923: Terror Put

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 9m
April 23rd, 2017
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Executive Producers: Baronet Todd Brink Sir Macaronis Au Fromage, Sir Lennart, Cory Watilo, Baron Sir Baz von Bateau

Associate Executive Producers: Joar Edenfelt, Rob Wales

Cover Artist: SoonerSlave

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SCIENCE!
Unreliable research: Trouble at the lab | The Economist
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:16
''I SEE a train wreck looming,'' warned Daniel Kahneman, an eminent psychologist, in an open letter last year. The premonition concerned research on a phenomenon known as ''priming''. Priming studies suggest that decisions can be influenced by apparently irrelevant actions or events that took place just before the cusp of choice. They have been a boom area in psychology over the past decade, and some of their insights have already made it out of the lab and into the toolkits of policy wonks keen on ''nudging'' the populace.
Dr Kahneman and a growing number of his colleagues fear that a lot of this priming research is poorly founded. Over the past few years various researchers have made systematic attempts to replicate some of the more widely cited priming experiments. Many of these replications have failed. In April, for instance, a paper in PLoS ONE, a journal, reported that nine separate experiments had not managed to reproduce the results of a famous study from 1998 purporting to show that thinking about a professor before taking an intelligence test leads to a higher score than imagining a football hooligan.
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The idea that the same experiments always get the same results, no matter who performs them, is one of the cornerstones of science's claim to objective truth. If a systematic campaign of replication does not lead to the same results, then either the original research is flawed (as the replicators claim) or the replications are (as many of the original researchers on priming contend). Either way, something is awry.
To err is all too common
It is tempting to see the priming fracas as an isolated case in an area of science'--psychology'--easily marginalised as soft and wayward. But irreproducibility is much more widespread. A few years ago scientists at Amgen, an American drug company, tried to replicate 53 studies that they considered landmarks in the basic science of cancer, often co-operating closely with the original researchers to ensure that their experimental technique matched the one used first time round. According to a piece they wrote last year in Nature, a leading scientific journal, they were able to reproduce the original results in just six. Months earlier Florian Prinz and his colleagues at Bayer HealthCare, a German pharmaceutical giant, reported in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, a sister journal, that they had successfully reproduced the published results in just a quarter of 67 seminal studies.
The governments of the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, spent $59 billion on biomedical research in 2012, nearly double the figure in 2000. One of the justifications for this is that basic-science results provided by governments form the basis for private drug-development work. If companies cannot rely on academic research, that reasoning breaks down. When an official at America's National Institutes of Health (NIH) reckons, despairingly, that researchers would find it hard to reproduce at least three-quarters of all published biomedical findings, the public part of the process seems to have failed.
Academic scientists readily acknowledge that they often get things wrong. But they also hold fast to the idea that these errors get corrected over time as other scientists try to take the work further. Evidence that many more dodgy results are published than are subsequently corrected or withdrawn calls that much-vaunted capacity for self-correction into question. There are errors in a lot more of the scientific papers being published, written about and acted on than anyone would normally suppose, or like to think.
Various factors contribute to the problem. Statistical mistakes are widespread. The peer reviewers who evaluate papers before journals commit to publishing them are much worse at spotting mistakes than they or others appreciate. Professional pressure, competition and ambition push scientists to publish more quickly than would be wise. A career structure which lays great stress on publishing copious papers exacerbates all these problems. ''There is no cost to getting things wrong,'' says Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia who has taken an interest in his discipline's persistent errors. ''The cost is not getting them published.''
First, the statistics, which if perhaps off-putting are quite crucial. Scientists divide errors into two classes. A type I error is the mistake of thinking something is true when it is not (also known as a ''false positive''). A type II error is thinking something is not true when in fact it is (a ''false negative''). When testing a specific hypothesis, scientists run statistical checks to work out how likely it would be for data which seem to support the idea to have come about simply by chance. If the likelihood of such a false-positive conclusion is less than 5%, they deem the evidence that the hypothesis is true ''statistically significant''. They are thus accepting that one result in 20 will be falsely positive'--but one in 20 seems a satisfactorily low rate.
Understanding insignificance
In 2005 John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist from Stanford University, caused a stir with a paper showing why, as a matter of statistical logic, the idea that only one such paper in 20 gives a false-positive result was hugely optimistic. Instead, he argued, ''most published research findings are probably false.'' As he told the quadrennial International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication, held this September in Chicago, the problem has not gone away.
Dr Ioannidis draws his stark conclusion on the basis that the customary approach to statistical significance ignores three things: the ''statistical power'' of the study (a measure of its ability to avoid type II errors, false negatives in which a real signal is missed in the noise); the unlikeliness of the hypothesis being tested; and the pervasive bias favouring the publication of claims to have found something new.
A statistically powerful study is one able to pick things up even when their effects on the data are small. In general bigger studies'--those which run the experiment more times, recruit more patients for the trial, or whatever'--are more powerful. A power of 0.8 means that of ten true hypotheses tested, only two will be ruled out because their effects are not picked up in the data; this is widely accepted as powerful enough for most purposes. But this benchmark is not always met, not least because big studies are more expensive. A study in April by Dr Ioannidis and colleagues found that in neuroscience the typical statistical power is a dismal 0.21; writing in Perspectives on Psychological Science, Marjan Bakker of the University of Amsterdam and colleagues reckon that in that field the average power is 0.35.
Unlikeliness is a measure of how surprising the result might be. By and large, scientists want surprising results, and so they test hypotheses that are normally pretty unlikely and often very unlikely. Dr Ioannidis argues that in his field, epidemiology, you might expect one in ten hypotheses to be true. In exploratory disciplines like genomics, which rely on combing through vast troves of data about genes and proteins for interesting relationships, you might expect just one in a thousand to prove correct.
With this in mind, consider 1,000 hypotheses being tested of which just 100 are true (see chart). Studies with a power of 0.8 will find 80 of them, missing 20 because of false negatives. Of the 900 hypotheses that are wrong, 5%'--that is, 45 of them'--will look right because of type I errors. Add the false positives to the 80 true positives and you have 125 positive results, fully a third of which are specious. If you dropped the statistical power from 0.8 to 0.4, which would seem realistic for many fields, you would still have 45 false positives but only 40 true positives. More than half your positive results would be wrong.
Click here to watch an animation of this diagramThe negative results are much more trustworthy; for the case where the power is 0.8 there are 875 negative results of which only 20 are false, giving an accuracy of over 97%. But researchers and the journals in which they publish are not very interested in negative results. They prefer to accentuate the positive, and thus the error-prone. Negative results account for just 10-30% of published scientific literature, depending on the discipline. This bias may be growing. A study of 4,600 papers from across the sciences conducted by Daniele Fanelli of the University of Edinburgh found that the proportion of negative results dropped from 30% to 14% between 1990 and 2007. Lesley Yellowlees, president of Britain's Royal Society of Chemistry, has published more than 100 papers. She remembers only one that reported a negative result.
Statisticians have ways to deal with such problems. But most scientists are not statisticians. Victoria Stodden, a statistician at Columbia, speaks for many in her trade when she says that scientists' grasp of statistics has not kept pace with the development of complex mathematical techniques for crunching data. Some scientists use inappropriate techniques because those are the ones they feel comfortable with; others latch on to new ones without understanding their subtleties. Some just rely on the methods built into their software, even if they don't understand them.
Not even wrong
This fits with another line of evidence suggesting that a lot of scientific research is poorly thought through, or executed, or both. The peer-reviewers at a journal like Nature provide editors with opinions on a paper's novelty and significance as well as its shortcomings. But some new journals'--PLoS One, published by the not-for-profit Public Library of Science, was the pioneer'--make a point of being less picky. These ''minimal-threshold'' journals, which are online-only, seek to publish as much science as possible, rather than to pick out the best. They thus ask their peer reviewers only if a paper is methodologically sound. Remarkably, almost half the submissions to PLoS One are rejected for failing to clear that seemingly low bar.
The pitfalls Dr Stodden points to get deeper as research increasingly involves sifting through untold quantities of data. Take subatomic physics, where data are churned out by the petabyte. It uses notoriously exacting methodological standards, setting an acceptable false-positive rate of one in 3.5m (known as the five-sigma standard). But maximising a single figure of merit, such as statistical significance, is never enough: witness the ''pentaquark'' saga. Quarks are normally seen only two or three at a time, but in the mid-2000s various labs found evidence of bizarre five-quark composites. The analyses met the five-sigma test. But the data were not ''blinded'' properly; the analysts knew a lot about where the numbers were coming from. When an experiment is not blinded, the chances that the experimenters will see what they ''should'' see rise. This is why people analysing clinical-trials data should be blinded to whether data come from the ''study group'' or the control group. When looked for with proper blinding, the previously ubiquitous pentaquarks disappeared.
Other data-heavy disciplines face similar challenges. Models which can be ''tuned'' in many different ways give researchers more scope to perceive a pattern where none exists. According to some estimates, three-quarters of published scientific papers in the field of machine learning are bunk because of this ''overfitting'', says Sandy Pentland, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Similar problems undid a 2010 study published in Science, a prestigious American journal (and reported in this newspaper). The paper seemed to uncover genetic variants strongly associated with longevity. Other geneticists immediately noticed that the samples taken from centenarians on which the results rested had been treated in different ways from those from a younger control group. The paper was retracted a year later, after its authors admitted to ''technical errors'' and ''an inadequate quality-control protocol''.
The number of retractions has grown tenfold over the past decade. But they still make up no more than 0.2% of the 1.4m papers published annually in scholarly journals. Papers with fundamental flaws often live on. Some may develop a bad reputation among those in the know, who will warn colleagues. But to outsiders they will appear part of the scientific canon.
Blame the ref
The idea that there are a lot of uncorrected flaws in published studies may seem hard to square with the fact that almost all of them will have been through peer-review. This sort of scrutiny by disinterested experts'--acting out of a sense of professional obligation, rather than for pay'--is often said to make the scientific literature particularly reliable. In practice it is poor at detecting many types of error.
John Bohannon, a biologist at Harvard, recently submitted a pseudonymous paper on the effects of a chemical derived from lichen on cancer cells to 304 journals describing themselves as using peer review. An unusual move; but it was an unusual paper, concocted wholesale and stuffed with clangers in study design, analysis and interpretation of results. Receiving this dog's dinner from a fictitious researcher at a made up university, 157 of the journals accepted it for publication.
Dr Bohannon's sting was directed at the lower tier of academic journals. But in a classic 1998 study Fiona Godlee, editor of the prestigious British Medical Journal, sent an article containing eight deliberate mistakes in study design, analysis and interpretation to more than 200 of the BMJ's regular reviewers. Not one picked out all the mistakes. On average, they reported fewer than two; some did not spot any.
Another experiment at the BMJ showed that reviewers did no better when more clearly instructed on the problems they might encounter. They also seem to get worse with experience. Charles McCulloch and Michael Callaham, of the University of California, San Francisco, looked at how 1,500 referees were rated by editors at leading journals over a 14-year period and found that 92% showed a slow but steady drop in their scores.
As well as not spotting things they ought to spot, there is a lot that peer reviewers do not even try to check. They do not typically re-analyse the data presented from scratch, contenting themselves with a sense that the authors' analysis is properly conceived. And they cannot be expected to spot deliberate falsifications if they are carried out with a modicum of subtlety.
Fraud is very likely second to incompetence in generating erroneous results, though it is hard to tell for certain. Dr Fanelli has looked at 21 different surveys of academics (mostly in the biomedical sciences but also in civil engineering, chemistry and economics) carried out between 1987 and 2008. Only 2% of respondents admitted falsifying or fabricating data, but 28% of respondents claimed to know of colleagues who engaged in questionable research practices.
Peer review's multiple failings would matter less if science's self-correction mechanism'--replication'--was in working order. Sometimes replications make a difference and even hit the headlines'--as in the case of Thomas Herndon, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts. He tried to replicate results on growth and austerity by two economists, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, and found that their paper contained various errors, including one in the use of a spreadsheet.
Harder to clone than you would wish
Such headlines are rare, though, because replication is hard and thankless. Journals, thirsty for novelty, show little interest in it; though minimum-threshold journals could change this, they have yet to do so in a big way. Most academic researchers would rather spend time on work that is more likely to enhance their careers. This is especially true of junior researchers, who are aware that overzealous replication can be seen as an implicit challenge to authority. Often, only people with an axe to grind pursue replications with vigour'--a state of affairs which makes people wary of having their work replicated.
There are ways, too, to make replication difficult. Reproducing research done by others often requires access to their original methods and data. A study published last month in PeerJ by Melissa Haendel, of the Oregon Health and Science University, and colleagues found that more than half of 238 biomedical papers published in 84 journals failed to identify all the resources (such as chemical reagents) necessary to reproduce the results. On data, Christine Laine, the editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine, told the peer-review congress in Chicago that five years ago about 60% of researchers said they would share their raw data if asked; now just 45% do. Journals' growing insistence that at least some raw data be made available seems to count for little: a recent review by Dr Ioannidis which showed that only 143 of 351 randomly selected papers published in the world's 50 leading journals and covered by some data-sharing policy actually complied.
And then there are the data behind unpublished research. A study in the BMJ last year found that fewer than half the clinical trials financed by the NIH resulted in publication in a scholarly journal within 30 months of completion; a third remained unpublished after 51 months. Only 22% of trials released their summary results within one year of completion, even though the NIH requires that they should.
Clinical trials are very costly to rerun. Other people looking at the same problems thus need to be able to access their data. And that means all the data. Focusing on a subset of the data can, wittingly or unwittingly, provide researchers with the answer they want. Ben Goldacre, a British doctor and writer, has been leading a campaign to bring pharmaceutical firms to book for failing to make available all the data from their trials. It may be working. In February GlaxoSmithKline, a British drugmaker, became the first big pharma company to promise to publish all its trial data.
Software can also be a problem for would-be replicators. Some code used to analyse data or run models may be the result of years of work and thus precious intellectual property that gives its possessors an edge in future research. Although most scientists agree in principle that data should be openly available, there is genuine disagreement on software. Journals which insist on data-sharing tend not to do the same for programs.
Harry Collins, a sociologist of science at Cardiff University, makes a more subtle point that cuts to the heart of what a replication can be. Even when the part of the paper devoted to describing the methods used is up to snuff (and often it is not), performing an experiment always entails what sociologists call ''tacit knowledge'''--craft skills and extemporisations that their possessors take for granted but can pass on only through example. Thus if a replication fails, it could be because the repeaters didn't quite get these je-ne-sais-quoi bits of the protocol right.
Taken to extremes, this leads to what Dr Collins calls ''the experimenter's regress'''--you can say an experiment has truly been replicated only if the replication gets the same result as the original, a conclusion which makes replication pointless. Avoiding this, and agreeing that a replication counts as ''the same procedure'' even when it gets a different result, requires recognising the role of tacit knowledge and judgment in experiments. Scientists are not comfortable discussing such things at the best of times; in adversarial contexts it gets yet more vexed.
Some organisations are trying to encourage more replication. PLoS ONE and Science Exchange, a matchmaking service for researchers and labs, have launched a programme called the Reproducibility Initiative through which life scientists can pay to have their work validated by an independent lab. On October 16th the initiative announced it had been given $1.3m by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, a charity, to look at 50 of the highest-impact cancer findings published between 2010 and 2012. Blog Syn, a website run by graduate students, is dedicated to reproducing chemical reactions reported in papers. The first reaction they tried to repeat worked'--but only at a much lower yield than was suggested in the original research.
Making the paymasters care
Conscious that it and other journals ''fail to exert sufficient scrutiny over the results that they publish'' in the life sciences, Nature and its sister publications introduced an 18-point checklist for authors this May. The aim is to ensure that all technical and statistical information that is crucial to an experiment's reproducibility or that might introduce bias is published. The methods sections of papers are being expanded online to cope with the extra detail; and whereas previously only some classes of data had to be deposited online, now all must be.
Things appear to be moving fastest in psychology. In March Dr Nosek unveiled the Centre for Open Science, a new independent laboratory, endowed with $5.3m from the Arnold Foundation, which aims to make replication respectable. Thanks to Alan Kraut, the director of the Association for Psychological Science, Perspectives on Psychological Science, one of the association's flagship publications, will soon have a section devoted to replications. It might be a venue for papers from a project, spearheaded by Dr Nosek, to replicate 100 studies across the whole of psychology that were published in the first three months of 2008 in three leading psychology journals.
People who pay for science, though, do not seem seized by a desire for improvement in this area. Helga Nowotny, president of the European Research Council, says proposals for replication studies ''in all likelihood would be turned down'' because of the agency's focus on pioneering work. James Ulvestad, who heads the division of astronomical sciences at America's National Science Foundation, says the independent ''merit panels'' that make grant decisions ''tend not to put research that seeks to reproduce previous results at or near the top of their priority lists''. Douglas Kell of Research Councils UK, which oversees Britain's publicly funded research argues that current procedures do at least tackle the problem of bias towards positive results: ''If you do the experiment and find nothing, the grant will nonetheless be judged more highly if you publish.''
In testimony before Congress on March 5th Bruce Alberts, then the editor of Science, outlined what needs to be done to bolster the credibility of the scientific enterprise. Journals must do more to enforce standards. Checklists such as the one introduced by Nature should be adopted widely, to help guard against the most common research errors. Budding scientists must be taught technical skills, including statistics, and must be imbued with scepticism towards their own results and those of others. Researchers ought to be judged on the basis of the quality, not the quantity, of their work. Funding agencies should encourage replications and lower the barriers to reporting serious efforts which failed to reproduce a published result. Information about such failures ought to be attached to the original publications.
And scientists themselves, Dr Alberts insisted, ''need to develop a value system where simply moving on from one's mistakes without publicly acknowledging them severely damages, rather than protects, a scientific reputation.'' This will not be easy. But if science is to stay on its tracks, and be worthy of the trust so widely invested in it, it may be necessary.
Agenda 2030
U.S. Constitution - Article 1 Section 8 - The U.S. Constitution Online - USConstitution.net
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 17:59
Article 1 - The Legislative BranchSection 8 - Powers of Congress
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Notes for this section:
Citizenship
The Draft
FAQ: What can't Congress do?
FAQ: Why was the power to coin money given to the Federal Government?
FAQ: Who can declare war?
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O'Reilly
Bill O'Reilly returns with new podcast Monday
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 12:37
In this April 6, 2016, file photo, Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter's "35 Most Powerful People in Media" celebration in New York. (Photo: Andy Kropa, AP)
Bill O'Reilly is coming back.
The former Fox News host is set to appear Monday with a new episode of his "No Spin News" podcast. The news was revealed in an update to O'Reilly's personal website Saturday night.
The podcast, available to premium subscribers of O'Reilly's website, would be the former cable news host's first time speaking publicly since his ouster at Fox News Wednesday following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. O'Reilly was previously the host of The O'Reilly Factor on the network, anchoring a steady ratings winner for the network for over two decades.
Fox News took The Factor off the air Friday night, with Greg Gutfeld filling in for the final broadcast.
Read more:
Foes applaud Bill O'Reilly's ouster from Fox News
With O'Reilly making a 'Killing,' publisher backs its star
Bill O'Reilly greeted by pope hours before Fox News announces ouster
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/2p8twYO
Kirsten Powers - Wikipedia
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 14:13
Kirsten A. Powers is an American political pundit. She began her career as a Democratic Party staff assistant with the Clinton-Gore presidential transition team in 1992, followed by an appointment as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Public Affairs in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1998. She subsequently worked in various roles, including press secretary, communications consultant and party consultant.[1] She also serves as a columnist to USA Today, Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and was a contributor on Fox News.[2] She joined CNN officially as a commentator on August 22, 2016.
Powers wrote a column for The American Prospect[3] and her numerous articles have appeared in USA Today, Elle, the New York Observer, Salon, and the Wall Street Journal. In 2005 journalist Ben Smith wrote that Powers was "emerging as one of the Democratic Party's national voices."[1]
Contents
Early life and education Edit Powers briefly dated former CongressmanAnthony Weiner in 2002, and remained his close friend after their romantic relationship ended. After initially defending him when the story of Weiner's sexting scandal surfaced in May 2011, Powers later condemned his conduct and called for his resignation from Congress.[21]
Powers married Marty Makary, Professor of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, in January 2010; the couple divorced in 2013.
Powers was raised as an Episcopalian but spent much of her early adult life as an atheist. In her mid-30s, she became an evangelical Christian. The process of conversion began when she dated a religious Christian man, who introduced her to the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and the teachings of its pastor, Tim Keller, and culminated in an experience in 2006 when, during a trip to Taiwan, she believes that she had an epiphany of Jesus Christ.[5] She has called her conversion "a bit of a mind bender" due to her political beliefs and former atheism, and prefers the term "orthodox Christian" over "evangelical" to describe herself, given the cultural baggage around the latter term.[22] She has said that the biggest impact her new-found faith had on her political beliefs was that she came to "view everyone as God's child and that God offers the gift of salvation."[4][15] On October 10, 2015, Powers was received into the Catholic Church.[23][24]
On November 16, 2016, Powers announced her engagement to fellow journalist Robert Draper.[25][26]
^ abc Smith, Ben (December 15, 2003). "Power Punk: Jen Bluestein and Kirsten Powers". The New York Observer. Retrieved April 14, 2014 . ^ abc "Kirsten Powers"(On-Air Personalities) . Fox News Channel. Retrieved May 8, 2014 . ^ Powers, Kirsten (September 26, 2006). "Who Should Apologize?". The American Prospect. Retrieved May 8, 2014 . ^ abc Lewis, Matt Lewis (August 16, 2010). "Q & A with Kirsten Powers of Fox News". Politics Daily. ^ ab Powers, Kirsten (October 22, 2013). "Fox News' Highly Reluctant Jesus Follower". Christianity Today. ^ Powers, Kirsten (April 12, 2012). "Hilary Rosen Feud: Give Ann Romney a Break!". The Daily Beast. ^ Powers, Kirsten (December 14, 2009). "Why Cost Shouldn't Stop Health-care Reform". New York Post. ^ Noel Sheppard, Kirsten Powers: 'No Explanation For Doubling My Premiums Other Than Subsidizing Other People', News Busters, November 13, 2013 ^ Kirsten Powers: I'm Tired Of "Having To Defend This President" and Obamacare, Real Clear Politics video, February 11, 2014. ^ Powers, Kirsten (June 11, 2009). "A Prejudice America Can't Afford". New York Post. ^ Powers, Kirsten (July 8, 2008). "The Gop Gay-Marriage Con". New York Post. ^ Powers, Kirsten (July 8, 2008). "THE GOP GAY-MARRIAGE CON". New York Post. Retrieved September 26, 2016 . ^ Powers, Kirsten (July 2, 2007). "Muzzle Mania". New York Post. ^ Powers, Kirsten (June 28, 2006). "Burn, Baby, Burn". The American Prospect. ...collective sigh of relief of flag burners across the country'...all ten of them. ^ ab Merritt, Jonathan (April 10, 2013). "Fox News' evangelical Democrat: An interview with Kirsten Powers"(On Faith & Culture) . RNS - Religious News Service. Retrieved May 8, 2014 . ^ Powers, Kirsten (May 21, 2009). "Dems Go All Nimby On Gitmo". New York Post. ^ Powers, Kirsten (December 1, 2003). "Keep talking, Democrats". USA Today. ^ Powers, Kirsten (February 3, 2011). "America's Naivete About Egypt". The Daily Beast. ^ Powers, Kirsten (March 29, 2005). "Justice Shall Be Executed". The American Prospect. ^ Powers, Kirsten (July 2, 2013). "I Don't Stand With Wendy Davis". The Daily Beast. ^ Powers, Kirsten (June 8, 2011). "Anthony Weiner's Ex: He Lied to Me". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 27, 2012 . ^ Let's Get To Know Fox's Liberal Pundit Kirsten Powers: 'I'm an Orthodox Christian', Laura Donovan, The Jane Dough, May 25, 2012 Archived June 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. ^ https://twitter.com/FoxNews/status/652604915408314368 ^ Christianity Today: "Pope Francis' Latest Convert: Kirsten Powers - Fox News commentator announces that she's becoming Catholic" by Bob Smietana October 9, 2015 ^ https://www.instagram.com/p/BM5XgrSDTri/ ^ https://twitter.com/KirstenPowers/status/799095803159740416
Terror Puts and Calls
Dortmund Bomb Suspect Attacked Soccer Team to Make $1 Million From Stock Drop - WSJ
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 04:55
BERLIN'--A Russian-German man allegedly bombed one of Germany's most prominent soccer teams in order to make more than $1 million off a drop in the team's stock price, officials said Friday.
