google has a near-monopoly on internet searches in the US, with 83 per cent of Americans specifying Google as the search engine they use most often, according to the Pew Research Center. So if Google favours one candidate in an election, its impact on undecided voters could easily decide the election's outcome.
Keep in mind that we had had only one shot at our participants. What would be the impact of favouring one candidate in searches people are conducting over a period of weeks or months before an election? It would almost certainly be much larger than what we were seeing in our experiments.
Other types of influence during an election campaign are balanced by competing sources of influence '' a wide variety of newspapers, radio shows and television networks, for example '' but Google, for all intents and purposes, has no competition, and people trust its search results implicitly, assuming that the company's mysterious search algorithm is entirely objective and unbiased. This high level of trust, combined with the lack of competition, puts Google in a unique position to impact elections. Even more disturbing, the search-ranking business is entirely unregulated, so Google could favour any candidate it likes without violating any laws. Some courts have even ruled that Google's right to rank-order search results as it pleases is protected as a form of free speech.
Does the company ever favour particular candidates? In the 2012 US presidential election, Google and its top executives donated more than $800,000 to President Barack Obama and just $37,000 to his opponent, Mitt Romney. And in 2015, a team of researchers from the University of Maryland and elsewhere showed that Google's search results routinely favoured Democratic candidates. Are Google's search rankings really biased? An internal report issued by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2012 concluded that Google's search rankings routinely put Google's financial interests ahead of those of their competitors, and anti-trust actions currently under way against Google in both the European Union and India are based on similar findings.
In most countries, 90 per cent of online search is conducted on Google, which gives the company even more power to flip elections than it has in the US and, with internet penetration increasing rapidly worldwide, this power is growing. In our PNAS article, Robertson and I calculated that Google now has the power to flip upwards of 25 per cent of the national elections in the world with no one knowing this is occurring. In fact, we estimate that, with or without deliberate planning on the part of company executives, Google's search rankings have been impacting elections for years, with growing impact each year. And because search rankings are ephemeral, they leave no paper trail, which gives the company complete deniability.
Power on this scale and with this level of invisibility is unprecedented in human history. But it turns out that our discovery about SEME was just the tip of a very large iceberg.
Recent reports suggest that the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is making heavy use of social media to try to generate support '' Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Facebook, for starters. At this writing, she has 5.4 million followers on Twitter, and her staff is tweeting several times an hour during waking hours. The Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, has 5.9 million Twitter followers and is tweeting just as frequently.
Is social media as big a threat to democracy as search rankings appear to be? Not necessarily. When new technologies are used competitively, they present no threat. Even through the platforms are new, they are generally being used the same way as billboards and television commercials have been used for decades: you put a billboard on one side of the street; I put one on the other. I might have the money to erect more billboards than you, but the process is still competitive.
What happens, though, if such technologies are misused by the companies that own them? A study by Robert M Bond, now a political science professor at Ohio State University, and others published in Nature in 2012 described an ethically questionable experiment in which, on election day in 2010, Facebook sent 'go out and vote' reminders to more than 60 million of its users. The reminders caused about 340,000 people to vote who otherwise would not have. Writing in the New Republic in 2014, Jonathan Zittrain, professor of international law at Harvard University, pointed out that, given the massive amount of information it has collected about its users, Facebook could easily send such messages only to people who support one particular party or candidate, and that doing so could easily flip a close election '' with no one knowing that this has occurred. And because advertisements, like search rankings, are ephemeral, manipulating an election in this way would leave no paper trail.
Are there laws prohibiting Facebook from sending out ads selectively to certain users? Absolutely not; in fact, targeted advertising is how Facebook makes its money. Is Facebook currently manipulating elections in this way? No one knows, but in my view it would be foolish and possibly even improper for Facebook not to do so. Some candidates are better for a company than others, and Facebook's executives have a fiduciary responsibility to the company's stockholders to promote the company's interests.
The Bond study was largely ignored, but another Facebook experiment, published in 2014 in PNAS, prompted protests around the world. In this study, for a period of a week, 689,000 Facebook users were sent news feeds that contained either an excess of positive terms, an excess of negative terms, or neither. Those in the first group subsequently used slightly more positive terms in their communications, while those in the second group used slightly more negative terms in their communications. This was said to show that people's 'emotional states' could be deliberately manipulated on a massive scale by a social media company, an idea that many people found disturbing. People were also upset that a large-scale experiment on emotion had been conducted without the explicit consent of any of the participants.
Facebook's consumer profiles are undoubtedly massive, but they pale in comparison with those maintained by Google, which is collecting information about people 24/7, using more than 60 different observation platforms '' the search engine, of course, but also Google Wallet, Google Maps, Google Adwords, Google Analytics, Chrome, Google Docs, Android, YouTube, and on and on. Gmail users are generally oblivious to the fact that Google stores and analyses every email they write, even the drafts they never send '' as well as all the incoming email they receive from both Gmail and non-Gmail users.
if Google set about to fix an election, it could identify just those voters who are undecided. Then it could send customised rankings favouring one candidate tojust those people
Certainly, if Google set about to fix an election, it could first dip into its massive database of personal information to identify just those voters who are undecided. Then it could, day after day, send customised rankings favouring one candidate to just those people. One advantage of this approach is that it would make Google's manipulation extremely difficult for investigators to detect.
Extreme forms of monitoring, whether by the KGB in the Soviet Union, the Stasi in East Germany, or Big Brother in 1984, are essential elements of all tyrannies, and technology is making both monitoring and the consolidation of surveillance data easier than ever. By 2020, China will have put in place the most ambitious government monitoring system ever created '' a single database called the Social Credit System, in which multiple ratings and records for all of its 1.3 billion citizens are recorded for easy access by officials and bureaucrats. At a glance, they will know whether someone has plagiarised schoolwork, was tardy in paying bills, urinated in public, or blogged inappropriately online.
As Edward Snowden's revelations made clear, we are rapidly moving toward a world in which both governments and corporations '' sometimes working together '' are collecting massive amounts of data about every one of us every day, with few or no laws in place that restrict how those data can be used. When you combine the data collection with the desire to control or manipulate, the possibilities are endless, but perhaps the most frightening possibility is the one expressed in Boulding's assertion that an 'unseen dictatorship' was possible 'using the forms of democratic government'.
Since Robertson and I submitted our initial report on SEME to PNAS early in 2015, we have completed a sophisticated series of experiments that have greatly enhanced our understanding of this phenomenon, and other experiments will be completed in the coming months. We have a much better sense now of why SEME is so powerful and how, to some extent, it can be suppressed.
We have also learned something very disturbing '' that search engines are influencing far more than what people buy and whom they vote for. We now have evidence suggesting that on virtually all issues where people are initially undecided, search rankings are impacting almost every decision that people make. They are having an impact on the opinions, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours of internet users worldwide '' entirely without people's knowledge that this is occurring. This is happening with or without deliberate intervention by company officials; even so-called 'organic' search processes regularly generate search results that favour one point of view, and that in turn has the potential to tip the opinions of millions of people who are undecided on an issue. In one of our recent experiments, biased search results shifted people's opinions about the value of fracking by 33.9 per cent.
Perhaps even more disturbing is that the handful of people who do show awareness that they are viewing biased search rankings shift even further in the predicted direction; simply knowing that a list is biased doesn't necessarily protect you from SEME's power.
Remember what the search algorithm is doing: in response to your query, it is selecting a handful of webpages from among the billions that are available, and it is ordering those webpages using secret criteria. Seconds later, the decision you make or the opinion you form '' about the best toothpaste to use, whether fracking is safe, where you should go on your next vacation, who would make the best president, or whether global warming is real '' is determined by that short list you are shown, even though you have no idea how the list was generated.
The technology has made possible undetectable and untraceable manipulations of entire populations that are beyond the scope of existing regulations and laws
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a consolidation of search engines has been quietly taking place, so that more people are using the dominant search engine even when they think they are not. Because Google is the best search engine, and because crawling the rapidly expanding internet has become prohibitively expensive, more and more search engines are drawing their information from the leader rather than generating it themselves. The most recent deal, revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in October 2015, was between Google and Yahoo! Inc.
Looking ahead to the November 2016 US presidential election, I see clear signs that Google is backing Hillary Clinton. In April 2015, Clinton hired Stephanie Hannon away from Google to be her chief technology officer and, a few months ago, Eric Schmidt, chairman of the holding company that controls Google, set up a semi-secret company '' The Groundwork '' for the specific purpose of putting Clinton in office. The formation of The Groundwork prompted Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, to dub Google Clinton's 'secret weapon' in her quest for the US presidency.
We now estimate that Hannon's old friends have the power to drive between 2.6 and 10.4 million votes to Clinton on election day with no one knowing that this is occurring and without leaving a paper trail. They can also help her win the nomination, of course, by influencing undecided voters during the primaries. Swing voters have always been the key to winning elections, and there has never been a more powerful, efficient or inexpensive way to sway them than SEME.
We are living in a world in which a handful of high-tech companies, sometimes working hand-in-hand with governments, are not only monitoring much of our activity, but are also invisibly controlling more and more of what we think, feel, do and say. The technology that now surrounds us is not just a harmless toy; it has also made possible undetectable and untraceable manipulations of entire populations '' manipulations that have no precedent in human history and that are currently well beyond the scope of existing regulations and laws. The new hidden persuaders are bigger, bolder and badder than anything Vance Packard ever envisioned. If we choose to ignore this, we do so at our peril.
An Engineer Explains Why Trump's Wall Is So Implausible
Wed, 09 Mar 2016 13:11
There are very few occasions in American political discourse that require the input of a structural engineer, but when Donald Trump took a question from Univision's Jorge Ramos regarding his proposed United States-Mexico border wall at a press conference on August 25, I heard the clarion call:
RAMOS: How are you going to build a 1,900-mile wall?TRUMP: Very easy. I'm a builder. That's easy. I build buildings that are '-- can I tell you what's more complicated? What's more complicated is building a building that's 95 stories tall. Okay?
No. Donald Trump is not a builder. Donald Trump could not build a doghouse. Donald Trump is a developer who pays what he would call ''very, very smart people'' to build things on his behalf. His response to Ramos' question was meant both to exaggerate his understanding of construction and to downplay the challenges posed by his border wall project.
Though I would never classify the construction of a 95-story building as simple, it is a feat that has been achieved many times before. There are at least 30 buildings that have reached a height of 95 stories or more, according to the obsessively detailed database at SkyscraperPage.com, and there are even more in the design phase or under construction.
On the other hand, human beings have built a 2,000-mile-long frontier wall exactly one time. Once. And it was accomplished only through a centuries-long building campaign that necessitated the forced labor of millions of Chinese peasants.
The challenge of Trump's border wall is not technical, but logistical. The leap in complexity between ''building a wall'' and ''building a 2,000-mile-long continuous border wall in the desert'' is about equal to the gap between ''killing a guy'' and ''waging a protracted land war.'' Trump's border wall, if built as he has described it, would be one of the largest civil works projects in the history of the country and would face an array of challenges not found when constructing 95-story skyscrapers.
In order to adequately answer Mr. Ramos' question, let's first make some assumptions on the project's scope: A successful border wall must be effective, cheap, and easily maintained. It should be built from readily available materials and should take advantage of the capabilities of the existing labor force. The wall should reach about five feet underground to deter tunneling, and should terminate about 20 feet above grade to deter climbing.
Elevation view of proposed border wall. (Click to enlarge)To be classified as a ''wall'' rather than a ''fence,'' the barrier must also be a continuous, non-porous construction. This distinction might seem purely semantic, but Trump has made himself very clear on the matter, saying, ''A wall is better than fencing, and it's much more powerful. It's more secure. It's taller.'' So we'll take him at his word: He wants to build a wall.
One of the biggest choices that a builder has to make is what material to use for his or her project. For Trump's wall, I would first dismiss concrete masonry unit (commonly called cinderblock) construction because each block would have to be put in place and set in mortar by hand. The finished product would probably be acceptable, but construction would be outrageously labor intensive and therefore costly.
Next, I would dismiss steel wire mesh. While it is cheap and readily available, it can be easily penetrated by a pair of wire cutters, an angle grinder, an oxy-acetylene torch, or just a Chevy going really fast. Even though extant barrier sections along the border make use of wire mesh, the United States Border Patrol is constantly battling to repair breaches and, as stated above, this kind of barrier really falls into the category of ''fence.''
That leaves concrete. A concrete wall would meet all of the basic project requirements, and as a bonus would also embody the gray-faced antipathy of America's immigration policy. There are two major types of concrete construction:
cast-in-place, where wet, plastic concrete is brought in trucks to a job site, cast into formwork, and then cured; andpre-cast concrete, where the concrete is cast in a controlled indoor environment, cured, and then shipped to the construction site for assembly.The hot, dry climate in the border regions would complicate cast-in-place construction because high heat tends to screw up the chemical reactions that cause concrete to harden.
I drew up a quick design option for a pre-cast concrete wall, not dissimilar to many proprietary systems currently on the market. This design consists of I-shaped concrete columns spaced at 10 feet on center, with eight-inch-thick wall panels spanning in between them. In such a design, the only concrete that would need to be cast on site would be for the foundations. The columns would anchored to the foundations, and the wall panels are slipped in place from above.
Section cuts of proposed border wall. (Click to enlarge)If we assume a border wall length of 1,954 miles (there are 600 or so miles of existing border barrier, but much of this would not qualify for Trump's wall), then we can make some estimates as to the volume of concrete needed for the project:
Foundation: 6 feet deep, 18 inch radius = 42.4 cubic feetColumn: 4 square feet area by 30 feet tall = 120 cubic feetWall panels: 25 feet tall by 10 feet long by 8 inches thick = 166.7 cubic feetTotal concrete per 10-foot segment = 329.1 cubic feet1,954 miles = 10,300,00 feet = 1,030,000 segments (10-feet long each)1,030,000 segments * 329.1 cubic feet per segment = 339,000,000 cubic feet = 12,555,000 cubic yards. (The cubic yard is the standard unit of measure of concrete volume in the United States.)Twelve million, six hundred thousand cubic yards. In other words, this wall would contain over three times the amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam '-- a project that, unlike Trump's wall, has qualitative, verifiable economic benefits.
Such a wall would be greater in volume than all six pyramids of the Giza Necropolis '-- and it is unlikely that a concrete slab in the town of Dead Dog Valley, Texas would inspire the same timeless sense of wonder.
That quantity of concrete could pave a one-lane road from New York to Los Angeles, going the long way around the Earth, which would probably be just as useful.
Concrete, of course, requires reinforcing steel (or rebar). A reasonable estimate for the amount of rebar would be about 3 percent of the total wall size, resulting in a steel volume of 10,190,000 cubic feet, or about 5 billion pounds. We could melt down 4 of our Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and would probably be a few cruisers short of having enough steel.
But the challenge is far greater than simply collecting the necessary raw materials. All of these hundreds of miles of wall would need to be cast in concrete facilities, probably project-specific ones that have been custom built near the border. Then, the pre-cast wall pieces would need to be shipped by truck through the inhospitable, often roadless desert.
The men and women doing the work of actually installing the wall would have to be provided with food, water, shelter, lavatory facilities, safety equipment, transportation, and medical care, and would sometimes be miles away from a population center of any size. Sure, some people would be willing to to do the work, but at what price? Would Trump hire Mexicans?
This analysis also ignores the less sexy aspects of large-scale engineering projects: surveying, land acquisition, environmental review, geological studies, maintenance, excavating for foundations, and so on. Theoretical President Trump may be able to executive-order his way through the laser grid of lawsuits that normally impede this kind of work, but he can't ignore the physical realities of construction.
Trump's border wall is not impossible, but it would certainly be a more challenging endeavor than he would ever lead you to believe. Maybe he should stick to 95-story buildings.
Update: In the Oct. 28 debate, Trump amended his wall proposal to a mere 1,000 miles. The author responds here.
Ali F. Rhuzkan is the pen name of a professional engineer and unprofessional writer living and working in New York City. The author can be reached at email@example.com.
This post has been updated.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
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Tech C.E.O.s Held a Secret Meeting with Top Republicans to Stop Trump | Vanity Fair
Wed, 09 Mar 2016 05:50
All from Getty Images.
Billionaires, tech C.E.O.s, and G.O.P. leaders all converged to discuss the Republican front-runner.
The most powerful people in the technology sector, along with other billionaires and top Republicans, flew to a small island off the coast of Georgia last weekend to attend a secretive forum, where they discussed, among other things, how to keep current Republican front-runner Donald Trump from winning the party's presidential nomination, the Huffington Post reports.
Among the cabal of tech C.E.O.s who met at the remote Sea Island Resort for the American Enterprise Institute's annual World Forum were Apple C.E.O. Tim Cook, Tesla Motors and SpaceX C.E.O. Elon Musk, Napster C.E.O. Sean Parker, and Google co-founder Larry Page. Top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator Tom Cotton, and Karl Rove also attended the forum, as did billionaire G.O.P. donor Philip Anschutz and New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger.