The 28-year-old suspect, identified as Sergej M., took out a loan on April 3 worth tens of thousands of dollars in order to finance a bet on a fall in soccer team Borussia Dortmund's stock price, officials said. The bet included the purchase of...
Hate Trumps Love
Comey Tried to Shield the F.B.I. From Politics. Then He Shaped an Election. - NYTimes.com
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 07:29
WASHINGTON '-- The day before he upended the 2016 election, James B. Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, summoned agents and lawyers to his conference room. They had been debating all day, and it was time for a decision.
Mr. Comey's plan was to tell Congress that the F.B.I. had received new evidence and was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton, the presidential front-runner. The move would violate the policies of an agency that does not reveal its investigations or do anything that may influence an election. But Mr. Comey had declared the case closed, and he believed he was obligated to tell Congress that had changed.
''Should you consider what you're about to do may help elect Donald Trump president?'' an adviser asked him, Mr. Comey recalled recently at a closed meeting with F.B.I. agents.
The Run-UpThe podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign. He could not let politics affect his decision, he replied. ''If we ever start considering who might be affected, and in what way, by what we do, we're done,'' he told the agents.
But with polls showing Mrs. Clinton holding a comfortable lead, Mr. Comey ended up plunging the F.B.I. into the molten center of a bitter election. Fearing the backlash that would come if it were revealed after the election that the F.B.I. had been investigating the next president and had kept it a secret, Mr. Comey sent a letter informing Congress that the case was reopened.
What he did not say was that the F.B.I. was also investigating the campaign of Donald J. Trump. Just weeks before, Mr. Comey had declined to answer a question from Congress about whether there was such an investigation. Only in March, long after the election, did Mr. Comey confirm that there was one.
For Mr. Comey, keeping the F.B.I. out of politics is such a preoccupation that he once said he would never play basketball with President Barack Obama because of the appearance of being chummy with the man who appointed him. But in the final months of the presidential campaign, the leader of the nation's pre-eminent law enforcement agency shaped the contours, if not the outcome, of the presidential race by his handling of the Clinton and Trump-related investigations.
An examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with more than 30 current and former law enforcement, congressional and other government officials, found that while partisanship was not a factor in Mr. Comey's approach to the two investigations, he handled them in starkly different ways. In the case of Mrs. Clinton, he rewrote the script, partly based on the F.B.I.'s expectation that she would win and fearing the bureau would be accused of helping her. In the case of Mr. Trump, he conducted the investigation by the book, with the F.B.I.'s traditional secrecy. Many of the officials discussed the investigations on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Mr. Comey made those decisions with the supreme self-confidence of a former prosecutor who, in a distinguished career, has cultivated a reputation for what supporters see as fierce independence, and detractors view as media-savvy arrogance.
The Times found that this go-it-alone strategy was shaped by his distrust of senior officials at the Justice Department, who he and other F.B.I. officials felt had provided Mrs. Clinton with political cover. The distrust extended to his boss, Loretta E. Lynch, the attorney general, who Mr. Comey believed had subtly helped play down the Clinton investigation.
His misgivings were only fueled by the discovery last year of a document written by a Democratic operative that seemed '-- at least in the eyes of Mr. Comey and his aides '-- to raise questions about her independence. In a bizarre example of how tangled the F.B.I. investigations had become, the document had been stolen by Russian hackers.
The examination also showed that at one point, President Obama himself was reluctant to disclose the suspected Russian influence in the election last summer, for fear his administration would be accused of meddling.
Mr. Comey, the highest-profile F.B.I. director since J. Edgar Hoover, has not squarely addressed his decisions last year. He has touched on them only obliquely, asserting that the F.B.I. is blind to partisan considerations. ''We're not considering whose ox will be gored by this action or that action, whose fortune will be helped,'' he said at a public event recently. ''We just don't care. We can't care. We only ask: 'What are the facts? What is the law?'''
But circumstances and choices landed him in uncharted and perhaps unwanted territory, as he made what he thought were the least damaging choices from even less desirable alternatives.
''This was unique in the history of the F.B.I.,'' said Michael B. Steinbach, the former senior national security official at the F.B.I., who worked closely with Mr. Comey, describing the circumstances the agency faced last year while investigating both the Republican and Democratic candidates for president. ''People say, 'This has never been done before.' Well, there never was a before. Or 'That's not normally how you do it.' There wasn't anything normal about this.''
'Federal Bureau of Matters'Mr. Comey owes his job and his reputation to the night in 2004 when he rushed to the Washington hospital room of John Ashcroft, the attorney general, and prevented Bush administration officials from persuading him to reauthorize a classified program that had been ruled unconstitutional. At the time, Mr. Comey, a Republican, was the deputy attorney general.
Years later, when Mr. Obama was looking for a new F.B.I. director, Mr. Comey seemed an inspired bipartisan choice. But his style eventually grated on his bosses at the Justice Department.
In 2015, as prosecutors pushed for greater accountability for police misconduct, Mr. Comey embraced the controversial theory that scrutiny of police officers led to increases in crime '-- the so-called Ferguson effect. ''We were really caught off guard,'' said Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department's top civil rights prosecutor at the time. ''He lobbed a fairly inflammatory statement, without data to back it up, and walked away.''
On other issues, Mr. Comey bucked the administration but won praise from his agents, who saw him as someone who did what he believed was right, regardless of the political ramifications.
''Jim sees his role as apolitical and independent,'' said Daniel C. Richman, a longtime confidant and friend of Mr. Comey's. ''The F.B.I. director, even as he reports to the attorney general, often has to stand apart from his boss.''
The F.B.I.'s involvement with Mrs. Clinton's emails began in July 2015 when it received a letter from the inspector general for the intelligence community.
The letter said that classified information had been found on Mrs. Clinton's home email server, which she had used as secretary of state. The secret email setup was already proving to be a damaging issue in her presidential campaign.
Mr. Comey's deputies quickly concluded that there was reasonable evidence that a crime may have occurred in the way classified materials were handled, and that the F.B.I. had to investigate. ''We knew as an organization that we didn't have a choice,'' said John Giacalone, a former mob investigator who had risen to become the F.B.I.'s top national security official.
On July 10, 2015, the F.B.I. opened a criminal investigation, code-named ''Midyear,'' into Mrs. Clinton's handling of classified information. The Midyear team included two dozen investigators led by a senior analyst and by an experienced F.B.I. supervisor, Peter Strzok, a former Army officer who had worked on some of the most secretive investigations in recent years involving Russian and Chinese espionage.
There was controversy almost immediately.
Responding to questions from The Times, the Justice Department confirmed that it had received a criminal referral '-- the first step toward a criminal investigation '-- over Mrs. Clinton's handling of classified information.
But the next morning, the department revised its statement.
''The department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information,'' the new statement read. ''It is not a criminal referral.''
At the F.B.I., this was a distinction without a difference: Despite what officials said in public, agents had been alerted to mishandled classified information and in response, records show, had opened a full criminal investigation.
The Justice Department knew a criminal investigation was underway, but officials said they were being technically accurate about the nature of the referral. Some at the F.B.I. suspected that Democratic appointees were playing semantic games to help Mrs. Clinton, who immediately seized on the statement to play down the issue. ''It is not a criminal investigation,'' she said, incorrectly. ''It is a security review.''
In September of that year, as Mr. Comey prepared for his first public questions about the case at congressional hearings and press briefings, he went across the street to the Justice Department to meet with Ms. Lynch and her staff.
Both had been federal prosecutors in New York '-- Mr. Comey in the Manhattan limelight, Ms. Lynch in the lower-wattage Brooklyn office. The 6-foot-8 Mr. Comey commanded a room and the spotlight. Ms. Lynch, 5 feet tall, was known for being cautious and relentlessly on message. In her five months as attorney general, she had shown no sign of changing her style.
At the meeting, everyone agreed that Mr. Comey should not reveal details about the Clinton investigation. But Ms. Lynch told him to be even more circumspect: Do not even call it an investigation, she said, according to three people who attended the meeting. Call it a ''matter.''
Ms. Lynch reasoned that the word ''investigation'' would raise other questions: What charges were being investigated? Who was the target? But most important, she believed that the department should stick by its policy of not confirming investigations.
It was a by-the-book decision. But Mr. Comey and other F.B.I. officials regarded it as disingenuous in an investigation that was so widely known. And Mr. Comey was concerned that a Democratic attorney general was asking him to be misleading and line up his talking points with Mrs. Clinton's campaign, according to people who spoke with him afterward.
As the meeting broke up, George Z. Toscas, a national security prosecutor, ribbed Mr. Comey. ''I guess you're the Federal Bureau of Matters now,'' Mr. Toscas said, according to two people who were there.
Despite his concerns, Mr. Comey avoided calling it an investigation. ''I am confident we have the resources and the personnel assigned to the matter,'' Mr. Comey told reporters days after the meeting.
The F.B.I. investigation into Mrs. Clinton's email server was the biggest political story in the country in the fall of 2015. But something much bigger was happening in Washington. And nobody recognized it.
While agents were investigating Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic National Committee's computer system was compromised. It appeared to have been the work of Russian hackers.
The significance of this moment is obvious now, but it did not immediately cause alarm at the F.B.I. or the Justice Department.
Over the previous year, dozens of think tanks, universities and political organizations associated with both parties had fallen prey to Russian spear phishing '-- emails that tricked victims into clicking on malicious links. The D.N.C. intrusion was a concern, but no more than the others.
Months passed before the D.N.C. and the F.B.I. met to address the hacks. And it would take more than a year for the government to conclude that the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, had an audacious plan to steer the outcome of an American election.
Missing EmailsDespite moments of tension between leaders of the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, agents and prosecutors working on the case made progress. ''The investigative team did a thorough job,'' Mr. Giacalone said. ''They left no stone unturned.''
They knew it would not be enough to prove that Mrs. Clinton was sloppy or careless. To bring charges, they needed evidence that she knowingly received classified information or set up her server for that purpose.
That was especially important after a deal the Justice Department had made with David H. Petraeus, the retired general and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Petraeus had passed classified information to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair, and the evidence was damning: He revealed the names of covert agents and other secrets, he was recorded saying that he knew it was wrong, and he lied to the F.B.I.
But over Mr. Comey's objections, the Justice Department let Mr. Petraeus plead guilty in April 2015 to a misdemeanor count of mishandling classified information. Charging Mrs. Clinton with the same crime, without evidence of intent, would be difficult.
One nagging issue was that Mrs. Clinton had deleted an unknown number of emails from her early months at the State Department '-- before she installed the home server. Agents believed that those emails, sent from a BlackBerry account, might be their best hope of assessing Mrs. Clinton's intentions when she moved to the server. If only they could find them.
In spring last year, Mr. Strzok, the counterintelligence supervisor, reported to Mr. Comey that Mrs. Clinton had clearly been careless, but agents and prosecutors agreed that they had no proof of intent. Agents had not yet interviewed Mrs. Clinton or her aides, but the outcome was coming into focus.
Nine months into the investigation, it became clear to Mr. Comey that Mrs. Clinton was almost certainly not going to face charges. He quietly began work on talking points, toying with the notion that in the midst of a bitter presidential campaign, a Justice Department led by Democrats may not have the credibility to close the case, and that he alone should explain that decision to the public.
A Suspicious DocumentA document obtained by the F.B.I. reinforced that idea.
During Russia's hacking campaign against the United States, intelligence agencies could peer, at times, into Russian networks and see what had been taken. Early last year, F.B.I. agents received a batch of hacked documents, and one caught their attention.
The document, which has been described as both a memo and an email, was written by a Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far, according to several former officials familiar with the document.
Read one way, it was standard Washington political chatter. Read another way, it suggested that a political operative might have insight into Ms. Lynch's thinking.
Normally, when the F.B.I. recommends closing a case, the Justice Department agrees and nobody says anything. The consensus in both places was that the typical procedure would not suffice in this instance, but who would be the spokesman?
The document complicated that calculation, according to officials. If Ms. Lynch announced that the case was closed, and Russia leaked the document, Mr. Comey believed it would raise doubts about the independence of the investigation.
Mr. Comey sought advice from someone he has trusted for many years. He dispatched his deputy to meet with David Margolis, who had served at the Justice Department since the Johnson administration and who, at 76, was dubbed the Yoda of the department.
What exactly was said is not known. Mr. Margolis died of heart problems a few months later. But some time after that meeting, Mr. Comey began talking to his advisers about announcing the end of the Clinton investigation himself, according to a former official.
''When you looked at the totality of the situation, we were leaning toward: This is something that makes sense to be done alone,'' said Mr. Steinbach, who would not confirm the existence of the Russian document.
Former Justice Department officials are deeply skeptical of this account. If Mr. Comey believed that Ms. Lynch were compromised, they say, why did he not seek her recusal? Mr. Comey never raised this issue with Ms. Lynch or the deputy attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, former officials said.
Mr. Comey's defenders regard this as one of the untold stories of the Clinton investigation, one they say helps explain his decision-making. But former Justice Department officials say the F.B.I. never uncovered evidence tying Ms. Lynch to the document's author, and are convinced that Mr. Comey wanted an excuse to put himself in the spotlight.
As the Clinton investigation headed into its final months, there were two very different ideas about how the case would end. Ms. Lynch and her advisers thought a short statement would suffice, probably on behalf of both the Justice Department and the F.B.I.
Mr. Comey was making his own plans.
A Hot TarmacA chance encounter set those plans in motion.
In late June, Ms. Lynch's plane touched down at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as part of her nationwide tour of police departments. Former President Bill Clinton was also in Phoenix that day, leaving from the same tarmac.
Ms. Lynch's staff loaded into vans, leaving the attorney general and her husband on board. Mr. Clinton's Secret Service agents mingled with her security team. When the former president learned who was on the plane, his aides say, he asked to say hello.
Mr. Clinton's aides say he intended only to greet Ms. Lynch as she disembarked. But Ms. Lynch later told colleagues that the message she received '-- relayed from one security team to another '-- was that Mr. Clinton wanted to come aboard, and she agreed.
When Ms. Lynch's staff members noticed Mr. Clinton boarding the plane, a press aide hurriedly called the Justice Department's communications director, Melanie Newman, who said to break up the meeting immediately. A staff member rushed to stop it, but by the time the conversation ended, Mr. Clinton had been on the plane for about 20 minutes.
The meeting made the local news the next day and was soon the talk of Washington. Ms. Lynch said they had only exchanged pleasantries about golf and grandchildren, but Republicans called for her to recuse herself and appoint a special prosecutor.
Ms. Lynch said she would not step aside but would accept whatever career prosecutors and the F.B.I. recommended on the Clinton case '-- something she had planned to do all along.
Mr. Comey never suggested that she recuse herself. But at that moment, he knew for sure that when there was something to say about the case, he alone would say it.
Calling a ConferenceAgents interviewed Mrs. Clinton for more than three and a half hours in Washington the next day, and the interview did not change the unanimous conclusion among agents and prosecutors that she should not be charged.
Two days later, on the morning of July 5, Mr. Comey called Ms. Lynch to say that he was about to hold a news conference. He did not tell her what he planned to say, and Ms. Lynch did not demand to know.
On short notice, the F.B.I. summoned reporters to its headquarters for the briefing.
A few blocks away, Mrs. Clinton was about to give a speech. At her campaign offices in Brooklyn, staff members hurried in front of televisions. And at the Justice Department and the F.B.I., prosecutors and agents watched anxiously.
''We were very much aware what was about to happen,'' said Mr. Steinbach, who had taken over as the F.B.I.'s top national security official earlier that year. ''This was going to be hotly contested.''
With a black binder in hand, Mr. Comey walked into a large room on the ground floor of the F.B.I.'s headquarters. Standing in front of two American flags and two royal-blue F.B.I. flags, he read from a script.
He said the F.B.I. had reviewed 30,000 emails and discovered 110 that contained classified information. He said computer hackers may have compromised Mrs. Clinton's emails. And he criticized the State Department's lax security culture and Mrs. Clinton directly.
''Any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position'' should have known better, Mr. Comey said. He called her ''extremely careless.''
The criticism was so blistering that it sounded as if he were recommending criminal charges. Only in the final two minutes did Mr. Comey say that ''no charges are appropriate in this case.''
The script had been edited and revised several times, former officials said. Mr. Strzok, Mr. Steinbach, lawyers and others debated every phrase. Speaking so openly about a closed case is rare, and the decision to do so was not unanimous, officials said. But the team ultimately agreed that there was an obligation to inform American voters.
''We didn't want anyone to say, 'If I just knew that, I wouldn't have voted that way,''' Mr. Steinbach said. ''You can argue that's not the F.B.I.'s job, but there was no playbook for this. This is somebody who's going to be president of the United States.''
Mr. Comey's criticism '-- his description of her carelessness '-- was the most controversial part of the speech. Agents and prosecutors have been reprimanded for injecting their legal conclusions with personal opinions. But those close to Mr. Comey say he has no regrets.
By scolding Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Comey was speaking not only to voters but to his own agents. While they agreed that Mrs. Clinton should not face charges, many viewed her conduct as inexcusable. Mr. Comey's remarks made clear that the F.B.I. did not approve.
Former agents and others close to Mr. Comey acknowledge that his reproach was also intended to insulate the F.B.I. from Republican criticism that it was too lenient toward a Democrat.
At the Justice Department, frustrated prosecutors said Mr. Comey should have consulted with them first. Mrs. Clinton's supporters said that Mr. Comey's condemnations seemed to make an oblique case for charging her, undermining the effect of his decision.
''He came up with a Rube Goldberg-type solution that caused him more problems than if he had just played it straight,'' said Brian Fallon, the Clinton campaign press secretary and a former Justice Department spokesman.
Furious Republicans saw the legal cloud over Mrs. Clinton lifting and tore into Mr. Comey.
In the days after the announcement, Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch each testified before Congress, with different results. Neither the F.B.I. nor the Justice Department normally gives Congress a fact-by-fact recounting of its investigations, and Ms. Lynch spent five hours avoiding doing so.
''I know that this is a frustrating exercise for you,'' she told the House Judiciary Committee.
Mr. Comey discussed his decision to close the investigation and renewed his criticism of Mrs. Clinton.
By midsummer, as Mrs. Clinton was about to accept her party's nomination for president, the F.B.I. director had seemingly succeeded in everything he had set out to do. The investigation was over well before the election. He had explained his decision to the public.
And with both parties angry at him, he had proved yet again that he was willing to speak his mind, regardless of the blowback. He seemed to have safely piloted the F.B.I. through the storm of a presidential election.
But as Mr. Comey moved past one tumultuous investigation, another was about to heat up.
Russia RisingDays after Mr. Comey's news conference, Carter Page, an American businessman, gave a speech in Moscow criticizing American foreign policy. Such a trip would typically be unremarkable, but Mr. Page had previously been under F.B.I. scrutiny years earlier, as he was believed to have been marked for recruitment by Russian spies. And he was now a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump.
Mr. Page has not said whom he met during his July visit to Moscow, describing them as ''mostly scholars.'' But the F.B.I. took notice. Mr. Page later traveled to Moscow again, raising new concerns among counterintelligence agents. A former senior American intelligence official said that Mr. Page met with a suspected intelligence officer on one of those trips and there was information that the Russians were still very interested in recruiting him.
Later that month, the website WikiLeaks began releasing hacked emails from the D.N.C. Roger J. Stone Jr., another Trump adviser, boasted publicly about his contact with WikiLeaks and suggested he had inside knowledge about forthcoming leaks. And Mr. Trump himself fueled the F.B.I.'s suspicions, showering Mr. Putin with praise and calling for more hacking of Mrs. Clinton's emails.
''Russia, if you're listening,'' he said, ''I hope you'll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.''
In late July, the F.B.I. opened an investigation into possible collusion between members of Mr. Trump's campaign and Russian operatives. Besides Mr. Comey and a small team of agents, officials said, only a dozen or so people at the F.B.I. knew about the investigation. Mr. Strzok, just days removed from the Clinton case, was selected to supervise it.
It was a worrisome time at the F.B.I. Agents saw increased activity by Russian intelligence officers in the United States, and a former senior American intelligence official said there were attempts by Russian intelligence officers to talk to people involved in the campaign. Russian hackers had also been detected trying to break into voter registration systems, and intelligence intercepts indicated some sort of plan to interfere with the election.
In late August, Mr. Comey and his deputies were briefed on a provocative set of documents about purported dealings between shadowy Russian figures and Mr. Trump's campaign. One report, filled with references to secret meetings, spoke ominously of Mr. Trump's ''compromising relationship with the Kremlin'' and threats of ''blackmail.''
The reports came from a former British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele, who was working as a private investigator hired by a firm working for a Trump opponent. He provided the documents to an F.B.I. contact in Europe on the same day as Mr. Comey's news conference about Mrs. Clinton. It took weeks for this information to land with Mr. Strzok and his team.
Mr. Steele had been a covert agent for MI6 in Moscow, maintained deep ties with Russians and worked with the F.B.I., but his claims were largely unverified. It was increasingly clear at the F.B.I. that Russia was trying to interfere with the election.
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As the F.B.I. plunged deeper into that investigation, Mr. Comey became convinced that the American public needed to understand the scope of the foreign interference and be ''inoculated'' against it.
He proposed writing an op-ed piece to appear in The Times or The Washington Post, and showed the White House a draft his staff had prepared, according to two former officials. (After the Times story was published online on Saturday, a former White House official said the text of the op-ed had not been given to the White House.) The op-ed did not mention the investigation of the Trump campaign, but it laid out how Russia was trying to undermine the vote.
The president replied that going public would play right into Russia's hands by sowing doubts about the election's legitimacy. Mr. Trump was already saying the system was ''rigged,'' and if the Obama administration accused Russia of interference, Republicans could accuse the White House of stoking national security fears to help Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Comey argued that he had unique credibility to call out the Russians and avoid that criticism. After all, he said, he had just chastised Mrs. Clinton at his news conference.
The White House decided it would be odd for Mr. Comey to make such an accusation on his own, in a newspaper, before American security agencies had produced a formal intelligence assessment. The op-ed idea was quashed. When the administration had something to say about Russia, it would do so in one voice, through the proper channels.