Trump, the billionaire real estate developer who has won a plurality of delegates so far in the Republican presidential primary, threatening to lock up the nomination, was the main topic of conversation. ''A specter was haunting the World Forum'--the specter of Donald Trump,'' Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol wrote in an e-mailed report from the forum. The religiously off-the-record event reportedly included a presentation about Trump from Rove, who shared focus-group findings that indicated Trump's biggest weakness is that he can be erratic and that voters don't consider him to be ''presidential.'' According to the Huffington Post, there was a lot of hand-wringing in the conversations about Trump; they focused on ''how this happened, rather than how are we going to stop him,'' one source said.
Trump wasn't the only topic that had attendees squirming in their seats. Senator Cotton and Apple C.E.O. Tim Cook also had an uncomfortable debate over encryption. Apple is currently in a legal battle with the F.B.I. over an iPhone that belonged to one of the terrorists in last year's San Bernardino attacks. ''Cotton was pretty harsh on Cook,'' one source told the Huffington Post, adding ''everyone was a little uncomfortable about how hostile Cotton was.''
G.O.P. leaders and experts both at Sea Island and at a recent Republican Governors Association retreat in Park City have strategized about how to defeat Trump, either by beating him at the polls, or by denying him enough delegates to prevent a brokered convention, in which Republican delegates would be freed up to vote for another candidate. A presentation shared with The Washington Post by operatives from an anti-Trump super-PAC shows where some G.O.P. leaders see the front-runner's vulnerabilities, though others think anti-Trump efforts are futile. Trump's success hinges on one thing: a set of primaries in states including Ohio, Florida, and Illinois on March 15.
XJeff BezosIt's tough to think of anyone who had a better financial year than Jeff Bezos, until you look at his company, Amazon, whose stock soared 115 percent over the course of the year. Naturally, that translates to Bezos's own net worth, which increased 105 percent, or nearly $30 billion, making him the billionaire whose piles of money grew faster than any other billionaire in 2015. If that is not enough to cap off Bezos's year, his commercial space-flight company Blue Origin successfully launched and landed a rocket this fall, and, most important, he joined Twitter (where he subsequently threw subtle shade at fellow space pioneer Elon Musk). Here's to hopefully more social-media feuding, rocket launches, and 11-figure increases in the year ahead.Thomas PeterffyHungarian-born pioneer of computerized stock trading Thomas Peterffy had one heck of a 2015. Peterffy, the chairman of electronic broker Interactive Brokers Group, saw his fortune rise more than 38 percent, or about $5 billion. Peterffy, who listed his 80-acre Greenwich, Connecticut, estate for $65 million this summer, has Interactive Brokers' strong performance to thank for his second place ranking on this most illustrious list. The stock climbed more than 45 percent so far this year, which, if you own nearly 85 percent of the brokerage, as Peterffy does, means a nice chunk of change. Maybe this means he will add another Salvador DaliAlice in Wonderland statue to his office (he already has one on his desk, according to Bloomberg). He can certainly afford it.By Matthew Furman/Forbes Collection/Corbis Outline.Facebook FoundersAs Facebook saw its stock rise close to 35 percent in 2015, so did the fortunes of two of the social network's co-founders. Dustin Moskovitz and his former freshman year roommate at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg, got a 35 percent and 33 percent increase to their net worths this year, respectively. That's about $2.7 billion for the curly-haired Moskovitz, Facebook's biggest individual shareholder behind Zuckerberg, and $11.4 billion for Zuck himself. Though the 31-year-olds are both billionaires many times over, all money is money appreciated, especially for Moskovitz, who left Facebook to start his own company, Asana, and Zuckerberg, new millennial dad to baby girl Max. It also means more money for the duo to donate, as Moskovitz has pledged to give away the bulk of his fortune, and Zuckerberg announced he would put 99 percent-worth of his Facebook shares into a charitable L.L.C. upon the birth of Max. Oh, to be 31, a college dropout, and a Facebook co-founder.Left, by Dirk Bruniecki/Laif/Redux; Right, by Kimberly White/Getty Images.Google GuysIt's still good to be Google after all these years'--2015 was a year in which the company restructured, renamed itself Alphabet, and rebranded with a new logo. All of that change was for good in the eyes of investors, as the stock has soared 44 percent so far this year. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the company's co-founders and Alphabet's C.E.O. and president, respectively, take the fourth and fifth spots on this list, with each seeing their net worths increase by about 32 percent (around $9.8 billion for both Page and Brin). Eric Schmidt, who came to Google in 2001 and was named Alphabet's chairman this year, saw a 24.4 percent boost, or about $2 billion, placing him seventh on the list (just behind Jan Koum, below). You can Google that.
By Paul Sakuma/AP Images.Jan KoumThe 39-year-old WhatsApp co-founder and C.E.O. could be lumped in with the Facebook guys on this list, since his Facebook shares are responsible for his 26.6 percent bump this year'--tacking on about $1.8 billion to his net worth. Koum, who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $22 billion in cash and stock in 2014, has been riding the Facebook high this year. He also unloaded about $286 million worth of shares in November, after the social network's stock hit a then all-time high. The Facebook magic was enough to knock Eric Schmidt away from his fellow Googlers on the list and nudge his way into sixth place.By Robyn Twomey/Redux.Micky ArisonIf you thought no one would want to go on cruises after a series of high-profile norovirus outbreaks and ships sinking, tell that to Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Cruise Line, the world's largest cruise-line operator. The company's stock has surged nearly 20 percent so far this year, thanks to strong earnings and positive 2016 outlook. Arison, who also owns the Miami Heat, saw his fortune increase 24.4 percent increase, bringing his total close to $2 billion.By Alyson Aliano/Redux.Mark ShoenHe may not have the name recognition that some of the other billionaires on this list enjoy, but Mark Shoen and his bank account don't mind. An owner of Amerco, the company that owns U-Haul, Shoen received a delivery of an extra $1.2 billion this year'--a 24 percent increase'--as Amerco's stock skyrocketed more than 38 percent. That's a package tied up with quite a pretty little bow. (There were no photos of him on file.)
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Donald v. Adolf | The Feral Yawp
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 00:35
The only thing more ignorant than a Trump supporter who thinks that the man will single-handedly make America great again, is the Trump hater who thinks he is the new incarnation of Adolf Hitler. Hitler, he is not. Weimar Germany, America is not. And not by a long shot. Similarities certainly exist. For instance, both Hitler and Trump have two arms, two legs, a head, and hair (albeit Hitler had a better idea of how to part his locks). A cursory (not superficial) glance at history and the present highlights the simple-minded mentality that propagates such sophomoric comparisons.
There are two things that should be considered. First, a comparison of Hitler and Trump's ideas. Second, a comparison of their respective political contexts. Upon reflection, the Hitler-Trump memes are absurd. The main culprit I think is how much people have forgotten about Hitler. He has become a caricature, a trope that has been used and abused and laden with nicknacks from all the strawman hobbyhorses he has been nailed to. He is simply the monster without form or essence. The problem here is not merely an academic one. If you misdiagnose the problem, you will never get around to orchestrating a thoughtful response to the Trump phenomenon.
Hitler v. Trump: Ideology v. Id
Even if we take the most salacious rumors of Trump seriously, they are rumors. With Hitler there existed no rumors. From the start of his political career and the publication of Mein Kampf he made it known exactly what he thought and what he would do if he came to power.
Hitler's vision of the world is ruthless and chillingly simple. The Jews were perfidious creatures, not even worthy of the title ''subhuman'' (as some mistakenly believe), who invented communism, Christianity, the rule of law, to enslave humanity with a false conscience and thus secure for themselves shadowy financial and political power. As Hitler puts it in Mein Kampf, if the Jew triumphs, ''his crown of victory will be the funeral wreath of the human species.'' So what is the nature of this human species that the Jew is destroying? No different than the animals, Hitler believed that mankind's nature was to struggle, and through war and bloodshed remake the world in accordance with the principles of raw power rooted in racial hierarchy. Hitler was a Social Darwinist to the max. To this end, the elimination of the Jews would purify man of false cultural superstructures designed to neuter mankind and give Jews control; it would eliminate artificial state boundaries, and return mankind to its natural animal state based purely on racial power. The solution to setting the world right was clear: German conquest of Europe, the Final Solution, the elimination of supposedly Jewish Bolshevism in the Soviet Union, and the acquisition of Lebensraum for the Aryan race (note, Aryan, not German exclusively). With a strange blend of materialism and mysticism, Hitler proclaimed his intentions to the German people and the world. While Germans and non-German alike did not take his most extreme statements seriously, they were no secret.
Let that vision sink in for a second. Then consider Trump at his media-smeared worst, and ask yourself: is there even an ideological comparison between the man and Hitler?
The fact is that Trump does not have a grand plan and his ideas are boringly American, however bombastically he articulates them. Like politicians before him, he is playing to the American id at a time when folks are frustrated by condescending, do-nothing politicians and the media elites tut-tuting and patronizingly sweeping their concerns under the rug. The economy and security, in particular, has left Americans disgruntled and Trump has articulated for his followers the cause of their problems. First, China: mock him if you will, but with saber rattling in the South China Sea, concerns about Chinese expansion in Africa, new ship-busting missiles, and cheap labor, the Obama administration is concerned as well. Second, Mexico: mass deportations are not the answer, but America has done it before under a loved president, and a visceral response to illegals should not be cause for an indictment of American empathy (we are the most charitable in the world). Further, the idea that immigration law should be enforced and that you cannot simply take up residence in our house without our permission is not insane. Full stop. Third, and on a related note: security. With the rise of ISIS, is a little more circumspection about our immigration policies and building a wall on our southern border such a crazy proposition?
As for a national registry of Muslims, it's ridiculous, but why not compare Trump to our beloved FDR interning Japanese at a time of war? No one was screaming about FDR being a closet Hitler even if they were critical of his decision. It's a slippery slope argument that assumes that internment naturally transforms into gassing; and Trump has not even proposed internment! Further, the idea that we shouldn't admit immigrants from the Middle East is wholly in line with historical practice: when you're at war with a country, you generally don't accept mass immigration from said country. Granted, the situation in the Middle East is murky, but the nature of the foe and willingness to commit terrorism ought to give us pause especially in light of events in Paris and California. Simply put, Trump is addressing issues that matter to the American people and proposing solutions that are not wholly inconsistent with past American policy. In this way, it's not what he's saying, it's how he's saying it that is causing the ruckus.
None of this is to say that Trump is right or that he isn't a boor. But back to Hitler, lets not pretend Trump is out to exterminate Arabs or Mexicans. He's not. And arguably, in more peaceful times, I don't see any reason he would have any trouble with legal Mexican or Arab immigration. Hitler would never be so sanguine with the lesser races, so stop the comparisons.
Hitler v. Trump: Catastrophic Context and Political Organization
For the sake of argument, though, let's assume Trump has a secret room in Trump Tower packed full of Nazi memorabilia and always carries with him a copy of Mein Kampf. How dangerous could such a man really be in America? To answer this, back to the past.
Hitler's rise to power can only be understood in the context of a weak Weimar Republic. Taking advantage of the situation, Hitler used brilliant rhetoric and Party building, the use of political violence, and constitutional maneuvering to win over the people and gain total control of Germany.
After the failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, Hitler and the Nazi Party drifted into obscurity as Germany began to recover economically and politically from the defeat in the Great War. The Nazis knew that the only way they could begin their crusade to remake the world in accordance with the principle of racial superiority was if there was a catastrophe that galvanized the people to embrace their extreme ideology, however unwittingly. By itself, a ''politics of catastrophe'' is not inherently odious. All politicians use the idea of crisis to one extent or the other to advance policy. Trump is no exception. The key is that the Nazis' ends were direly sinister, articulated clearly to the world, and unfortunately the Weimar Republic was not strong enough to weather the storm. Fascist Trump innuendo does not a Nazi make.
In 1929 the American Stock Market crashed and initiated a worldwide Great Depression. This created an economic and political firestorm across the globe that led to the rise of fascism, communism, and aggressive imperialism. For starters, then, lets keep in mind the current economic-political climate in America. It isn't great, but there is no desperation akin to what we find in 1930 Germany nor America in 1930.
With the mainline socialist and conservative parties in disarray, Hitler delivered his simple but compelling message to the German people: he would overthrow the Treaty of Versailles, regain lands lost, degrade the powers of the scheming Jews who had brought on the Great Depression, combat the sinister spread of communism (synonymous with Jewry in Hitler's mind), and solve the economic crisis. In short, he would make Germany great again. Unlike Trump, though, Hitler created an extensive political organization to advance his message. The Nazi Party already had operative and leaders in all the major German cities ready to spread propaganda and enforce party discipline. Key to discipline was the creation of an extensive paramilitary force (the SA) to intimidate political opponents (hundreds of street battles happened in June 1932 alone leading to scores of deaths), organize rallies (Nazi rallies were nothing short of stupendous and theatrical), and keep members in line and the message on point (the Night of Long Knives in 1934 is a dramatic example of Hitler murdering dissidents within the Party). Hitler also organized an extensive network of children's clubs akin to the American Boy Scouts called the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth). Discipline, sports, camaraderie, camping, and fervent nationalism drew in the children and their parents who increasingly saw the Nazi Party as a solution to the Great Depression and German weakness. A loyal, organized base coupled with political violence revolving around the charisma of The Leader proved decisive in Hitler acquiring power, holding it, and then building a fervent army ready for conquest.
Once again, step back and think about this for a second. Sure, Trump and Hitler both embraced the cult of personality, but Trump is only personality. There is no militant Party cracking skulls in the street or troops of children singing praises of The Leader.
Hitler v. Trump: Constitutional and Cultural Differences
Constitutions limit what a government can do and how they can do it. There is no need to go into a detailed comparison of Weimar Germany and America's constitutions. In their original form, both had a bicameral legislature, a president, and a court system; however, whereas the American Constitution jealously protected the rights of the States and feared the domination of any one branch of the Federal Government, the Weimar Constitution could be construed autocratically. Granted, the the people chose their representatives in the Reichstag and even directly elected the president, but the state governments had few powers. The President was given wide-ranging authority and in times of national emergency he could suspend civil liberties and rule by fiat. Perhaps of greater import, though, was the fact that despite having a democratic government, the German people had little experience with democracy or constitutional governance. This led at least one scholar to conclude, ''[I]t was doubtful whether such a democratic constitution could work in the hands of a people that was neither psychologically nor historically prepared for self-government.'' (Klaus Fischer, Nazi Germany: A New History, 59). Indeed, in the early 1930s German political parties, in particular the Nazis and the communists, organized paramilitary forces and killed each other in the streets. Both proclaimed themselves for the people but also that democracy was a chaotic cancer that had led to gridlock in the Reichstag and legislative impotence. Civil War was a real possibility. The only options in 1932 seemed authoritarian.
Long story short, Hitler finally won the chancellorship and his Nazi Party dominated the legislature. After a fire at the Reichstag, the Nazis had the the pretext and hysteria necessary to abolish by legislation civil liberties and later under the Enabling Act give Hitler and his cabinet the power to enact laws without the consent of the Reichstag. Most Germans were relieved. The political chaos was over. The threat of communism squashed. And as it turns out, Hitler's policies pulled the nation out of the Great Depression faster than any of the other industrialized powers. If there was some political brutality, at least there was peace and prosperity.
That's the thumbnail sketch.
Now compare Germany's reaction to the Great Depression to America's. Paramilitary forces did not engage in street battles. No party advocated the end of democracy or the suspension of the Constitution. No party scapegoated a minority. Granted, FDR took constitutional liberties, but even then, he faced staunch opposition from the Supreme Court, and when he tried to pack the court received a drubbing from Congress, which was dominated by his own Party (see this chart). Not only that, but FDR faced opposition from state government fiercely guarding their legislative prerogatives. Whatever might be said about FDR (or Obama for that matter), America's constitution has proven to be resilient, long-lasting, and while certain erosions have occurred, the idea that a Trump presidency would result in a Hitleresque security state is madness. There are too many interests and political powers that would put up a violent fight to defend their prerogatives. Even now, with the rise of the Leviathan security state and massive bureaucracy, there exists staunch opposition to government overstepping its bounds. Hitler, if anything, should make us appreciate how different we (and thus Trump) are from Germany in the 1930s.
Hope and Change
As the historian A. N. Wilson puts it, ''Hitler offered the most tempting of Class A narcotics, that is, Hope'' (Wilson, Hitler, 36). Right wing crazies would anachronistically smear Obama with this quote, but the point remains: beware superficial comparisons. All politicians seek to identify angst and propose a solution. This is the nature of politics, and Trump, like all other politicians, is playing the same game. America sucks, he will make it great. America is plagued by division, Hope and Change will unify us. Germany is weak and pathetic, the Nazis will restore German pride. The glaring differences in Hitler and Trump's ideas and their respective contexts should not be washed away by a few sophomoric comparisons.
I am sure the media will continue to propagate the fascist cliche as seen in this rather hilarious Vice article (Correspondent: But, really, he's a fascist, right? Historian: Yeah, not really.) But the analysis is poor, and if you don't diagnosis a problem properly, you can never hope to solve it. And as long as that doesn't happen, as long as analysts keeping wasting time arguing that Trump is the new Hitler, Trump is left free to propagate his analysis and solutions while both left and right run around with their hair on fire accomplishing nothing. Then again, perhaps we should be thankful for Trump's eccentricity. If a great artist is one who makes us see the truths about ourselves, he is certainly pulling it off.
P.S. For additional thoughts on what Trump is up to, check out this other feralyawp piece: Donald J Trump: The Artist is Present.