But John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, was so concerned about the Russian threat that he gave an unusual private briefing in the late summer to Harry Reid, then the Senate Democratic leader.
Top congressional officials had already received briefings on Russia's meddling, but the one for Mr. Reid appears to have gone further. In a public letter to Mr. Comey several weeks later, Mr. Reid said that ''it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government '-- a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States.''
Mr. Comey knew the investigation of the Trump campaign was just underway, and keeping with policy, he said nothing about it.
'Exceptional Circumstances'Mr. Reid's letter sparked frenzied speculation about what the F.B.I. was doing. At a congressional hearing in September, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, pressed Mr. Comey for an explanation, citing his willingness to give details about his investigation of Mrs. Clinton.
''After you investigated Secretary Clinton, you made a decision to explain publicly who you interviewed and why,'' Mr. Nadler said. ''You also disclosed documents, including those from those interviews. Why shouldn't the American people have the same level of information about your investigation with those associated with Mr. Trump?''
But Mr. Comey never considered disclosing the case. Doing so, he believed, would have undermined an active investigation and cast public suspicion on people the F.B.I. could not be sure were implicated.
''I'm not confirming that we're investigating people associated with Mr. Trump,'' Mr. Comey said to Mr. Nadler. ''In the matter of the email investigation, it was our judgment '-- my judgment and the rest of the F.B.I.'s judgment '-- that those were exceptional circumstances.''
Even in classified briefings with House and Senate intelligence committee members, Mr. Comey repeatedly declined to answer questions about whether there was an investigation of the Trump campaign.
To Mr. Comey's allies, the two investigations were totally different. One was closed when he spoke about it. The other was continuing, highly classified and in its earliest stages. Much of the debate over Mr. Comey's actions over the last seven months can be distilled into whether people make that same distinction.
Just a few weeks later, in late September, Mr. Steele, the former British agent, finally heard back from his contact at the F.B.I. It had been months, but the agency wanted to see the material he had collected ''right away,'' according to a person with knowledge of the conversation. What prompted this message remains unclear.
Mr. Steele met his F.B.I. contact in Rome in early October, bringing a stack of new intelligence reports. One, dated Sept. 14, said that Mr. Putin was facing ''fallout'' over his apparent involvement in the D.N.C. hack and was receiving ''conflicting advice'' on what to do.
The agent said that if Mr. Steele could get solid corroboration of his reports, the F.B.I. would pay him $50,000 for his efforts, according to two people familiar with the offer. Ultimately, he was not paid.
Around the same time, the F.B.I. began examining a mysterious data connection between Alfa Bank, one of Russia's biggest, and a Trump Organization email server. Some private computer scientists said it could represent a secret link between the Trump Organization and Moscow.
Agents concluded that the computer activity, while odd, probably did not represent a covert channel.
But by fall, the gravity of the Russian effort to affect the presidential election had become clear.
The D.N.C. hack and others like it had once appeared to be standard Russian tactics to tarnish a Western democracy. After the WikiLeaks disclosures and subsequent leaks by a Russian group using the name DCLeaks, agents and analysts began to realize that Moscow was not just meddling. It was trying to tip the election away from Mrs. Clinton and toward Mr. Trump.
Mr. Comey and other senior administration officials met twice in the White House Situation Room in early October to again discuss a public statement about Russian meddling. But the roles were reversed: Susan Rice, the national security adviser, wanted to move ahead. Mr. Comey was less interested in being involved.
At their second meeting, Mr. Comey argued that it would look too political for the F.B.I. to comment so close to the election, according to several people in attendance. Officials in the room felt whiplashed. Two months earlier, Mr. Comey had been willing to put his name on a newspaper article; now he was refusing to sign on to an official assessment of the intelligence community.
Mr. Comey said that in the intervening time, Russian meddling had become the subject of news stories and a topic of national discussion. He felt it was no longer necessary for him to speak publicly about it. So when Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security secretary, and James R. Clapper Jr., the national intelligence director, accused ''Russia's senior-most officials'' on Oct. 7 of a cyber operation to disrupt the election, the F.B.I. was conspicuously silent.
That night, WikiLeaks began posting thousands of hacked emails from another source: the private email account of John D. Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign.
The emails included embarrassing messages between campaign staff members and excerpts from Mrs. Clinton's speeches to Wall Street. The disclosure further convinced the F.B.I. that it had initially misread Russia's intentions.
Two days later, Mr. Podesta heard from the F.B.I. for the first time, he said in an interview.
''You may be aware that your emails have been hacked,'' an agent told him.
Mr. Podesta laughed. The same agency that had so thoroughly investigated Mrs. Clinton, he said, seemed painfully slow at responding to Russian hacking.
''Yes,'' he answered. ''I'm aware.''
Supplementing the RecordThe Daily Mail, a British tabloid, was first with the salacious story: Anthony D. Weiner, the former New York congressman, had exchanged sexually charged messages with a 15-year-old girl.
The article, appearing in late September, raised the possibility that Mr. Weiner had violated child pornography laws. Within days, prosecutors in Manhattan sought a search warrant for Mr. Weiner's computer.
Even with his notoriety, this would have had little impact on national politics but for one coincidence. Mr. Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, was one of Mrs. Clinton's closest confidantes, and had used an email account on her server.
F.B.I. agents in New York seized Mr. Weiner's laptop in early October. The investigation was just one of many in the New York office and was not treated with great urgency, officials said. Further slowing the investigation, the F.B.I. software used to catalog the computer files kept crashing.
Eventually, investigators realized that they had hundreds of thousands of emails, many of which belonged to Ms. Abedin and had been backed up to her husband's computer.
Neither Mr. Comey nor Ms. Lynch was concerned. Agents had discovered devices before in the Clinton investigation (old cellphones, for example) that turned up no new evidence.
Then, agents in New York who were searching image files on Mr. Weiner's computer discovered a State Department document containing the initials H.R.C. '-- Hillary Rodham Clinton. They found messages linked to Mrs. Clinton's home server.
And they made another surprising discovery: evidence that some of the emails had moved through Mrs. Clinton's old BlackBerry server, the one she used before moving to her home server. If Mrs. Clinton had intended to conceal something, agents had always believed, the evidence might be in those emails. But reading them would require another search warrant, essentially reopening the Clinton investigation.
The election was two weeks away.
Mr. Comey learned of the Clinton emails on the evening of Oct. 26 and gathered his team the next morning to discuss the development.
Seeking a new warrant was an easy decision. He had a thornier issue on his mind.
Back in July, he told Congress that the Clinton investigation was closed. What was his obligation, he asked, to acknowledge that this was no longer true?
It was a perilous idea. It would push the F.B.I. back into the political arena, weeks after refusing to confirm the active investigation of the Trump campaign and declining to accuse Russia of hacking.
The question consumed hours of conference calls and meetings. Agents felt they had two options: Tell Congress about the search, which everyone acknowledged would create a political furor, or keep it quiet, which followed policy and tradition but carried its own risk, especially if the F.B.I. found new evidence in the emails.
''In my mind at the time, Clinton is likely to win,'' Mr. Steinbach said. ''It's pretty apparent. So what happens after the election, in November or December? How do we say to the American public: 'Hey, we found some things that might be problematic. But we didn't tell you about it before you voted'? The damage to our organization would have been irreparable.''
Conservative news outlets had already branded Mr. Comey a Clinton toady. That same week, the cover of National Review featured a story on ''James Comey's Dereliction,'' and a cartoon of a hapless Mr. Comey shrugging as Mrs. Clinton smashed her laptop with a sledgehammer.
Congressional Republicans were preparing for years of hearings during a Clinton presidency. If Mr. Comey became the subject of those hearings, F.B.I. officials feared, it would hobble the agency and harm its reputation. ''I don't think the organization would have survived that,'' Mr. Steinbach said.
The assumption was that the email review would take many weeks or months. ''If we thought we could be done in a week,'' Mr. Steinbach said, ''we wouldn't say anything.''
The spirited debate continued when Mr. Comey reassembled his team later that day. F.B.I. lawyers raised concerns, former officials said. But in the end, Mr. Comey said he felt obligated to tell Congress.
''I went back and forth, changing my mind several times,'' Mr. Steinbach recalled. ''Ultimately, it was the right call.''
That afternoon, Mr. Comey's chief of staff called the office of Ms. Yates, the deputy attorney general, and revealed the plan.
When Ms. Lynch was told, she was both stunned and confused. While the Justice Department's rules on ''election year sensitivities'' do not expressly forbid making comments close to an election, administrations of both parties have interpreted them as a broad prohibition against anything that may influence a political outcome.
Ms. Lynch understood Mr. Comey's predicament, but not his hurry. In a series of phone calls, her aides told Mr. Comey's deputies that there was no need to tell Congress anything until agents knew what the emails contained.
Either Ms. Lynch or Ms. Yates could have ordered Mr. Comey not to send the letter, but their aides argued against it. If Ms. Lynch issued the order and Mr. Comey obeyed, she risked the same fate that Mr. Comey feared: accusations of political interference and favoritism by a Democratic attorney general.
If Mr. Comey disregarded her order and sent the letter '-- a real possibility, her aides thought '-- it would be an act of insubordination that would force her to consider firing him, aggravating the situation.
Document | Letter to Congress From F.B.I. Director on Clinton Email Case In the letter, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that new emails had surfaced in a case unrelated to the closed investigation into whether Hillary Clinton or her aides had mishandled classified information, and that the messages ''appear to be pertinent to the investigation.''
So the debate ended at the staff level, with the Justice Department imploring the F.B.I. to follow protocol and stay out of the campaign's final days. Ms. Lynch never called Mr. Comey herself.
The next morning, Friday, Oct. 28, Mr. Comey wrote to Congress, ''In connection with an unrelated case, the F.B.I. has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.''
His letter became public within minutes. Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, a Republican and a leading antagonist of Mrs. Clinton's, jubilantly announced on Twitter, ''Case reopened.''
'This Changes Everything'The Clinton team was outraged. Even at the F.B.I., agents who supported their high-profile director were stunned. They knew the letter would call into question the F.B.I.'s political independence.
Mr. Trump immediately mentioned it on the campaign trail. ''As you might have heard,'' Mr. Trump told supporters in Maine, ''earlier today, the F.B.I. '... '' The crowd interrupted with a roar. Everyone had heard.
Polls almost immediately showed Mrs. Clinton's support declining. Presidential races nearly always tighten in the final days, but some political scientists reported a measurable ''Comey effect.''
''This changes everything,'' Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Comey explained in an email to his agents that Congress needed to be notified. ''It would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record,'' he wrote.
But many agents were not satisfied.
At the Justice Department, career prosecutors and political appointees privately criticized not only Mr. Comey for sending the letter but also Ms. Lynch and Ms. Yates for not stopping him. Many saw the letter as the logical result of years of not reining him in.
Mr. Comey told Congress that he had no idea how long the email review would take, but Ms. Lynch promised every resource needed to complete it before Election Day.
At the F.B.I., the Clinton investigative team was reassembled, and the Justice Department obtained a warrant to read emails to or from Mrs. Clinton during her time at the State Department. As it turned out, only about 50,000 emails met those criteria, far fewer than anticipated, officials said, and the F.B.I. had already seen many of them.
Mr. Comey was again under fire. Former Justice Department officials from both parties wrote a Washington Post op-ed piece titled ''James Comey Is Damaging Our Democracy.''
At a Justice Department memorial for Mr. Margolis, organizers removed all the chairs from the stage, avoiding the awkward scene of Mr. Comey sitting beside some of his sharpest critics.
Jamie S. Gorelick, a deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, eulogized Mr. Margolis for unfailingly following the rules, even when facing unpopular options. Audience members heard it as a veiled critique of both Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch.
On Nov. 5, three days before Election Day, Mr. Strzok and his team had 3,000 emails left to review. That night, they ordered pizza and dug in. At about 2 a.m., Mr. Strzok wrote an email to Mr. Comey and scheduled it to send at 6 a.m. They were finished.
A few hours later, Mr. Strzok and his team were back in Mr. Comey's conference room for a final briefing: Only about 3,000 emails had been potentially work-related. A dozen or so email chains contained classified information, but the F.B.I. had already seen it.
And agents had found no emails from the BlackBerry server during the crucial period when Mrs. Clinton was at the State Department.
Nothing had changed what Mr. Comey had said in July.
That conclusion was met with a mixture of relief and angst. Everyone at the meeting knew that the question would quickly turn to whether Mr. Comey's letter had been necessary.
That afternoon, Mr. Comey sent a second letter to Congress. ''Based on our review,'' he wrote, ''we have not changed our conclusions.''
Political ConsequencesMr. Comey did not vote on Election Day, records show, the first time he skipped a national election, according to friends. But the director of the F.B.I. was a central story line on every television station as Mr. Trump swept to an upset victory.
Many factors explained Mr. Trump's success, but Mrs. Clinton blamed just one. ''Our analysis is that Comey's letter '-- raising doubts that were groundless, baseless, proven to be '-- stopped our momentum,'' she told donors a few days after the election. She pointed to polling data showing that late-deciding voters chose Mr. Trump in unusually large numbers.
Even many Democrats believe that this analysis ignores other factors, but at the F.B.I., the accusation stung. Agents are used to criticism and second-guessing. Rarely has the agency been accused of political favoritism or, worse, tipping an election.
For all the attention on Mrs. Clinton's emails, history is likely to see Russian influence as the more significant story of the 2016 election. Questions about Russian meddling and possible collusion have marred Mr. Trump's first 100 days in the White House, cost him his national security adviser and triggered two congressional investigations. Despite Mr. Trump's assertions that ''Russia is fake news,'' the White House has been unable to escape its shadow.
Mr. Comey has told friends that he has no regrets, about either the July news conference or the October letter or his handling of the Russia investigation. Confidants like Mr. Richman say he was constrained by circumstance while ''navigating waters in which every move has political consequences.''
But officials and others close to him also acknowledge that Mr. Comey has been changed by the tumultuous year.
Early on Saturday, March 4, the president accused Mr. Obama on Twitter of illegally wiretapping Trump Tower in Manhattan. Mr. Comey believed the government should forcefully denounce that claim. But this time he took a different approach. He asked the Justice Department to correct the record. When officials there refused, Mr. Comey followed orders and said nothing publicly.
''Comey should say this on the record,'' said Tommy Vietor, a National Security Council spokesman in the Obama administration. ''He's already shattered all norms about commenting on ongoing investigations.''
Mr. Richman sees no conflict, but rather ''a consistent pattern of someone trying to act with independence and integrity, but within established channels.''
''His approach to the Russia investigation fits this pattern,'' he added.
But perhaps the most telling sign that Mr. Comey may have had enough of being Washington's Lone Ranger occurred last month before the House Intelligence Committee.
Early in the hearing, Mr. Comey acknowledged for the first time what had been widely reported: The F.B.I. was investigating members of the Trump campaign for possible collusion with Russia.
Yet the independent-minded F.B.I. director struck a collaborative tone. ''I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm,'' he began, ushering in the next phase of his extraordinary moment in national politics.
Mr. Comey was still in the spotlight, but no longer alone.
Donald Trump to Hold Rally Same Night as White House Correspondents Dinner | Variety
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 18:06
In a counter-programming twist, president Donald Trump has scheduled a Pennsylvania rally the same night as the White House Correspondents Dinner.
''Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it!'' he tweeted on Saturday.
Trump had previously announced that he would skip the annual event in Washington D.C., breaking a long tradition of the president dining with, and often getting roasted by, the media.
The dinner, hosted by the White House Correspondents' Association, is set for April 29 at the Washington Hilton.
SJW BLM LGBBTQQIAAP
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Berkley Girl that Got Clocked in Protest - The FAL Fileswww.falfiles.com 'º ... 'º Discussion Forums 'º General Non-Firearms Discussion7 days ago - 50 posts - 'Ž37 authors
Louise has taken part in pornography under the name Venus Rosealma and has been featured on ATKHairy.com, a website and caters to an ... Antifa Protestor Moldylocks Has A Porn Career -www.anonymousconservative.com/.../antifa-protestor-moldylocks-has-a-porn-career/1 day ago - Louise has taken part in pornography under the name Venus Rosealma and has been featured on ATKHairy.com, a website and caters to an ... #knockout - Twitter Searchhttps://twitter.com/search?q=%23knockoutAntifa #knockout girl Louise has taken part in pornography under the name Venus Rosealma and has been featured on http://ATKHairy.com pic.twitter.com/ ... The curious case of Venus Rosales '' Endscape3ndscape.com/blog/2017/04/18/the-curious-case-of-venus-rosales/5 days ago - Louise has taken part in pornography under the name Venus Rosealma and has been featured on ATKHairy.com. She has stated that she has ... My Account Search Maps YouTube Play News Gmail Drive Calendar Google+ Translate Photos MoreShopping Wallet Finance Docs Books Blogger Contacts Hangouts Keep Even more from Google
Could ''Social Justice Benefits'' Be The Newest Employment Trend?
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 16:19
When Alexandra Millatmal, a co-instructor at Omaha Code School, wanted time off on March 8 to participate in a Day Without a Woman, she wasn't sure what to do. ''I didn't know if I should be asking for paid time off, or if I should just not show up for work,'' she says.
Even though she feels the leadership at Big Wheel Brigade (parent company to Omaha Code School) values her contributions and those of other women, Millatmal wanted to participate in the larger movement. ''I think it's important for [my students] to see my physical absence during the strike,'' she says.
When Millatmal voiced this desire to her employer, they responded by adding two days of social justice paid time off (PTO). Rahul Gupta, president and founder of Big Wheel Brigade, says he considered making March 8 a company-wide day off, but he instead chose a more flexible policy to allow for different uses and causes. ''The politics of my business partner and I are reflected by our employees, but that may not always be the case,'' he explains. ''We want to make sure that we're inclusive of different viewpoints.''
While some protests fall on weekends, Millatmal says she appreciates the option to use her social justice PTO on state policy issues. ''A lot of events that affect our state policies are happening in Lincoln,'' she says. ''If I want to go to the state capital and talk to [legislators], every hour counts.''
It's not unusual for socially minded companies to give employees paid time off for volunteering, but in our hypercharged political climate, some employers like Big Wheel Brigade are taking the concept a step further by offering paid time off for civic engagement or supporting social justice initiatives in other ways.
Large employers like Comcast may allow employees to use their paid time off to protest, provided their department has someone else covering customers' needs, but some employees have created more specific policies around social justice activities. Here's a look at how other employers handle this issue.
One Day Of Pay And Matching Donations To The ACLUCurtis Lee, CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Luxe, an app that provides valet parking in several major cities, said he and many employees were upset by the news of Trump's travel ban in February. ''I'm not the overly political type of CEO who gets involved in politics, but I do have strong views, particularly around this topic,'' he says. Lee's parents are U.S. citizens who emigrated from Korea, and he says he had to reassure several of his foreign-born engineers who were concerned about their visas and status in the country.
''A lot of our workforce are not just full-time employees,'' he explains. ''They're also valets [who are part-time employees], so missing out on a day of work is pretty meaningful. I didn't want that to be the reason they couldn't go out and express their views.'' Valets could log into the app and get paid for a two-hour ''vocalization shift'' while protesting at the airport. Some were asked to provide protest selfies, but that was left up to the discretion of their city's valet manager.
Full-time Luxe employees could get a full day of paid time off to use how they saw fit. ''We broadened the scope of the policy to make it for anything that they chose to spend time on,'' Lee says. ''That's also for people with opposing views, not that we had any, but if there were people that were pro-Trump or anti-immigration, we made that open to them.''
In addition, Luxe offered to match employees' donations to the ACLU, up to $100 per employee.
Bail For Employees Arrested While Peacefully ProtestingPatagonia has a long history of environmental activism. For as long as anyone can remember, the outdoor gear and apparel retailer has had a policy of paying bail for employees who are arrested while peacefully protesting environmental or related issues. It will also provide paid time off for court appearances or other legal appointments related to the arrest. ''We hire activists, we look for people who are so incredibly passionate about the environment that they want to protest,'' says Dean Carter, the company's vice president of human resources. ''If you're hiring a wild horse because of its passion and independence and then you keep it in the pen, that's ridiculous.''
Carter says the company has never actually had to post bail for an employee, but he feels the policy encourages them to follow safe protest protocol. ''We want them to participate in democracy, but we never want any of our employees in harm's way,'' he adds. To be eligible for bail from Patagonia, employees must undergo peaceful protest training (available through partner organizations such as Greenpeace) and must notify the employer of their protest participation in advance. Arrested spouses are also eligible, provided they've undergone the training.
Many Patagonia employees also participated in the Women's March, and some assembled at a D.C. retail store. ''Our retail locations are places where we mobilize communities,'' Carter says.
Time Off To VoteA 2016 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that 86% of HR professionals surveyed say their organization lets employees take time off to vote (53% paid and 33% unpaid; state law requires some of these organizations to do so). However, many employees try to keep politics out of the workplace, so just over three-quarters do nothing to encourage employees to vote.
Last November, Kasey Edwards, cofounder and CEO of Helpr, a Los Angeles-based app that provides screened babysitters on demand, wanted her employees to vote, so she sent everyone a gift card for a local coffee shop, saying, ''Here's the ballot pamphlet, give yourself an opportunity to make an informed decision.'' She says her employees could take as much time as they needed to cast their vote.
When the Day Without a Woman came up in March, Edwards says there was a lot of interest among her employees. ''We feel like our team is highly engaged with the mission of seeing more women in leadership,'' she says. She and her cofounder gave employees the option to take the day off, but because Helpr provides child care and low staffing could negatively impact other women, ''Most people did decide that they wanted to come in and do what they felt was impactful for other women . . . for those who needed child care.''
Travel Expenses To The Women's MarchA little over a decade ago, Vermont-based Burton Snowboards had what some would call a locker room or frat house culture. ''We grew quickly and we were drawing from very male-dominated industries like surfing, and it really started to take on a masculine culture,'' says now president and CEO Donna Carpenter. She's been working to improve gender diversity at the company since her husband and founder Jake Burton Carpenter looked at his global directors and noticed a gender imbalance he wanted to change.
Carpenter took Hillary Clinton's presidential defeat hard, so she knew she wanted to attend the Women's March in D.C. in January. ''I thought, 'Hey, I'm sure there are Burton women who want to go and I can make it easier by getting hotel rooms and transportation and making an event out of it,''' she says. About 30 people from Burton attended the march, and the marketing department created signs with sayings such as, ''1968 is calling. Don't answer.''
The company suffered some pushback from customers who disagreed with Carpenter's stance (some even claimed her employees were paid to protest, even though the Women's March fell on a Saturday). However, Carpenter says the backlash has been less than she expected and the trip has boosted employee morale. ''I think it has energized us to . . . think about how we double down on our efforts to get more women in the company and more female participants in our sport,'' she says.
Can We Expect To See More Of These Benefits In The Future?Yes, says Alexandra Levit, workplace expert and author of Blind Spots: The Ten Business Myths You Can't Afford to Believe. She predicts that a general increase in corporate social responsibility and growing demand for more flexible work will drive this change.
''Boundaries between your personal and professional life are blurring,'' Levit says. ''We're going to see more integration of what you believe and being able to come to work and say you support a certain cause.'' Rather than just jumping on the bandwagon, she recommends that employers ask their employees for input first and give employees flexibility to use the time as they see fit.
Lynda Zugec, managing director for The Workforce Consultants, points out that this type of benefit makes the most sense when social justice activities align with the company's goals or vision. ''An organization whose mission it is to support abused women may decide to support any and all staff that would like to protest or support a similar and related cause against violence,'' she says, adding that ''if the social justice PTO furthers a cause for which the organization was designed to support, the organization is much more likely to encourage and establish PTO for such activities.''
'Physically Average Privilege' Is a Thing Now | National Review
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 13:57
A ccording to an article in the social-justice blog Everyday Feminism, being ''physically average'' is now another ''privileged class.''
In an article titled ''3 Unfair Ways Being Perceived as Physically Average Privileges and Protects You,'' Rebecca Lays explains that although the social-justice movement frequently discusses the privilege of the ''idealized images we see in media,'' ''it's not often that we unpack the concept of 'average' when it comes to physical appearance.''
''The more 'physically average' I look, the more privilege I hold, and the easier it is for me to live in my community,'' Lays writes.
In the first section, titled ''The World Around You Was Designed for Your Body to Easily Access It,'' Lays explains that people who are ''physically average'' get to do great things like ''fit into seats on public transport.'' And in another section, titled ''A Variety of Products and Media Cater Specifically to Your Diverse Needs,'' Lays talks about how truly privileged she is to be able to ''easily find things in non-specialty shops that are branded 'nude,' which pretty much accurately represents [her] skin tone.''
The rest of her piece centers around the idea that '''physically average' looking people are not something to be shocked by when they go about their normal life.''
''They can go to the beach, wear a swimsuit, go for a run, eat a salad or a giant plate of chips, and it's not something that incurs mocking, praise or shame,'' she writes.
''Being physically average means I'm almost never singled out for 'security purposes,''' she continues. ''Even though I spend the majority of my time outside my house pushing a double stroller '' in which I could hide all sorts of things, even though in reality it's stuffed with snacks, wet wipes, and nappies.''
Pretty convincing stuff. Or, at least Lays thinks so, because she ends her piece by recommending an article on ''privilege guilt.'' But do you know what? I read the whole thing, and I still don't feel guilty about being able to fit into a seat on the subway.
Now, I'm not denying that there are issues with profiling that absolutely do lead to certain people being singled out for extra security purposes. (Although, to be fair, I'm also pretty sure that having your baby stroller raided for drugs is probably not something that happens to anyone, unless she's, like, walking around in dirty Looney Tunes pajamas and screaming at voices that aren't there.)
Average people aren't 'privileged,' they're average.
But profiling isn't really what Lays's piece is about. It's about being an ''average'' person, and the idea that we should be considering ''average'' people to be a privileged class '-- which is insane. Average people aren't ''privileged,'' they're average. Are there certain things you don't have to deal with because you look like everyone else? Sure. We're all different, and all of our differences come with their own unique positives and negatives. Some people might not fit into a subway seat as easily as I do, but those same people can probably push their way onto the train during rush hour much easier than I can. Should we start writing pieces about ''Rush-Hour-Push-and-Shove-Privilege''? I hope I didn't just give anyone at Everyday Feminism any ideas.
What's more, in some of Lays's examples, ''privilege'' really is in the eye of the beholder. For example: Yes, being ''physically average'' does mean that you don't draw as much attention in public. But is that always a good thing? Sometimes, it's much better to have people paying attention. If I were to eat a ''giant plate of chips,'' I would definitely prefer people to throw some ''shame'' my way. That's just too many damn chips, and I wouldn't consider anyone who would let me do that without telling me it was disgusting to be a friend who truly cared about my well being or my stomach.
There are benefits to fitting in. There are also benefits to standing out. It's great to count and think about your blessings, but believe it or not, it's totally possible to do that without making it about identity politics.
'-- Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online .
Intersectionality - Wikipedia
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 14:47
Intersectionality is a term coined by American civil rights advocate Kimberl(C) Williams Crenshaw to describe overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. Intersectionality is the idea that multiple identities intersect to create a whole that is different from the component identities. These identities that can intersect include gender, race, social class, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, age, mental disability, physical disability, mental illness, and physical illness as well as other forms of identity.[1] These aspects of identity are not "unitary, mutually exclusive entities, but rather...reciprocally constructing phenomena."[1] The theory proposes that we think of each element or trait of a person as inextricably linked with all of the other elements in order to fully understand one's identity.[2]
This framework, it is argued, can be used to understand how systemic injustice and social inequality occur on a multidimensional basis.[3] Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society'--such as racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and belief-based bigotry'--do not act independently of each other. Instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the "intersection" of multiple forms of discrimination.[4]
Under this hypothesis, intersectional identities usually are not addressed or mapped out in normal social discourses and often come with their own set of oppression, domination, and discrimination. Because laws and policies usually only address one form of marginalized identity but not the intersection of multiple oppressed identities, intersectional identities often go overlooked. Since these identities are overlooked, there is a lack of resources needed to combat the discrimination, and the oppression is cyclically perpetuated.[5]
Intersectionality proposes that all aspects of one's identity need to be examined as simultaneously interacting with each other and affecting one's privilege and perception in society, and that these facets of identity cannot simply be observed separately.[6] As such, intersectionality is not simply a view of personal identity, but rather an overarching analysis of power hierarchies present within identities.[6] The framework of intersectionality also provides an insight into how multiple systems of oppression interrelate and are interactive.[6] Intersectionality is not a static field; rather, it is dynamic and constantly developing as response to formations of complex social inequalities. Intersectionality can be seen as an "overarching knowledge project."[1] Within this overarching umbrella, there are multiple knowledge projects that evolve "in tandem with changes in the interpretive communities that advance them."[1]
Intersectionality is an important paradigm in academic scholarship and broader contexts such as social justice work, but difficulties arise due to the many complexities involved in making "multidimensional conceptualizations"[7] that explain the way in which socially constructed categories of differentiation interact to create a social hierarchy. For example, intersectionality holds that there is no singular experience of an identity. Rather than understanding women's health solely through the lens of gender, it is necessary to consider other social categories such as class, ability, nation or race, to have a fuller understanding of the range of women's health concerns.
The theory of intersectionality also suggests that seemingly discrete forms and expressions of oppression are shaped by one another (mutually co-constitutive).[8] Thus, in order to fully understand the racialization of oppressed groups, one must investigate the ways in which racializing structures, social processes and social representations (or ideas purporting to represent groups and group members in society) are shaped by gender, class, sexuality, etc.[9] While the theory began as an exploration of the oppression of women of color within American society, today the analysis is potentially applied to all categories (including statuses usually seen as dominant when seen as standalone statuses).
Intersectionality is ambiguous and open ended, and it has been argued that its "lack of clear-cut definition or even specific parameters has enabled it to be drawn upon in nearly any context of inquiry".[10]
Contents
Historical background Edit The concept of intersectionality is intended to illuminate dynamics that have too often been overlooked in feminist movements and theory.[12] As articulated by bell hooks, such an approach "challenged the notion that 'gender' was the primary factor determining a woman's fate".[13] This exploration sprang from a historical exclusion of black women from the feminist movement that had been challenged since at least the 1800s by black feminists such as Anna Julia Cooper. In many ways, the introduction of intersectional theory supported claims made by women of color that they belong in both of these political spheres.
The movement led by women of color disputed the idea, common to earlier feminist movements, that women were a homogeneous category essentially sharing the same life experiences. This argument stemmed from the realization that white middle-class women did not serve as an accurate representation of the feminist movement as a whole.[14] Recognizing that the forms of oppression experienced by white middle-class women were different from those experienced by black, poor, or disabled women, feminists sought to understand the ways in which gender, race, and class combined to "determine the female destiny".[13]
Leslie McCall argues that the introduction of the intersectionality theory was vital to sociology, claiming that before its development there was little research that specifically addressed the experiences of people who are subjected to multiple forms of subordination within society.[15]
The term also has historical and theoretical links to the concept of "simultaneity" advanced during the 1970s by members of the Combahee River Collective, in Boston, Massachusetts.[16] Members of this group articulated an awareness that their lives, and their forms of resistance to oppression, were profoundly shaped by the simultaneous influences of race, class, gender, and sexuality.[17] Thus, the women of the Combahee River Collective advanced an understanding of African American experiences that challenged analyses emerging from Black and male-centered social movements; as well as those from mainstream white, middle-class, heterosexual feminists.[18]
The term intersectionality theory was first coined by legal scholar Kimberl(C) Crenshaw in 1989.[3] In her work, Crenshaw discussed Black feminism, which argues that the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood in terms of being black and of being a woman considered independently, but must include the interactions, which frequently reinforce each other.[19] Crenshaw mentioned that the intersectionality experience within black women is more powerful than the sum of their race and sex, and that any observations that do not take intersectionality into consideration cannot accurately address the manner in which black women are subordinated.[20][page needed ]
In order to show that women of color have a vastly different experience from white women due to their race and/or class and that their experiences are not easily voiced or pinpointed, Crenshaw explores two types of male violence against women: domestic violence and rape. Through her analysis of these two forms of male violence against women, Crenshaw depicts that the experiences of women of color consist of a combination or intersection of both racism and sexism.[5] Because women of color are present within discourses that have been designed to address either race or sex, but not both at the same time, women of color are marginalized within both of these systems of oppression.[5]
In her work, Crenshaw identifies three aspects of intersectionality that affect the visibility of women of color: structural intersectionality, political intersectionality, and representational intersectionality. Structural intersectionality deals with how women of color experience domestic violence and rape in a manner qualitatively different from the ways that white women experience them. Political intersectionality examines how feminist and anti-racists laws and policies have paradoxically decreased the visibility of violence against women of color. Finally, representational intersectionality delves into how pop culture portrayals of women of color can obscure the actual, real life experiences of women of color.[5]
The term gained prominence in the 1990s when sociologist Patricia Hill Collins reintroduced the idea as part of her discussion on black feminism. This term replaced her previously coined expression "black feminist thought", "and increased the general applicability of her theory from African American women to all women."[21]:61 Much like her predecessor Crenshaw, Collins argued that cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society, such as race, gender, class, and ethnicity.[22]:42 Collins referred to this as "interlocking oppression".[23][page needed ]
Patricia Hill Collins sought to create frameworks to think about intersectionality, rather than expanding on the theory itself. As a field, she identified three main branches of study within intersectionality. One branch deals with the background, ideas, issues, conflicts, and debates within intersectionality. Another branch seeks to apply intersectionality as an analytical strategy to various social institutions in order to examine how they might perpetuate social inequality. The final branch formulates intersectionality as a critical praxis to determine how social justice initiatives can use intersectionality to bring about social change.[1]
Of course, the ideas behind intersectional feminism existed long before the term was coined. For example, in 1851 Sojourner Truth delivered her famous "Ain't I a Woman?" speech, in which she spoke from her racialized position as a former slave to critique essentialist notions of femininity.[24] Similarly, in her 1892 essay, "The Colored Woman's Office," Anna Julia Cooper identifies black women as the most important actors in social change movements, because of their experience with multiple facets of oppression.[25]
According to black feminists and many white feminists, experiences of class, gender, sexuality, etc., cannot be adequately understood unless the influences of racialization are carefully considered. This focus on racialization was highlighted many times by scholar and feminist bell hooks, specifically in her 1981 book Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism.[26] Feminists argue that an understanding of intersectionality is a vital element to gaining political and social equality and improving our democratic system.[27] Collins's theory represents the sociological crossroads between modern and post-modern feminist thought.[22]
Marie-Claire Belleau argues for "strategic intersectionality" in order to foster cooperation between feminisms of different ethnicities.[28]:51 She refers to different nat-cult (national-cultural) groups that produce unique types of feminisms. Using Qu(C)b(C)cois nat-cult as an example, Belleau acknowledges that many nat-cult groups contain infinite sub-identities within themselves. Due to this infinity, she argues that there are endless ways in which different feminisms can cooperate by using strategic intersectionality, and these partnerships can help bridge gaps between "dominant and marginal" groups.[28]:54 Belleau argues that, through strategic intersectionality, differences between nat-cult feminisms are neither essentialist nor universal, but that they should be understood as results of socio-cultural contexts.[28] Furthermore, the performances of these nat-cult feminisms are also not essentialist.[28] Instead, they are strategies.[28]
Marxist-feminist critical theory Edit Collins's intersectionality theory and its relative principles have a wide range of applicability in the sociological realm, especially in topics such as politics and violence (see, for instance, Collins, 1998). The struggle faced by Black women in the economic sector, for example, demonstrates how the interrelated principles of Collins's theory come together to add a new dimension to Marxist economic theory. Collins used her insight and built a dynamic theory of political oppression as related to Black women in particular.
W. E. B. Du Bois theorized that the intersectional paradigms of race, class, and nation might explain certain aspects of black political economy. Collins writes: "Du Bois saw race, class, and nation not primarily as personal identity categories but as social hierarchies that shaped African American access to status, poverty, and power."[22]:44 Du Bois omitted gender from his theory and considered it more of a personal identity category.
Cheryl Townsend Gilkes expands on this by pointing out the value of centering on the experiences of black women. Joy James takes things one step further by "using paradigms of intersectionality in interpreting social phenomena". Collins later integrated these three views by examining a black political economy through both the centering of black women's experiences and using a theoretical framework of intersectionality.[22]:44
Collins uses a Marxist feminist approach and applies her intersectional principles to what she calls the "work/family nexus and black women's poverty". In her 2000 article "Black Political Economy" she describes how the intersections of consumer racism, gender hierarchies, and disadvantages in the labor market can be centered on black women's unique experiences. Considering this from a historical perspective examining interracial marriage laws and property inheritance laws creates what Collins terms a "distinctive work/family nexus that in turn influences the overall patterns of black political economy".[22]:45''46 For example, anti-miscegenation laws effectively suppressed the upward economic mobility of black women.
The intersectionality of race and gender has been shown to have a visible impact on the labor market. "Sociological research clearly shows that accounting for education, experience, and skill does not fully explain significant differences in labor market outcomes."[attribution needed ][7] The three main domains on which we see the impact of intersectionality are wages, discrimination, and domestic labor. Most studies have shown that people who fall into the bottom of the social hierarchy in terms of race or gender are more likely to receive lower wages, to be subjected to stereotypes and discriminated against, or be hired for exploitive domestic positions. Study of the labor market and intersectionality provides a better understanding of economic inequalities and the implications of the multidimensional impact of race and gender on social status within society.[7]
Sexuality and class, in addition to race and gender Edit Though intersectionality began with the exploration of the interplay between gender and race, over time other identities and oppressions were added to the theory. For example, in 1981 Cherr­e Moraga and Gloria Anzaldºa published the first edition of This Bridge Called My Back. This anthology explored how classifications of sexual orientation and class also mix with those of race and gender to create even more distinct political categories. Many black, Latina, and Asian writers featured in the collection stress how their sexuality interacts with their race and gender to inform their perspectives. Similarly, poor women of color detail how their socio-economic status adds a layer of nuance to their identities, unknown to or misunderstood by middle-class white feminists.[29]
Caste and gender Edit Though intersectionality started with race and gender, the race dialogue has been distinct from the element of caste as it plays out in India. In 2016, Kirthi Jayakumar noted the impact of caste in the gendered oppression of women in India in Choice, Circumstance and Consequence,[30] through the example of a Dalit Woman:
As a community of people, they have faced years and years of oppression and marginalization, and are placed vulnerably at the bottom of the hierarchical ladders of India's caste system, class segregations and gender identities. If feminism was not intersectional and looked at her from a choice-consequence dimension, it would view the Dalit Woman as one identifying as a Woman; as one who is vulnerable to violence; as one who is, well, like other women. Intersectional feminism, however, would see her differently. Vulnerable as a woman, disenfranchised as a caste, marginalized as a caste, isolated and oppressed in society and therefore, even more vulnerable than most other women. And there are numbers, facts, stories and truths to back this correct understanding of a Dalit Woman's position. There is enough and more in the form of evidence to show you exactly how Dalit Women are exploited, oppressed, discriminated against, isolated and vulnerable to violence. In a nutshell, not only are they dominated over by men in the power relations of a patriarchal social order, but are also fighting against a toxic hegemonic pillar of power in the form of caste, and coping with the poverty that comes in with a progressively divisive class system. This establishes the circumstance.
Let's say a Dalit Woman and a woman from a caste and class that are higher up (let's call her privileged woman) in the hierarchy are brought into the mix. Let's just say that the both of them have aspirations for their lives ahead, and let's say that they aspire to pursue a course that would make them Mechanical Engineers. (If you raised an eyebrow, check your privilege and break those limiting stereotypes inside your head). The Dalit Woman is encumbered by the burden of a system that started with her exclusion: she had no access to education that would suitably enable her to attempt the entrance exam, which, by the way, is administered in English. But the privileged woman has had the benefit of school, extra classes and access to resources online. They take the test. The privileged woman makes it, but the Dalit Woman doesn't. Strike one. She still harbours some hope, that she will make it in the quotas that have been reserved for a range of castes and classes. But no, she is among the last few in the pecking order, and therefore, waits, and waits, and waits. Strike two. Almost like an afterthought, she is sent an admission letter '' a rarity, for many of her caste are left at the bottom of the pot. But the fee she is expected to pay is the next new hurdle in her path. Where can she afford to pay a year's tuition if her family can't scrape enough to afford a square meal? Strike three. This shows you how constrained choice truly is.
These "choices" are not choices. And so, even without the right to make a choice, she has to bear consequences."[30]
Categorical complexity Edit There are three different approaches to studying intersectionality. The three approaches; anticategorical complexity, intercategorical complexity, and intracategorical complexity, serve to represent the broad spectrum of current methodologies that are used to better understand and apply the intersectionality theory.[15]
Anticategorical complexityThe anticategorical approach is based on the "methodology that deconstructs analytical categories".[15] It argues that social categories are an arbitrary construction of history and language and that they contribute little to understanding the ways in which people experience society.[31][page needed ] Furthermore, the anticategorical approach states that, "inequalities are rooted in relationships that are defined by race, class, sexuality, and gender".[15] Therefore, the only way to eliminate oppression in society is to eliminate the categories used to section people into differing groups. This analysis claims that society is too complex to be reduced down into finite categories and instead recognizes the need for a holistic approach in understanding intersectionality, according to the anticategorical approach.[32]Intercategorical (aka categorical) complexityThe intercategorical approach to intersectionality begins by addressing the fact that inequality exists within society, and then uses this as a basis for discussion of intersectionality.[15] According to intercategorical complexity, "the concern is with the nature of the relationships among social groups and, importantly, how they are changing."[15] Proponents of this methodology use existing categorical distinctions to document inequality across multiple dimensions and measure its change over time.[15]Intracategorical complexityThe intracategorical approach provides a midpoint between the anticategorical and intercategorical approaches.[32] It recognizes the apparent shortcomings of existing social categories, and it questions the way in which they draw boundaries of distinction.[32] This approach does not completely reject the importance of categories like the anticategorical approach, however; the intracategorical approach recognizes the relevance of social categories to the understanding of the modern social experience.[32] Moreover, intracategorical complexity focuses on studying the neglected social groups at the intersection of anticategorical and intercategorical.[15] To reconcile these contrasting views, intracategorical complexity focuses on people who cross the boundaries of constructed categories in an effort to understand the complexity and intersectionality of human interactions.[15]Interlocking matrix of oppression Edit Collins refers to the various intersections of social inequality as the matrix of domination. This is also known as "vectors of oppression and privilege".[33]:204 These terms refer to how differences among people (sexual orientation, class, race, age, etc.) serve as oppressive measures towards women and change the experience of living as a woman in society. Collins, Audre Lorde (in Sister Outsider), and bell hooks point towards either/or thinking as an influence on this oppression and as further intensifying these differences.[34] Specifically, Collins refers to this as the construct of dichotomous oppositional difference. This construct is characterized by its focus on differences rather than similarities.[35]:S20
Colorism[36] is skin tone stratification and it typically has the lighter skin tones at the top of the hierarchy while darker skin tones are treated less favorably and have been denied things allocated to those lighter. In America, a common expression of colorism stems from the notion that some African Americans with lighter complexions have ties to "house slaves" and Africans Americans with darker complexions have ancestral ties to "field slaves".[37] Some implications have been that those in the house were being treated better than those in the field because of the intensity of field labor as well as being inside. However, there are two sides that being a "house slave" came with the danger of being subject to more trauma, such as rape, as well as other dangers of interacting with the white slave owners more often. Colorism also exists strongly today on an everyday level with tangible and long-lasting results, in, for example, the education system. How African Americans and Latino/a students are treated by staff, teachers, administrators, etc. may be biased by the student's skin tone.[38]
Colorism is not a synonym to racism as colorism can occur, and often does, within racial and ethnic groups. The brown paper bag test[39] was used in American for black people to be further divided: those lighter than a brown paper bag were allotted some privilege that those darker were not permitted to. The brown paper bag test and colorism add to the fuel of intersectionality: recognizing the different identities of an individual in order to better understand one's lived experiences which can be different by race, gender, sexuality, as well as color,[40] amongst other qualities. The brown paper bag test is not used outright today but there are still implications of colorism; for example in media, lighter skin black females are often more sexualized than their darker counterparts.[41]
Standpoint epistemology and the outsider within Edit Both Collins and Dorothy Smith have been instrumental in providing a sociological definition of standpoint theory. A standpoint is an individual's unique world perspective. The theoretical basis of this approach views societal knowledge as being located within an individual's specific geographic location. In turn, knowledge becomes distinctly unique and subjective; it varies depending on the social conditions under which it was produced.[42]:392
The concept of the outsider within refers to a unique standpoint encompassing the self, family, and society.[35]:S14 This relates to the specific experiences to which people are subjected as they move from a common cultural world (i.e., family) to that of the modern society.[33]:207 Therefore, even though a woman'--especially a Black woman'--may become influential in a particular field, she may feel as though she does not belong. Their personalities, behaviors, and cultural beings overshadow their value as an individual; thus, they become the outsider within.[35]:S14
Resisting oppression Edit Speaking from a critical standpoint, Collins points out that Brittan and Maynard claim "domination always involves the objectification of the dominated; all forms of oppression imply the devaluation of the subjectivity of the oppressed."[35]:S18 She later notes that self-valuation and self-definition are two ways of resisting oppression. Participating in self-awareness methods helps to preserve the self-esteem of the group that is being oppressed and help them avoid any dehumanizing outside influences.
Marginalized groups often gain a status of being an "other."[35]:S18 In essence, you are "an other" if you are different from what Audre Lorde calls the mythical norm. "Others" are virtually anyone that differs from the societal schema of an average white male. Gloria Anzaldºa theorizes that the sociological term for this is "othering", or specifically attempting to establish a person as unacceptable based on a certain criterion that fails to be met.[33]:205
Individual subjectivity is another concern for marginalized groups. Differences can be used as a weapon of self-devaluation by internalizing stereotypical societal views, thus leading to a form of psychological oppression. The point Collins effectively makes is that having a sense of self-value and a stable self-definition not obtained from outside influences helps to overcome these oppressive societal methods of domination.