Timothy Snyder is the current academic rock star on the subject of Hitler. Check out this, and this, and this.
See also William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; A. N. Wilson, Hitler; Klaus P. Fischer, Nazi Germany: A New History.
The 'Trump Effect' is contaminating our kids '-- and could resonate for years - The Washington Post
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 04:58
Think we're in for a disastrous four years if Donald Trump is elected president?
You're being optimistic. Given what some of our children are learning from him, it may take an entire generation to recover from the hateful rhetoric he has aimed at immigrants, Muslims and Blacks Lives Matter protesters.
Petula is a columnist for The Washington Post's local team who writes about homeless shelters, gun control, high heels, high school choirs, the politics of parenting, jails, abortion clinics, mayors, modern families, strip clubs and gas prices, among other things. View ArchiveTrump's vitriol is making it off the campaign trail and into the lingua franca of children at an alarming rate. Just watch coverage from Trump rallies to hear the next phrases kids will be slinging at school.
''Build the wall!'' That was the chant at a high school basketball game in Indiana last week, directed by kids from a majority-white school who held up Trump signs and yelled at the opposing players and fans, who were from a predominantly Latino school.
[Donald Trump used by another high school to taunt minority opponents]
Protesters continue to be thrown out of rallies for Donald Trump, with the Republican presidential hopeful interrupted almost a half dozen times as he shouted "get out of here," at a campaign rally in Concord, N.C. (Reuters)
''Get 'em out!'' is what Trump screams at rallies when he sees Black Lives Matter and other protesters, even silent ones. This is not far off from what some third-graders allegedly said to two brown-skinned classmates in their Northern Virginia classroom. The mother of one of the children, Evelyn Momplaisir, posted an account on Facebook:
''I just got a call from my son's teacher giving me a heads up that two of his classmates decided to point out the 'immigrants' in the class who would be sent 'home' when Trump becomes president. They singled him out and were pointing and laughing at him as one who would have to leave because of the color of his skin. In third grade .'.'. in Fairfax County .'.'. in 2016!''
Fairfax County school officials confirmed the account. ''The teacher has spoken with the students, and communicated with parents of the class, regarding appropriate classroom decorum,'' said John Torre, a spokesman for the school system. ''FCPS works to create an environment that is conducive to learning and where everyone is treated with respect.''
The hashtag #EvelynMomplaisir was all over social media, even though she removed the post from her Facebook page. I couldn't reach her to talk about the incident, but she described it on Facebook as the ''Trump Effect.''
Others have echoed her fears.
''We'll be banned,'' predicted Daisy Scouts when they talked to me before the Virginia primary about their futures. Not ''I want to be a rocket scientist'' or ''I want to be a doctor'' or ''I want to be a teacher.'' They are afraid they will all be rounded up and deported. They are all Muslim.
The televised Trump rallies are becoming like ''Lord of the Flies'' set pieces. Nightly, televised ''Hunger Games.'' With each new video, we have a new group of angry white people pointing, yelling and chanting at brown-skinned people being escorted out of a crowd, with the booming Trump refrain of ''Get 'em out.''
It's like all of those horrible school-integration photos of screaming crowds surrounding black students in the 1960s are being reenacted.
We see decorated war veterans shoving and screaming at young, black college students. We see peaceful protesters being pushed and pinballed through the yelling masses.
[Donald Trump on protester: 'I'd like to punch him in the face']
You think kids aren't going to play this out in the schoolyard?
Even if they're not taking their phrases directly from Trump's playbook, his orchestrated free-for-all has unleashed a growing atmosphere of hate.
I don't know whether Trump was the inspiration for the kids on an all-white Annapolis-area hockey team who singled out the black players on my son's team, calling them the N-word and harassing them throughout the game. But they heard those words somewhere. They learned that cruelty somewhere. And I don't think it's a stretch to blame their behavior on the nation's growing tolerance of open displays of bigotry.
(Our kids beat them, by the way. And the player who said the worst things and the coach who did nothing about it were disciplined by the hockey association.)
And I don't know that the kids at the University of Southern California who threw eggs and hurled racial epithets at a student from Hong Kong over the weekend were acting directly on Trump's orders. But there's an anything-goes recklessness in the air that is certainly emboldening them.
After all, coded racism has now been rebranded as ''telling it like it is,'' thanks to Trump and the people who think he will be the strong, decisive character they have watched on reality TV if they elect him.
[Donald Trump's supporters swear their allegiance in Orlando]
He won't renounce white supremacists who support him, he won't acknowledge that the Ku Klux Klan is a hate group and, in an eerie display of flashback scenes, he recently asked his followers at a rally to raise their right hands, Nuremberg-style, and pledge their loyalty and votes to him.
In New Orleans last week, Trump was frustrated that guards didn't remove the black protesters who were peacefully standing among the crowd at his rally quickly enough.
''It's taking a long time, I can't believe it,'' he said. ''See, in the old days, it wouldn't take so long. We're living in a different world.''
We were living in a different world.
We were in a world where it was moral, not political, to be inclusive.
We were in a world where genitalia were not discussed during presidential debates.
We were in a world where children could look up to their leaders and emulate them, and it would make others proud.
We were in a world where everyone agreed to ''never forget.''
And somehow, we forgot. And this new world we're in seems frighteningly and dangerously like the old one we were finally making progress leaving behind.
Donald Trump Bristles At The Idea He's Inspired Kids To Act Racist
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 04:58
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump refused to take any blame for the behavior of children across the country who are using his anti-immigrant platform to taunt other kids.
Journalist Cokie Roberts raised the issue during an interview with Trump on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday, questioning him about incidents in which children reportedly told their classmates they'd be deported if the business mogul wins the presidency, and about white high school students who reportedly chanted "Build a wall!" to a rival, largely Latino high school.
"Are you proud of that?" she asked.
Trump rebuked Roberts for her question. "I think your question is a very nasty question, and I'm not proud of it because I didn't even hear of it, okay? And I certainly do not like it at all when I hear about it," he replied.
He immediately pivoted to his campaign motto, reminding the audience that his aim is to "make American great again" by revitalizing the U.S. job market.
at his rallies, sometimes beating them to the ground or spitting on them for chanting "Black Lives Matter."
Roberts pushed Trump to stay on topic. "When you talk about deporting people and you talk about building a wall and you talk about banning Muslims, doesn't that have an effect on children?"
Yet he continued to talk over her, specifying that it's "illegal immigrants" he wishes to deport. The border wall he's promised to build, Trump said, will have a "big, beautiful door, because we want people to come into our country."
"But what about the children, Mr. Trump?" Roberts pressed.
The business mogul didn't answer. He continued to highlight his campaign message before describing America as "troubled" because "we can't beat ISIS."
Trump has a history of shrugging off racist incidents. He missed several opportunities, for instance, to reject former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's support for his candidacy. He has also told protesters, many of whom are minorities, to "get the hell out" of his rallies.
Editor's note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.
Nuremberg Rally - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 06:25
The Nuremberg Rally (officially Reichsparteitag (help·info), meaning National Party Convention) was the annual rally of the Nazi Party in Germany, held from 1923 to 1938. They were large Nazi propaganda events, especially after Hitler's rise to power in 1933. These events were held at the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg from 1933 to 1938 and are usually referred to in English as the "Nuremberg Rallies". Many films were made to commemorate them, the most famous of which is Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will.
History and purposeThe first Nazi Party rallies took place in 1923 in Munich and in 1926 in Weimar. From 1927 on, they took place exclusively in Nuremberg. The Party selected Nuremberg for pragmatic reasons: it was in the center of the German Reich and the local Luitpoldhain was well suited as a venue. In addition, the Nazis could rely on the well-organized local branch of the party in Franconia, then led by GauleiterJulius Streicher. The Nuremberg police were sympathetic to the event.
Later, the location was justified by the Nazi Party by putting it into the tradition of the Imperial Diet (German Reichstag) of the Holy Roman Empire, considered as the First Reich. After 1933, the rallies took place near the time of the Autumn equinox, under the title of "The German people's National Party days" (Reichsparteitage des deutschen Volkes), which was intended to symbolize the solidarity between the German people and the Nazi Party. This point was further emphasized by the yearly growing number of participants, which finally reached over half a million from all sections of the party, the army and the state.
The Nuremberg RalliesEach rally was given a programmatic title, which related to recent national events:
1923 '' The First Party Congress took place in Munich on January 27, 1923.1923 '' The "German day rally" was held in Nuremberg on September 1, 1923.1926 '' The 2nd Party Congress ("Refounding Congress") was held in Weimar on July 4, 1926.1927 '' The 3rd Party Congress ("Day of Awakening") was held on August 20, 1927. The propaganda film Eine Symphonie des Kampfwillens was made at this rally.1929 '' The 4th Party Congress, known as the "Day of Composure", was held on August 2, 1929. The propaganda film Der N¼rnberger Parteitag der NSDAP was made at this rally.1933 '' The 5th Party Congress was held in Nuremberg, August 30 '' September 3, 1933. It was called the "Rally of Victory" (Reichsparteitag des Sieges). The term "victory" relates to the Nazi seizure of power and the victory over the Weimar Republic. The Leni Riefenstahl film Der Sieg des Glaubens was made at this rally. Hitler announced that from now on all Rallies would take place in Nuremberg.1934 '' The 6th Party Congress was held in Nuremberg, September 5''10, 1934, which was attended by about 700,000 Nazi Party supporters. Initially it did not have a theme. Later it was labeled the "Rally of Unity and Strength" (Reichsparteitag der Einheit und St¤rke), "Rally of Power" (Reichsparteitag der Macht), or "Rally of Will" (Reichsparteitag des Willens). The Leni Riefenstahl film Triumph des Willens was made at this rally. This rally was particularly notable due to Albert Speer's Cathedral of light: 152 searchlights that cast vertical beams into the sky around the Zeppelin Field to symbolise the walls of a building1935 '' The 7th Party Congress was held in Nuremberg, September 10''16, 1935. It was called the "Rally of Freedom" (Reichsparteitag der Freiheit). "Freedom" referred to the reintroduction of compulsory military service and thus the German "liberation" from the Treaty of Versailles. Leni Riefenstahl made the film Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht at this rally, and the Nazis introduced the Nuremberg Laws.1936 '' The 8th Party Congress was known as the "Rally of Honour" (Reichsparteitag der Ehre, September 8''14). The remilitarization of the demilitarized Rhineland in March 1936 constituted the restoration of German honour in the eyes of many Germans. The film Festliches N¼rnberg incorporated footage shot at this rally, as well as the rally of 1937.1937 '' The 9th Party Congress was called the "Rally of Labour" (Reichsparteitag der Arbeit, September 6''13). It celebrated the reduction of unemployment in Germany since the Nazi rise to power.1938 '' The 10th Party Congress was named the "Rally of Greater Germany" (Reichsparteitag Grodeutschland, September 5''12). This was due to the annexation of Austria to Germany that had taken place earlier in the year.1939 '' The 11th Party Congress was given the name "Rally of Peace" (Reichsparteitag des Friedens). It was meant to reiterate the German desire for peace, both to the German population and to other countries. It was cancelled at short notice, as one day before the planned date, on September 1, Germany began its offensive against Poland (which along with the Soviet Union's invasion of Poland ignited World War II).Propaganda filmsOfficial films for the rallies began in 1927, with the establishment of the NSDAP (Nazi Party) film office. The most famous films were made by Leni Riefenstahl for the rallies between 1933 and 1935. Relating to the theme of the rally, she called her first movie Victory of Faith (Der Sieg des Glaubens). This movie was taken out of circulation after the Night of the Long Knives, although a copy survived in Britain and has recently been made available on the Internet Archive for public viewing. The rally of 1934 became the setting for the award-winning Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens). Several generals in the Wehrmacht protested over the minimal army presence in the film: Hitler apparently proposed modifying the film to placate the generals, but Riefenstahl refused his suggestion. She did agree to return to the 1935 rally and make a film exclusively about the Wehrmacht, which became Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht.
The rallies for 1936 and 1937 were covered in Festliches N¼rnberg, which was shorter than the others, only 21 minutes.
There were two sets of official or semi-official books covering the rallies. The "red books" were officially published by the NSDAP and contained the proceedings of the "congress" as well as full texts of every speech given in chronological order.
The "blue books" were published initially by Julius Streicher, the Gauleiter of Nuremberg, later by Hanns Kerrl, not by the party press. These were larger scale books that included the text of speeches and proceedings, as well as larger photographs.
In addition to these, collections of Heinrich Hoffman's photographs were published to commemorate each Party congress, as well as pamphlets of Hitler's speeches. Both series of books are much sought after collectors items.
Shut Up Slave!
FBI Orders Teachers To Report Students Who Question Government - Counter Current News
Wed, 09 Mar 2016 15:08
New federal guidelines have just been introduced across the country, and what they mandate is quite disturbing to civil libertarians. The FBI has now instructed high schools across the nation to report students who in any way criticize government policies and what the report phrases as ''western corruption.''
The FBI is interested in determining '' as part of some warped ''pre-crime'' program '' who might become potential future terrorists.
The FBI warns in the report that that ''anarchist extremists'' are no different that ISIS terrorists.
They further caution teachers against young people who are poor, as well as immigrants and others who travel to ''suspicious'' countries. These, they explain, are teens who are more likely to commit terrorism.
Sarah Lazare, writing for AlterNet, notes that ''based on the widely unpopular British 'anti-terror' mass surveillance program, the FBI's 'Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools' guidelines, released in January, are almost certainly designed to single out and target Muslim-American communities.''
Lazare notes that the FBI cautions teachers to ''avoid the appearance of discrimination,'' in carrying out the order to spy on students and report them to the Bureau.
''The agency identifies risk factors that are so broad and vague that virtually any young person could be deemed dangerous and worthy of surveillance, especially if she is socio-economically marginalized or politically outspoken,'' she notes.
This overwhelming threat is then used to justify a massive surveillance apparatus, wherein educators and pupils function as extensions of the FBI by watching and informing on each other.
The FBI's justification for such surveillance is based on McCarthy-era theories of radicalization, in which authorities monitor thoughts and behaviors that they claim to lead to acts of violent subversion, even if those people being watched have not committed any wrongdoing. This model has been widely discredited as a violence prevention method, including by the US government, but it is now being imported to schools nationwide as official federal policy.
The new guidelines suggest that ''high school students are ideal targets for recruitment by violent extremists seeking support for their radical ideologies, foreign fighter networks, or conducting acts of violence within our borders.''
The paranoid of the document warns that the youth ''possess inherent risk factors'' that predispose them to being terrorists.
The FBI suggests that all teachers ''incorporate a two-hour block of violent extremism awareness training'' into their core curriculum for all high school students in the United States.
According to the FBI's educational materials for teenagers, circulated as a visual aide to their new guidelines, the following offenses constitute signs that ''could mean that someone plans to commit violence'' and therefore should be reported: ''Talking about traveling to places that sound suspicious''; ''Using code words or unusual language''; ''Using several different cell phones and private messaging apps''; and ''Studying or taking pictures of potential targets (like a government building).''
Under the category of domestic terrorists, the educational materials warn of the threat posed by ''anarchist extremists.'' The FBI states, ''Anarchist extremists believe that society should have no government, laws, or police, and they are loosely organized, with no central leadership'... Violent anarchist extremists usually target symbols of capitalism they believe to be the cause of all problems in society '' such as large corporations, government organizations, and police agencies.''
But the FBI didn't stop at the ISIS boogymanning. They warn teachers of ''Animal Rights Extremists and Environmental Extremists'' who are '' to the FBI '' no different than ''white supremacy extremists,'' ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists.
All of these are ''out to recruit high school students,'' in the FBI's mind, according to Lazare.
The materials also instruct students to watch out for extremist propaganda messages that communicate criticisms of ''corrupt western nations'' and express ''government mistrust.''
If you ''see suspicious behavior that might lead to violent extremism,'' the resource states, consider reporting it to ''someone you trust,'' including local law enforcement officials like police officers and FBI agents.
Lazare posits that ''young Muslims are the real targets'' of the FBI's high school spy program.
At the surface level, the FBI's new guidelines do not appear to single out Muslim students. The document and supplementary educational materials warn of a broad array of threats, including anti-abortion and white supremacist extremists. The Jewish Defense League is listed alongside Hizbollah and Al Qaeda as an imminent danger to young people in the United States.
But a closer read reveals that the FBI consistently invokes an Islamic threat without naming it. Cultural and religious differences, as well as criticisms of western imperialism, are repeatedly mentioned as risk factors for future extremism. ''Some immigrant families may not be sufficiently present in a youth's life due to work constraints to foster critical thinking,'' the guidelines state.
''The document aims to encourage schools to monitor their students more carefully for signs of radicalization but its definition of radicalization is vague,'' Arun Kundnani, the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, extremism, and the domestic War on Terror notes. ''Drawing on the junk science of radicalization models, the document dangerously blurs the distinction between legitimate ideological expression and violent criminal actions.''
''In practice, schools seeking to implement this document will end up monitoring Muslim students disproportionately,'' Kundnani said. ''Muslims who access religious or political material will be seen as suspicious, even though there is no reason to think such material indicates a likelihood of terrorism.''
Oddly, however, the FBI's new guidelines say that they do ''not advocate the application of any psychological or demographic 'profiles' or check lists of indicators to identify students on a pathway to radicalization.''