Some scholars have called for the inclusion of practices in the political world,[43] education[15][25][44] healthcare,[45][full citation needed ][46] employment, wealth, and property.[47] Within the institution of education, Sandra Jones' research on working class women in academia takes in to consideration meritocracy within all social strata, but argues that it is complicated by race and the external forces that oppress.[44] In the systems of healthcare and people of color, researchers found that six months after 9/11, an increase in low birth weight in children whose parents have Arab- or Muslim-sounding names, and not children of any other identified racial group.[48] Some researchers have also argued that immigration policies can affect health outcomes through mechanisms such as stress, restrictions on access to health care, and the social determinants of health.[46]
Additionally applications with regard to property and wealth can be traced to the American historical narrative that is filled "with tensions and struggles over property'--in its various forms. From the removal of Indians (and later Japanese Americans) from the land, to military conquest of the Mexicans, to the construction of Africans as property the ability to define, possess, and own property has been a central feature of power in America ... [and where] social benefits accrue largely to property owners."[47] One would apply the intersectionality framework analysis to various areas where race, class, gender, sexuality and ability are affected by policies, procedures, practices, and laws in "context-specific inquiries, including, for example, analyzing the multiple ways that race and gender interact with class in the labor market; interrogating the ways that states constitute regulatory regimes of identity, reproduction, and family formation";[49] and examining the inequities in "the power relations [of the intersectionality] of whiteness ... [where] the denial of power and privilege ... of whiteness, and middle-classness", while not addressing "the role of power it wields in social relations."[50]
Policies, practices, procedures, and laws Edit Intersectionality applies in real world systems within policies, practices, procedures, and laws in the context of political and structural inequalities. Examples include:
Voting Rights Act, Section 5On June 25, 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, the United States Supreme Court invalidated the formula used to determine which states are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This decision no longer requires pre-approval by certain states to change voting rules. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Section 5 has blocked laws established in 2012 that restricted voting rights for those of color, the elderly, the disabled and college students in Texas, South Carolina and Florida. After this decision, the Department of Justice sought to block North Carolina's restrictive voting laws.[51]School-to-Prison-PipelineZero-tolerance policies in schools have led to a significant increase in disciplinary actions that involve law enforcement officers. A school district in Mississippi has police arrest students for minor classroom disruptions, and a school district in Alabama has a police officer on campus in all high schools. Racial minorities and children with disabilities are often subjected to this institutional system of structural inequality disproportionately to white and able-bodied children.[52]Social work Edit In the field of social work, proponents of intersectionality hold that unless service providers take intersectionality into account, they will be of less use, and may in fact be detrimental, for various segments of the population. They must be aware of the seemingly unrelated factors that can impact a person's life and adapt their methods accordingly. For instance, according to intersectionality, the advice of domestic violence counselors in the United States urging all women to report their abusers to police would be of little use to women of color due to the history of racially motivated police brutality, and those counselors should adapt their counseling for women of color.
Women with disabilities encounter more frequent domestic abuse with a greater number of abusers. Health care workers and personal care attendants perpetrated abuse in these circumstances, and women with disabilities have fewer options for escaping the abusive situation. There is a "silence" principle concerning the intersectionality of women and disability, which maintains that there is an overall social denial of the prevalence of the abused and disabled and this abuse is frequently ignored when encountered.[citation needed ] A paradox is presented by the overprotection of people with disabilities combined with the expectations of promiscuous behavior of disabled women.[citation needed ] This is met with limitations of autonomy and isolation of the individuals, which place women with disabilities in situations where further or more frequent abuse can occur.[53]
Psychology Edit Researchers in psychology have incorporated intersection effects since the 1950s, before the work of Patricia Hill Collins. Psychology often does through via the lens of biases, heuristics, stereotypes and judgements. Psychological interactions effects span a range of variables, although person by situation effects are the most examined category. As a result, psychologists do not construe the interaction effect of demographics such as gender and race as either more noteworthy or less noteworthy than any other interaction effect. In addition, oppression is a subjective construct, and even if an objective definition were reached person-by-situation effects would make it difficult to deem certain persons as uniformly oppressed. For instance, black men are stereotypically perceived as violent, which may be a disadvantage in police interactions, or attractive,[54][55] which may be advantageous in courtship.[56]
Psychological studies have been shown that the effect of "oppressed" identities is not necessarily additive, but rather interact in complex ways. For instance, black gay men may be more positively evaluated than black straight men, because the "feminine" aspects of the gay stereotype tempers the hypermasculine and aggressive aspect of the black stereotype.[56][57]
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. PMID 22347504. ^ Lewis, Michael B. (January 2011). "Who is the fairest of them all? Race, attractiveness and skin color sexual dimorphism". Personality and Individual Differences. Elsevier. 50 (2): 159''162. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.09.018. ^ ab Pedulla, David S. (March 2014). "The positive consequences of negative stereotypes: race, sexual orientation, and the job application process". Social Psychology Quarterly. Sage. 77 (1): 75''94. doi:10.1177/0190272513506229. ^ Remedios, Jessica D.; Chasteen, Alison L.; Rule, Nicholas O.; Plaks, Jason E. (November 2011). "Impressions at the intersection of ambiguous and obvious social categories: Does gay + Black = likable?". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Elsevier. 47 (6): 1312''1315. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.05.015. Bates, Laura (31 March 2014). "Sexism, double discrimination and more than one kind of prejudice". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Clarke, Averil Y.; McCall, Leslie (2013). "Intersectionality and social explanation in social science research". Du Bois review: Social science research on race. 10 (2): 349''363. doi:10.1017/S1742058X13000325. Collins, Patricia Hill; Andersen, Margaret L. (2015) [1992]. Race, class, & gender: an anthology. Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-305-09361-4. Collins, Patricia Hill (2009) [1990]. Black feminist thought: knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-96472-2. Collins, Patricia Hill; Bilge, Sirma (2016). Intersectionality. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. ISBN 978-0-7456-8448-2. Collins, Patricia Hill (1998). "The tie that binds: race, gender and US violence". Ethnic and Racial Studies. Taylor & Francis. 21 (5): 917''938. doi:10.1080/014198798329720. Doucet, Andrea; Siltanen, Janet (2008). Gender relations in Canada: intersectionality and beyond. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-542320-4. Don, Giorgia (March 2013). "Interconnected modernities, ethnic relations and violence". Current Sociology, special issue: Violence and Society. Sage. 61 (2): 226''243. doi:10.1177/0011392112456507. Harnois, Catherine E. (2010). "Race, Gender, and the Black Women's Standpoint". Sociological Forum. Wiley. 25 (1): 68''85. doi:10.1111/j.1573-7861.2009.01157.x. Hancock, Ange-Marie (2016). Intersectionality: an intellectual history. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-937037-5. OCLC 941724695. K¶llen, Thomas (2014). "A review of minority stress related to employees' demographics and the development of an intersectional framework for their coping strategies in the workplace"(PDF) . The Role of Demographics in Occupational Stress and Well Being. Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being. 12. Emerald. pp. 41''82. doi:10.1108/S1479-355520140000012000. ISBN 978-1-78350-646-0. Lee, Butch; Rover, Red (1993). Night-vision: illuminating war & class on the neo-colonial terrain. New York: Vagabond. ISBN 978-1-883780-00-5. N­ Aolin, Fionnuala; Rooney, Eilish (December 2007). "Underenforcement and intersectionality: gendered aspects of transition for women". International Journal of Transitional Justice. Oxford Journals. 1 (3): 338''354. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijm031. Robertson, Eleanor (23 December 2013). "In defence of intersectionality '' one of feminism's most important tools". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Schuster, Julia (September''October 2016). "Intersectional expectations: young feminists' perceived failure at dealing with differences and their retreat to individualism". Women's Studies International Forum. 58: 1''8. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2016.04.007. Smooth, Wendy (September 2006). "Intersectionality in electoral politics: a mess worth making". Politics & Gender. Cambridge Journals. 2 (3): 400''414. doi:10.1017/S1743923X06261087. Sunderland, Jane (April 2012). "' Brown Sugar': The textual construction of femininity in two 'tiny texts' ". Gender and Language. Equinox. 6 (1): 105''129. doi:10.1558/genl.v6i1.105. Vidal, Ava (15 January 2014). "' Intersectional feminism'. What the hell is it? (And why you should care)". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Weldon, S. Laurel (June 2006). "The structure of intersectionality: a comparative politics of gender". Politics & Gender. Cambridge Journals. 2 (2): 235''248. doi:10.1017/S1743923X06231040. Guti(C)rrez y Muhs, Gabriella; Niemann, Yolanda Flores; Gonzlez, Carmen G.; Harris, Angela P., eds. (2012). Presumed incompetent: the intersections of race and class for women in academia. Boulder, Colorado: University Press of Colorado. ISBN 978-0-87421-923-7.
How to Sue for Emotional Distress | LegalMatch Law Library
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 12:35
Legal Topics > Personal Injury and Health > Intentional Injuries > Emotional Distress
Locate a Local Personal Injury LawyerWhat Is Emotional Distress?Emotional distress is a state of mental suffering caused by an extreme experience. The mental suffering may include issues such as anxiety, panic, self-guilt, suicidal thoughts, and depression. Emotional distress us typically given to a person who has suffered physical or mental harm resulted from a intentional or accidental injury.
When the emotional distress has caused physical harm, the case would be easier to win because of the obvious evidence. However, when the emotional distress is only emotional, recovery in those situations are harder to prove unless the plaintiff proves that the defendant's conduct was very outrageous and extreme.
When Can I Bring a Emotional Distress Claim?Whether you can recover damages for emotional distress in a lawsuit will depend upon state laws and the facts of the case. An emotional distress claim is usually brought by plaintiffs who have suffered extreme emotional suffering and trauma resulted from an intentional or accidental injury.
In several states, a physical injury must actually cause the emotional distress. In a minority of states, no physical injury is required if the emotional distress was caused by negligence.
In general, you can sue for emotional distress when:
You witness the death or injury of a family member.You are a bystander to an event that causes fear of death or injury and you are actually in the "zone of danger."The deceased body of a family member is mishandled.Note that persons in a "fragile class" are more likely to recover for suffering emotional distress (i.e., children, elderly persons, and pregnant women). However, individuals who are unusually sensitive or delicate (known as "eggshell plaintiffs") may not be entitled to emotional distress.
How Do I Prove an Emotional Distress Claim?To prove that you suffered emotional distress, you should provide supporting evaluations from a doctor or a psychologist. You should show that your suffering is ongoing and that it is serious (e.g. a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder). In some cases, it is also necessary for you to show a serious accompanying bodily injury.
If the defendant's conduct was intentional, a plaintiff may claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. In this situation the plaintiff must prove:
Defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageousDefendant's conduct caused you to suffer some kind of emotional harmIn order to prove that the defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageous, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant's behavior was unacceptable and uncivilized behavior that a reasonable person in the plaintiff's position would believe the conduct was extreme and outrageous. Plaintiff's sensitivity is irrelevant since the standard is viewed objectively.
What Are the Different Types of Emotional Distress Claims?There are several ways in which emotional distress issue may be brought up in the court of law:
Intentional infliction of emotional distressNegligent infliction of emotional distressParasitic emotional distress (accompanying bodily injury)Using emotional distress to get damages for "pain and suffering"Using emotional distress to recover damages for "loss of consortium"Seeking Legal HelpSince the laws concerning emotional distress are complex and vary from state to state, you should speak with a qualified personal injury lawyer. There are several different ways a plaintiff can recover for emotional distress and an experienced personal injury lawyer would be beneficial.
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Legal Dictionary | Law.com - Damages
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 12:34
damages n. the amount of money which a plaintiff (the person suing) may be awarded in a lawsuit. There are many types of damages. Special damages are those which actually were caused by the injury and include medical and hospital bills, ambulance charges, loss of wages, property repair or replacement costs or loss of money due on a contract. The second basic area of damages are general damages, which are presumed to be a result of the other party's actions, but are subjective both in nature and determination of value of damages. These include pain and suffering, future problems and crippling effect of an injury, loss of ability to perform various acts, shortening of life span, mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of reputation (in a libel suit, for example), humiliation from scars, loss of anticipated business and other harm. The third major form of damage is exemplary (or punitive) damages, which combines punishment and the setting of public example. Exemplary damages may be awarded when the defendant acted in a malicious, violent, oppressive, fraudulent, wanton or grossly reckless way in causing the special and general damages to the plaintiff. On occasion punitive damages can be greater than the actual damages, as, for example, in a sexual harassment case or fraudulent schemes. Although often asked for, they are seldom awarded. Nominal damages are those given when the actual harm is minor and an award is warranted under the circumstances. The most famous case was when Winston Churchill was awarded a shilling (about 25 cents) against author Louis Adamic, who had written that the British Prime Minister had been drunk at a dinner at the White House. Liquidated damages are those pre-set by the parties in a contract to be awarded in case one party defaults as in breach of contract.
Legal Dictionary | Law.com
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 12:33
emotional distress n. an increasingly popular basis for a claim of damages in lawsuits for injury due to the negligence or intentional acts of another. Originally damages for emotional distress were only awardable in conjunction with damages for actual physical harm. Recently courts in many states, including New York and California, have recognized a right to an award of money damages for emotional distress without physical injury or contact. In sexual harassment claims, emotional distress can be the major, or even only, harmful result. In most jurisdictions, emotional distress cannot be claimed for breach of contract or other business activity, but can be alleged in cases of libel and slander. Evidentiary problems include the fact that such distress is easily feigned or exaggerated, and professional testimony by a therapist or psychiatrist may be required to validate the existence and depth of the distress and place a dollar value upon it.
Primary and secondary gain - Wikipedia
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 13:45
Primary morbid gain or secondary morbid gain are used in medicine to describe the significant subconscious psychological motivators patients may have when presenting with symptoms. It is important to note that if these motivators are recognized by the patient, and especially if symptoms are fabricated or exaggerating for personal gain, then this is instead considered malingering.
Primary morbid gain produces positive internal motivations. For example, a patient might feel guilty about being unable to perform some task. If a medical condition justifying an inability is present, it may lead to decreased psychological stress. Primary gain can be a component of any disease, but is most typically demonstrated in conversion disorder '' a psychiatric disorder in which stressors manifest themselves as physical symptoms without organic causes, such as a person who becomes blindly inactive after seeing a murder. The "gain" may not be particularly evident to an outside observer.
Secondary morbid gain can also be a component of any disease, but is an external motivator. If a patient's disease allows him/her to miss work, avoid military duty, obtain financial compensation, obtain drugs, or avoid a jail sentence, these would be examples of a secondary gain. An example would be an individual having stomach cramps when household chores are completed by a family. In the context of a person with a significant mental or psychiatric disability, this effect is sometimes called secondary handicap.[1]
Tertiary morbid gain, a less well-studied process, is when a third party such as a relative or friend is motivated to gain sympathy or other benefits from the illness of the victim.
^ Jones, Robert, Carmel Harrison, and Melany Ball. "Secondary Handicap & Learning Disability: A Component Analysis." Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 2008, 5, 300-311.
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Report: Caitlyn Jenner Plans Nude Photo Shoot after Gender Reassignment Surgery
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:53
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According to the Daily Mail, Jenner's son Brody Jenner says the former Olympian's forthcoming photo shoot has infuriated the Kardashian clan.
''Brody told them that Caitlyn has planned and booked a full nude photo shoot and they were like, that's unacceptable, it's taking things too far,'' a source told the Mail.
''They're hoping the shoot doesn't come to pass because that would be their worst nightmare,'' the source added. ''Taking it to that level and unveiling her [new body] with a fully naked photo spread is going way too far.''
In a new memoir, Jenner '-- who was previously known as Bruce Jenner '-- reveals details about the reported $20,000 surgery.
''The surgery was a success, and I feel not only wonderful but liberated,''the 67-year-old former gold medalist writes, adding that the book will address every question that went unanswered after Jenner came out as transgender in a blockbuster interview with Diane Sawyer in 2015.
''I am telling you because I believe in candor. So all of you can stop staring. You want to know, so now you know. Which is why this is the first time, and the last time, I will ever speak of it,'' Jenner writes.
Meanwhile, Kris Jenner has blasted her ex's memoir, saying it's ''all made up.''
''I read it and basically the only nice thing she had to say was that I was great socially at a party one time '.... Everything she says is all made up,'' Kris Jenner explains to her daughters Khlo(C) and Kim Kardashian in a preview for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.'' Why does everything have to be that Kris is such a bitch and an a**hole?''
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Students who avoid making eye contact could be guilty of racism, Oxford University says
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 20:01
S tudents who avoid making eye contact with their peers could be guilty of racism, according to Oxford University's latest guidance.
The university's Equality and Diversity Unit has advised students that ''not speaking directly to people'' could be deemed a ''racial microaggression'' which can lead to ''mental ill-health''.
Other examples of ''everyday racism'' include asking someone where they are ''originally'' from, students were told.
Oxford University's Equality and Diversity Unit explains in its Trinity term newsletter that "some people who do these things may be entirely well-meaning, and would be mortified to realise that they had caused offence.
''But this is of little consequence if a possible effect of their words or actions is to suggest to people that they may fulfil a negative stereotype, or do not belong''.
U niversities have been accused of pandering to the ''snowflake generation'' of students, who are seen as over-sensitive and quick to take offence.
Dr Joanna Williams, a lecturer in higher education the University of Kent, said the guidance was ''completely ridiculous'' and will make students ''hyper-sensitive'' about how they interact with one another.
''Essentially people are being accused of a thought crime,'' Dr Williams told The Telegraph. ''They are being accused of thinking incorrect thoughts based on an assumption of where they may or may not be looking.''
Dr Williams, who is author of Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity, said that Oxford University's guidance was ''overstepping the mark'' by telling students ''how they should feel and think''.
S he said: ''Instead of people seeing each other as potential friends, equals, these re-racialise academia, they force people to see each other as a person of colour, they force people to be put into boxes about identity.
''It is really problematic - it means people can't relate to each other naturally, they have rules in the back of their mind and they can't be spontaneous as their interactions are all overlaid with the desire to follow all these rules.''
L ast year Oxford law students were told they could skip lectures covering violent cases if they feared the content would be too ''distressing''.
Earlier this year it emerged that Cardiff Metropolitan University banned phrases such as ''right-hand man'' and ''gentleman's agreement'' under its code of practice on inclusive language.
The university guidance dictates that ''gender-neutral'' terms should be used where possible, adding that students should not allow their ''cultural background'' to affect their choice of words.
T he University of Glasgow has started issuing ''trigger warnings'' for theology students studying the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, whereby students are told they may see distressing images and are given the opportunity to leave.
The term "snowflake generation" was one of Collins Dictionary's 2016 words of the year. Collins defines the term as "the young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations".
An Oxford University spokesman said: ''The Equality and Diversity Unit works with University bodies to ensure that the University's pursuit of excellence goes hand in hand with freedom from discrimination and equality of opportunity. The newsletter is one way of advising and supporting staff towards achieving these aims.''
Fediverse
SJW's will flock once they know they can be victimized
Mourning Mastodon '' ALLIE ''¤ HART '' Medium
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 12:57
W hat follows is an attempt to come to terms with a loss that I have found myself grappling with over the past several weeks; the focus of this loss being the fledgling software Mastodon, a user of which I have been for quite some time. For the uninitiated, Mastodon is a free and open-source server software designed for communicating with and participating in the large, nebulous social-media network colloquially known as ''the fediverse''; in very recent times, it has found itself the subject of a surprising level of journalism, hailed frequently as the (enlightened, doomed, sometimes both) successor to Twitter and its ilk. This characterization is not wholly accurate: Mastodon is not, strictly speaking, Twitter's successor so much as its replacement: Inheriting none of Twitter's business models or strategies, it provides a non-commercial alternative to Twitter's service without replicating its model. In this it is not alone: Mastodon is but one in a number of implementations of the open network protocol known as OStatus, and Mastodon servers are able to more-or-less seamlessly communicate with other servers in the network.
In part as consequence of the aforementioned media attention, and in part because of a few high-profile users who have spread knowledge of the network through word-of-mouth, the OStatus network and Mastodon in particular have recently experienced remarkable growth'Š'--'Šat the time of writing, instances using the Mastodon software numbered over 1000, each hosting anywhere from a single user to tens of thousands. If the OStatus network is a ''fediverse,'' Mastodon servers themselves certainly make up a large galaxy, each instance its own planet with any number of users orbiting around.
On beholding this incredible expansion, one might expect to experience a sense of wonderment and mystery'Š'--'Šthe excitement and joy of an unknown frontier, or a newfound popularity. That I should instead find myself stricken with melancholia suggests that this transition has been less than benign. Almost overnight, Mastodon has found itself shattered, fragmented, beside and unknown to itself, and in this turmoil, I fear that certain elements have disappeared from view; indeed, I find myself questioning whether any semblance of them still remains.
Of what do I speak? Put simply: the very spirit of the project itself. With no explicit goals or mission statement, the Mastodon project was instead strongly conditioned by the circumstances and community which it cultivated and served, an arrangement which, due to its growing popularity and changing demographics, exists no longer. What fate this will spell for the software moving forward is unclear, but that this original community was largely queer and deeply motivated by ideas of social justice only makes its loss that much harder to bear.
In proclaiming the death of Mastodon's soul, however, I knowingly enter into a genre of criticism which is frequently characterized by bitter conservatism, in which any and all growth and change is cast aside as a foul taint, tarnishing the divine inspiration and ideals of its original conception; it is not my intent to follow this path. The changes which have come to the Mastodon platform in the past few weeks have been both good and necessary, and I am of the opinion that further changes will be required moving forward. But acknowledging the strength of these changes does not require admitting that they came without harm. To the contrary: I am of the belief that Mastodon's present iteration came precisely at the cost of the community which birthed it, that this expense was both egregious and unnecessary, and that the extraction of this toll is doomed to continue unless definite steps are taken to rectify this situation in the future.
I will present this argument in three parts. In the first section, I will analyse the history of the Mastodon project in an attempt to better understand the forces from which it emerged and the community on which it relied. Far from being a complete piece of software which sprung whole and clean from its creator's mind, the history of Mastodon is one of negotiation, turmoil, progress, and change. By better understanding the contingent nature of the software's features, we will be able to more accurately characterize the driving forces behind the project as a whole.
In the second section, I will turn a more critical gaze on this history, deconstructing the power imbalances inherent in its structures and making note of their impact on the project's development. Many of these inequities have gone heretofore unacknowledged, and have been made clear only in retrospect after the circumstances surrounding them have changed. Nevertheless, their impact remains.
In the final section, I will lay out a series of demands regarding the practices of the Mastodon project, moving forward. Having identified the importance of the project's original queer community and acknowledged the oppressive structures under which they have and continue to operate, these demands aim at achieving justice for both this community in particular, and other marginalized groups as well.
I will stake these claims not on the basis of being a developer'Š'--'Šfor, although I have in small ways contributed to Mastodon development, the sum total of these contributions are rather minor and hardly worthy of note'Š'--'Šbut as a user, who has been on the network since nearly the beginning, which is to say, November. Consequently, my critiques will not be technical (which is not to say that there are not technical critiques to be made), but rather will reflect the social, political, and cultural contexts from which Mastodon emerged and in which the software now resides. It is my hope that the analysis contained herein will help software projects like Mastodon continue to grow and thrive, with an eye to the ethical ramifications of their procedures and to the confines of their success.
D espite Mastodon being only half a year old, I find myself far from the first author anticipating its demise'Š'--'Šwith networks like Ello and Peach still fresh on everyone's mind, those quick to point out its flaws are dime-a-dozen, usually taking the form of journalists who have little used, or taken the time to understand the history of, the software. These being above-all-else tech journalists, their criticisms are generally technological, bemoaning Mastodon-as-software's lack of features, inability to scale, or the informal, non-corporate nature of its development as the Achilles heel foreshadowing its inevitable downfall.