As Hugh Handeyside, staff attorney for the ACLU's national security project, said that ''broadening the definition of violent extremism to include a range of belief-driven violence underscores that the FBI is diving head-first into community spying. Framing this conduct as 'concerning behavior' doesn't conceal the fact that the FBI is policing students' thoughts and trying to predict the future based on those thoughts.''
Are you concerned about the FBI's new ''pre-crime'' high school spying program?
(Article by M. David)
Facebook launches controversial censorship campaign aimed at silencing racism and extremism - Mirror Online
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 15:08
Facebook has launched a controversial censorship campaign designed to silence hate speech, extremism and "racism" in Europe.
It unveiled its brand new Online Civil Courage Initiative yesterday following months of discussion with the German government.
Although Facebook insists its strategy is about combating extremism, it does not make it clear whether this means Islamic terrorism, right wing racism or both.
Some critics of the scheme fear Facebook is under government pressure to censor discussion of the migrant crisis currently gripping Europe and Germany.
Shiny happy people call for bans: Sheryl Sandberg and her allies
Announcing the launch of the initiative, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said: "The best cure for bad ideas is good ideas.
"The best remedy for hate is tolerance.
"Hate speech has no place in our society - not even on the Internet.
"Facebook is not a place for the dissemination of hate speech or incitement to violence."
Sheryl Sandberg and her late husband David Goldberg in July 2014The initiative was launched following long discussions with groups opposed to racism and extremism, as well as the German Federal Ministry for Justice.
Anetta Kahane of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, an anti-racist group, said: "Right-wing extremism, racism and antisemitism are present in all walks of life in Germany.
"The digital civil society now faces the huge challenge of countering the hate in the network."
Free speech has become a hot button topic across Europe and particularly in Germany, where police and media were accused of trying to cover up the sickening Cologne sex attacks.
Outcry: A card placed in Cologne which reads "One doesn't beat women - not even with flowers"Germany has a long history of criminalising certain topics, particularly those relating to its Nazi past.
''After the Second World War, it was clear that anything that could re-create National Socialist or racist thinking had to be stopped,'' Volker Beck of the country's Green Party told the Washington Post.
''I'm a civil rights defender, but there has to be a red line.''
Read more : Has Mark Zuckerberg accidentally revealed secret Facebook plans to censor negative refugee crisis posts?
On Facebook, commentators claimed the measures were an assault on freedom of speech.
"Sad day for Germany," one man wrote.
"When a government censors speech, it has lost the moral high ground."
Another person raged: "How typically 'progressive' to name something with the word 'courage' when its whole point is that your feelings are hurt and you can't hear any words you don't like."
Read more : Facebook offices attacked: Are government plans to censor anti-migrant social media 'racism' to blame?
"This is all well and good, but are you also removing objectionable posts from Islamic extremists, who regularly use Facebook to recruit young people to join Jihad against the West?" one commenter asked.
Others hailed the initiative and called for the "trolls" who opposed it to be silenced.
Testing for Joy and Grit? Schools Nationwide Push to Measure Students' Emotional Skills - The New York Times
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 19:35
PhotoJade Cooney with her fifth-grade class at Visitacion Valley Elementary School in San Francisco. She leads ''good-behavior games'' as part of an effort to develop students' social-emotional skills.Credit Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York TimesSAN FRANCISCO '-- The fifth graders in Jade Cooney's classroom compete against a kitchen timer during lessons to see how long they can sustain good behavior '-- raising hands, disagreeing respectfully and looking one another in the eye '-- without losing time to insults or side conversations.
As reward for minutes without misconduct, they win prizes like 20 seconds to kick their feet up on their desks or to play rock-paper-scissors. And starting this year, their school and schools in eight other California districts will test students on how well they have learned the kind of skills like self-control and conscientiousness that the games aim to cultivate '-- ones that might be described as everything you should have learned in kindergarten but are still reading self-help books to master in middle age.
A recent update to federal education law requires states to include at least one nonacademic measure in judging school performance. So other states are watching these districts as a potential model. But the race to test for so-called social-emotional skills has raised alarms even among the biggest proponents of teaching them, who warn that the definitions are unclear and the tests faulty.
Continue reading the main storyInteractive FeatureHere's a sample of the Grit Scale, developed to identify traits that might predict success.
''I do not think we should be doing this; it is a bad idea,'' said Angela Duckworth, the MacArthur fellow who has done more than anyone to popularize social-emotional learning, making ''grit'' '-- the title of her book to be released in May '-- a buzzword in schools.
She resigned from the board of the group overseeing the California project, saying she could not support using the tests to evaluate school performance. Last spring, after attending a White House meeting on measuring social-emotional skills, she and a colleague wrote a paper warning that there were no reliable ways to do so. ''Our working title was all measures suck, and they all suck in their own way,'' she said.
And there is little agreement on what skills matter: Self-control? Empathy? Perseverance? Joy?
''There are so many ways to do this wrong,'' said Camille A. Farrington, a researcher at the University of Chicago who is working with a network of schools across the country to measure the development of social-emotional skills. ''In education, we have a great track record of finding the wrong way to do stuff.''
Schools began emphasizing social-emotional learning around 2011, after an analysis of 213 school-based programs teaching such skills found that they improved academic achievement by 11 percentile points. A book extolling efforts to teach social-emotional skills in schools such as the KIPP charter network and Riverdale Country School in New York, ''How Children Succeed'' by Paul Tough, appeared the next year.
Argument still rages about whether schools can or should emphasize these skills. Critics say the approach risks blaming the victim '-- if only students had more resilience, they could rise above generational poverty and neglected schools '-- and excuses uninspired teaching by telling students it is on them to develop ''zest,'' or enthusiasm. Groups that spent decades urging the country toward higher academic standards worry about returning to empty talk of self-esteem, accepting low achievement as long as students feel good.
But teaching social-emotional skills is often seen as a way to move away from a narrow focus on test scores, and to consider instead the whole child. It may seem contradictory, then, to test for those skills. In education, however, the adage is ''what's measured gets treasured''; states give schools money to teach the subjects on which they will be judged.
Next year, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test of students in grades four, eight and 12 that is often referred to as the nation's report card, will include questions about students' social-emotional skills. A well-known international test, PISA, is moving toward the same.
The biggest concern about testing for social-emotional skills is that it typically relies on surveys asking students to evaluate recent behaviors or mind-sets, like how many days they remembered their homework, or if they consider themselves hard workers. This makes the testing highly susceptible to fakery and subjectivity. In their paper published in May, Dr. Duckworth and David Yeager argued that even if students do not fake their answers, the tests provide incentive for ''superficial parroting'' rather than real changes in mind-set.
''You think test scores are easy to game?'' said Martin West, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who is working with the districts in California. ''They're relatively hard to game when you compare them to a self-report survey.''
Students might be tested on performance, as in the ''marshmallow test,'' in which children were told they could have a sweeter reward if they waited. Those who waited scored higher in self-control. But those tests are too time-consuming to use on a large group of students.
Other researchers have proposed calling or texting students at regular intervals to check their behavior and frame of mind, or monitoring Facebook or Twitter to observe patterns of behavior. But privacy concerns would almost certainly disqualify those.
Transforming Education, a Boston-based group that is among the biggest proponents of teaching social-emotional skills, argues that they are so important that schools have to begin testing for them, even if perfect measures do not exist.
The group worked with the school districts here '-- which count one million students, or 20 percent of the state total, in cities including Los Angeles and Oakland '-- to choose four measures to evaluate: growth mind-set, social awareness, self-efficacy and self-management.
The districts tested 10,000 students in 2014, and nearly 500,000 students last year, surveying things like how many days the students had come to school prepared (self-management), and whether they believed it was more important to be talented or to work hard (growth mind-set).
Just two years ago in her classroom in a trailer here at Visitacion Valley Elementary School, Ms. Cooney struggled with the kind of management problems that often confront young teachers.
Her students, mostly poor and living in a nearby housing project, were bouncing around the classroom, playing with their phones instead of paying attention, fighting out interfamily beefs. Even if they wanted to learn, they were not.
Ms. Cooney, 27, took a two-hour training session in a student-behavior program and began playing ''good-behavior games.'' They look like regular lessons, except that they begin with students identifying goals for good behavior, and end with her assessing what went right and wrong.
On a recent day, students took notes on their reading as Ms. Cooney moved with a kind of Zen bustle around the classroom, grading papers and consulting one-on-one while she watched for things she would compliment the class on later '-- keeping bodies still, focusing on the task '-- and quietly noted bad behavior.
For every 1,000 minutes of good behavior earned, the children win 15 extra minutes of recess.
''I'm really saving minutes that would be lost to transitions, settling disputes and behavior problems,'' Ms. Cooney said. It can be exhausting, but not nearly as much as teaching before. As she said, ''Would you rather put out fires, or prevent them?''
Social-emotional learning will count for 8 percent of a school's overall performance score; no teacher will lose a job for failing to instill a growth mind-set.
Noah Bookman, the chief accountability officer for the districts, said he understood the concerns about testing. But, he said, ''This work is so phenomenally important to the success of our kids in school and life. In some ways, we worry as much if not more about the possibility that these indicators remain on the back burner.''
Correction: March 2, 2016An article on Tuesday about a nationwide push to test the emotional skills of students misidentified a school in New York that is discussed in the book ''How Children Succeed,'' which extols the efforts to teach such skills. It is Riverdale Country School, not Horace Mann.
A version of this article appears in print on March 1, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Testing for Grit? Schools Pushed on Social Skills.
Report: Women in Canada Earn 28% Less Than Men
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 20:24
Women in Canada earn 72 cents to every dollar a man earns in the same field of work.
The wage gap between men and women in Canada is getting wider with women paid far less than men for doing the same work, a new report published Monday by Oxfam Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reveals.
Titled ''Making Women Count,'' the report shows that on average women are paid 72 cents for every dollar earned by a man in the same field of work. In 2009, the figure was 74 cents, pointing to a growing divide between what men and women earn.
According to the report's findings, this gender imbalance is due to systemic rather than circumstantial factors.
"The gap in men's and women's incomes is not simply the result of women working fewer hours," the report said.
"Nor is it the result of different levels of education and experience. Even when all of these factors are considered, the result remains the same: a wage gap."
RELATED: ILO Report: Young and Female, a Double Handicap to Find a Job
Although women are more likely to have a higher level of education than men, they are on average paid less '-- across all industries. The report notes that almost 60 percent of minimum wage workers in Canada are women.
"Education alone is not sufficient to overcome discrimination in wages and employment," the report says. "Clearly other forces are at play."
Disproportionate representation in lower-income jobs, unequal access to work and lack of affordable child care are listed as some of the factors that have contributed to the widening wage gap.
The study also notes that the wage gap is worse for Aboriginal women, immigrant women and women of different backgrounds.
For instance, Aboriginal women with a university degree earn 24 percent less than Aboriginal men with a university degree and 33 percent less than non-Aboriginal men with a university degree, according to the report.
While focusing on women in Canada, the report concludes that ''overcoming inequality is a truly global task.''
Pentagon releases cyber implementation plan -- FCW
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 20:28
Pentagon releases cyber implementation planBy Sean LyngaasMar 07, 2016The Defense Department CIO has released an "implementation plan" to help codify its increased attention to fundamental cybersecurity practices in recent months.
The DOD Cybersecurity Discipline Implementation Plan prioritizes identity authentication, reducing DOD networks' attack surface, device hardening and the alignment of computer network defenders with DOD IT systems and networks.
Inspection reports from recent network intrusions have "revealed department-wide, systemic shortfalls in implementing basic cybersecurity requirements," the plan states.
The document, which was amended in February and publicly released within the last week, goes hand-in-hand with a DOD cyber scorecard that grades various agencies' IT security and is reviewed monthly by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
Whereas the scorecard is a more strategic, bird's eye view for Carter, the new implementation plan targets compliance further down the chain of command. Commanders and supervisors at all levels will report their implementation progress through the Defense Readiness Reporting System.
The initiative "forces awareness and accountability for these key tasks into the command chains and up to senior leadership, where resourcing decisions can be made to address compliance shortfalls," the plan states.
The implementation plan lays out a series of tasks for DOD officials, organized against the four aforementioned priorities. For example, officials are charged with making sure their internal web servers require official Public Key Infrastructure authentication; with ensuring proper configuration of physical and virtual servers; with disconnecting all Internet-facing web servers and web applications without "an operational requirement"; and with ensuring proper incident response plans are in place.
If officials determine it is not possible to comply with the document's requirements for operational reasons, they may be given an exception via a DOD risk management committee.
Officials like Deputy Secretary Robert Work have said that a great majority of intrusions into Pentagon networks are the result of human error, and the implementation plan is an effort to tighten the screws on compliance.
DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen has clamped down on poor cybersecurity practices within the department, kicking irresponsible users off of networks, according to his office.
Asked last October at a media roundtable if anyone at DOD had ever been fired for sloppy network use, Halvorsen said, "Absolutely."
The implementation plan follows another policy, the Cybersecurity Culture and Compliance Initiative, signed by Carter last September. That directive tasked Halvorsen's office with conducting realistic training for DOD network users to drive home the consequences of insecure practices.
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.
Oliver Stone Reveals Clandestine Meetings With Edward Snowden - Hollywood Reporter
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 00:31
Fears of interference by the National Security Agency led Oliver Stone to shoot Snowden, his upcoming movie about government whistle-blower Edward Snowden, outside the United States.
''We moved to Germany, because we did not feel comfortable in the U.S.,'' Stone said on March 6, speaking before an audience at the Sun Valley Film Festival in Idaho, in a Q&A moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Galloway. ''We felt like we were at risk here. We didn't know what the NSA might do, so we ended up in Munich, which was a beautiful experience.''
Even there, problems arose with companies that had connections to the U.S., he said: ''The American subsidiary says, 'You can't get involved with this; we don't want our name on it.' So BMW couldn't even help us in any way in Germany.''
While in Sun Valley, the three-time Oscar winner held a private screening of Snowden for an invited audience of around two dozen. Those who attended the screening, at the former home of Ernest Hemingway, included actress Melissa Leo, who plays documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras.
Guests were required to sign non-disclosure agreements, but that did not prevent three of them from speaking to this reporter. All praised the work-in-progress. ''What he did that's so brilliant is, he gave this kid's whole back story, so you really like him,'' said one audience member.
When Stone (whose films include Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and Wall Street) was first approached to make the movie, he hesitated. He had been working on another controversial subject, about the last few years in the life of Martin Luther King Jr., and did not immediately wish to tackle something that incendiary again.
''Glenn Greenwald [the journalist who worked with Poitras to break the Snowden story] asked me some advice and I just wanted to stay away from controversy,'' he said. ''I didn't want this. Be that as it may, a couple of months later, the Russian lawyer for Snowden contacts me via my producer. The Russian lawyer told me to come to Russia and wanted me to meet him. One thing led to another, and basically I got hooked.''
In Moscow, Stone met multiple times with Snowden, who has been living in exile in Russia since evading the U.S. government's attempts to arrest him for espionage. ''He's articulate, smart, very much the same,'' he said. ''I've been seeing him off and on for a year '-- actually, more than that. I saw him last week or two weeks ago to show him the final film.''
He added: ''He is consistent: he believes so thoroughly in reform of the Internet that he has devoted himself to this cause '... Because of the Russian hours, he stays up all night. He's a night owl, and he's always in touch [with the outside world], and he's working on some kind of constitution for the Internet with other people. So he's very busy. And he stays in that 70-percent-computer world. He's on another planet that way. His sense of humor has gotten bigger, his tolerance. He's not really in Russia in his mind '-- he's in some planetary position up there. And Lindsay Mills, the woman he's loved for 10 years '-- really, it's a serious affair '-- has moved there to be with him.''
Spending time with Snowden, and researching what happened to him, Stone said, ''It's an amazing story. Here's a young man, 30 years old at that time, and he does something that's so powerful. Who at 30 years old would do that, sacrificing his life in that way? We met with him many times in Moscow, and we did a lot more research, and we went ahead.'' He added, ''I think he's a historical figure of great consequence.''
Despite the director's involvement in the movie, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Snowden and Shailene Woodley as Mills, ''No studio would support it,'' he said. ''It was extremely difficult to finance, extremely difficult to cast. We were doing another one of these numbers I had done before, where preproduction is paid for by essentially the producer and myself, where you're living on a credit card.''
Eventually, financing came through from France and Germany. ''The contracts were signed, like eight days before we started,'' he noted. ''It's a very strange thing to do [a story about] an American man, and not be able to finance this movie in America. And that's very disturbing, if you think about its implications on any subject that is not overtly pro-American. They say we have freedom of expression; but thought is financed, and thought is controlled, and the media is controlled. This country is very tight on that, and there's no criticism allowed at a certain level. You can make movies about civil rights leaders who are dead, but it's not easy to make one about a current man.''
Snowden opens in the U.S. on September 16.
DHS sets up shop in Silicon Valley
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 15:14
DHS sets up shop in Silicon ValleyBy Sean LyngaasMar 08, 2016"Silicon Valley" can be a catch phrase for tapping technologies and business processes that are tough to find in an often-rigid federal acquisition process. Every federal agency wants a presence in Silicon Valley, at least metaphorically speaking.