This is not the argument I am trying to make, not the least of all because it isn't true. The technological side of Mastodon is, by all available metrics, thriving and full of life. In the past week alone, the Mastodon repository on GitHub has merged 258 out of 298 active pull requests, and closed as many issues as were opened. Over 100 users pushed nearly 300 commits, and the lead developer's Patreon currently brings in a monthly wage of over $3,000. The most important marker signalling the success of the project, the dedication and commitment of its userbase, has held strong since the program's inception, and it seems clear that, for the foreseeable future at least, Mastodon-as-software is here to stay.
But we are not tech journalists (or at least, not all of us are), and need not confine ourselves to so restrictive a definition. Indeed, there is no reason for us to assume that the success of a project is reducible to that of the technologies it produces, or even that one might not thrive while the other falters. But what, then, comprises a project?
Whatever else it may be, Mastodon-the-project is the author from which Mastodon-the-technology emerged, and so perhaps by considering the nature of the latter we might be able to shed some light on the former. We can immediately note two things: First, that as a technological product, the Mastodon software is necessarily a product of labor, and thus, by extension, of the conditions of labor which lead to its development; second, that as a social network software, Mastodon necessarily anticipates (and, through its deployment, creates) a community, as without an (at the very least, imagined) community, the project of building a social network becomes unintelligible. As a free and open-source project, these two definitions are deeply intertwined with one another: The labor from which Mastodon was born has and will always draw from and be conditioned by the community which it serves. And while I am not attempting to make the claim that the Mastodon project as a whole is reducible to simply a particular community, laboring under a particular set of conditions, certainly these things form an essential part without which the project would be no more.
The usefulness of this definition becomes apparent when we compare Mastodon to other implementations of the OStatus protocol'Š'--'Šfor convenience, GNU Social. Like Mastodon, GNU Social is a part of the fediverse, and from a technological standpoint, the two pieces of software are not so different'Š'--'Šby necessity, they are similar enough to be more-or-less interoperable. However, the cultural context and conditions of labor of these projects differ so wildly that the two seem to perpetually find themselves in conflict with one another, with GNU Social users frequently complaining about Mastodon's Patreon monetization and ''trigger-happy'' approach to censorship, and Mastodon users lamenting GNU Social's light stance towards moderation and ''we were here first'' demeanor. Neither project would happily be conflated with the other.
Consequently, when I suggest that Mastodon has died, or is soon to perish, I am not predicting that the technology or software is going to fail, or even that its development is about to cease. Rather, I am pointing to the fact that the community and conditions of labor under which the software was created have now been supplanted, perhaps irrevocably, and in a manner so complete and extreme that very little of the original project remains. That Mastodon as we know it today descended from the fledgling social network of the past is indisputable fact; that they are one and the same is hardly a given. Rather, it seems to me as if the modern Mastodon has killed and replaced its former self.
But let us not speak so readily in abstractions. Proceeding again from the hope that by working backwards from Mastodon-the-software we might learn something about Mastodon-the-project, I will now enumerate those aspects of Mastodon which seem to me to define the service, and trace these back in an attempt to understand the conditions which brought them to surface. Surely, if there is a thing which we can call ''the Mastodon project,'' it will be found there.
I will categorize these into two groups. The first contains those features which have been a part of Mastodon since more-or-less ''the beginning''; we might think of these as Mastodon's conditions of birth:
Support for federation/OStatusThe (global/federated) public timelineGeneral account and post actions (posting, replying, following, liking, reblogging, etc.)The prime instance (mastodon.social)'s strong stance against Nazism and harassmentAccount blocking (at the time, a ''soft block'')500-character postsSupport for sensitive mediaThe remaining features were instead added after the project was well underway, and might be considered its life developments:
Per-post privacy settingsContent warningsLocked accountsPrivate posts''Hard'' account blocking and account mutingThe local timelineThe welcome modalThis second category is the one with which we are concerned. While the initial conditions of the Mastodon project can make for interesting study, it is the way that the project has grown and evolved from this point that best characterize its qualities. It is the nature of software development that the historical contexts from which features emerge are often erased, and for users who joined Mastodon during or after its latest boom, the idea that there was once a time in which post privacy was determined on a per-account, rather than a per-post, basis might seem difficult to fathom. So allow me a moment to elucidate on these developments here.
When I first arrived on Mastodon on November 23, it in essence a better-moderated, less private version of Twitter. Accounts could be made either ''public'''Š'--'Šwhich meant that their posts would appear on the public timeline and in hashtag searches'Š'--'Šor ''private'''Š'--'Šwhich meant that they wouldn't. At this time, replies were not excluded from the public timeline results, and massive reply-chains formed as users jumped freely into ongoing conversations happening on public accounts.
This system, surprisingly, worked for the first few days, until November 25 rolled around'Š'--'Šas some might remember, the day Fidel Castro died. Political flamewars engulfed the site. The very next day, the project's lead developer pushed a commit to hide replies from the public timeline, and shortly after made post ''privacy'' a per-post setting. Now that it was easier to do so, and to prevent further flare-ups in the future, the community largely agreed to the practice of keeping politics off the public timeline.
Of course, this agreement didn't last. As political developments occurred around the world, some users (especially newer ones who had not been around during the Castro debacle) would inevitably feel the news too important to keep behind closed doors, and after a number of similar but smaller disruptions the community worked itself out a compromise: Politics, suggestive/lewd content, and other potentially unsavory material would be allowed on the public timeline only insofar as it was presented in a manner such that the casual observer would not be disturbed; the ROT13 cipher quickly emerged as the preferred mechanism for this, and bookmarklets and conversion tools abounded. Within a month the public timeline was filled to the brim with garbled, ROT13'd text, to the extent that getting started guides of the time had to include a section to explain them. When content warnings were added near the end of January, it was not only as a more robust solution to the problem but to prevent new users inevitably being greeted with grkg jevggra va guvf znaare.
Meanwhile, problems with harassment meant that locked accounts and private toots, features initially resisted on account of their difficulty federating, could no longer be avoided, and implementations for each were developed near the end of December. Mastodon's ''soft block'' became hard and a ''mute'' functionality was added (much later) as a less-extreme alternative. After a massive schism around race and politics led to the creation of awoo.space and drove many POC off the site, ''report'' functionality was added and the local timeline was finally implemented to allow finer community control and practices moving forward. Prior to the massive influx of new users in April, users were welcomed to the site by volunteers and through hashtags like #welcome and #introductions; only after the rate of new users became too large to handle was a welcome modal introduced to assist with onboarding.
From these stories one might notice two things: First, that far from being the product of enlightened and planned foresight, new features were added to Mastodon generally after their moment of need first arose, and even then frequently only after a good deal of strife; second, that in every case these features were the result of deliberate requests from members of the community, many of whom directly contributed to the push for solutions by writing code and submitting pull requests through the project's GitHub site. It is no exaggeration to say that the community which Mastodon served for its first six months made it what it is today.
What of this community? What was it like? Well: ''Welcome to mastodon.social, here's a copy of the Communist Manifesto and your fursuit,'' or so the (oft-repeated) saying went, underscoring the deeply leftist, kink-positive and often furry nature of its core base. Often these users were lesbian, gay, bi, or pan; frequently they were trans and/or nonbinary; many dealt with disabilities; many were victims of harassment. Certainly, the most vocal and most frequent of Mastodon's unpaid contributors seemed to invariably fall into one or more of these categories.
To say that these users formed the flesh and blood of the project is no overstatement: They structured its community, they funded its development, they volunteered their own labor. Insofar as Mastodon is presently successful, it is so through their (largely unacknowledged) continual support and efforts, at once critiquing and building up the program to reach new heights.
To say that Mastodon has died is to say that this body has ceased to be maintained.
T he power inequities inherent in the Mastodon project were not initially made clear. Mastodon's community was largely queer and, consequently, so was its funding, and so were most of its software contributors. Queer ideas surfaced, queer code was writ, queer technology resulted. Many users looked into the software and saw themselves reflected back. There did not seem to be any cause for alarm.
Of course, in retrospect, it becomes clear that only some queer ideas were implemented, only some queer code made it into production, and the image which resulted reflected not the community's desires as a whole, but rather the choice selections thereof, those pickings which had been deemed suitable for mass-production. At the time it was easy to miss: This creator's code got merged! This community member's idea finally got made! Every week brought new victories. For a project that had only been in existence for a few months, the solving of the remaining issues seemed to come down to only a matter of time.
Looking back, however, it is easy to see that not every idea was destined to be picked up on. Pinned posts, in addition to or instead of a larger bio space, were immediately identified as an important concern, both for users who needed to provide in-depth information about themselves or their needs, and for artists who wanted to include a work or link that could then be quickly viewed and reblogged. Support for displaying pronouns and other metadata in their own section on user's account pages was proposed, and a mockup created, in late November. A robust system for federated private posts, ideally in addition to unlisted posts which are nonrebloggable, became a request the moment private posts were implemented, as the current situation locked users onto the same instances as their friends. Ever since the first 500-line post appeared in the public timeline, users have asked for a way of collapsing overlong posts; a pull request to address this problem was proposed but not merged. Adding custom alt-text for images, in a similar manner to Twitter's image descriptions, was identified as an important feature for improving website accessibility. Supporting quote-reblogs, or at least providing notifications when a link to someone's post was posted, was considered by many users an important safety feature, while self-untagging was determined an important usability concern. Support for lists and mutuals-only posts were proposed as enhancements on Mastodon's existing privacy settings, and instance-level blocks were seen as a requirement for controlling who had access to a users' data. Support for multiple accounts, account migration and data exporting features were proposed as ways of preventing users from being locked into a single instance. Every one of these features remains unimplemented at time of writing (and the list goes on).
Naturally, not every idea is necessarily a good one, and the fact that not all suggestions have received implementations is not necessarily evidence of nefarious forces at work. Mastodon is a largely-volunteer open-source project with limited time and resources, and it is understandable that certain ideas would take time to reach fruition. However, I bring up such long-standing issues because they begin to hint at a disconnect between Mastodon's original base and those calling its shots'Š'--'Šbetween its body and its head, so to speak. Although the queer community on Mastodon made up a significant portion of its early adopters and have contributed to the project in meaningful ways, they have never held any real decision-making power. The fact that it often took near-catastrophe for their suggestions to be heeded is a testament to this fact.
The consequence of this structure was a situation not unlike Twitter, or Facebook, or other larger platforms, in which users dealing with oppression'Š'--'Šincluding those who are queer, but also including people of color, disabled users, and victims of harassment'Š'--'Šwere constantly engaged, consciously or not, in a battle for recognition and validation, both of themselves (who were frequently left out of the narrative when it came to Mastodon development) and of their needs and ideas. It seemed as though every new Mastodon feature needed a subsequent patch because it had been designed with too low of color contrast for users who are visually impaired, and this is but one example out of many.
Given their large numbers among Mastodon's early adopters, this arrangement was workable for queer users of the site for some time'Š'--'Šas they formed its largest and most influential community and both funded and contributed to the labor behind the project, they held some amount of sway over the product which resulted. (Not so for users marginalized along other axes, who were on more than one occasion driven from the site.) It was not possible to excise, or even ignore the queer community from the Mastodon project, because the queer community was the Mastodon project'Š'--'Šthe inspiration and unpaid labor of the project, anyway.
This is no longer the case. The recent influx of users to the platform has brought with it new contributors and an expanded revenue stream that has rendered the original nearly obsolete. Queer users could leave en masse without harming the project's survivability, which means that the reciprocity of their relationship has been terminated'Š'--'Šqueer users still depend on the project, but the project no longer depends on its queer users. This is, undoubtedly, a dangerous situation.
It was also a preventable one. The relationship between Mastodon and its queer community has always been a negative one: They have worked together not for their mutual benefit, but to prevent their shared destruction. We can see this pattern in the list of ideas which received adoption and in the history behind their development and the network's spread. However, there is no strong reason why this needed to be the case. Had Mastodon given queer contributors the ability to make executive decisions regarding the project, the community could have reached a place where it was no longer in peril. Had it implemented support for data exporting and account migration, it could have eased their dependence on the platform.
Instead, we have a diaspora of users, locked into accounts and instances and networks, a disparate but entrenched community on a platform which no longer needs them. For users who have spent months building up friendships and communities and networks of support, they simply have nowhere else to go. What was once the heart and soul of the project has now become a body ripe for exploitation, and unless a change in course is made this extraction is guaranteed to only increase in the future.
T hat the original queer body of Mastodon would eventually be overwhelmed may seem to some as inevitable, and indeed, it is an unresolved question as to whether maintaining such an exclusive base was even desirable, given the history of conflict and harassment on the site. But one does not need to chop down a tree to plant a forest. We can celebrate the growth and diversification of the Mastodon platform while maintaining an eye to the community which produced it, and ensuring that those involved receive justice.
What do I mean by justice? Simply this: that the community which produced and shaped the Mastodon phenomenon be recognized for their efforts, allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and given the opportunity to continue to play a meaningful role in its development; furthermore, that they be granted these things even as, given the realities of demographics, they may never again serve in the majority. If justice cannot be served in this manner, then I ask that they be provided with the tools (data exporting and account migration features, at the very least) to liberate themselves from the platform and develop projects of their own, without losing in the process the labor and communities that they have worked to produce over these past months.
These requests are for the most part things which might rightly be expected for any marginalized population, and are linked to ideas of social justice in general. But the history of the queer community as the progenitor of the modern Mastodon project places them at a unique position from which to make these demands. If even they are unable to attain justice, the future for other communities appears bleak indeed.
As it stands, Mastodon is not well-equipped for serving disparate communities' needs. There is but one version of the software, with no established means of extension; there are no advocacy positions or research projects by which communities can make themselves known; the development pipeline seems hardly attentive to or even aware of the specific communities which its product serves. These are all things which will have to change for the project to be able to accommodate anything more than its loudest majority.
And while I am not necessarily optimistic about the response that these demands will receive, we must make them all the same.
Pocahontas
National Do Not Call Registry | Consumer Information
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 21:53
You can reduce the number of unwanted sales calls you get by signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry. It's free. Visit donotcall.gov to register your number.
Most legitimate companies don't call if your number is on the Registry. If a company is ignoring the Registry, there's a good chance that it's a scam. If you get these calls, hang up and file a complaint with the FTC.
The Basics
10 Years of Do Not Call
Infographic
How do I register?Add your phone number for free by visiting donotcall.gov, or calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register (TTY: 1-866-290-4236).
If you register online, you will receive a confirmation email from donotcall.gov. You must click on the link in the email within 72 hours to complete your registration.
How long does it take?Your phone number should show up on the Registry the next day. Most sales calls will stop once your number has been on the Registry for 31 days. You can verify that your number is on the Registry by visiting donotcall.gov or calling 1-888-382-1222.
If I register my number, will ALL unwanted calls stop?No, the Do Not Call Registry prohibits sales calls. You still may receive political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls, and telephone survey calls.
In addition, companies may still call if you've recently done business with the company, or if you've given the company written permission to call you. However, if you ask a company not to call you again, it must honor your request. Record the date of your request.
Stopping Unwanted CallsWhat can I do to stop unwanted calls? Make sure your number is on the Do Not Call Registry.
Hang up on illegal sales calls. If your number is on the Registry, and you get a sales call, or you get an illegal robocall, don't interact in any way. Don't press buttons to be taken off the call list or to talk to a live person. Doing so will probably lead to more unwanted calls. Instead, hang up and file a complaint with the FTC.
Investigate whether call blocking can help.
If you get repeated illegal calls from one particular number, contact your phone company. Ask to block that number, but first ask whether there's a fee for this service. If you get unwanted calls from many different numbers, look into a call blocking solution. There are online call blocking services, call blocking boxes, and smartphone apps that block unwanted calls. Research whether the service costs money and whether it's effective. Do an online search to look for reviews from experts and other users.My number is on the Registry, so why am I still getting illegal calls?Since 2009, the FTC has seen a significant increase in the number of illegal sales calls '' particularly robocalls. The reason is technology. Internet powered phone systems make it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to display fake caller ID information, which helps them hide from law enforcement.
What is the FTC doing to stop these calls?To date, the FTC has sued hundreds of companies and individuals who were responsible for placing unwanted calls, and has obtained over a billion dollars in judgments against violators.
In addition, the FTC is leading several initiatives to develop a technology-based solution. The FTC has sponsored a series of robocall contests challenging the tech savvy public to design tools that block robocalls and help investigators track down and stop robocallers. The FTC also is encouraging industry efforts to combat caller ID spoofing.
What are the penalties for breaking the law?Those who violate the National Do Not Call Registry or place an illegal robocall can be fined up to $40,654 per call.
Reporting Illegal CallsWhere can I file a complaint about an illegal sales call or a robocall?To file a complaint, visit donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236).
Will I hear back from the FTC regarding my complaint?Due to the volume of complaints, the FTC cannot respond directly to every complaint. The FTC and other law enforcement agencies analyze complaints to spot trends and to identify and take action against the people responsible for these illegal calls.
I gave you the phone number that called me illegally. Why isn't the FTC doing something?Current technology makes it easy for scammers to fake or ''spoof'' caller ID information, so the number you reported in your complaint probably isn't real. Without more information, it's difficult for the FTC and other law enforcement agencies to identify the actual caller. Nonetheless, the FTC analyzes complaint data and trends to identify illegal callers based on calling patterns. The agency also is pursuing a variety of technology-based solutions to combat illegal calls and practices.
More Details About RegisteringSomeone called and offered to put my name on the Registry. Should I let them?Don't pay anyone who claims they will register your number. Register for free at donotcall.gov.
Can I register all my family and friends?You should register only your own telephone numbers.
What happens if I register more than one number at a time online?You will get an email for each number you register online. You must open each email and click on the link within 72 hours to register those numbers. While we do collect an email address, it is collected only to confirm your registration. We do not keep it or store it with your phone number.
How can I register more than three phone numbers?You may register up to three numbers at one time. If you have more than three personal phone numbers, you will have to go through the registration process again.
If you call to register, you must call from the phone number you wish to register.
Can I register my business phone number or a fax number?The National Do Not Call Registry is only for personal phone numbers. Business-to-business calls and faxes are not covered.
Can I take my number off the Registry?Yes. You can delete your number by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the telephone number you want to delete. Your number will be off the Registry the next day, and telemarketing lists will be updated within 31 days.
If I choose to register, how will the FTC use my information?We collect and store your phone number so telemarketers can remove your number from their call lists.
If you contact us via the internet, we also collect your email address to confirm your registration. We store your email address in a secure manner, separate from your phone number, and do not share it with telemarketers. There is no need to update or provide a new email address for your registration.
For more information about the privacy of your information, please see the FTC privacy policy.
Problems with RegistrationWhen I called to register, the message said my number could not be verified. What should I do?If the automated phone system can't verify your number, please register through the website: donotcall.gov.
When I called to register, the message said the number I was calling from did not match the number I entered. What happened?To register, you must call from the phone you want to register. People in certain communities '-- such as senior living centers or university residences '-- have phone numbers that are hidden and cannot be verified by the automated system. If you live in such a community, you can register through the website: donotcall.gov.
When You Might Need to Register AgainHow long does my phone number stay registered?Telephone numbers on the Registry don't expire. We only remove your number when it's disconnected and reassigned, unless you ask us to remove it.
I moved and got a new phone number. Do I need to register the new number?Yes.
Do I need to take my old phone number off the list when I get a new number?No. The system removes numbers automatically when they are disconnected and reassigned.
What happens if my phone number is disconnected and then reconnected?
If your number is disconnected and then reconnected, you might need to re-register. You also might need to re-register if you change calling plans or change the billing name on your account. To verify that your number is in the Registry, go to www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.
If my area code changes or splits, do I need to re-register?If the phone companies change your three-digit area code, you don't have to re-register. Your new number will be registered for you during the 90-day period when both the old and new area codes work.
Where can I get more information?If you have questions or complaints regarding the Do Not Call Registry, please contact the FTC by email at dncconsumerinquiry2@ftc.gov.
[Note: Edited March 2017 to reflect Inflation-Adjusted Civil Penalty Maximums.]
EuroLand
Holograms, mistrust and 'fake news' in France's election - BBC News
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 12:09
Image copyright Getty Images The communications coup of the French presidential election so far goes to far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon who, with a flick of his fingers, appeared at two simultaneous rallies 350 miles apart and created more internet buzz than he could have imagined.
The technology required was nothing new - he does not have the money - but the performance was done with panache. Walking on stage in Lyon, Mr Melenchon materialised at exactly the same moment in hologram form before supporters in Paris. He then made a speech to both audiences for 90 minutes. He likes to talk.
Afterwards Mr Melenchon claimed 60,000 live followers of the event on Facebook and YouTube. Millions more in France and around the world read about the exploit afterwards and clicked online for a taster. In publicity terms it was magisterial.
The Melenchon doppelganger shows how - like so much else in these elections -- the communications pace is being set not by the mainstream parties, but by the outsiders. Of course these days no political outfit is complete without its e-guru advising on digital outreach.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Marine Le Pen leads the field in Twitter followers But in France 2017, the acknowledged masters of the reseaux sociaux (social networks) are Mr Melenchon for the far-left and Marine Le Pen for the far-right.
Meanwhile, on the independent centre, Emmanuel Macron has charted new ground by creating a whole political movement - his En Marche! (Let's go!) - through clever use of the web.
According to Benoit Thieulin, head of innovation at the digital communications agency Open, "what Melenchon and Le Pen share is a congenital mistrust of the mainstream media. They are both saying 'cut out the distorting filter and connect to us directly'".
Ms Le Pen leads the field on Twitter with 1.28 million followers to Mr Melenchon's 970,000, but he is way ahead on YouTube, with 215,000 to her 12,000. The rest of the field is some way behind.
YouTube videos have become Mr Melenchon's speciality, with a weekly review of the news as well as the occasional special, such as the five-hour spectacular he put on with guests and pie charts to explain his economic programme. He does indeed like to talk.
Ms Le Pen's team push harder in tweets and instant messaging, trying to influence the "meta-debate" with frequent interjections and clever hashtags, like their recent #levraiFillon (the real Fillon) on the corruption allegations, which he has dismissed, concerning the centre-right Republican candidate Francois Fillon.
With more than 60% of 15 to 25-year-olds in France saying they use social media as one of their access points to news, tapping into that flow of information has become a critical part of campaigning.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Francois Fillon has been the subject of hashtag campaigns from the National Front But - as the political world is waking up to discover - the greater the flows of information, the greater the dangers of manipulation, distortion and fraud. In France, as in the US, "fake news" is taken increasingly seriously as a threat to the democratic process.
"As more people go to social networks for their news, they are influenced by factors that are beyond the control of the traditional media. Credibility comes from the recommendations of friends or groups.
"The old architecture of hierarchy, which used to give context to news, is being displaced," says Jean-Marie Charon, media specialist at the Higher School for Social Studies.
Purveyors of "fake news" range from the merely flippant to the ideologically obsessive. In between are websites whose damage comes from mixing - often unintentionally - reliable news with the unreliable, thus contaminating the lot.
In France the website gorafi.fr is satirical in intent, but that did not stop an Algerian news organisation picking up its story about Ms Le Pen's plans to build a wall around France with Algerian money.