Department of Homeland Security officials took those aspirations a step further by setting up a physical presence in Silicon Valley last year.
Supporters of the Northern California outpost hope it blossoms into a bigger presence that swiftly translates program requirements from DHS' disparate components, giving field agents a pipeline to cutting-edge tech.
For now, though, the department's Silicon Valley office, supported by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, is a tiny shop. "We're still determining what bandwidth this office will require," Melissa Ho, the office's managing director, said in a recent interview.
For Ho, former chief of staff at S&T's cybersecurity division, the near-term measure of the office's efficacy is faster contracting. She points to her office's first award under an Other Transaction Solicitation authority designed to attract startups -- a $200,000 contract to Santa Clara, Calif.-based Pulzze Systems to bolster the security of networked devices.
"I've never seen that in the time that I've been in government," Ho said of the short turnaround time between solicitation and award.
S&T chose the Internet of Things for the first OTS award because officials are taking note of the proliferation of connected devices and are "trying to get ahead of that curve," Ho said, adding that security was an afterthought when the Internet was constructed. That will be a tall task: a top computer security expert at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, for example, has said that the interconnectivity of devices leaves computer systems essentially indefensible.
DHS buys commercial-off-the-shelf products, so all the better if the department can "shape that shelf in any way" earlier on the tech development process, Ho said. Vendors "can't just figure out what they need without us telling them what they need," she added.
Ann Barron-DiCamillo, who last month stepped down as head of DHS' U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team to launch her own venture firm, said a key challenge for the department's new Silicon Valley office would be syncing DHS program requirements and private-sector technology cycles.
"I think that's one of the hardest things is that you think you have requirements, but you want to make sure somebody out there can fulfill them," said Barron Di-Camillo, while welcoming the new outpost as a positive step. "It's part of the education process."
'We sent out one of our best'
Ho is joined in the Silicon Valley office by Sean McAfee, a cybersecurity official in DHS' National Protection and Programs Directorate.
"We sent out one of our best," said Phyllis Schneck, DHS deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity and communications, referring to McAfee. "We made a statement."
Among McAfee's tasks in Silicon Valley will likely be scouting cybersecurity talent to work for NPPD.
That endeavor could be complicated by the fact that, according to Barron Di-Camillo, NPPD components such as US CERT do not have facilities in Silicon Valley where employees can access classified networks. In other words, if US CERT wants to hire a cyber forensics expert based in the Valley, custom arrangements must be hashed out to give the new employee access to any classified information their new job might require.
Chris Cummiskey, a former acting undersecretary for management at DHS, applauded the department's "holistic" approach to reaching out to tech firms via the new office.
"That's always been kind of an issue, making sure that all of the outreach coming out of DHS is coordinated in a way that actually gets you to move the needle," Cummiskey told FCW.
For the Silicon Valley outpost to truly serve as a technology conduit for DHS, he said, it has to involve all of the department's disparate components, from Customs and Border Patrol to the Coast Guard. (Ho has indicated that is the plan.)
DHS also has its eye on other technology hubs across the country; Silicon Valley, after all, is a metaphor as well as a spot on the map.
"We want to make sure we are not just focused on California," Schneck told FCW. "That was a good place to start; it offers us a plethora of companies," but there are plenty more regional hubs available, she said.
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.
DHS widens warning about Ukrainian electric grid attack
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 15:12
DHS widens warning about Ukrainian electric grid attackBy Mark RockwellMar 09, 2016Even though there is no evidence of similar activity in the U.S., DHS officials are warning critical infrastructure providers the cyberattack that crippled Ukraine's electrical grid last December is difficult to detect, with elements that make recovery particularly challenging.
The Ukraine attack, which hit regional electric power distribution companies and left over a quarter million people without electricity for days, was the first known instance of a cyberattack taking out a power grid.
In a March 7 blog post, DHS Assistant Secretary Andy Ozment and Deputy Assistant Secretary Greg Touhill said their agency is stepping up its briefings with U.S. critical infrastructure providers in the wake of the attacks, which cybersecurity experts have tied to the Russia-linked BlackEnergy hacking group, long identified as an advanced persistent cybersecurity threat.
"DHS is planning an expanded outreach campaign to all critical infrastructure sector asset owners and operators to discuss the Ukraine incident and provide detection and mitigation strategies to prevent cyber-attacks using these malicious techniques and tactics," they wrote.
Ozment and Touhill said DHS cyber defense teams have already briefed U.S. electric sector companies on the details of the attack, but have also scheduled briefings across the entire spectrum of U.S. critical infrastructure providers -- including chemical, nuclear, transportation, natural gas, and water sectors -- through Sector Coordinating Councils and Information Sharing and Analysis Centers.
"Critical infrastructure owners and operators need to be aware of malicious cyber activity and take measures to protect their assets," the DHS officials wrote, adding that more detail on the tactics used in the Ukrainian attacks is available through DHS' public Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team alert site, as well as through its classified CERT portal.
It's not clear what prompted the wider warning, but the report notes that three other organizations in the Ukraine, including some in other critical infrastructure sectors, were also breached. Those organizations, not named in the report, didn't experience any impact to their operations.
In 2014, CERT had warned of Black Energy's use of Microsoft Office documents in a targeted campaign to infiltrate computer facilities at a U.S. academic institution, Western European governments, and energy and telecommunications companies.
Tom Fanning, CEO of the U.S. utility Southern Company, said at a March 9 cybersecurity conference, "We were informed of the threats of Black Energy'...early in 2014."
"We got word this Black Energy thing was out there, and we started to take steps to protect ourselves against that," he said.
According to a February report from Kapersky Labs, the coordinated attack in the Ukraine on three facilities was initiated after the attackers did "extensive reconnaissance of the victim networks." The companies that own the facilities believe the attackers obtained legitimate credentials prior to the assault, possibly through phishing emails, to gain their remote access capabilities.
Attacks at each facility, said the report, were closely coordinated, occurring within 30 minutes of each other. Multiple attackers then turned off breakers using remote administration tools at the system operating level, or with remote industrial control system client software using virtual private network connections.
At the end of the attack, the report said, the attackers used KillDisk malware to wipe some systems clean, erase selected files on targeted systems and corrupt system master files. They also corrupted firmware in Serial-to-Ethernet devices at power substations.
To complicate later recovery and restoration efforts, the ICS-CERT report said, the group set up automatic disconnects to servers' Uninterruptable Power Supplies using a remote interface. A report in January from the SANS Institute said the attackers also launched a denial-of-service attack on the electric companies' system repair dispatchers' consoles and blocked customer calls reporting the power outages.
FCW editorial fellow Chase Gunter contributed reporting to this article.
About the Author
Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.
Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.
Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.
Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.
NSA overhaul includes acquisition
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 15:08
NSA overhaul includes acquisitionBy Sean LyngaasMar 09, 2016The overhaul of the National Security Agency unveiled last month has been accompanied by a change in thinking about how the agency approaches acquisition.
"We increasingly need to reach out to commercial companies," many of which are unfamiliar with federal acquisition regulations, said Jennifer Walsmith, NSA's senior acquisition executive. Those firms have "a different risk/reward calculus. They want high profits; they don't want you owning their data rights...and they want flexibility."
NSA will start using an innovative contracting shop to try to make the agency's acquisition process more efficient, Walsmith said March 9 at a Women in Defense event.
One of the broad themes of NSA's largest structural shakeup since the late 1990s is innovation. Scaling innovation across the agency enterprise is still a challenge, Walsmith said, but officials hope that lessons learned at the Business Management and Acquisition Directorate, one of six new directorates, will spread across the agency.
"NSA's industrial base right now is struggling," Walsmith said. "We have more people leaving right now in our industrial base to the commercial market," and attracting talent is a challenge.
Traditionally, the agency has handled much of its technological development in-house, using a smaller slice of contractors than, say, the National Reconnaissance Office, NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers said in a speech last December.
"I'm not sure that that optimizes us for the future," Rogers said of NSA's balance between in-house work and contracting. "How do we create a framework that enables us to work with the private sector in a much more integrated way?"
That month, NSA officials took what appears to be a relatively rare step in posting a solicitation. The vague broad agency announcement called for "innovative technologies in a number of key areas of interest." An NSA spokesperson described it as an effort to reach companies that might not know how to do business with the agency.
Walsmith called the solicitation a "signal that we are trying to do things differently."
NSA's acquisition workforce includes about 900 employees, the youngest of whom are prone to challenging the status quo, according to Walsmith. It is important to take risks in acquiring cryptographic technologies in particular, she added, because "the only way we can keep up with encryption is to truly be on the leading edge of innovation."
NSA has long been trying to balance the amount of in-house work with outsourcing, said former deputy director Chris Inglis.
A jarring experience for NSA acquisition was the ill-fated Trailblazer data-filtering program, he added. The agency delegated a great deal of responsibility for conceiving and integrating the various pieces of that project to the private sector. The result was a muddled vision for what was supposed to be a major signals intelligence project, he told FCW.
The surveillance program was shut down in 2006 after $1.2 billion in development costs failed to get it off the ground. The agency lost its acquisition authority after Trailblazer's struggles in what Inglis called a painful period for NSA acquisition.
Inglis, now a visiting professor at the U.S Naval Academy, pointed to the Intelligence Community IT Enterprise as an example of the IC effectively outsourcing private-sector expertise. The broad initiative features a cloud computing service that Amazon Web Services built for all 17 agencies in the IC.
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.
DHS creates intel fast lane for select analysts
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 15:05
DHS creates intel fast lane for select analystsBy Zach NobleMar 09, 2016In the Department of Homeland Security's annual data mining report issued last month to Congress, the agency touted 2015's improvements while noting the big target of instant data-sharing across systems is still out of reach because of interoperability issues. As a workaround, DHS has come up with a kind of special access account for a select group of analysts focused on time-sensitive threats to the homeland.
The DHS Data Framework, meant to help link disparate DHS databases in support of the "One DHS" policy goal, entered an initial operational phase in April 2015, but One DHS remains a work in progress.
"The existing architecture of DHS databases ['...] is not conducive to effective implementation of the 'One DHS' policy," the privacy report noted, explaining that feds still must check multiple DHS databases manually as they perform immigration checks, anti-terror research and other tasks. The DHS architecture, the report notes, "requires personnel to log on and query separate databases in order to determine what information DHS systems contain about a particular individual."
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is the only system currently offering "near-real-time data transfer" into the framework, the report said.
The report also noted DHS is bypassing the agency's established data access controls to identify terror threats. The agency has a "critical need" to "perform classified queries on its unclassified data," with the aim of rapidly identifying individuals supporting ISIS, al Qaeda and other terror groups. The report notes that the identification of potential foreign fighters is a "uniquely time-sensitive purpose." To that end, DHS set up a class of special "approved users" who can tap into travel databases on an expedited basis, and more data from the unclassified to the classified domain.
The framework will power searches of individuals, characteristics and trends. Seven datasets had been approved for framework inclusion as of September 2015, the report noted, while the goal is to have 20 in by the end of 2016.
DHS has set up a steering group to help provide governance of the nascent framework.
The report also noted the successful completion of a 2015 pilot for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Analytical Framework for Intelligence, which enabled agents to see "Secret" and "Sensitive But Unclassified" data on a single screen.
CBP's Intranet-based Automated Targeting System continues to standardize information on individuals and cargo entering and exiting the U.S. , the report said, and should be capable of "auto-conditionally approv[ing]" Trusted Traveler applications by the second quarter of 2016.
Throughout the report, DHS provided anecdotes, rather than high-level statistics, to demonstrate the apparent effectiveness of its data mining activities. The report also noted in several places that individuals are not solely targeted for extra scrutiny based on data mining; final calls stem from the "judgment and expertise" of DHS employees.
While nobody is getting flagged or investigated solely based on what algorithms tag in a database, DHS asserts, machine input helps make the job of guarding ports and borders easier, especially as those databases get better at sharing information.
About the Author
Zach Noble is a staff writer covering digital citizen services, workforce issues and a range of civilian federal agencies.
Before joining FCW in 2015, Noble served as assistant editor at the viral news site TheBlaze, where he wrote a mix of business, political and breaking news stories and managed weekend news coverage. He has also written for online and print publications including The Washington Free Beacon, The Santa Barbara News-Press, The Federalist and Washington Technology.
Noble is a graduate of Saint Vincent College, where he studied English, economics and mathematics.
Click here for previous articles by Noble, or connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.
CLIPS AND DOCS
VIDEO-Clinton Says Mother of Benghazi Victim is Wrong to Call Her a Liar - YouTube
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 14:57
VIDEO-Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson On Calling Trump A "Pussy" - YouTube
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 14:29
VIDEO-Islamic State Files: 'Goldmine Of Information'
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 14:06
By Tom Cheshire, Technology Correspondent
The sheer scale of the Islamic State documents uncovered by Sky News is extraordinary.
But even more valuable is their detail.
Each of the approximately 22,000 documents has detailed information in 23 different categories.
Most interesting will be the entries for the 'countries travelled through', 'previous fighting experience', 'who recommended him' and 'special skills'.
Entries on the forms include point of entry and who recommended recruits
Speaking about the discovery of the files, former global terrorism operations director at MI6 Richard Barrett told Sky News: "It's a fantastic coup.
"And it will be an absolute goldmine of information of enormous significance and interest to very many people, particularly the security and intelligence services."
Play video "The Man With 22,000 Jihadi Files"Video:The Man With 22,000 Jihadi FilesHe added: "There hasn't been anything at all like this since the discovery of the Sinjar records in 2007 and that only covered about 700 people (IS fighters entering Iraq), all of whom were from Arab countries."
:: Who Are The Britons In The Islamic State Files?
Afzal Ashraf, a counter-terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Sky News: "They're probably the most significant intelligence we've had to date of Da'esh (IS).
"It will give them an indication of not just who they are, where they come from, but will be able to potentially to lead them to the individuals who radicalised these individuals as well as facilitated their departure."
Play video "The Impact Of The IS Cache"Video:The Impact Of The IS Cache"And it's those people that are really key. It's these people that are capable of radicalising and sending out foreign fighters in their dozens."
But there is a huge amount of information here - around 500,000 individual data points.
That could overwhelm human analysts - which is where machines come in.
The intelligence agencies will set their computers loose on the data.
Play video "Where Did Islamic State Come From?"Video:Where Did Islamic State Come From?By mapping individuals and places, and establishing the links between them, big data analysis may uncover leads that would elude humans.
And some of the other categories on the forms 'levels of obedience' and 'time and place of death' will be useful for a different reason: the counter-Islamic State narrative.
This is an information war as much as anything.
And this cache of documents is a weapon.
VIDEO-Turkey and Greece work on migrant cooperation deal | euronews, world news
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 06:41
Turkey and Greece have held a bilateral meeting filling in the details on the proposed EU plan which includes a controversial refugee exchange programme. The prime ministers of both countries signed a deal they hope will end flows of people across the Aegean Sea.
The two leaders met in the Turkish city of Izmir a day after an EU summit in Brussels.
''Yesterday during the summit, and today here at this meeting, Turkey and Greece are giving a common answer with a common perspective to those in Europe who have the attitude that Greece and Turkey should deal with the crisis on their own,'' said Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu at a joint news conference. ''Once again we are reiterating that Turkey and Greece are taking up this matter with a common perspective.''
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told reporters that the readmission agreement would help reduce what he called the ''unbearable flow'' into Europe.
''I would like to stress that the implementation of this readmission agreement sends a clear message to migrants coming from third countries: there is neither the political will nor the ability to cross to Europe [within the frame of the measures we are taking],'' said Tsipras.
More than one million people fleeing war in the Middle East have entered the EU in the last year. Most make the perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, before heading north through the Balkans to Germany.
VIDEO-48-hour strike by English junior doctors over pay and conditions | euronews, world news
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 06:37
"I've never heard so many people say that they are considering either leaving the profession completely or at least leaving the country"
A 48-hour strike by junior doctors in England over a new work contract being imposed by the government.
The doctors are angry after being told the contract, which reduces how much they're paid for working weekends, will be forced through in August after negotiations faltered.
One of the those protesting and collecting signatures for a petition, junior doctor Holly Cooper, told reporters: ''It's a very stressful job, high intensity.
''And to have the government, particularly our Secretary of State for Health telling us that we're not listening to you, you're saying that the contract isn't suitable and it's not what you want, but I'm just going to impose it anyway.''
Surgical trainee and junior doctor Alex Trevatt said: ''In my entire time as a doctor, I've never heard so many people say that they are considering either leaving the profession completely or at least leaving the country and going to work somewhere else.
The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has accused the British Medical Association of refusing to compromise in the battle over the contract.
Figures show that junior doctors make up just over 50 percent of all doctors in the National Health Service.
Officials say more than 5,000 operations have been cancelled due to the strike.
Similar action was also taken in January and February, with participation not seen in decades.
The government maintains reform is needed in tough economic times and to improve efficiency; the doctors say there will be no safeguards against working dangerously long hours.
VIDEO-Alcohol ban hits Spanish resort island of Mallorca | euronews, world news
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 06:34
The popular Spanish tourist island of Mallorca has brought in a night time booze ban.
The sale of alcohol in shops, vending machines and from street sellers is now forbidden in several areas between midnight and eight a.m.
One tourist said: ''Personally I do not think that it is a good law [that] they impose for the locality because of the consequences [are negative] for the jobs, the activity [and] persons who live with this form of tourism.''
The areas '' Palma Beach, Can Pastilla, El Jonquet, Paseo Maritimo, Son Armadams, Plaza Gomila and El Terreno are now designated special enforcement areas where the police have more powers to control people drinking in the streets.
The fines which start at 1,500 euros can be substituted for education courses conducted by the Palma Municipal Police.
The measure was introduced after complaints that tourists were often behaving badly.
VIDEO-As Balkans route closes 'migrants will seek other ways to Europe' | euronews, world news
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 06:29
Countries in eastern Europe are now on alert for any new migration routes opening up after the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia or ''FYROM'' announced it was closing its border completely to illegal migrants:''http://www.euronews.com/2016/03/09/protests-at-greek-macedonian-border-as-balkans-migrant-route-closed/
Its decision came after Slovenia barred access to migrants transiting its country and that Serbia and Croatia said they would follow suit.
In response analysts say that although the so-called Balkans route which emerged last year is now shut, other irregular migration patterns may emerge.
Hungary now says it is increasing security on its border with Romania..''For the time being we do not experience influx of illegal migrants from the Romanian side, however the authorities will be prepared for that possibility to be able as quickly as possible to build a border fence if needed,'' said Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter.
Around 13,000 migrants are now stranded on the Greek Macedonian border while the EU attempts to finalise a deal that could see them all returned to Turkey.
The UN's refugee agency is preparing contingency plans for when new routes are forged.
In the meantime activists such as Chinese artist Ai Weiwei who visited the Idomeni migrant camp have urged European leaders to find a more permanent solution to the crisis.
VIDEO-Mosul Dam at risk of 'catastrophic failure' - CNN.com
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 06:05
The failure of the Mosul Dam, located in northern Iraq, has been a concern for Iraqi and American officials for years.
But the meeting hosted by Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Mohamed Alhakim, Iraqi's U.N. ambassador, highlighted the seriousness of inaction and called on the international community to pay attention to "urgently-needed repair work," Power said.
The Mosul Dam is a two-mile-long barrier that can hold back as much as 441 million cubic feet of water, according to Engineering News-Record, a construction industry website. If breached, 500,000 to 1.47 million Iraqis living in the flood path would be at serious risk, according to the readout of Wednesday's briefing.
"In the event of a breach, there is the potential in some places for a flood wave up to 14 meters high (45 feet) that could sweep up everything in its path, including people, cars, unexploded ordnance, waste and other hazardous materials," Power said.
In the event of a disaster, the flooding of Mosul, which has a population of over 600,000, would happen in less than four hours, according to a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in February.
After the meeting, Power tweeted a map of Baghdad -- some 275 miles away from the dam -- which shows that water could flood the city in 77 hours, resulting in its population of 7 million to "face choice to flee or risk being stranded by flood."
ISIS no longer controls damThe dam drew the attention of the international community in the summer of 2014 when ISIS militants took control of it, provoking fears that it could be used as a weapon of war.
While ISIS no longer has a stronghold on the dam, repair work and structural enhancements need to continue on the dam, "to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions," Power said, adding that the U.N. emergency appeal for such efforts is only funded 8 percent.
Last week, the Iraqi government signed a contract with an Italian construction company to work on the dam, according to the Italian Foreign Ministry.
"The stakes are too high, and the potential consequences too devastating, for us not to confront this problem now," Power said.
CNN's Dana Ford contributed to this report.
VIDEO-ABC Hypes Comparing Trump to Hitler, the Nazis | MRCTV
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 05:58
[See NewsBusters for more.] Both ABC and NBC on Tuesday hyped the comparison of Donald Trump to the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. Today co-host Savannah Guthrie noted that the businessman has asked crowds to take a loyalty oath. Reporter Peter Alexander reminded, ''One prominent Jewish leader comparing the loyalty gesture from the Trump audience to a Nazi salute.'' Guthrie pressed, ''I wonder how you feel about that comparison and whether it would make you want to perhaps not do it anymore, if people feel that way?''
VIDEO-White Students Keep Using Anti-Latino 'Trump' Chants at High School Basketball Games | VICE News
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 04:56
The rhetoric on the campaign trail has gone from heated to blistering, leaving Dr. Ben Carson calling for a meeting to tone it down and Sen. Ted Cruz worrying during his televised Super Tuesday speech about young children repeating Donald Trump's words.
And in this environment, high school students have begun using Trump's mere name and visage at sporting events to mock rival Hispanic athletes and supporters.
In one such incident in northwest Indiana last week, Trump's face was used by a group of "super fan" students at a predominantly white Catholic high school in northwest Indiana to taunt students at a rival Catholic school that is mostly Latino. The white students also chanted, "Build a wall!", referencing Trump's campaign pledge to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
The game between Andrean High School and Bishop Noll Institute, both near Gary, Indiana, took place last Friday night. The Andrean students were dressed in red, white, and blue attire and American flag prints. One held up a large paper cutout of Trump's face.
In response to the "build a wall" chant, local reports said some Bishop Noll students chanted back with '-- "You're a racist," which prompted replies of, "You're a token," a reference to the phrase token minority.
Video of the incident surfaced over the weekend. Officials at both schools released a statement on Monday saying they planned to investigate.
Related:As the Donald Trump Dumping Continues, Root of Scorn Might Be a Failed Deal in Mexico
Ashley Howard, a high school volleyball coach who was at the game to root for a younger cousin playing for Bishop Noll, recorded the chanting and posted it to Facebook, where it went viral.
In her post, she called out school officials at Andrean for not more quickly responding to the chants or confiscating signs. One of the student placards said "ESPN Deportes," a reference to the Spanish-language ESPN network, but also to the word "deport." Howard told VICE News on Tuesday that she's been flooded with messages both criticizing and supporting her.
"They do get rowdy and passionate and all those things, it's a sporting event," Howard said. "But I think it gets out of hand when it goes from 'We're better than you at basketball,' and it goes to 'Build a wall, no comprende,' you know. That has nothing to do with anything except race."
The incident in Indiana is the second since last week involving white students yelling "Trump!" at basketball opponents from a more diverse campus. On February 22 outside Des Moines, Iowa, students from Dallas Center-Grimes Community High School chanted the candidate's name at students from Perry High School during a basketball match.
Dallas Center-Grimes student leaders later apologized to their counterparts at Perry. A Perry student noted that it was the fourth time the largely Latino high school's boys hoops team has been subjected to the Trump chant this season.
"I urge that you stay alert to chants like 'Trump' or 'Mini-Mexico' and that you please take action," Perry student Kevin Lopez wrote in a letter to his school paper. "We know racism is alive and well, but we refuse to undergo discrimination at Iowa high school athletic events."
On June 16, 2015, while launching his campaign for the White House, Trump claimed Mexico "sends" rapists and criminals to the United States. The comments sparked immediate public outcry across North and South America, as well as a tense legal and business battle with US media giant Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-language broadcaster. Trump's proposal to build a wall on the border with Mexico was recently deemed "racist and ignorant" by Mexico's foreign minister, and trade experts on both sides of the border have argued the plan would be impossible to carry out.
The high schools in Indiana said members of both school communities met on Sunday. The schools did not return calls seeking further comment.
"It shouldn't have happened," Bishop Knoll junior Imari Beasley told CBS Chicago. "But we did receive an apology from the Andrean principal, so hopefully we can learn to forgive and forget, and make sure it never happens again."
Howard has remained adamant that the use of Trump's image and ideas have no place at high school athletic contests.
"This is an election year and it's Super Tuesday now, and we have a presidential candidate who recites hate speech and racism and it's all over the place now," she said. "Kids are savvy with the Internet, so they can easily pick up this hate speech and racism from someone who unfortunately is almost gonna be our next president."
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not return a call or emails seeking comment on the incidents.
Related:Why It's No Surprise a Journalist Got Choked at a Donald Trump Rally
Follow Daniel Hernandez on Twitter: @longdrivesouth
Watch the VICE News documentary 2 Trump Girls: Meeting The Donald's Super Fans, Diamond and Silk:
VIDEO-CNN's Costello Seeks 'Fun' by Getting Hill to Talk About 'Angry White Men' | MRCTV
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 04:43
Appearing as a guest on Wednesday's CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, race-obsessed CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill painted "white male" Donald Trump supporters as being bothered at "a rise in expanded opportunity for black people and for brown people," suggesting that Trump's slogan is really "We're going to make America white again."
Host Costello invited the liberal commentator and Morehouse College professor to gripe about race as she declared it would be "kind of fun" to get him to talk about "angry white men" who are supporting Trump. Costello: "Let me ask you this, Marc, because I want to ask you about angry white men because I just think it would be kind of fun."
See more in cross post at NewsBusters.
VIDEO-Megyn Kelly Grills DNC Chair on Hillary 'Facing Threat of Indictment' | MRCTV
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 04:36
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
In a heated exchange during special Fox News election coverage Tuesday night, co-anchor Megyn Kelly pressed Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Hillary Clinton possibly being indicted over the ongoing e-mail scandal: ''...yes, it's gotten a little vulgar on the GOP side, but no one's facing the threat of indictment.''
Schultz replied: ''There's no one facing the threat of indictment on our side either, Megyn.'' Kelly pushed back: ''There's an open DOJ and FBI investigation into Mrs. Clinton right now.'' Schultz lectured: ''Let's not be melodramatic.'' Kelly demanded: ''How is that melodramatic? Those are the facts.''
VIDEO-Morning Joe: Rubio Should Drop Out Now, Beg Trump to be Vice Pres. | MRCTV
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 04:21
The voting results from the latest "Super Tuesday" are in and Morning Joe wasted little time diving in and analyzing the results on Wednesday morning. Their conclusion? Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio needs to drop out right now, before the winner-take-all Sunshine State primary, and beg Donald Trump to be his vice presidential running mate.
Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were of one mind when they squared off with NBC's Chuck Todd on how Rubio's campaign should proceed. ''Make a play for Vice President.'' The pair said in unison when the Meet the Press host questioned why Rubio would drop out just 6 days before the Florida primary.
VIDEO-Rubio Slams Liberal Media, CBS Head for Helping Trump; 'Dominant' Factor in the GOP Race | MRCTV
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 04:03
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
Senator Marco Rubio continued his participation in the anti-Donald Trump crusade against the liberal media on Tuesday in an MSNBC Town Hall as he pointed out that Trump has received far more media coverage than all his opponents combined and was buttressed by recent comments from CBS chief Les Moonves that Trump has been great for his network's ratings.
Roughly four minutes into the event at Florida International University, Rubio explained that due to Florida's size, it's ''largely been operating off the national media and the national media, to be fair, has given Donald Trump ten times as much coverage than any other Republican candidate combined and part of it is because he's says outrageous things and part of it is cause he knows how to manipulate the media.''
VIDEO-AG Lynch Testifies: Justice Dept. Has 'Discussed' Civil Legal Action Against Climate Change Deniers | TheBlaze.com
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 03:14
Attorney General Loretta Lynch testified Wednesday that the Justice Department has ''discussed'' taking civil legal action against the fossil fuel industry for ''denying'' the ''threat of carbon emissions'' when it comes to climate change.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
During Lynch's testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that he believes there are similarities between the tobacco industry denying scientific studies showing the dangers of using tobacco and companies within the fossil fuel industry denying studies allegedly showing the threat of carbon emissions.
He went on to point out that under President Bill Clinton, the Justice Department brought and won a civil case against the tobacco industry, while the Obama administration has ''done nothing'' so far with regard to the fossil fuel industry.
Whitehouse concluded his comments by posing a question to the country's top law enforcement officer.
''My question to you is, other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?'' he asked.
''This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on,'' Lynch answered. ''I'm not aware of a civil referral at this time.''
(H/T: CNS News)
VIDEO-Idaho shooting suspect's 'hypersexual' Martian manifesto is a window into an unraveling mind - The Washington Post
Thu, 10 Mar 2016 00:22
Kyle Odom was arrested after throwing objects over the White House fence on March 8. He is suspected of shooting an Idaho pastor two days earlier, and released a manifesto warning of "Martians" in Congress before his arrest. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
On Tuesday evening, as tourists snapped photos in front of the White House, a young man with blond hair and blue eyes approached the black iron fence.
Kyle Odom wasn't there to take pictures, though.
He was there to deliver a message to the president.
A Secret Service agent spotted Odom tossing something over the fence and approached him. When the agent ran his name through a law enforcement database, a red flag popped up: an arrest warrant issued just two days earlier on the other side of the country.
The charge: attempted murder.
Arriving seemingly out of nowhere, Odom was arrested at the White House, bringing a sudden end to a two-day hunt for the Marine veteran.
It also provided a bizarre coda to an already baffling crime saga, one that stretched from rural Idaho to the nation's capital and potentially threatened the lives of 50 members of Congress.
[What happened outside the White House]
When Secret Service agents unwittingly stopped Odom, the 30-year-old was the only suspect in the shooting of an Evangelical pastor in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on Sunday. According to authorities, Odom had ambushed Tim Remington in his church parking lot, shooting the popular pastor in the head and back before he vanished.
Remington, who survived the point-blank shooting in what one church member called a ''miracle,'' had appeared a day earlier with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) at an event hosted by his presidential campaign. That led to speculation that the shooting was politically motivated.
But Odom's manifesto suggests that the shooting, if he did it, was something else entirely: the act of an unraveling mind.
The 21-page manifesto, which authorities say Odom sent to his parents as well as several Idaho television stations, is a window into what he was thinking.
According to Coeur d'Alene police, Odom has a history of mental illness. In his manifesto, he outlined his path to Sunday's shooting in clear but increasingly paranoid prose.
He admitted to plotting to shoot Remington. He also claimed that the pastor was part of a vast alien conspiracy to enslave the human race '-- a conspiracy that Odom believed extended to Congress.
''My last resort was to take actions to bring this to the public's attention,'' Odom wrote in the manifesto. ''I hope that something good comes of it. Just realize that I'm a good person, and I'm completely innocent. Also realize that the 'people' I killed are not what you think.''
'Who is Kyle Odom?'
The manifesto opens with the question on the minds of many Americans: ''Who is Kyle Odom?''
''Born and raised in North Idaho,'' Odom wrote. ''Grew up in a loving family. Joined the Marine Corps after high school. Developed an interest in science. Went to school for a degree in Biochemistry. Won numerous scholarships and awards. Graduated Magna Cum Laude then got invited to prestigious university to work on genetics.
''Check my personal documents,'' Odom continued. ''As you can see, I'm pretty smart. I'm also 100% sane, 0% crazy.''
But the documents Odom sent to local media reveal an intense and dangerous paranoia, as well as an obsession over ''hypersexual,'' mind-controlling Martians.
''Everything started while I was at University of Idaho,'' Odom wrote. ''Spring 2014 was my final semester and was taking a heavy course load. I was very stressed due to the intensity of my schedule, so I searched for a way to cope. I discovered meditation, which seemed to help, so it became part of my daily routine. As I learned more about meditation, I became interested in consciousness and our ability to affect it. I kept working on my meditation techniques and began achieving extreme states of consciousness.''
One night in February 2014, Odom was meditating when he said he had an out-of-body experience.
''I entered a space that was completely dark and had no awareness of my physical boundaries/orientation,'' he wrote. ''I felt very peaceful there until a blue light began to approach me. As the blue light got closer, I realized that it was another being.''
When Odom awoke, he had tears in his eyes, according to his manifesto.
At first, the alleged alien encounter seemed like a blessing for Odom. ''The remainder of the semester became exceedingly easy for me,'' he wrote. ''It felt like I had tapped into some kind of power. I was exerting no mental effort even though the classes had been extremely difficult before.''
But Odom's close encounter would prove to be the beginning of his nightmare.
Odom accepted an offer from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, to work on a PhD in human genetics, but he quickly dropped out because the work was too easy, thanks to his alien awakening, he wrote.
''The day after I decided to leave, my life became a living hell,'' Odom wrote. He couldn't sleep. After a few days, aliens posing as classmates tried to provoke him to become ''the next school shooter,'' he wrote, so he left Texas and returned to his home town of Coeur d'Alene.
''This is where the story gets weird,'' he wrote. On a flight home after a job interview, Odom began to suspect that strangers were sending him secret messages. Newspaper headlines had hidden meanings.
''It was blatantly obvious they were doing something to me, but I didn't know what,'' he wrote. ''I had applied to several government agencies before this happened, so I thought this might be their way of contacting me.''
Back in Idaho, a friendly text message would put a beloved local pastor in Odom's path.
'Whoever I was dealing with was extraterrestrial'
In Coeur d'Alene, Odom received a text message from John Padula, the Altar Church's outreach pastor, inviting him to attend service, he wrote. When Odom first went to the church, though, ''something felt very wrong,'' he wrote. ''I felt as if my life were in danger and I became so uncomfortable I had to leave.''
Odom began receiving text messages from Remington, but he saw them as something more menacing.
''At first they were innocuous bible messages, but then he started threatening me,'' Odom wrote. ''He sent messages talking about 'their power' and other things. He did all of this through bible verses so it would not look suspicious.''
When Remington allegedly sent Odom a text reading ''angels,'' the Marine veteran saw helicopters flying around his house. ''At this point, I knew I was in trouble.''