"There are days when gorafi.fr is one of the most referenced websites on Twitter and Facebook. But we have no idea if visitors take the stories seriously or not," says Mr Charon.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Emmanuel Macron's team recently said it had been the target of cyber-attacks Though there are fallacious websites that cater for the far-left (such as lesriches.info), it is the far-right that is most adept at internet manipulation, he says. The example set by so-called alt-right groups in the US is no doubt an influence on French websites like info24.fr.
And though hard evidence is lacking, many fear that Russia is joining the fray - either by parlaying "fake news" into the internet machine or, more worryingly, by hacking into party websites. Russia has history in France, having been held responsible for taking the TV station TV5 off air in 2015.
Recently the team behind the centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, claimed to be the victim of sustained cyber-attacks, which they feared were from Russian sources.
The theoretical motivation of such attacks would be that Mr Macron's main rivals, Ms Le Pen and Mr Fillon, are markedly more pro-Moscow than he is.
"But the real fear is not that the Russians get into the websites. It's that they hack into the personal mail of political leaders. Then we should be really worried," says Mr Thieulin.
To fight back against the scourge of "fake news", parts of the French media have signed up to internet alarm systems, which let readers check on the reliability of their sources. Le Monde newspaper's system, Decodex, has a desktop icon that changes colour when a website is deemed suspicious.
Everyone agrees that the influence of social media on French politics is growing stronger all the time. But no-one really has any clue how to measure it, or what it all means.
In the absence of guidance, the best bet is to be as eye-catching as possible: perhaps by making your own hologrammatic double.
War on Men
Male contraceptive blocked by drug companies who make billions from the female pill | The Independent
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 15:37
Doctors are on the cusp of launching the first new male contraceptive in more than a century. But rather than a Big Pharma lab, the breakthrough is emerging from a university startup in the heart of rural India.
Years of human trials on the injectable, sperm-zapping product are coming to an end, and researchers are preparing to submit it for regulatory approval. Results so far show it's safe, effective and easy to use '' but gaining little traction with drugmakers. That's frustrating for its inventor, who says his technique could play a crucial role in condom-averse populations.
A new birth control method for men has the potential to win as much as half the $10bn (£8bn) market for female contraceptives worldwide and cut into the $3.2bn of annual condom sales, businesses dominated by pharmaceutical giants Bayer, Pfizer and Merck, according to estimates from the last major drug company to explore the area. India's reversible procedure could cost as little as $10 in poor countries, and may provide males with years-long fertility control, overcoming compliance problems and avoiding ongoing costs associated with condoms and the female birth-control pill, which is usually taken daily.
Male contraception 'switch' can turn sperm on and off
It could also ease the burden on the 225 million women in developing countries, who the World Health Organisation says have an unmet need for contraception. Yet, so far only a US non-profit has taken up development of the technology abroad.
For Sujoy Guha, the 76-year-old biomedical engineer who invented the product, the challenge is to now find a company who wants to sell it '' even though male contraception is an area Big Pharma has so far shown little interest in.
''The fact that the big companies are run by white, middle-aged males who have the same feeling '' that they would never do it '' plays a major role,'' said Herjan Coelingh Bennink, a gynecology professor who helped develop the contraceptives Implanon and Cerazette as head of research and development in women's health for Organon International from 1987 to 2000. ''If those companies were run by women, it would be totally different.''
Guha's technique for impairing male fertility relies on a polymer gel that's injected into the sperm-carrying tubes in the scrotum. The gel, which has the consistency of melted chocolate, carries a positive charge that acts as a buffer on negatively charged sperm, damaging their heads and tails, and rendering them infertile.
Research assistants work at the Risug laboratory at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur (Sumit Dayal /Bloomberg )
The treatment, known as reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance, or Risug, is reversed with a second shot that breaks down the gel, allowing sperm to reach the penis normally.
The expected launch of Risug over the next two years will contribute to the Indian contraceptive market's 17 per cent growth through 2021, according to a report last year from Pharmaion Consultants, based near New Delhi.
The procedure is 98 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy '' about the same as condoms if they are used every time '' and has no major side effects, according to RS Sharma, head of reproductive biology and maternal health at the Indian Council of Medical Research. About 540 men have received it in India, where it continues to prevent pregnancies in their partners 13 years after treatment, he said.
A submission to regulators this year will seek approval for Risug as a permanent method of birth control. That will be appended with clinical data supporting reversibility, Sharma said. India has more married women with an unmet need for family planning than any other country, and social stigma and a lack of privacy in stores has kept condom use to less than 6 per cent.
Globally, men tend to take a back seat in matters of contraception. Almost 60 per cent of women in spousal relationships used the contraceptive pill or some other form of modern contraception worldwide in 2015, according to a United Nations report. In contrast, 8 per cent relied on their male partner using a condom.
A new option for male birth control could garner as much as half the female contraceptives market, according to research by Organon in the 1990s, when the Dutch drugmaker partnered with Germany's Schering on the last major effort to develop a male birth control pill. Demand would come from couples in long-term relationships looking to share family-planning responsibilities and single men looking for an alternative to condoms to prevent an unintended pregnancy from casual sex, Coelingh Bennink said.
The rusted sign on the Kharagpur campus hints that this is no Big Pharma operation (Sumit Dayal /Bloomberg )
Still, there were questions at Organon about whether it would be worthwhile financially to develop a new entrant in the low-margin contraceptives market, and the project was eventually shelved, he said.
Efforts on a hormone-based male contraceptive continued in 2008 in a study co-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UN agencies that was published in October. While the injected regimen's efficacy was ''relatively good'' compared to other methods, the study was terminated early after a safety review. The authors noted a ''relatively high'' frequency of mild to moderate mood disorders, sparking a media uproar over perceived double standards in the development of contraceptives because the side effects seemed similar to those women experience on the pill.
Bayer, which bought Schering in 2006, stopped all research and development activities around male fertility control about a decade ago, said Astrid Kranz, a spokeswoman for the German company.
Although an earlier clinical trial involving the administration of hormones via injection and an implant was ''efficient, with a tolerable side effect profile'', Kranz said, the Leverkusen-based drugmaker wasn't convinced this ''inconvenient'' regimen would find sufficient market acceptance.
Male contraception isn't an area of active research for Pfizer and Merck either, representatives said. Both companies sell products for female fertility control.
Side effects aside, it would take about $100m and 10 years to bring a hormone-based male birth control pill to market '' a low-priority undertaking for pharmaceutical executives, Coelingh Bennink said.
That's now the dilemma Indian inventor Guha faces.
''In doing anything abroad, quite substantial money is required, and that can only come from the pharmaceutical industry,'' Guha said, surrounded by dusty stacks of paper, books and prototype inventions that bury every surface in his office at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) west of Kolkata.
In the face of disinterest from the pharmaceutical industry, Guha licensed the technology to the Parsemus Foundation, a US-based non-profit, to help establish a market for it outside India, he said.
Parsemus is working on its own version, called Vasalgel, that it plans to manufacture and distribute at near cost '' or potentially $10 to $20 per person in low- and middle-income countries '' and $400 to $600 per person in wealthier markets, Elaine Lissner, the foundation's founder, said in an email.
The foundation, based in Berkeley, California, is seeking donations to fund costly human trials starting next year after a study in 16 rhesus monkeys published last month showed Vasalgel was successful in preventing conception while the primates fraternised with females for 5 to 24 months.
Guha meantime has registered a startup in India called IcubedG Ideas Pvt. Ltd, through which he is pushing ahead with introducing the technology in his home country. He leased space in a New Delhi industrial zone in January after developing a method of mass production using a government grant. Three couples who participated in the clinical trials gathered in his Kharagpur office in February to attest to the need.
Kinkar Ari, a 39-year-old day labourer from a nearby village, said that when he and his wife Aloka decided they didn't want more children they had a choice between tubal ligation for her or vasectomy for him, but neither could afford the time off to recuperate from the surgery.
When a public health worker told the couple about Guha's promising alternative, Ari decided to enrol in the study. The injection took 15 minutes with some local anesthesia, and after half an hour of observation at the clinic, he said he was able to walk the 2.5 kilometres home. Two days later, he was back at work. Ari was so enthused by the procedure, he convinced two other couples to have it done, he said.
Stories like that encourage Guha to persist with the project, he said, even though patents on his invention have long since expired and he won't see any personal financial gain even if it takes off worldwide.
''Why should the burden be borne by the female only?'' he said in his office after the three couples had left. ''There has to be an equal partnership.''
'' With assistance from Jared S Hopkins and Johannes Koch.
Bloomberg
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North Korea threatens Australia with nuclear strike over sanctions comments - myGC.com.au
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 13:27
NORTH Korea has threatened to hit Australia with a nuclear strike if it continues to follow the United States.
The stern warning comes after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Thursday that the rogue nuclear-armed nation would be hit with further Australian sanctions as a clear message that its behaviour will not be tolerated.
Ms Bishop also called on China to do more to pressure North Korea into stamping out its hostile and aggressive ways and dumping its nuclear warheads and ballistic missile program.
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In response to the comments, North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency on Saturday quoted a foreign ministry spokesman accusing Ms Bishop of ''spouting a string of rubbish'' against the nation.
The spokesman accused the Australian Government of ''blindly and zealously toeing the U.S. line'' and warned of a possible nuclear strike if it persists.
''If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle North Korea '... this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of North Korea,'' the spokesman said.
The spokesman went on to warn Ms Bishop to ''think twice'' about the consequences of her ''reckless tongue-lashing flattering the U.S.''.
''What she uttered can never be pardoned,'' the spokesman said.
''It is hard to expect good words from the foreign minister of such government. But if she is the foreign minister of a country, she should speak with elementary common sense about the essence of the situation.
''It is entirely attributable to the nuclear threat escalated by the US and its anachronistic policy hostile to North Korea that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to the brink of war in an evil cycle of increasing tensions.''
5 Eyes
FBI director James Comey arrives in Queenstown
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 07:08
FBI director James Comey has arrived in Queenstown for a top-secret spy conference.
Wearing sunglasses, a light blue shirt and chino pants, he arrived on an FBI chartered Gulfstream Aerospace.
Mr Comey was last in New Zealand in March 2016, when he met with Minister for the Government Communications and Security Bureau and Security Intelligence Service Chris Finlayson and Police Commissioner Mike Bush.
Before his arrival, a CIA jet touched down on the tarmac at Queenstown Airport.
And, just like a scene out of an action flick, two security personnel stood guard as a number of men and women in suits exited the plane before being quickly ushered along the tarmac into waiting vehicles.
A quick Google search of the registration number on the white, Gulfstream Aerospace's tail revealed United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) owns the jet.
The Gulfstream has joined a second private jet at the airport, acting as added confirmation that the "Government conference" set to play out at luxury Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown in the coming week, is a meeting of spying network Five Eyes - the global alliance of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
A fleet of undercover police cars and a security vehicle drove onto the tarmac ahead of the jet arriving.
CIA director Mike Pompeo is among members from 15 agencies believed to be attending the conference and may well have been among those onboard the plane, which jetted in via Wellington.
Police and security have been scattered across the grounds of Millbrook Resort this weekend, keeping a close eye on the comings and goings.
Millbrook Resort manager Ross McLean confirmed on Saturday that a "Government conference" was taking place at the venue but denied to provide any specific details.
"Millbrook is who we are because we do not disclose any information about any guests whether VIPs or just any couple," McLean said.
McLean said important visitors typically enjoyed the fact that the resort was quite a "relaxed area", unlike the "hustle and bustle of Queenstown".
The Herald believes the conference will take place for a week starting on Monday.
A number of police officers roamed the resort grounds on Saturday morning, while security stood at a temporarily blocked internal road that runs down the side of the reception area.
Marked and undercover police cars were spotted at various locations around the property.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Internal Affairs told the Weekend Herald that they were not involved in the visit, which was just as much of a mystery to them as the public.
The spokeswoman said if the highly secretive visit involved a head of state or ex-head of state, the department would typically be involved with organising vehicles and security with police.
Prime Minister Bill English's office this week confirmed there would be not one, but a number of VIP visitors.
A group of about 18 police officers and security guards dresses in casual attire were spotted outside the reception area at Millbrook yesterday afternoon and locals reported seeing snipers and bodyguards in Arrowtown earlier in the week.
It is not known which government ministers are attending the Queenstown conference, however Minister for the Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB) and Security Intelligence Service (SIS) Chris Finlayson's is expected to make an appearance.
CIA plane lands at Wellington Airport ahead of Five Eyes meeting | Stuff.co.nz
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:04
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX
Secret agents from one of the most powerful spy agencies in the world may have just touched down in the capital.
What looks to be just another private jet parked at Wellington Airport may in fact be carrying a plane-load of spies who are said to be in the country for a secret meeting in Queenstown.
The tail number '' five small, black digits on the back of the plane '' reveals the private jet belongs to none other than the United States' Central Intelligence Agency, also known as the CIA.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ
The plane, with the registration number 10030, was spotted at Wellington Airport on Saturday morning, NewsHub reports.
READ MORE: Leaders from the Five Eyes intelligence network to meet in Queenstown
The aircraft's arrival ties in with an event in Queenstown, where a top-secret meeting of the Five Eyes nations is being held.
Five Eyes is the name of the global spying alliance of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Officials from the world's largest spy network are meeting in Arrowtown, near Queenstown, where a massive security operation is underway.
Government officials are refusing to confirm details or provide names, but police confirmed no former head of state would be visiting, after the rumour mill tipped the visitor could be Barack Obama, with Microsoft founder Bill Gates' name also put into the mix.
Stuff
Shut Up Slave!
Hash browns recalled for possible contamination with golf balls | FOX25
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 12:40
by:Joy Johnston, Cox Media Group National Content Desk Updated: Apr 22, 2017 - 11:00 AM
Hash browns sold under the Harris Teeter and Roundy's brands have been recalled for an unusual reason: possible golf ball contamination.
The Food & Drug Administration's recall notice says that McCain Foods USA, Inc. has voluntarily recalled frozen hash browns sold under the Harris Teeter and Roundy's brands because they may be "contaminated with extraneous golf ball materials, that despite our stringent supply standards may have been inadvertently harvested with potatoes."
>> Read more trending news
The FDA warns consumers that, "consumption of these products may pose a choking hazard or other physical injury to the mouth." No injuries have been reported, according to the FDA.
The recalled products include Roundy's 2 lb. bag of frozen Southern Style Hash Browns (UPC 001115055019) and Harris Teeter's 2 lb. bag of frozen Southern Style Hash Browns (UPC 007203649020). The recalled products were manufactured on January 19, 2017 and bear a production code date of B170119.
The Roundy's products were sold at Marianos, Metro Market, and Pick 'n Save supermarkets in Illinois and Wisconsin. The Harris Teeter products were distributed in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia and Maryland.
(C) 2017 Cox Media Group.
War on Weed
Cannabis Helps With Exercise: Study Finds That 'Runner's High' Is Real - GQ
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 16:27
New research suggests that chemicals inside cannabis helps fight fat and fit freaks to get fit.
While cannabis is best known for nailing your arse to the couch, some intrepid scientists are finding that it can actually be quite the training buddy.
Researchers from the University of Sydney found that tetrahydrocannabinol, the magic genie that gives cannabis its oomph, is quickly transferred from the blood stream to fat cells. Where it can chill for months, supposed as you work your way through every season of Game Of Thrones.
When you do find sufficient motivation to get moving '' with say a moderate 35-minute session on a stationary bike '' a curious thing happens.
The THC in your blood substantially rises: which is a bad thing if you're interviewing for a job where a drug test requires a sample but a good thing if you're trying to lose a few kilos as it means this fat is being used as fuel.
Science is effectively saying that cannabis could help your weight loss. As long as you actually follow it up with some exercise and good food choices afterwards.
Another study published in the American Journal of Medicine found an interesting relationship between cannabis and insulin, a hormone released in the body to break down sugars.
The more insulin you have, the more fat your body stores. It also prevents you from burning fat. The study found that weed smokers have on average 16 per cent less fasting insulin and 17 per cent lower insulin levels than those who abstained.
The key, apparently, to mixing training and cannabis is finding the right ratio of cannibidiol (CBD) compound to THC. Somewhere around 5:2 is the go say those in the know as this lowers stress levels so you can focus better on your distance and speed goals.
Sativa strains are best for energy shots while Indica varieties are motivation killers.
Ultimately, if you do want to mix these areas of your life, it's about starting slowly and knowing your tolerance levels. You could well end up doing more harm than good.
--
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CLIPS AND DOCS
VIDEO - (203) Conflict Fatigue, The VA, Refugees, Young Dems | Overtime with Bill Maher (HBO) - YouTube
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 03:28
VIDEO - (203) Glenn Greenwald Explains Why It Is "So Dangerous" For Journalism If Julian Assange Is Arrested! - YouTube
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 03:14
VIDEO - Mika Begs Jarrett: Tell Obama to 'Come Back,' 'Save the Party,' Tell Dems 'What to Do!' | MRCTV
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 02:59
MSNBC's Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski gave an fawning interview to former Obama Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett Thursday morning in a harsh reminder of just how differently reporters treated the Obama Administration compared to the current administration. Mika couldn't contain her excitement at getting to talk to Jarrett even begging the former advisor repeatedly to get herself, Michelle or Barack involved in politics again, to ''save the party.''
Read more of the blog on Newsbusters here.
VIDEO - MSNBC Unanimously Condemns Trump for Referring to Paris Attack as Terrorism | MRCTV
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 02:50
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
In the moments following President Trump's Thursday press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, MSNBC and its myriad of panelists swiftly condemned Trump for referring to the deadly shooting in Paris on the Champs-‰lys(C)es as a terrorist attack.
''President Trump said right off the bat to a question looks like another terrorist attack in France that we have not been comfortable to call it that or report that but we'll have more reporting upcoming,'' disgraced MSNBC host Brian Williams complained.
VIDEO - Fake News: Rachel Maddow Invents Missing Trump Inauguration Funds | MRCTV
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 02:45
***To read the full blog, please check out the complete post on NewsBusters***
A little over a month since her overhyped non-scandal involving President Trump's tax returns, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow took to her show Thursday night to invent a controversy involving 'missing' Trump inauguration funds. ''We raised a question about $107 million that appears to be sloshing around right now somewhere inside the Trump administration, with nobody accounting for it,'' she claimed near the top of the show. Her claim that money was ''sloshing around'' somewhere was based solely on her criticism of the inauguration being nowhere near as great as President Obama's.
Before slamming Trump's inauguration, Maddow glorified Obama's first inauguration in 2009:
This was the first Obama inauguration in 2009. It was immense, biggest ever inauguration, biggest ever event of any kind in the city of Washington, D.C. To pull off that inauguration, the Obama inaugural committee raised more money than had ever been raised before for an inauguration they raised tens of millions of dollars, they raised $53 million just for the inauguration. That broke all previous records for inauguration fundraising. And it broke those records by a lot.
According to Maddow, Obama's inauguration cost somewhere around $50 million. ''But let me say again, that was -- that was a really big, really unusually big inauguration,'' she asserted.
''Just as a matter of fact, it was much, much smaller than the one we saw in 2009, and it was of a different character,'' she mocked. She then proceeded to completely lie and misrepresent the acts that performed. ''There were no mega concerts. There were no internationally known celebrity performers flying in and having hundreds of thousands of people turned out to see them,'' she chided, ''I mean, the entertainment for the Trump inauguration was like, you know, middle school bands and baton twirlers, which is cool.''
...
VIDEO - American Airlines steward 'whacks' sobbing mum as she held twins then challenges another passenger to a FIGHT
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 19:38
A FLIGHT attendant was filmed challenging a passenger to a FIGHT after a sobbing mum was allegedly ''whacked'' on board.
The American Airlines steward shouts ''hit me'' when a passenger came to the defence of the distressed mother.
Facebook Surain Adyanthaya
A mum of twins was filmed hysterically crying after accusing a steward of 'hitting' her on boardFacebook Surain Adyanthaya
When a stranger came to her defence he became embroiled in a fight with an American Airlines employeeThe row was allegedly sparked when her children's pushchair was allegedly snatched by crew members.
Passenger Surain Adyanthaya, who filmed the shocking footage, claimed the flight attendant '''violently took a stroller from a lady with her baby on my flight, hitting her and just missing the baby''.
Adyanthaya added: ''They just involuntarily escorted the mother and her kids off the flight and let the flight attendant back on, who tried to fight other passengers.
''The mom asked for an apology and the AA official declined.''
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'I'LL KEEP KILLING UNTIL THEY CATCH ME'Facebook gunman who shot dead grandad and boasted he killed 14 others after leaving church taunts cops - as manhunt widens to five states
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STARING DOWN DEATHThe brutal murders, rapes and robberies committed by eight death row inmates revealed as Arkansas State prepares to execute them all within 10 days
A passenger on the plane was then seen getting out of his seat to confront the cabin crew about their alleged behaviour.
Heard saying he's ''not going to sit here and watch this'' before demanding to speak to the steward accused of hitting the distraught mum.
When an American Airlines employee then boards the plane, the man tells him: ''You do that to me and I'll knock you flat''.
Facebook Surain Adyanthaya
The video shows the sobbing mum asking to have her pushchair back after it was allegedly taken from her by crewFacebook Surain Adyanthaya
The have-a-go-hero stood up for the woman after refusing 'sit back and watch'Suddenly the steward lurches forward and points at the passenger ordering him to ''stay out of it''.
The pair then square up against each other before the crew member shouts: ''Hit me. You don't know what the story is''.
The row broke out on Flight 591 just before it departed from San Francisco on Friday afternoon.
Adyanthaya later posted another photo on his Facebook page appearing to show the woman being escorted off the plane with her baby twins.
An American Airlines spokesman said: ''What we see on this video does not reflect our values or how we care for our customers.
''We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident.
Facebook Surain Adyanthaya
The furious bystander became embroiled in a fight on boardFacebook Surain Adyanthaya
The crew member had to be held back after telling the passenger to 'hit' him''We are making sure all of her family's needs are being met while she is in our care.'
''After electing to take another flight, we are taking special care of her and her family and upgrading them to first class for the remainder of their international trip.
''The actions of our team member captured here do not appear to reflect patience or empathy, two values necessary for customer care.
In short, we are disappointed by these actions.
American Airlines spokesman ''In short, we are disappointed by these actions. The American team member has been removed from duty while we immediately investigate this incident.''
Last week a doctor was filmed being dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight with blood pouring from his mouth.
Dr David Dao, 69, was forced to leave the flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, so staff from a partner airline could have his seat for a connecting flight.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at tips@the-sun.co.uk or call 0207 782 4368
VIDEO - March for Science: Crowds join global Earth Day protests - CNN.com
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 17:58
Besides the main march in Washington, organizers said more than 600 "satellite" marches were due to take place globally in a protest timed to coincide with Earth Day.The march, whose beginnings reflect the viral birth of the Women's March on Washington, has been billed by its organizers as political but nonpartisan. The event's website describes it as "the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies and governments.""I think there has been a declining sense of what science means to progress. I think we take so much for granted," said march honorary co-chair Lydia Villa-Komaroff ahead of the event.
Demonstrators in Australia kicked off the day of protest.
In Sydney, marchers carried banners, many homemade, with slogans such as "Science makes sense," "Science-based policy = stuff that works," and "Climate change is real, clean coal is not." Another placard displayed the message, "Governments: stop ignoring inconvenient science!"
Chant for evidence-based science
It wasn't only major cities where scientists and their supporters came out.