Odom then began to experience strange sexual feelings '-- ''it felt like someone was manually pumping blood into my penis'' '-- and he heard suggestive songs inside his head, he wrote.
Soon the songs gave way to a voice telling him that he was going to be ''sacrificed like Jesus and get beheaded,'' he said. When a man knocked on his door with a religious pamphlet, Odom ''became completely delirious'' and ''thought for sure I was going to die.''
He bought a one-way ticket to see his family in Albuquerque, and he said he thought the man next to him on the flight was reading his mind. At the baggage claim, Odom believed he was ''surrounded'' by aliens, whom he could detect by their constant ''sniffing.''
''The sniff is something they do all the time,'' he wrote. ''I think it has to do with dominance.''
Odom thought he saw the aliens everywhere. They disguised themselves as humans but really looked like giant green frogs with proboscises on the top of their heads, he wrote.
''As time went on, they started coaxing me to go outside alone,'' he wrote. ''I was scared to death they would kill me, so I refused. Eventually, they threatened to harm my family, which caused me to give in to them. I told them I would do whatever they want if they left my family alone. They responded by saying 'Go to church.' I knew they meant The Altar, so I agreed to go when I got back.''
At The Altar, Odom smelled something like ''a reptile and vinegar,'' he wrote. ''I realized that whoever I was dealing with was extraterrestrial, so I became very scared.''
At times, Odom's manifesto appears to acknowledge that he is delusional. ''I began to hear voices more often and I began to hallucinate things that I knew weren't real,'' he wrote. But he blames the voices and visions not on his own mind but on telepathic aliens.
Part of his alien obsession appears to have been sexual.
''They also started playing with me sexually,'' he wrote of his Martian tormentors, who he labeled ''hypersexual.'' ''Both the males and the females would play out their sexual fantasies in my mind.''
Once, in a grocery bakery, Odom believed he was ''surrounded by a bunch of old men'' who were actually aliens.
''They started stimulating'' him and ordering him to perform sexual favors, he wrote.
Odom's tormenting visions caused him to attempt suicide twice, he said in his manifesto.
''I filled a charcoal grill with lit coals, put it in my car and rolled up the windows,'' he wrote. ''I reclined my seat, laid there calmly, then fell asleep.''
But the aliens didn't allow him to die, Odom wrote.
''They woke me up in an extreme panic, which caused me to get out of the car,'' he wrote.
According to his manifesto, Odom then checked himself into the local Veterans Affairs hospital. A VA spokesman was not available Tuesday night to confirm whether Odom received treatment at the center.
After leaving the hospital, Odom returned to the Altar Church, where he eventually found himself face to face with pastor Remington.
'My life was ruined'
It's unclear whether Odom actually met with Remington, who emerged from a coma Monday and has not spoken publicly of the shooting. In Odom's manifesto, however, the Marine veteran describes sitting down with the pastor sometime around August of last year.
''We were in mid conversation when he suddenly revealed himself to me,'' Odom wrote. ''I have no clue how he did it, but it looked as if his human face became his real face. '... His eyes '... were huge and bulging, the eyelids were darker green, and the irises were yellow/brown with slit pupils.''
Odom thought the church was going to turn him into a ''sex slave,'' he wrote, but when that didn't happen, he left and didn't return, allegedly until the shooting Sunday.
For a while, it appeared as if his nightmare might be ending. He returned to school, studying pharmacology at North Idaho College, he said.
''I began to recover,'' he wrote.
''Unfortunately, they followed me to school,'' he said of the aliens. ''There were several of them in every class I took. They made it impossible for me to study, and they continually harassed me especially while I took tests.''
Odom wrote that he was targeted because of his knowledge of genetics and because the aliens had a hard time controlling his mind.
''I was too smart for my own good, so they decided to remove me from society,'' he wrote. ''They were worried I might change the way other people think, which could lead to problems. Problems in the form of a scientific revolution.''
After trying to kill himself twice, Odom felt that his only option was to go after the aliens, he wrote.
''My life was ruined,'' he explained. ''Ruined by an intelligent species of amphibian-humanoid from Mars.''
The manifesto doesn't discuss why, exactly, Odom allegedly went after pastor Remington, only that Remington and Padula were supposedly aliens or the aliens' ''puppets.''
But the manifesto helps explain why Odom traveled to Washington after the shooting and tried to communicate with the president.
On Tuesday night, Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Lee White said that Odom drove from his home town to Boise, Idaho, where he boarded a flight to the nation's capital. White said it was not clear how Odom was allowed to travel, but he might have boarded before he was identified as a suspect.
The manifesto suggests that Odom traveled to Washington to deliver a message to Obama. Part of his letter is addressed to the president.
''I want to thank you for your sacrifice to this country,'' it begins, before suggesting that the president is controlled by aliens.
''They brag to me about what they do to you,'' Odom wrote. '''... I hope you stop letting them humiliate you. '... It's time someone took a stand to end this nonsense. Can you think of a better legacy than that?''
The manifesto also includes a list of ''noteworthy Martians.'' On the list are 50 members of Congress '-- belonging to both parties '-- as well as roughly three dozen members of the ''Israeli leadership,'' including ''every single Prime Minister since 1948.''
''This is by no means an all-inclusive list,'' Odom wrote. ''Martians are ubiquitous. They exist at every level of society in every nation. Some have blue collar jobs, while other occupy positions of power. They control our government, our military, and Corporate America as well. They keep track of every 'wild' human on the planet and manage us like animals in a zoo. Our 'freedom' is a carefully crafted illusion.''
It's unclear what Odom was trying to deliver to Obama when he was arrested Tuesday night, although it could have been flash drives with his manifesto on them, similar to those he sent to his parents and Idaho media.
White, the Coeur d'Alene police chief, said the manifesto had ''definitely played a part in raising our awareness and concern'' about Odom as a fugitive. He said that authorities were stumped about where Odom had gone until he emerged on social media Tuesday.
''Things are not what they appear to be. The world is ruled by [an] ancient civilization from Mars. Pastor Tim was one of them, and he was the reason my life was ruined,'' Odom wrote in a Facebook post, changing his profile photo to a picture of an alien. ''I will be sharing my story with as many people as possible. I don't have time right now, they are chasing me.
''I shot Pastor Tim 12 times,'' he said. ''There is no way any human could have survived that event. Anyway, I have sent my story to all the major news organizations. I have no time, I have to go.''
He was arrested a few hours later.
Michael E. Miller is a foreign affairs reporter for The Washington Post. He writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet him: @MikeMillerDC
VIDEO-Short? Overweight? Your size could make you poorer
Wed, 09 Mar 2016 15:41
Your size and shape could have an impact on your status and bank balance, according to a new study by the U.K.'s University of Exeter.
Using genetic data scientists have found that taller men and slimmer women earn more than those who are shorter and overweight. The study was aimed at finding out whether the way you look could influence your chances in life.
"We found that in men, you are worse off if you are a bit shorter, as measured by genetics. And in women we found that you are a bit worse off if you are fatter, as measured by genetics," Tim Frayling, a professor of human genetics at the university, said in a statement accompanying the paper.
VIDEO-Snowden: FBI claim that only Apple can unlock phone is ''bullshit''
Wed, 09 Mar 2016 15:35
Snowden further explained on Twitter: "The global technological consensus is against the FBI," he wrote '-- linking to a blog post on the American Civil Liberties Union website explaining exactly how the FBI could have bypassed the iPhone's auto-erase function on its own. That's "one example," he wrote.
Other technologists have explained how the FBI could have easily accessed the phone's latest iCloud backup if agents working with San Bernardino County had not reset the iCloud password. The county owns the phone used by Farook.
Even so, security researchers say there are other options, like "de-capping" the phone's memory chip to access it outside the phone (which Snowden has also mentioned), or resetting the phone's internal counter so that you can guess the passwords as many times as you want. Those techniques are hard and expensive and could destroy the phone, experts say '-- but have worked in the past.
VIDEO-Trump Hits a Wall Within the GOP; His Critics Back a Convention Fight (POLL) - ABC News
Wed, 09 Mar 2016 14:51
Donald Trump's facing a wall within his party, with Republicans who don't currently support him far more apt to prefer Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio in a two-way race -- or even to favor a contested convention to block Trump's nomination.
Trump continues to lead in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, with 34 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents who are registered to vote saying they'd like to see him win the nomination. But he trails both Cruz and Rubio one-on-one. And preferences for Cruz, Rubio and John Kasich have grown as others have left the race, while Trump's support has essentially remained unchanged for months.
See PDF with full results here.
In the current multi-candidate race, 25 percent say they'd like to see Cruz win the nomination, with 18 percent for Rubio and 13 percent for Kasich; those are +4, +7 and +11 points compared with January, respectively, to new highs for each. Trump, by contrast, peaked at 38 percent in December. (In a difference from previous matchups, this poll asked respondents whom they'd like to see win, rather than whom they'd vote for, since the primaries are underway.)
In hypothetical two-way matchups, Cruz leads Trump by 54-41 percent and Rubio leads Trump by 51-45 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. While the latter lead isn't statistically significant, both are further signs of the apparent limits to Trump's popularity within his party. Indeed, among non-Trump supporters, seven in 10 say they'd prefer Cruz, and as many say they'd pick Rubio, in head-to-head contests.
Two key groups help Cruz outperform Rubio mano-a-mano against Trump: strong conservatives and evangelical white Protestants. Cruz leads Trump by 60-34 percent among very conservative registered leaned Republicans and by 64-31 percent among evangelical white Protestants. Rubio's margins vs. Trump in those groups are a closer 56-41 percent and 55-42 percent, respectively.
Both Cruz and Rubio run up the score among those who value experience over being an outsider and who oppose Trump's signature issues, deporting undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country. They also benefit from vast margins among women, more than six in 10 of whom choose either Rubio or Cruz over Trump. Trump wins a smaller majority of men.
The national survey, conducted March 3-6, also finds less drama but still a closer-than-previous race on the Democratic side, where Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents who are registered to vote say by 49-42 percent that they'd like to see Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders -- the closest it's been in any ABC/Post poll this cycle, dramatically tighter than the peak 68-16 percent Clinton advantage in vote preferences in July.
It's the first time preference for Clinton has slipped below half of registered leaned Democrats in ABC/Post polls, as well as the first time Sanders has held a lead among men. Still, Clinton's 12-point advantage among mainline Democrats is keeping her boat afloat.
GOP ContestThere are more trouble signs for Trump in the Republican race: A tepid 52 percent of leaned Republicans see him favorably overall. Just 51 percent say they'd be satisfied with him as the nominee. And those who don't currently support Trump say by a broad 63-30 percent that if he lacks the majority it takes to win on the first ballot -- even if he has the most delegates -- they'd rather have the convention pick someone else.
Trump, as noted in the two-way results, has a particular problem with GOP women. His support from women is 20 points lower than from men, 24 vs. 44 percent. (The gender gap has fluctuated; it was similar in December, disappeared in January, and now is back in a big way.) Moreover, 60 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning women say they'd be dissatisfied with Trump as the nominee, including 45 percent ''very'' dissatisfied. Comparable numbers among GOP men are far lower ''- 35 percent would be dissatisfied with Trump, 20 percent very much so.
Other results also mark Trump's challenges as a front-runner under siege. He trails Cruz and Rubio alike in all four personal attributes tested in this survey. Fewer than half of leaned Republicans -'' from 42 to 45 percent ''- call Trump honest and trustworthy, say he understands their problems, think he has the right personality and temperament, or say he has the right experience to be president. Comparable numbers are 63 or 64 percent on each attribute for Cruz and 61 to 63 percent for Rubio on the first three items. He slips to 50 percent on experience.
Some of these have worsened for Trump: a 12-point drop among leaned Republicans since September in seeing him as honest and trustworthy and an 8-point drop in thinking he has the kind of personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively as president.
Trump, again, is especially weak on personal attributes among GOP women -'' off by 15 to 20 points compared with men. And just 41 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning women see him favorably overall, vs. 62 percent of men. Indeed, 40 percent of these women see Trump ''strongly'' unfavorably, compared with 24 percent of GOP men.
Additionally, just among mainline Republicans, ''strongly'' unfavorable views of Trump overall are up by 12 points since November. His overall favorability rating in the party is down by 17 points from a high of 69 percent in November, led by a 30-point drop among strong conservatives, from 82 percent favorable in November to 52 percent now.
Even with substantial support for a contested convention among leaned Republicans who don't support Trump, efforts by party elders to block him get a mixed reception. Among those who'd be less than very satisfied with Trump as the nominee, 43 percent support efforts by some GOP leaders to prevent his nomination; 51 percent are opposed. That said, support for a contested convention is an eye-opening result, clearly indicating the depths of divisions within the party.
Democratic ContestThe Democratic race resembles the GOP contest in one respect: a large gender gap. Clinton leads Sanders in preference to win the nomination by 55-34 percent among women, while it's Sanders over Clinton by 53-41 percent among men. Sanders has gained 16 points among men since January, and Clinton's lost 12; it's the first time in ABC/Post polls that he's led among men.
Among other groups, Sanders continues to draw strongly from younger adults, Clinton's lost 13 points since January among liberals, and -- as in primaries to date ''- the two are essentially even among whites, while Clinton leads by a substantial margin among nonwhites.
That said, while the two run evenly among Democratic-leaning independents, Clinton holds a 12-point advantage among mainline Democrats, 51-39 percent, a key reason she's prevailed in most primaries to date.
Clinton is rated particularly well for her personality and temperament and experience, with more than eight in 10 leaned Democrats rating these positively; 72 percent also say she understands their problems. Fewer, 58 percent, see Clinton as honest and trustworthy, but that's better than Trump within his party, and close (5 points shy) to Cruz and Rubio's in-party ratings.
Furthermore, either Democratic candidate is broadly acceptable within their party: 74 percent of leaned Democrats say they'd be satisfied with Clinton as the nominee, and 72 percent would be satisfied with Sanders. That compares with satisfaction figures on the Republican side of 51 percent for Trump, 56 percent for Kasich, 62 percent Rubio and 65 percent for Cruz.
Other results help flesh out these findings. Among them -- focused on the GOP race:
' Americans by 63-33 percent oppose temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country -- a cornerstone Trump proposal -- but that flips to 52-43 percent support among leaned Republicans. Preference for Trump is twice as high among supporters of this idea as compared with its critics.
' Similarly, the public by 61-36 percent opposes deporting undocumented immigrants, but this goes to 55-41 percent support among leaned Republicans, an even stronger source of Trump's support. He wins 46 percent of deportation supporters, vs. 18 percent of opponents.
' There's also some racial tension behind Trump's numbers -- he does notably well among leaned Republicans who feel that whites are ''losing out'' because of preferences for blacks and Hispanics, with 43 percent support in this group vs. 25 percent among those who feel otherwise. In a statistical analysis, this view is one of the strongest independent predictors of preference for Trump vs. his GOP competitors, along with ideology, gender, support for deportation, and support for banning Muslims.
' Fifty-five percent of leaned Republicans are looking for a political outsider -- again a boost for Trump. Among leaned Democrats, 82 percent instead put a priority on a candidate with political experience.
' Anger at the government is down, to 21 percent -- 11 points lower than in October 2013, when economic discontent was much higher, and its lowest since October 2010. Trump does best with angry voters; economic gains therefore may work against him.
' Americans by 69-29 percent see the current political system as ''dysfunctional'' -- similar to what we've seen previously, and a sense that peaks among leaned Republicans. As with anger, this is another strong factor in support for Trump: Among leaned Republicans who feel strongly that the current system is dysfunctional, Trump has 40 percent support; among all others, 23 percent.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone March 3-6, 2016, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,000 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect, for the full sample; 5.5 points for registered leaned Republicans; and 6.0 points for registered leaned Democrats. Partisan divisions are 34-25-32 percent, Democrats-Republicans-Independents.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, New York. See details on the survey's methodology here.
VIDEO-Anderson Cooper - Donald Drumpf - YouTube
Wed, 09 Mar 2016 14:48
VIDEO-DNC Chairwoman Struggles To Defend Hillary Clinton's Marine Story - YouTube
Wed, 09 Mar 2016 13:38
VIDEO-Bernie Sanders OK with Abortion in All Cases, All Times
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 20:26
VIDEO-Jennifer Granholm Blames Hillary Clinton's Trust Issues on Fox News, Right-Wing
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 20:24
VIDEO-Morning Joe Gets Super Defensive About Donald Trump's Frequent Appearances
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 20:23
VIDEO-Lanny Davis Has Tense Exchange with Fox Host over Hillary Clinton's Emails
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 20:22
VIDEO-You're A Mean One, Mr. Trump (Grinch Parody) - YouTube
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 17:00
VIDEO-Kraft Mac & Cheese Secretly Changed Its Recipe, and Is Proud Nobody Noticed | Adweek
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 16:41
If you were among the junk-food fans anxious that a more natural Kraft Macaroni & Cheese would be less tasty, lay your worries to rest: You might already have tasted it and not been the wiser.
In a ballsy, brilliant bit of marketing, Kraft hoodwinked millions of consumers into taste-tasting an updated version of its classic product. After announcing plans last year to remove artificial coloring and preservatives from its recipe, some worried that it would ruin a beloved (if questionably neon) meal. So Kraft rolled its upgraded version recipe out to shelves in December ... without telling anyone.