Rebecca McElroy, an astrophysics doctoral student at the University of Sydney, tweeted video of a "mini march for science" around the dome of the Anglo-Australian Telescope in New South Wales.
Demonstrators also turned out in New Zealand cities, including Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin and Christchurch.
New Zealand Green Party co-leader James Shaw tweeted a popular chant from the marchers: "What do we want? Evidence-based science! When do we want it? After peer review!"
Marches were also held in Durban and Cape Town, South Africa, and in Tokyo.
'Broader vision'
Crowds converge Saturday in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin support of scientific research.
Scientists and their supporters were urged to turn out in force in London as well as other marches in France, Ireland, Finland, Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands.
David Johnson, 35, a doctoral student in London, said he was marching because he felt climate change was being sidelined by the US administration and that science was being demonized.
Another London marcher, 24-year-old student Rachel Denley Bowers, said science was important and that budget cuts affected research.
Roger Morris, professor of molecular neurobiology at King's College London, said: "These marches are brilliant -- a spontaneous, global response led by young scientists empowered by social media, keenly aware of the global challenges that need to be addressed if their world is to have a civilized, sustainable future.
"Insular populist politics, which have temporarily triumphed in the US and UK, need to be balanced by the broader vision of youth."
Katherine Mathieson, chief executive of the British Science Association, said she hoped the marches would be a catalyst for people to think about the role science plays in their lives and a chance for scientists to demonstrate the public benefit of their work.
"Protecting the government's investment in science, particularly when that includes funding for public engagement, is incredibly important," she said. "Science is not just for scientists, and I believe that all of us, whether we work in a lab or not, should have a voice on its future."
Trump's budget proposal, unveiled in March, outlined $54 billion in cuts across government programs to make way for an increase in defense spending.US scientists said they fear such a plan would have a major impact on research and science-based policy as well as undermine the importance of science in society and limit future innovation.
"It might have been ignited by Trump, but it's not about Trump," Villa-Komaroff said. "It's about the importance of science in society and continuing the support for the science community in keeping our edge."
CNN's Meera Senthilingam and Christina Zdanowicz contributed to this report.
VIDEO - #GE2017 | Novara Media
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 15:44
Jean-Luc M(C)lenchon has enjoyed a dramatic rise in popularity by calling for an overhaul of the democratic system. Could constitutional reform be the populist strategy Corbyn has been looking for?
Snap Election: FML or FTW?Matt Zarb-Cousin, fresh from leaving Corbyn's media team, joins Michael and Aaron on TyskySour to discuss the snap election.
#GE2017: Barbarism or SocialismAaron Bastani examines the opportunities and difficulties that face us after Theresa May's announcement of another general election.
TWT: Taking Back Control?In a special podcast, James Butler speaks about control and power with organisers of The World Transformed's 'Take Back Control' tour.
Organising to WinMichael and Aaron are joined on TyskySour by Jane McAlevey and George Woods to discuss how workers can organise and win.
Should Corbyn really take the blame for Copeland? An open letter to Owen JonesOwen Jones's recent video and column looked to Labour's rout in the Copeland by-election to question Jeremy Corbyn's future. Wider questions remain, but this open letter asks whether it's fair to blame Corbyn for Copeland.
What next for Labour?Right wing values have never had greater express consent '' so what does Labour do as many UKIP voters turn Tory, empowering Theresa May?
4 Reflections on Left PopulismIs a genuine left-wing populism possible?
AboutPitchingSupport UsAPIPodcastSubscribe in iTunesRSSArticlesAudioUncategorisedVideoIRLTwitterFacebookYouTubeTumblrLong Read#NovaraFMKilljoyFMPlanet CommunismTyskySour#IMOBastani#NovaraIRL#OMFGSarkarExplainersInterviewNovara DocsShon This WayTerms of EngagementThe DispatchThe FixThe Race
VIDEO - Maddow Says Trump Is To Blame For Riots In Venezuela | The Daily Caller
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 13:35
Maddow Says Trump Is To Blame For Riots In Venezuela | The Daily Caller
Politics
4:56 PM 04/21/2017
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Rachel Maddow opened her Thursday night broadcast by blaming the violent riots in Venezuela on President Trump.
No, you didn't read that wrong.
Rachel Maddow (Getty Images)
The MSNBC host thinks this past week's riot, taking place a socialist country that for the better part of the millennium has been an economic dumpster fire, are due to a man who has been in office for less than 100 days.
WATCH:
Yeah, sure, whatever.
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VIDEO - Cassini probe heads towards Saturn 'grand finale' - BBC News
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 12:53
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Earl Maize: "We can't leave Cassini in an uncontrolled orbit near Saturn"Cassini has used a gravitational slingshot around Saturn's moon Titan to put it on a path towards destruction.
Saturday's flyby swept the probe into an orbit that takes it in between the planet's rings and its atmosphere.
This gap-run gives the satellite the chance finally to work out the length of a day on Saturn, and to determine the age of its stunning rings.
But the manoeuvre means also that it cannot escape a fiery plunge into Saturn's clouds in September.
The US space agency (Nasa) is calling an end to 12 years of exploration and discovery at Saturn because the probe's propellant tanks are all but empty.
Controllers cannot risk an unresponsive satellite one day crashing into - and contaminating - the gas giant's potentially life-supporting moons, and so they have opted for a strategy that guarantees safe disposal.
"If Cassini runs out of fuel it would be uncontrolled and the possibility that it could crash-land on the moons of Titan and/or Enceladus are unacceptably high," said Dr Earl Maize, Nasa's Cassini programme manager.
"We could put it into a very long orbit far from Saturn but the science return from that would be nowhere near as good as what we're about to do," he told BBC News.
Image copyright NASA/JPL Image caption The remainder of the mission will see Cassini repeatedly dive between the atmosphere and the rings Cassini has routinely used the strong gravitational field of Titan to adjust its trajectory.
In the years that it has been studying the Saturnian system, the probe has flown by the haze-shrouded world on 126 occasions - each time getting a kick that bends it towards a new region of interest.
And on Saturday, Cassini pulled on the gravitational "elastic band" one last time, to shift from an orbit that grazes the outer edge of Saturn's main ring system to a flight path that skims the inner edge and puts it less than 3,000km above the planet's cloud tops.
The probe will make the first of these gap runs next Wednesday, repeating the dive every six and a half days through to its death plunge, scheduled to occur at about 10:45 GMT on 15 September.
Image copyright NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell Image caption The lakes and seas of Titan contain methane, ethane and other liquid hydrocarbons Scientists used Saturday's pass of Titan to make some final close-up observations of the moon.
This extraordinary world is dominated at northern latitudes by great lakes and seas of liquid methane.
Cassini's radar was commanded once again to scan their depths and look for what have become known as "magic islands" - locations where nitrogen gas bubbles up from below to produce a transient bumpiness on the liquid surfaces.
This is a bitter-sweet moment for scientists. Titan has yielded so many discoveries, and although the probe will continue to encounter the moon in the coming months, it will never again get so close - less than 1,000km from ground level.
Image copyright NASA/JPL Image caption Home: Cassini has just taken this picture of Earth - a bright speck more than one billion km away On the other hand, researchers have the prospect now of at last answering some thorny questions at Saturn itself.
These include the length of a day on the planet. Cassini so far has not been able to determine precisely the gas giant's internal rotation period.
From the close-in vantage afforded by the new orbit, this detail should become apparent.
"We sort of know; it's about 10.5 hours," said Prof Michele Dougherty, the Cassini magnetometer principal investigator from Imperial College, London, UK.
"Depending on whether you're looking in the northern hemisphere or the southern hemisphere - it changes. And depending on whether you're looking in the summer or winter seasons - it changes as well.
"So, there's clearly some atmospheric signal which we're measuring that's linked to weather and the seasons that's masking the interior of the planet," she told the BBC.
Image copyright NASA/JPL Image caption Artwork: Cassini will be destroyed when it plunges into the atmosphere of Saturn The other major outstanding question is the age of Saturn's rings.
By getting inside them, Cassini will be able to weigh the great bands of ice particles.
"If the rings are a lot more massive than we expect, perhaps they're old - as old as Saturn itself; and they've been massive enough to survive the micrometeoroid bombardment and erosion and leave us with the rings we see today," conjectured Nasa project scientist Dr Linda Spilker.
"On the other hand, if the rings are less massive - they're very young, maybe forming as little as 100 million years ago.
"Maybe a comet or a moon got too close, got torn apart by Saturn's gravity and that's how we have the rings we see today."
Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos
VIDEO - GNU social: What is a Federated Network (Federation) - YouTube
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 06:44
VIDEO - Diet sodas may be tied to stroke, dementia risk - CNN.com
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:42
The study sheds light only on an association, as the researchers were unable to determine an actual cause-and-effect relationship between sipping artificially sweetened drinks and an increased risk for stroke and dementia. Therefore, some experts caution that the findings should be interpreted carefully.
No connection was found between those health risks and other sugary beverages, such as sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit juice and fruit drinks.
"We have little data on the health effects of diet drinks and this is problematic because diet drinks are popular amongst the general population," said Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and lead author of the new study.
"More research is needed to study the health effects of diet drinks so that consumers can make informed choices concerning their health," he said.
The new study involved data on 2,888 adults older than 45 and 1,484 adults older than 60 from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. The data came from the Framingham Heart Study, a project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Boston University.In the older-than-45 group, the researchers measured for stroke and in the older-than-60 group, they measured for dementia.
"The sample sizes are different because we studied people of different ages," Pase said. "Dementia is rare in people under the age of 60 and so we focused only on those aged over 60 years for dementia. Similarly, stroke is rare in people aged under 45 and so we focused on people older than age 45 for stroke."
The researchers analyzed how many sugary beverages and artificially sweetened soft drinks each person in the two different age groups drank, at different time points, between 1991 and 2001. Then, they compared that with how many people suffered stroke or dementia over the next 10 years.
Compared to never drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks, those who drank one a day were almost three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke, caused by blocked blood vessels, the researchers found.
They also found that those who drank one a day were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
Those who drank one to six artificially sweetened beverages a week were 2.6 times as likely to experience an ischemic stroke but were no more likely to develop dementia, Pase said.
"So, it was not surprising to see that diet soda intake was associated with stroke and dementia. I was surprised that sugary beverage intake was not associated with either the risks of stroke or dementia because sugary beverages are known to be unhealthy," Pase said.
In response, Lauren Kane, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, issued a statement from the group that said low-calorie sweeteners found in beverages have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities.
"The FDA, World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority and others have extensively reviewed low-calorie sweeteners and have all reached the same conclusion -- they are safe for consumption," the statement said.
"While we respect the mission of these organizations to help prevent conditions like stroke and dementia, the authors of this study acknowledge that their conclusions do not -- and cannot -- prove cause and effect. And according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), many risk factors can increase an individual's likelihood of developing stroke and dementia including age, hypertension, diabetes and genetics. NIH does not mention zero calorie sweeteners as a risk factor," the statement said. "America's beverage companies support and encourage balanced lifestyles by providing people with a range of beverage choices '-- with and without calories and sugar '-- so they can choose the beverage that is right for them."
Separate previous studies have shown an association between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and adverse health effects, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and possibly even heart failure."This article provides further evidence though on artificially sweetened beverages and their possible effects on vascular health, including stroke and dementia," said Dr. Ralph Sacco, professor and chair of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, about the new study.
Sacco was a co-author of an editorial published alongside the study in the journal Stroke on Thursday."We believe the pathways of which artificially sweetened beverages would affect the brain are probably through vascular mechanisms," Sacco said.
"When the authors controlled for hypertension and diabetes and obesity the effects diminish, which implies that some of the effects of artificially sweetened beverages could still be going through a vascular pathway," he said about the new study. "Many strokes are caused by hardening of arteries; and the risk of dementia is also increased by the hardening of arteries in large and small vessels. So, I believe the mechanisms may be through vascular disease, though we can't prove it."
Heather Snyder, senior director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer's Association, called the new study "a piece of a larger puzzle" when it comes to better understanding how your diet and behaviors impact your brain.
"It's actually really more of your overall diet and overall lifestyle that is linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk, and we do know that heart disease and diabetes are linked to an increased risk of dementia," said Snyder, who was not involved in the new study.
See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.
"We know that sugary and artificially sweetened beverages are not great for us. This study adds strength to that, and also says they may not be great for your brain, specifically," she said. "There are alternatives -- things we can all do everyday to keep our brains and our bodies as healthy as we can as we age." Alternatives such as regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates heart rate and increases blood flow and doing puzzles and games to activate and challenge the mind. These are recommendations from the Alzheimer's Associations list of 10 lifestyle habits to reduce risk of cognitive decline.
VIDEO - Wikileaks Vs The CIA - Intercepted With Jeremy Scahill (podcast)
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 05:29
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Archive this seriesBy The Intercept / Panoply. Discovered by Player FM and our community '-- copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio streamed directly from their servers.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange hits back at Trump's CIA director Mike Pompeo after Pompeo accused Wikileaks of being a ''hostile non-state intelligence agency.'' In a wide-ranging interview, Assange discusses the allegations Wikileaks was abetted by Russian intelligence in its publication of DNC emails, and the new-found admiration for him by FOX News and Donald Trump. Also, why Assange believes he and Hillary Clinton may get along if they ever met in person. And we premiere an unreleased song by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.
14 episodes available. A new episode about every 7 days averaging 55 mins duration .
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
2d ago 1:01:46 + Play Later
''-- In Play Later
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1:01:46
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange hits back at Trump's CIA director Mike Pompeo after Pompeo accused Wikileaks of being a ''hostile non-state intelligence agency.'' In a wide-ranging interview, Assange discusses the allegations Wikileaks was abetted by Russian intelligence in its publication of DNC emails, and the new-found admiration for him by F ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
9d ago 59:29 + Play Later
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59:29
Nothing brings warmongers, hawks and elites from both parties closer than a cruise missile strike. This week's Intercepted will piss off Assad supporters and the Democrats and Republicans fawning over Trump's newest war. Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich questions the official story on the chemical weapons attack. Murtaza Hussain on what Assad ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
16d ago 57:08 + Play Later
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57:08
Erik Prince'--the most infamous mercenary in modern U.S. history'--is Trump's secret emissary. This week, an exclusive interview with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who has fought a decades-long battle against Prince. Tavis Smiley talks about the ''Santa Claus-ification'' of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of King's militant speech against t ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
23d ago 55:17 + Play Later
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55:17
Donald Trump officially rejects climate change and unofficially declares war on planet Earth. Naomi Klein takes us on a terrifying journey into Trump's real life version of The Purge. Boots Riley of The Coup discusses Trump and hip hop and performs. Murtaza Hussain talks about the US bombings in Iraq and Syria that have killed 1,000 civilians i ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
30d ago 58:08 + Play Later
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58:08
Donald Trump has not started any new wars'... yet. But his administration is pouring gasoline on several initiated by his predecessors. This week on Intercepted: US forces are deploying in Syria, as drone strikes expand in Yemen. And Russia and Iran loom over everything. We talk to veteran war correspondents Anand Gopal and Iona Craig. Glenn Green ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
1M ago 52:16 + Play Later
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52:16
This week, Intercepted is live from the SXSW Festival in Austin. Edward Snowden joins us via video feed from Moscow. He discusses Trump's allegations of Obama's wiretapping, analyzes some of the CIA's hacking capabilities, and blasts critics who accuse him of being a Russian agent. And we talk to Libyan-American hip hop artist Kayem, who was fo ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
1M ago 1:06:27 + Play Later
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1:06:27
The Notorious B.I.G. famously alleged that federal agents were mad because he was flagrant. Trump also believes he has beef with the Feds, accusing Obama of tapping his phones. The Intercept's Matthew Cole and journalist Marcy Wheeler dissect the accusations and the (curious) denials. Sam Biddle and Josh Begley explain what the CIA hacking docs ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
2M ago 1:06:41 + Play Later
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1:06:41
Ex-CIA analyst Nada Bakos and former FBI agent Clint Watts explain how Trump's administration could use ''alternative intelligence'' to justify dangerous military actions. Shane Bauer of Mother Jones breaks down the connections between immigration raids and soaring private prison profits. Plus the world premiere of a song by the Iraqi-Canadian hi ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
2M ago 1:06:54 + Play Later
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1:06:54
New York Times investigative reporter James Risen breaks down Trump's declaration that journalists are the enemy and analyzes Trump's royal court. ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio and former New England Patriots star Dont(C) Stallworth talk about the war on the transgender community and the rising resistance of pro athletes. Sam Biddle exposes the Trum ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
2M ago 1:01:03 + Play Later
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1:01:03
The first contestant in Donald Trump's reality administration has left the West Wing. This week, Glenn Greenwald offers some provocative pushback on the Russia fear-mongering surrounding Gen. Michael Flynn's resignation (or firing). Naomi Klein walks the dark aisles of the Trump family department store. Former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman, a key ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
2M ago 59:17 + Play Later
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59:17
This week, investigative reporter Allan Nairn breaks down Trump's relationship with the CIA and the killer assembly of neocons and right-wing conspiracists running the U.S. war machine. Princeton professor Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor dismantles Obama's problematic legacy and offers strategic advice for resisting Trump. The Intercept's own distingui ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
3M ago 52:43 + Play Later
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52:43
Donald Trump is signing executive orders like autographed pictures. This week on Intercepted: Two former senior FBI agents blast the ''Muslim ban'' and Trump's campaign to make torture great again. Constitutional rights lawyers dissect the (il)legalities of Trump's orders. Rep. Barbara Lee confronts the president's terrifying approach to governme ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
3M ago 53:58 + Play Later
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53:58
The clock struck thirteen on January 20, Donald Trump is the president of the United States and episode one of Intercepted is here. Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald and editor-in-chief Betsy Reed join Jeremy Scahill for a discussion on the crazy apocalyptic present. They break down Trump's attacks on the media, that insane speech he gave at ...'...
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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
3M ago 3:20 + Play Later
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3:20
Hear a preview of Intercepted, a new podcast coming January 25 from the people behind the fearless, adversarial journalism of The Intercept. Every week, host Jeremy Scahill will discuss the crucial issues of our time with fellow reporters, and outspoken writers, artists and thinkers.
VIDEO - Paris shooting: Gunman was 'focus of anti-terror' probe - BBC News
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 05:28
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Media caption Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet: "A man jumped out and opened fire on the police vehicle"The gunman who shot dead a policeman in Paris on Thursday has been identified from papers left in his car, but French officials are yet to release his name.
Local media say the 39-year-old lived in the city's suburbs, and had been seen as a potential Islamist radical.
The gunman also wounded two police officers before he was killed by security forces on the Champs-Elysees.
President Fran§ois Hollande is to chair a security cabinet meeting, as France readies for Sunday's presidential poll.
Mr Hollande said he was convinced the attack was "terrorist-related", adding that the security forces had the full support of the nation and a national tribute would be paid to the fallen policeman.
So-called Islamic State (IS) said one of its "fighters" had carried out the attack.
What happened on Thursday on the Champs-Elysees?A car pulled up alongside a police bus just before 21:00 (19:00 GMT) and a man got out, opening fire on the bus with an automatic weapon, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.
After killing an officer, the man attempted to run away while shooting at other officers, two of whom he injured, the spokesman added.
He was then shot dead by security forces.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Eyewitness: "I heard two or three shots... then there was just panic all around."Terrified eyewitness later recounted scenes of panic as they ran for cover after hearing gunfire.
The whole of the Champs-Elysees was evacuated.
Because of its worldwide renown and its large number of visitors, the avenue has long been seen as a potential target, the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris reports.
Overnight, a property in the eastern Parisian suburb of Chelles was searched by investigators, who want to know who else - if anyone - may have known about the gunman's plans.
What is known about the attacker?Paris prosecutor Fran§ois Molins said shortly after the shootings that "the attacker's identity is known and has been verified".
"I won't reveal it, because investigations and raids are already under way, in particular to establish whether there is any evidence or not of complicity (in this attack)," he said, adding that more information would be released on Friday.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption "Stay back... the area's dangerous", one police officer told the publicAccording to French media, the attacker served several years in prison for firing on police officers with a gun in the early 2000s.
More recently the intelligence services identified him as a potential Islamist radical.
Meanwhile, IS identified the attacker as Abu-Yusuf al-Baljiki, in a statement carried by its Amaq news outlet.
Could the attack influence the elections? The 11 candidates standing in Sunday's closely fought presidential election were engaged in a final joint TV appearance to argue their policies as the attack happened.
Marine Le Pen, of the far-right national Front, tweeted: "I feel for and stand by our security forces, who have been targeted again."
Centre-right contender Fran§ois Fillon also went on Twitter to pay "tribute to the security forces who give their lives to protect ours".
Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron said during his TV appearance that it was a president's "first duty to protect" and he expressed his "solidarity" with the police.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption People could be seen walking towards police with arms raised to show their hands after the shooting Ms Le Pen, Mr Fillon and Mr Macron have announced they are cancelling campaign events scheduled for Friday, the last day of canvassing for votes.
Jean-Luc M(C)lenchon, standing for the far left, tweeted: "I strongly feel for the policemen killed and wounded and their families. Terrorist attacks will never go unpunished, accomplices never forgotten."
Analysis by BBC's Europe editor Katya AdlerIt would easy to assume that Marine Le Pen - so outspoken about security, migration and Islamic fundamentalism - could benefit at the ballot box.
But anxious voters may turn, instead, to experienced conservative politician and former French Prime Minister Fran§ois Fillon.
Up until now four candidates were almost neck-and-neck in the lead in the polls with millions of voters still undecided about who to vote for.
It's hard to tell to what extent this attack will affect the election outcome, but centrist Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc M(C)lenchon on the far-left will be all too aware that few see them as foreign and security policy heavyweights.
Islamist militancy is a major issue in the polls after recent mass attacks claimed by IS, with 238 people killed in jihadist attacks in France since 2015, according to data from AFP news agency.
French candidates in last TV pitch ahead of vote
And how did the world react?At the White House, US President Donald Trump said people had to be strong and vigilant.
"Our condolences from our country to the people of France," he said. "It looks like another terrorist attack and... what can you say? It just never ends."
In the UK, a Downing Street spokesman said: "The UK strongly condemns the appalling terrorist attack in Paris. The Prime Minister (Theresa May) has tonight passed on her condolences to President Hollande."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to remain "strong and determined" alongside France.
VIDEO - Bill O'Reilly Accuser Perquita Burgess Speaks Out | The View - YouTube
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:18
VIDEO - 40 mins in Mastedon "Richard Stallman" - Lunduke Hour - Apr 14, 2017 - YouTube
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 22:06
VIDEO - Shooting On Champs-Elysees In Paris Leaves One Police Officer Dead - YouTube
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 21:20
VIDEO - Paris shooting: Eyewitness heard 'two or three shots' - BBC News
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 21:04
One policeman has been shot dead and two others wounded in central Paris, French police say, with the suspected attacker killed by security forces.
An eyewitness said: "I heard two or three shots... then there was just panic all around".
Policeman and suspected gunman shot dead in Paris gun battle
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VIDEO - Thousands turn out for Washington March for Science - BBC News
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 12:48
The first-ever March for Science, timed to coincide with Earth Day, has seen rallies held across the world.
The main event was held in Washington DC.
Organisers said it was a celebration of science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community.
VIDEO - re:publica 2015 '' Eric King: The Five Eyes secret European allies - YouTube
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