Three months later, a new campaign'--created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky and starring comedian Craig Kilborn'--celebrates the fact that Mac & Cheese lovers have gone on loving the product because they didn't even realize it had changed. (For reference, the new version contains spices like paprika, annatto and turmeric to replace dyes like yellow 5 and 6.)
The 45-second faux-epic TV spot breaks the news with a string of jokes about all the types of people'--and animals'--that missed the switch. The "sneaky moms" line in particular rings like a subtle allusion to a 2011 viral video featuring indignant kids who thought their mother had eaten all their Halloween candy'--a gag made famous by Jimmy Kimmel, who launched his late-night talk show back in 2003, shortly before Kilborn quit The Daily Show.
Some cracks are more obvious. The brand and its agency couldn't resist a dig at millennials, which is amusing but low-hanging fruit. Others are counterintuitively clever, even self-deprecating: Obviously the dogs didn't notice the difference between old and new Mac & Cheese; they're not exactly known for the nuance of their palates. And some are just funny'--like the guy who claimed he's working from home but isn't.
The tagline, "It's changed but it hasn't," works oddly well. It's the kind of obnoxious non-statement that should be avoided. On repeated listening, it gets even tougher to swallow'--grating, even. But given the iconic status of Kraft's golden goo, the brand is right to trade on familiarity while signaling that it's improved its product.
While "all-natural" labels (not exactly what Kraft is claiming here) are famously meaningless, the company's change followed consumer uprising about the artificial dyes in the meal, led by controversial food blogger Vani Hari, as well as the rise of "healthy" competitors like Annie's Homegrown, which chipped away at Kraft's market dominance. (Founded in 1989, Annie's launched its first national advertising campaign last fall. It was created by Fearless Unlimited, a new shop founded by CP+B namesake Alex Bogusky, the Kraft agency's former w¼nderkind).
Overall, Kraft's approach is a fresh and topical way to serve a message that boils down to a basic point: "Look how much people love our product." As for sales of the new version, an exec in the behind-the-scenes video below says the conglomerate has moved 50 million boxes in the relevant period'--"the same as always."
Complete with wide-eyed testimonials, this peek behind the curtain rounds out a campaign blitz that includes print and additional digital components, emphasizing that people "just didn't notice" the swap (including a tweet that claims "55,000 more people tweeted about squirrels" than the new recipe). That observation is consistent with independent (and anecdotal) taste tests conducted last June by the Huffington Post, which managed to get its hands on a box of the new stuff.
CREDITSClient: Kraft Macaroni & CheeseCampaign Title: It's Changed. But It Hasn't.Agency: CP+BChief Creative Officer: Ralph WatsonExecutive Creative Director: Adam ChasnowCreative Director: D'Arcy O'NeillArt Director: Tyler GonerkaWriter: Emily SalasDirector Of Video Production: Kate HildebrantIntegrated Producer: Jamie SladeProduction Company: Hungry Man, LADirector: Hank PerlmanDirector of Photography: Eric SteelbergLine Producer (Production Co): Caleb DewartExecutive Producer (Production Co): Mino Jarjoura, Nancy HacohenEditorial Company: The Now Corporation, NYEditor: Owen PlotkinAssistant Editor: Jessica DowlingEditorial Executive Producer: Nancy FinnPost Production Company: Art Jail, NYLead Compositors: Steve Mottershead, Ben VaccaroExecutive Producer: John SkeffingtonPost Producer: Adriana WongGraphics / Animation Company: Art Jail, NYMix Company: Lime Studios, LAAudio Engineer: Mark Meyerhaus, Peter LapinskiMusic Company: JSM Music, NYExecutive Music Producer: Joel SimonTelecine Company: Art Jail, NYColorist: Steve MottersheadAccount Director: Evan RussackAccount Director: Kelly OlechContent Manager: Ashley HuehnerfussGroup Director, Strategy: Kaylin GoldsteinBusiness Affairs: Katherine Graham-SmithTraffic Manager: Tito Texidor, Laura Crow, Katie Hare
VIDEO-Karen Bass: We need a true African-American on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas doesn't count - YouTube
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 16:14
VIDEO-State Dept clown Kirby gets humiliated by journalists on MH17 radar data - YouTube
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 16:04
VIDEO-Expert Reads Body Language Of Donald Trump And Other Candidates | TODAY - YouTube
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 18:28
VIDEO-Romney Delves Into Trump Attack: 'I Couldn't Stand Silent Anymore' - YouTube
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 17:03
VIDEO-CBS anchor amused at Hillary Clinton's spin over aide's immunity: 'You see this as good news? - YouTube
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 16:31
VIDEO-AUDIO-John McAfee lied about San Bernardio shooter's iPhone hack to 'get a s**tload of public attention'
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 16:28
John McAfee isn't telling you the truth'--but he says he's lying for a good cause.
McAfee has been on a media tour discussing a court order that directs Apple to write custom code to help the FBI access a terrorist's iPhone. The method McAfee says he would use to break open the phone, he admitted to the Daily Dot, is false.
McAfee, who founded of one of the first companies to offer antivirus software, claimed on CNN and Russia Today, as well as in a Business Insider column, that he could bypass the advanced encryption protecting the phone without Apple's help. But he lied in those interviews, he told the Daily Dot, to ''get a shitload of public attention.''
Further, the method McAfee says is real'--the one he says he's lying to try to hide'--is neither a secret nor feasible for anyone to accomplish without expensive tools and specialized skills. Even then, experts believe it would be difficult and would risk destroying the data the FBI is fighting so hard to access.
''Now, what I did not lie about was my ability to crack the iPhone. I can do it. It's a piece of friggin' cake.''
Apple has the ability to write custom software that would allow the FBI to brute force its way into San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone without triggering a self-destruct security feature. But it must do so by authorizing the specialized version of iOS with a signature Apple exclusively holds.
FBI Director James Comey said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday that his office had requested the help of the entire U.S. government but that he did not find a viable solution for breaking into the iPhone without demanding Apple's assistance.
McAfee said he bent the truth in order to push back against the official narrative.
''By doing so, I knew that I would get a shitload of public attention, which I did,'' McAfee said. ''That video, on my YouTube account, it has 700,000 views. My point is to bring to the American public the problem that the FBI is trying to [fool] the American public. How am I going to do that, by just going off and saying it? No one is going to listen to that crap.
''So I come up with something sensational,'' he continued. ''Now, what I did not lie about was my ability to crack the iPhone. I can do it. It's a piece of friggin' cake. You could probably do it.''
McAfee first admitted to lying in an interview with Inverse.The software company executive offered to tell the Daily Dot his secret method for cracking an encrypted iPhone, something that experts say cannot be done without Apple's authentic digital signature, but only if the Daily Dot promised to ''not publish this publicly or tell anybody else.''The Daily Dot declined to make such a promise in order to keep the entire conversation on the record.
Later in the interview, McAfee described his method, which involves ''decapping'' the phone's processor and acquiring the device's unique identifier (UID), that may allow someone to brute force the phone's password'--guess the password by flooding it with options'--at a faster rate. Despite his insistence that the Daily Dot not publish this technique, McAfee has explained the method in previous media interviews.
Some experts believe, however, that McAfee's theory doesn't make much sense. Ars Technica explained why:
Thus far, the most plausible method for decrypting the San Bernardino iPhone without Apple's assistance involves manually inspecting the handset's processor using acid and lasers. Done correctly, this would let the FBI learn not the PIN, but the device's unique hardware ID. With that ID, they could combine it with each of the PINs in turn until they hit upon the right one. The cost and complexity of this technique would be extremely high, and it would be extremely risky: one wrong move and the hardware ID would be destroyed permanently, making the phone's data permanently and irrevocably lost.
When asked why he was discussing this method on the record, McAfee said, ''Because I'm assuming, because you kept on asking, that you aren't going to publish it.''
When the Daily Dot pointed out that McAfee had never secured such a promise, he said that the conversation was over and hung up.
''The lie was an exaggeration of simplicity,'' McAfee said in a text message after the interview. ''As the Inverse article explained, it would have been impossible in the time allowed to explain the fullness of the truth. If you fault me for that, then you, and possibly your readers, will have been the only one on the planet to have done so.''
McAfee also said, ''I apologize for my anger.'' He added that it ''seemed absurd to me to focus on a simplification of a technique, given the stakes at risk'--a potentially Orwellian state initiated by the populace ignoring the truth of what the FBI is trying to do to us.''
Illustration via Max Fleishman
VIDEO-MSNBC Reporter Doesn't Know She's Live, Tips off Clinton Aide What She'll Ask Her - YouTube
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 15:59
VIDEO-Why are so many smart people such idiots about philosophy? - Quartz
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 15:34
There's no doubt that Bill Nye ''the Science Guy'' is extremely intelligent. But it seems that, when it comes to philosophy, he's completely in the dark. The beloved American science educator and TV personality posted a video last week where he responded to a question from a philosophy undergrad about whether philosophy is a ''meaningless topic.''
The video, which made the entire US philosophy community collectively choke on its morning espresso, is hard to watch, because most of Nye's statements are wrong. Not just kinda wrong, but deeply, ludicrously wrong. He merges together questions of consciousness and reality as though they're one and the same topic, and completely misconstrues Descartes' argument ''I think, therefore I am'''--to mention just two of many examples.
And Nye'--arguably America's favorite ''edutainer'''--is not the only popular scientist saying ''meh'' to the entire centuries-old discipline. Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has claimed philosophy is not ''a productive contributor to our understanding of the natural world''; while theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking declared that ''philosophy is dead.''
It's shocking that such brilliant scientists could be quite so ignorant, but unfortunately their views on philosophy are not uncommon. Unlike many other academic subjects (mathematics and history, for example), where non-experts have some vague sense of the field's practices, there seems to be widespread confusion about what philosophy entails.
In Nye's case, his misconceptions are too large and many to show why each and every one is flawed. But several of his comments in the video speak to broader confusions about philosophy. So let's clear up some of those:
''It often gets back to this question: What is the nature of consciousness?''Here is Nye's full quote, on what he sees as philosophy's main preoccupations:
''It often gets back to this question: What is the nature of consciousness? Can we know that we know? Are we aware that we're aware? Are we not aware that we're aware? Is reality real? Or is reality not real and we're all living on a ping pong ball that's part of a giant interplanetary ping pong game that we cannot sense? These are interesting questions.''
Nye's remarks, which conflate ideas from completely different areas of philosophy, are a caricature of the common misconception that philosophy is about asking pointlessly ''deep'' questions, plucking an answer out of thin air, and then drinking some pinot noir and writing a florid essay.
But ping pong inside, these actually are interesting questions'--and far from idle musing, the methods of analyzing such topics are incredibly, mind-achingly rigorous. Each of the questions Nye asks is the subject of extensive study, and philosophy, at its core, involves highly critical thinking.
Ned Hall, a professor and philosophy department chair at Harvard University, tells Quartz that a colleague describes philosophy as, ''Thinking in slow motion.'' It's certainly thinking that cannot be dismissed with a raised eyebrow, la Nye.
''The idea that reality is not real, that what you sense and feel is not authentic, is something I'm very skeptical of.''Nye's skepticism is an empty response to the question of whether we can trust our senses. ''If you drop a hammer on your foot, is it real?'' he asks. ''Or is it just your imagination?'' Then he goes on to suggest that the young philosophy student explore the question by dropping a hammer on his own foot. But such a painful experiment would not actually address the underlying question, and this approach'--simply mocking the argument rather than addressing it'--is so infamous that, as CUNY philosophy professor Kaikhosrov Irani points out on his blog, it has its own name: argumentum ad lapidem'--''appeal to a stone.''
Nye's confidence that what we sense and feel is ''authentic'' is particularly strange coming from a scientist, given that several advanced scientific discoveries do in fact contradict information we receive from our senses. Einstein discovered that there's no such thing as absolute simultaneity, for example, while quantum physics shows that an object can be in two places at the same time. Several philosophers have long argued that our senses are not a reliable means of evaluating reality, and such scientific discoveries support the idea that we should treat sensory information with a little skepticism.
''Philosophy is important for a while'.... But you can start arguing in a circle.''Philosophy is important for more than just a while, and has serious, practical uses for all of society. There are countless examples of philosophy of mind theories' relevance to neuroscientists, or cases where political philosophers have shaped politicians.
Historically, physics and mathematics have often overlapped with philosophy, and many great scientists engaged with philosophers to advance their own thinking. (Einstein's work can be studied alongside that of Kant, for example.) The physicist behind the theory of relativity was also a philosopher of science and, as Hall points out, Einstein reconfigured our concepts of space and time'--itself a philosophical undertaking.
Philosophers also address the assumptions that underly science. ''There's a huge element in science of relying on our capacity to reason,'' says Hall. ''The way that capacity gets deployed in scientific inquiry often involves unstated but fairly substantial assumptions about the simplicity and elegance of the natural world. Philosophers bring to the table an awareness of how rich the set of assumptions are.''
So, for example, in the video Nye mockingly expresses his confidence that the sun will come up tomorrow. Philosophers are confident of this too, but few feel certain that they can explain exactly what causes this daily phenomenon'--or any event. The 18th century philosopher David Hume's argument that we don't have a reasonable understanding of causation at all, but only presume cause and effect when two things have been observed as conjoined in the past, is notoriously difficult to refute. The problem underlies much of physics and is hardly insignificant.
And then there's the development of formal logic, which was devised by philosophers a little over 100 years ago and is the foundation of coding and computer science'--in other words, the grounding for all modern technology.
''It doesn't always give an answer that's surprising.''Anyone who believes this clearly hasn't spent much time studying philosophy. Any far-out, mind-bending, LSD-induced epiphany that's ever been had has already been ripped apart and taken even further in sober-looking philosophy books. This is a field where prominent figures have argued that God is constantly creating the entire world in every moment, and that failing to donate any superfluous wealth is morally equivalent to walking past a drowning child.
''Keep in mind, humans made up philosophy too.''Here, Nye suggests philosophy is irrelevant because we're incapable, as fallible beings, of uncovering the absolute truth. ''You're a human seeking the truth,'' he says, ''so there are going to be limits.''
Far from a rebuttal of philosophy, this is a component of the field. Many great thinkers recognize this limit on our search for meaning and have written a range of complex papers on the subject, its implications, and the sort of truth that can be uncovered within the constraints of humans' tiny minds. Ludwig Wittgenstein, for example, might interest those who share Nye's skepticism.
Philosophy is not for everyone, and many are perfectly happy to live their lives without trying to figure out what, exactly, Heidegger is saying. But for Nye to talk so condescendingly about the ''cool questions'' in philosophy suggests that he doesn't know enough to dismiss it. Because philosophy is in fact incredibly useful for anyone interested in language, knowledge, morality'--and science. And yeah, it is pretty cool.
VIDEO-Bernie Sanders Comment About White People - YouTube
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 14:55
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Mon, 07 Mar 2016 14:22
VIDEO-MH370 Search Will End This Summer: ATSB Chief Investigator - NBC News
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 14:06
ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan remains optimistic about finding MH370. Rod McGuirk / AP
He said the governments involved in the search '-- Malaysia, China and Australia '-- "don't have the appetite" to widen the search area, having already spent almost $100 million mapping and scanning the ocean floor.
But new discoveries of possible wreckage '-- one last week in Mozambique and
another reported Sunday on Reunion Island '-- had raised optimism that they are looking in the right place, Dolan added.In particular, the possible Boeing 777 part found in Mozambique by American lawyer Blaine Alan Gibson is of interest to the ATSB, Dolan said. Laboratory experiments would help them decide if the object a piece of wreckage, and what clues it could give them about the location of MH370, which vanished on March 8, 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board.
"For a start you can take a look at how it floats in the ocean because all the models about how things drift in the ocean have three dimensions: currents, waves and wind," he said. "If you know how much of it is sticking above the surface, then how you factor for wind and wave changes. So then you can refine your model for drift based on that and that's the thing we'll be doing with the debris that is coming to Australia."
MH370 Families Mark Anniversary With Concert in MalaysiaThe
Reunion Island object is still in the hands of the beachcomber who found it, a police spokesman told NBC News.Commandant Claude Grocholski said no official investigation has been launched into the 8- by 15-inch metal object, which was found by Johnny Begue '-- the same man who last July found the only confirmed piece of MH370 wreckage. He added that the object had not been turned over to authorities.
Meanwhile, relatives of a dozen passengers filed a lawsuit in Beijing against Malaysia Airlines, Boeing and engine-maker Rolls-Royce. Tuesday's anniversary is also the deadline for applications for litigation under international law.
Wen Wancheng, whose 34 year-old son Wen Yongsheng was aboard MH370, said that the companies had not provided due service to the relatives and that the information shared had been insufficient.
The group's lawyer, Beijing-based attorney Zhang Qihuai, said that the ultimate goal of the lawsuit was "to find out the cause of the accident and those who are responsible."
Dolan insisted he was optimistic about finding the wreckage before July.
"I occasionally wake at night and consider whether we have done everything possible, whether we have done things correctly and then the next day I normally go and talk to various experts to just check on things," Dolan said. "We are confident we have done the best possible analysis and that we are running the search the best possible way, which is why I still remain confident of success."
VIDEO-FLAT EARTH Clues Part 7 - Long Haul (subtitles in any language) - YouTube
Mon, 07 Mar 2016 01:06